Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Friday, September 30, 2005

The Carnival Is In Town

COTV #158 is at This Blog Is Full Of Crap. My recent exercise in songwriting is among the attractions.

Another Classic TV Show To Be Bastardized As A Movie Remake

NewsMax has the short list for who will play J. R. Ewing in an upcoming "Dallas" movie. Not a pretty sight.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Don't Have Anything To Say About Tom Delay's Indictment

But Michelle Malkin has plenty. Pay special attention to the Barbara Comstock email on Ronnie Earle's history of dubious indictments.

How Will It Play In Baghdad?

At FrontPage Magazine, Dr. Walid Phares imagines how two Iraqi citizens would react to the American antiwar movement. Here's a sample:

Majid: I don’t know. But one of their activists, Cindy Sheehan, lost her son in Iraq and is leading the campaign against President Bush now.

Hassan: Was she against his decision to join the armed forces?

Majid: Apparently yes. That’s what she says.

Hassan: Did she try to convince him not to enroll?

Majid: Yes, that’s what she said.

Hassan: So, her son refused to obey her

Majid: Yes.

Hassan: He disagreed with her?

Majid: Yes.

Hassan: So he had different views than she did?

Majid: Well, he joined the Army, and she didn’t want him to join.

Hassan: Was she against the War in Iraq before he joined?

Majid: She was against the removal of Saddam.

Hassan: And now she is acting as a mother who lost her child who refused to obey her and was killed in a war she opposed?

Majid: Exactly. She considers the war that liberated us a war that killed her son. She was against regime change in Iraq. I also heard she criticized Bush, Chirac, and Blair for removing the Syrians from Lebanon.

Hassan: Why is she against our peoples’ freedoms?

Majid: She says removing Saddam wasn’t a good cause.

Hassan: Did she ever meet with Iraqi mothers who lost their children, husbands, and babies?

Majid: Not that I know of.

Hassan: So stopping the genocide in Iraq is not enough of a noble cause for her?

Majid: She and her movement say no.

Pour a cup of coffee and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

You Can't Take The Net From Me

My little song parody turns out to be more topical than I realized:

The United States said at the outset of global talks on information technology yesterday that it will fight attempts to put the United Nations or any international group in charge of the Internet.

"We want to make sure the private sector leads and the Internet continues to be a reservoir of great innovation, and that governments continue to focus on enabling the growth of the Internet, and not of controlling its use," Ambassador David A. Gross told The Washington Times in an interview.

Major developing nations spearheaded by China, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and a number of industrialized countries including Norway, Switzerland and Russia would like to see the United States relinquish its historic control of the Internet.

From the "slavery = freedom" department (emphasis added):

"This situation is very undemocratic, unfair and unreasonable," said Sha Zukang, the ambassador from China, which this week imposed new rules that allow only "healthy and civilized" news to be read by the mainland's 100 million Web users.

China's government will determine which news is healthy and which news is not.

I have a question for Internet techies out there. Would it be possible to set up some sort of wireless Internet provider outside a specific nation's borders (perhaps even in orbit) that at least some citizens within that nation could access - a sort of ISP version of Voice of America?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Music To Blog By

(A slight rewording of the Firefly theme song)

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the Net from me

Take me to pajama-town
Tell MSM I won't back down
Fisk them all from sea to sea
You can't take the Net from me

There's no place I can't be
Since I found the blogospheeere
You can't take the Net from me

(Emperor Misha anticipates the upcoming Serenity movie.)

Update: It Comes In Pints plugs this post, with links to a couple of other Firefly/Serenity posts.

Update: I bet this parody would be banned in China - scroll up to the post right above this one for details.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Welfare State Advances

In Denmark:

Danish activists for the disabled are staunchly defending a government campaign that pays sex workers to provide sex once a month for disabled people.

At the Volokh Conspiracy's post on this story, I left this comment:

Somehow, a FEMA for fixing up people on blind dates makes me wary.

The Red-Hot Planet

Mars is undergoing global warming. (Link via Glenn)

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Oppose The ________, But I Support The ________

Ye can or cannot speak such a thing, depending on who's banner yer sailing under:

"Of course, raising questions about the steps-and-lanes system is a ferocious attack on teachers so we can't do that! (Incidentally, one reader writes to ask why you can criticize American policy in Iraq and still support the troops but not raise questions about these contracts without being a teacher basher? Good question…)"

The EIA Communiqué spotted this fine jewel.


It be Talk Like A Pirate Day, matees!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Katrina Conspiracy Theories

Was the hurricane sent by the Russians? Maybe the US, Russia, or some other power is behind it? How about the Japanese Mafia?

Perhaps the yakuza conspiracy theory could explain this. (Image by Allah - direct link to the relevant post is currently not working.)

Update: Allah's site isn't working at the moment, but fortunately the image was in my Internet cache:

 photo KatrinaZilla.jpg

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Carnival of the Vanities Turns Three

And it's hosted by the site that started it all, Silflay Hraka. My most recent Katrina post is among the attractions.

The President's Speech

Louisiana Conservative's post has a full transcript of the speech with commentary. I generally agree with LC, especially on the massiveness of the government role in rebuilding. I am mystified by this remark:

I liked this speech so much more after going through it the second time. I think after the last two weeks I expected more out of President Bush than I did out of Kathleen Blanco. Although I liked President Bush's speech much better, it didn't impress me as much as Kathleen Blanco.

Huh? Governor Blanco said something impressive recently?

Here's the part of Bush's address that especially caught my attention (emphasis added):

Yet the system, at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days.

He was subtle about it, but he didn't let Blanco and Nagin off the hook. Good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life Imitates Art

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren likens Judge Roberts' interrogators to Foghorn Leghorn.

Perhaps the senators are also channeling another television character:

Roberts: Where am I?
Senator: In the chambers of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Roberts: What do you want?
Senator: We want information.
Roberts: Whose side are you on?
Senator: That would be telling. We want information...information... information.
Roberts: You won't get it.
Senator: By hook or by crook, we will.
Roberts: Who are you?
Senator: The new Number 2.
Roberts: Who is Number 1?
Senator: You are Number 6.
Roberts: I am not a number, I am a free man.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Andrew Sullivan Grasps At Straws

A recent snark:

In Houston, local officials complained that FEMA's computer system kept crashing. In Ocean Springs, Miss., officials started turning people away from a FEMA disaster recovery center three hours before closing time, saying they were overwhelmed. "There is so much chaos and dysfunction going on with the federal government that Dallas can't wait any longer for federal help," said Mayor Laura Miller of Dallas.

Just another Blue State Bush-hater, right?

Memo to Sullivan: Texas may be a red state, but Laura Miller is a blue-city liberal Democrat. One of the few things that identifies her with Red America is her opposition to taxpayer-funded sports arenas.

Let's stop using the words "hater" and "opponent" interchangeably, shall we? If I hated everyone who opposed me on some issue, I'd hate everybody.

Hey Sully, it's not so unusual for conservatives to criticize FEMA. (Ever heard of Michelle Malkin?) But most aren't letting Bush Derangement Syndrome get in the way of recognizing that FEMA is associated with very little of what went wrong in New Orleans. FEMA isn't responsible for everyone in hurricane-prone areas to have an emergency stash of nonperishable food on hand - individuals are. [See update below for further elaboration.] FEMA isn't responsible for building flood control infrastructure - city and state governments are, and if they can't afford it they can turn to Congress and hope that the environmentalist lobby doesn't stand in the way. FEMA isn't responsible for evacuating people who can't evacuate themselves - state and city governments are. FEMA didn't block the Red Cross and Salvation Army from delivering food and supplies to hurricane survivors in the Superdome. And none of this crap is happening in Mississippi, which took the brunt of the storm.

FEMA's crime is following its standard operating procedure for showing up to disaster areas late. Bush and Congress are to blame for not streamlining the agency so it can operate efficiently. Come to think of it, the entire Department of Homeland Security could probably use major restructuring.

Update: Anyone who follows the news of past hurricane strikes against the US should have enough common sense to figure out that having a week's supply of nonperishable food during hurricane season is a real good idea. But a lot of smart people won't think of everything that needs to be done. I lived the first 26 years of my life in Gulf Coast cities. Local governments in hurricane-prone areas have always educated the public on preparedness, to make sure that nobody forgets to take all the necessary precautions. See this page on the City of Corpus Christi's website for an example of this sort of information. Pay special attention to the hurricane survival kit page.

Update: I'd like to see a poll that would gauge how opinions on the Katrina blame vary between those who have actually lived in hurricane-prone states localities and those who haven't.

Update: Oops, "hurricane-prone states" would include places like El Paso and Shreveport that don't get hit by hurricanes. (Tropical storm remnants, maybe - not the same thing.) Previous update is updated.

Update: Back to Sully's remark...Dallas is arguably the most liberal city in Texas, and 32nd most liberal nationwide.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years Ago

See my pictoral remembrance on the 2002 anniversary. The message is appropriate for the Katrina-stricken cities as well.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Can Anyone Find An Instance When FEMA Arrived Promptly To A Disaster Area?

The Daily Howler and The Galvin Opinion have examples when the opposite was the case. Both links via Instapundit - here and here, respectively.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Did Environmentalists Doom New Orleans?

At FrontPage Magazine, Michael Tremoflie tells of a flood control project that was stopped by the environmentalist lobby:

In the 1970s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Barrier Project planned to build fortifications at two strategic locations, which would keep massive storms on the Gulf of Mexico from causing Lake Pontchartrain to flood the city. An article in the May 28, 2005, New Orleans Times-Picayune stated, "Under the original plan, floodgate-type structures would have been built at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes to block storm surges from moving from the Gulf into Lake Pontchartrain."

"The floodgates would have blocked the flow of water from the Gulf of Mexico, through Lake Borgne, through the Rigolets [and Chef Mentuer] into Lake Pontchartrain," declared Professor Gregory Stone, the James P. Morgan Distinguished Professor and Director of the Coastal Studies Institute of Louisiana State University. "This would likely have reduced storm surge coming from the Gulf and into the Lake Pontchartrain," Professor Stone told Michael P. Tremoglie during an interview on September 6. The professor concluded, "[T]hese floodgates would have alleviated the flooding of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina."

So what happened?

Why was this project aborted? As the Times-Picayune wrote, "Those plans were abandoned after environmental advocates successfully sued to stop the projects as too damaging to the wetlands and the lake's eco-system." (Emphasis added.) Specifically, in 1977, a state environmentalist group known as Save Our Wetlands (SOWL) sued to have it stopped. SOWL stated the proposed Rigolets and Chef Menteur floodgates of the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Prevention Project would have a negative effect on the area surrounding Lake Pontchartrain. Further, SOWL's recollection of this case demonstrates they considered this move the first step in a perfidious design to drain Lake Pontchartrain entirely and open the area to dreaded capitalist investment.

Oddly, the enviros appear to have sided with a plan that harms the wetlands even more than the floodgate project allegedly would have:

Worse yet, the environmentalists' ultimate decision to reinforce existing levees may have actually further harmed the Big Easy. There is at least one expert who claims the New Orleans levees made no difference – in fact, they contributed to the problem. Deputy Director of the LSU Hurricane Center and Director of the Center for the Study Public Health Impacts by Hurricanes Ivor van Heerden said, "The levees 'have literally starved our wetlands to death' by directing all of that precious silt out into the Gulf of Mexico."

The Commissar has some posts on the impact of levees on the environment and the gradual sinking of New Orleans - see here and here. This post displays an elevation map of the city and a little info on how flooding affects rivers.


Two years ago today I submitted my first post as guest contributor to Sasha Castel's blog. These links are not currently working; I will keep an eye to see if her blog comes back.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Denver (1935-2005)

Goodbye, little buddy.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Abolish Labor Day

(Reprinted from 2003)

The US Department of Labor has a webpage on the history of Labor Day. The DoL describes the spirit of the holiday thus:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Why do we have a holiday dedicated to only one element of commerce? The "strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country" is dependent on five factors:

  • Liberty. Laws regarding commerce and property rights are relatively fair and consistent. Taxation levels, while far from ideal, are such that (except in a few areas) they do not choke out business startups and growth. The streets are free from warfare and from government pogroms.
  • Culture. Society generally encourages private-sector employment; in several African nations, by contrast, the college-educated gravitate heavily toward government jobs. The rate of crimes against person and property, except in various urban neighborhoods, is not so high that businesses are driven away.
  • Entrepreneurs. These are the people responsible for the organization of an entire company, the establishment of its entire product line, and the assumption of the risk inherent in the venture.
  • Investors. Businesses must be financed. Outside sources such as banking institutions and stockholders routinely invest in established businesses, and occasionally provide capital for startups. Investors assume some degree of risk.
  • Labor. Traditionally this term is used to signify all non-managerial positions within a company. I use it to refer to include all non-entrepreneurial positions in a company. The common usage of "labor" and "management" insinuates that managers (including entrepreneurs) don't really do anything, that their organizational duties isn't really "work." I use "entrepreneur" and "labor" to distinguish between those responsible for an entire company and those responsible for portions of it.

Happy Commerce Day! Drink a toast to the Bill of Rights, peaceful citizens, Bill Gates, Wall Street, and all your coworkers.

Welcome To The Jungle

In a 2002 post I first applied the "Pleistocene Liberation Organization" label to radical environmentalism. Is that a fair characterization? Yes.

(Link via Cox & Forkum)

How You Can Help Katrina Survivors With An Internet Connection

Virginia Postrel forwarded to me an email about an online registry for Katrina survivors:

We could use your help. We put up a site 28 hours ago and it is finally emerging from its cocoon . As refugees are streaming into Dallas, could you, through your blog, round up some folks who want to help, to take their portable laptops and wireless air cards and put them to work.

Survivors can register "I'm OK" or have someone else register for them that "I'm OK." Aid stations and relief centers can use this registry to assist people in making their whereabouts visible to their family and friends.

The search side of the site allows for a specific pinpoint search for a person by household rather than generic searches by city. All the search requires is the person's telephone number from before the disaster. Family and friends searching for the same person can communicate with each other through the message board tied to that phone number.

The link is

The site is sponsored by O. R. Colan Associates (ORC) and developed by ComputerNex Corporation, both of Fort Lauderdale. Beneath the simple appearance of the site there is a heavy duty search engine and the band width capacity to support thousands of simultaneous queries.

If you don't have a laptop with wireless you may still be able to help. Some of y'all may know of private homes or other places with Internet connections that are taking in refugees. Send a link to to anyone involved in relief efforts.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lead Exposure, Antisocial Behavior, And Intelligence

Somewhere - I cannot remember the source- I ran across an article that explores a connection between lead poisoning and the violent tendencies disproportionate to blacks and Hispanics. The theory goes like this. Blacks are more likely to be poor, and thus more likely to live in older housing coated with lead-based paint. Hispanics face a similar situation, and on top of that, significant amounts of lead are found in some of the candy marketed specifically to that group. Lead has toxic affects that, among other things, adversely affect behavior and could be a contributing factor to the youth violence we see in some parts of the country.

I managed to find a Natural Resources Defense Council report on various health risks to Latinos. This section elaborates on the situation:

The principal source of lead exposure for children is lead-contaminated dust (from lead-based paint), but other sources may have particular implications for Latinos. One such source is lead-glazed pottery, which some tourists and immigrants continue to bring in from Mexico and other countries. Some Latino children may also be eating lead in candy, as reported in an April 2004 Orange County Register investigative story. The article explained how lead-contaminated candies manufactured in Mexico make their way into the U.S. market.

Another factor for increased risk of childhood lead poisoning among Latino immigrants, particularly those of Mexican origin, is the use of certain folk remedies. Such traditional remedies as greta and azarcón, which may contain nearly 100 percent lead and are often used to treat stomachaches, may expose children to dangerously high lead concentrations.

This passage spells out the neurological health risks:

In children, lead is known to cause neurological problems even at tiny doses. Most notably, lead has been associated with a decline in IQ and with learning disabilities, hyperactive behavior, violence, and an increase in antisocial behavior. In adults, lead has been linked to neurological problems, high blood pressure, and kidney problems.

I am not a professional sociologist, but common sense tells me that the level of violence rises exponentially as the number of violence-prone individuals within a population increases. That adds some insight into why certain areas are more riot-prone than others. Evidently, lead removal should be pursued as a measure for long-term crime prevention.

The note on lead's impact on IQ brings back memories of the reactions to the chapters in The Bell Curve addressing racial IQ differences. Here's a sample of the hysteria, from a 1995 article by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting :

When the New Republic devoted almost an entire issue (10/31/94) to a debate with the authors of The Bell Curve, editor Andrew Sullivan justified the decision by writing, "The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief."

In fact, the idea that some races are inherently inferior to others is the definition of racism. What the New Republic was saying--along with other media outlets that prominently and respectfully considered the thesis of Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein's book--is that racism is a respectable intellectual position, and has a legitimate place in the national debate on race.

Sully recently blogged on his decision to excerpt the book in New Republic:

Liberalism's commitment to political and moral equality for all citizens and human beings is not and should not be threatened by empirical research into human difference and varied inequality. And the fact that so many liberals are determined instead to prevent and stigmatize free research and debate on this subject is evidence ... well, that they have ceased to be liberals in the classic sense.

FAIR and its fellow travelers assumed that the existence of a racial IQ gap necessarily presumes inherent racial superiority. It never occurred to them to consider the possibility that environmental differences could explain such a phenomenon. (I long suspected the education gap to be a factor in the IQ gap; blacks tend to have lower-quality instruction than whites.) At the time The Bell Curve was published, we had already known about the racial disproportion in lead exposure and the relationship between lead poisoning and IQ impairment. It's real estate superiority, not racial superiority.

Perhaps FAIR should have its offices repainted.

Update: Clayton Cramer has some related bloggage on this topic.

Belated COTV Announcement

Last Tuesay, the Carnival rolled into town at Incite. My Henderson Prize announcement was among the attractions.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Divine Wind?

Was Hurricane Katrina sent by God?

A Kuwaiti official says yes.

Michael Marcavage of "Repent America" says yes. (Link via Sully)

Louis Farrakhan says yes. (Link via Damian)

Der Spiegel points the finger elsewhere - global warming. (Link via ITA)

A "Coast to Coast with George Noory" guest suspects a somewhat different culprit (see bottom right of page):

First hour guest, 'historian of the future' Charles Ostman presented the theory that weather manipulation may have been used to steer the direction of Hurricane Katrina into America's oil facilities, as a "geopolitical attack." A country such as China could be using HAARP-like technology with the goal of creating economic chaos in the U.S., he further conjectured.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Saddam Hussein vs. Jefferson Davis

Those who most vehemently oppose the war in Iraq tends to be among those who cite the war with the Confederacy as an absolute necessity (with some exceptions). Why the apparent disconnect?

Do the humanitarian factors differ?

How do the origins of these wars stand in contrast?

  • Iraq violated the truce terms negotiated at the end of the 1993 war; some of these violations are addressed in UN resolutions.
  • The South seceded from the union against Northern wishes while no explicit prohibition against secession existed in law.

Who started the conflict?

  • As early as 1996, Iraqi forces fired on jets enforcing the no-fly zones without killing anyone. The US waited years to act militarily.
  • In April 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter without killing anyone. Lincoln called for an invasion of the South in July. (See Civil War timeline.)

What about financial considerations?

  • The Iraq war costs a lot of money.
  • The Civil War cost a lot of money, but the loss of Southern taxpayers cost a lot of money, too.


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