Monday Funnies 04/30/07
The Dems are desperate to have us fail. But even Iraqis who don't want Americans there are now supporting the troop surge. Why? Find out here:
A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.
The eldest son of the former Shah of Iran insists that not only is a military attack on Iran unwise, but he also says there is a better way; enlist the help of the Iranian people inside Iran.
[...] Mr. Pahlavi easily grasps what the rest of the international community refuses to understand or to acknowledge.In case anyone thinks he's a dreamer, Pahlavi offers further evidence to support his views, it's worth reading the whole thing.
"There is no incentive that we can give the Islamic Republic to stand down," he told me over Memorial Day weekend. "They need to do what they're doing, first and foremost because this is a totalitarian system. It has to keep the mood on the streets in its favor by continuing this process. If they are using the slogan of enrichment as a tool to keep these people mobilized, the minute they concede, they will lose their entire praetorian guard. Therefore there's no way that they are going to concede on that point."
The threat of sanctions or the promise of aid won't budge the regime either, he says. "There is no economic incentive that you can throw at them, because you are not dealing with a conventional state, in the sense that it is ultimately accountable and responsible and cares about the citizens living in that boundary. It's not the welfare of the people that matters to them. They can send $100 million to Hamas in Palestine when people are starving on the streets of Iran. They could care less about their economic status, so long as they can fuel their own war machine.
"You cannot even offer them a security guarantee, they don't care. For them, war is a gift from God. [President] Ahmadinejad is talking about Armageddon. He's talking about paving the way for the reemergence of the 12th imam, which is coming back to the planet to bring back stability and peace after major cataclysm. They really believe that."
Until that happens, the prospect of negotiations with the U.S. is a little godsend for the regime, Mr. Pahlavi explains. Iran's rulers can say, "Look at us! We're standing against the Great Satan . . . and guess what? We have brought them to their knees, we have brought them to the table."
As for Tehran's end game, that's simple: "Ultimately, what is the grand prize for them? They would like to achieve something the Soviets never could--the control of the Middle East. The economic lifeline of the Western world. By encircling the Persian Gulf, by institutionalizing themselves, with their proxies operating everywhere, and in a fait accompli-type scenario, force the world to reckon with them. Naturally, if they ultimately get the bomb, their deterrent will be even more dangerous."
And yet a solution to all of this is percolating up today, Mr. Pahlavi says, and it's coming from the Iranian people. In fact, he insists, in dealing with a belligerent Tehran, "there is only one thing that the outside world can do, and that is to tell the regime: 'We are serious about supporting the people who are inside Iran who are against you.' That is the only thing that will make Mr. Khamenei [Iran's supreme leader] and everybody stand down. Because nothing else ruffles them. The only thing they are really scared of are the people themselves."
Peaceful revolutions from within have worked before, so why, he asks, isn't the West investing in the Iranian people--"the same way they supported so many movements in Eastern Europe that ultimately brought down communist governments that were under Moscow's umbrella?" Dissidents are everywhere, in the universities, workplaces, the conventional armed forces, he adds: "There are thousands of cells . . . each trying to bring as much pressure as they can--but with very limited resources. Imagine the cumulative weight of all these resistance groups in a civil disobedience act--nonviolent, we don't believe in violent change--that could begin sustained pressure to the point of paralyzing the system until it would collapse." [...]
From the MEMRI Blog:
The film, which was supposed to be part of a PBS series, cost taxpayers more than $600,000. Now after spending that money making it, PBS is not going to show it, because they have decided it is "one-sided" and "alarmist." Here are some excerpts from an article at CNSNews.com:
[...] "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," a 52-minute, taxpayer-funded documentary, was originally slated to be screened as part of an 11-part PBS series called "America at a Crossroads," examining post-9/11 challenges facing the nation.
The series began airing for the first time last week on WETA, the Washington, D.C., PBS affiliate, but "Islam vs. Islamists" has been dropped from the lineup.
Hollywood veteran Martyn Burke of ABG films co-produced the film with Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, and Gaffney's CSP colleague Alex Alexiev, who specializes in Islamic extremism.
The film, which cost more than $600,000 to produce, focuses on conflicts that have erupted within the Muslim community in the U.S., Canada, Denmark and France.
Burke told the audience that PBS and WETA advisors and producers had objected to the participation of conservatives Gaffney and Alexiev. A "bitter fight" ensued over the content of the film, and the PBS/WETA criticisms became increasingly "hysterical," he said.
"PBS is doing what the Islamists are doing," Burke charged. "They are silencing these people [Muslim moderates]."
The producers said PBS replaced their film with another one, "The Muslim Americans," which Gaffney called "a triumph for the Islamists," saying it promoted a perspective in line with that of America's enemies. For his part, Alexiev claimed that the replacement film paints a "fawning portrait" of U.S. organizations with extremist ties. [...]
[...] In his speech Monday, Mr. Reid claimed that "nothing has changed" since the surge began taking effect in February. It's true that the car bombings and U.S. casualties continue, and may increase. But such an enemy counterattack was to be expected, aimed as it is directly at the Democrats in Washington. The real test of the surge is whether it can secure enough of the population to win their cooperation and gradually create fewer safe havens for the terrorists.
So far, the surge is meeting that test, even before the additional troops Mr. Bush ordered have been fully deployed. Between February and March sectarian violence declined by 26%, according to Gen. William Caldwell. Security in Baghdad has improved sufficiently to allow the government to shorten its nightly curfew. Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been politically marginalized, which explains his apparent departure from Iraq and the resignation of his minions from Mr. Maliki's parliamentary coalition--a sign that moderate Shiites are gaining strength at his expense.
More significantly, most Sunni tribal sheikhs are now turning against al Qaeda and cooperating with coalition and Iraqi forces. What has turned these sheikhs isn't some grand "political solution," which Mr. Reid claims is essential for Iraq's salvation. They've turned because they have tired of being fodder for al Qaeda's strategy of fomenting a civil war with a goal of creating a Taliban regime in Baghdad, or at least in Anbar province. The sheikhs realize that they will probably lose such a civil war now that the Shiites are as well-armed as the insurgents and prepared to be just as ruthless. Their best chance for survival now lies with a democratic government in Baghdad. The political solution becomes easier the stronger Mr. Maliki and Iraqi government forces are, and strengthening both is a major goal of the surge.
By contrast, Mr. Reid's strategy of withdrawal will only serve to enlarge the security vacuum in which Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents have thrived. That's also true of what an American withdrawal will mean for the broader Middle East. Mr. Reid says that by withdrawing from Iraq we will be better able to take on al Qaeda and a nuclear Iran. But the reality (to use Mr. Reid's new favorite word) is that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and if we lose there we will only make it harder to prevail in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Countries do not usually win wars by losing their biggest battles. [...]
[...] "Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life."
Gliese 581 is among the closest stars to us, just 20.5 light years away (about 120 trillion miles) in the constellation Libra. It is so dim it can be seen only with a good telescope.
It has a mass five times that of Earth, probably made of the same sort of rock as makes up our world and with enough gravity to hold a substantial atmosphere.
Astrobiologists - scientists who study the possibility of alien life - refer to a climate known as the Goldilocks Zone, where it is not so cold that water freezes and not so hot that it boils, but where it can lie on the planet's surface as a liquid.
The surface gravity is probably around twice that of the Earth and the atmosphere could be similar to ours.
Although the new planet is in itself very Earth-like, its solar system is about as alien as could be imagined. The star at the centre - Gliese 581 - is small and dim, only about a third the size of our Sun and about 50 times cooler.
The two other planets are huge, Neptune-sized worlds called Gliese 581b and d (there is no "a", to avoid confusion with the star itself).
The Earth-like planet orbits its sun at a distance of only six million miles or so (our Sun is 93 million miles away), travelling so fast that its "year" only lasts 13 of our days.
The parent star would dominate the view from the surface - a huge red ball of fire that must be a spectacular sight.
It is difficult to speculate what - if any - life there is on the planet. If there is life there it would have to cope with the higher gravity and solar radiation from its sun.
Just because Gliese 581c is habitable does not mean that it is inhabited, but we do know its sun is an ancient star - in fact, it is one of the oldest stars in the galaxy, and extremely stable. If there is life, it has had many billions of years to evolve.
This makes this planet a prime target in the search for life. According to Seth Shostak, of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in California, the Gliese system is now a prime target for a radio search. 'We had actually looked at this system before but only for a few minutes. We heard nothing, but now we must look again.'
By 2020 at least one space telescope should be in orbit, with the capability of detecting signs of life on planets orbiting nearby stars. If oxygen or methane (tell-tale biological gases) are found in Gliese 581c's atmosphere, this would be good circumstantial evidence for life.
Dr Malcolm Fridlund, a European Space Agency scientist, said the discovery of Gliese 581c was "an important step" on the road to finding life. [...]
405: The Movie
When I lived in San Francisco, I worked in the security business for 12 years. I remember having to deal with a lot of mentally disturbed people, many of them homeless.
[...] Diagnosis from afar is the purview of talk-shows hosts and other charlatans, and I will not attempt to detail the psyche of the Virginia Tech slaughterer. But I will hazard that much of what has been reported about his pre-massacre behavior--prolonged periods of asocial mutism and withdrawal, irrational anger and hatred, bizarre writing and speech--is not at odds with the picture of a fulminating, serious mental disease. And his age falls squarely within the most common period when psychosis blossoms.
No one who knew him seems surprised by what he did. On the contrary, dorm chatter characterized him explicitly as a future school-shooter. One of his professors, the poet Nikki Giovanni, saw him as a disruptive bully and kicked him out of her class. Other teachers viewed him as disturbed and referred him for the ubiquitous "counseling"--an outcome that is ambiguous to the point of meaninglessness and akin to "treatment" for a patient with metastasized cancer.
But even that minimal care wasn't given. The shooter didn't want it and no one tried to force him to get it. While it's been reported that he was involuntarily committed to a "Behavioral Health Center" in December 2005, those reports also say he was released the very next morning. Even if the will to segregate an obvious menace had been in place, the legal mechanisms to provide even temporary "warehousing" were absent. The rest is terrible history.
That is not to say that anyone who pens violence-laden poetry or lets slip the occasional hostile remark should be protectively incarcerated. But when the level of threat rises to college freshmen and faculty prophesying accurately, perhaps we should err on the side of public safety rather than protect individual liberty at all costs.
If the Virginia Tech shooter had been locked up for careful observation in a humane mental hospital, the worst-case scenario would've been a minor league civil liberties goof: an unpleasant semester break for an odd and hostile young misanthrope who might've even have learned to be more polite. Yes, it's possible confinement would've been futile or even stoked his rage. But a third outcome is also possible: Simply getting a patient through a crisis point can prevent disaster, as happens with suicidal people restrained from self-destruction who lose their enthusiasm for repeat performances.
At the very least, in a better world, time spent on psychiatric watch could've been used to justify placing the Virginia killer on a no-buy gun list. I'm not naïve enough to believe that illegal firearms aren't within reach for anyone who really wants them, but just as loud dogs deter burglars and crime rates drop during harsh weather, sometimes making life difficult for a would-be criminal is enough. [...]
Labels: conservative political cartoons
This photo is from an article by Stephen Ornes at Discover Magazine:
The blogosphere is the most explosive social network you’ll never see. Recent studies suggest that nearly 60 million blogs exist online, and about 175,000 more crop up daily (that’s about 2 every second). Even though the vast majority of blogs are either abandoned or isolated, many bloggers like to link to other Web sites. These links allow analysts to track trends in blogs and identify the most popular topics of data exchange. Social media expert Matthew Hurst recently collected link data for six weeks and produced this plot of the most active and interconnected parts of the blogosphere. [...]The article goes on to break the map down into six major groupings. Large white dots represent popular websites. Number one is the DailyKos. Number 4 is Michelle Malkin. See the whole article for the others and the explanations of what it all means.
All-or-nothing solutions like banning guns or drugs don't work
[...] There's nothing wrong with most of these drugs. Anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft have helped millions of people cope with depression. They are useful tools when used for adults who do not have severe mental disorders but they are no good for kids with serious problems.
The only solution is to identify sociopaths at an early age when it becomes obvious that they are anti-social, write hideous blood-thirsty plays and poems and kill cats. At that point they need to be put on anti-psychotic drugs not anti-depressants and, if the anti-psychotics don't curb their sociopathic behavior, then they need to locked up in loony bins. [...]
[...] Consider the shootings in Germany in 2002, or the shootings in Scotland in 1996. (I apologize for not mentioning the Osaka school massacre of 2001 that left eight dead, but that was performed with a knife.) Our international critics should inquire as to why schools are always attacked by predatory psychos, regardless of how strict the firearm regulations are, as opposed to, let us say, police departments. Do this nonsense in a shopping mall and you will find citizens firing back, which is why shopping mall slaughters are unheard of. Universities like Virginia Tech, ironically, are gun free zones. A lot of good that does.
[...] I'll be on alone with O'Reilly to discuss how the Imus firing is really the beginning of what the left hopes will be an ideological purging (silencing) of talk radio.
Keep in mind, Imus is not a 'conservative,' but he is also not a leftist. I see this attack on Imus very much like the attempt by Establishment Left to purge Lieberman (and what he represents) from the Democratic Party--there is indeed an ideological war going on, and even before the leftist gestapos out there feel they can turn to silencing conservatives, they have to purge their own house of liberals who don't pledge allegiance to the leftist worldview. It's why I get attacked by the left for not being a "real" Democrat and why Imus was one of the first on their Hit List to go.
It's very Maoist, and very dangerous unless we all speak up. I think we're a nation which can handle being occasionally offended, and can have that discussion socially. Yet, under the guise of protecting the apparently freakishly vulnerable and sensitive ears of minorities, we're being asked to punish and destroy only those who dare to question and decry leftism, issue dissent and cause a politically incorrect ruckus (the two usually go together). All of us would prefer a world where certain phrases aren't even considered as part of the social debate, but what this is really about is how far you are willing to be manipulated, in the name of 'decency', to allow and accept Stalinistic control over what can and cannot be heard.
For those who think this is about decency across the board, when Jesse "Hymie Town" Jackson and Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton call for the firing of Rosie "Ching-Chong" O'Donnell, then you'll have a point. But you won't because she's a loyal moonbat and has 'protection' to say whatever the hell she wants. Ching-chong to you, too.
In the meantime, it's safe to say this has nothing to do with "decency" and everything to do with ideology and the leftist politics of purging those who are unafraid and cannot be controlled. [...]
Of course the V-Tech shootings are the main news topic today. And with this tragic story are more calls for gun control.
This is undoubtedly the worst school shooting, high school, college or otherwise, in the history of our country. There are some facts, however, about some of these school shootings of which you probably are not aware. Do you know, for instance, that at least three shootings in high schools were stopped by civilians with guns? Civilians, not law enforcement. In one case a civilian was traveling past a school when he saw children running from the building. One told him that there was a student inside shooting people. The civilian pulled his gun, ran in side, and confronted the student. The student put down the gun and surrendered. In another case a high school vice-principal heard that there was a student in the hallways with a gun. He sprinted a half-mile to his car. He had a gun in his car so he had to park off campus. He then sprinted back with the gun to confront the student. Lives saved.
There have been many other cases where civilians with guns have prevented further carnage at the hands of killers. The media isn't fond of reporting these episodes because they don't contribute to the cause of gun control.
The point here is that you are never ever going to get the guns out of the hands of those who want to use them for carnage. Never. In all the years of press releases and statements from the Brady anti-gun organization there has never been one single gun control plan presented that would take the guns out of the hands of criminals. This is the oddity of gun control. Only law abiding people are going to abide by gun control laws. Criminals are not. The anti-gun lobby, and that includes much of the media, will never give any fair coverage at all to the people who use guns to save their own lives, or the lives of others.
[...] This in and of itself acknowledges that not only do gun laws not keep the innocent safe, they do not keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
Let's get real here - the only thing that would increase the survival odds for the law-abiding public is if they were able to shoot back at any maniac shooting at them. [...]
Belly dancer Margo Caliphian: Once I was invited to a party, I saw a guy wearing dancing clothes, with full make-up, with earrings down to his belly... How can anyone accept this?!
He wore red lipstick and glossy make-up, as if he was in Paris. This is unnatural.
Male belly dancer Alaa': You are right. Many people ask me: "Why don't you change the way you dress?" I tell them that I don't care what people think I am doing. All I care about is what I am actually doing. Things like pants, T-shirts, and jeans are fine, because this is how I am. People say: "But you have long hair." I'm not growing my hair because of the dancing, but because it is my style. I began four years ago, and I am still growing it.
Moderator: There's nothing wrong with it...
Margo Caliphian: Let me explain something. It is becoming shameful. Things are deteriorating. A woman is a woman, and a man is a man.[...]
They cannot write in an invitation to a party: "Featuring a singer, an artist, and the belly dancer X," and then it turns out to be a guy. Can you imagine what would happen? Imagine a classy party...
Moderator: What do you mean by "classy"?
Margo Caliphian: Take, for example, an important festival, with well-known singers and a belly dancer. Imagine a guy coming out to dance with a belly-dancing outfit... It is unheard of. What would you say you if you came to a festival with a large band to do your job...
Moderator: But Ms. Margo, he is there to do his job as well.
Margo Caliphian: I'm talking about a festival, and you're talking about a nightclub. There is a difference. I'm talking about the level and status of the belly dancer. Today, we've begun to appear all over the world. Today, many belly dancers go to America or France, and dance in the most important theaters in the world. Imagine a man in a bra, a scarf, and a belt coming out to dance...
Moderator: But he doesn't wear those things. He dances normally.
Margo Caliphian: Even so, there can be no perfection in it.