The Idiom

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

They Must Have Hired Mr. Surly As A Consultant

Actually, one would expect the Government to come up with solutions like this:

Tired Of Traffic? A New DOT Report Urges Drivers: 'Honk'

One thing Kid Various can tell you. Arab drivers have read this report!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes...

As Superman Returns, now in heavy rotation, came on recently the following conversation transpired:

Scriblerus Fille: Daddy who's that?

Mr. Scriblerus: That's Superman.

Scriblerus Fille: Why does he fly?

Mr. Scriblerus: You see, Superman was born on the planet Krypton, when that planet was destroyed he was sent to earth by his father Jor-El in a spaceship. The spaceship landed in Kansas and Superman was raised as Clark Kent by his adoptive parents. Because the planet Krypton has a red sun, and Earth has a yellow sun, Superman has super powers like flying...

Scriblerus Fille: Daddy, that's silly.

n.b. Scriblerus Fille is 4 years old.

Two Can Play At This Game

Kid Various can only hope that we are behind this. One must remember that Iran is only 51% Persian. The rest is restless Azeris, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchs. The Iranians have to be reminded that the pendulum swings both ways, and that we can hurt them far more than they can hurt us.

The killing of a senior figure in Iran’s regime, the third in two months, is again downplayed by the country’s authorities. PJM special correspondent Ardeshir Arian explores the implications.

Gingrich Is Mostly Right

Even half right, he's still more on the money than 90% of the people in Washington.

The Hamas victory in Gaza is a warning that World War IV (as Norman Podhoretz has called it) is going to be long and hard. It is also a warning that the West is currently losing that war.

These defeats are not a function of the courage and will of the American people. In a June poll sponsored by American Solutions, 85 percent of the American people said it was important to defend America and its allies. Only 10 percent were opposed. On an even stronger question, 75 percent said it was important to defeat America's enemies. Only 16 percent disagreed.

So the hard left in America is only 16 percent. It is outnumbered almost 5-1 by those who would defeat our enemies.

Yeah but so what? The Kid is skeptical about these numbers. Of course only 16% of Americans (wing-nuts) think we shouldn't defeat our enemies. The question is what are we willing to sacrifice to defeat our enemies? We will take casualties? Will we spend money? Will we preempt Dancing with the Stars? Let's consult the Magic 8 ball. Oh quelle surprise - "all signs point to no..."
The source of failure is not to be found in the American people but in the inarticulate and unimaginative leaders all across government who now preside instead of lead.
Right on the inarticulate and unimaginative leaders part. But is this the real reason? What do you do when you have a soft populace unwilling to sacrifice, a media hostile to the endeavour and political opposition that would rather defeat the President than our enemies? The people in the Administration are not stupid. In fact they are some of the top professionals in their business, that's why they're in the White House. But they've simply been unable to get any traction.

The tragedy of the current debate in Washington is that while the inarticulateness and the failing performance of the Bush administration have led the American people to desire a new direction, the politics of the left insists that the new direction be less than President Bush. Yet the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, New Jersey, the JFK plot, the Algerian bombings, the Iranian nuclear program, the conflict in Lebanon and now the defeat in Gaza all point to the need for a war policy that is substantially bigger and more robust than Mr. Bush.

As the forces of modernity are being ground up by terrorism, our political process is not producing a Churchill or Roosevelt to rally the democracies but instead embracing advocates of surrender withdrawal and defeat. As women are being oppressed, we remain silent. Faced with the weakness, vacillation and inarticulateness of the leaders of Israel and America, the people see the violence as senseless, the bloodshed as repugnant and the current strategies as too flawed to continue to invest in them.
Gaza is the most recent example of where Western failure of imagination is being defeated by ruthlessness and determination.

Israel has had enormous power over Gaza for 40 years. The United Nations has been running refugee camps since 1949 with disastrous results that have led to massive population growth, vast unemployment, deep bitterness and a society which produces entrepreneurs of terrorism rather than entrepreneurs of wealth creation. Michael Oren has noted that since 1993 the Palestinian Authority "has garnered more international aid than any entity in modern history — more per capita than the European states under the Marshall Plan." With all these advantages the old "reasonable" terrorist organization has been destroyed in Gaza by the newer, more militant and more ferocious Hamas.

This is a signal victory for Iran and a defeat for Israel, the United States, and the so-called moderate Arab governments.

The first reactions to this defeat have been pathetic. The beleaguered American and Israeli governments have met to wring their hands and pledge funding for the old terrorists in the West Bank. This will surely prove to be a losing strategy. Hamas will consolidate its hold on Gaza and begin to extend its reach more decisively into the West Bank.
Perhaps, but you play the cards your dealt on this one.
The West will sooner or later have to confront several hard realities if it is to defeat its enemies.

First, terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah will have to be rooted out and destroyed. We do not today have the strategy, the doctrine or the techniques for defeating these kinds of organizations. In Iraq, after more than four years of effort, our current doctrine for population control and for effective local policing and intelligence is pathetic. To defeat ferocious committed and enthusiastically violent organizations like al Qaeda and the Taliban will take new energy, new drive and new determination on our part.
Absolutely correct. But see above on our willingness to do what is necessary to defeat these organizations. It's long and it's hard and it's bloody. Because you know what? We have the power to completely destroy the enemy.

At the push of a button - they go away.

But that's not the society we are and additionally it won't impress the Enemy that remains. It'll just be further evidence to him of our weakness. That we are willing to dish out destruction on a genocidal scale, but are unwilling to take casualties ourselves. The way you show the Enemy that you are strong is to take casualties, lots of them - and still relentlessly come at him. Only then will he know that he is beaten and that his way of life is doomed. You take his best shot, and still keep coming at him. Then he will be defeated.
Second, the indirect strategies of propping up corrupt dictatorships have to give way to direct people-to-people help, securing private-property rights and direct financial assistance so we can improve their families' lives and they can be empowered to defend their neighborhoods from evil men. Hernando de Soto will be vastly more effective in designing this than all the bureaucrats at AID and the United Nations combined.
Hernando de Soto. Tru Dat!
Third, the U.N. camp system of socialism with unearned anti-humanitarian charity has to be replaced with a totally new system of earned income and earned property rights to restore dignity and hope to every Palestinian.
Double True!
Fourth, the current system of schools under both Fatah and Hamas control have to be replaced in their entirety with a system dedicated to genuine education and to teaching human rights rather than jihad and hatred.
Uh-huh. Good luck.
Lastly, mosques can no longer be allowed to preach hatred and violence. The de-Nazification that seemed obvious in Germany in 1945 will have to be matched by a dehatred campaign today. The haters have to be defeated, disarmed and detained if the forces of peace and freedom are to win.
Uh yeah. But Newt, you want to tell The Kid how we plan to get this done in today's climate?
These steps are only the beginning, but the gap between our current pathetic reaction to the Hamas victory and the requirements of victory give some indication of how far the West has to go before it starts winning. In Churchill's phrase, we are not even at the end of the beginning. However, we may be at the beginning of recognizing that this will be a real war.
A real war? God, Kid Various hopes so. But he's not optimistic. The fact that we are in a real war, a very struggle for our civilization, should be obvious to anyone who is paying the sligthest bit of attention!

Sadly, our attention is distracted by Dancing with the Stars.

Still, one of our most original strategists. Too bad he can't get elected dog catcher.

Polish Snipers (Not A Joke)

Freaking brilliant...

Question: During what some military historians are calling Second Fallujah – i.e. the second battle between Marines and insurgents in the evacuated city of Fallujah that resulted in the heaviest urban fighting in the war to date -- why did Marines use Polish snipers from the Coalition?

Answer: Rules of engagement for snipers in all branches of the U.S. military, including the Marines at Fallujah, required that a sniper’s target be carrying a weapon and show some hostile intent. Polish snipers’ rules of engagement allowed them to shoot any Iraqi man seen carrying a cell phone in that city almost emptied of civilians.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Nary A Peep!

LGF had the great comment on this whole thing that basically said: "Queen knights Salman Rushdie. Riots to follow."

Didn't take long did it?

Tim Rutten has a piece on the deafening silence that signals how the influence of the post-moderns basically seals the doom of the moderns by the pre-moderns.

Friday, the Voice of America reported that Pakistani "lawmakers passed a second resolution calling on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to apologize 'to the Muslim world' " and that, "on Thursday, a hard-line Pakistani cleric awarded terrorist leader Osama bin Laden the religious title and honorific 'saifulla,' or sword of Islam, to protest Britain's decision."

If you're wondering why you haven't been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it's because there haven't been any. And, in that great silence, is a great scandal.

Rutten notes that basically the only person who has called out the pre-moderns on their barbarism is a guy who's own life has been threatened by them over the danish cartoon "scandal," Flemming Rose who opined:

Unfortunately, too many people do not understand the serious consequences of misplaced respect for offended religious feelings. A prime example – the United Nation’s Human Rights Council’s passage of a scandalous resolution condoning state punishment of speech deemed insulting to religion, which helps regimes that silence criticism and crush dissent.


Jeff Hawkins talks about a new theory/model for the brain. It is compelling.

New Challenges Past Islamofascism

Two interesting articles on the same topic, one from Foreign Affairs and the other from The American.

Both claim that the real challenge to the liberal democratic order comes not from pre-modern Islamic societies but rather from the rise of authoritarian capitalist societies. In other words, the West may be swamped by economically advanced, yet still illiberal regimes.

From the article by Azar Gat in Foreign Affairs:

China and Russia represent a return of economically successful authoritarian capitalist powers, which have been absent since the defeat of Germany and Japan in 1945, but they are much larger than the latter two countries ever were. Although Germany was only a medium-sized country uncomfortably squeezed at the center of Europe, it twice nearly broke out of its confines to become a true world power on account of its economic and military might. In 1941, Japan was still behind the leading great powers in terms of economic development, but its growth rate since 1913 had been the highest in the world. Ultimately, however, both Germany and Japan were too small -- in terms of population, resources, and potential -- to take on the United States. Present-day China, on the other hand, is the largest player in the international system in terms of population and is experiencing spectacular economic growth. By shifting from communism to capitalism, China has switched to a far more efficient brand of authoritarianism. As China rapidly narrows the economic gap with the developed world, the possibility looms that it will become a true authoritarian superpower.

And from Kevin Hassett in The American:

The unfree governments now understand that they have to provide a good economy to keep citizens happy, and they understand that free-market econ­omies work best. Also, nearly all of the unfree nations are developing countries. History shows they grow faster, at least for a while, than mature nations. But being unfree may be an economic advantage. Dictatorships are not hamstrung by the preferences of voters for, say, a pervasive welfare state.

So the future may look something like the 20th century in reverse. The unfree nations will grow so quickly that they will overwhelm free nations with their economic might. The unfree will see no reason to transition to democracy.

Kid Various is skeptical. Both in terms that the pre-modern Islamist enemy is not the greater threat and the possibility that authoritarian societies can out-compete the West economically. The entire history of mankind since the Enlightenment has been one of greater individual freedom in all spheres of human endeavour. Societies have progressed in general proportion to how deeply they have embraced the values of the Enlightenment.

Authoritarian societies may be able to free up their economies, but without the attendant political and social freedoms, there's only so far that can progress. Authoritarian political systems can no more plan their distribution of power than communist economies could plan production and distribution of goods - and then you get system disrupting distortions like corruption, which is endemic in China and Russia.

Yes you can score impressive growth rates initially (hell even the Soviet Union in the 1930's had impressive growth rates) but the distortions catch up. For example, in China, most of the savings from this amazing economic expansion is stored in 4 main state owned banks - which the Communist Party (because it fears unrest) forces to make loans to state owned industries. Loans which will never be repaid. Sooner or later there is going to be an immense banking crash in China and a lot of wealth will go up in smoke. Far from being a threat to the Enlightenment order, China, because of its distorted political system, will be lucky to make it out of the 21st century intact.

That said, there is a strong argument to be made that the next 20-30 years, while we are battling the pre-moderns, it may *look* like the forces of authoritarian capitalism are out-competing us. And that may be dangerous.

Palestinian Suicide

Fouad Ajami has a remarkably trenchant description of the situation recently played out in Palestine.

The Palestinians have lived, and for decades now, on a sense of historical entitlement. The world owed them a state come what may; it would be delivered to them even when their leaders faltered, even as they fell afoul of international norms and expectations. Now they know better.

Indeed. Much too late.

Damn Straight

OIF vet answers Carl Levin's absurd, and frankly insulting, invocation of Lincoln in the WaPo the other day.

In his op-ed, Sen. Levin invoked the example of Abraham Lincoln, who endured years of challenges before finding the right generals and strategy to win the Civil War. After four years of uncertainty in Iraq, America finally has both the general and the strategy to turn the tide. The question is whether 2007 will unfold like 1865 or 1969.

President Lincoln chose to fight a bloody and unpopular war because he believed the enemy had to be defeated. He was right. And to me, that sounds more than a bit like the situation our country faces today. What path will we choose?

Which path indeed. Read the whole thing and go to the Vets for Freedom site


What if real life was like Second Life?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Aubrey de Grey on Aging

This is a good talk by de Grey on engineered non-senescence. It's an interesting topic that not that many people have paid attention to. Everything concerning geriatrics deals with the treatment of pathologies caused by aging. No one pays attention to curing aging itself. Everyone just assumes that we have to die.

But, there is no evolutionary reason for us to die. In fact, we die because the evolutionary process is not affected at all by whether we live or die - once we move past our reproductive prime. Dying is simply a factor of evolutionary neglect.

It's an interesting topic

Kinda Like Looking Into The Future

For a glimpse of Kid Various' future, take a peek at this article from the NYT's Style section:

WHEREVER there are sand and suds, men who view summer as an endless frat party can be found, each with his own reason for refusing to leave the thumping pulse behind.

At a keg party on the roof deck of a house in Kismet on Fire Island on a Saturday night this month, Dave Mahony, 42, an unmarried psychologist who lives in Staten Island, said he had joined a share house because a female friend told him it was stocked with oodles of single women and few men.

As he sipped beer in the fading light of the sun disappearing behind the Fire Island Lighthouse, Mr. Mahony, whose light brown hair is flecked with gray, considered how his life had brought him here tonight, one of the oldest people in a crowd drinking Heineken from plastic cups.
"Dude...Why did you bring your Dad???"

Diet Cola Addictive?

Diet Pepsi, how does Kid Various love thee? Let him count the ways... At least 1.5 liters a day.

"I really like the fizzy of the diet soda. I really like the coldness and the taste and the sweetness," she said. "If anything goes wrong, I will just grab a diet soda and it's all better.
Look, The Kid can either have his bones deteriorate or be fat. We'll take the bone decay thank you you miserable vegetable-eating motherfuckers.

Romulan Warbird De-Cloaking Off The Port Bow!

How freaking cool is this?

Last October, scientists at Duke demonstrated a working cloaking device, hiding whatever was placed inside, although it worked only for microwaves.

A Rom V-30/"Winged Defender" de-cloaks in oder to fire. Kid Various hates this ship!

The Future Is Gonna Be Different. No, REALLY Different!

Biologist Aubrey de Grey gives a good explanantion of how strong AI will feed the Singularity. He also talks about the complexity of building friendly AI, and why it's important. No - it's like really, really important.

de Grey's main focus is not AI, so much as engineering non-senescence. It's something not paid enough attention by the public.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Virtual Sweatshop

Instead of sewing up Nikes or hand-painting trinkets, the new sweatshop laborer in China kills virtual monks and takes their gold. 12 hours a day.

More than eight million people around the world play World of Warcraft — approximately one in every thousand on the planet — and whenever Li is logged on, thousands of other players are, too. They share the game’s vast, virtual world with him, converging in its towns to trade their loot or turning up from time to time in Li’s own wooded corner of it, looking for enemies to kill and coins to gather. Every World of Warcraft player needs those coins, and mostly for one reason: to pay for the virtual gear to fight the monsters to earn the points to reach the next level. And there are only two ways players can get as much of this virtual money as the game requires: they can spend hours collecting it or they can pay someone real money to do it for them.

Proving once again that wherever there is a desire, a market will spring up to satisfy it, Chinese laborers are making like Cartman et al to harvest virtual money to sell to gamers in the West for actual money.

The things people will pay for. But Kid Various can't talk. He just dropped about 2,000 Linden dollars (about 8 bucks to you and me) for a sweet Luger P-08 and a better Rocketeer outfit. And that's the point. This sort of unintended market activity just highlights how it is completely beyond the capability of humanity to "plan" out people's needs. No one would have ever thought of this. No one would ever have seen the real value of virtual gold. Everyone would say "that's worthless."

But it's not. Because nothing has an intrinsic value. Something's value is only determined by another's desire for it. And that's the thing most people miss. We seem to have evolved to accept Essentialism as a matter of course. That is, everything has some sort of "essential" nature including, The Kid surmises, a set worth or value.

But nothing has an intrinsic value. And that virtual gold is worth real money because it assists players in operations in the game which gives them happiness. And that's what it's about.

Kid Various springs into action against injustice!

Isn't That A Ride At Disneyland?

Some news for you all on Phantom Thunder.

What? You don't know what Phantom Thunder is? Not surprising as the media has hardly said two words about it (except for this morning's NYT to report that its failing because much of the Enemy's top ranks have fled.)

The "Battle for the Belts" is underway and our boys are smashing through AQI in what is the largest combined arms operation since the end of "major combat operations" in 2003. The Baghdad security plan has been largely successful with a large drop in sectarian violence and a severe disruption of AQI activities (although sadly, not enough to prevent the "bomb a day" headline grabbers.)

The problem is that violence has migrated outward into the "belts" around Baghdad. Now that the surge has started (last week) our valiant troops are engaged in a massive cordon, sweep and destroy operation in the belts - the largest being in Baquba (Operation Arrowhead Ripper.) Below is some coverage that you won't get i the NYT:

BillRoggio gives the update after one week:

Operation Phantom Thunder, the corps coordinated operation across three theaters in the Baghdad Belts, has completed it seventh day. Ground forces commander Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno gave a briefing on the operation. To date, Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed 159 al Qaeda fighters and other insurgents, wounded 41, and detained 721 suspects. Coalition and Iraqi forces found and destroyed 304 roadside bombs, seven car bombs and 128 weapons caches.
AJ Strata gives another update and commentary on the sad state of reporting on the battle:

We are rounding up or killing al-Qaeda. While al-Qaeda’s top leaders may have fled for now, they have left their forces surrounded and taking a pounding. The leaders will have no forces to lead, and it is doubtful new recruits will run to sign up with leaders who run from a fight and who have lost two capitol cities of the modern caliphate in less than a year.
Finally, Michael Yon, brilliant as always, gives the ground's eye view on the eve of battle:

Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time these words are released, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now—the battle has already begun for some—practically no news about it is flowing home. I’ve known of the secret plans for about a month, but have remained silent.

This campaign is actually a series of carefully orchestrated battalion- and brigade-sized battles. Collectively, it is probably the largest battle since “major hostilities” ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale.

They Can Have My Cheeseburger When They Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands

Everybody laughed when Kid Various said that after "Big Tobacco" people would start coming after "Big Cholesterol." Well who's laughing now?

Momentum is building behind efforts to have the Government force you to stop eating those cheeseburgers.

Diet, formerly a personal concern, has become a public one. Marion Nestle, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, suggests that we no longer regard "obesity only as a personal or family responsibility." Instead, we see it "as a societal problem with societal solutions."

Always be wary of "societal solutions."

You want fries with that? OK, here's an extra form 630 for your taxes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

China Now World's Largest CO2 Emitter

Yeah, maybe now everybody can get off our dick!

BEIJING (AP) - China has overtaken the United States as the world's top producer of carbon dioxide emissions - the biggest man-made contributor to global warming - based on the latest widely accepted energy consumption data, a Dutch research group says.

According to a report released Tuesday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China overtook the U.S. in emissions of CO2 by about 7.5 percent in 2006. While China was 2 percent below the United States in 2005, voracious coal consumption and increased cement production caused the numbers to rise rapidly, the group said.

Monday, June 18, 2007

We're Living in the Future!

This is so freaking cool!

Within a few years, we'll all have personal fabrication units in our houses. All our property will exist digitally and we'll just fab it when we need it!

The future is gonna be great!

The next revolution is sneaking up on us; witness these two commercial products: the $2500 NextEngine 3d scanner, which lets you suck real objects into the virtual realm of your computer; and the $5000 Desktop Factory, which lets you spit them back out again.

How freaking cool is this?!

Even BBC Admits BBC Biased

Further news from the obvious; the BBC is biased towards the Left and against America.

We would never have known had we not run across this report from the BBC:

The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded.

The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased - and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.

Of course, the report tries to weasel out of it by claiming that the bias is limited to those types of fluff shows that cover celebrities and not in other areas:

After a year-long investigation the report, published today, maintains that the corporation’s coverage of day-to-day politics is fair and impartial.
Which is so fucking laughable that it doesn't even pass a basic reality test. One only needs to look at the BBC's coverage of the Palestinian civil war in Gaza to get some understanding. Once violence broke out in earnest between Fatah and Hamas, Kid Various delighted in the thought that BBC "journalists" must have been tying themselves in knots trying to figure out a way to blame Israel for the situation. Turns out, it wasn't that hard. As noted by Melanie Phillips:

And on Newsnight last night, Gavin Esler suggested that the fact that in Lebanon there was trouble, in the West Bank there were problems and in Gaza there was chaos was all Israel’s fault. So let’s get this right: when Israel is in occupation, it is blamed. When it is not in occupation, it is blamed. And above all, when it is the victim of genocidal assault, it is blamed for being the cause of regional instability. The fact that Israel is actually the principal victim and target of that instability is turned on its head. The fact that it is indeed now hemmed in by a pincer of annihilation in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank shows, to the BBC mind, that it is Israel that is to blame — for the ‘trouble’, ‘problems’ and ‘chaos’ besetting its attackers!

Absolutely incredible.

Best headline EVER

The best headline this side of The Onion:

Looters raid Arafat's home, steal his Nobel Peace Prize

Cosmically appropriate, isn't it?

What Kid Various wants to know is: who got his iPod?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Virtual Café Newz Anyone?

Laugh if you will but sooner or later The Idiom will be opening up a virtual Café Newz which will be just like the first one. Except better, because it’s on the computer! And the Chart will be interactive!

HAILEY, ID—As a teenager, Kerry Jarrett never thought she would have the opportunity to own and operate a completely fabricated coffee shop and performance space. But thanks to Linden Lab's popular Second Life digital world, Jarrett, 31, has turned her dream into a virtual reality.

…Jarrett's shop is popular among Second Life regulars for its atmosphere, its 24-hour availability, and its location between the T-Mobile dealership and the 10,000-foot glowing green penis.

Kid Various checking out space for the Virtual Cafe Newz.
Opening as soon as Ron Paul's flirtation with relevancy is over.
We should be able to pick up this place at a steal in about fifteen minutes.