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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Thursday, November 30, 2006

BOOM!

"I kick ass for the Lord!"
-Father Magruder, Braindead

YouTube started out small, with a website hosting videos that people uploaded starting in February 2005. The concept was simple, just to have a place for people to show off various videos online, and it grew to be a phenomenon that I still use for posts such as the one below. Google bought YouTube for 1.65 billion with a "B" dollars for some reason, presumably they think money is to be made off it in some way.

Now a company has started up Aniboom, a site similar to YouTube dedicated solely to animation. Like YouTube in the beginning, it's small, and has only a few dozen videos on it... for now. It is just getting started, so the site is in the "beta" stage of testing and ironing out the final wrinkles, but go take a look. I suspect this may grow and become something fun and useful like YouTube was. And who knows, maybe it's worth a billion or so to the creators some day.

At present the videos load a bit slow, and some of them look like they are experiments and works in progress, but there's a lot of variety (including the inevitable Bush is evil stuff). I especially liked this one where the a Priest lays the beat down on invading barbarians. Fair warning, however, it's set to some music that has some obscene language in it, and features some cartoon violence.


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SCALE MODEL

"truly remarkable. a amazing product of thousands of hours of passionate work."

A lot of us have at least in the past worked on models, I was never very good at building them even though they are still fun to me to put together. Some people work on working models like airplanes and even submarines, but to me this is the most astounding model ever produced by mankind thus far, courtesy the Autoblog:
Pierre Scerri began building his dream car in 1978. Fifteen years and 20,000 hours later, he finally had his dream: a Ferrari 312PB he could put in his dining room. Not just any 312PB, but a 1:3 scale, fully functional 312PB. Fully functional as in it has a 100cc 12-cylinder engine that starts and runs with a working gearbox connected to a wooden knob-topped shifter in the trademark Ferrari gate. Even the tiny gauges accurately report engine information.
He built a real car in miniature, a functioning automobile in every detail, with exactly the same kind of engine as the full size car. Like someone stuck a Ferrari into the machine used in Fantastic Voyage for a moment.

The car even sounds like a Ferrari, and commenters at the YouTube site had this to say:
A 100cc flat 12 that would make a good gokart engine. Someone should make a smal remtore control unit so he can drive it.
-by mechanisma22


I gotta agree with pekepowah. There really are no words to adequately describe this work. I wish Ferrari would give that man the funds to build the next one. 'Course, since this video is super old, maybe something good came out of this already for that guy.
-by ronincali


Uh..1) this dude really needs a life...

2) that is the most incredible thing I have EVER seen...the craftsmanship that must have gone into that thing...how small and detailed the parts are..holy @*#^.

If i was a Ferrari owner I would cut that guy a deal. Show me around his model Ferrari and I would let him drive mine...

Im just awestruck...
-by towely


Bring on the 1:3 scale Stig!
-by eckartct
This kind of engineering ability is rare, the man is truly amazing and his work is to be saluted.
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SIX IMAMS

"It looks like they are trying to create public sympathy or maybe setting someone up for a lawsuit."

Imams
A few weeks back I wrote about six Imams who were removed from their airplane and complained of religious persecution and bigotry. As I pointed out, at least one of them was a known companion of Osama Bin Laden and a radical Muslim, and while 150 flew back from the same conference, only these six were detained.

As time has gone on, the story has been emerging and is a bit more informative than initial reports. Incoming Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee, left-wing John Conyers (D-MI), has drafted a resolution to give Muslims greater civil rights protection in the USA. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) (who complained that Hurricanes had too "lilly white" sounding names, as if naming them "black" sounding names would be welcomed by victims of Hurricane DeShawn - you can bank on the cries of racism if that happened) had this to say about the event:
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, said the September 11 terrorist attacks "cannot be permitted to be used to justify racial profiling, harassment and discrimination of Muslim and Arab Americans."
"Understandably, the imams felt profiled, humiliated, and discriminated against by their treatment," she said.
Possibly, but was the treatment reasonable? The Washington Times account goes on:
Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."

A pilot from another airline said: "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry."
Assuming these reports are accurate, that would be alarming indeed. The fact that they came after a Muslim conference and included radical Muslims is suggestive too: was this cooked up at the conference to gain sympathy, lighten security, or set up lawsuits?
The imams who claimed two first-class seats said their tickets were upgraded. The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.
...
The pilot with another airline who talked to The Washington Times on condition of anonymity, said he would have made the same call as the US Airways pilot.

"If any group of passengers is commingling in the terminal and didn't sit in their assigned seats or with each other, I would stop everything and investigate until they could provide me with a reason they did not sit in their assigned seats."
Guest blogger Michael Illions (from the PoliPundit blog) filled in for John Hawkins at Right Wing News with this story, pointing out that the first openly Muslim congressman Keith Ellison is demanding meetings with US Airways executives. Readers at RWN had this to say:
"A series of carefully scripted provocations intended to reveal the counter-measures?"
That's glaringly obvious to anyone with a scintilla of military or law enforcement experience, Dane.
Hmmmm, I wonder why the Left's knee-jerk reactionists and race-baiters can't comprehend it?
-by Good_Ol_Boy


I wouldn't care if this weren't some sort of probe or test run. At best this is a display of utter stupidity on their part. At best.
-by Sabaticus


Praying loudly in public is no more a problem than walking around with a gun in your hand.

However, if someone carrying a gun walks into a bank wearing a ski mask in the dead of summer and carrying a brown paper bag, I'd say there's legitimate reason for suspicion.

Praying loudly in arabic on a plane, for example, coupled with other known terrorist behaviors (let's face it - the McVeighs and Kaczynskis of the world are the exception, not the rule) such as those listed in the article and reiterated by MrM, combine to provide plenty of legitimate reason for suspicion.

These people were either terrorists or very bad practical jokers who wold have also deserved to be booted from the plane. Neither of these kinds of people is "innocent".

If these people had actually carried out an attack, we would be demanding to know why nothing was done about a bunch of imams asking for unneeded seat belt extenders, seating themselves in a similar fashion to the 9/11 terrorists, praying very loudly in Arabic, talking about al-Qaeda and bin Laden, and moving to unassigned first class seats.

Removing these people from the plane was the right thing to do. CAIR and Iran can kiss my a$$.
-by RightWingRockerUSA


Not sitting in your assigned seats when instructed to by the flight crew is considered hindering the flight of an aircraft. This is a Federal offense.

These Imams should have been arreswted and put in jail.

Do they have enough witnesses to verify that they were not following the orders of the flight crew?
-by clay4


"I'd be very curious to hear the imams' excuse for requesting those seat-belt extenders."

Agreed. Assuming the Worldnetdaily story is factual, I would have to believe that these guys were only let loose in order for the intelligence agencies to gather more information on their activities and contacts prior to detaining them.
-by PresidentFriedman


This was not a dry run.

This was a psyop designed to give the leftards now in control of congress an excuse to undo what few security protocols that are in place on air travel and to quash any attempt at profiling "terrorist behavior" by conflating it with racism.
-by not-croaker


- If supposedly "mainstream moderate" Muslims spent as much time being critical of Islamist extremist as they do accusing the rest of us of being "insensitive," it might go a long way towards changing our perception of their faith...
-by CoolCezch


They don't and in the end there will be a price that is paid. If all moderate Muslims came out in force and vocally opposed terrorism it would be a lot harder for terrorists to recruit and function. Again the silence speaks volumes.

I don’t quite get the racial profiling argument. We don’t have the resources to stop, question and search every person going onto a plane. So we use the limited resources we have the most effectively.
As it is Muslim terrorists trying to attack us I would focus my efforts on Muslims.
Am I missing something here?
-by inthemid

In all deadly seriousness, nvc, would the imams' actions, as described in this article, be a cause for concern for you if you'd been onboard?
I think that the airline handled this right. Perhaps they could have come out and apologized to the gentelmen involved but reiterated that they had done the right thing and offer the gentlemen a free trip to wherever they wish to go. The safety of all passengers should overide the pride of a few.
-by crthn


Somehow, I don't think customer loyalty among the imam milieu is what they were after.

They were kicked off the flight for their actions (which were disturbing and matched known terrorist techniques), not their race or religion.
-by Mike_M

In this situation I agree with you, but lets say you have a line of people waiting to get on a plane and no one is praying how do you tell a Muslim from a Baptist?
To use an old Marine Corp saying, what if Grandma had a d*ck? She'd be Grandpa! You can play the what-if game all day, but we are actually discussing this situation. Besides, you can't throw out profiling as a tool just because it doesn't work in 100% of all situations. If I refused to use tools that don't always work in my job, there are a lot of folder ACLs that would still be an utter mess.
-by sabiticus
At this point the discussion degraded into one leftist defending the actions of the Imams with increasing distraction and irrationality, and sadly it was derailed.

Whatever their reasons were for these actions, they are disruptive and troubling for the airline and as a commenter I quoted in the previous article pointed out, you fly on planes at their discretion, you have no right to air travel. You are a guest and should act courteously as a guest, they can throw you out for any reason at any time. Smart airlines will only do so if there is good reason such as security and the comfort of their other passengers, such as in this case.

Were they trying to find out what they could get away with for a future attack? Were they seeing what reaction they'd get in a juvenile prank like the young Arabic looking men who spoke of blowing up buildings in a cafe after 9/11? Were they after the seeds of a lawsuit to break the security procedures for future attacks? We likely will never know, but whatever the reason the airline handled it cautiously and properly.

At the very least you're not going to find Buddhist monks or Baptist ministers doing this kind of nonsense.

*UPDATE: New information on the Imams is pointing to more terrorist ties than initially reported. As Ace says:

I'm unimpressed by all of this in this sense: I expect this. This isn't any surprise. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find high-profile Muslim advocates and imams who are not closely connected to terrorism.

The sad fact is that Muslims, as a general matter, support terrorism, or at least do not mind terribly much associating with those who do.

Your local Kiwanis Club would not permit a murderer or a terrorist-conspirator to remain a member in good standing. The Muslim religion does.
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Quote of the Day

"Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement."
-Will Rogers
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ALIBI

Adultery Motivator
Doing something wrong or immoral? Doing something you know you do not want others to hear about? Want to cheat on your spouse, lie to your business, get away with something bad? Well you're in luck, there's an actual business that provides alibis for people. The Alibi Network it's called. What does it provide?
  • Do you need a RESCUE call to be made at any time from any number?
  • Do you need us to make a phone call, but want the phone call to appear from Paris? With the Paris number showing up on the caller id of the intended party?
  • Are you in Dubai, but telling your partner you are in Tokyo? Would you like to have us assign a Tokyo number to you, receive the phone call on your behalf and forward it to your number in Dubai?
  • Do you want to create an impression that you are staying in a certain hotel anywhere in the world? Complete with the 24 hr hotel receptionist answering in the accent of your choice and confirming your stay?
  • Do you want to create an impression that you are flying by a certain airline on a certain date anywhere in the World?
  • Do you want to create an impression that you have a job with your own business phone, personal secretary and business cards?
  • Do you have a personal or business sensitive matter that needs to be solved? We have professional actors and actresses who will study your background material and handle your situation effectively whether it is a phone call to a third party or a meeting.
That's right, you're in luck. If you want to go on a fling with a sweetheart in Tahiti but need your spouse to think you are in Texas, they've got you covered! You can have air, hotel, and phone records forged, even phone calls forwarded! They'll send confirmations, provide paper with letterheads to send mail with, and so on. So thoughtful!

Seriously though... these guys are a real business that really do what they claim to. They are in the business of assisting people in lying, they are an actual business that helps people do what is wrong, bad, immoral, and dishonest. Naturally, they have a disclaimer: don't do illegal things with our business, now!

The state of modern culture; pay no heed to social conservatism.
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STRINGERS AND LIES

“I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.”
-William Tecumseh Sherman

The PageIt all started with a news report that nobody could confirm, of six Sunni worshippers burned to death outside a mosque that the Associated Press reported on November 24th. The story is difficult to find, however, since every Google link that is about the AP report on Shiite Worshippers Burned Alive now links to a story about 36 al-Sadr Loyalists boycotting Iraq's government. Almost as if it has been expunged from the net (see accompanying image).

Why would this story be removed? Well there were a few problems with it, primarily the complete inability to confirm the events as actually happening, as in bodies, evidence, and signs any such thing occurred. Some bloggers noticed something: the name of the man reporting the event, Iraqi policeman Captain Jamil Hussein. The name seemed familiar. Here, Protein Wisdom picks up the tale, with the help Flopping Aces:

Doing a search via Google I began reading the stories printed about the burned six and each and every one had one thing in common. The only person stating that this incident happened was one Capt. Jamil Hussein. Every news report printed this man as the source of the information.

[...]

Since this guys name is in every single story printed about the burning six I have to dig way down to get to older stories involving this guy.

This one from April:

In yesterday’s worst violence, the bodies of six handcuffed, blindfolded and tortured men were found in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein.

This one from May:

Violence resumed Saturday as a bomb in a parked car exploded near a busy bus station in southern Baghdad, killing at least four civilians and wounding seven, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

[…]Elsewhere, a policeman was killed and an officer wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy in Baghdad’s western district of Mansour, Razzaq said. He also said three policemen were wounded when gunmen ambushed a convoy of Interior Ministry commandos in the southern neighbourhood of al-Bayaa in the capital.

Gunmen in three speeding cars also ambushed a patrol in western Baghdad, wounding 10 people, including six policemen, and two other policemen were injured in drive-by shootings in a nearby neighbourhood, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

Two other policemen were injured Saturday in drive-by shootings elsewhere in western Baghdad, when gunmen in two speeding cars attacked their patrol in Amiriya neighbourhood of western Baghdad, police Capt. Jamil Hussien said.

Here is one from June:

Two explosions struck an Interior Ministry patrol and a market in the Baghdad area on Monday evening, killing at least seven people and wounding 16, police said. The first attack was a car bomb that struck an Interior Ministry patrol in western Baghdad, killing four commandos and wounding six, Capt. Jamil Hussein said. About 30 minutes later, a bomb exploded in a market in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 10.

July:

Gunmen also ambushed a bus in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah in western Baghdad, killing six passengers, including a woman, and the driver, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

September:

A suicide truck bomb slammed into a Baghdad police headquarters on Wednesday, killing seven and wounding at least double that many, in a deadly 24 hours that saw more than 45 killings in Iraq, including two American soldiers, authorities said.

The truck bomb attack in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora came at 07:45 as policemen were coming on duty and the blast razed the building, said captain Jamil Hussein. He said the number of casualties was expected to rise.

His name is mentioned quite a bit when Sunni’s are attacked it seems.

Now all I have to go on is the earlier AP report in which Iraqi and American forces say they cannot find evidence that these six were burned alive, no proof yet that the incident didn’t happen. But if it turns out that this story is a fairy tale how much more of the information given from this Capt is suspect?

[...]

Here is the [...] press release from the military:

Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.

Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a patrol in Hurriya Friday afternoon in response to media reports that four mosques were being burned as retaliation for the VBIED attacks in Sadr City on Thursday.

The Soldiers set up a checkpoint near the Al Muhaimen mosque at approximately 2 p.m. and found the mosque intact with no evidence of any fire at the location.

While investigating the Al Meshaheda mosque, the patrol received small arms fire from unknown insurgents. The patrol returned fire, and the insurgents broke contact and fled the area. A subsequent check of the mosque found the mosque intact with no evidence of a fire.

At approximately 3:50 p.m., a local civilian reported to the patrol that armed insurgents had set the Al-Nidaa mosque on fire by throwing a gas container into the mosque. The patrol pursued the insurgents but lost contact with them.

The Soldiers called the fire department and set up a cordon around the mosque. Local fire trucks responded to the scene and extinguished the fire at approximately 4:00 p.m. The mosque sustained smoke and fire damage in the entry way but was not destroyed.

An alleged attack on a fourth mosque remains unconfirmed. The patrol was also unable to confirm media reports that six Sunni civilians were allegedly dragged out of Friday prayers and burned to death. Neither Baghdad police nor Coalition forces have reports of any such incident.

So the Baghdad police had not received reports fo this burning either? Who in the hell is this Capt. Jamil Hussein then? Is he part of the Iraqi police or an insurgent stringer for the AP?

Who is this man? In response to doubts of this story, the Associated Press printed a rebuttal, courtesy Flopping Aces:

The Associated Press rejects unfounded attacks on its story about six Sunni worshippers burned to death outside their mosque on Friday, November 24.

AP reporters who have been working in Iraq throughout the conflict learned of the mosque incident through witnesses and later corroborated it with police.

The AP received an email communication late Monday signed by a U.S. military public affairs officer, Navy Lt. Michael B. Dean, alleging that the police captain cited in our story “is not a Baghdad police office or MOI (Ministry of Interior) employee’’ and raising questions about whether or not he actually exists.

In fact, that captain has long been know to the AP reporters and has had a record of reliability and truthfulness. He has been based at the police station at Yarmouk, and more recently at al-Khadra, another Baghdad district, and has been interviewed by the AP several times at his office and by telephone. His full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein.

After the AP story was questioned by the U.S. military, Hussein was contacted again and confirmed that the incident took place. The AP also located additional witnesses outside the mosque in the al-Hurriyah district.

According to the witnesses interviewed by the AP, there was no U.S. military present at the time of the incident Friday, and the subsequent U.S. military statement about it cited only reports the U.S. military had received later from the Iraqi army.

The problem is, according to Curt, there is no record of any such man being in the Iraqi police, which seems odd for a man who has been in service for so long. Who is he? Was this name a psuedonym? The Associated Press has not stated so, in fact, they are stubbornly printing support for the story such as this November 28 story Witnesses detail Iraq burning deaths:
The attack on the small Mustafa Sunni mosque began as worshippers were finishing Friday midday prayers. About 50 unarmed men, many in black uniforms and some wearing ski masks, walked through the district chanting "We are the Mahdi Army, shield of the Shiites."

Fifteen minutes later, two white pickup trucks, a black BMW and a black Opel drove up to the marchers. The suspected Shiite militiamen took automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from the vehicles. They then blasted open the front of the mosque, dragged six worshippers outside, doused them with kerosene and set them on fire.

This account of one of the most horrific alleged attacks of Iraq's sectarian war emerged Tuesday in separate interviews with residents of a Sunni enclave in the largely Shiite Hurriyah district of Baghdad.

The problem we're having here is that news bureaus such as the Associated Press, CNN, Reuters, etc want to cover the news in Iraq but it's sometimes dangerous for their staff and expensive to maintain people overseas. Local people have offered to gather and report news, and these news groups leaped on the chance, calling them "stringers" or local help. Cheaper to maintain, these stringers get news to these news organizations while they maintain a skeleton staff in the area who largely stay at hotels and do not go out for the stories.

And as we've seen for months and even years is that at least some of these stringers cannot be trusted, that they are deliberately lying in some cases and at the very least using the reports as propaganda for the side of the terrorists and death squads. Reports of magical missiles in Lebanon that punch rusty holes through the roof of ambulances and explode inside doing no damage to the vehicle and cauterizing wounds on one person inside have surfaced. Doctored photographs have been revealed. And now the mystery burn victims who cannot be discovered.

Is this Jamil Hussein such a source, a stringer who is feeding the AP lies? The Associated Press is not helping matters with the way it is changing stories. Gateway Pundit notes this:
Here is the original report from the AP published in the Jerusalem Post on the Six Torched Sunnis that was republished in hundreds of papers:
Revenge-seeking Shi’ite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near an Iraqi army post. The soldiers did not intervene, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

The savage revenge attack for Thursday’s slaughter of 215 people in the Shi’ite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques and several homes while killing 12 other Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood, Hussein said.
Here is the Multi National Forces Iraq press release the next day on April 25, 2006 in response to this original AP report:
Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.

Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a patrol in Hurriya Friday afternoon in response to media reports that four mosques were being burned as retaliation for the VBIED attacks in Sadr City on Thursday.

The Soldiers set up a checkpoint near the Al Muhaimen mosque at approximately 2 p.m. and found the mosque intact with no evidence of any fire at the location.
So the AP later transformed their account of events slightly in their November 25, 5:45 PM report:
The U.S. military said Saturday that Iraqi soldiers securing Hurriyah found only one burned mosque and were unable to confirm residents’ and police accounts that six Sunni Arabs were dragged from Friday prayers and burned to death.
Notice, this wasn’t a correction.
The initial report: four mosques burned. The eventual report, without correction or note of any change? One mosque slightly burned in a doorway. One of the eyewitnesses quoted is a mystery man who is not who he claims to be, one has been quoted in the past as making strong anti-American comments, and one is accused by his own congregation of being a former member of Saddam Hussein's Secret Police. It's not that these guys cannot possibly be telling the truth, but it is enough doubt raised about their veracity that the AP's response should be "well let's investigate the truth" not "we're right!"

I understand the resentment that the legacy media has against the new media such as blogs. I understand the defensiveness that the AP might have after being attacked so many times for running bogus media this summer. The job of a news organization, however, is to find and print the truth. If you are being bamboozled by someone, if a source is lying or distorting information for you, if your tipster is manipulating you, your anger should be directed at them, not at people who notice the problems.

In the past, a news organization would protect a source only until they turned out to be wrong or misleading, then they "burned" them by cutting them off and revealing who they were. The difference here? The only change I can see is twofold: it's cheaper to keep using these guys instead of real reporters doing real jobs (and hard to get real reporters to get out and do the job), and quite simply they prefer this version of the events and want to push that angle, so a few lies can be accepted as long as the desired story gets out.

Now, back to Protein Wisdom after all that setup. Jeff Goldstein looked at this story and the reaction by commenters and pundits, combined with the attitude of many leftists about Iraq and the Baker Study group. It seems like many are born again Kissingerians, "realists" in foreign policy, those who embrace the good old days of President Bush the elder, when we cut off Iraq and let the Kurds die for daring to revolt against Saddam Hussein.

Not to be a “meany-meany name caller”, but it now appears there is some question regarding the veracity of the “rampaging Shia militia” story that many on the left—including some of our delightfully doctrinaire commenters here (see, for example, this comment by john, who can barely contain his glee at the prospect of a good ethnic burning)—would very much like to be true. Because if incidents like these are true, you see, our anti-war friends can then rend their garments and pretend they care for the well-being of anyone or anything other than vindication for their own failed ideology, which, from what I can see, tends to mutate depending upon what their political opponents are up to.

I mean, anybody here think either actus or monkyboy were GHW Bush supporters? Or that they were fans of Kissingerian realism? Realpolitik?

He links this concept to Coleridge's idea of "willful suspension of disbelief" and the desire to believe things because they fit what one's political leanings desire. I mentioned this in my series on Bias, and it certainly is a tendency we all need to fight. When you or I do so, it's unwise and improper. When a news organization does it, it's fraudulent and immoral.

For those who continue to suggest that the mainstream press has a negligible impact on elections, consider that the majority of Americans who bothered to pay any attention whatsoever to this story will be left with an account of horrific sectarian violence against women and children—and the belief that sectarian strife in Iraq is not only inexorable and savage, but pandemic.

Underlying this reportage, then, is an unseemly subtext: that Arabs in Iraq—and perhaps even Arabs in general—are incapable of working toward a free society, one that, through a series of ratified political documents and elections, has merely pretended to be taking its first tentative steps toward the acceptance of a baby pluralism. Consequently, the blood and treasure spent in Iraq has never been worth the cost, and—our failure now all but imminent thanks to a genetic or systemic flaw in the Arab constitution—we should therefore be looking for a way to retreat with honor. Or perhaps a way to reinstall Saddam Hussein. You know, to stabilize things.

Commenters responded to these thoughts:
What is even more disturbing is that actus, m-bot,john, et al. berate American efforts to try and install consensual government in place of a bloody-handed dictator. You know, they deride and berate ‘neo-cons’, which foreign policy is Wilsonianism. With the history of the first half of the Twentieth Century, the failure to support democracies at the expense of the fascist dictators of Europe, and now they turn on an attempt to push back the dictators and bring in democracy?

Where do their loyalties truly lie? With oppressed humanity, or with the boots (no mattter the color - red, black - makes no difference) that are pressing down on humanity?

Just that should make one pause, and wonder why should any of their objections be taken seriously.
-by MikeyNH


Maybe what we need, Mikey NTH, is a handy menu of selections posted in the sidebar for our trolling leftist liars to conveniently select from:

1. War is itself evil. We condemn the Iraq effort.

2. War is not evil. The neocon Pubbies are chickenhawks. Democrats are courageous and have A Plan.

3. There is no threat. Wholesale pullout = peace.

4. Although there is no threat, if there were, it’d be because the West earned it.

5. Except Europe. Europe is merely being assimilated by the Religion of Peace.

6. Europe is not being assimilated.

7. There are no nukes.

8. There are nukes, but of the non-threatening variety.

9. Bushco invented war for oil.

10. If Bushco didn’t invent this war for oil, he did it for the Religious Right. Liberal Christian values suck; any alternative philosophy does not suck, its violence, intolerance, bigotry, oppression and other failings notwithstanding.

11. Iraq bad, Afghanistan good. Or, if you prefer, Afghanistan bad, Iraq good, especially under SH, except for that part where we all agreed he was a murderous tyrant and and made completing the Iraq mission in the win column Bushco’s responsibility.

12. Either way, we all voted for it before we voted against it. We were duped into virtually unanimously approving an effort we (a) knew was bogus, (b) didn’t know was bogus, (c) knew we didn’t know if it might be bogus, and/or (d) didn’t know we knew it might not be bogus. Or not.

13. Brown people. (a) Don’t deserve democracy, (b) can’t handle democracy, (c) vote but don’t know what for, (d) deserve the full support of The Democrat Plan, (e) deserve no support with Bushco in office, at least as far as our political futures are concerned. Depending on outcomes, we’ll decide on the principle of the thing later.

14. Violence. Under Republicans, bad and our fault. Under Democrats, unavoidable and the Republican’s fault.

15. Media = conservative lackeys.

16. Media = enlightened liberalism.

17. Winning under Bush = bad.

18. Winning under [insert Democrat here] = good.

19. Miscellaneous: Nork nukes no threat/big threat depending on (a) outcome and (b) party affiliation of sitting POTUS. Repeat as needed for all other totalitarian regimes, collectives, experiments, and theories.

20. Capitalism simply blows dead weasels.

21. Tyranny did not kill an average of a million a year for the last century. Nyah, nyah, nyah. And brown people still can’t do democracy.

21. [Optional: Insert any other relativity that diverts the reality of any given reality here. Use liberally. No pun intended.]
-by 6Gun


This Iraqi Captain doesn’t necessarily need to even be stringing for an insurgent group. It’s just as possible he’s merely guilty of relating secondhand gossip.

You know how it works: one mosque is burnt, no people killed. However, by the tim the story is retold for the 100th time 8 blocks away, it’s 4 mosques burnt and 6 people (women and children no less) killed. Pretty soon you have a Lancet study.
-by Seth Williams

Pretty soon you have a Lancet study.

or cannibals in the Superdome.
-by maggie katzen


Meany-meany name-caller!

Next, you’ll be suggesting that the LA Times refuses to report on the military’s denial of unverified stories by an anonymous stringer, or that the AP has assigned someone with a visceral hatred of Israelis to cover Israel.

And monky, you would respond if you had a response, even if it’s as laughably bizzare as the balloon fence. But it’s nice to see you admit to going completely off-topic in other threads, poo-flinger that you are. Hehe.
-by Karl


So is it really any surprise that sanctimonious liberal progressives would find the Other that they champion in theory so perfectly distasteful in fact?—at least, before the savages have been assimilated and incorporated into the landscape of the soft-socialist’s utopian plantation...?

No. Leftist racism is no surprise at all. The Middle East is entirely full of poor, oppressed brown people whose lives would be simply wonderful if not for the meddling hand of the western hegemonic military-industrial complex. And the fact that they’re all filthy savages.

Yep, that’s the morally superior left.
-by Pablo


I have yet to see the American Left exhibit one single instance of concern or compassion for those innocents in the Middle East who suffer under extreme oppression. Even the Left in the UK is mystified (see the Euston Manifesto).

Hussein was very much on a par, morally, with Stalin and nary a peep from the Left. Perhaps they believe the bullshit they spew: that those in the Middle East are unprepared for, and ill-suited to, democracy. As a concept, it goes far to salving their consciences for neglecting their fellow man. That’s the only reason I can conceive: dehumanize them so you don’t have to feel any responsibility for them. That, or it’s an extreme manifestation of moral relativism and despair.


Apparently, there is no degree of human suffering that can interrupt the American Left’s love affair with its own navel.
-by Ahem

It’s understood, I think, but we know that any corrections to the narrative will be buried, either late in the newscast or way down deep somewhere in the paper.

“Oh, by the way, that story we reported? Totally wrong. Our bad. And now, waterskiing squirrels!”

This is incredibly serious stuff, and we have a media machine such that the majority of the players are not serious.
-by cranky-d


Wonder what these guys would think of all the criticism coming from thousands of miles away.
-by Umm...


One might posit that they would have the utmost contempt for their “fellow journalists” who’ve decided that the truth is not worth the risk, and have decided simply to report whatever stories are fed to them by their “trusted” local sources.

That is, assuming that they understand that the criticism is levelled not at them, but rather at the craven propagandists who slurp up as much bad news as they can from the safety of their stateside skyscrapers and “local” four-star hotels, and broadcast it far and wide before even pausing to consider whether it’s the whole truth.

Which distinction should be obvious even to somebody killed more than a year ago, however elusive it may be to Jeff’s current crop of trolls.
-by Squid


Balloon Fence Boy: Rest in Pieces

What is it with trolls and the love of the one - two sentence snipe, either barely on topic or, as in Um’s case, completely off target. Who gives a hairy flying crap what dead journalists would have thought of the criticism? How about actually engaging in the arena of ideas, challenging assumptions, boldly making an argument! Trolls are the laziest creatutes on God’s green earth, either parsing sound bites or practicing their digital war cries.

While we’re at it; we’ve become entangled in the digital war Bizarro world, where propaganda and outright lies benefit the enemy to accomplish ... what? Does anyone on the left realise how infinitly small and despicable they become when they take such righteous glee in creating a maximally negative myth that denigrates our military and our country? This “working against national interest as a noble endeavor” meme is not only tiresome, it’s positively dangerous.

You have the houses of Congress! Now try to be part of the solution rather than the arbiters of critical history.
-by BJTexs
The news media is historically called the 4th estate in the USA because it is considered almost a branch of government: Judicial, Executive, Legislative... news reporting. The idea is that the reporting of events and ideas gives the people the power they need and the information they desire to vote and influence government. If this power is misused, then we have a fourth corrupt estate, a branch of "government" beyond checks and balances that deliberately is manipulating the people toward a specific end. And a republic cannot do well with this rot at its core.
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THAI COUP 2

"My good friends this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time."

A few weeks ago I wrote about a coup d'etat that occurred in Thailand, with the military peacefully removing the sitting Prime Minister by blessing of the King. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra took a hard line regarding the Islamic terrorists that were afflicting southern Thailand, and with him out, a change was planned, to reach out to these groups and soften the government's stance.

However, the violence has not stopped as terrorists have continued their attacks in Southern Thailand:
Hundreds of schools in Thailand's restive south will shut their doors in response to increasingly vicious attacks by suspected Muslim insurgents against teachers and schools, an official said Saturday.

The closure, which begins Monday, affects all 336 primary and secondary schools in the province of Pattani, where two teachers were fatally shot by suspected insurgents in the past two days.

In one of the killings, attackers shot a school principal Friday, and then set his body on fire. The principal became the 59th teacher or school official killed in three years of violence, said Bunsom Thongsriprai, president of the Teachers' Association in Pattani.
The Government is disappointed that their attempts to reach out to the terrorists have failed.
Defense Minister Boonrawd Somtat said Friday that insurgents had stepped up violence to keep residents from accepting new peace overtures from the authorities.

"They have intensified violent attacks to intimidate and terrify people," Boonrawd said, adding that the shadowy groups behind the violence have not accepted government offers to hold talks.
Insurgents? Terrorists, that's the name for people who commit acts of terror, CNN. Try it some time, I know you have a policy to avoid saying the word because it reminds people of the war on terror and 9/11, and thus might conceivably help President Bush, but the job of a news organization is to publish facts, not opinion.

The reason these attacks have not stopped is obvious: their previous efforts got a sitting Prime Minister removed from power, and a man who wants to work with terrorists and murderers in office. Why stop now? They have momentum, their goals are being met then entire purpose of their terrorist acts was to bring this about and they will continue as long as they are successful. What would possibly motivate them to negotiate or slacken their attacks?

Their goal is not to be treated better or to have a say in government - they have that now in parliament. Their goal is absolute control over Thailand, an Islamic dictatorship with radical Islam in power. Until that happens, or they are shown that their efforts will fail, they are being crushed, and the people will always turn against them, they will never stop.

Spain learned this lesson after capitulating to the terrorists, Thailand is learning this lesson to their woe, will the US follow? The Baker Commission wants it to, for the US to negotiate with the very nations engaging in the terrorism in Iraq right now. We are at a crossroads, and whatever President Bush chooses, I fear congress will work toward appeasement and working against the Iraqi peoples' freedom, against our fight against terror, and the next President will follow suit.

That picture at the top? That was used at Iran's Holocaust conference (more of Amadinejad, pictured attempting to historically prove that it never happened, despite eyewitnesses). America is fallen, Israel is next. Negotiate with him?
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GABBY

"Only three times as much?"

Talking Woman
In a shocking revelation, a study recently done reveals that women enjoy talking more than men and are more inclined to do so. This unprecedented suggestion is being promoted in a book by a feminist to prove that women are better at communication than men.
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.
I would argue that women are better at some communication than men, and men are better at others. The problem is that while men tend to excel at nonverbal communication and interacting without needing to talk, women tend to excel at speaking and expressing ideas and emotions, and these two strengths are baffling to the other at times. The problem comes when one demands the other equal them in this area or use it exclusively, then complain when they do not.
"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.
I know, amazing to find that a feminist thinks that men elude logic and are too dull to work out what their sweethearts actually mean. Given that most studies indicate that men are superior at logic this conclusion is interesting, at the very least. Commenters responded:
I would really love the opportunity to comment, but being a male, I gather I really have nothing to say...
-by Josh Stanton


You know... in the 90's they said that women spoke about 6000 words a day, while men spoke around 2000. It seems that the count is different, but the ratio stayed the same. Interesting.
-by Matt


Does that mean women could be 100% more responsible for global warming by creating more carbon dioxide?
-by Mike


Dr Brizendine obviously has spent very little time hanging out in pubs with men talking about football.
-by Ian Thurston


But, of course, it has been said that women only talk twice as much as men because we constantly have to repeat what we said to them as they don't listen!
-by Kay
What's missing from this story is who and what money were involved in this study. Was it a government grant? Was it a private effort? Somehow I doubt any private institution would have the money to spare on this kind of endeavor. In any case, I've always wondered why this sort of thing is looked at anyway. Is a study to find that hitting yourself in the thumb with a hammer is painful in the works already? That gravity tends to pull you to the ground?

I'd respond to Kay's comment but I really wasn't paying attention.
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Quote of the Day

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with that of others."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

ALL APOLOGIES

"If anyone is alive who held slaves they should appologize, no one else."

Wooden Ships and Iron Men
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly expressed "deep sorrow" for his country's involvement in the slave trade almost two centuries ago. Having not been alive at the time, Blair wisely refrained from an actual apology. In 2007 it will have been 200 years since Great Britain led the way in abolishing the slave trade. It became British government policy to reward captain and crews of the Royal Navy for freeing slaves, during a time when the island was fighting a war against nearly the entire planet simultaneously.

It was England who first abolished the slave trade due to the tireless efforts of evangelical Christians in the 16th and early 17th century. Other nations eventually followed suit, recognizing the practice as a repellant and dehumanizing evil. It was England who captured slave ships and freed slaves off the coast of Africa. The response of activists?
Esther Stanford, of the Pan African Reparation Coalition, said all countries that had ever been involved in slavery should give a full apology.

"An apology is just the start - words mean nothing," she told BBC News.

"We're talking about an apology of substance which would then be followed by various reparative measures including financial compensation."

She said: "If we do not deal with this now it is tantamount to saying that you can commit crimes against humanity, against African people and get away with it."
The BBC News has a feature called Have Your Say in which they post a news blurb and ask readers to discuss it on their website. Here are some highlights:
whilst recognising that slavery should not have existed we should noy have to apologize on behalf of our forefathers; life and town more on; remember, even condemn but do apologize for something you were not involved with.
-by Grenville Wilson, Phuket


Would it not be better to fight the slave trade (now called Human traffican) thats going on now then talk about what happened years ago.
-by Steve, Cornwall


Saying sorry is insufficient for such a devastating involvement.Up to date Africans are still facing the agony of slavery and slave trade which is age-old.It is especially important for countries which were involved in the slevary to apologise internationally by forming a forum in which ways/magnitudes for reparations are discussed in line with which countries suffered most during slavery.
-by James Sokiri, Juba, Sudan
I found this comment to be astonishingly bold and ironic, given that The Sudan is one of the few nations left in the world that still openly practice slavery.
We British have done lots of bad thing in the past and no doubt will do in the future. Enslaving people from African was one the worst of them, but we have done lots of good things in the past and will do in the future.

Look at India they have moved on, it does not matter if we issue an apology now, we will still need to do more and more it will not stop, lets just move on and look to future. WE CAN NOT CHANGE THE PAST BUT WE CAN ALL WORK FOR A BETTER FUTURE.
-by Pez Man, Eastleigh, United Kingdom


Whatever the faults of the British empire, what it left behind has been (1) democracy (2) rule of law and (3) prosperity. Eleven of the top 20 countries in GDP are of British origin. The top four: UK, US, Canada and Australia. And on the horizon: India. Would you rather visit Rwanda or South Africa? Burmuda or Haiti? I wish the British would get over this incessant self-flagellation, steel their spines and take pride in what 1000 years of British history has contributed to the world.
-by M Fernandez, San Francisco, United States


In response to demands that everyone has to apologise for the acts of their ancestors and pay compensation then

What about Russia in Central Europe ?

Going back further
Why not include the French siege of Bratislava ?
1066 becomes the start of Willian the Oppressor
What about the Nordic rape and pillage?

We can regret what happened but nobody can apologise for what they haven't done. We just learn not to repeat the mistakes
-by tim gillespie, versailles


This is more political correctness gone mad. Great Britain was one of the first western countries to see the repugnancy of slavery and abolish it. The Royal Navy then enforced the policy unceasingly and destroyed some of the biggest hell-hole slave stations in Africa to try to stamp it out. Be proud that they were among the first enlightened countries.
-by Bruce Cairns, Wellington, New Zealand


In this time of regrets and apologies for the West African slave trade are all those coastal tribes who captured the slaves in the first place and then sold them on to the Europeans going to express regrets and apologise as well?
Please let us have a little more balance with regard to this whole deplorable story.Many West African clans made fortunes out of the slave trade. It was not all one sided.
-by Robert Graham, Nottingham
One theme that comes up several times in the comments is that blacks today still suffer from a culture of oppression that ended over four generations ago. That slavery in the past is causing problems for blacks today. To whatever extent this is true, I find it dubious to blame anyone but black culture, to be honest. I have some Sioux Indian blood in me, so I'm told. Do the horrors and oppression those people faced in the past somehow make me miserable today? Or does that only happen if a culture and society constantly relives, complains, and points to those past things as an issue?

The British could bring long and detailed complaints against the Danes for abuses in the past - they very distant past - by my people (at least, 1/4 my people). I have quite a bit of Danish blood. Do I owe the British money for what Ole Olafssen did in the 1100s? Are the British people tortured by and damaged by the horrors inflicted on them centuries ago?

Some commenters got it exactly right: look at what evils were done in the past, recognize them for what they are, express regret, then move on and fight to end them wherever they are in the world today.
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SHOP AND COMPARE

"When Black Friday comes/I'm gonna stake my claim"
-Steely Dan, Black Friday

Shopping
What a difference a year makes! Or does it? Each Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year in America, the start of the Christmas shopping season. Retailers look forward to and dread the money and the crowds as this day approaches, but the frenzy of shopping, sales, and fighting to get the product you want happens each year like clockwork. This is an annual news event as well, covering the stores as they are open, showing the crowds, usually a few anecdotes from shoppers or clerks about people getting in fights, and weary shop owners as they close up finally.

One theme that usually is there, however, is the huge boom in retail sales and how significant they are for the economy. Mary Katherine Ham compared news coverage of last year's Black Friday and this year's:
Early reports last year seemed to indicate that the season would be good, and it was, but a lot of news outlets did their darndest to hide the good under gloomy headlines and misleading ledes on this day a year ago. But now that the New Age of Prosperity in a Time of Democratic Control™ has dawned, the stories look very different on this day after Black Friday, 2006. Let's compare and contrast.
And so she does, covering several news outlets and their coverage of the events. If you want to see them all, you'll have to check out her blog at the link above, but the story is the same: 2005 the news is moderately good, but with qualifiers such as "reluctant shoppers" and "black cloud over retail has brightened." This year? "sales start off with a bang!"

What is the difference? The sales are similar, the economy is just as good this year as last - in fact the Dow-Jones stock market measure hit record highs and the unemployed hit record lows. The only real difference appears to be Democrats elected to congress - not even in office yet, but elected. Commenters responded to this analysis:
Is this Hiltzik character for real? In his 'I told you so' link, he leaves this gem : " ..a glint of gold that may obscure the dark reality." in describing last year's Black Friday sales. (And he dares to link with a "I told you so" tag!? Bwahaha! How'd that gloom-and-doom prediction work out for you, Mikey?)
Well, if last years economy was a 'dark reality', then I say - Shut off the lights and keep it comin'!

I've been wondering for the last couple of years : "Man, how hot does this economy have to get before the MSM reports favorably on it?". I guess I have my answer : "Until the Dems take over."
-by Les Nessman


Interesting that they are now so excited about a 5% increase when last year's was 6.1%.
-by Amateur Angler


Far be it from me to get in the way of trying to prove how the Evil Liberals are just so bad and wrong and evil and stuff, but it seems like those headlines from 2005 were showing Black Friday improving from a poor performance in 2004. Y'know, bright, happy, hopeful?

Sorry, I know. I'm just ruining things here...
-by Lexington
So why the difference? Why were the numbers qualified and told with such a dark outlook, why is a smaller level of increase trumpeted as a great shopping season and a larger level considered a bright spot in a gloomy economy? Is it because after continued, unbroken good news for years about the economy the press is finally willing to admit maybe its not so miserable out there? Perhaps, but the economy since 2002 has been doing well, I don't recall there being a 3-year waiting period on good news when President Clinton was in office.

I don't believe there was any concerted effort or even a conscious one by most, I just think that when Republicans are in power it is so depressing and miserable for the overwhelmingly Democratic press members that they can't help but paint things in a gloomy way. It certainly didn't hurt Democratic congressional candidates to have wall-to-wall negative press about the world and economy. This is a form of bias that is not deliberate in most cases, but tilts news coverage nevertheless.

In any case a bit of cautious self-reflection by the news media would not be out of the question.

*UPDATE: From Complete Blog we get some details about shopping habits over the holiday season. Max Freiert compared the shopping from before Thanksgiving to Black Friday (and "Cyber Monday" a term he uses to describe the amount of online shopping the Monday after) for 2005 and 2006. What's interesting is that in 2005 the difference was minor - people were shopping pretty strongly before these days in the given outlets. In 2006 the difference was huge, especially online. Take a look, he's got a lot of analysis there.
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READ THE BILL

Senate
One of the tools congress uses to pass unpopular legislation is to wait until very late when many congressmen are not very awake or aren't present, and when few people are paying attention. The television channel C-Span covers all of every congressional session, but at 1:00 in the morning few are watching. This allows congress to slip things through that the people might or certainly would oppose without the scrutiny it might otherwise get.

Further, congress will shape bills in such a way as to get certain things they want enacted (like a multi-billion dollar appropriation for back home) which media aren't inclined or don't notice to cover. People are largely left in the dark until the deal is done, when it is too late to take action or even comment on it for the benefit of legislators.

There is an effort underway called the 72 Online bill, which for all non-emergency legislation requires the bill be posted on the internet before passage. From their website:

ReadtheBill.org is a new national organization dedicated to one cause: make Congress post legislation online for 72 hours before it is considered on the floor of Congress. We call this the "72 Online" rule.

The 72 Online rule is needed because Congress has degenerated into chaos. The House of Representatives still has a rule on the books requiring proposed legislation be available to members for three days. But the House waives this rule routinely and rubber stamps huge bills in the middle of the night, clueless of their content or cost. Senate rules are fuzzier but the result is the same. This chaos in Congress costs every American. Provisions and giveaways slipped through Congress are one reason that the U.S. has a national debt of $8 trillion. These sneaky provisions also invite plain-old corruption.

They go on to point out that often congressmen do not read the bills they vote on, relying instead on staffers to scan it and give them a summary, or fellow legislators to tell them what's up. As can be expected, this is not exactly the best way for a legislator to know what he's voting on, and with the stakes so high, this is unacceptable.

Making bills available online for a few days before the vote would make them available for public scrutiny and debate, and thus give congressmen a better chance to understand what the bills are by reaction from their voters and the debate online. Blogs in particular would be a place that these would be pulled out and examined for their details.

I have no doubt that at times this would be detrimental (some things might be unpopular but a very good idea, for example), but for the most part greater transparency is greater good when it comes to government. Go take a look, and lend them some support if you are so inclined.

Thanks to my friend Lance for this tip!
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Quote of the Day

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
-Abraham Lincoln
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Monday, November 27, 2006

VIEWS OF SPACE

"These are magnificent pictures and they prove that the money spent on the hubble telescope has been very well spent."

Hubble TelescopeIn 1990 the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched the Hubble Telescope, a powerful telescope on a satellite to look into space. The idea behind this device is that it will render clearer images and be able to focus on objects far more distant with greater clarity than any other in existence.

Eagle NebulaThe problem with earth-based telescopes is that no matter how big and impressive they are, they stare through the thick atmosphere and images are distorted and diffracted because of that. For a clearer understanding of this, take a telescope and try looking at the moon when it is directly overhead. Then wait til it's close to the horizon and look again: the atmosphere is thicker as you look through 20 miles of it toward the horizon plus the miles of thickness around the earth. In space there is almost nothing of substance between a telescope and the objects it focuses on.

V838 MonocerotisSadly the telescope has been plagued by troubles and mechanical failures. Its first images were blurry because of a problem with the lens, and the gyroscopic stabilizers are failing. Without an assist to a higher orbit, it will slowly spin closer and closer to earth and fall into the atmosphere, destroyed, by 2010. A replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope, due to be launched in 2013.


NebulaFor all the problems the Hubble telescope suffered, it has produced spectacular images and been a boon for astronomy. Costing $1.5 billion, the Hubble Telescope has paid off in information and scientific discovery, and astronomers have selected the best images this device has ever resolved. NASA and the European Space Administration have combined efforts to offer the best 100 images which includes many of the top 10 Hubble Space Telescope images (and some artist's renditions which are beautiful but out of place). Take a look, they are stunningly beautiful and eerie. I'd link more but they are enormous and you can see them all at the site if you want.
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PAST EDUCATION

"Shut down free schools? Come on, Hawkins. Tomorrow's Democrats have to come from somewhere. Do you really want to live in a country where our aspiring singer-actress-fashion designers can't find the nurturing environments they need?"

Schoolkids
In the early 1800s, William Holmes McGuffy wrote a series of four books designed for young people to use in school to learn to read, understand grammar, and to serve as an introduction to literature. While some consider the books to be anti-Semitic, my mother has a copy and I've found no such trend in them, in fact they are highly positive toward several Jews such as Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul.

What struck me when reading them was the advanced level of education and the difficulty level such books challenged students with. The first book teaches reading through phonics and recognizing letters, but rapidly advances past what most books for this purpose even attempt. The reading level that is expected in these books is far beyond what students of equivalent grades face in today's schools.

In fact, today's schools are experimenting with making things easier and more comfortable with students. For example, in Brooklyn, there is this report:
"One recent day at the Brooklyn Free School, the "schedule'' included the following: filming horror movies, chess, debate and making caves for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Not that the students had to go to any of these sessions. At this school, students don't get grades, don't have homework, don't take tests, and don't even have to go to class -- unless they want to.

"You can do basically anything at any time, and it's just a lot more fun because sometimes when you need a break at regular schools you can't get it,'' said Sophia Bennett Holmes, 12, an aspiring singer-actress-fashion designer. "But here, if you just need to sit down and read and have time to play, then you can do that.''
I remember this being tried in the late 1970s in Oregon, and it was an unmitigated, unqualified disaster. The students, too young and undisciplined to study and learn, did other things instead. My High School ended this idea the year before I started, trying to model it after a college campus where you could go to class or just study hall, take classes in the order you want, and so on. It was abandoned as a total failure.

Right Wing News carried this story, and John Hawkins had this to say:
Look, there's a reason you send kids to school: it's because they're ignorant. The idea that ignorant children can do just as good a job at picking out what they need to be studying as adults is insane.

Moreover, kids need to get a wide educational base, not just study things that they like. How many kids want to sit around doing math problems or want to read some boring old novels or poetry? Not many. But, that doesn't mean that they should be able to just skip it and waste their time making, "caves for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," instead.
Commenters responded, and in particular I wanted to highlight these responses (merged to one post):
Book are published with REAL homework projects of 5 yr olds of 1895 - it literally surpasses the work of today's Ivy League students.
That's a really intriguing assertion, Rose. Would you provide an example, or a link where we might find one?
I saw three or four interviews about the finished work a few years ago, but googling, strangely doesn't help me find it - I had failed to get the details down at the time, but a friend gave me an e-mail about a similar project in Oklahoma:

8th Grade Final Exam 1895

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, KS. USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS and reprinted by the
Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per m?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per arce, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of theRebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates:
1607
1620
1800
1849
1865

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e'. Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono,super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd,cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane,fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced andindicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba,Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

Found this link:

http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/2333-American-Education,-1895.html

http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/2414-A-Few-Fun-Links-on-pre-1900-Education-in-the-US.html
Excerpts from a Connecticut 12 year-old's diary (Julia Cowles):

Saturday (30 June 1797). Went to school, told History, sewed some. Miss Sally says that I have been a pretty good girl this week. I have not been offended this week. I have helped Aunt Lewis almost every day this week.

Thursday (6 July, 1797). I do not recollect any History that we read today, only that there was one Punic War fought between the Romans and Carthagenians.

Monday (25 June, 1799). Attended school, took one lesson on my music, copied of my extracts from Lecture, wrote a composition, attended to Grammar, Geography, and Reading. Evening, walked up to the Grove with the ladies.

Wednesday (9 August, 1799). I attended school, recited my lesson, attended to Geography and Grammar, reading and writing. I am going to begin a letter to Cousin Horace this afternoon.

*Julia Cowles was born at Farmington, Connecticut on 18 October, 1785. She studied at Miss Pierce’s school, and her diary reveals daily life of a young Connecticut school girl. She died 21 May, 1805 (?), probably of consumption.
-by Rose

None of this is new, Jean Jacques Rousseau also advocated letting children do what ever they wanted, and putting no demands upon them. Well, never take advice from a lefty Frenchy intellectual.
-by KyleN
Rose exaggerates, but the basic point is valid: schools used to be significantly more challenging than they are today. The attitude was correctly that children will reach and learn to what they are challenged by, rather than the attitude that you reach down to their level and give them what they can accomplish already. If they can do it already they don't need you to educate them. Children are far more capable of learning, faster and more advanced, than most educators give them credit.

Schools of this kind are a failure simply because children need to be taught and led, they need to have discipline, order, and structure at first until they are ready to take their first few steps on their own, and finally walk independently.
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DHIMMITUDE

"Muslims need to grow up a little and start debating matters openly. I keep trying to remind many of them threats and killing people only reinforces the idea Islam is violent."

A children's book written recently dared to have a Muslim as a bad guy. In recent years this is a controversial decision in an ironic reversal of reality where terrorism is a looming threat, while media and news are deliberately downplaying it. The Australian has the story:
A leading children's publisher has dumped a novel because of political sensitivity over Islamic issues.

Scholastic Australia pulled the plug on The Army of the Pure after booksellers and librarians said they would not stock the adventure thriller for younger readers because the "baddie" was a Muslim terrorist.
The book has nothing shocking in the content other than daring to portray Muslim terrorists as bad guys, and other recent books published by Scholastic Australia and stocked by these libraries and bookstores have dealt with terrorist themes without such concerns:
This decision is at odds with the recent publication of Richard Flanagan's bestselling The Unknown Terrorist and Andrew McGahan's Underground in which terrorists are portrayed as victims driven to extreme acts by the failings of the West.

The Unknown Terrorist is dedicated to David Hicks and describes Jesus Christ as "history's first ... suicide bomber".

In McGahan's Underground, Muslims are executed en masse or herded into ghettos in an Australia rendered unrecognisable by the war on terror.
The Army of the Pure was written in response to a specific request by the publisher for a thriller for kids, something exciting. Andrew Bolt has been keeping score over the years:
Commenters responded:
I am at a loss as to why the whole world is just allowing Muslims to ride rough shod over us. Are we scared, gutless, the reason is not clear. We fight against anyone or anything else that may take away our freedom, but we are giving it away freely to appease Islam. Can anyone explain it?
-by Leonie


Television is no better when it comes to reflecting the reality of Muslim oppression & terrorism. SBS delights in running docos showing the placid face of the REAL ISLAM, and other docos EXPOSING THE ISRAELI TERROR MACHINE.

Another (very annoying)trend in the myriad US-made Police,Forensic and Lawyer TV shows, is the none-too-subtle push to show some racial minorities in positive roles. So, in LAW & ORDER we rarely see a Judge who is a white male. More commonly, the judge is black, female, Hispanic or Asian. And boy, aren’t they knowledgeable, strong & decisive.

In the police dramas, when it comes to spotting the perpetrator of an horrific crime from among several prime suspects, you cannot go wrong if you immediately eliminate the black guy. Black guys don’t commit horrific crimes anymore. Petty crimes maybe, but if there is evidence against a black guy in a rape case, you can bet it was planted by a racist, white cop.

When it comes to action/adventure, the coward or traitor cannot be a black guy or other racial minority. Give the non-white guy the role of wizard Sonar Operator, savvy psychologist, or principalled scientist. The great unwashed out there in viewer-land need to see that their red-neck ideas about race are out-moded and rejected.
-by Spencer de Vere of Brisbane


I hope another publisher has the guts to come forward and publish the book. From what I gather the writer has real talent and has written an excellent thriller. If people do not want to buy it - that’s their choice - but stifling free speech in this manner is gold medal dhimmitude. Knowing that the Aussie larrikin spirit of old survives in places - I bet soneone comes forward and offers to publish it.
-by Skye


I agree with you Phil Maguire. Australians and New Zealanders have fought together against the tyrants of this world and certainly we should not have to put up with the villains of this present world.

We were both raised and taught to love each other and love our country. It is certain should the occasion arise, the ANZACS will respond to any threat by Islamic tyrants

Phil, I hope that the Liberals will have some success in this election and perhaps they should have taken the advice of John Howard and merged with the Nationals.

And who knows, regardless of the polls, anything can happen.
-by Winstone Robinson of Adelaide


Andrew,
Update your post to add this one, as Mark Steyn noted of Hollywood:
They’d rather talk about anything other than Islamic terrorism. The Sean Penn thriller, The Interpreter, was originally about Muslim terrorists blowing up a bus in New York. So, naturally, Hollywood called rewrite. Now the bus gets blown up by African terrorists from the little-known republic of Matobo.
Well of course they did. I mean as any Israeli or Londoner will tell you, who has ever heard of Muslims blowing up a bus?

This isn’t fear, it’s Dhimmitude. One notable exception was a series of 24 which had (shock, horror) an Islamic terrorist. Such a brave moment until Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer had to step out of character during an ad-break and explain to the audience that he knows not all Muslims are terrorists. This happened after seething by Islamist shill group the Council for American Islamic Relations - CAIR, whose members have supported Jihadis and terror groups, and pushed Americans around.
-by Daniel Lewis


I would imagine that the fools who forced Islamic immigration upon the West are now getting worried. They see what a disaster their bone-headed PC nonsense has caused in every Western country. Unfortunately for these fools, they are finding out first hand that people just don’t automatically ‘get along’ - and now we are beginning to challenge the laws that were enacted to silence us.

So instead of having the courage to stand up and admit that they were wrong, the fools are now trying censorship. If it doesnt get reported, it didnt happen.

After years of labelling anyone who protested their moronic policies as ‘racists’ or ‘bigots’, now they apparently think it will all go away if they play it down or distort the obvious truth. It must be worrying to be called ‘traitor’ or ‘dhimmi’ - considering what happens to traitors when the people they have betrayed catch on.

The Australian Librarians Association didnt have the guts or ethics even to lodge an official protest when Castro imprisoned Cuban librarians for passing out copies of ‘1984’ and the US Declaration of Independence - and you can be sure they would stock this book in a heartbeat if the villains were white fundie Christians or even better, Nazis. Blonde, of course!

These people are prepared to imprison anyone (like the two pastors) who speaks out against their disastrous policies, but they give a pass to Islamists every time. Cowards and traitors, every one of them. One can only wish upon them the traditional fate of cowards and traitors.
-by Dee of Sydney


Of course it should be removed from the shelf. Bashing any religion has no place in a child’s book. We don’t need to polute the minds of our children.

A troll, or something religion neutral would be more appropriate.
-by Paul of Brisbane


we are slowly, but steadily, committing cultural suicide. We are handing the geo-political high ground to people who want to destroy us.

It’s no different in Canada, where no major bookseller will stock Mark Steyn’s “America Alone”, which is an important defence of Judeo-Christian culture; the culture which has given us everything we have today - free speech, prosperity, reasonably ethical government and respect for people who are not like us.

There is no other culture or society that has the same values or is even aspiring to anything similar.

Unless we react vehemently, our granddaughters will be wearing burquas and will be living in a foetid 7th century hell - overpopulated due to the advances in sanitation and medicine (both courtesy of the dreaded Judeo-christian culture), but corrupt, inept and repressive.
-by Jack Linard of Montreal, Canada
Mark Steyn's column Where's the Vera Lynn for Our War? looks at the way the war on terror is being covered by the press and Hollywood, in particular contrasted with World War Two.
Other than that, popular culture has pretty much skipped the Vera Lynn phase and cut straight to Basil Fawlty: don't mention the war. They'd rather talk about anything other than Islamic terrorism. The Sean Penn thriller, The Interpreter, was originally about Muslim terrorists blowing up a bus in New York. So, naturally, Hollywood called rewrite. Now the bus gets blown up by African terrorists from the little-known republic of Matobo. "We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way," said Kevin Misher, the producer.

But being so perversely "non-political" is itself a political act. If there were a dozen movies in which Tom Cruise kicked al-Qa'eda butt across the Hindu Kush, it would be reasonable to say, "Hey, we'd rather deal with Matoban terrorism for a change."

But, when every movie goes out of its way to avoid being "encumbered", it starts to look like a pathology. Whenever some hapless studio exec finds he's accidentally optioned a property that happens to have Islamist terrorists in it, the first thing he does is change the enemy. Thus, the baddies in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears were de-Islamicised and transformed into German neo-Nazis, a very pressing threat to America in 2005.

Imagine it's 1943, you're at a Warner Bros script meeting about Casablanca, and Jack Warner says: "I like it. But do the bad guys have to be Germans? How about if we re-set it in Massachusetts and make them sinister British neo-Redcoats?"
Given Mel Gibson's apparent animosity with the British if he directed it I wouldn't be surprised. Still, Mark Steyn brings up a good point: why the desperation to avoid having any Muslim terrorists? The last movie that looked like it could (2002's Collateral Damage with Arnold Schwarzenegger) had the obviously middle eastern-appearing terrorist actually working for South American druglords.

Islamic terrorists are by absolute ethical standards bad guys. The only reason to avoid portraying them as such is a mix of things, including deliberate adherence to the Kevin Drum principle: even if I agree with something, I'll reject it or be silent on it because otherwise I might help President Bush. Another influence? Fear. Fear of rioting Muslims, fear of bombs, fear of ending up like Theo Van Gogh, a fear of bombs exploding in one's shop or business. It's easier to bash Christians who won't kill you and be silent about radical Muslims who might.
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