Sunday, July 30, 2006


John Podhoretz (hat tip Kleiman) asks a bunch of questions about whether nice guys finish last. It's unfortunate that he included the following question, both because it's a wrong question and because it opened the door to kneejerk reactions.
What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?
You have to read the entire piece to see that the quote above just doesn't fit. Podhoretz shot himself in the foot. And no, the reason there is an insurgency has little to do with the survival of Sunni men, and the basic cause of sectarian violence is not Sunni men. It's noxious memes.

Mark Kleiman says Podhoretz is being cowardly and that he's advocating genocide. Kleiman links to a fellow called Greg Djerijian who goes on at lenth to the same effect, and to a guy called John Derbyshire in order to call him a racist.

Kleiman concludes:
Our civilization is not at risk. To think so reflects cowardice. To persuade others that we are at risk is to spread cowardice. Podhoretz's tough-guy persona hides either a man too terrified to think like a civilized human being or a man who hopes to terrify his fellow-citizens into supporting policies he favors for other reasons. He'd make a good teller of scary stories around a Boy Scout campfire. As a strategic thinker, he'd have to improve a lot to be contemptible.
Given that Kleiman is a prohibitionist I don't think he ought to be commenting about the quality of others' strategic thinking.

I think "genocide" is one of those words, like "hero" or "coward", that's great for manipulating people through emotion. Aside from the stupid quote above, Podhoretz is asking some difficult questions, and it doesn't seem cowardly at all to do so.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Opening Eyes to the Damage Caused by the Drug War - The DEA Targets America

Opening Eyes to the Damage Caused by the Drug War - The DEA Targets America

What he said.

Here we are, spending gazillions in Iraq and Afghanistan while cutting taxes and subsidizing oil companies during times of record profits, so I guess it follows that we should be wasting a mere 60 billion dollars or so per year in support of the prison industry in this stupidity of a War on Some Drugs.

I am a conscientious objector in the War on Some Drugs.


Energy and global climate are among the most important topics anyone can think about.

Energy and climate are central to discussions of everything from war and peace, sustainability vs. collapse, feast or famine, sickness or health, and just about anything else you can think of that is at all important.

There is no lack of intelligent, insightful commentary out there, but two threads on EnergyPulse recently caught my eye. As is frequently the case on EnergyPulse, discussion following the articles is as valuable as the articles themselves.

Rebutting the naysayers on climate change, by Tam Hunt, was published a couple of weeks ago but continues to generate discussion ranging wider than the article's title.

The maturation of Matt Simmons, energy industry investment banker and peak-oil guru is by Jan Lundberg, one of the heavier peak-oilers. One of his points is that this energy banker, Matt Simmons, is pointing out the inefficiency of importing blueberries to to Maine from Chile even during blueberry season. Lundberg's piece needs a bit of editing, and I would have urged him not to imply that uranium supply is a problem for the nuclear industry (it has problems but uranium supply isn't one of them, necessarily), but it and the discussion following are well worth a read.

One of the commenters to Lundberg's piece acknowledges an earlier comment about technological change but notes that between now and then a great deal will happen that doesn't lend itself to elaboration on a wonderful morning. I think I completely understand the man's comment about ruining a wonderful morning. It's very dark stuff.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

What a bunch of bullshit

Target America

This fills me with revulsion.

DEA, WTC, Osama, ...


What naked propaganda. What bullshit.

More power to Pete Guither.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Amnesty Ironic

BBC NEWS | Americas | Guatemala urged to act on murders

That Amnesty International raises its voice in this case while campaigning against the death penalty seems a bit ironic to me.

Amnesty says that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

What is more cruel, inhuman and degrading: to permanently anesthetize a beast or to be subjected to torturous murders such as those described in the BBC article?

Amnesty says the death penalty violates the right to life. In this they are just being religious. Amnesty believes in inherent human dignity, from which it derives a right to life.

Human dignity, though, is far from inherent. Human dignity is reciprocal. The beasts among us should be executed.

Monday, July 17, 2006

No, not "period"

U.S. Newswire : Releases : "American Life League: Planned Parenthood President Drenched..."

I guess we'll always have people with gods on their sides who want to control the behaviors of others.

"period ... perversion of the truth ... no matter the circumstances ... never acceptable ... horrific truth ... babies are killed"

"The only real choice abortion affords a mother is whether she will be the mother of a living baby or a dead baby."


I wonder what these people would do to me if they would get away with it? The brain their presumably omnipotent god supposedly gave me harbors a view increasingly hostile to theirs (in fact, it denies their image of a god), so they presume to control my behavior and in the process limit their god's omnipotence.

Period, I guess.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Another Hot One

It's hot everywhere these days, but this is Phoenix.

A couple of weeks ago our air conditioner failed. We live in an old house with an old air handler, and this happens from time to time. That's why we keep paying the home warranty people to take care of things. One of these days we'll re-model and make everything efficient, but not just yet.

The heat really isn't that bad. Yes, it's hot, and we're having extreme heat warnings, but you just drink lots of water and keep the fans aimed at you on high. This time, though, we spent the better part of a day out of power due to a pole fire a couple of spans down from the house. No fans. That was ... interesting.

We're told the replacement blower motor wasn't available locally and had to be ordered from the manufacturer. Supposedly they'll be out Tuesday morning to install it. In the meantime, temperatures in the house reached over 102 degrees yesterday (it was officially 113 degrees at the airport, 117 here in the back yard according to my thermometer). At 7 a.m. this morning, having had fans sucking air out of the house and in through the windows all night, it's down to 92 degrees inside. Time to go close up the house now that it's about to get hotter outside than in.

I wonder if this is good practice for the not-too-distant future, what with the atmosphere and all? As my Uncle Jack used to say, you can get used to anything, but would you want to?

JURIST - Paper Chase: Ex-Guatemala dictator says Spanish arrest warrant on genocide charges unfounded

JURIST - Paper Chase: Ex-Guatemala dictator says Spanish arrest warrant on genocide charges unfounded

I wasn't in Guatemala at the time of the coup that brought Efrain Rios Montt to power, and I'm not sure of how it came to be. The story I heard, which was generally accepted in circles I visited, was that the coup had been carried out by a group of young military officers, honest patriots, who had then drafted the honest Rios Montt to step into the vacuum they'd created by displacing corruption.

Likely story. Sure.

Well, it could be. I have a close, well-placed relative who would, having worked very closely with Rios Montt over the years, back something along these lines.

During at least part of his tenure, Rios Montt would grab all the radio and TV frequencies for an hour or so on Saturday or Sunday to "regañar al pueblo", to scold the public, to sermonize. Some time prior, Rios Montt had left the Catholic Church and become a Falwell-Robertson type of "evangelico". As I recall, Rios Montt didn't preach bible as much as talk civics, though he certainly mixed the two. My impression, not necessarily well founded, was that common people didn't much like being scolded, but they recognized a necessity for it.

Rios Montt required every member of his government to take a sworn oath that he or she would not lie, steal or abuse. It rather annoyed me to one day find myself in the coastal home of a fairly high official, and to find that he had a switch in his kitchen with which he would disconnect the electric meter when he needed to run his air conditioners. Oh, well...

This guy's offspring (the guy with the switch) had an effect on me, too. One day I was in their company on the beach at the town of Panajachel on Lake Atitlán, when an Indian lady approached to offer for sale some pants that had become popular among the tourists there. This lady's price was $4 for a pair of pants. Four lousy dollars. It really disgusted me to see these little center-of-attention pricks in their leather wrapped sunglasses automatically compelled to haggle the price down to $3.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Stupid Stupid Stupid - Record Hammerhead Shark

. - News - Record Hammerhead Shark Was Pregnant:
He said he wouldn't have killed it if he didn't think it was bigger than the record 991-pound hammerhead caught in 1982. He said it isn't fair to criticize him because other anglers catch pregnant fish.

What a stupid reason to kill something.