Saturday, February 28, 2009
The Czar agrees with this. Beltt continues to explain the psychological reasons behind the seeming paradoxes behind liberals. The Czars own Rasputin recently forwarded him an email (Gormogon readers have likely already seen it) that lists the many paradoxes of liberalism (such as hatred of the NRA for supporting all ten of the Bill of Rights amendments, but worshipping the ACLU for dogmatic support of only nine, or the bizarre tolerance of innocent lives snuffed by abortion but abhorrence of capital punishment of confirmed monsters, and so on). This is not the hypocrisy of liberalism: it is purely the logic under which they operate: by over-simplifying the understanding of the problem to meaninglessness, you allow no shortage of paradox into your personal cognitive dissonance.
For example, Beltt mentions same-sex marriage. As you know, the 2009 Oscars were deeply rooted not on the quality of the film Milk, but on the apparent conclusion that now, finally, conservatives would have to admit they were wrong on the subject of same-sex marriage. The Czar admits to passionate disinterest in the Oscars telecast, and probably missed the part where Milk explained the logical connections between Harvey Milk and the apparent necessity for gay marriage. As Academy Award Winner Dustin Lance Black assured viewers, God will ensure equal rights, including marriage, for same sex couples.
The Czar, like you, knows many people who are gay, whether they are open about it or not. The Czar does not care about gender orientation, either, and generally has no qualms with the concept of same-sex marriage as a theory. The Czar understands that it is pure foolishness to associate, automatically, legal gay marriage with legalized pederasty or bestiality. The Czar, unlike many conservative brethren, even subscribes to the notion that the straight/gay spectrum may be hard-wired in the brain before birth. It would certainly explain that eight-year-old kid in grade school who earnestly believed he was Wonder Woman, and wanted to kiss the other boys.
It is, of course, the practical details of same-sex marriage that make its own outcome difficult. And here is the psychology of the liberal cause. Conservatives do not oppose a Constitutional amendment or a redefinition of marriage because they are cynical, Bible-bound homophobe bigots. The shocking reality, which the gay community hates to admit, is that straight conservatives dont give a rats posterior about gay marriage any more than they worry about the Australian national cricket team.
No, the opposition is because the Constitution should not be re-written for a single-digit percentage of the population. Minority does not rule, and shall never rule, where the Constitution is concerned. Then, of course, are the rest of the details: how many tax, property, welfare, adoption, insurance, healthcare, housing, and employment benefits laws, policies, and procedures need to be re-writtenfrom scratchto accommodate 3% of society (and that assumes that every gay partnership seeks marriage: the number of gay couples who might truly seek legal marriage is probably less than that by half).
So we end up with this: if you are a liberal, whose psychology forbids any understanding of an issue more than two seconds deep, same-sex marriage is probably a great idea whose time has come. But if you are anyone else, who might ask about repercussions, unintended consequences, or a further morass of legislation and law suits with far-reaching consequences completely unrelated to sexual orientation, you might be inclined to remember that majority rules for good reasons.
For example, there follows a comment from a Republican complaining about the pork in the Stimulus package. Yes, that is a shot about Madame Speaker, but the Czar cannot find any link to the President in that criticism.
Then continues some speculation on how a GOP strategy to drive some sort of wedge could work, in theory, and Mr. Hulse adds, “From Ms. Pelosi’s vantage point, the Republican strategy is simply evidence of their own failures.” Except, Mr. Hulse, you have not listed a single failure. All you provided was a single criticism about Madame Speaker’s involvement in pork creation.
We then wrap up this non-evidentiary strategic analysis with a quote from Ms. Pelosi that she intends to work with the President. Still no evidence of a GOP wedge.
This is the part that entertains the Czar most: Mr. Hulse proceeds to list a few examples, though, of where Ms. Pelosi and the President disagree on political points. Ranging from legislation to the Iraq War, Mr. Hulse’s examples seem to be proving a Democratic wedge may be present. Or a Hulse wedge. Either is equally more supported by facts.
But back to the GOP’s wedge strategy. Ready? The GOP actually sent the President a letter (the most insidious form of wedge document, in eyes of Mr. Hulse) urging him to veto the package. The Czar reels from this Phantom Menace-like strategy, in which one political party sends the President a request not to sign legislation. Of course, Mr. Hulse adds, “there was no specific mention of Ms. Pelosi” in the letter. The Czar realizes how George III could have brilliantly divided and defeated the Northern and Southern colonists by sending a letter to John Hancock asking him not to sign the Declaration. Foolproof.
Sorry, Mr. Hulse. Your opinion piece not only fails to identify a single example of a GOP-plan to divide the Speaker from the President, but frankly did a reasonably good job of creating plausible division from the Democratic side.
Caption: Walt does not approve.
Friday, February 27, 2009
But through all of it, some of us persevered. We made the hard economic choices. We fought off eviction by keeping Linda Mustaine juiced up with mai tais at Applebee's happy hour. We sheltered our dirtbike assets in Kyle's shed, under a tarp, to stave off the repo men. We spent countless hours applying for the credit cards that would see us through. We made the wise economic decision to stop paying our stupid mortgages -- because we calculated that when the rainy day came, Washington would come to its senses and clear up the tab.
And we know that Rahm Emanuel famously doesn’t want a crisis to go to waste.
So…is it possible that the Administration is deliberately attempting to retard economic recovery in order to ratchet up the economic pain in order to get more of their agenda through over the next couple years? If they don’t see a serious GOP threat in 2010, what’s the downside (other than the risk of actually wrecking the economy so comprehensively that it’s even worse by 2012)? It’s not like this crew is short on self-confidence. Could they think, “Hey, let’s use this, we’ll fix it later when it’s convenient?”
Your Volgi doesn’t like to be cynical, but this thought has been troubling him.
Confucius says, perhaps tangentially: The Chinese word for “crisis,” wei¹chi¹* (危機) is not, in fact, composed of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” Wei (危) does mean “dangerous,” but chi (機) is a polysemous element. It appears in “opportunity” (chi¹hui⁴, 機會), but it appears in a lot of other unrelated words. Like “airplane.” Alone it means “desk,” “machine,” or “moment.” So the Chinese understanding of “crisis” may derive from the idea of a “dangerous moment.”
Which seems increasingly apposite.
* Wade-Giles is the official Chinese transliteration system of the Gormogons.
Less reported, but the Czar thinks equally critical, is the same lunacy on the other side. Take, as Exhibit A, RFK Jr.’s screed that vaccinations must surely cause autism, because two incidents (out of millions) coincidentally support his view. The math doesn’t check out, and people are dying.
Or the completely botched mathematics on gun control. Time after time, the arguments for gun control fail to match up with all research...to the point of being reasonably consistent. Folks, no matter how much you argue for gun control, the numbers continue to remain contrary. Admit it, already.
You are free to look at the hushed facts behind Anthropogenic Warming and Alternative Energy as more examples of poor statistical analysis by the liberal community.
So while many on the Right may not know the difference between the Bible and a textbook, the Left seems completely unable to process simple statistics. Both of these have worrisome outcomes for society.
Curiously, the Conservative/Republican/Right (however you want to call it) should be the more scientifically literate. Science increases technology. It promotes great business. It exposes the dangers of nationalized healthcare. It provides for a stronger national defense. Heck, science is the secret premise of The Dark Knight as well as Iron Man (and you know how much you loved them). Science is the safe bet: the whole method is based on the assumption that maybe the assumption is wrong. Rather than endorse and embrace every multi-culti woo-idea no matter how outrageous or fringe, science tends to reason and conclude with care. And all these aspects strike the Czar as conservative values needing to be better embraced.
Please join Mr. Eastwood in the punch bowl.
Kudos to Mr. Eastwood for being the [fecal matter] in the punch bowl.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Loyal Gormogons worldwide (and the Czar is especially pleased by the owner of this Canton, Ohio, liquor store... party on, B&B!) are lucky enough to know how well balanced this group is.
- The Czar salutes Ghettoputer's tireless crusades against the reckless unions, for we both share a suspicion that the difference between unions and organized crime is that at least the omertà keeps the mob somewhat discreet.
- The Czar enjoys GorT's soldierly guarding of the economy, business, energy, technology, and the need to protect it from current domestic politics. The poor guy has really got a lot to do because of the present administration hitting all of those at once.
- The Czar depends upon the Volgi's expansive knowledge of foreign policy, and knows that if he ever needs the proper diacritical elements on a seldom-spoken language, that's the guy you want.
The only thing that the Czar brings to the table is a strongly implanted dose of skepticism. And that must make things a bit scary, for the Czar may not always agree on matters of science and religion. Conversely, the Czar hates the mainstream media even more so than, perhaps, the others here, for the Czar remembers those who went into journalism in college and why they had to.
Finally, the Czar loathes invidividuals who refer to themselves equally in the third person singular and first person plural, except in cases where it fails to conflict with our double standard.
At any rate, we are humbled to be part of this superb organization, knowing full well one of the original members welcomed us with "Pfft. We need the dues."
Bosworth, as link-clickers might read (or you could just take the Czar’s word for it), believes “North Korea is inclined to continue dialogue with the United States and regional powers on its nuclear program.”
The Czar, of course, is not at all confident with Ambassador Bosworth’s enthusiasm. Take, for example, the DPRK’s own Korean Central News Agency, whose Pulitzer-bound coverage of POTUS Obama’s inauguration is slightly more tempered. Okay, you want to click on that link, trust me.
Bosworth added, “I found the North Koreans, I thought, quite inclined toward continued dialogue with the United States....”
Well, again, the Czar is not so optimistic. Yes, they want to talk. And talk. And talk. And stall and stall. No one is confident this will solve much. Nor are the North Koreans, who state that “the U.S. bellicose forces would be well advised to face up to the trend of the times.” The Czar never expected to agree with the KCNA on anything, so this is a bit of a first.
Placating the North Koreans is a losing game. Negotiation with the North is inherently impossible, because negotation assumes that the other party has an equal interest in reaching a satisfactory conclusion; negotiation assumes the other side is reasonable and can identify logical gain. The sad truth, the very trend that our State Department would be well advised to face up to, is that North Korea is the deranged parent holding a gun to his own head while screaming to the police below, as his family cowers in terror at his feet. We had the opportunity to contain the damage, at least, until the late 1990s. However, kindly smiling and asking them to put down the gun and let the kids go, at least, provided them time to get a vastly longer range weapon and bigger payloads. We can neither reason nor contain. We can only watch and wait for now, and continuously remind them that anything less than conformity to the wishes of the US, Japan, China, and of course the South is unacceptable.
As for Ambassador Bosworth’s gleeful goal of equal diplomacy with the North? “Now obviously I was not there speaking for the United States, was not there as an official representative....” Let us hope not. The last time we tried to let them off the leash, they demonstrated their defiance by letting millions of their own people starve to death.
Stimulus = deficit spending (and a resulting increase to the national debt). When you file bankruptcy, tell the judge that you weren't spending money you didn't have, you were rather an integral part of President Obama's stimulus plan.
Enjoy the hope and change!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Obama Administration's proposed remedy is for the federal government to borrow at levels well in excess of its ability to repay and dump the resulting funds into hastily thought out programs purported to stimulate the economy.
Would someone please explain to poor, benighted 'Puter how if a single dose of poison makes you sick, a double dose of the same poison cures what ails you?
Afghanistan, at best, can probably be knit together with agreements between regional warlords and the center—something we have little influence over. And it may be the case that the Taliban, in some form, can’t be kept out (especially now that they don’t merely have ISI backing but control virtually the entire borderlands on the Pakistan side). We should be able to keep them out of Kabul, if we keep a lasting NATO-U.S. presence there, and that may be the best we can do. Our main interest in Afghanistan—like, say, Somalia and Yemen—is to ensure that it doesn’t again become a haven for al-Qâ’ida and its like.
A troop surge and offensive is less likely to work in Afghanistan because the radical elements are more homegrown, and less likely to be turned on in an Anbar Awakening-style scenario, and there’s less of a coherent social structure to take up the slack. Kabul has almost never been able to control the provinces, and in consequence, even if we cleared out, say Panjshir Province, of Taliban, there’s no way that we could hand over control to a national police force. Because, for all intents and purposes, there is no national police force outside a few large cities.
It’s a tough quandary, but Peters’ suggestion of, essentially, an anti-terrorist garrison force is a good point to start thinking of practical options for the future. Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be a war to be won so much as a problem to be managed…
That’s right: according to the exit poll, 26% of the electorate is white evangelicals, and 74% of them voted for McCain. McCain pulled slightly less than 46% of the vote, so about four-in-ten of McCain’s voters were white evangelicalsRead the whole thing. A very good think piece.
To put it in perspective, white evangelicals are nearly twice as important to Republicans as African-Americans are for Democrats. Despite the surge in African-American turnout and the record high percentage Obama received from those voters, blacks comprised only 23% of the winning coalition.
This documents what people have long suspected: the white evangelical community is now the Republican Party’s base. And it creates the challenge all conservatives and Republicans need to answer, how to build a stable majority coalition by building on that base.
Unions spur unemployment, and "there is no question" about it. "High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy." That is the unvarnished conclusion of one of the country's most admired economists. From 1970 to 1985, a state with average unionization had a rate of unemployment 1.2 percentage points higher than a state with no unions. This represented "about 60 percent of the increase in normal unemployment" in that period.Read on.
Okay, a finding from several decades ago may be a bit dated. But the phenomenon of how unionization affects unemployment isn't. Nor is the economist--Lawrence Summers, formerly president of Harvard and now President Obama's chief economic adviser. In this week's Fortune, Nina Easton calls him "the mastermind" of Obama's economic policy. His influence has limits, however, for Obama is aggressively promoting unionization at the worst possible time, smack in the teeth of a deepening recession with soaring unemployment.
Ghettoputer’s head nearly exploded when the Senator He Voted For started bashing his man-crush Piyush.
Also, hey, how about those senile old liberals! I’m sure this will be condemned at least as strongly as “macaca,” right? Right?
The Volgi is billing the Czar for the time it took him to look up that guy’s name in a Star Wars database.
It appears that teachers' unions and their wheelbarrows of campaign cash are more important than the poor to Congressional Democrats.
Perhaps President Obama will make good on last evening's rhetoric by saving this worthy program?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Here's President Obama's planned address, in its entirety.
"[America], you can't spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You f[*]cked up - you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help."
At least it has the benefit of being short and honest.
Meet Stephen A. Turo. Mr. Turo was arrested for sale and possession of prescription drugs. Nothing unusual about drugs in rural areas, 'Puter, you say. What makes this unusual is that Mr. Turo is so fat, tipping the farm scales at over 700 pounds, he had to be brought to court in the back of a U-Haul to answer charges. In the linked article, there's a picture of our hero clad in a gapping button down shirt and a bed sheet for pants.
Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce, you've got your poster boy!
*Seriously, Cayuga County is absolutely gorgeous, as illustrated by the picture of Cayuga Lake above.
It took only two nuclear bombs to get Japan to surrender — and the Japanese of that era were far tougher than most Americans today. Just one bomb — dropped on New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles — might be enough to get us to surrender.Your Volgi isn’t quite so pessimistic, but even a slightly-less horrific scenario—say an Iranian-launched ballistic missile which, thanks to Chinese and Russian advice, detonates above Chicago and EMPs the U.S. electrical grid—is terrifying. There’s not a heck of a lot we can do to change the Iranians’ intentions, only deter them. I don’t believe that the threat of destroying Iran is as vain as Sowell does. The Islamic Republic, whatever its eschatological underpinnings and however sincere the belief of a faction of its leadership in them, has never conducted itself in the reckless fashion of, say, Saddam’s Iraq, with its profoundly miscalculated invasions of two of its neighbors. The Persian game is always long and characterized by indirection. While the mullahs may certainly be willing to fight to the last Hezbollahi or Gazan, and while they are certainly constantly engaged in the exporting of terrorism and attempts to destabilize most of their neighbors, they conduct themselves in a recognizably Machiavellian fashion. I strongly suspect that a secret diplomatic mission that convincingly stated, “Any unexplained nuclear ‘event’ in the U.S. immediately means that Iran becomes a hot, smoking sheet of glass from the Caspian to the Gulf,” would likely give us the kind of Cold War deterrence that’d take the nuke threat away from us. (Israel’s a whole other question, and of course we’d still be faced with the full array of Iranian proxy warfare that we see today).
If we are still made of sterner stuff than it looks like, then it might take two or maybe even three or four nuclear bombs, but we will surrender.
It doesn’t matter if we retaliate and kill millions of innocent Iranian civilians — at least it will not matter to the fanatics in charge of Iran or the fanatics in charge of the international terrorist organizations that Iran supplies.
Ultimately, it all comes down to who is willing to die and who is not.
The question I’ve always had about the incoming administration and their advertised negotiations-first,-second,-and-third strategy might not give the appearance of weakness which leads them to believe that now is the moment to strike with relative impunity.
Also, contra Sowell, I also think that if we lose a city, it’ll be 9/11 times a thousand, and it’ll last longer rather than devolving into partisan nonsense. Especially with a Democrat in office. Republicans will rally ’round the flag; a lot of today’s Democratic pols have shown a disturbing tendency to play the deadly serious worlds of foreign and military policy as chips at the domestic table. Could the GOP give into such a temptation? Maybe, but I haven’t seen much evidence of it yet, and its party generally isn’t home to those who remember “stopping the war in Vietnam” as their generation’s greatest achievement. The GOP split on Clinton‘s Bosnian intervention, along pretty much traditional isolationist-vs.-interventionist lines, rather than “Clinton’s fer it, so we’re agin’ it.” But you never know.
Pray we never find out.
St. Isabel de Aragão, Reinha de Portugal, orem por nós.
St. Maruthas, patron of Iran, pray for us.
*Actually, GorT’s real dad is sort of a Thomas Sowell with engineering cred.
What makes it brilliant is Reuben's tying Aeroflot's cavalier disregard for international regulations with the Russian government's general conduct.
In a larger sense this episode illustrates the degree to which almost all segments of Russian officialdom now feel empowered to ignore the international standards that are supposed to govern the behavior of nations… [It] is just a symptom of a larger nationalistic attitude that says "what the rest of the world thinks does not matter."Just two things to add. One, the Old Europe vs. New Europe dynamic is going to most powerfully develop where it always does: between Germany and Russia. Germany and Russia have a crazy dynamic. They are powerfully attracted to each other and the complementary advantages they can offer each other, yet their culture and national interests invariably create increasing tensions and clashes, until they're razing Eastern Europe in between them. They try everything: from dominating the countries in between to simply eliminating them, as in the three partitions of Poland. Right now, they're in another honeymoon and there’s no threat of war. Russia loves German money and technology, and Germany loves Russian natural resources (Gerhard Schröder loves being Gazprom’s whore) and the (illusory) feeling that they're finally pursuing the Ostpolitik that will finally, this time, at long last, let the bear and the eagle lie down like lion and lamb, and make Germany the bridge between East and West she knows she can be…
It is a small wonder that Tunne Kelam, an Estonian member of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, recently wrote "Europe must stop thinking of Russia as a 'normal' strategic partner. The European Union should forget any notion that Russia is a friend, ally or reliable partner. Russia's strategic interests in Europe directly oppose those of the EU. Moscow wants to split the EU apart and is trying to set old and new member states against each other."
For the sake of those nations close to Russia's border one hopes the rest of the EU figures this out sooner rather than later. In the meantime, avoiding Aeroflot as a choice in air travel seems like a wise precautio
Confucius says: Don’t bet on it.
Second, here’s my favorite Aeroflot story. This happened to a mutual colleague of Reuben’s and mine. This isn’t the usual “they overbooked and so just let people stand in the aisle” or “and then the people brought their animals on board.”
So, Friend is flying back to Moscow with Mrs. Friend, who’s come to visit him in Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, where he’s been working for months. They’re seated in the middle of the plane, just behind the wing. A while into the flight, Mrs. Friend, in the window seat, notices liquid streaming off the wing. She points this out to her husband, a former military guy, who agrees that it is, to say the least, curious, as it doesn't appear to be raining.
Friend, who speaks Russian, flags down the flight attendant and calls it to her attention. She leans over Mr. & Mrs. Friend, scowls, and walks up the aisle without saying a word.
Mr. F assures his wife that things are going to be fine. A few minutes later, the co-pilot appears. Friend tells him the situation, he leans over, scowls, and walks back up the aisle.
Mrs. F is increasingly agitated. By the time the pilot arrives to scowl out the window, she's crying quietly.
F (to pilot, in Russian): That’s fuel, isn’t it?
F: That’s a problem?
P makes ambivalent Russian shrug.
F: Are we going to have enough fuel to make Moscow?
P: We should.
Exit pilot, who—fortunately for all concern—was correct and they landed safely at Sheremetyevo-1.
Fly the scary skies!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
So every year that goes by now, there are new people – especially younger people – watching adult content who think that porn is free. And it’s not good.And—brace yourself!
People start to buzz, ’Tubes are killing us – where can I get a good script?’Your Volgi is high on Schadenfreude. While pornography is one of the principle drivers of internet technology (along with geekdom), it’d be terrific for it to deal a death blow to one of the most despicable (if insanely profitable) industries out there and return sleaze to the hazy demimonde it once occupied, even if the universal-availability horse has long bolted the barn. Maybe at least it’ll get hotels out the vice business.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Folks have been predicting the end of fossil fuels and the promise of renewable energy since 'Puter's early years. Heck, even Schoolhouse Rock was singing the Energy Blues.
Current renewable/alternative energy programs are nice, but they're right up there with the monorail from The Simpsons Marge vs. the Monorail episode. That is, in theory, they look great, but in actuality, you're left with a device used to separate taxpayers from their money.
As to Czar's reference to beaming microwaved solar energy from space to Earth, 'Puter much prefers The Matrix's humans-as-batteries idea. But 'Puter gets to pick the humans.
Upstate's got several wind farms in the Southern Tier. They look otherworldly, and nearby residents complain of noise from the rotating blades. Also, they just don't seem to be reliable energy generators, as the wind comes and goes, well, like the wind.
Nuclear power is the solution to the immediate problem that will permit commerce to work out feasible long-term energy issues (e.g., economical solar cells, etc.).
Something's got to give in order for the United States to make serious progress on its energy issues. Environmental and other regulations must be curtailed to permit quick siting and construction of new generation and transmission facilities. Currently, states and municipalities can tie up worthy projects, beneficial to millions, for years at a time. Just ask New York City about tiny Upstate communities in the Catskills putting the kibosh on an interstate electric transmission line, needed to feed New York City's growing energy needs. Of course, with Wall Street crashing and residents fleeing confiscatory taxes, New York may not need new capacity after all.
The other 48 United States Senators not from Nevada should tell Harry Reid to pound sand and open up the Yucca Mountain disposal facility. Or at least allow nuclear waste reprocessing as France does. Heck, invite the Froggies in to show us how it's done. No sense in reinventing the wheel.
In sum, for the near term, build nukes and tell the locals to piss off, reprocess the waste and build tons and tons of interstate (and local) transmission lines. In the long term, demand plus potential huge profits plus time equals realistic alternative energy sources.
And Max Schulz is the cutest of all Friends of Gormogons, at least in 'Puter's hazy memory.
First, Professor Baktybek Abdrisaev, former ambassador of Kyrgyzstan, writes that U.S. policy towards Kyrgyzstan became reduced to simply maintaining our airbase at Manas. He have preferred we’d have continued to press the government towards democracy and openness. As does the Volgi, but Prof. Abdrisaev, in his sorrow for his country’s political regression, underestimates the diplomatic dilemma with which the Foreign Service is presented in such an instance.
Say we’ve got a strategic airbase in Country X, and the government there is getting more repressive. The State Department tells the GoX on the q.t. (or, if they’re really fired up because some protestors got shot, say, delivers a démarche) saying, “Hey, dudes, get your act together. We disapprove.” Logically, the next step is a carrot or a stick, and since you don’t want to reward this kind of stuff*, it’s Hammertime. So what’s your stick? “We can move our airbase.” Except, say, Country X is strategic precisely because you don’t have a lot of options for airbases. And you know as soon as these words pass your lips, the defense attaché is sending frothing all-caps e-mails back to the Pentagon, which will result in the Secretary getting involved, and eventually you’ll get a “knock it off” telegram. Plus, you don’t like lying. Who needs the hassle?
So, you got nothing. Plus, you’re an American. You don’t really do diplomacy in the classical sense of pursuing your country’s interests by guile and misdirection. You are good at practical stuff, like managing the relations between State and their Foreign Ministry, and Defense and their MoD. So it‘s easier and a lot more rewarding to focus on the details of keeping the base open.
So you just tell ’em, “Hey, we’re not happy about that anti-democratic stuff.” They nod, and assure you that your concerns will be taken terribly seriously, and then they keep their heads down in case the increasingly authoritarian government comes after them. And relations slide and become increasingly based on process, like keeping an airbase open.
This is not to crap on State—there are great people doing great jobs there, and I have no reason to believe that this is what happened in Kyrgyzstan. But this is a pattern that happens frequently in American diplomacy. See America comma Latin; Iran comma Shah of; &c.
The second piece, which echoes in a different way, Prof. Abdrisaev’s concern for the lack of American assertion in the world is the usually excellent Charles Krauthammer running down the foreign-policy ploys our enemies (and weak allies) have tested the Obama Administration with. Krauthammer worries that we’re supine before these challenges. It’s always hard to judge at first glance what, exactly, is going on in diplomatic and miltiary circles, as so much of it is done sub rosa, but Krauthammer has legitimate reasons to worry, given the “Negotiations Now, Negotiations Forever” tone that Obama took in the campaign, as well as their aespparent disdain for any assertion of American interests by President Bush (why the eff would we want to suddenly suck up to Putin that Chekist Хуй® when he’s the one making aggressive moves by wanting to put offensive missiles in Kaliningrad?) Krauthammer concludes:
I would like to think the supine posture is attributable to a rookie leader otherwise preoccupied (i.e., domestically), leading a foreign policy team as yet unorganized if not disoriented. But when the State Department says that Hugo Chávez's president-for-life referendum, which was preceded by a sham government-controlled campaign featuring the tear-gassing of the opposition, was "for the most part . . . a process that was fully consistent with democratic process," you have to wonder if Month One is not a harbinger of things to come.Let‘s hope the hell not.
Last, the Post sounds the right note of modesty relative to our ability to deal with the nightmare hermit psychopaths of SLORC.
Mr. Obama should conduct a policy review, by all means. But he must stick to the priorities implied in his inaugural address: If the United States is to extend a hand to Burma†, that country's tyrants must first relax their grip on power.Let’s hope Secretary Clinton and anyone else involved in the review resist the temptation to claim a diplomatic “coup” by merely holding negotiations (which can only result in a North Korean-style giveaway…go re-read the footnote).
In all of these situations, too, it’s useful to remember the Volgi’s Fallacy of Foreign-Policy Egocentrism. It ain’t always about you.
- Country X is not going authoritarian because you’re not arguing hard enough against it—your arguments, carrots and sticks, can affect the dynamic, even reverse it, if you’re lucky and good.
- Countries outside the democratic world don’t perceive primarily perceive you as benevolent or mean, first comes “strong” or “weak.”
- And, sometimes you can’t fix the problem. Period. You’ve just got to manage it.
†We speak English and do not truckle to dictators. It’s Burma and Rangoon, dammit.
There's an unavoidable problem with renewable-energy technologies: From an economic standpoint, they're big losers. Renewables simply cannot produce the large volumes of useful, reliable energy that our economy needs at attractive prices, which is exactly why government subsidizes them.
The subsidies involved are considerable. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in early 2008 that the government subsidizes solar energy at $24.34 per megawatt-hour (MWh) and wind power at $23.37 per MWh. Yet even with decades of these massive handouts, as well as numerous state-level mandates for utilities to use green power, wind and solar energy contribute less than 1% of our nation's electricity.
Compare the subsidies to renewables with those extended to natural gas (25 cents per MWh in subsidies), coal (44 cents), hydroelectricity (67 cents), and nuclear power ($1.59). These are the energy sources (along with oil, which undergirds transportation) that do the heavy lifting in our energy economy.
Back even before the Czar of Muscovy was born, Nikola Tesla had hit upon the wicked idea for broadcast power, by which you send electricity over long distances without the use of wires.
The only two problems with it? Well, first, he evidently figured out how to do it, but thought the technology so absurdly self-obvious that he never wrote the procedure down and died thereafter. And of course, like most wireless technology, its pretty tough to capture the usage down so that your utility company can bill for it: one of the reasons that the air you breathe is one of the few things more or less untaxed on Gods brown earth.
Turns out, both problems may be solved. Peter Sage, the apparently-only-eighteen guy to the right (his biography says he founded an anti-aging company, so perhaps hes well over 340) and his company Space Energy seems to have figured out a nifty way to do just that.
So get this. You pop a couple of satellites in orbit with big solar panels on them. No real leap in technology there: just keep them pointed at the sun. Then, with the electricity that produces (here comes the clever bit), you simply convert it a microwave beam and shoot a very weak and harmless pulse down to a big recollector on Earth. Actually, not too different from how satellite television works, really. But instead of getting the Logo network introducing your unattended kids to shrilly gay fetishes, you power up a crapload of houses with clean power.
For the first time, the Czar found a solar energy plan that actually makes sense, and uses technology thats fairly proven. This Czar a lot of hopes for this company, which is currently building the first satellite of what one hopes would be many.
This is way better than the other Hollywood-level idiocy masking as alternative energy these days.
Wind power works, but is expensive to build and gobbles up crucial real estate...except in desolate areas where there is no need for power. Sadly, land-based solar power suffers from the same problem: the only place to put efficient fields of panels is where no one wants them. [And the transmission costs and en-route power losses render destroy any chance of profitably in getting them into most major cities. —ŒV]
Electric cars, of course, work reliably, run silent, and produce no terrible emissions for the entire fifty feet before they whirr to a golf-cart like stop, dead. Oh, and recharging them in your garage requires a heckuva lot of juice from your nasty coal-fired plants.
Hybrid technology makes cars partially electric, but there is a reason that Prius owners are dumping them to the point that theres a glut of them on the market: the battery replacement costs (needed after about 3,000 recharge cycles) are exorbitantly expensive. Did you think Toyota, selling them at an initial loss, was going to ignore the chance to recoup the investment with interest? Pretty soon, the only folks who can afford these cars will be the megamillionaire A-list celebs insisting you drive them. [Give away the razor, make money on the blades.]
Hydrogen, many bet, will be the next salvation: its only emission is pure water. That is, if you discount the horrific expense of producing pure hydrogen which absolutely hates to stay at ground level. That is, of course, why the Germans filled the Hindenberg with it. There is, of course, a reason why they stopped.
But more pragmatically, there are only two ways to get hydrogen into a car. One is to compress it so enough of it fits into a standard-size car; however, the weight of tanks make it less efficient than gasoline (about 5 mpg). The second method is to use solid hydrogen, which is pretty much a perfect solution aside from the nagging issue of it never having being invented. Current hydrogen manufacturing methods are greener than gasoline refining, except that there are only a handful of places that do it. Increase production to match the number of cars in the US that would need it, and the electrolysis and steam reforming methods wind up using more energy than gasoline! [GorT, where’s my $!ing cold-fusion reactor in my car? I want to have an accident where my only hazard from the fuel supply is that I end up talking three octaves higher from the cloud of helium. —ŒV]
Geothermal power, like hydrodynamic power, suffers a bit in that the good sources have already been taken: by spas, national parks, or angry, lava-spewing volcanoes. Yeah, you could dig yourself a new, vastly safer source, but if you have a drill that reliably goes ten miles down, youre already using it to drill for oil and making a significantly bigger and faster profit.
Nuclear power is an easy alternative that could be used today to solve most of the world energy needs with almost zero pollution or foul emissions. However, the liberal environmentalists did an excellent smear job in the 1970s and 1980s that no one wants to suggest building a facility in your neighborhood. Not because they believe there is a real risk of a Soviet-style Chernobyl (the Soviets understood nuclear technology as well as they understood economics, military leadership, and fashion), but because it would be a confession that they were dead wrong on another science and technology issue. [NUCLEAR $!ING POWER! NUCLEAR $!ING POWER! NUCLEAR $!ING POWER! NUCLEAR $!ING POWER! —ŒV]
So there is something delightfully middle-fingerish about a handful of entrepreneurs using business to solve a future world problem. The Czar wishes them a lot of luck: soon, the Hollywoodies will come flying out of Mastros Steakhouse to scare the world away from the dangers of your space-based radiation beams giving children cancer, pausing only to slip into the nearest tanning bed for a good hourlong soak.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
You can have my porn when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!
OK, mixing "porn" and "'Puter" and "hand" all in the same thought is enough to make any otherwise sane person try to stab out his mind's eye with a knitting needle. Sorry.
*Kudos to the New York Daily News headline writer for a Gormogon worthy job.
The 'Puter family visited the world headquarters of Vivid Entertainment and Larry Flynt's enterprise. Actually, we just drove by on our way to Universal, as Mrs. 'Puter refused to stop. Mrs. 'Puter also slugged 'Puter for innocently inquiring of 'Puter's local hosts whether Vivid Entertainment had a theme park like Universal.
'Puter thanks California for its hospitality in providing three rain drenched days with highs in the lower 50s for his vacation. That said, Southern California is a fantastically beautiful place, and well worth at least one trip.
As soon as you ask the government to give you health care, it becomes in its interest to keep it away from you.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
President Obama has cried that past policies (I would assume he's talking about Bush and/or the republicans tax cut ideas) are "failed policies". But aren't the spend, spend and spend some more to stimulate the economy failed policies as well? Look at what Roosevelt's Treasury Secretray wrote in his diary: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And enormous debt to boot.” Even Obama's pick for his Economic Advisory Council chair believed the same. It took a war to recover. A war, that we don't want now, I'm sure. World War II took many men out of the workforce via the draft (articifically lowering unemployment as the workforce size was reduced) and the needs of the war and recovery afterwards drove the economy. Innovations during the war (some started before, but many generated and pursued heavily during the war) really helped expand the American economy. Some will decry that it was all spending, but ask anyone who lived through World War II and you'll hear stories of rationing and limited supplies - restrictions we are no where near these days. Americans need to start living within their means - this practice of living on credit is largely to blame for the current crisis we're in today. Follow the thread further and you'll see that by living within our means, the economy will have to contract a bit. After World War II, the Baby Boomer generation started - a growth in American population that helped drive the economy. More people needed more items and desired more variety. Now, at the current birth rates, we're actually stable and maybe shrinking (unless you consider immigration and some illegal immigration). Fewer people mean less putting money into the federal government's hands, into Social Security (while more are talking it out), and less demand on the marketplace.
It's really time that people wake up and see Obama for who he is. He is a masterful debater and political strategist who is using "false arguments" (i.e. democrats are for the stimulus bill which will help the economy and republicans are against it and want to do nothing) to manipulate the public. We need to put a stop to these endless bailouts and stop the blind following of the fear mongering about the economy - a pledge that Obama managed to break within the first two weeks of office.
They nod, and the newcomer says Didja hear about A-Rod?"
"Dude," says the elder, Every bodhi has heard about it."
Based on this conversation, we can only conclude that the reader also has heard about Alex Stare Roidriguezs suspiciously lawyerly confession that, yes, he too used performance-enhancing drugs with the Rangers. This comes as a shock to most baseball fans, of course, who naturally assumed that his Herculean (or perhaps Icarian) rise to baseball glory was caused either by the will of God or, perhaps, his carving a Wonder Boy bat out of a lightning-struck tree.
And Bud Selig, who as baseballs commissioner makes Casablancas Captain Renault a jack-booted draconian by comparison, is shocked, shocked to find drug abuse in the Major Leagues. And mark his words, there will be a reckoning, my friends, because this time hes had it.
Just as he had it when Barry Bonds grew horns from his head and began to gore anything with a red cape two months ago. Just as he had it when Roger Clemens vomited syringes up a little while back while denying any involvement with PEDs. Just as he was consumed with righteous wrath that when Mark McGwire dodged Congress’s questions about the time he jacked a home run that broke a window in Nintendo’s headquarters building when it finally landed in downtown Kyoto.
And just as he buckled up his stomping boot when Jose Canseco simplified his accusations of MLB drug abuse by stapling together the last decade-and-a-half’s worth of lineup cards from every major-league team.
The Czar of Muscovy hates to say it, Bud, but your relentless quest for reform is looking every bit as passionate as O.J.s hunt for the real killers.
Lets not kid ourselves. There are two reasons why you’ve limited your search to your Milwaukee office (which the Czar has been to, and admits has a very freaking cool elevator lobby).
The first reason is, naturally, money. When you took the helm of the Majors, baseball was laughably dull. Suddenly, the power game was on. As former Cub Doug Glanville stated recently, ballplayers only get the big bucks if they bring in the crowds which waned so dramatically after the 1994 strike and cancellation of the World Series. The bigger the numbers you hang on the green board, the bigger the numbers on your check. Its an easy 1:1 that even a horribly starved minor leaguer can figure out: hit home runs, and your paycheck goes up. (By the way, the Czar was stunned by Glanvilles eloquence in the actual radio interview, and strongly suggests that the intellectual Glanville immediately replace the rambling Jon Miller on ESPN; the Czar has every reason to think that at this very minute, Miller is missing a critical play on some crucial sporting event so he can lovingly reminisce in shattered detail on what 1978 Phillies pitcher Wayne Twitchell mistakenly ordered for breakfast in a Houston diner...and the Czar apologizes for his own ramble down the old side alleys of distraction, as meandering and musty as Tommy Lasorda’s sock garters…)
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who contrary to myth is not a member of the Ignorant Racist Loud-Mouth Association (application pending, though), openly wondered why so many of the exposed juiced players are Hispanic: Could there be, I dunno, a sinister force working against los Latinos de beisból?
Ahhhhh…no. Its about money, Ozzie. When youre a starving kid from the Dominican Republic, and your whole family is living in literal filth, you find a little baseball talent makes you a bit of money. And performance enhancers, which always seem to be sold over the counter in your home town, are evidently available in vending machines. You slather on a little cream or have your “cousin” drive a syringe into your assnothing too much, mind youand suddenly youre hitting 12 home runs a year. And your check goes up for next season. Slather on some more of the cream, and maybe a little of the clear, and now youre at 20 dingers. Now youre a star, and your entire family is moving out of a cardboard box into a house in a nice Santiago Domingo neighborhood. But next season, the contract is immense. You want a five-year, 20-million deal? Fine: keep those numbers. And so, inevitably, out comes the two-year-old tube of cream and your bleached syringe.
Which leads us to the second reason. The players union. Here it is, and youve heard it before: every player on every team can look at his teammates and point out which ones are juicing. You just dont ever, ever reveal it. Because no good union drone ever blows the whistle on another without retribution. Why? Because if he loses the big bucks, you lose the big bucks. Reality comes back to baseball, and soon the megamillion contracts begin to shrivel like a pair of androstenedione-soaked testes.
So if four of your teammates are improving their numbers by self-medicating—even if you aren’t, and even if you object—you shut your mouth. You act all surprised, and say youre outraged. Or do like the Yankees and “support your teammate.”Do that, and the checks keep coming. True for a bench player. True for an All-Star. True for a commissioner.
Pitcher Ted Lilly recently argued that revealing which players fail their drug tests is deplorable, because the possibility exists that innocent, hard-playing guys could be thrown out of the game, if corruption leaks into the system.
That sounds great, but Ted is a union steward for his team. Its the old song-and-dance about non-union personnel risking others lives and limbs. If he were a school teacher, he might say that allowing non-union teachers into the classroom is deplorable, because their lack of mentoring and screening could result in a dangerous incompetent teaching your kids. Or a non-union city sanitation worker lacking the training to unblock a sewer line correctly. And so on. And so on.
So forgive us if we’re a tad dubious of Buds profound, profound outrage.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Whither hath yon ’Puter gone? He’s off doing some secret Gormogon work in the belly of the beast. All I’m saying is don’t be shocked to see this soon…
Folks, theres little funny about autism: not to the parents, nor the families and friends, and not least to the sufferers themselves. Even had there been a link been childhood vaccinations and autism, no amount of settlement money would change a thing; the smarter horse on which to bet is the ongoing scientific research, which has done a remarkable job in only the last ten years of identifying the many facets of the disorder. An interesting bit there: the recent reported upsurge in autism diagnoses seems to be right in line with improved diagnostic techniques. How about that? Almost as if it was the other way around...that improved diagnostic methods are discovering a wider degree of affliction.
Regardless of the courts decision, which is right by the way, the research continues. Recent developments are beginning to map out the disorder, and the last ten years of progress have outpaced the last ten years of attacks on mandatory childhood vaccinations. The major media frat party, once more, is obsessed with the wrong side of the story.
But this is a celebrity cause célèbre, dont forget: Jenny McCarthy, who claims to have healed her son of autism by feeding him a diet of what appears to be ingredients for packaging glue, has yet to comment on the decision. She may not need to: she has convinced a fairly vociferous contingent of parents (parents of autistic children as well as parent of otherwise unaffected kids) that she, a college drop-out who evidently applied to Playboy for research grant money, knows significantly more about neuroscience, physiology, and medicine that every other researcher except one. Thats quite a feat when your clothes keep falling off like that.
I kid. Actually, if her son has progressed beyond a more crippling form of a spectrum disorder, I think thats remarkable and worth celebrating. Maybe her program works; but she is flat out wrong to join on the anti-vaccination bandwagon.
Hang on. Lets talk about that one researcher. Know who Andrew Wakefield is? Just as Global Warming can be traced to the zeal of one Roger Revelle, the vaccinations = autism scare can be traced to the efforts of Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield published the firstand seemingly onlypaper claiming to link the two, back in 1998. For ten years, Wakefield has claimed the victory of seeing mandatory childhood vaccination efforts decline worldwide, while conveniently ignoring the sudden increase in preventable diseases in first-world countries. Fatal diseases, by the by. He has not, so far as we can tell, prevented a single case of autism, but people like you and me are dying by other means.
As Peter Falk would say, Just one more thing. Did an autism parent activist named Rosemary Kessick hire an attorney named Richard Barr in mid-Nineties, in an effort to start a lawsuit against mandatory vaccinations? And did Barr hire Wakefield in 1996 to drum up evidence that vaccines cause autism? And was this not two years before his astonishing research paper that claimed just that?
Worse still is the recent terrifying secretand by secret, we mean beyond the mainstream medias basic ability to report on a story that would clear this mess upthat peer researchers have not only failed to duplicate his results, they cannot even find Wakefields own evidence within his purported test samples.
Frauds continue to rack up the body count worldwide, the media fawns over medical research giants Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, and parents crushed by the tragedy of autism are dealt another time-wasting blow by faceless nameless courts (who actually read the evidence and make decisions based on the way things are). And quietly, in small, under-funded corners of research labs, the real work on autism continues.