Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Friday, March 31, 2006

One Year Ago Today

Terri Schiavo icon photo Terri-Icon.gif


Researchers Discover The Obvious

From the Daily Mail:

They are apparently more sexually liberated than ever before - but most women still believe one-night stands are immoral, research shows.
Forty years after the dawn of women's lib, British females judge friends and acquaintances who indulge in casual sex as being 'needy' and 'deviant'.

The study of women's attitudes towards sex revealed that women of all ages believe that sex outside marriage or a committed relationship is wrong.

Those who have one-night stands do so out of desperation or drunkenness.

Desperate for what?

Dr Hinchliff said: "There was a feeling that if women did have one night stands, they were doing it for some reason other than their own pleasure. They were desperate and needing attention and wanting love, or they were drunk and out of control.

Healthy human sexuality requires a relationship that is intimate (emotionally and spiritually), monogamous, and permanent - in short, marriage. Among other problems, casual sex doesn't allow the time for true intimacy to build. Women are more in tune with others feelings and thus understand this principle better than men. Men have to work a lot harder at true intimacy; having the lesser empathy and the greater sex drive makes men easily distracted from true intimacy - and women know it.

The study didn't consider a third reason women engage in casual sex. Some are so cynical about men that they've given up on genuine relationships, and choose to settle for nonintimate sex as a consolation prize.

Update: Typo corrected - "Desperate for what" originally entered as "Desperate for that."

No Comprendo

Where was President Bush's enthusiasm for guest worker programs when Linda Chavez came under fire for harboring an undocumented battered Guatemalan housewife?

Maybe he's responding to this constituency?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I Was Enjoying Your Voice So Much I Didn't Hear What You Were Saying

A new study explains why men often fail to listen to women.

(Link via James Taranto - scroll to last story)

Guess Who's Coming To Graduation?

Who would have ever predicted this?

U.S. Sen. John McCain will speak at Liberty University's spring graduation ceremony in Lynchburg, Va.

McCain, an Arizona Republican considering a presidential run in 2008, will address the graduating class at the May 13 event, said the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the private evangelical Christian school.

Wonder what kind of reception the senator will get:

McCain, 69, labeled Falwell an "agent of intolerance" during his campaign against then-Gov. George W. Bush in the South Carolina and Virginia GOP primaries in 2000.

"Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right," McCain said at the time. He lost to Bush in both states.

Rest In Peace

National Journal remembers Lyn Nofziger and Caspar Weinberger.

Media Cluelessness Report

Breitbart has an Associated Press story about the infamous flooded New Orleans school buses scheduled for ebay auction. AP writer Rukmini Callimachi must have been living under a rock during the post-Katrina news coverage (emphasis added):

Starved for cash, the New Orleans school district is taking a long shot and hoping to sell its flooded, unsalvageable school buses on eBay.

Some submerged to their roofs in the black flood waters, the yellow school buses were widely photographed in the days after Hurricane Katrina and have become an icon of the city's devastated school system.

No, the buses are an icon of Mayor Ray Nagin's incompetence:

The buses alone tell the story.

At the city level, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin essentially ignored the city's official evacuation plan for hurricanes, which calls for the use of school buses and city-owned transit buses to evacuate the population in advance of a major storm.

Most vulnerable were the estimated 134,000 people in the city without cars. The official way out was to be the 550 municipal buses and 254 usable school buses (70 of the city's 324 school buses were broken down) that the city had at its disposal.

Do the math. With 804 buses and 60 seats per bus, the city had the assets to evacuate 48,240 people per trip. To cover 134,000 people, that's three trips. And there was no shortage of time. Nagin declared a state of emergency and a "voluntary" evacuation on Saturday, Aug. 27, and Katrina didn't make landfall until Monday, Aug. 29.

Update: NewsMax also published the AP release, without any commentary. You'd think that a conservative outfit like NewsMax would have caught Callimachi's gross error.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

They Call Us Fascist, Write Us Off The Page

(Musical reference)

The local government of another city named after a Catholic saint complains about visible signs of Christianity:

More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against "the virtue terrorism" of popular culture, and they were greeted by an official city condemnation and a clutch of protesters who said their event amounted to a "fascist mega-pep rally."

"Battle Cry for a Generation" is led by a 44-year-old Concord native, Ron Luce, who wants "God's instruction book" to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture.

When culture A criticizes culture B, that is not fascism - that is the natural state of affairs in a pluralistic society. Conservative Christians get together in a staduim to share a message they share all the time in their individual churches. So what? This is a peaceful gathering, not a reenactment of the September 19, 1993 riots at Hamilton Square Baptist Church of San Francisco.

A city government has found compelling interest to condemn a private rally that poses no threat to civil order. That is fascism.

"But they're intolerant." I've got news for you - everyone's intolerant. Grow up.

(Hat tip to TPCrasher78, who linked the article in this Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler thread.)

First They Came For The Undocumented Immigrants...

Emperor Misha and RightWingDuck stand up for two other groups threatened by the US legal system.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hurricane Blame Game

Life's Lessons has a post on a new Monopoly-clone board game:

The players represent trial lawyers who compete to see whose law firm can collect the greatest wealth from filing lawsuits against 'Big Oil' companies, or against individual states that failed to respond to hurricane strikes.

Read the whole thing.

Stop And Vent

That would have been a more appropriate name for Stop And Think. The main webpage displays its mission statement:

It's a place where people with concerns about changing the Wright Amendment can gather, get information and speak out.

The phrase "in cooperation with American Airlines" tells you what side of the Wright Amendment issue this organization is on. So does the direct mailing I received in the mail today:

It's about time to stop and think...about families. Moms. And dads. The kids they love. It's time to think about the jobs that support them. The schools that teach them. [Overturning the Wright Amendment threatens education??] The roads they drive on. And the air they breathe. Families worry. Homeowners worry. Businesses worry. If the Wright Amendment changes, what changes next?

I checked the website to see what kind of information is available to be gathered. The "learn more" page lists a brief timeline regarding the Wright Amendment. (For further details on how Southwest attained "court permission" to remain at Love, read Herb Kelleher's Senate testimony.) The "stories" page is a sort of comments section where concerned citizens can vent; so far all the responses are pro-Wright amendment. The "press room" tab leads to a list of Stop And Think's press releases, articles that mention its lobbying efforts, and one article that summarizes the provisions of the Wright Amendment. The "links" page lists several entities that support the Wright Amendment.

For a better understanding of the Wright Amendment, issue, I want access to studies on pollution, air and highway traffic, economic impact, Love Field-area property values, and other relevant issues. Stop And Think provides no such resources.

If anyone wants to contribute to Stop And Think's "comments" section, do what the other commenters aren't doing: find a specific claim advocated by the pro-Wright Amendment forces, rebut it, and document your sources. Give the readers something concrete to stop and think about.

Update: I have just looked at the comments form. It states, "If your post is selected for the website, we’ll only use your first name, last name and city unless you specify otherwise." So it's highly unlikely that anti-Wright Amendment comments will get posted. But don't let that stop you. Let the Stop And Think folks see reasoned arguments against the Wright Amendment.

And send your Stop And Think comment to me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Red Menace, Part Deux

Rush Limbaugh received a call today from Katie, a conservative student attending Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She discussed a course she was taking - Communism (Political Science 377). I found the official description of the course (PDF file):

Explores the evolution of "communism" as a complex set of ideals, critical theories, competing doctrines and diverse practices. Attention is also given to the ways in which "communism" has been construed as a threat to prevailing modes of thought and organization, served as a target and rationale for subversion, and endures as an inspiration and a modified social project in the 21st century.

The official textbooks are:

The nature of the first book is obvious, and no class on Communism would be complete without Marx. I was initially puzzled by the inclusion of a book on anarchism, being accustomed to thinking of it in terms of anarcho-capitalism, the most radical form of Libertarianism. But one Amazon book review tells me what I kneed to know, citing the book as "a brief introduction to Proudhon, Bakhunin and Kropotkin." The Wikipedia article on Mikhail Bakunin explains the relevance of anarchism to Marxism:

The dispute between Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx highlighted the difference between anarchism and Marxism: While both anarchists and Marxists share the same final goal - the creation of a free, egalitarian society with no social classes and no government, they strongly disagree on how to achieve this goal. Anarchists believe that the classless, stateless society should be established right away, as soon as possible; they refuse any intermediate stage of dictatorship of the proletariat. Marxists believe that such a thing would be impossible and that the anarchists are too idealistic; the Marxists want a more gradual transition towards the classless and stateless society, involving a transitional stage of democratic government and planned economics, which they call "socialism"

All three were critics of capitalism. Bakunin largely agreed with Marx's assessment of capitalism (Wikipedia offers no details). Peter Kropotkin professed anarchistic communism. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon came right out and declared - in exact words - "property is theft."

The latter two books are modern anticapitalist screeds. "Parecon" is short for participatory economics - a collectivist economics theory pioneered by the book's author in concert with American University economics professor Robin Hahnel.

Katie addressed the Alperovitz book:

[H]is whole premise is he wants to bridge the gap of wealth between the wealthiest in society and the poorest, but, you know, more fairly.

Rush explained a critical error on the part of such thought (emphasis in original):

What he's trying to do, it's exactly what I told you. They look at the inequities and they see built-in unfairness and they think that there's a powerful elite that controls all the wealth and that chooses who gets it, and the that the poor and the downtrodden are selected. They're just as good as anybody else. They're just as hard working. They're just as accomplished. They're just getting screwed!

Socialists vastly underestimate the role that the talent-and-effort gap plays in the income gap. The entrepreneur who sells to thousands of customers (and who is a sound budgeter) will always make a lot more than the teacher who instructs 200 students per day.

Limbaugh's hypothetical "powerful elite that controls all the wealth and that chooses who gets it" aren't so hypothetical - they're Communists. Those who wring their hands over income gaps tend to ignore their presence in Marxist economies. Historically, poverty is rampant in Communist countries, while party elites live in varying degrees of splendor in accord with their level of privilege - and at 100% taxpayer expense.

Conventional income gap analysis looks in the wrong place. Instead of contrasting rich and poor of a specific nation, it should contrast the poor that live under varying degrees of economic freedom. See more musings over the income gap in this May 2003 post.

Earlier in the call, Rush addressed the tyranny inherent in Communism:

RUSH: To create a communist society: the first thing you do is you build a wall around wherever the people live, either the country or the county or the city. Then you put security checkpoints on top of the wall at various places and if anybody tries to get out, you kill them.


RUSH: You take away every bit of freedom that they have. Everybody that works will work for the state and will make the same amount of money. It won't be much. There will be no achievement allowed, no excellence allowed. The only people who will make out will be those who lead this community -- its president, its Politburo; I've got to use the right terms -- or what have you. It's misery. It is forced misery and death if you try to escape it. It's prisons. It is mind control. It is denial of free media and truth. It is suppression of any statement that opposes the government. Do that, and the guy ought to give you an A and probably think you have a good future.

CALLER: Well, that wouldn't really match with Marx's views on communism on his original ideas of what a Marxist society would be.

RUSH: Oh, I'm sorry it doesn't! The communists, that's what they end up having to do after their system fails.

And why is that, Rush? Why doesn't the egalitarian classless society spring up according to plan? Bakunin himself knew part of the answer, understanding why Marx's proposed dictatorship of the proletariat could never serve as a suitable interim phase to implement the egalitarian classless society:

"If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Czar himself."

In my February 2003 review of The Black Book of Communism, I offered a lengthy explanation. Aside from echoing Bakunin's sentiments in the previous paragraph, I raised two issues, starting with Communism's radical views on property. Since the Master Plan calls for state control of the entire economy, the Communist state must begin on a foundation of robbery. Second I addressed the totalitarian impulse:

Communist governments...exist because someone came forward and proposed a rigid and complex utopian vision. Such a vision violates fundamental laws of human nature - the desire for personal property, for starters. If they abandon the quest to abolish private property, they discredit themselves and the masses demand a refund. They must therefore convince the masses to abandon human nature - ironically, while the leaders do not. Marxism also demands the abolition of religion, so the masses must be forced to abandon their allegiance to whatever deity(ies). Leaders willing to take life and property by force will take belief by force when such is essential to their political survival.

Check out the rest of the transcript. At the end, Rush has links to various source material supporting points raised in the conversation. This page will probably go to the subscriber-only section in the near future, so I'll list them here:

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Bunny Menace

The City Council of St. Paul, Minnestota, a city named for one of Christianity's chief prophets, banned an Easter Bunny decoration:

A toy rabbit, pastel-colored eggs and a sign with the words "Happy Easter" were removed from the lobby of the City Council offices, because of concerns they might offend non-Christians.

A council secretary had put up the decorations. They were not bought with city money.

St. Paul's human rights director, Tyrone Terrill, asked that the decorations be removed, saying they could be offensive to non-Christians.

The Red Menace

In North Korea, babies born with disabilities are killed. (Dr. Peter Singer, call your office.)

In China, the skins of executed prisoners are recycled for use in the manufacture of beauty products.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Racism Menace

At FrontPage Magazine, Joel Mowbray has an article about an intriguing relaity show that seeks to explore the phenomenon:

On the cable television network FX (part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire, which owns Fox News), two weeks ago tonight marked the premier of a new show called "Black. White." (The third episode airs tonight.) The set-up is simple: two families, one black and one white, trade races. It is a "reality" show inasmuch as it involves real people and not actors, but a better label would be a "reality experiment."

The bluest of blue-staters might find this show offensive, for reasons other than this being a Fox show:

Given the utterly predictable casting that plagues most "reality" television, the white family could have been rednecks or cretin conservatives. They weren't. The white woman, in fact, is an unreformed 1960's era left-winger—and she was astoundingly offensive time and again. She viewed black people as exotic, almost alien. That she romanticized almost every difference found in black people hardly made her prejudice more tolerable. But her racism is emblematic of the most pervasive form of bigotry; she harbored no animosity or hatred, just ignorance.

The Avian Menace

A section of downtown Orlando, Florida is under aerial bombardment:

The problem began when city workers removed cypress trees on "bird island" at Lake Eola in Orlando.

The trees had to be removed because the bird droppings were polluting the water, according to the report.

Now, the birds have moved into the city and are covering anything and anyone between Lake Eola and Central Avenue with droppings.

Alfred Hitchcock, call your office.

The Conservative Menace

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr reports a study that suggests that whiny children tend to grow up conservative. Commenter "Ubertrout" posted the study's abstract (emphasis added):

The present study reports on the personality attributes of nursery school children who two decades later were reliably stratified along a liberal/ conservative dimension. An unprecedented analytical opportunity existed to evaluate how the political views of these young adults related to assessments of them when in nursery school, prior to their having become political beings. Preschool children who 20 years later were relatively liberal were characterized as: developing close relationships, self-reliant, energetic, somewhat dominating, relatively under-controlled, and resilient. Preschool children subsequently relatively conservative at age 23 were described as: feeling easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and relatively over-controlled and vulnerable. IQ during nursery school did not relate to subsequent liberalism/ conservatism but did relate in subsequent decades. Personality correlates of liberalism/conservatism for the subjects as young adults were also reported: conservatives were described in terms congruent with previous formulations in the literature; liberals displayed personality commonalities but also manifested gender differences. Some implications of the results are briefly discussed.

I posted these remarks a short time ago:

Victimized; fearful; vulnerable: Sounds like a rational conservative response to living in a region that is overwhelmingly hostile toward conservatives.

Easily offended: ROTFL! The Left has a virtual monopoly on the speech code meme in the West, and Berkeley is one of its holy cities.

Over-controlled: When I think of "California" and "over-controlled," I think of suffocating government regulation. I suspect that the study has in mind something other than the Vampire L'Etat.

Rigid, indecisive: Aren't these opposites?

Commenter Don Miller raises a crucial issue - observer bias:

A child that feels that liberal policies are causing an injustice in their life, is perceived as "whiny" by those around them. Opposite, a liberal child who feels the dominate conservative policies of their community are causing injustice, would be perceived as "whiny" by the people around them.

I'd want assurances that all of the characterizations attributed to liberals and conservatives (see emphasis in abstract) are free from such bias.

Go check out the comments at Volokh Conspiracy - the debate is still young.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Scientology Menace

Writing for Fox News, Roger Friedman argues that Isaac Hayes may have been coerced into quitting South Park. Friedman questions why Hayes would expend energy to quit the show while recuperating from a stroke, and offers two other bits of supporting evidence:

Last November, when the "Trapped in a Closet" episode of the comedy aired, I saw Hayes and spent time with him in Memphis for the annual Blues Ball.

If he hated the show so much, I doubt he would have performed his trademark hit song from the show, "Chocolate Salty Balls." He tossed the song into the middle of one of his less salacious hits and got the whole audience in the Memphis Pyramid to sing along.

I can tell you, Hayes was very pleased with himself, was in a great mood and, as always, loved his fans' coming up to him and asking him about Chef.

As recently as early January, before his stroke, Hayes defended the "South Park" creators in an interview with "The AV Club," the serious side of the satirical newspaper, The Onion.

AV Club: They did just do an episode that made fun of your religion, Scientology. Did that bother you?

Hayes: Well, I talked to Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] about that. They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, 'Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that [expletive], you know?' But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses and understand what we do. [Laughs.]

I wonder if they ever took those courses...

(Link via Tim Blair)

Update: In Blair's comments, Jim Treacher links to an Opie and Anthony interview with Hayes that casts further doubts on the official explanation for Hayes' departure.

Belated Blogroll Tweakage

Some time back, Indian group blog AnarCapLib changed its name to The URL is still the same. Appropriate blogroll changes are made.

The Jooooooo Menace

Louis Farrakhan speaks:

It's been nearly a month since Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan blamed "Zionists and neo-cons" for "manipulating" President Bush into invading Iraq - before blasting "wicked Jews" in Hollywood for promoting "lesbianism [and] homosexuality."

Ang Lee is a Zionist tool?

"These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strength ... It's the wicked Jews the false Jews that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. It's wicked Jews, false Jews that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!"

False Jews? What's a real Jew?

"And the Christian right, with your blindness to that wicked state of Israel ... can that be the holy land, and you have gay parades, and want to permit to have a gay parade in Jerusalem when no prophet ever sanctioned that behavior. How can that be the Israel, how can that be Jerusalem with secular people running the holy land when it should be the holy people running the holy land. That land is gonna be cleansed with blood."

Actually, a lot of Christians and Jews oppose gay parades in Jerusalem.

The Christian Right supports the legitimacy of the Israeli state. It also supports the legitimacy of our own nation's existence - but that doesn't mean it can't be critical of domestic cultural trends (including gay activism and Nation of Islam).

Farrakhan does have a legitimate complaint about "speech crimes" that criminalize criticism of homosexuality and/or homosexuals. Such laws exist in nations like Britain, France, and Canada, and at one time at the University of Michigan. But he should be pointing fingers at the radical Left, not the "false Jews." Maybe Farrakhan believes all those foreign parliaments are under Zionist control. It wouldn't surprise me.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Human Menace

Reuters reports the latest threat posed by humanity:

Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday.

Habitats ranging from coral reefs to tropical rainforests face mounting threats, the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said in the report, issued at the start of a March 20-31 U.N. meeting in Curitiba, Brazil.

"In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago," said the 92-page Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report.

The article states neither the documentation proving that mass extinction is indeed occurring, nor the evidence placing the primary blame on "[human-directed] habitat change, over-exploitation, the introduction of invasive alien species, nutrient loading and climate change."

Note this paragraph:

It estimated the current pace of extinctions was 1,000 times faster than historical rates, jeopardizing a global goal set at a 2002 U.N. summit in Johannesburg "to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss".

Nobody can identify historical rates of extinction, since nobody really knows how many species existed at any period in time.

The UN isn't exactly the first place I'd go to for advice on how to prevent extinctions.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Spam Question

Is it possible to block emails with Cyrillic text in the main body? I get a lot of Russian spam.

So much for the end of the Cold War :-)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Not An Oleg Cassini Creation

The Manolo shows off a really big shoe.

Oleg Cassini (1913-2006)

When one thinks of fashion designers these days, one imagines those demented souls who create bizarre abstract sculptures out of the female form - examples here, here, here, and here. (One wonders if such stuff is ever seen anywhere other than a fashion show runway.) Most people have better fashion sense. They want to look attractive, not startling. High fashion traditionally sought elegance, and the greatest and most popular designers, Oleg Cassini included, never swayed from that goal to follow modernish fads that subtracted from beauty.

Rest in peace.

Here are some useful links:

Going The Way Of France

Today's headline: US spends its way to 28 Eiffel towers: made out of pure gold

Friday, March 17, 2006

Who're The Cats That Won't Cop Out, When Whiny Scientologists Are All About?

First, Isaac Hayes leaves the show famous for skewering religion more often than President Bush signs spending bills - when all of a sudden it's his Tom Cruise is now rumored to have entered the fray, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone respond:

"South Park" has declared war on Scientology. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the animated satire, are digging in against the celebrity-endorsed religion after a controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise was yanked abruptly from the schedule Wednesday _ with Internet rumors it was covert warfare by Cruise that led to its departure.

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the "South Park" creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. "Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies... You have obsructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!"

(musical reference)

Great Minds Think Alike

On June 7, 2005, I wrote:

Has she [Laura, bloghost of 11D] paid attention to all to the whirlwind of conservative howls against Dubya for signing McCain Feingold and the steel tariff, establishing the Transportation Safety Administration, making an empty response to the Terri Schiavo crisis, and spending money like a drunk teenager on Spring Break in Cancun with the parents' credit cards? (At least drunken sailors use their own money.)

On March 16, 2006, Peggy Noonan wrote:

The question has been on my mind since the summer of 2005 when, at a gathering of conservatives, the question of Mr. Bush and big spending was raised. I'd recently written [her Sep 22, 2005 column] on the subject and thought it significant that no one disagreed with my criticism. Everyone murmured about new programs, new costs, how the president "spends like a drunken sailor except the sailor spends his own money."

Emphasis added in both instances.

Noonan has some questions for President Bush:

Did you ever hold conservative notions and assumptions on the issue of spending? If so, did you abandon them after the trauma of 9/11? For what reasons, exactly? Did you intend to revert to conservative thinking on spending at some point? Do you still?

Were you always a liberal on spending? Were you, or are you, frankly baffled that conservatives assumed you were a conservative on spending? Did you feel they misunderstood you? Did you allow or encourage them to misunderstand you?

What are the implications for our country if spending levels continue to grow at their current pace?

What are the implications for the Republican party if it continues to cede one of the pillars on which it stood?

Did compassionate conservatism always mean big spending?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Update: Earlier in the article, Peggy Noonan wrote this:

I believe it is fair to say most Republicans did not think George W. Bush was motivated to run for the presidency for the primary reason of cutting or controlling spending. But it is also fair to say that they did not think he was Lyndon B. Johnson. And that's what he's turned into.

Samizdata quotes Bush praising the LBJ legacy.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

More McCain Musings

John Hawkins lists reasons not to vote for John McCain.

Something For Lost Fans

Einstein message generator is here (hat tip to Jay).

For the uninitiated - the significance of the numbers.

Labels: ,

Milosevic's Dead, So Now What?

At Frontpage Magazine, Julia Gorin has a lot to say about the Balkan ethnic cleansing that wasn't the subject of Milosevic's trial - that instigated by Islamic factions. She emphasizes the time period after the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, when the alleged genocides cited as casus belli for the Kosovo War were to have occurred.

The Wikipedia entry on the defendant has a relevant passage:

It was considered likely that, if allowed to present his case, [Milosevic] would attempt to establish that NATO's attack on Yugoslavia was aggressive, thus being a war crime under international law and that, while supporting the KLA, were aware that they had practiced and intended to continue practicing genocide, which is a crime against humanity. If a prima facie case for either claim were established, the ICTY would be legally obliged under its terms of reference to prepare an indictment against the leaders of most of the NATO countries, even though the Prosecutor already concluded an "inquiry" against the NATO leaders.

The article also mentions the testimony of General Wesley Clark, who claimed that Milosevic had privately confessed foreknowledge of the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre. In a court of law that's hearsay; who knows how a UN tribunal treats such testimony.

Ellen at Stranger in a Strange Land blogged on recent unconfirmed rumors of the capture of the Serbian general responsible for Srebrenica, Ratko Mladic. She includes a list of the indictments against him. The Wikipedia entry on him notes:

The Serbian government continues to tread carefully when it comes to rounding up domestically popular fugitives-on-the-run. On the one hand, the government wishes to maintain support of right-leaning voters. However, Serbia and Montenegro also wish to comply with The Hague with a view to future accession to the European Union.

If the Serbs are more diligent in tracking down Serbian war criminals, maybe they'll be in a petter position to influence the rest of the world to pay attention to the Islamofascist activity in the Balkans.

Ellen also has some thoughts on Milosevic's death.

Memo to Serbia: don't join the EU.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ethical Treatment Of Cartoon Animals

For those not familiar with "Over The Hedge," the strip is set in a suburb where RJ the raccoon, Verne the turtle, Sammy the squirrel and their friends routinely help themselves to the creature comforts of their human neighbors. Their scavenging goes beyond garbage scraps - they'll go straight into homes and raid refrigerators and cupboards and even take furniture and appliances. RJ in particular eats junk food in supersized proportions.

In the March 6 strip, an environmentalist couple living in the neighborhood discovers the trio lounging on a beat-up overstuffed chair watching television. Next day, as RJ sleeps on the chair and dreams of Froot Loops and dumpsters, they decide that something must be done:

Husband: "Let's rescue this poor creature from the corrosive touch of man."
Wife: "We'll clean up his forest home and erase all human influences."
Husband: [carrying armload of furniture, appliances, and food] "There you go, little're free to dream your natural raccoon dreams."

RJ wakes up, the stuff is gone, and RJ panics. Verne explains their motives:

They want to see nature in all her arms length...behind a sliding glass door...inside their climate-controlled mcmansions...

You realize, of course, that this means war. RJ throws a spear and misses. Verne considers the idea that maybe the little band of animals have become too dependent on those implements of humanity - until RJ informs Verne that they took his loofah; Verne attacks, yelling "WHERE IS IT, YOU ECO-IDIOT?! WHERE??." In today's strip, RJ stages his next act of defiance, breaking into their house and replacing their stash of wheat germ with pure cane sugar. Stay tuned.

The site's archive goes back for only one month without paid membership), so check out those comic strips now.

Speaking Of Steak...

Eat An Animal For PETA Day is today. I'm doing an all-beef theme this year. So far I've had some beef ravioli and a couple of hamburgers. Dinnertime is still a few hours away.

Update: Eight-ounce Kansas City strip. Yum.

Some Opposition Research For (Most) 2008 Presidential Aspirants

In the December 29, 1999 issue of the Idaho Mountain Express, former Arizona Republic publisher Pat Murphy wrote this editorial on the senator. The money quote:

If McCain becomes President, America will have more than a prickly president with a low boiling point. He carries grudges, fibs rather than admits mistakes, cannot endure criticism, threatens revenge, controls by fear, is consumed with self-importance.

He follows up with lots of details. The examples that stand out most are his intimidation of journalists, the Amy Silverman case in particular:

Upset about coverage in The Phoenix New Times by Amy Silverman, McCain phoned her father, Richard Silverman, general manager of the Arizona water-electricity utility Salt River Project to complain. McCain’s intent seemed clear—using muscle on the federally chartered SRP in hopes Silverman would pressure his daughter to cease.

"That reporter said mean things about me. I'm gonna call her dad." Yikes.

And McCain got a lot of press adulation during the 2000 race. Like Steak and Ale getting a PETA endorsement.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lost Musings

(Hat tip to Wikipedia for research material)

One thing that strikes me about the series is the number of boneheaded mistakes made by the castaways:

  • Not making weapons. Before the discovery of the US Marshal's weapon case (more on that in a bit), all they had were Locke's knives. Sayid should have applied his mechanical aptitude toward fashioning crossbows using metal and cable from the plane wreckage. You never know what's in that jungle - boars and "Others" and bears, oh my!
  • People walking in the jungle alone and unarmed. Enough said.
  • Not constructing durable shelter. Come on, over 40 days on the island and people are still living under tarps? You'd think Sawyer of all people would be building walls after that boar barged into his campsite.
  • Not addressing the language barrier. Apparently nobody took the initiative to try to teach the Kwons some simple English words. Sun already learned English; due to the violent nature of Jin's employment with her father and its affect on him, she had planned on leaving him in Australia. She should have had the courage to confess this to him, telling him that she changed her mind and chose to stay with him instead of going to the car awaiting her at the airport, asking for his forgiveness, and insisting that he start learning English so that he can better contribute to the rest and vice versa. It would have been preferable to the way that her secret came out.
  • Rousseau won't join the castaways. She can survive on her own, but if she ever needs a doctor she won't have the luxury of living next door to one. And she's holding back her own potential for contributing to who she should know by now to be her allies.
  • Failure to resolve the power struggle. Not counting Rousseau, the island has at least four super-sized egos: Locke, Jack, Sawyer, and "newcomer" Ana-Lucia. These egos have to somehow work together for the sake of survival. Locke vs. Jack is the biggest problem. There is no simple solution, but I'd like to see Sayid and Eko, both fairly level-headed guys, to work together discreetly to use their influence to ameliorate this ego conflict. Eko should be (and probably is) keeping a close eye on the volatile Ana-Lucia.

    Locke and Jack vs. Sawyer is a piece of cake, if someone can get through the egos of the first two to recognize the key to dealing with the irascible con man. Sawyer doesn't respond to people pushing him around. He responds to respect. Hurley seems to get more cooperation out of him than anyone else, and he treats Sawyer more diplomatically than the rest of the bunch. Sawyer's better side comes out through his better moments with Kate, and even one instance involving Jack, when the doc trusted Sawyer with a pistol prior to the raft expedition. Sawyer's hoarding isn't good, but there's a way to deal with it. Make a deal - he keeps the stuff, Hurley is appointed Official Person Who Knows What Sawyer Has, and work out a way to trade for Sawyer's stuff when needs arise. Promise to build him some boar-proof walls or something.
  • Keeping secrets about discoveries on the island. Sawyer had scavenged items from the plane for himself, so no one really knows what all he has. Jack and Kate didn't tell anyone about the firearms that were in the US Marshal's case. Locke is the big offender here. He apparently saw the "monster" in the episode "Walkabout." He also found the Beechcraft and the hatch to the Dharma Institute installation. Locke and Eko apparently didn't tell anyone about the spliced-out orientation film. Michael didn't tell anyone about the text messages coming through the computer. The existence of Henry Gale is currently a "state secret," known only to Jack, Locke, Sayid, and Eko.

    It is important that all survivors know what resources and what dangers exist on the island. Maybe there's items in Sawyer's stash that could be put to practical use Jungle travels could have been made safer with armed escort (which wasn't a standard practice even after the gun stash's existence was widely known). Locke's encounter with the "monster" revealed how to survive it - just stand still calmly; you'd think he would share this critical bit of info to the rest. Michael didn't know that some unspecified disastrous incident happened as a result of someone using the computer for communication purposes. If Gale really is a rich CEO guy, maybe someone at the camp saw him in the news - or maybe his social circles overlap those of rich CEO guy Hurley. Discovery of the hatch could have been followed with an all-out search for another way in by the whole community. The handling of the Beechcraft discovery doomed both Boone and Charlie. If more people had known about the plane, someone would have probably guessed the obvious conclusion of the laws of physics that A PLANE NESTLED IN A TREE CANOPY IS NOT SECURE ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO BE CRAWLING AROUND INSIDE. Perhaps a series of ropes could have been used to lower the plane to the ground, or at least to soften its crash landing. Also, Jack of all people would have secured the heroin out of others' reach. We don't know that Charlie is the only survivor who can be tempted by narcotics...

Some other thoughts:

  • Maybe Locke is wrong about the island - maybe it's a sadistic enemy instead of a friend. If some native entity is responsible for the renewed use of his legs, is that meant for good, or meant to get Locke into all sorts of trouble?
  • Maybe the numbers are actually lucky - creating "bad luck" out of "worse luck." For instance, the fire at the house that Hurley bought for his mom would have probably gotten a slower response if it hadn't been for the false arrest that placed cops right on the scene when it started. Rousseau is under the curse, too. If there is any silver lining regarding her situation, it is that her daughter Alex is not loyal to the Others who kidnapped her in infancy.
  • One theory on the drug used on Claire's baby and used by Desmond: it may be some psychoactive compound used to make the subject vulnerable to suggestion. It could explain why Claire was so trusting of Ethan and company (the medicine could have affected both mother and child), and how the now-deceased Kelvin managed to suck Desmond into the experiment.
  • Speaking of which, where is Kelvin's body?
  • Remember that cable Sayid found leading to Rousseau's camp? The other end of it went into the ocean. If I were Sayid, I'd be curious enough to find out where the underwater end of that cable leads.
  • Hurley was right; Sun Kwon is hot. (See memorable quotes under the Lost IMDb listing.)

Update: The Lost fansite has a pretty cool icon gallery. Some of my favorites are:

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Monday, March 13, 2006

In Case You Were Wondering...

...Dubai Ports World has found an American entity to assume the management of those ports.

Cattle Futures

The Department of Homeland Security needs to address this problem.

(Link via Jay Manifold)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Speaking Of Islam...

Eugene Volokh reviews the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Check it out.

Dance Fever

Another Andrew Sullivan story catches my eye. BBC News tells the tale of sixteen-year-old VP Rubiya:

The family of a young Muslim girl in India's southern state of Kerala say they are being shunned by the local mosque committee (mahallu) because she is practising Indian classical dance.

The mahallu may have a legitimate grievance. One of the dance forms in question, Bharatanatyam, is explicitly religious in nature:

Bharatanatyam is the manifestation of the South Indian idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the material body. In Hindu mythology the whole universe is the dance of the Supreme Dancer, Nataraja, a name for Lord Shiva, the Hindu ascetic yogi and divine purveyor of destruction of evil.

Later in that Wikipedia article is this statement:

At present, not only the Hindus but many Christians and Muslims learn it, bringing it beyond the rigid forms of religious boundaries.

Is this right? Let's do a hypotherical comparison. Some Hindu choristers take musical inspiration from Gregorian chant, an art form invented by a faith that teaches that Hindu gods are fake. There is no religious conflict of interest if they adopt the musical style and not the religious message. Likewise, those of non-Hindu faiths taking inspiration from Bharatanatyam must exclude the gestures that signify themes incompatible with their own faith. Doing otherwise would be as hypocritical as Richard Dawkins singing "Amazing Grace."

The original article doesn't address this key issue. It does say that Miss Rubiya has performed at over 50 temples - apparently meaning Hindu temples. I am not that familiar with the customs of Hindu temples to know whether they commonly host nonsectiarian entertainment, and whether such performances qualify as such. But one can easily get the impression that Rubiya is directly participating in the religious ceremonies of one faith while belonging to another. If she loves to dance and doesn't want to be a Hindu, she should heed the aforementioned advice.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Even Gets Trolls

Rand Simberg blogged on this issue here, and cited the Amazon reviews of Glenn Reynolds' An Army of Davids as an example. The review written by C. Henderson "kharma" of Melbourne, FL is typical of this kind of trollage - off-subject attacks against the author, little to nothing about the book's contents:

so where is the small government? Where is the fiscal responsibility? Where is the honest open accountability? Reynolds pretends conservatism but in reality is another failed neo-con shill. has already taken steps to prune some of these non-reviews. The first time I checked out the review of Glenn's book there was one "review" than ranted about Bush, Halliburton, "oiloiloil" and the Iraq War. Wish I had saved it.

Reviewer Shamm Gold notes how Amazon's troll problem validates the theme of An Army of Davids:

I'm a moderate Dem, and very much like this thought-provoking book.

It is interesting to see those on far left who clearly haven't read the book post negative reviews. In a way, the Amazon reviews themselves are a case-study of the expected progression that is the thesis of Reynolds' book.

1. Davids versus Goliaths - like Amazon letting readers rate books, rather than only including newspaper book reviews. This is where Reynolds spends most of his time.

2. Bad Davids (those who review book without even reading it) versus "new Goliath comprised of Davids" (the Amazon book rating system).

3. Good Davids (I would include any negative reviewer of "Army" who has actually read the book) to take on the "Bad Davids," by writing posts such as the previous one, alerting readers to existence of Bad Davids.

4. Armies of Davids-and-Goliaths against other Davids-and-Goliaths, sort of like B-2 bombers and infantry of two sides...

Update: One of Rand's commenters transcribed the "oiloiloil" review - I was one "oil" short:

The usual far-right crap about how Rush and Hanity and wingnut Freeper bloggers are going to censor the "big" media and pimp corporations and the GOP. This is just more examples of the vile Halliburton Enronism crony capitalism. In the "Army of Davids" it's all about oiloiloiloil, cowboyish disregard for allies, see the photo of Rummy and Hussein. I'd rename the book "Amry of Warmonger Chickenhawks Who Pimp For Wal-Mart and Karl Rove."

This is the first time I saw anyone link Bush to Wal-Mart. Maybe I haven't been getting out enough.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

He Picked The Wrong Word

Thus spake Ang Lee:

He said movies are a form of dissent.

"That's why we make movies. Otherwise, we just have a leader issue an order and we all follow. Why else would there be filmmakers like us? Why else would people lock themselves in a dark room and watch a movie together?" Lee said.

No film is agreeable to all segments of a pluralistic society, so films dissent by default. All directors know that not everybody is going to like their work. But most filmmakers don't try consciously to confront viewers outside their market niche; the former simply ignore the latter.

Replace the word "dissent" with "individuality" and Lee's remarks make a lot more sense. Directors are entrepreneurs. They call the shots on what product they sell. People lock themselves in dark theaters because directors manage to offer movies that complement their individual tastes. I didn't watch Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit to rebel - I watched to be entertained.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some Ideas Are So Idiotic Only A Genius Can Conjure Them, Part Deux

Andrew Sullivan asks:

Remember when the conventional elite wisdom was that racial difference was entirely a social construction and had no basis in genetics?

He links to this article on genetic research that confounds such a line of thinking.

That serious individuals could have ever entertained the idea that race is just a figment of society boggles the mind. I suppose that this sort of whackball theorizing is an overreaction to the opposite extreme that grossly exaggerates racial differences, and/or invents such differences out of whole cloth.

Coincidentally, the phrase "conventional wisdom" was invented by John Kenneth Galbraith.

Some Ideas Are So Idiotic Only A Genius Can Conjure Them

I stumbled an interview of John Kenneth Galbraith in an October issue of The Progressive. Note this exchange:

Q: Another observation you're famous for is juxtaposing "public squalor" with "private affluence."

Galbraith: There's no question that in my lifetime, the contrast between what I called private affluence and public squalor has become very much greater. What do we worry about? We worry about our schools. We worry about our public recreational facilities. We worry about our law enforcement and our public housing. All of the things that bear upon our standard of living are in the public sector. We don't worry about the supply of automobiles. We don't even worry about the supply of foods. Things that come from the private sector are in abundant supply; things that depend on the public sector are widely a problem. We're a world, as I said in The Affluent Society, of filthy streets and clean houses, poor schools and expensive television. I consider that contrast to be one of my most successful arguments.

The obvious conclusion is that the private sector creates wealth, whereas the public sector does not - or does so inefficiently in the case of nationalized commercial ventures such as Amtrak. But Galbraith does not see this, as anyone familiar with his philosophy knows. Harrison Drake's review of The Affluent Society (PDF file) explains Galbraith's prescription:

Next, Galbraith informs the reader about the effects of the Dependence Effect. He says that "the line which divides our area of wealth from our area of poverty is roughly that which divides privately produced and marketed goods and services from publicly rendered services ..." In fact, "our wealth in privately produced goods is, to a marked degree, the cause of crisis in the supply of public services. For we have failed to see the importance of maintaining a balance between the two." [quoting The Affluent Society, p. 251]

In short, to Galbraith the gap exists because government has failed to balance the public and private sectors. Such "balance" can be achieved only by taking from the private sector, which reduces not only its produced wealth but also its capacity for future wealth creation. Since government doesn't create anything, such attempts at "balance" reduce overall national wealth. Government budget projections fail, and lawmakers are at a loss to understand why.

Friday, March 03, 2006

More Wright Amendment Push-Polling - This Time By Mail

(Refer to my earlier post on a pro-Wright telephone poll.)

A reader sent me a PDF file (size: 720K) of a recent survey mailed out to Dallas residents by MASTERPLAN, a local firm that, as stated here, "provides professional consultation to businesses, individuals, utilities and government agencies in all matters relating to land use, including zoning, subdivisions, building permits and other development approvals."

The accompanying "Wright Amendment Background" sheet lists negative aspects of expanded flights to and from Love Field that fall within the consulting firm's domain of expertise - specifically, expected increases in both noise levels and traffic congestion. The quiz itself has five questions. Two inquire about driving habits. The other three are:

  • If additional vehicular traffic congestion is a result of changes to the Wright Amendment, which three alternate routes would you use to avoid congestion on the major thoroughfares in the Love Field Airport area?
  • The Institute of Transportation Engineers calculates that each commercial flight per day results in 150 trip ends on a typical weekday. Do you believe the thoroughfares can accommodate the resulting increase in airport related traffic? Additionally, do you believe the benefits of additional destinations from Love Field justify the increase in additional traffic?
  • In 2001 representatives from Love Field area neighborhood groups, airlines, general aviation operators, City of Dallas officials and others developed the Love Field Master Plan. This document was based on the premise that the Wright Amendment would remain intact. Now that the Wright Amendment has been altered and compromised the validity of the Love Field Master Plan, would you favor the City of Dallas adopting a new master plan for the airport?

If killing the Wright Amendment means less air traffic for DFW and more for Love Field, then if MASTERPLAN's prognostications are correct, that means more noise and traffic for the Love Field area in Dallas and less for the suburbs that border DFW: Euless, Grapevine, Coppell, a tiny sliver of Fort Worth, and my native Irving. Nobody's polling me about the impact of federal aviation regulation on my work commutes.

The fears of increased traffic directly to Love Field assume that the additional customers would be parking at the current parking facilities. MASTERPLAN doesn't consider the possibility that remote parking away from the Love Field area could be built. (As this map shows, Love Field has no direct freeway access; remote parking on the freeway would be a good idea now, if it doesn't already exist.) Nor has it factored in the (probably small) percentage that would rely on Dallas Area Rapid Transit to get to Love and require no parking at all.

Take another look at that map. You'll notice that Texas Stadium is only four miles west of Love. In a few years Jerry Jones will have built his new stadium in Arlington. Maybe Love could appropriate some of that parking space?

Update: MASTERPLAN's client list includes American Airlines. But not Southwest Airlines.

The firm's home page has a direct link to a propaganda letter issued by Dan Garton, Executive Vice President of American Airlines. For a differing opinion, here's Southwest chairman Herb Kelleher's testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Aviation (November 10, 2005).

Update: Welcome Virginia Postrel readers!

Start Making Those Dinner Plans

Eat An Animal For PETA Day is March 15th. Meryl Yourish, the holiday's originator, has related links here. Lawrence Simon is keeping a list of official gatherings - enter yours today!

My breakfast/lunch/dinner meat selections of last year's EAAPTD are blogged here.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Word Cloud

Bloggers, you can make your own word cloud here. Just right-click and save the image - and if you feel so inclined, you can order a t-shirt imprinted with your word cloud.

Link via Jay Manifold and Virginia Postrel.

Separated At Birth?

Michael Chertoff and Dr. Phil

Jewlicious reports that Eric Muller thinks Chertoff resembles someone else.

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