Archive for August, 2006

Two pictures I really am fond of

August 24, 2006

Of course, they are pictures I took.
A Pair of Pale Horses

I took this one at a street fair in Westborough, MA as part of the town’s 4th of July celebrations.

waiting

A freshly minted Phd waiting for her name to get called at Tufts University’s 2006 Hooding Ceremony.

A little academic garb trivia here. The three racing stripes on the sleeve denote that is a Doctororial robe and the dark blue on the hood note that it is for a Doctorate of Philosophy. The light blue is one of Tufts school colors (blue and brown).

On a lighter note…

August 24, 2006

Some college humor, since as of next week, I’ll have two kids in college (one undergrad, the other going for his doctorate)
From the depths of the Internet:

HELL EXPLAINED BY CHEMISTRY STUDENT

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington Chemistry mid-term.

The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase
until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes
over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct……leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY “A”

More updates on Iraq

August 24, 2006

Not the typical “Doom & Gloom” FUD news.
The Daily Dispatch takes a critical look at the NY Times and their reporting.

According to the New York Times, civilian deaths in Baghdad are at an all-time high, marking the failure of the Baghdad security plan launched by the al-Maliki government, and the descent of Iraq into civil war.

But according to Iraq’s national security minister Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, the sectarian violence peaked in mid-July, and has declined sharply since then, indicating the success of the security plan.

The first viewpoint has been promulgated in most metropolitan dailies, all the broadcast networks, and on CNN and MSNBC. (FOX News has actually presented both contentions, although with scant detail.)

We dug up the second viewpoint in the Malaysia Star, August 22, 2006. It is not readily available to consumers of American media. But the underlying data – the civilian death toll — is accessible via the internet. Civilian deaths are falling rapidly, as al-Rubaie contends, not spiraling out of control, as the New York Times implies.

The two most meticulous English-language sources on Iraqi civilian casualties are maintained by Leftwing opponents of the Iraq War.
http://www.icasualties.org and http://www.iraqbodycount.net

These websites list every “war-related” civilian death reported by the international press corps in Iraq. The sites can be faulted for attributing certain crime-related deaths to the war. But they cannot be faulted for failing to document their sources. “IraqBodyCount” goes a step further, noting contradictions between the highest and lowest death-reports associated with a given incident. The site maintains a simultaneous running tally of the “maximum” and “minimum” casualties reported.

In July, icausalties.org reported 1063 civilian casualties. In the first 22 days of August, icasualties reports 593 civilian casualties. Extrapolated for a full month, this would yield a net August death-decrease of 21.4%.

But that isn’t the whole story. Comparing the first 11 days of August against the second 11 days, there has been a hefty relative drop. Using the icausualty.org numbers, we find that Iraqi civilian casualties, Aug. 12-Aug. 22, declined 25.1% from early August.

Bagdad required a different approach.

Starting August 9th, the government beefed up the security detail in Baghdad for a “clear and hold” operation called “Operation Forward Together.” Iraqi security forces took the lead, with coalition embeds providing professional advice and logistic support. The most violent areas of Baghdad were targeted first, and each “cleared” area was garrisoned by a standing ISF presence. “Clearing” meant hunting down the bad guys where they live, killing or arresting them, and confiscating their weapons stockpiles.

Committees of safety were organized across sectarian lines, often with the help of local imams and tribal leaders, to keep lines of communication open between the communities. The number of anti-terrorist tips promptly increased, allowing the ISF to focus on the gangs and individuals at the core of the problem. Police presence reduced the civilian pressure for tit-for-tat killings. The sectarian violence in Baghdad has NEVER been popular.

In a weird way, the difference between the two strategies recapitulated American arguments over the war on terror. The first strategy – dependence on checkpoints – was defensive, and didn’t work. The second – killing the bad guys where they live – paid immediate dividends.

Emphasis added by me. Cutting and running is bad policy at this point. The better plan is to channel General George S. Patton, Jr. and not Howard Dean.

Civil War v. Police Action. Daily Dispatch nails it with this analysis:

A final irony of the failure of MSM to report strategy, tactics, and results in Operation Forward Together, launched two weeks ago, is that what the media has ignored is essentially a police action – precisely how the MSM wants to fight the “War on Terror.” The guys slaughtering dozens of unarmed people at markets in Sadr City are not an army. They have no government-in-exile, no territorial base.

They are simply criminal gangs that hire out to jihadi ideologues, local militias, or revenge-seeking tribal leaders – i.e., anyone who will pay them. A dead giveaway that this is NOT a civil war is the continued decline in coalition casualties, despite the presence of more Americans embedded with the ISF at the center of the violence.

Go read the whole thing.

Via Gateway Pundit is Back Talk’s look at the numbers and how they don’t match what the NY Times is trying to tell you.

The idea that the insurgency has gotten worse “by almost all measures” is amazingly off the mark. In fact, it is not worse according to the most obvious measures. To appreciate why this is so, you need to understand that measures taken over the short term are inherently noisy. So, looking at one month of casualty figures tells you very little in the same way that looking at the outcome of a single baseball game tells you very little about the strength of the two teams. To get a clear picture, you need to aggregate the numbers over time. Since we have complete data for the first 7 months of 2006 (January through July), I looked at what has happened over the first 7 months of this year compared to the immediately preceding 7 months (i.e., the last 7 months of 2005). Here is what I found:

US military fatalities are down in the first 7 months of 2006 (average of 57 per month) compared to last 7 months of 2005 (average of 73 per month).

Is the number of wounded really soaring? In truth, the number of US wounded is down in the first 7 months of 2006 (average of 425 per month) compared to last 7 months of 2005 (average of 499 per month). This is easily confirmed by going here.

I am surprised that the New York Times cannot even be trusted to consult readily available data that can be easily examined to evaluate their judgment of the strength of the insurgency. At the very least, they should have a paragraph in their article that begins like this: “Despite many figures suggesting that the strength of the insurgency is, if anything, declining, our belief is that it is actually gaining in strength because the number of IEDs being planted is on the increase. The reason why many other indicators suggest a weakening insurgency is that…”

I have no idea how they’d complete that sentence, but that’s what the reporters need to do if they wish to grapple with the actual evidence (big “if” there).

Gateway Pundit follows up with this bit of news that probably didn’t make the pages of the NY Times:

“Coalition and Iraqi forced captured “well over” 100 known Al Qaeda terrorists and associates in the last week!”

It must be blog sweeps week…

August 24, 2006

At least that is Glenn Reynolds says as he points out this this video blog from the beach.
Warning, she’s not in a burka, but in a bikini!

The Ghost of Billy Carter may visit HRC

August 24, 2006

The Canada Free Press has some updates on what Hillary Clinton’s brothers have been up to:

The Washington Times reported that a bankruptcy judge has frozen Tony Rodham’s bank account. A court-appointed trustee is demanding Mrs. Clinton’s brother repay more than $100,000 in loans he obtained from a carnival company, United Shows of America, Inc.

How did Tony, who has described himself as a consultant — Gee, could he be a little vaguer? — get his mitts on carnival cash?

This is just a guess, but it may possibly have had something to do with two presidential pardons granted by Rodham’s brother-in-law. These weren’t part of Bill’s last minute specials; he approved them months before he left office.

In 2001, the New York Times described what happened:

“Former President Bill Clinton’s brother-in- law Tony Rodham helped obtain a presidential pardon for a Tennessee couple last March over the objections of the Justice Department, Mr. Rodham and lawyers involved in the pardon said today.

“Mr. Clinton pardoned Edgar Allen Gregory Jr. and his wife, Vonna Jo. The Gregorys, who live outside Nashville and own United Shows of America, a carnival company based in Smyrna, Tenn., were convicted of bank fraud in 1982, accused of using the assets of a bank they owned to give loans to friends.”

The article went on to say that neither Rodham nor the Gregorys would disclose their financial relationship. Justice Department officials strongly objected, but Tony wasn’t clowning around. The carnies received their pardons.

Now he’s in the news again, which may not be good for Sister Hillary’s ambitions. It might remind voters how her brother Hugh Rodham had taken $400,000 in exchange for getting other people pardoned. One ran a cocaine ring. The other was convicted of business fraud and three years after his pardon from Clinton was sentenced to 18 months in prison for not paying millions in taxes.

Then there was Hugh and Tony’s excellent Russian adventure. They wanted to grow and export hazelnuts from Georgia. Not Billy Carter’s Georgia, Joe Stalin’s Georgia. The scheme ran into trouble when the boys involved themselves in some tangled Soviet intrigue and brother-in-law Bill’s administration nixed it.

Whenever trouble surfaced, Hillary and Bill routinely denied they knew what the Rodham boys were up to. That’s not easy to accept. After all, Hugh and Tony were close enough to go on the Clintons’ honeymoon with them. For a time, Hugh listed the White House as his home address.

Add to the mix her brother-in-law, Roger Clinton of the Ne’er Do Well Finishing and Pardon Peddling School, and you have a recipe for scandals that would make her husband’s administration look respectable. Well, almost.

Back in Michael Moore’s Iraqi Paradise…

August 23, 2006

Blackfive reminds us what it was like for the average Iraqi living with the Ba’th party in control:

“On April 16, 1987, in the evening as the cattle were returning home and the sun was setting in the sky, about eight to 12 jets covered the sky. The jets started firing on the villages of Belisand and Sheikwasan. The explosions were not very loud. There was green smoke rising from the bomb later … Lots of citizens immediately had red eyes and began to vomit.” – Kurdish villager, Ali Mustafa Hama, testifying about the murder of his village by Saddam Hussein

French Diplomacy at work

August 23, 2006

Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive sums it up:

Once again we get to watch the graceless diplomatic dance as France and Iran pretend that talking or bribery will stop the Iranians from finishing their nukes. The amazing thing is they do this while the Iranian leadership proudly proclaims they will not stop their uranium enrichment and they have now locked the IAEA inspectors out of their facilities.

If the Mullahs do not allow the inspectors back into their facilities very shortly we will have a situation where we will no longer have any idea how far along the process is. As of now they have successfully enriched a considerable amount of uranium to “low” enrichment levels used for nuclear energy. The next step is to refine it up to “high” enrichment levels needed for weapons, and the first step in that process is booting the inspectors so they can deny doing this.

Funny thing about this is I can’t think of anyone who believes they won’t use the weapons once they get them.

That not funny as in “Ha Ha” funny. It’s funny in the “Gee that’s sick” kinda funny.

The mindset of this years freshman class

August 23, 2006

This is a little scary since my youngest son is one of those Freshman

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.

6. There has always been only one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually “ring it up” on a cash register.

20. Text messaging is their e-mail.

31. They grew up in minivans.
32. Reality shows have always been on television.

40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.
41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.

The view from Iraq

August 23, 2006

According to Reuters (no pictures):

The level of violence in Baghdad has fallen sharply since July thanks to troop reinforcements and the new government’s efforts to reconcile warring Shi’ites and Sunnis, Iraq’s national security adviser said on Tuesday.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie insisted that the sectarian and insurgent bloodshed that has seized Iraq was not a civil war, a description U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration has strenuously avoided in the face of mounting casualties.

“This is absolutely not a civil war,” Rubaie told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Japan. “Al Qaeda tried for that for three years and failed miserably. But it has created a crack between Shias and Sunnis.”

[…]

He challenged the notion that violence was out of control in the Iraqi capital, saying it had peaked last month.

“The surge was only until mid-July,” he said. “The number of attacks is down from mid-July by 45 percent and extra-judicial murders … are down 35 percent since mid-July. We’re there, we’re definitely on the mend.”

HT to Rob at Say Anything.

Saber rattling in the Gulf

August 22, 2006

Units of the Iranian Military fired on a Romanian oil rig and then occupied the rig according to CNN.