2010-10-31

My Jon Stewart Rally Wrap-up

     My hair looked awful.

     I didn't run into anyone I knew, or maybe they saw my hair from a distance and turned in the other direction.

     If you look at this image of the crowd I was about 1 inch below and 1.5 inches to the right of the center of the giant grass cross.  I could see small people on the stage if they went most of the way stage left.

     I did not think much of the Roots/John Legend set.  The first song was mediocre.  John Legend was either having a bad day or can't sing well.  One of the songs contained a lot of ignorance with lines like "Everything is made in China now, are we all Chinese?"  America is still the #1 manufacturing nation in the world, and how would we become Chinese from buying their goods?  One of the other songs was about giving hope to ghetto boys, which obviously directly resonated with the urban and suburban, middle class, white audience.

     A pretty neat moment was during the MythBusters wave experiment.  It started at the front and people around me were happy and confused, like me, when 15 seconds later we still didn't see it coming over the horizon.

     I liked a sign that said "Death To Nobody."

     Father Guido Sarducci's benediction was nice.

     I really didn't know about the one, bad call by the umpire which prevented a Yankee ballplayer from pitching a perfect game and while I was impressed by his handling of the situation, I still don't think he should have asked for a bigger strike zone, next time. John Stewart gave him a deserved award.

     Apparently ABC, NBC, the New York Times, NPR and other organizations didn't allow their employees to attend the event because it was political.  Seems odd, to me.  Anyway, Stephen Colbert gave them an award, but since they weren't in attendance, gave it to someone with more courage... a seven year old girl.

     I liked, and will someday listen to again, Stewart's final monologue.

     I liked Tony Bennett's unaccompanied rendition of God Bless, America. It might even have been an extraordinary rendition.

     I talked to a half dozen or more people after who had attended about their experience and of the 6 none could see anything and only 2 (a forensic psychologist and Columbia student who had won the tickets from Oprah) could hear anything (about half or 70%).  It makes me wonder how many people left because they couldn't see or hear anything. It's only important for the crowd estimates.

2010-09-12

Things Run Better on Merit

     Napoleon's Army, the Civil Service exams in China, and, previously, America; it seems things thrive when they are rewarded for effort.  What might it look like if we rewarded people for political effort?  I don't really know, but I'll throw out some ideas.

     Learning the language of your current country is pretty much required, as a first step?  To enter the infantry of your country's democracy you would need to be able to find out what is going on.  To read is, perhaps, the next step, because the serious ideas are all written down.  I could never be convinced that someone who received their news only from the American radio or television news services knew very much. Of course, some people could be told about the government, the different jobs of the different elected offices, without reading about it, and someone else could learn to read and only ever read movie star gossip.

     Fuller participation involves writing and public speaking, knowing more details about what the government does, about the different departments, and about the laws and elected officials currently in place.

     All these things seem like they could add up to form a "merit score" for a citizen in a democracy.  Perhaps certain offices would only be voted on by people with a suitably high score.  Similarly, particularly low merit might be a bar to seeking certain offices.

2010-08-06

Gut Flora Bleg

     Almost sounds German.  Do any of you know much about gut flora?  I know it refers to the trillions of bacteria, along with fungi and protozoa, that live inside every person's gastro-intestinal tract.  I understand most of it is just 30-40 types in each person, but how many, of the hundreds or even thousand of different types might be one of the 30-40 types that are most numerous?  Is there a list of their secretions somewhere?  Do we know what types of things (things that might normally happen inside a gi-tract) can kill each type?  Do we know the effects if, say, your ABC bacteria group is actually sub-type 3a of ABC which often succumbs when the person has a high fever, and it all dies?

2010-08-04

What laissez-faire really means... the sudden collapse of the entire economy

     To the amateur and professional laissez-faire economist government interference in the economy is a bad thing.

     Interestingly, and it will also turn out paradoxically, this same group, politically usually Republicans, libertarians, or economic conservatives, value concepts like Original Intent, have a tendency to call themselves Classical Liberals, and have their lawyers organize themselves in a group called the Federalist Society.

     What did early Americans think about government interference in the economy?  Then, as now, there were usually two political parties with two divergent opinions, but none of these opinions match the views of the modern laissez-faire aficionados.

     Later, things did change.  After the Civil War and the birth of the giant corporation in the 1870s, after the 1886 Santa Clara cases which effectively gave human rights to corporations, but before that there were basically three positions, represented in the ideals of the Federalists, who were the most mercantilist, the Democratic-Republicans, who championed the individual farmer, free markets, the end to monopolies, and who hated corporations and stock markets, and the Whigs, who thought a few corporations were alright, in the hands of the elites, and thought the government should interfere in the economy with tariffs to protect manufacturers, as had Alexander Hamilton.

     The classical laissez-faire position held by the Democratic-Republicans saw limited liability, the right of the owners (stock holders) of a corporation not to be legally responsible for the companies actions, as a distortion of the economy.  Does anyone think modern Republicans want all the corporations dismantled?  I think they want all government interference except corporate limited liability to be done away with, and that's why they aren't free marketeers, they are corporatists.  Some corporations provide goods and services for the public efficiently, but all the biggest ones use that same power to change the law in their favor.

     What follows are a couple quotes from T. J. Stiles Puliter Prize and National Book Award winning biography of Cornelius J. Vanderbilt who once had assets roughly equal to 1 in every 9 dollars in the entire United States.

[The Democratic-Republicans] criticized the patricians[Federalists] for using their political power to grant themselves special privileges. Corporate charters usually went to the well-connected. Many early banks extended credit only to a closed network of relatives and cronies. Government intervention in the economy largely consisted of special rewards to officeholders and favored men.


The aristocrats saw no conflict of interest in using public office to enrich themselves. As society's natural leaders, they reasoned, they should be entrusted with economic stewardship as well. This outlook, this merging of private and public roles of the elite, was the essence of mercantilism, in which the state empowered private parties to carry out activities thought to serve the public interest. [p. 41]

The Bank War [between Andrew Jackson and President of the 2nd Bank of the United States, Nicholas Biddle] spun American politics into a centrifuge, concentrating the two impulses of the day into distinct parties. On one side were Jackson's followers, the Democratic Party, or the Democracy, as they called it, -- the party of individual equality and limited government. Under the slogan "Jackson, Commerce, and Our Country," they celebrated a market economy of real persons and a republican simplicity. In opposition arose the Whigs, who were more trusting in the beneficial role of active government. At the time, the division between the two seemed as natural as a canyon. The Democrats had emerged out of the resistance to the eighteenth-century patricians and their culture of deference, out of battles against the limited franchise, aristocratic privileges, and mercantilist monopolies. Though their elected leader would often make use of the government's economic power, the most radical among them -- especially New York's "Locofoco" faction (nicknamed after the brand of matches they used when their rivals at a tumultuous party meeting doused the lights) -- championed laissez-faire as their definition of equal rights. The Whigs (such as Hone) inherited some of the ordering, top-down outlook of the old elite, and a deeply moral version of the role of the state. They believed that measures to assist the most enterprising, such as corporate charters or public works, would grace everyone; as historian Amy Bridges writes, they believed "the state should guide interdependent interests to a common good." As development-minded modernizers in a young and growing country, they saw competition as a destructive force that punished entrepreneurship.[pp. 98-99]

2010-07-27

They Say Tax Increases Hurt Jobs

     Economists often deal with marginal costs, the cost of one more.  Tax rates, for example, are marginal tax rates, the tax on one more dollar.  Rational people, generally imagined by economists to be numerous, compare marginal costs and benefits.

     Let's say we let the top tax rate increase from 36% to 39%, as will happen automatically if nothing is done. This will mean the marginal value of earning 10,000 more dollars will drop from 6,400 to 6,100 dollars.

     What is the cost of labor?  The cost of labor will not change.  The company will pay about a 7% payroll tax on 10,000 dollars in wages.  So, for 10,000 an employer will get about 9,300 in work.

     When the tax rates go up, the advantage of hiring more workers increases.  In this case, from 9300-6400= $2900 to 9300-6100= $3200.

2010-07-25

None Dare Call It Treason

     Glenn Beck talks about "Refounding" America.  The "Tea Party" refers to starting a rebellion against America.  CNBC has gotten in on the act with their "Reboot America" slogan.

2010-07-24

Language And Conflict: Global News Alert


     The much hated Bush adminstration had advanced my goals, much like Napoleon, conquering Europe in the name of liberty all the while putting his friends on foreign thrones, actually ended up advancing the real cries for liberty and the end to thrones.  They did it with Kosovo.
     Like the Supreme Court ruling which put Bush in the White House, the recognition of secessionist Kosovo was supposed to be allowed, but never allowed to be a precedent.  The International Court of Justice has ruled that Kosovo's declaration of independence was legal.  The Associated Press has published an article saying this may lead to more breakaway movements.  I will highlight each region mentioned by the AP if it is or isn't a linguistic divide.
Regions around the world where separatists may be energized by Kosovo's secession include Spain's Basque country and Catalonia, Scotland, Italy's ethnic German-populated Alto Adige, and parts of Romania and Slovakia populated by restive Hungarian minorities.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which have declared independence from Georgia, will also be encouraged by the ruling that states that such unilateral declarations of independence are not illegal under international law. Nearby, Armenian separatists in Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabah region may seek to legitimize their secession dating back to the early 1990s.
In the Middle East, Kurdish politicians in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region have also said they will carefully study the ICJ decision. Although the U.S. has insisted on keeping Iraq's territorial integrity since the 2003 invasion, the Kurds have repeatedly pointed out that they have been victims of Iraqi aggression under a variety of regimes since the 1930s.
The ruling could also have far-reaching effects on Indonesia, where at least two provinces, Aceh and West Papua, are seeking independence.
     Lastly, let me say that I recognize that during the Dark Ages there were many, many small countries, making unity of purpose difficulty, but also that there have been times of very few countries which have also been problematic.  This is all related to my website/theory Language & Peace.

2010-07-13

Gold is going to tumble, or, Why We Are Never Going Back to the Gold Standard

     It is endlessly reported that gold is a hedge in uncertain times.  What is it a hedge against, exactly?  It is a hedge against the collapse of Western Civilization.

     Millions of people are taught every day by Glenn Beck, talk radio, Sarah Palin, and even some elected officials, that the Obama administration is destroying America. 

     The main reason the western world will never return to the gold standard (unless there is a complete return to barbarism) ...



... is that people in charge aren't about to put half the world's money supply into the hands of the people who buy jewelry.  This situation is only getting "worse" for the gold bugs.  The last graph showed where the total gold supply is, the next graph shows where each year's mined gold is going.



     So, what use is gold, really?  It has a poetic, historic role.  It never rusts, it is easily divisible, and it is fairly easy to detect fake gold, so, 3000 years ago, until the invention of the printing press, surely, it was the ideal solution to handle the issue of money.

     I suspect gold will fall as low as 600 an ounce, maybe down to about 550 intraday, before bouncing back to 800.  I also suspect that it will be this, and not anything Glenn Beck says, which will be his downfall, his viewers will resent his bad financial advice.

2010-06-26

     Drone missile strikes against suspected militants continue in Pakistan along the Afghan border, in case you'd for some reason become optimistic.  Officially, this program does not exist, so don't tell anyone I mentioned it.

     Kyrgyz authorities are rounding up people as a result of last week's Kyrgyz-on-Uzbek ethnic violence.  They still blame former President Bakiyev's supporters, so it would seem likely that they are rounding up their own political enemies.

     North Korea is having its first leadership meeting since 1966.  Scuttlebutt is that Jong-Il's 27 or 28 year old son Jong-Un will be given a very senior job so that when his dad dies he can take over.

     Taiwan and China are signing a tariff reduction pact.  The AP finds a factory worker to state that this is just a plot for China to take over Taiwan.  It is the official policy of World News Today that we think both Taiwan and China are damn fools for asserting there is only one Chinese government and that they are it.



     Hong Kong's air has lots more pollutants than some places.  The AP found an office worker who said it stings when she goes outside.  No mention of why recent electoral reforms (increasing the size of the parliament and the candidate selection committee) should help.

     The drug cartel situation in Mexico remains grim, in case you'd become optimistic.  While the authorities have arrested one of the co-heads of the Sinaloa crime family involved in Colombian cocaine smuggling, only a year after they arrested its top leader, shootouts between the gangs and the authorities still occur regularly with a handful of people dying in each incident.

     The AP has found Chinese bloggers speaking intemperately about the presence of a US aircraft carrier participating in South Korean war games.

     The AP found some soldiers who are complaining about the Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan.  Apparently, if they see a man of fighting age leave a building from which they are taking fire they can't fire at him unless they see him with a weapon or drop a weapon.  Surely this is poppycock, because, with half a brain, you could force the Afghan to the ground and capture him, leaving until later the effort to sort out whether or not he had been firing.

     The government of China seems to have taken a calm approach to strikes in the last month among industrial workers asking for higher wages.  Not only were they not quickly stopped by force, but they even let the media cover some of the events.

     Guinea is having an election today.  World News Today endorses Conde.  The election follows the death of the dictator Conte in 1998 and the Camara coup that followed.  While Camara originally said he'd have pretty quick elections and not run for office, he reneged and one of his Presidential guard shot him in the head.  He survives in Burkina Faso, recovering, while his former Deputy, Konate, turns out to be the hero of the piece, setting up a civilian government and organizing the elections of today.

     Rwanda is preparing for another fake election by cracking down on critical newspapers and the opposition, included among them are a figure who denies the 1994 genocide occurred, a crime in Rwanda.

     Romania's highest court, for no reason stated by the AP, ruled some of the recent austerity measures unconstitutional.  This puts an indefinite hold on a major IMF loan Romania is seeking.  The loan is why they passed the bill which cut pensions and government salaries.

     Cuba has been busy privatizing 2.5 million acres of land, about half of the total it expects to give away to Cubans who want to try their hand at farming.  Prices for crops will be set by the government and farms which don't produce within 2 years will be taken back.

     Mohammed el-Baradei, formerly of the IAEA, led a protest of 1000s in Egypt against police brutality which was not, perhaps surprisingly, brutally put down by the police.

     Bolivia's main opposition leader has been ordered arrested by a court which says he is funding finance foreign mercenaries.

     The European Union says that member countries do not have to recognize same-sex marriages.
     There have been some protests, put down violently, in Indian Kashmir this week, ostensibly over the police having killed some Kashmiris.

Why Religion Is A Disease

     We want people to be ethical, right?  To teach people morals you need to speak with authority.  If you tell people patent nonsense you undermine your authority and you undermine the morality of our culture.  Primitive people could not prove that the story of Noah and the Earth flooding was a complete lie, we can.

     The greatest lesson that these primitive religions teach the children of society today is that hypocrisy is acceptable. You can lie through your teeth and be a teacher of morals. 

     The Christian bible, and all the others I know about, pretend to be absolute truth and yet they are filled with lies and what other conclusion can children draw except that lying is acceptable, and that all adults are hypocrites?

     This is a disease that society has. Religion is a social disease.

2010-06-25

Today's News, June 24th, 2010

     Misery.  It's 120 degrees in Iraq this summer and many Iraqis get 6 hours of power a day.  After some protests, the Minister has resigned and a new guy is going to try to take care of the problem created by the American invasion seven years ago.

     India now hopes to extradite Warren Anderson, in charge of Union Carbide when the Bhopal disaster happened, which eventually killed 15,000 people.  From their home in Hamptons his wife said he's sick and he's been haunted by Bhopal.  It is possible, although not confirmed, that some homes on the Hamptons wouldn't have him over for parties.  No reports on how he has been able to manage the snubs.

     The Malaysian government is obviously getting pretty badly corrupt since they've decided to cover their asses by banning published books of cartoons which criticize them.  I guess they've never heard of the internet.

     LANGUAGE AND THE NEWS: Recently there was a conference between France, Germany, Poland and Russia.  One of the first things they thought they could fix was Trans-Dniester.  It's an area with Russian speakers inside Moldova.  Today Moldova is demanding the Russian troops leave.  Not very helpful, that.  If it were up to me the Transnistrians, independent for nearly 20 years, would join their neighbors in Ukraine and Moldova would get absorbed into Romania.  The Transnistrians seceded back in 1991 because they were worried Moldova would become part of Romania.  Moldovans speak Romanian.  Part of the issue is that this little "fake country" of Transnistria is rife with all sorts of criminal activity.  The Ukrainian authorities, if it were part of the Ukraine, could handle it better.

     The major Jamaican drug smuggler, named Coke, is heading for America today, to face trial.

     Some strikes in France over plans to increase their retirement age, one of the lowest in Europe.  Some strikes in Italy against government austerity measures which, the transport unions say, hurts the poorest workers the most.

2010-06-24

The Security Agencies in Kyrgyzstan are Lying

     If you were going to try to start an Islamist uprising somewhere, would you live in Belarus?  The security apparatus of Kyrgyzstan says former Soviet (godless, if you will recall) and former President Bakiyev's relatives are meeting with Taliban and other Islamist and they are behind the recent violence.

     It is doubly retarded for the security apparatus to make this claim when you realize that the violence in Kyrgyzstan, which has left 100s of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks homeless, is Muslim on Muslim.

     It is triply stupid when you consider that, basically, insurgencies attack governments, not poor people.

     I guess they can't control it. So sad.

2010-06-17

Except when it is about Food or Survival

     If our attitudes about drugs, abortion and politics are really just about sex, then maybe Freud was more correct than I have given him credit for being.

     Welcome to the Neo-Freudian age. I just simply assumed that Freud's patients, wealthy women, not having to concern themselves with food or survival, naturally thought about sex a lot.

2010-06-11

BP and Dividends

     Some politicians are saying BP should not pay dividends until the oil is cleaned up.  Today, Speaker Pelosi said that BP should use the dividends to fund the cleanup.

     The reasonable suggestion would be to take the dividend payments and put them in escrow.  We do not know today what the total cleanup costs will be.  At such a time as we know, then the money can be released.  This sets up good incentives.  BP will have an incentive to clean up the oil as quickly as they can.  If BP simply didn't pay dividends, they'd just have lots more cash on hand.  If they simply use it for cleanup, it doesn't make much sense because we won't really know it will be spent on the cleanup (BP can claim they are spending as much as they can on cleanup, but have constraints).

2010-05-29

Bad People Want Religion

     This article discusses some relationships some scientists found between clean thoughts and clean minds and moral behavior, but I think the author missed a hum-dinger of a conclusion, namely, that it is bad people who want religion and we can't win with religion.

     In the referenced study, people who thought of bad things then fill in the blanks fill them with moral ideas.  People who thought of good things had no such tendency.  Bad people want religion to clean them of their sins!

     But, in a later study, once given some cleaning, people were less generous.  They became mean!

     Religion is a sign of badness in the first instance, and a creator of meanness in the second. 

     For some further reading, try this and this, both from the Not Rocket Science blog.

2010-05-17

Don't Drunk Dial Freedom Works 1-888-564-6273

     I couldn't get the right size here, so, here is the youtube link.

2010-05-15

Tolkein and Rand

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

2010-04-26

The Catholic Church Inadvertently, I say, Encourages Molesting Little Boys

     I believe the abstinence program imposed on officials of the Church is what causes pedophilia, inadvertently.  The Church is denying exactly this is the problem, I think, because they know it is the problem. 

     Priests who are trying to be abstinent don't go to strip clubs.  They don't go to night clubs, either.  They probably don't go to nude beaches.  They probably avoid all the "scenes" where they know they will be tempted.

     Priests try to be celibate so they must be on their guard for temptation.  Priests are probably closely on their guard when in the presence of women showing a lot of d├ęcolletage.  They are probably also on their guard even around some men, because they know some men are gay.  And they are probably also on their guard around young women, even very young women now that menarche begins as young as 7 or 8. 

     If you were a rational, heterosexual, attempting-to-be-celibate male Priest you would probably feel safest around young boys.

     And yet, the desire to have sex hasn't really gone away, now has it?

2010-04-20

Is Politics Behind the SEC's timing in charging Goldman Sachs?

     Some on Wall St. and some Republicans are saying that the SEC bringing charges against Goldman Sachs now is pure "political theatre" and is designed to help push through financial reform legislation that the Obama administration wants.

     The Obama administration denies it.

     Goldman Sachs was the largest corporate contributor to President Obama's campaign for the Presidency in 2008.  Here are a couple ways to look at what is happening:

  1. Despite the recommendation of the SEC investigator, the SEC decides not to prosecute, and therefore the Obama administration looks like it is siding with a large contributor.

  2. The Obama administration is not bought, and is willing to bring charges against its largest contributors (for justice, or for political advantage, I can not say.)

2010-04-05

The WikiLeaks CollateralMurder.com video

     One thing to remember is that we, when viewing the video, are not in a vibrating helicopter.  It would be nice if we could know, for certain, what the Rules of Engagement were.  On MSNBC a Colonel claims they were "You may engage persons who commit hostile acts or show hostile intent by minimum force necessary." and "Do not target or strike anyone who has surrendered or who is out of combat due to sickness or wounds."  Wikileaks co-founder notes that the helicopter pilots are hoping the guy picks up a gun so they can shoot him. 

     Collateral Damage

2010-04-01

Legal Hegemony

     Shari'a laws are primitive, and I bet if I talked to anyone I know, between them and myself, we'd agree on that point.  This agreement, however, in no way, shape or form gives us the right to go and tell any third person that our opinion is right for them.


     You might well have read any number of articles about the "rape law" in Afghanistan that would have allowed Shia men to rape their wives, in addition to a number of other backward ideas.  You could have read as many articles as you wanted in the US media and none would have mentioned that, in some parts of the United States, that was legal as recently as 1994, when the Violence Against Women Act was passed.


     This came to mind because I'm reading an AP article on the US backed government of Somalia.  This government has 1800 soldiers being paid by the US, since, without a paycheck, many simply defect to the enemy.  The US backed government is soon going to start an offensive to try to take back parts of the capital "most of which is held by al-Qaida linked Islamist rebels."  At what point does America say that a government which has lost most of its capital city is no longer really there?  By the way, the EU is also sending military trainers, but they are going to Uganda to do the training.

2010-03-29

Russia Involvement in Chechnya

     No, I haven't read Sixty Years of War in the Caucasus, that was about Tsarist Russia's attempts to conquer the place.

     I have mostly finished the book Towers of Stone, by Jagielski, about the Chechen Wars (I'll publish some great, long quotes from the book later).  It looks to me like Moscow had been stupid when they assassinated Chechen leaders Dudayev and then Mashkadov.

     The first Chechen leader Russia killed, Dzhokhar Dudayev, had been a General in command of a Soviet Bomber Wing. He was no terrorist.  He had been the only Chechen ever to reach the rank of General in the Soviet military.

     The second Chechen leader Russia killed, Aslan Mashkadov, had been an incredibly diligent Soviet Army Colonel. He was no terrorist, although, to be fair, he hardly punished Shamil Basayev for his guerilla tactics.

     Some people might think that my statements somehow excuse today's bombings in Moscow.  Like most people, I believe that there are better people and that there are worse people, and, if you kill off the better people, all you have left to deal with are the worst people.  I'm saying that Russia's tactic, of assassinating Chechen leaders, seems to have backfired. 

     It's tragic that dozens of people died in Moscow.  Far more than 100,000 people die each day, but most of this is due to accident or disease, not because of a stupid war.

Proposed Solutions to the Problems of Maxwell's Demon

     Easy) Assume Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is right, then what the demon knows, the precise location and direction of every molecule in both chambers, is impossible to have, so the problem can not exist.  This is no criticism of Maxwell, who predates Maxwell.

     Easy) The demon's knowledge is infinite information, and therefore impossible to have in a closed box.

     2nd) Entropy is the loss of information, which the 2nd law of thermodynamics says can't happen in the box(closed system).  The extra information must come from the new locations/direction of all the molecules that the demon is keeping track of.

2010-03-28

HotAir Misses Some History

     I don't know who Ed Morrissey is, but it is obvious that HotAir gets 100s of thousands more hits than I do, which is why it isn't at all amusing when Morrissey ignores important parts of history to make a point.

     Ed writes "Thanks to what amounts to a reversal of 20 years of American policy on settlements in Jerusalem, Obama has given the Palestinians a reason to refuse to come to the table that Israel simply can’t address."  20 years, Ed?  I'm pretty sure Ed counts himself as more of a conservative than a liberal, but did he really not know that in 2003 the Bush administration cut 100s of million in loan guarantees because of Israeli settlement activity.

     From PDF page 18 of this 2009 Congressional Research Service report (pdf)
On November 26, 2003, the Department of State
announced that the $3 billion loan guarantees for FY2003 were reduced by $289.5 million because Israel continued to build settlements in the occupied territories and continued construction of the security barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians. In FY2005, the U.S. government further reduced the amount available for Israel to borrow by an additional $795.8 million. Since then, no other deductions have been made.

2010-03-25

Federal Health Insurance, Passed into Law in 1798

     Paul O'Rourke wrote an article a year ago about a 1798 law for sick and disabled seaman.  The Federal government passed the law which forced ship owners to collect out of seaman's salaries and give to tax collectors monies which were to go to hospitals and for caring for these seaman when they get sick or disabled.  The article piqued my interest, so I did some more research.  Here is the text of the statute.

     Some interesting things.  Seems like Representative Sewall from Massachusetts didn't like the idea because everyone in Massachusetts already paid into a public health insurance program that covered everyone, including seaman:

     Seems like this sort of accusation never goes away:

Language And Peace In The News: Myanmar

     The Shan language is part of the Daic (Thai) language family, while Myanma(Burmese) is part of the Sino-Tibetan.

     The junta of Myanmar is re-escalating its war with the Shan.

     Myanma is the pre-British name the ruling leaders at Ava and Pegu had for themselves.

Advice for the Lazy College Student

     I really like a variation on the Yerkes-Dodson law. If there's no pressure to do something, it won't get done for apathy. If there is too much pressure to do something, it won't get done because one will crack under the pressure. There is an optimal amount of pressure to get anything done.
You aren't feeling that pressure.

     There would be two natural reasons for that. Either the pressure isn't there, or your sensitivity to it is out of whack.

    Maybe the pressure isn't there. Then keep your powder dry and wait for it.

    Maybe the pressure is there. Then you have to ask yourself "What am I doing with my life that desensitizes me to the pressures of the world around me?" Perhaps it is just college life, where you have a roof over your head and a food in your belly without regard for how you proceed. It's not any sort of hell, but heaven, and, for many people, the last time you'll probably ever feel that way.

    If you are rich, you probably won't feel the pressure, either.

2010-03-06

Language And Peace In the News: Norwegian

     Langauge And Peace in the news: Norwegians propose dropping lesser used Norwegian variant to present a more unified front.

2010-03-03

Questions for Glenn Beck

  • If you know the suffix proto-, what features of Theodore Roosevelt's Progressives were the most proto-fascist?
  • the most proto-communist?
  • What progress of the last 100 years would you see rolled back?
  • You, and those who work for you and Fox News have done a fair job linking Progressives to both Nazis and Soviets through the use of the catch phrase "Social Justice." Are you aware of any professional or academic research that attempts to links the Progressives to the fascists? Please do not include any research you, or Fox News, has helped fund or has instigated.

Cops in NYC being bullied to arrest anyone, just to keep up quotas

"I'm not going to keep arresting innocent people, I'm not going to keep searching people for no reason, I'm not going to keep writing people for no reason, I'm tired of this[.]"

2010-02-27

Trent Franks Compares Slavery Favorably to Abortion

And Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona said today that the abortion rate among black women means that “Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery."

From WIIIAI

Please Check My Blog

     From PleaseCheckMyBlog.blogspot.com

2010-02-25

Sen Coburn on fraud

     It isn't clear if Senator Coburn's statements on preventative care were actually linked to any proposals, and therefore represent a sincere contribution, but his discussion of fixing "fraud" in government indicates, to me, insincerity.  He talks about doing it "tomorrow."  Tomorrow this little confab will be over.

2010-02-14

The Crazy Nitze, NSC-68 continued


The assault on free institutions is world-wide now, and in the context of the present polarization of power a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere.


     Really, Paul?  Really?  Our loss in Viet Nam meant freedom was defeated everywhere?  When the Soviets ended the Hungarian 1956 revolution freedom was defeated everywhere?  Where do they get these people?

NSC 68 by Paul Nitze, an important Cold War Document

     Somewhere into it I found this quote and instantly Glenn Beck jumped to mind, principally because he is amazingly irresponsible (as are many of his fans) but also because I wondered what he'd think of it, especially if you got someone to say it was from a bad source before he heard it:

The free society values the individual as an end in himself, requiring of him only that measure of self-discipline and self-restraint which make the rights of each individual compatible with the rights of every other individual. The freedom of the individual has as its counterpart, therefore, the negative responsibility of the individual not to exercise his freedom in ways inconsistent with the freedom of other individuals and the positive responsibility to make constructive use of his freedom in the building of a just society.


     Also, I find it odd that this paragraph, which I like, is in a national security document.  Nitze could have just said we are free and they are a tyranny, but he goes on here to define free.  I certainly wasn't expecting to find anything I'd like here, and I am finding quite a few sentences which are unbalanced (grave threats are mentioned, but so far none of our abilities to counter them are addressed, entirely one sided).

2010-02-13

Is It Possible To Be Happy?

     Is It Possible To Be Happy?

     The meaning of the above is found in Google and based on the idea that $cientologists $uck.

2010-01-30

Blair Spinning, Or Being Cagily Truthful?

     Headline from the Times UK reads "Iraq inquiry: Tony Blair slated for Iran threat claim" followed by
Tony Blair’s claims that Iran now poses as serious a threat as Saddam Hussein's Iraq have been dismissed as a "piece of spin" by the British ambassador to Tehran.


     Maybe Blair's just saying Iran poses no threat at all?

2010-01-28

Simplifying the "shortest unique" string of DNA

     Find the shortest length of the beginning of the gene in question (AUG,...,...,...) which identifies that gene uniquely and only operate from there, hunting the shortest unique sequence that the cancer has.

2010-01-22

More Specifically

     Referring to the last post

  1. Sequence the person's (healthy) genome

  2. Do a biopsy and sequence the cancerous mutation

  3. Find the {edit:] shortest sequence in the cancer that isn't in the genome

  4. Develop a broken, homing mega-endonuclease to locate it

2010-01-17

Broken Homing Endonuclease Cancer Cures

     Homing Endonuclease seeks out certain sequences in DNA and cleaves it at that point.  Normally a ligase would simply find the two cleaved ends and fuse them together with some small ATP cost.  However, if the enzymatic functioning was broken, leaving one cleaved end difficult or impossible to rejoin to the other, the endonuclease could impair or kill the host cell.  While typically only short sequences of base pairs are recognized (as few as 6 base pairs in restriction modification systems in bacteria), mega-endonucleases which recognized far larger sequences might be developed to operate only sequences of base pairs associated with the patient's cancer.

     If perfect, only recognizing the cancerous cells, inundation of the patient with the broken homing endonuclease could be sufficient, but delivery via virus is certainly also a possibility.

2010-01-10

Thank you President Bush

     During Bush's 8 years in office direct aid to Israel dropped from 4.1 to 2.4 billion dollars.

2010-01-03

Why don't they just ask Cheney this?

     While you were in office, Vice President Cheney, you and the Bush administration set up the Transportation Safety Administration and had some role in setting its policies.  What rules or regulations that you and the Bush administration set up did President Obama change to make the Christmas bombing more likely?

     The way I hear it, there was so little explosive that the guy who put the fire out got some burns on his hands, and the attempted "bomber" got some 3rd degree burns.  Does anyone really think you can take down a plane with so little explosives that it doesn't even kill the guy who has the bomb in his underpants?

Ireland Now Has Blasphemy Laws

     Blashempy.ie has taken a nice step.  I was thinking of one, not listed, hopefully I'll remember.  I think my favorite listed one is:
Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
-- George Carlin, 1999

Ah, now I remember:

2010-01-01

What's the worst story from Thursday, December 31st, 2009?

     Savvy people know that the government cynically releases the worst news on Friday evenings, knowing that less people pay attention.  The worst news of the year, however, is saved for the week when almost no one is paying attention, Christmas - New Year's.  So, what was the worst story?  What story should we hammer and hammer and hammer and hammer?  My guess is lots of murdering Blackwater employees get off Scot-Free!
Wikipedia Affiliate Button