Tuesday, May 31, 2005

DEEP THROAT

Is a guy I never heard of.
The Washington Post today confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat," the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon.

The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. The three spoke after Felt's family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper's groundbreaking Watergate stories.

Woodward said Felt helped The Post at a time of tense relations between the White House and much of the FBI hierarchy. He said the Watergate break-in came shortly after the death of legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Felt's mentor, and that Felt and other bureau officials wanted to see an FBI veteran promoted to succeed Hoover.

Felt himself had hopes that he would be the next FBI director, but Nixon instead appointed an administration insider, assistant attorney general L. Patrick Gray, to the post.

The press is always looking for celebrities so they speculate that Bush 41 or Pat Buchanan must be the guy. It turns out to be a nobody with unrealized career ambitions.
In a family statement released today, Felt's grandson, Nick Jones, said, "The family believes my grandfather, Mark Felt Sr., is a great American hero who went well above and beyond the call of duty at much risk to himself to save his country from a horrible injustice." The statement added, "We all sincerely hope the country will see him this way as well."

Though he'll be treated as a great patriot it seems like sour grapes was his real motivation. Would he have provided the information had he become the head of the FBI?

Friday, May 27, 2005

NEWSPAPER NEWS 1

Harrisburg Patriot launches tabloid-style edition. Strange place for one. Harrisburg has no mass transit to speak of is not known is a bastion of innovation. But with 0% population growth and declining sales, they have to do something.

NEW YORK It all started over ketchup. Some editors at The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., were joking around last September about a New Yorker article that mentioned how misguided restaurants used to be when they only offered one condiment option. Then someone realized: The newspaper only gave readers one option.

"Whether you're a loyal reader with plenty of time or an occasional reader who's time starved, you've got to take the same package," John Kirkpatrick, the Patriot-News' president, publisher, and editor, said of the broadsheet-only model. Eight months later, the paper launched The Patriot, the first regular compact edition of an ongoing U.S. broadsheet. This one's aimed at busy readers of any age who weren't reading the broadsheet during the week.

So far, with no advertising, the new paper is selling about 1,900 copies a day. (The broadsheet's weekday circulation was 102,710 in the last reporting period.) "We started it here without any promotion at all ... and in a week or so we start full promotion so we expect that number to go up," Kirkpatrick said. He said advertisers have gotten on board without much convincing, excited at the prospect of reaching added or new circulation.

"We knew there were a lot of people who read us religiously on Sunday but don't read us during the week," Kirkpatrick told E&P Thursday, one week after the unannounced launch of the new tab. "The other thing that happened was, although we've done very well in our ABC reports, we don't think we're immune from the same forces striking everyone else."

...Feature-heavy front pages and a roundup of bite-sized news and gossip on pages two and three also got the axe. "The younger they were the more hypersensitive they were to anything that made them look not smart," Kirkpatrick said. Readers wanted hard news, but "no micronews," he said, emphasizing the biggest, most substantive news of the day.

Also banished were stock listings and some comics, and the "Living" section only appears on Thursdays in the compact.

The Patriot's news mix cuts some stories to fit without jumps (which brought negative responses in focus groups), and ends up with roughly half of the broadsheet's news coverage. Sports, which is already a special tab in the main paper, is just re-placed for the Patriot edition. The classifieds, which remain a broadsheet, are tucked inside.

Readers also liked color, Kirkpatrick said, so the compact has color throughout, with pages even color-coded by content.
NEWSPAPER NEWS 2

Detroit Free Press and Detroit News sell out, replace page 1 with giant ad. Personally that does not bother me as long as the ad is tasteful. I wonder what it does to daily sales.

Detroit Newspapers, which oversees the joint operating agreement between Knight Ridder's Detroit Free Press and Gannett's The Detroit News, sold the entire front page of both papers to Marshall Field's on Wednesday, triggering some protests from readers.

Ford told E&P that Marshall Field's approached Detroit Newspapers -- the retailer was shopping the idea around to newspapers in other cities as well -- and that the agency gave the idea “thoughtful consideration” before agreeing to run the ads on Wednesday. “It just seemed like nothing far off field from a gatefold or a wrap,” he said.

The ads featured a gigantic American flag touting a Memorial Day sale under the banners of both papers. The real Page One started on the next page.

As the advertising environment remains soft, newspapers are looking for innovative ways to attract revenue. The idea of selling the front page, and putting the publication's logo on top, is known in the magazine industry as a “false cover.”
MACK JACKED - AND WE WERE THERE

A year ago at PNC Park, Dude and I caught 3 games, Pirates hosting the Cubs. Rob Mackowiak's wife had delivered their first child earlier that day. The light-hitting superutilityman jacked a walk-off grand slam in the first game of Friday night's doubleheader, jacked a 9th-inning, game tying 2-run homer in the second game, followed by Craig Wilson's leadoff game-winner in bottom 10, and mashed a go-ahead homer on Saturday for 11 RBIs and three wins on the weekend. The crowd was chanting "Have more babies! Have more babies!" Mackowiak's performance was voted the Pirates' highlight of the 2004 season. (And there weren't many. The Cubs won just about every other game in their head-to-head series and I lost my annual wager, or should I say annuity, to my buddy James in Chicago.)

And we were there. As the fan of a team that hasn't even sniffed at postseason play since Bonds left in 1993, that is heading for its 13th consecutive losing season, and that is best-known for its garish yellow polyester uniforms and pillbox caps, it was a magical couple of days that made you feel lucky to be there. Baseball is funny that way.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

NEW YORK TIMES TO CUT 190 JOBS



Presumably in the fact-checking department which was not being used very heavily.
QUESTION AUTHORITY
The report confirms a chilling fact that was widely covered in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. After both buildings were burning, many calls to 911 resulted in advice to stay put and wait for rescue. Also, occupants of the towers had been trained to use the stairs, not the elevators, in case of evacuation.

Fortunately, this advice was mostly ignored. According to the engineers, use of elevators in the early phase of the evacuation, along with the decision to not stay put, saved roughly 2,500 lives. This disobedience had nothing to do with panic. The report documents how evacuees stopped to help the injured and assist the mobility-impaired, even to give emotional comfort. Not panic but what disaster experts call reasoned flight ruled the day.

In fact, the people inside the towers were better informed and far more knowledgeable than emergency operators far from the scene. While walking down the stairs, they answered their cell phones and glanced at their BlackBerries, learning from friends that there had been a terrorist attack and that the Pentagon had also been hit. News of what was happening passed by word of mouth, and fellow workers pressed hesitating colleagues to continue their exit.

This is good advice in general. Micro-managers and central planners usually ignore local knowledge because they see it as unruly. They're certain they can make the decisions from far away. The Soviets thought so too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

STOCK

ERHE might be ready for a jump if you have an online stock account and some free cash.

.699 at 2pm EST.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

DO THE MATH: FEWER ZYGOTES = FEWER KIDS

With a headline like this, do you really need a story?
Child Population Dwindles in San Francisco

San Francisco has the smallest share of small-fry of any major U.S. city. Just 14.5 percent of the city's population is 18 and under.

That compares to 24 percent in New York, for example.

AP's aptly named Lisa Leff unlocks the secret:
It is no mystery why U.S. cities are losing children. The promise of safer streets, better schools and more space has drawn young families away from cities for as long as America has had suburbs.

Oh, of course. And well, there's that other reason too, but:
San Francisco's large gay population — estimated at 20 percent by the city Public Health Department — is thought to be one factor, though gays and lesbians in the city are increasingly raising families.

The disarming caveat, while technically true, is tremendously misleading, and has little to do with the premise.

Isn't there any news out there that does not carry an agenda?

THE WINDY CITIES
A new map highlights spots where there is enough wind to provide electricity to the whole world - and then some.

In putting together a global and U.S. map, researchers found wind power could provide 40 times more electricity than is needed worldwide.

Scientists gathered wind speed data from about 8,000 locations on the planet - 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations. They measured the wind speeds 260 feet (80 meters) above the ground surface, which is the height of a modern wind turbine's hub.

They found that 13 percent of the 8,000 spots were capable of averaging Class 3 wind speeds throughout the course of the year. Class 3 winds are greater than 15.4 mph (6.9 meters per second), which is considered strong enough to be economically feasible.

"We would be fools not to use it," Archer said.

About 2.5 million wind turbines -- together capturing about 20 percent of what's available based on the new maps -- would be needed to produce all the world's electrical needs, Archer said.

The wind doesn't blow constantly, however, and it cannot be adjusted to follow electricity demand. Archer hopes that one day the bulk of our electricity will come from green energies, like wind power, with the gaps being filled by more reliable and traditional energies, like the burning of fossil fuels.
Is it merely coincidence that all the windiest places are solidly Democrat?

I see that the Cleveland-to-Buffalo corridor is quite windy, but a couple Browns-Steelers games and a winter in Ashtabula could have told you that.
VANITY, VANITY, ALL IS VANITY

A black 2002 Audi tooling around Seattle's streets has a vanity license plate that appears to have gotten in under the radar of the state licensing police.

The inscription, C9H13N, is the chemical compound for methamphetamine — not that the general public would know that.

The plate appears to violate state law that bans vanity plates making reference to alcohol or illegal substances.

Last night there was a car parked in my neighborhood bearing the vanity plate HEATHEN. Which is fine, anyone is free to be a heathen (although advertising the fact may be redundant), but what exactly are the standards? My guess is that BIBLEBOY would not get past security. NO GOD, okay, personal freedom of expression. KNOW GOD, denied, religious proselytizing. A curious interpretation of what Thomas Jefferson and friends had in mind.

Personally I can't complain. I had IS.40:8 on my convertible in North Carolina.

ISIKOFF AND NEWSWEEK

Michael Isikoff, addressing the furor in an interview broadcast Monday night on "The Charlie Rose Show," said he regretted the possibility that his article, which has been blamed for violent protests in Muslim countries, may have spurred riots.

"It was terrible what happened," he told Rose. "Even if it was just a little bit that we contributed to the violence that went on over there, that was awful, terrible."

"I got to tell you, as somebody who has reported for a long time on the intelligence and law enforcement field, that's going to be tough," he told Rose. "Some of the best stories that I've gotten, that others have written about this administration, about the previous administration, you have to rely on anonymous sources."

This story is not the fault of Isikoff, but the editors of Newsweek Magazine. Isikoff was behind the original Monica Lewinsky story that Newsweek spiked because of anonymous sources. They weren't prepared to error when a Democrat like Clinton was at stake, but when Bush and the reputation of the United States was on the line, why not?

Monday, May 23, 2005

MORE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM TURNED ON ITS HEAD


Scientists are excited about a vitamin again. But unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence this time is strong and keeps growing. If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine's most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen whenever they're in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.

The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.

In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.

The thinking is this: Even if too much sun leads to skin cancer, which is rarely deadly, too little sun may be worse.

In other news, I have lost 7 pounds in 7 days eating eggs and meat every day on the South Beach Diet. Eggs were never bad, we just thought they were.

MARIANO RIVERA BLOWS LEAD FOR CBS

But in explaining why CBS would narrowly lose an important ratings title to Fox this season - viewership among those between the ages of 18 and 49 - Mr. Moonves fixed at least partial blame on a seemingly unlikely villain: Mariano Rivera, the relief pitcher for the New York Yankees.

Mr. Moonves's logic went something like this: The race between Fox and CBS was so close that if the ratings for a major sporting event carried by Fox - such as one of the seven epic playoff games between the Yankees and the Red Sox in October - were subtracted, CBS would have beaten Fox for the year. That series went to a seventh game, at least in part, because the ordinarily infallible Mr. Riviera squandered several Yankee leads.

"Mariano Riviera cost us more money than the Yankees," Mr. Moonves said.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A VEGETABLE

In England

THIS WEEK Leslie Burke sat in court in a wheelchair and listened while lawyers argued whether he should be starved and dehydrated to death. The lawyers arguing in favour of the proposition were egged on by the Secretary of State for Health, who deemed it too expensive to feed and water the ailing patient.

I emphasise again that the issue here is food and fluid, not some esoteric and complicated medical procedure. We are not talking about assisting someone to breathe but merely refusing to starve him. Throughout the passage of the Mental Capacity Bill in Parliament the argument was put forward strongly in both Houses that it should be made explicit that food and fluid do not constitute treatment. The Government adamantly refused. We can now see why, but none of us could have predicted the speed with which the effects would be realised: the Bill was passed immediately before Parliament dissolved for the election and now, less than a month later, a minister says that it is too costly to administer basic sustenance to the dying.

Eliminating "out of pocket" costs does not limit scarcity. Imagine spending your life paying those insane tax rates without the benefit of food and water in your dying day. I bet that guy wishes he had the money back now.

Friday, May 20, 2005

THE HUFFINGTON POST

This group blog is a lot like The New York Times in that it's full of wild eyed liberals with a token conservative or two for spice. I like reading blog entries by people outside of politics. Who knew sportcaster Jim Lampley was a flaming liberal to the point that he's sure that Karl Rove stole the election in 2004?

Harry Shearer is funny when he chimes in.

I even saw Evans on there once.
SENATE DEMOCRATS LOOKING FOR AN IDENTITY

One of the problems of the media, I think, is their inability to actually explain the meaning of the words used in politics. On Wednesday during the beginnings of the Senate fight Democrats left the floor and walked down the Senate steps to a pre-set podium with a sign that read, “Save our Democracy.”

Is that what Senate Democrats are fighting for, democracy? They’re trying to prevent democracy by preventing a vote. What they’re fighting for is the Senate precedent of filibusters. What precedent they’re fighting for is vague. No longer can a single Senator drone on like we saw in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Now you have to have 41 people willing to go along with the delay. What a filibuster is has changed many times in the past and changing it now isn’t going to hurt the Senate anymore than the last time those rules were altered.

But more importantly, Senate Democrats are hitching their wagon to precedent and thus the rules of the Senate, and therefore the consistency of the rule of law. The rule of law is the basis of a republican form of government not a democratic one. The bill of rights and the constitution in general is a republican document because it states what a majority cannot do to a minority.

The U.S. Constitution use to mean something in this country before the New Deal and the Supreme Court led by Earl Warren began re-inventing America. What Democrats learned in the 20th century is that they could gain power by buying people’s votes through government largesse. Since income redistribution is unconstitutional according to the 14th amendment’s “Equal Protection” standard, well they just got the right judges to say it wasn’t.

The problem that Democrats have found so far in this century is that people aren’t as anxious to be bought, so the only way Democrats can maintain their ideology is to have judges force it down voter’s throats. It’s funny that as they lose grasp of the one institution that will mandate their minority views, they cite democracy as the virtue in danger.

Now they can no longer win by democratic means, they try republican principles. It won’t be long until they crave a return of the king. But, I guess, they already have the king back or at least an oligarchy, in the form of Federal judges. If they can’t save that, they’ll have to re-invent their entire opposition party much like Tony Blair did in Great Britain.

It’s a shame that the media isn’t interested in the principles behind these fights. It’s also a shame that public schools aren’t teaching these principles. It seems like my property taxes and cable bill could be promoting a smarter America, but we’re getting a louder America instead.
SHAKY FOUNDATION

The San Andreas Fault, which snakes uncomfortably close to Los Angeles and other large cities along much of California's length, has been relatively quiet for the past 148 years.

This could end soon, scientists said today.

Researchers have calculated a 20 to 70 percent probability that southern California will be hit by a large earthquake in the next 30 years. The forecast is based on the frequency of past events.

Geologists stress, however, that earthquake prediction, in its infancy, is notoriously difficult. Forecasts tend to be very general, specifying a range of decades rather than years or weeks for possible activity.

The last really big quake to hit southern California was the Fort Tejon Earthquake of 1857, which was estimated to be around magnitude 8 from the 186 miles (300 kilometers) of rupture along the San Andreas.


Bet you wouldn't guess that California ranks only 10th on the list of the strongest earthquakes. So far Gov. Ahnold has done a good job keeping the earthquakes at bay.

Strongest US Earthquakes (source: USGS)

Rank Locale Size

1 Prince William Sound, AK 9.2
2 Andreanof Islands, AK 9.1
3 Rat Islands, AK 8.7
4 Shumagin Islands, AK 8.2
5 New Madrid, MO 8.1
6 Yakutat Bay, AK 8.0
7 Andreanof Islands, AK 8.0
8 New Madrid, MO 8.0
9 Cape Yakataga, AK 7.9
10 Fort Tejon, CA 7.9
BREAK ON THROUGH TO SOUTHERN OREGON

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) – Here’s news that will light the fire of Jim Morrison fans: A filmmaker claims The Doors’ frontman is alive and raising horses on a ranch in southern Oregon.

Rodeo photographer Gerald Pitts insists Morrison didn’t die in July of 1971 and he has current photographs and film footage of the rocker to prove it.

Pitts, who met Morrison in 1998, says the rocker staged his death because of a French conspiracy to kill him, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix with narcotics because they were all Vietnam war protestors.

These days, Morrison isn’t the drug user he once was, although Pitts says when he goes over to Jim’s house he’ll “maybe have an occasional beer.”

Now Pitts claims that Morrison is announcing he’s alive, in part, to promote his recent agreement to star in a rodeo shoot-out movie based on events that actually happened to Pitts.

Pitts’ whole story airs on A Current Affair tomorrow (May 20).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

T.O. MUST G.O.

Terrell Owens has always been a Keyshawn, whining and crying about how great and misunderstood he is and behaving like he's more important than the team. The Eagles gambled on him and cut him some slack because he produced. No longer. McNabb has turned on him, his teammates want him gone, and the adulation and respect he earned with fans by sucking it up and overachieving in the Super Bowl is rapidly disappearing if not gone. He could have reversed field at any time and all would have been forgiven. It is really a shame when immaturity or ego costs you millions of dollars, not to mention endorsements and your life after football. What's worse is that another team will pick him up and pay him. But the price tag of having a T.O. on your team is steep indeed.

No doubt Owens, in his infinitely infantile worldview, is feeling persecuted by the public criticism he has been getting. It probably doesn't occur to him that he created this mess for himself. That would require a sense of accountability. Instead, he lashes out at McNabb, who is everything Owens will never be.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a player's trying to improve his contract. Owens' first mistake was in making it public and squandering the immense goodwill he had earned from Eagles fans. His second mistake was dragging McNabb into it with that first ill-advised insult. Now he has made a third, more serious mistake.

If Reid is as concerned with team chemistry as he says he is, the coach will make sure this is Owens' last mistake as an Eagle.

This whole situation also argues against using NCAA Division I football as the NFL's minor league system. Not that I have a better suggestion, but how can somebody this stupid have earned a college degree? Oh, but I forget - he probably didn't.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

NO MEDIA ACCOUNTABILITY

I happened to watch a few minutes of the CBS Evening News last night before I realized what I was doing. I usually avoid CBS News and CNN because they make me angry. Last night was no exception.

I saw four stories -- each political, each anti-Bush administration. First, the Newsweek story. More on this below. Second, a story about how the right wing wants to end the filibusters and get an up-or-down vote so they can revoke women's constitutional right to abort a fetus. Third, some story on how badly the war in Iraq is going. I forget the fourth because I was lecturing the TV.

I have not followed the Newsweek story very closely but I get the gist that Newsweek reported that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet at a military base in Afghanistan, which caused riots which caused 16(?) deaths, and that the report was apparently false, based on one shaky secondhand source, and that Newsweek has written a one-line retraction. The obvious logic is that another incident of overzealous anti-Bush reporting has caused damage to the US as well as the loss of human life. But the story at CBS is the White House's "unprecedented" suggestion that Newsweek do its part to undo the damage that the magazine itself created. The press is aghast at the suggestion, citing freedom of the press -- presumably (again) the freedom to publish wrong stories that, while technically false, ring true.

Here is what McClellan actually said. He suggested (gasp!) that the people who made the mess should contribute to cleaning up the mess. Only a liberal could object to that.
Q With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not telling them. I'm saying that we would encourage them to help --

Q You're pressuring them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm saying that we would encourage them --

Q It's not pressure?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that's all I'm saying. But, no, you're absolutely right, it's not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report....

Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military --

Q You've already said what you're -- I know what -- how it ends.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm coming to your question, and you're not letting me have a chance to respond. But our military goes out of their way to handle the Koran with care and respect. There are policies and practices that are in place. This report was wrong. Newsweek, itself, stated that it was wrong. And so now I think it's incumbent and -- incumbent upon Newsweek to do their part to help repair the damage. And they can do that through ways that they see best, but one way that would be good would be to point out what the policies and practices are in that part of the world, because it's in that region where this report has been exploited and used to cause lasting damage to the image of the United States of America. It has had serious consequences. And so that's all I'm saying, is that we would encourage them to take steps to help repair the damage. And I think that they recognize the importance of doing that. That's all I'm saying.

Q As far as the Newsweek article is concerned, first, how and where the story came from? And do you think somebody can investigate if it really happened at the base, and who told Newsweek? Because somebody wrote a story.
I guess the last line argues that because somebody felt confident enough in their source to write a story, then the story must be true. Forget that its own author and publisher have retracted it. Has the press learned anything from Rathergate? Or is its bias so complete that it is utterly impenetrable?

And then there's the related point that we spend tax dollars to remove the ten commandments from the public square but the purported flushing of a Koran is some sacred headline-making violation. But I leave that for another day. Matthew 10:16-42 explains this to my satisfaction.

Friday, May 13, 2005

BORDER PATROL POLITICS
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.

More than a dozen agents, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said orders relayed by Border Patrol supervisors at the Naco, Ariz., station made it clear that arrests were "not to go up" along the 23-mile section of border that the volunteers monitored to protest illegal immigration.

The Minutemen volunteers are a great example of citizen government. The media wants to find something about them to dislike, but it's not just because they are making Illegals think twice about crossing the border. Their effectiveness sheds light on the abhorrent job being done by government. Their continued success could create copycats on other issues to the point that some government agencies would have to scramble to justify their existence.

Government agencies need problems to thrive. Their budgets are based on problems not effectiveness. Bureaucrats learn early on that you don't solve problems to increase your power. Instead you invent new problems that need to be funded. The Illegal alien subject is touchy in Washington so these citizens decided that they'd battle the problem themselves. Their success is now exposing the waste and fraud going on in a Federal Government with a different agenda. It's no surprise that the border patrol is intentionally trying to discredit their project. They'd love things to just get back to normal.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

WWII - WORTH IT?

Pat Buchanan is taking heat for remarking in a speech that World War II was "not worth it."

When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France – hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires – was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?

If the objective of the West was the destruction of Nazi Germany, it was a "smashing" success. But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, it was not worth it. After all, the Germans voted Hitler in.

If it was to keep Hitler out of Western Europe, why declare war on him and draw him into Western Europe? If it was to keep Hitler out of Central and Eastern Europe, then, inevitably, Stalin would inherit Central and Eastern Europe.

Was that worth fighting a world war – with 50 million dead?

The war Britain and France declared to defend Polish freedom ended up making Poland and all of Eastern and Central Europe safe for Stalinism. And at the festivities in Moscow, Americans and Russians were front and center, smiling – not British and French. Understandably.

For Buchanan, it comes down to how tight your definition of "national interest" is. He would probably characterize the Revolutionary War and the Spanish-American War as "in the national interest," the World Wars, Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf War, and Iraq as outside it. He has a viable and important argument, an argument he has been consistently voicing for years, an argument that repeatedly fails to be heard and debated because the cries of anti-Semitism prevent anyone from discussing the logic of it.

The question of what is in our national interest is at the root of major foreign policy decisions. Buchanan makes a reasonable argument that messing around in other nation's sovereign business is what drains superpowers of their economic and military might, that the essence of power is maintaining it by not wasting it here, there, and everywhere. Nations that fight, wear down and eventually get beat.

His argument is that 50 million dead soldiers and 6 million dead Jews is not better than 6 million dead Jews. That is not a crazy argument. It might not be right, and it might not be politically correct, but it's not crazy. I guess his crime is that he's not nuanced enough. And not socialist.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

DEAN MAKES HIS SOCIALISM OFFICIAL

Breaking party lines, former Gov. Howard Dean said Monday he supports Rep. Bernard Sanders' bid for the U.S. Senate, saying the Independent makes a "strong candidate."

"A victory for Bernie Sanders is a win for Democrats," Dean said in a telephone interview Monday.

Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., announced last month he would not seek re-election, clearing the way for what's expected to be a crowded race in fall 2006.

"We've got a few things to work out with Bernie," he said, adding, "Bernie's not a Democrat."

Jeff Weaver, Sanders' chief of staff and campaign spokesman, said the congressman won't formally announce his candidacy until "much later this year."

But Weaver said Dean's support is natural in a political atmosphere dominated by conservative voices.

"I think Gov. Dean and Congressman Sanders share an interest in beating back a very aggressive reactionary agenda of President Bush and congressional Republicans," Weaver said. "We intend to win this seat and Bernie will be a strong voice against the Bush agenda."


No where in the article does it mention that Sanders is a socialist. If Bush were endorsing a fascist do you think that might get ink?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

NR examines the British Elections
rom the standpoint of a foreign-policy conservative, Blair’s loss is a sign of weakening support for the U.S. across Europe, even in America’s most reliable ally. Blair is generally reckoned to have lost a large number of “middle-class progressive” votes (i.e., Guardian-reading, muesli-eating, electric-car-driving voters) to the Liberal Democrats because of their hostility to the Iraq war.

Blair’s Labor colleagues will draw the appropriate lesson. Britain will not soon support the U.S. in any future U.S. crisis and may gradually be absorbed by the anti-American political culture of continental Europe. And from the standpoint of a philosophical conservative, the upsurge of Liberal Democrat support in university towns in opposition to Blair's modest free-market proposal of “top-up” university fees flags the difficulty of reversing even the most indefensible free lunch offered by the welfare state.

In confusion there is profit, however, as Tony Curtis’s character says in Operation Petticoat. There are signs of conservative opportunities in the current situation — in the form of voters, issues, and readiness.

First there are a lot of voters now in play after the election results. Labor lost six percent of its 2001 vote. Many more voters — about 40 percent — did not vote at all. Some of Labor’s missing voters went to the Lib-Dems, but not all. And the Lib-Dems themselves lost some voters who finally recognized that they were a left-wing party rather than a centrist one. What has gone unnoticed is that almost eight percent of the voters — a very large percentage in the British system — chose small protest parties such as Veritas, the fascist British National party, and the eccentrically Euroskeptic UKIP. Most of these voters are right-wing in some sense or other. They might once have voted Lib-Dem but not now. And they are open to persuasion over the next few years.

Second, the upcoming issues in this parliament are likely to be conservative ones that drive people to the right — for instance, the referendum on the European constitution. Left-wing issues such as Iraq are likely to fade from the public mind. And the biggest issue of all will be the fiscal crises against which the IMF warned during the campaign. Whether Blair or Brown is prime minister, the government will be unable to finance large injections of public money into failing public services from “stealth” taxes that nobody notices. On the contrary, massive bills for previous expenditures and regulatory costs will become due shortly. So Labor will either have to raise taxes sharply or cut back on spending, and in either event they will have to bring serious market reforms into health and other public services.

However such choices go, they would tend to split Labor, antagonize the Lib-Dems, and benefit the Tories. And in all cases they will clarify political choices for the voters in a way that New Labor has confused them.

Third, the Tories are more ready than any other party to take advantage of these two opportunities. Their vote rose, albeit only slightly, rather than fell. They fought a hard-hitting and focused campaign that won back some of their core. (Australian Lynton Crosby earned his fee and then some.) The issues they emphasized, notably immigration, are those likely to win over the voters newly in play.

The world is more than willing to look the other way to dictators and genocide. You'd think Europe would have learned their lessons after World War II.

What have you done for me lately?
THE LINGERING EFFECTS OF WWII

Sixty years after the end of the Second World War in Europe, British people are still obsessed with Nazism, and ignorant about Germany, said the German ambassador to London, Thomas Matussek.

"The British behave as if they had conquered Hitler's hordes single-handedly. And they continue to see us as Nazis, as if they have to refight the battles every evening. They are enchanted by this Nazi dimension," he said yesterday.

A recent survey showed that when British 10- to 16-year olds were asked what they associated Germany with, 78 per cent said the Second World War, and 50 per cent mentioned Hitler.

"Like the conquering of the West is part of the American myth, so it is the same with the British and the defeat of Nazism," Mr Matussek told The Observer.

"We Germans confront the guilt and shame of our past daily, and more thoroughly and obsessively than probably any other nation on earth."


Parts of the United States were still fighting the Civil War 100 years later. The Germans would love to forget World War II just like Putin wants us to forget the cold war. The people who lived through those events will have to die before all wounds are fully healed. Lesson to the next dictator.

Friday, May 06, 2005

THROW HEAT
You're throwing a ball for a toddler to smack with a plastic bat. You toss it gently, slowly, to make it easier. He just can't hit it.

It's because you throw too slowly, a new study finds.

Kids' brains aren't wired for slow motion.

"When you throw something slowly to a child, you think you're doing them a favor by trying to be helpful," said Terri Lewis, professor of psychology at McMaster University. "Slow balls actually appear stationary to a child."

Add a little speed to the pitch, Lewis and her colleagues suggest, and the child is able to judge its speed more accurately.

"Our brain has very few neurons that deal specifically with slow motion and many neurons that deal with faster motion," Lewis said. "Even adults are worse at slow speeds than they are at faster speeds."

Kids' neurons are immature, making the task even more challenging for them.

The study will be detailed in the July issue of Vision Research.
I found this out by accident. Ben was whiffing at the underhand lobs and starting spraying line drives when I started throwing overhand heat.
BAD NEWS: EARTH'S AIR IS CLEANER

The air is cleaner, which should be good, right? No, it could increase the greenhouse effect. It is interesting to note the headlines the editors apply to reframe good news in a negative light.

Bush's opponents use his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol to label him as pro-big business and to hell with the environment. His actual position is that the regulations already in place are cleaning up the environment and that it will be cheaper to respond to the eventual real impacts of environmental change than to throw money into the wind trying to keep the environment from changing.

More bad news: the water is cleaner too, and has been for many years. We hear so much squawking about the environment, most people don't realize the environment is in much better shape today than it was when the squawking started. But the truth never stands in the way of a useful argument.

BOOK REVIEW: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte.

Major takeaways included the Ink-to-Data Ratio, meaning that as high a percentage of a chart's ink as possible should be dedicated to conveying data, and its corollary The Eraser Rule, which mandates erasing all parts of a chart that do not convey data. The goals are simplicity, elegance, and ease of interpretation.

I was invited to my client's retreat in Baltimore and asked to deliver a 25-minute presentation discussing the kind of work I've been doing for the firm and what I'd like to do going forward. The ideas in the book led me to organize my remarks around the chart shown above, discussing the relative amounts of work each partner has given me, the different kinds of work I've been doing for each, and the various applications for other partners in the room. It led directly to a massive influx of work of the type I suggested. Normally I may have 1 or 2 projects open at any given time, 3 if I'm very busy. At the moment I have 10. At the break, a partner who is not on the chart told me he wants to be the tallest bar on the chart next year. I'm all for it.
LAUGHS FOR LAURA

Monday night I was listening to Michael Savage in the car. He was going off on the Bushes for demeaning the presidency, alienating the base, pandering to Hollywood, and handing a free gift to the Islamic propaganda machine in the form of Laura Bush's self-deprecating humor at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

The left also jumped on it, calling the Bushes hypocrites and so forth.

Settle down, everybody. It's just a little comedic monologue at an event that calls for a little comedic monologue. Watch it here - it's pretty funny.

I thought last year's routine was quite funny also - Bush looking under his desk for WMDs and so forth. Everyone got all bent out of shape over some very funny jokes. Touchy, touchy.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

BRITISH ELECTION

The BBC has a wonderful interactive map if you're following the returns like me.
MAD LIBS

The thing I like best about terrorist-takedown reportage is the before and after shot. It is the classic mug-shot mien. Hair mussed, clothes rumpled, downcast — nothing remotely heroic about it.

The message is that we are winning. We're winning well. That stated, al Qaeda remains a threat because, despite all the hardships they face, many of these people refuse to give up. Most of them are ideologically motivated and committed sociopaths. They have a need to kill. Our civilization and their organization cannot coexist in this world — they will be the first to admit it. So the Coalition is forced to wage war on them, to track them down, capture, or kill them, one by one. It takes time, but gradually the job is getting done.

The daily life of an al Qaeda leader is an endurance test for survival. They spend their time moving from safe house to safe house, in constant fear of discovery, attempting vainly to organize large-scale attacks on their enemies and speculating when they will be betrayed by their friends. It is not a rewarding existence, not even by terrorist standards. This cannot be the jihad they signed up for. Even the most committed among them may be wondering when Osama's master plan is going to kick in and they will start winning a few rounds.

Al Qaeda's failure to achieve any of its strategic goals or to conduct operations against the U.S. homeland is discouraging to some of its members. Recently Abu Musab al-Zarqawi complained about the lack of "willing martyrs" for attacks on the United States. Several days ago, U.S. Central Command posted a letter to Zarqawi from one of his underlings that revealed low morale and lack of trust within his organization. Zarqawi is not exactly safe either; he recently narrowly evaded capture during a hot pursuit by bailing out of a pickup truck under a highway underpass. Coalition forces captured his laptop and a trove of documents. Now he being reported allegedly wounded, or maybe sick, frequenting a hospital apparently for treatment. His insurgency controls no territory, and apart from being able to inflict some casualties, Zarqawi does not seem to be making much progress in his area of responsibility.

The war on terror has been tremendously successful. Two regimes deposed, Iraqis voted, and a popularly elected goverment is being installed, all in a few years' time, which by historical standards is absolutely incredible. But liberals can't get past their own simplistic stereotypes.

Do you really think the president is sheltered from those he’s pitching his plan to?

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA): The only actual news that he reads is the sports section. All the national news, all the opinions that he gets have been filtered, and it goes to his daily briefing that has already been pre-screened to give him what he wants to read. He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him. He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney.

I am still not hearing anything from the minority party that sounds like a reason to elect some of them to Congress in 2006. The UT incident with Ann Coulter is just the latest example of libs with nothing to say just saying it louder. Forget civility, that's gone, I'd just like to hear one coherent argument from one liberal. I'm reasonable - just one. No screaming, no arm waving, no ranting, no insults, no pies, just one coherent argument, in complete sentences, on any subject.