Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

The nice thing about the Inter-webs is that I can make the post time read whatever I like! Happy New Year and good luck!

Tomorrow for me; Polar Bear Swimming in the ocean (it just snowed yesterday!) and hashing this afternoon! Hope your day is just as super!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It Would take a Scientist To Explain

Simply stated, the scientific method consists of the following.
  1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
  2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
  3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
  4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.
When consistency is obtained the hypothesis becomes a theory and provides a coherent set of propositions which explain a class of phenomena. A theory is then a framework within which observations are explained and predictions are made.

The Flying Spaghetti MonsterI bring this up because Mary-Ann, a swell gal, has brought up the issue of whether Intelligent Design should be taught alongside evolution as an equal scientific theory. I have a big problem with ID being taught in schools, since it is based upon faulty assumptions that can't be proven scientifically. The main holes in this "theory" are (The bolded information here is not my own work, but comes from How Stuff Works.):

1) Irreducible complexity: States that there are biological structures that could not have evolved from a simpler state. It couldn't have evolved from a simpler state because it couldn't have worked in a simpler state, and natural selection can only choose among traits that are already functioning.

The scientific community responds to irreducible complexity by stating that while it is true that natural selection can only choose among traits that are already functioning, the traits don't have to be functioning in their current form. They could have been serving other purposes when they were chosen as
advantageous for their current function.

2)Specified complexity: Means a system could not have occurred by chance and it is not the result of any natural law that says it must be the way it is. A biological system exhibits specified complexity if it meets three criteria:
* Its makeup is not merely the result of a natural law. * Its makeup is complex. * Its makeup reflects an "independently given pattern or specification."
The scientific community sees this argument as inherently flawed. It is a negative hypothesis: Anything not created by chance or law must be designed. But scientists claim that chance, law and design are not mutually exclusive, and they are not the only possibilities. So the process of elimination cannot be applied. And in any event, they say, science does not accept the process of elimination as proof of anything. The scientific method requires a positive hypotheses -- you cannot prove one thing simply by disproving another.

Therefore, since we can't explain it, God must've done it!

3)The Law of Conservation of Information: At its most basic, the law states that nature cannot create new information (as in information contained in DNA); it can only work with the information it already has. Therefore, a more complex species -- one that contains more information -- could not have evolved from a less complex species.
The scientific community believes that this is a repackaging of the creationist
argument that the theory of evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, which states that there is a tendency in nature for complexity to decrease. It claims that science has understood for a long time that this theory applies "only to closed systems, and biological systems are not closed" In order to prove design, ID proponents have a three-step process to test for it:

1. Does a law explain it?
2. Does chance explain it?

3. Does design explain it?


The response by the scientific community to the three-pronged approach to identifying design is essentially the same as its response to his argument for specified complexity. Most scientists note that it is not, in fact, a positive test for design, but in fact a negative test for eliminating chance and necessity. The process of elimination can not lead to any definitive conclusion in the world of science.
Overall, the most significant objection by the scientific community to intelligent design as a scientific theory is that it not empirical. Scientists cannot test for the presence of design, nor can they disprove the presence of design. By its very nature, scientists claim, intelligent design is not a scientific argument but a philosophical one.

Hi there, me again. That's just fine, but it boils down to creationism, not science, and should not be taught as such.

Evolution, as a theory, also has some holes. However it is a theory that has basis in scientific research and is considered the most likely explaination for the diversity of life on Earth. Some of the holes in the theory are (Oh, and to prevent scope creep, I'd like to refer you to the How Stuff Works article I just linked for information on scientific research in progress to answer these questions):
  1. How does evolution add information to a genome to create progressively more complicated organisms?
  2. How is evolution able to bring about drastic changes so quickly?
  3. How could the first living cell arise spontaneously to get evolution started?
1) Evolution's mutation mechanism does not explain how growth of a genome is possible. How can point mutations create new chromosomes or lengthen a strand of DNA? It is interesting to note that, in all of the selective breeding in dogs, there has been no change to the basic dog genome. All breeds of dog can still mate with one another. People have not seen any increase in dog's DNA, but have simply selected different genes from the existing dog gene pool to create the different breeds.

2) Imagine that you create a very large cage and put a group of mice into it. You let the mice live and breed in this cage freely, without disturbance. If you were to come back after five years and look into this cage, you would find mice. Five years of breeding would cause no change in the mice in that cage -- they would not evolve in any noticeable way. You could leave the cage alone for a hundred years and look in again and what you would find in the cage is mice. After several hundred years, you would look into the cage and find not 15 new species, but mice.

The point is that evolution in general is an extremely slow process. When two mice breed, the offspring is a mouse. When that offspring breeds, its offspring is a mouse. When that offspring breeds... And the process continues. Point mutations do not change this fact in any significant way over the short haul.

On the other hand, we know that evolution can move extremely quickly to create a new species. One example of the speed of evolution involves the progress mammals have made. You have probably heard that, about 65 million years ago, all of the dinosaurs died out quite suddenly. One theory for this massive extinction is an asteroid strike. For dinosaurs, the day of the asteroid strike was a bad one, but for mammals it was a good day. The disappearance of the dinosaurs cleared the playing field of most predators. Mammals began to thrive and differentiate.


3)
In order for the principles of mutation and natural selection in the theory of evolution to work, there have to be living things for them to work on. Life must exist before it can to start diversifying. Life had to come from somewhere, and the theory of evolution proposes that it arose spontaneously out of the inert chemicals of planet Earth perhaps 4 billion years ago.

Could life arise spontaneously? If you read How Cells Work, you can see that even a primitive cell like an E. coli bacteria -- one of the simplest life forms in existence today -- is amazingly complex.

Hi there, I'm back! Holes in a theory do not amount to double suicide, they just mean there is more work to do. I challenge ID proponents (not you bloggers/other readers, but the people who call themselves scientists) to actually do some freakin' science here and shore up your theory before you go around saying that teachers should be presenting it to impressionable youngsters. This is not a high school science project, this is real life. I want someone teaching my kids science who knows how to use the scientific method, not someone whose world is populated with capricious, vengeful, imaginary beings.

Regardless of the theory, I don't understand the religious community's disdain for science. Science doesn't disprove the existence or even active involvement of God. In fact, science could be taken to be proof of god's existence. Isaac Newton himself believed he was observing God's work. I don't understand why science and God are mutually exclusive.

What I do believe is that it is incredibly scary for people to think that they are working without a net and this one life is all there is. Perhaps this has all happened by chance; maybe we're unique and maybe we're not; maybe death really is the end of life.

I'm not going to argue faith, as it is pointless. What is at issue here is whether to teach a half-baked psuedo-theory as fact to our nation's children in our government run schools. I say no. Teaching that, if you can't explain it, it must be the work of a theoretical higher being is no different from teaching that God, as you perceive him, did it. Or Krishna, or Allah, or Xenu, or Zeus, or whatever. And it is exceptionally lazy science.

I'm all for teaching skepticism and inform them of weaknesses in evolutionary theory, by all means. Science is science for a reason. Theories can be works in progress, as our understanding of the way the world works changes. Nonetheless, science is not based upon belief, but upon what can be proven. Science can't prove design, which is why it must be taken as faith.

EDIT: And now for something completely different... I'm trying some new title logos for the blog, to keep myself amused. What do you think of the one that's up there now? What about the last one?

Or this one?

Plenty more where that came from after I've made them.

UPDATE: There seems to be a wave of ID posting on the Inter-webs. Here's some more -
Lone Pony: Am I wrong about Intelligent Design?
Crazy Politico's Rantings: Intelligent Evolution Anyone?
Havenstone, my bestest friend (and Best Man 2 of 2): Kitmiller Dissent and Kitzmiller Comments

Unnatural Selection

The Wall Street Journal today has an excellent opinion piece today (registration may be required) on the harm that environmentalism caused to a family-owned sawmill and other small businesses of its type. The article ends with the following paragraph (emphasis mine):

Fifteen years ago, not long after the release of "Playing God in Yellowstone," his seminal work on environmentalism's philosophical underpinnings, I asked philosopher and environmentalist Alston Chase what he thought about this situation. I leave you to ponder his answer: "Environmentalism increasingly reflects urban perspectives. As people move to cities, they become infatuated with fantasies about land untouched by humans. This demographic shift is revealed through ongoing debates about endangered species, grazing, water rights, private property, mining and logging. And it is partly a healthy trend. But this urbanization of environmental values also signals the loss of a rural way of life and the disappearance of hands-on experience with nature. So the irony: As popular concern for preservation increases, public understanding about how to achieve it declines."


As I've mentioned before, I'm an Eagle Scout and love the outdoors. Conservation is good and necessary, but not at the expense of the well-being of men. Environmentalism is based purely one belief, not fact. They don't like seeing trees cut down or the ground dug up, therefore it must be bad. Read the whole article, you'll see where I'm coming from.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Hope it's a happy one for you and yours! We haven't opened stockings, yet, though I let Red open one gift before she had to leave for work. It was a bundle of Christmas music I gave her - an assortment of country music (her favorite), swing/big band music (which I love), Mannhiem Steamroller and then just plain Faith Hill's latest album. So I think she liked that!

Her tradition is that gifts under the tree are opened on Christmas Eve, and since her mother is here, I figured we'll go with that. I'm easy. Here, you see my new favorite coffee mug that my sister Rachel (a Disney store employee!) gave me... T-I- double Grrrr! It says, "Boing" on the other side. My other favorite gift here is the new digital camera I used to take the pictures. My dad and stepmom gave it to us, after I more or less asked them not to. We had planned on buying a digital video camera or two after Christmas; one for me to use on the ship to send video back to Red and the baby, and the other for red to record all those magical moments I'm going to miss while on deployment this year. It was a very generous thing for my dad to do, I hate asking for expensive things, so we just told people what our plan was and asked for best Buy gift certificates if they wanted to contribute. My mom contributed a heck of a lot, and I'm floored by her gift as well.

Also, to my left on the couch, is my new electric shaver, which I am really going to need on the ship when I get there next year. To my right is my 2 1/2-year-old cat Logan, and the one on the right here is the one-year-old Rogue. Mom-in-law is still sleeping and Red's gone all day, so I'm going to watch Scrooged in my jammies while drinking coffee out of my Tigger mug and doing laundry.

My big gift to Red this year was a Select Comfort Sleep Number bed. My big plan was to have the bed delivered to my neighbor/landlord's apartment upstairs (who is good friends with us and agreed to help play Santa), then move it down to the landing outside our apartment door and surprise red with it when she opened the memory foam pillow that cam with it. Of course, what I plan and what actually happens ain't never necessarily been similar! Two days after I ordered the darn thing, Selct Comfortcalled the house on Red's day off while I was gone and wanted to confirm delivery, after I specifically told them to call my cell phone. Then the salesman to whom I spoke and explained my plan in detail sent a post card thanking me for the puchase, but thank goodness the SURPRISE HAD ALREADY BEEN RUINED and I couldn't get mad at him for ruining the surprise. Then when the guys delivered it, I found my plan wouldn't have worked anyway. What they don't tell you is that the box that the mattress rests upon comes in pieces about three feet long that must be assembled. It appeared that assembly involved a lot of stomping on the pieces while on my bed frame and jamming them together hard, regardless whether they're properly seated. In retrospect, I should've done a lot more angry shouting. There were bolts falling out of my bed frame, for crying out loud.

But the bed is really comfortable! I'll send a comment to the company about my negative experiences, but I love the product, so that almost makes up for it.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Let's Play "Knock It Off Already", Is That A Fun Game?

I was going to just add this to the last post, but do you remember that UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Federal agents for requesting Mao Zedong's Little Red Book from the University library. Yeah, turns out he's full of crap. Was there any doubt, really? I'm embarrassed to admit that I got my MBA at UMass Dartmouth, and not really surprised at by this since I have experience UMD campus life somewhat. These moonbat types are the rule, rather than the exception.

By the way, remember the anthrax attacks?

A Tin Foil Hat Tip to Michelle Malkin for both stories.

First Cup of Coffee / Sense of Humor

Opinion Journal has an excellent interview with Susette Kelo, of Kelo v. New London fame, this morning.

Betsy Newmark has some great articles this week, but this one in particular caught my attention regarding Kofi Annan. I think the pressure's getting to him. I've been meaning to blogroll her, maybe I'll do that today. Mildly interesting trivia: Kofi Annan went to college in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Macalester College.

From WorldNetDaily, (THFT: But I Can Hear You) The GOP Grinches Stole Christmas. Y'know... *sigh* whatever. I just read "The Night Before Christmas to my wife, mother-in-law, and my baby (who I'm told can now distinguish sounds) last night. We bought book which had the original poem as it appeared in the newspaper almost a century ago illustrated in black and white. It's gorgeous! I can see that this will be a tradtion for our family.

This Democrat thing is a flailing attempt at being clever. How's that working out for you, Dems?
"What's that?" they ask.
"Being clever."
"Oh... fine."
"Well, keep it up, then."

I was going to be offended before I raised an eyebrow, shook my head and realized it was just silly and juvenile. If you want funny political humor, check out JibJab. They make fun of everybody! Nothing more American than that!
2-0-5, Second Term, Good to be in DC and This Land are my favorites. Don't really click the picture to launch, click the link, because it actually works.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Something Stupid

Y'know what? I've been doing a lot of serious thinking about weighty issues these days and I'm feeling a bit burned out on politics. So here's the meme of four, feel free to participate.

Four jobs you've had in your life: Navy officer, waiter, grocery store bag boy, country club golf caddy (I can't play golf, at all).

Four movies you could watch over and over: Fight Club, American Beauty, any Indiana Jones movie (even Temple of Doom!), Mister Roberts.

Four places you've lived: Jacksonville, Florida; Yokosuka, Japan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Newport, Rhode Island.

Four TV shows you love to watch: Smallville (I'm so embarrassed), Firefly (I have it on DVD, but sometimes it's on Sci Fi!), Dead Like Me (also cancelled *sigh*), I'm also just starting to get into Lost.

Four places you've been on vacation: Saipan, Rio De Janeiro, Hong Kong and Ogunquit, Maine.

Four websites you visit daily: Powerline, Sailor Bob, Drudge Report and Michelle Malkin (along with dozens of others, by the way - see the blogroll)

Four of your favorite foods: Pork Chops Marsala, German Chocolate Cake, Steamed Broccoli, Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale (beer is food, right?)

Four places you'd rather be: Minneapolis, Key West, Saipan, Australia. Anywhere in Australia.

Here's a typical boy scout, I swear. I'm an Eagle Scout and spent all my formative years in Scouting, and frankly, I am not surprised. The only thing that would have been less surprising would've been him setting fire to himself. That said, I'm really looking forward to getting my son into Scouting someday!

There's a great analysis of the South America situation and the implication of Eva Morales here. I may or may not post on it myself - it interests me, but I'm not yet smart enough on it to form my own opinion.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

NYT Lights Bag of Dog Poo; Steps In It

Tired and I have a headache, but thought Nunzia would get a kick out me saying it again. If you're one who's been following my comments on the NSA wiretapping matter, I started out withholding my opinion, as I am deadset against invasion of individual rights, although storngly pro-defense. I wanted to see where this all went, because something smelled fishy, but my first knee-jerk inclination is to distrust the government.

I still don't trust the government. I also don't trust the New York Times, since they are notoriously unreliable these days. Anyway, I remain unconvinced of any wrongdoing on the part of the Bush Administration, but wonder why no one from the NYT has yet been sent to jail. I am Jack's indifference.

Here's a few interesting things in addition to the previous post:

1) Newsbusters.org: N.Y. Times, Get Your N.S.A. Stories Straight
2) Chicago Tribune: President had legal authority to OK taps
3) Powerline: On the Legality of the NSA Electronic Intercept Program

So that's about all I have to say about that. Some may be concerned that the government even has these powers. Let me know in comments and I'll respond later; I haven't got time to state my argument at the moment

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kerfuffle

That's a fun word, isn't it? I'm working on digesting this wiretap story, but it sounds to me like a legitimate exercise of Executive powers to me. It's not like airport screening, where everyone takes off their shoes, and then little old ladies, or wives of Navy officers get pulled aside for random screening. It sounds like the powers are being used legitamate, in my uninformed opinion. Of course, that's all anyone has had since the New York Times dropped this flaming bag of dog poo on America's front porch.

On the other hand, the New York Times has consistently been using its power as a media organization to make as much trouble for the Bush Administration as possible, which I think has become abusive. There's no sense of journalistic responsibility over there as near as I can tell. Irony is newspapermen unconcerned with the truth or proper application thereof. The so-called "Fourth Estate" has a responsibility to keep government honest while remaining honest themselves. I will continue to withhold a firm opinion on it until I can better get a grip on the story. This seems like something I should really study before deciding what I think about it. Perhaps some other people ought to do the same before they start throwing around the "I" word.

Like terrorists, it seems all the President's critics need to do is not lose. Who cares about winning?

I won't be doing that anytime soon, since I've got company this week, but here are a few interesting things:

The New York Observer has an interesting inside look at the NYT's motivation.

Power Line is all over this and assuaging my concerns somewhat. I encourage you to, yes, read everything they've written about this so far. It's riveting, reasonable and good.

A newly discovered (by me) blog, Cobb, has a terrific management analogy: Scope Creep.

Although you don't establish your innocence by establishing the guilt of others, here is some interesting reading on Echelon.

EDIT: And far be it from me to leave out Crazy Politico's Rantings: The Politics of the Domestic Spying Case

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Our Friends the Germans

Realistically, I expect no reaction whatsoever from the U.S. media as a whole about the release of Hezbollah terrorist Mohammed Ali Hamadi on parole, although at least CNN is reporting it. Who? You know, the murderer of U.S. Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Beirut.
Stetham's heroism was such that the Navy named a guided-missile destroyer after him. The USS Stethem's website says:
USS STETHEM (DDG 63) is the first U.S. Navy warship named to honor the life and service of Steelworker Second Class (DV) Robert Dean Stethem, USN (1961-1985). Petty Officer Stethem entered the Navy on May 4, 1981. He attended recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois, and was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Sixty-two, homeported at Gulfport, Mississippi. In October 1984, he was assigned to Underwater Construction Team One at Little Creek, Virginia.

Petty Officer Stethem was a victim of the terrorist hijacking of Trans World Airlines Flight 847 on June 14, 1985. He was returning home from an assignment in Nea Makri, Greece, when the terrorists seized and ordered the aircraft to Beirut, Lebanon. Petty Officer Stethem was singled out from the passengers as a U.S. Navy Sailor and killed when terrorist demands were not met. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1985 and the Bronze Star in 1986.

Petty Officer Stethem’s family has a long and proud Naval history. Both of Petty Officer Stethem’s parents served in the U.S. Navy as well as civil service posts. His father, Richard, served for twenty-six years retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. Petty Officer Stethem’s mother, Patricia, was a Storekeeper before leaving the Navy to raise a family. Petty Officer Stethem’s brother Patrick was a Steelworker Second Class before leaving active duty and his other brother, Kenneth, served in the U.S. Navy for twenty years retiring as a Chief Boatswain’s Mate and Navy SEAL.

According to CNN, "Hamadi was convicted in 1989 in Frankfurt, Hessen state, for the beating and shooting of Robert Dean Stethem, a 23-year-old U.S. Navy diver whose body was thrown on the tarmac at Beirut airport during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847."

Thanks for your support in the Global War on Terror, Germany. I hope we can get this guy to GITMO before he kills any other U.S. servicemen.

EDIT (20 DEC 05, 11:16) - From James Taranto's Best of the Web:
"Germany has quietly released a Hizbollah member jailed for life for the murder of a U.S. Navy diver, apparently disregarding Washington's wish to extradite him, diplomats and German officials said on Tuesday," Reuters reports from Berlin:

"He served his term," Eva Schmierer, a spokeswoman for Germany's justice ministry, told a news conference.

Sources in Berlin and Beirut said earlier that Mohammad Ali Hammadi, convicted of killing Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem in Beirut during the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight and sentenced to life in prison, was flown back to Lebanon last week.

If he was sentenced to life in prison, how can be released after having "served his term," unless he is in a box? This is one reason we have nothing but contempt for European elites' opposition to the death penalty. At least when someone is executed, he really has served his term.
I would've stopped at "Nothing but contempt for European elites." Damn Jerry!

Delusions of Grandeur

Is it a good thing that I made MSNBC's Blog Roundup?

Arrogance

A couple weeks ago I read a buried story in the Wall Street Journal about Florida Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate and Hurricane Wilma. Mr. Fugate and Governor Bush got into a power struggle with FEMA over who was in charge of relief efforts. Doesn't that sound petty? People need food and water and rescuing and the bureaucracy is squabbling over who reports to who. Full disclosure: I am a Florida resident, although a Minnesota native, due to Florida's (tenuous, but holding) positions on state and individual rights. In particular, no income tax. South Florida's entitlement mentality is slowly permeating the state's politics, but for now, it's a safe haven, as far as I'm concerned.

Hurricane Wilma's trackThe Wall Street Journal reported on December 8th:
The lush villas had survived the October storm unscathed but Mr. Fugate was agitated. He thought he had outmaneuvered federal emergency officials to take control of the relief effort, but now discovered that federal agents had been on the island, without his knowledge, conducting their own review. "Unbelievable," he fumed. "Washington managed to sneak in some spies after all."

It turns out that despite Florida's insistence that they had the situation under control, the federal government decided that Hurrican Katrina meant that states were incapable of handling disaster reponse on their own. Take a look at the left-hand sidebar of the Florida Division of Emrgency Management website and tell me they haven't got a grip on the situation.

So due to the political beating the federal government agencies (particularly FEMA, and, yes, probably President Bush himself) took over Louisiana's complete lack of preparedness for a disaster, the feds decided to micromanage Hurricane Wilma, resulting in trampling all over states' rights. Bear with me here, the article isn't available online. Here are some excerpts:

The Bush administration says Katrina showed that some states can't deal with large-scale disasters. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, wants to intervene in response efforts and is pressing local officials to vet their emergency plans. It's also looking to equip locally based federal employees with cameras and communications gear to provide Washington with real-time disaster information.

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, who heads U.S. Northern Command, a newly created military body overseeing homeland defense, has told lawmakers that active-duty forces should be given complete authority for responding to catastrophic disasters. President Bush has already suggested that the military be ready to quarantine cities and states in the event of a flu pandemic.

Local officials, from small-town sheriffs to big-state governors, say Louisiana's problems during Katrina were the exception, not the rule. They say the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon are over-reaching and that a federal takeover of relief work will make matters worse. The head of the Washington state National Guard, Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg, suggested in emails to colleagues that Adm. Keating's suggestion amounted to a "policy of domestic regime change."

Days before Wilma churned through his state, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appeared before Congress alongside the governors of Texas and Arizona. "I can say with certainty that federalizing emergency response to catastrophic events would be a disaster as bad as Hurricane Katrina," he told lawmakers. "If you federalize, all the innovation, creativity and knowledge at the local level would subside."

Florida may be the best-equipped state to handle disasters because of its experience tackling the big storms that have battered it regularly since 1992. Hurricane Wilma was the sixth major hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 storm season and the third to reach Category 5 status. At its peak on Oct. 19, Wilma was the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded.

The Christian Science Monitor notes that expanding military responsibility domestically is a breach of the principles upon which our nation was founded:
Gaining currency at the highest levels of the Pentagon is the idea that during a catastrophic event - either natural or terrorist - the Department of Defense should replace the Department of Homeland Security as the agency in charge of the federal response.

In many ways, the notion is limited, affecting only how the federal government deploys its own resources. Yet in a nation founded on a distrust of military control, any suggestion of giving the armed forces greater authority on American soil faces centuries-old skepticism. Moreover, it comes at a time when governors are already feeling besieged by an administration that, they feel, is too eager to wrest power from them.

So what the hell is the Department of Homeland Security for, anyway? A black hole in which to shovel money? Fugate has had a significant impact on Florida's disaster relief and recovery efforts and in the disaster response field in general:

Mr. Fugate has created a response system to prepare Florida for everything from tornadoes to terrorists. The state coordinates purchasing of supplies, for example, so that emergency services can work together. Even fire-hose connections are the same from Key West to Panama City. New York, by contrast, has at least six different hose connections, meaning Albany firefighters can't use their equipment in Manhattan without an adaptor.

So to prevent another Katrina-like embarrassment (don't forget, Wilma was the strongest storm ever recorded in Caribbean at one point before it hit Florida), the federal government wanted control of the situation. If I wanted something done properly, the last thing I would do is give control of the situation to the U.S. government. From the Wall Street Journal, the punchline! (Emphasis mine.)

Mr. Fugate had his first run-in with Homeland Security at around that time, just before Rita passed over the Florida Keys en route to Texas. During a video conference, he says top Homeland Security officials pressed him for trivial details about his evacuation plans and demanded explanations for his every action.

According to Mr. Fugate and other officials present, he lost his cool. "I told them in no uncertain terms that I had moved more people during last year's hurricanes than had ever been moved before, and that I would be happy to sit there answering their stupid questions, but that I had a job to do."

State emergency coordinators dubbed Washington's constant requests for information "reindeer games," a reference to the 2000 movie with that title in which the phrase described a pointless exercise. Mr. Fugate kept a set of costume antlers in his office and in the run-up to Wilma he recalls holding them in his lap before one video conference call. Gov. Bush asked him what they were for. "In case they ask me stupid questions," he says he replied.

With Wilma, Washington wasn't asking questions -- it wanted control. On Oct. 18, Lt. General Robert T. Clark, commander of the Fifth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, called the head of Florida's National Guard and said he wanted to start flying in equipment to establish a Joint Task Force Command, federal and state officials confirm.

The National Guard chief, Air Force General Douglas Burnett, says in a later interview that he was taken aback. "Did we need a three-star general from Texas to come to direct our response? No, we did not," he says.

Gov. Bush called Mr. Chertoff to complain. According to a senior federal official who overheard the call, Gov. Bush told the Homeland Security secretary that the federal government's unilateral actions were "insulting" to him personally, Mr. Fugate and all Florida citizens. Mr. Bush's spokeswoman and Homeland Security officials says they won't discuss details of the call.

The turning point took place at the daily video conference call on the morning of Oct. 20. Present were officials from Northcom, Homeland Security, FEMA, a handful of other agencies and the White House. Then, Mr. Fugate pulled off the equivalent of a boardroom coup.

Without warning federal officials, he announced the creation of "Wilma Command" to oversee the response. It was done according to the rules of Homeland Security's own National Incident Management System, or NIMS, mandated by President Bush after 9/11 to ensure that all levels of government worked from the same playbook. Its bedrock principle: one incident, one commander, no matter how many agencies send help.


It's a relatively new process that few state emergency officials have mastered. But Mr. Fugate knew what to do. He said the Wilma Command team would include himself, Gen. Burnett and Justin DeMello, the head of FEMA in Florida who was close with state officials. Then Mr. Fugate reached off camera and pulled Mr. Bush into the frame. "I'd now like to introduce the Incident Commander," he said, "The governor of Florida."

"Craig had outmaneuvered them and they knew it," recalls Mr. DeMello, the local FEMA representative. "There was nothing for them to say as under the NIMS they are required to support the incident commander." Mr. Fugate took the 300 satellite telephones Homeland Security had sent for its reporting teams and gave them to local emergency workers.

Homeland Security officials continued lobbying Florida to allow Mr. Chertoff to name a Coast Official Guard as the "Principal Federal Officer." But by Oct. 23, a day before landfall, they had given up. Northcom never activated the Fifth Army.


A beautiful stroke of administrative genius from Mr. Fugate in my opinion. The federal government assumes it has control over things that it has no business interfereing in, in every aspect of American life. Here's an idea: fix the roads, keep the lights on, defend the country and leave me the hell alone!

This year's hurricane season illustrates the growing powers of the federal government over the states. What voters need to realize when making their decisions at the polls is that we are a country made up of 50 semi-autonomous states. The more power we give to the federal government, regardless of good intentions, the more freedom we surrender. It's the nature of government to try to control as much as possible and up to us, as citizens of a nation under popular rule to prevent the federal government from slowly whittling away our rights.

First Cup of Coffee

I know a lot of folks who frequent this blog read many of the same stories as I do, but in case you missed it, here's a few I found interesting:

  • Little Green Footballs: Canadian MP Candidate: "Islam Won!"


  • North Koreans are in the dark.Educated Shoprat has had a couple of good posts recently; I find the notice of a weird pro-Noth Korea blog particularly interesting. As if 1) Anyone who doesn't work for the propaganda arm of the government of ROKN could get access to the Internet (most of the average citizens has no electricity - click the image for a larger view, courtesy Global Security), and 2) if they could would they really use this microphone to spew the sort of moonbat nonsense you'd expect from the Kos Kidz, not to mention that 3) a professional propagandist would do a much, much better job. I won't dignify Songun with a link, but you can see it via Shoprat.


  • Michelle Malkin's got some good stuff on the whole wiretapping issue. The lime Jell-o that is my opinion on this matter has not quite set up. So far, it's gotten little more than a "Screaming-Headline-of-the-Week" eye roll from me; and I don't see much in the way of conspiracy, but just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.


  • I've tweaked the blogroll a bit. New additions are milbloggers The Officers' Club and I've re-added Dr. Sanity and Dr. Helen.

I have a couple things I'm working on, but the posting may be kind of light this week. What with Christmas and all; my mother-in-law is visiting, so we'll be spending time with her, and also anxiously waiting for the baby to kick harder (I've already felt some very slight movement, but nothing that could be called a "kick")

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Bubble

It took me two posts, but now I remember what really ticked me off this morning. I had just dropped off two boxes full of Christmas presents at the post office and Red and I were on the way to the credit union to cash a dividend check the other essentially-a-credit-union had sent us. In the lobby I saw the cover of a recent Newsweek.

OK, I don't get all "rah-rah" over President Bush, even though I agree with him more often than I don't. I did watch the speech last night, and thought it was good, but futile, because it doesn't matter how much he talks, he's mostly preaching to the converted. Cynical? Maybe. Anyway, Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek insist that our President is sequestered away in his own little world. I agree; it's called "Washington D.C." The beltway is probably the biggest example of groupthink in America. The people that live and work there act most of the time as though they exist in a vacuum. I challenge you to name a politician who consistently has his finger on the pulse of his constituents and watches out for their best interests. Go on, give it a shot.

The President has the distinct disadvantage of having his actions constantly interpreted by die-hard liberals and other people who want to get invited to the good parties.

My immediate reaction, seeing the cover with the huge (though shared) byline of Evan Thomas, was that Mr. "Fifteen Points" Thomas is the one who lives in the bubble. Lo and behold, Brent Bozell beat me to the punch. It seems as though people like John "Don't-Let-The-Door-Hit-You-In-The-Ass-On-The-Way-Out" Murtha and others have had their feelings hurt by the Bush Adminstration, because they don't consult with them enough. In short, that is to be read: The Executive Branch has not yielded enough power to the Legislative.

Note, the really "good" Bush-bashing pieces at Newsweek seem to come largely from Thomas. So I ask again: Who lives in the bubble?

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Panacea

Reason #1 why marijuana should be legalized: It would make the news much more interesting.

The Washington State Democrat Party was caught selling anti-Christian magnets on its website a while back. To brighten you day, the Skagit Valley Herald has followed up on the story with the creator of said magnets, one Allison Bigelow of Mount Vernon, Washington. The big news here is that pot apparently is the cure for all the world's ills (TFHT: James Taranto):

“In my opinion, we wouldn’t be such a warring people if we used more cannabis and used less alcohol,” Bigelow said.

You can pretty much guess which party she identifies with. First, like, we bake weed into breakfast cereal, dude. Then everyone's doing it, right? And then they'll all be like, "Whoa." Yeah, man. Boy am I hungry! *zzzzzzzz*

She honestly thinks marijuana will solve all the world's problems, it seems, and I suppose she's right. Boy, if everyone in the world had distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, loss of coordination, depression, anxiety and personality disturbances the world would be a much happier place. What would really improve my life is a compromised ability to learn and remember information. But I'm being biased! What about the good parts of habitual marijuana use? Uh... heh, heh. Duuuude!

“I’ve done everything I can, but I still feel I have blood on my hands,” Bigelow said of the ongoing war in Iraq.

Through her online store, Bigelow sells magnets the size of business cards with a pro-pot messages.

“We don’t need to be in a war for oil because we have industrial hemp,” Bigelow said. “If you look into all the little things that hemp can do, you’ll understand. We wouldn’t be killing people for oil.”

Hemp is extremely useful, but I don't think we'll be running the free world on it anytime soon. In the meantime, Ms. Bigelow, toke up! Thankfully, I think her, uh... habits... will keep her from getting any more motivated.

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Disorder

I don't know about pundits' claims that liberalism is a mental disease. I think that's just a way of dismissing the opinions of those who disagree with your own. However, I can see where some of the raving moonbat types might have some kind of social disorder. I prefer to think perhaps they're not getting enough fiber in their diet, but Dr. Helen cites an article in Clio Psych's Journal from 2003 that suggests your favorite loony leftist may have some faulty wiring (TFHT: James Taranto):
Research on the psychology of radical activists helps us to understand this mismatch between Chomsky's ideas and his personal style. In the 1970s, Stanley Rothman and Robert Lichter administered Thematic Apperception Tests to a large sample of "new left" radicals (Roots of Radicalism, 1982). They found that activists were characterized by weakened self-esteem, injured narcissism and paranoid tendencies. They were preoccupied with power and attracted to radical ideologies that offered clear and unambiguous answers to their questions. All of these traits can be found in the work of Chomsky and other anti-imperialist intellectuals.
The unwillingness to offer alternatives reveals a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. If they offered their own policy ideas they would be vulnerable to criticism. They would run the risk that their ideas would fail, or would not seem persuasive to others. This is especially difficult for anti-capitalists after the fall of the Soviet Union. It has also been difficult in the war against terrorism because Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are such unsympathetic figures. Psychologically, it is easier to blame America for not finding a solution than it is to put one's own ideas on the line.
This here is lazy blogging from a guy who spent all day Christmas/maternity/baby shopping, so do with that what you will. I liked the quotes and wanted to post them too. Believe it or not, I do have original thoughts I wanted to pixelate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to rub the pregnant lady's back.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Warning Shots

Just so you know, the bombing of the USS Cole has not been forgotten:
Skipper claims US warship fired

A SKIPPER claims that an American warship fired four warning shots across the bow of his boat after he strayed into its safety zone.

Greig Milligan, the skipper of the small cargo boat, was making a delivery to the Hebridean island of Canna when he encountered the USS Klakring. He then received the first of 10 verbal warnings telling him that the vessel’s space was being invaded and to move away or the ship would open fire.

Looks like they probably just put a three to five-round across his bow to show him they meant business. I haven't heard anything more about this, but we establish security zones in choke-point transits; I wouldn't recommend tempting fate.

A former Royal Navy officer, Mike Critchley, who now runs Warship World magazine, said: “These exercises are very well publicised. Short of knocking on this man’s door I doubt anything else could’ve been done to inform him.”

I applaud the British for not making excuses for this guy or raving at the US over this.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

There Are Four Lights

EDIT (16 DEC 05): More at SactoDan Blog, "Tear Down a Wall, and Build a New One- McCain's Torture Amendment". There's also some related material at Logic Times, tangential, yet relevant; and check out this editorial in yesterday's USA Today, of all places - Misguided Morality. When you read this, you should be angry.

tor·ture [ táwrchur ] transitive verb
Definitions:

1. inflict pain on somebody: to inflict extreme pain or physical punishment on somebody

2. cause somebody anguish: to cause somebody mental or physical anguish
"This headache is torturing me."

3. distort something: to twist or distort something into an unnatural form

noun
Definitions:


1. inflicting of pain: infliction of severe physical pain on somebody, e.g. as punishment or to persuade somebody to confess or recant something

2. methods of inflicting pain: the methods used to inflict physical pain on people

3. anguish: mental or physical anguish


What a great day, I mean, for being awake since oh-dark-thirty. It got me thinking about sleep deprivation, however. I've been feeling a bit sleep-deprived lately, but I think it's because I haven't been sleeping well. I have puposely gone nearly 48 hours without sleep before, but the exhaustion was just caving in on me.

Pharmicist's Mate 2nd Class William David Halyburton, Jr.To finish off the day today, we were priviledged to get to talk with Commander Porter A. Halyburton USN, RET (who incidentally is the first cousin of the man for whom my next ship is named) . Professor Halyburton related to us some of his experiences in North Vietnamese POW prisons as they pertain to leadership topics. My jaw was open the whole time. If you ever have the opportunity to discuss with a veteran his or her experiences, I highly recommend you do so. You will never look at your own life the same way again. I'll come back to Prof. Halyburton in a minute.

I have heard a lot of discussion about the McCain Amendment to the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, here and there in news, and interestingly, my own experiences have coincided neatly with current events again. President Bush has apparently accepted Sen. McCain’s torture policy as stated in SA 1977.

I attempted to find the text of SA 1977, but alas, the Library of Congress tries my patience. Have at it, if you will. I broke down and Googled it. It's not particularly descriptive, nor is most of the related information I can find. I think that alone may possibly be dangerous, for it allows the definition of "torture" to be stretched. By lawyers, I mean. Prosecuting servicemen for doing their jobs.

If anybody can define torture, it is John S. McCain. I've read his book "Faith of my Fathers" (which is absolutely terrific, by the way). McCain suspected he did not receive the worst of the abuse due to his value as a bargaining chip, but he was often trussed up, with his biceps tied together and left all night. Prof. Halyburton called it "the pretzel" and I have heard the method related before. By all accounts, it is excruciating (link goes to a museum simulation of the technique... not very gruesome-looking, but I thought I'd better warn you).

McCain wants no person in United States custody to be "subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation" and discusses his interpretation of that on the U.S. Senate website. He says the Army Field Manual, which states that "use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor. condoned by the US Government." The Field Manual

...recognizes that torture and cruel treatment are ineffective methods, because they induce prisoners to say what their interrogators want to hear, even if it is not true, while bringing discredit upon the United States. It is consistent with our laws and, most importantly, our values. Let us not forget that al-Qaeda sought not just to destroy American lives on September 11, but American values – our way of life and all we cherish.


Fair enough, right? This is a lot of what I got out of Prof. Halyburton's discussion, because the POWs in Vietnam could be broken, but they were as resistant as they possibly could be and did whatever they could to foil the North Vietnamese efforts to use them for intelligence gathering and propaganda. The North Vietnamese eventually learned that physical torture was indeed ineffective.

Some of the more aggressive approaches listed in the Field Manual include throwing things and shouting. Take a look at those and then go watch Law and Order, it's essentially the same thing. You can frighten people, but it doesn't really specify how, aside from the restrictions listed above. On April 28, 2005, Donald Rumsfeld announced that the Army would be revising the manual. The revised manual would have spelled out more clearly which interrogation techniques were prohibited.

Prof. Halyburton opposes the use of torture in interrogation for exactly the reasons stated above; it's cruel and inhumane and contrary to the principles of the United States of America. However, he said, it is how torture is defined that is the problem. The "threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant" treatment part of the Field Manual (recently revised to more clearly define what is and is not "acceptable") is the part that both he and I have a problem with.

Sleep deprivation is not torture. Sensory deprivation is not torture. Firing a weapon near someone's head, degradation, embarrassment, name-calling, flushing Korans down the toilet (if it ever happened, which it hasn't) - these things are not torture. The definition of torture as mandated by the Bush Administration under pressure from a vocal minority is far too broad to allow interrogatiors to be effective in their duties. The UN Convention Against Torture defines it as "

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Torture is what the Viet Cong did to our POWs during the Vietnam War. Torture is not just any pain, but extreme pain. War is not pretty. Normal people who see what war is like should rightly be appalled. Jesse Ventura said, "War isn’t civilized. War is failure. It’s the ultimate result of a breakdown in public policy, and soldiers are the machines that handle that breakdown. In warfare, you’re taught to do whatever you have to, to stay alive. Can you imagine bringing that mind-set into a party?" Getting information out of fanatics who will blow themselves up to kill other people are likely going to take a little more working over than Detective Stabler gives your average TV child molester.

Torture is what is being done to people who are kidnapped by terrorists overseas and beheaded on camera. They, like the Vietnamese understand that they don't have to win against the US. They only have to not lose, using our own free press to wear us down. How's that for torture? They, like the North Vietnamese, don't care what the Geneva Convention says and feel no obligation to abide by it. Anti-war types seem to only want to stop torture or other oppression when the effort is convenient for them (for example, when they think the US is doing it, as opposed to when they ignore China, Chad, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Rwanda, Somalia, Nepal, the former Iraq regime or Cambodia doing it).

Over-generalizing torture, is like the overuse of words like "terrorist", "nazi" or "hero"; it dilutes the meaning of the word. I believe one can't possibly comprehend torture unless you've experienced it; I know I can't. You have no idea what your limits are and what you can endure.

"Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." - Victor Frankel

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Seriousness of the Charge

Not much time today; there really was something I wanted to talk about. In the meantime, Ann Coulter's latest column, WHY CAN'T I GET ARRESTED? has me in stitches.

All you have to do is go to Google to find the skeletons in my closet. Maybe I'm cooler than Ann Coulter, too!

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[Insert Pithy Post Title]

New, Instant Blogging!

[Something seen in the news today.]

[Quote from above item that raised my interest.]

[Note the obvious irony or express righteous indignation.]

[Repeat above as desired.]

[Conclude with sarcastic comment, implied eye rolling, call to action, and/or opinion about suggested resolution to above stated issue.]

Season with supporting hyperlinks, italicized, bolded or capitalized text to taste, simmer for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees, edit and hit the "Publish Post" button.

Viola!

What Media Bias? IV

Hm.

Check out the first two 'graphs of this AP story from Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi voters faced tight security measures Thursday as they cast ballots in a historic parliamentary election the U.S. hopes will build democracy and lay the groundwork for American troops to withdraw.

A large explosion was heard in downtown Baghdad within minutes of the polls opening and sirens could be heard inside the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses the Iraqi government and the U.S. and British embassies.

AP wants your takeaway from this story to that Iraqis are voting so that America can bolt, and we better do it soon because things are still blowing up?

Next 'graph, however (emphasis mine):
Police said the explosion apparently was caused by a mortar landing near the heavily fortified Green Zone. No injuries were reported, but the blast underscored the security concerns despite a promise by Sunni insurgent groups not to attack the polls.

*sigh* Associated Press, you weary me. The rest of the story is used to describe the electoral process and attempt to instill within you, the reader, hope that America will withdraw from Iraq. The results could take weeks, they write, gleefully thinking of the column-inches they will fill with speculation and rumor about the elections and how badly they were fixed. Good grief.

Certainly when the government is standing on its own two feet, we will need fewer personnel in Iraq. Our presence and level of involvement over there depends entirely upon the stability of the new government and their desire for US assistance. An instructor of mine said yesterday that we will be fighting this war, the Globar War on Terror, as long as I am in the Navy. I agree.

EDIT: By the way, if want the real gouge about what's going on in Iraq, chek out Iraq the Model's election blogging, also available on Pajamas Media!

Incidentally, I just want you to know, that if you do a web search for "Robosquirrel", yes, the majority of items you will come up with are contributions I have made to the Intar-webs. Not that "Wiggy-woo" garbage though. I don't know what that is. I think that guy's Dutch and extremely wrong in the head. I wonder if he's Googled me?

Also, I'd like to direct your attention to some additions to the sidebar, as if you hadn't noticed, you sly devil, you! I found a fun new conservative webcomic (few and far between, I assure you) called Winger (TFHT: Riding Sun). I got a good laugh out of it, so check it out! Also Fires of the Frozen Lower Blogosphere and Roboshrub Inc., which as near as I can tell are run by the same people; don't let the annoying MIDI file on FFLB deter you from reading, just hit the stop button on your browser (sorry, Gyrobo). Roboshrub seems to be... um, really creative! But not everything I read is political. Fetching Jen is there as well, and she's brilliant! Um...

[shuffles notes...]

Ah, yes, Peace on That, James' blog. He's a thoughtful guy with a refreshing point of view; he'll challenge your perceptions if you tend to be an "echo chamber" sort of person. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Also The Western Alliance, which appears to be a sort of aggregation of blog postings from several folks, including Fetching Jen and Free Agency Rules. Stalin the Shark, "hunter of penguins, terror of right-wingers," who you will likely disagree with - it's OK, disagreement sparks discourse, which is warmly welcomed here. Last, but not least, Educated Shoprat, former Navy guy with terrific insight.

I know I don't always do this when I goose the sidebar, so if you're offended that I didn't... well, you don't have a Constitutional right not to be offended, sorry.

Amd now my cat is shoving her face in my armpit while sitting on my keyboard, indicating that I have other priorities at four in the morning besides blogging.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tumors

You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna get myself a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado convertible, hot pink with whaleskin hub caps and all leather cow interior and big brown baby seal eyes for headlights, yeah! And I'm gonna drive around in that baby at 115mph getting one mile per gallon, sucking down quarter pounder cheese burgers from McDonald's in the old-fashioned non-biodegradable styrofoam containers and when I'm done sucking down those grease ball burgers, I'm gonna wipe my mouth with the American flag and then I'm gonna toss the styrofoam container right out the side and there ain't a God damned thing anybody can do about it. You know why? Because we got the bombs, that's why.

Two words. Nuclear [F'in (Sorry, Denis)] weapons, okay?! Russia, Germany, Romania - they can have all the Democracy they want. They can have a big democracy cake-walk right through the middle of Tiananmen square and it won't make a lick of difference because we've got the bombs, okay?!
- Denis Leary, No Cure for Cancer.

I've been a bit behind on the news this week, what with keeping the world safe for democracy and all. I've been following some stories about Iran, however. This is a country to keep an eye on, but I'm experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance.

December 12: Iran offers US share in plant. It sort of sounds like Iran is trying to play ball, but coupled with the recent verbal diarrhea Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has had, it doesn't seem very likely. His government's belligerence could be a factor in our not trusting him with nuclear weapons.

December 13: The U.S. won't guarantee Iran that it won't be attacked, so I guess there's your answer.

Here's the thing that makes me scratch my head, and I don't know how to resolve this internal conflict: We have nuclear weapons, our government has looked into making more nuclear weapons (but "Oh, That Mainstream Media" already reported in October that the Bush administration already dropped nuclear bunker-buster plans), other nations have nuclear weapons. Is it that Iran and North Korea are run by tyrranical madmen that we don't want them to develop nukes? It seems to me there's some conflict in current U.S. policy here. I'm not anti- or pro-nuke. I view it as a fact of life that they exist, and am fully aware that in the wrong hands, they become a problem. I need to read more about why we keep our nukes when we want to prevent others from developing them, or even building nuclear power plants; I'm not up on the policy.

December 14: Iran condemns west accusation on its nuclear program and totally burns the U.S. in the process. He may be a tyrant, but he's got a point. Whether he's honest about his country's peaceful intentions... frankly, I'm doubtful. After all, this is the guy who wants to erase Israel from the map.

Iran is also trying to clandestinely influence the Iraqi elections - surprise! I'm in no way defending Iran, they're a destabilizing force in the region, as is Syria, as was Iraq. What did we do when Pakistan and India started testing nukes? Nothing. What are we going to do if Iran suddenly announces they got 'em too? Hm.

And this is just this week. I don't have an answer for this; it's a complex moral and political situation. You get nukes and then give them up, you give up your ability for retaliation when someone decides to do the unthinkable. But would another coutnry do it? Maybe not against us, but Middle Eastern nations have a demonstrated willingness to unleash all kinds of atrocity against weaker nations with a clear conscience. That's not the kind of world I want to live in, so hypocritical or not, it seems best to make the attempt to control the spread of nuclear arms.

OBTW: I've noticed at least one visitor from Missouri, any word on the dam break out there? Kokonut Pundits has some interesting background. (TFHT: Michelle Malkin)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hard-To-Shop-For Moonbats?


Introducing Stratego for Democrats! Courtesy Six Meat Buffet. (TFHT: Michelle Malkin)

Can't blog. Philosophizing. Long story. Well, not that long. Oh, and it's a boy!

UPDATE: I thought you should see this awesome post by Fetching Jen: How To Destroy America. Wow. Just wow.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh, What The Hell.

Well, since there seems to be no immunity from the dreaded meme, I suppose I've got five weird habits to post on the Intar-webs for anyone in the world to see...

But just to keep us focused, David Adesnik of OxBlog has a great point about Egypt taking part in the democratization of the Middle East. Google "Coptic Christians" and see what kind of horror you find.

Rosemead Times has a nice comment regarding public Christmas displays.

I know many of you are Michelle Malkin reader, but may not be James Lileks readers. I used to listen to his radio show in KSTP AM back in Minnesota (and for a good time, check out Garage Logic on KSTP weekdays from 3-6pm CST, you can listen online!) Lileks wrote a hilarious article for The American Enterprise: a 2005 Rollick.

And I'd like to direct your attention to Peter Porcupine, who appears to be a wacky British time-traveller, or perhaps a Scary-Go-Round fan.

1) I have bad hangnails and have a habit of chewing the dead skin off my fingertips. Sometimes in the middle of conversations.

2) I memorize obscure quotes and facts about movies and TV, often without ever having seen said movie or TV show. I especially love obscure cult movies and am sad that many of them aren't on DVD (like Delicatessen and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!It makes it difficult to remember what I thought up on my own and what I heard or read somewhere sometimes... and I can't seem to do that with professional things, like missle ranges and engineering casualty control procedures. I am a cornucopia of useless knowledge.

3) I have written notes for my watch turnovers aboard ship in haiku. It's been a while, but I'll probably do it again.

4) I keep everything. I'm a complete pack rat. They say genius thrives on clutter, I guess that's my excuse. Some of my favorite things to hoard are toys (I have two plastic dinosaurs (a stegosaurus and a T-rex, an homage to my favorite Firefly character) on top of the computer, a lava lamp on the desk, a four-inch-tall Worf figure from Star Trek: The Next Generation and a six-inch "Buddy Christ" figure from the movie Dogma next to the lamp. I still have all my old trading cards from when I was a kid and my Superman comics. I also have a folder full of things I laminated so I could put them up and take them down when I move to a new office space, like funny comic strips and similar items.

5) Every Sunday at 2pm, I hash. I'm a Hash House Harrier; we're drinkers with a running problem. in a nutshell. There are over 1700 groups world wide (we think), so it's a great way to meet new people when you go places, as one might expect to do in, say... the Navy. This is typically an adult activity, as there is drinking and swearing and occassional lewdness, but some hashes are hashling friendly. For more info, go to The Fabulous Half-Mind Catalog

I'm sure there are more, but you only get five. Any bloggers "tagged" here should take more as a suggestion and a plug than anything else, don't feel like you have to do it: Miss Chatterbox (thanks for stopping by today, by the way! Wow!), Robert Miller (But I Can Hear You), Bloviating Zeppelin (I just like to say it... sounds like a name for an alternative band, maybe a ska band), Mahndisa and TexasFred.

If I'm not wiped out after doing "homework", there may be more later.

EDIT: I also thought you might like to know that vistor #569 was from Sri Lanka and was looking for cats eating cockroaches frothing at the mouth. I'm fresh out.

Also, I am a bonehead with comment moderation and have accidentally deleted some very nice people's posts accidentally. Therefore I have turned it off. First post I get about how to fix a bicycle, and it gets turned back on.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

This Is All Your Fault

The front page article of this week's Economist is about global warming (link goes to an online article different from the print version). I actually got the bug to post a good analysis of the "phenomenon" a while ago, and most recently, Bill Clinton's attention-whoring at the UN climate change conference in Montreal really cheesed me off.

Naturally, as part of the blame America first crowd, Clinton said America (that is, you) was the worst offender for the problem. Thank you, Mr. President.

I'd really like to know more about this study the all the hysterical environmentalists are quoting which states that carbon dioxide levels are at the highest they've been in 650,000 years. How accurate is the geological record in determining composition of the atmosphere before humans ever walked the Earth? Does that mean they were as high as they are now back then? If so, why were they that high then? Was it the Thetans? I'd like to know exactly how scientific your science is before I teach it to my kids, espouse it as fact and go around worshipping it. Does this study apply to creationists, since the Earth is only 5000 years old, or whatever?

Check out this bit of scientific kung-fu, from MSN Encarta:
As early as 1896 scientists suggested that burning fossil fuels might change the composition of the atmosphere and that an increase in global average temperature might result. The first part of this hypothesis was confirmed in 1957, when researchers working in the global research program called the International Geophysical Year sampled the atmosphere from the top of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa. Their instruments indicated that carbon dioxide concentration was indeed rising. Since then, the composition of the atmosphere has been carefully tracked. The data collected show undeniably that the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing.

They took atmospheric CO2 data from the top of an active volcano and the world changed. Always consider the source!

From the Yahoo! article above:
Conservatives argued -- and still do -- that the move to cleaner energy sources and tougher fuel efficiency standards would cost jobs and weaken the economy, he said.

In fact, cleaner technology "would strengthen, not weaken our economy," said Clinton, "... In America, there's no telling how many jobs we could create."

Yeah, it be two, it could be a million, it's a total roll of the dice! Pick a number out of a hat and cite it as absolute certainty! It's fun!

Even though I don't give much credence to doomsday theories of catastrophic climate change, I am always willing to keep an open mind - after all, there isn't really any conclusive evidence that I have seen so far that says it isn't happening, either. So I'm doing some research. So far, I have been disappointed with the level of objectivity I'm seeing. It appears as though these people are looking for evidence of global warming in the available statistics, instead of looking at the evidence objectively and trying to figure out what it means. On of my favorite research sites, How Stuff Works, seems rather unconcerned with arguments that global warming might not be so bad or doesn't exist at all. The MSN Encarta article briefly addresses the main holes in theories of global warming:
Scientists who question the global warming trend point to three puzzling differences between the predictions of the global warming models and the actual behavior of the climate. First, the warming trend stopped for three decades in the middle of the 20th century; there was even some cooling before the climb resumed in the 1970s. Second, the total amount of warming during the 20th century was only about half what computer models predicted. Third, the troposphere, the lower region of the atmosphere, did not warm as fast as the models forecast. However, global warming proponents believe that two of the three discrepancies have now been explained.
The article goes on to provide possible explainations for the first two (although far from conclusive) and scratch its head over the third. I, for one, remain skeptical and I'm continuing to research the issue. I'd like to see some kind of unbiased, non-politically charged or motivated data that shows a positive statistical correlation between human activity and climate change. Is that too much to ask?

I don't have a problem with conservation and responsible use of natural resources (the atmosphere being a natural resource), but I think it is irresponsible to put forward inconclusive research as absolute fact. The effects can be more disastrous to humans than a .66 degrees Celsius average rise in temperature ever will be. Just look at what happened with DDT. But packing out your trash? Finding cleaner economically viable energy sources (have you ever been to Los Angeles? Yuck!)? I'm all for it, as long as it does not adversely impact business and society and does not infringe my or anyone else's Constitutional freedoms.

The Wall Street Journal says that even signatories of the Kyoto Protocol are giving up on emissions targets. Particularly the industrialized nations, since the reduction in emissions that treaty calls for would have a significant negative impact upon their economies. Even Bill Clinton wouldn't submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Legislature for a vote (even though he and Al Gore both signed it), he's got no right to scold President Bush for not doing anything about this harmful treaty, especially when the Bush Administration and Republican-controlled Legislature has finally fixed most of the damage Clinton caused to the economy. I guess if one were inclined to think in terms of conspiracy, one could insinuate that if the Kyoto Protocol causes the collapse of industrialized nations, the goal will be achieved. Of course, China and India are exempt, which really punches a hole in that particular ozone layer.

At the end of the Wall Street Journal editorial, there is a mention of an Asia-Pacific partnership, the details of which have yet to be released, but "it allows the countries to set their own goals for emissions of greenhouse gases, with no enforcement measures. This is in contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrial nations to accept legally binding emissions targets." It seems more symbolic than anything else, but it doesn't infringe upon U.S. sovereignty, and it's much more economically viable. Forcing Kyoto measures on the populations under the governance of the 156 signatories will likely result in lost jobs and increased poverty, for which the Bush Administration (Karl Rove in particular) will be held solely responsible.

The science surrounding these claims and calls to action is tenuous at best, in my opinion. I'm going to keep reading about it, but arguing against global warming these days seems tantamount to arguing articles of faith. Environmentalism is essentially religion and proof denies faith.

If you want to see something really sickening, check out the EPA's global Warming For Kids website. This'll make Rebekah glad she's homeschooled. While we're at it, sign the petition to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!

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Unquestioning Belief In Works of Fiction

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Atrocity

Good grief, what is going on in China?

It appears to me as though China is eventually going to be an open society whether its government likes it or not. There's just no stopping information from flowing and ideas from being exchanged these days. In the meantime, people are going to die.

I'm a little too tired to get smart on this situation right now; it's nice to be able to defer to the professional bloggers when my schedule catches up with me.

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Transformational

Condoleezza Rice has an excellent piece in... um, tomorrow's Washington Post (it is Saturday, isn't it?) about why promoting freedom is the only realistic path to security (as the sub-headline says). (TFHT: Crazy Politico)

Transfomational leadership does not always come easily, as the Bush Administration has demonstrated over the past five years. People are resistant to change, and the White House has been working on a major paradigm shift, if I may borrow from Dr. Covey. The world has not seen the likes of this since Ronald Reagan, and he had just as much trouble convincing people that his lofty goals were possible. President Bush is not Reagan, obviously, but they have a similar leadership style, which makes one want to draw a comparison.

Dr. Rice writes:
Like the ambitious policies of Truman and Reagan, our statecraft will succeed not simply because it is optimistic and idealistic but also because it is premised on sound strategic logic and a proper understanding of the new realities we face.


As always, Dr. Rice is worthy of your attention. It would be nice if she'd consider a presidential run in 2008, she'd be a shoe-in, but the word from her has been that it won't be happening. Imagine the cognitive dissonance of a Rice vs. H. R. Clinton election? Moonbats' heads would explode.

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Failure: When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough

Accuse a Little, Lie a Little, Obfuscate a Little, Pontificate a Lot

That's sort of a butchered reference to the gossip scene in The Music man, sorry.

Somebody get a memo to John Kerry, quick! Dude, you lost!

The only plan the so-called leaders of the Democrat Party seem to have is to criticize the President while attempting to deflect any requests for their brilliant plan by either saying they would do exactly what the President is doing or blustering, "Well, I'm not the President!"

So John Kerry gave a speech that was not broadcast, although there were members of the media there. The non-broadcast speeches are usually where these people show their true colors, but thanks to Ira Stoll of the New York Sun you get to see the high points of the speech instead of having to wade through the whole thing and try to stay awake. (TFHT: James Taranto).

He spouts more fo the same milquetoast criticism of President Bush's polices, ignoring the success and highlighting preceived failure, continuing to demonstrate a remarkable lack of vision and forward-thinking; qualities that a person would look for in... oh, a presidential candidate, perhaps? Saying the president has failed does not make it true. Saying that the president has not taken the basic steps to make this country safer makes me wonder just what those basic steps are, if they haven't been taken yet? What new ideas to you have to contribute to the public discourse, Mr. Kerry?
So this is the long range mission in the war on terror:

*one, make sure the right side wins the war of ideas within the Islamic world;

*two, build up diversified economies and civil society;

*and, three, end the empire of oil.

You and your fellow democrats, including Crazy Howie, have said they would do exactly what President Bush has done, except for taking the military out of the equation. They would also set up a tent without a center pole, so it seems. Build a ship without laying the keel? You get the idea. Which side do you suppose is the "right side," anyway?

A bit of irony, as well:
We have to pay greater attention to how our words and deeds are understood in the Middle East, because our good intentions are doubted by the very people the terrorists seek to turn against us.

Does that sound familiar to you?

If you want to read the transcript of John F'in Kerry's remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, go here. Never let it be said he was taken out of context. And Stoll does have some nice things to say about Kerry at the end of his article, believe it or not:
For all the grating negativity, it needs to be said in Mr. Kerry’s defense that it takes a certain amount of gumption to keep going on in the public arena after a defeat, rather than retreating to the comfort of one of his mansions or to the Kennedy School of Government or the land of American Express commercials or Viagra ads a la Michael Dukakis or Robert Dole.

And it needs to be said, too, that Mr. Kerry is hardly the worst that his party has to offer. Rather than deriding the growth of democracy in Iraq, he said yesterday that he thinks the upcoming election there “is going to be a momentous event, an important event.” He said a total American withdrawal in Iraq in the next month or two would “endanger our interests,” and he said that if it were up to him, there would still be tens of thousands American troops in Iraq a year from now.

Mr. Kerry concluded his speech with an appeal to President Bush “to put a little more Harry Truman in his foreign policy.” Mr. Kerry, in an allusion to Mr. Bush, said that Truman was “another president who prided himself on simple virtues and unshakable resolve.”

Mr.Kerry praised Truman for presiding over “the greatest era of bipartisan, multi-lateral foreign policy our country or the world has ever seen.” Well, that is one thing he is known for, and that is what Mr. Kerry seemed to be speaking of when he asked Mr. Bush to be more like Truman. But Truman is also known for ordering the use of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And for leading America into a Cold War that lasted two generations. Mr. Kerry didn’t mention either of those aspects of Truman’s legacy.

The more Mr. Kerry droned on earnestly, the more convinced this listener became that it is George W. Bush, not John F. Kerry, who is Truman material. President Bush may not be winning any popularity contests at the moment, but he won the election, and there is nothing like sitting and listening to Mr. Kerry talk for an hour to remind Americans why.


In my humble opinion, these people need to stop playing politics with people's lives and start coming up with solutions. The Republicans aren't perfect, but at least they have a plan and realistic perspective. The Republicans need an opposition part with viable, reality-based ideas to keep them in check. People vote for Democrats because they present an unrealistic, but really nice view of the world. Everybody would get along if only they were in charge, just like when Bill Clinton was in the White House and all we had to worry about was who he was boning that day and that pesky hole in the ozone layer. Right?

In a perfect world, all the moonbats and others who haven't clue how the real world works would break away and form their own political party, so we could easily pick out the chaff. Then the folks with realistic ideas, the leaders who want to be truly transformational, could tune them out like the Libertarians (unfortunately) and Communists are tuned out. Unfortunately, in order to be taken seriously, people like John Kerry need to leech on a popular political party; where else can you make it look like you're fighting for the little guy while simultaneously doing everything they can to keep the little guy completely dependent upon them.

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