Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraqi Elections and Giving the Finger to Terrorists.........


As everyone probably knows already, Iraqis participated in their first democratic elections, and the turnout was quite impressive. Here are some reactions from Iraqi bloggers- suffice to say you won't be reading these reactions in the New York Times, nor hear the tapes on ABC news..

Iraq The Model-
How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?"
Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.

Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!?
Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.

The media is reporting only explosions and suicide attacks that killed and injured many Iraqis s far but this hasn't stopped the Iraqis from marching towards their voting stations with more determination. Iraqis have truly raced the sun.

Zeyad at Healing Iraq-
The turnout in Iraq was really like nothing that I had expected. I was glued in front of tv for most of the day. My mother was in tears watching the scenes from all over the country. Iraqis had voted for peace and for a better future, despite the surrounding madness. I sincerely hope this small step would be the start of much bolder ones, and that the minority which insists on enslaving the majority of Iraqis would soon realise that all that they have accomplished till now is in vain.

Another surprise was to see some Iraqis who had fled the country in fear of reprisals, such as the families of ex-regime figures and ex-Ba'athists, actually voting and encouraging others to vote! I know some of those from school and college and I imagined they would be bitter about the whole process, but many were not.

Jordanians were wishing Iraqis luck these few days everywhere on the streets. One young man at a mall, on recognising my Iraqi accent, asked me who I would be voting for. I politely told him that I would vote for who I believe is sincere. Strangely, he said that he personally preferred Allawi and hoped most Iraqis would be voting for him. I wished his country luck as well since the King had promised direct elections for municipal councils as a first step. He dismissed that as nothing much and said that "One should start from the 'Head' down, not the other way around". This last remark played on my survival instincts, even though the fellow looked far from being a Jordanian Mukhabarat agent, so I left the man in peace.

I really want to write much much more but I have to run for now. I promise I will post again soon. In the mean time: Hold your head up high, Remember that you are Iraqi.

Chris Muir at Day by Day nails it with the following cartoon-


And of course, those opposed to Bush and his policies are moving the goalposts further back-

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who lost the November presidential election against Republican President George W. Bush, described the Iraqi elections as "significant" and "important" but said they should not be "overhyped."

"It is significant that there is a vote in Iraq," Kerry said in an interview with NBC television’s Meet the Press. "But … no one in the United States should try to overhype this election.

"This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation," Kerry said. "And it’s going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in.

"Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq," he said.

What a loser. Kerry still thinks that until the French get involved everything is still is mess. Meanwhile, Iraqis are thanking God that the French and the UN AREN'T involved in their country anymore. I shudder at the thought of this man being president.

Congratulations to the Iraqi People and may your days ahead be brighter and more peaceful!!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

In Support Of The Iraqi People...............


Let's all put the disagreements about the war in Iraq to the side tomorrow and pledge our support for the Iraqi people as they bravely go to the polls and take part in the democratic process.

I'm fully in support of this pledge started over at Unscrewing the Inscrutable-

I'd like to ask a favor: Regardless of one's political inclination, irrespective of your confidence in the electoral process employed, or the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, no matter what the outcome, let us all stand united in our admiration for those courageous Iraqi's who will brave gunfire, RPGs, bombs, and reprisal, to determine their own fate? For they choose to do so in bold defiance of promised violence and certain intimidation.

Good luck to the people of Iraq!!!!

How Beer Saves Lives..........


Man Pees Way Out Of Avalanche
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out.

But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported.

He said: “I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I’m glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there.”

Parts of Europe have this week been hit by the heaviest snowfalls since 1941, with some places registering more than ten feet of snow in 24 hours

Whether or not this story is true, I bet that peeing your way out of an avalanche is really a good idea. Water flows downhill, heat rises..etc..boom! no more avalanche, big hole above you..good call G..

hey...just cause I'm drunk doesn't mean I can't blog.........

Friday, January 28, 2005

In Case Anyone Was Wondering..............


A few weeks ago I got to travel to the lovely shores of Sarasota, and in the process managed to sprain my ankle pretty bad. My dad had just emailed me to ask if I would be able to meet him out in Colorado this year and go skiing, and from the current condition of my ankle it appears I will not be able to do so. He then asked me how I managed to sprain my ankle, so I had to tell him the story. Then I thought- HEY! - why not let the entire World Wide Web read the story TOO! What a great idea!

So here it is...

(ahem)......I had inadvertently lost Ry during a Friday night drinking binge off Siesta Key near where we were staying in Sarasota and didn't have my phone with me, although for some reason I had the battery to Rys phone in my pocket. After wandering around the key trying to get back to the mainland I stumbled in to a swamp/forest like area hoping to find a main road to hail a cab. I finally found a fence which appeared to border civilization. As I stumbled towards it, one of the local alligators in the swamp/forest area took offense to me wandering through his neck of the woods and decided to chase me. I ran away and managed to twist my ankle pretty bad in the process when I stepped in some sort of hole. I flung myself through an opening in the fence, and ended up in some high price condo complex, complete with a pond and bridge spanning the width of said pond. I attempted to curl up and sleep in the middle of the bridge on a little gazebo type area, but was promptly noticed by the local security who then escorted me out of said complex. I finally limped to a main road and hailed a cab. I couldn't remember the name of Rys parents subdivision in the drunken haze I was in, so I decided to get a cheap hotel and figure it out in the morning. The next day I remembered the name of the subdivision and cabbed it back there. Spent the rest of the weekend hobbling around Sarasota. Had it X-rayed when I got home, and got the following response from the doc- "the good news is its not broken, the bad news is it would have healed faster if you broke it." Yay! I haven't been able to do much on it for the last three weeks or so but its getting better.

One for the books.......and note to self: Don't wander through swamp/forest like areas around the keys in Sarasota-these guys don't play...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Congratulations To The New Sceretary Of State- Dr. Condoleeza Rice.......


She has definitely earned her spot in one of the most important positions of our government, and I have little doubt that she will perform up to the highest standards possible. Her background reads like something out of a movie, earning her doctorate at 19(?) I believe. She is also a trained concert pianist, making her probably the highest ranking decent musician. Come on folks, Clinton sucked- he couldn't play that thing to save his life.

Via the Indepundit Citizen Smash (whom I need to put on my blogroll),here is the letter Dr. Rice sent out to all State Department employees...

An Excerpt-

"In these momentous times, American diplomacy has three great tasks. We will unite the community of democracies in building an international system that is based on our shared values and the rule of law. We will strengthen the community of democracies to fight the threats to our common security and alleviate the hopelessness that feeds terror. And we will spread freedom and democracy throughout the world. That is the mission that President Bush has set for you and me, and the great mission of American diplomacy today.

As we begin our work together, President Bush and I will expect great things from each of you in the service of your country and of a great cause. More than ever, you will be active in spreading democracy, fighting terror, reducing poverty, and helping to protect the American homeland.

I want each of you to know that I have no higher priority than the well-being and personal development of the men and women of the Foreign and Civil Services and the Foreign Service Nationals who work beside us. I know from experience how hard you work and the many risks you take. And I am especially aware of the hardships and sacrifices that your families endure as they also serve our nation. I want you to know that I will personally work to help ensure that you have the tools you need to do your jobs -- from training to budgets to mentoring to embassy security.

Colleagues, I am honored to be your Secretary during these historic times. Together, we will serve our wonderful country and the cause of freedom for which it stands.

And I certainly wish to alarm the sexist, racist bastards of the world that an African American Woman is fourth in line to become President of the United States. Smoke on that one former grand KKK-wizard Asshole Supreme Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Oh yeah, and I forgot to add- James Lileks said it best- "the first thing Secretary Rice (ooh that sounds good) should do when they pick up her up at the airport is say 'no thanks, I'll drive....."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Reason #874,556 Why The Entire UN Should Be Dumped In The East River...


Some days you wonder what the UN could do to make itself even more useless. I guess you should just have patience.

'Rights abuser' Cuba Put on U.N. Action Panel

Advocates scoffed at Cuba's inclusion on a U.N. action panel on human rights. The United Nations has condemned the island's rights record for five straight years.


Human rights activists were outraged Tuesday over Cuba's appointment to an elite ''action panel'' that will influence the work of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which has consistently condemned the communist nation's miserable record.

''It's shameful that anyone would support Cuba to play any relevant role in the human rights machinery,'' said José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch in Washington, D.C.

''A government as recalcitrant as the Cuban government should not be rewarded with membership of any kind,'' Vivanco added. ``It clearly undermines the legitimacy or credibility of institutions that are supposed to be supervising and monitoring human rights.''

Cuba's inclusion to the newly created action panel was approved by the 11 Latin American nations that form part of the 53-member Commission on Human Rights. The designation means Cuban diplomats will not only have a say in alleged violations the commission will investigate, but also will be first to represent the region when the group has its initial gathering on Feb. 7.

Can you just imagine this scene? Here's a preview-
UN Human Rights Comission (UNHRC):(speaking to researchers from Human Rights Watch) "So, I see you have a report here that outlines the torture and murder of political dissidents and journalists in Cuba."

Human Rights Watch(HRW): "Yes, it's horrible. Castro is simply jailing anyone who disagrees with him. And if they become more trouble, he has them executed."

UNHRC:"Well, um, that sounds pretty bad doesn't it. We shall deal with this right away."

HRW: "What are you going to do?"

UNHRC: "We are going to have you arrested and thrown in jail in Cuba. Thanks for the information. Say hi to Alberto for me in the electrocution room."

Oh, and Zimbabwe, the country that has that bastion of human rights Robert Mugabe as their self appointed leader for life, is in charge of Human Rights for Africa on the same commission.

Does anyone have a good reason why we should even be bothering with this waste of real estate any more?

A Blog You Should Be Reading.............


Soon to be added to my blogroll is the excellent Friends of Democracy, a site dedicated to ground level election news from the people of Iraq.

In their own words-

Friends of Democracy - Our Vision

Despite the challenges, we were seeing free and democratic Iraq, we were living the hard laboring moment we believe that every one of us has duty towards our beloved country

By our hands, work, thoughts, sacrifice we will build up the new Iraq.

Our home is open for every friend of democracy and they are many in Iraq.

We are the hope of the rest of peoples which longed for freedom and they are looking with the eye of hope to the Iraqi sample.

Let us show them a shining sample and let us remind them that we are the ones of the first code of laws. Let them share us to work with full efforts to push forward the democracy process in Iraq.

Iraq does fascinate me as a country, and I would love to be able to visit it one day. The history of mankind is etched in stone throughout the area. I have met quite a few Kurdish folks here in Nashville (apparently Nashville has the largest population of Kurds outside of Iraq- we're known as "little Kurdistan"), and they have always been warm and freindly, not to mention outstanding cooks. I think I can blame part of my expanding waistline to the lamb Gyro's I get from the place around the corner from my office. Tasty stuff indeed.

Everyone should be supporting a safe and successful election in Iraq on Sunday, because it will mean not only progress for Iraq, but for other nations struggling for freedom as well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Memo To Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.......


You should probably read the stuff National Security Advisors send to you before you vote on it, seeing as how you are senators 'n stuff...

In case you haven't heard, Senators Boxer and Kerry have been interviewing Condoleeza Rice for the position of Secretary of State, and they have been using it as an opportunity to whine about Bush and the war in Iraq.

Senator Boxer in particular has chosen to expose herself as someone who apparently is unfit for office if she is going to lie in front of a Government confirmation hearing. Case in point-

Senator Boxer stated the bill passed by Congress authorizing the war in Iraq was over "WMD, period. Let’s not rewrite history, it’s too soon for that."

Um, no it wasn't. Did she even read the thing? Here's a few points you may have missed Senator Boxer-

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002’.

Yes, we did go to war to try and disarm Saddam. But that was hardly the only reason we did. And had Boxer even bothered to read the resolution, she would never have made such asinine comments at the hearing.

Of course then she went on to call Dr. Rice a liar-

"I personally believe — this is my personal view — that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth," Mrs. Boxer told Miss Rice, who has been President Bush’s national security adviser since 2001.

Miss Rice responded that she "never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character."

"And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity," Miss Rice said.

So do we Condi, so do we...

As usual, the boys over at Cox and Forkum illustrate these children in the most poignant way possible-

Monday, January 24, 2005

This Has Gone From Annoying To Ridiculous.......

..........Via (Incite and The Diplomad)

I realize that the United States, being the richest and most productive nation in the world has a responsibility to help out the less fortunate nations in their times of need, and should do so without any expectation of compensation or christ, even a thank you, but this is starting to truly piss me off. Read the following letter from a career U.S. Navy officer currently serving with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group.

An Excerpt-

It has been three weeks since my ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln, arrived off the Sumatran coast to aid the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami that ravaged their coastline. I’d like to say that this has been a rewarding experience for us, but it has not: Instead, it has been a frustrating and needlessly dangerous exercise made even more difficult by the Indonesian government and a traveling circus of so-called aid workers who have invaded our spaces.What really irritated me was a scene I witnessed in the Lincoln’s wardroom a few days ago. I went in for breakfast as I usually do, expecting to see the usual crowd of ship’s company officers in khakis and air wing aviators in flight suits, drinking coffee and exchanging rumors about when our ongoing humanitarian mission in Sumatra is going to end.

What I saw instead was a mob of civilians sitting around like they owned the place. They wore various colored vests with logos on the back including Save The Children, World Health Organization and the dreaded baby blue vest of the United Nations. Mixed in with this crowd were a bunch of reporters, cameramen and Indonesian military officers in uniform. They all carried cameras, sunglasses and fanny packs like tourists on their way to Disneyland.

My warship had been transformed into a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders overnight.

As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of “Nice china, really makes me feel special,” in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives. That plus the fact that he had no business being there in the first place..........
.........I’m all for helping the less fortunate, but it is time to give this mission to somebody other than the U.S. Navy. Our ship was supposed to be home on Feb. 3 and now we have no idea how long we will be here. American taxpayers are spending millions per day to keep this ship at sea and getting no training value out of it. As a result, we will come home in a lower state of readiness than when we left due to the lack of flying while supporting the tsunami relief effort.

I hope we get some good PR in the Muslim world out of it. After all, this is Americans saving the lives of Muslims. I have my doubts.

One would think that these NGO groups like the WHO and "Save the Children" would be a tad more appreciative of the fact that the US Military is available to supply the world with immediate resources in times of disaster so that people lives can be saved. One would be wrong apparently.

There Can Be Only One.............


So we come down to one (meaningful) NFL game left, perhaps you've heard about it- THE SUPER BOWL- and there remains two weeks of every possible angle to the game dissected by every self appointed football expert in the world.

I will hold off on my thoughts for now, and let the results of the weekend sink in.

Philly is a better team than Atlanta, that much is not up for argument. I will write these words here so my bud can see it written in virtual stone- I WAS WRONG ABOUT THE EAGLES DEFENSE. They outplayed Atlanta and managed to hold Mike Vick to warp three instead of a nine or ten. Atlanta never really got the running game going, and their defense never managed to get a big stop or turnover when it counted. And Donovan McNabb put the naysayers to rest as he slayed the NFC Championship game demons, and put his team over the top and in to the Super Bowl. It really looked as if McNabb was in complete control of the game from the first snap on, and Atlanta never forced him in to making any bad decisions. Just wait until he meets a Belichick playoff defense....

Speaking of, The Pats MANHANDLED the Steelers, and as my previous prediction noted, Pittsburgh was forced to rely on Roethelsomthingburger to come from behind and things got ugly in a hurry. The Pats went up 10-0 in the first five minutes of the game, and then Big Ben began to self destruct as Belichicks defense kicked in. Pittsburgh made a few second half runs to get close, but were never able to stop Brady when they needed to, and Dillon was able to pound away while they ran out the clock.

More thoughts on the Big game to come later, but for now I will post a thought or two for my Mom and the other poor folks caught up in the blizzard of 2005 in the northeast.....

I. Don't. Miss. It. At. All.

This looks like fun, doesn't it?


"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful
And since we've nowhere to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

It's supposed to reach the high 50's this week in Nashville. Just thought I'd share that.

Friday, January 21, 2005

You Know Those Motivational Signs?


You know, the ones that have a picture of some guy climbing a mountain or something and the caption reads something like "The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step" or "always believe in your dreams and you can accomplish anything".

I hate those things with a passion. The money would be better spent on just about anything else in the office we need. Especially for productivity.

Today I was emailed the following site, and it appears my mocking prayers have been answered.


Finally someone took those posters and wrote what everyone really thinks about them, and the results are freaking hilarious.

My two personal favorites-

And yes, I have been put on hold quite a bit today as you can see.....

Only Three Meaningful Games Left..........


The NFL season is drawing to a close, and grown men across the land are beginning to start wondering just what excuse we can start using to get wasted by three o'clock in the afternoon on Sundays. No hockey this year, so it should be a challenge. I'm probably going to run with "Tennessee in the Winter is boring- so I should be drunk". Of course, I'm of Irish descent and that's somewhat of a permanent excuse anyways, so there's that.

So who do you like in the games this weekend?

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons

I have to go with the Falcons in this raptor fight. Michael "Warp Nine" Vick just makes me too nervous to go with the Eagles. Philly did manhandle the Falcons two years ago in a divisional playoff game, but this Atlanta team is much different than that one. For the last month or so, my best friend and I have been arguing who has the better defense between these two- he believes it's the Eagles, I don't. Stats wise the Eagles are better, but I think that Atlanta plays with more intensity. They were flying all over the field against the Rams with reckless abandon. I agree that the Eagles do also play with serious intensity, but I just see more of it out of Atlanta. Offensively, Vick has become one of the few players in the league who can literally take over a game on his own and carry a team on his back. The Eagles will probably spy him with Kearse all day, but I don't think the freak can keep up with Vick.

Final Score: Atlanta: 24 -Philly: 14

New England Patriots Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

When these two teams met during the regular season, the Steelers ended New Englands win streak and literally punched them in the mouth for four quarters. Beat 'em down. Bitch-slapped and all that. This time, I think things will be dramatically different. Ben Roethelsomethingburger, the rookie UNDEFEATED quarterback had a very rude awakening to playoff football last Sunday. He passed for a total of 61 net yards when you subtract the interception and the sacks. The Patriots didn't have Dillon when they played them during the regular season, and he was HUGE in his first playoff game against the Colts. If New England goes up early and can control the clock, Big Ben will be forced to air it up, and that could be a disaster against a Belichick coached playoff defense. Belichick had some unbelievable schemes set up last week to defang Peyton Manning, and I can't imagine what Ben can do better than Peyton. This one could end up being ugly if the Pats score early.

Final Score- New England: 28 Pittsburgh: 7

Both of these games will be played like football games should be: outside and in the snow. Pennsylvania is calling for snow throughout the state, so we should have some sloppy conditions which will make for exciting games........sigh......I just realized again......only three games left......sigh....

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Are You Reading Jay Pinkertons Back of the Bible Series?.....



Why the hell not? You loser. Do you have any idea how funny it is?


Well, I think you should go read it. And you will laugh. Often and early. Don't thank me, I'm a giver....

He has a new version out on the Book of Hosea, but my personal favorite is the one on The Book of Haggai because of the great job he does in showing how atheists seem to exist just to piss off religious types.

An excerpt-

There's probably room for compromise on both sides of the burden of proof issue, I think. The key lies in atheists needing to be a little clearer on their Ouroborosian non-belief belief system. Namely, they need to concede that they aren't denying the existence of a god so much as the existence of this God — the capitalized one with the pre-Christian desert morality who listens to everyone's thoughts and wants you to come live with Him after He destroys the universe. With this small clarification, the athiest comes off less like a hypocrite convinced he or she has all the answers, and more like just a collosal dickhead who's built up an entire belief system with the sole purpose of mocking another (a vast improvement, I think).

This subtle nuance transforms atheism from a minority group of weepy Doubting Thomases into an aggressive hybrid of skeptic and instigator — much like agnostics, but without all that embarrassing fence-sitting that makes "agnostic" so interchangable with "huge pussy." In essence, Atheist 2.0 admits he or she has no concrete answers. All they're concerned about is the central rallying cry of the new atheistic philosophy: "We Honestly Don't Have The First Fucking Clue What's Out There. But Come On — You're So Not Even Close."

Has anyone ever actually read these parts of the bible? What the hell was going on back then? I mean good GOD these folks had some issues...

If you don't click Jay's Back of the Bible link, then baby jesus will kill another puppy.

It's A Link Happy Day!!!...........


I don't like to be put on hold, but in the time it took for the person I'm waiting for to get me the information I need, I uncovered yet another treasure trove of comedy goodness.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Deep Thoughts- by Jack Handy.....

A few personal favorites.....

"A good way to threaten somebody is to light a stick of dynamite. Then you call the guy and hold the burning fuse up to the phone. "Hear that?" you say. "That's dynamite, baby."

"I wish I had a Kryptonite cross, because then you could keep both Dracula AND Superman away."

"I think a good product would be "Baby Duck Hat". It's a fake baby duck, which you strap on top of your head. Then you go swimming underwater until you find a mommy duck and her babies, and you join them. Then, all of a sudden, you stand up out of the water and roar like Godzilla. Man, those ducks really take off! Also, Baby Duck Hat is good for parties"

......whoops! I'm off hold now...enjoy the Deep Thoughts folks.....

The Diplomad Top Ten List...............


The always informative blog known as the Diplomad has a list of the "ten mistaken ideas people hold." My two favorites...

2) Foreign Aid Helps Poor People. No. Foreign aid largely helps the High Priest Vulture Elite, airlines, restaurants, hotels, car-rental companies and other service industries that cater to the HPVE. Freedom, trade, capitalism and education help poor people. Plus it also matters that their culture teaches them a work ethic (see number 8 below). The old saw that "foreign aid is when the poor people of a rich country give money to the rich people of a poor country" has more than a kernel of truth. BTW, try to name any country that has been developed by foreign aid.

3) If the USA Pressured Ariel Sharon, there'd be Middle East Peace. Middle East peace will happen when the culture of violence changes on the Arab side of the equation and the Arabs drop the goal of destroying Israel. The Palestinian "right of return" is part of destroying Israel. We see Yasser Arafat's death as a good start; and Mahmoud Abbas getting elected. But let's not put a halo over his head just because he's not Arafat.

Read the rest, well worth a quick glance....

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Global Warming Is Making Me Thirsty........


Actually, not so much thirsty as just tired of reading everyone blaming Global Warming for anything bad that has happened to the world in the last 100 years. If you listen to some people, the latest is that Global Warming caused the Tsunami's. Let's ignore the fact the 9.2 Earthquake recorded prior to the Tsunami -a result of massive tectonic plates shifting under each other- was more likely the culprit. And folks, tectonic plates shifting have more to do with the core of the earth heating and shifting than SUV emissions. So shut up already about Global Warming and The Tsunami's, unless of course you want to be the modern day equivalent of the bad guys in Michael Chrichton's State of Fear (which, again, I PROMISE to review as soon as I can-truly, I want to write this review, I just want enough time to do it right, so lemme alone already)...

Anywhoo, The Chicagoboyz have written an excellent post concerning the latest report from The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute concerning Global Temperatures over the last 450,000 years, so as to put the "warming" the earth is supposedly experiencing in perspective.

Observe these two Charts-

Average Global Temperatures Since 1861

And the Following from The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Change In Average Temperature In Antarctica Over 450,000 Years

Notice anything? Basically, what the second chart shows is that the earth could shake us off like a bad case of fleas if it wanted to, no matter what we do to it, and different organisms will still thrive and dominate their environments. And basing major economical decisions that negatively impact the world and our ability to thrive in it just so we can "feel good about saving the environment" IS A VERY VERY BAD IDEA.

And enough with the Global Warming=Tsunami crap. You. Are. Wrong. And thanks for the Report Michael Hiteshew from Chicagoboyz, a very good read.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Huygens Titan Photos Revealed.............


It appears as though Titan resembles Alaska, or maybe some other frozen tundra. For perhaps the best collection so far of processed photos, I recommend the following site- Anthony Liekens- keep in mind that these photos have been enhanced by amateurs with no extensive scientific background, so it will take time to get the full pictures confirmed. But some of them are simply stunning. Remember that Titan and Saturn are over a million miles away, the surface temperature is around -280 degrees fahrenheit, and the probe has provided us with extremely detailed shots.

Friday, January 14, 2005

My Baby Got Sauce.........

.............G-Love and Special Sauce

Cooling out cooling out
Waiting form my lady got the special sauce that’s why she’s my baby my baby
My baby
And of course I’ll do anything for her anything she wants
It’s sure honey sure
Got a sharp mouth a sharp tongue gimme gimme gimme some
Don’t take to that gimme gimme none
You got to work deserve it earn it to own it
Once you got never ever going to leave it alone don’t take wise cracking or
Forgetting never been stood up
She does the stepping
My baby got sauce
Your baby ain’t sweet like mine
She got sauce
Your baby ain’t sweet like mine
She got sauce...

Got to see the sold out Funky Philadelphonic G-love last night at the Exit/In, for free no less as my best friend has what you would call an "in" at the Door to the Exit/In. Confused? Me too.

Great show though, he did two encores and ended with the aforementioned radio hit. A friend of mine who was there remarked that "he sounded exactly like his albums", to which I replied "it's because he rocks- he doesn't need a studio to sound good". Wall to wall hotties there too. He always packs 'em in, and slow funkiness is perfect to dance to.

Thanks G-Love, looking forward to your next visit..

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Yeah, I'm Space Geekin' Lately.............


You don't like it? I apologize, if you would like a refund, please leave a mailing address in the comments below this post and I will be happy to return the unused funds as soon as possible.

Oh wait. This is a free site- You don't like it? Tough Banana's. I think these two latest space posts are freaking cool as hell. So go read the Onion or something if this bothers you.......and on that pleasant note, I give you-

European Space Agency's Huygens Probe Ready for Spectacular Mission to Titan

{there goes Europe, hitching a ride on the US's back AGAIN..-ed.)Mission managers for the European Space Agency's Huygens probe said the spacecraft is on course for its descent to Saturn's mysterious moon Titan on Friday, Jan. 14. The probe, which detached from NASA's Cassini orbiter last month, will be the first object to explore on-site the unique environment of Titan, whose chemistry is thought to be very similar to that of early Earth, before life formed. The data gathered during the probe's 2 1/2 hour descent through Titan's atmosphere will be transmitted from the probe to the Cassini orbiter and then back to Earth.

This map illustrates the planned imaging coverage for the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer, onboard the European Space Agency's Huygens probe during the probe's descent toward Titan's surface on Jan. 14, 2005. The Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer is one of two NASA instruments on the probe.

As of this post, it's about 12 hours until the probe begins its descent..

Titan Descent at a Glance

Signal Travel Time from Titan:
1 hour, 7 minutes
1:51 a.m. PST
Huygens Transmitters On
2:16 a.m. PST
Pilot Parachute Deploys
2:17 a.m. PST
Huygens Begins Transmitting to Cassini
2:32 a.m. PST
Drogue Parachute Deploys
4:34 a.m. PST
Surface Touchdown
6:44 a.m. PST
Cassini Stops Collecting Data
7:24 a.m. PST
First Chance for Data Arrival on Earth

The cool thing about this is that the scientists really aren't sure exactly what the surface of Titan is made of. The probe may float, it may slam in to some solid surface, it may simply plow through some gaseuos cloud until it reaches the core, hell- it may land in some aliens living room. They really have no idea. So the results of the data, if we receive it in complete form, will have enormous implications for future space missions and our ability to analyze satellite data of other planets. It will give us much more of a foundation to work with when determining other planets makeups as well as the history of the makeup of our own planet.

Very exciting stuff. Congratulations to Cal Tech, JPL, and the ESA team!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Deep Impact Launch Successful!!!


DEEP IMPACT LAUNCHED - January 12, 2005 at 1:47:08 p.m. EST

1:47 p.m. - T-10....9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1... We have ignition and liftoff of a Delta II rocket carrying Deep Impact -- NASA's journey to unlock the mystery of the solar system's origin.

2:22 p.m. - Deep Impact has successfully separated from the
Delta II's third stage and is on its way to Comet Tempel 1. Cheers erupt from the NASA Launch Team.

Congratulations to all the team members from JPL, NASA, Cal Tech and Univ. Maryland. Job well done!!

The next news we will be looking to hear about is the Encounter (Impact)- July 4, 2005-Twenty-four hours prior to impact, the flyby spacecraft will release the impactor. The impactor will set a path to the comet while the spacecraft performs a "deflection maneuver" to place itself a safe distance and angle from the impact.

Deep Impact To Launch Today................


Too bad we can't send Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis too, but hey, whaadyagonna do?

For those interested, here are the sites you can keep up to date on the launch.

Deep Impact Main Page

View NASA TV Launch Coverage

View Live Online Launch Countdown Coverage

View Press Kit

The Deep Impact objectives are:
1.)Observe how the crater forms
2.)Measure the crater's depth and diameter
3.)Measure the composition of the interior of the crater and its ejecta
4.)Determine the changes in natural outgassing produced by the impact

Also, one thing that will be closely monitored is the degree of orbital change that is caused by the impact. This will be a good thing to know. It will hopefully help to forward our knowledge of how effective we can be in mitigating comets in the future.

Congratulations to the staff of Deep Impact from Nasa, Jpl, Cal Tech and the University of Maryland. Godspeed, as they say......

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tsunami Survivors, Malaria, DDT, and Environmentalism Gone Amok....


So I had a chance to flip through a New Yorker last weekend while resting my injured foot in Florida, and I came across this story in the Talk of the Town section. In the article, (THE FINANCIAL PAGE-PUSH AND PULL) it discusses the promise made by Gordon Brown, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the United Kingdom, he said, would buy up to three hundred million doses of a new malaria vaccine for the developing world. The argument is made that drug companies have put very little money into vaccine research because they’d much rather invest in an anti-arthritis drug that well-insured Americans will take every day than a vaccine that may never command a fair price. The article continues on blaming the Drug industries for abandoning Malaria vaccine research because it is unprofitable. It then states that governments would be better off "pulling" research and vaccines out of drug companies by guaranteeing a fair market price for these drugs once the research is completed instead of the "push" theory where the Government actually pays for the research by supporting its pet causes.

Without going in to the socialized medicine argument, which essentially is what the author of the article advocates, I wondered after reading the entire article, why doesn't he mention DDT? Not once in the article is there any mention of what has been proven to be the number one most effective solution to malaria, to kill the mosquitoes before they cause the disease through pesticides. The number one most effective pesticide for killing mosquitoes? DDT.

Why is DDT not being used in third world nations to eradicate the disease carrying mosquitoes?

Environmentalism Gone Amok. Specifically, by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book "Silent Spring," which vilified the pesticide because it was killing birds and casing their eggs to be weak and causing other such environmental catastrophes.

Ronald Bailey from Reason Magazine wrote the following article-

DDT, Eggshells, and Me
Cracking open the facts on birds and banned pesticides

An Excerpt-

"In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson asked, "Who has decided—who has the right to decide—for the countless legions of people who were not consulted that the supreme value is a world without insects, even though it be also a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight? The decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power."

Banning DDT saved thousands of raptors over the past 30 years, but outright bans and misguided fears about the pesticide cost the lives of millions of people who died of insect-borne diseases like malaria. The 500 million people who come down with malaria every year might well wonder what authoritarian made that decision. "

Dr Roger Bate, Director of the health advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, also pens a similar article for TechCentralStation which details the chronology of the DDT ban in the US-

The Worst Thing That Nixon Ever Did

An Excerpt-

"Why did Nixon push for a ban? We may never know. A few older Washington DC policy experts have suggested that some of his election campaign supporters were chemical companies that produced alternatives to DDT and so stood to gain handsomely by the DDT phase out. Others say that it is more likely that senior officials in his administration pressured Nixon into the decision given the potential votes he stood to lose in his native and very green state of California. But the why of his decision pales beside what this decision has wrought: two million deaths a year from malaria alone.

"The proceeding, as a whole, was closer to a star chamber than an open hearing," concludes the Northern Illinois University study. Although Ruckelshaus should have resigned rather than implement such bad policy, the real blame appears to lie elsewhere. We may not have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore, but his political policy to ban DDT at all costs -- a policy now ardently supported by environmentalists everywhere -- continues to kick Africa's hopes for economic progress and to condemn millions to death from mosquito and lice borne diseases."

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has written extensively on this subject. In fact, he deserves credit for keeping this issue out front during his blog years, and has linked to various articles concerning the issue. Here is his summation of the reality behind DDT and Malaria-

"ON THE ONE HAND, in my area it's now routine to see bald eagles, blue herons, and other birds that only a few years ago were thought nearly extinct. Their comeback is because of the elimination of DDT spraying. On the other hand, millions of people a year are dying from a disease that we know how to control, if not entirely eradicate. And there's reason to believe that malaria is coming back -- not just in the Third World, but in the United States. Furthermore, if DDT is used properly for malaria control, which involves spraying walls where mosquitoes congregate, the environmental risks are very low and the malaria-control benefits high. Some call efforts for a complete global ban eco-colonialism and it's certainly true that, as much as I love to see the blue herons on the lake, it seems unfair that my pleasure in this is bought at the cost of millions of third-world deaths.

THE WEST NILE VIRUS is just the beginning of what the United States faces. If malaria starts up here again -- and in my area it wasn't eradicated until TVA sprayed DDT in the late 1940s and early 1950s -- you'll see a massive overreaction that will make California's periodic Medfly panics look mild. Controls on DDT and other pesticides should be based on science, not hysteria. Otherwise they're all too likely to collapse entirely in the face of another kind of hysteria.

The Tsunami survivors are currently attempting to dry out their countries from the intense flooding, and almost assuredly as a result, there will be wide-spread cases of disease carrying mosquitoes all over the region. The New Yorker article I linked to above states that the best answer to help these people is to force industry to make better vaccines, instead of what seems like the logical response, kill the disease and its source first.

Hey, I like the blue herons too, but at the expense of hundreds of millions of people dying from a horrible disease? Where do we draw the line?

Incidentally, the overlying issue of Environmentalism Gone Amok is a driving force behind the Michael Chrichton Novel, State of Fear, which I will post a review for soon.

Update: How could I have written this post and not included the following cartoon from Cox and Forkum? For shame.......

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tman LIVE from Sarasota!!!..................


Beautiful place this state of Florida is I tellsya. Every vacation I have ever had in the state of Florida has been one for the books, and this one will be no exception. Sarasota is surrounded by Keys, and we have been spending time at the aptly named Siesta Key. The beach has that fine grain powder like sand that gently massages your feet as you walk. The water is cold, but not heart-attack-inducing cold, and after an hour or so soaking up rays it provides a welcome relief. Just perfect weather too, high 70's, low 80's and sunny.

Friday was spent beach bound, and then drinking Guinness and eating piles of snow crab at the Siesta Key Oyster bar. The crab was covered in cajun spices as well, which was a first for me, and it was quite tasty. And ridiculously fresh as well. Had some stone crab earlier, as well as some great shrimp yesterday at a watch-the-sun-set type pier oyster bar. I can never eat enough seafood. Especially in Florida. After gorging and drinking all afternoon, it was "siesta" time for a couple hours before we ventured out again. When we made it out again it was apparent that our buzz from the guiness had not left completely. We started at a Japanese Steakhouse for dinner, but after two large Saki's waiting for a spot at the sushi bar was out of the question. So across the street we went for some lobster bisque and some more guiness. Then the evening gets a little blurry. We decided to go to the beach to walk around and see what was happening oceanside, but somehow my best friend and I managed to get seperated, (I think it had something to do with women) and then things got interesting. Somehow I wandered in to a forest like area, twisted/broke my foot after running from what sounded like a large animal, and then tried to rest for a second or more on a bench inside this ritzy apartment complex. After an innocent plea to the local security at said complex I managed to flag a cab and make it back to a hotel for the night. My friend managed to wake up elsewhere, was stopped by the local law enforcement as he tried to stumble home, and then got picked up and brought home. The next day, after finally remembering where we were staying, I got another cab back and took stock of the situation. Best friend was well bruised, and I can barely walk. Not sure if the foot is broken, but the swelling went down this morning so that's a good thing. (Mom, when you read this, I'M FINE. REALLY. If the swelling doesn't go down some more by tomorrow I'll go and get an x-ray, so don't worry about it.) Anywhoo, today we'll probably get some more beach time, some more seafood, and then hit the road back to crappy rainy Nashvile. I think we've scared the locals here in Sarasota quite enough for one weekend. But we'll be back, this place is amazing.

In other news I just got finished reading a new Mark Steyn piece that is well worth a few minutes of your time. He writes in regards to the relief efforts in the Tsunami affected areas, and the odd juxtaposition the great satan is once again involved in.

An excerpt-
The path of the tsunamis tracked the arc of the Muslim world, from Sumatra to Somalia; the most devastated country is the world's most populous Muslim nation, and the most devastated part of that country is the one province living under the strictures of sharia.

But, as usual, when disaster strikes it's the Great Satan and his various Little Satans who leap to respond. In the decade before September 11, the US military functioned, more or less exclusively, as a Muslim rapid reaction force – coming to the aid of Kuwaiti Muslims, Bosnian Muslims, Somali Muslims and Albanian Muslims. Since then, with the help of its Anglo-Australian allies, it's liberated 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.
......But one day the smarter lads in the Osama T-shirts will begin to wonder what they're getting in return for their glorification of a multimillionaire whose followers these days spend most of their time killing Muslims – in Iraq, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia, even in Indonesia. With friends like that, who needs tsunamis?

And if you want to read about the actual relief efforts from someone with boots on the ground, I will point again towards the Diplomadic who has some insightful commentary on how incredibly useless the UN is at this time. And as Roboto from Thursday Night Fever noted earlier, you will probably not read stuff like this in the New York Times.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Ki Jong-Il (The illmatics!) Journal Is Back!..........


And just in time. Latest news from North Korea via AP-

North Korea Issues Wartime Guidelines


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea has ordered its citizens to be ready for a protracted war against the United States, issuing guidelines on evacuating to underground bunkers with weapons, food and portraits of leader Kim Jong Il.

The 33-page ``Detailed Wartime Guidelines,'' published in South Korea's Kyunghyang newspaper on Wednesday and verified by Seoul, was issued April 7, 2004, at a time when the communist regime was claiming it was Washington's next target following the Iraq war.

The manual - the first such North Korean document made public in the outside world - was signed by Kim Jong Il in his capacity as chairman of the Central Military Committee of the ruling Workers' Party. That ended speculation over whether Kim has assumed the top military post following the 1994 death of his father, President Kim Il Sung.

And when one cruises over to Kim Jong-Il's livejournal, you can see he's been a very busy man. So busy that he apparently missed the results of the US elections. Let's observe his latest Instant messaging session with George Jr.-
Thursday, December 18th, 2003

Classic stuff. Click the link above for more IM sessions with the illmatic himself!

I'm off to sunny Florida for the weekend, and I'll try and post some from the beach. If I'm sober enough to type. Which is unlikely. Here is the view I planning on seeing for the the next three days-

I'll bring back pictures and try and post when I can. Have a good weekend everybody!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Jay Manifold Is Not An Amateur No Matter What He Writes in Your Comments.....


Jay Manifold, author of the always educational and informative A Voyage to Arcturus wrote in the comments in the post below that I improperly labeled him as a Professional astronomer, and if it offended the true professional astronomers out there, I apologize. But I disagree with Jay. He's certainly no amateur.

He may think he's all humble like, but you tell me how many amateur astronomers you know that could write such detailed proposals like the following-

A Modest Proposal for an Asteroid Warning System- Part I

Asteroid Detection, Again- (Proposal part II)

If you get through reading that and still think he's an amateur, than at least I got you to read his proposal! HA HA!!!!

Apparently the Posner editorial in the journal yesterday is making some waves, to which I say -GOOD. Rather have intellectual waves now than real tsunami waves in the future.

Posner posted it on his own blog, and the ChicagoBoyz are discussing it as well.

See if you can guess which comments at their sites are mine!

You get a free subscription to this weblog for the correct answer!!

Amateur, eh there Jay? Ya, right buddy..:)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Will the Tsunami Disaster Push Asteroid Mitigation Closer to a Resolution?


Let's frigging hope so. Today at lunch I read the Wall Street Journal and they had two editorials which discuss The Probability of Catastrophe......And the Economics of Disaster Management.

The first article was the one that for obvious reasons jumped out at me, especially because now you have a respected newspaper editorial discussing the Tunguska Impact and the probabilities of another asteroid impact on the earth, instead of just the occasional freaky blogger (nope, no denial around these parts folks), a current astronomer (A Voyage to Arcturus), or former astronauts from places such as the B612 Foundation.

The author of the editorial is one Richard A. Posner, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Not an astronaut, not a professor of Astronomy (that I'm aware of), just someone with an intelligent head on his shoulders who happens to agree with the rest of us that even though the odds of being killed by an asteroid are slim, it doesn't mean we're automatically safe. And as he argues in detail -the fact that a catastrophe is very unlikely to occur is not a rational justification for ignoring the risk of its occurrence.

Some excerpts from the editorial-

"The Indian Ocean tsunami illustrates a type of disaster to which policy makers pay too little attention -- a disaster that has a very low or unknown probability of occurring, but that if it does occur creates enormous losses. Great as the death toll, physical and emotional suffering of survivors, and property damage caused by the recent tsunami are, even greater losses could be inflicted by other disasters of low (but not negligible) or unknown probability.

The asteroid that exploded above Siberia in 1908 with the force of a hydrogen bomb might have killed millions of people had it exploded above a major city. Yet that asteroid was only about 200 feet in diameter, and a much larger one (among the thousands of dangerously large asteroids in orbits that intersect the earth's orbit) could strike the earth and cause the total extinction of the human race through a combination of shock waves, fire, tsunamis, and blockage of sunlight, wherever it struck."

Yeah, I've never heard THAT mentioned before. And neither have any of my friends, about, oh, 8 million times.

Mr. Posner continues-

"An even more dramatic example (of political support for incurring the costs of taking precautionary measures against low-probability disasters-ed.) concerns the asteroid menace, which is analytically similar to the menace of tsunamis. NASA, with an annual budget of more than $10 billion, spends only $4 million a year on mapping dangerously close large asteroids, and at that rate may not complete the task for another decade, even though such mapping is the key to an asteroid defense because it may give us years of warning. Deflecting an asteroid from its orbit when it is still millions of miles from the earth is a feasible undertaking. In both cases, slight risks of terrible disasters are largely ignored essentially for political reasons.

In part because tsunamis are one of the risks of an asteroid collision, the Indian Ocean disaster has stimulated new interest in asteroid defense. This is welcome. The fact that a disaster of a particular type has not occurred recently or even within human memory (or even ever) is a bad reason to ignore it. The risk may be slight, but if the consequences, should it materialize, are great enough, the expected cost of disaster may be sufficient to warrant defensive measures. "

Gary S. Becker, the 1992 Nobel laureate in economics, professor of economics at the University of Chicago and senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, pens the follow up to Mr Posners article with the following- . . . And the Economics of Disaster Management- also well worth the read.

Finally, I read some serious discussion of asteroid impacts, and in the Journal no less.

Perhaps one of the positive results from the Tsunami disaster will be a resurgence in the research behind preventing and surviving major natural-or man made- disasters. Because again- NASA, with an annual budget of more than $10 billion, spends only $4 million a year on mapping dangerously close large asteroids. THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.

Helloooooo 2005!!!..............adios 2004.......

...... up not working yet....ah yes, the joys of returning to work after an extended vacation. Simply marvelous. Thank Vishnu I didn't have to work yesterday, that would have been even worse.

This latest news brings me to a story read recently at the Australian by Don D'Cruz- Free Trade More Precious than Foreign Aid

An excerpt-

"Setting aside the emergency relief being rushed to tsunami survivors, which is vital and absolutely necessary, foreign aid has, in general, not been very effective. Indeed, if the aid industry's effectiveness was judged by its success in poverty alleviation, it would have been shut down years ago. . . .

Aid is only a part of the development picture. For instance, while ODA flows stand at about $US63 billion ($80.8 billion), foreign direct investment has in recent years been twice the level of aid flows. Even remittances from workers employed abroad are worth about $US80 billion to the developing world. Moreover, most capital accumulation comes from domestic sources rather than from abroad. Indeed, economic growth is largely about freeing up local equity and getting locals to invest locally.

The true insignificance of aid is revealed by the fact that trade contributes almost $US1.7 trillion to the developing world, making free trade an imperative – hence the emergence of the slogan "trade, not aid"."

I had spoken to a few friends over the weekend about the Tsunami, and most agreed that the best thing that can happen for the survivors in the area, once the immediate dangers have been safely overcome, is to see their tourism industries return to pre-disaster levels. Much like people from New York were telling others to come and spend money in New York after 9/11, the thing that will help out these regions the most is if more people come there and spend money. Someone stated they had seen a picture of a tourist tanning on a beach in Thailand somewhere while a corpse was in the background rotting away. I guess there is a time and place for everything, and I imagine my vacation would be cut short if I had planned on spending the New Years in the tsunami-devastated areas, and ideally would have been able to help in some way other than just sending money. But the point is that the one thing that the majority of these islands depend on to generate income is tourism. And once they get back on their feet, they need to get people to come back.

The Instapundit continues on the Australian piece and tags along a supporting article by Jim Klauder at the San Francisco Chronicle- Ignorance Shrouds Capitalism's Profound Impact on Reducing Poverty-

An excerpt-

"One big reason people in more advanced societies are able to enjoy a more comfortable existence is that they are able to purchase items by going into debt. Americans take that for granted. Any person living in absolute poverty would love to trade positions with any one of us and walk in our shoes -- to have a job and be able to borrow money for a car or a home.

It's a shame that America's youth do not understand these basic economic concepts. If they did, they'd be less inclined to join globalization protests because they would understand why the economies of China and India grew by 8.8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, last year.

In fact, the recent success of developing countries at fighting poverty could be an Economics 101 lesson for today's American classroom. In East Asia and the Pacific region alone, the number of poor dropped from 472 million in 1990 to 271 million in 2001. By 2015, that number should shrink to 19 million, according to the World Bank.

The bank predicts that the total number of those living in poverty will be halved between 1990 and 2015. Globally, that means that those living on $1 per day or less would drop from 1.2 billion in 1990 to 622 million in 2015.

It is undeniable that 2004 was a great year for the poor. The World Bank's prediction that global poverty will continue plummeting is particularly encouraging. But if we are ever to wipe poverty from the face of the Earth, our next generation of leaders must first understand what makes the global economy tick -- the fundamental relationship between free trade and economic growth."

So, perhaps next year for the holidays I plan a trip to Thailand? Maybe a jaunt down to Sri Lanka? How about a visit to Malaysia? Sounds like it could be fun. And as has been shown previously, you can do you part to help the economy there by well, spending your money!!

Happy New Year Everybody!!!