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  • Archive for December, 2005

    A Couple of Links

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

    -Brad Workman’s online journal devoted to Haiti seems interesting. He was kind enough to take out a BlogAd here, but his ad is so modest that I suspect many readers will overlook it. Check out his site if you are interested in Haitian affairs.

    -Completely unrelated to the above link, Moira Breen posts a superb example of amateur tornado porn from her neighborhood. I am jealous.

    Posted in Blogging | Comments Off

    Figurative Language & the State

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

    One of my favorite Texanisms is: “He looks like he was rode hard and put up wet.” Sure, it’s repeated often but still makes me smile years after I first heard it. Volokh links to Overlawyered, which describes a $450,000 harassment case settled because a man alluded to that old saying in the presence of two women, who apparently had the minds of pubescent students.

    Of course, we need fewer lawyers, more of a sense of humor & a lot more common sense from judges. But we also need a livelier language & wider range of allusions. We shouldn’t wonder that kids coming out of the school system in which these two women work lack style. It’s been killed in them. And, frankly, I’m more worried that such decisions bring us closer to 1984 than the NSA/cookies “scandal.”

    Posted in Style | 6 Comments »

    Auld Lang Syne

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 28th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Every year at this time, the newspapers give a recap of the results of the dead pool for the preceding year. I do not feel qualified to deal in such profundities as life and death without the liberal use of scare quotes. Accordingly, here are some of my favorite weblogs that have “died.” Or are “resting.” Or “feeling a little poorly.” If any of the authors of these sites want to point out that they are “not dead yet,” or are “feeling a bit better,” please speak up before the dirt hits your face. Otherwise, I will assume that you have been “nailed to the perch” and have “joined the choir invisible.”

    The Dissident Frogman, a rare voice of sanity from the laughing academy that France has become, is missing from our lives. The loss is irreparable. He designs websites and is probably lurking in Samizdata even as we speak. Or write. Or waste time at work. He shows up in the comments of this and other weblogs from time to time. Nevertheless, it would be wonderful to hear his inimiable “ribbit” again.

    The Raw Prawn was a business blog with nice graphics and good commentary. It seems to have lapsed when the author moved to another location, but rumor has it that Australia has recently acquired internet access. Perhaps he will avail himself of it.

    I wasted nearly a year on Long Island (and believe me, any year on Long Island is wasted) without meeting Michele of A Small Victory. Now I’m back in Massachusetts, and she is only maintaining a photoblog. She mentioned that part of the reason was some ambivalence about the Iraq war. Sorry, but if you don’t feel at least ambivalent about something that makes people dead, you really should see about acquiring a soul.

    Right Wing Duck appears to have succumbed to right-wing avian flu. Don’t bother clicking the link – it just leads to one of those sleazy sites that wants to sell you the domain name.

    The Dutch Report had a good deal of information about the Netherlands. This was very useful this past year when that country was reacting to the grisly assassination of Theo van Gogh. Some of the writing indicated that the author was not entirely comfortable with English. I hope he will at least continue posting in Dutch, so that the indispensible Zacht Ei (soft-boiled egg, or “softy”) could let us know when something comes up.

    Vanished without a trace
    Nelson Asher’s Europundits from Brazil;
    Amish Tech Support

    On “life” support
    Bill Whittle has been tapering off. When he does write something, read it. It may not happen very often, though, and seems to be trailing off.
    I thought Atlantic Blog was done for, but it seems to have come back. Give William Sjostrom a link, an e-mail, whatever, and help coax him back to life. Sorry, “life.”
    Ian Murray didn’t vanish – he graduated.

    What did we miss? Please post your keenly-felt losses in the comments.

    Update: Kim du Toit was missing for much of the year, but has reappeared with a new site. This was after the mysterious disappearance that elicited this from Mrs. du Toit:

    If we could give an explanation we would. Since we can’t, we can’t. It’s sort of the point that we can’t (or we would have). For those who have expressed genuine concern: we’re fine. We’re needing to move to a new chapter in our lives. Our blogs are closed permanently. We’re working to “move” the forum to another guardian/location. We apologize for the suddenness of it and for scaring some folks, but it really could not be helped.

    Speculations about black helicopter scenarios and such should be stopped. It is nothing like that.

    If there was a way of saying more or giving some sort of explanation, we would, but we can’t.

    Thanks to all who played.

    Rumors of alien abductions were unfounded.

    Posted in Blogging | 14 Comments »

    The Barrel-Chested House

    Posted by Ginny on 28th December 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve been trained to connect dots with words, though I wander quite a bit. But objects – that’s another thing. My sister-in-law & niece & friend joyfully, tactfully arrange colors & textures & shapes. This year, I’ve been awed by a decorator who walks through our rooms which have all the coherence of loose baggy novels, rooms confused & pointless. Then, she edits, she connects the dots, finds a pattern. I appreciate what “works” – I think we all do. But I’m not much good at achieving a “look.” (I find myself putting quotes around words that remain mysteries.) It takes a sense of proportion & mine is always unsteady: afraid I’ll either let the old – tradition – swallow us whole or that we will throw away the house’s essence, what it is, in throwing out what it was.

    And so, we come to my personal problem. It is not unlike our local school’s attempt to keep the rituals of “old army” as the Corps becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of the students and women outnumber men. How true to this house should we be – how much change can we impose without destroying it, without emasculating it?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Personal Narrative | Comments Off

    Sometimes You Need Some Straight Talk

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 27th December 2005 (All posts by )

    The Canadian government has had a great deal of trouble in replacing their obsolete submarine fleet. It came to a head last year when the Canadians purchased four British Upholder class submarines. One of the subs, renamed the HMCS Chicoutimi, suffered from a series of accidents while it was being sailed to Canada from England. One crewman lost his life, and the boat was abandoned and had to be towed back to Britain by American and English vessels.

    This has been a very embarrassing episode for the Canadian government and military. The civilian press has questioned the need for a silent service at all, something that appears nothing less than surreal to those of us who pay attention to military affairs. Last time I looked, Canada has more coastline to patrol than any other country in the world. Removing a vital asset such as a submarine fleet from your navy is a sure way to open gaping holes in the national defense.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Military Affairs | 7 Comments »

    What’s privacy for?

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

    Since society isn’t intelligently designed any more than the human individual is, it’s not really the case that privacy, or the familiar injunction against “unreasonable” search and seizure, is “for” any one specific purpose.

    Of course humans since the earliest days kept secrets, both to influence opinion and to show that they could (a taboo that is routinely violated can persist because it helps people demonstrate their ability to keep secrets and thus convince others to trust them with their secrets).

    Later, people who had won some measure of influence over their governments became extremely interested in using that influence to limit “unreasonable searches and seizures”. This was to preserve their own secrets in noncriminal matters, and also because searches and seizures were extremely intrusive and inconvenient affairs – the authorities barged in, rifled through your posessions and papers, and took away anything that looked interesting, all while waving swords or guns at you. People began to object particularly when these things were done without any reason to expect the investigation to actually uncover criminal activity – that’s a pretty rotten thing to do to someone that’s almost certainly innocent of any wrongdoing. And, wherever people were able to influence their governments, they were quick to place limits on the use of searches and seizures, to require some sort of probable cause, and so on.

    This had the pleasant side effect of making it difficult to enforce laws on matters that didn’t come to the attention of the authorities – matters where no one turned up missing or dead and no one complained to the authorities. Personal matters, that is, and private activities between “consenting adults”.

    This last benefit seems to have become predominant – even though technology allows the authorities to collect many sorts of information without the target even knowing about it (thus rendering moot earlier objections to the intrusiveness and inconvenience of arbitrary searches), the fact that limits on the gathering of information still selectively weakens the government’s power to enforce laws on personal matters means that those limits are still a useful and important feature of a free society, or at least one that aspires to stay that way.

    Unfortunately, some private activities now have the potential to severely weaken public order by getting a lot of people killed at once. Thus, those selective limits now aren’t so selective; instead of only suppressing the enforcement of laws that have at most a tenuous relationship to the maintenance of public order, our traditional limits on intelligence gathering suppresses the enforcement of certain laws that are absolutely indispensible to the protection of life and property.

    (Well, not absolutely indispensible. There are alternatives, but those involve drastic changes such as the universal adoption of personal aircraft, the obsolescence of cities, and a more uniform population density throughout the civilized world. Personal nuclear reactors to lessen the dependence of large groups of people on fragile centralized infrastructure of several sorts would also be helpful. But our culture places a high priority on preventing natural selection in the human species, so there’s a lot of resistance to those alternatives).

    Which means the old workarounds aren’t going to work so well anymore. New workarounds are needed. One way out of this dilemma is to allow the government to collect any information it wants, but only for stopping terrorists in their tracks; anything they happen to find out about a non-terrorist’s activities is quietly forgotten and does not become available to prosecutors, and the very existence of this setup is kept as quiet as possible. That seems to be the current workaround, but it’s vulnerable to “mission creep” – stuff like drug trafficking, money laundering, and child porn have a way of getting tacked on to the list of things that the unlimited intelligence gatherers are tasked with thwarting (just start calling them “global threats”, and voila – they’re fair game), and there’s no telling what’ll end up on that list down the road, especially after people have gotten used to the whole setup.

    Another way around the problem might be to universally allow unlimited non-intrustive intelligence gathering, and devote lots of resources to make sure that every infraction of the law is prosecuted to the fullest extent. Do it up front and all at once with as much fanfare as possible and let the people decide if those laws that are suddenly all too enforceable are really worth keeping. Couple this change with a large scale sunsetting of existing law, so elected officials will have to campaign and vote for a law rather than simply neglect to vote for or sponsor a bill for repealing it. Throw in a regular sunset of new law, so that they’ll have to vote for it again after seeing the practical effects of those laws when they’re actually enforced.

    We’d end up with either a stable, well-defended, free society or a harsh tyranny. But if the people are disposed to support tyranny in that setup, those same people will support it by degrees in the course we are currently on, and nothing short of a takeover by a liberal (in the non-leftist sense of the word) long-lived king will ultimately stop them. (Good luck finding one!)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Merry Christmas to All

    Posted by Lexington Green on 24th December 2005 (All posts by )

    “What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

    “To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, Christmas Day.”

    “It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!”

    “Hallo!” returned the boy.

    “Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

    “I should hope I did,” replied the lad.

    “An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?—Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”

    “What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.

    “What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”

    “It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.

    “Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”

    “Walk-er!” exclaimed the boy.

    “No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!”

    The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.

    “I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He sha’n’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim.”

    Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (Of course!)

    God bless all ChicagoBoyz, ChicagoGrrrlz, commenters, readers, families, friends and enemies. Wishing you all peace, happiness, health, love, friendship, reconciliation, forgiveness, gratitude, and lots of toys — but the toys only if you have been good! — for Christmas and in 2006.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Big Brother IS Watching You

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd December 2005 (All posts by )

    A lot people are concerned that the NSA might be monitoring the international communications of US citizens. Some might even wonder if they personally have been affected by NSA snooping.

    If you are one of these people, just relax. I can safely state that the NSA has, without a doubt, listened to or read virtually all the communications you sent overseas. They have to. Given the nature of modern telecommunications, it’s the only way they can fulfill their mission.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments »

    How Did We Miss this Detail?

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 22nd December 2005 (All posts by )

    Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Thomas Jefferson

    A closer look reveals…

    Posted in Iraq | 8 Comments »

    Business as Usual

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st December 2005 (All posts by )

    France has had some troubles lately, mainly about 10,000 torched cars. The powers that be are trying to assimilate the disenfranchised and arson prone youth by getting them involved in the democratic process. This is something I heartily approve of in principle, but I think they’re going about it the wrong way.

    According to this news story, a Get-Out-the-Vote rally in the same ghetto where the rioting started didn’t turn out too well. The crowd was made up of Muslims of African ancestry, but one canny heckler pointed out that not a single elected official in all of France’s National Assembly shares their heritage.

    Yep, they’ve got a ways to go.

    Posted in France | 7 Comments »

    Probing Questions

    Posted by Shannon Love on 20th December 2005 (All posts by )

    At the risk of being crude I have to ask the following constitutional question: Without a warrant, does the government have the right to anally probe you?

    Apparently, it does.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    Science in the Classroom

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th December 2005 (All posts by )

    I used to raise dogs professionally. (Golden retrievers if anyone is interested.) Get involved in the business, or any biological industry, and you’ll see that selective breeding works.

    My thing was breeding dogs with short haired coats. Everyone always complains about the hair littering the couch when their golden starts to shed, so I decided to do something about it. I simply chose dogs with short hair for breeding while keeping those with longer hair penned up. I didn’t do it long enough to see a significant change, but just a glance at all the different breeds out there will show that it would have worked eventually.

    That is pretty much at the heart of evolution. Some sort of environmental cause either reduces the chance for organisms with a certain inherited trait from breeding, or it increases the chances for individuals from the same species with a different trait. Undesired traits are bred out of the species while those that increase the chance of hooking up become commonplace. This is, in fact, the basis for just about all of our modern biological science.

    Today a judge in PA banned the teaching of Intelligent Design in public school biology classes, saying that it was thinly disguised religion.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science | 40 Comments »

    Avoid Intellectual Dehydration

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Satisfy your thirst for knowledge by reading Chicagoboyz!

    Posted in Humor | 2 Comments »

    The President’s Perspective

    Posted by Ginny on 18th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Bush’s speech. When we listen to the contrast between hawks & doves (roughly republicans and democrats, especially as seen by matched pundits post-speech), we see them arguing past one another. As irritating as the democrats’ political spin may be to a hawk, the narrow & superficial approach is understandable if we assume, as many of them do, that this is only a “war.” Indeed, since it isn’t real, it is best analyzed as political ploy. Dots going back to, what, 1983 in Beirut and moving on to the German hostages today do not cohere to them. Nor do they read the fatwas, listen to the speeches in Iran or watch the celebrations in Gaza – these are not parts of one implacable foe. Hawks see a pattern; doves do not. That the doves’ arguments fall into the cheapest of partisan arguments arises from the fact that they do not see this as, well, important. So, they fall back on old cliches – speaking of offering peace rather than war without feeling a need to define who that peace would be with and how it would be accomplished. Bush recognized that difference, but made his own stance clear:

    September 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq, we were not in Afghanistan, but the terrorists attacked us anyway – and killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children in our own country. My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.

    He further distinguishes between these two points of view.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iraq | 16 Comments »

    The President’s Speech

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th December 2005 (All posts by )

    I think the speech was very good but that’s a detail. The main thing is, Bush should give these talks every few weeks (and should have been doing so for the past three years, but never mind).

    He has given several speeches on Iraq lately, so perhaps he now realizes what he has to do. Nonetheless he appears to be going against his own nature in speaking frequently and repeating himself and in responding to hostile and often inane criticism. In this regard he should not see himself as an executive, making and briskly executing plans, someone who expects to be listened to the first time and who doesn’t suffer fools. He is now, rather, a marketing man who must respond quickly and cheerfully to critics, even those for whom he has disdain, and must repeat his pitch until it sinks in throughout a diverse population. I hope that he will continue in marketing mode, and that he will not revert to executive type once his popularity recovers from the effects of the recent anti-war offensive in the press.

    Our enemies, in tacit alliance with Bush’s political opponents, fight fiercely in the media because that is the field of combat where they are most effective. Bush & Co. have been much too slow to appreciate this fact and to fight back. Indeed it isn’t obvious that they fully understand it even now. The crazy thing about it is that they have by far the strongest arguments on their side if only they will make them, as Bush did tonight and as I fervently hope he will continue to do. There really is no choice if we are to win the war.

    UPDATE: In the comments, Rizalist makes some subtle points about the content of Bush’s speech. See also this post on his blog.

    RELATED: Ginny posts her take on the President’s speech.

    Posted in Iraq | 6 Comments »

    Breaking News

    Posted by Ginny on 18th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Ariel Sharon has been taken to the hospital suffering from what first news reports call a stroke.
    (I’ll be gone; someone else may want to replace this with more information as it happens – and commentary.)

    Posted in Israel | 2 Comments »

    Nantucket Nuance

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 17th December 2005 (All posts by )

    The commotion over the proposal by Cape Wind Associates LLC to build an electricity-generating wind farm in Nantucket Sound has been a treat to watch. On one side is a private company willing to put its own money at risk to build an environmentally-friendly installation that could supply 3/4 of the electricity needs of Cape Code and the nearby islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The proposal is supported by, among others, Greenpeace, the Conservation Law Foundation, and other environmental groups. It is opposed by, among others, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and other environmental groups. Green-on-green casualties and hard feelings have resulted.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Environment | 4 Comments »

    Public angst

    Posted by Helen on 17th December 2005 (All posts by )

    One feels rather sorry for European public intellectuals (a concept developed by the egregious Jürgen Habermas). It is so difficult to create a European idea, particularly if you do not want to discuss the one aspect of European history that may be said to have united that unruly Continent, at least ideologically: Christianity.

    European history has few unifying factors and European countries have few interests in common, that they do not share with other countries as well. The European “idea”, such as it is, can be described vaguely as the idea of the West that has been spluttering since the Battle of Marathon. But the European Union wants to have a European idea that is all its own and has nothing to do with the West, defined by David Gress as “From Plato to Nato”.

    Alas, in the rapidly approaching post-NATO world, the European public intellectuals as well as the European politicians are trying to define their idea in opposition to the rest of the West, in particular, in opposition to the United States. How that can possibly make Europe strong is anybody’s guess.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    Morgan Freeman on Color

    Posted by demimasque on 16th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Tiger Woods isn’t the only celebrity to be tired of people trying to pigeonhole him in one race or another, or to even make a big stink about the color of his skin. Morgan Freeman recently spoke out, somewhat, on the manic obsession that our society makes of race and color:

    “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”

    Black History Month has roots in historian Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

    Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

    Freeman notes there is no “white history month,” and says the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.”

    The actor says he believes the labels “black” and “white” are an obstacle to beating racism.

    “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” Freeman says.

    I guess now that blacks have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures, albeit in a rather contrived showing a couple years ago (which is not to say that Denzel Washington didn’t deserve the award), that’s just one less milestone to conquer. (By the way, doesn’t anybody think it’s rather nice, and rather interesting, that a black man got to go to space before one got an Oscar? I’ve been informed that Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1963, twenty years before Guion “Guy” Bluford became the first African-American in space. The first black man in space was Cuban Colonel Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez aboard a Soviet mission in 1980.)

    Without saying that racism is solved (which, so long as people are human, will never be definitively “solved”), I do believe that this is another step toward Dr. King’s dream that someday, people will be judged “not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”

    Still, while we’re using labels, can we please stop insisting calling blacks “African-Americans”, and insisting that folks like Charlize Theron cannot be called “African-American” simply because she’s white.

    By the way, Mr. Freeman, for your words, and for your wonderful work in motion pictures, you are the man!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Society | 11 Comments »

    The McCain Amendment

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 16th December 2005 (All posts by )

    With all the coverage about the McCain Amendment, has anyone bothered to read the text? The news media only describe it as outlawing torture. The actual bill outlaws “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” which is a good deal broader. In fact, here is how the bill defines it:

    (d) CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT DEFINED.–In this section, the term ”cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.

    Leaving aside the UN convention for the moment, the Eighth Amendment is enough to seriously hamper the treatment of terrorist prisoners. Domestic interpretations of the Eighth Amendment have led to the release of convicted prisoners and those held for bail because of overcrowded conditions. For example, the old Charles Street Jail in Boston was condemned and converted to private housing because of successful legal action citing the Eighth Amendment. Inadequate toilet facilities, insufficient access to mental and physical health treatment, and solitary confinement have been found to be violations of Eighth Amendment rights. Boston Review has a very good overview of Eighth Amendment issues by Joan Dayan. The McCain Amendment bestows the same rights on terror suspects held anywhere by the US. Also, by granting these rights with reference to the US Constitution, it will be impossible to exclude lawsuits by detainees from the US court system. Brace yourselves for a Ramsey Clark extravaganza.

    Posted in Terrorism | 22 Comments »

    “Democracy, Immigration, Multiculturalism — Pick Any Two”

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Jim Bennett posts some characteristically insightful thoughts on assimilation. I hope that his tag line catches on.

    UPDATE: Commenter Brock credits the title phrase to Wretchard of The Belmont Club.

    UPDATE2: Jim Bennett says he came up with the phrase on his own and has been using it since around 2001, which is before The Belmont Club existed as a blog. My search of Belmont Club’s last two sites turned up no instances of the phrase, but it’s possible that I didn’t search competently. It’s also possible that Wretchard came up with the phrase independently or that he read it first in one of Jim’s pieces. Either way, it’s a great line.

    Posted in Society | 5 Comments »

    Inspectors at the Levee

    Posted by Ginny on 16th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Government bids have not always been handled with transparency. My father found, in his short-lived & bitter experience as county engineer in the reddest, most heartland of states, that taxpayers were likely to prefer bids a bit more open than did commissioners. Pajamasmedia links to an AP story on hearings about the New Orleans levee failure; apparently, the lines of authority weren’t clear or at least the local commissioners didn’t take seriously their roles as “inspectors.” This confusion of responsibilities seemed to underlie the discussion on Lehrer tonight, as Margaret Warner kept after Donald Powell. Who was going to supervise the Corps of Engineers she asked; of course, they’d built the failed levees. As with everything about New Orleans, the hearings indicate sufficient blame to go around. (And we all understand what happens when everyone is kind of responsible and no one is held responsible.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 3 Comments »

    Mark Steyn on Iran

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th December 2005 (All posts by )

    My thoughts exactly.

    Posted in Middle East | 2 Comments »

    Iraqi Elections

    Posted by demimasque on 15th December 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve got a midterm in three hours, but the Iraqi elections is something that can’t be missed. Besides, I hadn’t really covered the October constitutional referendum, so this is my way of making up for it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Betting Exchanges: Good or Bad?

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Opposing views.

    As usual, the guy whose industry is getting hurt by competition says competition is bad.

    (via Chris Masse)

    Posted in Markets and Trading | 2 Comments »