Friday, December 03, 2004

Attention music wizards

Who can identify the background music from:

1) Zales' jewelers commercials
2) Taco Bell commercials

I suppose there is a way to look this up, but I don't know how yet.

"Life ending without request"

There's nothing quite like having your morality questioned by those who would kill the innocent and protect the guilty. Consider this, from The Diplomad (one of the better blogs to show up lately).

And while I'm dumping on them furriners, how about this from Charles Krauthammer:
[the Europeans] pretend, however, that this opposition to America's odd belief in spreading democracy universally is based not on indifference but on superior wisdom -- the world-weary sagacity of a more ancient and experienced civilization that knows that one cannot bring liberty to barbarians. Meaning, Arabs. And Muslims. And Iraqis.
Yeah. But I'm betting that if someone from the American South thought that way they'd call it "racism".

Krauthammer link stolen from Betsy Newmark - that's 2 today.

Social Security done right

How it's done in Chile.

Sorry FDR, but "no damn politician" ought to be able to concoct something "no damn politician" can take away.

Stolen from the Dodd, who's a candidate for a Weblog award here - what are you waiting for?

Psst - here's the real scoop on Glenn Reynolds...

Are you ready for this?

Yes, it's, "Where the Students do the Grading". Heh heh, how I would have liked to have this back in college. (Although it would have had to run in plain text at 110 baud on a teletype.)

Some entrepreneurs had put together what they called the "Course Critique". It wasn't all-inclusive but it was handy in telling the "Santa Clauses" (mostly in humanities) from the "screws" (mostly in my core engineering classes).

It even included some grade distributions, which helped I found that I had had one instructor who had half his students drop and flunked half of the survivors (but not me, ya !#$!@$), and another who gave out 60% D's or F's. Info like that could be helpful at a fairly high-strung school like ours - one student blew his head off just outside the student center after his calculator died on a big test and his prof told him "tough luck".

(As it happened, I had the same prof the next quarter, and he was a jackass. We had a multiple guess final with 10 choices per question, and you still had to show the work. The SOB took 15 out of 15 points off me on questions where I had checked the right answer - he didn't like the work. The corker was when he presented a problem with falling particulates and we were to determine the terminal velocity. You'd guess at a velocity, calculate the drag coefficient from it, see what velocity resulted based on calculated drag coefficient, compare it to the guessed velocity, plug in the new velocity value if they were off more than an arbitrary amount and start over, ad nauseam until the velocities before and after were within a nonspecified but "close" band. It so happened that I got one of his 10 answer choices with x iterations and another with x+1 iterations, so I picked the latter. Wrong - the earlier one was "close enough", and I got no credit. GRRR!)

Anyway, I used RmP to check out my alma mater. After a couple of decades the turnover was high of course, but sure enough there were some of the same faculty I remembered.

And it seemed as if the ratings were the same ones they would have been when I was there. That was good for two of them, but you'd think the others would have learned something.

Link stolen from Betsy Newmark, who gives me hope that there are still some good teachers left.

Justice against spammers

You know that scene in "When Harry Met Sally"? The "I'll have what she's having" scene? Well, that's what I thought of when I read this:

Thanks Bitter - you made my day.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Walk a mile in his moccasins. Then shoot him.

This is the kind of story that ticks me off. Reading it, you'd almost forget that the boy killed was trying to kill American and other soldiers liberating Iraq in Fallujah, and that his father had learned nothing from it.

We hear that the boy, Ahmed, insisted on serving on the front line in a black tracksuit an "insurgent" leader had just given him.

The boy's mother was angry, but too bad. Apparently she doesn't even know he's dead yet. Allah will help the father against the Americans, but apparently he cowers before his wife. (Wait until you get your martyrdom, pal, and you have 72 of them to answer to...)

Well, you know how kids are. They get these ideas and... Yeah, right. The father, Abu Muhammed, the guy our correspondent would have us pity, tells us he's not just an "insurgent", but a sniper. That's not enough - he says "When I shoot a target with a rocket-propelled grenade, it's like celebrating a feast".

So we know where the 13 year old kid got his ideas. Either father or son would have killed your or your kids in a flash and would have enjoyed every minute of it. But we're supposed to feel for them?

IMO this quote was interesting:
While atrocities unleashed by the insurgents -- beheadings and bombings that have killed scores of civilians -- have at least anecdotally seemed to unleash popular revulsion, there remains a constituency in Iraq that celebrates the guerrilla war. Myths have grown up around it, all infused with religious imagery and notions of divine intervention. Residents trade stories: that the knights of the prophet Muhammad were seen riding through Fallujah's streets on horseback with their swords drawn; that birds guided by God cast stones at Apache helicopters; that a scented breeze descends on the fighters as they battle U.S. troops.

Abu Mohammed had his tale.

At a checkpoint this summer, he was stopped by U.S. and Iraqi troops with a rocket-propelled grenade and three hand grenades in his trunk. He said he beseeched God: "I am fighting for you." The troops opened the trunk, he said, and found nothing.
Yeah, and other sources have told us about the big supplies of drugs the "insurgents" have.(There's no word yet on whether they've started ghost dancing).

It's just not fair!
The Americans, Abu Mohammed said, are "strong in their technology, but I've never seen cowards like them."

A hint of anger flashed across his usually calm demeanor. "Fifteen thousand Americans against 2,000 mujaheddin, with their technology and their firepower? They say they were victorious, but what kind of victory was that?"
Well hey, you have Allah on your side, not to mention the knights of Mohammed, the birds, the scented breezes...

And Allah isn't through with them yet:
"Until the day of judgment, there will be jihad," Abu Mohammed said, his words slow. "If something happened in Lebanon, I would find a bridge to cross and go there to fight." In a calm voice, he described his obligation as a matter of fact, a self-evident truth, and he quoted the Koran to illustrate his point: "And slay them wherever you catch them."

He clutched a pillow in his lap as he sat cross-legged. A tattered white curtain hung over the window, its pane broken.

"Jihad is not only against the Americans, it's also waged against the people who support them," he said. "They say the government is Iraqi, but it's really American. It's an Iraqi on the throne, but the throne itself is American."
For people who believe that, only one end is possible. I say we expedite it.

IMO the most irritating thing about this article is that what is most damning of our "insurgent" is toward the end. If you don't finish the article, all you see is some poor SOB who lost his son to the Americans.

I guess that's what you can expect from a blue state paper like the Washington Post. They work so hard to understand those who would kill them, and even present them sympathetically. Isn't it a shame that they don't put more effort into understanding red staters?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

For Alexander buffs

Check out Livius, which is self-described as "a non-commercial website on ancient history".

In your face, infidels!

Mail and Guardian Online: Iran boasts nuclear victory over US: "Iran boasted on Tuesday that it had humiliated the United States at a board meeting of the UN atomic watchdog by agreeing to what it reiterated was only a temporary freeze of its suspect nuclear programme."

Monday, November 29, 2004

And we fought for this?

I've written several times before about that hellhole that is North Korea. But now I'm starting to question the South too.

In the late 80's an engineer I knew took an assignment in Korea. When he went he was, um, corpulent. When he got back he was svelte. Had he been working out? No, he just couldn't handle the food or the sanitation. The latter consisted mostly of dumping buckets of water on the floor and letting it run into the big holes which served as toilets.

Around the same period the Olympics were held in Seoul and I was working with a 20-something Korean engineer. She was outraged because it seemed to her the no one ever mentioned South Korea in the Olympic coverage without noting the canine cuisine. She didn't deny it, she just thought they could drop it once in a while.

Now today I read this, in which the author and his commenters decry what one of them called the utter lack of common courtesy in South Korea.

I won't be booking a flight over there any time soon.

Over the top rhetoric awards

Right here, according to columnist John Leo.

I might have divided them into classes like "Self-Awareness Award". It would have gone to Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks for "I realize that I’m just supposed to sing and look cute so our fans won’t have anything to upset them while they’re cheating on their wives or driving around in their pickup trucks shooting small animals.”