Tuesday, May 31
Now in convenient capsules!
My grand-daughter Trixie has written of her "sleep compiler", an advanced electronic bio-feedback device that allows you to get by on just two or three hours of sleep a night. (It also lets you subscribe to the cable-dream network, but that's a post for another day.)
We seem to be catching up fast on Trixie's 22nd century world, unless it turns out that modafinil (pronounced like mow-daffodil) has some nasty side effects. Nastier than rashes and upset tummies anyway.
Modafinil (marketed as Provigil) has the curious effect of suppressing your urge to sleep. You still get tired - just not sleepy. And you still can sleep; it doesn't cause insomnia. It's just that you can remain awake and alert for extended periods without the need for sleep, and without the familiar side-effects of caffeine and amphetamines.*
It's not a stimulant; there's no high with modafinil. You wake up feeling rested, you find it easy to concentrate, you feel like doing work. You may also find yourself grinning like a feral chipmunk, so if this is not normal for you, you might find it best to keep your office door closed.
This site has first hand reports from people who have tried modifinil. It's interesting stuff, if subjective and occasionally unsettling:
I would warn that there might be a contraindication for high doses of Wellbutrin plus Provigil. I should mention I had some meth-amphetamine metabolites running around in my system from the previous night's partying (2 healthy sized tokes).Uh, yeah. My liver has gone into hiding just reading that.
Is modafinil the magic, um, sleep thingy? No-one's ready to come out and say so just yet. As a sufferer of the dread 28-hour sleep cycle† I'm more than a little interested; as a cowardly chicken who ain't gonna take no nasty pills‡ I'm inclined to wait and see.
Now I'm just waiting for the modafinil spam to arrive.
* Well, I'm not personally familiar with the side-effects of amphetamines, but they have been studied extensively.
† Left to my own devices, I sleep ten hours out of twenty-eight, rather than eight out of twenty-four. I'm never ready to go to bed in time to get enough sleep so that I'll be ready to get up in the morning, if you follow me. If I go to bed at 11 pm, say, I don't want to get up until 9, and even if I crawl out of bed at 7 I'm not ready to sleep again until 1 am. I've been this way since my teens, so I've learned to live with it.
One thing that helps is that there are exactly six 28-hour days in a normal muggle week. So if I take a week off and let my sleep pattern take its natural course, it's back in sync at the end... Or actually, eight hours out, which is what happens every weekend, which I counter with a nap on Sunday afternoon, except then I don't get to sleep until late and...
It's after midnight, and I'm fully alert, and I have to go to bed now or I won't get up in the morning. Bah.
‡ Except my anti-sneeze tablets, because without those, life ain't worth living.
Le vote franÃ§ais plonge l'Union europÃ©enneYou can say that again.
dans une pÃ©riode d'incertitudes
De hoppity-hop de-hop de-hop
De hoppity-hop de-hop de-hop de-hop-hop-hop -
Chop chop chop.
Sunday, May 29
Four installs and two failed upgrades later, I'm up and running.
Fedora Core 4 Test 3 came out on the 10th of May. Today is the 28th. There are already 1.2 gigabytes of updates available.
Also to be expected: There's more than one type of DVI cable. This is the wrong type.
Hmm. Okay, what I have is a DVI-I single-link cable. What I need is a DVI-D cable... Or a pair of needle-nose wirecutters. What I want is a DVI-D dual-link cable. Oh look, here's one, only $250. Maybe I'll try another store...
I went and did it. Currently installing about 8GB of software. Should take about half an hour.
Lots of shiny new toys to play with; my old Linux box was running Fedora Core 2, which is a year old now.
What's amazing is the amount of stuff that's left out. Nethack? Pike? Metakit? No sign of them, or of ten thousand other packages. Okay, 90% of them are crap, but that leaves an awful lot of good stuff.
So, I backed everything up yet again, checked it, double-checked it, triple checked it, and then installed the replacement video card in my new computer (the GeForce 6600 non-GT).
Stuck the CentOS 4 disk in and discovered that my computer no longer has a DVD-ROM drive. Ten minutes of fiddling with the BIOS options got it back, and it turns out that CentOS 4 has no idea what a GeForce 6600 is, and crashes when it tries to go into graphics mode.
Okay, pulled out Fedora Core 4 Test 3. That works. Mmmf. This means I can't easily do a test upgrade before wiping the LVM that it built when I gave up fiddling with that poxy pagan piece of shit.* Unless, maybe...
I'd say the hell with it, but this machine currently contains my only complete, easily accessible copy of my anime fansub collection.
* Disk Druid, Red Hat's partitioning utility. It sucks.
Saturday, May 28
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:
"We invaded you last night - we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That youâ€™ve only to pay â€™em the Dane-geld
And then youâ€™ll get rid of the Dane!
It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But weâ€™ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:
"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"
Is one of these puppies. 8 64-bit MIPS cores, 32-way multithreaded (4 per core), two 64-bit DDR2-800 memory controllers and a 32-bit QDR SRAM controller, four gigabit ethernet ports and two ten-gigabit ethernet ports, HyperTransport and PCI-X.
Even better, rip out the PCI-X and replace it with twenty channels of PCI-E, which would be a huge improvement. Drop Linux or BSD on it and it will power a thousand websites without even breathing hard.
Friday, May 27
Why doesn't "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" translate as "The beautiful woman who never says thankyou"?
While I've been busy slapping down American journalists and academics, Gregory Djerejian has been doing the same to European diplomats, who are, if anything, worse:
As older societies, we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way societies evolve, and we tend to be skeptical of Americans who seem to think that if you believe hard enough, and you muster enough resources, you can change the world.Wolfgang Ischinger, German Ambassador to the United States there. Thank you Ambassador Ischinger. We well remember your country's last two attempts to change the world. more...
Thursday, May 26
In Historians vs. George W. Bush, Robert S. McElvaine examines the extreme and systematic liberal bias of historians, presenting gems like this analaysis of the President:
He is blatantly a puppet for corporate interests, who care only about their own greed and have no sense of civic responsibility or community service. He lies, constantly and often, seemingly without control, and he lied about his invasion into a sovereign country, again for corporate interests; many people have died and been maimed, and that has been lied about too. He grandstands and mugs in a shameful manner, befitting a snake oil salesman, not a statesman. He does not think, process, or speak well, and is emotionally immature due to, among other things, his lack of recovery from substance abuse. The term is "dry drunk". He is an abject embarrassment/pariah overseas; the rest of the world hates him . . . . . He is, by far, the most irresponsible, unethical, inexcusable occupant of our formerly highest office in the land that there has ever been.It's the same stuff we see every day from the fever swamp, completely at odds with the facts, hopelessly emotional, personally abusive, but in this case it's presented as an academic analysis of the present administration.
The thing is, after spending several paragraphs showing us just how sadly deranged his colleagues are and thereby earning our respect, McElvaine suddenly veers leftward into the swamp with his own assessment of the Bush Administration. He suggests that Bush:
Presided over the loss of approximately three million American jobs in his first two-and-a-half years in office, the worst record since Herbert Hoover.Collapse of the dot-com bubble? September 11? What about the other nearly two years of his administration? No, let's pick the period that makes him look the worst, ignore any other factors, and present that as a statement of fact. We are, after all, Historians.
Overseen an economy in which the stock market suffered its worst decline in the first two years of any administration since Hooverâ€™s.Right, bucko. Take a look at this:The Dot-Com bubble. Artificial inflation of high-tech stock prices (Alan Greenspan's "irrational exuberance") added trillions of dollars to the stock market during the Clinton administration. When the bubble burst, it wiped $4 trillion off the market. The September 11 attack sank the market by another trillion. How President Bush can be held responsible for either of these is frankly beyond me, but then, I'm not a Historian.
Taken, in the wake of the terrorist attacks two years ago, the greatest worldwide outpouring of goodwill the United States has enjoyed at least since World War IIWhich lasted all of what, five minutes?
and squandered it by insisting on pursuing a foolish go-it-almost-alone invasion of IraqI love that phrase, "a foolish go-it-almost-alone invasion".
thereby transforming almost universal support for the United States into worldwide condemnation.The coalition of the unbribed freed the people Iraq from a murderous thug and gave them a chance for self-determination. That matters to me, but then, I'm not a Historian.
Misled (to use the most charitable word and interpretation)Most charitable?
the American public about weapons of mass destruction and supposed ties to Al Qaeda in IraqCite.
and so into a war that has plainly (and entirely predictably) made us less secureHow has it made us less secure, exactly?
caused a boom in the recruitment of terroristsWho were previously known as the government.
is killing American military personnel needlesslyTwenty-five million Iraqis beg to differ, but then, they are not Historians.
and is threatening to suck up all our available military forces and be a bottomless pit for the money of American taxpayers for years to come.Well, America could bring home the troops currently stationed in Europe and South Korea, where they are apparently not wanted. I mean, they've been there for years.
And you know, Iraq might not be sucking up all available military forces if President Clinton hadn't gutted them in the first place. This thought occured to me, but then I'm not a Historian.
Failed to follow through in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are regrouping, once more increasing the threat to our people.Hey, there is a certain small kernel of validity to this one! We are still in Afghanistan, still fighting the Taliban, most certainly still hunting down and eliminating Al Qaeda, but we could be doing more to aid the reconstruction there.
Insulted and ridiculed other nations and international organizations and now has to go, hat in hand, to those nations and organizations begging for their assistance.Eh?
You wouldn't care to produce an example of this, by any chance? I like to see specifics rather than sweeping claims, but then, I'm not a Historian.
Completely miscalculated or failed to plan for the personnel and monetary needs in Iraq after the warIt's a war, bucko. You don't know how a war is going to go until it's gone, because you have an enemy who is trying to stop you.
so that he sought and obtained an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, a sizable chunk of which is going, without competitive bidding to Haliburton, the company formerly headed by his vice president.Halliburton!
Now, I know the reasons and origins of the Halliburton contract - which dates to the Clinton administration - and would never resort to misleading my audience that way. But then, I'm not a Historian.
Inherited an annual federal budget surplus of $230 billion and transformed it into a $500+ billion deficit in less than three years. This negative turnaround of three-quarters of a trillion dollars is totally without precedent in our history. The ballooning deficit for fiscal 2004 is rapidly approaching twice the dollar size of the previous record deficit, $290 billion, set in 1992, the last year of the administration of President Bushâ€™s father and, at almost 5 percent of GDP, is closing in on the percentage record set by Ronald Reagan in 1986.Another kernel of validity. There are good reasons for the deficit, but the budget does need to be cut to bring it into line with the tax cuts. Me, I'd start with farm subsidies. Whack.
Cut taxes three times, sharply reducing the burden on the richAgain, the claim that the tax cuts only benefited the rich.
reclassified money obtained through stock ownership as more deserving than money earned through work.Is there any reason why capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as other income? Because the nature of capital gains is completely different to, for example, a Historian's salary.
Severely curtailed the very American freedoms that our military people are supposed to be fighting to defend.Exactly what are these freedoms that the Patriot Act has curtailed?
Called upon American armed service people, including Reserve forces, to sacrifice for ever-lengthening tours of duty in a hostile and dangerous environment while he rewards the rich at home with lower taxes and legislative giveaways and gives lucrative no-bid contracts to American corporations linked with the administration.First, if you are in the armed service, including the Reserve and the National Guard, you are there to serve. It's not a free-education and world-tour club.
Second, we freed fifty million people from tyranny. When did that last happen without sacrifice, Mr Historian?
Third, your points on taxes and Halliburton have already been made and refuted. You don't get to run them up the field again.
Given an opportunity to begin to change the consumption-oriented values of the nation after September 11, 2001, when people were prepared to make a sacrifice for the common good, called instead of Americans to â€˜sacrificeâ€™ by going out and buying things.The values of the nation are the values of the nation, not the values of the President, or the values of a Historian. And America, like it or not, was founded and has thrived for nearly two hundred and thirty years on capitalism, on your "consumption-oriented values".
Proclaimed himself to be a conservative while maintaining that big government should be able to run roughshod over the Bill of RightsWhich has not happened.
and that the government must have all sorts of secrets from the peopleAs has every government in history, something one might expect a Historian to know.
but the people can be allowed no privacy from the government.Eh? What privacy of yours has been infringed, Mr Historian?
And here's McElvaine's parting gift:
Some voters may judge such assessments to be wrong, but they are assessments informed by historical knowledge and the electorate ought to have them available to take into consideration during this election year.Informed by historical knowledge? That certainly doesn't show.
But they are most certainly untroubled by any knowledge of economics or the conduct of war, by any care for human rights, or any concern for hewing to the truth.
An F for you, Mr McElvaine. A B+ for President Bush.
Editor and Publisher asks the question. But they're not so sure what to do with the answers.
As in most previous surveys of journalists, a high number called themselves politically "moderate" (49%), with 31% describing themselves as "liberal" and just 9% as "conservative."Even if those labels were accurate, that's massively skewed compared to the public. What one might ask is, how many of those self-described moderates voted Democrat, and how many Republican? As Hugh Hewitt found, they are strangely reluctant to answer.
Forty-eight percent of the public but only 11% of journalists said news organizations were "often inaccurate." When serious mistakes are made, 74% of the journalists said news organizations quickly report the error, but only 30% of the public said they do. In the public, 24% said news organizations try to ignore errors and 41% said they try to cover them up.Yes, we'd like to know what the truth is. But we don't trust you to tell us. Two-thirds of the public thinks that news organizations ignore or cover-up their errors; three-quarters of journalists believe that their errors are quickly corrected.
"That was the most surprising thing, the public perception that journalists don't correct errors," Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Center, told E&P. "We focused on the serious errors and you have journalists believing they correct them. You'd like to know what the truth is."
That's not a gap, that's a chasm. A yawning gulf:
"This study reveals a worrisome divide between the public's view of journalism and journalists' own views of their work," Geneva Overholser, a former Washington Post ombudsman and the author of a new book on the press, said in a statement. "If journalists do indeed believe that what they do is valuable, fair, and ethically sound, it's past time they began to put that case more effectively to the public."In other words, if the public think we are worthless, unfair and unethical, they just need to be educated. Shame about those circulation figures...
(Via Roger L. Simon)
Newseek. International edition. Not for domestic consumption:
The truth is that Americans are living in a dream world. Not only do others not share America's self-regard, they no longer aspire to emulate the country's social and economic achievements.Well, yeah, we noticed that. Anti-Americanism goes hand-in-hand with social and economic dysfunction.
The loss of faith in the American Dream goes beyond this swaggering administration and its war in Iraq.Fuck you too, Newsweek.
A President Kerry would have had to confront a similar disaffection, for it grows from the success of something America holds dear: the spread of democracy, free markets and international institutionsâ€”globalization, in a word.Yes.
Democracy - bad! Free markets - bad! International institutions - well, if you're talking about QUANGOs - the U.N., the World Bank, IMF and suchlike, I'm inclined to grant you that one.
But there's a certain irony when Newsweek is saying they hate us because of our freedom. About 8.5 on the Irony Richter Scale, I'd say.
Countries today have dozens of political, economic and social models to choose from.Most of which have been proven not to work.
Anti-Americanism is especially virulent in Europe and Latin America, where countries have established their own distinctive waysâ€”none made in America.That is a bizarrely twisted statement.
America didn't invent democracy or free markets, though it did give them some unprecedented guarantees in its Constitution. Since the year that document was signed, France has changed its form of government - not just the ruler or leader, but the very nature of the government itself - twelve times.
The made-in-America product seems to be somewhat more reliable than what many European countries have managed, with the exception perhaps of Britain. I won't even mention Latin America.
Futurologist Jeremy Rifkin, in his recent book "The European Dream," hails an emerging European Union based on generous social welfare, cultural diversity and respect for international lawâ€”a model that's caught on quickly across the former nations of Eastern Europe and the Baltics.Along with high taxes, high unemployment, low economic growth, negative population growth.
In Asia, the rise of autocratic capitalism in China or Singapore is as much a "model" for development as America's scandal-ridden corporate culture.Yes, who needs civil rights?
Much in American law and society troubles the world these days. Nearly all countries reject the United States' right to bear arms as a quirky and dangerous anachronism.Sadly, this includes my beloved Australia, which is in alignment with the freedoms America espouses in almost every other respect.
They abhor the death penalty and demand broader privacy protections.The death penalty is not, I would think, a key part of the American dream. Hang the bastard, electrocute him, let him sit in jail until he rots - whatever.
Above all, once most foreign systems reach a reasonable level of affluence, they follow the Europeans in treating the provision of adequate social welfare is a basic right.And that is the problem.
Adequate social welfare is not a basic right. This is where the UN Declaration on Human Rights also goes off the rails. You guarantee adequate social welfare by taking money from someone and giving it to someone else. That's not a right, that's redistribution.
A right is something that someone has unless you forcibly take it away. Freedom of speech. Freedom of assembly. Freedom of religion. The right to own property. The right to bear arms. You can't give any of those to someone, because you're born with them.
Welfare payments aren't something that every human is born with; they aren't in any way a right. That doesn't mean they're wrong, or a bad idea, though poorly planned they can (and do) lead to economic disaster. They can be analysed as an investment, as insurance, as a maintenance cost, but they are not a right.
All this, says Bruce Ackerman at Yale University Law School, contributes to the growing sense that American law, once the world standard, has become "provincial."And a growing sense that the rest of the world is nuts.
The United States' refusal to apply the Geneva Conventions to certain terrorist suspectsThe Geneva Conventions specifically state that they do not apply to terrorists. That whole bit about illegal combatants? Straight out of the Geneva Convention. Read Bill Whittle's essay, Sanctuary for an explanation of what the Geneva Convention is designed to protect.
to ratify global human-rights treaties such as the innocuous Convention on the Rights of the ChildI haven't read that, I must admit. Hang on while I do.
Right, as I thought. Article 17, state interference in the media. Article 26, conflation of human rights and socialism. Article 27, ditto. Article 28, more of the same. Article 29, wank. Articles 43-45, interfering busybodies. Not bad compared to the Declaration on Human Rights, but ample reason not to ratify - unless you don't intend to uphold the Convention in the first place.
or to endorse the International Criminal CourtThat one has been amply dealt with elsewhere.
(coupled with the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo)Yadda yadda.
only reinforces the conviction that America's Constitution and legal system are out of step with the rest of the world.Damn straight, and a good thing too.
The American Dream has always been chiefly economicâ€”a dynamic ideal of free enterprise, free markets and individual opportunity based on merit and mobility.Not as much as it should have been, but essentially true, and even more so in the past three decades.
Certainly the U.S. economy has been extraordinarily productive.Oh, you noticed?
Yes, American per capita income remains among the world's highest.The highest, among major states.
Yet these days there's as much economic dynamism in the newly industrializing economies of Asia, Latin America and even eastern Europe.Two points:
First, it's a lot easier to double per-capita GDP from $1000 to $2000 than from $40,000 to $80,000.
Second, guess where a lot of the money for that economic growth is coming from? Guess who's buying all those cheap goodies from Chinese factories?
All are growing faster than the United States. At current trends, the Chinese economy will be bigger than America's by 2040.About bleeding time, given that it has four times the population.
Whether those trends will continue is not so much the question.Why the hell not?
You are assuming that since China's economy (for example) grew by 9.1% in 2004, that it will sustain that growth rate for another 35 years. Well that's one hell of an assumption.
Better to ask whether the American way is so superior that everyone else should imitate it. And the answer to that, increasingly, is no.Is it, then?
Much has made, for instance, of the differences between the dynamic American model and the purportedly sluggish and overregulated "European model."So it has, and the widening gap in standards of living highlights this. Indeed, Australia now has a higher per-capita GDP than any of the major European states.
Ongoing efforts at European labor-market reform and fiscal cuts are ridiculed.Rightly so, because they are going nowhere.
Why can't these countries be more like Britain, businessmen ask, without the high tax burden, state regulation and restrictions on management that plague Continental economies? Sooner or later, the [conventional wisdom] goes, Europeans will adopt the American modelâ€”or perish.Sadly, true.
Yet this is a myth.No it's not.
For much of the postwar period Europe and Japan enjoyed higher growth rates than America.Yeah, big surprise. Postwar Europe and Japan were economic basket cases, utterly destroyed by five years of insanity. And the reconstruction was extensively funded by - guess who?
Airbus recently overtook Boeing in sales of commercial aircraft, and the EU recently surpassed America as China's top trading partner.Yes. So?
This year's ranking of the world's most competitive economies by the World Economic Forum awarded five of the top 10 slotsâ€”including No. 1 Finlandâ€”to northern European social democracies.On what criteria, pray tell?
Lorenzo Codogno, co-head of European economics at the Bank of America, believes the British, like Europeans elsewhere, "will try their own way to achieve a proper balance."A proper balance is not a problem. Seeing social welfare as a fundamental right is a problem.
Certainly they would never put up with the lack of social protections afforded in the American system.What lack of social protections? Exactly?
Europeans are aware that their systems provide better primary education, more job security and a more generous social net.Better primary education is questionable. More job security is only accurate in that once a company has hired someone, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. That makes companies reluctant to hire, and that leads to unemployment. Have you looked at European unemployment figures lately?
They are willing to pay higher taxes and submit to regulation in order to bolster their quality of life.They do not seem to be getting a very good return on their investment.
Productivity throughout Europe, measured in per-capita GDP, is significantly lower than in America and growing more slowly. That means that no matter how you redistribute the pie, no matter where you decide is the proper balance, there's less pie to hand around.
Americans work far longer hours than Europeans do, for instance.True
But they are not necessarily more productivePer capita, or per hour? Per capita, they clearly are far more productive. The statistics are perfectly clear; America's per-capita GDP is one-third or more higher than any of the major European nations.
â€”nor happierSays who?
buried as they are in household debtCompared to?
without the time (or money)They have more money than the Europeans, dumbass. We've already established that.
available to Europeans for vacationYes. Europeans can take their summer holidays - while the elderly die in their thousands because they don't have air conditioning. But hey, they chose their proper balance.
and international travel.For most Europeans, that's a two-hour drive.
George Monbiot, a British public intellectual, speaks for many when he says, "The American model has become an American nightmare rather than an American dream."Another piercing insight there from Monbiot.
Just look at booming bri-tain.I'm so glad Newsweek has editors.
Instead of cutting social welfare, Tony Blair's Labour government has expanded it. According to London's Centre for Policy Studies, public spending in Britain represented 43 percent of GDP in 2003, a figure closer to the Eurozone average than to the American share of 35 percent. It's still on the riseâ€”some 10 percent annually over the past three yearsHoly crap.
â€”at the same time that social welfare is being reformed to deliver services more efficiently.And guess what? Britain's economy has consistently achieved lower growth than America's. Britain's per-capita GDP is only three-quarters of America's, and the gap is growing.
Because taking people's pie away and shuffling it about doesn't create any more pie.
America is about making pie.
Europe is about cutting the pie into ever-finer slices, and deciding who gets what based on an increasingly arbitrary set of rules.
The inspiration, says Giddens, comes not from America, but from social-democratic Sweden, where universal child care, education and health care have been proved to increase social mobility, opportunity and, ultimately, economic productivity.Per-capita GDP of Sweden is 30% lower than America, and growing more slowly.
In the United States, inequality once seemed tolerable because America was the land of equal opportunity. But this is no longer so. Two decades ago, a U.S. CEO earned 39 times the average worker; today he pulls in 1,000 times as much.Two decades ago, the restructuring of U.S. industry was just beginning, and a CEO still had little to do and little at risk. That's changed.
Since then, the rich have been getting richer, and the poor have been getting... richer too. The rich have been getting richer faster than the poor have, but I'm not at all convinced that that is a problem.
Cross-national studies show that America has recently become a relatively difficult country for poorer people to get ahead. Monbiot summarizes the scientific data: "In Sweden, you are three times more likely to rise out of the economic class into which you were born than you are in the U.S."Two points here. Maybe three.
First, poverty in the U.S. is something that most countries in the world even today would not recognise as anything of the sort.
Second, Sweden has economic classes? Isn't that illegal or something.
Third, no-one ever said it should be easy to "rise out of the economic class into which you were born". It's a bit of a mouthful, anyway. What's immportant is that everyone has the opportunity, that there are no artificial barriers put in the way.
I can't take any more of this. It just goes on and on in the same noxious, factually-challenged way.
You want to know why people don't like America? I suggest that Newsweek has something to do with it.
Oh, one last quote. Unfortunately, the only appropriate response to this bit is strange choking noises:
When the soviets withdrew from Central Europe, U.S. constitutional experts rushed in. They got a polite hearing, and were sent home. Jiri Pehe, adviser to former president Vaclav Havel, recalls the Czechs' firm decision to adopt a European-style parliamentary system with strict limits on campaigning. "For Europeans, money talks too much in American democracy. It's very prone to certain kinds of corruption, or at least influence from powerful lobbies," he says. "Europeans would not want to follow that route."Glrrk. Rrrrrgh. Glfffk.
(Via The Anchoress)
Update: Tuning Spork takes up the sledgehammer and gives Newsweek a few more whacks. One point he raises is interesting; he says
This is something I considered but forgot to raise myself. The American Dream (and the Australian Dream likewise) is fundamentally different from the European Dream. The American Dream is a goal, it is something that Americans think can be accomplished through determination and hard work. It is, as Spork says, the future. The European Dream on the other hand is a substitute for reality, a projection of lost glory; it is the past. France is probably the most notorious and noxious example of this, but the European Dream is widespread and pernicious.The truth is that Americans are living in a dream world.It's called "the future", thank you.
Expressing the sense of the House of Blog condemning bigotry and intolerance, and recognizing that holy films of every cult should be treated with dignity and respect.
Whereas believers of all cults, including the Lucasic faiths of Jedi and Sith, should be treated with respect and dignity;
Whereas the word Jedi comes from the Gungan root word meaning â€œtoastâ€ and â€œmarmaladeâ€;
Whereas there is an estimated $20 billion in revenue in Star Wars, from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, forming an integral part of the economic fabric of America;
Whereas Episode IV is the holy film for Jedi who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity and the repair and maintenance of vaporators;
Whereas it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage Episode IV, or any film or character in any way, shape, or form, except for Jar-Jar Binks who is fair game;
Whereas mistreatment of moviegoers and disrespect toward the holy film of any cult is unacceptable and against civilized humanity;
Whereas the infringement of an individualâ€™s right to freedom of viewing violates the Constitution and laws of the United States: Now, therefore, be it
1 Resolved, That the House of Blog â€“
(1) condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any cult, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Jedi faith;
(2) declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Jedi faith, should be protected;
(3) recognizes that Episode IV, the holy film of the Jedi, as any other holy film of any cult, should be treated with dignity and respect;
(4) calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Jedi faith; and
(5) recognizes that Han shot first.
Wednesday, May 25
My recent suggestion that the (American) military can be trusted to police itself - viz the investigations of the abuse at Abu Ghraib and the deaths at Bagram - seems to have drawn the leeches out of the fever swamp.
Here's the problem in a nutshell.
Us, the good guys, the people who actually live in reality:
We freed the people of Afghanistan and Iraq from tyranny and gave them self-determination.Them, the "reality-based community", the liberal media:
There were no WMDs!Here's the thing.
We did free fifty million people from two of the vilest regimes in the world. Fact. Irrefutable. Were the Taliban and the Ba'athists vile oppressors? Yes. Are they now gone? Yes.
Done. We (the sane ones) are provably correct in our assertion.
Now, as to the moonbats: They say there were no WMDs. This appears to be correct. Of course, due to U.N. obstructionism, Saddam Hussein had months to move any WMDs he may have had, to Syria or elsewhere. But we don't know if that happened, all we know is that we haven't found any WMDs.
But this is not to the point. We are still correct, we have still accomplished a great good, a highly admirable deed.
Underlying the moonbat claim are two other assumptions, one false, the other insane.
First, that we invaded Iraq only because of WMDs. This is simply false. Read any of the speeches made in the days leading up to the war, and you will find that this is only one of the reasons.
Second, that false intent inevitably poisons any good outcome. This belief is insane, because it prevents you from dealing with the world as it really is.
Fifty million people are free. Fact. Even if President Bush had invaded Iraq to steal their sandworms and make himself the immortal God Emperor of America, it wouldn't change the fact that fifty million people are now free.
Furthermore, claims of intent are basically unfalsifiable. You can claim that the President really did invade Iraq for that reason, and everything he has said, and everything that has been done, is just a coverup for his real intentions. In other words, statements attributing intent to other people are only valid insofar as they match their words and actions, because words and actions are what take place in the real world.
So claims that the military never intended to properly investigate Abu Ghraib or Bagram fall flat in the face of the fact that the military did properly investigate Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Statements that aspects of the investigations were unsatisfactory, for reasons of procedure or outcome, those can be assessed and addressed in terms of fact and logic and may well prove to be substantive.
Unfortunately, that sort of statement is largely avoided by the left. Which is no surprise, because being a leftist in the first place requires a strong aversion to reality. They are not interested in talking about what is said and what is done, only about underlying meanings and intent - statements that cannot be contradicted.
If they were interested in outcomes, in actions, in the real world, they wouldn't be leftists. Maybe it was different in 1917, but there's no excuse today.
"It says 'Golgafrincham Ark Fleet, Ship B, Hold Seven, PHP Programmer Second Class' â€” and a serial number."
"A PHP programmer?" said Arthur, "a dead PHP programmer?"
Tuesday, May 24
Tim Blair links to a piece by the (fortunately) inimitable Robert Bosler, writing in
This forum, this beautiful wellspring that is Webdiary which speaks so uniquely the voice of our small corner of humanity, is daily bubbling over with gut-given substance from each of those inner depths we plumb when we are moved by the fundamental need of having asked of ourselves why. So many wonderful voices, speaking, in essence, as one! Speaking in response to that singular question.I was reading this (thanks a bunch, Tim) and I suddenly had an epiphany.
Don't we share this need wonderfully!
These people aren't just stupid, they're actually ill. It's some sort of mental imbalance, possibly treatable, possibly not. But let's face it, the folk of Web Diary are hopelessly inane, and belong in an inane asylum.
The geeks are out in force (hee hee) at Ace's place tonight.
I know this could get me booted from the geek club (Hey, wait! I have a 64-bit computer with 1.8 terabytes of disk! Shiny, shiny!) but I have to admit that I saw Star Wars (not Episode IV, Star Wars) twice at the age of 12, and haven't seen any of the other movies.
Glenn Reynolds (free, ad supported) links to a short piece by Mickey Kaus (free, ad supported, Â©2005 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC) regarding the latest efforts of George Lakoff to reshape the Democratic Party without actually having to go through any of that awkward change.
Well, unless you knew Lakoff already, you wouldn't know that's what they were talking about, although Mickey links to pieces in The Atlantic and The New Republic Online, which, while both being for subscribers only, do give short excerpts which (more so in The Atlantic's case) give us some idea of what is going on.
Which is this: Lakoff says that the Democrats' problem is not their policies - the policies are perfect; flawless, glittering gems, thank you very much - but the words they use to describe them. From The Atlantic:
When conservatives invoke "strong defense," liberals, Lakoff says, must reframe the concept by referring to a "stronger America." Instead of "free markets," liberals should speak of "broad prosperity." Likewise, "smaller government" must be recast as "effective government," and "family values" as "mutual responsibility." Those greedy "trial lawyers" excoriated by the right should be reframed and praised as brave and selfless "public-protection attorneys." And perhaps most important, when conservatives start promoting more Bushian "tax relief," liberals should respond by defending taxes as "membership fees" or "investments" in America.Mickey Kaus seems to think that the key weakness of Lakoff's argument is his model of politics:
Oddly, neither attacks Lakoff at what would seem to be his central weak point, namely his conflation of politics and parenting--identifying "conservative" values with "the strict father" and "liberal" values with the "nurturant parent."Now, apart from the fact that anyone who uses the word "nurturant" and means it should be taken out and shot, this rather misses the point.
What Lakoff's point is, is this: Don't address the issues. Don't ever address the issues. Because although We (the Democrats) are on the right side of every issue, We have this little problem with educating Them (the residents of Jesusland) so that They are smart enough to agree with Us. In the meantime, feed them bullshit.
To put it another way: Lakoff is preaching contempt. His view is that voters are idiots, or robots, programmed into specific voting patterns, to be swayed by specific codewords rather than substantive policies.
It's one thing to disparage those that didn't vote for your party, Mr Lakoff, but what does that say about those that did?
Just accidentally deleted 4000 emails.
Unfortunately, I have backups.
And I didn't speak out, because - Hey! Wait a minute!
Via Debbye of Being American in T.O. and Kate of Small Dead Animals comes the news that Andrew Coyne is being sued for libel by the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Prime Minister, apparently over this or related items. Robot Guy has more.
A commenter at Small Dead Animals points out that the very first sentence in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is this:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.That's real reassuring, that is.
Mind you, Australia doesn't even have such a charter. Fortunately, our Liberal government is actually liberal, in the classical sense.
Glenn Reynolds seems to have stickied a post regarding the FEC's proposal to regulate bloggers under the Campaign Finance "Reform" Laws. Don't think it can't happen here. Um, there. Wherever.
Monday, May 23
| You scored as Materialist. Materialism stresses the essence of fundamental particles. Everything that exists is purely physical matter and there is no special force that holds life together. You believe that anything can be explained by breaking it up into its pieces. i.e. the big picture can be understood by its smaller elements.|
What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
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I've been looking for a particular article written recently about the game being played by the mainstream media, but I couldn't find it again among the flood of similar pieces both on blogs and the fringe (i.e. not hopelessly liberal) media. But following a random link (in other words, I've forgotten who linked to it), I found it again:
Its rules are simple and cynical. Presume the U.S. government is lying -- particularly when the president is a Republican. Presume the worst about the U.S. military -- even when the president is a Democrat. Add multicultural icing -- allegations by "Third World victims" get revered status, while U.S. statements are met with arrogant contempt. (Yes, it's the myth of the Noble Savage recast.)I had found a piece by Austin Bay elsewhere that was awfully similar but didn't have the quite same clarity of expression. So I checked the author of this piece - aha. That would explain the similarities.
No sooner had I posted Right and Wrong, Part II than one of the victims of self-inflicted insanity I spoke of in Part I popped up demanding Donald Rumsfeld's head on a plate.
Wretchard of Belmont Club has a post up discussing exactly this problem.
And Blackavar at Silflay Hraka has an insightful analysis of what went wrong at Bagram.
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