The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft, which was launched in 2007, detected uranium with a gamma-ray spectrometer. Scientists are using the instrument to create maps of the moon's surface composition, showing the presence of thorium, potassium, oxygen, magnesium, silicon, calcium, titanium and iron.
The findings could help decide where to build future lunar colonies, since manned outposts will need energy, and could potentially derive it from nuclear power plants.
Japan and India are, basically, the losers in the Great Game as it is being played out in Washington. The new Ambassadors to both countries? Political rewards for the faithful. The new Ambassador to India is, to quote, an "obscure former Congressman Timothy Roemer"; the new Ambassador to Japan is "a low-profile Internet and biotechnology lawyer, John Roos". Neither have any real connections to these countries, and join the long list of US Ambassadors whose claim to fame is the ability to generate campaigning money and organize the party faithful or receive their Ambassadorships as part of some political deal involving others.
For most countries, the US Ambassador is a fairly big deal, representing the US in that country. Sending a party hack or giving the post away to one of the party faithful is a clear sign of disinterest that many countries recognize and while they may not like this, there is virtually nothing they can do.
Sending these Ambassadors sends a clear message: you're not really very important. Remember who has been Ambassador to Japan in the past: President G.H.W. Bush (aka Bush 41) was Ambassador there way back when. That is the quality of people you send, not an internet and biotechnology lawyer who just happened to be one of President Obama's premier fundraisers.
Another difference that makes a difference: Japan and India are both democracies. Mainland China practices a system of government preferred by Obama and his supporters in the establishment left.
A new survey paints a dismal picture of Canadians' ability to identify key national icons by photograph, revealing that only four out of every 10 people could name Sir John A. Macdonald.
The online survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for the Dominion Institute was released in time for Canada's 142nd birthday. But there's little in the findings to celebrate. Most Canadians -- 88 per cent -- could name international pop star Celine Dion from a photograph, and 77 per cent correctly named Wayne Gretzky.
But a paltry 19 per cent could identify the father of Medicare Tommy Douglas, sometimes considered the greatest Canadian, and only 27 per cent could name Metis leader Louis Riel.
Because knowing what Tommy Douglas' face looks like is... actually, we have no need for this information. I would be happier if the Dominion Institute encouraged Canadians to consider the meaning of the words "free health care".
In its quiz, selecting from a pool of thirty Canadian icons, the Institute gives us a group from which fully half are politicians, four are athletes, three are career soldiers, two are writers, and there is one each of performers, artists, industrialists, doctors, journalists and activists. (I realise many of the people on its quiz span several professional fields, but I have tried to boil them down to their "most famous" attribute.)
One wonders, if we were to make a similar quiz for Americans, would the professions be weighted with such a heavy slant to politics? Which solitary American performer would make the cut—Elvis Presley, Clara Bow, Nat 'King' Cole or Scarlett Johansson? And who would be the lone civil rights activist? Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony or Martin Luther King? Would the single captain of industry be Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Juan Trippe, or Bill Gates? And the sole artist should be Frederic Remington, Norman Rockwell, Louis Comfort Tiffany or Man Ray?
Canadian history also has a similar galaxy of notable stars, but we don't get taught about them at all. In this country, they are invisible to educators and historians alike.
To be blunt the Dominion Institute's icons list are heavily weighted in favour of history nerds who idolize politicians. Being a history nerd, naturally I got 10/10, but I am not a big fan of politicians. Politicians may get the glory, but it is the blood sweat and tears of ordinary Joes that makes a country run. And I fully understand that regular civilians who spend most of their waking hours focusing on things other than history and politics are naturally not going to give a damn. Whole sectors of achivement get left out of Canadian social studies education. Successful Canadian businessmen? Ha. Sure, we hear about businessmen when they are fitted into the narrative of political initiative (like the transcontinental railroad) or social change (like the Winnipeg General Strike). But ordinary joes climbing out of obscurity to become titans in their fields? Never. Did anybody ever hear the names Edward Robert Peacock, Ezra Butler Eddy, K.C. Irving or Grant McConachie in high school history? Of course not. They didn't devote themselves to serving a political purpose, nor become an object lesson on how not to treat the proletariat. They are outside the narrative.
I have some respect for the Dominion Institute since they periodically remind the public of the existence of Canadian history, but their time would be more profitably spent widening the scope of Canadian history education, and not bemoaning the fact that everyone forgets the boring, heavily distorted narrative that we all get crammed into our heads at younger ages. If anything, that's a bit of a blessing. We'd all be NDP voters otherwise.
British-born families will jump ahead of immigrants and asylum seekers in the queue for council housing under far-reaching plans unveiled today. Gordon Brown will tear up the rules in a bid to win back Labour's working class heartlands, where support has grown for the far-Right British National Party. The 'British homes for British workers' plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list.
Let's see if understand this correctly. "British homes for British workers" prioritizes the British over immigrants and asylum seekers and, as such, addresses a far-right grievance held by former Labour voters wooed by the British National Party.
Some questions: How does Labour introducing the same far-right policy - especially with this Orwellian name - change its presumed racism? Further, why does the Daily Mail deputy political editor not feel it necessary to describe the perceived unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list? Or are we all meant to intuitively grasp such unfairness (and as such intuitively empathize with this far-right policy)?
Finally, what other policy inspiration is Gordon Brown's Labour party planning to take from the BNP?
Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, described as "sickening" a noisy protest by a small number of Irish republicans objecting to Britain's first Armed Forces Day (formerly Veterans Day). I may have shared his opinion had I been exposed to the protesters myself though how anyone can express the least surprise at Irish republicans objecting to Her Majesty's armed forces is beyond me.
Far more sickening is the apparent nonchalance evinced by his government at the current state of Her Majesty's armed forces. The first Type 45 destroyer is to set to sea without a fully operational air defence system while a "black hole" in defence funding may sink what is left of the Royal Navy and with it much of the UK's nuclear deterrent.
Overstretch of the armed forces must be ended, according to a report whose authors include the former Nato secretary general, Lord Robertson, ex-Marine Lord Ashdown and former chief of the defence staff Lord Guthrie.
They argue that Britain should no longer struggle to maintain a full range of defence capability like the US and instead consider scrapping up to £24bn of future "big ticket" projects - including two new aircraft carriers, the F35 joint strike fighters designed to fly from them, six new Type 45 destroyers, four new Astute hunter-killer submarines and the replacement of the Vanguard submarines carrying Trident.
While they are at it, I shall consider cutting my passport in half and mailing it to Buckingham Palace.
Defend the rights of women and you are a racist. Defend gay men from violence and you are racist. Defend the right of Muslims to be free from their own extremists and you are a racist. Bruce Bawer documents massive Muslim immigration to Europe and massive support for sharia law, for jihad and a contempt for their host nations, let alone their values.
Too often, such attitudes find their way into practice. Ubiquitous youth gangs, contemptuous of infidels, have made European cities increasingly dangerous for non-Muslims—especially women, Jews, and gays. In 2001, 65 percent of rapes in Norway were committed by what the country’s police call “non-Western” men—a category consisting overwhelmingly of Muslims, who make up just 2 percent of that country’s population. In 2005, 82 percent of crimes in Copenhagen were committed by members of immigrant groups, the majority of them Muslims.
Non-Muslims aren’t the only targets of Muslim violence. A mountain of evidence suggests that the rates of domestic abuse in these enclaves are astronomical. In Germany, reports Der Spiegel, “a disproportionately high percentage of women who flee to women’s shelters are Muslim”; in 2006, 56 percent of the women at Norwegian shelters were of foreign origin; Deborah Scroggins wrote in The Nation in 2005 that “Muslims make up only 5.5 percent of the Dutch population, but they account for more than half the women in battered women’s shelters.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch advocate for democracy and women’s rights, would no doubt say far more than half: when she was working with women in Dutch shelters, she writes, “there were hardly any white women” in them, “only women from Morocco, from Turkey, from Afghanistan—Muslim countries—alongside some Hindu women from Surinam.” When she and filmmaker Theo van Gogh tried to highlight the mistreatment of women under Islam in the 2004 film Submission: Part I, he was killed by a young Muslim extremist.
More and more Western Europeans, recognizing the threat to their safety and way of life, have turned their backs on the establishment, which has done little or nothing to address these problems, and begun voting for parties—some relatively new, and all considered right-wing—that have dared to speak up about them. One measure of the dimensions of this shift: owing to the rise in gay-bashings by Muslim youths, Dutch gays—who ten years ago constituted a reliable left-wing voting bloc—now support conservative parties by a nearly two-to-one margin.
Yes, Michael Jackson was arrested and charged with child molestation but then he cared about love and peace and he loved children, etc. so all cultures are beautiful and it's all relative, right? Let he who voted for Obama cast the first stone.* One can only imagine the pain of Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince “Blanket” Michael Jackson II this morning or, indeed, most mornings.
Leading up to a much anticipated London concert series, Peter Conrad discussed Michael Jackson's freaky talent. I believe the following captures much of Jackson's brio and the genesis of Jackson's weltschmerz.
After "Thriller" he appeared in Captain Eo, a film Coppola directed for the custom-built cinemas at Disney's theme parks. Here Jackson commands a spaceship whose crew includes a bicephalous navigator, a pair of cybernauts and a shipmate with an elephant's trunk; clad in shining white like a Tennysonian knight of the Grail, he has a mission to disseminate peace. How can you play both a fanged demon marauding through the jungle and a saviour descended from the starry heights without puzzling over who or what you really are?
How often have I asked myself the same question? Without further ado: A Michael Jackson video you may not have seen umpteen times.
* I was probably the only person who thought that was funny the first time I wrote it.
Information Dissemination identifies an alarming technical detail of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) reported to be by Red China; second stage control fins which would make this a ballistic missile without a fixed trajectory.
Why does this matter? Because open source information sources describing AEGIS ballistic missile defense note that AEGIS calculates intercept based primarily due to launch trajectory, and I'd bet your paycheck that when the PLA Strategic Rocket Forces realized that, they knew that if they could make a mid-course correction during flight, they would invalidate the AEGIS BMD capability.
You see, if the launch is accurately detected, trajectory can be determined based on the launch. When we shoot our SM-3, because ballistic missiles have a fixed trajectory, our interceptor knows where the missile is going to be and can intercept it.
But if a ballistic missile changes course in flight, our AEGIS BMD interceptor finds itself in the wrong place, because it calculated the intercept based on the initial trajectory, not the new trajectory following the mid-course change.
This technical detail is why I call bullshit with the Navy's suggestion that we have a critical need for more DDG-51s specifically for ballistic missile defense. The Burke is not capable of intercepting this ballistic missile, and we are going to need a new radar that can track the mid-course change accurately, and new software to very quickly do the math for identifying a new intercept point if we are going to defeat this weapon. That is going to be enormously expensive, which is why when I say I think the Navy is going to need $6 billion nuclear cruisers if they are going to evolve ballistic missile defense towards 21st century threats, I'm not kidding.
I am reading that Information Dissemination post and it is causing me to scratch my head... We've had gimbaled thrust since Goddard proved the concept in 1937, and they've been integral to US ICBMs since the 50s. Surely the idea of inflight course changes has ah, advanced a ilttle since then? It's not like other things (ships, airplanes, tanks) stay still when other sorts of warheads get lobbed at them. Granted, they go a little slower (Mach 3-6, vs Mach 10 for a ballistic booster).
We could always use that other integral part of AEGIS BMD, the ability to intercept targets in the terminal (i.e. final) phase, rather than an earlier phase (like midcourse). In other words, wait until after the second stage does it manouvre, then plonk the warhead. It just means you probably won't get a lot of second chances; the first volley has to matter.
Also, the missile doesn't have to do much in the way of target search. You can have some dopey trawler or sub shadow the target and give you a halfway-decent lat/long fix. In the sixteen minutes it will take for the ASBM to reach its target 3000km distant at mach 10, a carrier is not going to move a few hundred miles at 30 knots max speed. It will move 8 nautical miles at best. What are the odds you can develop a seeker/terminal guidance sensor small enough to fit into the 1.4m diameter of a DF-21 ASBM, but big enough to have a search range of say, 16nm? 1.4m is big enough to put a fullblown F-22-style AN/APG-77 AESA array (0.98m diameter) in there with a detection and targeting range of 125 nm.
I dunno what to make of it really. None of the concerns he has raised seem to be insurmountable technical challenges for either side.
Another update: I should explain my comments system appears to be having some sort of indigestion. Consequently, I am posting another response via email; this from Armored Facilities Manager.
From what I understand of the open source material, the Aegis system in fact relies on directing separate beams of Radar at the target which, by reflection cue the missile to the target terminally.
Initial trajectories will be off, but if the Ballistic missile is launched at the Surface Action group itself, then there will be very little ballistic correction to make.
I have to wonder whether SM-2 would in fact do the job neatly.
The other aspect is that the guidance is mostly software. I doubt that the folks at Hughes are sitting on their backsides NOT coming up with tweaks to effect positive intercepts of a maneuvering terminal ballistic missile were there a problem.
Note, SM-3 intercepted a satellite which was in effect maneuvering a touch due to atmospheric effects on it's irregular shape. They HAD to do final calculations to get the hit to kill warhead on the satellite.
The Air Force said it will train 240 pilots to fly Predator and Reaper drones compared with 214 fighter and bomber pilots for fiscal year 2009 ending Sept. 30. Officials said there are 550 drone operators compared with 3,700 fighter and 900 bomber pilots.
Egypt's Grand Imam says burka not obligatory in Islam
Egypt's Grand Imam, Sheikh Mohammad Tantawi, says the face veil is not compulsory in Islam and says every head of state had the right to accept or prohibit it.* Which should end the argument so far as Canada's human rights heresy commissions are concerned. But won't.
Days after President Nicolas Sarkozy slammed the burka, or face veil, as "not welcome" in France, Islamic scholars said the burka was not obligatory in Islam and said every state had a right to ban the face veil.
The burka debate has been raging for a while in Europe with countries like the Netherlands banning it in universities and the British press reporting that Muslims and non-Muslims alike are calling for a ban on the face covering attire.
* Which means he is obviously a racist and a tool of the Americans. /sarcasm
Richard Shulman on the thin skin of the Israeli left; quick to criticize their foes, quick to cry McCarthyism when they are criticized in turn. The charge is used in the same way and for the same purposes as calling someone a "racist".*
My theory of how the world works is that half of what is asserted under a high-sounding theme is a cover for something low, half of established theories and facts we are taught are false or mistaken, and half of what occurs in politics is by conspiracy or manipulation. People often mask their plots or don't know what they are doing. I'm a skeptic.
Unfortunately, most people are not skeptics, except for something new and improved. They swallow what the Establishment feeds them. They have no idea what is being put over on them.
The other half of the people outside the Establishment are skeptical, but of those whom the Establishment suggests they suspect. They are made skeptical of the U.S. when it is upholding civilization but not when it is upholding the enemies of civilization as in the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon. They are made skeptical of Israel when it is defending itself but not when its suborned or blackmailed or pressured leaders make concessions to their people's enemies. They are made skeptical of "settlers" when they are Jews but not when they are Arabs seeking to aggrandize themselves, dreaming of returning to a situation as when the Arabs had the biggest empire.
* The first and last pejorative for the real racists in Israel and the rest of the West; the people who think an apartheid based immigration, education, legislative and human rights system is progressive. If you oppose real, quantifiable, institutionalized racism, learn to be denounced as a racist.
Why is it so hard for Obama to get a handle on the Iranian challenge? Hoagland and others are surely partly right that the president is determined to negotiate with Iran. But Obama has made it clear that he sees the elimination of Iran's nuclear problem not as a stand-alone priority but as one part of his Middle East two-step. His inseparable goal is to also push Israel into a peace settlement with the Palestinians. As an unnamed Iran expert in contact with White House officials told Foreign Policy's Laura Rozen, "Obama is dedicated to diplomacy in a manner that is almost ideological. ... He wants to do some stuff in the Middle East over the next eight years. He may not be able to achieve half of them unless he gets this huge piece of the puzzle [Iran] right."
There is nothing "almost" about it.
Related: On the plus side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday extended the tenure of Mossad chief Meir Dagan for an eighth year,
'Today we are witnessing the results of a failed revolution, where egalitarians abolished grammar schools to level opportunity in our society, and accidentally destroyed the chances of the very people they were trying to help,' he said. 'They punished the bright poor kids who were held back. They handicapped the intellectual capacity of the country.
'And out of this catastrophe there was only one winning group. Do you know who they were?
'Yes, the public schools. Who teach just 7 per cent of the population.'
Mr Davis said public school boys now 'run Britain', adding: 'The media, the law, business - they are all dominated by public school boys.'
One wonders what the over/under is on an "egalitarian" having gone to a public school. The consequences of the destruction of the grammar school system may not be as unintentional as Davis believes them to be.
War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions
A high-power chemical laser aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) aircraft has been fired in flight for the first time. Good news for Boeing and the United States Air Force. Now we just have to wait until the People's Liberation Army Air Force produces an economical version for mass production to see how it works.
During the test, ATL took off from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., successfully hitting a target board located on the ground. ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Air Force, is a C-130H aircraft equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors and weapon-system consoles.
"This successful test is a major step toward bringing directed energy capability to the warfighter," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the reaction of the Iranian government to recent street protests in Iran is "wholly unacceptable." Kudos to Mr. Harper especially for having already described the Iranian regime as "obviously evil". But a few words would not comfort me if I were Maziar Bahari, a Canadian journalist working for Newsweek who was disappeared by Iran's police services during the recent troubles.
A trip through the way-back machine to 2008 and Canada's former Prime Minister Jean Chretien may prove instructive. One wonders how much Chretien's little junket earned him.
After all that has happened during the past year, we now have information that the former Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Jean Chrétien, will be traveling to Iran this month as a special advisor to Calgary’s Patrol Gas in order to close a deal with Iran’s national oil company (NIOC). This is a shameful and unacceptable act since Mr. Chrétien was the prime minister of Canada at the time when Ms. Kazemi was murdered. At that time, the Liberal Government promised to bring those who were responsible for that heinous act to justice. It seems that Mr. Chrétien has completely forgotten that a Canadian citizen was tortured and murdered at the hands of the Iranian Regime. The actions of the Liberal Party and Mr. Chrétien go against the respect for democracy and human rights. Canada prides itself on these two issues.
The Czech refusal to allow the Sudeten territories to return to their "rightful" German owners, Hitler prattled, was proof that the Czechs were the intransigent obstacle to peace. For what choice would Germany have but to come to the assistance of its oppressed brethren living under intolerable Czech occupation?
Moreover, the Germans reversed causality, claiming that the Czechs were trying to precipitate a European crisis in order to prevent the breakup of their state, that the choice between war and peace in Europe was in Czech hands, and even that "this petty segment of Europe is harassing the human race."
But there was a simple way to simultaneously avoid war and achieve justice, Hitler said. The Western powers - meaning Britain and France - could force the Czechs to do what was necessary for the sake of peace: Czechoslovakia had to relinquish the "occupied territories."
The British and the French have learned nothing; or rather, their elites are still bent on doing the wrong thing. I pray the Israelis have learned better than to trust them with their land or their lives. That goes double for the Czechs.
I have no idea what is going on in Iran; just an FYI. But it seems to me the Iranian government has had some help from ACORN and Chicago's important Undead-American community as Iran managed more than 100% voter turnout in fifty cities.
Iran's Guardian Council has suggested that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballot in those areas.
"Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.
Only 50 cities. It sounds as though Iran's Guardian Council press representative has been channeling Jennifer Lynch. Call it Canadian Content.
Jennifer Lynch has been making a list and checking it twice stating: I'm sure I have 1,200, certainly several hundred of these things," Referring to blog posts and news reports she claims have misinformed the public about the benevolence of the Thought Police at the CHRC.
My suggestion - file an Access to Information request with the CHRC, instructions below. I'm kinda lookin forward to seeing my own posts redacted in the CHRC's reply.
Several Chinese news sources are claiming the incident took place not off Sudic Bay as CNN reported, nor around the Mindoro Strait as the AP reported, but near the Scarborough Shoals. If you observe the image borrowed from Ken Adams, you can open up Google Earth and see for yourself that while the satellite clearly covers the island, the details of Scarborough Shoals are blurred out... probably for a reason.
The picture in Google Earth is smudged for a reason, and it isn't a bad assumption that the reason is related in some way to the reason a PLA Navy submarine is operating that close to the shoals, or why a US Navy destroyer would be hunting a PLA Navy submarine in that area.
These territorial issues in the South China Sea are no joke. If China has no problem harassing the US Navy over territorial rights, it is a good bet they look at the Philippines with disdain on the issue and will be equally aggressive and provocative... perhaps even more so. As for me, I don't like the lack of transparency from Google Earth in a region we are having naval incidents with the PLA Navy. That just doesn't look right to me.
Thanks to the magic that is "the internet" we can all do our own satellite intelligence from home. Here is a Google Map showing the relative position of Scarborough Shoal with Philippines and China and the Scarborough Shoal Wikipedia entry that meant I did not have to go through the laborious process of typing "Scarborough Shoal" into Google.
There have been some video games which display such explicit violence or sexuality that they have been decried as being too inappropriate for anyone to play. But there has never been a video game produced that is more despicable than XBox 360's "Rendition: Guantanamo," in which the game is "won" by killing American soldiers.
The game is seen through the perspective of a detainee in Guantanamo. The premise of the video game's story is that the facility was sold by the U.S. Government to an agency called Freedom Corp. Before the prisoner is tortured and has scientific experiments performed on him, he escapes and attempts to kill as many of his captors as possible. Points are accumulated for each soldier who is murdered.
The game is indeed seen through the perspective of a detainee in Guantanamo; Moazzam Begg's perspective, to be exact. The game developer hired an al Qaeda trainee who had been held at the facility before his new life as a game consultant.
The case of Abousfian Abdelrazik suggests received wisdom (these days flying "PC" colours) rather than Abdelrazik's human rights - let alone national security - was the impetus for his immanent return to Canada. Still better than received wisdom, naked opportunism explains a total incoherence revealed in the government's position. The state has decided an about face will calm the waters of 905 before a general election and calm waters is what 905 is to have; damn the rest of us.
Here is the government's position - which I defended - now dropped without explanation.
The applicant's UN 1267 listing as an associate of Al-Qaida imposes an obligation on all UN member states to prevent his entry into or transit through their territories. … A state's territories necessarily include its airspace and territorial waters. … It is geographically impossible for the applicant to travel from Sudan to Canada by air, land or sea, without transiting through the sovereign territories (land, airspace or territorial waters) of numerous UN member states, which are bound at international law to prevent such transit.
... the brave lawyers conceded that the UN regulations explicitly allow for a citizen to be repatriated under a no-fly exemption, a fact that would cause any remotely honest human being to conclude that the interpretation they were offering was manifestly ludicrous.
Selley offers an excellent list of questions left unanswered by the government's decision to allow Abdelrazik's return. We have been offered no explanation of how we can meet both the terms of the federal court decision against the government and how we can meet our obligations under international law, given the government's original argument. We have been offered no assurance Abdelrazik's return poses no danger to the public and no red faced apology if the government has belatedly, genuinely decided Abdelrazik represented no danger to the public in the first place.
Pace the wounded dignity, inconvenience and future legal actions of Mr. Abdelrazik, the Canadian public as a whole has reason for concern. Part of our contract with Leviathan includes an understanding the government - and particularly the security services - has access to information withheld from the general public. This being the case, we can sometimes trust the government knows why an individual might turn up on a United Nations "no fly" list even if we - or our court officials - do not.
Given the government's volte face, we can no longer be confident in this assumption so long as Stephen Harper remains in office. Or until the man admits and explains the mistake.
And as difficult for this might be for Abdelrazik as an innocent man, a mistake is what we must now surely hope it was. If not, a known associate of al-Qaeda is about to be feted as a celebrity by Canada's "left". But then they were celebrating al-Qaeda on the afternoon of 9/11; there are precious few new steps to be seen in this kabuki dance at the end of civilization.
Ryan Sager is writing about Barack Obama's (entirely predictable) underbussing of equal rights for gay people. But substitute "Harper" for "Obama" and "freedom of speech" for "gay rights" and the argument should look all too familiar to Canadian conservatives.
But wait til he gets a majority!
Another factor at work is the “false consensus bias.” It’s a shame the things Obama has had to do out of political necessity, you tell yourself, but I know deep down he cares about gay rights and is just “playing a long game” — he’ll do what he can when he can. Deep down, he’s on the same page as me. Of course, this is bull. Experiments have shown that we’re all terrible intuitive psychologists and extremely prone to projecting our views onto others (that is, in the absence of evidence, we assume people think what we do).
He’s against same-sex marriage, defends the Defense of Marriage Act in court, is iffy on ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and isn’t yet prepared to grant health, retirement, or survivor’s benefits to gay couples who work for the feds. But aside from all that, he’s all about the tolerance. I give The One credit here for actually having the elephantine stones to say that the government needs the best possible talent at its disposal while it’s still busy expelling military translators for being gay, and for calling for DOMA’s repeal when he could effectively achieve that on his own by refusing to defend legal challenges to the statute. On the other hand, given the identity politics at stake, there’s no reason for him to grant gays any concession at all. Voting Democrat is what any “authentic” gay person should do, regardless of whether they get anything from it. Just ask a minority voter.
Among Tokyo's sparkling towers and madly busy streets, you get a strong feeling of being in a different universe from ours, a feeling strengthened by the way British mobile phones are not advanced enough to work here, and your cashpoint card is rejected with an almost audible sneer by most Japanese bank machines.
As a Japanese friend said: 'We are on another planet here, the only place that has not globalised.'
A fact that means entries in both the credit and debit columns. Too much to summarize so RTWT if Lost in Translation left you thinking of a move to Tokyo.
Getting rid of discrimination and demanding equal rights with men is the number one priority for women in Tehran
Michael Ledeen makes an interesting aside as he points out - helpfully, in my opinion - that nobody, not even the actors involved, knows what is going on in Iran, how it will turn out or even how key figures want it to turn out. One actor I had not heard of, and whose existence may be a hopeful sign, is Zahra Rahnavard, wife of erstwhile president Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Does Mousavi even want to change the system? I think he does, and in any event, I think that’s the wrong question. He is not a revolutionary leader, he is a leader who has been made into a revolutionary by a movement that grew up around him. The real revolutionary is his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. And the real question, the key question in all of this, is: why did Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei permit her to become such a charismatic figure? How could he have made such a colossal blunder? It should have been obvious that the very existence of such a woman threatened the dark heart of the Islamic Republic, based as it is on the disgusting misogyny of its founder, the Ayatollah Khomeini.
And kudos to The Guardian for getting up the regime's noses. More than could be send of the BBC or, for that matter, the al-Jazeera farm team at the CBC.
Exxon Mobil has decided to join Trans-Canada on Governor Sarah Palin's ambitious Alaska gas pipeline project; a significant step for what is left of American industry.
Obama administration officials who had nothing to do with this, like Energy Secretary Ken Salazar, rushed to claim credit too. What better vote of confidence could there be?
Other doubters had suggested the pipeline could never happen because of a global gas glut, making the pipeline uneconomical. But with the project slated for completion in 2018, and the need for natural gas expected to rise between 20% and 40% by 2030, it's precisely now that such a project should be built.
"I think it's very shortsighted" to assume that "market conditions are going to stay as they are today," Palin told CNN. In an interview with IBD last July when gasoline hit $4 at the pump, she noted that if drilling had started in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge just five years ago, when policymakers were dismissing the idea of $100-a-barrel oil, "we wouldn't be in our predicament today."
The world's leading authority on the neurobiology of the living dead, Dr. Steven C. Schlozman is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a lecturer at the Harvard School of Education. Dr Scholzman has reportedly co-authored a ground breaking work on Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome, or ANSD, which describes zombie brain function.
But to the meat of the issue:
Science may once and for all settle the heated debate over whether "the infected" in 28 Days Later could be classified as zombies.
Schlozman says "no," observing that "the infected" possess "some sort of higher cortical function going on that allows them to hunt humans." Moreover, the fake zombies in 28 Days Later exhibit fluidity of motion. They can run, jump, climb and quickly change direction-activities that the true Romero zombies are incapable of performing.
Allied troops fighting in Afghanistan have long suspected that their Taliban opponents include British-born Muslims. Thick Midlands and Mancunian accents have been picked up from enemy radio signals in the war zone.
But now there is fresh evidence that some of the Taliban were raised in the UK with the revelation that one fighter killed in a battle had an Aston Villa football club tattoo on his body.
First, if the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) had its towed sonar deployed off the coast of the Philippines, then she was actively searching for a submarine. It is not normal behavior for the US Navy to tow around an expensive towed sonar in the littorals off a country with no submarines like the Philippines. That suggests the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) knew there was a Chinese submarine in the area, then deployed the towed sonar, and it was at that time a PLAN submarine hit the sonar.
Second, if the PLAN submarine hit the towed array, it means the submarine was positioning itself behind the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), meaning just like the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) was hunting the submarine, the submarine was hunting the destroyer.
Sunday afternoon entertainment for Flea-readers everywhere. First, this rather excellent James May interview.
If May's continual bickering with Clarkson seems like an unhappy marriage on-screen, he says it's even worse off-screen. Filming the famous episode where they drove a Toyota across sea ice to the North Pole, they had blazing rows the entire way about the music coming out of Clarkson's iPod.
It wasn't that May dislikes King Crimson, Yes and Genesis - although he wishes Clarkson's tastes extended to The Stooges or Guns N' Roses - it was that Clarkson likes to talk over music, whereas May likes to listen to it. The pair argued almost constantly - until they almost went through the ice.
'That was the most scared we've ever been. Every muscle in my body was primed for death. There was a hammer in the car for breaking the window in the event of going under, and I'd loosened it so that I could free it with one finger. I was rehearsing it in my mind - "If we go through the ice, I'll do that, that and that to free myself, grab Jeremy if necessary..."
Second, this Top Gear polar special.
In which the English demonstrate they do not understand quite how dangerous is the winter.
Personally, I blame J Michael Straczynski. Back in the early 1990s, Straczynski, or JMS as fans know him, created Babylon 5. When it was first shown on Channel 4, it looked like a science-fiction series about a space station. The CGI was a bit shonky, but it passed the time.
Inexorably, though, it became clear that JMS, a control freak who wrote 92 of the show's 110 episodes himself, had an overarching vision. It involved a portentous brew of big themes – politics, destiny, war, peace, love. If you tried to start watching Babylon 5 with series three, you were left hopelessly confused.
Which is to confuse a story told over five episodes and a story told over five years (or, for B5, 4 years +). Comments to the piece point out there would not have been much Doctor Who if the show had been strictly episodic.
16-year-old Ben Kinsella was knifed to death for "showing disrespect" to three street thugs, since convicted. Now a north London crime family - the aptly named "Adams family" - have reportedly put a price on the heads of his murderers causing them to fear for their lives despite enjoying the shelter of Her Majesty's prison system.
If a London crime family is no longer convinced the Crown is willing or able to uphold the law - let alone justice - on the streets of the capital we should not be surprised. A north London crime family is still a family and consequently unwilling to sit by as the British Establishment steers what is left of British civilization on to the rocks.
Leviathan may sleep but there will be law, albeit the rule of King Mob.
Update: Ric Locke comments by email. Kudos to the State of Nature; Flea comment system chastised. Emphasis added.
Heh. Something brewing, all right.
An organization which keeps order by using violence is a Government -- that's the /definition/.
The one place where I depart most strenuously from Thomas Paine is what happens to "men in a state of Nature". They'll evolve a Government, all right, but they won't do it by consensus or rational methods such as election. The biggest, baddest mofo who can also collect the biggest coterie of assistant big bad mofos rules.
At the moment, and for all practical purposes, Britain doesn't have a Government, since the members of the organization so styled refuse to use force to maintain order. It is not at all surprising to find big bad mofos assembling in groups to fill the vacuum.
(I note that you have boobytrapped TypePad, apparently to discourage comments. This was worth comment anyway. If you'd like to post it publicly, feel free)
(I can only plead guilty. The crankier TypePad gets; the happier I am.)
China on Thursday rejected suggestions that incursions by its troops into the Indian territory were on the rise, and cautioned India that any move to increase troop presence along the disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh “would only lead to a rivalry between the two countries.”
Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.J. Singh said earlier this week that two Army divisions of around 30,000 soldiers each would be deployed along the disputed border as part of a “planned augmentation of [India’s] capabilities to defend the country.” Mr. Singh’s statement followed reported claims from officials that Chinese incursions into Indian territory had become more frequent in the past one year.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters on Thursday that China “cannot accept such an allegation.”
Nor keep its story straight. A Chinese news source belittles India's influence and makes vague threats.
Indian politicians these days seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favor simply by not joining the “ring around China” established by the US and Japan.
India’s growing power would have a significant impact on the balance of this equation, which has led India to think that fear and gratitude for its restraint will cause China to defer to it on territorial disputes.
But this is wishful thinking, as China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully with India, this desire isn’t born out of fear.
An £8 million cafe perched atop Mount Snowdon is the UK's highest cafe, replacing a 1935 construction Prince Charles described as "the highest slum in Wales."
Five years ago the authority decided to commit the equivalent of its entire annual budget into the one project to redevelop the site. The resulting granite structure, called Hafod Eryri, has been built to withstand the extreme weather conditions for which the mountain is famous, and even has a glass wall offering a 'window on the world'.
The name of the building was chosen from hundreds of entries from members of the public. Eryri means Snowdonia but Hafod which is an old Welsh term for a shepherd's summer residence on high land has no direct translation.
It is an impressive structure but could do with a massive beacon or possibly monumental images of forgotten kings for the finishing Tolkien touch.
Construction enthusiasts will enjoy the many images of work in progress at Snowdon Summit Blog.
Remains of fifty headless bodies near Maiden Castle may be evidence of Vespasian's march to the sea. Or high spirits. Taking heads was a bit of a local pass time with the British before the Romans turned up.
The burial site is close to Maiden Castle - Europe's largest Iron Age hill fort where the local Celtic tribe are said to have staged their last stand against General Vespasian and his Roman legion after the invasion.
Vespasian led a force south-westwards for Emperor Claudius. His aim was to secure coastal ports and harbours, as well as tin and silver mines in Cornwall and Somerset. Along the way, he captured 20 hill forts - including Maiden Castle, according to archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler.
May it offer an alternative to oil. May it deliver us from evil.
A startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel, called HCL-Cleantech has reinvented a century-old process called the Bergius process as a much cheaper method to produce ethanol from biomass. The process uses concentrated hydrochloric acid (HCL) to breakdown biomass into sugars but has been too expensive for commercial use. The company, however, says that it has developed a way to recycle 42 percent of the HCL, pumping it back into the system and significantly reducing the cost of making ethanol.
DefenseTech argues fear over China's growing military prowess at sea are misplaced. It is not much of an argument, frankly, though I am glad to see they noticed the number "55" in China's diesel-electric submarine column.
The one category in which the Chinese Navy does pose a potential threat to the U.S. Navy -- in this writer's opinion -- is in non-nuclear submarines. The Chinese Navy has modern, Russian-built Kilo (Project 877EKM) submarines as well indigenous-built diesel-electric submarines. An Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarine program is underway.
The U.S. Navy's ability to detect these craft, especially in littoral areas is limited. This was demonstrated for two years when the U.S. Navy operated against a Swedish AIP submarine, the Gotland, "loaned" for anti-submarine exercises. According to the Swedish officers, the U.S. carrier battle groups operating against the Gotland off the southern California coast invariably failed to locate the craft.
Although the transition to the new SSBN is ongoing, recent Internet photos depicting at least two Jin SSBNs suggest that China has reached an unprecedented level of confidence in the sea-based leg of its strategic nuclear forces. Indeed, China's 2008 Defense White Paper states that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is enhancing its "nuclear counterattack" capability. With the introduction of the DF-31 and DF-31A road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and the JL-2 missiles on Jin SSBNs, China is thus on the verge of achieving a credible nuclear deterrent based on a survivable second-strike capability.
Last night's Luminato event An Evening with Neil Gaiman sold out in three minutes. It also most probably resulted in elevated atmospheric estrogen levels in the greater Toronto area; hardly surprising for a city Gaiman calls "his first girlfriend".
Gaiman also name-checks Toronto as one of the first places where he was recognized on the street, and he credits Markham St. comic book store The Beguiling with helping him start doing author readings in the first place.
"The very first public reading I did was organized by The Beguiling, the Toronto comics store in ... I think it was about 1992. They basically said we'd like you to come up and do an event for the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.
"They had this big old church hall and they sold tickets for it, and I remember I was terrified at the idea that I was going to do this thing. And I did it anyway, because they asked, and I walked out of there going, `Oh my God, I can do this.' And all of the reading tours I've done, they all go back to that one I did in Toronto."
By turns inspiring and irritating, Gaiman is one of those people whose example makes it manifestly obvious I am not working hard enough.
Though on balance I have to credit the fellow. Judging by my ongoing longitudinal correlational study of the subject, Gaiman attracts the kind of women who are attracted to me and who, by happy coincidence, also tend to be the kind of women to whom I am attracted (a characteristic he shares with Trent Reznor, in just a moment it will be clear why I am bringing him up).
Pro tip for single men attending this sort of event: You are the remora. Gaiman is the shark.
I do not have much to add to the Toronto Star piece (linked above). I am only publishing these observations as a segue to pointing out I got to hear Neil Gaiman read from his new Newbery Medal-winning The Graveyard Book whilst Agent Bedhead was cleaning her ceiling fans in Tulsa.
Which is a shame really because I think she would have got more out of it than I did.
Related: Toronto is the world's 4th most livable city, apparently. Which would explain my natural zest. Also, vim.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported on Monday that China had increased its arms spending by 10 percent as Beijing commenced building a new range of highly sophisticated nuclear submarines, stealth warships, new generation of fighter planes and communications technology.
The French now spend more on arms than the British, btw. Which is just as well. Arms spending leads to members of the British armed forces smoking on television.
We will only win this thing if we stop paying the enemy to fight us
As a matter of law (and conscience), Pakistan does not consider al Qaeda a terrorist organization. Congratulations to the Bush administration for pissing away billions of dollars and a far greater expense in lost time and effort.
... eight years after 9/11, Pakistan is yet to declare Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation. Is this sheer, shocking negligence or is there something more sinister to it? Does one require any more evidence to show that Pakistan's so-called war against terrorism is a farce?
He was a convicted criminal, released much too early from a ludicrously brief prison sentence, and then ‘monitored’ so feebly that he received nothing more than a ‘verbal warning’ for tying up and threatening a couple. Now, if only he’d defended his home from louts with an air pistol, or made a ‘homophobic’ remark, he’d have been led away to the cells by grim-jawed jailers. But tying people up and threatening them? In that case, you need help from your social worker.
Now, when did you ever vote for this feeble treatment of criminals? That’s right. You didn’t. The arrogant parasites of New Labour and Blue Labour, who run this country by turns, decided it without asking you, as they decide everything else.
Most interesting for Americans and Canadians are we watch our media distort and undermine the electoral system: "Tory" leader David Cameron is up to his ears in the expenses scandal, not that the BBC cares to let anyone know.
... the Roman Republic's experience hints at an even more profound danger. The political tasks flowing from the growing demands of the republic's empire were of a magnitude and type that could not be managed by its form of government. However, the Roman Republic was prepared neither to give up its growing empire nor to modify its government to deal with such challenges.
In Rome, eventually a contradiction arose between Romans' concern for the tasks that needed to be performed and their concern for their form of government. The contradiction was resolved and the problems solved at the price of their republic: Came Gaius Julius Caesar.
Next up in the Alinsky playbook: Calls for the 22nd Amendment to be repealed so BHO can save the Republic from the crisis he and his fellow travelers have instigated.
On Thursday the film’s director, Ridley Scott, announced that a new division of his commercials company, RSA Films, was working on a video series called “Purefold.” The series of linked 5- to 10-minute shorts, aimed first at the Web and then perhaps television, will be set at a point in time before 2019, when the Harrison Ford movie takes place in a dystopian Los Angeles.
Don't get too excited: The production does not have the rights to the 1982 film or the PKD book upon which it is (loosely) based. It will instead be based on the themes explored by Blade Runner. So... not Blade Runner.
Which is just as well, actually. I would like to be able to watch one film from my childhood without feeling as though I am being molested by George Lucas.
The statesmanlike course for Gordon Brown is to go to the country. But it would be naïve to suppose that this heroic fantasist will do any such thing. If he did, he might earn the British people's gratitude for the manner of his departure. Otherwise, he will be subjected to their anger and bitterness as we are forced to suffer another year of bungling and paralysis like the last.
It was probably inevitable that, after 12 years of office, the Labour Government should have run out of road. But the sheer indignity and chaos of this administration's predicament defies belief. Gordon Brown has lost control, and it seems fanciful to suppose he can ever get it back. The British people deserve to be delivered from a regime that has become ridiculous.
As President Barack Obama departed for a trip to the Middle Easton on Wednesday, a fresh poll suggests that only one in five Americans has a favourable view of Muslim countries. That compares with 46 percent of the people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp survey who say they have an unfavourable opinion of Muslim countries. That’s up five percent from 2002. Three in 10 say they have a neutral opinion of Muslim countries. The poll also suggests that most Americans suspect people in Muslim countries do not think highly of the United States.
And then 9/11 happened. And now I’m reaching the book and why I wrote the book. I was scared to come out of my house because it was so personal for me. When I saw those twin towers burning and I saw those people holding hands and jumping from those buildings and what America meant to me, in my heart, what a beautiful country and those towers represented freedom to me. They represented something so beautiful; they represented progress; they represented multiculturalism, the success of different creeds and different religions and different colors of people all in one building and they represented prosperity and freedom.
Who would want to destroy these towers? I was scared to walk out of my house because it was so personal to me that I have a lot of leftist friends and acquaintances and I could already predict what was going to come out of their mouths. I wasn’t ready for it but I ventured outside and then I got what I expected. You know, “Oh, the United States, you know, they really had this coming to them.” And, you know, “The Americans are really mediaizing this.” I’m not even sure what it even means that the United States was mediaizing 9/11, but you know the different tactics that are used by the Left. And so there was a cheer, there was a glee. There was this feeling amongst the Left that the oppressed and the downtrodden had finally struck back. Finally the United States got its just rewards.
I knew many leftists who were devastated by the fall of the Soviet Union. These people were devastated. I can think of about five of them off the top of my head who, from 1991, walked around like the life had been taken out of them. And a couple of them complained to me, “There’s no alternative to capitalism anymore.” And then 9/11 gave them their lives back. Their chins were up, their chests were out. Finally something was happening again for them and I knew something was very wrong.
Too depressing to summarize in detail: The Dutch establishment has rigged the outcome of the next "parliament" and in so doing protected itself from the electorate and - for a short spell - from history.
Our American readers will find this hard to believe, but the electoral system in the Netherlands has been devised to ensure that new or small parties will not be able to win more than 20% of the seats in the Dutch Parliament. Indeed, Dutch law forbids new parties and parties which currently hold less than 16 of the 150 seats in Parliament to put forward more than 30 candidates for parliament.
As a consequence, a significant result for Geert Wilders' Freedom Party will contribute seats to its electoral opponents and guarantee continued government by a losing party. Read the whole thing for the math.
The SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) twitterfeed has announced David Eddings has died. Fiction Matters comments.
Mr. Eddings introduced many people to fantasy literature, himself inspired to do so by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Eddings, who bore the distinction of always writing his books out long hand, was quite frank about the position of his books - there to make reading fun for people. He noted in an interview with Reed Magazine that once readers were no longer challenged by his books that they were free to then move onto “somebody important like Homer or Milton.”
If Leviathan is not up to the job, the people will find another monster to replace it
Edwin Dyer's experience of Tuareg culture, music, crafts and sport was capped off by an old fashioned Tuareg kidnapping, ransom demands and beheading. Such are the holiday expectations of a British tourist less than a decade after 9/11.
'I utterly condemn this appalling and barbaric act of terrorism,' Mr Brown said. ...
In his statement today Mr Brown warned Mr Dyer's killers: 'This tragedy reinforces our commitment to confront terrorism. It strengthens our determination never to concede to the demands of terrorists, nor to pay ransoms. I want those who would use terror against British citizens to know beyond doubt that we and our allies will pursue them relentlessly, and that they will meet the justice they deserve.'
Mr Brown sent his condolences to the family of Mr Dyer, and said they would be offered 'every possible support'.
I do not believe the British Prime Minister. I do not believe Dyer's family will be supported in any meaningful way. I do not believe Dyer's murderers have anything whatsoever to fear from this government, from British justice or from Her Majesty's armed forces.
My only question is what happens to civil society once the majority of my fellow citizens reach the same conclusion.
Ah, supply and demand, one of the myriad simple economic laws that for some reason appear to exist beyond the grasp of an Obama administration chock full of Harvard graduates and Nobel laureates: When supply outstrips demand, prices fall. The burgeoning surfeit of Treasury securities is beginning to overwhelm the demand for them, so the price goes down and the yield rises. This will make it even more expensive, of course, to kite this bacchanalia of government growth, influence, and power over its citizens. So investors shun and abandon long-term paper, with its open-ended inflation exposure, and seek safe haven in short-term securities. That’s how the yield curve steepens.
On the plus side: At about this time in 1976, Ronald Reagan was a figure of fun, some dimwit extremist Republican governor. If only we had one of those in the wings...
Edmund Burke is suppose to have coined the term Fourth Estate, referring to the print media of his era. The emergence of electronic broadcasting earned it, in some quarters, the title of the Fifth Estate, which was also a long running investigative program on CBC. The modern welfare state, avaricious in its demands, often exceeds the tax base of its citizenry. To make up for the shortfall the state turns to global capital markets and the printing press. Memories of Stagflation are still fresh enough to make inflating away the fiscal crisis, in effect a form of taxation, a unpalatable first choice. When President Clinton attempted to spend his way out of the recession of the early 1990s, he was rewarded with a Republican Congress and rapidly increasing yields on government securities. The global bond market balked as his spendthrift ways and earned the sobriquet of "bond market vigilantes." They seem to be repeating the trick today. Acting like a Sixth Estate of government, checking the fiscal recklessness of the legislative and executive branches. As President Obama finds it more and more difficult to finance his massive government expansion, he will be forced to abandon his plans - unlikely - or resort to monetizing the deficit. Getting yourself into bricks and mortar right now would be a good idea.
Labour in third place behind UKIP and the Tories, for the first time
Now curious to learn the over/under on "British" Establishment political parties banning their opposition before it has the chance to take office. A Committee on Public Security should do the trick.
The overall general election standings put the Conservatives on 41 per cent, up two percentage points since the Populus poll this month, Labour on 21 per cent – down five points – and the Liberal Democrats on 15 per cent, down seven points. But a different picture emerges when people were asked how they will vote on Thursday.
The Conservatives drop four points to 30 per cent, compared with the poll three weeks ago. Labour drops nine points to 16 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats fall eight points to 12 per cent. UKIP are the beneficiaries, rising 13 points to 19 per cent, ahead of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Greens rise to 10 per cent, and the BNP is up three points at 5 per cent.
Matt Patterson may be more of a downer than I am with his prognostications of a bloody century ahead. He offers four short scenarios that will only read like science fiction until the moment someone decides to implement them.
Small wonder we are condemned to repeat this sort of thing. We have created a world where casual speculation about genocide elicits less outrage than the emotional well-being of reality show contestants.
1) The mad mullahs of Iran gain a nuclear weapon and follow through on their threat to erase the Jewish state from the map. The Iranians see weakness in the West and foresee minimal retaliation. Perhaps they are wrong in this calculus; either way, seven million souls vanish from the planet and the West is complicit in another Holocaust.
2) Russia, seeing no push back from its invasion of Georgia and seeing the United States all but renounce its missile defenses, begins to swallow its former slave states — Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, et al — one by one. It shuts off fuel supplies to Western Europe and blackmails them into accepting this Soviet-light expansionism.
3) European society, no longer under any credible American protection and threatened from without by the encroaching Russia and from within by its increasingly violent immigrant population, crumbles. As has happened so often in the past, a dictator steps in to restore order.
4) Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, segments of the American population resist the sudden and convulsive socialization of their republic — peacefully first, then more forcefully. China refuses to buy any more of our debt, and trillion dollar deficits finally overwhelm the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen. The U.S. economy fails, dragging the entire world down into depression, sparking global violence and chaos. China moves on Taiwan and the North Koreans push south, both confident that the United States is in no position to stop them.
I dimly remember a time when beheading and crucifixion were symbols of a barbaric, dimly remembered time. Criticize either practice too closely these days and you are liable to end up in front of a "human rights" commission. Change.
One of the proofs that Canadians are indeed rather stupid, is that we will stand for this sort of thing: that people who themselves face penury in old age, will agree to have their pockets picked to cover $70-an-hour auto-workers. And then actually vote at the next election for the politicians who robbed them.
Best of all are "conservative" politicians who imagine $1.4m a head will be enough to swing auto worker votes away from the NDP.
Various species of Cystoidea, extinct allies of the starfish
Sean Michael Ragan argues that plate 90 of Earnst Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature lithographs has had an "extremely broad-reaching influence on the imagination of alien and other-worldly life in the twentieth century."
The place of Earnst Haeckel's beautiful lithographs Kunstformen der Natur ("Art Forms in Nature") in the history of science and art is well-documented. More particularly, the influence of Haeckel's illustrations on foundational American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft has also been thoroughly established. However, while perusing the 1976 Dover edition of Haeckel's prints recently, I was struck by the particular significance of Haeckel's plate number 90, which is reproduced at the top of this page. The English caption accompanying the plate in my edition reads, "Various species of Cystoidea, extinct allies of the starfish."
Amir Taheri suggests England may be on the verge of a revolution. It is wrong, however, to assume this is primarily a result of the recent economic crisis.
Nevertheless, like all Marxists, Plekhanov was wrong in assuming the primacy of economic factors. Revolutions do not happen because of economic crises or even widespread poverty. Revolutions happen when a system suffers a major loss of political legitimacy.
This is precisely what has happened to the British political elite. The loss of legitimacy started wit the loss of credibility. The average citizen could not understand why his rulers did not know what was going on in the global economy or, if they knew, why they did not inform him.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did not help either. Many Britons feel they should not have remained involved in two distant wars for such a long time. Some believe that the performance of the British military in the latter stages of the Iraq war was marked by incompetence and cowardice.
Will the expenses scandal the straw that broke the camel's back.