Republican Dreamin’

Apr 302003

Even in their wet dreams, the Republicans never imagined something so wonderful as the possibility that Lyndon LaRouche might be included in the nationally broadcast presidential debate on May 3rd. Apparently, various South Carolinian and other Democratic Party activists, including Joycelyn Elders, want him included. Frankly, I’m very interested in Kerry’s and Leiberman’s response to the man’s take on energy policy:

Now, the point is… Now, this goes back to a piece of scientific idiocy, which was understood already — the problem was understood by Plato, already. The concept of power, as opposed to that idiot Aristotle’s concept of energy. So, when people talk to you about nuclear energy, or solar energy, they’re Aristotelean idiots, who shouldn’t be talking. They should be monkeys, and not talk. They can chatter, but not talk.

Because, the issue here is power.

Now, power is reflected in various ways in terms of energy, relative to what people call energy. Power had two features, generally, descriptively, in the form of energy. This is not where power comes from, but this is what power reflects, in terms of energy language. One, is energy flux density. What is the intensity of energy, apparent energy, per square kilometer, cross section area of motion? It’s called energy flux density.

Now, compare the energy flux densities of various modes of power generation. Solar power is the least efficient. As a matter of fact, the use of solar power is insane. Because solar power has a very important use on this planet. Light. Light. What we want is more vegetables. We want more foliage. We want the deserts to bloom. What we want to do, is we want to get areas which are too hot, to cool down. We want more moderate weather. We want to turn the deserts into areas where people can live, under normal conditions.

But wait, there’s more! He lost me somewhere around the proposal about mango trees, I admit.

I’m sure he won’t be included… but oh what a thought!

The Russsians Will Save Us

Apr 302003

Den Beste always seems to be ahead of the curve in his political analysis, which is why I find this commentary particularly noteworthy. Apparently, Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg are gunning for an EU-controlled military force independent of NATO. They’ve already decided to create a military command. The problem, Den Beste notes, is that there is little to command, as none of these countries have a substantial military. For various economic reasons, a buildup of forces seems unlikely. So, what shall be done? Den Beste writes:

But never fear! Paris is on the case, and has a solution. Europe needs an independent military which is capable of “counterbalancing” the US, but doesn’t want to pay for it. Europe needs a nation which actually has a force large enough to be credible, which can become a partner in Europe’s defense so as to protect Europe from American aggression. (Which is to say, Europe needs a new free ride.)

In short, Europe needs Russia to come in to Western Europe and save it from America.

Which is why French defense minister Michèle Alliot-Marie is in Moscow right now, trying to talk up the idea. Russia can supply the troops, France can supply the commanders and the wisdom. Western Europe will finally be liberated from oppressive and cruel American military occupation through the agency of the friendly and solicitous Russian Army.

I do rather wonder just how this idea is going to play in places like Prague and Warsaw and Bucharest, who have a somewhat different opinion of the Russians than the French evidently have.


Morally Sickening

Apr 302003

In response to Virginia Postrel on the abuse of the word brave, Glenn Reynolds writes:

What really interests me is that people think that they’ve made a moral argument against genetic engineering when they say that the idea “sickens” them. The idea of sodomy “sickens” some people, too. So does the idea of interracial marriage.

So you feel ill. Why should I care? After all, pompous, empty-headed moralizing sickens me, and nobody’s stopping that.

As Glenn would say: Heh.

Rapists on Campus

Apr 282003

This delightful news tidbit just arrived in my inbox.

Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 22:37:15 -0600 (MDT)

From: Vital Student E-memo

Subject: Crime Alert

TO: All Boulder Campus Students

FROM: CU Police

SENDER: [email protected]

DATE: 04/28/03

SUBJECT: Crime Alert

Dear Students:

We are writing to provide an update on investigations into recent assaults in Boulder and to ask your help if you have any related information. The University of Colorado Police and the Boulder Police are investigating three recent assaults upon women which occurred recently in Boulder.

On early Sunday morning, April 20, 2003, at about 1:30 a.m., a woman was sexually assaulted north of Norlin Library on the Boulder campus. In that incident, two males accosted the victim. One male sexually assaulted the woman while the other stood by as a lookout.

The suspects were described as being white college-age males. The male who acted as a lookout has brown hair. The male who assaulted the victim has red hair. A composite drawing of the male who sexually assaulted the victim is available at the UCPD web site,

On Saturday morning, April 26, 2003, at about 3:00 a.m., a woman was attacked by two unknown assailants on the Boulder Creek bike path near Boulder High School. Witnesses in the area heard the victim scream, and came to her aid. The witnesses chased the two suspects, but were unable to catch them.

The suspects were described as being white males, both about 5 feet, 6 inches tall. One might have been wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. Baseball caps were found at the scene which may belong to the suspects. One cap was a blue and orange Miami Dolphins cap and the other was black with the letter -A- on it. Photographs of the hats and additional information is available at the Boulder Police website:

On Sunday morning about 2:00 a.m., a woman reported that she was physically assaulted by a lone male in the Hill area. The attack occurred in the west alley of the 1100 block of 13th Street, behind the Sink. The suspect was described as a white male in his early twenties, and was -short and skinny.- He was wearing a black shirt with an unknown logo on it, and khaki pants.

We encourage all citizens, including our students, to exercise safety precautions that can help prevent an attack. These include using free escorts available by NightRide/NightWalk which can be reached by calling (303) 492-SAFE, walk with friends at night time, carry a safety whistle, and be aware of surroundings. A map of emergency telephones on campus is available at the UCPD website, Safety whistles and copies of UCPD’s Safety Information and Resource Guide are available without cost at UCPD, 1050 Regent Drive.

They want me to carry of safety whistle! A safety whistle! I’ll be sure to blow it loudly while waving the “UCPD’s Safety Information and Resource Guide” in any attacker’s face.

Christ. I want my Ruger to protect myself from rapists on campus, not a god-damned useless fucking safety whistle. But the university forbids students with concealed carry permits from carrying on campus, even though state law permits it. So let’s just say it outright: The Administration of the University of Colorado at Boulder is objectively pro-rape.

Helpful Tips for New Bloggers

Apr 282003

Eugene has some helpful tips for new bloggers looking to generate traffic. (I haven’t always followed his recommendations myself, but his reasons are good, so I’ll likely do so from now on.)

Flying Naked

Apr 262003

Wow, I’m glad I got this pressing issue cleared up: “A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman says there’s no specific prohibition against flying naked.” Thanks to Dave Barry for telling me, as usual, more than I needed to know.

Disaffected Muslim

Apr 262003

Last night, I stopped by Disaffected Muslim for only the second time, a really fascinating blog written by a 25 year old American woman (“Fatima”) deeply immersed in a critical personal investigation of Islam. (Her basic story is here. The bit about reading The Satanic Verses in the local mosque is priceless!)

I’m very much impressed with her deeply thoughtful, critical, and exploratory approach to Islam. It’s pretty rare to see that level of critical and voracious insight in any new adopter of a religion or philosophy. She’s also a very clear and engaging writer, which makes her posts a delight to read.

Frankly, I suspect that Islam will not ultimately satisfy her, but I hope that she continues to blog on the subject in the meantime!

I was particularly interested in this post on the history of early copies and recitations of the Koran, as my impression was always that Islam had a solid textual basis, unlike Christianity. (The excellent Teaching Company course The New Testament has an excellent discussion of the problems of very-non-original New Testament texts, as well as a fascinating comparison of the various versions of the Gospels.) The modern Koran might well be a more faithful record than the New Testament, but it’s not exactly a single, original, written-at-the-time text. Fatima gives some good background in her post and links to this interesting article from The Atlantic Monthly on archeological findings of early versions of the Koran which differ from the modern version.

In looking for an update on the findings about these early Korans, I came across this letter to the editor about the Atlantic Monthly article. After quoting some of the article, the author writes: “Please ensure that these scholars are not given further access to the documents. Also please rebury them or if they are not exact reproductions, please burn them. Allah help us against our enemies.” Ugh. Letters from a wide variety of perspectives also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly a few months later.

Okay, back to real work for me! (Big paper on moral judgment for my ethics class, Camp Indecon lessons, etc.)

People Like Me

Apr 252003

Lileks had some interesting comments on this ecological footprint quiz. It purports to tell you, based upon a few simple questions, how many planets would be needed if everyone lived like you. (I needed 10.1 planets. I was hoping for a higher score, but 10.1 is pretty good, I suppose.) As Lileks discovered, your score heavily depends upon where you live. (Apparently, people in Bangladesh are just so much more ecologically pure than we are.) In any case, the quiz is just so wrong in all the usual many doom-and-gloom, ecological-nightmare-just-around-the-corner ways. And it’s Kantian moral premise is pretty, um, interesting too.

An American Idol Prayer

Apr 222003

Dear Lord,

If you really are almighty and just, please do not grant Carmen Rasmusen another week of protection from the justice of her dismissal from American Idol. Please Lord, I beseech you. Watching two far more talented singers dismissed before her these past two weeks has been most painful. Another week of the same would be intolerable. It would shatter my faith in a rational, benevolent universe.

Your Loving Servant Who Believes in You Not a Whit,

Diana Hsieh

P.S. Can you please send plagues of locusts or something to the houses of all those who voted for her? I’d be much obliged.

Update: Given Josh Gracin’s abysmal performance this evening, I’d be okay with him being booted instead of Carmen this week. But then next week, Carmen must go!

Office Furniture

Apr 212003

Last night, I broke my office chair. Really. I must have stressed out the metal around one of the casters repeatedly leaning over to pick up papers that failed to properly insert themselves into the trash can. The chair just couldn’t take the stress anymore. It died a quiet, slightly lopsided, immobile death.

I had actually been meaning to replace the chair for some time. It was an el cheapo kneeling chair that Paul had bought (and later discarded in favor of his Herman Miller chair) before we were married. The chair helped keep my carpal tunnel problems to a minimum, which tend to flare up if I cannot sit close to my desk or if forced to use The Contraption of Terrible Wrist Evil otherwise known the keyboard tray. I was planning on replacing the (now-broken) chair because it was fairly harsh on my shins due to pathetic padding. However, I use the term “planning” here rather loosely. If my chair hadn’t broken, I might not have gotten around to replacing it for another few years. Generally speaking, I’m about as efficient in running such optional errands as a Soviet-era bureaucrat.

So today, I bought my new chair. (Yes, it took all of about 10 minutes.) It’s another kneeling chair, but a fancy one with big Tempur-pedic foam cushions. A big step up for me, office-chair-wise! Unfortunately, it was way, way, way to tall for my desk, even at its shortest.

I considered raising the height of the desk, but gave up after mangling a can of kitty food during the “how high?” test phase. Paul and I examined, poked, and prodded the chair, considering the various methods of lowering the height. Finally, I made an executive decision: I would carefully drill two additional large holes on the bottom-back bar to lower the seat. It took a while, but the holes were drilled and the chair was reassembled.

So I am now basking in the glory of my new chair. Well, at least my shins are happy.

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