Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Timing Of These Israeli Strikes

     About 120 killed by Israel.

     We know, for a fact, that there is no pressing need for these strikes to occur now.  The rocket attacks, while harmful, occur at roughly the same degree of lethality as they always have.  Jay, earlier, commented that no one should have to accept such rocket attacks.  Of course, if we played by those rules, there would be nearly endless wars on Earth. The Burmese and Thai would have to go to war. The Thai and the Malaysians would have to go to war. The Venezuelans and Colombians would have to go to war. The Indians and Pakistanis would have to go to war.

     The Israelis are using the annual media lull to get away with vengeance killing.  120 people dead?  Does anyone think these airstrikes hit 120 rocketeers? 

     My policy suggestion is to, for all intents and purposes, stop helping either side.  We do send lots of money (100s of millions?) to the Abbas government, and billions (including military aide) to the Israelis.  Cut them both off.  Pronto. 

     WHY DOES THE MUSLIM WORLD HATE US? It isn't because we are free, as Senator Schumer (D-NY) said on September 12th, 2001, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, it is because no matter what atrocity or treaty breaking the Israelis do, we keep sending them guns and money.  U.S Foreign Policy is Dead! Love Live U.S. Foreign Policy!
Global Capitalism and Guinea

     As a reminder, after the death of Lansana Conte, dictator/President for 24 years in Guinea, there was a bloodless coup by a mostly military group.  Conte had come to power the same way 24 years ago. 

     The Conte government took money from the international aluminum producers and made little to no effort on behalf of the Guinean people.  The Camara gov't could be interested in making itself rich, and has sought power for that purpose...  it could be interested in seeing benefits for its linguistic group (the Malinke)...  it could be interested in helping everyone in Guinea except the Soussou (those who benefitted most from Conte's rule)...  or it could be interested in serving all Guineans.

     The ironic part being that the global capitalist(best-price-seeking) mindset wants Capt. Camara to be a petty, selfish corrupt dictator bent on keeping the peace and being the only one who gets a slice of the pie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Attack Planned?

     Those who follow the news might heave learned that Friday evening is the time to break "bad" news, because fewer people are paying attention.  If you get to wait as long as you want, between the celebration of the birthday of dead Jesus and the end of the year in the calendar based on dead Jesus's birth is the time to bury a news story.  This sort of thing is surprisingly common, no matter the location. 

     Certain people in the Gaza strip (total population > 1,000,000) fire small rockets into Israel.  I think three people have died, and another dozen have been injured, in the 1000s of rocket attacks launched since Hamas took over Gaza.  Israel is now threatening to invade Gaza, perhaps during this news lull, because of the (relatively) meaningless acts of a few.  Of course the rocket attacks should not be ignored, but many, many suicide bombers have done more damage over the years.  What's more important, and what the Isreaelis have always done is allow the actions of a few to justify retaliatory strikes against the many.  For example, it has been alleged that a Corporal (G. Shalit) in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) was kidnapped.  Israel, in retaliation, bombed the electricity power generation facility that served 600 to 900 thousand people.  I don't deny there is a strong possibility that the kidnappers were on that electric grid, but, we all know damn well that the other 599,995 to 899,995 people had nothing to do with it, but paid anyway.  I've said for a long time that Israel is being very stupid in expecting the Palestinian governments preventing any single Palestinian attacking any Israeli.  No offense, but if Israel can justify aerial bombardment with expectation of civilian casualties with any single attack, then certainly they are expecting the Palestinian government to control 100% of its citizens.  I expect better of Israel.
How Bad Is America? Pretty Bad This Time

     "One of the things we want to see immediately is a restoration of a civilian democratic rule," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood. 

     "Civilian" "Democratic" rule?  Conte was "civilian" in the sense that he was a member of the military.  That alternative definition of "civilian" which includes "the military" will be sent to you in your new "Doublespeak Dictionary" arriving soon.

     "Democratic"? Conte took over in a coup.  He was in power for almost 25 years, it isn't officially a one-party state, but his party has been in power the whole time.  Back in 2004 he tried to force his man (the successor, by the Constitution) into the successor job, and Parliament wasn't really keen on the idea, so he made sure Parliament didn't meet until it agreed.  That sounds more like the English Monarchy of the 1600s than "democracy."  Again, your dictionary updates will be coming soon in the mail.  Please also look for other new definitions:

     Profit: See, God

     Freedom: The wonderful power to do be allowed to do what you are told to do
Better Than Any Newswire ...

     ... is Wikipedia's Coverage of the Coup Attempt in Guinea.  Naturally, I am concerned that interested parties will attempt to manipulate this news, but, at least, it will be a bit clearer when it happens.  As far as I was concerned, especially during the first couple days, their coverage of the South Ossetian crisis was also best.
The Coup in Guinea

     I have read a little bit about the Mano River wars (a.k.a Charles Taylor wars) in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D'Ivoire and Guinea, so I knew the name Conte and Conkary before Conte died two days ago, after having run the country since 1984 as dictator.  He had taken over in a bloodless coup after the previous leader had died, nearly identical to the current situation.  By the way, in the Mano River wars, Conte was generally against Robert Taylor, which is a plus.  One of the big "problems" of these wars(was there a non-problem?) were everyone was rallying/paying militias to go over the border.  People tend to be less brutal to their neighbors, while foreign contract killers have almost no incentive to be humane.

     Good and bad news in Guinea.  The bad news is that every international organization has come out against the putchists.  Guinea is in Francophone Africa, and France is particularly upset, AFP is using bogus ledes and headlines to paint the worst possible light (e.g. the new government has promised elections within two years, AFP actually wrote they had "ruled out" all elections for two years.  AFP is making it up.). 

     The language mix in the country is (table based on Ethnologue) is reported to be 40% Fulani, 30% Malinke, and 20% Soussou.  Conte was Soussou and lots of the top people in the government he ran were, too.  The putchists might well be a Malinke faction.

     Good news:  No fighting so far (re-categorize under great news).  Supposedly, most all Guineans are much happier with the idea of a non-corrupt military government than a continuation of the Conte legacy.  They were planning a curfew, but the imposition of the curfew is being delayed till after Christmas.  The former government was corrupt.  Capt. Camara has pre-emptively accused the "loyalists" of getting ready to bring in foreign mercenaries.  This suggests the idea behind his power is entirely Guinean.  Camara has a way with words.  Although only a Captain, he ran the logistics or supply division of the Army. 

     Bad news:  Camara's people already had a parade.  As a practical minded-person, I can't see that there is any real utility in this, don't they have a government to set up?  If I had to guess, the worst possibility is that this is going to turn into a "Malinke-turn-at-the-trough" after a quarter century of Soussou rule.  I doubt neighbors will try to take advantage and move into Guinea, but certainly justifications like "in defense of the Constitutional order" are already winning wide approbation among the allegedly responsible parties.  A dictator write a Constitution that says his hand-picked second-in-command should be put in charge if he dies is a meaningful document?  I'm pretty sure that's all the Constitution amounts to in this case.

     If no one is dying now, how many Guineans would you be willing to sacrifice (i.e. kill, and since it is premeditated, therefore murder) in order to create a democracy that has "never" existed there? 

     Oh, and if you are a Russian or South African, this is particularly bad news.  Russia's Rusal and South African Anglo-Dutch Ashanti are probably among the biggest producers.  They had deals cut with Conte, and now will have to renegotiate.  English Rio Tinto, Australian BHP Billiton and American Alcoa are also present in Guinea, the world's biggest source of Bauxite, the raw material used for aluminum.  Bloomberg is running a story principally based on the words of the EurAsia group, based in New York, which says the mining companies will face "constant extortionary pressure."  Has there been any extortionary pressure?  Did the mining companies used to pay off Conte, personally, so that little to no taxes or fees needed to be paid to the Guinean treasury?  However, it should also be noted that most of the current event facts I have relied on have come from the Bloomberg Newswire.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Friend Says "He Madoff With Their Money"

     Madoff is under house arrest, allegedly not allowed to leave his multi-million dollar Manhattan apartment. 

     What is a Ponzi scheme?  Ponzi found that you could buy a type of postage stamp in Italy, sell them in America, and because of the exchange rates, you made money.  This was entirely legal, a loophole in the system.  In finance, this is called arbitrage, finding a gap between prices and exploiting it. 

     Based on the amount of money people invested with him, Ponzi would have to transport millions of these stamps, but, regrettably for him, only 27,000 existed.  So, he started paying off investors with the new money rushing, and quite a lot of it ended up in his pocket.

     How come Madoff still has a seven million dollar apartment?  The idea behind not putting him behind bars, I've heard, is that he isn't a direct threat to anyone anymore.  Are you sure of that? Are you sure he doesn't have an offshore company, which he is now free to manage?  I think he'd be an absolute fool if he didn't have such a company.  Can he manage it freely, of course not, but if he had much foresight, he could be managing it indirectly.

     I think we need to expect more, and punish more freely, the people who have more, and wield more power.  The fine for jaywalking, for example, what sense does it make that a rich person pays the same $50 fine as a poor person?  Since it means nothing to a rich person to pay such a fine, they are basically given a license to violate any law whose penalty is a fine.  Speeding tickets?  Who cares if you are rich!
Is Every Senior Republican Senator A Hypocrite?

     I Hereby propose legislation for the 111th Congress, "The Hypocrite Awareness Act."  Remember when all the Republicans were going to push something called the "nuclear option," which would have been a ruling by the Chair on a point of order that, on judicial nominations, no filibusters would be allowed.  See, President Bush nominated lots of Judges to lifelong appointments on the Federal Court whose only "qualification" was ideological, sure to upset the Democratic ideological opposition.  Character was not an issue, and many lacked it.  Post-14th century views on the sexes or the races were, apparently, not uniformly required. 

     Are these Republican Senators hypocrites?  Were they lying when they said this was an important principle?  How many of these same, exact Republicans would support the idea that they shouldn't ever filibuster an Obama judicial nominee? 

     Truth be told, after starting to dig around, I thought there might be some merit to the arguments being made by the Republicans at that time.  I wasn't convinced, but if the Republicans are willing to make it again, perhaps a little less pressured by time constraints (President-elect Obama, naturally, hasn't made any judicial appointments), and the issue might be resolved. 

     Well, that, or the hypocrites might be exposed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thanks, Washington Post

     This paper does dirty work sometimes, but this is nice stuff:
Caroline Schlossberg nee Kennedy

     Why was it a joke for Sarah Palin to run for President, but we should take Caroline Kennedy seriously as a potential Senator from New York?

     I already asked if anyone thinks George Walker Bush would have been considered for Governor of Texas, not to mention President, if his father hadn't been President.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Civilization and Hats (really: hair)

     What gets in your hair? With so much surface area, hair picks up more particulate than any other part of your body, especially since, at least in the winter (if you are uncouth) most everything else is covered up. 

     So, if you had to cover your hair, with a hat or hoodie, half the time, which half would it be?  I always find drug stores to be quite smelly.  I find health food stores to be quite smelly, but in an OK way.  The air in NYC, least so on Monday mornings, very early, are always filled with dust of life (esp. industry, transportation and cooking).  So, always when on the street.  What about at work?  I am thinking of old movies featuring newsrooms, where wearing hats indoors was the norm. 

     Putting on your hat, you are saying the air could use improvement, taking it off, you are expressing satisfaction. 

     By the way, I have always thought this concerning tying one's hair up, if it is long. Seeing people with long hair flowing on the subway (where the air seems foulest) makes me wonder... what do they smell when they get home?  No, dears, wear it up in a bun, tie it in a pony tail, or, better yet, put it under a hat.
Krugman On the Media

     Krugman was saying that, in general, economics reporting has improved over the last decade, but he made one exception, here is a close paraphrase: that you can't be taken seriously on foreign policy unless you were wrong about Iraq, and you can't be taken seriously on the housing crisis unless you were wrong about the bubble.  He was saying that the only people who get quoted who are "sell-side" in the housing industry.

     Strangely, later he made a strange timeline mistake.  Smoot-Hawley was passed in mid-1930, but Krugman said it was passed before the Great Depression started (1929).  At least he said, following Ha Joon-Chang, that the numbers don't add up to pin any serious blame on Smoot-Hawley for worsening the depression.  They do not add up at all.
The Bailouts

     Are the auto and finance industry bailouts a violation of America's World Trade Organization obligations?  Would we actually pay the fine if found guilty?  Don't expect any "journalist" to raise this question.
Clan or "Ethnic" Based Polities (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE 1: Add Ferraro paragraph at end

     In many countries in Africa and the Middle East which have many linguistic or tribal groups, the government is often from one group.  It is easy to imagine that qualified people outside the clan consider this unfair, unjust, possibly corrupt, or, at least, a bad recipe in the long run. 

     Already in American politics, family often trumps quality.  Let's face it, George Walker Bush was considered a real candidate not because he was a likable, upbeat idiot with a alcoholic, privileged asshole background, but because his father was President. 

     Let's not hand the Senate Seat in New York to Caroline Kennedy.  She is not an expert on our wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, she is not an expert in terrorism, she is not an expert in Russia (still the #2 nuclear missile power), China, India or trade issues, she is not an expert on the economy, she is not an expert on Health Care, she is not an expert on taxes, she is not an expert on the justice system.

     Instead of any qualifications, Caroline Kennedy has a very, very large rolodex.  She has this because of the connections of her clan, the Kennedys. 

     If she had even one of these expertises, I could consider supporting her.  Instead I am embarassed for America and her increasingly clannish ways.

     It turns out Geraldine Ferraro wants Caroline Kennedy also not get the post, pointing out the same thing, and wrote to Governor Patterson should nominate one of the six, sitting female members of New York's Congressional delegation.  Excuse me, Geraldine?  You were abysmal during the Democratic primaries, and you are abysmal here.  We should pick people solely on the basis of which reproductive organs they have?  That is often a top priority for dating, but totally irrelevant in politics.  Could we review the list of experiences (I forgot Global Climate Change! Another expertise Caroline Kennedy doesn't have) I presented?
Bulls & Bears on Fox News

     I have been out of touch with the idiot media recently.  These numbnuts actually got me to yell at the TV!  Is Obama bringing us to a command economy like the Soviet Union?  The best way to understand the Soviet Union is a non-democratic government that, in addition to running National Defense, a National Pension, the Education System, the Health Care System... ALSO ran Ford, GM, Chrysler, Exxon/Mobil, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, ABC, NBC, CBS, et cetera, et cetera.  The labels less unimportant.

     Bulls & Bears had four or five guests talk about the issue with State Budgets.  In this discussion, no one mentioned that States are, in most cases, bound to balance their budgets by their own laws.  Four of the five simply hate government.  The "defender" of taxes couldn't get the name of Gramm-Leach-Bliley out correctly, which makes me think he was being fed information.
Piracy off the Somali Coast

     By the way, there is a huge business beach-landing goods on the Somali coast and then moving it over the border into Kenya. This sidesteps their corrupt import bureau and tariffs.

     Anyway, do you think Sharia law approves of piracy?  America backed the Ethiopian military effort to destroy the last government in Somalia's capital Mogadishu a few years ago, called the Islamic Courts Union.  You can be DAMN sure no one in America will receive the news from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or FOX that piracy off the Horn of Africa is, in part, a consequence of American Foreign Policy.

     Is there some great stain involved with being a journalist?  Of course not.  Then why are such dumb-asses getting the job?

     I'm watching Fox & Friends this morning, and the idiocy has been non-stop.  Not only have the stories (between multi-minute segments on a single mother-kills-daughter death) been dumb, the presentations have been idiotic. Little of it qualifies as "news."  First they call Joe Biden saying the economy is tanking a "gaffe." What planet are they on?  Biden also said the economy might need another 600-700 billion dollar plan, which the "hosts" talked about for a while, 2 of 3 saying that they heard it might be 1 trillion dollars, suggesting Biden never said anything wrong, and never committed a "gaffe," but they kept going on and on saying that he uses "colorful language" (doesn't that usually mean cursing?) and "hyperbole."  As Bob Somerby says, but doesn't quite understand, they were repeating the script.  Bob, they are idiots, they are lazy, if you tell them that Biden committes "gaffes" and then he says something they don't like, that must be the gaffe.  It's certainly not a plot, it is a consequence of not being smart.  Then they talked about Congressional pay raises.  Rather than just say they hate the Democratic Congress, and Congress in general, they got some idiot from twitter to say it for them, and they read the person's comment on air.  The person's comment was that Congress had done nothing at all, and so didn't deserve a raise.  Nothing?  One of the "hosts" said they should take the raise, and give it all to charity, because that would put it in the economy. 
Obama Has Many Choices

     We can almost assume that not 100% of the people Bush appointed were idiots.  There are thousands of political appointments, and he didn't know them all personally.  Bush didn't get in any trouble at all, for anything he did as President, so I'd like to thank the shoe-thrower.

     Here are some people who work for the government, or government started entities, and a review of them:
Thomas StallUSAID Iraq DirectorWorse than Worthless. Still saying "stay the course." Knee-jerk privatizer, people be damned
Raymond GilpinUSIP Assoc VP (Econ)Knee-jerk privatizer, somewhat forthright with bad news, not impressive, non-native English speaker
Paul BrinkleyDep. UnderSec'y of Defense
for Bus. Transformation
Not brilliant, still too pro-Business, but pragmatic. Keep
John HerbstState Dept. Coord
for Iraq Reconstru

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things About My Father

This post is personal.  Since I never write stuff like that, I thought I'd hide it, unless you push the button. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Common Misconceptions

     I don't think I held to any "common misconception" listed until I got to this one:
Lemmings do not engage in suicidal dives off cliffs when migrating. This misconception is due largely to the Disney film White Wilderness, which shot many of the migration scenes on a large turntable in a studio. Photographers later pushed the lemmings off a cliff using a broom.
Thanks to J.S. for the link.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Perp Walk: 54 times

     MSNBC running dog lackeys play Blackwater perp-walk 54 times in 15 minutes.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Language & Conflict: A Report from Afghanistan

     Many thanks to WIIIAI, for this link to a discussion of the language issue (Dari (vs Farsi) vs Pashto) in Afghanistan.  Student conflicts have resulted in 100s of injuries.  The Culture Minister is accused of being against all Iranian influence as foreign, and un-Afghan, but the same guy supports the use of English.  One person says that people re using the language issue to divide Afghans, as part of a plot.  If I have done that, I apologize.  My main interest is justice, specifically administrative/legal justice, a requirement for good governance, which requires that the judge, jury, lawyers, witnesses, police and prison guards can all communicate reasonably effectively with the accused.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Obama, Wasting His Time, America's Time

     Obama is going to have a press conference to announce the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs today.  Is anyone going to try to convince me that putting him in front of a bunch of flags, telling us who is going to have a job, and giving us the rosies of his resume, is a useful use of time? 

     Obama isn't President yet, but he's already wasting our time.  The media, and people who tune into the media, for such events, are also to blame.

     This is one of the things I hated about the Bush administration, when a lot of the top officials in the entire country would be seated around a table with Bush, or standing in front of a bunch of flags, acting as stage props while Bush spoke, as if they were a bunch of trained seals.  I know Bush believed in that kind of craziness, that the words sound more important if you can waste important people's time by making them stand behind you when you speak them, but I was hoping Obama was more intelligent than that.
Good Economic News

     For the last many, many months, pretty much all the economic news has been bad.  Since there was little you could do about it, I've haven't really been making note of it.  Well, there was some good news this week.  The Mortgage Bankers Association, which represents the mortgage finance industry, reports on changes in the mortgage market.  Last month the market firmed, by quite a bit.  Of course, it is firming from a very low point, but we aren't talking about a little month-over-month firming, but the biggest jump in this statistic in the last decade.

     That, and some of the jobs numbers, while really bad, weren't as bad as the month before, or as bad as "the surveys" expected.  That's more of a "bad situation not getting bad at a worse rate" kind of good news, but, anyway.
The Job of the Presidency

     Was George Walker a front man for shadowy interests?  When asked if Obama's election was a repudiation of him, he couldn't say yes, but he did say it was a "repudiation" of the Republican Party (it was a fairly close election, actually).  Bush then explained
I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy. In other words, they made a conscious choice to put him in as president. [emphasis mine]
These were not scripted answers, and Bush's understanding of the job of President appears to be revealed here, explaining what other people have decided.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Obama's Birth Certificate

     Even though people are petitioning the Supreme Court to force Hawai'i to produce the document, the Obama campaign put this online months ago.  Notice anything odd about it?

     I noticed something odd.  The "race" field.  Could someone explain to me how this is relevant?  I suppose it could be used later to disprove that a person is who their birth certificate says they are ("Why, you're a white myn, but this here documents says you have two black parents!") but, gosh, lots of things we have now do that.  Blood type is reasonable.&bbsp; Foot prints are often taken. 

     Let's aim to erase "RACE" from public documents, like identity cards, just like we wouldn't (now) put your parents religion on your birth certificate, or put your religion on your identity card.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I believe you, city dweller, shouldn't get anymore pets (dogs/cats/et cetera)

     If your pet has the freedom to enter and leave your abode on its own whim, more power to it.  Otherwise, if I get a say, I would prefer you not have any more pets.

Monday, December 01, 2008


     I have added the RSS feed to the Daily Howler!  It's available here.  A year or more ago I got Dr. Imad Khadduri, formerly of Iraq's Nuclear program, to use a CSS stylesheet I gave him.  Yay!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Melbourne Shuffle: Pae and Sarah

Too hard, naturally.  Skip ahead to about 1:02, 2:19, and then again to 3:40.  Obviously you need to ignore the silly hat-spinning.  Like "riverdance," these people don't really know what to do with their hands.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Back The Attack (<-WWII era slogan) Georgian Admits Warmongeriness

     Georgian Official Says Georgia Started War.  He had been replaced as Ambassador to Moscow before these remarks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Me and the Government During the 110th, A Perspective

     I have contacted the government three times in the last two years, although just now I can't recall the precise order.  When it was announced the Bush administration would be seeking the death penalty for Gitmo prisoners, I called the Presidential Comment Line and told them the turning them into martyrs would be a bad idea.  Later, during hearings on FISA, I spoke to a staffer of Senator Feingold's in person.  I had printed out this for them, to help them understand what was going on.  And then, more recently, I contacted the State Department after Secretary Rice spoke in support of the former government of Mauritania.  The President was an Islamist who favored clerics who praise Osama bin-Laden.  That's the guy America, the UN, the African Union, and most other international bodies supported.  There had been a coup after he tried to fire the head of the Army, who led the coup and replaced him.  He is not an Islamist, but relatively secular.  The only people who supported him... the Arab Maghreb Union and the Arab League.  Arabs and Muslims support the guy against al-Qaeda, America supports him.  I tried to use the logic of my language and conflict theory to sway them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Power of Brevity

     Francis M. Cornford is impressing me more and more.  He writes, in Thucidydes Mythistoricus: "The unknown author of the tract On the Athenian Constitution tells us in a few pages more about the Athenian Demos than we shall find in the whole of Thucydides".  Here is a link to the two-three page On the Athenian Constitution.

     The right wing idiots were all over themselves pushing the idea that millions of Hillary voters would actually lift the lever for McCain.  Undoubtedly, some did.  Was there a "puma" effect?  Almost, yes, a little one, and it is visible here.  In Arkansas and Louisiana, alone of the 50 states, did a lower percentage of people vote for Obama than Kerry.  Arkansas is pretty natural.  Louisiana is close by?

By the way, Your Idiot Press Corps never made a big deal that the Republican party was fractured in three: the religious, the hawks, and the economic conservatives/libertarians.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Language And Conflict: New Categorization of Problem Types

     Noam Chomsky, to try to point out the error of my ways, pointed to the 1994 Rwandan genocide as an example of a deadly conflict within one language community.  Of course I'd known about this event, and consider it only one among many major events in the last couple decades, but more recent e-mail conversations about Rwanda with Chomsky have led me to an insight I hadn't previously had.

     Some of the problems, and certainly the class Chomsky was thinking about, concern when groups speaking different languages share one country, or government, and fight over power, land or access to resources.  I like to point to the examples of Switzerland and India as possible ways to handle this.

     A different set of problems emerge when you take one (large-enough) language community and divide it up with internationally recognized (sacrosanct) lines.  Examples include, but are not limited to
  • Kinyarwanda-Rundi, although small, the part in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been particularly influential.  I made that graphic specifically to show Chomsky what I was talking about, and it was key to helping me get to the understanding I am trying to relay in this post.
  • The Taleban, or, more exactly, the Pashtana tribesmen of the Hindu Kush and Koh-e-Sulaiman mountains (Pashtan is singular, Pashtun is the Indian corruption of the word).
  • The Sudan (Deby, President of Chad, comes from a tribe which is half in Sudanese Darfur.
  • The Kurds
  • The Somalis (still without a government, 17 years running).
  • Even Ossetia. Divided between Russia and Chechnya
Again, as if you needed any reminding, all of these borders were drawn up by Europeans, who, generally speaking, organized things for their own interests (if you look at the Pashtana map, it looks as if "divide and rule" was their interest).

     Somali, Rwandan, Kurdish, Pashtana and Zaghawa speakers have all, definitely hosted rebel groups on one side of the border to attack and destabilize the government on the other.  In fact, all of them are doing it today.

     Peace out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


     Does anyone know any better writing on the internet than this Japan's Other Emperor?  It's alien, historical, sad and true.  Can I spoil it for you? 
[Godaigo's heir] Hiromichi himself apparently remained grateful to the Allies even after the SCAP [Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Powers] brushoff. But generally, populist sentiments about the Occupation ran hot and cold. Hot when GHQ's [GHQ is another way to refer to SCAP] fiery New Deal lawyers promised them "a hand in the future" and lasting reforms; cold when SCAP went into business with the old guard. After Mao took over China and Korea heated up, SCAP was taken over by CIA types who didn't like people in movement period. They hurt the unions while boosting the war industries and the gangsters. They turned heavy-duty war criminals loose with big money in their pockets to help SCAP maintain "social harmony." "A-Class" [Japan classified its war criminals, A-class were the worst] rogues such as Kishi, Kodama and Sasagawa profited immensely by reviving the mobs and rescuing the "patriotic" societies. Kishi made prime minister; Kodama became one of Japan's three most powerful men; and Sasagawa Ryoichi, self-proclaimed "world's richest fascist," was several times seen jogging around Africa with Jimmy Carter and the Gandhi Peace Prize in his pocket. Older activists especially have a hard time feeling too pro-American about those days.
Susan Rice

     Her name is popping up in relation, perhaps, to the post of the National Security Advisor under the Obama administration.  I've read her name twice in the last month in relation to Africa.  Is she any good?  Not at all.  Admittedly, in the first event I will relate, she was doing Bill Clinton's bidding.

     Twice in the last decade Kagame (Tutsi) of Rwanda and Museveni of Uganda have invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo because, principally, both Mobutu Sese Seko and then the Rwanda/Ugandan installed Joseph Kabila both "allowed" rebel Hutus, including 1994 genocidaires, to launch attacks into Rwanda.  Rwanda and Uganda couldn't keep their act together, and one faction of anti-Kabila rebels became known as the RCD (you can call them "the Rally"). The Rally has few of their own aims (although, sure, they'd like to take over the Congo), they are a proxy military outfit of the Rwandans.  When Susan Rice was Asst. Sec't of State for African Affairs, she met with the RCD leaders in Kigale, capital of Rwanda.  This is about as big as endorsement of violent, raping, thuggish, thieving, mineral-smuggling rebels (who, admittedly, might also have some legitimate grievances) that can be imagined by one author.

     Later, under her own power, in December, 2001, Susan Rice declared that Osama bin-Laden had been arming and training the Somalia warlords (Gen. Farah Aideed, among others) who attacked and killed some U.S. troops in 1993.  Is there any solid reason, post-9/11, to bring up the eight year old attack and blame al-Qaeda for it?  No public U.S. or U.N. personnel in Somalia at the time ever noted any links to terrorists.  The Somalis themselves deny it completely.  There was a lot of (relatively misplaced) focus on Somalia at the time, and Susan Rice appears to be like on of those bloodthirsty Bushies when she (baselessly? entirely baselessly? seems like it) brands a whole country "terrorist." 

     The book I was reading today, which reminded me of this incident, noted that Somalia is actually a pretty bad "safe haven" for terrorists.
  1. There is no one to protect them from kidnappers, either.
  2. There are no available western targets anywhere nearby (not one embassy, even).
  3. They are foreigners, where there are almost no foreigners, and so would stick out badly.
No, if you are a terrorist, you want a big, multi-ethnic metropolis where you can blend in.  You want an easily corruptible government that will overlook small, non-lethal parts of your operation (as long as none of the locals get hurt, and I make a buck, whats to stop me, says the cop, taking the bribe).  Near perfect anarchy, however, is useless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is There A More Useful Idiot ...

     ... than Thomas Friedman?  It is hard for me to imagine a more malignant influence in the field of the printed word.
Themed Post 2: On Categorization of Languages

     The point is that mutual intelligibility is equality, but that there is also a "linguistic distance" between languages, which might be measured by the time it would take an average person speaking the first language to learn the second. All sufficiently alien languages, I would say, are equally distant. The distance between French and Italian, on the other hand, is relatively small. It might be possibly to plot these distances.  It might be possible, given that linguists tend to come up with terms for features in a language like verb-subject-object order, that language distance roughly corresponds to the number of language feature differences.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can I Make This My Themesong?

The way Hoagie Carmichael's voice works, so that there are no clear breaks between when he is singing and not, amazes me.  Lauren Bacall is 19 in this clip.
Saying Farewell: Remembering the Bush Administration

     This, a link I (re?) found via the Daily Howler who linked to Media Matters who liked to other Media Matters stories, is Ron Suskind's Without A Doubt.  I read, soon after it was published, Suskind's book about/with former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, The Price of Loyalty.  The money quotes from the very long article follow:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." [emphasis mine]
The word "reality" comes from the word "royalty." 
Malek approached him [Rubenstein, on the board of the Carlyle Group] described that time to a convention of pension managers in Los Angeles last year, recalling that and said: "There is a guy who would like to be on the board. He's kind of down on his luck a bit. Needs a job. . . . Needs some board positions." Though Rubenstein didn't think George W. Bush, then in his mid-40's, "added much value," he put him on the Caterair board. "Came to all the meetings," Rubenstein told the conventioneers. "Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years: 'You know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don't think you're adding that much value to the board. You don't know that much about the company.' He said: 'Well, I think I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't really like it that much. So I'm probably going to resign from the board.' And I said thanks. Didn't think I'd ever see him again." [emphasis mine]
We all wish Rubinstein had been right.
And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. "You think he's an idiot, don't you?" I said, no, I didn't. "No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!" In this instance, the final "you," of course, meant the entire reality-based community. [emphasis mine]
This is the Republican Party that elects actors, and hopefully the Party that will nominate Sarah Palin in 2012, to bear the biggest loss since Dukakis.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Strategy Required in Afghanistan

     If part of the strategy involves some people acting as bullet sponges, we need a new strategy.
This is all true.

     This is, as best as I can recollect, a transcript of a conversation I had earlier this evening.

     While eating, I heard people talk about terrorism. It turns out they were talking about the NYC real estate market, one of them, rationally, calling terrorism an "X factor."
Well, it turns out the Taleban problem is co-extensive* with the Pushtun** tribesmen. And as stupid and primitive as it is, these people have a code.
First, it's hospitality.  If you <indicating to the guy talking about terrorism> were to show up on their door, they'd have to take you in.
... at least for three days.  Second, is vengeance.  Every time we blow up one of these wedding parties, they are duty bound to seek vengeance.  Third, I forget third.  Oh yeah, third is taunting.  You have to taunt whoever hasn't killed the person they were supposed to seek vengeance on.  And fourth is forgiveness.  If you show up at their house with a goat
<more laughter>
Yeah, a goat, they pretty much have to forgive you.
So, I figure, 25 million goats and the problem is solved.  It might be a little embarassing to have to pay to apologize for things, and there would undoubtedly be a few holdouts... but basically PROBLEM SOLVED!
*) Not sure I used that word, but I got to the point none-the-less.
**) Turns out Pathan is an Indian corruption of the word Pakhtan or Pashtun, both of which are in the singular.  Pashtana or Pakhtani is the nice way to refer to these folks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Themed Article 3: Custom and Tradition

     Primitive superstition and worship.  Forgive the terms from a past era, but visiting a shrine and tying a piece of rock in a loop of cloth and hanging it around your neck to fight an illness is not strictly religion, since it delves into the land of medicine, and isn't strictly medicine, since a spirit powers the rock.

     How do these things spread?  Surely by word of mouth.  You wouldn't just believe something like this unless you heard it from someone you trusted, or you were desperate.

     Who do we trust?  In another time, if we lived in a large clan, some of use might be brave and take the word of the itinerant story-teller, but family, proximity (for repetition), and familiarity (700 repetitions, ad-people say, to make it stick in your brain forever) suggests more people would get more knowledge from village wise-folk.  People have a tendency to be able to recognize smarts, given enough time, and surviving a long time in such a time suggests intelligence.

     So you're a village elder, and have some clan-cred, and a distant cousin (aren't they all?) comes calling. 

     He's deathly sick.

     You've noticed its been getting worse (you are perceptive, remember?)

     Some people wouldn't want to admit they don't know how to help.
Some people wouldn't want to tell them that it looks just like that thing that killed Fred and his brother, and would he kindly move away quickly.
Some people wouldn't want to tell them that there was no hope.

     Someone smart (that's you) might say something smart, like:
Go now (emphasize now!) to the place, the special place (if they say they ask which one, tell them they know the one!) and grab a piece of it and carry it with you for magic.
Who knows?  When you die, people might carry away pieces of your gravesite.

     (Note, I haven't put the first two "themed" articles up yet. The "theme" is that they were all drafted in the same setting, at the end of a day of study.
Political Acumen

     As political sophistication increases, so do the number of people and amount of territory that can be justly administered.

     Why shouldn't rulers of "failed states" not be supported in efforts to carve up their state, or the reverse?
Ack! Many Times!

     I read this a long time ago and misread it.  Not sure how it happened, but I remember reading that FDR was the most liberal, not the most conservative, of all Democratic Party candidates since his day.  In at least a dozen places I'd said that FDR and Reagan were both the most extreme candidates, and therefore, even if you believed Obama was an ultra-liberal, maybe that wasn't so bad.  Reagan was the most conservative President since FDR.  Obama's short record in the U.S. Senate puts him to the right of FDR.  Still, there is a very large gap between FDR and Eisenhower.  There has not been a centrist U.S. President since (at the very least) FDR.

     I apologize! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama Meets Unconditionally With Warmonger

     I found the title for this post somewhere else.
On Keynesianism: The Ship Of State

On a stately cruise across the ocean \
our great Ship of State sail with Two Captains.
One looks on high and Always Steers Starboard \
One a bit lower and always cries "Port!"

     Keynesianism says the government should be counter-cyclical.  When the the environment of the government (the economy) is contracting, government should expand. The Democrats always want the government to expand.  Keynesianism also says that when the economy expands, the government shouldn't.  The Republicans always fight to contract the government.

     There are no politicians who respect this divide.  If elected I will be both Democrat and Republican, depending on the times.
NewsBusters Bans Me

     They'd been threatening for a while. I think it was a combination of things. Quoting scripture to them probably irked them to no end. I think some of the people believed I was lying about being a Marine. I know I pissed off one of the authors who had the gall to deny that Republican lawyers tried to block military ballots in Florida in 2000. Because I am banned, I'll never get to school the 'tard.

     NewsBusters is run by some hard-core partisan Republicans, but the reasons to focus on them are serious.  One) They are listed in! This website breaks news? I never saw it. Total media criticism (some little of which is actually fair).  Two) They only have a reasonable number of commenters.  You can interact, in real time (if you are kinda fast), and people might be rude (they were vile, folks, you must have a very, thick skin) but at least there are some people who try to rebut you (and generally fail).

     Oh well, Newsbusters, I was a criminal to the Democratic Party to feed you any good tidbits.  I tried to temper your Reagan worship by pointing out he funded Pol Pot.  I tried to temper your horrid grasp of the facts.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Balinese Gamelan

     Did I post this stuff before? I am unusually intrigued by the Balinese Gamelan.
African Guerillas: Raging Against the Machine

     That is the title of the book I was trying to read yesterday.  It presumed I knew a lot more about all the wars and secessions in Africa since 1970 than I did, but I still dug it.  Editors Morten Bøås and Kevin C. Dunn put together some good stuff. For those who don't know, you can get most european characters by looking at a chart of "html entities"

     The most fun part was at the beginning, when they are dissing the people who call African wars "resource" wars.  I had always found this term problematic, but they say (and, to a degree, show) that the claim is absurd and is usually made by people who want to portray the rebels as bandits/theives, so that no quarter need be given.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

?Wild? Guess?

     Byrd is stepping down from the most powerful committee in the Senate.  Byrd, a Klansman decades ago, and publicly apologetic for it, is voluntarily giving up power?

     I am reminded of Trent Lott losing his leadership post, for praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrat (segregationist) campaign for President.

     Name someone who voluntarily gave up the #1 spot.  Maybe this had something to do with Obama's victory?

     Eli at Lefti alerts me to this article from the NY Times, which finally addresses the Georgian aggression in South Ossetia by our dear ally, Saakashvili. Obama, McCain, and the entire U.S. press corps ate up Saakashitti's repeated claims that big bear Russia was bearing down on poor, defenseless, Georgia. I blogged a ton about it at the time.  My conclusion seems a bit optimistic.
Laurent Nkunda

     Do I like this guy? I like his style...
Laurent Nkunda, from DW-World Laurent Nkunda, leader of the rebels inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo, allied with the Tutsis in Rwanda (Rwanda, BRAVE ALLY IN THE COALITION OF THE WILLING!) and seen here wearing what appear to be U.S. military camouflage.

     In case you don't recall. The first Congo war put Laurent Kabila in power, and he was sponsored by, among others, the Tutsi government of Rwanda which was mad at Mobutu because he led Hutu rebels operate from eastern Congo (the Kivu region). When Kabila got in power, however, he didn't put a stop to it, either, so the Rwandans, among others, started the Second Congo War. Kabila died, his son was put in the Presidency, but that didn't change anything. That war only officially ended in 2003, but the fighting continues, and has been the most deadly war since WWII.

     The American international war reporters have shown virtually no interest in it. Few christians or arabs or muslims are involved, plus, the main mineral there is in your cellphone. It does American reporters no good to tell you the truth. There is no money in it. Does anyone want to let me run a newspaper's international reporting?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Juan Williams: None Dare Call Him Republican Stooge

     Today he was on the O'Really? show saying John McCain III should have been running ads about Reverend Wright for months.  My opinion on this matter is recorded.  I think most public officials visit the Church of the Invisible Sky Fairy in order to fit in, not because they believe all that jazz.  I know they don't believe all that jazz.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


     I made this map of the 2004 New Hampshire.  You won't see a better political map of New Hampshire.  Note how you can read all the town names.  Note the subtle use of the entire color gradient.
NH House 2004
Game "Theory" and Development Aid

     Our policy maybe should _not_ be to help where things are worst.  This gives a certain incentive to just throw up your hands and wait for the cavalry. 

     Now, I just said may main metric was "body count." so I'd be a hypocrite, and certainly mean, to say that "oh, you folks are hopeless and dying, no help for you!"  But certainly we give aid to countries without bodies piling up.

     Oh, for development aid, I might never forget Beatrice Lorge Rogers' Intra-Household Resource Allocation.  It's a very other-centric way to look at why sometimes development aid is a massive fail.

     And, for some other reason, I can't forget a story I read in the London Economist a decade ago about Mozambique.  Mozambique had made some major progress.  They were building infrastructure.  They weren't, to the best of my knowledge, doing it with forced peasant labor.  Then disaster struck.  The weather.  Major storms.  Washed away some roads.  They effectively slipped back to where they were before their efforts.

     So, where should development aid go?  I say it should go to countries which are making the right effort and either having some success, or failing only because of forces beyond their control.  It's more like helping someone trying to get over a wall than anything.  In these cases, recall, there are some people already in the industry or sector we are trying to support, people who have achieved some sort of success.  If the people aren't prepared for the development aid, the effort is much more likely to fail.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Snorting Coke Off A Hooker's Tit at the Cockfight

     Libertarians want all the "victimless" crimes to be legal.  The London Economist (boo! the war in Iraq! boo London Economist) has an official policy of LED, Legalization, Education, Discouragement, and they run favorable stories about how Amsterdam deals with the issue.

     I think that drugs that kill brain cells in order to work (e.g. Cocaine, Inhalants) aren't the same as other types of drugs.

     Regardless, there are some massive, decades-long conflicts funded by drugs in the Andes and Hindu Kush.  Having the U.S. enforce its morality abroad kills foreigners dead.  So, I am quite pleased to read that Evo Morales of Bolivia is booting the DEA.  In a different version of the story, it is noted that "The DEA has not been officially notified of any suspension or expulsion, spokesman Garrison Courtney said Saturday."  What's he waiting for, a boot-print in his derriere?
The Timeless Wisdom of F. M. Cornford

     We aren't electing Barack Obama because he has any special insight into the mix of Islam, Oil-ogarchy and terrorism.  We aren't electing Barack Obama because he's just the kind of Keynesian the current insanity merits.

     In 1908 F. M. Cornford wrote Microcosmographia Academica: Being A Guide for the Young Academic Politician. By "Academic" he is, in fact, referring to the politics of Oxford University.  That is of no moment.  His truths are timeless, as is in evidence when he describes two of the five Parties.
A Conservative Liberal is a broad-minded man, who thinks that something ought to be done, only not anything that anyone now desires, but something which was not done in 1881-82.

A Liberal Conservative is a broad-minded man, who thinks that something ought to be done, only not anything that anyone now desires; and that most things which were done in 1881-82 ought to be undone.
We should have gotten over this racism thing decades ago.
Iraq Update

     U.S. Troop deaths tied with lowest, July 2003.  The lies thrown out by Bush and McCain concerning Iraq were so numerous, I can only bring up a few now. One huge campaign lie told by the Bush administration (back in 2004) was "that as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down."  Since Bush was sworn in again in January, 2005, the total number of Iraqis "standing up" has increased over 418,000 (125K to 542K).  At least 50,000 of these are now at Operational Readiness Assessment 1.  In January 2005 there were 150,000 U.S. Troops in Iraq, now there are 146,000. 

     The article also says that without an agreement BY DECEMBER, the U.S. has no legal role in Iraq.  If anyone knows what I can do to prevent an agreement from passing, please let me know.  The way out of Iraq has always been them asking us.

     Reagan, on 12/4/1992 said one report said there 160 border disputes in post-Soviet Russia. I should review them all.
Sarah Palin Cost McCain the Election (UPDATE1)

UPDATE 1: Added paragraph about McCain's motivations

     Not because she is retarded.  Not because she has the policy acumen of your average hockey mom, but because she has no experience.  The morning she was selected I knew it was all over for John Sidney McCain III.

     See, you can argue that the Biden selection was a semi-cynical ploy to beef up the Obama ticket's foreign policy credentials, but I don't see how it helps with the current economic situation.

     No, the Palin selection undermined the most effective argument the McCain campaign had.  This argument had been used by all the major McCain supporters.  Before that it had been used extensively by the campaign of Hilary Clinton.  It was an argument that made me worry.  It was an argument which I know was influencing some people who might not have wanted to vote for Obama for other reasons (racism, Hillary supporters).

     The Palin selection undermined the experience argument completely.

     So, we have three choices.  We can believe that McCain had no idea about what every Republican in America was saying about Obama and experience.  We can believe that this choice was forced on him by Ralph Reed, or the likes of him.  Or we can believe that John Sidney McCain the Third wanted the Democrats to win.  The most generous answer, of course, is the last.  And if it is true, we should thank John McCain. : And even if it isn't, we should thank him for a mostly decent fight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grant vs Seymour, 1868

     Ulysses S. Grant, Union General, faced New York Governor Horatio Seymour.

     Reconstruction was the big issue. 
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Frank Blair Jr., was a loose cannon who unintentionally proved to be one of the best weapons in the Republican arsenal. [...] Blair came from a prominent political family, had founded the Free-Soil [anti-slavery] party in Missouri, served in the Union military, and lost his wealth financing the Union cause. After the war, however, he became a vocal critic of Radical Reconstruction. During the 1868 campaign, Blair advocated nullification of the Reconstruction Acts and predicted that a Grant presidency would degenerate into a military dictatorship. His harsh words and abrasive personality tended to alienate potential supporters.
From Harpweek
Sarah Palin Is The Bestestest, D'uh!

     From the most recent Palin interview, she shows how much of a normal person she really is, average, even.

     "Sarah Palin says she doesn't know why most women don't support her candidacy or why others believe she is unqualified to be vice president, but she says that makes her determined to keep fighting."

     "I truly believe that the wisdom of the people will be revealed that day, when they elect Barack Obama." I may have added that last bit.


     "I was disappointed that my kids had to see that," referring to vulgar t-shirts. Personally, I am dissapointed she uses minors as campaign props.

     "She said questions about her wardrobe and whether she could be vice president and raise a family at the same time were questions never asked of male candidates." She obviously missed the f*cktard Tim Russert (Nick Denton over at Gawker thinks Tim Russert was a great journalist, which is why Never go there anymore) ask John Edwards about his $400 haircut. And as for family rearing, she is running saying that she is a "normal" person, and running on the team that generally supports stay-at-home Moms and the "traditional" family.

     She says " that final, hard-as-glass ceiling must be broken." which suggests she doesn't know what "glass ceiling" means.

     "Palin was equally at a loss to explain why people, including several prominent Republicans, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, claim she is unqualified to be vice president." She was, however, completely sure that Obama was a Socialist with dubious Xian credentials.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who said I couldn't?

     So I am reviewing the 1876 Tilden/Hayes election.  People point it out, the ignorant weasels, as an example when the Popular vote winner(51-48) was not the Electoral College winner (185-184).

     Personally, it is an odd election for me.  The Democrat represented the racist South, but he was probably ripped off.  Who was more intelligent?  Who was more competent (hussein), I can't say.

     This website has a great rundown, and this quote.  You need to recall that the media enterprises have their own institutional interests.  I pointed out before that they want the race to appear close.  They are legally obligated to make money.
During the Electoral College controversy, both political camps hurled accusations, debate sometimes reached a fever-pitch, and General William Sherman ordered four artillery companies to the nation’s capital to maintain order. The crisis sent newspaper sales soaring, although responsible commentators tried to quiet fears of renewed civil war.
(emphasis mine)
The Worst Thing in the World

     I guess my perspective can be summed up as "Body Count."  I'd rather hear about 100 dead people in Rawalpindi than 99 dead people in Iowa, although I certainly make an exception if it might actually impact my life (very local events).

     By this measure neither Iraq nor Sudan were the great crises occurring during the infamous reign of George Walker.  By far, far, far the biggest meat grinder has been the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This is especially sad since the DRC was also the worst ruled of all African colonies.  It was the setting for Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" which formed the framework of Stanley Kubrick Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocolypse Now."

     The Mobutu regime had lasted for 32 years, with support from the United States.  His country had been staging grounds for attacks by rebels in Uganda and Angola.  Combined with the secondary impacts of the Rwandan genocide, Angola, Uganda, Burundi and Rwandan Tutsis, rebels marched on Kinshasa and replaced Mobutu with Laurent Kabila (the First Congo War, 1996-97).  Kabila ended up surrounding himself with Rwandans, which didn't endear him to the locals, and he didn't put a stop to Rwandan rebels in DRC attacking Rwanda.  It wasn't long before Uganda and Rwanda (mostly) started up the war again, this time against Kabila (the Second Congo War, 1998-2003) whom they had helped put in power.

     It is estimated that about 3,900,000 people died.  That's 100 times as many as Saddam Hussein was accused of killing, it happened five times as fast, and it all happened in the last decade.  I seem to recall one week in the last 7+ years when the topic came up in the national political debate (during the 2004 Olympics, after the conflict was officially over). 

     This is one of the more confusing wars.  The anti-Kabila forces of the Second Congo War were not united, and formed three separate rebel groups in different parts of the giant country.  Many of them had been his allies in the previous decade.  Did I mention it was a giant country?  Look how big. 

     Why did I bring this up?  Fighting is starting again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Upsmanship

     CNN is covering the media attention on Sarah Palin.  I'll be covering CNN's coverage.

Yah, But What's A Ry?

     Is John McCain's "Country First" slogan really about Cindy McCain?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mix It Up

     The election is coming close, and some right wingers are convinced that the election of the Terrorist Obama means the end of America.

     Please visit a right wing website and act sane.  Don't tackle a site that has too many comments (like Little Green Footballs) since you won't be able to keep up.  Like Daily Kos for lefties, that site is for true believers.  Find a blog with few or no commenters.

     I spent a long time at Art Chrenkoff's blog, and was called a "one man comment insurgency" during the first years of the Iraq War for my regular attempts to keep the war-mongers at least tententiously connected to reality. 

     Don't pick fights, don't insult people, just fact check them.  Oh, they'll say, the Bush tax cuts were good for the economy, the middle class is doing great (seriously, I heard that _today_).  Well, the census department has labor statistics.  For all races, for income in 2000, the table is here.  It shows median income was 42,151.  For 2007 income the median income is 50,233.  Inflation adjusted 42,151 in 2007 dollars, according to the BLS is 50,753.  The median income has declined during the Bush years.

     Maybe you just want to join me?  I'm fighting over at a website called "NewsBusters.  My account name is Josh SN.  I only participate in some posts.  I'm doing fine, but I can't cover all their posts. 

     UPDATE: At least go by and check out how bad things really are.  NewsBusters is "important" because these people are covered by News.Google.Com
My Ideas on Education, Part II

     Continued from here

     My idea is heavily based on how the United States Marine Corps tries to teach.  No one pretends that Marines, as a whole, are the sharpest pencils in the box, and, yet the Marine Corps has to train Marines to do jobs that involve life and death of other Marines, for example, aircraft repair. 

     One course I know about was divided up.  Although the whole school was more than seven months long, it was divided into one (very occasionally two) week modules.  There is one course on basic diode/transistor logic: flops, registers and adders.  Another on boolean logic (a and b and c or d if e).  Each day of class in a module consumes the whole day, eight hours or so.

     I believe there is likely a cost to constantly changing the topic, every 55 minutes, during the school day, far above the extra books carried on small backs, time spent roaming the hallways, and locker visits.  I believe that being "left behind" a whole year costs social progress (when the only goal is have them learn what they failed to prove they learned).  The problem might be in math, or reading, or perhaps writing, but maybe not in all three.  If you only stay back one week and you only stay back in one subject (say, pre-calculus) you can stay with your peers in every other class.  Depending on the particulars (one module in math each two or three months?) the "new" peers you might find won't be particularly different in their social development levels.

     Of course, I am open to compromise.  I imagine that if each day had 7 hours of classes, there would still be 1 class of math, 1 of english, and 1 of physical education each day, so the "module" class would only be for four hours (or so).  I think there should still be a break every 55 minutes, so the kids can get up and stretch.  Who knows, maybe more often (35 minutes? 15 minutes) would be better. 

     Another advantage of the module system is summer school.  If a student re-takes a module, for a month, in the summer, the class isn't abbreviated, they get to repeat the whole course.  This also let's students who might be forced to miss class in February to "get ahead" the previous summer.

     Another advantage is the school year itself.  With its long summer vacations, the system was designed when America had principally a farm-based economy.  With week or two long modules, there is no need for an entire class to wait until the fall for school to start, with children ranging 365 days in age for 1st grade.  Children can start school in any month, and could take their "summer vacation" in any month.  This will help parents who can't get any time off in the summer (but it would tend to hurt summer camps.)

     Another advantage is really neat, and it has to do with school textbooks.  Textbooks are a very difficult industry to break into.  You have to write a book for a class that will last a year (large) and which follows the statewide standards of the big states (California and Texas, I think is how that works) in order to get wide-ranging sales.  If the classes only last a week, it will be much easier to produce "workbooks" for them.  They probably don't even need to be hardbound!  However, this is also a disadvantage, since such textbooks do not currently exist at all.

     I shall repeat myself: Week long modules make skipping ahead and falling behand allow students to follow their own tracks without much of the cost in the current system.  Spending all day in one class concentrates the student in a way that 55 minute classes prevent.  Textbooks no longer need to be lugged around the same way.  Textbook development can be more flexible.  The school year no longer has to dictate vacation choices of parents.
The Truth About Acorn!

     Even if they fake-registered 100,000,000 people, that wouldn't have any impact on the polls. 

     In fact, most "Likely Voter" models used by the pollsters don't even count new registrants.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hee Hee, Thanks Kristin

The Vet Who Did Not Vet, a Dr. Seuss-ish tale of McCain choosing Palin.

Let's Pretend You Aren't a Religious Rightwinger

     Ralph Reed is, based on my limited knowledge, the founder of the Astro-Turf wing of the Religious Right.  This involves sending incendiary mailings to right wingers "Do you want Americans to abort Jesus to pay for Health Care for Muslims?" combined with fund raising requests.

     Ralph Reed recently published a book called "Dark Horse."  The book, in case you were wondering, is about an evil black man becoming the President of the United States.  He wins because the Evangelicals leave the Republicans, splitting the "conservative" vote.

     He even writes how the Democratic nomination process went all the way to the Convention.

     Talking about the book on August 17th, 2008, Ralph Reed says he believes a major party Vice-Presidential candidate will be a woman.  It really sounds like he knows it is going to be Sarah Palin.

     By the way, "economic conservatives" are for less government intervention in the economy, but "social conservatives" are for more government intervention in your personal life.  One of the two, depending on your country of origin, should be called the "liberal" position.  In foreign countries, liberals are for free markets.  So, maybe they should be called "liberal on economics, conservative on social issues."  The reverse is true in America.

Follow the Leader: Opinion Polls and the Modern Presidents

A book by Paul Brace and Barbara Hinckley.  This was covered in a BookTV interview in 1992 (here). 

They pointed to a late-in-the-race 1992 issue in polls.  The pollsters moved from a Registered Voter to a Likely Voter model, and there was a bump for George Herbert Walker Bush, not because he was doing better, but because they changed the way they did the polls.  But the fraudulent fact that he was "polling better" became headline news in many major papers.
David Moore: Author of the Opinion Makers

Apparently, before the war in Iraq, Gallup ran an experiment.

Sure, we all know most people (70%?) supported the war.  But Gallup asked a follow up question.  They asked supporters of the war if they'd be upset if we didn't go to war, and they asked people against the war if they'd be upset if we did.  This question would be asked within a minute of asking the interviewee whether or not they supported the war.  I believe I am relaying the results of that survey correctly.  40% of Americans didn't seem to care if their preference was followed.

He also points to the leading way the corporate media (which owns most of the polls) asked about Abu Ghraib.  He says that up to four times the pollster would have to educate the respondent about the "abuses" at Abu Ghraib.  Since they used the word "abuse" four times, of course it wouldn't sound like it was actually torture.
Sarah Palin's College Board

Turns out this story was a hoax.  Sorry for the confusion.  To see the original post, if you want, view the source of this webpage and look at the commented HTML.
Corrections Department

Boris Johnson is already Mayor of London.  Gosh, that article I found in E+A+A's bathroom was OLD!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

HE Found it!

     Alan Greenspan said today, in testimony before Congres, "Yes, I found a flaw," when referring to his free market ideology.

     _HE_ found it.

     All of us were just sitting around, nothing going on, and like a light in the darkness, a flashbulb of an idea went off in Mr. Greenspan's brain.

     "Eureka! I've discovered a flaw, and if we don't act now, people might get thrown out of their homes which are foreclosed... in record numbers!"

     IN OTHER NEWS Barry Goldwater's granddaughter, the one who made a documentary about him, has endorsed Barack Obama.  She says
My grandfather (Paka) would never suggest denying a woman's right to choose. My grandmother co-founded Planned Parenthood in Arizona in the 1930's, a cause my grandfather supported. I'm not sure about how he would feel about marriage rights based on same-sex orientation. I think he would feel that love and respect for ones privacy is what matters most and not the intolerance and poor judgment displayed by McCain over the years.

The only person President or Congressman-then-Vice-President with a more conservative voting record than Barry Goldwater in the last 75 years has been Dick Cheney.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pastor Conrad for John Sidney McCain III

I pray to Hindu and Buddha to raise B. Hussein Osama to the Presidency, just like Pastor Conrad (takes 15-20 seconds to get going).

Brooke Shields New Commercial is Funny/Good

It gets good after a minute or two here. Note, this doesn't actually contain the commercial I saw which I thought was good, but contains the general jist.

Conservative Candidate for Mayor of London

He's a fop.  He's super-rich.  He's not any sort of intellectual heavyweight.  His hair, apparently, is the kind of blinding blonde-white that only little children have.  He is the Conservative Party's candidate for Mayor of London, running against Ken Livingstone, a big-time socialist running on the Labour Party ticket.  Boris Johnson endorses Obama

My Day

Know how bad my day was?  As an example, even though I'm in my fifth week at the company, only today did I get access to the ticketing system, so I can see tickets people assign to me.  Now I have to actually check that sort of thing.

Samuel Joe the Plumber

Plumber wants to buy the business he works for.  He thinks the business pulls in more than $250,000/year.  In actuality the business pulls in about 50-80 thousand in profit on $250,000 in sales.  It is a DAMN shame that this guy might actually buy a business.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So damn...


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blogging Mechanics

     Until yesterday I didn't have my system set up so I could use the TV and computer at the same time.  Fixing this, I hope it means increased blogging. 

     Yesterday an old woman asked for my hand, I gave it to her, and she took a step off the curb.  Kinda like 1% of helping her across the road, but it is all she was asking for.

     I never blogged about my life here.  I went to Israel, Egypt and Jordan for two months, never mentioned it.  I was on an archaeological dig.  I went to Perth, Western Australia, for three weeks, never mentioned it.  I went to talk to some nano-technologists but ended up mostly hanging out with some political radicals.  I started a new job a few weeks ago, and lost over 20 pounds between January and August of this year, but probably have gained back 5-10 since I started the new job.  I had a membership at NYC's swankiest gym, but I can't get there from here, and there is a different gym across the street, so I will be starting there as soon as my second paycheck comes in.

     Oh, and I hung out with an old college friend, now mother of two, and her husband, kids, and her friends, most of whom had kids (ages 2-6).  We spent the night sitting around a fire (in Weehawken, NJ) and I spent the night and the next day five parents, five kids and myself went to the Central Park Zoo.  It was killing a day, but I don't feel so bad.  I worked hard for the right to kill as many days as I want.