Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Will Pakistan get dragged into the twentieth century? Note I didn't say the twenty-first. That would be too much to hope for.
Pakistani lawmakers have been asked to consider a wide-ranging women's rights bill. Among other things, the bill would ban honor killings, a mainstay of Pakistani life in keeping women under control.
Feminists in the US might take note of how Pakistan treats women rape victims:
The other [issue] is the Hudood ordinance, which was introduced in the 1980s to enforce Islamic punishments but is regarded by many rights groups as discriminatory towards women ... many Islamic groups and conservative MPs say its abolition would be an un-Islamic act.
And we all know what the punishment is for women who commit adultery in "traditionalist" Islamic societies.
Rights groups say it is a misinterpretation of Koranic injunctions as it fails to differentiate between adultery and rape.
According to Pakistan's independent human rights commission, in most cases of rape where a victim is unable to produce four male witnesses as required by law, she is charged with adultery.
Where's the outrage? Oh, I forgot ... it's just "their culture."
Anne 10:10 PM
John Kerry - America's "second black President?" He likes rap and hip-hop because it's "important," but it "bothers" him when rap singers talk about killing cops. Glad to know he has his priorities straight.
Anne 10:00 PM
Why I'm voting for President Bush: Yes, I think his trade, education, and immigration policies are wrong. But Anne Coulter puts the bigger picture right in perspective in her litany of terrorist incursions against the US, and how presidents previous to Bush have allowed it to happen.
Bush came into office telling his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, he was "tired of swatting flies" -- he wanted to eliminate al-Qaida.
On Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush had been in office for barely seven months, 3,000 Americans were murdered in a savage terrorist attack on U.S. soil by Muslim extremists.
Since then, Bush has won two wars against countries that harbored Muslim fanatics, captured Saddam Hussein, immobilized Osama bin Laden, destroyed al-Qaida's base, and begun to create the only functioning democracy in the Middle East other than Israel. Democrats opposed it all -- except their phony support for war with Afghanistan, which they immediately complained about and said would be a Vietnam quagmire. And now they claim to be outraged that in the months before 9-11, Bush did not do everything Democrats opposed doing after 9-11.
What a surprise.
Anne 9:54 PM
Slouching toward EUropistan, over one Jewish victim at a time.
The EU study on anti-Semitism essentially covered up the actions of Muslims, and actually tried to blame white "Neo-Nazis," in direct contradiction to interviews and police reports.
But covering up for Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe is nothing new:
The EU suppressed a report last year by German academics concluding that Arab gangs were largely responsible for a sudden surge in the anti-Jewish violence, allegedly because the findings were politically unpalatable.
Our grandchildren are very likely going to see a majority-Muslim Europe, and the report gives some harginger of things to come:
But most of the report focuses on Jew-baiting by Muslim youths. It paints an alarming picture of daily life for France's 600,000 Jews, the EU's biggest community.
In schools, Jewish children are beaten with impunity, and teachers dare not talk about the Holocaust for fear of provoking Muslim pupils, it said.
Anne 9:48 PM
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Why is there special protection for religious garb? A Muslim girl in Muskogee, OK was disciplined for wearing a head scarf. The school is sticking to its guns even though their actions are most likely unconstitutional, and is taking the conflict to court.
But there's a larger issue here. The school district in question has a ban on hats and "headgear." Why should *religious* headgear be permitted and other hats not be allowed? That to me looks like an unconstitutional favoring of religion itself.
The bottom line is that public schools have gotten away with grossly unconstitutional applications of "dress codes," including bans on hats. One school district in Merrillville, IN recently banned all pink clothes, using the by-now very lame excuse of "gang activity."
The real "gang activity" going on here is when school districts step over the First Amendment line of freedom of expression. The sad thing is that more students' families don't sue - instead, it's left to the religious ones, when it's actually a far wider issue.
Don't get me wrong - I cheered when the French banned Muslim headgear in French schools. But this isn't France, and Muslims here aren't a threat to our constitutional republic. The erosion of the Constitution is.
Also a more fundamental problem is the erosion of effective public school discipline. If gang members are such a threat within a system, then remove the gang members, and let everyone else wear what they want. But of course that would be "hateful" and "discriminatory" and would "deny them an education."
Now would be the perfect time to mention my perfect solution: simply make high school *optional.* End compulsory education at 14 or the end of eighth grade. Charge tuition for any years of schooling beyond that. Any student who disrupts the school gets summarily thrown out. Problem solved.
Anne 8:26 PM
Mayor Slay needs to stick to his knitting: The city of St. Louis has had a litany of woes - a catastrophic school system whose board is in perpetual meltdown; depopulation from almost one million people 30 years ago to under 350,000 today; huge sections that look like the set for a post-apocalyptic movie; a "brain drain" of educated people; the virtual shutdown of our airport due to the airline bankruptcies, but Mayor Francis Slay knows what's really important - getting off the "10 Fattest Cities" list.
He sounds like a nattering food nanny too, making remarks to his staff about their eating habits. What people will put up with for a political job.
We don't take people from out of town to see the parks. We take them to Ted Drewes. Besides, you can only walk in the parks around here about 2 months out of the year anyway - our one month of spring and our one month of fall.
Time to go out to Rossino's for a big plate of ravioli. Or maybe I'll just stay home and make a St. Louis-style lasagna - and I certainly won't be inviting Mayor Slay over.
Anne 4:32 PM
Islamic Family Values Update: Another Palestinian child escapes being lured into a suicide bombing plot. He was first locked in a dark room, and then promised Paradise and 72 virgins. Some Palestinians object because it makes them look bad and might harm their cause. Little priority problem here, eh?
The brainwashing does indeed start early, as this little six-year old demonstrates.
Anne 3:56 PM
The smell of karma in the morning... American companies in China find that they're at a distinct disadvantage competing with native Chinese companies. Is protectionism for everyone else *but* Americans?
Anne 3:19 PM
More whining from the soccer moms about TV: One question to the especially whiny mother: if you have a ten and three year old child, why are you letting them watch soap operas and reality TV shows, then complaining about the content? To make up for *her* lack of control, she wants "the government to step in."
A homeschooling mother admits that standards vary, and that what she finds objectionable may not offend others. She relies on V-chips and filters.
Conservative activist Brent Bozell wants to see cable companies offer service "a la carte," so that customers can pick which stations they want to get, rather than having to take a standard package. The move seems largely motivated by anti-cable sentiment; Bozell says: "As bad as broadcast TV has gotten, its nothing compared with what children consume day and night on basic cable."
Well, what children consume is what parents let them consume. Rather than slamming "basic cable," Bozell needs to sit down and watch an evening of The History Channel, or watch Babylon 5 or Stargate SG-1 on Sci-Fi, or Kurosawa or Tarkovsky films on Turner Classic Movies.
Rather than trying to ban MTV, soccer moms, try raising kids that don't even *want* to watch MTV.
Anne 2:11 PM
AWWWWW! Big Al gets no federal matching campaign funds. When Missouri had its primary I got myself a Democratic ballot and voted for him, on the thought that a couple of Sharpton delegates would add a little spice to the convention. So you can appreciate my disappointment.
Anne 1:49 PM
Good college advice from David Brooks: Don't stress it. Don't try to force yourself into the mold of an Ivy League clone. No one twenty years from now will give a damn about your SAT scores.
Anne 1:46 PM
Kerry camp also in la-la land over outsourcing: A Kerry aide claims that jobs outsourced to China and India comprise only a small part of all the jobs lost under President Bush's administration.
Let's see - 250,000 to 500,000 jobs out of 2 million is between roughly 10 and 20 percent. Now why would a Kerry flak catcher want to downgrade the loss of these jobs?
Easy. Engineering jobs outsourced to Bangalore or Beijing may represent only 10-20 % of the whole. But they represent high salary jobs that kept these workers firmly in the middle class. Besides, engineers are conservative or libertarian, by and large. Perhaps the thinking is that if they lose their jobs, they'll become Democrats.
In short, *neither* party seems to be planning to do anything substantive about moving engineering as a profession overseas.
Anne 1:42 PM
Sunday, March 28, 2004
"I get byyyy with a little help from my friends..." Nearly ten percent of Ralph Nader's contributers who gave at least $250 have a history of donating to Republicans. None interviewed wanted to own up to supporting Nader to help Bush, though. Chickens.
Anne 6:00 PM
You don't want a blood transfusion in Quebec: if you can even get one, that is. Blood banks think it's unfair that the government wants them to ask potential donors if they've had gay sex or not. So what if the blood supply gets contaminated - patients should be glad to know they suffered and died "fighting discrimination."
What's supremely ironic is these death-loving gay activists don't even seem to care if they kill their fellow gays with AIDs-tainted blood. Solidarity forever, baby.
Anne 4:59 PM
EUropistan "solutions" to French anti-semitism: No one seems to want to come out bluntly and say it, so I will. It's the Muslims, stupid.
One prominent rabbi has advised Jewish schoolchildren in Paris who received abuse and threats from Muslim youths to wear baseball hats to cover their skullcaps.Yes, that approach worked so well in Weimar Germany. If we don't dress, look, or act like Jews, the Nazis will leave us alone.
French education minister Luc] Ferry blamed tensions between Muslim and Jewish pupils. "If we have such a rise in anti-Semitism in France it is because some children identify with the Palestinian cause and others with Israel," he said.In other words, it's all the fault of the Joooooz....
Collaborator Ferry forgot to mention Big Group Hugs and singing Kumbayah in four-part harmony. Instead, he suggested taking French school children to holocaust museums and watching "Schindler's List" and "The Piano." Will the EUropistan followers of Mohammed get castigated for hate speech if they cheer during inappropriate moments? Don't hold your breath.
Anne 4:51 PM
It's a lost cause: Former Presidential aide Lyn Nofziger thinks President Bush needs to do more to sell his "Tax and Spend" Republican proposals to his increasingly-alienated "base" of white, middle-class, conservative voters. Nofziger says:
President Bush's proposal to legitimize the presence of roughly 10 million illegal aliens, as well as what appears to be his indifference toward tightening border security, makes many conservatives irate. Also on their list are runaway deficit spending, the No Child Left Behind education act (which they see as interfering with states' rights) and the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act (which many believe violates the right to free speech). Many also are unhappy about the president's request to increase spending for the hated National Endowment for the Arts. And then there is the muttering on the right — as well as the left — about the Patriot Act, which many see as a threat to civil liberties.
There are many conservative "true believers" who will proclaim endlessly that outsourcing is good for us, that local school districts need to be under federal dictatorship, and that ten million illegal aliens a year will help our economy and social order. But will the vast majority be fooled?
The Bush administration may be moving leftward in the belief that Reagan conservatives have no place else to go. If so, it is a colossal mistake. Reagan conservatives do have someplace to go: it's called home. They can sit on their hands and not vote at all.
If the president is concerned, as he should be, about losing the Reagan right, he must take steps to reassure these voters. Sending Vice President Dick Cheney and other conservative surrogates out on the stump will help. Yet the president himself must also re-emphasize his conservative beliefs and accomplishments, and convince conservatives of the merits of proposals like his guest worker program and the need for the Patriot Act.
When the president's father took conservatives for granted, he lost. The son must prove that he has learned from his father's mistakes.
It's foolish of Nofziger to even suggest that there are any merits whatever to these ill-conceived and decidedly non-conservative plans, those already in place like No Child Left Behind, and those merely proposed.
Anne 4:40 PM
President of EUropistan thinks he's in charge of Italy as he attempts to swing the Italian election away from conservative Silvio Berlusconi. Just wait until they get their EU Constitution implemented.
Anne 4:28 PM
Not the right kind of victims: Why is it that we always hear about Palestinian refugees, and nothing about Jewish refugees from majority-Muslim countries?
Anne 4:25 PM
Diversity, Diversity Uber Alles ... Uber Alles in der Welt: Taxpayers of California are finding their children can't attend California state universities, which have slashed enrollments by 10% for next year in response to a budget crisis. However, foreign and out-of-state students will still be admitted, because "One of the strengths of the University of California is the diversity of its student body, and that includes students from out of state as well as out of country."
Well, follow the money, baby. Foreign and out-of-state students pay four times what in-staters pay, and it's far more than the cost of educating them.
Perhaps the jilted students themselves will be shocked into doing something with their weekends besides cruising, going to beach parties, and watching MTV. Political participation is lowest among those 18-25 years of age. These students need to register to vote, organize, and take some trips to Sacramento. They need to vote the scum out of office who are sacrificing their future and their patrimony on the altar of "diversity."
Anne 4:20 PM
Saturday, March 27, 2004
US students less interested in high-tech: Why should they be? They've seen their parents and parents' friends laid off from dot-bomb companies that went bankrupt, or watched them forced to train their overseas replacements before being laid off. So it's no surprise that about one third less students are entering these programs.
This is a serious national security issue. We need a reservoir of *native* trained technical people who have science and math skills. God forbid we get into a war, but what will we do then? Retrain fast-food managers overnight to become computer scientists? Import technical specialists from India?
I wrote awhile back about the Selective Service implementing a plan to draft computer specialists if need be. Who are they going to draft if students don't go into the subjects, because these students know quite well that corporations will outsource them as soon as they can?
Anne 3:32 PM
Death Cult Watch: Little Green Footballs has been incredibly thorough in documenting Palestinian perfidy recently.
Anne 3:25 PM
This just makes me sick: While our President has room in his campaign to suggest spending federal money on more Internet connections (that will certainly make the porn subscription services happy) and more giveaways to bribe minorities into voting for him, our soldiers are buying their own body armor.
Cut off every food stamp program, every Medicare and Social Security payment, every dime for the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, and *buy that armor.* What is this madness called "compassionate conservatism?" How many soldiers have to die unnecessarily in Iraq before we equip them properly?
Oh, I forgot. We were supposed to give out chocolate, cigarettes, and nylons to the Iraqis we "liberated," and they were supposed to love us.
Here's another take on the body armor issue.
Anne 3:07 PM
Father wants librarians to be his personal nannies: Guess what, Dad - it's not their job to control what your kids check out from the library.
So this guy's 12-year old kid had $25 in fines from unreturned R-rated videos, and not the "educational" kind like "Saving Private Ryan," either. Leaving aside the question of why a public library even has "Striptease," "Woman on Top" and "Leaving Las Vegas" in its collection, the point remains that when the parent signs for a library card, he implicitly allows his child to check out materials.
Dad whines that the kid couldn't rent these tapes from Blockbuster. Well, that's a good thing? As I see it personally, it's not Blockbuster's job - or the MPAA for that matter - to determine what *my* children can and can't rent or buy tickets to see.
Of course, the library doesn't get off scot-free here, either. Librarians refused to tell the father what materials were checked out on his son's card. He later found the videos under the kid's mattress.
So the father shouldn't have to pay the fines if he doesn't get access to his minor child's record information. On the other hand, it's not the librarian's job to police his children.
Footnote: I found this article on lucianne.com. Some conservatives didn't exactly distinguish themselves on this lucianne thread's discussion when they advocated forbidding children from going to libraries at all. Note too the vituperous attacks on librarians as part of the evil government system, and the call to end funding for public libraries.
One intelligent poster wrote:
Our kids had access to whatever printed matter they could reach. There were no inappropriate questions, only inappropriate places to ask them. (Ask me again when we get home) They were free to read anything on our extensive bookshelves, from Gray's Anatomy, Williams' Obstetrics, and A Complete History of Art to the racy fiction of Heinlein, Miller, or King--and did. Surprise: They preferred C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Farley Mowat. You can't shrinkwrap children's minds, and hide the world from them. You just have to introduce them to more interesting things. So a kid sees an R-rated movie. Ho, hum. I'd worry more that he felt the need to hide it under his bed...
Shame, shame, shame on people who vote against library funding.
Anne 2:54 PM
College seat shortage hits California: One private college offers enrollment opportunities at $25,000 a year. But the bigger question is, how many seats in California's state universities are taken by the (non-citizen) illegal children of illegal immigrants? How many California residents have paid astronomical state taxes for decades, only to find their own children can't get in?
I'm sure President Bush will find a way to work this into the campaign somehow.
Anne 2:35 PM
Forget about a North American NATO between the US and Canada. How about the ADA: Anglo Defense Alliance, composed of the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia?
After all, who is going to liberate Great Britain after it has the European Union Constitution forced down its throat, as PM Tony Blair refuses to put it up for a plebiscite there? To impose the EU Constitution on Britain would essentially be as close to a Franco-German axis takeover as you can get, without an invasion, and ironically makes most of World War II fought in vain.
Anne 2:30 PM
Surprised he hasn't yet been arrested for "hate speech:" The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey blasted "Islamic culture" in a seminar recently, claiming that Islam was
authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.
Carey also reminded listeners that during his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, he reminded Muslims continually that their freedom to erect mosques and worship in peace in England should also be reciprocated in Islamic countries - but was not.
In a speech that will upset sensitive relations between the faiths, he denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the "evil" of suicide bombers.
Dr Carey acknowledged most Muslims are peaceful people. He attacked the "glaring absence" of democracy in Muslim countries, suggested that they had contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries and criticised the Islamic faith.
The usual suspects are screaming about it. Good.
Anne 10:08 AM
What about *our* sons and daughters, President Bush? The President defends his proposed "guest worker" policy for Mexican illegals by claiming that "people coming up from Mexico want to put food on their table for their sons and daughters."
Well, guess what. So do we who live here already. Why doesn't the GOP just go out and illegally register them to vote right now, as the Democrats have been accused of doing? Spare us all this pandering. It makes a mockery of both the GOP and conservatism as a whole.
I also love the cluelessness about "jobs Americans won't do." For instance, the President mentioned that Americans won't "lay roof tiles." Is it perhaps that Americans won't lay roof tiles *at the same wages as illegal immigrants?*
When I was in college, one of my roommates had a boyfriend who did roofing every summer. In 1977 he was paid $10 an hour, when the minimum wage was $2.30 an hour. He earned more than enough to pay most of his own college tuition.
The work commanded a high wage because it was hot, dirty, dangerous, and most young men either wouldn't or couldn't do it. Those that could *earned* their pay.
So I suppose the President would rather see American college students sponge off taxpayers for "financial aid," while roofing jobs go to illegals. That's real conservatism in action for you.
Anne 9:53 AM
Part of the solution, or part of the problem? As President Bush campaigns nationwide for Internet chickens in every pot, more home ownership for minorities (poor whites don't want to own homes?) and more college financial aid for *minorities* (poor white students don't want to go to college?), IL Republican maven Judy Baar Topinka says we need more outreach.
It's not enough to get young people and minorities into the Republican Party. The GOP now is almost indistinguishable from the Democrats in the Tax and Spend department as the President campaigns by selling more social programs.
The real challenge for the GOP is to lure young voters not from the Democratic Party, but from the Libertarian.
Anne 9:20 AM
Friday, March 26, 2004
Wollen Sie auf Deutschland studieren? Germany is trying to attract students to its university programs by offering *free* tuition in an English-language-based three-year bachelors' program. Students also take classes in German as a second language.
The Germans are trying to sell it to British and American students. Students accepted will need about $800 a month for basic living expenses, although some financial aid is available even for that.
Students who like their beer will also enjoy the 16-year old drinking age.
I'm scratching my head here. What's the catch? When something seems too cheap or good to be true, it usually is.
Anne 6:16 PM
Unborn children can be crime victims too: Thank you, US Senate. (John Kerry voted against it, though. So did Republicans-In-Name-Only Chaffee of Rhode Island and Snowe of Maine. Typical.)
This puts the pro-abortion forces in a bind. If they leave it be, they risk losing support among their ranks, who believe that it's better that criminals go unpunished for killing an unborn child than risk losing the "right to choose." If they challenge the law in court, they risk opening up a Supreme Court debate on what exactly constitutes the legal *personhood* of the unborn child - an issue the Supreme Court cravenly sidestepped in the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases.
Anne 6:06 PM
Japanese know how to deal with illegal immigrants: They deport them. Very simple.
Anne 5:59 PM
Prom plans up in smoke when a Hillsboro, North Dakota school district suspends an 18-year old student for smoking. Since her school prom falls during her suspension period, she won't be allowed to go.
This raises some complicated issues. First off, the student was 18, thus an adult and legally able to smoke. Second, the smoking incident did not take place on school grounds. Finally, the state of North Dakota ends compulsory school attendance when the child turns 16.
So technically an 18-year old student is not "owed" a public high school education at all, although school districts do want the money that comes with students over the mandatory attendance age.
It's fundamentally an adversarial relationship, because the school districts want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the money. They want the 18 year olds in the seats, but they don't want to recognize their legal rights as adults.
Social events like proms and athletics are essentially bribes keeping students dependent upon school systems.
There's an easy way to solve this. If a state's mandatory attendance ends at age 16, then everyone over the age of 16 should have to pay tuition if they wish to remain in public school. The tuition rate should be about what the school receives per student (about $6000 a year in most districts.)
Students who choose not to go to high school after the maximum age should be allowed immediately to take the GED (without having to go through a six-month or one-year waiting period.)
Further, students who pay tuition to public high schools should not leave their ordinary legal adult rights "at the schoolhouse door."
Anne 5:57 PM
Thursday, March 18, 2004
The economic "traitors" just don't give up, do they? A high-tech lobbying coalition is begging Congress for a back-door expansion of the H-1B visa program, limited to 65,000 at present.
They want to make an exception for foreign engineers who obtained their advanced degrees from US universities.
This is reprehensible. Engineers are having a harder time than many others finding work now. How many over-40 engineers are these companies willing to hire?
What burns me as well is that foreign students who obtain their degrees at US *state* universities are in essence robbing from the taxpayers of that state, who have paid in to have a state university system primarily for children of residents of that state. Instead, *their* investment is turned over to foreign students.
The typical yammering reply from high-tech companies is that there's a "shortage" of engineers, and that "Americans won't go into engineering."
Well, there is no shortage whatever of engineers *across all the age ranges.* Let companies stop discriminating against older engineers.
As for Americans "not studying engineering," why should they study it, especially to the level of an advanced degree, *if all the jobs are getting outsourced* and American jobs are going to H-1Bs?
Unfortunately Republican lawmakers like Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia are listening to the manufacturers. This is incredibly stupid in an election year where the erosion of white-collar jobs and the middle-class standard of living play such a prominent role.
Anne 2:08 PM
Nattering nannybots: I wonder if you get 2 or 3 of them going together in a chat room, whether they'll just get into some kind of endless loop...
Anne 1:57 PM
Useful Idiot Update: Does anyone remember Yvonne Ridley, the UK journalist who was captured in Afghanistan by the Taliban in late September 2001? She was held for ten days and upon her release converted to Islam, and has been thumping the tub ever since (I especially like the comments in this article about how the Taliban were "demonized" by the media, and how they really wanted to only protect children from electrocution by banning the flying of kites.)
Stalwart Aussie conservative columnist Miranda Devine blasts Australian and European appeasement of Islamic jihadists and mentions Yvonne Ridley:
It is always tempting to respond to the seductive siren call of the appeasers, drawing you to false hope that terrorism will disappear if only we are nice enough, tolerant and reasonable enough. Who doesn't want a fear-free life?
Devine is entirely right. There's nowhere to run anymore from jihad. The Aussies need to rethink their anti-gun bias, for starters.
That's the siren call of Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban and who spoke at the University of Sydney this week about "media lies and manipulation" in the war on terrorism.
On Tuesday she told John Laws on radio 2UE: "As a journalist I would like to ban that word [terrorism]." When asked if a suicide bomber was a martyr or a terrorist, she said: "A martyr is someone who gives up their life for a cause. People get so ... hung up on words."
And yet, later in the interview she claimed words are the solution. "Let's go for the Irish situation and go for words not bombs ... The only way to end the cycle of violence is to sit down and start talking. The Spanish people have led the way."
But Ridley's solution is a mirage. Bin Laden, in his statements since September 11, 2001, has shown no interest in words: "The only language between you and us is the sword that will strike your necks," he has said.
Doesn't Ridley make you just sick, though? If Taliban-style Islam is so great, why is she publishing books and giving lectures without a male relative in tow, instead of staying at home behind a screen like a proper woman should? Why does she let herself be photographed in public without a burka? What a hypocrite.
Anne 1:36 PM
Mad Max vs. Antiochus IV: If Mel Gibson really would take his well-gotten gain from The Passion of the Christ and make a movie about the Maccabees, would he please, please star in it?
I wonder if Evangelicals would flock to it as they have The Passion - after all, the story is considered "apocryphal" to Protestants.
But the story is perfect for our day. The Maccabees warred for three years against the evil Greek emperor Antiochus IV, who forced the Jews to apostasize, and stole from and fouled the Temple.
Abe Foxman is already weighing in, slamming Gibson by claiming that "in his hands, we'd wind up losing."
Anne 1:19 PM
Another phony "hate crime" exposed: When a Claremont-McKenna College psychology teacher's car was apparently vandalized as part of a "hate crime" last week, the entire campus closed down the following day to hold "teach-ins" about "hate crimes." One of the speakers was the "victim" herself.
But apparently Kerri Dunn was observed by witnesses to have vandalized her own car, broke windows, slashed tires, and covered it with racial epithets. Destroying your own car isn't considered a "hate crime," and teacher Kerri Dunn will probably only be charged with filing a false police report (a misdemeanor.)
The college is paying for a rental car for Dunn so she can get to work, and is still debating whether or not to renew her contract for next year.
Your tuition dollars at work, parents.
Anne 12:16 PM
What do you call a vegetarian who eats meat? A hypocrite.
Anne 12:01 PM
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
You go, girl! St. Petersburg high school freshman Ashley Schuering (age 15) remembered her dad's advice to "fight" when a man grabbed her and started dragging her away in an attempted abduction.
Schuering broke free and pushed the assailant in the chest, then ran for her life. The suspect, 56-year old drifter Harold Carroll, was later arrested with rope and duct tape in his car.
She deserves a medal for saving not only her own life, but possibly someone else's - the next victim who would come along.
Anne 7:21 PM
Troubled by painful memories? Wash them right out of your brain. Tee hee.
Anne 7:11 PM
Can't have it both ways:In today's Wall Street Journal, John Harwood (pg A4) claims: "Competitive Edge of US Is at Stake in the R&D Arena." Why? Because Singaporean students and those from five other Asian nations' eighth graders beat out US students.
Harwood doesn't say whether all the students took the same test (a critical omission that would have been nice to know), or precisely what test they took. As a former engineer, I like to know what instruments are being used; what their accuracy is; how they're calibrated, etc. But let's be kind and assume everyone took the same test in their own language.
Let's also be kind and assume - which I don't for one minute - that a score on some standardized test has anything to do with future "innovation."
Harwood claims that Asian countries "value educational achievement" more than the US. But what students in these Asian countries took these exams? Most First World nations have some sort of "tracking" system, where students around middle-school age are separated out into "vocational" and "academic" tracks. Only students from the "academic" tracks go on to the university.
If only academic students from other countries are taking these exams, then we have a case of the same instrument being used to measure two entirely different phenomena. Separate out the lower-performing students and only test those in the top percentiles (equivalent to higher-tracked non-US students.) *Then* compare scores.
Harwood also complains that fewer Americans are studying engineering and science. Why should they, when hundreds of thousands of jobs in these fields have been outsourced to India and China?
Anne 9:31 AM
Give us innovation, but not too much: John Harwood in the Capital Journal column (pg A4) of today's Wall Street Journal whines about how Asians (especially Singaporeans) are whipping our asses in the "innovation" department because their students do better on standardized tests than ours.
Actually, we have plenty of potential innovators in America. It's what we do with them - or don't do with them. The Radioactive Boy: The True Story of a Boy and his Backyard Nuclear Reactor by Ken Silverstein, reviewed in the Christian Science Monitor, describes a kid who in the early 1990s actually built a small breeder reactor at home:
David [Hahn]'s aptitude for science was phenomenal. From a 1960s-era book of chemistry experiments, he quickly gleaned the principles and skills of manipulating reactions, and expanded his capabilities with long hours of research at the library.
In an earlier age, boys like David Hahn went on to become inventors or applied scientists. What do we do today? Focus, as this review did, on the dangers of nuclear power or how neglected and dysfunctional Hahn's family was.
His safety record was literally stunning. Taking only the barest precautions, he remained unfazed by accidents that turned his hair green, burned his skin, or knocked him out cold. Larger blunders alarmed his father and stepmother, but he learned to cover up his failures.
At school, he was a poor student and terrible speller (the wall of his potting-shed laboratory carried the admonition: "Caushon"). His occasional claims of chemical and, later, nuclear research were dismissed by parents and teachers as attempts to get attention.
And so it was that with ingenuity and supplemental information from letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 17-year-old David gathered and refined - mostly from household products - enough radioactive material to make a crude breeder reactor in his backyard.
Then we sign the kids up for yet another SAT or ACT prep course. Got to keep up with the Singaporeans, you know.
Anne 9:22 AM
A Muslim Europe is on the way: It's worth revisiting this March 2003 article by Omar Taspinar in the Brookings Institute's online Foreign Policy journal, as it starkly lays out the demographic realities.
European Muslims, who number roughly 15 million, have a fertility rate that is three times that of Euro-ancestry Europeans. When you realize that the phenomenally low fertility rates of European countries, like 1.26 children per woman in Spain, *include* the Muslim populations, you see how few children non-Muslim Europeans are having. Taspinar says, "If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent."
Less well known is that in the past few years European Muslims have become citizens of their respective countries and have been given the franchise in record numbers.
A parallel process of Muslim enfranchisement is accompanying this population surge. Nearly half of the 5 million to 7 million Muslims in France are already French citizens. The situation is similar for most of the 2 million Muslims in Great Britain. Most recently, in 2000, Germany joined the countries where citizenship is granted according to birthplace instead of ancestry. The new German citizenship laws added already a half million voters to the rolls and have opened the road to citizenship to all other Muslims in Germany. With currently 160,000 new Muslim citizens a year, the number of voters might total 3 million in the next decade.
With these demographics, what are the various European countries actually going to do about Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups in their midst? These aren't students on visas who can be summarily deported. These are their own citizens providing the communities in which terrorism is nurtured.
Anne 8:44 AM
Colin Powell sells out American jobs as he reassures Indian leaders and college students that outsourcing of technology jobs will continue with the administration's blessing.
"The secretary made clear in his remarks that we are concerned when Americans lose jobs, and we are focused on creating jobs for American workers, and the best way to do that is to open markets around the world, including in India," said Claire Buchan, a spokeswoman for the White House.Secretary Powell also asked India nicely if they would please lower trade barriers against American imports, carefully pointing out that this was not a demand.
So much for trade parity. Is this administration trying as hard as it can to lose this election?
Anne 8:20 AM
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Always at the forefront of social de-evolution: The recently-ordained gay Episcopal bishop sighs longingly that he'd like to marry his "companion." They don't plan to break the law, however - I feel so reassured.
Anne 4:20 PM
Truth Hurts Department: The Council on American Islamic Relations wants the FCC to punish KFI AM 640 Radio in Southern California and Clear Channel Entertainment for airing a satirical program on Islam, with rude allusions to hairy women and "civil unions" between Iraqis and "loving camels and goats."
Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front of the war against terror one of our helpful Afghan allies was arrested for consummating his "loving civil union" with a donkey and then later released without charges. Presumably the donkey wasn't charged either.
Apparently the writers of the radio script weren't totally off base, if the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran is to be believed:
... [It] tells of an interesting ruling by the Ayatollah Khomeini concerning chickens you've had sex with, a practice permitted so men would not vent their urges in illegal ways, on women. Are you allowed to eat such chickens? No, said the Ayatollah: Neither you nor your next-door neighbour may eat the chicken, but the family two doors down is allowed to do so. One envisages a lively local street traffic in chickens. This incident is emblematic of the weirdness of matters sexual in Iran at this time ... ;Not just Iran, baby.
Anne 3:55 PM
American college-educated workers aren't the only ones with employment woes. Recent college grads in Communist China are begging for work in a flooded market, where salaries are 40% lower than last year.
One good side effect: fewer Chinese are studying abroad at American universities, down 6.3% from a year ago. A US degree apparently doesn't command a premium in the Chinese job market anymore.
Anne 3:44 PM
The "Franco-German axis" is dancing in the aisles over the Spanish Popular Party's defeat in this week's election. New Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero wants to put the proposed European Union constitution on the front burner. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points out:
The 263-page text drafted by Valery Giscard d'Estaing creates a full-time EU president and foreign minister.
It looks like Britain will be standing alone against a European "super-state" if the EU Constitution goes through as proposed.
It establishes the primacy of EU law over national law, doubles the power of the parliament, and creates a fully fledged supreme court with jurisdiction over justice and home affairs.
Downing Street is broadly happy with the text since Britain will keep the veto in key areas of taxation, foreign policy, and defence.
But without Spanish support, Poland will almost certainly buckle under pressure and search for a compromise formula. EU leaders are expected to set the tone for this at a Brussels summit next week, before reaching a final agreement in the summer.
What happens after the mechanism of this "superstate" is erected, with the bulk of power going to the "Franco-German axis," when Europe becomes majority-Muslim, as it's well on the way to doing in the next few decades?
Anne 10:01 AM
Monday, March 15, 2004
Al-Qaeda aren't the only ones celebrating the Socialist win in Spain. Under the Popular Party, Aznar's government had been a force of resistance against the unfair "weighting" of member states' votes under the proposed European Union constitution. France and Germany would obtain more influence, and smaller member states like Spain and Poland would have less. But the Socialist government is expected to give the go-ahead to the EU Constitution draft.
Anne 9:12 AM
Free speech and teen weblogs: Some Chicago parents and students don't get it. When a public high school girl's weblog was considered "offensive" because she made some derogatory comments about gay "marriage" and supposedly "[belittled] the impact of slavery," parents and fellow students screamed to have her disciplined.
Amazingly, Chicago public school officials informed the parents that disciplining a student for her musings in an off-campus weblog was not an option - that there still was a First Amendment.
Moscovitch and two other lawyers were called to the school after students were still questioning why the girl faced no discipline for her comments. The lawyers explained. "The comments weren't made in school. They may be opinions we don't like, but they're opinions," Moscovitch said. "The questions had to do with understanding the First Amendment and how our society protects free expression."This is an interesting remark, however. Are we to understand that a student who voiced opposition to "gay marriage" in school *would* be disciplined?
Anne 8:55 AM
Can't we just outsource them? While Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld adamantly insists that the Defense Department will not ask Congress for a Vietnam-War-style mass draft, some think the Selective Service Administration is gearing up for a "special skills" draft.
Computer experts and those with certain language skills (let me guess - Arabic?) would be targeted. The SSA already has a plan in place to draft medical personnel up to age 44 if necessary.
If there's no economic incentive for young people to study computer engineering, who is the DOD going to draft? Indians and Chinese?
Anne 8:31 AM
God help the Spaniards: They voted in the Socialists (although not to a complete majority.) Thus Al-Qaeda has shown that it can influence Spanish elections, as well as butcher Spaniards with impunity.
The "conservative" (for Europe, I guess) Popular Party of Prime Minister Aznar *blew it.* It's not possible to ruin something even more than they did. By blaming the Communist Basque separatists, even when initial physical evidence pointed to Islamic jihadists, they made themselves look not only stupid, but like liars.
They were more than a little slow on the uptake - had it possibly occurred to them that there was a greater enemy out there than Basque terrorism?
Well, I've got news for the Spaniards,who as a body politic are blowing it too. How vigorously did they press their government to crack down on Al-Qaeda cells after September 11, 2001? How much do they tolerate Islamic jihadis in their midst?
Instead of taking their anger out on President Bush, they should take it out on the jihadists. But they won't - and so guess what - their Socialist government isn't going to protect them one bit; instead, like Bill Clinton, they'll combine appeasement with ineffective response and thus Al-Qaeda will be emboldened.
The Spaniards, like the rest of Europe, are completely clueless as to the nature of their enemy. They all think if they just sit in the corner and repeat, "It's not us! It's not us!" that they'll be left alone. But Islam has wanted a Muslim Europe since the late 8th century. At this rate, they're going to get it.
Anne 8:12 AM
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Indian hypocrisy on outsourcing: Almost 200,000 US jobs in computer engineering have been outsourced to India over the past few years. The figure could reach 1.1 million in four short years. Yet India remains "one of the most closed economies in the world."
I know what we need to do. For every Indian working here in the US, India needs to allow a US citizen to live and work in India. For every Indian here on a student visa, India needs to allow an American student into the highly coveted Indian Institute of Technology. From what I read, India's tariffs on imported US goods are about three times the tariffs we impose on Indian goods imported into the US. That should change - our tariffs should be raised to the level of India's.
Then we will approach parity. No doubt the Indians will scream about it.
Anne 3:20 PM
Shoot them. That's what we should do to spies in times of war, even little miss tofu-won't-melt-in-their-mouths lovey dovey peace activists. Just send them to Guantanomo for the investigation, put them up in front of a military tribunal, and shoot them.
Anne 2:47 PM
Too senile to vote? First it was the old people fumbling their way through the old-fashioned punch card voting machines, not being able to read the ballots, etc. (Remember Chad's hanging danglies?) Now it seems they can't operate the new electronic voting machines either. This is only going to get worse, minna-san...
Anne 2:42 PM
"Blame [Eastern] Canada!" There really *are* conservative Canadians out there.
"Gay marriage, the decriminalization of marijuana, opposition to the Iraq war, these are all issues that the Americans find very sensitive, and the Canadian powers that be are rubbing it in their face," Mr. Danard said, listing issues on which the Liberal government differs with the Bush administration. "We in the west believe the Americans are punishing us for what the politicians back east are saying."
Conservative Canadians from the western provinces say they feel as if they're almost "another country." Maybe they need to be.
Nowhere is the anger more extreme than on the oil rigs in rural Alberta, where workers typically say their hard work is drained away by high taxes to satisfy Quebecers and welfare recipients.
Anne 2:39 PM
Another job "Americans won't do?" If poor rural and inner-city areas want to attract medical doctors without relying on immigrants, give the doctors immunity from malpractice suits. Allow the doctors serving these populations to "go bare" (practice without medical malpractice insurance.) Tell the public hospitals that they can't discriminate against "bare" doctors versus those that are insured, and refuse to allow malpractice suits against the hospitals for allowing "bare" doctors to practice.
Resurrect the medical student loan rebate program. Make it so that new doctors who practice in "under-served" areas for a decade after graduation would have their loans rebated. Allow these doctors to practice "bare" as well.
Rather than importing more immigrants, why not change state laws to allow paramedical professionals such as nurse-midwives, advanced nursing practitioners (with a master's in nursing & specialized training), physicians' assistants and others to practice and bill independently, within a limited range of practice? For instance, pediatric nurse practitioners could do well-baby exams, immunizations, screenings, and treat children's minor illnesses. Trained midwives could deliver babies independently in birthing centers or at home. Physicians' assistants could operate medical clinics for minor emergencies like lacerations, broken bones, acute illnesses.
Using non-MD specialists would greatly reduce costs and hopefully unclog emergency rooms full of the poor without primary care doctors, who show up there because they literally have nowhere else to go.
Anne 2:33 PM
Five arrested in Madrid terror attack: Three Moroccans, two with Indian passports. The press report delicately avoids any mention of religion, but there's a good chance they're Islamic jihadists.
So why has Spain been dancing around the issue for days, even after Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility?
Apparently it has to do with Spanish politics. As the article says,
If ETA [the Basque terrorist organization] is deemed responsible, that could boost support for Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's hand-picked candidate to succeed him as prime minister. Both have supported a crackdown on ETA, ruling out talks and backing a ban on ETA's political wing, Batasuna.
In other words, if the terrorists are identified as Basques, then that will help the front-running hand-picked successor to the current government. But if they're jihadis, that will hurt the front-runner. On the surface this makes no sense. But if Spaniards are true to European form, they will apparently blame Aznar and his alter ego, Rajoy, for bringing this attack on the country due to their evil affiliation with the "war on terror."
However, if Thursday's bombings are seen by voters as the work of al-Qaida, that could draw their attention to Aznar's vastly unpopular decision to endorse the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (news - web sites) and deploy Spanish troops there.
Opinion polls have put Rajoy 3-5 percentage points ahead of Socialist candidate Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. No surveys have been released since the attacks.
This is the quintessential delusion: that if we just sit there and shut up about Islamic terrorism, they'll somehow leave us alone. If Spanish voters *do* indeed think this way, they need a swift wakeup call, because the memory of jihadist Islam is very long, and the terrorists have scores to settle back to the days when Muslims lost the kingdom of Al-Andalus, in the days of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Once territory is conquered by Islam, and then liberated, jihadis consider it their sworn duty to return it to the Muslim fold. They won't rest until Spain is destroyed as a Christian country. If this article is indeed accurate, the Spanish haven't quite figured it out yet.
Anne 2:10 PM
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Stupid headline of the month award: Study Examines STD Rates of Teen Virgins. Uh, excuse me, Mr. Albert Writer Einstein, but by definition virgins don't have sex. Thus these teenagers who resolve not to have sex, and then have sex, are no longer virgins when they have sex - and therefore aren't virgins when they have STDs.
Maybe refraining from sex actually causes the STDs.
Anne 5:39 PM
Nattering nannyism out of control: Of course we're eating ourselves to death. The alternative is starving ourselves to death.
I don't believe these 300,000 / 400,000 deaths a year *directly attributable* to obesity. Not every fat person who dies got sick and died because they were fat. Not every person who dies is even fat. What are the *real* numbers, not just the scare-tactic ones?
This is about lawsuits and grabbing money from not only the fast food companies, but *any* food manufacturers at all. Don't think it will stop with Big Macs - every objection raised to a fast-food sandwich can also be lobbed at butter, cheese, whole milk, eggs, meat. (For some reason the Food Nannies don't believe that carbohydrates can also make them fat if they just eat enough of them.)
Anne 5:35 PM
More Nannyism: Anti-smoking organization wants movies that show characters smoking to receive R-ratings.
Would someone please sue the MPAA and theaters for *something* - you legal types figure it out - anti-trust violations; racketeering; age discrimination, *whatever,* for this ratings system? It makes no sense and is just another form of nattering nannyism. If it's OK with *me*, the parent, that our children see R-rated movies (such as The Matrix and sequels), and instead think that many PG-13 "teen movies" are sluttish garbage that should be avoided, then *that's my call.* I don't need the theater being the parent for me.
Anne 5:21 PM
Mad Max Goes to Jerusalem: What a movie The Passion of Christ is. If Hieronymus Bosch were alive today, he'd make this film, instead of painting scary triptyches.
Most of the critics (especially the ones who haven't seen it yet) have been issuing condemnations full of nonsense. They're offended, jealous, and resentful of a successful religious film, and most media outlets should just get it over with and fire most of them.
As far as the supposed "anti-Semitism" goes, I don't think director Mel Gibson intended to be deliberately anti-Jewish.
Visually, however, some of the Sanhedrin *do* indeed look like unpleasant and threatening WW II images of Jews, such as these posters from the Nazi-era films like Jude Suss or Der Ewige Jude.
The Romans, the Sanhedrin, and most of the Jerusalem crowds are portrayed as snarling, vicious, and sadistic. Modern people have trouble with these images, but medieval people understood and expected them. To me, Gibson looks like he might have been directly inspired by both Hieronymus Bosch's Christ Carrying the Cross and a similar painting by Bosch's contemporary Martin D'arcy, called On the Way to Calvary.
Both images emphasize the cruelty of the crowd through ugliness and distortion. As the D'arcy notes point out,
Christ, appearing humble and faint, struggles to keep up with the mob under the weight of a large cross. Wearing a crown of thorns and with nail-studded boards attached to his feet, he is led mercilessly by one rope as he is flogged with another. The destination of the procession is a gnarled cross at the far right of the composition. The bones lying at the foot of the cross identify the site as Golgatha, the legendary location of Christ's crucifixion and Adam's burial. A thief kneels beneath the cross to give his last confession to a red-nosed friar. The man standing behind the thief places a hand on his shoulder, the only humane gesture evident in the painting.
The Passion also has extra-biblical spooky elements that just fit in perfectly, and Gibson is to be commended for incorporating them. By now we all know that the Devil is played by a woman, but in reality the character is androgynous. The evil Herod and his court are grotesquely effeminate. Christ, by contrast, is resolutely masculine - he has muscles and physical weight; in fact, he's one of the few film portrayals you could imagine doing any realy work, and his Mother is feminine without being saccharine.
It has been suggested that this compassionate figure may be a portrait of Hieronymus Bosch, the artist after whose work The Way to Calvary was modeled. The D'Arcy's painting closely resembles Bosch's Christ Carrying the Cross, now in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna. ... In keeping with Bosch's style, the faces of the figures in The Way to Calvary are ugly and distorted. The friar's red nose, an allusion to drunkenness, is a cynical commentary of the clergy, a favorite topic of Bosch.
Several critics have carped about the treatment of Pontius Pilate - that he's too refined, too urbane, too "nice." That just reflects historical ignorance. The Romans did not send uncouth, moronic boors out to govern provinces. The brutality of the foot soldiers and the urbane reserve of Pilate perfectly complemented one another. Smooth, sophisticated urbanity can damn a man as well as brutality.
In fact, the entire film is perfectly clear in portraying everyone's motives. The Sanhedrin (who as mostly Saducees were the "liberals" of their day, interestingly) simply wanted to preserve their status quo from being squished on both sides: the Romans on one, and "threats" from within like John the Baptist and now Jesus. Pilate's afraid of the consequences to himself if the Jews riot. The mob just wants a socially-sanctioned way to satisfy their blood lust through popular entertainment. The Devil wants to see Christ give up His freely-chosen sacrifice.
The few spooky mystical elements are perfectly done. Normally I hate to include these kinds of details, but one is just fascinating. After Jesus has been arrested by the Sanhedrin, His Mother is walking across the Temple courtyard, and bends down to listen to something on the floor. We hear this whooshy, breathy sound, and the camera pans to below, where Jesus is chained up in a cell below the Temple floor. I took this as a reference to the "Well of Souls" which is supposed to reside underneath the Temple Mount.
This is highly interesting theologically, because in some Jewish accounts the Well of Souls is two things. First, it's a cave carved out of a larger stone called the "Foundation Stone." When God first made matter, and it was still in the unformed state of the "primordial waters," He was supposed to have taken a piece from His own throne and cast it down into the Abyss. At that point where it struck the Abyss, it became the "seed" which coalesced into physical matter, and all of the rest of physical creation spread outwards from it. In other words, the Foundation Stone is the literal center of the world.
The Well of Souls in the Foundation Stone is supposedly the point of opening between the "mundane" and the spiritual world. The breathing sound is supposed to be the movement of souls themselves in and out. Arab legend says that the souls of the dead collect there to pray; other Jewish beliefs include that they collect there and are then reborn, or arrive at this point newly created to enter the world.
So showing Christ literally underneath the Temple, and visually alluding to Christ as the "true foundation" through the Foundation Stone / Well of Souls link makes for some pretty interesting use of iconology that hasn't been seen in the West for a long time.
Those uncomfortable with this movie would probably do better seeing it an a living, moving 15th-16th century painting, rather than the typical gauzy, rationalistic "gentle Jesus" movie we've all been used to for decades. Unfortunately churches have been stripped of their didactic art, which after all was how illiterate or poorly-educated people apprehended the Christian faith for centuries - not through theological treatises or self-help seminars or Adult Education forums. Spooky, highly visual Christianity has left the churches and come to the multiplex instead.
Anne 5:06 PM
Saturday, March 06, 2004
A software engineer writes:
The way outsourcing is supposed to work is this: four engineers are supposed to work in the American time zone, 20 in the Indian time zone. Total man-hour yield is 24 people for the cost of 8 Americans. Now the four in America supposedly develop the requirements, write specifications, break down the tasks, and manage the 20 Indians mostly remotely. They supposedly know the customer or the market. The 20 code monkeys in India code per specification. So you really need four American engineers that really know how to write very good detailed specifications. The remote management is the tough part.
There are a couple of serious problems with this model. First, there's the whole issue of remote management and all the inefficiencies associated with it.
Second, this model does not allow someone in the US coming out of school to get a code monkey job, gain experience and learn how to lead a project. Even as a "new hire" in America his labor is deemed "too expensive." In my mind that is the key problem. With no entry level positions, how will the new guys learn?
Finally, a major problem is that the levels form a pyramid today, with just a small number on the top leading / managing the projects. The bottom and a large part of the middle looks like it is going to be eaten and sent to India. So we end up with another economic factor in our country that eliminates the lower to middle part of the middle class. More Americans are pushed down to the upper end of the lower class, and maybe a few more move up to the upper end of the middle class. The end result is a more polarized society, which is a very bad thing.
Anne 7:12 AM
Thursday, March 04, 2004
I challenge them to try walking in St. Louis: Supposedly we're one of the "best walking cities in the US," at #12 on a list of 125.
Our two-week spring and equally short fall provide very little chance to walk in optimum weather.
Otherwise, it's summer and winter only. In summer, it seems like half the time we're being warned to stay inside because of a "heat alert." If you are brave enough to venture out, watch the cars, as many of the St. Louis County municipalities have no sidewalks. Or watch your step: many sidewalks that are poorly maintained, and many St. Louisans haven't quite caught on to the various cities' "pooper scooper" laws.
Winter is even more fun than summer. Around where I live, we're unusual in that we actually shovel our walks, being lucky enough to have them. That doesn't help much with walking around the neighborhood, as I'm not generous to shovel everyone else's. After a few bouts of freezing rain, snow, and a thaw/freeze cycle over a couple of days, the sidewalks are like miniature ice arenas.
I wonder if those doing the study really spent any time here at all.
Anne 11:09 AM
More thoughts on the Rightful Queen of Narnia: I'd like to help Disney out by putting together a little list of all the pressure organizations who can complain if Disney/Walden *really* did the Chronicles of Narnia up right, because CS Lewis's original portrayals are just too "hateful" for our modern sensibilities.
It wouldn't surprise me if these politically-incorrect elements will have to be changed, when you think of it:
Witches: The witchcraft groups are going to yelp about how all the witches are portrayed as bad, and will no doubt insist on changes like making the White Witch the "White Lady's Servant" and the murderous Green Witch the "Green Nature Spirit Worshipper."
Women warriors will be offended by all the nasty sexist references against girls not being warriors and not fighting (at various times.) There's also a nasty reference to "scolding like a schoolgirl" which will just have to go.
Turks: No doubt the government of Turkey will have to be consulted as to the advisability of Edmund being tempted by the candy called *Turkish* Delight.
The anti-obesity crusaders: won't be happy with Edmund stuffing himself on Turkish Delight, or for that matter Father Christmas's gift of the feast to the animals. They should be eating tofu and vegetables instead.
Calormenes: Just call CAIR right now and get it over with. Here's an interesting discussion between a couple of postmodern deconstructionists on the side of Tash complaining about Lewis's portrayal of those nasty pointy-shoed slave traders of the East.
School principals: The portrayal of the "mixed" (i.e. coeducational) progressive school at the beginning of The Silver Chair has to be read to be believed. The principal tolerates all sorts of bullying and abuse, and as Lewis says, "The school was not so mixed as the minds of those who ran it," or something like that. Can't have anti-school sentiments clogging up this children's story.
Pro-immigration groups: will take issue with how "foreigners" are portrayed. Eustace likes books with pictures of "fat foreign children doing exercises" - the little pervert...
Governors of the various states will no doubt want to complain through the National Governor's Association that the governor in Prince Caspian is a fat, obnoxious, law-breaking, slave-trading toady.
Child abuse, or at least threats of it, are rampant as the Talking Mouse Reepicheep desperately wants to lash Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Discrimination against the handicapped will doubtless offend, as the one-legged Dufflepuds (in Voyage of the Dawn Treader) are considered "ugly."
The Name of Aslan, the Great Lion who allegorically represents God, will no doubt offend Voice of Aztlan radicals, because the dictatorial, patriarchal, sexist Lion's name might be confused with the great proletarian struggle to liberate the Soutwest from its Yankee imperialist, oh ... you get the picture.
Depressed people are portrayed as actually being justified in their black and gloomy outlooks (in the person of the Marshwiggle Puddleglum), rather than cheerfully gobbling anti-depressants in the face of danger.
E-mail me with any other ideas: we really have to help Disney out here.
Anne 8:46 AM
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
What's wrong with Swedish kids, that video games make them fat and violent?
Anne 2:06 PM
The whinefest over The Passion of the Christ continues among the (un)critical classes. Meanwhile, where's the outrage over Muslim extremist religious violence? Why is it that Islamic terrorist expressions of child abuse like this *never* go unchallenged?
Anne 1:58 PM
It will be "always winter and never Christmas" when Disney and Walden Media get through with adapting CS Lewis's Narnia books for the big screen.
They're budgeting $100 million for the first film alone. Disney will have worldwide distribution rights and all rights to future films in the series, if any.
The director is Andrew Adamson ("Shrek.") While Shrek was funny, somehow Eddie Murphy as a jackass, and crude ogre body function jokes probably won't translate well to the Narnia stories, which are Christian fables where the Great Lion Aslan sacrifices himself and is resurrected to save Narnia from the depredations of the evil White Witch.
Not to worry, though: Walden Media CEO Cary Granat reassures us that the Narnia stories are really "about empowerment and fractured families coming together."
Gag me with a stick. My friend Rich Kent writes:
I can see it now. Episode I: "The Carnivore, The Matriarch, and The Wooden Coffin for the Skins of Murdered Animals". Script changed after practicing witches around the world decry the portrayal of the so-called "murder" of the tyrant Aslan at the hands of the matriarch Queen of Narnia.
I can't wait.
Episode V: "The Traitorous Little Weasel, the Matriarch, and the Magician". How a nasty little boy interfered with the rightful rulership of the Queen of Narnia.
Episode VI: "The Lion-Worshippers Finally Get Theirs" (show ends when King Tirian is thrown into the barn and it is set afire by the forces of Tash).
Anne 1:51 PM
Get ready for Haiti Redux if this pinko lefty now running Bermuda gets his way. He wants to separate the country from the British Commonwealth, saying that only then can Bermuda "fully develop."
Right. He's looking for an excuse to nationalize Bermuda's wealth, and then seize and loot it. The US Marines might as well pencil it in on their dance card.
Anne 1:26 PM
Jonah Goldberg 1, Terry McAuliffe 0: Goldberg scores Democratic National Committee boss McAuliffe for complaining about a possible anti-gay-marriage amendment to the US Constitution.
"Our Constitution, a sacred document - you know, our forefathers knew what they were doing. This wasn't a rough draft. And let's not try to continually do amendments to it as we move forward. Well, slap me, but I agree with McAuliffe here.
Let's get rid of the 14th Amendment: maybe unborn babies would be considered automatically to have the full protection of the law, and the children of illegal immigrants wouldn't get to be citizens. States would actually have the autonomy the framers intended.
Throw out the federal income tax.
Prohibition was an incredibly stupid idea (good thing we got to repeal it, though.)
Senators shouldn't be elected by popular vote. Let's see: we would have possibly done without the inestimable services of Teddy Kennedy, Bob Kerry, Hillary Clinton, to name just a few.
I'm beginning to think the amendment giving women the vote was a bad idea as well (think Hillary Clinton as president in 2008, voted in by all the Oprah-watching soccer moms who think she's such a great "role model." Think Madeleine Albright, or Maxine Waters.) Anyway, women got Prohibition passed *without* having the vote - that should have been a wake-up call right there.
As far as the anti-poll tax (24th amendment), notice that the text says "or any other tax." What's in principle wrong with not being able to vote until you pay your taxes?
Perhaps McAuliffe would like to enlighten us as to just which amendments from 11-26 *he* would like to see eradicated.
Anne 1:13 PM
"Voting is for Old People" says a t-shirt at Urban Outfitters. Good. Keep the teens and young adults at home in front of MTV and away from the caucus meetings and polling places.
I've suggested to our teenager to not talk about voting or the election *at all* to those at school; they're almost all liberals and will no doubt vote for Kerry.
Anne 12:54 PM
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
"A voodoo adventure in nation-building" is what columnist Wesley Pruden calls President Bush's sending of US Marines to the "benighted island of Hispaniola," AKA Haiti.
It's time to *stop.* What possible interest do we have in Haiti? Why are our soldiers - when we are running a deficit, and when we are already committed to "nation-building" in Iraq - being sent to Haiti? People need to tell their representatives and senators that this empire building is getting old - and expensive, in both money *and* lives.
Anne 2:25 PM
Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns watch: The European Union reaffirms its support for terrorist leader Yasser Arafat.
Meanwhile, the Vatican advances the "father of the European Union" down the road to sainthood. This shows that theological discernment does not always translate into political discernment.
Anne 2:20 PM
Muslims want schools closed on "their" holidays in Baltimore County, MD. Two questions: first, how many Christian holidays are celebrated in Saudi Arabia - or just about any other majority-Muslim country? Second, what would happen to Christians in such countries if they lobbied to have school closed on Christmas?
Anne 2:16 PM
An outsourced worker speaks: Boeing's commercial aircraft division is working as hard as it can to outsource computer engineering / software jobs to India. One laid-off worker had this experience:
The issue is painfully immediate to Stephen Gentry, an Auburn resident who worked as a Boeing software developer and program analyst for 16 years and expected he'd retire from Boeing, until he was laid off July 25. Gentry spent his last three months at Boeing training an employee of Infosys Technologies Ltd., the Bangalore-based software contractor that took over his job. About six others in his group lost their jobs at the same time, he said.
Making someone train their overseas replacement is like forcing someone to weave the rope that's going to be used to hang them.
Gentry, 51, said he had stayed current in his skills while at Boeing, moving from older languages like Cobol to working in C++ and Unix. Now he's about to run out of unemployment benefits, has not found another job, and is struggling to support his wife and three children.
As it stands now, workers forced to train their own replacements are considered "laid off," and thus eligible for compensation packages and unemployment benefits. If they refuse to "dig their own grave" (excuse me, train replacement workers) they can be fired "for cause," and thus will lose unemployment benefits and severance.
But this needs to change. State laws should make an exception, so that workers whose jobs are lost specifically to overseas outsourcing *will* obtain unemployment benefits, and any other benefits given by the company to laid off workers, even if they quit as soon as they are notified of the outsourcing. In other words, even if they refuse to "dig their graves," they should still receive unemployment compensation.
This will have the result of making it *less* financially attractive to companies to send jobs overseas - perhaps not enough to make a difference now, but it's a start. Think of it as an indirect tariff.
Anne 1:55 PM
"Magic Kingdom" wants other sources of revenue besides oil, apparently. So they have decided for the first time to issue tourist visas. Little problem, however: in the first round of tourist information on this web site, it was noted thatJews needed not apply.
(Also banned were Arabs - even Muslims - who live in Israel and/or have an Israeli stamp on their passports. No Mecca pilgrimages for you, guys.)
Leaving aside the question of why any Jew would *want* to go to Saudi Arabia in the first place, I suppose we can count it as modest progress that the anti-Jewish policy has caused Saudi Arabia some embarrassment, enough to remove the references.
Anne 1:44 PM
But ... but ... but "school choice" was supposed to *solve* the problem... Teachers in Tuscon, AZ went on a one-day strike at the Cesar Chavez and Aztlan Academy charter schools, complaining that students' behavior was so unruly, rude, and out of control that teaching there was impossible.
I especially love the name "Aztlan Academy." "Aztlan" is the name radical Mexicans give the parts of the United States which they lost in the Mexican-American War (part of CA, TX, NM, and AZ.) Using the name "Aztlan" is essentially using public funds to propagate a new secessionist movement which is highly anti-Semitic as well.
Didn't we fight a little war over that once? The Stars and Bars on a t-shirt or book cover will get a student punished, but we can *name* a school after a Mexican secessionist movement.
But that little bit of hypocrisy aside, let's focus on the real meat of the story, which is that "school choice" has been put forth repeatedly as a panacea for every education ill, especially among minorities. Here, however, is a charter school - supposedly freed of all the "bureacracy," freed of voter input through a duly-elected school board, freed of the evil teachers' union, and guess what - it's unworkable! The teachers have to strike anyway, because their working conditions sound atrocious.
Why are they atrocious? Because the students are unsocialized and don't know how to behave themselves. How are charter schools supposed to solve this?
Anne 1:26 PM
Monday, March 01, 2004
My "best movies" list for 2003-2004 (so far) in alpha order:
Master and Commander
A Mighty Wind
Mona Lisa Smile
Peter Pan (dir: PJ Hogan)
School of Rock
Anne 10:00 AM
Real-life Passion suffered in Muslim countries daily, as Canadian columnist Licia Corbella points out.
While so many critics are yapping about the "inaccuracy" of Mel Gibson's rendition of Christ's suffering before His crucifixion in The Passion of The Christ, Corbella reminds us that in Muslim countries under sha'ria law, people experience that kind of brutal scourging routinely and die from it.
She mentions an Iranian man "with ties to Canada" who died after receiving 80 lashes for the crimes of owning a satellite dish and hosting a small private party where his sisters had contact with "unrelated boys." He turned himself in to the Iranian authorities to be flogged, trying to spare his sisters from being lashed for "having boyfriends." (His sisters were lashed and abused anyway.)
Theater critics, liberal clergy, and liberal Jewish groups are wetting their diapers over Gibson's filmed scourging. Where's the outrage over Christ being crucified daily in the bodies of Muslims who simply want a little normal human freedom?
Anne 8:51 AM
Best Animation: Finding Nemo Good. Brother Bear was smarmy and misanthropic (the lead character actually chooses life as a bear over life as a human being.) Triplets of Belleville was marred by cheap anti-American fat jokes.
Anne 8:36 AM
Kiwis rule at the Oscars with Lord of the Rings: Return of the King walking away with eleven Oscars, including Best Picture, and Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Peter Jackson. Not bad for a former Grade-B slasher film maker.
ROTK also won a host of technical Oscar awards, including art direction, musical score, costume design, and visual effects.
Jackson's success will probably inspire more studios to try the "seamless shooting" approach to stories that span multiple movies. Jackson built his sets and spent over $300 million dollars to film all three films at once. It was a risk that paid off, because the resulting "look" was spectacular.
The movie didn't do much for me personally, probably because I'd read the books so long ago, and so often, and had my own visual impression of what everything was "supposed" to look like. However, I'm glad to see ROTK draw so much recognition, because it's a vindication of the entire genre.
Anne 8:24 AM