Wednesday, October 31, 2007

 

Law Of The Sea Treaty

LOST, as in American sovereignty LOST

Senator James Inhofe:
What if I were to tell you that at this very moment in the halls of the Senate, legislation is being considered that will govern 70 percent of the earth's surface, threaten the very sovereignty of our country and, worse, without the efforts of a select few, would have become law years ago? What if I added that our enemies are waiting in the wings for us to make this historic blunder by accepting legislation that effectively cedes our autonomy to international organizations such as the United Nations?

If you are of the small percentage of Americans who has heard of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, or simply the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), I congratulate you on being ahead of the curve. If you have not heard of LOST, you soon will, as we are gearing up in the Senate for a fight against one of the most far-reaching international challenges to American sovereignty we have ever faced.
Its a fight treaty opponents must win. The Senate absolutely must reject the Law of the Sea Treaty. We should have quit the UN and expelled it years ago. At the very least we should be undermining the UN rather than ceding ever more US sovereignty to it.

Bye the way, all GOP presidential candidates oppose it.

 

Rewriting The Past

Turner Classics Movies devoted last night's programming to films credited to members of the Hollywood Ten. Spencer Warren notes:
The story given over and over again on Turner, and which is beloved of left-wing Hollywood (which also is commemorating the anniversary), is that the Ten were innocent progressives deprived of their constitutional rights at the behest of right-wingers, their careers and lives destroyed. But this is only part of the truth. For years its host, Robert Osborne, and its website have repeatedly dismissed the Communist threat of the 1940’s and ‘50s. True, the blacklist was a poisonous period. Many hundreds of innocent people–-including those who had joined the Communist Party of the USA only briefly--were victimized by informers, and their careers and lives were ruined or severely damaged. Let us complete the story, however. Most of the Ten were members-–in secret--of the CPUSA, while a few had been members in the past and only briefly. For the staunch CPUSA members in particular, this meant they were part of a secret conspiracy pledged to the overthrow of our constitutional democracy by a Communist dictatorship. Further, as we now know from Communist archives in Moscow that were declassified after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 (including the archives of the CPUSA located there), as well as the declassified Venona records resulting from our breaking of Soviet codes, the CPUSA was directly funded and obedient to Joseph Stalin’s Moscow. The CPUSA was a devoted promoter of Soviet propaganda and an eager participant in Soviet espionage.
(Via Powerline.)

How despicable. Warren aptly references Orwell's famous quote:
"He who controls the past commands the future. He who commands the future conquers the past."
Soviet propaganda efforts were remarkably successful. Particularly their efforts at indoctrinating our elites in the ideology Eric Raymond termed Suicidalism, something which is imperiling our fight against Islamo-facism:
The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West’s will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all.

But al-Qaeda didn’t create the ugly streak of nihilism and self-loathing that afflicts too many Western intellectuals. Nor, I believe, is it a natural development. It was brought to us by Department V of the KGB, which was charged during the Cold War with conducting memetic warfare that would destroy the will of the West’s intelligentsia to resist a Communist takeover. This they did with such magnificent effect that the infection outlasted the Soviet Union itself and remains a pervasive disease of contemporary Western intellectual life.
Our next President must be willing to combat the Suicidalism infecting our political and media elite.

 

Rudy Giuliani

Mideast's Worst Nightmare?

So says Linda S. Heard in what Jack M labels "The Most Compelling Case for electing Giuliani I've ever seen." One commenter wonders if Heard is actively trying to win Giuliani the nomination. I sure like what I see:
Giuliani makes no bones about the fact he would use military force to set-back Iran's nuclear programme. In September, he promised to use America's military might to prevent Iran pursuing its nuclear ambitions should he be elected president.

His senior foreign policy adviser Norman Podhoretz has spelled out this message, advising that Iran be bombed with cruise missiles and bunker busters. "None of the alternatives to military action - negotiations, sanctions, provoking an internal insurrection - can possibly work," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Giuliani is talking tough when it comes to Pakistan, too. He recently urged the president to be more aggressive in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden within Pakistan even if such a move would result in alienating the Pakistani government.

On Iraq, Giuliani has been consistently gung ho. He supported the war from the outset, backed the so-called surge and believes American troops should stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
She laments that Giuliani rejected $10 million from that big mouthed Saudi prince and banned Yasser Arafat from attending events held in New York to celebrate the UN's 50th anniversary. "We can only stand by helplessly as the American people decide their fate and ours," she frets, hoping we Americans make the right choice this time.

As do I.

The Liberal elite and Leftish foreign media people like Heard are a huge obstacle in the long struggle we face against Islamo-Fascism, Updating something I said previously, the longer liberalism predominates our political culture, the less likely it is we will defeat our Islamo-Fascist enemies. As such, the willingness to effectively combat prevailing liberal orthodoxy among our political and media elite is a trait a President must possess. A President who can't or won't do this cannot effectively prosecute the war or secure our borders, which are the most important issues for me.

John Podhoretz summarizes why the articulate Giuliani appears to be best at this among the Republican contenders:
But more than any other candidate in the race, Rudy Giuliani is a liberal-slayer. When he rejects liberal orthodoxy, which he does often, he doesn't just oppose it. He goes to war with it - total, unconditional war.

He spent his political career chewing up liberal orthodoxy and spitting it out - and I think that somehow, in some way, voters in Oklahoma and Kansas get that about him even without knowing the specifics.

His success in turning New York around wasn't merely a matter of changing policies. He had to sustain those policies when they came under deliberate, systematic and unrelenting assault by the city's liberal elite.
I also, via The Corner, liked this from Giuliani about McCain-Feingold campaign finance law:
The concept made sense to me. Now that I see it play out in a couple of elections, I think it was a mistake. We should get much closer to being able to allow people to -- to realize their rights of free speech in the way in which they get involved in campaigns, make contributions to campaigns. I think these 527s have just -- I think McCain -- the end result of McCain-Feingold is not that the power of money has been lessened in politics. In some ways the power of money has been increased in politics, so I think it had an unintended consequence and we should go back and reform it, take out some of the abuses and probably get closer to recognizing people's rights of free speech. So I think ultimately it hasn't worked, and I do not in any way say that in any way to blame it on Senator McCain. I think he passed it in absolute good faith thinking he was straightening out a problem. I think lots of other people supported it, including me. I think, though, it's like, you know, you say does this balance in running something, running a government or an Army or anything else, sometimes the things you think are going to go right go wrong and you got to go change them. And then sometimes they go – they go right and you stick with them.
A number of bloggers believe that its down to a two man race between Giuliani and Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. As I'm not yet sold on Giuliani, this is certainly true for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

 

Lions for Lambs plugged by...

...Blogger David Atkins of the Daily Kos! I kid you not. That is in the ad for the film that is playing right now. I just happened to catch the DK part and, thanks to Tivo, caught this on tape. (Now if I could only transfer videos from Tivo to my PC.) The end of the ad for this movie are the usual "Extraordinary" and "Must See" and both of these endorsements come from this same Daily Kos diarist.

I guess they know their target audience. Here is his bio:

Atkins is president and founder of The Pollux Group, Inc., a qualitative research consultancy specializing in emerging technologies and the changing trends in consumer and socio-political behavior created by the Millennial Generation. A lifelong resident of Los Angeles, he has served as advisor and consultant to corporate and political clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to congressional campaigns. Posting under the name thereisnospoon, Atkins is currently a frontpage editor at MyLeftWing and former editor at Booman Tribune, in addition to contributing regularly at DailyKos on framing and other issues. He is also a co-founder of Political Nexus, a Netroots Radio blog featuring a variety of Internet radio shows using the blogtalkradio platform, including topical policy discussions and interviews with important Netroots figures. [Emphasis added.]


Framing, as in spinning facts in order to look more favorably on a point of view, which explains why he likes this movie.

Update:

We have been Hot Airtapulted and LGFalaunched giving us our biggest number of hits since we started. Unfortunately I did catch this until I got a call from John O waking me from my mid-afternoon nap. All the usual blather about please check out the rest of this site, better yet, I am going to put up my bank routing number so you can just send me money.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

 

What's In A Name?

My girlfriend's 11 year old daughter has begun learning Spanish at a public school in suburban Chicago. Her name doesn't translate into Spanish, but her teacher told her that she and any of her classmates can, if they wish, choose a Spanish name for use in the classroom. Along with many of her classmates, she was excited at the prospect of affecting a Spanish (identity?) name. Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I think there is something wrong with this. Comments?

 

Mike Mette

Self-defense is, inexplicably, no defense

Two years ago Mike Mette, an off duty Chicago police officer visiting his brother in Dubuque, Iowa, was under assault. John Kass comments:
So Mike did what anyone would do. He threw a punch. One punch. The victim went down. Unconscious. There was no testimony that he did anything other than throw that one punch. Prosecutors spinning their local paper talk about the victim being kicked, but even the victim's friend wouldn't testify to that. The victim was released from the hospital four days later. A month went by, and Mike was charged with assault causing serious injury, which carries a mandatory five-year term
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald (my emphasis) reports:
A brief filed Sept. 19 with the court by Mette's attorney disputes Ackley's ruling, stating the trial court erred in rejecting Mette's defense of self-defense and erred in finding Jake Gothard suffered serious injury.

The seriousness of the injury and Mette's failure to avoid the fight effectively necessitated Mette be charged with a class D felony and mandated that Ackley hand down a five-year sentence, Dubuque County law enforcement officials say.

Ackley stated in her ruling, "What the defendant failed to do, however, was to retreat from the house or walk away and call the police about the disturbance."

Mette disputes the seriousness of Gothard's injuries, and his supporters insist Gothard's heavy intoxication level should be taken into account.

Gothard suffered a broken cheekbone, multiple fractures to his nose and a broken jaw, according to court records. He had multiple hemorrhages on the brain. He had bruising on both buttocks and the sides of his arms and on his ribs, and he had lacerations to his face and head.

"The emergency-room physician, who was board certified, testified that these injuries would not have resulted from one blow," Dubuque County Attorney Ralph Potter wrote in a pointed defense of the case's prosecution. "The defendant's expert witness disputed that finding, while acknowledging that some of the bruising was consistent with "defensive" injuries."

In court documents, Ackley wrote, "Looking at what the ER doctor faced when Jake was presented, serious injury existed as it was likely that without further treatment Jake was at risk of dying." But she also said, "Once the defendant was transferred to an appropriate trauma-level hospital, it was determined that Jake's injuries were not as extensive as first believed."
The article quotes Mette:
"Here's the thing. If you're attacked and a guy is in the process of hitting you, how do you turn your back? You're just going to put yourself in a worse situation."
He's absolutely right. Eugene Volokh has more:
Gothard had a blood alcohol level of .270 when he got to the hospital. The judge agreed that Gothard and a friend of his were going after Mette and five of his friends, outside of Mette's house. The judge agreed that "It was reasonable under the circumstances to believe that harm might come to [Mette or his friends]." Mette and his friends were not the aggressors. (They may have behaved badly in one respect, which is by taking Gothard's cell phone out of his hand and leaving it in Jake's mailbox, but the judge didn't seem to conclude that this was what made Mette's later actions unjustified.) The evidence the judge related seemed to say, without contradiction, that Mette had hit Gothard only once, and that Gothard had just "pushed [Mette] at least two times, maybe three."

Yet the judge convicted Mette (who had opted for a trial without a jury) simply because "the defendant failed ... to retreat ... or walk away and call the police about the disturbance. Because of his failure to take these steps, the court cannot find that the self-defense justification is available to permit the striking of [Gothard]."

That seems to me wrong: Mette should not have been under a legal obligation to either (1) leave the street where he had every right to be, or (2) surrender the right to self-defense if he didn't leave the street. Perhaps the result should be different when one is using lethal force, though I'm not sure; and I realize that even seemingly nonlethal punches can end up being lethal (or can end up escalating a fight into something more lethal). But on balance, it seems right that the duty to retreat has been almost everywhere rejected as to nonlethal force: It in effects allows bullies far too much legal authority to constrain people's freedom.
It sure does.

 

The Videos I Mentioned Yesterday

Internet Stars Are Viral:



Clever, though many things in it are outside my frame of reference.

This one made me chuckle:



(Via The Corner and Ace, respectively.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

 

Young Catholics turn to Latin mass

For a while I have believed that Generations X and Y would be more conservative than the baby boomers for the simple reason that the two succeeding generations have had to deal with the aftermath of licentiousness that was the zeitgeist of the late 60's and early 70's. A return to tradition is part of this.

Young Roman Catholics in the United States are turning to the Tridentine mass, the Latin ritual used by the church before Vatican II.

"I love the Latin mass," Audrey Kunkel, 20, of Cincinnati told The Washington Times. "It's amazing to think that I"m attending the same mass that has formed saints throughout the centuries."


It is a credit to the Catholic church to have seen this need for ties to the past. After the weakening of bedrock institutions like marriage it is natural for the next generation to seek healing in the forms of their grandparents.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

 

Corruption In Chicago

Business as usual

According to Mayor Daley, this is "not a sweetheart deal:"
...developer Thomas DiPiazza and a partner bought the highly contaminated 1.8-acre parcel at the juncture of the river's South Branch and a tributary known as Bubbly Creek for $50,000 in 1998. The city paid 24 times that in 2004 when it bought the land for a park, which still has not been built.
The Sun-Times notes:
Daley could not explain why the purchase price paid by the city was not based on the land's industrial zoning designation at the time. Instead, the appraisal assumed that the land was zoned for residential use.
I can explain why in one word: corruption. Consider this:
The Tribune reported that Bridgeport Village, a single-family home project bordering the waterway for which DiPiazza was a highly paid consultant, also benefited from the city pricing policy. City Hall paid a price for the DiPiazza land based on residential zoning even though it was zoned for industry, but the city-owned land for Bridgeport Village was sold to its developers based on its then-industrial zoning.

DiPiazza, a former city sewer worker who has participated in real estate deals with mayoral associate Fred Barbara, has declined to discuss the sale of the park site. His lawyer contends the city paid a fair price for the land and that it is "silliness" to suggest that DiPiazza was helped by political connections.
It seems the city takes the worst of it in every financial transaction it makes, with one exception -- tax collection.

 

On the Border



To the left, the U.S. (El Paso, TX), to the right, Juarez, Mexico.

This picture was taken while walking across the bridge coming back from a morning spent in Juarez. Walking was the better choice. The line of cars waiting to get into the U.S was long though driving was not really an option anyway. I had a rental car for the day but basic insurance does not cover Mexico and I'm not sure the rental companies even allow it.

Below is a photo of Guadalupe Mission, on the left is the adobe structure built in the 1660's and to the right is a more modern structure.


Here is a peek inside:



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

 

Star Wars Musical

This made me chuckle:



(h/t Zach)

 

Duke, Jena, National Gaurd

From WSJ Opinion Journal via Instapundit regarding media reporting on the 'Jena 6' and the similarities to other reports on the Duke non rape case and CBS' Bush hoax.

"The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong." This is reminiscent of the "fake but accurate" defense of CBS's Bush National Guard hoax. If Thomas were giving a plainer account of what happened, he would have said something like this: Our reporting was guided by our prejudices, and even though the story turned out to be false, we stand behind our prejudices.
What a great description of MSM standards.

 

Undergound

These pictures were taken at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Since I had a pretty basic digital camera I could not get a picture that could do justice to the beauty of the cave. The lighting just wasn't there. You can see some professional photos here if you like. Many of the formations reminded me of some Yes album artwork done by Roger Dean.

The walk down into the cave was a mile long paved path with railings. All along the way you could see nature's sculptures like the ones below. There were some shortcuts at different points, I wound up passing some people two and three times so they were either taking stairs or the elevator.












Tuesday, October 23, 2007

 

Changing History

Altering history is a bad idea. Teaching less than the truth is leaving children ill equipped to handle the future.

From Yahoo news: Japan revises history texts:

The history of coerced suicides during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the bloodiest of the Pacific war, is familiar to every Japanese high school student from nationally approved textbooks. But that could change: this past spring the government said that it had ordered textbook revisions to indicate that some Okinawans committed suicide or were forced to commit mass suicide, but not 'by whom.' ........

For Miyahira, whose brothers and relatives killed themselves, the memory of what happened after she was captured by US soldiers as she fled the bombing undergirds her opposition to any textbook revision. "When Americans offered us something good to eat, I was finally able to think of many of my family members who committed mass suicide," she recalls. "I could not bear it."

Monday, October 22, 2007

 

Top of Texas



At about 8,700 feet elevation you will find this structure marking the highest point in the state of Texas. The hike to get there was a little over 4 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation. That was a bit much in the thin air, or maybe I am getting old. I like to think it was the thin air!


The grade was steep most of the way but the scenery and its changes were nice. Winding along the trail you were in desert terrain at one point and then right around a bend you were in the shaded side and in the trees. It was a welcome contrast.





Sunday, October 21, 2007

 

Top Building

I have been bad about doing my market homework lately which is partly to blame on the fact that I did not have any clear picture of what the market was doing. I was confident that the Dow would take out its old highs but after that, I did not know. Right now the market is looking to crater and by right now I mean tomorrow. Not really a great deal of market timing magic here considering the U.S. futures markets and Asian stocks aren't liking what happened on Wall Street last week.

I still don't have a terribly clear picture other than we are doing some top building. (My big problem is that the rally off the August 16th low of 12,518 looks to be a three waves. So we are still in a correction which will end and then on to new highs.) What this means is that the high might not be in but it is getting close. IOW, as long as we stay above Dow 12,000 then you can safely bet that stocks will have their election year rally. On that note, here is some data which should scare any economist worth his salt. Consumer debt problems are spreading beyond mortgage defaults.

“What started out merely as a subprime problem has expanded more broadly in the mortgage space and problems are getting worse at a faster pace than many had expected,” said Michael Mayo, Deutsche Bank analyst.

“On top of this, there is an uptick in auto loan problems, which may or may not be seasonal, and there is more body language from the banks that the state of the consumer was somewhat less strong [than thought].”


If the credit crunch is not contained and consumer spending suffers then this slow moving recession might be worse than anyone believes.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

 

Is Hillary Clinton The Least-Bad Of The Democrats?

No.

Tigerhawk writes:
The idea that Hillary may be the least-bad Democrat for Republicans who care most about foreign policy has widespread currency on the right, even if it is painful to acknowledge.
He cites Reason Magazine's Randy Balko:
Cato Institute President Ed Crane recently wrote a piece for the Financial Times pointing out that when you strip away the partisan coating, Mrs. Clinton's grandiose, big-government vision is really no different than that envisioned by the neoconservatives so loathed by the left. Clinton, remember, not only voted for the Iraq war, she still hasn't conceded she was wrong to do so, and has made no promise to end it any time soon.

In fact, the L.A. Times reported last week that Clinton has refused to commit even to pulling U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, which, if elected, would be the end of her first term. TV journalist Ted Koppel recently told NPR that Clinton has admitted the U.S. would still have troops in Iraq at the end of her second term.

The 1990s, remember, weren't exactly a decade of peace. Bill Clinton ordered more U.S. military interventions than any other post-WWII administration, and there's no reason to think any of them were over Hillary's protestations. She supported the U.S. military campaigns in Haiti, Kosovo, and Bosnia. She once boasted that as the tension in Kosovo mounted, she called her husband from her trip to Africa and, "I urged him to bomb."

Hillary Clinton voted for both the Patriot Act and its reauthorization. She voted for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. She voted to loosen restrictions limiting the federal government's ability to wiretap cell phones.
Regarding foreign policy, Hillary is definitely the furthest to the right among the Democratic contenders. As President, I'm sure Hillary would pursue foreign policy goals similar to those of her husband.

The problem with a Hillary Presidency lies in the future. As with all the Democratic contenders, she has a long term agenda with grave ramifications for future presidents and the long term interests of America. As I see it, she is among the group of Americans Gerard Baker refers to here:
There’s another, more important aspect to the world’s affection for those in America who are most critical of it. The Americans who win global approbation in Oslo or at the UN are not simply critics of current American policy. They want to construct an international system that will for ever prevent the US from pursuing its own objectives, a system designed to dilute, counterbalance and constrain America’s ability to govern itself. They prefer a world in which American democracy is subordinated to a kind of global government, rule by a global elite, tasked to make decisions on everyone’s behalf in the name of multilateralism.

Al Gore wants the US to give up its economic autonomy and submit to rule by binding international obligations to curb its carbon emissions. Some of the Democratic candidates for the presidency want to tie down the American Gulliver under a web of global treaties. The British Government, if recent speeches by ministers are to be believed, is now apparently seriously committed to the idea that only the UN has the legitimacy to determine how nations should behave. In other words, that a system that gives vetoes to China and Russia and honours the human rights contributions of countries such as Syria or North Korea should be accorded a full role in the promotion of the dignity of mankind.

There’s a larger irony in all this. Even as the US demonstrates the openness of its own society, its unrivaled capacity for self-examination and self-correction, a free system based on the absolute authority of the rule of law, it is told it must submit itself to the views of Moscow, Beijing, and Brussels.

Fortunately, while the American system may be forgivingly tolerant of people with wild and dangerous ideas, it doesn’t generally let them run the country.
But on January 20, 2009, we may very well have a Democratic President. And the reason I think Hillary is the worst of the Democratic contenders is that she'd be the most effective in accomplishing her goals. She would cede as much American power and freedom of action as possible to international institutions, particularly the UN her husband aspires (perhaps with her help?) one day to lead. (Just imagine the nightmare our country would face if her successor was confronted with Bill Clinton as Secretary-General of a newly empowered UN, especially if he/she was a Republican.) One way or another Hillary's legacy will be the diminished ability of future Presidents to protect American interests and the ever greater intrusion of foreign institutions into American life.

Friday, October 19, 2007

 

Sick Season

This report via Yahoo News suggests that the flu virus is more active in the colder weather because of its ability to survive in less humid conditions.

When we cough or sneeze, tiny droplets of water enter the air and hang around until they drop to the ground—or an unsuspecting passerby breathes them in. Once inside our airways, any flu viruses that have hitched a ride on the droplets can launch an attack.

"We found that the flu's transmission period is much, much longer when temperatures and humidity levels are low," (Peter) Palese told LiveScience.

He thinks that the conditions not only suck away the droplet's water weight, allowing them to float in the air longer, but also dry out virus-blocking mucous and cells in our airways. Bigger viral doses combined with the body's disabled means to flush them out, Palese said, gives the flu a better fighting chance to infect
a person
, regardless of their immune system's strength.

I've been pretty good at avoiding the flu in my lifetime but catching a cold is a different story. It does not seem to matter what I do, I get something once a month in the cold months from November through March. Usually not severe but enough ruin a weekend if that is when I feel it.

I have given much thought to this but still have not been able to make a difference by changing my diet or habits. I would estimate that in about 12 of the last 15 years I've had a cold in the last two weeks of November. I can't figure out why that is but I know that it will happen. It always does around Thanksgiving and before December starts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

 

Online Poker Scandals

Sending the right message

After issuing various denials for more than a month, Absolute Poker has finally acknowledged the obvious:
It is every online poker room's worst nightmare - a security breach from within that compromises integrity, chases away your high stakes players, and erodes your greatest commodity, trust. Responding to that nightmare, however, determines whether you stay in business or disappear without a trace. For the past week it looked like Absolute Poker was going to need Anthony LaPaglia to find them, but today they have done the old 180 degree turnaround.

Now they're saying "hi, we're Absolute Poker and we have a problem", and moreover they're admitting that they need help to fix that problem. Thanks to some igenious and frighteningly clever detective work by several online poker players (Nat Arem and Todd Witteles chief amongst them) the fact that there was a cheater was conclusively established. In fact, they may have even found the identity of the crook, as former Absolute CEO, Scott Tom is now under investigation.

I felt that it wasn't some lowly customer service employee, but rather someone high up, and I'm just happy to learn that it wasn't Mark Seif! There is evidence that Tom might be implicated in all this, including email addresses, IP tracing, and a good deal of other information that has been posted on various online poker forums.
A player who felt he'd been cheated during a AP $1k tournament requested hand histories for the tournament from AP. More details are here.

From deep into the tournament, a sample hand :
Stage #896976330 Tourney ID 1883389 Holdem Multi Normal Tournament No Limit $4500 - 2007-09-13 01:43:49 (ET)
Table: 14 (Real Money) Seat #3 is the dealer
Seat 3 - POTRIPPER ($765740 in chips)
Seat 8 - CRAZYMARCO ($214260 in chips)
POTRIPPER - Ante $450
CRAZYMARCO - Ante $450
POTRIPPER - Posts small blind $2250
CRAZYMARCO - Posts big blind $4500
*** POCKET CARDS ***
POTRIPPER - Calls $2250
CRAZYMARCO - Checks
*** FLOP *** [4h Kd Kh]
CRAZYMARCO - Checks
POTRIPPER - Bets $9000
CRAZYMARCO - Calls $9000
*** TURN *** [4h Kd Kh] [7s]
CRAZYMARCO - Checks
POTRIPPER - Bets $13500
CRAZYMARCO - All-In(Raise) $200310 to $200310
POTRIPPER - Calls $186810
*** RIVER *** [4h Kd Kh 7s] [5s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
POTRIPPER - Shows [10c 9c] (One pair, kings)
CRAZYMARCO - Shows [9h 2h] (One pair, kings)

POTRIPPER Collects $428520 from main pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total Pot($428520)
Board [4h Kd Kh 7s 5s]
Seat 3: POTRIPPER (dealer) (small blind) won Total ($428520) HI:($428520) with One pair, kings(ten kicker) [10c 9c - B:Kh,B:Kd,P:10c,P:9c,B:7s]
Seat 8: CRAZYMARCO (big blind) HI:lost with One pair, kings [9h 2h - B:Kh,B:Kd,P:9h,B:7s,B:5s]

When most of the money went into the pot - on the turn - Potripper called with an exceptionally poor hand. In fact, his opponent happened to have one of the very few hands that Potripper could beat.
POTRIPPER could only make this call if he knew exactly what his opponent held. There is no other explanation.

Twenty-six other hands are analyzed here. A 2+2 forum on the matter is here.

Absolute Poker's integrity has been destroyed. I've played there before, but never again. I hope their business collapses.

Poker Stars, one of the sites I frequent, had its own scandal this month. A professional player, using multiple accounts simultaneously during the WSOOP tournament, won $1 million:
Just look at Poker Stars and how they handled The V0id and his multi-account playing during the WCOOP. Granted that isn't as serious as a player being able to see hole cards, but nevertheless Poker Stars looked into the matter and discovered that there were activities going on that were against the rules. They dealt with the problem swiftly by disqualifying The V0id and seizing his $1 million in prize money and redistributing it to the proper winners.
The proper response.

I have played hundreds of thousands of medium stakes hands at multiple online poker rooms, both in tournaments and cash games. I've been a consistent winner and have never once suspected that I was cheated. I believe cheating to be exceedingly rare -- it just isn't really worthwhile. These latest scandals haven't changed my mind.

I thought I'd include a link to poker legend Doyle Brunson's best hand:
"I was twenty-four or twenty-five years old at that point and still kind of new," Brunson says. "Johnny Moss was the best. He and I were really fierce competitors from the beginning because I think he recognized that I was going to be the next top player, so he tried especially hard against me.

"Johnny had a lot more money than I had, so Johnny could money-whip me. He could make situations where it was hard for me to call because he had so much money and I didn't have that much.

"This was a cash game in Texas. There weren't any tournaments in those days. The guy in the first seat made a small bet about the size of the pot. Johnny Moss called it. I had a J-10."

The flop came K-7-8. Brunson thought Moss was drawing at a straight. The turn came a 2, and everybody checked. The river came a 3.

"The first guy checked and Moss made some kind of real big bet, and I thought to myself he was drawing at a straight and he missed it and he thinks he's going to win this pot. I called with just the jack-high. The other guy paired kings and threw that away. Johnny was drawing at a small straight.

"That was my greatest hand because I think that kind of defined the moment that I became what I knew was a real top player."
(h/t Bill O)

 

Ellen DeGeneres and Iggy the Dog

So, as I understand it, Ellen adopted a dog (Iggy) from a shelter (Mutts & Moms) but when Iggy couldn't get along with her cats she decided to give Iggy to her hair dresser. When Ellen adopted Iggy she signed a contract that (likely?) required her give Iggy back to Mutts first if there was a problem. So when Mutts called to see how Iggy was doing and found Iggy was with the hair dresser they took Iggy back.

I understand why Mutts would retain the right to do this. They want to make sure the dog gets a good home and is not just kicked out somewhere undesirable. But this seems to be more about power than care for dogs to me.

I'm no big fan of Ellen as an entertainer but this should be about care for animals. If Mutts thought her a good fit for Iggy why wouldn't they trust her judgement in finding an alternative? And what is wrong with the hair dresser? There might be good answers to those questions. Without a reply from Mutts I'm inclined to think they just want the power to get to decide where Iggy goes. It seems the easiest solution would have been to evaluate the hair dresser and leave the situation alone unless there was a problem.

UPDATE: A representative from Mutts & Moms was on the O'Reilly Factor last night and said that they did give the hair dresser an opportunity to fill out some paperwork and keep Iggy. In his opinion Ellen displayed typical Hollywood arrogance and ignored the request and instead suggested legal action if Mutts tried to take Iggy back.

I still don't like Mutts' getting involved if they thought Ellen was a responsible pet owner in the first place but if they did give Ellen and the hair dresser an opportunity to simply fill out paperwork to solve the problem then that changes things in my mind. Ellen's cry episode does not seem honest in light of this.

 

Swearing at Work

From Yahoo news: "Regular swearing at work can help boost team spirit among staff, allowing them to express better their feelings as well as develop social relationships, according to a study by researchers."

I remember one of the first temp jobs I had out of college when I had to do some simple data entry into a spread sheet for a consulting firm. After working all morning inputting data the network crashed. The project manager who hired me came over to my computer, then called in their tech guy. When the tech guy told him all the work was lost (and precious time wasted) the manager went off on a tirade filled with fine quality swear words, directed at no one though so he was not blaming anybody.

That tirade made me feel good about being in that office and made me more aware of what the real world was like. These people didn't care if my tie was on straight or what I was doing after work. They just wanted you to do the work. I knew I could handle that and that made me feel much more at ease.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

 

Atlas Shrugged at 50

Captain Ed missed the point.

Kelley notes that even Rand saw the "producer's strike" at the end of the novel as a fantasy sequence. In one sense, it was even contradictory, since it involved organizing for the good of a group (the producers) and not of the individuals, a contradiction that few note. However, it has unfortunate echoes in history, of groups that run off to the mountains to bide their time and deliver the next revolution in human society. The Islamists do that now, and even Charles Manson tried something similar. The notion that all of human enterprise would crash to a halt awaiting the gurus of capitalism/hippieness/Mohammed is at once a staggeringly arrogant and completely unconstructive notion. Changing human behavior requires engagement, not taking one's ball and going home.


First, if you haven't read Atlas Shrugged, Spoiler Alert!

John Galt spends a good part of the novel running around to all the worlds most productive people convincing them to give up producing in the wider world and to join the rest of the strikers in a place where their production will not be confiscated. The ones that join him freely chose to do so for their benefit because the looters are taking from the productive. Captain Ed missed the point of the strike. It was to avoid being robbed. When you are being robbed you have two choices: continue giving or run away from the robber. (Of course you can chose to fight but it is assumed in the novel that it would be suicide to wage war against the whole world. Better to just let them try and muddle through without anyone to leach off of.)

I am left scratching my head at the comparison of the strikers in AS to radical Islamists and the Manson family. The strikers are removing themselves and their property from the world because they don't believe those who are left will be able to survive without the productive class. This isn't a violent act other than the destruction of their own property which can hardly be called violent against anyone else other than themselves.

Changing someone's bad behavior is not the responsibility of any individual. That is an important message. There is no individual responsibility to sacrifice yourself for another. In fact, it is immoral to expect this sacrifice. A lot of conservatives don't get this about Objectivism, Rand's philosophy. Her radical individualism flies in the face of all religious traditions which makes for a discomfort among collectivists on the right and left. It is not popular to defend the most productive members of our society. As a commenter on CQ said:

Would you like to take the Star Trek Challenge? Name an item of popular culture that has anything good and hopeful to say about science, technology and the future of humanity. If you can answer with anything but "Star Trek", you win.

No one's won yet. Ayn Rand's works are in a similar position regarding Capitalism. They aren't much, but they're all we've got.



That is where I would put Captain Ed's critique and it is the reason there is no small amount of conflict between libertarian leaning and religious conservatives.

All I can say it vive la difference.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

 

Andy McKee: The Art of Motion.

As inspirational as Paul Potts, at least to me. What I aspired to when I was learning to play guitar this guy gives Esteban a run for his money. (Via LGF.)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

 

Fake UFO Hobbyist Scares People for Fun

Come one Bill, you must admit this is much more fun than a helicopter.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

 

Johnny Rotten, conservative

Either Dee is going to be really disappointed or I have a new found respect for him. Maybe he was just hiding his true colors behind a patine of anarchy. Who knew?

Johnny Rotten might be the most honest person in music -- unafraid of saying things that send the left into epileptic seizures. Don't get him started on Nelson Mandela, in Rotten's mind a terrorizing thug romanticized by the ignorant left and glamorized by a stint in jail. He said as much on a British talk show, and it got him banned for years, he tells me. To him, Mandela is only equaled in idiocy by Bono, who Rotten believes has done nothing to help the poor in Africa -- those starving millions he keeps soliciting money for. "All I ask is, where is the money! It's a bloody simple question! Bono has done no good."


ROTTEN HATES EVERYTHING intellectually lazy, from the fat and stupid editors at Rolling Stone to the Hollywood liberals he encounters everyday back in his Venice Beach community. "You wouldn't believe the idiocy," he tells me on his umpteenth beer or vodka drink. "Imagine me at a parent/teacher conference trying to explain to them how to speak proper bloody English!"

How can I not admire a man who believes Americans are the most honest people in the world, and America is the greatest place to live (I am almost positive he said that, but I was drunk). He's lived here now for 30 years, and has no intention of leaving. Truly a Yank -- he prefers Steve Miller over Sting.

And he also believes, like me, that the real cause of terror is not religion, but lack of fun. These nutty extremists just need a more active social life. He wanted the Sex Pistols to play in Iraq, not just to troops, but to the people of Iraq. "I don't care if they hate us, but we have to do it. But no one would sponsor us. Not even Rolling Stone." Rotten may be the only rock legend who understands the threat of Islamofascism and is willing to go there and face it, without security and not behind a barbed wire fence. You don't hear Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen volunteering to do the same. And you never hear your basic sensitive and outspoken Hollywood celebrity -- the ones mouthing off about Bush and right-wing religious nuts -- speaking out against the way gays and women are treated in Islamic countries. Because they're cowards. Rotten isn't. He wants to change the world, despite having done a lot of that already.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

 

Taxes & Lies In Chicago

Mayor Daley has proposed the the largest property tax hike in the Chicago history along with tax increases on liquor, parking, telephone service, city stickers, bottled water, auto leases and DVD rentals, a total tax hike of $293 million. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley doesn't think that a tax hike is necessary:
The issue is the $400 million a year in property taxes that the city collects and spends from tax increment financing districts, sometimes known as TIFs.

This is money that has been siphoned off from much of the new development you have seen going up around the city in the past two decades.

Instead of flowing though the normal channels, where the money would be split among the city, Board of Education, Park District, City Colleges and Cook County, the city gets to keep the TIF funds in a separate pile that can be spent at the mayor's direction and without even showing up in the city's budget.

The money goes for a variety of purposes, some undoubtedly worthwhile, some questionable. Much of the money goes toward subsidies for the developers within the ever-expanding TIF districts.
Ben Joravsky, who has written a series of stories on TIFs (the latest one on how an $8 million affordable-housing subsidy cost taxpayers $75 million) explains how TIFs work and how the local government lies about it:
The inaccurate bills are sent to people who own property in TIF districts. (Presumably people who don't live in a TIF are getting accurate bills.) TIFs are created by the City Council and Mayor Daley to pay for development within their borders. Many people hear that the property taxes within a TIF are frozen for the life of the TIF--at least 20 years, though it can be extended--and assume that means the taxes for people who live there are frozen. They aren't. As assessments rise the taxes for people in a TIF rise, just as they do across the city. What's frozen is the amount that goes to the schools, parks, city, county, etc. Any increase in tax revenue above that--the "increment"--goes to the TIF.

Suppose you paid $2,000 in property taxes in 1990, when the city made your neighborhood a TIF. Assessments have undoubtedly gone up since then, so now you're paying about $4,000. But only $2,000 of that will be turned over to the schools, etc. The remaining $2,000 goes into the TIF fund. (In Joe's case it's the Bryn Mawr/Broadway TIF fund, named for the main streets in the district.)

But your tax bill doesn't tell you the TIF gets $2,000. It tells you the TIF gets zero. Worse, it tells you the full $4,000 is being distributed to the schools, etc. "If some accountant was doing this in the private sector for a corporation's statement to stockholders," says Ernst, "what would happen to him?"

And how will the $2,000 that goes to the TIF be spent? It will pay back money the city's planning department borrowed to "seed" or "leverage" development, as planners like to put it. The borrowed money can be spent directly by the city to install new sidewalks or streetlights or build schools (though that doesn't happen very often)--anything that will entice development or increase a community's economic value. Or the borrowed money can be turned over in the form of low-interest loans to developers to build shopping centers or malls or to rehab run-down buildings. The beauty of a TIF is that all of this development theoretically pays for itself because the loans are repaid out of the increase in property value that comes when a community starts thriving and pays more in taxes than it would have without the loans.

And it does pay for itself, to a point. The truth is that everybody pays one way or another for TIFs--because TIFs siphon property taxes away from essential services, and as the cost of those services rises, the increase has to be picked up by people who live outside the TIFs.
Javorsky credits the mayor for forcing everyone from activists to aldermen (and, I would add, taxpayers) to play according to his rules. He's right. For Daley, TIFs are all about exercising power with minimal public scrutiny. Considering that both the county and state are considering tax increases, maybe this latest tax shock will change that, though I wouldn't bet on it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

 

Wildlife

No mountain lions or rattlesnakes (fortunately) but here are some photos from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, near El Paso:












Tuesday, October 09, 2007

 

Designer Babies

TCS has an article describing what I think in inevitable. Genetic research being used to create more perfect people.

By 2035 they will become adults and start doing scientific research weeding out the inferior [Ed.]. I imagine these Einsteins will be rather helpful to China's economy and military.


Helpful? How about murderous, genetically enhanced ubermensch? Let's hope the Chinese know something about Star Trek lore. Imagine Kirk screaming Chen!

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Dallas Vs Los Angeles

Virginia Postrel offers a comparison:
Dallas and Los Angeles represent two distinct models for successful American cities, which both reflect and reinforce different cultural and political attitudes. One model fosters a family-oriented, middle-class lifestyle—the proverbial home-centered “balanced life.” The other rewards highly productive, work-driven people with a yen for stimulating public activities, for arts venues, world-class universities, luxury shopping, restaurants that aren’t kid-friendly. One makes room for a wide range of incomes, offering most working people a comfortable life. The other, over time, becomes an enclave for the rich. Since day-to-day experience shapes people’s sense of what is typical and normal, these differences in turn lead to contrasting perceptions of economic and social reality. It’s easy to believe the middle class is vanishing when you live in Los Angeles, much harder in Dallas. These differences also reinforce different norms and values—different ideas of what it means to live a good life. Real estate may be as important as religion in explaining the infamous gap between red and blue states.
Its an interesting read.

(Via The Corner)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

 

Global Warming

A matter of perspective

Dave In Texas notes how walrus have responded to a changing environment:
Walrus (yes, singular AND plural!) decide to cope with climate adjustments, and follow food.
I find this part of the AP story ridiculous:
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, September sea ice was 39 percent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000. Sea ice cover is in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return, with a possible ice-free Arctic Ocean by summer 2030, senior scientist Mark Serreze said.
The earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old, and somebody thinks that, in this context, 21 years is long term? Yikes.

(UPDATE: Corrected my spelling mistake.)

 

Chicago Weather

Enjoy it while it lasts

Here are some photos taken at one of the Forest Preserves I frequent:







The flora are turning color. The birds are migrating south. The landscape has an autumn look. Its October, but this past week had a mid-June feel to it here in Chicagoland. All 7 days so far this month have been warm enough that I ran/walked/biked shirtless, like this guy:




Today's high was a record, which had unfortunate -- maybe even tragic -- consequences:
Fire Media Affairs spokesman Joe Roccasalva confirmed that a runner died during the marathon. As of 4 p.m., about 350 people have been hospitalized for various injuries, Roccasalva said.

Because of the extreme heat, officials late Sunday morning halted the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon.

 

A Marine Solves A Murder

And wishes to remain anonymous

From today's Sun-Times:
It was mid-April, seven months after Dr. David Cornbleet, a Chicago dermatologist, had been found brutally stabbed to death in his downtown office. The police still had no clue who did it, and the Chicago doctor's family was struggling to keep the case in the news in hopes it might encourage someone, anyone, to call in tips.

The Marine hadn't heard about the Chicago murder investigation. But, as his friend unloaded, he took out a notebook and began taking notes.

"I was completely blindsided," said the Marine, who has since returned to Iraq.

He ended up piecing together a story that would lead investigators to an apartment in New York City where Cornbleet's suspected killer, Hans Peterson -- now in custody in the French West Indies -- once lived.
I hope this story gets the attention it deserves and that this marine retains his desired anonymity.

(Note: My original post was meant to conclude with this last sentence. I don't know happened to it when I published the post. I noticed this about 2 hours after publication, when I added it back.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

 

Where It All Began


(Trinity Site where the world's first nuclear device was exploded on July 16, 1945)

The original ground zero is open to the public on the first Saturday of May and October. I was there to take this photo but it required a little driving to get there. For obvious reasons the test site for the bomb is in a remote location, not too bad though, just North of the White Sands Missile Range and a few hours drive from El Paso, Texas.

Below is a picture of some Trinitite, the residue found on the desert floor after the blast. It is illegal to remove any Trinitite but you can buy some (it was once legal). I settled for the picture though I was tempted.



After the Trinity Site it was on to Roswell, New Mexico where I settled in for the evening and wrote this post. I'll keep an eye out for anything else worth photographing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

 

When I Woke Up This Morning....

I saw a reassuring sight.



 

Bomb New York: wrong but funny

I can't help but wonder if most urbanites think this of Americans who like country music. After all, the danger to our cities is much greater than our suburban and rural areas. Yet the people who live in the cities seem much more likely to dismiss the war on terror as just a nuisance.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

 

Thompson's Sister Dobsonjah moment

Tonight on Hannity and Grey, Sean Hannity interviewed Fred and Jeri Thompson asking mostly softball questions about whether he had the fire in the belly and such. The last question had to do with James Dobson saying he could not support Thompson for President. Fred hit this one out of the ballpark in a Sister Souljah moment by saying, in a nutshell, that he wasn't kowtowing to anyone.

James Dobson has been saying some incredibly stupid things lately. Even contemplating a third party at this point makes me wonder if Dobson is not really a very deep cover spy sent by the Clinton campaign. The Anchoress' brother said it best:

Did they learn nothing from ‘92? They may as well start engraving the “President Clinton” commemorative coins now…


I certainly hope that there are a few members of Mr. Dobson's organization who will sit down with him and explain how the US political system works.

If you are sitting on the fence considering different Republican candidates then I strongly urge you to read this excellent comparison of the front runners and why Thompson is the best choice. (At this point it is Giuliani, Romney, and Thompson.) Thompson wins on substance and style.

Political strategists aren't known for consensus, but they all agree that the public loathes passionate and polarized politics. Attacking Hillary with self-righteous zeal like St. George all set to slay the dragon would be a tactical mistake. The best way for a Republican to beat Hillary is to talk to the American people calmly, simply and sensibly, and let her be the poster child for all the bitterness and anger of the last decade. Fred is just the man to do that.

Thompson is comfortable in his own skin and he will be able to connect to the public in a way that Hillary never will.

Update: Via Hot Air.



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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

 

When I Woke Up This Morning...

I saw a disturbing sight


 

Change In Oak Lawn

It won't come easy

Shortly after Oak Lawn schools eliminated pork and Jell-O from cafeteria menus, Halloween and Christmas have been replaced respectively by a fall and a winter festival in the district:
The decision affects the children at four elementary schools in Oak Lawn and one junior high school in Bridgeview.

The district has a 30 percent Arab-American population, many of whom practice Islam. The superintendent says the reason for the change in tradition comes after one parent wanted Ramadan decorations put up inside Columbus Manor Elementary. They were taken down.

Superintendent Tom Smyth said, "I go back to our policy which says that public schools are to remain neutral in this respect."

Ridgeland School District 122 has called for an emergency meeting on the issue, to be held on Tuesday.
What's the emergency? The school board made controversial changes in school policy without consulting the public which immediately impact students. The board knew this would anger a great many parents (probably a large majority) while putting the onus on them to change the status quo, something they have little time to accomplish.

I know the area very well, though its demographics are changing rapidly enough to give me pause in saying this. The people of Oak Lawn and the immediate surrounding areas are far more resistant to changes like these than any people anywhere else in the Chicago metropolitan area. As I see things, they will not accept these changes and will fight them tooth and nail.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports:
After meeting for 2 1/2 hours in a closed session, board members decided to keep the district's Christmas and Halloween parties and add a Ramadan celebration.

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