April 2004 Archives
From Engaget comes a link to the news story: Israeli Fire-Fighting Robots Extinguish Competition bq. Israeli-designed and operated robots swept the 11th Annual International Fire Fighting Robot Contest this month, taking the three top prizes and six of the top ten places. Forty-five teams from seven different countries, including ten from Israel, took part in the competition, which was held at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Digging further, here is the site for the competition itself: The 2004 Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest bq. Founded in 1994 by Jake Mendelssohn and moved to Trinity College in 1995, the Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest has grown every year and gained worldwide involvement with people of all ages and affiliations. A close re-evaluation of the event has indicated that it can continue to flourish with a clear mission statement that focuses on innovation, sportsmanship, creativity, and non-commercialism. Lots of pictures - looks like a really fun event!
Some interesting economic facts about Sweden from Tyler at Marginal Revolution: bq. 1. No new net jobs have been produced in the Swedish private sector since 1950. bq. 2. "None of top 50 companies on the Stockholm stock exchange has been started since 1970." bq. 3. "...well over 1 million people out of a work force of around four million did not work in 2003 but lived on various kinds of public welfare programs, such as, pre-pension schemes, unemployment benefits, sick-leave programs, etc." bq. 4. "Sweden has dropped from fourth to 14th place in 2002 among the OECD countries (i.e., affluent industrialized countries) in terms of GDP per capita since 1970." Tyler links to the paper these figures came from here as well as a summary here
Friday and time for another essay by Victor Davis Hanson. Today's is a call for perseverance in the form of a speech. A speech that President Bush needs to give: bq. What the President Might Say It is about more than just Fallujah. bq. We are presently engaged in a world war for our civilization and its vision of a just and humane society. Our values will either endure this present struggle and indeed be invigorated by the ordeal, or like once great civilizations of the past we will stumble in the face of barbarism and lose all that we hold dear. Across the world in places as diverse as Madrid, Fallujah, Kandahar, Thailand, Amman, and Bali agents of intolerance and religious fascism seek to terrorize and thereby eventually destroy the promise of a free and tolerant mankind. We must be as determined to defeat them as they are to destroy us. bq. Americans believe that freedom and consensual government � far from being the exclusive domain of the West � are ideals central to the human condition and the shared aspirations of all born into this world. That is the great hope we embrace now in Iraq, that as we rout those who advocate fundamentalism and intolerance, millions of others will gain confidence and join the struggle for democratic change. But until then, even as we speak, millions, sometimes in fear and silence, are watching our present efforts. They are uncertain of the outcome. They wait to pledge their allegiance to the victor, hoping, but not yet convinced, that we can defeat those who would impose tyranny and intolerance on any who would seek to reform and escape from their present misery. He also talks about our dependency on middle-0eastern oil and the need for a better energy policy: bq. More concretely, we must wean ourselves from the imported petroleum of the Persian Gulf, whose dollars so often fuel and subsidize the fundamentalists who have killed thousands and wish to kill still thousands more Americans. Let us in a bipartisan manner agree on a new energy strategy aimed precisely to curb the appetite for imported oil that has so often served as our own nemesis. bq. Surely conservatives can agree to reasonable mileage standards for new cars that will have the eventual practical effect of reducing our nation's daily consumption of oil. By the same token, surely liberals can agree to explore our own Arctic Circle for known petroleum, under careful environmental scrutiny to ensure that such resources are extracted with more care at home than they are currently extracted abroad, in areas where our own environmental protocols have no sway. bq. We Americans cannot expect to drive cars that consume more gasoline than they need nor demand of others to tap their own fragile environment for resources that we desire but would not do the same for at home. Meanwhile, we must enter on a new Manhattan project, a similar wartime effort to find new sources of energy to fuel our transportation, homes, and commerce, so that never again can agents of destruction and barbarism seek to hold the United States hostage, and use the fruits of our own commerce from which to buy the very weapons to destroy us. Good stuff all of it...
In today's Seattle Times, there was an article regarding three students from a local high-school who were studying Buddhism and who took the opportunity to visit the Dali Lama at a recent retreat in California. They had a simple question: bq. "How can you have the self-confidence to be selfless without being an individual and still know that you are doing the right thing?"
From Yahoo/Reuters: bq. Fort Worth police said Sharon Luck, 43, was arrested on suspicion of robbing a bank in the city early on Wednesday, after a woman gave a bank teller a threatening note and walked out with cash to which the dye pack had been attached. OK - now how did they catch her? bq. Luck is suspected of taking the money to a bank in Burleson, about 20 miles away. Police said she was apparently going to deposit the stolen cash when things went awry. bq. "When she opened her purse, the dye pack detonated," said Lt. Abdul Pridgen, a Fort Worth police spokesman. Geeezzz - you rob a bank and then go deposit the money in another bank without checking it first?
From Mercury News: bq. In one of the Bay Area's largest oil spills of the past 20 years, a break in a pipeline was blamed Thursday for a spill that dumped up to 42,000 gallons of diesel fuel into Suisun Marsh, about five miles south of Fairfield. bq. Cleanup crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, along with private contractors, used absorbent pads and booms to limit the spill's impacts. The Coast Guard said the diesel had been contained in about 250 acres of the marsh, a key habitat for ducks and other wildlife, and was not expected to spread into San Francisco Bay. bq. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the pipeline's owner, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, based in Dallas, noticed a drop in pressure in the line, said Gene Braithwaite, Kinder's director of operations. Crews from the company did not find the break until midday Wednesday, he said. bq. Braithwaite estimated that up to 1,000 barrels of diesel, or 42,000 gallons, had spilled, although some authorities said the amount may be larger. Crap... They need beter monitoring then just sending someone around to look...
This is so unexpected... The New York Post reports: bq. The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday. bq. The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over. bq. The world body claims it transferred all information it had - including 3,059 contracts worth about $6.2 billion for delivery of food and other civilian goods to the post-Saddam governing body, the Coalition Provisional Authority. bq. But the GAO report also found that a database the U.N. transferred to the authority was "unreliable because it contained mathematical and currency errors in calculation of contract costs," the report found. Unexpected and shocking... Of course, this is an honest mistake and the poor people at the United Nations have no idea what happened to the missing documentation...
From The World Tribune: bq. U.S. military commanders said Sunni insurgents in Iraq have obtained the SA-16 surface-to-air missile. The SA-16 is a modified version of the older SA-7 and represents a greater threat to U.S. and coalition aircraft. bq. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of military operation, said a U.S. military raid netted a range of Soviet-origin anti-aircraft missiles. He said they included the SA-16 and SA-14 missiles. bq. "The operation resulted in the capture of one enemy personnel, and also confiscated were an SA-16 missile, an SA-14 missile, two 82-millimeter systems, 31 rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, and a large quantity of small arms and ammunition," Kimmitt said. bq. The SA-16 has a range of five kilometers and is guided by a infrared and optical seekers, Middle East Newsline reported. Now how did these 'freedom fighters' obtain recent Russian weapons... This wouldn't be one of the reasons that Russia fought so hard in the United Nations to keep us out of any actual conflict now would it??? Again, the people we are fighting now are the same people who would cheer Saddam. Ex-Baath party terrorists and thugs who do not want peace, they want power and corruption. Time to root this vermin out of their holes and bring this nation to peace and prosperity.
Back40 at CrumbTrail has a wonderful takedown of hand-wringing enviro writer George Monbiot who wrote an article on CO2 recently in The Guardian From Back40: bq. It isn't often that a confused pundit perfectly encapsulates their central confusion, but little George, apparently unwittingly, has done so. bq. (quoting from the Guardian article): If it is true [anthropogenic climate change], as the government's new report suggested last week, that it is now too late to prevent hundreds of thousands of British people from being flooded out of their homes, then the journalists who have consistently and deliberately downplayed the threat carry much of the responsibility for the problem. It is time we stopped treating them as bystanders. It is time we started holding them to account. bq. (Back40's commentary): No George, it was too late before we knew it was a problem. When your type was still living in dread of nuclear winter the atmosphere had already been filled with CO2 that will last 100 years. We cannot prevent CO2 emissions from accumulating. We cannot prevent climate change. Kyoto, even with the most optimistic forecasts, would have had an exceedingly negligible effect over the next 100 years. bq. We cannot prevent CO2 emissions. We can reduce them a bit, though not enough to matter, and we may be able to draw some CO2 out of the atmosphere. We can anticipate and prepare for consequences. We can keep doing useful science on all fronts in reasonable expectation of improved understanding of the system and improved methods to achieve our policies. bq. The vast majority of those who have examined the evidence agree that the climate has changed and will continue to do so. A similarly large group agrees that humans have done things to affect climate change. But there are a wide variety of views on how much change has occurred, or will occur, or the causal relationships. We have done so many things, everything from plowing up the land releasing billions of tons of soil carbon into the atmosphere, to filling the sky with cirrus clouds from jet engine exhaust that blanket the earth keeping more heat in than is blocked out, to altering the albedo of the planet so that it reflects less radiation out to space. And many other things as well, we discover new insults frequently. We don't know how the climate might have changed in the same period even if there had been no humans, or even if human acts have been beneficial, altering some worse natural change. bq. Climate management is much more complex than politicians and journalists realize. It isn't a simple matter of being more frugal in some activity such as burning fuels. The worst thing we could do is to squander our wealth and energy on a large and ineffective program. bq. A better argument can be made for publicly denouncing the Moonbats of the world than for denouncing skeptics. By whipping up populist authoritarian fervor about the wrong problems and the wrong solutions, wealth, energy and attention has been squandered that could have been more productively applied to useful research into causes and possible management techniques. Emphasis mine - truer words were never spoken. The problem is that these hand-wringing propagandists get the public whipped into a frenzy, the public starts demanding things from their elected officials and the elected officials start implementing public policy based on their constituents requests. Often times, these policies are damaging to the environment and the economy. Not a good scenario...
From AP News: bq. 10 PRINT "In 1963 two Dartmouth College math professors had a radical" 20 PRINT "idea - create a computer language muscular enough to harness" 30 PRINT "the power of the period's computers, yet simple enough that even" 40 PRINT "the school's janitors could use it." 50 END bq. A year later on May 1, 1964, the BASIC computer programing language (as demonstrated above) was born and for the first time computers were taken out of the lab and brought into the community. bq. Forty years later pure BASIC - Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code - has all but disappeared, but its legacy lives on. bq. "This is the birth of personal computing," said Arthur Luehrmann, a former Dartmouth physics professor who is writing a book about BASIC's development at the university. "It was personal computing before people knew what personal computing was." bq. Paul Vick, a senior developer at Microsoft, said his company owes much to BASIC, the software giant's first product. Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office suite still use a descendent called Visual Basic. This brings back memories... My first contact with computers was programming BASIC and FORTRAN on an IBM/360 timesharing system. Then the microcomputing scene hit and BASIC was generally the first programming language available for any of the new systems. I had a South West Technical Product 6800 system with BASIC interpreter that fit into 8K of system memory. (I had a whopping 32K of memory available to me)
Here is a link to an online journal called The Frugal Outdoorsman. Excellent resource for camping, guns, food preservation, hunting, etc... From the introduction: bq. In this online magazine you'll find no articles about fancy fishing rigs and magnum rifles. We believe that cane poles, trotlines, and nets are the best ways to catch fish. Cast bullets in the venerable 30-30 Winchester and in traditional muzzleloaders are the best ways to harvest deer. In our cooking section, you'll find only articles and recipes cooked on a campfire or in a camp Dutch oven with coals beneath it and in the lid. Our camping section contains articles and camping hints about tent camping only. In this magazine the words bass boat, magnum, inline, scope, and RV are dirty words. Great links to interesting vendors too.
Interesting article in today's NY Times (Hat tip to Lee at MooreWatch) bq. A Pentagon intelligence report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad. (emphasis mine) bq. The report states that Iraqi officers of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq. bq. In addition, suicide bombers have worn explosives-laden vests made before the war under the direction of of M-14 officers, according to the report, prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The report also cites evidence that one such suicide attack last April, which killed three Americans, was carried out by a pregnant woman who was an M-14 colonel. bq. Its findings were based on interrogations with high-ranking M-14 members who are now in American custody, as well as on documents uncovered and translated by the Iraq Survey Group. While the report cites specific evidence, other important assessments of American intelligence on Iraq have been challenged and even proven wrong. This makes a lot of sense - when the coalition initially invaded, the enemy melted away very quickly. It would be to much to hope for that they disappeared. No, they went under cover and are now returning to cause problems. When this core group of people are taken care of, things will go a lot easier for everyone.
From Richard Bennett's Mossback's Progress comes this link to a new book at Amazon.com with the comment: bq. Check these book reviews on Amazon for insight into our culture's most pressing issues. Some excerpts from the reviews: bq. And what a saga it is, surpassing "Buddenbrooks", rivaling "War and Peace", leaving Dickens and Balzac bobbing in his wake. As the Millennium stumbles on towards a future too hideous to contemplate, Keane reminds us that family love, along with a bit of light-hearted dikplay, is just the tonic for jaded hearts. And more: bq. Another addition in a long list of family-centered literary and visual masterpieces, this book reveals, at long last, Billy's true desires. In a long, drawn out mushroom induced dream sequence, we first see Billy on the streets of Mogadishu, strung out on khat, looking for a way to get out of Somalia and start his life over again in America. Eventually, Billy wins a visa and is on his way! But after only a few weeks on the streets of NYC, we see Billy living in a cardboard crate... Truly a classic.
Not the kind for consumption, the kind used for "renewable" fuel... And guess who is spearheading this - little Tommy Daschle. From Agriculture News: bq. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle tried to add language doubling U.S. use of ethanol on Tuesday to an Internet tax bill, plucking the most popular piece out of a long-stalled energy bill. And, as if the Internet tax was going to be a reality -- Bush's stated policy was that he wanted a moratorium on it until at least 2007 -- he has stated that he wants every household in the USA to have high-speed internet access by that time. bq. Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici responded by trying to attach a slimmed-down package to Daschle's amendment, setting off a round of finger-pointing over who was delaying the energy bill. bq. Under Senate rules, a vote on Daschle's amendment would not occur until Thursday, although Domenici, New Mexico Republican, said his approach might prevail sooner. bq. Majority Leader Bill Frist planned to file a separate motion later on Tuesday to limit discussion on Domenici's amendment, setting the stage for a vote on Thursday, a Frist spokeswoman said. bq. Earlier this year Domenici abandoned a $16 billion comprehensive energy bill in favor of cheaper legislation that would boost electric grid reliability and repeal Depression-era rules limiting utility mergers, among other things. The cost of the fuel can be borne now -- what we are having serious problems with is the physical infrastructure and this is what needs to be addressed. Domenici's amended plan was the one to go for but it got nixed via the petty partisanship that is the hallmark of the current Democratic party. The technology industry may be in the dumpster these days but it is still a tens of billions of dollars/year machine and something that would hurt the online retailers and the VoIP market would get lots of letters written to the various representatives in Washington. The big joke here is the fact that it takes more fossil fuels to grow, harvest, ferment, distill, purify, transport and store the ethanol than you get out of it when combusted. The much vaunted "alternative energy source" is actually an energy sink. Not a big one but a sink nonetheless.
There is a link from James Taranto's excellent Best of the Web column titled: "Europe vs. International Law" and it points to this article in National Review Online that says: From James: bq. Writing in National Review Online, Joshua Muravchik argues that Europe, by denouncing Israel for defending itself against the terror group Hamas, is not only acting in a morally craven fashion but defying international law From Joshua: bq. Each of these European states is a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Unlike, say, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the genocide convention is a treaty, with the force of law. It is one of the oldest, and perhaps the most widely subscribed piece of international human-rights legislation, and arguably the one with the soundest legal foundation, codifying what the Nuremberg tribunal and the U.N. General Assembly in its very first session found to be existing customary law. bq. Article One of the convention obligates every party "to prevent and punish" genocide as "a crime under international law." The convention goes on to define genocide as, inter alia, "killing" intended "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." bq. By this definition, it is clear that Hamas is an organization devoted to genocide and has been working busily at this mission for years. Hamas's goal is the complete destruction of the Jewish state. As the late Rantisi himself affirmed: "By God, we will not leave one Jew in Palestine." Nor did Rantisi leave doubt about what would become of these Jews. Asked by an interviewer "what do you see ultimately happening to the people [of] Israel?" Rantisi replied: "They killed thousands of Palestinians.... so I think it is just to do with them as they did with us." bq. Nor are Hamas's intended targets limited to Israeli Jews. Hamas's covenant boasts: "HAMAS regards itself the spearhead and the vanguard of the circle of struggle against World Zionism [and] the fight against the warmongering Jews." It makes clear that there is to be no end of killing: "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'" bq. In short, Hamas's and Rantisi's platform is as clearly formulated a project of genocide as we have had since Mein Kampf. And indeed, Hamas has expressed a solicitousness for Hitler's project. As Rantisi put it, to compare Zionism to Nazism is "an insult to Nazism." Crystal clear and to the point. The Islamofacists are excellent at manipulating the Western media to their ends. They say one thing in English but if you go to any of the sites that translate the Arabic media into English, you will see quite a different side to their story. The West is kuffir - they have zero problems lying to our faces since we aren't Islam. It is unfortunate that the Europeans have bought into this so deeply. Terror will visit them on their soil soon enough and I hope it will serve as a wake-up call. For your reference, an English translation of the Hamas Charter can be found at the Palestine Center here. Use your brosers Find function (CTRL+F) to look for the word "Jew" and see the context in which this word is found. Scan through the entire document and see the language. These are not spiritual people, these are cultists who follow a corrupt leader.
Charles at LGF has a link to an interesting development in the Oil-For-Food scandal in the United Nations. According from an article in the New York Post, it seems that: bq. A former manager in the scandal-scarred oil for food program will tell Congress today how top U.N. officials running the program deliberately looked the other way, congressional officials said last night. bq. Frenchman Michael Soussan, a former program coordinator for the $100 billion fund, is expected to be the star witness of a House International Relations Committee hearing looking into Saddam's gigantic $10.1 billion rip-off. bq. Committee sources said Soussan, now a New York-area writer, is expected to give the first, under oath, public account from an insider about how top U.N. officials were aware of Saddam's oil smuggling and kickback schemes but chose to let him get away with it. Tip of the iceberg... Should be interesting to see what fallout there is from this.
From The Register comes this link to a site in Russia that purports to be selling legal MP3 files for a fraction of any US based vendors. The site is All Of MP3 The cost of downloading is one penny per megabyte. From their website: bq. Allofmp3.com multimedia catalogue is one of the oldest projects of the Russian Internet, devoted to digital music and video. Our four-year operational experience in the electronic media-market has allowed us to create this unique service, enabling each of our users to find out and download music and video materials conveniently and quickly.
From Yahoo/Reuters comes this interesting bit of propaganda coming from the North Korean government in the aftermath of the horrible train accident the other week. bq. Many North Koreans died a "heroic death" after last week's train explosion by running into burning buildings to rescue portraits of leader Kim Jong-il and his father, the North's official media reported on Wednesday. bq. Portraits of Kim and his late father, national founder Kim Il-sung, are mandatory fixtures in every home, office and factory in the hardline communist state of 23 million. All adults are required to wear lapel pins bearing images of one or both Kims. bq. Last Thursday's blast in the town of Ryongchon, near the Chinese border, killed at least 161 people and injured 1,300, according to international relief agencies. Many of the victims were children. bq. The dead also included workers and teachers who died clutching the portraits of the country's ruling family, said North Korea's official KCNA news agency. bq. "Many people of the county evacuated portraits before searching after their family members or saving their household goods," KCNA said in a report with a Ryongchon dateline. Here is the English version of the KCMA website (all of their sites are hosted in Japan for some reason).
From Yahoo/AP: bq. The U.S. military is demanding the return of five howitzers that two Sierra Nevada ski resorts use to prevent avalanches, saying it needs the guns for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. bq. Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain received the artillery pieces on loan from the Army and began using them last year to fire rounds into mountainsides and knock snow loose. bq. But the ski resorts received word earlier this month that the Army's Tank Automotive and Armaments Command at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois needs the howitzers back immediately. bq. "I need to have them back in the troops' hands within 60 to 90 days," said Don Bowen, the Army command's team leader in charge of the howitzers. "It's a very short timeframe to get them serviceable and back into the theater in southwest Asia. Afghanistan-Iraq is the immediate concern." bq. The ski resorts said they will comply. Howitzers and canons are used in Washington state too for avalance control. Works out to be the best way possible - trigger them under controlled conditions and relieve the potential danger.
Interesting report from CNN World: bq. UK Navy denies submarine mutiny Eleven sailors were permitted to leave a British nuclear submarine after expressing fears over its safety, the Ministry of Defense has confirmed. bq. Crewmen on HMS Trafalgar raised concerns with their commanding officer who felt "the most prudent action was to land them and replace them," according an MoD spokesman. bq. The spokesman "categorically denied" any suggestions of a "mutiny" on board, and said that no individuals refused to sail on the submarine. bq. "A number of allegations were made concerning systems defects on the submarine -- all of which have been examined, the majority of which have been unfounded and none of which had any serious safety implications," he said. bq. He added, "The Royal Navy would never send a submarine to sea unless it was totally confident it was safe to do so."
Thanks to ResearchBuzz we have this link to Australian Journals OnLine, a database of over 2,000 magazines, journals, etc. with primarily Australian content. The site is run by The National Library of Australia It is new and is getting hit pretty hard -- refresh the page if you get a server error or try later. Looks like an amazing resource.
From The R.I.O.T. Wheel comes this unique vehicle. R.I.O.T. stands for Re Invention Of the Wheel - the unit pictured above is #1, they are working on #2 to be a nimble about-town vehicle and on #3 to try for the world land speed record.
Also from Gizmodo comes this blinged-out golf cart: bq. If you're going to drop a ride, playa, then you drop that ride. I don't know any of the details, but when my pal Matt sent me these pictures of a blinged out golf cart, I immediately pawed at my chest, and sure enough, this shit was right off the chizane. Photos here, here, here, here and here. Heh...
From Gizmodo comes this announcement of a new product that we all need... bq. Nothing says Summer like scraping hand salsa out your sweaty mouse crevices. I'd say just suck it up and wash your hands more often, but if you'd like to throw some technologickal arts at it, consider Mouse Grips, a set of neoprene traction pads that stick on to your mouse to provide better purchase (because hands are always just flying off the mouse) and to get a little air flow under there. It seems like adding more corners for gunk to get trapped in might be a bad idea, but Viperlair seems to like them. Here is a link to the manufacturer
Back40 at CrumbTrail has a link to a very interesting application of nano-technology. From EurekAlert: bq. "As everyone knows," says Kiely, "normal bulk gold is shiny, it is gold in color, it is inert, and it conducts electricity. bq. "If, however, you shrink gold down to a nanoparticle, its properties change dramatically. Its color changes, it becomes a very good catalyst, and is no longer a metal - instead it turns into a semiconductor." And the application that Back40 was talking about? Here is another EurekAlert article: bq. Since the advent of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nearly 20 years ago, scientists have been trying to overturn this method for analyzing DNA with something better. The "holy grail" in this quest is a simple method that could be used for point-of-care medical diagnostics, such as in the doctor's office or on the battlefield. And more: bq. The new selective and ultra-sensitive technology, which is based on gold nanoparticles and DNA, is easier to use, considerably faster, more accurate and less expensive than PCR, making it a leading candidate for use in point-of-care diagnostics. The method, called bio-bar-code amplification (BCA), can test a small sample and quickly deliver an accurate result. BCA also can scan a sample for many different disease targets simultaneously. And more: bq. "For each molecule of captured target DNA, thousands of bar-code DNA strands are released, which is a powerful way of amplifying the signal for a DNA target of interest, such as anthrax," said Mirkin, also George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry. "There is power in its simplicity." bq. The technology could be commercially available for certain diseases in one year, Mirkin said.
Claudia Rosett has been following the UNSCAM developments and has another chapter in today's Wall Street Opinion Journal (Hat tip to Friends of Saddam) bq. Oil-for-Terror U.N. Iraq money may have ended up in accounts tied to al Qaeda and the Taliban. bq. It's looking more and more as if one of the best reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein was that it was probably the only way to get rid of Oil-for-Food. The problem wasn't simply that this huge United Nations relief program for Iraq became a gala of graft, theft, fraud, palace-building and global influence-peddling--though all that was quite bad enough. The picture now emerging is that under U.N. management the Oil-for-Food program, which ran from 1996-2003, served as a cover not only for Saddam's regime to cheat the Iraqi people, but to set up a vast and intricate global network of illicit finance. And more (talking about who the oil was sold to): bq. In tallying various leaked lists, disturbing leads and appalling expos�s to date, what becomes ever more clear is that Oil-for-Food quickly became a global maze of middlemen, shell companies, fronts and shadowy connections, all blessed by the U.N. From this labyrinth, via kickbacks on underpriced oil and overpriced goods, Saddam extracted, by conservative estimates of the General Accounting Office, at least $4.4 billion in graft, plus an additional $5.7 billion on oil smuggled out of Iraq. Meanwhile, Mr. Annan's Secretariat shrugged and rang up its $1.4 billion in Iraqi oil commissions for supervising the program. Worse, the GAO notes that anywhere from $10 billion to as much as $40 billion may have been socked away in secret by Saddam's regime. The assumption so far has been that most of the illicit money flowed back to Saddam in the form of fancy goods and illicit arms. bq. But no one really knows right now just how much of those billions went where -- or what portion of that kickback cash Saddam might have forwarded to whatever he deemed a worthy cause. A look at one of the secret U.N. lists of clients authorized by the U.N. to buy from Saddam is not reassuring. It includes more than 1,000 companies, scattered from Liberia to South Africa to oil-rich Russia. And though the U.N. was supposed to ensure that oil was sold to end-users at market price -- thus minimizing the graft potential for Saddam and maximizing the funds for relief -- there is an extraordinary confetti of clients in locations known less for their oil consumption than for their shell companies and financial secrecy. bq. Why on earth, for instance, did the U.N. authorize Saddam to sell oil to at least 65 companies in the financial lockbox of Switzerland. What was the logic behind approving as oil buyers at least 45 firms in Cyprus, seven in Panama and four in Liechtenstein? At the other extreme, would Mr. Annan care to explain why the U.N. authorized Saddam to sell oil to at least 70 companies in the petroleum-soaked United Arab Emirates? And the terrorist connection: bq. In an interview, Mr. Fawcett and his colleague, Christine Negroni, run down the lists of Oil-for-Food authorized oil buyers and relief suppliers, pointing out likely terrorist connections. One authorized oil buyer, they note, was a remnant of the defunct global criminal bank, BCCI. Another was close to the Taliban while Osama bin Laden was on the rise in Afghanistan; a third was linked to a bank in the Bahamas involved in al Qaeda's financial network; a fourth had a close connection to one of Saddam's would-be nuclear-bomb makers. bq. U.N. secrecy--in deference to the privacy of Saddam and his former clientele--makes it extremely difficult to confirm the many whiffs of sleazy and sinister dealings in these lists. But for an example of how dirty Oil-for-Food could get, take the case of one of Saddam's U.N.-authorized relief suppliers, a company called Al Wasel & Babel General Trading LLC, set up in Dubai, in 1999. This same Al Wasel & Babel was designated by Treasury earlier this month as a front company set up by senior officials of Saddam's regime to serve as a foreign seller of goods to Saddam's regime, through Oil-for-Food (while trying to procure for Iraq a surface-to-air-missile system). bq. And although full information is hard to come by, partial lists leaked from the U.N. show that in 2000-2001 alone, Saddam's regime ordered up from Al Wasel and Babel more than $190 million in construction materials, trucks, cars and so on. Over Mr. Annan's and Mr. Sevan's protests, the U.S. and U.K. blocked some $45 million worth of those contracts; that still left the Saddam front company of Al Wasel & Babel with about $145 million of Oil-for-Food business for that two year period alone. More and more comes to light. Faster please!!!
Hat tip to SemiSkinned for this story about a Merino sheep who was able to evade capture for six years. From BBC News: bq. A renegade New Zealand sheep that managed to evade the shearers for six years has finally had a haircut. bq. Shrek, the Merino sheep, was shorn live on national television by top shearers David Fagan and Peter Casserley. bq. The 10-year-old sheep had managed to roam freely on New Zealand's South Island for more than six years before being finally rounded up. bq. Shrek's giant fleece - possibly the largest ever - is to be auctioned off for children's medical charities.
Glen at Instapundit has more on the UNSCAM (The United Nations Oil-for-Food scam which is slowly unraveling). He links to this New York Post article: bq. Why did France and Russia oppose efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's regime? And why did they press constantly, throughout the '90s, for an expansion of Iraqi oil sales? Was it their empathy for the starving children of that impoverished nation? Their desire to stop the United States from arrogantly imposing its vision upon the Middle East? bq. It now looks like they it was simply because they were on the take. Saddam was their cash cow. If President Bush has suffered some discredit over his apparently false - but not disingenuous - claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the lapse is minor compared to the outright personal selfishness and criminality that appears to have motivated many of those who opposed his efforts to rid the world of one of its worst dictators. And just who was getting the money? bq. Now we know why the French and Russians were so insistent. Iraqi government documents list at least 270 individuals and entities who got vouchers allowing them to sell Iraqi oil - and to keep much of the money. These vouchers, and the promise of instant great wealth they carried with them, bought vital support in the United Nations to let Saddam stay in power. bq. The list of those receiving these bribes includes France's former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua (who's a leader of Chirac's party) and Patrick Maugein, the head of the French Oil firm Soco International. France's former U.N. ambassador, Jean-Bernard Merimee, got vouchers to sell 11 million barrels. bq. In Russia, the payoff chain reached right into the "office of the Russian president." President Vladimir Putin's Peace and Unity Party also got vouchers, as did the Soviet-era Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov and the Russian Orthodox Church. Nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky shared in the largesse. This is finally starting to get the coverage that it deserves.
Nice write-up in the NY Times on recent advances in high-temperature superconducting. The definition of high-temperature means that it will work with Liquid Nitrogen (minus 321 degrees F) which is very very cheap as opposed to the earlier materials which needed Liquid Helium (minus 450 F). Liquid Nitrogen is so cheap that it is used for industrial cooling. The holy grail is to use these materials for electrical power transmission. The problem is that because they are ceramic, making a spool of the stuff is very difficult. Plus, it is brittle and the magnetic forces that accompany significant current carrying cause it to break. The article is a good one going into some of the history too.
From Gizmodo: bq. Wacom has a new portable tablet out called the 'PenPartner', designed for the mobile digital artist, or businessman who really needs to draw circles on spreadsheets. No listing on Wacom's USA website. Looks like just the thing for photographers traveling with a laptop who want to touch up an image before saving it. The track-pads on most laptops are a pain to use and the small 'travel' mice are not much better.
Ran into this website today and thought I would pass it on... Windows XP has some features that allow it to be installed automatically. This would be very handy if you were managing an office and needed to roll out some new machines. You could also use it at home for doing a "clean" reinstall in the event of system crash. The website also has links to tools that allow for unatended installs of various applications. Best one seems to be AutoIT Very cool stuff - these will be added to my tools and resources folder.
Interesting observation by Charles at LGF over this news item from Yahoo/Reuters: bq. Iran's Revolutionary Guards are overseeing some 400 nuclear experts in order to prevent further leaks of sensitive information about Tehran's atomic facilities, an Iranian exile and informed diplomats said. bq. Alireza Jafarzadeh, who disclosed in August 2002 that Iran had a hidden uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak, told Reuters his new information came from the same sources who told him about Natanz and Arak. bq. "According to the latest information I have from well-placed sources inside Iran, some 400 nuclear experts are now under the control and supervision of the Revolutionary Guards," he said. Charles comment is this: bq. If true, this is disturbing. The sudden imposition of strict military control over Iran�s scientists may mean that Iran�s A-bomb project is nearing its conclusion. They certainly don't need nuclear power...
Some interesting info at dgci concerning the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction: From WorldNet Daily: bq. Key assertions by the intelligence community widely judged in the media and by critics of President Bush as having been false are turning out to have been true after all. bq. But this stunning news has received little attention from the major media, and the president's critics continue to insist that "no weapons" have been found. bq. In virtually every case -- chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missiles -- the United States has found the weapons and the programs that the Iraqi dictator successfully concealed for 12 years from U.N. weapons inspectors. bq. The Iraq Survey Group, ISG, whose intelligence analysts are managed by Charles Duelfer, a former State Department official and deputy chief of the U.N.-led arms-inspection teams, has found "hundreds of cases of activities that were prohibited" under U.N. Security Council resolutions, a senior administration official tells Insight. The article goes on to cite some of the bigger finds.
Last month, a Jewish school in Montreal, Canada was firebombed. From the Calgary Sun comes this story: bq. Actor Russell Crowe was among the dozens of callers from around the world offering moral support to a Jewish school firebombed earlier this month. The film star phoned the principal of United Talmud Torahs' elementary school. Crowe reportedly also pledged money to help rebuild the school's library, which was destroyed by a firebomb April 5. bq. Estimates peg replacement costs for the books at $300,000. A note left at the school said the fire was in retaliation for Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Very cool!
Glen at Instapundit has a link to Middle East Newsline story that is not getting much attention but deserves to: bq. Sudan has ordered the removal of Syrian missiles and weapons of mass destruction out of the African country. bq. Arab diplomatic and Sudanese government sources said the regime of Sudanese President Omar Bashir has ordered that Syria remove its Scud C and Scud D medium-range ballistic missiles as well as components for chemical weapons stored in warehouses in Khartoum. The sources said the Sudanese demand was issued after the Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry confirmed a report published earlier this month that Syria has been secretly flying Scud-class missiles and WMD components to Khartoum. Where did Syria get these weapons? Why do they need to be stored instead of being deployed to military bases? What missiles did Saddam own and use? Scud C and D's? What about the reported convoys going from Iraq into Syria just before the coalition came into Iraq?
Last March I wrote here that the Energy Department was giving Cold Fusion one last careful look. It had been written off as a laboratory mistake and pseudo-scientific quackery. From my March 25th entry: bq. Despite being pushed to the fringes of physics, cold fusion has continued to be worked on by a small group of scientists, and they say their figures unambiguously verify the original report, that energy can be generated simply by running an electrical current through a jar of water. Well -- in the April 23rd issue of the MIT Technology Review, Jeff Hecht writes: bq. Fifteen years after the first controversial claims hit the headlines, cold fusion refuses to die. A small cadre of die-hard advocates argues that experiments now produce consistent results. The physics establishment continues to scoff, but some scientists who have been watching the field carefully are convinced something real is happening. And now the U.S. Department of Energy has decided that recent results justify a fresh look at cold fusion. bq. "The heat effect has been replicated many times," Hagelstein. It works only when deuterium is loaded into palladium cells, and never when normal hydrogen is used instead of the heavy isotope. Exacting measurements with heat-measurement instruments have answered criticisms of the original experiments. Excess heat has been measured beyond what Hagelstein considers any reasonable doubt. bq. Experiments that produce excess heat also have yielded helium-4, one potential product of the fusion of two deuterium nuclei, in amounts that correlate with the excess heat. Theory predicts that the fusion reaction should generate 24 million electron volts (MeV) of energy per helium-4 nucleus. An analysis by Michael McKubre of SRI International detected energy of 31 MeV� a match within the experimental uncertainty of plus or minus 13 MeV. Skeptics had doubted the reaction was possible, but Hagelstein says McKubre's analysis of the experiments, reported at last year's cold fusion meeting, shows that fusion of two deuterium to yield helium-4 "is not as nutty as it initially seemed." Still a long long way to go but fascinating to see. There is a definite love of big science -- building these huge contraptions for creating hot fusion. It would be neat if they were trumped by a couple of bottles on a lab bench...
An interesting article from someone who worked for Ralph Nader: bq. Ralph Nader believes an independent candidacy should �generate more understandings and support for major new directions for our country.� His website says these new directions include �repeal of laws that obstruct trade union organization by millions of workers mired in poverty by wages that cannot meet their minimum family livelihoods.� The site prescribes �a living wage for tens of millions of workers making under $10 an hour.� But the perennial leftist candidate, whose name will appear on the presidential ballot for the third consecutive time this November, has not played by the same rules he strives to make binding for corporations and private businesses. And more: bq. Staff turned over rapidly. Few people could stand the hours, pay and abuse for more than a year or two. Nader founded groups to fight for everything from housing to tax reform, then lost interest in them and let them wither by not replacing people who left. Disorganized files lay stocked with uncompleted and unpublished reports. And more: We could find no market for the thousands of people Nader insisted would show up but he demanded we reserve the biggest ballroom we could find while simultaneously not letting us know what dates he�d be available. Each time we found a date we could rent a ballroom, Nader said he could not make it, changed his mind from yes to no, or said he�d come after an all-night flight from California. We nixed that idea for fear he�d fall asleep at the conference (as he often did during conversations). Nader, meanwhile, continually chastised us for the delays and said our alleged incompetence �annoys the sh-t out of me.� And more: bq. Perhaps Nader�s greatest hypocrisy, though, is his brutal anti-union actions. Publicly, Nader declares support for organized labor, pronouncing on his campaign website that �the notorious Taft-Hartley Act that makes it extremely difficult for employees to organize unions needs to be repealed.� But he viciously busted attempts of his own employees to unionize bq. �The day after we filed for recognition, the locks were changed. I was fired. A few days later, the other people were fired,� recalls Tim Shorrock, who edited the Multinational Monitor, a Nader magazine, in the 1980s. �They went after me in an incredibly vicious way. When they fired me, they asked me for all my boxes back,� including ones Shorrock had brought with him to the job and considered his personal property. Nader tried to have local police arrest Shorrock and sued him, a case later dropped. �It was pure harassment,� Shorrock says � the same type of high-handed pressure Nader condemns in government and business. And some people seriously think that Nader would make a good president?
An interesting new item on Lileks this morning: bq. This is just an odd story, for many reasons. It hasn�t gotten much play in the last week. It might not get play in the future because a confession in an Arab state often involves jumper cables. The report says they intended to mix a combination of 71 lethal chemicals, which they said has never been done before, including blistering agents to cause third-degree burns, nerve gas and choking agents. bq. If it�s all true, then it would seem to indicate that they guys lack the tactical acumen. They have several goals: first, get the US out of the region. Second, destroy all the regional governments they don�t like. Third, conquer the world. If they were as crafty and canny as feared they�d take these steps in the proper order, but they appear to want to do #1 and #2 simultaneously, which is remarkably stupid. The US, in response to terror attacks in Iraq, will carefully attempt to convert the miscreants to jam, if that�s what it comes down to. But if the Al Qaeda et al hits Saudi Arabia and Jordon before achieving the first objective, they just get more grief: Arab governments are less likely to play nice. They�re more likely to disappear huge numbers of people, raze villages, apply cheese graters to your scalp to get confessions, etc. Your average Jordanian may be passively rooting for American defeat out of the usual stupid sense of solidarity, but take out 15 blocks in Amman and suddenly he wants something done against these guys. This may be the one thing that makes the Arab Street rise up: it gets leveled, by Arabs. The link in question points to a CNN story about a foiled al Qaeda plot that would have unleashed a deadly cloud of chemicals in the heart of Jordan's capital, Amman. bq. The plot was within days of being carried out, Jordanian officials said, when security forces broke it up April 20. And more: bq. In a series of raids, the Jordanians said, they seized 20 tons of chemicals and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades.
From CS Monitor comes an interesting profile of where Moqtada al-Sadr comes from... bq. Sadr enters the mosque at Kufa where he's led Friday prayers for nearly a year denouncing the authorities and warning of an "imperialist" conspiracy against Iraq's majority Shiites. bq. The thousands fill the vast open courtyard, chanting the name of their hero when he strides through the gate, and they take up his call during the sermon. "No, no to America! No, no to Israel! No, no to imperialism!" In Baghdad, the authorities worry about how to handle this militant cleric, his rising profile and his willingness to flex the street muscle he's built up in Iraq's slums. bq. But the Sadr in question is not Moqtada, the young cleric whose gunmen now occupy Kufa and the neighboring shrine city of Najaf. Instead, the year is 1998 and the man leading the prayers is Ayatollah Mohammed Sadek Al-Sadr, Moqtada's father. Read the article - this moke is causing a lot of problems for the country he lives in only to feather his nest. His family fought Saddam only to acquiesce. Now Moqtada is trying to do the same thing (with major backing from Iran). This needs to be stopped.
Charles at Little Green Footballs received two emails from one of his readers today. These were emails that were sent out in shortly after the September 11, 2001 attack on the USA by Islamofascist followers of BinLaden. They were written in the white-heat of frustration and anger but poses an understanding that cuts through todays 'nuances' The first was written when he was taking a taxi ride near the buildings as the airplanes crashed. The second was written when he (he had SAR skills) was working on the site. I will quote a few lines but this is something that everyone needs to read and re-read from time to time to remind ourselves that yes, we are at war and the enemy has come to our hometowns: From the first email: bq. I directed the cab a few blocks further and saw an amazing sight, a beautiful day and the North Tower on fire. I got out of the cab and watched as one person after another jumped to their deaths 90 stories up as the flames hit them. Behind me was the cavalry, a river of sirens and lights careening down the avenues — ambulances, Harleys, ladder trucks, black & whites— weaving through traffic, all throttle and brake, honking, cursing, firemen craning their heads out the windows to look upwards, gaping at the damage, radio to the ear. It was the last thing they would never remember. From the second: bq. Looking downward through the wracks of steel beams you realize they are sitting upon a sea of emergency vehicles. bq. How to Kill Firemen 1) Make an explosion. 2) Wait 15 minutes. 3) Make another explosion. The comments from Charles' readers are worth reading so visit -- you will be pissed off and angry and sad.
Noah Shachtman at DefenseTech links to a stunningly bad bit of news regarding coalition fatalities in Iraq. According to a story in Newseek: bq. A breakdown of the casualty figures suggests that many U.S. deaths and wounds in Iraq simply did not need to occur. According to an unofficial study by a defense consultant that is now circulating through the Army, of a total of 789 Coalition deaths as of April 15 (686 of them Americans), 142 were killed by land mines or improvised explosive devices, while 48 others died in rocket-propelled-grenade attacks. Almost all those soldiers were killed while in unprotected vehicles, which means that perhaps one in four of those killed in combat in Iraq might be alive if they had had stronger armor around them, the study suggested. Thousands more who were unprotected have suffered grievous wounds, such as the loss of limbs. The article goes on to say: bq. The military is 1,800 armored Humvees short of its own stated requirement for Iraq. Despite desperate attempts to supply bolt-on armor, many soldiers still ride around in light-skinned Humvees. We had a year or two where we knew that we were going over there and that getting rid of Islamofascism would not be an overnight operation. Who was it that dropped the ball and what is being done now to counteract this.
Stefan at Shark Blog has been doing wonderful work counteracting the hype around the proposed Seattle Monorail. This is a greatly scaled back proposal from the original plan and the whole confabulation is funded by a tax on our car registration. (I have a '93 Volvo and my tax was $91) He has a longish article today on it and light rail (The Sound Transit Light Rail system spends $35 on each paying customer - the customers fare is $3 -- the money is made up by the taxpayers.) The link that caught my eye was to an Essay by Emory Bundy: bq. Why Rail? Why do we support systems that almost never work? bq. Since the record of new rail systems in America is abysmal, it is puzzling why they enjoy so much support. The answer lies in a marriage between an idealistic desire to recapture features of the pre-automotive era, when sprawl and congestion did not so blight our lives, and cynical, old fashioned, pork barrel politics. bq. The introduction of urban rail systems in American communities almost never works. In addition to a loss of transit market share, such systems impose a perpetual burden in the form of higher subsidies. The consequence of such capital investments, followed by burgeoning operating subsidies, is to pay more and get less, while failing to address the manifest challenges of congestion and mobility. Why, in the face of experience, do many people still promote rail development, the quintessential non-solution? bq. Later in this article, a list of affordable and affirmative responses to the awesome challenges of congestion and mobility will be presented, headed by lesson number one: don�t squander resources. He goes on: bq. The Los Angeles urban area, today, is far more concentrated than metropolitan Seattle or Portland-5,800 people per square mile. Immense determination, political courage, and policy discipline would be necessary for Seattle or Portland to match that density two generations hence. And an ambitious, horrifically expensive effort to serve LA with rail has been an unmitigated disaster in that still widely distributed region. Over the past three decades Boston has added light rail and commuter rail lines, and integrated its entire metropolitan transit system. During that period, ridership has remained essentially static, market share has diminished, and annual transit subsidies have exploded from $30 million to $560 million per year-which still isn't enough to sustain transit operations. bq. So why doesn't rail generally work in American cities? The reason is exceedingly simple: the technology is far too expensive. Sound Transit is setting out to serve the transportation needs of a far-flung region with alight rail system estimated to cost $100 million per mile. People have a complex set of destinations they need to reach: how extensive a network can be formed at a cost of $100 million per mile? But unless the transit system becomes a highly elaborated network, it simply cannot get many people from where they are to the myriad destinations to which they routinely travel. bq. Even buses fail to do the job well, and they're far better suited to the task than trains are. They're less costly, more flexible, and consequently forge a more intricate network of service. But train promoters shamelessly use the shortcomings of buses as an excuse to promote rail schemes. When they succeed, they make an already inefficient transit system markedly less efficient, driving up costs, and driving down market share. He is from Seattle and does a masterful takedown on Sound Transit as well as Rail in general. Good stuff!
James at The Best of the Web Today leads of with a very interesting thought... Since the United States Ambassador to the United Nations -- John Negroponte -- has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad, the U.N. post is vacant. How about Rudy Giuliani? Kinda makes one go Hmmm... doesn't it - the thought of a take-charge guy like Giuliani being set loose among the Eurocrats and corrupt pols would be a delightful thing to see. As James says: bq. Not only would Giuliani be a bully-pulpiteer in the great tradition of Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but he would bring the penetrating eye of a former prosecutor to the continuing Oil-for-Food scandal--which may well turn out to be the corrupt reason why countries like France and Russia fought so fiercely to keep Saddam Hussein's murderous dictatorship in power in Iraq. To be sure, some of Giuliani's critics, including our colleagues at The Wall Street Journal, are of the view that he was overzealous and unfair in prosecuting white-collar crimes. But that's all the more reason why he's a perfect fit for the U.N., which certainly doesn't suffer from an excess of prosecutorial fervor. bq. Apart from the president himself, it's hard to think of any more powerful spokesman and symbol for America's war on terror than Rudy Giuliani, and not only because of his inspired mayoral leadership after Sept. 11. Giuliani took a stand against terror even when it was unpopular. In 1995 he ordered security to eject Yasser Arafat from Lincoln Center, in an era when the terror boss was being feted at the White House and lavished with Nobel Peace Prizes. James mentions that the NY Post has been proposing this too. Something to think about.
Thanks to Lynne Kiesling at Knowledge Problem, I am reminded of the great Simon / Ehrlich bet. Lynne provides a link to a website that explains it and tells a bit of what went on afterwords: bq. In 1980, economist |Julian Simon| and biologist Paul Ehrlich decided to put their money where their predictions were. Ehrlich had been predicting massive shortages in various natural resources for decades, while Simon claimed natural resources were infinite. bq. Simon offered Ehrlich a bet centered on the market price of metals. Ehrlich would pick a quantity of any five metals he liked worth $1,000 in 1980. If the 1990 price of the metals, after adjusting for inflation, was more than $1,000 (i.e. the metals became more scarce), Ehrlich would win. If, however, the value of the metals after inflation was less than $1,000 (i.e. the metals became less scare), Simon would win. The loser would mail the winner a check for the change in price. bq. Ehrlich agreed to the bet, and chose copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten. bq. By 1990, all five metal were below their inflation-adjusted price level in 1980. Ehrlich lost the bet and sent Simon a check for $576.07. Prices of the metals chosen by Ehrlich fell so much that Simon would have won the bet even if the prices hadn't been adjusted for inflation. The site then goes on to talk about Ehrlich's reaction: bq. Paul [Ehrlich] and other scientists knew that the five metals in the proposed wagers were not critical indicators and said so at the time � Nonetheless, after consulting with many colleagues, Paul � accepted Simon's challenge � rather than listen to him charge that environmental scientists were unwilling to put their money where their mouths were. They then proceed to nicely dismantle Ehrlich's comments. Sources are provided if you want to do your own fact-checking.
Interesting writeup and link at Roger Simon's blog regarding a link to Bloomberg about the government of Iran, the presence of religious authorities in the high levels of the government and the staggering level of corruption and money-grubbing that exists there... From Roger: bq. Bloomberg has an interesting report today on how business is done in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As you might guess, it has little to do with godliness and a lot to do with oiliness. The tentacles of these pseudo-devout theocrats reach everywhere, especially in Europe. This article--the whole thing is worth reading--starts in Norway at the headquarters of Statoil ASA, but moves south. To get an idea how much money we're talking about read these graphs, then check out the rest. From Bloomberg: bq. At 6 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2003, agents from Oekokrim, Norway's financial crimes police unit, raided the Stavanger headquarters of Statoil ASA, the nation's largest oil company. They were seeking records of a $15 million contract with Horton Investment, a London-based consulting firm with links to a son of Iran's former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. bq. Oekokrim said in a Sept. 12 press release that a $5.2 million Statoil payment that wound up in a Turks and Caicos Islands bank account might have been a bribe to drill in Iran's natural gas fields, the largest in the world after Russia's. Oekokrim charged Statoil with violating Norway's General Civil Penal Code, which prohibits influencing foreign officials. And more: bq. Twenty-five years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the revolution that toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a dozen families with religious ties control much of Iran's $110 billion gross domestic product and shape its politics, industries and finances, says Ray Takeyh... On Roger's blog there was a very nice short give and take in the comments section: bq. A good comparison would be the Borgias or Medicis,religious and secular power combined. bq. Good comparison, Peter. Too bad the mullahs aren't sponsoring any great art the way the Medicis did. Where is that Ayatollah Lorenzo? Really...
Wonderful entry in Derek Lowe's blog In the Pipeline He is a pharmaceutical chemist and sometimes relates "interesting" lab events. Today's is a good one... bq. I've never liked hydrogenation rooms. For my non-lab audience, that's where we keep the equipment for running reactions in pressure vessels under hydrogen gas, always with some sort of metal catalyst to make the hydrogen come in and reduce things. It's about as close to witchcraft as modern organic chemistry gets. bq. And it's just those ingredients that make me nervous. Big metal cylinders of hydrogen gas can't help but bring to mind visions of the Hindenberg, for one thing. If something fails on the apparatus, it generally fails with spraying, fizzing, and/or flames. And any hydrog room that's been around a few years invariably picks up black residues of spilled catalyst everywhere. It's in the cracks of the lab bench and in the fittings of the equipment. bq. You want to be careful with that stuff. Most of the time, we use powdered charcoal impregnated with palladium or platinum, which looks like, well, charcoal. But under the right (um, wrong) conditions, it can come to life like you wouldn't believe. In the presence of hydrogen gas and some air, such as when you mess up and open the flask, the powder gets so hot it glows bright orange. It looks like it's just come out of a furnace, and that's about when it ignites your reaction solvent. Then you might as well get out the hot dogs and suntan lotion, because the fireworks are going off already. Check out the rest of the story - it's a good one...
It isn't on their website yet (they run one month behind) but there was an interesting report published that doesn't bring anything new to light but serves to emphasize the over-use of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the US diet. I ran into this from a Yahoo/Reuters news item: bq. Corn syrup and other refined foods may be much to blame for the huge increase in type-2 diabetes in the United States over the past few decades, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. bq. A study of nearly 100 years of data on what Americans eat show a huge increase in processed carbohydrates, especially corn syrup, and a large drop in the amount of fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. bq. It parallels a spike in the number of cases of type-2 diabetes, caused by the body's increasing inability to properly metabolize sugars. And more: bq. Gross said he was not "picking on the corn syrup industry," but added, "It is hard to ignore the fact that 20 percent of our carbohydrates are coming from corn syrup -- 10 percent of our total calories." bq. An estimated 16 million Americans have type-2 diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death overall. And many studies have linked a high intake of refined carbohydrates and other foods with a high "glycemic index" with the development of diabetes. And more: bq. Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Gross and colleagues said they used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to show that people have eaten about the same amount of carbohydrates a day on average -- 500 grams -- since 1909. bq. But instead of whole grains and vegetables, people are getting more and more of those carbs in the form of processed grains and sugars -- most of all, in corn syrup, they said. And more: bq. "During the same period, the prevalence of type-2 diabetes increased by 47 percent and the prevalence of obesity increased by 80 percent," they wrote.
Very cool - the person who took care of Einstein during his last few years of life kept a diary. She had tried to get it published but didn't meet with success and only when a Princeton librarian was doing some research on her did they find the diary. From the Priceton Weekly Bulletin: bq. Librarians at Princeton University have discovered a diary written by one of Albert Einstein's closest friends, a woman who recorded the scientist's day-to-day thoughts and activities during the last year and a half of his life. bq. The diary, written by Johanna Fantova, a former Princeton librarian, relates Einstein's musings on subjects, profound and mundane, from physics and current events to the tribulations of growing old. Fantova, who knew Einstein for more than 25 years, chronicled their regular conversations in more than 200 diary entries. bq. In an introduction to the diary, Fantova wrote that she intended it to "cast some additional light on our understanding of Einstein, not the great man who became a legend during his own lifetime, not on Einstein the renowned scientist, but on Einstein, the humanitarian." The article has excerpts from the diary. This will be a fascinating book when it comes out...
U.K. Politician George Galloway was one of the more outspoken critics of the coalition involvement in freeing Iraq. It turned out that he had received quite a bit of dosh from 'ole Saddam himself. The Iraqi government was very much into documentation and a list of beneficiaries including top people in France, Russia and some people in England came to light late January. Of course, George claims that he never saw any oil. The U.K. Newspaper The Sun decided to 'gift him' with a barrel of his own so that he can see what it looks like. He let it sit in his driveway for a couple hours and then came out and moved it behind a hedge, out of view of the street. Reporters then tried to interview him: bq. Angry Mr Galloway, 49, told Sky News yesterday: “I have not benefited by a brass farthing from Iraq, the Iraqi regime or any businessman dealing with Iraq. This is a smear campaign.” bq. And he was less than a barrel of laughs about The Sun’s gift of oil. bq. When we asked if he would comment on why his name had appeared on the list put before the US congress, he said: “I don’t have to explain myself to The Sun. I’m not going to talk to you. Why talk to guttersnipes?” bq. Shall we take that as a No then, George?
From CNN comes this link to a story about a couple on the Atkins Diet and the problems they had at a local buffett: bq. Sui Amaama, who along with his wife have been on the Atkins Diet for two weeks, was asked to leave after he went up to the buffet at the Chuck-A-Rama in suburban Taylorsville for his 12th slice of roast beef. bq. "It's so embarrassing actually," said Isabelle Leota, Amaama's wife. "We went in to have dinner, we were under the impression Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment." And more: bq. The general manager who was carving the meat Tuesday became concerned about having enough for other patrons and asked Amaama to stop, Johanson said. bq. Offended, the couple asked for a refund. The manager refused and called police when they would not leave. I think that a well placed sign would have been more approp[riate. And what buffet has a shortage of Roast Beef when it dishes out 12 slices.
And Environmentalism doesn't come out so well. Rob over at Gut Rumbles ran into an oh-so-precious comment from an envirnmentalist that prompted an excellent rant. bq. How old are you, Dustin? I was born in 1952. I grew up in a coal mining camp with no indoor plumbling and I had to take shots for polio, dyptheria, cholera and every other kind of third-world disease you can name. I swam in a creek where outhouses hung over the water a few miles upstream. You just learned to dodge the floating turds. bq. When I moved to Savannah, my Uncle Gene took me on a boat ride up the Savannah River on the "Blue Moon," a boat my step-grandfather built with his own hands. I was eight years old at the time. bq. I never saw a more filthy river in my life, and these words are written by a boy from Harlan County, Kentucky. Raw sewage was spewing from gigantic pipes right into the river on the outgoing tide. The paper mills and the other chemical plants blotted out the sky with the belching from their smokestacks and they dumped all of their toxic waste right next to the raw sewage on the outgoing tide. I was certain that if I fell out of that boat, I could walk to shore on all the shit floating in the river. bq. Now, people run shad nets there and sell the fish and the roe. The river is clean. And more: bq. WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! is their mantra, and I've got some news for them. Yeah. We're all gonna die. Life is built that way. But going back to living in caves and freezing to death in the dark is NOT the way to save the fucking planet. You want to save the planet? GET RICH, asswipe. bq. The reason that the good old USA has cleaner water, better air and more trees than it did when I was a boy IS NOT because of the environmental movement. It's because we have the wealth, time and inclination to spend on such a pursuit. You want to save the earth? Create wealth. Period. bq. The environmental movement seeks to destroy wealth. By doing so, if they ever have their way, environmentalists will sink civilization, but they'll also go a long way toward killing the planet. Money makes Mother Nature happy. With money, we can brush Gaia's flowing locks, wash her body with perfumed soap and treat her like a queen. bq. Without money, we shit in her rivers and drink the same water. Just look at the Third World. He does have a way with words...
A link at Kim DuToit's blog points to a nice development in woman's rights and Rap 'Music'. The link is to an article in MyWay/AP: bq. Maybe it was the credit card that rap superstar Nelly swiped through a woman's backside in a recent video. Here at Spelman, the most famous black women's college in the country, a feud has erupted over images of women in rap videos, sparking a petition drive and phone campaigns. bq. Nelly planned to visit Spelman earlier this month for a charity event enlisting students for a bone marrow registry. But the rapper canceled the appearance after hearing that a protest was in the works because of his videos - especially "Tip Drill," the one with the credit card, which also shows men throwing money between women's legs and women simulating sex acts with each other. Good deal. There is some rap music that I like and its origins certainly have a cultural validity but when you take the time to actually listen to what they are saying, ths lyrics are horrid. For those poseurs who adopt the hip-hop culture, why? Whay would you want to style your life around the doings of inner-city street thugs? I have listened to it but just do not get it.
From the Boston Globe comes this story of a different tactic at work: bq. Suicide attackers detonated explosive-laden boats near oil facilities in the Persian Gulf, killing two U.S. Navy sailors in a new tactic against Iraq's vital oil industry. The explosions caused no damage to the terminals but were the first known maritime attack on Iraqi oil facilities since the invasion. They are getting desperate -- these again are the same people who cheared Saddam and now that they see the beginnings of a new government starting to take hold, they are pulling out all the stops to get the coalition to leave so they can return to their comfortable corrupt government. Err... Sorry guys. Not gonna happen...
The Washington Post has an excellent overview on the Ryongchon train explosion. An updated casulty list has 154 dead and 1,300. In an earlier entry, I thought that it would be fantastic if the North Koreans opened up enough to let outside aid come in. It looks like they are doing just this: bq. South Korea announced it would immediately dispatch an emergency aid package of $1 million. Unification Minister Jeong Se Hyun, the country's highest-ranking official on North Korean policy, said a team of relief workers would coordinate terms of further assistance in a meeting with North Koreans Monday at Panmunjom, the truce village in the Demilitarized Zone between the two nations. bq. China, North Korea's most important ally and benefactor, offered $1.2 million in emergency relief. And China's official New China News Agency said President Hu Jintao had telephoned North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to offer condolences. bq. The European Union approved $240,000 for emergency medical aid and temporary shelters. And more: bq. The direct and relatively quick admission of the accident -- and the citing of human error -- was a rare departure for North Korea, which typically is silent on all news casting an even remotely negative light on the totalitarian government. It was years before Pyongyang requested relief following widespread famines in the mid- to late 1990s. bq. The official KCNA news service said the Pyongyang government appreciated the "willingness expressed by the governments of various countries and international bodies and organizations to render humanitarian assistance." Pyongyang's rapid decision to seek assistance appeared to surprise even some of its own officials. The article also addresses the 'stalemate' between North Korea and the USA and China regarding their development of nuclear technology. I do hope though that with this little bit of opening up, they become a little more amenable to working with the rest of the world.
Ran into this from surfing earlier and it is worth passing on. These are excerpts of the text from the Friday Sermon of Moqtada al-Sadr as delivered in a Mosque in Kufa and as reported by United Press International bq. Kufa has two exports of note: Kufa Cola, a popular local soft drink, and Moqtada Sadr, a popular Shiite cleric currently waging war against the U.S.-led occupation. U.S. officials have vowed to kill or capture Sadr, who is said to be hiding in the nearby city of Najaf, considered the seat of Shiite Islam and the location of its holiest shrine and many of its top clerics. And more - this about his security: Once outside the mosque -- which Sadr operates and where journalists have been told he might make an appearance despite his most wanted status -- there are scores of heavily armed men checking every vehicle and setting up a second ring of effective -- if somewhat shabby -- fortifications. And the reason for shabby? bq. But when the car is checked this time and the letter produced, the look on the young militiaman's face is clear and embarrassing: He can't read. Another Medhi Army member is brought forward to check the document and turns out he's from Baghdad and knows the journalists. Literacy rate there is what? 60% And the other 40% are involved with these jokers... And more: bq. He then moves on to the root causes of all of Iraq's problems. bq. "I blame (the American-appointed) Governing Council for all of these problems," he says in a flat monotone, leaving his only his words to supply his famous charisma. "And I will not be like them and behave like them, because they left Iraq under Saddam, but they also left their Islamic culture." bq. "And I will not shake hands with them, because they have shaken hands with (U.S. President George) Bush, whose hands are stained with the blood of Iraqis." Ahhh yes - root causes. Self-examination would be an excellent place to start...
Hey hey hey!!! Up at the farm, the computer is finally installed, wires are run neatly and a nice flat-screen monitor and keyboard are sitting at the kitchen desk. Saturday and Sunday will be busy (stringing about 4,000 feet of eight-foot-tall electric fence (we have deer and elk here) but I will be online those evenings and will be posting. For pictures of the farm, don't forget to click the Brown Snout link on the right. ALso, we usually get about 50 unique visitors each day. Today, we got over 200. I do not know who it was that pointed to us but a big Thank You is in order!
Get yourself over to protein wisdom and read Jeff Goldstein's interview with Noam Chomsky... bq. Chomsky: "Well, it's as old as history. It has nothing much to do with language. Language is the way we interact and communicate, so, naturally, the means of communication and the conceptual background that's behind in, which is more important, are used to try to shape attitudes and opinions and induce conformity and subordination. Not surprisingly, it was created in more democratic societies. The first --" bq. protein wisdom: "-- Wait, why 'surprisingly'?" bq. Chomsky: "I beg your pardon?" bq. protein wisdom: "You said, 'not surprisingly, it was created in the more democratic societies.' First, what is 'it'? And second, why is it 'surprising' that 'it' was created in more democratic societies?" bq. Chomsky: "You asked about the role of language in shaping and forming people's understanding of events, did you not?" bq. protein wisdom: "I did indeed." bq. Chomsky: "So then that's the 'it' I refer to. Now, the first coordinated propaganda ministry --" Heh... Het tip to Mossback's Progress
It is Friday and time for another excellent essay by Victor Davis Hanson bq. Myth or Reality? Myth #1: America turned off its allies. According to John Kerry, due to inept American diplomacy and unilateral arrogance, the United States failed to get the Europeans and the U.N. on board for the war in Iraq. Thus, unlike in Afghanistan, we find ourselves alone. bq. In fact, there are only about 4,500-5,500 NATO troops in Afghanistan right now. The United States and its Anglo allies routed the Taliban by themselves. NATO contingents in Afghanistan are not commensurate with either the size or the wealth of Europe. bq. There are far more Coalition troops in Iraq presently than in Afghanistan. As in the Balkans, NATO and EU troops will arrive only when the United States has achieved victory and provided security. The same goes for the U.N., which did nothing in Serbia and Rwanda, but watched thousands being butchered under its nose. It fled from Iraq after its first losses. bq. Yes, the U.N. will return to Iraq � but only when the United States defeats the insurrectionists. It will stay away if we don't. American victory or defeat, as has been true from Korea to the Balkans, will alone determine the degree of (usually post-bellum) participation of others. He goes on: bq. Myth #2: Democracy cannot be implemented by force Myth #3: Lies got us into this war Myth #4: Profit-making led to this war Myth #5: Israel has caused the United States untold headaches in the Arab world by its intransigent policies Worth reading - the arguments are very plain and do much to counteract the spin and rhetoric of the anti-American crowd.
One of the things I do for my day job is track down intermittent and unusual events in the network and email. A lot of times this can be traced to problems with Domain Naming Services or DNS. I just stumbled into these two websites that put a lot of the day-to-day tests onto one page. Great stuff! DNS Report here DNS Stuff here These two sites are sponsored by Computerized Horizons, makers of the Declude family of antiSPAM products.
Wretchard at the Belmot Club has a wonderful essay looking at warfare and the differences and the relative effectiveness of Western and Arab ways... He starts off talking about France's stunning defeat in 1954 in in the Vietnamese Central Highlands, progresses to France's war with Islamists in Algeria and from then on to Vietnam and to present. Here are some brief excerpts: bq. The French had been understandably evicted from Indochina by being militarily beaten by the Vietnamese. But the French had been ousted from Algeria -- part of Metropolitan France -- despite beating the FLN; that was the lesson and legacy of Algeria. bq. Taken in this context Osama Bin Laden can be forgiven for believing that the defensive phase of Islam's war against the West has long ended. He considered it to be in its final offensive stages, so far advanced that a strike against New York City, the Pentagon and White House was perhaps overdue. And more: bq. For the first time in 600 years, Western Europe stands before an Oriental enemy it cannot defeat on the battlefield. The commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, Lt. General John Vines contrasted the GWOT to Vietnam. This, he says, is a "national war for our survival as a nation". Europe knows this too but are subconsciously already beaten. And one more: bq. The sole obstacles to the wave of darkness are the Anglosphere -- and ironically for the Europeans -- Israel. The strongest proof against the irresistibility of terrorism is Israel, which is often dented, but never seriously hurt by Arab Way of warfare. Indeed, at each clash the terrorists whine at being unfairly worsted because the Israelis have shown themselves capable of dealing out punishment an order of magnitude greater than they suffer. Israel is particularly irksome because it diminishes the psychological aura the Islamists work so hard to achieve. How can terrorism plausibly defeat America if it cannot beat a handful of Jews? And America too, is a deadly enemy. Already militarily invincible and capable of immense adaptation, it has already solved the military problems the French faced in Vietnam. Never again can a regimental force be marshaled against an American unit, like NVA Regiment 803. Now America is facing the challenge of a modern Algeria, the prototypical terrorist war. Waging a covert war across the globe, America is likely to succeed, like the French, in destroying the terrorist leadership cadres. Terrorism remains confident that America will be politically defeated though even here doubt grows, because America is also groping for a model of political warfare to use against its enemies. But maybe Osama is right. The Democratic Party continues to conflate one challenge with the other; to see in Iraq another Vietnam; and to offer up in Kerry not a John Kennedy but another Charles de Gaulle. Excellent insight and writing. Check it out...
Last Sunday in the Seattle Times, an image of US Military Coffins being readied for transport home was published. The long-standing policy of the US Military has been to not publicize these images -- their explanation was that this was out of respect for these people. Russ Kirk at the Memory Hole applied to the US Air Force the Freedom of Information Act and the Air Force subsequently has released 361 photographs showing soldiers' remains arriving home. These are the images that the Pentagon prevented the public from seeing. They are available for viewing here. Please note that this is a popular site and that the server is being hit hard so the pictures may not load immediately -- if they don't load, bookmark the site and visit again later. Hat tip to Noah at DefenseTech for the link. UPDATE: It turns out that a number of the images released by the Air Force were of the coffins of the Collumbia Shuttle astronauts. More on this story at NASA and SpaceRef
There is a wonderful link at Kim DuToit pointing to a transcript of a speech at Tech Central Station from an Academic who "gets it". bq. Editor's note: What follows is the Kneller Lecture delivered to the North American Philosophy of Education Society meeting in Toronto, Canada on 27 March 2004. bq. The Professoriate and the Truth When various groups achieve sufficient political clout, they often demonstrate it by forcing the establishment of a new academic department and an instantly invented putative field of study. This is what African-Americans, women, and gays and lesbians, among others, have done. These new departments and fields, however, are not centers of teaching and research, but political action groups aiming at the indoctrination of students with the ideology and grievances of the group. It is a great rarity to find professors in these departments who oppose preferential treatment, have doubts about feminism, or regard homosexuality as a misfortune. The students and professors in departments with a well-established field of study represent a cross-section of the general population, but the overwhelming majority of students and professors in these new and politically motivated departments are members of the very group they claim to be studying. Even a cursory look at many of the courses they offer, the grades they award, and the so-called research they do shows that they have abandoned even the pretence of objectivity. Their interest is not in the pursuit of truth, but in the political transformation of society. There are, of course, honorable exceptions, but they are exceptions, not what happens typically. Sympathy for African-Americans, women, and gays and lesbians on account of past discrimination should not, however, lead to allowing ideological indoctrination to pose as higher education.
bq. "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." -- Samuel Adams I can think of some people this applies to...
Thanks to Bizzare Science, we have these two links to a Royal Academy of Engineering report and summary on the costs of various kinds of electrical power generation. Eight page summary here (PDF) 56 page report here (PDF) The money shot is here which shows the two cheapest forms of electrical generation are Combined Cycle Gas Turbine and Nuclear each at a bit more than Two Pence/kWh where Wind is about three times higher. Despite the hysteria associated with Nuclear, there are actually some very good reasons for bringing it back. The quantity of waste is about one millionth that of ash from coal plants or particulates from gas plants. True, it is dangerous for a couple hundred years but its decay is pretty rapid after that. There is a lot of high-level nuclear waste that needs to be quarantined for much longer but these are relics of the weapons programs and various experimental reactor designs (breeder, fast fission, etc...) The waste from coal and gas burning plants remain toxic for their entire duration. These contain heavy metals -- some nations (China) are burning low grade coal and are releasing enough mercury into the environment to account for over 40% of the mercury pollution in the Pacific Northwest. The initial designs of the reactors was poorly done - each unit was essentially different. If we do what the US Navy and France and Japan have done and standardize on a few core designs, we will quickly recognize weak spots in the design and if a pump fails more than once or twice, every pump in every reactor of that design gets replaced. Safety was already excellent and it can be made much better. Hundreds of people die every day in automobile crashes but when one airplane goes down, that is world news. Still, flying is several hundred times safer than driving. Same thing with reactors -- even the old designs. People get killed every day from respiratory ailments caused by atmospheric pollution from gas and coal power plants but the 300 or so people who died from Chernobyl, that was world news. A very good argument (I do not have the figures to back it up though) was made that the three Chernobyl reactors actually saved more lives than were lost since the disaster because this relieved the Russians from having to run coal power plants for the several years they were online. The Russians standards for pollution are a lot lower than ours and their death-rate for coal power plants is higher. The mining of the Uranium ore is fairly low key compared to coal. It is open pit but much smaller than a coal mine. Less of a 'footprint' on the environment. This is not to say that the nuclear industry should not be carefully watched but it has the potential to lessen our need for oil. The technology is very very simple, the disposal is straightforward. (For those worrying about transferring the waste to a disposal site, I will check up on the tests the casks have to pass - it's pretty amazing, six hours exposure to a hot fire, 40' drop onto hard surface all with zero breach -- I'll get the exact numbers in an update) The basic givens are that we need the energy. Having expensive electrical energy will force us to find cheaper sources and these may not be as clean. If we cannot find cheaper sources, this will greatly impact the rest of our economy. The key resistance to nuclear is the knee-jerk reactions from the environmentalists. The people who do not take the deep view. Who see what has happened and say never again instead of seeing what can happen in the future. Hydrogen is not a fuel - it is an energy transport mechanism and a very inefficient one at that. it is a dead end and any research funds put there will be wasted. Home-brewed 'alternative energy' sources each and every one of them suffer from the same fatal problem -- they do not scale. One person out in the country may be able to make enough energy to live comfortably but try to scale this up to enough power for a city and you will fail. Give these ideas some thought - I will be returning to this subject again soon...
Interesting letter linked to by the Junk Yard Blog. The letter is published in Newsmax bq. ...the writer asks why this troubled city is on the news every night. His answer: "Because it is one of the few places in all of Iraq where trouble exists." bq. He goes on to note that while Iraq has 25 million people and is the size of California, Falluja and surrounding towns total just 500,000 people. "Do the math: that's not a big percentage of Iraq. How many people were murdered last night in L.A.? Did it make headline news? Why not?" bq. According to the writer, the Coalition isn't alone in having trouble with Falluja. Saddam, he says "could not and did not control Falluja." bq. Instead, Saddam "bought off those he could, killed those he couldn't and played all leaders against one another. It was and is a 'difficult' town. Nothing new about that. bq. "What is new is that outside people have come in to stir up unrest. How many are there is classified, but let me tell you this: there are more people in the northeast Minneapolis gangs than there are causing havoc in Falluja. Surprised?" bq. In light of all this, why, he asks is Falluja getting such massive media coverage? He goes on to explain that "the major news outlets have camera crews permanently posted in Falluja." bq. As a result, if terrorists from outside Iraq are looking for air time to promote their cause, where would they go to terrorize, bomb, mutilate and destroy, knowing their atrocities will be broadcast around the world instantly? The answer: "Falluja." So true - the people causing the problems are the same ones who cheered Saddam and who benefited by his corruption. There is also support coming in from Syria and Egypt and other nations in that area by people who do not want democracy to take hold. This is a small area in a large country - the rest of the place is doing very well.
Interesting and thoughtful writeup by Howard over at Oraculations: bq. I know, one day per month feeding Africa is topic du jour in all the right places; NY Times, CNN, and the other lying media circles; the Hollywood Left, the LA Times, and Yale. All are careful to be politically correct. In the case of food PC means that only organically produced food is OK for the starving black bastards, because genetically engineered food screws with NATURE. One would think from these PC experts that genetically engineered food is new. That it has never been done before. They are liars. bq. The Indians in America started engineering food 9,000 years ago. Just look at corn. bq. Corn started out as something called Teosinte 9,000 years ago as a grassy-like plant with many stems bearing small cobs with kernels sheathed in hard shells. Corn was genetically engineered by Indians over time til it was the corn on the cob the Europeans discovered in the New World. See HERE and then look HERE for some history on rice and wheat also genetically engineered by Indians... And talking about Farm Subsidies (specifically the big corn and sugar industries): bq. Forgetting the individual farmer, let's just look at the money. The government sent out 22 million farm subsidy checks just two years ago. Starting with sugar; cane sugar subsidized eighteen cents a pound and beet sugar at twenty-two cents a pound; the world price is between five and seven cents per pound.. The sugar subsidy cost you and me $1.4 billion per year in higher food costs. According to the GAO study, 33 sugar farmers have received more than $1 million each in government subsidies, with one Florida family receiving $65 million in one year alone. bq. Because the subsidies go directly to sugar processors and not the farmers there is a labyrinth of business and farming interests involved in keeping the sugar program in place. Growers are part owners of processing plants and so on. bq. ADM and Carghill, who are CORN processors, lead the charge for higher SUGAR subsidies. Corn processors? Sugar? Corn farmers and processors need higher sugar prices in order to force candy, soft drink, and other users of sweeteners to use expensive corn syrup, and the only way they can do this is if sugar costs more than sixteen cents a pound. bq. Get it? If domestic sugar costs more than sixteen cents a pound instead of the world price of seven cents a pound all the farmers and grain processors get to shove expensive corn syrup down the throats of all the soft drink and candy makers. As part of the subsidy no foreign sugar can be imported. This corn agribusiness interest is also behind the unnecessary corn created gasoline additive called ethanol. Ethanol costs us around two or three cents per gallon of gas. Corn subsidies are a part of the sugar deal. And it's deeper than that but you get where I could go here. And there is a growing school of thought that HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is much worse for people than the equivalent amounts of dextrose (sugar). Interesting stuff...
Portland tech guru Richard Bennett points to a wonderful Mark Steyn article on Earth Day: bq. THE END OF THE WORLD IS STILL NIGH! In 1968, in his best-selling book The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." bq. In 1972, in their influential landmark study The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead, and gas by 1993. bq. In 1977, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States (incredible as it may seem), confidently predicted that "we could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade." bq. Now, in 2002, with enough oil for a century and a half, the planet awash in cut-price minerals, and less global famine, starvation and malnutrition than ever before, the end of the world has had to be rescheduled. Heh... Read the whole thing - it's good!
From DangerousMeta comes the link to this story in Newsday: bq. Authorities in southern Italy seized about 7,500 Kalashnikov assault rifles and other combat-grade firearms from a ship headed for New York, officials said Tuesday. bq. The weapons -- AK-47s, AKM rifles and machine guns worth more than $6 million -- were found mixed in with properly labeled guns in cargo containers on board a Turkish-flagged ship that docked at the port of Gioia Tauro, a police official said. bq. Documents accompanying the cargo indicated the weapons were destined for a company in the U.S. state of Georgia, the official said, declining to name the company. This will be interesting to keep an eye on... The company in Georgia could have been planning to re-export them but still, it makes you wonder if they were already "sold" to people in the US.
The Israelis got someone's attention... From LGF comes this link to a Yahoo/AFP story: bq. Yasser Arafat expelled a group of 21 members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from his West Bank headquarters overnight, a leader of the militant faction told AFP. One of the terrorists was quoted as saying: bq. "Arafat has abandoned us. It's a crime, because we are above all members of Fatah and he should protect us," he said. Waaaaaaa... And a bit more: bq. The militants, who are all believed to be wanted by Israel, had taken refuge in Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, known as the Muqataa, for more than three years. bq. Arafat himself has effectively been confined by the Israeli army to the Muqataa for more than two years after having been dismissed as an "absolute obstacle to peace" by Israeli premier Ariel Sharon I think that Cox and Forkum said it best:
News is starting to trickle in that two trains, each carrying flammable materials collided inside a train station in the North Korean city of Ryongchon around 1PM local time. From CNN: bq. Two trains carrying flammable materials exploded Thursday in a North Korean train station, leaving a large number of casualties, South Korean media reported. bq. South Korean media quoted witnesses saying the explosion was the result of a collision between the trains at Ryongchon station. bq. Details were not immediately available. bq. Earlier in the day, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had passed through the station on a return trip from China, South Korean news network YTN said. bq. Ryongchon is northwest of the capital Pyongyang and about 50 kilometers south of North Korea's border with China. bq. Yonhap, quoting unidentified sources in the Chinese city of Dandong, said the trains were carrying oil and/or liquefied petroleum gas. From Reuters: bq. The sources said cargo trains carrying gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas collided at Ryonchon station 30 miles south of the border. And more: bq. North Korea appears to have cut international telephone lines to the area to prevent information about the explosion getting out, Yonhap added. The North appears to have declared a type of emergency in the area. bq. "We have not yet received official information on the accident. We are trying to confirm the report," a Unification Ministry spokesman said in Seoul. Other officials at various government agencies also had no information. This would be an excellent time for foreign aid to come in. The people of North Korea live in poverty and isolation -- if their government can be opened up, this would make life so much better for them.
From Evan over at 101-280 comes some disturbing fact-checking and the implications regarding the USA ban on DDT and the continuing 2,000,000 deaths/year from Malaria: bq. Virginia Postrel, on last week's New York Times Magazine article, "What the World Needs Now is DDT": bq. Two million people a year, most of them little kids, are dying because of the West's anti-DDT superstition. Two...million...people...a...year. Evan's money quote: bq. This reminds me: you know how people will sometimes get into handwavy and/or inebriated debates over which book killed more people in the 20th century, The Communist Manifesto or Mein Kampf? On the usual, broad-brush causal assessment, considering both direct and tangential effects, and entirely ignoring authorial intention, the Manifesto typically wins with an estimate upwardly bounded at 100 million dead. That NYT story convinced me that the best answer to the question is actually neither of the above, but rather Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, the major cultural force in the anti-DDT mania of the 1970s. At the rate of 2 million preventable malaria deaths per year, plus (very conservatively) another 3 million due to effects of the additional poverty caused by malaria, it would only take Spring 20 years to catch the Manifesto. And William Ruckelshaus seems to the the poster boy for this decision but it seems to fall to Tricky Dick for the actual decision: bq. Again, we're ignoring authorial intention here. But who is really to blame? An EPA hearing at the time ruled that DDT wasn't demonstrably harmful, and so the fault seems to lie in a directive by Administrator William Ruckelshaus that simply ignored the ruling. But according to this story (via Glenn Reynolds), Ruckelshaus blames Nixon: And Nixon's excuse: bq. A few older Washington DC policy experts have suggested that some of his election campaign supporters were chemical companies that produced alternatives to DDT and so stood to gain handsomely by the DDT phase out. Others say that it is more likely that senior officials in his administration pressured Nixon into the decision given the potential votes he stood to lose in his native and very green state of California. I heard some interesting things regarding the old FREON that the reason the EPA pressed for its regulation was that it's patent was due to expire soon (this is true) and that some companies stood to make major money with patented alternatives... More digging is needed in this cess pit...
And they say that appeasement works... From the UK Sun comes this story of a foiled plot by Islamofascists to plant at least ten suicide bombers in the stands at a major (67,000 ticket holders) soccer game. bq. Intelligence chiefs believe al-Qaeda fanatics planned to blow themselves up amid 67,000 unsuspecting supporters. A source said: "The target was Old Trafford." bq. The Islamic fanatics planned to sit all around the ground to cause maximum carnage. bq. They had already bought the tickets for various positions in the stadium, cops revealed last night. bq. But armed cops foiled the horrific plot - which could have killed thousands watching Manchester United's home game against Liverpool on Saturday - in a series of dawn raids yesterday. bq. Ten people were arrested after a massive surveillance operation involving British anti-terror units and American authorities. People complain about the potential loss of freedoms with the various revisions to the Patriot Act and with Homeland Security but we have had several superbowl games with nary a peep. Our borders have been very porous but Europe's have been that much more and they are in for a real awakening at some time -- making Madrid look like a playground scuffle. These people are at war with the WEST - not America but all of western culture. America is just the big flashy star at the top of the Christmas Tree.
Thanks to SemiSkinned I now have this link to the website of Dr. Andrew Davidhazy, a professor of Imaging and Photographic Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology. This guy is good! Doc Edgerton good! I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Dr. Edgerton (the guy who invented the photo strobe light) when I was working at the New England Aquarium back in the mid-70's. There are lots of people who try to take high-speed photographs but they do not have the equipment needed to do the ultra-short flashes of light needed to completely freeze the subject. There are people who do good work with water droplets but their bullets are always a blur. Dr. Davidhazy's bullets are tack--sharp. Banana Exploding -- and -- Line of Rubber Bands being broken. He also has done some interesting work with strip cameras and developing arcane (and visually attractive) techniques with Polaroid films. Check the site out -- some really nice stuff!
From Charles over at LGF comes this link to a powerful post from Mohammed at Iraq the Model: bq. Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - A routine day in Iraq Today is a special day for me, it's my birthday I woke up early, had many things to arrange, it was a lovely sunny day. One should enjoy looking at April flowers and not stay at home at all, and I will celebrate it just as I should. bq. Then I heard the news; tens of people killed in terrorist attacks in Basra with many children among them. Omar, my brother, is still in Basra, and we were very worried and didn't rest until we called a friend there to have some information about the attacks. We still haven't heard from him, but that's because he doesn't have a telephone or access to the internet in the small town where he works, and we know that he doesn't usually go downtown at such times. bq. This is my daily 'routine' thoughout 35 years; wars, meaningless death of innocent people, armed people terrorizing us, relatives and friends get killed or disappeared, close gunshot or explosions awaken me from sleeping, our laughs and talks get lost amid sounds of jetfighters in the sky and noise of tanks in street reminding me where I'm I and where I live. It seems that it's not allowed for me to live a normal life like others do. bq. I believe in the bright future ahead but I'm upset now and I came here to write and release some of my frustration. I can't bear it alone. why me? Why my country? All that we need is a moment of peace. I really need it now. Why should I bear it with my people? When will it be over and when can we live in peace at last? bq. The hardest thing is that I have to fight more, and I will, but God, please give me the strength. Why should I be strong while watching others run away; Spain, Honduras, Thailand, human organizations, the UN and all the others who want (and it's their right I must say) to avoid the dangers. But why did they disappoint us? Why abandon us in this moment when we really need them? Will they come back when conditions improve? Most likely, but who will need them then!!? We don't need doctors and engineers. We have enough of those and large numbers of Iraqi doctor, teachers and engineers are working abroad. We do export minds, and some of those have returned and are doing their job and some are on their way back. We need political, financial and military support, and once we get rid of the terrorists, WE will show you what we can do, and we will not forget those who helped us, they will remain as friends and allies, that's from a political point of view. As for me, they will remain as my real family, my brothers and sisters. bq. One of our friend was angry when he saw the former slaves burn the flag of their liberators (and he has all the right to feel so), but I saw my country being destroyed for 35 years and I'm not desperate because I have faith that it will be rebuild one day. Still, why am I supposed to be the 'superman' who is never allowed to feel angry, sad or frustrated? bq. Others ask me to demonstrate and show my support to the coalition. Ok I'm with the coalition but I can't do it my friends. I'm surrounded by armed criminals who wouldn't hesitate for a minute before shooting me for just speaking out, yet I do speak, and not only on this page. bq. You, there in the free world, cannot witness against criminals without witness protection programs. We have nothing of this. Just under trained and half corrupted policemen and few newly graduated army soldiers and the law system, we inherited from Saddam and haven't really changed it yet, is far from being efficient. bq. Why do others get discouraged easily? Don't mistake me. I'm upset but will NEVER run away like some people did. bq. I wasn't like this before. I was afraid most of the time. I have always looked for safety above all. I lost faith in the whole world and I wasn't ready at all to make the slightest sacrifice for the sake of others. I was trying to leave my country and find a better job in a safe place, BUT, The brave solders (who don't hold shares at Halliburton or Bechtel) who crossed seas and oceans and came to my country to fight for our freedom -- and don't anyone dare say the opposite, as I met so many of these soldiers and had hundreds of letters from them and there families and I know their motives; they fight for their country's safety and for our freedom and they are proud of what they are doing -- gave me the faith and showed me that man should not care only about himself, his family or his country, these are not enough to make a human being. These guys are MUCH better than me because I have to fight for my issue and they fight for me. They deserve the respect of the world and so do the people who support them. They always give me hope to go on no matter how difficult it seems. bq. I think I'll have to skip celebrating my birthday this year, but that will not make me less determined than before, and I know that even if other countries pull out of Iraq, we will always have the strongest and greatest nation on our side, the wonderful people of the USA, together with the UK, Italy, Japan and the rest of the coalition forces. We owe you a lot and I pray, and I'm sure, that one day we will be able to return some of your favors and I'm talking about the people not the politicians although I don't deny those the credit they deserve for doing their job as good as they can. When that day finally comes, you will know for sure that the great efforts and sacrifices you've made were not in vain. I quoted the whole thing because it is so powerful and so expresses what we hear about the hearts and minds of the wonderful people over there. The bottom-feeding scum who vie for the attention of the willing media are not the majority of Iraq - these people we see on TV are the same ones who were cheering Saddam. Their reign of terror is coming to a close and they are fighting for their very survival - good for them and hope that they loose. They had 25 years to do something with this once-great nation, this birthplace of humanity and they didn't lift a finger. Now the tables have turned and it's time for peace, freedom, economic recovery and self-governing democracy to have a hand in the affairs of the Iraqi people.
Cool tech - this tennis ball sized device can be rolled into a room. When it stops, it snaps a 360 degree image while sending audio feed. To quote from Gizmodo: bq. This is a huge picture, even pared down, but the brutal visage of this device should not be missed. The engineers behind the Eyeball sensor package sent us this high-resolution image of the tennis ball-sized device, with a little more information. Apparently when the Eyeball is rolled into a room it steadies itself, after which the camera rotates a full 360�. Odfopt's Itsik Kattan also noted that this version of the Eyeball is currently available for purchase. Also, thanks again to Defensetech's Noah Shachtman for the original story. Links included in the Gizmodo story...
From the Staten Island Advance comes this story of a group of four Middle Eastern people 16, 17, 18 and 21 who harassed and physically confronted some Jewish students from a local school. bq. Four Staten Islanders have been charged with a bias crime for allegedly yelling anti-Semitic slurs at Jewish students in West Brighton, and students said it is just the latest in a spate of anti-Semitic incidents to occur near their school. Bias crime??? This is hate and intolerance, not bias. bq. The students said they are often subjected to anti-Semitic remarks by students of Prall Intermediate School in West Brighton and other people in the neighborhood. The attackers yelled anti-semitic remarks, threw two bottles at the kids, got out of the car and physically confronted them only to leave when they saw that the kids were calling someone on a cell phone.
From Bizzare Science comes a link to an article at the Cato Institute: bq. What Is Happening to Science? Some things are sacred to scientists: Facts, data, quantitative analysis, and Nature magazine, long recognized as the world's most prestigious science periodical. bq. Lately, many have begun to wonder if Jayson Blair has a new job as their science editor. On page 616 of the April 8 issue, Nature published an article using a technique that they said, on page 593 of the same issue, was "oversold", was inappropriately influencing policymakers, and was "misunderstood by those in search of immediate results." bq. The technique is called "regional climate modeling," which attempts to simulate the effects of global warming over areas the size of, say, the United States. They then go on to talk about the technique in question: bq. As reported by Quirin Schiermeier, scientists at a Lund, Sweden climate conference, "admitted privately that the immediate benefits of regional climate modeling have been oversold in exercises such as the Clinton administration's US regional climate assessment, which sought to evaluate the impact of climate change on each part of the country." bq. Then, 23 pages later, Nature published an alarming and completely misleading article predicting the melting of the entire Greenland ice cap in 1,000 years, thanks to pernicious human economic activity, i.e., global warming, using a regional climate projection. bq. The lower 48 states comprise 2 percent of the globe. Schiermeier reported that the consensus of scientists is that climate models on such a small scale are inappropriate for policy purposes. Greenland covers 0.4 percent of the planet. If the models are no good over the U.S., they're worse over Greenland. Yet the authors "conclude that the Greenland ice-sheet is likely to be eliminated by anthropogenic climate change unless much more substantial emission reductions are made than those envisaged by the IPCC [a United Nations Panel]." And what is the junk science? bq. The first paragraph states: "The Greenland ice-sheet would melt...if the annual average temperature in Greenland increases by more than 3�C [5.4�F]. This could raise global average sea-level by 7 meters [23 feet] over a period of 1,000 years or more." bq. Guaranteed, that quote will be on Hardball on May 28, the day that the non-science fiction global warming flick, The Day After Tomorrow comes out. It's ironclad. After all, it's from Nature. bq. And it's also deceptive. It's not a warming of 5.4�F that causes the massive meltdown. Instead, it's an annual warming of an impossible 14�F. Given the way greenhouse warming splits between summer and winter, this implies an outlandish 30�F change in the winter, fueled by a world that would have to be producing carbon dioxide at a rate far beyond anything remotely possible. It is the most extreme scenario in a pack of outlandish future emission scenarios that the U.N. cooked up a few years ago. They actually call them "storylines," which is appropriate, since they make little sense. I am just cherry-picking a couple of choice paragraphs - the article goes into much more detail and is worth reading if you have any interesting real science...
Very cool news item from USA Today: bq. With threats of torture gone, Iraqi Olympians rise again For first time in decades, athletes compete without fear: 'We can feel a change' Talking about some of the recent difficulties the athletes have had regarding travel, getting funding, getting equipment, Iraqi Olympic Chairman Ahmed al-Samarrai talks about: bq. Samarrai is laughing now because he knows the travel difficulties, the bombed-out training facilities in Baghdad and the lack of cash are nothing when measured against the cruel history of amateur sports in Iraq. bq. Vicious Olympic czar Uday Hussein, Saddam's son, is dead, and the torture chambers are no more. For the first time in two decades, Iraq and its sports teams are moving out of the shadow of a past in which athletes routinely were subjected to torture and abuse as punishment for poor performance. bq. The battered nation, which sent 40 athletes to the 1980 Summer Games but only four to Sydney in 2000, is expected to qualify in five sports: swimming, track, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting. Two athletes have received wild cards from the International Olympic Committee: Raad Abbas Rasheed in tae kwon do and sprinter Al'aa Hikmet, who will compete in the 100- and 200-meter events. Very wonderful news - for all the nay-sayers, the Vietnamers, the quagmirists... This is what the coalition is here for. This is freedom for these people.
Earlier, I had written here how the H.J. Heinz company was distancing itself from J. F. Kerry and his rich wife, the Heinz heiress... Now the gloves have come off -- according to a story on Yahoo/AP today: bq. Members of the board of the Fortune 500 company and its corporate political action committee have donated thousands of dollars to Republicans in recent years, including contributions to the Bush campaign. The corporate PAC has given nothing to Kerry. bq. The Republicans are accepting the cash even as they criticize the Pittsburgh-based company's job cuts and overseas moves � part of an effort to taint the presumptive Democratic nominee with the conglomerate's business practices. bq. While Teresa Heinz Kerry gained much of her $500 million portfolio through her Heinz inheritance, she does not serve on the board and is not involved with the management of the company. Even her late husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, R-Pa., did not serve on the board. That has to hurt...
From Roger L. Simon comes this story and analysis: bq. I have been thinking today about my only visit to Cordoba some years ago because of new demands by Moslems to worship in that city's famous cathedral. (It had been a mosque until the 13th Century.) I had been to Spain several times before, even lived there for a year, but had not been prepared for my visit to this building. One of the true masterpieces, its beauty is extraordinary. In fact, it would be about as close to perfection as any edifice of its size I have ever seen except that it has been marred by the far less impressive Catholic Cathedral built in and around it. Were I Islamic, I would be angry on aesthetic grounds alone. bq. Unfortunately, those do not seem to be the grounds here. Something far more sinister is involved that speaks to the frightening problem we are all living through today. These people don't just want the mosque back, they want the land it sits on and the country it's in. Both Bin Laden and Saddam (on his visit to Andalusia) have said this quite explicitly. We all know that generals are often accused of fighting the last war, but as Ralph Peters points out, the Islamic world is still fighting a war that ended in 1492. This obsession with the past is the essence of Islamism and since, from the perspective of modern civilization, it is so fundamentally insane, it is extremely difficult to reason with or to counteract it. That is why we are probably going to be engaged in this confrontation for years to come. Rogers closing comment nails it on the head: bq. Meanwhile, as to the issue of Moslems being allowed to use the Cordoba cathedral as a mosque, normally my ecumenical PC response would be, sure, why not? But as Jew, I recall I am not even allowed to visit Saudi Arabia, let alone worship there. So it's hard to believe there is any ecumenism involved here. There is only jihad and dawaa. One of the comments to Roger's writing is just as direct and to the point: bq. Muslims should be allowed to pray in the Cordoba Cathedral when Christians are allowed to build a cathedral in Saudi Arabia. And Jews be able to build a synagogue.
From dgci comes the news that Hamas has announced a new leader. From the World Tribune: bq. Hamas has quietly appointed Mahmoud A-Zahar to head the movement in the Gaza Strip. bq. Hamas sources said Mahmoud A-Zahar, 53, was selected as the organization's new head in the Gaza Strip. A-Zahar succeeds Abdul Aziz Rantisi, who was assassinated in an Israeli missile strike on Saturday. That sound you hear is the sound of some helicopters winding up. UPDATE: In the comments section, Bill from INDC Journal reminds me that: bq. No, they are black stealth helicopters, hence they make no sound before the missle impacts ... DOH - sorry! Should have fact-checked...
Stick it to us one more time - Yeeaaaggghhh!!! From Slashdot comes this link to a story in the San Diego Union Tribune : bq. Democrats are challenging the Bush administration's overtime pay overhaul, saying many white-collar workers will lose premium pay despite election-year promises that the effects will be minimal. bq. The new regulations, which were previewed Tuesday and will take effect in 120 days, specify a number of white-collar jobs that will be exempt from overtime pay eligibility. They include pharmacists, funeral directors, embalmers, journalists, financial services industry workers, insurance claims adjusters and human resource managers. Others are management consultants, executive and administrative assistants, dental hygienists, physician assistants, accountants and chefs. bq. Even athletic trainers with degrees or specialized training, computer system analysts, programmers and software engineers generally will be exempt. bq. "The devil is in the details, and we just got the details," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who led Senate opposition to the earlier version of the proposed regulations. As much good as Bush is doing on the war against terror, he has seriously fumbled a bunch of stuff at home. Bush is far beyond Kerry as presidential material so he will definitely get my vote this time around but if the Dems had a decent candidate this time, it would be a tossup.
Interesting article in the NY Times about the Rockefeller family and their funding of an Organic Farm and research facility. This organization is a non-profit but there is a for-profit restaurant attached to the site. bq. ...with $30 million in backing from David Rockefeller, the 88-year-old grandson of John D. Rockefeller. The family's 80-acre cattle farm, part of the Rockefeller family's much larger estate, has been turned into a working organic farm and agricultural education center, with an upmarket restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, attached to it. The restaurant began serving customers on April 14; it opens officially on May 1. The restaurant is committed to serving local organically raised food. Hat tip to DangerousMeta
Very cool nanotechnology article. Hat tip to BoingBoing As published in the University of Michigan News Service: bq. Think of a microscopic milling machine, capable of cutting just about any material with better-than-laser precision, in 3-D---and at the nanometer scale. bq. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Michigan researchers explain how and why using a femtosecond pulsed laser enables extraordinarily precise nanomachining. The capabilities of the ultra-fast or ultra-short pulsed laser have significant implications for basic scientific research, and for practical applications in the nanotechnology industry. Very cool - the contender was Electron Beam Lithography but it needed special environment (high vacuum) as well as subsequent chemical processing to work. This works in STP and the results are immediate.
Sarah at Trying to Grok posts a link to some comments from an Iraqi blog regarding the "insurgents" bq. Those who clap and shout slogans to Sadr on last Friday are the same people who did the same and more slogans for Saddam! Those who kill in Falluja are the same people who did the crimes of mass graves and tortures and Halbja chemical attacks by Saddam. Those who negotiate for them the Sunni Group and mediate for the release of hostages are the one who cried and regret the fall of the most tyrant regime on earth. bq. Yes we have been liberated from that regime with the help of the coalition troops and the USA admitted that it is an occupying force. GWB and his aides and Ministers etc, always said that they like to help to build a free, democratic Iraq with open and strong economy. This sound very good for us and we would like to see it started as soon as possible. We know that it is delayed for a little while but the reasons are very well know? It is the others who do not like to see it started and we are always said that it should start sooner rather than latter. See who kidnap and kills the contractors and bomb the oil pipes and the water pipes? It is the above groups who do not like to see security and reconstruction as well as the regional countries. Yes, this is why we are there - not for oil but for a free people and democracy.
Wonderful story about a string of burglaries and the key evidence that cracked them. bq. The feel good moment happened after Morin searched pawn and game shops for his stuff, hoping to find it. He did. And thanks to Pongo's hair that sticks to everything, he made the I.D. bq. "It's amazing that he actually shed enough to get into the (game) covers," said Morin. bq. Turns out the burglar was not too bright and pawned the stolen items using his real name. It didn't take police long to catch up with him. Heh - Pongo was blowing his coat and that provided conclusive proof. (We have three dogs including a Siberian Husky whose coat-blowing is epic)
The Zompist Phrasebook covers French, Spanish and German for such questions as: bq. How much is that in real money? C'est combien en monnaie r�elle ? �Cu�nto es en moneda estable? Wieviel ist das in richtigem Geld? bq. Has your nose always been that way? Ton pif, tu l'as de naissance ? �Qu� nariz la suya! �Ha tenido siempre esa forma ? War deine Nase schon immer so? bq. Are all of your jails this filthy? Vos prisons sont toutes aussi d�gueulasses ? �Todas sus c�rceles son as� de inmundas? Sind alle eure Gef�ngnisse so schmutzig? Visit the site for many more...
Michael Moore recently wrote an message to his fans -- part of the text said: bq. The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win. Nice to know that some things never change. Moore's entire message has been throughly and wonderfully Fisked by Lee at Right-Thinking Anyway, Cox and Forkum read this comment and decided to draw something: Gets the point across quite nicely don't you think?
This is a blog by a Saudi Arabian with an interesting look on life in the Magic Kingdon... The blog is The Religious Policeman One to watch...
Work in interfering with blogging - changing email servers from Postfix to GroupWise... Arrrggghhh!
ABC affiliate Inside Baltimore is reporting that Tom Cruise is promoting a $1.2-million relief effort for workers at the 9/11 site to enable them to de-toxify their bodies through a regimen developed by L. Ron Hubbard involving exercise, sauna sweat-out, vitamins and minerals. If this worked, this would be cool but it doesn't so it is a horrible waste of money that could be otherwise more intelligently spent. For more on Hubbard's folly, check out here and here and for some history, here
Claudia Rosett has written before (here and here) about the scandalous behavior of the United Nations and its oversight of the Oil-for-Food program that was essentially corrupt on both ends - with the UN siphoning funds and Saddam hoarding supplies that were supposed to go to his countrymen. She weighs in again at the National Review with more -- much much more: bq. Oil-for-Terror? There appears to be much worse news to uncover in the Oil-for-Food scandal. bq. Beyond the billions in graft, smuggling, and lavish living for Saddam Hussein that were the hallmarks of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, there is one more penny yet to drop. bq. It's time to talk about Oil-for-Terror. bq. Especially with the U.N.'s own investigation into Oil-for-Food now taking shape, and more congressional hearings in the works, it is high time to focus on the likelihood that Saddam may have fiddled Oil-for-Food contracts not only to pad his own pockets, buy pals, and acquire clandestine arms � but also to fund terrorist groups, quite possibly including al Qaeda. And more: bq. Which brings us to back to terrorist ties, and Perelman's story of June 20, 2003, for which the reporting checks out. In brief (hang on for the ride): One link ran from a U.N.-approved buyer of Saddam's oil, Galp International Trading Corp., involved near the very start of the program, to a shell company called ASAT Trust in Liechtenstein, linked to a bank in the Bahamas, Bank Al Taqwa. Both ASAT Trust and Bank Al Taqwa were designated on the U.N.'s own terror-watch list, shortly after 9/11, as entities "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." This Liechtenstein trust and Bahamian bank were linked to two closely connected terrorist financiers, Youssef Nada and Idris Ahmed Nasreddin � both of whom were described in 2002 by Treasury as "part of an extensive financial network providing support to Al Qaeda and other terrorist related organizations," and both of whom appear on the U.N.'s list of individuals belonging to or affiliated with al Qaeda. bq. The other tie between Oil-for-Food and al Qaeda, noted by Perelman, ran through another of Saddam's handpicked, Oil-for-Food oil buyers, Swiss-based Delta Services � which bought oil from Saddam in 2000 and 2001, at the height of Saddam's scam for grafting money out of Oil-for-Food by way of under-priced oil contracts. Now shut down, Delta Services was a subsidiary of a Saudi Arabian firm, Delta Oil, which had close ties to the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's heyday in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. In discussions of graft via Oil-for-Food, it has been assumed that the windfall profits were largely kicked back to Saddam, or perhaps used to sway prominent politicians and buy commercial lobbying clout. But that begs further inquiry. There was every opportunity here for Saddam not solely to pocket the plunder, but to send it along to whomever he chose � once he had tapped into the appropriate networks. This is just a fraction of what she has -- she also posts a lot of links to corroborate her facts. Well worth the 10 minutes to read...
Wonderful collection of technical data and pictures of old 'classic' Microphones. Lots of links to other interesting audio sites.
The telephone blue pages (local adn state government listings) are now available online here. Bookmark for your favorites folder...
From Ars Technica comes this guide to building the best computer possible for under $500. The published design philosophy sums the article up quite nicely: bq. To all those people clamoring for a minimalist Budget Box: this is it. Look around inside most corporate offices, where most computers need to handle a few Office documents and light Internet use. They don't need to be able to burn CDs or handle 3D-intensive games, but they do need to be reliable and affordable. And more: bq. Low-cost, reliability, and quality are key. That is what the Ultimate Budget Box is about: not skimping on components, but not loading it up with features either. Of course hardware is such a moving target these days but still, this is an excellent place to start.
Today's Boston Globe has an article spinning T. Heinz-Kerry as: bq. True, she is one of the richest women in America, wears suede Chanel boots, and speaks five languages. But she is also comfortable enough -- and has distinct professional interests she will continue to pursue if her husband makes it to the White House -- to move from her high station in life and commiserate with the young and old, black and white, rich and poor. Geee - just who I want to have as FLOTUS -- someone who will commiserate with me.
From WF-TV comes this tale of someone who wasn't watching their trail: bq. Police arrested a man and a teenage girl found at a home in Verona, after they followed pennies leading away from a Moose Club early Wednesday morning, police Chief Guy Truby said. bq. Outside the home, police said they found a claw hammer and a 3-pound sledgehammer they believe was used to smash open cash registers and a vending machine at the club. Police also said they found computer equipment stolen from another business, and cash, liquor and candy stolen from the club. bq. While police were searching the home, authorities said, 26-year-old Joshua May and a 16-year-old girl came back. May was arrested, arraigned Thursday on charges of burglary, receiving stolen property, theft and criminal mischief, and released. A reliable phone number for May could not be located and it was not immediately clear if he had an attorney. Not only did they fail to see that they were leaving a trail of pennies, they came home while the police were searching their house and were picked up.
Very cool (literally) game -- from Yahoo/Reuters: bq. Two nuclear submarines, one British and one American, surfaced near the North Pole on Monday for an impromptu game of soccer, Britain's Royal Navy said. bq. The two vessels surfaced through two naturally occurring gaps in the ice about half a mile from each other after completing a joint underwater exercise. bq. "The crews of HMS Tireless and USS Hampton are gearing up for a game of football," Commander John Parris said. These breaks in the ice are called a Polynya. Ice "geology" is fascinating.
From the wonderful (and blog-rolled) Michael Moore website Moorewatch comes this news item from the U.K. Independent: bq. Congress to investigate claims of Saddam's oil-for-food bribery An American congressional panel will begin hearings this week into charges that Saddam Hussein bribed officials around the world with billions of dollars from the United Nations' oil-for-food programme. bq. The timing of the hearing could not be worse for the UN, as the embarrassing charges of laxity will be aired as it prepares to return to Iraq after the 30 June handover to interim Iraqi authorities. bq. The fraud allegations that have surfaced so far are only the "tip of the iceberg", said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British adviser to the Iraq Governing Council, who will testify before Congress on Wednesday. And would Mikey be planning a documentary about this? After all, it made more Iraqi's suffer than any of the G. W. Bush's machinations... Given the choice between Halliburton and the United Nations, I would choose Halliburton every time.
From the Misanthropist comes this link to an article on a CEO and their (fatal) health problems: bq. "McDonald's Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Cantalupo, who helped turned the company around with a focus on better food and service, died on Monday of an apparent heart attack, the company said. bq. Cantalupo, 60, died in Orlando, Florida, where he was attending a McDonald's meeting for its restaurant owners and operators..." Whoops
From KOMO-TV A very nasty piece of work (Edward Stokes) was released from prison two weeks ago. Sex offender - convicted for multiple offenses. The 'judge' who set this turd free did so because Stokes: bq. A California court said last fall that Stokes should not have been convicted because he was unable to confront his accuser. (The aforementioned accuser killed themselves before the case went to trial). Anyway, Stokes was thought to be living in southwest Washington - turns out he was living in northwest Oregon -- false address? BUSTED!!! It seems too that he had recently purchased a surplus ambulance and was planning to use it for his adventures... While I dislike murder in any sense of the word, some inmate somewhere could do the world a significant favor.
Back in Seattle for a few days - blogging will resume shortly! Dave
From BBC News: bq. New honour for the web's inventor The inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, has won a prestigious award which comes with a prize bag of one million euros (�671,000). bq. The "Father of the Web" was named as the first winner of the Millennium Technology Prize by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. bq. In 1991, he came up with a system to organise, link and browse net pages which revolutionised the internet. bq. The British scientist was knighted for his pioneering work in 2003. This could not be happening to a nicer person. I remember someone coming into a coffeehouse I used to frequent saying that they had stumbled into this _very_ interesitng bit of software
From Yahoo/AFP comes this story: bq. Fall of Saddam has allowed terrorism to bloom: Kadhafi The fall of Saddam Hussein has allowed terrorism, and notably Islamic extremism like that of Osama bin Laden, to flourish in Iraq, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said, describing terror as a threat to the security of the whole world. bq. "Saddam's fall has not brought terrorism to an end," Kadhafi said in a televised speech on Wednesday. bq. "Far from it: it has found a bigger opportunity to flourish," he said, addressing an audience of Libyan police officers. bq. "The Al-Qaeda network did not exist before in Iraq, and now it is there, along with the renegades," said Kadhafi. Where he misses the point is that it is not one group in one place. This is a Stateless War. The majority of the Middle East is suffering from an inability to look inward, to self-examine to see the cause of their crushing spiritual, intellectual and economic failure so they seek to find the cause. They point the finger of blame to the west. The USA is the biggest success in their eyes (at least in the intellectual and economic arenas) so that is "The Great Satan". Past administrations ignored this threat until it was forcibly brought home on 9/11. Now, we have a President who sees this evil for what it is and is determined to root it out for the overall benefit of the world - the Middle East included. Since our presence is in Iraq, that is where all the "faithful" are coming to wage their holy war and we are giving it to them. I would much rather have that happening there in one spot than isolated instances of terrorism in the rest of the world. As Bush said in a speech a few months ago. Bring it on. The war in Iraq is much more than ridding the world of a scumbag dictator and tyrant - it is hanging flypaper out for every fascist who wants to come to the party... UPDATE: A reader reminded me offline that the Yahoo/AFP means that the story here is carried on the web by Yahoo but the original story was filed by AFP -- Agence France-Presse -- not exactly the most un-biased media source when it comes to reporting the USA and Coalition forces working to clean up the mess of terrorism. Especially since this is a story of a great win for the USA and the Coalition forces and that France stands to loose a lot because it has been selling arms to Libya. Quaddafi was lecturing a group of policemen after all, not a diplo team...
From Washington Post comes this article on the people who still use the large (eight foot diameter) satellite dishes and who like it... The cool thing is that they can pick and choose which channels they want to subscribe to as well as watch live feeds from various news services for free. They are not required to buy a "package" as it is with smaller Ku band and Cable. bq. Like most cable and satellite television subscribers, Mike Cooper gets WGN, Turner Classic Movies, MTV, TV Land, Nickelodeon, Country Music Television and the Independent Film Channel. What makes him different from almost everyone else is that he pays for only the channels he wants. bq. His television bill is about $25 per month. Yours? Often twice that much, whether you get your programs from a cable company such as Comcast Corp. or a satellite firm such as DirecTV. And you're paying for dozens of channels you probably only glimpse when you skip by on the way to your handful of favorites. But there is hope: bq. Many advocacy groups and an increasing number of lawmakers -- such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- say the nation's 93 million cable and satellite subscribers should not have to pay for channels they don't want. McCain has promised legislation this year requiring cable and satellite companies to offer some form of a la carte programming. bq. Cable programmers and distributors are fighting it. In a March 24 letter to McCain, Judith A. McHale, president of Discovery Communications Inc., home to popular cable channels such as Animal Planet, said an economic model worked up by Discovery's research division estimated that, under an a la carte system, the average customer would pay $187.50 per month for 30 channels. (Cable subscribers on average pay $65 a month for premium channels such as HBO and packages that include other standard fare, according to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, an industry trade group.) This is very cool and McCain is getting a letter of support from me for this. As some of you know, Jen and I are moving out to the country and there is no cable available, just satellite. I was planning to dig up an older C-band rig just to watch the raw news feeds but the ability to pick and choose which commercial channels I want to see makes it that more attractive... Here is the list of NPS's A La Carte Offerings with such goodies as: Discovery / Learning / Animal Pl / Travel for $1.40/month CNN/CNNI/CNNfn/Headline News/Fox News for $2.00/month Independent Film Channel for $1.00/month The major networks are all under $4.00/month. Premium channels like HBO, Cinemax, Disney, Showtime are in the $10 to $20 range. You can also prepay for one year and get two months free.
There is a good commentary on the Volokh Conspiracy: bq. Bush and Sharon: For all the handwringing of the American (not to mention world) media, the dynamic is very simple: Bush has made it abundantly clear that he wants the Palestinians to have a responsible government that fights terrorism, and wants the Israelis to move toward a settlement that turns over sovereignty of Gaza and most of the West Bank to a Palestinian state. No progress was being made in either direction for some time. Then, Sharon announced a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Self-interested, sure, but also a political risk that breaks the impasse that had developed, and a potential momentum builder. Bush looked in vain for a reciprocal gesture from the Palestinians. He got nothing. Worse than nothing, the Palestinians have been busily discussing how to bring Hamas into their government. Result: political rewards for Sharon, a cold shoulder for the Palestinians. It was almost two years ago that Bush made it clear that he would judge the Palestinian leadership by one criteria: its willingness to fight terrorism. Why, two years and no willingness to fight terrorism later, it expects "evenhandedness" from Bush shows that they simply don't understand the man. Can't say it any plainer than that...
From The Guardian bq. Yasser Arafat today insisted that Palestinian refugees would never give up their right to return to their former homes in the West Bank, in defiance of a new US-Israeli initiative to resolve the Middle East conflict. bq. Mr Arafat spoke one day after President George Bush endorsed a plan that would see Israel retain part of the West Bank - ruling out the creation of a state based on 1967 borders - and block the return of Palestinians refugees there. Hey - we sat tight on the Roadmap to Peace for several years waiting for Arafat to actively oppose terrorism. In fact, the primary thing we wanted was the end to terror attacks. Had Arafat done this, they would have their state now. They would have gotten the right-to-return, they would be sitting pretty now. No - they stuck with terror and the only roadmap they are scheduled for is the one that leads to their continued marginalization as a failed culture. The USA bent over backwards restraining Israel from action -- asking Israel to give the Roadmap a chance. Israel suffered bombing after bombing, attacks on mothers and children in their beds, American visitors. Their time has run out -- they had a fair chance and they made the concious decision not to use it.
Thanks to the Michael Medved fan website (which is having a few technical difficulties), I learned about Hernando de Soto and his becoming the second winner of the prestigious Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. From the Fox News article (de Soto is Peruvian -- hence the reference to Shining Path): bq. The prize is a rare honor, but then de Soto is an extraordinary individual. It�s not every economist who finds himself the target of terrorist bombings and assassination attempts. Because of his scholarship and activism on behalf of the world�s poor, in the late �80s and early �90s, de Soto was repeatedly targeted by the Marxist terror group, the Shining Path. bq. It�s not hard to understand why Marxist radicals found de Soto�s ideas so dangerous. They threatened the monopoly the political left (Marxist and non-Marxist) held over solutions to the problems of the world�s poor. For years, statist development experts had sought top-down solutions, operating under the implicit assumption that poor people in the Third World were largely incapable of entrepreneurship. De Soto utterly rejected that patronizing viewpoint, and, beginning in his native Peru, focused on the lack of formal property rights as the source of poverty in poor countries. As an author and an activist, and later as adviser to Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, de Soto worked to bring impoverished Peruvians out of the shadow economy, and unlock their potential for wealth. I love that line: "...threatened the monopoly the political left (Marxist and non-Marxist) held over solutions to the problems of the world�s poor." Here is a guy who is working for change, actually doing great work in helping the poor and a bunch of Marxists who are also "working for the poor" are hacked off enough at him to want to have him killed. Gee - I wonder who has the "ideologically purer" agenda. More: bq. And the more de Soto and his fellow researchers at the Institute for Liberty and Democracy investigated, the more they realized that dealing with the Peruvian state to obtain legal recognition of one�s assets was maddeningly difficult, if not impossible. Thus, the poor �do not so much break the law as the law breaks them�and they opt out of the system.� bq. Lacking formal legal title to their property, the poor are unable to use these assets as collateral. They cannot get bank loans to expand their businesses or improve their properties. Their potential is locked up in what de Soto calls �dead capital.� He and his colleagues calculate that the amount of �dead capital� in untitled assets held by the world�s poor is �at least $9.3 trillion��a sum that dwarfs the amount of foreign aid given to the developing world since 1945. This is fascinating - the poor are not thought of as having assets but they do. The problem is that they cannot leverage these assets as is done in the western cultures because they do not have a title to them. There has been a lot written about micro-loans for small businesses in developing countries and the great majority of these loans have been very successful. $9.3 trillion is a lot of resources to be sitting on a shelf somewhere... We need more people like this... Here is a link to the The Institute for Liberty and Democracy
An excellent in-depth review and comparison with Canon's offerings. (Hint: Nikon blows them out of the water this time around) can be found on the Imaging Resource website. bq. In early 1999, Nikon entered the professional digital arena with their first all-digital SLR, the D1. The 2.7 megapixel price and list price of $5,850 for the body rocked the pro camera world. Under two years later they raised the bar again with the D1x, a 5.47 megapixel camera at an even lower price point than the D1. Then last year came the D100, with a full 6.1 megapixel imager going for under $2,000, available most places now for around $1,500, body only. This offering was the first Nikon to really draw in the advanced amateur, film SLR owner who has been waiting for just such a product. Then Canon hit the street with a sub-$1,000 digital SLR with a bundled lens to meet that magical $999.99 price point that lured consumers in droves. As they did in the film arena with their N55 to N80 range of cameras, Nikon answered, this time with a camera that exceeds the capabilities of Canon's Digital Rebel. Nikon's answer, the D70, does not include a lens at the sub-$1,000 price, but it has a whole lot more features and a more solid feel than the competition. For an additional $300, users get a special 18-70mm lens (equivalent to a 27-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera), designed just for the camera's smaller sensor. Further, the new camera is compatible with almost the entire range of Nikon's F-mount AF lenses. A lower price is great, but we have to see what compromises Nikon had to make, if any, and whether those compromises will result in significantly reduced image quality over the current Nikon benchmark, the D100. Read on for our detailed analysis. (We'll give you a hint though - There are precious few compromises to be found anywhere in the D70.) Good stuff. I have the D1X and will probably get the D2X a year or so after it comes out but there is no rush - very happy with the D1X. I had looked at the D-100 but found too many compromises. The D-70 looks really good. Might be something to get as a second body. Also, the lens that comes with it is worth taking a look at. Nikon has been coming out with a series of lenses specifically for digital sensors and the optical quality is superb.
Harold Pinter wrote a really bad poem and tried to get it published in various literary magazines, then he tried to get it published in a newspaper or two. Now he is claiming cencorship... bq. The first place I sent it to was the London Review of Books. I received a very odd letter, which said, in sum, that the poem had considerable force, but it was for that very reason that they were not able to publish it. bq. So I sent it to the Guardian and the then literary editor came on the telephone to me and said, 'Oh dear.' He said, "Harold, this is really ... And more from the Guardian editor: bq. He said, 'Well, you know, Harold, we are a family newspaper.' And off to the Observer it went next: bq. The next Sunday nothing happened. And then the following Sunday nothing happened. So I called the editor. He said, 'Oh dear, Harold, I'm afraid that I've run into one or two problems with your poem.' And where to next.. bq. I then sent the poem to the literary editor of the Independent, saying I hadn't sent it to him in the first place because I did not think the Independent would publish it. But now that everybody had turned it down, the London Review of Books, the Guardian and the Observer, perhaps I was wrong about the Independent! To cut a long story very short, the literary editor wanted to publish it but he felt he had to show it to the editor. The editor sat on it for a few days and then made no comment except to say the Independent was not going to publish the poem. And I've never had any explanation. Nothing. It was simply No. And finally, scraping the bottom of the barrel, he sends it off to a rag in the colonies: bq. I did send it to the New York Review of Books, just as a laugh. The editor thanked me warmly for but said he was afraid they couldn't use it. And this is censorship? The poem is as bad as Amiri Baraka's little effort that won him such worldwide acclaim...
Showing some spine finally! From The Guardian comes an article with European leaders reactions to the purported tape from O.B.L. offering a truce to European nations who disengaged from the war against Islamofacism. bq. Europeans rule out al-Qaida talks European countries, including Britain, today ruled out talks with al-Qaida after a tape recording from a man claiming to be Osama bin Laden offered a truce to any of them if they stopped "attacking Muslims or interfering in their affairs". England's Foreign Office: bq. "The right response is to continue to confront terrorism, not give in to its demands." French president, Jacques Chirac: bq. "Terrorism is a barbarous act that attacks innocent people. One cannot lean on religion or any other motivation to perpetrate terrorist acts. No discussion with terrorism." Spain's incoming foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos: bq. "What we want is peace, democracy and freedom. We don't have to listen to or answer the tape." An unnamed German Government spokesman: bq. "The international community must pursue the fight against international terrorism together," he added. "Germany will continue to make its contribution." European commision president, Romano Prodi: bq. "There is no possibility for negotiation under terrorist threat." Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini: bq. ...talks with al-Qaida were "unthinkable". This is good beyond words - now let us hope that they will act as well as talk.
There is an interesting insight into the August 13, 2003 blackout at Knowledge Problem. This event, which dropped most of the East Coast into darkness, was caused by a simple failure and this failure caused a number of neighboring systems to cascade and shut down. What would have happened if they were able to disconnect from their neighbors and become islands... bq. One way of making the grid work better is to figure out how it can fall apart more gracefully. The ability of a subregion to cut itself off from the surrounding grid � islanding � can help limit the cascading failures that constitute wide-spread blackouts. This was one of the lessons drawn from the 1965 blackout. bq. But islanding can cause problems of its own, too, if not done well. If the subregion that separates is itself not already in approximate balance between generation and load, it may fail anyway. In addition, the system left behind by the islanders may become more difficult to manage. bq. If you follow the details of the cascade in Chapter 6 of the Task Force final report, you learn that at 4:10:39 PM tripping of protective relays isolated Cleveland and Toledo from the rest of the grid. The island was unstable because there was insufficient generation inside the island, the island dropped load but couldn�t stabilize and blacked out. At the same time, Detroit suddenly had a lot of excess power because the Cleveland and Toledo load separated from the system, and this excess power bounced back through the system tripping additional relays and leading to the separation of much of the Northeastern U.S. and Eastern Canada from the rest of the Eastern interconnection. bq. On the other hand, most of New England and the Maritimes separated from the rest of the grid and kept operating, as did small regions in New York, Ontario, and Quebec. The official report on the blackout can be found here (6.8MB PDF)
Courtney Love is coming to grips with her high burn rate. She started out OK - edgy musician, married to Kurt Cobain but things have not been going to well for her recently. Couple run-in's with the law and now it seems that she wasn't managing her money that well. From Yahoo/Reuters: bq. Rocker Courtney Love Owes Millions - Report Add financial woes to the long list of worries bedeviling rock star Courtney Love. bq. The trouble-prone musician claims in the upcoming issue of Blender magazine that she has been swindled out of $40 million, while a former business associate says she is in debt to the tune of at least $4 million. bq. Love, the 39-year-old widow of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, is already dealing with a stack of legal and health concerns, and her music career suffered a recent blow when her long awaited debut solo album bombed. bq. "I'm covered with loser dust," she was quoted as telling Blender, whose May issue featuring the Love cover story will hit newsstands on April 20. Gee - maybe if you actually worked at your music and got your life together you might make something of yoruself...
Interesting link from Instapundit this morning. Glen links to BlogsCanada a Canadian blog that is critical of the government. One week ago, Jim Elve got a cease and desist order from a lawyer with the Department of Justice (DoJ) acting for the Treasury Board. This is a Blog that I will be following. Glen's article also points to another case of oppression of free speech in Canada here...
From Slashdot comes a link to this project as reported in the New Scientist. Basically, if you are in a foreign city and lost, you use the camera in your cell phone to take a picture of a building. You call and send the picture to a remote server and it uses image recognition to tell you exactly where you are (and bills you a fee). Since GPS doesn't work well around tall buildings, this has the potential to give very high accuracy positioning information. From the article: bq. "Telling people 'You are in the vicinity of X' is no good to man nor beast," says John Craig of Cambridge Positioning Systems, a company that develops software for locating mobile phones. bq. Unlike the GPS or cellphone base station approaches, Cipolla and Robertson's software can tell which direction you are facing. So the service can launch straight into a set of directions such as "turn to your left and start walking", or give information on the building in the photograph. Very cool idea - this will take a lot of up-front development costs but the actual software is not that difficult (since they will also know what cellular base station your call is coming through so they know within a mile or so where you are). Make it cheap enough for people to use without thinking (One dollar?) and they will get a flood of users.
Has an article in The City Journal (Hat tip to The Braden Files): bq. Imagine a different November 4, 1979, in Teheran. Shortly after Iranian terrorists storm the American embassy and take some 90 American hostages, President Jimmy Carter announces that Islamic fundamentalism is not a legitimate response to the excess of the Shah but a new and dangerous fascism that threatens all that liberal society holds dear. And then he issues an ultimatum to Teheran’s leaders: Release the captives or face a devastating military response. And more: bq. The twentieth century should have taught the citizens of liberal democracies the catastrophic consequences of placating tyrants. British and French restraint over the occupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the absorption of the Czech Sudetenland, and the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia did not win gratitude but rather Hitler’s contempt for their weakness. Fifty million dead, the Holocaust, and the near destruction of European civilization were the wages of “appeasement”—a term that early-1930s liberals proudly embraced as far more enlightened than the old idea of “deterrence” and “military readiness.” bq. So too did Western excuses for the Russians’ violation of guarantees of free elections in postwar Eastern Europe, China, and Southeast Asia only embolden the Soviet Union. What eventually contained Stalinism was the Truman Doctrine, NATO, and nuclear deterrence—not the United Nations—and what destroyed its legacy was Ronald Reagan’s assertiveness, not Jimmy Carter’s accommodation or Richard Nixon’s d�tente. And more: bq. As long ago as the fourth century b.c., Demosthenes warned how complacency and self-delusion among an affluent and free Athenian people allowed a Macedonian thug like Philip II to end some four centuries of Greek liberty—and in a mere 20 years of creeping aggrandizement down the Greek peninsula. Thereafter, these historical lessons should have been clear to citizens of any liberal society: we must neither presume that comfort and security are our birthrights and are guaranteed without constant sacrifice and vigilance, nor expect that peoples outside the purview of bourgeois liberalism share our commitment to reason, tolerance, and enlightened self-interest. And a couple more (I'm cherrypicking some of the choice paragraphs): bq. Nor was realpolitik always effective. Such illegitimate Arab regimes as the Saudi royal family initiated several oil embargoes, after all. And meanwhile, such a policy did not deter the Soviets from busily selling high-tech weaponry to Libya, Syria, and Iraq, while the KGB helped to train and fund almost every Arab terrorist group. And indeed, immediately after the 1991 Iraqi takeover of Kuwait, U.S. intelligence officers discovered that Soviet-trained Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and Abu Ibrahim had flocked to Baghdad on the invitation of the Baathist Saddam Hussein: though the Soviet Union did not interrupt Western petroleum commerce, its well-supplied surrogates did their fair share of murdering. bq. Neither thirst for petroleum nor fear of communists, then, adequately explains our inaction for most of the tumultuous late 1980s and 1990s, when groups like Hezbollah and al-Qaida came on to the world scene. Gorbachev’s tottering empire had little inclination to object too strenuously when the United States hit Libya in 1986, recall, and thanks to the growing diversity and fungibility of the global oil supply, we haven’t had a full-fledged Arab embargo since 1979. This amplifies what I have said several times before here that the Soviet regime was responsible for setting up and the continued funding of a lot of the Islamofascist Terror groups - they didn't want to see the democracy of Israel spread and threaten their borders. When Regan and company outmaneuvered and outspent the dregs of the Soviet way of life, these groups started soliciting funding from other sources. Arafat is a Soviet construct. Saddam was a Soviet construct. The incoming Prime Minister of South Africa is a Soviet construct. They are lurching along like some Frankenstein's monster with a seeming life of their own but the people they are trying to benefit are long long out of power. Time to put a sock in it boys... One more couple of paragraphs and then you get to go read the whole thing: bq. If the Clintonian brand of appeasement reflected both a deep-seated tolerance for Middle Eastern extremism and a reluctance to wake comfortable Americans up to the danger of a looming war, he was not the only one naive about the threat of Islamic fascism. Especially culpable was the Democratic Party at large, whose post-Vietnam foreign policy could not sanction the use of American armed force to protect national interests but only to accomplish purely humanitarian ends as in the interventions in Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia. bq. Indeed, the recent Democratic primaries reveal just how far this disturbing trend has evolved: the foreign-policy positions of John Kerry and Howard Dean on Iraq and the Middle East were far closer to those of extremists like Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich than to current American policy under George W. Bush. Indeed, buffoons or conspiracy theorists like Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Al Franken often turned up on the same stage as would-be presidents. When Moore, while endorsing Wesley Clark, called an American president at a time of war a “deserter,” when the mendacious Sharpton lectured his smiling fellow candidates on the Bush administration’s “lies” about Iraq, and when Al Gore labeled the president’s action in Iraq a “betrayal” of America, the surrender of the mainstream Democrats to the sirens of extremism was complete. Again, past decorum and moderation go out the window when the pretext is saving indigenous peoples from American oppression. The article is here and it is very much worth reading...
Wonderful commentary in today's National Review: bq. As violence flairs in Iraq, so does Washington discussion over the United Nations role in Iraq. Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire on April 12, Senator John Kerry suggested U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as a possible success to Coalition Provisional Authority administrator L. Paul Bremer. And more: bq. The problem is what denotes legitimacy on the Foggy Bottom and Capitol Hill cocktail circuit and what Iraqis see as legitimate are two very separate things. And more: bq. As violence ignited last week, U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi returned to Baghdad. According to John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Brahimi's mission was among "the highest U.S. policy priorities involving the U.N." Perhaps Brahimi is welcome in New York or Kabul, but he is not in Baghdad. How do Iraqis view Brahimi? Kurds express disdain for Brahimi. "All we need is another Arab nationalist," one Kurdish human-rights worker said. "Throughout the Oil-for-Food program, the U.N. seemed more concerned with giving Palestinians jobs than giving Iraqis medicine," a physician in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah said. "As undersecretary of the Arab League between 1984 and 1991, Brahimi stood by as Saddam Hussein conducted an "Arabization" campaign to drive Iraqi Kurds from Kirkuk and surrounding villages. Brahimi did nothing as the Iraqi government dropped chemical weapons on Halabja, killing 5,000 civilians. So we can see that the U.N. Special Envoy does not necessarilly have the interests of the Iraqi people at heart. And more: bq. Any moral standing the U.N. possessed ended soon after U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Iraq. On January 25, 2003, 29-year-old Adnan Abdul Karim Enad jumped into a U.N. inspector's jeep, screaming "Save me! Save me!" As television cameras rolled, U.N. security guards dragged him from the vehicle and handed him to Iraqi soldiers. The same day, an Iraqi government worker forced his way into the U.N. compound, pleading for protection. U.N. guards evicted him. Hans Blix, then chief weapons inspector in Iraq, criticized the Iraqi asylum seekers, saying they should find "more elegant ways" of approaching U.N. staff. They cannot. Both men apparently disappeared in Iraqi custody, likely executed soon after Blix's team turned them over to their persecutors. Rather than show remorse, Blix suggested to the Danish daily Jyllands Posten on April 7, 2004, that Iraqis were better off under Saddam. With telephone lines open and long-time exiles returning to see their families, the incidents of that day, not broadcast on Iraqi television, have become known. To Iraqis, the U.N. represents moral ineptitude. "They investigated the U.N. workers who allowed the massacre at Srebrenica. How come they don't hold accountable those who handed that poor boy to his death?" one Shia Iraqi asked as we sat in Baghdad living room. And one more to show some peoples complete misunderstanding of the matter: bq. United Nations involvement will hamper, not help. Militant Islamists and remnants of Saddam's regime interpret our turn to the U.N. as sign of weakness, while Iraqi democrats see the U.N. role as a sign of abandonment. Both associate the U.N. with corruption. Ironically, while administration officials and senators seek greater U.N. involvement to pacify Iraqis, their calls have the opposite effect. Washington's hand-wringing is a sign of weakness welcomed only by those we fight. The author -- Michael Rubin -- spent 16 months in Iraq, most recently as a Coalition Provisional Authority governance adviser. This is someone who not only talks the talk, they walk the walk too...
Froim the Australian Herald Sun: bq. Syrian authorities have arrested more than 1000 Kurds as part of a continuing campaign against the Kurdish minority, a Syrian human rights group claimed today. bq. It was the second report in less than a week of an alleged clampdown on Kurds in Syria since last month's clashes between Syrian security forces and Kurdish rioters in which 25 were killed and more than 100 wounded. Hey George - please, can we do Syria next??? A democracy there would be very nice.
From AMCGLTD comes this story of a hard-up German man and his problems while getting 'serviced'... bq. A German gentleman who, laid up from multiple fractures, decided to telephone a "full service" girl. Of course, not able to move very much, there was the problem of payment: bq. But it ended up costing more than he bargained for, police said on Wednesday; unable to walk, he gave the woman his bank card to collect her fee and she helped herself to his cash. bq. The 47-year-old car crash victim had asked the woman, described in her newspaper ad as "Blonde Angel, aged 18", to take 150 euros (100 pounds) from his bank account. bq. Only later did he discover she had taken 2,000 euros -- all the more expensive since he had sent the woman away without having sex for fear of getting caught. DOH!
From EUROSOC: bq. Jos� Maria Aznar has hit back at critics who claim that Spain could have avoided terrorist attacks by keeping out of the war in Iraq. bq. "Nobody is free of danger," he said. "There is not a single country not at risk. ... There's no neutrality against this kind of terrorism, and those who try to be neutral are probably those who will suffer most." bq. "There are certain people in Europe who just want to look the other way," Aznar continued, "Do we have to wait for another attack, or do we face up to terrorism with all the consequences? bq. "We're in a war. You can get attacked. You can get hurt. It can be painful. I think the Spanish and other governments will have to start thinking very seriously about this." bq. Aznar added that Spain's support for the invasion of Iraq was "the pretext, not the cause" of the Madrid terror attacks, which killed 192 people. He "gets it" -- unfortunately, he is also moving out of office and a socialist appeasement-monkey is moving in. I wonder how long it will take for the Spanish people to realize their mistake in misjudging this horrible culture.
From Yahoo: bq. An online buyer has paid nine million yuan (1.1 million dollars) for a cell phone number on a Chinese auction site, state press reports. bq. A deal for the number 135 8585 8585, which has a similar pronunciation in Chinese to 'let me be rich, be rich, be rich, be rich,' was completed this week after an exchange of some 70 bids, the Shanghai Daily reported. bq. "We have checked our records and confirmed the deal," the newspaper quoted Tang Lei, a public relations manager at EachNet.com, as saying. Hey - we can spend our money any way we want to but this does strike me as a bit absurd...
From Instapundit comes this link to yet another manifestation of the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal - the Irish connection This one manages to include Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector as well as some high-level (and unrelated despite the same last name as me) Irish politicians including a former Prime Minister who later became chairman of an Irish Oil Company. The plot thickens: bq. As part of the anti-sanctions PR campaign, several Irish politicians, including former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, visited Iraq in 1998. bq. After Mr Reynolds' visit, he made pleas for ending sanctions. Then he became chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration firm. bq. The PR firm's fees for the anti-sanctions campaign were paid by Bula Resources. bq. The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner was listed by the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada as receiving 11,000,000 barrels in oil "allocations" (worth up to $3,300,000 according to the Financial Times estimates). And more: bq. ...one of Saddam's apologists, Mr Riad al-Taher, was listed by the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada as receiving 11,000,000 barrels in oil "allocations" (worth up to $3,300,000 according to the Financial Times estimates). bq. We reported that Mr al-Taher, chairman of the London-based Friendship Across Frontiers organization, which campaigned for lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq and denial of American military use of Shannon airport had unusually good access to Irish Times Foreign Affairs Correspondent Deaglan de Breadun. bq. We also noted that he was a shareholder and consultant to Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration firm. After making a trip to Iraq and subsequent appeals to end UN sanctions, former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds became chairman of Bula Resources. bq. We noted that while Bula Resources was awaiting Saddam's signature on potentially lucrative Iraqi oil exploration contracts, Mr al-Taher was able to convince Bula to make changes to its board of directors to include people who were "more committed" to the company's future. And more: bq. Iraqi businessman Riad el Taher has insisted that the Irish exploration company Bula Resources and its former chairman Albert Reynolds were always aware that he was selling oil on behalf of Saddam Hussein's government. bq. "Of course Bula knew about it," el Taher told The Sunday Business Post this weekend. "Of course they knew, of course I told them. I am an oilman. I am in the oil business."... And where is Bula now? bq. Bula Resources is now in liquidation by the High Court and its 43,000 shareholders are most worried about recouping a �1.5 million deposit paid by the company as part of a deal involving an entity in Bahrain. bq. The company is also being investigated by officials from the [Irish] Office of the Director of Company Enforcement. Take the money and run. Screw the shareholders. 'Bidness' as usual.
It seems that a few of the stations (Chicago and LA) distributing the new left Talk Radio show reverted to their original format this morning. The moonbat site - Democratic Underground has a thread. I would think that these are critical markets and to loose these stations makes it seem like there isn't that much of a market share for Liberal Talk Radio. I had blogged about it here a couple weeks ago looking at how they are playing on the smaller AM stations that previously carried diverse programming for the different ethnic communities and how they are displacing this with their own white-bread leftist cant. Should be interesting to see how long it lasts. I wonder how much $$$ Soros has sunk into it... UPDATE: According to reports, the reason the stations are off the air is because their $1 Million dollar check to pay for airtime bounced! Guess Soros wasn't paying enough... UPDATE: Just a thought but the Air America people have repeatedly said that they have enough funds to keep broadcasting without needing a profit for two years. If they have this kind of serious money backing them, why did they open up in such marginal radio stations and why didn't they start with wider coverage.
Good news from Iraq - as reported by Reuters: bq. Baghdad has exported more than $7.5 billion in crude oil since last year's invasion of Iraq, the U.S.-led authority governing Iraq said on Tuesday. bq. The Coalition Provisional Authority had deposited a total of $7.54 billion in its Development Fund for Iraq as of last Thursday, it said in an Internet posting. As for the snarky comment by Reuters - check out the last paragraph: bq. Under a May 2003 U.N. Security Council resolution, the Coalition Provisional Authority is required to deposit all the proceeds of Iraqi oil exports into the fund. The resolution was intended to ensure Iraq's secretive U.S.-led civil administration was not engaged in any dubious practices in marketing Iraq's oil and using the money for reconstruction. Emphasis mine. They wouldn't be thinking of such dubious practices as the UN Oil-for-Food scandal now would they? Sheesh...
A very interesting link from Inoperable Terran regarding a member of the Clinton administration who did more to enable 9/11 than anyone else. Hint - they also have a connection with the house of Saud. bq. John Ashcroft shredded the 9/11 commission yesterday, all but dragging Jamie Gorelick from behind the rostrum by her hair and yelling "This woman wrote part of the policy that erected the wall between intelligence and prosecution", even declassifying one of Gorelick's memos (read: "smoking gun") which called for, as Ashcroft put it, "Draconian barriers" between the two parts of government most responsible for fighting the war before it became a military war. bq. So what did the media report? If anything, variations on "Ashcroft on the defensive", and "The FBI blew it". bq. Never - not in one account I've read so far, and I've read a bunch - did they read "One of the inquisitors on the 9/11 commission was a key architect of the system that made the FBI and CIA's job completely impossible." Not one example of "This commission's work is fatally compromised" - as they would if Gorelick had been a Republican, and the President a Democrat. Some links to Gorelick's conflict of interest are here, here, here and here. Basically, Gorelick is a partner at this law firm. The same firm was hired by Prince Mohammed al Faisal to defend Saudi Arabia against the $1 Trillion lawsuit filed by the families of the 9/11 victims. She should have recused herself from the panel.
Very cool - iRobot, the same people who make the Roomba vacuum cleaner have been testing a robot called the PackBot in action in Iraq. From CNN/Technology: bq. A U.S. robot manufacturer Monday hailed the destruction of one of its units in Iraq and said it showed how valuable the machines have become for the U.S. military. bq. iRobot Corporation learned last week from the Pentagon that one of its units, called a PackBot, was "destroyed in action" for the first time. Its destruction meant the life of a U.S. soldier may well have been saved, the company said. bq. "It was a special moment -- a robot got blown up instead of a person," said iRobot CEO Colin Angle. This is excellent. Now we can send in mobile scouts first and then follow with people. Minimizes 'surprises'...
Jack Whittaker, the guy who won the Powerball Lottery is in the news again. I had blogged about him here and here before. From the Sunday Gazette-Mail: bq. The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is investigating yet another apparent attempt to rob record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker. bq. A neighbor saw someone go inside Whittaker's Scott Depot home with a flashlight Saturday morning while the family was out of town, Chief Deputy John Dailey said Monday. And more: bq. Whittaker won a Powerball prize of nearly $315 million, the largest individual jackpot ever, on Christmas Day 2002. Since then, there have been three incidents in which money was reported stolen from his vehicle. bq. "They're targeting him because they know he has the money and I guess he's known for having it on him,'' Dailey said. bq. "That old boy, it seems like he can't get a break.'' Hey - you don't have to have it in cash. Credit cards work really really well... Wonder what his burn rate is these days and how much he has left.
A group of US Marines are doing a very cool kind of rebuilding in Iraq and the Spirit of America website is doing some fundraising. The problem is that the major news outlet over there -- Al Jazeera -- is very heavily biased against the coalition forces and is spreading a very distorted view of military operations there. What the US Marines are trying to do is to build seven television stations to carry an alternative view. From the website: bq. Current TV news in Iraq often carries negative, highly-biased accounts of the U.S. presence. Unanswered, its effect is to stoke resentment and encourage conflict. The Marines seek to ensure the Iraqi people have access to better, more balanced information. By equipping local television stations and providing the ability to generate news and programming, the Marines will create a viable news alternative - one owned and operated by local Iraqi citizens. bq. The donated equipment will be the property of the Iraqi stations. The stations can create their own news and choose their own programming with the agreement that they will prohibit airing of anti-coalition messages that incite the local population. The stations also agree to sell airtime at a fair market price so that the Marines can communicate their information efficiently and quickly when needed. bq. For example, images were recently broadcast of a mosque in Fallujah damaged during fighting. With these stations the Marines could have provided the full picture by airing video of combatants firing on them from the mosque grounds. These stations would have enabled Iraqis to understand the complete picture. News of reconstruction projects and humanitarian assistance that balances the news of conflict will also be provided on these stations. The stations will be free to criticize the Coalition. The key points here are that the TV stations will be owned by Iraqi citizens and if the US Marines or any other coalition force wants time on these stations, they have to stand in line with money to buy the time just like everyone else. These are not PR organs of the West as Al Jazeera is of the Middle-East. Here are some pictures that explain what is happening:
Sigh... Last Wednesday's elections in South Africa will probably bring Thabo Mbeki back for a second term in office. People may have a bit of a surprise when he resumes office. An article in the CS Monitor explains why: bq. But the big surprise of this election may be Mr. Mbeki himself. For five years, he's been an ardent disciple of globalization. He's tightened budgets and slashed foreign debt. He's seen South Africa's currency strengthen and inflation fall. But now the man who was trained as a classical economist in Britain is hinting at a significant shift - toward socialism. The reason: persistent poverty and joblessness. About 40 percent of South Africans are unemployed. In some townships, 8 of 10 blacks wanting jobs can't find them. bq. So Mbeki may start drawing on another part of his past - one that includes meetings at a Soviet dacha once used by Joseph Stalin and a charter membership in the politburo of the South African Communist Party. Crap - another socialist workers paradise... How many people died under Communism? Couple hundred million wasn't it? What's a few more.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune comes this story of an over-enthusiastic sorority blood drive coordinator who just didn't think about the consequences... bq. A sorority blood drive coordinator who urged members lie about their health to qualify as donors in a campus competition could face discipline ranging up to expulsion, a University of Missouri-Columbia official said Tuesday. bq. In addition, the campus chapter of Gamma Phi Beta must forfeit any points it would have earned in the "Greek Week" competition for last week's blood drive, campus fraternity and sorority leaders said Tuesday. And the reason for this brouhaha? bq. In an April 6 e-mail sent to about 170 members of Gamma Phi Beta, sophomore Christie Key, the Missouri-Columbia chapter's blood donation coordinator, wrote: "I dont care if you got a tattoo last week LIE. I dont care if you have a cold. Suck it up. We all do. LIE. Recent peircings? LIE." Jeez!!! Talk about blind stupidity. One case of hepatitis or HIV and some innocent person gets infected. Expulsion is too good for that idiot - they should get some transfusions...
Fun site - you type in what you want G. W. Bush to say, choose a pose and a background and presto - George Says Heh...
Victor Davis Hanson has some choice words about the "Iraqi" "Cleric" on his weblog bq. For about a year now, a baby-faced grotesque thug, Sadr, dressed up in a cleric's robes and backed by two or three thousand gangsters has held world-wide televised press conferences as he pompously boasted about his promised imposition of Iranian-style theocracy upon 26 million other Iraqis. bq. Forget that in most municipal elections in the first year of the reconstruction Iraqis had shown not much interest in his crackpot Shiite paradise on earth. Forget that this criminal was not a holy-man at all, but a murderer who shortly after the liberation of Iraq, had systematically put out hits on various rivals. bq. Forget that he was a coward who was a mouse under Saddam's fascist police, and roared as a lion only after the Americans, whom he daily slurred, at the cost of their lives and treasure had freed him and his Chicago-style Costa Nostra. And forget that he was hardly a nationalist, but an Iranian toady who did the bidding of Teheran and wished to ruin southern Iraq in the same manner that his kindred self-appointed mullahs had wrecked Iran. bq. But do not forget that for some strange reason the most powerful military in the history of civilization was not allowed to move on this latter-day Jugurtha before his venom infected thousands beyond his immediate Mafia. The moment there was good proof in the days following the toppling of Saddam that Sadr had ordered and killed various rival Shiites, he should have been arrested, tried, and, if found guilty, hanged—at a time when the United States military was fresh from victory and still in a combat mode. bq. There is a lesson in the saga of Sadr here that we really must relearn about this entire war. The United States, because it is militarily powerful and humane in the way that it exercises that force, usually can pretty much do what it wishes in this war against terrorists. In every single engagement since October 2001 it has not merely defeated but obliterated jihadists in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only check on its power has been self induced: out of a misplaced sense of clemency it has often ceased prematurely the punishment it has inflicted on enemies—at Tora Bora, in the Sunni Triangle, during the looting of Baghdad, and now perhaps at Fallujah—and relented to enter into peace parleys, reconciliation, and reconstruction too early.
Rob over at Gut Rumbles points to an interesting story about Erin Brockovitch. From the St. Petersburg Times: bq. Comforting residents coping with tragedy isn't the only way Brockovich has shaped the Coronet case - or other cases around the country that involve corporate polluters and claims of personal injury. When she rides to the rescue, complicated cases that involve hard-core science and huge financial stakes sometimes become imprinted with a Hollywood story line that may not jibe with the facts. bq. She has never set foot in Hillsborough County's rural Plant City, but her name alone is influencing news coverage, attracting clients and conferring credibility to illness reports. One person's comment: bq. "She's not a crusader," Zager said. "She's an opportunist." There is nothing wrong with seeking publicity but to do so by using people's fears and worries is not good...
A very interesting analysis of the problems in Iraq can be found on Daniel Pipe's website: bq. The current insurrection in Iraq was discernable a year ago, as I already noted in April 2003: "Thousands of Iraqi Shiites chanted "�No to America, No to Saddam, Yes to Islam" a few days ago, during pilgrimage rites at the holy city of Karbala. Increasing numbers of Iraqis appear to agree with these sentiments. They have ominous implications for the coalition forces." bq. The recent wave of violence makes those implications fully apparent. The key problem: bq. ...as a predominantly Muslim people, Iraqis share in the powerful Muslim reluctance to being ruled by non-Muslims. This reluctance results from the very nature of Islam, the most public and political of religions. And his solution: bq. I therefore counsel the occupying forces quickly to leave Iraqi cities and then, when feasible, to leave Iraq as a whole. They should seek out what I have been calling for since a year ago: a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman, someone who will work with the coalition forces, provide decent government, and move eventually toward a more open political system. Interesting take on the situation. The issue of Muslim's being ruled by non-Muslims is being addressed by the June 30th handover and I think this was the best way to do it. If we leave them alone and let the strongest ruler win, we open ourselves up for an Iranian or Syrian backed Islamofascist to set up camp. There are lots of people over there who want democracy to fail and lots of people who dearly want it to succeed. Democracy needs to succeed for the whole 9th-century cycle of violence and hatred to be broken.
Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution writes about the ten oddest taxes: bq. But no need to wait for the police to cuff you before you cough up the cash. In North Carolina, for instance, when you acquire an illegal drug (or even "moonshine"), you can go to the Department of Revenue and pay your tax, in exchange for which you'll receive stamps to affix to your illegal substance. The stamps serve as evidence you paid the tax on the illegal product. The link wiht the other nine is this CNN/Money article.
There is a good writeup of B.A.G. day over on Publicola. They have a good description of possible candidates with explanations for each choice. Check it out!
An interesting article in the NY Times about Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and his visit to North Korea five years ago: bq. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology around the world, has told his interrogators that during a trip to North Korea five years ago he was taken to a secret underground nuclear plant and shown what he described as three nuclear devices, according to Asian and American officials who have been briefed by the Pakistanis. There is some debate as to whether these were actual workable bombs or just mockups - Dr. Kahn is a metallurgist and not a nuclear physicist but the implications are not good. The NY Times article says that the USA is bringing this information to China in hopes that the Chinese will speed up negotiations with N. Korea. Nuts is bad, nuts with nukes is much much worse...
This is just plain strange: There is an auction on eBay for some wax figures of Country Music stars. If the figures were not so badly done, this would be something to pass over but they are so wooden and so non-lifelike that they deserve a closer look. These make Michael Jackson look good...
Anyone remember the dance called the Twist? Based on a song by Chubby Checker? Mr. Checker is now rap 'artist' Chubby C. and is hoping to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.
From Slashdot comes this story on High Performance Computing: bq. Linux clustering was touted as the next big thing by many vendors last week at ClusterWorld Conference & Expo 2004. But supercomputer vendor Cray Inc. scoffed at the notion of putting Linux clusters in the high-performance computing (HPC) category. The article links to a quote from Cray's Chief Technology Officer Dr. Paul Terry who said: bq. "At best, clusters are a loose collection of unmanaged, individual, microprocessor-based computers." bq. Businesses shouldn't expect supercomputer performance from Linux clusters, Terry warned. bq. "Cluster vendors would have you believe that their performance is the linear sum of each of their respective GFLOPS [Giga Floating Point Operations Per Second]," he said. "Most cluster [experts] know now that users are fortunate to get more than 8% of the peak performance in sustained performance." bq. Linux clusters do have a place. "For applications that require low performance, they are a cheaper solution," said Terry. And Clarke's Law you ask??? bq. "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
I was planning to blog from Fresno but too much was happening. I do have a couple comments on the farm in general - specifically water rights, outsourcing, and pesticide use that I think will be interesting but these need to be written later when I have had a good nights sleep. (our plane was over two hours late) Look for the first of them tomorrow... I am surfing a little bit before bed and if I see something interesting I will post but the usual
spew content will resume Tuesday.
Check out Buster Jack: bq. Busta Jack is a 80year old rapper. He's the oldest rapper ever! That's right he so old he can't even tour but, with a little caffeine and smelling salts we can bring him to you via CD. bq. Oliver Jackson (Busta Jack) was born in Mississippi and raised on Chicago's Southside. His street life in his early years resulted in some hard lessons learned and ultimately prison time. However, his past vices are not glorified in his music. bq. Jack started writing raps in the early eighties to inspire young people and to speak out on political issues. Having lived through the Depression, this former U.S. Steel worker and retired Board of Ed. custodian knows about struggle and "Tough Times in the Hood." bq. Finally the parents, the older generation, have a voice in the most popular music among young people today. So, from Chicago to the world we bring you, BUSTA JACK LoFi MP3s available on the website. Not bad!
This is very cool... Scaled Composites -- Burt Rutan's company -- has been building a reusable spaceship. It went on its first flight on the anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight (went supersonic too!) and now it has flown again. From Space.com: bq. The privately-backed SpaceShipOne suborbital rocket plane made its second powered flight today. bq. Built by Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, the piloted vehicle was powered by a hybrid rocket motor to over 105,000 feet. The engine burned for 40 seconds, zipping to Mach 2, or two times the speed of sound, according to a source that witnessed the test flight high above Mojave, California skies.
There was an explosion and fire in a New Mexico Oil Refinery today as reported by the Miami Herald: bq. Two explosions followed by fire rocked a gasoline refinery Thursday, seriously injuring four people, officials said. bq. Smoke billowed from the east side of the Giant Industries refinery about 15 miles east of Gallup in western New Mexico as rescue crews converged on the scene. Probably an industrial accident but it will be bad for fuel prices in that area. There was another refinery fire about a week ago in Texas.
From EnGaget comes this item for your Mitac cell phone: bq. From Polismart, an attachment that converts Mitac�s Mio 8380 Smartphone into a personal radiation detector. They�re mainly meant for use by police, border guards, and emergency response teams, but we wouldn�t think you were totally crazy if you felt the need to carry one around, too. Very interesting device - not only a Gamma detector but a spectroscope too so it can do a basic isotope profile. It then uploads the data to a central server for monitoring. Wonder if that was what they used in Vegas last New Years.
Jen and I are visiting her family over the Easter weekend so blogging will be light. We will be flying down to Fresno, CA - there is computer access there so I'll be doing a little bit of Farm Blogging but nothing like the usual volume. Have a wonderful and safe holiday everyone!
He usually writes a column every Friday but he's a day early this week. Read "Western Cannibalism" bq. This war grows stranger here at home and abroad all the time. Despite the horrific barbarism in Fallujah and the gun-toting and killing by the Shiites, the United States is ever so steadily establishing a consensual government of sorts under impossible conditions in Iraq. Meanwhile the Middle East watches the pulse of the conflict, wondering whether the Fallujah savages and the primordial Shiite extremists will succeed in Lebanonizing Iraq. bq. Or will the American pressure for democracy and reform reverberate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to move Libya, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and the Saudis to greater transparency, consensual rule, and an end of their support for terrorists? The courage and sacrifice of thousands of American soldiers now determine whether those who dream of freedom step forward boldly into the light, or retreat meekly into the shadows � and whether we will be safe in our own homes. bq. Out of all the recent chaos emerges one lesson: Appeasement of fundamentalists is not appreciated as magnanimity, but ridiculed as weakness � and, in fact, encourages further killing. A shaken Spain elected a new government that promised to exit Iraq. In return, the terrorists planted more bombs, issued more demands, and then staged a fiery exit for themselves. France, as is its historical wont, triangulated with the Muslim world and then found its fundamentalist plotters all over Paris. The Saudi royals thought that they of all people could continue to blackmail the fundamentalists � until the suicide-murderers turned their explosives on their benefactors and began to blow up Arab Muslims as well. General Musharraf once did all he could to appease Islamists � and got assassination plots as thanks. He then continues to take apart the people who are comparing this present war with Vietnam and crying quagmire and the fifth columnists who are offering verbal support and encouragement for our enemies. Takes about five minutes to read but excellent stuff! He closes with this: bq. The war is what it always was � a terrible struggle against an evil and determined enemy, a Minotaur of sorts that harvested Americans in increments for decades before mass murdering 3,000 more on September 11. bq. Everything that the world holds dear � the free exchange of ideas, the security of congregating and traveling safely, the long struggle for tolerance of differing ideas and religions, the promise of equality between the sexes and ethnic groups, and the very trust that lies at the heart of all global economic relationships � all this and more Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the adherents of fascism in the Middle East have sought to destroy: some as killers themselves, others providing the money, sanctuary, and spiritual support. bq. We did not ask for this war, but it came. In our time and according to our station, it is now our duty to end it. And that resolution will not come from recrimination in time of war, nor promises to let fundamentalists and their autocratic sponsors alone, but only through the military defeat and subsequent humiliation of their cause. So let us cease the hysterics, make the needed sacrifices, and allow our military the resources, money, and support with which it most surely will destroy the guilty and give hope at last to the innocent.
One of my favorite writers - Bill Whittle - weighs in on what's happening in Fallujah: bq. CHIN UP! These have been tough days for our countrymen in Iraq. They may yet get tougher. But it will do us all some good to take a deep breath, and look at what some of our ancestors had to face in similar dark moments. bq. The killings in Fallujah of four civilian aid workers, and the subsequent mutilation of their bodies by cheering thugs and bloody-handed children filled me with rage and an overwhelming desire to turn my back on these savages and leave them to their own murderous history. Many of those people deserve nothing better. And I am bitterly disappointed that, having failed to overthrow their own murdering tyrant, the wider population of Iraqis has failed to rise to the occasion when their freedom was paid for them with the blood of our own sons and daughters. bq. This, of course, is exactly, precisely the reaction those murdering bastards were counting on, and I mean to do what I can to see that they do not get rewarded for their actions. They had assumed that if enough Americans could be killed, we would turn tail and run. This is not an unreasonable strategy on their part; we have trained these monsters to believe this about us in Beirut and Somalia, and the price we paid for minimizing pain then is coming due now, and will continue to come due until we can install some new programming into the surviving savages that commit these crimes. Bill goes on to cite some historical similarities and then finishes off with this observation: bq. Remember: we fight this 12th century Death Cult in Iraq or we fight them in New York. We chose. We will soon enough see if the Iraqis have earned the freedom Americans are dying to protect tonight. bq. That is irrelevant. We fight for our freedom. We have earned it. Excellent stuff!
The USAID report on the Iraq mass graves is out now. You can read it here (PDF) Once again, Saddam was a benevolent ruler and we had no business interfering. Yeahhhh riiight... And pigs are flying.
Not that kind - we wound up owing this year but not too much. The link from Slashdot to the story in CIO Magazine is about the IRS's own troubles as it tries to modernize. Eight Billion Dollars of our money down the rabbit-hole... bq. By assembling a star-studded team of vendors, the IRS thought its $8 billion modernization project would manage itself. The IRS thought wrong. Now the agency's ability to collect revenue, conduct audits and go after tax evaders has been severely compromised. There are so many nuggets in this article that it is really hard to excerpt 'sound bites'. If this subject is of interest, read it -- it will make you think a bit more about getting some property and laying in some supplies... This is not a simple thing. Also, the comments from the Slashdot reference are really cynical. Here is one: bq. You work in the private sector -- where a CTO's responsibility is to implement the new technology and deliver results. bq. I can guarantee you that actually completing a project is not the goal of any government CTO. bq. In the public sector, the longer a project takes, the more favorable contracts can be handed out to friends and people from whom political favors can be extracted in the future. The more favors you're owed, the more power you have. The more power you have, the more people you can hire, the bigger your budget, and the more people who owe you favors. bq. If your goal is to decrease cost and increase customer service because there's competition that's ready, willing, and able to take customer dollars out of your pockets, those are bugs, not features. bq. If your goal is to increase cost and decrease customer service because there is no competition -- and the only way to get more dollars into your pocket is to increase your power, these are features, not bugs. bq. In brief: Government - working according to the parameters listed in its functional specification. OUCH!
I first blogged about it here and at the time, no one knew where the laptop case came from. Thanks to Ramblings Journal we now know that it was manufacturer Tom Binh who's shop is in Port Angeles, WA (an otherwise wonderful city) A picture of the tag is here: and it seems that Mr. Binh likes the work of Mr. Fisk since that is his choice of 'link' on the "About Us" section of the website for his collective. Vote with our dollars perhaps?
Good cartoon today from Cox and Forkum: They also do a bit of the backstory behind each cartoon and today's comes from a news item in The Times of India reporting on an Agence France Presse story: bq. US marines bomb Fallujah mosque US marines pressing an offensive in this Iraqi town west of Baghdad bombed a central mosque on Wednesday and killed up to 40 insurgents holed up inside, a marine officer said. What caught my eye was this comment from the head of the Marines First Division, General James Mattis: bq. "If they barricade themselves inside a mosque, we are not going to care about the mosque anymore than they do." Yes - more faster please!
Not to mention a hacked off owner who has title with no loan and a Cop and a Lawyer. Hat tip to amcgltd. The story is on an online forum: Rocky Mountain Club 85: bq. Last night I go down stairs to the garage to get a CD out of my Golf. (I park in a coverd parking garage for my apartment building) and my car is gone. So at this point I feel like im haveing a heart attack I couldent belive that its gone. I go back up stairs to call CSPD and when I get them on the phone to report it stolen, the officer on the other end says that I cant report it stolen because its been REPOED!!! WTF! Their is no loan on the Golf so how can it be repoed I told him. He says that he dosent know it was reported to them as being repoed an hour and a half before. So I ask him what company repoed it so I can contact them and get my car back. He wont tell me he says that I need to call the bank and they will tell me. At this point I lost it, [me yelling at the cop>] THIEIR IS NO BANK FOR ME TO CALL, I DONT HAVE A LOAN ON THAT CAR!!!! So he gets me to calm down and finally tells me who took my car. He even writes updates to the forum while the Cop and Lawyer are sitting there waiting for the repo people to return the car. Talk about customer service... Sheesh!
From Crumb Trail - Back40 writes about an interesting and direct way to cut emissions: bq. We hear the usual suspects whinging about proposals to implement a cap-and-trade system for reducing emissions - such as mercury from coal fired power plants - even though it is a proven method that has had great success in reducing acid rain from sulfur dioxide emissions. They obfuscate and try to further delay the system because it is of value to them as a political wedge issue, something far more important to them than environmental health. And an example of one group that did a direct action and not a political one - from an article in Wired Magazine: bq. Last month, students at the Lewiston, Maine, college bid on -- and won -- the rights to pollute the environment with nine tons of sulfur dioxide at an auction sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency. They then proceeded to retire those rights, effectively keeping that sulfur dioxide from falling on Maine, or anywhere else, in the form of acid rain. Back40 finishes up with the comment: bq. What a fine way to vote with wallets, to truly express values and desires. It's one thing to force someone else to sacrifice for your values, and another to make the sacrifice yourself. It is fair and immediate so long as the systems are in place. Individuals and groups can directly express their values and make a difference in society far beyond their impact as advocates and participants in political systems. Even the smallest and poorest can have a direct effect. Rather than giving your money from the bake sale to a politician to squander on media time use it more wisely in a targeted way. It's what investors call a pure play. This is very cool - the Wired article goes into a bit more detail. It used to cost about $80 for one ton of SO2 but it is now more like $320. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is the prime cause of Acid Rain. The professor at the College has set up a non-profit fund -- The Acid Rain Retirement Fund -- to buy these permits and they now own 92 tons of SO2 emissions. This sort of Environmentalism I really like - it is based on hard facts, takes the long view, is compatible with our present lifestyle and business operations and we aren't trying to implement a 9th Century lifestyle on anyone. -- BUT -- Good and tangible work is being done. Quietly. Without any grandstanding and minimal administrative costs. Very cool!
From the blog Healing Iraq (written by an Iraqi dentist) comes an update to the politics and fighting happening there: bq. More on Sadr's insurgency Of course, Sadr has set up offices in almost every city, town, and village in the south. And I have mentioned earlier that they had assumed full control over my small village where I work in the Basrah governorate weeks ago, terrorizing IP officers, civil servants, and doctors but nobody was listening. I don't think I will be heading back there any soon now. What surprises me is the almost professional coordination of the uprisings in all of these areas. I'm assuming, of course, that the money and equipment supplied by our dear Mullahs in Iran is being put to use good enough, not to mention the hundreds of Pasderan and Iranian intelligence officers.. sorry I mean Iranian Shia pilgrims that have been pouring into Iraq for months now. And more: bq. No one knows where it is all heading. If this uprising is not crushed immediately and those militia not captured then there is no hope at all. If you even consider negotiations or appeasement, then we are all doomed. This is the final push now folks - this is being done entirely by Iran who does not want to see a democracy in Iraq. They are sending Mullah's Guns and Money into Iraq to try to drive the coalition forces out so that they can set up their own brand of Stalinist Fascist corrupt government... Be strong and don't give up - you are almost there!!!
Hat tip to the Kommissar at Politburo Diktat for this link and this story line. bq. Limbaugh calls Oprah "Brown Sugar" In his latest racially-oriented flap, the harshly partisan commentator used the term "Brown Sugar" for a widely-respected black woman. Or, . . . well . . . close enough. What if it had been Limbaugh - the left would have been calling for his head on a pike. A liberal commentator does the same thing and it passes for a comic strip...
This is bizarre - John F. Kerry has just hired Zach Exley, the director of special projects for MoveOn. CNN reports. MoveOn is the group behind those disgusting anti-Bush campaign TV spots that compared him with 1940's Germany and Hitler. MoveOn is also the group that hosted the party where Margaret Cho used such foul language. MoveOn is also the group that has irregularities with overseas funding of presidential campaigns.
Interesting stuff - one gallon of it weighs one quarter of one ounce. From the NY Times science section: bq. Carbon was known to come in four configurations: diamond crystals, flat sheets of graphite, soccer-ball-shaped cages known as buckyballs and rolled-up cylinders called nanotubes. bq. The new form also consists of narrow tubes, but the tubes are connected in a willowy lattice. bq. "When you see it in the naked eye, it's just flakes," said Dr. John Giapintzakis, a researcher at the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas in Crete, who examined samples of nanofoam. "With an optical microscope, it looks like a sponge." bq. Dr. Giapintzakis's surprise discovery is that nanofoam, unlike the other four forms of carbon, is magnetic. In the first few hours after it forms, nanofoam is attractive enough to stick to a refrigerator. The magnetism then wanes and disappears.
"The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action." Frank Herbert
Some good observations from Lynne Kiesling at Knowledge Problem regarding the current kerfuffle over gas prices: bq. Because so far the OPEC production cut is all talk, no action. This story discusses the fact that OPEC's March production was increased, and that thus far it doesn't look like the April production has fallen. bq. For me this story also raises a question. The EIA weekly survey of US gasoline inventory moves oil and gasoline markets. Why do the markets pay it so much attention at this time of year? We always have this problem in March and early April now that we have seasonally different winter and summer fuel blends and have to deplete the inventory of the winter fuel. March has been the month of tricky inventory balances for a decade. So true - we are looking for bogeymen and inventing them from nothing. High gas prices happen this time of the year and we keep forgetting about it and treating it as something new...
Strange story - last fall, two children were seen living in a tent near Vernon, British Columbia. They said that their names were Tom and Will Green and they said that their parents � Mary and Joseph � raised them in virtual isolation in the B.C. interior near Revelstoke. They claimed they left after a dispute with their parents. Turns out that the entire thing was a confabulation and that they were actually raised in a Sacramento, CA. suburb. The store is here and here
Just wonderful... From BBC News: bq. Thieves have stolen 660kg (1400lb) of dynamite from an unstaffed storage depot in Norway, say police. bq. Around 5,000 detonators were also stolen, raising fears of a terrorist attack, officials told state radio. And more: bq. Last May, a taped message attributed to al-Qaeda's second-in-command urged Muslim militants to hit Norway. These people need to WAKE UP NOW! How many terrorist attacks will it require?
Today is the 35th Anniversary of RFC #1 RFC's are a "Request for Comments" and are the format used to define communications standards for the internet. The first one was the basic definition of protocols used in the predecessor of the internet - ARPANET. There are more than 3,500 of them now.
Yesterday, I linked to an article from the Healing Iraq blog. He has now published an update on the situation there: bq. Sadr's aide and head of his office in Najaf, Qays Al-Khaz'ali, has declared the latest looting and killing spree going on in several Iraqi southern cities as an Intifada against the occupation. Speaking on behalf of Muqtada, he stated that they will certainly not calm down any soon because the Quran orders them not to; "Fight those who fight against you". And he has also made it clear that they stand united with their 'Sunni brothers' in Ramadi, Fallujah, and Adhamiya in the resistance. From the "Follow the Money" department: bq. What surprises me is the almost professional coordination of the uprisings in all of these areas. I'm assuming, of course, that the money and equipment supplied by our dear Mullahs in Iran is being put to use good enough, not to mention the hundreds of Pasderan and Iranian intelligence officers.. sorry I mean Iranian Shia pilgrims that have been pouring into Iraq for months now. From the "Media Blood-lust" department: bq. Anyway, it seems that fighting is ongoing in Sadr city, northeast of Baghdad. A total of 110 Iraqis and 19 coalition soldiers killed in the last 12 hours according to Al-Jazeera, which I have never witnessed being any more hateful and provocative until this day. They keep displaying headlines like 'Occupation forces target more women and children in Sadr city' or 'Resistance in Fallujah forces occupation forces to withdraw from locations'. From the "for Allah-fscking-sake-get-a-clue" department: bq. No one knows where it is all heading. If this uprising is not crushed immediately and those militia not captured then there is no hope at all. If you even consider negotiations or appeasement, then we are all doomed. The Mullahs, Guns and Money are pouring in from Iran. The powers in Iran are running scared - Democracy is not what they want. For all of their religious teachings, these people are horribly horribly corrupt and want to stay that way. Out Now Please! A number of bloggers (myself as one of them) think that this is the worst battle to come and will also be the final real one. The Islamofascists are using their people as though they were eating their own seed corn. Nothing for the future. This is perhaps (and I ardently hope!) their Battle of the Bulge -- expensive for all sides but very instrumental in ending this and the final true and real decline and defeat of the Islamofascists. Spiritual purity is a very good thing but it has to start with your own heart and you need to keep polishing your heart like a mirror so that it will show the true reflection of your soul -- the cleanliness and love with no trace of hate or blindness. That is purity!
From The Register: bq. Microsoft has already claimed a nice chunk of the NAS (network attached storage) market and has even been a firm backer of the emerging iSCSI protocol. However, the engineers in Redmond have tended to balk when higher-end Fibre Channel-based SANs come up. bq. But Microsoft has now released a new Fibre Channel Information Tool, designed to let customers see SAN systems from a server running Windows Server 2003. The tool basically looks out over a SAN and gathers relevant hardware configuration information. It will ship as a free download in May with companies such as Emulex, LSI Logic and QLogic lining up behind it. bq. Customers will also find new Windows Server 2003 software for "tracing" communications between storage and server systems in a SAN. This tool will arrive with Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003. Sweeeet! Fibre Channel is the way to go when you have multiple computers sharing a common pool of disk drives. It allows for all sorts of configurations and has very high performance. It used to be that you needed to use specialized software provided by the Fibre Channel manufacturer and it was always expensive and never fit into the management console. Having an integrated management tool will be great.
Ran into these two blogs run by the same person. First: Disecting Leftism Sample text: bq. The Left have always wanted more spent on welfare and made "Fascism" a swear-word. President Bush deposed a brutal Fascist dictator and sponsored a big expansion of welfare. But instead of being admired by the Left, he is hated with a passion. What does that tell you about the Left? It tells you that they have no principles at all: That everything they have ever claimed to stand for is fake. Second: Greenie Watch He (John) found himself writing more and more about the escapades of the Green movement that he just started this separate blog. Sample text: bq. Green/Left pre-emption OK: "Yet organs like The Times insist over the last year or so ... that preemptive wars are wrong, even criminal, without ever confessing that they have all along been the strongest supporters of political ideas that unabashedly and unapologetically endorse preemptive and precautionary public policies. Take the long and eagerly championed precautionary approach in the field of environmental public policies. The argument here is that some things are just so horrible to contemplate about the future ecology of the planet that action needs to be taken even in the absence of concrete evidence demonstrating the need." Soon to be added to the blogroll...
From Slashdot comes a link to this story in Cinescape: bq. Based on Larry Niven's RINGWORLD series of novels, a four-hour mini-series is in development. In the future four explorers crash on an artificial structure in deep space, a mammoth ring that circles a distant star. Exploring this strange place, the humans discover that there is life here and secrets that could change the universe forever. This and Earthsea too!
Interesting commentary on the new Liberal Talk Radio network... From the Alternative Press Review: You need to read the whole thing to get the real context of what they are doing. Basically, because there isn't much funding for these shows, they are coming in on the small stations that formerly handled ethnic and diverse cultural programming for communities. The new "Liberals" are not seeing the irony in the fact that their "Liberal" programming is shutting out those people who support them. Here is the closing paragraph: bq. Sadly, it seems that nothing will be there to balance the utter whiteness of the network's format. Considering that the Democratic Party would be a political nonentity without the support of black voters, the fact that they are shut out and marginalized at every turn is beyond insulting. Air America Radio is just another episode in a long history of callous indifference and clueless misunderstanding the Democratic Party and white liberals in general have shown toward the black community. White liberals need to wake up and realize that this sort of business isn't going to cut it any longer, and black liberals need to speak up loudly and let them know it. Refusing to tune in to Air America Radio would be a good place to start. I know I won't be.
From Derek Lowe comes this analysis of Osmium Tetroxide and its possible uses as a terrorist weapon. He is a pharmaceutical chemist. The reason for this analysis is this ABC News story: bq. British authorities believe terror suspects arrested last week were planning to make a bomb that would include a highly toxic, easily obtained chemical called osmium tetroxide, ABCNEWS has learned. bq. Used primarily in laboratories for research, osmium tetroxide is known to attack soft human tissue and could blind or kill anyone who breathed its fumes. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, it is a colorless to pale yellow solid with a strong, unpleasant odor.
From LGF comes the text of this email. An Israeli Medical Doctor wrote to a German company requesting information about a medical conference in San Diego and got the following reply: bq. Information about medical conferences in San Diego in June and July is available in MediConf. bq. Please note that our business is to sell medical conference information for a fee. bq. We will release the requested information to you after you become a MediConf customer: http://www.mediconf.de bq. Sincerely, Reinald Steck bq. P.S. We are pretty sure that your previously so desperate need for information about medical conferences in San Diego in June and July has suddenly vanished! ;-) bq. P.P.S. Are you going to send an Israeli commando to kill us now, because maybe you don�t like what we wrote? bq. P.P.S. Why don�t you kill all the Palestinians? You have taken almost all their land, and they are all poor, inferior, brutish, violent terrorists anyway, aren�t they? bq. You might as well finish the job already started. Just a few million more. bq. Thank God all Jews are compassionate doctors (according to TIME magazine). Baby Jebus - it's bad enough that people still think like this but to include these sentiments in an email to someone you don't know is downright asinine.
From BoingBoing comes this link to this story: bq. I had to share this find. I recently purchased a high-quality computer sleeve from a small boutique manufacturer. I was checking if it could be washed. The photo is the attached tag with the washing instructions in both English and French. The English is exactly what you would expect and so is the French, for the first 6 lines. The last three lines of French are most interesting. "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We didn't vote for him." No word on who the manufacturer was. Cute...
The growing U.N. Oil-for-Food corruption and kickback scandal is starting to be brought out in mainstream media. Yahoo/USAToday has this article (Hat tip to Instaman): bq. Today, evidence suggests U.N. officials abused the program, enriching themselves, Saddam and favored foreign companies. The Iraqi Governing Council has hired accountants and lawyers to investigate Iraqi documents it says provide proof of corruption and fraud in the oil-for-food program. bq. Iraq's media have cited at least 270 suspects, including French and Russian firms, a senior U.N. official and a company linked to the son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Last month, a U.S. congressional investigation estimated that Saddam siphoned $10 billion or more from the program in kickbacks and bribes. bq. The charges could be shrugged off as the unfortunate but all-too-typical type of corruption that defines both dictators and international aid programs, except for one thing: The scandal tars an organization that could play a crucial supporting role in U.S. efforts to turn Iraq into a stable democracy. This is the tip of the iceberg folks...
Very clever idea being implemented in the 2.6 kernel. It can anticipate additional disk reads and writes and ensures that the heads are properly placed and that movement is minimized. From Yahoo/Technology: bq. Linux kernel 2.6 introduces improved IO scheduling that can increase speed -- "sometimes by 1,000 percent or more, [more] often by 2x" -- for standard desktop workloads, and by as much as 15 percent on many database workloads, according to Andrew Morton of Open Source Development Labs. This increased speed is accomplished by minimizing the disk head movement during concurrent reads. The anticipatory scheduler can be tweaked with five parameters to optimize performance for specific applications (web server / database engine / etc...) Very cool stuff...
From Forbes: bq. Activists including the Rev. Jesse Jackson rallied on Monday against letting Wal-Mart Stores Inc. build a new center here, calling the company a modern "plantation" one day before a vote to allow the chain's plan to go forward. To quote the Reverend: bq. Flanked by images of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, Rev. Jackson called Wal-Mart an "economic Trojan horse" that has created an "uneven playing field for workers in America" by offering substandard wages and benefits. Hey dude - they pay people less but no one is forcing you to work there. 'Sides, stuff is cheaper there. If they paid people more they would have to charge more. The word you are looking for is "Economics" What, WalMart management didn't pay their shakedown to your Rainbow/PUSH organization?
Interesting point from Back40 at Crumb Trail. The general public and the environmental groups point to increased cattle grazing as the thing that is causing the precipitous decline of the Amazon Rainforest basin when it is actually Brazil's exports of soybeans to Europe that is causing the most damage to the land. bq. One of the world's most alarming environmental controversies appears to be worsening. Rates of forest destruction in Brazilian Amazonia exceeded the previous year's rate by about 40%. In total, 6.4 million acres were felled and burned, an area nearly the size of Belgium... bq. Soybeans are big business in Brazil, which looks set to overtake the US as the world's largest soybean producer. The area of land under soybeans has grown sharply, increasing from 25 million acres in 1990 to over 45 million acres today. Most soybean production is concentrated along the southern margin of the Amazon, in drier woodlands and savannas, but each year the soybean farmers are encroaching further into the rainforest... bq. Much of Brazil's burgeoning soybean crop is exported to Europe, where it is used as feed for cattle and pigs. And the solution is a relatively simple one but not well suited to the slash and burn mindset -- one needs to take the long view for this to work: bq. hmmm, another Belgium's worth of beans every year grown for export to Europe. No wonder the cattle have no place to graze, their grasslands have been plowed up for beans and now they're cutting down the forest for even more bean fields. The problem isn't cattle, it's beans and the demented notion of development through export of low value agricultural commodities. The key to development is to export valuable products. Brazil should keep its beans and grasslands for cattle forage and export beef, dairy products and manufactured leather goods. These products are worth more and they get to keep the manure rather than exporting their soil fertility to Europe. bq. Generating greater revenues per acre means fewer acres will be developed. But the principle must be followed repeatedly. Plow the profits into further development of higher value activities. Instead of exporting soya, export packaged tofu. Fewer beans will need to be grown for greater profits. More and better local jobs will be created. To develop they need to move up the value curve. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is where the effort should be spent - educating the farmers and the financial backers that they will get more $$$ out of their operation if they stick with one area, farm better, train their workers and invest in the factories to make a finished product instead of shipping the raw materials out of country. Value-added merchandise is the only way to go.
From the wonderful Healing Iraq (blogrolled to the right) This site is written by an Iraqi dentist in Bagdhad and has proven accurate and a great source of small details. bq. A coup d'etat is taking place in Iraq a the moment. Al-Shu'la, Al-Hurria, Thawra (Sadr city), and Kadhimiya (all Shi'ite neighbourhoods in Baghdad) have been declared liberated from occupation. Looting has already started at some places downtown, a friend of mine just returned from Sadun street and he says Al-Mahdi militiamen are breaking stores and clinics open and also at Tahrir square just across the river from the Green Zone. News from other cities in the south indicate that Sadr followers (tens of thousands of them) have taken over IP stations and governorate buildings in Kufa, Nassiriya, Ammara, Kut, and Basrah. Al-Jazeera says that policemen in these cities have sided with the Shia insurgents, which doesn't come as a surprise to me since a large portion of the police forces in these areas were recruited from Shi'ite militias and we have talked about that ages ago. And it looks like this move has been planned a long time ago. bq. No one knows what is happening in the capital right now. Power has been cut off in my neighbourhood since the afternoon, and I can only hear helicopters, massive explosions, and continuous shooting nearby. The streets are empty, someone told us half an hour ago that Al-Mahdi are trying to take over our neighbourhood and are being met by resistance from Sunni hardliners. Doors are locked, and AK-47's are being loaded and put close by in case they are needed. The phone keeps ringing frantically. Baghdadis are horrified and everyone seems to have made up their mind to stay home tomorrow until the situation is clear. bq. Where is Shitstani? And why is he keeping silent about this? One of the key problems is that Iran is flooding Iraq with clerics, guns and money trying as hard as they can to destabilize the new government. The Islamofascist states do not want democracy because that would losten their power. He since posted this update: bq. UPDATE: Sorry for the depressing note. It seems like everything is back under control, at least from what I can see in my neighbourhood. There is an eerie silence outside, only dogs barking. Until about an hour ago, it sounded like a battlefield, and we had flashbacks of last April. I don't know what happened, but there were large plumes of smoke from the direction of Adhamiya and Kadhimiya. I wanted to take some pictures but my father and uncle both said they would shoot me on the spot if I tried, they were afraid the Apaches would mistake us for troublemakers and fire at us. I'm dreading tomorrow. We will see tomorrow...
Hat tip to LGF for this link to a story about Oriana Fallaci 's newest book: "The Strength of Reason" ("La Forza della Ragione") bq. "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam. And Italy is an outpost of that province, a stronghold of that colony," the book says. "In each of our cities lies a second city: a Muslim city, a city run by the Quran. A stage in the Islamic expansionism." bq. Describing Europe as "Eurabia" � a mix of Europe and Arabia � the Italian writer said the continent "has sold itself and sells itself to the enemy like a prostitute." She pulls no punches. She was involved in resistance activities during WWII and hasn't slowed down yet... No American version of the book yet but it will be on my shopping list when it comes out.
From Computerworld comes an article about disk array manufacturer EMC and their entry into the disk backup market: bq. EMC Corp. today plans to announce a data-archiving device that offers the speed and file-level granularity of disk storage but looks like a tape library to application servers. bq. The Clariion Disk Library is based on the company's Clariion disk array line and costs about 50% more than high-end tape libraries with comparable storage capacities, EMC said. List prices for the device, which is being introduced at the Storage Networking World conference, range from $109,000 for a 500GB model to $450,000 for a 32TB configuration. EMC is very pricey stuff - used some of their products in a previous job and although the engineering is rick solid, we were able to build the same functionality using C.O.T.S. hardware for about 35% of the price. It is interesting to see the idea of backup moving away from tape and on to disk. Disk space is cheap these days -- high performance storage is less than one dollar/Gigabyte and when you combine multiple disks into a RAID array, the chance of data loss drops to insignificance. You can loose a drive and still be able to recover the lost data.
From New Scientist magazine: bq. An investigation of the way insects colonize corpses left decomposing in the open has cast doubt on one of the key techniques used to estimate when a murder victim died. bq. Along with assessments of the body's state of decomposition, insect analysis is the most common means for estimating time of death. Many species of flies and beetles may live on a human body as it decomposes. By identifying their stage of development, and comparing them to those on a pig or human body deliberately left to rot in a similar environment, forensic entomologists can work out how long a corpse has been lying dead. This is still a lot better than any other method of determination known. The article is basically saying that the accuracy is not as great as sometimes thought. Fascinating subject though - I'm reading this book and it is interesting to follow the developments in this science. For a long time, the bug people (entomologists) weren't recognized as potential witnesses to murder investigations, now they are a crucial part of the evidence gathering.
From the WA Post bq. Washington Post correspondent Anthony Shadid today won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his coverage of the Iraq war last year, receiving recognition for his vivid stories of Iraqis as their country was invaded. Here is a link to some of his writings Nice to see that it's not the usual quagmire / hand-wringing stuff that passes for journalism these days...
There is an article about a fascinating experiment in Wired Magazine: bq. A satellite designed to test two fundamental predictions made by Albert Einstein about the universe is ready for launch, 45 years after it was first proposed, NASA and Stanford University officials said. bq. Since 1959, Gravity Probe B has overcome a half-dozen attempts at cancellation, countless technical hurdles and several delayed launches. The NASA-funded, university-developed spacecraft is now scheduled to begin its mission following an April 17 liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. And the experiment itself: bq. At the spacecraft's heart are four pingpong-sized balls of quartz, the most perfect spheres ever made. To ensure accuracy, the balls must be kept chilled to near absolute zero, in the vacuum of the largest thermos ever flown in space, and isolated from any disturbances in the quietest environment ever produced, Anne Kinney, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's division of astronomy and physics, said Friday. And more: bq. If theory holds, the mass and rotation of the Earth, 397 miles below the probe, should throw the alignment of the spinning balls off kilter in subtle but measurable ways. bq. The warping effect has been measured before. The twisting effect, called frame-dragging, has never been directly detected. Gravity Probe B aims to detect both. Here is a website for the Satellite Here is a file (PDF) explaining the engineering in the gyroscope. Neat idea!
Email server problems at work - been draining the swamp and wrestling alligators all morning. Breaking for lunch in a few minutes and blogging should resume this afternoon.
The title of World's Richest person is no longer held by Bill Gates. Ever shop at Ikea? You helped make Ingvar Kamprad what he is today. bq. Citing next week's edition of the Swedish business weekly Veckans Affarer, public service SVT2 television said Kamprad, 77, has a personal fortune of 400 billion crowns ($53 billion). bq. Gates's fortune is put at $47 billion, according to the latest list of the world's rich in U.S. Forbes magazine, SVT2 said. Ouch!
This may creep some people out but I find it fascinating. No images but some links so read on... An anatomist -- Dr. Gunther von Hagens -- developed a method to "plastinate" human and animal tissue. To preserve its shape and color and to give it the strength to stand up on its own, not to be a passive faded floater in a formalin bottle. I consider his work to be art. I have a fascination about what goes on inside our bodies and his work in this is awesome. Anyway, he is canceling his tour through Europe and relocating the exhibit to some place in America -- to quote Dr. von Hagens: bq. “The cultural battle surrounding BODY WORLDS has resulted in an unbearable situation. As it has proven impossible to ban the exhibition itself, attempts are being made to criminalize me as the mind behind it. Even though these efforts will remain unsuccessful, they are constricting my creative abilities. The imminent location change will once again allow me to concentrate fully on improving both plastination and the exhibition.” Another quote is telling for the cultural atmosphere: bq. “In a society where the health and insurance provisions are left up to the individual, an exhibition which highlights peoples’ responsibility for their own bodies, ranks right on top. The BODY WORLDS exhibition will make a invaluable contribution to their society.” A a poll said that 96.5% of Americans asked wanted to see the exhibition... An 800*600 jpg of his work can be found here Note: this is not me... Not for a long long time. :-)
This is fscking obscene. This blog: The Braden Files has photos of the five houses that Kerry owns plus the one house in Italy that he sold to George Cloony just before starting to run for Prez. And he refused to disclose info on other foreign properties. The comment that I like is this one: bq. Class warfare is not right, but neither is being a hypocrite. This man wants to be our president, while claiming that he relates to Joe Sixpack and the common man. He wants to raise income taxes on the rich, well, guess what? He won't pay those taxes because his wealth isn't derived from ordinary earned wages! But he wants to make it harder for you to get rich by raising taxes on your income! Oh yes - here is his most modest one (assessed value of only $3.7 Mil.)
This one comes from bastardsword with a hat tip to dgci. A troll was calling Sir George a Nazi so Sir George decided to trace the growth of the Left from the Nazi era onward. Ugly brutish and short: bq. In case you’ve been asleep since WW-II, the modern anti-war movement is an outgrowth the Nazi Party, after undergoing a constant stream of communist revisions. The people in Berkeley who were protesting Lend-Lease and waving pro-Hitler banners were forced to decide between Hitler and Stalin when the Hitler-Stalin pact was broken. Since Hitler was the aggressor they decided to support Stalin. With America’s entry into WW-II they took conscientious objector status and sat out the war. After the war they founded the Pacifica Radio network, which they ran till the Trotskyites took it over. The Maoists ousted the Trotskyites from control of the network in the 1960’s, and have dominated it ever since, with the exception of constant purges and counter-takeovers. These are not right-wing accusations, this is what the various DJ’s and directors of Pacifica proudly proclaim in their retrospectives on the battles, posted on their own websites. And this is just the introduction. read one more excerpt: bq. These “enlightened” socialists only killed about 170 million people in the 20th century, NOT including war, so to think they stand for peace is beyond the absurd. Currently these same “enlightened” socialist NGO’s continue to oppose the selective use of DDT in the third world, which is resulting in about 3 million dead children a year, not that they care. Filling mass graves is all they know how to do. And I defy you to find anything untrue about any of these statements. Fact check first, don't blather please...
Very interesting commentary on Sir Banagor's site regarding the Left's reaction to the hideous act of terrorism and descent into 8th century brutality last week in Fallujah. bq. The Fallujah savagery was exactly what the Left wanted to happen. It was fairly obvious from the start that more pictures of the nature of Blackhawk Down would galvanize the Left into trying to get this country to do an about face and pull out of Iraq post haste. And more: bq. First of all, it is obvious that the Left doesn't give a damn about freedom and democracy. I say this with entire sincerity because these attitudes absolutely prove it. And more: bq. The fact is that we were blamed many times by the left for leaving Afghanistan too soon after the Soviets left it, only to watch it descend into anarchy and chaos - something which I entirely agree with. bq. The fact is that we are fighting the exact same tribal structure which created that descent into anarchy in Afghanistan in the 1990's, which the Left was screaming about (including me). bq. Only this time, the Left wants us to leave too soon. Why? Because it is politically expedient for them. These are just a couple of the points - well thought out! (and added to the blogroll)
One of the more interesting and useful items to be auctioned on eBay is this hot little item: bq. This 580 tonnes monster machine is a prized relic from the greatest construction achievement of the 20th century, the Channel Tunnel. With 227 double-headed rock picks tipped with tungsten carbide and a top revolving speed of 2.38 rev/min, this TBM removed a half million cubic meters of chalk and soil in creating the Eurotunnel route. And the profits from the sale? bq. Money raised from the sale will be distributed evenly to Eurotunnel's staff's preferred charities - McMillan Nurses, Demelza House Hospice and Pilgrim's Hospice. Quite cool actually - wish I could have it for my front yard. (but Honey, we need this to plant all the Apple Trees...)
Jen and I saw this movie last Saturday. Despite a couple of off reviews, we really enjoyed ourselves. The reviewer at The New Yorker magazine said that it was overplayed: bq. But that, it became clear, was the problem: everybody in and around this movie is trying too hard. Everybody pulls a silly face, or sports a behavioral tic, or shouts his lines a little too loud, for too long, with the camera hanging in close to record the comic effort. After half an hour, we realized that, instead of enjoying a funny film, we were being lightly bullied into finding fun where precious little exists. Poppycock! The reviewer (probably a metrosexual) was expecting a nuanced performance. If you want nuanced performance, go buy a copy of Gigli -- you can get them really cheap these days. The Ladykillers was pure classical Opera Buffo - grande farce. The only way it could be played was to overplay it to the hilt. Jen and I were laughing so hard tears were forming. Lots of inside humor too. One example: One of the characters is a black woman and she makes regular donations to Bob Jones University (a Bible College). Bob Jones U. was ardently segregationist to the point of running a case up to the US Supremes in 1982 asking that it continue to receive tax-exempt status as an Educational Institution even though it did not admit "People of Color".
Just got back from the country. I had planned to blog from up there but left Seattle without the phone cord I had bought. Arrrgghhh!!! The computer I have up there is an old Compaq server (1850R - gorgeous machine actually -- like them a lot and you can get them for cheap at dot-com auctions) so it has to live in the pantry (too much noise). Closest phone jack is in the kitchen. Next time! Now - let the blogging begin!
Jen and I are heading up here for the weekend -- there is a computer up there but it's on dialup so blogging will be scattered. Back on Monday Dave
This is interesting - from the Boston Globe bq. A suburban Chicago newspaper publisher convicted of spying on Iraqi dissidents for Saddam Hussein was sentenced Wednesday to three years and 10 months in federal prison. bq. Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, 61, is expected to be deported after he finishes his prison term. bq. U.S. District Judge Suzanne B. Conlon also said he may not re-enter the United States without permission from the attorney general. bq. Dumeisi was convicted of failing to register as a foreign agent, conspiring to fail to register, lying to a federal grand jury and lying to an immigration agent. He was not convicted of espionage, which involves theft of defense secrets, nor was there any allegation the case involved terrorism. bq. "I don't think anyone at the trial would conclude that Mr. Dumeisi was a sophisticated spy," the judge said, characterizing his offense as more like fraud. bq. Witnesses said Dumeisi spied on Iraqi dissidents living in the United States who were opposed to Saddam's regime and that he forwarded his information to Iraqi intelligence agents who worked at that country's U.N. mission under the guise of diplomats. Makes you wonder how many people like Dumeisi are out there in the woodwork - people who used to be supportive of Saddam and who went to ground after his capture but are still anti-US, pro Baath...
From QandO blog comes this link to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (scroll down to the next-to-last entry) which reports on an Imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca was preaching: bq. Addressing hundreds of worshippers in Mecca, Grand Mosque cleric Abdel Rahman bin Abdel Aziz al-Sudeis singled out women, saying their sins included ''bedecking, unveiling and mingling'' with men.
It's Friday and time for another excellent essay from one of my favorite authors -- Victor Davis Hanson bq. Lovin� Europe by Leavin� It is past time for our 60-year-old European child to move out of the house and get a life. bq. One of the most misleading fables about this present struggle is that, since 9/11, we have squandered European good will through arrogance and our "unilateral" operations in Iraq. The controversy over the U.N., the debate about Old and New Europe, the French-German anti-American axis � they are not so much reactions to what we have done as they are expressions of a pre-existing and very unhealthy relationship that was already eroding well before September 11. bq. The envisioned European Union will have more territory, a greater population, and a larger economy than the United States. Their aircraft, automobile, and heavy industries are nearly comparable to ours. They are flush with dollars from staggering trade surpluses. And yet in a period of its greatest crisis since the creation of the Warsaw Pact, "Europe" � whatever that imprecise term really means � has almost no meaningful military capability. He starts to talk about pulling US troops and civilians out of Europe. bq. All these are legitimate, practical economic concerns; but again, they are not the chief grounds to begin leaving Europe. bq. No, the real reason is not to end the European relationship, but to save it. And thus we must not see the current problem merely in a context of money or troops or even ingratitude, hypocrisy, and perfidy � but rather in psychological terms of dependency and its associate pathologies of enablement and passive-aggressive angst. And more: bq. So we must be farsighted and confident enough to encourage the emergence of an associate rather than a dependent. Parents are happy when their sixty-year-old sons move out and get apartments � not angry that they have lost the opportunity to feed and launder balding and perpetual adolescents. The entire essay is spot-on. Excellent stuff. Don't forget to visit his blog here
There is a leftist blog called the Daily Kos and after the terrorist savagery in Fallujah, the blogs author Markos Zuniga wrote a rant that should not have come from our worst enemy, let alone a voluntary citizen (He emigrated here) of the USA. bq. Let the people see what war is like. This isn�t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush�s folly. bq. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren�t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them. Today, that rant is gone from his blog and a partial apology is its replacement. He also deleted the archives at Google and at The Internet Archive. Fortunately other bloggers are keeping the flame alive. I like Allah's version the best. Others include Little Green Footballs Glen at Instapundit here James Taranto's Best of the Web covers it here Michael Friedman has a Screen Shot
Lynne Kiesling over at Knowledge Problem has been following the news of Gas prices recently and has a couple of interesting items today: Item one here bq. According to this Los Angeles Times article this morning, the US EPA is considering a temporary waiver of the oxygenate switchover to ethanol in New York and California that took effect this spring. Information that the government is considering this waiver moved oil and gasoline market prices strongly downward. Lynne quotes from this LA Times article: bq. Benchmark crude followed suit, falling $1.49, or 4.2%, to $34.27 a barrel on the Nymex, where the price of oil has fallen more than 10% since hitting a 13-year high of $38.18 on March 17. bq. "Just one statement about granting the waivers brought gasoline prices down," said Phil Flynn, senior oil analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "When the price of gasoline tanked, not only did it bring down crude, it brought down" all petroleum-related futures. Scroll down and read the comments especially the second one from Barry Posner who explains the significance of this and a bit about the oil refining business. The next entry here suggests that OPEC might not reduce production by 4% after all... Lynne points to an article in the Miami Herald: bq. But members continue to produce well above their targets to capitalize on the high prices. bq. "Perception seems to be having the strongest hand right now," said Mark Baxter, director of Southern Methodist University's Maguire Energy Institute. "The question is, how disciplined is OPEC and will they be willing to live within their quotas? Historically, they've shown they're not. At $35 and $36 oil, there's not much incentive for them to live within the quotas." Heh... We may be addicted to oil but the OPEC nations are addicted to something far more insidious - $$$
Went over to the Inoperable Terran. for my morning dose and found this: bq. The best blog you aren't reading ...is definitely Dave Halliday's SynthStuff. In less than 2 weeks on the blogroll it's already one of my essential daily reads. Coool!!!!!!!!! Thanks Ian
From Mysanthropyst comes this short quote that sums things up very nicely: bq. Former senator Slade Gorton: �Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001 . . . had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?� bq. Clarke: �No.�
From Instapundit comes this link to a story saying that the number of jobs created is greater than the number of jobs lost to outsourcing: bq. Bell and BMW illustrate the flip side of the election-year debate in the United States over job "outsourcing." While U.S. companies including Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's second- largest computer maker, and AIG Life Insurance Co., the world's largest insurer, have transferred white-collar work to low-wage countries such as India and China, more jobs are coming the other way, according to government estimates and trade analysts. bq. "Any way you slice it, the world is creating or transferring more jobs to the U.S. than we are doing to the rest of the world," said Daniel T. Griswold, a trade specialist at the Cato Institute, a research organization in Washington. bq. India's Essel Propack Ltd., Taiwan's Teco Electric & Machinery Co. and Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S all have built plants in the United States in the last year and a half. We have a farm - you can visit the site at BrownSnout - we recently bought a tractor. The Vendor? Kuboat (Japanese). The factory where it was built? Torrance, California and Lincolnshire, Illinois (engine)
The nice thing about the blogosphere is that it is like a waterway -- there are eddys and currents, chanels, by-ways, ox-bows and sandbars. One of the more interesting things I ran into was a list of the Goals of Communism. It came from a book originally published in 1958 but still in print. Granted, this is not something that reflects on current ideas and political agendas and I have little information (yet) on the Author but... but... Read: bq. 1958 CURRENT COMMUNIST GOALS # U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war. # U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war. # Develop the illusion that total disarmament (by) the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength. # Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war. # Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites. # Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination. # Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N. # Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N. # Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress. # Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N. # Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.) # Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party. # Do away with all loyalty oaths. # Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office. # Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States. # Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights. # Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks. # Gain control of all student newspapers. # Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack. # Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions. # Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures. # Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms." # Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art." # Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press. # Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. # Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy." # Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a "religious crutch." # Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the grounds that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state." # Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis. # Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man." # Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the grounds that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over. # Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture -- education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc. # Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus. # Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities. # Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI. # Infiltrate and gain control of more unions. # Infiltrate and gain control of big business. # Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand (or treat). # Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals. # Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce. # Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents. # Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use united force to solve economic, political or social problems. # Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government. # Internationalize the Panama Canal. # Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike. This is downright spooky. It is a bit late here and I'm tired but I will definitly be revisiting this subject.
This will be my last entry on Fallujah until the Marines and the Iraqi police start their action which I think will be in about a week. There are two basic kinds of bloggers - thinkers and linkers. I'm a linker -- one of my favorite thinkers is Steven DenBeste and he has a wonderful analysis of events and outcomes in Fallujah on his website. A couple of excerpts taken out of context but you can get the general idea: bq. During the Saddam years, the Sunnis were the top dogs, and Kurds and Shiites suffered very badly. With Saddam gone and the Baathists shattered, if what replaces them in turn oppresses the Sunnis, then in the long run it will fail to achieve the larger political goals the US requires: to inspire reform and liberalization of the entire region. We need the Sunnis themselves to participate, and we need the Shiites and Kurds to accept them. bq. And if we succeed, and if it actually does inspire liberalization elsewhere, it will be a catastrophe for the Islamists, and they know it. The insurgency in Iraq now is attempting to make that fail, by trying to prevent any reconciliation with the Sunnis. Talking about the attack: bq. The Baathist insurgency thought that ongoing attacks would cause American demoralization and retreat. That didn't work, because they monumentally misjudged the American character. But the goal of this attack is to inspire American fury. What they hope is that the Americans will be blinded by hatred and will do something extremely stupid: to punish the Sunnis collectively for the actions of the terrorist group. And the response: bq. What is needed is a response which simultaneously punishes al Qaeda and reassures the Sunnis. But to do that, there has to be preparation. Our intelligence people now are busting their butts trying to learn everything they can about this attack and those responsible for it. Until they begin to make headway in that process, we must wait. I have only cherry-picked a few choice paragraphs. Check out the whole essay. He has issued a couple of updates as his email box fills up... :-)
Emperor Misha weighs in with this: The Reaper is Coming, Fallujah, Prepare for Hell... Here is a quote from General Mark Kimmitt: bq. The U.S. military is threatening to deliver an overwhelming military response. bq. "It's going to be deliberate, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming, said U.S. General Mark Kimmitt. He told reporters in Baghdad that insurgents in Fallujah should be prepared for U.S. forces to strike back following the killing of four American contractors by a mob that dragged their charred bodies through the streets. bq. "It will be at the time and the place of our choosing. We will hunt down the criminals. We kill them or we will capture them," he said. Misha's comments: bq. Now this is a soldier speaking. We don't care too much for the "hunting down the criminals" part. This isn't about law enforcement, this is about retaliation and setting an example that'll hurt and haunt, but we do like the sound of "overwhelming" and "deliberate." bq. Coming from a General rather than a babbling State Dept. idiot in striped pants and a suit, this should give quite a few of the goat fucking insects of Fallujah bad dreams. Jen and I were talking about the military's response tonight over dinner. She wants to leave the place a smoking crater. I'm saying that there are good people there and if we don't fall to the level of the terrorists, we show them that even though we are infidels -- dhimmi -- we have more honor than they do. I would like to blow them to hell too but the long view needs to be taken. I do like Kimmitt's words though: deliberate, precise and overwhelming. Rage can focus the mind very very well... Those marines are pissed. The four people who were killed were from a private security company but their jobs were to protect the transport of food into Fallujah.
Wretchard at the Belmont Club has an as-usual excellent status report on Fallujah and a good analysis of what we are going to do next. bq. The cordon has if anything, been tightened. "U.S. troops, however, remained outside the city Thursday, and commanders said they would act 'at the time and place of our choosing." The US military defended its decision not to send troops into Fallujah immediately. Instead, the forces available blocked off the access routes. Fallujah is bounded in the West by a river and four major roads lead in and out of the town. And on the tactics of what comes next: bq. The rest is tactics. The Marines have long studied Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). They will put snipers in dominant overwatch; use the road network to divide up the town into zones by posting the intersections; they will build EPW cages outside the town; they will put persistent aerial surveillance aloft; there will be a blanket of electronic surveillance and electronic jamming over the town; they will map out the operation to a room-by-room detail. Then they will lop off bits of Fallujah one slice at a time. bq. The biggest danger, as Kimmitt knows, is that the Anti-coalition Forces will use civilians, particularly children, as human shields by sheltering and firing from houses. Unfortunately for the enemy, the cordon ensures that Kimmitt will be in no particular hurry. The enemy can shoot it out with Marine snipers who have plenty of match grade ammunition. The presence of Iraqi policemen will allow Kimmitt to direct civilians into processing areas. Then the evacuated houses will be searched individually until the entire leadership structure is taken apart. bq. The deliberate, even cold-blooded approach by the Marines makes this incident the anti-Mogadishu. The tactics employed against the Rangers in the Blackhawk Down incident relied on the belief that Americans could be reflexively trapped into defending unfavorable positions in attempts to recover bodies. The Anti-Coalition Forces probably felt sure that taunting Americans over the media would produce the desired impulsiveness. As the minutes lengthened into hours and the Marines responded with icy professionalism, the enemy may have come the unpleasant realization that this was not the former administration and that other still more unwelcome surprises were in store for them. If I was a thinking terrorist (but I contradict myself), I would be very very worried for my skin right about now. The Marines and the Iraqi police will not be impulsive, they will be slow, methodical and thorough. Semper Fi -- Fallujah delenda est!
From CS Monitor comes the touching story of an Iraqi Women's Center: bq. For their new women's center, the women of Karbala chose the name of a warrior: Zainab al-Hawraa. Sister of the Shiite martyr Imam Hussein, Zainab fought alongside him in 680, saving his young son and his legacy for future generations. bq. When Fern Holland heard the story, she laughed and told the women, "We want all Iraqi women to be just like her." Sadly, Ms. Holland was killed: bq. March 9, after visiting the center, Holland and her deputy, Salwa Ourmashi, and coalition press officer Robert Zangas were killed, their car forced off the road and machine-gunned. Investigators arrested six suspects, four with valid Iraqi police ID. And more: bq. Over the past few months, Iraqi women in public roles, especially those who work with Americans or in promoting women's rights, have increasingly become targets of death threats and assassination attempts. bq. Many large international aid groups, including most of those with women's programs, have already withdrawn international staff because of attacks against aid workers. Now the few remaining women's groups fear they will be next. bq. "We are all targets, women and Americans alike," says Yanar Mohammed, a newspaper editor and outspoken feminist. "There are many women activists, but they cannot speak boldly against political Islam." This is typical of the evil we are dealing with. We need to stand firm and win this one. If these pigs, these monkeys, these scum gain a foothold in Iraq, it will be worse, far far worse for peace.
From Reuters/UK The article was ostensibly about US officials meeting with the Palestinian PM regarding Israel's pull-out from Gaza but they tucked this story in at the end: bq. In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, witnesses said 12 men, mostly known militants from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that make up part of President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, were arrested in the city's mental hospital during an Israeli raid. bq. The army said there were no casualties and that the militants had been meeting at the hospital to plan attacks against Israelis. bq. Commenting on the Bethlehem raid, an Israeli army officer said troops surrounded the hospital before dawn and called on the gunmen to surrender. "They opened fire from inside. We traded gunfire for about an hour," the officer said. Just like a terrorist group to use a hospital for meeting place and shield. As Jen said, these people want their own state? Give them one: PLASMA
There is an interesting timeline for 9-11 at Ann Coulter's column for Town Hall: bq. PRESIDENT CARTER, DEMOCRAT In 1979, President Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah of Iran to be deposed by a mob of Islamic fanatics. A few months later, Muslims stormed the U.S. Embassy in Iran and took American Embassy staff hostage. bq. Carter retaliated by canceling Iranian visas. He eventually ordered a disastrous and humiliating rescue attempt, crashing helicopters in the desert. bq. PRESIDENT REAGAN, REPUBLICAN The day of Reagan's inauguration, the hostages were released. bq. In 1982, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was bombed by Muslim extremists. bq. President Reagan sent U.S. Marines to Beirut. She takes it up to the present -- good refresher course on what exactly happened on who's watch.
From the Motley Fool website: bq. Ringing the bell at the opening of the New York Stock Exchange has been a Wall Street tradition for more than 80 years. CEOs, U.S. presidents, celebrities, and foreign dignitaries have all participated in this time-honored ceremony. Except this past Wednesday morning, it wasn't the opening bell that was heard. bq. It was the opening belch. bq. CEO Russ Cooper of Farmland Enterprise Associates Inc. was to ring the bell at the opening of trading on March 31. Instead, Cooper took the podium and, in front of hundreds of traders and a live CNBC audience, let out a loud belch. According to sources at Farmland, Cooper misunderstood the directions sent to him by fax. Heh... These things happen.
There is an interesting article in today's TechCentralStation from author Lee Harris whose new book has been criticized for not: bq. ...a few of them appear to be extremely annoyed that I did not criticize America for all the things that it has done wrong -- or, at least, for those enormities that are always sure to make the Top Ten list of anyone who has spent even a few hours in a college or junior college American history course. Why didn't I devote a chapter to the atrocities committed in the Philippines after the Spanish-American war -- one of the sentimental favorites of the any red-blooded Chomsky-ite? Lee goes on to say: bq. Now I am a firm believer in the usefulness of what Adam Smith called the division of labor. If you are going to make a simple pin, it is far better to divide the complex task of making this pin into a variety of even simpler tasks. This way each worker only needs to do one thing, and he quickly learns to do it very well, with the end result being an immense increase in the productivity of each of the individual workers. Whereas ten pin makers, each working on one pin, can produce 100 pins at the end of an hour, the division of labor multiplies this amount by many times -- and all because each worker sticks to doing what he knows best. bq. Seen in this light, can anyone doubt that Mr. Chomsky excels at telling what a menace America is to the world, or that Chalmers Johnson is a past master at lamenting America's loss of its pristine virtue? After all, simply look at how much practice these men have had sharpening their particular pins. How could a novice like me even hope to compete with them? Not to mention a worker like Michael Moore, always twisting his pin precisely the same way each time. Over and over again, these industrious and skilled workers perform exactly the same simple task -- no wonder they do it so well. And more: bq. But, this being so self-evidently the case, why on earth would anyone expect a humble drone such as me to try to compete with these masters of their craft? They have established a virtual Guild, and, like the Meistersingers of Wagner's opera, they are justifiably proud of their achievement. bq. At same time, there is a down side to all of this, and this too was pointed out by the same Adam Smith who first praised the division of labor. According to Smith, the unvarying performance of the same simple task over and over tends inevitably to create a kind of mental monotony approaching dullness even in the most skillful worker -- indeed, precisely in the most skillful worker. bq. Alas, I fear I have a long way to go before I reach this stage of perfection. And that is why I cannot complain about the obscure corner of the store in which my book was concealed. It is the price I must pay for being a mere amateur, and for being so inept at my one task that I am never quite sure that I have done it right, even after I have done it. Would you buy the pins of such an incompetent pin-maker? bq. Which allows me to address the question with which we began: Why didn't I spend time in my book criticizing America? Well, because there are people who are amply repaid for doing this very thing, and for doing it over and over and over, in exactly the same way each time. And who but a pinhead would try to compete with that? Heh... Hat tip to Michael J. Totten for the link.
From Slashdot comes this site: The Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness. This is a collection of 36 photos of strangly illustrated or badly worded documentations, safety signs, mechanical illustrations. Fun stuff!
From online retailer ThinkGeek comes this wonderful addition to any PC: bq. Now the computer savvy among us can relive the fun of having your very own personal mini-oven with the PC Ez-Bake oven! It fits in a 5 1/4" drive bay and plugs right into your power supply with the included Molex connector. Also included is "PC Ez-Cook", the open-source oven controller software with hundreds of easy and creative recipes for your PC Ez-Bake oven, and even a fuzzy-logic cooking control system to precisely measure the doneness of your cake, cookie, or cheese souffle. The PC Ez-Bake oven can even be used to cook your Pop Tarts, Bagel Bites, or any tiny or flat food. YUM! Accessories include: bq. 6 Mixes for your PC Ez-Bake oven: Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Cake, Peanut Butter Cookie, Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Caffeinated Meatloaf (comes dehydrated) bq. Special office friendly recipes including "Duck Sauce Packet Tart", "Vending Machine Casserole", and "Non-Dairy Creamer Creme Brulee"
Their website is going through some issues today - one of them landed in Jail yesterday. bq. John, as you all know, is an excellent caricaturist. Occasionally, for a little extra money, John works caricature gigs at conventions, parties, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. Last night John was drawing at a birthday party for a local college student. Her parents were throwing the bash at their home in a wealthy area of Atlanta called Buckhead. Swimming pool. Live band. Catering. Open bar. Normally the latter is not a problem. John is a seasoned professional. But, for reasons that remain sketchy, John decided to cut loose. bq. The problem apparently started (I got all this second-hand) when John drew a caricature of a Russian foreign-exchange student who was wearing a shirt that said "Bush Lied, People Died." Now, John has been working these gigs for decades. He knows how to read a subject, how far to push exaggerations like big noses and pot bellies, and how to play on-lookers for laughs. But, for some reason, perhaps the Scotch, John went for the throat. Even the band stopped playing when John screamed "TAH-DAH!" and presented a cartoon of Stalin wearing a t-shirt that said "Socialist Lie, Millions Die." bq. An argument ensued. Fingers pointed. Spit flew. Ink spilled. No one is sure who threw the first punch, but it turned nasty. John got a shiner, but he managed to draw a large mustache on one of his attackers. Read the whole sordid story at their website here