Sunday, October 29, 2006

Weekend Looking Around

I've spent a relatively quiet weekend; on Saturday, I went shopping, and, unbelievably, actually spent money, something I'm usually disinclined to do.

Today, my asthma is flaring up, so I'm pumping in meds every two hours. Hopefully, I'll be better by tomorrow. If not, I'll make an appointment with my doctor.

TV sucks today, so I'm catching up on blogs I don't usually have the time to vist every day. One of those is The Smallest Minority, whose post I'm exerpting below is classic:
We must understand that the ideals of Lockean philosophy must yield to objective reality when objective reality rears its ugly head.

All societies are defined by their philosophies, and their philosophies are, in effect, shared delusions. When placed in conflict, objective reality highlights the flaws in those philosophies, and makes them obvious. If the society will not recognize the flaws and take pragmatic steps to counter their effects, that society will most probably be on the losing side of the conflict. AFTER the conflict that society can once again resume its suspended belief, or it can continue on in some changed form. Americans dropped firebombs on German cities and firebombs and nuclear weapons on Japanese cities, killing tens of thousands of innocent children. Then we helped rebuild Japan and Germany into economic powerhouses - powerhouses that far better protect the rights of their citizens than the old societies did.

The point of the whole rights discussion has been one of pragmatism vs. absolutism. Islam is an absolutist religion. So is communism/socialism. The American belief in individual rights tends very hard towards absolutism, but it has been flexible and pragmatic enough to survive the Civil War and two World Wars without deforming too far. Western culture is being attacked from within and without by absolutists who accuse it of falseness because of the fact that we have acted against the absolute requirements of our stated creed. Unless we believe as a society that what we fight for are ideals - things worth believing in - and not self-evident, absolute, positive, unquestionable, fundamental ultimates, then we run the risk of losing the conflict because we won't make the pragmatic concessions necessary to survive.
He was talking about WWII, when we made the difficult decision to target civilians. There have been 2nd-guessers since that time, who have shrilly argued that, if we don't hold the line and keep to our principles at ALL costs, we will have lost the battle, anyway.

I cannot agree. I'm not a philosophical type - I am frankly bored by endless blatherings about abstract principles. I'm the pragmatic type - get the job done, and never mind the details. I tend to gravitate to those with similar mindsets - think of them as the John McLane types - if your motives are good, faggadabout how the job is accomplished.



Such an attitude drives the purists to absolute insanity - they want to use logic as a tool to enforce their elegantly-reasoned and totally logical worldviews. Think of them as Spocks. Not the Dr., the Vulcan.



Need I mention that logic is often of limited use in dealing with the human species?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Vatican Hack Unsuccessful

I find this strange, but ultimately funny. Apparently a group of Muslim hackers attempted to bring down the Vatican computers. They were unsuccessful. Apparently, they were ticked off about the Pope's speech on Islam, and its need to be more tolerant. But the Vatican is protected by Michael - no, not the Archangel, the firewall.

I found the picture below on The Curt Jester, a great site that pokes some fun at Catholic practices in a loving way.

Torture - A Necessary Evil?

Over at Against The Grain, I found a fascinating post discussing the uses of torture, and whether it was an acceptable technique, according to Catholic theology. Torture, described as the deliberate infliction of pain, is compared with corporal punishment, and put into context for Catholics.

Contrary to many of the "peace and non-violence" crowd, the Catholic Church hasn't taken a stand against every type of violence. The underlying issue is what is the intent of the person who is either injuring someone, or at the most extreme, killing them (which, in SOME cases, is not contrary to Church teachings).

Take the case of capital punishment. Catholics are permitted to vote, as a member of the jury, for the death penalty. Several things are necessary:

  • There must be overwhelming evidence of the person's guilt (fulfilling the "reasonable doubt" condition). Since the penalty is so severe, the juror must be convinced that the person is truly guilty - not just go along with the other jurors to avoid a hung jury.
  • The crime must be a grave one. This would rule out the death penalty for less-than death crimes, unless it involved severe injury to the victim.
  • The crime must have been deliberate. Accidental deaths, however many were involved, don't count, unless it rises to a level of "depraved indifference".

Similarly, corporal punishment is not forbidden. Parents and other caregivers may spank, TEMPORARILY withhold food (sending a child to bed without supper), or use physical means to impose their will, as long as the intent is to change the child's behavior, and the punishment is appropriate to the offense. That means a swat (or several) on the backside is OK. Beating a child with a stick for over 10 minutes would not be.

I seldom used corporal punishment. It just wasn't as effective as other means after a few years. Most kids older than pre-school know what they should be doing, and realize that they are transgressing. At that point, what any punishment should be doing is building up their conscience and helping them to acquire the moral awareness and character to resist indulging their selfish wants.

BTW, you could argue that the same is true of adult criminals. But they are harder to change by that point.

Torture designed to get reliable information is a more troubled concept. It is tied to the belief that preventing a greater evil allows the perpetrator to use the torture in an effort to get that information. Now, moral individuals will probably be troubled by use of torture. That's a good thing - they should be. Deliberately hurting someone should cause some guilt. If the use of torture is limited to the most extreme cases, when all other means have failed, it can fairly be argued that, in a moral sense, the torturer can be forgiven his action.

So, the major question, at this time, is whether torture gets reliable information. I'm not convinced it always does. That's why I'd like to see the majority of interrogations use persuasion, bribery, and other techniques - such as "good cop, bad cop". Getting the perp to believe that you understand him is simply more effective that hammering on him. Having said that, it's obvious that playing sympathic friend won't work for all bad boys. There are times when sterner actions will be necessary.

One thing I've found is that torture is LESS effective on people brought up in a culture of pain. That is, if the person has experienced physical punishment of a severe nature, inflicting, or threatening to add to that history is something they can resist - easily.

What breaks those people is love and understanding. It absolutely gets them to give in and spill the beans, almost always.

So, we need, as a nation, to keep our options open. For the sake of our interrogators, we need to spell out what is OK, and what is not. We also need to carefully limit who is authorized to use the more extreme measures.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Guard the Borders - A Little Late

Beheadings Aren't Just For Islamists Anymore

By Toni at Bear Creek Ledger

Those pro-illegal aliens should be paying attention to what's happening with the drug cartels south of the border. This is what we in the US have to look forward to if there isn't something done to control our southern borders.


We also have Venezuela's Chavez giving legal ID's to members of Hezbollah and Hamas but he is also assisting their efforts to become proficient in Spanish to help these terrorists to infiltrate the US.

Here's a story that is definitely not been publicized on the front page but should be since these drug cartels are controlling many areas of our southern border. I am getting to the point of believing the US should be placing active duty troops on our southern border to protect us. There is an assault and invasion occurring today that has been ignored and local law enforcement doesn't have a prayer against these drug cartels. And don't tell me about "posse comitatus"! These troops would be attacking foreign invaders.

From the Modern Tribalist is a story from ContraCostaTimes:


For all the beefed-up enforcement along the border, the militialike group of drug cartel enforcers known as the Zetas appears stronger than ever, a result of better training, successful recruiting in Central America and continued desertions from the Mexican military, U.S. intelligence officials say.

The Zetas have again become entrenched in Nuevo Laredo, and they practically control the movement of people through an intricate web of spies, checkpoints and skillful use of technology, provoking an extraordinary cross-border human exodus, U.S. and Mexican authorities say.

Last year, U.S. and Mexican authorities reported that the number of Zetas was falling rapidly, the result of both government pressure and ongoing warfare with rival cartels. But the shadowy group of elite former military officers, soldiers and others has now grown to more than 500 nationwide, with hundreds more in a support network throughout the country, U.S. officials said. Some of those networks are deepening their ties to Texas cities, including Houston and Dallas, with the help of Texas gang members.

A shootout late Friday between Zetas and members of the Mexican military - reportedly acting on tips from the Sinaloa cartel - involved grenades and bazookas in a residential neighborhood of Nuevo Laredo, U.S. authorities said. The firefight killed four people suspected of drug trafficking - believed to be Zetas - and injured at least four others, authorities said.


The report could not be independently confirmed.

The Zetas, enforcers of the gulf cartel, are battling rival members of the Sinaloa cartel for drug distribution routes, including the Interstate 35 corridor into Texas.

U.S. authorities said the gulf cartel has established training camps in the states of Tamaulipas - its base of operations - and Nuevo Leon, both of which border Texas, and in the central state of Michoacan. The organization is recruiting former Guatemalan special forces military personnel known as Kaibiles and members of the notorious cross border gangs known as Maras, including the violent Mara Salvatruchas with ties to El Salvador.

"The resiliency and determination of these criminals are beyond anything I have seen in my years in U.S. law enforcement," said one U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They're tough, and they won't break easily. They pose a serious threat to Mexico and to security along the border."

Be sure to read the rest of the article to fully realize the threat we are facing.

Beheadings are becoming the new tactical choice of these terrorists/drug cartels and the US is allowing this to be imported with impunity to the US. For those who are planning travel to Mexico you better be sure of where you're going because Mexico is not a safe country for travel.


Mexico City -- To send a chilling message to their underworld rivals, Mexican drug cartels are adopting a method of intimidation made notorious by Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

Already this year, at least 26 people have been decapitated in Mexico, with heads stuck on fences, dumped in trash piles and -- most recently -- tossed onto a nightclub dance floor.

Although beheading goes back centuries as a form of execution, it has become the latest tactical escalation of a turf war that gets nastier all the time, with hit men looking for new ways to instill fear.

"Before, they tortured the hell out of people, but they didn't throw their heads out in public," said James Kuykendall, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Why this form of murder and mutilation is being used now is anyone's guess.

Beheadings have had a high international profile in recent years, as the tool of radical Islamist groups that release videos of hostages being executed.

In Mexico, as crime bosses fall and turf shifts, the pattern of killing is changing.

This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we're going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to admin at guardtheborders dot com.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Isn't this rewarding slave-owners?

I found this reference at FoxNews.com
Abdel-Nasser Youssef Ibrahim, 45, was sentenced to three years in prison, and his former wife, Amal Ahmed Ewis Abdel-Motelib, 43, received a 22-month sentence. U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ordered the pair to pay restitution of $76,173 to the girl, who is now 16 years old, for the work she performed.

Ibrahim and his ex-wife each pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy, holding a person in involuntary servitude through force or coercion, obtaining labor through unlawful force or coercion and harboring an illegal alien.
OK, let me see if I understand this:

They bring an illegal alien - who is, BTW, 10 years old - to this country, take away her passport, and force her to clean their house and take care of their 5 children.

She is a prisoner in their home, living in squalor.

He gets 3 years in prison, his wife gets just under 2 years. And they have to pay $38,000 for their 2-year enslavement of a pre-adolescent?

Is that a financial bargain? Heck, the reparations people are asking even more than that - for people who weren't even slaves!

Count on it - we're going to see more of these cases in the future - owning a slave sounds like the bargain of the century!

What a pathetic excuse for a judge.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Can't Believe They Are So Bold in Planning This!

When I first found this link, I apparently misread it. I read it as an official report of the House Judiciary Committee.

No.

It's theFinal Investigative Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, that's all. Now, does that read like a report from a partisan part of the committee, or an attempt to masquerade as an official document?

It outlines the plan to shove through an impeachment trial for President Bush. The leadership of the House (Pelosi) has said that option is "off the table". But, she also will be looking at investigating Bush's actions. Would that include impeachment? She won't say yes, and she won't say no.

How coy.

What's the motivation? To secure Clinton's place in the history books as a picked-upon victim of a vicious Republican cabal. If several presidents are impeached, what's the big deal? It makes that pesky trial hardly worth mentioning.



I found a particular piece of egregious nonsense:
implicate the President or other officials implicated by pending investigations -- Congress should consider legislation, such as H.R. 5961, requiring that the President notify Congress of the pardon of any individual who is or was an Administration official. The notification should include the nature of the pardon and the effects it might have on any pending investigations. Such legislation is needed to allow for full disclosure should the President pardon individuals as a means of preventing an investigation from running its course and, perhaps, uncovering information critical of the administration.
Yeah, like Billy Boy never used the pardon to keep his cronies from talking and possibly implicating him.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Catching Up

I traveled to Savannah yesterday afternoon. Arrived back home around 8pm, with my laptop. It was a tiring trip, but well worth it - I now have a usable laptop - I mean, notebook. That's apparently the current lingo.

It's a Gateway, about the same footprint as my HP, but LOTS lighter in weight. I've been busy today (most of the students were testing) with installing software. I'll probably be doing that for the next few weeks - I really had a lot of utilities on the previous one.

This is a nice break tonight - tomorrow we have parent meetings, but don't have to go into work until 11am. I figure I'll head to Curves first thing in the am. For me, sleeping late means lolling around until 7:30.

There's not a lot of major interest going on right now. The election coverage, so far, seems to favor Democrats. I hear a lot of smug assumption that the Dems will be taking over Congress. It's possible. But, not sure.

In my experience (I've been voting for the last 35 years), calling the election too early is a mistake. It's sorta like the team heading in before that easy pop-up actually lands in the glove. You look like an idiot when it lands in the dirt.

Rather surprisingly, the Foley scandal isn't budging many people's minds. The Dems are slavering over the juicy details, but most Republicans and Independents are withholding judgement.

The war is foremost in everyone's mind - good news is sparse, and the enemy (what a quaint word) seems to be willing to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the battle. Especially when they can take out those big, bad women and children.

How brave.

I've come to the belief that many in the Muslim world just don't think like us - surprise, surprise. I first had that feeling a few years when some bizarre Japanese custom hit the headlines.

Both Japan and the Muslim world isolate themselves from influences outside of their xenophobic environment. As a result, they often have little in common, culturally, with the rest of the industrialized world.

In Western culture, to hide behind women and children is despicable, cowardly, and shameful.

In Muslim cultures, it's a dandy idea, and a swell way to keep the infidel from firing back.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Noonan Fan Club Day

Peggy Noonan mentions 4 different episodes of anti-Free Speech activity in the last 10- days.
It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.
Yeah, that's the ticket.

That's really what I object to in the current political climate. It's that dogged, I-will-have-my-say attitude, coupled with you-better-shut-up for their opponents.

I confess. I sometimes, in the heat of my passion for a topic, take over the floor, and fail to relinquish it. I like to think that I wouldn't rush the stage, as the Columbia students did, nor try to censor speech because the speaker mentions God.

Rosie, I won't deal with. She's the token loud-mouth ignorant, self-righteous fool. Who, unfortunately, uses her gayness as a club - you disagree with her? You must be homophobic - AND want all gays in concentration camps.

Right. And the fact that she gets in your face is just "style". Any words above a whisper are "yelling" when they are issued from a non-adoring mouth. Don't believe me? Check out the video yourself. What is disturbing about The View's debate is that everybody except Elizabeth Hasselbeck seems to accept gun control as necessary - and, by gun control, they mean, unless you can persuade the government that you have a reason to have a gun, your right to bear arms is revoked.

Let me be clear. I don't own guns. I don't use guns. I do know a little about guns, as my dad had them, for protection. He taught us to use them, then put them away. The few times I was allowed to shoot one, I did better than my brother. Mom, every careful to preserve her children's self-esteem, cautioned me to "let him win". Not bloody likely - I was always a competitive devil.

But I recognize that gun ownership is crucial for defense of rights, whether against burglars, rapists, or the government.

During that View segment, nobody directly addressed Hasselbeck's issue of 2nd Amendment rights. They talked about "the children", they derided the ownership of semi-automatic weapons, they mentioned the Brady Bill, and they talked about guns falling into criminal hands.

What they didn't talk about, and tried to keep Hasselbeck from debating, was the essential issue - do we, as Americans, have gun ownership rights?

The Constitution says we do.

Republicans: Will They Stay or Go?

An article in the Washington Post, no conservative mouthpiece, says that the GOP results in this next election won't be as gloomy as predicted.
party operatives say Rove is predicting that, at worst, Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats -- shy of the 15-seat threshold that would cede control to Democrats for the first time since the 1994 elections and probably hobble the balance of Bush's second term.

In the Senate, Rove and associates believe, a Democratic victory would require the opposition to "run the table," as one official put it, to pick up the necessary six seats -- a prospect the White House seems to regard as nearly inconceivable.
The Washington Post article seems to think that Rove and Bush are blowing smoke, at best, in an effort to stem a likely stampede. I don't think I agree. My hunch is that master strategist Rove wouldn't put his reputation on the line in a doubtful case.
The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence -- based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command -- or of self-delusion. Even many Republicans suspect the latter. Three GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, though they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides.
It's not just public opinion that counts. Many, many Americans spout off about politics. Relatively few vote. Especially in mid-term elections. That's when the party faithful make the difference.
The RNC is also planning another big get-out-the-vote drive in the final three days before the elections. Rove believes that many of the polls in individual House and Senate races understate what he expects to be a GOP advantage in turnout, according to one party strategist who has heard him discuss the midterms.
Democrats are also hindered by their well-known mobility. Put simply, they are more likely to have moved, thus invalidating their vote if they didn't change their residence since the last election. A substantial number of last elections' new voters may not be able to be found for get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Foley scandal may have hit the headlines too early to negatively affect the election. Timing is everything.

The New Anointed One



I'm from Cleveland, where for several years, the talk around town was Lebron James, the Original Anointed One.

Now, according to Time and other MSM pundits, Barack Obama, the Senator from Illinois, may be coaxed into assuming his rightful role as the Democrat standard-bearer. As CNN.com puts it:
The question of when Obama -- who has not yet served two years in the U.S. Senate -- will run for president is omnipresent. That he will eventually run, and win, is assumed by almost everyone who comes to watch him speak.
It reminds me of the obsessive speculation in the 50's and 60's, that used to accompany any half-way acceptable fighter of suitably pale complexion - could this lad be the Next Champion? He was usually tagged The Great White Hope.

Is Barack Obama The Great Black Hope?

He seems to be an OK guy, and a competent Senator. My big concern about him is that the would-be kingmakers will push him too fast. Frankly, I'd prefer to see him serve at least one full term as Senator before running for the top job. My gut tells me that it takes time to take the measure of a man.

One thing the Time article makes clear, however, is a certain tentativeness in Obama. He is not, at least now, a bold leader. He is a milder type, a fence-sitter. That moderation may serve him well in the Senate. There, you have to compromise and straddle two fields to be effective.

But a President has to have a vision. A President has to stand clearly FOR a plan - without passion, changes just don't get implemented. However easy-going Reagan was, for example, he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in his term. And he was more successful than most in getting that plan to work, in great part because he communicated his vision to the people who served him.

I'm just not sure that Obama can do that, at least, right now.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weekend Meandering

I'm anticipating a quiet weekend. I finished the grades. Although I COULD grade the new stuff - no way! I'm going to have a totally indulgent weekend. I deserve it.

Is it just me, or is the Foley scandal kind of anemic? I mean, what are we to make of a sex scandal with no sex? What's next - a drunken carouse without booze?

I'm a little concerned about the "Project Red" initiative. It's the new whimsy by Bono to increase the amount of money he and his cronies control that, theoretically, are used to fight AIDS, Tb and Malaria. What is Global Fund?

If you want to see what the Fund has previously spent the money on, go to this page, and you can download each round of proposals, with all the details. For instance, in Round 5,
Total Total approved US$ 770 million in 60 countries

By Region

East Asia & the Pacific - US$ 128 million in 17 countries
Eastern Europe & Central Asia - US$ 27 million in 8 country
Latin America & the Caribbean - US$ 54 million in 4 countries
North Africa & the Middle East - US$ 63 million in 4 countries
South Asia - US$ 24 million in 2 country
Sub-Saharan Africa: East Africa - US$ 135 million in 5 countries
Sub-Saharan Africa: Southern Africa - US$ 124 million in 8 countries
Sub-Saharan Africa: West & Central Africa - US$ 210 million in 12 countries

By Disease HIV US$ 315 million in 25 countries
HSS US$ 38 million in 3 countries
Malaria US$ 202 million in 26 countries
Tuberculosis US$ 213 million in 23 countries
I'm currently wading through the verbiage the Global Fund has put up, however, it seems that the summaries of their work may be somewhat misleading.

They claim to fund locally-based initiatives. However, perusal of the documents indicates that the most common recipient (and disburser) of funds is MOH - for Americans, that's Ministry of Health, a national-level authority. So, even though the MOH may dole out the funds to local groups, the power is with the state.

From Cambodia's report
While sex work largely determined the course of the Cambodian epidemic in the early and mid 1990s, producing 90 percent of new infections and 70 percent in 1995, the success of condom promotion efforts for sex workers and clients has changed modes of transmission. The 2003 data of the HSS showed that HIV prevalence among sex workers was falling. Furthermore, a gap between HIV prevalence between younger and older sex workers suggests that incidence is falling as well (HSS, 2004). Likewise, the prevalence rate among police has fallen. Generally, the number of men infected has decreased sharply from 100,000 in 1998 to an estimated 65,000 in 2003.
The number of infected women remained practically unchanged at around 57,000 during the same period. The number of new infections show a similar trend: From a peak of approximately 24,000 new HIV-infections/year among men in 1994, the number of new HIVinfections/year among men has decreased to approximately 1,500 per year. The prevalence rate among pregnant women tested at ANC sites has stabilised. This provides for a situation where women have an increasing share in the overall number of infected persons. From 35% in 1997 the proportion of infected women rose to 47% in 2003. The main route of transmission is now between spouses as well as other-to-child transmission.
The effects of a larger number of infections that occurred in the 1990’s, results in
increasing numbers of AIDS cases and deaths from AIDS. Despite a stabilising
epidemic, the number of orphans and children made vulnerable is therefore increasing.
So, fewer men are being infected, and fewer sex workers are being infected - but the rates are increasing? Are currently infected people taking up the hard work (pun intended) of spreading the joy disease around?

One phrase that I'm having a hard time understanding is "indirect sex workers". Am I missing something? I understand direct sex workers - what the Hoi Polloi call prostitutes or hookers. How can you "indirectly" have sex? Unless this is what they call those in the sex movie business.

Another puzzling part of the report
GOAL 5: To reduce HIV transmission by proven targeted interventions with brothel
based sex workers and to further strengthen prevention by working country wide
with other high risk groups (indirect sex workers, freelance sex workers, partner of
sex workers, men with symptomatic urethral discharge and MSM).
Are they trying to say that the MainStream Media is a high risk group?

Oh, I get it - Men having Sex with Men. Wouldn't do to use the word gay - people might misunderstand, and think AIDS is commoner among gay men.

Note that "other-to-child" phrase. From the US, that would almost always mean mother-to-child. I don't think so, in this case. I believe they've worded that report deliberately, to obscure the large numbers of exploited children in the sex industry. In short, kiddie predators are spreading the disease. What's the solution? Arrest the criminals?

No. Just throw around the condoms. That should do the trick.

It sounds as though the Global Fund is a giant condom-distributing machine, that also tests the blood supply. An enormous amount of money is to provide social services, medicine, and food. So, if a country wants the cash, it helps to claim large numbers are infected with AIDS or TB (which often is an opportunistic disease in an HIV-infected person). I'm not sure where the Malaria comes from. Bono doesn't strike me as a pro-DDT person.

I was right - here's the anti-malaria plan
ABUJA MALARIA SUMMIT TARGETS
By the end of 2005:
• At least 60% of people with malaria must have access to treatment within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms;
• At least 60% of those at risk for malaria should benefit from a combination of personal and community
preventive measures, such as insecticide-treated bed nets;
• At least 60% of pregnant women at risk of malaria will have access to preventive treatment;
• At least 60% of epidemics will be detected within two weeks of onset; and 60% of epidemics will be
responded to within two weeks of detection.
Translation - we won't spray, but we will RESPOND - with bed nets, treatment (of limited use once infected), and - for pregnant women - preventive treatment. Which, if I remember correctly, can cause deformities in the baby.

But, HEY - at least they won't use DDT.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NORK

I've been reading the results of the NORK ka-boom test, and I've decided several things:

  • The test apparently wasn't all that powerful. It was the equivalent of Hiroshima or less. Nonetheless, it confirms that they are serious about pursuing the program, so we need to act as though they are a danger to us and the rest of the world.
  • If the NORKs can do it, so can any other country. We've been training the world's engineers for a long time. Yeah, I know that we intended to produce people that could build a society, not explode it, but apparently, that's not what THEY intended.
  • Given this, does it REALLY make sense to keep training engineers for other countries? Just asking.
  • Touchy-feely experimenting with the educational system has to stop. We can't afford to have so many students ignorant of math, the precursor to science and engineering. We need to bring in the calvalry. If we can get students up to speed, but only the white male ones, well, tough. Let the researchers tinker with ways to get minorities to succeed. Stop inhibiting white males from succeeding.
  • Don't poo-poo the bomb, or belittle its intent. Kim feeds off fear and adulation. Such a nutcase needs his respect - dissing him could lead to dire consequences.

Monday, October 09, 2006

GuardtheBorders

By Diane of Diane's Stuff, via Third World County

As I’ve said countless times on my own blog, I am not a very political animal. I have my opinions on things of a political nature but I rarely express them, and I very seldom post on anything political because I don’t feel as if I’m well enough informed on particular issues. I do have an opinion on whether or not there should be a fence along the border between Mexico and the States, and it has always seemed like a very good idea to me.

Living in Texas I see a lot of illegals and every time I see someone that’s clearly Hispanic in front of me in the grocery store, paying for their food with a LoneStar Card (plastic food stamps) or presenting a WIC form, I have to wonder how much of that is going to sustain illegal cousins, brothers, aunts, uncles, etc. I’m not naive enough to think that the only nationality that can use our Southern borders as a crossing is Mexican, but let’s be honest here for a minute; aren’t they the main concern?

I posted some time ago about Governor Rick Perry’s “Virtual Border Watch Program” and I thought that too was a good idea.

With voluntary participation of private landowners, Texas will use $5 million to begin placing hundreds of surveillance cameras along criminal hotspots and common routes used to enter this country. Perry said the cameras will cover vast stretches of farm and ranchland located directly on the border where criminal activity is known to occur, and “not the neighborhoods where families will continue to enjoy their privacy.”

“Landowners will be able to monitor and defend their property from those who might endanger their families. We will make the video feed available to state, local and federal law enforcement agencies so they can respond swiftly and appropriately,” Perry said. “And we will post this video on the Internet – in real time – so that concerned Americans can help protect our nation through online neighborhood watch programs.”

The video will be available 24 hours a day and cameras will be equipped with night vision capabilities. When citizens witness a crime taking place, they will be able to call an 800 number and be routed to the appropriate law enforcement agency.



It just so happens that I have friends who have a 700-acre ranch that also includes a 1/2 mile of river frontage on the Rio Grande. While small by Texas standards, their nearest neighbor is 6 miles away, and the closest town of any size is Presidio where there is a Point of Entry via an International Bridge. Naturally, there is also an Immigration office. This town is approximately 28 miles from my friends ranch, and the other nearby towns are Ruidosa, population 19 and Candelaria, population estimated at 55. They don’t live down there, they’re hoping to retire there though, and they go several times a year to camp out and stay for a week or two at a time. Here is a picture taken on their ranch.

01_skyone.jpg

And another-

02_openland.jpg

As you can see it’s very isolated.

I was visiting with these friends a few days ago and the conversation got around to the ranch and when they were going again and as I know the property is right on the border I asked their opinion of building a fence. Below is a quote sent to me via email after I’d asked a few more questions prior to beginning this post.

Candelaria is the last town on Hwy 170 or “river road” as it is known. The population there is a bit bigger I would guess around 30 or so. It is about 20 miles or so after Ruidosa. There is a sign when you get there that “State Maintenance Ends Here”. The dirt road goes on from there to El Paso, about 140 miles I was told, but you ain’t gonna get there unless you have a 4 x 4, extra gas and tires. The dirt road is where I was telling you about the trolleys that go across the river and the religious icons stuff set in small caves along the road. People out there still live in adobe houses and have no phone, lights or other essentials. Our very own 3rd world.

Another interesting fact about Candelaria is the foot bridge from the States to Mexico there (not an authorized crossing). The bridge was paid for with Russian humanitarian aid money! Can you believe that shit…:)

Once you get past the town they couldn’t even get the equipment in there to build the damn fence. Plus all the cattle ranchers on the river from Presidio on would just cut it to allow their cattle to get to the river for water…. it is the desert after all and water is a very scarce resource. A few are lucky enough to have artesian wells but most rely on what rain water they can trap and the river.


As you can tell from that quote they don’t have much faith in a fence doing any good. I asked then what their opinion of the Minutemen was and was told that “Their hearts are in the right place, and they have the right idea, but they’re spread too thin to do a whole lot of good.” So of course I asked what they thought would work. Guards, guards and more guards. An armed border.

One of the reasons they gave me for this was that even if someone saw the illegal crossers climbing or cutting through a fence, say, via Texas Governor Rick Perry’s camera idea, or the Minutemen calling someone, they would be long gone before anyone in authority arrived, particularly in their area where the road is far from straight, two-laned, and often has livestock wandering around. They say that it’s just too desolate to do any good without men on the ground, and then you have the water/rancher/cattle factor to deal with also.

They tell me that at night you can see lights back and forth all night and that while they feel fairly safe during the day, only seeing a few people with bags ready to swim across when they’re down on the riverfront also swimming, that it’s dangerous to be there alone. My friend’s mother recently stated that she wanted to get away, go down there and camp on her own, and they told her absolutely not, no way, even though she’s the best shot they know. There are too many drug runners mixed in with illegal wannabes, and even though there’s the INS station less than 30 miles away in Presidio, that they very seldom see anyone on patrol and we’re only talking here about a very, very small portion of the TEXAS border.

So what’s the solution? To fence or not to fence? Armed guards? It’s a tough one, but I agree, something MUST be done. I think my piranha idea is sounding better all the time.





This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we’re going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to admin at guardtheborders dot com.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Telecommuting for Congress?

I found an old article in the archives of The American Thinker. It suggests a radical solution to the problem of sending our representatives and Senators to Washington, only to have them fall victim to the Washington Mindset.
Many businesses have discovered that there is no real need to keep people in one physical location, in order to effectively and efficiently coordinate their work effort. Telecommuting, the pratice of working from remote locations, be it a client’s premises or even from home, offers many advantages. It is long past time for Congress to consider the possibility of applying the lessons learned in the private sector. The benefits mught be numerous and substantial.
I really like this idea. Rather than exhaust the Congressperson by forcing them into a jet-lagged lifestyle, it makes sense to convene Congress remotely, with personal appearances for only a few days a month.

Think about the difference it could make for limiting the influence of lobbyists, not to mention the wear and tear on the families back in the district. Our Congress could dedicate themselves to working for the folks at home, instead of pursuing the high life in Washington.

Common Sense Isn't So Common

Myrna Blyth hits the essential question about Foley on the head:
That is what every woman I’ve spoken to has said about the Foley mess.

“What were those guys thinking?”

It’s just that simple.

Why didn’t Hastert and Reynolds and Shimkus understand what every vigilant parent knows, that there is something very fishy about an older guy, any older guy, sending overly friendly e-mails to a 16-year-old, whether the 16-year-old is a boy or a girl.

Sure, the fundamental problem here is that Foley was sending those e-mails and, even worse, those even more explicit and disgusting text messages. But just as big a problem is that the House leadership was so dumb or disinterested that they really believed (at least, so they say) Foley’s alleged excuse that he was just “being friendly.”

Didn’t they ever wonder why a 52-year-old congressman needed a 16-year-old friend? A congressman whom almost everyone on the Hill thought was gay?

Would they have believed him and then just gone about their business if the one receiving the e-mails was their own son?
Ding, ding, ding - that's the alarm for "Wake up and smell the cappuchino" time.

THAT's the real reason that parents of Boy Scouts object to gay leaders - because, other than parents, who wants to spend THAT much time with kids? Grown men generally want to spend time hanging out with people their own age. Fathers, OK. They have a vested interest in helping their sons become men. There's also that Dad-Son bonding thing.

Call me suspicious. I am. Of grown (at least in a chronological sense) men who want to be "buddies" with kids.

Leadership, that's a different thing. But no grown man (or woman) needs to have a teenage friend. At least, not as a "best friend".

Livin' Large



As you can see from the above graphic, I've once again hit the Large Mammal classification in the TTLB ecosystem.

The first time, I was honestly delighted.
BlogStardom was just around the corner.

That was, until the Bear tinkered with the 'code, and many of my links were disqualified.

It happened again. Again, same tinkering. Same precipitous drop in status.

So, even though I am perched on the precarious heights, I'm keeping my parachute handy.

'Cause I know the fall is only a matter of time.

So, I'm savoring the moment, but not taking it too seriously.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Minuteman Protest - Calm & Peaceful? You Decide

I found the video of the Columbia protest. To me, this was a planned disruption, intended to prevent the Minutemen from expressing their views. So, how does this NOT count as a violation of the Minutemen's 1st Amendment rights? Why did the university (a public one) not remove the protesters immediately? Could it be that they wanted the talk interrupted?

Judge for yourself - were they quietly expressing their view? Were they destroying property and deliberately intimidating the anti-immigration attendees?

Scott, the young man at the end of the video, provides a refreshing example of calm and reason.

YouTube Again

I just saw the YouTube video about Jack Straw's comments. He's the British politician who said that fully-veiled women might consider, in a modern society, wearing a partial veil, in situations where they are interacting privately (as in a constituent meeting to seek assistance). He stated that, to him, it seemed to inhibit communication, as it was not possible to read faces.

It was an opinion. That's all. He may have interpreted the situation differently than a follower of Islam would have, but he's entitled to his opinion.

Not according to the spokesmen (1 male, 1 female - Haleema Hussein - who was not fully veiled) of Islam that are in this interview. According to Ms. Hussein,
He shouldn't be allowed to comment on these issues - it's a Muslim issue.
Dhimmi, know your place!

Watch Quickly, Before it Disappears!

I just viewed the Michelle Malkin video - First They Came.... I can't describe it - but I strongly urge you to see it.

Does This Seem Like the Democratic Party You Know?

Well, the sharks have been lurking around, and the first one has taken his chunk out of the victim. What do I mean?
The first campaign television ad featuring disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Florida, hit the airwaves Friday in southern Indiana, as a Democratic challenger sought to link the ongoing page scandal to the Republican congressman.

Former Rep. Baron Hill, D-Indiana, criticizes Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-Indiana, for refusing to return $77,000 in campaign contributions "from the House leadership who knew about but did nothing to stop sexual predator Congressman Foley.
Here's the link to the ad.

So, the smear is to extend to ALL Republicans who took money from the leadership. In other words, just about ALL Republicans.

Sounds fair. So, anyone who is in any way connected to the incident, which, BTW, is as follows (according to Andrew Sullivan, well-known gay Republican):
The most infuriating aspect of the Mark Foley fiasco is that we're still unclear on what exactly it is we're infuriated about. This was not pedophilia: The pages involved were all above the legal age of consent in Washington, D.C. It wasn't exactly pederasty either, given that we have no evidence (at least not yet) of any actual sexual contact between two live human beings. Sexual harassment? It doesn't appear that, at the time of the now-infamous instant messages, the pages were in Foley's employ. The best phrase I have been able to come up with for Foley's transgression is "virtual pederasty," with a large dose of extremely creepy and abusive behavior toward younger, vulnerable people whose trust he clearly betrayed....
So, the actual behavior is not a crime, as far as can be determined. Hmm. Well, of course the Democratic Party is against ACTUAL SEX with a minor by a Congressperson, aren't they?

Well, no.

According to Wikipedia
Studds was a central figure in the 1983 Congressional page sex scandal, when he and Representative Dan Crane were censured by the House of Representatives for separate sexual relationships with minors – in Studds's case, a 1973 relationship with a 17-year-old male congressional page who was of the age of legal consent, according to state law at the time. The relationship was consensual, but presented ethical concerns relating to working relationships with subordinates.

During the course of the House Ethics Committee's investigation, Studds publicly acknowledged his homosexuality, a disclosure that, according to a Washington Post article, "apparently was not news to many of his constituents." Studds stated in an address to the House, "It is not a simple task for any of us to meet adequately the obligations of either public or private life, let alone both, but these challenges are made substantially more complex when one is, as I am, both an elected public official and gay." He acknowledged that it had been inappropriate to engage in a relationship with a subordinate, and said his actions represented "a very serious error in judgement."[1]

As the House read their censure of him, Studds turned his back on the speaker and members in the chamber and ignored them. Later, at a press conference with the former page standing beside him, the two stated that what had happened between them was nobody's business but their own.[1]
What Wikipedia fails to mention is the approval of the Dems:
When Studds announced his intention to ignore the uproar and to run for re-election, he received a standing ovation from the Democrats then in Congress. I remind you, this came after Studds had sexual intercourse with a page (though perhaps if he had text messaged the young man, you and they would be outraged - finally).
Probably not.

From Reason:
...as it turns out, the Mark Foley pedophilia sex scandal lacks two things: pedophilia and sex.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I'm a Big Girl

I can handle bad news - heck, I raised 3 teenagers, I got used to it.

So why is the government trying to keep the bad news about retirement from me?From Ace of Spades HQ
Last month, JP Morgan released what it considers the most comprehensive preliminary estimate. It projects the present value of unfunded health care and other non-pension benefits at between $600 billion and $1.3 trillion.

By comparison, the debt rating agency Standard and Poors estimates the country's total unfunded public pension debt at around $285 billion.

"There's a good chance some government entities are going to go bankrupt," said California Assemblyman Keith Richman, a Republican from Chatsworth. "But the issue isn't just bankruptcy, it's governments dying of a thousand cuts in services. The costs of promises that have been made are going to be astronomical."
This is the way conservative politicians need to come clean with the electorate. They need to say:
Folks, I've got some bad news - we're broke. We wanted to get elected, so we made Grandpa and Grandma some promises we just can't afford to keep if we want to have any function other than paying for them.

So, here's what we're going to do:

  • Cost of living increases are dead. Gone. Not coming back. That'll at least stop SOME of the hemorraghing.
  • EVERYBODY takes a 5% cut - yeah, that means you, too. Local charities, family, and friends can make up the shortfall, if necessary. But we just can't afford to do so. Face it, most people have some give in their budget. We won't let anyone starve, but they will have to eliminate some luxuries.
  • Immediately, we'll insist that any physician prescribing drugs to a senior do a once a year check to see if some of them can be eliminated. It causes too many health issues to just keep adding on more meds. And some of them are clearly uncessary. When the bill for meds is the largest in the family budget, it should be looked at.

    Now, I know some of those seniors genuinely have been prescribed what they need. They'll still get it. But most are medicated far beyond need - when they bring in all the meds, and they fill a shopping bag, it's usually too much.
  • Needs testing - VERY unpopular, but, unfortunately, necessary.
  • All kids need to kick in for elderly parents in nursing homes - all. To be added to their tax bill, if necessary. Some of those families may find that they can care for their elders at home more cheaply. I'm not saying that the entire cost will have to be picked up. But some portion needs to be paid for.

Mind, such a politician will only be electable AFTER the crash happens. By then, of course, it will be too late.

Let me tell 'ya, I'd vote for a politician with the "stones" to tell it straight. No matter what his or her other positions. It's one of the few issues that are make-or-break for me.

Guys, it's like a hangover. Once, years ago, when I was young and foolish, I had too much to drink - as did several of my friends. The next day, we felt so bad that we started off the day with "hair of the dog". That improved the situation so much that we poured an even heavier coat - heck, we killed the entire bottle - I mean, dog.

The next day, we felt even worse. Same remedy. The next day, even worse. Same stupid idea. Saturday, I gritted my teeth, and got over it without assistance. It was one of the worst days of my young life. By Sunday, I was fine. The rest of the group took another day to get smart.

Funny thing - the longer I avoided paying the price, the worse the eventual bill got. If I had simply toughed it out the first day, I wouldn't have suffered for so long, nor been so miserable when I finally sobered up.

What Americans are Like

I've been reading about American vs. European cultures, and I'm getting hooked on Rants and Raves. He's been living in Poland with his Polish-born wife, and his perspective is riveting.

One year in college, in a Literature class, I was, by happenstance, in a class that was surprisingly multi-national. There were, I remember, 17 different nationalities represented, as I remember:

  • Dutch
  • French
  • Polish
  • Ukranian
  • several different groups of Spanish-speaking students (don't remember exactly which countries)
  • Africans - Ugandan, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Liberian
  • Mulsims from - Lebanon, Syria, UAE, Egypt
  • Asians - Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese

One delightful side effect was a renewed appreciation of what it meant to be an American. During the time I was in this class, I began to see the American experience as never before. Compared to other cultures, we are:

  • Friendly - we are not generally suspicious. We answer questions, even personal ones, readily. Even strangers can ask us questions and get a straight answer. We don't expect our questioner to turn our answers into fodder for future punishment. We don't expect to be turned in to the police.

  • Generous - we have, in abundance, material wealth. We can be tapped for donations to charity. We don't generally hold back money for "those like us". That's what has made it possible for Islamic charities to get cash and send it to terrorist groups. We have sometimes funded our own destruction.

  • Blessed with short memories. We don't generally hold a grudge. Even as short as 5 years later, many people have forgiven the Saudis for the fact that almost all the terrorists came from there.

    Shortly after any war, we welcome the "enemy" war brides. It's not in us to hate for prolonged times.

    One exception was the War Between the States, as I've come to call the Civil War. There, children were taught to hold a grudge. However, even there, eventually both sides made up. I've not heard myself referred to as a Yankee since I came, except in jest.

  • Tolerant of social and monetary mobility. Few people think work is "beneath" them. We also give 2nd chances to those who have screwed up. We call it Reality TV. Some benefit, and turn their lives around. Some continue screwing up.

  • Fiercely loyal to our home team, without feeling the need to riot against the fans of the other side (occasional drunks excepted).

  • Trusting. We expect to be told the truth. We are angry when lied to. We are NOT cynical.

  • Loving to our families, but NOT putting them above our civic responsibilities. The occasional cases of nepotism are not the norm.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Random Thoughts

I'm typing this on my laptop, with an external keyboard attached. The on-board keyboard, alas, has terminal cancer. The problem is common on many HP Omnibook computers.

My husband will probably be bringing a replacement down, but first it have to have the closing latch fixed. It's easier to get repairs in a major city than here.

My dear SIL is in charge of the repairs. He'll either personally do it, or have someone else do it. God love him.


One of the other teachers, another Ohioan, has been telling us about the shooting in PA recently. I confess, I only glanced at the news - another teen goes gonzo, shoots up a school, ho-hum.

But, it was more like the Lockerbie, Scotland shootings than Columbine. This was an adult determined to make his statement by killing unassociated children, girls, to be exact. The principal got shot by trying to stop him.

I don't know that there is a way to stop a person who's laid his plans and is willing to die. Unless the family realizes the extent of his mental illness, and warns the authorities, preventing these tragedies may be impossible.


The Foley situation is troubling, but I can't complain about the way Hastert handled it.

As far as he knew, the indiscretion hadn't gone further. Both the teen and his parents were OK with no further contact. Despite many saying that rumors were flying around the page pool, there's no indication that Hastert had heard them. The earlier messages were ambiguous, and apparently Hastert wasn't aware of the IMs.

So, are those who are calling for his (Hastert's) removal aware that they might be guilty of profiling gays? The furor about the Boy Scouts was about just this - that a - shall we say - strong interest in young boys might indicate tendencies to pedophilia. That stance got the conservatives crucified as homophobic.

I have a feeling this is going to play out as focused more on Republican leadership, and their inactions and actions, than on the issue of whether questionable conduct toward a kid is enough to start investigating a gay person.

Big surprise.

Monday, October 02, 2006

GuardtheBorders

By Heidi at Euphoric Reality

This is a MUST SEE video for anyone interested in the immigration debate, whether you are a citizen, a legal immigrant, an illegal alien or a Congressman. This clip is from the longer video, Immigration by the Numbers, and features Roy Beck of NumbersUSA demonstrating the catastrophe of unrestricted immigration by Third World people into our nation. He uses standard statistics and simple gumballs to show this disaster in the making.

This video is very short - only 17 minutes total - don't miss it! Even if you think you know what our future looks like, this video will shock you!



H/T for the video: Third World County

Here are some additional resources concerning the population disaster that is pending for our nation.

You can order videos of Immigration by the Numbers and others for only $10.

A chart of the declining levels of Americans and the exploding numbers of foreign-born immigrants.



A chart of the future of the U.S. in this century


*These numbers are NOT fanciful or manipulated to make a political point. They are cold, hard facts calculated by the most conservative estimator of all - the U.S. Census Bureau.

Despite the sheer impossibility of the numbers in the video and the source link above, you should know that they DO NOT include the number of illegal aliens and their offspring. Why?
The bar graph counts only the annual number of legal immigrants.

If illegal aliens could be accurately counted and included, it is likely that the 1966-89 period would be revealed as being even more disparate from earlier eras. Illegal immigration is believed to be far higher during recent decades than in the past.

The Census Bureau estimates there are 8 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. [A very conservative estimate - the numbers are possibly 2 1/2 to more than 3 times greater than estimated by the Census Bureau. -ed.]

On annual illegal immigration, the Center for Immigration Studies has extrapolated the latest Census data to show that 700,000 to 800,000 new illegal aliens are settling each year. Now, far, far more than that enter illegally each year, but there is a lot of back and forth. The 700,000 to 800,000 represents illegals who truly settle in for at least a couple of years, and usually much, much longer.
As bad as it looks on paper now, it is actually much worse in reality. We already know that the number of illegal aliens is more than quadruple the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country each year. The Border Patrol estimates that more than 4 million illegal aliens enter the country each year - and they apprehend about one in seven. That means, while they are catching 571,000 illegals each year, almost 3.5 million escape detection and melt into our communities.

What would the graph of the population explosion look like if the numbers of illegal aliens are included? The numbers are almost incomprehensible. We are looking at the utter devastation of our nation.




This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we’re going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the war on terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name and url to admin at guardtheborders dot com.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

You Gotta See This Blog!

Via Power and Control, I found a link to Rants and Raves, which had this intriguing post:
“…the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But this has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated – is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations – in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.”
Neal Stephenson “The Diamond Age”

Question: What is the stupidest thing that walks God's green earth?

Answer: An adolescent with above average intelligence.
And, with that intro, Stephen Browne continues to explain why smart people do dumb things.

As I said, intriguing. And, BTW, don't miss another of his lengthy posts, on Tribalism. I guarantee, you won't look at the current political/social situations in quite the same way again.

You Don't BUY Digital Media - You Only Lease It

This thread brings up an important concept. We have become a Renter Society, rather than an Ownership Society. Some things that used to b...