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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

  My life: babies, babies, babies. I haven't written too much about my dear dependents lately, but I think that's because most of what I do during the day revolves around these little guys and I blog on other topics for a break. Also, it's hard to write about them because there's so much to say! I really don't know where to get started, but let's give it a try.

They're eight and a half months old right now; an age that I have been told by other parents is the best age. They are alert, interested, (and interesting), but not mobile enough to require me to follow them around all day. They can sit up and play by themselves or are happy to sit in your lap and enjoy your company.

Michelle is working a half to two thirds of a full day now, four days a week. The kids don't seem to mind missing the mid-morning nurse they used to have, and we are thinking about getting rid of the mid-afternoon nurse as well. Just small steps on their paths to self-sufficiency.

When they are with me, I have to keep them occupied or they get pretty upset. I've had a couple of days when this happened, but I'm starting to get the knack for entertaining them. We've got down on the floor playing with toys time, jumping around in the jolly jumpers time, watching TV time, cuddle time, food time, nap time, and stroller time to keep them busy. As long as I read their moods correctly and pick the right activity, everyone stays happy.

Max Max is the sensitive one. He likes to cuddle more than Talia and is more aware of Mama or Papa's presence (or absence). He's starting to lift his arms to us when he wants to be picked up and seems happiest when he's being held. He also likes TV more than our little girl and can sit for up to a half-hour watching colourful puppets talk with squeaky voices while he sucks and chews on some toy. He's a big boy too. We haven't weighed them for a while, but at the last weighing Max was taller and heavier than most infants his age -- and remember he was born more than a month premature. He's very solid and stands quite well. I wouldn't be surprised if he skips crawling and goes straight to walking, as some children do.

Talia is a little more difficult than Max, but only because she is so driven, it seems. If I picture her in my mind, she is squirming in my arms, reaching for something with a determined look on her face. During any activity, she is almost always the first to say, "That's enough! I'm bored!", (but not in those words, of course). She's been moving towards crawling -- I can see it coming -- but she's not there yet. She moves quickly from a sitting position to lying on her stomach, then perhaps rolls onto her back and onto her stomach again, and then flaps her arms and legs before crying out in frustration. She can't quite get what comes next. To tell you the truth, I'm kind of dreading the day when she figures it out.

And what about me? How am I doing with all this? Well ... I'm having a lot of fun. Yesterday, Michelle was feeding them in their high chairs while I worked on assembling new IKEA furniture in the basement. I came upstairs to ask her something and Max saw me over her shoulder. His face went from his blank 'eating-machine' look to the broadest smile of pure joy. Just seeing me pop my head out of the basement. There's really nothing like it. Those of you who are thinking of having kids, don't put it off -- moments like that make it all worthwhile.
  The Hard Economic Truth. I've been writing a bit on the strange economic landscape we find ourselves in these days. I'm no economist, but it seems to me that a global economy where one part is doing the majority of the consuming and another part is doing the majority of the producing is unstable and destined to be upset. I've tried to figure out how this will happen using the paltry resources I have available and have been only partially successful.

But today I found an interesting piece by Jim Puplava that sums up many of the concerns I've had and lays out how the future might play out. It's not pretty. Here's a teaser:
Today's U.S. economy is made up of a series of bubbles and excesses left over from the 90’s that have grown even larger as a result of monetary and fiscal stimulus. Through their actions, policymakers have injected more money and credit, which have only exacerbated existing imbalances in the economic and financial system. Like a drug dealer dispensing heroin to addicted junkies, the Fed continues to pump even larger amounts of credit and liquidity into the economy and the financial system. Instead of allowing the credit bubble to deflate, the Fed has chosen a path of monetary inflation in order to keep asset bubbles from collapsing. It has now become a matter of inflate or die. The U.S. debt imbalances and liabilities have become so large that the only way out of this credit predicament will be partial default through dollar depreciation. The U.S. will do what other third world countries have always done. It will debase its currency. It remains only a question of how this debasement will take place. Will it be orderly or will it be chaotic and abrupt? I believe the latter is more likely.
I'd like to write more about this article, but if you haven't been able to tell by my reduced posting, I'm been kind of busy these past few days. You really should give it a read.

Monday, October 27, 2003

  Pictures down again. I might have to start paying money if I want to keep pictures on the blog. Tabernac.
UPDATE: It seems my photos have all been lost. Drat. I'll fix it in the morning.
  Is this blog devolving into an echo of Dave Barry's blog? No. I refuse to let that happen. But this is too funny to ignore.
(from Dave Barry's blog.)
  Does this sound familiar? From Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell:
It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.
(from Andrew Sullivan.)

Saturday, October 25, 2003

  Japan is a very strange place. What other culture would expect this to help sell a product?
(from Dave Barry's blog.)

Friday, October 24, 2003

  Sony bends (over) for the separatists. Sony today announced that they will withdraw a level from an upcoming action game that depicts Quebec separatist terrorists running amuck in Toronto. Here's their statement:
Recognizing the importance of corporate and social responsibility, Sony Computer Entertainment America has decided to remove any reference to this group in the final version of Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain. We deeply regret any misunderstanding this may have caused.
Translation: we are a completely spineless company and can be pushed around by any special interest on any trivial matter.

You can wonder why the St Jean Baptiste Society and the Bloc Quebecois are getting so upset about non-existent terrorist group in a video game, but that's an easy one to answer -- a special interest group's only purpose is to be hyper-sensitive about anything on their 'turf'. The Quebec nationalists can be counted on to go into full righteous-indignation mode as surely as night follows day.

The real question should be is why a multi-national giant like Sony should cave to a bunch of crackpots. If you listen to the likes of Naomi Klein (and I certainly do not), companies like Sony are the dictators, not the dictatees. They're supposed to be the ones in charge, and are a danger to all of us due to their power and arrogance.

Of course the truth is that large entertainment companies like Sony are complete wimps to any sort of outside pressure. In fact, they don't even need the outside pressure, the entertainment industry is largely staffed with people that are quite capable of wimping-out on their own, thank you very much. As an example in the offensive-to-special-interest-groups category, there's The Sum of All Fears, where bad guys from the book, Islamic terrorists, are transformed into, um lessee ... (reaching into the bag of acceptable enemies) ... white supremacists. This after 9/11! I guess they didn't want to perpetuate a negative stereotype.

But the best example of the spinelessness of the entertainment giants is this year's TV lineup. Lame is the word on the street (not that I've seen any of it). After many years of examples of how shows that challenge the audience are the ones that succeed (with notable exceptions) they still chose to play it safe. And this year audiences are way down. Hey, do you think...?

Maybe I'm making too much of this. After all, it's just a videogame. But this kind of timid response to outside pressure sends a message to other content providers in the company -- keep it bland.

And bland is what we can expect.
  Steyn accuses Chretien of shrinking manhood disease. Mark Steyn was the best thing about the National Post until he left it earlier this year. Now the best thing about it is ... that it's lying in the driveway every morning. It's just because of inertia that I still have a subscription. And if they keep filling the paper with lame syndicated columnists like Maureen Dowd, Ann Coulter, and (grrr) Paul Krugman I think I'll have to actually pick up the phone and cancel.

But luckily Mark Steyn still writes about Canada for free on his website, while getting paid for his other work at prestigious papers around the world. Today he suggests that Chretien might have "caught something" from Malaysian PM Mahathir: Khartoum what happens is that the foreigner shakes hands with the Muslim and the Muslim subsequently discovers that he has "lost his penis". But, in this distinctively Canadian variant, what happens is that the foreigner shakes hands with the Muslim and it's the foreigner -- the Canadian -- who discovers that his manhood has completely disappeared.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

  Krugman irritation is a common condition. A few days ago I mentioned how I was driven into an eyes-bugging-out rage by NY Times 'economist' Paul Krugman. He manages to do this to me almost every time I read anything by him because he has the most amazing ability to make the most outrageous claims sound plausable (to a reader that may not be sufficiently sceptical). He uses big words and mentions important sounding organizations, all to make the point he makes in every one of his columns -- that everything bad in this world is due to George W. Bush.

Think I'm joking? Remember Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir's claims of a Jewish world conspiracy? Bush's Fault. Remember that blackout a couple of months ago? Bush's fault. And of course when Krugman gets started on Iraq you'll read the most wacky conspiracy theories you can imagine. It would be funny to read if it wasn't coming from a Harvard professor writing for the world's most famous newspaper. People listen to this guy's nonsense.

Luckily, today we have the internet to take down pretenders and phoneys like Krugman. Reading those that confront his nonsense with facts and logic allow my eyes to stay safely in their sockets.

  • We have Arnold Kling writing an open letter to the annoying guy asking him why his arguments on economic policy mostly question the motives of the proponents (you know who) instead of the consequenses.
  • David Hogberg, Robert Musil, and Scott Wrightson all trash Krugman for his ridiculous comments about Mahathir.
  • Keith Burgess-Jackson, a Naderite, thinks Krugman's pathological Bush hatred has cost him his sanity.
  • And best of all, Donald Luskin writes a weekly column called the Krugman Truth Squad, in which he and his agents throw the light of reason on Krugman's twisted nonsense.

    Knowing these guys are out there helps me sleep at night. The world is not as insane as I feared.

    IRONIC NOTE: Krugman wrote a column last week in which he predicted a future crisis in the US similar to Argentina's. This is what I was trying to do a couple of weeks ago, but was forced to back down on due to lack of evidence (and Kruggy didn't sway me with his nonsense, either).

    It's funny, but my generally pessimistic view of the world's economy intersects with Krugman's in some ways -- which actually makes me more infuriated with him. I see the world's present economic problems as a result of a lack of freedom and information -- the absolute essential ingredients for prosperity. He sees economic problems as a result of Bush and his evil capitalist cronies. But he's the one with the big media empire, so what do I know?
  •   'Bout time for a new picture... I haven't posted a shot of the kids for over a week! Here they are in their Halloween/winter clothes: Talia the pink blob and Max the bear. Bear outfit courtesy of Tante Cleo. Musette looks confused, as usual.

    Monday, October 20, 2003

      Blame America! In the days before I achieved my serene and peaceful nature -- last week, for example -- I would have found the story entitled It's lonely at the top in today's Globe infuriating. I would probably feel that I had to write something about it that would appeal to other grumpy cranks of a similar disposition to me. It might have gone something like this:

    David Malone is president of something called the International Peace Academy and writes a thoughtful article on the issues confronting the world after the UN - US rift over Iraq.

    Ha Ha! Just kidding. Actually he just uses a lot of important-sounding talk to take a bunch of cheap shots at the US. He gives a one-sided accounting of the last ten years of UN - US bickering, completely refuses to even address the problems of the UN, and manages to blame every humanitarian crisis in the period on ... well, you know who.

    He talks about "pronouncements from Washington" and uses the term "Washington commentators" when referring to those that feel the UN may no longer be relevant. He probably would like to blame the Bush administration for these ideas, but he can't -- Bush has had nothing but good things to say about the UN, and has frequently reiterated his belief in the organization. But "pronouncements from Washington" manages to make the accusation without the drawback of being factually incorrect.

    Two things struck me in this article. The first is that the article only makes sense if you are of the unwavering opinion that the UN is always right and the US always wrong (if they disagree). He feels he doesn't have to provide any evidence of this, just as he wouldn't have to persuade a reader of a geography article that the earth is round. That's just the way it is and we all know it.

    The second is that there is no argument made in the article. There are no predictions of the future, advice for the players involved, or discussion of the implications of the current situation. Just complaints.

    It seems that's all the peace movement is capable of nowadays.

    ONE MORE POINT: Not content to blame the Americans for all the recent problems in the world, Malone also uses this article to blame the Americans for the failure of the League of Nations. Funny, I thought it had something to do with the League purposefully looking away as Italy invaded Ethiopia. This action was a clear violation of the peace that the league set out to protect, and their inaction showed that the League was incapable of doing anything. Remind you of any other international diplomatic organizations?

    Sunday, October 19, 2003

      Stopping to smell the flowers. My blogging has slowed down considerably over the last week. I did this in an attempt (probably futile) to save my poor, battered sanity. At the time, I was getting a little preoccupied with blogs and blogging -- to the point that most of my idle thoughts were not of the pleasant aimless nature I'm used to, but instead were obsessed with 'feeding the blog'. And little pieces linking to other's work was not enough, I needed 'fresh meat'.

    It was a bit after I read a column by that jackass NY Times economist, Paul Krugman, that I realized I needed a break. It infuriated me so much that the next hour all I could do was fume about it and formulate arguments against it. I was going to spend an hour or two to angrily refute his arguments. But then I came to my senses. Why should I care? This is just making me miserable!

    And so I stopped. I remembered Lin Yutang's book, The Importance Of Living, a relaxing look at how to enjoy life. In it he said:
    Never forget that there will always be plenty of fools around who are willing -- indeed, eager-to be busy, to make themselves useful, and to exercise power while you bask in the simple joy of existence.
    I've got an ambitious streak that -- while generally dormant -- has arisen at various moments in my life to make me suffer horribly. I'm putting it back to sleep now before it causes too much trouble.

    I contemplated giving up on my blogging ways, but instead I'm going to change them. Less of what I think should be in the blog, and more of what I want in the blog -- if that makes any sense. More fun stuff, less angry crap. Though I'm pretty sure I can't rule out the angry crap completely...
      The Lesson Not Learned, Part III (cont'd). In the last installment, I had been trying to link the present-day currency manipulations between the Asian nations and the US to the disastrous Argentine currency peg of a few years ago. Well, all those who were terrified of an economic apocalypse can rest easier now, as I can't make the connection.

    It's not for want of trying. The last week or so had me digging around and trying to understand some economic concepts I was a bit foggy on. But the conclusion I have come to is that the differences between the two situations are more significant than the similarities.

    What I had been worried about was that when the US dollars held by the Asian countries devalued (which is still going to happen), it would cause huge shocks to various balance sheets (government and private) in the region. But since the governments of the region will never lose the ability to buy US dollars (because they can always print more money), the effect will not be that devastating. And the Americans, who owe the world so much money, will effectively get their loans reduced by the devaluation. There'll be a shake up, and there will probably be a lot of unforeseen consequences, but the global economy will probably be able to absorb it.

    But this is an unprecedented situation. As I talked about in TLNL, part II, no one really knows how this will play out. But if I get hear something interesting, or get some half-baked idea about it, you can read about it here.

    Saturday, October 18, 2003

      The state of fascism today. The word fascism actually once had meaning beyond an insult for one's political foes. Michael Ledeen discusses what the goals and ideals were of the mid-century's version of it, and points out where that vision is reappearing.

    Friday, October 17, 2003

      So that's how it happened! Finally, a dramatic video of Roy getting munched by the tiger:

    (Picture lost somewhere in the internet.)

    (via Dave Barry's blog.)

    Thursday, October 16, 2003

      Big Fat Liar. Michael Moore's latest book is out, and as usual with his work, it's full of lies.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2003

      TLNL still coming. Even though all my readers put together probably wouldn't be enough for a baseball team, I still feel bad when I say I'll do something and I don't deliver. I intended to finish TLNL part III today, but my little attention sponges (who are eight months old today!) will not leave me in peace. Right now Max is complaining that he has been in the Jolly Jumper for too long and Talia is leaning over my arm and clawing at the keyboard. No time for writing right now.

    Oh yeah, those pictures of Paraguay are still coming as well. I just have to find them and get them to a friend that has a functioning scanner. Sometime this year, for sure.

    Monday, October 13, 2003

      Thanksgiving babies. I'm a lucky guy, there's no doubt about it. Here's a Thanksgiving day photo of my two treasures.

    Sunday, October 12, 2003

      Arnie is loved all over the world! I just love this photo...

    Saturday, October 11, 2003

      Unknown Musical Geniuses, Part III. Orb are usually stuffed in the ambient bin by those that do the classification at music stores. Ambient, as far as I can tell, is mellow electronic music that you can't dance to but instead play in the background at your weekly drug party. It's far out! It's spacey! It's like ... really, really far out, man.

    This describes Orb perfectly. But you don't need to be part of the drug scene to enjoy this music. Since we've had the kids, I no longer host gatherings where we snort LSD and shoot marijuana in our veins. But I still can put my feet up and listen to the watery weirdness of Orbus Terrarum. This album chugs along at a dreamlike pace, taking you through surreal, abstract sonic landscapes. New rhythms wander in, hang around for a while, change a bit, then wander out. Sampled voices occasionally appear and make puzzling statements. The final destination is Slug Dub, a seventeen minute long piece about some slugs that are eating all the lettuce. A nice trip.

    Other albums from Orb are not quite as bizarre as Orbus Terrarum. U.F.Orb is a more danceable album with a strong reggae flavour. Orblivion is a colourful but creepy album that I will always associate with the end of the Millenium. And then there is the double CD, The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, featuring the eighteen minute long (wonderfully titled) a huge ever growing pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld -- which samples the highly-annoying 70's hit by Minnie Ripperton, Loving You.

    If Orb was played up as being serious art -- say the way the Future Sound of London present themselves -- I'd have a hard time enjoying them. But there is a playfulness that comes into their music that can't be ignored. It's fun, weird music that is not pretentious at all (well OK, maybe a little bit). But it's not for everybody. In fact, no one I've played this music for has really expressed too much interest in it. But that's why they're unknown geniuses, I guess.
      Best strip out there right now. The comics page has held few laughs for me since The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes were retired. Bland, really bland, is the only way to describe most of what passes for 'the funnies' these days. Get Fuzzy is an exception. It's a character-driven strip with a cat, a dog, and the owner, that consistantly makes me laugh out loud. Michelle demands that I display the comic below, which literally had her ROFL.

    Friday, October 10, 2003

      The Lesson Not Learned, Part III. The issues I covered in the last TLNL have been floating up into the public's consciousness lately. At a gathering of friends last week someone actually brought up the US's efforts to normalize trade with China as an opening conversational gambit. At first I attributed this to his awareness of my blog (and was a bit flattered), but then I realized he had heard about this issue independently. This is not someone normally interested in economic issues.

    Unfortunately, most of the coverage of this issue is either the notion that the policy statement from the G-7 supporting 'global rebalancing' is unwarranted government interference in the economy, or that the saber-rattling by the US towards China is just typical American bullying of a developing nation. As my friend at the party said, "what China is doing is not against the law."

    What both sides don't seem to realise is that the continued prevention of a freely operating foreign exchange market (which has actually never really existed) will only make a bad situation worse. Pressure is building up between China and America through the continued trade of real goods for promises (US dollars). Trying to manage this pressure -- maintaining the status quo -- will only delay the reckonning, and will make it much worse when it comes.

    In a way, the relationship of the US with China is similar to the relationship Argentina had with the rest of the world before the economic crisis hit it a couple of years ago. Argentina's currency was artificially set to a higher level. This resulted in a huge and growing trade deficit -- people in Argentina found it cheaper to import goods than make them themselves. And since the Argentine exporters were put at a disadvantage because of their higher costs, they either scaled down production or went out of business. People appeared wealthy, but not much productive work was going on. Taking a snapshot of the country in the days before everything came apart, you'd have to ask yourself, "who's paying for this lifestyle?"

    In Argentina's case, it was done through borrowing by the government. The citizens traded amongst themselves with pesos and used them to import goods. Letting all those exported pesos float on foreign exchange markets would drive down its value, so the Argentine government bought them up using borrowed American dollars. As long as this currency peg was in operation, these actions by the government could not be seen as a problem (if you were careful to see only what you wanted to see). On their balance sheets, a debt in American dollars was countered by a credit in pesos. And a peso was worth a dollar. Accounting equilibrium was maintained.

    The problem only became manifest in the long term when the interest on those American dollars started weighing more heavily. And since lending pesos just caused those pesos to be cashed in for dollars, the government found itself on a slippery slope to disaster. Each day they were going further into the hole and there was nothing they could do about it. All the talk about tougher budgets possibly fixing things was nonsense because the budget gap was caused by the support of a dead-end currency regime. Ending the peg -- and taking the disasterous hit to the government's books and the country's standard of living -- was inevitable. But it was easier -- both for the cowards in the governments and the technocrats at the IMF -- to delay. But we know today of course that they couldn't delay forever.

    How does this relate to the US and China? Well, I'm getting there -- but I have children to attend to right now. I'll try to pick this up this afternoon...

    Thursday, October 09, 2003

      BlogsTrudeaupia. I'm an engineer, and engineers like toys. The latest toy I've been messing around with is the tracker on my blog. That little symbol under the counter on the left? That's the tracker. It gives me (or whoever else clicks it) info on who's visiting the site. It's pretty nifty, and it's let me find out where some of the people who are not relatives looking for baby pics are coming from.

    One of the sources is BlogsCanada, a directory of, well -- blogs in Canada. I'm listed as a Nunavut blogger, though I haven't been there for a more than a month (and have no intention of going back). But what struck me on the site was the description of Canadians on the home page:
    We wax poetic about multiculturalism and the colours in our neighbourhoods. We consume hydro and we take our shoes off at the door, eh?

    We're gun-hating, Celsius-loving, maple-leaf-on-our-backpacks, standing on guard Canadians. We know we're a lot better off than you-know-who but we're just too darned polite to crow about it.
    In a word -- bleah. What an awful view of Canada! Is this site taking money from Heritage Canada? I mean it's all there -- the Americaphobia, the smugness, even the "eh" thing! Brrr. (And I really hate this maple-leaf-on-the-backpacks thing. You know the only reason it's so important to these people is not to proclaim that they're Canadian, but to assure everyone that they're not American.)

    The country BlogsCanada is describing is not Canada but the place known as Trudeaupia (coined I believe by Mark Steyn). Trudeaupia is a Canadian version of the idealists' vision of the 'social democracies' of Scandinavia. It's a multi-ethnic, harmonious land where people are tolerant and caring and have everything taken care of for them by a strong central government filled with dedicated bureaucrats who know what's best. Trudeaupians care for the environment and want their country to do whatever the UN tells it to do. And Trudeaupia is nothing like the United States! No way! For example, guns are disliked in Canada! And, and ... it uses the metric system!!

    One of the reasons I blog is that I'm disgusted with the Trudeaupian worldview that washes over the Canadian population through the CBC and the Official News Organ of the Liberal Party of Canada. I don't want to be on the list of Trudeaupian bloggers. Why on earth would I want to contribute to Sheila Copps' vision of this country?

    I don't even take my shoes off at the door.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2003

      The terrorist-media feedback loop. I've been concerned for a while that the media's laser-like focus on the problems in Iraq was acting as an encouragement to those who would like to prevent that country from becoming free and prosperous. I'm not the only one -- Ralph Peters gets angry.
      Congratulations, Governor Ah-nold! I was very pleased this morning when I woke up and saw the landslide victory for the big guy. Right now, all around the world the clever people are bashing out opinion pieces on how this is the beginning of the end for America. But see it more as an important reminder for the entrenched political class that the people still wield the power. If only we could have a similar reminder occur here in Canada.

    That said, I think Arnold has a big job to do in California. The state is in a serious mess financially and it cannot be remedied with a big shootout with the bad guys. But if anyone can tackle the entrenched special interests that have been preventing change so far, it's him.

    For more unqualified praise for Arnold, check out Andrew Sullivan.

    UPDATE: One of the big reasons for Arnold's victory is the public's disgust with how the media have treated his candidacy. The late-hit smears from the L.A. Times is the most obvious example, but check out this quote from a CNN news story (since removed):
    Schwarzenegger, who, like Hitler, is a native of Austria ...

    Monday, October 06, 2003

      Comments now available. I met one of my many readers at a party this weekend and she was outraged (well, mildly reproachful) at my one-sided view of the world. She wondered why I couldn't be more fair and offer views on both sides of whatever stupid topic I happen to be writing about.

    Sorry, but I have children to raise and I don't have the time for that kind of balanced coverage. Plus it wouldn't be fun to write. But now there is an option for those who disagree -- write a comment. I can't get away with my ignorant, arrogant crap if my clever readers are there to call me on it. Let's hear what both of you have to say!

    UPDATE: Those goddam comments messed up somehow and were screwing up the whole page. Not that anyone was commenting anyways. So for now on, if you take issue with what I say, just send me an email.
      The poetry of George W. Bush. Laura Bush revealed some of her husband's love poetry the other day:
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue.
    Oh my lump in the bed
    How I've missed you.

    Roses are redder,
    Bluer am I,
    seeing you kissed
    by that charming French guy.

    The dogs and the cat,
    they missed you too.
    Barney's still mad you dropped him,
    he ate your shoe

    The distance, my dear,
    has been such a barrier.
    Next time you want an adventure,
    just land on a carrier.
    The clever people are outraged:
    It is just silly and a little bit embarrassing. I am surprised she would make it public. As a little gesture between a husband and wife it is fine. But I can't speak to its literary merits because it is not literature. It does not come anywhere near. It is not even up to the standard of Hallmark.

    I studied the British Romantic Movement -- early 19th century -- Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron. This is just sentiment and flabby sentiment at best.
    This latest scandal of Bush will certainly hurt his chances when he runs for re-election next year.
      This blog is experiencing technical difficulties. My picture server seems to no longer exist, so I will have to find an alternate. I have one in mind, but I haven't tried it out yet. It will probably be a day or so until the photos of my cute and adorable children are restored. I apologize for any inconvenience.

    UPDATE: An hour and a half later, I'm back where I started from. The alternate I was guided to by a friend was not what I needed. Luckily, my picture server has come back to life. Hopefully it'll stay that way. (Maybe I should pay heed to his requests for donations...)

    Saturday, October 04, 2003

      WMD Update. By now everyone has heard that the interim report on weapons of mass destruction showed no actual weapons have been found. That is the summary the media has given and that is what people will eventually believe. However, what has not been widely reported is the evidence of the extensive WMD program that was definitely in place in Iraq before the invasion. Take a look at the actual report (which is very readable), and try to argue that there was no danger from Iraq.

    Here's what was found:
  • A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.
  • A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.
  • Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
  • New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.
  • Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).
  • A line of UAVs not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 km, 350 km beyond the permissible limit.
  • Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.
  • Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1000 km - well beyond the 150 km range limit imposed by the UN. Missiles of a 1000 km range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets through out the Middle East, including Ankara, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi.
  • Clandestine attempts between late-1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles --probably the No Dong -- 300 km range anti-ship cruise missiles, and other prohibited military equipment.
  • Can anyone really claim nothing was going on? That the reasons for this war were made up?Were we supposed to wait until Iraq was in the same position as North Korea is now, blackmailing its neighbors?

    Andrew Sullivan has some good coverage of the report as well.
      Quagmire in ... the Ivory Coast? Of course not! We've all heard from our accurate and unbiased news media how the US effort in Iraq is a cock-up of an unprecedented magnitude. Probably the CBC has something about it today. Let's see, yes, "Angry crowds charge U.S. soldiers in Baghdad." Sounds as if something out of Black Hawk Down occurred. What a mess! If only the UN were in charge, then there would be no problem. Especially is those clever French were involved in a leadership role.

    We only need to look at the successes in the Ivory Coast. After all, you would hear about the problems there if there were any, wouldn't you? You might recall that France went to the UN to initiate Operation Licorne to bring peace to the region. That was about a year ago. Lets check their progress:
    According to the U.N.'s ReliefWeb, here's what happens when you put France at the hub of the wheel:
  • Social services and local government collapse. "Basic social services, schools, health services, agriculture, trade, everything's getting worse," Besida Tonwe of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told AFP.
  • Disease rises. "Illnesses that had been held in check are beginning to kill again and malnutrition, which was previously unthinkable in Ivory Coast, has reappeared."
  • Doctors vanish and hospitals close. "In the north and west about 80 percent of health services are said to be not functioning and four-fifths of staff had not returned to their posts one year after the crisis broke."
  • Epidemic diseases reemerge. "Measles, meningitis and cholera have reappeared."
  • 600,000 people are displaced.
  • Refugees increase. 300,000 immigrant laborers flee the country. So do at least 50,000 Ivorians.
  • Schools fall into ruin. Schools are closed, looted, or overcrowded.
  • You get a bumper crop of orphans. The number of AIDS orphans is expected to rise from 420,000 to 720,000 next year.
  • But a famine in agriculture. "Agriculture and trade have likewise been hard hit with a slump in income, causing general impoverishment with all the predictable effects on nourishment and health of the population, say U.N. relief agencies, predicting a drop in next year's harvest."

  • Hmm, sounds bad. But not as bad as Iraq under the Americans, that's for sure.

    Thursday, October 02, 2003

      New baby photos! And new Iqaluit photos and new Argentina photos! Follow the photo album link on the sidebar. All the new photos are in the Max & Talia 5 - 8 months album, so there will be no need to hunt amongst photos you may have already seen. Here's a sample from the new shots.

      Great Photos. Here are some photos that are wonderful to look at, even though they don't have my babies in them.
      Unknown Musical Geniuses of the Week, Pt II. Surf is a strange genre of rock that never really went bigtime, but never went away either. The only time I can remember when this music cracked the public consciousness was when the movie Pulp Fiction came out. The soundtrack was as big a hit as the movie and featured Dick Dale playing Misirlou, as well as a few other surf classics.

    Los Straitjackets are a terrific modern surf band that play their (almost) all instrumental sound wearing Mexican wrestling masks. Pretty much all of their stuff is great and will make you want to jump in your muscle car (or your minivan if you don't have a muscle car) and cruise the city with the volume -- well, not blasting, but set at a vigorous level.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

      Hungry Angry Babies. I realized that I've mostly been putting up sweet, happy pictures of my babies. Here's what they look like when I'm too slow getting their dinner together. What the picture doesn't give you is the sound!

      Boy, is my face red! Wait. No it isn't... In a snarky comment in an earlier post today I declared that no one had died from global warming. Moments later I was at Junkscience looking to see how the dangerous 3G story was playing out there. And I found on that site a link to a story about how climate change kills 160,000 a year!

    I was skeptical of course, but some of those deaths must be legit. Lets see what they say:
    About 160,000 people die every year from side-effects of global warming ranging from malaria to malnutrition and the numbers could almost double by 2020, a group of scientists said yesterday.

    The study, by scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said children in developing nations seemed most vulnerable.
    Sounds serious. How does global warming cause these deaths? Well the article is pretty weak on specifics -- here's all I was able to find:
    Haines said small shifts in temperatures, for instance, could extend the range of mosquitoes that spread malaria. Water supplies could be contaminated by floods, for instance, which could also wash away crops.
    Three uses of the word 'could', not one use of the word 'has'. My skepticism is rising.

    Maybe the websites of the two organizations supposedly releasing this study have press releases that explain more. Hmm. Nothing on WHO. Nothing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Now I'm pretty sure this is just another over-the-top, poorly-researched story with no relevance to reality. It's from Reuters, of course.

    Perhaps a less hysterical response to the possibility of global warming could be contemplated if the true believers could be a little more honest with the facts. I'm certain that mankind has an effect on our environment, but I'm equally certain that a massive global bureaucracy to monitor and control carbon emissions is not going to work to reverse it. Problems such as malaria and soil erosion are best solved on the local level with better health care and more advanced farming techniques.

    But of course if reason were applied to these issues, it would not be possible to blame the deaths of hundreds of thousands on Bush.
      Junkscience will kill 3G. A minor news story out today will kill any chance of 3rd generation cell phone service making it into service in Europe. Apparently, the radiation caused by the base stations might cause nausea and headaches in the public.

    I'm betting the research is bogus; we're bathed in electromagnetic radiation all the time -- how radiation of a narrow band of frequencies can cause identifiable symptoms is beyond me. But that doesn't matter. Radiation! These phone companies want to set up transmitters of radiation! all over the place! Just so some people can watch live video on their phones! What about the children!?! Shut them down!

    Europeans have already shown in many ways they have no understanding of relative risk. They are passionately obsessed with issues such as GM food or global warming (worldwide casualties of both -- zero) but still smoke like chimneys and drive like maniacs. Eerie radiation (sorry -- radiation!) that might do things! to them is certain to drive them into a frenzy.

    No matter how many studies that come out finding that today's report is flawed, the fear of this technology will not go away. Especially with such vague symptoms as nausea and headaches. The fearmongers will be all over this one.

    Let the fun begin!

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