Monday, January 31, 2005


S-l-o-w On The Draw

The headline of the day?

Europe to step up Iraq security effort (Intl Herald Tribune)

European Union governments, which were divided over the U.S.-led war against Iraq, pulled together Monday and agreed to step up efforts to improve security after Iraqis held their first democratic elections in 50 years.
Better late than never, but not by much.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


The Seventh Serving Man

To help our Leftie friends overcome their anger, I have taken the liberty of updating Kipling's little ditty, with the only advice they will ever really need to effect their movement's much-needed reformation:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

And when mistakes do find me
(alone or within groups)
The seventh will remind me
That I should just say "oops!"

Take it to heart and it will never fail you.


The DU Future

In honor of all the DU material being rapidly removed in order to avoid facing the reality of the successful Iraq elections, I thought I'd check my crystal ball, and see what they would be saying in the future, but all I found there was:

<Site Deleted>The Democratic Underground is down for a philosophical maintenance and reorg procedure. Please check back tomorrow.</Site Deleted>


The Missing Question

How do we know the Iraq elections were something truly special and historic? Well, what's the first question we normally ask about any other election, the question that you just don't hear about Iraq right now?

"Who won?"

The answer is all of them.


Critters Of Habit

Steyn says it best:

But look beyond the numbers. When you consider the behavior of the Shia and Kurdish parties, they've been remarkably shrewd, restrained and responsible. They don't want to blow their big rendezvous with history and rejoin the rest of the Middle East in the fetid swamp of stable despotism. The naysayers in the Democratic Party and the U.S. media are so obsessed with Rumsfeld getting this wrong and Condi getting that wrong and Bush getting everything wrong that they've failed to notice just how surefooted both the Kurds and Shiites have been -- which in the end is far more important.
The Dems seem determined to misunderestimate yet another opponent, seeing as it's worked out so well for them so far.


Iraq Now A Democracy

The Left, almost disintegrating from envy, are now largely trying to either ignore or badmouth the successful Iraqi elections. If Kerry or Clinton couldda pulled off such a feat, the Left'd be canonizing them by now; instead, it was their political rivals who won the day with a triumph of historical proportions. Sorry, Lefties, no glory for you.

And John Kerry? He just said, on Meet The Press, that he was for the elections all along. Gee, thanks, John, it's nice to know that now.

These are some of the great moments of history we're witnessing. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Never Make A Law You Can't Enforce

Mswati III, King of Swaziland, has banned sex.

This is not a test:

Some 39 per cent of adult Swazis are infected with HIV/ Aids, the highest proportion in the world. King Mswati responded to the crisis in 2001 by banning virgins from having sex for five years. Any man caught deflowering a virgin would be fined one cow.

This law proved too rigorous for the king. Months later, he chose a 17-year old bride and fined himself one cow.
He now faces "rare popular protest."


Hat Tip: Daimnations


Some Problems Can Be Fixed With Duct Tape, Some Can't

Europe & the US (Western Canada, too, by the way) certainly have different strokes. Consider these two stories, side by side: the murder of Anna Lindh in Sweden, and the more recent subduing of a troubling passenger on a plane:

The Murder Of Anna LindhThe Story Of Flight 2161
There seem to have been an awful lot of bystanders to Lindh's stabbing -- in broad daylight, in a crowded Stockholm department store, after being pursued by her assailant up an escalator. Granted that most of the people bystanding around were women, it still seems odd -- at least from this side of the Atlantic -- that no one attempted to intervene or halt the blood-drenched killer as he calmly left the store.

Nobody. Did. A. Thing. I can't comprehend that. How can you just stand there as a murderer walks by? How can you even let this sort of thing happen? SHE WAS BEING PURSUED UP AN ESCALATOR AND NOBODY STEPPED IN TO HELP!
Passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight helped wrestle a fellow passenger to the floor Tuesday night after he tried to force his way into the cockpit, law enforcement officials said.


"They used duct tape to tie him up," FBI spokeswoman Judy Orijuela said.

Egyed was charged with interfering with a flight crew, she said.

The pilot did not declare an emergency, and the plane landed without further incident at 9:45 p.m. ET in West Palm Beach.

Me, I like any story where duct tape is involved, but which approach do you prefer?


If It Were Your Father...?

Imagine your father had heart disease and had to stay warm. Imagine, too, that circumstances demanded that he had to sit outside, in winter for a time.

Would you want him to wear his parka?

Vice President Dick Cheney raised eyebrows on Friday for wearing an olive-drab parka, hiking boots and knit ski cap to represent the United States at a solemn ceremony remembering the liberation of Auschwitz.
I would. BTW, I grew up on the Canadian Prairies, in Winnipeg, the coldest city outside of Siberia (Oh yeah, you bet I've looked that up, like everyone else where I lived).

You think you know cold? You don't. Do your feet hurt more right when you take your skates off, or afterwards? When your eyelashes (top & bottom) freeze together, what do you do? Is a river ever too frozen to walk across? Do you know how to "plug in" your car, or why you should take the bus in spring?

Cheney, with heart disease, wore his parka in the cold. It was almost ten degrees colder at Auschwitz than it had been at the inaugural (I looked that up too). And windier, which means everything in that kinda weather. He made the right decision.


Pyrrhic Victory?

Be careful what you wish for...

Budding Indian filmmaker Ashvin Kumar is nervous and excited as India’s hopes of winning its first Oscar next month rest on his shoulders.
Remember, Kumar, awards are for the benefit of the giver, not the receiver.


Denial, Egypt, etc.


The American Coptic Union, and Egyptian Coptic Christians are shocked and disturbed by the latest Jersey City Police, and Hudson County Prosecutor Office report, “No Proof of Religious Hatred in JC Family Slay “ that was the report title by 1010 WINS.
reminds me so much of this
The gunman who opened fire inside Los Angeles International Airport killing two people and injuring several others was tentatively identified late Thursday as an Egyptian immigrant who lived in Southern California for 10 years and did not appear to have any connections to Middle East terrorist groups.
Are the authorities trying to look foolish?


Tolerating Intolerance

Is it just me, or are the self-anointed getting out of hand?

PARTS of central Edinburgh will be turned into virtual no-go areas in the biggest police operation ever mounted in Scotland when world leaders gather for the G8 summit in July, it emerged yesterday.

The police are expected to lock down a campus around the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse to protect both buildings from the thousands of demonstrators who will descend on the capital for the summit.
Maybe it's time to take back the streets from those who chant "take back the streets."

Just sayin'....


Widening The Channel

This has been building for a while now:

Tony Blair yesterday risked a fresh row when he branded the policies of Jacques Chirac, the French president, as "dangerous" and "pathetic".
Marriage counselors will tell you that they can spot the doomed marriages very early. It's not the ones who fight, or even disagree. It's the ones who show contempt or ridicule for each other, and use words such as "pathetic."

Methinks Britain ain't gonna join the EU after all.


Dare Not Speak His Name

Are the Christophobes (a term that can no longer be used ironically) getting out of hand? You decide.

UPDATE: see also this.


K.I.S.S. me, I Have A Life

This is typical:

With several member states beginning the long path to ratification of the European Constitution, a new poll has shown that a high percentage of EU citizens feel they know little about its content and a third are completely unaware of the document.

A eurobarometer poll due to be published next week, and obtained by the EUobserver, says that just 11 percent of EU citizens have heard of the Constitution and feel they know its contents.
Political keeners have a hard time understanding that most people have a life outside of politics, prefer it that way, and just want to make few simple political decisions on who will represent them.


A Heretic's Fate

David Bell is a heretic:

David Bell, the chief inspector of schools, angered Muslim leaders yesterday when he accused many Islamic schools of undermining the coherence of British society.

The growing number of Muslim schools must adapt their teaching to ensure that pupils learned about democracy and the political institutions of this country and understand that there were other religions, he said.

I thought the UK no longer punished "heresy?"


Return To Forever

Suha Arafat is a wanted woman:

Jarir al-Kidwa, one of Arafat's prominent cousins in Gaza City, said the family wants the two to return home because "life in Paris contravenes with Islamic morals and traditions."


"We don't want Zahwa to live in Paris and be affected by the climate there," Kidwa added, claiming that Arafat's daughter was a descendant of one of the nephews of the Prophet Mohammed.

The story continues. I don't see how it can end well.


Learning The Hard Way

Here's a question:

If the elite educational institutions are performing as badly as reported, wasting the students' time on political correctness and indoctrination in place of education, then shouldn't the value of such an education be in decline?

It is:

What's an Ivy League degree worth these days? Well, if you have plans to run a Fortune 100 company, maybe not as much as it was 20 years ago.


In 2001, just 10 percent of the top executives at Fortune 100 companies - the 100 largest by revenue - had an Ivy League undergraduate degree. That's a drop of 4 percentage points - or nearly a third - from the number of Ivy-educated execs in 1980. There's been some "erosion in the importance of an elite alma mater," the study concludes.
This trend looks like a good bet to continue for some time. One wonders how much longer the rest of the world will send their kids to the West for education.

Of course, one person's problem is another's opportunity....


Michael Moore & The Democratic Donkey

Too easy?

Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.


Well, We Like Democracy When We Win...

In Iraq, the terrorists say one thing:

Zarqawi railed against democracy as illegitimate because it is based on majority rule and pluralism.
But then, elsewhere, they say another:
“Hamas’s victory proves Islam is the solution,” blared a slogan from loudspeakers as thousands of supporters celebrated in the streets beneath fluttering green Hamas flags.
Make up your minds....


Bring Back The NHL ... Please


A Supreme Court of Canada ruling yesterday found that a Nanaimo, B.C., man was wrongly convicted of committing an indecent act in 2000, after he was spotted masturbating near his living room window.

The accused, Daryl Milland Clark, was reported to police after a neighbouring couple furtively observed him through binoculars for 10 to 15 minutes, then called police.
... is as good an indication as any that Canadians, deprived of their hockey games, have too much free time (er, amongst other things) on their hands. This is doubly true of lawyers and judges.


Shiny Happy People

If only we could tax irony:

Art, design and politics meet in Joanna Rytel's jewellery collection "Happy abortion-children". Her earrings, brooches, necklaces and rings formed as aborted foetuses, takes a stand for abortion. The idea can be said to be a continuation of her project "" on the internet. There many have told of the guilt they have felt after having an abortion. "I wondered about why this was and I believe that it is society that induces the guilt, particularly for girls. I want to do something about it."
Has "society" replaced "the bogeyman" in the modern world?

Friday, January 28, 2005


Thank You Hollywood

I think this is called blowback:

... a billboard blitz "thanking" Hollywood for the reelection of President Bush will be unveiled early next week.

The advertisements feature the faces of liberal Hollywood icons Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Affleck, Martin Sheen, Chevy Chase, Barbara Streisand, and Sean Penn, and offer thanks to Hollywood their help getting President Bush reelected.
I can't wait to see the movie.

Hat Tips: Betsy's Page and Polipundit


Hillary's Party


Harold Ickes, a leading Democratic activist and former aide to President Clinton, said Friday he is backing Howard Dean to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — giving a powerful boost to the front-runner.
The New Moderate Party today confirmed its nomination for president of party co-founder, Hillary Clinton, who is widely expected to make an official announcement tomorrow confirming John McCain as her running mate.
A Dean nomination would be one more confirmation that the Dems have chosen to move further left. Hillary might personally prefer such a philosophy, but her greater preference is to be elected first. And if her current horse can't carry her there....

Thursday, January 27, 2005


It Begins....

It's begun:

The first votes in the world in the Iraq elections were cast in Australia this morning.


"We had a line-up of probably 60 or 70 people at the front door at seven o'clock," he said.
Prediction: The elections will be a stunning success, despite any atrocities the terrorists might commit.


Jordan's Chicken & China's Egg

Jordan will be holding elections soon; not anything that might replace the national govt, of course, but some local elections nonetheless:

The king on Wednesday said he wanted elected regional councils established to help set development priorities.

"Each region will have a local council directly elected by its people to work hand in hand with the elected municipal councils in the governorates to set priorities, and draw up plans and programmes related to their respective region," he said.
Meanwhile, some years ago in China, Deng Xiaoping made a fascinating comment after the fall of the Soviet Union, one that has stuck with me since. I quote from memory:

"Gorbachev made a mistake. He tried to liberalize the politics before the economy. But you have to do the economy first."

A fascinating and, for some reason, unguarded comment. Might we one day dream of China following South Korea's footsteps: from dictatorship to democracy, without a revolution? I hope.

I've thought about it a lot, as we watch China's economic progress, and as we watch the middle east. If I had to bet on one country being ahead in 50 years, Jordan or China, which would I pick?

I'd pick China. Regular readers of this blog (hi Mom!) know my distaste for socialism, a class of intellectual virus in which I also include Russia's Communists under Lenin/Stalin and Germany's National Socialists under Hitler.

But, in the broader perspective, Deng had a good point: capitalism and democracy require a set of people accustomed to respond to reality, not ideology, who can think independently. And you can really only get that by dealing with reality on a daily basis, something most ideologues - socialism is based on ideology, not reality - won't do.

But capitalism, being the practical economic wing of libertarianism, provides explicit training in its means of dealing with the world, and indeed, in its own way of thinking. I've quoted myself on this matter a little too often of late (sorry) so I'll spare you a repeat, but the premise still holds: capitalism trains people to think for themselves, a necessary prerequisite to democracy.

Dunno which way China will go yet, but I can say that if it goes well, it will do so primarily because the prereqs were met, which will largely be because of the experience (albeit limited) that the Chinese have had of late with capitalism.

As for Jordan, I'm not as sure. Will they end up proving Deng's broader point, that true democracy is best preceded by economic liberty? We'll see.

I hope they succeed. But at the end of the day, I have to say that I think Deng was right, which also means that economic liberalisation (in the classic sense of the term) for Afghanistan and Iraq is just what the doctor ordered. Jordan should take note.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


It's Spelled F-r-i-n-g-e

As the Dems move ever further left and their moderates leave, the loonies left behind can exercise ever freer rein in their policy proposals:

An Oklahoma senator hopes to revive cockfighting in the state by putting tiny boxing gloves on the roosters instead of razors.

The Oklahoma legislature outlawed the blood sport in 2002 because of its cruelty to the roosters, which are slashed and pecked to death while human spectators bet on the outcome.

But State Sen. Frank Shurden, a Democrat from Henryetta and a long-time defender of cockfighting, said the ban had wiped out a $100-million business.

To try to revive it, he has proposed that roosters wear little boxing gloves attached to their spurs, as well as lightweight, chicken-sized vests configured with electronic sensors to record hits and help keep score.
Oklahoma is giving us a preview of what's to come from the Dems in the rest of the country. It's already beginning.


Chirac Seeking Imbéciles

France is in economic trouble and long-term decline, and his oil-for-food revenue is history now, so what's next for Honest Jacques?

French President Jacques Chirac has resurrected his proposal for a global tax to help fight AIDS.
I bet he'll want the UN to administer it, too. You remember them, don't you? The same guys who ran oil-for-food.


Italian Judge Spits Into The Wind

The Remaining Left, its worldwide support, outside of Latin America, steadily eroding (the US is merely at the forefront of the trend) is now pretty much dependent on the courts alone to push its agenda.

Exhibit A

An Italian judge has dropped terrorism charges against five North Africans accused of sending suicide bombers to Iraq, saying they were guerrillas, not terrorists
In the battle between an ideological judiciary and the ballot box, the ballot box will ultimately win. It's just a shame that so much harm will be done before that.


Amsterdam Day Job

I think this law, as much as the gun laws, illustrates the difference between Europe & N. America. I mean, reimbursing criminals for the cost of their crimes?

AMSTERDAM — It is often said that crime doesn't pay, but a Roermond man might beg to differ, having recently been refunded EUR 2,000 for the pistol he used to commit an armed robbery.


The director of the public prosecution's dispossession division, Gerard Sta, said it is possible for criminals to have the cost incurred in committing a crime deducted from their sentences, newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Monday.


He said the law stipulates that the financial situation of the bank robber after the sentence is imposed must be the same as what it was prior to the crime. "It sounds a little bit strange, but that is the law," he said.
Read the whole thing. The article notes that the crime must actually be committed in order for the criminal to be reimbursed. Now there's accountability!

Hat Tip: Tongue Tied

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Suicide Bomber Double-Crossed

Michael Ledeen says it best:

Back when Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, many of us wondered if the "suicide bomber" knew he was going to die, or whether he'd been told he had a chance to escape, and the bomb had been remotely detonated.

So here's a story from USA Today about a case in which the martyr-to-be thought he was going to run away...but they tricked him. Probably because it would look bad for the ideology if martyrs turned out to be common thugs who placed bombs and then ran away...
This guy got done to him exactly what he was gonna do to others.


Psychology Trumps Economics

Why wasn't this expected?

U.S. January Consumer Confidence Index Rises to 103.4

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in January to a six-month high after the economy added more jobs and incomes grew, raising the odds that spending will spur the economy.

The Conference Board's index increased to 103.4 from a revised 102.7 in December that was higher than first reported, the New York-based research group said today. Optimism about the current economic situation rose to the highest since May 2002, helping fuel gains in stock prices and the dollar.


Economists forecast the confidence index would fall to 101 this month, based on the median of 65 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey, from December's previously reported reading of 102.3. Estimates ranged from 98 to 107.5, and just nine of the economists surveyed forecast an increase.
The article doesn't say what sorts of techniques were employed by the economists in making their forecasts. Any? Or were they just guessing offering a considered opinion, the same as anyone else?


Why Not?

Why not just kill inconvenient people? Not just those who would kill you, like a terrorist, but anyone not in a position to defend their life?

Well, why not? Cuz it's already begun.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing

Once again, socialism demonstrates its results:

North Korea has cut daily food rations to its people to almost starvation levels.

The World Food Program says the cut from 300 grams to 250 grams per person leaves just half the minimum daily energy requirement.
No word yet on when the "Dear Leader" himself will also be cutting down to the same levels. We await the announcement.


Israel Plays The Card


Israel resumed building one of the most controversial parts of its West Bank barrier, deep in occupied land, in a move Palestinians said on Monday clouded new President Mahmoud Abbas’s efforts to revive peacemaking.
...looks like Israel playing its new trump card. They are reminding Abbas that they now have the ability to walk away from negotiations if his demands are unreasonable.


The Exit

Twenty-three terror suspects are reported to have been classified as having attempted to kill themselves at Guananamo Bay, it has now been reported:

Twenty-three terror suspects tried to hang or strangle themselves at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay during a mass protest in 2003, the military confirmed Monday.
Except now, when the commit suicide, they do it alone.


Iraqi Perceptions

Iraq watchers, here's an Iraqi election commercial, translated to english, but otherwise as-is.

Take one minute of your time & see what they see. You won't regret it.


We-e-e'r-e B-a-a-c-k

What happens when you hand off to the UN?

United Nations-run Kosovo faces fresh conflict if the international community fails to answer the Albanian majority's independence demands by the end of 2005, an influential think-tank warns in a new report. "Either 2005 will see the start of a final status solution that consolidates peace and development or Kosovo may return to conflict and generate regional instability," the International Crisis Group says in a 40-page report to be published today.
Now that we know, we won't make that mistake again, right?


The Selfish Gene At Work

This makes sense, actually...

THE risk of suicide is two to three times higher among men with low intelligence, and poorly performing offspring of well-educated parents are at the greatest risk.
... if considered in light of the selfish gene.

(and yes, in this case it would be a combination of genes and culture, but for sake of argument, bear with me in the simplification here)

A gene that caused its host to destroy itself would help to ensure the survival of the species as a whole by pruning out an unproductive member, but this would only be to the gene's reproductive advantage if the gene were almost completely widespread. Which explains why we all feel like throwing in the towel when we're down in life.


Men Only

What will happen to broader Islamic culture when it meets that most subtle of modern technological wonders: sex selection?

As I understand it, the Muslim fatwa issuers of the world have generally said that it is not OK for a govt to institute a policy of sex selection, but it is quite alright for individuals to do so. So correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure there are no major restrictions on the individual, or couple, here.

All the sexed-up demographic projections ignore this simple reality, but I fail to see how they can do so credibly. Extrapolations, especially those carried on for 100 years, are worth less than the paper they're carried on. The world is never so static, nor predictable.

p.s. For those who want to look up some sample stats to see where things stand today, beware: the ME stats are really tough to dig thru because of the large number of guest workers who are counted in different ways. That's why I haven't quoted any numbers. I tried to find some, but I didn't have enough confidence in what was out there.


They're Not Like Us, You Know

If you heard of an organization with a name like "National Collaborative Diversity in the Teaching Force," would you expect them to judge a person on merit, or group identity?

I know, too easy!

A recent study by the National Collaborative Diversity in the Teaching Force found that the race or ethnicity of a professor was directly linked to the success of a student.

The study, released last November, shows that students of color often perform better academically, socially and personally when taught by professors of their same ethnic background.
Apparently this "gap" can only be seen in the, well, intangible areas that are graded subjectively. In the hard sciences and engineering, it mysteriously disappears:
"It depends on the course," Tyrone Cherry, a junior in biology, said. "If it is a science or math course it doesn't really matter, but in a class like history, race relations or any humanity course it may be better to have an instructor or professor of the same race. The student will be able to identify where the teacher is coming from."
At least Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson are still black enough to teach.


Canadian Non-Content

While Americans fret about how sustainable their latest boom (now, in its broader sense, fully a generation old) is, Canadians don't have that concern:

The average Canadian worker is only about 3.6 per cent better off now than they were 15 years ago — “that's virtually nothing, really,” Mr. Drummond said in an interview.

“Extra effort doesn't necessarily make you feel better off and taxes have been going up so much faster than your before-tax income,” he added.
We never had a Reagan Revolution.


Villanova Expresses Itself

What does it take to get honored by, say, Villanova University?

Villanova University on Thursday will dedicate a new section of its library to a star professor and student favorite who committed suicide in August 2003 while in jail. Mine Ener was behind bars after admitting she had killed her 6-month old, Down Syndrome-afflicted daughter by slashing the baby's throat.
And they're gonna honor her? Oh wait, look what she did at the University:
According to the Villanova University website, the school will dedicate a "Mine Ener Memorial Study Space" in the school's Falvey Library in memory of the professor, who taught in the school's history department and was director of the Center for Arab American Studies at Villanova.
Politics had nothing to do with it, as you can see.


Big Choices In Iraq

It's a big election, alright:

THE giant ballot papers for next Sunday’s Iraqi elections tell their own story. At 3ft long by 2ft wide, each one carries no less than 257 different political parties to choose from.
Apparently, the Iraqis are not going to be hiring any Florida Democrats to help them figure it out. That might be for the best.


Two Girls For Every Space Guy?♫

How serious is China about its space program?

Shanghai plans to build a "space city" to assist China's ambitious astronaut program, which includes a space walk within the next few years.

The country's largest city will invest more than one billion yuan (120 million dollars) in the research facility, the China News Service reported, quoting Yuan Jie, director of the Shanghai Aerospace Bureau.
Very serious.


Dog Bites Man

This post is unremarkable because it tells such a familiar story:

Eight people believed to be North Korean refugees clambered over the wall of a Japanese school in Beijing on Monday seeking asylum, a Japanese embassy official said.
Now if they had been trying to escape the West to get into a communist country, that would have been different.


Melting Pot Beats Mosaic Again

Was there ever any doubt where multi-culti "separate but equal" politics would lead?

A large majority of Dutch people are afraid of Muslims, according to a poll taken after the murder of a Dutch filmmaker critical of Islam.

The poll, conducted by TNS NIPO in The Netherlands, as well as in Spain and Italy, since the November murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected radical Islamist, showed only 19 percent of Dutch people do not see the presence of Muslims in the country as a threat.
It's gonna get worse before it gets better. We'll know we've turned a corner only when an "everyone is equal in the eyes of the govt and the law, no exceptions" philosophy has well and truly taken hold.

We're not even close at the moment, but change is coming. The only question is how much pain it will take to overcome our pride.

UPDATE: Hmmm. Since about 6% of the population is Muslim, and presumably don't see themselves as threats, that means that only 13% of the remaining population consists of non-Muslim Dutch who do not feel threatened.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation Protesting Bush

The SAT will soon include an "essay test." Let's listen in in the test's development as they decide the criteria in this most subective of gradings:

For the first time in the 67-year history of the SAT, the March 12 test will include a written essay along with revised reading and math exams. For the millions of high school juniors and seniors who will ultimately take the test, as well as the thousands of U.S. colleges that will use them in determining whether to admit those students, the stakes in deciding how to score the test could hardly be higher.


Brian A. Bremen, an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin, notes that the writer provides only one real example. Nevertheless, he says, the writer displays "a clear chain of thought" and should be rewarded, "despite his Republican tendencies."
What bias?

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Hun Sen Wonders Why

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wonders about something:

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen regrets that the world's sympathy and aid, extended so quickly and in such great quantity to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, were not forthcoming when his country was faced with genocide three decades ago.

About 150,000 people have been confirmed dead from the tsunami, "and we regret their deaths very much," Hun Sen said.

"But if we look at the damage and compare it with the extent of the damage that occurred during Pol Pot's genocidal regime, it is not even close to 10 per cent of the extent of the damage and loss of lives during Pol Pot's regime," he said.
He's right. How do we tell him the real reason is because helping his country would have embarrassed the Left? Can't have that.

Hat Tip: Santepheap


Cold Dragon

Take a look at these pics from China. What do they have in common?

They're all indoors and it's still bloody cold. China flat out needs more oil. See those students taking exams in their winter coats? I wonder how many of them were studying petrochemical engineering?


The Crash of '29

A quick comment on the stock market and the //'s between 1929 and the present:

In '29 there was indeed a bubble, but - and here we can thank our politicized education system, amongst others, for some common misperceptions - it was not caused by rampant stock speculation; let's distinguish cause from effect here.

Then, as now, stocks were - to most people's surprise, actually - a much smaller market than bonds. Bonds are where the real money was, 15-20 times as much, IIRC. I haven't looked up the current ratio lately, but suspect it has changed little over the years.

Anyway, govts worldwide were in trouble, with defaults on the horizon. Bond markets were getting a whiff of this, but it took awhile in the pre-computer days for the information to make the rounds.

Guess what happened? As fear of a bond collapse spread in the marketplace, the smart money looked for safer investments. At first, that was in stocks. So ... what happens when even 5% of the bond money tried to move over? Remember, even 5% of the bond market is enough money to drive stocks thru the roof.

Stocks took off, that's what, to undreamt-of heights. After that, the elevator boys & everyone else jumped in, but they were merely chasing a trend started by others.

It is one of the historically "great" triumphs of propaganda that the crash was subsequently blamed on capitalism in the private sector, when its real cause was govt default in the public.

[I sure hope it doesn't happen again. There's a lot of debt in Western society at present, and a demographic time bomb to boot. If it blows, it's multi-generationally important that we not fall for the same trick twice]


Canadian Diversity On Display

One Canadian does the right thing; one doesn't. Kevin Steel has the details. Decide for yourself which one you admire.


Euro Stasis

This story...

"The EU continues to lag behind the US when it comes to entrepreneurship, a poll published on Monday (17 January) by the European Commission shows. The survey - conducted on both sides of the Atlantic - shows that nearly twice as many Americans are thinking of setting up their own business (28 percent) than their European counterparts (15 percent). Moreover, the gap appears to be widening. The number of people thinking about starting their own firm increased by eight percent since 2003 in the US, but only by two percent in the EU."
... is a direct result of the EU discouraging entrepreneurism and, indeed, any attitude resembling self-suffiency. If I were a young European entrepreneur, I would migrate (and I know a few who have).

Hat Tip: Dissecting Leftism


Ebay Plunges

Usually a 44 percent rise in profit is good for a stock:

SHARES in Ebay plunged more than 18 per cent yesterday, a day after its quarterly profits failed to meet market expectations.

Despite seeing net profits rise 44 per cent to $205.4 million (£110m) between October and December, Wall Street had expected more.

Shares in the online auctioneer dropped to $84, to be among the Nasdaq’s worst performers. Its net revenues rose to $935.8m from $648.4m.
Ebay's problem isn't its business, which is humming along. It's that no one could live up to the performance that's already priced into their shares.

It's also interesting that the terse phrase "Wall Street had expected more" is used, rather than a consensus forecast. Is "more" is such a ridiculous number it's not worth printing?


Hardly Fair

The Telegraph reports, with a straight face:

The BBC will be made to sign up to a specific commitment to broadcast news that is "balanced and fair" as part of its new royal charter, The Telegraph has learned.
I guess this is akin to the private sector putting out a "new and improved" product. What does it say about what were we getting before?


Monopoly As Stated

EconoPundit says: long as markets are theoretically contestable, monopolists invariably price as if competition were a present reality (that is the reason, incidentally, that Wal-Mart doesn't jack up prices once its competitors are neutralized; it doesn't want to tempt others into the market).
He's right; not that that helped Alcoa, thougn, back when it did everything it could to remain competitive and fair to its consumers, only to have Judge Learned Hand hang them high for it anyway.

Has there ever been a long-term monopoly that held together without state support?


Fausto Goes Shopping

Joy Of Knitting provides a glimpse into the unreconstructed world of the Italian Left:

Romano Prodi has recently presented his program for a centre-left government together with Fausto Bertinotti, the leader of Rifondazione Comunista, Communist Re-foundation (the name says it all). To win the elections Prodi needs the votes RC would bring him, so what Fausto wants Fausto will get. The list is impressive, if somewhat frightening. Heavier taxation, plus new taxes; confiscation of property, especially second houses, to house immigrants; total breaking up of relationships with the US and Israel, a resolutely anti-American, anti-Israel policy, and alignment with France, Germany and Spain; gay marriage, plus politically correct decisions about fashionable issues of choice; repealing of all laws passed under Berlusconi; nationalization of FIAT, Italy’s biggest car manufacturer; and last but not least, those living in large houses will be obliged to take in immigrants and their families as guests.
You could play a game of billiards on their learning curve.


Run, Al, Run!

Fresh from his spectacular run on Air America, Al Franken now contemplates running for the senate next:

"What is the morality of going to war on false premises?" said Franken, who is mulling a challenge to Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., in 2008.
This is too much to ask for. Karl Rove can't take credit yet again, can he?


China Feels The Cold

China, already planning to create its own strategic oil reserves beginning next year, is running into a natural gas shortage this winter:

Officials in power-hungry Beijing are considering ways to get over a natural gas shortage, the extent of which has not been seen in 20 years.

Supply has this year been ensured only by reducing industrial and motor vehicle consumption.
There's a variety of reasons behind the shortage, mostly related to the inability of the command-control portion of the economy to keep up with the capitalistic growth in others. But read the whole thing. And wonder no longer when oil prices rise.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Volkwagen's New Ad

It's politically incorrect (I think?), but damn funny.

UPDATE: Reader Katie tells me the ad is not really from VW, after all. I still like it, though.


Aztec Blood Libel

Were the Aztec really bloodthirsty, or was that just the Spanish propaganda of the day?

Looks like blood:

It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as history books say? Or did Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the cultures appear primitive?

In recent years, archeologists have uncovered mounting evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number.

Using high-tech forensic tools, archeologists are proving that such sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killings
I remember reading Marvin Harris's view of the subject, many years ago. He felt that a large part of the purpose of the killings was to obtain precious meat with which to reward the ruling classes for their support. The theory seemed initially far-fetched, but he made a good case. I mean ... what did happen to the bodies after they were sacrificed?


H-Cell Buses In Iceland

Further on my h-cell posting below, Iceland is now using h-cell buses:

Hydrogen, tested in buses from Amsterdam to Vancouver and used in the rockets of the U.S. space shuttle, is a clean power that promises to break dependence on oil and gas -- at least in Iceland.

"Sometimes I have to explain to passengers that it's just water vapor," the driver said of white clouds trailing after his bus along the streets of the capital, Reykjavik. "When it's very cold there's a lot of white steam."
This falls right into the captive fleet concept, also discussed earlier. Iceland's compactness makes for a good testbed. I wish them luck.

Hat Tip: Mirabilis


Zarqawi Knows He's Losing

The latest missive from Zarqawi is the equivalent of a losing coach telling his team, "Don't worry, boys, we'll get 'em in the 2nd half."

Iraq's most feared terror leader called on his followers Thursday to show patience and prepare for a long struggle against the Americans, promising in an audiotape posted on the Internet that "ferocious wars ... take their time" but victory was assured.
It's a telling sign, from the inside, as to who's winning the election wars.

On that topic, by the way, I also note the recent poll results from Iraq:
An overwhelming majority of Iraqis continue to say they intend to vote on Jan. 30 even as insurgents press attacks aimed at rendering the elections a failure, according to a new public opinion survey.

The poll, conducted in late December and early January for the International Republican Institute, found 80 percent of respondents saying they were likely to vote, a rate that has held roughly steady for months.

It applies to Shiites, Sunnis ... across the board. The terrorists might kill innocents and make headlines, but they are flaming out and they know it.


Mirabilis On A Hot Streak

I hadn't checked in to see what Mirabilis was up to for awhile. Turns out it's all great; check it out. I've been meaning to plug the site for awhile.


Shibboleths Rejoice!

Is it just me, or is there a certain retro quality to the rhetoric from the Left of late:

Please come and help support your comrades!! [my emph.]
Take a look: they're using that word a lot, it seems. Are we witnessing a revival?


Good Enough For Govt Work

Kevin Steel says it best:

On inauguration day in the U.S., Fox has updated the Yanquis Fleeing Bush story; Canada Awaits American Influx. Mostly a rehash. However, I didn't like this quote:
But, for the "disenfranchised liberals who are mostly the artsy liberal type," Foster had bad news. "There is no work," he said.
This Foster guy is way out of line here and he should consider that artsy liberal types are not one dimensional people. Many have different skills and interests, and therefore could find all kinds of work, with the government for instance.


Crocodile Tears In The Sand

I'll believe these guys...

Saudi King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz marked the start of Eid Al Adha on Thursday with a call on Muslims to disavow terrorism, which they said was taboo in Islam.
... when the madrassas that they fund teach it.


Russia Rearms

RUSSIA’S defence minister, Serge Ivanov, yesterday reaffirmed his nation’s readiness to strike terrorists outside its borders after the government allocated £3.5 billion in funding to buy new weapons next year.

The overall 2005 military budget, which includes new weapons purchases, rose by 27.6 per cent from last year and remained, at £9.9 billion, the biggest item in Russia’s budget for next year.
If it's terrorists they're worried about, then it's interesting what the budget is specific on:
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet session, Mr Ivanov said the armed forces would get seven intercontinental ballistic missiles, nine military satellites and five booster rockets.
None of this makes sense if the terrorists are freelancers. But maybe they're not...


Dictator Toppled Twice

Joseph Stalin is toppled for the second time:

First, Putin says it's time to rehabilitate him:

A NEW statue of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin is to be erected in Moscow, returning his once-ubiquitous image to the streets after an absence of four decades, a top city official said yesterday.
Then, in the face of pressure, he backs off:
Moscow has scrapped plans to erect a statue honoring Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and fellow wartime leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in a Moscow monument marking the end of World War II, an official said.
But it sure got Putin to show his true colors, didn't it?


Social Security By The Numbers

Long before Social Security in the US (which is of interest to Canadians as the model we generally follow) reaches insolvency, I figured it would have to become a drain on the general tax system, and thought I should look up the figures and do a posting.

Donald Luskin already did. And better. The countdown is 5 years.



Matt Rosenberg sums up the Gastown district of Vancouver, BC, quite well:

But one place I never, ever go in Vancouver is Gastown, a sadly tacky and downtrodden tourist trap, full of historical buildings and social pathology bleeding over from the neighboring Downtown Eastside District, where socialized heroin-injection parlors, rampant street drug sales, and prostitution have drawn one of every two miscreants in a thousand-mile radius.
The reason? Cuz we tolerate and encourage it. As for the rest of the city, it's gorgeous on a clear day.

Hat Tip: Peaktalk

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Charging For The Truth

This is fun. How desperate are the Lefties getting to avoid facing contrary opinions, in this case in support of an action the Left opposes?

All comments supporting the action will be deleted unless a $2.00 paypal donation to TalkLeft to cover my time to read them is made.
It's fun to watch them squirm. Interesting, too, that even the Left, following the lead of London's Red Ken, turns to a market-based approach when they really want results.

UPDATE: I should mention that is also a member of "Blogpac," in conjunction with Kos & Atrios. They support the Dems (no surprise) and describe themselves as "the first PAC to wage politics entirely online". See here for a previous posting of mine on the quality of their work.


Arab Woman Makes Brigadier

It's interesting that the Gulf states of the Arab world, with the exception of Saudi Araba, now seem to be liberalizing (in the better sense of the word) faster than the rest. Consider this story:

ABU DHABI — A UAE woman doctor, who serves in the Armed Forces, has been promoted as brigadier, making her the first woman in the entire Arab-Gulf region to reach that military rank. At a ceremony to honour Brig. Asmaa Sultan Al Ghairi, held here under the auspices of the General command of the UAE Armed forces, Noora Al Suwaidi, the Director of the UAE Women Federation, paid tribute to her.

The achievement is great as she is the first woman to be promoted to that rank not only in the UAE but in the entire Arab-Gulf region, she added.
We don't see stories like that from, say, Libya or Egypt.


Maple Leaf Corruption

Turns out that the Iraq War wasn't about oil after all, but the opposition to it was.

A related story was Canada's non-participation and lack of support for the US. Well, it looks like it was for the same reasons:

-UN hires Europe's BNP Paribas bank to administer the Iraqi Oil for Food program.
-BNP Paribas bank reportedly earned close to US$1 billion for its work .
-Congressional investigation turns up suspicious behaviour by BNP Paribas related to Oil for Food, including missing documents and improper transfers.
-BNP Paribas bank is controlled by Montreal's Power Corp.
-Power owns controlling stake in Belgian-French oil giant TotalFinaElf, one of the main oil firms working in Saddam's Iraq during the embargo.
-Power is owned by the Desmarais family, and run by Andre Desmarais, son-in-law of Jean Chretien
-Paul Martin is a former Power Corp. executive who purchased Canada Steamships from Power and is protege of Power's former boss Maurice Strong.
-Maurice Strong is a confidant of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
-Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, received millions from a Swiss firm, Cotecna, which was hired to monitor the Oil for Food shipments into Iraq.
-All of this is just a big, fat coincidence.
But the MSM here is much like it is in the States, and blogging is less influential (so far!); we'll see how much traction the story gets.


I've Changed My Mind Now

Sometimes, people have a change of heart:

The woman once known as "Jane Roe" has asked the Supreme Court to overturn its landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 32 years ago.
The symbolism is the most important element here.


A Bigger Target?

The more centralized the capability, the easier it is for terrorists to target it. You don't see them attacking individual cars the way they have gone after ships & planes for example. Theirs is a media war, and single car disasters just don't make the front page.

So I wonder if the new giant Airbus (how will they load/unload that thing?) will attract more attacks? Cuz if a terrorist group is looking to make a splash, this one is twice as big as anything else out there.

That said, if I'm flying and it turns out to be on one, I won't really worry about it.


Friendly Fire Polls

Remember those Dem-friendly exit polls that overstated the Kerry lead, promised a Dem victory, and have since been thoroughly discredited, not just by the election results themselves but by subsequent revelations about the methodology, or lack thereof, by which they were taken?

Reading the blogs, seeing the news, and observing the inaugural, it seems to me that the only lasting effects of the attempted poll-rigging were both negative for the Dems:

  • Their supporters were crushed by the real election results. You can see their pain: to think they had done it, had won, then to have victory snatched away after they had already begun to celebrate. I may disagree with their politics, but can empathize with the heartbreaking nature of such a loss.

  • Coming on the heels of the 2000 debacle that many claim cost Bush the popular vote that year (a plausible, though unprovable theory), it further undermines the ability of the Dem-friendlies in the media (that's most of them) to push-poll an advantage for the Dems in the future. And in a closely-divided electorate, the Dems - now a minority party in decline - needed every advantage they could muster.
The only poll that counts is the vote itself; geez, the old truism still holds, now more than ever.


Da Vinci Never Had This Problem

I'm pretty sure Michaelangelo never experienced this either:

A German museum is offering art appreciation lessons to Frankfurt's sanitation workers, after garbage collectors lugged away a public art sculpture recently and sent it to the incinerator.

Peter Postleb, head of the city's Clean Frankfurt initiative, claimed responsibility Monday for the case of mistaken identity, after garbage collectors picked up and disposed of what they thought to be construction rubbish.

Though indeed made from yellow plastic sheeting used to encase cement, the item was actually a sculpture by Berlin artist Michael Beutler. It was part of a series of 10 sculptures commissioned by the municipal art society and exhibited around the city.
Good thing they didn't leave their garbage truck parked there while they went for coffee - it mighta won an award.

UPDATE: Check out the first comment to see what I shouldda titled this post!


The Other Way Around, Thanks

Hindrocket gets it reversed:

This might be the sickest piece of "journalism" I've ever encountered. If Joseph Goebbels were alive, America's newspapers would be bidding for his services.
No, actually, he'd be bidding for theirs. The distinction is important.


Certified Capitulatory

The Dem crowd in the States seems determined to be self-validating. The latest is to wear blue bracelets if you were anti-Bush:

"It's kind of like saying, 'This is my tribe,'" said Adams, 43, a Kerry supporter, who was inspired by her 14-year-old stepson's yellow Lance Armstrong band.
Huzzaba green choke chains next, for all the dhimmi wannabes?


A Disappointing Chapter

Whatever regard I held either Lester B. Pearson or Joey Smallwood in has to drop a notch after reading Damian Penny's account of one of their dealings. Neither comes across as an evil person, just kinda morally flabby & unreliable.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Electing To Serve?

I usually try not to blog the same topics as the big guys, like Instapundit, do, cuz there seems little point in doing so beyond vanity-press considerations, which don;t really appeal to me anyway.

But this, from Lance Frizzel, is too true to ignore:

Back in January '03, you may remember a group of Western liberals who volunteered to go to Iraq as human shields in case the US enforced UN resolutions that Saddam violated. Key graf:

"...they are willing to put themselves in the firing line should US and British forces bomb Iraq. They plan to identify potential bombing targets such as power stations and bridges and act as human shields to protect them."

Well, I think I have just the job for these globe-travelers: Iraq Election Poll Worker. They are familiar with the terrain and people, they have a self-professed desire to help and they seem very articulate. However, their biggest asset is bravery. If they are willing to hunker down between Coalition Forces and a bridge, standing between a foreign terrorist and a polling precinct should be no big deal. Any takers?
Has anyone contacted any of the original "human shield" contingent to see if they're willing, I wonder? It'd be interesting to hear the replies.


Counting On The Press

Meanwhile, over at Powerline, Big Trunk sums up the Iraqi terrorists' strategy thus:

Make no mistake: The terrorists' strategy is not to win the war in Mosul or Baghdad. It is to win the war in the headlines of America's newspapers.
He's got proof.


Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

While Japan presciently takes the "broken windows" approach to a nearby threat (see the post immediately below this one), Britain says "break all you want" to theirs:

A FATWA against the author Salman Rushdie was reaffirmed by Iran’s spiritual leader last night in a message to Muslim pilgrims.

British officials anxiously played down comments after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Muslims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Rushdie was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam, according to the Iranian media.


Japan Beefs Up

Japan sends a message that it will not allow China to be the sole regional military power. China takes note:

Japan has mapped out a plan to defend a chain of its southernmost islands in the East China Sea amid alleged rising security concerns, a press report says.

The plan calls for the dispatch of 55,000 troops as well as warplanes, destroyers and submarines from Japan's main islands, Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan's national defense agency compiled the plan covering the islands lying in a 1,000-kilometer (625-mile) zone between the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island and Chinese Taiwan, Kyodo said, citing unspecified official documents.

In November Japan made public its new defense guidelines which explicitly point to China as a potential threat for the first time.


Meanwhile, Japan has been pushing for a missile defense shield with the United States.
It's not just the southern Islands per se; Japan is practicing the "broken windows" theory of international relations here.


Arab Free Traders

Remember, shortly after Saddam had been toppled, when Bush proposed extending free-trade benefits to Arab countries?

President Bush linked Middle East peacemaking with a need for economic advancement on Friday, offering to extend U.S. free-trade benefits already enjoyed by Israel and Jordan to other nations in the region within a decade.

"The Arab world has a great cultural tradition but is largely missing out on the economic progress of our time," Bush told graduates at the University of South Carolina commencement.
They're starting to agree:
The Free Trade Agreement with the US is in the best interest of Bahrain, new Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro told businessmen yesterday.

He urged businessmen to contact their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries and talk to them about the importance of this agreement not just for Bahrain but the region as a whole.
And, as noted here before, this can lead to a class of independent decision makers, just the thing for running a democracy:
Because with that liberalization, you also get a managerial class, people who are used to gathering reliable information, making decisions, following or bucking trends as needed. In other words, a class of people who are used to thinking for themselves and who can spread that habit to others.
It's as true in Arab lands as anywhere else.


Brother, Can You Spare One Damn Dime?

Here's a protest you won't see much of in the future, and I suspect even the current one will fail:

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money, and don't use your credit card. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Nor toll/cab/bus or train ride money exchanges. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Walmart, KMart and Target. Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down.
It'll fail cuz there's no glory in it. No one gets to chant their superiority, take off their clothes, or attract attention in any way. And what's a protest about anyway, if not a politicized mating ritual? As Vince Vaughn's character put it in the Jurassic Park sequel: he's really just there to meet chicks.

Besides, do the organizers really think they can get their supporters to stay away from Starbucks for an entire day? Not one damn coffee? This I gotta see!

Hat Tip: LGF


Rebranding The Bad Guys

Saudi Arabia cannot be convicted of terrorism by a mere judge ... says the judge:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, three Saudi princes and several Saudi financial institutions were dismissed as defendants in six civil lawsuits accusing them of providing support to Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Judge Richard Casey said on Tuesday that the president, not the courts, has the authority to label a foreign nation a terrorist...
And Reuters is self-authorized to re-brand them as "activists," "insurgents," and "militants."


A Most Perverse Legal Incentive

SWLIP opposes tort reform.

I disagree: though I can't really see micro-managing the legal system as the best approach to the problem, I do think the proposed changes will do a lot more good than harm.

But to really get to the root of the problem, you need to attack the perverse incentive that fuels it: i.e. that plaintiffs and their lawyers can indeed get rich quick by launching dubious lawsuits.

I'm not a lawyer, but I can sure see the temptation at work, so why not remove it? Since the vast bulk of the money, at least in the headline cases, appears to be from punitive damages, it raises a simple question: why should any of the punitive damages go to the plaintiff? The purpose of those damages is to dissuade the guilty (and those who would also commit similar "crimes") from repeating those actions.

Let me propose instead that punitive damages go to a registered charity. Actual damages (e.g. you smashed your car into mine and now I have actual damages involved in repairing my vehicle) would, of course, still go to the victim, and I would also have no problem in also awarding them reasonable legal fees.

But as long as plaintiffs stand to collect a pot of gold via the punitive damages, there will never be an end to those who would game the system, or their creativity in finding new ways of doing so.


Food For Thought

How rich has capitalism made our society? Rich enough that we argue over the level of subsidies we give for four years of party time! higher ed, as opposed to this story from China:

A female student at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan basically gets by eating leftover steamed buns and food she finds in the cafeteria. The school’s cafeteria manager, Zhang, noticed this behavior. When he checked her meal credit card he was startled to learn that she only spends 0.15 yuan (US$0.018) every other week or so. In all of 2004, she only spent 8.35 yuan (US$1.01.) The 0.15 yuan she spends is for a cup of hot water she gets from the water room.
When she graduates, she should send me her resume. I don't know or care what particular courses she's taking; people like her can succeed at anything.


Straw Poll

Jack Straw paints himself into a corner:

Elections in Iraq this month will be ”imperfect” because they will lack full participation, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in an interview published on Wednesday, referring to an expected Sunni Muslim boycott.

“Obviously the higher the turnout, the greater the legitimacy of the whole process. And the reverse is also true,” Straw told the Financial Times. “These elections are going to be imperfect.”
By Mr. Straw's reckoning, then, if Iraqi participation is higher than that in British elections, then the Iraqi elections will be more legit than his own. See where all that empty posturing has left you, sir? People choosing not to vote is fine. It's only when they are prevented from voting by others that it's a problem.

That Mr. Straw does not understand this simple fact is troublesome indeed. That he attempts to validate the terrorist suppression of democracy, rather than fight ever harder against it, is unforgivable.


H-Cell Probabilities

Andrew Olmsted discusses hydrogen cars of the future. But he misses a good point that an engineer I know - who, btw, works directly in this area - made to me recently.

The initial markets for hydrogen vehicles will be captive fleets that burn a lot of fuel going back and forth in a limited area. In that situation, a business can make a case for converting to hydrogen, including the cost of etablishing their own refueling station(s). For example, a warehouse could use hydrogen to power a fleet of forklifts.

We will know hydrogen cars are in our future, then, when we see a proliferation of captive fleets first, where the kinks in the technology will be ironed out and an infrastructure, such as refueling stations, can be established. Only after that will hydrogen cars become a mass-market item.

It will take some time - the engineer figured 15 years or so, and that's even presuming a cost-effective source of the hydrogen can be found to begin with. Between now & then, hybrids and micro-cars look like pretty good bets.

Another engineer I know in the field elaborated this even further. He pointed out that we'll see h-cells used in smaller "appliances" long before they catch on with cars. For example, a laptop h-cell battery that lasts 12 hours might cost twice as much as the lithium one you can buy today, but it would be worth it to many people.

For sake of argument, let's say half of all laptop users would fork over the extra cash to get an h-cell. Can we say the same about buying a car? Probably not.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Difference Of Opinion

You don't see this sort of thing in the West:

Vadodara, January 18: A mob killed a youth in Gajipura locality in neighbouring Kheda district, police said.

The youth identified as Pappu Rana was killed by the mob because his brother Vijay Rana had married a Muslim girl, Minaz, police said.
You just don't....

Monday, January 17, 2005


Geekiest Line Ever

While in a discussion on another blog, I tried for some reason to think of the all-time geekiest line I could remember. Here’s what I came up with:

Q: Why is Halloween the same as Christmas?

A: Because Oct31 = Dec25

(i.e. Octal 31 = Decimal25)

Pretty sad, eh? Got a better one? It's now officially a contest!


Is Our Memory History?

According to US Aid:

"Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 290,000 Iraqis have been 'disappeared' by the Iraqi government over the past two decades," said the group in a statement in May. "Many of these 'disappeared' are those whose remains are now being unearthed in mass graves all over Iraq."

If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.
Let me also add, just off the top of my head:
  • the depradations of Stalin and Mao (tens of millions each)

  • Indonesia in the mid 60's (another million or so)

  • Yahya Khan in Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, 1973, with over a million killed

  • The Congo, where several million have died from starvation & disease directly related to the fighting there
And I'm only trying to think of those where we count in millions.

Too soon we forget.


Homework First

So the US is scoping out Iran and identifying targets?

The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.
Good. Isn't that one of the lessons of Iraq - always push for better and better intel? And that's even presuming that the leak quoted wasn't designed simply to frighten Iran into cooperation, or to act as a diversion vis a vis Syria.


Rather Polarized

Now that Dan Rather was given the politest bum's rush in media history, who will replace him? Please tell me it won't be...

Katie Couric A network source tells TIME the Today show co-anchor has been approached about the job.
The media is openly dividing into the usual camps, with the blogosphere primarily conservative (i.e. based on classical liberalism) and the MSM its opposite.

The blogosphere has always been pretty open about its leanings, in either direction. I don't think you can find a single popular blogger who will claim objectivity the way the MSM does, a claim that nobody believes anymore, if we ever did.

Which leaves the two camps dividing, like two neighborhoods, and the more that people of one persuasion move into the one camp, the more their philosophical opposites will move to the other.

Prediction: media wars, which won't end until bloggers start doing most of their own original reporting, a trend that has already begun.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Meaningless Polls Mean DNC To Get Meaner

From Time, we learn:


At which point most people will say something like "yabbut the only poll that counts is the one taken last November." True ... doubly true in that Bush has no need to worry about his poll numbers any more, nor is that his style anyway.

However, the real significance of the polls is not in how Bush reacts, but in how his opponents do.

And the polls highlight the inability of the Left to take Bush’s numbers down below re-election levels, in spite of the most concerted media attack(s) we have ever seen.

As a measure of effectiveness, that has to be rattlin’ a few cages in the DNC, and will ratchet up the Dem Civil War between their Normals and their Loonies by yet another notch.

Other than that, sure, such opinion polls do indeed count for nothing … but it’s an important “other than that.”

Hat Tip: Polipundit


Devil With A Blue Dress On....

Dubai holds a fashion show...

Wonder if that wouldda happened under the Taliban? The times they are a' changin.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Racism & Sexism All In One

Not the kinda people you want for neighbors...

I made an Indian woman cry and promise to quit her job in 60 seconds. You can do it too!
Wow, you must be one tough dude.

So ... just why does our quotable Mr. Macho take such pride in making "alien" women cry? Cuz his politics make him important, that's why!
This is only a random (and printable) selection from the thousands of messages in cyberspace calling for a campaign to harass Indian call centre operators, to put an end to the offshoring of jobs.
Behold the noble activist.


Digging To China

Taiwan wants to discuss permanent air links with China, but the Chinese govt refuses to even talk about it and offers a mere handful of flight routes as a sop.

But they now propose to build a tunnel (literally) to Taiwan instead! Apparently, they see a physical link as strengthening their claim to the island.

You know, the way Britain now claims France as its own. Go figger.


Please No, Mr. Postman

"Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain't got time to take a fast train
Happy Days are gone
I'm a' movin' on
The Mullahs, they wrote me a letter"

Iran’s judiciary has ordered 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi to appear before the feared Revolutionary Court or face arrest, Ebadi said on Thursday.
Get outta there if you can, luv.


Easy Money Never Is

A Saudi man rapes a 10-year old girl and the girl's family calls for his execution (no surprise there). What's interesting is this comment:

A woman, who accompanied the girl, said laws should be amended. She demanded gallows for every rapist. “We want our society to return to the pre-oil era.
Rose-colored views of the past notwithstanding, oil wealth really hasn't helped anyone in Saudi Arabia; the sheikhs stole it all and used it only to tighten their grip on their own people.


Line In The Sand

Debka - rumored, btw, to have very close ties to Israeli security - has an interesting article on Syria, saying, in a nutshell, that if Syria doesn't stop supporting terrorism in Iraq, then the US has already approved the invasion of Syria necessary to make the point:

Assad and General Habib are both aware, according to our sources, of the near carte blanche handed down to General Casey to pursue military action against Syria as and when indicated by US military requirements in Iraq.

In this regard, DEBKAfile’s military sources note four important points:

1. It will not take place before President Bush is sworn in for his second term on January 20 or Iraq’s general election ten days later.

2. The Americans will not start out with a large-scale, orderly military offensive, but rather short in-and-out forays; small US and Iraqi special forces units will cross the border and raid bases housing Iraqi guerrillas or buses carrying them to the border. If these brief raids are ineffective, the Americans will upscale the action.
Dunno if this is true or not, but I would bet about 2:1 that it is. In any event, we'll know the score if ... presuming Syria pushes the envelope in order to see if it's a bluff ... the "in-and-out forays" begin (presuming they're not part of a bluff, too!)



Islam, it has been said, needs a Reformation. Well, if it doesn't happen, it won't be for a lack of advocates:

He promotes a reformist vision of Islam that accepts Western ideas, including secular forms of government. Women, he says, are permitted by Islam to receive the same level of education as men and to fully participate in public life, even as religious, political, and business leaders. He advocates peaceful resistance to the US-led occupation in Iraq, in contrast to some clerics in Syria's Sunni Muslim heartland who have encouraged the insurgency. And he rejects what he calls the "monopoly of salvation," the belief that Islam is the only true religion.

"We have to accept other religions," says Habash, director of the Center of Islamic Studies in Damascus. "Islam has to confirm what came before and not cancel [Judaism and Christianity] out. Also, it is not wrong to absorb new ideas from the West and East."

His views have put him at odds with Syria's conservative Muslim clergy...
Live long and prosper (current emphasis on the former).


To Get Rich Is Glorious

China is making a lot more money:

China's top tax official said Tuesday that China's total tax revenue hit 2.57 trillion yuan (US$313 billion) in 2004, up 25.7 percent on a yearly basis.
For comparison, US tax Revenue in the same period was approx US$1,798,093, or roughly 6 times as much.

But China is catching up at the moment. A currency revaluation (which, I've noted before, will be more gradual and less pronounced than expected) will change the figures even a little more in China's favor.


After You....

This has been covered elsewhere in the blogosphere, but it's still worth a mention:

A black judge in Baton Rouge announced Wednesday he is switching his political affiliation to the Republican Party.

A spokesman for the GOP said Judge Luke Lavergne's switch is the first time in the modern era that a black elected official made such a change.

Lavergne said the way he looks at it, he did not leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left him."
The first ones are the toughest; they gotta face up to a lotta flak. But after them it gets easier. That's why this is so significant.


Unfurling The Memories

LGF notes John Kerry's recent trip to the ME and titles it as "Kerry Kowtows to Despots and Islamists." Sadly, I think he's right:

CAIRO (Reuters) - Middle East countries are frustrated by U.S. policy in Iraq and feel too little is being done to end violence there, U.S. Senator John Kerry said on Wednesday on a visit to the region.


Meantime, Kerry admitted that the US committed terrible mistakes in Iraq. During a meeting on Wednesday with grand Imam of Al Azhar Mohamad Sayed Tantawi, Kerry regretted the difficult conditions in Iraq.

The Grand Imam urged all Iraqis to take part in the coming elections to be held on January 30. On his part, Kerry appreciated Al Azhar’s prestigious position all over the world, pointing out that there was a common ground between Islam and Christianity.

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar is on record supporting suicide bombing as a legitimate form of “resistance” against “occupiers.”

He has also said that suicide attacks against coalition forces in Iraq are permitted under Islamic law.
I hope people are saving these stories. They will be gold in a few years' time when Kerry runs again. I use Furl myself, a free service that lets you save snapshots of webpages. I only discovered it recently, but take a look. Imagine having a perfect memory for all major events, at your fingertips, with the evidence to back it up.

That's what this is. So when the Kerry08 campaign tries to talk about their new tough stand vs terrorists, we can beat them up with their own words from today. I mean, what could be more fun?


Welcome To The Big Time

Hey, how big an operation is this blog? Big enough that, when I fell asleep on the couch last nite (pretty much in mid-sentence, or so my wife tells me) I missed an entire day's worth of posting.

Well, I was tired.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


My Favorite Michael Moore Speculation

Herewith, a speculation, bordering on prediction (confidence level, 50%). First let's start off with a recent report on Michael Moore:

The hair had been trimmed and trained in such a way as to head upward; the scruffy beard we saw only last week in New York had become one of those crisp trendy goatees; the guy was wearing a handsome dark suit and a tie.
I think Mr. Moore is a self-serving grandstander with little regard for even those causes he espouses. I also expect Iraq - the centrepiece of the central issue of the times - to become a democracy in a few weeks, which will further marginalize the Left.

So, my call is this: Michael Moore will do an about-face and try to sell himself to Republicans sometime before the '08 elections. He will see a larger market in R's than in D's, and will become fresh again in the eyes of the media, again increasing his range.

Don't laugh. I think Mr Moore would take a perverse delight in being able to hoodwink both sides of the debate, and, if the Iraqi democracy does well and the Dems (in '06) do not, he will switch and make a fortune by airing the Dems' dirty laundry. You heard it here first.


Be Careful What You Wish For....

I know I can't be the only one to have made the connection here, but maybe I can be the first to blog it! Compare column 1 and column 2:

Dutch euthanasia law The Terrible Scourge of PEST
Doctors can help patients who ask for help to die even though they may not be ill but "suffering through living," concludes a three year inquiry commissioned by the Royal Dutch Medical Association. The report argues that no reason can be given to exclude situations of such suffering from a doctor’s area of competence. According to AHA officials, symptoms of PEST are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. They include nightmares, sleeplessness, hostility, listlessness, and emotional outbursts including threats to leave the country.

“There’s an overall sense of emotional helplessness and abandonment,” said Sheila Cooperman, a licensed AHA psychotherapist from Delray Beach.
Constant posturing leads to such incongruent conclusions.


Normally Loony

I don't think it's too early to declare the post-election battle for the soul of the Democratic Party to be over.

It is over already. The Hard Left won.

Why do I say this? Cuz Kerry is still fighting the election campaign, and is now touring the ME dissing Bush and warming up to the likes of Assad. Cuz Dean is openly running for the head honcho posiition in the DNC. Cuz Boxer & Friends tried to prevent certification of the election results. And so on.

As usual after such a defeat, the Dems had a choice - move further to the Left or move to the center. They chose the former, as illustrated above.

The battle will continue, and moderate Dems will do their best, but in the battle of the Normals vs the Loonies, the Loonies will win simply by digging in their heels and forcing the Normals out.

A third party is not that far away now. A few thoughts:

  • Dunno if it'll happen before '08 or after. Depends on the personalities involved. But it is coming. Recent events make that very clear.

  • The MSM will be solidly behind the Loonies. The MSM may be a declining force, but they are still powerful, so expect the Loonier Dems to poll better than they should.

  • The new party will attract more Dems than Republicans, since the Republicans are in power, with less motivation to switch, and the Dems aren't.

  • Republicans should not rejoice on the assumption that splitting the Dem vote will guarantee Republican success: beware what can happen when a third-party is vote-splitting. Perot & Nader have given the US a taste of this scenario, but those of us living in parliamentary systems see it all the time; you never really know what can happen when the votes are divided like that, and who can get in.

All that's needed now is a single charismatic personality to catalyze the reaction. Who will it be...?


Better To Rule In Hell....

Indonesia has warned aid workers about being attacked:

Indonesia told thousands of aid workers helping tsunami victims in its worst-hit region, Aceh, on Tuesday not to venture beyond two large cities because of what it said were militant threats.
I hope this is just posturing, but suspect otherwise - the tsunami recovery effort will take a while yet, and many terrorists would rather see the innocent die than see their enemies make new friends.

UPDATE: This too is worrying:
A spokesman for Abu Bakar Bashir ["spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiah"] said the Indonesian cleric, who is on trial for terrorism, regarded the relief operations by Australian and US military personnel as a dangerous development, overshadowing the role of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).


Mother May I?

This guy, an Iraqi voter (or soon will be) and television director, has things backwards:

He examines the slogan "freedom, order and security" of Sumaidiy's National Democratic Coalition.

"This guy has it the other way around it should be security first and freedom last," says Saleh.
No, as the old saying goes, freedom is the mother of order, not the daughter. But then, we can hardly blame this fellow: even in parts of the world where democracy has taken firm hold, the concepts are often reversed. Especially by television directors, I hear....


Pogo Economics

We have seen the enemy and it is us:

Europe is struggling to free itself from rigid labor market rules and boost domestic economies instead of relying on exports to support growth.
Hat Tip: Brothers Judd

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Mr Berger, meet Mr. Chertoff

Let me see if this all adds up:

  • Former US national security adviser Sandy Berger (Bill Clinton's guy) was caught stealing classified documents, which included stuffing them down his pants. He is now facing a grand jury.

  • George Bush just appointed judge Michael Chertoff to be the new Chief of Homeland Security.

  • Chertoff was once a counsel to the Republican Whitewater committees that investigated the Clintons. This has not been forgotten in certain quarters: Hillary was the sole senator to vote against Chertoff's confirmation.

  • And Hillary, of course, wants to run for president.

Wow. Put it all together and tell me, what are the odds that Chertoff will be investigating Sandy Berger's theft of classified documents? It will be a completely legit investigation, too (he would be derelict in his duties if he didn't investigate). But if I were Hillary, I'd be getting a real sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach about now.


The Taming Of The Shrew

Limits To Growth offers the following, courtesy of the Jerusalem Post:

"A Swiss friend of mine attended an international conference on terrorism a few months ago where, to the displeasure of many participants, the Dutch representative lectured on the human rights of terrorists. At another conference in December, the same person declared that he would never again deliver such a lecture."
Mugged by reality.


Animals' Sixth (or Seventh Or Eighth) Sense

Can animals sense a tsunami coming?

What did the animals know?

There are no signs they perished in large numbers when the tsunami slammed through Sri Lanka's Yala National Park on Sunday.

A photographer who flew over the park in an air force helicopter yesterday observed abundant wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, deer ... and not a single animal body.

The animals sought out the high ground, said Gehan de Silva Wijeyerantne, owner of a hotel within the park that was destroyed by the tsunami.
It would certainly simplify the creation of an early-warning system if we could figure this one out....


China's Downstream Neighbors

It's way too early for this to explode yet, but ...

China already has completed two dams across the river, with two more under construction and four others planned.


"China, they will work for their own country," said Khy Tanglim, a Cambodian cabinet minister who heads a team devoted to Mekong policy. "We are downstream, so we suffer all the negative consequences. If there is no more water for us, no more fish, no more vegetation, this is a big disaster."
This will be a big issue one when push comes to shove.