Saturday, September 27, 2003

Religious persecution in the US

David Limbaugh (yes, he's related to you-know-who) is a conservative Christian columnist who has written a book called "Persecution: How Liberals are waging political war against Christianity". He plugs it in this column. Or if you like a more colorful presentation, check out Ann Coulter here.

The examples given are incredible - here are some from Coulter's column:
In a public school in St. Louis, a teacher spotted the suspect, fourth-grader Raymond Raines, bowing his head in prayer before lunch. The teacher stormed to Raymond's table, ordered him to stop immediately and sent him to the principal's office. The principal informed the young malefactor that praying was not allowed in school. When Raymond was again caught praying before meals on three separate occasions, he was segregated from other students, ridiculed in front of his classmates, and finally sentenced to a week's detention.
Or how about this?:
Before snack time in her kindergarten class in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., little Kayla Broadus held hands with two of her classmates and recited this prayer: "God is good, God is great, thank you, God, for my food." The alert teacher pounced on Kayla, severely reprimanded her, and reported her to the school administration. In short order, the principal sent a sternly worded letter to Kayla's parents advising them that Kayla was not allowed to pray in school, aloud or with others.

The school board then issued a triumphant press release crowing about its victory over a kindergartner praying before snack time. Thus was creeping theocracy in Saratoga Springs stopped dead in its tracks! Kayla's mother brought a lawsuit, winning Kayla the right to pray out loud. But she was still prohibited from holding hands with others while she prayed.
And from the alleged "Bible Belt":
Thanks to the vigilance of an alert teacher at Lynn Lucas Middle School outside of Houston, two sisters carrying Bibles were prevented from bringing their vile material into a classroom. The teacher stopped the students at the classroom door and marched them to the principal's office....The sisters' mother was called and warned that the school intended to report her to Child Protective Services. When the mother arrived, the teacher threw the Bibles in the wastebasket, shouting, "This is garbage!"

In another display of tolerance at Lynn Lucas Middle School, school administrators snatched three students' books with covers displaying the Ten Commandments, ripped the covers off, threw them in the garbage, and told the students that the Ten Commandments constituted "hate speech."
Even extreme notions of the separation of church and state do not justify this nonsense. IMO all of the relevant teachers and administrators in the events above should have lost their jobs on the spot.

No discriminators in here, boss

Some years back I applied for a state job in IL. I went to the personnel center to pick up some papers and noted that there were no other white males there. If this had been on the south side of Chicago it might have been different, but this was in Champaign/Urbana. Being a college town of about 150,000 or so, it's not lily-white, but there was no way that that race distribution would have resulted from competence-based hiring.

Now CLog notes the massive discrimination in hiring at the EEOC and Department of Education.

It might well be that blacks are disproportionately qualified for education jobs in that for years teaching was one of the few professions open to them. But those days are long past, and I find it difficult to believe that residual effects could result in what we observe.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Wifi test run

For some time now I've read Glenn Reynolds' reports of blogging via WiFi from bookstores and elsewhere with envy. So a few months ago I bought a laptop with WinXP Pro and built-in WiFi and I've been dying to try it out. Then came yesterday's free WiFi day, so I found a local Borders store and checked it out.

It was wide open, and Windows warned of that. I wasn't prompted for anything at all before I was able to sign on and surf the Web. I'll have to see what is different on another trip.

I'm guessing that the core of the system (from T-Mobile) was in the coffee shop, because that seemed to be where the strongest signal was according to XP. I went to the extreme corners of the store and the reception weakened but was still "very good".

Then I went outside to test it from the first row of parking spaces. The strength was "low", but still didn't give me any problems. Well, other than the strange looks I got standing there using the PC off the hood of my vehicle around 10:30 PM.

I can't speak to the reliability other than to note it was pretty idiot proof while I was using it. I considered having it download a 62MB file but I didn't want to have to wait for it.

At one point I closed the laptop, which as my laptop is configured causes WinXP to go into standby. This apparently ended the connection, and when I opened the laptop again I got what seemed like a million "Delayed Write Failure" nastygrams, which didn't cease until I gave the machine a hardware reboot a few minutes later. The messages said that the problem could result from a lost connection, so I guess in the future I'll either leave the thing open while I transport it or else disable the wireless connection before closing.

Not having significant experience with WiFi in the real world yet, I'm not sure what would happen under other conditions. Rain, for instance - that might have affected me while I was outside. Or heavier traffic - near as I could tell I was the only one using it. Battery life seemed OK, even after I turned the screen brightness way up under the bright bookstore lighting.

I can't remember when I read about the free WiFi, but when I told the Borders people about it the day before they had no idea. They didn't have to do anything, so they really didn't need to know, but it sounds like something that they might have liked to promote. For my part, I sent Glenn Reynolds an email about it in case he wanted to plug it, but he didn't.

Looking for free WiFi access? It might be as simple as turning on your machine, if your neighbor has it and hasn't locked it down. You can look for warchalking symbols like these (concept based on these), or buy a gizmo like this.

UPDATE: Our Misanthropyst could ruin his reputation with comments like this, but I'll repost it here:"Well, don't forget that when you joined their network you have no say so as to who else is on it and what they are doing. Make sure you're running a software firewall, and pass no username / password data that isn't encrypted via secure websites or VPN. Funky world out there..."

What the Democrats believe

By Rich Lowry here.

And then check out Charles Krauthammer here for some commentary on that ladykiller Ted Kennedy's recent bout of Tourette's.


Yes, there are punk Republicans - see GOPunk's FAQ page here.

This cries out for a visual. What should our prototype punk Republican look like?

Televisions for freedom

Virginia Postrel notes "Iraqis' entrepreneurial response to post-Saddam conditions".

And don't miss her latest book, "The Substance of Style".

Thursday, September 25, 2003


You mean you don't check out Day by Day every day?

No, you suggest the bullwhip thing.

It's no big surprise that Andrew Sullivan approves of those Robert Mapplethorpe photos of Arnold Schwartzenegger nude. For my part it's not about the esthetics - it's just refreshing to see a politician who isn't always covering his ass.

Now suppose this exposure causes Arnold to rise in the polls? Who wants to bet that we'll be seeing John Kerry, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark dropping their drawers? Thank God Hillary! and Ted Kennedy aren't running.

Michael Moore Hates America

I try not to belabor the obvious on this site, but this is just too good a cause - a Michael Moore type documentary on Michael Moore. Let's just hope there's no nudity.

Via the righteous babes at Right We Are!

Stupid stem cell tricks

Drudge pointed to this article:
Embryonic stem cells have been encouraged to grow into sperm cells for the first time, Japanese scientists report.
At least they said "embryonic" which hopefully would give people a clue that they're not the only game in town.

But notice the priorities. We've heard so much about the potential of embryonic stem cells, and they want to use them for what? Yeah, that's a high priority. Why not generate appendixes while you're at it?

Of course appendixes aren't the worst or most useless things you could make out of embryonic stem cells - cancer would be worse. But that's been done - one of the problems with embryonic stem cells vs. those harvested from adults is that the embryonic ones are more likely to cause tumors. Somehow that never makes it into the coverage or the diatribes against Bush's policies.

Free Wi Fi today courtesy of Intel

At locations found here. This is why.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The liars are cheats too

Greenpeace does nothing to clean up the environment, but it appears they know how to launder money. From my email:

Group Files IRS Complaint, Seeks to Revoke Privileged Tax Exempt Status

A non-profit watchdog group today filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against Greenpeace, accusing the organization of illegally soliciting and transferring millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions.

In a report titled "Green Peace, Dirty Money: Tax Violations in the World of Non-Profits," Public Interest Watch (PIW) accused Greenpeace - one of the world's most recognizable and visible non-profits - of knowingly and systematically violating United States tax laws. See for further information.

"At the heart of the matter is the way in which Greenpeace's complex corporate structure masks its misuse of tax-exempt contributions," claimed Mike Hardiman, Executive Director of PIW.

"The IRS very clearly differentiates between taxable and tax-exempt contributions, and the ways in which they can be used," Hardiman said. "Greenpeace has devised a system for diverting tax-exempt funds into non-exempt organizations within its empire and using the money for improper and illegal purposes. It is plainly a case of money laundering."

The report details how during a three year span, one Greenpeace entity diverted over $24 million in tax-exempt contributions. Such contributions are supposed to be used for charitable, educational or scientific programs, but instead financed advocacy campaigns.

Examples of taxpayer subsidized activities undertaken by Greenpeace include:

-Blockading a naval base in protest of the Iraq war,
-Boarding an oil tanker for a banner hanging,
-Breaking into the central control building of a nuclear power station,
-Padlocking the gates of a government research facility.

Because Greenpeace receives significant donations from large entities such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Turner Foundation, the report also calls into question the accountability of these donors.

"Foundations that make tax-exempt contributions are responsible for verifying that their funds are used appropriately," Hardiman said. "In the case of contributions to Greenpeace, either the foundations have no idea how their money is being spent, or they are knowingly allowing their funds to be laundered for illegal advocacy and civil disobedience."

In addition to the IRS investigation, the report calls for a series of remedies, including:

-Greater oversight by grant-making foundations such as Rockefeller and Turner,
-Regulatory and legislative investigations of Greenpeace by Congress,
-Action under California law governing non-profits.

"Greenpeace is cheating the taxpayer by accepting tax-deductible contributions, and then misusing the funds," Hardiman said. "They are accepting taxpayer subsidized funds for charity and education, and then using it to hang banners on buildings and break into nuclear power stations."

Hardiman also said PIW was considering filing a lawsuit in California under a provision of the state's Business and Professions Code, commonly known as a 17200 lawsuit.

"California has a series of statutes designed to protect the public from impropriety on the part of non-profits," Hardiman said. "And in the case of Greenpeace, we believe its violations of law mean that the state's Attorney General should take action. And if the AG is not willing, then he should grant "relator status" to PIW so we can." Relator status can be conferred onto an entity by the AG, and allows it to pursue legal claims in the name of the people of California.

Public Interest Watch (PIW) was established in 2002 in response to the growing misuse of charitable funds by nonprofit organizations and the lack of effort by government agencies to deal with the problem. PIW works to fight charitable trust abuse by exposing individual cases of abuse and advocating for stronger governmental oversight, including requirements for greater financial disclosure by charitable organizations.

PIW is a Washington, DC-based advocacy organization, which means contributions to PIW are not tax-deductible. Initial funding for PIW has been provided by business organizations.
Now really - did anyone ever solve a problem simply by bitching about it? But that's all that Greenpox and their ilk ever do. If they would fund engineering scholarships or research into their pet technologies they might deserve some credibility as a group that is searching for solutions rather than problems. But their actual behavior shows that they are just watermelons.

Molar pregnancy

Right here

Three laws of government

By M. Scott Eiland at Sasha's.

Name that tune?

Does anyone know the name of the song they're playing in the background of the latest Taco Bell commercials?

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Of Hooters, Dorothy Parker, chicken abuse and other digressions (but no penguins)

Here's a Fortune article about Hooters, the irreplaceable restaurant chain:
"So how on earth, in such a politically correct age, in such a failure-prone business, could Hooters have reached age 20 and still be busting out all over? From a single Florida beach bar, Hooters has expanded to 342 locations (27 of them, ahem, abroad), four lines of retail food, one golf tour, and two car-racing circuits (stock and drag). If you laid out the 30 million pounds of Hooters wings served each year, they'd encircle the globe at the equator. If you piled up the 15,000 current Hooters Girls ... well, they'd really be stacked."
Oh yeah? Well, what if all the Hooters girls were laid end to end?

It's easy to undervalue Hooters' contribution to our culture and polity. In their fight against the EEOC they did at least as much for our rights as anything that chicken-sodomizing California governor candidate Larry Flynt ever did. Their website is a font of art and wisdom and even includes invaluable career guidance. And although I once thought that the most useless thing in the world would be a drive-up window at Hooters, a lot of people really do like the food and I've known at least one pack of women who used to go there for lunch regularly.

So support your Hooters today. (oh, you knew that was coming...)

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Egg dynamics

It's the equinox, the time of the year that people attempt to balance eggs. And in fact they can. Just like you can during the rest of the year too, but somehow the equinoxes got associated with this.

If you have obnoxious kids, spouses, roommates or others, you might have raw eggs mixed up with hard-boiled eggs. How can you tell them apart nondestructively? You spin them. The hard boiled eggs will be easier to spin because they lack the internal viscous friction and instability of the raw eggs - the yolk doesn't start and stop at the same time the shell does.

If you are the obnoxious one, then get hold of a chalk egg and put it in with the innocents. You used to be able to get them by mail order as a gag - I can't seem to find any just now. In real life they've been placed by hens to "inspire" them. Anyway, it's fun to watch a strong-willed person deal with one.

Then there was the time the rooster saw his first Easter egg. He thought about it for a moment, then went and beat the crap out of the peacock.

Guess what it's OK to end a sentence with?

According to Kevin at WizBang!

And if you liked that, how about a little history of prescriptive grammar here and here? I'm tellin' ya, the thrills never stop here at NWA...

Liberal application of logic I

I'm trying to understand those who think differently from me. Two such people are Kevin Drum and Mark A. R. Kleiman.

Mr. Drum posted A Taxonomy of Lies. John Cole has already commented on this at length, but I thought I'd attempt to use it. In my experience nothing annoys liberals more than holding them to their own standards, so this could be fun.

One type of lieuntruth Mr. Drum identifies he borrows from Josh Marshall - "the confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion."

This would include pretty much any statement about the future, now wouldn't it? After all, you can't even prove that you will be alive tomorrow, or that there will be gravity or even that there will be a universe - (there are people who believe that universes can appear out of nowhere from a "big bang", after all - maybe universes can just disappear, too). Inasmuch as politicians have to speak of the futures that would result from their policies, this standard does lead to the plausible result that all politicians are liars. But it also means that Mr. Drum would be lying if he said "Josh Marshall will tell the truth".

I was amused by Mr. Drum's example - "For example, the idea that his 2003 tax cut proposal would spur job growth was almost universally scorned by mainstream economists, but you couldn't prove it wouldn't work, so he got away with it". So just what is he saying about "mainstream economists" - that they are almost universally so biased and unprofessional that they must scorn ideologically unacceptable proposals without having proof? Could he be lying?

Mr. Drum also offers the "technical lie" - "a statement that's very carefully constructed to leave an incorrect impression — but that turns out to be technically true if you parse it closely enough." Note that this definition is very carefully constructed to permit users to call true statements lies while technically telling the truth. How's that for an "incorrect impression"? And it's coming from someone who is complaining about "deception".

Mr. Drum offers 3 examples of technical lies. He claims that Bush lied when he noted that 60 stem cell lines existed by saying that at that time only one line was usable. That Mr. Drum makes this distinction is interesting because he later notes that subsequently, per the same flawed and Fisk-worthy reference, with no changes in Bush's policy, now there are 11 lines available. So he should be aware that it takes time for the lines to become available, and he offers nothing to contradict that in time all 60 will be available.

If you think the President of the United States should attempt to explain something as complex as stem cell research in a political speech I'll beg to differ. But if you want to make something of this, let's talk about the Big Lie coming from embryonic stem cell partisans - their failure to acknowledge the scary failures of embryonic stem cells, and the successes if not the very existence of adult stem cell research:
CAMR: “We do not have enough stem cells for research... There certainly are not enough to turn research into treatments.”

FACT: Embryonic stem cell research is many years away from “treatments” – and this is due not to insufficient cell lines, but to inherent problems in these cells. They are difficult to grow, difficult to control, and have a disturbing tendency to form potentially lethal tumors when placed in animals. And they have yet to provide a safe and effective treatment for any condition, in any animal species. Early reports that mouse embryonic stem cells had successfully been turned into insulin-producing cells for treating diabetes are now in doubt, as it seems the cells may only have absorbed existing insulin from surrounding tissues and then released it again (J. Rajagopal, in 299 Science 363 [Jan. 17, 2003]). Researchers are also finding that ample supplies of beneficial stem cells may be produced from many adult tissues, from umbilical cords and placentas (now thrown away 4 million times a year in this country after live births), and other sources, and these are already providing treatments for many conditions.
. Next to this Mr. Drum's tortured "exist" v. "usable" distinction IMO is not merely trivial, but ultimately irrelevant.

I could go on with the other two bullet points, but I'm sure others have done a better job, this post is already long, and I want to get around to see if Mark Kleiman can survive Mr. Drum's standards for truth. So I'll be content to note that Mr. Drum notes that both of the remaining statements he questions are "technically true". And then I'll point out the obvious - technically true = true.

And I'll ask just what is it that compels people to argue with statements that they say are true?

The Caucasian Club?

According to Drudge, some girl in CA wants to start a Caucasian Club. IMO what is interesting is the concept that this club, unlike her high school's Asian Club and Black Student Union, will cause "racial tension".

According to this PDF, "Today, about one in three Californians is Latino — a total of about 12 million residents. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau designated California as the first large “majority-minority” state, with non-Hispanic whites representing less than half of the population. In 20 years, Latinos are expected to outnumber non-Hispanic whites in the state." When will it be OK to have a Caucasian Club?

Just asking...

Is MEChA pronounced the same as Misha? I hope nobody gets them mixed up.

Here's to Xrlq's motto: ¡Por la esnarca todo!
¡Fuera de la esnarca nada!

Do you recognize this woman?

And if not, why not?

So who is it? An actress? A singer? A model? Surely not an athlete?

In fact it is an athlete who ought to be a lot more famous. That's Mia Hamm, who might be the world's best women's soccer player ever. And this year it's time again for the women's World Cup where she will help the US team defend its title. She's 31 now, so it's likely that this will be her last World Cup. And now that the WUSA women's soccer league has folded, there won't be many more opportunities to see her play.

Even if you don't like metric football, it's still a bunch of young buff normal-sized wet women who've been known to take their jerseys off when they score. What could be wrong with that?