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The WeatherPixie
Weather Conditions, Wish we were there...

Odd things and such things, as I feel appropriate, possibly relating to the war.
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Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Thursday, February 28
We had dinner in the Norwegian smorgasbord, and Aaron had a cookie that he could paint. Comfortably stuffed, we headed out of the park, getting pretty soggy in the process. It was indeed raining small pets by the time we got back to the van, and I was rather relieved to get back to the room and dry out for the night.

Sunday dawned clear and bright, so once again we chomped our breakfasts and headed for the Magic Kingdom. The lines were pretty long - and it took us about 15 minutes to just pay and get into the parking lot. In retrospect, we should have seen this as an indication of how the day was going to proceed.

Sorry - but very tired tonight. More on this tomorrow.


Wednesday, February 27
Okay, enough with the pseudo-military operations report. Time to just tell what was going on.

Back in early January we did our taxes. Sue got to thinking it had been a long time since we went someplace FUN, as opposed to the obligatory relavistic visits. (Relativistic - you ever notice how time stretches on when you visit your relatives? Hmmm...) Anyway, I made a deal with her - if we were positive on our tax refund, we'd go to Disney World.

We were. Barely. So the trip was on.

Sue is a master (er... mistress) at ferreting out deals. She located a place to stay that was about 10 minutes away from the parks and had a roomlet for Aaron - and included free breakfast. Of course, being AAA members helped a lot. We took a chance on the tickets - it was my understanding that military (active and reserve) were getting free tickets and spouse/children tickets at 50% off, so I didn't get any at the base ticket office. Mistake, as it turned out - the tickets were only for active duty military and reserve on orders - and I didn't have orders. Feh. $300 later, Aaron and I had our tickets, and Sue had redeemed a pile of other tickets we had. Next time, I'm buying on base.

The weather, when we arrived, was intermittent rain. No biggie, we had our raincoats - and it had the effect of really dampening the lines at the park. Friday evening everything was almost a walk-on - the longest we had to wait was about 5 minutes. When we got tired of the wet we wandered back to the motel and dried off for the night... But we were able to do 9 rides in less than two hours - 11 if you count the 3 times we rode "It's a Small World". "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin", "Tomorrowland Transit Authority", "It's A Small World", Peter Pan, "the Book of Pooh", the "Mad Tea Party", The Carousel, and "Goofy's Barnstormer".

Arriving back at the motel, we had a minor problem - our room keys wouldn't work. The battery in the lock was dead, and it wouldn't read our keycards right. And the pass-key didn't work well, apparently due to a lack of lubrication in the lock. But my skills as a dorm daddy got the door open, and we dried out for the night. The next morning we chomped down our free breakfast and headed for Epcot.

In retrospect, with the weather as bad as it was it might have been better to save Epcot to Sunday, when the weather was really beautiful and the lines at the Magic Kingdom were terrible. But hey, hindsight's 20-20. Epcot, for some strange reason, reminds me of a set from an SF movie, and I really enjoy visiting there. Even with the blowing rain, it was impressive. Aaron's favorite things there were the "Ice Station Cool" attraction, which is a shop set up as a remote Antarctic research station, where you can try various Coke products from around the world. You entered the attaction through a tunnel cold enough that there was snow blowing in it. (And, oddly enough, buy all sorts of Coke memorabilia.) My favorite guzzle there was a melon drink from China. Very neat... and on a hot day I imagine there'd be quite a line...

Aaron also got a kick out of the "River of Time" ride in the Mexico section. He didn't think much of the "Spaceship Earth" attraction, but he loved watching the fish in the big tank in the Living Seas exhibit. He had a minor meltdown when we tried to get him into dry socks and one of the yellow Disney ponchos when the rain and wind got bad enough - but he's only 3.8, after all.

More on this later...


Monday, February 25
The raid to Disney World kicked off 11 hours earlier than planned. This necessitated a remain-overnight at an unplanned location near Tifton, GA. Early the next morning, all members reboarded the UAV and continued as planned, running an actual 6 hours ahead of schedule. Tailwinds were with us, and we arrived at the scheduled staging area (The Howard Johnson's EnchantedLand Inn) in time to rest a bit and then head to the destination (hereafter known as DW). The weather, which had been forecast as perfect for operations in the target area, deteriorated rapidly due to a front stalling out - and in the course of the next 36 hours would deposit close to two inches of rain.

Undeterred, we donned our rain gear and pressed on ....

Unfortunately, we ran into a biological weapon that severely modified the DNA of one of our members. Before and after pictures follow.

We were able to restore him to his original DNA configuration, though it took a while.

We warned him NOT to go sipping from little bottles labeled "Drink Me".

More on that, later...

Thursday, February 21
Orders have changed, the raid is kicking off early.


See you Tuesday...

U.S. Official: Terrorist Targets Found in October Raid
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — NATO authorities who raided a Saudi aid agency last fall found computer files containing photographs of terrorist targets and street maps of Washington with government buildings marked, a senior U.S. official disclosed Thursday.

The October raid of the Sarajevo office of the Saudi High Commissioner for Aid to Bosnia also netted a computer program explaining how to use crop duster aircraft to spread pesticide, and materials used to make fake U.S. State Department identification badges and credit cards, the official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A high-ranking Bosnian government official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the findings.
Uh-oh... Could it be the Saudi's aren't really our friends? Or are they just trying to play both sides of the street?


Ever wonder what comics I read?

Kevin and Kell

Sandwich World

One over Zero

Gene Catlow


Freefall and

Unicorn Jelly - which is a very interesting read. I suggest you start it from the beginning...


From the BBC - Musharraf berates Muslim world
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said Islamic countries will remain backward unless they concentrate more on scientific and technological development.

Muslim nations are internally involved in fratricidal conflicts and perceived by the outside world as terrorists with little attention being given on their uplift, he said.

"Today we are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most un-enlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race" --- President Musharraf

General Musharraf made his comments in an address to a conference of science and technology attended by ministers from Muslim countries.

President Musharraf said the time had come for Islamic nations to take part in collective self-criticism.

Once such an assessment is made, it would not be difficult to realise that the entire Islamic world was far behind the developed world, he argued.
Man, he doesn't mince words, does he? As I said - I hope he lasts. But this is liable to get a fatwa issued calling for his death...


Musharraf's prescription for progress
Unlike the hundreds of other madrassahs in the country which mainly focus on religious orthodoxy and extremism, Jamia Rizvia and Jamia Ashrafia have lately adopted modern concepts in teaching.

Here several thousand students are not only taught to read the Koran in the traditional Islamic way, these two madrassahs also offer courses in modern sciences and even computer technology.

Acceptable mixture

An impressed President Musharraf said he would like to see the mixture of religious teaching and modern education taught at the two madrassahs to be used a template for other Islamic schools.
The only way the Islamic world will be able to break the hold of the fundamentalists is through education and progress. Musharraf looks like he's got statesman qualities - let's hope he lasts.


Looks like the Iranian Mullahs are really getting into their propaganda...

From the BBC - Iranian activist sorry for 'confession'

A student leader in Iran has made an unprecedented apology to the nation for a televised confession in which he admitted trying to overthrow the Islamic regime.

Ali Afshari, a leader of the main student organisation and a reformist activist, said he had been held in solitary confinement for nearly a year before his recent release.

He was subjected to pressures and the confession was forced from him, he said.It won't be much longer before the hardline mullahs collapse their system. They didn't learn from the Soviet Union - you get the confession, and then the person disappears. Much less trouble in the long run. As it is, this guy took them down a notch with his recanting - and boosted the cause he's working for.


China has freedom of religion. As long as you're not religious.
BEIJING –– Chinese President Jiang Zemin insisted Thursday that his people are free to worship as they choose, and said Roman Catholic bishops detained there must have broken the law.

President Bush prodded Jiang on the issue, saying, "All the world's people, including the people of China, should be free to choose how they live, how they worship and how they work."

Jiang was asked twice at a news conference with Bush about allegations of religious repression there, and about the detention and surveillance of the bishops.
Freedom of religion - as long as you don't worship. Makes sense to me!


Kim Jong Il lives in decadent luxury and total secrecy. Now, a longtime bodyguard tells Donald Macintyre the wicked ways of North Korea's Dear Leader
When bodyguard Lee Young Kuk first saw his boss body boarding in a private indoor swimming pool, he knew not to show his reaction. But it was a scene he could hardly forget: Kim Jong Il, North Korea's current leader, in a bathing cap, splashing around in a seven-story pleasure palace equipped with bar, karaoke machine, a mini movie theater—everything a Dear Leader could want. The ground floor had an enormous swimming pool with a wave machine. Kim liked to get on a body board fitted with a small motor and tool around in the artificial waves. A pretty nurse and female doctor always accompanied him in the pool, swimming under their own power. Says Lee: "I wasn't surprised. You don't doubt anything—he has absolute power."
It's GOOD ta be da King! (Better than being Hugh Hefner, I'd say! Of course, Hugh has a limited talent pool - he only takes volunteers.)


You just gotta wonder sometimes...
Flexing muscle won't solve any problems. What good would it do with a practical standpoint? How would our "economic and military strength," as you said, prevent another September 11 in the future? Flexing muscle for self-interest sounds like a bully's talk. Which one is stronger; an elephant or a mosquito? I am not saying that we should sit still and do nothing. However, war should only be the last solution. And even if we have to come to this inevitable solution we still need to make sense of it. And this is what we are trying to do now -- trying to see if this is a "just" war. When we come to the word "just" or "right," I believe we should look at the issue on the moral standpoint. When we want to cure a disease, we first need to find out its causes and then trying to find a cure for the causes instead of just finding treatment for the symptoms.

-- Brian Le, Actuarial Assistant at NEF (posted 2/20, 10:40
a.m., U.S. Eastern time)
No, FIRST you treat the symptoms, then find the cure. The patient may die if the symptoms aren't treated, and we've been seeing (and ignoring) the symptoms for a long time now, hoping they'll get better on their own. And a mosquito loaded with malaria or yellow fever has the potential to harm a lot more people than an elephant.

So you kill the mosquitoes, drain the swamp, and treat the folks with malaria and yellow fever. But first, you kill the mosquitoes. Not everyone is unaware of that.

One question for those who do not believe that the "war on terrorism,"
at least in its current incarnation, is not a just war: If we aren't justified in
waging war in response to 9/11, when would war be justified?
Like many people, I'm a lot more familiar with Just War theory now than I was six months ago, and this particular campaign does seem like a classic example of such a war. More than anything else, the inability of people on "the other side" to articulate any kind of intelligent alternative to war seals it for me. What were we to do after 9/11? Send Osama bin Laden a candygram asking him to kindly turn himself to the nearest U.S. embassy? Or should we have put up the Bat Signal and wait for the Caped Crusader (unfortunate, I know) to bail us out? It took a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan just to prod bin Laden out of his caves, so it's hard to imagine anything less drastic significantly disrupting al Qaeda's activities.

Mr. Le's claim that "flexing muscle [sic] won't solve any problems," surely reflects a studied ignorance of world history. Military action failed to tag bin Laden (as far as we know now anyway), but it seems to have solved that pesky Taliban problem. Come to think of it, "flexing muscles" also solved that Hitler problem, too. I would argue that our current Iraq problem is the direct result of having undertaking too little military action a decade ago, though I assume that mistake will be corrected shortly.

Bemoaning a war of self-defense while offering no alternatives is both lazy and intellectually dishonest, although I suppose that carping from the sidelines has a long tradition in academia. By all means, if anyone out there has a good peaceful solution to al Qaeda, Saddam, etc., let's hear it, lest your silence continue to speak volumes.

-- Jason Zimmerman, Assistant Professor, South Dakota State
University (posted 2/20, 3:10 p.m., U.S. Eastern time)
Personally, I'd love to see a peaceful solution. But as events in Zimbabwe are showing, just wanting a peaceful solution doesn't work when the other side wants what they want more than you want a peaceful solution.


Wednesday, February 20
Italy foils al-Qaida cyanide attack
ROME, Feb. 20 — A foiled plot to poison the water at the U.S. Embassy in Rome with cyanide was the work of al-Qaida, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. In all, officials said, at least six strikes by Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network have been thwarted since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
Right. We need to negotiate with terrorists. Find out what they want. Be concilliatory...

Well, we know what they want. They want us dead by any means. I'd rather they be disappointed, personally.

J. - Show America more respect, EU policy chief tells Bush critics
In an attempt to end an escalating exchange of insults following Mr Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech, Mr Solana said European politicians should treat Americans with a little more respect.
He said: "We must speak the truth among friends, but you don't necessarily have to do it with a megaphone. The relationship between the United States and the EU is crucial and we should not play with that relationship, and the US should not play with it either."
His remarks were seen as direct criticism of Hubert Vedrine, France's socialist foreign minister, who called President Bush "simplistic" and "absurd" for including Iraq, Iran, and North Korea in the next stage of his campaign to stamp out global terrorism. Mr Solana said: "We have to be a bit more subtle."
Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it seems like they've pretty well told us what SOME of them think, subtle or no. Mr. Solana, I think, understands that we don't see Europe as a necessary military ally - indeed, they may be a definite hindrance.

And then there's the other possibility - that the EU critics are projecting on US what THEY would do if they had the chance and the power.

But we're not Europe. (For which I am quite glad...)


Tuesday, February 19 - 'Now I lay me down to sleep' - February 7, 2002 This is from a reporter in Kandahar - he's done a series of (so far) 18 daily dispatches, on subjects ranging from hot showers to mines (he doesn't like them, oddly enough) to scrounging to guns. They're short, and they're worth reading. This one is on religion, and his thoughts on it...

This is not a "pray -- it works" piece. I have a fascination with world religions. I respect them, I'm inspired by them, I love their beauty and ceremony. Most of all, I'm continually surprised by the commonality they share with my own beliefs. I am reading the Koran right now. So many of the teachings and tales are like the Christian ones I grew up with.
In my mental wanderings on this subject I've been reminded that religion brought me to this place. That's not true really, instead it was the twisted interpretation of a faith that others adopted as their motive and justification.
They're not the first to do this. The Crusades still are bitterly remembered here. The slaughter of thousands in the name of God to free the Holy Land of "heathens." The events of a thousand years ago helped to sow the seeds of today.
Okay - I'm puzzled here. As I recall, the Holy Land was a good bit further west. Did one of the Crusades go a bit off course and end up in Afghanistan? For some reason, I'm not remembering that...

Just curious.


Defending Colin Powell
For a long time, I've been rather apalled at what seems to be the 'normal' sniping that the media does to Republicans in office. I've been particularly surprised at the attempts by the media to make Colin Powell look like an irrelevant clueless Washington newbie, ignoring the fantastic work he did coalition-building during Gulf War One.

But as is being eloquently shown by the current administration, what doesn't get media approval inside the Beltway can be a lot more effective than what IS approved.

And, slowly, I think the media is starting to get the message that, contrary to the last administration, THIS one isn't concerned with looking good to the folks inside the Beltway - when it's much more important to work outside...

Consider, for example, Colin Powell. The media is finally starting to get a clue, and Slate magazine (SLATE, for cryin' out loud) had an article with this quote.
In fact, Powell differs from his colleagues in many ways — in the sorts of people he hires, in the way he manages them, in the way he uses the media — and so what? Foreign policy isn’t supposed to look like a made-for-TV political convention, at which lots of different people stand up and say the same thing over and over again. And even if it were supposed to be monolithic, it couldn’t be, because that isn’t how foreign policy works anymore, unless you live in North Korea.
It's worth taking a couple of minutes to read...


Monday, February 18
Ananova - GM mouthwash 'could banish tooth decay' scientists claim
A genetically modified mouthwash has been developed which could effectively eliminate tooth decay, scientists claim.
The mouth rinse contains a friendlier GM version of the bug that rots the teeth which does not produce enamel eroding acid.
When the solution is squirted into the mouth, the good bugs take over from the Streptococcus mutans bacteria and prevent them from returning.
According to the researchers, a single five-minute treatment costing less than £100 would last a lifetime.
Professor Jeffrey Hillman, from the University of Florida, said: "If this approach works as well as we hope, it has the potential to eliminate the majority of tooth decay."
Oh, if only!


EUobserver - Lipponen: EU must become a great power
"The EU ought to develop into a great power in order that it may function as a fully fledged actor in the world," said Finland's prime minister, Paavo Lipponen in London on Thursday.

Mr Lipponen said during his lecture in the London School of Economics that the EU must not develop into a military superpower, but should become a great power that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests, writes Danish daily Politiken. Mr Lipponen also said that he shares British prime minister Tony Blair's ideas on the development of the EU into a great power.
... that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests...

Now - I'll admit I've only been reading English since 1960 or so. And I think I've got a fairly good grasp of the language. But the highlighted sentence puzzles me. Is Mr. Lipponen saying that the EU should build up it's military, but NEVER take up arms to defend it's own interests?

Seems counter-productive. Or do I have this all wrong?


Cow Bingo under fire...
A game of cow bingo at Florida Southern College is under fire from animals rights activists because the animal in question might get stressed out by all the people laughing at it, reports the Lakeland Ledger.

In a letter to the president of the college, a PETA cruelty caseworker said it can be emotionally devastating for an animal to be exposed to ridicule. She also objected to the animal being used for entertainment purposes.
Emotionally devastating for a cow to be laughed at? This postulates that:

1) Cows understand laughter

2) Cows understand they're being made fun of

3) Cows care.

PETA's going to have a hard time proving all three of those things, I think.

Just for that - I'm going to McDonald's for lunch. And I ain't gonna have a McChicken...


Sunday, February 17
WASHINGTON — Those who think they're not the marrying type may be persuaded otherwise once they attend a Bush administration program designed to promote love and marriage between low-income couples.
The brainchild of marriage czar Wade Horn, a marriage and fatherhood advocate who was appointed assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families at the Health and Human Services Department, the proposal would give local governments money from failing welfare programs to educate low-income parents about marriage skills and the benefits of two-parent households.
I'm ambivalent on this one. Economically, I was pretty much paycheck to paycheck before I married Sue. And at this point, we're pretty comfortable.

But a government program to foster it? Hmmm. It would depend on how it's handled. A 8 lb sledge to beat on folks to marry, or a jeweler's hammer to give them a few taps along a course they're already inclined to...

And it's pointed out in the article we've wasted a lot of money on other programs that failed to produce results - so why not toss a bit of money at this?

If they start opening marriage agencies, though, I'll start to worry. Then again, they've got to compete with all the Oriental and Russian marriage agencies on the Internet...


Berkeley sexuality class under fire
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The University of California at Berkeley has suspended a male sexuality class after the campus newspaper published allegations that students watched their instructor have sex at a strip club and participated in an orgy at an extracurricular party.

The suspension was announced after student instructors of the male sexuality class failed to attend a meeting with a university official Friday, said Marie Felde, a spokeswoman for Berkeley. An investigation into the course has been launched.
You know, Laramie County Community College never had courses like that...

Computer programming, Astronomy, math - but it looks like students at Berkeley have more fun.


When Mayor Giuliani drafted the two men, even their fans doubted they could translate their successes in rural Wisconsin to America's biggest welfare colony. New York City's dependency culture had been ingrained for decades, fed by constant demands from the advocates for more and more benefits with no responsibilities attached. The city's welfare bureaucracy was sclerotic, defeated and reduced to mindless check-processing.

But Turner and Hoover performed a miracle. The nearly 60 percent drop in the welfare rolls since 1993 had been oft commented on; less noticed is the remarkable transformation of HRA itself. Gone is the apathy and grime. Workers throughout the agency are now extraordinarily courteous and professional; the facilities are scrubbed and orderly.

Best of all, most HRA workers believe deeply in their new mandate: to increase independence among the poor.
And will Bloomberg roll it back? Time will tell.


Let me give you an example. When Country Music Television was thrown out of Canada, it promptly withdrew Canadian musicians from CMT programming. It explained that if Canada did not want to give it an audience, then it should not be worried about the interests of the Canadian audience. They would only play Canadian artists who had a U.S. contract. It hurt Canadian musicians. How much did it hurt? I will tell you - this is an apocryphal story, but it is too good to pass up. As you may know, music video channels get music videos for free. The artists provide them for free because it is viewed as a commercial. Several years ago, I am told, the artists became a little bit arrogant, approached some of the music video channels, and demanded that they start paying for the music videos. The channels responded, "do not be ridiculous, we are giving you free air time," at which point the musicians demanded proof that it was valuable for an artist to be on mass media in the United States. Country Music Television took that challenge. It told the artists to give it three unknown artists and three tapes -- they had to be okay, they could not be really bad. CMT would pick one and play it all the time to see whether it would sell. The song was, Achey Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus, and it was made wildly popular by exposure in the mass media. The importance of access to the European and the U.S. markets for Canadian artists was undeniable.
You know, I always wondered why that song got so popular.
Returning to the idea of the "No Man’s Land," there have been two major disputes between the U.S. and Canada relating to cultural provisions, Country Music Television and Sports Illustrated. It is only when this quiet status quo was broken that they erupted -- it was only when Country Music Television was unceremoniously thrown out of Canada in 1994 and only when Sports Illustrated received the same treatment two years later did these issues come to a head. Even though both CMT and Sports Illustrated faced serious discrimination in Canada, it was not until they were thrown out -- the status quo was broken -- that a dispute erupted.
Well, after "Achey, Breaky Heart" it's perhaps not TOO much of a surprise they got tossed... But Sports Illustrated? Obviously a case of swimsuit envy...


The Way Bush Sees the World (
Bush's zeal and willingness to do battle with the forces of darkness is a surprise to many Republicans, especially those who thought his foreign policy approach would more closely resemble his father's. "He's different from his father in this regard. His father knew the world intimately, knew the people, had huge background. This president doesn't have that, but his political instincts are good," a senior Republican said last May. The senior Republican, who spoke on background, said Bush the younger was a "huge admirer" of Bush senior, and would ultimately adopt similar policies, set aside unilateralist talk, contain but not oust Saddam Hussein, get involved in the Middle East conflict, reach out to Iran and reconstruct damaged relations with China.
Of course, he was speaking about Bush pre 9/11. Things have changed a bit...
Many Republicans criticized the Clinton administration for entering peacekeeping operations without having an exit strategy. It's ironic, perhaps, that this administration seems to be waging war without any exit strategy other than moving to the next battlefield. The war could become, as in the Orwell novel "1984," a permanent state of being. "War is Peace," the Ministry of Truth slogan read in the novel.

Or, as Kaplan has argued, war becomes a condition no longer distinctly separate from peace. Bush has embraced that view, at least for now. As he declared in his State of Union address, "I will not wait on events, while dangers gather." He has seen a grim landscape, to paraphrase Kaplan, and seems determined to confront it.
As we've learned, you ignore evil at your peril. Bush isn't making that mistake. The worry is that he'll go too far the other way - but I don't think that'll be a problem.

However, I've been wrong before. In this case, I don't think I am.


Europe Adamantly Opposed To Any U.S. Attack on Iraq (
BERLIN -- U.S. allies in Europe are deeply fearful that the Bush administration is moving inexorably toward a military clash with Iraq, and while they are being blunt in their opposition, they also are beginning to wonder if Washington cares what they think.
Of course, the question is - "Why should we?"

Look at the advice we were getting pre-Afghanistan. Don't fight during Ramadan. Commit massive numbers of our troops on the ground. It's too cold in the winter, you'll have to stop fighting. You'll have to stop fighting to let relief convoys pass through (and get plundered by the local warlords.)

In other words, their advice was well-meaning, but stunk. And I have to wonder just why they're insisting we NOT go after Iraq militarily, when sanctions haven't exactly been working...

Despite the differences, Europeans say they share the Bush administration's goal of bringing down the Iraqi leader. "We would like a new government leadership in Iraq, primarily because the people need a new government," said Karsten Voigt, coordinator of German-American relations at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. "The differences start on how to achieve that. We need a serious debate across the Atlantic."
There's a time for debate. They think sanctions will work. We think they won't. Sanctions haven't worked in 10 years. Will 10 more be needed? Or is a year of war more appropriate - and then 9 years of rebuilding?

Maybe that's one of their main concerns - Sanctions HAVE to work. If they don't, then the entire strategy to use sanctions to correct the behaviour of a country is called into question.

But military force does work. And they know they don't have enough.


Reason - The Politics of Dead Children
Are "a million innocent children...dying at this Iraq" because of U.S. sanctions, as Osama bin Laden claimed in his October 7 videotaped message to the world? Has the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) discovered that "at least 200 children are dying every a direct result of sanctions," as advocacy journalist John Pilger maintains on his Web site? Is it official U.N. belief that 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 are dying each month due to its own policy, as writers of letters to virtually every U.S. newspaper have stated repeatedly during the past three years?

The short answer to all of these questions is no.
And it's getting out. Even Slate magazine has published an article debunking it.

Go figure.


Network connection here's been going up and down like a yo-yo. Got AT&T coming out to look at it Tuesday. I loose connectivity about mid-morning, and around 6 PM it returns. Now watch - the tech will come at 7 PM, and everything will be fine...


VOTE.COM | Should State Lawmakers Limit Sniper Rifle Sales?

Whew! Take a look at the totals on this one!

Bear in mind, of course, that like all web polls it's essentially self-selected. Funny thing is just how far the numbers are skewed on this one, however.


Friday, February 15
New York Daily News Online | News and Views | Opinion | Jaime Sneider: Left's Got Columbia in a Stew
The most active student organization opposed to the war is known as People for Peace. It decries military strikes and other measures taken to defend national security. Outlining the People for Peace philosophy to me, one member gave the example of a missile heading toward a densely populated American city. According to him, "If they [the city's citizens] were a moral and enlightened people, they would wait patiently for death, encouraging a spirit of nonviolence." Curiously, People for Peace has yet to condemn Afghan civilians who have fled U.S. missiles.
I'm starting to think that non-violence is actually contra-survival.

Consider this little thought experiment:

Country A is a very nice country, where the people are all happy, they have enough resources to maintain a good standard of life and a decent national income.

Country B is a very nice country too, but has Josef Stalin as the leader.

Country A & B have a common border, with no geographical difficulties (IE mountain ranges, deep gorges, lakes, seas, and whatnot) precluding trade.

Country A has a totally non-violent (IE People For Peace-like) culture. They WILL not defend themselves - they see it as morally wrong to do so.

Country B is about on the order of the Soviet Union around 1965.

For 25 points - which country (and culture) will have effectively disappeared except as annotations and footnotes in maps and almanacs within 10 years?

Those who would commit violence have an advantage over those who would not.


Cheney: Iraq attack would be backed
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 — Vice President Dick Cheney said Friday the Bush administration believed it would have full international support for “aggressive” action against Iraq or other countries that support terrorism, and he vowed that any country developing weapons of mass destruction will “incur the wrath of the United States.”
Dig that bunker, Saddam. Dig it deep. Dig it strong. You're going to need it soon, I think. Possibly sooner than you think...


The Historian Who Couldn't Shoot Straight More on Bellesiles. It's not looking good at all for him.
Even Bellesiles's response is hardly definitive. Much of it is self-dramatizing and tangential. He spends nine pages pondering the relative importance of probate records, before condescending to address a selection of criticisms. He does not volunteer explanations for apparently nonexistent sources; except for the male-female mix-up, he stands by his Rhode Island counts; he seizes on small ambiguities to explain mountain-sized differences. Basically, he is unrepentant.
Looks like he's caught in a lie - and he knows it.

J. - Medical Sleuths Probe Mysterious Rash
PHILADELPHIA — Hundreds of youngsters in at least seven states have broken out in a mysterious rash, and some health investigators suspect it might be caused by a new or yet-to-be-identified virus.
The red, itchy rash appears to be more an annoyance than a serious health threat, but it has managed to temporarily close schools, worry parents and frustrate school administrators, for whom answers have been elusive.
Students in Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state have complained about rashes on the face, arms, legs and body. For the most part, the rash goes away when the students leave school.
It's the floor wax. I'll bet it's the floor wax. Never did trust that stuff. You take this semi-opaque liquid, smear it across tile floors, then buff the bejesus out of it and it looks shiny. What about all that stuff you buffed off - where did it go? Into the air, out as dust, inhaled...

Shudder. The Johnson's Wax company has much to answer for...

J. - Anti-Milk Group Keeps Its Support Shrouded
WASHINGTON — What once was a controversy over the relative health benefits of milk has turned into a fight over just who Americans can trust to tell them what is good for them.
The fight started after the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that opposes animal testing and promotes vegetarianism, started an anti-milk campaign in January. The group claimed milk does not improve bone health and can cause a variety of diseases including cancer, anemia and childhood diabetes.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Consumer Freedom shot back, releasing information and campaigning against the PCRM, insisting the group is a PETA front group that does business with animal rights leftists.
Turns out the PCRM is supported by backers of PETA, and the CCF is supported by restraunt groups.

Sigh. Who can you trust anymore? Next thing you know, cows will be telling us to eat more chicken.

J. - Cocaine speeds spread of AIDS virus - February 15, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Cocaine speeds up the rate at which the AIDS virus spreads through the bodies of mice, scientists reported.
Dr. Gayle Baldwin, a co-author of the UCLA study, said Thursday that the same phenomenon probably occurs in humans. But proving it would be difficult; she and others said such a study in humans would be unethical.
Using specially bred laboratory mice infected with HIV, the researchers found those injected with cocaine had 200 times as much of the AIDS-causing virus in their bloodstreams than did mice that received a placebo. After 10 days of daily doses of liquid cocaine, the mice also had twice as many HIV-infected cells.
So cocaine is an HIV facilitator? Wow.

Slowly, we're getting a handle on this stuff. I know there's some folks who say that AIDS is actually a government bio-engineering plot to get rid of homosexuals - but that would require a serious stretch of belief to manage. We're just now getting to a point where we really understand a lot of what's going on in cells and viruses - but 20 years ago we were supposed to be able to engineer a virus that is communicated sexually (but is difficult to contract) but by no other means, that co-opts the body's immune system and that adapts itself to the drugs used to fight it. Oh, and we just happen to turn loose Version 2 in Africa, the one that's easily caught through normal sex...

No, I'm not buying that horse. We MIGHT be able to make a simple viral pathogen now - we sure couldn't have 20+ years ago.

Still, that would seem to explain why communities that go in for excessive sex and drugs seem to have higher levels of HIV infection...

J. - White House backs Powell's safe-sex stance - February 15, 2002
Ken Connor, president of the conservative Family Research Council, called Powell's remarks reckless and irresponsible and urged President Bush to repudiate them.
"Young people need to know the truth that the only sure way to protect themselves from the spread of life-threatening, sexually transmitted diseases is to save sex for marriage," Connor said in a prepared statement.
James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, was even more blunt.
"Colin Powell is the secretary of state, not the secretary of health," Dobson said. "He is talking about a subject he doesn't understand," Dobson said.
Colin Powell - who has been in the military since he was a teen-ager, doesn't understand that unprotected sex leads to VD? You mean that all that military sex education is not needed, indeed worse than useless? All we've got to do is tell them not to fornicate outside of wedlock, and the problem's cured! Right?

GET REAL! Colin Powell ramrodded 100,000+ troops in Desert Storm - you think he didn't know what was going on medically?

Personally, I think that Dobson hasn't got a clue on this. IF you are sexually active, and IF you choose to have sex, is it better to use a condom or not? Okay - the best thing would be to NOT have sex, but you're talking about folks who ARE. Who WILL have sex. Is it better to tell them to use a condom (maybe reminding some of them who, in the heat of the moment, would forget?) or not say anything and have them NOT use a condom?

As far as Ken Connor goes - well, I stand by my statement. You use more than one weapon in a war. We're in a war against AIDS and other STDs. Figure that abstinence is 100% sure, but not everyone can use it because it can be a very heavy load. Condoms are 98% effective, and requires less strength to use. Going into action with NO protection - that should NOT be an acceptable option!

It may not be something that conservatives want to think about, but I think Powell's thoughts are a lot more sensible than those of the "Don't talk about it, and the kids won't do it" crowd. AIDS won't go away by wishing for abstinence outside of marriage, as Dobson and Connor would seem to think.

Powell knows war. You use every weapon you can when you're fighting one. And disregarding (or even discarding) the effectiveness of condoms in the battle against AIDS - that's just plain stupid.


Powell urges condom use on MTV
“It is important that the whole international community come together, speak candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you should tell young people about,” Powell told an MTV music channel audience. “It’s the lives of young people that are put at risk by unsafe sex. And, therefore, protect yourself.”
Powell’s remarks, aired last night on MTV and scheduled for rebroadcast around the globe, are consistent with U.S. support of international AIDS prevention programs. But they appeared to diverge from the message delivered by the president and other administration officials that abstinence from unmarried sex is the principal weapon against the spread of the deadly human immunodeficiency virus."
Abstinence works, that's for sure. As a principal weapon, it's 100% effective against STDs.

Show me the war, however, that was won with only one weapon. (And nope, Nagasaki and Hiroshima don't count. It took a whole lot of other weaponry to get to a point where we could deliver those two atomic bombs.)

If kids will abstain, that's great. If they aren't going to (which some won't, and let's face it - there's a whole lot of adults who know better but won't abstain either) then it's better they use some backup than not, right? And it's not exactly like there's a lot of pressure TO abstain from the media...

This looks to be folks trying to protect their turf. Powell's got a lot of credibility, and they're afraid their influence will be diminshed. Which, maybe, it should be - or perhaps redirected. Go for what CAN be accomplished - not for what just seems ideologically palatable.


Wednesday, February 13
Al-Qaida suspect blows himself up
SAN'A, Yemen, Feb. 13 — A suspected al-Qaida member carrying explosives blew himself up Wednesday after being cornered by security forces in a Yemeni suburb, police said. U.S. officials told NBC News the man was related to one of the Sept. 11 hijackers and was a suspected conspirator in the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000.
How does it, um-- how does it work?

I know not, my liege.

Consult the Book of Armaments!

Armaments, chapter two, verses nine to twenty-one.

And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, 'O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that, with it, Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits in Thy mercy.'

And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu--

Skip a bit, Brother.

And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less.
Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.'



One!... Two!... Five!

Three, sir!


[Killer Rabbit dies]

Obviously, the man never watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

After all, "Five" is right out...


Judge says she was pressured
French judge Marie Reine Le Gougne announced at a routine, post-competition judges’ meeting Tuesday that she voted for the Russians in the pairs figure skating final because she had been pressured to do so by the French figure skating association, NBC News learned Wednesday.

Okay, just why would the French Figure Skating Association want to see the Russians win?

WASHINGTON — The head of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan said Tuesday he discussed training exercises with allies in the war on terrorism — not possible actions against Iraq — during a meeting with Kuwaiti leaders.
"The short answer is we had no discussions about basing, staging or, in fact, any discussions about any operations in Iraq," Gen. Tommy Franks told reporters at the end of a brief visit to Kuwait, a key Washington ally in the Gulf region.
If they had, would we be stupid enough to admit it?

WASHINGTON — President Bush called on India and Pakistan to resolve their differences over Kashmir at the bargaining table and not on the battlefield, but he did not agree with Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf's call for the United States to mediate the dispute.
"The only way this issue is going to be solved is if the Pakistani government and the Indian government sit down and have serious, meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue," Bush said Wednesday. "And so the best thing our government can do is to encourage there to be a — to come to the table and start to have meaningful, real dialogue, and that's what we'll continue to press for."
They can have peace. Or they can have war. It's their choice - but we won't be caught in the middle here and the sooner both India and Pakistan realize it, the better. Neither side is in the right - and neither side is wrong, so the best they can do is just stand down and work things out.

If they will. Their politicians, of course, have a lot of prestiege riding on war.

WASHINGTON — Academics countering the first cracks in support for the war against terrorism have signed on to a lengthy statement justifying the war on moral grounds and calling it necessary for the defense of universal freedom and dignity for all humans.
More than 48 prominent scholars from major universities and think tanks across the country signed the statement, released Tuesday by the Institute for American Values.
For some reason, I'd give a group like this more credence than I would a group of 48 calling for a unilateral end to all hostilities and all military action by the US.


Because they realize what the other group wouldn't - that there are folks out there who don't care if the US is passive or not, to whom the very existance of a country where people may speak their mind, have the freedom to live pretty much as they want, where there is no state religion, where the government is not in control - that style of life is completely anathema to them and must be destroyed by any means. There is no co-existing with them, there is no 'cultural relativity' they observe, there is no tolerance of dissent or disagreement.

These guys don't like war, they don't want war - but the alternative is clearly worse.


Lindh Pleads Not Guilty to Charges
ALEXANDRIA, Va.- John Walker Lindh pleaded innocent Wednesday to a 10-count federal indictment that charged him with conspiring to kill Americans while a Taliban soldier, and aiding Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

"Not guilty, sir," Lindh said after U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III asked, "How do you plead to all the charges."
Okay, raise your hand if you expected him to plead "Guilty..."

Let's just look at where he was found. In a prison full of Al-Quaeda & Taliban supporters, just before an uprising where a lot of guards and some Americans got killed. Of course he's innocent!

Really, he's just an Eagle Scout who was taking a trip through Afghanistan, and was teaching the locals the rudiments of the English language and how to make fires more efficiently. He got isolated from the rest of his troop, and fell in with bad companions. (Think that's wild? Wait till the defense lawyers get through with opening statements....)


Daschle takes back criticism of Bush's 'axis of evil'
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday retreated from his criticism of President Bush for calling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil" in the war on terrorism.
"What I said was that I think it is important for us to stand united in our determination to reduce the tension and to deal directly with these three countries," Mr. Daschle said, backing away from remarks that even some of his top lieutenants did not support.
"There is no difference between myself and the president on the importance that we all put on dealing directly with these three countries," he said.
In a television interview Monday night, the South Dakota Democrat said Mr. Bush was wrong to label the three nations as an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address Jan. 29.
Or... "What I need to do is cover my ass, because a lot of my constituents wrote, phone, and e-mailed me expressing their displeasure. Also, folks in the DNC who would support me otherwise told me I was being an idiot and if I didn't change my tune I'd get shit for support come election time."

Nice to see reason prevail. However, I still think he's toast come elections. There's some who think he's setting up for a Presidential run - he's not got a chance, in my opinion.


Bush planning to topple Hussein
WASHINGTON - President Bush has decided to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power and ordered the CIA, the Pentagon and other agencies to devise a combination of military, diplomatic and covert steps to achieve that goal, senior U.S. officials said yesterday.
No military strike is imminent, but Bush has concluded that Hussein and his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs are such a threat to U.S. security that the Iraqi dictator must be removed, even if U.S. allies do not help, said the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.
There's a message here, and it's an important one. Remember, the Bush White House doesn't leak. Info coming out is supposed to come out.

Saddam doesn't get it. But he will. I would imagine he's looking at what happened to the Taliban. He'd best take it as a warning.


Voices From the Fringe - Embattled stars, Hollywood's and the NRA's.
It isn't easy to follow the stories, not to mention the travel plans, of all the Hollywood luminaries who announced plans to leave the country in the event their candidate lost the presidency. As he did in 2000, despite countless warnings by Barbra Streisand, Cher, Julia Roberts and similar analysts that a George W. Bush presidency would bring a wave of repression as yet unmatched in our history. As Ms. Streisand explained it, "Our whole way of life is at stake."

Notwithstanding the new dark age to fall on us if Al Gore went down to defeat, Ms. Streisand and company issued no declarations about leaving the country--a wise move. At least one member of the House of Baldwin may have wished he'd done the same by the time he'd finished efforts to undo the messes issuing from just such a bulletin about his own plans in the event Mr. Bush became president.
Actors play roles. They played the role of "I'm so afraid of a Republican President I'll Move if One Gets Elected". Then, when it was time, they dropped the role.

After all, nobody expected them to actually keep their word...


Tuesday, February 12
Depict the Flag Raising at Ground Zero of the WTC Attack as it Actually Occurred! Sign the Petition

I don't normally encourage passing around stuff indiscriminately - but this I think is an exception.

For a long time now, we've been far too worried about 'political correctness' and revised a lot of our past history to avoid offending people.

In other words, we lie so nobody will be mad.

However, how different is a terrorist organization that's rewriting history to get more support from it's people - from what we're doing in the name of political correctness?

You combat lies by insisting on the truth. In this case, the truth of what happened is more important than cultural relativism, more important than inclusiveness. When you rewrite history - it's very hard to stop once you start...

J. - Bush advisory board to advance black colleges - February 12, 2002
President Bush on Tuesday created a presidential advisory board for historically black colleges and universities.
The president signed an executive order establishing the board, which includes sitting presidents of the colleges, representatives of private foundations and other educational institutions, business and financial leaders and high school administrators.
Bush charged the panel with submitting an annual report with recommendations on advancing historically black schools in terms of academic performance, use of technology, financial planning and development, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Wasn't one of the reasons Bush was unfit to be President was because he was supposedly a racist?

Personally, I think he's a bigot.

He doesn't like stupid people.

He won't stand for incompetent people.

He looks for the best folk he can find to fill a position, regardless of skin color, which is openly and completely unfair.

He doesn't think government is the best solution to every problem, so he's unfit to lead.

The man actually seems to expect RESULTS instead of excuses - regardless of skin color. This is very unfair of him.

He respects the military, and lets them decide how to prosecute a war. That proves how unfit he is to lead the country.

He's an advocate of personal responsibility. This is biased against those who want to blame others for their problems.

Personally, I wish we had more bigots like him in office. It'd be a nice change if our politicians got the message we expect performance from them, instead of campaign promises. (Then again, isn't there a saying about "Be glad you don't get all the government you pay for?)

You know, the Democratic lies pre-election (IE Bush too dumb, racist, incompetent manager, ect) just aren't panning out well at all for them. I wonder how they can salvage things?


Doc's Bloggs
There was a HUGE fetish/goth/industrial party on a boat in Chelsea pier. It's an annual party, called VESAGO. Janice and I go to these things now and then for fun. Anyhow, I had it worked out ahead of time that one of the performing Dominatrixes (Madame Cole de Sade) would call me up on stage and begin to body paint me. They took off my shirt and began to cover my torso with neon chinese characters. Unbeknownst to the audience, on my back they wrote "JANICE WILL YOU MARRY ME?". They called Janice up to the front of the stage, and then they turned me around. There was a moment of silence, then the crowd went wild. Cheers and flashbulbs all over the place. I knelt down on the stage and proffered the ring. Many people we did not know took pictures.
Ran across this - the gent's a 3rd year resident, and this is one of the most interesting proposal stories I've seen.

Makes my proposal to Sue seem downright boring. (Except for the corks.)


Brassknuckles Fairytales
Hansel and Gretel were lost in the woods when they came upon a house made of candy and cake. An old witch invited them in and then captured both of them intending to eat them. Gretel had a chance save both of them by pushing the old woman in an oven but she decided that it would be wrong not to respect the witch's cultural traditions. So Gretel and her brother allowed themselves to be cooked and eaten. The witch was so happy with the children's actions that she invited all of her witch friends to the area. Soon thereafter, they ate every child in a hundred mile radius. Soon the whole area was filled with nothing but child eating witches and all the witches were very happy!

The Moral of the Story: You must respect the culture of others, even at your own expense!
There's 4 other stories, each in the same vein. I think the morals, however, a just a BIT twisted...



Monday, February 11 - Bush lays out his health care agenda - February 11, 2002
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (CNN) -- President Bush outlined his health care agenda Monday in a speech designed to frame the administration's views on what could be a key issue in the congressional midterm elections later this year.

With control of both houses of Congress in the balance in the November elections, debate is expected on subjects ranging from HMO reform and prescription drug benefits for the elderly to medical research and federal support of community health care centers that serve low-income Americans.

Speaking at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Bush laid out a series of proposals he has made in the past and urged Congress to take action on them this year.
And I'll bet you that if anything he comes up with is remotely useable and feasible, the Democrats are going to squash it flatter than a pancake.

Pardon my cynicism, but they have a vested interest in making sure that NO change happens except what they sponsor.

Consider, for example, one proposal.
Encourage Congress to use tax credits as incentives for employers and individuals to purchase health insurance. Bush favors a $1,000 tax credit for individuals and up to $3,000 for families who purchase their own health insurance.
From what I've heard, that's $1000 or $3000 directly OFF the taxes. But it also puts the requirement on the person to find the insurance themselves - where the Democrats will probably want to provide some sort of health care which will cause an increase in taxes.

This is going to get interesting. We'll see how well Bush gets his message out, and how Daschle tries to jam it.

(Frankly, after Daschle's stalling of the stimulus packages, he'd better be ready to find a new job come elections. And if he were to run for President, I'll donate money to the Republican party.)

J. - New Jersey Stands Up for Founding Fathers
NEW YORK — A patriotic charge from New Jersey parents and legislators has prevented the state's Board of Education from nixing the Founding Fathers from the school curriculum.
But months of hearings still lie ahead to flesh out the details of precisely what early American history kids in New Jersey will learn, and what will go the educational way of George Washington's chopped-down cherry tree.
The controversy began when the outgoing education commissioner omitted the names of the Founding Fathers in a draft of the state's proposed history standards.
That action was sharply criticized by State Sen. Gerald Cardinale, who accused the educational establishment of wanting to "hijack" history. "They've got the tools and the authority, and if we don't call public attention to it they will be successful," he said.
And what was Winston Smith's job in the Ministry of Truth?

Those who are determined to control the future would do well to rewrite the past....


Yahoo! News - Review: Afghan Civilian Deaths Lower
KABUL, Afghanistan - The cemetery is little more than a scattering of stones across a dusty hillside. A few tattered green flags flutter in the winter wind, marking the resting place of casualties of war.

Such grave sites are haunting reminders of civilian deaths that have scarred the U.S. air war in Afghanistan
But authorities have not calculated Afghanistan's civilian death toll in the war on terrorism, and the dimension of this tragedy is not fully known. Although estimates have placed the civilian dead in the thousands, a review by The Associated Press suggests the toll may be in the mid-hundreds, a figure reached by examining hospital records, visiting bomb sites and interviewing eyewitnesses and officials.
We went to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. The Taliban and Al-Quaeda went to great lengths to mix with civilians, because they knew they were dead otherwise.

(Shrug.) That's war. Like it or loath it, we did our best to avoid civilian casualties. I'm damn sure that the other side wouldn't have bothered - indeed, they wouldn't have cared one bit.


Overdosing on sweethearts
Arriving as an immigrant to the USA, I found many holiday customs inexplicable: Halloween sweaters; piñatas (“So you buy this charming expensive decoration, and you do what with it?”); gingerbread houses. But nothing puzzled me so much as Valentine’s Day.
A hilarious look at it from the outside.


Tehran marks Islamic revolution TEHRAN, Feb. 11 — Tens of thousands of Iranians marched in Tehran’s Freedom Square on Monday to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in a show of defiance against U.S. charges that Iran formed part of an “axis of evil.”
Tens of thousands? Maybe... maybe. Looking at the video on it, I'm not sure. Maybe 10,000 - but you have to wonder just how much of this was a 'spontaneous' demonstration. There were other people, according to the reporter, who were chanting in support of the USA.... Many were bussed in, lots of older people... hmmm. And there's 65 million in Iran...

There's a big gap between the people and the government. Not many young people visible in the demonstration, and the under 30's account for over 2/3rds, as I recall. Not convincing as an anti-US demonstration, I think.


Sunday, February 10
A VERY handy link -

Order Pizza Online at Papa Johns Pizza.

And this one COULD be handy. Anyone tried it yet?

NetFlix: DVDs delivered - all you want - $20 a month.



This has me worried.

1 dead, dozens ill at N.J. convention

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Feb. 10 — A woman died Sunday and seven others were hospitalized after falling ill during a mortgage company’s convention at a hotel outside Philadelphia.
Looks like it could be either bacterial pneumonia or meningitis. I remember Legionaire's Disease...

And I also think I've read too much Tom Clancy. His novel "Rainbow Six" comes to mind, as well as "Executive Orders".

This one bears watching.


From Denbeste's blog, USS Clueless -
Unfortunately, it isn't clear that sending food to North Korea actually will help the starving there. There's good reason to believe that prior food aid was being diverted by the government, who was not delivering it to the starving in the countryside. If the only result of food aid has actually been to prop up a despotic government, are we actually harming the people of North Korea more than helping them with it, in the long run? How can we help the people of a nation when their own government doesn't care about them and sees political advantage in letting them starve?
The immediate answer is - by going in and destroying that government. After all, we did it with the Taliban - an ersatz government that blatantly didn't really care one whit about the people it governed - but got a kick out of whipping them when they didn't behave according to THEIR version of Islam.

But we went after them, not when it was apparent that they were totally insane in their practices (like whipping women who didn't wear mattress sacks and destroying the Buddhist statues wasn't crazy enough) but when they gave sanctuary to some bozos who attacked us.

North Korea, for the most part, has kept it's insanity in it's own borders. And, as Denbeste points out, we provide the majority of their aid. It may well be that Real Soon Now we're going to have to pull an Afganistan on them - and we'll have South Korea to help us. They aren't any happier than we are that North Korea is the way it is....


Going to Disney? Take a look at Intercot.

Oh, dang. So much for op-sec.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Emory professor's book 'biased', peers say
Historians who reviewed an Emory University history professor's controversial book on America's gun culture raise serious questions about his scholarly competence, according to David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Emory law professor and political historian.

The four essays to be published this week in the William and Mary Quarterly do not accuse Emory professor Michael Bellesiles of deliberate deception, Garrow said after reviewing advance proofs obtained by the Journal-Constitution.

But three of the essays "portray Bellesiles consistently as an extremely careless, sloppy and biased historian," Garrow said of the articles written by fellow historians about Bellesiles' 2000 book, "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture."
Oddly enough, Bellesiles actually tries defending himself here.
"Bellesiles said his book should not be the final word on the subject.

"The ambiguities and the discrepancies of the evidence make plain the necessity of further research," he wrote. " 'Arming America' does not close the case, nor does it pretend to do so."

"He [Bellesiles] has the courage to question fundamental assumptions about the relationship between guns, gun culture, and homicide," Roth wrote. "But he never tests his thesis against the best available evidence, and it appears that every mistake he makes in his own calculations goes in the same direction, in support of his thesis."

In his response, Bellesiles said he regrets that none of the essays in the forum address the issue of gun production, which he wrote about extensively in his book. "Why, if most Americans, or even just most white male adult Americans, owned firearms, did the government devote so much effort and money promoting the manufacture and use of firearms?"
Perhaps because there were never ENOUGH firearms in the pre-mass production days? When each firearm is hand-made, it's going to cost more and take longer to make than something mass-produced. Firearms were eminently desireable, and there were never enough to meet the demand.
"Bellesiles invites other scholars to compare his evidence against any other material they find, but that differing interpretations do not undermine his conclusion because, "No one part of my evidence clinches the book's thesis."
No one part? Seems to me like he's drawing conclusions then, based on evidence he admits doesn't clinch his argument.

I'm sorry - but if this is an example of how a historian does things I'm not impressed. He really seems to have gone into the subject with pre-conceived ideas, and is willfully ignorant of even the basics of the history of the industry.


BBC News | ASIA-PACIFIC | East Timor chooses political system
East Timor's parliament has approved a draft of the constitution it will adopt when it becomes formally independent in May.

Officials said the charter envisions a parliamentary system supported by a largely symbolic president, and is loosely based on the Portuguese political arrangement
Man, I sure hope it works for them. They've had a heck of a time, with the attack by Indonesia after they declared independence.


BBC News | ASIA-PACIFIC | N Korea says US is 'empire of the devil'
N Korea says US is 'empire of the devil'

North Korea - named by US President George Bush as part of an "axis of evil" - has described the US as the "empire of the devil".
The official North Korean news agency said Mr Bush was using the threat supposedly posed by North Korea as a pretext for a huge increase in defence spending.
Earlier this week, Mr Bush presented Congress with a $2,000bn budget, which represents the biggest military build-up since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Ummm.... that was the total US budget, not the US Military budget. As is it, the military will be getting only about 16-17 percent of it.

I find it rather difficult to imagine what we could provide to the military for $2 Trillion.

And North Korea's got a hell of a nerve, talking about evil. THAT place - it's a hell-hole.


Saturday, February 9
Just how powerful is America - and is it too powerful for its own good? Another excerpt.
Yes, you would think Europe would be a bit less antsy about American military power. After all - what threat is it to them? And just how much money has it saved them?
Europe, Japan, China, all spent some money to arm themselves during the Cold War, but it was American money that did the bulk of the work. It's never even argued that that defense dividend paid off hugely for Japan and Europe, and to a great degree beginning in the 1970's it paid off for China.
So you've got, if not free, then certainly discounted defense, and you haven't the slightest bit of fear that we'll come after you, and the absolute assurance that should anyone come after you we'll be on them like grizzly on salmon. You've also got the assurances that we'll keep shipping lanes open as we have for ages, and if any single person has even the slightest iota of doubt that the U.S. navy - most specifically in Asia and the Gulf - has played a massive role in keeping vital oil and shipping lanes free and open (including against the Chinese, something that looks like it may be coming more to the forefront as time goes on) then that person is woefully ignorant of the reality if the situation.
I really like that line - "We'll be on them like grizzly on salmon." Pretty much says it all, eh?


From the Guardian - Just How Powerful IS America, and is it too powerful for it's own good?

This is a rather interesting series of responses to the Guardian on an article by the same name. Out of 45 reviewed so far, not a single one agrees with the Guardian's slant. (This comes as no surprise to me, though I daresay the Guardian can't understand it.)

A sample exerpt follows:
Our country was founded and continues to be enriched by people who are leaving theirs. Our freedom and our domestic tranquility have made us a power unrivaled in the history of the world and the gap between us and the rest of the world is only going to increase. If I were anyone but an American, I would have very deep, deep concerns. However, I am an American and I only have deep concerns.

Complain and discuss all you want but this is what is going to happen. Note our reaction to 9/11. We did not go out in the streets and burn mosques, riot or demonstrate. We mourned and then we became quietly angry. We are filled with a resolve which has not yet become apparent to the rest of the world but, when it does, if you think you have very deep, deep concerns now .....

We are coming and there is not a thing anyone, anywhere in the world can do about it. We are prepared to act unilaterally because working with the world hasn't gotten the job done. Those decisions have already been made in the taverns and on the streets and in the little places where we gather to exercise our freedom of speech. How we go about doing what we're going to do is now the topic of discussion.

In this regard, one lesson of Viet Nam, the honoring of sanctuary, has not been lost on the average American. Everywhere is a potential target.
I was impressed by the quality of the replies. Very well thought out, cogent, concise bits - by folks who are getting just a little tired of being seen as the bad guys.


Scientific American: Feature Article: Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor: February 2002
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the struggle for survival is how easily organisms can be harmed by that which they desire. The trout is caught by the fisherman's lure, the mouse by cheese. But at least those creatures have the excuse that bait and cheese look like sustenance. Humans seldom have that consolation. The temptations that can disrupt their lives are often pure indulgences. No one has to drink alcohol, for example. Realizing when a diversion has gotten out of control is one of the great challenges of life.
You ever wonder if television is addictive?

It is.

Read this article, before you turn on the tube again.

J. - Members of foreign media frown on patriotic ceremony SALT LAKE CITY -- While Americans gave the Winter Olympic opening ceremony red, white and blue raves, some members of the foreign press were critical of the festivities' patriotic overtones.
Most of their criticism was about the tie-ins to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, especially the procession of the flag recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center.
"This is wrong," Hafez Dahi, sports writer for Al-Siyassah daily newspaper in Kuwait, said as he watched part of the ceremony with friends back home. "This is supposed to be just sports."
U.S. athletes and police officers carried the flag into the stadium while the Mormon Tabernacle choir sang the national anthem at the beginning of the ceremony, which also featured a New York City police officer singing "God Bless America" and the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. hockey team lighting the Olympic cauldron.
Gee. You know, if you read further into the article, you get this tally.

Russia - "It is annoying that they are bringing the Ground Zero flag. ... It doesn't have anything to do with the Olympics."

Sweden - "Everywhere American flags were being waved. It felt more like the United States' Olympic Games than the world's," and "The ceremony was a big tribute to the U.S and all Americans got their share -- the Indians, the pioneers, the Mormons and the victims of the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center." Call that one 50-50, as well as another Swedish tabloid, Expressen, wrote there was an "emotional statement against the world's terrorists," but possibly too much of one, adding that the use of the flag "even made the International Olympic Committee react that the statement was too political."

3 1/2 to 1 against...

France: "Paris' Le Monde praised organizers for providing "a quite sober and well-done spectacle, alternating lightness and gravity, never grandiloquent or vulgar." (Who'd have thought it from them?)

Japan: Yomiuri Shimbun, the largest national paper, wrote that the "first major global event since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States ... also became the center stage for America's declaration against terrorism." The front page featured pictures of Americans signing and waving flags, alone with a banner headline that read: "Fight against terrorism, with pride and emotion." Asahi Shimbun, another national daily, wrote: "Patriotic Olympia marks a fresh start for records and reconstruction."

3 1/2 against, to 4 in favor.

But I wouldn't have expected support from France.

France. Go figure...


Britain’s Princess Margaret dies

And time marches on - stopping not for koalas or royalty.



Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You - Powers Of 10: Interactive Java Tutorial

This is a very neat site - it's rather a slow load, but worth it.

J. - World's oldest documented koala dies at 19 - February 8, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- A koala believed to be the world's oldest documented male member of its species has died in San Francisco at age 19, officials said Friday.

San Francisco Zoo spokeswoman Nancy Chan said "Clarry" the koala died Thursday at his indoor enclosure at the zoo's "Koala Crossing" exhibit. Officials said Clarry began showing unmistakable signs of advanced age in recent months, including loss of muscle mass.

"He was also a little forgetful," said Rumsey. "But he was still spry enough to climb a tree."
Ummm... how can you tell if a koala gets a little forgetful?


Patten lays into Bush's America
Chris Patten, the EU commissioner in charge of Europe's international relations, has launched a scathing attack on American foreign policy - accusing the Bush administration of a dangerously "absolutist and simplistic" stance towards the rest of the world.
As EU officials warned of a rift opening up between Europe and the US wider than at any time for half a century, Mr Patten tells the Guardian it is time European governments spoke up and stopped Washington before it goes into "unilateralist overdrive".

"Gulliver can't go it alone, and I don't think it's helpful if we regard ourselves as so Lilliputian that we can't speak up and say it," he says in today's interview.

Mr Patten's broadside came as the French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, warned the US yesterday not to give in to "the strong temptation of unilateralism".
Sorry, but Gulliver CAN go it alone. The European contributions in Afghanistan were not exactly impressive. The Brits helped a lot - everyone else sat back saying "Oh, it'll not be good! We've got to stop to make sure food can get through. We've got to stop for Ramadan. We have to stop for the weather. We must stop because we might hit civilians. We have to stop because we're not sure what the end result will be."

Well, what would have been the end result if we HAD? Relief supplies would have been stopped & stolen by the Taliban/Al-Quaeda, leading to mass starvation. Attributable to us, because we had stopped instead of continuing.

And I hate to say it, but isn't Bosnia a magnificent expression of what happens when it's more important to get a consensus going before taking military action than actually taking care of the problem in the first place? How many people died because of the slowness of Coalition/UN Forces to act when it was needed?

Bluntly, we have a military that beats anything that NATO could come up with. We have a military that actually STUDIES what goes on in the world, and forms plans accordingly. We have a military that does an extensive amount of "What-If" wargaming, and learns from both that and the mistakes we've made over the years. Yet we have let ourselves be hobbled in the past by becming part of a comittee to take care of problems that shold have been dealt with when they were first problems - not when ignoring them was no longer a choice (As the Serb-Croat war was.)

How many more must die before it's clear that you can't run a war by comittee, that the one who brings the most power to the table, who has studied things most, should have the biggest say in how that power should be used?
"There is more to be said for trying to engage and to draw these societies into the international community than to cut them off," he says.
We tried constructive engagement with the Taliban. (Actually, we tried "Leave them the hell alone, because they're nutcases.") Worked real well, didn't it? Now they want to continue propping up societies that are visibly falling apart, as if it's some sort of virtue to maintain repressive governments. Maybe sometimes the best thing to do is whap 'em a good one, instead of giving them stern looks and muttering under your breath about what may happen if they don't clean up their act. Then giving them more stern looks and muttering when they don't.

There's going to have to be a change in the world - a change where countries are NOT allowed to repress their own people. Not allowing communications is repression - not allowing free travel is repression. Actively starving your people so you can buy/build weapons of mass destruction (as Iraq/N. Korea does) is repression.

It's time to stop listening to those who encourage repression. It may be time to take active measures against them.


Friday, February 8 - Net access reaches final frontier - February 7, 2002 EarthLink and Paramount boldly go into

February 7, 2002 Posted at: 10:55 a.m. EST (1555 GMT)

By Laura Rohde,
IDG News Service
(IDG) -- In a hope that Trekkies can be made into paying ISP customers, EarthLink and Viacom subsidiary Paramount Digital Entertainment have joined to create an ISP themed around "Star Trek."
You mean there are Trekkies who AREN'T on the web? Gasp!


eBay item 1803711193 (Ends Feb-12-02 18:57:07 PST ) -


Don't know if you plan on going camping - but if you do, and you decide to get some MREs to take with you, don't get the dark-brown-wrapper ones. They're close on to 8 years old, possibly up to 16.

Okay - now if you've GOT some that are that old, how do you tell if they're okay?

The candy and such in them will probably be fine, though hard as a rock. Likewise things like cake or bread - they'll probably be okay, though they may not be as appetizing as if they were less than, oh, five years old. Applesauce and entrees - examine the retort pouch before you open it. If you see any delamination of the layers, any bubbling of the plastic, discard it. If you go ahead and eat it, figure you've got a 50/50 chance of a trip to an emergency room real soon, or you're going to get REALLY acquainted with Mr. Toilet.

If the vinyl wrapper of the MRE you're about to open is sucked in tight around the contents, discard it without opening (trust me - your nose will appreciate it) and try another. If it's bloated out hard as a drum, then discard it - only sadness and weeping will ensue if you open it and take a sniff.

The reason it sucks in is because of aerobic bacteria - the ones who like oxygen. One of the foil pouches has ruptured, and the moisture's allowed bacteria to flourish - till they run out of oxygen. Trust me, you don't want to open it.

The bloated ones - some bacteria survived the sterilization process and started dividing - producing gas which caused one of the foil pouches to rupture. Depending on how old it is, the other pouch may have failed too - and you'll have a rotting mess on your hands. Don't open it - or give it to someone you really don't like and tell 'em it's normal for an mre to be puffed out like that...

Of course, they'll hate you after they open it...


New Scientist

Teleporting larger objects becomes real possibility

19:00 06 February 02
Anil Ananthaswamy

The dream of teleporting atoms and molecules - and maybe even larger objects - has become a real possibility for the first time. The advance is thanks to physicists who have suggested a method that in theory could be used to "entangle" absolutely any kind of particle.
Quantum entanglement is the bizarre property that allows two particles to behave as one, no matter how far apart they are. If you measure the state of one particle, you instantly determine the state of the other. This could one day allow us to teleport objects by transferring their properties instantly from one place to another.
Well - guess it remains to be seen if this will turn out to be useful, or just a scientific curiosity.

I must admit, there's times I wish I was about the same age as Aaron right now. There's so much that's coming in the scientific community - it's an exciting time to be alive.

Now, if we could just get this Al-Quaeda crap ironed out...

J. - Investigators: Phone cards link Reid to al Qaeda - February 8, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- New evidence has emerged linking Richard Reid, who is charged with trying to blow up a U.S. commercial jet by lighting explosives in his shoes, to one of Osama bin Laden's European cells, CNN has learned.
The new link to al Qaeda, the terrorist network run by bin Laden, involves phone cards.
When he was arrested in Boston, Reid carried a pre-paid phone card that was compatible only with public phones in Belgium, according to European law enforcement sources.
Phone records show that card was used to place a call to a cell phone linked to another Belgian pre-paid phone card. That second card was found in the Brussels apartment of suspected al Qaeda terrorist Nizar Trabelsi. He was arrested in Brussels on September 13 and is implicated in a plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
Everything's connected these days. Folks can track e-mails written from public computers - track phone cards - what's a terrorist organization to do? Use the Post Office?


Cockpit intruder appears in court
A Uruguayan subdued with an ax when he allegedly stormed the cockpit of a U.S. passenger jet has no ties to terrorist organizations, his lawyer said after the man appeared in a Miami court Friday. U.S. prosecutors steered clear of calling Pablo Moreira Mosca a terrorist but said he was dangerous and had told people on the flight he wanted to “destroy everything” after he crashed through the reinforced door of a United Airlines flight from Miami to Buenos Aires Thursday.
Oh, I can't WAIT to see how this one is spun.

Then again, there might not be any spin put on it. After all, it's hard to 'defend' someone who broke in a cockpit door. And I'm pretty sure he wasn't looking for the bathroom. (Unless he was really confused and REALLY needed to go...)


Targeting Saddam
Listening to George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, I made the naive assumption that the president’s belligerent rhetoric about states that threaten us with weapons of mass destruction actually meant something in terms of administration policy. Subsequent spin and leaks from the White House indicate that it did not.
One of the things it would be well to remember - GWB doesn't allow leaks from the White House. Or so I've seen in other articles. I understand it's almost a firing offense. He WILL NOT allow that sort of stuff to go on.

Figure if it came out of the White House, it isn't a 'leak' - it's planned. Of course, this causes problems with all the deal-mongers inside the Beltway. How are they supposed to operate in an environment where the rules aren't what they're used to? Where each man is looking out for #1, always?

Dang - you get folks in who are actually concerned about the good of the country, and the system goes all to hell.

Heh. Ain't it great?


George and Jack
Let's face it. This first Republican president of the 21st century champions the same signature policies that Democrat John F. Kennedy did in the early 1960s.
Here’s Bush in his State of the Union:
“History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.”
Here is JFK in his Inaugural:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
So the question is - has the Republican party 0f 2002 drifted so far to the left that it matches the Democratic party of 1960? Which makes you kind of wonder where the Democratic party of 2002 would stand on the 1960's Republican/Democrat scale.