11

2003-11 posts.

  1. I Must Be An Alien. RE: Politics.
  2. 2003-11-12. RE: Politics. Fun. Family.
  3. En Guarde!. RE: Swords.
  4. 2003-11-13. RE: Philosophy. Politics. Web. Fun.
  5. 2003-11-14. RE: Blogging. Computers. Politics. Science. Web. Writing. zMisc.
  6. A Day At Navy Pier. RE: Family.
  7. 2003-11-19t17:35:24Z. RE: Fun. Politics. Bush. Israel. Tech.
  8. 2003-11-20t22:54:24Z. RE: Money. Politics. Tech. .NET.
  9. 2003-11-21t23:24:06Z. RE: Blogging. Music. Politics. Abortion. Sex. Iraq War. Science.
  10. Why Geo sounds so nuts to us. RE: Politics.
  11. The Medicare Shuffle. RE: Politics.
  12. 2003-11-28t20:48:56Z. RE: Fun. Green. Politics. Tech.
  13. 2003-11-30t00:15:47Z. RE: Bush. Fun. Marriage. Politics. Tech.
  14. 2003-11-30t23:57:42Z. RE: Bush. Faith. Tech.

2003-11-04t18:52:34Z | RE: Politics.
I Must Be An Alien

I must be an alien because I have these antennas (see them?) on my head that go up whenever people say something like "Liberal media". Is it really?

If by "liberal media" you mean that the media is free from bigotry and is broad-minded enough to explore as well as scrutinize "The Establishment", the traditional, the orthodox, the prevalent dogma, then you are correct. That is the job of the media. Journalists are taught and adhere to the Journalist's Creed. Journalists must be fair and objective, but they must also scrutinize and watchdog. I am quite happy to hear multiple views when I get my news, even if I disagree with the view points discussed.

However if by "Liberal media", you mean that the media in general is Liberal biased, then I say that it's not.

  • Obviously there are biased elements in the general media (like Paul Krugman for Liberals or Robert Novak for Conservatives), but those folks are Op-Ed columnists: they're supposed to take sides. Whenever an issue or case is discussed, you need a debater who will strongly represent that particular aspect of the case.
  • It is insulting to the majority of professional journalists. American journalists are like other American workers: hard working people who provide a great service to the public. American journalist are like other American citizens: free people who love their country. American journalists are varied and talented people who should have the freedom to explore issues.
  • If the media was so Liberal, then Clinton would not have gotten so much bad press and Bush would not have gotten so much good press.
  • Media is owned by corporations who have Conservative issues. However most of the bosses understand that their venue would lose credibility if they became biased, and hence they try to be fair and balanced: unless of course their target audience is biased.
  • News is a business
    • Generate content that is cheap, fast, and easy to make.
    • Generate what the consumers (and hence the advertisers) want:
      • Emotional content: sex, violent, scandalous, sad, thrilling, etc.
      • Content that is cheap, fast, and easy to consume.
      • Fresh "live" content.
      • Popular opinions, i.e. follow the pack, the majority, the trend, the popular.
  • It may be easy to sell to a focused and zealous market (EGs: Just Conservatives or just Liberals or just children), but the downside is you'll have a smaller share of the overall market.

As an example, let's look at the situation in Iraq.

  • A simple model is that Conservatives will say that things are going well and that Liberals will say that things are going badly. Well the answer is both: lots of things are happening regarding Iraq. There are actual facts.
  • A more complex model might say that a biased media will spin the happenings in Iraq towards their ends. Well, some media companies out there actually are biased, and they will indeed spin. EG: Fox News is just as obviously Conservative-biased as "infotainers" Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. Fox content is tightly controlled by top management via a daily memo. The news sources that Fox references has far more Conservatives than others.
  • An even more complex model would say that the media in general will follow Journalistic ethics but is very influenced by the business needs.
    • Fact: There are US deaths in Iraq; Rebuilding Iraq is a hard and expensive job. Viewers and Journalists are struck by the emotions of this. Hence stories on the tough times in Iraq sell.
    • Fact: There are fewer US deaths in Iraq (100s) than there were in Vietnam (1,000s); Democracy in Iraq is budding. Now that the US is in Iraq, we are inextricably involved and we are obligated to finish the job that we started. The public knows this, Congress knows this (they OK'd $87 billion), and there are stories on this, but they're not as exciting and they are not top stories.

My take.

  • The political aspects of Iraq have more to do with the timing of our entry into Iraq, rather than what we are doing now.
    • The Right said we had an urgent need to oust Saddam Hussein.
    • The Left and the UN agreed but not on the urgency.
    • The Right went ahead anyway.
    • The Left would have felt more righteous about US deaths if the Right, the Left, and the UN had agreed about the timing of the entry. So now the Left is against the Right instead of with the Right (like during the Afghanistan).
  • Terrorism or no:
    • Is the US in the business of regime changing or forcibly converting countries into Democracies? Apparently. (Thank you neo-cons.)
    • Do we have the power to do so? Going into the war we thought so. But now we see that it's not that easy post war.
    • Did we have the right to do so unilaterally and pre-emptively? On principle: no.
    • Do we feel clean like we did during WWI, WWII, Gulf War I, and Afghanistan? No.
    • Or does it feel more like Vietnam? Yes.
    • Could we have felt clean if we had pushed harder to convince the Left and the UN to go in? Yes.
    • Can we change the past? No.
    • Should we finish the job in Iraq? Yes.
    • Can we make sure mistakes like this don't happen again? Yes: If we elect a President who can deal with globalization and realize that China, Russia, India, and the EU cannot be brushed aside.
    • Is Rumsfeld's method of asking questions and then answering them himself annoying? Yes.
    • Do I judge Rumsfeld's content because of it? No.
  • If I were to choose a country to make into the Philippines of the MidEast I might have chosen Iraq too: Good oil, good location, relatively secular population, didn't quite finish the job in Gulf War 1, etc. Of course we have the moral authority to do so because of White Man's Burden, gobs of WMDs, a pre-emptive policy that everyone else should implement too, the obvious link between Iraq and Al Queda, our super UN blessings, and our God can kick Allah's ass.
  • No one, not even the archaeologists, have a good count of the antiquities lost. 1000s have been lost and 1000s have been recovered. National Geographic of course has been covering it. There are many sites (not just museums) that need protection from looting. I'm surprised that the US Army didn't utilize archaeologists more since they have intimate knowledge of the terrain, history, and languages. They also have personal contacts there in order to do their work. Instead the archeologists have to really struggle with the US military. But guys like Lawrence of Arabia were completely insignificant eh?
  • I'm using way too many bullets!

Mere repetition of a story is insufficient. Natural memes are fine but even they need constant scrutiny. Fabricated memes, i.e. propaganda, must be watched very carefully. EG: Some people cannot say "media" anymore, they can only say "Liberal media". Some people are unaware that they are parroting a phrase that has been impressed upon them through constant repetition. They have been brain-washed and ditto-headed. As William James said: "There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough." I'm tired of the Right whining and complaining about the "Liberal media" anytime a story comes up that doesn't agree 100% with what they want to hear.

  • Can a viewer distinguish unbiased media from biased media?
  • Can a viewer distinguish between serious journalism and infotainment?
  • Can a viewer distinguish between news and propaganda?
  • Can a viewer tell when he or she is being manipulated, either rationally or emotionally?

Who can say? The only thing a good viewer can do is get a variety of sources, insist on verification of facts, scrutinize logical arguments, beware of emotional influences, think for himself or herself, and stay skeptical. Lastly, a good viewer also needs to be vigilant about his or her own personal biases. That includes me too.

2003-11-12t21:51:52Z | RE: Politics. Fun. Family.
2003-11-12

I've promised this before but I'm going try it again: I will to put the interesting links that I find directly in my blog instead of on the side of my front page.

  • Politics
    • Report Warns Iraqis Supporting Resistance. There seems to  be a top-level intelligence report that more Iraqis are losing faith in the US forces in Iraq. A very odd report since this is not the picture that the White House is painting. R1
    • The Health and Environmental Costs of War on Iraq (PDF). "There has been a reported increase in maternal mortality rates, acute malnutrition has almost doubled, and there is an increase in water-borne diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases". BBC on the report. "... between 22,000 and 55,000 people - mainly Iraqi soldiers and civilians - died as a direct result of the war." ::: Hmm have we killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein yet?
    • Ending Political Turmoil, Palestinians Approve Cabinet. Funny but Yasir Arafat is still in charge. Isn't it about time that people accept the fact that this guy isn't going away? I've said it before but Israel needs to simply pull out the settlement, take down the security barriers from questionable areas, etc. to give themselves clear moral power. Petty bickering and bartering for territory and eye-for-an-eye military tactics has not worked for years. Israel needs to give Palestine what it needs, and if terrorism (via Hamas, etc.) persists, then Israel has clear rights to declare open war.
    • Soros's Deep Pockets vs. Bush. George Soros has given over $15 million towards defeating Bush: $10M to AmericaComingTogether.com, $5M to MoveOn.org, and $3M to CenterForAmericanProgress.org. This is good news considering that Bush has more campaign money then the top 5 Democratic candidates [Ref]. Excerpts from the article:
      • "America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," Soros said. Then he smiled: "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."
      • "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans." It conjures up memories, he said, of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit ("The enemy is listening"). "My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me," he said in a soft Hungarian accent.
      • Neoconservatives, Soros said, are exploiting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a preexisting agenda of preemptive war and world dominion. "Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God," Soros said. "He's leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence."
    • "Reasons Not to Invade Iraq", by George Bush Sr. I've mentioned before that his own dad was against him but this should helps cement that.
    • US goods set to double in price as Europe plans huge trade war. Nah, we don't need the UN or any of its members do we, Bush?
  • Fun
    • Kasparov 'forced' to draw with X3D Fritz. Gary Kasparov is just getting used to the virtual 3D format and speaking his moves. That fluff is adds nothing to the game. If anything it is close to cheating. EG: How about making Gary play naked? Or how about overheating the computer circuits? At this stage of computer evolution, my intuition tells me that exceptional humans still have the edge over computers.
    • Catapult Game. Simple but sophisticated fun: Adjust the power and the angle to hit your target.
    • Shrek2.com. 2004-05-21 is coming soon!
    • The Grinch Who Stole Linux. Hehe. Give it up SCO!
    • Mom Finds Out About Blog. "This blog is like porn for her." Of course I'm doing my blog on the assumption that my mom will never read it either.
    • Infamous foul ball to pop up at auction. Poor Steve Bartman: the Lawyer who was sitting next to him ended up with the ball and is now going to auction it off and it might go for big bucks.
  • Family
    • We're starting to plan a family trip to the Philippines sometime in 2004-06. It will be my first time back there since I was four years old. It should be fun going with my wife, my two kids (who will be 5¾ and 3¼ then), as well as my mom and dad. It will be good to see my dad's mom, Remedios.

2003-11-12t21:56:55Z | RE: Swords.
En Guarde!

I've been thinking about getting back into an exercise program for a few years now, since 1999: I couldn't raise an infant, work, and teach karate so I retired karate after 13 long hard years. At retirement I was roughly 135 lbs (61.4 kg) with a resting heart rate of 48 beats/sec; Now I'm 160 lbs (72.7 kg) with a HR of 66. Back then I hardly ever got sick but I've noticed in the past few months that I seem to catch colds fairly often.

For a long while I debated with myself: Should I go back to karate or move forward to something new? I've decided to do something new. I saw an episode, "Swords of the Musketeers" (first aired 2003-03-20), on the History Channel series called Conquest. I blogged about it in August. After doing some reading and checking schedules, I finally managed to visit some fencing schools here in Chicago.

I first visited the CFC (ChicagoFencingClub.com). They focus on OSF (Olympic Style Fencing). I watched a class by USFA certified Diana Unger. It seemed like a fun and yet serious course. There were perhaps eight students in the class. The class consisted of going over basic footwork and swordplay, followed up by donning uniform and sword and practicing with each other. I was very interested after watching.

Two weeks later I visited the CSG (ChicagoSwordplayGuild.com). They focus on HES (Historical European Swordplay). I didn't catch the instructor's name at the time but he was a tall bearded fellow. Merely walking into the class almost pretty much made the decision for me. The class was format was similar as far as going over material unarmed and armed, as well as solo and partnered. The main difference is between the swords: OSF uses sports swords, HES uses real swords. OSF is also faster and more athletic whereas HES is more careful and guarded.

The basic stance is simple.

  • For right-handed folks it is a right-foot forward short and high stance with both knees slightly bent.
  • In karate terms it is fighting version of a combination front and back stance.
  • The left hand was positioned to cover the body.

The stepping consisted of these kinds:

  • Cross over stepping.
  • Lagging foot shuffling.
  • Leading foot shifting.
  • No regular stepping. I assume the lunge will be covered in later classes.

Here are some of the key foot work points:

  • Maintain balance and mobility. Flex the knees. Keep control of center of gravity. Back upright.
  • Don't stumble over yourself. Watch the cross-overs and your toes.
  • Avoid having even fractions of your back side to your opponent.

Three evasions were practiced in combinations with the stepping:

  • Right evasion. Lead foot shift to the side but end up facing opponent.
  • Left evasion. Lag foot shift to the side but end up facing opponent.
  • Pivot evasion. Weight on lead foot while pivoting body (to avoid a thrust) and moving lag foot behind. This was an odd evasion.

The salute is done with the sword:

  • Pull the sword out.
  • Lift the sword so the cross-guard is beneath your eyes and the sword is pointing up.
  • Slash the sword downward from left to right and end up pointing 45° downward and rightward.

Four guard positions were covered. All the guards had the sword pointing at your opponents face.

  • 12:00. Palm to the right. This is the first position since your hand is up in the sky when the sword is drawn.
  • 3:00. Palm down.
  • 6:00. Palm to the left.
  • 9:00. Palm up. This is the only guard where the elbow was significantly bent.

2003-11-13t22:35:33Z | RE: Philosophy. Politics. Web. Fun.
2003-11-13

Hmm I'm finding that this dumping of links in my blog instead of the sidebar isn't that hard at all. I like how it dates all the links and how I actually have room to make micro-comments.

2003-11-14t23:18:57Z | RE: Blogging. Computers. Politics. Science. Web. Writing. zMisc.
2003-11-14

Over the next few days I will be going over my back log links (300+) so there will be older links intermixed with the freshest stuff.

  • Blogging
    • Notes as I go over the backlog of links:
      • It's funny to see the links that are no longer relevant or were only good for posting when the link was new.
      • I'm not bothered too much by dead links, but I am more irritated by links that used to be free when fresh but aren't when they have been moved to the archives. It's sort of acceptable for commercial sites but not from anything .gov, .edu, .org, or the like.
      • There is stuff that I am storing in the blog which I would have filee away in my website before. It is easier: sort of like stuffing photos in one big box. I wonder if it will create an organizational headache later?
  • Computers
  • Politics
    • Hold the Vitriol. "A new report from the Pew Research Center says that America is more polarized now than at any time since its polling series began in 1987. Partly that's because it used to be just the Republicans who were intense in their beliefs, while now both sides are frothing." ::: The 2000 Presidential election was so close because Bush and Gore were supposed to be very similar in views. But as it turns out Bush lied and he is actually far Right. So it's all Bush's fault once more.
    • The Court Transcript of Fox Lawsuit Against Franken. 'Of course, it is ironic that a media company that should be seeking to protect the First Amendment is seeking to undermine it by claiming a monopoly on the phrase "fair and balanced." The motion for a preliminary injunction is denied. We are adjourned.'
    • The Professor Takes the Gloves Off. An interview with Paul Krugman of the NY Times.  Krugman: 'I end up quoting Henry Kissinger because his writings gave me the key to why it's so hard for people -- even liberals -- to accept what's going on. He wrote about how when faced with a revolutionary power -- who really doesn't accept the rules of the game, the legitimacy of the system -- people who have been accustomed to the stability make excuses. They say: "Oh, well, they may talk that way but they don't really mean it. If we give them some partial concessions we can appease them, they'll be satisfied and all of this stuff would stop." That's exactly what's been happening now. '
    • Dead Woman Who Accused Bush of Rape. How convenient. Of course if the media was truly Left-biased, then a story like this would have gotten much more coverage. If anything this is a sign of a the Right's dominance in media.
    • Howard Dean's Unlikely Road To a Major Boost From Labor.  The 2 largest unions of the AFL-CIO (the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) are backing Howard Dean. Very nice for Dean. He now has a far lead for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
    • 'We could lose this situation'. "The White House yesterday drew up emergency plans to accelerate the transfer of power in Iraq after being shown a devastating CIA report warning that the guerrilla war was in danger of escalating out of US control."
    • Five champions of nonviolence. Bush is markedly different from guys like Mahatma Ghandi and Jimmy Carter.
      1. Martin Luther King Jr.
      2. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
      3. Nelson Mandela.
      4. Aung San Suu Kyi.
      5. César Chávez.
    • 10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq. This was from 2003-06-07 but still applicable.
    • OpenGov.Media.MIT.edu. "To empower citizens by providing a single, comprehensive, easy-to-use repository of information on individuals, organizations, and corporations related to the government of the United States of America." ::: Find info about government officials lightning fast.
    • "Bring 'Em On?" 'A Former Special Forces Soldier Responds to Bush's Invitation for Iraqis to Attack US Troops'
    • What Happened to Conservatives? Conservatives have been hi-jacked by neoconservatives and regular conservatives either don't notice this or don't want to notice this.
  • Science
    • Watch The Elegant Universe. The PBS Nova mini-series on String Theory is viewable online. The series is 3 hours long but each hour is broken into 8 chapters, each of which can be viewed independently.
    • A study says that humans came very close to extinction 70,000 years ago when there were only 2,000 people. What a time that must have been! s1 s2.
    • The heavens giving us the finger
    • Now and then I search the Web for "How to make a bomb". This search typically turns up stuff like how to make actual make-shift bombs, the basics of constructing an atomic bomb, anarchist rants, profanity, and noise.
  • Web
    • TheInternetIsShit.org. I'm surprised this is still up.
      • Yes, there is life beyond the Internet.
      • Yes, there is a lot of crap on the Internet. However I trust ourselves to find the better stuff.
      • Yes, massively linking does not necessarily equate to knowledge. I'm guilty.
  • Writing
  • zMisc

2003-11-16t22:30:31Z | RE: Family.
A Day At Navy Pier

Just now I laid my two kids down to sleep. They fell asleep in the car after spending the day having fun with their dad. Their mom is working until 7 tonight so I took the kids out for some fun. We were on our way to renew our membership at the Field Museum but on the way there they mentioned the Charlie Brown exhibit at the Children's Museum at Navy Pier.

Of course there's the $18 dollar parking but as a Chicagoan I've come to expect that whenever I visit the museums so my heart hardly skipped a beat. Navy Pier is certainly a much livelier place than it was a few years ago. A few years ago there were shops and stuff but it was sprawling and hardly anyone was there. These days Navy Pier is busy and colorful. There are more shops, more activities. We walked from parking door #2 at the west end to the end of the pier and back. The journey consisted of letting them do what they want and not letting them do what they want.

The first part of getting past the shops was relatively difficult because they wanted to touch everything and go everywhere. I liked the Smith Museum of Stained Glass but the kids (Connie at 5 and York at 2.5) were entirely unimpressed. They were actually resistant to going outside when we got towards the end of the pier but once they got there they liked it. We looked through the telescopes, climbed up 8 ton anchor from the USS Chicago, and stood up on the ledges listening to our shouts and the echoes in some spots. The temperature was cool but not cold (probably 50° or 10°C). There was a slight mist and little puddles all over that the kids loved splashing in.

I enjoyed the remoteness of the location. Here we are, a short jot from skyscrapers, but the view at the end of the pier is nothing but Lake Michigan and the ball room. The water was soft but active. A bird flew just above the water for a length of several throws. I felt that if I were I a good swimmer I could swim out to the water breaks and the light house. It was quiet except for the occasional murmur of the few other visitors, the light wind, and something gently clanking with the rhythm of the waves. As a city dweller with kids and someone who works around the constant hum of computers, this gift of quiet was refreshing.

We made our way back in. The kids were getting the swing of the place. I had a "cheeseborger" and chips at the Billy Goat Tavern & Grill while the kids had hot dog (with just ketchup of course). York's method of eating hot dogs these days consists of stuffing the bun and dog into his face so he can eat just the dog. He used to take the dog out but his new preferred method leaves the mashed up bun behind in pieces. We spent a leisurely time eating. The Bears were on TV. York had a glass full of ice to munch on. Connie was enjoying the big bag of chips we had with our meal.

After our meal the kids played hide-and-seek at a photo booth for what seemed like forever. Then we go to the thick of the shops again. I managed to get through with spending only $2 for riding on the little train on tracks. Then we finally go to the south end past door #2 and all hell broke loose. The west end is the family area with stairs and escalators connecting to the upstairs Navy Pier Park.

That whole area was more difficult to keep them moving without spending anything. It's actually a fabulous and fun area even without spending much. I kept telling the kids that we'll do that next time when mom is here so she can enjoy it too. It's just a few dollars per person per ride but I just saw the whole thing spiraling in costs. The giant rocking horse and the carousel would have been fine for the kids; The giant swing was clearly too scary for either;  The 150 foot (45 m) Ferris wheel might have been OK for both kids since each car was entirely glass enclosed but I definitely wanted mom with us for that. The really high-ceiling glass house with palm trees and water arches was surprising and refreshing.

We were just about to make our final getaway but then we serendipitously caught the beginning of the one-man pirate juggler act. Connie and York had a blast with him. However after a while York wanted to run about and see other stuff. So I snuck off after York and got a soft-serve ice cream cone at the McDonald's there. (BTW kudos to the that McD or that McD employee for giving out super tall servings!) With the cone I was able to keep York with us at the show, which btw, was a great show.

I escaped the pressure to ride the train again and we finally got into the car to go home. They of course fell asleep on the way back. So after I parked, I left them in the car seats and brought them in one by one. The trick is to bring Connie in first because she won't be so disoriented if she wakes up alone (I learned that one the hard way). There is such a good parental feeling about bringing home a sleeping child. Finishing it off by successfully keeping them asleep when you lay them down is icing on the cake.

2003-11-19t17:35:24Z | RE: Fun. Politics. Bush. Israel. Tech.
2003-11-19t17:35:24Z

2003-11-20t22:54:24Z | RE: Money. Politics. Tech. .NET.
2003-11-20t22:54:24Z

  • Money
    • Gold hits $400/oz. This is the highest since 1996! I told my friends to buy gold when the war started like I did. But did they listen? Nooo.
  • Politics
    • The Homosexual Menace by Tom Tomorrow. Funny the selective tolerance that people have. "Gays are good enough for prime time comedy but not for marriage."
    • IAEA Rebuffs Washington Over Iran Nukes. Please stay out of this Bush and don't screw things up.
    • War critics astonished as US hawk [Richard Perle] admits invasion was illegal.
      • OMFG. I knew it all along; the war hawks probably knew it all along. The war hawks have been hypocritically lying about the legality of their pre-emptive invasion... all along. I wonder if something else that everyone knows will ever come to the fore front: that Bush lied (bent the truth) to congress about our reasons for going to war and the evidence supporting those reasons.
      • What's the difference between a blow job and a war? Fox News.
      • This all part of Bush's tendency to only care about the rule of law when it comes to the US. I dislike how the US openly flaunts the UN (United Nations), the WTO (World Trade Organization), the ICC (International Criminal Court), Geneva Conventions (esp. treatement of POW), the SI (System International, i.e. metric system), the ISO (International Organization of Standards, for stuff like date formats and paper sizes), etc., etc., especially when the US helped set up many of these international bodies to help establish a global democracy and cooperation. What if every nation, every organization, or every individual only cared about the rule of law when it benefited them?
      • Hmm. That last paragraph sounds like an explanation for why people dislike Microsoft too.
      • And no, this is not a mistake such as that over Wolfowitz's comment: "The ... difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq."
    • Old links
  • Tech/.NET

2003-11-21t23:24:06Z | RE: Blogging. Music. Politics. Abortion. Sex. Iraq War. Science.
2003-11-21t23:24:06Z

  • Blogging
    • I hate old links that don't work because the article is no longer free. I will link to the NYTimes.com and Salon.com only if I have to from now on.
  • Music
    • Who was the song about? This link answers the question that arises when you listen to the song "You Probably Think This Song Is about You" by Leonard Cohen.
  • Politics
    • Abortion.
      •  It is important to distinguish between these things:
        • CPs (Contraceptive Pills).
        • ECPs (Emergency CPs). "Morning After Pills". Like taking a lot of CPs after unprotected sex.
        • MAPs (Medical Abortion Pills). Like mifepristone (Aka RU-486 or Mifeprex) and methotrexate for termination of early pregnancy.
        • SA (Surgical Abortion). Includes regular abortions and par
      • As part of my research into the abortion issue, I am placing these links here: pph a1 fda sciam nrlc
    • Date Rape
      • What part of no do ya still not understand? Good article.
      • Good thread at Metafilter.
      • My take:
        • It's a complex issue but being UI (Under the Influence [of drugs, alcohol, hormones, etc.]) does not excuse you from bad and/or illegal behaviour. Think of date rape as RUI (Rape UI) just like DUI (Driving UI), SUI (Stealing UI), KUI (Killing UI), etc., etc.. Date rape while not UI is, of course, inexcusable.
        • Women have to avoid those situations. Bad guys don't have to look like bad guys. They may look like a friend but they may want to rape, rob, kill, etc.
    • Iraq War
  • Science
    • Microwave Water. My wife sent me this link which tries to check into the stories of microwaved water exploding in peoples faces. However, the article has no solid conclusion so here is my analysis: You can safely heat up a mug of water in a microwave for a minute or so. Just let the cup sit a bit (like the instructions always say). This way the convection of the water within the cup will distribute the hot spots a bit. Other wise the hot spots may indeed burst like a bubble when jostled.

2003-11-28t20:25:26Z | RE: Politics.
Why Geo sounds so nuts to us

I have this circle of largely Conservative friends. I don't mind that their opinions differ from mine. What I dislike is that our political email discussions tend to end up as ad hominem flame wars instead discussing the issue. The process generates feisty material. I like feisty but even more I like feisty backed up with good evidence, good hypotheses, and rational arguments. That's why Al Franken decimates Ann Coulter so badly. Both can do feisty, but Ann not only has lies, but some pretty lame ones too.

This past Tuesday, Nikos, my good friend and NeoConservative sent me this email:

Subject: Why Geo sounds so nuts to us

This article was written exactly one year ago, but it is still relevant.

I think it will go a long way in explaining why Geo appears to be flipping out before our very eyes.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/915ccruw.asp

-Nikos-

I replied the next day with this:

Most of Charles Krauthammer's arguments are pretty weak. I will easily counter a few of them shortly.

However before I do, I want you to note how I will provides reasons for my arguments instead of pulling the typical lame ad hominem by saying something like "Bah... The Weekly Standard is a Neo-Conservative rag run by wild-eyed extremists".

(1) Bill Moyer complained that the Right will "force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives". Gee didn't we just pass a partial birth abortion bill that didn't included a simple line making exceptions for cases where the woman's health was in grave danger. To credit Conservatives, this was a fair bill except for that one missing line.

(2) Bill Moyer complained that the Right will "eviscerate the environment". Well you can rationalize it all you want but most environmentalists think that opening up ANWAR, "saving" the forests by cutting them down, disallowing the grandfathering polluting power plants and weakening the Clean Air Act, decreasing protection of endangered species, etc. is pretty bad for the environment. Bush is no guardian of the environment.

(3) I think complaints about theocracy are pretty valid. Doesn't it feel like we're in a Crusade? Did everyone in the UIC group dump their porn during "Protection From Pornography Week, 2003" (Official Proclamation)? How about his stating that "Marriage is a sacred institution" in his "Marriage Protection Week, 2003" Official Proclamation? How about his multiple prayer-related Official Proclamations? All this stuff is available at WhiteHouse.gov in case you didn't know.

(4) As far as Bush as an extremist, political outsider, and fascist, this is indeed a big complaint. One of the reasons that Bush won in 2000 (besides stealing) was because he was and Gore were supposed to be very similar in the moderateness of their views and yet here we are a very bi-polar nation. Bush, like Blair, chose to ignore the throngs of protestors. There's always Bush's funny psychological profile (http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1033904,00.html). The Patriot Act. The Patriot Act applied beyond its original intent. Bending the truth (aka lying and misleading) and the evidence about WMD to force us into Iraq. Influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal. Bush has and is trying really really hard to avoid having the lead up to 9/11 investigated. CIA leaks and general abuse of intelligence. General Franks seems to think that the Constitution would not survive a WMD attack in favor of martial law. Berkeley study links Reagan & Hitler (hehe).

(5) The article mentions that Bush passed an education bill essentially written by Ted Kennedy but doesn't mention that he cut $200 million from his own No Child Left Behind Act, eliminating crucial educational programs for lower income children and cutting professional training for more than 20,000 teachers.

(6) The article states that "His tax reform involves the most modest of rate cuts for the upper brackets". Gee is it possible that the rate cut could not have been more modest? Hehe, what a laughable statement. I think a tax cut would have been fine but not given the expenses and deficit he's been piling up.

(7) The article states that it is "an article of liberal faith that conservatism is not just wrong but stone coldhearted to the core". Nah: much of it is wrong but well intended so how is that cold-hearted? He must be projecting.

(8) This stuff about genial smiles, amiable dunces, angry white males, year of the woman, etc. is pretty fluffy. Does that stuff have any real weight? On the other hand Bush having gone AWOL is a weighty issue not only because of the fact of it but also he and the Right won't admit it.

Do you see? I provided empirical evidence and logic. Does that make me right? NO.

I repeat NO.

That's probably the biggest difference between our styles. Some people are satisfied with a certain body of evidence combined with their logic: they believe that their hypothesis has been absolutely proven. However to properly use the Scientific Method you must acknowledge two things: (1) All hypotheses are subject to challenge especially given the possibility of new evidence and new lines of logic. (2) Hypotheses must be rigorously and repeatedly tested. Scientists and good debaters must be skeptical, regardless of how invested they are in their hypothesis.

In this light it's pathetic that the article and Nikos site logic and empirical evidence so much. That's a lame psychological technique to try to substantiate arguments that should be able to stand on their own validity.

I will once more try to avoid political discussions with the group. This is not because our opinions differ. Rather I appreciate the differences: after all I am always willing to have any hypothesis challenged with evidence and logic. What I dislike is the abuse of bad rhetoric and the lack of civil discourse with logic and evidence. Bad rhetoric is fine for goofing around but I don't have the time for it when the issues are important and the arguments long. I take the pro-Bush hypotheses seriously: that's why I test them strongly and wish you guys were better at defending them. I take the Bush threat very seriously: Do I have good hypotheses? Do I challenge my hypotheses with evidence and logic? Or have I merely flipped out?

Henceforth, if you want my 2 bits on politics you can see it on my blog.

BTW: Of the group, Steve has been the best at consistently trying to provide evidence, logic, and civility in his arguments. For this I am thankful.

2003-11-28t20:45:42Z | RE: Politics.
The Medicare Shuffle

The Medicare Shuffle

I work in the health care industry so I'm well aware that the industry is a mess. The cost of prescription drugs in particular has changed from less than 5% of a senior's health care costs to 40%.

FYI, here is a definition of Medicare: "A federal health insurance program designed to provide health care for the elderly and the disabled. People who qualify for Social Security benefits are automatically eligible for Medicare"

So what are the particulars of this Medicare bill passed this weekend?

  • The private health insurance plan costs have been rising costs in the double digit percentage range for years. However government health insurance plans have been doing much better. And yet the biggest thing about this bill is that it subsidizes private insurances companies to provide prescription drug coverage?!? Do you smell pork?
  • The government loses negotiating power with these private companies?!? There's that smell again.
  • The prescription drug plan is a follows: $420 annual premium, $250 deductible, ¼ of the next $2000 (i.e. $500), expenses between $2250-$3600 are not covered. Scenarios:
    • Expenses $0-$1170: Senior pays 100% of that. Don't get it!
    • Expenses $1171-$2249: Senior pays $1-$1079 (0.1%-48.0%). Maybe you  should get it.
    • Expenses $2250-$3600: Senior 100% of that. Don't get it!
    • Expenses $3601-Up: Senior pays $1170 (32.5%-0%). This is where it looks good.
      • Expenses $5000: Senior pays $1170 (23.4%).
      • Expenses $10000: Senior pays $1170 (11.7%).
      • Expenses $20000: Senior pays $1170 (5.9%).
      • etc.

My overall analysis:

  • Some change is better than none.
  • However bigger and totally different kinds of changes are needed (more socialization and less privatization given the proven efficiency of the former).
  • Therefore this was pushed through at this moment for election year.

zLinks

  • Senate Roll Call on Medicare Legislation. WTF?! Lieberman and Kerry didn't vote? It's bad enough that they voted for the Iraq Invasion. This is more evidence for voting for Dean.
  • Medicare Bill Would Enrich Companies
  • Alarms Sounded On Cost of GOP Bills
  • GOP Dishes Out Pork In Growing Portions
  • Mending Medicare
  • Transcript: Dennis Hastert on 'FOX News Sunday'. Interview with Representative Tom Daschle (R-IL).
  • The Democrats Take a Dive
    •  'What Democrats failed to understand, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said in an interview yesterday morning, is that Republicans "are on an ideological march. They have no intention of playing fair. They want what they want when they want it." And they get it.'
    • "Over the weekend, several Democrats complained that [House Democrats] Breaux and Baucus promised to report back to their colleagues before reaching a deal. Instead, they announced their support for the Republican bill, setting in motion its rush to passage. And Baucus poured salt into his party's wounds when he opened his speech in defense of the bill on Sunday by taking issue with how House Democratic leaders had described his legislation. Bush must have been laughing as Baucus drove a wedge through the Democratic Party."

2003-11-28t20:48:56Z | RE: Fun. Green. Politics. Tech.
2003-11-28t20:48:56Z

  • Fun
  • Green
    • UN official warns of peril facing apes. This is along the lines of the recent and sudden global steep decline of the alpha species [s1 s2 s3 s4]. It should never have gotten this far. The sad thing is with the Republicans in charge we won't be able to save these creatures.
      • ' "The clock is standing at one minute to midnight for the great apes, animals that share more than 96 percent of their DNA with humans," said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program. '
  • Politics
    • zMisc
      • Ground Farce 1. Ha! Bush and his entourage did tens of thousands of pounds of damage! Guess who's never going to get invited back?
        • "Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-maintained lawns had been churned up"
        • "30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days."
      • "Howard Dean For President" by Ted Rall. As someone who also wants "Anybody But Bush" I'm starting to lean towards Dean myself.
        • "America is under attack, and Bush is enemy number one."
        • "Maybe it's premature to endorse Gov. Dean. But right now, given the information we have available, he's the preferred candidate of us Anybody But Bushies."
      • "The Uncivil War" by Paul Krugman. This article rings with me because I've experienced the weird attempts by the Right to mislead the issues first hand.
        • "Smart conservatives admit that their own side was a bit rude during the Clinton years. But now, they say, they've learned better, and it's those angry liberals who have a problem. The reality, however, is that they can only convince themselves that liberals have an anger problem by applying a double standard."
        • 'The campaign against "political hate speech" originates with the Republican National Committee. But last week the committee unveiled its first ad for the 2004 campaign, and it's as hateful as they come. "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists," it declares.'
        • "What the critics say is that this loss of focus seriously damaged the campaign against terrorism. Strategic assets in limited supply, like Special Forces soldiers and Predator drone aircraft, were shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, while intelligence resources, including translators, were shifted from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to the coming invasion. This probably allowed Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden, to get away, and definitely helped the Taliban stage its ominous comeback. And the Iraq war has, by all accounts, done wonders for Qaeda recruiting. Is saying all this attacking the president for attacking the terrorists?"
        • See the transcript of the ad. See also "Treason's Greetings" for more critique of the ad.
      • Technological Dub Erases a Bush Flub for a Republican Ad. Digital editing of speeches to make him sound better? What are they going to do next? Enhance images to make him look taller, more muscular? Make his voice sound deeper and richer? Add a sparkle to his eyes and teeth? Or, worse, digitally modify his opponents in ads?
      • Helen Thomas blasts Iraq war as 'immoral'
        • "Where's the national outrage?"
        • "Who is demanding to know why we invaded Iraq -- a country that did absolutely nothing to us?"
  • Tech

2003-11-30t00:15:47Z | RE: Bush. Fun. Marriage. Politics. Tech.
2003-11-30t00:15:47Z

  • Bush
    • "The Turkey Has Landed". Oh those Brits sure know how to make good headlines.
      • U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq Hours After Bush Visit.
      • Bush Visit to Iraq Becomes Talk of Baghdad

        • "We cannot consider Bush's arrival at Baghdad International Airport yesterday a visit to Iraq. He did not meet with ordinary Iraqis. Bush was only trying to boost the morale of his troops.'' -Mahmoud Othman, member of the Iraqi Governing Council.

        • "He came for the sake of the elections. He never thought of the Iraqi people. He doesn't care about us. It was a personal visit for his own sake.'' -Ahmed Kheiri, 24 year old Iraqi

      • Hillary Clinton arrives in Baghdad hot on heels of Bush
        • "Unlike the US president, who never even left the main military camp at Baghdad airport during his two-and-a-half hour stopover, Clinton then left the heavily fortified complex around the palace to go and visit troops."
        • Hmm. Hillary visited Afghanistan and Iraq. It almost looks like she's campaigning.
      • Bush Sneaks in and Out of Baghdad. "He did not even get time to eat a meal with the troops. He was there for two hours."
      • I have to give Bush credit because this stunt did involve personal risk. But, as I keep stressing over and over, although we will succeed in Iraq because we'll finish what we started, that does not excuse the fact that we were forced to rush in there by Bush.
    • U.S. Dissident Says Bush Needs Fear for Reelection. Story on Noam Chomsky in Cuba.
      • ' Chomsky said the military occupation of Iraq, to topple a "horrible monster running it but not a threat to anyone," was a failure. "The country had been devastated by sanctions. The invasion ended sanctions. The tyrant is gone and there is no outside support for domestic dissidence," he said. "It takes real talent to fail in this endeavor." '
      • ' Chomsky said it was reasonable to assume the Bush administration would try to "manufacture a short-term improvement in the economy" by incurring in enormous federal government debt and "imposing burdens on future generations." '
      • ' The Bush administration was a continuation of the Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) presidency that declared a national emergency over the threat posed by Nicaragua's leftist government in the 1980s, he said. "The same people were able to present Grenada as a threat to survival of the United States the last time they were in office," Chomsky said, in reference to the U.S. invasion of the Caribbean island in 1983 to thwart Cuban influence. '
    • Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack.
      • This article is based on an interview that General Tommy Franks gave Cigar Aficiando magazine.
      • "It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world — it may be in the United States of America — that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important." -Franks
      • Doesn't it sound like that it's already happening? The US public and military doesn't want to lose our freedom but our actions, done in fear in order to protect the US, may destroy our very freedom in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The US may very well become the Great Devil that the Islamic extremists claim we are.
    • Bush OKs New Nuke
      • The US is now going to research min-nukes, the RNEP (Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator), supposedly so we can destroy really deep bunkers. This is just a $15 million project, one of many projects in the $40o billion National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2004 of 2003-11-24.
      • WTF? So now we're going to end the ban on underground nuclear testing? So now other countries can emulate that as well as our pre-emptive tactics? As well as our tactics of flaunting international law?
      • ' "Our enemies seek to inflict mass casualties, without fielding mass armies. They hide in the shadows, and they're often hard to strike," Bush said at yesterday's bill-signing ceremony. '
      • Isn't that what we do already with our air sorties? Our smart weapons? Our special forces? Our 500 lb bombs? Our 7.5 ton Daisy Cutter bombs? Our 10 ton MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst) bombs?
      • Isn't most of our fighting guerilla fighting? Doesn't that mean the enemy is hiding amongst civilians and infrastructure that we usually want to preserve? How does this big-dicked Iron Hammer crap kill embedded guerillas?
    • U.S. Plants: Open To Terrorists.
      • I love stories on the obvious. I have physically gone onto the physical plants of many companies. It wouldn't take a lot of brains, resources, or money to waltz in and do vast amounts of damage. Nuclear plants may be secured but chemical plants? Tech companies? The hundreds of miles of oil pipes? The hundreds of miles of wires and pipes?
      • We need to spend more money on homeland security (defense) and less on unilateral, short-sighted offense. We needed to stay focused on Al Queda but instead we did a major distraction by attacking Iraq which has beefed up the ranks of organizations like Al Queda. Iraq sucks up our resources (money, intelligence, time, lives, political leverage, etc.) while Al Queda is just as distributed, just as low cost, just as low tech as ever. Terrorism has increased since we invaded Iraq, not decreased.
    • "Scaring Up Votes" by Maureen Dowd.
      • "The president is trying to make the campaign about guts: he has the guts to persevere in the war on terror. But the real issue is trust: should we trust leaders who cynically manipulated intelligence, diverted 9/11 anger and lost focus on Osama so they could pursue an old cause near to neocon hearts: sacking Saddam? The Bush war left our chief villains operating, revved up the terrorist threat, ravaged our international alliances and sparked the resentment of a world that ached for us after 9/11."
      • ' Now Mr. Bush says that poor Turkey, a critical ally in the Muslim world, is the newest front in the war on terror. "Iraq is a front," he said. "Turkey is a front. Anywhere the terrorists think they can strike is a front." Here a front, there a front, everywhere a terror front. In his Hobbesian gloom — "Fear and I were born twins," Hobbes said — Dick Cheney thought an Iraq whupping would make surly young anti-American Arab men scuttle away. Instead, it stoked their ire. '
      • ' James Goodby and Kenneth Weisbrode wrote in The Financial Times last week that the Bush crew has snuffed the optimism of F.D.R., Ronald Reagan and Bush père: "Fear has been used as a basis for curtailing freedom of expression and for questioning legal rights long taken for granted. It has crept into political discourse and been used to discredit patriotic public servants. Ronald Reagan's favorite image, borrowed from an earlier visionary, of America as 'a shining city on a hill' has been unnecessarily dimmed by another image: a nation motivated by fear and ready to lash out at any country it defines as the source of a gathering threat." '
    • Crimes Against Nature.
      • "Bush is sabotaging the laws that have protected America's environment for more than thirty years"
      • See also The Bush Record at the NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council).
        • "This administration, in catering to industries that put America's health and natural heritage at risk, threatens to do more damage to our environmental protections than any other in U.S. history."
    • U.S. General Says Bin Laden 'Out of the Picture'.
      • Ha! Another Bush objective casually tossed aside. What changed that puts Bin Laden out of the picture? Is General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying that Bin Laden was never important? Or is he saying that the Al Queda body is now so reduced that the heads don't matter as much? It sounds more like sour grapes than anything else. I'm sharing Rumsfeld's gripes about not having the numbers to quantify the success of the war on terrorism.
      • "The fact that the enemy is not pooling up in waves that can be attacked in large numbers to me means that in fact the coalition is being effective." -Gen. Pace.
        • What a totally absurd statement. Have they ever attacked us in large numbers?
    • Questions arise over Bush's use of force
      • "No president since the all-volunteer force began 30 years ago has used the military as aggressively. Bush, after all, elected to invade Iraq and to remove whatever threat Saddam Hussein and his illusive weapons of mass destruction posed. The war and occupation of Iraq, and also Afghanistan, have left U.S. military operations at their highest sustained level in decades."
      • "Despite that sensitive backdrop, Defense Department officials led by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seem unconcerned about angering large segments of the military community. For every initiative to please military folks, such as contracting with movers to reimburse families for the full replacement value of goods damaged in household moves, two seem to float by aimed at tightening people programs."
    • Spending escalates under GOP watch
      • "Since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, nondefense spending has leapt 13 percent -- 21 percent if spending on the war on terrorism is included."
      • ' "My impression of Bush is that I've never seen him give a speech in which he says government is too big and we need to cut costs," Mr. Edwards said, pointing out that President Reagan vetoed 23 bills in his first three years in office, while Mr. Bush has yet to unsheathe his veto pen. '
      • "Even radio host Rush Limbaugh, an unwavering booster of the president and his policies, told listeners Tuesday that after passing the Medicare bill Republicans no longer can contend they are the party of smaller government."
      • So much for the Conservatives favoring smaller government. And all this with big tax cuts too.
  • Fun
  • Marriage
    • People who have issues with marriage. People have issues with relationships. What are those issues? They're called personal issues. Those who are worried about the "sacredness" of other people's marriages need to stick their noses somewhere else.
      • NoMarriage.com. This is guy is selling his $9.95 book.
        • Men who want to get married can read this and will still want to get married.
        • Men who don't want to get married don't need to read this stuff.
        • Men who have or have had bad marriages might read this stuff to entertain themselves and massage their misogynistic tendencies.
        • Men who are happily married, like me, will find the stuff mildly entertaining.
        • The sad thing about is some men really believe this crap.
      • Holy Matrimony: What's really undermining the sanctity of marriage? This article has more meat to it. The SOAM (success/sanctity of a marriage) has more to do with the adultness of the people involved. SOAM may have something to do with faithfulness, trust, respect, cooperation, flexibility, sacrifice, etc., etc., but it has nothing to do with whether the partners are heterosexual or homosexual.
    • Given the quantity of hormones, sex, and marriages out there, people are quite silly to worry about the reproduction of our species. I don't get why people have their masculinity or family values challenged. In comic book terms: why do people hate mutants when their own children might be mutants as well?
  • Politics
    • China's Grip on Info Loosening. This is good news. Freedom of speech does everybody good.
    • Students call for Coke boycott. Hmm Coca Cola is responsible for some human rights violations in Columbia? Fine I'll boycott Coke for a while but I'm not going to dump all the Coke that I currently have.
    • Don't Tell the Pope. The Catholic Church does good compassionate work but a hypothesis, a system, must be challenged by evidence and reasoning, and, if necessary, be modified.
      • ' "We don't recommend the use of condoms, but we're not opposed to their use because we know they prevent AIDS," he said, looking nervous as I wrote down his words. "There is no contradiction between Christianity and a piece of rubber." '
    • "We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore" & "Who's Right?" By Brian Anderson. In The Simpsons, Homer is one of the classic icons of the Right (well intentioned, self-centered, short minded, represents the masses), while Lisa is a classic icons of the Left (well intentioned, mindful of others, high minded, represents the minority). South Park trashes anybody they want, Left or Right. BTW: I would be honored to  be on either show for even one second.
  • Tech
    • The Key to Genius. Matt Savage is a 12 year old non-idiot savant with great Jazz talent. Brain science is usually pretty interesting stuff. One of the cool things about brain science is that it can also be used for work in Artificial Intelligence.
      • ' Katsenelenbogen came to see a connection between Matt's hyperspeed number-crunching and his jazz mind: "Matt has an amazing ability to calculate relationships between chords and lines, which can all be expressed in numbers." '
      • "The overgrowth of the brain tissue of autistic kids, however, is random and automatic, a reaction to an unknown stimulus - perhaps testosterone or some toxic agent in the environment. The result, says Courchesne, is an onslaught of neural noise that makes the infant lose the ability to make sense of its world. "
      • ' "Our knowledge and expertise blind us," Snyder told me last spring. "If we could switch off our conceptual mind, we could have a momentary literal viewing of the world." '
      • "Sadly, in many cases, their gifts fail to develop at all. The artistic powers of a celebrated savant named Nadia - a British girl who began drawing at age 3 with more accuracy and subtlety than many adult artists - ebbed at age 9, when she learned to speak. The brilliant careers of many musical prodigies are cut short in adolescence, when innate talent must become a craft and a left-hemisphere routine. Many savant life stories follow a difficult trajectory from an astonishing debut to an anonymous fate."
      • "The computational abilities of savants may give them glimpses of the world as it really is, as Snyder says. But creativity is also the ability to imagine the world as it is not - to make conceptual leaps and refine the raw data of experience into abstract ideas, meaning, and insight. That is precisely the function of the most recently evolved areas of the brain - the regions of the prefrontal cortex that are damaged or impaired in many savants."
    • Blood could generate body repair kit. Ah so vampires are really time travelers from the future!
    • A Machine to End War. Nikola Telsa's predictions of the future made in 1937.
      • "There are three ways by which the energy which determines human progress can be increased: First, we may increase the mass. This, in the case of humanity, would mean the improvement of living conditions, health, eugenics, etc. Second, we may reduce the frictional forces which impede progress, such as ignorance, insanity, and religious fanaticism. Third, we may multiply the energy of the human mass by enchaining the forces of the universe, like those of the sun, the ocean, the winds and tides. The first method increases food and well-being. The second tends to bring peace. The third enhances our ability to work and to achieve. There can be no progress that is not constantly directed toward increasing well-being, peace, and achievement. Here the mechanistic conception of life is one with the teachings of Buddha and the Sermon on the Mount."
      • ' There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is barn. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call "soul " or "spirit," is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the "soul" or the "spirit" ceases likewise. '
      • His stuff on eugenics is spooky though.
      • "Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. .... Like other inventors, I believed at one time that war could he stopped by making it more destructive. But I found that I was mistaken. I underestimated man's combative instinct, which it will take more than a century to breed out. We cannot abolish war by outlawing it. We cannot end it by disarming the strong. War can be stopped, not by making the strong weak but by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself."

2003-11-30t23:57:42Z | RE: Bush. Faith. Tech.
2003-11-30t23:57:42Z

  • Bush
    • Iraqi Leaders Say U.S. Was Warned of Disorder After Hussein, but Little Was Done
      • "Given our history, it is very obvious this would occur." -Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and a longtime ally of the United States.
      • "The fact that the administration embraced their encouragement to go to war but apparently discounted their warnings is an insight into the Pentagon's prewar planning."
        • i.e. crappy prewar planning.
      • "When people started looting and the Americans just watched, what it did was legitimize lawlessness. `It's O.K. No problem.' And we are still suffering from it now." -Rend Rahim Francke, Iraq's ambassador to Washington since 11-23.
      • "In fact, the Army's Third Infantry Division said in an after-action report that when it arrived in Baghdad it had no instructions, no mission statement."
    • War After the War. Here's another article explaining how poorly planned the invasion was.
      • "You got the impression in this exercise that we didn't harness the best and brightest minds in a concerted effort." -Thomas E. White, the Secretary of the Army.
      • So there were many reasons why the invasion was too rushed. Here are a few:
        • The evidence indicating urgency on WMD was insufficient.
        • Iraq was already boxed and on a tight leash with sanctions and all the pinpoint sorties and attacks that President Clinton had done.
        • The UN and our allies didn't approve it yet.
        • Bush wasn't prepared, he didn't have this thing planned.
      • "But it's turned out that they weren't lying at all -- they really believed this bizarre INC fairy tale and didn't do any real backup planning" - Plan A by Matthew Yglesias.
    • CIA admits lack of specifics on Iraqi weapons before invasion
      • "Any reader would have had to read only as far as the second paragraph of the Key Judgments to know that as we said: 'We lacked specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD program' " -Stuart Cohen, CIA Analyst, Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
    • I was certain I knew what Bush's theme song was, but then I saw Shrek again yesterday and now I think there must be other good candidates.
      • These songs need no modification to fit the bill:
        •  "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking" by U2. Especially these lines:
          I have climbed highest mountain
          I have run through the fields
          ...
          I have spoke with the tongue of angels
          I have held the hand of a devil
          ...
          But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
        • "Bad Reputation" By Half Cocked. Especially these lines:
          And I don't give a damn about my reputation
          The world's in trouble, there's no communication
          And everyone can say what they want to say
          It never gets better anyway

          So why should I care about a bad reputation, anyway
      • Of course there are other songs out there:
    • Surprise Thanksgiving Dinner at 6 AM? A traditional Thanksgiving breakfast dinner. Mind you there's nothing wrong with a President visiting the troops but this is looking tackier all the time.
      • UPDATE [2003-12-01t18:31:25Z]: There's nothing to see here. Some readers of this site have informed me that Wayne Madsen did his story off of a typo. The dinner seems to have been at 5 PM and not 5 AM. I emailed Wayne asking if "the report you read had the am and pm transposed. Is this true?" He replied with "possibly but did CNN also get the date wrong when it reported the visit a day in advance?" followed by an attachment. It would have been much better if he had replied "yes". Everybody makes mistakes and I'm forgiving of people who admit it quickly and move on. People who don't lose credibility (EG: Ann Coulter won't admit her brazen error (or possibly outright lie) about the NY Times reporting on the death of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt (which I saw live BTW)). Wayne and Counter Punch had better post an update soon or they'll start losing credibility.
    • Election Is Now for Bush Campaign.
      • "Bush's campaign has an e-mail list totaling 6 million people, 10 times the number that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has, and the Bush operation is in the middle of an unprecedented drive to register 3 million new Republican voters."
      • Bush has no rivals in the Republican primary.
      • Bush also has as much campaign money as the top Democratic contenders combined. Much of this is corporate money.
      • Bush has strong propaganda machine in Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc.
      • This is going to be a long and hard fight for anyone who is for "Anyone But Bush".
    • Name That War. On a lighter note, Nicholas Kristof got 4,000 entries in his little contest. There were a lot of good entries but one of my favorites was "Pre-emptive Ware I".
    • Rockers Unite to Oust Bush.
      • ' Bruce Springsteen told a crowd of 50,000 New Yorkers on October 4th to "shout a little louder if you want the president impeached." '
      • ' John Mellencamp posted an open letter to America on his Web site, declaring, "We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time to take action." '
      • 'Dave Matthews is railing against the war in Iraq in interviews'
      • "Americans are asleep at the wheel. We're not getting involved in our own political process." -James Taylor
    • One man's opinion: Evidence indicates that Wellstone crash was no accident.
      • Oh boy. Bush just inspires conspiracy theories.
      • ' Some 3,000 Americans were killed when the Twin Towers collapsed, and yet the president and the vice president of the United States have done everything they can to obstruct a open and honest investigation of the causes of that traumatic event. And when a leak from his own administration leads to the exposure of a CIA operative concerned with weapons of mass destruction, the President tells us "we may never know." This is a corrupt administration. '
      • 'The evidence presented here and elaborated elsewhere in detail establishes a prima facie case that this death was no accident, that the motives were political and begs the question: Was the White House involved?'
    • Another irritating thing about this war is that if Bush had done it correctly, then I would have been sitting here watching it like a sports event and just supporting the troops. That's how the Persian Gulf War went. Instead here I am, supporting the troops but also spending so much of my time and talent watch dogging and writing about the politics of this war. I cannot forgive him for causing this personal waste.
  • Politics
    • Hillary Clinton is not the enemy.
      • The war hawks have to realize that the people against Bush are not against fighting terrorism but against the rush, the lies, the inefficiency of the invasion.
      • Note that Hillary hasn't criticized Bush's Thanksgiving visit: she's just there supporting the troop. That's class.
      • If not Dean then Hillary. We're watching.
    • Deadline Iraq: Uncensored Stories of the War
      • 'Her cameraman captured footage of the attack, proof that it was the American military that fired on the hotel.'
    • Women who won't.
      • 'According to a survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission, only 57 per cent of women work full-time. Fewer than half of married women work, whereas 94 per cent of married men work full-time. What's more, don't think it's just the kiddies who are to blame: only 58 per cent of married women with no children bother to work.'
      • Women are "idle" eh? Well it's not because they're lazy: it's because they're smarter. Work is good but US women and Europeans realize that there's more to life than work. I'm all for less work and more time off regardless of sex.
  • Faith
    • Catholic condemnation for same-sex marriage ruling
      • "The misguided decision has also served to promote divisions in society by villainizing as bigotry the legitimate defense of thousands of years of tradition." -Letter from the MCC (Massachusetts Catholic Conference)
        • I like to call a spade a spade.
      • ' But it is "not the intention of the Catholic community to infringe on the civil rights of homosexuals or anyone else," the letter said. '
        • Oh really?
  • Tech
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