Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dollar headed downward?

The London Times is reporting that...

THE dollar has embarked on a big decline that will see it fall against all leading currencies, according to analysts.

The plunge is being prompted by America’s $800 billion (£438 billion) current-account deficit, they say.

The dollar has been under pressure following last weekend’s meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bankers, which emphasised “global imbalances” and said currencies should reflect economic fundamentals. Then China raised its key interest rate to 5.85%, its first hike for months, and Ben Bernanke, the new Federal Reserve chairman, hinted that American rates would pause at 5% after a rise in May.

Analysts say that without interest-rate support, the dollar will be weighed down heavily by America’s imbalances.

“I think this is it,” said Tony Norfield, global head of currency strategy at ABN Amro. “The dollar has been supported by high yields but markets are saying that is no longer enough. The question for policymakers is going to be how to manage the dollar’s decline. It won’t be a one-way street but the fall is likely to be biggest against Asian currencies.”

The euro has already risen to an 11-month high of more than $1.26, while the dollar is at a three-month low of 113.70 against the yen. The Canadian dollar, known by traders as the “loonie”, rose to a 28-year high on Friday, boosted by a hike in Canadian interest rates.

Sterling climbed back above $1.80, closing above $1.82 in New York on Friday.

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee is set to leave rates unchanged at 4.5%, despite a call from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research for a pre-emptive rise.

The “shadow” MPC, which meets under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, has voted 7-2 to leave rates unchanged.

Then again, there's a similar hint from the NY Times:

Those who follow a buy-and-hold strategy but want to buffer their holdings against currency shifts may be interested in a small but growing category of investments: foreign currency mutual funds.

Until last year, there was only one: the Franklin Templeton Hard Currency fund, which has been around since 1989. But in the wake of the dollar's big decline in 2004, a few more foreign currency funds began trading last year, and mutual fund analysts predict that more are likely to follow.

Franklin Templeton Hard Currency is the largest in the field, with $214 million in assets. It essentially bets against the dollar, with holdings in short-term foreign-denominated fixed-income securities from a variety of countries. It is generally designed to rise sharply when the dollar takes a big fall — but it is likely to decline in periods when the dollar is surging. At other times, it should return money market rates. So far this year, it has gained about 6.4 percent.

A fund with a similar strategy, the Merk Hard Currency fund, began trading last May and has garnered about $11 million in assets. It has returned 6.6 percent this year.

While these returns are substantial for just four months, some mutual fund analysts say that the main reason to invest in the funds would be for diversification in portfolios that don't already have a big stake in foreign stock or bond funds. "Someone with most of their investments in domestic assets has a lot of their risk concentrated in the dollar," said Jeet Dutta, a fund analyst at Morningstar, who likened investing in foreign currency funds to buying insurance against a big decline in the dollar.

Of course gold's been on a tear, as has FXE, the Euro "money market-like" ETF.

Chinese Vatican Irony...

I am struck by the strangeness of the ongoing Vatican-China thing...

First, just last week, China and the Vatican were becoming all friendly...

But now...

HONG KONG, April 30 — Despite objections from the Vatican, the state-controlled Catholic church in China installed as a bishop today a senior official who has been involved in the government's political control of the church...

The official, Father Ma Yinglin, was consecrated as bishop of Kunming in southwestern China despite a strong warning on Saturday from Joseph Cardinal Zen Zi-kiun of Hong Kong. Cardinal Zen said in a statement then that, "to conduct the ordination without the Holy See's approval is to sabotage intentionally Sino-Vatican relations."...

Liu Bainian, the secretary general of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said in a telephone interview this evening that the consecration of Bishop Ma could improve relations with the Vatican, because the diocese of Kunming had been vacant for 11 years.

"Without a bishop, there is no church," Mr. Liu said.

Mr. Liu also asserted that it was inappropriate for Cardinal Zen, as the bishop of Hong Kong, to make statements regarding activities in another diocese.

"Father Ma was chosen by 100 percent of the votes by local fathers, church representatives and members," Mr. Liu said. "The government did not participate in the whole election process."

Communist countries often describe winners of rigged elections as having received all or nearly all of the votes.

Is a rigged election better or worse than no election at all, which is standard operating procedure in the rest of the Catholic Church (and no, it makes not much sense to count pope elections when there's no other elections)?

And of course there's no mention of that in the Times article.

Good background on a stealth religious right organization.

And yes, it is a stealth political effort- check out pages 9 & 10 of this.

This group was referenced recently, I believe, by one of the fundamentalist churches in my area.

経行 (きんひん) - kinhin

Normally, I do it at the temple to which I go. Today, with osho gone to Japan, I did it locally. And nearby my house is a school and a park, which has very useful paths for the mindful walking of 経行.

Interesting thing about Vancouver WA, is that all the public schools, and I mean all of them, become fundamentalist churches on Sunday (e.g., "River Rock Church"). And they're the ones that basically don't advertise they're fundamentalist, but they do advertise. I have had problems especially with the aforementioned group; when they first moved in my house was littered with their fliers regularly. I eventually told them that if my house were burgled and their fliers were on it, I'd sue them- fliers on a house left for days are a neon sign saying you're not home, and at that time I was traveling regularly, and my family was as well.

Now I have no problem with these guys doing this, actually, although I cannot understand why every public school is used for this purpose; I'd think that with the large numbers of unchurched people in the area, that their market would have saturated long ago. Furthermore, I would think it a good idea to let at least some of the public schools alone. I mean, literally next door to the afore referenced "River Rock Church" is "Family Bible Church." And that's not more than 10 minutes away from another "Bible Church," not to mention other public schools with fundamentalist churches that are 5 minutes or less away.

At any rate, it is quite a challenge to do 経行 as people are arriving to the local "church at school," but rather rewarding, in that it is not an easy practice. It is a microcosm of how to relate to the people who share my community. Am I being in their face because they try to be in my face? Should I not practice in my neighborhood? Why not? If I do not practice in my neighborhood- and practice is ultimately everything we do- then what kind of practice is that.

So the practice, yet again, is another way of doing 無 (Mu), and in fact provides a good answer to the proslytizers. Not a snarky 無, but rather an expression of one's Nature as response, which is also a good way to approach the "culture wars" in general.

Quite rewarding.

Steve Colbert in Washington...

Some folks got it some didn't. Not all jokes were on target, but it was well worth watching. See it at Crooks and Liars.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

They hate us for our freedom- English only version

I've long considered the "English only" advocates to be so obviously opposed to civil liberties, and therefore unworthy of consideration that it amazes me that it wasn't pointed out, and therefore is an indication that our media is less than liberal.

So it doesn't surprise me that George W. Bush gives them a wink and a nod.

Look, we have laws in this country that say "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech." Like it or not, that is why you'll never have "an" official language of the United States. Like it or not, you can require immmigrants to stand on their heads and spit wooden nickels for all the good it will do you, but you can never force naturalized citizens to use and remember every scrap of English they learned.

As any serious student of languages knows there are things you can say in languages that you just can't say in English. To restrict the use of English in America means restricting what is said and how it is said.

If I want to talk about you to somebody else in your prescence, it's my right to use Japanese if you haven't learned it. (This comes in very handy.) And I don't know Spanish, and therefore I accept somebody's right to do this to me, in Spanish. It may be perceived as rude, it might get you fired in certain work situations, but it clearly is a violation of civil liberties for the state to create sanctions against the use of foreign languages.


Friday, April 28, 2006

This is so not good in so many ways...

Musharraf insists: I'm not George Bush's poodle

Not that you didn't expect that. After all, there's this Osama bin Laden guy who we understand is connected to 9/11, who's been on the lam for a while.

General Pervez Musharraf, facing a surge of anti-American sentiment, yesterday warned that covert US air strikes against al-Qaida inside Pakistan were an infringement of national sovereignty.

Admitting that his popularity was waning, the Pakistani president insisted he was "not a poodle" of George Bush and rejected accusations he was running a military dictatorship.

Speaking to the Guardian at Army House in Rawalpindi weeks after a tense visit by the US president that brought a torrent of domestic criticism, Gen Musharraf insisted he was his own man.

"When you are talking about fighting terrorism or extremism, I'm not doing that for the US or Britain. I'm doing it for Pakistan," he said. "It's not a question of being a poodle. I'm nobody's poodle. I have enough strength of my own to lead."

If necessary he had "teeth" to bite back, he added. "Yes sir, I personally do. A lot of teeth. Sometimes the teeth do not have to be shown. Pragmatism is required in international relations."

First of all, there's the poodle metaphor. Can autocratic leaders of nuclear powers be poodles? Tony Blair kind of fits the bill. But then again there's nothing like "I'm nobody's poodle" to convey that you're a poodle.

If he were serious about democracy, you have that Iraq conundrum, but perhaps worse: these folks know they've been used by the US as an "ally" for decades.

If he's not serious about real democracy, you have a nuclear-armed pre-Khomeini Iran-like situation brewing.

It was a stupid, stupid presumption to think that real government of the people would not inevitably come into conflict with ceremonial democracies such as ours.

Ultimately what governments need to be to survive is to be real governments of the people, and that's why we're on a collision course politically with the rest of the world, tyrannies aside.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fun with DTIC

I remember, back in a former life working for the defense industry, that the Defense Technical Information Center would periodically send out Xeroxed reports of all the juicy research they were funding. I was always stunned by the number of studies involving fruit flies, even though of course I was theoretically more concerned with research in signal processing. Now you can see it on-line, and it has a search feature.

And it returns entries when fed with dirty words, too. The old circulated paper copies never had discharge reports, for example.

Right-wing female pundits who came of age Clinton-bashing gossip...

Fair, and unintentionally-to-both ruining any shred of cred either had: Ann Coulter and William Dembski.

Unfair but enlightening:Michelle Malkin's true love.

And speaking of Dembski, it seems he feels threatened by chimpanzees...or maybe bonobos...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pray for lower gas prices! That's the ticket!


WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. Christian group has grown tired of escalating gasoline prices and is set to stage a national prayer rally to lower the numbers at the pumps.

Various Christian clergy from around the country will convene around a Washington, D.C., gas station Thursday at noon to pray. For those who can't attend, a live Internet site and toll-free prayer line have been established.

In a release, the Pray Live group said many people are "overlooking the power of prayer when it comes to resolving this energy crisis."

Apart from sending a message to God, the rally had a message for humanity, said Wenda Royster, the group's founder.

"It is our hope that seeing and hearing some of the nation's most powerful preachers gathered around a gas station and the United States capital as a backdrop, will remind everyone who is really in charge of our world -- God," Royster said.

The Web site is at
You can't make this stuff up.

If you had any doubts Free Republic was an astroturfed phony grass-roots site

read this.

Wonder if there's a Google cache.

The Death of the American Dream


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America," a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

By contrast, a child born rich had a 22 percent chance of being rich as an adult, he said.

"In other words, the chances of getting rich are about 20 times higher if you are born rich than if you are born in a low-income family," he told an audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank sponsoring the work.

He also found the United States had one of the lowest levels of inter-generational mobility in the wealthy world, on a par with Britain but way behind most of Europe.

"Consider a rich and poor family in the United States and a similar pair of families in Denmark, and ask how much of the difference in the parents' incomes would be transmitted, on average, to their grandchildren," Hertz said.

"In the United States this would be 22 percent; in Denmark it would be two percent," he said.

The research was based on a panel of over 4,000 children, whose parents' income were observed in 1968, and whose income as adults was reviewed again in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.

The survey did not include immigrants, who were not captured in the original data pool. Millions of immigrants work in the U.S, many illegally, earnings much higher salaries than they could get back home.

And it's getting worse.

It appears that the effort to permanently get rid of the estate tax is being funded by 18 of the wealthiest families in America in an effort to save themselves $71.6 billion. These families include the founders of Wal-Mart, Gallo wineries, Nordstrom's, Campbell Soup Co., Mars candy company, and Cox media chain.

He's a regular Edward R. Murrow...

Hugh Hewitt makes a funny:

I think Tony Snow took the job because he's a patriot asked by the president to serve in a time of war. (See Mark Daniels' comment on this as well.) I can't think of anyone saying no to the president when thousands of American troops are in harm's way and the task is a big one. That's a little old-fashioned, I suppose, but Tony Snow brings some very old fashioned virtues to his new job.

Yeah, yeah all this crap that Media Matters mentions never happened

Scary precedent or not?


SACRAMENTO, April 25 — A federal jury on Tuesday convicted a 23-year-old Pakistani-American on terrorism charges hours after a mistrial was declared in the case of his father, who had been charged with lying to investigators to conceal his son's activities.

The younger defendant, Hamid Hayat, showed no emotion as Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. of Federal District Court read the jury's verdict after nine days of deliberation. Mr. Hayat was arrested in June 2005 and charged with providing material support of terrorism and lying about it after investigators said he attended a camp run by terrorists in Pakistan sometime between October 2003 and November 2004.

The case arose from an investigation of the small Muslim community in the nearby farming town of Lodi, where, after the Sept. 11 attacks, investigators suspected men were financing terrorist groups abroad and recruiting members.

But the Hayats, both United States citizens of Pakistani descent, were the only people charged, and the government never revealed what, if any, was the specific plot. Instead, it portrayed the arrests as a preventive measure so that Hamid Hayat, who prosecutors said was committed to jihad, or holy war, could not carry out any orders.

"Today's verdict makes clear that we can prevent acts of terrorism by winning convictions against those who would plot to commit violence against our citizenry in the name of an extremist cause," McGregor W. Scott, the United States attorney here, said in a statement. ..

The case relied heavily on a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation whose credibility came under question during the trial and videotaped interrogations of the Hayats without their lawyers present and in English, which both speak with difficulty. The men confessed in those interviews, but defense lawyers attacked them as filled with leading questions and said they were done under duress.
People who're from New York know that this sort of thing- innocent people confessing- can happen quite frequently; the Central Park jogger case comes into mind, where racist talk show hosts such as Bob Grant convicted the youths involved over 50 KW of transmit power.

But what troubles me is the statement:

"Today's verdict makes clear that we can prevent acts of terrorism by winning convictions against those who would plot to commit violence against our citizenry in the name of an extremist cause."
Those who would? So like they're thinking about plotting, but not actually plotting? Or maybe they just like to think about plotting; they want to think about plotting?

Robert Tice-Raskin, the assistant United States attorney, said in his closing statements that Hamid Hayat had a "jihadi heart and jihadi mind," referring to an inclination for holy war. Those stirrings led him to train at a terrorist camp in northwest Pakistan, he said.

The government never presented evidence that Mr. Hayat had been in Pakistan, instead relying on the disputed admissions he made to agents.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

French Youth and Unemployment: Max Sawicky's Good Catch

This is worth saving; I know this is going to come up in discussions...

Somebody crunched the numbers- in particular David Howell and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School figured out that yep, the French youth aren't massively unemployed as we define unemployment.

From that link:

There is no doubt that the official youth unemployment rate in France is very high. At 22 percent, it was substantially above the U.S. rate of 11 percent (and even further above the U.K. rate of 9.9 percent and the Dutch rate of 8.1 percent).1 But this “catastrophic” French rate reflects the technical definition of unemployment, which is more appropriate for prime-age workers than it is for youth. The official unemployment rate measures the unemployed (those willing and able to
work and currently searching for a job) as a share of the labor force -- the unemployed and the employed. This definition means that, in two countries with the same number of youth and the same number of unemployed youth, the unemployment rate can be hugely different, depending on how many of the young people are employed.2 On this score, the difference between the U.S. and France is huge: Row 3 of the table shows that in 2004 only 32.8 percent of French male 15-24 year olds were employed (at least one hour in the survey reference week), compared to 61.9 percent of young U.S. men.
Key Labor Market Indicators for Male Youth for the U.S. and France, 2004
U.S France
1. Unemployment rate (U/U+E)
11.8 20.8
2. Labor Force Participation Rate (U+E/population) 70.2 41.4
3. Employment Population Rate (E/population) 61.9 32.8
4. Unemployment to Population Rate (U/population) 8.3 8.6
Source: statistical annex, OECD Employment Outlook 2005
The fact is that the incidence of unemployment in the total youth population is about the same in the two countries. As the table shows, for male youth the unemployment-topopulation rate is 8.3 percent in the United States and 8.6 percent in France. The unemployment-to-population rate for female youth is lower in both countries: 7.4 percent in France and 6.5 percent in the United States.3 The dramatic difference between France and U.S. is not the relatively large numbers of youth who are unemployed in France, but the relatively small number of employed French youth, especially students. Using the proper yardstick – relative to the youth population - the magnitude of the youth unemployment problem in France is almost indistinguishable from the situation in the United States.

Chalk yet another one up again to our "liberal" media.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I remember Munich....

While staying at the hotel, I looked in the phone book for Hitlers, Schicklegrubers, Goerings, Gobbelses, Himmlers, etc.

To no avail.

Evidently nobody in Munich wanted an infamous name, even if they weren't imagine my surprise when I read this:

The Long Island landscaper peeked out the door. It was another visitor arriving with a notebook, a press pass and the H-word on his lips, another journalist asking about his great-uncle Adolf.

The visitor asked the landscaper about his father, who was born William Patrick Hitler, son of Alois Hitler Jr., who was Adolf Hitler's half-brother (they shared the same father). Alois called his son Willy. The Führer called Willy "my loathsome nephew."

Willy Hitler was born in 1911 in Liverpool, and in his early years occasionally sought to take advantage of his last name, in England, Germany and then America, where he moved in 1939. After World War II, though, he decided to change the name and moved from New York City out to Patchogue on Long Island. He raised four sons — Alexander, Louis, Howard and Brian — before he died in 1987 at age 76.

I grew up within miles of Hitlers.

People are getting robbed and murdered by this government in Washington...

So what's the hot button issue to the Roman Catholic church and other "prominent" Christian "leaders??

That'd be gay marriage.

What is particularly odd about all of this is that some folks think the Roman Catholic church has any moral authority in sexual matters.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Parental advice I'd expect to find at Focus on the Family...

I'm not saying it's there yet, although it would not surprise me if it were.

The idea is this: the Focus on the Family parental idea is a strong male autocrat as head of the occurred to me yesterday while speaking to a friend, why not include a cult of personality in that?

Why not put posters of yourself and spouse throughout the house with slogans under them exorting your progeny to "Resolutely clean up your room and crush the dust-bunnies!" or "Study hard to realize our five year plan!"

I still haven't figured out how to port over huge military parades or mass games into the parental advice fixture but I'm thinking about it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Future Weapons of the US Military.

By Rimjob @ Kos.

I used to know much more about this field than I do now, for obvious reasons- I used to work in the defense industry.

This is in effect my bookmark.

Not Just Creationism. Take Home Economics - Wow! I never knew...

I am, as regular readers of this blog know, an engineer, and a male so I naturally know "boy-things." At the high school I attended they didn't have "home economics," but the local public school did.

Yesterday I had to take my son to his Chinese class, held at a local middle school's home economics class and boy oh boy oh boy was I astounded at the "texts" they use for "home economics."

First of all they use (not the latest) edition of the "Betty Crocker Cookbook;" they actually I think use the edition that's two editions before the current one ("the cookbook with a difference- it comes from a fictional character designed to sell not very good tasting instant cake mixes"). (My snark, lest the Crocker lawyers read this diary.)

I never thought a cookbook could be racist and uninformative, but Betty Crocker takes the cake, so to speak. Let's take the latter point first. First of all, there is not a single smidgen of anything on technique. Nothing on how to hold a knife, how to sharpen it, what kind of knives there are, the properties of various pots and pans; there's not even a comprehensive list on kitchen tools. And the tools that are listed are bizzare! For example according to that cook book, you should have an egg separator because the porous shells may contain harmful bacteria and you should never separate eggs using the shells! This idiotic advice of course could be countered with the simple admonition to "wash your hands, stupid," and I shudder to wonder how many legions of young Americans were misinformed in this manner.

If you want to know how to stir-fry you're totally out of luck here.

Furthermore, cuts of meats that are cheaper and easier to prepare- such as skirt steak- are missing.

Marinades and their properties are missing.

All the stuff you seen on Alton Brown is missing.

This is why Americans "can't cook."

Then - you remember I said, "racist" didn't you? There's the recipies. There's "Italian" spaghetti. "Hungarian" Goulash (which is not spelled "ghoulash," thankfully- not that they do; it was a typo I almost made). There's "oriental" noodles (which isn't so much "oriental" as "made up like what we imagine those yellow people would eat- it's got soy sauce and sesame oil in it and rice noodles so what else would you want?") There's even French omlettes.

Nothing, nada, zilch, zippo on African-American, Chinese, Indian, or Latino cuisines beyond simple Mexican food. No good inexpensive Italian dishes like Osso Bucco.

Aw, hell, it's unfair in a way for me to complain- the damned cookbook exists as a vehicle to sell Betty Crocker baking products (no wonder there's so many fat Americans.)

To which I say, what the f*ck were the students - or the teachers for that matter eating before they bought this atrocity? What kind of ignorant board members brought this atrocity into our schools- into my community's school?

They also had this horseshit "guide to living" book that the students knew was totally lame and in which the students had written snarky comments. The book dated from the mid-70s, and needless to say was pretty outdated - prices listed dated from exactly 1970. I won't mention what wasn't listed, but if you can think of a major problem that a young adult starting out on his own might have, from drugs to abortion to living with a spouse in military service to insurance to health care to saving for retirmeent to anything really associated with living on your own, this book doesn't have it. But it does tell you you can wear pink, and how to coordinate colors in your living room. And that families of different ethnic groups eat different foods.

And I live in an above average income neighborhood!

I thought as I read these books that, shit, somebody must of done to "home economics" what Foucault did to the prison system. Well, Cornell is obviously doing something. Check out this snarky site, too.

I don't know if there's a "war on home economics" yet, but there ought to be.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ghastly, but what did you expect from these people?

Bullshit trumps science:

WASHINGTON, April 20 — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that "no sound scientific studies" supported the medical use of marijuana, contradicting a 1999 review by a panel of highly regarded scientists...

The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be "moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."

Dr. John Benson, co-chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee that examined the research into marijuana's effects, said in an interview that the statement on Thursday and the combined review by other agencies were wrong.

The federal government "loves to ignore our report," said Dr. Benson, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. "They would rather it never happened."

Some scientists and legislators said the agency's statement about marijuana demonstrated that politics had trumped science.

"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the F.D.A. making pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by science," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a medical professor at Harvard Medical School.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The flip side of paranoid schizophrenia...

Is the delusion that you can -and should?- control other people's minds.

From a post on that "blog" linking to an offer for a book on how to start a cult.

Ye gods, people can make money off of anything it seems.

Blogging funhouse mirror immanentizing the eschaton

I haven't read Jim Kunstler's blog lately, but yep, Kunstler's saying he wants a strike against Iran, just as Richard Bennett said.

A Kunstler or fan could say "I want us to bomb Iran" because I know that to do so would, to borrow a phrase from the Illuminatus! Trilogy, immanentize the eschaton of the world Kunstler wants. Or because he thinks it will delay it (I suspect Richard's right here.) Or because I don't want to do so.

"Huh?" you say. Yeah, because I don't want to do so; because by drawing attention to the gambit, it forces a resolution of it, which is one thing the Bush folks could be doing right now, its game of selective ratcheting up the tension and easing it (which also happens to be a standard cult trick).

Of course the risk lies in nobody - including your adversary, in this case the Iranians- getting the irony of it all and taking you at your word.

I think though in another way Richard and possibly Kunstler don't get it; quoting Richard:

But his admirers see the collapse of our civilization as a good thing, because they tend to have low-level jobs in retail or food service and the leveling of the Western standard of living would presumably force the fancy people to give up their SUVs and join them on the streets on bicycles.

I don't consider myself an "admirer" of Kunstler or Pianka, but I do generally agree with the thesis that we're screwing ourselves by raping the earth and overpopulating; we're treating the earth like what bacteria do to a corpse; metaphorically speaking, eventually there will only be bones left - and no bacteria.

This isn't "good," and so there ought to be ways to wisely manage this. But it takes ways of forming new social structures that are anathema to much of what humanity has done in the past 5,000 years. It need not mean a return to the Dark Ages.

In the mean time we do indeed run the risk of wars, advocates of wars, and people who don't really advocate wars but may be too clever for our own good.

Blogger's Block....

I haven't come up with any posts that, in my opinion, are that good in the past few days.

Now, I have nobody to blame but myself....and, I guess the fact that the work at work is forcing me (finally!) to be especially creative there.

Too bad I can't tell you about it, but suffice it to say that I bet most bloggers are like this - PZ Meyers and Brad de Long are obvious exceptions, but that's 'cause they get the luxury of blogging about their work.

Ah, people who have left my company in the past due to dysfunction: if you could see what your leaving has helped us make.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A whole bunch of weird creatoinist stuff...

Penn and Teller rightly call creationism bullshit.

Dembski acolyte Dave Scot wants you to help save "Dr. Dino."

Yeah, yeah, "intelligent" "design" isn't creationism.

Rebalance time for the IRA...

Decisions, decisions...but evidently the trend might just be the same, judging from Iceland...

ome hedge funds and other global investors in the last several months have been concerned that the economy has overheated, and so they have withdrawn money from Icelandic markets. This pullback has caused the main stock index, the Icex 15, to fall 18 percent, and the currency, the krona, to weaken by about the same amount.

These declines, some analysts say, run the risk of driving away other investors, who had been lured by Iceland's attractive interest rates. This could prompt a downward spiral with larger repercussions. If nothing else, the analysts say, Iceland's own economy could be in for a rough patch, serving as a cautionary tale for other emerging markets.

With a population on a par with a midsize American city and a gross domestic product of around $10.3 billion, or just below that of Rwanda, Iceland would not seem to be on the radar screen of many financial experts. But analysts from Merrill Lynch, Danske Bank, Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service and many economists have weighed in with concern. Others say fears of an Icelandic meltdown are overblown.

Nicolas Bouzou, the chief economist of Institut Xerfi, a research concern in Paris, feels that Iceland could be the "butterfly's wing" that sets off serious ripples in capital markets elsewhere in the world.

Mr. Bouzou said that "many countries have the same macroeconomic configuration of Iceland," and if investors lose a great deal more money in Iceland, they could also pull out of other countries with similar economic structures. That configuration, he said, included a "real estate bubble, very strong credit expansion and a very high commercial deficit." The same could be said of New Zealand, Australia and even the United States, he said.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Some of the funnier defenses against "Rumsfeld shouldn't resign"


Mr. Rumsfeld still enjoys support in many Republican circles. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his resignation would be a mistake.

"If this were to happen," Mr. Cornyn said, "it would encourage demands for other members of the cabinet or other people close to the president to resign." Echoing administration officials, he said some good news out of Iraq could go a long way toward quieting critics.


Richard Myers, who retired as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff last autumn, defended Mr Rumsfeld on Sunday, saying it was “inappropriate for the military to sit in judgment of their civilian bosses”. “What I am hearing now I never heard when I was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.”

While he had great respect for the colleagues who had criticised Mr Rumsfeld, such criticism was “bad for civil military relations”, the former general said...

In his own defence, Mr Rumsfeld on Friday told al- Arabiya television: “Out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed, we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round.”

Senator Mitch McConnel gets the award for Most Lipstick on a Pig:

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, said that the war in Iraq has been an "extremely successful undertaking" and that hopefully, the elected government in Iraq would choose a leadership, allowing troops to be drawn down.

"With regard to Rumsfeld, I think he's been a spectacular secretary of defense, one of the best in American history," Mr. McConnell said on "Fox News Sunday."

"And I certainly do not think he ought to resign."

General Myers saying,"when you judge the secretary of defense, you're judging the Commander in Chief.

Amusing site has all kinds of useless recommendations...but if you have had folks with stomach flu in your family, this bit might amuse you.

John Neuhaus

I guess he represnets powerful interests, and so he gets a forum despite his mushy thinking.

The proper work of Catholic intellectuals, Neuhaus believes, is to reformulate the unchanging doctrines (the "deposit of faith") and the church's non-doctrinal teachings in the light of new experiences and insights. If they encounter difficulties, the problem lies not with the church but with themselves. "I think for myself not to come up with my own teaching," he writes, "but to make the Church's teaching my own." Accepting church authority on faith is necessary, he admits, but all thinking rests on some kind of prior faith: "The allegedly autonomous self who acknowledges no authority but himself is abjectly captive to the authority of a tradition of Enlightenment rationality that finally collapses into incoherence."...

"When sex asserts its own rights to pleasure and the satisfaction of needs," he writes, "pleasure and satisfaction are divorced from responsibility, the bond of marriage is loosened, promiscuity is made easier, disordered forms of sexual expression are declared normal and unintended new life is deemed expendable. Those who contend that there is a logical continuum from artificial contraception to abortion are right, I believe, but they are probably in a distinct minority among Catholics today."

As for homosexuality, he argues that the church rightly resists the "dehumanizing idea that one's core identity is determined by one's sexual desires." People who have same-sex relations, he says, should be thought of not as homosexuals but as sinners; a Christian's duty is to hate the sin and love the sinner.

How often does "sex" "assert a 'right'?" Who says one's "core identity" is "determined" by one's sexual desires? Make no mistake, he's pre-Enlightenment.

Also: it's Easter, and therefore time for the NY Times' obligatory magazine article on "Christianity."

[Larry Ross, PR guy for "evangelical" Christians] also has an eye for the odd coupling. He booked Rod Parsley, a flamboyant Charismatic Pentecostal and a staple of Christian television, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network (the world's largest Christian network), on "Dennis Miller" and "Larry King Live." A client known as Dino, a sort of Liberace in Christian circles who plays a crystal-covered piano, told me that Ross tried to get him onto "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the late-night talk show, during the holiday season (the two sides couldn't settle on a date). "Larry thought I might be off the wall enough," Dino said.

Perhaps the most intensive training that Ross offers is his "media and spokesperson" sessions. These can last as long as two days and usually include several mock interviews, which are taped. Ross encourages his clients to engage the media, but he wants to prepare them for worst-case encounters, so he administers tough questioning. To loosen clients up, he shows them an old "Bob Newhart" episode in which a talk-show host suddenly turns on Newhart. "It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen," Ross says. He advises clients to avoid ecclesiastical language when addressing the mainstream ("Somebody talks about the Holy Ghost or the Army of God — that sounds like a revolution and it's coming out of Iran," says Lawrence Swicegood, who has worked for Ross and DeMoss) and to use metaphors because they stick in people's minds. Toward the end of a session, Ross looses a "bulldog" interrogator, a role played these days by Giles Hudson, a former writer for the Associated Press, who poses questions ranging from financial queries to "Do homosexuals go to hell?" "Obviously not," Hudson says is a good response to this challenge. "Each person has their own relationship to Christ. People don't just go to hell because you're an alcoholic." Sometimes Ross and Hudson add a separate, ambush interview. After taking a "break" from a session with Promise Keepers, Ross's team confronted its president in the reception area, camera crew in tow.

It's a big sideshow to me.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bush & co. won't attack Iran in the very near future

They'll talk about attacking Iran, to draw attention away from Iraq, and to try to get the Iranians to make some sort of deal.

But they won't succeeed, because the Iranians at this point- like the rest of us- have absolutely no reason to trust the Bush folks.

"Roshi" = lao shi = old teacher in Chinese

Stuart Lachs over at has written extensively on the myth of the "Zen roshi." (See also here.)

Lachs, in the former link, quotes Richard Baker quoting Trudy Dixon:

A roshi is a person who has actualized that perfect freedom which is the potentiality for all human beings. He exists freely in the fullness of his whole being. The flow of his consciousness is not the fixed repetitive patterns of our usual self-centered consciousness, but rather arises spontaneously and naturally from the actual circumstances of the present. The results of this in terms of the quality of his life are extraordinary-buoyancy, vigor, straightforwardness, simplicity, humility, security, joyousness, uncanny perspicacity and unfathomable compassion. His whole being testifies to what it means to live in the reality of the present. Without anything said or done, just the impact of meeting a personality so developed can be enough to change another's whole way of life. But in the end it is not the extraordinariness of the teacher that perplexes, intrigues, and deepens the student, it is the teacher's utter ordinariness.

Lachs goes on:

Most students will understand the term Dharma transmission as a sort of USDA seal of approval guaranteeing that the Master/roshi is fully enlightened, and that his or her every gesture therefore manifests the Absolute. This attitude is well illustrated by one of the responses to my questionnaire: "a Zen Master is a person who has been certifiedas existing in fully awakened mind..."

Now I will give Lachs no argument at all that Baker has written an example of bullshit. As Harry Frankfurt wrote:

To begin with, whenever a person deliberately misrepresents anything, he must inevitably misrepresenting his own state of mind. It is possible, of course, for a person to misrepresent that alone — for instance, by pretending to have a desire or a feeling which he does not actually have. But suppose that a person, whether by telling a lie or in another way, misrepresents something else. Then he necessarily misrepresents at least two things. He misrepresents whatever he is talking about — i.e., the state of affairs that is the topic or referent of his discourse — and in doing this he cannot avoid misrepresenting his own mind as well. Thus, someone who lies about how much money he has in his pocket both gives an account of the amount of money in his pocket and conveys that he believes this account. If the lie works, then its victim is twice deceived, having one false belief about what is in the liar’s pocket and another false belief about what is in the liar’s mind.

So while I largely agree with Lachs, I have to mention something that came as a shock to me last night. My Japanese dictionary defines roshi as:

老師 【ろうし】(n) old priest, sage, (Zen) teacher

Last night I had to take my son to his Chinese class. Guess what the Chinese word for teacher is? It's lao shi- with the latter character slightly simplified. That is, in Chinese, an everyday teacher is a "roshi."

In Japanese, by contrast, of course the word used is sensei ( 先生【せんせい】); and I am but a lowly Ph.D. (博 【はく】).

So, basically the Japanese term for a Zen master most often used is, rendered in English, "teacher," which, in that field, anybody can indeed give themselves or be bestowed upon them as an honorific title. But it means exactly whatever is behind it; which is either a lot or a little.

And that's your Chinese/Japanese/Buddhist caveat emptor lesson for today.

Example of "Hoist by one's own petard."

Berlusconi blew himself up, so to speak.

Michelle Malkin is "unhnged"

The "South Park" episode on the Muhammed appearance on "Family Guy" was obviously not a bow to demands of Muslims, but a ploy to generate hype such as evidenced by Michelle Malkin.

Why do I say this? Three words: Super Best Friends.

HT:This commenter on Pharyngula.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I think Sesame Street should sue Grover Norquist

He wants to trademark this?

Busy, busy day...

Hopefully will get a chance to post something meaningful later.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

This is probably complete, unadulterated BS fiction...

but this thread by one Martin Random at Something Awful (HT: danger durden @ kos) is the slap-happiest, giggliest, guffawing piece I've seen on the Bush regime this year:

Donald Rumsfeld needs to wear iced underwear because of some medical condition, and he has his secret service detail hold his spares. He was recently getting uncontrollable long-term erections and had to change up his medical treatments. The underwear and the erections is why he uses a standing desk, not because he is some super-man. He also wears nylon stockings, not because he's gay, but to control some vascular problem with his legs which causes him intense pain.

President Bush uses anti-depressant medication, a lot of it, at a stupendous dosage, and he is hiding it from the American public. This is the real reason he stopped drinking. Because of the dosage, he is also impotent.

Tom Ridge carries 20 credit cards with him at all times, each one with a very low limit. I have never heard of him using one, ever, but he has them. He also wears his socks inside-out, and will flip the fuck out and walk strangely if he is forced to wear them properly, because it drives him crazy. All of his socks must be laundered right side in and then turned inside out before they are returned to him. He gave specific instructions about handling his food, and not allowing his vegetables to touch any other food item on the plate. His utensils must be steamed over boiling water. He will not eat soup which hasn't been boiled within the past 20 minutes or which he has not prepared himself. If any of these rules are violated, he flies into a rage, turns beet red, and will not eat a single thing. He has his personal attendants confirm over and over that the food is as he likes it. He also shaves his forearms and hands because he can't stand the idea of body hair on his arms. He demands that his bedsheets are bleach white and changed fresh every night and he sleeps in a separate bed in a big, tight, body-length nylon sleeve, with a fan blowing over him at full power. He is terrified of animals which have fur or hair longer than one inch, and will not go near curly hair of any kind, even on people. At one time he ran from his office and demanded that someone look under everything for a rodent which did not and could not exist, then he had the entire place wiped down with disinfectant and vacuumed twice. While this was done he couldn't even bear to look at the door, or come within 20 feet of his office. He was in hysterics.

President Bush, when dining at the white-house, does not eat any item of food which has not been first sniffed by a trained dog before being prepared. Think about that.

Word among the staff is that Cheney was drunk when he shot that lawyer, and secluded himself for a day to sober up and avoid felony firearms charges. I don't have any direct information on this because the guys with him at the time are not talking. This is totally unconfirmed, but I think it is plausible.

Dick Cheney has chronic gum problems and his breath smells like shit as a result. He is also a CLOSE TALKER. He keeps a small bottle of diluted hydrogen peroxide which he rinses with every hour on the hour, and he swallows it instead of spitting. He also picks his nose vigorously (violently) and hums loudly and tunelessly to himself while taking shits...

And further down in comments:

Tom Ridge brushes his teeth like 3 times per day religiously, but he can't stand looking at someone brushing their teeth. He contorts as in agony, as if he is actually experiencing pain. He can't watch himself brush his teeth, and even describing the process of brushing teeth drives him up a wall.

If you joke around near Rumsfeld, he will stare at you intensely as if you just killed his mother for about 10 seconds, which will be unnerving because you think you've offended him, then he will begin to laugh a little bit, a bit more, until he is in hysterics. He has a chest condition called Pleurisy that causes this; breathing deeply is painful to him as is laughing with gusto, so he tries very hard to control himself before losing it. It really unnerves people who are trying to be sociable. This is the reason for his creepy shallow laugh in public.

[Press Secretary Scott McClellan]is a human bean bag when confronting the press, designed to absorb blows, and he is a total douche, and granted, the A could get a prettier, more charismatic face to put up there. What you can't see is the genius behind-the-scenes ball twisting he engages in which has cowed them into submission. Revoking press passes, carting them into rooms, deciding who gets to be on which airplane, etc., the man has many tools, and he uses them to spectacular effect. The guy is a genius, a filthy, disgusting genius. I know some damning stuff about him but I need to think a while on how to deliver it without endangering myself.

Every time he is put up there in front of the microphone, realize that he is there as a human signpost of contempt for the press.

"You have no excuse"


It does stop a winger in his tracks, that prhase.

Maoists in India

Give the NY Times some credit; I had not heard that there was still a Maoist insurgency in India:

BHANUPRATAPUR FOREST RESERVE, India — The gray light of dawn broke over the bamboo forest as the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army prepared for a new day...

The company commander, Gopanna Markam, patiently shaved.

"We have made the people aware of how to change your life through armed struggle, not the ballot," said Mr. Markam, who is in his mid-40's, describing his troops' accomplishments. "This is a people's war, a protracted people's war."

Mr. Markam's ragtag forces, who hew to Mao's script for a peasant revolution, fought a seemingly lost cause for so long, they were barely taken seriously beyond India's desperately wanting forest belt. But not anymore.

Today the fighting that Mr. Markam has quietly nurtured for 25 years looks increasingly like a civil war, one claiming more and more lives and slowing the industrial growth of a country hungry for the coal, iron and other riches buried in these isolated realms bypassed by India's economic boom.

While the far more powerful Maoist insurgency in neighboring Nepal has received greater attention, the conflict in India, though largely separate, has gained momentum, too. In the last year, it has cost nearly a thousand lives.

Here in central Chhattisgarh State, the deadliest theater of the war, government-aided village defense forces have lately taken to hunting Maoists in the forests. Hand in hand with the insurgency, the militias have dragged the region into ever more deadly conflict.

Villagers, caught in between, have seen their hamlets burned. Nearly 50,000 are now displaced, living in flimsy tent camps, as the counterinsurgency tries to cleanse the countryside of Maoist support.

The insurgents blow up railway tracks, seize land and chase away forest guards. They have made it virtually impossible for government officials, whose presence here in the hinterland is already patchy, to function. Police posts, government offices and industrial plants are favored targets. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the state.

Today the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which exists solely as an underground armed movement with no political representation, is a rigidly hierarchical outfit with toeholds in 13 of 28 Indian states. It stretches from the tip of India through this east-central state to the northern border with Nepal, where the Maoists have set off full-scale civil war.

Bill O'Reilly is stealing Steven Colbert's intellectual property!

See the video at Crooks and Liars. O'Reilly is claiming a "war on Easter," replete with a war on the Easter Bunny, evidently, from his graphic.

All he needs is an animated Jesus with a machine gun shooting from the tomb.

Colbert, when he did this bit with the animated Jesus almost broke character and lost it.

O'Reilly is toast; Colbert has him like a cat has a mouse if Colbert can continue to pre-empt O'Reilly's bombast with satirical bombast.

But his Newsweek author is silly; the Declaration of Independence was a political document justifying the disruption of political bonds with the highest political authorities of the country from which it broke. The Constitution is the highest law of the land. And at any rate, as I said below the "Christian nation" is basically a myth, unless by Christianity you mean violent Christianity.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"Christian" Nation?

Read this:

Tennessee Congressman John Duncan wants to commemorate the event with a resolution reaffirming the motto and calling on Americans to reflect on the blessing of God on our nation. Amanda Banks of Focus on the Family Action says while resolutions are not law, Congress uses them express its opinion.

“Resolutions are important. They do go into the Congressional Record, obviously, and they show congressional support.”

The support might be needed as the motto is under attack in a federal court by atheist Michael Newdow.

“I hope he gets it passed. He won’t, but it’s just like the best evidence I have for my case.”

He’s optimistic because the resolution lists 16 historical findings including, “This American trust in the Christian Deity dates from the earliest colonial days…” Attorney Jay Sekulow concedes that might cross the line.

“Part of the resolution’s absolutely fine that talks about the religious heritage of America but the reference to a specific religion in the resolution probably would cause some problems.”

But he thinks a legal challenge is unlikely. Constitutionality notwithstanding, historian David Barton says all the findings are historically accurate and it’s appropriate to commemorate the anniversary.

“A great way to conserve and commemorate the national motto would be simply to read this resolution.”

(Thomas doesn't list any resolution of the sort as of today.)Now read this (HT:Brayton):

Roger Williams was banished from the Colony because he challenged Winthrop's idea that America was a "new Israel." At the beginning of his Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience (1644), Williams explained one of the theses of his book: "The state of the land of Israel, the kings and people thereof, in peace and war, is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor precedent for any kingdom or civil state in the world to follow." (p. 3)

Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island and established the first Baptist church in America.
Williams was not the only Baptist to suffer such persecution. John Clarke, pastor of the Baptist Church at Newport, Rhode Island published an account of religious persecution in New England in his Ill News from New-England(1652). In it he told how in the summer of 1651, Obadiah Holmes, John Crandall, and John Clarke -- all members of the Baptist Church at Newport, Rhode Island -- were arrested and imprisoned for holding an unauthorized worship service in the home of a blind Baptist named William Witter who lived at Lynn, Massachusetts outside Boston. They were sentenced to be fined or whipped. Fines for Clarke and Crandall were paid by friends. Holmes refused to let friends pay his fine and was publicly whipped on the streets of Boston on September 6, 1651.

A year after Clarke's book was published, Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard University, was forced to resign from his position and banished from Cambridge, Massachusetts. His crime: refusing to have his fourth child baptized as an infant and proclaiming that only believers should be baptized.

And these are just a few examples of what life was like in Massachusetts during the days of the pilgrims.

When Baptists begin holding up colonial Massachusetts as a model for modern society it demonstrates something about the transvaluation of beliefs and convictions that modern fundamentalists have brought about in Baptist life. They truly have more in common with colonial theocratic Puritans than they do with their Baptist ancestors....

As bad as it was for Baptists, it was worse for Quakers.

Sydney Ahlstrom records some of the ways that the authorities dealt with Quakers, "In July 1656 the ship Swallow anchored in Boston Harbor. It became known quickly that on board were two Quaker women, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, who had shipped from Barbados. The authorities moved swiftly. The women were kept on ship while their belongings were searched and more than one hundred books confiscated. Although there was as yet no law against Quakers in Massachusetts, the two were hurried off to jail, stripped of all their clothing, and inspected for tokens of witchcraft. After five weeks, the captain of the Swallow was placed under a 100 pound bond to carry them back to Barbados." A Religious History of the American People, p. 178.

When these efforts failed to keep Quakers out of the colony, they resorted to more drastic measures. William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, and William Leddra are listed among the Quaker martyrs in Massachusetts. The last Quaker martyr in Massachusetts, Mary Dyer, was hanged in the Boston Common on June 1, 1660. All died in defiance of a law banning Quakers from Massachusetts Bay Colony.

A statue of Mary Dyer now stands in front of the State Capitol in Massachusetts as a constant reminder of the Colony's shameful legacy of religious intolerance.

Of course this is about power for the sake restriction of liberty, not morality.

Please! Stop the Stalin comparisons!

From today's Guardian:

The Bush myth was given a powerful boost yesterday when a modest west Texas house, once home to two US presidents, was formally declared open to the public. 1412 West Ohio Avenue in Midland was George W Bush's childhood home and the scene of many of the happy scenes recalled in the biography A Charge to Keep, published at the time of his 2000 election campaign...

"To get to a friend's house, you would walk down a couple doors, climb someone's fence, cut through a yard, only crossing the street when you absolutely had to," Mr Bush recalled, in words reproduced on a sign outside the building, restored at a cost of $1.9m (£1m).

"Midland was a small town, with small-town values. We learned to respect our elders, to do what they said, and to be good neighbours. We went to church," Mr Bush wrote. "No one locked their doors, because you could trust your friends and neighbours. It was a happy childhood."...

However, it was a relatively brief snapshot in a young life that told another story. After attending Midland schools, the young "Dubya" Bush was dispatched to an expensive boarding school back east, and then attended Yale and Harvard.

He was born, not in Texas, but in Connecticut into a wealthy dynasty of financiers and politicians. His grandfather was a senator, and his father, the first President Bush, went to west Texas in 1948 with the aim of using family business connections to profit from the oil boom.

And, if you ever make it to the Republic of Georgia
(not the state in the US, that is):

The town of Gori is Stalin's birthplace. The museum exhibits re-create surreal and revealing scenes from the life of the dictator and include unique photos, gifts and furniture. The house where Stalin was born is preserved under a stone canopy nearby. A large statue of the "Leader of the People" stands in the central square.

BTW, check out the photo from the article:

He had a croquet set as a kid...near his bed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another day, another bizarre right-wing group.

On Media Matters, there's a reference to a "baseless" charge about Americans' polling w.r.t. illegal aliens, made by "Mothers Against Illegal Aliens," when someone (maybe the only one?) from their group appeared on "Hannity & Colmes,

Well, I can understand, even if I disagree somewhat with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

But illegal aliens?

This will undoubtedly be picked up by the Sadly No! or Ed Braytons, but I gotta record this one:

The mission of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens (MAIA)
is to protect the LEGAL American Children.

The Mission of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens – (MAIA) is to bring awareness to and educate the LEGAL American Mothers and families whose children are the silent victims of this Invasion of Illegal Aliens into the USA.

To be the VOICE and PROTECTOR of the LEGAL CHILDREN who are unable to protect their future.

To be the VOICE for the LEGAL CHILDREN and VICTIMS who have been harmed by the activity of illegal aliens in the USA.

To Unite in solidarity Legal Mothers and families together to make it possible for, America’s Children to, once again - be the future of America.

Our beautiful Nation has been turned into a jungle by the mass invasion of illegal aliens - the streets of America; the neighborhoods and communities where we live; the malls and stores where we shop; the schools where our LEGAL children attend - and yes, even the churches where we worship - are now the Citadels of fear, bigotry, racism, physical danger and hate! The LEGAL children of America’s 21st century have become the scapegoats and the victims of this invasion of illegal aliens. They have become - the get behind, the left behind, the back of the class, the back of the bus, the get off the playground, the get out of my way - pawns and victims of peer abuse and societal indifference.

As Americans, most of us have come from other countries, as many of our grandparents struggled and went through the Legal process to become a Legal American.
What we have in America presently is not Legal Entry into America, we have millions of people entering ILLEGALLY! The Illegal Aliens need to follow the law that our ancestors did, and if they want to become American citizens, let them do it the Legal way.
It is Critical to the future of our country that our borders are protected and illegal aliens are stopped from flooding our Nation.

Do we have to take this anymore???

No we do not !!!


Our FULL Mission Statement

We live, in this 21st century jungle – we, the Legal Americans, find ourselves in love with loving our children more than we can ever recall that which was shown to us as children.

While we the Legal Citizens of America watch this political game being played - and as we see first hand the destruction that it has and continues to cause - we lose sight of the fact that the pieces on the board are the faces of our Legal children - the Legal children of this Nation. They are the innocent victims of this Illegal Immigration war and in all of the battles fought thus far, we have forgotten them - to their detriment and to our failing. BUT NO MORE!!

The Legal American Children of America will no longer be scapegoated or abused or denied or trampled upon or forgotten……they will become the only reason and the sole reason and the first reason that the Mothers of America - Mothers Against Illegal Aliens USA - will do what only a Mother can do - and will do - for her child(ren)!!

For the Legal American Children of America, the DREAM IS STILL REAL!! For the Legal American Mothers & Fathers who love them - the DREAM MUST NOT DIE - IT MUST ALWAYS PREVAIL!!

It is not enough to remain content knowing that we have allowed “others” to use OUR CHILDREN as pawns and chess pieces in this struggle against Illegal Immigration, Unsecure Borders and Interior Enforcement. WE MUST not allow strangers to determine the future course of this Nation, and as such the future course of our Legal Children. That is our job as Legal Mothers - Fathers - Parents - and as a family. No stranger and no politician has any right to divide this Nation and all it possesses - and they have no right to expect that it is OK to estrange any American child in his/her own land!!

Mothers Against Illegal Aliens USA extends a “motherly” welcome to all the Mothers of America - whose love for their child(ren) is every bit as great as her love for this Nation. The Legal American Children should no longer be confined to limits set by Illegal Aliens or our Politicians - and they should no longer be shoved to the back of any line that the invaders, proponents and advocates have created to benefit their lawlessness.

Our Legal American Children - every legal child in America who is here LEGALLY - is special to many people, but to his/her Mother - our children - every child is the light in every Mother’s life - and the joy in her heart!!

Help Mothers Against Illegal Aliens USA remove our children as victims from this Political struggle. By joining Mothers Against Illegal Aliens USA - you can make a difference by sharing your story and your child’s experiences with the rest of America.

Please; together we can make it possible for America’s Children to once again - be the Children and the future of America.

  • Are they afraid of miscegenation?
  • Are they afraid their kids will be raped by illegal aliens?
  • Are the aware that children of illegal aliens are "Legal Americans?"
  • Just WTF is their beef?

New Italian guy

Well, it's now Blair and Bush.

And soon - OK, 2 1/2 years from now- it won't be Bush.

The Iraq Stock Exchange...

It wouldn't surprise me if at some point - maybe soon- the Iraqi stock exchange issues wound up to be a better investment than their US counterparts, even with civil war and all that.

And it's not a compliment to the folks running things here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Anti-immigration types don't support the troops

Atrios has a great catch from La Queen Sucia:

According to the National Center for Immigration Law, one in ten U.S. soliders who have DIED in Iraq have been immigrants. Five percent of those serving in our military are illegal immigrants.

The first soldier to die for the United States in the current war in Iraq was Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

He died for you.

You are not in Iraq fighting for anyone. You are home, sending lie-riddled missives to strangers at 3 a.m. on your computer.

Enough said.

(Underline my emphasis)

5%. That's real numbers these days.



Evidently the 5% number is all immigrants.

But also it appears that the current Republican governor of California was in effect an illegal alien.

Censure? Sure, but also, impeach, if guilty convict, remove from office, and prosecute criminally

I took some free time this weekend to re-read Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

The first section, "torture," inadvertantly makes a resounding case not only for Bush's removal from office, but also to consider him a candidate for prosecution for treason.

Find me shrill yet? Let me continue.

Foucault notes that throughout Western history, offenses were inevitably prosecuted as offenses against he sovereign; indeed in the United States, federal offenses are prosecuted in the name of the United States

Now who, in effect is most sovereign in the United States, according to a literal, traditionalist role of the constitution? That would be the people of the United States; they are in effect the authors of the consititution, they, constituting the authority behind it are ultimately soverign. Criminal prosecutions in states are often done in the name of "the people of the state of ..."; even the elements of the religious right quote Felix Frankfurter approvingly: ("In a democracy the highest office is the office of citizen.")

Now George W. Bush owes his allegiance to the Constitution of the United States as President, and allegiance to the United States as a citizen thereof; as such, he is therefore subordinate to the people of the United States. He's our employee, as I am fond of saying. I'm also fond of saying he would have been put on a performance plan had I had a more direct employer employee relationship with him long ago.

Vincent Bugliosi reminds us in his famous Nation piece None Dare Call it Treason (if you haven't read it get thee here and read it) that:

Essentially, there are two types of crimes: malum prohibitum (wrong because they are prohibited) crimes, more popularly called "civil offenses" or "quasi crimes," such as selling liquor after a specified time of day, hunting during the off-season, gambling, etc.; and malum in se (wrong in themselves) crimes. The latter, such as robbery, rape, murder and arson, are the only true crimes. Without exception, they all involve morally reprehensible conduct. Even if there were no law prohibiting such conduct, one would know (as opposed to a malum prohibitum crime) it is wrong, often evil. Although the victim of most true crimes is an individual (for example, a person robbed or raped), such crimes are considered to be "wrongs against society." This is why the plaintiff in all felony criminal prosecutions is either the state (People of the State of California v. _______) or the federal government (United States of America v. _______).

The outing of Valerie Plame, the spying on Americans, the lying about reasons for going to war, the reckless shedding of American soldiers' lives are all so ridiculously injurious to the ultimate sovereignty of the United States people, that, like Bugliosi commented regarding Bush v. Gore, we can argue that George W. Bush is guilty of several crimes that are each a malum in se against the American people. Indeed, in authorizing the leaking intelligence information or being complicit in the obstruction of justice therein, has George W. Bush not violated the espionage act or the treason act? Has he not provided aid and comfort to our enemies?

That is why I am not only going to sign Senator Feingold's petition, but I will also be urging all my elected representatives to initiate stronger proceedings against this reckless and incompetent chief executive.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Disgruntled Chemist Knows hat J. Z. Knight Knows...

When I was quite a bit younger, I worked in a company in which the vice president of research and development was an uber-WASP by the name of Randolph H. Cope, who preferred, despite his stiff, funereal manner, to go by the name of "Randy."

One year, he deviated from his customary Christmas custom of wishing everyone a merry Christmas, so I and a young colleague took it on ourselves to wish all a merry Christmas in his name- and mannerism.

As I was doing speech compression research at the time, I managed to digitize his voice, which later became famous throughout the company as "rappin' Randy."

One of rappin' Randy's favorite words were a serious, funereal pronouncement of appreciation of good work by saying the word "Outstanding."

Which is what this post by the Disgruntled Chemist is on "What the Bleep do We Know."

HT: Pharyngula.

A bit more on Dembski:

Dembski's son has autism.

That's a hard burden, and one can understand why one would try to make sense of such an outcome in life by an appeal to an "intelligent" "designer."

That said, I must still voice my displeasure at his treatment of Eric Pianka, who hasn't had an easy life either, medically.

The Markov Process, Evolution, and "Intelligent" "Design"

Tristero over at Hullabaloo has an interesting post on the transitions of the genetic codes of points to an article in today's NY Times:

By reconstructing ancient genes from long-extinct animals, scientists have for the first time demonstrated the step-by-step progression of how evolution created a new piece of molecular machinery by reusing and modifying existing parts.

The researchers say the findings, published today in the journal Science, offer a counterargument to doubters of evolution who question how a progression of small changes could produce the intricate mechanisms found in living cells.

"The evolution of complexity is a longstanding issue in evolutionary biology," said Joseph W. Thornton, professor of biology at the University of Oregon and lead author of the paper. "We wanted to understand how this system evolved at the molecular level. There's no scientific controversy over whether this system evolved. The question for scientists is how it evolved, and that's what our study showed."...

Discoveries like that announced this week of a fish with limblike fins have filled in the transitions between species. New molecular biology techniques let scientists begin to reconstruct how the processes inside a cell evolved over millions of years.

Dr. Thornton's experiments focused on two hormone receptors. One is a component of stress response systems. The other, while similar in shape, takes part in different biological processes, including kidney function in higher animals.

Hormones and hormone receptors are protein molecules that act like pairs of keys and locks. Hormones fit into specific receptors, and that attachment sends a signal to turn on — or turn off — cell functions. The matching of hormones and receptors led to the question of how new hormone-and-receptor pairs evolved, as one without the other would appear to be useless.

The researchers found the modern equivalent of the stress hormone receptor in lampreys and hagfish, two surviving jawless primitive species. The team also found two modern equivalents of the receptor in skate, a fish related to sharks.

After looking at the genes that produced them, and comparing the genes' similarities and differences among the genes, the scientists concluded that all descended from a single common gene 450 million years ago, before animals emerged from oceans onto land, before the evolution of bones.

I have argued in various places with creationists that this was doable, I hadn't known if it in fact had been done or not, but it seemed, uh, pretty obvious to me.

Let me explain why:

  • A trip to the NY Museum of Natural History will confirm that indeed, there are taxonomies that can be created based on the evolution of animals. This taxonomy can be of course based on DNA.

  • The DNA of different species can be arranged on a tree just like the trees arranged according to anatomical similarity or embryonic similarity.

  • The DNA trees though are of particular importance; they represent observed pieces of a what (piecewise at least) is a branching process. (Wiki link for branching process is here if it works.)

  • Now regardless of whether or not life is a true branching process or not (e.g., it could be Markov process with odd kinds of loops instead of just a simpler branching process.

  • The Markov process - let's just stick with that for now- can be represented by a graph, with nodes representing DNA of a particular species, and branches or edges representing state transitions. Such state transitions could be added too by the addition of viruses to the "junk" DNA.

  • When all species ever known/classified as to DNA are on the tree, the tree can represent a set of state transitions.

  • Finally, a we can deduce the state transitions required to go from, say, a flatwork to a human. Yes, Virginia, it's random, in a way that information theory folks and math majors will appreciate, but creationists won't.

I'll be looking at the creationist/ID blogosphere in the next few days, but Tristero over at Hullabaloo is quite wrong to think that this is a death knell for "intelligent" "design": they will simply ascribe their "designer" to the role of instigator of these state transitions. But that role is flimsier than gossamer.
Based on a probabilistic viewpoint the "ultimate cause" just doesn't matter: the states happened, and the state diagram is ultimately completely agnostic as to the "cause" just as the "cause" of a sequence of die rolls at a craps table - other than the gambler's rolling the of the die- is irrelevant.

It's all about observations, baby. Just like in Buddhism.

But Tristero is right about Behe; who has to go into denial mode to try to refute what is an obvious way to falsify evolution (which "intelligent" "design" can't do.) I await Dembski's response to this though; because it's a probability/stochastic processes exercise, and his denial should prove interesting to say the least.

The WSJ captures "Discovery Institute"'s Stephen Meyer's reaction; he says it's a "victory" for "Intelligent" "Design." Nice spinning:

One such complex structure is a hormone and its receptor. Just as a keyhole has no use without a key and vice versa, a hormone is useless without a receptor that lets it dock with a cell, and a receptor serves no purpose without hormones. Catch-22: Neither component could survive without the other, yet it strains credulity to suppose that both structures popped onto the evolutionary scene simultaneously.

To investigate this puzzle, biologists led by Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon reconstructed an ancestral receptor. They first analyzed receptors for steroid hormones in 59 species, including primitive jawless fish and skates. Then, in a process called gene resurrection, they worked backward to infer what the gene for the ancestral receptor was, and actually made the receptor in the lab: a molecule that last existed on earth 450 million years ago.

Testing various hormones on the ancestral receptor, the scientists found that both aldosterone and another one fit. The ancestral receptor, therefore, was fully employed acting as the keyhole for this second hormone. When aldosterone appeared on the scene by random mutation, it co-opted the existing receptor, the researchers conclude in today's issue of Science.

The findings, says Christoph Adami of the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, Claremont, Calif., "solidly refute" ID.

But refutation is in the eye of the beholder. No scientific discovery will end the evolution wars. For one thing, adherents of ID call the fact that scientists are studying reducible-complexity at all a victory for their side. "We're delighted they're engaging in a debate that they say doesn't exist," says Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which pushes ID. Moreover, he says, the hormone-receptor system is not really irreducibly complex.

The trouble for ID is that this isn't the first study to show, step by step, how complex structures could have evolved. Recent experiments have shown how irreducibly complex structures such as bacterial flagella and the lens of an eye could have evolved by co-opting existing structures just as the hormone did. More such research is in the pipeline.

Whatever happened to Don LePre?

He's selling vitamins. And not just any vitamins, but vegetarian vitamins made with shark cartillage and bovine collustrum, with god knows what for the gelatin capsules.

So there.

And I bet he's actually selling them.

Yes, but...

I see that Timothy Sandefur has posted a piece on libel law and Mims.

I wouldn't be surprised if Pianka's another story in this regard though; I mean, a) Mims (and Dembski?) either implied that Pianka advocated a holocaust or he didn't, and b) Pianka did get death threats.

I'd submit that if point "a)" is patently, and obviously false, and "b)" indicates damages, Pianka's case against Mims is pretty strong.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer and don't play one on TV

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Away from herself?


WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago on Sunday, Condoleezza Rice got up at 4 a.m. so she could fit in her daily exercise regimen — weights and the treadmill — and still have time to prepare for interviews on three morning news programs. Just a few hours later, on "Meet the Press," Tim Russert confronted her with recent reports that shortly after the invasion of Iraq, the Russians had given intelligence on American troop movements to the Iraqis. Even on the normally sympathetic "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace asked her why Americans should not be outraged that United States troops continue to fight and die while Iraqi politicians haggle over jobs...

But late that afternoon, Ms. Rice was back home in her comfortable apartment in the Watergate complex for one of her frequent sessions of chamber music with four friends, lawyers by profession and dedicated amateur string players...

Ms. Rice is an accomplished pianist. At 15 she performed Mozart's Piano Concerto in D minor with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, her prize for winning a student competition. Until college she intended to pursue music professionally. Now 51, she plays as often as every other week with this group, which convened three years ago. Until now it was a realm of her very public life that she kept private.

People often ask her, Ms. Rice said that day, whether playing chamber music is relaxing. "It's not exactly relaxing if you are struggling to play Brahms," she explained. "But it is transporting. When you're playing there is only room for Brahms or Shostakovich. It's the time I'm most away from myself, and I treasure it."

I'd say that's why she's an amateur, but then again I'm no music professional either.

But when I do play, it's not like I'm away from myself at all.

Utter nonsense...

Hey, Washington Post, I was 37 years old in 1994. I wasn't a kid.

I remember that the Repubs cooked up and wailed about all kinds of nonsense to discredit the Democrats.

So when you refer to a "1994 resolution," I have to say that you're quite full of it.

In case you didn't notice ....

No real posting today. My 5th wedding anniversary.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Buddhist thought experiment re: Pianka

The creationists are in high dudgeon over Eric Pianka's somewhat Cassandra-like warnings regarding over-population exhausting resources on this planet and "natures revenge." (Dare I call his warnings "shrill?" That would imply that the complaint is "unpleasant" to some listeners, but not necessarily false. Kinda like Krugman.)

Anyway, it occurs to me that it's quite easy to show one way or another what Pianka is saying- as if it needs to be said: consider what you consume: the water, the coffee, the gasoline, the soap, the plastic, the food, the electricity, etc. in a single day. Consider what you throw out. Consider what you excrete. Consider what you buy, and how much money you spend.

In Soto Zen temples, at meal times, in order to cultivate mindfulness and compassion, the participants say, "Seventy-two labors brought us this food. We should know how it comes to us." Now 72 is a metaphor, of course (I can forgive Condi Rice on her "thousands of mistakes" statement for a similar reason, plus she was speaking off the top of her head. Not that thousands of mistakes weren't made. But I digress).

But for all we consume, there's a web of other things that have been consumed to bring us what we consume; some of it is what others consume of course, but some is consumed merely to bring us what we consume.

So lots of stuff is consumed.

How much?

It is undeniable that the world's resources are finite. When will the collective ecological footprint of humanity exceed the ability of the earth to sustain it?

Some Christians think Jesus is coming soon. I think this is wishful thinking; regardless of whether or not there's a Jesus coming, without changing the way we do things there would inevitably be some kind of crash coming.

And, incidentally, Jerome a Paris does for copper today what he's done for oil.

Interesting coincidence.

Pianka speaks


and here.

Dembski sounding like Bill O'Reilly mixed with 1/10 part math major, and a dash of Steve Colbert not knowing he's a comedian, claims he was "scooped."

On another note, I seem to remember testifying opposite Hillis before the Texas State Board of Education regarding misrepresentations of the evidence for evolutionary theory in high school biology textbooks. It just seems we can’t see eye to eye on anything — first evolution and now Ebola.

No, Dembski, it's not a matter of opinion: either Pianka advocated genocide, as you claim he did, or he didn't. The latter hypothesis is consistent with what we've already seen.

It's rather a matter of slander, libel and defamation.

And it's a matter of sullying someone's good name.

Pianka has reported being harassed and getting death threats, so damages there are.

It's time the danger of folks like Dembski was addressed.