Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Democrat Borg

If all the Democrat Senators, Congressmen, Presidential Candidates and KosKids sound alike, here's a clue: They are alike. Exactly. How much alike?

Well, let's see. For an example, Democrat Senators vote together this much:

97.8% - Dick Durbin (D-IL)
97.1% - Ben Cardin (D-MD)
97.1% - Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
97.1% - Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
97.0% - Joe Biden (D-DE)
97.0% - Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
96.7% - Jack Reed (D-RI)
96.7% - Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
96.6% - Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
96.6% - Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

My, my! Ms. Clinton votes with her buddies 96.6% of the time. She's that partisan. A reformer. An independent-minded outsider. Snort.

Well. Another woman in Congress wins the award for most partisan: Nancy Pelosi, who voted an astounding 100% of the time Democrat.

Here's the thing, though. Looking at Democrats generally--from the blogosphere to Congress to the MSM (82% partisan)--you know what the opinion on any given subject will be on any given day. They are that predictable.

Democrats remind me of the "rebels" at high school. They all wore black and punked out their hair and they all looked the....same.

Don't expect any Democrat to come up with an innovative take, idea or solution. For all their talk about being progressive, I do believe they are the true conservatives--that is they want to conserve the vision they've had for America and do the same thing they've always done.

Voters should expect the same results we have always got should a Democrat end up in charge.

H/T Gina Cobb
More at The Anchoress

Cross-posted at RightWingNews

You Are What You Eat

A new breed of vegans has sprouted: Those who will only have sexual intercourse with others as pure as themselves:

Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals.
Interesting. As if Vegans don't occupy a strange enough corner of the world. Here come Vegansexuals:

One vegan respondent from Christchurch said: "I believe we are what we consume, so I really struggle with bodily fluids, especially sexually."

As an aside, this woman does not look especially feminine. While the man looks, well, soft. Perhaps a little protein would put the hormones aright. Also, do either of these people look vibrant and healthy?

Gingrich on Detroit

As far as I'm concerned, Newt didn't go far enough when criticizing Michigan. For anyone who left for a length of time and then comes back, visiting the state is like receiving a punch in the stomach. It's distressing on a visceral level.

Once vibrant towns are dead. Even Lansing, where I spent the majority of my growing up years is "sad" as my High School chum said on the phone Sunday. "I don't think it's just me, either," he said. "Lansing hasn't been the same since Oldsmobile left."

It is difficult to describe to teachers or anyone outside of Michigan the vice grip the teachers union has in Michigan. The union has one purpose: protect teachers. It is not interested in educational outcomes. It is not interested in the quality of the product. It is interested in self-preservation. Like the UAW, it is shooting itself in the foot but by different means. By so failing at the mission of teaching, citizens can't work and innovate and contribute to society. As the labor force constricts and moves elsewhere, the teachers are going to lose jobs--there will be no one to teach.

The unions have lived in denial. They have been immoral. You simply cannot get paid to not work for years, as union friends of mine did, and survive. The unions have outlived their usefulness. They committed suicide.

So Detroit, the black hole of Michigan, sucks down resources and gives back little. It's no wonder people seek greener pastures down south.

Speaking of greener pastures, Michigan has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful geography in the 50 united states. Crystal white sand dunes, lakes, forests, and gorgeous parks are everywhere you turn. Michigan also has some amazing architecture and astonishing neighborhoods that harken back to the auto industry's glory days.

My heart aches for Michigan. Without changing the hearts and minds of the people there, it will continue to diminish. It's great that Gingrich is noticing Detroit and citing her as a bad example. Wouldn't it have been nice if someone had given a toot about New Orleans before the hurricane washed up the sludge for all to see? New Orleans seems determined to stay corrupt and base. It is my great hope that Detroit will choose a different path.

Monday, July 30, 2007

New Look.......Again

Sorry, if this is confusing. After living with the new look, the lack of a left margin bugged me. I didn't like the fonts, either. Since blogger makes making changes so easy, I changed it. Again.

Nashi: Russia's Version of Hitler Youth--UPDATED

Fascism is in fashion. A nice sum-up of the Russian mind:

For the east European countries with first-hand experience of Stalinist terror, the Kremlin's rewriting of history could hardly be more scary. Not only does Russia see no reason to apologise for their suffering under Kremlin rule, it now sees the collapse of communism not as a time of liberation, but as an era of pitiable weakness.
It ALWAYS saw the collapse of communism as weakness. This is not a new development. What is new is the economic strength to organize and retrench. Drunk on oil revenue, the Kremlin rises again.

And history is rewritten:
Russia barely commemorates even the damage it did to itself, let alone the appalling suffering inflicted on other people. Nashi is both a symptom of the way Russia is going - and a means of entrenching the drift to fascism.

Terrifyingly, the revived Soviet view of history is now widely held in Russia. A poll this week of Russian teenagers showed that a majority believe that Stalin did more good things than bad.

If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across Germany in support of an authoritarian Fuhrer, baiting foreigners and praising Hitler, alarm bells would be jangling all across Europe. So why aren't they ringing about Nashi?

Because the left engages in the same kind of moral equivalence as Vladamir Putin and his cronies. They have a crush on communism.

Britain banishes Churchill from history books. Russia brings Stalin back. Japan finds neonationalism. This bodes ill.

UPDATE: I missed this on Friday, but Gary Kasparov explains Putin perfectly:
The web of betrayals, the secrecy, the blurred lines between what is business, what is government, and what is criminal--it's all there in Mr. Puzo's books. A historian looks at the Kremlin today and sees elements of Mussolini's "corporate state," Latin American juntas and Mexico's pseudo-democratic PRI machine. A Puzo fan sees the Putin government more accurately: the strict hierarchy, the extortion, the intimidation, the code of secrecy and, above all, the mandate to keep the revenue flowing. In other words, a mafia.
The question Kasparov doesn't answer: Why does the populace submit and actually facilitate the mafia? One answer is fear. Yes, fear is a motivation. But this is Russia not Italy. The Russian ego is driven by pride and strength. They enjoy intimidation. The general population relates to and lives vicariously through Putin and his mafioso government's strength.

Perhaps the great majority of thinking Russians were expunged during Stalin. Perhaps the thinking man fled Russia during the ensuing communistic years. But Russia thrives on brute force. The average Russian respects it. Who wants choices when one can have power?

H/T Gina Cobb

It's The End of the World As We Know It

I've noticed a change in how Western Civilization is described recently. It's almost like some are gleeful that it's almost over. Why wait for tomorrow? Some write the glowing post-mortem today:

There is no reason a nation with a shrinking population cannot maintain steady rates of GDP per capita growth if mechanization and labour productivity gains keep up a good pace. Indeed, George Mason economist Robin Hanson argues that soon enough robots will be doing almost all the jobs [pdf] anyway. So it is easy enough to imagine a country that maintains a high standard of living as the population eventually shrinks to ... nothing. People differ rather vehemently on this issue, but I see nothing wrong with a population dwindling away entirely, as long as living conditions remain high. All individual lives come to an end, but they are not therefore worthless. Societies don't last forever either, and neither do nation-states. A society that fades away in high style might count as a spectacular human triumph, not a failure. Where's the underprovided public good in steady-growth population decline?
Who cares about the Western world? Societies eventually die. If it dies in this generation, but dies in style, fantastic. The article was written by an economist calling into question the notion that children are a public good. Some aren't a public good, I'll grant him that. Neither are some economists.

I would like to suggest that the chances of Western Civilization going out in style are slim to none without military to protect it. Forget about breeding workers to feed the pensions. The wealthy and childless don't need a pension anyway. They have their money. Who cares about the dull-witted and poor? Tough bananas. They're going to die one way or another.

Actually, with a dwindling population, the rich and poor will likely die in the same way: at the point of a sword.

The Western world may be run by a world of robots, but someone has to run the robots. And a wealthy society, as fat and old as Europe, is ripe for the picking by a younger, hungrier bunch.

I think the save the earth, one-child types might want to consider how they want to meet their Maker. It is unlikely they will go out while communing with nature. It is more likely they'll go out communing with human nature.

H/T Glenn Reynolds

Words & Deeds

Gordon Brown: The Maverick. This man will change the nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Britain. He will change the language of war. He will be partner not a "lap dog" like Blair. And the British press, both left and right, want out of Iraq. Up until today, Brown gave signals that he felt the same way. Here is what Brown said:

But in an article today in the Washington Post, Mr Brown quoted the former US president Franklin Roosevelt when he said that the "arsenal of democracy" - schools, museums, newspapers and the arts - was just as important as weapons in defeating terrorists.

And Mr Brown again avoided using the term "war on terror", in favour of calling terrorism "a war against humanity".
Gordon Brown says flowery words, but as of today, will keep troops in Southern Iraq, much to the fury of the left in Britain. Will Gordon Brown's words save him at home?

A theory has been put forward that the left won't take terrorism seriously until they have the power. Only then would they act like adults and honestly engage the problem. Nancy Pelosi has yet to grow up. She looked rather silly sitting with the Syrian tyrant Assad. Senator Obama says he'll engage all the rogue states if he's president. Would Clinton and Obama keep the flowery rhetoric while seriously dealing with the War on Terror? I'm not so sure--they have a lot of anti-war promises to keep.

More optimistically, is there a tough Republican who could continue the fight and encourage citizens with articulate, reasoned and inspiring arguments? Before the Bush presidency I thought deeds were enough; and they are still the most important indicator of a man's character. In our next president, though, it would be nice if he could be a master of words, too.

Cross posted at Right Wing News.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finding Justice in America

Ever since high school, I noticed the justice system was more than a little out of whack. The kids without hall passes on their way to blow their nose would get detention, while the hardened criminal drug dealers who were finishing their senior year at age 25, were given a wide berth. The teachers didn't want those guys in detention or in-school suspension. They were scary.

There is a tendency in the justice system to terrify and ruin the guys and girls without hall passes and avoid the real trouble. Mark Steyn gives some recommendations for fixing the system.

To me, the biggest solution: get rid of plea bargains. They are like antibiotic overuse. The bugs become resistant and the system gets overrun. Our justice system is sick. It could use a hygienic make-over.

What's So Bad About Communism?

What's so bad about communism asks a John Hawkin's reader? Johns answer:

Communism is a system that forces human beings to behave in a method that runs contrary to human nature and as such, is always destined to fail, impoverish the people living under it, and crush the human spirit. Communism is all about forcing people to work for the state, stealing the fruit of their labor, and giving faceless bureaucrats unlimited power and control over every aspect of the human existence.

My short answer: Your lazy brother-in-law makes as much money as you do and then reports you to the collective if you don't keep up the hard work and enthusiasm that keeps his lazy ass in the crappy manner he's accustomed.

Communism comes into vogue because a fundamental flaw in the economic system frustrates the people (oligarchies, rampant poverty and corruption, no middle class, no rule of law) and the underclass believe that "evening the playing field" would save them their despair. The citizens of Venezuela and many countries before them quickly learn that they get more than they bargained for: oppression, loss of property rights, loss of any rights.

The Left likes communism for many reasons:
  1. They believe everyone is stupid and could use their intelligent guidance
  2. They believe life isn't fair and want to make it fair
  3. They deny their own human nature and urge to dominate, and communism fulfills authoritarian fantasies.
The same rich celebrities who blithely wear Ché shirts, are the same people living in 20,000 s.f mansions and demanding that you and I wipe our butt with one piece of toilet paper. In a communistic society, they'd actually get to enforce their pet ideologies on everyone while living their hypocritical, privileged life--if they didn't tangle with the collective first and end up before a firing squad. Who would the poor and their reps go after first? I'd say the toilet paper police would be the ones meeting the business end of a military device, first, much to their shock and dismay. But in the Left's never ending stupidity, they think they would be immune from the rules because they already follow all the really important ones. Their denial makes them dangerous.

And watch out for "socialism". It's just another version of the same failed ideology.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rich People Buy Hardback Books: Do They Read Them?

Rich people read hard back books Arnold Kling asserts. He bases it on the correlation between hard back book ownership and wealthy zip codes. Do rich people read more? I say yes. Ann Althouse says no. She has a list of reasons here.

We're talking correlation, not causation. It's not like the research says that the books make people smarter and richer, only that richer people have lots of hardback books. I think that they read at least some of them. Ann's skepticism seems misplaced. Although, Harold Bloom thinks business execs don't read enough so maybe she's right.

What I don't buy is that people of moderate means are borrowing books from the library and reading the classics and doing more heavy reading that their wealthy counterparts. Everyone is reading the best-seller list--that's what makes the best sellers. I was alarmed to find the local library selling classic works because no one was checking them out. My daughter has Steinbeck's book Red Pony right now (she went with the hubby to the library and when I asked him "are there any happy Steinbeck books?"--none that I'm are of, but I digress) and it's very old and gently used. My point is that the kinds of books people check out of the library are probably the exact same kind of books they buy at the store. Likewise, what a person of moderate means buys at the store probably reflects what he borrows from the library.

Bill Gates is known for being surrounded by piles of books and has a world map in his garage so he can always have new information to learn. Rich? Check. Hardback books? Check. Smart? Check. Anecdotal and he could be a big fat faker? Maybe.

Here's my defense of rich people reading:

  1. Specialties that require the rich person to stay up on the latest in his/her industry. If they're in business they can cheat by subscribing to something like this. But that's still better than not reading. And I'm guessing that once a person reads the summary and likes it, the person of means might go out and buy the hardback and read the whole thing.
  2. Book clubs. People who live in rich zip codes belong to them. Sure, most of the ladies (and some gentlemen) spend most of the time gossiping and drinking Chardonnay, but they buy the hardback and one or two actually read the book and the others ostensibly absorb some knowledge.
  3. Self-betterment vs. survival. It is arguably worthless to read self-help books when the extra time could be spent working an extra job. So the best sellers are self-help books. Sure they are. Why so snarly, Ann? People want to make their lives better. Some people spend good money to read self-help books and don't do much with the knowledge. Others actually use a hint here or there and live longer, get richer and stay happier by following a recommendation. One of my favorite books in the world is self-help in nature. In fact, I have a couple favorites (see below).

Most Americans don't read much anyway, or go to bookstores, it seems:
Only 32% of the U.S. population has ever been in a bookstore.

42% of U.S. college graduates never read another book.

58% of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school.

70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
81% of the U.S. population feels "they have a book inside them."
But I'm guessing the ones that do read or go to a bookstore, can afford to buy books in the first place. I also feel safe in betting that those who might actually make the effort to go to a bookstore or hit Amazon, might actually be one of the few who read, too.

Peace: Ten Enemies of Peace

Peace is an undervalued commodity. Most people confuse a peaceful life with a boring life. They prefer excitement and adventure. What too many people actually have is conflict and anxiety.

There are many enemies of peace and most of them, interestingly, are within our own control:

  1. DESIRE TO WIN: Is this a worthy argument that needs athe best solution or do you just like arguing? Some people won't let go of inane conversations because they must win.
  2. BUSY-NESS: It really isn't necessary to talk on the phone, IM, fiddle with the iPod and drive at the same time, but people do it. And they wonder why they feel wrecked at the end of the day and they wonder why they get into wrecks--which cause more stress.
  3. DRAMA: Some people need to have a story to tell, In some families, the only stories that are shared are the tragic ones. Every gruesome, disturbing detail gets replayed with relish. Stop the drama and tell the fun stories.
  4. MESSY-NESS: You come home to a house that looks like a bomb went off and wonder why you have post traumatic stress disorder. You have too much stuff; get rid of it. You have let the training of your family go--retrain them. A house should be a sanctuary not an aviary.
  5. NOISE: Turn off the TV, the radio, the children's "outdoor voices". Most of the noise pollution we suffer through, we create ourselves.
  6. EGO: You're not the master of the universe, which gets driven home during a health or financial crisis. Some of the peace problems are simply ego problems. An anxiety-filled person may wrongly believe that the fate of the world is in his or her hands. Thankfully, it isn't. Prayer, on your knees, reminds you of your humble position and actually frees you from believing that you must be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.
  7. MEDIA: Nearly every source of news whether it be magazines, Television, even my beloved internet, is negative. Reading books, however, focuses the mind while feeding the mind. They often give a long-term and broader view which is less anxiety provoking.
  8. WORK: Whether it's a weekend away or a day home alone with the phones turned off and the shades drawn, it's nice to have some time to reassess and calm down. Stepping out of the fast lane, even for a moment can really help.
  9. LOST CAUSES: Why do you still try to salvage that relationship with the most annoying person in the universe? I call them "Ch'i suckers". Too often, we pursue these relationships because we want them to turn out well. Some just won't. If you dread a phone call, if you dread their presence, if you have tried for years to no avail: let it go. Pray for them. Try to end it well. But end it.
  10. DEBT: Money, baby! Or the lack of it is a constant stress. Very often, it is within our control to work on ridding ourselves of it. Is that new iPhone worth your peace of mind, if you can't really afford it?

One year, on my dream board, I made the goal simple: Peace. It made such a difference, that it's been a goal ever since.
Psalm 34:14 (Amplified):
Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!
Peace doesn't just come to you, you have to seek it and pursue it earnestly. Peace must be its own goal.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Most People Don't Use Keys To Happiness

And the keys are there to use!

  • Gratitude
  • Forgiveness
  • Make friends
There's more ideas here.

Get Rich, Quit Watching TV: It Worked For Us!--UPDATED

The founder of SavingAdvice.com says:

When people ask me what was the best decision I made when I decided to create this website, they are often surprised when I tell them that it was my decision to quit watching TV. There is no doubt that TV costs people far more financially than they believe. For most people, TV is a habit that costs in excess of $1 million over a lifetime, or the equivalent of a healthy retirement account. For me, had I continued to watch TV over the past five years, in addition to the monetary aspects, it would have been the difference of working in a job I didn’t like and having my dream job working for myself for which there is no way to set a price.
Did getting rid of cable five years ago [Update: it was seven years ago, now] make us richer? Well, we certainly spent our time doing other, more important things like reading, learning something new and communicating. It helped us more clearly identify our goals and we spent more time fulfilling them. Actually, when I think about it: new house, new vehicle, new pool, new kid, restructured office hours, more savings.... Maybe it did work. [Update: New business, too. That's the key. We went into business for ourselves which was more work but more rewarding. And it took five years for the new house and new kid, and seven for the new pool.]

In retrospect, getting rid of the TV freed up time to think. It cleared mental space and forced us to be mindful of what we were (or weren't) doing.

You'll recall that I got my husband digital cable (curse Comcast!) for his birthday so he could watch March madness. We're weaned of TV shows, but do like watching sports. Even still, we have been irritated with how much time that wastes. (And I did get hooked to watching American Idol. Sigh.) So, we just got rid of it again. Unlike the past, I just don't turn on the TV during the day. It's not a temptation. I hate the noise.

Unfortunately, now I'm addicted to blogging. My brother calls it a disease. He may be right. I have wondered if I've used this new medium to distract me from doing really important things. Could we get even richer if I quit blogging? Goodness knows, I'm not getting rich blogging. Although, I do feel, intuitively, that blogging is clearing a path for my future. I'm just not quite sure how yet.

Maybe I should give up blogging for a month and see how I spend my time. That would give me at least three hours a day to do something else. Maybe even do something more worthwhile.

H/T Glenn Reynolds

UPDATE: For what it's worth, I wouldn't consider myself rich. Makes me think of the Cosby Show when one of the kids asks, "Are we rich?" To which the mom responds, "Honey, rich is when you don't work for your money, your money works for you. And we work for our money." So, I wouldn't say we're anywhere near rich. I doubt rich people have student loans in their late thirties. Ha!

Maybe if I give up blogging, though.....

Network Medicine: Medicine To Treat Dysfunctional Groups

Fat people have fat friends. Even if they live far, far away, their friends are fat, too. The doctors theorize that the fat people have the same ideas about health. My guess, is that they have the same kind of emotional states. That is, they're bonded because they have similar personalities, endured the same kind of stresses and experiences, and they react in the same way--that could included eating carbs to self-medicate:

After an exhaustive study of the individuals' relationships - including friends, family and neighbors - the investigators found that a person's chances of becoming obese increased 40 percent if he or she had a sibling who became obese and 37 percent if they had a spouse who became obese.

Most surprising though, was the risk of obesity among unrelated friends. The study showed that if the friendship was casual, a person's risk of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if the friend became obese. If the relationship was strong and the two people claimed each other as friends, then if one became obese, the friend's risk of obesity jumped by 170 percent.

I'm not sure the germ model of disease fits, here, but some are trying to hornswaggle it in that way:
Observers say this is the first time it appears that groups of people have infected one another with a non-infectious disease, and they predict the study may lead to a new field called network medicine.
And how will they treat fat people across the miles? Maybe technology will help.

This also calls into question the benefit of fat farms. Perhaps the peer pressure to eat to cope outweighs the benefit of being treated together. Unlike drugs which are taboo in rehab, people still have to eat at in-patient treatment centers. They might have a more difficult time surrounded by friends who are fat, too.

Scott Beauchamp: How Far The MSM Will Go To Find The Narrative--UPDATED & BUMPED

You knew there would be a John Kerry coming out of this War, didn't you? I mean, it's inevitable. Never mind that the army these days is 100% volunteer. Never mind that soldiers are re-upping and re-upping to serve in Iraq; to get the job done. There had to be at least one of these guys:

Let's see -- emotionally immature with a juvenile persecution complex; delusions of intellectutal superiority; a huge chip on his shoulder about not having his genius properly recognized by the morons around him; he believes America is keeping him down due to his intellect; and he's determined to get those "riches" usually reserved for football stars, by hook or by crook!
And, by Job! The New Republic found their needle in the haystack, this super-secret "Bagdhad Diarist" in Private Scott Beauchamp. Here's what he said before being deployed:
Americans dont like smart people...at least people who are intelligent just to expand human knowledge. If youre smart, it better lead to riches. And as for the all american heroes, they're not more intlligent than you...just sexier or faster or in a gang, or, like, really really really good at football. It leaves no hope for those who are pretty useless save their intellect. Sorry AJ. You'll always be MY hero.
And this, too:
...I cant do it without getting through this army experience first, which will add a legitimacy to EVERYTHING i do afterwards, and totally bolster my opinions on defense, etc, and of course its making me a lot less lazy, just because im not use to being lazy any more, etc

Gateway Pundit says this:
Private Beauchamp is in a heap of trouble!
And, so is The New Republic for publishing such obviously bogus stories.
We'll see about that, Larry. So far, I haven't seen any part of the MSM pay for any of their misinformation ever. I mean look at the Duke Rape case. The MSM just keeps rolling.

Over at The Weekly Standard:

It's good to finally know the author's name, but there is nothing here to confirm the events as described by Beauchamp. Right now, we have no reason to believe that his stories are anything other than what we first suspected them to be: a "pastiche of the 'This is no bullshit . . . stories soldiers like to tell."

If the stories are true, we regret that Beauchamp has been forced to take "time out of his already insane schedule" of ridiculing IED victims, desecrating children's corpses, and killing stray dogs to "play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join." But, as Dean Barnett points out this seems more than a little disingenuous considering that his blog reveals that he joined this war "just to write a book" and that he "misses political arguments. There seems to be a consensus with all the boys overseas...we laugh harder at CSPAN than comedy central. Silly republicans."

That Beauchamp chose to reveal himself at this point also seems a bit disingenuous, since the military has already launched an investigation and, courtesy of JD Johannes, we'd already identified his unit four days ago. If we'd gotten that much information, it was only a matter of time before somebody besides his editors started asking him "hard questions."

"Scott Thomas" won't be the first or last. In this charged environment, Lefties will believe ANY THING impugning a soldier. It fits the narrative. Just like John Kerry came back and exploited the post-Vietnam EST, there will be weak-minded, weak-willed, self-serving soldiers who went to Iraq with an agenda and will come home with one, too.

And for every traitorous soldier, there will be a media outlet who gives him succor and shelter.

More at Blackfive. Doesn't every office, every church, every team everywhere have a guy like this?
Every unit has a Scott Thomas, the whiny pissant whose brilliance is never recognized and who is always being abused by the chain of command for stuff that's not his fault. It would be normal to hear folks telling him to STFU and do his damn job.
This is the guy who you want to yell at: Shut up and march!

More at OpFor:

Private Beauchamp has just placed himself in an unenviable 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' scenario. If his stories are true, he'll be facing the business end of the UCMJ. If false, he'll be exposed as a fraud and a liar, and will have destroyed that budding writing career that he so confidently promised.

So we know he's a soldier. I never doubted that in the first place, he spoke the lingo well enough. But, as Greyhawk noted, the inquiry has really just begun. Now we have to go about fact-checking his stories, which I suspect will turn out to have been grandly embellished.

So no doubt wheels are turning over in the 1/18's command staff right now. Wouldn't be surprised if Private Beauchamp was standing tall in front of the man at this very moment, under the scruntity of an aggressively curious CO who is demanding details down to the letter about each of his diary entries.

Expect a press release soon. The Army is going to move quick on this, now that they have a face to the name.

Either way, today is going to be a very bad day for Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

It's a bad day for Beauchamp, but the MSM will slither on, spewing their venom with impunity.

By the way, why do these arrogant scumbags always look just like you'd imagine them to look? Sheesh, Beauchamp just walked out of central casting: Arrogant, disaffected, intellectually superior, yellow belly whiner.

UPDATE: Charles at Little Green Footballs reports that Beauchamp is engaged to a TNR staffer and the "formerly sane" Andrew Sullivan is defending "Thomas".

UPDATED AGAIN: What if this was just a matter of a soldier baiting a Leftist MSM outfit and making them look like jack-asses using parody, asks Jeff Goldstein. Hmmmmm.... Crafty! That would kinda blow the whole "soldiers are no-necked ijits" wouldn't it?

Consider: if the author’s intent is to produce a “Scott Thomas” whose “reportage” is eventually shown to be apocryphal, then what we have is a person who intended that “Scott Thomas” be found out and exposed as a fraud. From there, we can speculate on the motives behind that intent. For instance, we can speculate that this entire hoax was created in order to weaken the credibility of the anti-war press.

As it turns out, of course, Beauchamp’s actual motives, coupled with Foer’s gullibility and his lame subsequent attempts to cover up for what will prove to be a major editorial blunder, will weaken the credibility of the anti-war media without any special help from some skilled parodist. But the text itself doesn’t rule out the latter, and it is this point that I hope to drive home.

Jeff is responding to this semiotic analysis of "Scott Thomas'" work by John Barnes. He is astonishingly accurate in his suppositions and funny, too:
"Scott Thomas", however, writes exactly like the mid-20s macho MFA student who is lying about an adventurous background. That list of symptoms I gave above is what every one of them I have encountered – probably around 50 in my lifetime – has written like. The point of those stylistic tics and content-fetishes is the same as the point of all the bizarre stories of mayhem, cruelty, and sheer shit-headedness that they tell in the bar after writing workshops: to confirm their role in the MFA program social system. Among the benefits of that role are free passes on certain kinds of bad behavior in class, sexual attractiveness to some other grad students (those with a thing for bad boys), and the maintenance of their interior movie in which they are played by some combination of James Dean, Bob Dylan, the younger Norman Mailer, and Hunter S. Thompson.
But ultimately, he's upset at The New Republic because it gives the left a bad name, and Barnes doesn't want that. Ah well, I'd like to say that this little TNR boondoggle will change the leftist narrative that drives everything within the MSM, but I have a little prediction of my own:

The left will come out defending this indefensible tripe. They will project their conspiracy theories on the military and suggest just what Goldstein puts forth: The New Republic was had! The military used them! This will make the Left look loonier. The public will sigh and shrug. So what? The press is biased...blah, blah, blah.

And Barnes is right. One day there might really be a horrible scene like leftists imagine happened every place an American soldier carries a weapon. There might be some atrocity committed. But no one will want to hear it. The left has cried wolf too often now. The public is going deaf.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Japan Neo-Nationalism

Is this a good sign?

Computers Almost Beat Humans At Poker

Fascinating. Poker is so complex--when considering human unpredictability. Or maybe we're more predictable than we'd like to admit. Initially, the computer bested the world-champion Texas Hold 'Em players:

After their shellacking, Laak and Eslami got their heads together and decided to take an even more focused, deliberate approach to the third set on Tuesday afternoon. The programmers, meanwhile, went to a mixed strategy, selecting three software variants as tag teams for each of the human opponents.

In the end, it was the humans who were able to adapt to the bots. The humans won the third faceoff against the tag-team bots, and went on to beat Mr. Pink in the fourth and final round.

"The computer program is tricky," Schaeffer said. "It's hard to model. Its roots are in deep algorithms. Either consciously or subconsciously, [the humans] were able to figure out something and win."
So the computer team Polaris will go back at it and they'll try again in a few months. Before you scoff at the silliness, consider the usefulness of smart computers:
Laak said he and Eslami gave Polaris' programmers some suggestions for making the bots better. "We actually told them the way you can beat us," he said. "If you could take Agent Orange, crank him down 50 percent, then have that guy play us randomly, so that each hand would be the new Agent Orange or Mr. Pink ... that might be the thing we can't beat."

Eslami said he encouraged the programmers to focus on the adaptive approach used by Agent Orange. "I think that's going to have application in broader society," he said.


The University of Alberta's Schaeffer echoed that view: "The challenge to us is how to get computers to reason and act intelligently in the absence of complete information. Poker is a game of what we call partial information. In this case, you don't know the opponent's cards. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but since you don't know what they have, you have to deal with probabilities."

The same challenges apply to making money in the stock market, where you have only partial information about the prospects for all the companies you could invest in ... or to buying a used car, where you have to sort through incomplete and sometimes misleading information as you negotiate a deal.

"What you're doing is, you're playing a game of poker," Schaeffer said. Next-generation software could help humans play those real-life games better - and, one can hope, more fairly.
Exactly. Some scoff that games like Texas Hold 'Em is gambling and it's wrong. Well, I don't like gambling. I like having complete information, if possible, but it's just not always the case in life. Nor is life 100% chance. We make decisions, we learn by experience, we make different decisions, we learn by experience. Some people learn by other's experience by watching. But there is nothing like playing a lot of hands to learn the game. Just like life.

Neuroleadership--Evolving Business Practices Using Mind Science

People seek new and interesting ways to motivate (get people to do what you want them to do with them wanting to do it) and manipulate (get people to do what you want them to do whether they like it or not) their employees, spouses, children, friends, family, etc. Mothers are notoriously effective at brow-beating their children into a certain kind of behavior. I remember one high school teacher complaining about doing summer classes for adults, because she couldn't get them to do what she wanted them to like she could high school students. As people age, they get more resistant to, and less interested in being pushed around. As Britney Spears demonstrates, adults can be downright self-destructive when they carry the mantle of teenage rebellion into adulthood. They can make "loser decisions".

Businesses, made up of people very motivated to motivate employees to produce more and be happy doing it, have turned to science to exploit explore how the mind works. They want to know how people respond to images. They want to know how people make decisions. They want to know how people make moral judgments. Business Week has this to say:

Still, the people linking the two fields believe the "hard" science of the brain will someday offer fresh insights for the "soft" art of leadership. At Emory, researchers asked 16 executives to respond to PowerPoint slides about moral quandaries, such as acting on privileged information, while inside an MRI machine. They found that managers weighing ethical dilemmas use the part of their brain associated with early memories, which could mean moral thinking is formed early in life. This could indicate that sending leaders with an appetite for Enron-style accounting through ethics seminars will do little good, says Roderick Gilkey, a management and psychiatry professor who was part of the study.
Makes me think of all the toddler monsters running around. Perhaps the early moral training of a child does matter after all. Train up a child in the way he should go..but I digress.

Managers hope to find what works and what won't work when motivating people using tools like functional MRIs (fMRI) and EEGs. We'll see. Some fear it's just another management craze--we've been a few years without one:
If such concepts strike you as familiar management axioms, you aren't alone. USC's Bennis found Rock and Schwartz's article to be "filled with banalities" about leadership. And some summit attendees intrigued by neuroscience's promise for business were turned off by what they saw as Rock's attempts to carve out his own brain-based consulting niche. Rock says business leaders are drawn to scientific explanations; Schwartz says he hopes managers will be receptive to his attempts "to create a new language for self-awareness."
Since my business consulting company includes a fair amount of neuroscience, I'll list some business tips using some psychology and neuroscience(off the top of my head, in no particular order):
  1. Can a child do it?--Too many products, services, and business practices are too complicated. A person shouldn't have to slow down and struggle through a task that a manager or innovator wants a person to use habitually. Make it easy or it won't happen. Steve Jobs seems to intuitively get this. The rest of the tech industry is coming around, but it means getting rid of their superiority complex about tech.
  2. Stress behavior--A person can be one way in a normal every-day situation and come completely undone under stressful circumstances. The difficulty is knowing what a person perceives as stressful. Another challenge: some people manage stress far better than others. This is where behavioral interviewing and personality assessments are helpful. They can't reveal character, but they can reveal how a person perceives stress.
  3. Pain Avoidance/Pleasure Seeking: What causes stress? It is now known that psychological pain goes to the same part of the brain as physical pain. Our heart can be broken and it can ache. People will do all sorts of things to avoid pain. Pain can be a boss' disapproval. Pain can be social ostracism. Pain can be impossible goals. Pleasure can be inclusion, elevation, encouragement, accomplishment. People are usually quite simple this way. They will avoid the pain-givers and painful experiences and they will move toward those who make them feel good about themselves. Bosses who seek to control with demeaning aggression will often succeed only so long.
  4. Varied rewards: However, those bosses who try to be buddies with their employees (ditto parents with kids) will end up creating monsters. People who receive predictable rewards (Christmas bonus anyone?) no matter their accomplishments will tend to find that a disincentive to continue producing. This is where Marxists don't get human behavior--at all. They think that people will intrinsically do the right thing just because. But as my nurse friend found out in Russia, doctors and nurses with no rewards tend to not show up for work, leaving their critically ill charges on their own to die or survive. Here is how to reward Fido. It's also a good primer in understanding rewards for humans. A bit on conditioning here.
  5. The Beast in The Man: There are parts of the human brain that mirrors the reptile. A reptile is concerned about survival, nothing more. Eating, reproducing, defending, and predatory behavior is to survive. The behavior is instinctual. It is thoughtless. That is, there is no reasoning involved. Humans have this part of the brain, too. It's called the Limbic System and it is deeply embedded in the brain. When people seem irrational, it's because this part of the brain is controlling the system. The least evolved among us, The Cavemen and Cavewomen, seem to exclusively use their reptilian brain with a little reasoning thrown in to manipulate the system. Hopefully, they get fired. Normally, they just go work for the government.
  6. Double-binds: Bosses can inadvertently put their employees in double binds: a situation where there are no solutions. Employees, trying to please their boss will be at a loss to achieving the expectation. Statements like, "You know what I want" and the employee doesn't but risks not knowing by saying so.
  7. Frontal Lobe & Free Will: Most business situations are not life and death, they just feel like it. If people learn to take a big breath, usually before speaking, and engage their frontal lobe, they will be less likely to trip up doing or saying something stupid. Ultimately, people have free will. We are not automatons marching through life. In fact, one of the most disturbing phenomena is the criminal insisting that "he couldn't help it". This defense is used in business, too. One danger of the neuroscience exploration is to diminish the importance of choice. It may seem like a gut instinct, but most choices are made based on habit--making similar small decisions over and over. Ultimately this forms character. Character is how we can predict a person's reaction in a certain situation. Humans have minds, not just brains. They have choice.
The overarching problem in adult work situations is that they often reproduce dysfunctional family dynamics. Instead of adults acting autonomous, employees interact like competing siblings, their bosses act as imperious parents. The anxiety and frustration felt can seem juvenile probably because it was juvenile the first time.

It's no wonder that business has partnered with science to understand the psyche, the mind's development and how to help people "grow up" and interact in a healthy and productive way.

Humans are messy. Neuroscience may help people hone leadership skills, it may give insight, but there will never be a silver bullet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Manolo For The Big Girl

Manolo the Shoe blogger now has a blog for the Big Girl and by big, I don't mean big feet. I mean big and beautiful, baby! If the big shoe fits, ladies, enjoy!

NYT Under The Microscope for Duke Rape Coverage

The New York Times delivered the worst coverage of the Duke Rape case. Because it's ostensibly the paper of record, it's reach extends like slithery tentacles through most of the Media. They drive the narrative and, in this case, they drove the misinformation campaign. Duff Wilson's coverage was especially egregious, a fact I noted at the time:

Now, you might think after those two paragraphs citing "1,850 pages of evidence", that loads and loads and loads of damning material was disclosed. Uh oh! Those Duke devils deserve damnation. Fer shur! You might think that, but there's just nothing there. Here it comes:
Crucial to that portrait of the case are Sergeant Gottlieb’s 33 pages of typed notes and 3 pages of handwritten notes, which have not previously been revealed.
But wait, those 3 pages of handwritten notes were written during the investigation. Where did this booklet-length typed notes come from?

The sergeant’s notes are drawing intense scrutiny from defense lawyers both because they appear to strengthen Mr. Nifong’s case and because they were not turned over by the prosecution until after the defense had made much of the gaps in the earlier evidence.

Joseph B. Cheshire, a lawyer for David Evans, one of the defendants, called Sergeant Gottlieb’s report a “make-up document.” He said Sergeant Gottlieb had told defense lawyers that he took few handwritten notes, relying instead on his memory and other officers’ notes to write entries in his chronological report of the investigation. (Hahahahaha! This is where the evidence lies? Duff and Jon, you're kidding right? That this is giving you hope that the case will go the way you want with potentially innocent guys going down based on a dude's long-term memory and "other officers"?)

Mr. Cheshire said the sergeant’s report was “transparently written to try to make up for holes in the prosecution’s case.” He added, “It smacks of almost desperation.”

Desperation, indeed.

And then, on page two of this fair article, the pictures of the three young men, are again plastered. Still innocent, I recall, until proven guilty. You know what? If DNA and timing and every other detail of this case supported the woman of high honor making this claim, I might not feel so bad with their pictures revealed. But give me a break, the evidence is flimsy, but the pictures and names do elicit "frat boy rage"--a new disease started by Bush hatred. (I can just hear liberals saying, "I bet that's just the kind of guy George Bush was when he was in college. Rich, privilaged and WHITE!")
So we're talking about that Duff Wilson and his defender Bill Keller. KC Johnson is noting the outrageous excuses for the Time's/Wilson's misinformation that comes on the heels of this report by American Journalism review. KC Johnson notes Keller's deception:
Keller also was misleading at best and inaccurate at worst when discussing Duff Wilson’s 5600-word, front-page August 25 magnum opus.

The article, he asserted, “wasn’t a perfect piece, but it was a detailed and subtle piece that left you with no illusions about the strength of Nifong’s case.”


The Attorney General’s report said that Nifong had no case—that there was no credible evidence on which to base a prosecution.

The Times said, “By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong’s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury,” since “in several important areas, the full files, reviewed by The New York Times, contain evidence stronger than that highlighted by the defense.”

Wilson’s story left readers with the “illusion” that Nifong had “a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury”—when the Attorney General of North Carolina, who also conducted “an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation,” asserted exactly the opposite.

Keller also creatively reinterpreted how the article used Mark Gottlieb’s “straight-from-memory” report. The notes, he mused, “were interesting not because they proved the crime was committed, which they did not, but because they showed you for the first time what the prosecutor claimed he had, what was the basis for filing his charges.”
From the AJR:
Michael B. Nifong--the district attorney who pursued Seligmann, Finnerty and teammate David Evans even as evidence of their innocence mounted and his case imploded--was held accountable for his actions. Hours after Seligmann testified, Nifong announced his intention to resign; the next day, he was disbarred.

The media incurred no such penalties. No loss of license, no disciplinary panels, no prolonged public humiliation for the reporters, columnists, cable TV pundits, editorial writers and editors who trumpeted the "Duke lacrosse rape case" and even the "gang-rape case" in front-page headlines, on the nightly news and on strident cable shoutfests.
No, the media, including The Times, incurred no penalties--unless you consider drastically falling readership, declining ad revenue and dropping stock prices penalties. But really, on the personal level that media, even Mass media, has become, individuals have paid no price. Duff Wilson still has a job. Duff Wilson has not been held to account. Duff Wilson, representing the New York Time's and his editors continued to drive the narrative even after the preponderance of facts leaned way in the other direction.
"It was too delicious a story," says Daniel Okrent, a former New York Times public editor, who is critical of the Times' coverage and that of many other news organizations. "It conformed too well to too many preconceived notions of too many in the press: white over black, rich over poor, athletes over non-athletes, men over women, educated over non-educated. Wow. That's a package of sins that really fit the preconceptions of a lot of us."
And the preconceptions still preexist the cultural conditions. Will the Time's coverage change? Not if this case is any indication:
A college athlete accused of a gang rape (involving a 12-year-old girl of another race). Underage drinking acknowledged by all sides. A university (Oklahoma State) allowing the athlete to play despite the pending charges.

Surely these developments would arouse the fury of the New York Times, triggering multiple Page One stories and denunciatory columns from the likes of Selena Roberts and Harvey Araton.
KC Johnson notes:
The allegations of racial injustice that the Times detected don’t appear to have come to the notice of either the Oklahoman or the Gazette, even though articles in both papers, especially the Oklahoman, were not unsympathetic to the accused player.

As Clay Waters noted, “the Times seems determined to fit them into the same template of white-on-black racism it used in its botched coverage of the Duke ‘rape’ hoax.”

By the way, there’s been no sign of a Group of 88-like statement at Oklahoma State.
Nope, the elites in this country cannot let it go. They don't want to let it go. Every single race-studies, cultural studies, feminist studies should come under the heading "Victimology: Be An American Hero, Be A Victim--of The Right Gender & Color".

Cruising The Sea of Misery

Our cruise in November wasn't this bad, but it was pretty close.

Laurie David An Energy Hog & Strumpet

I know, I know. I should be above this kind of thing:

"It's been six years of trophy building, which creates a very large carbon footprint," neighbor Jackie Mendez-Diez told us yesterday. "It's huge hypocrisy. Laurie flies around in her private plane telling people what kind of car to drive, and she doesn't even know where the wetlands are on her own property." Mendez-Diez said she confronted David two weeks ago, and soon after was served with a no-trespass order by Chilmark police.

"Personalities aside, there's been an incredible amount of land disturbance and development, and there's been very little public scrutiny," says Ian Fein, a reporter at the Vineyard Gazette. "They've taken an area that was largely undeveloped and turned it into 'Camp David,' as they call it." Even more interesting, since her separation, Laurie has been seen around town with a prominent island contractor -- one who worked on her house, no less. What gives?
Hmmm... and there's more on the "Carbon Sasquatch":
"Actually, Laurie David has been creating one HUGE carbon footprint here on Martha's Vineyard for the last 6 years. Her disgusting and ostentatious trophy building has been virtually ceaseless for about 6 years now. The trucks and pollution stop only when Mrs. Carbon Sasquatch is here for her summer vacation, making herself the center of everyone's attention.

And I'd say the fact that I saw Laurie and her hottie but dumb building contractor, Bart Thorpe, holding hands while walking on a secluded dock to a boat yesterday, has a lot more to do with her marriage breaking up than the scratchy toilet paper she's forced on her family. I've also seen Bart bicycling in front of my house with a little girl he kept calling, Romy [Laurie's daughter is named Romy]. Bart, coincidentally, left his wife recently, too.

I met Laurie David 6 years ago. I didn't like her then. I don't like her now. She is the prime example of a spoiled, selfish, rich girl who says, "do what I say, not what I do". She is a narcissist and a hypocrite to the nth degree."

Man. Other than the fact that she thinks posting nasty blog comments about her neighbors is an appropriate venue for dispute-settlement, we're kind of liking this Jackie Mendez-Diez! "Scratchy toilet paper." Heh. Seriously, life is too short for that stuff.
Speaking of scratchy toilet paper, a good friend caused a marital spat when she bought recycled toilet paper. When her husband complained about his "@!$!! bleeding bum" they switched back to the tree-killing kind. It was one of the funniest stories I've ever enjoyed.

H/T Ace

MySpace Bans Sex Offenders...That They Know About

The remarkable thing about this story: 29,000. That number is terrifying.

"That number includes just the predators who signed up using their real names, and not the ones who failed to register or used fake names, or who haven't been convicted," wrote Mr. Cooper, who is one of several attorneys general working to slap restrictions on social networks.
In addition, how many technology un-savvy predators are there? With this Internets thingy, I found out: 600,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. Maybe being computer savvy, lacking social skills and luring children because you're too lame to get laid by an adult is a sub-set disorder of the 600,000. Or maybe there's multiple thousands more on MySpace registering under a pseudonym. That would be my bet. Parents, watch your children!

And initially, MySpace wouldn't release the predators' information. Let's see, Google will filter its content for China, but won't share data with their own government. MySpace will harbor sexual predators.

These technology companies need to find a moral compass and quick. Doing what's right shouldn't have to be imposed by the government or law enforcement. They are hardly more trust-worthy.

Home Sales Down

Down again across the country. An interesting thing is happening here, in The Woodlands, though. Sales of homes above $500,000 are moving briskly and increasing in value by over 15%/year. Sales of homes below $500,000 are slow, the market is glutted, and lots of lease-able houses are available. I don't know what to make of it, exactly. My guess is that owners in the lower range are defaulting and can't afford to even rent those homes. It's probably a good time to be renting used mobile homes for $700 a month.

From The New York Times:

Those problems have been exacerbated in recent months by spreading problems in the subprime mortgage market, which offered loans to buyers with spotty credit histories. Rising defaults in those areas are dumping more homes onto an already glutted market.

The sales declines covered all parts of the country. Sales were down 7.3 percent in the Northeast and 6.8 percent in the West. Sales fell 2.8 percent in the Midwest and 1.7 percent in the South.

There is a glutted market, alright. I'm just wondering if people in the East and West are seeing the same disparity--the bigger homes asking for more, the smaller defaulting. This would mean that the number of lower-income, middle-class people suffering is astronomical to pull the whole market down.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Show Saddam Hussein's Hanging

...If you're going to show six American troops burning alive.
And in other news, did you hear that Gerhard Schroeder received an honorary degree from the University of Damascus? That would be in Syria. I love that now that he's out of office he's decided to "out" himself as the enemy-lover that he is.

New Autism Theory

It's as good as any. What it seems to ignore is the cause of the genetic anomalies. To me, the cause must be environmental because the numbers have grown exponentially which is not exclusively attributed to higher reportage. Just ask long-term teachers. They'll tell ya.

Office Space Horror!

It's time for me to take a nap. I'm finding ridiculous YouTube clips more interesting than the Democratic Debates, sports scandals, and just about everything else. Like I said, time for a nap and some NyQuil, too, I think.

Failed States--UPDATED Post Evolving In Weird Ways

Interesting map and conclusions:

The vast majority of the states listed in the index have not yet failed; they exhibit severe weaknesses that leave them vulnerable, especially to shocks such as natural disasters, war, and economic deprivation. The power of such events should not be underestimated. The war in Lebanon last summer helped undo nearly two decades of economic and political progress. But Lebanon was vulnerable because its political and security structures lacked integrity and remained tensely divided by factionalized elites. Those vulnerabilities not only helped turn the clock back on the country’s development, but they reverberated across the region—into Israel, Jordan, and Syria. It shows again that a country’s problems are never simply its own.

H/T Siggy

I didn't look far enough down Siggy's page. He has this hilarious and strangely fascinating video. It's a slow start, but stay with it.

And then I found this....

Barry Bonds: The Company We Keep

Birds of a feather and whatnot. Barry Bond's ex-mistress is doing a Playboy spread. Wow, he sure has a classy inner circle. And she will be one of the chief witnesses against his royal dopiness.

I watched the duel of the old guys--John Smoltz and Barry Bonds last night. Johnny worked Barry over and Barry knew it. They shared a moment on the field:

"I can't divulge what he was saying, but we have a lot of respect for each other," Smoltz said. "We've battled for so long. I can't think of pitchers other than (Greg) Maddux and (Tom) Glavine ... we've all stayed in the National League, been there 20 years and so has he, so the history speaks for itself."
Smoltz nearly took Bond's knees out. Poor Barry can barely move. He is 43 or almost. So he's old. It was good to see John go after him though. Make Bonds work for it.

Shhhh! The Truth Will Make Them Queasy

Courtesy JihadWatch who got it from GatesofVienna

Employees IMing At Work

I remember when IMing came out on Google. My brother, the technologically savvy one, found ways to thwart security at his company who didn't allow IMing. It was like a game with the tech people.

Now, everyone uses it. It's fast. Easier than picking up the phone--you can still work. But there is a dark side, too. How would you like this guy as your boss?

Connecting people across job categories and time zones can be both the strength and the weakness of the technology. Tim Waire, vice president for information technology in the generation unit of Constellation Energy Group Inc., "tags" colleagues who are not at their computers so he is notified when they start using their computer again. "Because you're a 24-hour company, you expect people to be available 24 hours," he says. "There's no excuse anymore for not being available."
And Mr. Waire is paying his employees for 24-hour/day availability? Doubtful. As time goes on, and these technologies are easier and more ubiquitous, the bigger discussion will be creating boundaries.

In fact, I think that's the most important issue with technology in the future. How will people balance privacy, autonomy, and individualism with transparency, connectedness and team? In addition, every word is indexed. That's a lot of information that can be used or manipulated. Maybe it's too much information--a sea of information. Maybe, it will be used by the Mr. Waires of the world for nefarious purposes.

Overall, though, IMing is a boon for communication. I prefer it to phone calls. That way my hands are free. I love the iChat feature--being able to see people is a much better connection than either email or phone. It's like being with the person--and that's a good thing. Usually.

Libya Releases Doctor and Nurses Accused of Infecting Children With AIDS


Monday, July 23, 2007

Iran: What's New Pussycat?

Mark Steyn reminds the West that Iran holds three American hostages. Three. Why won't the press talk about it?

They would prefer to look at Iran as a sweet little kitty instead of the maturing tiger that would like to roar. And with nukes, they will do more than roar:

In America, public opinion is in no mood for war with Iran. In Washington, Congress is focused on finding the most politically advantageous way to lose in Iraq. In Europe, they've already psychologically accepted the Iranian nuclear umbrella. In the western world, where talks are not the means to the end but an end in themselves, we find it hard despite the evidence of 30 years to accept that Iran talks the talk and walks the walk. Once it goes nuclear, do you think there will be fewer fatwas on writers, stonings of homosexuals, kidnappings in international waters, forced confessions of American hostages, and bankrolling of terror groups worldwide? These latest hostages are part of a decades-old pattern of behavior. The longer it goes without being stopped, the worse it will be.
Maybe the EU is so far gone, they'll be allied with Iran.

Anchoress: Nothing New To Report

Except that she's back to blogging. And that, friends, is newsworthy.

Homeschooling & Headaches

I have the coughy, stuffy, head-achy, nose faucety, eye-watery, sinus cloggedy, kind of cold today. On a positive note: the kids are playing quietly, there is no screaming, and the sun is shining. Finally. All that Global Warming has kept my Houston pool at the brisk 85 degree temperature in mid-July. Normally, it would be a bath-tub by this time of the summer.

You know how I had a .00005% doubt about homeschooling? After the last two weeks, the doubt has risen to 50-50. I'm thinking about going back to my original plan--continuing public school for the kids through fourth grade and peeling them off one-by-one to home school.

Ironically, Madame Blueberry is protesting. She got her mind wrapped around home schooling and now wants, really, really wants, to do it. Ugh. I've talked before about my concern for my mental health and after this summer, my concerns have not diminished. We've had a great summer, really. But last week was H-E-Double Toothpick time and I worry.....about no escape.

Aighhhh! Go to work part-time, get a Nanny and send the kids to public school. Or, homeschool.

Adam Cohen: Imperious Ass

Just what bloggers expect: A pompous ass spouting baseless opinions at The New York Times and believing them to be fact just because he wrote them.

Presidents wage war. Congress funds them. When Congress is certain that de-funding the war will be politically expedient, it will happen. And not a moment before.

The Left is not interested in winning or losing against al-Qaeda. They're interested in George Bush losing. That's why the war is still funded. That's why there's talk of censure and impeachment, not de-funding. The former gives the Left onanistic pleasure, the latter actually means taking a stance and living with the consequences.

There will be no grown-ups in a Democrat-led Congress, not when it's so much fun to undermine the troops by attacking the Commander-in-Chief.

China's War on al-Qaeda

There is one, you know. It's rather one-sided and brutal and hopeless....for the Muslims. The West, hamstrung by the leftist elites and MSM, haven't documented this fight. They are too busy emasculating their own:

There are times when I am tempted to think that the Western Left is radical Islam's Ring of Power. And the brilliance of al-Qaeda's reliance on it as a force-multiplier is that the defeat of radical Islam must consequently come at the price of altering the structure of post-war Western politics itself. In a sense the Western Left has become a hostage to the current world crisis, and perhaps the only part of the Left that understands this are the signatories of the Euston Manifesto, who realized that al-Qaeda had already claimed its political soul: that unconciously, almost imperceptibly, the Left in uncritical embrace of any foe of America had come to align itself with the most brutal, obscurantist, repressive theocrats on the planet. And would conceivably share its fate with them.

But al-Qaeda's allies can only control events up to a point. Elemental forces are ranged against it. Chief among which is the sheer, simple brutality of countries like Putin's Russia and China. If a snapping point is reached, even the Left may not forever restrain the West. The end point of debasing the coin of information is absolute bankruptcy
China won't lose the War on Terror. They meet brutality with brutality. It's something that even Islamists understand. That's why the fight isn't taking place in Taipei.

As long as al-Qaeda has Western allies, the fight will be with the West.

Women Sex Offenders

Do women get off easier then men when it comes to sex offenses? Here's the facts. For all the hullabaloo about female predators, it's not women I worry about around my children (for that reason anyway). Women can be mean, but that's a different problem.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tim Donaghy Did Not Act Alone

Let me make a few predictions:

  1. Tim Donaghy did not act alone. It is nearly impossible for one ref to destroy the flow of a game.
  2. Many big games have been manipulated.
  3. The NBA is in huge trouble.
When this first happened, I told my husband that this guy was not alone. No. Way. Impossible. That games could be rigged or manipulated by refs didn't surprise me at all. So many games have seemed intentionally blown by refs that it was just a finally, there's some proof.

I had always assumed that the conspiracy came from Commissioner David Stern with advice to refs like "keep it close" or "be kind to the home team in the last few minutes". Wink. Wink. The consistently crappy calls were so infuriating, the players lackadaisically phoning it in so pathetic, I quit watching the NBA even though I love basketball. But there's no teams today like the old LA Lakers or Detroit Pistons or Boston Celtics or the Bulls before Jordan's and Pippen's heads expanded to fill every stadium they entered.

So there's dirty refs. The problem with this is: no one is surprised. No one. Bill Simmons at ESPN is more charitable towards Stern that I feel. I mean come on! Any lover of basketball saw the officiating mess that happened at the end of nearly every single end of season game. The players goof off 'til the fourth quarter. The refs stand taller and interfere to get the outcome they want. And the commissioner doesn't notice this? Simmons does have this right:
So that's one problem. The second problem is more complex. When news of the scandal broke on Friday, as J.A. Adande pointed out in his column that day, every diehard NBA fan had the same reaction. They weren't thinking, "I can't believe it!" or "Oh my God, how could this happen?" They were thinking, "Which one was it?" This was like finding out that your grandfather who smoked three packs a day for 50 years just came down with lung cancer. It was sad but inevitable. It was only a matter of time. These guys never made enough money (as we learned from the airplane ticket scandal) and struggled at their jobs consistently enough that there was no way to tell the difference between blowing a call and intentionally blowing a call.

More than any other professional league, an NBA referee can directly affect the outcome of every game. We've seen it happen time and time again, only we always assumed that the refs in question were working for the best interests of the league, that they were following orders like Luca Brasi (even if there was no definitive proof) -- like the guys who worked Game 6 of the Kings-Lakers series in 2002, or Game 7 of the Suns-Sonics series in 1993, or the infamous Hubert Davis Game in 1994. After Dwyane Wade and Miami received some Vince McMahon-level assistance in Games 3 and 4 of the 2006 Finals, I wrote an angry column about the "officiating crisis" (my words) that prompted Mavs owner Mark Cuban (tired of being fined) to post the link on his blog along with the sentence, "I never have to say a word again." After Dallas squandered that series, Cuban was so traumatized by the officiating that he nearly sold the Mavericks before family and friends talked him out of it.

For anyone who loves the NBA, the officiating has always been the proverbial "elephant in the room." No league has endured more jokes along the lines of "I'm not sure where the NBA ends and the WWE begins." Whether it's because of bad luck, poor training, measly pay or the thanklessness of the profession itself -- maybe it's all of those things -- the NBA employs a handful of good referees and an astonishing number of bad ones. In the playoffs, there never seems to be enough quality officials to go around. If that wasn't bad enough, the league displayed a nasty "habit" (note: I'm using quotation marks because you could never prove anything more than a series of coincidences) of assigning better referees if they needed road teams to prevail (like a marquee team trailing 2-1 and playing Game 4 on the road) and weaker referees if they needed home teams to prevail (because weak referees are more likely to have their calls prejudiced by a raucous home crowd). This "habit" was miraculously cured this past spring, one year after the fallout of the 2006 Finals, when the officiating assignments became noticeably more haphazard and we ended up with just one Game 7 in four rounds. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe not.

And that's before factoring in the public's perception (well-earned, by the way) that superstars receive more favorable calls than non-superstars. It's like Chris Rock's bit about dad getting the biggest chicken leg at the dinner table -- once you reach a certain level in the NBA, the whistles will come. This perpetual leeway allows gifted athletes like Wade, Gilbert Arenas and LeBron James to drive recklessly into traffic in crunch time, knowing they can either score or draw a foul. (Even when Michael Jordan won the '98 Finals on what everyone believed was his final shot ever, he famously shoved Utah's Bryon Russell to the ground before launching that jumper. No whistle.) If anything, LeBron's pre-2007 game depended on this leeway so much that he was completely ineffective in the 2006 World Championships; he kept bowling his way into the paint and waiting for calls that never came. The international refs almost seemed amused by him. The NBA refs would have been bailing him out.

So when news of the Donaghy scandal broke, everyone's reaction was the same: "Which one?"

Which one? Ha! The real question is "Which ones?" Mr. Simmon's optimism amuses me. No, for all Donaghy's evil scheming, he didn't scheme alone. He had help.

The NBA won't ever be the same. Hopefully, that will be a good thing. Eventually.

Beckham Saves U.S. Soccer?

For five full minutes, I thought Becks could save U.S. soccer, caught up in all the hoopla as I was. But the problem with professional soccer isn't the lack or presence of any one superstar player.

The problem with soccer is soccer.

The parents of four million kids registered their hyperactive progeny in soccer leagues across America. Soccer is the perfect parent sport. Kids run around in a million directions. They get thoroughly exhausted. They learn the basics of offense and defense using great big goals. Mostly they run around and dramatically fall down. A lot.

In professional soccer, the only difference is that the players run around faster with more skill and fall down with panache. And the stretchers that carry the "injured" players are kinda cool, too.

My opinion shifted away from savior and toward sideshow, part way through the game when one of the athletes flopped on the ground, writhing in pretend pain. Now basketball, my favorite sport, has their floppers (my favorite is Bill Laimbeer who always had a method to his madness) and they generally get on my nerves, too. Even Tim Duncan has turned into a world class whiner and I've always loved his play, but I hate the whining. I hate whining from superstars. I hate whining from no-name soccer players who just want a break because they're tired from running around for hours.

"Man up!" My brother exclaimed watching the histrionics. He claims that Americans want blood and guts not pretty boys running, falling, flailing and curling into the fetal position on the field after some minor contact. Football, real football, has complicated strategy and requires brains and brawn. Basketball, requires speed, agility and intricate team work.

Soccer requires endurance. Too much endurance. Mostly, it requires that fans can endure the aimless running around for hours on end. That might be great for parents watching their kids--they get tired kids out of the deal. But who wants to spend three hours and get a bunch of nothing?

I'll give Beckham this, though. He's hot.

We May Never Have Paris, But There's Always Normandy

A touching tribute from Normandy. Video here. For a while, I was so disgusted with France, I thought my kids would never see Paris. I'm thinking that a visit should happen and soon--before the lingua franca is Arabic.