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Showing posts from April, 2003
Stay tunedPlanning to hear Jan Kavan, President of the 57th General Assembly United Nations and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic on Thursday night. Will blog a summary of his remarks.
And still more on the Santorum controversyA friend of mine sent an article from the Cato Institute the noted libertarian think tank that argues the issues of private morality and public law and of course comes out for less government as you would expect from dedicated libertarians.

Do you buy their arguement?
Down to Five QuartersCalifornia was the 31st state to join the USA. The US Mint has been releasing each year five coins with state designs. The California coin is set to circulate in 2005. To see the designs submitted to the US Treasury for evaluation.
Peruvian Dinner and LectureWent to a UCLA Alumni fundraising event. It included dinner at El Pollo Inka on Wilshire followed by a talk by Professor of Anthropology, Charles Stanish.

The food was okay. Have to confess it wasn't spectacular. It was three courses: salad, choice of chicken with rice or beef with rice followed by Picarones for dessert.

One nice bonus for me was winning TWO raffle prizes!

The talk was a quick overview of Peruvian history. Stanish wanted to study the rise and fall of a pre-modern civilization. He went to Peru to study the Incas.

At the height of their civilization, the Incas covered much of South America from Boliva/Peru to parts of Chile and Argentina. He said imagine an empire that at one end is in Paris and in the other is in Tehran and you get the sense of size of the Inca realm.

One wonders how such a great empire fell so quickly to a relatively small army of Spanish invaders. They arrived at a time when the Inca were weakened by disease…
Slice of Clam StorySo last Sunday, went to a Chinese seafood restaurant for dinner. It was a classic miscommunication story involving English speaking Chinese people (us) and limited English speakers (waiter). On the menu was GEODUCK clam. If you are curious to see what it looks like... go to the Geoduck trade association site. Anyway, we express interest in getting some and the guy said, yes, $28. Okay, a little steep but its a delicacy and we were having a special reunion. You see 10 years ago three of us drove across the USA and so we have kept in touch over the years and so we decided to do the reunion thing. And if you know CHINESE culture, that will involve FOOD and mostly likely SEAFOOD.

So we order the stuff and some less exotic fare.

And eventually bill came...

STICKER SHOCK...

The clam dish cost over $90!!!!!

It was $28 *per pound* and the clam was over 3 pounds!

While we are talking about mollusks... did you know scallop can swim!

An excerpt:

The eye, or adduct…
More on SantorumHugh Hewitt weighed in with a response to his buddies Postrel and Volokh:

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My friends Virginia Postrel and Eugene Volokh are busy stuffing straw men and
then burning them. Both have written at length on why the Bible doesn't make
a great criminal law drafting guide. They are right, of course, and no one
is arguing that the Bible should be codified. No one. No where. No links
have yet been provided to the contrary.

The real argument, with which they have yet to tangle, is that morality
informs the electorate's choices for the various legislatures, and those
legislatures have passed law in keeping with their duties as they understand
them. Moral choices underlay every single statute in the land. The
Constitution prohibits some of these choices from informing law-making, such
as law that would seek to implement the moral vision of the first few of the
Ten Commandments. But the Constitution is largely silent on the issue of
sex…
LA Times Festival of Books @ UCLAWent to the big event at my old campus on Saturday. Had tickets to the session at 3:30 in Haines 39. The moderator was Larry Mantle of KPCC Airtalk. The four authors were on this panel because they were finalists for the LA Times Book Prize in Non-Fiction.

Mantle posed a few questions first to Judith Levine author of "Harmful to Minors: the Perils of Protecting Children from Sex." Her premise is that the overemphasis on abstainance sex education and restrictive laws are not helpful. She acknowledged her views made her extremely controversial. In particular was her comments on sexual abuse. She highlighted research that said female minors almost always viewed unwanted sexual advances as negative but that male minors did not always have such a negative reaction. Though she didn't say pedophilia is okay, her remarks pointed that way. She became a lightening rod for those remarks and became a target of a smear campaign.

I certai…
Sen. Santorum Scrum
For those who follow the political scene by now have heard the flap over Penn. Sen. Santorum's remarks. My feelings are mixed. Having been influenced by Dennis Prager who often makes the point that there is a difference between what is moral and what is legal, I find that Sentorum is off base. However, he remarks do raise legitimate questions as to what degree personal morality should be governed by public law. Marriage is a personal matter but it has legal definitions. As it is right now, polygamy is illegal. However, if we define public law based on what consenting adults can do or desire to do, there would be no prohibition to polygamy. The same would be true of incest.

Many thoughts have been expressed on this issue and I've clipped a couple of items that sort of made sense to me.

Here is a clip from Volokh

[Eugene Volokh, 5:26 AM]
GOD AND CAESAR: I have often heard it said that the Ten Commandments are an important part of the foundation of Amer…
Downwardly Mobile
Came across this article in the Asian-American Christians for Social Justice news group. Ron Ornsby writes about the struggles he has had being a middle-class white guy interacting with blue collar Chinese men. Some excerpts:
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My previous circle of Chinese contacts consisted largely of highly educated, appearance-conscious professionals. They were largely bilingual, using English more than Chinese to relate to me, and comfortable working with my Western time-task orientation. In sum, we had a great deal in common in education, work experience, and outlook.

But the middle-aged Chinese men standing before me on the street lived in an entirely different world. Most of these men held blue-collar jobs or worked as "day" laborers. Their plain-looking, outdated clothes, unkempt hair, and scruffy beards reflected their minimal concern for appearance. They were monolingual and largely mono-cultural. We had virtually nothing in common.
............…
Hate haggling?
Virginia Postrel's latest NYTimes feature entitled, "How much is that Civic online?" describes the data suggesting that shopping for a car by the internet saves money *and* the haggling. Money paragraphs:
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On the Internet, "everybody paid the white male price," Professor Zettelmeyer said. "Suddenly it became totally irrelevant what your race or gender or income or education was."

In their most recent work, which includes a survey of car buyers, the economists try to determine how Internet shopping lowers prices. They find two effects. Using the Internet makes consumers better informed and, hence, better able to bargain — the information effect. And the referral services use their own power to make sure dealers keep prices low — the contract effect.
.............
"An element that we sometimes underestimate, which doesn't show up anywhere in the G.D.P., is the sheer amount of disutility that consumers derive" f…
Dodgers lose 3-0 to the Reds. Thus, in 18 innings, the Dodgers have scored 2 runs against the worst team in the NL. Dodger pitching has been pretty solid but the offense is pretty weak.

Meanwhile, the Lakers got run out of Minnesota thus returning to Staples 1-1 in the series. All season, the problem has been a loss of defensive intensity and that showed last night. Also, the Lakers are vulnerable to the speedy guard and the power forward and it really showed last night as Kevin Garnett and Troy Houston torched the Lakers. The Timberwolves press seemed to confuse the Lakers as well. Jackson has a big job ahead to get the team ready for game 3. Now, they are the ones in a must win situation.
Two interesting articles in today's USA Today
The cover story in their Money section is about Kevlar, the strong but light fabric found in bullet-proof vests. As usual, the invention of the stuff was intended for a different purpose (material for tires) than what finally became its most important use (armor for police and military). I think I read in Virginia Postrel's "The Future and Its Enemies" a passage that said the old cliche, "the mother of invention is necessity" is not really true because so often the invention or innovation winds up serving a purpose other than the original intent (necessity) or is even a failed experiment a la the often told tale of Post-It Notes utilizing a glue that was too weak.

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excerpt:

''The bullets knocked me over and took the wind out of me, but I didn't feel any pain,'' said the 21-year-old Ashline from the Army's 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y.

Both soldier…
CNN kept quiet in Iraq
Eason Jordan the news chief at CNN wrote in the NYTimes about the various horrible things CNN knew about in Iraq but kept quiet or else they would lose access to Iraq. Another item in the unbelievable file!! Is news gathering worth the lives lost by their silence? We shall see if there will be a firestorm over this. It would be pretty pathetic if CNN isn't roasted over this. Will the media itself lead the charge? Or will it take people outside to call them on this?
From Andrew Sullivan.com
THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY: "Perhaps we cannot make this a world in which children are no longer tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children," - Albert Camus.
"The prison in question was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children - toddlers up to pre-adolescents - whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace."
-Scott Ritter, Time Magazine.
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Ritter at one time was regarded as an "objective" observer of what is going on in Iraq. This kind of story calls his credibility into serious question. How could he KNOW this... and in good conscience defend the Iraqi regime. Unbelievable!

The "Jedi Knights" -- the transformation of the militarySaw a nice analytical piece from Slate by Fred Kaplan that explored the revolution that took place in military tactics.
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Excerpts:

So when and how did the U.S. military get this good? The elements of swift victory in Gulf War II have been well laid-out: the agility and flexibility of our forces, the pinpoint accuracy of the bombs, the commanders' real-time view of the battlefield, the remarkable coordination among all branches of the armed services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) and special operations. But these elements, and this degree of success, have not been seen in previous wars, not even in the first Gulf War 12 years ago. Three major changes have taken hold within the military since then a new war-fighting doctrine, advanced digital technology, and a less parochial culture.

The new doctrine was put in motion in 1983, a decade before Operation Desert Storm, when the U.S. Army&…
Hussein Statue in Baghdad Toppled
Saw the live coverage this morning on all the channels in LA... 2, 4, 5, 7, 11... Just amazing! Of course, cautionary words eminated from DC and rightly so. There are still pockets of fanatics who plan to go out in a blaze of glory. There is speculation that the remanent of the regime has slipped out to Tikrit. So more work remains ahead to root out the last of the Baathists. And of course, the huge task of "winning the peace" is ahead beginning with restoring vital services like medical, water, food, and electricity. And then after that, to establish a new government that will accomodate all factions: Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, in country dissedents and exile Iraqis.

On a military note, two articles to draw your attention to. There undoubtedly will be more. Here is one that looks at the speed of the US/UK operations seen on MSNBC citing an AP article.

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Excerpt:

It began as a three-pronged assault.
??? Part…
Closing on Baghdad
News was breaking fast and furious Tuesday PM (Wednesday AM in Iraq). First came the reports of the 3rd Infantry and the 1st Marine making their moves after air attacks had weakened Republican Guard units blocking their paths to Baghdad. Second came the raid that freed PFC Jessica Lynch. And the final item was the statement from Hussein read by the information minister further fueling speculation of Hussein's condition.

Last Friday (post below -- More Iraqi War Analysis), I made some observations for the road ahead.

1. Clearly, the British need to gain control of Basra. This will take several days at least and maybe a week.

The British are taking Basra section by section. It is slow work but seems to be proceeding and may take another week or two. This maybe a foreshadow of the Siege of Baghdad.

2. The US has to secure its long supply line. If reports of supply problems are true that is priority number one and there will not be a big battle this weekend tha…