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Friday, October 27, 2006

Andy Rooney on Iraq

I hope this link works here, but anyway here's a nice little clip from Andy Rooney. I've been monitoring this whole situation as closely as anything in the "public realm," and I think there was a definite shift in public opinion on the war around 2,000 US deaths. The first big blow to Bush's popularity was Katrina, but even then I don't think it was acceptable in any circle to say we should bring the troops home. But now, more and more, I'm seeing signs that it's fashionable for this to be one's position.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

{No) Pasaran II

Answer the problem came with—cogent reason:

Flip the coin twice.

HH repeat two flips
HT grade is A
TH grade is B
TT repeat two flips

Comment by a friend to whom I gave P. I—insufficient reason:

This solution is unnecessary. On Day One, the students had no reason to expect that the coin—if unfair—would have either particular bias. Independently, they had equally no reason to expect either particular assignment of heads and tails. Therefore, on the day the students were required to decide whether or not to take the course for credit, the prospect of a simple single flip sufficed to guarantee the promised outcome.

(“Cogent reason” and “insufficient reason” refer to the two extreme philosophies for the assignment of probability. (But you knew that?))

(No) Pasaran I

The problem as I received it:

A professor announces on the first day of class that he doesn’t believe in grades, but the deanery insists; therefore he guarantees every student equal chances of receiving A or B, the grades to be assigned at random. Anyone who is unhappy with this should not take the course for credit.

Doomsday—and the professor gets out his little black grade book. He is about to flip a coin for each student, giving A for heads and B for tails, when he thinks: I didn’t merely promise that each student had the same expectation as every other; I promised an equal chance of A or B. What if this coin—or any coin—is not absolutely fair? What to do?

See P. II for answers.

Lancet Study Fine

Says this fellow, who has spent two years studying their technique.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fatwa (in words!!) on Kristol

Incidentally, fatwa is a pretty interesting concept for private law thinkers. But anyway, here I just mean it in the I'm-a-typical-American-and-can't-find-Kuwait-on-a-map sense. Recently Bill Kristol wrote an article containing the following concession:

Democrats hyped last Sunday's news stories breathlessly reporting on one judgment from April's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)--that the war in Iraq has created more terrorists. More than would otherwise have been created if Saddam were still in power? Who knows? The NIE seems not even to have contemplated how many terrorists might have been created by our backing down, by Saddam's remaining in power to sponsor and inspire terror, and the like.

Did y'all catch that? Kristol is here admitting that there might be more terrorists now than before we invaded Iraq!! And he's acting like the war hawks never claimed otherwise!!

I don't have the time, but somebody ought to comb through his archives and find Kristol's discussions (pre-invasion) of why we needed to go in and take out Saddam vis-a-vis terrorism. I would be very surprised if he even hinted at the possibility that the absolute number of terrorists might go up (though relative to inaction, the number would still be lower).

Oh one other thing: I think you'd have to pay $30 to subscribe to the Weekly Standard to get the back issues. But just view it as Kristol selling you the noose.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fun with English

Bird Gods
From ESPN writer Jayson Stark, commenting on Yadlier Molina's game-winning home run last night:
"But not even Endy Chavez could leap high enough or far enough to keep this ball from landing in the Cardinals' Game 7 pantheon."
So the Cardinals have a temple honoring all of their gods -- or is it just all of their "Game 7" gods? -- just over the left field fence in Shea Stadium? Why would the Mets allow that? No wonder they lost!
Of course that is to take Stark literally. But what would he mean figuratively? The home-run ball has now become one of the Cardinals' gods? Or perhaps it just landed among the Game 7 gods, maybe hitting one of them right in the pantheon? Ouch!

Dick Blumenthal Before He Dicks You
On the radio today, I head Connecticut Attorney General Dick "Is There a Camera Around I Can Jump in Front of?" Blumenthal declare: "The electrical industry in Connecticut is now a regulatory black hole."
Does the Dickster have any idea what a black hole is? Does he mean to say that the mass of regulation concerning the CT electrical industry is so dense that it will suck all nearby regulation into it?

Sign on the George Washington Bridge:
"Occupants must remain in disabled vehicles."
Is that supposed to be a definition or a law? If definition, it's true enough -- an occupant is someone who is in the vehicle. If a law, it's remarkably hard to find a violator -- someone who exits the vehicle is no loner an occupant, and so can go wherever they want!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another Note from a Muslim Correspondent

Go figure, but the same day Gene posts his note (below), I open my inbox to find this:

---------

With due respect,

BRIEFLY I AM MR AHMED YUSUF THE DIRECTOR AUDIT AND ACCOUNTING DEPARTMANT IN
BANK OF AFRICA BURKINA FASO.
I AM HERE TO CONTACT YOU OF THE TRANSACTION TODAY, DURING THE LAST YEAR
AUDITING IN MY DEPARTMENT, WE DISCOVERED A HUGE SUM OF MONEY BELONG TO ONE
OUR DECEASED CUSTOMER WHO DIED ON MONDAY,31 JULY,2000,13:22GMT 14:22UK WITH
HIS ENTIRE FAMILY IN A FORCEFUL PLANE CRASH ALONG,THE WEBSITE
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/859479.stm

SINCE HIS UNTIMELY DEATH THE FUND HAS BEEN DORMANT IN HIS ACCOUNT WITH THIS
BANK HERE WITHOUT ANYBODY COMING FORTH TO CLAIM THIS FUND IN OUR BANK EITHER
FROM HIS RELATION BEFORE OUR DISCOVERY TO THIS DEVELOPMENT,SINCE I HAVE BEEN
UNSUCCESSFUL IN LOCATING HIS RELATIVES,I HEREBY SEKING YOUR CONSENT TO
PRESENT YOU AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO THE DECEASED FOR YOU TO CLAIM THIS FUND
ALTHOUGH,I KEEP THIS INFORMATION SECRET WITHIN MYSELF SINCE WE DISCOVERED
FUND.

THE AMOUNT DISCOVERED IS $9.5M (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED
STATES DOLLARS) AND THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% RISK FREE AS I HAVE MADE
SUCCESSFUL ARRANGEMENT AS AN INSIDER OF THE BANK BEFORE CONTACTING YOU,ON
CONCLUSION OF THIS TRANSACTION, YOU WILL BE ENTITLED TO 30% OF THE TOTAL SUM
AS GRATIFICATION, WHILE 10% WILL BE SET ASIDE TO TAKE CARE OF EXPENSES THAT
MAY ARISE DURING THE TIME OF TRANSFER AND ALSO TELEPHONE BILLS, WHILE 60%
WILL BE FOR ME.

PLEASE, BE ADVICE TO KEEP THIS A TOP SECRET AS WE ARE STILL IN SERVICE AND
INTEND TO RETIRE FROM SERVICE AFTER I CONCLUDE THIS DEAL WITH YOU. I WILL BE
MONITORING THE WHOLE SITUATION HERE IN THIS BANK UNTILL YOU CONFIRM THE FUND
IN YOUR ACCOUNT AND ASK ME TO COME DOWN TO YOUR COUNTRY FOR SUBSEQUENT
SHARING OF THE FUND ACCORDING TO PERCENTAGE PREVIOUSLY INDICATED AND FURTHER
INVESTMENT, EITHER IN YOUR COUNTRY OR ANY COUNTRY YOU ADVICE ME TO INVEST
INN.

ALL OTHER NECESSARY INFORMATION WILL BE SENT TO YOU ON YOUR ACCEPTANCE TO
CHAMPION THIS TRANSACTION WITH ME.
PLEASE INCASE OF VIRUS YOU CONTACT ON THIS EMAIL ahmed_yusuf10@yahoo.co.uk
THANKS
MR AHMED YUSUF.

Dangerous Dave Barry

This "FIRE" site explains that a PhD candidate was told to remove a "patently offensive" Dave Barry quotation about the federal government. The guy should post some Thomas Jefferson quotes and see what happens.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ed TV

My friend Ed Stringham talks on TV about his study of drinking.

A Note from a Reader

Sometimes, you get a note that makes the effort seem worthwhile, after all:

********

Dear Mr. Gene Callahan,

I just read your subject article online and when i saw a link to email you, i felt compelled to write a few lines. I hope you will have the time to read.

I am an Indian national, working in Saudi Arabia. And I am a muslim.

Recently, I have changed my plans about savings and started spending more. Because i think i won't live long enough to enjoy the benefits of my savings. I feel I will be killed soon by American violence - if it is not by American soldier or bomb, then it will be another bomb/bullet which was triggered in direct reaction to American actions.

I am not a jihadi. I am not even religious. But the fact that i was born a muslim qualifies me for such a death.

Day in and day out i hear debates about why killing Americans is justified. About how this world can only be saved by destroying America. About how we are doomed unless we act against America.

But that is just one of the opinions i hear. For the vast majority of us, there is no opinion, no hope... just despair. We feel we are doomed, no matter what!

And every time i hear such an argument, i always debate the logic and the remotest possibility that violence can save the rest of the world from being consumed by the American empire.

In my personal view, there is only one hope. And that is the PEOPLE of America.

During my 14 years' stay in Saudi Arabia, I have worked/interacted with many western nationals. And it is my view that Americans are one of the nicest people in the world. and the day they find out what their government is really up to, they will put an end to it.

And when i read articles like the one i read from you today, i feel there is hope.

Thank you for giving us that hope!

God bless you,
Ali

Monday, October 16, 2006

Maybe we should vote for them?

LRC ran a great James Bovard article on how the liberators of Iraq actually didn't bend over backwards to bring democracy (forget electricity). Here's a good quote from Paul Bremer, former American overlord of Iraq (I know I know, that wasn't his actual title):


In a postwar situation like this, if you start holding elections, the people who are rejectionists tend to win.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

give me my parking decal dammit!

A few weeks ago, the city reminded me--in a letter mailed to my home--that my neighborhood parking decal expires at the end of October. They asked me to mail-in my renewal form instead of huffing it over to their office. Yesterday, I got my reply! In the mail! They want me to FAX them proof that I live at the address where they have sent me all these letters.

A Watershed in History

My six-year-old son today asked me, "What's a blog?"

I gave the response I suually do: "It's a web log."

He came back, "What's a log?"

He is the first person I've met who had heard of a blog without having heard of a log.

Soon, we will hear, "Oh, a log -- that's a kind of paper-based blog."

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Futility of Violence

You shortsighted libertarians agree with me that initiating violence is wrong, but you still believe it's a good thing to forcibly punish true "bad guys." Well what about this story? Oh wait, don't tell me: This just proves the sentence wasn't harsh enough. If we executed bank robbers, you wouldn't see this type of thing.

Taliban Devise Ingenius Defense

My wife tipped me off to this hilarious article... I was trying to think of a clever blog title, but I couldn't beat "Can't smoke 'em out?" that one of the news agencies used.

It Will Get Worse...

From MSNBC:
"Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, briefing in Baghdad on Thursday, attributed the rising casualties to insurgent violence that coincides with the current Islamic holy month of Ramadan, as well as more aggressive operations in Baghdad."

“'We assume it will still get worse before it gets better. We expect violence to continue to increase over the next two weeks, until the end of Ramadan,' Caldwell said."

Well, given the whole war has been 3 1/2 years of "getting worse," I'd say we're seeing an example here of military intelligence at its finest.

Nice Meadow!

My friend Roderick Long has launched the Center for a Stateless Society, which, even if nothing else comes of it, has a really nice photo on the top of their home page.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Moral Clarity

After Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle crashed his plane into a Manhattan apartment building today, nothing could be clearer than this: Manhattan should now bomb the Bronx until it is reduced to a pile of burning rubble. Anything less would show a lack of "resolve" on the part of Manhattan.

Predictions: 2 out of 3 in 3 days

Well I recently made 3 predictions. Three days have gone by, and already two of them have been addressed by news stories (#1 and #3).

Yeah yeah, I know the casualty numbers have been disputed, but does anybody doubt my target will be reached by 2016? And if the Army right now is saying they're there until 2010, in plain English that means at least 2020.

More on the Rule of Law (under the Sea)

It's ironice that Gene just posted about this, because I am about to make a similar post. We have been in a hotel until 2 days ago (we just closed on a house). We haven't rented a movie in ages, and my wife bought our son The Little Mermaid (the DVD, not an actual organism).

So I'm man enough to admit that I watched it (quite eagerly) last night. There was a great part where Ariel (the dimunitive mermaid) signs a contract with the witch, and Ariel's father comes in and tries to blast the witch with his trident. But the witch holds up the contract and the bolt bounces off, and the witch says triumphantly, "This is a perfectly legal contract."

You can fill in the blanks. I thought it was great.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Democratic Governance

A correspondent wrote in suggesting that elections offer some redress to the tendency towards fascism exhibited recently by the US and UK governments. I agree with him in that democratic elections do impose some constraint on the behaviour of rulers. But that constraint is very much vitiated by the control of an opinion-making elite over what options are available to the electorate.

For example, in 2004, roughly 50% of the US electorate was opposed to the Iraq war. But the two major parties each offered candidates who supported the war, only differing in how they proposed to conduct it. The most viable candiate to express the anti-war view, Howard Dean, was sabotage by the widespread media "exposure" of his "instability."

Now, I don't suggest that there was some coherent conspiracy to defeat Dean. There is no need to postulate such a conspiracy if one recognizes that the elite in question travel in the same social circles, attend the same parties, find their offspring marrying each other, and so on. All that is needed to blow up the Dean campaign is not an organized conspiracy, but merely a predominant opinion among that elite that Dean is "too radical, too far "out there." Once that exists, any incident taken to exhibit that consensus view wll be advanced throughout the outlets that elite controls.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"Military Style Planning"

As we wait to move into our new home we've been in a Residence Inn, and I've watched more than my fair share of shows on the Food Network. Anyway this host was doing a documentary on the banquet they have after the Grammys, and she was trying to express the enormity of the task. "300 lbs. of tuna, 6,000 tomatoes, etc. etc." She talked about how many chefs would be involved and so forth, and then said, "...getting ready for a task that will require military-style planning."

Can someone please explain to me why the military has a reputation for being excellent planners? Don't, say, experimental scientists have to really think things through before starting a project? Don't oil companies engage in long-range planning?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rumsfeld quote

This is from Newsweek's excerpts from Woodward's book:

"They [the enemy in Iraq] don't have parliaments and bureaucracies and real estate to defend and interact with or deal with or cope with. They can do what they want. They aren't held accountable for lying or for killing innocent men, women, and children.

"There's something about the body politic in the United States that they can accept the enemy killing innocent men, women, and children and cutting off people's heads, but have zero tolerance for some soldier who does something he shouldn't do."


I think the "something he shouldn't do" is Rumsfeld's term for things like raping a young girl and shooting her whole family (except for the brothers that happened to be out at the time). And how many of you American readers pay taxes to the Iraqi insurgents?

Murphy Double Play

An article against the war, and, for something different, an article against the war.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Letters from the Brownshirts

I've received about 100 letters in response to my "Welcome to Fascist America" article, about 90% positive, including notes from an ex-Marine and an ex-official from high up in the Reagan administration. But what's almost amusing is the general tone of the other 10%, which runs, "Fuck you, you Communist traitor, go to hell!" As if they were trying to illustrate my point by showing the fascist spirit in its full glory!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Letters from the Insane

In response to my recent column at LewRockwell.com, I received:
***********
As it turns out Mussalini and Tito regarded as the co=operators of 'facisim" in the 1920's were quite sure they would get the support of Hitler when discussions regarding the masses were in doubt.

Look what happened to the super-star Micheal Jackson, a prodigy of the facist movement, created right here in America in the early 60's.

The civil right leaders at that time were unaware of the plot to create a story which later would be carried through by the Japanese , another society that keep its masses homogeneous throughout recent history, and still does today.

What about another great american hero of the 40's and 50's , i foget his name, but recently praised by the Japanese outgoing PM, ""love me tender"" , totally setup up by the Russians, in a deliberate move to carry out idealogy that was being kept secret, that started in the 1920s and 1930s.

So what is my point hear,

segregation is a word that we learnt in the 60s that became apparent in 2000, interms of psycho-analytical geographic-representations, or a way the masses were represented in terms of census reporting.

This is true when the ROMANS did the same to control the genetic-flow, as we learn today of the Nobel winning loreates, that have control over the genetic dispersions that have grown through the ages.

Reports are known to find that stem cells are made avaialble for price ranges between $60000 and more.
********

Yeah, what he said! But what did he say?

We Now Take You to...

intermission, over at Patrick Hughes'.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Give me your tired, your poor...

...your muddled asses...

Ali Gene in a Welsh Garden

Yo, yo, yo, shoutin out to the Crash Landing massive that me's back. I had to do a little time inside, you know, I'se went down for a bit, but I'm out again.



What I wants to talk to you about today is when I went to see me main man, that diamond geezer Professor Callahan, out in Wales. Well, I'm waitin' for 'im and lookin' at the nice bit o' greenery you sees above. And there's these two Welsh blokes next to me, and I says to 'em, "What sort a garden is that?"

And one of the wankers tells me, "Not garden."

So, I says to 'im, "Look, I can bloody well see it's a garden, I just want to know what sort a garden it is."

And the other Jobby says, "Not garden."

These Welsh is really lost the plot.

The Good War?

Many opponnents of the War on Iraq think that the War on Afghanistan stands in sharp contrast to the former. I've always been skeptical of that position. I recall that, just before the invasion, the Taliban offered to turn over bin Laden to the US if the Bush administration would give it (them? Is Taliban singular or plural?) evidence tying bin Laden to 9/11. That seemed a perfectly reasonable position to me, and I worried that it was more the possibility of oil pipelines than any danger posed by the Taliban that led Bush to ignore the offer.

Now Eric Margolis, who has extensive experience reporting in the region, confirms my suspicions. An excerpt:
"Pakistan’s efforts to make the Bush Administration understand it was supporting Taliban to maintain order in Afghanistan, keep the Russian-backed Afghan Communist Party in check, and to block Indian and Iranian influence there, fell on deaf ears.

"So was ISI’s insistence that Taliban had no knowledge or part in the 9/11 attacks, and bore no ill will towards the United States. Quite the contrary, many Taliban commanders were originally armed, financed, and trained by CIA in the 1980’s. But enraged Americans were demanding revenge for 9/11. They wanted targets, not explanations."

Read the rest here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Curious Amazon Result

Following up on a blog link, I came across this book:
The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe

The weird thing is that the top book to pair with this in the "Better Together" selections is Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing).

Say what? Are people who are especially interested about what Christians believe also extremely concerned about citation styles?

Defeat Is Not an Option in Iraq...

it's an inevitability.

You have to be very brainwashed by some cult (e.g., US as the nation of divine destiny) to think that merely "being determined" that you can lift a ten-ton rock by hand will impress the boulder at all.