June 2006


Via the Examiner:

BEIJI, Iraq – For more than two years the attacks came like clockwork. As soon as the military secured and workers repaired the pipelines from Iraq’s northern oil fields, just when the valves were about to open, insurgents would strike. But roughly three weeks ago they suddenly stopped, letting crude oil flow freely from Iraq’s vast reserves near Kirkuk.

Perhaps insurgents feared reprisals in Salahuddin province, where pipelines from Kirkuk flow to the country’s largest refinery in Beiji. Maybe terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death disrupted a chain of command that ordered the attacks, military officials said.

Whatever the cause, the U.S. forces welcome the change, even if history since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 has shown the free flow of oil in Iraq is only temporary at best.

I just hope that it lasts long enough where people start realizing ‘Damn, we’re making money. We could be rich like Kuwaitis,” said Army Lt. Col. Craig Collier, deputy commander of the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. “But what is really going on? We don’t know.”

Great news that the oil is flowing freely, but sort of bad that we don’t know why..

[Link thanks to Ace]

Our bad posture may be making us sick..

Most geeks I know describe pain around their shoulder blades and upper back. Almost everyone has this pain right where your arm joins to your back, kind of around the back of your armpit on your mouse arm. (You know the one. And you know what it’s from.)..

..My advice is to take this stuff seriously, starting now. If you want to be able to keep saving the world through code, design, and online communtiy building, you’d better start making it sustainable.

* If you can afford it, invest in better equipment for your workstation.
* Don’t sit slouched over the laptop for hours.
* Drop and relax your shoulders.
* Take regular breaks to stretch your neck, shoulders, and wrists.
* Don’t ignore persistent pain.

I started with yoga again as a way of helping me breathe during scuba, but it also helps counteract the effects of bad workstation posture. Just a couple of quick stretching exercises are enough.

More at Yoga for Geeks..

Via The Hill:

House Republican leaders are expected to introduce a resolution today condemning The New York Times for publishing a story last week that exposed government monitoring of banking records.

The resolution is expected to condemn the leak and publication of classified documents, said one Republican aide with knowledge of the impending legislation.

The resolution comes as Republicans from the president on down condemn media organizations for reporting on the secret government program that tracked financial records overseas through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), an international banking cooperative.

Someone is taking this very seriously.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times,
responds to reader questions
about the Times’s publication of information concerning government efforts to track and prosecute the financial support of terrorism:

I don’t always have time to answer my mail as fully as etiquette demands…It’s an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

Instapundit points out that the founders did not give freedom of press to the press. They gave it to the people.

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn’t give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the “freedom of the press” the Framers described was also called “freedom in the use of the press.” It’s the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.

The media has become accustomed to certain privileges that aren’t given to ordinary citizens, but those privileges aren’t based on any constitutional rights given to the media as in institution. They’re based on the media’s presumed willingness to respect a standard of ethics and responsibility. Mostly, they’re based on trust.

Can ordinary citizens just walk into a presidential press conference, without any press affiliation? Could you walk into the Pentagon with a camcorder and say – ‘I’m a US citizen’ and be invited to ask Rumsfeld detailed questions about our current actions in Iraq? Were you, as an American citizen with full rights to publish your beliefs, invited to Stephen Colbert’s oh-so-daring and truthy Bush-bash? Does Joe Wilson have your number on his speed dial? Are wealthy and influential politicians willing to meet with you privately without the presence of security guards and advisors to openly discuss their goals and plans?

The press and the government have a symbiotic relationship, and this relationship depends on a certain degree of trust. The privileges and perks that the press have long enjoyed are not protected by the Constitution. In fact, the media’s belief that they are more equal than than the average citizen might bother the founding fathers.

The New York Times was, for many years, a legitimate and trustworthy news source. They betrayed that trust. Their recent actions have proven that they’re not worthy of the privileges they’ve been given. As a result, they should lose those privileges.

Usually I make this the way I had it in France (with peas in a tomato-ey broth) but this time I tried the more traditional style.

chop:

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 knob fresh ginger

Fry in 2 tbs. olive oil till onions are softened. Add:

1 pat butter/margarine

Then fry:

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Fry till fragrant, then add

4-6 skinless chicken thighs

Cover and fry till the onions and the outside of the chicken are browned. Add:

1 chopped carrot
1 sliced tomato
1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed *(optional – I left them out because my daughter hates chickpeas)
1/2 small head cabbage, leaves separated
1 zucchini chopped
2 cups chicken stock
Salt, ground pepper and some fresh-ground cinnamon.

Simmer over medium heat, covered, for about 30 minutes. Check to be sure that chicken is done by making a small slice in the meatiest part. If there’s any pink, add another 10 minutes to the cooking time.

Cook, according to package directions, 2 cups of plain couscous. Serve veggie/chicken mixture over bed of couscous.

This should feed three – four people.

I’ve often commented that of all nations, Britain is the most incompetent when it comes to fighting terrorism. They encourage it, they appease it, and if they do decide to fight it, they inevitably fight it by targeting innocents in a blind, misguided outburst of rage.

They currently believe that appeasing and tolerating Islamist extremism within their borders is a good idea. They believe that this tolerance, plus efforts to win Muslim hearts and minds will have a positive effect in the war against terrorism. They believe that having a favorable attitude towards Muslims will make Muslims love them.

They don’t. Muslims in Britain are the most anti-western in Europe.

Public opinion in Britain is mostly favourable towards Muslims, but the feeling is not requited by British Muslims, who are among the most embittered in the western world, according to a global poll published yesterday.

The poll, by the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project, asked Muslims and non-Muslims about each other in 13 countries. In most, it found suspicion and contempt to be mostly mutual, but uncovered a significant mismatch in Britain.

The poll found that 63% of all Britons had a favourable opinion of Muslims, down slightly from 67% in 2004, suggesting last year’s London bombings did not trigger a significant rise in prejudice. Attitudes in Britain were more positive than in the US, Germany and Spain (where the popularity of Muslims has plummeted to 29%), and about the same as in France.

Less than a third of British non-Muslims said they viewed Muslims as violent, significantly fewer than non-Muslims in Spain (60%), Germany (52%), the US (45%) and France (41%).

By contrast, the poll found that British Muslims represented a “notable exception” in Europe, with far more negative views of westerners than Islamic minorities elsewhere on the continent.

The Brits mean well, but, like creating fine wines and tasty cuisine, fighting terrorism and winning hearts and minds just isn’t something they do well. But they’re such nice people. Why do they always goof this up?

Christopher Caldwell’s article, After Londonistan, has an answer. Patience and forbearance.

MacShane is basically counseling patience, as many in Britain’s government do. A month before the July 7 attacks, Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee made the judgment that “there would probably be a successful attack of some sort in the U.K. in the next five years.” Today, British authorities are not much more confident of thwarting all plots, so they have erected a line of defense that is absorptive, not pre-emptive. It rests on harmony between social groups and on the country’s ability to suffer atrocities from time to time, as it did during the heyday of the I.R.A., without escalating unrest or oppression, or the rise of extremist parties. Britain is now betting that the country will retain its historically bottomless reserves of sang-froid in the face of a threat that is orders of magnitude more dangerous than the threat of the I.R.A.; that there is something in the makeup of Britons that makes them more stoical than, say, Americans in New York about bombs going off; that the quiet tenor of the British fight against Islamist terrorism thus far is a sign of good manners and forbearance, not of abject fright or sneaking sympathy; and that Britain in the age of the Diana funeral is the same country it was during the blitz.

It’s a risky bet.

They want to fight terrorism by tolerating it? That’s not just a risky bet, it’s a losing one.

Many Brits believe that the stoically tolerating abuse is a form of bravery. This is effective in some situations, like during the Nazi Blitzkrieg. But it makes no sense when dealing with terrorism. Stoically tolerating abuse only makes sense when your enemy is larger, smarter or more powerful than you are. It’s an idiotic strategy to use againt an enemy who is smaller, stupider and much weaker, as the Islamists are.

The enemy in Britian is hiding in plain sight, the police know where they live, but instead of adopting a zero tolerance attitude towards extremism, instead of plainly enforcing the rules and expecting everyone to follow them, British politicians tolerate terrorism while demanding that the population accept abuse, death, and mutilation graciously.

This doesn’t lead to “harmony among social groups”.

We learned a few decades ago that tolerating crime leads to more crime. It’s no coincidence that stoic and tolerant Britain also has an over-the-top crime rate, while forebearance-free America’s crime rate has fallen.

We also know that tolerating terrorism leads to more terrorism. I’d guess that, if they continue to follow this course, Islamists will win significant political power in Britain, as the IRA did. Winning political power is extremism’s goal. The IRA was also smaller, stupider and weaker than the Brits, but they won their little war.

When good intentions lead to an inevitably bad result, maybe it’s time for a change.

..a sordid American tragedy, told via aerobics, by smiling Japanese, featuring a mugger who vaguely resembles George Costanza with a diaper on his head.

Link thanks to Jewlicious

Sorry posting has been light – I’ve been at the cabin by the lake, doing some repairs..

Just a quick question – does anyone know how to keep geese and ducks from pooping all over a dock?

This hostile owl is supposed to scare them away, but as dock decor goes, it’s fairly unattractive. Will an ordinary windsock (maybe in pretty colors) scare them away, or does the windsock have to resemble an owl?

Iran is rationing gasoline supplies. Via Reuters

Despite being the second biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iran has relied heavily on gasoline imports for many years.

It lacks refining capacity after directing most of its oil revenues into social spending.

Social spending??

Ann Althouse quotes from a great letter to the NYT, visualizing a school that favors boys instead of girls.

Rosemary Esmay would have enjoyed a school like that. So would Ann. So would I. It’s not clear that schools totally favor girls, but it is clear that schools favor passivity.

Speaking of institutions that favor passivity, imagine a religion that gives you:

..extra credit for resisting authority.. having points deducted for being compliant with arbitrary rules and meaningless deadlines.

Some things you can only imagine…

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