Saturday, February 02, 2002

JOURNALISTS AT GITMO Matt Labash tells of a journalist junket to Guantanamo Bay. I suppose I could find something better to excerpt from it. Nah:
Knowing that in some Taliban-held provinces, pederasty rivaled headless-goat polo (buzkashi) as the favorite pastime, I ask a Naval officer if there are any reports of Guantanamo prisoners turning to man-love. "Oh God no," he says. "Though there are some Air Force personnel over there, so who knows what's going on?"

There's lots of interesting stuff in the article, and more like the above.
SMOKING STATISTICS You can't compare deaths from smoking to condom failures in terms of impact, obviously. But I got curious about the relative sizes of the numbers. The CDC estimates that in 1995 529,000 deaths in the US were attributable to smoking (you'll have to hunt for it). I never found a straightforward number of smokers, but based on about a 25% rate and the 1995 population I estimate that there are about 70,000,000 smokers. So about 0.8% of all smokers die in a given year due to smoking-related problems. I was expecting a bigger number, especially after all the anti-cigarette BS we've heard in the last few years.

JUST CAN'T LET IT DROP - Surely the competence of abortionists is a women's health issue. Well, in the name of women's health, let's impose additional educational requirements on abortionists (as opposed to physicians). How about an extra couple of years of school? Honest, it's not to provide barriers to entry any more than it is with our education system...

Of course it's important that consumers of medical services should be well informed. Good grief, you should have seen the list of horrors I had to acknowledge before I could have some dental work done. Perhaps abortionists should be required to show patients this. Not a web page, the movie. Without it, are our patients truly aware of what they're signing up for?

Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Henry Waxman and others would love to have socialized medicine. OK, we can start with abortion doctors. Let's make them all federal employees! We have only to look at airport security to know that it will enhance quality, right? (Note to Republicans - let 'em go - these guys already vote for Democrats). Besides, surely abortionists aren't in it for the money...

Let's put all the abortion records into a great big database in the hands of the feds. How else can they effectively monitor this essential civil right?

Wait, do we have an asymmetry between the sexes? Perhaps the men should be able to horn in. Let them have a "legal abortion", permitting them to escape all economic consequences of fatherhood. This could be done up until the last minute an abortion could, which is to say, until the very last minute. After all, the financial burden could affect his health.

Even with perfect and consistent usage, condom failure rates are such that 3% of women who depend on them will become pregnant each year under perfect and consistent usage. For typical couples it's 12%. Isn't it time for a huge lawsuit against the condom companies? Let the govt lead the way in the name of public health, and let the states' attorneys general pile on - surely this is more important than whether a free browser gets bundled with your PC.

I notice that a lot of people who favor expanding abortion rights are against the death penalty. How about a compromise? We'll permit convicts to be executed by any means which could be used to perform an abortion. If it's good enough for innocents, it ought to be good enough for the guilty.

Alright, I'll go take a sedative now. In case it wasn't obvious enough, none of the above is intended to be taken 100% seriously.
ABORTING REALITY How surreal it is to hear the controversy involved in the simple statement that a fetus is an unborn child. Pro-abortion rhetoric is so fundamentally dishonest that a statement as self-evidently true as that stirs controversy. Gosh, where do unborn children come from, and what happens to the fetuses? Sorry folks, but asinine is asinine no matter what your position on abortion is.

But not all agree with me. For daring to say that the fetus is an unborn child, I hear that Tommy Thompson has "just ignored any rule of law -- and has unilaterally declared that the US Supreme court is irrelevant." I hadn't suspected that dictionaries and biology books were so subversive.

The post goes on to say The president's team wants abortion outlawed -- no matter what. They obviously don't respect women." I imagine the First Lady and his mother will set W. straight if he ever fails to respect women, but really, the quote is a total non-sequitur. Is it possible that opposition to abortion arises because some of us do have respect - for unborn children?

But it's not over yet - "They are among the 17% of the US who don't care if a woman will die of the pregnancy... they just want abortion illegal". Wow. No appreciable number of people has been opposing health-based exceptions to abortion restrictions, except to note that those proposed to date have been so vague that about anything this side of a hangnail would serve as an excuse. Meanwhile, contrast that with the nearly 100% fatality rate for the unborn children (abortion does not attract the best of our physicians - why do you suppose?).

I can understand how this issue is intensely personal, especially when the writer says that a pregnancy could be fatal to her. But then we hear "You on the religious right would sentence me to possible death if I were raped and did not immediately miscarry." is still far over the top. (Just wait until she sees the burqas...) Now really, how many states have ever had bans on abortion in the case of rape? More importantly, how many have enforced these laws?

Several women I know or have known have had abortions. Some of those predate Roe v. Wade, by as much as 40+ years. Whether it makes me a realist or a coward, my conviction is that if Mom wants the kid dead, it'll die - it's just a question of whether we have the medical technology available to make the execution antiseptic and invisible. So while I personally abhor abortion, when it comes to banning it I lack the heart if not the stones.

But I object to the trivialization of it, and the dishonesty that makes the statement "a fetus is an unborn child" controversial. We can't have the Supreme Court making stuff up as it goes as they did with Roe v. Wade. And the whole issue is none of the federal govt's business anyway. If abortion is as popular as its backers say, there won't be any problem with getting laws passed at the state level permitting it, or in getting corresponding court decisions, so why not do it right?

Friday, February 01, 2002

I USED TO BE EVEN DUMBER... I'll pause a moment to let that sink in. Yes, it's true, it's true. Once I was 24 years old and capable of making statements like what I read on another blog. The pinnacle was reached when he spoke of Instapundit Glenn Reynolds "showing his ignorance" about guns. May he live to the day that he finds that statement as embarrassing as it ought to have been.

I have my disagreements with Dr. Glenn Reynolds, and I have areas of agreement with the other blogger. I'll confess that I admire Reynolds and am probably aping his blog even more than I intend to, but I've been in the other guy's shoes too. I'm just looking forward to the day that we see more maturity in his posts. Mine too, while we're at it.

My epiphany was at about the same age. A very nice middle aged man worked at a local Radio Shack and I was a chiphead, so I saw him regularly and we spoke often. This was in the days of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority in the early 80's.

One day in the store I innocently said something unfavorable about Falwell, which I honestly don't remember. It turned out that this gentleman knew Mr. Falwell and admired him, and he was very angry about my utterly gratuitous insult.

I was stunned. Nobody I knew could possibly like Jerry Falwell, and I certainly meant no offense. I apologized profusely, and should have, but things never were quite the same.

Meanwhile I thought about it. Actually I didn't know jack about Falwell, so I hadn't formed an opinion consciously (since then I have, and although he still doesn't get a fair shake, I can do without him). My college wasn't particularly liberal and I was living in the Bible Belt at the time, so it didn't come from there. I concluded that it had to have come from a steady diet of media brainwashing.
PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS Too often we hear people claim that Americans are undertaxed. Fine, if they feel that way they should just send some extra money to the feds and lead by example. But the object isn't for them to have to pay more - they want you to pay more. Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas has put them on the spot with his "Tax Me More" fund, a voluntary tax.

Opponents call it grandstanding of course, but they're the ones playing politics - they could just as easily join in and encourage people to give generously to raise the money. Apparently they prefer coercion, or think that who the money comes from is more important than getting the funding itself.

Thursday, January 31, 2002

REVELATION! The govt can be a bit slow sometimes, but it appears that they've finally figured out that a fetus is an unborn child.

Maybe someday they'll figure out what causes them too, so we won't hear people claiming that abstinence education doesn't work. That it works is not the issue - that it might impact abortion perceptions is.

Kate Michelman of the National Abortion Rights Action League finds this fetus is an unborn child concept threatening. Maybe she thinks she never was a fetus. Yet surely she wasn't (gulp) created?

A woman's right to choose, indeed. Is there any other issue that inspires such utterly dishonest rhetoric?
DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT The Nuclear Regulatory Commission publishes a lot of information about commercial nuclear power plants in the US if you're interested in more.
TARGETING NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS? Drudge has found an article in the Washington Times alleging that US nuclear power facilities are being targeted for future terrorist attacks. Greens have been harping about this for years, so they would have proposed it if no one else did - there was a lot of yapping about this around the time of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

With the World Trade Center OBL's creeps found a combination of symbolism, economic impact, publicity potential, vulnerability and body count that could hardly be matched elsewhere. It seems logical that they would seek other such targets.

On the other hand, commercial US nuclear power plants are fairly anonymous. They're built from uncounted tons of windowless reinforced concrete chock full of miles of steel rebar designed to resist earthquakes, internal events or impact from huge flying objects such as tornado-borne trees. Most of them are out in the sticks, and onsite personnel are no more than a few hundred in my experience. They have impressive capabilities for firefighting and other emergency planning, complete with regular drills including participation by local law enforcement and civil defense personnel. Would that all potential targets had such strengths and capabilities.
A NEW STEREOTYPE IS BORN - Bill Quick tells us that this cartoon from the Texas A&M Daily Battalion was found racist and was protested by a black student organization at Texas A&M. It seems that the characters' eyes and lips were too big for their tastes. (I didn't notice any complaint about the characters being colored too, although this cruel stereotype bedevils Michael Jackson).

Far be it from me to propose unlawful or violent behavior. But I suspect a tap or two upside the head by a Bull Connor wannabe might help clarify the difference between racism and a cartoon. Meanwhile they're promoting another stereotype - that minority students are bitchy.

Hey, aren't cartoons speech? Yoohoo, ACLU! Surely all of you aren't down in that town in Florida that put up signs banning Satan (yep, they're the devil's advocate).

I snooped around a little on the Daily Battalion site and noticed a banner ad about wife-beating. It showed six faces - apparently 5 plain vanilla white guys and an Asian. Where do we sign up to protest against this outrage?

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

AND ANOTHER THING... Some topics are esoteric enough that you really don't know jack about them unless you're a practitioner. Yet idiotarians like antinukers would have you think that the mere fact that you did or had worked as an engineer at nuclear power facilities as I did for 10 years means that you cannot be trusted to speak on the subject. Of course this makes it impossible for anyone who truly has firsthand knowledge to oppose them. At best you only have a "point of view" no more valid than that of the most ignorant person they can find who's willing to bitch.
DISCLOSURE Heavens, I mentioned Commonwealth Edison, and I once billed a mess of time to them. Am I compromised now?

I've seen varying versions of this quote - allegedly the late California pol Jesse Unruh admonished young legislators about lobbyists thusly: "If you can't drink their booze, take their money, fool with their women and then vote against 'em, you don't belong in politics."

The issue here isn't money, it's integrity. Good grief, you'd think that money were the only possible motivator. Ideologies have done far more to cause problems (do you need a link for that?). But how long do you suppose it will be before journalists and others are expected to disclose their votes in Presidential elections, or their party affiliations?

If money is the only motivator, we're going about this Afghanistan thing all wrong. All we have to do is outbid Osama Bin Laden for his al Qaeda goons, and they'll come work for us instead. Right?
CHANNELING SAMUEL INSULL Insull created Commonwealth Edison (now Unicom), the electric utility which serves Chicago and Northern Illinois. Unfortunately the financial underpinnings collapsed and he became a pariah. The underlying business was sound, however.

We may see the same with Kenneth Lay and Enron. There's nothing wrong with the business model itself, despite Krugman's rantings.
COMPROMISED JOURNALISTS? Andrew Sullivan goes too far in putting Irwin Stelzer, Larry Kudlow, Peggy Noonan and Bill Kristol in the same class with Paul Krugman re Enron.

Noonan and Kristol aren't economists like Krugman. Knowing their backgrounds and assuming no ideological tilts (really), who would you get your financial advice from?

For Stelzer, Sullivan offers a quote from 1998 before the fecal impingement, and more from late 2001 after Enron was in the news - Stelzer spoke only of the business model, not its execution by Enron management. Kudlow offers his own defense. Neither told anyone to buy Enron.

If Krugman had such problems with the way Enron was designed, he should have resigned and returned the money.

Monday, January 28, 2002

YOU KNOW URINE TROUBLE WHEN... - you come back from the doctor's office and set off radiation alarms.
CIVIC PRIDE KSHE-FM in St. Louis pledges not to play anything by Boston until after the Super Bowl. Go Rams!
EVA CASSIDY No cleavage. No navel. No legs. No hype. Just music. That's plenty.
BOOTLEGGERS AND BAPTISTS - Of Kyoto, greens, and Enron:

In line with the Bootlegger-Baptist theory, the Kyoto protocol provides environmentalists to run interference and reduce favor-seeking costs for interest groups already working to obtain political favors. For example, in January 1997, Enron Corporation, a major provider of low-carbon natural gas, announced the formation of Enron Renewable Energy Corporation indicating that it was "preparing to take advantage of the growing interest in environmentally sound alternatives of power in the $250 billion U.S. electricity market" (Salisbury, 1998). The new division faces the difficult challenge of producing solar and other nontraditional energy products at costs that can compete with conventional energy sources. As a result, Tom White, Enron Renewable Energy CEO, understandably endorsed President Clinton's $6.3 billion plan to fight global warming, which includes $3.6 billion in tax credits to spur the production and purchase of renewable energy and related technologies (Salisbury, 1998). Kyoto-justified taxpayer subsidies will make life easier for firms like Enron.
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR? I'm just wondering what could be found in Cheney's notes that Henry Waxman wouldn't fuss about. But now the GAO is suing for their release. IMO this calls for the dismissal of the head of the GAO, but of course that won't happen.

Anyway, I can't think of a policy that wouldn't benefit *some* energy industry player - there isn't a way to screw them all simultaneously. Heaven forbid that you wouldn't subsidize politically correct power sources like solar and wind - would Cheney get any credit if he tried to eliminate these? Discourage coal use? Listen to the coal miners scream and you'll benefit Enron (not to mention that it's like asking the Arabs not to use petroleum). I don't know that honoring the fed's obligations with the Yucca Mountain depository benefits Enron, but you can bet they'd come up with something. We know Enron liked CO2 limitations - does anybody think that was part of the plan, even in Kyoto? Do you think Cheney favored oil supply policies that increase our dependency on Arab oil?

I'm no lawyer, but I understand a search warrant has to say what is being sought. Can we have some specifics here?

Sunday, January 27, 2002

DON'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT IT Except, say, for condemned murderers, human life is no big deal, right? Human cloning isn't an issue, claim a health problem and you can kill a fetus that's already emerged but for its head, and Oregonians seem to like their euthanasia. So make sure to have some cash on hand if you ever get hurt so you can outbid the funeral homes for your body. In Poland at least (link via Instapundit)
JUST ASKING Has the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ever defended the 2nd, 9th or 10th Amendments?
WE'LL TAKE YOUR HOOKERS, YOUR GAMBLERS AND YOUR STRIPPERS, BUT WE WON'T TAKE YOUR RADWASTE After years of relentless disingenuous propaganda against all things nuclear, no one can be surprised if Nevadans are alarmed by the Yucca Mountain depository. They should get over it and start raking in the bucks.
Another blog, unique like all the rest of them. Well, maybe I have a different set of obsessions. I don't know how it's going to look by the time it goes public, so enough prefatory crapola and here we go.