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  • Archive for January, 2005

    Supporting the Children of Deployed Military Personnel

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd January 2005 (All posts by )

    Here’s a worthwhile idea.

    Posted in Society | Comments Off on Supporting the Children of Deployed Military Personnel

    Crybabies

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 23rd January 2005 (All posts by )

    The headline reads “TWO TENURED PROFESSORS RESIGN FROM UCLA”.

    Hey, people quit their jobs all the time. Why should we care?

    The professors in question were a couple of performance artists who were working in the art department. They’re all in a tizzy ’cause a student wasn’t suspended for a performance.

    Anyway, some graduate student had a peice where he aimed a real-looking gun at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire, the kid walked out the door, and the sound of a gunshot rang out from outside the room.

    Yeah, yeah, I know. People get to apply for grant money for this? I’m in the wrong business.

    But any negative reaction is unwarranted. Near as I can tell, no one was threatened with the gun. In fact, no one was harmed at all. The cops aren’t even sure if the gun used was real. Sounds like a whole lot of nothing to me.

    That’s what the school administration figured, since they refused to suspend the kid for his (heh) art. That’s why the two profs, Chris Burden and Nancy Rubins, decided to call it quits and turned in their walking papers.

    What’s really fascinating to me is that Chris Burden is bitchin’ about this. He first gained fame in 1971 as a young performance artist who had a buddy shoot his arm with a .22 rifle. (Here’s a blurry picture of the moment of impact.)

    Oh, but that was different! Burden claims that the graduate student who faked suicide committed an act of “domestic terrorism”. Having his own arm shot way back when wasn’t the same since no one in the audience felt they were in any danger, while the kid at UCLA caused “genuine fear”.

    Wah wah wah. Cry me a river, Chris. He’s probably just jealous that he didn’t think of the idea first.

    Posted in Education | 5 Comments »

    US Strikes Against Syria?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 21st January 2005 (All posts by )

    I’m never sure what to make of things I read at Debka. Some of the time, it appears to be little more than rumor mongering. At other times, it’s been accurate. That said, this is interesting:

    Richard Armitage performed his last major mission before stepping down… This mission took Armitage to Damascus with nine American demands:

    1. Start repealing Syria’s 40-years old emergency laws.
    2. Free all political prisoners from jail.
    3. Abolish media censorship.
    4. Initiate democratic reform.
    5. Speed up economic development
    6. Cut down relations with Iran.
    7. Announce publicly that the disputed Shebaa Farms at the base of Mt. Hermon are former Syrian territory.
    8. Hand over to US or Iraqi authorities 55 top officials and military officers of the former Saddam regime, who are confirmed by intelligence to be established in Syria and running the guerrilla war in Iraq out of their homes and offices.

    Then Bush lays the big stick on the table:

    9. Syria had better make sure that none of the Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles which it recently purchased in large quantities from East Europe turn up in Iraq. US intelligence has recorded their serial numbers to identify their source.

    Just in case any are found in Iraq, General Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq has already received orders from the commander-in-chief in the White House to pursue military action inside Syria according to his best military judgment.

    This is fascinating and probably necessary. Bashir Assad learned much from his father Hafez. Chief among the lessons learned at daddy’s knee was the value of a skillfully executed proxy war. The Syrians have been waging a proxy war against Israel, via hamas, for over 20 years. Of course, they’ve also occupied Lebanon for 30 years, but since they’re not Americans or Jews, the UN and EU don’t really seem to mind. Move along, nothing to see here.

    Proxy wars have two chief advantages for the sponsor:

    1. Plausible deniability.
    A) You’re being attacked by guerrillas and terrorists? Why that’s terrible!
    B) Where could they be getting those rockets and mines? We have no idea.
    C) Where are they getting their funding? Swiss bank accounts? Got us.

    2. It’s highly effective. For minimal cost, your opponent can be attacked relentlessly. Each attack may be, in itself, militarily insignificant. But it erodes morale and political support. Death by a thousand cuts.

    Clearly this is the strategy, the proxy war, that the Syrian Ba’athists have pursued against the US in Iraq. Having pursued it virtually without cost against the Israelis for decades, it was natural the method would present itself as first choice to confront, hamstring and confound those damned Yankees next door. We’ll make their life a living hell, and if accused, we’ll dust off our halos and feign outrage that our unassailable moral character could be questioned. Perfect!

    Except for one little flaw. One tiny little oversight in Bashir & Co.’s perfect plan. The US is not Israel. Whatever level of escalation the Syrians can threaten in Iraq pales – no, dwindles to nothing – in comparison to the punishment the US can inflict on Damascus and its surrounds in a single night of conventional high intensity bombing. A couple of weeks of it might just give them a whole new outlook on things.

    Posted in Iraq | 13 Comments »

    Your Friday Animal Blogging

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st January 2005 (All posts by )

    Birdbrains: Outraged readers prepare to give a cornered blogger a piece of their minds.

    Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

    Difference of Opinion

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

    The post I wrote yesterday was entitled “Hope for the Future”. In the post, I stated my opinion that the European Union might not survive.

    Fellow Chicago Boy Ralf Goergens left a comment….

    “…why did you call the post ‘hope for the future’ when you are predicting the end of the EU? Surely you know that this would be a very bad thing, including the United States?”

    If the only purpose for the EU was to increase trade between the member nations and allow them to compete more effectively in the global markets, then I’d have no problem. I also wouldn’t mind if they pooled defense assets and formed something that would be effective. Both developments would actually help the US, since healthy competition is good for business and having an effective military means that the US wouldn’t have to keep paying good money to protect those freeloaders any more.

    At least I wouldn’t have a problem if they went about it in the right way, and if they confined themselves to their stated goals.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Europe | 31 Comments »

    Bush’s Speech as Seen on Lehrer

    Posted by Ginny on 20th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Coming home in time to catch re-runs of Bush’s speech and the Lehrer Newshour, I am left with two questions: Was this as important and goal-setting a speech as it seems to me? Is Brzezinski as smugly (and why smug?) irritating as he seems to me?

    Brzezinski (and his old boss as well) are disillusioned idealists: if the world is not perfect (i.e., if China doesn’t become a democracy in the next four years), then idealism like Bush’s is pointless and hollow. Perhaps I am overstating the depths of their cynicism (cynicism I doubt they see as nihilistic), but Brzezinski’s repeated use of the inflammatory “crusade,” like Carter’s refusal to closely vet the election in Venezuela and his embrace of that true nihilist Arafat, distils the essence of an administration that thought itself pure in the impure world of American politics. Impure it may be, but they seem to have lost their grounding, their sense of proportion. They’ve certainly lost their ideals. (More complaints below.)

    Bush’s speech has an oratorical power. Its first allusion reinforces Scrappleface’s point: “we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country.” He narrates the history of the last fifty years, whose lesson, he concludes, is “There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.” He further argues that our liberty is dependent upon “the expansion of freedom.” The importance of this as melding the “realists” (Bush Sr., Scowcroft, Baker) and “idealists” (Reagan, Bush Jr.) is analyzed by Fred Barnes.

    Update: Ann Althouse does a nice tivo’d analysis. (I want one of those!) She focuses upon Bush’s discussion of the relation of God to man, one that, as she observes, is profound and very much in the tradition we see in speeches such as those of Lincoln:

    We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul.

    (Between this post as it continues and the earlier one I think I’ve blocked most of the speech – just read the whole thing at the link above.)

    Rattlergator summarizes Fox’s favorites and Patrick Ruffini blogger’s favorites.

    No clear consensus (it’s late – perhaps I’m just not recognizing it) on one great phrase or sentence. Perhaps this speech will not “pin down” Bush’s second term – or history will tell us which most summarized the fluid movement that is now or foretold the mystery that is the future.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »

    Hope for the Future

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

    Shannon Love has a pretty good post up right below this one, talking about the CIA report which predicts that the European Union will fragment in 15 years unless they do something about their economic woes.

    And what caused these problems? A variety of reasons, but the one that could be acted on immediately (and the one discussed in the report) is a welfare system that’s out of control.

    Shannon thinks that the CIA is so incompetent that only the opposite can happen. I’m not so sure.

    Case in point is this news report, which covers massive strikes and protests in France.

    Why are the French so upset? They’re complaining about rather minor cuts that the government has made in their social welfare system They want their undeserved goodies restored, and restored right quick. If they don’t get their way, then the voters might just oppose the EU Constitution which will be put up for a vote in a few months.

    It looks to me like the EU is going to go hang, and it’s their own Socialist system that will put the noose on.

    But, hey, I’m just a cowboy American. Maybe there’s some sort of nuance that I’m not picking up on.

    Posted in France | 10 Comments »

    E.U. Uber Alles

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

    Old joke:

    Q: How do we know for absolute certain that the C.I.A. had nothing to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

    A: He’s dead isn’t he?

    The CIA hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory when it comes to predicting the course of events. It screwed up the Cuban missile crises, failed to predict the Iranian seizure of the US embassy in Teheran, failed to predict the collaspe of the Soviet Union, completely missed the existence of the Soviets’ massive biological weapons program, failed to predict Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, etc.

    Of course, intelligence is one of those areas where people and institutions only get noticed when something goes wrong. Successful predictions usually lead to actions that head off a possible negative event long before it shows up on the radar of the general public.

    Still, I can’t help but worry that a CIA report (via Instapundit) predicting the breakup of the EU within 15 years actually presages the EU’s emergence as an economic and military hyperpower.

    Given CIA’s track record, it could happen.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    The Purple Oath

    Posted by Ginny on 19th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Scrappleface is usually good, but this time it seems wise as well.
    Update: Bush’s speech.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Humor | Comments Off on The Purple Oath

    Slow News Day

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 19th January 2005 (All posts by )

    So JibJab has a new flash movie up, poking fun at President Bush’ recent win and the Democrat’s disappointment with same.

    Fair enough, but CNN’s Headline News is showing the movie in it’s entirety. They show it right before cutting to commercial, and then they lede with a report about violence in Iraq.

    But that’s not really significant because they have a story every 15 minutes about Iraq, all of them negative. (I’m still waiting for them to air a positive report about the situation in Iraq. They might have in the past, but if so then it was so fleeting that I’ve never seen one.) I suppose the big question is why they wasted time with the JibJab movie when they could have devoted the time to yet more items that painted our efforts in a negative light.

    No liberal bias to see here. Move along.

    Posted in Media | 2 Comments »

    Not Again!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 19th January 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve talked here before about news items that talk about incredibly obvious subjects. Here’s another example. The headline reads ….

    STUDY: ELDERLY GAMBLERS MAY BET TOO HIGH

    The author points out that retirees on fixed incomes don’t have a, you know, income, in order to take care of debts. If they start to gamble away their nest egg they could be in real trouble.

    I’m glad they cleared that up for me. Had no idea.

    I think this is proof that journalists might not be stupid, they just operate under the assumption that we are. That’s why they so often come off sounding stupid themselves as they try and cater to the imagined intelligence of their customers.

    Posted in Media | 1 Comment »

    A Must Read

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 18th January 2005 (All posts by )

    The state of Maryland has spent a great deal of money collecting a database of fired cartridges. The idea was that a gun used in a crime could be traced by examining the unique markings left after a gun is fired.

    This sounds like a great idea to people who aren’t familiar with the technical side of firearms, and they’ve been very vocal about how the database is worthwhile because it will solve crimes.

    Those of us who actually work with firearms on a regular basis have always considered the concept to be somewhat less respectable than those espoused by the Flat Earth Society.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law Enforcement | 10 Comments »

    Affording a Glimpse

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 18th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Theodore Dalrymple has another excellent column up at The Spectator. (Free registration required.) Unlike most of his work, this one is rather short.

    Posted in Law Enforcement | 3 Comments »

    Businesses That Waste Customers’ Time

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

    This blog earned a tiny amount of money in 2004 by accepting Blogads. I like Blogads. I wish we had the traffic to earn more from them.

    I asked Blogads to send me a check, but they are currently setup to use only Paypal for such small amounts (~$60) as were in our account. Why not use Paypal then? I prefer not to. The Blogads representative asked me why, and here is most of the response that I emailed to him:

    . . . my objection to paypal is based mainly on having read over the years many complaints about its privacy practices and customer service. Obviously paypal is extremely convenient, and I know that lots of people use it without problems. However, I prefer not to deal with businesses that do not communicate well with customers, or for which it appears that any problems that come up are not likely to be handled in a way that is easy for customers. For the amount of money in the small transactions for which paypal is most convenient, it doesn’t seem worth my time to use their system and take the risk that any screwup could cost me a lot in time and aggravation.

    It’s similar with Google’s ads, which I signed up for [i.e., enrolled in but didn’t agree to the TOS] but haven’t used (because I won’t sign anything that I don’t understand, and for my taste it’s too much work, relative to the amount of money involved, for me to analyze Google’s over-lawyered TOS).

    Also, I don’t like dealing with businesses that have agendas that conflict with my interests as a customer. Paypal may have such an agenda WRT data mining, Google probably does too, and so do companies such as Doubleclick. Blogads does not (nor does Intrade, with which I have an affiliate relationship). Nor do I want to do business on the Internet with anybody who wants to lock me in with nondisclosures, noncompetes and so forth. The TOS that I prefer are simple, clear and minimally restrictive: You use our service; if you don’t like it you stop using our service; if we don’t like you we cancel your service. Complexity is OK until it starts costing the customer a lot of time, and then it becomes another cost for him to minimize.

    I’m probably an extreme case, but I suspect that a lot of people share my views in milder form.

    Blogads and Intrade have straightforward business models, are easy to use, and are easy to deal with if there’s a problem or question. (The fact that the Blogads rep was interested in a small customer’s feedback on payment methods is itself a good sign.) Google’s advertising program is tempting, but Google’s terms of service are too restrictive, and my time gets wasted whenever I try to get Google to answer a question. That’s a deal killer, given the small amounts of money that are likely to be involved. A lot of people handle this kind of tension with a prospective business partner by ignoring it and signing up anyway, because the stakes appear to be low, and what’s Google going to do anyway?

    But I’m reluctant to do business with people or companies that operate like Google does, because if they won’t attend to my concerns when the stakes are low, how are they going to treat me in the future if we have a misunderstanding about something that’s worth real money? I suspect that I’m not alone in thinking this way.

    The error which these companies seem to make is to assume that customers on average will not respond to a high level of attention to detail and service from counterparties or middlemen in small transactions. In reality, small transactions especially require good execution and service, because if the value of a deal is sufficiently small it can be easily exceeded by the nonmonetary costs of any hassles, and because customers will tend to interpret a high level of service in small transactions as an indicator of a company’s good faith that justifies greater use of its products or services. How many more people would use Paypal, and how much more business would Paypal do, if it had a reputation for being trouble free?

    Posted in Business | 2 Comments »

    Anti-French Backlash

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 18th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Andrew Boucher at Volatility from Paris has a short post, entitled Christmas Shopping Lesson, on the large drop in Americans’ spending in Paris stores. He wrote:

    Reuters had an interesting article on the Galeries Lafayette store in Paris today. Because of the weak dollar, boycott, or just lack of energy, the American consumer isn’t much of a force any more in Paris.

    Chinese tourists have climbed from 20th position 10 years ago to the number one spot in terms of visitor numbers to the Galeries today – overtaking the Japanese, British, Russians and in fifth place, the Americans.

    Big spenders are customers from the Middle East, Japan, Russia and the United States. But while Americans spend more than the Chinese, it’s the force of numbers that counts.

    “An American spends twice as much as a Chinese customer, but … the Chinese are at least 10 times more numerous…,” the general manager at the flagship Boulevard Haussmann store said.

    It’s followed by a similar post, entitled The New Hollywood Villain, in which he says:

    “I don’t go to as many new films as I would like, but in those that I have seen, I’ve noticed a tendency which has become a trend. I’m speaking of the Frenchman as villain. ”

    I’ve noticed it too. Last night I caught part of program on the History Channel on the French Revolution. The commercial they were running to promote the program, both before it aired and during the program itself, ends with this little jab:

    “Now, for 2 hours, it won’t kill you to love the French.”

    I had to laugh every time I heard that. Whoever wrote that certainly has their finger on the pulse of the American public. Say the words ‘France’ or ‘French’ to an American these days and the reaction you’ll get is one of outright disgust.

    One fairly accurate measure of the enmity Americans feel towards the French can seen in the degree to which the French have become the butt of jokes. Tell a French joke and not only will everyone laugh, some caustic remarks will be added to boot; not to mention much head shaking and mock spitting.

    (After writing this post, I checked the spelling of ‘enmity’ at Merriam-Webster Online and found this:

    Etymology: Middle English enmite, from Middle French enemité, from Old French enemisté, from enemi enemy
    : positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will

    I think that sums up feelings on both sides the Atlantic pretty well, don’t you? I also laughed when I saw that the word is from French.)

    All this begs the question, Why? After all, the Russians opposed the war in Iraq, as did the Chinese and the Germans and many others. So why is all this animosity focussed on the French? I’d offer three reasons:

    1. A sense of betrayal. Russians and Chinese have never been considered as allies. The French have been. There’s a sense among Americans that an agreement had been made prior to war, that we were led into a UNSC vote believing in that agreement, and were betrayed by a French led counter-stroke.

    2. A sense among Americans that the French owe us something for WWII.

    3. A widening discussion and understanding of the degree of anti-Americanism in France. Many people were shocked by what they read. Much of it appears little different than Soviet-style propaganda.

    An interesting, related question is this: Why haven’t the Germans experienced the same backlash? Their media is certainly as anti-American. Schroeder is no different in his actions than Chirac. Is it because so many Americans are of German descent? Or possibly because so many Americans have been stationed in Germany in the last fifty years and feel connected to Germans on a level they don’t feel towards the French? Or maybe the Germans aren’t seen as a traditional American ally. I don’t know.

    Posted in France | 18 Comments »

    “a veritable liner of the skies”

    Posted by Andy B on 18th January 2005 (All posts by )

    At the risk of sounding macabre, the coverage of the Airbus A380 launch leaves me feeling queasy. Not being an engineer myself, I will let others expound on the safety and wisdom of flying this machine, but the gushing pronouncements surrounding it still seem frightfully similar to Ismay’s “even God Himself could not sink this ship” regarding the Titanic.

    Personally, I would not be comfortable flying on the A380, given the outsize dimensions, and I am an adrenaline junkie. In-flight turbulence does not bother me, I have skydived multiple times, raced my motorcycle up to silly speeds, about the only lunatic activity I haven’t tried is B.A.S.E. jumping. But this airplane gives me the heebie-jeebies (technical term).

    I hope it flies as well as it inspires hyperbolic copy.

    Addendum: A thought that I just shared with Jonathan: Seeing as how the airplane has never actually flown in real life yet, I hope that the designers used computers with Name-Brand chipsets in them.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments »

    The Case For Letting Illegal Immigrants Have Driving Licenses

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

    Here’s a well reasoned argument.

    (via Bruce Schneier)

    Posted in National Security | 10 Comments »

    Know Your Bloggers

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th January 2005 (All posts by )

    ChicagoBoyz readers and contributors relax and mingle at a recent meetup. ChicagoBoyz sponsors numerous well-attended social functions at which all blog readers (regardless of race, creed, color, sex or number of stomachs) are welcome.

    Posted in Humor | 9 Comments »

    The Rough Men Revolutions

    Posted by Shannon Love on 17th January 2005 (All posts by )

    This article in the NY Times on the Ukrainian revote highlights one of the ugly truths about politics and political change. As Mao said, all political power flows from the barrel of a gun. When political power shifts, it does so because the power to kill shifts before hand.

    Peaceful protest are not the true revolutions. The true revolution occurs when the people with guns decide whether to back or to oppose the revolution. The peaceful protest can only occur in a security bubble created by Orwell’s “rough men” who stand quietly off camera threatening to due violence to those who attack the protesters. Without that protection, the Kiev protesters would have faced the same fate as those of Tiananmen Square.

    In the Ukrainian revolution, the protest and legal maneuverings were in the end just the capstone of the true revolution that occurred when the military and intelligence services chose the rule of law and the consent of the people.

    Too many people believe that revolutions can and do occur without somebody making a decision to use force if necessary. It is a dangerous delusion.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Very Little Boy

    Posted by Shannon Love on 17th January 2005 (All posts by )

    No offense to Instapundit, but this post is just silly. He points to this article about some museum guys driving around with a plywood and metal replica of “Little Boy”, the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, as evidence that Homeland Security isn’t up to snuff.

    But there is nothing about the replica that anyone should expect would activate any anti-nuke security sensors. The replica is shaped like the original Little Boy but that is as far as it goes. It contains no radioactive substances or any high-density substances that would set off detectors.

    Nor would its mere appearance trigger human suspicions. Why would a member of homeland security or law enforcement freak out about a bunch of elderly white guys driving around with what is obviously an antique bomb casing? There’s thousands of these things laying around scrap yards. People collect them and transport them around all the time. You can buy them off the Internet.

    Building any kind of detection system means trading off sensitivity for false positives. A security system that gives too many false positives (think car alarms) renders itself useless in short order. In this case, it looks like our system worked fine. It ignored a harmless replica instead of raising a false positive.

    Of course, if Homeland Security had swooped down on the harmless replica, that would have been taken as evidence they were incompetent boobs as well.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Very Little Boy

    von Drehle’s Trek through the Great Red Plains

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

    I’ve spent most of my life along the north/south axis that David von Drehle describes as “The Red Sea” in The Washington Post. (Thanks to Instapundit & before him, Tim Blair.) Not surprisingly, his take on life lived across that swath of America roughly from Waco, Nebraska to Waco, Texas is a bit condescending. He implies that, knowing little of Kerry because he didn’t campaign there, these people were timid. He sums up his impressions rather early:

    The decision to vote for Bush instead seemed wrapped up in the age-old city vs. rural dichotomy, change vs. tradition, theory vs. horse sense, new vs. familiar.

    Open-minded vs. closed-minded, offered Pam Sackschewsky from behind the bar at Hunters. She’s a Kerry voter.

    This ignores the fact that, as Tim Blair points out, the author comes from an area that voted 10 to 1 for Kerry, while the “red sea” went pro-Bush 4 to 1, implying more independent thinking. (Anyone who has spent much time among those aggressively independent entrepreneurs of the plains knows they don’t hold conformity in high regard – certainly not as in the news rooms of the east.)

    I was struck both by von Drehle’s rather narrow perspective and by the tone of the people he met.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections | 5 Comments »

    Putting Global Warming In Perspective

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 16th January 2005 (All posts by )

    The graph below is what’s got everyone talking about global warming. It’s a graph of the change in average global temperature since the beginning of the industrial era.

    Average Global Temperatures Since 1861

    It shows, quite conclusively you’ll agree, that making steel, using a leaf blower and driving your SUV is raising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. And because CO2 is a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide raises the average temperature of the Earth. So, when Kansas turns into a desert and Florida disappears under the ocean, it’s your American gas-guzzling fault. Correct?

    Not so fast, my media propagandized reader. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) has been doing extensive research on the question of global warming and have begun to weigh in with their results. Their verdict can be summed up in one sentence: The earth has been warming and cooling in regular cycles for hundreds of thousands of years. At least.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science | 13 Comments »

    Demographic Speculations

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

    Via Powerline comes this remarkable Caroline Glick column about how the Palestinian Authority has been cooking its population numbers. These are the numbers that have fueled intense Israeli concern about how the Palestinian Arabs, though almost powerless against the Israelis militarily, might eventually overwhelm Israel demographically.

    Glick argues that the Palestinians’ bogus population projections, by convincing a large and influential segment of Israeli opinion of the supposed peril awaiting Israel if it does not withdraw soon from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, have proven to be a much more effective weapon against Israel than have any military means. (Glick has long been critical of Sharon’s plan to withdraw Israeli forces from Gaza and forcibly relocate its Jewish residents.)

    But now the conventional wisdom about Palestinian population growth has been turned on its head by the authors of this new report, which suggests that the PA’s numbers are significantly overstated.

    The PCBS [Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics] forecast was further compared to Palestinian population surveys carried out by UNRWA and the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) in the mid-1990s, and to World Bank Palestinian population studies. All of the [report] team’s comparative analyses led to the conclusion that the Palestinian population forecasts upon which Israel is basing its current policy of withdrawal and uprooting of Israeli communities in the territories are faulty in the extreme.

    The PCBS count includes the 230,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem. Yet these Arabs are already counted by the ICBS as part of Israel’s population, which means that they are counted twice.

    The PCBS numbers also project Palestinian natural growth as 4 to 5 percent per year, among the highest in the world and significantly higher than the natural population growth of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Yet Palestinian Ministry of Health records published annually since 1996 show that Palestinian natural growth rates in Judea, Samaria and Gaza average around 3 percent. In 2002, the Palestinian Ministry of Health retroactively raised its numbers and yet even the doctored figures never extended beyond 3.7 percent. The original data show a steady pattern of decrease in natural growth leading to a natural growth rate in 2003 of just 2.6 percent.

    Indeed, the total fertility rate of Palestinian women has been trending downward in recent years. Palestinian women in Judea and Samaria averaged 4.1 children in 1999 and 3.4 in 2003. Palestinian women in Gaza averaged 5 children each in 1999 and 4.7 in 2003. The multi-year average of Israel’s compound growth rate from 1990-2004 is 2.5 percent. And even as Israel’s growth rate went down to 1.7 percent between 2000 and 2004, a similar decline occurred among Palestinians in Gaza, where growth decreased from 3.9 percent to 3.0 percent, and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, where growth declined from 2.7 percent to 1.8 percent.

    The PCBS also projected a net population increase of 1.5 percent per year as a result of immigration from abroad. But the study’s authors found that except for 1994, when the bulk of the Palestinian leadership and their families entered the areas from abroad, emigration from the Palestinian areas has outstripped immigration every year.

    [and so on]

    I have long been skeptical of alarmist demographic projections for the Palestinians, so the above-mentioned report doesn’t surprise me. The alarmist interpretations rarely seem to take into account either the likelihood of declining birth rates with increases in wealth or the observation that alarmist predictions tend to be wrong in general (it’s human nature).

    What is at least as interesting is whether alarmist demographic projections for Muslim populations in Europe may be subject to adjustments comparable to the one that’s now being made for the Palestinian population. It seems likely that European demographic statistics are more accurate than those produced by the Palestinian Authority. However, is there any reason not to expect European Muslim birth rates to decline as European Muslims become wealthier and more integrated, even if not completely integrated, into European societies? And is it inconceivable that non-Muslim European birth rates will start to increase at some point during the decades-long period for which demographic predictions are made?

    I am not arguing that current alarmist projections are necessarily wrong. I am arguing that long-range projections of complex social phenomena, extrapolated from statistical snapshots of recent trends, tend to be inaccurate and are a weak basis for policy decisions. Generally, the more dramatic the prediction, the more skeptically it should be treated.

    Posted in International Affairs, Society | 4 Comments »

    Good Video

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 15th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Anybody here speak French?

    Douglas at The Last of the Famous International Playboys says that there’s an embarrassing segment on a French news program about tsunami aid efforts. The report apparently praises American efforts, while pointing out that the French are helpless to do anything meaningful.

    If you’re interested you should click on this link and check it out. If you can speak the lingo I bet it would be more insightful.

    (Big hat tip to Prof. Reynolds.)

    Posted in France | 1 Comment »

    Tabloid News: Conviction

    Posted by Ginny on 15th January 2005 (All posts by )

    At the risk of degenerating Chicagoboyz into Fox or CNBC, let’s note CBS reports a verdict at Ford Hood, where

    Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at the Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted Friday of abusing Iraqi detainees in a case that sparked international outrage when photographs were released that showed reservists gleefully abusing prisoners.

    This CBS story, like most, doesn’t give the context to help us pass the test at the Mudville Gazette. However, it does seem to purposely mislead and choose interesting phrasing in an attempt to blow CBS’s horn. “The deck was stacked against him once charges were filed, especially after his supervisors refused to back him up” their legal expert notes. A network enamoured of “cover up” chooses “back him up” here?

    Apparently the jury decided men in their thirties were capable of choosing evil on their own. It saw neither noble savages nor a need for aluminum tinfoil beanies.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iraq | 3 Comments »