Monday, April 29, 2002

I want to add my voice to subterranean chorus about a significant event in Iran. A respected cleric proclaims a fatwa on the Palestinian suicide bombers. This piece also proposes that the Iranian regime is getting desperate to retain control of the people. A new and secular revolution may be brewing. And to all this the Western press is strangely oblivious.

And maybe it's time for the West to stop apologizing for being successful. Even many of that oppose the West want to have the benefits of Western culture.

Now it's time for Western culture to stand up again. Worries about imperialism, especially cultural imperialism, should be cast off. Global free trade isn't imperialistic; it's the spread of a natural right, economic freedom. Demanding that a country respect its people's basic rights isn't imperialistic, and neither is standing for an unfettered media. No one wants to bring back colonial empires.

Continuing in an Islamic theme today, Ralph Peters thinks the U.S. is backing the wrong horse in the Islamic culture wars. Forget that ancient Arabian nag and check out the future of Islam as it is developing in the non-Arabic world.

On the Bush-watch front, the once-independent Council of Economic Advisers has now become just another parrot for whatever the administration wants to say. In previous administrations it could be counted on to tell the truth based on actual data even if the White House chose to ignore its advice for political reasons. The current administration's policies are not only lacking in supporting data but are actually contradicted by reality. But ideologues can not be bothered by mere facts. Any real analyses produced by the CEA are internally ignored and only the "right answers" that the administration wants to hear come out. When it comes to tax cuts and privatized Social Security, this emperor must have quite a draft on his backside.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Yeah, Wall Street is just the place for all that Social Security money. At least we can be thankful that the market tanked and the financial scandals broke before this bad idea was implemented. Isn’t there some old saw about the greater the gain the greater the risk. How much Social Security money do we really want to risk?

At least Democrats would have serious moral qualms about doing business with a regime as brutal as this one. But when it comes to oil this administration will do a deal with the devil.

If the guy you're dating takes you to meet his sister who happens to have a new baby he may be up to something.

This explains a lot about not only Arab-Israeli conflicts but also the problems Islamic societies tend to have with modernization and Western culture in general.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Here's a major new component to the energy equation. There is evidence that some of the old oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico are being rather rapidly refilled from unknown, deeper deposits. What would it mean to global politics and economies if we were to find out that oil and gas was much more abundant than previously thought? Based on the existence of seeps that have been active over geologic time scales there has been a minority idea for some time (see Thomas Gold) that supplies of deep natural gas may be quite large but undiscovered. Now there appears to be petroleum seeps in the Gulf that have been active so long that unique forms of life have developed to thrive in them. This may launch a whole new look at our domestic reserves. As a sidebar it is also a testament to the adaptability of life. Not only can life exist without the sun at tremendous depths around hot smokers using sulfur compounds for energy, it can also do quite well using petroleum for energy.

Finally, cogent discussion of the cloning issue. In A SECULAR ARGUMENT AGAINST RESEARCH CLONING Charles Krauthammer lays out what are the real ethical problems of research cloning. While most people absolutely object to what he calls reproductive cloning, I don't. As long as the cloned embryo has an equivalent prospect of undamaged survival as an invitro-fertilization embryo it would be fine with me. I would draw the line at producing clones that had reduced chances for survival. Just as I would not embark on an invitro pregnancy that had a significant chance of not making it to term neither would I embark on a risky clone pregnancy. On the other hand I am not threatened by what would essentially be an identical twin. Krauthammer's argument hinges on intent. It may be ethical to use leftover embryos from IVF for research since they were created with the intent of impregnation. It may be ethical to limit how much one allows such an embryo to develop. (I would set the line at when a brain begins to develop.) But it is not ethical to manufacture differentiated embryos merely to dissect them for spare parts. If we go that far with an embryo it should have the right to live. The best solution would be to develop ways to get as quickly as possible from undifferentiated cells to useful tissue without creating a human individual along the way.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Kennewick Man has been a celebrity in my local community for some time now. Salon's Juno Gregory reviews Elaine Dewar's book about the first American's. Even if one were to disregard the fact that Kennewick Man is many thousand years older than nearby tribes, there is the problem that this area was pretty much uninhabited by any particular tribe. Typically tribes just passed through here while on the way to more hospitable destinations. (The Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers all merge here but the topology is predominantly sagebrush and sand.) No tribe makes an ancestral claim to the land that contains the Kennewick Man site. But as noted in the article that didn't prevent the Corps of Engineers from using him as bargaining chip with whatever tribe (in this case the Umatillas) they needed to mollify.

While the governments and political parties wrestle with pollution and global warming, "green gazelle" entrepreneurs are generating profits and conservation with pollution-mitigating technologies.

OK, I’ll bite. I held off as long as I could but I just can’t take this any more. This guy popped up on blogdex because he had an article that argued that Apple computers were evil. The fact that the MAC OS is built from a kernel derived from antecedent known as Darwin really set this guy off. What really toasts my biscuits is how mindless characters like this cast such a bad light on rational Christianity. It also gives me some sympathy for Muslims who are saddled with characters like bin Laden representing their faith to the world.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Another testament to how the media gets seduced by sufficiently smooth operators. Can we expect our news channels to not broadcast blatant campaign speeches by the current administration?

A real tempest is being stirred up by this book about childhood sexuality. It honestly points out what we all remember but find hard to acknowledge. Children are sexual, too. More. And yet more.

A reprise of an article about super-sensitized we have become about potential child pornography.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Joe Conason notices that the right wing doesn’t have the stomach for a fair fight. But we knew that along didn’t we?

Might it be their unwillingness to back down, as when Mr. Carville forced the Republican Party chairman to admit that he opposes campaign-finance reform? Or is it just their insistence on factual discourse, as when Mr. Begala instructed conservative host Tucker Carlson on the vastly greater number of Reagan administration aides indicted and convicted than in the supposedly corrupt Clinton administration?

John Ashcroft shows once again that he is ready to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

Hide and Sneak: Jonathan Chait on why W.'s "war budget" isn't about war at all. From TNR.

It’s truly amazing the fiduciary sins that can be effectively hidden in a good wartime budget. For some people this passes as moral. I must be slow because to me it is blatant dishonesty.

Let’s be clear. This guy is the real murderer of Palestinian youth. How many young lives must be sacrificed on the altar of a hopeless cause before the futility becomes clear? The most tragic thing is that not only is it not necessary but that there is a much better and proven way to succeed in this kind of conflict. Look at what a bunch of non-violent students did to the likes of Slobodan Milosevic. If the Palestinians could summon up the true moral courage to engage Israel with strategic non-violence an independent Palestine would be assured and peace just might break out.

We were warned about this guy when he was appointed. But usually it takes longer for the true colors to show.

I have to agree with the good professor on this. Maybe there are ways to improve the legislation that comes out of Congress. Pass me some more Open Source please.