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  • Archive for October, 2004

    National Porcine Aviation Festival

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 30th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Today, the Boston Red Sox had their triumphal parade from Chestnut Hill to City Hall, then over to Charlestown — and into the river. (They were in the amphibious Duck Boats. They covered another mile or so on the water, cruising between two crowded shores, dodging the sailboats, sculls, and kayaks of their aquatic fans.) Over a million people lined the route to celebrate the first World Series win in 86 years. The players were astonished at the turnout, which was two or three times larger than the crowd that greeted the Patriots after their Super Bowl victory.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Sports | 3 Comments »

    The Lancet and the Iraqis

    Posted by Ginny on 30th October 2004 (All posts by )

    A couple of weeks ago, Reason took a survey of the voting preferences of various libertarian luminaries. One of the most luminous, Pinker, argued with some reasonable (if, I thought, disproportionate) examples of the irrational homeland security policy. He told us he’d vote for Kerry because Bush uses too little reason. Well, maybe. But this weekend I’m struck by examples of how little reason the “scientific” community uses in approaching Bush and, well, how “reasonable” Bush is. Indeed, I wonder if these “reasoning” Bush-haters realize how tattered the public’s respect for such professional judgments is likely to be after these last few months. And how this loss of authority is likely to play out in the future.

    As Shannon Love has noted, The Lancet, a respected science journal, wants to affect our votes. I figure we all do (and should) vote from an American perspective. Sure the Brits stood by us (and the Iraqis); they deserve a polite response. They do not deserve the respect a commentator asked for – that by the nature of the journal we should respect its conclusions. But if any other nation has earned our ears about this election it is probably Iraq. If we should vote against Bush for the reasons The Lancet raises, we should hear an amen from the Iraqis. I’m not sure that’s the word they’d choose.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments »

    Scientific Malpractice

    Posted by Shannon Love on 30th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I am embarrassed to say that when reading the infamous Lancet Study for my previous post, I was so stuck by the idiocy of using cluster sampling and self-reporting in a population (the Sunni) who have a strong motive to exaggerate that I just flat ignored the actual resulting statistics. Since I knew the methodology was crap I knew the numbers were crap and I didn’t look any farther.

    Commentator JohnChris and Fred Kaplan over at Slate (via Instapundit) both pointed out that the confidence interval on the studies results, even with Faluja excluded, is so broad to be utterly useless.

    Kaplan nails it so I will except a bit:

    “Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I’ll spell it out in plain Englishwhich, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language98,000is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

    This isn’t an estimate. It’s a dart board.

    Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday’s election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It’s a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.”

    Of course, we know what went wrong with the sampling. The study’s basic design was flawed for examining a phenomenon know a priori to be highly asymmetrical.

    This raises the obvious question: How did such a seriously flawed study get published in a prestigious (Lancet is the British equivalent of the New England Journal of Medicine) medical journal? The only possible explanation is political bias of the authors, the peer reviewers and the publisher.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

    Nonsensical criticism of Bush, part…

    Posted by ken on 29th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Oh, Hell, I lost count years ago.

    Now we are told that Bush should be turned out of office because his “incompetence” caused us to lose (maybe) a couple of hundred tons of explosives from a warehouse in Iraq. Now keep in mind that these aren’t the dreaded WMD (which didn’t exist, remember?), and these aren’t plain old regular explosives, either (or else this wouldn’t be such a big deal), but a nifty new category of munition, not powerful enough to justify an invasion but just powerful enough for their disappearance to justify Bush’s ouster.

    So let’s take the worst case, and see where it leads us.

    The absolutely most damning case that could be made is that some soldiers arrived while the stuff was still there, but didn’t stick around to guard it, since they were still rather busy invading Iraq at the time; some time later, our forces went back to the site, found these munitions missing, and the Administration failed to advertise our loss of these munitions to the entire world.

    Even granting all that, where’s Bush’s incompetence?

    Ah, he didn’t commit enough troops to the operation, so there weren’t enough people on hand to guard this super-critical site, so we left it unguarded and somebody took the stuff away. But if you’ll recall, there was a significantly larger force committed to the operation – half of that force hadn’t shown up yet, being in the process of taking the long way around to Iraq. And that wasn’t due to Bush’s “incompetence” but Turkey’s lack of cooperation. And no, that wasn’t a “failure of diplomacy” either – if Kerry had gone to Turkey and said “pretty please with a cherry on top”, he wouldn’t have gotten any better results, not from Turkey, and not from France or Germany either.

    So what we’re left with is that the noncooperation of Turkey, and the general chaos that always accompanies wartime operations, allowed these explosives to fall into the hands of our enemies?

    Not quite. That stuff had been in the hands of our enemies for years.

    Yes, I’m speaking of none other than Saddam Hussein. And, need I remind you that he was a declared enemy of the United States, not to mention technically still at war with us. And consistently violating the cease fire agreement, by shooting at American planes that had every right to be there under the terms of that agreement. Do you remember the last time a defeated enemy was allowed to violate the terms of a peace treaty with impunity? You know, the nation led by that Austrian corporal with the funny mustache that was just like George W Bush in every way, according to some of our friends on the left?

    But Saddam wasn’t much of a threat!

    Well, neither was Hitler the first few years he was violating his peace treaty. And if Britain and France invaded when he first moved troops into that part of Germany where they were supposed to be off-limits, and knocked him off his throne, most people would have written it off as a wasteful misadventure and then forgotten the whole thing within a few years, never dreaming of the trouble he’d have caused down the road.

    Now we all have a tendency to sort evil whackos into two categories – those that are a threat to us and those that aren’t. And for many years, the jihadis all seemed to be in the second category. They’d set off bombs and hijack planes on the other side of the world, and some of the things they blew up had American flags on them, and of course they’d been calling us The Great Satan all along, but even the crazy jihadis weren’t crazy enough to try that crap over here. Until one day, one terrorist network was crazy enough to try it. They crossed the line, jumped the ocean, and made a determined and nearly successful effort to murder 50,000 people on American soil.

    If Al-Queda could cross that line, why not some other group? Why not some Islamic conspiracy, or state, or kinda-sorta-state-sponsored group that had nothing to do with bin-Laden? Obviously, whatever it was that had caused them all to stay in their sandbox and avoid doing something that The Great Satan itself couldn’t possibly ignore doesn’t apply anymore, and any one of those guys could decide to score a big one like bin Laden tried to, impress his fellow jihadis, and scare up a lot of recruits. So when someone over there openly declares his enmity against the United States, we can’t assume it’s all just talk anymore, and if every intelligence service on the planet is unable to figure out whether he’s working on nukes or biding his time until containment collapses, we certainly can’t take any of them at their word that he’s fully contained and absolutely harmless.

    Not to mention that he was in the way of us forcibly shutting down Iran’s nuclear program, should that become necessary (and I’ve got a strong feeling it will be necessary, in the not-too-distant future). And he was in a perfect spot for us to launch several other operations as they become necessary, gather better intel, and generally stay on the offensive against all sorts of characters that we can’t trust to blow things up only on their side of the world anymore.

    Now the one thing that strikes me about the military efforts to date is just how incredibly successful they’ve been, and how masterfully planned and executed they turned out to be. Not perfect, of course (You mean there’s terrorists setting off explosives? Against Americans and their supporters? In the Middle East, no less? Say it isn’t so!). But a lot of the toys that John Kerry voted against turned out to be damned useful in the War on Terror. I don’t want to even think about how an Afghanistan operation with Vietnam-era technology and tactics would have gone for us – I think in that case we’d have been wishing for another Vietnam. And if you’ve ever cracked a history book, you’ll realize that only 1200 deaths in a year and a half of invading a dictatorship, overthrowing its dictator, and fighting a chronic insurgency is astoundingly good news, especially when added to the fact that the long-predicted flood of refugees never materialized, the terrorists that Saddam’s regime had nothing whatsoever to do with suddenly got extremely interested in the fate of Iraq (and no, we’re not turning peaceful, simple folk into bloodthirsty terrorists – at worst, we’re forcing them to choose their side a little sooner than they would have on their own, and denying them the option of biding their time until the Great Satan looks sufficiently weak to try their hand at terrorism on their chosen terms), and Iraqis are still signing up to take on the battle for their country against these thugs and getting set to vote in their first-ever real election in a couple of months.

    And the Commander-in-Chief at the helm during these amazing accomplishments is called incompetent? You’ve got to be kidding me.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 29th October 2004 (All posts by )

    This Sundays Booknotes on C-SPAN 1, at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m., is an interview with Chris Wallace, discussing his work, Character: Profiles in Presidential Courage.

    With the indispensable contributions of Richard E. Neustadt– author of the seminal Presidential Power, former adviser to presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, and founder of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government– Wallace has chosen nearly twenty notable acts of presidential courage in our nation’s history, including: George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion, Theodore Roosevelt and the Russo-Japanese War, Harry Truman and the Berlin Airlift, and George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. More.

    If you haven’t sufficiently od’d yet, this is C-SPAN’s “All Politics Weekend”. You can view speeches from all the main candidates as well as other “election-related” programs on C-SPAN1, while C-SPAN2′s Booktv concentates on “election-themed” books. Given that concentration, the schedule demonstrates variety. For instance, at Saturday at 4:45, Stanley Renshon and Justin Frank discuss their psychological profiles of Bush. Then, Peter Singer critiques Bushs ethics (Sunday at 5:30). (Well, perhaps these should be taken seriously; what do I know?) A variety of pundits, election analysts, and cultural critics all focus upon the nature of the elections, the nature of our divided country, and the nature of the candidates. For those of you that masochistically want to revisit the last election, on Saturday at 8 in the evening and Sunday at 11 you can catch David Boies discuss his memoir, Courting Justice; despite its Oct. 13, 2004 pub date, it covers more than the Bush/Gore case.

    The complete schedule is not yet up. So far, it seems clear that some sessions are likely to illuminate either issues or our current, divided culture. Others, of course, may either reassure you in your choice or lead you to throw things at the tv. Have fun and watch that blood pressure.

    Looking ahead, the next In-Depth author, David Hackett Fischer, will submit himself to the 3-hour phone-in monthly session on Nov. 7. That interview will be run throughout Sunday and be repeated early Monday morning. He will be discussing works that deal with issues often discussed on this blog. We can hope the election will be over by then and we can be charmed by his historical perspective as we discover our (at least my) lost proportionality during this political season.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Bogus Lancet Study

    Posted by Shannon Love on 29th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Via The Command Post comes this study published in Lancet (free reg) which purports that 100,000 Iraqi have died from violence, most of it caused by Coalition air strikes, since the invasion of Iraq. Needless to say, this study will become an article of faith in certain circles but the study is obviously bogus on its face.

    First, even without reading the study, alarm bells should go off. The study purports to show civilian casualties 5 to 6 times higher than any other reputable source. Most other sources put total combined civilian and military deaths from all causes at between 15,000 to 20,000. The Lancet study is a degree of magnitude higher. Why the difference?

    Moreover, just rough calculations should call the figure into doubt. 100,000 deaths over roughly a year and a half equates to 183 deaths per day. Seen anything like that on the news? With that many people dying from air strikes every day we would expect to have at least one or two incidents where several hundred or even thousands of people died. Heard of anything like that? In fact, heard of any air strikes at all where more than a couple of dozen people died total?

    Where did this suspicious number come from? Bad methodology.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 244 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Arafat’s slide into illness has raised fears of chaos among Palestinians, whose 4-year-old uprising for a state has stalled.

    Of course there wasn’t much chaos under Arafat’s orderly, benevolent rule, just as there wasn’t any chaos in Iraq under Saddam or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Yeah, chaos, that’s the worst outcome possible. Better to have some of that nice stability like they used to have.

    Bring on the chaos — and the freedom and opportunity.

    (via Michael Totten)

    Posted in Middle East | 5 Comments »

    Voting: Keep It Simple

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th October 2004 (All posts by )

    If I knew nothing else about this election or recent history, I’d vote for Bush based solely on who his enemies are. The anti-Bush roster includes: the international Left — including MSM, academia and much of the entertainment industry; the governments of France, Iran, Germany, Venezuela, Canada, Cuba, N. Korea, Syria, etc.; the Palestinians; probably the Saudis and the Chinese; the UN; the US State Department bureaucracy; and numerous intellectuals who have been getting the big picture wrong for years.

    When you think about it that’s not a bad way to make complex decisions: look at what the groups that have big stakes in the matter are doing, then vote with the ones that share your interests and against the rest. That’s how I vote on issues I don’t know a lot about. For example, on a referendum item that would cap lawyers’ fees in medical-liability cases, I am split. On the one hand I think medical liability is out of control, on the other hand I oppose price fixing. But I know that the trial lawyers favor the measure and the doctors oppose it, so I vote against.

    All I need to know about this election is that the UN crowd wants Kerry to win. (As the WSJ pointed out in today’s editorial, the UN has already voted, by ginning up the missing-explosives story.) So to all the clever bloggers who are publicly agonizing about whom to vote for, I say, look at the obvious. Figure out who your enemies are, observe their preferences in our election and take the opposite position.

    UPDATE: One of the commenters raises the issue of rational ignorance. I agree that that issue overlaps the issue that I discuss, as my main reason for using my “enemy of my enemy” heuristic is that I don’t have the resources or ability to evaluate each issue by myself. However, the overlap isn’t complete. I argue that by observing the behavior of better-informed players I am able to obtain, more economically than by conventional methods, the information that I need to make good decisions. It is a little like trading stocks based on market behavior, as opposed to trading on fundamental analysis of underlying economic conditions. Maybe I could learn enough about each company’s fundamentals to trade its stock successfully. But if I can trade just as well, with less effort, solely by observing the stock’s behavior and making reasonable inferences, why not do so? It is similar with voting decisions, especially when I am having difficulty making up my mind using conventional decision criteria.

    UPDATE 2: Here’s someone who gets it.

    Posted in Politics | 24 Comments »

    Mrs. Miniver at the Bush School

    Posted by Ginny on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    It could be we haven’t been hit hard enough – or it could be we don’t have sufficient spunk. But, well, I think (hope) we do; the Aussies and the Afghanis, in this case, they lead and we follow.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections | 2 Comments »

    What’s Up With Intrade?

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I’m watching Intrade’s Bush-reelection mkt and reading comments on Lex’s recent post about the election.

    I agree with the commenter who suspects manipulation. The mkt’s acting like there’s a big, aggressive seller: there are size bids, but only small resting offers below about 53. The seller is the only one tightening the mkt. Also, IIRC (and I may not be), it appears there’s been huge volume in the past hour or so.

    This behavior doesn’t quite fit the pattern that observers noticed in the mkt earlier, where someone came in when the mkt was thin and spiked it down quickly by taking out a lot of bids. Today’s price action looks more like the scenario I hypothesized about, where someone is willing to spend hundreds of thousands to hold the mkt down, for an extended period, by entering a stream of sell orders in small units. Not as dramatic as the big plunge, but perhaps more believable to uncommitted or easily-discouraged voters. (And anyway, there are probably now so many resting bids at lowball prices that the mkt can no longer be spiked.)

    If I were George Soros I’d do the same thing.

    (Related post here)

    UPDATE: Don Luskin shares another theory.

    Posted in Politics | 26 Comments »

    I am Finished Worrying

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Don’t get me wrong.

    I will be terribly upset if Bush loses. I don’t like the trend on Tradesports. I’d like to see Bush looking stronger. All kinds of awful things can happen.

    But I have decided that I am doing myself no favors obsessing about it, which I have been doing.

    I already voted. Work prevents me from volunteering. I’ve done all I can.

    I am going stop looking at the Internet completely until this is over, after I post this. I don’t have a TV or a radio accessible where I am, which is helpful.

    I am going to total electronic silence until election night, as of right now.

    I’m going to leave the office and take a walk. It looks like it is a pleasant evening in our nation’s capital. I am going pray the Rosary. I am going to ask Our Lady to watch over this country and ask God Almighty to grant what I am asking, if that is His will for us.

    I’ll be back with something on the blog sometime after the election.

    God bless my fellow ChicagoBoyz and Grrls, and all of our readers, friends and enemies.

    And God bless America.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    2nd Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I’m not saying Bush is Reagan, but like many ordinary guys at Omaha Beach, he figured out in a hurry what was necessary. Kerry strikes me as a strange man, driven by his ambitions to take on a job he is really not suited for.

    -Tom Smith

    Posted in Politics | Comments Off

    As if there were any doubt…..

    Posted by Andy B on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    The French Foreign Minister sends a nice Hallmark get well to Arafat. It’s very touching, especially,

    “I wish to express my most sincere wishes for your recovery, hoping that you can return rapidly to your place to lead the Palestinian Authority”

    And Wretchard writes a fine article on the current state of Palestinian affairs.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Churchill’s quote

    Posted by Andy B on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Sir Winston’s quote: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

    Jay Nordlinger writes a very good column further illuminating this idea. Take the time to page down, and catch the individual antecdotes about New York city and political button-wearing. Here’s my favorite:

    “I used to wear a “Vietnamese-American Against Kerry” button until someone on St. Mark’s stopped me and delivered a monologue on the Bush police state. When I brought up the real police state that my family lived in (including the re-education camps), he brushed that off and blathered on about Bush and the sorry state of the U.S. I decided to stop wearing the button because I couldn’t take the blind idiocy.”

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Tutorial Vouchers

    Posted by Shannon Love on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I really like the idea of a voucher based funded school system. I think that long term it offers the best chance of providing high quality education to an increasingly diverse population.

    However, transitioning from the current governmental management to private management is a major hurdle. Voucher schools must be able to offer all the same opportunities as the currently established schools immediately even though they are new and untried institutions. This vastly increases the upfront cost and risk of financing such schools.

    We need a transitional form of voucher schools that can function as an auxiliary to government schools, while they build themselves up into full-fledged institutions.

    The Japanese have an extensive system of private after-hour tutoring schools called juku (for younger students) and yobiko (for high school students). These tutoring schools, often called “Cram Schools” in English, exist to prepare students for Japan’s rigorous entrance exams for high school and college.

    Perhaps we could create a similar system here, using vouchers to provide extra instruction after hours. We could start by targeting at-risk students in poor schools and then expand. Such a program would direct resources to motivated students who could really benefit from additional instruction. It could provide another source of income to teachers. The tutoring schools could start out small, perhaps with just one student, and could use private homes, churches, public meeting places or after-hour school buildings. If successful, the tutoring schools could evolve over time into full-fledged, stand-alone educational institutions.

    Politically, tutoring schools would be an easier sell. It would be easier to convince parents, teachers and education unions to support a minor change to the system, which would cause more money to flow to students’ education than a major structural change in the entire system.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th October 2004 (All posts by )

    The survival of the two party system is not a universally shared objective, particularly in this season. Its virtues rather than its imperfections gain for the two party system its most implacable enemies. The moderate coalition, the sensible accomodation, the muted ideology, the politicians who strive to borrow each other’s protective coloration and who jostle one another in the center — all this, the price of broadly based government, of general acquiescence, and of stability, is paid in frustration. The choice in a general election between two candidates either of whom can satisfy most people, or at least radically dissatisfy very few, always leaves some of us with no choice at all.

    Alexander M. Bickel, Reform and Continuity: The Electoral College, the Convention, and the Party System (1968)

    Posted in Elections | Comments Off

    Not Necessarily

    Posted by Lexington Green on 27th October 2004 (All posts by )

    A friend sent this article, about Democrat efforts to use legal procedure to derail the election in Florida, saying “here we go again”. I responded as follows:

    It will only matter if it is close.

    It is all about turnout and that is a complete wildcard. This year, turnout will be high. Maybe the highest since the 1930s. All the polling models assume a lower turnout than we are likely to see.

    The polls are increasingly unreliable for other reasons as well. Numerous writers have emphasized the decaying reliability of polls. (See Dick Morris on this.)

    In other words, we are flying blind.

    The election may defy predictions and end up not even being close.

    I think a solid Kerry majority, or even a blowout Bush majority are both possible outcomes.

    Also, the media will almost certainly attempt to spring one or more “scandals” tomorrow, on “dirty Thursday”, the Thursday before the election. So a renewed, last minute attack on Bush by the Democrats’ proxies in the MSM is nearly certain.

    Another wildcard is this: Our enemies will equate a Bush defeat with a victory for them.

    The Iraqi resistance may try a large attack, a Tet 2004, though I think they lack the combat power to do anything spectacular. Slaughtering 50 unarmed Iraqis is about their speed at this point. Nonetheless, Ralph Peters says “The terrorists are pulling out all the stops to shed blood in Iraq this week.”

    The terrorists may launch an attack here in the USA. If they have any assets here and operating, this is the moment to strike, to put all their chips on the table. So we may get our own “Madrid”. A succesful attack would give Kerry a last minute chance to say that Bush failed to protect us, to play the card the terrorists handed Zapatero. Friday would probably be optimum since large crowds of commuters will be available for attack on a workday, and it would give the story a few days to percolate and for Kerry and the MSM to spin it as a Bush failure.

    And random stuff can happen. What would the fallout have been if that registered Democrat in Florida had run over Katherine Harris and killed her instead of swerving? What if some significant violence were to occur in the run-up to the election? Can anyone say this is unlikely given the angry and frankly psycho tone this year? What will the response be? Depressed turnout? Increased? It is impossible to say. It depends on the details of the whatever happens.

    So it is way to early to rule out “events, dear boy, events” determining the outcome, particularly if the race is actually as close as is commonly assumed.

    Here’s my gut. I don’t think it is close. I think it is volatile. Not the same thing. If nothing major happens between now and election day, Bush should win. If something major does occur, he may not.

    Still, being cool-headed and conservative, and going by the futures markets and the oddsmakers as the most compact and objecive sources of information, if I had to bet a dollar today, I’d bet that Bush wins with 52% of the popular vote.

    But I wouldn’t bet a dollar.

    It’s still too early to say what will happen.

    Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

    Political Funny Business

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th October 2004 (All posts by )

    The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is intended to balance the interests of North American Indian tribes and scientists.

    There’s a long-running scandal in the handling of the prehistoric skeleton known as Kennewick Man, which is thought to be over 9000 years old and is of great scientific interest. An Indian tribe claimed the skeleton as one of its own and refused to allow it to be studied. Despite a lack of evidence for its claim, the tribe was supported by various government agencies and other Indian tribes. Scientists who want to study the skeleton sued the government and the tribes, claiming a right to access under NAGPRA. The suit dragged on for years during which the tribes and government did not distinguish themselves by their behavior. (Typically, the defendants repeatedly insisted that tribes have the right to control the remains of their members, while they ignored requests to show a connection between the Kennewick skeleton and the tribe that claimed it.) Eventually, and only quite recently, the defendants exhausted all appeals and the scientists prevailed.

    Now comes a bill, S-2843, introduced by retiring Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R, CO), that would amend NAGPRA essentially to give control of all pre-1492 human remains in North America to Indian tribes, whether or not there is any evidence of affiliation. In the words of a press release from a group opposed to the bill:

    . . . the amended definition would now include all human remains that pre-date European contact (1492), even if the remains are not from Native Americans. It presumes that any remains found this century, even if 50,000 years old, are somehow related to modern American Indians and should be placed off limits to scientific study (and buried if tribal groups so wish).

    S-2843 is stealth legislation designed to moot the scientists’ court victory. If enacted, it would give Indian tribes a legal choke hold over much North American anthropological research. It upsets the reasonable balance struck in the original NAGPRA, and invites the extraction of rents from scientific institutions that wish to obtain permission to do archaeological studies. It deserves wide publicity and scrutiny and should be defeated.

    More information:

    Moira Breen’s Kennewick Man Links (indispensable)

    Friends of America’s Past

    Center for the Study of the First Americans

    Posted in Politics, Science, Society, USA | 3 Comments »

    Consuming Power: A Social History of American Energies by David E. Nye

    Posted by Lexington Green on 26th October 2004 (All posts by )

    The friend I referred to in this post recently loaned me the book referred to above.. He is an old-fashioned gentleman who neither has nor wants email. I wrote him a note when I mailed it back to him, which I’m providing here as a book review. ChicagoBoyz readers seem to like hearing about books, so this may be of some interest.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | Comments Off

    Dont Put Up With Any Crap

    Posted by Lexington Green on 26th October 2004 (All posts by )

    So I’m in DC for work. It is basically all the time in the office. I get a rare chance to get outdoors. I’m walking down the street. I get to the corner of 16th and P.

    There is some guy there who has just pulled a pair of Bush / Cheney signs off a lightpole and is putting them in a trash can. He’s with his girlfriend, and they are laughing about this. He’s maybe 25 year old, tall guy in one of these leatherette looking jackets.

    I’m instantly irate.

    I pull them out of the trash ,just as he’s putting them in there. “Thanks. I’ll take those. I’ve got a use for these signs.” I am loud. I can be heard by passersby and the people waiting for the bus. He just smirks at me. That sets me off “What the f*ck do you think your doing, pulling these signs down?” I am now making a scene. Him: “Hey, it’s a free country.” Me: “So you can sh*t on other people’s free speech in a free country? Your behavior is f*cking outrageous.” I am bellowing. He said something in return but I turned around and kept walking.

    I’m too old to get in a fistfight with some kid who’d mop the floor with me.

    I gave one of the signs away. The other one is up in my office now.

    Too many Democrats think there are no rules this year. Simple as that.

    Don’t sit on your hands when you see abusive behavior.

    Object.

    Loudly.

    Raise Hell.

    Make a scene.

    Don’t put up with any crap.

    (BTW, If I saw a guy taking down a Kerry sign I’d have reamed him out, said, “hey, I’m voting for Bush and you are making us all look bad, play it straight, man.” But you know what? I’m not going to see that, am I? I’ll tell you what I’m going to see. I’m going to see an increasing level of vandalism and fraud and intimidation by the Donks leading up to this election. Don’t sit still for it if — when — you see it.)

    Posted in USA | 11 Comments »

    A View From the Other Side

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 26th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I first started reading the blogs because they were fast. Bloggers would usually post about an upcoming newsworthy subject, discuss every single ramification while fact checking to death, and then go on to something else. Then, two days or so after the blogs had moved on, I’d see the headlines on the front page of my local newspaper.

    It’s this desire to find out what’s going on that drives many people to the blogs. Once they get here they soon find that the story they’re reading in the mainstream press isn’t really what’s going on. It’s spun, distorted, altered to conform to the preconceptions and prejudices of the author and his editors.

    A dear friend of mine sent me a link to this article in the UK Independent, a British newspaper. The author is Rageh Omaar, whose day job is working for the BBC. He talks about how people in the United States are turning in ever greater numbers to blogs and the Internet to get their news. He gets it right when he says that people have lost faith in the traditional news organizations and are trying to find less biased sources.

    What’s I found interesting is that he actually thought that American Big Media was too conservative! He closes his article by quoting Rick Mercier, a columnist for The Free Lance-Star in Virginia. Mr. Mercier is extremely critical of the Bush administration, and sees the invasion of Iraq as a failure of the press to do their job.

    Well, you can find always find an op-ed somewhere that will support your confirm your own prejudices. What Mr. Omaar needs to do is take a look at the studies that prove that the American media is hopelessly slanted to the Left, and we’ve had proof of that since at least 1980.

    Of course, we are talking about a guy who works for the BBC. The only thing I can say is that he’d better take the time for a little introspection and recognize his own bias while he has a chance. After all, a group of bloggers are nipping at the BBC’s heels even as we speak.

    Posted in Media | 9 Comments »

    Making a List

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 26th October 2004 (All posts by )

    Many media outlets here in the West are careful about labelling terrorist organizations by their actual name. Instead they’re called “insurgents” or “resistance groups”. This can be very frustrating for those of us interested in seeing international terrorist groups eradicated. Not only do these groups play on the prejudices of their supporters, claiming divine inspiration, but it can also appear that news organizations are actually aiding and abetting.

    This isn’t necessarily true. Terrorists can be pretty scary guys, particularly to reporters that not only are unarmed but also willfully seek out terrorists in order to get a compelling story. The danger is increased by an order of magnitude when dealing with religious fanatics who are convinced that God told them to slaughter everyone who isn’t a member of their religion. Simply put, newshounds have no defense except to seem to be sympathetic and hope that these scumbags don’t just kill them out of hand.

    Still, in their efforts to keep from enraging the terrorists, news organizations have presented a very distorted view of the situation over the past 4 decades. This is particularly true when one considers the way they’ve pussyfooted around the fact that the majority of murderous terrorist organizations are Islamic. The arguement seems to be that it would be insensitive, bigoted and unfair to point out the religious motivation behind the majority of terrorists. Besides, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t run around trying to kill innocent people. It’s important to keep from painting with too wide a brush.

    This is true, but it’s also important to know your enemy. If there’s just a small percentage of Muslims who engage in terrorists acts then it’s important to find out what makes them different from the mainstream. And if it turns out that some Islamic cultures produce the majority of terrorists then it’s important to know that as well. This isn’t going to happen unless people take a cold, hard, realistic look at terrorism, as well as the conditions that produce them.

    A new post at Strategypage.com takes the first step. (No permalinks, so please scroll down to the post dated October 26, 2004.) Please note that this list is of major acts performed by Islamic terrorists. Thos actions which were taken by non-Islamic movements, such as Communist insurgents, aren’t listed. Still, I think that the number of violent acts and the number of victims are very telling. SP makes the point that the number of victims claimed by every other non-Muslim terrorist act combined doesn’t equal the dead people that the Islamic terrorists have piled up. These guys are the champs at killing innocents

    SP also says that Islamic news organizations have just started (in the past 2 months) to examine the fact that the majority of terrorists in the world are Islamic. If this erodes the wide base of support that these murderers enjoy in the Muslim world then it will actually do some good. But, for some reason, I’m not holding my breath.

    Posted in Islam | 1 Comment »

    My iguana has no shame!

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th October 2004 (All posts by )

    . . . he runs around naked all day. Here’s some hot reptile porn for our friend Moira Breen and any Chicagoboyz who are geeky enough to be interested in this kind of thing (yes, WV, I mean you).

    Iguana miss you.

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 4 Comments »

    Vote, Volunteer

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I just voted absentee.

    Be sure you vote. This is a terribly important election.

    More important, if you can, volunteer.

    Contact your state or county party. They can almost certainly use you.

    Obviously, to readers of this blog, I want Bush to win and I want more Republicans to do this than Democrats.

    But people from either party who want to make sure this election is conducted fairly and legally should get involved. Make sure this election goes the way it is supposed to. Do not tolerate anything else, from your own side or from the other side.

    The reason our system works is because citizens stay alert and make sure it works the way it is supposed to. That’s the only way it works. It is not somebody else’s job. It is your job as a citizen.

    I have volunteered in other elections in the past and I had very interesting experiences. Work demands prevent me from doing anything this year beyond voting. I wish that was not so. If I could, I’d be going to Milwaukee with other Republican lawyers to make sure no vote fraud occurs there. Democrats have similar initiatives in place, as they should.

    If you can possibly participate in the process beyond just voting in this very important election I strongly, strongly urge you to do so.

    Update: Check out the 72 hour program.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Another Reason not to vote for Kerry

    Posted by Ginny on 25th October 2004 (All posts by )

    I’m no expert on international relations, but it always seemed to me we were strong enough and big enough; our job–duty–is to stand beside those who believe as we do – in free elections, a free press, a judicial system that aims at rule of law. If Israel seems occasionally uncomfortably tribal, it is a good deal less so than the countries that surround it. But what is Kerry’s plan? Note Kristol’s column. Also, observe Krauthammer.And the delightful new blogger, Kudlow.

    As someone who grew up surrounded by Czechs, Latvians, and Cubans, I’ve always felt we have a duty not to throw the smaller nations, especially those with whom we share values, off the sled to distract the wolves. (Not that I think Israel will take being tossed over very calmly and its relatively martial attitude may lead to crises we will not be able to ignore. Good for them. Even worse for us.) Nor are the wolves likely to stay long satisfied. I remember Taborsky talking about sitting behind, as secretary to, Benes in that build up to World War II that so easily sacrificed the Czechs. All the sentimentality (based on guilt perhaps) of Casablanca and The Third Man can not ignore the fact that they were sacrificed, a sop to wolves, who only became stronger.

    Posted in International Affairs | Comments Off