Wednesday, September 26, 2007
My personal favorite:
The early Middle Ages (614-911 A.D.) never occurred. Everything that supposedly happened during those years was either a misunderstanding, an event from a different era, or an outright lie - Charlemagne, for instance, is a fictional figure. And we are actually living in the 1700s. (Herbert Illig's phantom time hypothesis)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Well, it's gotta be better than flying coach.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The New York Times now concedes that it charged MoveOn.org too little for its now famous anti-General Petraeus ad. MoveOn will pay more, to quell the controversy and moot, if it can, the issue raised with the Federal Election Commission by the American Conservative Union.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I can't seem to make the link to the story work so I've cut and pasted it below.
THE "JENA SIX:" Okay, the fact that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are involved doesn't prove that there's no actual injustice, but it was enough to make me email Radley Balko -- I've gotten a lot of email on the case, but most of it seems to assume that I already know what's going on. Radley's lengthy reply is below: click "read more" to read it. As always, it's constructive to ask how people would act if the races were reversed.
Unfortunately, I do think there's something to it. It's sort of a long story, but here's the gist as I understand it:
A black student moved into the area and, during an all-school event, asked the principal, in front of everyone, if he could sit under the "white tree." This was a huge tree outside the school where white students apparently would sit and read. It was long understood that black students weren't to sit there. The principle told the student that he of course could sit and read anywhere he likes. The next day, there were three nooses hanging from the tree.
Just for background, this is another part of the country where race, sadly, is still a pretty prominent part of everyday life. I was actually in Louisiana just an hour south of Jena earlier this year to research a story for Reason on the use of drug informants. There are places down there where entire towns are still segregated. The town I was in still has separate black and white Mardi Gras parades, swimming pools, and cemeteries.
In any case, the nooses set off some minor altercations in the school. The principal found those responsible and had them expelled. He was overruled by the school board, who cut the punishment to a three-day suspension. More altercations followed. Some time later, someone burned down the school's administration building. They still haven't figured out who did it.
Finally, the school called another all-school convocation. They brought in the local DA, who then threatened to press charges unless the in-school fights stopped. He took out his pen and said something to the effect of, "with a stroke of this pen, I can ruin your lives." He admits he said it. The black students say he was looking directly at the section where they were sitting when he said it. He says he said it to the entire student body.
There were several more fights, some of them pretty serious. What's got everyone upset is the racial disparity in the sentences. In one case, a white kid pulled a shotgun on three black kids. The black kids wrestled the gun from him, and took off. The black kids were charged with stealing the gun, the white kid wasn't charged. There were then several incidents of white kids beating up on black kids, and the white kids were brought up on minor charges.
The final fight took place in the school cafeteria. The victim was among some white kids who were taunting a group of black student-athletes, including one who had been beaten up several nights before. The black kids got angry, and jumped one of the white kids. Six black boys then beat the white boy. It was a fairly serious beating. The initial fall knocked him unconscious. But after treatment at a local hospital, he left on his own, and attended an event that night.
The prosecutor initially charged the six black kids with attempted murder. After some public backlash, he dropped them to felony assault with a deadly weapon (the weapons, as it turned out, were the students' shoes). As I understand it, none of the six had prior records. The first to be tried--Mychal Bell-- had his charges dropped to felony aggravated battery, but still received a 15-year sentence. An appellate judge just tossed that sentence out, ruling he shouldn't have been tried as an adult. The rest have yet to be tried.
This is a very loose outline of what happened, of course. I've followed the story, but I'm nowhere near an expert on it.
It looks pretty horrible all around.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Historically speaking, this is just about the worst thing you can do when you're in an inflationary price spiral. What they NEED to do is tighten up credit. All this is going to do is create a black market.
I have no comment.
At this point, I've pretty much given up on flying altogether. My on my last trip the United check-in personnel at LAX were so rude (to other customers) that I demanded their names so I could report them to their superiors. Their response? Flee the area until I had passed through security. I guess their reasoning was if I couldn't identify them, my complaint would go nowhere.
On the plus side the United folks at O'Hare couldn't have been nicer and I've never had a problem with the TSA (though I haven't flown internationally since 9/11 so maybe I haven't seen them at their worst). I realize that everybody has good days and bad ones and that it's not fair to judge an entire industry based on a handful of experiences. Still, dissatisfaction is cumulative and between lousy customer service, seats designed by Torquemada, and the endless nickel and dimeing of their customers, I've had enough.
The most essential fact is that Nifong's case was absolutely untenable from the beginning, and that the entire incident illustrates how political correctness has metastasized into unabashed and systematic racism. The sad, but unsurprising, conclusion is:
The only people who, it seems, have learned nothing from all this are Mr Nifong's enablers in the Duke faculty. Even after it was clear that the athletes were innocent, 87 faculty members published a letter categorically rejecting calls to recant their condemnation. And one professor, proving that some academics are as far beyond parody as they are beneath contempt, offered a course called “Hooking up at Duke” that purported to illustrate what the lacrosse scandals tell us about “power, difference and raced, classed, gendered and sexed normativity in the US.”
Having seen the video a couple of times, I've overcome my initial shock and come around to the view that this jerk deserved what he got. I am troubled though that it took so many cops to restrain him, to say nothing about needing to resort to a taser. Even more amazing is John Kerry's claim that he didn't know about the tasering until after the event. Is he serious? I mean how could you miss it?
I saw no violence in Baghdad, but I would never have taken off my body armor and helmet outside the wire. I certainly wouldn’t have done it casually without noticing it. If I had I would have been sternly upbraided for reckless behavior by every Soldier anywhere near me.
But in Ramadi the Marines are seriously considering dropping the helmet and body armor requirements because the low level of danger makes the gear no longer worth it. Protective gear doesn’t look intimidating, exactly, but it is hard to socialize properly with Iraqis while wearing it. It creates a feeling of distrust and distance.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
No doubt all those pundits who didn't bother to even read the paragraph in question before they bashed the President, will be apologising any day now.
The willingness of Iran and other Islamic countries, as well as Gaza, the West Bank, etc., to absolutely destroy their children’s economic well being and futures in breathtaking. That the authorities do this without shame or guilt is eloquent testimony to the demented nature of the puritanical Islamic supremacist ideology that they preach. And yet the West takes no note of this massive inter-generational child abuse.
Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."
Chambers also says God has caused "fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes."
He's seeking a permanent injunction against God.
If memory serves this has been tried before.
This is my favorite part:
We note that the plaintiff has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshal for directions asto service of process.
“Members of the faculty expect Duke students to meet high standards of performance and behavior. It is only appropriate, therefore, that the faculty adheres to comparably high standards in dealing with students . . . Students are fellow members of the university community, deserving of respect and consideration in their dealings with the faculty.”
Monday, September 17, 2007
Nancy Rapoport was the dean of the University of Nebraska, College of Law when I was there. She's a great lady and one hell of a dancer.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The Left has historically co-opted science to benefit its political causes. Margaret Mead is a classic example, gaining enormous attention to promote the "Free Love" movement. Her methodology has come to be deeply suspect. We've had Alfred Kinsey. We've had Darwin as a justification for Eugenics and Nazism (Darwin`s son was president of the Eugenics Society).
We've also had numerous dubious environmental scares; Dioxin, Alar, DDT, etc. We've had the Nuclear Winter Theory, used to justify the nuclear freeze movement. We now have Anthropogenic Global Warming. In each of these examples the Left has either subverted, or outright manipulated, science for their purposes. This is no different.
"OK, so there was no WMD. The war was run badly by Bush and Rumsfeld. But now the professionals are running it and we're starting to win. Let us finish the job. You don't like them, but you respect us. Don't let us down, like you did in Vietnam."
Friday, September 14, 2007
Am I the only one who gets nervous when Germans start marching in parades? I wonder what the Vegas line on their invading Poland is?
"Climate change" is humankind's "fear du jour." I hate to break it to you, but the end of the world has been imminent for centuries. In 234 A.D., the renowned Roman theologian Hippolytus boldly calculated that the world had just 200 years left. From 1012-1014 a series of natural disasters in Germany led many to believe the world was "returning to its original chaos."
By 1850, American pundits were predicting that the country would soon go dark as it ran out of whale oil (instead, in 1859, a railroad conductor struck oil in Pennsylvania). In 1968, Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich predicted, in his bestselling book "The Population Bomb," that "in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death," that nothing could be done to avoid mass famine greater than any in history, and that radical action was needed to limit overpopulation (instead, without implementing any of Ehrlich's suggestions, world food production grew at an exponentially higher rate than the population).
Freedom of conscience is perhaps the most basic human right. It is the acid test of a civil society. As we speak, Europe is failing the test.
[N]owhere is the arrogance of modernity better manifested than in the universities, where the straightforward words of history’s primary sources are increasingly brushed aside. The implicit understanding is that the writers of the New Testament and Islam’s vast compendium of scriptures were naïve and superstitious simpletons who — unlike their more “objective” modern day counterparts — simply could not critically engage their subjects.
We all want progress. We may disagree whether gay marriage or drug legalization constitutes progress or not. But we all want better things for the world -- better food, better health and well-being, scientific and technical advances, wiser political systems, more peace and freedom, more happy children, more humane treatment of animals, more tolerance, more prosperity for the world, you name it. That's called being a decent person.
So what kind of person has to label himself "Progressive?" Obviously somebody who believes he (or she) understands real progress better than the rest of us.
Our situation today is almost mind boggling in its perversity. A peaceful society — with a peace that came at the expense of millions of dead — that wishes only to be left alone, has had an alien culture undemocratically inflicted upon us and an alien culture that is unrepentantly vociferous in its call for our overthrow.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
[F]ew doctors know that historians think medicine has played at best a minor role in our increased lifespans over the centuries. And only a few health policy experts now know about the dozens of studies of the aggregate health effects of medicine. Worse, these studies can seem muddled, with some showing positive, some showing negative, and some showing neutral effects of medicine on health.
Interesting, I've argued along similar lines for some time. Nice to know I'm not the only one.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
As Glenn Reynolds says, "I'll start acting like this is a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
When I was a kid there was this great radio show hosted by Chuck Schaden. He played old time radio shows (with the commercials) and I was introduced to Jack Benny, Dragnet, Baby Snooks, The Life of Riley, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and so many others.
To my amazement, Chuck is still at it. Follow the link and you can listen over the Internet.
"People of America: the world is following your news in regards to your invasion of Iraq, for people have recently come to know that, after several years of tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there."
Is it me or does he sound just like the folks over at DailyKos?
My approach when dealing with "homeless vet" panhandlers is to ask specific questions which civilians are unlikely to know the answer to (ie. "what is a DD-214" or "what was your M.O.S.?") but would be easy for a veteran. If they can answer correctly I tend to give them something, if not they're liars. Of course answering correctly proves nothing, but it allows me to feel like I'm helping a veteran.
Actually I tend to be pretty generous with the homeless. When I was a teenager I saw an interview with C. Everett Koop who Surgeon General at the time. Somebody asked him if a beggar asked him for money to buy a drink, would he give it? To the surprise of the audience, he said that he would. Koop, a prominent Reagan era conservative reminded the audience that the pain and suffering of addiction was very real. To him, if someone could endure the shame of begging a stranger for alcohol, he probably needed it. That's not to say he wouldn't try to help the man fight his addiction if he was willing, but ultimately the issue of the moment was helping him get through the day, not feeling good about yourself because you refused to be an enabler.
It may be counterintuitive but in my gut I think Koop was right.
I've got to say that some of the decisions that went into making this list are a little bizarre. In particular a cannot fathom putting the Lotus Elite on the list. It won at Le Mans six times! Are they high? Ok, so it had some faults as a production car...did I mention it won at Le Mans six times?
The rationale for placing the Ford Model T on the list is even worse. Basically they blame it for allowing ordinary Americans the privilege of owning cars. I guess it's ok for rich folks to tool around in a Rolls Royce but god forbid the proles be allowed to do so. Every now and then I forget why I stopped reading TIME, then I read an issue and I remember.
Amazingly, none of the cars I've owned are on the list.
Friday, September 07, 2007
[t]he poor could work off their debts. All over Greenwich I see lawns to be mowed, houses to be painted, sports cars to be tuned up...Transporting entire neighborhoods of poor people to upper Manhattan and lower Connecticut might seem impractical. It's not: Mexico does this sort of thing routinely.
Hard to say really, but as Cecil points out the extent of the decline is likely to be smaller than claimed.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
South Korea’s allies were quick to criticize Seoul’s negotiations with terrorists, and many of them voiced concerns that rewarding terrorists for their actions would only lead to more terrorism. The Taliban agreed.
Some adult language.
What is it about the Clintons and the communist Chinese?
It turns out there really was no break-in and it turns out this is just a poorly conceived attempt to generate buzz about a more than decade old sex scandal.
Not that the Clintons are above this sort of thing, they're just not that stupid.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
It's always better when then government fears the wrath of the people than the other way round.
I think this story is profoundly shocking. The idea of taking away a child (as yet unborn) from a mother for crimes she might commit in the future runs against a tradition of common law dating back hundreds of years before the discovery of America. Can Britain have really fallen this far?
Read the comments too:
According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks.
We tend to forget the treat posed by China these days. We spend all of our time talking about wars or potential wars with (or in) Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Pakistan (at least if you're Barack Obama), along with the latest Russian sabre rattling. China, if it comes up at all, is the butt of jokes about defective products and poisoned exports.
The hard truth is that China is a powerful, aggressive state that has a long history of attacking it's neighbors.
A quick recap of China's military adventures since the revolution (1949):
1950 China invades Tibet. China has a longstanding claim to ownership of Tibet but had lacked the ability to assert their claims until the revolution. Casualties unknown, however active violent resistance to the occupation by Tibetans continued until at least 1969. Most sources say tens of thousands dead.
1950 China enters Korean War. In an attempt to forestall the collapse of their client state North Korea, China attacks U.N. forces. Casualties by Nation:
South Korea 58,127 killed, 175, 743 wounded, 80,000 MIA or POW.
United States 36,516 dead (including 10,395 non-combat), 92,134 wounded, 15,421 MIA/POW
United Kingdom 1,109 dead, 2,674 wounded, 1,060 MIA or POW
Turkey 721 dead, 2,111 wounded, 168 MIA, 216 POW
France 300 KIA or MIA
Numerous other nations contributed to the allied cause in Korea(particularly Canada and Australia). Unfortunately I don't have casualty figures for anyone else. In no way am I intending to gloss over the sacrifices made by these other nations. If anyone has figures I'll be happy to post them.
More than 474,000
North Korea 215,000 dead, 303,000 wounded, 120,000 MIA or POW
China 400,000+ dead, 486,000 wounded, 21,000 POW
Soviet Union 315 dead, 500+ wounded (mostly pilots and advisers)
1962 China invades India's North Eastern Frontier. The initial cause of the conflict was a disputed region of the Himalayan border in Arunachal Pradesh. Casualty estimates vary, between 1500 and 3000 dead on each side.
1969 Fought minor skirmishes with Soviet Union. Essentially because Chinese leadership determines Russian leadership "not communist enough". Estimates vary, between 100 and 1000 dead on each side.
1979 Attacked Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Launched in response to Vietnamese efforts to depose Pol Pot and end the "killing Fields". Roughly 20,000 dead on each side.
1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Peoples Liberation Army attacks...the people for having the unmitigated gall to demand democracy. Casualties: perhaps as high as 3000.
I'm sure there are other examples. These are just off the top of my head. All figures from Wikipedia.
Additional U.N. numbers from Korea.
Australia 339 KIA 1,061 WIA
Belgium 97 KIA 355 WIA
Canada 516 KIA 1,558 WIA
Colombia 146 KIA 448 WIA 69 MIA
Ethiopia 122 KIA 566 WIA
Greece 194 KIA 459 WIA
Luxembourg 7 KIA 21 WIA
Netherlands 116 KIA 381 WIA
New Zealand 31 KIA 78 WIA
Philippines 92 KIA 356 WIA
South Africa 20 KIA 16 WIA
Thailand 136 KIA 469 WIA
Sweden, Denmark, India, Italy and Norway all sent medical personnel. As far as I can tell, none of them had any casualties.
Well, labor day has come and gone largely without incident (unless you're Steve Fossett). For those of you outside the States, Labor Day is the rough equivalent of May Day. It was intended to honor the achievements and sacrifices of trade unionists. It quickly however became a middle class holiday built around backyard cook outs, swimming pools and a fair amount of drunkenness. Surely this is not what Samuel Gompers had in mind. I suppose it suggests some of the differences between Europe and the United States. I'll leave that for another post.
Click Photo to enlarge.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
I grew up in Chicago and the beaches on Lake Michigan are one of my fondest memories. I realize that the lake is probably cleaner today than it was then, but it strikes me as insane to massively increase pollution in the lake for eighty new jobs.
I've had an intense dislike for BP since they destroyed Amoco a few years back. Now I positively hate them.
Not safe for work-Language