Monday, December 27, 2004

More Fun With PETA

I recently congratulated Eric Potter's effective smackdown of PETA related anti-fishing nonsense. PETA itself has not responded, but a sympathetic Norfolk womyn name Lacey Mullins has:
As for the dire things that will supposedly come to pass if PETA has its way, why not give it a try and see what happens? I'd bet that if everyone went vegan, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and cancer rates would plummet (bad news for cardiologists and oncologists, but good news for everyone else).
This is classic liberalism. An idealist finds a program that works for herself, and proposes that we all would be better off if we would simply do as she says. Nevermind that this woman probably decries McDonald's for victimizing poor ignorant people unable to manage their diet effectively. Somehow, she would expect that these same ignorant people will, through some epiphany, figure out how to substitute pinto beans for Big Macs as a protein source.
Our waterways would be cleaner without all the fertilizer (i.e. manure) runoff from dairy, hog, and chicken farms.
So, if we eliminate animal farms and replace them with soybean farms, fertilizer runoff will cease? What, pray tell, nourishes the soybeans? And who, by the way, grows the vegan products? Big Food? Wouldn't that simply empower other villains of the left like ConAgra? If not Big Food, must we each grow our own food? Because that would make it tough for me to find time to practice architecture. Not to mention what would become of the urban dwellers. It seems Mr. Potter's prediction of a return to subsistence farming isn't that outlandish after all. It is the obvious outcome of Ms. Mullins ideology.
Endangered whales wouldn't be caught in fishing lines if no one was eating fish (many of which are contaminated with mercury, PCBs, and other toxins).
There you have it. If the world just starts behaving like a good liberal, utopia ensues. Never mind that fish oil has been shown beneficial to the heart (oops, maybe those cardiologists don't need to become veterinarians after all). Never mind that fish farming would eliminate fishing lines just as surely as veganism would. After all, it's not really about saving the whales, it's about controlling the humans.
And maybe, just maybe, deer populations would be better managed with contraceptives than with hunter-friendly programs designed to boost deer populations.
This is my favorite part. How, pray tell, does one introduce "contraception" into a wild deer population? By dumping hormones into their food supply? And what prevents those from spreading into the rest of the environment (and ultimately affecting even the whales)? Maybe we could take the very best hunters and turn them into marksmen charged (and, of course, overseen by the newly-minted Federal Department of Whitetail Fertility) with shooting Bucks in the testicles and Does in the . . . um, well never mind, we'll just concentrate on the Bucks I guess, huh Lacey? Now that would prevent animal suffering.
I say the "animal killers" have had their way long enough. Time to try a kinder, gentler approach.
Unfortunately, Ms. Mullins has no real clue what her kind and gentle approach would mean in a real sense.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Not usually a country fan but.....

I don't own a lot of Country albums in my extremely large eclectic CD collection but I picked up the 50 #1 hits by George Strait and boy did this song hit home since I'm a new Daddy.

by George Strait

I got sent home from school one day with a shiner on my eye.
Fightin' was against the rules and it didn't matter why.
When dad got home I told that story just like I'd rehearsed.
And then stood there on those tremblin' knees and waited for the worst.

And he said, let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
He said, daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen.

When I became a father in the spring of 81
There was no doubt that stubborn boy was just like my father's son.
And when I thought my patience had been tested to the end,
I took my daddy's secret and I passed it on to him.

And he said, let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
He said, daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It';s a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen.

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
He said, daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen.

Of course since I like this song I just became a fundamentalist Christian in Nancy Pelosi's eyes....

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Via Aussie blogger John Ray comes this article offering reflections on America and Christmas by a British correspondant:
But, above all, the annual fuss about taking Christ out of Christmas misses the central point about the holiday season in America. This time of year captures, perhaps better than any other, the defining characteristic of Americans in the modern world - their lack of cynicism and scepticism, their enduring hope and faith in themselves, their country and even the world around them.
Merry Christmas to all my fellow Americans, with particular thoughts to those serving overseas so that we can enjoy this holiday in freedom and safety.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

We Get Letters

I've been laboring on this blog for over a year now without attracting much attention after about 300 posts. Sure, some have noticed: there was a telephone interview with a writer from leftist mag, Tom at Homespun Bloggers asked me to join his group, Interested-Participant has been a welcome mentor, and Moxie added me to her blogroll. Additonally, my Mom and the guy that sits behind me at work became regular readers.

Then along came Cousin Don, who makes a post about pharmaceuticals, and elicits this email:
I recently came across your blog The Shallow End of the Gene Pool, and I think its fabulous! I have nothing wrong with meds (like Vioxx) as long as they list all potential side-effects. I love seeing commercials for allergy meds that say may cause diarrhea. I can breathe but I can't get off the toilet!

My blog has a bunch of regular visitors and I think that some of them would enjoy your blog. What would you think about doing a link exchange? If you'd like to, here is my link A New York
Escorts Confessions
. Please let me know what you think.

Go ahead, follow the link. That's right, she's a call girl from New York!, responding to Don's THIRD FREAKING POST! And signing with hugs and kisses, no less! There's no justice in this world.
In his latest post, Cousin Don makes the case for leaving Iraq immediately, since the country will inevitably fly apart in any case. Inasmuch as any prediction of the future for Iraq is just that, I cannot contradict anything Don says. I would point, however, to a post on this blog, Diary from Baghdad for a little perspective:
The Iraqis have strong bonds between them, in spite of religion or ethnic differences, we all work together, have neighbors from other religions, visit each other and respect our differences. my neighbors are shias, my best friends are Christians and Kurds and I’m Sunni, but we all have good relations between us. I’m afraid of those who are trying hard to tear us a part, for me I don’t think they will succeed but I’m sure they are from outside Iraq, and they want Iraq to separate into several parts or maybe drag it to civil war. In Iraq’s history for the few past hundreds of years we had no problems with each other so I think those terrorists will lose.
The author is a woman and a civil engineer, writing near perfect English, demonstrating why Iraq has more hope of becoming a modern, pluralistic society than any other Arab nation. On the other hand, the following comes from this post by a woman currently serving her eleventh month in Iraq and demonstrates that the success of this operation will be largely up to the Iraqis:
One point we kept coming back to was whether what we are doing here will last. I think that the reason we came to Iraq was valid. When we first got here, I thought it was good to take Saddam out of power, whatever the reason. I saw the people here and the way they live and I believed that coming here to make things better for them was the right thing to do.
I still think it was right to get rid of Saddam, at least for this country and the people. But after being here and interacting with the people and seeing what I have, there’s something that worries me. I truly believe that freedom isn’t free. There isn’t a country in the world that enjoys a high degree of freedoms that hasn’t had to fight for them. Wars are fought for freedom all the time. I don’t think that democracy can take hold anywhere right away, but it can if the people truly want it. From what I’ve seen here, most of the people are not willing to stand up and fight for it.


I was standing in front of a formation taking photos of ING soldiers while an ING general was talking to them. As the general was speaking in Arabic, my interpreter was telling me what he was saying. At one point in the speech, he pointed at me and said, "This American woman came thousands of miles from her family to fight for your freedom, shame on us if we cannot stand up and fight."
This is what these people need to hear.
It's worth spending some time reading both Iraqi and Military blogs to get a perspective not offered by the Main Stream Media.

Should we still be in Iraq?

If I can make just one final point as well, just leading out of something the Prime Minister has just said. He made the point that it was important for the future of the world, for the future of everyone, not just to Iraq. I want to emphasize that. Sometimes people say to me what has this got to do with Britain's security? It has got this to do with Britain's security. If Iraq becomes a stable democratic country and we defeat the terrorism here, which is the same type of terrorism that we face the world over, if we defeat it here we deal it a blow worldwide. If Iraq is a stable and democratic country, that is good for the Middle East and what is good for the Middle East is actually good for the world, including Britain, and that is why it is important for us too. Tony Blair 12-21-2004

THE PRESIDENT: No, it's a very legitimate question, Carl, and I get asked that by family members I meet with -- and people say, how long do you think it will take. And my answer is -- you know, we would like to achieve our objective as quickly as possible. It is our commander -- again -- I can -- the best people that reflect the answer to that question are people like Abizaid and Casey, who are right there on the ground. And they are optimistic and positive about the gains we're making.

Again, I repeat, we're under no illusions that this Iraqi force is not ready to fight. They're -- in toto, there are units that are, and that they believe they'll have a command structure stood up pretty quickly; that the training is intense; that the recruitment is good; the equipping of troops is taking place. So they're optimistic that as soon as possible it can be achieved. But it's -- I'm also wise enough not to give you a specific moment in time because, sure enough, if we don't achieve it, I'll spend the next press conference I have with you answering why we didn't achieve this specific moment. President Bush 12-20-2004

Now I can justify our getting rid of Saddam Hussein and trying to find WMD's. But what are we still doing there. Just what makes us feel like we have to adhere to Colin Powell's line. If you break it , you bought it. Isn't our military supposed to break things and destroy things? Are they really supposed to put things back together aside from their tanks, rifles, helicopters and the like?

If the January Iraqi electrions proceed as scheduled, it is unlikely they will produce a winner who is perceived as legitimate. This is a divided country and has always been a divided country for over 3000 years. The future of Iraq is division. Without a powerful military and/or national police to hold the pieces together it will break apart. Now that military can be ours and we will have troops there for the next 20-40 years. But most likely what will happen it the elections will proceed we will pull the majority of our forces out after the next elections take place a year from then.

Then the country we dissolve in a three way civil war between the Sunnis, the Shi'ites, and the Kurds. The Kurds will seek help from their "brothers" in Turkey, destabilizing one of the few stable Arab countries. Iran will wrest as much control over the Southern Oil fields as possible. And the Sunnis, if they aren't entirely driven out of Iraq into Syria, will be left with the other piece of the pie.

What causes us to believe the Iraqi people want Democracy? As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for the British Empire Iraq wouldn't even exist as Iraq, it probably already would have fractured into two or three countries. What will happen here is exactly what happened to Yugoslavia and to a lesser extent the USSR in the absence of the fascist totalitarian communism.

Now the only question that remains is when this will happen, and when it does happen will it result in a full fledged WWIII.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

PETA Shot Down

A recent Virginian-Pilot letter to the editor by a Norfolk-based PETA employee decrying the practice of fishing on Norfolk bay beaches elicited this smart smackdown from Virginia Beach insurance manager Eric Potter (not available on line, partially reproduced below):
The organization's argument is that animals are "sentient" creatures, capable of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Because humans are also "sentient" animals, suddenly the moral playing field is even and humans lose any right to participate in the food chain. A lion doesn't have a moral right to exploit a zebra, but that doesn't seem to enter into nature's equation. A shark may fish but a man may not?
Having effectively dismantled the "moral equivalence of food" argument, Potter goes on to make the final slapdown:
If PETA has its way we would ban hunting, fishing, beef, pork, and poultry farming, animal-derived clothing, zoos, circuses, animal experimentation in drug, medical, and cosmetic research, and the exploitation of animals as pets and companions.

This would result in a return to that idyllic time when we all scraped a living from the land on "organic" farms, and died early deaths, while a few enlightened individuals governened. We've tried that - it was called serfdom.
OUCH! A well-deserved smack upside the head, well delivered. I anxiously await PETA's comeback.

Overcoming Leftism: A 12-Step Program

Prolific Aussie blogger John Ray has posted a program aimed at curing Lefty thinking.
You might want to make a visit to a military cemetery to better understand that these men and women gave their lives so that you could spew hatred. Otherwise, you would currently be living in a police state that would never let you wear that nasty patchouli oil, let alone speak out against your government.
Good stuff.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hyponatremia and DHMO

Picking up on Don's theme, we need to do an investigation into the detrimental effects of drinking water:
When too much water enters the body's cells, the tissues swell with the excess fluid. Your cells maintain a specific concentration gradient, so excess water outside the cells (the serum) draws sodium from within the cells out into the serum in an attempt to re-establish the necessary concentration. As more water accumulates, the serum sodium concentration drops - a condition known as hyponatremia.
Consider the possibilities. Lawsuits against Big Water could generate money for the government unheard of since, well, the tobacco industry takedown. Why should Merck and others suffer from crushing regulation and oversight, while Deer Park and Poland Spring pedal their wares unmolested, pocketing enormous profits while exploiting people's addiction to their product? And here's a website dedicated to exposing the hidden dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO), a compound found in virtually all bottled as well as tap water:
Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment.
Often used as an industrial solvent, DHMO inhalation can cause death even in small quantities. Maybe this will get McCain on top of this: It has been reported that every major league baseball player has ingested DHMO in an attempt as a performance enhancement supplement!

Operation Ensuring Xmas

Saw this on the morning news:

Help these kids out:

Media Warnings about Sudafed, Benadryl, and Marijuana




Once again, the media now reports if Aleve is taken in massive amounts it results in heart trouble. Obviously, the media feels that we are so dumb we can't even read instructions on a pill bottle.

I'm patiently waiting for this Daily Mirror headline:

"How can 5,000 American journalists be so dumb."

Monday, December 20, 2004

When spell check can't help

I see this malapropism way more often than I should, but it still cracks me up every time. This was a Contractor's question:
Are YKK and Kawneer acceptable window manufacturers under specification section 08520-2.1 as was listed under WEST CHILLER PLANT?
And the architect's response:
Yes. As long as these (or any) manufacturers can meet all of the requirements of the specifications. (Pay particular attention to mutton size requirements).
Just to clear the record:

mut·ton : the flesh of a mature sheep used for food
mun·tin : a strip separating panes of glass in a sash

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Celebrex and Vioxx

Let's talk about those big bad drug companies...

Now with every drug there is a risk/reward issue. The question is always does the risk outweigh the reward. Aspirin for instance thins the blood which helps people with heart trouble but can lead to problems with troublesome bleeding if taken in high doses or by people with bleeding ulcers etc.

Now the Celebrex issue shows that heart attack risk increases when you take the highest recommended dose (400mg) or up to two times the highest recommended dose (800MG). This fact is of course buried in the end of articles that bother to mention it, and others don't even bother to mention it.

Now if you want all the studies to be completed on a drug before it hits the markets then you have to change the way the drug patent process works. Once the patent is filed the clock starts ticking. Typically a drug company gets 5-10 years of a 20 year patent life to have exclusive rights to sell a drug they developed. This does not allow enough time to do long term clinical trials to truly judge the effectiveness vs. safety of a drug.

But then what about all those people who could have benefited from the drug during the time it was being studied for approval.

Sure the drug companies are out to make a profit. But they are also out to help people because if their drugs don't help people who is going to buy them?

Disclaimer - both my wife and I work for drug companies developing therapies and diagnostics for heart and cancer patients. But of course, if the "chicken little" media elite and ambulance chasing litigators have their way, our companies will both go bankrupt and neither of our research projects will ever help any one.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Capt. Richard J. Gannon II

I want to talk about the true cost of this war in Iraq.

Simply put, the true cost is the young men that our country are losing. This April, a fraternity brother of mine from Cornell was killed on the Syrian border. Rick was a lieutenant then, he was promoted posthumously. He went into a house where two of his men were pinned down, and the enemy mortared the house. He died a hero.

But Rick was a hero before he died. At Cornell, he was the scrawny little guy who you looked at and laughed, "Fricking eh, no way is he gonna make it through the Marine Corps." But when Rick was committed to something he was committed for life. Just ask his wife Sally who he met in high school and married after college and his commissioning. Just ask his four kids aged 12, 6, 5,and 2. Three boys and a little girl, who are now without a father. These articles say it better than I can - here, here and here

This was a gentleman, a scholar, and a Marine, and a guy who knew when to cut loose and knew when to get serious. He had a smile that infected everyone, even when his lower lip was packed full of chewing tobacco, which it often was. We all thought the tobacco would kill him, silly us.

So, I'm not gonna lecture about whether I feel the war is just or not. I frankly don't give a damn about semantics. All I care about is that we do everything possible to make sure as many of our boys and young ladies nowadays come home safely. For those poor families who lose husbands, fathers, wives and mothers in this war, I encourage you to give to the Fallen heroes fund.

Rick is lucky because a lot of us knew him and loved him. At least, two or three funds are set-up for his family. Two funds are managed by friends from the Marine Corps and their wives and one by his fraternity brothers.

As for Rick, all I can say is "Thank you for being who you were, and your brothers from Cornell will take care of your family. So take it easy up there and have a beer and a chew with Jesus for us. By the way if you could put in a good word or two for Bogel and Fox it would be appreciated. (that's an inside joke for Rick)"

Progressive Reactionaries

At least since the Presidential Debates I have been intending to write something about how so-called "progressives" have become against change, while "conservatives" are agitating for reform on a variety of issues, including big-ticket ones like Social Security and education. Somehow, I never got around to it, but now I don't have to because Rich Lowry has, in a column about The rise of reactionary liberalism:
"Please, don't change anything." That bids fair to become the liberal slogan for the early 21st century. Who knew government programs circa 2004 would have achieved an equipoise of perfection such that disturbing them in the slightest way would represent liberal heresy? And who would have guessed that "progressives" would become opponents of change so thoroughgoing that they would make Edmund Burke blush?

Reactionary liberalism will be the order of the day in President Bush's second term. Take Social Security. The program was started in the 1930s. Back then, there were 41 workers for every retiree. Now, there are three workers for every retiree. Back then, life expectancy was significantly shorter than its current 78 years. In other words, in 70 years the world has changed, but the structure of Social Security hasn't -- and liberals desperately want to keep it that way.

Never mind that dozens of countries have implemented some version of the Bush-proposed private retirement accounts. "It's just too dangerous" will be the mantra. We don't have the reform acumen of a Kazakhstan! We don't have the risk-taking verve of a Denmark! We don't have the keen governmental competence of a Chile! We don't have the reckless faith in markets of a Sweden! No, no. We are Americans, and all we can manage is a defensive huddle around the status quo.


Why the migration of old-fashioned, status-quo conservatism from right to left? It is partly a function of the current political dynamic. Republicans are on the offensive, so Democrats must play defense. It is also a hangover from recent political history. Conservatives, for decades, have told themselves that "ideas have consequences," and have set about through think tanks, books and magazines to find the best ones. During the period of richest conservative policy ferment, in the 1970s and 1980s, liberals could content themselves with relying on what was an increasingly sclerotic congressional majority. Liberalism was dependent on the fumes of the New Deal and Great Society, which were powerful, but bound to dissipate.
Lowry points out that this dynamic applies to not only a host of social issues, but to foreign policy as well. Worth the read.

New Blogger on Board

Welcome aboard to my cousin Don. We've never met, although I did meet Don's father and older brother many (very many) years ago. We share a last name, both grew up in the Garden State, and our fathers were cousins. That's about all we really know. Don's depth of knowledge and writing prowess should liven things up around here.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Gun Toting Liberal asked a question, to wit, when will I accept that global warming is caused by human activity and join him (or her as the case may be) in advocating the dismantling of modern energy and industrial production called for by Kyoto. A fair question.

  • When sites like this are shown to be irrelevent.

  • When people like Benny Peiser and Richard Lindzen do the same.

  • When someone demonstrates that burning carbohydrates is less harmful than burning hydrocarbons, because I am not giving up natural gas if burning wood turns out to be worse.

  • I am 45 years old, and can remember dire scientific predictions of global cooling. Check out this prediction from 1975:
    “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences.


    (T)he Earth’s average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras – and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. Others regard the cooling as a reversion to the “little ice age” conditions that brought bitter winters to much of Europe and northern America between 1600 and 1900.
    Within less than a generation, so-called "settled science" has reversed 180 degrees from predicting a new ice age to melting ice caps. And scientists in the 70s were no less sure of themselves than today's group, either: "The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it."

    Predictably, these whoa-is-me climatologists had some whacky solutions for which they bemoaned a lack of political support:
    Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
    Oh, yeah, and all the computers are going seize up within minutes of Y2K.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    Finally a Little Action Around Here

    In a comment responding to this post regarding global warming on Mars and questioning if climate change on earth might be from the same source, Gun Toting Liberal had this to say:
    You're right. You're not an astrophysicist. Not that it would matter, since climate science is a completely different field.

    I'm curious. What exactly is your standard of proof? At what point, what needs to happen, before you say, "Maybe all these scientists who devote their life to studying this issue actually know what they are talking about?"

    Not a single peer-reviewed paper has been published contradicting the science of global warming, or claiming there is controversy whether it's not man-made, and all that jazz the energy industry trots out for you.
    Which prompted a lengthy response from my cousin Don. So lengthy, he had to break it into 4 separate comments. There is so much information, I decided to turn it into a complete post. With some modest editing to create hyperlinks, Don wrote:
    Dear Gun-Toting Liberal,

    Well, I'm not an astrophysicist but I do hold a Ph.D. from Cornell University's Lab of Plasma Studies' High Voltage Laboratory. Here's a paper for proof.

    And I think over reacting liberals like yourself whether they be gun toting or not over simplify the global warming argument.

    By the way, I've published peer reviewed papers and let me tell you something about the peer review process. It is used to push agendas, and therefore most contradictory views of the popular hypothesis get supressed. This was even true in my own work, and many of my papers IMHO went from actually saying something significant to pure mush b/c I couldn't get them published w/o toeing the line. And trust me after living on a grad student stipend for a few years you just want to publish and make enough money to buy a used car. Real interesting controversial science is found on the web nowadays for example here, here, and here.

    At those sites you'll find papers and comments in their raw and truest form.

    No denying humans have an effect on the atmosphere (just visit LA and try to breathe), but the amount of the effect is very uncertain. Here is a nice website from Bucknell University that presents a nice "fair and balanced" view of the debate. Here's something else about the sun getting hotter from those un-peer reviewed quacks at NASA

    In addition, last time I checked Galileo, Copernicus, and Kepler were all still correct and Mars and Earth still orbit the same ball of fusion at the center of our solar system.

    Now the fusion reaction in the sun is changing and goes through cycles. Much work is being done on detectors for solar studies.

    So before you go hauling off quoting "facts" that you learned on Oprah, do a little research. All the data is definitely not in and the debate will continue until Fusion, hydrogen power, and solar power come of age.

    Libertarian Ivy League Enginerd
    Well done. I think I should give Cousin Don the keys to the blog so he doesn't have to slum it in the comments section.
    I've long thought of free-market capitalism as the best system for delivering goods and services in an economy. It seems obvious that any system that rewards productivity and innovation while discouraging inefficiency will necessarily produce more goods and services for its participants.

    Until recently, however, I hadn't thought much about why Marxism and other leftwing economic systems like National Socialism (AKA Nazism or Fascism) always have brutality and/or oppression as their chief "side effect." Why has there never existed a benign collective state? Why are capitalist states often forced to limit immigration, while collective states universally must deny emigration?

    Consider this WorldNetDaily article:
    In total, Marxist regimes murdered nearly 110 million people from 1917 to 1987. For perspective on this incredible toll, note that all domestic and foreign wars during the 20th century killed around 35 million. That is, when Marxists control states, Marxism is more deadly then all the wars of the 20th century, including World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
    The article goes on to opine that it is the concentration of unlimited power that causes such atrocities. It seems to me, however, that power is simply the tool by which people are oppressed. Oppression, on the other hand is built-in systemically to any form of collectivism right from the start.

    Consider for a moment Hillary Clinton's attempt at designing a collective system for the delivery of health care in America, analyzed extensively here. Take a moment to read the whole thing. One of the hallmarks of her plan was that both a doctor providing, and a patient receiving, health care outside of her system would be guilty of a crime. And, one imagines, subject to arrest and imprisonment. Here's a collective economic system, designed by a panel of Americans, that had oppression of dissent anticipated even before its implementation; indeed as an integral part of its implementation.

    And therein lies the nugget of why collectivism must, almost by definition, be oppressive. Anyone acting outside the economic collective necessarily undermines it and must be stopped. It is not such a stretch to imagine how this systemic demand for oppression coupled with the tool of unchecked power easily creates atrocities like the Soviet gulag, the Cambodian killing fields, or gassing of the Kurds in Saddam's Iraq.

    I know I am not treading any virgin soil here, nor coming to any particularly subtle or nuanced conclusions, but I started this blog chiefly to challenge myself to think about a wider array of things rather than to inform the world, so blog I shall.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    End Social Security Now

    Star Parker has some excellent thoughts on why simply "reforming" Social Security is a bad idea:
    If this seems radical, I'll ask one question. If Social Security did not exist, and we attempted to enact today a system like we currently have, would it pass? The answer is unquestionably no. There is no way that any working American would agree to turn over to the government 12.4 percent of his or her paycheck in exchange for a benefit that has no guarantee, on which ownership has been relinquished and that is less than what could be obtained by buying risk-free government bonds. No way. Zero chance.

    If no working American in his or her right mind would buy into Social Security today if there were a choice, then what does it mean, in our supposedly free society, that there is not a single politician who will openly discuss giving us the option to get out? What it means is that Social Security reform, as currently discussed, is focused on bailing out politicians and not American citizens. When politicians tell us that they are dedicated to "saving Social Security," they are telling us that they know the system no longer works, but they don't have the courage to end it. They are telling us they don't want to do the hard work of figuring out how to meet obligations to those who have already paid in and allow working Americans the option to exit from a very bad deal.
    I know I will never see the end of Social Security, but I hope someone buries it before too many more generations hand over so much wealth to the politicians for so little in return.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    Christmas 2004

    After Thanksgiving, when it became time to put up our Christmas tree, it was evident to both of us that we just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for dragging our 10-year-old boring little tree and glass-ball ornaments out of the attic yet again. This year we decided it was time for something new, something different. We searched at garden shops, big-box megastores, Christmas shops, everywhere we could think of.

    Then, while shopping for shoes at Dillard's, there it was. We knew we had to have it:

    After barely five minutes, the four-piece prelighted five foot fir palm tree was up! Remembering some ornaments we had seen at a Christmas shop, we raced out and soon they were on our tree:

    Beach chairs, flip-flops, life preservers. It is festive indeed. There is even a Santa in a hula skirt. Now if we can just find some tiny little Corona bottles, we can pop Kenny Chesney's All I Want For Christmas is a Real Good Tan and we'll be all set.

    If Liberals Ran the Military

    Shamelessly stolen from BlameBush!

    Thursday, December 09, 2004

    Rummy was set up

    Via Rush and Drudge comes this memo from Edward Pitts of the Chattanooga Free Press:
    I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
    So at an event intended for the troops and not the press, the biggest news came from a question set up by a reporter, who then made sure his question was selected. This is creating news, not reporting it. The memo, which has been leaked and was not intended for the public, goes on to suggest why Pitts was so hopped up about armored vehicles.
    I have been trying to get this story out for weeks - as soon as I foud [sic] out I would be on an unarmored truck . . .
    A real selfless humanitarian, that Edward Pitts. He didn't consider armor (or lack thereof) a story until it affected him.Then he fabricated a news event and made sure it was covered nationwide. And he calls it his "best days as a journalist."

    Now we're supposed to worry about this too

    Think about this next time your sitting in the airport knocking out a few memos between flights:
    Businessmen and teenage boys could be risking their fertility by using laptop computers, research suggests.
    The combination of heat generated by the computers and the posture needed to balance the equipment on the lap leads to raised temperatures around the scrotum, a study has found. Past research shows that higher scrotal temperatures can damage sperm and affect fertility.


    “The body needs to maintain a proper testicular temperature for normal sperm production and development,” Dr Sheynkin said. “Portable computers in a laptop position produce scrotal hyperthermia by both the direct heating effect of the computer and the sitting position necessary to balance the computer.”
    I wonder if they had both boxer and brief control groups.

    Via Boortz

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

    My wife arrived at work today (she works on a rehab unit in a local hospital) to discover that someone had formed figure-eights out of clumps of long hair and taped them to the grid intersections of the ceiling tiles.

    Not just one or two clumps, either. They are apparently all over the unit. In offices. Down the corridor. In patients rooms. Everywhere.

    The staff is completely wigged out, fearing some sort of voodoo spell. Some have gone as far as requesting that a chaplain be called in to pray over the hair. For her part, my wife is laughing her butt off about the whole thing (although I got the distinct impression she would be happier if the several clumps she found in her office were taken down.) It sure makes my little job seem a bit boring by comparison.

    Meteorologist goes out on a limb

    This article from our local Virginian-Pilot outlines predictions by a Colorado State professor of atmospheric science for next year's hurricane season. It's the usual pabulum: 11 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes, blah, blah, blah, who really knows. The truly remarkable part is this bold prediction:
    Another headache of a hurricane season may be on the horizon for 2005. The country’s top hurricane forecaster believes that at least one major storm will roll ashore along the coast, somewhere between Texas and New England.
    Whoa! Now there's some information we can use! One major storm will hit somewhere along a stretch of many thousands of miles, just like every freaking summer. Anyone living between Bar Harbor and Galveston (or expecting to next summer), start your evacuation planning now and beat the rush.

    Monday, December 06, 2004 Awards 2004

    Junk Science has posted their Top Ten “Most Embarrassing Moments” of 2004.

    Suppression of research results, personal enrichment, bustier-clad lawyers, political correctness, and downright lying. All in the name of (or in spite of) science.

    Global Warming Crisis

    The Denver Post reports on the Martian global warming problem:
    Michael Malin, president of Malin Space Science Systems, talked about gullies that may have been sculpted recently by liquid water; evidence of ancient seas; and the discovery that the planet's south polar cap of dry ice is losing weight.

    "Mars is experiencing global warming," Malin said. "And we don't know why."
    Hmmm. Mars is warming up. But we don't know why. Earth is also warming up (allegedly). And the left claims it is our fault. So we must dismantle our entire industrial economy, since that is certainly the cause.

    I'm clearly no astrophysicist, but wouldn't it make sense to ascertain if Mars and Earth are warming up for the same reasons, (as they both orbit the same source of energy) before we tear down the infrastructure that has created the best standard of living in the history of mankind?

    Hat tip: Cousin Don (#97)

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    Oh, Brother

    From the Boca Raton news comes this inanity:
    Twenty John Kerry supporters met for their first group therapy session in
    South Florida Thursday, screaming epithets at President Bush as they shared their emotions with licensed mental health counselors.


    “I’m scared,” said one man. “Democracy is at stake and nobody is rising to protest this president.” “I want to be a patriot, but it’s impossible to be a patriot in an immoral
    war,” said another participant, a woman. “Bush is breaking up marriages and dividing families by keeping our troops in Iraq.”
    Democracy's at stake? How does holding an election threaten democracy? Marriages are breaking up? What a bunch of silly narcissists.

    The article goes on to point out that one of the "counselors" is also a so-called practicing psychic. Only in a country of such wealth would people have the time and resources to spend on group therapy with a practicing psychic to help them get over an election loss.

    My Soldier Program

    Well this certainly seems like a worthywhile idea:
    My Soldier is a program that puts politics aside and lets U.S. soldiers know that someone back home cares. When a person enrolls in the My Soldier program, they agree to adopt a soldier. They receive a “starter kit” containing guidelines for letter writing and care package preparation, a red My Soldier bracelet, and a specially designed My Soldier baseball hat to include with the first letter they send to their deployed United States Armed Serviceperson. The first letter/care package they send is addressed to their soldier's platoon contact who then distributes it to their soldier. The soldier then replies and direct correspondence begins (about 80% of soldiers respond, but 100% appreciate getting the letters). The program is free.
    "My Soldier" is the brainchild of Juan Salas, an Army Sergeant who served two years in Iraq. Anyone with the time an motivation to do so should sign up now.