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laugh, or you'll cry

Friday, October 31, 2003

Nicotini

Eeew.
The Buzz

Investors and tech nerds are giddy with anticipation for the day when Google goes public and the ensuing battle begins with Yahoo! and Microsoft.
Tee-hee

Boring.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Sex and the City

Somebody help me. I can't stop. I'm midway through season three and I can't stop. I was going to work on, ya know, stuff I'm supposed to be doing for people but instead Mr. Big comes over to Carrie's at 3 in the morning looking drunk and desperate. He had already left a message on her machine earlier that night. Aidan was out getting more coffee filters but for some reason was taking a long time and Carrie started freaking out. Aidan? Big? Big? Aidan?

AGH!!!!!!

The Surreal Life Lives!

I'm happy to report that I'm not the only person who watched with glee the first season [part of it anyway] of The Surreal Life.

In this week's Stranger, Seattle's free alternative weekly, Last Days reports from Wednesday that the WB has decided to do a second season.

The cast? Just when you thought you couldn't beat having MC Hammer, Corey Feldman [the most confused, uninformed, and self-righteous vegetarian I've ever seen], and Emmanuel Lewis living in the same house with a few other has-beens, season two promises none other than Vanilla Ice, Tammy Faye, and Ron Jeremy among others.

I can't wait. If you aren't into porn or documentaries, allow me to introduce you to Ron Jeremy. It's an excellent and hilarious film.
ANSWER: Unconditional Support for blowing up Red Cross Aid Workers

Via the Volokh Conspiracy comes this post from Michael Totten.

It's well known that the Workers World Party is behind the organization of "anti-war" protests that have been staged around the country. As an example of what the WWP would have in mind for the people of Iraq [and ultimately you and I] see this article where the WWP praises North Korea for having free health care, among other things, while conveniently ingoring the mass starvation and total and complete lack of freedom [speech, press, movement, travel, etc].

Totten then finds this gem from the puppet anti-war organization International ANSWER

----

The anti-war movement here and abroad must give its unconditional support to the Iraqi anti-colonial resistance.

he continues -

Its unconditional support.

Well. I’m glad they cleared that up.

The so-called “resistance” is made up of three primary groups. Saddam’s Baathist remnants, local theocratic Islamists, and foreign foot soldiers for Al Qaeda.

I can forgive those on the old left who once had a romance with Communism. As Leszek Kolakowski wrote, Communism is the degenerate bastard child of the Enlightenment. Vicious as it was, at least some of the ideas sounded nice. The results were horrific; engineered famines, mass graves, prison camps, and bone piles. But equality and solidarity were the rallying cries. It was an irresistible siren song for some well-meaning fools.

Fascism, though, is another matter. It isn’t a bastard child of the liberal Enlightenment. It is deliberately anti-Enlightenment. Freedom, equality, and global solidarity are hardly the talking points. It is explicitly belligerent and genocidal. Look at the Baath Party and its racist ethnic cleansing campaign against Jews and Shiites and Kurds. Look at the Islamists and their brutal persecution of secularists and “infidels,” their perverse dream of a global Islamic Inquisition. They would put the Jews to the sword. They promise to turn the United States into a sea of deadly radiation. They throw acid in the faces of unveiled women. The Baathists massacred ethnic minorities with chemical weapons. They fed dissidents into tree shredders.

These are the people for whom the anti-war organizers express their "unconditional support."

This isn’t Marxism. It’s not a “good cause” gone bad. It’s fascism all over again with Islamic characteristics.

The hindsight of history gave old Communists some slack, so long as they didn’t commit atrocities themselves. Supporters of European fascism didn’t get off so easy. They are unsparingly damned by history.

Supporters of Middle Eastern fascism may find a similar terrible judgement awaiting them in the future. Those in the West are the 21st Century's skinheads.


POSTSCRIPT: Let me clear up any potential misunderstanding in advance. I am referring specifically to the rally organizers at ANSWER, not to every person who shows up to protest or who opposes the war.


UPDATE: Yesterday the "resistance" carried out a terrorist massacre against aid workers in Baghdad. An ambulance was loaded up with a car bomb and then detonated in front of the International Red Cross. This is what International ANSWER supports unconditionally.


----


I've never felt comfortable joining a protest against the war in Iraq. Even before I learned last winter that the WWP was spearheading the organization of these events I suspected there was more to their intent than opposition to an unjust war. All I had to do was look out my bedroom window at all the anti-war paraphanalia at the little communist bookstore across the street from my house to know something ugly was going on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Greedy Capitalists

Quickly now, which country would you guess to be the most generous in terms of foreign aid per year? Sweden? Denmark? Most of us would start in Scandinavia and work our way south on the European continent, with Japan and the Canadians thrown in somewhere.

Certainly we wouldn't start with the money-grubbing Americans. At first glance we'd have good reason not to; per capita we come in at around 21st.

That is, until you factor in immigration and remittances. Suddenly, we're near the top, if not in the pole position.

From the new issue of Foreign Policy, via Marginal Revolution comes a few key points to keep in mind -

----

1. Total remittances around the world are now about $80 billion a year, twice the amount of so-called "foreign aid," which often goes to corrupt governments, not poor citizens.

2. Remittances are now ten times the amount of net private capital flows, after adjusting for profit repatriation and interest payments.

3. Mexicans working in the United States send back home $20 billion every year. This sum is twice the value of Mexico's agricultural exports, and over a third more than tourist revenue.

----

This news supports a couple key libertarian policy views:

1] It is by far the most efficient form of welfare and it is entirely outside the scope of government, which absorbs a percentage of the aid in overhead before, typically, turning over the money to corrupt governments.

2] It also encourages us to keep our borders open to people who would like to live here.
First Amendment

Thinking of going to college in California? Better have a good lawyer if you like to speak your mind.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Hubba hubba

Julian may have made an attempt at being diplomatic and political with his post [while simultaneously inlcuding the picture], but I'm just going to drool.
Dillusional

and damn funny. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are going to settle this dog-gone Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all. Apparently it has just gone on too long.

----

Bill Clinton failed, Tony Blair drew a blank and Kofi Annan made little progress. But now a team of Hollywood film stars is about to visit the Middle East on a private peace mission, in the belief that their charms will work magic on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Brad Pitt, his wife, Jennifer Aniston, and Danny DeVito are among the stars who aim to succeed where world statesmen have stumbled.

"The past few years of conflict mean that yet another generation of Israelis and Palestinians will grow up in hatred," reads a statement from Pitt and Aniston. "We cannot allow that to happen."

Quite how they intend to stop it is not entirely clear. The logic behind their mission, planned to take place before the end of the year, is not especially sophisticated.

Pitt and Aniston believe that most people in the region want a negotiated settlement with an end to violence, and imagine that by appealing directly to "ordinary folk", they can bring the warring parties together.

In a region suffering from peace initiative fatigue, however, Israelis and Palestinians have greeted news of the Hollywood initiative with bemusement and incredulity.

For some, the prospect of DeVito sitting down to talk peace with Hamas militants over a cup of sweet tea, or Pitt breaking bread at a sabbath dinner with hardline Jewish settlers, is preposterous.

Oz Almog, an Israeli sociologist, said: "Following Arnold Schwarzenegger's election as governor in California, it seems we are now joining the Hollywood revolution.

"From time to time, some celebrities think that they might help, and the media amplifies their mission. But this is an incredibly complex situation and I am afraid they are naive.

"Many Palestinians do not even have television sets. What is more, for the past three years here no one has listened to anyone, so what makes these people think they will listen to Danny DeVito?"

----

I realize I excerpted nearly the entire article but it's just too funny not to.

props to hitandrun
Out of site, out of mind

It's easy to forget that our government still has roughly 600 people imprisoned indefinitely in Cuba. They have no rights and no access to council or due process.

via fff
Quote

A wise and frugal government ... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.


-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, [March 4, 1801]
Climate Change

From the Cato Institute -

----

Here's what every American needs to know about global warming. Contrary to almost every news report and every staged hearing, including one held by Mr. McCain on Oct. 1, scientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree (C), plus or minus a mere quarter-degree, according to scientific figures as disparate as this author and NASA scientist James Hansen. The uncertainty is so small, in fact, that publicly crowing this figure is liable to result in a substantial cut in our research funding, which is why the hundreds of other scientists who know this have been so reluctant to disgorge the truth in public.

----

The author, Patrick J. Michaels, goes on to explain some of the science and gives a classic example of an environmental zealot making over the top statements to scare the general public and legislators while knowing full well the real impact will be negligible.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Martha goes goth

It's been around for quite awhile, but I just read about it this evening. I feel so yesterday.

In the words of the website's creator, Trystan L. Bass -

----

For quite some time, those of us on the newsgroup alt.gothic.fashion have discussed similar little projects that we could do to make our homes as beautifully gothic as our wardrobes. Many of our projects were direct adaptations of Martha's Good Things -- except we used scraps of black velvet, vintage lace, purple satin ribbons, dried blood-red roses, and other typically goth things we had around the house. Little did Martha realize how easily her elegant eggshell blues and seafoam greens could be turned to black and burgundy!

----

The existence of this site isn't the only surprising piece of information I picked up this evening. Did you know there are 8 different goth motifs? They are Victorian, Medieval, Techno-Modern, Cemetary, Fairy, Asian, Egyptian, and Punk DIY.

Ya know, aside from the leather and the skulls, Techno-Modern pretty much sums me up. Although I'd probably have to go heavier on the eyeliner than I do now.
Jason Salavon

does some great work incorporating popular culture, mathematics, sex, and large data samples. See his images which are "[G]enerated by algorithmically abstracting the above-mentioned films in time."

The rest of his work is here.

props to theagitator

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Blind hatred

New York Times columnsit Paul Krugman has taken a bit of heat lately in the blogosphere for his defense of the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, and his comments about Jews.

He's been accused of overlooking Mahathir's decades of anti-semitism, rampant cronyism [a favorite charge of Krugman's against the Bush Administration], and anti-democratic policy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Mad Props

In the last two days I've discovered that my most talented friend and another Hoosier expat-blogger have both linked to my site so I'm going to return the favor.

Nell is a freelance print graphics and web designer who puts me to shame. Have you ever spent so much time at your computer that you dreamt you were living life inside a software application? We have. Submit your dream for publication to Nell.

Daymented and I took multimedia night classes together last year and share an affinity for the board game Settlers. She does websites too. If you're lucky, you'll spot the ocassional picture of me on her blog.

Hire them, they both know more about web design than me.
Repentance

I'm not sure exactly which sin I've recently committed brought it on, but I woke up this morning with the song "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Michael Bolton in my head.

Please god, tell me how to make it stop.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Smoke to your health

The man thought to be the world's oldest at 122 years died Sunday. Prayer and smoking are the reasons he lived so long, or so he believed.

It's occurred to me before that I stand a [microscopic] chance of living to see the next millenium, given that I'd be going on 123 at that time. Assume I start smoking now and that annoying religious conservatives and paranoid luddites stay out of the business of slowing scientific advancement through legislation and I've got a pretty good chance of making it.

If this guy can survive the Cambodian "Killing Fields" of the 1970's and a career in tiger hunting, surely I can make it as long as him.

via hitandrun
Head in ass

So I'm checking out one of my inboxes this morning while stalling at work and find back to back emails with some interesting bits of information.

First my weekly-ish email from The Liberty Committee, a site that graciously sends you the results of recent significant votes in Congress complete with the information on how your Congress persons voted and links to email or write them in response.

I scrolled on down and saw that both Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell voted yes to approve the 87 billion in additional spending in Iraq [you can see how your Congress persons voted at the same link] that President Bush asked for. Whatever, no real surprise right?

Next up, a response from Senator Murray's office about an email I had sent on this very same topic recently urging her to vote no. I'll include the entire email here -

----

Thank you for contacting me regarding the war in Iraq and its
aftermath. It was good to hear from you on this important issue.

Like all Americans, I am pleased that Saddam Hussein is no
longer in power and I am proud of our troops who are bravely
fighting to win the peace in Iraq. Now that we are committed to
rebuilding Iraq it is important to ensure that the Iraqi people are
provided with the resources and force protection that will allow an
Iraqi democracy to succeed.

While it is important that we continue with our commitment to
rebuild Iraq, I am frustrated with the Administration's
unwillingness to meaningfully involve the international
community. The reconstruction of Iraq will be difficult and
expensive. I believe that the United Nations should have a role in
Iraq's reconstruction. By sharing our commitment to Iraq's future
with the international community we can spread some of the
financial burden of Iraq's reconstruction and help repair our
relationships with the rest of the world.

At a time when we are being weighed down by record deficits it is
more important than ever that the American people demand full
accountability of the cost of reconstruction and an openness to
international help. As you may know, the President recently
requested $87 billion this year for our military and reconstruction
efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This funding will push the total
cost of the Iraq war over $160 billion. This funding is being
requested without the presentation of a long term plan for Iraq's
reconstruction or one that will bring our troops home safely as
soon as possible.

We still have plenty of unmet needs here at home as well. I am
frustrated that while the President argued for urgently funding the
Iraq war his Administration ignored our urgent needs in the areas
of homeland security, education and health care.

The end of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship has provided a
tremendous opportunity for the Iraqi people to shape their future.
However, I remain concerned that the Administration has not
presented the true costs of Iraq's reconstruction, their plan to
secure Iraq's peaceful future or the length of time that our troops
will be in the region.

Once again, thank you for writing. Please keep in touch.



Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator

----

So, while she pays lip service to opposing the President in general, demanding accountability on the spending of the funds, urging UN participation to bear the burden of the costs [something I don't understand, we blew everything up, shouldn't we pay for rebuilding it?], and convey's a general frustration with how the Bush Administration is handling things, she's still first in line to vote a resounding YES!

If she is truly concerned about her constituents and all the ongoing domestic issues she cites, why vote to spend 87 billion [BILLION!] of our [the people whose homeland security, healthcare, and education she's losing sleep over] money in Iraq?
Greenpeace: Rodent Carcinogens Good for You

Greenpeace wants you to avoid GMO, and even conventionally grown food, in exchange for organically grown food. Why? Ostensibly for a lot of scary sounding reasons.

However, start looking around for some facts about their claims and their version of the story isn't quite so certain.

Did you know that "99.99% of the toxins that we ingest are from the plants themselves and not from synthetic manufactured chemicals"? Nevermind the fact that one of the benefits of genetically modified food is the reduction in the use of those .01% of synthetic manufactured chemicals and protection from some of the other 99.99% of natural toxins.

Monday, October 20, 2003

I know what's best for you.

More on the FDA hearings about silicone breast implants. The true motivations, which we all knew to begin with anyway, are even more apparent in this article.

----

Mr. Kelly said that even if the devices were proved absolutely risk-free, he would not want them on the market. And because safety, as Miller noted, is defined in terms of a ratio of benefit to risk, "if there is zero benefit, then it can never be safe."

----

It's not about health risks, its about what some people think they have a right to dictate to the rest of us. In this case, some people think breast implants send "cultural messages that devalue girls and women."

I would and have discouraged women from getting breast implants [my opinion was explicitly requested] for much the same reason, however that doesn't give me or anyone else the right to make it illegal for them to do it.

NOBODY has a right to tell them whether or not they can do it.
Waiting Room Blues

The Marginal Revolution crew finds more info on Canada's socialized health care system. And more.

If there were ever a reason to institute a single payer healthcare system in this country its so we can sit in the waiting room for 80 weeks [!!!] for a tonsillectomy. Hmmm...so that's why Canadians come to the states for medical treatment.

MR linked to ParaPundit who has much more.

Seriously, go read this stuff.

Market Reform?

I read this article Sunday in the New York Times and was pretty dissappointed but had neither the time or expertise to write this.

So called market reform coupled with corruption, beauracracy, and other policies that directly undermine any real attempt at market reforms will, surprise!, end with negative results. It's a shame the newspaper of record does such a poor job of reporting the full story.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Hypocrites

I'm as strong a supporter of treating women equally as you'll find, but I'm also a harsh critic of organized "feminism" for many obvious reasons. After the FDA hearing on silicone gel implants this week, I have yet another.

Excerpts follow with my comments added -

----

On abortion rights:

As Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Gloria Feldt puts it, "We stand for the principle that women--in consultation with their families and their physicians--should make their own reproductive and health decisions. Not politicians and not the government."

Now on silicone breast implants:

The exonerating evidence [showing silicone implants pose no serious health risk] ought to satisfy reasonable people. But when the government reopened the issue, the Feminist Majority Foundation objected: "Another generation of women should not suffer because the FDA has bowed to pressure from manufacturers and plastic surgeons." The federal government, it said, "must protect women from silicone gel breast implants." The National Organization for Women raised the same alarm.

----

via hitandrun


Thursday, October 16, 2003

If all those Seattle supporters only knew....

Something very strange is going on. Howard Dean has a huge following here in the Emerald City, yet according to William Saletan over at Slate, Dr. Dean has a few mild libertarian and/or practical, common sense genes in that body of his.

He has supported welfare reform, opposed federal gun control, stumped for a balanced budget [which includes, gasp!, cutting spending], supported demolition of West Bank Settlements, supported NAFTA, supported China's inclusion in the WTO, proposed reform of federal programs that don't work [now there's a novel idea], and has said that Medicare and Social Security should be included in balanced budget negotiations.

Now, don't mistake this as an endorsement of Dean from me, however, given his stance on these issues I'm willing to overlook his side campaign to become drug warrior of the year.

I'm guessing I'm the only person in Seattle who reads Slate magazine because no self-respecting Seattle-ite would support a candidate like this.

via hitandrun

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Lessons in Diversity

Worried about that diversity essay required for your college application? Help is on the way. And its damn funny.

from butterflies and wheels

Monday, October 13, 2003

Market Activism

A Bureaucrash blog post explaining market activism vs legislation.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

tattoo

I may have found a tattoo I'd consider getting. Just give me lots of painkillers first. lots.

See more lips tattoos here.
Extreme Pumpkins dot com

Here's a timely link for wasting time. Complete with information on design and construction, power tool usage, pyrotechnics, and a photo gallery.

From list-o-links, via Josh Reynolds.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Tee-hee

Passed along by a friend of mine -

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft was visiting an elementary
school. After 15 minutes speaking he says, "I will now answer any
questions you have."

Bobby stands up and says: "I have four questions, sir: 1. How did
Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore? 2. Why haven't
you caught Osama bin Laden? 3. Why are you using the American Patriot
Act to destroy civil liberties? 4. Where are the weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq?

Just then the bell goes off and the kids are sent out to play. Upon
returning, Mr.Ashcroft said: "I am sorry we were interrupted. I
will answer any questions you have."

A little girl called Julie stands and says: "I have six questions: 1.
How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore? 2.
Why haven't you caught Osama bin Laden? 3. Why are you using the
American Patriot Act to destroy civil liberties? 4. Where are the
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? 5. Why did the bell ring
twenty minutes early? 6. Where is Bobby?"

Friday, October 10, 2003

Yet another reason to hate the Vatican

I've found that Catholics, even non-practicing and/or non-believers, get pretty defensive when I pick on the Vatican. It's a response I've never understood. I don't understand why people who otherwise don't give two shits about religion put forth such effort in defending the church when its attacked.

I have such dislike for the "Catholic Church" that I even surprise myself sometimes. Stories like this do nothing to change my attitude.

I think much of my, dare I say, hatred for the official Catholic Church stems from the power and influence it has worldwide. I worry about morphing into a shrieking Adbusters fanatic wailing about evil corporations and consumerism and American hegemony when it comes to the Catholic church.

props to hitandrun

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Zoe Mitchell takes the anti-smoking camp to task.

She pretty much covers all the reasons I have for not supporting such nanny-statism. She addresses specifically the activities of the group Smoke Free DC and shows how movements like this create an entirely new set of problems when it sets out to "fix" an existing "problem." [See points 1 and 5 specifically]

My favorite argument, the one I generally start with, though is her final one -

----

My argument has never been: allow smoking everywhere, regardless. Smoke Free DC likes to present the case that currently under DC law, one can light up a cigarette in a healthcare facility or daycare, etc. However, that simply doesn't happen anymore and the government didn't need to get involved in changing it. Instead, healthcare facilities, daycare locations, as well as office places, and some restaurants and bars decided to go smoke free on their own. Put simply, the government didn't need to get involved. My position, and the position of a growing number of people opposed to a 100% smoking ban in all "workplaces" is that the owner of the bar or restaurant should be able to decide whether smoking will be allowed inside. Plenty of businesses have already decided that this would be the best policy for their location--there's no reason to demand that all businesses comply.

----

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Haven't gotten my Christmas present yet?

Here's a helpful hint. I prefer the AMD Big Block or Shiny Aluminum if that helps.
Good Riddance

I have never heard of Senator Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina), but if even a fraction of what Radley Balko says about him is correct we'll all be a little better off without him.

Monday, October 06, 2003

"Without question, currently the best design academy in the world."

So says Murray Moss, owner of Moss, a design store in New York.

I'm jealous.
Russia's off the hook

The pro-Kyoto camp has had a tough few days and the hits just keep on coming. First, Russia starts backpedelling. Now a few Swedes are suggesting that we don't have enough oil and gas to burn to cause any serious amount of global warming to take place to begin with. Bummer dude.

Environmentalist's only hope now is that we'll start burning coal, which is apparently plentiful and far more damaging, to make the predictions come true.

via marginal revolution
Speechless

OK, I know it comes as no surprise to anyone that Pat Robertson is a complete fucking moron, but this quote, on Morgan Freeman, from his defense of Rush Limbaugh's comment about quarterback Donovan McNabb is so utterly stupid that words fail me.

In fact [I hope you are sitting down while reading this] if I were to let my emotions overcome me I'd be tempted to crown Pat as the world's biggest idiot over Michael Moore.

OK, what am I saying, that's as absurd a thought as Pat's was. Anyway, on to the quote

----

"He started off playing a chauffeur in 'Driving Miss Daisy,' and then they elevated him to head of the CIA, and then they elevated him to president and in his last role they made him God. I just wonder, isn't Rush Limbaugh right to question the fact, is he that good an actor or not?"

----

props to Matt Welch at hitandrun
It's better than having sex in the White House!

Matt Welch spent his Saturday hanging out at the Schwarzenegger campaign HQ and has some hilarious tidbits, such as the line that is the subject heading for this post, on the action taking place outside on the street.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Confronting reality

The French establishment is beginning to acknowledge the decline of power and influence of the French state. Three new bestselling books in France, written in French [a key to getting the population to take the criticism seriously], are forcing the French elite to have a public discussion about its international role.

----

Nicolas Baverez, author of "La France Qui Tombe" concludes rather harshly, "Overtaken by the democratic vitality and technological advance of the United States, downgraded industrially and challenged commercially by China and Asia, the decline of France is accelerating at the same rhythm as the vast changes in the world."

----

That is not to say that the authors are fans of the US, but that France needs to undergo serious self-reflection and institutional change.

via aldaily
GM Food

Ronald Bailey notes a new report from the GAO again finds that GM food is safe.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Almost Famous

One of my best friends is quoted in the New York Times this week in an article about members of a religious faith teach at a school of another faith.

Take a bow Megan.

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