Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I love a good line and this one is very good.

Jonah Goldberg had this to say about a movie I never heard of:

"The Sum of All Fears," is the 2002 film that started Ben Affleck's career on a downward glide-path to the center square on "Hollywood Squares."

Dietary Salt

The federal government has decided to make all of us pay for a program to tell us salt is no good. Actually it's the science that's no good.

The federal anti-salt bureaucracy launched expensive public service announcements that warn Americans to cut back on salt. The ads intoned, ominously, "You eat more than 20 times the salt your body needs."

Eat "no more than 2,400 milligrams a day," said Dr. Jeffrey Cutler, the official behind the government's anti-salt campaign.

Cutler decided that Americans should eat less salt because high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and eating less salt can lower blood pressure. It's a plausible theory, but it doesn't prove that less salt leads to less heart disease. Too many other things may be going on.

Many experts on blood pressure told us there isn't enough scientific research to justify the government's anti-salt campaign, and there definitely isn't enough to justify Cutler's 2,400-milligram limit.

"I can't imagine how they came up with that number. I mean, there isn't a single bit of evidence that suggests 2,400 milligrams is better than 2,100 or 3,700," said Dr. Michael Alderman, who headed the American Society of Hypertension, America's biggest organization of specialists in high blood pressure. He says some people should cut back on salt, but for most people, it's pointless. Some studies have found that those who ate the least salt were four times more likely to have heart attacks.

The problem with all this is several fold, but the main one for me is I have to endure my 91 year old Mother chastizing me when I salt my food because she heard on Good Morning America that salt is going to kill you.

More from Mark Steyn

Whenever I’m on a radio show these days, someone calls in and demands to know whether my children are in Iraq. Well, not right now. They range in age from five to nine, and though that’s plenty old enough to sign up for the jihad and toddle into an Israeli pizza parlour wearing a suicide-bomb, in most advanced societies’ armed forces they prefer to use grown-ups.

That seems to be difficult for the Left to grasp. Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterise them as ‘children’. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the Oval Office shagpile and chow down on Bill Clinton, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee ‘child’ who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.

Why I love Mark Steyn

Jared Diamond currently has a bestselling book called Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. A timely subject, so I bought a copy. More fool me. It's all about Easter Island going belly up because they chopped down all their trees. That's why they're not a G8 member. Same with the Greenlanders and the Mayans and Diamond's other curious choices of "societies". Indeed, as the author sees it, pretty much every society collapses because it chops down its trees.

Poor old Diamond can't see the forest because of his obsession with the trees. Russia is collapsing and it's nothing to do with deforestation. Conversely, Diamond's book is a huge bestseller with those who see it as a warning on the perils of excessive consumerism - even though, in fact, America returns land to the wilderness every year, and my own town is far more forested than it was in either 1905 or 1805. Diamond's book couldn't be any loopier than if he'd argued that deforestation of Arabia was responsible for September 11.


It is hard for me to watch and read about the devestation in the Gulf Coast and New Orleans without reminding myself how much of life hinges on choices we make as we go through life. It starts early when we accept the concept of studying and preparing for later life or sliding by with the wrong group of "friends". Later we choose mates, careers, family size, savings plans and a large number of other options. All of these choices have consequences and it is impossible to make all of them perfectly, but those who usually make the best choices usually fare better in life.

Today I read an article about how the rich and the poor in the U.S. differ in spending money on electronics. The poorer people spend about the same amount for large screen color TVs, DVDs, and other entertainment items as the more affluent. According to the census, less than 20% of the poor own a PC, and just 15% have access to the Internet and its vast treasure of knowledge. In contrast, 83% of upper-income Americans own at least one PC, and 74% are online. The poor simply choose the wrong tools for success. They could easily buy a basic Dell with Internet access for what they shell out on two color TVs or just one big-screen TV. But many opt not to.
It is a matter of priorities.

So, as I watch the hapless victims in New Orleans and Biloxi and other places on the gulf coast, I also listen to survivors who relate how they made the decision in face of the warnings to "ride it out" in their homes or elsewhere instead of leaving as everyone implored. As the disaster story unfolds we will learn how many others made the same decision and are not now alive to tell about it. Others will be forced to finish out their lives knowing they elected to stay and their children are no longer alive. Choices.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Just wondering

If this hurricane and its resultant damage to property and human lives had occurred anywhere else on earth, the U.S. would already have assistance on the way to help. Let's see who offers to help the victims on our Gulf Coast.

This sounds like the new, improved Vitamin E

I ran across an article on curcumin which is an active ingredient in tumeric. It is being studied as a treatment for a variety of diseases and a preventative for others. The studies are based on a reduced incidence of several diseases observed in India. Curcumin (present in curry) is cheap, widely available and has no known toxicities. It has been shown in preliminary studies to lower cholesterol, is an anti-inflammatory, and has Cox-2 inhibition properties like Vioxx and even some anti-cancer properties. Women in India cover themselves with tumeric to prevent wrinkles and mix it with milk to ease an upset stomach. The research currently being done is wide-spread and limited in that the doseage needed is not known. So before you run to the store to buy some, keep in mind that the amounts being used in an Alzheimer's study at UCLA is 4 grams per day. That is a bunch (something like 120 curry dinners per day). It seems to be an impressive antioxidant, however, and I will look into it further and will probably put what I find on this blog site.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Mark Steyn's Constitutional Analysis

The Shia get an acknowledgment that Islam is "the official religion of the state," just as the Church of England is the official church of that state -- though, unlike the Anglican bishops, Iraq's imams won't get permanent seats in the national legislature.

The Kurds get a loose federal structure in which just about everything except national defense and foreign policy is reserved to regions and provinces. I said in the week after Baghdad fell that the Kurds would settle for being Quebec to Iraq's Canada, and so they have.

The Sunnis, who ran Iraq from their days as Britain's colonial managing class right up to the toppling of Saddam, don't like the federal structure, not least because it's the Kurds and Shia who have the bulk of the oil. So they've been wooed with an arrangement whereby the country's oil revenue will be divided at a national level on a per-capita basis.

If you'd been asked in 2003 to devise an ideal constitution for Iraq's very non-ideal circumstances, it would look something like this: a highly decentralized federation that accepts the reality that Iraq is a Muslim nation but reserves political power for elected legislators -- and divides the oil revenue fairly.

And if it doesn't work? Well, that's what the Sunnis are twitchy about. If Baathist dead-enders and imported Islamonuts from Saudi and Syria want to make Iraq ungovernable, the country will dissolve into a democratic Kurdistan, a democratic Shiastan, and a moribund Sunni squat in the middle. And, in the grander scheme of things, that wouldn't be so terrible either.

To be sure, we shouldda done this, and we shouldda done that. Yet nonetheless Iraq advances day by day. The real quagmire is at home, where the kinkily gleeful relish of defeatism manifested by Cindy Sheehan, Joan Baez, Ted Kennedy et al. bears less and less relationship to anything happening over there. Iraq's future is a matter for the Iraqis now -- which, given the U.S. media, Democrat blowhards like Joe Biden and Republican squishes like Chuck Hagel, is just as well.

Relationships in the market place

The previous post and others about the crazy way people are financing housing has consequences for other things we may not realize immediately. For example, the machinists are striking Northwest Airlines because the company has asked them to take a wage and benefit cut so the company can continue to fly. The union called a strike without consulting members and now there is some discord in the ranks. The following shows why some union members are taking actions which continue to weaken the union movement.

Sue Dorr, who has spent eight years as an airplane cleaner in Detroit, said she began looking for work a month ago, anticipating that the union would go on strike. But, Ms. Dorr said, "I'm going to have to take two jobs just to keep my house."

Sue may not be successful in keeping her house and the union may not be able to convince its members that a strike which may lead to not only a job loss but a loss of your home is worth it.

This is pretty scary

New products give homeowners increasing leeway as to how much equity they can tap and how fast they can tap it. Credit cards that allow consumers to draw on their home equity loans are one such device.

CMG Financial Services, a mortgage company in San Ramon, Calif., introduced another tool this summer: a combination checking account and mortgage.

It works like this: Your paycheck is deposited into your account and immediately applied to your mortgage principal. Over the course of the month, as you spend money on food, gas and other necessities, the principal creeps back up. But the result is that your mortgage debt gets paid off more quickly.

That's the theory, at least. Of course, if you're indulgent, you can pay much less of your mortgage — like none. Any shortfall is added on to the principal.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Iraq Sunnis

Sunni Arabs are getting fed up with the terrorism, and lack of order in Sunni Arab areas. The contrast between the poverty stricken Sunni Arab areas, and the peaceful, and increasingly prosperous Kurdish and Shia Arab zones, is growing. Sunni Arab tribes are taking sides, and going to war with each other over this issue. That’s part of the problem with the deadlock over the new constitution. The other problem is that many Sunni Arabs really believe that they represent the majority of the population. Even those Sunni Arabs who know better, believe that the Sunni Arabs deserve more power, and oil income, than their 20 percent of the population justifies. The fact that Sunni Arabs have called the shots for centuries is something the Sunni Arabs just cannot give up, or at least not give up easily. At the same time, Sunni Arabs appear to be clueless when it comes to confronting their blood soaked past, and the fact that they grabbed most of the oil money for the past half century. Too many Sunni Arabs believe that reality does not apply to them.

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

This should be fun.

Men are more intelligent than women by about five IQ points on average, making them better suited for tasks of high complexity, according to the authors of a paper due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology.

Genetic differences in intelligence between the sexes helped explain why many more men than women won Nobel Prizes or became chess grandmasters, the study by Paul Irwing and Richard Lynn concludes.

They showed that men outnumbered women in increasing numbers as intelligence levels rose. There were twice as many with IQ scores of 125, typical for people with first-class degrees.

When scores rose to 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman.

Tularemia Outbreak

An outbreak of rabbit fever, or tularemia, a rare dangerous disease, registered recently in the Volga provinces of Central Russia, could have been caused by a leak from biological warfare facilities present in the area, a U.S. Website surmised Thursday.

Earlier this week, Russian news agencies reported on dozens of cases of tularemia registered in Russia since early August. From Aug. 4 as many as 96 people including 15 children sought medical assistance at hospitals in Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod and Ryazan.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mike Yon reports from Iraq

Everyone should read this report of action in Mosul. Absolutely amazing.

Swedes are really strange

The Malmo, Sweden library lets you borrow people to talk to for 45 minutes in an effort to overcome prejudice and discrimination. So, if you are sitting in a bar you can call up and ask for the library to send over a veiled Muslim woman, a gay, a gypsy, a hard-drug user, or whatever. The theory is by asking questions and carrying on a conversation for a while you will won't think negatively about such people in the future. If this catches on in other parts of Europe, some of us may have to go over there and let them talk to us to overcome anti-Americanism.

Mil;itary Enlistments

First time military enlistments are running a bit behind, another product of a burgeoning economy, but re-enlistments, even from soldiers in combat zones, are running ahead of expectations.

What does it mean when the guys in the thick of it, closest to the action, at risk, on the ground and looking at things with their own eyes, decide to stay for another hitch?

They must believe in what they're doing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

From IBD

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court this summer gave New London, Conn., the green light to seize private homes in the city’s Fort Trumbull area and sell them to a private developer. The developer plans to build houses, stores and offices where the homes now stand. The city claims the development qualifies as “public use” because it’ll generate more in local taxes than the homeowners will pay.
This alone is an outrage clearly inconsistent with our constitutional rights and liberties. But the barons of New London aren’t
Drunk with the power imbibed from the Kelo v. New London decision, they’re trying to collect back rent from the seven homeowners who fought the seizure, arguing they’ve lived on city property since 2000, the year the homes were condemned.
The New London Development Corp., front group for the city’s shakedown, is also
offering buyouts based on the market rate in 2000 instead of present-day value. Given the real estate boom, the difference is significant.
Some say New London’s decrees add insult to injury. Others call them childish vindictiveness. Either way, they’re unconscionably abusive and decidedly totalitarian.
According to the Fairfield County Weekly, some homeowners in this working-class (but unblighted) neighborhood will owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent. Matt Dery has been assessed more than $300,000. Susette Kelo, owner of the little pink house above, says her rent will be a more modest $57,000. But she’d still have to “leave here broke,” she told the newspaper.
The city also wants any money the homeowners made from tenants who rented their properties. In some cases, the rents are the homeowners’ lone source of income.
We have to keep reminding ourselves this is Connecticut, U.S.A., not Zimbabwe, Africa, where thug-in-chief Robert Mugabe has seized virtually every white-owned farm and pushed the country near starvation.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Our newest grandchild

Jackson Alexander Finley at 120 minutes

Saturday, August 20, 2005

This should work

BANGKOK (Reuters) - With Asian tourists still shunning its southern beaches, Thailand is calling in a revered Chinese sea goddess to ward off the restive spirits of the thousands who died in last December's tsunami.

A statue of Godmother Ruby, known as Mazu in Chinese, will be brought to the Thai island of Phuket from the Chinese coastal province of Fujian next month for ghost-clearing rites, said Suwalai Pinpradab of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

"After the tsunami, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Chinese and other East Asians dare not come because they don't want to visit places where mass deaths took place," Suwalai told Reuters on Friday. "It is inauspicious."

Mazu, a Taoist goddess of the sea, has a huge following among fishermen and shipworkers in coastal provinces of southern China and Taiwan.

Thailand's official death toll from the December 26 disaster stands at 5,395, of which 2,436 are believed to be foreigners. Of these, fewer than 50 were East Asians.

Bathing suit in Saudia Arabia

This is from an ad selling bathing suits to Saudi women. My wife and dermatologist would love them.

Smog in California

Standing around chewing the cud, cows don't look especially threatening. But dairy herds in California are the latest livestock to be branded an environmental health risk on account of their flatulent behavior.

This month government regulators issued a report identifying dairy cows as the main source of smog-forming pollutants in the San Joaquin Valley, California.

The announcement highlights growing concern over the global impact of greenhouse gases produced by cattle and other livestock.

A dairy cow annually emits almost 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of smog-forming gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—more than a car or light truck, according to the San Joaquin Valley United Air Pollution Control District.

Read all about this nonsense here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

China Gas Lines

The picture I put up yesterday showing gasoline lines in China got me to wondering what the problem was and it turns out the problem is fairly simple. China went the Jimmy Carter route. In the 70's Carter put on price controls in an effort to fight inflation. Not only that, he also added a "windfall profits tax" on oil and gas producers. China is doing the same. O.K. now here is the question. If the price of a barrel of oil in China is held $10 below the actual world price, where will the Chinese oil firms sell their oil? Bingo!!!

When Reagan became President the first thing he did was immediately repeal all Carter-era oil and gas controls and the excess profits tax. Oil prices went to their natural market value and through the magic of market forces, production rose, consumption fell and prices began to decline.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Gas lines in China-August 18,2005

I am not sure how much it costs when these drivers get to buy gas, but I am glad to be paying $2.50 per gallon in comparison.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Who would have thought?

Only about half of this year's high school graduates have the reading skills they need to succeed in college, and even fewer are prepared for college-level science and math courses, according to a yearly report from ACT, which produces one of the nation's leading college admissions tests.
Read the whole story here

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cleaning up the mess

I should have known better than to call RU-486 a morning-after pill since it is actually a true abortiofacient drug which terminates confirmed pregnancies rather than block implantation of newly fertilized eggs. My main point remains intact, however.

Why I own stock in Syneron

Syneron makes a product called VelaSmooth. It sells for $65,000 and physicians, primarily gynecologists, buy it. They use it on women at a cost of $150 per visit and most women need 16 treatment sessions and then maintenance treatments every 3 to 4 months. Most doctors can generate $22,000 to $25,000 per MONTH with VelaSmooth so it gets paid for in 3 months and then the rest is gravy. Furthermore, the treatments are not reliant on insurance company payments. The women pay after each visit. Why do they do this? VelaSmooth combines radio and laser to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The symbol of this company is ELOS.

Something to keep in mind

During World War II the Japanese military sent 4,000 young, inexperienced pilots up in obsolete aircraft with a 250 pound bomb to perform as martyrs and, similar to today's terrorists, give themselves up for the "cause". By war's end, the U.S. had credited Kamikaze pilots with sinking 34 Navy ships and damaging 368 others. Some 4,900 sailors were killed and about the same number were wounded. The present war started with the greatest Kamikaze attack of all time on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which killed almost 3,000 people. Now we must see if our nation can perserveer as we did in the previous war.

Law suits and adverse drug outcomes

Here is something to watch for in coming weeks. What happens when a drug, approved by the FDA, suddenly has some unexpected deaths associated with its use? Think of Vioxx. This is an antiinflammatory drug taken by persons with painful arthritis and in a few cases patients had heart attacks and died. What happened next is being acted out in a court room where Merck is being sued by trial lawyers for humongous damages on behalf of "victims" and others who took the drug but did not die and are also going to be included in law suits to come.
Now we have a situation where 4 women who took RU-486 out of 400,000 who have taken the drug since 2000 have died of infections which are very closely attributable to having taken the drug. RU-486 has a controversial history since it is well-known as the "morning-after" pill which blocks pregnancy if taken soon after intercourse. The anti-abortion position was that the drug would be misused and was dangerous to women who took it. In fairness, however, they also opposed it on moral grounds as being an abortion pill. Since this was the anti-abortion position, the liberals defended it and got it approved by the FDA. The pro-abortion crowd is now fighting to get it approved as an over the counter drug.
Here is what we need to watch for. Will the trial lawyers yield to their liberal instincts and leave the drug alone or will they yield to their greedy instincts and sue to have the drug be withdrawn and the manufacturer pay through the news?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Report from Iraq

It's been nearly a year since a gang has been able to attack and capture a police station. The cops know how to call in reinforcements, including American ground troops and air support. In response, the gangs increasingly turn to murdering and kidnapping individual police. But this sometimes backfires when the cops go after relatives of the criminals. This is an old Middle Eastern practice. Kill a cop, and the police will lock up your mother until you turn yourself in. The outlaws are at a big disadvantage once the police come to town, build police stations that cannot be captured, and establish the capability to arrest people. Law and order changes the way the war is being fought. The gangsters are increasingly making desperate and spectacular attacks with bombs and ambushes, failing to shake the cops, and then fleeing to the shrinking number of towns without police stations. The Iraqi police are taking more casualties than the Americans, but the cops are winning the war, one neighborhood at a time.
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Mortgage Problems Ahead??

I knew that many folks were taking out adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) which will result in higher monthly payments if interest rates go up--which they are doing at the lower end and long rates should follow. That would scare me, but I recently read of a home mortgage product called an option ARM that would terrify me. With an option ARM, the borrower has the option to make minimal monthly payments which are below what interest only loans would be. This means that the balance of what is owed keeps going up even if rates stay the same. This is called negative amortization. It also means that if interest rates go up beyond what is manageable for the borrower and there is a coincident decrease in home values (don't believe it can't happen), the so-called owner will be forced to sell at a loss or simply walk away and let the lender have the house. If this happens on a large scale, the victims will not only be the borrowers and the lending institutions, but all of us will suffer since Congress will step in and bail everyone out with our money.

Sylvester Graham

This week's U.S. News and World Report has an interesting series of stories about food in the U.S. It makes the point that Americans are fascinated by food and I am a good example of that, I guess. One of the stories described the contribution of Sylvester Graham who invented the Graham cracker. He was a food fanatic of his day and believed that if we ate what Adam and Eve ate, we would be in physiological balance as nature intended. This ruled out meat, shellfish, salt, spices, sugar, coffee, tea, and alcohol. He was especially keen on controlling sexual urges through diet---especially masturbation. He felt that you need to avoid foods that stay in the body for a long time since they become fermented, turned to alcohol and this leads to nervous irritability and eroticism. This lead him to develop his own high fiber wheat flour from which he made his famous Graham cracker and, of course, we have now adopted his belief in high fiber diets even though I doubt many of us are selecting foods to suppress urges.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Australian in Al Qaeda

There was a documentary released last week by the terrorists with links to or in Al Qaeda which differed from others in that at least one segment was in English by a person with an Australian accent. It has now been established that his name is Mathew Stewart and this is his background:

Private Mathew Stewart was patrolling the streets of Dili, East Timor, in 2002 when he was confronted with the full horror of live combat.

The quiet soldier and keen surfer from Queensland's Sunshine Coast stumbled upon the almost unrecognisable body of a Dutch journalist killed by militia.

Financial Times reporter Sander Thoenes, 30, had been shot in the chest and badly beaten. According to his comrades, Stewart was deeply traumatised by the discovery, his first encounter with death on the front line.

He was discharged from the army's 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment for psychological reasons a short time later, sending him into a spiral of depression and self-doubt.

While other East Timor veterans looked for a change of lifestyle back home, Stewart began fixing his sights on the war unravelling in Afghanistan in the wake of the attacks on New York the previous year.

Furious at his perceived mistreatment in the Australian army, Stewart began making plans to fight for the other side.

This makes one wonder about the intelligence communities claim that it would have been impossible to infiltrate Al Qaeda. If an Australian soldier can walk in and join, surely we could find someone to get in there. Or maybe we have.

What happens when you elect a German Pope

WWF International Issues Climate Conclusions

European Union to set tougher targets for emissions of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide.

...13 of the 16 cities surveyed were at least one degree Celsius higher than during the first five years of the 1970s, the environmental organisation said.

There is a trend of increasing summer temperatures and that is due to global warming.

Certainly urban areas are experiencing climate change. But it’s a micro-climate change due to a well documented phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect.

Air in urban areas is often 6-8 degrees hotter than in surrounding rural areas. The abundance of dark surfaces in urban areas absorb heat and the minimal vegetation limits the shade required to mitigate such effects. The urban heat island effect is blamed for increased energy use, and therefore, increased emissions.

The answer is not to tighten emissions standards and control “global warming,” but to apply common sense urban design. Urban development should utilize to the greatest extent feasible heat reflective materials on surfaces and roofs. The EPA recommends the use of building materials that turn traditional heat absorbing surfaces “cool” or “green.” Not only would urban areas be cooler, but they would be improved aesthetically.

Unions vs. Wal-Mart

Teachers union members are trying to persuade consumers to boycott Wal-Mart. The campaign claims Wal-Mart pays low wages, fails to provide affordable health care, discriminates against women, violates child labor laws and shifts "more than $2.5 billion a year in health care and welfare costs for its underpaid and underinsured workers to U.S. taxpayers," reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Retail employees don't make much money, but presumably they prefer a low-wage job to the alternative. Most Wal-Mart employees work full-time and average $9.68 an hour, the company says. Health benefits start at $35 a month. Wal-Mart gave $45 million last year to teachers and students, in addition to selling low-cost school supplies.

So why is Wal-Mart any worse than any other retailer? Don Dawson, a math teacher at Silver Creek High School in San Jose, said the Walton Family Foundation -- run by the heirs of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart -- has spent about $250 million in the past six years promoting the school-voucher movement and lobbying for tax credits for parents who send their kids to private schools.

I guess that explains it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Britain getting smart according to Michael Barone

British opinion since the July 7 bombings will have noticed that "multiculturalism" is under sharp attack. Tony Blair has spoken favorably about multiculturalism. But on July 7, he struck a different note. "It is important, however, that the terrorists realize our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause the death and destruction of innocent people and impose their extremism on the world."
Writers in other tolerant countries have been noticing the blowback from multiculturalism. The Dutch novelist Leon de Winter wrote that as traditional Calvinist discipline frayed and Muslim immigrants rejected Dutch tolerance, "the delicate mechanism of Holland's traditional tolerant society gradually lost its balance."

Multiculturalism is based on the lie that all cultures are morally equal. In practice, that soon degenerates to: All cultures are morally equal, except ours, which is worse. But all cultures are not equal in respecting representative government, guaranteed liberties and the rule of law. And those things arose not simultaneously and in all cultures, but in certain specific times and places -- mostly in Britain and America, but also in various parts of Europe.

In America, as in Britain, multiculturalism has become the fashion in large swathes of our society. So the Founding Fathers are presented only as slaveholders, World War II is limited to the internment of Japanese-Americans and the bombing of Hiroshima. Slavery is identified with America, though it has existed in every society and the antislavery movement arose first among English-speaking evangelical Christians.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Random Thoughts

My bride and I were in St. Maartens last year and we heard that the airport was on the coast and landings brought the planes in right over the beach. Here is confirmation of that.
  1. I am not sure what the mission is for our shuttle program on paper, but it seems like the primary objective now seems to be a launch followed by a long repair process with the hope that the crew can get back alive.
  2. I read a good description of the current real estate market in some areas--especially the one I have been playing with the last few months. It is like a flock of chickens. If you put out a pan of big food scraps, the chickens come running and the first ones pick up a big piece and depart quickly...the others see the pieces in the beak, and instead of realizing there's plenty more in the pan, they chase the hens who got the first pieces. That is the resale psychology.
  3. The female teacher in New York who is accused of raping her male students will be prosecuted in the same way as a male teacher would be who raped female students....according to the D.A. Nonsense. In the first place none of the so-called victims in this case filed charges and I doubt any of them would call the experience "victimization".
  4. My understanding is we need to watch to see if Iraq comes up with a constitution which gives the 3 sectarian sections of the country strong powers with a weak central government or if the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia sections are weak relative to the central government. I am not sure they will be able to avoid a civil war in any event.
  5. I admit I am no Brad Pitt, but I am not sure I would give up Jennifer Anniston for one of Billy Bob Thornton's rejects.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Americans With Disabilities

I have always had problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That is not a very popular position, but I guess I am enough Libertarian to believe that the market would have done the same thing if left alone. Merchants would have provided access to their stores and parking places without the government getting involved and as a result concocting all kinds of ridiculous rules to hamper small businesses in particular. Well, now we are getting ready to have some new laws as a result of a review of existing practices by the Department of Justice. There is a guy named Banerjee who is a paraplegic due to an automobile accident and he is now asking that ALL public golf courses be required to provide special golf carts with swing-out seats which would allow him to swing at a ball while seated. Obviously, this will impose a hugh financial burden to many courses and guess who will be required to pay for the carts which will be seldom if ever used?
There are other changes being contemplated. The blind are asking for ATM machines which have audio capabilities so they can operate them independently. With such a machine a user plugs headphones into a jack and a computerized voice guides the customer through the transaction by pointing out where the buttons are.
Finally, the National Association of Manufacturers is concerned about proposals which would require wheelchair accessible routes even in areas where the public is not permitted--such as the plants work floor.
All this is fairly typical of government gone wild, I think.

Show Us the Scientific Data

The Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is Joe Barton of Texas. He recently requested that three noted climate scientists provide data related to their claim that climate changes and global warming require tens of billions of new taxpayer money. This research, by the way was heavily funded by federal taxes and by other sources which could have had a political stake in the outcome of the researchers claims....namely the U.N. and the Pew Center on Climate Change.
Barton asked Universtiy of Virginia's Michael Mann to share the data and the methodologies they used to come to the conclusion that the 20th Century was the warmest of the past two millenniums and also the source o the funding of their research. This has been called a witch hunt despite the fact that the issue of whether human carbon dioxide emissions cause any significant amount of greenhouse gasses is still the object of intense debate among scientists. Mann's research popularized his theory that shows nearly 1000 years of relatively stable temperatures followed by an abrupt upturn in temperatures in the latter part of the 20th century. This is the well-known "hockey stick" graph. Six teams of scientists published critiques of this work and showed that Mann omitted key data and misinterpreted other data. Mann's team later issued a partial "correction" conceding it had underestimated temperature variations by more than 33% since 1400, but stated the major error did not affect his conclusions. At the same time, Mann's team adamantly refused other, more skeptical scientists the right to review the raw data or the methods they used to arrive at their conclusions. Without that information, it is impossible to determine if Mann's research is valid and Congressman Barton is doing exactly what he should to insist on full disclosure before spending more of our money on such a boondoggle.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Leno on O.J.

  • In Florida, a judge has found O.J. Simpson guilty of stealing satellite TV and ordered him to pay DirecTV $25,000 in back charges. We are finally getting tough on celebrities in this country.
  • Were you shocked? I knew he was a murderer, I didn’t know he was a thief. I was stunned.
  • I just hope this one incident doesn’t ruin O.J.’s reputation.
  • Howard Dean

    This man is really an idiot. Most recently he loudly blamed the widely unpopular Kelo decision which allowed the taking of property by some town in Conneticutt for private developers on Bush. He said it was "Bush's right wing Supreme Court". Not only has Bush not named any of the current court, but the only dissention to the decision were by Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist, and O'Connor. You won't read about this in any of the MSM, by the way.

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