Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Reason for Iraq War revealed!

My crack investigative team has recently uncovered a world exclusive! GW Bush and team invaded Iraq with the aid of Halliburton in order to construct....

The Death Star


Nihilism and abortion: what to do with triplets?
I read article by Amy Richards today. All I can say is what a fine example of the 'Me' generation. In short, Ms. Richards got bored of taking the pill, and got pregnant with her boyfriend (by mutual choice mind you). Then, when it came time for the initial pre-natal screening, she found out it was triplets. Her thoughts?
My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ''Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?'' The obstetrician wasn't an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.

In all honesty, I have no idea to relate to this. Aborting two fetuses because they are ’inconvenient’? I cannot imagine a more self-absorbed, nihilistic waste of life.

For many reasons I think it is ultimately the right and responsibility of the woman to decide if she wishes to carry a child to term. I don’t know, maybe I’m suffering an unreasonable emotional reaction, but this strikes me at gut level as very, very wrong. And what really depresses me is the fact that I have no right to tell this woman that her choice was not valid.

But is it wrong of me to wish for a society where getting rid of two of thee fetuses due to the ‘inconvenience’ of the matter simply wouldn’t be part of the equation? Banning abortion all together is wrong. Anyway, later I read:
I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don't know.

Becoming pregnant again. And what if she has to discard some of the fetuses because they don’t fit her schedule? Or her preconceived notions?

Parenting is in many ways a sacrifice of oneself for children. You have to give up some things if you are going to have kids. And maybe, just maybe, that includes your career for a time. If you can’t handle this, if you aren’t prepared for the fact that you become in many ways secondary, then stay on the damn pill! Anything else is a disservice to yourself and your kids. And killing off a couple of them because one is ok but three aren’t convenient right now isn’t a reasonable solution.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Strategic Realignment? Some Hypothetical Ruminations
One thing that should be extremely evident to anyone that paid attention in the run up and the conclusion to the Iraq war is that certain 'Traditional Allies' are now anything but. France now shrilly opposes everything an anything we do, almost reflexively. Germany plays along. Spain seems to be lost due to the dilution of any sort of Spanish spirit in a sea of Hyper-pacifism. While I can understand Frances stand on thing (they are the masters of 'enlightened self-interest, and screw everyone else), I'm not quite certain what Germany and Spain gain from their positions. But more importantly, there are significant indications that the 'cornerstone nations of NATO' may be effectively no longer relevant in todays world.

So who are our 'logical' allies? Well first and foremost would be most of the nations of the 'Anglo-sphere', namely England and Australia. (Canada is an interesting special case. They are in many ways our best friend on the world state. But their self impost inability to do anything on the world stage effectively removes them from any equation other than trade. I'd love to see the Maple Leaf next to the Stars-and stripes out there in the world. But it just isn't going to happen at any significant level barring significant changes in Ottawa).

Next would naturally be Japan and the new members of NATO, the Eastern Europeans. Japan will, wither they want to or not, have their hand be forced by both North Korea and China into a more active posture of defense. Let's face it. The Greater Middle East Project is going to absorb much of our attention, perhaps at the expense of out ability to defend Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. However, Summer Surge 04 discounts this in a significant way. This doesn't change the fact that I feel Japan will soon be called on to shoulder a more active 'defense' of the Pacific.

As to the Eastern Europeans, they remember tyranny. Their support and friendship is a no brainier.

The same can be said for Israel.

Hopefully Iraq will evolve along these lines as well.

But all of these are sidelines. I think the coming months will reveal a closer relationship between the United States and two nations of note: Russia and India.

Russia has a strategic need to defend against two extreme threats: China and militant Islam. The short term thread is continued subversion in Chechnya and terrorist acts throughout Russia. But one thing I've pointed out in other conversations is that in many ways Russia has been shaped by her fear of foreigners conquering and wreaking havoc.

Anyway, the other reason for Russia's alignment with the US is Siberia. China has one of the worlds largest growing demands for oil on the planet. How long until their One - Party regime realizes that there are large quantities of it just a hop, skip and jump away from the PLA?

One of the more significant signs of this developing relationship was when Putin warned the US of Iraq's intent to persecute terrorist acts against the US. Another is the potential arrival of several Russian divisions in Iraq.

And then there is India. Unfortunately due to historical baggage from the cold war there is still some nervousness between the US and India. But as our two democracies achieve closer economic integration (explain to me how 'outsourcing' is bad again?) and as both nations continue to strive against Islamic extremism, I feel that cooperation and friendship will be unavoidable. Especially if Musharrif fails in his role of 'Attaturk' and falls to Taliban sympathizers.

In any event, none of these predictions have come to fruition. In fact there is only sketchy evidence for any of it. But it will be interesting to see what the next quarter century brings to the geo-political landscape. And making assumptions about out 'traditional allies' may be foolhardy in the extreme.

The Polish know propaganda when they see it.
Believe or not, Eastern Europe is becoming my 'sanity barometer' when it comes to political discourse.
When Polish film critics start comparing Fahrenheit 9/11 to War propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, I think we all need to take a good hard look at the 'value' of this piece of film.

My fundamental issue with the upcoming election is that I really think that there is a segment of the electorate that doesn't hear how absolutely shrill they have become. There are significant and profound reasons to oppose Bush, but the Bush=Hitler people simply freak me out. I have no idea how to relate to their mind set, and frankly I have no interest in voting for someone who appeals to them. A reflexive rejection of the polarized fringe as it were.

I'd love to see Ashcroft and the fundamentalists wing of the Republican party given the boot. But why would I want to replace him with an equally odious group of ideologues?

Anyway. I'll make this my final post about Moore, and leave everyone with this link: The 59 (and counting) Deceits in Farenheit 9/11.

Monday, July 19, 2004

And the Drumbeat against Iran gets louder
After much hand wringing about our removal of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in Iraq, the final 9/11 Commission report is expected to clearly and explicitly outline links between the Government of Iran and Al’Qaida as a facilitator, but not as a direct planner.

There is significant evidence that Iran is harboring the leadership of Al’Qaida. This, coupled with the Iranian obvious pursuit of nuclear weaponry in contravention of the non-proliferation act, should strike everyone with an ounce of sanity as an intolerable risk to the entire western world, starting with Israel.
Since 9/11 the U.S. has held direct talks with Iran—and through intermediaries including Britain, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia—concerning the fate of scores of al-Qaeda that Iran has acknowleded are in the country, including an unspecified number of senior leaders, whom one senior U.S. official called al-Qaeda's "management council".

I think this report essentially guarantees that within 6 months, we will at the very least see Israeli strikes against targets in Iran, and a call for war by the United States against Iran in the next State of The Union (no matter who wins the election).

IMO, confrontation is unavoidable barring Iran abandoning their current nuclear ambitions in an open and verifiable manner and including the extradition of all members of Al-Qaida.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Unfortunate Rise of the Neo-Luddite Movement.
How the unholy trinity of junk-science, sensationalist reporting and eco-reactionary fundamentalism in the modern age is hindering progress and technological advancement across the globe.

The last decade of the 20th century saw an unparalleled global economic expansion driven through the wide dissemination of Information Technology. IT proved to be the heretofore ultimate productivity enhancement, allowing for innovations like Just In Time delivery and real-time inventory management control. These innovations created what may in retrospect be one of the most effective income redistribution mechanisms in history: the use of Venture Capital to found hundreds of IT businesses with little or nor profit plan.

These developments enhanced the dissemination of discovery in several of the ‘hard sciences’ notably in chemistry and biology giving rise to most of the controversies of today. Unfortunately, these advancements come just as what can best be described as a New-Luddite movement has gained traction throughout much of the western world. In many ways this movement is fueled by radical ecological groups that are anti-science, the presses inability to report real science, but delights in sensationalizing junk science, and the rise of reactionary fundamentalist faiths, as best represented by Evangelical Christianity. This alliance of detractors is resulting in absurdity trumping good data, and potentially helpful products and avenues of research being stunted due to potentially unfalseifyable concerns.

Nanotechnology can probably be best described as the new chemistry. In many ways Nanotechnology and biotechnology are going to the most fundamentally important sciences of the new millennium. People heralded the Human Genome Project as one of the most important advances of our time. But that is nothing compared to the ability to either artificially manipulate machines or to create custom peptide sequences to bulk produce novel molecules with a pre-determined goal.

Unfortunately, both of these fields are plagued by speculation of disaster and uncontrolled developments wreaking havoc on our ecosystem. One of the historical problems with any scientific endeavor is the inevitable doom-sayers predicting mass horror at the hands of some abuse of the knowledge, and how we should as a result ban it (Or regulate it to oblivion). We are seeing this in the US currently with Stem Cell research and Nanotechnology.

Another example of all of this is Gene Modified foods. On November 20, 2002, a collection of African nations issued what is called the Lusaka Declaration. In short, it declares GM foods non grata in the signatory nations. This occurred as Zambia was undergoing a famine. Now, I can understand concerns about foods that is programmed to not be fertile in the wild. And I can to a certain extent understand concerns about food that has engineered pesticides. But how does the EU’s GM Food Free zones address extremely beneficial advances like Golden Rice? Vitamine A is one of the fundamental necessities for human existence. Yet though vast swaths of the world people suffer from a deficiency in this material, causing blindness in Africa and Asia.

So what happens? It is derided as ‘not a silver bullet’. It doesn’t do enough. GM food is evil regardless. So instead of adding a new tool in the fight against poverty induced malnutrition, it is barred as an ‘evil GM food’ form those who need it the most.

Another striking example of Neo-Ludditry is the Bush administrations stance on stem cell research. Because of the explicit linking of Embryonic Stems cells with Abortion, we have entered a phase of Federal paralysis on this potentially important avenue. Luckily for biologists interested in this arena, States like New Jersey are providing funding, and other nations like the UK are moving forward rapidly.

The end of patents, and novel drug development.
One of the more recent developments that scares the hell out of me is the current idea that Drug Companies are Big Bad Evil corporations, and they should surrender any hopes of recouping research expenditures by giving discoveries away. As Communism clearly demonstrated, if you remove incentive, people will not do such a thing. Remove the ability for drug companies to turn a profit from novel research by confiscating their Intellectual Property, and you eliminate the drive to do new things. If it becomes more profitable to sell aspirin, then that’s all we will get.

But, not all hope is lost. There are still bright spots in our technological future, and some people most definitely get it, as exemplified in The Tale of the Dragon. I can only hope as a citizen of what is probably the most technology driven nation on the planet that the Neo-Luddites will have their say, and then be swept aside by history. Because personally, I like the fact that we have novel research and advancement in such areas as statin blockers. And that one day we may be taking a multivitamin that not only reduces our Low Density Lippopolysaccharide levels, but may be able to convert it to HDL, thereby increasing bone density, reducing the odds of stroke and heart attack, and on and on and on. Never mind the more stunning implications of other areas of research. But none of this will be possible if the Neo-Ludditry get their way.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Wilson lied, and nothing happened: our press at work informing you
Anyone remember the big Joseph Wilson, Valerie Palm affair? Which so clearly demonstrated that the current administration lied to justify the war?

Turns out the Senate disagrees. A lot.

Here is a good round up on this non-story.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Go read James Lileks

Why are you still here?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Iran, our dear friends
In this news report (yeah, yeah, it is Fox, but bear with me) it has been reported that several admitted Iranian intelligence agents have been caught in Iraq with explosives. This, taken with the recent reports of several battalions of Iranian troops being positioned on the border with Iraq, and the recent capture of British sailors paints a troubling picture.

In my mind this has two potential meanings, either Iran is exploiting the inherit ‘weakness’ in our system in that Bush is extremely unlikely to respond to their provocations during the election cycle (barring a clear and unequivocal provocation involving WMD’s being used against us or an ally), or they all ready have nukes, and the IAEA has completely and utterly failed again.

My ‘hopeful’ take on this is that it is the former case rather than the latter. I feel that the mullhas are hoping to destabilize our elections against Bush by performing acts that make him and Blair appear weak, thereby increasing the chance of a Kerry win. This is also predicated on the idea that Kerry will approach the Middle East in a more ‘nuanced’ manner, through the UN for example. This election-induced paralysis would then allow Iran to create their nuclear arsenal their leisure and begin influencing Iraq directly. Because, let’s face it, Kerry won’t ‘unilaterally’ do anything against Iran. No matter what.

If what we are witnessing is a manifestation of them all ready having nukes, well it is only a matter of time before one is used against Israel, just as they have promised. Luckily the one argument I can muster against them all ready having nukes is that Israel hasn’t struck Iran. Yet.

Jane Galt has managed to sum up why I find the whole Michael Moore campaign documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 so repugnant. Here is a little sample:
Politicians lie, and people know they lie, which is why their speech is so aggressively discounted by everyone except their campaign workers. But the reason I don't get worked up over this, the way I do about journalists and movie makers who lie, is that politicians lies are balanced. Every Republican out there alleging that he singlehandedly saved 90,000 orphans from forest fires while in office has an equal and opposite Democrat claiming that said Republican likes to eat babies for breakfast, and invented scurvy.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Oh, but it’s not a ‘Stockpile’ of UN Proscribed weapons, see?
In a radio interview Secretary Rumsfield states the following:
Now what’s actually happened? Right now you have the Iraqi Survey Group, which is a multinational group that’s out there reviewing documentation and looking at suspect WMD sites. I was with the Polish minister of defense this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey at the NATO Summit. And in the course of that, he pointed out that his troops in Iraq had recently come across – I’ve forgotten the number, but something like 16 or 17 – warheads that contained sarin and mustard gas.
I’m certain there is some valid reason why we are still debating the ‘why’ of us going to war in Iraq, I just have no idea what it is any longer.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The real villain is Bush
Will this concordance of ideas between the anti-war crowd and Saddam Hussein make anyone twinge? Probably not. And this is truly unfortunate in an election year when we need to debate and discuss the issues that stand before us, instead of engaging in hyperbolic, Moorian hate-fests which only serve to polarize opinion.

And now for something completely different
One of my many hobbies is miniature wargaming. Or, as my wife likes to call it, playing with little dolls with pointy things. Anyway one of the ‘Great Debates’ in various gamins circles is the role or utility of the pike. I came across a great quote that I think illustrates the role of the hapless piker nicely. This is an account by Johann Grimmelshausen from Chapter 13 of 'Tearaway' the English translation of 'Springinsfeld' written in the 1670s based on his service in the 30 Years War.
"I had to carry a pike, which I disliked so much I would rather have been hanged than fight with such a weapon for long . I didn't feel at all like that Swabian who wanted to take half a dozen of the staves, the 18 feet of just one was too much for me. All the time I was looking for a way to give my weapon an honourable discharge. A musketeer is a poor put upon creature but compared with a wretched pikeman's lot his situation is pure bliss. It's bad enough just thinking about the hardships the poor souls have to put up with, never mind talking about them. You wouldn't believe it if you hadn't been through them yourself. I think anyone who slays a pikeman, whom he could otherwise have spared, kills an innocent man and is guilty of unjustifiable manslaughter. Since these poor draft-oxen, as they are mockingly called, were created in order to protect their brigades from attack by cavalry in open combat, they don't set out to harm anyone; if a man runs into one of their long pikes it serves him right. I've seen lots of fierce battles in my time, but seldom seen a pikeman actually kill someone."