Saturday, January 31, 2004

Which way will Iraq turn?

The Shiite Surge If you haven't been keeping up on the Iraq situation, here's a chance to catch up and understand some of the background behind the current problems that face the US. Look's like it's going to be tough to turn back this Shiite religous conservatism. What to me is troubling and much more so to those who are not ultra-conservative in that country, is that the Shiites, long repressed, are following the lead of those who wish to take the country back into a conservatism that bodes no good for women - shades of the Taliban. It would be one thing if that type of authority allowed for open expression on the parts of those who didn't necessarily have their viewpoints, but I doubt that it will in the long run. As the article suggests, they don't wish to be like Iran, but it could be easy to slip into that same type of governing. For those not of this ilk, they may find themselves worse off than they were under Saddam.

Word of the day ( from article above )
Sanguine - a. Of the color of blood; red. b. Cheerfully confident; optimistic (from the article - "Subsequent events have proved this view far too sanguine."

(The similarity in form between sanguine, “cheerfully optimistic,” and sanguinary, “bloodthirsty,” may prompt one to wonder how they have come to have such different meanings. The explanation lies in medieval physiology with its notion of the four humors or bodily fluids (blood, bile, phlegm, and black bile). The relative proportions of these fluids was thought to determine a person's temperament. If blood was the predominant humor, one had a ruddy face and a disposition marked by courage, hope, and a readiness to fall in love. Such a temperament was called sanguine, the Middle English ancestor of our word sanguine. The source of the Middle English word was Old French sanguin, itself from Latin sanguineus. Both the Old French and Latin words meant “bloody,” “blood-colored,” Old French sanguin having the sense “sanguine in temperament” as well. Latin sanguineus was in turn derived from sanguis, “blood,” just as English sanguinary is. The English adjective sanguine, first recorded in Middle English before 1350, continues to refer to the cheerfulness and optimism that accompanied a sanguine temperament but no longer has any direct reference to medieval physiology. (definition courtesy of GuruNet)  

Joe Trippi's Wild Ride

A great story on the guy who started the Dean "Revolution". Amusingly written and rather sad. Sort of reminds me of my college days and VW Vans, hippies, flower power and all that good stuff. Think maybe they needed a few more adults a bit earlier on, though. Interesting that early on they saw Kerry as the main threat, or at least that is the impression I get from reading this article. Would love to see Carville and Trippi in the same room together - now that would be a hoot!

Trippi's successor? - Roy Neel, often described as a "Washington Insider". He recently posted an intro on Howard Dean's blog. My question is - how could they have burned through 41 million so fast? Down to about 5 million now and contributions bottoming out. 

Robert Reich's View on What Democrats Need to do.

The Dead Center Robert Reich talks some sense about what the Democrats need to do to become a force once again in American Politics. Worth Reading. (Robert B. Reich, former United States secretary of labor in the Clinton Administration, is a professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University and the author of the forthcoming "Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America.")

Word of the Day:(mentioned in the article above)
"Pyrrhic" as in Pyrrhic Victory - A victory that is offset by staggering losses, as in The campaign was so divisive that even though he won the election it was a Pyrrhic victory. This expression alludes to Kind Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in a.d. 279, but lost his best officers and many of his troops. Pyrrhus then said: “Another such victory and we are lost.” In English the term was first recorded (used figuratively) in 1879. 

Friday, January 30, 2004

I Don't think This is what Atkins Had in Mind

German cannibal gets eight-and-a-half years The world has no end of sick individuals. I've heard of death wishes, but this one is a tad bit over the top.  

Georgia, have you lost your Mind?

Georgia considers banning 'evolution' This has to get my award for the ding-dong idea of the day. Makes me even happier I moved out of Georgia and I don't even have kids! Must be nice to bury your head in the sand and ignore science. Even some Republicans thought it was nutty - ""If you're teaching the concept without the word, what's the point?" said Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican. "It's stupid. It's like teaching gravity without using the word gravity."  

Gentle Debate

The Dems snoozed through their debate last night, with only Dean taking a gentle jab at Kerry. Sharpton was his usual witty self. With 40% of the electorate being black in S.Carolina, I suspect he is going to hurt Edwards by pulling votes away. "It is a shame that you will take young men and young women from South Carolina, send them abroad, they die under one American flag, they have to come home and live under two flags," he said. "You don't send Confederate flags with us to Iraq. Don't wave them in Greenville. Don't wave them in Columbia." (the debate took place in Greenville,SC, also a county that doesn't recognize Martin Luthur King Day, something which probably only Reverend Al knew, compared to the other candidates).

Edwards has said that if he doesn't win there, he's quitting. Some of the others should be so wise (Lieberman, Kucinich, and maybe Clark).

Quote of the day:
As long as President Bush is willing to go to the moon I think we should send him.”
Viewer’s comment to Texas Cable News after Bush’s announcement 

Thursday, January 29, 2004

More Troubling News on Diebold Voting Machines

Looks like the folks at Diebold have been sitting on their duffs rather than fixing the security of their voting machines . I don't know about you, but I want my vote to count and this doesn't give me the greatest confidence. Good though that this report has hit the NY Times, where it is less likely to be ignored than if it were to appear in the "conspiracy" press. Sounds like they got their work cut out to get this finished in time for elections.

Vote Quotes of the Day:
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
Gore Vidal (1925 - )

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) 


I've enjoyed birdwatching in the past, but haven't done it in a long time, other than to watch the gazillion goldfinches currently attacking my thistle feeders in the backyard. Stumbled across a nice artist's sketchbook on birding today while browsing the net -take a look .

Bird Quote of the Day:
Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best
Henry Van Dyke 

Dell's Digital Jukebox - Not Ready for Primetime

I couldn't agree more with Tom's conclusion on this device. Why should we pay money to test products for companies? After reading this, I'd certainly take a pass. Still waiting for the perfect device before I cough up hard earned dollars. Ipod is close, but $$$. Too few players support books, so they are out. (Ipod does).

Switching to the Political Front, the Democrats debate tonight at 7 p.m. EST on MSNBC for you cable/satellite folks. Should start to get interesting now as candidates need to sharpen up the differences between themselves. I'd personally rather hear more about their ideas than simply the same ol' "kick Bush out" routine. How am I going to pick one, if they all say the same thing?

Wonder if the Israeli/Palistinean issue will ever move forward? Noticed today that Israel released some 400 Arabs in exchange for 4 Israeli soldiers. Of course this had to marred by a "freedom fighter" killing 10 innocent hospital workers on a city bus as revenge for Israeli soldiers killing 10 Palistineans the day before. (I still have a hard time with the word "freedom fighter" when they kill innocents, but then Israelis haven't exactly been selective when it comes to moving in and stomping on these little refugee towns). These two countries just have the wrong 2 leaders in charge to ever achieve peace, but I don't know what it's gonna take to remove them and move ahead. I sure wouldn't want to be a civilian in that neck of the woods - worse than being a soldier.

Quote of the Day:
"Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading."
G.M. Trevelyan  

Interesting Looks at the Candidates

Noticed the following article in the Christian Science Monitor but more than the article, what caught my eye was the short synopsis of each candidate running for office, about 1/2 way down the page. Just click on each candidates picture and you'll learn quite a few interesting facts about them. Nicely done.

Quote of the day:
"The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think."
Horace Walpole  

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Who Needs this Stuff in Today's Education?

It's a rare day when you find an exceptional teacher. You would think that most principals would be touting their superior teachers to the world. What's up with this principal then? Something is very strange at Brooklyn Technical . 

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Kerry Wins in NH

As expected, Kerry won in NH, by more than I figured he would. The rest of the folks finished in about the order I would have guessed. Thought this was an amusing comment :

The BBC's Rob Watson, in the town of Hampton in western New Hampshire, says as was the case in Iowa, Democrat voters seemed less concerned about the fine print of the candidates' policies than their ability to beat Mr Bush in the November election.

As one voter put it, she would vote for her cat if she thought it could defeat the president.

On another note, heres an interesting bio on Teresa Heinz Kerry . Many will just assume she is a rich, spoiled lady. Her record as seen here would obviously debunk that thought.  

Monday, January 26, 2004

Does Drilling make sense?

Interior finishes plan to open nearly 9 million acres in Alaska to drilling I see that Gale Norton (Interior Secretary) is getting around the ban on drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge by drilling next to it. I'd be curious to hear comments from those who advocate this as to why the following comments below are wrong? - "It makes no sense to industrialize this incomparable wilderness area when there's only about six month's worth of economically recoverable oil ... and it would take at least 10 years to get it to market," said Charles Clusen, director of the Alaska lands project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group."

Seems to me if all we can get out of this area is a few month's worth, why not concentrate our energies on alternative energy sources? Waiting on an explanation.....

Quote of the day
"Hold a book in your hand and you're a pilgrim at the gates of a new city."
Anne Michaels  

Many American Students would wish they had it this good!

Tony Blair is hanging by a thread these days and not only over Iraq, but even more so lately over tuition "top-up" fees. The proposals that are out there now for funding university education certainly seem defensible to me, but then I'm not all that well-versed on the English system. It doesn't sound bad though that you can get loans to go to school for 0% interest and don't have to start paying them off, once you are out of school, until you are making at least $27,000. And if you never make that much (I would sure hope you would if you spent 4 years at the University!), then after 25 years they are written off entirely.

I think this is the problem with many societies that fund all health care and educational expenses - at some point people get fed up with all the taxes to pay for this and say enough is enough! And as the article points out, should the dustman really pay for the doctor's degree? Why not let the student themselves pay for some of their education? English students should try coming to the US and face the $30k/year that some colleges charge. Not saying our system works of course, as $30K/year is obscene, but it does point out that societies where everything is a "given" eventually bump up against the economic consequences of such largess.

For an explanation of top-up fees and the problem England faces, go here

P.S. And if you think it's only England that has problems, then you should check out the German situation .