Saturday, December 11, 2004

What's to fear?

Censorship is bad, unless it's your side doing it:
Some people are very upset that a bookstore in Arizona is selling a book called Grand Canyon: A Different View.

The bookstore is operated by the National Park Service, you see, and the different view presented in the book is that the mighty gorge came about as the result of the flood. You know, The Flood. The one starring Noah.
Many people would dismiss that as unmitigated BS, or a legend at best.

Fine, suppose you're right. If we let people's opinions about this determine what we could sell where, the bookstores wouldn't have much to sell. Leave it alone and let the market sort it out.

From Jay Bryant: Your right to say it

A Skeptical View of the Perricone Prescription

It's shakedown fundraising time for PBS, and one perennial star is Dr. Nicholas Perricone. He offers all sorts of prescriptions to help your skin and general health.

His MO is to give a talk to a small room full of people. His air is as one who would bring medical science down to earth for a sophisticated audience. And of course the audience, thinking itself sophisticated, takes the bait.

I'm not qualified to address his claims, but before you pledge your money you might want to read this from Quackwatch.

Friday, December 10, 2004

How to make a suicide bomber

I can't remember where I found the link to Reasons Terrorists Haven't Hit Us Again. But the part I found most interesting was this:
But if exposure to American life won’t prevent suicide bombings, exposure to Americans might. “The more a person develops normal relations, the more comfortable he is in an environment, the less likely he is to commit an act of violence,” Johnson says. “The social literature on this goes back more than a hundred years, whether it be crime, gang violence, or political violence.” The September 11 hijackers, in a way, were the exceptions that prove the rule: Because they were able to move freely about the country without attracting suspicion, they could isolate themselves.

So if a sleeper cell had been planted here for years, it would have had to integrate into American life and would probably be less inclined to extreme acts of violence. For terrorists who’ve managed to slip in since 9/11, it will be hard for them to remain a self-insulating unit without attracting suspicion. And if a potential bomber arrives on his own, he’ll have daily social contacts that will lower the chance of his carrying out a suicide mission.

Complete isolation and a radically short time lapse between the moment a bomber is tapped and when he carries out the attack are essential to successful suicide attacks. “Studies of Hamas suicide bombers indicate there’s only a 24-hour window between finding the candidate and carrying out the mission,” says Swetnam. “It sounds incredible, but Hamas does the entire process within one day.” Hamas recruiters don’t select suicide bombers from within their own cadres; instead, they pull in a dogmatic and disillusioned young male outside their operation. It takes a deep pool of disaffected males to find the one willing to carry out a suicide mission.

Throughout the night, they’ll keep the candidate in a closed room and bombard him with dogma about his mission as a soldier of Allah and “rev him up about being a hero,” as Swetnam puts it. “They tell him, ‘Allah only asks once, and he’s asking you now.’ ” Only in extremely rare cases has a suicide bomber been known to back out of a mission, Swetnam says; one of the few that is known about occurred when his isolation buffer broke down. “He is said to have run into his brother on the way to his assignment, and that was enough to cause second thoughts.”
IMO that passage was both comforting and scary. Comforting in that it reinforces what I already believed, that there's nothing uniquely evil about Islam or Arabs that turns them into killers - it's just that that's who they have to work with.

The scary side? Never mind.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What's in a name?

Re this post:

If you like it, call it "federalism" and use it to argue against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

If you don't like it, call it "state's rights", which is decried because Southern states tried to use it to avoid outside intervention wrt slavery.

Let's cut the crap. IMO the institution of marriage is orders of magnitude more important than abstractions like "federalism", so if I'm forced to choose between them, the sanctity of marriage as our society has known it for centuries wins every time. I'm still waiting for someone to explain how the door you open to permit gay marriage can be closed again to keep out all manner of other associations.

We have contracts for stuff like this, and we can even standardize them into "civil unions".

But marriage? No way.

If you support gay marriage, say so and argue the merits. Don't hide behind federalism/state's rights with the slaveholders.

What's the matter with Thomas Frank?

Ripping off Betsy's Page again, I find a response to a silly book called What's the Matter with Kansas?

The only thing "wrong" with Kansas is that the author's world view can't explain it. So, being the liberal that he is, he finds that it is reality that is wrong, not his theory.

Quoting one of Betsy's quotes:
Things are especially bad in his old hometown of Shawnee, where, during his visits, he no longer sees anyone in the streets. Instead, "heaps of rusting junk and snarling rottweilers" blight the landscape.
Nice try pal, but some of us have been to Shawnee. Yeah, there are parts the Chamaber of Commerce probably won't show you. Those would be the parts near Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS, a Democrat stronghold forever which they've turned into the crime and poverty hellhole of the metro area. Or to the west, where it transitions into rural Kansas.

Finally Betsy derives a syllogism from the author's logic. I think I have a better alternative, which annoys certain yellow-dog Democrats I know:

1) Every party seeks to enlarge its constituency.
2) The Republicans are the party of the rich and the Democrats are the party of the poor.
3) Therefore the Republicans want to make everyone rich, and the Democrats want everyone poor.

And I cuss the Beltway traffic

Care to go for a spin in Iraq?

Although I must say, they may be on to something with the cell phones.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Allow me to introduce myself

Actually this guy who claims to be a bass player was the one who pointed to the blind date thing below. The ones I credited pointed to him in turn.

Anyway, if he follows the link back he'll find this post, sort of as my way of introducing myself. And as his reward I offer these raunchy bass player jokes (some might be way off base).

Oh, give it a chance!

A blind date? That might be just the thing for me. Alas, here in DC all we have are the deaf ones.

Finding out your blind date was Kim Basinger might sound good, but it didn't work out so well for Bruce Willis.

It's hard to top that one. But we're told this one really happened - look here,
here, and here. Ewww.

Stolen from Scrawlville