Friday, November 21, 2003

"It's a form of money laundering, plain and simple"

Here's a chance for the Democrats to 1) fight the deficit by raking in more tax dollars, 2) fight white-collar crime, 3) fight a multinational corporation with a history of crimes around the world. All they have to do is bust Greenpeace.

Joel Mowbray highlights how Greenpeace collects money under a tax-free entity, then transfers the funds to a taxable entity.

Hmmm. The Clinton administration had so many organizations audited by the IRS and somehow missed this?

Go away Mikey

Drudge points us to this article with former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.
The former governor was not shy about sharing why he thinks he lost the election. He said he had not developed a strategy to deal with attacks from the Bush campaign.

I ran into a bit of a buzz saw," Dukakis said.
No Mike, you were already that short.

Oh, he thinks the campaign was dirty. Yeah right, that's the one in which the Dems were scared to death of Dan Quayle, who was young, conservative, and polled well with women. So they smeared him every chance they got, accusing him of being stupid, and then responded one election cycle with a liberal just like him - Al Gore. As for Bush himself, there were claims that he had strafed lifeboats in the South Pacific.
He said he dropped eight points in one week after Bush allegedly had President Reagan refer to Dukakis as an "invalid."
Yep, Reagan made a joke in which he made reference to Mr. Dukakis's mental health. This was during the Cold War after all. I suppose Dukakis would have preferred that the voters remain ignorant of that.
"This is the worst national administration I’ve ever lived under, bar none. I want this guy out of there."
Sure Mike - have you had your meds today? That takes some cojones after witnessing what you did to Mass. The expatriates I talked to in that period were unanimous in their disgust with you and your policies. So it made sense that you would go looking for a job in which you'd get to hell out of town under Secret Service protection.

But Dukakis believes all this crap. Well, as he said in his election bid, a fish rots from the head first.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Fun with the Law of Unintended Consequences

No less an authority than Andrew Sullivan favorite John Derbyshire has some questions on The Corner:
1. If "gay marriage" is legalized, will prisoners be able to marry their cell mates? If not, why not?

2. In many jurisdictions, a marriage can be annulled if it has not been consummated. What, exactly, constitutes "consummation" of a gay marriage?
The latter is important in light of the decision in NH (Opposed by gay groups in the name of "gay parity") that a married woman who had had a lesbian affair had not committed adultery.

Meanwhile another reader sent Derb this:
"Your comment about cell-mates marrying got me thinking. Under the traditional restrictions, a man cannot marry his daughter, or, a fortiori, his son, and so if he leaves them a very large inheritance, it is taxed, although what he leaves his wife is not taxed. But under a general license to 'marry' another man, a man could marry his son, and thus pass his property to the son tax-free.

"This is a loophole that would have to be closed, if estate taxes are going to continue, and the obvious way to close it would be to eliminate the special consideration given to inheritance by a spouse. This would be an unwelcome surprise to some propents of 'gay marriage.'

"On another front, what if two men who are partners in crime take the precaution of marrying, so that they can each be sure that the other one won't turn state's evidence at trial, should they be caught?

"Marriage, with the special privileges that have grown up around it, is a potential source of advantages to the unscrupulous. The remedy is going to be, I suppose, to reduce or eliminate the privileges. Having achieved marriage, the homosexuals may find that it isn't worth having any more..."


From Rod Dreher in The Corner:
Anyway, the "Cat in the Hat" commercial showed the Cat, played by Mike Myers, looking at a photograph of a woman, and suddenly acquiring a tumescent tail. Then one of the children says the woman in the photo is "Mom," which causes the excitable kitty to lose his erection. Is this a great culture, or what?

Green onions and hepatitis-A - would irradiation help?

Health authorities believe that the hepatitis-A cases recently traced to Chi-Chi's restaurants are due to Mexican green onions. Reuters reports that they are being held up at the border.

I wonder if food irradiation has been tried with green onions. It can kill off pathogens deep beneath the surface of foods without adding a lot of processing time. It doesn't work well with everything though - as I understand it each individual product to be irradiated must be studied to find the appropriate doses and particulars about feed rates, orientation, packaging, etc. In some cases taste and texture can be affected.

Somebody had better do something quickly though. This is the kind of thing that could impact green onion sales for years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Michigan madness

What is in the water up that way lately?

Last I knew Dr. Mark Byron was living up there or at least had business there. Anyway, he wrote a scenario in which Democrat Senators in states with Republican Governors were killed by Christian commandos. He did so in the form of a news item, and of course a news item would list the specific Senators by name.

That turned out to be a mistake to say the least. In Dr. Byron's words:
With 58 hours of 20-20 hindsight, the scenario below was too detailed and shouldn't have included names of particular senators....My regulars here generally understood the message I was trying to convey here, that the rhetoric of peaceful civil disobedience can lead to people resorting to violent civil disobedience. However, readers that just read this piece and don't know me as well could wonder whether I'm the next Paul Hill or Tim McVeigh. You would especially wonder that if you read the first half of the piece alone, as many sites did when excerpting it, leaving out the rejection of that straw man.
I agree that nobody who has read Dr. Byron's blog very regularly could have reached the conclusion that he was advocating anything of the kind. But lefties have to have their right-wing bogeymen, and this was the best they could do. Dr. Byron goofed, but IMO the reaction was all out of proportion.

And now we have Dean Esmay objecting to certain Christian fundamentalists and their God.

Fine, that's his prerogative - I can do without some of them too, and if they're right I don't like it one bit.

But then he went too far with gratuitous offensiveness. I won't cite it here, but you can figure it out if you look through the comments to this post far enough. You don't have to be Christian to call that out of line.

Someone suggested, perhaps to give him an out, that he wrote such a thing simply to rattle cages toward the end of increasing traffic. Dean's integrity was affronted - said commenter was asked to leave the blog without letting the door hit them in the ass on the way out. He meant it all right.

The frustrating thing about religious discussion is the faith - you can't prove anything without it. But Dean refuses to acknowledge that for all he knows the fundamentalists are right about God, and he himself might be the one with the flawed morality. (Maybe he'll see it differently in a few weeks - currently he and Rosemary are both quitting smoking, so in the meantime Hell probably doesn't intimidate him).

After all this, it would serve Michigan right if they lost to Ohio State.

Gay marriage

Gay marriage has to be the BS issue of all time. Does anybody really believe that significant numbers of gays want to get married? Or do they really believe that this will somehow strengthen marriage?

It's nonsense. This isn't about gay marriage, or even gay rights. It's about gay parity.

What do I mean? It means that being gay would be considered to have equal moral status with being straight. That's what GLBTs really want, and gay marriage is a huge step in that direction.

It's like the ERA all over again. Did most or even a significant percentage of women really want to do all of the things they would have forced their way into? And did they anticipate all of the side effects of such "simple" legislation? No to both counts, of course not, and insightful women like Phyllis Schlafly fought ERA for that reason.

But gays have been preparing the ground for this battle for some time. By now you can't even oppose them without being called names - you must be "homophobic". IMO claiming homophobia is an admission of ignorance and inability to contribute usefully to further discussion.

For my part, I just like to know that before we change our society that we have a good idea of what the consequences will be. Here are a few questions I have:
1) Will gay parity result in a greater or lesser number of gays?
2) Does the number or proportion of gays in a society impact it in a way that is not compatible with our polity?
3) What happens to children brought up in a world in which being gay or straight are simply "choices" of equal moral standing?

I'm sure I could come up with more if I thought about it some more. My point is that this is an experiment with our society which is unprecedented, and thus we cannot predict all of the outcomes. I'm not claiming to know the answers, and for all I know there could be vast improvements. And kindly note that my questions are not based on any religion or tradition, and I did not disparage gays.

But I happen to believe that in the absence of well-researched scientific answers to the questions I have posed, to proceed any farther with gay parity is foolhardy. Thus I oppose gay marriage on those grounds.

Traditionally the burden of proof would lie on those who are proposing the changes to our society. Lines like "what can it hurt?" are simply an attempt to shift that burden of proof. Can those who push gay marriage show that there will be no intolerable ill effects?

Real culture wars

Glenn Reynolds points to this excellent Austin Bay article which notes the similarities between today and 1983 when leftists were braying about Pershing missiles. The Soviets and their useful idiots were at full cry on that one. And there were some interesting developments on the cultural front that year too.

Remember 99 Luftballons by Nena? It was probably the last song here in the US that was available in two languages but was more popular in its original German. In English:
99 Red Balloons

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'till one by one they were gone
Back at base, sparks in the software
Flash the message "something's out there"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety nine red balloons go by

Ninety nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
And focusing it on the sky
The ninety nine red balloons go by

Ninety nine decisions treat
Ninety nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we've waited for
This is it boys, this is war
The President is on the line
As Ninety nine red balloons go by

Ninety nine knights of the air
Ride super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a super hero
Everyone's a Captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
Ninety nine red balloons go by

As ninety nine red balloons go by

Ninety nine dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If i could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go
In the same year we also had WarGames
In director John Badham's WARGAMES, Matthew Broderick stars as David Lightman, a young hacker who accidentally logs on to the Department of Defense's network. Thinking that he's found a cool new computer game manufacturer, David plays checkers, chess, and other more intriguing games like Global Thermonuclear War. Realizing that their system has been tampered with, military operatives arrest him. However, the computer continues to play the "game" of thermonuclear warfare without David and generates the very real threat of World War III. In an attempt to prevent global disaster, David and his girlfriend, Jennifer (Ally Sheedy), search desperately for the scientist who designed the system before the goverment computer initates a full-scale nuclear war.
Are we picking up a message yet? And why didn't we ever see protests about the Soviet missiles?

One line, two meanings

PBS is running a special on the Kennedys.

One of the scenes showed RFK campaigning at the Fulton Fish Market for his NY Senate run. Someone asked RFK what he thought of the market and he said something like "there's a lot of fish". Everyone laughed. This had come from a Kennedy after all, therefore it must represent wit.

IMO if George W. Bush had said the same, the press would have jeered. "See what I mean? What did the stupid SOB expect, anyway?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Strangest comedian

No doubt there's plenty of competition and I'm probably way behind the times. But it's hard to go wrong with nominees like Emo Phillips and Steven Wright.

Never heard of EP?
Emo Phillips was pulled over in Massachusetts for reckless driving. When brought before the judge, Emo was asked if he knew what the punishment for drunk driving in that state was. His reply: "I don't know, re-election to the Senate?"

I love to go down to the schoolyard and watch all the little children jump up and down and run around yelling and screaming...They don't know I'm only using blanks.

I discovered my wife in bed with another man, and I was crushed. So I said, "Get off me, you two!"

I went into Gus's artificial organ and taco stand. I said "Give me a bladder por favor." The guy said "Is that to go?" I said, "Well what else would I want it for?"

People come up to me and say, "Emo, do people really come up to you?"
How about Steven Wright?
All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavoring, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Yeah, they're a pair all right. But the Official Comedian for NWA is still...

...oh come on, it's obvious...


Monday, November 17, 2003

Hepatitis-A from green onions?

By now most of us probably have heard about the hepatitis-A outbreak that has been traced to a Chi-Chi's restaurant in western PA. Wonderful - I haven't been there recently, but when I'm near them I eat at Chi-Chi's.

Well, one of the guys who died from hepatitis-A ate there on October 6 and was dead of liver failure by November 7. Interesting - I was passing through PA that very day, but a good ways south of that restaurant and after they were closed. I guess they would have got me by now.

So now I'm in DC, eating fairly regularly in the company cafeteria. And since I'm on something of a health kick I'm grazing at salad bars a lot lately. One day a week or so ago they had green onions and I piled them on.

Now I read that the problem at Chi-Chi's is believed to have been caused by green onions. Terrific.

No, I'm not paranoid. But I think I'll pass on the green onions next time.

And I've never felt safer

Mayor of London says Bush is "greatest threat to life on this planet".

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Is your garbageman a litterbug?

Apparently so, whether due to poor technology or poor packaging of garbage. Look for more here.

So who's going to get into trouble about this, the haulers or the residents? Hint - the residents can vote.

Human stem cells protect against acute strokes in rats

Here's the story. Excerpt:
The researchers demonstrated that cells obtained from circulating human blood -- known as human peripheral blood (HPB) cells -- survived without immunosuppression, migrated to the site of stroke injury and significantly improved motor and cognitive performance in transplanted animals....The researchers conclude the preliminary findings support the investigation of HPB cells for neurotransplantation therapy in stroke patients.
Now if they can make this go the other way we're in business.

I'd pay to see that

For details, see Brent.

Wisdom for the ages

Here are 22 capsules of pith and vinegar from Rodger Schultz.

Example: The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
--Mark Twain