July 2006, Part 1
Jim Miller on Politics
Just In Case You Missed It, here's how the New York Times would have covered Paul Revere's ride. (In advance, of course.)
- 3:24 PM, 8 July 2006 [link]
Chris Mazur spots an experiment that will rank in importance with Michelson-Morley — for some people. (And if you meet one of those people, do not try to reason with them. Instead, step away slowly.)
- 12:40 PM, 8 July 2006 [link]
Dorm Room Entertainment Centers: While looking for a laptop computer for myself, I found, somewhat to my surprise, that many of them are not intended to be used as portable computers. Instead, they are designed as entertainment centers for college students, and probably high school students as well.
Why do I say that? Because of their specifications. Almost all of them, however inexpensive, can play music CDs and movie DVDs. Almost all of them, however inexpensive, have a headphone jack. Almost all of them, however inexpensive, allow you to play CDs and DVDs without booting up Windows. Almost all of them, however inexpensive, have a connection for a TV.
Then there is the bundled software. The laptops almost always come with a program or two to make music CDs. Compaq and HP laptops almost all include a program to make movies. The laptops typically come with "productivity" software as well, but in cutdown versions, Microsoft Works, for example, instead of Microsoft Office.
Most telling of all, to my mind, is that many (most?) of the inexpensive laptops do not have adequate batteries. For instance, this Toshiba laptop will operate for "Up to 1.5 hours" on its standard battery. (A additional battery would probably add about a hundred dollars to the cost.)
Can you use these laptops as computers, too? Sure, even the inexpensive ones, though the models with less than 512 megabytes of memory might be rather slow.
- 10:44 AM, 8 July 2006 [link]
Does Jack Shafer Believe in Democracy? I suppose that Slate's press critic does, but you wouldn't know it from this column. After a tendentious review of the quarrel between the Bush administration and the New York Times over the Times' revelation of still another secret program for catching terrorists, Shafer ends with this:
But instead of convening such a debate, Bush wants us to trust him. I'd rather trust Bill Keller.Let me make the first point as simple as I can. You don't debate secret programs because that reveals them to the enemy. Is that too hard to understand? Apparently, for Shafer, it is.
The second point is more fundamental. I can think of many editors, even some who have worked for the New York Times, who I would trust more than I trust Bill Clinton. But it never occurred to me to think that those editors, rather than Clinton, had the right to declassify information while Clinton was president.
It is not a matter of who I trust, or who Shafer trusts, but who won the election. Is that too hard to understand? Apparently, for Shafer, it is.
Shafer is not the only journalist who believes that journalists are aristocrats, with the power to over ride elected officials. There was another example in an (unintentionally) hilarious editorial in the Seattle Times last weekend, which I wrote about here. I don't entirely understand why so many journalists think they are aristocrats, with special rights. Maybe Shafer can explain that to us, in a future column. In the mean time, I urge him to read some elementary piece explaining how democracy works.
(Read this Patterico post for one example of just how tendentious Shafer's column is. You won't have much trouble finding other examples, if you read the whole column.
Finally, though it is irrelevant to the question of who has the authority to classify information, I would say that I would trust Bill Keller more than George Bush on sentence punctuation, but not much else. The more I read or hear Keller's explanations, the less I trust him on matters of national security.)
- 7:56 AM, 8 July 2006 [link]
Baffling: Just ordered a laptop computer from Office Depot, and got a deal that makes no sense to me. Briefly, Hewlett-Packard is offering a special rebate if you buy a printer, or in this case an all-in-one printer, scanner, and copier, along with the computer. But they are also offering a rebate on the AIO that completely covers its cost. In short, I save 200 dollars if I accept a free AIO along with the computer.
Now I can see how this deal makes sense for me, but I can not see how it makes sense for HP, especially since I don't plan to use the AIO, so HP will not sell me any ink cartridges. (But if one of my relatives wants the AIO, they may buy some ink cartridges.) Oh well, even though it doesn't make sense to me, I can't see how I can lose on the deal.
(For those interested in the details, here's the HP dv8000z laptop I ordered. I added just one upgrade, an 80 gigabyte hard drive instead of the base 60 gigabyte drive. And here's the HP 1410 which will come with it.
On the top right of this brochure you can see the Office Depot special that I just ordered. After taxes, shipping, and the 330 dollars in rebates, I will pay a little less than 650 dollars for the laptop and the AIO. Which is not a bad price for a laptop with a 17 inch screen and a full keyboard. The weight is not terrible, just over 8 pounds.
By the way, one thing I learned while I was looking for laptops is that the big box stores have significantly different policies on returns. Circuit City and Office Depot say you have two weeks to return the system for a full refund. Best Buy gives you the same two weeks, but charges you a 15 percent restocking fee. And CompUSA will give you your full refund within two weeks, but only as a store credit. It is apparently quite common for the stores to have different return policies for laptops than for most of their merchandise.)
- 12:47 PM, 7 July 2006 [link]
Were The North Koreans Aiming Near Hawaii? That's what a Japanese newspaper said.
A North Korean missile launched on Wednesday was aimed at an area of the ocean close to Hawaii, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday.(The Sankei Shimbun is the sixth largest newspaper in Japan. According to Wikipedia, the newspaper is generally anti-Communist and friendly to the United States.)
- 6:16 AM, 7 July 2006 [link]
Are We At War? Opinions differ. As Charles Krauthammer points out, a bare majority of the Supreme Court thinks we are not.
But no matter. Logic has little place here. The court has decreed: There is no war — or we will pretend so — and henceforth it shall be conducted by the court. G—d save the United States. (This honorable court can fend for itself.)Others, mostly on the left, think that we are at war, but that it is entirely a war of choice, that President Bush could, tomorrow, end the war if he wished. This neglects historical trivia such as Osama bin Laden's declaration of war on the United States, long before Bush became president, the attacks on US embassies in Africa and the USS Cole, and other unpleasantries. It also neglects the first attack on the World Trade Center and Saddam Hussein's continued firing at our aircraft. (Oddly, those who willfully ignore these unpleasant facts sometimes call themselves "realists".)
Still others think that we are at war, but that we can conduct the war as if we are at peace. That, as far as I can tell, is the position of the New York Times, which has carried on its campaign against the Bush administration as if the stakes were pork barrel projects, or something similar, rather than life and death. And so the journalists at the New York Times (and most other "mainstream" newspapers) are proceeding as if their revelations of secret programs have no consequences, other than to embarrass an administration that they despise.
Those trained in the law often take a similar position to our "mainstream" journalists. We are at war, but we need not change anything in our vast legal system, which can be used to hamper the war effort. That will be endlessly entertaining to law professors, who, like our "mainstream" journalists, will not worry about the consequences of their actions.
James Pinkerton wonders whether we can win a war with these handicaps.
The leaks 'n' lawyers crowd scored yet another victory over Bush last week, when the Supreme Court ruled against military tribunals for Guantánamo inmates. Reporters and editorialists cheered, but is it really good news that Congress and the country will be tied up on this issue for years to come? Let's put it another way: Does this ruling increase the likelihood that more al-Qaida terrorists will come spilling out of Gitmo? And where will they go, and what will they do?(Today's Michael Ramirez cartoon illustrates Pinkerton's argument neatly.)
And my own view? As I have said before, I think we are at war, that we have been at war for decades, and that I expect the war to last at least a century. And I have no doubts about our eventual victory.
But I do worry about the costs of this war, in treasure, and in blood. And as I have said before, the terrorists will teach us what this kind of war requires. So far, our journalists and law professors seem determined to ignore the lessons the terrorists are giving. By ignoring those lessons, they are increasing the costs of this war. Your children and grandchildren may pay for their mistakes.
- 5:53 AM, 7 July 2006 [link]
Was Ken Lay A Villain? In this New York Times $column, Joe Nocera claims that the former Enron chairman was not a villain, but a wishful thinker.
And in the end, it was his desire to see things as he wished them to be, not as they really are, that was his fatal flaw. He never really had the judgment a good chairman or chief executive has to have.And Nocera has many examples to support his argument.
(Lay's subordinates, Andrew Fastow and Jeffrey Skilling, are the main villains in the collapse of Enron. But Lay enabled them. For instance, he allowed Fastow to set up a partnership that dealt directly with Enron — in violation of the company's own conflict of interest rules, and common sense.)
- 3:23 PM, 6 July 2006 [link]
How Good Are The Climate Models? For several years, I have been telling you that there were weaknesses in the models used to predict global climate changes. Now, some experts have told the BBC the same thing.
For perspectives on these issues, BBC environment affairs analyst Roger Harrabin brought together a panel of seven eminent academics with expertise including climate modelling, the Antarctic, and social aspects of environment policy.Oddly enough, these statements are in the middle of an article which argues that global warming will be a disaster, though perhaps not a catastrophe.
So there you are. The experts contacted by the BBC agree that large areas are "substantially uncertain", and one of the experts believes that the models are so weak that scientists should not use them to make specific predictions.
By way of Tim Blair.
- 3:05 PM, 8 July 2006 [link]
Turning Carbon Dioxide Emissions Into Roses: That's what Shell and some 500 greenhouses are doing.
MAASLAND, the Netherlands — A few miles north of Rotterdam, in a region the Dutch call "glass city" for its thousands of greenhouses, gardeners like Frank van Os are part of an unconventional experiment by Royal Dutch Shell to curb carbon emissions.Does this make economic sense? Maybe, although the article is not clear on that point. Before he got the feed from Shell, van Os was creating his own carbon dioxide, so it might well make sense for both Shell and the greenhouses.
(Four million roses! Wonder how many he gives to his wife, if he is married, or to a girlfriend, if he is not.)
- 3:01 PM, 6 July 2006 [link]
Those Ongoing SWIFT Investigations: If true, this story shows just how irresponsible the New York Times was when they revealed our efforts to trace terrorist money through SWIFT.
According to Treasury and Justice Department officials familiar with the briefings their senior leadership undertook with editors and reporters from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the media outlets were told that their reports on the SWIFT financial tracking system presented risks for three ongoing terrorism financing investigations. Despite this information, both papers chose to move forward with their stories.(I say "If true" because the writer of this feature is anonymous, and is quoting anonymous officials. Almost certainly what they say is true, but we must be cautious about a story that is impossible for the ordinary person to check.)
Three investigations. Most likely the Treasury officials were after very bad guys, because it isn't an ordinary terrorist who moves large sums through SWIFT. And if these men are able to kill people, thanks to the warning they got from the New York Times, will anyone at our newspaper of record apologize? Or even feel a little sorry?
(This is not the first time that the New York Times may have spoiled a kill. In an angry review of their past sins, Deroy Murdock mentions these two examples:
• As Michelle Malkin recently reminded us, Judith Miller (of le affaire Plame fame) called the Holy Land Foundation in fall 2001, soon after 9/11, to seek "comment" on an anticipated federal freeze on their bank accounts. Such "government action was imminent," federal prosecutors say Miller told the charity's leaders. The FBI searched the allegedly terror-tied foundation's offices the day after the Times ran Miller's article. Learning that the heat was on, who knows what evidence terror suspects had hours to destroy?There does seem to be something of a pattern here.)
- 1:04 PM, 6 July 2006 [link]
The BBC Mask Slipped: The Biased BBC caught this remarkable example of a BBC presenter saying what he really thinks.
BBC Northern Ireland last night apologised after leading Radio Ulster presenter Gerry Anderson told his listeners he wanted George Bush "to rot in hell".As I said in the comments at Biased BBC, I rather like the fact that Anderson has not apologized. That may show honesty.
(Just a few posts down, the Biased BBC has another, far more typical example of bias. The presenter, Matt Frei, said: " . . . in the tropical island of Cuba lies the detention camp that is seen by many around the world as America's gulag." As I have said before, that's the trick often used by gossips, and by our "mainstream" media. A charge is made, but the person making it ties it to anonymous people, rather than making it openly themselves. It's a nasty rhetorical trick, whether it comes from a small town gossip, or a "mainstream" news organization.
The charge is absurd, of course, so absurd that the BBC should consider firing Frei for making it.
When I checked to see whether Gerry Anderson had apologized, I found this odd news summary from the BBC. Here is all they say about the story from the Belfast Telegraph:
The Belfast Telegraph leads with an apology by the BBC after Gerry Anderson made remarks about the US President George Bush, during his show on Radio Ulster on Tuesday.Most readers would want at least a hint about what Anderson said in those "remarks".)
- 7:27 AM, 6 July 2006 [link]
Need A Scorecard For The Mexican Elections? Here's one from the Washington Post
- 6:40 AM, 6 July 2006 [link]
Soccer Is Not My Favorite Sport, but I think this goes too far.
Islamist militiamen raided a cinema in central Somalia where viewers were watching a World Cup football match in contravention of Sharia law, killing two people including the cinema owner, witnesses said Wednesday.(If I can find time, I will do a more serious post on Somalia soon. For now, I will just note that the CIA was apparently backing the secular warlords there — and failed, again.)
- 6:29 AM, 6 July 2006 [link]
WWFFD? Richard Brookhiser has some answers to that question. For instance:
Illegal immigration, for example, is a red-hot issue today, but the first immigration debates go back more than 200 years. In 1798, Congress passed and President John Adams signed the Alien Act, a law allowing the president to deport dangerous aliens on his own say-so, without trial. The stimulus was an influx of refugees from Ireland and France — countries undergoing political turmoil that many founders feared would be brought to the U.S. by the new immigrants. Rep. Harrison Gray Otis of Massachusetts, for example, warned in Congress of "hordes of wild Irishmen" coming here "to disturb our tranquillity."I will resist the temptation — barely — to say that the Kennedy family has shown that Otis was right to be worried.
- 3:24 PM, 5 July 2006 [link]
Worth Reading: Michael Barone has been live blogging the Mexican election. Here's his tentative conclusion.
I assume that the official canvass beginning Wednesday will declare Calderón the winner by about 1 percent of the vote. López Obrador and the PRD may try to discredit the result, but absent proof of irregularities much greater than have so far been alleged they will have a hard time succeeding. Nevertheless, while this is a defeat for the left—following recent defeats for the left in Peru and Colombia—it can hardly be said to be an overwhelming victory for the center-right (I leave aside the argument that some friends in Mexico make that PAN should be considered a party of the center-left).Not an overwhelming victory, but good news for Mexico, and for the United States.
You can find his earlier posts on the election here and here.
(You may want to compare Barone's blog entries to the stories by the Associated Press, and the New York Times. If you do, you will find that Barone has a far better analysis, and that he is less partisan in his account of the election. It may seem strange to say that he is less partisan, but if you look at the two stories from the "mainstream" media, you will see that they are both written from the point of view of the leftist candidate, Obrador, that is, from the point of view of the loser. And written, I would say, by journalists who hope that Obrador can overturn the result.)
- 8:12 AM, 5 July 2006
More: On the other hand, the New York Times does include a map with this earlier article on the election. The map shows that Calderón carried every Mexican state that touches the United States.
That pattern appears to conflict with Porfirio Díaz's famous lament: "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!" As I understand it, the closer a Mexican is to the United States, the more likely he is to be prosperous — and the more likely he is to vote for the more moderate party, Calderón's National Action Party (PAN).
- 10:08 AM, 5 July 2006
Still More: Michael Barone does not have a map, but in his latest blog entry, he has an extensive analysis of the vote by region. Here's a key section:
Most Americans see Mexico's big border cities as impoverished and hopeless. But in fact they are places of upward mobility and economic growth. Voters in the border states solidly rejected López Obrador's promises of economic redistribution and renegotiation of NAFTA. This was true, even a little more so, of voters in the North. In cities like Querétaro, Guanajuato, León, and Guadalajara, people enjoy a way of life that is evolving toward something like Texas. The states of the North produced a popular vote plurality for Calderón that came close to canceling out López Obrador's plurality in metro Mexico City.But if you are an election junkie, like me, you will want to read the whole thing.
- 3:14 PM, 5 July 2006 [link]
The Story Of This New American Is Touching: But if you read whole thing, you will see that the Seattle Times left something out.
What the Seattle Times left out, as they almost always do in these touching stories about the lost boys of Sudan, is the identity of the attackers — Arab Muslims. Who have been attacking and enslaving the blacks in Sudan for centuries, beginning almost with the founding of Islam. They were interrupted, as far as I know, only by the half century of British rule over the Sudan.
I sometimes wonder whether the Seattle Times has a rule against mentioning Muslims in these stories, or whether their staff is so politically correct that they omit that central fact automatically.Cross posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.
- 7:13 AM, 5 July 2006 [link]
The Vatican now wants reciprocity.
[Secretary of the Vatican's supreme court Monsignor Velasio De] Paolis is hardly alone in his thinking; indeed, the Catholic Church is undergoing a dramatic shift from a decades-old policy to protect Catholics living under Muslim rule. The old methods of quiet diplomacy and muted appeasement have clearly failed. The estimated 40 million Christians in Dar al-Islam, notes the Barnabas Fund's Patrick Sookhdeo, increasingly find themselves an embattled minority facing economic decline, dwindling rights, and physical jeopardy. Most of them, he goes on, are despised and distrusted second-class citizens, facing discrimination in education, jobs, and the courts.The modern Catholic Church has been slow to accept these unpleasant facts, but the church is ahead of most other Western institutions.
I don't think that the Vatican will have much luck in getting reciprocity. Too many Muslims reject the idea that now seems to natural to Westerners, that all religions should be treated equally. And they have rejected that idea ever since Mohammed. But the Vatican is right to try.
(I first wrote about this change in Vatican policy in February.)
- 5:23 AM, 5 July 2006
More: In contrast, the Church of England is contemplating more appeasement.
His dragon-slaying heroics have kept his legend alive through the centuries.And appeasement that the average Englishman will most likely find both offensive and silly. (Those who say that St. George never existed may have a better argument than the appeasers.)
- 6:40 AM, 5 July 2006 [link]
Mountain Majesty: For the 4th of July, another picture of Mt. Rainier, taken yesterday.
I wore hiking boots, but there was enough snow yesterday so that I might have been a little better off with cross country skis. Either will work, at least for the next week or so. If you have kids who like to play in the snow, this would be a great time to take them to Rainier.
If you do visit Rainier, you should know that there is a shortage of parking spaces at Paradise, on the south side of the mountain. At least there is a shortage if you arrive in the middle of the day on a weekend, as most visitors do. When I got to the park entrance yesterday at about eight in the morning, there was one car in the pay lane and none in the pass lane. When I left at about one in the afternoon, there was a line of cars at least a half mile long at the same entrance. (And, of course, the hiking and skiing are better earlier in the day, and you are far more likely to get good pictures in the morning (and late in the day) than in the middle of the day.)
Cross posted at Sound Politics.(The picture is a panorama, stitched together from five separate pictures. The stitching software, which came with my Olympus C-765, works well — as long as I hold the camera level as I take the original pictures.)
- 4:11 PM, 4 July 2006 [link]
Happy Fourth Of July! And thank you to the veterans who made it possible.
(The picture was taken during Kirkland's 4th of July parade just a few hours ago.)
- 3:19 PM, 4 July 2006 [link]
A Muddy Stew, Indeed: For sheer entertainment — assuming that you are entertained by a journalist making a fool of himself — it is hard to beat the lead editorial in today's Seattle Times.
Here's the first sentence:
What an inept metaphor for a democracy! Have you ever considered cooking and then eating a mix of "the judiciary, Congress, the executive and the press"? Neither have I, and I have never met anyone who did. (And I can't help but wonder which ingredient adds the mud?)
Many of you will have already noticed that the writer left out an "ingredient" that some of us think important. As I am sure you recall, the Constitution begins with "We the People of the United States". There are scholars — though this may come as a surprise to the editorial writer — who think that the people, especially when we vote, have something to do with that democracy "stew". But the editorial never even mentions voters or citizens.
Almost as bizarre as leaving voters out of the democracy "stew" is the elevation of the press to equal standing with the three traditional branches of government. For the benefit of the editorial writer, I will quote the one place that the press is mentioned in the Constitution, the First Amendment:
A straightforward reading of the amendment shows that the press is protected, but no more than the speech of any citizen, and no more than peaceful assemblies and petitions.
In contrast, as every junior high school student should know, the first three articles of the Constitution are devoted to, respectively, the congress, the presidency, and the judiciary. Article 4 is not about the press, but about the states.
There are other bits of the editorial that deserve similar analyses, but I will leave the rest of it to you. Have fun!Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 5:18 PM, 2 July 2006 [link]
Is Mt. St. Helens Creating Giant Mutant Flies? Here's the evidence.
As it happens, I have evidence that Mt. St. Helens may have been creating giant mutant flies, earlier, though the picture isn't as clear as one would like.
(The official Mt. St. Helens site has some interesting, and sometimes surprising, pictures.)
- 2:59 PM, 1 July 2006 [link]
Happy Birthday, Canada! They're 139, but don't look a day over 39. On my walk to get lunch, I found that others in Kirkland are celebrating Canada Day, too.
Here's a list of 139 reasons to love Canada, most of them trivial, and many of them silly. I would give just one reason; Canada is one of the most civilized nations ever. And as we see barbarism around the world, we should realize just how great an accomplishment that is.
Today is a good day to say this: Thank you, Canada, for your support in Afghanistan. And thank you for your wonderful record in World War II.
- 2:35 PM, 1 July 2006 [link]