Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina, bringing us together . . .

For about the last fifteen or twenty years, there has been a lot of divisive, stupid talk coming from the loony left and Move-On types, the pinch-faced right, the socialists, the tax-and-spend liberals, hell, tax- and-spend Republicans, environmentalists, social workers, self-improvement nuts, modern Luddites, rap "artists", evangelicals, vegetarians, news anchors, professional ath-a-letes, animal activists, green weenies, country-clubbers, people of various tints and shades, gang-bangers, university professors, stand-up comedians, bloggers, and celebrity good-looking morons of several different genders only a few of which have been determined, plus people so hateful no group will have them.

But it's okay.

We will work together no matter what over Katrina '05. Sure, it will take a few years to get things moving again. But it isn't as if we will have to stay all together, forever.

I'll let you know when its okay to go back to normal. Watch for my signal. When I pat my head and rub my tummy, y'all can start blaming one another for everything again.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Meeting with the families of the fallen . . .

I never heard of a president doing this before. Wonder if they did, and we just didn't hear about it?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Coffee is good for you, now?

Coffee is high in anti-oxidants? Okay guys, if coffee all of a sudden becomes a health food, can tobacco be far behind?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Living with the troops. . .

Read Michael Yon's post of 8/25/05. Notice, first, that here's a reporter who will grab a rifle when necessary. Second, we are apparently dealing with "catch-and-release" jihadists in Iraq, due to some policy decisions which end up getting our own guys shot. Third, we have an ethical and humanitarian sense that the other side lacks.

This is pretty impressive material and it is not fictional. There are photos.

For myself, I'll be checking back on this blog from time to time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mark Steyn on 9-11 commission . . .

Take a quick read of Mark Steyn's take on the 9-11 commission. I think he is probably asking the right questions.

To the latrines with them . . .

Ayn Rand was probably some sort of a nutcase, but she identified these people pretty accurately in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

The advice received from around the world is that we should downplay America in the World Trade Center memorial of the atrocity of 9-11, and focus more attention on the American repression that came after.

We probably will, and that will make the ground doubly afflicted with atrocity, first by the savage throwbacks who destroyed the place, and once again by the self-aggrandizing weasels who have continuously enabled and excused terrorism as a legitimate cultural expression, and condemned American's feeble attempts to protect democratic and capitalist cultural values.

Too bad we don't still have latrines. Because if we did, we'd at least have someplace warm to put these people.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pat Robertson, talking tough . . .

It's hard for me to remember but I'm pretty sure that assasination is one of those "Thou Shalt Nots." Evidently I'm not the only one who is a little uncertain of all the ins and outs of those ten commandment thingies, when it comes to politics.

On the other hand, I bet there would be fewer genuine mourners than the proposed decedent might expect.

Klinger's Long Tail . . .

Klinger refers to the name of the writer, and the Long Tail is the name of the phenomenon he describes, here. I think he's accurately described the problem, but his solution is a little far-fetched and would require a radical rewrite of the U.S.Constitution.

A number of years ago it was intellectually fashionable to think in terms of the electronic village, and I think Mr. Klinger hearkens back to that notion -- technology permits us to construct ad hoc social structures independent of geography, replacing the old, geographic villages. Calling it some sort of new federalism merely packages the electronic village idea a little differently. In other words, the outdated approach is based on geography, but technology permits us to ignore geography and exploit affinity.

Nonsense. It hasn't happened and it probably won't happen. We don't ignore geography. The problem with this "solution" is that one gets captured by the metaphor - the electronic village - and sees the boundaries of the metaphor, the environment of imagination, instead of the actual environment. It's an appealling metaphor, but wrong.

On the other hand, I think that new affinities are emerging, which are fracturing old, political party thinking. Less and less are we considering issues and information, and even the personality of politicians, and more and more we are making political choices based on affinities. I think the better metaphor, but still a metaphor, is electronic tribalism. We vote, not with a party, but with our tribe. I think we saw that in the last election. It no longer matters much what Bush or Kerry say or do. For many voters, what mattered more was what "our" people said about the positions of the candidates, than what the candidates said their positions were. We voted, not so much for one of the candidates, but more to place ourselves in terms of identity with and opposition to others. So, we had Democrats, Republicans, socialists, liberals, religious rightists, and economic hardliners voting, but we also had people voting simply on the basis that they weren't blue state types, or red state types.

I think the thinkers on the left appreciated the new tribalism and attempted to exploit it by leftist rhetoric. But they failed to win, so they will "learn their lesson" and try to run somebody who will appeal to "the middle," which will represent a return to the political spectrum metaphor that no longer, in my opinion, describes how Americans think politically.

The challenge, for politicians, is to come up with a strategy that permits them to appeal to the largest tribes, or else to come up with an issue that will transcend tribalism.

Right now, I can only imagine one such issue -- national security.

So, my message to the politicians is, good luck little fellers. And my message to the electorate, my tribe, is, let's keep them guessing, it's good when they're confused.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Best movie line ever. . . .

Sondrak has posted her nomination for the best movie line ever, here, by Bob Hope, obviously many years ago..

Sorry 'bout that to all my friends and relatives who will take issue with the sentiments, but dammit, it made me laugh.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Vioxx verdict - what would a debtor in possession do? . . .

$253 million, mostly in punitive damages, in the jury award on the lawsuit against Merck for Vioxx. And there will be many more trials to come. Of course, with a verdict this large chances are good that the prospective jurors in the later cases will have heard of it. Who knows how that plays out, but my feeling is that high verdicts will engender more high verdicts.

I say, file for Chapter 11 and let the the personal injury claimants all bring their injury claims into one court. That eliminates the spector of death by a thousand nibbles as suits are filed by all and sundry in jurisdictions large and small.

Let all the "real" creditors help out the debtor in making the plan. I figure that a debtor in possession, acting in a fashion that courts and woos the other creditors, can cobble up a plan for the court and that plan could accommodate any jury ambitions to "send a message," by putting all such claims into one separate classification, described as unsecured claimants with injury and punitive damage claims. You know, the one where punitive damages will be stuffed way down on the bottom of the list of important claims to pay, with the ugliest of unsecured creditors enjoying no kind of priority or regard.

Despite the fact that I've been a plaintiff's attorney and despite the fact that I think the drug companies are generally not the sort of people one would welcome into one's family or social club, I don't see why attorney's contingent fees -- the major motivation in these kind of cases -- should be settled in a fashion which wastes shareholders' equity and puts payment of legitimate claimants at risk, and might quite possibly depress the equities market -- and doesn't even do all that much good for the plaintiffs.

We need a sense of proportion and balance. If one must choose between greedy trial attorneys and greedy drug companies, I say, let's favor the shareholders and business creditors.

Protest as madness and madness as truth . . .

Horsefeathers calls it madness, but Lionel Trilling put him up to it. It's worth a read but I haven't made up my mind whether it makes sense or not.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Able Danger . . .

This story has been floating around the internet for a few weeks, but the regular news is starting to pick up on it, especially since now a whistle blower is coming forth. It looks more and more like the story is true -- that the government had information about M. Atta -- one of the main suiciders in the September 11 attack -- and others. The attempt to pass on the information to the F.B.I. was blocked, so the F.B.I. never had a chance at moving on the information before we were attacked at all.

You have to ask why the information was bottled up in one part of the government where nothing could be done. It appears it was a matter of policy, and a particularly over-legalistic approach to protecting "rights" of visa'd foreigners. Moreover, the protection was probably over-zealous at that.

The trail of responsibility seems to point directly towards Jaimie (sp?) Gorelick, who was the architect of a procedural wall which resulted in a shameful lack of security and resulting death in the twin towers.

By odd coincidence, Ms. Gorelick participated in the 9-11 commission tasked with assessing security in light of 9-11. This is consistent with earlier reports I remember from somewhere that some field agents wanted to check out suspects' hard drives, pre 911, on suspicion that terrorism was a-brewin' but were likewise prevented from doing so by Gorelick's wall separating security from criminal functions.

Oh, and this makes Sandy Berger's foray into top secret documents a little bit more suspicious, does it not? Might there have been some ulterior motive for preventing security threat information about foreigners from being delivered to the F.B.I.? Like Chinese campaign contributions.?

I'm just asking, but this smells like there might be a whole lot more in there somewhere that we aren't hearing about. I'd rather learn that this is just noise and I've been infected with a little paranoia.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Realpolitik in Gaza . . .

Israeli troops dragging Israelis out of their homes in Gaza, so as to turn Gaza over to the Palestinians. Way to go. That will teach terrorists that terrorism is not an effective path to increasing bargaining power. I'm sure all the savage terrorists, whether clean or dirty, will all just be stumbling all over themselves in an effort to become sweet and mild and tolerant of all others.

Yeah, that will happen.

Or maybe if the terrorists keep up the pressure Sharon will tear down the wall and then lead the march of all Israelis, with aid of the defense forces, to throw themselves into the sea and perish forever -- consistent with the terrorists' final demand.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Look at what those crazy Iranians are doing now . . .

All the news being reported about Iran is about how the Iranians are running spoiler operations, and worse, in Iraq, and about how Iran intends to build atomic bombs. It looks like the mad mullahs are unstoppable, and the interjection of western values, democratic processes, and capitalistic growth-curves are impossible, right?

Well, take a look at this. They are building automobiles, and not just hosting somebody else's assembly plant.

Could we be seeing the skinny end of the wedge of a moderating movement, here? You know, modern, easy materiality in place of 11th century type struggle for a creed of religious domination.

Maybe someday soon modern Persians will consider that sporting a "What Would Allah Do?" bumper sticker on the old SUV, to be a sufficient exercise of relgious devotion.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A message for Cindy Sheehan . . .

Cindy Sheehan, in a mother's pain, asks why her son died. Short answer: he was a grown man who volunteered for danger for reasons which were sufficient to himself. Long Answer: Find it here.

This is worth a read. I couldn't speak with his authority or authenticity -- but I understand.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Weird and spooky . . .

Christopher Walken has made a career for himself using his ability to act weird and spooky. It was all preparation for this, which is truly weird and spooky. Don't be afraid; click it. I'll wait.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mullahs with fingers on the launch button . . .

At an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil reserves, Iran was once thought to be the fifth largest producer of oil in the world. Now, they've discovered a previously unknown bonanza of oil in Iran, estimated to be another 38 billion barrels of oil.

The mad mullahs are swimming in the oil wealth.

Having this much oil available, you can see why Iran needs to restart its nuclear enrichment program make enough nuclear fuel to support nuclear power plants -- purely for peaceful purposes of course.

What other explanation could there be?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Religion of peace. Got it. . .

This is the sort of thing we are up against.

Weak corporate directors . . .

Hey, I've been complaining about this for years. My wife just nods and doesn't pay attention because she's heard it before. If I mention the subject in a class dealing with corporations, the class just nods and tries to pretend that they are interested. (Bless their hearts, one and all.) I was starting to think I was a crank on the subject.

Weak Boards of Directors are screwing the shareholders when they give in to the exorbitant salary demands of corporate presidents. Especially when they screw up. There needs to be a little shareholder rebelliousness interjected into the annual meetings. And why isn't there any? Because institutional shareholders, like pension funds and mutual funds and the like, are managed by people who don't conceive of themselves as shareholders who are being screwed out of money. They should. And let me tell you what. If a few major institutionals dump shares in a noisy fashion in response to International Belchanburp, Inc.'s new salary agreement with the president to pay $12,000,000, plus double that in stock options, with a $140,000,000 golden parachute, I think that people would take notice.

Now that somebody else is complaining, well, I don't feel like a crank after all.

Now, can I get any love on the proposition that the majority of bankruptcy abuse occurs in Chapter 11 filings?

Oh, Yeah. When I think of culture, I think of the United Nations and UNESCO . . .

The Afgan government has a little something in the works. Remember when the Taliban blew to pieces some Buddhas carved out of stone in the cliffs? You know - destroy culture and art and icons all at the same time, a triple hat trick for the mullahs, and an intentional act of defiance to the whole world.

The Afgan government has worked out a deal whereby light images of the Buddhas could be projected on the cliff walls in the place where the statues used to be, using lasers. Not as good as the real thing, of course, but at least it would be a little something like they once had. Bittersweet.

But wait a minute. Before the Afgans can go through with their plan, they have to get permission from the United Nations, which must first make up its mind if shining laser lights on the cliffs will harm the cliffs in any way, because we are all so very sensitive about that sort of thing.

Hey. The Taliban didn't ask for permission. And when the Afgans did, permission should have been granted instantly. Even a moment's hesitation is shameful.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right . . .

I have an idea why the Islamists hate us; they are taught to hate us by their religious teachers. But why do our own liberals and leftists hate us? Because it looks as if they truly do.

Instapundit has pointed us to an interesting theory on an interesting blog. Fascists on the left and fascists on the right naturally support one another because each supplies a behavioral quality that the other has in short supply. In other words, there's a psychological explanation for their mutual support.

Makes me feel kind of slow witted, as I just thought of them as either the stupid, hateful leftists or the uncivilized, hateful murderers, and I thought the psychology of the whole thing was not all that important. Whether we understand the psychology or not, we are under attack and must either fight back and win, or capitulate. Capitulation means eventually being absorbed into the caliphate as dhimmi. That's where the Islamists intend to take us and that's where the leftists, by undercutting efforts to fight back, will take us.

But a thought intrudes. The West is very, very powerful and only is weakened by its own choices of cultural restraints. Those restraints can be cast off easily; we've done it before (Dresden, Hiroshima). Notice that our British cousins are beginning to think a little differently about their own unassimilated Muslim jihadists, now that they've seen some terrorism first hand. (Fit in or f--- off. Thanks Kim Du Toit.) What happens, if, or perhaps when, there is another significant terrorist strike here in the U.S.? If, or perhaps when, we were to cast off our restraints, isn't it just possible that we would deal harshly with those who live here and advocate murderous jihad, even if they don't actively participate? And isn't it just possible that we would likewise deal more harshly with the murderous jihadists' U.S. apologists -- the academic, media, and casual leftists? (I hope and if I were the praying type I would pray, that all of the kind and respectable Muslims I've met, and those I haven't met, will be kept safe and distinct from the jihadists, if the U.S. gets serious about this fight.)

And well, shucks, lookie what we have here. If we think about punishing our leftists for doing the things they are doing, maybe we should consider that they are intentionally doing what they are doing mostly in order to be punished. In other words, maybe their motivations and rhetoric are masochistic, at that. And in even other, other words, maybe the psychological approach found at Neo-Neocon, the site that Instapundit found for us, is right.

Okay, boys and girls. The conclusion is inescapable. If, indeed, our leftists are masochists, then you should smack one every chance you get. Start now. They'll thank you for it.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Road of Bones . . .

You might be interested. Wretchard writes about Uncle Joe Stalin's plans, extermination of bothersome elements of the U.S.S.R.'s population, and the willingness of the New York Times and its devout subscribers to believe the baldest of lies -- that socialism under the U.S.S.R. provided a model for a better way to live. The result, of course, that a whole generation of "intellectuals" were infected with memes that continue to be expressed, now, in the anti-Americanism of the leftists of Europe and the U.S.

Wretchard implies a modern parallel, I think, in the stubborn belief of many journalists and professors that efforts to fight radical Jihad are viciously uncivilized. They argue from the ideal -- Islam is a religion of peace -- rather than look at the conduct of the jihadists. It's the same thing, idealizing socialism and idealizing Islam, by the same people, the New York Times, et. al., directed against the same people, us.

There are some good comments at the end as well. Go to the comments and scroll away.

Two sides of the same coin . . .

Here's an allegation from an unsurprising source. Thanks for diggin this up, LGF.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki. . .

Here's a perspective you don't see often, from a source that seems, at first, even more unlikely. The bomb saved both American and Japanese lives. Thanks for digging it up, JYD.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The redemption of Bob Novak . . .

Okay, so CNN is mad at Bob Novak for walking off the set in disgust in the middle of a broadcast. Well, I've never thought much of Bob Novak; I think he is somewhat of a poseur. But . . .

But he did walk off the set in response to James Carville's antics. And I guarantee you that Novak simply did what every single person who has ever been on a broadcast with James Carville wanted to do with all his heart. Go away before you smack him in front of witnesses.

Carville must have grown up funny. Usually, when a mean little kid starts displaying tendencies of meaness, the older boys in the neighborhood teach him some manners in a direct fashion. There must not have been any older boys around to teach him how to behave.

It's not too late.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Walternative ways to save energy . . .

Congress recently decided to add on some more daylight saving time, all in an effort to save energy. They are on the right track but they didn't go far enough. I blame Bush.

But nevertheless, there is now a precedent for jiggering the clock and calendar for energy savings.

Here's what should be done. Pass a law that provides that we will only have four weeks of winter -- I pretty much get sick of winter after a month of it anyway. (And I tried snowboarding that one time and digging snow out of my pants stopped being a novelty real quick.) Then pass a law that we will only have summer in August. All the rest of the months will be renamed either Spring or Autumn and would consequently be mild and temperate, greatly reducing the need for energy to heat and cool our houses. Also, having fewer months would make it a lot easier to remember what month it is, which is sometimes a challenge.

Plus, it would probably perturb off the French, and we'd have that going for us right there.

As far as I can tell, my plan is flawless all the way round -- for a U.S. Congressman. We could probably get this passed if we'd tack on a little pork appropriations for the folks at home.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Faster DNA sequencing . . .

This article points out that with increasingly faster DNA sequencing, we might be about to see knowledge and applications in biology progress at the same kinds of speeds that we've seen in electronics in the recent past. (It really isn't all that long ago that we saw the first commercial application of a transister -- when a transister had solder leads.)

Shoot. Already I don't understand most of the technological stuff I routinely use. We might be soon be seeing the solution to the problem of the common cold. And next, after viruses, maybe they will work on moods and attitudes. Or did they already do that and didn't tell me?

And how soon before you run to Best Buy or Costco to buy a DNA sequencer?