Saturday, April 10, 2004

Accept no substitutes

I was here first. Then came this guy. And now we have some guy daring to call himself "Mr. Bowen".

I don't think he's a relative or anything because it appears that there are only 101 things that torque him off.

An Alternate History

A relative of mine has always been a yellow-dog Democrat through thick and thin. He's even more argumentative than I am, if you can believe that. And even he grows tired of defending that abomination the Democrats have become.

Yep, now the Dems are bound and determined to declassify the President's Daily Briefing (PDB) document dated August 6, 2001, hoping that it causes problems for President Bush. Does anyone still believe that anything will satisfy the Democrats before GW Bush leaves office?

Well, what could be on such a document that the public shouldn't know about? Think about it. Using passenger planes like cruise missiles was unprecedented, and the possibility likely would only come up for discussion in a context of brainstorming in which any number of alternative, highly unorthodox types of attacks would be considered also. That's the kind of thing that I'm willing to keep sealed - let the bastards do their own thinking.

But the Dems are casting this as if anything withheld must be damning. At the same time, does anyone who's seen them operate doubt that if they don't find anything that affects President Bush's numbers, they'll turn around and accuse him of compromising national security for his own selfish purposes?

Greg Easterbrook proposes a scenario in which President Bush took action the day after he read the PDB, and what would follow here and abroad. IMO he has it exactly right, except for the implicit assumption that it would have prevented 9/11. Not only might it have happened anyway, but if it had, then Dems might even have sounded reasonable when they inevitably blamed it on President Bush.

Thanks to Baldilocks for the link.

The Subservient Chicken

I don't know how much this job pays, but I'm sure it's not enough - check it out.

Stolen from Dean's World.

Friday, April 09, 2004

The truth is stranger than Caddyshack

And it must be true, because it's on Snopes, right?

This all happened in Ceres, CA, which I believe is also responsible for the election of former Democrat Representative and movie star Gary Condit. Remember him?

Snopes item stolen shamelessly from Dale.

Bullet therapy

From here:
There is a story told among Shiites today that as the revered Imam Hussein lay dying on the fields of Karbala in 680 A.D., he cursed the people of what is now Iraq for having deserted him in his hour of need. "May you never satisfy a ruler," he gasped. "And may you never be satisfied by a ruler."

While I'm not sure how widespread that legend is among rank-and-file Shiites, it's worth remembering as we watch radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr lead his nation off a cliff. As Hussein's anathema implies, there is something unstable and ungovernable at the heart of Shiism — something that is not specific to Sadr's intifada, but which in fact runs through the entire religious sect: a deep attachment to lost causes, alienation, failure, and death. And this, in turn, suggests that our struggle with radical Islam has only just begun.

As I've written here before, during my two trips to Iraq I've studied the Shia — praying in their mosques, attending their religious gatherings, interviewing their clerics and, most of all, examining their teachings and iconography. This last aspect particularly startled me: severed heads, amputated hands, Arabic letters dripping blood — and that's what found in mosques.
Emphasis in original. There's more:
Unless you have the instincts of a pre-Reformation Catholic peasant-or Mel Gibson — it is nearly impossible to grasp this appreciation of suffering and death. But here it is not death as a redemptive power, death as spectacle — a public expression that seeks the admiration of man as much as God. This is what, in my mind, separates Shia radicalism from its Sunni counterpart. Wahabbi and Palestinian suicide bombers seek honor and glorification by killing their enemies; the Shiites' spiritual apotheosis, on the contrary, comes from having their enemies kill them — a kind of suicidal exhibitionism that fetishizes Hussein's fate at Karbala. Early Christians felt that the blood of martyrs nourished the Church; Shiites believe that martyr blood will embellish their own holiness and that of their families for untold generations.
Draw your own conclusions about why these people attacked, and what it will take to end the attacks.

He's got a point...

From Strategy Page: "The last of the Minuteman III missiles will receive their new motors by 2008. It costs about $5.2 million to replace the rockets on each missile. The new rocket motors, which have to comply with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rules, will have a shorter range (which was classified, but thought to be nearly 10,000 kilometers, based on where the missiles were stationed and where likely Russian targets were.) than the original motors "

Which inspired James Taranto of Wednesday's "Best of the Web Today" to ask "If nuclear missiles have to comply with EPA regulations, what about the warheads?"

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Does Howard Fineman know his role?

There's an old quote that goes something like "it's too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy shining shoes and pumping gas." Of course this guy hadn't heard of bloggers...

I'm guessing he hadn't met Howard Fineman either. It seems that he knows Condoleezza Rice's role better than she does:
A self-proclaimed expert at understanding "structural" change in large institutions, Rice wasn't aware ? may still not be aware ? that the nature of her job had changed by the time she took over as national security adviser in January 2001. Reared in the Cold War era, she saw herself following in the footsteps of Henry Kissinger. "National security" was largely a matter of global state-to-state diplomacy.

In fact, as her predecessor in effect warned her when he was turning over the keys, the model was no longer so much Kissinger as it was, say, Elliott Ness or J. Edgar Hoover. If, as she said, we had been at war with terrorism for 20 years; if, as she said, the terrorists are determined to attack America, then the NSC chief has to be a ruthless hunter for clues around the world ? and on American soil.
"In effect" warned her? And how was this?

It certainly wasn't by example. Read this to see how the FBI had already been hamstrung by fear of abuse, and how the Clinton Administration proceeded to make things even worse:
In the 1990s, the U.S. tied itself in further knots by treating terrorism as a matter for the criminal-justice system, thus bringing into play all sorts of other restrictions on collecting and sharing information. The CIA is reluctant to provide information for criminal cases out of fear that its sources and methods will be disclosed in open trial. The FBI, meanwhile, was forbidden to share information gathered from grand-jury proceedings. (This changed after September 11.) The absurdity of making the fight against terrorism a domestic legal question reached its height when the Clinton administration was hesitant to accept Osama bin Laden, if handed over by a foreign government, because it couldn't have indicted him.

As long as terrorism in the United States is treated as a criminal matter, a terrorist gets more rights and protections as he gets closer to his target: i.e., if bin Laden is in Afghanistan, we try to bomb him to kingdom come (since there he is an enemy fighter), but if he makes it to Brooklyn, we hesitate even to listen in on his sermons at a mosque (since here he is a domestic criminal). Zacarias Moussaoui -- the alleged "20th hijacker" -- benefited from exactly this dynamic. Whistleblower Coleen Rowley was outraged that FBI headquarters didn't think there was "probable cause" to request a FISA warrant on Moussaoui. But it may well be that the FBI was conscientiously following the letter of the law, displaying the tender regard for Moussaoui's civil liberties that the political culture has demanded. There was certainly evidence prior to September 11 that Moussaoui was a Muslim extremist, but "probable cause" that he was an agent of a foreign power or terrorist group? It was by no means a slam dunk.

What if there clearly was "probable cause" for a FISA warrant in late August? Unless it is determined to be an emergency, the FISA process can be a drawn-out one, as former FBI agent James J. Roth explained in a letter to the Wall Street Journal: "Even assuming that FBI headquarters agreed that there was probable cause, the FISA request still had to be reviewed and approved by the Department of Justice Office of Intelligence Policy and Review; come back to the FBI for the director's certification, which is required by law; return to Justice for the attorney general's approval, also required by law; and get scheduled on the court docket. . . . Simply put, it is unlikely that the request would have reached the court before 9/11."

All of these legal and procedural hoops existed in the context of a culture of timidity, even fear, at the FBI, as Rowley's famous memo says over and over again. "Our best real guess," she writes, "is that, in most cases, avoidance of all 'unnecessary' actions/decisions by FBIHQ managers (and maybe to some extent field managers as well) has, in recent years, been seen as the safest FBI career course. Numerous high-ranking FBI officials who have made decisions or have taken actions which, in hindsight, turned out to be mistaken or just turned out badly (i.e., Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc.) have seen their careers plummet and end. This has in turn resulted in a climate of fear which has chilled aggressive FBI law enforcement action/decisions."
Somehow Condoleezza Rice was to effect changes to permit the FBI to be effective in the 7+ months she had before 9/11, from outside the agency, in an environment where people were bitching about the Patriot Act even after 9/11.

Surely it's beneficial to examine what might have been done to prevent 9/11 in hope that it will help us prevent recurrence. But this investigation has become a partisan witch-hunt conducted by people with the brass-balled effrontery to complain that the Bush Administration was "distracted".

Thorax cake

Via Feces Flinging Monkey comes this delicacy. Warning - it's kinda graphic.

It's STD Awareness Month!

And you can test your knowledge on a popup at You'll have to look for the link - it's over to the right of the page as this is posted.

Not what I expected to hear

Farm Accident Digest spotted this item about the Russians' attempted cleanup after a nasty nuclear accident in 1957. The focus was on compensation for the survivors.

Survivors? That was almost 50 years ago, and these people worked on ground zero of a nasty accident, and we have survivors? That's what struck me.

Then again, the health impact of radiation on humans historically has been overstated. Honest scientists want conservatism, project managers and security people wanted to discourage pilfering, enemies of the US wanted us to disarm and reduce our power generating capability, and the greens/Ralph Naders of the world want to scare us silly about nuclear power, so we're raised to think that about anything nuclear is dangerous beyond reason.

That's not to say that the survivors of the cleanup are in good shape. In fact they have health problems, as noted in the article. But most people who were of working age in 1957 aren't what they used to be either. That's not to minimize the injustice, but to note that there are confounding factors in the analysis of the impact of their ordeal.

Read my lips...

Remember back when the POW blinked out the word TORTURE in Morse code? Then there's the story of the lanterns in the window of the Old North Church - "one if by land, or two if by sea". Baseball coaches are always sending signals in plain sight. Kurt Vonnegut wrote a book in which a "Lord Haw-Haw"-like propaganda character for the Third Reich was actually a double agent, and he conveyed intelligence to the Allies in the way he paused, coughed or otherwise articulated. There's an entire field called steganography in which information is hidden in other information.

It is for that reason analysts pore over every al-Qaeda video or message in hope of catching disguised instructions. Yet some would-be sophisticates seem not to grasp the import of the new initiative against pornography by the Bush administration. We know how Atta and his gang of mass murderers used to hang out with strippers, and some strippers are porn stars - how diabolically clever it would be to send messages via porn!

Those moans sound inarticulate to you? Ha! Strategic use of words like "baby", "ooh", "yes!", "more!" and others could in fact convey encoded information. Count the number of partners, what they do, positions, how many strokes, objects used, number of piercings or tattoos - all could convey messages.

And watch your P's and Q's - authorities like the late Sam Kinison have told us that the secret of success with certain practices is to "lick the alphabet". Do I have to spell it out for you?

So don't be so quick to dismiss the porn investigation. Who knows what the investigators will come across?

Porn über alles!

Hey, you know what Japanese guys do when they have erections? They vote.

It sounds like some Americans think erections and voting go together too. What is it about porn that makes otherwise sane people write fatuous things?

Glenn Reynolds linked to this, which inspired one person to comment that that was enough to get them to vote against Bush. Hmm - maybe too much masturbation does cause insanity.

Diversion of resources? Gimme a break. Wait until these guys hear that we have entire departments that aren't totally focused on terrorism. Heaven forbid we'd be spending trillions a year on govt that couldn't multi-task. Go ahead and suggest that this initiative isn't worth a few million bucks and a staff of 30-odd people, but don't tell me it's a diversion from the fight on terrorism unless you're prepared to shut down most of the rest of the govt too on the same grounds.

Using our computer forensics experts? Yeah, right. I'll bet that they cherry-picked all the anti-terror staff to find the guys best at determining what was porn and what was not. Yeah, that takes lots and lots of highly specialized training, eh?

I figure it's just more senseless Ashcroft-bashing. He's highly suspect of course - the article marvels that he is "a religious man who does not drink alcohol or caffeine, smoke, gamble or dance". Who'd trust a guy like that?

Look, if you don't want him enforcing the law, then you should be working to get rid of the law instead of fussing at him for doing his job.

I suspect that this is another case like abortion, where the pro-abortionists claim to have the public behind them but never want to prove it democratically. Let the Democrats push to get rid of our obscenity laws, so we can see who correctly calculates "the pulse of the community".

Justin Katz and his commenters have a lot more to say.

"We killed it"

IIRC those were the words of George Stephanopoulos about Gary Aldrich's book "Unlimited Access". Released before the 1996 elections, it was critical of the Clinton Administration's slack approach to security at the White House and the vastly changed culture under their leadership. And the Clinton administration immediately set about demonizing Aldrich in response. (As for Stephanopoulos, he works for ABC News now. But don't call him partisan).

Yes, Clinton's people had relaxed FBI background checking and other scrutiny of their staff applicants, and it showed. The best anecdote I recall from it was that Hillary Clinton walked around in a breeze one day, noticed some of her staff and issued a memo requiring staffers to wear panties. Better her than John Ashcroft, eh?

Here Larry Elder contrasts the reception for Aldrich's book to that of Richard Clarke's masturbatory catalog of lies, aka "Against All Enemies".


"Musikgarten is a revolutionary early childhood music education company designed to enable teachers to understand how children from birth to age 9 learn music. Musikgarten provides teachers with the tools to help a child grow musically, as well as emotionally, socially and cognitively."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

It could be your salvation

For all you Democrats, I recommend

If I ever get my hands on him I'm gonna....

CNBC does have some shows worth watching. First there's Dennis Miller, and if you aren't too quick to flip channels or otherwise resume your life there's a show called "Cover to Cover". Last week it inspired the Carol Treadwell post.

This week it was about Bruce Murakami, a man who lost his wife and daughter in a fiery crash. He even got to see the flames.

Then he found out that the man who t-boned her had been drag racing, and there would be no prosecution. Later he found that the perp was still getting speeding citations and had even admitted to racing. Now what?

This is what happened.

Minimum gasoline pricing laws

Yeah, you read it right. Maryland and several other states have laws controlling minimum gasoline prices. Here's why.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

And we all know how important that was

Glenn Reynolds has a long, multiply updated post which notes that
the Clinton Administration ranked missile defense as more important than terrorism.

You know them by the little penguins

Everybody has seen patches for quitting smoking, and I enjoy the ads for the birth control patches. Good grief, now drugstores are selling weight control patches. (in the "people who bought this also bought" section one of the choices was a "s'mores maker".).

So today, when I got a spam where the sender's name was "Microsoft Windows Patch", I just thought...


Mike S. Adams: Why I joined the N.R.A.: "Many of my colleagues who fail to muster compassion for unborn humans are staunch defenders of the local deer population. The fact that the overpopulation of deer causes numerous highway fatalities is of little concerned to them. And most would rather see a deer wrapped around the grill of a Ford Expedition and dragged down the highway than to have it experience a clean, quick death with the help of my Browning A-Bolt."

Where are the Palestinian Christian terrorists?

According to this, 25% of all Palestinians are Christians. One would think that if the circumstances of the Palestinians were responsible for their behavior, every 4th suicide bomber would be Christian. To my knowledge there haven't been any at all.

I guess they just haven't seen "The Passion of the Christ" yet. It's anti-Semitic, you know. It must be, or else how would Abe Foxman make any money off it?

"That's why they play the games"

Duke University was built with tobacco money. It was named after a tobacco baron, and in my vision of hell it will be renamed Banzhaf University. It has a world renowned graduate school of business. It's in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the toughest basketball conference in the country, which provided 2 of the 4 teams in the Final 4. And it has perhaps the best basketball coach ever, Mike Krzyzewski

What could be wrong? Their fans. There is no more obnoxious SOB on the planet than a Duke fan. That alone is good reason for rooting against them.

Although I did feel a twinge watching a senior hit a 38 foot jump shot at the final buzzer, only to lose by one point. But only for a second, until I remembered that he'll probably be in the NBA next year making enough money to burn a wet mule.

I wasn't the only one affected by that last shot - from
"When Duke senior Chris Duhon nailed a 38-foot three-point shot off one leg as time expired in the semifinal game against the University of Connecticut on Saturday night, the Blue Devils still lost the game. But to those who wagered on the blue and white, the fortuitous bank shot that made the final score 79-78 meant that the underdogs covered the spread, which was between two and three points.

Those who put money on the Huskies, who had a 12-point run late in the game to take the lead, suddenly had lost their bet. Those who put money on Duke to cover collected their winnings.

With approximately $100 million being bet on March Madness each year in Las Vegas and about $2.5 billion wagered online according to the FBI, the Duhon shot transferred anywhere from $30 million to $100 million from those who bet on UConn to cover the point spread to those who bet on Duke to cover, as estimated by those closely tied to the sports gambling business."

This metrosexual crap has gone way too far

They're nuts!

Sunday, April 04, 2004

False advertising

The name of this blog has inspired misunderstanding before. For my purposes a "watermelon" is a lefty who pretends to be an environmentalist. They're green on the outside and red on the inside, like a watermelon. And I hope to live to see the day when the last of them is hanged with the guts of the last PeTAphile.

But others have seen it as a reference to large breasts. And that seems to be the reason why I'm getting a lot of hits from a Russian teen porn site. All I can figure is that it's some sort of April Fool's joke to send guys looking for small breasted babes here.

There's a topic in here somewhere...

We often speak as if knowledge is of infinite value, but we can say for sure that some data have more social value than others. And I don't think it's controversial to say that some data are more fun to acquire than others.

For instance, consider Cindy Crawford. She's busy being a mother now, but that doesn't mean that she isn't still a knockout.

But she isn't absolutely perfect. For instance, there's that mole above the corner of her mouth that she's famous for. Well, how perfect is she?

Hmm, how to measure? How about comparing the amount of skin she has to the amount occupied by the mole? And I want accurate results too - you'll have to recheck and recheck. Show me hands - who'd like to take the measurements?

Well, it's not so simple. We'd like to have Ms. Crawford's consent, and that could turn out to be a problem.

For anyone but an engineer, that is. We're everlastingly applying estimating techniques for things we can't measure directly. In this case let's approximate Ms. Crawford's skin with a cylinder of 30" circumference about 70" high. That leaves her with about 2100 in2 of skin surface. Now that's reductionism.

How big is the mole? Call it approximately a 1/8" circle. Sparing you the details, that amounts to 0.012 in2.

So the mole occupies approximately 0.0000057 of her skin, or .00057%.

Now let's consider something else that's beautiful where I won't be drilling any time soon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. There's oil up that way, and in a saner world we'd be drilling there. But no, the usual suspects speak of how we'd be defiling the land, blah blah.

Well, OK. For those of us who don't appreciate the austere industrial beauty of oil rigs, just how much would be be fouling up the ANWR if we drilled as proposed in the legislation the Dems oppose so bitterly?

The proposal calls for drilling on 2000 acres. The ANWR has 19,000,000 acres of land. Thus the drilling would take up .00011 of the land surface, or .011%. Or about 20 times as great a proportion of ANWR as Cindy Crawford's mole takes up on her.

Hmm, let's try again. Suppose Ms. Crawford is nude but for a thong. How much could it cover to be in proportion to the 2000 acres to be impacted at ANWR?

2100 in2 * .00011=0.23 in2. That's about the size of the smallest Band-Aid I've ever seen. If you sold pictures of Ms. Crawford wearing no more than this you'd never lack for business.

But environmentalists have a problem with the 2000 acre figure:
Turns out the 2,000 acres don't have to be contiguous and only the space of the equipment touching the ground is counted. Each drilling platform can take up as little as 10 acres. The pipelines are above ground. For space purposes, the amendment counts only the ground touched by the stanchions holding up the pipe. Road widths also are conveniently left out of the space limit. "It's a complete sham," complains Allen Mattison, a spokesman for the Sierra Club which opposes drilling. "It's like a fishing net. If you count just the space of the string's width, that's small. But if you open up a fishing net and count the area it covers, that's much larger." Environmentalists complain that the House limit ends up allowing oil companies to spread out over practically the entire 1.5 million acres.
OK, I'm easy, let's say they're right. Now we have (1.5)(2100)/19 = 170 in2 of fishnet for her outfit. Allow about 60 in2 for some brief panties on the bottom and a tube top about 3" wide takes up the rest. I'm thinking you could sell pictures of Ms. Crawford in that outfit too.

I'm gonna have to get out more often. Hello, Bonfire of the Vanities?