November 2006 Archives

Here's a neat article about finding the mastermind in a social network... who do you have to eliminate to break the whole thing up? Who's got the real power in the group?

Who’s the most important player in a group? Who’s merely peripheral? Data crunchers find out by plotting people as “nodes” on computerized graphs, forming web-like networks. The links between nodes are then weighed and analyzed using matrix algebra and other tools.

And it's not the "hubs" who know everyone, as you might suspect. Social network analysis (SNA) is an emerging part of artificial intelligence, especially as we struggle to dismantle terrorist networks, and this stuff is pretty cutting edge.

Lots of people wonder what fire is made of, so read and find out.

The glow of a flame is somewhat complex. Black-body radiation is emitted from soot, gas, and fuel particles, though the soot particles are too small to behave like perfect blackbodies. There is also photon emission by de-excited atoms and molecules in the gases. Much of the radiation is emitted in the visible and infrared bands. The color depends on temperature for the black-body radiation, and chemical makeup for the emission spectra. The dominant color in a flame changes with temperature. The photo of the forest fire is an excellent example of this variation. Near the ground, where most burning is occurring, it is white, the hottest color possible for organic material in general, or yellow. Above the yellow region, the color changes to orange, which is somewhat cooler, then red, which is cooler still. Above the red region, combustion no longer occurs, and the uncombusted carbon particles are visible as black smoke.

So the flame itself consists of glowing, burning particles that rise due to convection and are called smoke and soot when they cool.

I don't know much about reading the weather because we didn't have much of it in Southern California. However, now that I'm in the middle of a blizzard in Missouri I guess it's time to learn.

Jessica and I were talking yesterday about human nature and the inherent flaws of meritocratic organizations. People want power and recognition for its own sake, and those who tend to rise high within an organization are often hard workers not because they care about the organization or its goals, but because of their lust for power.

I doubt anyone would disagree with that simple observation, which is why our culture frowns on people who derive personal benefits from organizational power. The pastor of a megachurch shouldn't get a "company" limo, and the CEO of a corporation can't use his insider information to profit on the stock market. The salary and benefits paid by an organization should be high enough to align the powerful employees' goals with those of the organization, and most corporate structures are designed that way. However, such a structure was not envisioned when our Constitution was written, and so our legislators are preoccupied with power and prestige because their goals do not align with ours.

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. ...

It may seem like a minor matter, but members of the commission say Congress's failure to change itself is anything but inconsequential. In 2004, the commission urged Congress to grant the House and Senate intelligence committees the power not only to oversee the nation's intelligence agencies but also to fund them and shape intelligence policy. The intelligence committees' gains would come at the expense of the armed services committees and the appropriations panels' defense subcommittees. Powerful lawmakers on those panels would have to give up prized legislative turf.

But the commission was unequivocal about the need.

"Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important," the panel wrote. "So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need."

I'm certainly not a huge fan of the 9/11 Commission, but this recommendation appears eminently sensible. It's clear that the congresscritters who currently control the intelligence budget aren't eager to keep it because they think they're doing a better job than anyone else could, but rather because it pumps up their portfolio.

To the Sept. 11 commission, the call for congressional overhaul was vital, said former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean (R), the commission's co-chairman. Because intelligence committee membership affords lawmakers access to classified information, only intelligence committee members can develop the expertise to watch over operations properly, he said. But because the panels do not control the budget, intelligence agencies tend to dismiss them.

"The person who controls your budget is the person you listen to," Kean said.

Those people, the appropriators, do not seem to care much, he said. The intelligence budget is a small fraction of the nearly $500 billion overseen by the armed services committees and the appropriations panels' defense subcommittees. Kean said that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an Armed Services Committee member, told the Sept. 11 commission that if his panel spends 10 minutes considering the intelligence budget, it has been a good year.

Professionally, people are motivated by only a few things: money, power, and prestige. It might make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside to hope that our legislators are altruistic and only have our best interests at heart, but anyone who watched any campaign ads earlier this month knows that isn't true. Our Constitutional system is designed to reward successful congressmen with reelection -- power and prestige -- but that's a rather blunt instrument when applied every two years.

I'm not sure if there's an effective way to harness the power of money to force our politicians to align their goals more closely with those of the public, short of what many would consider to be outright bribery. Maybe the system we've got is the best possible, but given that it isn't based on capitalistic competitive principles I doubt that's the case.

My Hitachi 50UX23K television (ca. 1995) is acting a little funny but it's rather hard to find technical information about products from before the Internet age. There are several companies selling PFD versions of the service manual, but it seemed absurd to pay $10 or more for an unauthorized electronic copy... and I was right! eServiceInfo provides free services manuals and schematics for all sorts of electronics. If you've got something old that you'd like to repair, check there before paying anyone for anything.

I might just have to order this new book so I can understand my wife.

In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.

And, if that wasn't enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high.

Dr Brizendine, a self-proclaimed feminist, says the differences can be traced back to the womb, where the sex hormone testosterone moulds the developing male brain.

The areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory are all pared back the unborn baby boy.

The result is that boys - and men - chat less than their female counterparts and struggle to express their emotions to the same extent.

"Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," said Dr Brizendine, who runs a female "mood and hormone" clinic in San Francisco.

There are, however, advantages to being the strong, silent type. Dr Brizendine explains that testosterone also reduces the size of the section of the brain involved in hearing - allowing men to become "deaf" to the most logical of arguments put forward by their wives and girlfriends.

But what the male brain may lack in converstation and emotion, they more than make up with in their ability to think about sex.

Dr Brizendine says the brain's "sex processor" - the areas responsible for sexual thoughts - is twice as big as in men than in women, perhaps explaining why men are stereotyped as having sex on the mind.

Or, to put it another way, men have an international airport for dealing with thoughts about sex, "where women have an airfield nearby that lands small and private planes".

I knew it wasn't my fault, I'm just extremely masculine! Sweet.

In my previous posts about wiping out AIDS I've asked whether or not it's time to consider drastic measures to curb the disease, and now it sounds like other scientists are asking the same questions.

Within the next 25 years, AIDS is set to join heart disease and stroke as the top three causes of death worldwide, according to a study published online Monday.

When global mortality projections were last calculated a decade ago, researchers had assumed the number of AIDS cases would be declining. Instead, it's on the rise. ...

"It will be increasingly hard to sustain treatment programs unless we can turn off the tap of new HIV infections," said Dr. Richard Hays, professor of epidemiology at London's School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not linked to the study. "These AIDS numbers point to a need to do more in prevention."

Simply focusing on treatment or politically uncontroversial prevention methods will not suffice. "You can't put all your eggs in the abstinence basket," said Hays. "We need a menu of strategies for real people," he said, adding that condom distribution as well as new methods, such as a vaccine, are needed.

However, I think Hays is crazy if he really believes that promoting abstinence is "politically uncontroversial". In fact, advocating chastity and marital fidelity is nearly unthinkable for American politicians. Sure, a gesture is made to promote abstinence among teanagers, but even that suggestion is met with fierce hostility from all corners other than the Christian right. The idea that everyone should refrain from sex outside of marriage is anathema to modern American culture, no matter what percentage of us claims to be Christian.

And yet... it's hard to see any other way to stop the spread of AIDS unless a vaccine or cure is developed. Condoms have been pushed as the STD solution for decades, and yet the scourge of AIDS is still spreading like wildfire around the world.

Here's a great article that explores the oncoming intersection between artificial intelligence and human services. An important development, considering that there aren't nearly enough elder-care workers for the aging baby-boomers.

Unfortunately, there's a shortage of people working in nursing homes and caring for old people and the disabled, said Maja Mataric, director of the University of Southern California's Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems. The average stroke victim gets 39 minutes of active exercise a day when six hours a day is needed, she said, so robots can free up the few nurses for more nurturing activities.

Mataric adjusts her robots' personalities to fit the needs of stroke patients -- nurturing buddy or goal-pushing coach.

And in the case of low-functioning autistic children, they actually seem to relate better to robots than humans, Mataric said. "You'll see a child smile that has never smiled before. No one knows why it happens."

The scientists trying to engineer robots to work with humans are learning more than they expected. They have a new appreciation for our own unique abilities.

Said Deb Roy, director of MIT's Cognitive Machines Group: "It's not until you try to build a machine that does the same task (that people do) ... that you realize how incredibly hard it is."

I've said the same thing before. Studying artificial intelligence has given me a real appreciation of just how amazing humans are.

I like this quote:

"We're cheap dates," [Sherry Turkle from MIT] says. "If an entity makes eye contact with you, if an entity reaches toward you in friendship, we believe there is somebody there ... But that doesn't mean that there is. That just means that our Darwinian buttons are being pushed."

Girl jumping on bed falls out window.

A toddler plunged to her death from an eight story-apartment building on Sunday when she fell through an open window while jumping on a bed, authorities said.

Alameda County Coroner's officials identified the girl as 3-year-old Tia Simmons. The girl's mother wasn't in the apartment at the time, authorities said.

Sad. I'll save this for when I have kids.

I've noticed two phenomenon since I moved to the St. Louis area from Los Angeles: there are more churches here, and there are far more billboards advertising churches. These must be related.

Perhaps in Los Angeles churches don't think it's worth advertising because they don't think the ads will have much of an effect. Maybe churches don't think there are many potential attendees who don't already attend. However, in St. Louis a much higher proportion of people attend church, and it seems even more unlikely that there are unreached potential attendees.

Perhaps churches in Los Angeles don't have the money to rent billboards, despite a desire to do so? I doubt it. There are plenty of large churches in Los Angeles with plenty of money.

What seems most likely to me is that churches in St. Louis aren't trying to non-attenders -- the billboards are generally cheesy, and I think Los Angeles churches are right in thinking that billboards wouldn't attract unbelievers. No, the reason that I think St. Louis churches put up billboards is because they're trying to get attenders to switch churches. With so many churches, competition must be fierce for attenders, and they figure the population is dense enough with Christians that billboards are a cost-effective method to convince some to switch their attendance.

Seeing as how none of the signs I've seen have advertized any Biblical virtues or encouraged spiritual growth, but rather mere "happiness Christianity", it seems that the churches that are deepest into the competition are also the churches with the least real spirituality. Overall, I don't think the billboards speak well of the churches that put them up, especially nonsense like the Methodists' current "If you can wish, you can believe" campaign.

The always brilliant Victor Davis Hanson sheds some light on liberal internationalism. I think his insight into the leftist mind also holds true regarding domestic affairs.

Or is it a deeper malaise that modern liberal internationalism is neither liberal nor international. Lacking any real belief that the United States, now or in its past, has been a continual force for good, the contemporary Left hardly wants the rest of the world to suffer the American malaise of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental degradation, and consumerism. That self-doubt is buttressed by the idea as well that confrontation is always bad, that evil does not really exist, but is a construct we create for misunderstanding, that the world’s ills are remedied by reason and dialogue.

In essence, the progressive Leftist is often affluent, insulated from the savagery about him by his material largess, and empathizes with those who are antithetical to the very forces that made him free, secure, and prosperous—as a way to assuage the guilt, at very little cost, of his own blessedness.

Then the leftists dupe those who they (generally wrongly) believe they have victimized into joining together to make them victims in truth.

(HT: Instapundit.)

A sickly disturbing New York Times piece sadly illustrates the price of American weakness. Our supposed "allies" are in fact financing the terrorists in Iraq and around the world. Why do they have the balls for such a move? Because they know the United States will just bend over and take it.

The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.

The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials.

As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy — paid $30 million in ransom last year.

So our "allies" buy smuggled oil, pay ransoms, and so forth, and their money is then turned around and used to kill Iraqis and Americans. Fantastic. France and Italy -- among others -- apparently need to relearn what it means to get on our bad side. Unfortunately for the world, it looks like America wants to be liked more than we want to be respected. So in the end we get neither... we just get killed.

From the creator of AirShowFan comes a newly up-to-date guide to digital cameras. He explains a lot of the domain-specific vocabulary so that you'll be able to know what you're comparing, and then gives a list of his top 50 digital cameras. A handy resource that I wish I'd had when I was buying a camera (of course, I had Bernardo's personal assistance anyway).

Zefreak2 has sent me this slideshow of The Palm in Dubai and it really looks like an incredible feat of human engineering. It's sad though that all the region's petrodollars go into projects like these rather than into improving the freedom and opportunity of the millions of poor people who live there. Here's the homepage of The Palm Jumeirah project. Yeah, I wouldn't mind owning one of the private islands.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Why not share something you're thankful for in a comment?

Even though this Thanksgiving will probably be one of the most difficult for my family, we really do have a lot to be thankful for. Our escape from Los Angeles went almost flawlessly; my new job is great; our new house is fantastic; and our kitten has likely found a new home. Sure, there are struggles, but we'll get through them with some hard work and a healthy dose of God's grace.

Please be in prayer for my mother-in-law who is in the hospital. The doctors still need to figure out exactly what's wrong with her, but we're optimistic that she'll make a fill recovery.

Also, this is the first Thanksgiving that I haven't spent with my parents, and I miss them. The hardest thing about moving across the country is not getting to see them very often, which probably goes without saying.

If you can't send all the criminals to prison, bring the prison to the criminals.

The NYPD has installed a patrol tower in a Harlem neighborhood in an effort to cut crime in the high-risk neighborhood.

The two-story booth tower, called Sky Watch, gives the officer sitting inside a better vantage point from which to monitor the area. Officers in the booth have access to a spotlight, sensors, and four cameras. The tower is portable and can be moved to the areas that need it most.

A little more money for razor wire and they'll be all set.

Despite all the amazing scientific advances of the past few centuries there is still a heck of a lot that we don't know, especially about ourselves. First up is a really remarkable new study that has completely revolutionized our understanding of genetics.

The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome - the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual " letters" of the genome.

It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.

Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or "book of life", is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.

The findings mean that instead of humanity being 99.9 per cent identical, as previously believed, we are at least 10 times more different between one another than once thought - which could explain why some people are prone to serious diseases.

One consequence that the article underplays is that this discovery now makes it possible, for the first time, to determine a person's "race" or "ethnicity" based on their DNA. What's more,

Another implication of the finding is that we are more different to our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, than previously assumed from earlier studies. Instead of being 99 per cent similar, we are more likely to be about 96 per cent similar.

Thereby striking another blow against evolution (which will probably go completely unnoticed until the entire edifice crumbles). As I said, there's a lot we don't know, and it's continually surprising how much of what we think we know turns out to be wrong or only partially right. Makes life interesting!

Secondly, some high-definition pictures of animals in the womb.

An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way. A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn dog panting. Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time.

Using an array of technology, the images reveal what until now has been a secret - exactly how animals develop in the womb. They were created by the same team who in 2004 showed how human embryos "walk in the womb".

Using a combination of three-dimensional ultrasound scans, computer graphics and tiny cameras, the team were able to show the entire process from conception to birth.

"These kind of images from inside animals have never been seen before," said Jeremy Dear of Pioneer Productions, who made the film.

These sorts of pictures will eventually overcome the ocean of blood money that keeps the abortion industry afloat.

"Animals were trained to sit still near the scanners and we also inserted cameras into the womb via the elephant's rectum-But it has been worth it. It one sequence we follow an elephant developing. When it is finally born, there is not a dry eye in the house.

Wait for the same movie to be made of a human baby. The whole debate on abortion is undergoing a sea-change as our scientific knowledge of what goes on in the womb advances. Those of our children who survive will likely live in a world that recognizes abortion as the barbarity it is.


I like James Taranto's take on the in utero pictures:

The unborn elephant, shown at the link, is quite something to see. By contrast, as we all know from reading the newspapers, there is no such thing as an unborn human being. We develop by a little-understood process in which a clump of cells, similar to a tumor or a fingernail, miraculously becomes a baby at the moment the entire clump is exposed to air.

That humans and animals come into the world in such radically different ways pretty much demolishes the notion that we are the product of Darwinian evolution, doesn't it?

As was inevitable, OJ's hypothetical confessional has been cancelled... reaffirming the tiny bit of respect I still have for the American people. The Associated Press doesn't seem to understand the real issue, however.

After a firestorm of criticism, News. Corp. said Monday that it has canceled the O.J. Simpson book and TV special "If I Did It."

"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson." ...

For the publishing industry, the cancellation of "If I Did It" was an astonishing end to a story like no other. Numerous books have been withdrawn over the years because of possible plagiarism, most recently Kaavya Viswanathan's "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," but a book's removal simply for objectionable content is virtually unheard of.

The problem isn't the content, it's that people shouldn't profit from evil, either their own or others'. There have been a slashillion books about OJ's murders that probably had far more content than this book would have had, and they weren't objectionable because OJ didn't create them to profit off his evil.

If I know anything about Judith Regan, the would-be publisher will shop the manuscript around at other companies now that her boss has axed the project.

I waver between favoring legalization of most drugs and not, but there's no question that the current War on Drugs is horribly harmful to our country and our erstwhile allies in whose countries the drugs are manufactured. Mostly-harmless people are harassed by law enforcement agencies and often thrown in jail for longer terms than rapists, and for what? Are drugs less of a problem now than they were 100 years ago when they were legal?

The latest outrage touches the War on Drugs tangentially and also involves an issue Clayton Cramer and Randy Balko have taken the lead on vocally denouncing: no-knock SWAT raids on drug suspects that needlessly endanger everyone involved.

The set-up, from Mr. Balko: Cheryl Lynn Noel is gunned down in her home by police officers after marijuana seeds are found in her trash cans.

The facts of the case are awful: A Baltimore SWAT team conducted a 4:30am raid on the Noel family home after finding marijuana seeds and "trace" amounts of cocaine in the family's outdoor trash can. After battering down the door, they deployed a flashbang grenade, then rushed up the steps to the bedroom of Cheryl and Charles Noel.

Cheryl Noel's stepdaughter had been murdered several years earlier, and her son had recently been jumped by thugs on his way home. So the family had a legal, registered handgun in the home, and Noel had reason to be frightened. When a SWAT officer kicked open the bedroom door, Noel sat up in bed with the gun, apparently pointed downward, not at the officer. The officer, who was wearing a helmet, mask, shield, and bulletproof vest, and who came in behind a bulletproof ballistic shield, fired twice. Noel slumped over, and the gun slipped out of her hand. The officer then walked over to her and ordered her to move further away from the gun. She couldn't, of course. When she didn't, he shot her a third time, essentially from point-blank range.

The punchline? The police officer who shot Noel has been given a Silver Star.

On January 21, 2005, Officer Carlos Artson saved himself and his fellow officers from being shot. Officer Artson was confronted by a woman pointed a loaded handgun at him, during the service of a high risk, "no knock" search warrant for an ongoing narcotics investigation.

It's quite possible that Noel was pointing the gun at the officer and not at the ground, but what the heck were the police doing in her home unannounced at all? I'm a huge supporter of the police, but it's utterly insane that they can burst into your home and kill you because they found some seeds while they were rooting through your trash. Even if the police in this case acted entirely properly according to their procedures, the laws need to be changed to prevent them from being put into this kind of position.

A new poll reveals that young people in wealthy nations are fools who don't know how good they've got it.

Young people in developing nations are at least twice as likely to feel happy about their lives than their richer counterparts, a survey says.

Indians are the happiest overall and Japanese the most miserable.

According to an MTV Networks International (MTVNI) global survey that covered more than 5,400 young people in 14 countries, only 43 percent of the world's 16- to 34-year-olds say they are happy with their lives.

MTVNI said this figure was dragged down by young people in the developed world, including those in the United States and Britain where fewer than 30 percent of young people said they were happy with the way things were.

Only eight percent in Japan said they were happy.

I've known and worked with a lot of Indians, and I can attest that they are some of the happiest, most easy-going people I've ever met, especially considering their tireless work ethic. As for us young people from wealthier nations (do I still qualify as "young"?), what the heck is wrong with us?

I can only speak for young Americans, but I expect that the same foolish ignorance applies to rich young people around the world. We simply don't comprehend how difficult human life in the "natural" state is. We're used to enormous wealth, with the average "poor" American family owning a car, multiple color televisions with cable, a refrigerator, almost free high-quality food, safe drinking water, 24/7 electricity, plumbing, free emergency health care, ready access to all sorts of drugs, fruits and vegetables in every season, cheap internet access....

Most young Americans are completely ignorant of history and international affairs, and don't realize that all these luxuries we take for granted are not the natural state of the world. Electricity doesn't just happen, it took millenia for our civilization to build up to its current level, and modern young people are simply in the right place at the right time to enjoy the benefits.

Reasons for unhappiness across the developed world included a lack of optimism, concern over jobs and pressure to succeed. ...

Developed countries were particularly pessimistic about globalization, with 95 percent of young Germans thinking it is ruining their culture....

Aw, that's so sad. Boo hoo. Meanwhile, the fact that modern Germans have a zero percent chance of dying of starvation, exposure, or dysentery doesn't even register. Wild animals won't eat them. A neighboring tribe won't sneak in one night to kill the men and kidnap the women. Locusts won't swoop down from the skies and eat all the crops. The vast, vast majority of historical dangers have been almost completely eliminated, and still people aren't happy.

Happiness comes from the inside. It is a decision. You decide to be happy, or you decide to be sad. Any rich American who picks the latter deserves little sympathy.

Don't forget to cast your vote for your favorite Wonders.

In addition to the Statue of Liberty, pyramids, Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu, the finalists are the Acropolis; Turkey's Haghia Sophia; the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral; the Colosseum; Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle; Stonehenge; Spain's Alhambra; the Great Wall; Japan's Kiyomizu Temple; the Sydney Opera House; Cambodia's Angkor; Timbuktu; Petra, Jordan; Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer; Easter Island; and Chichen Itza, Mexico.

I've personally seen a few of these: Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Stonehenge. Who can top that?

However, there are a couple modern marvels that I think should have made the list.


Apollo 11 planting a flag on the moon. Maybe too nationalistic, but moreso than the Kremlin or the Great Wall of China?


The Panama Canal. An amazing feat of engineering.

Considering that the original Seven Wonders of the World were chosen by consensus, online voting seems about right for the New Wonders.

Capitalist pioneer Milton Friedman has died. Few individuals have done more to improve the human condition. Rest in peace.

Professor Arthur C. Brooks writes that conservatives are more generous than liberals -- which is certainly true -- but wrongly believes that his claims are new.

In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services -- make conservatives more generous than liberals. ...

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.

It's not hard to understand... liberals are self-indulgent hypocrites who want to feel good about themselves by forcing other people to "give". Conservatives actually care about doing good, so they donate their own money to charities of their choice rather than "give" through taxes to a government program.

"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book." ...

"I know I'm going to get yelled at a lot with this book," he said. "But when you say something big and new, you're going to get yelled at."

The generosity index came to this same result in 2003, if not earlier.

San Francisco, home to incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has voted to abolish the Junior ROTC program for its high school students.

The board voted 4-2 to eliminate the popular program, phasing it out over two years.

Dozens of JROTC cadets at the board meeting burst into tears or covered their faces after the votes were cast.

This kind of behavior is just maddening, and a very large part of why my wife and I were so eager to get out of California. The logic of the JROTC's opponents is superficial and betrays the fundamental unseriousness of the American left.

The board's decision was loudly applauded by opponents of the program.

Their position was summed up by a former teacher, Nancy Mancias, who said, "We need to teach a curriculum of peace.'' ...

Opponents said the armed forces should have no place in public schools, and the military's discriminatory stance on gays makes the presence of JROTC unacceptable.

"We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz, of the American Friends Service Committee, an organization actively opposing JROTC nationwide. "In a healthy democracy ... you contain the military. You must contain the military."

Right because... the military is on the verge of deposing civilian authority, like the San Francisco School Board. I'm sure.

"It's basically a branding program, or a recruiting program for the military," Kelly said before the meeting.

That's exactly what it is. What's wrong with that?

Other than most traffic enforcement, it's hard to imagine a bigger waste of time than setting up sting operations for prostitutes and their clients. The whole idea seems especially absurd to me considering that if the sex workers were paid to make pornographic movies they'd be completely ignored by law enforcement and protected by case law.

Rented furnishings and hidden cameras were among the props Seattle police vice detectives used to arrest 104 men who showed up at a ritzy downtown condo in the past two weeks expecting to pay for sex.

Nearly three-fourths of the men who were arrested on suspicion of patronizing a prostitute responded to postings in the "erotic services" category on craigslist, the free online community where people can search for apartments, jobs, used cars, friends and dates. The rest answered escort ads found in the back pages of The Stranger and Seattle Weekly.

"We wanted to prove craigslist was in fact a vehicle for promoting prostitution," said Lt. Eric Sano, commander of the Seattle Police Department's vice unit.

Escorts and the agencies that represent them have long argued that clients pay only for the companionship of a beautiful woman, Sano said, "but for the most part, that's not how it works."

Duh. Anyway, as I noted before, if the prostitutes simply carried video cameras and claimed to be making pornos they'd be completely safe.

Orson Scott Card poignantly shares his quest for a dream house, and after describing exactly how that house would look he explains why it could never be home.

But a funny thing happened just two days before the meeting where they showed us the plans.

I had caught bacterial pneumonia three weeks earlier, and was still in the realm of the coughing dead. My wife has only finally come back fully from her stress-related heart attack of last fall. I had also just turned fifty-five. Maybe it was the combination of these things, showing us that we were not young anymore. Maybe it was just realizing that we were really going to do this.

But it dawned on both of us, quite separately, that we were about to build the wrong dream house. We were shy about saying it to each other, because up to that moment we had both been so excited. Here's what we realized:

We were preparing to build the house we wish we had raised our children in.

The intangibles of life often overwhelm the tangibles. When Jessica and I picked out our new house, my eye and heart were keenly aware of the memories I hoped to make there....

Although this example isn't directly related to the War on Terror or the battle for Iraq, it's a good illustration of how the leftist media manipulates the American public into misery and defeatism.

The American people do not appear to appreciate the fact that their economy is, quite literally, in a class by itself. In an earlier post entitled "Americans Hate their Fabulous Economy," I tried to make that clear by comparing the recent Bush years to the preceding Clinton years in terms of their economic performance. I did not seek out obscure and esoteric economic indicators that could be used to mislead people into thinking that their hopelessly anemic economy is actually in great shape. Instead, I analyzed the basic economic indicators that have been used to gauge the health of any economy for decades. Those indicators reveal that America's economy during the Clinton and Bush years can only be described as fabulous -- and almost equally so -- in both cases. But we loved our economy back when Clinton was in charge. Now we don't. It makes no sense. Here again are the poll results that seem inexplicably downbeat:

Engram goes on at length to prove that America's economy is robust and stronger than any in the world -- and stronger than just about any economy throughout all history. But why don't Americans believe it? Because the leftist media constantly denigrates our economy in their perpetual struggle to elect Democrats.

Ralph Peters is right: we can't win in Iraq if we're unwilling to kill the bad guys.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered - and permitted - to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

If you're not willing to lay down a rule that any Iraqi or foreign terrorist masquerading as a security official or military member will be shot, you can't win. And that's just one example of the type of sternness this sort of fight requires.

That's the difference between a war and a police action. Our enemies are fighting a war, and we're wasting lives trying to arrest them.

Arrest them? We've tried that. Iraq's judges are so partisan or so terrified (or both) that they release the worst thugs within weeks - sometimes within days.

How would you like to be one of Iraq's handful of relatively honest cops knowing that any terrorist or sectarian butcher you bust is going to be back on the block before your next payday? And yeah, they know where you live.

Our "humanity" is cowardice masquerading as morality. We're protecting self-appointed religious executioners with our emphasis on a "universal code of behavior" that only exists in our fantasies. By letting the thugs run the streets, we've abandoned the millions of Iraqis who really would prefer peaceful lives and a modicum of progress.

We're blind to the fundamental moral travesty in Iraq (and elsewhere): Spare the killers in the name of human rights, and you deprive the overwhelming majority of the population of their human rights. Instead of being proud of ourselves for our "moral superiority," we should be ashamed to the depths of our souls.

We're not really the enemy of the terrorists, militiamen and insurgents. We're their enablers.

He's right, and even though "political correctness" is losing favor in America when it comes to trivial issues and comedy, we're still not willing to give up our fantasies that everyone is equal, that we don't have any real enemies, and that all problems can be sorted out through conversation and mutual understanding.

(HT: Instapundit.)

Dick Morris argues that ultra-liberal Democrats don't have a mandate (as I've already claimed).

But how did it achieve these majorities? It did so lifted by the wings of moderate, centrist Democrats who mastered their GOP opponents throughout the country. It was not liberals who defeated Republican incumbents in the House and Senate. It was moderates, future members of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). ...

The irony is that the expressed will of the American people has been so radically ignored in the shaping of the 110th Congress. The fact is that the elevation of Nancy Pelosi to the speakership is no more a legitimate expression of the voters’ will than would be the retention of Dennis Hastert. The seniority system, rigidly applied by Pelosi in violation of the spirit of the Gingrich reforms of 1994, has ordained that a liberal establishment will run Congress, whatever the voters say.

Is there anyone who will sanely maintain that Rangel represents the broad middle of American views on tax reform, or that Levin speaks for most Americans on national security? All that has happened is that the ranking members have become the chairmen, regardless of their views or qualifications. It is a gesture of homage to seniority that would have the approval of the segregationists that used to run Congress by applying the same ground rules. Back then, no matter how loudly voters demanded integration and an end to racism, the Democratic majority kept apartheid firmly in place. The distortion of the electorate’s will taking place now on Capitol Hill is no more extreme.

Still, he thinks that Hillary will win the presidency in 2008 and that the Republicans will have to wait on her for their revival (again, as in 1994). I personally speculate that the Democrats will overreach in Congress over the next two years, and that the anyone-but-Bush party will falter once their nemesis is no longer running for office.

John Heilermann agrees:

Yet Biden also knows that the Democrats’ internal wrangling over Iraq has the potential to be explosively divisive, as the antiwar left and the Netroots make demands that party centrists may find extreme. And he knows that voters will be watching the party carefully to see which route it takes. There can be no doubt that the results of the 2006 midterms constitute a stinging and nearly total repudiation of Bush’s management of the war and his handling of foreign affairs more broadly. What they don’t amount to, though, is a ringing endorsement of Democratic leadership in those areas—not least because the party, by design, turned the campaign into a referendum on Bush and not into a choice between two competing visions of dealing with the world.

And I think that fighting Bush personally is just about all the Democrat party has been up for. That's been their organizing principle, and it's not at all clear that they'll be able to maintain their coalition once Bush is gone.

I guess this story made so small a splash that some of my commenters are completely ignorant of it: the New York Times revealed two weeks ago that Saddam was less than a year away from having nuclear weapons.

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Of course the NYT has framed this as a hit-piece against President Bush, but the fact of the matter is that these documents completely vindicate the pre-war claims about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. As Power Line says, Bush just can't win with the media, but don't let the paper's partisanship blind you to the bare facts of the matter.

The defining characteristic of partisan attacks on President Bush has been their unthinking and indiscriminate nature. For example, Bush is to blame for not halting the development of nukes by Iran and North Korea, but he's also to blame for toppling Saddam Hussein due in part to his concern that Saddam was interested in and capable of developing nukes. Critics point to Iran's rise as evidence that Bush misplaced his focus on Iraq, but they don't consider how Saddam would have reacted to Iranian nuclear progress.

The New York Times now has carried unthinking Bush-bashing to a point beyond caricature. Today, as Tiger Hawk notes, it quotes with apparent approval "experts" who say that Saddam was as little as a year away from building an atom bomb. The Times does so in order to show that the Bush administration acted recklessly when it published captured Iraqi documents that describe that country's WMD programs, because those documents might be used by another country in furtherance of building WMD.

Did the Times just say that Saddam's Iraq was a year away from building a nuclear weapon? I guess so. Good thing Saddam's no longer in power.

So, just in case anyone missed it the second time through:

According to the New York Times, when we invaded Iraq Saddam Hussein was less than a year away from having nuclear weapons.

So Fox News paid terrorists $2 million to release two kidnapped employees, and the money will be quickly turned around and used to kidnap or kill many others.

Palestinian terror groups and security organizations in the Gaza Strip received $2 million from a U.S. source in exchange for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped here last summer, a senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions told WND.

The terror leader, from the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, said his organization's share of the money was used to purchase weapons, which he said would be utilized "to hit the Zionists."

He said he expects the payments for Centanni and Wiig's freedom will encourage Palestinian groups to carry out further kidnappings.

There are two main reasons not to pay ransoms to terrorists, and both can be seen here. First, if you pay ransom once you're opening yourself up to further kidnappings, on the assumption that you'll keep paying. Second, the money you pay will be used against you, further enabling your enemies.

In the big picture, it's bad for you when other people on your side to pay ransoms to your common enemies... but when it's your loved ones on the line you'll be willing to do just about anything to get them back safely. Why? Because it's unlikely that you'll have to personally bear the consequences, facing further kidnappings of your own loved ones; it's others who will suffer for your decision to save your own. It's a realistic example of the classic moral dilemma: would you save your family from impending doom by redirecting it towards an innocent third party?

Should Fox News have paid the ransom?
Free polls from


Drudge is now carrying an exclusive note that Fox News denies paying any ransom.


Internal FOXNEWS memo to employees from Roger Ailes: 'I just saw an article on the internet from by Aaron Klein which claims we paid $2 million in hostage money during the Centanni & Wiig kidnapping crisis. The story is absolutely 100% false. Not a cent of hostage money was paid, and it was never considered'...

I really like living in a suburb, and now there's a study showing that suburbanites get more of what urbanites claim to want.

A new study says that people who live in sprawling suburban areas have more friends, better community involvement and more frequent contact with their neighbours than urbanites who are wedged in side-by-side. The results challenge the accepted idea that suburban life is socially alienating a notion that's inspired everything from the Academy Award-winning American Beauty to Harvard professor Robert Putnam's book Bowling Alone.

The study, released by the University of California at Irvine, found that for every 10 per cent decrease in population density, the chances of people talking to their neighbours weekly increases by 10 per cent, and the likelihood they belong to hobby-based clubs jumps by 15 per cent.

"We found that interaction goes down as population density goes up. So, turning it around, it says that interaction is higher where densities are lower," says Jan Brueckner, an economics professor at UC Irvine who led the study. "What that means is suburban living promotes more interaction than living in the central city."

The key, for me, was finding a suburb without the commute.

(HT: Marginal Revolution.)

Finally! A use for all that corn starch in my pantry...

Jesus: No comment.

(HT: GeekPress.)

Here's the World's Smallest Political Quiz. It's short, and the phrasing seems to lean libertarian, but I think it gets to the point.

After you take the quiz, please tell me how you scored. Please don't answer my poll without taking the quiz.

How did you score on the World's Shortest Political Quiz?
Free polls from

My brother sent along this link to an obituary of Markus Wolf, former East German spy master.

Known as "the man without a face," because for years Western intelligence agencies did not even possess a photograph of him, Wolf died in his sleep in his apartment in Berlin, according to his stepdaughter, Claudia Wall. She did not specify a cause of death.

Wolf had lived quietly in the German capital since the last of several efforts to punish him for his role in spying on the former West Germany ended in 1997 with a two-year suspended sentence.

For 34 years, Wolf headed the foreign intelligence service of East Germany's feared Ministry of State Security, or Stasi. He ran a network of 4,000 spies who infiltrated NATO headquarters and the West German chancellery, even bringing down a chancellor, Willy Brandt. Wolf was not directly responsible for Stasi's primary business of spying on East Germans, which made it a reviled instrument of repression, but not all critics were convinced of this.

As so many Cold Warriors pass on it becomes easier to forget just how terribly evil Communism is. The obituary is quite a puff peace, considering that this man was instrumental in oppressing millions of people for over three decades.

My brother sent me a fascinating article about "cloud computing" at Google et al. that relates a lot of nifty inside-ish info on the man behind the curtain... and he really is a wizard. The most interesting part to me, though, was about power consumption.

If it's necessary to waste memory and bandwidth to dominate the petascale era, gorging on energy is an inescapable cost of doing business. operations VP Dayne Sampson estimates that the five leading search companies together have some 2 million servers, each shedding 300 watts of heat annually, a total of 600 megawatts. These are linked to hard drives that dissipate perhaps another gigawatt. Fifty percent again as much power is required to cool this searing heat, for a total of 2.4 gigawatts. With a third of the incoming power already lost to the grid's inefficiencies, and half of what's left lost to power supplies, transformers, and converters, the total of electricity consumed by major search engines in 2006 approaches 5 gigawatts.

That's an impressive quantity of electricity. Five gigawatts is almost enough to power the Las Vegas metropolitan area – with all its hotels, casinos, restaurants, and convention centers – on the hottest day of the year. So the annual operation of the world's petascale search machines constitutes a Vegas-sized power sump. In the next year or so, it could add a dog-day Atlantic City. Air-conditioning will be the prime cost and conundrum of the petascale era. As energy analysts Peter Huber and Mark Mills projected in 1999, the planetary machine is on track to be consuming half of all the world's output of electricity by the end of this decade.

Google's Hölzle noticed the high electric bills after taking his post in 1999. At 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, power dominated his calculus of costs. "A power company could give away PCs and make a substantial profit selling power," he says. (At The Dalles, the huge protuberances on top are not giant disk drives, climbing to the rooftop for a smoke while the RAM below does the work, but an array of eight hulking cooling towers.)

The struggle to find an adequate supply of electricity explains the curious emptiness that afflicts some 30 percent of's square footage. Why is the second-fastest-growing search engine one-third empty? "We ran out of power before we ran out of space," says search operations manager James Snow, a ponytailed refugee from an IBM acquisition. Not only does the Verizon facility lack a cheap power source, it struggles to get any further power at all; designed for the more modest needs of Internet switching, the building has already maxed out the local grid. Consequently,'s Sampson has followed Google's trail to the Columbia River, where he's scoping out properties. Perhaps by moving farther up the river into the Washington headwaters he can get even cheaper power than Google will get in The Dalles.

Maybe they should build a datacenter on Mercury? There should be plenty of heavy metals readily available on the surface, and it's located down the sun's gravity well so it's easier to reach than Mars.


Bernardo says I'm behind the times and that Google is already planning to conquer the moon.

Here's an animated GIF I can across that illustrates the Republicans' performance over the past couple of years.

It sounds like the incoming Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will be running the House like a school-girl clique -- maybe it's not surprising, but she could have tried a little harder to escape the stereotypes that will inevitably plague her as the first woman to hold the office.

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) yesterday as the next House majority leader, thereby stepping into a contentious intraparty fight between Murtha and her current deputy, Maryland's Steny H. Hoyer.

The unexpected move signaled the sizable value Pelosi gives to personal loyalty and personality preferences. Hoyer competed with her in 2001 for the post of House minority whip, while Murtha managed her winning campaign. Pelosi has also all but decided she will not name the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) to chair that panel next year, a decision pregnant with personal animus.

Pelosi had been outspoken about her frustration with Murtha's declaration that he would challenge Hoyer, currently the House minority whip, for the majority leader post long before Democrats had secured the majority. Many believed she would remain on the sidelines, just as Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) did earlier this year when three Republicans vied for the post of House majority leader.

Maybe Nancy Pelosy should abort her personal animus (kudos to Jonathan Weisman for the gender-based pun) and instead base her decisions on what's best for the county.


Apparently even Congressional Democrats say Nancy Pelosi is running the House like a high school.

As she awaited her new grandchild after her election-night triumph, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi was lauded as one of the most consequential Democrats in history and treated as a foreign head of state at the White House, where she got the big chair in front of the Oval Office fireplace. But the dour Republicans and worried Democrats have switched places, however momentarily, now that she has unexpectedly injected herself into the bitter race to be her underling, the House Majority Leader. "This is the first time I've ever seen a leader insert themselves like this," said a veteran of many Democratic leadership races. Pelosi's camp says it's like a high-school election and won't be a defining moment for her leadership. ...

Hoyer poses a competing power base to Pelosi, and they have not had warm relations. "She wants to purge the leadership of people who disagree with her," said a Democratic official with a front-row seat. "It's about people she can personally control. Hoyer is an excellent public face for the party. She's more a behind-the-scenes player."

My family has decided to mostly skip traveling over the holidays and instead get together in January for Christmas and birthdays. Considering the state of air travel, it looks like a wise move.

"We are experiencing some real operational problems in the industry," said Darryl Jenkins, an airline consultant. "The truth is you have a lot of problems going on."

The industry seems to be inching back to the severe delays experienced before the 2001 terror attacks, which caused air traffic to plummet, the experts said.

They warned travelers to expect delays during the upcoming holiday season.

"Much of the volume for November is really packed into three or four days," said Dean Headley, a marketing professor at Wichita State University and co-author of the annual "Airline Quality Rating" report. "Every seat is going to be full with somebody that has to be somewhere. . . . If there is the slightest glitch anywhere in the system, it can ripple through. There isn't much room for error."

I've had good results flying on Southwest and JetBlue. The article indicates that it's the "major" airlines that have the most problems.

As funny as the Borat movie appears to be, and as little as I care about making fun of people for their own decisions, I think it's really cruel to mock poor, uneducated people who have had little opportunity to better themselves.

When Sacha Baron Cohen wanted a village to represent the impoverished Kazakh home of his character Borat, he found the perfect place in Glod: a remote mountain outpost with no sewerage or running water and where locals eke out meagre livings peddling scrap iron or working patches of land. ...

Villagers say they were paid just £3 each for this humiliation, for a film that took around £27million at the worldwide box office in its first week of release. ...

So when a Hollywood film crew descended on a nearby run-down motel last September, with their flashy cars and expensive equipment, locals thought their lowly community might finally be getting some of the investment it so desperately needs. ...

Luca, who now refers to Baron Cohen as to the 'ugly, tall, moustachioed American man', even though the 35-year-old comedian is British, said: 'They paid my family £30 for four full days. They were nice and friendly, but we could not understand a single word they were saying.

'It was very uncomfortable at the end and there was animal manure all over our home. We endured it because we are poor and badly needed the money, but now we realise we were cheated and taken advantage of in the worst way.

'All those things they said about us in the film are terribly humiliating. They said we drink horse urine and sleep with our own kin. You say it's comedy, but how can someone laugh at that?'

Spirea Ciorobea, who played the 'village mechanic and abortionist', said: 'What I saw looks disgusting. Even if we are uneducated and poor, it is not fair that someone does this to us.'

Mr. Ciorobea is right. It's one thing to mock feminists, Jews, Christians, Republican politicians, and others for the amusing aspects of their beliefs, but I think it's disgraceful to take advantage of miserably poor people who have no idea what's going on. They aren't poor by choice, and from the article it's evident that they aren't stupid. They "get it" now that the trick is over, but they don't think it's funny, and neither do I. I was looking forward to renting Borat when it came out on DVD, but now I don't think I will.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.


Looks like one New Yorker decided not to put up with "Borat"'s antics.

The comedian - who created the fake sexist and racist Kazakhstan reporter Borat - approached a man in New York and said: "I like your clothes. Are nice! Please may I buying? I want have sex with it."

The man didn't find his comments funny and punched Cohen in the face.

Cohen cried out for help, but his pleas were ignored and he was repeatedly hit. Hello, he was in New York!


(HT: My brother.)

I generally hate Carl's Jr. / Hardee's, but this afternoon after church my wife and I drive through and I got a Six Dollar Burger. It was the best burger I've ever had, and I've had plenty. I wouldn't say that I'm a huge fan of burgers, but sometimes I'm in the mood for one, and the Six Dollar Burger was just amazing.

Downside: It has enough calories to sustain an Ethiopian village for a month.

Reader JV passed me a link to Microsoft's amazing Photosynth technology, and I'm practically speechless. The video below shows how it works, and how it can be used.

The possible uses for this technology are endless and almost incomprehensible, especially when combined with a tool like Google Earth (or Microsoft's other Live software).

The new political order in Washington is certain to generate plenty of corpses for us right-wing bloggers to circle over, and the potential appointment of Alcee Hastings to the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee may be the first. The committee oversees everything from the CIA to the NRO to the DIA, and the chairman plays a critical role in national security. So who has Speaker-to-Be Pelosi promised to put in that position?

With majority status in the "people's house" comes a share in responsibility for the security of the Republic. This is why we are so concerned about a shadow which darkens presumptive Speaker Pelosi's triumphant morning, a shadow which will only grow longer if she allows it to begin appearing prominently in the media coverage of the global war on terrorism, metastasizing into her first "intelligence failure" even before she takes the gavel from outgoing Speaker Hastert. That is the shadow of Alcee Lamar Hastings, the reelected Democratic Representative from Florida's 23rd District. ...

That Mr. Hastings is employed by the United States of America, and is not a guest a federal penitentiary, is itself cause for wonder.

Mr. Hastings's own website says this about his pre-Congressional background: "Known to many as 'Judge,' Congressman Hastings has distinguished himself as an attorney, civil rights activist, judge, and now Member of Congress. Appointed by President Carter in 1979, he became the first African-American Federal Judge in the state of Florida, and served in that position for ten years."

What this autobiography omits are the reasons Hastings' judicial tenure, normally a life appointment, was cut short after only a decade. Barely two years into office, "Judge" Hastings accepted a $150,000 bribe in exchange for giving a lenient sentence to two swindlers, then lied in subsequent sworn testimony about the incident. The case involved two brothers, Frank and Thomas Romano, who had been convicted in 1980 on 21 counts of racketeering. Together with attorney William Borders Jr., Hastings, who presided over the Romanos' case, hatched a plot to solicit a bribe from the brothers. In exchange for a $150,000 cash payment to him, Hastings would return some $845,000 of their $1.2 million in seized assets after they served their three-year jail terms.

Taped conversations between Hastings and Borders confirmed that the judge was a party to the plot. Hastings was also criminally prosecuted for bribery, but his accomplice Borders went to prison rather than testify against him. Hastings was acquitted thanks to Borders' silence. ...

"Be assured that I'm going to be a judge for life," Mr. Hastings told reporters in 1983 after his acquittal. But the arguments that swayed a Miami jury did not sway the Congress. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives impeached Hastings for bribery and perjury by a lopsided vote of 413 to 3. Then the Democrat-controlled Senate convicted him on eight articles of impeachment by well over the required two-thirds majority in 1989. Thus Mr. Hastings became only the sixth judge in the history of our Republic (and only the third in the 20th Century) to be removed by Congress. He was, and is, an utter disgrace to the nation and to the legal profession. Among those voting to impeach him were Ms. Pelosi herself, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip who is likely to become the new House majority leader, and Mr. Hastings' fellow African-American Congressman, Michigan's John Conyers, who took pains to deny that race had anything to do with the removal of the bribe-taking jurist.

And now Hastings is a member of the House that impeached him, and poised to be given oversight of national security matters. Utterly despicable. What do my Democrat/leftist readers think of this? How could such an appointment possibly be defended?

I sincerely hope that Speaker Pelosi decides to maintain Jane Harman's seniority on the House Intelligence Committee rather than sacrifice our national security on the altar of racial politics.

I'm glad the wife and I just sold our house in Los Angeles, because as Neal Boortz points out amnesty for illegal aliens is now guaranteed.

I saw Richard Gephardt on the tube this morning. Naturally he was quite pleased with yesterday's developments. He was doing a good job of chanting the "The must compromise" mantra of the new Democrat majority. More specifically, Gephardt was saying that there would probably be pretty quick action on immigration reform, now that the Republican control of the House was gone.

He's right. Amnesty for illegals is on the way. President Bush is for it. The Senate had already voted for it. The only roadblock was the House. Now, with Democrats in control, the House will be eager to go along.

This will be one of the first moves the Democrats make ... right after they go to raise the minimum wage. Amnesty for illegal aliens will be the order of the day, amnesty without any meaningful controls to make sure that the invasion ceases.

Every one of these invaders is looked on as a potential future vote by Democrats. Nothing will be done to stem the tide.

He's right, and although California, Arizona, and New Mexico will bear the brunt our whole country will suffer for it. There are six billion people who would love to live here, and they're all poor. America simply can't absorb them all. It's not a matter of compassion or "fairness", it's just simple math. Math that the Democrats think will cement them in power forever, because they rely on people who vote for a living. (That is, people whose livelihood depends on handouts from the people they vote into power.)

On the way to work this morning it struck me that the Democrats haven't yet had to govern in the Internet Age. Blogs were in their infancy when Bill Clinton left office, and few people even had web access the last time the Democrats controlled Congress. It will be very interesting to see how they perform with the spotlight on them in a way they've never experienced. Maybe they will have learned from some of the Republicans mistakes, but my intuition tells me that they'll make a few of their own before they begin to comprehend how much more difficult leading in the present is than was leading in the past.

Philip Klein has the take on the election results that I've seen so far.

In assessing last night's results it is important to note that it was not a defeat for conservatism; it was a defeat for Republicanism, or at least, what Republicanism has come to represent. In the past 12 years, Republicans went from the party that promised "the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money" to the party of the Bridge to Nowhere; it took control of Congress on a pledge to "end its cycle of scandal and disgrace" and went down in defeat as the party of Tom DeLay and Mark Foley.

Having abandoned its core principles, the Republican Party had nothing to run on this year, so its campaign strategy centered on attacking Nancy Pelosi -- a questionable tactic given that, according to some polls, more than half of the country had never even heard of her. ...

We will hear a lot of reasons for why Republicans lost this year. We will hear that they lost because of an unpopular war, an unpopular president, a culture of corruption, a traditional anti-incumbent six-year itch and a dispirited base. But one thing is for sure. Republicans did not lose on a platform of limiting the size and scope of government.

Quite right. Americans want smaller government, and they elected Republicans to give it to them. When their order wasn't delivered, they demanded a refund.

Supposedly this is the most-viewed video on YouTube, so you may have already seen it, but if not then let it serve as a reminder that physical beauty is not as important as we often think. The passage below is directed specifically at women, but I think the principles of modesty and spirituality apply to both genders.

1 Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

Although free, universal healthcare sounds alluring, remember that nothing is free and that nationalized healthcare isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Men are having to fight 'titanic battles' for access to tried and tested treatments for prostate cancer, a charity chief said today.

John Neate, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity criticised a "short-sighted and devalued" NHS, which was compromising the care of prostate cancer patients. ...

Mr Neate said: "It cannot be acceptable that men and their families who are already having to deal with the tough news of a prostate cancer diagnosis have to wrestle with NHS bureaucracy at the same time."

The government can barely handle national defense, why would anyone trust them to care for our health?

Well it looks like the Democrats have won the House, contrary to my hopeful predictions, and bettors on TradeSports give the GOP a 12% chance to hold the Senate. Looks like my wife might have been right.

Democrats taking over the House of Representatives wouldn't be too tragic (except for the tax cuts they wouldn't renew), but if they get the Senate too then the next couple of years could be very difficult. Let's look at the potential winners and losers (toss in some more if you think of them).


- Crazy leftist blogosphere. We won't hear the end of it, despite the fact that most of their seat takeovers are due to rather conservative, even pro-life, Democrats.

- The Democrat party, if their new, more conservative, politicians can help reign in the crazy leftists that pushed their party out of power.

- North Korea, al Qaeda, Iran, Syria, Hugo Chavez, Hamas, and all the other thugs and tyrants around the world. They're probably dancing in the streets.

- The Media, for flexing their muscles and dragging the Democrats over the finish line (one last time?). Despite polls showing that Americans overwhelmingly want smaller government the media has managed to convince the public that our surging economy sucks, our success in Iraq is a failure, our success in Afghanistan is irrelevant, and that one gay pedophile Republican who never actually committed a crime reflects badly on the whole party.

- American parasites, because they'll reap the rewards of putting their masters into office.

- Republicans, if they get their act together and realize what happens when you don't dance with the guy who brung you.

- Right-wing bloggers, because we'll have a lot to rage about for the next two years!


- Republicans, because they wasted their majority and lost it.

- Iraqis, because they'll probably be abandoned to the predations of their Islamofascist neighbors.

- Iranians, North Koreans, "moderate Muslims", and the rest of th people oppressed by our enemies, because things are now likely to get a lot worse before they get better.

- American taxpayers, those few of us who remain, because our income will be redistributed to the parasites who put the Democrats in office.

- Hillary Clinton, unless the Dems really pull a rabbit out of their hats and manage not to screw the world up too badly before 2008.

- Unborn babies, who will keep being aborted for a while longer.

Your reaction to the 2006 mid-term election results.
We're doomed! Pack up the family and head for the hills.
Bad, but not tragic.
It's too bad, but we get the government we deserve.
Much ado about nothing. There won't be much effect.
It's good to get some turnover in Washington.
The Republicans got what they deserved for screwing up the country.
Finally, we can impeach Bush!
Forget politics, the market is up on news of a divided government!
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Reader JV sent me an email a while ago with a link to get your CLUE personal property insurance report for free (once per year).

The C.L.U.E.® Personal Property report provides a five year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.

The C.L.U.E.® Auto report provides a five year history of automobile insurance losses associated with an individual. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.

A national search of public records from various sources including federal, state and local government agencies. You are provided the convenience of receiving search results that include records across our entire coverage area. Now you no longer have to contact individual government offices for your information.

A useful way to keep tabs on your insurance history.

Despite internet rumors and its membership in the triad of necessary and sufficient tools, it appears that duct tape can't cure warts.

Duct tape does not work any better than doing nothing to cure warts in schoolchildren, Dutch researchers reported on Monday in a study that contradicts a popular theory about an easy way to get rid of the unattractive lumps.

The study of 103 children aged 4 to 12 showed the duct tape worked only slightly better than using a corn pad, a sticky cushion that does not actually touch the wart and which was considered to be a placebo.

"After 6 weeks, the warts of 8 children (16 percent) in the duct tape group and the warts of 3 children (6 percent) in the placebo group had disappeared," the researchers wrote in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

They said this difference was not statistically significant.

However, extensive studies have proven that duct tape can cure baldness.

(HT: TheDailySpork.)

Since it's election day, let's answer the question that's really keeping people up at night.

Mark: Asset or Troll
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Following up on my previous post about marriage falling out of the majority, here's an encouraging perspective on older but wiser marriages.

In fact, increased education leads to better marriages and stronger families. College graduates are less likely to divorce--and more specifically, families with highly educated mothers are half as likely to split. So says an upcoming article in Demographic Research by Steven P. Martin, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland. Looking at marriages that began between 1990 and 1994, Mr. Martin found that, of marriages in which the wife had a college education (or more), only 16.5% dissolved in the first 10 years, compared with 38% in which the wife had only a high-school diploma.

Indeed, in a Harris Interactive poll that I commissioned earlier this year on this topic, 71% of men who earn in the top 10% for their age groups, or who have a graduate degree, said that a woman's career or educational success makes her more desirable as a wife, and 68% believe that smart women make better mothers. Not surprisingly, then, 90% of high-achieving men say that they want to marry--or have already married--a woman who is as intelligent as they are, or more intelligent.

Aside from everything Christine Whelan mentions in her article, my generation has seen the effects of divorce thanks to our parents, and I think we're determined not to make the same mistakes. That fear, along with our vast propserity, makes many people my age more gun-shy... which may turn out to be very beneficial in the long run.

When you vote, remember why Iraqis got to.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the GOP holds both houses of Congress. Why? Am I so used to winning that I am blinded to reality? Perhaps. I'm not incredibly confident in my prediction, but if I end up being right I'll look really smart!


I'm not alone in predicting that the GOP will hold on to power for another cycle.

Of course, Dick Morris is more pessimistic.

In the end, though, it was corruption that did the GOP in. In the '90s, Republican legislators were lean, ascetic and ideological - Reagan Republicans. Now they've grown self-indulgent and pecuniary.

Speaker Dennis Hastert's son left his music store in Illinois to move to Washington to become the lobbyist for Google. Hastert himself used his position to fund a highway project that had a lot to do with a big profit on a land deal nearby. Then-Majority Leader Tom Delay put his wife was on his PAC's payroll; she made $300,000. Voters may expect this kind of corruption from Democrats (Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has four lobbyist sons) but not from Republicans.

First the Republicans lost their virtue; now they'll lose their majority, at least in the House. What's ahead for the next two years? Not new legislation so much as investigations, subpoenas, hearings etc. Washington will be as effectively paralyzed as it was during President Clinton's impeachment trial. And, let us remember that it was in that incubator that Osama bin Laden was able to plan the 9/11 attacks.

If the Republicans lose it'll be because they've trumpeted themselves as the party of morality, but fallen far short.

Money doesn't grow on trees, but it does grow if you tend it carefully. CNN Money offers 25 Rules to Grow Rich By and I think they're well worth your time to peruse.

The most important vote that any Representative makes is their first: who they select to lead their party in the House, either as Speaker or as Minority Leader. Considering who is positioned to take over as Speaker if the Democrats win a majority of the House, let's take a look at Nancy Pelosi, communist.

How much is this unassuming "grandma" worth? The Center for Responsive Politics puts her in the $55 million neighborhood. Pretty nice neighborhood, huh?

Despite her protestations about those "tax cuts for the rich," she has never mentioned returning them to the federal Treasury where they rightfully belong. Go figure.

As I have reported previously in this space, Pelosi, the winner of the 2003 Cesar Chavez award from the United Farm Workers, hires only non-union workers on her $25 million Napa Valley vineyard.

Maybe this explains her firm opposition to any efforts to enhance border security and the flow of illegal cheap labor into the country from Mexico, speculates Investor's Business Daily.

According to Peter Schweizer's account in "Do As I Say (Not As I Do)," the luxury resort and restaurants she partly owns are also strictly non-union. The exclusive country club she partly owns failed to comply with existing environmental regulations for the past eight years – including a failure to protect endangered species.

So she's a hypocrite... not too surprising, but there's more.

As only WND has reported, Pelosi is a long-time member of the "Progressive Caucus" – or, as I call it, the Congressional Red Army Caucus. ...

In fact, she has even served on the executive committee of the socialist-leaning Progressive Caucus, a bloc of about 60 votes or nearly 30 percent of the minority vote in the lower chamber. Until 1999, the website of the Progressive Caucus was hosted by the Democratic Socialists of America. ...

Nevertheless, the goal of the Democratic Socialists of America has never been deeply hidden. Prior to the cleanup of its website in 1999, the DSA included a song list featuring "The Internationale," the worldwide anthem of communism and socialism. Another song on the site was "Red Revolution" sung to the tune of "Red Robin." The lyrics went: "When the Red Revolution brings its solution along, along, there'll be no more lootin' when we start shootin' that Wall Street throng. ..." Another song removed after WorldNetDaily's expose was "Are You Sleeping, Bourgeoisie?" The lyrics went: "Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie. And when the revolution comes, We'll kill you all with knives and guns, Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie."

In the last six years, the Progressive Caucus has been careful to moderate its image for mainstream consumption.

Are these the values of mainstream Democrats, or even most American leftists? If not, take a close look at the party you're voting for and the leaders you'll be putting into power.


Author and Democrat Orson Scott Card rightly points out that the War on Terror is the most important issue facing us in this election, and the Democrats simply cannot be trusted to win it. (And, of course, they don't even claim to want to win.)

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

To all intents and purposes, when the Democratic Party jettisoned Joseph Lieberman over the issue of his support of this war, they kicked me out as well. The party of Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the party I joined back in the 1970s -- is dead. Of suicide.

Card lays out exactly how disgraceful an American withdrawal would be:

You know: If America withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan and exposed everyone who had cooperated with us to reprisals.

As happened in South Vietnam. The negotiated peace was more or less holding after American withdrawal. But then a Democratic Congress refused to authorize any further support for the South Vietnamese government. No more armaments. No more budget.

In other words, we forcibly disarmed our allies, while their enemies continued to be supplied by the great Communist powers. The message was clear: Those who rely on America are fools. We didn't even have the decency to arrange for the evacuation of the people who had trusted us and risked the most in supporting what they thought was our mutual cause.

We did it again, this time in the Muslim world, in 1991, when Bush Senior encouraged a revolt against Saddam. He meant for the senior military officers to get rid of him in a coup; instead, the common people in the Shiite south rose up against Saddam.

Bush Senior did nothing as Saddam moved in and slaughtered them. The tragedy is that all it would have taken is a show of force on our part in support of the rebels, and Saddam's officers would have toppled him. Only when it became clear that we would do nothing did it become impossible for any high-ranking officials to take action. For the price of the relatively easy military action that would have made Saddam turn his troops around and leave the Shiite south, we could have gotten rid of him then -- and had grateful friends, perhaps, in the Shiite south.

That is part of our track record: Two times we persuaded people to commit themselves to action against oppressive enemies, only to abandon them. Do you think that would-be rebels in Iran and Syria and North Korea don't remember those lessons?

That's what the Democrats stand for. Don't let them win. If you have doubts about President Bush's strategy, read Card's whole piece; it is a brilliant defense that I wish the President would make for himself.

Update 2:

Thanks to WorldNetDaily for the link!

Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to die by hanging. If anyone deserves death, it's Saddam, so I hope there aren't too many tears shed by leftist "pacifists" who opposed the invasion and continue to share common cause with the fallen dictator.

A defiant Saddam Hussein shrugged off a possible death sentence, saying he would die without fear and the U.S. occupiers of his country would leave humiliated like they did in Vietnam, his lawyers said on Saturday.

They said a jovial and highly spirited Saddam chatted with them for more than three hours about the violence in Iraq and mounting U.S. losses just hours before an expected death sentence on Sunday in his trial for crimes against humanity.

The prospect of the sentence appeared to be the least of his concerns, they said, his focus instead being on the insurgency and the rising U.S. death toll.

"He was totally unconcerned about the verdict. In fact there was derision about the court and this farce," Khalil al-Dulaimi, the defense team's chief lawyer told Reuters by telephone from Baghdad.

It's so strange that Saddam Hussein and American leftists seem to share the same hopes and dreams. I just can't figure it out.

Fortunately, it sounds like Saddam was a little more shaken after the sentence was handed down than he wanted to appear beforehand.

Angry, shaking and defiant, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death this morning by hanging for ordering the massacre of Iraqi civilians.

"Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) and "Long live the nation!", he shouted, pointing defiantly at the judge as the verdict was delivered.

Looking away in disgust, and then staring angrily back at the judge he continued to shout "Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!"

He had refused to stand for the verdict and had to be lifted to his feet by two court bailiffs.

"Make him stand," the judge ordered as the former president stayed seated.

"Make him stand." Historical words. My wife, who is part Iraqi, says the world will be a better place once Saddam swings.

Does this new polling system from Pollhost have annoying ads or any other feature that you can see that should prevent me from using it?
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It seems like candidates are always dying before their election but after the filing deadline. The party can't put a different name on the ballot, but the deceased can't serve in office, which creates quite a dilemma. It seems wrong to continue campaigning for a dead candidate without even mentioning their passing, but there's no other politically satisfying option available.

A slick new campaign mailer shows a smiling Texas state representative and reminds voters of her many notable achievements in education, economics and politics. But what the ad doesn't say is that Republican Glenda Dawson died in September.

Dawson's campaign hopes she'll win re-election to avoid a shoo-in for the Democrats. There wasn't time to get another Republican on the ballot, but if Dawson wins, the governor would call a special election to fill the vacancy.

Backers say the new flier is a tribute to Dawson and did not attempt to conceal her death, although there's no mention of that on the mailed piece.

Someone needs to devise a better system, but I'm not sure what it should be.

In Los Angeles we didn't have to worry about such things, but here in Missouri I've had to quickly learn about wind chill and the heat index. No one had ever been able to give me a concrete definition of either term, so I turned to the ever-reliable Wikipedia for answers.

Wind chill is the apparent temperature felt on exposed skin due to the combination of air temperature and wind speed. Except at higher temperatures, where wind chill is considered less important, the wind chill temperature (often incorrectly called the "wind chill factor") is always lower than the air temperature, because any wind increases the rate at which moisture evaporates from the skin and carries heat away from the body. The phase change of water (in sweat) from liquid to vapor requires that the molecules reach a higher energy state. That energy is acquired by absorbing heat from surrounding tissue by conduction (see heat transfer).

Because wind chill is related to evaporation, dry inanimate objects are not affected by wind chill the way humans and animals are. Wind chill won't have much effect on your car, house, or outdoor machinery.

Similarly, the heat index is a measure of how much the ambient humidity is affecting evaporation.

The Heat index (HI) is an index that combines air temperature and relative humidity to determine an apparent temperature — how hot it actually feels. The human body normally cools itself by perspiration, or sweating, in which the water in the sweat evaporates and carries heat away from the body. However, when the relative humidity is high, the evaporation rate of water is reduced. This means heat is removed from the body at a lower rate, causing it to retain more heat than it would in dry air. Measurements have been taken based on subjective descriptions of how hot subjects feel for a given temperature and humidity, allowing an index to be made which corresponds a temperature and humidity combination to a higher temperature in dry air.

Humid air slows the evaporation of sweat and thereby reduces our ability to cool ourselves. Simple enough! Both pages have common formulas for calculating these values, if you're feeling adventurous.

Some ecologists (and economists?) are predicting that all fish populations will collapse by 2048 if we don't do something. Despite apparently being based on historical data, it doesn't take an ecologist to know that the prediction is absurd. In any event, the researchers' suggested solution is idiotic and based on non-economic principles -- hence my surprise at the alleged presence of economists on the research team (none of whom are named).

Clambakes, crabcakes, swordfish steaks and even humble fish sticks could be little more than a fond memory in a few decades. If current trends of overfishing and pollution continue, the populations of just about all seafood face collapse by 2048, a team of ecologists and economists warns in a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

"Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world's ocean, we saw the same picture emerging. In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems," said the lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. ...

"At this point 29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed - that is, their catch has declined by 90 percent. It is a very clear trend, and it is accelerating," Worm said. "If the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime - by 2048."

"It looks grim and the projection of the trend into the future looks even grimmer," he said. "But it's not too late to turn this around. It can be done, but it must be done soon. We need a shift from single species management to ecosystem management. It just requires a big chunk of political will to do it."

The researchers called for new marine reserves, better management to prevent overfishing and tighter controls on pollution.

The real solution to this perfect tragedy of the commons is not to heap on inefficient government regulation, but rather to remove the fish populations from the commons altogether. Fish populations should be sold directly to the highest bidders, and the seafood corporations that buy them will then have a financial interest in protecting their investment.

Sound crazy? It worked for the endangered Black Rhino populations in South Africa. No one bothered to protect "public property", instead poaching the animals nearly to extinction. But once they were sold to private reserves, the new owners took care of the animals, bred them, harvested them, and now the population is recovering.

More generally, "scientists" and the public need to be taught that government control isn't the first place to jump for every answer to every problem. Government power is an enormous sledge hammer that crushes everything in its path... sometimes that's better than the status quo, but usually it's still far short of ideal.


My wife just sent me a link to an article about scientists who agree with me that the threat of fish depletion is nonsense.

"It's just mind-boggling stupid," said Ray Hilborn, a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

"I'm worried about some areas of the world — like Africa — but other areas of the world have figured out how to do effective fishery management."

For example, most of the harvests in the North Pacific off Alaska — where most Seattle fleets fish — are not in sharp decline.

Searcher GD emailed me to say that as of today my site contains a page that qualifies for quite an interesting Googlewhack. What's a Googlewhack? It's simple: a search on Google consisting of two words with no quotation marks that returns only a single entry. As you can imagine, Googlewhacks are very rare. I won't tell you the words in my own Googlewhack lest I destroy the phenomenon when this entry itself is indexed, but click here to see my Googlewhack via Tinyurl; the words are great!

I never attended a single-sex school, but it doesn't surprise me that single-sex education works well for many types of students. I'm glad that the federal government has decided that single-sex schools aren't inherently discriminatory, and I hope that those students who would benefit from such an environment will be given the opportunity.

The government's long war against single-sex schooling ended Tuesday, when the Department of Education published rules that will make it easier for public educators to offer girls-only and boys-only schools or classes without running afoul of Title IX. That section of the 1972 Education Act barred sex discrimination in all education programs and activities that receive federal funding. While it most famously kicked doors open for female college athletes, it also compelled men-only public universities to admit women.

More recently, however, Title IX has been used to bludgeon elementary- and secondary-school educators who are trying to improve learning opportunities for girls, as well as boys. Inspired by evidence that some children learn better in sex-specific classrooms, more than 240 public and charter schools around the country have begun offering single-sex education (although not all provide it for every course). Most significantly, the typical student is from a low-income, minority family. Parents compete fiercely, often by lottery, for the chance to give their kids the kind of learning environment that wealthier parents regularly pay for at all those single-sex private schools.

Such desperate scrambling might not be necessary if Title IX hadn't banned most single-sex education as discriminatory. The Young Women's Leadership School in East Harlem, which recently sent 100% of its graduating class to college, has thrived largely due to overwhelming community support and political protection--Hillary Clinton is a champion of it--that have kept Title IX watchdogs at bay. The threat of ACLU legal action hangs over all single-sex schools and has kept some from ever opening.

As of this week, however, educators can contemplate opening single-sex schools or classes without running afoul of the law. The Education Department now officially says that Title IX does not make single-sex education discriminatory, so long as it is voluntary and takes place in an environment that also includes comparable coeducational schools and classes.

"Voluntary" for the parents I'd assume, not the students. In any event, what are your experiences with or opinions about single-sex education?

Even though leftists decry questions over their patriotism and claim they aren't on the side of the terrorists, the terrorists always endorse the Democrats for some reason.

Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.

Muhammad Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said the Democrats' talk of withdrawal from Iraq makes him feel "proud."

"As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk," he told WND. "Very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible withdrawal."

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the policy of withdrawal "proves the strategy of the resistance is the right strategy against the occupation."

"We warned the Americans that this will be their end in Iraq," said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department. "They did not succeed in stealing Iraq's oil, at least not at a level that covers their huge expenses. They did not bring stability. Their agents in the [Iraqi] regime seem to have no chance to survive if the Americans withdraw."

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.

So yes, the Democrat party is certainly emboldening our enemies with their talk of surrender. Remember that just about two years ago Osama Bin Laden endorsed the Democrats, too. America would be much stronger if Democrat politicians weren't continually dangling our nation over the precipice of defeat.

This article by Jacob Sullum exemplifies why, despite my libertarian sympathies, I wouldn't trust our country entirely to them because libertarians' priorities are all wrong. Sullum goes on at length about how the Republican domination of government has led to overspending and waste, and almost all of his points are correct except that he totally neglects to mention the single defining issue of our time: the War on Terror.

Hassett's specific topic is federal jobs, which shrank by 200,000 under Bill Clinton but have grown by 79,000 under George W. Bush. "Strange as it sounds," Hassett writes, "Clinton's record in this particular area is exemplary next to Bush's."

The new Department of Homeland Security probably accounts for all those 79,000 and more (at least 50,000 airport screeners alone). Should the federal government be screening luggage? I don't know if it's ideal, but the old system sure wasn't working.

I'm eagerly anticipating a Republican defeat because the party richly deserves it after failing so miserably to deliver on its promises of smaller (or even slightly less gargantuan) government. The combination of a Democratic Congress and a Republican president could not possibly be worse, and might very well be better, than the current arrangement, in which a Republican executive and a Republican legislature conspire to mulct our money and filch our freedoms.

Fine and good except for the fact that we're in a fight for our lives against Islamofascists who want to do more than waste our money -- they want to kill us. I believe that a divided government might be more stingy with my tax dollars, but I don't believe for a second that giving the Democrats another inch of power would help us defeat Islamofascism or make us any safer.

Bush and the Republican Congress turned Clinton's budget surpluses into deficits that peaked at $413 billion in fiscal year 2004. Federal spending as a share of GDP, which fell under Clinton to 18.5 percent, is again above 20 percent. Discretionary spending has increased faster under Bush than it did under Lyndon Johnson, no slouch in doling out taxpayer dollars. Earmarks have reached record levels, and the abuse of emergency spending bills is rampant.

No mention at all that "discretionary spending" includes military and homeland defense, which yes, have increased. I wonder why? True, there have been massive increases in addition to defense spending, but not all the deficit is due to pork.

Far from reforming entitlement programs, the Republicans compassionately created an exorbitant Medicare drug benefit that will add trillions of dollars to the program's long-term shortfall--the gift that keeps on taking. Far from reducing the federal government's scope, they have extended its reach into state and local matters such as education, abortion, marriage law, and end-of-life medical decisions.

Yes, the Medicare drug benefit is wasteful. As for the other "local matters" that Sullum claims Republicans have extended the federal government's reach into:

- Education: The federal government was already way too involved. The No Child Left Behind act is certainly flawed, but at least it attempts to require that federal dollars be spent usefully. However, I'd side with the libertarians and eliminate the Department of Education entirely.

- Abortion: The federal courts removed this issue from local or state control long before Republicans were in charge.

- Marriage law: Sullum is presumably referring to the issue of gay marriage. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage act in 1996. Federal involvement so far seems to be limited to making sure that states don't run roughshod over each other.

- End-of-life medical decisions: Again I'd agree with the libertarians. If states can handle murder, they can handle euthanasia.

Sullum tangentially refers to the War on Terror in these next paragraphs, but only to imply that he'd prefer that we didn't fight it so vigorously.

Bush has either actively sought bigger government, as with the Medicare bill and the No Child Left Behind Act, or acquiesced in it, as with transportation spending and farm subsidies. Returning the favor, the Republicans who control Congress have acquiesced in the expansion of executive power, behaving as if they expect their party to control the White House forever.

It takes no leap of faith to believe that a Congress run by Democrats would be more inclined to impose limits on the president's surveillance, detention, and war powers. Or to suggest that Bush might suddenly find his veto pen when confronted by free-spending Democrats instead of free-spending Republicans.

Executive power always expands during wars, and then tends to contract again later. It's a dynamic system. Yes, it would have been nice if the Republicans had stuck with the small-government principles that led to the Republican take-over of Congress in 1994, but they didn't. It was a huge missed opportunity. However, even though wasting money is bad it's not as bad as would be losing the War on Terror; as Sullum acknowledges, it appears that President Bush acquiesced to Congressional demands for spending in exchange for the power he needs to win the war. He would probably have had to have made the same compromises with a Democrat Congress, and if the Democrats win next week the only difference will be their reluctance to let him fight on our behalf.

NASA has an interesting high-level description of potential interstellar propulsion technologies based on current science. They aren't as cool as Star Trek warp drives, but at least they're somewhat based in reality. The Project Orion concept is my favorite.

Stanislaw Ulam realized that nuclear explosions could not yet be realistically contained in a combustion chamber. Such a project did briefly exist, named Helios, but its theoretical performance was so poor that it never got beyond the drawing board.

Instead, the Orion design would have worked by dropping fission or thermonuclear explosives out the rear of a vehicle, detonating them 200 feet (60 m) out, and catching the blast with a thick steel or aluminum pusher plate.

Large multi-story high shock absorbers (pneumatic springs) were to have absorbed the impulse from the plasma wave as it hit the pusher plate, spreading the millisecond shock wave over several seconds and thus giving an acceptable ride. The long arm pistons proved one of the most difficult design features but many members of the team said that this seemed solvable. Low pressure gas bags were also used for a primary shock absorber. The two sets of shock absorption systems were tuned to different frequencies to avoid resonance.

One aspect of the proposed vessel seems counter-intuitive today; because of the force involved in the thermonuclear detonations and the need to absorb the energy without harm, large, massive vessel designs were actually more efficient. Early designs had crew compartments and storage areas that were several stories tall, as opposed to contemporary chemical rockets whose height was almost all multi-stage fuel tanks with relatively little payload.

Here's more on spacecraft propulsion.

I'm curious about what everyone else thinks, so don't hesitate to comment whether you agree with me or not. The recent Kerry debacle and his defense thereof has really crystalized my opinion that a history of military service should give a politician or pundit absolutely zero additional authority when opining on any matter, even national security. I pity John Kerry for how he wasted his potential over the course of his life, and his recent comments defending his "botched joke" illustrate why admiration for military service, though well-deserved, should not translate into the political realm.

The Massachusetts Democrat called the White House attack "a classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic" that reveals Republicans'"willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics."

"I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes," he said. "It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did."

Kerry is of course free to be disgusted at whatever he pleases, and lies are generally to be condemned, but America is not Starship Troopers in which suffrage is reserved for soldiers. In fact, our Constitution expressly and purposefully puts the military under civilian control. Furthermore, why aren't any Democrats condemning the inherent sexism behind Kerry's comments? If none but soldiers are qualified to opine on military matters, where does that leave presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton and other women who are biologically incapable of military service?

And so, while I have great admiration for our soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, and all the rest who defend our country, and I am immensely thankful for the security they provide at great cost, I do not think their present service should later give their opinions any weight beyond the bare merits of their arguments.


Currently-serving troops apparently have some worthwhile contributions to the debate, however.

(HT: The Daily Spork.)

Check out Campaigns Wikia for a wiki-style approach to aggregating political information. They've got a decent amount of information about the upcoming 2006 elections, and I imagine everything will continue to get fleshed out over the next couple years.

(HT: Bernardo.)

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