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Index to Krugman posts

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Saturday, June 01, 2002

There's a good Marc Steyn article: Does political correctness kill? [short answer: You betcha]

...After 9/11, the standard line was that Osama bin Laden had pulled off an ingenious plan. But he didn't have to be ingenious, just lucky. And he was luckiest of all in that the obviousness of what was happening paradoxically made investigating it all the more problematic. His agents aren't that smart -- not IRA smart, or Carlos the Jackal smart. According to Woods, the four men boarded with no hand luggage. Not a thing. Not a briefcase, not a Boston Globe. They didn't use their personal headsets, they declined all hospitality, they did nothing but stare ahead to the cockpit and engage in low murmurs in Arabic.

So they weren't masters of disguise, adept at blending into any situation. They weren't like the Nazi spies in war movies, urbane and charming in their unaccented English. It never occurred to them to act natural, eat a salad, listen to Lite Rock Favorites of the Seventies, treat the infidel-whore stewardess like a human being. Everything they did stuck out. But it didn't matter. Because the more they stuck out, the more everyone who mattered was trained to look the other way. In August, 2001, no one at the FBI or FAA or anywhere else wanted to be seen to be noticing funny behaviour by Arabs. Thousands of Americans died, at least in part, because of ethnic squeamishness by federal agencies.

But that was before September 11th. Now we all know better ... don't we?...
[ No way, José ]
Why? Short answer (mine): Because we lack leadership at the top willing to change anything.

Friday, May 31, 2002

Frank Vannerson writes:

Here's a tidbit from the FoxNews site:
'The guidelines will also allow the FBI to investigate certain categories of people and "extends the authority to carry out criminal intelligence investigations of groups involved in terrorism and criminal intelligence investigations of groups that aim to engage in terrorism."

The new mission will also end policies that have undermined investigations in the past.'
Aren't those newspeople supposed to follow the Five W's? Whoozit, Whatzit, whereizit ... something like that...Odd how vague they can be lately.

Also, don't miss Peggy Noonan's article: WEENIES OR MOLES? Did the FBI bungle the Moussaoui investigation--or worse?

* I've been having mysterious e-mail delays. (Perhaps the FBI is falling behind -- it must be quite a chore to read all the world's mail) If you didn't get an answer, try re-sending ... [I just learned that Pacific Bell Internet is having bad e-mail problems. We're working on it] ]
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P. Krugman
#15 -- BONONOMICS: Popular in New York, less so in Uganda...

For years the American left has been looking for a rationale for the estate tax beyond plain old social engineering. According to Paul Krugman in "Heart of Cheapness" (05/31/02) they think they've found it. It's based on anecdotes from the journey of the rock star Bono traveling with Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill through Africa. Despite mounting evidence on all sides that traditional aid does more harm than good, Krugman uses the O'Neill/Bono visit to Uganda to argue that one good use of the estate tax is buying insecticide-treated mosquito nets for central Africa. Honest! That's what he said.

Call it Bononomics!

Even the Africans disagree. Here's a quote from President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. "The biggest request we are making of Western countries is to open their markets. Debt relief has saved us some money, but the real money will come from trade. Give us the opportunities, and we will compete."

Enough said. The following link to a NY Times news article elaborates.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Dan at happyfunpundit has some good thoughts on defense...

...There are too many targets for a central security apparatus to protect, and all the terrorists need to find is the weakest link. You can't win that game. By giving the citizens the tools they need to defend themselves and the training and guidance to show them how to do it, you make every target a little bit 'harder'.

Critical installations still need to be protected by the government, but the rest is our responsibility, and our duty. Our strength is our freedom - we should build on that instead of restricting it...

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

White flags flying at SFSU

banner: love is stronger than hateAfter reading about the recent near-riot, I stopped by San Francisco State University. The only things of interest I saw were the current batch of banners, hanging from many a lamp post. I usually ignore the things -- hanging up banners is the sort of mushy foolishness that bureaucrats and politicians adore because they can pretend to be doing something without taking any risks.

Saying Love is stronger than hate implies that one is on a higher plane than the grubby masses who are subject to squalid emotions. What malarkey. Tough-Love is stronger than hate. If you are lucky.

If their own children were acting like some of these students, they would probably send them to a military school to straighten them out.

I was pleased to see that Warren Hinckle's front-page column in the 5/28 SF Independent is on top of this:

How can the most liberal city in the country have its largest college known as "Hate Jew U."?
[there's a connection Warren, but I won't go into that now]

Jacques Chirac, the president of France, says there is no anti-semitism in France, as the synagogues burn. Robert Corrigan, the president of San Francisco State University, says ditto for his place, while students march around with pictures of Palestinian babies that say they were killed by Jews to drink their blood.

Anyone want to go to the canned laugh track? These denials would be funny if it weren't all so awful.

Nobody can tell the French what to do. But San Francisco State is San Francisco's problem, and there is plenty the city can do about the escalating waves of virulent antisemitism disrupting campus life out at 19th and Holloway...
Hinckle thinks the threat of action by the SFPD may pressure the University...
...The torrent of e-mails— some outraged, some just plain scared—that went to State president Corrigan and other administrators from Jewish students and their parents swayed the administration to make a move by forwarding to the San Francisco district attorney some names of students who might be charged with violating the hate-crime laws.

In typical trimming fashion, the names of both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel students were forwarded, as if there were any question that it was the anti-Israel group that had broken up the pro-Israel peace rally... .
If those banners were honest they would say appeasement is easier...

This blog can only comment on one or two facets of the travesty at SFSU. Other dimensions of this incident and the alarming trends it represents are detailed in the full SFSU Blog Burst Index at Winds of Change.

*UPDATE: Meryll has requested the whole article. I put a copy up here

*UPDATE: I deleted a paragraph that was too much like a general swipe at all Palestinians. I wrote it when in a grumpy mood. That's not really how I feel and I apologize.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

(via Bill Quick) A new drug that will probably save many people from death or paralysis has been developed by an Israeli firm.

There is currently no drug available for the No. 1 cause of death for Americans under the age of 34 - traumatic brain injury. But, later on this year, a drug invented in Israel may save the lives of American brain injury victims when it is used in the United States for the first time as part of a Food and Drug Administration clinical trial.

The drug, known as dexanabinol, was developed by Pharmos, an Israeli company traded on the Nasdaq stock market. The therapy is targeting a major health problem. Every year more than 500,000 people in the United States are hospitalized as a result of traumatic brain injuries. About 50,000 die, while many of the survivors suffer from permanent disabilities.

Given within six hours of a head injury, the drug keeps the brain from swelling up and crushing itself inside the skull and protects unharmed parts of the brain. "Most of the serious damage done to the brain of a TBI victim happens a number of hours after the initial injury," said Dr. Haim Aviv, Pharmos' chief executive officer. "It is during that window of opportunity that dexanabinol acts to halt the damage from spreading."
You can talk about your natural resources, but for my part, I think the best resources a country can have is a whole bunch of Jews. I'm glad we have more than our fair share, and I don't think we should give any to France until they start being more friendly.
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Glenn Reynolds just mentioned that we are going to "pull out of the Philippines." Actually our soldiers were in the Philippines for the annual joint-service exercise called Balikatan or "shoulder to shoulder." It was modified this year, and renamed Operation Freedom Eagle; with our forces helping to fight guerrillas in Mindanao. But it was never expected to be a long-term commitment, and as far as I know the Philippine government hasn't asked us to stay longer.

Philippine law only allows foreign troops by permission of the Senate, which probably won't happen soon. So the "joint service exercise' is a bit of a fudge to evade the law.

There's more here, including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's charming phrase: Isang bala ka lang, "You are only worth one bullet." That might be a good motto for a war on terrorism...

Operation Freedom Eagle-- awkward name, but in Tagalog it's not so bad: Kalayaan-Aguila.
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P. Krugman
#14. The Squad finds Krugy in a delusional state

In "Where’s the Boom" (05/28/02) Paul Krugman presents us with an example of self-delusion enabled by some carefully constructed straw men. Krugman apparently believes that the great majority of business economists last March were engaged in "triumphalist predictions of a roaring recovery." These are the straw men. There may have been a few forecasters of boom, but they were as much in the minority then as Krugman is himself today.

In fact, most economists, business as well as academic and government, spent last winter shaking their heads in disbelief that the fall-out from 9/11 did not lead to a consumer led recession. By the spring they were cautiously predicting an end to the recession and beginning of a recovery. The reasons for their cautiousness were many of the same factors correctly identified by Krugman today. No one can be wrong all the time.

But what Krugman ignores, again and again, (we think he is in denial on the subject) is that the new economy is for real, and that the driving force behind it, growth in labor productivity, held up right through the recession and continues strong today. Those interested can refer back to Squad report #7 (05/03/02) where we first raised this issue.

Productivity growth will be a thorn in Krugman’s side for years to come and we look forward to telling you all about it. No amount of straw men or other diversions can save him.

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Fritz Schranck writes, regarding my Pogo post:

I have a dozen Pogo books, most of which I purchased as a law student at American University in the mid-70s.

I usually managed to have off from school and work on Fridays during the day. On several occasions I'd take the bus to the Georgetown area of DC, buy a Pogo book (or bring one I already had) at one of the local bookstores, and go to a restaurant such as Maison de Crepes, or something like that.

Reading Pogo with a cup of tea and a dessert crepe or two was high living.

I believe reading Pogo helped maintain my sanity during that critical time. I still dip into them on occasion, and use some of the strips' time-honored phrases on occasion (Although I now have to explain "Org" and "Norphan" more often than I'd like).
I hear you. I often think of the Tribe of Invisible Indians, but I don't mention them -- too complicated to explain. (How do we know they existed? Well, bein' invisible, they didn't leave no tracks, right? And to this day, no trace of them has been found !!)
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Monday, May 27, 2002

Open-Source Fight Flares At Pentagon
By Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, May 23, 2002; Page E01

Microsoft Corp. is aggressively lobbying the Pentagon to squelch its growing use of freely distributed computer software and switch to proprietary systems such as those sold by the software giant, according to officials familiar with the campaign.

In what one military source called a "barrage" of contacts with officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency and the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over the past few months, the company said "open source" software threatens security and its intellectual property.

But the effort may have backfired. A May 10 report prepared for the Defense Department concluded that open source often results in more secure, less expensive applications and that, if anything, its use should be expanded.

"Banning open source would have immediate, broad, and strongly negative impacts on the ability of many sensitive and security-focused DOD groups to protect themselves against cyberattacks," said the report, by Mitre Corp...

...Microsoft's push is a new front in a long-running company assault on the open-source movement, which company officials have called "a cancer" and un-American...
A proprietary system sounds better to me -- OS-X comes to mind.
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I lifted this from the Federalist Newsletter:

Many communities will end the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. today by playing Taps. From a friend at the USMA, West Point, comes this brief history of Taps: In July 1862, after the Seven Days battles at Harrison's Landing (near Richmond), Virginia, the wounded Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, General Daniel Butterfield reworked, with his bugler Oliver Wilcox Norton, another bugle call, "Scott Tattoo," to create Taps. He thought that the regular call for Lights Out was too formal. The custom, thus originated, was taken up throughout the Army of the Potomac and finally confirmed by orders. Soon other Union units began using Taps, and even a few Confederate units began using it as well.

After the war, Taps became an official bugle call. Col. James A. Moss, in his Officer's Manual first published in 1911, gives an account of the initial use of Taps at a military funeral: "During the Peninsular Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball's Battery A of the 2nd Artillery was buried at a time when the battery occupied an advanced position concealed in the woods. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave, on account of the proximity of the enemy, and it occurred to Capt. Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the most appropriate ceremony that could be substituted."

Frank Vannerson sent me an interesting example of bias in the NYT:

I suppose there is nothing new or surprising about this example of contrast in reporting, but it still amazes me how the Times reporters can write a feature, front page story and then go out of their way to deliberately "miss" the main point of the story;. Any half awake reader would want to know what the flaws were in those warrent applications. Van Natta, Lewis, et al., dance around the issue for nearly 1500 words.
This from the NY Times: ...The bureau's reluctance to press new applications for national security search warrants stemmed, some officials believe, from an incident late in the Clinton administration.
In the fall of 2000, the seven judges on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington summoned Attorney General Janet Reno to their secure courtroom. The judges, in a letter signed by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth, had complained to her of a serious breach. Misleading affidavits had been submitted to the court, which approves warrants to eavesdrop on people suspected of being foreign agents or international terrorists. At the meeting, Ms. Reno agreed that the problem was serious, the officials said.
All of the flawed affidavits had been submitted by Michael Resnick, the F.B.I. supervisor in charge of coordinating the surveillance operations related to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group. The judges said they would no longer accept applications from Mr. Resnick.
In response, the F.B.I. director at the time, Louis J. Freeh, ordered a broader review of the eavesdropping applications — including those related to Al Qaeda. That review, the officials said, turned up disturbing signs that Al Qaeda applications were also flawed.
For Mr. Resnick, who had been a rising star in the bureau, the complaint from the judges and especially their refusal to have him appear before them again was a blow to his career that angered some of his colleagues. Ms. Reno turned over the complaint to the department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which is still investigating Mr. Resnick...>
The Philadelphia Inquirer, by contrast, nails it in the first paragragh. However, no generalizations are appropriate here since the Inquirer normally is just a PC biased as the Times. This story should be viewed as a fluke.
This from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
WASHINGTON - A top congressman said yesterday that he would examine whether fear of the appearance of racial profiling led the FBI to remove key details from a search-warrant request whose rejection kept the bureau from learning more about a terrorism suspect before Sept. 11.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter J. Goss (R., Fla.) also said he did not think the FBI was capable of the intelligence work needed to combat domestic terrorism.

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Dr Weevil has posted some charming pictures of a small-town Memorial Day parade. I've marched, long ago, with the Boy Scouts in similar parades, though that was in Southern California, which is far less pretty.

San Francisco is so, so global that I'm glad to see that America still exists somewhere. We've been in Maine -- Charlene's Mom was from Skowhegan. I remember talking once with some locals about 'crime in the big city,' and they said 'the biggest crime we have around here is people using their unemployment benefits too long...'
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Michelle Malkin has written a good Memorial Day piece, From Flanders Fields to Roberts Ridge
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A man is as old as his arteries and his interests. If he permits his economic, religious, or social arteries to harden, or loses interest in whatever concerns mankind . . . he will need only six feet of earth.
-- Josephus Daniels

Josephus Daniels was our Secretary of the Navy during the First World War. (The assistant Secretary was the young Franklin D. Roosevelt.) He served ably and made many improvements, but is most famous for General Order 99, of 1914, which strictly prohibited "the use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station." As far as I know that's still in effect.

He was a newspaper editor, and also said, Dullness is the only crime for which an editor ought to be hung.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Macs cost less. This is from an article in MacCentral. The teacher being quoted requested anonymity to avoid ... well, one can guess.

The initial decision to go all Wintel was made without anyone on the school board demanding back-up for the IT director's completely absurd assertion that Mac upkeep costs were "about the same as" Wintel costs for the previous several years, the teacher told MacCentral. No one now is demanding or getting cost factors, he added.

"A big part of the picture is the state's financial self-destruction and the resulting cuts in tech support for the schools," the teacher said. "I have little doubt that it will not be possible to replace failing machines for all teachers in the next few years. Our much vaunted 'enterprise solution' (which never reached the level of providing online grades for parents, etc.) will collapse. E-mail and centralized grading will begin to falter."

Early this year, a single Wintel virus got into the school system's computer system. The consulting company hired by the district was asked to give an estimate for cleaning everything up. Their charge: US$70,000.

"The district, with shrinking funding for everything, decided to clean up the mess itself," the teacher said. "Consequently, dozens of tech people did nothing but clean-up for about a month. That's one virus in the first year of the implementation of the standardization directive. Older Macs still in the system continued to operate perfectly."

Part of the standardization initiative, however, denies Mac users any upgrade of the operating system beyond Mac OS 8.6. The teacher said he had no way of knowing, but suspects that this tends to increase Mac "problems" in the system as new elements are added.
Anyone who follows Macintosh news stories will encounter these sorry tales frequently. Much of the market share of Wintel comes from experts bullying people in the name of standardization and efficiency.

Charlene's little firm has three Wintel machines, networked. They've spent thousands of dollars to solve networking and virus problems, and probably more in wasted time when they might have doing billable work.

At home we have 5 Macs, all on a network. I built the network without any technical assistance, and I've never encountered any software problem I couldn't solve myself. And I'm not an expert, though I'm probably more knowledgeable than average. Our Macs have been, over time, much cheaper than Charlene's Dell machines. [And to forstall the obvious comment, the programs Charlene uses in her work do have Mac versions]

I read recently someones description of how it works in their company: If your computer is acting up, they don't even try to fix it. They give you another machine and take your old one away to have its hard drive wiped & all software reinstalled ! Sounds brutally efficient; but a Mac user sees this kind of thing and thinks of a new version of the country of the blind story: In the Land of Windows everyone is blinded in one eye so that standardization can produce huge cost savings...

The trouble is that every problem in the world ends up supporting a bunch of problem solvers. Would cops support some magic remedy that put an end to crime? Hah! Are computer consultants and IT departments going to recommend machines that rarely need their services? --Two chances, fat and slim.