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Saturday, November 02, 2002

someday, things will be different ...

click HERE to savor air travel in the Post-Mineta age...

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weblogging, finest kind ...

Wise, witty (and good-looking) Natalie Solent is celebrating a year of blogging! I will be writing more about her around Nov 12, because that's when I started weblogging --and who inspired me? She did. Natalie writes:
... A year ago today, Dale Amon, writing in the Libertarian Alliance Forum said something along the lines of "I get almost all my news from the blogs now." "What's a blog?" said I. "This," said he. Thirty seconds later I had decided that a blog was right up there with "oxygen" in my List of Desirable Possessions ...
If you are in a mood for giving birthday presents, she has a tip jar ...

Friday, November 01, 2002

Australians, gotta love 'em ...

I was wandering through a favorite forum (for the happy few who use the graphics program Canvas, by Deneba), and found this picture of some Australians playing despite a raging brushfire...

playing cricket while brushfire rages

Posted By: Phil Hamson
Date Posted: 10/25/02
Okay guys, here's the story behind the pic Geoff posted, as published in the Newcastle Herald today (26 October). The article was written by Neil Keene.

A quote from Darren Pateman, the photographer (who is currently revelling in his new-found fame):

"I had been at the racecourse and there was panic and despair with people evacuating everywhere. Then just 200 metres away here were these guys at Baddeley Oval in their own little world. Nothing else seemed to matter. This fire was just going straight behind them, they stopped momentarily to have a look and then kept batting and bowling."

Stallions opening batsman Mark Williams said he was more concerned about hitting a few fours and sixes than the approaching flames.

"You could have put the ball into the fire with a good hit", he said.

"As you look at the photo it was blowing from right to left so at that stage we weren't too worried. But every time the wind flared you'd feel the temperature rise by about 10 degrees, which wasn't too good."

The Stallions completed their innings, scoring 169 runs, and had Cessnock on the ropes at 1-13 when authorities insisted the match be abandoned.

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P. Krugman
#54You can't make this stuff up!

What would Paul Krugman do without SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt? "The Pitt Principle" (11/01/02) must be the 4th column in six weeks Krugman has written fulminating over the appointment process of a chairman for the newly created accounting oversight board. Until today, Krugman's line has been that the fate of western civilization rests on the performance of this board and that the hapless Mr. Pitt, acting as a spear-carrier for the Bush administration, is trying to appoint an ineffectual chairman so that Cheney and friends can continue to profit from corporate malfeasance. Now he has devised the "Pitt Principle" which extends the malfeasance to the rest of the administration, e.g., to the secretary of Treasury (losing the surplus), to the attorney general (destroying the Constitution), to the defense department (harboring warmongers) and to the president himself (seeking partisan advantage from national crisis).

Now as squad readers know, our position on the accounting board is that it's not substantive enough warrant close examination and that Krugman is wasting his time. In fact, with regard to today's column, we think first question that would occur to an average reader would be "Is this man sane?" So we have been perfectly happy to watch from the sidelines as Krugman exposes his feral partisanship on such a trivial issue.

Alack and alas, this happy equilibrium may be coming to an end. Mr. Pitt is easily the most politically tone-deaf Washington official since Ken Starr and has now screwed up again. He failed to tell fellow SEC commission members that his latest choice to head the oversight board, former FBI director William Webster, was on the audit committee of U.S. Technologies, an investment firm now facing fraud charges. In response to the outcry, Mr. Pitt has launched an SEC investigation of HIMSELF.

You can't make this stuff up!

Rep. Markey of Massachusetts said it best. "Chairman Pitt has violated the 'First Law of Holes,' which is, when you are in one, stop digging." This time it may take more than a few cosmetic changes, such as losing the beard and a couple of feet around the waistline, to save him. Unfortunately, if he resigns he will be saving Krugman too–from himself.

[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. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

remember ...

It's good to keep in mind that we are able to tap tap tap on our keyboards, discussing the fine points of politics, economics, morality and justice, because these guys and gals are guarding our peace and prosperity.

USS Abraham Lincoln
USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72), now deployed in the Gulf.

Remember that 60's bumper sticker: Don't like cops? Next time you're in trouble, call a hippie. Well, these are the cops, these are the good guys, and if things get hairy, yer gonna hope they are there, and you don't have to call the UN.

* Being a historically-minded fellow, I hurry to add that a younger United States was able to grow and develop the stupefying prosperity that can support 12 Carrier Battle Groups without noticeable strain, partly because for several centuries the British Empire carried the burden of keeping things peaceful, and the sea-lanes were guarded by the Royal Navy. Thankee, cousins.

P. Krugman
#53: Politicizing a Eulogy

Leave it to Paul Krugman to politicize a eulogy with cheap shots and partisan political attacks. In "For the People" (10/29/02) he simultaneously praises a man of principal and demonstrates that he has none.

As far as the estate tax is concerned this is more an issue for left-wing fulminating than anything else. Krugman repeats the old mantra that only the rich pay estate taxes. In fact, it is just the opposite. The rich spend so much time and money avoiding estate taxes that many economists are skeptical that any revenue is raised net of collection costs. Meanwhile, middle class taxpayers are smart enough to see what is coming for them down the road in a few years if they do not adopt similar avoidance strategies or support repeal. Support for repeal is strong among most income groups. Most notably, the black congressional caucus support is by a wide margin.

[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. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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pleasing response ...

I felt good to get this in an e-mail from Anthony, who I was responding to on Sunday:
Thank you for linking to me.  It was quite a nice bit of thrill to see my name on someone's blog.  One of your comments struck me:
"Am I the only one who thinks it's CRAZY, that no one on the Left is eager to roll up their sleeves and get involved in this opportunity? For opportunity it is. People newly-liberated from a hideous tyranny will be far more appreciative of freedom and democracy than most. "
    What hit me about this statement is that I have been seriously considering joining the military after college, and specifically requesting occupation work, if any such is (as I suspect it will be) in existence.  The idea of helping to write an Iraqi constitution, helping them set up a society based on law where they have only known one based on power, and just generally being part of a nation building exercise, has enormous appeal to me.  Such experience would allow me to serve my country with the talents at my disposal, a service that I feel I owe my nation.  I suspect that I would be a lousy soldier, however...
You can read his thoughts here.

Actually, Anthony, if you pursue your plans to become a lawyer [ Aaaaggh, don't do it! You have to hang around with other lawyers all day.-- Charlene] you will be in demand by the military. They probably have more lawyers than shooters.

Monday, October 28, 2002

some of these deaths could have been prevented !

Everytime there is a shooting like the one at Arizona U., I have the same thing to say. You can read my original post here.

The important point is, if someone is shooting at you at close-quarters, you are not as helpless as you think you are. If those students had all picked up their chairs and thrown them at the shooter, he would have been squashed in seconds.
... Flores walked to the front of the classroom and shot the first victim several times, then went to the back of the room and killed the second victim, police said.

"We just thought that he was late for the test," Raymond said. "Then he started talking to instructors and fired shots. All of us ducked under the tables and then ran out of the room. At first, I thought it was a joke and realized it wasn't when I heard the shots."
You are rarely completely unarmed. You have things that can be thrown; keys, purses, books, cell phones. If a group of people is throwing things, even small objects can make a deadly barrage. Your belt can be a wicked flail. Keys can slash.

Cowering under a table is the worst thing you can do.

I wish I could put up notices in public places, In case of shooting, everybody throw things.

* Of course, if you have a gun, by all means use it. So much the better. And places like Arizona U are just asking for trouble by advertising that they are 'gun free.' Stupid.

looking backwards

"Those of us who are optimists believe that someday sanity will return to our society. Our media, our officials -- perhaps even our schools and colleges -- will begin to talk sense. Those of you who are young may live to see it. But there is a downside to sanity. Once there is a whole generation raised to think -- to examine evidence and use logic -- you are going to be confronted with a need to explain to your grandchildren how our generation could have done the things we did. You don't want your grandkids to think that your whole generation was crazy.

'Grandpa,' they will say, 'today we were reading in history -- ' 'History?' ...'But, in our history class, we learned that people from all over the world were trying desperately to get into the United States -- some paying to get smuggled in from Mexico or Asia, some trying to cross the Caribbean in leaky boats and drowning.' 'Why, yes, that happened.' 'But, if all cultures were equal, why were these people risking their lives trying to go from one culture to another?' 'I never really thought about that, honey. Gee, they must be working you pretty hard in school, to have you doing all this thinking.' 'Aren't people supposed to think, Grandpa?' 'I suppose it's all right for those who like it. I don't want to be judgmental'. "
--Thomas Sowell

Sunday, October 27, 2002

another dog in the night ...

Anthony Parisi has cogent criticisms of some common anti-war arguments, from his own anti-war, but also anti-idiotarian (I would guess), perspective...
The Anti-War movement has a problem. The problem is that their arguments really, and I mean really, suck. In every beginning logic class (call it speech 1, English 1, etc), I have had to memorize a set of fallacies. (Fallacy: an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference). I am an anti-this-war type, myself, so I am very sympathetic to the desire to not invade Iraq, but it seems that most of the arguments I read are disingenuous at best. Although piss-poor may be a better term, were I in a less charitable mood…
One good point of many:
First, we are not going to war with Iraq, we are going to war with Saddam. The war will most likely in Iraq, but that is because that is where Saddam is. By that same token, we didn’t go to war with Afghanistan; we went to war in Afghanistan. It drives me nuts to see this mistake made repeatedly.
I don't think his list of "good" anti-war arguments is entirely devoid of fallacies. For instance, "the right wing seems to welcome open war with the whole mid-east. As bad as these regimes are, shouldn’t we use other methods first? A vaguely inferred argument by a vaguely specified group is just assumed to be the pro-war position, and then "demolished" by a vague reference to "other methods." [Possibly I'm unfair here, that may just a reference to a type of argument, rather than the whole argument.]

But what really interests me about Anthony's post, is that it's a lead-in to talk about what's on my mind (gotcha) ...

How have things come to such a pass, that is just assumed, by Right and Left alike, that the Left can have no possible interest in joining in in the rebuilding of Iraq, or other nations, after a war? After WWII, the US and the Allies did a LOT to reorganize Japan and Germany. (It wasn't nation-building by the way, these were already nations.) But that effort was led by FDR Democrats, New Dealers, and by academics and labor leaders. I recall reading how Walter Reuther, leader of the United Auto Workers, had much to do with Germany's post-war labor laws. (I believe he pushed for industry-wide unions, thus avoiding the bickering craft-unions that are such a mess here.)

Am I the only one who thinks it's CRAZY, that the Left does not seem to imagine itself playing ANY creative, constructive, positive role in the world?

Am I the only one who thinks it's CRAZY, that a clever youth like Anthony can say, "Given the Administration’s previous statements and actions in Afghanistan, I don’t know that I trust them to do a proper job rebuilding the country after the war… " and not see that he is damning the Left by assuming, just assuming, that rebuilding is something that only the Right will do?

Am I the only one who thinks it's CRAZY, that no one on the Left is eager to roll up their sleeves and get involved in this opportunity? For opportunity it is. People newly-liberated from a hideous tyranny will be far more appreciative of freedom and democracy than most. And they will be ready to take new paths, and motivated to make them work. Bringing good government to any Arab country will be an uphill struggle at best, but if ever there was a good time to give it a try, it's now, in Iraq.

Perhaps an uncharitable, nay cynical person might suggest that the Left is not all that fond of freedom and democracy; perhaps has something else in mind, like, say, running the circus.... Hope not. Maybe I'm just living in the past, bookworm that I am.
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a moment of good-living ...

Charlene and I had a lot of fun last night at a barbecue at Dave Trowbridge's. Good food and wine, witty people, and sitting late outdoors around a blazing fire, under the redwoods. Pure bliss. And I won a blog-butterfly bubble wand in the pumpkin-carving contest! Greater glory than that is hard to achieve.

Dave was good enough to remove the heads of various enemies of civilization from his trophy stand, to display the Jack-O-Lanterns. My poor snapshot doesn't show them well, but the competition was stiff! Mine's on top, #2 is the cat at the bottom