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  • Archive for October, 2005

    3 Views of the Long-Term

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2005 (All posts by )

    With neither the expertise nor time to do these justice, I offer for others’ thoughts the following three sites which discuss both bin Laden’s and America’s long-term strategy:
    A) Bruce Lawrence, having written an introduction to bin Laden’s works, summarizes some of his points – “In bin Laden’s Words” in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Thanks to A&L Daily.
    B) Belmont Club’s discussion of Iran’s threat and of Gingrich’s testimony about American intelligence and the “long war.”
    C) Newt Gingrich’s testimony itself before Congress. This is relatively long and in PDF format; includes 4 appendices: Natinal Security Changes; Core Values of the Intelligence Community; Recommendations; and For Inside Assessment of Intelligence Reform.

    He contrasts this “Long War” (taking 50-70 years if we are quite lucky) with the defensive alliance that contained the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The fitting comparison, he believes, are to the lengthy, multiple & bloody Reformation-era wars.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    This blog is good for you!

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2005 (All posts by )

    (Didn’t read Chicagoboyz.)

    Tired of fishy rhetoric? Do some of your usual blogs smell a bit off? We’re not saying it was poor reading habits alone that did in our piscine friend, but maybe it’s time to fortify your blogging diet with a heaping helping of fresh Chicagoboyz. It couldn’t hurt.

    Posted in Humor | 1 Comment »

    Personal Experience is Referred to as “Anecdotal”

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 31st October 2005 (All posts by )

    Steven den Beste sent me a private Email with a link to this article by John Lott. In the op-ed, Lott discusses how Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin brought the subject of gun control up during a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This is after badgering the new US Ambassadore on the same subject when he arrived in Canada to fulfill his duties.

    Steven asked a question in his Email.

    “Why is it that gun control activists have so much trouble with this
    concept?”

    I started to answer that question in the reply, but decided that it was long and involved enough to rate a post.

    I’ve been a self defense advocate and active 2nd Amendment supporter for the past 14 years, and in that time I’ve debated a number of people who support gun control. It’s been my experience that the majority of the hard core true believers, the people who donate the majority of the time and money needed to keep the movement going, have lost a loved one to suicide by gun.

    This makes sense when one considers that the majority of all gun deaths are suicides (close to 60%). I’m not qualified to render a psychological profile of the people with which I’ve come in contact, but it seems that they are uniformly extremely emotional about the issue. They also tend to be convinced that their program of abolishing all private gun ownership will reduce all levels of violence, from crime to suicides.

    It’s obvious that the persons who provide the greatest impetus for the gun control movement are moral, concerned individuals that are genuinely convinced that they are attempting a great good for all of us. Unfortunately, the record shows that they are wrong.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law Enforcement | 42 Comments »

    We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Malaise Exchange

    Posted by Ginny on 30th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Update: Joerg of Atlantic Review has written to note that the position on oil companies I thought was by one of their writers was not. I am sorry for misrepresenting the writers on their blog – which clearly does not as a general rule take such positions. And, apparently, the comment I thought attributable to one of them, was not by a contributor.
    Yes, Joerg, I have been sick, but not that sick. I missed your posting on the comments. And no, I still haven’t gotten your e-mail. You might send it to Jonathan and he will forward it.

    Post as original follows:
    I’m thankful to David Foster for his link to Noonan and the spirited & thoughtful (& sometimes wistful) discussion that followed. He made me think & feel a great deal more gratitude for the deep pleasures I’ve found in life during the last few years. I’d intended to link to a couple of interesting discussions of cultural exchange in a short post this week-end, but was struck by the juxtaposition of those articles with Noonan’s sense of malaise. I suspect, at the heart of Noonan are doubts that what we do & feel, our history & tradition & values, are not defensible or shouldn’t be defended. (Or the people doing the defending might be the people who have already given up.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

    Trading Diary Notes – LWSN

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 30th October 2005 (All posts by )

    I bought Lawson Software (LWSN) and Silicon Motion (SIMO) on Friday to get long. Both had stellar earnings beats, along with good charts.

    One interesting thing I saw over the weekend on LWSN is that they have $248m of cash/mkt securities on their balance sheet with negligible debt. Current market cap according to Yahoo Finance is $856m. But since it’s profitable and cash flow positive, under M&A analysis, LWSN’s market cap is really closer to $608m since whoever buys them would pocket the cash and get the earnings stream. Assuming analyst estimates of 36 cents a share for FY06 earnings, and 105m diluted shares outstanding, LWSN should earn in the ballpark of $38 million. This makes its forward P/E closer to 16, rather than the current forward P/E of 22.5. Funny thing, Yahoo Finance’s market cap calc looks like 113m shares outstanding, but LWSN’s financials say 105m fully diluted. I’m guessing LWSN is more accurate, which would make LWSN’s true market cap closer to 793m. Call it a market inefficiency of info, ie more people look at Yahoo than SEC filings. Backing out cash, 793m-248m = 545m, brings forward P/E closer to 14. Downright cheap.

    I’m hoping LWSN is a buy and hold. I won’t hesitate to sell if the market plunges, but this gives me comfort in holding the stock.

    Some good news, the portfolio’s first full month performance (since inception/start of law school) as of this weekend is 15.5%. It was higher, but I’ll take that any day. So cheers, here’s to the return of Greed. Hopefully I won’t have to experience the return of Fear (and loathing).

    Ding ding ding…

    Update: I should have waited until the true “end of the month” to calculate 1 month returns like mutual funds do. It would have been 21% vs 15.5%. I love mark up day – good enough for a 5.5% improvement on returns today. But I bet my original calculation is a “cleaner” return than the potentially artificial end of month numbers. I should also write another post called “day trading for fun and profit”… I took advantage of the run up for some intraday gains. Not recommended, but it’s a way to play the gun up game, without the overnight risk.

    Posted in Investment Journal | 2 Comments »

    With most Muslims there can be no such thing as a true religious ‘dialog’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 30th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Link via LGF:

    Prince Charles is currently trying to ‘plead the cause of Islam’ in America”>.

    I’m pretty sure that he has no idea what he is talking about:

    WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) — A leader of the small worldwide Muslim reform movement warned the West Tuesday against wishful thinking as the U.S. government promotes an intensive dialogue with Islam.
    “The dialogue is not proceeding well because of the two-facedness of most Muslim interlocutors on the one hand and the gullibility of well-meaning Western idealists on the other,” said Bassam Tibi, in an interview with United Press International.

    “First, both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms these mean different things to each of them. The word ‘peace,’ for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam — or ‘House of Islam’ — to the entire world,” explained Tibi, who is also a research scholar at Harvard University.

    “This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought, a concept developed by (18th-century philosopher) Immanuel Kant.”

    In other words, not the crusades, much less more recent events, but rather the Battle of Poitiers is the true source of Islamist resentment and aggression. They won’t want to stop until whole world follows their interpretation of Islam:

    “Similarly, when Muslims and the Western heirs of the Enlightenment speak of tolerance they have different things in mind. In Islamic terminology, this term implies abiding non-Islamic monotheists, such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, as second-class believers. They are ‘dhimmi,’ a protected but politically immature minority.”

    According to Tibi, the quest of converting the entire world to Islam is an immutable fixture of the Muslim worldview. Only if this task is accomplished — if the world has become a “Dar al-Islam” — will it also be a “Dar a-Salam,” or a house of peace.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    Because nothing says ‘Old World Charm’ like a bong shop

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 30th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Update: It seems that some people have problems seeing the images. This happened recently with another post, but this time around it should be alright. Please tell me in the comments if you can’t see them either, and also which browser you are using.


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments »

    Lech Kaczynski is the new Polish President

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 30th October 2005 (All posts by )

    I’m a bit late reporting on this, but I couldn’t blog this week. Anyway, somewhat surprisingly, Lech Kaczynski of the Law and Justice party has been elected as the new Polish President last Sunday

    Warsaw, Poland (AHN) – In a surprising ending, Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski has been elected the new president of Poland, winning by over 9 percentage points over his rival, Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk. After confirmation of his win, Kaczynski quickly called on Sunday for a quick completion of government talks between his conservative party and its pro-business ally.

    Until Sunday, Tusk had led in preliminary polls by the same amount of points, with the outcome of the election coming as a shock to most Poles who predicted a win for Tusk.

    “Society has made a decision and this should be a signal for the government,” Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Lech’s identical twin, told private television channel TVN24.

    Donald Tusk had been leading in the polls, and was the favorite of the younger generation, but his ideas for free market reforms and cutbacks of welfare programs didn’t go over all that well with older Poles. Voter turnout was just above 50 percent, and it seems that those who were skeptical of Tusk’s reforms were more motivated to vote than his supporters. Kaczynski’s and Tusk’s parties will have to come to an agreement, though, if they want to form a coalition:

    According to analysts, coming to a compromise between the Law and Justice and Civic Platform parties may become difficult because the presidential race underlined deep differences between the parties on how far the country should go with market reforms and how much welfare it can afford.

    Their value systems differ on more than just economics:

    Tusk’s opponent in the runoff is Mayor Lech Kaczynski of Warsaw, who leans left when it comes to social spending and the welfare state but is a deeply conservative Roman Catholic outspokenly opposed to abortion, divorce and homosexuality.

    … Tusk stands for a kind of modern secular liberalism, a nonjudgmental, morally relativist stance of the sort that might be found, say, in a Paris café or on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is also an economic liberal in the European sense of the term, a believer, like Milton Friedman or Ronald Reagan, in the stultifying effect of too much government, the liberating power of the market.

    Kaczynski, on the other hand, comes across to many Poles as more steeped in Polish tradition. He is religious, outspokenly nationalistic, a mayor who banned the annual gay pride parade in Warsaw.

    How much of that difference is based on substance, rather than just a show put on for the elections is in doubt, though, as this article from the IHT also states. Either way it seems to have been a pretty tough election campaign, including strident personal attacks.

    Both Kaczynski and Tusk are veterans of the Solidarity movement, and vowed to finally put an end to the post-communists’ still entrenched position in the country’s institutions. Kaczynski also has been demanded tribunals for Poland’s former communist rulers and their lackeys.

    Both candidates are staunchly pro-American so there won’t be any great changes to the present government in this regard. Lech Kaczynski has announced a more assertive stance towards both Germany and Russia, so neighborly relations might suffer somewhat in the near future. More on that in some later posts; since the new President has already signaled a more moderate attitude towards Germany than he had adopted during the election campaign, it also isn’t quite clear how he is going to actually behave yet. One issue that definitely is going to become contentious is the announced gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, since it will be built under the Baltic Sea instead of going through Polish territory. Some critics even have compared the deal to the Hitler-Stalin pact, a pretty ridiculous case of hyperbole, even if the criticism is somewhat understandable.

    Kaczynski as a social conservative and an economic liberal, almost to the point of socialism (the Western rather than its Eastern bloc variety) isn’t exactly my cup of tea, and I’m a somewhat skeptical about his ability to be an effective President. Poland has the highest unemployment in the EU at about 19 percent, so the country badly needs more pro-market policies, which Tusk had wanted to introduce but Kaczynski has expressly eschewed, at least so far. Even so he might turn out to be a pleasant surprise yet, especially as far as free market reforms are concerned.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Book ‘Em, Nicolas

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 29th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Europe suffered from international terrorist organizations in the 1960’s and 1970’s. French terrorists got into the game early, with several diverse groups trying to assassinate Charles de Gaulle through his long political career. I’m probably hopelessly biased, but I think the main reason why those groups were dismantled and the major players either caught or killed was due to aggressive and professional law enforcement.

    But, of course, times change. A pair of France’s most notorious and dangerous criminal bosses were freed from prison a few years ago by their henchmen. One of the prison breaks, that of Italian mobster Antonio Ferrara, closely resembled a military operation, with machine gun fire being used to suppress the guards while RPG’s were reportedly used to blow open the gates of the facility. What is troubling is that this all took place at Fresnes Prison right outside of Paris, arguably the most secure in the entire country.

    This news item reports that gangs of youths have been rioting after dark for the past two days in Clichy-sous-Bois, which is yet another suburb of Paris. The spark that caused this urban unrest was the deaths of two youths who reportedly climbed the fence of an electric substation and were electrocuted. They did this while fleeing the scene of a suspected burglary after the police showed up.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law Enforcement | 6 Comments »

    Blogger Fashion Update!

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Our Autumn Footwear Collection

    (Previous post: Resort and Casual Wear)

    Posted in Humor | 10 Comments »

    The Trident Passes — Peacefully

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th October 2005 (All posts by )

    World War I was caused in large part by the desire of Germany to assert its “place in the sun” and replace Great Britain as the major world power. The unintended consequence of the war was to allow the United States to replace Britain, peacefully — in fact, silently, even secretly, after 1918.

    It was in the field of Anglo-American relations that the peace-making years were most momentous. The war had altered the balance between Britain and America for good; in the economic sphere by turning Britain into a permanent debtor and making it impossible for London alone to continue as the principle financial centre of the world, and also in the military and naval sphere. The Americans were quite prepared to outbuild Britain at sea unless they could get arrangements on naval and other items that suited them; and the British had to decide whether to take up the challenge or not. Because they decided not to, a permanent shift in world power was consummated without a shot being fired. The fact that the shift was disguised, mainly on the British side, as an acceptance of partnership was necessary for political and psychological reasons, but it did not disguise the brutal truth. (Marxist publicists went on predicting an inevitable Anglo-American war, oblivious of the fact that the war had already been fought — though bloodlessly.)

    Max Beloff, Imperial Sunset: Britain’s Liberal Empire, 1897-1921.

    The “Marxist publicists” had a vulgar, economistic vision of the world, and therein, it seems, lay their error. In fact, international relations theory would predict such a war, and its absence is an inexplicable or at least troubling fact in a very limited set of global wars. It is a big outlier. Perhaps the biggest.

    Britain had “taken up the challenge” presented by Spain, France and Germany over four centuries, and despite many dark hours, always prevailed. Why did it not do so again? The USA had a much larger economy and warmaking potential than did Britain and its Empire 1918, but so had previous challengers in their eras. In those cases Britain had sought out allies and built an alliance system to contain and ultimately defeat the challenger. Yet Britain pursued no such course against the United States. Was this sheer exhaustion after the Great War? Or was it because Britain knew that the relative costs of challenging the USA were greater than the costs of living in US-led global order? In other words, was there something uniquely “tolerable” about acquiescing to American hegemony which was not true with regard to France of Germany? Was Bismarck right that the decisive factor in world politics was “the fact that the North Americans speak English”?

    Of course, the Americans wanted to dislodge Britain, and the City of London, from economic and financial primacy, and profit by the change. But they did not want to assume the burdens of maintaining international order which alone made a global economy possible. In fact, the American leadership did not understood what was at stake or what needed to be done. Hence, we had the anarchy of the interwar period. Only after 1945, with the relative power of the USA and the tottering British Empire, even more starkly obvious, and with the immediate threat of the Soviet Union right before their eyes, did the Americans attempt to build a genuine successor to the British-led world order. These “transition costs” could not have been known in 1918, of course. But even if they had, Britain and America would probably still have changed places, but handled the transition better.

    The shift from British to American predominance, without a hegemonic war between the two powers, was the decisive event of the last two centuries. The British-led world order segued into a continuous Anglo-American world order founded on similar principles. Had the two Anglophone oceanic powers gone to war, the destruction would have been immense. The way would have been cleared for a continental challenger to assert control of an unassailable land-base in Eurasia, take to the sea, and then establish a global hegemony on totally different principles — Nazi or Communist principles, most likely.

    The most important “war” in history is the one that was never fought.

    Update: Despite all the good comments, I think there is still an element of mystery in this particular dog not barking — i.e. the transition of naval power, and global hegemony, from the British Empire to the USA, without a war. The other challengers to Britain were very, very daunting — Napoleonic France had twice Britain’s GNP and the whole of Europe under its boot, for example, to say nothing of Germany in the Summer of 1940. Still, the British fought with absolute ruthlessness and at great cost and over many years of conflict to defeat each and every one of them. Then, the USA comes along, and the Lion steps aside. I think the only explanation is the intra-Anglospheric ties of language and institutions and elite contacts as well as trade and investment. Nonetheless, other outcomes, including conflict, were not impossible or inconceivable.

    One obvious example: We can only guess what a more pragmatic German leadership might have accomplished circa 1890-1910. The volume of trade between Britain and Germany was very high, and they had common enemies in France and Russia, and Germany had the best science and technology in the world, while Britain had the biggest empire. There were lots of reasons the two countries could have grown closer together. An Anglo-German alliance could have arisen which would have made the world an utterly different place. While one can overdo it with counterfactuals, I find history is more interesting and more illuminating if you ask “What if?” and “Why not?” This helps you to make sense of what actually did happen.

    (Cross-posted on Albion’s Seedling.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

    Dark Thoughts from Peggy Noonan

    Posted by David Foster on 28th October 2005 (All posts by )

    If you haven’t already, please go read this piece by Peggy Noonan.

    Then come back and let’s discuss it.

    Are things really that bad?

    Posted in Morality and Philosphy | 71 Comments »

    Be careful what you wish for

    Posted by ken on 27th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Over at Bitch, PhD, here’s one of several posts expressing outrage that pharmacists are allowed to refuse to sell you birth control pills or emergency contraception.

    As one who enthusiastically approves of any fight against religious wackos trying to use the power of the state to take away your rights to reject their religion and ignore its teachings, particularly religious wackos who have a nasty habit of blowing things up or cutting off people’s heads to get their way, I can’t help but be sympathetic.

    But I have a couple of questions for our friends on the left.

    Where did these pharmacists get their power? They’re not generally willing to blow things up to keep you from getting your birth control, so someone else must be using a threat of force to stop you from simply giving him the finger and going down the street to get your pills.

    That someone else, of course, would be the government, which will send armed police to throw you in jail if you give your pharmacist the finger and buy your pills from someone who isn’t in the small licensed priesthood of pharmacists, or buy them at all without posessing a permission slip signed by a member of the small licensed priesthood of M.D.’s. This means that if the pharmacist exercises his judgement and decides not to hand over the pills, and you live in a town too small to support multiple members of this priesthood, you’re either driving to another town or you’re just SOL.

    Now who’s brilliant idea was it to empower and direct the Federal Government to do this? Who came up with the plan to take away your right to choose and buy your own medicine and deliver into the hands of these priesthoods the power to allow or forbid your purchase of same? Who delivered into the hands of the government, and by extension the voters, the power to forbid medicines entirely, and to place other medicines off-limits to anyone who hasn’t made the proper supplications to an M.D. and a pharmacist?

    Oh, that’s right, it was your side’s brilliant idea, signed into law by your hero Franklin Roosevelt.

    Now, after you’ve delivered this power into the hands of the voters, you’re dismayed to find that there are voters that don’t think you should be allowed to have birth control pills or emergency contraception. They think the power of the state should be used to stop you from getting these things. There are pharmacists that think the same way, and voters who think they should be allowed to exercise this discretion while being protected from dissenting competitors.

    I’m not too happy about that either. But what are you going to do about those voters? Kill them? Outvote them? (That’ll work great until they’ve outbred you for a few generations) Try to work up an even more convoluted principle that lets doctors and pharmacists treat us like the overgrown children you insist that most of us are but doesn’t let them refuse us birth control prescriptions?

    Or are you going to join with some of those you affectionately call “wingnuts” and stand for the principle that, no, the government should not have the power to take away our medicine or use force to stop us from buying it or insist that a special class of people has the power to make all those decisions for us? Form a coalition of voters who hate the restrictions on birth control and voters who hate the restrictions on pain medicine and voters who hate the restrictions on experimental cancer therapies and voters who hate the restrictions on allergy medicine and voters who hate the extra cost the whole system imposes on everyone who needs medicine or medical treatment of any kind?

    Hell, you might convince some religious wackos to give up their opposition to other people buying birth control in peace in exchange for cheaper medicines, quicker introduction of new medicines, and the right to treat their own conditions without other groups of voters having a say.

    I think it’s worth a shot. Y’all with me?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

    Two Years, Two Curses Broken

    Posted by demimasque on 27th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Last year, the Boston Red Sox overcame the Curse of the Bambino by beating their archrivals, the New York Yankees, en route to a sweeping victory in the World Series.

    This year, I watched the final pitch and tag-out at first base as the Chicago White Sox overcame their 88-year Curse of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (also known as the Curse of the Black Sox), and won the World Series in a sweep of the Houston Astros.

    Next stop: The Chicago Cubs for an attempt to break their nearly century-long curse. The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, a drought so long that they’ve even had time to build up another curse inside, the Curse of the Billy Goat.

    PS – The Astros were understandably disappointed. It was their first ever trip to the World Series since they were created 44 years ago (the longest any major league baseball team had taken to get to the World Series), and they had overcome a 15-30 start to this season. Their time will come.

    PPS – Former President George H. W. Bush, a Texan, was understanbly disappointed when they showed his face in a replay. It looks like he’s gained some weight. I guess he’s been spending too much time with Bill Clinton!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Sports | 11 Comments »

    Security Free-Riding Among Anglosphere Countries

    Posted by Lexington Green on 26th October 2005 (All posts by )

    I have a post on this topic over on Albion’s Seedling. It is in part a response to Mr. Rummel’s earlier post here. One commenter thinks I have sullied Canada’s honor. Check it out.

    Posted in Anglosphere | 10 Comments »

    Running on Fumes

    Posted by demimasque on 26th October 2005 (All posts by )

    Bill Rice at Dawn’s Early Light recently considered Sino-Japanese energy geopolitics. While the disputes over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are well-known, less well-known but, as Bill points out, equally contentious, are the disputes over gas fields in the East China Sea:

    What is at stake is over 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. China already has developed stations at Chunxiao (Shirakaba), Duanqiao (Kusunoki) and Tianwaitian (Kashi) that are starting this month to produce natural gas. Japan had floated a proposal to jointly develop the sites, but only after China agreeing to stop drilling and submit to Japan its internal surveys of where the natural gas is coming from (See the Asia Times Online file for an in depth analysis).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments »

    Greed Didn’t Work for Napoleon

    Posted by Ginny on 25th October 2005 (All posts by )

    A&L links to Frederick R. Kagan’s “Power and Persuasion” in the Wilson Quarterly. Like most important balances (of tenderness, discipline & love in child raising or of customers, employees & profit in business), the one between the military, diplomacy & a certain humility in victory is obvious; nonetheless, finding the right proportions and being sure enough of those proportions – courageous enough – to persist is difficult. May we hope Bush is stubborn where it counts. If it achieves this balance, America’s non-imperial imperialism will not be an oxymoron but a paradox. Keegan argues:

    For the United States, there is no path that will spare it criticism and even outright opposition, but its broad goals of spreading freedom and political reform are ones that a great many people in the Muslim world and beyond will be able to accept. The challenge is not only to continue balancing power and persuasion but also simply to continue—to persist in the face of adversity and despite arguments that the very exercise of power ensures that the United States will never persuade and never prevail.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Smokin’ Hot

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 25th October 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve highlighted what can go wrong with an investment. Here’s an example of what can go right: Novavax (NVAX), top gainer and most active for trading on Nasdaq today, up 33% on 51 million shares.

    Novavax is an avian flu play. They have a potentially proprietary way of mass producing flu vaccines. I didn’t quite believe it, but vaccines are still made the same way as a century ago: “where the product must be incubated over months at a time using century-old chicken egg-based technology.” Novavax’s Virus-Like Particle (VLP)technology can cut that time down significantly.

    If you’re into watching the market, the trading in NVAX is a sight to see. NVAX has 43.5 million shares outstanding. So today’s 51 million shares volume says a lot. What caused the jump? You name it: the avian flu scare in Europe, short squeeze, momentum traders, CNBC focus, shortage of flu vaccines last season from production problems, to name a few.

    I smell a frenzy. Smokin’ hot.

    Note: NVAX is a highly volatile small cap stock. Be careful. Do not construe any of the above as investment advice.

    Posted in Investment Journal | 4 Comments »

    Religious Tolerance

    Posted by demimasque on 24th October 2005 (All posts by )

    One of the persistent comparisons between the West and the Muslim world has been the place of religious tolerance. We in the West have become so accustomed to religious pluralism that a sizable minority feels safe in denigrating the religious background of the West by taking it out of context, while defending those who hijack yet another religion by insisting that the majority of believers of that other religion don’t share the views of those extremists. Goose and gander deserve different sauces. Yet, we tolerate these, and others less self-contradicted, because we have developed a respect for the freedom of conscience, without which we would still be experiencing the internecine brawls that rocked our ancestral societies in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

    Observers of the Islamic world have noted the societal trajectories there. While the outlying societies, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, have been largely able to co-exist with other religions (although these relationships have been strained in the past century), the core of the Muslim world, the Arabian peninsula, has been home to an intolerant fundamentalism which denies the validity not only of other faiths, but also militates against coreligionists who happen to follow a different interpretation. The Sunni-Shia divide, although subtle in practice, has been politically exploited over the centuries.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 9 Comments »

    Annan’s Computer Tells All

    Posted by Ginny on 23rd October 2005 (All posts by )

    Taking a break from test-writing, I turn on C-span and hear Seymour Hersch say we will never know who killed Rafik Hariri. But I remembered the report named names. Next break, I turn to Instapundit who links this:

    The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed “senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. But the undoctored version named those officials as “Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed”.

    (Ah – a certain order and clarity – for these are the President’s brother, brother-in-law & the Commander of Syrian intelligence) Of course, this has been known since Thursday and C-span taped Hersch before. But Hersch would have seemed more prescient if Annan’s editing had stood. (“The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.”) Perhaps just such moments make the UN more determined to control the net: It’s chaos when people know too much, isn’t it?

    Posted in Tech | 6 Comments »

    The Blogs & the Coffeeroom

    Posted by Ginny on 23rd October 2005 (All posts by )

    Most of my freshmen rhetoric students choose current topics – off-shoring, CAFTA, privatized social security, the 10% rule–for their series of argumentative papers. (I’ve given up on legalizing drugs; I never got one that was coherent. While I’m sympathetic with the positions expressed on this blog, reading these made me doubt their authors had time or brain cells to waste on recreational drugs. Indeed, their lives seemed pretty much recreational.)

    This semester, I added another option. They could choose among some controversial books, read the book, and analyze one of its major arguments. Rhoads, Hayek, Pinker, Lomberg challenge orthodoxies; only a couple of ambitious students chose to do this, but they are becoming quite engaged. Of course, I have an agenda, but since they have to neutrally define the controversy, then write papers both for & against, the goal is less which side than increased understanding.

    One girl chose Steven Rhoads’ Taking Sex Differences Seriously, but has been having trouble finding arguments or reviews. This is her first semester in college, but I suspect this is not just her lack of research skills. Some studies are best left unreviewed. Last week, I approached one of my colleagues from psych and asked if she knew of any work specifically countering his arguments. She hadn’t heard of it.
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    Posted in Blogging | 28 Comments »

    What if Miers Loses?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd October 2005 (All posts by )

    Intrade is usually right. So, let’s assume she is going to be beaten. Bush being Bush, he won’t back down. So it will go all the way to a vote and she’ll lose — let’s assume that happens for the sake of the discussion.

    Then what? This is a blog, what the Hell, we can speculate all over the place.

    Does Bush say, after this humiliating defeat, “yeah, I was wrong, I have learned, I have grown. I will now appoint a person with a long, published record which will appeal to the Conservatives who attacked Miers successfully”? Why would he?

    Or does he instead say, “I cannot get someone known to be a Conservative onto the Court, and I cannot get a stealth Conservative onto the Court. I’ll just pick a Hispanic who is known to not be anti-Roe, since that appointment is ‘historic’ and generates some ethnic balance and is an easy confirmation that gets this over with”?

    I have to think it something like the latter.

    I am assuming that Bush did not pick someone with a proven record that Conservatives like because he does not think he can get such a person confirmed, or has no interest in doing so. What his motives really were, we may never know.

    Bush certainly has no reason or incentive to give the Conservative wing of his coalition anything they happen to want after they went to war with him on this. Bush is in many ways a “Nixonian” president, spending lots of money, relatively pro-Government, not particularly popular, polarizing, more interested in foreign policy than in domestic policy. Perhaps his response to this episode will be similarly Nixonian, “f*ck the Conservatives, they are a bunch of kooks.”

    I think we will see a much more “centrist” and “compassionate” President Bush hereafter, after having his throat cut by his own side. Why not? He is not running for anything again.

    Or am I wrong for some reason.

    (Of course, Harriet may blow us away in the Senate hearings, after all. I look forward to all that. I would love for this to be over with, one way or the other.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments »

    They Call THIS the “Nuclear Option”?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 22nd October 2005 (All posts by )

    The Laotian immigrants that I work with were streaming hip-hop songs from their native country today. Every so often a few recognizable syllables would sometimes rush past my ear in the torrent of Lao. It was a slang word popular with American rappers that begins with the letter “N”.

    The significance of this story is that people will find unexpected uses for technology if there is some sort of reward. The Internet was originally intended for the fast transfer of data between scientists and engineers, yesterday it was used by my coworkers to stream crappy popular music from a dirt poor Communist state. If they decide to buy the CD, then both a Laotian rap group and the country’s economy will benefit from the influx of hard American dollars.

    There is an anecdote about the beginnings of photography in the 1830′s. The story goes that the assistant of Louis Daguerre was caught by the police on a Paris street when he offered to sell naughty pictures to men passing by. The picture, so it is said, was of a woman making love to a horse.
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    Posted in Economics & Finance | 5 Comments »

    Castro, Chavez and increasing repression in Cuba

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 22nd October 2005 (All posts by )

    As reported on this blog this February, the EU members had agreed among themselves not to invite opponents of the Castro regime to diplomatic receptions at their embassies. The aim was to ‘normalize’ relations with Cuba after the arrest of 75 dissidents had led to vehement disagreement between Cuba and the European Union. Back then the EU was sharply criticized for this pretty lame behavior.

    I read an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, unfortunately only available online to subscribers, which I’m not, that the German embassy tried a rather half-hearted approach to show some spine after all: On occasion of the 15th anniversary of German reunification on October 3rd, they had organized two receptions, an official one for Cuban officials up to Fidel Castro himself, and also the international diplomatic corps, and an unofficial one for private citizens, including several opponents of the regime. Quite predictably, not a single local bigwig showed up for the official reception.

    According to the article, Castro has by now altogether lost interest in having good relations with the European Union anyway. His close relationship with Hugo Chavez has rescued the country from the increasing isolation it suffered after the demise of the Soviet Union. Considering the high price of oil, Chavez can well afford to be generous with Castro, while gaining some additional credibility with the international left by having him as a kind of political and ‘spiritual’ mentor. This unholy duo also is up to no good, and is trying to export communism to the rest of Latin America, as if were the 1960s all over again. More about that in some other posts.
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    Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

    Harriet Miers and her grasp (or lack of same) on copyright law?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 22nd October 2005 (All posts by )

    I couldn’t care less about Harriet Miers, and if she becomes a Justice at the American Supreme Court per se, but there is one issue where I do care a lot, and that is copy right law. Does this, by all accounts very nice Lady have the intellectual firepower to come to a halfway sensible position, when SCOTUS is ever presented with nonsense like this: (it turns out that this link doesn’t always work*, so here’s the second paragraph at least):

    - Copyright term extension is a very fitting memorial for Sonny. This is not only because of his experience as a pioneer in the music and television industries. The most important reason for me was that he was a legislator who understood the delicate balance of the constitutional interests at stake. Last year he sponsored the term extension bill, H.R. 1621, in conjunction with Sen. Hatch. He was active on intellectual property issues because he truly understood the goals of Framers of the Constitution: that by maximizing the incentives for original creation, we help expand the public store-house of art, films music, books and now also, software. It is said that `it all starts with a song,’ and these works have defined our culture to audiences world-wide.

    - Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. I invite all of you to work with me to strengthen our copyright laws in all of the ways available to us. As you know, there is also Jack Valenti’s proposal for term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress.

    (Emphasis mine).

    This from Representative Mary Bono, from a speech before the House of Representatives on October 07, 1998.

    That’s right, this is not, repeat not, a joke. Sonny Bono, the male half of Sonny & Cher and later Representative Sonny Bono, had pushed through the extension of copyright protection to 95 years after the death of the originator/copyright holder. Like his widow states in the quote, he really had wanted copyright to last for ever. While this might seem ludicrous, it is no more ludicrous than the notion that it might be illegal to use the CDs you bought and own the way you want to, and that the concept of ‘fair use’ might be soon basically dead and gone. The recording and movie industries will soon have seen to that — in the European Union it is already illegal to convert the songs on a music CD to MP3-files if said CD is in any way copy-protected (I’m not quite so sure about the DMCA, though).

    While paying royalties to Julius Caesar’s heirs for reprinting ‘De Bello Gallico’ probably won’t be necessary, for the new law certainly won’t be applied retroactively (I hope), I have no doubt that this ‘forever-minus-a-day’ copyright will get through Congress sooner or later. Too many Representatives and Senators are beholden to the media industry for that not to happen. If that law survives the scrutiny of SCOTUS, the United States will insist that the rest of the world should follow suit, and the round-heels running the EU will only be too happy to comply, being in the pockets of the same industry themselves.

    So, to get back to my original question, does that nice Ms. Miers know how to respond properly to this kind of sophistry, or doesn’t she?

    * It’s a pretty ‘longstanding’ link, so I’m surprised that it would time out now.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »