Why are the Democrats attacking Bush over the economy? It's doing well. Very well. What the hell's the matter with people? The economy is one of those things that people have no idea about. As long as a whole bunch of people are saying "the economy is in bad shape" most people believe it- even Republicans. Wake up and read the growth figures!
¶ 12:20 PM
This Townhall.com article postulates that the administration may already have WMD's in possession, and hasn't revealed them yet. They give a few reasons; I'd like to add another.
Remember the "missile gap"? JFK looked pretty stupid complaining about the US lagging behind Russia in the possession of nukes, when we were really way ahead. Well, what if Bush decided that it would be better to a) reveal all WMD at once and b) let the Democratic candidates dig a nice, deep hole for themselves. Look for the revelation just before or near the election.
Is this immoral? Um...maybe. Of course, I'm spinning castles out of air, so it may be a moot point. But if he does...well, there are good reasons besides the political ones. And frankly, as a person who believes that Dean, Kerry, and the rest of the madmen (excuse me, madpersons) running for the DNC nomination are full of it, I won't cry a bit to see them look like a dog who broke into the cathouse looking for actual cats. Let 'em look stupid! Truth in advertising.
What if Clinton had done it? That's my measure of whether or not I am unduly biased. Well, I would have supported the war if Clinton had done it; withholding non-critical evidence is not exactly threatening our national security; so I find myself leaning towards an assumption of morality. It would be one thing to dig up dirt on the Democrats before the election (say, "discovering" a DWI conviction from years ago- not that the Democrats would ever do such a thing!). But withholding information that is supportive of your case (and banking on the fact that the Democrats really don't care whether there were WMD, but rather just want to capitalize on it)- I think that would be acceptable.
After all, all's fair in love, war- and politics.
¶ 12:18 PM
Here is an interesting article. I've always been lukewarm on racial profiling regarding terrorism, as the arguments of the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies (that such policies are short-sighted) seem correct. Granted, a short-term emphasis on Arab-Americans will likely turn up more terrorists- but with the whole world as a recruiting ground, other types would soon be used.
Think about it. If you want to destroy a building, and every Arab gets stopped, wouldn't you use a German who converted to Islam instead? Or maybe a Frenchman- Heaven knows that country is a hotbed of anti-Americanism, after all.
I don't know that these arguments apply to local situations (i.e. stop Jamaicans and Cubans on suspicion of drug-smuggling more than white people), but it certainly applies when the enemy is a highly organized, centrally operated (although with several centers, perhaps) group like al-Qaeda.
¶ 11:54 AM
Stocks soaring, Uday and Qusay dead, 2.4% projected annual growth, Howard Dean taken seriously- when will the Democratic nightmare end? Republicans are singing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas".
By this time next year, I expect a typical story in the NY Times to look something like this.
Doom is near, say Experts
Washington, DC- Yea, verily, the Apocalypse is near at hand. The Holy One, Howard Dean, seems doomed to defeat by the Evil Powers of the current President/Dictator, Bush, known also as Lord Voldemort. The powers of Darkness have swept down upon us, destroying those noble spirits that still toil for truth and justice, ravening demons that beguile the poor, stupid American public into believing the lies of the Beast.
Asked if he was the Antichrist by renowned veteran reporter Helen Thomas (may her light shine forever!), Bush replied, "That...is...true..." (Quote edited using the Maureen Dowd Truth-Enhancement Process, whereby the actual meaning of the phrase is divined through the use of a system that is far too complex for you poor, dumb slobs who actually voted for the Evil One).
Meanwhile, the Exalted One (the Noble Howard Dean, may he live forever) has stepped up his campaign, after temporarily losing his voice during an impassioned speech that took fourteen hours and seven minutes, an eloquent testament to his tenacity, spirit, and powers of belief. Truly, he is the King of Kings.
¶ 11:41 AM
A US official described North Korea as a hellish nightmare. How much you want to bet some people will be upset about that? After all, we shouldn't oughta said something like that about the socialist paradise that is the North Korean peninsula. It ain't nice, see.
People in NK are known to boil their shoes for what little nutritional value is in the leather. Rumors of cannibalism are rife; meanwhile, the noble, well-intentioned, brilliant architects of the Communist paradise build nuclear weapons, knowing that there is at least a 50-50 chance that the end result will be the destruction of their country in a true hell of nuclear fireballs.
Kim Jong is nuts. He is wacko. A few bricks short of a load. A few Crayolas short of a box. Reports of his stability have been greatly exaggerated. And we let him build nuclear bombs. Tell me how this story ends.
We need to whack the guy. Better yet, get the ChiComs to zap him. After all, they're spending a lot of time cozying up to the Mad Korean, so that probably means they're looking for a place to plant a knife. Remember, this is the society of Sun Tzu ("If you are weak, appear strong. If you are strong, appear weak. If you wish to attack, appear to retreat. If the boss walks into the room while you are surfing the net, appear to be working.") They differ a lot from the Rooskies, because Ivan's idea of subtlety was using a one megaton weapon instead of a fifteen meg nuke. They won't growl, snarl, threaten, cajole, and finally attack- they will grin, and smile, and the first Jong knows of their Greater East Asia Instability Reduction Program will be a knife in his back, or a bullet in his head. I hear they bill the family of their victims for their bullets, too.
Don't get me wrong, the ChiComs are evil. But if we can use evil against evil, we should. Look, at this stage I'd rather have China invade and conquer North Korea than allow Kim Jong to remain in power. After all, look at the guy's hair. Ever notice how you can tell a man's mental stability by the weirdness of his hair? James Traficant, Gary Condit, Al Sharpton. And don't even get me started on John Kerry. My history teacher, Mr. Tumlinson, was right. Bald guys do- and should!- rule the world.
¶ 11:17 AM
Dallas is the crime capital of the United States. Pretty sad, I think. After all, Texas is supposed to be downright tough on criminals.
¶ 10:38 AM
Well, my Saddam-is-dead theory looks to be more and more unlikely. That's ok. All evidence points to him being in-country, which means that it will be just a matter of time before he shuffles off this mortal coil- and the quicker he shuffles, the better.
Of course, if there is one thing that Hollywood has taught this country (much to our chagrin, Hollywood seems to have taught much more than one thing), it's that the villain isn't dead until you see his body impaled on some wicked-looking spikes, or at least lowered into a vat of boiling metal. Oh, wait, that's what Arnold Schwartzenegger has taught us. Close enough.
That's why I haven't made a big deal about whacking the Brothers Grim and laying them out like slabs of meat. How else will we convince the Iraqis that they won't be murdered by at least these two losers? Of course, to be fair, anti-war activists would say that now they only have to fear being murdered by US troops. Which shows that anti-war activists are stupid. After all, the Iraqis weren't firing into the air in anger, no matter how the Baathist Broadcasting Corporation spins it.
So get him, but make sure we see the body. Impaling him on spikes will not be necessary.
¶ 10:31 AM
I think I've figured out my love-hate relationship with modern art- referring to Abstract Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, not the garbage (often literally) that regularly passes as "art" in some cities. See, sometimes I think a piece of art is great, even if it isn't necessarily representational. And some semi-representational art (Cubism, Surrealism) that is, on the surface, only viscerally appealing, is in reality quite interesting on higher intellectual levels.
A lot of factors go into my appreciation of art, but two stand out- what I call intuition and rationalism. (Understand that this is why I like certain pieces of art; I don't pretend to create a universal standard for judging it.) Rationalism is the elements of design, the adherence to principles like perspective and attention to detail- qualities found in abundance in da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt. This is important, and rationalism alone can be quite appealing to me. I greatly admire a painting that assumes near-photographic quality, even though photographs are, by definition, more real. The paintings of the Victorian era, of battle and heroism, I find quite excellent.
But often, they are lacking something, nonetheless. I call it intuition, because I relate it to the way we solve problems in ordinary life. When we walk into a room, flip the light switch, and the light flashes and goes out, we decide instantly that the light bulb is burned out. We didn't reason it out, not directly, but rather the chain of reasoning that arrived at that conclusion happened nearly instantly. It's what we call intuition- the sudden flash, a sort of shortcut, or more accurately, lightning progression along a chain of reasoning. It's a sort of shorthand, that allows us to cram a great deal of thought into one, almost instantaneous flash of understanding. So-called "women's intuition" isn't magical or even illogical- it is the greater ability of women to reason from small, almost unnoticeable overtones and nuances to a conclusion, probably related to their caregiving role in society (and biology, for that matter).
What's that got to do with art? Naturally, everything. People sometimes think that art is the highest accomplishment of civilization, but that's balderdash. The highest accomplishment of civilization is civilization. Art merely acts as a mirror to what society really believes and values. The more non-representational the art (as a general rule), the more intuition is present. Picasso's Guernica makes key assumptions about the viewer, about his knowledge and understanding, and in turn rewards that with images that are compelling and even somewhat disturbing. The mind sees these things, and intuitively grasps the moment as it happened, often better than a purely representational artwork could do. Every element of the scene is recreated, and analysis of the painting would demonstrate that. But oftentimes, the medium fails. Representational art leaves little to the viewer; as a result, he is more likely to get only the surface, the image of the reality. This isn't always the case: da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David are two pieces that are renowned for their- alleged -emotional appeal. Abstract art goes the opposite way; everything is left to the viewer, and often, the artist is unable to get his point across. Sometimes this is the viewer's fault; sometimes the artist's; sometimes it is neither. The fact is, an artist can fail in even abstract art, something no one wishes to admit today. Frankly, the vast majority of purely abstract art fails to interest me. But every now and then, I see something that does- a piece at the Houston Musem of Fine Arts that was simply a couple of chairs draped in a leaden, metallic covering (like bedsheets sprayed with metal). It was a commentary on Stalin- and the scene reinforced for me the "banality of evil" that was the true darkness of the totalitarian empires. It was powerful, without being overtly provocative- the leap from the simple symbolism of the draped chairs to the deaths of millions in forced starvation may seem a large one, but I made it.
Still don't see what I'm talking about? Well, consider this. Write a detective story where the hero is a true psychic. As soon as he enters a room, he knows exactly whodunnit. It will not be popular- unless you add some twists, that require thought on the part of the reader. But consider Sherlock Holmes. His speedy solving of complicated cases with little difficulty seemed magic to Watson- and, though Watson lost interest upon explanation, most readers are more impressed with these explanations than any brand of mysticism. We admire our police officers for their tenacity and by-the-book successes (that is, rationalism), but call one a genius when that one makes an intuitive leap, shortens the logical chain by skipping a few links.
Art that relies solely on producing an emotion- anger and disgust seem to be the avant-garde right now- can on occasion be interesting; more often, it is just boring after a while. Something that reminds you of a powerful truth (like the works of Holocaust victims, depicting their suffering) will endure forever.
The bottom line is that intuition in paintings provides more information than rationalism; rationalism, however, has the advantages of a wider appeal and, often, more clarity. The absolute best artwork (in my opinion) is that which relies on rationalistic techniques to paint the broadest part of the picture, and relies on more abstract themes to connote the deeper truths, the truths that are so true they are taken for granted. The bizarre and twisted images of Guernica, the out-of-place melting clocks, the "fuzziness" of Impressionists, the strange smile of the Mona Lisa- these are windows to the reality we never really think about. And that's what makes them good.
Yahoo is running an Associated Press story about the Brothers Grim- I think it is amazing how they can say things like this:
The photos, however, seemed to have had little effect on Iraqi opinions.
Yeah, and the celebratory gunfire heard in Iraq the night they were shot was the result of a bunch of people cheering the American scam. "Yippee! The Yankee dogs have faked the death of Uday and Qusay!"
The AP should be ashamed. But they won't be.
¶ 9:31 AM
The Weekly Standard has an excellent column that examines Maureen Dowd's claims, counter-claims, counter-counter claims, and so on.
Carnage and Culture is an inquiry into the effect of culture on military tactics and strategy. Basically, VDH postulates that Western culture (especially democracy) gave rise to the Greek- and later Roman- emphasis on face-to-face battle. The Greek hoplites would move in and crush the enemy, while the Persians hung back and skirmished. The theory and the reasoning seem to be sound, but I think that this is more of an extension of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel (though not necessarily intended as such- VDH makes many new points, and may well see a divergence in his and Diamond's worldviews). Specifically, I think that the Greek development of democracy may well have its roots in the factors that Diamond identified as shaping economic and techonological history. Of course, it's been a while since I read the book, so I should probably read it again to make sure of these conclusions.
My biggest beef with The Soul of Battle was when I discovered that one of the "tyrannies" VDH had identified was the Southern Confederacy. Fine, they had slavery. For some, then, it was certainly a tyranny. But the Greeks that Epaminondas fought for had slaves in abundance. If you are going to call the South a tyranny, then you must also call the Greek states tyrannies as well. Unless, of course, you believe in a sort of moral relativism, that says that slavery becomes tyranny when enough people don't like it.
By the way, one of the reviews of The Soul of Battle makes the idiotic statement that the Southerners hated Sherman ("hate him to this day", no less) because he ended the "iniquitous" system of slavery. Forgive me, but I feel it is more likely that they hate him because his men were given full reign to rape, pillage and burn. The South had lost before; Sherman's Great March was the expression of the hatred (yes, hatred) the North had for the South that had defied them. Like most civil wars, the American conflict is more complex than, say, the recent war against Iraq. Both sides proclaimed that they wanted liberty and freedom; Lincoln curtailed rights for everyone (the draft, suspension of habeas corpus) to some degree, while the South curtailed rights for some (slavery) to a total degree. On balance, I would prefer the Northern system, if I felt that slavery would be permanent in the South. But since the South did not fight to preserve slavery (the proof lies in not only the testimony of Southerners who fought, but in simple statistics- the vast, vast majority of Southerners dying for their land owned no slaves), the peculiar institution would likely have died out eventually anyway, with less bloodshed, rancor, and, most likely, with less civil violence- the KKK, after all, was started not to kill blacks, but to fight a guerrilla war against the North.
Anyhow, that's all in the past, now. Live in the past, and you will fail to understand the present. But VDH's (and others') high-handed dismissal of the South as a "tyranny" and hailing of Sherman as a "hero" speaks of a certain arrogance, a refusal to recognize the claims of millions of Southerners, past and present. That's not to say that just because, say, the Nazis had the support of Germany that calling Hitler a tyrant is wrong; the difference lies in the fact that the Southerners have some legitimate claims. Indeed, the beginning of federal centralization has its roots in the defeat of the South in the Civil War; much of what conservatives claim to despise began here.
Of course, I am an Imperialist; I have a rather different take on some of these neutral reallocations of power.
¶ 8:47 AM
I thought about the policy of excluding certain nations from the Security Council, and realized that this may well be a key method of further weakening the UN. The more countries that are members of the SC, the more likely there will be at least one that vetoes almost anything the UN decides. Thus, instead of the brief patina of consequentiality the UN gains everytime it authorizes another quixotic enterprise, nothing ever happens. While not much different from the status quo, at least this is more truthful (instead of making a resolution, then doing nothing, no resolution is made to begin with).
Anyway, VDH makes many, many excellent points, several of which haven't been made anywhere else that I've seen. Read it.
¶ 8:24 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Another Yahoo story about Saddam tapes. Will no one say the obvious? Every statement he makes implies that they were made well before the end of the war. All he issues is vague generalities that prove nothing. If he was really alive, he would almost certainly mention recent events. Say, a screed directed at the killers of his sons. Of course, that could theoretically been recorded beforehand, too. But at least it would be more evidence than we've been given thus far.
¶ 2:30 PM
Ever think about how science/superstition comes full circle? I mean, we used to (a "we" referring to all of humanity) just listen to whatever the shaman/priest/witch doctor says, without question. They came up with a lot of wacky ideas. But now, we have scientists who believe in "multi-verses" and "quantum realities". They explain how time slows down as we increase our speed. They talk about black holes dragging space. Sometimes, they can explain this to us (read Nigel Calder's Einstein's Universe), but often all they can say is "There's a lot of math that proves this...but it's complicated."
I'm not suggesting that they are lying, or that they are charlatans, or anything like that. After all, they seem to be a lot more successful at creating gadgets that improve our lives then any voodoo Marie la Veaux could be. I'm just saying that we have a remarkably similar attitude. Oh well, if They say so, who are we to argue with Them?
Recall election in CA is on. The folks over at NR's The Corner aren't too happy about the whole thing, and I can see their point. On the plus side (for Californians), any governor seems to be likely to be better than the current one.
¶ 2:09 PM
Photos of Uday and Qusay have been released. WARNING- this is fairly graphic.
Interesting that they grew those long beards. Makes them look like backwoods hillbillies, not Ruthless Guerrillas. Going for the Che Guevara/Fidel Castro look?
¶ 10:41 AM
Let's talk about madness. Specifically, what is causing the current insanity in our modern elite? I won't bore you with the usual rundown of crazy quotes from anti-war, anti-Israel, and/or anti-Bush loonies (plus, I'm kinda busy right now). Why is the left acting as if the world is coming to an end?
Well, I think it has to do with the same disease many Clinton-haters had. Back when I was young and stupid ("When did you stop?" yells a wag in the audience. He shall be punished) I sincerely believed that Clinton was a sort of scaled-down Hitler. Not quite as evil, but possessed of the same power-hungry motivations. Of course, I've revised my opinions of both Clinton and Hitler (I used to think Adolf was just an astute, evil politico who used the Jews for political gain; now I think that he really believed the Jews were malicious- which, showing the willful avoidance of the truth, is even worse). Clinton was immoral; he lied in office; he should have been given the bum's rush out of the White House ("And stay out!" yells the Secret Service bouncer). But he wasn't evil incarnate. Part of the reason I have more perspective on the matter is that his term of office is over. I can assess the damage, and breathe easier (Are we the People's Republic of America? No. Is the military totally emasculated? No. Is there an official White House Escort Service? No.). Of course, simple maturation- and better understanding of true evil, after Sept. 11- played a role as well.
But for the Barbra Streisands and Tim Robbins of the world, evil is now upon us, and, yea, even now draweth near. Bush is in power. The Armies of Night have swept America, destroying All That We Hold Dear. Why do they see Bush as Satan-lite (or even just the Dark One Himself)?
First, they don't have the advantage of perspective, just as I didn't in the 90's. The Now is far more important to the human psyche than the Before, or the Later. We tend to think that every day is the apex, or nadir, or turning point of our lives, in some way. Bush is in power Now. Surely, he will kill us all. To someone who sees Bush as evil, the evil seems to be upon them. It works the other way, too. If Gore had won, all would be Sweetness and Light. Birds would sing again, and flowers would rain from heaven. A hand would reach from heaven, and crown the Al with a golden crown, as a voice intoned, "THIS IS MY CANDIDATE, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED, IN A NON-SECTARIAN WAY." Don't belive me? Just remember the way they saw Clinton as the Savior, after the horrible reign of the Rea-gan (pronounce it Ray-Gun), who, as you remember, herded liberals into special camps and had them ground into paste for amusement.
This brings us to the next point- the "stolen" election. This is a myth that I am confident will assume (and already has assumed) JFK-assassination status in the liberal weltanschauung. Bush is seen as the chosen of the evil forces behind Everything- corporations, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Zionist Imperialist conspiracy, and the entire cast of Friends. Bush was selected, not elected, they sneer. What does this prove? Well, if They were willing to come out of the shadows to rig the election, They must have had a particularly evil plan for the Bush.
The war proves it, to them. A war of aggression! they scream. We are attacking someone without having had our civilians slaughtered by them first! Where is our moral justification? The horror, the horror. Obviously, the big plan of the Zionists was to begin conquering the world through Bush. The death camps are nigh.
I had an excuse for my short-sightedness. I was still in my impressionable years, with little or no knowledge of prior presidents. Bill Clinton was essentially the only president I remembered (all conservatives may cluck and shake their head sadly now). I will undertake to reassure the Streisands and Howard Chi Minh Deans of this world: Bush will not destroy liberalism (more's the pity). This isn't a vast conspiracy. Bush is not The Evil One. He is a person, much like you, who happens to be doing the best job he knows how. We may disagree with him; I know I do, especially on economic policy. Stop fear-mongering; I've been there, and it's not only cheap and lazy, but immoral as well. If you think that his economic policy is wrong, say so. Say that he is an idiot, by all means. But until you can look into his soul, don't call him evil.
Remember that peace, love, and understanding you always prate about? The difference between me and you is that I believe that we should apply it in our day-to-day, personal lives; you think that you should apply it to international issues (as long as the recipients of this compassion agree with you). Stand down. Let's try and return civility to the political arena, hmm?
¶ 10:32 AM
Today in history (again, thanks to JWR as source):
President Hoover announces the outlawing of war with the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1929).
Asked how the K-B Pact would be enforce, Mr. Hoover responded with a blank stare.
"Enforced? We have the word of the signatories. Germany, Japan, and Italy in particular are very supportive of this measure, and have said that they promise never, ever to go to war, cross their heart and hope to die."
In other news, Hoover announced that poverty, homelessness, and bad hair days would be outlawed as well. In addition, he issued an executive order calling on all people to "be excellent to one another."
In 1866, Tennessee became the first state to re-enter the Union after the Civil Disagreement ("Excuse me, Mr. Lincoln, but I don't particularly care for your politics. I fear I shall have to resign." "Unfortunately, Mr. Davis, that will be impossible. I have called up militia in order to impress upon you the extent of your obligations.")
Of course, President Lincoln's argument at the beginning of the war was that the Southern States had no right to secede, and thus had not...they were really in the Union the whole time, see. Except after the war. Then, they could a) remain conquered territories, or b) ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and regain their rights as states, which they never really lost, but now didn't have, because...ah, forget it.
¶ 9:42 AM
Bill Clinton has made some remarks that indicate (in fairly general terms) support for Bush. I say this is a very good thing, not because I trust Billy the C., or believe that his support is necessary, but due to the following:
1) Bill Clinton is incredibly shrewd. He can hold a finger in the political winds and know almost exactly what to say. The fact that he is supporting Bush and Co. shows that he feels, at least, that not supporting them would be counter to the prevailing political climate.
2) This in turn substantiates the general consensus among the conservative movement that the Democratic candidates have essentially lost all political bearing. Right now, their position on the war tends to range from "Bush is the next Hitler!" to "Bush is the next Pol Pot!" Moderate positions like Lieberman's are drowned out in the screwball protestations of Dean, Kucinich, and Kerry.
There is a downside, however; if/when the Democratic position on the war is decisively refuted (and I suspect it will be in 2004), Clinton's star will rise, while the Communist wing of the Democrats will look stupid. The benefit of this is that the moderates in the DNC will be more likely to aid in the national interest, rather than try to destroy it for their own personal reasons; the negative effect is the increased electability of Democratic candidates.
Projected result: Hillary Rodham Clinton may well have an excellent chance in 2008. While I prefer her to Howard "Uncle Ho" Dean, I rate her slightly below the smallpox virus on the list of organisms that I'd like to see as president.
¶ 9:15 AM
George Will's column. While he's right about Bush not setting a very good conservative record, I think he is mistaken in the long-term effects. Fiscally, I think conservatism has completely lost; I sincerely doubt we'll see a president cut spending and taxes, at least until it actually becomes absolutely necessary. And while there is certainly room to disagree on the foreign policy front within the conservative movement, the "crusading zeal" that Mr. Will notes is certainly not necessarily liberal in its nature. I propose a new form of conservatism, that borrows heavily from the so-called "neo-conservative" model- Imperialism.
As Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, the neo-conservative label means virtually nothing, so what I'm really saying is, let's create a new conservative movement within the conservative movement as we know it. This way, we can finally discharge the burden of racist or nativist folks like Buchanan, and focus on the newer, more realistic conservatism based on recognition of basic facts.
Facts like the new impossibility of isolationism. America depends not only on trade (which explains why trade protectionism is economic suicide), but also on a the continual increase in immigrant populations. Marxists say we "exploit" migrant labor; instead, we gain, and they gain. No one sticks a gun in Mexicans' faces, forces them into a truck, and makes them work in a hot field for no wages. They come willingly, work for what we are willing to pay, and either spend it here, or spend it in Mexico. Either way, it's a good thing. A dollar spent in Mexico doesn't disappear from the world market. It may well be used to buy American goods; sooner or later, as it makes its way through the economy, it probably will be sooner or later.
Just as critical is the impossibility of political isolationism. Al-Qaida would have attacked us no matter what we had done. We have thousands of miles of coastline; we cannot possibly close our borders to determined terrorists. Even if we did, even if we turned the US into a fortress, we would lose in the long run. We are in a sort of conflict with every nation in the world. If we don't assert our world position, we will surely lose it, and eventually, may fall to conquerors such as the Nazis, the Soviet Union- or perhaps, the Chinese Empire. The best defense is a good offense. Really, the only defense is a good offense
Facts like the essential efficiency of the free market. Instead of playing defense on this field, we need to take the ball into the other team's court (sorry, mixed sports metaphors). Challenge every Democratic and Republican position that supports continued socialization- work to repeal what we can, work to limit the damage of what we cannot. At the same time, we need to be realistic; we cannot win right now. There simply aren't enough people who believe in the free market to overcome economic liberalism. Given time and proper education, perhaps we can change the culture. But until then, we should mainly try to limit the economic damage to short-term, highly visible failures (Social Security actually falls under this category; the essential Ponzi-scheme nature of this plan should be trumpeted as the economic idiocy it is).
Imperialism isn't a new philosophy. It dates back to every nation that started out properly, with a realistic understanding of the world. Nor are these all the tenets of such a philosophy- these are just some. The focus of Imperialism is not necessarily nationalistic, either; a properly organized world government is conceivable, even laudable. How this government can be organized is another question.
¶ 8:44 AM
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
According to The Corner over at NRO (K-Lo's post, 5:35 PM), James Davis was armed. When asked about that, Mick Bloomberg said he didn't understand why people carried guns, because guns killed people.
That qualifies for intellectual political palaver in the Big Apple, you see.
¶ 4:53 PM
Oh, wait. Fox is reporting the gunman is dead.
¶ 4:00 PM
Weird. And spooky. What else is left over from that war?
¶ 3:58 PM
A NYC Councilman- James Davis- was gunned down in City Hall. THE GUNMAN GOT AWAY. How in the blazes did that happen?
The story just goes to show that the gun control issue isn't getting the attention it deserves- what if even a small proportion of the city hall workers had been armed? If they had, they might have been able to stop the shooter instead of doing the only sensible thing (as unarmed civilians) and hide under their desks.
Strict gun laws don't stop assassinations.
¶ 3:56 PM
Remember that scene from The Matrix, when Neo and Morpheus are going through training? They are walking along a typical city street; the WALK light comes on, and they push their way through hordes of black-and-white suits, all showing the homogeneity and surreality (I don't think that's a real work, but it should be) of everyday, mundane life.
The mundane has gotten a bad rap over the years. The left-libertarians (Chris Carter, nihilists, most anarchists, anti-globalization protesters, etc.) use it for a symbol of the mindlessness of modern culture, the trap that we're all stuck in. The younger generation (demographically, that includes me; culturally, it doesn't) latches on to this, as they invariably expect life to imitate the movies and TV. It's just too damn boring for them.
But there is a lot to be said for the mundane. Boring, everyday stuff (like paperwork, feeding the dog, talking to friends) tells us and others more about one another than the exciting things (like being mugged, getting into a shoot-out, or even going on an adventurous vacation). One way to see this is to consider the relevance of the everyday in character-driven shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation or X-Files. (Okay, not totally mainstream, but if you read this far, you probably aren't too mainstream either). We like to see the characters we know and love in normal, realistic situations (realism being somewhat relative- Data realigning a plasma flux capacitor is normal, as is Mulder investigating murders by a creature made entirely of cheese). This lets us know that these characters are real people, and we can better relate to them in this way.
For instance, we can't tell anything about a person's character when they are in a situation that we've never experienced even remotely, because we have no basis of comparison. Would I react that way in a shoot-out? I don't know; it's never happened to me. But in a situation that is analogous to a real-world situation- even if science fiction or fantasy elements apply- we have that basis of comparison. We empathize with Riker, as he tries to convince Picard to deal harshly with the latest Alien Menace. We feel Scully's frustration as she deals with Mulder's bland insistence on the truth. I frankly don't enjoy many of the "story-line" episodes of the X-Files; they seem just a bit too far-fetched (and I had lost track of the story about season 4 or so).
Seeing how people react in extreme situations is important, and helps us to re-evaluate our potential actions in similar situations. But to really know a person, we have to see them in their performance of the everyday functions of their life. Don't knock the mundane; that's real. Shoot-outs, brilliant James Bond escapes, and supervillains exist, but they aren't the challenges most of us will face.
Not that I don't enjoy seeing Arnold Schwartzenegger wipe out entire civilizations with a 9 mm pistol.
¶ 2:10 PM
See why I'm interested in law enforcement? The criminals make it so easy.
¶ 11:46 AM
You know, more and more I think that we whacked Saddam before. After all, the fact that Uday and Qusay were together calls for the question- Why wasn't Saddam there? Of course, there are numerous reasons he wouldn't be- he sent his sons into the more dangerous regions, he didn't make the meeting, they had a falling-out with him- but coupled with the bland and vague generalities of the recently released tapes, seems to indicate that Saddam may be free gases in the stratosphere by now. If he is dead, how do we prove it? Just hope that, when his bitter enders run out of tapes, people accept the conclusion?
I can see it now- Saddam Hussein joins the august ranks of Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis Presley, as a Famous Disappearer. Will we have Saddam impersonators in Vegas?
¶ 11:44 AM
It's raining. Actually, it's not raining, it's just so dark I keep thinking that I woke up really early- or really late. 11:30 and it looks like 9:00 (remember, this is Texas in summer). I'm debating lunch- do I venture into the world under the threatening sky, with the clouds hanging so low Hakeem Olajuwon could slam dunk into them, or do I order a callow teenager from Burger Boy to venture out in my stead? Or skip lunch entirely? No, that's not an option.
I'm leaning more toward the risk-the-Burger-Boy-boy option. We'll see.
¶ 11:33 AM
The cabinet doors in my apartment were replaced yesterday, with little Star Trek doors that whoosh open when I wave my hand in front of them- just kidding. No, these are just plain, perfectly ordinary matte-white cabinet doors. Very clean, very, very white.
My cabinets are brown.
I don't know why they did this. Nor do I especially care; after all, it gives me a conversation piece. It presents an interesting effect to a viewer, sort of like a Salvador Dali painting. All I need now is melting clocks and misplaced fish.
Oh, well. I'll be leaving at the end of this year.
¶ 10:11 AM
Read this article in the Houston Chronicle. Now, tell me that they aren't living on another planet.
MOSUL, Iraq -- The morning after Saddam Hussein's sons died in a four-hour gun battle with American forces, hopes their deaths would calm an insurgency were dimmed when a U.S. soldier was killed in an attack on his convoy outside the same town.
Oh, yeah. After all, remember how Bush said that as soon as we killed these two jokers, all resistance would cease, as if it had ne'er been. Wake up! It takes more than a couple of hours for news to sink in, even with CNN and the Baathist Broadcasting Corporation.
The soldier's death was one of two reported today by the U.S. military. Six soldiers were also injured in the attack in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad. In a separate incident Tuesday night, a convoy was attacked in Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital, killing one soldier and wounding two more.
The two deaths brought to 155 the number of American soldiers killed since the war began March 20, surpassing by eight the death toll in the 1991 Gulf War.
That's a whole eight more losses than the number killed in the smallest war the US has ever fought. 50,000 died in Vietnam; let's wait before crying "quagmire!".
Also Wednesday, a new tape aired by an Arab satellite broadcaster and purportedly made by Saddam on July 20, called on fighters loyal to him to continue their uprising against the U.S.-led occupation force.
"Yes, this war has not ended. ... The will of the people will not be subdued by the enemy," said the voice purporting to be Saddam.
There was no way to immediately and independently verify it was the former dictator, although it sounded like him.
Commenting on the tape, Saad al-Bazaz editor of al-Zaman newspaper, who was once close to Saddam, said to Al-Arabiya that the voice was Saddam's.
"Undoubtedly the tape carries Saddam's voice, this is no longer a controversial issue and should not be raised again," he said.
Sounds like a Nazi- "obviously Jews are inferior; this is no longer a controversial issue and should not be raised again." Can't you just hear the "or else"? Besides, I note that tapes have been all that we've heard. Where's the Osama-esque videos, with him holding a newspaper or at least saying something besides vague generalities?
The Latest Saddam Tape: "Destroy the infidel hordes of Americans, and possibly UN troops! They will never take that city that they haven't taken yet, and if they do or have they won't hold it...uh...death is coming! Yeah! In a non-specific time frame! So there! And Americans will continue to die in the thousands, as they have already...possibly in a metaphorical sense. Peace."
Across the street from the vast villa where Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed in a joint operation by the 101st Airborne Division and U.S. Special Forces, Seed Badr, 50, a gray-bearded taxi driver wearing a blue Arab robe, cursed the Americans.
"This is terrorism. They are killers."
Asked what he thought of the operation to kill Odai and Qusai, Badr responded: "I think the house was empty."
Okay, this reminds me of Dracula, Dead and Loving It. Faced with Dracula's less-than-brilliant accomplice, one of the Good Guys remarks, "We are lucky!"
Other Good Guy: "Why?"
Good Guy: "He is an imbecile!"
They are terrorists, but he thinks the house was empty. We must be pretty poor "terrorists and killers". Funny, that the Associated Press can find, while hundreds celebrate in the streets in Baghdad, one of the guys who still toes the party line. And you'll notice that no one dragged him off and fed him to a wood chipper, as would have happened under Saddam's regime. Boy, how can we dare to compare ourselves with Saddam's regime favorably?
Read the whole article, if you can stomach it, and then try to prate to me about how there is no "liberal bias" in the media.
¶ 9:16 AM
Incredibly important points being made at TechCentralStation on global warming. To think people want to enact the economically ruinous Kyoto Treaty to stop this.
¶ 8:46 AM
Captured! No. 11: Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti, Special Republican Guard commander, Saddam's cousin.
¶ 8:34 AM
Want to thank Tony Blair for his support? Go here.
¶ 8:26 AM
Note the top four stories on Yahoo (as of right now):
• General: Saddam's sons killed in firefight
• Liberian rebels announce cease-fire
• Fire on top floor of Eiffel Tower extinguished
• Jessica Lynch returns home to W. Virginia
Fires going out all over the place.
¶ 5:08 PM
I might note as well that, at present, we have lost but a few more soldiers than we did in the first Gulf War. Frankly, I think that this war is really all but won. No doubt some Iraqis hate us, but a broad-based popular movement? Unlikely.
I think we can pretty much finish the job in five years- if the Bush administration will actually begin placing power with the Iraqis. No micro-managers need apply.
¶ 5:07 PM
Okay, four Iraqis died in the Mosul firefight, including the Gruesome Twosome, and no Americans were killed. That's really weird, if you think about it. I mean, if we assume that Qusay and Uday were helping to lead the Great Resistance that the press has been telling us about, it seems odd that they wouldn't have had a much better defensive force.
So what does this tell us? The resistance is probably extremely weak. The two murderers who got their deserts today probably were unable to bring more than a few loyalists together even for their own defense. That in turn implies that resistance is much less organized then previously thought. Good news.
¶ 5:05 PM
I mentioned before that populations will never zoom way out of manageable proportions. Here's why.
You are now Apu, dirt-farmer and proud father of eighteen children. Now, the reason you had eighteen children is because you believed that this would increase the productivity of the dirt you are farming. If you believe that a nineteenth child will increase crop yields further, you will have said child (regardless of your personal beliefs on abortion and infanticide, it is commonly practiced by even poor families that feel they can't afford another child. I believe it's wrong, but remember we're talking about a Third-World nation, where it is unfortunately quite common). If not, you won't. Applied over the total economy, what do you get? Growth that matches the growth in agriculture. Note that famines nowadays almost always result from a) very extreme weather conditions (often temporary) or b) socialism; planning by the government instead of individuals, or banditry- which is much the same thing (Great Leap Forward, the famed Ethiopian famine).
But wait! cries the pointy-headed "socialist economist" (which is like saying the "astrologer-scientist"), the actions of an individual only rarely lead to an efficient outcome for the society. Wracking his mind for an example, he says, But when the price of food goes up, the farmer will have more incentive to have children, as his products will be worth more. Ah, I reply, but that nineteenth child has the unpleasant and presumably universal habit of eating. Every bushel of food Apu Jr. eats is one bushel less to sell.
But what about when the society moves from a farming to a technological society? People will be producing industrial products, not food. Then, the price of food will increase, assuming that there really is less of it being produced. Same situation applies, in other words. Furthermore, the net result of economic progress seems to be less population growth. Of course, if there are price controls on food, this won't apply; the result will certainly be mass starvation.
Simple economics, though too complex to those that cry "Population time-bomb!".
¶ 3:03 PM
It's looking more and more like Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber (Qusay and Uday) have joined the ranks of the living impaired. Reports of celebratory gunfire in Baghdad show, in addition to the fact that the concept of fireworks has not yet caught on in Iraq, that the people are probably not all sitting in dark, weapon-filled rooms, sharpening bayonets and muttering about the Great Satan's occupation of the Motherland. Speaking of "celebratory gunfire", it always bugged me when newsreels showed Saddam firing his weapon into the sky, because it seemed to indicate a complete lack of understanding of the basic laws of gravity. Bullets go up, yes. Then they come down. Hard. So every time you see a Third-World dictator firing an AK-47 into the air, remember that some poor sap cheering in the crowd is about to get knocked unconscious by a falling 7.62 mm round.
Of course, Third-Worlders in general are not noted for their skill and expertise with firearms. They often seem to view them as either magical thunder-sticks, or as gangbangers here in the US do; I fully expect to see newscasts of turbaned lunatics busting caps with a .45 turned on its side soon. After all, it looks cool, and if there is one thing I've learned from The Matrix, coolness is an adequate substitution for lethality.
¶ 2:27 PM
Here's a little table I saw on Vodkapundit, who got it from Jim Dunnigan & Al Nofi's Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War:
Greek Civil War 1944-49 Government
Spanish Insurgency 1944-52 Government
Chinese Civil War 1945-49 Insurgents
Indochina War 1945-54 Insurgents
Iranian Communists 1945-46 Government
Philippine Huk War 1946-54 Government
Madagascar Revolt 1947-49 Government
Korean Partisan War 1948-53 Government
Malayan Emergency 1948-60 Government
Kenyan Mau-Maus 1952-55 Government
Cuban Revolution 1956-58 Insurgents
Sarawak/Sabah 1960-66 Government
These are guerilla wars, all; note who usually wins. We tend to remember the victories of the rebels, but the situation in Iraq may well be more along the lines of one of these wars. Anyhow, worth noting. Read the whole article at Vodkapundit.
¶ 10:50 AM
This violates my "wait for further news" rule, but MSNBC is reporting that Uday and Qusay Hussein may have been captured.
¶ 10:31 AM
Recent articles have appeared regarding the shuttle; some are calling for the end to manned space exploration, others for a moratorium, and a very few for expanded space exploration. (Here's an article about the recent Columbia disaster, by the way.)
Look, I realize that there is a war on, but we have to understand that space exploration is the future of man. And there are real, extremely important, even critical benefits that can accrue from space technology. Spinoffs are fine- we've all heard the stories of how this polymer or that computer system came from the space program. But the real benefits of space travel will be, ultimately, in two forms: high ground and resources.
High ground is the catch-all term for space-based reconnaissance and weapons. Missile defense, satellite recon, and even high-energy kinetic weapons (that is, dropping things from really high up) all are dependent upon the "ultimate high ground" of space. Frankly, if a nation successfully puts this sort of technology in space, they can conquer the world. I noted before that the high-energy kinetic weapons essentially nullifies all ground forces; given better precision, they could be used for taking out just about anything. (In fact, an X-Files episode postulates Defense Department satellites that can strike anywhere with a high-energy beam). Nothing could stand against enough of these weapons. Missile defense would operate on a similar principle. Even without lasers, a kinetic weapon could well destroy a silo lauching a missile, or the missile itself, before the weapon had reached a high speed. Destroying an ICBM when it's on the "downward" part of it's ballistic path is nearly impossible. In the boost phase, it should be fairly easy.
Space is, as Douglas Adams put it, really, really, big. And it's full of useful resources. Helium 3 from the moon may be worth as much as $4 billion a ton; that's one of many resources in our solar system. Besides physical resources, there are others- microgravity may be useful in the production of myriads of consumer and industrial products. Living space may be opened up, though this will be less useful than many population theorists suggest (like any other population, humans will increase only to their carrying capacity; more on this later). Already, scientists have suggested methods of terraforming Mars. And maybe, with more research, help from new technologies that may be soon emerging such as quantum computers and new energy sources, the light barrier will be the next hurdle mankind leaps.
But looking just at the here and now, a manned mission to Mars is possible. NASA has been working on plans for years, and, if the Bush administration was careful, could be done far more cheaply than enacting ruinous tariffs and pork-barrel subsidies. A mission to Mars would reaffirm American pride, show US leadership in new exploration, and at the same time demonstrate the shared goals of humanity in a way that nothing else on Earth can do.
¶ 9:39 AM
Despite my fondness for Russian literature, I'm not finding Anton Chekhov's stories that wonderful. One good (or possibly bad) difference between him and the three other Russian authors I've read (Dostoevsky, Pasternak, and Tolstoy) is that he doesn't seem to be nearly as pessimistic. Of course, this is one of the defining characteristics of Russian literature. Still, I haven't really read much yet, and so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
One great thing about Russian lit is that it is about ideas. Of the admittedly narrow range of reading I have done, Pasternak has the best characterization, in Zhivago. But even then, his characters are shaped by the ideas of the time; I find this interesting. The American psyche tends towards people shaping the great ideas of a time- that's why we focus on reformers and heroes. The Russian sees people often as caught up in ideas, driven almost helplessly by them. Dr. Zhivago, Raskolnikov, any and all of the characters in War and Peace- free will doesn't exist, in any real form. This can be pessimistic- the concept of original sin seems to be ingrained in the Russian character- but also optimistic; Raskolnikov is just as helpless to prevent his remorse as he was to prevent his sin; Pierre could no more stop loving Natasha as he could avoid marrying his first vain, arrogant wife.
As a good Calvinist, this appeals to me more than most, I guess. I would like to see what a synthesis of "Russian gloom and American optimism" as Larry Niven puts it could do. I suspect that Americans would be stronger for seeing that there are still bad guys in the world, and Russians would be better off seeing that there are still good guys as well.
¶ 8:49 AM
Bingo. We need to be on the moon; if for no other reason than that we should take this strategic point before the Chinese do.
¶ 8:30 AM
Today in history (thanks to the Jewish World Review as the source)- John Dillenger was shot by federal agents; FDR's court-packing plan was derailed; and the House of Representatives went along with the Senate in restoring Bobby Lee's US citizenship.
¶ 8:19 AM
Monday, July 21, 2003
I'm reading Moby Dick right now, and I have to say- this is a remarkably good book. The Transcendentalist nature-worshipping happy-hippy-harmony-in-the-woods stuff is there, of course, but there's something fascinating about sailing ships. Going to sea in rickety boats, dependent upon the vagaries of wind and weather, hunting creatures that could smash the tiny cockleshell longboats with a single flip of their tails- you can't beat that. I view the open ocean in roughly the same way that my cat views the Outside World ("Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom) but reading stories like this, or Captains Courageous, etc., makes me want to go to sea, view the beauty of the world's largest creatures- and HARPOON THEM! BWA-HA-HA-HA!
Okay, I'm kidding, so all you enviro-nuts out there can stand down and cast your beady little eyes about for other murderous humans. Besides, the ocean still has one, insurmountable problem for me- it's big. And wet. I'll stay on dry land, thanks.
¶ 4:48 PM
By the way, the journalism department here at Texas A & M may well have gotten the ax (or is it axe?). Probably a good thing; if journalism was anything like the political science department, it was three degrees left of Noam Chomsky.
¶ 4:33 PM
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the NAACP that was attempting to slap massive and wideranging restrictions on gun sales. While the outcome of the suit is to be applauded (yet another attempt at an end-run around the democratic process thwarted), the reasoning federal judge Jack Weinstein used is partially faulty. He, after all, finds that gun manufacturers aren't engaging in "common-sense" measures such as disallowing retailers from selling multiple guns to the same customer.
Huh? As if that would solve anything; again, it just makes it annoying. After all, how many criminals will walk into a store and try to buy several guns, then decide to stay on the straight and narrow because they can't? I can just see a big, tatooed hooligan walking out of a gun store- Damn, can't buy the 9 mm and the .357? Guess I'll apply at Starbuck's. The NAACP found an expert witness who testified that 11%- 11% - of handguns- handguns - bought in 1996 were used in rapes, robberies, assaults and murders by 2000. That's a four-year period, in the which only 1 of every 10 of these weapons were used illegally. I'm not a math whiz, but that seems to indicate that 9 of 10 were used legally. And as handguns, as gun control advocates love to point out, are only useful against other people, that suggests that 89% of those purchased were used for the legal and laudable purpose of defending someone. Makes that statistic sound more appealing, don't it?
¶ 3:09 PM
The British scientist who allegedly accused the government of exaggerating its Iraq WMD claims was killed Friday. I refrained from posting, as I wanted to know more; apparently, he slit his left wrist. Yeah, right.
This is fishier than a Catholic gourmand's breath on Friday. But he was defending the British government, not the BBC. The BBC's report was so different from what he claimed to have told the reporter that he didn't even realize he was the main source. Now, I'm not saying that the BBC had someone killed. Most likely, he did kill himself (especially considering his odd behavior the night of his death). But it certainly looks suspicious. Saddam has had people killed before in other countries. Might he have decided to weaken the British government's claims by murdering a key supporter (key because he exposed the BBC's exaggeration)? A long shot, but worth looking into.
¶ 9:13 AM
Speaking of efficiency, I thought of another effect of the Internet. Asymetrical information (one side of the buyer-seller relationship knowing more than the other) is one of the chief causes of inefficiency (after government regulation). For instance, suppose you buy a car for $10,000, even though you know it is in pretty bad condition. That's ok, because despite the fact that the tailpipe is dragging, the paint is scratched, and a hobo has made a home in the backseat, you knew this before you bought it. So you knew exactly what you were getting, and felt that the car was still worth $10,000.
But suppose the car dealer knows that, in addition to these problems, it has been wired with a bomb that will go off when the radio plays any Garth Brooks song. This will likely lower your estimation of the value of the car, if you knew. Because you don't, an economic inefficiency results- you are paying more than you would if you knew everything about the car (I said earlier that government intervention always results in inefficiency- that's not quite true).
With the Internet, however, the knowledge that this used car dealer tends to sell booby-trapped cars would be at your fingertips. A partial or even whole discrepancy in information can thus be patched up, with little in the way of transaction cost. Overall, the increase in efficiency would be quite significant.
Of course, there is also the lowering of transaction costs related to systems such as e-Bay, which allows sellers and buyers to interact on a large-scale, ensuring the highest prices for goods, but a wider variety of goods at the same time. (One person was offering to sell his soul, at one point; bidding was up to something like $25 last I heard, which has to be depressing).
Naturally, all these phenomena have been noted before. But it's worth noting again.
¶ 9:03 AM
The Houston Chronicle ran this editorial recently, defending Title IX. First, I would point out that the view of most conservatives is that Bush caved, again, on an issue that he views as less important. But note some assumptions of the author of this article.
"Millions of dollars in scholarships and uncounted chances for women and girls to learn sportsmanship and teamwork seemed in jeopardy," Ms. Means (the author) states. In other words, these programs will not exist without the governmental funding. Okay, let's think about that. See, sports programs at various schools are not arbitrarily decided by the administration.
Administration Flack: "Let's cancel our football team and replace it with Mongolian Head-Butting Competions.
Other AF's: "Sounds good."
No, they are created in order to fufill the collective desires of the school population. A good football program, for instance, means more publicity, more interest, and consequently better enrollment. So if women's sports are so important, then the schools don't need a law guaranteeing funding.
Of course, in reality (here I move beyond the realm of liberal thought), most women's sports are more or less ignored (at least compared to football). Is this a bad thing? Not really. After all, the same liberals who decry the issuance of scholarships to men who can run really fast and throw a small leather balloon with remarkable speed and accuracy, seem to think that scholarships for women in other sports is just fine, even if no one goes to see them.
Given a free market, the rules of efficiency will almost always apply. If people stop wanting to see men playing sports, or want to see women's sports in the same amounts, then Title IX will be unneccessary. If this situation is not the case (as it isn't right now), then not only is the law inefficient, it is ipso facto removing funding from either men's programs or other, more scholastic pursuits.
Given (for example) a $10 million budget, say a school spends $4 million on sports, $3 million on men's and $1 million on women's. Enter Title IX. Now, they must spend equal amounts on men's and women's sports. That money can either come from the men's side of the sports ledger (i.e. take $1 million away and give it to women's sports) or from the rest of the budget. Either way, the will of the people, as expressed through the market for colleges, is being ignored.
As always, government intervention results in inefficiency.
¶ 8:50 AM
While I appreciate what Fox News is trying by calling Palestinian terrorists "homicide bombers", that's a bit vague and redundant. I remember an X-Files episode where a serial killer asks one of his victims why he does the things he does (i.e. kill people). The intended victim, a psychic, replies, "Well, isn't it obvious? You do it because you're a homicidal maniac!"
So, how about we call them, as my brother Mike suggests, "crazy Islamic jihadist bombers". Or, alternatively, we could go with HappyFunPundit's "ulalating fanatics".
¶ 8:11 AM
Friday, July 18, 2003
Naturally, the media furor over "Uraniumgate" (not another -gate) is being dissected and denounced all over the conservative side of the Internet, and so I won't say more than this: maybe Bush and Co. stretched the truth a bit; most likely, they believed that the information they were getting was accurate, and were guilty only of pushing it hard, in accordance with this belief. You know, like the people who run conspiracy websites, taking every circumstantial piece of evidence as truth, ignoring evidence to the contrary (although to a lesser degree). In any event, I still say that a) Saddam was a threat, b) it's good that we got rid of him, and c) Bush didn't knowingly lie. Unlike Clinton, who seemed to lie for the fun of it. Billy the C is that guy in the old Robocop movie who took the stand in a courtroom. A little screen below the witness would rate the probability that the witness's statement was truth with a percentage.
The politician sits down, they ask him his name. He answers (truthfully), and the screen lights up "50%". Every statement he makes, the screen evaluates as "50%". Clinton was worse than this.
One quick question, just food for thought; is the media furor totally, partially, or somewhat due to bias, or is it just that the media blows everything out of proportion? Or both? Something to consider, as there is evidence both ways.
¶ 3:21 PM
One of my big things is the next generation of weaponry, and what it will mean for both society and the military. Drudge Report linked, on the 1st of July, a story describing "global reach" weaponry. (Go here for the full story.) Folks, this could be big.
Imagine being able to pick up a phone when we discover where the Osama is hiding, give the coordinates, and instantly (or nearly so) vector in a titanium rod moving at speeds described by well-known physicists as "really freakin' fast" (sorry if this gets technical). No chance for shooting the missile down, no way to move in time, just Osama-puree. Of course, in a general war, it would be just as, if not more useful. Whoever controlled space would win the war, period- heck, exclamation mark! Conversation in CentCom during WWIII:
Callow, Officious Lieutenant: "Sir, satellite shows a regiment of Chinese tanks moving towards Vladivostok."
Frowning, Patton-esque General: "Activate Flyswatter."
(Explosions) COL: "Sir, satellite shows a platoon of Chinese tanks moving toward Beijing."
FPG: "War is hell."
Of course, there's always nuclear weapons (which sounds better with a Russian accent- "nucleer weepons"- and much worse with a Bush accent- "nuk-you-lar weapons" Shudder).
¶ 12:07 PM
I've been asked what sort of societal repercussions will be set up by the advent of what we call the "Digital Age"- quotes and caps, not bad. One thing that struck me is that opinion will tend to be more polarized. But, but, stammers the Freedom of Speechist, doesn't more access to a wider range of opinions lead to less, not more polarization?
Of course, the answer to this is...maybe. See, put yourself in the position of yourself (I don't ask much of my reader[s]). Or, if you are a particularly ingenious, indifferent, openminded, or otherwise unbalanced person, put yourself in the position of one who isn't. An average Republican, Democrat, Fascist, Socialist, Unitarian, Mormon, Scientologist, etc. Are you more likely to read websites that disagree with your core beliefs, or those that agree? So, instead of learning more and more about other points of view, any statement challenging your weltanschauung is immediately dissected and hung out to dry by bloggers like me, though no doubt more productive and incisive in reasoning.
That makes holding more extreme views easier. If there are ten thousand Nazi websites, and ten million Christian ones, there's no doubt a notable difference in the adherents to each group. But our Nazi friends (please, tell me you don't have any Nazi friends) will have about a dozen National Socialist websites on his favorites list, and the fact that there are much fewer of these than Christian ones won't affect him a bit. He wouldn't even know. Since all he puts into his search engine is "Death to Jews!" and "International Zionist Conspiracy", all he'll know is that there are a bunch of Jew-hating Arabs and Nazis out there (and Rep. Jim Moran, of course), not that there are also reasonable Arabs and non-Nazis.
In short, people look for like minds. In interpersonal contacts- fancy talk for "meeting people face to face"- you can't just click a button to make disagreeable views go away (though they may be harder to find- very few Communists in Tomball, TX for example). But on the Internet, it is simple to do so, and easy to find views that agree with your own as well.
Thus far, I don't think there are enough people using the Internet regularly to have a major overall effect on society. But in the next twenty years...maybe. We'll see.
¶ 11:44 AM
First issue of the day. Tony Blair is (see below for caveat) awesome. The guy gave a speech that makes many die-hard pro-war pundits look timid and nervous. He is quickly becoming a sort of Winston Churchill, if he isn't already (although the comparison isn't a perfect one).
Still, he is, as James Lileks notes, a socialist. But hey! we'll let bygones be bygones in the name of Western civilization, and I'll note one thing that many seem to have missed- Mr. Blair notes that the new EU members "want a Europe of nations, not a superstate". I think the EU is quickly becoming a potential rival to America, but if Mr. Blair's assertion is true, it is possible that we may be able to indeed work with the new supranational organization, instead of against it.
Only time (and the influence of nations that want the EU to be a rival, like France) will tell.
¶ 11:19 AM
Howdy! This is my first attempt at creating a blog, but it seems simple enough even for the likes of me.
My name is Sean Jordan; I'm a know-it-all college boy from Tomball, a town that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Houston despite the relatively close proximity. It's pretty much a typical small town.
But I actually am living in College Station, which not coincidentally is home to Texas A & M University, which is less a college than a religion. Naturally, I am attending this finest of universities, and gradually becoming a productive member of society, much to the surprise of those that know me.
Enough with the introductions. To the blogging!
¶ 10:18 AM
Philosophical, political, and random thoughts on issues and events