Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Last post this week...

Ah, Tom Tomorrow: who could have said it better?
George Bush wants to cut taxes while financing his various wars and nation-building efforts...

...and go back to the moon?

Every credit card in the national wallet is maxed out, and Dad suddenly has a midlife crisis and decides he wants to buy a friggin' moon rocket.

It's no wonder the neighbors think we're crazy.
...before I head out to DC/VA for some military/industrial complexing.

I thought Tom Tomorrow was joking.

For months, administration officials have worked with conservative groups on the proposal, which would provide at least $1.5 billion for training to help couples develop interpersonal skills that sustain "healthy marriages."[More...]
By healthy, they mean "not gay". This is the most incredibly stupid, grossest misuse of money by someone who claims to be a "deficit hawk" (OK, OK, Cheney's the one who said that he and the Prez were deficit hawks, but you must agree: promoting family values is money poorly spent).
Wade F. Horn, the assistant secretary of health and human services for children and families, said: "Marriage programs do work. On average, children raised by their own parents in healthy, stable married families enjoy better physical and mental health and are less likely to be poor."[Ibid]
Didn't Wade talk to Newt? Doesn't he realize that children should go to orphanages?
So, what are you if you're neither "compasionate" nor "conservative"?

And here you have it

Go on. Try to deny it.

Even I must go against my fellow Haliburton bashers

Make no mistake: I have no love for the Empire. However, I do think that Haliburton has gotten a bad rap a couple of times. First, disclaimers:
Mr. Laasch owns Accenture stock. Accenture does perform services for Haliburton. Mr. Laasch would very much like to see Accenture stock soar in value, but his opinions are not tied to the work Accenture does for Haliburton.
  • Haliburton hauling gas from Kuwait: Yeah, it does seem awfully expensive, but their claim that they're hauling it through a war zone holds a lot of water with me.
  • The Martian Chronicles: Geez, NASA asked Haliburton about drilling on Mars, not the other way around, and not for oil, you idiot Conason (not you, Brian), but for water and microscopic life! Did that guy not read the article all the way through before he cited it??
My only joy in reading his column came from Salon's sponsored links:
Go ahead. Let's debate. You say I'm on the "left". Let's talk about how I feel about social programs right now. Let's talk about how "tax and spend" I am. Let's talk about how much I want to cut the military budget. Puh-leez. The only thing the American Right wants these days is to stuff money in their pockets while no one's looking. And what do you get when you cross a librarian and a moron? Barb and Jenna.

By golly, you're right!

I was going to rant at you, but first I read a UN indictment against a Serb. It's disturbing stuff, certainly, but very similar to the atorcities committed by Saddam. So what's the difference?
  1. Scale: the Serbian atrocities were committed on a much larger scale.
  2. Religion: the Christians were going after the Muslims, and Western nations were looking awful for failing to protect them.
  3. Legitimacy: Clinton's father hadn't been president, invaded the former Yugoslavia, stopped short of changing the regime, and then stewed over the years after losing a reelection bid for failing to take action against so heinous a person (does that mean that Bush 41 allowed Saddam to continue his reign of terror? We knew about the gassing of the Kurds. Turkey loved it! Does that mean that Bush 41 comprises some kind of mini-terrorist sponsor?)
  4. Sanction/Endorsement: we knew, we allowed, and we sold to Iraq the means to do the evil things we did. Should I bring in receipts? Do you need a picture of Bush 43 kissing Saddam's daughter on the cheek?
  5. And, sadly, Race/Geography: we ignore atrocities committed on non-whites much more easily, we ignore the horrors that occur far away from the West. I still haven't forgiven Clinton 42 for failing to stop the Hutus
So what are we willing to charge Saddam with? Will we really let him in an international courtroom where he could subponea corporate and government documents that show our dirty hand in this? No, of course not. The power of the American people rests in our smashing fist, not our governing brain. There will be no legitimacy in the outcome because he will be tried by an American-installed court and then executed once he's found guilty.

The last time we tried this sort of thing as a country, we ramrodded people through the process and found them guilty even if they were "just following orders". However, despite the fact that the Military Code of Justice requires that soldiers do what's right not what they're told, we refuse to subject our personnel to the same standard of conduct as we want the rest of the world to adhere to. As for the US millitary doing the right thing, maybe they should make a movie about that. Oh, wait; they did.

Oh, I'm sorry — are our attempts at open and honest debate distracting you from preserving freedom? You know, the next time someone criticizes how Clinton handled Saddam, I'm going to break otu the freakin' charts of how Clinton 42 increased the number of sorties as well as the tonnage dropped on Saddam and might have done more if he hadn't been so distracted about who he was banging, whether his wife was giving out free trips, and who got to sleep in the White House.

The following post has nothing to do with politics.

"It might be time, although this is none of WHO's business really, but the bottom line is that humans have to think about how they treat their animals and how they farm them, how they market them -- basically the whole relationship between the animal kingdom and the human kingdom is coming under stress," [WHO spokesman for the Western Pacific region, Peter] Cordingly said. [More...]

Bear in mind that I ate a Korean beef dish for lunch yesterday (note to potential Korean readers: kimchi, which extremely tasty, does not protect you from SARS. I can't stress that enough). I think it's well past time for the world to think about how much meat it consumes, how the animal lived, how it was slaughtered, how it's flesh was handled, and how it was prepared for consumption. If we put a lot more attention on these factors, we can, pardon the puns, kill two birds with one stone: corral these infectious diseases while at the same time help the ever-burgeoning countries cut down on their fat consumption. I know some might think I'm being too bullish, but eventually reducing meat consumption is something that we could all crow about.

Man, I was really stretching it there.
We now return to our regularly scheduled politi-fest.

Couldn't have said it better myself

"I think your policy up to this date has been absolutely correct. We must give, and have given, this policy with our allies and with the United Nations every opportunity to work. It is evident, however, that the cost in human lives in allowing this policy to continue is too great. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for the United States, we are now in a position of ignoring, as many did in the 1940s, one of the worst crimes committed in history. If we ignore these behaviors, no matter where they occur, our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. As the Catholic Church and others lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out, so will the United States lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action.

[ . . . ]

I understand the risks of this policy and their implications for the NATO Alliance and the future success of the United Nations. Surely, however, as you watch and read about the huge amount of unwarranted human suffering, particularly of children, you would agree that our current course must now be changed." [More . . . ]

And the difference in March of 2003 would have been . . . ?
There are already people talking about how the moon/mars missions are being planned to line Halliburton's pockets. There is no debating with the American Left anymore.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Help with our cost of living

The USDA has predicted a pretty serious drop on the price of beef. What does this mean for consumers? We'll get the cheap meat we've always loved (don't get me wrong — I had beef for lunch today). What does it mean to politicians, and by politicians, I mean Republicans?

Cattle interests have given more than $20 million to political campaigns since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Although the GOP has received about 80 percent of this largess, Democrats and Republicans alike - most from farm and ranching states - have been recipients.[More...]

Cattle and livestock interests gave almost $22 million to political campaigns since the 1990 elections, with three-quarters going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance. [More...]
From this we can arrive at two conclusions: 1) The beef industry gives a lot of money to politicians, but might not be able to when they stand to lose 10% of their business this year and 2) The Center for Responsive Politics just gives out random numbers to callers ("Did I say 20 million? Ah, heck, let's say 22 million.") Actually, the number is $21,643,077 (75% Repub, 24% Dem)and the figures (including some very nice charts) are here.

Maybe those guys in the Bush administration really do know something about how to help the economy!

Which will we find first?

Will we find:
  • Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the blister agents those Danes found might be the closest we'll get),
  • Whoever leaked the CIA operative's name to the press in retaliation for one brave diplomat standing up to the administration, or
  • "Proof" that O'Neill walked out with classified documents
Care to place any bets?
Those exciting thrills of yesteryear that I'd like to relive, by the way, are when the government shut itself down on principal (or at least because Newt Gingrich didn't get a good enough seat on Air Force One) and the biggest lie the President told had to do with whom he was boffing.

A bad day for manga

The Supreme Court at that time declared obscenity was anything "unnecessarily sexually stimulating, (which) damages the normal sexual sense of shame of ordinary people, or is against good sexual moral principles". [More...]
Wow. Care to comment on Japan's Supreme Court ruling?

Personally, I find "Hello Kitty" obscene. Should I file an amicus?

Will we ever get there?

The public is evenly split on President Bush's plan to build a space station on the moon and eventually send astronauts to Mars, according to an Associated Press poll.

A new Associated Press poll finds that more than half say it would be better to spend the money on domestic programs rather than on space research.
It doesn't help when those "tax and spend" liberals start pointing out that your $500B deficit is the biggest in history (but, to quote O'Neill quoting Cheney, Ronald Regan proved deficits don't matter).

I like to reach for the stars. I can't think of a better program for America to invest in. To fund it, I propose that we cease all new nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon development. I also propose that we destroy our chemical stockpiles rather than continue to maintain them. Finally, I suggest that we cut corporate tax loopholes, including the Bermuda loophole (take that, Accenture!).

Oh, and make the wealthy pay.

(Class warfare and a space race - double bonus for me!)

Dude, edit your previous post or I will. Were you drinking at the time?

Monday, January 12, 2004


I spent all of Sunday underneath the truck with McDad taking the drivetrain apart so's we could replace the politically incorrect slave cylinder, which some genius placed inside the bell housing.

Then the thought occurred to me that moon rovers are going to have slave sylinders, bell housings, transfer cases, transmissions and other really crappy things that will periodically have to be taken apart and fixed.

Presently, the NASA solution to just about everything is to through degrees at it until the problem goes away. If a Ph.D. got us into this mess, maybe two or three Ph.D.s will get us out of it. And because they are thrilled not to be working at a University, we'll pay them crappy money and give them a modicum of glory.

Will these be the guys who replace the slave cylinders on the moon rovers? Or are we going to (gasp) have to send mere BSs to the moon to do the scut work? At the Byrd Research Station in Antarctica they solve this problem with Navy enlisted men - will we see the same on the Moon? Is NASA culture ready for a mere Mech E to tell the Astrophysicist Ph.D. , "Sorry, you're going to have to wait until I change the oil."

Maybe NASA culture isn't ready for this. Maybe we should look at a different agency altogether to do this.
If it were up to NASA, the rover would be sent back to Earth for repair, only to be replaced by something 4x asexpensive and one half as reliable.