Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise
-- Golden Gate Bridge at dawn. By Dennis Callahan.

RANDOM JOTTINGS a weblog by John Weidner

Main Page Archive

Natalie Solent
Dave Trowbridge
Betsy Newmark
Bill Quick
Suman Palit
Moira Breen
Andrea Harris
Richard Bennett
Iain Murray
Joanne Jacobs
Craig Schamp
Dean Esmay
Brothers Judd
Doctor Frank
Rand Simberg
Punning Pundit
Right Wing News
Brian Tiemann
Henry Hanks

Iraqi Democracy graphic

Powered by Blogger Pro™

Index to Krugman posts

Index to World War One posts


Saturday, September 28, 2002

Aflatoxin, not to worry ...

Regarding my Sept. 22 post, a reader kindly sent this link about Aflatoxin. It seems that, while it can be dangerous, the quantities needed to be toxic to humans are ludicrously large, (about a million times larger than botulinum toxin) and so it poses no real threat. Iraq has admitted producing it, and it is speculated that their weapons people produced it because it is easy to make and would fulfill some production goal. (Before we call off the war, we should turn the figures around and reflect that a deadly botulinum toxin dose is one-million times smaller. And a deadly dose of Anthrax is smaller yet.)

Makes me wonder. Aflatoxin is very carcinogenic in rats (but not in various other animals) and maybe some Iraqi scientist who didn't really want to be making poisons showed his superiors a bunch of rats he'd given cancer to, and convinced them aflatoxin was a super-terror weapon...

Thursday, September 26, 2002

P. Krugman
#44: Weasel Words

We are no more competent to comment on "White Man's Burden" (09/24/02) than Paul Krugman was to write it. He has a track record, however, and until proven otherwise, we will assume he is distorting and perverting history to serve his current partisan interests. Enough said on this.

However, the final section of the column, when he returns to the subject of Halliburton, is a perfect example of this sort of perverseness. Apparently the Squad was not alone in calling him on the use of "confiscate" to describe changes in former employees pension benefits. Halliburton objected also. So in typical Krugman fashion he changes the subject to one of legality and then piously notes that he never said the changes were illegal. Then in another Krugmanism he uses an unnamed third party reference to lable the pension changes "scandalous." Thus he has weasled out of "confiscate", evolved to "scandalous" without ever acknowledging correcting himself.

A piece of work!

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions.]

Monday, September 23, 2002

from the book of Jonah...

 Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it, where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city. And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant, that grew up over Jonah's head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was very happy over the plant. But the next morning at dawn God sent a worm which attacked the plant, so that it withered. And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind; and sun beat upon Jonah's head till he became faint. Then he asked for death, saying, "I would be better off dead than alive."

But God said to Jonah, "Have you reason to be angry over the plant?" "I have reason to be angry," Jonah answered, "angry enough to die." Then the LORD said, "You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise, it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left ...?"

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Question for OS-X users...

For e-mail I'm a long-time Eudora fan. But I've been playing with the program Mail that's included with OS-X, because it's supposed to have a world-beating spam filter. And it does! Without my entering any rules yet, it's highlighting spam with almost 100% accuracy. I'm stunned. This could change the world. Or at least save me a lot of time.

The only problem is, I can't figure out how to tell the program to put the junk mail in the junk folder automatically. Anybody know? Trying to search for info using the term Mail is rather frustrating. They should have called it Welty or something. And while I would give Apple an A+ for software, for documentation I would have to award a somewhat less than passing grade.

*Ooops, there it is, plain as day, under the Mail menu. I'm blind.

But the spam-filter still looks like a world-beater. Worth the cost of the OS-X 10.2 upgrade by itself. I just found a post of a way to get Mail to filter spam, then pass the remainder on to Entourage! If I find time I may try to make it work with Eudora
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

fermentatious stuff ...

The previous harangue was set off by Tonecluster, but the mood came from reading Dave Trowbridge. He's really running a thought-provoking (rant-provoking?) weblog. I was feeling empty, bleak, I thought I had run out of things to say, but Dave came through. Will the patient live, Doctor? It's out of our hands, nurse ... if he has the will to live he may pull through ... if you see him blogging again, then there's hope...

Dave had a recent post about the possibility of truly effective inspections in Iraq. I added this comment, which seems to me worth thinking about...
Should this unlikely scenario come to pass, we would be in an awkward position.

We would be uncovering many horrors unrelated to weapons. For instance, Iraq has a brutal prison just for the CHILDREN of suspected traitors. Are we going to inspect it, then walk away and say, "ta ta. See you later kids. Have a nice day"

UN Inspectors probably wouldn't mind, but I'm kind of squeamish and old-fashioned about such things, and I suspect US citizens and military people will be too.
Dave's even more stimulating in person. For instance, he is a believer in the Great Man theory of history, and always says something about it that jolts me in my Non-Great Man perspective. He recently suggested the Battle of Midway as an example. That's really got me thinking. I may blog about it if I can get my ducks walking in the right direction.

Anyway, Midway has got to be among the 3 or 4 most interesting battles of history. America was outclassed and outgunned, our fighters were meat for the Zeros, our torpedo bombers attacked and were wiped out almost to a man, and then, in the space of no more than 5 minutes, our dive-bombers dropped out of a blue sky,"like beads falling off a string..." and turned 3 Japanese carriers into blazing wrecks. And nailed the fourth one soon after. Unbelievable. There's no other moment like that in history.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Are we wet yet?

Recent discussions of peace or war? seem to me to be weirdly disconnected from reality. We're already in! We are "hip deep in the Big Muddy," with snags the size of locomotives drifting obscurely in the opaque flood; and yet we stand and sip tea and say Should we get wet? Would it be prudent? Would it be moral? What does the Archbishop opine? I can really understand why Ann Coulter screams in people's ears!

Several links in Tonecluster today have got me in the screaming mood...try this, from OpinionJournal,
...More chilling is what the inspectors were able to detect, such as weaponized agents like aflatoxin, which causes deadly long-term liver damage or cancer and has no use other than as a terrorist weapon. Mr. Spertzel noted that while inspectors might be able to scuttle the production of weapons of mass destruction on a scale suitable for battlefield use, there is virtually no chance of detecting production on the smaller scale suitable for terror...
<scream in ear> Think about that. And you Europeans, imagine that Achmed isn't allowed on that plane to New York or Tel Aviv ... and so YOU get the fatal long-term liver damage. We will be calculating the half-life of some town -- maybe yours!!!</scream in ear>

From an editorial in the Washington times:
 In the midst of an historic drought, Washington-area TV weathermen and weatherwomen continue to inanely express delight when a rainstorm misses the metropolitan area. They are mentally conditioned to want to report sunshine — even when rain is desperately needed...
... But there are many forms of peace. There is the peace that a parent can gain by giving in to their children's tantrums. But that peace will only yield a brood of brats. There is the peace that the slave has when he fails to rebel against his master. As Patrick Henry once said of that false peace: "Gentleman may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace . . . give me liberty or give me death." There is the peace that Winston Churchill's Cabinet unsuccessfully tried to force on him in May 1940. They wanted him to negotiate for peace with Hitler through Italy's Mussolini. But Churchill knew that if he wavered in Britain's stand against Hitler, he would never again be able to rally either his people or a still neutral United States to sustain the needed war to defeat the insatiable Hitler. And of course, there is the peace that we all shall someday gain: the peace of the grave. But that is merely a corporeal stillness — not the heavenly peace of our souls. Sometimes it is necessary to avoid peace. Now is such a time.
Now if peaceniks want to do something useful, the big question is how to wage the odd new sort of war we are in? That's a thicket where the paths are far from clear. For instance, there are now, and will be, many moments when our soldiers lives will have to be balanced against, say, the lives of Iraqi civilians, or Afghans, or Syrians, or Kurds. Or balanced against the possibility of attacks against our own civilians. Should we risk one pilot to possibly save 20 Kurds? Should we kill 1,000 Iraqis to prevent a possible chemical attack on Tel Aviv?

I once watched a superb documentary on the Kurds, so they are fairly real to me. Fascinating folk. Not just numbers to me, but people. Do you care about the Kurds, oh ye peacebloggers? Do you think about them? Our planes, our bombs, our savage violence, right NOW, not in the theoretical future, are protecting them from being Saddam's Kurdburgers.

In WWII we tended to say, "If flattening Hamburg will save one American or British life, then bombs away. Now that's something I find immoral. But how to balance, say, German lives against American, I do not know. (Interestingly, we bombed Dresden, but not Kyoto, and we hesitated long before bombing Monte Cassino.)

So my question to those who are wringing their hands over peace or war is: "What is a Kurd worth?"