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Friday, September 30, 2005

the gunshine state, redux

Back in 1987, when Florida was about to pass its non-discretionary concealed carry law, Handgun Control, Inc. warned that blood would run in the streets as average citizens started to shoot it out in public. Naturally, that didn't happen. Indeed, the crime rate went down!

Any way, the group formerly known as Handgun Control, Inc., is at it again, thanks to a great new law that was passed earlier this year. According to this website, starting tomorrow, if jmc and his lovely family visits me and we get into a loud argument in public, I will be legally entitled to shoot him and his whole family! Indeed, the state apparently encourages me to do so!

Apparently the Brady Campaign plans to run this ad as a public service in those places that might send tourists to Florida. At first, I was a bit peeved at the ads, but now I'm thinking this might be a good idea. A lot of bad guys might not know about the law and by giving it free publicity, the gun grabbers might help reduce crime!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Good but depressing story in the New York Times today, "Nightmare for African Women: Birthing Injury and Little Help". The article discusses an unfortunately common birthing injury that has been virtually unknown in the U.S. for over a hundred years, but happens all too often in Africa:
What brings the girls to Dr. Waaldijk - and him to Nigeria - is the obstetric nightmare of fistulas, unknown in the West for nearly a century. Mostly teenagers who tried to deliver their first child at home, the girls failed at labor. Their babies were lodged in their narrow birth canals, and the resulting pressure cut off blood to vital tissues and ripped holes in their bowels or urethras, or both.
My only complaints about the article are that it implies that the problem is getting worse but it provides no trend data, it doesn't mention private groups, like Fistula Hospital, that are working to help and it doesn't even bother to link to its own columnist, Nicholas Kristof, who wrote some excellent columns on this very subject.

I donated $250 to Fistula Hospital last year and plan to do so again this year. It's a great charity, literally putting poor African women back on their feet, a true hand up instead of a hand out, and it's very well run by some great, dedicated people.

land of the rising sun

I know the question that has been on the minds of loyal LS readers for over a week now is, "why hasn't A. W. View posted anything lately?" It's because I'm off working and playing in Nippon for the week. I'll try to post soon, but regular posting may not resume until I get back on the 3rd.

those "evil" oil companies...advancing marine science

Animals in the deep oceans are now being filmed using robotic vehicles and cameras operated by oil companies. As they seek out new oil reserves on the deep-sea floor or carry out maintenance work, these companies are teaming up with scientists to capture shots of animals never seen before and discover new science.

This global collaboration is called the SERPENT Project - Scientific and Environmental Rov* Partnership using Existing iNdustrial Technology.

'The results have been incredible, far beyond our original expectations,' said Dr Hudson. 'We have seen new species, found animals in areas where they were believed not to be present, but most importantly we have been able to observe their behaviour in their natural habitats. There are over 400 oil rigs worldwide - all with the potential to help science explore the oceans. We are working with companies that represent over 200 of them.'
The entire article can be found here. I'm very excited about the future of ocean exploration. I firmly believe that advances in surveillance technology, robotics, communications and computing power will allow us to explore and monitor the entire ocean depths and the life forms within them in the not very distant future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

it's happening now (the sea change)

Karen Kwiatkowski has a piece at today about the sea change in public opinion regarding Bush and his Middle East adventures, at least among regular folks like us. I had the same feeling over one month ago and wrote about it here. At the end of the column, she points out that not everyone is turning against the war, of course.
A few weeks ago, I spoke at an event sponsored by the Libertarians at Virginia Tech. It wasn’t overly amusing to examine our ongoing Iraq policy, but the audience nodded and chuckled when I noted how successful the administration and congressional agenda had been in the Middle East so far. Washington has gained a dozen brand-new U.S. military bases in Southwest Asia, we got Iraq, the oil companies are reporting record-setting profits, and not a single neoconservative has been harmed.

The well-dressed and coiffed elite decision makers see Iraq as just one successful part of a larger international agenda – an agenda naturally paid for in taxes, inflation, home-grown fascism and the blood of less-than-elite Americans and desperate would-be citizens. Still thriving politically in Washington, these neo-Jacobin imperialists may not fully sense the sea change.

But just about everyone else does.

giant squid photos

Some photos are now available (including the one shown here) in this new National Geographic article about the giant squid images captured by the Japanese scientists.

speak of the devil! giant squid caught on camera!

Just a day after my post regarding the giant squid's strange sex life, we learn that some Japanese researches have indeed caught the giant squid on camera!
The pictures, taken a year ago but only due to be published later today, have come from Tsunemi Kubodera, of Tokoyo's National Science Museum, and Kyoichi Mori, of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association.

Writing in the latest edition of the British scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, the pair reveal how they used sperm whales as a guide.

Whale watchers on the Ogasawara Islands, in the North Pacific, had long noted the migratory patterns of sperm whales, in particular how they gathered near a canyoned continental shelf.

By attaching depth loggers to the whales, they found the creatures made enormous dives of up to 1000m, the depths where the giant squid were believed to lurk.

They then set up a special rig, comprising a camera, stroboscope light, timer, depth sensor, data logger and a depth-activated switch attached to two mesh bags filled with bait.

Suspended from floats, the rig was lowered into the water on a nylon line, with flash pictures taken every 30 seconds for the next four to five hours.

At 900m, an 8m squid lunged at the bait bag, succeeding only in getting itself impaled on the hook.

For the next four hours, the squid tried to get free as the camera snapped away, gaining not only unprecedented pictures but also precious information about how the squid is able to propel itself.
Read the whole article here, which goes on to say that a severed tentacle was brought to the surface, suckers still actively sticking to the boat deck and fingers which touched them! Question: when do we get to see the pictures!? I'll post them here as soon as I can find them.

Update: here's another article with some additional information.

Monday, September 26, 2005

would you believe...

One of my TV sitcom heroes is dead at 82 -that's right, Don Adams, aka Maxwell Smart secret agent 86. My brother and I can practically hold a full conversation by speaking only in Get Smart quotes, and that's scary. His death reminds me of a couple of lines from the show, which went something like this:

Villain with gun says to Smart, "I will let you choose the way you wish to die", and he replies, "How about...old age?".

Another bad guy in a different episode asks, while pointing a gun at him, "all right, where do you want it?" Smart replies, "Uh...Cincinnati"? If Adams had actually died in Cincinnati, I'd be rolling on the floor in laughter, but in a very respectful way, of course.

Adams was also a natural as the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo, but the news briefs about his death which I have read fail to even mention this show. The articles must have been written by some young punks who never even saw the show.

Goodbye, Don Adams, you brought many laughs to my life!

the bizarre sexual habits of the giant squid

Whoever first succeeds in filming these strange beasts will achieve instant and well-deserved fame. After reading this story from, I wonder if perhaps a porno director would feel most comfortable doing the job.
RESEARCH by marine scientists has shed startling new light on the secret sex life of the giant squid, one of the most mysterious monsters of the world's deepest oceans.

The breakthrough came after a recent spate of strandings on the Atlantic coast of Spain when five of the huge invertebrates - one of them 12 metres long - were washed ashore in a single week on beaches on the Bay of Biscay.

One of the two males washed ashore was found to have been accidentally inseminated - backing the findings of research in previous strandings.

And scientists now believe the males had either accidentally inseminated themselves during "violent" lovemaking sessions with females or been inseminated by other males after "bumping" into them in the dark depths of the ocean...

...The report goes on: "Although mating has never been observed in giant squid, it is thought that what happens is that the male injects his sperm packages into the female's arms. The process is likely to be a fairly violent affair as the female is probably not that keen on being injected. This is a problem for the amorous male as females are normally a third bigger than they are.

"But males get round their inferior size by being endowed with a particularly long penis, which means they can inject the female without having to get too close to her chomping beak. The male's sexual organ is actually a bit like a high-pressure fire hose and is normally nearly as long as his body - excluding legs and head.

"But having such a big penis does have one drawback: it seems that co-ordinating eight legs, two feeding tentacles and a huge penis, whilst fending off an irate female, is a bit too much to ask, and one of the two males stranded on the Spanish coast had accidentally injected himself with sperm packages in the legs and body. And this does not seem to have been an isolated incident since two of the eight males that had stranded in the north-east Atlantic before had also accidentally inseminated themselves...

Friday, September 23, 2005

red rock west

Finally got around to watching Red Rock West on DVD. I'd been meaning to see this movie for a year or so, as part of my quest to see all film noirs ever made. As "modern noir" from 1992, the film, which was shot in color, is quite good and quite noirish. It was directed by John Dahl ("Rounders"), and stars Nicholas Cage as a drifter who stumbles into a murder for hire plot in the seedy town of Red Rock. Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle and the late J.T. Walsh also star. There's a great theme song (A Thousand Miles From Nowhere) by Dwight Yoakam, who also has a cameo in the movie. The film contains some plot holes and some unlikely coincidences, but it is so good in all its other aspects that these are quickly forgotten as the story moves along. Red Rock West is not perfect, but it is a must see for fans of noir.

shroud of turin conference 2005 wrapup

There hasn't been a lot of information on the Shroud of Turin Conference 2005 recently held in Dallas, but finally we have a wrapup at Sounds like things got a little out of hand, with scientists not happy that they weren't allowed to ask questions from the floor (I would be unhappy about that too). Much discussion of the secret restoration of the Shroud in 2002 by Turin officials that may have rendered future chemical analyses much more difficult, and of the recent results by the late Raymond Rogers showing that the original 1988 carbon dating results were invalid.
Researchers now believe that in the 16th century, a corner of the Shroud had been expertly repaired using a mending technique known as “invisible reweaving.” It was from this repaired corner that the carbon 14 samples were taken. This resulted in a mixed sample of both new and old fibers leading to erroneous carbon 14 dating in 1988.

Turin wasn’t buying it even though they agreed that the carbon 14 dating was wrong. They had not seen the repairs when they examined the Shroud. Invisible reweaving, they argued, would have been noticeable. But scientists disagree. It takes microscopic, spectral and chemical analysis to identity invisible reweaving. And the scientists have photomicrographs and plenty of test results to prove it.

In 2002, Turin undertook a secret restoration of the Shroud. Archeologists, scientists and scholars of all sorts were horrified when they learned of it after the fact. It was reckless, they say. Meacham called it disastrous. It cannot be undone. Some scientists suggest that the restoration may have created problems that should be addressed to avoid potential future damage to the cloth.
There's a lot more in the article, but no specific papers from the conference. Hopefully those will be appearing later. I was quite disappointed that there was no official conference website with agendas, speakers and abstracts. Hopefully future conferences will be better organized.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

sexually transmitted disease vaccines, kids, and condescending professors

The Tribune has a story today about new vaccines to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The manufacturers want to inject them into your 11 year old.
A wave of experimental vaccines against sexually transmitted diseases could revolutionize the prevention of such infections during the next few years, but there's a catch: The shots likely will work best when given to children as young as 11.

The first such vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus--the leading cause of cervical cancer--could be submitted for approval to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by year's end. Another vaccine against genital herpes is in advanced clinical trials, and shots for gonorrhea and chlamydia are in the works.

Already the injections have drawn moral opposition from some conservative groups, who fear such immunizations could give young teens a green light to have sex.

Medical experts who are helping develop the vaccines conceded that some parents might find the idea of shielding their young children from future STDs hard to accept. But they said the overriding goal is to save lives by boosting children's immune systems before they are exposed to the viruses that cause such diseases.

"For most parents, the moral decision is to protect their children," said Dr. Gregory Zimet, a professor of pediatrics and clinical psychology at Indiana University School of Medicine who has studied parents' views on the immunizations.
Notice the condescending attitude of Dr. Zimet. If you don't give this vaccine to your 11 year old kid, you don't love her! You big bad parent! Well, Dr. Zimet, I'll protect my kids by raising them with good values and morals, and educating them about greedy vaccine manufacturers that lobby the government at all levels to create "markets" for their products, starting with each human being on the day of birth. (For those who haven't had a kid lately, I'm referring to the fact that they will try to give your child the hepatitis B vaccine before you even take him home from the hospital, to allegedly prevent a disease which is almost exclusively transmitted via dirty needle sharing and sexual contact).

Friday, September 16, 2005

no sea bass for you!

Last night I took my wife to Scylla, a cozy little seafood restaurant in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. We'd been there once before, and although quite pricey, it is very tasty, and it's good to occasionally clean out your wallet for some fine dining. Anyway, I was planning to order the sea bass for my main course, but before I said anything the waiter informed us that there was one change to the menu - the sea bass was off, but you could order the halibut prepared the exact same way; part of the "transition to the fall menu". That sounded fine; I ordered it, and it was good, although not as good as the scallops my wife ordered.

Near the end of our meal, another couple sat down at the next table. The woman mentioned to us that she was leaning toward the sea bass, so I casually informed her of the recent fish substitution. When the waiter came she said to him, "Well, I've heard the sea bass is now halibut, so I guess I'll have that", and the waiter quickly replied "No no, the sea bass is back on the menu!" I looked at the waiter in disbelief, asking him if somehow I was not worthy of the sea bass, or if a late evening shipment of sea bass had just come in, and he just laughed and said he wasn't sure what was going on, just part of the transitioning process to the fall menu.

By the by, if you go to Scylla, I'd stay away from the prosciutto wrapped shrimp first course, which were a bit overcooked, and go instead with the salmon tar tar, which was excellent and almost enough for two.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

disasters and limited resources

In his column today, Thomas Sowell notes:
The country does not have one dime more resources available when those resources are channeled through government. The resources are just handled less effectively by government and dispensed in an indiscriminate way that encourages people to continue locating in the known path of predictable disasters.
Too many people think that the State has a magic bucket of money, unconstrained by the resources of society, that it can compassionately pour out in times of need. The reality is as Sowell says, that our resources are finite and filtering them through a Federal bureaucracy makes us worse off, not better.

Read the aptly titled "FEMA versus Wal-Mart" for more gems.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

tony blankley: neocon idiot

Eugene Volokh does a great smackdown of an article by former Newt Gingrich press secretary, Tony Blankley. Blankley urges everyone to grovel at the feet of the State when unpopular races are rounded up for internment:
During World War II, the country was faced with the prospect of large numbers of people -- again identifiable by ethnicity, not conduct -- who were real or potential enemies.

The logic of the Supreme Court's opinion is applicable to the situation we face today. The court held that people ethnically connected to the war-makers are more likely to support them than are others -- and our country at war has a right to protect itself from this presumed higher risk of danger.
Ugh. Whatever ethnic group Blankley belongs to, I vote to round them up and deport them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

manslaughter on a bike, part 2

Joshua Taj Bozeman at The Blue Site thinks the man who committed manslaughter on his bicycle when he blew through a stop sign and killed a 71-year-old woman (see my earlier post) got a bum rap:
CLEARLY, police and attorneys in this city are INSANE. You CANNOT equate a bike with a car! This sort of thing is scary, because it could happen to any of us, and that’s when we’re screwed plain and simple. If this arrest stands, we’re screwed in general, because it’s that slipper slope. To say that any vehicle is the same is totally nuts, and the police captain should be tossed out on his boot for even trying to claim they’re equal. What’s next? A kid on a tricyle knocks down a woman…is that manslaughter as well? How about a pogo stick? How about a wheelchair? What if a wheelchair-bound citizen hits someone on accident, is THAT manslaughter? Is a walker a vehicle? A atroller? See the problem when we start making absurd statements about how two things that are completely different are somehow anywhere near close to being the same? Are rollerskaters a vehicle?
I feel quite sorry for Mr. Bozeman; here he is, a grown man, and he has no clue that bicyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road, just like cars. I will try to answer some of his questions, since he is clearly confused:

No, someone in a wheelchair is technically a pedestrian, and he presumably won't be whizzing through an intersection in the middle of the street.

"Is a walker a vehicle? A atroller?". Again, pedestrians, as are the tricycle, walker and pogo stick. Pedestrians, of course, have to follow rules as well, such as not jaywalking, not crossing against the light, etc. But when crossing a street where the cross traffic has stop signs, the pedestrian always has the right of way.

True, a car and a bicycle are not the same thing; but they are both vehicles, and both must follow the rules for vehicles in all states, though there are slight differences in the rules for bikes and cars. The requirement to stop at stop signs is NOT one of those differences.

Yes, you are "screwed" if you are one of those arrogant people who thinks the rules don't apply to you, but not as screwed as the innocent bystanders who get mowed down because of that arrogance.
Not only that, but who on earth knew it was illegal (is it?!) to go thru a stop sign on a bicycle? I wouldn’t think that was illegal, and I see people go thru stop signs all the time (as well as red lights) on bikes, because that’s the nature of the “vehicle.”
Well, let's see, I knew it was illegal when I was in grade school, and I'm sure millions of other people did to. Yes, I see many cyclists blow through stop signs too; guess what? That doesn't make it legal.

why i hate the american lung association

Today I get this glossy multipage advertisement in the mail. The front page shows a man sitting at a restaurant table reading a paper, cigarette in hand, and gray smoke billowing out of his mouth and nose. Caption: "His right to smoke?" You open up the ad to see a mother sitting at the next table with her young daughter. Caption: "Or our right to breathe clean air? Which should we protect?"

The purpose of the ad, which is sponsored in part by the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, is to get me to call my alderman and demand he support the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. Well, the ad was partially successful: I WILL call my alderman...but to politely ask him NOT to support said ordinance.

The whole indoor clean air thing is really so simple if we respect property rights. Those who want to avoid smoke can sit in the non-smoking section. If that isn't good enough, they can patronize those establishments that do not allow smoking. The same goes for employees. While I certainly don't want the mother and young daughter in the ad to be forced to breathe second hand smoke, the fact is they are NOT being forced to; it really is up to the mother to go to one of the many restaurants in this great city that don't allow smoking (or open her own restaurant should she so choose). Demanding that somebody else, who took all the initiative and risk to open and manage an eating or drinking establishment, must use his property in a way that suits your smoking preferences is NOT your right.

Although the above mentioned charities may do some good, for example by supporting scientific research, I cannot support them when they spend so much money trampling all over property rights. Incidentally, I don't smoke.

bush does something right

CNN reports that "Bush lifts wage rules for Katrina":
In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Yay! For whatever reason, Bush has temporarily suspended one of the few Jim Crow laws that are still on the books. Naturally, leftists are going ape-shit crazy:
So workers come back to their ravaged neighborhoods to try and start over. They get whatever job they can to feed their family, perhaps a construction job with a federal contractor. But technically, because of Bush's executive order, the contractor can pay the worker $5/hr or even 5cents an hour. The less they pay the workers, the larger their profits. So how low will they go?
Bwahahahaha! What no one on the left will tell you is that Davis-Bacon was enacted by a wildly racist, Democrat Party-controlled Congress, back in 1931 specifically for the purpose of keeping blacks unemployed and keeping the money rolling into corrupt union coffers. Don't believe me? David Bernstein lays it out for you:
The measure passed because Congressmen saw the bill as protection for local, unionized[12] white workers' salaries in the fierce labor market of the Depression.[13] In particular, white union workers were angry that black workers who were barred from unions were migrating to the North in search of jobs in the building trades and undercutting "white" wages.[14]

The comments of various congressmen reveal the racial animus that motivated the sponsors and supporters of the bill. In 1930, Representative John J. Cochran of Missouri stated that he had "received numerous complaints in recent months about southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South."[15] Representative Clayton Allgood, supporting Davis-Bacon on the floor of the House, complained of "cheap colored labor" that "is in competition with white labor throughout the country."[16]
Most on the left are too dumb to know the racist origins of the Davis-Bacon Act, but the bottom line is that elite Democrats are happy to sacrifice employment opportunities for minorities so long as the money continues to roll in for their buddies in the Unions.

Monday, September 12, 2005

ken wayne: leviathan worshipper

Via The Agitator, check out this disturbing video of an elderly woman being forcibly removed from her home in NOLA by imported thugs from California. What's even worse is the lickspittle attitude of the "reporter" who blandly states that the police have the option of using deadly force whenever they're threatened by frail, elderly women who don't want to leave their houses. Sucking on leviathan's weiner must be a sweet experience for Mr. Wayne! Let's send him to Iraq where he can explain the option of bombing innocent people.

happy birthday, h. l. mencken!

Thomas DiLorenzo notes the birthday of the late, great H. L. Mencken. DiLorenzo pulls some great quotes:
Politicians "are seldom if ever moved by anything rationally describable as public spirit; there is actually no more public spirit among them than among so many burglars or street walkers. Their purpose, first, last and all the time, is to promote their private advantage, and to that end, and that end alone, they exercise all the vast powers that are in their hands."
I have to disagree with Mencken there. At least the street walker is an honest businessperson, giving value for money.

Here's another great quote revealing that farmers were welfare queens even back in Mencken's day:
"Let the farmer, so far as I am concerned, be damned forevermore! To hell with him, and bad luck to him! He is,unless I err, no hero at all, and no priest, and no altruist, but simply a tedious fraud and ignoramus, a cheap rogue and hypocrite, the eternal Jack of the human pack. He deserves all that he suffers under our economic system, and more. Any city man, not insane, who sheds tears for him is shedding the tears of the crocodile."

"No more grasping, selfish and dishonest mammal, indeed, is known to students of the Anthropoidea. When the going is good for him he robs the rest of us up to the extreme limits of our endurance; when the going is bad he comes bawling for help out of the public till. Has anyone ever heard of a farmer makng any sacrifice of his own interests, however slight, to the common good? Has anyone ever heard of a farmer practicing or advocating any political idea tht was not absolutely self-seeking -- that was not, in fact, delibertely designed to loot the rest of us to his gain? Greenbackism, free silver, government guarantee of prices, all the complex fiscal imbecilities of the cow state John Baptists -- these are the contributions of the virtuous husbandman to American political theory . . . . Yet we are asked to venerate this prehensile moron as . . . the foundation stone of the state!"

manslaughter on a bike

What a tragedy, and it was all so avoidable. From this AP article.
A bicyclist was charged with manslaughter after he ran through a stop sign and struck and killed a 71-year-old woman, police said Monday.

Jean Calder died at Good Samaritan Hospital after she was struck Friday night as she crossed a street at an unmarked crosswalk, Corvallis police Capt. Ron Noble said.

Christopher A. Lightning, 51, was charged with manslaughter and reckless driving.

"A car and a bicycle are both vehicles and if they are operated in a way that could be criminal, then charges are filed equally in both situations," Noble said. "He was going right through a stop sign."
Well said, Capt. Noble. One of the few things which really irritates me is seeing some thoughtless jerk on a bicycle run through a stop sign, just expecting all the cars and pedestrians to yield to him. It happens all the time here in Chicago. I hope this Oregon man serves enough jail time so that he can adequately think about what he has done, and I hope other cyclists observe the consequences of arrogantly pretending that stop signs don't apply to them.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Remember this post, wherein I note that my model and year of car is the third most stolen car this year? Well, when I got up this morning, guess whose car was missing from the driveway? Yup, mine!!! Death to thieves!!! The police said that there's a good chance my car will be recovered, but only after it's been stripped of its goodies. At this point, I just hope that if it's stripped to the bone, the insurance company will just re-imburse me for the whole car, rather than try to fix it.

The girlfriend marveled at my stoic attitude but the bottom line is I will be OK, nothing irreplaceable was lost and I'll be able to get on with my life with only a minimal amount of disruption and, honestly, how can I moan and groan when there are people all over the world and in the U.S. who are really suffering? I was concerned about the fact that a set of house keys were in the car so I had the girlfriend drive me home ASAP and I got the locks changed.

As Marcus Aurelius once said, "it's in the past, baby, so deal with it, just deal with it."

Friday, September 09, 2005

shroud of turin conference in progress

The International Shroud of Turin Conference, being held in Dallas this year, started yesterday and will continue through Sunday. There is scant information being reported about it, but here is one article that came out today and one from yesterday.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

soderbergh takes on che

Maybe we'll finally have a film that portrays Ernesto "Che" Guevara to be the monster that he was, rather than glorifies him. If so, will all those little punks in America stop wearing those stupid t-shirts?
VENICE, ITALY - Director Steven Soderbergh will use recently declassified CIA files to make a $20 million film that's likely to puncture the romantic myth of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who gained cult status for his role in the 1959 Cuban revolution.
Neither Mr. Guevara's interest in torture and firing squads, documented by the poet Armando Valladares, nor his remark after the Cuban Missile Crisis -- that he would have fired nuclear weapons at the United States -- were covered in the recent art-house hit "The Motorcycle Diaries." The revolutionary activist also called for "a dozen Vietnams."
Reported in this Washington Times story.

just get rid of the police

The enormous devastation and loss of life in New Orleans depresses me to the point where I can't bear to watch the news any more. I've donated what little I can, but what purpose can be served by depressing myself to no end?

The other emotion I'm feeling a lot lately is anger. Anger at the stunning combination of incompetence and fascism that is the response of the State at all levels. Fascism example one is from the Volokh Conspiracy:
Water was receding across this flood-beaten city today as local police officers prepared for a mass forced evacuation of the several thousand residents still living here. Authorities also began confiscating firearms from civilians.
. . .
The city's Police Department and federal law enforcement officers from agencies like the United States Marshals Service will lead the evacuation, Mr. Compass said. Officers will search the city house by house, in both dry and flooded neighborhoods. No one will be allowed to stay, he said.

Meanwhile, the city is confiscating firearms from civilians, including legally registered weapons, Mr. Compass said. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
Why are they forcing everyone to leave? Because that's the only thing they are competent at, using force. More fascism on display over at
Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.
I'm outraged out. Someday someone will write a James Bovard-like book on all the depredations that the State engaged in in the aftermath of Katrina. It will be sickening to read if the latest news accounts are any indication.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

oh, that charleston!

FEMA apparently flew hundreds of evacuees to Charleston, West Virginia...the problem was, they were supposed to go to Charleston, South Carolina. See this CNN report.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

the real lesson of katrina

Ivan Eland asks the right question, "Will the Government’s Abysmal Response to Katrina Recur During a Terrorist Attack?"
If state and local governments expect that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), residing in the nation’s distant capital, will step in after any disaster, they have incentives to invest less in planning for disasters and developing the capabilities to execute post-disaster operations. Unfortunately, any impairment of such state and local efforts can be tragic because the people who live in the local area, or near it, know best the needs and capabilities there in any emergency. For example, New Orleans, below sea level (which required levees and pumps) and near a large lake, was uniquely vulnerable to a hurricane, and the experts and the public there knew it. Yet state and local planning was clearly impeded by an excessive reliance on the federal man on a white horse galloping to the rescue. For example, Louisiana planners were waiting for federal funds to repair the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain, which eventually broke and flooded the city.
The response to every failure seems to be the same, reward the screw-ups with even more money and power over our lives. Will they perform any better when it's a terrorist attack instead of a hurricane? Or will FEMA block the Red Cross from helping victims the next time, too?

Monday, September 05, 2005

seven children found wandering together

Here's another amazing story of survival with a happy ending: Seven children, the oldest 6 years and the youngest 5 months, found wandering together in New Orleans, were evacuated to Baton Rouge. Days later, they were reunited with their parents in Texas. Spotted via Drudge.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- In the chaos that was Causeway Boulevard, this group of refugees stood out: a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader.

They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2 years old, and one was wearing only diapers. A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love.
Read the rest.

the face of new orleans

This picture was taken by Sigmund Solares, a member of a tough crew of Directnic employees who have stuck it out in NOLA since the disaster first struck. The have had ongoing commentary on their blog and a live web cam of the street outside their office going all this time.

the aristocrats

I went to see "The Aristocrats" last night with the girlfriend. I wasn't sure it was a good idea to take her, given that it's a documentary about an incredibly obscene joke, but she seemed to laugh as much as I did and was still willing to talk to me afterwards.

I was impressed at how many different ways the same joke could be told and still be funny. As one of the subjects notes, it's the singer, not the song that makes the difference and an impressive array of "singers" has been assembled for the documentary. Scores of comedians, including Robin Williams, jugglers and a mime (!) all contribute their versions.

One disappointment with the film is that one of the more famous tellings of the joke by Gilbert Gottfried, which occurred only a few weeks after the September 11th attacks, is not fully shown and the bits of it that are shown are interspersed with analysis of the event. I had heard so much already about Gottfried's telling of the joke at the Friar's Club Roast of Hugh Hefner that I really wanted to see it uncut. I hope they will include on the inevitable DVD.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

a true survivor

With all the destruction, mayhem, rape, arson and murder happening in NOLA, it's a breath of fresh air to read about this 105 year old survivor:
Nita LaGarde, 105, was pushed down the street in her wheelchair as her nurse's 5-year-old granddaughter, Tanisha Blevin, held her hand. The pair spent two days in an attic, two days on an interstate island and the last four days on the pavement in front of the convention center.

"They're good to see," LaGarde said, with remarkable gusto as she waited to be loaded onto a gray Marine helicopter. She said they were sent by God. "Whatever He has for you, He'll take care of you. He'll sure take care of you."

LaGarde's nurse, Ernestine Dangerfield, 60, said LaGarde had not had a clean adult diaper in more than two days. "I just want to get somewhere where I can get her nice and clean," she said.

From this AP article, which covers a number of stories about those who survived and those who succumbed.

origin of the species neo-con

I just read this piece by Roger Morris from two days ago, and I'm glad I did. It traces back the rise of the necons, not just to Kristol, Podheretz and Strauss as we've heard before but also to Washington Senator Henry Martin "Scoop" Jackson.
But it was in national security that Jackson's impact was deepest. The hawks' hawk, he was to the right of many in both parties. Not even the massive retaliation strategy and roving CIA interventions of the Eisenhower '50s were tough enough for him. Perched on the mighty Armed Services Committee as well as his other bases of power, he went on over the next decade to goad the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, urging the Vietnam War, fatter military budgets, stronger support of Israel in the Middle East and a more aggressive foreign policy in general.

It was then, 40 years ago, that Jackson began to be linked directly, if furtively, to some of the uglier and little-known origins of the war on Iraq. Overseeing the CIA's "black budget" for covert operations and interventions from a subcommittee of Armed Services, he was one of a handful of senators who gave a nod to two U.S.-backed coups in Iraq, one in 1963 and again in 1968. Those plots brought Saddam Hussein to power amid bloodbaths in which the CIA, exacting the price for its support, handed Saddam and his Baath Party cohorts lists of supposed anti-U.S. Iraqis to be killed.
Morris also discusses how Richard Perle rode Jackson's coattails to fame, acting as his chief assistant from 1969 to 1980.

Friday, September 02, 2005

katrina, iraq and the know-it-all syndrome

Justin Raimondo on the know-it-all neocons, including Jonah Goldberg, who publicy criticized and made fun of the poor souls suffering in the Superdome with a stupid joke (if you click the link, scroll down to "ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS").
The Goldbergian style, an unpleasant product of the neoconservative takeover of the American Right, is derived from the self-important delusions and arrogance of inside-the-Beltway chatterers, for whom Goldberg is the poster boy. This same indifference to the perils of long-distance pontification permeates the views of Goldberg and his neocon confreres at National Review on a wide variety of subjects, including especially the war in Iraq, which they fulsomely supported and continue to support. In that instance, too, their prognostications of a cakewalk were wide off the mark – another case of the Know-it-all Syndrome in action.
The column also ties together warnings from 2001 of impending disaster in NOLA due to the erosion of the Mississippi River delta and the lack of anything done about it to the massive public expenditures for the Iraq war. Read the whole column.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

sowell on housing

Housing issues are one of Thomas Sowell's favorite topics from what I can tell and this week he's running a multi-part column on the subject called, "Time and money and housing". Part I ran the on August 30th and today is part II. Sowell cogently points out:
What developers want means absolutely nothing economically unless other people are prepared to pay for what they offer. In other words, developers are just intermediaries who represent the demand for housing by vastly larger numbers of other people.
Contrast that with how leftists see things, that developers act without constraint and consumers are mindless followers of whatever is offered. Leftists insist that the government step in and counteract "powerful" actors like developers in order to protect a beleaguered community, but the reality is that new home buyers pay the price to protect the entrenched interests of current homeowners and the price is very high indeed.