Yrs Sincerely...

Friday, March 31, 2006
Look: if I answered every prayer, I'd never get anything done. And if you got everything you asked for, that would mean you were in some other realm of existence, not Life. You're not an angel, and I'm not Santa Claus. The things you ask me for will sometimes be granted, but for "reasons," if you want to call them that, and within chains of causation, extending far beyond your ability to see or comprehend.
God

Do Not Forget Who We Are


The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Is this a great country ...

or what?

Congressman faces arrest for FIFTH assault on police officer

WXIA-TV of Atlanta is reporting that Congressman Cynthia McKinney (D - Ga.) is facing assault charges for hitting a Capitol Police officer in the chest earlier this week when he stopped her from entering the building without going through a metal detector.

McKinney said she was not wearing a lapel pin identifying her as a House member.

The Capitol Police officer said he stopped McKinney and asked her for identification Wednesday morning as she tried to enter a government building while talking on her cell phone.

UPI reports that this is the fifth time since 1993 that she has been involved in an altercation with Capitol security personnel.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "I would not make a big deal of this."

Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., responded: "How many officers would have to be punched before it becomes a big deal?"

-----
I wonder if she has a defense?

The U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 6 says, inter alia, that:

"They [Senators and Representatives] shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place."

-----
McKinney is, however, famous for other things:
Slate Magazine's Chris Suellentrop calls her "The rep who cries racism."
And in May, 2002, she claimed that President Bush had prior knowledge of the September 11th attacks.

Feingold's Follies


Terrorist's rights activist Russ Feingold participated in Senate hearings today concerning his proposed censure of the President for too actively seeking to learn the substance of communications between al Queada leadership and those to whom they wish to speak in the United States. The gist of Feingold's argument appears to be that al Queada deserves protection in its communications on the level afforded to communications between citizens of the United States within the United States.

Noted Constitutional scholar (although disbarred attorney) John Dean was called before the Senate Judiciary Committee to publicize his upcoming book "Republicans and Why I Hate Them" and to provide insight as to the depths of degradation to which a human being might sink.

On the House side, it is anticipated that John Conyers will call additional hearings concerning his burning desire to impeach the President due to the President having won the last election. Conyers has reserved House Janitor's Closet 212C for all of the month of April in order to provide a proper setting for the hearings. Conyers is best noted for... well, nothing, actually.

The outcome of today's hearings is expected to equal in puerility any of the futile gestures made by Feingold in his Senate career. Feingold's call for censure of the President does have some strong, if silent, support from Senators Jay Rockefeller and Dick Durbin, both of whom are desperately hoping to avoid censure by the Senate for disclosing classified information regarding the top secret NSA terrorist surveillance program.

The “pseudo-conservatives have no alternative policy”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board is right on the immigration matter:
“Never mind that even under the most liberal proposals now in Congress, current illegals would have to pay a fine, learn English, and wait upward of a decade to qualify for citizenship. And no matter that these pseudo-conservatives have no alternative policy, other than to arrest and deport millions in a way that would cause far more social and economic disruption than we have now.”

The world will never be entirely fair on this side of the grave. Talk show host Dennis Praeger perspicaciously points out that a secular society cannot merely focus on the morality of a particular issue. It must also deal with the practical aspects. Let’s get real: we cannot send an estimated 10-12 million illegals “back to where they came from.” Just do the math. This is not even faintly feasible. But didn’t most of our ancestors obey the law when they immigrated to this country? Why should today’s Hispanic lawbreakers be cut so much slack? It’s purely a matter of the numbers. We are not talking about mere thousands of people, but millions. I am therefore rationally compelled to support the overall proposals of John McCain and Ted Kennedy. Some sort of amnesty program is our only realistic option.

On the Return of History

Thursday, March 30, 2006
We could, if we wished, withdraw every soldier from every inch of soil that is not American territory and leave them here inside our borders rusting for a decade. War will still come because war is already upon us, and wars do not end in staged withdrawals, but in either defeat or victory. The lessons of Vietnam and the Cold War teach this to us if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

Is France on the verge of a race war? a religious war? a war of nations? a generational war?


From one of the most popular blogs among the conservative or patriot French, here are some photos that show how the internet may be at times an incendiary medium. But, in the long run, I think the web will do much more to defuse than encourage violence. Sites like france-echos will force the French not only to see and face their very real social and demographic problems, but also to articulate them for the very first time. And it this process of starting a new conversation, of renewing the sacred signs around which the community knows itself again, that entails the simultaneous expressionn and deferral of tensions. A wired France will become a new kind of France; everywhere the blogosphere takes root, it brings a new political paradigm with new solutions emerging from the more free and creative accounting of our problems. Real communications freedom entails not only a re-evaluation of who we are, but also a re-evaluation of the very nature of politics and religion.

For example, Tiberge has translated the following statement from a conservative patriot youth organization:
Communiqué of March 24, 2006

Support our comrades of the CNT!

Yesterday in Paris, during the anti-CPE demonstration, the marchers from the CNT (National Confederation of Labor) became the targets of thugs who swarmed in from the suburbs to rip the place apart.

Many anarchist-laborites/anarchist-communists/radical-anti-fascists/redskins/
punks/loners/filth were violently attacked. Several were hospitalized or treated, and it was only thanks to the presence of the police (some anarchists took refuge behind the police lines) that the toll wasn't higher.

Realizing that these attacks ought to finally bring home to the militants of the CNT the reality of an ethnic divide, in this country that they hardly know, we have decided to forget our past quarrels (friendly fist-fights, unfounded accusations, garbage being thrown at our participants) and to extend a fraternal European hand to the union anarchists.

Comrades of the CNT, join the ranks of the "identitaires"; in your fight against these thugs, you are not alone!
We'll wait and see if this attempt to redefine politics ccatches on.

For a deeper reflection on the theme of redefining politics in the internet age, see Prospero's latest unfolding of his generative anthropology:
The Left, I would propose, is that political movement hostile to the sacred center because it views the sacred center as the source of all violence. That the sacred center was a potential source of violence to those willing to consider other than sanctioned modes of sacrality was well known since, at least, the trial of Socrates; that it is the source of all significant modes of violence and hence victimization is the invention of the modern Left (which, in fact, has shielded itself behind the stance of the "dissident," persecuted for mere non-conformity), which emerged in the crucible of the French revolutionary fusing of the grievances of the dissident intellectuals with the exclusion of the masses from the presumptively inclusive emerging market society. The Left has essentially been parasitic on victimary grievances which have until recently been prevalent enough to make the left's claims to have a systemic alternative plausible--but the fact that the Left is now in the process of attaching itself to totalitarian Islam as the strongest anti-Western force available suggests that this plausibility has already worn very thin. So, I see no reason to assume that the Left is permanent. And with no Left, the Right disappears as well--the Right is, at least now and perhaps (this is my view) always, an artificial formation in the sense that it has always defended those and only those elements of the sacred center singled out for attack, denunciation and mockery by the Left. Of course, "conservative" and "liberal" still resist assimilation to left/right terms, and these categories might very well persist (not just as categories but as realities)

Flares official flag





"We never pay any-one Dane-geld, No matter how trifling the cost; For the end of that game is oppression and shame, And the nation that pays it is lost!" — Kipling




Crisper better?



As pointed out by Skookumchuck, this one is being flown by the US Navy in the ongoing war.

Old Glory Fights Back!

From the Amherst Times:

American flag: $25
Gasoline: $2
Cigarette Lighter: $2.50

Catching yourself on fire because you are a terrorist a__ hole: PRICELESS!

The Squid and the Whale et al.

Posted by Loner.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bernard: You're not a Philistine. You like books and interesting films.
Frank: No, I'm a Philistine.

The Squid and the Whale, screenplay by Noah Baumbach


These days I spend many an early morning half-listening to the director-cast-crew commentaries that are among the "Special Features" on a great many of the DVD releases of theatrical movies. What I mean by "half-listening" is that they've taken the place of religious programming (CBN), business programming (CNBC), and/or governmental programming (C-SPAN) that I put on in the morning while I read and do other things. Most include little or nothing of interest for even the most rabid movie fan, but you never know when something will be said that will answer a question that came to mind while viewing the movie presumably under discussion or that will lead one to an unseen, unnoticed or forgotten performance or shot in some other movie.

This morning I turned on the DVD player and prepared to half-listen to the director commentary that is part of the The Squid and the Whale DVD package. Noah Baumbach, the writer-director, decided not to do the standard commentary. Instead of talking over the movie for its duration, he talked about specific subjects, which were indexed for easy reference, while still photographs appeared on the screen. I'm not sure that I learned anything of much note, but it did significantly reduce the amount of time I spent listening to him and it was possible to go back easily to things I missed while I was engrossed by something on the internet. I think I prefer this approach, but I doubt it'll catch on.

Are there commentaries I more than half-listen to? Yes. I like almost all Criterion Collection commentaries because a lot of thought and work goes into them. Among the more traditional commentaries of note are the very entertaining Christopher Guest-Michael McKean-Harry Shearer takes on the movies they've made together (This Is Spinal Tap in particular), Paul Thomas Anderson's great storytelling commentaries for his movies (Boogie Nights in particular) and the wonderful Barry Sonnenfeld-Tommy Lee Jones commentary for Men In Black.

A couple of lists (and a correction):

2005 Favorites

1. Downfall
2. The Squid and the Whale
3. Kung Fu Hustle
4. Cinderella Man
5. Batman Begins
6. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
7. Brokeback Mountain
8. Grizzly Man
9. Good Night, and Good Luck.
10. Millions

Another ten (in alphabetical order): The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Head-On, A History of Violence, Howl's Moving Castle, Junebug, Mad Hot Ballroom, March of the Penguins, Nobody Knows and Walk the Line

2004 Favorites

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Hero
3. The Sea Inside
4. Bad Education
5. Million Dollar Baby
6. The Incredibles
7. Collateral
8. Spider-Man II
9. Osama
10. Sideways

Another ten (in alphabetical order): The Aviator, Before Sunset, Dogville, Finding Neverland, Garden State, Hotel Rwanda, House of Flying Daggers, In Good Company, The Motorcycle Diaries and Vera Drake

Back to back unexceptional years in which I did not give a single movie my highest rating. 2004 was the better of the two and my 2005 favorite, Downfall, would have finished fourth on the 2004 list had it been released a few weeks earlier or had the Academy Awards not been moved up a month the year before in an effort to increase their relevance.

The 2004 favorite ten includes the Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film for both 2003 (Osama) and 2004 (The Sea Inside). Downfall was a 2004 nominee in that category. The 2004 list also includes a 2002 nominee, Hero, which didn't get a theatrical release in the United States until the end of August in 2004, and Bad Education, which marked the third consecutive Pedro Amaldovar directorial effort to end up in one of my top tens. It might have been Spain's submission for Best Foreign Language Film of 2004 had it not been released in the same year as The Sea Inside.

The 2004 favorite twenty includes six foreign language movies (those previously named and House of Flying Daggers and The Motorcycle Diaries) and no documentaries. The 2005 twenty includes five foreign language movies (Downfall, Kung Fu Hustle, Head-On, Nobody Knows and the non-dubbed version of Howl's Moving Castle) and four documentaries (Grizzly Man, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Mad Hot Ballroom and March of the Penguins).

Fair warning: Graphic and/or gratuitous sex and violence of all sorts does not impair my enjoyment of a movie unless that's all there is, and sometimes not even then. Many of the movies on my list would make worst lists where many are concerned. Certainly almost all have their critics and my best advise to anyone considering taking a look at a movie for which I have some regard is to spend a little time reading the reviews and plot descriptions at imdb.com. Hopefully, all my links are correct. As to my political views, I suppose they might sometimes interfere with my ability to objectively evaluate the merits, or lack thereof, of a movie, but so what. They're movies and I'm a Philistine.

The correction: In my comment in response to MHA's Chicago review, I indicated that Cabaret is my second favorite '70s-release movie and that Star Wars is in the top ten. Cabaret is actually fourth and Star Wars is eleventh. All That Jazz is fifteenth.

Haiku

Japanese poem
of seventeen syllables
that ends with a plop!

First they came for...

Many thanks to Terrye for mentioning "first they came for" in a comment below.

Now, on to the task at hand which is exposing the Bush Administration for the Nazis they are!

First they came for the child pornographers and sexual predators
and I did not speak out
because I was not a child pornographer or sexual predator.


Then they came for the terrorists (you knew it was out there!)
and I did not speak out
because I was not a terrorist.


Then they came for the dictators
and I did not speak out
because I was not a dictator.


Then they came for traitors and seditionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a traitor or seditionist

Then they came for rogues in the intelligence community
and I did not speak out
because I was not a rogue in the intelligence community.

Then they came for me (Ok, so they're not here yet but you know its just a matter of time)
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Somebody is paying for these Mexican Flags

I am not an expert regarding the pricing of flags. The last one I purchased, a very small one, originally cost about about $7 at Home Depot. It is my reasonable guess that the Mexican flags and those of other nationalities seen at the recent immigration protest marches throughout the country likely cost the minimum of $25 to maybe a little over $100 each. Who is paying for these items? We can pretty well take it for granted that it is not the marchers themselves. This is especially true of the teenage students. Furthermore, why are they encouraging these protesters to do something so politically stupid? Pragmatically speaking, this is one of the most idiotic things that I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It is patently obvious: the marchers are being played for suckers by leftist organizers who intensely despise the United States. By all rights, the people in the streets should be enraged by such callous manipulation. Their own needs are obviously of secondary importance.

A Situation Calculated Wonderfully To Concentrate The Mind

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Let us imagine that you are Eric Lichtblau, a reporter of some renown for the New York Times, mentioned by name in a very long piece in Commentary, rather disconcertingly entitleed "Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?". Immediately after reading the article you do some research and find that TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 37 § 798 carries a sentence of ten years - and worse yet seems to fit your situation rather closely. Your mind drifts to some unsettling images and you begin having some difficulty in obtaining a good night's rest.

It would be reasonable under such circumstances for your work to suffer, let us be charitable, somewhat more than slightly. Your mind may be concentrated but you appear to have forgotten that it is the truth that sets one free. Another lie printed in The New York Times is unlikely to be of much help.

Ten years isn't a long time, Eric, and some very close relationships have flowered in prisons, so try and keep an open mind.

(ht PW where Jeff has his usual interesting take on the matter.

Appellate Court says McDermott owes Boehner $600k

As noted in today's OpinionJournal, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a $600,000 District Court judgment in favor of House Majority Leader John Boehner and against former Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee Jim McDermott for disclosing an illegally obtained cell phone conversation to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer in January, 1997. McDermott resigned from the Ethics Committee because of this matter.

The Supreme Court previously considered and remanded this case when it decided
a similar case involving 18 USC §2511 (Bartnicki v. Vopper).

You may recall McDermott from his "Baghdad Democrat" days, and that he had accepted a $5,000 campaign donation from one of Saddam Hussein's cronies, returning it only when the Weekly Standard published the disclosure. McDermott also invited Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to visit Seattle right before the WTO meeting in 1999. Frontpagemag.com has named him one of the Ten Most Dishonorable Americans.

And if you recall, President Bush considered Times reporter Adam Clymer to be "in the major leagues" or something like that.

Reforming Islam from a Muslim's point of view

The Anchoress has some interesting links today to several other sites, one of which is about Ali, a moderate Muslim.


I believe that ‘reforming Islam’ means: 1) making Muslims who live in non-Muslim and/or secular countries (America, England, the West), the ability to live harmoniously there, 2) making Muslims who live in predominantly Muslim countries which do not have democracies (Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria), the ability to agitate for change using moral, just, and humane methods, 3) making Muslim who are agitating for authonomy (Kurds/Palestine/Chechnya), the ability to use Islam as a liberation theology, not as a death theology, 4) making Muslims who live in theocracies (Iran, Saudi Arabia), redefine the Shariah under which they live in such a way that their laws comport with the current human rights norms of the world. Finally, there is 5) an independent element of reforming Islam: that is, to engage the world-wide community of Islamic Jurists and have them figure out why the theoretical Shariah ( i.e. the framework of the Shariah) has ossified in the 11th century.

check it out.

Quote of the Day

It does take a real buffoon to do a buffoon's job — good to see we're not lacking for them in the Senate.
— Rick Ballard


I don't care if it's from our own comments. I liked it.

Columbia Prof: "The left views patriotism as an embarrassment"

Speaking yesterday at that bastion of patriotism, Yale University, Columbia University Professor Todd Gitlin said:

"Patriotism is experienced by many people on the left as something of an embarrassment."

"However, it is strategically disastrous to take this position."

Gitlin said that this embarrassment harms their chances of getting elected in America.

His solution is to claim patriotism. He says if this is done, the left can mobilize and once again assume its place as a factor in the American political scene.

No mention of his love of this country, just a recommendation to take the politically expedient route and go for the power. Some patriot!

After all, those dead soldiers deserved it, right Gitlin?

Like a breath of fresh air

Big Lizards has some practical suggestions on immigration reform. I wish we could see more of this pragmatic approach in the blogosphere. However, I am hesitant to amend the Constitution concerning citizenship by birth.

"Bibi, we can't stand you..."

Senior Likud party officials are privately calling for the ouster of Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu as chairman of their party. This comes a day after a worse than expected showing - only 11 seats in the Knesset.

Netanyahu says he will stay on.

Wikipedia has a short biography of Netanyahu.


Ehud Olmert was elected prime minister of Israel yesterday.

Some fun with numbers

Since Alfred E. Einstone just announced that he has developed two key technologies which will solve the United States' illegal immigration problem without fuss or bother in a mere 72 hours (what, you didn't see the announcement - don't you get Yahoo headlines?), I thought it might be fun to play with some numbers.

But first it is only fair to mention the incredible inventions Dr. Einstone just announced.

The first is an incredible new fence building technology. Dr. Einstone's fence invention can build an impervious fence along the entire US border with Mexico in 72 hours using material sucked up from the ground on site - sand, trash, cactus, weeds, whatever. It cannot be climbed, cut through, or dug under. And it costs only $1M/mile. Congress expects to approve the funds by tonight, and the fence can be in place, complete, not later than midnight on Sunday.

The second invention is even more miraculous. Dr. Einstone invented an 100% infallible illegal immigrant detector and transporter. From a central location such as Hays, KS Dr. Einstone's machine can detect and transport (up to 12,000 miles!) as many as four million illegal immigrants per 24 hours at a cost of a mere $100 per illegal immigrant. The most obvious destination for transport is Mexico City. Congress expects to approve the funds by tonight and Dr. Einstone guaranteed that he could have as many as 12 million illegal immigrants detected and transported to Mexico City, complete and unharmed, by not later than midnight on Sunday.

Oh Happy Days! For a piddling $13.4B (1.4 for the fence, 12 for the detection and transport), the US can be free of this crushing problem forever. Gone and back where they belong. Alfred E. Einstone '08!

OK, back to fun with numbers. Using this USA Today article and grokking around for a few state populations, here's what we're looking at for our fresh start on Monday morning:

- 6.5% of the people in California gone. 36.8M people, 2.4M illegals
- 4.6% of the people in North Carolina gone. 8.45M people, 0.39M illegals

- 29 percent of agricultural workers and 29 percent of roofers

You want your cotton picked, your fruit basketted, or Katrina ravaged roof repaired, oh well, it'll have to wait.

There are some other numbers I have no idea how to have fun with. Like, what happens to the CA rental housing market when 2.4 million people disappear? It'll put a dent in the affordable housing problem, that's fersure.

I figure we'll have the abandoned cars towed away as soon as we find some tow truck drivers. I hope not too many folks actually needed those appliances they figured were being delivered next week. No doubt unemployed CA school teachers will make fine Gulf Coast roofers and Simi grape pickers. And heck, what with all the suddenly available rental properties going for a song it's not big deal if a few tens of thousands of folks have to wait another few months or so for their new homes to get framed out.

What a Shame!

British tabloid The Sun reports on former diva Whitney Houston's current status as a crack addict.

On January 27, 1991, during the Gulf War, Whitney Houston sang what for me was the greatest rendition ever of the Star Spangled Banner to start Super Bowl XXV (video here). Later released, it went platinum and was the only time the national anthem was a pop hit. ESPN lists her performance as #17 of 100 greatest Super Bowl moments.


And here's a picture of Whitney from better days:

One More Justice...

It is becoming clearer and clearer that Roberts and Alito were not enough to return the Supreme Court to normalcy from outrageous leftist activism.

And it is becoming apparent that Anthony Kennedy is replacing O'Connor as the swing Justice.

In today's NY Times account of the Hamdan oral arguments, Linda Greenhouse places Kennedy squarely in the Breyer-Ginsburg-Souter-Stevens camp in rejecting the Detainee Treatment Act.

Jupiter -- The View From Down Under


Ever wondered what Jupiter might look like if you could fly underneath it? I have. Cassini did it for us and this is the result.

Tuesday Tech Digest

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Google has not been sitting on its thumbs. You can use Google job search to find a new job in your area, Google Live Traffic Reports to see in realtime the traffic snarls in your city (only in Toronto so far), or a Google Maps-based census report on any area you want to investigate (check it out, Rick!).

On the physics front, it turns out that atomic nuclei--like electrons--exist at different quantum energy levels, and those levels have been linked to the Riemann Zeta Function, and hence to the distribution of prime integers. This is an immensely profound discovery. The most important outstanding problem in mathematics is the Riemann Hypothesis, which deals with the physical location in the plane of the zeroes of the Riemann function. Seems useless, but the applications are all over the board within mathematics. Now within physics as well.

In health news, the miracle sleep aid Ambien appears to cause people to do strange things in their sleep, such as eating buttered cigarettes, salt sandwiches, and raw bacon. Just say no.

If you're still running Windows, be very very careful. There are several new Internet Explorer exploits out, and you can just bet the Russian mafia is already employing these. Not to mention new versions of cracker tools which allow your Windows password to be captured in seconds, with 99.9% probability.

Very useful tip: you can now use your Knoppix CD or DVD to scan for Windows viruses. Just boot from the CD and you're good to go.

Finally, our human interest section, here's a man who used the well-known hacker tool Ethereal (packet sniffer) to discover his girlfriend was cheating on him. Who says technology isn't useful?

Update: Riemann Zeta Function link fixed.

A victory for the Center Left

That is what they are saying about the Israeli election. The voter turnout was 62.3%, the lowest ever for an Israeli election.

Physics News

With a smile for MHA:
A major physics lab in the U.S. has found a particle, far smaller than any atom, that switches itself back and forth between being a piece of matter and a piece of anti-matter 17 trillion times each second.
[...]
The work's significance? "This measurement has confirmed the Standard Model," says physicist Wendy Taylor of York University, one of the 700 who toiled on the experiment. The Standard Model is the basic theory that physics has used for 30-plus years to explain particle physics.

But, she adds, finding the B-sub-s doesn't go as far as many had hoped in explaining mysteries that still remain in physics, such as how things change between matter and anti-matter.

"We know there's physics beyond our current theory, and we're trying to find it," she says.

How, she's asked, should scientists tell the public all this?

Taylor, who holds a Canada Research Chair, sighs. "You would know that better than I do," she says. Maybe, she muses, if her team worked in cold fusion, an area ripe with juicy scandals.

Still she finds the meson results "very cool."

Here's her anti-matter lecture for non-scientists.

"We have an idea what matter is, right? Something you can hold in your hand and touch and so on.

"Anti-matter is very similar. It has mass. But it has the opposite properties of matter," in particular, an electrical charge opposite to that of its "real" matter counterpart.

"What's interesting is that there isn't much anti-matter out there. And if you watch Star Trek, you know that when a matter comes into contact with its own anti-matter particle, they annihilate, and the mass gets converted into energy by the E=mc2 formula."

And now, a particle switches back and forth, because it contains a quark (even smaller than a meson) that itself goes between matter to anti-matter. A very few other particles also do this, but this is by far the fastest.

"If it had been completely on total disagreement with the Standard Model, then of course that would be the most exciting thing," the York physicist says. "We know there's something out there. We want to find it. But we have to keep looking."

The Fermilab paper has not yet been published.

Sadr needs to go

I wonder if the Sunni are starting to regret the fact that they spent the first three years after the invasion aiding terrorists attacks on their neighbors. Now it seems the shoe is on the other foot and the Shia have taken off the gloves. This is good news for Sadr, sociopath that he is.

In recent days there has been reports of a massacre by American troops. Not so fast say the Americans.

Chiarelli stood by the U.S. account, disputed by Sadr aides and other Shi'ite leaders but which is broadly in line with police reports and some local witnesses who spoke of a fierce gun battle around the site.

He said an Iraqi special forces unit with about 25 U.S. advisers, trainers, medical and bomb disposal crew in support arrived to raid the site at nightfall and were immediately fired on from a number of buildings around the compound.

The troops "cleared the compound", he said, killing or capturing those inside. "It was Iraqi forces who did the fighting," he stressed. Thurman said U.S. helicopters were in the air at the time but only in support of another mission.

All the dead were killed by Iraqi fire, Chiarelli said.

Chiarelli identified the hostage as a dental technician and said: "He was shown a picture of his daughter and told if he didn't pay $20,000 he was going to be dead the next day."

Asked about the apparent surprise, not to say disapproval, of the operation in the ruling Shi'ite Alliance bloc, Chiarelli said: "It was coordinated through military channels. Not every operation we run is coordinated with every politician in Iraq."

Though he declined to be drawn on the possible involvement of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia, whose political leaders have led condemnation of the raid, Chiarelli said: "I think the backlash has been caused by the folks who set the scene up."

Both generals praised the unidentified Iraqi unit involved for its record of discipline and minimising the use of force. Chiarelli said: "They don't go in guns blazing."


I think it is time the Shia PM was replaced and the new government is formed. This has gone on long enough.

Blue Castle Under Siege


Judge Ivan Levelle has ruled that elections scheduled for April 22 in New Orleans are to proceed. The heads of the 'Racebaiters R Us' wing of the Democratic Party are having conniption fits over the probability that Ray 'Buses, what buses?' Nagin may get the boot he most assuredly deserves in the first step toward replacing the incompetents responsible for the total local and state level inability to follow their own disaster plan.

Without the votes of the Ninth Ward moat inhabitants, there is a very good chance that the lack of decent governance in New Orleans may begin to come to an end. There is certainly reason to doubt that the rent seekers upon whom the Democrats depend for electoral control in New Orleans (and every other Blue Castle) will ever return to the fetid Ninth Ward swamps in which they were allowed to be hunted like wounded wildebeast by the local jackals under the incurious eyes of the most corrupt police force in the United States. They have found that the green checks upon which they depend arrive more regularly in Houston than ever they did in New Orleans - and the weather is better too. Why should they return?

It's going to be an interesting election and a reasonable indication as to whether Blanco's miserable performance will receive its just reward at the ballot box when her turn comes.

Lyn Nofziger passes

Franklyn C. "Lyn" Nofziger, President Reagan's press secretary, passed away yesterday. A Californian, a World War II army veteran, and a former newspaperman, he also served in Reagan's governor's office, Richard Nixon's White House and at the Republican National Committee.

A quote from his website:

"I am a Republican because I believe that freedom is more important than government-provided security."

And here's an excerpt from his blog (June 17, 2005):

"I think the average decent human being instinctively rebels at the idea of torturing or physically degrading a fellow human.

That is why the pictures that came out of Abu Graib were so shocking and repellant and why allegations that third degree methods have been used on prisoners being held at Guantanamo have resulted in an outcry from the bleeding heart left. That is why, too, that the Geneva Convention specifies that prisoners of war must be treated humanely. And that is why it is hard to forget after all these years the brutal treatment of Americans held captive by the North Vietnamese.

And yet...

And yet when you come right down to it, this is a different kind of war the United States is fighting against a different kind of enemy, a merciless enemy for whom rules of civilized conduct do not apply. An enemy who kills and tortures and maims at will and with glee. An enemy who does not fight soldier to soldier on a battle field, but who kills women, children, innocent bystanders with equal abandon. An enemy with no conscience, no sense of right or wrong. And enemy who is not a soldier but an ununiformed terrorist who fights by no rules except his own.

And for the United States to attempt to fight and deal with this enemy by the rules of traditional 20th Century warfare is to fight with one arm tied firmly behind its back. The same can be said for treating terrorists we have captured as if they were the same as the German and Italian and Japanese prisoners of war of World War II. These guys have no name, rank or serial number; they are not soldiers or sailors or airmen, they are terrorists pure and simple, they have no aim except to kill and murder and maim those they hate, including Americans.

Turn them loose they’ll go back to killing Americans and others they deem enemies of Islam. They’ll go back to beheading captives just for fun.

These are not civilized people as we know the meaning of civilization. To them, decent treatment by the United States of captured terrorists is a sign of weakness.

Even members of the United States congress—house and senate, alike—should know this. Even members of congress and the news media should understand, also, that this is a war the United States cannot afford to lose. We could lose Vietnam because in losing we did not endanger our nation or our people. But unless we win the war on terror we open ourselves to the same kind of ongoing terrorist attacks we have seen in Iraq, Israel and many other parts of the world. Unless we win this war 9/11 was just the beginning.

And that is why we cannot fight an uncivilized, evil and merciless enemy the same way we have fought our previous wars. And if this means we have to take extraordinary steps to get information that will save American lives, if this means we must imprison captured terrorists indefinitely, then so be it.

There is much at stake here in terms of freedom and lives and a liveable world. And we will lose it all if our leaders knuckle under to the whining and complaining and the irrational demands of some people in the congress, and the news media and other public places who refuse to face reality."

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A great American, he will be sorely missed.

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UPDATE: NRO's Peter Robinson has an amusing anecdote involving the 1976 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

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(That reminds me ... I attended the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City where Gerald Ford received the nomination.

I was allowed in the New York delegation for their deliberations, where flinty Richard Rosenbaum was the NY State chairman. He was trying to railroad the vote to Ford when Brooklyn chairman George Clark rose to speak on behalf of Reagan. Rosenbaum had Clark forcibly removed from the room and gavelled a unanimous vote for Ford.

Ford was the incumbent president and the machine delivered the vote to him. But it was clear that Ronald Reagan was the future of the party. There was great respect for his unabashed conservatism even then.)

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card Resigns

The Washington Post is reporting that White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, Jr. announced his resignation this morning, effective April 14th. He will be replaced by Joshua B. Bolten who currently serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Card has been President Bush's Chief of Staff since the beginning of the president's first term in 2001 and has served longer than any person in that position since Sherman Adams under President Eisenhower.

Wikipedia has short biographies on Card and Bolten.

Speculation: Card is leaving to play a significant role in the presidential campaign of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

A Cultural War Has Been Declared on America

I personally witnessed a protest march, late yesterday afternoon in Houston, concerning the immigration bill being debated in Congress. Roughly one hundred Hispanic teenagers participated. I doubt if anyone was older than nineteen. They carried no less than six Mexican flags. A couple of them were very large. There were no American flags whatsoever. Not even one. Let us not continue to fool ourselves: a cultural war is being waged against the United States. These young people are giving us the proverbial middle finger. They have contempt for our institutions and values. The politically correct multiculturalists have successfully taught them to despise America. Remaining outsiders is obviously their central goal. Assimilation is not even slightly desired. This cannot be tolerated. The Republican Party may sometimes be wishy-washy on this issue---but the Democrats are an utter disaster. Some affluent Republicans like cheap labor. They have admittedly contributed to the problem. Only left-wing Democrats, however, have encouraged these illegal immigrants to so openly filth on the United States.

The MSM and the War

Monday, March 27, 2006
Now that the number of American deaths in Iraq are down we have moved onto the Civil War/attacks on mosques spin on the war. I am not saying that all is well in Iraq, in fact I am not sure it ever was, but the obvious attempt on the part of media to make it as bad as possible becomes more obvious everyday and sometimes I think the media feeds the violence. Dr. Sanity has some very interesting and funny cartoons which poke fun at the media about a not so funny attitude problem.

"An unforgivable insult to the Afghan people"

John Fund reports today that Malalai Joya, a 27 year old female member of the Afghan Parliament, spoke at Yale University last Thursday about Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the Yale Taliban:

"It is an unforgivable insult to the Afghan people that he is here. He should face a court of law rather than be at one of your finest universities."

Yale continues in its refusal to respond, even going so far as having the campus police order removal of questioners from the campus.

Meanwhile, Penraker points out that studying in America has little effect on hard-line Islamists.

And James Kirchick of the Yale Daily News says:

"Outrage over religious fascism ought to be the province of American liberals. But in Hashemi's case it has been almost entirely trumpeted by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and right-wing bloggers. A friend of mine recently remarked that part of his and his peers' nonchalance (and in some cases, support for) Hashemi has to do with the fact that the right has seized upon the issue. Our politics have become so polarized that many are willing to take positions based on the inverse of their opponents'. This abandonment of classical liberal values at the expense of political gamesmanship has consequences that reach far beyond Yale; it hurts our national discourse."

"... and fly it into the White House."

Zacarias Moussaoui testified in federal court today that he and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, were to hijack the fifth airplane on September 11, 2001 and fly it into the White House.

When asked by the prosecution if his refusal to tell the truth after his arrest reflected his refusal to give up his jihadist dream, Moussaoui said:

"You're not dead until you're dead."

I wonder if he thinks this testimony will help him to escape the death penalty?

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard, was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2001 and sent to Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Hamdan, through his attorneys, brought a habeas corpus petition in federal court.

The trial judge, James Robertson, issued a memorandum decision holding that Hamdan had enforceable rights under the Geneva Convention of 1949 and could not be tried by a military commission, that Hamdan had a right to view the evidence against him, and ordered him to be returned from solitary confinement to the general population of detainees.

James Robertson was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1994, and is a member of the “Magnificent Seven.” See additional background information on him here and here.

Robertson’s decision was reversed by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, holding that the Geneva Convention cannot be judicially enforced and that the military commission was properly authorized by Congress. The court reasoned that Hamdan does not fit the definition of "prisoner of war" because his group, al Qaeda, does not display a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance and the group does not conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

One of the judges on the Appellate Court panel was John Roberts, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Hamdan appealed to the Supreme Court and oral argument will be heard tomorrow. Because Roberts participated in the Appellate Court’s decision, he has recused himself from the Supreme Court case.

With Roberts out, a reasonable expectation of the outcome of the Supreme Court’s consideration is a 4-4 tie, with the leftist Stevens-Ginsburg-Souter-Breyer block voting to reverse the Court of Appeals. But the effect of a 4-4 tie is to uphold the Court of Appeals decision.

Faced with this likely defeat, the left is trying to get Justice Scalia to recuse himself for general remarks he made about alien detainees in Switzerland. Ed Whalen from Bench Memos on NRO concludes that no recusal is necessary. I concur.

Am I Too Gloomy Over Old Europe’s Future?

Clive Davis is more than mildly upset with two books that I’ve been reading recently. These highly recommended works are Claire Berlinski’s Menace in Europe : Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too and Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept : How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within:

“Bruce Bawer and Claire Berlinski both have thoughtful points to make about the way the old continent is heading, but much of their analysis is couched in bleakly apocalyptic rhetoric more suited to one of John Gibson's Frog-bashing pep talks on Fox News.”

“What worries me about books like this is that they risk reducing Europe to a caricature in much the same way as Stupid White Men turns America into one big Wal-Mart with drive-by shootings.”

The article.

I have never visited Europe even once in my life. At best, I can read some French and German. Do I possess a caricatured view of the Old Europeans? Am I even possibly some sort of bigot? Isn’t Clive Davis far more knowledgeable than myself? Who in hell do I think I am? Alas, I am convinced that I am right and Davis is living in a dream world. The man is too close to the situation and it has warped his judgment. What do I have going for me? Just the hard facts. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that the Old Europeans are not having enough children and socialist economic policies are destroying their economies. Clive Davis only offers an anecdotal counter argument. The hard data contradict him.

Brava, Clarice!

Clarice Feldman provides a lucid indictment of the prosecution in the Libby case. Some believe that the matter has been beaten to death and that reporting on it is a waste of energy. I believe that to be a mistaken assumption because lyin' Joe Wilson is now being paid to spread his myth on college campuses around the country.

The presse ancien was a willing accomplice (if not instigator) in the propagation of the myth that the existence or non-existence of WMD in Iraq was a 'knowable' fact prior to the Iraqi battle. The fact is, not even Saddam's inner circle knew with any certainty whether WMD were available for use as the Americans began the battle.

Clarice's argument regarding Fitzgerald's response to the TeamLibby Motion to Dismiss will be of interest to those who follow the logic of the law. Fitzgerald's attempt to resuscitate Morrison in order to refute Edmonds is an exercise in hand waving and misdirection of the first order.

I have a minor question for the Flares resident legal staff (or any outside attorney with an opinion) does the phrase in the Edmonds' opinion,
Generally speaking, "inferior officers" are officers whose work is directed and supervised at some level by others who were appointed by presidential nomination with the Senate's advice and consent.
rise to the level of dictum or is it simply interpretory in nature?

Credo

Sunday, March 26, 2006
Here are six core principles of a peaceful and prosperous society followed by almost all Americans in their private lives, regardless of politics. First, don’t initiate violence against peaceful others; second, don’t take other people’s stuff; third, tell the truth; fourth, keep your promises; fifth, act responsibly; sixth, respect every adult with the presumption that he or she is responsible and worthy.

And here’s a seventh principle, no less important than the others, but sadly rejected by too many people on the right, left, and middle: banding together with others into a majority coalition does not excuse violations of any of the first six principles. — Donald J. Boudreaux

Arnold Kling's Questions for Candidates

Do you believe that it is possible for America and its values to co-exist with a militant Islam as strong and as popular as it appears to be today?

If your answer is "yes," then:

  • Does that mean that you envision a world in which American values have a sphere of influence and Islamofascism has its sphere of influence, and we achieve a sort of detente?
  • What parts of the world are you prepared to see come under the Islamofascist sphere of influence?
  • Are you prepared to see the Islamofascist sphere armed with nuclear weapons?
  • How would you defend the American homeland if Islamofascists choose to attack?

If your answer is "no," then:

  • Do you believe that Islamic militancy can be reduced through appeasement, or does it have to be opposed militarily?
  • Who do you see as our key allies, and who do you see as our key adversaries?
  • What is your strategy for limiting the military capability, particularly access to weapons of mass destruction, of Islamic militants?
  • How important are American values in this conflict?
  • How would you go about promoting American values abroad?


See Kling's whole article at TCS. But more important: what are your answers?

The Race

Washington Post

Tribune

New York Times


This is a tough one to handicap because we don't actually know where the "bottom" is. It's obvious that the WaPo is hanging on a little bit better than the NYT or the Trib (LA Times) but for how long? When it cracks down will it take the same angle of descent as TRB did last week or will it bleed off more slowly?

I think I would put my money on NYT reaching bottom ahead of the others but I sure wouldn't want to bet on where bottom is - somewhere south of $20 I imagine. Unless someone looks closely at their pension fund liabilities and the portfolio assumptions that they are using to mask them. An 8.5% return is possible. Some years.

"Marriage is for white people"

From today's Washington Post:

"The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent."

"Farting Chair" leads to £1 million suit



To quote the plaintiff:

"It was a regular joke that my chair would make these farting sounds and I regularly had to apologise that it wasn’t me, it was my chair.”

And you think we have too many lawyers in the United States?

I wonder if the chair is for sale?

Yep, it is. And only £4.99!

Don't get drunk in a Texas bar

Reuters reports that Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

No Milk Moustache for Mrs. McCartney

Famous for marrying former Beatle Paul McCartney in 2002, Heather Mills McCartney, 38, is embarking on a crusade to eliminate milk from the British diet. Mrs. McCartney credits a dairy-free, vegan diet with helping her to overcome a post-operative infection following the amputation of a leg.

According to Wikipedia, in August 1993, she was hit by a police motorcycle while crossing the road; her injuries included crushed ribs, a punctured lung, a metal plate needing to be put in her pelvis and the amputation of her left leg below the knee. She has a prosthetic leg, and was noted for taking it off and showing it Larry King on his talk show in the US.


She also campaigns against land mines and fur.

"$10,000 a year, and nothing more"

Professor Charles Murray proposes "the Plan" to replace the current welfare state. Part of the justification:

"Throughout history until a few decades ago, the meaning of life for almost everyone was linked to the challenge of simple survival. Staying alive required being a contributing part of a community. Staying alive required forming a family and having children to care for you in your old age. The knowledge that sudden death could happen at any moment required attention to spiritual issues. Doing all those things provided deep satisfactions that went beyond survival.

"Life in an age of plenty and security requires none of those things. For the great majority of people living in advanced societies, it is easily possible to go through life accompanied by social companions and serial sex partners, having a good time, and dying in old age with no reason to think that one has done anything significant.

"If you believe that's all there is--that the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible--then it is reasonable to think that the purpose of government should be to enable people to do so with as little effort as possible. But if you agree with me that to live a human life can have transcendental meaning, then we need to think about how human existence acquires weight and consequence."

Gunsmoke

Via Gateway Pundit:


That, folks, is
Col. Gen. Vladimir Achalov and Col. Gen. Igor Maltsev, both former high-ranking officers involved in Soviet rapid-reaction and air defense forces are seen at an awards ceremony with Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed in early March 2003, less than 10 days before the start of the war.

I hope there are some extremely stern phone calls being made.

Case Dismissed

The case against Afghani Christian Abdul Rahman has been dismissed. I do not pray often, but I will admit I prayed for this man. And I still do.

This incident points out once again that democracy is a process not an event. Do we have the patience to stick with it? I think that remains to be seen.

It reminds me of the America Firsters

This sudden xenophobia that has gripped the right wing of the Republican party reminds of the America Firsters whose isolationism helped leave America unprepared for WW2. It is denial, and I do not mean a river in Egypt.

There are millions of immigrants in this country today. This is a fact. It is also a fact that we have an unemployment rate of about 4.8% and by some accounts these folks represent about 1 in 20 workers. The idea that all of these people can be rounded up and sent back over the border is ridiculous. We are talking about millions of people who have been allowed over the course of many years to come here to the United States. I think a guest worker program or something like it is needed. But then again without adequate border security such a program will not be fully utilized.

Most of all it seems that this gives the right wing of the party yet another reason to sabotage their president and with him their best chance of winning in 2006. Some people just can not get out of their own way.

I know this is not the kind of pandering people expect, but this is one moderate who is getting really tired of the chest pounding and not one more dime speeches from the Buchanan branch of the party.

It seems there are two bills and two approaches out there now, one thing we can be sure of the Democrats will exploit this the same way they exploited the Dubai nonsense. Hillary Clinton has already pointed out that the Republicans would have made a criminal of Jesus. Absurd I know, but effective.

Sometimes I hate politics.

The Bush administration is calling for a comprehensive bill that encompasses border security as well as some provision for temporary workers in the United States. A bill that addresses only border security, or a failure to win any bill at all, could represent yet another setback for the president. Many analysts believe that no bill is the most likely outcome.

"Given the president's approval rating these days, and with one-third of the Senate up for re-election this year, they are not going to follow the president off the cliff on this one," said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes what it
sees as amnesty.

"If the Senate does go ahead and pass something that looks like amnesty, they will never get this passed in the House," Mehlman said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who has presidential ambitions, has made it clear he will push a straight border-protection bill if senators can't agree on another plan. But Senate Democrats vow to oppose an enforcement-only bill, with Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., arguing that immigration has been haphazard for decades and that making criminals of millions of people serves no purpose.

Frist has pressured the Senate Judiciary Committee to produce a bill, saying that if they can't, he will take his own plan to a Senate vote the final week of March. Frist has prompted the divided committee to take another stab at an agreement when senators return from recess Monday.

Since Bush started a renewed push for immigration reform in January 2004, the former Tex
as governor, who has a firsthand understanding of border issues, has insisted that the United States should be able to match "willing workers" with "willing employers."

"We see millions of hardworking men and women condemned to fear and insecurity in a massive, undocumented economy," Bush said then, proposing a new legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants enabling them to work several years in the United States and then return home. He has insisted that this is not amnesty.

But Bush has invested little time in pushing an immigration bill, and he has not threatened to veto an enforcement-only bill.


Compromise is not a dirty word. And right now we could use some of it.

George Allen: the conservative alternative to John McCain?

The New York Times profiles Virginia Senator George Allen as the conservative alternative to John McCain for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

Allen, who is running for reelection to the Senate this year, is quoted on being a senator: "It's too slow for me."

In the latest published poll for the Republican nomination, Allen barely registers at 3%.

Howard Kurtz gives the game away

Saturday, March 25, 2006
... I think.
/When President Bush finished his news conference yesterday, most of the TV pundits were using words like "confident," "combative," "passionate" and, as Bob Schieffer put it, "George Bush sort of unleashed."

But some people I chatted with afterward thought it was painfully obvious that the president had done badly--even though he made about as strong as case for the war as he's ever made.



It's generally an interesting article, and I commend it to your attention, but let's just think for a moment ... who would be the people who Kurtz chatted with afterwards?

Given his employment at CNN and the Post, and his obvious interest in what other journalists are saying and doing, I'd guess --- and it's just a guess, but not a completely unreasonable one, I think --- that the people he chatted with are members of the Washington DC press.

If the folks Howard Kurtz talks with look at a presser that was pretty generally well-received, and see it as Bush having "done badly," whose perception should we question?

Saturday Mini-Review: Chicago



This thing was the Best Picture of 2002?? Give me a break. It's no wonder that Roger L. Simon believes the movies are going down the tubes. Not that it's not professionally done, not that it lacks a certain interest, not that it is entirely devoid of originality, but. My personal movie scale has four categories: Not Worth Watching, Worth Watching, Recommended, and Classic. To be Worth Watching the film must have at least some interesting redeeming features. For me that's a pretty low bar and most films manage to jump over it one way or another. To be Recommended it must be worthy of the attachment of my sacred honor and most films don't manage that. Classics are in a different category entirely--these are the movies that have somehow transcended the movie business and become an inherent part of the culture. That doesn't mean they're necessarily good or that they were necessarily enjoyable. Star Wars is a classic, for example, whatever one may think of it. For Chicago, I was debating in my own mind whether it was even Worth Watching. Probably, but just barely.

It's not terribly engaging, for one thing. Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Babe, and Richard Gere might appear to be an extremely unlikely trio, and appearances would not be deceiving. They all mix like oil and water but the format of this movie is such that it doesn't really matter. The movie has one really interesting new idea, to wit, intersperse the actual events occurring within the plot with a song-and-dance number which expresses what's really going on in what is, shall we say, a more honest fashion. This led to a couple of memorable scenes, such as Richard Gere literally tapdancing interspersed with Richard Gere trying hard to defend his client in court. I'm allergic to Richard Gere on general principles but he's ok in this rather gaudy role.

However, one idea repeated over and over quickly becomes boring. Sadly, the movie reaches the point where you wish it would end simply because you're bored. It's hard not to just walk out. I like the idea of musicals abstractly though I seldom like musicals concretely. It's nice that they're trying to revive the genre. But the plot is weak, the characters are not all that interesting, and the dialog has some spots that can only be characterized as...tepid. The actors did a good job singing and dancing, which I suppose is entertaining if that's your bag. It's one of those plays made into movies which still look like plays. I'm sure it's great for the Manhattan theater crowd; it just doesn't do much for the great unwashed masses like your humble author.

Baghdad Liars Club

Foreign Affairs has published a twelve page synopsis by the authors of a 230 page report entitled “Iraqi Perspectives Project” WARNING - 7MEG PDF.

The sources for the report are interviews with former Saddam apparatchiks as well as over half a million documents captured and translated. The synopsis is a very interesting read and I have a feeling that the report is going to prove to have enduring value to those who continue to support the necessity of removing Saddam.

The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.

That almost sounds like terrorism, doesn't it?
[Footnote #1] For many months after the fall of Baghdad, a number of senior Iraqi officials in coalition custody continued to believe it possible that Iraq still possessed a WMD capability hidden away somewhere (although they adamantly insisted that they had no direct knowledge of WMD programs). Coalition interviewers discovered that this belief was based on the fact that Iraq had possessed and used WMD in the past and might need them again; on the plausibility of secret, compartmentalized WMD programs existing given how the Iraqi regime worked; and on the fact that so many Western governments believed such programs existed.

What a clever man Saddam was.

Only A Religious Revival Can Save The Old Europeans

I am a theological modernists who perhaps hypocritically believes it best that most people are members of an organized religion. Yes, please do as I say---and not as I personally do. Such behavior is conducive to the raising of a family. More importantly, it is mandatory if one is trying to encourage couples to have large families. Modern, secular families, rightly or wrongly (I don’t wish to engage in a values debate) usually prefer one or two children. The Old Europeans are desperate. Their indigenous populations are rapidly declining. Will the younger couples of these countries have more children merely because it supposedly is a good idea? I doubt this very much. There is only one factor which could change their minds: a religious revival. Old Europe needs to be reconverted to its Catholic/ Protestant roots. Heck, I would settle even for a mass conversion to the Mormon Church. Can anyone offer a counter argument?

More Fun With Numbers

While I am sure that all regular readers of Flares' are intimately aware of the components of Multifactor Productivity there is always the possibility that somene may drop by and feel a need for additional information in order to assess its importance.

The BLS released a report on Thursday concerning multifactor productivity, the significance of which seems somehow to have escaped major media.



Increases in productivity are the means by which the "pie" grows larger. The fact that the rate of of increase from 2000 through 2004 (as measured in output per hour) was 50% greater than that recorded over the previous twelve years - which included the '90's boom - would seem to be a matter of more than passing interest. The additional fact that multifactor productivity was growing at a rate 33% higher than it did during the hottest years of the '90's boom (95-99) seems even more significant.

All that is missing is the dotcom bubble in the stock market.

When the media does wake up (should that occur) I somehow doubt that the headlines will read "Productivity Increases at Best Pace Ever Set". My bet is that "Fear" and "Unsustainable" will be the predominant words. The components matrix of the increase might lead one to an alternative conclusion.

Nature's Way?

Friday, March 24, 2006
The fellows at ClimateAudit bring up a conflict of which I had not heard. It seems that Nature magazine did an article comparing the reliability of Wikipedia with that of the Encyclopedia Britannica. ClimateAudit takes a look at Nature's methodology and their response to Britannica's complaint.

The 'Mann Response' seems to be spreading.

The WSJ has a report on the controversy.

Is Albright really Mondale in drag?



Madeleine Albright and Walter Mondale.

Has anyone ever seen the two of them together?

Domenech Resigns as WashPost Blogger for Plagiarism

RedState blog co-founder and former National Review Online writer Ben Domenech has resigned from the new conservative Washington Post blog "Red America" effective immediately.

The allegation is plagiarism and here are specific examples.

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting article (actually a book chapter) on plagiarism discussing the history of the concept and analyzing examples such as Senator Joseph Biden's 1988 campaign speech.

Meanwhile, there's a conservative blogging job open at the Washington Post.

Any nominees?

Trouble In The Housing Market?


If you read this AP Report you might think so. Especially if you pay attention to this paragraph:
The drop in new home sales followed news Thursday that sales of previously owned homes actually rose by a stronger-than-expected 5.2 percent last month following five straight monthly declines. Analysts said the trend in both reports pointed to a slowing housing market after five record-setting years.

If you stick with AP and check what they said yesterday you still have a little queasy feeling:
"This is one month's data in a volatile series and does not give the whole picture on housing," he said. "We may see this unwind in April when the March numbers are printed."

But if you engage in that mysterious practice known as 'simple mathematics' and subtract last years numbers from this years numbers for both series you find that the total number of new and previously owned homes which changed hands in February is 223,000 greater than last year - or an increase of 2.9%.

AP once again displays the gentle art of negative propaganda - an increase of 2.9% translates to a "slowing housing market". It's really just a matter of timing. The headline in 1996 would be "Overall Housing Market Growing At A Sustainable Pace".

Yale Says No to Afghan Women

From today's OpinionJournal.com:

"In 2002, Yale received a letter from Paula Nirschel, the founder of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women.

The purpose of the organization, begun in that year, was to match young women in post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges, where they could pursue a degree.

Ms. Nirschel asked Yale if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined."

Over 2000 schools were asked to join the program.



Schools participating in the
Initiative to Educate Afghan Women:

Duke University, N.C.
Juniata College, Pa.
Kennesaw State University, Ga.
Middlebury College, Vt.
Montclair State University, N.J.
Mount Holyoke College, Mass.
Roger Williams University, R.I.
Simmons College, Mass.
University of Montana, Missoula
University of Richmond, Va.

Polygamy: Bachelor Herd Problems

Thursday, March 23, 2006
From William Tucker's article entitled "Polygamy and Me" in today's American Spectator:

"Both high-status men and low-status women are liberated by polygamy. As the old saying has it, men "date down and marry up." With polygamy you can do both. Meanwhile, the losers are: 1) high-status women, who must share their mate with lower-status females, and 2) low-status men, who don't get to mate at all.

It's that last one that causes trouble. Every society and species that practices polygamy is plagued with a "bachelor herd" of unmated males who are very unhappy with their lot. Competition among males becomes much more violent because the stakes are so high. You either score with a couple of females or you don't mate at all. Male fruit flies artificially bred to be monogamous have proved to be much less aggressive with other males. Take away that monogamous contract and your peaceful society disappears with it."

"We don't factcheck stories if they fit our leftist ideology"



On March 8, the NY Times profiled Donna Fenton, identifying her as a 37-year-old victim of Hurricane Katrina who had fled Biloxi, Miss., and who was frustrated in efforts to get federal aid as she and her children remained as emergency residents of a hotel in Queens.

Yesterday, the New York police arrested Ms. Fenton, charging her with several counts of welfare fraud and grand larceny. Prosecutors in Brooklyn say she was not a Katrina victim, never lived in Biloxi and had improperly received thousands of dollars in government aid.

Today, the Times admits their error (but you have to scroll down to the very end to find it).

Editor & Publisher reports about it here: "For the second time in less than a week, The New York Times today admitted to a serious error in a story. On Saturday it said it had misidentified a man featured in the iconic "hooded inmate" photograph from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."


Rick Ballard reports on the system used by the New York Times in writing their stories here.

Steyn on the war about the war

Mark Steyn has a few choice words for the people who are still fighting the war against the war, including the moulting hawks:

"Your president has won," Jean Chretien told ABC News in early March 2003. So there was no need to have a big ol' war because, with 250,000 American and British troops on his borders, Saddam was "in a box." "He won," said Mr. Chretien of Bush. "He has created a situation where Saddam cannot do anything anymore. He has troops at the door and inspectors on the ground... You're winning it big."

That's easy for him to say, and committing other countries' armies to "contain" Iraq is easy for him to do. A quarter million soldiers cannot sit in the sands of Araby twiddling their thumbs indefinitely. "Containment" is not a strategy but the absence of strategy - and thug states understand it as such. In Saddam's case, he'd supposedly been "contained" since the first Gulf War in 1991, when Bush Sr. balked at finishing what he'd started. "Mr. President," Joe Biden, the Democrat Senator and beloved comic figure, condescendingly explained to Bush Jr. in 2002, "there is a reason your father stopped and did not go to Baghdad. The reason he stopped is he didn't want to be there for five years."

By my math, that means the Americans would have been out in spring of 1996. Instead, 12 years on, in the spring of 2003 the USAF and RAF were still policing the no-fly zone, ineffectually bombing Iraq every other week. And, in place of congratulations for their brilliant "containment" of Saddam, Washington was blamed for UN sanctions and systematically starving to death a million Iraqi kids - or two million, according to which "humanitarian" agency you believe. The few Iraqi moppets who weren't deceased suffered, according to the Nobel-winning playwright and thinker Harold Pinter, from missing genitals and/or rectums that leaked blood contaminated by depleted uranium from Anglo-American ordnance. Touring Iraq a few weeks after the war, I made a point of stopping in every hospital and enquiring about this pandemic of genital-less Iraqis: not a single doctor or nurse had heard about it. Whether or not BUSH LIED!! PEOPLE DIED!!!, it seems that THE ANTI-WAR CROWDS SQUEAK!!! BUT NO RECTUMS LEAK!!!!

Read it all, the man is brutal.

hat tip Hugh Hewitt .