Saturday, July 30, 2005
  While perusing...

While looking through my old Model T books, I was captivated by this ad...

Ford aimed the ad at extremely poor folks, without romanticizing their situation. The dirt and disorder of poverty comes through clearly, but it's taken for granted that poor folks want to survive and improve their lot. They want to cling to something trustworthy: the doctor, and by sneaky extension, the Ford. Can you imagine a modern ad selling the Focus to homeless drunks? Modern appeals to the poor are in the hip-hop vein, where the underlying assumption is not improvement but revolution.

Now look at the doctor. Knowing ruefully that he could cure almost nothing [this was three years before penicillin], he nevertheless tried. Would he understand modern doctors who can cure or control almost everything, but who are required to waste most of their time and money on unnecessary tests and paperwork?


And while I'm in blast-from-the-past mode, consider this Chrysler ad from WW2. How did this make it to publication? It doesn't spend even one syllable on the crucial distinction between the 99.9% of Japanese who were good peaceful people versus the tiny handful of bad apples who obviously did not represent the true ideals of Shinto.

This was typical of all ads, news, and entertainment. And yet, despite this unconscionable lack of cultural understanding and tolerance, we somehow mysteriously managed to win that war.
  New Nukes! New Nukes! New Nukes!

Polistra hasn't been seen 'in these columns' for a little while. After the London bombing she went back to the Mill to calm down. Looks like she's been busy, though....

The Congress has been busy as well, giving us a Return to Nukes which will make far more difference in the long run than a Return to Flight. The Energy bill does several things:

Revives a program for nuclear fuel reprocessing, which was killed after Three Mile Island. Long overdue.

Pushes education of nuke engineers, including a fellowship and internship arrangement for two-way interaction between the national labs and the academics.

Revises the Price-Anderson Act, dealing with liability of nuke plant operators. Enlarges the limits and adds inflation adjustment.

Section 641 is the big one. Idaho National Engineering Lab (INEL) will be developing a new prototype reactor aimed at commercial use, to directly generate hydrogen for auto fuel as well as electricity.

Includes some subtle but important changes in regulation of hydroelectric dams, making it harder for the enemy's Environmentalist Regiment to block new or improved power generation.

After 30 years of letting dark superstition and OPEC rule us, we're finally taking a giant official step back toward science and independence.

Barring unforeseen developments on other fronts, I think this will be the Bush Administration's biggest domestic legacy.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
  A small step for a man ...

... a giant leak for mankind.

Apologies to Henry Ford for the visual metaphor. Henry was criticized for producing his beloved T after it was hopelessly out of fashion. But NASA beats Henry. The T was made from 1908 to 1927 = 19 years. The Shuttle has been flying from 1981 to 2005 = 24 years, and no sign of stopping.

Irrelevant sidebar: As with gas prices, it's easy to get nostalgic about the low price of a Model T. Well, let's do the numbers. A four-door sedan in 1925 listed for $750. This included an engine capable of 40 MPH in a tailwind, but didn't include windshield wipers, heater, or instrumentation, which most other sedans of the time had. (You could get a 'base' T for less, if you wanted to crank-start.) Inflation from 1925 to now is about 12. So this price is about $9000 in modern dollars. For that same price, you can get a Kia Rio four-door, which gives you (to say the least) a bit more performance, safety, and luxury.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
  NASA: adventure or nostalgia?

Nostalgia is fine. Getting back on the bike after you fall off is fine. But if you're going to spend billions of dollars, you should be accomplishing something meaningful.

Busting hurricanes is extremely meaningful, and is already known to be possible. Clearly it requires some expensive engineering and testing. NASA could help with that.

Busting up persistent or 'stuck' jet streams is not known to be possible, which makes it an excellent New Frontier. There must be some way to disrupt the positive-feedback patterns that have done so much damage in recent years; some way to get the jet stream moving, so it doesn't give three months of rain to some locations and three months of baking to others.
Monday, July 25, 2005

I'll bet you've seen a news item like this more than once:

Brenda Evans, 38, who is fighting cancer, received an unpleasant surprise in the mail yesterday....

And I'll bet you've thought something like this:
Fighting? If that's a war, Brenda's fighting for Cancer, not against it.

When I hear experts talking about a "civil war within Islam", I see this picture. So far, the alleged "moderate side" of Mohammed's world has been fighting on the same side as the cancer. I'll believe it's a Civil War when I see spontaneous resistance, preferably suicide attacks, by the "moderate side".
Saturday, July 23, 2005
  Collateral damage? Not quite......

At this point it appears that the man shot by British police was not directly connected to the bombers, though he may have known them.

Remember: A major goal of unconventional warfare, from protest marches to bombings, is to confuse and de-legitimize the authorities. Cognitive dissonance. The enemy forces the police to choose between: (1) in the heat of chase, shoot an obvious suspect or (2) hold fire. If the police choose (1), the enemy-controlled media [led here by BBC, which has been pro-Mohammed since 1988] will destroy the will of the people. If the police choose (2), the terrorists are simply free to operate.

As I've said dozens of times before, we didn't have this problem in WW2 because the enemy's propagandists were obviously based in Germany, Italy and Japan and had names like Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw-Haw. Now they're based in New York and London, and the pro-American propagandists are down here in the samizdat band.

What do we need to do? Maintain our unconfused resolve. And (a bit harder) try to spread the idea that wartime behavior is not the same as peacetime. In WW2 this need was pounded home nightly by both news and entertainment. Don't hoard, don't consume, lights out at night to avoid giving bombers a target. Our requirements are different, but the need for instruction is just as strong. Don't leave mysterious packages, don't spill white powder in public places, don't act like a bomber.

This was not just a lucky event for the enemy; it's part of the plan. Senhor Menezes was killed by the Mohammedans just as surely as the unfortunate tourists in Sharm el Sheikh.


Later: It occurs to me that incidents like this also form a good argument for Official English in the long run. If authorities have to give cautions in 27 different languages, the information will be lost in the buzz. It should be clearly stated that failure to understand English is your problem, not ours. And an argument for reinstating the lost emergency broadcast setup. Yes, we do have the EAS, but it's used solely for weather, and based mainly on computer-generated messages. It needs to be 'humanized'.
Friday, July 22, 2005
  Bleg: I'd really like an answer to this question.

Would a Jihadist claim to be a follower of Bahai as a cover story, or would that be simply unthinkable?

I encountered an interesting character on the bus today; he claimed to have been in the US for several years, as a Bahai refugee from either Iran or Pakistan. Hard to tell the details because his English was almost nonexistent. Sort of quick phrase-book stuff.

In max-suspicion mode, Bahai seems like a good cover story for a recent arrival. But if it's just unimaginable, then this guy is a true refugee; I know that Bahai-ists (or whatever they're properly called!) have been seriously persecuted in Iran, and I don't want to make this guy's life unnecessarily hard.


Later: No answer; just as well. I'll stick with instinct and do nothing, though I might regret it. I knew some real Jihadi types back in the '70s in Oklahoma, and this guy was not like them in any way. Just a lost soul who deserves to find whatever freedom he can. I won't erase the question, though. Given the way the Web works, I'm sure the question will sooner or later trickle up or down to somebody who should consider it.
  Roberts again

I don't give a happy horseshit whether he's decent, brilliant, collegial, fair-minded, responsible, well-respected, etc, etc.

I only want him to be LITERATE.

That's all it requires: a Supreme must actually READ the Constitution. The legacy one that was written in 1789, not the one that consists of the collected treasonous ravings of black-robed saboteurs.

A literacy test is simple:

"Do you disagree with any of Justice Thomas's decisions?"

If he won't answer the question, he doesn't deserve support. If he can think of more than one or two minor disagreements, he doesn't deserve support.

Why is this so difficult and subjective? If you wanted to hire 9 baseball players, you'd look for a variety of talents and specialties, but you'd want all 9 to play by the rules of baseball, not the rules of soccer or curling. If you were hiring 9 C++ programmers, you'd seek different talents and specialties, but you'd want all 9 to write C++ code that compiles under the Stroustrup standard. You wouldn't want them to produce Shakespearean sonnets or Faulknerian novels, no matter how fine such writing may be in other circumstances.
  What's the diff IV and V
When the British police say they'll shoot to kill, they mean it, by God.


Our authorities didn't do that after 9/11, though the infinitely heroic civilians aboard Flight 93 did.


Another more subtle difference: Fox is interviewing Lord John Taylor at the moment, who appears to be of African origin. Lord John is saying that the use of deadly force is fully justified, and that jailing bad Imams is also fully justified.

What would any of our black Lords be doing in such a situation? Lord Jesse, Lady Maxine, the Earl of Sharpton, etc? They would already have incited a full-scale riot against the police by now.

I think there's more hope for Britain than for us.


On New York's idiotic random searches, and the bizarrely careful description of what the public should be watching for:

I wonder if the police have ever actually ridden a bus.

Half the passengers are wearing several coats, mumbling, chanting, sweating, clenching fists, fumbling with the contents of bags.... This description will do a great job of catching your basic street transients or schizo outpatients, or eccentric older folks. It also provides the real terrorists with an excellent and specific list of behaviors to avoid.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
  Northern exposure

A well-built tunnel on the US-Canada border has been discovered and shut down. The tunnel ran from a greenhouse in Langley, BC to a vacant house in Lynden, WA just across the border. This seems to be the first such tunnel on the northern border.

The US Attorney, in a news conference right now, says they are investigating it first as a drug-smuggling operation, but hints that there may be other purposes connected to Homeland Security.

Apparently the authorities have been watching the operation from planning to completion, and made the arrests after seeing the first delivery of drugs. So the tunnel never had a chance to be used freely.

They have arrested three people named Raj, Wu, and Alenzuela. (Probably wrong spelling; transcribing from the news conference.) Interesting combination of names, eh?

In a way this is good news; if the smugglers find it necessary to build a tunnel, perhaps our surface enforcement is more effective than it appears.

Story, before the news conf, here.

Savages have struck again in London...

One odd and entirely meaningless thing, but considering al Qaeda's love of symbolism, worth pondering. Were the locations chosen to create a lethal anagram?

Warren Street [War in the street?]
Shepherd's Bush
The Oval [Office?]
Waterloo [obvious]

If we were dealing with an clever individual psychopath like BTK or Unabomber, we could assume these were intentional references.


Remembering something... I wasn't fully serious when I said this but now I'm starting to wonder about it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Looks like we dodged the bullet on this one.... Roberts is an excellent and shrewd choice, as far as can be determined. During his short Appeals Court service, he dissented to a decision that supported the Endangered Species Act. I can't find more detail on the ruling, but if People for the American Way hates him for it, that's a pretty good indication.

Later: Sometimes traffic analysis gives more info than language. The loyal troops are defending Roberts, but I note that Rush finds it necessary to have TWO guest interviews this morning, one with Giuliani and one with VP Cheney. When Rush violates his "I'm all the news you need" policy twice in a day, you know the strategists must sense a severe need for reinforcement. Leads me to wonder if there's a hidden ideological problem with Roberts that needs to be immunized....


Had it up to here with the urbane sophisticates at NR who feel that defending the civilized world is "stupid" and "immoral", but can't think of a goddamn reason why. Ironic that our establishment is turning Carterish just at the moment when the British establishment is finally turning Churchillian.
Monday, July 18, 2005
  The Niger scandal

The country of Niger doesn't need epistemology. It needs regime change.

Here's a good set of stories on recent events there. Essentially, the NGOs and aid agencies are trying hard, but the local government is too stupid to go along with them.

It has lots of uranium, which is what started the "other" scandal, and farmland which produces plentifully in good years. If those resources could be used intelligently, Niger could be a moderately successful country.

Can we spell "colonialism"?

At some point Africa will have to cast off Soviet-era propaganda and decide which is more important: full and corrupt independence, or survival. Hopefully soon.


Later: Could be a secondary advantage. For the last few decades, France has been acting like a non-custodial father: driving recklessly, shooting up the saloon. Possibly he would behave better if he got custody of his African 'offspring' again.
(I'm reminded of the old joke, "What happens when you play a country's record backwards?") He might also be able to send some of his Mohammedans back to the colonies, where they could help rebuild those places instead of causing trouble at home.


  What's the diff III

More of those quaint little Brit/Am differences.

British Foreign Sec't'ry Jack Straw spoke in a clear Churchillian tone today:

It is the responsibility of people in the civilised world to stand up to that terrorism and not provide them with any excuse whatsoever.

Compare with a typical calm and measured exchange between an American reporter and a Bush administration spokesjelly:


Spokesjelly: Well, now, Helen [giggle] I don't think we can say that just yet...


Spokesjelly: Now, I think we should wait for the [giggle] investigation, you know, and it's true that Muslims were completely justified.....


Spokesjelly: Well, maybe we're only 99.9999999 percent guilty of those crimes, you know, and it's not strictly impossible, in theory anyway, that not everyone in the [giggle] world would fail to disagree [giggle] with that entirely valid assumption....
Sunday, July 17, 2005
  What's the diff II

The allegedly "moderate" part of Mohammed's world in Britain after 7/7 sounds very different from the same alleged section in America after 9/11. The Brits are condemning terrorism with absolutely no Buts, while every single "moderate" leader in America gave a brief lip-service condemnation, only as preface for a long recitation of grievances against the West.

From The Herald:

Following the bomb attacks in London, Shahid Malik MP appeared on national media condemning the outrage which was, in part, committed by one of his constituents. ... A Labour MP, he opposed the war in Iraq and many British Muslims hope Malik will one day become the first Muslim Cabinet minister. Used to being assaulted by ... fundamentalist Muslims, he thought his outright condemnation of the bomb attacks and his claim that the Muslim community must bear some responsibility would earn him enemies among his own people. 'When I spoke out I expected a backlash ... but I had people being very supportive and who agree this is a wake-up call for all of us.'

What's the difference? For one thing, Britain has an active anti-immigrant political party with Fascist overtones, the BNP, with considerable membership in the cities where Mohammedans are common. More importantly, the British police have declared that they will shoot on sight anyone who appears to be planning another terrorist act. After 9/11, our FBI (apparently) questioned and detained a significant number of potential suspects, but we bent over forward and grasped our knees to avoid naming the enemy publicly.

In a warrior culture, the threat of actual force wonderfully concentrates the mind.....
  What's the diff?

Interesting and well-done story on NBC's Dateline tonight, about al Qaeda's continuing connections with Liberian ex-dictator Charles Taylor. As the story unfolded, I noticed an echo ... and soon realized that the story was parallel in many ways to the Niger / Saddam / Wilson story.

Enemy using disorganized African countries to acquire money and weapons; Bush administration softpedaling or covering up. Specifically, we paved the way for Taylor to take a cushy exile in Nigeria, and because we need Nigeria's oil, we're allowing him to continue dealing with Osama's folks from his "house arrest". This is arguably justifiable in the heat of war (enemy of my enemy and all that) but it still doesn't look good.

What's not parallel: No members of the Party of Treason are screaming about this situation. Why? Because in this case administration incompetence leads to NOT fighting the enemy. Letting the enemy grow strong is always OK with Democrats, even when it should give them a great chance to issue valid criticism of Bush. In the Niger / Saddam case, the questionable intelligence led to FIGHTING the enemy, which is never OK with Democrats.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
  Random local notes

Latest on Gayor West: Shannon Sullivan's recall effort is finally gathering momentum. A state judge has agreed to speed up the examination of the Gayor's objection to the recall, so the petitions will have a fighting chance to hit the fall ballot. [I've repeatedly observed that Wash state judges are surprisingly rational; really shouldn't be a surprise, since they're elected to short terms, not appointed for life.]

Mixed: Wash has been trying to restore its open primary system after a federal Emperor decided it was "unconstitutional" a couple years ago. The '04 election was run with genuine party primaries, but the locals wanted their own tradition back, so they passed an initiative designed to get around the Emperor's objections. Didn't work; yesterday a different Emperor said the new setup was also "unconstitutional", which of course it isn't. I have mixed feelings about this: open primaries are a bad idea, leading to weak parties. But the state should be allowed to pick its own method, no matter how dumb. When black-robed Emperors force unwanted laws down the people's throats, rebelliousness takes over, and there's no chance to examine the inherent virtues of one method over another.

Swarmings: Vancouver, BC is suffering from a spate of swarming incidents, in which a wolfpack of teens beat up another teen, usually chosen for low status. This seems to be a long-standing Canadian problem, as you can determine by a quick Google on 'swarmings'.

Here's how we get swarmings: A couple of young assholes were shooting bottle rockets directly into the windows of passing cars. They chose the wrong car, containing a pair of older assholes, who chased the younger assholes on foot. One of the younger assholes ran into traffic and was hit and killed by a car. Now the older assholes are being charged with manslaughter, the surviving younger asshole is being treated as a victim instead of a criminal, while the dead younger asshole is being treated as a hero instead of a criminal.
Story here.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
  Derb's question
Derbyshire at NRO asks a genuinely HARD question.

Given that the four London suicide bombers were all raised -- in at
least one case, born and raised -- in Britain, the quintessential
liberal democracy; and given that the entire premise of current U.S.
policy is that we can end suicide bombing and other terrorism by
bringing liberal democracy to the Middle East; shouldn't we be
re-thinking our policy?

My answer, by no means valid, runs like this:

Democracy itself isn't the main variable in either case. It's just one tool, perhaps even a symbol, aimed at a larger goal. Reducing the power of the 'lost empire' motive, and distributing hope more widely, is the ultimate goal.

Consider first the difference between Old World and New. 'Born and raised' means less in the New World. In this hemisphere, alienation is more evenly distributed. Nobody has an ancestral right to titles and land, which means that outsiders aren't quite so far outside and insiders aren't guaranteed perpetual insidership. Our home-grown terrorists (so far anyway) haven't been suicidal because of this reduced gradient.

In the Arab part of the world, paranoia reigns supreme. Mohammed owned half of the known world 1000 years ago. The Crusades, and the rise of capitalism in places like Venice, led to the loss of Mohammed's empire. The Arab paranoid explanation accurately credits these two events for the loss, but misses the main point. Yes, it was indeed the Jewish bankers, but it wasn't a secret conspiracy.

Um .., Well, actually it was, and here's the secret symbol of the conspiracy: (Don't tell anyone!!!!!)

Now you know: Charging interest for loans is why Jews and Christians took over, and Mohammed lost his empire. It's not quite the whole story, of course, but it was the critical starting point for organized capitalism.

With open credit, banks want to lend money to anyone who looks like a good risk. Higher interest for higher risk. Without a modern credit system, everything depends on personal power. Under Mohammed's rules, banks are not allowed to pay or receive interest, so they rig up various under-the-table schemes, essentially bribery, and all highly dependent on personal status. In Saudi Arabia the hereditary elite controls all the money. In Saddam's Iraq, the Party elite controlled everything.

Now, as we introduce the arrangement code-worded as democracy, we are also introducing modern banking methods. We've already seen the effects of the political change, as Sunni leaders like Sadr have laid down their arms to push for political power. We have yet to see the effect of the economic changes, but if the experiment works, there will be a gradual fadeout of personal power and paranoid explanations, and a fade-in of individualistic thinking. If you fail, it's not because the Jews are conspiring against you; it's because you didn't aim properly or try hard enough.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
  Woolsey vs the Economoids

I've mentioned the impending takeover of Unocal by the Chinese government before. Now it looks like Congress is getting down to business, hopefully with a good result.

James Woolsey, who is rarely if ever wrong, gave this strong statement to the committee:

[Crudely hand-transcribed!]

We are dealing here not in any reasonable sense with a takeover attempt by one corporation of another; we are dealing with a takeover attempt by an organ of the most powerful Communist dictatorship in the world.

It elevates form over substance in the extreme to regard this undertaking as something being done -- in any sense of the word -- by a private corporation simply for economic reasons. CNOOC has received a $7 billion loan from the Chinese state [for the takeover]; this acquisition will result in a 50% increase in offshore pumping capability for China. Now, I recognize that there is utility in encouraging China to move from its current system toward ... some aspect of economic freedom, and toward democracy and rule of law, as has happened in Taiwan, South Korea, and the Phillipines. As prosperity came upon them, they moved toward democracy.

We may hope that China turns toward democracy and the rule of law. But it may also do what dictatorships are wont to do, namely to find an external enemy against which to rally its people. Taiwan ... is the most likely way for them to go in seeking a foreign enemy.

Some would counsel that because China holds a great deal of US debt, we must be cautious. It's true that we borrow 250 billion per year to pay for our imported oil; also true that we would be most wise to turn toward domestic production, but that's another topic.

If we start down the path of saying that we cannot stand up to China in this attempt to take over a very strategic part of our economy, because they own a large part of our debt, we will already have lost. China invented strategy many thousands of years ago. For anyone who believes that this is purely a commercial undertaking, unrelated to a national strategy of domination of energy markets and of the Western Pacific, I would suggest that this view is extraordinarily naive.

Frank Gaffney appeared after Woolsey, lining out an extra dimension to the takeover. Unocal owns a mine in Central California (Molycorp) which is the only major US source of rare-earth minerals (Lanthanum, neodymium, etc.) These minerals are not household words, but they are critical parts of industrial production and specialized military equipment. This mine has been CLOSED since the mid-90s because the state-sponsored terrorist organization EPA attacked it with lawsuits. Gaffney believes that China may have steered the Clinton admin toward this closure as part of its long-term strategy.

Here's an article on MolyCorp vs EPA, mentioned by Gaffney.

Later on, the hearing heated up, as Jerry Taylor of Cato defended the economoid side with this weird argument: China is only trying to advance its own economic interests, so we shouldn't try to advance our own by stopping this acquisition. Rep. Weldon of PA gave a magnificently fiery response. I don't think I've EVER heard anything better from a Congressman!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
  T minus 10, T minus 9, T minus 8, T minus 7, .....

To boldly go where a couple hundred men have gone before!

Ah, the exhilaration. Ah, the excitement of waiting for the next crash. Has NASA become the same kind of sport as NASCAR?

[UPDATE: Launch was scrubbed by problem with a sensor. So I guess that's not a fair comparison. NASCAR teams have mechanics who keep the cars in top shape.]

Hint to NASA:

If this doesn't suggest a new challenge, a project that would justify your budget 10 times over and gather support from normal Americans, I give up.

One short comment on the Rove business, which I don't find hugely interesting. Seems that conservatives haven't quite caught the pattern.

Think McCarthy. Joe McCarthy (along with Dick Nixon and Jack Kennedy, then in Congress) was trying to expose disloyalty in our foreign service. Rove was doing exactly the same thing, on a much smaller scale.

The internal enemy (which is much larger and more powerful now) responds in the same boring Orwellian form: Loyalty is treason, treason is loyalty.


Aaaarrggghh. One more thought, while listening to the idiotic shoutfest. This is where the New Tone gets you. If Bush spokesmen had been properly partisan from the start, they could have educated Americans about the blazingly obvious and long-standing problems of the CIA, which were caused entirely by pro-Soviet Democrats in Congress. From that background, they could have declared openly that Wilson and Plame were defending their rogue agency against American interests. It's too late to start now, though. Since Bush has always failed to place blame where it belongs, his spokesmen are now stuck with silly legalistic defenses of Rove's Machiavellian tricks.
Monday, July 11, 2005
  Stop in the name of God.

That's what the Pope said to terrorists today.

So far I've been impressed, even dazzled, by Ratzinger/Benedict XVI as a rock-solid intellect and man of faith.

I was unimpressed by JPII in his last decade or so; he had been fierce in opposition to Nazis and Soviets when they hurt Poland, but fuzzy and lukewarm when speaking of other tyrannies. Might be uncharitable, but I finally concluded that JPII was more Polish than small-c catholic.

XVI seems to understand today's situation well. I wonder, though, if he has pondered the consequences of calling on Osama to stop in the name of God.

Osama is essentially counting coup, making raids on the Crusaders to show the other bands of the Mohammedan tribe, and other religions, that Osama has a superior broadband connection to the Central Node.

Well then, what if this ....

.... continues to happen after the Pope has said Stop in the name of Jehovah? Osama will be able to say -- convincingly -- that Allah controls the traffic.

If, on the other hand, Osama's attempts are mysteriously and permanently aborted, ...

I'm not going to bet against XVI just yet.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
  Nicey-nice, squishy-squish
Malkin seems to be going a bit wobbly, telling other bloggers to watch their anti-enemy rhetoric. Presumably she would reject this bit of bigoted rhetoric:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

... since it clearly implies killing as many of the enemy as necessary.


Bush's medical model has a real chance of working, and we should give the treatment a fair clinical trial. But the injections of democracy and capitalism won't take unless we make it deadly clear that they are not optional. The followers of Mohammed intend to kill all of us. The 'moderates' in that part of the world [if such actually exist] will have no motive to root out the hard-liners if it looks like the latter can win. We must be convincingly prepared to take 10,000 eyes for an eye, to take 10,000 lives for a life. Strength counts above all in a warrior culture.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
  Are we really awake yet?

"It doesn't seem to me that Portland out of all the cities in the US would be the first they'd attack, so I feel pretty safe." ... Passenger on Portland's light rail system, interviewed by KGW-TV.

Sounds sensible and normal. But is it true? Consider that Portland's authorities have been, shall we say, 'neutral' in this war, in the same way that Switzerland was 'neutral' in WW2. Consider that al-Qaeda likes significant dates. Consider that, according to Steve Emerson, the London bombing coincided with the start of the trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri, who led the cell near Portland that was rolled up a couple years ago.

So in fact, out of all the cities in the US, Portland has a unique connection to this particular attack. A little more citizen awareness of this fact might be a good idea.
  They will not prevail; we shall prevail.

[Title above was spoken by Ambassador David Manning a few minutes ago.]


And we'll stand a better chance of prevailing if we understand that the enemy is not "terror" but the followers of Mohammed. And they don't hate us "because we're free"; they hate us because we're Christians and Jews.
  'No credible threat'

I wish reporters and officials would put less emphasis on this theme; it leads to a public misunderstanding of al-Qaeda's methods. We should instead be thinking in terms of total surprise, with no warnings or claims of responsibility.

Also, I wish reporters would quit asking "Does this appear to have been ordered by bin Laden?" Completely irrelevant. We know that Osama is not the four-star general at the top of a rigid hierarchy. Al-Qaeda has layers of organization, but basically it's an armed idea, not an army.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  Stem cells

StemCells, Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement with ReNeuron, a privately-owned UK biotech corporation. The agreement enables ReNeuron to exploit its "c-mycER" conditionally immortalized adult human neural stem cell technology for therapy and other purposes.

In return for the license, StemCells received an equity interest in ReNeuron and a cross-license to the exclusive use of ReNeuron's technology for certain diseases and conditions, including lysosomal storage diseases, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. ReNeuron will supply cells for StemCells use under the cross-license.

Hmm. That's funny. I thought the only stem cells worth using are embryonic cells, and I thought that Bushitler had prohibited all stem cell research. Must have misread something. Or maybe the media are deliberately misreporting... Nah.

Seriously, this is exciting news. I need to learn more on this subject; "conditionally immortalized" is just too tantalizing to skip over.

Story here
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
  BRAC again

This week C-Span is running a series of BRAC hearings, in which local communities and many retired Generals plead with the commission. At the risk of sounding Rushy, I was even more right than I thought. I had been half-consciously assuming that the endangered bases were sort of obsolete, or could reasonably be considered as 'extra'. I was trying to make the case that we need to keep bases like that in the system, because (thanks to the state-sponsored terrorist organization EPA) it's simply impossible to build a large facility from scratch nowadays.

Listening today to the hearings on Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota and Crane Naval Ammunition Plant in southern Indiana, I realize that these two bases are not 'extra' by any possible definition. The Crane facility, which I'd never heard of before, has an impressive network of railroads and roads leading to storage bunkers (part of which is shown here in a deLorme map section)

and does both research and production of rad-hardened electronics, among many other critical jobs. If Anorexic Rumsfeld succeeds in closing this facility, we'll lose those skills and all those decades of specialized construction. Ellsworth is one of two B-1 bases; the other is McConnell in Wichita. Rummy would put all the B-1s at McConnell, which is such a dumb idea that even an ex-hippie civilian like me can spot it.

A more subtle consideration: Existing bases develop a kind of YIMBY factor, making it easier to build or emplace things that might normally be considered 'noxious' or would stir up community opposition. I saw this in Enid, where churches and community organizations are far stronger than you'd expect in a town of that size. Why? Because Vance AFB wives are the volunteer backbone of the community. Enid understands this debt, and reciprocates. So a base contributes far more than just taxes and business.
  War vaccine

Book review in the latest New Scientist, titled "A Cure for the War Epidemic". Needless to say, the picture with the article shows some Anglican-looking ladies carrying signs that say "Stop the War Coalition! Don't Attack Iraq!". Also needless to say, Comrade Paul Ehrlich is involved in this.

Here's the theme: ... Memes spread up, down and sideways in a population, not just from parent to offspring. They are impermanent. They vary enormously and quickly. Yet that is exactly how pathogens behave. Like pathogens, ideas must infect a critical number of people before an epidemic starts. .... Because if ideas can spread like epidemics, then epidemiological understanding may suggest controls. The idea of launching a war reaches its tipping point when it has infected enough of the right people. Could there be some way of recognizing where those thresholds are, and interfering by launching counterideas among the right people in the same way that doctors launch vaccine drives against disease?

Of course, these Osama-loving Luddites are thinking of ways to vaccinate America against Bush. But they are missing the point entirely, diametrically, and mirror-imagely. In fact Bush's war is PRECISELY an implementation of this same medical model. He is attempting to inject bubbles of democracy and capitalism into the parts of the world most heavily infected by Mohammed's virus.

[The book supposedly being reviewed is Fever of War by Carol Byerly,
but the review doesn't seem to mention the book at all!]
Sunday, July 03, 2005
  Polistra gets cranky on the 4th.

Come along for the ride here. (7 MB clip in MPG format)

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