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Showing posts from September, 2002
There are times...



...when I could just hug John Dvorak, especially when he writes One Buck Forty or Die:



The U.S. government should not be corrupted by the Recording Industry Association of America and should instead do more about price fixing. And let's stop lecturing people about legality and morality. Students in particular are not moral reprobates, nor are they fools. They are pragmatists, and they stretch the rules along with their budgets. This is a crowd that worships the fake ID and is taught to question authority. So you're going to lecture them about copyrights? Give up. Rethink your business model. The problem will be solved.Oh, it is good.
If this is genocide....



Milosevic faces genocide charge



U.N. prosecutors opened their genocide case against Slobodan Milosevic Thursday, vowing to prove that he played a leading role in the worst crimes in Europe since World War II. The former Yugoslav president scoffed at the charge, saying his regime had helped "achieve peace, not war" in the Balkans.



[...]



Lead trial prosecutor Geoffrey Nice said the coordinated destruction of villages and systematic murder of civilians in Bosnia will be traced back to the Bosnian Serb leadership, and ultimately, Milosevic.So if this guy committed genocide, what has Saddam done in Iraq? Where is his "arrest warrant" from this UN Tribunal? What is the difference?



“The accused intended to destroy the Bosnian Muslim population in part or in whole in order to achieve those aims,” Nice said.Oh, I see. If a non-Muslim kills Muslims, it's genocide. If a Muslim kills Muslims, a la Saddam, it's called...what?
Signs of repression



Jan Herman, in his MSNBC blog The Juice, notes:



Here's a twist. The American Library Association has many fewer book bannings to report than ever. Last year only 20 to 25 books were dropped from school reading lists or libraries, according to The Associated Press.And I thought Bush was running such a repressive regime....



(PS - I don't know how valid the link to Herman's column is, as there is no "permanent link." This is noted as his Sept. 25, 2002 / 10:30 a.m. ET entry.)
Oh, academic freedom, where art thou?



Dahlia Lithwick gives a lesson in Free Speech 101, which does not speak well of how colleges, those bastions of higher learning, deal with "free speech":



These firings and suspensions were not initiated by the government, and consequently they don’t implicate the First Amendment. They threaten a broader democratic ideal of free speech: the long-cherished belief that words don’t hurt but censorship does. Call it patriotism or call it “academic sensitivity,” but censorship is still censorship, even when it’s invoked to shore up some gauzy dream that universities are a Technicolor rainbow of love and tolerance.And they complain about Bush....
Goring, Goring, gone!



We begin today with Michael Kelly taking apart Al Gore for his speech before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco:



This speech, an attack on the Bush policy on Iraq, was Gore's big effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack in advance of another possible presidential run. It served: It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.Then there's yesterday's Best of the Web, wherein James Taranto wonders if an android has replaced AlGore, given the change in his stance about Saddam and Iraq:



So who's this impostor, claiming to be Gore, who delivered a speech yesterday at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, in which he delivered what the Associated Press calls "a sweeping indictment of Pre…
Ah, labor



Study Boosts Case for Flex Time



Researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland found that employees on an annual hours contract in the United Kingdom earn a 13 percent higher hourly wage than weekly workers. The most compelling employer perk is a 50 percent reduction in overtime.



But unfortunately for Americans who get paid by the hour, this fabulous-sounding arrangement is illegal in the United States. It flies in the face of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which says only salaried workers can work on an annual hours contract.Meanwhile, Paul Harvey reports this morning (via the radio) that a US labor union is seeking to cut costs for the construction of their new headquarters...by hiring non-union laborers. Gads, I wish I could find that story!
It was a bad choice



This link is to Yahoo's "full coverage" page of the story, with assorted links showing the history of things.



These are few people more remorseful than a mother who gets caught beating the beejeezus out of her kids. The remorse always comes after they get caught, though. This lady remained at large for over a week after the -- and let's be delicate here -- incident. TV news this morning (NBC) reported that she claimed she wasn't "on the run" or evading the police; she was just waiting for the arrest warrant.



Of course, that ignores all the news stories of "police seek mother for questioning." To heck with that, I supposed.



And of course you'd have to ignore that she died her hair after the "incident." Probably just a coincidence.



And you'd have to ignore the criminal history, though in all fairness it's for theft and fraud, not child abuse.



Still, my favorite quote is from her own lips:



"I'm being pu…
Er, about that recession...



Joseph Stiglitz, chairman of Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, writes:



It would be nice for us veterans of the Clinton Administration if we could simply blame mismanagement by President George W. Bush's economic team for this seemingly sudden turnaround in the economy, which coincided so closely with its taking charge. But although there has been mismanagement, and it has made matters worse, the economy was slipping into recession even before Bush took office, and the corporate scandals that are rocking America began much earlier.Do people still blame economic problems on Bush? Well, of course! Silly!
On Wi-Fi



Wired 10.10: Being Wireless



But 802.11 systems — now available in a variety of flavors, including 802.11b, widely known as Wi-Fi — do not stop at the walls of your home. Depending on the intervening materials, a vanilla Wi-Fi can radiate more than 1,000 feet. Since I live in a high-density area, my system reaches perhaps 100 neighbors. I do not know how many use it (totally free) — frankly, I do not care. I pay a fixed fee and am happy to share.



Because further down the street, beyond the reach of my system, another neighbor has put in Wi-Fi. And another, and another. Think of a pond with one water lily, then two, then four, then many overlapping, with their stems reaching into the Internet. (Credit for the water lily analogy goes to Alessandro Ovi, technology adviser to European Commission president Romano Prodi.)



Look at the numbers: 3G, in its most generous projections, will deliver data speeds of 1 megabit per second — in two years. Today, Wi-Fi commonly provides 11 megabits,…
Stating the obvious



Sasha Castel pointed out this UPI article which contains this lovely quote:



"When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that d├ętente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"Which …
McGeorge



I have completed my fourth week of law school. I now completely understand the tagline for "Who's Harry Crumb": Nerves of steel. Body of iron. Brain of stone.



I am convinced that I have a brain of stone.



Contracts is relatively easy, thus avoiding the entire "Paper Chase" scenario (tagline = "You have to choose between the girl you love and the diploma you've worked for all your life. You have 30 seconds."). Unfortunately, in my world Mr. Kingsfield teaches Torts. He's much more polite and humorous, but the assault is much the same. I believe they call it the Socratic method of instruction. It feels more like the Inquisition. I swear, first time that Gatling gun of questioning was turned on me I turned into Porky Pig: "Ah bu duh blb guh."



Wonderful impression.



Ah, but it is a challenge, is it not? And at the other end I'll be rich and famous and a total puddle of goo. The only thing that cheers me up are the looks of total pa…
Miller's Crossing



All right, a confession. I have enjoyed every single Coen Brothers film I have seen, but none more so than Miller's Crossing. I found a video tape of this for sale in a grocery store around six years ago. Someone borrowed the tape and it wasn't until this weekend that my order for a replacement came in (after a two week wait; no, it doesn't take half a decade to get a copy!).



Oh my, what a joy to watch it again. Is this the Coens best film? No, I'm sure that's yet to come. But I think it's better than, say, "Fargo." I can watch it repeatedly, back to back, and not get bored. Two other Coen films are close, "Raising Arizona" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou." But both take a backseat to "Miller's Crossing." Not by much, but enough.



There is not a wasted frame. Virtually every word is important. At just under two hours, this is a lean film. Again, nothing is wasted, from the moment three ice cubes hit t…
Egads!



Mark Helprin writes that Bush 43 has failed the test of September 11:



We fought for a year to save Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. Why will Saudi Arabia, if it is not an enemy, not allow us the same bases from which we protected it, to protect ourselves? What relationship with them, exactly, do we wish to preserve? They are used to buying whatever they need, and over many years they have bought us in many ways. Immediately after Sept. 11, they dropped oil prices. This was more than anti-invasion insurance, it was blood money...Strong language, much of which I'm included to agree with. Someone coined the phrase, but I forget who (Instapundit? Best of Web?):

The road to Baghdad is through Riyahd.
There is no going back



Victor Davis Hanson writes of The Wages of September 11. Best of the Web noted this article, and exerpted a great quote comparing Europeans to "blinkered Hobbits." The next paragraph maintains the beat:



America learned that "moderate" Arab countries are as dangerous as hostile Islamic nations. After September 11, being a Saudi, Egyptian, or Kuwaiti means nothing special to an American -- at least not proof of being any more friendly or hostile than having Libyan, Syrian, or Lebanese citizenship. Indeed, our entire postwar policy of propping up autocracies on the triad of their anticommunism, oil, and arms purchases -- like NATO -- belongs to a pre-9/11 age of Soviet aggrandizement and petroleum monopolies. Now we learn that broadcasting state-sponsored hatred of Israel and the United States is just as deadly to our interests as scud missiles -- and as likely to come from friends as enemies. Worst-case scenarios like Iran and Afghanistan offer m…
9/11



I was going to write up something fancy, take my time, edit, cut paste, link, etc., and decided in the end to just sit and type this all spontaneously. Across the nation, people are holding memorials, rememberances, etc. My office is roughly 90% empty as most of the staff is either 1) on patrol, activated because Governor Davis has decided that California must be on a higher state of alert than the rest of the nation (after all, he might say -- has said -- "All Those Planes Were Coming Here"), and 2) they're down by the Capitol, at Sacramento's big memorial. So, it's quiet, a stark contrast to one year ago today.



One year ago, I was just waking up and clicked on the television to check weather and traffic. Only they were reporting that one of the towers of the World Trade Center was on fire. I sat up in bed and thought, No way! High-rise fires are horrific things, and it's staggering to imagine trying to fight one in so tall a building. I changed channels …
More on Iraq flip-flops



This keeps getting pounded on in Conservative media (notably Rush Limbaugh), and I'd love to have some pundit in the media simply ask one of these fellows: What's changed that makes Saddam less of a threat today than he was in 1998?



Democrats Supported War on Irag in 1998



Democrats are expressing reluctance and sometimes outright opposition to President Bush's plans for action against Iraq, even though they were on board with former President Clinton's plans to attack the rogue nation four years ago.So, what changed...other than who's in the White House?
Osama speaks



With luck, he's coming to us from the grave. In any case, there's: Bin Laden tape praises hijackers - September 9, 2002



"There aren't enough words to describe how great these men were and how great their deeds were," bin Laden said in an audiotape message played Monday by the Qatar-based, Arabic-language television news network Al-Jazeera.Just let's remember that this is what they did.
It's 1:30AM; why aren't I sleeping?



Well, because either 1) I have a serious problem with a toilet I just installed a month ago, or 2) I have a young male teen who can't close a shower curtain. One or the other. If #2, there may be mayhem when the sun rises. We've had this, er, issue before, and he tends to not tell when Things Go Wrong. Like an inch of standing water in the bathroom. Which, over the next hour or so, leeches into the hall carpet. Around ten feet of it, three feet wide, making around 30 square feet of carpet and pad. Soaked. Nice and wet. Squishy to walk on. Ick!



I'm waiting for the towels to dry. Sop up what I can, get a carpet cleaner tomorrow and s-u-c-k the water out. Hopefully before mold sets in. Should be doable, I've been in this sort of mess before.



But I want the cause to be #1, because I can turn off the water and try and figure out a cure.



If #2...damnit, I don't want to be a resident at San Quentin....



(Please, just kidding. I'd …
Meanwhile, the inconsistent



Color me confused (my, what a lovely shade), but I read this bit from Billy:



Former President Bill Clinton urged the Bush administration Thursday to finish the job with Osama bin Laden before taking on Iraq.



"Saddam Hussein didn't kill 3,100 people on Sept. 11," Clinton said. "Osama bin Laden did, and as far as we know he's still alive."



[...]



"I also believe we might do more good for American security in the short run at far less cost by beefing up our efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere to [flush] out the entire network," Clinton said.



Clinton said he supported President Bush's efforts in Afghanistan, including military actions and support of the Afghan government.



--ex-President Bill Clinton, 2002...so I felt the urge to surf (as I'm sure so many others already have) and find from the Google cache, there's the Text Of Clinton Statement On Iraq - February 17, 1998:



We have to defend our future from thes…
Open your eyes....



London to host Islamic 'celebration' of Sept 11



Extremist muslim clerics will meet in London on September 11 to celebrate the anniversary of al-Qaeda's attacks on America and to launch an organisation for Islamic militants.



The conference, which will be attended by the most radical mullahs in Britain, will argue that the atrocities were justified because Muslims must defend themselves against armed aggression.



It will launch the Islamic Council of Britain (ICB), which will aim to implement sharia law in Britain and will welcome al-Qa'eda sympathisers as members.It is not necessary to fabricate inflammatory rhetoric for Islamists (or, if you prefer, Islamofascists); they provide the best stuff themselves.
Hey, they're consistent!



After the bombing of Iraq, danger grows of a US ground assault



Washington's assertion of its right to take unilateral military action to support its global interests has further inflamed international relations. The mounting resentment of many US "allies" was indicated by Paul Quiles, former French defense minister and current chairman of the French National Assembly's defense committee. Quiles denounced the US for playing "world policeman" by attacking Iraq without UN approval. He charged that Washington was deliberately weakening the authority of the UN as part of a strategy "to turn NATO into a military organization with wider aims."Oh, sorry, forgot the date. That's from December 1998. Seems some people are truly stuck in a rut!
Enough already?



I popped to this column on a referal from Instapundit. Jill Stewart writes:



Let me be among the too-few columnists in this self-absorbed, egocentric, materialistic, pleasure-obsessed, jingoistic country of ours to cry out into the great mindless void that no, in fact, we have not changed in the year since September 11.



Moreover, since I feel so much better getting that off my chest, let me add that I am achingly weary of seeing Americans treat the tragedy as if it outstrips every other contemporary tragedy in our world, and I am irked beyond belief that the victims of September 11 and their survivors are treated with a holy sanctity not afforded to other victims and other survivors of man's horrific actions against mankind.She's annoyed that people are still grieving. She finds this appalling. I agree with her on the demonstrated greed of some people, but I also know that some people actually show grief that way; they want something for their loss, damnit.



But if y…
On how to "remember" 9/11



Charles Krauthammer on Remembrance and Resolve:



But we would pay such homage had the World Trade Center and the Pentagon collapsed in an earthquake. They did not. And because they did not, more is required than mere homage and respect. Not just sorrow, but renewed anger. Not just consolation, but renewed determination. And not, God help us, "closure," that clarion call to passivity and resignation, but open-ended action against those who perpetrated Sept. 11 and those who would perpetrate the next Sept. 11.



The temptation on any anniversary is to just look back. But on Dec. 7, 1942, the country did not just look back on the sunken Arizona. It looked forward to the destruction of Japan.He writes that we, as a nation, have a pacifist nature. Proof? It took three years for US to enter World War 1; a surprise attack drove us into WW2, which had already been raging in Europe close to two years. Consider that if Saddam hadn't invaded Kuwait, an…
Clarity from Berkeley



The true explanation of September 11 has been found:



Oliver Poole reports from Berkeley, California, the counter-culture centre of America, on some offbeat analyses of what really happened on September 11.



"After Flight 93 came down in Pennsylvania, they saw a craft buzzing around. Now what was that? All earth air traffic had been grounded. And in the World Trade Centre, where are all the bodies? They were transported out first to be experimented on. Listen to me now, September 11 was all caused by aliens."But of course.



As an aside, Berkeley was where, for the first time, a, er, street resident came up to me, saw my camera, and said, "You can take my picture if you gimme five bucks."
Beware, idiots walk the Earth



As referenced by Best of the Web and mentioned on Rush Limbaugh's Open Line Friday show, Jimmy Carter speaks:



The Troubling New Face of America



Formerly admired almost universally as the preeminent champion of human rights, our country has become the foremost target of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life.Hey, didn't Carter once run for President?



Oh, that's right. He was president. The USSR invaded Afghanistan, I'm sure he spoke harshly at them. Iranians rose up and overthrew a despot, and put in his place a despotic regime, which in turn abducted a group of Americans and held them hostage; Carter used strong language...oh, and tried to micro-manage a flop of a rescue mission (remember Desert One?). The country slipped into malaise and we had double-digit inflation. Jimmy, with brother Billy, just said we had to get used to the fact that we would have to make do with less. And he brok…
For those seeking immortality



French Mayor Bans Residents from Dying



LE LAVANDOU, France (Reuters) - The mayor of a French Mediterranean town, faced with a cemetery "full to bursting," has banned local residents from dying until he can find somewhere else to bury them.Obviously, we all must move to that town. At last, government doing something useful!
The wonders of NPR



So I'm driving into work today, listening to the local National Public Radio (NPR) station. Yes, yes, I know, I should have known better, but while I detest their news coverage (for reasons that will become apparent), I like their little profile stories. Such as the one this morning about bull frogs taking over desert lands in the southwest. Fascinating stuff. Really.



In any event, at around 7:30AM I'm listening to the news. The bad part of NPR. Ugh. And they speak a reason why I detest their news. Seems someone tried to assassinate Afghanistan President Karzai (link to MS-NBC story, NPR doesn't post their stories). What's remarkable, in my mind, about the NPR report was the wording. Someone tries to shoot Karzai and "several people were injured when his American guards returned fire."



The entire tone, the entire way it was presented, was as though the only reason anyone was hurt was because those damn, vicious American lap-dog bastards defend…
Ted Nugent to Lance Bass



Oh, the sage advice of elders:



"[Lance] Bass needs to quit worrying about going into outer space and embrace and celebrate life by learning how to kill his own food," [Ted] Nugent said Tuesday. "A slab of flesh on the back of a deer is the finest source of protein on the planet."But Ted, can't we do both?



(And, damn, it's been too long since my last slab of venison.)
Maybe at least a pretense of impartiality



In today's Sacramento Bee, an editorial on the recently-passed state budget, at the end of which the (anonymous) author writes:



So last Saturday the Assembly ended up, as is so often the case with the two-thirds rule, passing a lowest common dominator budget, one that neither cuts spending nor raises taxes. It pretends to cut spending and pretends to raise revenue, but in fact it pushes off the crisis into next year, when the state is likely to face another shortfall of at least $15 billion.



That's a far worse result than Davis' budget proposal in May or than the budget approved by the state Senate in late June. Indeed, it's not much better than having no budget at all. But as long as California keeps the two-thirds rule, and as long as legislative Republicans regard ideological purity on taxes as more important than governing, the state can't expect much better.So, all right, it's not a great budget. It's plain as day…
Ugh



9/11: ‘American Idol’ seizes the day



So, apparently whoever wins the "American Idol" contest will now sing at the Lincoln Memorial during the 9/11 rememberance ceremonies next week.



This fabulous promotional stunt is the brainchild of Champions of Hope, a D.C.-based group “dedicated to improving the lives of young people” by getting them to participate in community service. Champions of Hope, looking to drum up publicity for the Sept. 11 launch of its United Day of Service campaign, secured permission to stage an event at the Lincoln Memorial and pursued the “American Idol” producers.



Aggressively.Part of me says, "Hey, what the heck. What can it hurt?" After all, the "winner" is -- up to this point -- just another wannabe in the bunch.



On the other hand, it just reeks of a promotional during what should be a solemn rememberance (as if). And, in fact, that's what it is, given the statements by "Champions of Hope."



Still, makes me queasy.
Just Like a Pill



I may have to start listening to more Pink:



Run just as fast as I can

To the middle of nowhere

To the middle of my frustrated fears

And I swear you're just like a pill

Instead of makin' me better, you keep makin' me ill

You keep makin' me illFrom "Just Like a Pill."



Does this describe US/Europe relations?
And the survey says...



Get stuffed!



Survey: Europeans Say U.S. Partly to Blame for 9/11



Most Europeans believe America itself is partly to blame for the devastating attacks on New York and Washington last September 11.



According to a new poll, which questioned more than 9,000 Europeans and Americans about how they look at the world one year after the attacks, 55 percent of Europeans think U.S. foreign policy contributed to the tragic events.



The highest percentage of those who thought Washington should blame itself for the attacks was in France, at 63 percent, while the lowest was in Italy, at 51 percent.This from the people who believe that the death of Diana is the most significant historical event in the last hundred years. Oh, all right, that's just a Brit survey, but see the point. These ninnies believe that the death of a gossip story queen was of greater historical significance than two world wars, or anything else.



Thus, their opinion of our "responsibility" re 9/11 i…
Let's talk



Because these people believe in the open and free exchange of ideas and information....



Powell Booed and Jeered at Global Environment Meeting



Jeers, boos and shouted protests interrupted Secretary of State Colin L. Powell today as he defended the United States' record on the environment and help for the poor at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.



Delegates from American and Australian environmental groups repeatedly interrupted him, shouting "Shame on Bush!" Some held up banners reading, "Betrayed by governments" and "Bush: People and Planet, Not Big Business."It must be nice to be so smug and secure in your position that you don't and won't tolerate any dissent. Bear in mind that in this forum, Powell represented dissent, and this yahoos couldn't tolerate the notion. Lovely people, truly.
Good Morning Afghanistan



This story is just too cool:



On the Radio, Afghans Call Nation to a New Day



In a country where commuters are likely to travel by donkey cart and where many walk long distances for water, a breakfast radio show calls for something of a cultural leap.



Much like the helicopter-borne American troops who clatter across the skies in their hunt for the remnants of Qaeda and Taliban forces, "Good Morning Afghanistan" is a graft from the distant world that has intruded on life here since Sept. 11.



Yet few changes have been more popular, with city dwellers and villagers alike listening in numbers that have stunned the young crew running the program from a dusty studio in Kabul, the capital.And one of the top radio personalities is a woman, doing a job that a short while ago probably would have gotten her brains blown out.



Remember, though, we've done nothing to improve life in Afghanistan. Uh-huh, sure.
Compromises



Den Beste writes a marvelous blog entry about the necessary compromises that go into engineering projects:



Actually, there are a lot of other tradeoffs going on which are less evident, like tailoring the feature set of the project to the design team available, and making plans based on the kinds of components which are readily available. All engineering is a tradeoff.



Run any single one of those parameters to the rail and you make it impossible to complete. It's as simple as that. Define "affordable" as "free" and it can't be done. ("Paid for by someone else" isn't the same as "free".)



Define "acceptable delivery " as "five minutes from now" and you'll be disappointed. Define "safe" as "impossible for there to be any kind of failure" and the engineering process won't ever end.He writes about the "failures" of the World Trade Center in terms of lives saved, and thus que…
Mine eyes have seen the glory




What revolution are You?
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