Thursday, February 28, 2002
There is a 50/50 chance that an Air India plane in the air, right now, en route to JFK, has a person on the current terrorism watch list on board. Let's hope that carrier doesn't have the DirecTV service in each seatback...
LET THEM STARVE
The detainees at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike.
The soundtrack for "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou" wins album of the year, but isn't even nominated for soundtrack of the year. Raise your hand if you really think these award shows are legit.
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
This from Opinion Journal:
The Web site for Black Entertainment Television includes the following blurb for a news story: "Vonetta Flowers becomes the first African American, from any country, to win gold at the Winter Olympics."
Just more evidence that ridiculousness of politically correct speech. I suspect that if you were to ever call Lennox Lewis an African-American to his face, there is a chance he might hit you.
My first cut-and-paste save with the post below. Blogger really should extend the time value of their login cookies.
UN STRIKES AGAIN
Sydney, Australia has a safe place for drug users to go to do their drugs. I cannot tell if the user has to bring their own drugs, but even if the city provides them for sale, the simple fact is that users are going to use, so why not have them do it in a place where medical and councelling services are available? It seems to be working:
More than 800 clients had been referred to counsellors and other medical services and more than 100 overdoses had been successfully treated.
There had been no fatalities at the centre.
Lives have been saved and people have been helped. So naturally, the UN is condemning the operation.
Lack of common sense seems to be breaking out everywhere. While I was an undergrad at Columbia, the school's alcohol policy underwent some major changes. The net result of which was that students would just go off campus. College students drink and nothing will change this. I don't understand why the school and their insurance agencies would rather have them staggering around Manhattan rather than on campus where heath services and security is near at hand.
Monday, February 25, 2002
LIFE IMITATES ART
Wow. Ex-CIA director compares makes the anaolgy of US is to Europe today as Marshall Will Kane was to the citizens of Hadleyville in "High Noon." Just read it, its an apt comparison. Its also on Opinion Journal - I really do go elsewhere for editorial comment, but nothing else caught my eye today.
WHY DO THEY HATE US?
Opinion Journal has a lengthy piece today by Victor Davis Hanson, a military historian, and it is worth the time to read. Im afraid there isnt a single paragraph I can cite which sums everything up because it touches well on so many aspects of the east-west relationship, but the subtitle reflects what is certainly becomming something that you hear more and more these days: "They hate us because their culture is backward and corrupt."
Rich Haley's Top 10 signs you've blogged too much. None of these apply to me at the moment, but Rich, did you do #4 when Professor Reynolds linked this list?
OK, North American hockey reigns supreme: Canada takes the gold, USA the silver. Can we please return now to how it is supposed to be? The argument about professionals in the olympics was born from the reality that the Soviet Red Army team was not amateur. They were "soldiers" who spent all their time playing hockey and the state took care of them, and our professionals were in the NHL. Well, the Russian team was full of NHL players this year, now that that country allows the players to come over here, the old point is moot. Although its a marketing coup for the NHL that they will probably never willingly forfeit, I think we should go back to amateurs. No player on any professional team roster at any level, or above the level of "junior team" should be allowed to play. Id much rather see a game with a first line of Darren Haydar, Nate DiCasmirro and Colin Hemmingway, backed up by defensemen like Jim Lahey, and Ryan Miller in net. If you stack them up against Belarus or Germany, the 2 teams with virtually no NHL stars, they would have been able to compete.
Also, why have 2 tiers of teams with only half of them there with any chance of winning a medal? And why do all 8 teams in the upper tier survive the round-robin stage? Actually, I know the answer: to let the USA, Canada, Russia, and Sweden all get into the semifinals. When these teams first start playing together, it takes a while to mesh into effective units, and lord knows, we can't afford to lose ratings by having an upstart like Austria bump off a favorite because Mike Modano doesnt yet know the stickhandling nuances of Brett Hull. But then again, Belarus (1 NHL player) did beat Sweden (19) in the quarters. Maybe next time, only 4 will qualify...
Have you ever seen a celebration after a quarterfinal game that so dwarfs the one after the gold medal game? We will never see anything like 1980 again unless they allow the Polands, Austrias, Switzerlands, and Ukranes a chance. 4 pools randomly made up of 4 teams, top 2 in each qualify for the quarterfinals. Simple.
And bring back the amateurs.
Don't even get me started on baskeball...
Friday, February 22, 2002
The Wall Street Journal has an editorial piece about the execution of Daniel Pearl. One thing they painfully do not address is the western journalistic mindset that they are immune to persecution because they are "independant and objective":
He was a noncombatant, an American journalist trying to understand and explain the Islamic world to his readers.
As we have seen through this execution, and the deaths of some 8 journalists since October, this is no longer a safe assumption. Journalists are being targetted. Explanations that our media is objective and wants to convey the truth to an awaiting American (or British, French, German, etc) audience will fall on deaf ears. Why? Because there is no such thing as a free press in most of the world, and in fact, the press is usually an avenue of spreading propaganda. The WSJ does touch on this fact, but does not elaborate farther:
Danny Pearl committed his career, and has now given his life, to uncovering facts that would let the world better see the shape of its own dilemmas. That includes, perhaps especially, the Islamic world that often lacks a free press and is thus more vulnerable to propaganda. Danny was not some thrill seeker out to cover a war zone. He was someone who believed, as nearly all journalists do, that by exploring the truth about events the world will be better able to confront and solve its problems.
In a culture in which they have no comprehension whatsoever of an objective and impartial journalist, why should they believe that one of ours is any different? Maybe this time our journalists will learn that although they may be fair, they need to take more security precautions, and maybe even pass up some tempting stories, because the other side doesn't play by the same rules.
ENERGY POLICY HYSTERIA
I've read emails from parties such as the Sierra Club, and others forwarded from newsgroups (usually the same emails with unresearched shrill and hyperbolic comments inserted throughout) which criticize the administration's energy policy and choose to ignore some of its major points, instead they simply choose to focus on its call to build more power plants and study the possibility of drilling in ANWR. However, until today, I had yet to see an evaluation that takes into account all the major points of the proposal (taken from the overview):
America's energy challenge begins with our expanding economy, growing population, and rising standard of living. Our prosperity and way of life are sustained by energy use. America has the techonological know-how and environmentally sound 21st century technologies needed to meet the principal energy challenges we face: promoting energy conservation, repairing and modernizing our energy infrastructure, and increasing our energy supplies in ways that protect and improve the environment. Meeting each of these challenges is critical to expanding our economy, meeting the needs of a growing population, and raising the American standard of living.
Business Today has an essay written by Suzanne Tomlin, a senior majoring in government at the University of Texas - Austin, which does just that.
Do we need to conserve energy? Yes. Do we need to explore alternative sources of energy? Yes. Do we need to protect the environment? Yes. Can this be done overnight without seriously compromising the standard of living of every American, and effecting our ability to develop the technologies required to do these very things? No.
As an example I note the automobile industry: whenever I get some of these emails, I am reminded of a Honda TV ad I saw last year. Somewhere in the heartland of America, a Volkswagen Bus is at a stop sign. The back is covered in peace stickers, anti-war slogans, "save the planet" stickers, etc. Then the screen flashes the vehicle's mpg rate (it was somewhere in the 10-15 mpg range). While it is stopped, a new car comes alongside. Its mileage, 60mpg or so. Walk the walk, people. This is a market economy and you must work within that system to effect change. Vote with your wallets. Field of Dreams had "If you build it, they will come." It doesn't quite work that way here, its more like "If you want it, they will build it." Honda is apparently offering their hybrid engine in the 2003 Civic, and this is a great start to get people to buy more fuel-efficient cars (the Insite is ugly, and that stops people from buying them, however I also heard there is a waiting list). When I move out of the city, the Civic is a car I will definately look into purchasing. When Honda and Toyota's market share starts to take off like it did in the 70s when they brought in the 30mpg cars, Detroit will take notice and follow suit. Mandate a minimum fuel-efficiency standard, and auto-makers will drag their feet and spend tons of money lobbying; show them that people will really spend their money on cars that cost less in the long term, and send less money into the coffers of certain foreign governments, and they will trip over themselves trying to get you to buy their own super efficient car.
ICE SKATING JUDGING, US TEEN TAKES GOLD
Sarah Hughes had by far the best performance last night and I am happy that she won. However, for days, we have heard about how you have to be in the top 3 after the short program to have a shot to win the gold. Sarah was in 4th. They did mention after the Russian girl's program that if the top 3 finished in a very specific order, Sarah could win the gold and that is exactly what happened; but why didn't they, then, talk about that to have a shot at the gold, you need to be in the top 4 after the short program?
Update: Kurt Browning just explained this on MSNBC. If you finish the short program in the top 3 and win the long program, you win the gold. If you finish 4th, you need the winner of the short program to finish no greater than 3rd in the long program. Take the short program ordinal placement, divide by 2, and add the long program place. Winner of the long program wins any tiebreaker.
I just spent a bunch of time putting together a post about Danny Pearl. When I go to put it up, Im logged out. I have to get in the habit of cutting and pasting into a text editor before I post. Ill redo it in a while.
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Steven Den Beste writes about how the 4 Moroccans arrested in Italy with cyanide, actually had Potassium Ferrocyanide, non-lethal cyanide chemical mixture. Although this does provide some momentary amusement and shows that the people with whom we are dealing are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, we need to remember that terrorists tried to topple the World Trade Center in 1993. They may not be very smart, but they are willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Rest assured that next time, they won't have Potassium Ferrocyanide. Let's just hope the people who are supposed to be protecting us learn from this as well.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
I have family in town today, so not much posting, sorry. If anything grabs my eye before I go to bed, Ill write it up.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Juan Gato tears apart yet another "Enron scandal proves end of capitalism as we know it" wolf-cryer, this time in the Washington Post.
A world without risk, like Dionne wants, also has no great successes. When I went to work for a startup, I knew full well it could crash. When it did, yes it was because of idiotic management, but I didn't blame the market. Bad decisions made us vulnerable and finally the market killed us as it should have. I was out of work for 6 months, lost my apartment, wracked up some healthy debt and finally had to move two-thirds of the way across the country to find another job, but never once was I foolish enough to say the market must be changed. Plus, in the case of Enron, people were breaking the law. Laws already there.
I'm in pretty much the same boat, but only 2 months unemployed. No move across the country yet, but I did visit a headhunter/consulting agency while in California, and will consider it if something worth such a move comes up. My company was not a startup, but an existing business which translated a certain percentage of its base of operations onto the Internet - the Internet part of it is pretty much finished.
Next time a non-American complains about our legal system, you only have to point to this article over at overlawyered.com. The frivolous lawsuit, aka "wheres my free money?", may not be just an American trait after all. British Telecom claims it has a patent on World Wide Web hyperlinks. There has been discussion about this for a few months, both there and on slashdot, and at first, the suit is being brought against Prodigy. This may be fun to laugh at now, but the ramifications will be severe if not taken seriously.
England invades Spain! (Accidently)
I heard about this earlier today, but forgot to check it out. Luckily, it is on Best of the Web.
The New York City board of education had an outlay in 2001 of $10,513 per student. In comparison, the day student tuition of Exeter and Andover, 2 top private schools, for 2001-2002 is $20,500 and $20,900 respectively. Never mind quantifiable testing results or graduation rates, the city's educational facilities are not even nearly 1/2 as good as either of those private institutions, and faculty/student ratio doesn't even come close. As a businessman, these are the types of numbers at which new Mayor Bloomberg will look. Whether or not he can actually figure out whose pockets are being lined, hopefully, he will be able to get more of that money to be used to actually educate students.
The ice dancing finals was last night and the final finish was France, Russia, Italy. Now check an article from last Friday's New York Post:
The Toronto Globe and Mail has a source insisting the order of finish in the ice dancing competition is already set with France getting the gold, Russia the silver and Italy the bronze.
I did not watch the event, and am not an expert on skating, so this may have been legit, however this is very interesting. It reminds me of the Emmy awards, where the winner is usually the person who should have won last year, but didnt because that winner should have won the year before, and so on... so its pretty much predetermined.
Friday, February 08, 2002
I just started this and already I'm taking a break. I'm going to LA for a long weekend to visit some friends and meet with a headhunter. Then I come back and head directly up to NH for my sister's wedding. If anything jumps at me, Ill post some thoughts, but I hope that the few of you who have come here continue to come back.
I pray I do not have any airport horror stories to share in the near future.
Thursday, February 07, 2002
A passenger on a United Airlines flight has tried to get into the cockpit of a Miami - Buenos Aires flight. Was it the "beefed up" security that stopped him? Nope. Once again, it was the passengers.
Update: A 28-year old Uruguayan banker was banging on the cockpit door and the pilot opened the door. After actually getting into the cockpit, the co-pilot had to subdue the man by hitting him over the head with a fire axe. I guess we should all be thankful that the guy didn't take the axe away from the co-pilot and use it against him, but why did the pilot open the door in the first place?
Police have released the suicide note of Charles Bishop, the 15-year-old who crashed a Cessna into a building in Tampa. After regurgitating anti-US and anti-Israel propaganda, and revealing fantasaies of being recruited by Al-Quaida, he ends the note "with a warning that bin Laden planned to blow up the Super Bowl with a nuclear bomb he said was left over from the 1967 Mideast war." I guess the kid didn't get all his ideas from TV, though, that was the exact plot of Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears. The only difference being that Israel lost the nuke during a 1973 Syrian attack on the Golan Heights.
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
The vanity of the Don... I went skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park on Sunday. Around the rink are 3 places where "TRUMP" is painted on the boards. Thats not the vain part. Under each of these areas is a bumper, whose purpose is to keep skaters from either stopping in front of his name, or from scuffing it up.
The perception of doing something is more important in Washington that actually doing something. Do we really need an economic stiumulus package? I am not an economist so maybe there is an explanation out there somewhere, but it is my understanding that no matter what we do, the economy is cyclic and on the most basic level, as long as technology increases efficiency and the population grows, the economy will trend upward over the long term. It doesn't take a specific act of congress to slow the economy, it will rebound if we just keep our meddling hands off.
Another word we should remove from the American lexicon: bipartisan. Don't be fooled. Any time a politician uses the word "bipartisan," a little bell ought to go off in your head because they are overtly playing partisan politics. Republicans and Democrats have been tripping over themselves to use the word whenever possible lately to say that "its us, not them who is reaching across the aisle." What could be more partisan than that?
And on an anally-rentitive linguistic note, since Senator Jacobs and Congressmen Goode and Sanders are independants, and independands are, in effect, their own party, shouldn't the term be "penti-partisan"?
Ran across this article on Rich Haley's blog. Yet another example of how guns are not dangerous if one respects them, and learns to use them properly.
People are starting to get it! An op-ed in today's New York Times focuses on PayPal, an internet-based service to make online payments. Although Mr Cohen writes the piece to address an audience that is thinking "but its a dot.com, how could it possibly survive?" its pretty good. Anyone that feels that all Internet-based companies are destined to spectacular failure are just as wrong as all those who felt that all Internet-based companies just a few years ago were destined to make them wildly rich. The problem with the "dot.bombs" was their business models. They felt they needed to do something completely new and different because they didnt see the Internet as what it really was: a new tool to do the same things more efficiently. What the fax machine did to postal mail and couriers, the Internet will do to the fax. Will there be new types of companies? Sure, but the vast majority will be based on things we have all seen before. eBay is a fleamarket/auctionhouse, Amazon.com is a bookstore, PayPal is a bank, there is plenty of room left.
Tuesday, February 05, 2002
I voted twice for William Jefferson Clinton. I liked him, although I have no idea why. The past few months have opened my eyes and rearranged my priorities. Over the past few months, I have com to see that I was played by a brilliant politician. Here's the latest.
Monday, February 04, 2002
A Norweigan man has nominated George Bush and Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize. No way they win. Its too bad really, beacuse they have done more over the past 4 months that might actually result in a more peaceful world, than others such as Kofi Anan or Yassir Arafat have done over their entire careers.
OK, I've tried to post this twice and each time, I get logged out for some reason
Alas the demise of adcritic.com, or we would still have a central place to view and vote on the super bowl ads. The price this year was a recession-friendly $2 million per 30 sec and as usual, most companies left a lot to be desired. Annheiser-Busch, however, has used the super bowl very well in the past and this year, they sweep my top three with their Bud Light spots:
Gold: Beer-fetching falcon
Silver: Man feeds pickup lines to buddy at bar
Bronze: Satin sheets
In today's New York Times, Salman Rushdie answers the question "Why do they hate us?"
America-hating has become a badge of identity, making possible a chest- beating, flag-burning rhetoric of word and deed that makes men feel good. It contains a strong streak of hypocrisy, hating most what it desires most, and elements of self- loathing. ("We hate America because it has made of itself what we cannot make of ourselves.") What America is accused of — closed- mindedness, stereotyping, ignorance — is also what its accusers would see if they looked into a mirror.
As a life-long Patriots fan, I can certainly sympathize with the true fans of the St Louis Rams. However, to all the so-called "experts" in the sports media, to the bookmakers in Las Vegas, and to all the armchair quarterbacks who mindlessly regurgitate the phrases they hear over and over on TV, such as "The Rams just have too many tools", I pose 1 question:
How do you like your crow?
Friday, February 01, 2002
Amtrak needs $1.2 Billion or it will have to start cutting routes and employees. This company has a monopoly on long distance passenger rail service, people are actively looking for alternatives to airlines, and they still can't figure out how to make money? I say let them go bankrupt. Im sure there are plenty of corporations out there who would love a piece of the action. Amtrak has relied upon government subsidies for so long, they have become just as bloated and inefficient as the government itself. Take for example the new high speed Acela train. I rode this once from New York to Boston, and it saved a grand total of about 20 minutes than if I had taken a regular metroliner. This is a train that can to 150 miles per hour but rarely does because it stop every 40 miles. A schedule of 8 or 10 non-stop daily trips would create some serious competition with the northeast corridor airline shuttles; but no, they make the thing stop in Stamford, Brideport, New Haven, Providence, etc, etc, etc...
More media-generated hysteria on the way (they have to keep up their ratings, you know). Since President Bush delivered the State of the Union address Tuesday night, the media has been focusing on a plot that was uncovered where terrorists were apparently planning to crash planes into nuclear power plants. Never mind the fact that the passengers of United flight 93 and those that subdued Richard Reid showed that a coordinated attack with multiple hijacked planes will be difficult to pull off, I remember a story running very soon after Sept 11 that addressed just this possibility. I believe it was Fox News, and I am going to try and find something about it online, but years ago, the US government ran an experiment to test the strength of the steel-reinforced concrete walls of nuclear plants. They took an old F-4 fighter plane, put it on a long track, and crashed it at full afterburner directly into one of these 6 or 8 foot thick walls. The result? The plane penetrated about an inch. I understand that an F-4 is not a 747, but why has this story not been re-aired?
Update: I found a link to a story at Physics Today and apparently, the NRC has concluded that the walls of a reactor would probably not withstand the impact and explosion of a fully loaded jumbo jet. However, I still haven't seen detail such as this in the mainstream media.
It looks like Drew Bledsoe's days have been numbered for longer than previously thought. Accouring to the Boston Globe, "In an organizational meeting at the end of training camp, Bill Belichick said Brady was the team's best quarterback".
The media arent very quick learners. First, 8 western journalists are killed in Afghanistan, now a WSJ reporter went under cover in Pakistan and got caught. He was accused first of being an agent of the CIA, then of Israeli intelligence. Meanwhile, the press here denies both accusations (which is probably the truth), but why do media figures keep going on these suicidal missions? They have always been telling us about a "fair and unbiased" media that tells "both sides of the story;" but whether or not that is true, they must realize that the media in most other parts of the world is not fair and unbiased. Is it so shocking that an agent would pose as a journalist to perform a devious act? No, and terrorist groups know this very well because on September 10, Ahmad Shah Masud, leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, was assassinated by agents of Usama Bin Laden posing as... you guessed it, journalists. They dont understand what it is to have a fair and unbiased media, so why should they treat western media any different than their own? Everything in their experience tells them that journalists are merely propagandists, and protestations of "no really, we want to show the world your side," arent going to do much.
Oh boy! Mariah Carey is singing the national anthem at the super bowl. I guess we get to see yet another record in the number of syllables a performer can squeeze into "Oh"
I can't remember who said it, or else I would credit him, but she is there to lead us in the singing of our national anthem, not impress us with some new rendition. She would be best served singing the song as it was written, and having the entire crowd sing with her, especially this year. I'm not going to hold my breath, though, she is, after all, a diva.
LETS GO PATS!!!
I can't believe the spread is still 14. If I could afford to lose the money, I'd be on the phone placing a teaser bet: take the Pats to cover 20, and drop the over/under to 47 1/2 and take the over.
BTW, how fitting is it that in this time of elevated patriotic feeling, that a team called the Patriots makes the biggest game of the year? The Eagles would've been a better opponent to make a true America-themed matchup, but I guess this just means that the Patriots are destined to win.
A lot of stories in the media seem to be about the relative absense of protests so far surrounding the World Economic Summit. I'm not, and I'm sure a lot of other New Yorkers aren't either, because of one simple reason:
Now, I have no doubt that the large protest/parade/whatever that is scheduled for Saturday will indeed happen, but the smaller, spontaneous, events will probably be subdued. Rain has an interesting affect on events in New York City. I have lived in New Hampshire, Northern California, Vancouver (Oct-Feb, when it rained 6 days per week), and France, and of all those places, when you go out in the rain, you get the most wet in New York, and it does become a factor in deciding whether or not to go out. There are many reasons for this, but the ones that immediately come to mind are: people use mass transit in NYC; tall buildings with long, straight streets; and narrow sidewalks. New York relies upon mass transit more than any other city in the nation, and as a result, New Yorkers spend a significant portion of their commute and other daily travels walking. I have a 12 block walk to the subway, and I dont care how big an umbrella you have, a 10-15 minute walk each way in the rain is not fun. Speaking of umbrellas, they dont last long: straight streets flanked on each side by tall buildings creates a wind tunnel effect which destroys even the best LLBean "wind-resistant" umbrella. You can buy them in NYC for $2.00, because you need a new one every 2 or 3 rainstorms. Take a look at the trash cans on the corners next time youre in NYC and its raining, they are full of umbrella skeletons. Finally, narrow sidewalks and speeding yellow cabs assure that you will get a good splashing at least once.
Since a lot of these protestors are rich college kids who need something to do, they will avoid the rain for the same reason, exept for the larger events where they can be seen by others and "send their message". Others will not be out because of the reduced number of New Yorkers on the streets - theres not much point in protesting if noone is around to inconvenience, so why bother?
Tomorrow should be interesting, and I'm glad I don't have any reason to go into Manhattan.
OK a few thoughts before I work on the template:
Why am I doing this? I started reading weblogs about 6 months ago after I stumbled across Professor Glenn Reynolds' InstaPundit site. I got there from a story on overlawyered.com. I got there from slashdot. I followed alot of Prof. Reynolds' links to other sites and was so impressed by the quality of what I read that I had to get into it myself.
That last sentence is complete BS. Not the first part, I really am impressed by many of the sites out there such as Andrew Sullivan's, Tim Blair's, etc, and I will create a link section later; but the simple reason I am doing this is procrastination - and the thought that someone, somewhere, might find my points of view interesting. I've been unemployed since December 21 and the job search is slow. I will, of course, get into this later, because someone, somewhere, might also be able to help me find a job.
Since I'm vainly name-dropping (blog-dropping?) here, I might as well link to my one and only reader mail in reaction to an Usama Bin Laden tape that actually got posted to InstaPundit. And yes, you can add my name to the legions of disciples that Professor Reynolds has brought into the blogging universe.