"Day By Day" In Boise Newspaper

The 'net comic strip Day By Day has been a huge favorite among mil-bloggers over the last several years (the writer, Chris Muir, did a strip for Project Valour-IT last November); while there's no doubt that it's a "conservative" commentary, it's smart -- it doesn't need to hit the reader over the head with the points it's trying to make.

The other main "conservative" comic strip out there is "Mallard Fillmore". Personally, I've always thought that strip lacks one thing I normally look for in my comics -- humor. Our local Boise newspaper has been running Mallard Fillmore alongside Doonesbury on the editorial page for some time; I've always hoped that Day By Day would try to make the transition to hard copy, and hopefully replace the duck here. However, our paper, the Idaho Statesman, is a little bit "slow" when it come to web-based content (the few "blogs" they have on the paper's website don't even allow comments or have blogrolls; of course, we in Idaho are spoiled by the excellent Huckleberries Online up in the northern part of the state), so I didn't expect them to be an early Day By Day adopter.

Therefore, I was happily surprised today when I saw in my morning paper that Day By Day had replaced Mallard Fillmore on the "right" side of the editorial comic strips; the change was accompanied by an explanation that they were testing the new strip. I figured that everyone would immediately recognize the superiority of the new offering.

I guessed wrong. Kevin Richert, the Statesman's editorial page editor, posted on his blog today that the initial response he had gotten was negative -- the people who were writing in wanted the duck back:

One e-mailer suggested we're dumping the duck in an attempt "to enforce your liberal agenda on us even more." (Not so. "Day by Day" actually strikes me as a pretty good counter to "Doonesbury.")
One e-mailer suggested we were caving in to a couple of milquetoast critics who don't like "Mallard." (Also not so. We've run "Mallard" for a shade over a year, and I've been surprised at the number of calls and e-mails I've gotten criticizing the strip. No scientific polling, but "Mallard's" negative approval rating seems to run much higher than "Doonesbury.")
Anyway, I'm hoping you give "Day by Day" a close look; as we've said, this is a trial run. Just judge it on its merits and give it a fair shot. I'll look forward to hearing from you.
Thinking about it more carefully, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Idaho has a lot of "Bill Sali Republicans" (represented in the Idaho blogosphere by Trish and Halli) who share the following characteristics: they generally lack military experience, have a pathological distrust of the U.S. government (to the point where they think that President Bush is trying to give away our sovereignty to a "North American Union" and that he ordered the 9/11 attacks), and lack a sense of humor. I figure these are the types of people who would oppose Day By Day and would want to keep the duck.

If you live in southwestern Idaho and don't consider yourself to be this kind of person, I urge you to contact Kevin Richert at the Statesman and tell him to keep Day By Day. If you're a liberal, I'm sure you won't, because Day By Day presents the conservative case much more effectively than Mallard Fillmore ever could. However, if you're not a liberal, and you have a sense of humor, you'll want to send that E-mail.

Update 0029 04 Jun: Adam defends the duck! He indicates that he, if fact, does have a sense of humor, but likes Mallard Fillmore anyway. He also risks his membership in the 101st Fighting Keyboardists by saying he doesn't like Day By Day. Completely absent is any indication that his sense of humor extends to understanding the concept of "sarcastic hyperbole" with respect to my description of "Bill Sali Republicans". (He didn't seem to understand my "SPUD-LIB Initiative" either, so he's consistent. An alternate explanation is that, as I've suspected for a while, I'm just not that funny. I think the latter is more likely.)

Boise And The Rest Of The World

I really love living in the Boise area; it's a nice-sized city, with good schools, and wonderful outdoor recreational activities for those who enjoy them. (I'm not one of those people -- as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that I really was meant for the age of heating and air conditioning.)

The people of the Boise area seem have an inordinate interest in what the rest of the country thinks of us. Lately, we've had fairly good news -- Boise was recently named to one of the "Top 10 Places To Live" lists, and of course the Boise St. football team beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in January. Another thing we've been proud of has been our very own bowl game, which was very good this season.

Unfortunately, the local bowl game has turned from a source of civic pride into a potential fount of abuse in one day. The bowl, originally called the "Humanitarian Bowl", has been called the MPC Computers Bowl for the last several years. Since the title sponsor has been hemorrhaging money, however, they decided not to renew their contract, so a new title sponsor was needed. The new title sponsor was announced yesterday, resulting in a hue and cry throught the Valley the likes of which hasn't been seen since the design of the Idaho State Quarter was announced.

What was the cause of this despair? It turns out the new title sponsor of the bowl game is Roady's Truck Stops. I don't understand what the fuss is about; I mean, c'mon, do you really think that coastal sportwriters and TV announcers are going to make fun of a bowl game named after a truck stop in Boise? You do, huh? Yeah, you're probably right.

USS Boise Coming Home

Back in December, I blogged about the trip USS Boise (SSN 764) made across the Arctic on her way from Norfolk to a WestPac deployment. It looks like she took the long way home; she'll be arriving back in Norfolk later today following a trip around the world:
The crew demonstrated the Submarine Force('s) ability to make full use of every asset they have in the most productive way possible. Boise deployed on October 30(,) 2006 and transited under the (Arctic) ice.
While deployed, Boise completed a wide range of joint requirements supporting national security in the Pacific and Central Command Areas of Responsibility before returning through the Suez Canal and then home via the Mediterranean and Atlantic completing the circumnavigation of the globe on Nuclear Power.
During the deployment, Boise's crew members served as ambassadors for the United States Navy during port visits to Yokosuka, Japan; Guam; Singapore; Limassol, Cyprus; and Toulon, France.
[Parenthetical spelling, punctuation and grammar corrections mine] Now those last three are some decent port visits! Welcome home, men of the Boise -- get some rest, you deserve it.

Update 2247 30 May: She made it home; some pictures are at this link. It appears that her "around the world" deployment wasn't in the original plan; they used Boise to fill in for USS Newport News (SSN 750) in the Fifth Fleet AOR after Newport News' January collision.

Update 2237 31 May: Navy NewsStand photos of the Boise's return are here and here.


Well well well.

What have we here?

Where are the human-rights "activists" protesting this extrajudicial, open-ended detention?
Federal quarantine for TB traveler

ATLANTA - A man with a rare and dangerous form of tuberculosis ignored doctors' advice and took two trans-Atlantic flights, leading to the first U.S. government-ordered quarantine since 1963, health officials said Tuesday.

The man, whom officials did not identify, is at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital in respiratory isolation.
He is not facing prosecution, health officials said.
Nope, he's just not getting out.

There will be no lawyers.

There will be no habeus corpus.

There will be no charges.

He'll just be held prisoner, because he's a risk to society.

For an indefinite amount of time.

And there won't be a peep from the left!

The man said the CDC contacted him in Rome during his honeymoon, telling him that he had to return home and that he had to turn himself in to Italian authorities, be isolated and be treated there, the Journal-Constitution reported.

"He was told in no uncertain terms not to take a flight back," Cetron said.

In an attempt to evade the no-fly list that the CDC had put him on, he and his wife flew into Canada and drove to the U.S., he told the newspaper.

"I'm a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person," he told the paper. "This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I've cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary-confinement-in-Italy thing."
Oh, OTHER than that little quarantine order, boo-hoo, I did all you asked!

The quarantine order was the first since 1963, when the government quarantined a patient with smallpox, according to the CDC.
Health officials worry about "multidrug-resistant" TB, which can withstand the mainline antibiotics isoniazid and rifampin. The man was infected with something even worse "extensively drug-resistant" TB, also called XDR-TB, which resists many drugs used to treat the infection.

There have been 17 U.S. XDR-TB cases since 2000, according to CDC statistics.
Why are not hordes of lawyers and protesters descending to free this poor man who broke no laws?

It's what they do for the soulless killers at Guantanamo!

Clearly, this proves they are not motivated by any kind of pure "principal."

They just want to harm the war effort.

But they don't want to get XDR-TB, I mean, that would be crazy!

Just send him to Gitmo and be done with it!

Here's an idea, have the CDC just declare all the terrorists to be health risks, and have them quarantined on "doctor's orders."

There'd be no points to be scored against George Bush then, in fighting for their release, and we could hold them forever without any more fuss!

Until the tribunal-ordered hangings start, anyway!

USS San Juan In Souda Bay

Navy NewsStand has some pictures (here, here, and here) of USS San Juan (SSN 751) heading into a port call last week in Souda Bay, Crete. Here's one of them:

I've never been to Crete, but I've heard it's a good liberty port. Does anyone have any good Souda Bay stories?

Military Affairs Live-Blog For Idaho Senate Candidate

Alan (who also writes the milblog MREeater) is hosting a live-blog for Larry LaRocco, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate here in Idaho, over at Idablue.

I was able to jump in with a question about whether Larry would support an increased attack submarine buy rate (as is included in the current version of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act, over the Navy's objections); here's what Larry said in response:
I would be supportive of the stepped up schedule for the production of the Virginia Class subs. Senator Jack Reed and I entered Congress the same year. Jack is a couple of years younger than me but we're the same height and many people used to confuse us.... in the early days. We became friends because we were both US Army vets. I value his opinion on matters dealing with the armed services and I think he is on the right track here. Yes, I'm concerned about how we pay for larger weapons systems but we have put a great deal of emphasis on land based forces and we have neglected other areas. It looks like the House and Senate are on the right track here. (I do recognize that Rhode Island has a lot to gain from this acceleration but so does the nation and our defense.)
Sounds pretty promising. You can read the rest of the liveblog questions and answers here.

Navy Updates Fraternization Policy

Navy NewsStand has a story about how the CNO recently issued an updated "Navy Fraternization Policy" instruction. The new policy (an HTML version can be found here; the PDF file is here) has supposedly been updated to reflect the more "joint" nature of 21st century military service; apparently, the previously-issued policy hadn't been clear enough that a Navy officer can't bang an enlisted person just because they're in the Army or whatever.

While all of us think back to how we have never seen officer/enlisted gambling (especially not in the form of NCAA Basketball pools), I want to direct your attention to an example the article uses to illustrate a potentially prohibited behavior:
For example, the executive officer (XO) of the command holds a Monday Night Football party every Monday night during football season. She invites the wardroom and the chief's mess. She is guilty of fraternization because the XO is in a leadership position, and she is creating an unduly familiar relationship with members of her command. However, if she held a Super Bowl Party annually and invited the entire command, or the wardroom and the chief's mess, this would not be fraternization as it would be considered a social event, not unlike a holiday party. However, the XO cannot invite only selected enlisted members, as that constitutes disparate treatment and it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline.
So what are they saying here? To be honest, the real point flew over my head -- I personally don't see anything wrong with a weekly get together -- because I was fixated on the story using a female XO as the "guilty" party. How did this get past the Diversity Directorate at NavPers? It seems they wouldn't want to make people think that female XOs just go around breaking rules, but this article could lead one to that conclusion. Or did they decide it's more important to make people think that a female XO is completely unremarkable, and they use little stories like that to reinforce this point? The world wonders...

DVD Review: Letters From Iwo Jima

Finally got around to watching Clint Eastwood's Oscar-nominated film Letters From Iwo Jima tonight. I had wanted to see it in the theater, but it only showed in the artsy-fartsy theater downtown here in the Boise area, and I never got around to it. I wish I had seen it on the big screen.

A lot of the reviews of the film when it came out said that it was a surprisingly powerful "anti-war" film. To me, it wasn't "anti-war"; it was an "anti-suicidal war" picture. The movie, which tells the story of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective, shows that there are a lot of similarities between our Japanese adversaries of WWII and our terrorist enemies of today: An "alien" culture that is hard to understand, an eagerness to die for a greater power, no hesitancy to violate the Law of Armed Combat, and a steadfast belief that, all evidence to the contrary, theirs is a holy cause.

Of course, one of the main goals of the movie is to make us realize that our adversaries had (and have) the same dreams, hopes, and fears as we do. Those without military experience seem to have a tendency to believe that American servicepeople don't understand this, but we do. While it makes it easy to think that you're destroying an "aimpoint", or ship, or some other inanimate object, we all know deep down that our enemies are people like ourselves. It may be difficult for us to understand their motivations, but we certainly try -- it makes us more effective in opposing an enemy if we know who they are.

This movie is well worth your time if you want to see a cinematic masterpiece that helps you really understand one of the darker sides of human nature. While Americans have a hard time understanding why someone would give up their life when they have better choices, it's important to know that not everyone thinks like we do. It also provides hope; if we can be good friends with a people against whom we fought an unimaginably vicious war not long ago, maybe in a generation or two we can reach the same understanding with the Muslim world. Letters from Iwo Jima gets 4 starshells out of five.

Update 2021 29 May: The inimitable ninme tried to leave a comment, but for some reason Blogger has a vendetta against her, so she wasn't successful. She was kind enough to E-mail me her questions / comment, however:
Did you see the first one? And if so, do you think the second one stands alone well enough that you can watch it by itself? Cuz I'm not keen on watching the first one, but I am keen on the second.
I did see the first one (Flags of our Fathers), but if you haven't seen it, it won't in any way lessen your enjoyment of Letters. The two movies, while covering the same subject, are really independent of one another.

SecNav Memorial Day Message To The Fleet

From the Honorable Donald C. Winter:
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of rememberance for those who have died in our nation's service. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on Union and Confederate Soldiers graves in Arlington National Cemetery. Ever since, Americans have set aside a day in May to observe Memorial Day and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation.

In December of 2000, the "National Moment of Remembrance" Resolution was passed, reminding Americans of the true purpose of this day of reflection. The resolution asks all Americans "to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps" at 3:00 p.m. local time. This year, as we reflect on the achievements and sacrifices of all who have served, I encourage you to remember and honor all those who have lost their lives defending this nation's ideals of freedom and democracy, not for just a moment, but rather throughout the day. We owe them a debt of gratitude for preserving the blessings of liberty that we claim as our birthright.

To our Sailors, Marines and their families, I once again thank you for your contributions, dedication and service to the Navy, Marine Corps, and the United States of America. May God bless all of you.

Boise Area Memorial Day Weekend Garden Update

It's a great time of year to be in southwestern Idaho. As I was driving south of Boise today, I saw that the first cutting of brome grass had been taken in, and I was still able to see snow on the tops of the Owyhee Mountains to the south. In suburbia, the flowers are really starting to bloom in full force. Since my last update, the "wild" roses in our yard have really taken off, thusly:

We call them our "wild" roses because they're the only flowering plants in our backyard that survived the water being turned off for 11 months by the bank that owned the house before they sold it to us. As a result of their hardship, they have a little bit of an attitude, and won't stay in the nice pretty shapes into which SubBasket tries to mold them. I still like them, though.

Chap Finds A Winner

Chapomatic found what appears to be a video of Taiwanese submariners doing... something... on stage that is not to be missed:

As Chap says:
I know that submariners have a lot in common, but I don’t remember any other submariners doing something like this sober. I guess you have to be pretty hardcore, and a little nuts, to drive around in Guppies these days.
I really like the rendition of the Submarine Song, though…
Their version of the Submarine Song is very similar to ours, except they probably don't get arrested for singing it in public like we do.

USS Nevada Officer Does Good

Check out this Navy NewsStand story about a LT(j.g.) from USS Nevada (SSBN 733) who recently saved a woman's life while on liberty. Excerpt:
Lt.j.g. Travon Santerre carried Jennifer Stiffler to his car and drove her to the hospital while she was having seizures, April 15. The doctors said his actions directly contributed to saving her life.
“I was out in town when a couple approached me and said a friend of theirs had hit her head and was in trouble,” said Santerre. “While I helped Jennifer, the other girl was getting sick and the guy was frozen with shock from what was happening.”
When Santerre approached Stiffler and began helping her she said to him, “I don’t want to die.” He said that’s when his Navy training kicked in.
“My training directly contributed to how I handled the situation,” said Santerre. “I was able to take control and remain calm. In the submariner community, we are trained to handle high stress situations on an everyday basis, so I never once got overwhelmed or felt there was nothing I could do. Though I’m no doctor, I kept her airways clear and got her to the center as quickly as I could.”
The article goes on to say how LT (j.g.) Santerre sustained a back injury during the rescue that's kept him LIMDU ever since, and says how his shipmates have been supporting him. I've never done an "off-crew", but I'm guessing laid up in bed isn't the best way to spend it. So, for doing the right thing at the cost of some quality liberty, I salute you, LT (j.g.) Santerre!

Movie Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End

We finished up our May Movie Spectacular Triple Crown tonight by seeing the 8 PM showing of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The theater was about 80% full for the first showing, but I heard from someone in the lobby afterwards that the 8:05 PM showing was only about 1/3 full. (Our local theater had five (!) showings starting between 8 and 8:30, and another five starting between 11:30 PM and midnight.)

If you're thinking of seeing PotC3, one thing is sure -- don't even think about going unless you saw the 2nd one. The story picks right up where that one left off, and they don't even try filling in the backstory for those who didn't see "Dead Man's Chest". I don't want to give away too much, but parts of the movie I enjoyed were the "ultimate trim party" and really good CGI. I also laughed at the monkey a few times. Keith Richards wasn't as good as I had hoped, but he was still a highlight.

I can't really say it was a disappointment, because I honestly didn't expect too much out of it. The Y-chromosome-lacking members of my household are really big Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom fans (one for each) so they seemed to like it. I normally like longer movies that use the time to develop the characters (or blow extra stuff up) but the three Pirates movies have always made me think, "This thing is still going on? Why?"

I don't mind suspending disbelief, but only if it serves a purpose. The script of this movie had 17th or 18th century people using sail travelling between the Caribbean and Singapore in essentially no time flat. I could see them doing it if there was a purpose, but in this case it only seemed to be so they could have Chow Yun-Fat as a pirate, and since he's Asian, they had to have him live in Asia. If you're featuring Davy Jones' Locker as an actual place, why not say Asian pirates set up a base in the Caribbean? It was distracting to all the people in the audience who have actually sailed across the Pacific a few times.

When we were driving home, my youngest son said, "Well, the three "3" movies in May were sure a disappointment. If The Simpsons Movie and Transformers end up sucking, I'm going to give up on summer 'blockbusters' forever." (Re: the "Three 3s", we both ended up agreeing that Spiderman 3 was the best of a mediocre lot, and Shrek 3 was the worst.) I've been through enough bad "summer smash movies" (read "Godzilla") to know what he was talking about, but this movie still had enough going for it for me to keep some faith in Hollywood. Overall, I give it three unnecessary plot twists out of five.

Reid Despondent

I loved this moment from a few days ago.

Poor Harry Reid looked so old, defeated, and despondent!

He finally realized the President wasn't going to go along with his political games and agree to sign "non-binding" withdrawal timetables for the troops, in order to get all the funding he wanted -- plus billions in juicy extra pork spending!

A little bribe, a little wink, and all sides could claim victory.

So Reid thought.

And then the Democrats could continue to snipe and ankle-bite and complain the President wasn't listening to the will of the people by not invoking the non-binding withdrawal timetable, all the while avoiding any kind of responsibility themselves to provide a solution, or to have to take a real stand to really cut off the funding.

Democrats made a deal with the Devil in pandering to their anti-war lefty base and thought they could finesse it.

But Bush wouldn't play ball.


Looks like total capitulation is the only option, Reid! You painted yourself into a corner!

How's it feel to alienate half your base, and the most vocal part at that?

Here's the sweet video clip, it's the second one on the page with a brief commercial intro.

Here is his pathetic whining:
"To say I was disappointed in the meeting is an understatement," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. "I really did expect that the president would accept some accountability for what we're trying to accomplish here."

Thought he'd pull you out of the fire, eh?

He continued to ramble, weak and glum:
What are we trying to accomplish?

We, the people's body, the Congress, are speaking for the American people.

The American people want our troops to come home. The American people expect the president to respond to some basic things, like a timeline, like to make sure there's troop readiness.

And the answer that we got time after time in the meeting we had this morning is the president would take no responsibility. That's too bad. We wanted to make sure that there was an understanding from the president's representatives that this had nothing to do with domestic discretionary spending -- even though they are emergencies. We said we want the president to have accountability.

We do not want anything to take away from that fact. So if you want to do away with all domestic discretionary spending, we will take, in exchange for that, in a split second, accountability for the president what's going on in Iraq. What we passed, with the president even being able to waive some of the timelines and the readiness accountability -- no, everything was no.
Go to bed old man!

When Will The Next Sub Be Named?

A couple of weeks ago, the SecNav announced the names of the next two destroyers -- USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and USS Spruance (DDG 111). This got me thinking back to a post by Midnightwatch Cowboy last month wondering about what the Navy will name the next Virginia-class submarine, the SSN 780. Since it's been 2 1/2 years since the last one, New Mexico (SSN 779) was named, it seems like it should happen fairly soon.

Interestingly, Wikipedia already lists the name of the 780 boat as USS Massachusetts; of course, since pretty much anyone can edit a Wiki, I wouldn't accept that as the gospel. One of Midwatch Cowboy's commenters said they had heard USS Puerto Rico floating around; personally, I think California is past due (although, deep down, I'm rooting for Idaho).

What have any of you heard about this mystery?

Bell-ringer 2337 24 May: Edited to correct an embarrassing typo on Midwatch Cowboy's name, and to add a link to Vigilus' musings on a potential USS Idaho.

Edwards Unmasked

John Edwards, face of the Democratic party, is either dangerously stupid, dangerously evil, or dangerously dishonest.

Probably all three.

This evening I saw him on CNN while at the gym. His "arguments" are ridiculous.

First, he begins with this point of view:
JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any compromise that funds the war through the end of the fiscal year is not a compromise at all. It's a capitulation.
The President today, however, made the point that the reality of the situation today is that al-Qaeda is in Iraq and planning to make attacks on the US from its enclaves there -- not a statement of opinion, but of hard intelligence -- so it is vital to continue fighting them there rather than retreat and let them plot against us in safety.

That is obvious, yet this is the position of Edwards:
EDWARDS: What they should do is continue to submit funding bills supporting the troops to the president with a timetable for withdrawal. And if the president of the United States, George Bush, continues to veto those bills, it's the president who's deciding he's not going to fund the troops. And ultimately that would actually require George Bush to start withdrawing troops from Iraq.
Interesting logic there, isn't it? Bush must accept a withdrawal of the troops, or he will be responsible for...a withdrawal of the troops. And it will be Bush's fault!

Edwards then portrays the President as the real threat to be stopped, rather than the terrorists plotting to kill us all:
This president is not going to negotiate about this, Wolf.

How clear could anything be?

He will not negotiate. He will not compromise. He does not think he's capable of doing anything wrong. He has to be stopped.

And the power that the Congress has is its constitutional power to fund. And they need to use that power to force this president down a different course. It's that simple.
Wolf Blitzer asked Edwards how he squared his desire to cut the war off at the knees this instant with this reality:
BLITZER: The president spoke out today at the U.S. Coast Guard commencement and he said the threat right now from al Qaeda in Iraq is enormous. And he made the comparison to Vietnam.

Listen to what he said.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland. The enemy in Iraq does.


BLITZER: All right, what do you say to the president, Senator?
And right then and there, I said to myself, if Edwards claims Bush must stop fighting this threat because he was responsible for creating it, I will laugh myself silly!

And this is what he said:
EDWARDS: I say the president has used this term that he uses over and over -- global war on terror -- as a political slogan. He uses it to justify everything he does -- Guantanamo, the ongoing presence in Iraq, spying on Americans. He uses it to bludgeon people who disagree with him, who dissent and speak out in this democracy against it.

And he doesn't deal with the fact that he's completely devastated our military, both men and women and equipment, during the course of this war in Iraq, made us more vulnerable.

And on top of that, he's done incredible damage to the America's moral authority in the world. And it's that strength and moral authority that's required in order for America to lead. That's what the president of the United States has to focus on.
That's just the warm-up, it gets even better! To his credit, Blitzer, somewhat aghast, pressed on for a clarification of that string of bizarre non-sequitors:
BLITZER: The president has just declassified intelligence, though, suggesting that Osama bin Laden instructed al Qaeda in Iraq to plot attacks against the United States from their sanctuary, from within Iraq.

We're going to be speaking later with Fran Townsend, the president's homeland security director.

Don't they have a point when they say al Qaeda in Iraq potentially could represent a huge threat against U.S. interests outside of Iraq?

EDWARDS: Yes, BUT they created this mess in the Iraq War.

And what is Osama bin Laden doing still at large? [go to hell, Edwards, for that crack! How many shots did Clinton have? -- ed.]

I mean, this is all the responsibility of the president of the United States and this administration. The reason there are terrorists actively engaged in what's happening in Iraq right now is because of the mess that George Bush and his administration have created there, completely ignoring the advice of military leadership -- uniformed military leadership. [advice of the military leadership? What advice? -- ed.]

So to now use a mess that they created to justify their ongoing so-called global war on terror makes absolutely no sense.

Makes no sense?

No, Edwards, you make no sense!

Because a threat exists in Iraq for whatever reason, if you can blame Bush for it, he can't continue to act against it? What's he supposed to do, Edwards? Go back in time and HAVE YOU CHANGE YOUR OWN VOTE AUTHORIZING FORCE IN IRAQ???

This is a leading candidate of the Democratic Party and former Vice Presidential nominee talking!

And he is a raving lunatic!

And the Democratic party embraces him rather than marginalizes these highly dangerous and outrageous comments!

Blitzer just couldn't believe what he was hearing:
BLITZER: Let me ask you this, Senator.

Before the U.S. leaves Iraq, shouldn't the U.S. try to destroy al Qaeda in Iraq so that they don't represent a threat down the road?

EDWARDS: Wolf, we have a responsibility -- and the president of the United States has a responsibility -- to identify al Qaeda everywhere it's operating. And not just al Qaeda -- any terrorist group -- anywhere that it's operated. And use every tool available to us to stop them before they can do us harm. And that means military intelligence, our diplomatic tools, our alliances. All those things are an immediate responsibility of the president of the United States.

But what's missing from this administration is any kind of long- term plan to undermine the forces that create terrorism, the forces that create moral authority for America to lead, education, health care, fighting global poverty, fighting the spread of disease.

I mean those are the things that undermine the forces of terrorism, and we're doing nothing about any of those things.
So...we fight al-Qaeda in Iraq with education and health care.


First, it's a blatant lie that we're doing "nothing about any of those things" -- and Edwards knows it.

And second, where do we build those schools and hospitals? In Iraq in the middle of a war zone? Where al-Qaeda blows them up if we don't fight them?

Or here in the U.S., will that stop terrorism or is that just pork for your lefty bleeding heart idiot supporters?

What the hell are you talking about, you blithering moronic twit?

Edwards must be booed off the national stage and ridden out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered, for these totally irresponsible and dangerous statements!

Can't even Democrats realize this man is going to get them killed?

Fjordman Speaks

Some comments found at LGF by Fjordman:
I sometimes wonder whether what we are seeing is some kind of Multicultural anti-Genesis. God, according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, created the world in several steps. So anti-Western Multiculturalists are now trying to uncreate it in successive steps.

God is dead. We killed him and dumped his decaying corpse in a ditch next to the highway to Utopia. We burnt his teachings and placed them in an urne, stashed away underneath a parking lot at the United Nations headquarters. He dared to make rules and separate right from wrong, the self-righteous bastard. He had to go.

Instead, our children have become sacrificial offerings at the Altar of Eternal Progress, dedicated to the God of Absolute Equality, an angry deity who demands human suffering and large-scale destruction as token proofs of his disciples’ total submission to his teachings.
Another commenter adds,
The name you are looking for is Moloch.

Fjordman continues,
It is possible to view the history of the West as one of freeing oneself from the constraints of the past, and of granting equality to ever-expanding circles of people, starting with universal suffrage for men, later for women, then equality for all ethnic, religious and sexual subgroups and eventually even for non-citizens and enemies. The West has led the world in innovation for centuries. Yet perhaps this disposition, which has been the Western Man’s greatest strength, can also be his curse. Perhaps he sometimes breaks down restraints that are needed, and insists on equality where no equality naturally exists. His self-image has been to question tradition on every level, to always move forward. The Western Man has freed himself from the restraints of his traditions, his religion, his culture and the memories of his past. More recently, he has also rid himself off his sex, his skin color, his very physical being. He is, in essence, nothing, and is thus constrained by nothing. The Western Man is thus free at least.

The Western man was the first to create parliamentary democracy, the first to reach the North and the South Pole and the first to travel to the Moon. He always likes to go where no man has gone before him. The sad thing is that there is now so little unchartered territory, so few boundaries left to breach. What to do? Well, embracing organized national suicide is something no man has ever done before, presumably for very good reasons. The Western Man smells an opportunity to once again lead mankind into unchartered territory, and boldly seizes it. He may not be sensible, but at least he’s first, and to the Western Man, that is what matters above all else.

The Remnant


Once again, many threads of thought are pulled together in a single place.

Please bear with the following, as I list a string of seemingly unconnected random ideas which I've had for some time, and which in that magic of internet synchronicity I find are all brought together in the latest fascinating essay by the perceptive and eloquent Bill Whittle...

Sometimes the news lately has seemed like it emanates from some insane bizarro world in which pampered elites gleefully rush to surrender civilization by throwing open the gates to the barbarians, by either refusing to secure the borders to colonists -- not immigrants -- and by retreating in the face of the jihad war.

All morality seems inverted: Bush is Hitler, Israelis are Nazis, jihadists are misunderstood martyrs, captured illegal combatants are political prisoners.

I wondered about the worst case outcome of this.

The worst case -- which is still avoidable -- is that this is exactly what the decadent Decline and Fall of all previous great civilizations has looked, felt, and smelled like, and well, here we are:

Western Civilization being cancelled due to lack of interest.

Great civilizations fall due to a collective mental giving-up, before the physical collapse.

Thanks, Boomers.

Even if inevitable, however, I realized that new civilizations arise from the old, and with today's information technology and communication, perhaps the intervening "Dark Age" would be quite quick.

Perhaps even a barely perceptible blip.

Because I hoped that perhaps there would be a cadre of people who, like the Founding Fathers, would stop forward in the time of crisis and lead the sheep to a new pasture.

I recalled, in those chaotic days after 9/11, searching for information about the Threat that had apparently been sadly ignored for many years, and for answers as to how to proceed, that I came across on CSPAN coverage of a Q&A session at a bookstore with an obscure classics professor promoting his new book.

This was Victor Davis Hanson.

And someone in the audience asked him what his knowledge of history told us about such crises.

And he responded, to my relief, that previously unknown leaders would step forward, or have importance thrust upon them willingly or not.

The Old Order has tried to damp down the emergence of such people, and to remove anyone who might rock the boat of the corrupt institutions (witness the set-up and outser of Wolfowitz at the World Bank).

And Prof. Hanson ironically had no idea how he himself would become such a leader in the time ahead!

I also thought that some Saving Grace would arrive in the form of a reversion to classical Virtues. A sort of neo-Victorianism, at least in terms of notions of honor and duty and courage and gentlemanliness.

And in a new appreciation of our civic origins.

To take such pride in our past would of course mean a rejection of the guilt inherent in the marxist weapons of multiculturalism and moral relativism.

I also mused that perhaps the Mars frontier would re-invigorate the American spirit.

And I thought even about the legendary city of Tanelorn, from the fantasy writings of Michael Moorcock, which, though difficult to find, provided respite and rejuvenation to the tragic Eternal Champions when all seemed lost.

And I thought of key differences in cultures, such as the islamic (especially arab islamic) elevation of lying to infidels to not merely a virtue but a holy duty, in order to take advantage of them to benefit the muslims.
“Taqiyya” is the religiously-sanctioned doctrine, with its origins in Shi’a Islam but now practiced by non-Shi’a as well, of deliberate dissimulation about religious matters that may be undertaken to protect Islam, and the Believers. A related term, of broader application, is “kitman,” which is defined as “mental reservation.” An example of “Taqiyya” would be the insistence of a Muslim apologist that “of course” there is freedom of conscience in Islam, and then quoting that Qur’anic verse -- “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” But the impression given will be false, for there has been no mention of the Muslim doctrine of abrogation, or naskh, whereby such an early verse as that about “no compulsion in religion” has been cancelled out by later, far more intolerant and malevolent verses. In any case, history shows that within Islam there is, and always has been, “compulsion in religion” for Muslims, and for non-Muslims. The “compulsion” for Muslims comes from the treatment of apostasy as an act punishable by death. And though “dhimmis” are allowed to practice their religion, they do so under conditions of such burdens and restrictions that many, not as an act of conscience but rather as a response to inexorable Muslim pressure, have converted (or “reverted”) to Islam.

“Kitman” is close to “taqiyya,” but rather than outright dissimulation, it consists in telling only a part of the truth, with “mental reservation” justifying the omission of the rest. One example may suffice. When a Muslim maintains that “jihad” really means “a spiritual struggle,” and fails to add that this definition is a recent one in Islam (little more than a century old), he misleads by holding back, and is practicing “kitman.” When he adduces, in support of this doubtful proposition, the hadith in which Muhammad, returning home from one of his many battles, is reported to have said (as known from a chain of transmitters, or isnad), that he had returned from “the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad” and does not add what he also knows to be true, that this is a “weak” hadith, regarded by the most-respected muhaddithin as of doubtful authenticity, he is further practicing “kitman.”
I often found frustration directed at me, the messenger, when pointing out this well-established directive from their own history and jurispridence and scriptures to fellow infidels; they would splutter that I was "setting up" the poor muslims to never be believed no matter what they said, even when they seemed to come in peace!

In other words, it was I who was the obstacle to Peace by counselling that their culture made such declarations specifically unbelievable and were likely carefully-constructed lies.

They couldn't understand why someone would deliberately poison the Well of Trust by lying for short-term gain when so much more could be achieved through cooperation.

This was a cultural blind-spot of the West -- we really are different in that way.

I didn't put it all together at the time until I saw a recent episode on TV of Numb3rs, which features a brainy math professor who consults with the FBI. In that recent episode he discusses Game Theory, and how to play the classic Prisoner's Dilemma.

The crux of the Dilemma is whether or not to Cooperate, or to Screw the Other Guy, without knowing what the opponent will do, with different payoffs depending on the mutual choices.

The muslim strategy of lying for short-term gain is essentially to always Screw the Other Guy. It leads to a horrible way of life in which corruption and cheating is a way of life.

The Western World follows the optimal winning strategy known as Tit-for-Tat, as explained in Numb3rs, as advice for how to negotiate with a dishonest prisoner who has important information.

Whittle actually describes all this:
But as we see from The Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, there is an unnatural island of stability that is far more successful, and it is not simply trusting everyone and being all-cooperating all the time. That strategy is the worst, because it rewards being screwed by competing strategies that eat if for breakfast everytime. It is de-selected. It vanishes from the gene pool, so to speak. You see no society like that in the real world, and now you know why. Are you listening, Marxists? It doesn’t work.

But Tit-for-Tat combines generosity and toughness. And look at the terms used to describe the most successful strategic version of Tit-for-Tat: Nice. Retaliating. Forgiving. Non-envious.

Now, this is where my own analysis kicks in, because frankly, nice, retaliating, forgiving and non-envious pretty much sums up how I feel about the West in general and the United States in particular. The web of trust and commerce in Western societies is unthinkable in the Third World because the prosperity they produce are fat juicy targets for people raised on Screw the Other Guy. Crime and corruption are stealing, and stealing is Screwing the Other Guy. It’s short-term win, long-term loss.
Whittle in his essay hits all the topics I just listed above, pulling them together into a cohesive thought. He begins in Part 1:
I’ve written a dozen or so major essays since I hung my shingle over this little corner of cyberspace, and received wonderful e-mails about all of them. But two – the last two – have generated a very specific response: more passionate; desperate, even.

The first was Tribes, which basically posited that there were people who relied on themselves and people who relied on the State. The second was Seeing the Unseen, which took a look at conspiracy theories and the mental illness required to believe in ‘chemtrails’ and the 9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB pathology.

Those both generated reams and reams of heartfelt sentiment, and that sentiment was the much the same time and time again.

I thought I was all alone, people said. And I see this sense of despair and resignation spreading all across the web; from individuals in comment sections, or in lonely posts on obscure blogs.

Now here’s what’s interesting: this response is the same, again and again, although the stimulus is different. It might be increasing public irrationality and paranoia, or falling educational standards, or unchecked illegal immigration, or activist judges. Maybe it’s tolerance of crime, or endless lawsuits, or general mean-spiritedness. Perhaps it’s rampant defeatism, cynicism, a lack of common decency, and the sense that courage and honor are dying qualities that time is passing by.

And maybe it’s the dawning realization that our elites in politics, academia and entertainment (which controls our mythology) are leading the charge not to salvation but to the cliffs that seem so obvious to so many common people.

Something seems to be failing, something essential, as if all the nails and glue that hold a house together were dissolving all at once. And many people – perhaps you are one of them – watch all this happening and feel powerless to stop it.

Well, you are not alone.

So many stimuli, and always the same response: has the world gone mad?
He then goes on to outline the Prisoner's Dilemma, and concludes,
Society needs to retaliate against cheaters because not to do so flips the coin from cooperation to betrayal. And that’s the end of everything we have worked for and cherish.

And – and – you don’t need to be a master of game theory to know this in your bones. Because if you are offended by cheaters, it is because you are being betrayed into – you are in fact forced into – becoming a cheater and betrayer yourself. Aways-cooperating dies quickly: if you never betray and the other guy always does, he goes free and you get 20 years every time. (In other words, he’s out getting high while you work to support him.) Sooner or later, even the most dense moralist gets the message.

When a tipping point is reached – when enough people are allowed to cheat – the system swings to a different stabiltiy mode (the default mode) and Screw the Other Guy becomes the only rational choice.

The rational choice. Think about that for a moment.

Does that make you angry? It damn well better. And if it does then you are not alone.
Then he brings in the notion of The Remnant, spoken of by Plato, who preserve and restart civilization if all were to fall. The Remnant is also mentioned in connection with the Prophet Isaiah:
In the year of Uzziah's death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life."

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job – in fact, he had asked for it – but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so – if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start – was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
In Part 2, Whittle speaks not of some adolescent hubristic fantasy of being proud members of this Remnant, but rather suggests people prepare by setting out to improve themselves.

By building a community dedicated to the classic harmonious virtues:
Today, when we think of virtues, we tend to think of things like prudence, chastity, modesty...pretty cold porridge. But to the Greek, the Virtues were dynamic and bold. More, Aristotle and others believed they were harmonized – that is related, interconnected, so that to not know one was to imperfectly know the rest.

They were dionethic, he said, built by rationality – the virtues of understanding of substance, science, wisdom, the practical crafts and the practical mind.

And there were ethnic virtues, built by customcourage and temperance; the property-based virtues of generosity and goodwill; honor-based virtues like pride, assertivity and control of anger; the social virtues of wittiness, honesty and friendliness; and the political virtue of justice.
He even mentions Victor Hanson, the 300 Spartans, and sending Western Civilization to the Stars...

And most astonishingly, he suggests building a Virtual City State for people to gather and discuss these Virtues and to improve themselves by teaching and learning and discussing much like the philosophical fora of Ancient Greece's Golden Age.

Work has begun in constructing it:
We, together, can build a virtual community where people can go to be refreshed, encouraged, educated, entertained and improved. Such a place will invariably produce better citizens and better citizens make a better society.

I want to call this place Ejectia! It’s a silly name. It’s good not to take this stuff too seriously.

And I have a charming idea that the first thing you see at the Ejectia! main page is a photo-realistic, computer-rendered, empty valley. Then, when the Discussion Hall module is ready, say, a forum building appears in the valley. You click the forum to get to the discussion hall. As each new module is added, the city grows before your eyes. The seasons change with the real world, too. Over time, an endlessly expanding movie is posted, showing the slow growth and increasing complexity of the virtual city.

And this is only what one person can visualize. Eject! Eject! Eject! belongs to Bill Whittle. But Ejectia! belongs to everyone, equally. What wonders can five thousand imagine? What glorious mental bridges can 50,000 people build?

I don’t know. But I want to find out. I think that would be just damn cool. And it would all be free.

I want a place to make myself a better person. I want to be around people who want to do the right thing, no matter how short of that goal we all fall. Anyone who feels the same way is welcome. All the rest is simple engineering.

That's the plan. You in?
The site isn't up yet but it's registered as Ejectia!

I am reminded of Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash (considered by Time magazine to be among the top-100 English-language novels since 1923) and its virtual world.

And of Tanelorn.

Vote "Yes" Today In Idaho's Treasure Valley

For my readers who live in the Boise/Meridian/Nampa/Caldwell area of Idaho, please remember to go to the polls today and vote "Yes" for the Community College initiative. A few extra dollars a year is a small price to pay to ensure the youth of our area have an affordable choice for post-secondary education outside of Boise State.

Also, for those in Meridian, please vote "Yes" on the library bond. Our growing city desperately needs a library in the southern part of the city, and it will cost the average homeowner less than $15/year over the next 13 years. Investing in the education of our community is a vote for a better future.

Update 2253 22 May: The Meridian library bond got a slight majority, but it needed a 2/3 supermajority to win. And while a local TV station reported the community college vote failed to get its needed 2/3 supermajority, the newspaper website is still reporting that the votes are still being counted.

I think the library people made a tactical mistake with this election. Last November, a similar bond issue failed, but got over 61% of the vote --this was when we voted in our normal precincts. This time, they only held the election in the main library, and didn't publicize too much that you could only vote there. One problem with this is that one of the reasons they were pushing the new library is that it really is a pain to get from the south side of town to the north where the library is, especially during "rush hour". As a result, I'd guess that most of the people who made it to vote for the initiative lived in the north part of town, and they won't really get much benefit out of the proposed new library. Those on the south side of town went to their normal precinct house to vote, and were surprised they couldn't vote for the library bond (or didn't even know about it), and figured it'd be too much of a hassle to drive all the way across town. This is one time when they shouldn't have tried to "game" the system by trying to "shape" the electorate to include mostly those people who use the service (like they do for school bond elections where they have voting only in the elementary schools).

Update 0625 23 May: It turns out that the Community College vote did get the required 2/3 "Yes" vote; the TV station that called it for "No" last night was saying this morning that there were a lot more absentee votes than normal (not surprising, since one of the strategies of the initiative's proponents was to get supporters to vote absentee) so that's why they were confused. We'll now be able to expect a lot of letters to the editor from anti-tax people saying that absentee ballots are un-American somehow.

Heroes Season Finale

The final episode of the season of Heroes pretty much completely ruled. While the final resolution of all the storylines (assuming everyone who wasn't actually dead survives) wasn't as complicated as it could have been (one of my sons had mentioned this particular possibility about halfway through the season) it served the purpose of both resolving this season's crisis in a satisfying way and setting up for next season.

From the last bits, it's fairly clear to me that the samurai Hiro saw in 1671 carrying the "Heroes symbol" flag is his father, who must have the power of immortality. (And now we know where the eclipse seen in the title art comes from.) Sylar will probably survive somehow, considering the trail of blood leading to the sewer, and Hiro not cutting off his head when he had the chance; did he take possession of the cockroach we saw at the end? Will Linderman be able to heal himself, and then restore Sylar? Who is the boogeyman who's "a lot worse" that GPS-tracking girl talked about? (And why doesn't anyone ask her to find Osama bin Laden?)

Now I just have to twiddle my thumbs until September. No new Heroes until then will make this summer even less enjoyable than just having the normal "no football" malaise.

Now That's Funny Right There

In these dark times, today was one of many joyous headlines!

The Lebanese Army attacking palestinian "refugee" camps...

Michael Moore under federal investigation...

Rafiq Sabir, a U.S.muslim doctor, was convicted for swearing an oath to support jihad, i.e. for being a good muslim...

Democrats capitulating completely on timelines for surrender...

Immigration Amnesty bill looking DOA...

The stock market near record highs...

And a my favorite, a bit of Divine Justice:
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A man trying to kill his girlfriend by stopping a car in front of an approaching train was himself killed Monday when the train hit the vehicle and launched it into him as he tried to flee, police said.

The girlfriend survived.
My heart is filled with glee!

The Big Lie

DiCaprio follows Gore on climate change

Now an all-out environmental activist, DiCaprio has followed Gore's lead by bringing a climate change documentary to the Cannes Film Festival. DiCaprio co-produced and co-wrote "The 11th Hour," which explains how humans have changed the climate and how to fix the damage.
A rather loaded word, no?

DiCaprio said the environmental movement owed a great debt to Gore, whose "An Inconvenient Truth," was shown at Cannes and won an Academy Award for best documentary feature.

"I think that movie, through the cinematic format, was able to convey science to the public and to the media in a way that it had never done before," DiCaprio said.
Yes, it had never been done so dishonestly before.

Here, a purportedly 15-year-old girl put together climate change research as a school project, and does a far better job at weighing the strength of the evidence than Gore's movie.

It's everything you need to know.

And here she takes apart Al Gore's movie, point by point, and concludes:

It’s easy to see why Al gore’s movie should not be shown in schools. An Inconvenient Truth is a political commercial that misrepresents a whole area of science. He admittedly uses scare tactics to get people to listen then shows them a professional slide show that blames every thing bad on so called man made global warming.

Al did not make and publicize this movie because he cares; something obvious when you consider his own lifestyle. He did not make this movie to run for president. This movie has grossed over 60 million dollars to date and it hasn’t even made it to cable. Al charges over $100,000 per slide show. But the real money that Al will make is through his new company, Generation Investment Management, a company that seeks to establish the rules and licensing for the new carbon-trading scheme. We have all heard of politicians who lie for money and power; it looks as if Al did not retire after all.
But that won't stop the True Believers!

While "An Inconvenient Truth" laid out the science behind global warming and its impact, DiCaprio's film doesn't try to prove that global warming exists — it accepts that it does and goes from there. It asks and responds to philosophical questions such as, how did mankind let nature deteriorate to this point?
How Convenient...

I love how they're all demanding now that there be NO MORE QUESTIONING!

The matter is SETTLED!

And to disagree is IMMORAL!
Dr. Brown, who is at the Rock Ethics Institute at Pennsylvania State University, said the moral and ethical issues that accompany rising sea levels or widespread crop failures will be matters of life and death for many people.

"How much warming should we tolerate?" he asked. "What is the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases that the world should identify as a target? There is no more obvious moral and ethical issue than this issue. It will literally determine who lives and who dies, whether Tuvalu survives, whether the Marshall Islands survive."

Such issues, Dr. Brown said, will force multilateral institutions like the United Nations to rethink international law and norms.
Too bad more real scientists are speaking out. Found via Brits at Their Best, here is a posting at the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works:
Climate Momentum Shifting: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics

Growing Number of Scientists Convert to Skeptics After Reviewing New Research

Following the U.S. Senate's vote today on a global warming measure (see today's AP article: Senate Defeats Climate Change Measure,) it is an opportune time to examine the recent and quite remarkable momentum shift taking place in climate science. Many former believers in catastrophic man-made global warming have recently reversed themselves and are now climate skeptics. The names included below are just a sampling of the prominent scientists who have spoken out recently to oppose former Vice President Al Gore, the United Nations, and the media driven “consensus” on man-made global warming.
Many examples of real scientists studying the issue and changing their minds towards skepticism or even mockery of human-caused global warming being significant are detailed at that article. Here is one typical case:
Mathematician & engineer Dr. David Evans, who did carbon accounting for the Australian Government, recently detailed his conversion to a skeptic. “I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry. When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical,” Evans wrote in an April 30, 2007 blog. “But after 2000 the evidence for carbon emissions gradually got weaker -- better temperature data for the last century, more detailed ice core data, then laboratory evidence that cosmic rays precipitate low clouds,” Evans wrote. “As Lord Keynes famously said, ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’” he added.

Evans noted how he benefited from climate fears as a scientist. “And the political realm in turn fed money back into the scientific community. By the late 1990's, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too. I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming. And so were lots of people around me; and there were international conferences full of such people. And we had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet!
The Believers always cry "tainted science!" and imply the skeptics are all out for oil-company money

Yet somehow the other side is "pure." As if they didn't have to get published and get research money from somewhere themselves!

What, money grants just fall out of the sky?

During my career as a scientist I saw for myself exactly how the need for budget money drove scientific conclusions. Not to the point of fraud or deception, but there was definitely an disincentive to say outright that "this is dumb and will never work and isn't worth pursuing (on public money)", to "well, maybe we could, you know, study it for a year or two before really coming out and saying that..."

Scientists are people with bills to pay like everyone else.

And I also saw how clubby niche fields could be, and how they can easily be dominated, in terms of who got career accolades and papers published, by a small group of strong personalities with big egos. Ultimately over time Truth wins out, but in the short run, there can definitely be institutional resistance.

Evans continues,
But starting in about 2000, the last three of the four pieces of evidence outlined above fell away or reversed,” Evans wrote. “The pre-2000 ice core data was the central evidence for believing that atmospheric carbon caused temperature increases. The new ice core data shows that past warmings were *not* initially caused by rises in atmospheric carbon, and says nothing about the strength of any amplification. This piece of evidence casts reasonable doubt that atmospheric carbon had any role in past warmings, while still allowing the possibility that it had a supporting role,” he added. “Unfortunately politics and science have become even more entangled. The science of global warming has become a partisan political issue, so positions become more entrenched. Politicians and the public prefer simple and less-nuanced messages. At the moment the political climate strongly supports carbon emissions as the cause of global warming, to the point of sometimes rubbishing or silencing critics,” he concluded.
Here is a fascinating review of an alarmist book on global warming that paints various scenarios of global apocalypse:
Measuring the political temperature

Today’s ‘global warming story’ – where the moral is always that we should calculate every bit of carbon we use – owes more to the anxious zeitgeist than scientific findings.
But there is another way to approach this question, which is to look at the political circumstances in which climatic science is produced, a process that also has its own laws and patterns. It is strange, at a time when the social construction of science is an established idea (Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he describes science’s progress through ‘paradigms’, is on every undergraduate’s reading list) that nobody thinks to look at the social construction of global warming theories. Global warming science is being produced in highly febrile times; and history tells us that the more the political temperature rises, the more science’s view of nature is distorted.
Fast forward to the early twenty-first century, when scientists decided that the climate system was fragile and subject to dramatic and irreversible shifts. In 2001, one academy declared: ‘Geoscientists are just beginning to accept and adapt to the new paradigm of highly variable climate systems.’ (5) The phrase everybody started to use was ‘tipping point’, meaning the point where the Earth’s system would reach its ‘limit’ and tip over into an irreversible change. (This was particularly the case after the 2004 Hollywood hit, The Day After Tomorrow, which envisaged the onset of a global freeze in a matter of hours.) The question many scientists started asking of nature was ‘what is its tipping point?’. At what point would the Arctic and Antarctic go into irreversible meltdown? At what point would the carbon cycle go into reverse? At what point would this or that ecosystem collapse? When would extreme weather events start to increase?

Scientists started to carry out impact studies, and they started to look at feedback cycles. These are loaded concepts: impact – showing the damaging effect of temperature rise on ecosystems – and feedback – the inbuilt instabilities that could lead to ‘runaway’ change. Nature was viewed as fragile, interconnected, and liable to spin away dramatically beyond our control. In 2005, one Russian scientist predicted an ‘ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climactic warming’ (6). It is these studies, then, that form the references at the back of Lynas’ book, and which provide the basis for his claims of the meltdown that will occur at two degrees.

You don’t have to be Thomas Kuhn to read the (mixed) metaphors here. We’re hitting the ‘ecological buffers’, says Lynas, ‘fiddling with the earth’s thermostat’. Once feedback starts, ‘the accelerator will be jammed, and there will be nothing we can do to cut the speed of climate change’.
The less self-reflective the science, and the more it is founded on political and moral campaigns, the less reliable it is likely to be. And in Lynas, we see how global warming science has become a foil for a whole series of political and moral agendas, a way of discussing everything from the sins of consumerism to human arrogance. Outlining the effects of a four degrees rise in temperature, Lynas writes: ‘Poseidon [God of the sea] is angered by arrogant affronts from mere mortals like us. We have woken him from a thousand-year slumber, and this time his wrath will know no bounds.’ Not only Poseidon and Gaia but also terms such as ‘Mother Nature’ and ‘nature’s revenge’ have slipped into everyday discussion about climate change. Darwin did not, so far as we know, give names of Gods to his finches. When scientific concepts start to be discussed in such emotional terms, it suggests that they say more about wish than reality.
To recap, it is perhaps political rather than scientific analysis that can help us to understand the bias that underlies today’s climate science. The notion of nature as fragile and subject to collapse is a relatively recent one, which is likely to owe more to the anxious zeitgeist than to climate realities. There are two more aspects of Six Degrees that are worth discussing. First, its notion that tackling climate change is an historic challenge; and second, its idea that global warming holds within it moral lessons, for humanity and for individuals. These help to explain why the idea of global warming is now so compelling and has come to dominate public life. For it provides, not just an expression of anxiety, but also a way out of that anxiety: a way of reframing the big issues of historical purpose and personal morality.
The campaign against global warming provides answers so that we no longer have to think about the questions. In Gore’s words, this is ‘the thrill of being forced by circumstances’. The certainty of planetary emergency seems to provide a cause that is solid, a cause that is not chosen and therefore beyond dispute and doubt. It is this relief of finding a point of ideological certainty that explains the grip of global warming on the contemporary imagination. Hence the missionary zeal of believers, and the fact that people now discover global warming in periods of doubt, just as they once used to find God in prison.
We need a new school of thought in the global warming debate, which is founded not on scientific facts but on political critique. It is only this that can explain the way in which the issue is framed, or its hold over social life and public debate. Lynas’ books suggest the attraction of the global warming issue has little to do with environmental problems. Instead, global warming appears to provide answers to life’s big questions, offering a new kind of historic mission and a new structure for personal morality.
That's just a small taste of a detailed analysis.

Church Shootings In Moscow, Idaho

Submariner Dale at Right Mind is blogging from Moscow about the shootings in the Presbyterian church there. I'm sure he'll have updates and links throughout the day as the situation develops.

Update 0823 20 May: Reports from the scene indicate that police have entered the church, and reportedly found at least the shooter dead inside. Area residents are being allowed to leave their homes.

Update 2226 20 May: The story has gotten even sadder. The shooter, who comes from the town just south of where I live, killed his wife at the beginning of the rampage. The policeman he killed, Lee Newbill (who is the first officer ever killed in the line of duty in Moscow) was a former Army officer.

This tragedy should highlight the problems of gun ownership by those with histories of domestic violence, as the shooter, Jason Hamilton, did. (Sara from F-Words, who's also in Moscow, discusses more on the domestic violence angle on her blog.) While most people recognize that gun ownership is an important right, there are times when people's actions should necessitate removing that right from them until they demonstrate they're no longer a danger to the community. (Not that it would have done much good in this case, since he was already under a judge's orders not to own guns, but he obviously didn't turn them in.)

Submarine Shout-Out On The Colbert Report

Earlier this week, I read somewhere about how The Colbert Report had mentioned the USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740). My sons Tivo the episodes every night, so I asked them if they still had it -- unfortunately, they'd already watched and deleted it. "Darn, double shoot," I thought, "there goes my chance to look over the what he said and expose any errors."

Luckily, CDR Salamander doesn't give up as easily as me, and he found the video clip of the Shout Out:

CDR Salamander noted that Colbert messed up with the picture he showed (which was of a Russian Typhoon) and the mention of the "new vertical launch tubes", which confused the Tomahawk tubes on a converted SSGN with the normal tubes on the an unconverted Trident. Even so, it was a good bit, and I hope Colbert keeps up his relationship with the Rhode Island's crew.

Movie Review: Shrek The Third

Much the same as with the Spiderman franchise, I admit I'm not the biggest fan of the Shrek movies. Sure, the first two had some pretty funny parts, but I never really found the Donkey character amusing as much as just plain annoying, and I've always had a real problem enjoying any movie featuring the "talents" of Antonio Banderas.

Still, I had high hope for the third of what will probably be an endless series of Shrek movies, Shrek the Third. The previews had some funny scenes, and I figured they'd continue, or even improve, on the cultural references that make the movies worthwhile for adults. They also brought Eric Idle on board, and I figured he'd probably be pretty funny.

I went to the 6 o'clock showing at my neighborhood cineplex; the theater was about 2/3 full. First, the good -- the computer-generated animation was incredible; I sometimes forgot I was watching CGI. Now, the bad. The movie is billed as a comedy, but at the end I realized that I hadn't laughed once. It turns out that essentially all the funny parts were in the trailers, so I didn't see anything that surprised me in a humorous way. The target audience (8 year old kids) seemed quite amused, but even my teenage sons didn't really see any real humor in the story. The new characters (Merlin and Arthur) were incredibly badly written, and actively detracted from any enjoyment I had watching the film.

This is a movie to watch in the theater if you're a really big Mike Myers or Eddie Murphy fan, or if you have pre-teen kids who like Shrek. Overall, the only thing that keeps me from giving this movie "the finger" is the incredible animation; because of that, it gets two unfunny ogres out of five.


Sex offenders have higher rate of mental illness

Well, duh!

There's something wrong with them.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men convicted of rape or other sexual offenses have a much higher-than-average rate of serious mental illness and history of psychiatric hospitalization, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, run counter to conventional wisdom. Experts have traditionally held the view that the mentally ill are not more likely to be sexual offenders.

However, part of this belief may stem from comparisons with people convicted of murder, who appear to have a higher rate of psychiatric disorders than sex offenders do.

Talk about a two-fer!

That's only "conventional wisdom" for bleeding heart "experts" who get a kick out of blaming society rather than admitting something is wrong with the perp.

And we find out not only are rapists identifiably sick in the head, but murderers are even moreso!

The sex offenders only looked relatively sane in comparison to the killers...way to go, Einstein...
The new study, in contrast, compared male sexual offenders with men in the general population. It found that offenders were six times more likely to have ever been hospitalized for a mental illness.

This raises the possibility that identifying and treating these disorders could lower the odds of offenders repeating their crimes, said lead study author Dr. Seena Fazel of Oxford University in the UK.

"The criminal justice system needs to be aware that people who shows signs of being unwell need to be assessed," he told Reuters Health.
Hey, sounds like profiling, doesn't it?

They just gloss over that, with only a slight nod to political correctness:
The findings should not be used to stigmatize people with psychiatric disorders, according to Fazel. "Most people with a mental illness do not commit sexual offenses," he pointed out.

However, he added, the study does suggest that "an important minority" of sexual offenders have serious psychiatric disorders.
The study appears rather solid:
Fazel and his colleagues based their findings on data from Sweden's system of population registers, which includes databases on criminal convictions and hospitalizations for psychiatric illness.

The researchers compared 8,495 men convicted of sexual offenses between 1988 and 2000 with a sample of 19,935 men from the general population.

Sex offenders were five times more likely to have been hospitalized for schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, and were three times more likely to have a history of bipolar disorder.

They also had a four-fold greater risk of alcohol or drug dependence, and were 30 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a personality disorder.
Hmmm, how much more likely are terrorists to be muslim than some other religion?

An "important minority", perhaps?

At least?

"Hey Everybody, We're All Gonna Get Lei'd"

Navy NewsStand has a picture from the commissioning ceremony of USS Hawaii (SSN 776). Not surprisingly, the whole crew is (are?) wearing leis:

If you download the high-res shot, you'll get a good look at the boat's photonics masts.

In Modern Submarines, Duty Officers Do NOT Have A "Standby" Switch...

... even though they seem to in the 11th episode of the very popular "Hey, Shipwreck" video series, posted earlier today:

For more from the creator of the series, Patrick Hrabe, check out the interview he did with Wendy and Marie of SubmarineWife.com.

CO Of USS Helena Relieved For Cause

Navy Times reported last night that CDR William A. Schwalm was relieved as CO of USS Helena (SSN 725) for "loss of confidence". Excerpts from the article:
(Commodore) Jaenichen made his decision based on “just a pattern of performance over time that was consistently not meeting the standards” expected of a commanding officer, Myrick said. The captain lost confidence “in his ability to maintain the Helena crew’s proficiency and level of readiness.”
Schwalm had assumed command of Helena on June 9 and led the submarine on a two-month deployment to the U.S. Southern Command region. He has been temporarily reassigned to a position at Naval Mine and Anti-submarine Warfare Command in San Diego, Myrick said.
Jaenichen assigned Cmdr. Daryl L. Caudle, his deputy at the submarine squadron, as the temporary commander of Helena until a permanent skipper is named. Caudle most recently had command of the fast-attack boat, Jefferson City.
Schwalm, a native of Petersburg, Mich., who was commissioned into the Navy in 1987, has served on five submarines, including the fast-attack submarine Philadelphia, where he served as the executive officer, according to his official biography. His other submarine assignments include the Daniel Webster, Sea Devil and Alabama.
The official Navy press release is here. I knew Bill Schwalm as a fellow Shift Eng and later Materials Officer at NPTU Charleston. He was always very professional; I'm sorry to see him lose his command.

Update 2312 20 May: Navy Times reports that five Navy COs have been fired in the last five weeks. Looks like a bad trend.