The Way It Is (I Think)


Required Reading:

Friday, May 30, 2003

Just in time for the summer . . .

Build the best paper airplane in the world. What makes it so special?
  • Folds progressively thicker where the wing joins the fuselage -- prevents distortion during windy days.
  • Long tail gives directional stability.
  • Can be flown with or without a tail.
  • Flight is similar to a balsa wood plane rather than a paper airplane.
  • Upturned wingtips percent wingtip vortex.
  • Multiple folds of paper concentrate the center of gravity well below and forward of the wings for hang-glider stability.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Freedom . . . French Style

The French parliament has passed an anti-crime act which makes a criminal offence to insult the French flag or national anthem. Booing the Marseillaise now carries the risk of a fine of 7,500 euros and six months in prison.


A quote from "Fireworks" by Ross Levatter -- a short story from the June 2003 issue of Liberty. A father explains to his child:
Today, almost 300 years ago, our nation began a war for independence and human liberty. That is why we are a free and independent people today, with rights to life, security, safety, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . If it weren't for that, we wouldn't be free to travel wherever the government allows us to go, wouldn't be free to choose among the government's list of acceptable books, wouldn't be able to worship in any religion recognized by the government. That's why liberty is so important. And remember . . . the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

WMD Quatables

From Counter Punch, Weapons of Mass Destruction: Who Said What When. Nice time line of quotes. From "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction" to "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer" and everything in between.

Prestige and Credibility

President Bush will hold a three-way meeting in Jordan next week with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian prime minister, White House officials said today.

Administration officials said they saw little choice but for Mr. Bush to lend his prestige and credibility to the effort after the Iraq war.
The article neglected to specify any details about who consideres Bush to have "prestige and credibility." And that is a shame. It certainly would have made some interesting news.

Germs, eh?

The Bush administration is officially calling the mobile labs found in Iraq "units to produce deadly germs," and are "highly confident" in the assessment. And while this is "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program," the case is far from clear cut.
The officials acknowledged that they had discovered neither biological agents nor evidence that the equipment had ever been used to make germ weapons.

The trailer's hardware presented no direct evidence of weapons use. The best evidence of that, they said, was the trailers' close resemblance to prewar descriptions of mobile germ plants given by Iraqi sources.

A technical assessment alone "would not lead you intuitively and logically to biological warfare," an official said of the trailers.
The best part of the pronouncement is the brilliant spin job. It seems that the less the mobile units appear to be biological labs, the more that proves Iraq was trying to disguise their intentions!
"Relatively inefficient but ingenious" is how one analyst described the mobile factories.

Their inefficiency, he added, was probably rooted in a decision to design the plants with enough technical ambiguity so they could be disclaimed as germ factories if discovered. Iraqi scientists have said the units were used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons. But the intelligence officials dismissed that explanation as a cover story even while conceding that the equipment could, in fact, have been used occasionally to make hydrogen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

How to spin statistics

Does hormone therapy raise the risk of Alzheimer's? The New York Times reports that it doubles the risk for women who start the treatment at age 65 or older. Not a big deal, according to researchers.
Researchers said the risk to individual women was slight, and that even though the numbers worked out to a doubling of the risk, 23 cases for every 10,000 women should not be cause for alarm.

"A small number doubled is still a small number," said Dr. Samuel E. Gandy, vice chairman of the medical and scientific advisory council of the Alzheimer's Association, and director of the Farber Institute of Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. [Emphasis added.]
I suppose it depends on what you consider a small number. The direct risk of hormone therapy is that 1 out of 400 women will develop Alzheimer's. Considering the debilitating nature of the disease, would you consider this "not a big deal"?

In a previous entry, I highlighted a Science News article that claimed, "On-the-job exposure to certain agricultural chemicals may be responsible for farmers' high rates of prostate cancer." What constituted this high rate of prostate cancer? It was an increase of only 14%!

This is why I love statistics.

Toxic Toilet Paper

The May 24, 2003, issue of Science News has a blurb on toxic chemicals finding their way into the environment via recycled paper. Evidently, when chemically-laced thermal paper is recycled, toxins are introduced into such products as recycled toilet paper, which, when flushed, can release these chemicals into the water supply.

The authors didn't mention the obvious concern -- using a toxin-laden product to wipe your keister. I'm buying recycle-free toilet paper from now on . . .

Some like it hot

McIlhenny has introduced a new flavor of Tabasco sauce onto the market -- Chipotle Pepper Sauce. The say, "It's our first pepper sauce that you can sprinkle on like a condiment, or really pour on like a steak sauce or marinade." And I'd have to agree!

I'm glad McIlhenny has extended their line to include the flavorful chipotle. (I love their Habanero sauce, but don't care much for their Green sauce or Garlic Tabasco.)

On the topic of hot sauce, if you haven't tried Religious Experience brand Apocalypse sauce, order some now. It is, in my opinion, the perfect hot sauce, combining significant heat with superbly fresh flavor.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Bush Websites

A parody site packed full of content:

Self explanatory:

Lots of good stuff:

The "official" re-election homepage:

Bush Speaks photos:

All his best quotes:

And many more from Google.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Where are all the Finnish Bloggers?

This site will tell you where.

(I assume there are more than 136 Finnish bloggers.)

There are 2216 New York City bloggers registered.

Hillary loves the children

An e-mail making the rounds:
Hillary Clinton went to a primary school to talk to the children about the world. After her talk, she offered a question-and-answer time. One little boy put up his hand, and the Senator asked him his name.


"And what is your question, Bobby?"

"I have three questions. First - whatever happened to your medical health care plan; second - why would you run for President after your husband shamed the office; and third - whatever happened to all those things you took when you left the White House?"

Just then, the bell rang for recess. Senator Clinton informed the kiddies that they would continue after recess.

When they resumed, Hillary asked, "Okay where were we? Oh, that's right, question time. Who has a question?"

A different little boy put his hand up; Hillary pointed him out and asked him his name.


"And what is your question, Steve?"

"I have five questions. First - whatever happened to your medical health care plan; second - why would you run for President after your husband shamed the office; third - whatever happened to all those things you took when you left the White House; fourth - why did the bell go off 20 minutes early; and fifth - what happened to Bobby?"

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Big Brother by any other name . . .

The Total Information Awareness program has now been changed to the Terrorist Information Awareness program. The government has figured out that its citizens don't care to have every available fact about about them stored in a central data base. Of course, the scope of the program has not changed. Despite the slight-of-hand name change, ordinary people (yes, you) will be catalogued . . . not just terrorists or suspected terrorists, as the new name suggests.

We learned from the recent Texas Democrat incident that the government is more than willing to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for its political purposes. Think of the temptation it would be to have all the information provided by TIA on your political opponent. (Or will politicians be exempt?)

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I thought we were going to shoot looters

[Aid workers] in the area claim that US forces have spray-painted the remains [of the Sumerian city of Ur in southern Iraq] with graffiti and stolen kiln-baked bricks made millennia ago. As a result, the US military has put the archaeological treasure, which dates back 6,000 years, off-limits to its own troops. Any violations will be punishable in military courts. (Article)
(Via War on Iraq)

Monday, May 19, 2003

Three Reasons Not To

The May 26, 2003 issue of Time magazine poses three concerns about Bush's plan to develop "bunker buster" nukes. (1) Even a tiny 1-kiloton weapon exploding 50 ft. deep in rock would spew radioactivity across a wide swath of the planet. (2) Arms-control advocates worry that possessing smaller and more precise nuclear weapons would scuttle efforts to stop worldwide proliferation. (3) Said Senator Dianne Feinstein last week: "This Administration seems to be moving toward a military posture in which nuclear weapons are considered just like other weapons."

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Terra Incognita

Some tidbits from the June 2003 issue of Liberty Magazine (p. 54):
  • The Cameroon health minister has deemed it necessary to warn people that drinking urine may not be good for your health.

  • The latest singles fad in New York City is dining completely in the dark. (The waiters wear night-vision goggles.)

  • The New York Post reports that a restauranteur can pay up to $2,000 in fines if someone smokes tobacco in their establishment. If that same person smokes marijuana, the restauranteur pays no fine, and the customer is fined $100.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

The Iraqis can rule themselves . . . after we take their oil

In an abrupt reversal, the United States and Britain have indefinitely put off their plan to allow Iraqi opposition forces to form a national assembly and an interim government by the end of the month.
From this New York Times article. If this comes as a shock to you, please e-mail me so I can sell you some property.

Judo Tournament

My daughter and I competed in the 2003 Fox Valley Judo Championships today. I took second in my division, she took fourth. Judo is a fantastic sport that is very physical yet very subtle. The Judo Information Site will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Judo.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Mormon Name Generator

My Mormon name is Valista Valliere Adelvade! What's yours? (I have no idea how it works.)

Phoebe Eng and Cultural Fluency

I had the privilege of hearing Phoebe Eng speak at an Asian-American diversity conference. Phoebe is an extremely talented and insightful individual who speaks on issues of diversity and cultural fluency. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Warrior Lessons: An Asian American Woman's Journey into Power.

The month of May has been designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution declaring the first Asian Pacific American Heritage Week as May 4-10, 1979. Then in 1990, President George Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long. Finally, Public Law 102-450 approved in October 23, 1992, designated May of each year Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Some Asian-American links can be found here.

Maybe He Doesn't Get Out Much

The new civilian administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, said yesterday, "[Iraq] is not a country in anarchy. People are going about their business, they are going about their lives."

Mr. Bremer may want to read the xymphora blog, which has done a nice job of documenting the continued lawlessness and anarchy in Iraq. Bremer is either lying or he doesn't actually get out much.

Valuable Tips for Air Travelers

The Cracked Planet provides some Relaxation Tips for Those Frightened by Flight.

For example:Tip #1: Lean back into your comfortable seat, allowing your head to rest snugly against the soft woven fabric. Screen from your mind any concerns about the other heads that have been in contact with that same piece of fabric during the past 48 hours - the time that adult head lice can survive without a human host. Chances are that none of the recent passengers had a serious infestation of head lice. Even if one or two did, it's by no means certain that head lice were left in the fabric that now contacts the back of your head. And even if a few lice are there, waiting for a warm human head to offer a new meal of blood, the lice may not include any pregnant females ready to lay dozens of eggs ("nits") in your hair. And even if you experience your own infestation, it can probably be eliminated with as few as two treatments of pesticidal shampoo. Remember, the odds are entirely in your favor. Relax!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Department of Homeland Security Used to Track Texas Democrats

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
One federal agency that became involved early on was the Air and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center, based in Riverside, Calif. -- which now falls under the auspices of the Homeland Security Department. (Article)
I wouldn't be surprised to see "representatives" from the Department of Homeland Security at the 2004 presidential elections . . . to protect us from the terrorists, of course. Update: The Bush administration says the use of the DHS was inadvertent, referring, of course, to the fact that they got caught doing it.


"The Terror-o-meter is a small, wall-hung device that displays hourly readings of the world's current state of terror. It contains a small TCP/IP enabled microcontroller which continually analyzes the current state of terror based on the keyword parsing of world event news feeds."

Great Quote

Apparently, Bush administration intelligence is to intelligence as Fox news is to news.
from Enron-Like Unreality. (Via skippy the bush kangaroo)

John Ashcroft knows . . .

The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. (George Orwell, 1984).

The New American asks, "What did we win?"

On April 16th, the Bush administration lowered the national terrorism "threat level" from Orange (high) to Yellow (elevated).... Down-shifting the alert level signaled that our military conquest of Baghdad had reduced the terrorist danger to Americans. Or had it? On April 21st, the State Department issued a warning to Americans overseas that the conclusion of the war in Iraq "may increase the potential threat to U.S. citizens and interest abroad including by terrorist groups.... U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness."

Given that the military conquest of Iraq increased the terrorist danger to Americans, how can it be viewed as a victory in the "war on terrorism"?
(And this was published before the terrorist attack in Riyadh.) Meanwhile, we continue to search for Sadam's chemical and biological weapons. Update: Read New York Times opinion Paths of Glory. "The Iraq war, in particular, did nothing to make America safer — in fact, it did the terrorists a favor."

Will we have better success in Iraq?

Nearly 18 months after American-backed forces ousted the Taliban from power, Afghanistan languishes in a strange limbo between war and peace. Though Washington's efforts have brought a measure of freedom and democracy, many of America's promises about rebuilding Afghanistan have yet to be realized. The Bush administration . . . seriously underestimated the amount of aid it would take to pay for both relief and reconstruction needs. (Article)

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Haven't we killed enough of them?

Evidently not.
United States military forces in Iraq will have the authority to shoot looters on sight. 'They are going to start shooting a few looters so that the word gets around' that assaults on property, the hijacking of automobiles and violent crimes will be dealt with using deadly force. (article)
I wonder if the "shoot-a-few-looters" policy extends to U.S. soldiers and journalists who have stolen property or U.N. workers who loot their cafeteria. I've got a hunch it will only apply to "liberated" Iraqis. What a great message we are sending about how democracy works. Don't arrest them. Don't give them a trial. Shoot them on the spot.

Update: Read Bob Herbert's New York Times opinion Shooting to Kill.

More on media bias

It's an easy argument to follow. Media corporations want to maximize profits. Government regulations can severely impact these profits. Therefore, media corporations will act in a way as to please the current government administration. Paul Krugman writes in this New York Times column:
Through its policy decisions — especially, though not only, decisions involving media regulation — the U.S. government can reward media companies that please it, punish those that don't. This gives private networks an incentive to curry favor with those in power. Yet because the networks aren't government-owned, they aren't subject to the kind of scrutiny faced by the BBC, which must take care not to seem like a tool of the ruling party. So we shouldn't be surprised if America's "independent" television is far more deferential to those in power than the state-run systems in Britain or — for another example — Israel.
Bottom line: If you want the truth, you will need to look outside major U.S. news media.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Exposure to farm chemicals may increase risk of prostate cancer

The May 10, 2003 issue of Science News reports a study from the American Journal of Epidemiology which links on-the-job exposure to certain agricultural chemicals with a 14% increase in the risk of prostate cancer. Additional details can be found in this article. My Take: While the results are shown to be statistically significant, a 14% increase does not seem like a big deal . . . unless you are an environmentalists with an agenda or a tort lawyer.

Iraq: The Land of Liberated Looters

From New York Times article, New U.S. Official Arrives in Iraq to Try to Curb Violence:

The situation in Baghdad and much of Iraq is tumultuous. "Unless we do something in the near future, it is likely to blow up in our face," one American official said. Baghdad is once again becoming a city of almost hourly eruptions of gunfire.


On Sunday black smoke billowed over Baghdad's skyline as looters set fire to the city's former telephone communications center, apparently as a distraction for others who tried to steal cars nearby. On the other side of the city, hundreds of looters, who now range through the city every day, poured into a former palace of Saddam Hussein after American military units decided to vacate it. Criminals are shooting at other criminals, officials said. Families are settling scores, and some Iraqis are just taking potshots at American forces.


From the outset, the task of quickly re-establishing order and civil administration in Iraq was far more daunting that American officials had planned for, they now acknowledge.
I don't see any real incentive for the U.S. to restore order in Iraq. The longer the country is in chaos, the longer we can occupy and control their oil.

Betrayed by the United Nations

We moved to our new position and were ready to occupy it at the appointed time. Up until then, we had no idea where we were or who we were replacing. At 10 o'clock, we began the exchange and suddenly searchlights illuminated our new position and American music blared over loud speakers. Then a voice called out a special "welcome" in English. The speaker identified our division, regiments, and battalions by number and all of our leaders by name.
Read a soldier's account of the Korean War here.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Good Luck

Yesterday, my daughter found a four leaf clover. This is something I have never been able to do. Here is a site dedicated to four leaf clovers.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Amazing Artwork in Wood!

Kerry Shirts maintains this scroll saw web page. The image at the left is made from hundreds of individually cut and stained pieces of wood.

Check out the site for amazing "pictures in wood." Kerry has quite a repertoire, including wildlife, portraits, business logos, mayan art, and religious themes.

One of these days, I'm going to purchase this.

Terrorists are popping up like weeds . . .

Across the southern portions of Afghanistan, where the Taliban found strong support among the rural conservative Pashtun populations, there are definite signs that the Taliban are making a comeback. Some Taliban leaders, such as Salam and Taliban commander Mullah Muhammad Hasan Rehmani, are giving interviews once again. Others are dropping leaflets, calling for a jihad against US forces and against the new Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. Still others are increasingly willing to discuss the secret hierarchy that is directing this jihad and the sources of funding that keep it running.

It's this confidence that undercuts recent assertions by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that major combat operations in Afghanistan are over, and that the focus will now be on reconstruction.
Taliban appears to be regrouped and well-funded, from the Cristian Science Monitor.

Flat Tax In Iraq?

Mark Skousen recently met up with Donald Rumsfeld, and asked him a number of interesting questions.
"Would you favor a flat tax for Iraq---and the United States?" He laughed and said the tax system is the U. S. was incomprehensible and should be replaced. [Skousen comments,] Russia recently adopted a 13% flat tax with excellent success, and there is rumor that Iraq will have one too. Isn't it time for the U. S.?
Read more here.

Friday, May 09, 2003

War is Peace

A Norwegian parliamentarian nominated President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday, praising them for winning the war in Iraq. 'Sometimes it's necessary to use a small and effective war to prevent a much more dangerous war in the future.'
I say we bomb Norway now in order to prevent more ludicrous statements in the future. (Article)

Senate panel votes to lift ban on low-yield nuclear weapons

Low-yield nuclear weapons have warheads of less than five kilotons, or about a third of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II. Combined with precision missiles, low-yield weapons could be used to hit a target without causing as much damage to surrounding areas as other nuclear weapons would.
I'll bet we'll use these when we bomb North Korea . . . for developing nukes. (Article) (Via Thoughtcrimes)

Biometric Passports

Image from LibertyThink. Read more.

One Step at a Time

First they came for the Muslims
  • First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

  • Then they came for the immigrants, detaining them indefinitely solely on the certification of the attorney general, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

  • Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect.

  • Then they came to prosecute non citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen

  • Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced, sneak and peak searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide.

  • Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I no longer participated in any groups.

  • Then they came to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without any charges and without access to lawyers, and I didn't speak up because I would never be arrested.

  • Then they came to institute TIPS Terrorism Information and Prevention System recruiting citizens to spy on other citizens and I didn't speak up because I was afraid.

  • Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it only aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because I didn't speak up.

  • Then they came for me, and by that time, no one was left to speak up.
(Via LibertyThink)

Hooray for Halliburton

The Associated Press reports:
A subsidiary of Halliburton Co. paid a Nigerian tax official $2.4 million in bribes to get favorable tax treatment, the company disclosed in a federal filing.

. . .

Vice President Dick Cheney led the company until August 2000. Wednesday, the Bush administration denied there was any connection between Cheney's former role in running the company and a $76.7 million no-bid contract with the government to extinguish Iraqi oil well fires and help restart Iraq's oil industry.
(Via From the Inside looking Out)

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Serious Resource for Serious Education

ACNE (the American Collage Network for Educators) is a national support group for high school and middle school teachers using that powerful but misunderstood teaching tool, COLLAGE. ACNE is not just for teachers, but for students and parents as well. It brings all of us together to overcome prejudice against collage and to help us better appreciate the wisdom of the teachers who use it most. ACNE also provides networking, mentoring, emotional support, empowerment, and justification for thousands of teachers who face the constant hassle of misinformed parents and students who belittle one of the most powerful education tools ever, COLLAGE.
Read about the American Collage Network for Educators (ACNE).

Assault Weapons

An article in the New York Times reports that Bush supports a ban on "assault weapons." Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman tell us: "The president makes decisions based on what he believes is the right policy for Americans," adding that the ban was put in place as a way of deterring crime. Of course, banning "assault" weapons will do no such thing. This is because (1) less than 1% of gun crimes are committed with "assault" weapons, and (2) criminals tend to not pay attention to the law.

On a related note, my daughter informed me yesterday that they are not allowed to bend paper clips at her school, "because then they are a weapon." I wouldn't be surprised if they find some of these babies in Iraq.

Iran's Nukes

The New York Times reports that "the Bush administration is concerned that Iran has stepped up its covert nuclear program." Meanwhile, "In 2002, President Bush cued LANL to begin developing 'Earth Penetrator' mini-nukes that can be routed underground to blow up bunkers, say, or caves." (Read about this and more the Mother Jones article Fear and Fallout in Los Alamos.)

Freedom and Responsibility

When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. Edith Hamilton.

End World Hunger Now

A lucid (and humorous) way to solve world hunger.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Google to offer blog searching

Google allows people to search Web pages, as well as to search specifictypes of content such as news sources and shopping sites through its Froogle service, Usenet groups. Soon the company will also offer a service for searching Web logs, known as "blogs," Schmidt said.
From this article. (Via Education/Technology - Tim Lauer)

I feel much better now

From New York Times article Pentagon Surveillance Plan Is Described as Less Invasive.
A top Pentagon research official told Congress today that a program intended to forestall terrorism by tapping computer databases - but curbed by legislation this winter because of privacy fears - would not look into Americans' financial or health records.
But they will still be reading your e-mail . . .

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

And what if they really want us out?

So, it's the end of the war in Iraq, is it? If anyone thinks George W Bush could pass that one off aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln last week - "major combat operations have ended" was the expression he used - they should take a closer look at secretary of defence Rumsfeld's speech to US troops in Baghdad a day earlier.

It was filled with all the usual myth-making: the "many" Iraqis who flocked to welcome the Americans on their "liberation" of Baghdad, the "fastest march on a capital in modern military history" (which the Israelis achieved in three days in 1982). But the key line was slipped in at the end.

The Americans, he said, still had "to root out the terrorist networks operating in this country". What? What terrorist networks? And who, one may ask, are behind these mysterious terrorist networks "operating" in Iraq? I have a pretty good idea. They may not actually exist yet. But Donald Rumsfeld knows (and he has been told by US intelligence) that a growing resistance movement to America's occupation is gestating in Iraq.
Read the entire opinion in Stand by for part two of the Iraq war. (Via Eric's Little Portal(et))

On Iraq's Democracy

"It doesn't have to be perfect, all it has to be is representative," an American official said today, adding, "The key word is interim." An elected government would be expected to follow in one to two years, officials said.
Would that be before or after the 2004 elections? (Read the entire New York Times article.)

Looting at the U.N.

Hunger pains can apparently turn even the most upstanding diplomat into a looter. At noon on Friday, food workers at the U.N. headquarters walked off their jobs, calling a wildcat strike. The result: none of the U.N.'s five restaurants and bars was staffed. The walkout left thousands of U.N. employees scrounging for lunch — eventually, the masses stripped the cafeterias of everything, including the silverware.
Read the Time article here.

Why truth matters

Read the column by Nicholas Kristof.
When I raised the Mystery of the Missing W.M.D. recently, hawks fired barrages of reproachful e-mail at me. The gist was: "You *&#*! Who cares if we never find weapons of mass destruction, because we've liberated the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant." But it does matter, enormously, for American credibility. After all, as Ari Fleischer said on April 10 about W.M.D.: "That is what this war was about."
(Via Follow Me Here)

A Press Conferece We'd Like to See

Reporter #1: Mr, Vice-President, How do you think the war is going?

Cheney: I think the war is going well and according to plan. It is only a matter of time before the Anglo-American forces take Baghdad.

Reporter #1: Sir, don't you mean "Coalition" forces?

Cheney: Ummm, yeah....right....what you said.

Reporter #2: Could you explain to us again why we do not want the Iraqis to have chemical weapons?

Cheney: Listen, if I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times...there are good ways to kill people and then there are bad ways to kill people. For example, a cluster bomb....that would be a good way to kill people. The electric chair, also good. JDAM weapons, those are great ways to kill people. But, chemical weapons?....That is a bad way to kill people.


And how are the two related?

Many supply-siders are furious that a popular president, coming off the war in Iraq, is being thwarted in his quest for huge tax cuts by Republicans like Ms. Snowe. The Club for Growth, a conservative group, has run television advertising in Maine asserting that the senator is "standing in the way" of Mr. Bush on the tax cuts, just as the French stood in his way on the war in Iraq.
From New York Times article Bucking Bush, Senator Takes a Thorny Path

Any Safer?

A pithy letter in the May 12, 2003, issus of Time:
The troops are heroes. Saddam has fallen. But one lingering question remains: Do you really feel any safer now that he is gone? The Muslim extremists who had everything to do with 9/11 are still on the loose. Osama bin Laden is free as a bird, and all the American p.r. in the world won't be able to stop al-Qaeda from future terrorist activities. RON LOWE, Nevada City, Calif.

News Quakes

This is a particularly interesting way to track news stories graphically. (Thanks J-Walk Blog.)

Monday, May 05, 2003

Coincidence, Indeed!

In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, one U.S. intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings. But the cause wasn't terrorism — it was to be a simulated accident.
While this information has been around for a while, it is the first I have heard about it. Read the AP story here. Read some extremely interesting commentary here. Let's hope the simulated terrorist events planned the week of May 12 don't produce similar results. (Thanks LibertyThink)

A Positive Story

While I read very few "Great Story" e-mails, I did read and enjoy this short piece, Attitude is Everything.

The Interesting Case of Lynne Stewart

Should we violate lawyer-client confidentiality in order to wage the war on terror? John Ashcroft thinks so, and sends a strong message to attorneys -- don't represent accused terrorists.

In 2000, the government eavesdropped on communications between Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and his attorney, Lynne Stewart. Typically, communication between an attorney and client is privileged, but the government claimed this was done in order to "protect the nation." Two years later, Stewart was charged with four counts of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. If convicted, she faces 40 years in prison.

Read a recent article, an interview with Stewart, and an article critical of Stewart. You can also visit the Justice for Lynne Stewart website.

In an (un)related article, it appears that John Ashcroft has no problem breaking a gag order.

Saturday, May 03, 2003


Wear them for the ones you love.

At least he doesn't need to worry

On the safety of an aircraft carrier 63 miles off the coast of the United States, President Bush declared victory but not and end of the war. Meanwhile, children continue to be killed and maimed by unexploded cluster bombs that the US dropped in civilian-populated areas. I wonder how well George would hold up if he had to live in the chaos-that-is-Iraq since the war. Remember, this is a guy who almost killed himself eating a pretzel.

On Target

During his speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln to congratulate himself, er, the troops for a job well done, President Bush said the following, "Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country and a target of American justice." I was always under the impression that American justice included such safeguards as reasonable doubt, due process, etc. Of course, there is none of this for non-citizens. And even for citizens of the United States, it is no longer a guarantee. So let's just call it Bush Justice from now on.

The results are in . . .

My daughter and I attended the 2003 Wisconsin State Junior Judo Championships and 31st Annual West Bend Wisconsin Invitational Senior Judo Tournament today. She took 2nd in the Girl's Junior <50 lb. division, and had the pleasure of meeting Lynn Roethke, a silver medallist in Judo at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. I took 3rd in the Men's Masters Heavy-weight division, and had the pleasure of jamming my finger.

Library of Congress Hosts Symposium on Scientific Legacy of 9th Century Baghdad

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts at Brigham Young University present "First Renaissance: The Scientific Legacy of 9th Century Baghdad" from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 12, in LJ-119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public.
More information here.

Friday, May 02, 2003

What media bias?

The bottom line is that the media will favor the ones that pay the bills. It has recently come to light that CNN was aware of the atrocious of Saddam's government long ago, but did not report them in order to keep its Baghdad office open. More recently, the Memory Hole reports the case of an MSNBC article that was completely pulled off the its web site. In the pulled article, Bush cited a U.N. Atomic Energy Agency report as saying Iraq was only a few months from having nuclear weapons. The only problem was the the U.N. report said no such thing. And now the MSNBC article has gone the way of the Memory Hole.

Let's broaden our thinking a bit. It's not so much the political ideology that drives the media bias as it is the money behind the political ideology.


I just learned that it is possible to surgically sever the facial nerves that make you blush! Learn this and more in Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream.

A recent conversation

Q: If we care so much about the freedom and safety of oppressed people, why aren't we doing anything in Africa?
A: Uh . . . is something happening in Africa?

This animation captures the sentiment well.

The most devastating infection

With all the recent news about SARS, the Patient Predator in the April 2003 Issue of Mother Jones reminds us that tuberculosis is the world's most devastating infection. "Currently, 8 million people worldwide fall ill with the disease each year and, because only a quarter receive effective treatment, 3 million die." Particularly worrisome is the rise in multi-drug-resistant TB strains.

Is Grandma the next "enemy combatant"?

The April 2003 issues of Mother Jones contains a lucid article on the issues of Jose Padilla and his detainment.
Padilla's case, many legal scholars agree, marks a dramatic escalation of the broad detention powers that the government claimed in the wake of September 11. The White House initially assured Americans that any encroachments on civil liberties would affect only foreign nationals. But the Justice Department later declared that Yaser Esam Hamdi -- a Saudi captured by Northern Alliance forces -- qualified as an enemy combatant, despite the fact that he was born in Louisiana. Unlike Hamdi, however, Padilla's citizenship was never in doubt. And far from being captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan, he was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, after federal agents -- who evidently didn't consider him enough of an immediate threat to prevent him from boarding a plane -- tailed him back from Pakistan.
My Take: Let Padilla have his day in court. If he is guilty of what the government alleges, he will pay for his actions. If not, he can get on with his life. We simply cannot allow even one case of the government stripping Constitutional safeguards from an American.

Highlights from the May 5, 2003 issue of the New American.

Trading Freedom for Security
Recall that throughout history — and particularly in the past century — governments have been by far the primary and most lethal instruments of terror. Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and their fellow dictators have proven the most efficient terrorists.

[The United States has] already allowed an incredible and unprecedented concentration of power, threatening to destroy all constitutional protections. The new Department of Homeland Security and the USA Patriot Act represent an enormous restructuring and centralizing of power.

According to the former [FBI official, Sid Caspersen], red alert can mean a virtual lockdown of all citizens. "You literally are staying home," Caspersen said. He continued: "What we’re saying is, ‘Everybody sit down.’ If you are left standing, you are probably a terrorist.... That’s how we’re going to catch you."
What Can Be Done?

Write or e-mail your senators and representative, urging them to:

1) Oppose Patriot Act II, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (DSEA).

2) Oppose efforts to extend the Patriot Act of 2001 beyond the 2005 sunset provision.

For additional information see the Patriot Act / Patriot Act II Focus area.

For information on how to contact your senators and representative, go to

Bush Regime Playing Cards: Now, why didn't I think of this!

Thursday, May 01, 2003

The REAL Reason

"The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself." —George W. Bush, Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003 (from Political Humor:Bushisms).

Reverse Psychology?

Regarding North Korea's nuclear capabilities, a senior Bush administration official said, "We think they are bluffing." My Take: Oh, I get it. Iraq claims it has no WMDs, inspectors in the country don't find any, and we still take 'em out. North Korea, on the other hand, claims it has nukes, has no inspectors in the country, and we call it a bluff. Am I missing something?