Rodger L. Simon has been covering this wonderful turn of events — the Oil For Food scandal in the UN goes a long way to explain why France and Russia tried so hard to impede the UN's actions on the Security Council resolutions against Iraq that called for direct action if Saddam failed to meet certain criteria.
They tried so hard because they were roping in money hand over fist and they didn't want the gravy-train to stop… As it stands now, the 'frozen' funds remaining are held in a French bank and there has been no public accounting ever…
From Roger's blog:
As the author of The Big Fix, I call a lot of things “the big” just for fun and, okay, for a bit of low-rent self-promotion. But this really is The Big Cover-Up like nothing before, not Enron, not Monica, not even Watergate, because, if Claudia Rosett's new report is even half right, the UN Oil-for-Food Scandal is on its way from a big cover-up to… in the parlance of its original Godfather (the new one is still free)… The Mother of All Cover-Ups.
The article he points to is by Claudia Rossett:
Just a taste:
The attacks have not been limited to the U.S.-led armed raid last Thursday on the Baghdad home and office of Iraq Governing Council (IGC) member Ahmed Chalabi, in which — by Chalabi's account in a phone interview with me later that same day — U.S. forces seized documentation incriminating to U.N. officials “on every level.” There has also been the harassment recently of a British adviser to the IGC, Claude Hankes-Drielsma. This past February, Hankes-Drielsma lined up KPMG International, an accounting firm, together with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a law firm, to carry out an audit of Oil-for-Food for the IGC. He testified before Congress last month that the KPMG investigation “is expected to demonstrate the clear link between those countries which were quite ready to support Saddam Hussein's regime for their own financial benefit, at the expense of the Iraqi people, and those that opposed the strict application of sanctions and the overthrow of Saddam.” (Security Council members France, Russia and China come to mind.)
Last Thursday, the same day as the raid on Chalabi, an as-yet unidentified person hacked into Hankes-Drielsma's computer and deleted all the files, as Hankes-Drielsma recounted to me in a phone interview. The computer expert called in to cope with damage “said he'd never seen anything quite like it. They deleted even the backup files,” says Hankes-Drielsma. Asked if he has been physically threatened as well, Hankes-Drielsma, says, “No comment.”
She closes with this:
…And Oil-for-Food, overall, was simply too enormous and too rotten to stay stuffed under a rug. Information will almost certainly continue to seep out. Right now, amid all the high and mighty talk about a clean and transparent new start for Iraq, would be a good moment for both the U.N. and the White House to reconsider the perils of cover-ups.
Check it out…
Steven DenBeste weighs in with an excellent essay on heroism.
He is drawing his examples specifically from World War Two but the actions of the people there translate directly to any other conflict including the current War on Terrorism and Islamo-Fascism.
A very thoughtful read — something to keep in your mind when you read the mainstream media…
This is too bizarre to be anything but real…
From Slashdot comes this story of a certain password.
From this article in Center for Defense Information
Last month I asked Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, what he believed back in the 1960s was the status of technical locks on the Minuteman intercontinental missiles. These long-range nuclear-tipped missiles first came on line during the Cuban missile crisis and grew to a force of 1,000 during the McNamara years — the backbone of the U.S. strategic deterrent through the late 1960s. McNamara replied, in his trade-mark, assertively confident manner that he personally saw to it that these special locks (known to wonks as “Permissive Action Links”) were installed on the Minuteman force, and that he regarded them as essential to strict central control and preventing unauthorized launch.
When the history of the nuclear cold war is finally comprehensively written, this McNamara vignette will be one of a long litany of items pointing to the ignorance of presidents and defense secretaries and other nuclear security officials about the true state of nuclear affairs during their time in the saddle. What I then told McNamara about his vitally important locks elicited this response: “I am shocked, absolutely shocked and outraged. Who the hell authorized that?” What he had just learned from me was that the locks had been installed, but everyone knew the combination.
The Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha quietly decided to set the “locks” to all zeros in order to circumvent this safeguard. During the early to mid-1970s, during my stint as a Minuteman launch officer, they still had not been changed. Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel. SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders. And so the “secret unlock code” during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at OOOOOOOO.
I would suspect that things are a bit better now but I'm not feeling very reasured now…
There is a flap going on over whether the Palestinian terrorists are using the United Nations ambulances to further aid their terror operations.
The United Nations is saying no - a report from UNWRA’s commissioner general Peter Hansen says that Israel should apologize for even suggesting such a thing. As reported in the Jersulam Post, he says:
UNWRA’s commissioner general Peter Hansen is demanding Israel apologize for allegations made last week by defense minister Shaul Mofaz that UN ambulances had been used to transport IDF soldier body remains to terrorist strongholds, reported IBA news.
Hansen said a letter requesting proof from the Israeli government had so far met with no reply. Accordingly, Mofaz has no reason to believe there is any truth at all to the extremely unfortunate accusation being made against UNRWA, said Hansen.
But if you go and look at the Israeli Defense Force website you will see a photograph of:
Israel channel 10 aired yesterday Inon Maga'l item showing armed Palestinians use UNRWA ambulances to flee undercover.
Photographs taken at the Gaza Zeintun neighborhood about two weeks ago, on the same night the first APC was exploded, clearly show armed Palestinians boarding a UN-marked ambulance with a UN flag, and flee the scene.
The reporter stressed that this was not a Palestinian Red Cross ambulance, known to have transported armored Palestinians since the outbreak of events, but rather a supposedly neutral ambulance of the UN.
We should also not forget that Mr. Hansen wrote this about the supposed 'massacre' at Jenin:
“I have never seen such a human tragedy as that I saw in Jenin. A Swiss seismic expert who accompanied me to Jenin was also shocked and even said he had never seen such a destruction in any part of the world for decades. I think that such massacres will never be wiped out of the human memory and their effects will be remembered by several Palestinian generations.”
This was at the top of the media spin when the Palestinians were telling the world that April, 2002 Jenin was a massacre of thousands.
Refresh your memory here:
Palestinian mouthpieces claim that the Israeli military killed as many as 500 civilians in Jenin, a stronghold of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. When the Israelis cleared the booby traps and allowed Western media into the city on Monday, the reality turned to be completely different: difficult door-to-door infantry fight; 23 Israeli soldiers fallen in battle; dozens of terrorists killed. No massacre.
The Jenin “massacre” that never was is yet another Big Lie in the Palestinian PR campaign, a campaign that for its persistence and audacity would have made Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler's propaganda chief, proud. And with good reason. Goebbels's legacy lives today — from Damascus to Ramallah to Cairo. According to a prominent Egyptian writer, the Egyptian press ministry was set up in the early 1950s by the East Germans who learned the trade under Stalin, but before that, under Hitler and Goebbels. And Communist archives in Moscow demonstrate that many Palestinian leaders were trained at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow and KGB camps in the Crimea, both temples of Soviet propaganda and subversion.
U.S. envoy Burns calls Jenin refugee camp a 'terrible tragedy'
JENIN - A U.S. Middle East envoy toured the ruins of Jenin
refugee camp on Saturday after an Israeli army pullback, saying enormous suffering had been visited on Palestinian civilians there.
UN envoy denies accusing Israel of massacre in Jenin refugee camp
At a press conference held Friday at the American Colony hotel in East Jerusalem, United Nations envoy to the Middle East Terje Roed-Larsen said that he had not accused Israel of carrying out a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp, and that he was not yet in possession of all the facts regarding what had happened during the IDF military operation in the Jenin refugee camp.
And for some aerial photographs showing the wreckage and desolation, check out this site: Aerial Photographs of Jenin which shows the entire combat zone to have only covered a few city blocks in the refuge zone.
Major hat tip to Little Green Footballs
Jen and I are taking a couple days off to move the big furnature to our new place.
Blogging will be sporadic during the day but will resume tonight and tomorrow.
Stumbled into this web site: Future of Iraq Portal
Big collection of links to the various parties, offices and cultural websites.
Worth spending some time here — Iraq is a big place and there is lots going on there…
has an excellent paper up on his personal website.
The Wages of Appeasement
How Jimmy Carter and academic multiculturalists helped bring us Sept. 11.
Imagine a different Nov. 4, 1979, in Tehran. Shortly after Iranian terrorists storm the American Embassy and take some 90 American hostages, President Carter announces that Islamic fundamentalism is not a legitimate response to the excess of the shah but a new and dangerous fascism that threatens all that liberal society holds dear. And then he issues an ultimatum to Tehran's leaders: Release the captives or face a devastating military response.
When that demand is not met, instead of freezing Iran's assets, stopping the importation of its oil, or seeking support at the U.N., Mr. Carter orders an immediate blockade of the country, followed by promises to bomb, first, all of its major military assets, and then its main government buildings and residences of its ruling mullocracy. The Ayatollah Khomeini might well have called his bluff; we may well have tragically lost the hostages (151 fewer American lives than the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would take four years later in a single day in Lebanon). And there might well have been the sort of chaos in Tehran that we now witness in Baghdad. But we would have seen it all in 1979—and not in 2001, after almost a quarter-century of continuous Middle East terrorism, culminating in the mass murder of 3,000 Americans and the leveling of the World Trade Center.
The 20th century should have taught the citizens of liberal democracies the catastrophic consequences of placating tyrants. British and French restraint over the occupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the absorption of the Czech Sudetenland, and the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia did not win gratitude but rather Hitler's contempt for their weakness. Fifty million dead, the Holocaust and the near destruction of European civilization were the wages of “appeasement”—a term that early-1930s liberals proudly embraced as far more enlightened than the old idea of “deterrence” and “military readiness.”
Read it and remember when the election comes up…
Work is intruding waay to much in my life - fortunately there's only a couple more weeks of it before we move 150 miles away into the country…
But this self-appointed military watchdog is harder to find these days: messages left for him at the Inn go unreturned, and his media appearances have dried up like Groom Lake itself. “I think he's really not as motivated to talk to the media anymore as he used to be,” says friend and fellow base-watcher Joerg Arnu. The reason: it turns out the truth really was out there, and the government didn't appreciate Clark digging it up.
So what did they find:
Sniffing Out Surveillance
Arnu, a Las Vegas software engineer, has shared Clark's preoccupation with the Groom Lake base since 1999, when he made a trip to the area to see what all the fuss was about. “I thought, okay, I'll give it a try, see what's out there… A couple of days turned into a couple of weeks and before I knew it I started developing a website about Area 51,” says Arnu.
So when Clark found the new generation of road sensor, Arnu drove out to help investigate further. The pair found that, at close range, they could use a handheld frequency counter to pick up the wireless signals given off by the devices as a car passes. Over the following month and half, Clark and Arnu engaged in a kind of geocaching game with the Men in Black, systematically sniffing out the road sensors with the frequency counter, exhuming them, and opening them up. They discovered that each device was coded with three-digit identifier that could be read off an internal dial, allowing Arnu to make a list that correlated each unit's I.D. number with its GPS coordinates, creating a virtual map of a portion of the surveillance network surrounding the Groom Lake facility. Some of the sensors were miles away from the base.
“We dug up about 30 or 40 of them on various access roads leading to the base on public land,” Arnu says, insisting that he and Clark always carefully reburied each unit after logging it, and even tested it with the frequency counter to make sure it was still working before moving on to the next one.
They put this info on their website and…
…in June of last year Clark led a news crew from Las Vegas' KLAS television station into the desert and showed them some of the road sensors.
The following week, according to the station's report, FBI and Air Force agents raided Clark's trailer home in Rachel, and carted off his computer, photographs and records.
Their primary gripe is that these sensors were placed on public land - park areas and public highways leading to vantage points overlooking Groom Lake and Area 51. Invasion of privacy?
And why is it that no one talks about Area 52??? Hmmm??? This is where the food technology recovered from the crashed spaceship is investigated. Where do you think CheezeWhiz and Pop Rocks came from…
Federal standards for what foods can be called organic might have seemed like the final word on the issue when they went into effect two years ago. But the Agriculture Department's interpretation of the laws governing the National Organic Program has fed a fierce debate on what should be allowed in such products.
Last month the department issued what it called clarifications of the standards, allowing antibiotics in dairy cows, certain chemicals in pesticides and livestock feed containing nonorganic fish meal.
The father of national organic standards, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, called the Agriculture Department's directives “unilateral fiats which may violate the letter of the law,” and he added, “They certainly violate its spirit.”
This is a big can of worms. There are also issues unrelated to this regarding Organic Farming and Food Production — for our business (Hard Cider), we are allowed to use sulfites to regulate wild yeast activity but these have to come from Sulfur Dioxide gas — we cannot use powdered forms such as metabisulfites. SO2 is incredibly toxic and using it in a small-scale production such as ours would be impossible. Our Hard Cider will be made from Organic Apples but the Cider itself will not be Organic. And this is just one example — I”ll post about pesticides at some other time… Sheesh!
I need to add a new Category — we already have Politics, there needs to be a 'Dirty Politics' one as well.
Democrats' Attempt To Circumvent McCain-Feingold Coming Unraveled
By: Kevin Connors
Negative publicity over the supposedly 'non-partisan issue-oriented' 527 organizations - exempt from the normal soft-money restrictions is exposing the Democrats for the cynical hypocrites they are. Two of McCain-Feingold's most notable promoters were Bill Clinton, as reported on here by Bob Novak:
From the linked Town Hall article:
Bill Clinton, who as president professed to be in favor of campaign finance reform, will be in Manhattan this week raising funds for one of the Democratic “527” organizations set up to raise soft money, which the McCain-Feingold Act seeks to prohibit.
Clinton is listed with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise as “special guests” Thursday evening for a “private dinner” at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel raising money for the Democratic Governor Media Fund. The price of admission: $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000.
The fund is described in the invitation to the dinner as “a new 527 political organization” that will run “unlimited independent issue ads” in states where more money is needed. “We will make sure,” says the invitation, “voters are aware of the failed policies of the Bush administration.”
There is also a link to the antics of George Soros, reported on here by Byron York:
A few months ago, Soros announced that the Bush administration had become so “dangerous” that he would scale back his philanthropy abroad to concentrate on beating Bush at home.
Soros’s biggest contribution to date — at least the biggest that is publicly known — is a $10 million gift to America Coming Together, the new Democratic group that will coordinate voter turnout in competitive states across the country.
Of course, those old-style soft-money contributions to the parties were outlawed by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. Because of that, groups like America Coming Together — known as 527s because of the section of the tax code that provides for them — are now taking over much of the work that the Democratic Party used to do.
It’s legal, but certainly not in the reform spirit. “I think this is a new form of soft money,” says Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity. “I have a hard time seeing what the difference is between a soft-money donor to a party and a big 527 donor, especially when both give million-dollar checks.”
Time to take another look into the Tides Foundation…
Deep trouble for weapons smugglers
Gaza Strip arms prices reportedly have spiked since Israel began cracking down on weapons-smuggling tunnels.
Ha’aretz reported Tuesday that a contraband AK-47 bullet, which cost just more than $1 before the start of the intifada in September 2000 now goes for five times as much in Gaza. Israeli authorities monitor such inflation as a gauge of the army’s success in uncovering tunnels in Rafah, which lies on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.
Awwwww… Maybe we should take up a collection…
Most CD-ROM blanks use azo or cyanine (green, silver or blue in color) dye for their recording medium. These dyes are sensitive to light and can fade over time rendering the disk unreadable.
A longer lasting alternative is Phthalocyanine (gold in color). These are made in Boulder, CO by MAM-A Cost is higher (about $1.60 each in bulk packs of 100) but they are expected to be readable for 300 years.
Clive Thompson — author of the collision detection weblog wrote an article on art forgery that was recently published in New York magazine about an art dealer who would buy a mid-level impressionist artwork, have it copied and see the copy with the documentation and credentials of the original. He was able to get away with this until two art auction houses (Christie’s and Sotheby’s) realized that they both had the same painting for sale in their spring catalogs… Oooops…
From collision detection:
Vase de Fleurs (Lilas) is not one of Paul Gauguin’s greatest works. It’s a “middle market” painting, which means it changes hands usually for only a few hundred thousand dollars, and without much fanfare. But in May 2000, the painting proved it could still turn heads. When Christie’s and Sotheby’s released spring catalogues for their modern-art auctions, they were alarmed to discover that each was offering the painting — and each house thought it had the original.
One of the paintings, clearly, was a fake. So the auction houses flew both paintings to Sylvie Crussard, a Gauguin expert at the Wildenstein Institute in Paris. She put them side by side and in a few minutes saw that Christie’s version was, in the delicate argot of the trade, “not right.” (The auction house just barely managed to yank its catalogue back from the printers in time.) Still, it was the best Gauguin counterfeit she’d ever seen. “This was a unique case of resemblance. You never see two works which are that similar,” Crussard marvels.
Fascinating story — some art fraud cases reach the point where the forgery becomes more valuable than the original work.
S. Norvell writes:
The ACLU is threatening to sue the county of Los Angeles unless it removes a tiny cross that has been on its official seal for some 47 years, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.
The southern California chapter of the group contends that the cross represents a government-sponsored endorsement of Christianity.
“Los Angeles County is the most diverse county in the United States, and if the city of Redlands decided it had to do something, we think the county of Los Angeles should also,” ACLU Executive Director Ramona Ripston said.
Sheesh! What will they go after next - the “In God we Trust” on all US currency?
One comment from the LA Daily News article puts a perspective on this:
County spokeswoman Judy Hammond said removing it would cost “untold thousands and thousands of dollars” because the seal is on many of the county's 5,000 buildings, thousands of vehicles, stationery, business cards, plaques, flags and Internet sites.
Sheesh — why don't you go and do something worthwhile with all your time and money…
Fascinating article at CrumbTrail. Back40 links to several articles outlining the history and current development of bacteriophages, their 'decline' when 'modern' antibiotics entered the arena and their 're-discovery' as resistant diseases are starting to develop. The premise is simplicity itself - find something that makes the bacteria sick and die. There are lots of viruses out there that do this.
Adam, Had em
The use of bacteriophages, rather than antibiotics, is receiving increasing attention
From the linked Eureka Alert article:
Researchers from Nottingham University in the United Kingdom have developed a new method for reducing the level of contamination of chickens by the foodborne bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. They are using bacterial viruses to target and kill the organism. They report their research today at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
In the study, the researchers isolated a number of naturally occurring bacterial viruses (called bacteriophage) that can infect and kill campylobacter bacteria from the feces of chickens. They then used these bacteriophage to treat chickens that were infected with campylobacter.
“Campylobacter bacteriophage are naturally present in chickens and have no recorded detrimental effect on the health of chickens or human beings,” says Catherine Loc-Carrillo, a researcher on the study. “In nature a balance exists between predator and prey which allows both [the bacterium and the bacteriophage] to flourish. Here the use of bacteriophage to reduce campylobacters within the chicken gut merely involves shifting nature's balance in our favor for a short period of time. This time point should be just prior to when the birds are sent for slaughter.”
For more background, Back40 provides this link: History
From CS Monitor comes this article on the current state of the National Parks system.
National Parks fast falling into disrepair
Leaky lodge roofs. Potholed roads. Beaches closed for lack of a lifeguard. Not enough rangers in their Smokey Bear hats teaching kids about flora and fauna.
It's not a picture Americans want to imagine for their national parks - the “crown jewels” often likened to European cathedrals.
But as the nation approaches the year's first holiday weekend when families head for the mountains, seashore, and battlefield monuments, there's a groundswell of concern (bordering on revolt) among current and retired US Park Service employees over the condition of national parks.
Some specific examples:
And the Park Service itself?
The National Park Service is a mammoth organization. With some 20,000 professionals and 125,000 volunteers, it oversees 388 parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, lakeshores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. The number of park units has nearly doubled since 1970, and annual visits now total nearly 300 million. All of this costs some $2.3 billion a year.
This is spooky — from the NY Times:
Russian Scientist Dies in Ebola Accident at Former Weapons Lab
A Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia has died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle laced with ebola, the deadly virus for which there is no vaccine or treatment, the lab's parent Russian center announced over the weekend.
Scientists and officials said the accident had raised concerns about safety and secrecy at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, known as Vector, which in Soviet times specialized in turning deadly viruses into biological weapons. Vector has been a leading recipient of aid in an American program to help former Soviet scientists and labs convert to peaceful research.
While officials at Vector said the scientist, Antonina Presnyakova, was working on an ebola vaccine, they have declined to identify who was financing the research or discuss its specific nature.
Terry Fredeking, the president and founder of Antibody Systems, a Texas-based company, said that while his company had spent more than $150,000 in the last five years on joint research on ebola at Vector, the accident did not involve research he was financing.
If it wasn't being bankrolled by any company we know about, then who was behind this work and why did the Russians keep it a secret for so long… Ebola is nasty nasty stuff - high fatality rate, no vaccine, no known cure.
Interesting article about the development of technology in China and the question regarding their proprietary standards. From the Canadian CNews site:
China seeks to develop its own technology standards
DVD? China's trying to do it one better — with a technology called EVD.
CDMA? The digital cell phone standard is so 2003, the Chinese say. Give TD-SCDMA a try instead.
Intel Corp.'s Centrino and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows? If you're doing business with Beijing, better bone up on WAPI and Red Flag Linux, too.
The reasons for this:
This trend goes beyond commercial and security concerns. Cultural pride is at stake: A once-great China humbled by Western powers in the 19th century doesn't want to be undercut again.
In some cases, China is tired of paying foreign patent fees for products made and sold domestically — such as with DVD players, for which Chinese firms must pay $4.50 per machine to the six Japanese companies that developed the underlying DVD technology.
And the downside to this:
“Nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” Clark said. “You wave the flag if you need financial assistance, because maybe you're not able to compete.”
For one thing, a homegrown format like EVD would become useless if few movies are released for it.
Demand in China has been limited so far. Even the People's Daily newspaper, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, has reported on its Web site that Chinese consumers are frustrated that their new EVD players can't play DVDs.
As for shunning CDMA, not only is China already behind on its own version, but it risks isolating itself — and falling behind the rest of the world. For example, the effort might hurt Chinese companies trying to export cell phones.
This will be interesting to watch over the next ten years or so…
For an excellent (technical) description of CDMA and why it blows the socks off GSM, check this site out…
President Bush was scheduled to speak tonight and he asked each of the major networks to carry it. They refused. As CNN International reports:
Networks pull plug on Bush speech
ABC, CBS and NBC decided not to offer live coverage of President Bush's speech about Iraq Monday, although the cable news networks planned to pre-empt their regular programming for the address.
Here is the transcript: WhiteHouse
Here is a sample paragraph:
We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving, and it will tend toward hope, or tend toward tragedy. Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. They seek to impose Taliban-like rule, country by country, across the greater Middle East. They seek the total control of every person, and mind, and soul, a harsh society in which women are voiceless and brutalized. They seek bases of operation to train more killers and export more violence. They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein. They seek weapons of mass destruction, to impose their will through blackmail and catastrophic attacks. None of this is the expression of a religion. It is a totalitarian political ideology, pursued with consuming zeal, and without conscience.
Good stuff! The Right Stuff!
National Geographic warns plutocrat, SUV-driving, oil-swilling swine Capitalists that “the vital fuel will become scarce and expensive.” Lengthy article on demise of oil, written in NatGeo's standard in medias res style.
Article has very interesting map of proven oil reserves, on NatGeo website, but better presented in paper magazine. (When will Commissar's house collapse from weight of accumulated NatGeos?). Overlaid on black outline map of world, are squares representing proven reserves, in billions of barrels, totalling just over 1 trillion barrels, or 1,000,000,000,000, or 1,000 billion, however you express it. Unsurprisingly, Saudi “Riyadh Delenda Est” Arabia leads with 261 billion barrels, then Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and UAE, with 100+ billion each. Outside of the Middle East, Venezuela with 78 billion and Russia with 60 billion loom large. Overall, global proven reserves, as of 2004, amount to 1,000 billion barrels.
Praise to Comrade Stalin, the Commissar has a 1968 copy of Oxford Economic Atlas of the World. One of Commissar's favorite books. It provides unchanging historical facts, not subject to Memory Hole, MiniTruth spin, or other problems of transitory digital age.
How many barrels of proven reserves of oil in 1968? Any comrade care to guess? We have been using lots of oil in past 36 years since 1968. Israeli tanks alone, in their “brutal, illegal, immoral, occupation and genocide of the Palestinian people” must have used at least 100 billion barrels. How much oil did world have in 1968?
Heh. Indeed. 453 billion barrels.
Der Commissar goes on:
Nyet, is not mis-print, nor confusion by Commissar. Is correct. 453 billion barrels in 1968. World has used much since, And NOW we have 1,000 billion barrels. Nyet, oil has not been created.
Key phrase is “proven reserves,” which precisely means oil “recoverable by existing technologies at today's prices.” At today's prices? What Capitalist propaganda is that? Oil is oil. When pumped out, like emptying bathtub, is gone, all gone. Da?
Nyet. When price goes up, oil companies dig a little deeper, can afford to invest a little more, use better equipment. DA! When price goes up, like black magic, proven reserves increase. Like squeezing sponge; you squeeze harder, more liquid comes out.
As one of the commenters said — sounds suspiciously like “Supply and Demand”
One great quote from Christopher Hitchens:
…Speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans.
They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on.
And they’ve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.”
Travel plans? Check out FactoryToursUSA and see if there might not be a Factory you could go through. Visitors to WA State have such options:
and much much more…
God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
— Sir William Bragg
More on the environmental front… According to a story in ChannelNewsAsia:
Pink dinosaur grabs centre stage on remote New Zealand volcano
Scientists using a camera to monitor a remote New Zealand volcano over the Internet have struck an odd problem - a pink dinosaur.
New Zealand's Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) have installed a digital camera in the crater of the volcano which makes up most of White Island in the Bay of Plenty, east of Auckland.
The often active volcano draws tourists by boat but most people do not go ashore on the uninhabited, rumbling island.
To keep a close watch, GNS installed a digital camera on the island and post a shot taken every hour on their website.
But suddenly a pink dinosaur has appeared in the shot.
“Some wag has glued a pink dinosaur in front of our digital camera,” GNS' John Callan said.
The website is here: White Island Crater
Professor James Lovelock, author of the Gaia hypothesis is now saying that Nuclear Power is the way to go… Took you long enough!
From an article in the U.K. Independent:
Global warming is now advancing so swiftly that only a massive expansion of nuclear power as the world's main energy source can prevent it overwhelming civilisation, the scientist and celebrated Green guru, James Lovelock, says.
His call will cause huge disquiet for the environmental movement. It has long considered the 84-year-old radical thinker among its greatest heroes, and sees climate change as the most important issue facing the world, but it has always regarded opposition to nuclear power as an article of faith. Last night the leaders of both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth rejected his call.
Professor Lovelock, who achieved international fame as the author of the Gaia hypothesis, the theory that the Earth keeps itself fit for life by the actions of living things themselves, was among the first researchers to sound the alarm about the threat from the greenhouse effect.
Good move although our contributions to the present warming cycle are much overstated. We are emerging from a recent cold cycle which followed the medieval warm cycle (remember all of the vineyards in Greenland).
The only issue I have with Nuclear Power is that we need to do what the US Navy, the French and Japanese do — they only build a few different kinds of plants and if something starts going wrong with a pump, they will go through and upgrade all of the pumps in that kind of plant. As it is now, all of the US commercial power plants are unique — each one is different so there is no form of communal learning and improvement possible.
From the Washington Post comes this story of a Senator who wished for something — and got it…
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. wondered aloud one day in 2002 whether someone could build an atomic weapon from parts available on the open market. His audience, the leaders of the government's nuclear laboratories, said it could be done.
Then do it, the Delaware Democrat, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, instructed the scientists in a confidential session. A few months later, they returned to the soundproof Senate meeting room with a workable nuclear weapon, missing only the fissile material.
“It was bigger than a breadbox and smaller than a dump truck, but they were able to get it in,” Biden said in a recent speech. The scientists “explained how — literally off the shelf, without doing anything illegal — they actually constructed this device.”
And fissile material is not that hard to come by. eBay anyone?
Sheesh — go away for a couple of days and one of the mainstays of blogging unleashes another two-part post.
Stop what you are doing right now and go read this:
Bill Whittle: Strength (Part 1)
Bill Whittle: Strength (Part2)
A very short taste:
Al Sadr, you less than magnificent bastard! We read your book!
Blah, blah… war is lost… blah blah blah… disaster, wreck and ruin… Only it turns out that the United States military may have produced a few life-long professionals who actually hold victory more precious than crowing loud. Many of us value reason over emotion, and reality over wishful thinking. Well, we did not level Fallujah, and we did not do it because those bodies on that bridge were bait, pure and simple. We didn’t take the bait. Or, I should say, our military didn’t take the bait; I took it, hook line and sinker. I wanted to level the goddam city and then walk away and let them kill each other. Now, as Al Sadr’s support evaporates; as his militia thugs are being hunted and killed by shadowy Iraqi ghost armies and extremely corporeal Marines; as his fellow Mullahs condemn him; as Iraqi demonstrations against him and all that poison and ruin he represents continue to rise; as his headquarters are destroyed, his most vicious ‘soldiers’ killed in their own backyards, playing defense in an urban environment by Marines whose skill and tactics stagger credulity for their expertise and success – now, we must ask ourselves: did you want to feel good or did you want to win?
I want to win. I was an idiot for taking that bait. And I thank God daily that America makes better, smarter people than me.
Read the whole thing…
There seems to be more to this story than meets the eye… Kim DuToit points to a link from the USA Defense Department who reports on some of the items found at the site of the purported “wedding” party (you know, the one held at 3:00am - blogged about it here and here).
From the DOD news article:
“Contrary to media reports, there was no wedding tent and no nuptial tent in the area,” Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq said during a Baghdad news conference.
“To the allegation that there was a wedding going on, there was no evidence of a wedding,” Kimmitt reiterated. “There were no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration and no gifts.
“The men were almost all military-aged, no family elders that one would expect to see at an event of this type,” he said.
To help substantiate his comments, the general showed reporters slides of items found at the site, which included a significant number of weapons, battery packs used to power improvised explosive devices and a host of other non-wedding-related items.
“What was interesting is that the building seemed to be somewhat of a dormitory,” Kimmitt pointed out. “There were more than 300 sets of bedding gear in it and about 100 sets of prepackaged clothing. It's suspected that when foreign fighters come in from other countries they change their clothes into typical Iraqi clothing sets.
“We also found a significant number of identity cards, ID-making machines, the capability to make exit visas for Iraq and a couple of passports,” the general noted. “And we found a waist-high medical table for examination and treatment.”
Say what you may about the US Military, they hold themselves accountable - if they put on their website that they have the photos and documentation, they do…
A couple of the results:
20. On the situation in Iraq today, where do you think most of the problems are being created?
1. In Iraq 23%
2. In Washington, DC, or 18
3. In the news media 27
4. (Combination) 21
5. (All) 8
6. (None) -
7. (Not sure) 3
27. Which of the following news stories upset you more?
1. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners
by U.S. soldiers 8%
2. The beheading of an American civilian by Muslim terrorists 60
3. (Both equal) 29
4. (Not sure) 3
28. Do you think the media spent an excessive amount of time covering either of the following news stories?
1. The Iraqi prisoner abuse story 34%
2. The beheading of American Nick Berg 9
3. (Both were covered excessively) 35
4. (Neither was covered excessively) 15
5. (Not sure) 7
Glen posts a bunch of links and other people's thoughts on this. Check it out…
Blogging is now officially passé. Bill Gates has praised it and says that corporate executives should run blogs for the benefit of their customers. And there is broad expectation that Microsoft will start making tools for blogging.
Sigh… and we were all having so much fun, too…
From the BBC article:
Blogs are good for business, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has said.
In a speech to an audience of chief executives, Mr Gates said the regularly updated journals, or blogs, could be a good way for firms to tell customers, staff and partners what they are doing.
Another Friday, another excellent column by Victor Davis Hanson.
Season of Apologies
It’s time for reckless critics to own up.
President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld were both asked to apologize recently for the illegal and amoral behavior of a few miscreant soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They did so without qualifications, despite the fact the military had itself uncovered the transgressions and already prepared a blistering indictment of such reprehensible acts. Media scrutiny was intense; a general has already been removed from command; court trials are scheduled; and more resignations, demotions, and jail time loom.
But since we are in the season of apologies, we might as well continue it to the bitter end. Here I do not mean the buffoons like Michael Moore whose remorse would be as spurious as the original slander was lunatic, but rather serious commentators and statesmen who have crossed the line and need to step back. So here it goes.
Ted Kennedy is the senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts. He wields enormous influence and has appointed himself as surrogate spokesman for the Democratic opposition. Yet here is how he recently weighed in about Abu Ghraib: “Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management — U.S. management.”
Mr. Kennedy should apologize. His reckless and feeble attempts at moral equivalence are wrong in matters of magnitude, government responsibility, and public disclosure, remorse, and accountability.
Paging Mr. Thomas Friedman:
If Mr. Friedman cannot produce a reputable source or direct quotation for such an unfortunate attribution that borders on character assassination, he should apologize for being both wrong and incendiary.
And Mr. Annan:
So far Kofi Annan — whose own son, Kojo, was at one time associated with the Swiss Cotecna consortium involved in the shameful profiteering — has not apologized to the Iraqi people. He should. Again, his agency's wrongdoing did not result in humiliation for some, but probably cost the lives of thousands while under his watch.
Victor closes with these thoughts:
Still, in just a year the worst mass murderer in recent history is gone and a consensual government is scheduled to assume power in his place in just a few weeks. Postwar Iraq is not a cratered Dresden or the rubble of Stalingrad — it is seeing power, water, and fuel production at or above prewar levels. For all the recent mishaps, two truths still remain about Iraq — each time the American military forcibly takes on the insurrectionists, it wins; and each time local elections are held, moderate Iraqis, not Islamic radicals, have won.
So let us calm down and let events play out. If it were not an election year, Mr. Kennedy would dare not say such reprehensible things. In two or three months when there is a legitimate Iraqi government in power, Mr. Friedman may not wish to level such absurd charges. And when the truth comes out about the U.N.'s past role in Iraq, both Iraqis and Americans may not be so ready to entrust the new democracy's future to an agency that has not only done little to save Bosnians or Rwandans, but over the past decade may well have done much to harm Iraqis.
But in the meantime, let these who have transgressed all join the president and the secretary of defense and say they are sorry for what they have recklessly said and the untold harm that they have done.
The Watcher of Weasels has a link to a wonderful report of a talk that John Rhys-Davies gave:
In response to a question from Scarborough about the likelyhood that Michael Moore might be named filmmaker of the year at the Cannes Film Festival, Rhys-Davies had this to say: “Well, you see, the French have a lot of problems internally. And the one unifying factor that they can find in their society is to bash America. So don‘t be surprised by anything the French do. Their society is so troubled and it‘s about 24, 25 years away from major civil war. So you can discount most of what they do.”
Later, Rhys-Davies added this: “My beef with him would be this, that, when you knock America, you run a real danger that you will change the perception of the world — that the world has of America. Right at the moment, the Americans are doing something very, very important and I believe very virtuous. The notion that we could take Iraq, for instance, which has a strong middle class, and turn it right in the middle of Arabia and turn it into a functioning democratic capitalist society and use that to galvanize the rest of the Arab world out of the 13th century is a virtuous vision. And you could disagree with the tactics of it or not, but the vision is admirable. And not to see that is deplorable. Moore is making a fortune out of his anti-Americanism. And I don‘t blame the guy for making a buck, but he‘s not serious.”
Interesting update on the Iraqi wedding party that was fired on by a US helicopter a few days ago. I blogged about it here.
This report in FoxNews tells of quite a different story:
But senior military officials in Washington said U.S. and coalition forces conducted a strike on “anti-coalition vehicles” along the Iraqi-Syrian border.
According to the military, at 3 a.m. local time Wednesday, coalition forces conducted an operation against a suspected foreign fighter safe house in the open desert. The house was 25 kilometers from the Syrian border, 85 kilometers southwest of Husaybah, military officials said.
Coalition forces came under hostile fire and called for support from the air. After the strike, coalition forces recovered numerous weapons, foreign passports, a SATCOM radio and two million Iraqi and Syrian dinars, military officials said.
The attack killed about 40 people, officials said.
A Coalition Press Information Center official said that since it was carried out during a raid on a suspected safe house, the air strike would therefore be “within the rules of engagement.”
That official reiterated that the objective was a suspected hideout, and had no information about a wedding party.
Wretchard at Belmont Club has some interesting analyses as well as a timeline of reporting showing the story shifting:
Why was a wedding party in full swing at 02:45 am in the middle of the desert? A glance at the map would show the area in which the wedding took place was 250 kilometers from “Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi,” and who “put the death toll at 45.” A long way to go for medical treatment or burial when Qusabayah is 50 kilometers away. Under normal circumstances, there are two wounded for every dead. By the normal ratios there should have been at least 90 injured. There was a videotape of “showing a truck containing bodies of people who were allegedly killed in the incident. Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless.” A video of the dead, but where were the wounded?
Major force in the drum world. The BBC has an Obit:
Elvin Ray Jones, a renowned jazz drummer and member of John Coltrane's quartet, has died in the US aged 76.
Jones, who also played alongside Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, died of heart failure in a New Jersey hospital on Tuesday.
Ripe old age but still…
Evan Kirchhoff over at 101-280 has an excellent post-mortem of the supposed Iraq prison abuse photos - the ones with the CPA soldiers raping the Iraqi women.
The Boston Globe bought this as being real without the expediency of checking their sources. The sources for these photos turns out to be a Hungarian pron site called ” sexinwar ” (hint: add an http://www. and a .com to see what we are talking about)
Fortunately, another paper caught the mistake and brought this to people's attention:
Globe caught with pants down: Paper duped into running porn photos
The Boston Globe was reeling yesterday after graphic photos of alleged sexual abuse of Iraqi women by U.S. soldiers turned out to be staged shots from a hardcore porn Web site.
bq. “This photo should not have appeared in the Globe,” editor Martin Baron said in a statement. “First, images portrayed in the photo were overly graphic. Second, as the story clearly pointed out, those images were never authenticated as photos of prisoner abuse. There was a lapse in judgment and procedures, and we apologize for it.”
bq. The 'lapse' came after City Councilor Chuck Turner and perennial pot-stirrer Sadiki Kambon called a press conference in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to display more purported abuse photos. Turner claimed they came from 'a very legitimate person' but admitted they hadn't been authenticated. Kambon said he got them from a representative of the Nation of Islam. Neither Turner nor Kambon returned calls.
But as Evan says:
But hey, you've got the White House saying one thing, and some screaming guy from the Nation of Islam saying another — who's to say what is true?
Alex Singleton at the Adam Smith Institute writes about some comments that Andrei Illarionov, chief adviser to President Vladimir Putin made while addressing the Institute:
Andrei Illarionov, chief advisor to President Vladimir Putin, addressed an audience at the Adam Smith Institute today on key policy issues. Clarifying Russia's position on Kyoto, he said: “Kyoto would result in an economic holocaust for Russia. Kyoto-ism is another example of totalitarian ideology like Marxism, communism and socialism. Russia has imported those ideas from Europe and suffered badly in the twentieth century. Kyoto-ism would lead to the creation of bureaucratic monsters at national and supra-national levels that - through allocation of emissions quotas - would be a blow against basic human freedoms and human rights, and would decide the fate of nations, companies and people worldwide.”
He went on to describe the science behind Kyoto as “deeply flawed”. Viewed over the past 100 years, the increase in global temperatures may appear significant. However, over a longer period it becomes obvious that global temperatures vary a great deal - largely as a result of natural phenomena. The current global temperature is lower than has been observed at other times in the past 1000 years.
Illarionov pointed out that there is a strong link between wealth creation and environmental protection. “Kyoto harms economic growth, perpetuates poverty, and would undermine everyone's ability to achieve a cleaner, healthier environment. Therefore, the most important policy for environmental protection is creating the right conditions for economic growth. Kyoto has the opposite effect and is therefore environmentally harmful.”
The Enviros and leftys seem to think that there is a fixed pool of wealth and that it just needs to be redistributed more equitably. This is a false assumption — the pool of wealth is not fixed, it can be created and expanded. If an economy is growing, it is in its' own economic interest to keep the environment clean.
From Fox News:
U.S. Probing Report of 40 Iraqis Killed at Wedding
A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party early Wednesday in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report and was investigating.
Lt. Col Ziyad al-Jbouri, deputy police chief of the city of Ramadi (search), said between 42 and 45 people died in the attack, which took place about 2:45 a.m. in a remote desert area near the border with Syria and Jordan. He said those killed included 15 children and 10 women.
Iraqis interviewed on the videotape said partygoers had fired into the air in a traditional wedding celebration. American troops have sometimes mistaken celebratory gunfire for hostile fire.
This happened once before:
In July 2002, Afghan officials said 48 civilians at a wedding party were killed and 117 wounded by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province. An investigative report released by the U.S. Central Command said the airstrike was justified because American planes had come under fire.
This is tragic but I can see the point of the people in the helicopter - it's 2:45AM, remote desert, you are flying and you see a cluster of people firing their weapons into the sky. This is not the time to land and ask questions especially since there are lots of RPGs floating around… Tragic story though.
The NY Times has an interesting story this morning about a collection of boxes, their coming auction and a grisly murder…
For 25 years the cardboard boxes, more than a dozen of them, sat in a corner of a London office, gathering dust while lawyers argued about whom they belonged to and scholars dreamed about what was inside. But the auction this Wednesday of their contents, once belonging to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, has provoked another fight and a mystery almost worthy of Holmes himself.
The Conan Doyle archive — including his unpublished first novel, a rich cache of family letters and handwritten literary notebooks full of research and musings about works in progress — is expected to bring in about £1 million to £1.5 million ($1.8 million to $2.7 million), according to Christie's, which is handling the sale. But even as that auction house has attracted a stream of Conan Doyle enthusiasts thrilled at the newly released material, it has also been sharply criticized by some scholars and members of Parliament for allowing the sale because they say crucial legal questions remain unresolved.
And the murder?
Adding to the sense of unease is the mysterious death of Richard Lancelyn Green, a leading Conan Doyle scholar and private collector, and a vociferous opponent of the sale. On March 27 Mr. Lancelyn Green, 50, a former chairman of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and the author of several well-received books on Conan Doyle, was found garroted to death, strangled by a shoelace wrapped around a wooden kitchen spoon used to tighten its grip.
The story continues with the provenience of the papers — none of Doyle's children had children of their own so the family feuded over the remaining papers. Interesting turn of events…
Interesting story of a very near miss in The Scotsman:
The £2 million instrument was returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association on Monday after sitting unrecognised for days in the home of Melanie Stevens, 29, who found it on her way to visit a patient.
Stevens discovered the cello about a mile from where it was stolen, still inside its silver-coated plastic case.
Stevens asked her boyfriend, a cabinet maker, to either repair the instrument or convert it into a unique CD holder, police Detective Donald Hrycyk said yesterday. She said she did not know its significance until she noticed a news report on May 7.
Unique CD holder indeed!
The NY Post does a review of Mikey Moore's latest “documentary”
I'll wait to see it on DVD - shouldn't take long…
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of weasels - from the Chicago Sun-Times:
The French government Monday described the 35-hour working week as a financial disaster that was costing the state billions of dollars and promised to reform the system despite fierce union opposition.
The finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the 35-hour week had burdened the state with additional social charges and that it had demoralized millions of workers.
“The Socialists made a decision which is not compatible with our responsibilities to Europe,” he said. He suggested a system whereby those who wanted to stay on the 35-hour week could do so, but those who wanted to work and earn more had greater latitude.
The 35-hour week came into effect in 1997, as the Socialists' idea for reducing unemployment. Unemployment now is just under 10 percent.
And people still think that Socialism (and/or Marxism and Communism) works?
Interesting turn of events in India — Sonia Gandhi, heir to India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, tearfully gave up her chance to become prime minister Tuesday to protect her new Congress government from damaging attacks over her Italian birth.
More on this can be found in this Reuters article:
Angry and upset, Congress lawmakers mobbed Gandhi and begged her to change her decision, which paves the way for the architect of India's modern economic reforms, Manmohan Singh, to possibly take over the world's largest democracy.
But her shock move and the party's refusal to accept it has also left Congress without a leader to stake a claim to power.
“I must humbly decline this post,” she told a chaotic party meeting in parliament's timber-paneled central hall, lined with life-sized portraits of former prime ministers, including her husband, Rajiv, and mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, who were both assassinated.
The Indian stock market took a nose-dive yesterday (its biggest drop in its 139-year history) and recovered on the news of her departure.
The New Scientist has an update on the current Polio Vaccine kurfuffle in Nigeria:
The original problem:
Muslim clerics claimed the vaccine was part of a Western plot to depopulate Africa. Subsequent tests by Nigerian experts gave the vaccine the all-clear and two other states that had opted out resumed the campaign. But Kano did not reinstate the programme.
“Our search for safe and uncontaminated oral polio vaccine has yielded results because our medical team now in Indonesia has found a reliable source for the vaccines,” said Kano State spokesman Sule Ya'u Sule.
“We are not importing from Indonesia because it is a Muslim country, but because the vaccines they are producing contain safe levels of estrogen, which can be harmful to young girls,” Sule told Reuters.
How many cases of Polio have been found?
Corkum told New Scientist that Nigeria now has the highest number of polio cases in the world. The latest figures, for the year to 12 May, show that of 169 cases worldwide, 119 of these were in Nigeria.
An earlier New Scientist article goes into more detail on the clerics claims:
Some Islamic clerics suggested the vaccine is part of a Western plot to depopulate Africa.
To remember what Polio can do (a wretched form of whole-body paralysis), try to imagine living inside this Iron Lung for the rest of your life and remember that the Islamic Clerics are damning their own children to this kind of existence because of their own purblind ignorance…
Why are the architects of Kosovo so down on Gulf War II?
Of all the historical precedents that paved the way for President George W. Bush’s war against Iraq, the most directly relevant was Bill Clinton’s 1999 bombing of the rump Yugoslavia.
Like Gulf War II, the 78-day NATO air campaign in Kosovo was waged without the explicit authorization of the United Nations. (Of the two, the Iraq war had much more of a U.N. mandate, through Resolution 1441, which gave Iraq a “final opportunity” — one it did not take — to comply fully with all previous Security Council resolutions or else face “serious consequences.”) Like Iraq, Yugoslavia was a sovereign country that was bombed into submission for essentially internal infractions. Both wars were expressions of American exasperation at European impotence in the face of dictatorial slaughter. Slobodan Milosevic, like Saddam Hussein, was described as a modern-day Adolf Hitler, eager to practice genocide against minority tribes while scrambling for horrible weapons to menace peaceful neighbors. Supporters of both wars frequently invoked the Munich Agreement of 1938, in which the West appeased Hitler rather than defend allied Czechoslovakia. Opponents of both wars warned that the target countries were colonially conceived multi-ethnic basket cases not conducive to postwar democratization. And the United States led the fight against both dictators despite urgent warnings from antiwar activists and multilateralism enthusiasts that each new bomb would lower the threshold for waging modern war. Kosovo made Iraq possible.
So it is of pressing interest to see what the architects of Kosovo, and its predecessor campaign in Bosnia, have to say about Bush’s controversial war. As luck would have it, there are recent books from three key Yugoslavia warriors: Madeleine Albright, the Munich-haunted Czechoslovak émigré who was the most influential anti-Milosevic hawk in Clinton’s cabinet; George Soros, the Munich-haunted Hungarian émigré and billionaire philanthropist who was among the earliest and most influential nongovernmental voices to urge military action against Serb nationalists; and Wesley Clark, the retired supreme allied commander of NATO who directed the Kosovo War. Since Clark was one of the top four Democratic candidates for president, and Soros has redirected his considerable energy and at least $15 million to effect “regime change” in the United States, their distinction between Kosovo and Iraq arguably looms as the defining foreign policy difference between Democrats and Republicans in 2004. And for those of us who supported Clinton’s Wilsonianism but not Bush’s, these books should help answer two questions we really ought to be asking ourselves: Is our support for America’s activist role dependent on high moral principle, or is it tethered to partisan politics? And did we lower the bar for military intervention?
Very well written — worth your time to go and read the rest; I just cherry picked a couple of paragraphs…
Amazing courage and will — this guy was hit by a train when he was 15 and lost both legs and one arm. Didn't slow him down at all.
His website has the details - check it out…
An interesting story from today's NY Times about the latest technique for detecting land mines:
Just about every method of detecting land mines has a drawback. Metal detectors cannot tell a mine from a tenpenny nail. Armored bulldozers work well only on level ground. Mine-sniffing dogs get bored, and if they make mistakes, they get blown up.
The Gambian giant pouched rat has a drawback, too: It has trouble getting down to work on Monday mornings. Other than that, it may be as good a mine detector as man or nature has yet devised.
Just after sunup on one dewy morning, on a football field-sized patch of earth in the Mozambican countryside, Frank Weetjens and his squad of 16 giant pouched rats are proving it. Outfitted in tiny harnesses and hitched to 10-yard clotheslines, their footlong tails whipping to and fro, the rats lope up and down the lines, whiskers twitching, noses tasting the air.
And their sucess rate?
Indeed, in a test in November along a southern Mozambique railway that was heavily mined during this country's 17-year civil war, teams of three giant pouched rats found every one of 20 live mines in a previously unsurveyed 4,300-square-foot swatch of land.
Very good idea…
Back40 at CrumbTrail reports on an interesting development with Genetically Engineered crops — one that may raise some “issues” with the more Eco-Fascist Vegans…
Early efforts concentrated on developing GE cultivars with improved agronomic characteristics such as pest resistance that appealed more to farmers than to consumers; bt cotton and Flavr-Savr tomatoes are examples. More recently the focus has shifted to improving the nutritional value of foods.
Back40 links to an article in Nature about a kind of Cress being developed that has higher than usual levels of the polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6.
From the article:
The humble cress has never been so wholesome. UK researchers have modified the plant so that it produces health-promoting chemicals that are more commonly found in eggs and fish.
The chemicals in question are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) called omega-3 and omega-6. Both types of molecule help regulate blood pressure, modify the immune response and aid cell signalling. Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to aid brain development, and help protect adults from heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
“It's important to get a healthy balance of the two,” says Baoxiu Qi from Bristol University in Britain. His team created the new cress strain by adding three genes from algae and mushroom species that produce these PUFAs naturally.
Back40 links to an earlier post:
The sub text of the article - Will vegetarians keep healthy with transgenic food? - is an idea that surfaces occassionally. See this earlier post, Techno-Vegetarianism about an Easterbrook article in Aventis Corporation's Future Perspectives Magazine that discusses the use of GM to produce more nutritious crop foods and cultured meat substitutes.
The development of more nutritious food cultivars is a fine goal whether GE is used or not. Advanced techniques that use genome mapping and tissue culturing to aid and accelerate more conventional breeding techniques seem able to accomplish as much as GE without the ick factor. But it would also be useful to understand how current agronomic practice degrades existing foods. Many of the goals of transgenics for functional foods could be reached by better management.
It is a plain and simple nutritional fact that the human body very much needs some items that are not provided by a plant-based diet. Will the Vegan choose to eat GE foods that have been created to provide these nutrients or will they govern their eating habits ideologically and suffer the health concequences…
Nonetheless, this technology will be a royal boon to those cultures who eat a plant based diet because of economic misfortune and governmental corruption and who do not suffer the luxury of making ideological choices.
Had my first serious troll in the comments this afternoon.
The post in question was from two weeks ago and titled Communism today
The commenter — a Mr. butt face with the following email address: ” firstname.lastname@example.org ” entered the following:
I hate this, it is the worst written paper in history. I can't believe this person was smart enough to put this thing on the net. Go back to preschool.
Typical leftist nyekulturniy feces-flinging. All hate-this / hate-that. This sucks. Amerikka=Bushitler.
And where did this paragon of intellectualism post from?
Mr. butt face's IP address resolves to 188.8.131.52 which is the firewall address for the Campbell Union High School in Santa Clara, CA.
Way to go Santa Clara — your Valedictorian awaits his position in the Democratic party…
“Afghanistan: …there is music on the streets and in the taxis of Kabul - there are new shops and restaurants and supermarkets - an immensely popular radio station is broadcasting music and chat programs - girls and boys are going to school together, learning art and music and maths - more women than men are now running businesses - the country has a moderate constitution and it is developing good trade relations with its neighbours…
Iraq: …money on a scale not seen since the Marshall Plan is being spent on water, sanitation, training, public health - 3 million children are being vaccinated - more than 80 new women's groups have been formed and last week Baghdad's first women's refuge was set up.
On Wednesday full authority of the ministries of foreign affairs and of water resources was handed back to the Iraqi people. Iraq has been reinstated into the UN and the Arab League. The supervisor of 17 recent town council elections reported that nearly all the successful candidates were educated moderates. “Enthusiasm for these elections was enormous,” the supervisor said…”
And where is this being reported in the 'mainstream' media??? Hmmmm???
From DGCI comes this link to a story about a German couple who visited a fertility clinic because they had not had children after eight years of marriage.
A German couple who went to a fertility clinic after eight years of marriage have found out why they are still childless - they weren't having sex.
Doctors subjected them to a series of examinations and found they were both apparently fertile, and should have had no trouble conceiving.
A clinic spokesman said: “When we asked them how often they had had sex, they looked blank, and said: “What do you mean?”.
“We are not talking retarded people here, but a couple who were brought up in a religious environment who were simply unaware, after eight years of marriage, of the physical requirements necessary to procreate.”
Very nifty site — lots of climate data and you have the ability to download and/or search online.
The website is here: NOAA Paleoclimatology
From the introduction:
Welcome to the Paleoclimatology Branch of the National Climatic Data Center. We provide the paleoclimatic data and information needed to understand the climate of the past, in order to assess the current and potential future climate in the context of natural climate variability.
This was pointed out in a number of sources. The NY Times has a good article on it:
An explosive containing sarin nerve gas was discovered by American troops in Baghdad and detonated, an American military spokesman there said today.
It was the first sarin shell the American military has found since the invasion of Iraq last year, the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, said in a televised news conference. It appeared to be the first confirmed finding of the sort of chemical weapons on which the United States built its case to go to war, according to Gary Samore, a nonproliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
The explosive, a 155 millimeter artillery round, had been rigged as a roadside bomb, the general said. It was detonated before it could be defused, producing “a very small dispersal” of the gas, he said.
The consensus is that the people who set the IED didn't know that Sarin was the payload. They were just looking for a bigger boom. They found it but it's a different kind of boom…
Nice writeup with links on Kuro5hin about the current Kilogram standard and the search to find a replacement.
The current standard is the physical one made in 1889 and kept in a vault outside Paris, France. The Standards Group that takes care of it maintains a website here
Alienware has long been the niche manufacturer for high end engineering adn game systems - pricey but very very good.
They are now taking a look at the graphics market and have worked out a way to use two cards in accelerated PCI slots to deliver twice the performance. This was done by developing their own motherboard.
A writeup can be found at Ars Technica
More info can be found on the Alienware website.
This is cool — from BBC:
Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the site of the Library of Alexandria, often described as the world's first major seat of learning.
A Polish-Egyptian team has excavated parts of the Bruchion region of the Mediterranean city and discovered what look like lecture halls or auditoria.
Two thousand years ago, the library housed works by the greatest thinkers and writers of the ancient world.
Works by Plato and Socrates and many others were later destroyed in a fire.
The article goes on to describe the various lecture halls — it was a university as well as a library. The excavation will be one to follow closely…
Ultralight backpacking tent light - from Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools website:
The ultimate lightweight backpacking camp light. A tiny 4 gram chip sits atop a regular alkaline 9-volt battery which acts as body, handle, stand and power source. Two modes: high (75 hours) and low (600 hours). High mode produces about as much light as a candle, only steadier, harsher and whiter. The Pak-LIte is an ideal tent light. You can set down and let it burn hour after hour, night after night. I once ran mine for 48 hours continuously and found no drop off in power. One battery should last the longest thru hike. You can make it last years by substituting a 9-volt lithium battery (200 hours on hi, 1,200 on lo). It's easy enough to grab it and use it as a torch or map reader as well. Since the 9-volt battery has a long shelf life it makes a pretty good hurricane/emergency light too.
The manufacturer is X-tremegeek
Excellent website… I use it regularly but never blogged about it.
Free registration is required but this is worth it.
The website is Heavens Above. It tracks all visible celestial objects. You enter your location and it will tell you what is visible at any given time.
They track satellites as well as the ISS. Great for identifying that odd planet or seeing when the next space station flyover will happen.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Man pleads guilty to using cars for target practice
A man has pleaded guilty to charges he and a teenager used moving vehicles for target practice, damaging at least three vehicles by firing a rifle from a bedroom window.
Timothy Lackey, 19, and a 15-year-old boy were arrested in February for allegedly firing a .22-caliber rifle at cars from Lackey's bedroom window in Clarks Mills, Mercer County.
No one was injured.
This is very cool news… From the U.K. Independent:
A piloted rocket plane has blasted through the earth's atmosphere becoming the first privately funded vehicle to reach the edge of space.
Manned by Mike Melvill, a 62-year-old test pilot, the teardrop-shaped rocket made a 55 second climb to 211,400ft (40 miles) before free-falling to a near perfect landing at Mojave airport, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles in California.
SpaceShipOne, the brainchild of Burt Rutan, the American designer, was lofted into launch position by its a spider-like mother plane, White Night, inside a smaller winged rocket attached to its belly. It then fell for a few seconds before the engines were ignited, lurching it forward. The craft made the longest such ascent by a private manned rocket - before shutting off the engine. It then continued upward for a few seconds, propelled by its own momentum.
Burt's website is here: Scaled Composites
There are two interesting updates to this story at Glen Reynolds' Instapundit.
The first update from the World Tribune says that Syrian Military equipment was involved:
Syrian technicians accompanying unknown equipment were killed in the train explosion in North Korea on April 22, according to a report in a Japanese newspaper.
A military specialist on Korean affairs revealed that the Syrian technicians were killed in the explosion in Ryongchon in the northwestern part of the country, according to the Sankei Shimbun. The specialist said the Syrians were accompanying “large equipment” and that the damage from the explosion was greatest in the portion of the train they occupied.
The source said North Korean military personnel with protective suits responded to the scene soon after the explosion and removed material only from the Syrians' section of the train.
The second update comes from the Chosun Ilbo news service:
Japan's Kyodo News, citing numerous diplomatic sources in Vienna, reported Saturday that the force of April 22's train explosion at the North's Ryonchon Station was about that of an earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, which would have required about 800 tons of TNT — about eight times that officially announced by North Korea.
The sources referred to earthquake figures gotten by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency had previously reported that the destructive power of the blast was that of 100 tons of dynamite, and explained that the accident was caused by “the electrical contact caused by carelessness during the shunting of wagons loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer and tank wagons”.
The CTBTO feels that the cause of the explosion may differ from the North's explanation, and noted the explosion might have been caused by highly-explosive materials like military-use fuel going off. Officials at the CTBTO plan to look into the causes of the accident.
Very interesting — the part about the North Korean military personel in protective suits makes me think that these were missiles and that they were shipping the fuel along with the missiles. Bad combination… And some people still wonder where Saddam's WMDs went to.
Titled Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water, the documentary captures the lives, passions and quirks of members of the Klingon Language Institute during their annual qep'a (or conference, for you non-Klingon speakers).
KLI members featured in the film include Dr d'Armond Speers, a linguist who spoke only in Klingon to his son until age three and a half, and Rich Yampbell, composer of Klingon national anthem taHaj wo.
Shot in a “science fiction-like” style by Director Alexandre O Phillipppe, the documentary aims to show the interplay between culture and language, communication and emotion, and the rather delicate line between reality and fiction.
Back in Seattle again - a busy two weeks…
Blogging will resume Monday — sorry for the lack of free Ice Cream.
Fabrizio Quattrocchi was murdered by his terrorist captors but instead of sitting quietly in the chair, he tried to rip off his hood, he stood up and shouted: “'now I'll show you how an Italian dies.”
According to the BBC article:
Al-Jazeera also said it had video footage of Mr Quattrocchi's death, but would not broadcast it, because it was “too gruesome”.
Yeah - gruesome… More likely, it didn't fit in with their plan to show Mr. Quattrocchi walking meekly to his death with them as the victors. He showed defiance and the PR value of this was nill for the Islamofascist terrorists…
An American — Nick Berg — was murdered and his humiliation and slow decapitation was widely distributed on the internet.
Question — will this sway public opinion for or against the work of the coalition forces in their effort to rebuild Iraq.
Rob over at Gut Rumbles had a link to someone with a very interesting read on the current problems at the Abu Ghraib prison:
I went to eat a late breakfast at the Huddle House this morning and I listened to Neil Boortz on the radio. He says that the pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse are causing a real stir in the Arab Street. But they are not stirring outrage at America.
Those pictures are scaring the living shit out of some of the insurgents.
Imagine a rag-head, Allah-worshiping, camel-fucking Islamist seeing pictures of American WIMMEN pointing at his nekkid Arabic wee-wee and laughing. Those pictures of the mighty warriors of Islam crawling bare-butted on hands and knees while WIMMEN led them around by a dog-collar and a leash sends chills down their spines.
Rob's parting comment is priceless:
I have an idea for the next leaflet drop over the insurgent positions. Let's get a full-color photo of a large-breasted, long-legged woman, dressed in full dominatrix leather, with chains dangling from her hips and a whip in her hand, with a simple caption underneath: “I'm coming for YOU, Apu!”
The war might be over in a week.
I am in class for this week so blogging will be limited to a few entries each day.
And it could not be happening to a nicer company. These were the people who claimed that Linux contained sections of their proprietary Unix code and instituted a number of lawsuits and offered licensing options to various companies. In effect, they went from a company selling Unix to a company whose source of income was litigation.
If you track their stock price, it seemed to work well for them but the house of cards is starting to fall apart.
…the Royal Bank of Canada is divesting itself of SCO stock. They're selling part of their preferred stock to Baystar, which has already indicated that they want to redeem their shares, and converting the rest to regular stock, which they can presumably sell on the open market.
In other SCO news, Versicherung writes “The Santa Cruz Sentinel is reporting, SCO is laying off 10 percent of its worldwide workforce. The cuts come less than a month after the company brought on a new chief financial officer and just before the company ended its second fiscal quarter April 30.”
A two-year view of SCO stock prices can be seen here
Would have been nice to buy a bunch last March but the show is over for now…
There is an excellent column by Charles Krauthammer today:
This war is also about sex
On Sept. 11, America awoke to the great jihad, wondering: What is this about? We have come to agree on the obvious answers: religion, ideology, political power and territory. But there is one fundamental issue at stake that dares not speak its name. This war is also about — deeply about — sex.
For the jihadists, at stake in the war against the infidels is the control of women. Western freedom means the end of women's mastery by men, and the end of dictatorial clerical control over all aspects of sexuality — in dress, behavior, education, the arts.
Taliban rule in Afghanistan was the model of what the jihadists want to impose upon the world. The case the jihadists make against freedom is that wherever it goes, especially America and Europe, it brings sexual license and corruption, decadence and depravity.
Jihadists, like all totalitarians, oppose many kinds of freedom. What makes them unique, however, is their particular hatred of freedom for women. They prize their traditional prerogatives that allow them to keep their women barefoot in the kitchen as illiterate economic and sexual slaves. For the men, that is a pretty good deal — one threatened by the West with its twin doctrines of equality and sexual liberation.
It is no accident that jihadists around the world are overwhelmingly male. It is very rare to find a woman suicide bomber. And when you do, like the young woman who blew herself up in Gaza killing four others last January, it turns out that she herself was a victim of sexual subjugation — a wife accused of adultery, marked for death, who decided to die a martyr rather than a pariah. But die she must.
Which is what made one aspect of the Abu Ghraib horrors even more incendiary — the pictures of American women soldiers mocking, humiliating and dominating naked and abused Arab men. One could not have designed a more symbolic representation of the Islamist warning about where Western freedom ultimately leads than Thursday's Washington Post photo of a uniformed American woman holding a naked Arab man on a leash.
So true. The poor guy on the receiving end of the leash must have felt like shit.
One thing to keep in mind though is that these people are prisoners. They are combatants against the coalition forces and many of them are terrorists. These are not nice people.
Another excellent essay today from Victor Davis Hanson.
Our Weird Way of War
Our enemies know us only too well.
The wars since September 11 have once more revealed the superiority of Western arms. Afghanistan may be 7,000 miles away, cold, high, and full of clans, warlords, and assorted folk who have historically enjoyed killing foreign interlopers for blood sport, but somehow a few thousand Americans went over there and took out the invincible Taliban in eight weeks. What followed was not perfect, but Mr. Karzai offers far more hope than a Mullah Omar — and without half of Afghanistan ceded over as a terrorist sanctuary to plan another September 11.
Iraq is a long way away too. And the neighborhood is especially eerie, with the likes of hostile Syria and Iran, and triangulators on the dole like Jordan and Egypt. When we become ecstatic because a megalomaniac like Khaddafi says he's taken a hiatus from nuclear acquisition, you can see that good news over there is rare indeed.
Add in the hysteria over oil, three decades of the Baathist nightmare, and a potpourri of terrorists, and the idea of even getting near Iraq seems crazy. Yet we defeated Saddam in less than three weeks — in far less time than the 125- to 225-day conflict originally predicted by many Pentagon planners. True, the year-long reconstruction has often been depressing and bloody; but here we are a year later with some hope for a government better than Saddam set to take power. Success, remember, need not be defined as perfection, but simply by leaving things far better than they were.
In the messy follow-ups to these brief and militarily precise wars, it is hard to muster patience and commitment from an American public plagued with attention-deficit problems and busy with better things to do than give fist-shaking Iraqis $87 billion.
Still, we must give proper credit to our enemies for our present problems in Iraq and indeed in the so-called war against terror in general. The fundamentalists and holdover fascists are as adroit off the conventional battlefield as they were incompetent on it. If Middle Eastern fanatics cannot field tens of thousands to meet the United States in battle, they can at least offer up a few hundred spooky assassins, car bombers, and suicide killers seeking to achieve through repulsion what they otherwise could not through arms
No, the challenge again is that bin Laden, the al Qaedists, the Baathist remnants, and the generic radical Islamicists of the Middle East have mastered the knowledge of the Western mind. Indeed they know us far better than we do ourselves. Three years ago, if one had dared to suggest that a few terrorists could bring down the Spanish government and send their legion scurrying out of Iraq, we would have thought it impossible.
Who would have imagined that Americans could go, in a few weeks, from the terror of seeing two skyscrapers topple to civil discord over the diet and clothing of war in Guantanamo, some of whom were released only to turn up to shoot at us again on the battlefields of Afghanistan? Our grandfathers would have dubbed Arafat a gangster, and al Sadr a psychopathic faker; many of us in our infinite capacity for fairness and non-judgementalism deemed the one a statesman and the other a holy man.
So our enemies realize that the struggle, lost on the battlefield, can yet be won with images and rhetoric offered up to alter the mentality and erode the will of an affluent, leisured and consensual West. They grasp that we are not so much worried about being convicted of being illiberal as having the charge even raised in the first place.
He goes on with some excellent points. Worth the ten minutes or so to read in its entirity…
A senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told worshippers during a Friday sermon in southern Iraq that anyone capturing a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.
The aide, Sheik Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, also called on supporters to launch jihad, or holy war, against British troops in this southern city.
Interesting article in the NY Times about work being done with disease resistant Elm trees.
More than 70 springs have come and gone since the first victims succumbed, but grieving friends and brokenhearted lovers have never stopped searching for survivors of one of the worst ecological calamities in American history.
They stalk damp backwoods and prowl deserted country roads looking for rare American elm trees that have somehow managed to ward off Dutch elm disease, which spread in successive waves across much of the country beginning in the 1930's, killing more than 77 million elms in the biological blink of an eye.
And the tree itself:
Mr. Holloway believes — and others have confirmed — that this hardy survivor in Princeton Cemetery is the progenitor of a whole generation of disease-tolerant elms that growers have been shipping around the country for the last few years. His thesis is supported by tests conducted a few years ago that show that a significant sequence of the Princeton giant's DNA is an exact match with the trees planted along the entrance to Princeton.
“Long story short,” said Joseph C. Kamalay, a molecular biologist at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo., who performed the genetic sleuthing several years ago when he worked for the United States Forest Service, “the cemetery tree was likely the maternal parent of the Princeton elm, at least in the lineage, because their chloroplast DNA is identical.”
This would be wonderful - the Elm is a beautiful tree and it would be nice to get them back again.
Two items about current conditions in Africa.
(from The Guardian)
Human rights campaigners warned today that a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Sudanese government risks turning the country into another Rwanda.
In a new report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) describes how the Arab-dominated government forces - in collaboration with bands of Arab militia known as Janjaweed - have overseen and participated in attacks aimed at driving black African tribes from their lands in the western region of Darfur.
And a bit on the background:
The report's findings are supported by Elsigani Seisi, former governor of the Darfur region, who said: “Information indicates that there are concentration camps and people have started to die because of hunger and disease … it's a genocide.”
Mr Seisi said a number of Arab tribes that migrated to the area during the last 200 years had lived in harmony with the indigenous tribes. But, since the current regime took power in a military coup in 1989, it “introduced an Islamic and Arabist agenda, which has polarised the region under ethnic lines”.
Living in harmony until an Islamic and Arabist agenda was introduced.
Scum-sucking sons of pigs and monkeys. Religion of Peace my ass…
Next, we go to Nigeria where the Christians are attacking the Arabs.
Thousands of Nigerian Muslims braved hostile Christian roadblocks on Friday to flee the town of Yelwa after an attack by Christian militia killed hundreds earlier in the week.
Many wounded and exhausted, the refugees sought police escorts to take them to neighboring Bauchi and Nassarawa states as Christians manning road blocks in surrounding villages tried to kill them as they left.
And a bit on the background:
Yelwa had already witnessed one of the worst atrocities of the Plateau conflict in February, when Muslim militia killed almost 100 Christians, including 48 massacred in a church.
Nigeria is a battleground for the world's top two religions, with its population of 130 million roughly split between Muslims and Christians.
Religious violence has killed at least 5,000 Nigerians since 2000, when 12 northern Nigerian states established Islamic Sharia law.
Democracy and religious tolerance now please…
Very interesting observations by Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution regarding the decay of US heavy industry and the striength of our economy.
I was privileged to take the Washington-Trenton train, round trip, over the last two days. As you may know, this route takes you past some of America's most spectacular industrial decay. (I recommend bringing Philip Glass music on CD with headphones; it makes your trip feel like the Koyaanisqatsi movie, experienced live.)
Some Europeans might regard the decay as reflecting our economic weakness. But they have it backwards: our willingness to let industries decline is a significant source of our economic strength. A country with no declining industries is a country that doesn't have many better new ideas.
He also points to an interesting NY Times article opn how the French are dealing with the same issues.
Interesting article in Infoworld:
Not content with telling hardware manufacturers what they must do, now Microsoft Corp. is informing disk makers that they have to make read and write speeds faster. It even tells them how to do it — add flash memory cache.
The problem is processors wait for disk data reading/writing to end before embarking on their next task. The main delay is waiting for the disk head to be moved to the right part of the disk. By trying to anticipate which data is going to be needed next and pre-fetching that into cache memory in the drive unit the disk wait can be radically reduced.
Another cool thing is here:
An added benefit for notebook users, the software giant adds, is that writes to disk could be batched up and done every ten minutes or so. Microsoft has produced its own tests which show average notebook users wrote under 100MB of data every ten minutes. So by doing what it says, it could possibly reduces notebook power needs, and so increases the life of a drive.
Looks good. I would be a bit worried about the lifetime for the Flash memory (they have a limited number of read/write cycles) because I do a lot of disk intensive work but if this was able to be field-replaced, I would be very happy.
Current disk caches are in the 2MB to 8MB size - peanuts. It would be cool to have a gig or two.
Interesting article at Wired on a radiation detector that looks just like an old-school pager…
After the Beep, Exit the Premises
bq. If you see cops or firefighters with pagers on their belts, don't assume they're carrying relics of the days before cellular phones took over the world. Chances are good that the pagers can't pass along any message except this one: Radiation is nearby, and you may be in danger.
The pagers are designed to beep or vibrate in the presence of potentially dangerous radiation. Since 9/11, they've become a routine piece of equipment for thousands of Customs and Border Protection officers, along with an unknown number of cops, firefighters and other “first responders,” including police who patrolled at least one Super Bowl.
The United Nations has sent a stern letter to an important witness in the Iraq oil-for-food investigation, demanding that he not cooperate with congressional probes of the scandal, The Post has learned.
The letter - in the name of oil-for-food program chief Benon Sevan - was sent to a U.N. consultant after it was learned he had been talking to congressional investigators about allegations of wholesale corruption, officials said last night.
“This particular individual is someone we have been in contact with for more than a month,” said an investigator. “This letter has chilled his willingness to cooperate with the congressional investigation. This individual also appears to be genuinely frightened by the implications inherent in the letter.”
But of course, this is probably just one isolated incident…
It is the third letter to surface this week from Sevan's office to companies that did business with the oil-for-food program that invoked confidentiality agreements and demanded that they not release documents to outside investigators.
And was it really Benon Sevan who was sending these letters out?
The United Nations has said Sevan, who is on vacation pending retirement, was not the author of the letters. They were drawn up by U.N. lawyers and sent out on his stationery.
Still, if you hold an office, you should be responsible for anything that comes from that office. He may be on vacation pending retirement but is he communicating with his office.
Why am I not surprised…
The chairman and vice chairman of Air America Radio have resigned, dealing the latest setback to the fledgling liberal radio network headlined by comedian and author Al Franken.
The departures of Evan Cohen and his investment partner Rex Sorensen came just one week after the company said that co-founder Mark Walsh had stepped down as CEO to take a smaller role at the company. Last week the company also said it had forced out David Logan as head of programming.
Chairman and investment partner… Wonder if they know something that we don't. I'm thinking about the bounced checks.
It is funny that “conservative radio” has spontaneously grown to where there are lots of on-air personalities covering a broad spectrum of thought whereas “liberal radio” has to have people pay its way up front.
UPDATE: Misha has more:
The company also failed to make its scheduled payroll, leaving its staff roughly 100 radio personalities, writers, and producers unpaid until Thursday.
Classic… As Misha says:
…watching those twits tripping over their own feet as they try to apply their non-existent knowledge of the free market to the real world - now THAT'S comedy gold!
androlepsia — governmental kidnapping for political purposes
boopic — ox-eyed
cebocephalic — having a head shaped like a monkey's
drogulus — entity whose existence is unverifiable due to lack of physical effects
empleomania — mania for holding public office
And many many more… A veritable plethora.
One of the more interesting by-ways of psychological research was the 1971 experiment at Stanford University where groups of volunteers took on the roles of prisoners and guards.
The NY Times has an interesting overview of this.
In 1971 researchers at Stanford University created a simulated prison in the basement of the campus psychology building. They randomly assigned 24 students to be either prison guards or prisoners for two weeks.
Within days the “guards” had become swaggering and sadistic, to the point of placing bags over the prisoners' heads, forcing them to strip naked and encouraging them to perform sexual acts.
The landmark Stanford experiment and studies like it give insight into how ordinary people can, under the right circumstances, do horrible things — including the mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The Stanford Experiment has its own website here
More info at Stanford's own website here
A Google Search for it turns up over 19,000 hits.
Looks like the Army had already been investigating the problems at Abu Ghraib Prison. MS/NBC has published the complete report (quite long)
Cherry picking two choice excerpts:
The US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), led by COL Jerry Mocello, and a team of highly trained professional agents have done a superb job of investigating several complex and extremely disturbing incidents of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib Prison. They conducted over 50 interviews of witnesses, potential criminal suspects, and detainees. They also uncovered numerous photos and videos portraying in graphic detail detainee abuse by Military Police personnel on numerous occasions from October to December 2003. Several potential suspects rendered full and complete confessions regarding their personal involvement and the involvement of fellow Soldiers in this abuse. Several potential suspects invoked their rights under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:
Sickening. This report goes on for quite a few pages.
This does the present administration a lot of harm. The only good news about it is that an investigation was underway — I could see wanting to keep this as quiet as possible. The bad news is that we had to learn about it through the media and not a press conference.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
— Alvin Toffler
An interesting look at the partisan politics of today and a comparison with earlier times. AMCGLTD has the following to say:
Everyone hears it today… politics is more and more partisan, far worse than anyone has ever seen it before. Viciousness and libel, petty bickering and political meltdowns, backstabbing and throat-slashing, all and more seem to be bubbling up faster and faster, like a fetid scum-covered gyser getting ready to erupt. But is it really that bad? Is it really that different? Has it in fact gotten worse over time?
Hardly. In the very first contested election in the United States, that of 1796, Thomas Jefferson was portrayed as a bloodthirsty atheist and a puppet of the French, who represented only “cut-throats who walk in rags and sleep amidst filth and vermin.” John Adams was referred to as, at best, “His Rotundity”, was accused publicly of planning to cancel the Constitution and have himself crowned king, and of having two English mistresses secretly imported to keep him comfortable on the campaign trail.
Twenty years later, newspapers supporting Andrew Jackson referred to his incumbent opponent John Quincy Adams as “The Pimp” because he introduced the Tsar of Russia to a young woman whom the Tsar later had an affair with. Dark insinuations of “gambling furniture” being installed in the White House turned out to be a pool table purchase.
Scott goes on through the 50's, 60's to present. He closes out with:
It's ok to wish it weren't so, but in the wishing we are simply pulling the covers over our heads hoping the monsters stay hidden in the dark. It's also ok to revel in the chaos of it all, sitting in the bleachers roaring with the rest of the plebes as one erstwhile gladiator guts his opponent in our own queer Coliseum. More importantly, we should all learn to look past it, see it for the contrived irrelevance that it truly is, and hold all of their feet to the fire until they start producing facts and positions instead of hyperbole and distraction.
But don't forget to bring the popcorn. I hear Kerry's latest attack ad is really something to see!
Michael Moore whose documentary films have met with criticism for their manipulation of facts and events recently stated that Disney's Miramax recently decided to not distribute his new film.
Later it was found that Miramax had never agreed to the distribution.
Now he comes clean in a report by the U.K. Independent:
Moore admits Disney 'ban' was a stunt
Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.
The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.
Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001.
In an indignant letter to his supporters, Moore said he had learnt only on Monday that Disney had put the kibosh on distributing the film, which has been financed by the semi-independent Disney subsidiary Miramax.
But in the CNN interview he said: “Almost a year ago, after we'd started making the film, the chairman of Disney, Michael Eisner, told my agent he was upset Miramax had made the film and he will not distribute it.”
No really! Don't believe me — click on this link and read it for yourself…
From ZiffDavis News:
Microsoft, amid an IP spree that has won the company patent protection for everything from XML dialects to video game storage methods, mistakenly received a patent on Tuesday for a new variety of apple tree.
U.S. Plant Patent 14,757, granted to Robert Burchinal of East Wenatchee, Wash., and assigned to Microsoft, covers a new type of tree discovered in the early 1990s in the Wenatchee area, a major commercial apple-growing region. Dubbed the “Burchinal Red Delicious,” the tree is notable for producing fruit that achieves a deep red color significantly earlier than other varieties. It is sold commercially as the “Adams Apple.”
Burchinal declined to comment on the patent, but a member of his household said the Microsoft assignation was likely an error.
A Microsoft representative confirmed that the assigning of the patent to the company was a mistake, after the apple paperwork was misfiled with a group of applications from a legal firm commonly used by the software giant. Microsoft has filed with the Patent Office for a certificate of correction to re-assign the patent to Burchinal, the representative said.
I'm firmly in the camp that says that the people who abused the prisoners in Iraq need to be disciplined fast and hard. Of possible interest though is this story regarding the photographic evidence of Coalition soldiers raping Iraqi women:
From World Net Daily:
Bogus GI rape photos used as Arab propaganda
Pictures purporting to be U.S. troops actually taken from porn sites.
Graphic photos appearing on Arabic websites of U.S. servicemen raping and sexually abusing Iraqi women were actually taken from American and Hungarian pornography sites.
Albasrah.net and a Tunisian website produced in France by Committee for the Defense of Saddam Hussein [Comité de Défonce de Saddam Hussein En Tunisie], posted not only the recently broadcast photos of U.S. troops abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners but additional ones of alleged group rape of women by American soldiers, some who are depicted holding rifles against their victims' heads.
The Tunisian site described the photos as the “unedited” versions of actual events and Albasrah ran the photos under the heading “The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos,” indicating they had received the photos via e-mail.
A WND investigation has revealed that most of the photos are taken from the American pornographic website “Iraq Babes,” and the Hungarian site, “Sex in War,” which is linked to by the American site. Both websites are linked to by violent pornography sites and both describe Iraqi women — played by “actresses” — in vulgar terms.
The Iraq Babes site voluntarily shut down but the Hungarian site is still up and running.
I am not saying that abuses did not take place, still, we need to take things with a grain of salt and wait a week or so until all of the truth comes out, not just the hysteria from the media.
The subtle things are always very hard to do in computer graphics especially animation. Hair, clothing with movement and drape and folds — skin is also difficult with its texture and lighting.
The BBC has a nice article about Dr. Henrik Jensen and his work on the problem of skin. (His algorithms were used for Gollum in LOTR)
If you get a close look at some of the creatures of the night in the Van Helsing movie, you might notice how realistic their skin looks.
The reason is a program that works out how light affects surfaces like skin to make computer-generated characters look more believable.
The software was first used on Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and is now a staple of blockbusters packed with visual effects.
The man behind the technique, Dr Henrik Jensen of the University of California at San Diego, was recently rewarded for his contribution to Hollywood.
In February he received a Technical Achievement Award from the people who hand out the Oscars.
Dr. Jensen's home page is here Links from here show samples of his work. Pretty amazing stuff!
When I was first getting into reading people's weblogs, one of the favorite ones I ran into was from Rachel Lucas. She is smart and not afraid to call a spade a spade.
About six months ago, she decided to stop blogging — her website came up as a blank page for way to many months.
Visiting it today on a whim, I see that she is back!
Welcome back Rachel!
Last Monday, Ted Rall posted a cartoon that depicted recently killed Pat Tillman as less than a hero. There was enough outrage over the cartoon that MS/NBC pulled it from their website.
Now, he opens his yap and says in this Yahoo News editorial:
An Army of Scum
Or, We're Looking For a Few Good Homosexual Rapists
Now it's official: American troops occupying Iraq have become virtually indistinguishable from the SS. Like the Germans during World War II, they cordon off and bomb civilian villages to retaliate for guerilla attacks on their convoys. Like the blackshirts who terrorized Europe, America's victims disappear into hellish prisons ruled by sadists and murderers. The U.S. military is short just one item to achieve moral parity with the Nazis: gas chambers.
I would like to see how long he lasts in one of Saddam's torture chambers. What happened in Abu Ghraib was unconscionable and the people who allowed it to happen should (and will) be disciplined but it is not torture.
As for calling the Army scum — that is more a reflection of Rall's own character than anything that the Army is doing…
Busy so there will be light posting today.
I'll be online later this evening.
Ted Rall is a talentless hack. Last Monday, he published a cartoon which took a cheap shot at Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan. Quite a few people complained and MSNBC as well as other outlets for Rall's work pulled the cartoon.
Lawrence at Amish Tech Support did a wonderful job of remixing the cartoon…
Hat tip to Inoperable Terran for the link!
Into video editing?
Want a portable editing platform?
Got $17K to spend?
Very interesting comment at Aaron's Rantblog:
The Dubya-hostile Washington Post couldn’t spin this against the President.
Federal Deficit Likely to Narrow by $100 Billion
Tax Receipts Pare Borrowing
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 4, 2004; Page E01
Smaller-than-expected tax refunds and rising individual tax receipts will pare back federal borrowing significantly for the first half of this year and could reduce the $521 billion deficit projected for the fiscal year by as much as $100 billion, Treasury and congressional budget officials said yesterday.
Let’s do the math… 5 more years of this and Dubya will have erased the deficit, despite inheriting Clinton’s recession, having our financial nexus destroyed, liberating 50 million, enabling tens of millions of females to shed their burkas and return to school…
Lower taxes = higher revenues. It’s that simple. Your earnings are yours, not Hillary’s.
I bet charity donations are up again, as they were under Reagan, too.
More socialism = less services. It’s that simple. Egalitarian goals ALWAYS result in a very low standard for the greatest number of people. The Soviet Union had vast resources and couldn’t muster manufacturing a toilet paper worth using.
The deficit was temporary. The higher taxes that Clinton imposed put a major damper on the economy and when they were removed, the economy recovered. Going into deficit was a push to get the economic engine started sooner.
What part of Econ. 101 did you sleep through?
Hat tip to dgci
Bill Whittle at EjectEjectEject has been on the road for a couple of weeks.
He checks in with some pictures and stories.
Here is his lunch with fellow blogger Frank J:
As I was watching my Sweet Tea crystalize around my straw, I heard the sound of a World War I artillery barrage out in the parking lot! It was Frank J! He arrived in a chopped, Jet-black '57 T-Bird — and when I say chopped, I mean he had taken a chain saw to the top half of the body from grille to trunk lock. It came a-thunderin' in shooting ten-foot high blasts of flame from the 12 cylinder Merlin engine he had mounted from a Reno Air Race Mustang that had fallen on hard times. The windows blew in all down the side of the restaurant.
I was impressed!
Frank vaulted from the T-bird with easy grace, kissed the 17-year-old Barely Legal Quintuplets once each, deeply, on the lips, and strode into the restaurant like Marshall Dillon on a bad hemmorhoid day. Awesome! It's not easy to walk with a 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun in a hidden carry holster and a running chain saw strapped to your right hand like Ash in Army of Darkness, but Frank J. makes it look natural. He is a God among men, that much is obvious immediately.
As they say — check it out…
Excellent essay by Howard at Oraculations regarding current trends in communism, it's initial growth and rebirth:
A New Excuse to Overthrow the Government and destroy Capitalism
Communism, the bad old business destroyer that was “tres chic” from 1900 to 1960 IS dead, but there is a new game in town and this new game explains the Hate America Left, the Hate America Hollywood Left and why they like dictators and sympathize with Radical Islam. I'll try to make it short. References for very heavy reading are at the end.
The nexus of the original Marxist Theory was that Marx had a “scientific” method for achieving socialism. He called it “Scientific Socialism” (Das Kapital is a dam math book); all other methods people were trying to bring forth at that time were “fantasy” conceptions (no math). It's very important to know that Marx had contempt for fantasy. It's well to keep in mind that fantasy is the nexus of the New Communism.
So it's the mid-fifties. Anybody with a real brain knows Communism ain't gunna happen, at least not in the way Karl Baby figured it. So in 1957 a book comes out by a guy named Baran and he blew the walls down for Marx. He said that the poverty in the Third World was caused by capitalism. A wonderful opening for the disillusioned hard core. A great excuse for the loser possed by envy of anybody with money.
Baran “discovered” that the workers in the U.S. and the owners of industry had become one and the same. Workers and capitalists together were responsible for the poverty all over the world. All had to be killed; both workers and capitalists. Now this book didn't exactly fly off the shelves, but it was read by the usual suspects who KNEW THEY WERE RIGHT, who knew they were “on the right side of history”, and Communism quietly began to shift. Nobody had ever thought that Capitalism caused Third World poverty before. Especially not Marx, Groucho maybe, but not Karl.
Now this new theory grew in (where else) academia (Berkeley, Yale, Stanford) until the mid-seventies when another huge book came out by a guy named Wallerstein that really galvanized the Communists. This huge book not only backed up what Baran had said but “proved” that America became rich by making other countries poor. Think about this for a second: our success as a country is based upon making others poor, period. It's all our fault: hunger, no medical care, no education, poverty, and whatever else they could come up with..
To the Left that book was a gift from the Gods themselves. Just what every old Lefty, every whacked out Viet Nam protester, college teacher, guilty actor, and Red Diaper baby wanted to hear. It's all America's fault.
Kindling for the combustible haters like Chomsky, the Hollywood Left (the old line Communist propagandists), the Castros, Saudi Princes, up and coming Terrorists, slave Traders in the Sudan; in short with the arrival of the “New Communism” every bad guy in the world could blame the U.S.A for everything. This stuff grew like Jack's Beanstalk. Communism was baaaaaakkk. And in a new twist, all the sensitive artist types in the USA could get sensitive about truly miserable people. People who had an added benefit of being 10,000 miles away.
Blame America for everything. That is Communism today. The poverty in Muslim countries is not only America's fault, but we caused it so we could get rich. We literally strongarm the people in Africa to be poor, SO we can get rich. Mugabe can blame us. The Communists will back him to the hilt.
Howard goes on a lot more — all of it spot on and deadly.
Check it out — print it out and hand it to any moonbat acquaintances.
Bad news / Good news
From Charles at Little Green Footballs comes the information that Sudan was voted into the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission in an uncontested election.
Charles links to an article in Yahoo/Reuters:
The Good news is that the United States delegate to this council had the stones to get up and walk out of the meeting.
Sichan Siv, the U.S. delegate to the council, accused Sudan of having no right to sit on the rights commission because of ethnic cleansing in Darfur where the government is accused of backing Arab militia in pillaging black Africa villages, raping and killing.
“The United States will not participate in this absurdity,” Siv said. “Our delegation will absent itself from the meeting rather than lend support to Sudan's candidacy,” he said before briefly walking out of council chambers.
Arab militia? But they are the religion of peace aren't they?
Interesting link from Dangerousmeta regarding the problems with Hybrid (Gas/Electric) cars when they are involved in traffic accidents. The rescue people know how to deal with gasoline but there is a lot of energy stored in the batteries as well - hundreds of volts too so it's lethal.
As written at CNN
Rescuers prep for hybrid car accidents
The growing popularity of hybrid vehicles poses a new danger for rescuers at accident scenes: a network of high-voltage circuitry that may require some precise cutting to save a trapped victim.
“You don't want to go crushing anything with hydraulic tools,” said Samuel Caroluzzi, an assistant chief with the Norristown Fire Department outside Philadelphia. “It's enough to kill you from what they're telling us in training.”
Hybrids draw power from two sources, typically a gas or diesel engine combined with an electric motor. The battery powering the electric motor carries as much as 500 volts, more than 40 times the strength of a standard battery.
That worries those who must cut into cars to rescue people inside.
Very interesting — had not thought about this.
Remember them? The plucky lil' machines named Spirit and Opportunity?
They are on a roll! Opportunity has spent the last couple of weeks traversing the Martian surface to get to the crater Endurance.
Pictures are available here from the Jet Propulsion Labs website.
The question now is whether to send her down into the crater — there are lots of interesting features along the wall but there is also a strong doubt if she can be brought back up over the wall again.
Very very cool stuff!
Hat tip to Allah who reaction to reading this was: “Allah de-pantsed!”
From Front Page Magazine comes this article:
The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism
Despite enormous and continuing denial on the part of left and liberal ideologues and the media, we are facing an exceedingly pathological strain of Islamofascist terrorism. So a crucial question must be asked: from a psychological and anthropological point of view, what kind of culture produces human bombs, glorifies mass murderers, and supports humiliation-based revenge?
According to Minnesota based psychoanalyst and Arabist, Dr. Nancy Kobrin, it is a culture in which shame and honor play decisive roles and in which the debasement of women is paramount. In an utterly fascinating and as-yet unpublished book, which I will be introducing, the Sheik's New Clothes: the Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Suicide Terrorism, Kobrin, and her Israeli co-author, counter-terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer, describe barbarous family and clan dynamics in which children, both boys and girls, are routinely orally and anally raped by male relatives; infant males are sometimes sadistically over-stimulated by being masturbated; boys between the ages of 7-12 are publicly and traumatically circumcised; many girls are clitoridectomized; and women are seen as the source of all shame and dishonor and treated accordingly: very, very badly.
Yesterday, further confirmation of Dr. Kobrin's thesis arrived at my door. The remarkable and charming Walid Shoebat, an ex-PLO terrorist, came to visit. He has been speaking about his renunciation of terrorism and conversion to evangelical Christianity. Shoebat has been touring the country speaking out for Israel and against the “occupation of Palestinian minds with Jew-hatred.” Unlike the human bombs, Shoebat “merged” with his American-born mother by finally rescuing her from years of captivity and domestic abuse in Bethlehem/Beit Sahur. He also rescued his father, the man who imprisoned and abused her.
Shoebat confirmed the widespread sexual abuse of both boys and girls in Palestinian society. “It is a strange society. Homosexuality is forbidden but if you're the penetrator, not the penetrated, it's okay.” He is describing prison sexuality. “If you're a teenage boy with no hair on your legs other boys your age will pinch your butt and tease you. Once, I saw a class of teenage boys turn gymnastics into a sexual orgy. And once, on a hiking trip, I saw a line of shepherd boys waiting for their turn to sodomize a five year old boy. It was unbelievable.”
Most Arabs and Muslims will deny that this is so. They will attack westerners who say so as “orientalists, colonialists, racists.” Western intellectuals will agree with them. They have been well indoctrinated by — no, western academics were the ones who first glorified the work of the late Edward W. Said who, in my opinion, published his master work, Orientalism, in 1978 as a way of denying feminist ideas and refocusing academic attention away from women and onto brown, Muslim, Arab men as the truest victims of oppression. Neat trick.
The author of this article is Phyllis Chesler, PhD. She is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies. Her personal website is here.
Walid Shoebat was mentioned as a source. Googling his name turns up over 2,000 hits linking to some very interesting reading. He is talking the talk but he is also walking the walk. He is legit.
It's quiet here. The sun shines. The sky's a brilliant blue. The ground is soft, and a breeze moves through rows of trees. It's a long way from the clash of industry and environmentalists, a long way from Portland or Salem with their bustle and rushed talk about Oregon's future. It's quiet here, but if you listen you might hear our future growing.
They're poplars, the trees that line the bottom lands and experimental plots. Cottonwoods, if you like. But they're hybrids, crossbred for fast growth, disease resistance, wood quality and even taste to keep deer away.
And do they grow — at a rate of about 500 cubic feet per acre per year on a 10-year rotation. That's 50 to 75 percent faster than native poplars. It also stacks up nicely next to other Northwest trees. A Douglas fir plantation can reach 140 to 150 cubic feet per acre per year after a 50-year-rotation.
“This marries traditional agriculture to forestry,” says Brian Stanton, GreenWood's plant geneticist, who quickly notes there's nothing Dr. Frankenstein about this. It's easy to see why. Believing GreenWood was doing genetic engineering, eco-terrorists bombed its facilities in 2001. In fact, the company uses traditional cross-breeding. It just does so at a state-of-the-art level.
Here is the company's own website: GreenWood Resources
From MTV - a report of a new dance craze.
If You Look Like Bozo Having Spasms, You're Doing It Right
We've been deprived all these years. We've never seen Krusty the Clown popping his booty, Ronald McDonald never C-walked, and Bozo … forget about it. He could probably barely do a jig, let alone shake his whole body like an enraged zombie from “28 Days Later.”
Well, the dark ages are over. There's a group of California clowns doing the thang. We've gotten a potent dosage of clown dancing — or krumping, as it's called — in videos such as Missy Elliott's “I'm Really Hot” and the Black Eyed Peas “Hey Mama.” Now the ringleader of the crunk circus act says the mainstream had better look out, because he's bringing more than balloons and giant shoes. The krumping era just may be upon us.
“The clowning and the krumping dance movement, it is a very positive thing because it really does keep kids off the streets,” krumping originator Thomas Johnson, a.k.a. Tommy the Clown, explained in Los Angeles recently. “Kids really don't have too much to do around here. This is something exciting for them. To Missy and everybody that has grabbed this whole clowning, krumping, hip-hop style of clown dancing, I want to say thank you for putting it on the national scale. You're doing it.”
Human creativity is awesome. Now if we can get the mullahs in Iran to take some lessons in this…
From the Commissar at Politburo Diktat comes the news of another retreat into darkness by Spain.
According to an article in BBC:
A statue in a Spanish cathedral showing St James slicing the heads off Moorish invaders is to be removed to avoid causing offense to Muslims.
Cathedral authorities in the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela, on Spain's north west coast, plan to move the statue to the museum.
Among the reasons for the move is to avoid upsetting the “sensitivities of other ethnic groups”.
And the Commissar shows that he is not just a fearless leader, he is also a scholar:
Santiago de Compostela
The Commissar majored in Medieval History and knows a little bit about that era, including Santiago de Compostela. It was not just “a pilgrimage destination,” it was THE pilgrimage destination. The Crusaders held Jerusalem, and it was accessible to pilgrims, only for a few decades in the Eleventh Century. After that, Muslims controlled it.
Santiago de Compostela was the place. Today's news is filled with references to Muslim “Holy Cities:” Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Qom (Iran), Najaf, Kerbala, etc. Santiago de Compostela ranks with these; it not just some remote tourist trap.
Da, comrades, tomorrow, mosques in Medina will be cleansed of Koranic verses referring to deaths of infidels. “To avoid upsetting the sensitivities of other ethnic groups.”
Yeah - reciprocity anyone? The mosques will be cleansed of things that Christians might find offensive? Religion of Peace anyone?
Interesting article at Kuro5hin:
Without a doubt this has been one of the most absurd and strangest projects I have started so far. Not long ago the idea that I could build a search engine capable of indexing the Internet as a whole seemed so far away. Now it is becoming a reality. Without further ado I wish to announce the early release of mozdex.com an Open Search Engine.
Mozdex.com was dreamed up from the belief that searching should be more of a science and a factual process rather then a proprietary and secretive process. Through the beauty of open source and the hard work of the Nutch team we have been able to use Nutch build a beta test index of nearly 50 million pages.
What we want to do is provide a search system where you can see how the algorithm ranks pages. The ability to see incoming anchors and references to the pages gives more insight into the results. We feel that by working with an open API and Algorithm that the mass of great minds on the Internet can work together to come up with an algorithm that doesn’t lend itself so much to being cheated by “spammy” sites. The premise being that a well thought out algorithm can understand the basic tricks of the trade and more quickly react to new hacks & cheats used to “spam” indexes.
This is a severe case of re-inventing the wheel but it is an interesting one. Google does publish details on its page-rank system but not the source. I don't know that this project would have the financial resources that Google does to maintain the server farm and the bandwidth but it will be interesting to see.
Another search engine I like is here Kartoo
There is a nice guide to HDTV at the Extreme Tech website:
From the opening section:
Buying a digital capable television is an exercise in frustration and anxiety. It's not unlike Alice's trip through the looking glass, surreal and inviting, with promises of digital nirvana and dead-end traps for the unwary consumer. This guide should help you cut through the confusing jargon and conflicting claims.
What this guide is:
What this guide is not:
With these thoughts in mind, let's move forward.
An excellent article follows discussing source materials, DTV v/s HDTV, display technologies, pricing and connection topologies. It also gives a collection of links to other resources. Very well done!
Very cool idea and implementation. You go to a show. You like what you heard and want a recording of it. You take your USB flash drive, go to a kiosk, pay $10 or so and download the show as recorded from the mixing board as an MP3 file.
There is a nice writeup of it at CNN:
There was the 78, the 45 and then the MP3 — all heralded as great innovations in music recording technology. Fast forward a bit and now, minutes after your favorite band sounds its last note, you can load a live recording onto a cigarette-lighter-sized hard drive hanging off your keychain.
Take it home, toss the digital files onto your computer and then e-mail it to all your friends with the message “Dude! These guys are awesome!”
The company that is doing this is eMusic Live
From Security Focus:
Ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick is a hero to the small town of River Rouge, Michigan, after using his tech skills to help officials nab the culprit behind a harrowing series of bomb threats.
The trouble began a few months ago, when staff members at River Rouge High School began receiving threatening phone calls at home from an anonymous caller, police Detective Lt. John Keck says. Then, on April 2nd , a caller phoned in a bomb threat to the high school during school hours - students were evacuated and the town's three patrol cars diverted to the school to conduct a thorough search. No bomb was found. Another call came in on April 5th, with similar results.
Kevin worked with the Police, educating them on how the hoaxer was able to do what they did and what to do to track them down:
Armed with Mitnick's advice, Keck went back to SBC and demanded a “terminating number search” for any calls made to the high school's lines on the dates of the bomb threats. This time, SBC tracked the calls as far as cell phone carrier Sprint PCS, and identified the specific trunks on which the calls entered the local phone network — information that Keck now knew how to interpret. The detective served a search warrant on Sprint, and on April 19th he had the suspect's name and cell phone number.
The suspect (who confessed) was a 15 year old student who was making the calls from class from his personal cell phone.
Kevin's take on the guy:
And does the ex-hacker have any mixed feelings about helping bust River Rouge's trouble-making teen? “He wasn't really hacking,” says Mitnick. “He was really just being a jerk”
From The Register:
New Xeon unearthed as Intel's first all-India chip
A future Xeon processor from Intel has popped up on the company's roadmap with a first-of-its-kind name and birthplace. The chip dubbed “Whitefield” has its roots in India and not the Pacific Northwest, The Register has learned.
A confidential roadmap obtained by El Reg has revealed “Whitefield” to be a Xeon processor aimed at multiprocessor servers that will arrive in 2008. The chip follows “Potomac” due out next year, and its dual-core older brother “Tulsa.” But unlike its predecessors, “Whitefield” will be 100 percent designed in India with its name coming from an industrial township on the edge of Bangalore.
And more — Intel names its chips after towns near where they are built:
At first, we were thrown off by the Whitefield name, searching maps of Oregon and Washington to locate the city. After all, that's where almost all of Intel's code-names originate - Yamhill and Tukwila being two examples. But a search pointed us toward Bangalore where Intel recently laid down $41m to build a new processor design center.
Interesting story from SF Gate:
Exactly 150 years after Commodore Matthew Perry signed a trade treaty to open up Japan to the West, and 50 years after the Big Guy's first appearance on Tokyo theater screens, Japan's biggest cultural export finally gets his due in the United States with the release of the original “Godzilla” (known as “Gojira” in Japan).
It's a revelation.
We tend to think of “Godzilla” as a cheesy monster movie, thanks largely to heavy re-editing in the Burr version that dispensed with nearly 40 minutes of director Ishiro Honda's original vision…
But seeing the original version — produced by a culture with still-fresh memories of atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a feeling of being caught in the middle of Cold War paranoia between the United States and the Soviet Union — it's clear that it's time for a major reappraisal. “Godzilla” is one of the great anti-nuclear films, made by a onetime prisoner of war and documentary filmmaker, with an original vision as well-imagined and chilling as “Dr. Strangelove.”
Very cool… Always been a fan of the big guy — it will be neat to see the directors original vision.
First there was Barbie who for a while had the Guinness record for amount of plastic surgery.
In Toytown, Barbie and Ken are made of plastic. Now they have astonishing real-life counterparts - made with plastic surgery.
Cindy Jackson and Miles Kendall have spent about $300,000 transforming themselves into copies of the best-selling dolls, undergoing 89 operations - ranging from jaw implants and chemical peels to liposuction.
Although many would consider them mad, the pair couldn't be happier with their whiter-than-white smiles, wrinkle-free brows and finely chiseled cheekbones.
Whatever floats your boat… Plus, I would hate to be them in about 20 years when the effects of all that surgery start manifesting. Take a look here for some examples.
Wretchard at Belmont Club has an interesting update on events in Fallujah:
The guesswork hasn't been too far off. From the beginning it seemed clear that an Iraqi component was always going to be needed in Fallujah, both to process civilians and restore order.
And more — from an April 3rd entry talking about the US Marines and their options:
However, if the Marines exert only gradual pressure, and use neighbors or Iraqi police from outside Fallujah to guide other neighbors into processing areas, the defenders will never be presented with a clear opportunity to precipitate a crisis. Once the Marines get the momentum of processing going, the tribal leaders will lose control and the whole structure will start to crumble. The Marines can exploit their physical domination by offering clemency or even rewards to those who rat out on other perps. The inner bastion of Fallujah will collapse like a termite-eaten post as each man looks out for himself.
And more — talking about the US Marines and their options now:
It is in this context that the perplexing cycle of ceasefires punctuated by nocturnal assaults can be understood. The Corps, besides incorporating the Chinese word Gung Ho into it's vocabulary, may have finally proved to the Arabs that they can out-hudna anyone who ever stood on a patch of sand. By alternately throttling and releasing the enemy, or in cruder terms, by a process of talking and shooting, the USMC seems to have squeegeed the foe into the 'Golan' without ever precipitating the feared crisis. (“Like a cut flower in a vase, fair to see, yet doomed to die” — Winston Churchill)
Check it out…
From KOMO-TV comes this story about Gas Prices and the projected trend for the future…
A gasoline industry analyst, Tim Hamilton of AUTO — an organization serving independent gas stations — is predicting the high gas prices of today will be the bargains of tomorrow.
The problem, Hamilton says, is Shell's plan to close its refinery in Bakersfield, California, and ship Washington refinery gas to California.
Shell says the problem is a shortage of crude oil. The claim is disputed by some California state officials and by two refinery workers who spoke on condition of anonymity. The two say supervisors have told them that if retail prices are $2.00 per gallon or more they can make more importing gas from other areas.
One Bakersfiled worker “Jack” told a California TV station: “Shell has lied to our community, to our government, lied and led people to believe there's is an inadequate supply of crude to run that refinery.”
Other workers leaked documents several weeks ago… showing the Bakersfield refinery is hugely profitable.
More Shell documents were leaked Friday. One signed by the company president warned of disciplinary action if more confidential company memos were leaked. The letters were addressed to members of the Bakersfield refinery.
I believe this — there has always been a gas spike in March because we change from winter to summer fuels and there is not sufficient reserve to tide us over. There is no shortage of crude - we get about 14% from the middle east and the rest from Alaska, Mexico, South America. Africa is starting to come online as well as Sakhalin Island in Russia. Crude is not short. Politics is not either and needs to be.
I think that I will make a point to not buy gas at a Shell station in any near future. Exxon has actually done some amazing things environmentally since their little “wake-up call” ten years ago — they are proactively initiating programs that are above industry standards.