August 2008 Archives

Please take a minute to Digg the MindThrow site launch announcement. Even if you don't have a Digg account, it's easy to make one.

Oh, that Palin!

Well, she's certainly an exciting pick, but I've got two concerns.

First, does Sarah Palin have the experience to be President of the United States? It's very hard to believe that she does. Even if she turns out to be as brilliant as Barack Obama, brilliance alone is not sufficient for the job. She certainly has done a lot to reform the corruption in Alaska, but she's only just started! She would have been a much more convincing pick if she were just finishing two terms as governor, rather than being midway through her first. I like everything I've read about her, except her level of experience. It makes me nervous.

Second, and related, she undermines McCain's strongest argument against Barack Obama: that Obama doesn't have the experienced to be President. Fact one: Obama wouldn't have been nominated if he weren't black. Fact two: Palin wouldn't have been nominated if she weren't a women. That doesn't mean that blacks and women shouldn't be nominated to the highest offices, but I don't think race or gender should be the overriding factors as they were in these two cases.

Now look, I'm not naive; I understand that the question of governing is only relevant if you can win the election... and Obama's skin color and Palin's reproductive organs help them win. I don't like it, but too bad. Maybe these sorts of "identity" candidates are what's required to get America past its collective guilt over the long-running dominance of white males. If so, maybe that's a benefit in itself. Maybe once we've elected the most attractive tokens we can find, our society will finally banish the spectre of identify politics and be free to promote the most qualified people regardless of race or gender.

*holds breath*

Politico's coverage is excellent. "6 things the Palin pick says about McCain" and "The story behind the Palin surprise".

Last night during his acceptance speech Barack Obama said:

That's the promise of America the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; The fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep.

Ironically, Obama's actual brother lives in a hut in Kenya on less than one dollar per month.

The Italian edition of Vanity Fair said that it had found George Hussein Onyango Obama living in a hut in a ramshackle town of Huruma on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Mr Obama, 26, the youngest of the presidential candidate's half-brothers, spoke for the first time about his life, which could not be more different than that of the Democratic contender.

"No-one knows who I am," he told the magazine, before claiming: "I live here on less than a dollar a month."

According to Italy's Vanity Fair his two metre by three metre shack is decorated with football posters of the Italian football giants AC Milan and Inter, as well as a calendar showing exotic beaches of the world.

This leaves me with the fear that "my brother's keeper" is just Democrat-speak for higher taxes and more government programs. It sounds like Obama intends to be much more generous with taxpayer money than he is with his own money towards his own family.

David Brooks hilariously addresses the Democratic National Convention. Seriously, that's funny stuff.

We got to know Barack and Michelle Obama, two tall, thin, rich, beautiful people who don’t perspire, but who nonetheless feel compassion for their squatter and smellier fellow citizens. We know that Barack could have gone to a prestigious law firm, like his big donors in the luxury boxes, but he chose to put his ego aside to become a professional politician, president of the United States and redeemer of the human race. We heard about his time as a community organizer, the three most fulfilling months of his life.

We were thrilled by his speech in front of the Greek columns, which were conscientiously recycled from the concert, “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis.” We were honored by his pledge, that if elected president, he will serve at least four months before running for higher office. We were moved by his campaign slogan, “Vote Obama: He’s better than you’ll ever be.” We were inspired by dozens of Democratic senators who declared their lifelong love of John McCain before denouncing him as a reactionary opportunist who would destroy the country.


I like his work, but I'm not sure Michael Palin is even qualified to be President since he wasn't born in America.

I love everything I see and hear about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. I don't know him that well yet because he only gets national media coverage when something extraordinary happens, but still, I'm impressed. Check out his description of how conservative principles are rebuilding Louisiana. Here are the effects:

The rest of the country is starting to take notice. Citing strong fiscal management, three major credit-rating agencies -- Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch -- recently upgraded Louisiana's bond ratings. The Center for Public Integrity noted that Louisiana's new governmental ethics laws regarding legislative disclosure will increase our ranking to first in the country, from 44th. For the first time, U.S. News & World Report ranked LSU in the top tier of its list of America's Best Colleges. And Forbes magazine increased its growth-prospects ranking for Louisiana to 17th from 45th.

Maybe Obama should consider some of Jindal's successes while he's trying to figure out how to "rebuild" America after Hurricane Bush.

John McCain says he hasn't decided on a VP pick yet.

He told KDKA NewsRadio in Pittsburgh in an interview taped Wednesday: "I haven't decided yet so I can't tell you."

McCain, who spoke with the radio station from his home in Arizona, told people late Wednesday that he wasn't going to make a final decision until after he talked with his wife. She has been in the country of Georgia this week and returned late Wednesday.

Translation: I respect and depend on the advice of women when I make big decisions; vote for me, disillusioned Hillary supporters!

Your printer says its out of ink, but your print jobs aren't coming out faded... what gives? Yes, the ink companies are trying to screw you. Notice I said the ink companies and not the printer companies, because these guys make all their money off selling ink and toner.

I bought a cheap laser printer a couple years ago, and for a while, it worked perfectly. The printer, a Brother HL-2040, was fast, quiet, and produced sheet after sheet of top-quality prints—until one day last year, when it suddenly stopped working. I consulted the user manual and discovered that the printer thought its toner cartridge was empty. It refused to print a thing until I replaced the cartridge. But I'm a toner miser: For as long as I've been using laser printers, it's been my policy to switch to a new cartridge at the last possible moment, when my printouts get as faint as archival copies of the Declaration of Independence. But my printer's pages hadn't been fading at all. Did it really need new toner—or was my printer lying to me?

To find out, I did what I normally do when I'm trying to save $60: I Googled. Eventually I came upon a note on posted by a fellow calling himself OppressedPrinterUser. This guy had also suspected that his Brother was lying to him, and he'd discovered a way to force it to fess up. Brother's toner cartridges have a sensor built into them; OppressedPrinterUser found that covering the sensor with a small piece of dark electrical tape tricked the printer into thinking he'd installed a new cartridge. I followed his instructions, and my printer began to work. At least eight months have passed. I've printed hundreds of pages since, and the text still hasn't begun to fade. On, many Brother owners have written in to thank OppressedPrinterUser for his hack. One guy says that after covering the sensor, he printed 1,800 more pages before his toner finally ran out.

I always buy third-party ink, and I hate printing in general.

Lots of people have been writing about Obama's temple, and there's a lot of speculation about what it represents. I think the obvious answer though is that the stage is a reference to Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech 45 years ago today.

Obama's temple

Lincoln Memorial

Barack Obama has also included both MLK and Abraham Lincoln as two of his heroes on numerous occasions. Naturally Obama wants to visually recreate that historic speech, staring himself in the role of Martin Luther King Jr. QED.

Here's a scary list of S&P 500 stocks that are down more than 50% from the index's recent peak. Lots of financial companies, real estate, car manufacturers, but also a surprising number or tech and energy stocks. Strange mix.

I read somewhere that at the end of World War 2 there were only around 60 countries in the world, while there are now around 200 (depending on how you count). I'd really like to see a timeline that shows the number of countries throughout history. Any pointers?

Looks like it's not all wine and roses in the Iranian economy either. Unfortunately for them, their economy isn't as broadly diversified and as free as America's.

Ahmadinejad is expected to run for a second term in Iran's next presidential election, slated to take place early in 2009. His reformist rivals are expected to attack him especially on his economic policies.

Iran suffers from a rising consumer price index, high percentage of unemployment and an inflation of 26 percent.

Ahmadinejad's radicalism is the duct tape that's holding the Iranian state together. Without the Islamic nationalism he foments Iran would collapse from within. As the situation deteriorates, demographic forces will push Iran towards regional imperialism, which will force the West to fight to stop it.

I'm almost speechless! Democrats at the Denver convention are echoing some of my complaints about America's teachers' unions and getting cheered!

Things We Thought We'd Never See: Democrats Rally Against the Teachers' Unions! I went to the Ed Challenge for Change event mainly to schmooze. I almost didn't stay for the panels, being in no mood for what I expected would, even among these reformers, be an hour of vague EdBlob talk about "change" and "accountability" and "resources" that would tactfully ignore the elephant in the room, namely the teachers' unions. I was so wrong. One panelist--I think it was Peter Groff, president of the Colorado State Senate, got the ball rolling by complaining that when the children's agenda meets the adult agenda, the "adult agenda wins too often." Then Cory Booker of Newark attacked teachers unions specifically--and there was applause. In a room of 500 people at the Democratic convention! "The politics are so vicious," Booker complained, remembering how he'd been told his political career would be over if he kept pushing school choice, how early on he'd gotten help from Republicans rather than from Democrats. The party would "have to admit as Democrats we have been wrong on education." Loud applause! Mayor Adrian Fenty of D.C. joined in, describing the AFT's attempt to block the proposed pathbreaking D.C. teacher contract. Booker denounced "insane work rules," and Groff talked about doing the bidding of "those folks who are giving money [for campaigns], and you know who I'm talking about." Yes, they did!

This account is the single best thing I've ever seen come from the Democrats. I'm sure they and I could quibble about the details, but their recognition of the source of the problems facing our public education system is a huge step forward. I'm stunned.

(HT: Instapundit.)

Finally, someone uploaded the video of Joe Biden bragging about his IQ!

Ace explains how Bidens brags are bogus, to boot.

Barack Obama has picked Senator Joe "Big IQ" Biden as his running mate! Maybe Obama is drawn to Biden's deft touch on race relations, and I guess Biden is so impressed with Obama's cleanliness that he can overlook his unreadiness for the presidency.

Amazing. Has Obama completely lost his mind?

I'm sure the abortion industry will be disappointed, but I'm happy to hear that Japanese researches have extracted stem cells from wisdom teeth.

Japanese scientists said Friday they had derived stem cells from wisdom teeth, opening another way to study deadly diseases without the ethical controversy of using embryos.

Researchers at the government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said they created stem cells of the type found in human embryos using the removed wisdom teeth of a 10-year-old girl.

"This is significant in two ways," team leader Hajime Ogushi told AFP. "One is that we can avoid the ethical issues of stem cells because wisdom teeth are destined to be thrown away anyway.

"Also, we used teeth that had been extracted three years ago and had been preserved in a freezer. That means that it's easy for us to stock this source of stem cells."

Awesome. Combined with low intensity pulsed ultrasound we'll have an unlimited supply of stem cells! (Assuming regrown teeth have stem cells in them, which they may not; what do I know?)

Electric cars seem hard, but apparently electric motorcycles are easier, and even cooler.

"I love to ride. That's the real reason I did it," he told us with a laugh. "I wanted to make a product that's crazy fast and fun to ride."

The Zero X from Zero Motorcycles is an EV you can actually buy right now for $7,450, and it's a real motorcycle. It weighs a bantamweight 140 pounds with the lithium-ion battery, and with a 23-horsepower motor it'll hit 57 mph and leave a fat streak of rubber on the pavement getting there.

Saiki says the street version coming next year will be even quicker.

Looks like fun, but motorcycles are too dangerous for me.

(HT: NW.)

So John McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns. Yep, that highlights how much richer he is than the average American. I don't think the information is very relevant to his candidacy, however. I'd be happier if he were a self-made millionaire from private industry than if he were a pauper, but I guess he's somewhere in between those two extremes... like most of us.

I suppose it would be similar to if I were vacationing in Mexico and met a local who asked how many computers I own. Who knows? I'm so rich, I've got old unused computers gathering dust in my closet! Compared to most of the world, the average American has vast wealth. In general, that's speaks well of us and isn't something to be ashamed about.

The implication behind the question is more shameful: that we average Americans should be resentful of McCain's wealth and should punish him for it by voting for Barack Obama.

How about another entry in the virtual world series? Enhancing video with still photography.

(HT: BM and BoingBoing.)

John Stossel is right about the economic idiocy of "energy independence":

Most every politician and pundit says "energy independence" is a great idea. Presidents have promised it for 35 years. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were self-sufficient, protected from high prices, supply disruptions and political machinations?

The hitch is that even if the United States were energy independent, it would be protected from none of those things. To think otherwise is to misunderstand basic economics and the global marketplace.

To be for "energy independence" is to be against trade. But trade makes us as safe. Crop destruction from this summer's floods in the Midwest should remind us of the folly of depending only on ourselves. Achieving "energy independence" would expose us to unnecessary risks -- such as storms that knock out oil refineries or droughts that create corn -- and ethanol -- shortages.

Trade also saves us money.

I think Stossel misunderstands McCain's desire for "strategic independence", however.

"I have set before the American people an energy plan, the Lexington Project -- named for the town where Americans asserted their independence once before," John McCain said. "This nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025".

Barack Obama, promising to "set America on path to energy independence," is upset that we send millions to other countries. "They get our money because we need their oil".

I don't think the idea is to use domestic oil/energy exclusively, but to break the strategic power that OPEC and our enemies derive from their oil reserves.

Sen. John McCain says he would seek to break U.S. reliance on foreign oil by 2025 by stepping up offshore drilling, nuclear power and conservation.Aides to the Republican presidential contender say his aim is strategic energy independence - a U.S. economy where oil is no longer be the primary fuel or dependent on cartels such as OPEC.

"Strategic independence" is part domestic energy policy, and part foreign policy.

Our Olympics correspondent has snapped this exclusive photo of the Chinese women's gymnastics team preparing for the 2012 games in London.

Unfortunately, not all the women make the cut.

Here's a fun quiz: identify the 100 most common English words. I only got 44.

(HT: GeekPress, who got 45.)

I'd been meaning to post these for a week or so but hadn't gotten around to it.

Jonah Goldberg explains that our capitalist system itself is the most valuable national asset we've got.

Capitalism is the greatest system ever created for alleviating general human misery, and yet it breeds ingratitude.

People ask, “Why is there poverty in the world?” It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil. As individuals and as a species, we are born naked and penniless, bereft of skills or possessions. Likewise, in his civilizational infancy man was poor, in every sense. He lived in ignorance, filth, hunger, and pain, and he died very young, either by violence or disease.

The interesting question isn’t “Why is there poverty?” It’s “Why is there wealth?” Or: “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”

At the end of the day, the first answer is capitalism, rightly understood. That is to say: free markets, private property, the spirit of entrepreneurialism and the conviction that the fruits of your labors are your own.

For generations, many thought prosperity was material stuff: factories and forests, gold mines and gross tons of concrete poured. But we now know that these things are merely the fringe benefits of wealth. Stalin built his factories, Mao paved over the peasants. But all that truly prospered was misery and alienation.

A recent World Bank study found that a nation’s wealth resides in its “intangible capital” — its laws, institutions, skills, smarts and cultural assumptions. “Natural capital” (minerals, croplands, etc.) and “produced capital” (factories, roads, and so on) account for less than a quarter of the planet’s wealth. In America, intangible capital — the stuff in our heads, our hearts, and our books — accounts for 82 percent of our wealth.

Which is why idiot ideas like "stimulus" tax rebates do far more harm than good: a few dollars in our pockets are worth far less than the damage such a stimulus (and the oppressive tax regime that underlies it) causes to our fundamental capitalist system. We need to aggressively protect our economic liberty if we want to protect our economic health. The latter is a result of the former.

Andrew Roth explains how globalization and economic liberty not only create wealth, but also foment political liberty. As he excerpts from The PayPal Wars:

We're definitely onto something big. The need PayPal answers is monumental. Everyone in the world needs money - to get paid, to trade, to live. Paper money is an ancient technology and an inconvenient means of payment. You can run out of it. It wears out. It can get lost or stolen. In the twenty-first century, people need a form of money that's more convenient and secure, something that can be accessed from anywhere with a PDA or an Internet connection.

Of course, what we're calling 'convenient' for American users will be revolutionary for the developing world. Many of these countries' governments play fast and loose with their currencies. They use inflation and sometimes wholesale currency devaluations, like we saw in Russia and several Southeast Asian countries last year, to take wealth away from their citizens. Most of the ordinary people there never have an opportunity to open an offshore account or to get their hands on more than a few bills of a stable currency like U.S. dollars.

Eventually PayPal will be able to change this. In the future, when we make our service available outside the U.S. and as Internet penetration continues to expand to all economic tiers of people, PayPal will give citizens worldwide more direct control over their currencies than they ever had before. It will be nearly impossible for corrupt governments to steal wealth from their people through their old means because if they try the people will switch to dollars or Pounds or Yen, in effect dumping the worthless local currency for something more secure.

Capitalism breeds liberty of all sorts, and when you squelch it (as the global left is wont to do) you can't help but engender oppression of every kind.

In case anyone is curious, I've compiled a table that shows the number of medals China has won in past Olympics, along with their ranking. It appears that China either did not compete or was not competitive before 1984.

Year Rank Gold Silver Bronze Total
2004 2 32 17 14 63
2000 3 28 16 15 59
1996 4 16 22 12 50
1992 4 16 22 16 54
1988 11 5 11 12 28
1984 4 15 8 9 32

Considering the performance of American athletes at the 1984 Olympics, China's medal count (so far) in 2008 isn't so far out of line that one must suspect them of widespread cheating. (Other than in women's gymnastics, anyway.)

Charlie Martin wonders if a one-room schoolhouse model would be economically feasible in modern times. This pondering leads him to the titular question. First off, what kind of results would one expect from such an education system?

Once upon a time, an American public school student was expected to be able to name principal parts of speech; define and give examples of verse, stanza, and paragraph; write an intelligible one-page composition; compute interests, discounts, and tax rates; describe major events in U.S. history; have an understanding of the U.S. government; and be sufficiently familiar with geography to be able to talk about climate, its causes and effects, and to identify and locate continents, major rivers, and important world capitals, in order to graduate.

From the eighth grade.

Sounds nice, but certainly our conveyor-belt mass-production public education system is more efficient than a one-room school, right?

So, as a thought experiment, I constructed a proposal for a revived one-room school. Since I had a cost per student for New York, I’d develop a plan for New York City — in fact, for midtown Manhattan, using midtown Manhattan rents. Could I pay a teacher enough to live on, with a one-room school, based on New York costs per student?

The full details are on a page on my own blog Explorations, but here are the basics. The Adams County school has room for 24 students, so we assume 24 students in Manhattan, and a one-room school built in quality office space in midtown. I laid out a floor plan and discovered we could fit it nicely into 1,050 square feet; equip it with good quality desks and chairs and with one iMac computer for every two students, plus one for the teacher and a Mac Pro as a classroom server; and add Internet connections and $1,000 per student for books and supplies. How much remained to hire a teacher?

$230,000. Almost a quarter of a million dollars.

Our modern public education system is a farce that not only produces a sub-standard product (students who can barely read) but does so at exorbitant expense. Go read the details and ponder for yourself where all the money is being wasted.

China confiscated over 300 Bibles from four American Christians yesterday.

The Bibles were taken from the group's checked luggage after they landed at the airport in the city of Kunming, said Pat Klein, head of Vision Beyond Borders. The group, based in Sheridan, Wyoming, distributes Bibles and Christian teaching materials around the world to "strengthen the persecuted church," according to its Web site.

The group arrived in China on Sunday and had intended to distribute the Bibles to people in the city, Klein told the AP in a telephone interview while still at the airport.

"I heard that there's freedom of religion in China, so why is there a problem for us to bring Bibles?" Klein said. "We had over 300 copies and customs took all of them from us."

Officially, you heard right; in reality, you heard wrong. China doesn't have much freedom of anything.

(HT: JW.)

Almost two years ago I posted about Microsoft's Photosynth technology, and now they've taken it to the next level with a project called "Finding Paths Through the World's Photos".

Simply astounding.

(HT: I Started Something.)

Looks like McCain hit a homerun. Jolly good.

My favorite parts:

  • Obama says that Justice Clarance Thomas didn't have enough experience to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Yes, let's make this election about experience!
  • Obama says that the question of when babies get human rights is "above my pay-grade". Uh, aren't you trying for the top job in the land? Whose opinion does matter then, if not yours?
  • McCain wants to cut taxes for everyone.
  • McCain's toughest decision: deciding to refuse an early release from captivity in Vietnam.
  • Obama's toughest decision: not supporting the Iraq War. How was that a tough decision? It made him wildly popular. And doesn't it being "tough" imply that he was conflicted over the matter?
  • McCain was smart to name the failure of his first marriage as his "biggest moral failing". It's going to come up, and he was smart to address it first.

I'm glad to hear that McCain's appearance tonight has finally convinced some very smart people that he can actually win the election. As I've been saying all along.

I've always wondered why the Olympics have (tentatively, inconsistently) disallowed professional athletes, and I find the backstory very appealing:

The English public schools of the second half of the 19th century had a major influence on many sports. The schools contributed to the rules and influenced the governing bodies of those sports out of all proportion to their size. They subscribed to the Ancient Greek and Roman belief that sport formed an important part of education, an attitude summed up in the saying: mens sana in corpore sano – a sound mind in a healthy body. In this ethos, a gentleman was one who become an all-rounder, not the best at one specific thing. Class prejudice against "trade" reinforced this attitude. Apart from class considerations there was the typically English concept of "fairness," in which practicing or training was considered as tantamount to cheating; it meant that you considered it more important to win than to take part. Those who practiced a sport professionally were considered to have an unfair advantage over those who practiced it merely as a "hobby."

I enjoy playing sports and games of all types, but I typically prefer games to sports and I've just realized that the "practice" angle is a big part of the reason. Very few people practice games to the same extent that sports are practiced, and since I don't practice either one it's just not very fun to play with people who do. I enjoy learning and experimentation, which seem more prevalent in games than in sports.

Paradoxically, I'm quite competitive and always play to win... I just like being able to have a chance at winning without having to practice in advance. Once you've practiced something and learned the narrow tactics that enable optimal play, the experimentation is over and all that's left is rigid execution of the prescribed tactic. That's no fun! A computer can execute a tactic, but only a human can create one (so far anyway).

Potential Obama VP Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia, credits Obama for the cease-fire between Russia and Georgia. (If there really is a cease-fire.)

It was a bad crisis for the world. It required tough words but also a smart approach to call on the international community to step in. And I’m very, very happy that the Senator's request for a ceasefire has been complied with by President Medvedev.

Just imagine how powerful he'll be if he actually gets elected!

While it's appealing on the surface to push for an "everyone wins" solution to the Russio-Georgian war that allows the break-away provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to vote on independence, the long-term result of this approach will be a proliferation of tiny, fragile nations that are incapable of protecting and maintaining their own sovereignty. Is a nation that cannot deter its enemies from attacking and defend its borders when necessary really sovereign? Is a nation that depends on the good-will and assistance of international power-brokers to sustain its territorial integrity sovereign?

It's not that might-makes-right, but might is what transforms rights into reality. Without might, rights are an ephemeral abstraction that can evaporate in an instant.


The brilliantly cynical Spengler agrees that "loser" states shouldn't be coddled:

There is no longer any reason to put up with the tantrums of long-redundant tribes. If 3.7 million ethnic Georgians have the right to break away from the 142 million population of the Russian Federation, why shouldn't the 100,000 Ossetians living in Georgia break away and form their own state as well? Most of them have acquired Russian passports and want nothing to do with the Georgians. The Ossetians have spoken their variant of Persian for more than a millennium and had their own kingdom during the Middle Ages.

If the West is going to put itself at risk for 3.8 million ethnic Georgians, roughly the population of Los Angeles, or 5.4 million Tibetans, or 2 million Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, why shouldn't Russia take risks for the South Ossetians, not to mention the 100,000 Abkhaz speakers in Georgia's secessionist Black Sea province? Once the infinite regress of ethnic logic gets into motion, there is no good reason not to pull the world apart like taffy.

Forget the Kosovo Albanians, the South Ossetians, the Abkhazians, Saakashvili and the Dalai Lama. These are relics of an older world that might deserve their own theme park, but not their own state. Precisely what are 3.8 million freedom-loving Georgians supposed to contribute to American strategic interests with its US$2 billion a year of exports consisting (according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook) of "scrap metal, wine, mineral water, ores, vehicles, fruits and nuts"? Georgia's hope was to lever its geographical position on the Russia border by making itself useful to the American military.

I'm starting to think Spengler has been right all along and that we were foolish to take the Georgians in as allies in the first place. I'll need to do some more pondering.

Georgians are asking tough but fair questions:

As a Russian jet bombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer, asked me: “Why won’t America and Nato help us? If they won’t help us now, why did we help them in Iraq?”

A similar sense of betrayal coursed through the conversations of many Georgians here yesterday as their troops retreated under shellfire and the Russian Army pressed forward to take full control of South Ossetia.

Georgia stuck out its neck to align with the West instead of its former Russian masters. If we won't stand by our friends, we won't keep them for very long.

Russia and Georgia at War gives up-to-the-minute details and first-hand accounts of the war.

Last week I asked, is Hillary planning a convention coup? If she is, here's one of the many arguments she's making to the superdelegates:

Sen. Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year, insists a top Clinton campaign aide, making a charge that could exacerbate previously existing tensions between the camps of Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told

Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses barely behind Edwards in second place and Obama in first. The momentum of the insurgent Obama campaign beating two better-known candidates -- not to mention an African-American winning in such an overwhelmingly white state -- changed the dynamics of the race forever.

I'd say there's only a 5% - 10% chance of Hillary pulling this off, but it's fun to watch.

Barack Obama is a citizen of Kenya. Maybe technically he is, or isn't, or both! I'm sure the mainstream media will be investigating the matter thoroughly.

Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and critic Andy Martin will hold a news conference Friday, February 9th at 11:00 A.M. to announce that U. S. Senator Barack Obama is a citizen of Kenya and became a citizen of Kenya under the Independence Constitution of Kenya in 1963. Obama has never renounced his Kenyan citizenship. He is also a U. S. Citizen.

“For our ‘Obama Week’ leading up to Barry O’s announcement on Saturday that he feels qualified to lead the free world, unleashed a worldwide team of constitutional law experts to delve into Kenyan law and the question of Obama’s citizenship. They were also participating in our CIA-style psychological profile of Obama that will be released Saturday in Chicago. And what we discovered was amazing, a political blockbuster,” says Executive Editor Andy Martin.

“Under the Independence Constitution of Kenya, Obama became a Kenyan citizen on December 12, 1963. He has never renounced his Kenyan citizenship. On his senate web site, Obama tap dances around his own dual nationality when discussing his father. Obama obviously knows, because his father told him, that he also held/holds Kenyan nationality.

The devil is in the details. (At least that commenter knows enough to know the true answer isn't clear-cut. Public opinion will likely rule the day... but which way will it fall?)

(HT: Gateway Pundit.)

Maybe it shouldn't be surprising, but Barack Obama doesn't understand how the United Nations works.

Obama called for direct talks among all sides and said the United States, the U.N. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution. ...

"The current escalation of military conflict resulted in part from the lack of a neutral and effective peacekeeping force operating under an appropriate UN mandate," Obama said. "Russia cannot play a constructive role as peacekeeper."

Russia is the UN-authorized "peacekeeper" in the region at the moment, so set aside the underlying irony of Obama's proposed solution. His suggestion that the United Nations play a role in restraining Russia is idiotic for one simple reason: Russia is on the UN Security Council and has veto power over everything the UN does! The UNSC can't even issue a statement condemning the war without Russia's approval, much less authorize "peacekeepers".

It's scary that Obama knows less about international affairs than I do.

TigerHawk has a good round-up of posts about Russia's invasion of Georgia, a staunch American ally in the region and the nation with the third largest contingent of Coalition troops in Iraq. TigerHawk warns that his reactions to the invasion are only alcohol-fueled speculation, but I think several of his points are spot-on. (CIA factbook page on Georgia.)

# Vladimir Putin is exploiting George W. Bush's weakness, which is brought on by the fact that he is thought to be too unpopular and his administration too distracted for the United States to mount effective opposition to the Russian attack.

# The United States has invested credibility in Georgia's security (the article notes that 1000 United States Marines were in the country just last month on a training mission). If we do not respond in some fairly firm way other former Soviet states are going to wonder, with more than a little justification, whether our friendship is valuable.

# The Europeans will intensify their recent internal debate about their security against resurgent Russian expansionism. The doves will campaign for appeasement and anti-Americanism, and the realists will call for closer ties with the United States.

And of course the timing -- coinciding with the start of the Olympics -- is no coincidence.

And of course also, don't forget to thank the United Nations for its role in enabling this aggression.

The fighting in South Ossetia and Abkhazia had stopped over a decade ago, because Georgia could not muster sufficient military force to regain control of the two breakaway border areas. Then a UN brokered peace deal brought in several thousand Russian peacekeepers.

Who are now attacking Georgia.

I guess cheating offsets are about as reasonable as carbon offsets!

What is Cheat Offsetting?

When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere.

Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and NOT cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience.

Can I offset all my cheating?

First you should look at ways of reducing your cheating. Once you've done this you can use Cheatneutral to offset the remaining, unavoidable cheating.

As a non-cheater, I can get paid to "offset" cheating done by others. It's win-win-win!

A brilliant German businessman created and sold for $999.99 an iPhone application that did absolutely nothing except display a picture of a red gemstone. The point: show off to your friends that not only can you afford the luxury of an iPhone, you can also blow a grand on a useless piece of software. Naturally Apple enthusiasts were lined up to buy the software, until Apple removed it from their online store.

Its function is exactly what the name implies: to alert people that you have money in the bank. I Am Rich was available for purchase from the phone's App Store for, get this, $999.99 -- the highest amount a developer can charge through the digital retailer, said Armin Heinrich, the program's developer. Once downloaded, it doesn't do much -- a red icon sits on the iPhone home screen like any other application, with the subtext "I Am Rich." Once activated, it treats the user to a large, glowing gem (pictured above). That's about it. For a thousand dollars.

Apple apparently had some problems with I Am Rich. After initially approving it for distribution, the company has since removed it from the store. Heinrich, a German software developer, has yet to hear back from Apple concerning the removal. "I have no idea why they did it and am not aware of any violation of the rules to sell software on the App Store," Heinrich said in an e-mail with The Times today.

The "violation" is obvious! Only Apple is allowed to sell overpriced-yet-elegant status symbols!

Everyone knows that Barack Obama will be spending the next week in Hawaii on vacation... but what if he decides to keep going east west and makes an appearance at the Olympics instead! No one would see it coming (except me) and he'd yet again get loads of free press and visibility on the largest international stage of the season.

Just remember that you heard it here first!

This is one of my favorite election years ever.

Denis Keohane explains how Obama may be letting the nomination slip from his grasp while Hillary is nurturing her long odds and hoping that a lightning strike may still hand her the Dem's nomination.

Buyer's remorse seemed evident and growing among many Democrats toward the end of their primary season when Obama lost again and again to Clinton, even as the delegate math was by then stacked in his favor. That remorse was put on hold (but apparently not resolved) by Obama's seeming to secure the nomination and the subsequent popular boost he enjoyed at first. But lately the candidate with a difference has had a hard time living up to his promise to be a new kind of politician.

According to RealClearPolitics, Obama has 1766.5 pledged delegates, 352 short of the 2118 needed to secure the nomination. He also has 463 super delegates, which puts him over the top -- if they hold. If a combination of Clinton campaigning and nervousness can cause a hundred and twenty or so super delegates to sit out the first ballot, Obama does not get the nomination on the first ballot and perhaps not at all. After that first vote a great many pledged delegates and all the super delegates are free to vote as they choose. ...

After accepting the party's decision last June to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida but with half votes, only days ago Obama said he wanted the delegates to have full votes

Obviously, he said this believing he has won the nomination and that pandering to voters in critical general election states is of more importance.

If the party goes along with Obama's request, it reduces the number of super delegates who would need to sit out the first ballot for Obama to be denied the nomination, opening the way for Clinton! Ouch!

This is proof that the man should not be negotiating with Ahmadinejad. If he cannot think strategically and recognize his vulnerability to a last minute ambush at the convention, he would be eaten alive in big league world affairs.

And of course, if Florida and Michigan have their delegates counted, then their "popular votes" should count too, right? Which would make Hillary the "popular vote" leader, not Obama. Which would give the superdelegates even more cover for a switch to Hillary....

It's not a likely scenario, I admit, but isn't it fun to think about?

(HT: Instapundit, of course.)

Regardless of how plausible you find the theory of Darwinian evolution to be, there's still no secular explanation for how life got started in the first place. (For starters, read about the problems posed by earth's oxidizing atmosphere.) So some secular scientists have decided to punt and consider the possibility that life came to earth on a meteor.

This once-controversial notion holds that the universe is filled with the ingredients of microbial life, and that earthly life first came from the skies as comet dust or meteorites salted with hardy bacteria.

"Studies have shown that microbes can survive the shock levels of being launched into space," said Charles Cockell, a microbiologist at the Open University. "And as more and more organisms are discovered under extreme conditions, it's become more plausible that things could survive in space for the time it takes to go from one planet to another."

Not long ago, Cockell's claims would have been greeted with scientific derision. But as scientists learn more about Earth and space, the theory, which goes by the grandiose name of "galactic panspermia," seems less far-fetched.

Less far-fetched than the idea that God created earth and the life that's on it? Maybe... if your starting point for every hypothesis is that there is no God.

In April, Columbia University chemist Ronald Breslow traced the molecular signatures of earthly amino acids to those of neutron stars.

"Everything that is going on on Earth occurred because the meteorites happened to land here. But they are obviously landing in other places," he said at the time. "If there is another planet that has the water and all of the things that are needed for life, you should be able to get the same process rolling."

Completely unfalsifiable, so it could be true! If you want to put your faith in interplanetary microbes, I guess that's up to you.

The Voice of the Martyrs website was attacked by hackers a couple of weeks ago.

On July 24, VOM’s Web site was deliberately attacked forcing us to take the site offline temporarily. Our network engineers say the attack originated outside the United States. We have to believe the intent was to silence the online voice of the persecuted church. ...

We apologize for any inconvenience this interruption has caused, but at the same time we are thrilled our work is so effective that enemies of the Gospel took notice. Please pray for persecuted Christians around the world, especially during this Olympic season as the attention of the world turns to China.

I'd bet anything that the attack was the work of Chinese state-sponsored hackers trying to silence VoM in the run-up to the Olympics. VoM's mission is to publicize the persecution of Christians around the world, and China is one of the worst offenders.

Be in prayer for the Christians who are under constant persecution in China and other hostile lands around the world. Pray that their suffering will help bring the light of the Gospel to the other victims of these repressive regimes.

Jon Basil Utley gives a detailed diagnosis of what ails the American health care system. Some of the inefficiencies are maddening.

(HT: Instapundit.)

WaPo has a great graphic that breaks down the cost of gas.

Here's another graphic that shows gas taxes around America.

(HT: The Big Picture and SMI Blog.)

Here's the video.

Corporations give millions of dollars to all sorts of non-profits, but sometimes the targets of their donations are inimical to human life and need to be stopped.

With shareholder activism, Strobhar has had a hand in changing the corporate giving policies of more than 150 companies, essentially depriving Planned Parenthood [the nation's largest performer of abortions] of donations that would have totaled multimillions of dollars.

The tool of choice for Strobhar, who describes himself as "just a stockbroker from Dayton, Ohio," is the shareholder resolution. In order to introduce a shareholder resolution, a shareholder must own stock in the company valued at $2,000 or more for at least one year prior to the introduction of the resolution. Since 1991, Strobhar has introduced more than 60 such resolutions. ...

AT&T was giving $50,000 a year to Planned Parenthood when Strobhar began his activism at the company. The company had received thousands of letters from customers [protesting those contributions], but to no avail. It was only when Strobhar threatened the introduction of a shareholder resolution, suggesting that the company was in "breach of fiduciary responsibility," that AT&T paid attention. Within months, AT&T announced it would no longer contribute to Planned Parenthood. ...

General Mills and American Express also stopped giving to Planned Parenthood following shareholder resolutions introduced by Strobhar.

Bravo. Strobhar should serve as an example to opponents of both corporations and free speech: the solution to speech you don't like, or corporations you don't like, isn't to suppress or boycott, it's to get engaged with some speech of your own.

(HT: Sound Mind Investing Blog.)

Yesterday morning shortly after 8am I was contacted by an intern from CNN about a blog post I had written in May about an NRSC fund-raising letter disguised as a survey. Apparently reporter Carol Costello's husband recently received a similar letter and CNN wanted to do a story about it but couldn't use an employee's husband as a primary source. They were having a hard time finding anyone else who had received the letter until the intern came across my blog post.

After talking to producer Bob Ruff, my wife and I agreed to cancel our museum trip and instead go downtown to a local CNN affiliate to film a segment about the letter for Carol Costello's appearance on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room. An amusing way to spend an afternoon, sure, but the real lure was that Bob Ruff agreed to have the name of this blog mentioned on-air and to have the URL displayed at the bottom of the screen while Jessica and I were talking.

If you watched the segment you'll know that Master of None was not mentioned in any way, nor was the fact that we're bloggers at all. My URL was not shown and no one made any mention of how they found us and made contact with us. We mentioned the blog during the interview, but they cut it out during the editing process. Carol Costello told us that she and some others had read parts of my blog after having been given the URL, so there's no question that she knew what was going on.

The behavior of Bob Ruff and Carol Costello was extremely unprofessional, disrespectful, and dishonest. My wife and I spent the useful part of a whole day to provide CNN material for their story, and I was promised some national exposure for my blog in return. My blog may seem trivial or meaningless to CNN, but it's a big deal to me. I treated them and their product with respect and professional courtesy, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect to receive the same in return.


CNN doesn't seem to understand the whole internet thing yet.

Update 2:

John Murdoch got the same letter and was similarly irritated.

In a bold and entertaining move, House Republicans have decided to stay in the Capitol after the Democrats adjourned for their five week vacation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House and turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi's refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m., and they are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess. ...

Democratic aides were furious at the GOP stunt, and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker's Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers.

"You're not covering this, are you?" complained one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans "morons" for staying on the floor. ...

This message was sent out by Blunt's office:

"Although this Democrat majority just adjourned for the Democrat 5-week vacation, House Republicans are continuing to fight on the House floor. Although the lights, mics and C-SPAN cameras have been turned off, House Republicans are on the floor speaking to the taxpayers in the gallery who, not surprisingly, agree with Republican energy proposals.

That was four hours ago, and apparently the protest by Republican lawmakers is still in full force. Here are part two and part three of Politico's excellent coverage. Think you'll see this on the mainstream media tonight?

Bravo for the House Republicans.

The wife and I will be making an appearance on CNN this evening during the 5pm EST hour. The topic of the interview was the phony NRSC survey we received in May. Hopefully the interview isn't edited into a hit piece; like I told the producer, I really want an effective Republican Congressional delegation.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2008 is the previous archive.

September 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Email blogmasterofnoneATgmailDOTcom for text link and key word rates.

Site Info