Saturday, September 30, 2006

[music] sgt. pepper's still tops

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been voted Britain's favourite No.1 album. With more than 200,000 votes cast, only 201 separated The Beatles' 1967 hit from Michael Jackson's Thriller in second place. The nationwide survey of music fans was commissioned by BBC Radio to mark the 50th anniversary of the official UK album chart. U2's Joshua Tree was third, with Rumours by Fleetwood Mac taking fourth place. Interesting - I always thought Abbey Road was much better and Thriller was vastly over-rated. Tastes differ.

[gruzia] not worth commenting on

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who held talks with ministers from the NATO alliance Friday in Slovenia, complained bitterly about Georgia's actions in this matter of the so-called spies. Ivanov charged that Georgia was provoking a conflict to try to oust Russian forces from two breakaway parts of Georgia that pledge loyalty to Moscow. Precisely. This is just a beat-up for political ends. Ignore it, like the Orange Revolution which turned out to be the Orange Power Grab.

[strange flora] mexican jumping beans

Probably the most interesting thing about Mexican jumping bean shrubs are the remarkable "beans" that jerk and roll about with seemingly perpetual motion. It is doubtful (or very rare) that they actually "jump" above the surface of the ground, but they can certainly roll and tumble along in different directions. Just as pineapples are not apples and peanuts are not nuts, the jumping bean is not a bean, nor is it a seed. It is actually ... continued here.

[voyages] nouvelle zélande

Malgré la distance lointaine qui la sépare de l'Europe et ses conditions climatiques parfois moins chaudes qu'en Australie, la Nouvelle-Zélande reste un pays fantastique. Je n'aurai pas eu la chance de beaucoup voyagerdans l'île du nord mais là aussi j'espère que ce n'est que partie remise. Suivez.

[foreign office] the only word is treason

On the Afghanistan debacle, please muse one more time on Capt. Leo Docherty's words, as he described how British troops managed to capture the Taliban stronghold but then had nothing to offer by way of development: "The military is just one side of the triangle," he said. "Where were the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office?" As forces sat back with little to offer, the Taliban hit back and British troops there were bunkered up and under daily attack. "Now the ground has been lost and all we're doing in places like Sangin is surviving. It's completely barking mad." More than one blogger has written about the pro-muslim, anti-jewish bias of the FCO and if you put that together with Docherty's words and if you accept both as containing at least a grain of truth, then what we have here is nothing short of actual 'treason' somewhere within the FCO. Someone knowingly allowed this to occur and is thus betraying the British army in favour of a foreign group of insurgents. How else can the military interpret it?

[usa] putin’s message should at least be privately mulled over

From inside the former USSR, the article by Paul Saunders on US/Russian relations seems close to the true state of affairs, especially in gauging the mood of the Russian public: President Vladimir Putin succeeded in impressing a group of foreign experts on Russia at his official residence outside Moscow recently, displaying his command of major issues and his endurance during the nearly three-hour conversation and in his not-so-subtle message. Putin said Russia would not work against US interests, but would instead uphold its own interests. Relations would only be effective, he said, "if our interests are taken into account". How this is interpreted is the interesting part.

[afghanistan] counter-productive strategy scrutinized again

There are some fundamental military principles being ignored in Afghanistan. When one invades another’s territory, one does it as a liberator, with the best interests of the soon to be conquered people at heart and the hated enemy the obstacle. Classic military psychology. When we trained as subalterns years ago, we studied countless campaigns and learnt that one began with propaganda, then hit with maximum prejudice on several fronts, with full logistic support, that one employed psy-ops negatively on the enemy and positively towards the locals, as the beloved liberators. Then the non-military moved into any newly liberated area and instituted an efficient, altruistic infrastructure, training locals, building roads, hospitals, factories and schools, providing paid work – all these had to be better than before. This is not happening in either Iraq or Afghanistan and this resulted in Capt. Docherty's question [BBC Sep 10], ‘Why not?’ This question is addressed here.

[health]12 dangerous food additives to avoid at all costs

For a start, food colorings that have been linked to cancer and tumors of the brain, thyroid, adrenal gland and kidney in animal studies. With any processed food you run the risk of coming across additives, and reading through ingredient labels can be like trying to decode a puzzle. Of course, eating largely fresh, whole foods is the best way to stay away from unsavory additives, but, if you absolutely must include processed foods in your diet, the following additives are ones you surely want to stay away from. Look for them on ingredient labels and if one turns up, take a pass. 12 point list here.

[first blogfocus] sunday 0700 london time

The business of blog roundups is much on the mind. I have no wish to [and anyway how could I], emulate Tim Worstall's accepted Britblog roundup on Sunday afternoons. DK has his Swearathon starting this evening and so mine needs a new focus. The way to go seems to be to zero in on one and possibly two issues only, based on what other bloggers have posted this week and work their comments into a whole. Anyway, I'll give this a try tomorrow and call it [blogfocus] what the bloggers said this week. Sunday, 0700, London time.

[mongolia news] marmot meat poisoning and secret airport renaming

In this blog’s first and possibly last venture into accessing the latest news from Mongolia, comes this, grammatically untouched: A 20 years old young lady who just enrolled college locates in Tsetserleg (center of Arkhangai aimag) had high fever for 4-5 days and said she ate marmot meat recently. Doctors diagnosed it might be plague. [by Tsatsaa] Poor girl. I have another one here, if you're interested: Buyant Ukhaa airport has without much publicity been renamed Chinggis Khaan International Airport. Unknowning travellers were surprised to hear upon touchdown the pilot's announcement mentioning this new name. You would most likely be at least a little surprised to fly into an airport which has changed its name en route and never told anyone about it. Mongolian News - what do you think? Continue with it, unknowning reader? Also, I'd love to do a post in Stranglish [strangled English].

[hermes] british pension fund cleared of stock manipulation

Hermes Pensions Management Ltd., manager of the UK's largest pension account, has said it was cleared by a Seoul court of stock manipulation, averting South Korea's first conviction of an overseas fund. The company said it was pleased. The ruling may ease concern that foreign investors face a hostile political climate in Asia's third-largest economy. Dallas-based Lone Star Funds' sale of Korea Exchange Bank for 6.95 trillion has also been delayed by a prosecutors' probe. Hank Morris, a director of Industrial Research and Consulting, who advises investors abroad on putting money into South Korea says: "It's a good sign. I think the foreign investment community will appreciate it.''

[tallest tree] discovered on september 8th

Chandelier tree is also tall

At 112.83 metres or 370 feet tall in 2004 and still growing, Stratosphere Giant, of the species Sequoia sempervirens, located in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California, USA, was considered the tallest tree until September 8th, 2006 . The exact locations of the tallest trees have not been disclosed for fear that human traffic would upset the ecosystem. Hyperion, discovered by researcher Chris Atkins and amateur naturalist Michael Taylor in a remote area of the Redwood National Forest purchased during the Carter Administration, is the name of the redwood tree in Northern California that has now been confirmed to measure 115.5 m (379.1 feet), which ranks it as the world's tallest living thing at this moment. The abundant moisture and moderate temperatures of coastal northern California and extreme southern Oregon allow the redwood to flourish but annual precipitation seems less important than the frequent summer fog. The warm, moist marine air over the cold surface of the Pacific creates fog almost daily in summer in the forest. The fog decreases the trees' loss of water through evaporation and transpiration and adds moisture to the soil. So the coast redwood is generally restricted to this coastal fog belt.

[canada] pm blocks resolution which ignores israel’s suffering

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is beginning to look, in many people’s eyes, as a firm leader. He blocked a last-minute resolution at the Francophonie summit on Friday that would have recognized only Lebanon's suffering during this summer's conflict in the Middle East. He said that an institution like la Francophonie could not recognize suffering based on the nationality of its victims, and he called for recognition of the conflict's effect on Israeli residents. The resolution had been proposed by Egypt at the last minute of the annual meeting of French-speaking nations.

Friday, September 29, 2006

[autumn fall] down britain's leafy lanes

As the first little chill nips at the neck, as the shadows lengthen, thoughts turn to home.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run.

Keats [to Autumn] 1820

[autumn fall] it’s leaf-peeping time again

Let’s think of pleasant things. Things like leaf peeping. There are few sights in nature as spectacular as New England's autumn leaves: a fiery medley of pumpkin orange, school house red and buttery yellow, spread across the landscape like a Persian carpet. Don Smith, chief forester for the state of Connecticut and other forestry experts throughout New England say that while some trees may suffer from this summer’s drought, the overall landscape appears healthy and on its way to producing at least average if not excellent fall foliage this season. That's good news for tourist business in New England, where the leaf season's economic impact is an estimated $8 billion. Time to be out there in the fresh air, enjoying nature’s finest show. Photo and info.

[cia bill] very nasty time coming up for the ordinary citizen

Finally Vox and more than just a few other Americans are seriously scrutinizing the new bill and Vox has come up with this conclusion: Under the language of the bill, there is no test whatsoever for whether a citizen or non-citizen is an "unlawful enemy combatant." Under the law, someone is an UEC if a military tribunal says so. That is to say, the tribunals have power that is not at all subject to constraint or law … Has this blog [and others] not been saying this for two months? Has it not gone on and on about the 4th player, about ID cards being the thin edge of the wedge and that this is now going to flow across the pond to Britain and into Europe? This is very, very nasty, citizens and yet we are still concerning ourselves with small matters like Hazel Blears and Polly Toynbee while the walls are inexorably being constructed around us, brick by brick, by relentless automatons.

[henry and richard] two doves discuss peace in the middle-east

The mind boggles – Henry Kissinger illuminating his behind-the-scenes successor, the dove-like Dick Cheney? The orc advising the werewolf? Kissinger, who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, has been telling GW and RC that in Iraq, 'Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.' Like in Vietnam, yes? Strafe the commie muslims back to the middle ages and have a real-proper victory for once.

[iceland breaking news] stars blocked by clouds as reykjavík goes dark[er]

I just adore Iceland Review for three reasons 1] the Icelandic turn of phrase 2] the classic headlines 3] the subject matter. I swear the ‘dark[er]’ was theirs, not mine. Cloud cover blocked the stars yesterday evening as Reykjavík’s streetlights were turned off in order to enable city residents to have a better view of the sky. In other respects the darkening of Reykjavík went well. The lights were shut off at 10pm sharp in connection with the opening of the Reykjavík International Film Festival, and were turned back on half an hour later. This is reported in all the main media. Reykjavík residents flocked into the streets to take part in the experience. Yet a slight sense of disappointment prevailed as a result of the cloud cover and also as there was still light visible even with the absence of streetlights. I’m seriously considering branching out into Mongolian News as well, soon .

[scots tory b] the issue of the comments counter

James, completely OT. I have repeatedly noted that your comments counter does not show other than '0' despite there being comments in the follow on section in your longer posts. I don't know if it's the same for the shorter ones. I can understand the blog's disdain for my lack of erudition but please programme in some manners! There's nothing more frustrating than leaving a comment on someone's site and the counter still shows afterwards that you don't exist. It's as if you're a nothing, a nobody. I've often thought, 'That's it; that's the last time I'm coming here.' But it's not the poor blogger's fault, truly. It's the bl--dy programme itself. And I notice your comment below has now been reflected in the counter. Bear with it and see if it's reflected next time. It usually is. Would that it showed immediately but what can a poor blogger do?

[blogging] posting, trawling and the day job

This one will be touched on in more detail on Sunday but for now – how do you other ladies and gentlemen get around all the blogs you want to read and do justice to them? I have a relatively modest blogroll and yet to get around the sites takes an hour and a half. I think Tim Worstall does his blog-trawl early morning but that’s when I usually post for the day, as I think DK does. Posting, trawling and the day job are a discipline or do you have a cunning plan?

[anti-semitism] in the highest places

Melanie Phillips writes: We know that the British intelligentsia, the British left and an alarming proportion of the British public either propagate or have uncritically swallowed the Big Lie about Israel’s aggression in general and the false view of the Lebanon war in particular … But Ms Beckett is the Foreign Secretary in the government of Tony Blair, supposedly the best friend Israel has in Europe. This is precisely the point and is one reason Gavin Ayling set up his petition. It will never go away though, no matter how many petitions are signed, as it is institutionalized, especially in the FCO.

[cricket] inzamam and the warne-buchanan rift

Colin Campbell wrote that the issue of Inzamam and Pakistan were two separate issues and in re-reading Cricinfo, he's right and yet Inzamam did say: I had an idea that I would face some sort of ban. This is the most lenient ban and I will not appeal against it. I think that says it all. On another matter, the peerless Tim de Lisle is slightly askew when he reported that Shane Warne is at it again - getting into trouble, then wriggling off the hook. Warne was widely quoted last week as saying that Buchanan "over-complicates issues" and has sometimes "lacked a little bit of common sense". The thing is, as I e-mailed Tim, Bill O Reilly once told some boys that if you see a coach coming, hide behind the sidescreen until he’s gone. It’s a long tradition in Australian cricket and doesn’t necessarily point to a rift.

[in brief] thought for the day

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream. [1964]

[eu] open postal market under 50g by 2009

You saw the FT today? Europe’s market for postal services will be thrown open to unfettered competition from 2009, according to proposals to be presented by the European Commission as early as next month. Brussels is keen to sweep away the last remnants of an era in which postal services were dominated by state-owned monopolies, and complete the market’s transformation into a competitive service sector. Britain, Sweden and Finland have already introduced open competition in all postal markets, but are keen to see similar market opening in other countries. France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece and Poland rejected the move. My question to economics bloggers is, 'Is this free market economics or is it another example of EU interference?

[canada] centre on the brink of recession

The Ontario economy has nearly stalled and, with the U.S. slowdown breathing down its neck, Canada's biggest province could possibly fall into recession, a new forecast from economists at Toronto-Dominion Bank warns. “There is a chance of recession in Ontario. We have some numbers that are getting close to the line,” said Derek Burleton, co-author of the bank's latest provincial forecast. A recession is typically defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction, and is frequently associated with rising levels of bankruptcy, company restructuring and job loss across many sectors.

[richard hammond] some better news

Richard Hammond, 36, has been transferred from the West Yorkshire hospital by air ambulance to Leeds-Bradford International Airport. He appeared to be laughing and chatting. "He is continuing to do well and was obviously stable enough to be moved," a Leeds General Infirmary spokeswoman said. Well, thank goodness for that. Some will put the recovery down to his robust constitution. The wise will put it down to his robust constitution and the power of prayer.

[cricket] nambi-pambiness in it's worst form

So Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has been cleared of ball tampering but banned for four one-day matches for bringing cricket into disrepute. What a load of b-ll-cks. Either he was guilty ... or he was not guilty. This blog is vehemently anti-nambi-pambiness in any shape or form and this is one of the more gratuitous examples of it. Add this one to the Pope's little about face on Islam and a store of treasured idiocy is slowly amassing.

[awb charge] western agency funded saddam hussein’s bunker for dead kurds

The AWB could face criminal charges linked to terrorism offences, amid fresh claims some of its staff knew money being funnelled to Saddam Hussein's government could have been used to build bunkers to bury dead Kurds. In its closing stages today, the Cole inquiry has seen an AWB document which reveals the Iraqis in 2001 wanted foreign currency to build 2,000 concrete bunkers. Who is the AWB? American War Board? Association of Women of Britain? No, as every Australian knows, it’s the Australian Wheat Board. Wheat. The stuff we use for bread. What, may I ask, was a wheat board doing with dead Kurds?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

[wallace] it wasn’t the question – it was the smirk

That outburst by Bill Clinton last Sunday, when he referred to the smirk on the face of Christopher Wallace, has puzzled many. It’s so easy to understand. He brought Clinton in under false pretences, his attitude from the beginning was mocking behind his obsequious ‘sirs’ and he simply wished to provoke, then turn around and innocently ask of all and sundry, ‘Whatever have I done wrong?’ He placed himself on the same intellectual plane as Clinton and in the smirk was overweaning arrogance and deep disrespect for a man who has strutted the world stage whilst Wallace himself has done zilch in any creative sense. He wasted the other man’s time and time is not a thing any of us have to waste. I’m not a Clinton fan but he was 100% right on this one. And for this last reason of wasted time, over here yesterday, I refused to deal with a particular group of people again. Life’s too short for such rubbish.

[blogging] the long and the short of it

There are nice pieces by Mr. Worstall and Mr. Olives today about blogging as a viable medium. A blogger also e-mailed me today with the view that he preferred the short, pithy piece to the long-winded, e.g. my piece on said Mr. Worstall. Another wrote yesterday that he preferred not to quote or link [if I understood correctly] as it defeated the purpose of a blog. Another answered him that it showed solidarity with the thoughts of the liked writer. A non-blogger said today that the beautifully presented piece in a garden blog setting detracts from its authenticity and that he favoured the scribbled memo style on an awfully designed background, as long as the man is an acknowledged expert. I read and listen and learn as I go.

[la gioconda] was she pregnant

Presume you saw the Forbes piece about the parturient la Gioconda model. "Thanks to laser scanning, we were able to uncover the very fine gauze veil Mona Lisa was wearing on her dress. This was something typical for either soon-to-be or new mothers at the time," explained Michel Menu, of the French Museums' Centre for Research and Restoration. Seems far fetched to me. Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant was 24 when Da Vinci began painting her in 1503; she outlived her husband and had five children. The portrait may have been commissioned to commemorate the birth of her second son. Da Vinci was still working on the piece when he emigrated to France in 1516 and is believed to have finished it just before his death three years later. It’s not the first time the idea has been raised.

[sony] ibm and lenovo recalling batteries

The situation just won’t die. Forbes reports that International Business Machines Corp and Lenovo Group have said that in cooperation with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission they are voluntarily recalling around 526,000 lithium-ion batteries worldwide manufactured by Sony Corp. Lenovo said the batteries can overheat, posing a potential fire hazard. It said it will offer free-of-charge replacement batteries for all recalled batteries. The recalled batteries were sold with or sold separately to be used with some models of ThinkPad notebook PCs, it said.

[film reflects life] blade runner remembered

Do you remember the film Blade Runner where replicants, robotic humanoids who did all the dirty work for humans, were invented by, in Russell Ebert’s words, "a slimy leader of an evil megacorporation", Joe Turkel? When they discover that Turkel has programmed into their circuits an early death for them, they decide to pay him a visit. Do you remember the moment when Tyrell asks the replicant, after they’ve tricked their way into his penthouse apartment, "What seems to be the problem?" "Death," responds Rutger Hauer, the cerebral psychotic. He then proceeds to slowly "execute" Tyrell. Well Tyrell’s corporation reminded me today of Blogger and I see myself in the role of Rutger Hauer. If only I can work out where they’re hiding out, I'd like to pay a visit to the Blogger programmers.

[hewlett packard] le successeur est mark hurd

La directrice juridique de Hewlett Packard a démissionné jeudi suite à l’affaire d’espionnage qui secoue la direction du groupe informatique. Contrairement aux autres dirigeants, elle refuse de témoigner devant une commission du Congrès, et pointe du doigt le directeur financier du groupe. Moins d’une semaine après la démission de l’ex-PDG de HP Patricia Dunn, c’est au tour de la directrice des services juridiques Ann Baskins de quitter ses fonctions, après 24 ans au sein du groupe. Suivez ici.

[air travel] fighting for those vital inches in cattle class

One of the four reasons I stay put over here is this: a study for the Consumer Associations' Holiday Which? magazine found that Britain's second biggest package holiday firm, Airtours, had the most cramped seating arrangements on long haul trips. On an Airtours flight [to Sydney], the seat offered was just 16.2 inches wide and had a backrest of only 28 inches width. An entertaining article by Rob Woodburn of The Age [link lost, sorry] then addressed the issue: to what extent are you prepared to fight for your in-flight rights? During my recent visit to Canada I read … about the lanky Ira Goldman and his battle with the airlines, in 2003, over his canny invention Knee Defenders, hard plastic devices that you wedge between your lowered food tray and the back of the seat in front, to stop it reclining. What struck me was not only the vehemence of many of the commenters but that the comments went on for page after page after page. Clearly it was an issue which touched the heart. More here.

[bitta kulcha] dark blognagar

Away ye gay blogosphere, ye gardens of roses;
In you let the minions of Mad Blogger rove;
Restore me my blog where the published piece reposes:
To distraction, not just me, Mad Blogger drove.
Yet US and UK, dear are thy readers;
Within their fine minds, thoughts unfettered breeze;
Tho' cataracts foam, 'stead of smooth flowing fountains,
We sigh for the day we can republish with ease.

[blair in iraq] entrenched position killed debate

A poster calling himself JT wrote: If reaction is kept to purely a debate, then we can achieve our goal. The trouble is that inflammatory remarks and entrenched positions do not tend to lead to a debate. They tend to lead to arguments and character attacks. He then proceeded: What is inflammatory about what you wrote? Dot, dot, dot. Which was inflammatory. The much vilified Bill Clinton said: The biggest problem confronting the world today is the illusion that our differences matter more than our common humanity. That's what's driving the terrorism. Clinton’s tactic was: Gentlemen, the differences are well documented; now let’s find the common ground. Didn’t work. Chris Dillow would abolish parties and I agree, asking how much further can we subdivide and splinter within the parties to illustrate our differences? In Project Muse it was said: The risk of defending entrenched positions is that one’s ego becomes overly invested in the endeavour. Nowhere is this illustrated better than in Blair’s knee jerk entry into Iraq but it wasn’t only ego at stake here – it was the belonging to the club, to the alliance and the alliance expecting certain things and holding him to certain positions, contrary to his actual interests. Continues here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

[gop] heart in the mid-west

Republicans will hold their 2008 presidential convention in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, choosing a location in the politically pivotal Midwest, GOP officials said Wednesday.

[etiquette] being a gentleman is unnecessary today

The vocal mouthpieces for women - the feministi - have stated that women now have no further need for men; which is fine, as it also frees men of the necessity of observing the laws of chivalry. How many of these antediluvian precepts for men can now be thrown out?

1 Always be polite Even if you don't like someone, there is no need to lower yourself to his level. Show that you're the better man.

2 Never swear It shows that you don't have the vocabulary to express your thoughts appropriately.

3 Do not speak loudly It always implies that you can't reason with people. It also draws negative attention.

[education] 3 questions which have stumped intellectuals the world over

1. What is the most useless company in the world:
a. BBC
b. Blogger
c. Blogger

2. Complete the expression - as useless as:
a. Blogger
b. Ming
c. Blogger

3. The greatest conspiracy the world has seen is:
a. George Bush's cunning gas plan ahead of mid-term elections
b. Blogger
c. Blogger

[bitta kulcha] higham’s soliloquy

To post, or not to post: that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Blogger or to take arms against a sea of endless loops and by pressing Republish, end them? To waste hours idly looping, to sleep no more while Blogger refuses to f---ing publish; and by a sleep, to say we end the heart-ache, knowing the bloody thing never got posted when it said it did, wot; and the thousand natural shocks that the computer is heir to, 'tis a consummation devoutly not to be wish'd upon any fellow blogger.

[oil&gas] a little disingenuous from the west

"Energy security" in the form of long-term supply contracts cuts both ways now that Russia has changed the rules so that suppliers as well as consumers enjoy security. This is the glittering jewel in Russia's crown, but its beauty may be lost on Western consumers used to calling the shots. - W. Joseph Stroupe [Asia Times]. On the other hand, how can you blame Russia? If Britain struck a virtually limitless seam in the North Sea and could call the shots on price, would it not do that? Wouldn't it be its bounden duty to its citizens to do that? And the US, say in the Gulf of Mexico? Can you say the US wouldn't play hardball, that it would play Mr. Altruistic? This is infrastructure which we're talking here. I find it quite hypocritical to hear complaints about Russia maximizing its advantage to the edge. And the difference is - here there's not a lot else to fall back on.

[tim worstall] entrepeneur, free marketeer and blogfather

There are those who would say that it takes an economist to adequately assess a fellow economist and for any assessment to carry weight, the writer should have at least a nodding acquaintance with the Duhem-Quine thesis and the theory of volatility. There are those who would say that it is more refreshing and less incestuous to write from the sidelines and in my case, there’s no choice. We all have our rails we run on and to carry the analogy further, those rails often lead in diverse directions. They might even put us into adversarial positions … Follow this link to read this article on Tim Worstall.

[in brief] thought for the day

All tragedies are ended by a death; all comedies are ended by a marriage; the future states of both are left to faith. [1824?]

[letter from novosibirsk] tales from the former soviet union

Just looked out of my eighth floor balcony window and can’t make out what they’re doing across the road. I’m on what was once a relatively quiet street but is now a six lane highway, replete with median strip; and opposite used to be a carpark which has always fascinated. For two years I used to wake up in the early morning, golden sun streaming through and highlighting the golden parquet floor and cars could be seen, over the way, doing strange things. There’d be seven or eight of ‘em and they’d trace their way along the edges of the park, then turn in perfect synchronicity and make geometric progressions to different points on the chart, then turn about on themselves and retrace their steps. Sheer ballet in metal, affording hours of intrigue, if you’d been so inclined. The answer took a long time coming.

[iraq] secret report states the bleedin' obvious

The Bush administration has released portions of a classified intelligence estimate Tuesday that says the global jihadist movement is growing and being fueled by the war in Iraq, even as it becomes more decentralized, making it harder to identify potential ... That's as far as I got 'cause there were better things to do. There's nothing smug in seeing the global nastiness unfold according to a blueprint even Churchill and Wilson predicted. It's nothing to do with me and my kooky ideas. The 4th player has even written the blueprint for those who would read it. The good news, on the other hand, is that the morning is sunny out there today and breakfast was tasty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

[pc gone mad again] are you one of those wicked ageists

Interesting twist in Australia where PC gone mad actually benefits the middle-aged like yours truly [don’t forget I’m 90 according to my blog profile] but I want none on’t. Ageism laws come into force on October 1st. Heaven help us. The Employers Forum on Age survey of 1,000 people aged over 16 found 61% of respondents knew of cases of what they considered to be ageist behaviour where they worked. What utter balderdash. People being asked to identify wicked ageists, newspapers running full ageist-hunts plus obligatory ‘vote here’ boxes. This is a perfect, absolutely perfect example of woolly-headed do-gooder terrorists wreaking havoc. What utter … sorry, have to stop. Where's my pace-maker?

[russia & iran] launch date of nuclear power plant agreed

Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday that the two sides have signed a protocol that has set September 2007 as the Bushehr nuclear power plant start date and have scheduled the delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran for March 2007. The agreement came after talks in Moscow between Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency and Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization. [

[professor kember] oliver kamm’s take

Leaving aside politics for one moment, I like Oliver Kamm personally. Therefore, when I began reading his piece on Professor Kember, I was more than a little worried. This sort of thing from the pacifist who was rescued by the SAS and was tardy in thanking them: “My son-in-law is a volunteer lifeboat man, who goes out to rescue stupid yachtsmen that do silly things. “People may say I did something silly there but I was rescued by people who, by being in the forces, chose to put their lives at risk so I don’t think that’s a valid argument.” Was this being presented as legitimate? I needn’t have worried. Kamm concluded: Soldiers risk their lives by volunteering for combat. Professor Kember believes they are wrong to do this. That is why Professor Kember is not only graceless but also hypocritical. Sigh of relief, for it is indeed so. Plus, I'm one of those 'stupid yachtsmen' who never expected any help but his own.

[soldiers] their view on the torture issue

Powerful piece over at Vox Populi on soldiers and torture. A soldier says: I found your last equivocation of torture very interesting. I suppose; since I am a soldier having had to deal with the reality of the fact that I will be tortured far worse than any detainee of the U.S., should I be captured, that I am somehow calloused to your remarks. I get this feeling that I was supposed to be uncomfortable after reading your words. I get this empty feeling that somehow I should get a feeling of remorse; however small, for the direction that the current administration is taking this torture argument. But I am having difficulty understanding your line of reasoning.

[clinton] vintage performance noted by gop

If ever the GOP needed a reminder that the ghost of Bill Clinton is far from being laid to rest, it was in Sunday’s confrontation when the provocative interviewer Chris Wallace attempted to pin Clinton down on the failure of his administration in addressing terrorism. Clinton turned the tables and began to interview the interviewer [earlier post] and then the following occurred: WALLACE: We ask, we ask - have you ever watched "Fox News Sunday," sir? CLINTON: I don't believe you ask them that. WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions - Continues here.

[from al jazeera] deficiency and impotence of arab states

Stories from the inside always seem more authentic. Soumaya Ghannoushi comments, about Arab states: The Israeli assault on Lebanon has poignantly brought two truths home: that some Arab states are unable to respond to ever-mounting external threats, and that the burden of homeland protection is increasingly shifting from the standard political order to non-state actors. The modern state derives its legitimacy from the right to monopolise and use instruments of organised violence for the purpose of maintaining internal stability and civil peace on the one hand; and securing its borders on the other. Some Arab states have failed on either or both counts. Continued here.

[business & state] how far should they subsidize the incapable

Often it’s the asides which are revealing. Chris Dillow stated, in his post on Left Libertarianism: My instinct, then, is that the state should provide a safety net, and not worry too much about letting the rich keep their millions. Stephen Pollard stated: I am contemptuous of CSR - business' job is to make profits, not act as a charity. Calvin Coolidge said: Civilization and profits go hand in hand. The one time I myself accepted the Queen’s coin, I came into contact with people who were – well – inadequate. They simply couldn’t. Sound in mind and limb, nevertheless there was something missing. Who should prevent them from starving to death? No one? Least of all business?

Monday, September 25, 2006

[execution] the best way to go

Ordinarily, I’d prefer not to think about this type of thing. Three Bali bombers on death row want to be beheaded rather than shot. Amrozi, Ali Ghufron alias Mukhlas and Imam Samudra had asked to be executed "the Muslim way, by being beheaded", their lawyer Mahendradatta said. He said they believed death by firing squad would be torture. The 2002 attacks killed 202 people. I’ve always personally felt that this was the way to go, if one had a choice. And one would be in such august company. I’d least like to be barbecued, I think. Actually, I’d least like to be in the middle of a 32nd degree ritual but that’s another story. Perhaps you can submit your thoughts in the survey over to the left.