Saturday, March 16, 2002

SHOOTING BULLETS OUT OF THE SKY
I just read that the latest missile defense test was a success.

As the story says, there's still a long way to go. And it'll cost buckets of money. But the tech involved is just so damn cool!
TARGET SADDAM
It's becoming increasingly obvious that Iraq is going to be the next target in the war on terror.

Janes Defence Weekly seems to think that the U.S. can use the same tactics that worked in Afghanistan. Mainly by using local forces friendly to the U.S. (or "unfriendly to the present Iraq regime" would be more truthful).

I'm not sure that this will work. I think Jane's should read the excellent analysis that Steven Den Beste has already compiled on his blog.
OUR BIG NEIGHBOR TO THE NORTH
Canada has been a faithful friend to the U.S during the recent troubles. The toughest fighting so far has been in the mountains in Eastern Afghanistan, and U.S. forces on the ground have worked with special forces units from allied nations. Some of these units have been from Canada.

There's been a big to-do about all of the allied forces in Afghanistan. And I do have to admit that it's nice to have friends. But I think some attention has to be focused on Canada's contribution. Considering the small size of her military and the limited ability to project that might overseas, I think that the help offered by the Great White North has been considerably more valuable than some of our other allies.

If any Canadians should happen to read this, then let a Yank say "Thanks".
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Steven Den Beste has some really pithy observations about the EU economic summit that's going on now. Click on the link and read his thoughts. Go ahead. I'll wait.

This whole situation reminds me very strongly of ancient Rome. Originally ruled by Etruscan kings, the Romans decided to adopt a Grecian style of democracy after they kicked the kings out on their ear. Citizens would elect representatives who would make the big decisions. The problem was that, after a few hundred years, the politicians realized that giving stuff to the voters for free was the best way to get re-elected. A few hundred years of this and things started to get out of hand.

For example, it was an ancient tradition that free food would be passed out on religious holy days ("holidays" for short). A senator that managed to get a new holiday added to the official list would be remembered by the voters. It finally got so bad that there was, on average, two days per week that the law would allow most businesses to operate. To make sure that each business got a fair crack at any profits, laws were passed so you could only hire a business for one week at a time. So if you needed a new roof put on your house, and it would take five days of work to get the job done, you'd have to hire three different construction firms and wait a month before you could stay dry when it rained.

By the time the Flavian Ampitheater was built a vast network of support infrastructure was built to funnel supplies in to the city ("All roads lead to Rome"). It made sense to devote all of these resources to one city because Rome had the highest concentration of voters.

Historians will tell you that Rome fell because of a series of barbarian invasions. This is true, but the invaders wanted to force the Romans to accept them as Citizens (the guys who voted and got the free stuff). Then the barbarians could settle down and start sucking at the public teat just like any other respectable Roman. When things turned bleak and sacrafices had to be made to save the Empire, the Citizens couldn't give up the free stuff. After all, it had been passed out for hundreds of years.

Now the Euros have been complaining about how overwhelming the U.S. culture, military and economy is, but they aren't willing to cut the social programs that get them the votes. I will probably live for another 50 years or more. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Friday, March 15, 2002

I SHOT AN ARROW IN TO THE AIR....
It seems that there's gonna be another anti-missile test today. This is after allegations of fraud within the scientific team back in 1997.

I used to be against further development of the anti-missile defense system because I was worried about such a system damaging relations between the U.S. and Europe.

But for some damn reason I'm not concerned about what the rest of the world thinks.
DEGENERATION OF A GENERATION
I mentioned goin' to see "The Time Machine" a few days ago. Blog goddess Natalie Solent mentions in the "comments" section that her original reading of the book gave her the impression that both the Eloi and the Morlocks were supposed to be degenerate, just in different ways.

I agree that this was Mr. Wells' intent. And it was shown in the 1960 version of the movie. But it's not very clear in this version.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

A ONE LEGGED DOG IS BARKIN'
Some mention has been mad in the news about how the Islamic world has a bad opinion of America. Talking heads on all of the major networks have asked the nagging question "Why don't they like us?"

I just read an essay by Victor Davis Hanson. He says that the Muslims hate us because they are jealous. Even the citizens of Kuwait hate us, even though they owe us big.

I'm a practical sort of guy. I have to ask three things....
1) Since saving them from Saddam and slavery didn't work, what can we do to change their minds?
2) What can the Islamic world do to stop the U.S. war on terrorism?
3) Even if they loved us, what can they do to help when we enter the next phase of the war?

Since the answer to all of those questions is "Nothing" I have to say that I'm just as concerned as I would be if a one legged dog was barking at me.
FAIR VALUE FOR THE MONEY
It seems that the Brits are concerned about how public money is spent. They're so concerned that they are now allowing Parliament to investigate how tax dollars are being spent. This is to make sure that full value is being received for the cash being handed out.

Good idea, I'd say.

But I've come across this article that says that some institutions that receive public money are going to be exempt from scrutiny. One of the institutions that will be exempt from scrutiny will be the Royal family.

This is a good idea because I can't see any way that tax money given to a family of rich, in-bred snobs could be justified as having been well spent. This is probably because I happen to be an American and I'm descended from people who ran away from such institutions (thank gawd).

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

NOT JUST AN AMERICAN PROBLEM
People who believe that the world was created by supernatural means are always trying to force educators to teach their views in school. The latest is the Intelligent Design theory.

Proponents of Intelligent Design state that evolutionary theory doesn't explain EVERYTHING. Since there are gaps in the theory "alternative views" should be taught in school to impressionable young minds. This, they argue, would actually improve scientific thought because it would force people to examine alternative ideas.

The only problem is that evidence of evolution has been found just about everywhere, from the building blocks of life to the world's smallest examples of life to the ground underfoot. The evidence is so overwhelming I can't put all of the links up, so click here and go exploring on your own.

Unfortunately, those that reject the science in favor of religion haven't been able to come up with any eveidence at all. Their main arguement seems to be "We aren't comfortable with it, so it can't be true!"

For years this has been held up as an example of how Americans aren't a clear-thinking bunch. Now I see that England has the same problem.

I suppose fuzzy thinking is a universal constant.
PRYING FRENCH EYES
Seems the French are complaining again. This time they're upset that we didn't let them have a greater impact in Afghanistan even though they didn't have the forces to make any real difference. They didn't like the fact that we didn't even share any intelligence with them concerning the enemy.

So do they go out and develop their own intelligence? No, they decide to spy on the Americans.

And they can't figure out why we don't trust them!
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY FRIVOLOUS
It seems that Mike Tyson was just awarded a license to box in Washington, D.C.

I'm thinkin' that Mr. Tyson's manager, Don King, is feeding his fighter grizzly bear hormone to make him a meaner boxer. Heck, the guy can't even get through a press conference without attacking someone.

I have a suggestion so Mike can get through a news conference.

'Course, with all the biting Tyson has been doing I think he might have a Modest Proposal of his own.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

GOIN' TO THE MOVIES
Went to see "The Time Machine" the other day. It was a fun time. The movie didn't follow the book too well, but it worked as a remake of the George Pal movie of the same name. It had impressive special effects, but the director was wise enough to keep them from being the center of the film.

The story is where a Victorian inventor travels far in the future and finds that humanity has evolved in to two distinct species. The gentle Eloi live on the surface, while the thuggish Morlocks live underground and hunt the Eloi for food.

The viewer is supposed to hate the Morlocks with a passion, but I wasn't able to get too worked up about it. It was explained that they couldn't live on the surface, and the Eloi was the only source of food. Condemning them would be like making a moral judgement against the lion that brings down a gazelle. This isn't to say that I wouldn't shoot the lot without a second thought. Threats like that need to be removed.

I was also disappointed with the Time Traveller's reaction to the situation. A proper Victorian gentleman would use his machine to go back to his own time and recruit some tough hombres to help him clean house. Since TT came from New York circa 1900, I wonder who he could get to help? It would have to be someone who was a real hero. Someone who had seen combat. The TT would also have to find someone who was good with a gun in a tight spot. Someone who wouldn't mind going in to danger.

Oh, well. Maybe for the sequel.

Monday, March 11, 2002

GOIN' SWIMMING WITH A MEAT BATHING SUIT
I notice that Iraq is refusing to allow more arms inspections.

What is it with these guys? Iraq is already a despotic regime. Do they think that they'll make points with the voters? If they have projects to develop weapons of mass destruction (and, Boy Howdy, do they ever!) they should dismantle them and let the UN back in tout de suite.

They keep doin' this sort of thing and they'll have their head handed to them.
WHO'S GOT THE DATA
Another source has weighed in about children and guns.

The Socity for Adolescent Medicine has released a study that supposedly shows that gun deaths have been declining over the past ten years. This is at a time when gun ownership has been climbing during the same period, and it has now reached an all time high.

It certainly goes against the Harvard Medical School study I discussed earlier that supposedly proves that children die more violent deaths where gun ownership is prevalent.

Another point to take in to consideration is the response by the on-line news agencies. The Harvard study was highlighted, with the first paragraph of the story auomatically popping up when GUN CONTROL was entered in the search engine. I notice that there doesn't seem to be the same level of enthusiasm for promoting this story.