Monday, July 31, 2006

Income Inequality Chart

Here is a chart of historical GINI levels in a range of countries. It is part of something called The Luxembourg Income Study. What is most useful is that income statistics are given not only with the GINI coeffiecients but also as ratios between the various percentile levels.

Arab Lives cheap to Arabs

The Toronto Star editor for excusing jihad, Haroon Siddiqui, is always amusing in how he can explain away and excuse muslim violence. Since Hizbollah is losing Isreal must stop fighting, a ceasefire is demanded for humanitarian reasons. His latest column is grab bag of observations about the recent Isreal-Hizbollah war. In his list he includes one item:
Arab lives are cheap."Is the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere?" asked a distraught Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. "Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?" Yes.
The problem is that arab and muslim lives are precious to everybody but arab muslims. Isreal has conducted a tactical bombing like no other in history. Before hiting a military target the IDF has been dropping warning leaflets before coming back a couple of days later. Hizbollah for their part are trying to get people killed. They are firing their rockets next to UN posts. They are firing their rockets within civilian buildings with human shields. They want some their surporters dead. For the publicity value.

Update: A blogger has complied a curious series of photographs. A dead child is rescued multiple times over 4 hours. Then a not dead child is also rescued multiple times. The Blogger, EU Referendum, has another page showing how the same rescuer and dead toddler on different front pages.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Concrete, The Rock of Civilization

In one Dr Who episode The Tardis lands back on Skaro years after the Thal-Kaled war. The Doctor remarks that the rock around them is the rarest in the universe, concrete.

On NPR is discussion about safety and concrete in relation some rexent failures at Boston's "Big Dig". The Calvin and Hobbes explanation for figuring out bridge load limits was suggested. Oddly the roundtable of civil engineers were more hesitant in supposing that there is some sort of engineering perfection. The Uncertainty of the engineering professionals was reassuring.
How do they know the load limit on bridges Dad? They drive bigger and bigger trucks over the bridge until it breaks. Then they weigh the last truck and rebuild the bridge. Oh. I should've guessed. Dear, if you don't know the answer. Just tell him
Calvin and Hobbes 26-11-86

Friday, July 28, 2006

Public vs Private Education, the Debate Continues

Some people don't like when their taxes being spent on somebody else. In the United States there was even a political movement in the south against "internal improvements" or roads. There was a big study released recently that compared private and public schools in the states. The study adjusted for socio-economic factors. On NPR they were discussing this, in a segment Study Questions Merits of Private Education, in a their usual even handed way. Which meant first they had on a reporter from the education beat. Then they brought on two experts, one was a even handed moderate but the other was a Bushite on kept complaining about plots by "teacher unions".

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What's Animating the Cartoon Communiity Today

Traditional animators are running scared. The art of animation is sometimes seen today as some tradional artisan skill like glassblowing. It is ability that requires an artist's hand and eye. And to make it modern for this day and age some people think it must be computized. Disney abandoned traditional animation after looking on in dismay at Pixar success. Luckily John Lassiter after being made Disney new creative head reinstated traditional animation. Now, Cartoon Brew, and the cartoon community are incensed at mindless comments by an animation ignorant critics.

What set it all off, review of Monster House
A Monster of a Review
Story Board artist Jenny Lerew on Mike Lasalle's Review
Film Critics Part II
Mike Salle on Polar Express
Polar Express and how could have been improved
Ken Lipton hate on
REAL Animation Acting

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Philip K. Dick

Philip K Dick is my favorite drug addicted paranoid. On NPR yesterday was a discussion about his works and the movies that have been from them. Interesting discussion about phildickian themes of the mutability of identity and reality.

Deportation Express

The Washington Post has a Photo Essay about a bunch El Salvadorians being deported. Not a happy flight.

Making Biathalon More Interesting

Biathalon is one those sports that were derived from military training exercises, like chariot racing, boxing and modern pentathalon. Here is an Ad about biathalon as more of a contract sport.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Good Quote on the Saudis

Jack Linthicum in a thread about the mosy overrated leaders in history SHWI has this quote about bandit ancestors of Saudi princes.

Wahabism has a 2.5 century long history of justifying its deeds by "constant aggression and expansion at the expense of those who do not hare the great idea"

my favorite quote on the Wahhabis:
Perhaps true recently but in their early history (18-19th centuries) the Wahabbis were no better than sactimonious bandits. "Wahhabeeism, in fact, apart from certain speculative notions respecting the Supreme Being--in the main perfectly in accordance with the theology of the Kuran--may be defined as a politico-religious confederacy, which legalizes the indiscriminate plunder and thralldom of all peoples beyond its own pale." George Percy Badger 1870

Ted Rall on CBC

Ted Rall is one of favorite cartoonists. He is interviewed on the CBC One show The Contarians. The show will be replayed Wedesday night 7:30 - 8:00. There is no online archive but you can listen online from 7:30 pm ADT to 7:30 pm PDT.

Canadians in Vietnam and Historical Truth

The difficulties of historical research are seldom appreciated. If we look at the probelm of quantifing a small detail of the recent past we should begin to understand the difficulties.

Every one knows that there were some Canadians in Vietnam, here and here, in same way there were some Americans in Canadian units in the world wars. To get from that general statement/assumption to an actual number things get a little muddy. The military organizations engage in rigorous screening when recruiting to a peace time military. In wartime standards that were imposed for paradeground esthetics get tossed, guard units on parade ride identical mounts for appearance, in wartime any horse can be acceptable as remount or stewpot. Here is a study of estimates of the actual number of Canadians in Vietnam.

The two links and the picture are from Vets With a Mission are used without permission.

For some more discussion on the art of history is this essay, Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past, about Wikipedia's spreading influence. It was posted on World History Blog which is now listed as an "interesting" blog.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Space Invaders as Culture

Video game becomes part of shared culture when they are quoted and referenced by other pieces of culture. Terry Prachett wrote a book about "space invaders", Only You Can Save Mankind. A group of French animators have used humans as pixels to animate classic Space Invaders. For a comparison here is a screen shot of classic Space Invaders, from the game's wikipedia page.

Arab Editorialist Against the Automatic Surport of Isreal's Enemies

Hell has indeed frozen over.

The Editor in Chief of the Arab Times, the conservative mouthpeice of the conservative Kuwaiti government, has in an editorial, No To Syria, Iran's Agents, has come out against Hamas and Hezbollah. Admiting his opposition is more to do with existing interests of gulf arabs vs Iran. There is also the tension between the majority shite population and the Sunni ruling class. But it is still a change by Arab governments, if not the street, that others have noticed as well, See Language Guy on Terrorist vs Freedom Fighter.

The editorial begins with.
People of Arab countries, especially Lebanese and Palistinians, have been held hostage for a long time in the name of "resisting Isreal".
And ends with.
Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of “these irregular phenomena” is what Israel is doing. The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community.

Cartoon Villianry

First the OSR (Obligatory Simpson Reference).

In Mr. Black's cabin, a lavish feast is underway for just himself and the three counsellors.

Gentlemen, [toasts] To Evil!
-- Mr. Black, ``Kamp Krusty''

With so many real madmen runing criminal regimes from The Movie Fan to The Penpal, it is nice to escape into mere cartoon villianry. While looking for an article I read on counterfeiting, I came accross a supplement to Marvel Heroes, an RPG, all about playing evil super heroes. The supplement called, Criminals, Crime and Cruelty, includes an section on the benefits of being evil:

The Benefits of Being Evil

That definition is good for the basics of evil, but doesn't really get into the benefits. For being evil is truly a lifestyle unto itself. By embracing the forces of evil you can gain power beyond your wildest dreams. You can become one of the richest people on earth and then use that wealth to bring about the misfortune of others. You can crush your enemies in the most ruthless and vile of ways all the while unhindered by such weaknesses as remorse or guilt. You can be a ray of darkness in an otherwise unbearably sunny day. Those are not the only benefits, however. By becoming a servant of darkness you can also engage in widespread plans of world domination. You can destroy the world with the method of your choosing and then jump up and down on its corpse. You can tie damsels in distress to railroad tracks and then twirl about in your moustache and black cape. Yes, by choosing evil you can truly walk down the street with pride, and watch small children run screaming from your presence.

But wait, there's more! If you act now you can also gain vast influence over the minds of men. You can learn great supernatural powers capable of killing at a glance and causing people's heads to explode. You can summon up terrible armies of the undead to then send against the town of your choosing. You can even become immortal should you wish, and are willing to sacrifice your humanity.

There really is no end to the benefits, so why not join today

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Youthful Hijinks Part CDLVII

When I first saw the goofy cold war film Red Dawn in Alberta. I was watching in a crowded room, back when videos were a communal experience. The movie began to seem sillier and sillier to me. So to react against American jingoism I rose everytime I heard this music. This somehow encouraged hostility.

Odd Thinking from Bereaved Father

The missiles that Hezbollah, Party of Dogs, use are non guided. Like the V-1 their missiles go until run out of gas. Falling at random. One of the towns hit was Nazareth, a mainly Arab town. A bereaved father was interviewed. And the father of the dead children blames, drumroll, Isreal. Even Aljazeera notices the "...general reluctance to blame Hezbollah directly".

Didn't Nazareth used to be mainly a Christian Arab town.

Update: The NY Times has a video about the reluctance of Nazarenes to blame Muslim terrorists. I can't link to it. It is the video called "Not Choosing Sides" here.

Driving Safety Ads

The Plight of Temporary Canadians

Because of terrorism that Hezbollah, Party of Dog, launched from their chunk of occupied Lebanon, Lebanon is a war zone. This has resulted with great clamor for countries to extract their stranded citizens. Many countries have 10's of thousands passport holders in Lebanon. Australia has 10's of thousands of "well behaved" Aussie passport holders in Lebanon. Canada has 10's of thousands of passport holders in Lebanon. However most of "Canadians" in danger are dual citizens. These are people who spent three or four years in Canada at some point in their lives. These are Lebanese with Canadian passports. Garth Turner, the Conservative member of Halton has been asking questions about the cost of rescuing Lebanese from Lebanon. There has been a change of policy. Most countries, most of the time will rescue their citizens in distress, billing later for the travel costs. The Canadian evacuation OTOH will be gratis.

The Current, 2006/07/20 discussing this topic.

Update: According a report on The National, 37,000 people are registered for evacuation with the Canadian Embassy.

Other Takes on Buffet and Gates

Ted Rall is a bitter, bitter man. But that's his charm. Recently he presented his contarian view of the Buffet/Gates mega charity by treating them as more successful robber barons then Ken Lay. When Buffet announced his donation makes of the commentry was quite positive, see here for cartoons on the conventional view of the Buffet/Gates charity merger.

Rall's objections can be boil down two main points. Wealth creation is not free. "Gates scammed his dough the old-fashioned way: overcharging his customers and underpaying his employees." Why should public services be dependent the whims of the charitable. We have already went down the route in the middle ages. "... good causes all, but maintaining Pearl Harbor is one of the reasons we pay federal taxes. Why does a national war memorial need help from Gates?"

""We're On a Mission From God" - Elwood Blues

From News of the Weird comes this odd story about criminally insane law in Texas.

The Texas insanity-defense law requires that a delusional person acting under "orders" from God be judged not guilty by reason of insanity, but that a delusional person acting under "orders" from Satan be considered sane, according to prominent forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz (according to a June USA Today story). Thus, Dietz believed that Andrea Yates (at press time being retried in Houston) knew that drowning her kids upon command of someone "without moral authority" (such as Satan) was wrong and thus that she did not qualify for insanity-law protection. Dietz later concluded the opposite in another Texas child-killing case because God had supposedly assured that mother that her kids would be better off dead. [USA Today, 6-20-06]

The problem for me is that what if you acting under orders that you and your culture considers a "moral authority" but every one else in the world considers very crazy. Say you are a pious and sincere Aztec. In your backyard you have an altar where you sacrifice your enemies' still beating hearts to Huitzilopochti. Eventually the police authorities might notice your religious practices.

Guilty or Not Guilty?

New Sporting Nation (I've never heard of)

I saw the highlights of game between Finland and Canada in the Lacrosse World Chapionships. I went to the website and came accross a flag I hadn't seen before, the Iroqouis Nation. Cool.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ahh, Obsessive Fans

Here is a TV commercial promoting a British film festival. It treats the obsessive movie fan who constantly rewatches movies over and over kindly. I myself have seen The Blues Brothers dozens of times. This women is a big fan of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Update: Here is a Google Map Hack showing all of the Chicago Filming Locations in the Blues Brothers. Many of the location film have been extensively remodeled or demolished. The fan who put this together called this movie, "... a moment of time in a great American city".

Atomic Power is Grrrrreat

NY Times magazine, Atomic Balm, has an article about the rebirth of nuclear power. Three Mile Island discouraged the construction of new plants. Now new plants are going through the developemnt and planning process. Speaking as someone who wore a radition badge I see this a good thing. A character from Repo Man has summed up some of the best argruments about atomic power.

J. Frank Parnell: Ever been to Utah? Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too. When they canceled the project it almost did me in. One day my mind was full to bursting. The next day - nothing. Swept away. But I'll show them. I had a lobotomy in the end

Spooky Pictures of Child Brides

On NPR is a photographer is discussing her photo essay of Afghani child brides that will appear next sunday in the NY Times magazine. One of the "brides" is payment of a gambling debt.

The justification for child brides in Islam is that Mohammed the child molester married a girl of 9. In fact any and almost everthing that Mo did is emulated by "sincere" Moslems. This modeling of aspects of behavior on all the actions of a "prophet" has few counterparts in other religons. King David wrote deep and beautiful psalms but that doesn't mean that his wacking of Uriah is used as a moral guide for Jews and Christians today who also want the date the currently married.

El Presidente, a Tyrant's Title

When I hear the title "president" I don't think of some constitutionally elected democrat instead it brings to mind a thug in thug's clothing. Most of the presidents around the world preside depotically. It is the title of some one who doesn't have convince anybody ever again. Mubabe started out as a limited Prime Minister in a renamed Rhodesia. Eventually he became a full dictator, the Thug-in-Chief we know today as president Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

Here is an article, In the Time of Presidents, that muses on the non-democratic nature of presidencies.

Terrorists Demand Isreal Release Murderer

One the demands of Hezbollah, Party of Wogs, is to release a Samir Kuntar. Samir Kuntar has a website dedicated to him. His fansite calls him a detainee. On the fansite is a demand to release him and "jailed legislator" Barghouti who like Kuntar is a convicted murderer.

I guess it is not murder if it is you are inspired by your moon god.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Anarchists in Power

The general view of the smirking chimp Bush is that he and his administration is corrupt and/or stupid. Alan Wolf in a recent Washington Monthly article, "Why Conservatives Can't Govern" explains that anti-statist conservatives have a belief system/ideology that predicts that government never works. It explains much of the madness that results when "sincere" conservaties get power.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Long Live the Armed Struggle, Until the Other Side Shoots Back

That pretty much sums up the attitude towards war of the enemies of Isreal/US/Spain/Thailand/India/Britian/etc in the continueing worldwide jihad against civilization. After a civilization reacts to constant low level war and violence and actually counter-attacks against Moslems and then begins to win. Moslems then cry for peace and offers a hudna or ceasefire. This is not a traditional peace treaty that ends a war or conflict which often involves the relinquishing of territory claims. But as many have stated a hudna is usually can be boiled down to a "stop firing while I reload" plea.

Crazy Wogs Attack

An IDF soldier was torn apart by a mob when he was killed in Nablus. Quote from newsreport:

Immediatley after the explosion, dozens of residents gathered around the soldier's body and burst into shouts of happiness in front of the Arab media's television cameras.

After the incident, a senior member of the Brigades told Ynet that his people hold part of the killed soldier's body, but another activist made it clear that there was no plan to negotiate on the body parts, which were later transferred to the Palestinian Authority and then to IDF representatives.

Considering the respect that muslims show to their enemies maybe it is time to repeat the practice of General Pershing when he was dealing muslim terrorists in the Philipines, always bury dead terrorists with pigs.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ship in Book and News the Same Day

I was reading a book about the history of oil, A Thousand Barrels a Second. The book details some the techniques to increase whaling yield among which was making a whalers search the seas for black fish rather then remaining inshore whalers. An whale oil merchant built a bigger and longer range "factory whaler" then previous models. The ship, The Charles W. Morgan, is in the news for using oak casualties of Katrina for renovation and repair.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sainted Cop

Photo Credit: Yoav Lemmery

An Israeli policeman stands in front of a building in Nahariya, Israel, as it burns following a hit by a Katyusha-style rocket fired from Lebanon. AFP/Getty

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Tragic" Death of Mob Figure Kenny Boy

Mob boss "Kenny Boy" Lay died yesterday while awaiting trial on collapse of of his front company. As reported in today's Globe many of Kenny Boy's friends and associates sympathized with his plight. Kenny Boy's life was the American dream, from being a lowly worker in the rackets to heading his own syndicate, until brought low by the justice system. Other associates however describe him in the typical manner of mob bosses.
In contrast to the genial, big-picture executive that Mr. Lay claimed to be, the jurors said they saw glimpses of a man who could be intensely controlling and who had a big chip on his shoulder. And that didn't jibe with the defence's portrayal of Mr. Lay as an unwitting victim of the collapse, along with thousands of employees and millions of shareholders.
Strangely in all the lists of well wishers and mourners Kenny Boy's pet politician is missing. DoubleU, a client of Kenny Boy has not shown any gratitude to his one time patron at this time.