Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Summon... the KRAKEN!!!!

Wanna watch the Kiwis cut up Cthulhu?

"A team of scientists will be thawing and dissecting a giant and colossal squid between 28 – 30 April."

You can read more about it here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Global Warming Fueling World Hunger?

Excellent article in the Washington Post about the new World Hunger. How bad is it? Bad.

The food price shock now roiling world markets is destabilizing governments, igniting street riots and threatening to send a new wave of hunger rippling through the world's poorest nations. ... Much of the increase is being absorbed by middle men -- distributors, processors, even governments -- but consumers worldwide are still feeling the pinch.

The convergence of events has thrown world food supply and demand out of whack and snowballed into civil turmoil. ... To quell unrest, countries including Indonesia are digging deep to boost food subsidies. The U.N. World Food Program has warned of an alarming surge in hunger in areas as far-flung as North Korea and West Africa. The crisis, it fears, will plunge more than 100 million of the world's poorest people deeper into poverty, forced to spend more and more of their income on skyrocketing food bills.

"This crisis could result in a cascade of others . . . and become a multidimensional problem affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

But of course, you have to read the fine print:

A big reason for higher wheat prices, for instance, is the multiyear drought in Australia, something that scientists say may become persistent because of global warming. But wheat prices are also rising because U.S. farmers have been planting less of it, or moving wheat to less fertile ground. That is partly because they are planting more corn to capitalize on the biofuel frenzy.

In other words, the crisis may have its genesis on two ends of the same problem: Global Warming causing droughts causing poor harvests, and people shifting resources to create alternatives to forestall or reverse Global Warming. Highly ironic when you consider that biofuels are turning out to be a scam.

Ever get the feeling we are really, truly screwed?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Condi to Al-Sadr - Drop Dead

In a move worthy of a late night comedian, rather than the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice decided to stop with the diplomacy nonsense - you know, her job? - and tell one of the most dangerous people in Iraq to kiss her ass.

BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.

Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying. ...

"I know he's sitting in Iran," Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr's latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. "I guess it's all-out war for anybody but him," Rice said. "I guess that's the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he's in Iran."

(Kind of like Bush, Cheney et al back in Washington, eh?)

Why is this a bad move? Because, like she said, he's safe in Iran and able to kick his minions into action, and therefore has nothing to lose by avenging this insult. All he would need is an excuse, and she practically gave it to him. How dumb can you get?

Maybe she just doesn't understand the full situation? As this article in the New York Times shows, she may have no idea who she's dealing with.

Ms. Rice said that she was not sure how to interpret a statement on Saturday by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army fighters have been battling Iraqi and American forces in Sadr City and in the south, that he would declare “war until liberation” if the fighting against his militia forces continued.

“I don’t know whether to take him seriously or not,” Ms. Rice said.

Um, this guy leads a massive, dedicated zealot militia, and has been responsible for massive uprisings against our troops and the Iraqi government. How could we NOT take him seriously? Even if he's just yanking our chains, at present, he can do a whole lot worse than yank. We've seen it happen.

I've said before that Condoleezza Rice should not have been selected to be our Secretary of State, as the woman is, quite frankly, in moo-moo land. She's intelligent and knowledgeable, yes, but she's also an empty vessel for George W. Bush, and an echo chamber for his increasingly meaningless drivel.

Nothing has happened since I wrote either of those pieces to change my mind, and this latest incident just confirms it.

h/t to VetVoice by way of Crooks & Liars

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Four-Color Terrorist Fighters - Can Comics Defuse "Jihadi Cool"?

Interesting article in Newsweek about making Jihad look less cool in the eyes of Muslim 8-14 year olds. The one potential avenue for Sociologist Scott Atran's ideas are comic books with Muslim superheroes - something that's been a reality for some time - which could give positive heroes to emulate, rather than shadowy masterminds, suicide bombers and would-be Mahdis.

I've had a little first-hand glimpse of so-called "jihadi cool" at work. When my wife was teaching English at a school for young National women in the UAE, teachers would grouse that some of their students would, when forming teams to compete against each other in classroom exercises, want to call themselves "the Bin Ladens." In some ways it's no different from American kids wanting to name themselves after some bad-boy rock group or something equally bad-ass and frightening, but given the gravity of the situation it was shocking that someone would be that tactless. The fact that tact gave way to chuckles via OBL was rather disconcerting.

Can Muslim super-heroes alone change the hearts and minds of a generation of kids who think Osama bin Laden is "cool?" Possibly not, given the disparity in circulation of message between the comics and the Jihadists. But it might at least pave the way for a positive PR campaign that will carry more weight with the at-risk kids than, say, bombing Iran.

But I think the telling (read "scary") thing in this article was Atran's surreal encounter with the Bush/Cheney White House:

In Washington last year he was briefing White House staffers on his findings when a young woman who worked for Vice President Dick Cheney said in the sternest tough-guy voice she could muster, "Don't these young people realize that the decisions they make are their responsibility, and that if they choose violence against us, we're going to bomb them?"

Atran was dumbfounded. "Bomb them?" he asked. "In Madrid? In London?"

Much like in most superhero comic books, hindsight is 20/20, and reality can't happen here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lies Repeated Often Enough: "Obama" bin Laden

Score one for the smear merchants. Senator Barack Obama has been rechristened Barack Hussein on FOX News, and occasional "mistakes" have been made when talking about a certain son of the bin Laden family, replacing Osama with Obama. And we're told that it's just flourishes or honest mistakes, and why is he getting so upset if he's got nothing to hide, anyway?

This is why:

BLITZER: Senator Obama is used to having his name mangled and his ties to the Muslim world questioned. But today it was literally in his face.

At an "Associated Press" luncheon right here in Washington, Obama was asked a question about Osama bin Laden. Listen closely to how the questioner mispronounced the fugitive al Qaeda leader's name.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine shifting a substantial number of Afghanistan -- a substantial number to Afghanistan? For the Taliban has been gaining strength and Obama bin Laden (sic) is still at large.

OBAMA: I think that was o Osama bin Laden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I did that, I'm so sorry.

OBAMA: No, no, no. This is part of -- part of the -- part of the exercise that I've been going through over the last 15 months, which is why it's pretty impressive I'm still standing here.


If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. Score one for FAUX News.

h/t Crooks & Liars

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Study May Disprove "Danger" of Left-Wing Academia

People like David Horowitz have made a healthy industry out of the “dangers” of America’s predominantly-leftist academia. According to them, the mass of liberal professors are indoctrinating their students with leftist nonsense in the hopes of churning out more people just like them.

While the proof of such allegations is often in the eye of the beholder -- and largely critique-proof -- a new study reveals that it may simply not matter, as students are not overwhelmingly likely to change their political persuasions during college.

According to the study, to be published later this year in PS: Political Science and Politics:

About 60 percent of students didn't change their political outlooks much during college. Those that did moved slightly to the left, but the change mirrored that of 18- to 24-year-olds generally. There was no apparent boost from attending a school with a particularly liberal faculty.

The research doesn't explain why students resist imitating their professors' views.

”It could be the faculty in general take their profession seriously, and that even though they identify themselves as politically liberal, they're very professionally oriented and their pedagogy does not reflect these biases,'' Hewitt said.

Or, maybe faculty ''are in the classroom trying to indoctrinate [students] with their views, and the students don't take the bait,'' he said.

While this study doesn’t completely dispel Horowitz’s charges of conservatives being routed from Academia, or students being fed false facts to suit shady goals, it at least shows that the situation isn’t as dire as people like him make it out to be. In the grand tradition of American higher education, professors can say anything they like, and their students aren’t paying attention.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Clinton: I Are Smarter Then Billy, so NYAH!

Non-stop Comedy Gold from the Clinton Camp, today. When asked about NAFTA at a summit sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Hillary Clinton admitted that her husband made mistakes.

"As smart as my husband is, he does make mistakes," Clinton said. The Democratic presidential candidate said she would fix problems (with NAFTA) that have led to job losses, or would tell Canada and Mexico the United States is pulling out of the agreement.


Clinton has been on the defensive over what she did or didn't do as first lady to promote NAFTA.

The question in question insinuated that Bill Clinton had "tricked" America through his support of the controversial trade agreement. Now that we've been operating under it for some time, I think we can say we were indeed tricked, though job loss is just one part of a larger problem.

As for her husband making mistakes, I think we can say this is hardly news, much less a massive revelation on her part.

Emerging Yet Again

Man, I need to check myself into Non-Blogging Anonymous. Sorry about the radio silence.