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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Likely Story

Tommy claims that it's all a mistake. Tommy claims that he wasn't even involved. But the customs guys think otherwise.... Computers are not always a wonderful thing. That old joke about your "permanent record" is becoming less and less of a joke.

MicroSoft And The XBox Follies

The story's over at Oraculations.

Of course, Howard is a male - so you might not want to take his financial advice! (Considering the effect of the testosterone.) As for me, if I were in MicroBleh I'd get out.

I wander off laughing...

The Cotillion Romps

The Cotillion is up! It's also hosted at Darleen's Place. Click over - you won't be sorry.

Reasoned Audacity's coverage of a study reporting that women are better money managers than men is an absolute must-read. It's a failing of men's testosterone, you see! Somehow the pitiful nerve cells that have survived the poisonous hormone just launch into a frenzy of money-churning and general financial mismanagement. And the best part - if a man is a successful money manager, it's only because he thinks like a woman.

Of course, the logical implication is that we should immediately mandate affirmative action programs for male financial managers, right? But I doubt we'll hear a call for that.

Remember the golden rule of today's society: you may observe and report on male-female differences only if you are reporting that women are better at something. The converse does not hold true. Do not, for example, observe that women, on average, test lower on spatial-ability aptitude exams. The press would applaud Martha Burk as she threw your dismembered body parts on the highway and led NOW in a triumphant march over them. In particular, the NY Times would run front page articles for a month discussing your appalling life and richly-deserved demise.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Poor New Orleans

Somehow, I don't think offering a free wireless internet system is going to help New Orleans much:
In an attempt to boost its stalled economy, the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans is starting the nation's first free wireless Internet network owned and run by a major city.
Nagin said the system started operation Tuesday in the central Business District and the French Quarter. It is to be available throughout the city in about a year.
A better levee system might do a lot more:
A common theme emerging in the debate about rebuilding hurricane-hit New Orleans is it should have a flood protection system to withstand Category 5 storms.

But building such a system will be astronomically expensive and technically complex, reports The New York Times. It will involve far more than just higher levees, including extensive changes to the city's system of drainage canals and pumps and environmental restoration on a vast scale to replenish buffering wetlands and barrier islands.
The estimate is around 32 billion. As it is, I bet a lot of companies are hesitant to rebuild buildings in vulnerable areas (most of the Big Easy). So far no one has come up with what seems like a workable proposal to protect the city for the long term:
Tim Kusky, a professor of earth sciences at St. Louis University and a flood control expert, told CBS News coastal erosion has all but doomed the city's future.

"We should be thinking about a gradual pullout of New Orleans, and starting to rebuild people's homes, businesses and industry in places that can last more than 80 years," he said. "New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, sitting off the coast of North America surrounded by a 50- to 100-foot-tall levee system to protect the city."
Letting the Mississippi run free again would replenish the delta, but it would destroy more property than it would save. Is there a solution? I don't know.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Kyoto And Canada

Darcey of Dust My Broom is mocking his own government about the Kyoto Treaty. He links to this article comparing Canadian deeds to Canadian words:
This should be a proud moment for Canada, where a major conference to find a successor to the Kyoto climate change treaty opens on Monday. Instead, the government is faced with an embarrassing predicament.

How can a country that has campaigned vocally for the world to do more to combat climate change be doing so poorly when it comes to curbing emissions of its own greenhouse gases?

Under the Kyoto treaty, Canada committed to cutting its emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2010. Recent U.N. data show those emissions were in fact almost 25 percent above 1990 levels in 2003.
Well, no country is doing very well with Kyoto. Nuclear power is the best way to get there, and most of the environmental lobby seems to hate nuclear power. Darcey notes cynically that the Canadian government is literally lying to its own citizens to make them believe that Canada is helping to save the world while it is doing the exact opposite:
Developing the oil sands in the province of Alberta will cement Canada's profitable position as the largest exporter of energy to the United States, a fact that critics say exposes what they call the Liberal government's hypocrisy.
The truth is that although Canada ratified Kyoto in 1997, it has done little in practice to meet its targets. The Liberal government produced a plan in 2001, but it relied in part on advances from technologies which had not yet been invented.
The article goes on to talk about public transportation. In a country the size of Canada? I can't find any country that is going to comply with Kyoto. It's time for the world to figure out another way to get there. Not that it's going to change the temperature one bit, though. We'd have to put out an awful lot of CO2 to warm up the earth.

The sun is putting out more energy, and that's why we have global warming, which should now be renamed "solar system warming". Here's an interesting, non-political article discussing the history of the solar system. Water vapor is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. When the sun gets hotter, the earth gets warmer and moister, and that probably accounts for our relatively stable temperatures even while the sun's output has varied.

People ought to be worrying about the sun getting colder again. People have been around for a long time, but during the ice ages agriculture wasn't possible over most of the earth's surface. Everything we have is due to living in a warm period in the earth's history.

One Heck Of An Anti-Speech Precedent

PittsburghLIVE.com is carrying the story about a political-speech case in Washington State:
Two Seattle radio talk hosts had the nerve to say how they felt about an issue and then to offer more than lip service.

Their rants against a gas tax increase, as well as their efforts to raise money and circulate petitions, were determined to be in-kind contributions by a local judge, who recently reaffirmed his earlier ruling.

That meant the radio station had to put a dollar value on what the hosts had said. The estimate of that in-kind contribution of $100,000 of airtime was reported as a campaign donation under state law.
This is the sort of nonsense we can't afford. This does affect bloggers, or newspaper columnists, or radio hosts. In one way or another, most speech on issues of the day can be deemed political. In-kind contributions go against the maximum allowable contributions. In fact, in Texas no corporations are supposed to donate to campaigns. Probably in Texas the radio station could now be charged with a criminal violation.

This sort of thing is an utter perversion of the meaning of the First Amendment, and it's got to be stopped. Limiting speech is unconstitutional, and allowing judges to evaluate speech to decide if it is political enough to be a contribution is ridiculous.

This gores everyone's ox, and everyone should be raising cain about this and McCain-Feingold.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cold Blasts Of Reality

When I was up north I noticed several groups of Canada geese that had odd-looking white geese with them. I figured they must be domestic geese gone wild, although they didn't look like domestic geese. This morning I got up and saw this odd-looking bird swimming around with the Canada geese. After an hour of hunting, I identified it as a Ross' goose. No way should it be here - this is a northern bird. That made me think that the white geese with the Canadas up north were snow geese. I suspect there's a lot of birds dying up in Canada and Alaska and the survivors are fleeing.Birds do this - they are not dumb.

There's been a lot of argument about the very meager avian flu test results released in Canada. For me, the question is now settled.

The Triumphant Return Of The Plumbing Goddess

Well, I made it back home about 7:30 last night. It's about 960 miles. By the afternoon the traffic was getting thick from Thanksgiving travelers, so I figured I'd just better push on and finish the drive on Saturday.

The way I reconstruct the evening, I staggered in to hysterical applause from the canine contingent, was administered some food by a delighted but surprised Chief No-Nag, and fell asleep fully clothed.

Anyway, Rescue Dog checked me out and gave me a tentative thumbs up this morning. Chief No-Nag was scurrying around trying to pick up the debris of a womanless week, and he mentioned that he was probably going to have to get a plumber to come in tomorrow. He said the shower drain was blocked, he hadn't been able to unblock it, he needed some ferocious sounding tool and he hadn't been able to find one.

Well, I went in and investigated matters after I sent him off to golf and unblocked the drain in about one minute. It was a mold clog, not an actual clog. He probably cleared the original clog. For those who have never encountered such a thing, mold can build up on the side of the pipes when a drain has been running slowly. When you clear the clog, the force of the water running down the drain knocks the mold loose and forms a clog. Normally you can just push through it and wash it down, but on rare occasions it forms a sort of flap that floats up and floats down right above the bend in the pipe. If the flap is attached at the top of the pipe, you can shove a small snake through there and never dislodge it. The best way to handle these is either to put caustic stuff down the drains (which we do not do because this is the country and there is a septic system). So I filled the drain up with water and sucked the mold out with a plunger.

The shower is draining just fine, and I expect I will be wearing even more of a halo when he arrives home and discovers this.

A forensic investigation of the refrigerator shows that
I have the image of a feral sort of purely carnivorous existence in my absence, so I am skipping church and going shopping for vegetables. I figure if I make him a pie he'll be so dizzy with pleasure that he won't notice he's eating a healthy dinner. He loves coconut cream pie.

Regardless, I feel pretty good this morning, which is good since I am undergoing healthcare. I don't care what the political wonks say about healthcare. It sucks. The average person probably needs less healthcare rather than more. I bet most of the people in this country would be healthier if they worked more and got less healthcare.

I now understand why the doctor was so nervous about this in the beginning when I first started. I remember him giving me anesthetic, and I could never figure out why. Well, it turns out that this particular medical treatment hurts really, really badly. I was just too far gone to know it. Now I'm not. Not that I am using anesthetic, because I'm tougher than an entire platoon of Marines. Anesthetic just knocks me out, and the entire point is to become more conscious, not less.

Fortunately, the doctor trained me to administer it myself. If someone else were doing this to me, I'd probably feel like punching that person out, and I like to live in peace and good fellowship with other human beings.

I was nervous about this step, because I had to originally quit this treatment. It's very effective, but while I was getting better physically I was having terrible neurological side effects.

Now here's one that should stump you who don't believe in God. I recall praying about it years ago, right when I descended into wordlessness the last time, and I was told what was wrong and what to do about it. Where my skull met my spine an infection had formed around the vertebrae. The reason that this treatment hurts so badly is that the medication knocks out the infection and causes massive swelling at those sites. The swelling from the treatment was putting pressure on my brain. You can use antagonists to cut the swelling, but they all have serious side effects.

So what I was told to do was use a much less effective treatment. I remember God telling me that he would take care of it, but that it would be very slow. I am pretty sure that the doctor believed I had decided to let nature take its course. Instead, I very slowly recovered. It took years. Several times I could feel what felt like someone had just hauled off and hit me in the back of the neck. According to what I was told in prayer, the inside lof this area was blocked off so that it wouldn't protrude into the base of my skull or push against my spinal cord, but that meant the pressure had to be bled off slowly on the outside of my neck. I had this big lump I could feel there. Sometimes I had to take ibuprofen to deal with the swelling, but I only took it when I was told to when praying.

Last year when I went to see the doctor I told him about this. He looked into my eyes, freaked out and sent me to have a CAT scan. This year I got the go ahead (in prayer) to do the real treatment. And lala! The rest of my body is hurting as if I had been pounded with hammers, but I don't even have a headache. Now I should start to recover swiftly, because this stuff really, really works. The doctor sent me off with a very happy admonition to keep the faith, adding (somewhat mysteriously) that "There aren't very many of us left."

So, as you can see, the occasion calls for coconut cream pies and jubiliation.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Interesting China Thread on CurEvents

The stuff about the industrial accidents in Harbin and Chongqing is particularly interesting. See page 2 of the thread.

The Japanese virologist has issued a recantation of sorts. See this PubMed summary. But other scientists confirmed that the chart was shown and the basics of the media account. I suspect this man is lying now to prevent a witchhunt in China.

It's not looking good to me, but I don't believe that they have a pandemic flu in China. I think they fear one, and most of all they fear economic disruption.

Anyway, I'm heading south. Driving, driving, driving....

Bill Richardson's Bid

So the news hit a week or so ago that Bill Richardson was going to run for President in 2008. Now this:
For nearly four decades, Richardson, often mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate, has maintained he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics.

The claim was included in a brief biography released when Richardson successfully ran for Congress in 1982. A White House news release in 1997 mentioned it when he was about to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And several news organizations, including The Associated Press, have reported it as fact over the years.

But an investigation by the Albuquerque Journal found no record of Richardson being drafted by the A's, who have since moved to Oakland, or any other team.
I don't know what impact this will have on his presidential bid, but it's not going to be a help. Before this, I thought he had a very good chance.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sundry Sanities And Insanities

The fragging prof resigned. Good idea, IMO. Illiterate English professors recommending murder are not a jewel in the crown of any college. I still didn't want to see him chucked for expressing an opinion, though. I wanted to see him axed for being illiterate.

Chris Matthews says terrorists aren't evil. Someone should ask him how he characterizes Beslan, or those people blowing up mosques and trying to get handicapped children to carry suicide bombs in Iraq:
"The period between 9-11 and (invading) Iraq was not a good time for America. There wasn't a robust discussion of what we were doing," Matthews said."If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil. They just have a different perspective.

"The smartest people understand the enemy's point of view, because they understand what's driving them."
Here's a hint, Chris. They want to destroy all law other than Sharia and rule the world in the name of God. It is amazing to me that the loony left can have hysterics about the Catholic church in one breath and announce that we need to understand the child-murderers of Beslan and Iraq in the next breath. I am now moving Matthews to the Jimmy Carter branch of the loony left. What a twit. For the record, I don't believe that people are innately evil or good. I believe that they can willfully decide to do evil, though.

For an example of anti-Catholic hysteria, see this Democratic Underground thread reacting to the news that the Vatican will not ordain gay priests unless they are celibate and don't support gay culture (i.e. support Catholic teachings):
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican says homosexuals who are sexually active or support "gay culture" are unwelcome in the priesthood unless they have gotten over their homosexual tendencies for at least three years, according to a church document posted on the Internet by an Italian Catholic news agency.
1. But sexually repressed homosexuals like the fashionista Pope are OK?
Since chastity is a requirement the Vatican is asking for a commitment to actually be chaste. Glad we cleared that up!
3. "unless they have gotten over their homosexual tendencies for at least three years."Stupid ignorant f__ks! As if you can change your eye color every three years. I'm embarrassed for the Catholic Church.
Chastity, sweetie. If they were having wild gay sex the Vatican wants them to demonstrate that they can live as chaste men.
5. Hey VatiKLAN: Get out of my government, stay away from my body and soul.

BTW, your tax bill is ready and you owe us big time! Stick that in your mitre and pay up before you pray because God won´t listen until you make it right with your fellow man, woman, gay, lesbian, transgendered person and homosexual priest!

KNOW this: Americans will always have this against you and every other false religion until you pay every cent owed going back decades.

AND please stop wearing sheets.
Weird, really weird. The US Constitution grants religions freedom from governmental control. But then, the loony left hates the US Constitution.

You don't have to be Catholic to think that the Catholic church has a right to refuse to ordain priests who don't support Catholic doctrine. The chastity bit does prevent many heterosexual men from entering the priesthood, so it is not surprising that it will present the same problem to men attracted to men. Unfortunately, there have been some incredible examples of homosexual priests going their own way. Take, for example, the Austrian seminary, in which not only were the students and the faculty getting it on (and taking photos), but downloading child pornography.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ah Ha!

Iowahawk explains the ins and outs of the "Open Source Media" franchise, amid gleeful speculations on his new yacht:
Open Source Media is a new multi-aspect business concept in which many of the top superstar and mega-hyper superstars of the internet blogosphere have formed a powerful alliance to create shareholder value, and piss off Ann Althouse.
As Iowahawk explains, this is not about you, the reader, but about his yacht:
What is in it for me, the reader?

Plenty! First, you will benefit from additional information about lifestyle products and services, targeted to important consumer segments like yourself. Second, you will get the satisfaction of knowing that I have vowed a portion of my anticipated insane wealth to finally wreak sweet vengeance on Kyle Sitzmann, that goddamn bastard who pantsed me during 9th grade coed PE class. Third, money-saving coupons.
I laughed all the way through. There is a business-model diagram.

Who Believes In Free Speech?

For some reason, Mike Adam's column on the professor of fragging and bad English at a community college in New Jersey really depressed me. Posters pointing out that Communism had produced millions of deaths seem to have set the man off, so he replied to Rebecca Beach's invitation to hear Lt. Colonel Scott Rutter speak with this:
I am asking my students to boycott your event. I am also going to ask others to boycott it. Your literature and signs in the entrance lobby look like fascist propaganda and is [sic] extremely offensive. Your main poster "Communism killed 100,000,000" is not only untrue, but ignores the fact that CAPITALISM has killed many more and the evidence for that can be seen in the daily news papers. The U.S. government can fly to dominate the people of Iraq in 12 hours, yet it took them five days to assist the people devastated by huricane [sic] Katrina. Racism and profits were key to their priorities. Exxon, by the way, made $9 Billion in profits this last quarter--their highest proft [sic] margin ever. Thanks to the students of WCCC and other poor and working class people who are recruited to fight and die for EXXON and other corporations who [sic] earning megaprofits from their imperialist plunders. If you want to count the number of deaths based on political systems, you can begin with the more than a million children who have died in Iraq from U.S.-imposed sanctions and war. Or the million African American people who died from lack of access to healthcare in the US over the last 10 years.

I will continue to expose your right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like your [sic] won't dare show their face [sic] on a college campus. Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people's needs--such freedom fighters can be counted throughout American history and they certainly will be counted again.
Mike Adams rather joyously romps through the rich hunting-grounds of the English professor's illiteracy. Unfortunately it is not confined to this email, and Adam's column is both funny and sad. WCCC is holding a meeting about the professor's status. I hope that if the professor is dismissed it is on grounds of professional incompetence rather than his political statement.

What struck me was the professor's determination to drive such events off the campus, his determined aversion to the truth and his rage against this particular student. Advocating fragging is of course advocating a crime, but I think this is too vague to qualify as incitement to criminal activity. I hold to a strict constitutional interpretation of the First Amendment on the order of Brandenburg v. Ohio. The ACLU on the subject (note that they misspell "Brandenburg"):
Finally, in 1969, in Brandenberg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court struck down the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member, and established a new standard: Speech can be suppressed only if it is intended, and likely to produce, "imminent lawless action." Otherwise, even speech that advocates violence is protected. The Brandenberg standard prevails today.
I want to point out that Marxists ardently disagree with these principles and their philosophy has made deep inroads in American higher education. Marxisim, IMO, is a cult. It requires its members to believe in lies, includes the idea that anyone who counters their lies is an enemy of the people, and advocates that such enemies should be suppressed or destroyed. The professor of bad English seems to fall within that category.

Brandenburg V Ohio:
Held: Since the statute, by its words and as applied, purports to punish mere advocacy and to forbid, on pain of criminal punishment, assembly with others merely to advocate the described type of action, it falls within the condemnation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.
It's interesting that such Marxist professors always fall back on "academic freedom" and their constitutional freedoms when their jobs are at stake. They do not, however, believe that their student body should have the same rights. Marxism is a totalitarian philosophy that cannot allow for freedom of individual conscience, and the habits of thought Marxism engenders have been deeply corrosive to traditions of academic rights and constitutional freedoms. See, for example, Carl of No Oil For Pacifists highlighting the experience of an Army First Lieutenant attending Harvard Law School. She writes:
I never ask that my fellow liberals agree with me, just that they respect my sense of obligation and professional duty. But at Harvard, that's a tough sell. Here, the emphasis is on the individual--the "me", the "I," and the "mine." It is difficult to explain a group obligation to people who idolize the first person singular.

But the most difficult part of the recruiting period has been learning the limits of liberal tolerance. It has been uncomfortable to see that the lessons I learned from the traditional liberal platform appear not to apply to me.
True. They don't. In the view of such people, the Lieutenant is a "wrong-thinker", and should be eliminated. Given Marxism's historical record, this habit of thought should be taken seriously.

I have seen the figure of 100 million deaths from Communism before, but it may not be quite correct. One common feature among dictators is that they do not keep a tally of their victims. No credible historian denies that communist regimes have racked up an awesome death toll, regardless of the exact number. The communist and ex-communist regimes are sad edifices of mass graves, poverty, poor medical care and censorship.

For anyone who doubts this, I recommend reading Boxun, an alternative news source covering China. You can read it by using World Lingo's website translation service. Just type in www.boxun.com and read it for three weeks. Read about the corruption, the land grabs, the army, and the prosecutions. Read about the environmental collapse and the discrimination. Horrifying.

This is the truth that professors of bad English and unconstitutional Law cannot stand to confront. Having abandoned reality they must suppress all those who chose to live in it. They are few, but their habits of thought have gained a widespread credibility in American education. FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has been fighting a battle to stop the spread of profoundly unconstitutional restrictions upon speech and advocacy. I urge you all to read and support it, because we are on the verge of becoming Europe, which is on the verge of destruction.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Confirmation: 300 Humans Dead From Bird Flu In China

FAZ is reporting on a retirement party for a doctor, at which Dr. Mashato Tashiro (virologist) discussed the Boxun report and claimed to have gotten the same report from an undisclosed Chinese colleague during his visit to China for WHO. He accuses the Chinese government of engaging in a widespread coverup.

This thread in CurEvents contains commentary and a rough English translation of the article, as well as other relevant articles. China already has quarantine units set up for bird flu victims and announced sanctions on individuals and medical authorities who did not use them.

The chicken droppings are hitting the fan.

For you investors, companies which are highly dependent upon sales in China and Asia may experience much lower than expected sales in the the coming year. China is not succeeding in containing the virus and is going to resort to quarantine. The unofficial report (supposedly a Chinese government document) also states that human to human transmission appears to be occurring. The SARS crisis caused a big drop in sales in China.

I am also reminding you that Indonesian health care workers claim that they are getting infected from bird flu victims. This is moving toward H2H transmission. It is not pandemic yet, but it does appear highly likely that it will be.

Good Monday Morning!

I had to drive north this weekend to see my doctor, and a rough drive it was. For some reason, the Dark Gods of the Interstate Highway system in the north appear to have decided to shut down the highways in order to prepare for the holiday season. Perhaps they view it as their contribution to fuel conservation. 495 in DC was down to one lane. The horror!

But blogging will resume in this new location, as time permits. So far I am committed to cook several Thanksgiving dinnners. One is for some elderly neighbors of my mother up here. They have been having a very tough time of it. To make things worse, my place of employment gave me a cell phone. I tried to sneak out without it, but they caught me. I predict I will be spending considerable time on that small nefarious device.

While I was driving up, I listened to some radio coverage of a NASCAR event in Homestead. It turns out the cars did not run into each other but helicopters did. How surreal.

I listen to the radio a lot when I am driving. More on that later. For now, I'm off to experience medical treatment.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bemused Rage And All That

Over at Howard's (Oraculations) I found this excerpt from a complaint letter this morning. This is the best ever:
Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you do likewise, and cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver - any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief - although these feelings will quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps a small measure of bemused rage.
There's more over at Howard's, plus the link to the whole two-page letter. It is a classic. You know, letter-writing is an art form that should be revived!

Okay, enough digressions. I was over there because I thought Howard's post about interest rates was important and I wanted everyone to read it. Complete with charts like this:

Go read the post. When short term interest rates are higher than long term interest rates, it indicates something's wrong with the economy. I agree totally with Howard's remarks about the Fed having mismanaged this situation. Inflation is being caused by high oil prices, not by low interest rates. They created this bubble and now they are popping it quite recklessly. As always, it is the little guys who get worked over.

I also suggest you spend some time reading Mover Mike this weekend. Start with this post, in which he lists the budget excluding Social Security (right now SS is running a cash flow surplus, which is spent every year). We are on a tragically unsustainable path, and the tipping point doesn't come in 2040. It comes before 2020. Medicare is already running a deficit - more is being spent than is being taken in. This will continue to get worse every year. Sometime between 2015 and 2017 we will start paying out more in checks for Social Security than we take in from tax receipts.

But because Social Security taxes have been used as if it were an income tax, the effect on the budget will be quite significant by 2010 or so. Look at it this way. If we got in a 75 million dollar surplus, and then that switches to a 75 million dollar deficit, the net effect on the budget is to produce a 150 million dollar cash shortfall.

Congress has known about this forever. For example, look at page 7 of the 1998 Trustee's Summary:
What Are Key Dates in Long-Range OASI and DI Financing?
For the
next 15 years (through 2012) annual income to the OASI and DI Trust
Funds is projected, under the intermediate assumptions, to exceed outgo.
As the “baby-boom” generation reaches retirement age over the period
from 2010 to 2030, several important points will occur, as shown below.
• 2013 - First year OASDI outgo exceeds tax income
• 2019 - Year DI trust fund assets are exhausted
• 2021 - First year OASDI outgo exceeds tax plus interest income
• 2032 - Year combined OASDI trust funds’ assets are exhausted
• 2034 - Year OASI trust fund assets are exhausted
These key dates are 1 to 4 years later than those shown in the 1997 report,
due in large part to better actual and expected economic performance.
It is this - Medicare being negative and Social Security going negative - that dooms the budget and makes drastic change necessary. Anyone who has been deluded into believing that we do not need to change is due for a rough ride.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This Worries Me

I've been pondering this Jakarta Post article for a couple of days. According to it, multiple nurses have come down with flu-like symptoms after treating Indonesian bird flu patients:
The nurse from the Usada Insani Hospital in Tangerang was admitted to Sulianti Saroso Hospital for infectious diseases earlier this month. She and 10 others had been assigned to treat Ina Sholati, a bird flu patient, from the time she was admitted to the hospital until her death on Oct. 28.

Meanwhile, several nurses and doctors from a hospital in Central Jakarta raised concern for their own safety after treating a possible bird flu patient who died on Saturday.

"Some of the nurses who treated the patient had high fever and chills immediately after the patient was transferred to Sulianti Saroso Hospital on Friday," a nurse said.
"When we developed symptoms, we were all given Tamiflu, but later on the hospital wanted us to pay for it. Only after we protested and demanded free medicine did the hospital give us the medicine for free," another nurse told the Post.
I remember a story about a Vietnamese doctor who apparently contracted bird flu from a patient. However, this appears to be multiple incidents, and combined with the rest of the Indonesian reports, I think some worry is reasonable. The difference between Sulianti Saroso and the other hospital is that in the second hospital the nurses would not have had all the protective equipment. This may explain why Indonesia announced it was doubling the number of hospitals designated to care for bird flu victims.

Read the whole article. The Indonesian authorities don't want to provide Tamiflu unless the patient is confirmed. Since most patients are being confirmed after they are dead, such a procedure would hardly help the doctors and nurses who had treated the patient.

In the meantime, China has resurrected its temperature-screening machines:
In a related development, the country's quarantine authorities issued an urgent circular ordering inspectors at ports of entry and exit to step up efforts to prevent human infection of bird flu.

The circular said temperature- screening machines must be used at border crossings and passengers must fill out health-declaration cards.
No matter what WHO says about no human-to-human H5N1, several Asian countries seem to believe that it is either happening or on the verge of happening.

I Say We Fight

A book has been published containing a compilation of Bin Laden's demands:
Osama bin Laden wants the United States to convert to Islam, ditch its constitution, abolish banks, jail homosexuals and sign the Kyoto climate change treaty.

The first complete collection of the Saudi's statements published today portrays a world in which Islam's enemies will take the first steps towards salvation by embracing the "religion of all the Prophets".

Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden is billed as the first accurate compendium of the terrorist leader's words, threats and ruminations from 1994 to 2004.
When I have a bad day at work ("Yes, you do have to comply with Truth-In-Lending! I don't care what your bank president told you!" - "Congress passed the Homeowner's Equity Protection Act. I did not make this up!") I think abolishing banks might be a good step. Our own Supreme Court seems to be doing an excellent job of ditching our constitution.

But there's no way we are going to jail homosexuals. I personally think it's worth fighting to the death to remain in the last nation that hasn't signed the Kyoto climate change treaty.

I've read a lot of the original interviews, btw, and he really did want those things. So I say we fight back with pumpkin guns. Nothing could be more American. They have no chance as long as we don't get wimpy. I mean, consider the world of Bin Laden, and then consider the land of the pumpkin gun. Which do you want to live in?

Telling It Like It Is

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred point out the flipside to the rather dire (but truthful!) commentary I wrote this morning on our fiscal situation. We got in this fix because we are letting this nation run on political-spin autopilot. We will get out by attending to our own business, which is the business of the nation. As SC&A writes:
In The Paris Riots And American Politics: Which Is The Hotter Fire?, we posited that positive participation in society is what built and grew this nation, and that we are seeing less and less of that nowadays. We also said that it is clear that the needs of the individual have trumped the needs of the community. The community owes the individual- and the individual owes nothing back. In fact, in the topsy turvey world we live in, the individual is expected to demand from society, so that he or she might be recognized or fulfilled.
We are letting ourselves be dominated by the partisan and political interests. Well, this is a democratic country, but that doesn't mean it has to be a foolish one. First we should take care of the general welfare, and then we can worry about taking care of specific needs.

Democratic voters don't want to end up in a situation in which we have to choose whether to educate our children or let Granny die. Republican voters don't want to end up in that situation either. If there is one screamingly obvious fact, it is that the mechanics of federal politics have not served the nation well in the last few decades. Politicians at the federal level have failed to grapple with the basics even while they have staged gripping melodramas centered around less important issues.

We are like a family squabbling about whether the heat in the car should be turned up or down, even while the car is careening off the highway and straight toward the cliff.

No reasonable person who understands what is happening is happy with our current political setup. Carl isn't. Howard is in a state of snarling wrath with both parties. The Anchoress is correctly pointing out that the press is a major factor in the problem. Pedro dislikes the ridiculous attempt to spin every event and refuse to examine any individual issue, and he is whacks away at both sides. Minh-Duc is worried about our fiscal irresponsibility and calls for classic liberalism internationally. Our politicians with character are unhappy as well. If you will read the USA Today article about fiscal concerns, you will see that politicians from both sides of the fence are extremely concerned and trying to address matters.

I have deliberately left those on the left off the list above because those on the right can easily see their dissatisfaction as arising from being out of power. But there is plenty to be concerned about in our national life no matter where on the political spectrum you stand. We are not acting responsibly. We need to concentrate on politicians who will act responsibly, and let them know that if they don't they are gone.

At this point, I can't quite fathom people who aren't independent voters.

Paying The Country's Mortgage

Good morning! I'm about to ruin it, with much regret.

This post is inspired by the news that Bernanke's nomination to the top Fed post was approved yesterday by the Senate's Banking Committee. The full Senate still must vote, but Ben Bernanke will become the next Fed Chair when Greenspan retires at the end of January.

Somehow, I'm sure no one asked him the question I am about to ask you: When are you going to bring your delinquent mortgage current? Consider me the loan officer. The bank's loan committee has met to discuss your case. Not only we will advance you no more money, it's time for you to figure out how to begin to pay down your debt with us.

See USA Today's article about the fiscal crisis (which is real and immense):
The comptroller general of the United States is explaining over eggs how the nation's finances are going to hell.

"We face a demographic tsunami" that "will never recede," David Walker tells a group of reporters. He runs through a long list of fiscal challenges, led by the imminent retirement of the baby boomers, whose promised Medicare and Social Security benefits will swamp the federal budget in coming decades.
Without major spending cuts, tax increases or both, the national debt will grow more than $3 trillion through 2010, to $11.2 trillion — nearly $38,000 for every man, woman and child. The interest alone would cost $561 billion in 2010, the same as the Pentagon.
Okay, let's look at your finances in 2020. One of your parents will have retired, but one of your brothers will help you pay for them. So that's three of you paying for one retiree. How much do you want your parent to receive a month? $1, 500? That's not a great living, but you each need to pay $500.00 a month to accomplish that.

You also need to plan to pay for the interest on the national debt, which we will assume (ha, ha) goes no higher than the projected $38,000 in 2010 per each person alive. You and your husband have two children, so that's four. I don't think you can expect Granny to pay on $1,500 a month, so that's five. Include your brother, so that's six people. Six X $38,000 = $228,000.

Now we want to be reasonable about this, so we'll give you a good APR of 5%. The monthly interest rate will be 5%/12, or .00416667. .00416668 X $228,000 = $950.00 a month in interest. $950/3 = $316.67 for each of you three working. So between Granny's Social Security and the national debt, you each need to be able to pay $500 + $316.67 or $816.67 monthly. But we haven't addressed the rest of the cost of government, or Medicare, or your state taxes. We haven't addressed the cost of federal and state retirees, and their medical and retirement benefits. We haven't addressed paying for national defense.

But what we do know is that you and your husband need to come up with more than $1,600 paid directly to the government each month before you can begin to pay your mortage to us. We also presume that you will feel committed to buying food and clothing for your children and medical insurance. And that's why we, the loan comittee of your friendly national bank, have concluded that you are flat broke, busted, indigent and headed for the poorhouse. Believe me, we used the most favorable assumptions possible (unrealistically favorable) in coming to this conclusion.

It is with great regret that we must inform you that we expect you to sell your house and clear any other miscellaneous debt with us. We would prefer not to be forced to start foreclosure proceedings, but we must remind you that the note you signed allows us to add any legal costs incurred to recover debt to your original mortgage.

Have a nice day. We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Choke, Gasp, Cough

I hurt myself laughing over this one. You have been warned:
The FBI is opening an internal investigation into the fight between Chicago Bears offensive linemen Olin Kreutz and Fred Miller at its shooting range in the Chicago area, Special Agent Richard Kolko said Wednesday.
An FBI official said several Bears were invited to take target practice. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the internal investigation, said it is common for FBI field offices to invite community groups to shooting ranges.

The official said the fight took place after the shooting session, during a barbecue for FBI employees and the players. He confirmed that alcohol was consumed during the barbecue, but insisted there was no drinking during the target practice.
HAW, HAW, HAW! Let's not get petty here. What's a broken jaw among friends?

Are Book Sales Necessary?

If you haven't heard of MoDo's book "Are Men Necessary?", Tommy of Striving For Average has a nice explanation - complete with stills!

In any case, Drudge is reporting that the sales are, ahem, somewhat disappointing:

You've got to figure that this is hardly going to be a big holiday seller, either. Women certainly aren't going to buy it for their boyfriends or husbands. If they wanted to get rid of their boyfriends or husbands, they just wouldn't buy them a Christmas present. Call me crazy, but I don't think you'll find many men buying this book for their wives or girlfriends either.

So I figure MoDo is already working on the outline for her next book:
Chapter 1: Men, those scum, don't work enough to have disposable income to purchase great literature. Instead of working for a living, they prefer to watch NASCAR or women mud wrestling. Those SCUM!

Chapter 2: Men who do have enough disposable income to purchase great literature are so busy marrying their maids that they don't bother to read and enrich themselves culturally. What ignorant scum of the earth they are.

Chapter 3: How NASCAR-watching no-good men mooch off their hardworking wives so much that the poor women can't even buy a book.

Chapter 4: Why un-liberated women are so afraid of never getting married that they will not be seen reading a book entitled "Are Men Necessary?" in a bar. How this demonstrates their appalling shallowness.

Chapter 5: Why lesbians ignore the problems of their heterosexual sisters. What has become of the sisterhood?

Chapter 6: Why married women should be ashamed of themselves for selling out.

Chapter 7: Why authors who pander to their audience by writing mega-sellers are shallow egomaniacs.

Chapter 8: Is all this Bush's fault, or the Pope's? Can anyone tell the difference? They both have huge ravening egos and specialize in brutalizing women.
Etc. But what will the title be?

Bird Flu In China

China is now admitting that H5N1 antibodies have been found in the brother of the girl who died of mysterious pneumonia. Today they said they have three cases.

However, China has taken extreme measures such as roadblocks walling off provinces, so it seems likely that they think they have a serious problem on their hands.

Boxun is reporting that there have been over 300 fatalities from H5N1 in China. This does not seem that improbable. You can see a translation of the Boxun report (which is not officially confirmed, but does seem credible), here at iflu. This is supposed to be a copy of the official report, and according to it in several areas human-to-human transmission was seen.

Boxun is an unofficial news source that frequently handles leaks, etc. It has been reliable before, but that doesn't mean that the linked account is correct now.

It is, however, not credible that China is now seeing its first human cases ever of bird flu.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Cotillion Is Up!

I'm down...

But fortunately the Cotillion is up, and this week it is hosted by Stefania of Free Thoughts.

With Guns Blazing, We Shoot At The Shadow

The Anchoress is in a rare state today. She seems to be pushed to the wall by the continuous stream of outright lies in the press. She links to a White House release debunking a NY Times editorial, observing that the corrections are good, but the government shouldn't have to fact-check a major paper this way.

How major is the NY Times? I think it is on a greased slide to richly-deserved oblivion. The paper simply does not blush when caught printing egregious distortions, twisting, censoring, or simply inventing an individual's words, and outright lies. Who can trust it? There are good reporters at the NY Times, but who has time to figure out which ones are making it up and which ones are genuine journalists?

Nat Hentoff, (btw, part of TheFire.Org's board), has harshly and justly rebuked the NY Times and particularly its editorial writers:
Editorials in The New York Times are the plenary voice of that newspaper. Accordingly, editorial writers should be as accountable as the Times' reporters—when the editorial sages ignore the facts in a story and deeply sully someone's reputation.
Hentoff went on to expose distortions written in editorials about two particular federal nominees (Pickering and Brown), and closed with this question:
Several times, I left detailed messages for Gail Collins at the Times, giving her the true facts of Pickering's record—as Times reporters had found—but I never received an answer. Dan Okrent, the Times' ombudsman, told me he would write about this journalistic malfeasance, but he hasn't.

Will Dan Okrent's successor, Barney Calame, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, dare to call to account the writer of the April 28 editorial scandalizing Janice Rogers Brown—and will he ask Gail Collins if she deigns to have a fact checker looking at the editorials she sends out as the voice of the Times?
Well, we now know that nothing has changed, Nat.

Donald Luskin has done a good job of documenting Krugman's extraordinary compilation of untruths, although a bad job of extracting public corrections for them. But what can you do if the editorial staff of a paper is so devoid of a commitment to truth that it feels no shame about being caught in the worst sort of journalistic malfeasance? They wouldn't recognize a journalistic principle if it were caught gnawing on their legs - in fact, they'd have to resort to someone like Nat Hentoff to identify the critter - (more fact checking, btw, than they do on individuals about whom they write and who have authored articles the Gray Lady has published).

Mudville Gazette has an excellent compilation of the NY Times' compulsive need to make American servicemen and women say what the editors think they should say rather than what they do say:
...I've seen numerous examples of such behavior on the part of the New York Times over the past several months. All involve selective quoting, misquoting, or simply claiming a GI said something without actually quoting them at all. Most range in repugnance from mildly annoying to grossly reprehensible - but in what I believe is the worst case they appear to attempt to frame a soldier for murder.

Let's look back on a few examples of New York Times attacks on American GIs, shall we?
I heartily recommend it. An editor inserting words into Captain Phil Carter's piece was one of the more egregious cases. It doesn't get much worse than that.

Now, perhaps that will cast some light upon Gail Collin's claim that they just don't get many pro-Bush letters to the editor:
"The terrible fact is," she said, "we don't get many pro-Bush letters to the editor. When we do, we try to publish them."

Acknowledging the obvious -- Times letter-writers "are not a perfect cross-section of the American public" -- she urged her mostly female, mostly senior, mostly Republican audience to help her out next time President Bush gives a State of the Union speech.

"As soon as it's over, go to your e-mail and send us a two-paragraph, pithy letter, saying what a great speech that was. And your chances of being published will be really, really, really good. Our letters editor really looks for those kinds of letters and he doesn't get nearly enough of them."
I doubt that they will publish them unedited. The NY Times, as Hentoff wrote with such indignation, appears now to write articles based on political handouts. Radio Equalizer has the report on this weekend's Air America fiasco. See also TimesWatch.

I look at the NY Times as if it were an aging relative with dementia. There's nothing to be done with this paper but shuffle it quietly aside into a long term care facility. No one can trust what it is written in its pages. All the Gray Lady has to look forward to is a complimentary elegy at her funeral which tactfully ignores the misdeeds of her declining years.

Who Is Speaking Here?

Who is writing this?
Last week's suicide attacks against innocent civilians in Amman shocked us all. It is unclear what message the suicide bombers were conveying and there is no logical cause justifying such insane acts.
Muslims and Arabs should not only have better condemned the terrorist acts carried out everywhere around the world, but also should move to isolate the destructive, invented beliefs promoted by a group of insane people and carried out in the name of defending Islam.
Serious action should include preparing plans to cripple these people and their freedom of movement, to impede their receiving shelter, to draw plans to cut them off from their financial sources and to deny them the capabilities to recruit people.
No, it's not George Bush!

Clothed In Strength And Dignity

Zatera Ul quotes Proverbs 31. Here is the ASV version. I wanted to quote the whole thing, because it begins with the question of what a male ruler should do, and ends in a long recommendation to marry the right woman. To my mind, this juxtaposition is hilarious, yet true:
The words of king Lemuel; the oracle which his mother taught him.

2What, my son? and what, O son of my womb?

And what, O son of my vows?

3Give not thy strength unto women,

Nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine;

Nor for princes to say, Where is strong drink?

5Lest they drink, and forget the law,

And pervert the justice due to any that is afflicted.

6Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish,

And wine unto the bitter in soul:

7Let him drink, and forget his poverty,

And remember his misery no more.

8Open thy mouth for the dumb,

In the cause of all such as are left desolate.

9Open thy mouth, judge righteously,

And minister justice to the poor and needy.

10A worthy woman who can find?

For her price is far above rubies.

11The heart of her husband trusteth in her,

And he shall have no lack of gain.

12She doeth him good and not evil

All the days of her life.

13She seeketh wool and flax,

And worketh willingly with her hands.

14She is like the merchant-ships;

She bringeth her bread from afar.

15She riseth also while it is yet night,

And giveth food to her household,

And their task to her maidens.

16She considereth a field, and buyeth it;

With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17She girdeth her loins with strength,

And maketh strong her arms.

18She perceiveth that her merchandise is profitable:

Her lamp goeth not out by night.

19She layeth her hands to the distaff,

And her hands hold the spindle.

20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;

Yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of the snow for her household;

For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22She maketh for herself carpets of tapestry;

Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates,

When he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24She maketh linen garments and selleth them,

And delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25Strength and dignity are her clothing;

And she laugheth at the time to come.

26She openeth her mouth with wisdom;

And the law of kindness is on her tongue.

27She looketh well to the ways of her household,

And eateth not the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up, and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying:

29Many daughters have done worthily,

But thou excellest them all.

30Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain;

But a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised.

31Give her of the fruit of her hands;

And let her works praise her in the gates.
This vision of women as strong, industrious, directing businesses and investing money, beneficient, wise, unafraid and fundamentally ordering life is the vision of the matriarchy joined with the patriarchy. Perhaps MoDo is so hysterical about the Pope because this single passage from the Bible describes the life of most the women I know far better than all the scissors-carrying ranting neurotic victimhood pushers of the modern world.

Dr. Sanity is discussing Jimmy Carter in this post, but what she says perfectly describes a lot of modern life:
Without insight or self-awareness; without a willingness to take personal responsibility, or expect it of others; without the integrity to act in the real world to support what you believe--instead of adhering to some absolute ideal world that doesn't exist--you can expect little else but chaos and disaster in your sad, difficult life.

But when this level of cluelessness and passive malevolence is exhibited by prominent ex-presidents; as well as the leaders of a major political party and its hysterical minions--well, its potential destructiveness to the entire nation is enormous.
We cannot remake the world to fit our own imaginations and yet be active and purposeful in it, and both men and women are clothed in strength and dignity when we look at what actually is and figure out how to improve on it.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred comment the mothers of the rioters being blamed for the riots. A society that doesn't allow strong women can't expect much from them. You don't become strong by being restricted and abused, and you don't become strong by claiming that you are restricted and abused and failing to defend those women who are restricted and abused.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Because It's Fun

Most of those teenagers are burning cars (and schools, and buses) in France because it's fun.

Seriously. When you are a young male, the idea of running through the streets and causing explosions seems like a wonderful thing. I know perfectly well that my brothers would have done this, if they had had a similar opportunity and if my father hadn't been around (which he was - seriously). I am drawing a curtain of discretion over Chief No-Nag's early life.

It's dark. The sirens wail. The adrenalin flows. The fires roar up. You feel magnificent, powerful, adult and alive. Almost all of those kids aren't out there protesting anything. They are out there having the time of their lives.

Carl, Raskolnikov will explain it to you. It's fun. It may be stupid, true. But it feels great.

Update: And Howard, as in "Young guys just love to fight". Exactly. We really are a wimpy, feminized culture if we think a 15 year-old male needs a reason to do this. What the 15 year-old needs is a reason not to do this, and it doesn't come easy.

What MoDo Doesn't Know

For example, suppose you should hear water running down inside your wall. See, if you didn't have a man around, you'd have to do something about that.

But because you do have a man around, you just toss a towel on the floor to soak up the puddle. Then you amble off and tell him about the new and interesting thing your house is doing. Then you go back to typing on the computer, occasionally looking up with a concerned and sympathetic expression when the swearing gets violent.

Yes, Maureen, Men Are Necessary. Men Are Wonderful!

Legal Usury

ARGGHH. A lot of those people paying 30% on their credit cards are doing so because national banks are exempted from state usury laws other than those of their home state. Now the FDIC has submitted a proposed rule that would give state-chartered banks the same rights. Here it is - read it and weep:
In December 2004, the Financial Services Roundtable submitted a petition asking the FDIC to adopt rules that would provide parity between state banks and national banks in all interstate operations and activities. Specifically, the Roundtable asked that the rules provide that a state bank may operate interstate under the law and regulations of the bank's home state (i.e., its chartering state) to the same extent that a national bank operates interstate under the National Bank Act (NBA) and the OCC's rules. The Roundtable also requested that the rules implement section 27 of the FDI Act in such a way as to parallel the rules issued by the OCC and the OTS regarding preemption of state usury laws for national banks and federal thrifts operating interstate.

In response to that petition, the FDIC Board of Directors approved the attached notice of proposed rulemaking at its October 6, 2005, meeting. The proposed rules would implement section 24(j) of the FDI Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1831a(j), which describes, generally, which state laws apply to branches of out-of-state, state-chartered banks and would also implement section 27 of the FDI Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1831d, which generally describes the interest rates that state banks may charge.
This was probably inevitable, but it is not a good thing for debtors. It's inevitable because the FDIC fears losing many of its chartered banks. It's a bad thing for debtors because it will cut down the choices of bank available to them (you'll see even more consolidation in small banks), and there will be just as little restriction on the state-chartered banks as the national banks.

Back in 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that national banks were truly national, and governed only by the rules of their home state. This caused banks (especially credit-card issuers) to set up shop in states which had no effective limits, which forced states to compete for jobs and tax revenue by failing to institute or repealing such laws.

For a pretty simple explanation, see this article on BankRates.com:
There are 26 states that have no limit on what bank credit card issuers can charge for interest rates, according to the American Bankers Association. Issuers in 27 states have no limit on what they can charge for annual fees.

California, Delaware, South Dakota and Tennessee are among the states offering the least protection. These four states currently have no maximums on the following:

· delinquency fees
· cash advance fees
· over-the-limit fees
· transaction fees
· stop payment fees
· ATM fees
· mandatory grace period
Many community banks will now have a real incentive to sell out and become branches of banks chartered in such states. There are cards out there that will boot your rate up to something like 30% even if you have always paid on time, if your credit report shows that you are becoming a risk. So - take out a loan for college, make your payments perfectly, make your credit card payments perfectly - and you still can get a nice notice that your interest rate is now 25 or 30%. Not only that, but some banks now charge high fees just to make a payment on your credit card balance over the phone.

Honestly, half the politicians in Congress should be kicked right out of DC by a throng of outraged consumers. They are not doing their job. This is hurting the country and it needs to stop. At this point Congress should enact some limits, and should warn these companies that things will get worse if they don't stop gouging.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In Praise Of Male Virtue And The Judeo-Christian Patriarchy

I have been pondering over what I want to say here for the last several days, and I'm dubious about my ability to explain my ideas regarding the root cause for the rioting in France (which is also occurring to a lesser extent in Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark).

But I'm not so dubious that I'm not going to try. I am completely fed up with the self-delusive analysis of the riots in the international and US press. The blogging world is doing a better job of trying to come to terms with what is happening in Europe, but in most cases even the bloggers are still ignoring some basic facts about human nature.

While I disagree absolutely with Hal Lindsay's claim in this article that the rioting is rooted in Islamicism (it is very similar to the race riots in the US cities in the 60's), at least Lindsay is pointing out that Europe is demonstrating a huge blind spot:
According to the mainstream media, the rioters are "disaffected youths" who feel "alienated" from French society. The mainstream fiction is that they are rioting because of high unemployment and unfavorable social conditions.
So, why are the Europeans (and the mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic) blaming themselves and giving Islam a pass? It's simple. If it is the government's fault, there is some hope of fixing the problem. At the minimum, it creates the illusion of empowering the people, at least temporarily.

If it is the government's fault, the people can always change governments. But if it is part of a coming Islamic war for what's been dubbed "Eurabia" – well, that is just too terrible a thought to consider.
Fortunately, we don't need to consider Islamic war in this particular case. At least one-third of the rioters in France aren't even Muslims. More than half aren't acting under any delusion that they are fighting for Islam. They are gangsters who rob, sell drugs, beat and rape in their own neighborhoods and wanna-bes aspiring to be fearsome and powerful. This is just an exporting of that behavior to the broader society. It's inevitable that some demagogic Islamicists will try to claim the disturbances as a means of increasing their power, but that doesn't change the fact that these claims are idiotic.

Male teenagers are roaming through the streets in France throwing firebombs and creating havoc, which is then exploited by gangs which follow the disturbances and try to loot stores and the like. The reason is that these young males have grown up in a demasculinized sub-society inside a larger society which absolutely rejects all the traditional male virtues. It's time for everyone to sit down and admit that what we are seeing in Europe is the default setting for normal male teenagers in an anarchic society.

The instinctive drives which govern men and women who have not been taught to control their instincts differ.

Women are inherently partisan; they will fight to the last breath to defend their children and the people they regard as their own. For women, most rules are adaptable and conformable to the needs of the particular individuals involved. Women seek the best solutions for each individual. This is a great virtue of its own, because it allows women to maximize the individual potential of those in their care. But this virtue is not enough to create an orderly and functional society unless the society itself also recognizes, rewards and establishes the basic male virtues.

Men are inherently group-oriented. They seek participation and recognition in a larger male society, adopt the rules of that society as their own, and apply those rules uniformly. Men are instinctively fair, which is something that women are not. Women are instinctively loyal to individuals, whereas men are instinctively loyal to the overall group. Men will instinctively risk their lives to defend the group or to advance its welfare.

Now we come to the patriarchal structure in societies (and religions). At its best, a patriarchy will set forth a system of external, objective principles. At their best, men will be loyal to those principles even if the application of them in any circumstance is harmful to their own interests, because men can extend the instinctive drive to be loyal to the entire group into a loyalty to external, objective principles. Women have no such fundamental orientation. We can learn it, but we do not feel it. The implication is that the male habit of mind creates overall peace and order in a society. It is for this reason that the Abrahamic religions are patriarchal, and they are fundamentally patriarchal.

Now, it is possible for a patriarchal system to be abysmal in practice. The way the system works out depends on the principles that such a system enshrines. If they are good, the society will be honorable and productive. If they are bad, you get something like the Nazi philosophy or Islamic terrorism (which is a basic violation of Islam, not a logical extension of it).

But if you have no patriarchy - no externalized system of principles and rules deriving from those principles - what you get is a situation in which any young men who grow up without a strong family structure will instinctively form and join gangs. It will be from the gang that they will receive male approval and affirmation they instinctively seek. That is what you see in Europe. The youth crime rate in all of Europe is escalating. You have 12, 13 and 14 year-olds in the UK mugging people in broad daylight on the streets, and in most cases it is not the Muslims who are doing it.

Socialist Europe is a demasculinized, a-patriarchal, post-moral society. It does not instill strong objective moral rules. It does not call males to duty and it does not recognize them for living virtuous lives. This leaves them with only the pursuit of status through economic success, so wherever and whenever economic success becomes impossible for a segment of the population, you will see the outbreak of this gang behavior among the young males.

Furthermore, Europe no longer respects male virtues at all. You see such deranged expressions of contempt for males such as the Nordic drive to prohibit men from urinating while standing up and the German laws making it illegal for men to test their children to see if they are indeed their children. Men, and their inherent virtues, are denigrated and mocked by the leading edge of European social thought. But all of modern western liberal civilization is founded on the patriarchal principle of objective standards that apply to all, equally. This is a moral conception, and the liberal values of western society cannot endure without it. It is also a basically male view of the world.

Catholicism, most forms of Christianity, rabbinical Judaism and Buddhism are all based upon a fusion of the fundamental male and female world views. These systems place the moral responsibility to avoid doing harm and to help others as far as possible squarely on the shoulders of each individual. They also largely eschew active punishment in favor of social disapproval.

Taking one specific example, Jesus' demand that sinners not be punished by those who sin themselves "let he who is without sin throw the first stone" is often quoted, but the post-moral segment western society can not stand to remember the following "Now go, and sin no more". The idea is that it is a Christian duty both to avoid hypocritical enforcement of moral rules and to reprove bad behavior. Social disapproval replaces stones, but one can also be justly confronted with one's own hypocrisy in speaking of rules to which one does not adhere. Moral righteousness is an admired concept, and competing for public admiration, trust and respect largely replaces economic or physical competition.

That is what these religions have brought to society, but as religions they also reinforce the absolute standards with either the idea that God will accept or reject an individual based on the individual's behavior, or the idea that the individual's fate is determined throughout a karmic cycle by his or her own actions. It gets more theologically complicated, of course, but that is the essence. In these conceptions of the universe, behavior (process) replaces achievement (status) as the ultimate goal. This is a basic restating of the human condition with huge implications for society.

Islam can be taught (and is) in this way, but it also has an almost Calvinist/Puritanical streak of the theology of the elect in it. That can be over-emphasized to produce a fusion of achievement as a recognition of good behavior, which then nullifies half the religion and returns the individual to the idea that he or she must be part of a literal war of physical supremacy.

The Judeo-Christian/Buddhist fusion of the male and female elevates the patriarchal concept of universal rules even while it allows the matriarchal maximum of individual scope and redemption. The concept of moral redemption allows an individual to improve his or her standing in society by changing behavior. It is a very strong and vibrant formulation of an idea about what society ought to be, and the post-moral west has nothing to offer in its place which would serve the same function. Consider Pope John Paul II's appeal to the young of the west. Consider Pope Benedict XVII's reception in Germany, and you will see that the vacuum at the heart of the post-moral west is sensed by the young of our society.

Now the rather sick joke on the multiculturalists of Europe is that only a society which at least upholds the fundamental patriarchal virtue of external, universal and objective standards for behavior can be truly multicultural. Without those objective standards by which to judge each individual, society must revert to tribalism. The trivial differences of dress, language, music, wealth and cultural habits become the basis for status. We substitute recognition of the ephemeral effect for the fundamental cause, and society's judgements become skewed and irrational. That is, of course, promptly followed by individual examples of skewed and irrational behavior.

As for the predictions of impending Islamic war throughout Europe, Islamicism in most of the western countries is more likely to take root as an antidote against the moral aimlessness of the west, the societal breakdown in the public housing ghettoes of the European countries combined with the socialism that funds criminal activity, and the accompanying crime and disorder. It could then become a problem. France appears to be doomed, because it has both abandoned the patriarchal idea of absolute standards and is, for historical reasons, still in love with violent demonstrations and Bastille Day. Substituting the idea of economic rights for the idea of human rights is suicide when combined with a broadly-based admiration for storming the barricades in response to economic injustice and lopping off the heads of the aristocrats. The French establishment has failed to realize that it is now the aristocratic class.

The Nordic countries are probably small enough to reform themselves as uni-cultural societies. See Enough! Poland has decided to be itself, whatever that will take, and will probably be all right as long as Russia can control itself. The Netherlands will see street fighting between the foreign minorities and the general population. The general population will win. Belgium is not likely to survive in its current form. Germany has decided that Ordnung Muss Sein, and is cautiously rejecting French-style socialism, expelling revolutionaries, instituting workfare and arresting rioters while glumly sitting around and wondering what to do now that invading other countries (the traditional German response to unemployment problems) appears to be out of the question.

Italy and Spain will address the problem with brutality if and when they find it necessary; both of these countries have a strong streak of communo-fascism remaining in their political fabric. The problem is that they will not find it necessary until brutality will be required, and they will not defend the Jews in the run-up to a confrontation. Australia cannot afford to be confused because it is staring straight into the expansionist eyes of a billion-odd Chinese, so it will stamp out social disorder without developing any untoward guilty feelings about the matter. The UK is still standing around waiting to be introduced to the problem. In true English fashion, it will neither get religion or admit that it has been shot in the gut. Perhaps British stoicism will do the trick once again. Perhaps not.

However, every one of these countries will face the problem of redefining its own national identity. The post-moral era is over. It may be replaced with a burgerliche type of isolationism in the more northern countries, but the southern countries are likely to veer right while insisting publicly that they are still left. The near-psychosis that will result does not bode well for Europe's future. A matriarchy cannot defend itself, but a patriarchy without the underpinning of universal standards usually becomes harshly repressive.

Of those bloggers I link, The Anchoress, Ilona of True Grit and Esther of Outside The Blogway are superb examples of women who represent the Judeo-Christian fusion of the female idea of caring for the individual and the male idea of external and objective principles. Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, Jimmie of The Sundries Shack and Bird's Eye View are examples of the male side of the same coin.

Dr. Sanity and Beth of My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy are excellent examples of modern, fully liberated women who embrace the ideas of rationality and universal standards, thus proving that one need not be a MoDo to be a liberated woman. (Sorry! Gindy is a liberated male - but he does embrace rationality and universal standards. According to MoDo, Gindy does not exist!) Nato (atheist, and proud of it) and Minh-Duc (Buddhist, and proud of it) are examples of why a republic based on Jeffersonian principles is, in reality, inclusive of a broad range of beliefs but cannot accommodate a wide range of behaviors.

Howard of Oraculations, Darcey of Dust My Broom, Pedro The Quietist and Kevin of Strategic Revolution are an example of stubborn males upholding male virtues in the face of a rising tide of irrationality. Gindy can go here too.

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