Saturday, June 30, 2007

Coincidence? I Think Not

I was at the gym this morning with my wife and she noticed on the news that a flaming car had crashed into Glasgow Airport. This, in conjunction with the terror plots that were "foiled"yesterday (I would say botched rather than foiled, but I could be mistaken), seems to imply that these are a concerted attack on the United Kingdom. On one hand, this is again somewhat failed. Clearly their bombmaker is not the brightest man on the planet. That's a good thing. On the downside though, just as the first terror attacks everywhere have seemed a bit bush league, this is not going to get better, it will just get worse. Eventually they won't misfire or just cause a fire at an airport. Instead, it will lead to bombs that actually work. Those could grow in complexity and size until they cause some real damage.
What does al Qaeda or whomever really want from this? It's not just a matter of getting out of the Middle East, they want full capitulation. Of course, Britain isn't Spain and I see this turning out badly for everyone. The British won't just give in (see Hitler, Adolf). I think that sometimes people see democracies' desire for peace as a weakness (and it is) and think that that trend will continue. However, if they aren't careful we will bring the thunder down (for a few years anyway).
Also, here's a little more on yesterday's plot:

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Quick Hits/Miscellany

A lot of thoughts for today and I know that if I try to make a post out of each of them, most will go either as little tiny posts or else unsaid.
  • Disney is stopping the direct to DVD blight that was their sequels to classic Disney films. While that won't stop films that have already been made and possibly not ones that were already greenlit, this has to be counted as one of the greatest developments in the history of childrens filmmaking. Thank you Lasseter and Jobs for stopping the endless Disney rape of my childhood. While Disney wasn't ever on the On Notice section here, they should have been as they were certainly On Notice for that.'re hereby off notice.
  • The Supreme Court struck down racial quotas for school enrollment. While I can see why this could be seen as a setback for civil rights, it's actually a step forward. I can see why it would have been necessary in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education because the South had to be forcibly integrated, but at this point in time it's a setback for civil rights. The best quote on the subject that I've ever heard is from Chief Justice Roberts (who has been a stellar pick so far IMO): "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." That's a novel concept that has been ignored by too many for too long.
  • Dual car bombs in London that probably should have exploded last night in Picadilly Circus is not a good sign for the British (or the US for that matter). Based on a variety of factors (including the use of Mercedes Benzes - the third world dictator/Arab terrorist car of choice) you might as well assume that this is the work of Islamic extremists that may or may not be a part of al Qaeda. The big question that I have is why Britain is such a fat target. I honestly would think that the US would be a jucier one, but ever since September 11 we haven't had anything happen. Meanwhile in Britain they've had Richard Reid (could technically be a plot against us too, as it was a Transatlantic flight), the subway bombings, last year's airline plot (see Richard Reid's parentheses), and now this. Someone's mad at them for being more than just the Little Satan. It's no coincidence that only about 10 days ago those al Qaeda "attack the West" training videos appeared from under some Pakistani stone. While these wouldn't have approached the destructive level that the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut did, Picadilly Circus is teeming with people and there could easily have been hundreds of casualties.
  • The iPhone is out, let the madness ensue!
  • Finally, in the movies that I must see before the end of summer category, A Mighty Heart. I got the book when it came out a few years back and it was absolutely incredible. If you haven't read it, I highly (moreso than anything else I've reviewed here) recommend reading it. You can pick it up right here for under 3 bucks for the hardcover (+ S&H). Take a look at the trailer. If you are in the market for a movie and aren't opposed to R ratings, see this film:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

iEnvy 4

While I might have the iPhone on the brain, at least I'm not like these guys. I was headed to lunch today and saw these guys camping outside the AT&T store waiting for their iPhone. I know a guy is doing the same thing in front of the 5th Avenue Apple Store in New York, but I haven't heard of this line starting phenomenon anywhere else. Of course, we are in Utah and here in Utah line creating and line standing in are both sports that we excel in.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

iEnvy 3

Here's a shiggety-sweet video where Walt Mossberg reviews the iPhone. I still want it a ton, but I'm tempted to hold out until Apple releases the 2G iPhone with HSDPA support and 16 GB of memory and MP3 ringtones.

Opera Man

I have to say that I'm impressed by the winner of Britain's Got Talent. Here's a guy who's just an ordinary, nice person who has a love for all things opera. According to the MSNBC story here, "As a child growing up in southern Wales, Potts was teased about his weight, his clothes and called names by other boys in school. At home, he found comfort singing opera.
“I’ve just always sung. That’s always been something I’ve done,” Potts explained. “My voice has been my best friend. When other things have gotten me down, my voice has always been there.” Lacking confidence and beset by health problems, Potts racked up debt. But he never gave up.
In 2003, he married a woman he met through an Internet dating service. With the encouragement of his wife, Julie-Ann, Potts did some voice training with Pavarotti and others before entering Britain’s Got Talent."
What a great story, and this couldn't have happened to a better person. I know a lot of people who have a love for all things Oprah, but opera not as much. Take a look at his debut performance and then his dressed up performance, they're well worth the few minutes.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The International Herald Tribune has an incredible story about the most wounded soldier ever to survive. He was shot in the head and the bullet severed his spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic. That was followed by a couple of heart attacks caused by his injuries that left him blind with some brain damage. While his family has spared no expense in saving him and while it'[s incredible that he's alive, this seems to have an element of "Look What We Can Do With Science" to it. Here you have someone who for all intents and purposes is a brain. He's a brain that can't see or move and that can barely communicate. If those are his wished, bully for him because I know that I could never do it. Sure you could hear, but you'd be stuck inside your head for eternity. I honestly would beg to be put out of commission at that point. It's gone too far, there's no life left to be lived. I would be a burden on my family and on myself. Let me pass over to the other side and everyone would be happier. Really it's incredible this is possible, but just because it can be done doesn't mean it should be done.

Monday Links/Quick Hits

A couple of interesting articles in the Journal today:
1. They have an opinion piece on The New Deal. I realize that's not cutting edge reporting right there, but it is interesting to see something different than the "FDR was Jesus" business that we get a lot. The writer does a great job separating FDR's World War II policy from his New Deal policies. The key quote? "The real question about the 1930s is not whether it is wrong to scrutinize the New Deal. Rather, the question is why it has taken us all so long. Roosevelt did famously well by one measure, the political poll. He flunked by two other meters that we today know are critically important: the unemployment rate and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In his first inaugural address, Roosevelt spoke of a primary goal: "to put people to work." Unemployment stood at 20% in 1937, five years into the New Deal. As for the Dow, it did not come back to its 1929 level until the 1950s."
2. They talk about the current state of affairs with Iran (this one's free). I know that it's the gospel doctrine that the neoconservatives want to take the fight to Iran and it will be their fault if we get in a war with Iran. That is partially right I think, but at the same time I think the war will be of Iran's choosing at this point. It's too big a country and we're not in a position to take things up a notch right now. Frim the article: "The apparent meaning of all of this pointless provocation and bullying is that the axis of radicals--Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah--is feeling its oats. In part its aim is to intimidate the rest of us, in part it is merely enjoying flexing its muscles. It believes that its side has defeated America in Iraq, and Israel in Gaza and Lebanon. Mr. Ahmadinejad recently claimed that the West has already begun to "surrender," and he gloated that " final victory . . . is near." It is this bravado that bodes war."
3. Finally, an idea that I don't recall where I saw. Instead of creating a new Palestinian state, why doesn't Israel give the land back? Gaza can go to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. There may be a war at some point between the nations over Hamas or Fatah's operations into Israel, but it may solve some things. Then again, if I was either of those nations, I wouldn't want anything to do with either plot of land. Gaza is some of the most densely populated land on the planet and it'd be murder to try and get it back under control. The West Bank would be less problematic, however at the same time, does King Abdullah really want to deal with the same mess that his father did in the 60s and 70s? They kicked the Palestinians out once, and they may do it again. Those are both serious traps for the Arab nations if they ever stop hating Israel enough to turn their attention to Palestine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Draw A Line in the Sand

Check out the Redistricting game from a group at USC. While not all learning can be fun, in this case it is. You get to learn how redistricting can work, does work, and should work. Give it a gander!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Matter of Time

It was inevitable that we would find out about something like this sooner or later, but here come the al Qaeda suicide bombers. Who knows if they'll make it over here or not, but the tactic has been so successful in Israel that I'm surprised it hasn't happened here yet.
Why is suicide bombing the terrorist weapon of choice? Part of it has been the cult of martyrdom that exists among Middle Eastern terror groups. Ever since Hezbollah pioneered suicide bombings in the 1980s they have been used with varying degrees of effectiveness by everyone from the Tamil Tigers to al Qaeda. Nevertheless, their use has been confined primarily to conflict areas, i.e. Israel, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and so on. The US mainland has never been hit by a traditional suicide bomber, although you could argue that the September 11 attacks were by suicide bombers (in the more classic kamikaze sense). The suicide attack is seen as something honorable - you are blessed with virgins and other assorted luxuries as a suicide bomber and you even get a stipend paid to your family from whichever group you are associated with. In addition, it has been inculcated in many young Muslims that this is what you do for your life.
What does that say about a society as a whole? The highest station in your life isn't to be a doctor or President or even a basketball player. It's to be a martyr and throw yourself into innocent civilians in order to change political opinion. If the best thing you can do with life is to throw it away, why build a society at all? We're starting to see some of the ripple effects of this policy not only in Lebanon (which, let's face it, has problems far beyond suicide bombers) but also in the Palestinian areas of Israel. Instead of working to create a new society, they're applying the same ethos they've had for the past 30 years - terror is the lingua franca of society. They see themselves as a perpetual underclass and are always fighting for the little man. Until they can see those problems and realize that there's more to life than martyrdom then they will never have a stable society.
The problems this could create for the US are several-fold. If we do have a wave of suicide bombers coming our way what are we going to do? Several movies and/or TV shows have touched on this idea, most notably The Siege. If a Muslim terrorist gets on a NYC bus and blows it to kingdom come and that is followed up by a subway attack in Washington, DC would we be able to keep civil liberties intact for all US citizens or would Muslims be rounded up into concentration camps? Would Posse Comitatus be rolled back to allow military personnel to guard everything from busses to buildings? Or would we just take baby steps like putting cameras in subways like they did in London with perhaps more metal detectors further out from landmarks with staging areas of sorts like what the Israelis have done with the Gaza crossing? I certainly hope for more of the latter than the former, with a clear preference towards none of the above, but I know that when citizens are presented with a choice between liberty and safety, 9 times out of 10 they'll choose safety.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Again with the Fatwahs

You have to feel bad for Salman Rushdie.  First he had to live off the grid for a decade hiding from every Islamic terrorist because Ayatollah Khomeni said he should die for blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed in the book The Satanic Verses.  That right there raises some problems, for one, looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life.  It's was an even more extreme reaction than the one that was unleashed against various European newspapers last year when they printed some pictures that were less than respectful towards the tenets of Islam.  While I don't think that people should disrespect other peoples' religions, at the same time you can't try to kill someone just because they disagree with you or they disparage you.  Anyway, that beside the point, now some clerics are starting to call for terror attacks on the United Kingdom because they've knighted Rushdie.  In addition, Khomeini's fatwah won't ever be rescinded, despite some thoughts earlier that it wasn't really in effect anymore.  That's a double whammy right there.  Again I ask, why (even though it wasn't the brightest move ever) should Britain be a terror target because they're honoring an infidel?  They're all infidels anyway, so what's the difference?  I really don't understand this line of logic.  If someone can help me out, that would be great, because I just can't wrap my hands around it.  The British are being targeted by association.  Why not target for selling it or whomever the publishers are for publishing it, or even the readers for reading it?  Where along the line does someone make that transition from normal person to target?

Friday, June 15, 2007

So Much for Peace in the Middle East

Since all has been quiet on the Israeli-Palestinian front lately, Hamas and Fatah have decided to duke it out amongst themselves for supremacy. As of right now, the new status quo is to have the West Bank under Fatah control and Gaza ruled by Hamas.

What does this mean for Israel and for the Middle East? It's tough to say if this is a good development or a bad one for Israel. On one hand, when the Palestinians are fighting themselves, they aren't fighting Israel. On the other, is this just creating extremism in one more part of their neighborhood, like what happened with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s?
I think that while it's a short-term positive for Israel, it's not in their best interest for this to continue. The reason for this is because of that extremism. It was good for Israel initially to have the PLO, Druze, Maronites, Shiites, and Sunnis all fighting each other in Lebanon for a few years - the PLO was busy protecting their interests in Lebanon and not as interested in destroying Israel, however things took a turn for the worse when a new generation of fighters rose up from the ashes of that conflict to turn against Israel, dragging them into a conflict that they couldn't win. This is a disturbing development in that sense for a couple of reasons. One is that this Lebanon could threaten to engulf not just Gaza but also the West Bank, throwing chaos into the mix on two sides of the country. Second is that these Palestinian groups are already somewhat radicalized and for them to fight each other now means that they don't know what else to do. The Palestinians have been fighting the fight in one way or another for over 50 years, with Arab nations confining them to refugee camps in part to keep them marginalized, part to keep them radicalized, like keeping a pit bull in a cage and feeding it just enough to keep it alive. When they broke out (somewhat), they got their own nation, or a part of it and thought "what do we do now?" A whole society has grown up exploited and fighting for survival and I don't know if they can change. The younger generation has a chance, but even if Hamas and Fatah end up compromising and recreating some sort of coalition government, others will come along. It seems almost as if it is the lot of the Palestinians to be a destabilizing force in the Middle East. There is, of course, always a chance that something may change, but for now I don't see a way for them to break this cycle of violence. In order for peace to ever have a chance the Palestinian problem has to be resolved and not by Israel, Syria, Egypt, or anyone else. At this point in time the ball is in the Palestinians' court. They have to take the lead.
*Visit the New York Times for some fantastic pictures of the recent problems in Gaza

It's Back, in Pog Form

It looks like the Senate will get another crack at immigration reform. The WSJ makes an interesting point that some GOP senators are concerned about sticking their necks out and supporting immigration reform if it's just going to die in the House. That's actually something that I hadn't thought of before. The House is, by design and by nature, more reactionary. That's where the real immigration fire-breathers like Tom Tancredo are, and so it could be harder. What they need to do is keep it somewhat palatable for the Democrats without selling out to the unions while being able to pick up some of the moderate Republicans. It's possible, but it will be a balancing act. We'll see what happens!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

They're Taking Our Jobs We Wouldn't Take Anyway!

It seems like I write so much about immigration on my blog that I should just give up and make it a full-time immigration blog. There are a couple of reasons for it I think. One is that the people who want to see immigrants out of this country are far too loud and they monopolize the conversation. I would like to bring a different perspective to this for people to be able to make up their minds by hearing both sides of the conversation instead of just the obnoxious guy in the corner. The other is because I honestly think that maybe I can make a difference, in the sense that my relatively meager readership might change something that the Wall Street Journal can't. Granted, the second is much less likely, but you never know. A few more thoughts on immigration for you, other than my quick link in the prior post.
First, I was at the Utah State Republican Convention this past Saturday and heard Senator Bob Bennett get hammered by the delegates (or at least the vocal minority) for thinking of supporting any kind of immigration bill that would provide "amnesty" (defined by the Eagle Forum, Minutemen, and so on as anything short of deportation and/or death for illegal immigrants). Never mind that he had some good points: we have to have some level of a guest worker program for this to work, otherwise the Law of Supply and Demand will do something to get things back in equilibrium. This could mean that illegal immigrants cross the border. It could mean that companies pack up and leave the United States. It could mean that robots take over the world a la The Matrix. The point is that something would have to give, and the path of least resistance is an increase in illegal immigration. His second point is that to get rid of all the illegals you'd have to deport 6 Utahs. Imagine packing everyone in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana up and sending them somewhere else (assuming 12 million illegals) or adding New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota to that mix (assuming 20 million illegals). That is a herculean feat without even considering that you can't just wall off some states and take care of business - these people are enmeshed within society. It's so close to impossible that only one government in the history of the world has been able to come close to accomplishing. For the sake of avoiding hyperbole I shouldn't mention the country, but it's Nazi Germany. Many governments have killed more, but the mass deportation of citizens is something that is within the logistical capabilities of only the best organized totalitarian states.
I had one delegate who I quite like as a person shout that we should have land mines and machine guns at the border. Honestly, should we turn our border into a DMZ? Is that what we want people to think of the United States when they think of us – “sure, they’re great when they want to be, but look at how they’re killing Mexicans because they just wanted a better life.” There are such things as hard power and soft power, and by making the US-Mexico border look like North-South Korea or Israel-Gaza, it completely obliterates our soft power. This is without even considering the moral perspective of having soldiers cut down migrant workers on the Arizona border. Can you imagine sending someone off to “war” and they get sent down to a pillbox in San Diego to shoot Mexican families? Why do we stop there? If we’re going to militarize the Mexican border in the name of national security, why not do the same to the Canadian border? Let’s recommission our World War II battleships (Missouri, New Jersey, Iowa) and move our frigates and aegis cruisers 50 miles off the US coast and blow any boat that might be a threat out of the water. We could do the same with our airspace, maybe become “Fortress America” and hide in our hidey hole, waiting for someone to attack.
Of course, that’s how it could be if this was actually about national security. Instead we don’t have people calling for these steps (well some do, but it’s such a minority that you never hear about them. Instead this is about people who don’t want the United States to be any different. They don’t want change, and I understand that change can be frightening. At the same time, calling Mexicans minions of Satan and any number of unprintable epithets isn’t the way to resolve those concerns. Of course, there are also those bigoted people who have turned their anger from the Irish, Poles, Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Italians, Indians, Native Americans, and so on down the line to Hispanics, the last bastion of acceptable racial hatred. While many immigrants haven’t done the best job in pleading their case by burning the American flag, telling people that it was their land originally anyway, etc, that’s no reason to throw them out. It’s like the scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Pedro uses a Summer Wheatley piñata as part of his campaign. It’s fine in Mexico, but not here. They may not have gathered that that is very disrespectful and hurts their cause. They could also be jerks, but who knows.
The fact is that they are just the latest wave in a long line of immigrants. I would venture to guess that everybody who lives in the US who reads this is the progeny of immigrants. You have no right to say “well, my ancestors are the last acceptable group to come here, tough luck…should have come sooner.” That’s not how it works. If you and yours have benefited from the immigration policies of the US, you should not begrudge someone for doing the same, especially when they’re doing better than your ancestors at things like learning English and having jobs. Some may scoff and say that they’re a drag on the economy, however, as the WSJ mentions:
The Social Security Administration trustees agree with the original Heritage study (Simon's) and conclude in their latest actuarial report that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security "decrease with increasing rates of net immigration . . . Each additional 100,000 net immigrants increase the long-range actuarial balance by about 0.07 percent of taxable payroll." What does that mean for the Treasury? The net present value of the net payroll taxes paid over benefits received from one million immigrants per year is just shy of $2 trillion through 2080. Even low-skilled immigrants are net contributors to the trust fund. Heritage once made this point itself, notably in a 1998 study by economist William Beach, who calculated that Hispanics -- especially young, single males -- pay far more into Social Security than they receive over their lifetimes. Mr. Beach found that, in 1997 dollars, a typical Hispanic couple would receive $347,000 less in lifetime benefits than they pay in, allowing for a normal rate of return on payroll taxes. Maybe Heritage ought to dust off those intellectual archives, unless it's decided to bend to the fashions of the moment. Correcting for this overstatement of retirement and education costs erases most of Mr. Rector's alleged fiscal deficit. What about the other $30 billion or so a year? Well, it turns out that about six of 10 native-born American households also receive more in government services than they pay in taxes. No one would suggest that 60% of native-born Americans are economic drains; why conclude this of low-skilled immigrants?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Quick Hits/Links

  • Apple had their usual Steve Jobs Fiesta today and one of the announcements that he made was that Safari, the Apple browser, was going to be released for Windows. I downloaded it and have the following to say: loved it, except that it seems to be set up for a 1-button mouse. My forward/back buttons didn't do jack and neither did my right click. I'm using a Logitech MX Revolution. Note to Steve: fix it and I will indeed use it.
  • Are Hispanic immigrants not assimilating? Are they worse than prior waves (Chinese, Irish, etc)? According to the WSJ (fair use excerpt:) Mexican-born men, for example, had higher labor force participation rates than native-born male workers, 88% compared with 83%, and lower unemployment rates than native workers, 4.4% compared with 5.1% in 2006. Labor force participation rates of illegal aliens are higher yet, a whopping 94%. More importantly, the children of Hispanic immigrants are graduating from high school. The high school completion rate for young, U.S.-born Hispanics is 86%, only slightly lower than the 92% of non-Hispanic whites. Hispanic immigrant children who do enroll in school after they come here are as likely as American-born Hispanics to earn a high school diploma (although half of Mexican immigrants 15-17 years-old do not enroll in school). Hispanics are more likely than either whites or blacks to continue their education at two-year institutions; in 2000 they represented 14% of all students enrolled in two-year institutions. Only 12% of U.S.-born Hispanics earn four-year degrees compared with 26% of non-Hispanic whites.
  • Has Hugo Chavez bitten off more than he can chew? Closing down RCTV and clamping down on the universities is not the best way to keep people happy. From the Journal again: The number of Venezuelans who have a favorable opinion of the president has fallen 10 percentage points to 39% since November, according to Hinterlaces, a Caracas pollster. Skyrocketing crime, inflation and shortages of basic foods have contributed to Mr. Chávez's fall in popularity since he won re-election by a landslide in December. In the past, Mr. Chávez, who has spent billions of dollars on social-welfare programs aimed at the poor, has deftly manipulated Venezuela's sharp class divisions to portray his foes as U.S. manipulated "oligarchs." That tactic hasn't worked this time, as students come from all walks of life and many are poor or working class. "You see all kinds of students here. There are no 'oligarchs,'" says Pamela Lora, a 20-year-old public-health student at UCV. "This has nothing to do with President Bush or with any 'empire,'" she scoffs.

Friday, June 08, 2007

iEnvy 2

I was watching South Park the other night and for the first time in quite a while I saw more than just a small little piece of a commercial. It happened to be for the iPhone, and I'm in love all over again. Sure, it is only on EDGE and it's only got 8GB of memory, but man alive, I want it. I love my Cingular 3125, but it's nothing even close to the awesomeness of this. I may have to fork over the dough for it, I really might. Take a gander at it in all it's awesomeness:

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I <3 Rudy G

I've been a fan of Rudy Giuliani for a long time. Sure, he might be confrontational and have a big ego, as is appropriate for the most powerful mayor in the world, but the man can get things done. I loved what he did with New York City, turning it from a city that was great and terrifying to a city that reestablished itself as the premier city in the world.
I've been vacillating between Rudy and Mitt Romney for a while because of a couple of reasons. My head certainly goes for Rudy. I think that he's someone who could lead the country and lead it well. He's perhaps a bit tough, but he'll get the job done and cut through bureaucracy to do it. Mitt shares my values a little bit more and I think he's by far the most telegenic of the Republican candidates. Fred Thompson is a wild card, and while I liked him as Trudeau in Die Hard 2 and as Admiral Painter in The Hunt for Red October, but that was then and he was running an Air Traffic Control tower and an aircraft carrier...this is running the US in real life. On the electability scale, he's probably tops, but that's a discussion for another post.
Today Rudy came out with his proposal for health care (subscription required), and I have to say that it's better than anything else I've seen so far. In a nutshell, he wants to move insurance from a group benefit at work to something along the lines of car insurance, where you buy it individually on the open market, extending the tax advantaged status of health care premium dollars to those individual plans. I'm not at all sold on Mitt's Taxachussacare or on any of the Democrats' versions of Hillarycare. Rudy's seems like a relatively common sense, but incremental improvement in the system. While in some sense going it alone is far preferable because you don't get stuck in with high users and their over-utilization, it also has the potential to cause everyone to pay a little more. Personally, I'd take the chance because I know that the insurance companies are giving our company the shaft on rates - a 10% increase for no real reason (we had good utilization the past 2 years and they made out with a nice profit there), and we can't really go elsewhere because they'll quote maybe a 9.75% increase or whatever. I'm done with HMOs and the sooner we can move back away from that anachronism of the 50s the better. Let's keep moving on the transition to HSAs with catastrophic coverage and whatever free market options that people come up with. It's the only way we will ever be able to trim the fat from the health care system - eliminate the middle man. Right now, he's about 800 lbs and dining on filet mignon, but through a little common sense, I think we can take care of business and get it down to where it's something that is still important, but doesn't consume an ever growing part of our GDP.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Girl from Japanema?

I've been going back and forth on the issue, but I've decided that even though my Japanese skills aren't what they used to be (which isn't saying a whole lot), my daughter needs to learn her some of it. I don't quite know how to go about it though. I mean, she knows about 30 words of English (which is to say she can say 30 words - she knows more than she lets on), so is it really worthwhile to start speaking to her in Japanese? I've done it a bit so far and I get a nice little chuckle, but I think she's more laughing at the jibberish her dad is saying than what I'm talking about. What do you more bilingual people out there say? I know that speaking multiple languages is desirable, and not just because you can get a job in that country or because it's a nice party trick. It can help with the development of higher levels of thinking and it can help with comprehension among other things. Of course, this isn't truly a multilingual house, unless you count Sorroisms as a different language, as my wife sometimes does. (Sorroisms tend to be obscure pop culture references and archaic words like hogshead, chain [a length of measurement], sundry, and so on.) Nevertheless, it seems like it would be valuable, and that's in large part because I've been told so by everyone for quite some time. I know that bilingual children can pick up other languages much quicker than people who just knew one language growing up, and that can't be a bad thing.
Of course, another issue is how useful Japanese actually is. Because I quite like Japan and would like it to have a permanent place on my SkyMiles Reward Ticket Redemption Destination Rotation, if she ever goes with us (which would be the objective when she gets old enough to sit in coach with her siblings while we live the high life on BusinessElite reward tickets), so it would be useful for her to be able to do things like say hi and read the different types of soda they have in the vending machines. It would also be useful if she decides to ever spend some time there alone as an adult and/or take a job where learning Japanese would be helpful (the computer and consumer electronics industries come to mind). It would also help her if she went another direction, like allow Dora the Explorer to convert her to Spanish. Finally, she could understand the Miyazaki movies in all their Japanese glory. It's definitely going to kind of happen, the question is how much and when should I push it. Cheeth, as the resident translator, do you have any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Satan In Our Midst

I don't know how I forgot to post this, but here it is. I was at the Utah County Republican Convention a month or so ago and I got to vote on the text of this here resolution. I have to say that it's quite possibly the looniest thing I've ever had to vote on:

Resolution opposing Satan’s plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion

Whereas, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9)
Whereas, in order for Satan to establish his “New World Order” and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S. There are ways to destroy a nation other than with bombs or bullets. The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nation the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness.
Whereas, Americans will have to make a choice: either close our borders to illegal immigration, which is now vastly greater than any time in the past, or witness the passing country [sic]. The proof of this statement is the record of history. It is a history littered with the gravestones of great nations and civilizations which allowed invaders to overrun them. If we fail to learn from the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat them.
Whereas, all polls show that the American people overwhelmingly want limited immigration, reform and control of our borders as mandated by the Constitution. But many do not realize the extent of the dangers ahead because of the lack of accurate media coverage and public debate. An important reason for the lack of understanding is that the powerful commercial, political, ethnic, and the godless globalist elites who control the major media do not want the issues of illegal immigration to come to national attention.
Whereas, it is obvious that most promoters of massive immigration and open borders do not like the ideas of patriotism, national identity, sovereignty, our Christian culture and freedom. Many consider themselves cosmopolitans or world citizens. Their religion is atheistic humanism. They are found primarily among the elite of foundations, universities, big business, left-wing politicians, Hollywood, ACLU (Anti-Christian Lawyers Union [sic]), CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), the American power elite and the liberal media. They prefer a world without borders ruled by a one world tyrannical government.
Whereas, we cannot benefit the world by eliminating our borders and sovereignty as advocated by Satan’s “axis of evil”, if we do, the world will pull us down to its lowest common level and we will have committed national suicide. In that case, the U.S. will no longer be a free and prosperous land or light of liberty for all nations. Once he has destroyed the U.S., Satan will be able to establish his “Satanic New World Order” and destroy the freedom of all people.
Whereas, the national security and the future of the nation and the American people depends upon how well we do our job and defend our borders. We must control our borders to illegal immigration, have a well regulated temporary worker program, as needed, or face extinction. The destruction of the U.S. by the forces of evil is a top priority of Satan.
Now therefore, we (delegates) are obligated to support the Utah State and Utah County Republicans Platforms regarding the mandates to support the “Rule of Law” and the Constitutional mandate to protect and secure our national borders.
Now therefore, because we support the “Rule of Law,” the Constitution and the principals that made America the greatest and freest nation in history, the Utah County Republican Party supports the closing of our national borders to illegal immigration to prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion.

Submitted by: Don Larsen, District 65 Chairman

The problem with this resolution isn't that he wanted to support the rule of law or that he's against illegal immigration. The problem is that he used language that labels him as a kook. I've heard of the New World Order being the plan of the devil and so on, but by saying that Satan's going to do it with 12 million Mexican citizens he takes it up a notch. This makes his rhetoric more dangerous than most I've seen as he equates every illegal immigrant with one of Satan's minions, i.e. they are evil and must be stopped at any cost. Fortunately this got voted down as I couldn't live with myself as part of a party that passed this resolution.

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Look

I'm not terribly pleased with this new look as of yet. Come to find out that you can't click the links on the side of my old one (any posts since Dec 06), thus making it nigh unto essential to get new code and whatnot. Alas, I don't know the scripting language (XML) much at all, leading to a not very customized blog yet. I'd love to change some colors and do some crazy things like that, but hopefully that will come with a bit of time.

Edit: Okay, after trying a whole pile of different templates, I think I may have settled on one that will work at least temporarily. Of course, that doesn't mean that I won't mess around and do some customizing of it, but as far as a template that is both IE and Firefox friendly, this so far is the best one that's New Blogger compatible

Friday, June 01, 2007

Palm Fold-eo

This guy looks way too happy with what he's holding. He's got himself a Treo (nice, even with the plethora of HTC and BlackBerry devices that are out there) and Palm's latest attempt to get rid of any amount of goodwill that people still have towards them. That's right, it's the Palm Foleo, which is "a whole new category" in the same sense that a steaming pile of tech manure is. "That looks like a laptop to me" is what I'm sure you're saying, and you'd be partially right. The Foleo is laptop sized, that's for sure. It's a bit smaller than my Dell XPS m1210, and that would be great if it was indeed a laptop. Instead it runs a version of Linux that was designed by PalmSource for really just one use: to sync with your Treo. That's right, apparently we need a whole device to do that. Why use your Bluetooth module to connect to a laptop or desktop and sync documents using MS Word when you can spend $500 on this piece of work.
Really this is a case of far too little too late. Palm has spent years squandering their once insurmountable lead over Microsoft in the mobile space. Palm OS 5 was really a bit of a disaster and hasn't been updated since 2003. Microsoft, on the other hand has come out with 2 new versions of Windows Mobile since then, both of which are far more capable than anything Palm ever put out. On top of that, they wasted their innovative dollars on this already obsolete product and the obsolete at the time LifeDrive. Forro mentioned to me when it came out that the LifeDrive would have been an innovative product if it wasn't so expensive and using a meager 4 GB hard drive. This was released when Apple was busy with 30 and 40 GB hard drives and 4 GB flash drives. Oh, did I mention that this particular piece of "innovation" was $400? It seems like they just got some surplus 4 GB notebook hard drives from 2001 and slapped their housing around it. As a result it was a total flop. Imagine if they used their smarts to create an iPhone before there was an iPhone. They could be untouchable right now - the LifeDrive's big screen, a thin form factor facilitated by the 1.8 inch 30 GB iPod hard drive or better yet by 4 GB of flash memory, even running the decrepit Garnet (Palm OS 5) would have been huge. Instead, I can see them littering the Silicon Valley highway 12 months from now along with the failed dot coms of yore.