Oct 192007


A slow entrance is fine. I’m in no hurry. But there will be a fast exit, according to St. Paul. (It’s in 1 Corinthians 15. It’s a good thing I looked it up, because I had thought that passage from Handel’s Messiah came from Thessalonians.)

Monday before last, I was riding to the probable site of Isaac McCoy’s Baptist Indian Mission a few miles from here (just outside of Bridgeton, Indiana in Parke County). I was riding into a southwest wind, which is a good way for me to be reminded that I’m getting older, which may be why I read the sign as I did. I rode a ways past it, then rode back to get a photo.

Oct 182007

Isn’t this a bit ghoulish? Don’t politicians know how to talk liberal any more?

“In the coming days, Democrats will not back down and we will insist on providing health care coverage to these 10 million children,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, after the vote said Congress intends to send Bush another bill in the next two weeks that covers the same number of youngsters.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in an interview he was “optimistic” the administration and Congress could work out their differences. The administration’s goal is to sign-up 500,000 more eligible low-income children, he said.

The bill vetoed by Bush would have raised tobacco taxes to provide an extra $35 billion dollars over five years to provide health care for as many as 10 million children, compared to the 6.6 million currently enrolled.

I think they’re arguing over how many ritual child sacrifices will be needed to appease Leviathan.


Oct 182007

From the Guardian:

The DNA pioneer James Watson today apologised “unreservedly” for his apparent claim that black people are less intelligent than whites.

And this isn’t the first time.

Prof Watson has regularly courted controversy, reportedly saying that a woman should have the right to abort her child if tests were able to determine that it would be homosexual.

He has also suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, proposing that black people have higher libidos, and claimed beauty could be genetically manufactured.

Sure, he’s probably a bigot, but shouldn’t we make allowances?   After all, he’s a Nobel laureate,  and we know how those Nobel laureates are.

And shouldn’t there also be headlines about how his Nobel prize puts pressure on him to run for President?

Oct 182007

Interesting definition of “internal affairs.” Apparently China thinks the issue of Bush giving out an award in our own capital city is an internal affair of China’s. China must be a pretty big place if it includes Washington D.C.

The move of the United States is a blatant interference with China’s internal affairs which has severely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and gravely undermined the relations between China and the United States,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference.

Here is URL

Oct 182007

Time to do some reticulating — about corporate behavior and whistleblowing.

First there’s Vinegar Boy by way of Fark. He refused to buckle under when his boss and his boss’s boss told him to apologize to a customer who had lyingly accused him of saying vinegar was OK to drink. He was vindicated in the end, when the boss’s boss’s boss found out what was going on. A heroic whistleblower, you might say.

Then there was Bob Lewis’s Advice Line column at Infoworld, “When your boss tells you to terminate an employee.”

One other point about the termination conversation: When you tell the employee he’s being terminated, tell him “the company” has decided that this is what has to be done. Don’t identify yourself as the decision-maker; don’t identify your manager, either. The company has made the decision and as his manager, your job is to make sure the company handles the termination properly.

If that isn’t corporate behavior, I don’t know what is. People will do things under cover of or on behalf of a corporation that they would never do on their own individual responsibility. I think Lewis is giving good advice in this column, as he almost always does. Read the entire article to see. (Too bad his politics are not informed by all of his observations about corporate life.) But a lot of bad things can be done under that rubric. When people talk about evil corporations, they have a legitimate point about this part.

Of course, the government is the biggest corporation of them all, these days.

Finally, there is Texts for torturers by way of Arts & Letters Daily. It’s about Philip Zimbardo’s famous experiment showing how students assigned the pretend role of prison guards started abusing prisoners. His latest book is about more than that one experiment, though. The reviewer writes:

He is at his best, then, when analysing the current state of our knowledge about the role of situations in eliciting bad behaviour. Research has amply confirmed that people of many different kinds will behave badly under certain types of situational pressure. Through the influence of authority and peer pressure, they do things that they are later amazed at having done, things that most people think in advance they would never themselves do.


Zimbardo’s first plea, appropriately, is for humility: we have no reason to say that atrocities are the work of a few “bad apples”, nor have we reason to think that they are done only by people remote from us in time and place. We should understand that we are all vulnerable, and we should judge individuals, accordingly, in a merciful way, knowing that we don’t really know what we would have done, had we faced similar pressures. His second appropriate plea is that we learn to “blame the system”: namely, to look at how situations are designed, and to criticize people who design them in ways that confront vulnerable individuals with pressures that human beings cope with badly.

The reviewer doesn’t completely buy it, btw. The article is written with the torture at Abu Ghraib, but I say these lessons also apply to things like nationalized health care. I say we should blame the system in advance for the atrocities that will result when people can make life or death decisions for other people on the basis of economic efficiency. And there will be no recourse for people like there was for the one who stood up to his boss in the case of the Vinegar Boy.

Oct 162007

Sean Macomber, on an expedition somewhat reminiscent of Dante Alligheri’s, travels deep into leftwing blogdom to find out what they’re saying about us conservatives. Here is some of what he came back with:

“They’re vicious, violent, and unprincipled, just like unaffiliated muggers,” he wrote, adding, in retort to one conservative who protested, “We are not animals,” “Well, you’re sure not human…not if you can still call yourself a conservative after seeing what your people really have in mind for this country. I won’t say ‘our country’ as I’m now ashamed to admit that I was born American, and technically still am one, although I’ve washed my hands of your nightmare psychologically, and soon, physically as well.”

This prompted yet another commenter to relate a lesson from his father — a “very smart man,” we are assured — who taught him long ago, “people like these right-wing pundits have souls that look like maggot-infested corpses, you know, like the ones you always see in horror movies.”

PROGRESS! MAGGOT-INFESTED OR NOT, a liberal acknowledges the existence of a conservative soul!

This was about the assault on Randi Rhodes that it turns out never took place.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that the people who thought these unkind thoughts about conservatives were not the same people who were concerned about why Kathleen Willey’s cat was killed and why her tires were slashed.

Oct 162007

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – There’s no sign of a family reunion planned, but U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama are distant cousins.

So says the vice president’s wife, Lynne Cheney, who said she discovered that her husband of 43 years is eighth cousins with the senator from Illinois.

The two men could hardly be more different. Cheney is an advocate for pursuing the war in Iraq to try to stabilize the country, while Obama wants to get U.S. troops out of Iraq.

So they have two different opinions about the Iraq war.  How is that such a huge difference?   Sure, it’s a different opinion, but there’s a lot more to being a person than that.  Now if you said, “Cheney is an advocate for the war, hates cauliflower, and has a type A personality while Obama wants to quit the war, loves cauliflower, and takes Reagan-style naps”  you’d be a little further along in showing that they have differences.  But you’d still be a long ways from saying, “the two men could hardly be more different.”   There are a lot more things than that which could distinguish one human being from another.

Oct 152007

Tale of two headlines at thehill.com

1.   GOP targeting Clinton on phone-call snooping

2.    Scandal usurps Idaho’s legacy

Note that the second headline is NOT “Democrats target Republicans on Larry Craig sex scandal.”

Note also the first headline is NOT “Clinton phone-call snooping scandal usurps Democratic message.”