Friday, May 19, 2006

Insanely great

Michael Totten, (via Instapundit), has a mind-boggling post about tackling the leaders of the Palestinian insanity in their dens. What would you say to Saeb Erekat if you had the chance, even though you were surrounded by heavies with eyes like dead sharks'? This is what Totten said:
"Why did the intifada end?” I said. The question didn’t phase him like it did Abu Laila.

“I don’t know,” he said. “And I don’t care. I’m just glad it’s over. Hopefully it ended out of an understanding that it was bad. I condemned every single attack.”

“What do you think was the biggest Palestinian mistake since the Oslo peace process began?” I said.

“We were unsuccessful in terms of transparency and accountability,” he said. “We could have done it. But we failed. That’s why Hamas won. We should have been tough on people who abused their offices.”

“What was the biggest Israeli mistake since Oslo?” I said.

“The motto of No Sacred Dates,” he said. “Each time they had a date-based obligation, they didn’t do it. They kept building settlements.”

“Why is a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank such a big problem for Palestinians?” I said. “Would you rather the Israelis stay?”
"The problem with unilateralism is the outcome of it,” he said. “The Israelis will get everything they want without negotiation.”
“I am against suicide bombing morally, not politically,” he said.

“How many Palestinians agree with you about that?” I said.

“Few,” he said. “Very few.” He said this inside the Palestinian Legislative Council within earshot of his colleagues, many of whom speak English and could hear him perfectly well. “We have to keep working,” he said and gently put his hand on my shoulder. “It is difficult in this environment.”

Just amazing. Why has no other news outlet brought out the true attitude of Fatah toward Hamas, the "sickness unto death" of the Palestinian "leadership"? It would conflict with their agenda now, wouldn't it? Can you imagine the Guardian or the New York Times printing such an interview? Maybe today the blogosphere came of age.

I hope no real geneticist notices my comment on this Gene Expression post.
I'm beginning to wonder whether failure to reproduce on the part of a specific organism with a particular genetic makeup really affects the survival of that behavioral complex at all, given the genetic complexity of behavioral syndromes and the multiple methods of producing the same phenotype using various combinations of genes. Homosexuality might be an example.

Oops. Looks like one did:
Stop wondering.
gcochran | Email | Homepage | 05.19.06 - 1:38 pm | #

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fallujah in Sao Paulo
Blair also links to an article about the violence in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I like the "activists concerned" tag. It's really the criminals who should be concerned. As a judge I used to appear in front of said to young thugs: "You think you've got a tough gang? I've got the biggest, toughest gang of all - the law. And you're about to learn how it feels to lose." The Brazilian police killed 115 people. I especially liked this bit:
Police did not identify any of those they killed, say where they were killed or in what circumstances, Sao Paulo's leading newspapers reported Wednesday.
Can you even imagine what would happen around here if even one gangster were killed under the same circumstances? Of course, I can't imagine what, for example, the Houston police would do if they had forty-one police killed by rampaging thugs. And I don't think I want to know.
Pub names

Tim Blair asks for weird pub names. My favorite: The Snark and Yeti. Or how about what I saw on the way in here, "I'm Feeling Lucky"?
Bigger, Better, Cheaper
Cheaper fares to Europe? I certainly hope so:
Singapore Airlines intends to configure its A380 interior to take around 500 passengers, although the plane - depending on airline requirements - can take up to 800 customers.
Also, fewer planes will be needed, which should make airports easier to get through, at least until traffic catches up. I'm going to enjoy the next few years.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Enrique Cuatro
Just finished reading a book about Henry 1V of Castile (1425-74). OK, I must admit when I took the book out of the Leon County Library I thought it was about Henry IV of Navarre, the Huguenot King of France who converted to Catholicism because "Paris is worth a mass". And I realized the danger of being confused with Henry IV of England, father of Prince Hal and all that. But that just goes to show you that when you least expect it, serendipity strikes. After all, if you expected it, it would hardly justify invoking the Princes of Serendip, would it? So anyway, I wound up with this Henry IV, also known as Enrique the Impotent. Yeek. But Townsend Miller's book is something of a tour de force. Enrique is in Miller's hands a most compelling if pathetic figure. And a major historical influence, right in there fighting in the conflicts between Castile and Aragon that led to the reign of Ferdinand (Fernando) and Isabella (Isabel). You remember them. The ones who gave a bit of money to equip three tiny ships that conquered the Western Ocean? And just in the same year conquered Granada, drove out the Muslims and, oh, yes, banished the Jews. Well, you gotta take the good with the bad. Under that Genoese guy, Cristobal Colon? Oh, sure we know him better as Christopher Columbus, the Western oppressive white male sexist pig. But to millions of Americanos he was the bringer of a few good things. Like the wheel. And alphabetic writing. And horses. And consciousness, if you believe Julian Jaynes. (And who doesn't, nowadays?) And civilization, unless you really think the Aztec way of life, featuring the ripping of hearts from tens of thousands of living sacrifices, was a GOOD THING??! And to top it all off, the descendants of Columbus's Spanish sponsors now get minority status in the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Talk about a winner!
Enrique tried his best, despite his obvious unfitness for kingliness and especially progenitizing. Here's a Miller sample:
For more than a tired and hapless man had died that winter night. Spain's Middle Ages themselves lay dead on those bare boards. An era, a world were over: the same chill dawn was coming in Segovia, and as young Isabel rose to greet it, as she drew her martened robe around her and leaned from her casement and watched the tall square towers grow gray, grow faintly pink, then as at last the sun burst forth above the snowy mountains and scattered gold and diamonds across the wakening city at her feet, a new day, too, was breaking for the kingdom, a day which was triumphantly to free it from the rue and fraction we have sought to chronicle and bring it on - healed, rectified and welded - to might, to majesty, to sway of half the globe, to unimaginable splendor.
But that is another story.

Oh good.
Diet hope - Food Yesterday, Food Tomorrow, Never Food Today?
I'm listening to the Glenn and Helen show about the Shangri-La Diet. It's pretty interesting. I had been looking for a copy of the book, almost bought it several times. But then I stumbled across this other, old, out-of-print book called The Eating Man's Diet, by Thomas Sharkey. Of course, being a man and having some experience with eating and hoping to continue eating for some time, I was fascinated. The idea is simple: eat every other day. Unlike in Alice in Wonderland, this is not a cruel delusion. You simply eat 900 calories or less one day, then the next day eat a "regular" set of meals, up to about 3000 calories. It's easy to follow. I'm in the tenth day now. Tomorrow morning I get to weigh myself. Woohoo! But I just love the "eating days". And I'm starting to get to the point where the "diet days" are not too bad. So we'll see. He says it takes about three weeks to become habituated to the schedule. He also has some interesting things to say about the psychology of dieting and how different breaking bad food habits is from stopping smoking or excessive drinking. I'm surprised he's never, as far as I can tell, written anything else.
The Sharkey book is from 1969. The most amazing thing is how little has changed. People were obsessed with dieting then, they have been for forty years and we're even fatter now, supposedly! Something's got to change. In the Seth Roberts podcast, he mentions that "ditto foods" or foods that taste exactly the same every time you eat them, are partly responsible for food cravings and "addictions". My only problem with his approach is that I don't want to drink a glass of sugar water and tablespoons of olive oil every day. I want a diet regime that allows me to eat whatever I want, but that changes the way I approach food so I don't want as much. That way, I can eat the best food and drink and enjoy myself, while not seeking absolution or nepenthe in massive amounts of calories.

Update: Lost three pounds in ten days! And that's with only five days of actual dieting. This could be good. Before too long I might even learn to cut back - just a little - on my calorie count on the eating days.
Puerto Rico - AGAIN??
Sometimes I wonder why I have to repeat things over and over before people finally admit how brilliant my thoughts are. Here on Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen puts out some less-than-brilliant (maybe lower-than-moronic would be more accurate) arguments on immigrants. I hate it when they don't differentiate between legal and illegal immigration in an argument about illegal immigration! And someone calls me a xenophobe. Hmmpf! (one of my favorite words). And some of my best friends are named Xeno. Luckily Steve Sailer and someone named Teller jump in with some of those embarrassing things called facts. They also must have the "how many times do I have to say this stuff?" feeling. I make a telling rejoinder:
Immigrants, and particularly illegal immigrants, which is what we're talking about, aren't "just people". They're a particular kind of people, with lower intelligence, less education, less comprehension of English and higher crime rates than the average American citizen. They also, by definition, have less respect for the American legal system. Besides, if they're such an asset, why doesn't Mexico do anything at all to get them to stay?
And I get this for my troubles:
Thank you for revealing yourself to be an ignorant xenophobe, thus saving the rest of us the bother of reading your nonsense.
So, scads and reams of unrebutted FACTS later, I haul out the heavy Puerto Rican artillery:
Puerto Rico offers a clear example of how "Latinos" fare in a US-style economic system. Over half the island is on USDA food stamps. They have not "assimilated". They are all US citizens, but have not accepted traditional American culture. Despite decades of tax breaks and huge taxpayer-funded assistance and massive money from tourism, they are in the same situation, relative to the mainland, that they have been in for years. Their per capita GDP is at about 35% of that on the mainland. Oh, and they have also had several opportunities to become independent and have rejected them all. Puerto Rico represents the future for any other parts of the US that become Hispanic-majority. Anyone who has eyes can see these facts. You have to be ignorant and viciously partisan to deny them.

I'm still waiting for someone to deny or rebut my contentions about Puerto Rico and cite some trenchant analysis or stunning countervailing data, thus destroying my analogy. I wonder why they haven't? You don't think maybe - Heavens! - I might actually be right??!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What I believe
This introduction to The Objective Standard summarizes it pretty well. And I acknowledge I have always had problems with the word "believe". Perhaps I should just say, this is what seems like common sense to me. A sample:
Altruism is not good for one’s life. If accepted and practiced consistently, it leads to death. This is what Jesus did. If accepted and practiced inconsistently, it retards one’s life and leads to guilt. This is what most altruists do. An altruist might not die from his morality—so long as he cheats on it—but nor will he live fully. Insofar as a person acts against the requirements of his life and happiness, he will not make the most of his life; he will not achieve the kind of happiness possible to Man.

Monday, May 15, 2006

He didn't!
Did David Cameron really say this:"We should be thinking not what is good for putting money in people's pockets but what is good for putting joy in people's hearts,"?

Yes, he did, in the Daily Telegraph. Here's more:
In the UK, the economist Richard Layard, New Labour's very own happiness guru, has succeeded in getting hard-nosed political operators to back his campaign. His recent call for the Government to train 10,000 more therapists to help us become happy, resonates with politicians who are desperately short of ideas. Back in the 1940s and '50s, the big idea was the Welfare State. Today it is the Happy State. Stalin, who called himself the "constructor of happiness" would approve.

Of course, in order to make everyone happy, the state has to have a definition of happiness that applies to everyone, in every circumstance. And therapists that can help everyone get to their own state-certified and guaranteed happiness level. And the Camerons and Blairs of the world will be writing that policy! Just think what a bang-up job Gore and Kerry and Ralph Nader could do with that kind of opportunity. Now if I were a Muslim, I'd only have to open the Koran and read the right parts to figure out what to do to achieve optimum bliss. Why can't they have some sort of guide like that for us poor atheists? Oh. That's what the government is going to do - provide an ideology that conduces to happiness, just like Buddhism makes Buddhists happy and Judaism makes Jews happy. The whole idea would be shocking if it weren't so stupid, naive and ahistorical. I, for one, feel quite competent to resist any attempt to make me happy for any considerable period of time that doesn't involve gin, red meat and chocolate.

My technical brilliance astounds even me:
In the latest technology air circulating devices, circa approximately 1923, the descriptive terms "oscillating" and "rotating" are not mutually exclusive. The rotating turbine oscillates - on another axis - to sweep an extensive volume of space.