Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them - Isaac Asimov

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Uncivil War
by Lee

Some of the BushBots have been assailing me lately, claiming that I hysterically overreacted to claims of sectarian violence in Iraq.  Well, welcome to the revolution.

Violence since Wednesday’s bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in Iraq has killed 379 people and wounded 458, the government said in a statement on Tuesday, denying reports that the toll was much higher.

Reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques and other sectarian bloodshed has pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war and officials have been trying to play down the extent of violence.

Suspected al Qaeda militants destroyed the Golden Mosque in Samarra, sparking tit-for-tat reprisals in the gravest crisis since U.S. forces invaded in 2003.

In an unusual statement, issued in English, the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, said media reports that the death toll was well over 1,000 were “inaccurate and exaggerated.”

Okay, so 1,000 people dead over six days.  That’s the beginning of a civil war, folks.  The only thing preventing Iraq from turning into Beirut is the presence of the US military, and I don’t even know how long that will prevent it.

Posted by Lee on 02/28/06 at 08:39 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Dumbass of the Day
by Lee

I just logged in to the ID discussion going on under the Banned Books threat and noticed that some fucking moron had hosed the page by posting a link that was too long.  “Why is it so hard for these fucking idiots to follow directions?” So I scrolled up to see who the idiot of the day was and discovered it was me.

Everyone laugh at me and throw things at my head.  I deserve it.

Posted by Lee on 02/28/06 at 02:08 PM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Big Fat Wait
by Lee

Back when I was obese I was once told I couldn’t have an MRI because I was too heavy for the table.  I wasn’t offended, it was the truth, and I sure didn’t go pissing and moaning and demanding an apology like this fat bastard.

A 308-pound British man is demanding an apology from a hospital in Liverpool, England, where he was told he was too fat to have an angiogram.

Alan Nolan, 57, told the Liverpool Echo his doctors knew his size and had promised special equipment would be on hand for his scheduled heart procedure at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

However, he said, when he arrived for his appointment, he told he was too fat to fit on the operating table and sent home.

Ummm, so fucking what?  What’s the big deal?  So you go home and come back a few days later when they have the equipment on hand.  Oh, wait!  This is the UK!

Nolan said his doctor told him five months ago there was a potential problem with a heart valve and now he has to further wait for a diagnosis.

That’s right, folks.  He was told that he had a problem with a heart valve and FIVE MONTHS LATER he got in for an angiogram.  Presumably he’ll now have to wait another five months for his free health care to provide him with the opportunity of getting another one.

Posted by Lee on 02/28/06 at 02:01 PM in Health Care  • (6) TrackbacksPermalink

Communist Net
by Lee

It seems that Yahoo has been helping to crush democracy movements in China.

Reporters Without Borders said it had obtained a copy of the court verdict against Li Zhi (below), a former official jailed for eight years in December 2003, confirming that US firm Yahoo ! collaborated with the prosecution, as did local competitor, Sina.

“The Li Zhi verdict shows that all Internet sector companies are pulled in to help when the police investigate a political dissident,” the press freedom organisation said.

“It is unacceptable that US firms should turn themselves into auxiliaries of a government that systematically tramples on the rights of Internet-users to freedom of expression,” it said.

“Yahoo ! should urgently withdraw its content and email servers from this country before further requests of this kind are made of it. The fact that it operates in China through a local partner, Alibaba, does not in any way absolve it of its ethical responsibilities,” said the organisation.

The verdict showed that Yahoo ! Hong Kong Ltd and Sina Beijing had supplied information confirming that Li Zhi had set up an email account using their services. It did not however say if the content of messages he sent or received had been handed over to the courts.

It also showed that a local telecommunications agency had helped the authorities find Li Zhi’s address and telephone number, based on the IP address used to access Yahoo ! and Sina email boxes.

Some of Li’s emails and transcripts of his discussions on forums on Sina.com formed part of the charges drawn up by the National Security Bureau. The verdict also quoted an article that was posted on his personal website, hosted by Muzi.com, headlined “Why is China lagging behind ?”

Chinese police made use of “witnesses” to confirm that Li was putting the Internet to subversive use. One of them revealed that the official had asked his advice on how to get round online censorship.

Li was accused of getting in touch via the Internet with Xie Wanjun, head of the banned China Democracy Party. A membership form was apparently also found on his computer.

“Somehow I can’t help but feeling that somehow Halliburton and George W. Bush are behind this.”

Posted by Lee on 02/28/06 at 09:42 AM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Rotten Apples
by Lee

So I got my laptop back from Apple.  I couldn’t have been happier with the service.  From the initial call my laptop was sent to Memphis, repaired, and shipped back, all in four days.  That’s service!  So I came home at lunch, picked up my newly repaired machine, and went back to work to start copying all my old files back on it.  I turned it on a BING!  It crashed.  After the reboot I ended up booting into Open Firmware.  This is EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM that I sent it in there for the first time.

To say I am a little pissed is an understatement.  It would have been a flawless repair experience if it wasn’t for the fact that they didn’t actually repair the damn thing.  Some fucking slack-jawed technician didn’t do his job properly, and that just burns my ass.  They really screwed the pooch on this one.

Posted by Lee on 02/28/06 at 01:28 AM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hatred of Peace™
by Lee

It just goes to show, you don’t have to be the president of Iran to be a hatemongering antisemite.

Standing up for what he says and believes, a very candid Louis Farrakhan preaches a message some may interpret as one of hate.

Minister Farrakhan did not hold back or hold his tongue Sunday afternoon as he addressed thousands at the annual Saviors’ Day.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports on speech that some may consider controversial.

“Ah yea, they are going to hate what I say and accuse me of teaching hate, but I’ll die on what I say,” Farrakhan said.

The Nation of Islam leader may have unknowingly addressed the source of a week-long controversy during his annual Saviors’ Day speech.

Illinois gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz, the Anti-Defamation League and at least one state lawmaker are upset that Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Farrakhan’s director of protocol, Claudette Marie Johnson, to the state’s discrimination and hate crimes commission.

The backlash came to a head when Johnson invited commission members to this speech, often filled, critics say, with inflammatory, anti-Semitic comments.

“You are a weak nation now and your country has been taken from you by the synagogue of Satan. They own Congress. That’s why the Congress ain’t right,” Farrakhan said.

Ah, the The Religion of Peace™.  Something sure ain’t right there.  What is it about Islam that turns all its adherents into rabid Jew haters?

Posted by Lee on 02/27/06 at 07:40 PM in The Religion of Peace™  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

Dick Splits?
by Lee

Drudge has a link up to Insight Magazine, which is apparently claiming that Cheney is going to resign shortly after the midterm elections.  Unfortunately the link is fucked, so I haven’t been able to read the article.  However, I have a few thoughts.

This, if true, is a dumb move.  He should resign before the elections, not after.  Why?  Because undoubtedly Bush would nominate Condi for Veep.  Can you imagine anything better going into the 2006 elections than the appointment of the first black, not to mention the first female, to executive office?  If he’s going to quit, he should do it now, and take one for the team.  If there’s anything that would get the media off Bush’s most recent scandals it’s the resignation of the vice president.

But, like I said, I haven’t read the article.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/06 at 02:26 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Oily Futures
by Lee

Here’s the latest example of eeeeeevil oil kkkorporations manipulating the price of their product.

Oil fell more than two dollars on Monday, unwinding gains made after a foiled al Qaeda attack on the world’s biggest oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia.

No supplies were disrupted from the leading oil exporter, but tension remained high.

Wow, how about that.  When supplies go down, the price goes up.  When it turns out that the supply is fine, the price goes down.  Wow, it’s almost like basic economics.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/06 at 02:23 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Melting Pot of Terror
by Lee

Europe is finally waking up to the notion that maybe, just maybe, their tolerance and openness of hatred in their midst just might not be such a hot idea after all.

How different things look today. Dutch borders have been virtually shut. New immigration is down to a trickle. The great cosmopolitan port city of Rotterdam just published a code of conduct requiring Dutch be spoken in public. Parliament recently legislated a countrywide ban on wearing the burqa in public. And listen to a prominent Dutch establishment figure describe the new Dutch Way with immigrants. “We demand a new social contract,” says Jan Wolter Wabeke, High Court Judge in The Hague. “We no longer accept that people don’t learn our language, we require that they send their daughters to school, and we demand they stop bringing in young brides from the desert and locking them up in third-floor apartments.”

What’s going on here? Weren’t the Dutch supposed to be the nicest people on earth, the most tolerant nation in Europe, a melting pot for minorities and immigrants since the Renaissance? No longer, and in this the Dutch are once again at the forefront of changes in Europe. This time, the Dutch model for Europe is one of multiculturalism besieged, if not plain defunct.

Once again, the realities of the world trump the idealism of the liberal left.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/06 at 02:17 PM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Gold Medal Bush
by Lee

Note to female Olympians.  It might be a good idea to get a wax job before you hit the ice.


Although, this might help her in her next career, as a star in Japanese tentacle porn.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/06 at 09:09 AM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Private Hosercare
by Lee

Later on this year Michael Moore will release “Sicko,” his look at the American healthcare system.  In this film he will undoubtedly, as he has done for years, extoll the virtues and the compassion of the Canadian system.  The only problem is that the Canadian system doesn’t work, and to supplement its failures Canadian doctors are turning to eeeeevil free market capitalism and private insurance.

The country’s publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

Dr. Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.

“We’ve taken the position that the law is illegal,” Dr. Day, 59, says. “This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.”

Oh wait, it gets better.

The median wait time between a referral by a family doctor and an appointment with a specialist has increased to 8.3 weeks last year from 3.7 weeks in 1993, according to a recent study by The Fraser Institute, a conservative research group. Meanwhile the median wait between appointment with a specialist and treatment has increased to 9.4 weeks from 5.6 weeks over the same period.

Average wait times between referral by a family doctor and treatment range from 5.5 weeks for oncology to 40 weeks for orthopedic surgery, according to the study.

Last December, provincial health ministers unveiled new targets for cutting wait times, including four weeks for radiation therapy for cancer patients beginning when doctors consider them ready for treatment and 26 weeks for hip replacements.

Now, call me crazy, but even your average heartless HMO here in America will provide superior care than that.  The problem is that HMOs are private, whereas government is public, so in the mind of Mikey and those like him the government is more compassionate, even when delivering inferior care.

Posted by Lee on 02/27/06 at 09:01 AM in Health Care  • (7) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Banned Books
by Lee

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people?

Twenty-three books including the latest “Harry Potter” were removed by Wilsona School District trustees from a list recommended by a parent-teacher committee for the Vista San Gabriel Elementary School library.

Trustees said one rejected book contained an unsavory hero who made a bad role model for children; another was about a warlock, which they said was inappropriate; and others were books with which they were unfamiliar and didn’t know whether they promoted good character or conflicted with textbooks.

“There were several of the books on there that board members felt were not appropriate for the children,” board President Sharon Toyne said. “I think basically because for the last eight or nine years, we’ve been pushing character education in our school district. There are so many issues changing in the society we are living in. With this ever-changing society, we have to just stick back to the traditional thing of what kids are supposed to be learning.”

The board voted unanimously at Thursday’s meeting to remove the 23 books from a list of 68 that had been forwarded for board approval to place on the shelves of the Vista San Gabriel school library.

Rejected titles included three bilingual Clifford the Big Red Dog books, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Disney’s Christmas Storybook,” and two books from the Artemis Fowl series, whose namesake character was described in reviews as a boy-genius anti-hero and criminal mastermind.

Toyne wouldn’t comment on what was objectionable about the latest of the “Harry Potter” series, which has proved wildly popular in print and on screen but from its inception has drawn criticism that it promotes what predominantly Christian critics term “occultism,” using supernatural means not from the divinity to acquire personal power.

Trustee Marlene Olivarez, a teacher who retired from the district two years ago, said the latest “Harry Potter” installment was rejected because it is fantasy.

“We want books to be things that children would be able to relate to in real life,” she said.

A Disney book?  Clifford the Big Red Dog?  Harry Potter?  Seriously, are these people insane?  Are they trying to intentionally destroy the desire of kids to read anything, ever?

Posted by Lee on 02/26/06 at 04:44 PM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

Dim Sumuhammad
by Lee

The Religion of Peace™ is doing it Hong Kong style.

Shouting slogans and waving banners, more than 1,000 Muslims in Hong Kong mounted a protest on Sunday to denounce cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad.

“Mockery is not humour,” “We want peace, don’t harass us,” read some of the banners the Muslims brandished in Chater Garden, a favorite weekend gathering place for foreign domestic helpers.

It was the second peaceful protest in 10 days by Hong Kong’s Muslim community, a usually quiet and almost invisible group in this southern Chinese city.

Organisers said they were enraged by the cartoons, which were first published in Denmark in September but which have since been reprinted in many European newspapers.

“We love our prophets and we also love other religions. But why should people hate our religion?” said Khan Muhammad Malik, chairman of the Pakistan Islamic Welfare Union in Hong Kong.

“We want the United Nations to make a law for the world, stating clearly that no religion must be insulted.”

Strange, isn’t it, that we’ve never heard a peep from the Muslim world concerning the insulting of religion.  That is, until it was their religion that was insulted.  Then, well, of course, all religions need to be protected.  Which, when you think about it, makes them exactly like liberals.  Insulting Christianity?  No problem.  But when Muslims act like savages, well, all of a sudden we have to exercise restraint and be respectful of people’s religious beliefs.

Posted by Lee on 02/26/06 at 01:21 AM in The Religion of Peace™  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why Government Doesn’t Work
by Lee

We all know Bush is as big government as Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi or any other big government liberal.  He’s a much more strident believer in big government than even Bill Clinton was.  Okay, you say, fair enough, though these policies were necessary to get elected, and it’s much better that Bush be in the White House now, at this crucial point in time, than some liberal.  But is it?  Writing in Reason Online, Julian Sanchez explain why Bush’s foreign policy, much like his domestic policy, is nothing buyt a mishmash of the worst aspects of liberalism without any of the real conservatism.

Dissecting what he calls “the Bush administration’s incomprehensible failure to plan adequately for the insurgency that subsequently emerged in Iraq,” a failure that has equally baffled war supporters such as Andrew Sullivan, Fukuyama concludes that neoconservative hawks “seemed to think that democracy was a kind of default condition to which societies reverted once the heavy lifting of coercive regime change occurred.”

What is striking about this characterization is its extraordinary resemblance to the worldview economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell describes in his conservative classic A Conflict of Visions as the “unconstrained vision” of man and politics—a worldview that Sowell, here and in his more polemical follow-up The Vision of the Anointed, typically regards as distinctive of the left.

On the “constrained” or “tragic” vision, Sowell explains, we are all embedded in phenomenally complex social systems that embody the evolved, inexpressible experience of many generations. Human nature is largely resistant to change and frequently troublesome. Broad and ambitious plans for social improvement—especially when they propose bettering not just human conditions but humanity itself—are to be regarded warily, because the knowledge explicitly available to even the wisest individual or group is dwarfed by the implicit wisdom of our evolved traditions. As Sowell puts it, “the particular cultural expressions of human needs peculiar to specific societies are not seen as being readily and beneficially changeable by forcible intervention.”

And then there’s this.

Even when it appears to be most traditional, contemporary conservatism bears the imprimatur of the unconstrained vision. When, at a primary debate before the 2000 elections, Bush averred that his favorite political philosopher was “Christ, because he changed my heart,” most supposed that the candidate was either exploiting an opportunity to trumpet his religiosity or simply couldn’t think of an actual political philosopher. But taken at face value, it is a surprisingly telling comment: It implies that the function of political philosophy is to change hearts.

Bush’s defenses of his faith-based initiatives, for example, are redolent with the rhetoric of changed hearts, affirming that social programs are to be not merely ameliorative but transformative. Consonant with the constrained vision, Bush frequently recognizes that government is not equipped to undertake that sort of tax directly, without intermediation by more local groups with a more direct understanding of the communities they serve, yet he retains the core faith in government’s competence to steer a process that relies more on improving people than on improving the incentives people face. His Healthy Marriage Initiative recognizes, as thinkers guided by the constrained vision will, the importance of an evolved social institution, but seeks to manage it with the benefit of up-to-date social science. The No Child Left Behind act is meant to ensure the accountability of public schools—which sounds conservative enough—but it implements accountability to a set of centralized standards and measures, rather than local actors with more direct access to the needs and circumstances of children.

This is absolutely right, and it really clarified for me just what it is I find so unsettling about Bush.  He and Rove basically decided that they were going to use the exact same playbook as the liberals, only they were going to erase the liberal goals and put in conservative ones.  This is, of course, as stupid an idea as thinking you can turn a recipe for vanilla cake into one for chocolate cake merely by replacing the word “vanilla” with “chocolate.” So what we’ve ended up with are a plethora of bad policies, which are going to be with us a lot longer than Bush, simply because of Bush’s belief in the transformative power of government policy.

The thing is, I think that the relative failure of the war in Iraq has less to do with the underlying principles behind it than the sheer ineptitude of its implementation.  I honestly cannot believe that, had we has an additional 100,000 troops in theater, with an actual plan for dealing with the insurgency, the results would have been what we see today.  It’s not that I think the war is unwinnable, it’s that what should have taken us two years and 2,000 lives is now going to take us ten years and 10,000 lives, simply because of the Bush administration’s abysmal planning.

Transformative government is a seductive ideal.  I’ve fallen for it myself.  But reality always ends up kicking me square in the balls.  it doesn’t matter whether a liberal or a conservative (or a pretend conservative like Bush) is in the White House, the undeniable truth is that government simply doesn’t work, and the only sane policy to follow is the truly conservative model of free-market, limited government liberarian conservatism.

So, is Bush a conservative?  Not on your life.  And we’re all going to be paying for it for a long, long time.

Posted by Lee on 02/25/06 at 06:16 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

by Lee

Oh man, this doesn’t sound good.

Two female students from Moore-Hill dormitory were still being treated late Friday for Ricin exposure after coming into contact with the toxin Thursday afternoon, law enforcement and UT officials said.

Students began evacuating the dorm shortly after 11 p.m. when University Residence Hall resident assistants began knocking door-to-door evacuating residents.

According to authorities, no other students are exhibiting symptoms of exposure to Ricin, a protein-inhibitor that can lead to death or serious injury, which has been used as a biological warfare agent. Authorities would not release the names of the girls involved.

“There is no threat coming from this,” said Theresa Spalding, associate director of Student Health Services. “The authorities do not believe there is any type of terroristic plot against the University of Texas.”

Moore-Hill dormitory is now a crime scene and a criminal investigation is under way, said Dr. Adolfo Valadez, medical director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.

The toxin was first discovered around 2:30 p.m. Thursday when one of the students who received treatment discovered a white powder after opening a roll of quarters from a non-local bank to do laundry on the first floor, Spalding said. The quarters had been in her dorm room on the second floor for several months, Spalding said. The powder fell out on the student’s hands, which she washed immediately before reporting the incident to the UT Police Department, Spalding said.

Ricin is bad, bad stuff.

Posted by Lee on 02/25/06 at 11:22 AM in Etcetera  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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