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  • Archive for February, 2005

    Global Warming Versus Social Security

    Posted by Shannon Love on 18th February 2005 (All posts by )

    One of my pet peeves about politics is that we tend to compartmentalize issues, each into its own little concept space, and then we debate each issue discretely, without any consideration of how one issue impinges on another. I think this tendency results from the need of those in political marketing to create a kind of political brand-awareness for any particular problem. We sever the connections to other problems in order to simplify and focus the debate. I think this is one of the major systemic sources of errors in modern political decision making.

    Real-world problems don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist within a vast social, economic and political ecosystem in which interaction between the components is more important than the internals of the components themselves. We cannot truly understand political issues in isolation, any better than a biologist can understand a species without studying its larger environment.

    Take global warming and Social Security. On the surface the two seem to share no connection at all. We certainly never debate each issue with reference to the other. We think of global warming as a technological and scientific problem and we think of Social Security as a financial and tax problem. Where is the link between the two?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 13 Comments »

    Watchdog

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 17th February 2005 (All posts by )

    By now, everyone who is interested has heard the tale of CNN news chief Eason Jordan. Jordan makes wild and unsubstantiated claims, big media ignore the story, and the blogs won’t shut up about it. Eventually Eason resigns in disgrace.

    Bloggers like to say that they’ll replace MSM some day. Not gonna happen. We don’t have the resources to gather data, interview people, and get the stories out in a coherent way.

    But Eason and Rathergate has shown what we’re good for. Keeping them honest, shining a thousand tiny lights at outrageously biased behavior and unsubstantiated claims until everyone notices.

    So it’s important that we realize that we’re like a swarm of unpaid editors and ombudsmen, not the reporters who know how to get the goods. Unless we happen to be very lucky we’re not going to break the big story. Instead we’re going to make sure that uncomfortable truths aren’t buried in favor of some agenda.

    Big media claim that we’re getting in the way. They say that we’re just a bunch of partisan hacks who wouldn’t know good journalism if it came up and bit us on the nose. The unrelenting harping of the blogs, they say, is making it harder for them to do their jobs.

    Well, we might make it harder for MSM to do their job, but we’re also forcing them to do it right.

    UPDATE
    Ginny, one of my fellow Chicago Boyz, makes a wonderful observation in the comments below, comparing bloggers to old-style ham radio operators. She even manages to work in a reference to Libertarians. Well worth your time.

    Posted in Media | 12 Comments »

    DC Meetup Report

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

    Left to right: Notorious BRD, ChicagoGrrl.

    OK, turnout was a bit disappointing, but I got to meet fellow blogger Bravo Romeo Delta, who is a nice guy, and had a good chat with the witty and ravishing ChicagoGrrl (before she flew off to her next engagement). Unfortunately neither individual waited as I prepared my cumbersome glass plates, so the photo is somewhat lacking.

    Posted in Blogging | Comments Off on DC Meetup Report

    Buzz Machine

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 16th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Just to make sure that my own position is crystal, I realized that women are different than men when puberty arrived. Do these differences translate over into the sciences or other academic areas? I’m not a statistician so I’m not qualified to say. I’m firmly dedicated to equal rights for all, so I think that everyone should be judged on a one-for-one basis.

    No matter what he actually believed, Larry Summers certainly should have kept his mouth shut, though. You’d think that the Pres of Harvard would have known that.

    Now the Harvard faculty is screaming for his blood, which is to be expected. But the part of the story from tha last link that really stood out was this little passage.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Education | 21 Comments »

    This is Odd

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 16th February 2005 (All posts by )

    The Kyoto Protocol, an agreement by several countries to limit the amount of greenhouse gasses their industry produces, went into effect today.

    There’s serious flaws to the agreement that, in my opinion, prevent it from being anything more than a feel-good measure designed to mollify the Green Party. Developing nations, the largest growing pollution producers, are exempt from any controls. It also seems to be designed more as a way to cripple the US economy than as an effective tool against pollution.

    Added to this is the fact that the science behind Kyoto is suspect. The data is so inconclusive and contradictory that some scientists actually warned that the world would be plunged into an ice age if we allowed global warming to continue.

    The news coverage of this event (or non-event, if you prefer) strikes me as being very odd. The wire services are falling all over themselves to trumpet the start date of Kyoto and blame the Bush administration for it’s inevitable failure, but they seem to have forgotten (or are deliberately ignoring) the fact that Kyoto would be doomed even if the US signed on. Far too many pollution producing countries other than America have rejected the Protocol for it to work.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 9 Comments »

    Violence and socialism

    Posted by ken on 16th February 2005 (All posts by )

    I’ve been an amateur student of history over the last few years, and most of my historical reading has been an effort to find the answer to one question:

    How in the Hell did we get into this mess?

    It’s tempting to look for a powerful villain, such as Roosevelt, Wilson, or TR, and lay the blame on him, and indeed these men were the immediate cause of a lot of damage. But that’s not the whole story. They were as much a symptom as a cause – millions of people voted for them, knowing a great deal about what they were up to. Did one person, or a small group of people, manipulate them into doing that, and continuing to do that for a hundred years straight? Doesn’t seem likely to me.

    How about the establishment of the FCC, nationalizing the airwaves and enabling the government to weasel its way out of the First Amendment, pick and choose the stations allowed on the air, and impose content restrictions on them? Much of the damage was already done by this point, although it may have helped perpetuate attitudes hostile to individual liberty to the present day.

    If you argue for individual economic liberty long enough, you’ll find an interesting general pattern. Once you establish that liberty works, and refute all of the opposition’s arguments in favor of socialism, the opposition will fall back on the same argument – violence. They’ll tell you that letting some people get too wealthy will cause “social unrest”; i.e., the “masses” will become enraged and kill people and destroy property. They’ll tell you that you’ll live with socialism or the “masses” will string you and your plutocrat friends up from the nearest lamppost. They’ll even threaten you with the prospect that those “masses” will overthrow the government and completely destroy society rather than let people get too wealthy.

    (And all the while, they’ll insist that these “masses” are the good guys!)

    The sad fact is that, for the last century or so, the opponents of economic liberty have been willing to use or threaten violence to get their way, and we generally haven’t. We’ve been trying to use appeasement instead. When labor unions used threats, assault, and vandalism to scare off competitors and extort money from their customers, government (with our acquiescence) generally responded by giving them most of what they want. To this day, even those who deplore FDR’s economic policies will insist that he needed to give the socialists practically everything they were demanding lest those socialists stage a revolution.

    So far, our only answer to these thugs has been along the lines of “we’re feeding you, you idiots! What the Hell are you doing?”. And, indeed, the opposition does generally limit its appetite for loot and power sufficiently to keep Atlas at his post, at least so far. But there’s an awful lot they can take from us without bringing civilization crashing down on their heads, and pointing out that they’ll starve right along with us if they don’t let us do any work and profit from it isn’t sufficient to neutralize their threats to riot if we don’t play ball. We give into their demands again and again, and they slow down enough to let society keep running and even advancing here and there, but our dreams of colonizing the Solar System and producing, buying, and selling miracle after miracle in every industry the way everyone once thought we’d be doing just fade away, and as long as the refrigerator is full, the TV keeps working, and us plutocrats are put in our place, they don’t care. The best of us go on producing miracles when we can, and we all quietly accept the time we had to waste in their schools, the time we go on wasting complying with their pointless rules and regulations, and the money that they tax away from us for all sorts of useless purposes, and they rest secure in the knowledge that we value our property and our civilization enough that we won’t quit, disappear, or stage our own revolution as long as they stick with the gradual approach. They’re willing to play chicken, because they’ve been winning for more than a century, and our appeasements have only whetted their appetites for more concessions.

    And, spooked by the “social unrest” boogeyman, we keep voting for the sacrifices that they claim will appease the “masses.”

    So what do we do now? I think we should call their bluff. If those murderous “masses” ever existed, I’m willing to bet that they’re long gone. Our friends on the left have started noticing this – they’re claiming that we’re tricking the masses into abandoning the righteous retribution that they ought to be plotting against us by feeding them false hopes that they, too, can one day become plutocrats. (And never mind that we’ve been delivering on those “false hopes” for centuries – they’re more than willing to steal the credit for that.) They’re screaming as loud as they can about the most trivial cuts and modifications to their beloved laws and programs in the hopes that Bush and the rest of us will be scared away and they won’t have to reveal their paltry hand. I only wish that our Republican leadership was 1/10 as “arch-conservative” as they’ve been hysterically screeching about, because I think now’s the best opportunity we’ve had in ages to repeal their laws and dare them to put up or shut up.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    Buchanan vs. Sharansky

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

    Click this link and scroll down to read an exchange between Natan Sharansky and Patrick Buchanan. It’s worth the effort, as these two men perfectly represent the isolationist/anti-war vs. interventionist/neo-Wilsonian/democracy-spreading debate that is at the center of current controversy about U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

    It’s notable that Sharansky, whose spoken English isn’t very good, more than holds his own against the famously articulate Buchanan. I think this fact reflects partly on Sharansky’s great intelligence and focus, but more on the strength of his argument against appeasing dictators and for supporting democratic govt in places that have never known it.

    The crazy thing is that nobody in the Bush administration makes the case as effectively as does this foreign pol with his heavily accented English. Is this because Bush doesn’t recognize the importance of making his case directly to the public? Or are the Administration’s best spokespeople too encumbered with other duties to be involved in this important task? Either way it reflects poorly on the Administration’s priorities. Reagan, like W, faced a hostile press yet did an admirable job of explaining himself to the public. Bush seems to rely on a few allies in the mainstream press and on bloggers. It’s not enough.

    (via Ann Althouse)

    Posted in International Affairs | 31 Comments »

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

    Don’t mess with Rover.

    Since I blew our IPO money on that stupid airplane and spent all the ad revenue on cheap wine and floozies, ChicagoBoyz can’t afford a proper Internet security system. However, we can afford Rover the cat (seen here preparing to defend the blog against a shadowy interloper).

    BTW, I think Rover is pregnant. Anybody want kittens?

    Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

    Making the Private Public

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

    Ann Althouse disapproves of a politician who made a big public show of his marriage ceremony. “No word on how the wife liked having her private feelings turned into a giant political display.” That’s one way to look at it.

    I never understood why women put up with men who put them on the spot by proposing marriage in front of large audiences. I assume that the men, by making their intentions public, and risking public rejection, think that they are declaring their love in a profound and courageous way, and they may have a point. But there is also something tactless and manipulative about such proposals, which are usually made in private for the same reasons that sensitive proposals of all kinds are usually made in private. Or maybe the women in these cases have already agreed privately, and are going along with the public show because it furthers their men’s (and hence, as partners, their) agendas.

    I once saw a plane at the beach, pulling a banner that read something like:

    “SUE, WILL YOU MARRY ME? – MIKE”

    and followed an hour or two later by another plane (or maybe the same one) whose banner read:

    “MIKE, LEAVE ME ALONE – SUE”

    Posted in Society | 10 Comments »

    Party Hearty & You Return to a Mess

    Posted by Ginny on 14th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Look who filled up the blog. Perhaps you need to lock the playground when you leave. (Well, at least the alpha males allow women to express their views.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Beware the Alpha Male

    Posted by Ginny on 14th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Update: An informative op ed by Campos of Colorado notes the problems of academic hiring. (Thanks to Instapundit, of course.)

    Some of you have expressed curiosity about academic life. Anecdote time: My eldest two and their significant others will be interviewing for academic jobs soon. Some of their friends and colleagues are applicants this year. One was recently wined and dined and interviewed by a university. He didn’t get the job. He asked the bearer of bad news why, hoping to learn for the next time. The response was that the women on the hiring committee had a problem with him (He was afraid some rumors of his behavior – not always model – had reached them.) But instead, the problem seems insurmountable: he was, they said, an alpha male and that made them uncomfortable. The other two making the final round were women. His specialty has a large proportion of women; I suspect that has to do with verbal skills, although saying so might make my male readers faint or vomit. So, we get a feel for the ambience of such departments.

    This isn’t surprising. Objections I’ve heard from hiring committee faculty have been that an applicant was too “masculine.” Another was blackballed because the women felt he established more eye contact with the male than the female interviewers.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 40 Comments »

    Easing Out Eason

    Posted by Ginny on 11th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Update: Did this late Friday and got carried away: I realize that I should claim no certainty that Jordan’s comments were lies. We don’t know that they are because we know neither what he said nor the situations to which he was referring. I assume, I’ll admit, that unsupported comments accusing our troops of murder–targetted and by policy–are not true. This position is not, I gather, much different from Barney Frank’s. The left surely is still populated mainly by people like him, sane people who do not see such slanders as a partisan platform or an appropriate speculation before a friendly audience

    Back to Friday night:
    Incognito describes bravery and altruism, sympathy for others and generosity of self. It is at such men that Eason Jordan’s series of stories have been directed. And their courage diminishes the petty and bloodless skirmishes on the home front.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

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

    Posted by Ginny on 11th February 2005 (All posts by )

    On C-Span 1, Brian Lamb’s Q&A will be with Governor Mike Huckabee, Republican of Arkansas. (8 & 11 Sunday everning).

    C-Span 2’s Booktv this weekend offers its usual variety. On After Words Tom Gjelten (NPR) interviews Natan Sharansky whose The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror has been read by the Bushies. “In it, [Sharansky] argues that promoting and supporting democratic governments is essential to global security and stability.” He is “a former Soviet dissident who spent nine years a political prisoner. He lives in Jerusalem and serves as the Minister for Jerusalem Social and Diaspora Affairs for the Israeli government.” After Words airs at 6 & 9 Sunday night. A different perspective is given by Alan Dershowitz’s Rights from Wrongs: The Origin of Human Rights in the Experience of Injustice. Sunday morning (7:15 am)

    Booktv’s Schedule. Sessions related to Chicagoboyz topics below.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Hooahh

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 9th February 2005 (All posts by )


    Courtesy of Soldiers for the Truth

    “We were moving down the street, clearing buildings,” Kasal recounted. “A Marine came out wounded from a building and said there were three more wounded Marines trapped in there with a bunch of bad guys (insurgents). As we entered, we noticed several dead Iraqis on the floor and one of our wounded.”

    Kasal said there was no question of what to do. “If I was a general I would still think my job was to get the wounded Marines out of there,” he said. “So we went in to get them.”

    As soon as he entered the two-story stucco and brick building, Kasal found himself in mortal combat. It was fighting to the death, and there was no quarter expected or given, Kasal said.

    “An Iraqi pointed an AK-47 at me and I moved back. He fired and missed. I shot and killed him. I put my barrel up against his chest and pulled the trigger over and over until he went down. Then I looked around the wall and put two into his forehead to make sure he was dead.”

    While Kasal and a young Pfc. Alexander Nicoll were taking out the insurgent behind the wall, another one with an AK hiding on the stairs to the second floor began firing at the Marines on full automatic. “That’s when I went down, along with one of my Marines (Nicoll). Then I noticed the hand grenade.”

    It was a green pineapple grenade, Kasal said. It flew into the room out of nowhere and landed near the two downed men. Kasal now believes that other Marines who were watching their back left the room for reasons he still doesn’t know and an insurgent was able to somehow get behind him.

    Kasal said his first instinct was to protect the young Marine lying bloody beside him. He covered the young man with his body and took the full brunt of shrapnel to his back when the grenade exploded. Kasal’s body armor and helmet protected his vital organs but the shrapnel penetrated the exposed portions of his shoulders, back, and legs, causing him to bleed profusely.

    “I took my pressure bandage and put it on his leg,” Kasal remembered. “Then I tried to put Nicoll’s pressure bandage on a wound on his chest but it is very hard to get a flak jacket off a wounded man and I was bleeding and fading in and out.”

    Nicoll survived the grenade blast and his previous bullet wounds but lost his right leg. “An artery was cut and they had to amputate his leg,” Kasal said. “I have seen him and talked to him several times since we got back to the States. He is doing OK.”

    The grenade blast stunned Kasal. He floated in and out of consciousness. But in the back of his mind a voice kept telling him he had to stay alert or the Iraqis were going to come back and finish him and Nicoll off. “They weren’t going to let us live if they knew we were alive. It was kill or be killed,” he said.

    Kasal wrestled his 9mm automatic out of its holster and lay on the floor waiting for help. It was thirty or forty minutes before other Marines arrived.

    “That’s when I got shot in the butt,” Kasal recalled. “It was the shootout at the OK Corral – point-blank range. I was lying there shooting and somebody shot me through both cheeks. It smarted a bit.”

    Kasal did not know the exact extent of his wounds until much later; all he knew was that he was badly hurt. He was floating in and out of consciousness, ultimately losing 60 percent of his blood before he was rescued. After first aid, Kasal and Nicoll were transported to a field hospital in Iraq, then flown to Landstuhl, Germany, where Kasal was hospitalized for a week before arriving at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

    “I took seven rounds; five in my right leg, one in my foot and one to the buttocks area. When the grenade went off I got 30 to 40 pieces of shrapnel in my back,” Kasal said he later discovered.

    What do you say to that? Makes me choke up just reading about it.

    Thanks to Blackfive and Fred.

    Posted in Military Affairs | 10 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th February 2005 (All posts by )

    But the situation will be even more dangerous than Coll suggests. Long before a faculty lounge in Islamabad or Riyadh realizes it can build a bomb alone and secretly, the same thought will have occurred to individuals in Tel Aviv, New Delhi or Palo Alto. Any Islamic group that believes it can attack New York deniably should convince itself that no similar group can nuke Mecca at the height of the pilgrim season. In fact, the whole problem that Coll describes should be generalized. The only thing worse than discovering that New York has been destroyed by persons unknown is to find that Islamabad has been vaporized by a group we’ve never heard of.

    Wretchard

    Posted in Terrorism | 6 Comments »

    The right way to fix Social Security

    Posted by ken on 9th February 2005 (All posts by )

    First, we must identify the problem with Social Security.

    The problem is that we are currently promising future retirees whose numbers will grow by rather a lot over the next several decades that their real benefits will keep on increasing forever, and delivering on these promises will impose an ever-increasing burden on younger generations.

    That’s it. We’ve made foolish promises, and it wouldn’t be right to overburden those future younger workers by keeping them. The question is, how do we unmake those foolish promises?

    One idea that I like (but haven’t heard suggested by anyone else) is to hold constant the percentage of the population collecting benefits – then let the “retirement age” fall where it may. Another one that I like is to switch to price indexing rather than wage indexing – the current standard of living of retirees is such that I wouldn’t have a moral problem with the amount we provide them remaining (in real terms) the same regardless of what gains those who continue to work earn for themselves. I think we’re meeting all conceivable moral obligations to the elderly, and I don’t see any reason to suppose those obligations increase without limit just because we earn more money.

    One idea that I most emphatically do not like is the idea of adding in a “personal” account. First, it’s not really yours if it can be used only at the sufferance of the Social Security administration. Second, having the government direct the flow of that large quantity of investment capital, however indirectly, is just asking for trouble. The reason that our investment system works is that people attract investment by convincing people not only that their investment will make money, but that their investment is the best possible use of the investor’s money, better not only than “approved investments”, better not only than any other investment, but better than any other possible present use of that money including consumption. Let bureaucrats who won’t even be gaining or losing their own money have a say, and (much more) money will start flowing to enterprises based on pull rather than merit and profitability, and a lot of the money that would otherwise have gone to fund growth and technological advancement will instead go to waste.

    And third, any way you slice it, it will represent an increased burden on those younger workers. They’ll have to keep sending checks to current retirees, and they’ll have to forego even more money to invest whether they have a better use for that money or not. That’s a burden, almost as if they were being taxed, and never mind that they’ll get it back in 40 years if they live that long. If they thought investing in a company on the approved list was the best use of their money, they’d do it without prodding. If not, that means they had something better in mind, perhaps having an additional child, perhaps investing in medical research that could help remove the necessity for retirement in the first place, perhaps an activity that they won’t be able to enjoy at all when they’re retired and their health is failing. Believe it or not, there are more important things than retirement, and continuing to work is not the worst thing in the world. (In fact, there are indications that retiring can itself be detrimental to your health)

    Right now the burden of Social Security and Medicare is somewhat less that 15% of one’s income, the balance going into the general fund to pay for other government expenditures. If things don’t change, that burden will in the foreseeable future exceed 15% of your income, by rather a lot when all is said and done. That’s significantly more than 15% of your income being used for no other purpose than to send checks to retired people – that’s before anyone’s paid to defend you, before any roads are built, before any public research is done, before any MRE’s or bombs or bullets are even bought, much less shipped to the field, before any thwarting of the evil plans of the rapacious capitalists can be done, before anyone can be punished for putting dangerous things in their mouths…

    Okay, so it’s not all downside :) But isn’t that too much? If not, how much would be too much? And why do retirees have a right to eternally increasing support anyway, and why do workers have an ever-increasing obligation to them? And shouldn’t we cut back on those extravagant promises now, before the people given those promises have come to depend on them and have no good way to adjust?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    Proper Incentives

    Posted by ken on 9th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Capitalism is really and truly a wonderful thing. What it all boils down to is that people are rewarded for providing something of value for their fellow human beings, by the recipient himself according to the judgement of the recipient – not busybodies who purport to speak on behalf of the recipient – as to how valuable that something is. Produce something that actually improves the lives of others from their own point of view, and they’ll reward you; produce nothing but excuses, and they’ll reward someone else who can deliver.

    Of course, in order for this system to work as advertised, participants must not be able to substitute force for production. They have to be restricted to getting people to pay them voluntarily; otherwise, stealing wealth is easier and more profitable than earning it or asking nicely for it.

    Anarcho-capitalists have suggested that police and military protection can be offered on the competitive market, with continuing customer service, process efficiency, and cost improvements typical of relatively unregulated private industries. The problem there, of course, is that these agencies must use force, and lots of it, in order to do their jobs – but that same force can be used more profitably for plunder rather than protection.

    At least for a while. A good long term strategy would be to deliver real protection and generate lots of repeat business from increasingly wealthy customers.

    Machiavelli pointed out, long before Adam Smith was even born, that a prince who encourages people to peacefully trade and work and keep their profits from doing so will find his state growing in wealth and strength. For best results, a prince who wanted long term wealth and strength would keep economic and other laws liberal while ruthlessly cracking down on violence and theft, attract productive people from other realms and encourage those at home to exercise their abilities to the utmost, maintain a force sufficient to prevent armed interference from rulers and insurgents more interested in plunder or the cheap thrill of pushing people around, and take just enough from his subjects to keep the operation going, while allowing his geese to lay their golden eggs in peace and leaving most of those golden eggs to hatch into new geese, who lay more golden eggs, and so on. Keep it up long enough, and that prince can end up ruling the Galaxy.

    Except, thanks to long-familiar and still unsolved medical afflictions (i.e., the aging process), that prince would have ended up dead long before then. A prince doomed to a short lifespan, as all princes throughout human history were, would find it more profitable over his pitiful lifetime to grab all those golden eggs, throw lavish parties to attract lots of beautiful princesses, maids, etc., sink huge amounts of wealth into half-baked enterprises to grab attention and get more statues of himself built (a poor substitute for actual immortality, but the best available under the circumstances), and if people complain, keep executing them until they shut up.

    So we wound up with the republic as a kludgy workaround. If the prince can’t collect the long-term profit that could be had in running the state well, then voters can act as a check on the new republican government to stop it from stealing all their golden eggs. Unfortunately, that tends to degenerate into a situation where the voters scheme to steal the golden eggs from each other, and elected officials still sink large amounts of money in half-baked schemes to attract attention and get their names in the history books (the modern-day equivalent of those old statues).

    Which means that, far from ruining society, a cure for aging would lead to lots of noticeable improvements in its governance. Even voters might hesitate to vote for more “benefits” for themselves if the alternative is a huge difference in the overall wealth available in their society, and the ease in earning it for oneself, in two hundred years’ time. And libertarian kings and dictators, unfortunately an extremely endangered species up to now, might find themselves in the drivers’ seat and exploit the opportunity to become absolute rulers of humanity’s next superpowers.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Getting into gear for the blog meetup.

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    Eason Jordan’s Ignorance

    Posted by Shannon Love on 8th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Howard Kurtz’s report (via Instapundit) on Eason Jordan’s comments on the killing of journalists by the U.S. military in Iraq reveals what I think is Jordan’s real problem: he is ignorant of, or careless with, the nomenclature of the field he is supposed to be reporting on.

    Kurtz quotes Jordan as saying:

    “I was trying to make a distinction between ‘collateral damage’ and people who got killed in other ways,” Jordan said last night. “I have never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist.”

    BBC World Services Director Richard Sambrook explains Jordan as meaning:

    They had been deliberately killed as individuals — perhaps because they were mistaken for insurgents, we don’t know. However the distinction he was seeking to make is that being shot by a sniper, or fired at directly is very different from being, for example, accidentally killed by an explosion.

    First, of course, the phrase “collateral damage” refers only to inanimate objects. People who are injured or killed are “collateral casualties.”

    More important, Jordan and Sambrook seem not to understand that the entire concept of “collateral” concerns the question of intent, not the question of means. In this context, “collateral” is functionally a synonym for “unintended.” It has nothing to do with the type of weapons used or whether a person harmed was targeted as an individual or not.

    Intention itself is judged by the information available to a soldier at the time he pulls the trigger. If a sniper carefully aims at an individual and kills him because he believes the individual is a combatant, but later information reveals that the individual was a noncombatant, that individual’s death is unintended and therefore a “collateral casualty.”

    So what cognoscenti heard Jordan say was:

    I was trying to make a distinction between unintentional killings and people who got killed in other ways,

    Since the the only way of getting killed other than unintentionally is to get killed intentionally, Jordan’s statement clearly implies that members of the US military killed the journalists knowing that they were journalists at the time.

    What Jordan really needs is a vocabulary lesson. This entire contretemps could have been avoided if Jordan would educate himself on the area he is nominally responsible for reporting on.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    On Deep Throat

    Posted by Shannon Love on 7th February 2005 (All posts by )

    According to John Dean, Bob Woodward has informed him that “Deep Throat,” the member of Nixon’s administration who exposed his crimes to the Washington Post, is gravely ill and possibly near death. Upon his death, Woodword and Bernstein will be released from their obligation to protect his identity. We will at long last learn who “Deep Throat” was, and we can write the final chapter on Watergate.

    Watergate was really before my time. I read about it when I was young, and absorbed the implied narrative, i.e., brave leftists bringing down a corrupt president. Only later did it occur to me that, really, Nixon was brought down by Republicans, not Democrats or even Left-leaning reporters.

    First and foremost, there was “Deep Throat,” who handed them the key evidence on a silver platter. It is important to remember that “Deep Throat” came to Woodward and Berstien, they didn’t track him down by dint of their investigative powers.

    Second, there were the Republicans in the house and Senate who ruthlessly pursued Nixon even at the cost of their own party’s power. Many Republicans didn’t, of course, but enough did to seal his fate.

    Just something to remember if Deep Throat dies and we all have to live through two weeks or so of major media reliving their glory days.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments »

    A Question

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 7th February 2005 (All posts by )

    I was in one of my history classes today, listening to the lecture. The professor, a PhD, was discussing how some of the earliest colleges in Japan benefitted from instructors who lived beyond their means. Some top-of-the-line names in Japanese academia would work at Tokyo University, which was the only Ivy League-level school the Japanese had at the time, and then they’d moonlight at some lesser institution. This meant that those who couldn’t afford the big tuition could still get a top-notch education.

    Okay, so far, so good. But I was wondering why he seemed so amused by it all. Then he reminisced about a colleague which had been caught doing the very same thing just a few years before. This fellow would perform his academic duties at Ohio State University, but then would get in his car and drive to one of the community colleges downtown so he could teach two courses there.

    Okay, I’m still saying “So what?” The guy needs money ’cause he has a mistress. Or he doesn’t need to sleep more than 2 hours every day and wants to put his time to good use. Whatever the reason, what’s the difference so long as everyone he works for is satisfied with his performance?

    But my prof then said that the axe came down as soon as OSU found out about his other jobs.

    What the hell? Why did they do that?

    The prof said that prestigious universities think that you should devote your time to them and that’s it! It’s considered a priviledge to work for them, and if you don’t spend all your productive time in their service then you’re stealing.

    Hey, Ginny! You and your husband are academics. Is this actually true?

    Posted in Education | 8 Comments »

    I Suppose They Didn’t Get the Word That the Warsaw Pact Countries Aren’t Communist Anymore

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 6th February 2005 (All posts by )

    I wasn’t any too thrilled with World Police. A savage lampoon of Hollywood politics, sure, but I already knew that those guys out in Tinsletown were hopelessly Left. I did think that the technical art shown by making a movie using marionettes was impressive, but it wasn’t enough to carry the entire film.

    In case you didn’t see it, the movie is about a plot by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il destroy the world, aided by clueless Lefty actors.

    Now North Korea is making demands to the Czech Republic to ban the film, saying that it harms the image of their country.

    The Czech Foreign Ministry pretty much told NK to get bent.

    “We told them it’s an unrealistic wish,” ministry spokesman Vit Kolar was quoted as saying. “Obviously, it’s absurd to demand that in a democratic country.”

    You tell ’em, Kolar.

    Posted in Civil Liberties | 9 Comments »

    I was Robbed I Tells ya!

    Posted by Shannon Love on 6th February 2005 (All posts by )

    So I wake up this morning to find , courtesy of Steven Den Beste, that I part of my post on ActionFigureGate was quoted in a real life newspaper, The Post-Gazetter of Pittsburgh, Pa in an opinion column by Jack Kelly. The Post-Gazetter wrote:

    But the Web logger Shannon Love (Chicago Boyz) wonders:

    “Why were the major media so quick to disseminate pictures of an action figure as a genuine hostage photo?” More to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases? … For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising.”

    See full attribution and everything! In hardcopy! Hooray!

    But then things started to go down hill.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    This is Interesting

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 6th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Megan’s Law set up a sex offender database, as well as authorizing public notification when an offender moved into a neighborhood.

    According to this news report, a real estate developer filed suit against a former sex offender for ruining sales at a subdivision. The developer also filed suit against the real estate company that bought the house for the criminal.

    Can’t say that I’m particularly sympathetic to the two principals. The sex offender preyed upon the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. The developer squandered any good feeling I had by trying to drag this into court. Looks to me like he’s trying to bankrupt the ex-con through legal bills so he would be forced to sell.

    The cops and the real estate company which bought the house, however, were just doing their jobs. I notice that the suit doesn’t name the police, probably because there’s no chance that it would win. A company that’s hired to find houses for people might just have some money in the bank. Looks like the developer is hoping for a sympathetic jury so they can get some damages awarded.

    So who’s to blame here? The criminal? Well, sure, he’s responsible ’cause he’s the guy who committed the crime. But is he responsible for bringing down property values after the police, obeying federal law, plaster fliers all over the neighborhood? Probably not.

    In many states it’s against the law to discriminate against someone due to race, creed or sexual orientation. Would it be considered discrimination if you refused to sell a house to a sex offender, knowing that the value of your property would plummet?

    I’d say no, but I’ve never worked that side of the bench. (In fact I never was even called to testify on this side.)

    Posted in Law | 5 Comments »

    Where do They Get This Stuff?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 6th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Craig Henry over at Lead and Gold has a bone to pick with Richard Clarke’s speculation about terrorist attacks in the US. So do I.

    Clarke says that a few gunmen can mow down hundreds of people in a shopping mall with impunity.

    Four men, disguised as private mall-security officers and armed with TEC-9 submachine guns, street-sweeper 12-gauge shotguns, and dynamite, entered the mall at two points and began executing shoppers at will.

    (Insert paragraph about how the Assault Weapons Ban would have prevented the terrorists from arming themselves.)

    The panic and confusion brought on by the terrorists’ opening volleys led many shoppers to run away from one pair of murderers and into the path of the other, leading to more carnage. Two off-duty police officers were cited for bravery after they took down one pair of terrorists with their personal weapons, before the local SWAT team could get to the scene. Meanwhile, one of the other terrorists used his cell phone to remotely detonate the rental van he had driven to the mall; this resulted in even more chaos in the parking garages. Once the SWAT team arrived, it made short work of the two remaining terrorists. By the time the smoke had cleared, more than 300 people were dead and 400 lay wounded. In the confusion of the firefight the SWAT team had killed six mall guards and wounded two police officers.

    400 dead? Not if I’m in there buying new tennis shoes. And not if any of my former students are there. Or anyone from the Pink Pistols, one of the organizations for which I volunteer.

    This might seem reasonable to someone who isn’t concerned with self defense, but to those of use who shoot it’s pretty much insane.

    Read the whole thing. Craig is more than a little long-winded about this subject, but I can see why he wanted to talk about it at length.

    Posted in Terrorism | 17 Comments »