Thursday, August 31, 2006

In which World War 2 army you should have fought?

You scored as British and the Commonwealth. Your army is the British and the Commonwealth (Canada, ANZAC, India). You want to serve under good generals and use good equipment in defense of the western form of life.

United States


British and the Commonwealth






France, Free French and the Resistance




Soviet Union






In which World War 2 army you should have fought?
created with

I like it. I scored better than some folks, who shall remain unnamed, who scored significant percentages for the USSR, Italy, Germany, and Japan.

h/t : Normblog

The Claremont Institute: The Remedy

The Claremont Institute: The Remedy: "At the foundation of the U.N.'s understanding of law is an idea that is irreconcilable with the natural rights foundation of the U.S. Hence the U.N. does not grasp the necessity of a natural right to self-defense, a right of inestimable importance to us, and formidable only to those who would be tyrants."

Cut him some slack

Jonah Goldberg :

LORD KNOWS I have my problems with President Bush. He taps the federal coffers like a monkey smacking the bar for another cocaine pellet in an addiction study. Some of his sentences give me the same sensation as falling backward in one of those "trust" exercises, in which you just have to hope things work out. Yes, the Iraq invasion has gone badly, and to deny this is to suggest that Bush meant for things to turn out this way, which is even crueler than saying he failed to get it right.

But you know what? It's time to cut the guy some slack.

Of course, I will get hippo-choking amounts of e-mail from Bush-haters telling me that all I ever do is cut Bush slack. But these folks grade on the curve. By their standards, anything short of demanding that a live, half-starved badger be sewn into his belly flunks.

Besides, the Bush-bashers have lost credibility. The most delicious example came this week when it was finally revealed that Colin Powell's oak-necked major-domo Richard Armitage — and not some star chamber neocon — "outed" Valerie Plame, the spousal prop of Washington's biggest ham, Joe Wilson. Now it turns out that instead of "Bush blows CIA agent's cover to silence a brave dissenter" — as Wilson practices saying into the mirror every morning — the story is, "One Bush enemy inadvertently taken out by another's friendly fire."

And then there's Hurricane Katrina. Yes, the federal government could have responded better. And of course there were real tragedies involved in that disaster. But you know what? Bad stuff happens during disasters, which is why we don't call them tickle-parties.

The anti-Bush chorus, including enormous segments of the mainstream media, see Katrina as nothing more than a good stick for beating on piñata Bush's "competence." The hypocrisy is astounding because the media did such an abysmal job covering the reality of New Orleans (contrary to their reports, there were no bands of rapists, no disproportionate deaths of poor blacks, nothing close to 10,000 dead, etc.). It seems indisputable that Katrina highlighted the tragedy of New Orleans rather than create it. Long before Katrina, New Orleans was a dysfunctional city in a state with famously corrupt and incompetent leadership, many of whose residents think that it is the job of the federal government to make everyone whole.

The Mississippi coast was hit harder by Katrina than New Orleans was. And although New Orleans' levee failure was a unique problem — one the local leadership ignored for decades — the devastation in Mississippi was in many respects more severe. And you know what? Mississippi has the same federal government as Louisiana, and reconstruction there is going gangbusters while, after more than $120 billion in federal spending, New Orleans remains a basket case. Here's a wacky idea: Maybe it's not all Bush's fault.

It is worth reading it all.

Don't get Carter. He won't do - Comment - Times Online

Don't get Carter. He won't do - Comment - Times Online: "The current Iranian regime menaces Israel and has lied to the EU about its nuclear programme. It must not interpret Khatami's visit as proof of the value of bellicosity. Khatami must get the message that the West will be receptive to concessions, but will face down belligerence. There lies the problem: Khatami's host in the US is Jimmy Carter.

Carter's poor reputation as president reflects a record not so much of incompetence as paralysis. He led his Administration mainly in the sense that its internal disagreements faithfully reflected his own philosophical chaos and administrative ineptitude. In domestic policy Carter zigzagged left and right, baffling equally the environmental activists he patronised and the churchgoers whose social values he claimed to share. His proposed system of federal energy controls failed comprehensively. In 1980 he acknowledged that inflation was near a "crisis stage".

He proclaimed human rights while lauding the Shah of Iran's repressive regime. When the Shah's revolutionary successors held 52 American diplomats hostage for 14 months, Ayatollah Khomeini accurately sneered: "Neither does Carter have the guts for military action, nor would anyone listen to him."

Have they jumped the Shark?

I mean the Bush haters. The know it alls, the lefties, the arm chair generals, and the socialists and most of all of course, the reality based community. From The Anchoress a post on a new movie about.......Assasinating George Bush. How daring. What a tasty dish of hate.

And when they eat it, it will destroy them. This meal will taste delicious in the mouth, and it will go down easier than a California mudslide, but after a while - not immediately, but after a while - they will realize they’ve poisoned themselves, willingly, lasciviously, voraciously, luxuriously. Bloated and gaseous they’ll look for an antidote, but there is no antidote to this much hate, except full-scale surrender, contrition and conversion - not necessarily to a religious idea, but to a more humbled mindset, one willing to be taught to love…and these poor folks will probably be too weakened and too ill to manage all that.

This much hate backfires on the hater. You’d think they’d know it by now, but they don’t, of course. They always overplay their hand. They can be counted on to do it.

I feel kind of sorry for the people who - undoubtedly - are multiple-orgasming over this story today. You know what sites to visit to find them, if you must seek them out. I feel sorry for them because this is all they are, loyal subjects enthralled to a Kingship of Hate, which is an evil and a real oppressor, although they don’t think they’re oppressed - well, except by that evil moron, Bush, who is keeping them from living freely or speaking out while they sip their lattes.

Just as prayer is a force, and love is a force, hate is a force, too. It has power, horrible, destructive power. And the worst part about the power of hate is that it is so often invisible - it cannot be seen - its effects cannot be seen until much later. Its effects are not immediately clear, as with a hurricane, or even “eventually” clear, as with a child loved into being. The effects of hate prefer to remain hidden - they hate to be brought out into the light and examined. Hate’s hiding place, of course, is deep within the human heart and soul. It slumbers there, eats there, plays there, sends forth destruction from that comfortable and well-camouflaged bunker.

I used to think that John Paul II was the man toward whom more hate and more love were directed, in the world, than any other, and that the hate and love balanced each other out, in a way. Now, of course, President Bush is the most hated man in the world, without the balance of corresponding love. What an awful life for him - what a terrible burden to carry - how many of us would be willing to endure it?

And if hate is a force - an “energy,” if you like - then what is going to happen to all of that hate when President Bush is no longer in office? Where will all of that force go? It must go somewhere. If it does not go outward, it will go inward.

I know many in the blogosphere, on the left are thrilled with this “docudrama” idea. And many on the right are appalled and enraged. I personally think that this idea is “too-cute by half,” and that aside from feeding those who so hunger for it, it is going to repel the res
t, especially those who do not “love” the president, but who do not “hate” him, either.

The film will have its apologists in the media, of course, people who will harrumph and sneer at the rubes of the world who don’t recognise how daring and sophisticated it all is. And no doubt, some wild-eyed rightwing person will be brought on the air, somewhere, to hyperventilate over the piece and quote scripture, for the edification and amusement of the sophisticates.

But for the rest of the world, the folks who are not mad from ideological overdosing, I think The Bush-haters and their Derangement Syndrome may have just jumped the shark.

Read it all.

Environmentalist Whacko!

Instapundit points to How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change the World? One. And You're Looking At It. Changing the world is, to say the least, a bit of hyperventilation. This does, however, represent a very simple and painless way to save some money by consuming less electricity and if done on a large scale can surely matter in some measurable way. Over the past few months I have replaced the 12 most frequently "on" bulbs in my home with these.

I have only 3 complaints and they are minor.

One, of course, is that the purchase price of these bulbs is very high compared with ordinary bulbs - but the cost is $3 - $4 per bulb so it is not out of reach for anyone to replace some as needed. If the savings claims are inflated only double, however, that is money recouped in both electricity bills and longevity. I haven't tracked the electrical consumption but I presume the claims must have some basis in fact.

Longevity remains to be seen but the only other flourescent bulbs I have in my house have lifetimes that are downright astonishing. About eight or more years ago I had installed a ceiling fixture that used some funky looking U-shaped flourescent bulbs. They finally went bye-bye and when I went to replace them I could no longer remember how to extract them. That was a pain in the arse since I wound up tearing the bubs apart figuring out how to extract them. That is obviously not an issue with the bulbs that screw in like any other bulb and will be a benefit with a couple of the fixtures I chose since they are decorative and make changing bulbs a bit of a chore.

My second complaint, and the biggest, is that these bulbs are still slow to reach their maximum output. They take a few moments to "spin up" when you flip the switch. It isn't very long and one becomes accustomed to it but you can flip the switch and be in bed before the light is on.

My final complaint is that these are not yet (or at least I haven't found them) available in 40 watt variety. Sixty watt is the lowest I've found. In multibulb fixtures (kitchen for example) I prefer using 40 watt bulbs. Three forty watt bulbs is perfect, three sixties is too much light. Once I find some 40's I'll move the 60's out of those fixtures and replace some other bulbs. This also means I can't quite get the maximum savings since I'm still burning a watt or three more than I need and prefer.

It is a small thing but well worth the initial cost and minor irritatation of slow startup.

I have a question

Bush is going to be making some speeches on Iraq. That got Gale and me talking. He said that he thought Bush was being way too nice not only in Iraq, but with some of the other crazies in the world. He asked me if I thought that the people who did the news and made policy etc had any idea what the average guy in the boonies was saying and I said "Probably not." Gale has always supported Bush [as much as he can support any politician] because he felt he was more genuine than the other guys. I wonder how much of Bush's fall in support on Iraq is not from the left, but the right, from guys like Gale who want him to kick some ass and get it done.

I think maybe the Democrats read the polls and their answer is Ned Lamont when in fact it should be Harry Truman. But then again, the country abandoned Harry Truman.

So my question is given the choice of staying in Iraq and winning or just running away, which would most Americans choose?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mark Steyn on Debunking 9/11 Myths

Mark Steyn does a very entertaining review on Debunking 9/11 Myths . It left me wondering how people can be so crazy as to believe that Bush and Cheney could or would do this. Can you imagine how frustrating this must be for AlQaida, they threaten death and mayhem, issue fatwas and all they get from the loons is a condescending pat on the head.

Who is A. K. Dewdney? He's an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Western Ontario, and he has pieced together the truth about what happened on 9/11. You may be familiar with the official version: "To account for the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush White House has produced a scenario involving Arab hijackers flying large aircraft into American landmarks," writes the eminent Ontario academic. "We, like millions of other 9/11 skeptics, have found this explanation to be inconsistent with the facts of the matter."

Instead, he argues, a mid-air plane switch took place on three of the jets. "The passengers of one of the flights died in an aerial explosion over Shanksville, Pa.," he writes, "and the remaining passengers (and aircraft) were disposed of in the Atlantic Ocean." Most of us swallowed "the Bush-Cheney scenario" because we were unaware that, when two planes are less than half a kilometre apart, they appear as a single blip on the radar screen. Thus, the covert switch. Instead of crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the flights were diverted by FBI agents on board to Harrisburg, Pa., where the passengers from all three planes were herded onto UA Flight 175 and flown on to Cleveland Hopkins and their deaths. By then, unmanned Predator drones had been substituted for the passenger jets and directed into their high-profile targets. The original planes and their passengers were finished off over the Atlantic.

But what about all those phone calls, especially from Flight 93? Ha, scoffs Dewdney. "Cellphone calls made by passengers were highly unlikely to impossible. Flight UA93 was not in the air when most of the alleged calls were made. The calls themselves were all faked." Michel Chossudovsky, of Quebec's Centre for Research on Globalization, agrees: "It was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to place a wireless cell call from an aircraft travelling at high speed above 8,000 feet."

So all the "Let's roll" stuff was cooked up by the government spooks. So, presumably, were the calls from the other planes. Flight 175 passenger Peter Hanson to his father: "Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements." This at a time when, according to professor Dewdney, Flight 175 was preparing to land smoothly at Harrisburg. Or Flight 11 stewardess Madeline Sweeney: "We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low. Oh my God, we are way too low." Two minutes later, Flight 11 supposedly crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center -- though, as professor Dewdney has demonstrated, by then the plane wasn't even in the state. These so-called "calls" all used state-of-the art voice modification technology to make family members believe they were talking to loved ones rather than vocally disguised government agents. In the case of Todd Beamer's "Let's roll!" the spooks had gone to the trouble of researching and identifying individual passengers' distinctive conversational expressions.

In the end, says Dewdney, Flight 93 was shot down by a "military-looking all-white aircraft." It was an A-10 Thunderbolt cunningly repainted to . . . well, the professor doesn't provide a rationale for why you'd go to the trouble to paint a military aircraft. But the point is, several eyewitnesses reported seeing a white jet in the vicinity of the Flight 93 Pennsylvania crash site, so naturally conspiracy theorists regard that as supporting evidence that the plane was brought down by the U.S. military rather than after a heroic passenger uprising against their jihadist hijackers. "It was taken out by the North Dakota Air Guard," announced retired army Col. Donn de Grand Pre. "I know the pilot who fired those two missiles to take down 93." It was Maj. Rick Gibney, who destroyed the aircraft with a pair of Sidewinders at precisely 9:58 a.m.

Ooooo-kay. We now turn to a brand-new book edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan called Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts. Brad Reagan? There's a name for conspiracy theorists to ponder, notwithstanding his cover as a "contributing editor" for Popular Mechanics. First things first: Maj. Rick Gibney is a lieutenant-colonel. At 9:58 a.m. he wasn't in Shanksville, Pa., but in Fargo, N.D. At 10:45, he took off for Bozeman, Mont., where he picked up Edward Jacoby, Jr., director of the New York State Emergency Management Office, and flew him back to Albany, N.Y., in a two-seat F-16B, unarmed -- i.e., no Sidewinders. The white plane was not an attractively painted A-10 Thunderbolt but a Dassault Falcon 20 corporate jet belonging to the company that owns Wrangler, North Face and other clothing lines. It was coming into Johnstown, near Shanksville, when Flight 93 disappeared and the FAA radioed to ask them if they could look around. "The plane circled the crash site twice," write Dunbar and Reagan, "and then flew directly over it to mark the exact latitude and longitude on the plane's navigation system."

Just for the record, I believe that a cell of Islamist terrorists led by Mohammed Atta carried out the 9/11 attacks. But that puts me in a fast-shrinking minority. In the fall of 2001, a coast-to-coast survey of Canadian imams found all but two insistent that there was no Muslim involvement in 9/11.

Oh, well. It was just after 9/11, everyone was still in shock.

Five years later, a poll in the United Kingdom found that only 17 per cent of British Muslims believe there was any Arab involvement in 9/11.

Ah, but it's a sensitive issue over there, what with Tony Blair being so close to Bush and all.

Professor Dewdney's plane-swap theory?

Come on, if you already live in Canada, it's not such a leap to live in an alternative universe.

But what are we to make of the Scripps Howard poll taken this month in which 36 per cent of those surveyed thought it "somewhat likely" or "very likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks or had knowledge of them beforehand?

Debunking 9/11 Myths does a grand job of explaining such popular conspiracy-website mainstays as how a 125-foot-wide plane leaves a 16-foot hole in the Pentagon. Answer: it didn't. The 16-foot hole in the Pentagon's Ring C was made by the plane's landing gear. But the problem isn't scientific, it's psychological: if you're prepared to believe that government agents went to the trouble of researching, say, gay rugby player Mark Bingham's family background and vocal characteristics so they could fake cellphone calls back to his mom, then clearly you're not going to be deterred by mere facts. As James B. Meigs, the editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics, remarks toward the end of this book, the overwhelming nature of the evidence is, to the conspiratorially inclined, only further evidence of a cover-up: "One forum posting that has multiplied across the Internet includes a long list of the physical evidence linking the 19 hijackers to the crime: the rental car left behind at Boston's Logan airport, Mohammed Atta's suitcase, passports recovered at the crash sites, and so on. 'HOW CONVENIENT!' the author notes after each citation. In the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose logic of conspiracism, there is no piece of information that cannot be incorporated into one's pet theory."

When I was on the Rush Limbaugh show a couple of months back, a listener called up to insist that 9/11 was an inside job. I asked him whether that meant Bali and Madrid and London and Istanbul were also inside jobs. Because that's one expensive operation to hide even in the great sucking maw of the federal budget. But the Toronto blogger Kathy Shaidle made a much sharper point:

"I wonder if the nuts even believe what they are saying. Because if something like 9/11 happened in Canada, and I believed with all my heart that, say, Stephen Harper was involved, I don't think I could still live here. I'm not sure I could stop myself from running screaming to another country. How can you believe that your President killed 2,000 people, and in between bitching about this, just carry on buying your vente latte and so forth?"

Over to you, Col. de Grand Pre, and Charlie Sheen, and Alan Colmes.

The sad reality is that never before has an enemy hidden in such plain sight. Osama bin Laden declared a jihad against America in 1998. Iran's nuclear president vows to wipe Israel off the map. A year before the tube bombings, radical Brit imam Omar Bakri announced that a group of London Islamists are "ready to launch a big operation" on British soil. "We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents," he added, clarifying the ground rules. "Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value."

Our enemies hang their shingles on Main Street, and a University of Western Ontario professor puts it down to a carefully planned substitution of transponder codes.

This is for Rick

Rick Ballard has from time to time pointed out certain silliness in AP's reporting. Well it seems that someone else has taken up the job as well. Qando makes note of the differences between what Rumsfeld actually said and what the AP says he said.

H/T Hugh Hewitt.

Zarqawi's Legacy

Omar at Iraq the Model tells a story of control by intimidation. It sounds like Iraq needs a few more Gary Coopers.

The story is taking place in a suburb of Baghdad with mixed tribal and sectarian composition and it's a suburb where we happen to have relatives living over there.
Last week my father and I went there to attend the funeral of an extended family member; everything went almost normal until we wanted to go home. Here's part of the conversation that went between us and one of our hosts:
(O=Omar, F=my father and R=relative)

R: Er, I don't know how to put this, but coming here was a mistake in the first place, I'm glad you made it safe but if you leave now I will be concerned about your safety.

F: Why? What's going on that I'm not aware of?

R: There's been a lot of trouble here recently and traveling at this time of the day can be so dangerous.

F: Ok, I'm listening…

R: It all started several months ago when a bunch of young men from the local tribes began showing strange extreme religious behavior we're not familiar with in this area.
They did not have influence here in the beginning and their apparent action was limited to hate talk against Shia who they refer to as the "enemies" while we coexisted here and lived peacefully with Shia tribes for centuries.
It didn't take long before they translated their rhetoric into violent action, they started to carry out ocassional kidnapping and assassinations against Shia men from neighboring tribes and even attacked Shia neighborhoods deep inside Baghdad after they acquired heavy mortars and katyusha rockets.
At this point we began to realize the true identity of those young men and we began to believe that they became part of al-Qaeda…

The Shia community showed restraint for a while but then their patience ended and the militias started to fire back…at us unfortunately.
The worst escalation happened last week when al-Qaeda snatched a relative of a senior Shia party official near his home, the militia of that party retaliated by kidnapping ten men of a Sunni tribe and there were also incidents of forced displacement on both sides…we don't know if a peaceful settlement can be ever reached.

O: Many other districts suffer from the similar tensions yet people still move around even at some risk, so why can't we go? Or is it that bad?

R: Beginning every afternoon several roadblocks are set on the one street leading to Baghdad and every couple kilometers you'll face a roadblock and gunmen of this or that tribe or sect. They do this to protect their communities and outsiders will be at great risk of being abducted or shot at.

F: Ok, I see that now but who are those troublemakers in the first place and how many are they that you can't stop them from getting you into trouble?

R: About a dozen…they belong to a few of the Sunni tribes and their chief is the son of former big head in Saddam's government.

O: Did you try to talk to them, intimidate them or do anything to dissuade them from keeping up their dangerous game?

R: We tried, first they told us they were protecting us from Shia death squads and they fooled many of people here with that claim but that's bull shit because now they are the reason death squads are after us.

F: That doesn't make any sense! You mean the entire tribe and neighboring ones can't control a dozen of militants?

R: The problem is that these people behead victims and mutilate bodies, they plant bombs and use dirty tricks…the tribe's men are not adapted to dealing with this kind of horrors.
When sheikhs met to arrange for reconciliation the terrorists sent messages telling the sheikhs they were "no longer wanted" and that they were "ripe" for beheading.
By the way this was the 2nd meeting between Sunni and Shia sheikhs, the first one was held immediately after the Samarra bombing, it was a purely local initiative without mediation from the government or clerics…we had been good neighbors for ages! The sheikhs signed a pact of honor that forbid bloodshed and displacement and that what kept sectarian violence away from the area…until those bastards came in.

F: But still, you know who they are and you can ambush them and get rid of them once and for all.

O, interrupting: Have you tried reporting them to the Army or whatever security force working here?

R: Some elders are considering such plans but many people are afraid of reprisal from other al-Qaeda cells in the region to which those guys might be connected. We are farmers and we have families to worry over. And No Omar, we didn't do that and even if we did we don't expect the authorities to respond to report about a cell of 10 militants in a dangerous orchard area when they're busy fighting thousands of them inside Baghdad.
Plus, any military operation here will certainly bring a lot of collateral damage to our homes and farms. Those bad guys have no respect for our lives and would do anything to remain at large.

These folks need to take a good long hard look at Southern Lebanon. Terrorists are terrorists. I do not care if they are Sunni or Shia or Wahhabi, the mode of operation is always the same. Like drug dealers in the inner cities, they feed off chaos and fear. And it will take the people to stand up and say enough, is enough.

If this story is true and a dozen young punks can create this much turmoil then I have to wonder if Islam really is all that violent, because here in southern Indiana where most of the people are of Scots-Irish or German heritage, these young men would have ended up in jail if they were lucky or in a stripper pit if they were not. I kid you not.

The New York Times is still victimizing innocent Dukies. By Stuart Taylor Jr. - Slate Magazine

The New York Times is still victimizing innocent Dukies. By Stuart Taylor Jr. - Slate Magazine: "If you're the New York Times and the story is the alleged gang rape of a black woman by three white Duke lacrosse players—a claim shown by mounting evidence to be almost certainly fraudulent—you tone down your rhetoric while doing your utmost to prop up a case that's been almost wholly driven by prosecutorial and police misconduct."

eviscerate, v [trans]

Plamegate's ridiculous conclusion. By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "After you have noted that the Niger uranium connection was in fact based on intelligence that has turned out to be sound, you may also note that this heated moral tone ('thuggish,' 'gang') is now quite absent from the story. It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was 'seized on by administration critics.' "

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today's Comedy Relief


Battlestar Galactica wisdom

Battlestar Galactica: "[D]on't think for a moment that just because you don't live in a hurricane area or an earthquake zone or next to a potential terrorist target that something bad can't happen to you. It can. Houses burn, cars crash, and sometimes things just fall out of the frakking sky. That's life and it sucks, but you can at least help yourself by waking up to the idea that bad things happen to good people all the time and that means YOU.

Get some supplies. Get a plan. Get a clue.

There are plenty of websites out there to help you, I'm not going to hold your hand and give you a list of things to do. Battlestar Galactica is all about the precious few survivors of a holocaust and how they cope with the reality of their lives in its aftermath. Give yourself a fighting chance to be a survivor.

Get some supplies. Get a plan. Get a clue."

Is the Sky Really Falling? A Review of Recent Global Warming Scare Stories

Is the Sky Really Falling? A Review of Recent Global Warming Scare Stories: "In the last two years, a remarkable amount of disturbing news has been published concerning global warming, largely concentrating on melting of polar ice, tropical storms and hurricanes, and mass extinctions. The sheer volume of these stories appears to be moving the American political process toward some type of policy restricting emissions of carbon dioxide.

It is highly improbable, in a statistical sense, that new information added to any existing forecast is almost always “bad” or “good”; rather, each new finding has an equal probability of making a forecast worse or better. Consequently, the preponderance of bad news almost certainly means that something is missing, both in the process of science itself and in the reporting of science. This paper examines in detail both recent scientific reports on climate change and the communication of those reports.

Needless to say, the unreported information is usually counter to the bad news. Reports of rapid disintegration of Greenland’s ice ignore the fact that the region was warmer than it is now for several decades in the early 20th century, before humans could have had much influence on climate. Similar stories concerning Antarctica neglect the fact that the net temperature trend in recent decades is negative, or that warming the surrounding ocean can serve"


The Anchoress has an excellent post up on the dangers of fascism and the ease with which many fall prey to fanaticism.

I never wanted to use the word “fascism” for the troubling conformity of mind and manner which was driving me from the left, because it is such an ugly word, fraught with so much dreadful recent history. But then, fascism is not really a 20th century phenomenon, is it? It is a mindset as old as sin itself, and any group of people - on the left or the right - can fall into a habit of conformity which mutates into an expectation of particulars and standards which may then be exploited. Fall out of step with “der party” and you can suddenly find your fortunes reversed. Criticize the wrong person, and you may “never work in this town again.” Fascism is really not about right or left - it is about suppression of individual thought and the stomping on of singular expression. It is about stripping the humanity from the “other side,” both by labeling them and by shunning them, until they will do anything to belong “somewhere.”

I see it on the left in internet political forums which delete any message which does not conform to the group-hate, or when certain politicians are reckoned “beyond criticism” and go untouched and unscathed by circumstances and history. I see it on the right, too, when I watch conservatives move “beyond” real and reasonable criticism, to actively throwing their own president under a bus because he is not conforming enough to the group-think; I see it when those conservatives seem on the brink of saying to many of their co-ideologues, “just let us do the thinking here, you rubes.”

The dangerous slide into fascism is something every movement needs to guard against. It can happen so easily, and so imperceptibly. First there is an idea, and people gather around it. Then some people embrace it with fervor. Then some clutch it to their breasts and pretend it fills a deep gash within them, an aching void. Zealots begin to move the idea left or right, and they always have their followers, for whom “the idea’s” progression into exclusivity and regimentation seems “only natural.” For them, “the idea” becomes a religion. For some, it becomes a goddess. For all too many, an idea is not merely a thought and a thing, it is a malleable, amorphous catch-all which can consume any matter, distort it and regurgitate it into something altogether different, and still call it “the idea.”

Hence, a classical liberal “idea” of human rights, personal dignity, open-mindedness and respectfulness has been consumed and distorted, and it is regurgitated 40 years later into something still called “liberal,” which looks nothing like the name. In fact it resembles another, very different, much less noble “idea,” one which we keep trying to battle back.

Fascism exists wherever people lose sight of other people as people, and begin to think of them as “them,” as “votes,” as “bodies,” as “numbers,” as “the people who do not count,” or (as Rob Reiner once declared about conservatives) as ones who “deserve to be marginalized, because they’re so wrong.”

Fascism can be take hold in a country or a church, or even in a neighborhood. It is the curse of every race, the scourge of every creed, no matter how sincere, it is the dementor of every movement.

Read it all.

Another Short-sighted Pundit

The Corner on National Review Online: "[Ramesh Ponnuru] Michael Crowley argues ... that the Club for Growth is hurting the Republican party by backing primary candidates who can't win the general election. The Club, which has ties to NR in the person of Dusty Rhodes, would presumably reply: So what? It doesn't exist to help the Republican party. "

So what? Simple: if it hurts the Republican Party, it tends to help the Demnocratic Party.

I don't know what they call this in the Halls of Power, but down on the ranch we used to call that "stepping on one's own wee-wee."

Hezbollah won?

Nasrallah Accused of ‘Adventurism’ for Plunging Lebanon Into Costly War: "JEDDAH, 29 August 2006 — With the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah expressing regret Sunday on Lebanese TV for the month-long war in Lebanon in which more than a thousand people died, many people in the Kingdom accused the Hezbollah militia of “adventurism” and being “irresponsible.”

According to Homoud Al-Bader, a Shoura Council member, Hezbollah’s kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers has taken Lebanon back to “square one.”

Describing the actions as “miscalculated” and “provocative” Al Bader said that Lebanon had lost hundreds of lives, its infrastructure had been demolished, and now other governments were helping the country to rebuild.

Jeddah resident Abu Sami said Saudi Arabia was correct when they described the Hezbollah war against Israel as an adventure. “If we look at the situation now, the only thing that Nasrullah gained was scaring Israeli citizens and forcing them to live in bunkers for a month. But let’s be realistic, what did the Lebanese people win? Nothing.”"

Monday, August 28, 2006

Did Katrina save 50,000 lives in New Orleans?

Paul over at Wizbang has been doing a bang up job on Katrina. He was on the scene as it happened and has blogged various angles over time. Using videotape taken at the time of the breach and his own photographic evidence, he lays out the case that Katrina per se was only the straw that broke the camel's back, and the levees at the 17th Street Canal were ready to go. He discusses this in The Katrina Video Congress Didn't want You to See. He says that the levees were already being eroded for up to a year before Katrina. He shows videotape evidence that the "surge" of water was not great, as the levees broke earlier than has usually been reported.

This involves issues around Sovreign Immunity. To wit:
We've all heard the story, in the early morning hours of Aug 29, 2005, the Category 4 Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, overwhelming the New Orleans levee system and flooding the city. If you read Wizbang, you've known since early October of 2005 this story was fatally flawed.

In the months since Katrina, we've learned that the storm was a Category 1 by the time she hit New Orleans. No "Super Hurricane," just an average storm. We've also learned that the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System was not overwhelmed by Katrina, it collapsed. Causing the Corps of Engineers admit they flooded New Orleans not Katrina... An admission that got scant little media coverage. The Great Flood of New Orleans was not a natural disaster but a man made one.

The reason the Corps finally had to admit responsibility was that the floodwall that failed -flooding 70% of the city- basically collapsed under its own weight. It was undeniable. The Corps tried for months to claim the water came over the top of the floodwall and washed it away from the backside. (Which would make it Congress's fault) Everyone who has seen the break or looked at the surge data knew this was a lie; that the wall suffered a catastrophic failure before the water reached the top. Almost a year later, the Corps admitted that the floodwall suffered from multiple fatal design flaws and failed prematurely.

What was not really told to the public however is how high the water got up the walls before they failed. - This is an important question to a city rebuilding ~$250 billion in infrastructure. It is commonly assumed by the public that the water must have been quite high.

The question also has legal ramifications. Sovereign Immunity says citizens can not sue the government for damages unless there is negligence or Congress allows the government to be sued. If the public assumption is that Katrina was responsible for the flooding, Congress would never allow the government to be sued.

Perhaps that explains why Congress confiscated a video of the floodwall collapsing and refused to let the public see it until (a perfectly timed) 10 months after the storm. - Well after the storm passed but a few months before the current 1 year anniversary hype.

You've probably never seen it, but we have video taken by New Orleans firefighters as the 17th street canal floodwall was actually in the process of breaking during Katrina. It answers the question of just how prematurely the walls failed. The video was obtained by the National Geographic channel and aired a few weeks ago. (it took me a while to blog it, so sue me)

The video -if you understand it- is shocking. Sadly, no one at National Geographic or even the local TV station got the significance of the video. -- Because they were looking at the wrong thing.

I'm going to explain what is on the video that no one caught and I'll do my best to give you a good understanding of the whole thing.

Before I type their whole story, watch the firefighters' story as told by a local TV station a couple of months ago. As you watch the video, don't worry about the pictures for now, we'll get to them. For now, listen to the reporter and the firemen tell their story.

He suggests that the levee could have broken at another time, a typical summer storm, when people would have just been going about their business instead of most people having evacuated. Read the whole thing.

Dinner at Harvest Time

This is how dinner goes these days. I walk out back to the garden and pick an ear of corn, a tomato, a green pepper, a small crookneck squash, a couple of leaves of basil, and a sprig of parsley. Back in the kitchen a handfull of stew meat goes in the skillet to brown while I cut the corn from the cob and slice the squash, pepper, and tomato. Salt and pepper the meat, add corn, garlic, basil, parsley, and a bit of water and let simmer a few minutes. Add peppers and squash, simmer a minute more, add tomatoes, stir, and cover with good Diamond aged chedder. When the cheese melts, turn off the flame and let it cool a bit. Serve to self with a glass of wine and a tumbler of water. Yum, yum.

Everything the cookbooks say about fresh veggies is true. There is absolutely no comparison with store bought, especially for tomatoes and crisp peppers and sweet peas. But you have to grow your own to get them.

If it ain't broke don't fix it

I came across a post at Betsys concerning an attempt to make an end run around the electoral college:

Pete Du Pont argues in favor of keeping the Electoral College today. This is relevant because the California legislature passed a bill that would award California's Electoral votes to whichever candidate won the popular vote. And no one can count on Arnold Schwarzenegger in his new girlie mode to veto the bill. And Colorado's legislature is getting ready to pass the same thing. These provisions would go into effect as soon as there were enough states that have passed such bills to determine an electoral majority. Du Pont explains the reasons why this is such a bad idea and why the Electoral College is really worth preserving.

First, the direct election of presidents would lead to geographically narrower campaigns, for election efforts would be largely urban. In 2000 Al Gore won 677 counties and George Bush 2,434, but Mr. Gore received more total votes. Circumvent the Electoral College and move to a direct national vote, and those 677 largely urban counties would become the focus of presidential campaigns.

Rural states like Maine, with its 740,000 votes in 2004, wouldn't matter much compared with New York's 7.4 million or California's 12.4 million votes. Rural states' issues wouldn't matter much either; big-city populations and urban issues would become the focus of presidential campaigns. America would be holding urban elections, and that would change the character of campaigns and presidents.

Second, in any direct national election there would be significant election-fraud concerns. In the 2000 Bush-Gore race, Mr. Gore's 540,000-vote margin amounted to 3.4 votes in each of the country's 175,000 precincts. "Finding" three votes per precinct in urban areas is not a difficult thing, or as former presidential scholar and Kennedy advisor Theodore White testified before the Congress in 1970, "There is an almost unprecedented chaos that comes in the system where the change of one or two votes per precinct can switch the national election of the United States."

Washington state's 2004 governor's race was decided by just 129 votes. A judge found 1,678 illegal votes were cast, and it turned out that 1,200 more votes were counted in Seattle's King County than the number of people recorded as voting. This affected just Washington state, but in a direct national election where everything hangs on a small number of urban districts, such manipulations could easily decide presidencies.

Third, direct election would lead to a multicandidate, multiparty system instead of the two-party system we have. Many candidates would run on narrow issues: anti-immigration, pro-gun, environment, national security, antiwar, socialist or labor candidates, for they would have a microphone for their issues. Then there would be political power seekers--Al Sharpton or Michael Moore--and Hollywood pols like Barbra Streisand or Warren Beatty. Even Paris Hilton could advance her career through a presidential campaign.

I am not a constitutional scholar but it would seem to me that Congress might have a little something to say about this. We have a representative government. That is why all states have two Senators, it is intended to give equal representation without regard to population. In fact when first established the Electoral College was the only means for voting for presidents, not popular vote. It was established in Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution. It was modified in 1804 in the 12th Amendment.

The thing that sits representative government apart from mob rule, is minority rights. It is the acknowledgment of the individual and the understanding that everyone has value, even the hicks. I realize that California and New York and Florida already swing elections, but if we do away with this system we will change forever the idea that every state matters...even Wyoming or Alaska. Maybe they think those of us who live in rural areas are dead weight and the big cities are all that matters, but the real strength of America lies in her commitment to each and every citizen and his place in deciding the fate of a nation.

Call me sentimental, but I think we should leave the Electoral College alone.

Jeff Goldstein Nails It

protein wisdom: "Most disturbing is that the propaganda provided by Reuters, the AP, et al might not be intentional. Propaganda delivered intentionally is, of course, utterly despicable, and—when it comes from a news service—unconscionable. But it is propaganda that is accepted uncritically and reported as fact—thanks to years of having one’s worldview shaped by the previous generation of media propaganda—that is must troublesome. That is, if one is to believe that news agencies aren’t intentionally part of an international conspiracy that is actively combatting Israel and the US (under a Republican administration), one is forced to concede, based on the evidence that has been produced during the fauxtagraphy scandal, that many media personnel are being blinded by their own prejudices—so much so that they are willing to take at face value, and then propagate in advance of some determination of veracity, the very claims that they should be actively investigating."

Back to School

Joseph Stalin is reputed to have said, "One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." Here then, is some weekend news on the topic.

Throughtout the US and, undoubtedly, much of the world, we are in the several weeks of Back to School time. For many millions of of students and parents this represents a time of joy or sorrow. For at least one mother and daughter it is a time of senseless tragedy:

NYC shooting spree results in 1 dead, 4 wounded...

A gunman on a cocaine-and-booze binge killed one man and wounded two others in a series of drive-by shootings in Queens, officials said Saturday...

The slain man was riding with his wife to their Long Island home after dropping their daughter off at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

Elsewhere in the world, far away, we find Atrocity or theme park? Should The Killing Fields be preserved and to what benefit(s) for whom?

...the soaring stupa, or Buddhist reliquary, crammed with 8,985 skulls, some bearing clear evidence of death by hammers, hoes, bamboo sticks and bullets. Skeletal remains and ragged clothes lay in surrounding shallow graves. A sign next to a tree explained how executioners bashed the heads of children against its trunk...

Anlong Veng, only recently cleared of mines, is perhaps the only "living museum" of the horror. Many of its 26,000 inhabitants are Pol Pot's former fighters and officials, some of them missing limbs.

Ta Mok, a brutal military commander, lived here until his death last month. Although he was to have stood trial for atrocities, he was a hero in Anlong Veng, and people eagerly point out his humanitarian legacy - schools, clinics, a dam, a sawmill that provided free wood to the poor.

"The people all love Ta Mok," says his nephew, Cheam Ponlok.

The commander whom the Western media dubbed "the Butcher" was seen off by hundreds of mourners and chanting Buddhist monks, and his ashes placed in a tomb in a temple - the newest addition to Cambodia's genocide trail.

In the meantime yet another killing field, or rather lake, is happening in Cambodia. This time it is millions of snakes being killed to feed the crocodiles. The impact of millions of deaths - even those of snakes - surely matters. Why save so many crocodiles that all the snakes must die to feed them?

I find it difficult to wrap my brain around thoughts of the implications of wiping out snake populations to feed crocodiles. And I have no idea whether it is a good idea to preserve the evidence of the horrors of Pol Pot and other butchers. What are we to make of those who view them as heroes?

I have little trouble, however, imagining the bewildered emptiness within a mother and daughter who are even now arranging a funeral.

GOP Vixen: Saddam being forced to watch 'South Park' movie!

GOP Vixen: Saddam being forced to watch 'South Park' movie!

Please tell me it's true.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ric Locke speaks for me

Ric Locke comments at Roger L. Simon: "As a Bush supporter, I accept my part in the deaths caused by the war. Of course, I always did, and I don't believe George Bush tries to escape responsibility.

But that means the half-million who died because of your hero(es) are on your soul. Gassing entire Kurd villages so Saddam's relatives could have the land: yours. Destroying an ecosystem to starve the Marsh Arabs: yours. Tossing live infants into a slit trench, then cutting their parents' throats and using the bodies to stifle the screams: all on your head. "

Fun Little Toy

A long time ago I posted an item called Useless Trivia in which, aside from the Girl from Ipanema's legal problems, I mentioned my taste for Nu Samba/Bossa Nova and my search of the web for information about it. One of the techniques I used was to go to my blogger profile, click on the musicians I had listed, and then go to each of the other blogger's profiles and see who else they had on their list. Needless to say, a long and tedious process.

Recently, I found an interesting little site called Music Map. It is a project that is attempting to aggregate musical tastes from a large number of people and then visually map the connections between muscians people like. It is also doing this with books and movies. In testing it the names I entered didn't always appear. Perhaps the database driving it is still small, or more likely I have an eccentric taste in music. Regardless, it sure beats the brute force 'blogger profile' technique I had used.

The main page of the site is located at Gnod.

As an aside, Kartoo is a search engine that present a similar mapped output.

Much Ado

about nothing says Ed Morissey at the revelation that Richard Armitage was the source for the socalled outing of the socalled covert agent Valerie Plame. This bit of information comes from David Corn and Michael Isikoff's new book Hubris:The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

Sounds like a real page turner. Will these people ever get tired of this constant carping? I mean really...who cares? Someday when the Iraq war is really over people might wonder why there were so many people so bound and determined to protect and defend Saddam Hussein. So determined, that they wrote books and made speeches and took to the streets and burned flags and in general made idiots of themselves. And for what? The Butcher of Baghdad's vicious little regime.

Operation Praying Mantis

In the post below concerning the release of the journalists commenter lurker links to a story about the Iranian navy testing missiles. This brought to mind a naval battle fought in 1988 between the US and Iran. I bet most people today know nothing about Operation Praying Mantis.

From Wikipedia :

Operation Praying Mantis was the April 18, 1988 action waged by U.S. naval forces in retaliation for the Iranian mining of an American warship by the Iran Ajr.

The April 14 mining nearly sank the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts, which was sailing in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the 1987-88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. By the time the Roberts was towed to Dubai on April 15, battered but saved with no loss of life, U.S. planning for the retaliatory operation had already begun in Washington and in the Middle East.

The Iran Ajr was linked to the mineblast when military explosives analysts discovered that the serial codes on the mines matched those on the Iran Ajr. Operation Praying Mantis ensued, as the United States Navy retaliated against the Iran Ajr and attacked many other Iranian vessels.

The battle, the largest between surface forces since World War II, sank two Iranian warships and as many as six armed speedboats (in addition to the Iran Ajr). The attack by the U.S. may have helped pressure Iran to agree to a ceasefire with Iraq later that summer, ending the eight-year conflict between the Persian Gulf neighbors.

The battle

On April 18, 1988, the Americans responded with several groups of surface warships, plus airplanes from the carrier USS Enterprise. The action began with coordinated strikes by two surface groups. One group, consisting of two destroyers and the amphibious transport dock USS Trenton, attacked the Sassan oil platform while the other, which included a guided missile cruiser and two frigates, attacked the Sirri oil platform. U.S. Marines from Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) 2-88 fast-roped onto the Sassan platform, gathered intelligence, and set explosives to disable it.

Iran responded by dispatching Boghammar speedboats to attack various targets in the Persian Gulf, including an American-flagged supply ship and a Panamanian-flagged ship. After these attacks, A-6E Intruder aircraft from VA-95 were vectored in on the speedboats by an American frigate. The aircraft dropped Rockeye cluster bombs on the speedboats, sinking one and damaging several others.

Action continued to escalate. Joshan, an Iranian Combattante II Kaman-class fast attack craft, challenged USS Wainwright (CG-28) and her surface group, firing a Harpoon missile at them. The American ships responded to the challenge by firing six Standard missiles and one Harpoon at Joshan, destroying it. Fighting continued when the Iranian frigate Sahand departed Bandar Abbas and challenged elements of an American surface group. She was observed by two VA-95 A-6Es while they were flying surface combat air patrol for USS Joseph Strauss (DDG-16).
Iranian frigate IS Sahand (74) burning on April 18, 1988 after being attacked
Iranian frigate IS Sahand (74) burning on April 18, 1988 after being attacked

Sahand launched missiles at the A-6Es, and the Intruders replied with launches of two Harpoons and four laser-guided Skipper bombs. This was followed by a Harpoon firing from Joseph Strauss. The weapons delivered against Sahand were successful.

Fires blazing on her decks eventually reached her magazines, resulting in an explosion that led to her sinking. Despite the loss of Sahand, one of Iran's most modern ships, the Iranian navy continued to fight. A sister ship, Sabalan, departed her port for operations in the Persian Gulf. She fired on several A-6Es from VA-95 with a surface-to-air missile. One of the Intruders responded with a laser-guided bomb that hit Sabalan and stopped her dead in the water. The Iranian frigate was taken in tow by an Iranian tug with the stern partially submerged. VA-95's aircraft, as ordered, did not continue the attack.

By the end of the operation elements of the American fleet had damaged Iranian naval and intelligence facilities on two inoperable oil platforms in the Persian Gulf, and sank at least six armed Iranian speedboats. Sabalan was repaired in 1989 and has since been upgraded, and is still in service with the Iranian navy. In short, Iran lost one major warship and a smaller gunboat. Damage to the oil platforms was eventually repaired and they are now back in service.

The U.S. side took only two casualties: the aircrew of a Marine Corps AH-1T Sea Cobra gunship. The Cobra, attached to the USS Trenton, was flying reconnaissance from the Wainwright and crashed sometime after dark about 15 miles southwest of Abu Musa island. The bodies of Capt. Stephen C. Leslie, 30, of New Bern, N.C., and Capt. Kenneth W. Hill, 33, of Thomasville, N.C., were recovered by Navy divers in May, and the wreckage of the helicopter was raised later that month. Navy officials said it showed no sign of battle damage, though the aircraft could have crashed while trying to evade Iranian fire.

We won.

Thank God

Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig of Fox News are free at last . Gale says that Bush threatened someone via Condi Rice. I don't know about that but Hamas is going to try to take credit for the release.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Movie Review: Little Miss Sunshine

Posted by Alistair

Little Miss Sunshine—a film that has been in American theaters for exactly a month but is only now starting to get the attention it deserves—is at once incredibly subtle and excessively larger than life. It is crafted around the very simple story of a dysfunctional family embarking on a road trip so that their youngest member, Olive (Abigail Breslin), can compete in a children's beauty pageant. The plot, as with all good journey stories, is not all that important. What really drives this film to its comedic and dramatic peaks—both of which are reached often and with indefatigable charm—is the characters that inhabit it.

We are presented with characters that are both insanely over the top and heartbreakingly human. Kudos must be given to writer Michael Arndt and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, all three of whom love and understand the unique humanity present in each of their characters.

There is the father Richard (Greg Kinnear), a man incapable of success who has developed a laughable self-empowerment system based on the bifurcation of the world between winners and losers. Sheryl (Toni Collette), the family matriarch who tries to be a pillar of family togetherness while nearly crumbling herself under the weight of financial problems and a secret smoking habit. Frank (Steve Carrell), Sheryl's scholarly brother, a once famous scholar, who has, at the film's open, fallen from grace and undergone a suicide attempt. Grandpa (Allen Arkin), a man who has led a long and varied life only to develop a heroin addiction and heavy regrets in his twilight years. Dwight (Paul Dano), Olive's brother who reads Nietzsche and has taken a vow of silence until he is accepted into the air force. And of course Olive, a girl with little personality other than the desire to be a beauty pageant winner. She is, without a doubt, the film's weakest character.

All of these characters... initially come off as obnoxious but funny caricatures of themselves. As the film progresses, however, and the family members begin to open up to each other, the thin mercurial humanity present in each begins to show itself. The father is quite hard on his daughter and the rest of the family—going so far at times to insinuate their placement on the negative side of his black and white, losers vs. winners, binary worldview. He is redeemed however when he interacts with those who fit his strict definition of "winners". These scenes, including the film's howlingly funny and painfully heartwarming climax (where Olive performs her "talent"), are among its best. When the father battles it out with the world's winners he triumphs by retaining his own personal idiosyncrasies and moral sensibilities, characteristics that he may himself loath but that the audience is sure to adore.

Indeed, in the end, all of the characters are redeemed on similar grounds. All of the characters struggle with the constant pain of being different, and finally realize that's what draws them together. Although that ending sounds typically Hollywood and absurdly clichéd it is anything but. The film deserves the utmost respect for never compromising its integrity and giving the family the kind of victory that winners readily achieve. On the contrary, their victory is incredibly small and only important to them, but it is important to them.

While the film suffers from not enough explanation of, or investment in, its female characters, as well as some confusion about the characters it does touch upon, it carries itself off with just the right amount of humor and exploration of the human spirit. Its ending is both believable and uplifting, something almost unheard of in modern entertainment.

This movie will make you laugh both at the absurdity of its bits and at the very fact that something so painful could be so funny. And while it ultimately boils down to little more than a treatise on winners vs. losers and who really belongs to which group (a point subtlety brought out in the horrific images of real child beauty queens during the film's climax), it is a film of hilarious, dramatic, and human depths, the likes of which haven't been portrayed on the screen in such brilliant light since Sideways.

A Bit of Fun with Statistics

I wondered what would happen if I put the NOAA data on the number of hurricanes that have made landfall on the US by decade (since 1851) into a Simple Regression equation and plotted the darned things. Well this is it- a negative trend (up to the year 2000, as we haven't completed the decade of 2001-2010). Does this prove anything? Not really, just that there are many ways of crunching numbers and that even statisticians can run things in mulitple ways. Lie, damned lies and statistics... Still it is interesting and suggests the global warming effect on worrisome hurricanes is less robust than advertised. But check out some more serious number crunching on Climate Audit on this question to get your head spinning like a cyclone.

Electronic Paper Takes a Bow

Is this the pocket book of the future? It's still a bit small, too thick, and pricey to my mind, but we are getting there. Maybe a few more years and bookshelves will be replaced with stacks of DVDs. What I would really like to see is the free availability of some classic texts that are no longer under copyright. And maybe Knuck can get his copy of the 1911 Britannica, green cover optional.

And if you are an inveterate tinkerer, here are instructions on how to construct your own "fluffy soap" mouse.

h/t: OSNews

Police Chief Says He Exaggerated Post-Katrina Crime - August 21, 2006 - The New York Sun

Police Chief Says He Exaggerated Post-Katrina Crime - August 21, 2006 - The New York Sun: "'In hindsight, I guess I heightened people's fears by me being the superintendent of police, reporting these things that were reported to me,' Mr. Compass said of the unverified accounts of crime and disorder in flooded New Orleans that he repeated to the press and on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.'

'But there was really no way for me to check definitively. So instead I erred on the side of caution. I didn't want people to think we were trying to cover anything up. So I repeated these things without being substantiated, and it caused a lot of problems,' he said.

Officials and local commentators have long suggested that the false reports of rampant crime following the hurricane were a reason for the slowness of rescue efforts. With recovery teams and humanitarian aid groups frightened to enter the city, many storm survivors were left stranded on roofs without food and water, in makeshift rafts, and in filthy conditions at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center."

My advice is to regard anything you read in any media as fiction.

Perception vs. Reality Again

Despite what we have been led to believe it seems that service in Iraq is not something akin to the battle of Antietam. From the Washington Post:

Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces. Troops spent a total of 592,002 "person-years" in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

How does this rate compare with that in other groups? One meaningful comparison is to the civilian population of the United States. That rate was 8.42 per 1,000 in 2003, more than twice that for military personnel in Iraq.

The comparison is imperfect, of course, because a much higher fraction of the American population is elderly and subject to higher death rates from degenerative diseases. The death rate for U.S. men ages 18 to 39 in 2003 was 1.53 per 1,000 -- 39 percent of that of troops in Iraq. But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides.

Read it all and remember the faked photos, the forgotten Iraqi voters and the polls that show Iraqis really do have faith in the future of their country, the overblown AbuGhraib scandal and all the rest and ask yourself, Why would any decent person really want this to fail?

H/T Instapundit


Which President, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton made the following statements:

"It is obvious that there is an attempt here, based on the whole history of this operation since 1991, to protect whatever remains of [Saddam’s] capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, the missiles to deliver them, and the feed stocks necessary to produce them. The UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq still has stockpiles of chemical and biological munitions, a small force of Scud-type missiles, and the capacity to restart quickly its production program and build many, many more weapons.”

“Now, let’s imagine the future. What if [Saddam] fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who’s really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too. [emphasis added] If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Secur
ity Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program.”

For the answer go to Austin Bay .

Inflamed Pundit, send shark-oil salve

The Corner on National Review Online: "Friday prayers at Tehran University are important; they are the official statement of the Supreme Leader’s policy. Andy McCarthy is right. The ceasefire is a charade. Rice is either willing to fold in the face of terror or has been completely had. Either way does not instill confidence."

Because, of course, Condi Rice is not nearly as smart as a small-time radio host and couldn't possibly have thought farther ahead than the next news cycle, and so gave no thought to the predictable next action Hezbollah and the Iranians would take.

Hitchens Gives the Finger to Maher's Audience for 'Frivolous' Jeering of Bush |

Hitchens Gives the Finger to Maher's Audience for 'Frivolous' Jeering of Bush | "Hitchens: “Cheer yourself up like that. The President has said, quite a great contrast before the podium of the Senate, I think applauded by most present, in his State of the Union address, that we support the democratic movement of the Iranian people to be free of theocracy -- not that we will impose ourselves on them, but that if they fight for it we're on their side. That seems to be the right position to take, jeer all you like.”"

Friday, August 25, 2006


She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Low eighties, with a cool breeze off the sea, —
Just having lost my notebook, in the brain’s
Light traffic, a lot of half-baked ideas
Insert themselves, as shadows on the hill
Of all the lesser loves that flew away
Without a glance back at the lesser me.

October’s caddis hatch on the McCloud
With you, would be the essence of a dream,
My love, the underhand casts come easy,—

Where two sapsucker-fretted apple trees,
Lean over water, the tail of a pool,
Fruit ripening toward August’s house party,—

Lichened live oak trunk, Bewick’s wren, one bee,

Goldfinches perched on grass stems that barely
Deflect under their weight, in Martha’s garden
—I’m trying a strangeness out, from me to thee...

Good ’98 cab shared outside the cave,
Out on the open terrace, drops of rain
To punctuate the just-waiting-to-see
If I’ll improve, or falter, — casually,
Buddhas descend as darning needles, then—

Evening levies cloud columns off the sea,
Tree swallows and fair-weather cumulus
Buoyant enough to bear sadness away—
Wind dapple in damp forest, what to say?

An iPod with the earphones on the table,
The music thread-thin, as though far away,
Strains of Quartet No. XIII, Opus
130 (in B flat), long waves
Break thirty miles away, on Ten Mile Beach,
But visible to us, from our eyrie.

(Being uncertain what we had in mind,
We’ve settled for the static symmetry
Of one continuous unbroken song,
Insistent, as if dismantling the sun,
The sky itself, the earth under our feet,—
Begun again, the world may come out right…)

The neighbors hung sachets of lavender
Soaked in a mountain lion’s urine, so deer
Would stay clear of the vineyard. Let me pee
On that boulder of sunwarmed tufa. France
Has fallen. Damn! I’ll miss those bastards. Being
Enchanted by that girl in the library…

Last winter, studying calligraphy,
You found at last your own Ts’ao-Shu, “grass style”…
I moped around those endless rainy hills,
And found a couple pounds of chanterelles,
Dug with my folding C.R.K.T. blade,
The Op. Iraqi Freedom model. Hey—

Sautéed in tarragon, butter, sauterne,
Served with a crusty baguette, chardonnay—
And you’d no more consider leaving me
Than life itself. (I’d never questioned how
Life planted me on this shore, where the breeze
Turns over all the silvery olive leaves.)

Read Elements of Typographic Style,
In French, translated it back into Greek,
And back again. Got lost along the way.
Worked through a hundred proofs, and sadder now,
But hardly wiser, worked right through one day,
Singing the names of rivers, winds, and months
(All mostly feminine in ancient Greek),
And played hoops with the kids, gave booze a pass,
Worked on my dribble, will continue, too,
Until Lear dominates th’ offensive glass.

From fire and flood, from mudslide and cold rain,
Earthquake, volcano — California
Breaks up, gets reassembled, —your beauty

Breaks down “resistance” to the ordered new
Life in the live oaks. What they claimed is true:
While standing out in the electric field,
We’re brittle as the grass, struck by the sun,

Passion of fence lizards, life on the run—

Hard wired to hide among the blackberries
And bracken, by the little mountain spring,
Brush rabbit trembles, shadow of hawk’s wing
Scythes by.
Right now, I’m happy as a king.

Daily Dispatch » Blog Archive » Iraq: Media Manufactured Perception

Daily Dispatch » Blog Archive » Iraq: Media Manufactured Perception: "Eighty-nine percent of Iraqis think a unity government is important.

Fifty-four percent approve of the unity government with only 25% disapproving. (That is higher than Americans who approve of the current make up of Congress and the Administration.)

Seventy-eight percent of Iraqis oppose partitioning the country along ethnic or religious lines.

The only group supporting partitioning are the Kurds.

And 70% of Iraqis do not know someone who moved because of religious conflict.

So, American watching the Legacy Media report on Iraq think the situation is much worse than the average Iraqi who actually lives in Iraq."

Katrina mon amour

Well it is late August and so it is time once again to revisit the Super Dome in New Orleans. Democrats and critics of the Bush administration are lining up to criticize the rebuilding the efforts the same way they did the rescue effort.

Gale's attitude is a simple one, after all he is a simple man. He says "Those people ought to suck it up, you'd think they were the only people on the planet that anything bad ever happened to." How insensitive of him. When he was a kid Gale was in a blizzard, a real honest to God deep snow blizzard. Dad went out to dry and dig out the road and did not come back for dinner. His Mom sent him out to look for his Dad and Gale found him dead under the tractor, it had rolled over on him because he could not see the ditch. That was a disaster and no one came to help but the neighbors.

Neighbors. Remember them?

Once upon a time when faced with disasters people did not wait for the people in DC to come to the rescue, they helped themselves. Why was this time so different? I am sure the sheer scope of the disaster played a part in the domestic soap opera that engulfed the coverage of Katrina, but the number one culprit was politics.

Now the charge will be made that Bush has not done enough to rebuild. Well once again, the locals are supposed to carry the ball here as well. They are the ones who decide what neighborhoods will and will not be rebuilt, who will and will not get building permits and septic permits etc. Nor should we overlook insurance companies slow to pay claims and ever ready to charge fraud.

But once again it seems the locals can not get it together to do what everyone else in the region is trying to do and that is move on. Nagin has proved himself incapable of making the tough decisions, again.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Reason: Hoodwinked by Hezbollah: Turning the stench of defeat into the smell of victory

Reason: Hoodwinked by Hezbollah: Turning the stench of defeat into the smell of victory: "But what kind of victory is this that, even by Hezbollah's unexacting standards, must qualify as a major setback? In its public appraisals of the conflict, Hezbollah has ignored what Israel did to those parts of Lebanon the party cannot claim as its own. Its cries of triumph have been focused on the stubborn resistance put up by Hezbollah combatants in south Lebanon. Nothing has been heard from party leaders about the billions of dollars of losses in infrastructure; about the immediate losses to businesses that will be translated into higher unemployment; about the long-term opportunity costs of the fighting; about the impact that political instability will have (indeed has already had) on public confidence and on youth emigration; and about the general collapse in morale that Lebanon faces."

'Information ... Slightly Coloured by Prejudice'

For a long time I had access to the 17th edition minus a volume or two. I had no idea that the 11th edition was considered among the finest examples of the form. I had no idea anyone rated such things.

I did know what a treasure trove the 17th was and wandered through it often and for hours on end. Things like Terrye's Sin Eaters... No Pluto... things missing by taboo and so much that is taboo today.

I can smell it. I wonder if it still is where it was.

We won't have Pluto to kick around anymore

No doubt this will alter your day.

Eight planets, not nine... eight. Pluto Not a Planet, Astronomers Rule

Let's not give up the fight..

McCain is bashing Bush. Instapundit says it's because Bush isn't running again so Bush is expendable.

I'm sure that's what McCain is thinking. But he's hurting the party. His bashing gives ammo to the anti-war KOS crowd just in time for November.

It seems everyone is turning against the war because nobody is arguing Bush's case. Bush is on his own. The Iraqi people deserve better and I'm ashamed of America right now. No matter what you may think of Maliki, when he was here he looked desparate to let the American people know Iraq appreciates our effort and sacrifice. Iraq needs us yet we're in danger of abandoning them and already have in spirit.

And the Republicans aren't fighting hard enough. They're not leaders, they're followers and are too afraid of the Democrats to demonstrate optimism and the good old-fashioned American way. Republicans are beginning to sound like the Democrats, whining about their pet peeves such as immigration and pork, and completely ignoring the millions of people in Iraq who are depending on us.

And the Iraq and War on Terror rhetoric I've been hearing lately is counterproductive. I don't want to talk to the crazies at Kos, I want to talk to ordinary Americans who think treason rhetoric is over the top (Hannity isn't helping anyone) and who don't have their heads in the sand but simply want some reassurance.

These are the main memes that are out there:

We needed more troops.

McCain is echoing this which is part of the 'incompetence' meme that took over when 'Bush lied' didn't work.

We're fighting an insurgency in which the most important tool is intelligence, not troops. The men have to know where the bad guys are before they engage and the Iraqi people have to give us the information. Flooding the zone with foreign troops is quite frankly no way to win the hearts and minds of the people. The Arab culture is allergic to occupation and to them it has a special meaning far beyond what we consider valid.

So a massive number of troops after the initial take down of Saddam's regime would have been counterproductive. And heaven knows there have been mistakes where innocent Iraqis have been killed by Americans. More troops means more incidents, more targets, and less intelligence. It took a while as it was for the Iraqi people to come forward with fingers pointing to the bad guys.

And once the government was formed, it was important to bring the sunni insurgents into the political process, something that would have been even more difficult if there were thousands and thousands of American boots to plow through first before they would ever consider the political option.

That said, I can certainly see a few more feet on the ground, especially now. But certainly not the huge numbers that some critics have stated were necessary from the git go. It wouldn't have helped with Zarqawi. And certain areas of Iraq under tribal control were left alone which gave the tribal leaders a choice. Go with the violence and let your women and children be killed, or call on the Americans. They chose the latter. And the important thing to note was that it was their choice, it was not imposed upon them.

Anyway 'We needed more troops' is simply rhetoric and hindsight.

Iraq is in a civil war.

There is definitely sectarian violence and the situation in Baghdad is bad. But it is not civil war. For all the sectarian mayhem Zarqawi tried to force on the Iraqis, it didn't really work. The recent escalation started with the bombing of the holiest of the shia mosques back in the spring. Luckily we killed Zarqawi shortly after. But that bombing was the worst provocation possible to pit shia against sunni.

And it looks like it almost worked. But if you look closely you'll find that except for the baathist sunni, the insurgents fighting the 'occupation', the jihadis fighting the Americans and democracy, Sadr's gang and some other excitable shia, most Iraqis don't give a rip if you're sunni or shia.

Now the Americans have moved troops into Baghdad and the violence is beginning to settle down. But often when the Americans move in, the bad guys go into hiding. (I wonder why.) So what can you do? If the Americans leave, the bad guys will just start up again. But, wait. The Iraqi people, who don't hate us, are giving us the information about where the bad guys are hiding.

So I think we'll lick this. And the Iraqi police and troops seem to be doing their jobs!

Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror.

This is a meme that I don't hear much pushback on. It's noted and then the conversation turns elsewhere. I think because it's so difficult to explain. The Democrats have long tried to separate Iraq from the general war and put their little digs in every chance they get. It's a question often pushed in polls then the poll results are reported so eventually the meme gathers legs.

Withoug going into the complex reasons for Iraq, let me just say that if we were to leave Iraq without finishing what we set out to do the jihadi movement would be emboldened and declare victory over America. Bin laden's belief in our weakness would be vindicated.

It's not healthy for your enemies to believe you can be defeated.

So that makes Iraq a HUGE part of the war on terror.

Anyway, why do you think jihadis from around the globe converged on Iraq? Vacation?

Americans have turned against the war in Iraq.

Americans are unhappy about how long it's taking but Americans also know we can't just leave. They intuitively understand that Iraq IS a part of the war on terror and we can't just walk away.

Well, enough of that. I'll just end this by saying Americans and fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But the angels follow the Americans and help them make things right.

It's the American Way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

You'd never believe it

... but there is a very worthy post on Daily Kos.

Ann Althouse on Judge Taylor

A Law Unto Herself - New York Times: "If the words of the written opinion reveal that the judge did not follow the discipline of the judicial process, what sense does it make to take the judge’s word about what the law means over the word of the president? If the judge’s own writing does not support a belief that the rule of law has substance and depth, that law is something apart from political will, the significance of saying the president has gone beyond the limits of the law evaporates."

United Press International - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

United Press International - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "A Swedish Foreign Ministry report says Norwegian officials knew Iraq was demanding kickbacks from the U.N. 'Oil for Food' program.

But the report says Ole Peter Kolby, Norway's U.N. ambassador at the time and head of the sanctions committee, remained quiet for fear of angering Iraq and big companies involved in the program, Aftenposten said.


Henrik Thune of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs told Aftenposten that Kolby was caught between competing interests, including fear of fueling the push for war in the Bush administration if he revealed corruption in the Oil for Food program. "
General Synod's Life of Christ

The Black Knight of the Arab World

It seems there are some Arabs who have begun to see the light. I found this at site called Iraqpundit.

I've heard all I care to hear from Arab nationalists about "dignity," "honor," and especially about "victory." Iraqis have experienced precisely such victory. Saddam proclaimed himself the winner in the first Gulf War, remember? Western foreign-policy "realists" sought to "contain" him with sanctions, with the result that the West impoverished Iraqis even as Saddam massacred them. For years, we tried to try to tell Arab nationalists that the lives of Iraqis were a daily horror. What did they tell us in return, these people so profoundly dedicated to dignity and honor? They told us that Saddam Hussein was a great leader of the Arabs, and that we should stop whining.

Last month, three times as many civilians –- more than 3,500 of them -- were murdered in Iraq by the "resistance" as were killed during the fighting in Lebanon. Many of these Iraqis were killed by thugs who are on the very same payroll –- Tehran's -- as is Nasrallah. Is this random slaughter of Arabs by Arabs –- often at the behest of Iran -- consistent with vaunted honor and dignity?

Or perhaps, because each Iraqi death discomfits the U.S., these nationalists have been celebrating 3,500 more of their embarrassing "victories." After all, you can judge generations of these nationalists by their catastrophic heroes: Nasser, Arafat, Saddam, and now Nasrallah, whose victory is so complete that he may well spend his remaining years (months? weeks?) cowering in a series of basements.

The New York Times made a weak effort this weekend to address the Hezbollah phenomenon. The Times did mention the fact that Nasrallah is a Shiite, but the word "Iran" never appeared at all. Both "dignity" and "honor," however, made the cut. "The lesson learned by many Arabs from the war in Lebanon," the reporter wrote, "is that an Islamic movement, in this case Hezbollah, restored dignity and honor to a bruised and battered identity."

According to the piece, "Hezbollah’s perceived victory has highlighted, and to many people here validated, the rise of another unifying ideology, a kind of Arab-Islamic nationalism. On the street it has even seemed to erase divisions between Islamic sects, like Sunni and Shiite."

So sectarian divisions have been erased on the street, have they? Well, that street sure isn't in Iraq, is it? On Sunday, snipers (probably Sunnis) opened fire on Shiite pilgrims in Kadhum, killing 20 and injuring hundreds.

But hey, never mind Iraq! Never mind Iran! When the fighting in Lebanon stopped (or was interrupted; we'll see), Hezbollah was still tossing some of its wildly inaccurate missiles in Israel's general direction. Did some of those missiles keep landing on Arab neighborhoods in Haifa, and even in the West Bank? Never mind that, either! "Victory!"

Did you hear about the Shiite guy who stumbled out of his village in south Lebanon? As he made his way north, he had his right arm raised, with two fingers sticking up. A boy sitting on the rubble of what had once been his house watched him approach and asked, "Victory?" The man shook his head. "That's how many houses in my village are still standing."