Chas' Compilation

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.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Al Gore's three 30 inch computer screens


He really does have three 30" screens. I'd try to think of something nasty to say about that, but I can't, because... I'd like to have those too!

I did find a comic though, that made some fun comments:


I got it from joyoftech.com, which also had this poll with it:
Most likely reason Al Gore needs those three 30" monitors?
  • He's attempting to open a portal to other universe.
  • He needs the desktop space for inventing things.
  • He heard there's lots of money to be made in screen real estate.
  • Everybody needs to spoil themselves now and then.
  • TIME magazine was coming over, he had to do something fast to distract them from his messy office.
  • Those monitors really take the sting out of not winning that election!

View the Results


My office is just like Al Gore's, but the screens, and the office, are considerably smaller:


No doubt Al needs the extra screen and office space more than I do. It can't be easy running a world-wide Global Warming Religion, and doing neat things like inventing the internet! Clearly it requires more space. ;-)

Here is a link to a compilation of all my posts involving Al Gore.
     

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The iPhone; a rising tide that floats all boats?



A lot of folks are talking about the new Apple iPhone [has link to video]. Tammy Bruce got hers from AT&T. I'll let those who got'em talk about'em.

But wether you get one or not, the iPhone is inspiring a lot of similar devices; it marks a big change in the high tech gadget industry. Will the iPhone be a rising tide that lifts all boats? Or cellphone/internet devices, in this case? I think so.

Here is an article that lists a number of iPhone alternative devices:

Nine iPhone Alternatives

It's at Forbes.com. The link may take you to a welcome screen with a commercial, but there is a link at the top to skip it and go right to the article. It's interesting to see what the competition is coming up with.
     

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Friday, June 29, 2007

The American People Win This Round...



Is it possible our government might now actually get a clue that the majority of Americans didn't want their amnesty bill?

Senate Immigration Bill 'Dead'

It's worth noting too that the opposition was bi-partisan; Democrat labor unionists in particular opposed the flood of cheap labor the work visa program would provide. Many Republicans felt the president was ignoring, and even abusing, the base of his own party:




I don't think that every part of the bill was bad. And like it or not, some form of amnesty for some illegals might be inevitable, as the majority of Americans don't want to see families split up with forced mass deportations, which would be unworkable anyway. But whatever solution about that is reached, it should not be rushed through without thorough, intelligent debate, and input by the American people. The way this bill was attempted to be pushed through in a grand rush is disgraceful.

Most Americans are for LEGAL immigration. But our whole immigration department is backlogged; it needs to be fixed. Solutions need to be found to deal with current illegals already here; a consequence we have to face because we did not enforce our laws for so long. We CAN deal with it. But NONE of that can be accomplished effectively without securing our borders FIRST. Most Americans understand that this failed immigration bill would have done nothing meaningful to accomplish that:




It's absurd to talk about reforming immigration without FIRST gaining control of our borders. This latest bill made a few token gestures at doing that, gestures that have too often been made in the past, that went nowhere. We have seen our government promise to strengthen the border before, and they never do; we no longer believe them on their word. They have to PROVE it by DOING it!

Once you put a halt to the invasion, you can rationally discuss what to do with the folks already here. Secure the border first, and everything else will fall into place. If the people in Washington aren't listening to that, they need to be made to listen, and act accordingly... or be replaced. They serve at OUR discretion, not the other way around.


Related Links:

Law and order

Small towns helped beat immigration reform

Liberal scientist finds the opposite of what he sought
This last one explains perfectly why we want legal, assimilating immigrants under the rule of law, not an illegal invasion.
     

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is it time for regime change in Iran yet?


Some people seem ready for change. In reaction to the sudden rationing of gasoline with just 2 hours notice, riots have erupted, people are setting gas stations on fire and shouting "Death to Ahmadinejad". This is more than just a few isolated instances. Some reports say as many as 50 gas stations have been burned. Yikes! It's yet another crack in the fragile egg shell of Iran's theocracy. We need to keep the sanctions pressure on.

Turmoil in Tehran
There’s rioting over gas rationing in Iran. Bloggers covering the turmoil here , here, and here. Iran is blaming–who else?–the U.S. for the unrest.

Meanwhile, human rights groups are paying attention to Iran’s execution of minors [...]






Visit the links for more photos and information. And not long before this, the fashion police were at it again, publicly torturing young men for wearing Western cloths and hair styles, by beating them and making them suck on cans used in toilets:



The human rights outrage in Iran…and a challenge to Rosie O’Donnell and her ilk
[...] Question: Will these photos be blared across the front pages of the international media with as much disgust and condemnation as the photos of Abu Ghraib or the manufactured Gitmo Koran-flushing riots?

Answer: Fat chance.

Question: What do leftist apologists for the Iranian regime have to say about the brutal, appalling, and escalating crackdown on human rights? Yeah, you, Rosie.

Answer: Nothing.

Question: Will the same moral cowards who sat silently while Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran, advocated executing gays during a Harvard lecture stand up now against this barbarism?

Answer: Of course not.

The latest wave of repression has been going on for months. No one, not even Khatami himself, has been spared scrutiny. Now, the New York Times [...]


Visit the link for more disgusting photos of vicious brutality. The "policemen" in these photos, with the masks over their faces, are supposedly enforcing "morality". Do they wear masks over their heads because they are so proud of what they are doing? Or is it because they need to hide their identity in case the Iranian people want retribution against them later?

The Iranian government wants these photos of policemen at work to be publicized widely within Iran, to instill fear in the people; the only problem they see is keeping the photos out of the Western press. Our MSM seems to be working with the Iranian government on that.



This is just the tip of the iceberg. Iran has a lot of problems with no end in sight:


Demographics and Iran's imperial design


The riots are just another symptom of a decay that has been festering for some time:

Iran, under the surface... is it crumbling?

With enough pressure from the outside, the present regime could collapse from within. Now is NOT the time to ease up on Iran, but rather to increase the pressure.
     

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Will HP be next to offer Linux pre-installed?


Inspired by Dell's choice to offer Linux pre-installed on some of it's computers, HP may do the same. At least that is a popular story circulating presently. Some excerpts from Joe Panettieri at SeekingAlpha:

Will HP Follow Dell With Ubuntu Linux PCs?

[...] Dell's initial success with Ubuntu apparently has caught Hewlett-Packard's attention. Sources close to HP tell me the company hope to offer PCs with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed in a few months -- or perhaps even a few weeks.

Growing interest in Ubuntu Linux is easy to explain. After all, Ubuntu is simple to use and friendlier than Windows in some (but certainly not all) ways. For instance, Ubuntu boots up fast -- really fast -- and isn't bogged down with dozens of desktop icons or menu options that you'll never use. Nor does it require certain types of security software that can further slow down your PC's performance.

It took me about five minutes to figure out the basics of Ubuntu's graphical user interface. Len Sandy, a fellow blogger who also purchased a Dell system running Ubuntu, says there are at least five reasons why some consumers will prefer Ubuntu over Windows. Like me, he notes that Ubuntu's user interface is easy to learn.

[...]

According to several Ubuntu online forums, HP plans to introduce PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed within the next few weeks. I'm hearing similar chatter from my sources.

The noise surrounding Ubuntu will grow louder this July, when Dell and Intel sponsor a major Linux event in Oregon. [...]

HP has been a Linux supporter for quite a while in the Server Market. Expanding to the Desktop market would be a logical next move, especially if they believe Dell is tapping into a new viable market. Read the whole piece for more information and links.


Related Links:

Dell Finally Offers Linux Pre-installed
After much talk, they actually do it.

Dell to offer Ubuntu Linux pre-installed
What it means in the larger picture of the PC market.

Is Apple going to drop OS X and move on?
Is there an emerging Dell-Linux-Apple war?

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Smart Fortwo: a viable 2nd car?

In and earlier post I looked at the tiny Smart Fortwo car. I said it reminded me of a glorified golf cart. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say glorified lawn mower, without the blades. It takes 20 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph. It only has 40 horse power. Not exactly my first choice for driving on the freeway. Yet for driving around town, it might be fine. It gets 60 mpg!

Clearly it would not be an ideal car for everyone... but what about two-car families? Would this car be a good second car? You could have a regular sized car for family outings, large shopping trips, etc. Then you could have this car, which might be fine for one person commuting to work, or for a quick trip to the store for a gallon of milk, or a visit to the Dentist, etc.

A lot of people have concerns about safety with this car because it's so small. Here is a crash test video, where the car hits a concrete wall at 70 mph:



The manufacturer claims that the frame of the car that protects the passenger area is like the hard shell of a nut; difficult to crack.

It's a terrible crash in the video, with massive damage, yet the passenger area was very protected. No human would be likely to survive a 70 mph crash into solid concrete in any vehicle, but the test is an impressive demonstration of the strength of the Smart Car frame. See the video for more details of the Smart car's safety design features. The video play time is 5 minutes and 39 seconds.

So, will this be YOUR second car? ;-)


UPDATE 06-26-07:

Here's a link to a blog devoted the introduction of the American Smart Fortwo:

smart fortwo blog

Check it out for more info and links. It has a forum, too.
     

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Selective Outrage and the Rule of Law

In this essay, Victor David Hanson examines the phenomena of people and groups who disrespect, disregard and work to destroy the rule of law, but who are then upset when it doesn't magically reappear to support THEM:

Hypocrisy That Undermines Civilization
There is only a thin veneer that separates civilization from man's innate barbarity. Some 2,500 years ago the historian Thucydides once warned us about the irony of revolutionaries and insurrectionists destroying this fragile patina of culture, as if they themselves might be exempt from ever wanting it back again.

Yet no sooner, he warned, have such outsiders torn down the system of law than they are in need of it themselves when they assume power and the responsibility of governance. Even the worst terrorist apparently wants his wife and kids to be safe--and able to drink clean water when turning on the faucet. The trick apparently is to blow up the neighborhood's electric pylon while still finding enough light and power to assemble an IED device. [...]

He goes on to give examples of this dynamic in action in Iraq; among the Palestinians; and throughout Muslim cultures generally, in the Middle East and abroad.

He also examines the same thing happening in Mexico:

[...] To facilitate such massive illegal immigration, Mexican officials hector their American counterparts about our supposed illiberality in not letting millions more stream in unchecked. They have even gone so far as to publish a government comic book instructing their own citizens how to cross the American border safely--and in flagrant violation of our laws.

But Mexico has nearly the same problem with its own 600-mile southern border with Guatemala as we do with our own 1,800-mile common boundary with Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of Central and Southern Americans try to cross into Mexico, either to work as cheap laborers or to make their way eventually into the United States as competitors to illegal aliens from Mexico.

In response, Mexico's policy toward illegal immigrants on its southern border is as brutal as America's is humane. Violators are often summarily deported--if they are not first robbed by Mexican officials or beaten and killed by criminal gangs. Mexicans may lecture Americans about our purported sins in trying to secure our border, but they don't seem to care what their own government does to Guatemalans. Again, the irony arises that a government that has abandoned the rule of international law suddenly is worried that another country may be doing to it what it does to others.

What lies behind this abject hypocrisy of first undermining civilization and then demanding that it reappear in the hour of need?

Double standards depend on demanding from United States and Europe a sort of impossible perfection. When such utopianism is not--and never can be--met, cheap accusations of racism, colonialism, and imperialism follow. Such posturing is intended to con the West into feeling guilty, and, with such self-loathing, granting political concessions, relaxing immigration, or handing over more foreign aid. Left unsaid is that such critics of the West will always ignore their own hypocrisy, and, when convenient, destroy civilized norms while expecting someone else to restore them when needed.[...]

(bold emphasis mine) I call it the dishonest side of Multiculturalism at work. So what's to be done about it? Victor has some thoughts about that. Read the whole thing, it's not very long.


Related Links: (From Fjordman at the Brussels Journal blog)

The Great Conversation
[...] It is true that if you cannot define your enemy, your criticism is bound to be vague. But this is part of my point: I, and numerous others with at least average intelligence, have spent a considerable amount of time trying to analyze the doctrines of Multiculturalism. We have found this to be quite challenging, precisely because it is vague, incoherent and doesn’t have any clear philosophical foundation. Multiculturalism seems to be a curious mix of older, Enlightenment ideas such as Rousseau’s “noble savage” and later Marxist ideas, among other things. There are those who claim that it was never supposed to be logically consistent and that we shouldn’t look for any cohesive, rational arguments behind it because there are none. What little can be discerned from its ideas is sometimes quite disturbing, with elements of anti-Western hatred, totalitarian impulses and Utopian ideas involving large-scale social engineering.

But isn’t this alarming? Multiculturalism is now official state policy in many countries, together accounting for hundreds of millions of people. Isn’t it disturbing that millions of people are subject to a radical ideology that is almost impossible to comprehend, and thus to criticize? Many of its proponents seem to know that it cannot be rationally defended, which is why they simply shut critics down with charges of racism and shame them into silence whenever they sense some opposition. In fact, it is now more or less illegal in some countries to criticize it, although it could mean the most massive transformation of our countries in modern history. [...]


On Bureaucracy, Liberty and the Rule of Law
[...] When does the rule of law break down? It breaks down when laws are no longer passed with the consent of free people, when citizens no longer feel that the law is just, when regulations become so numerous that it is virtually impossible even for decent individuals not to break the law on a regular basis and when the authorities are incapable of protecting their country’s borders while criminals rule the streets. It breaks down when the law appears increasingly arbitrary, when it invades the most intimate details of the life of law-abiding citizens while it allows great freedom to criminals. In short, it breaks down when it no longer corresponds to reality and to the sense of justice experienced by ordinary people. [...]

     

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Advice for handling unwanted solicitations... FALSE

I got this in my email, as I'm sure many people have. As it turns out, some of the advice isn't so good. Here is the email:

Andy Rooney's CBS Newsman

Tricks of the trade and
something to remember.
Tips for Handling >>Telemarketers <<

Three Little Words That Work !!

(1)The three little words are: "Hold On, Please..."

Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer !!!

(3) Junk Mail Help:
When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37 cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back.

It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.

One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas.
Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back!
If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them.

You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 39 cents.

The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice!

Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again You get the idea !

If enough people follow these tips, it will work ---- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.

I checked this at Snopes.com. It turns out it's FALSE:

The Truth about Andy Rooney's Tips for Telemarketers

It seems that Any Rooney once made a comment on the show 60 Minutes, about returning junk mail in it's own return envelope. Someone extrapolated on that and put Rooney's name to it. He didn't write it.

But that is not the only aspect that is false. It seems that sending junk mail back may actually INCREASE the amount of junk mail you receive! YIKES! Whodathunkit? Visit the link to see why. They also give some advice for things that really DO work to reduce junk mail and telemarketing calls.

I am curious about the three words for telemarketers, though. It sounds like it might work, perhaps I'll give it a try someday. We are already on the Do Not Call List, but that does not stop telemarketers from places overseas, like India.

There's no mention at Snopes about the button pushing for recorded messages. But I actually don't see why that would work. Who knows?
     

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Funding for terrorists? I didn't vote for this...

You can read related commentary and links here.

What is the difference? Fatah holds the same views as Hamas; they are just less honest about it publicly, and pretend to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, in exchange for foreign aid. And that's exactly what they are getting. In fact, it looks like we will be sending funds for BOTH groups!

Our government doesn't want to send money to support our troops in Iraq, but they CAN send MILLIONS in US tax payers dollars to support terrorists. I'm not surprised at the Democrats doing this. But now the Republican's are hopping on board? From Tammy Bruce:

Bush Has Now Officially Jumped the Shark

[...] First, Rice insists on us sending $86 million more dollars to terrorist group Fatah, holed up in the West Bank after the absolutely terrific job they did with the hundreds of millions in weapons and support we had already sent to them. She also wants to give another $40 million to the UN which will then send it to the "Palestinians" in the Gaza Strip. Yeah, great idea--prop up Hamas, and help the people who voted in Hamas in the first place so their Islamist paradise will be sustained long enough so they can assist Iran in the complete destruction of Israel.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Monday that the administration would contribute $40 million to the United Nations to help the Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and ask Congress to approve another $86 million in U.S. aid.

Congress has been mostly quiet on the issue, although some Republicans say they have grave concerns the money will end up in the hands of Hamas.
if you think she's and Bush are pushing this because Fatah and the CIA were organizational geniuses and got all our weapons and supplies out of the Gaza Strip, think again. Hamas has released a list of $400 million in U.S. supplied weapons, ammunition and various military supplies they have captured. To say nothing of the CIA material also left behind. Here's a partial list of what Hamas, an Iranian Death Squad, now has its bloody paws on:
* "Dozens" of mounted machine guns
* Approximately 7,400 American M-16 assault rifles
* About 800,000 rounds of bullets.
* Eighteen armored personnel carriers
* Seven armored military jeeps
* "Tens" of armored civilian cars, including pickup trucks and magnums.
* Eight massive trucks equipped with water cannons for dispersing protests
* Fourteen military-sized bulldozers

And what does Hamas think of our pledge to send more aid and weapons to Abbas? They're lovin' it. [...]
(bold emphasis mine) I'm sure they are loving it. What the hell is our state department doing? How is this helping FIGHT the WOT? This looks more like insuring that it continues! Are we (the governments of the West) part of the problem? We certainly seem to be sustaining it. Literally.

You can read related commentary and links here.


LGF reports that the Bush Administration is considering 'Reaching Out' to the Muslim Brotherhood, the very source of the cancer that afflicts the Middle East today.

I thought it was the policy of Jimmy Carter and the Democrats to believe the lie that EVERYTHING can be solved by diplomacy. We've already been down that road many, many times, with disastrous results.

I didn't vote Republican so they could then implement the Democrat's foreign policy. If the Republicans are now going to go spineless and adopt the Democrat's clueless foreign policy, we are in BIG trouble.

I suspect that we are once again giving money to the Palestinians in order to once again prevent an all-out war. Essentially, we are buying them off. But that just allows them to regroup and grow stronger. Aren't we just postponing the inevitable, and perhaps making it even worse when it does happen?

If you want a crash-course in what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank, see LMC's post: The Gaza Civil War. It's an excellent summary of the situation, with many good links.
     

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Asustek's ASUS Eee 701: video with narative

Here is an informative video about the $200 ASUS flash memory laptop:


The video is one minute and 40 seconds long, narrated in English. It says that the version of Linux the Eee 701 is using is Xandros, and shows some of the screens in easy mode. It reviews the machine's specs, pricing and other info.

Apparently the display model was running for 6 hours on battery power, and didn't even get hot to the touch. Asustek has made a 2nd press release, giving more details:

Enter the 'E' Era with ASUS Eee PC
Intel and ASUS Outline a Vision of Internet Mobility Solutions for the Future



It seems they may begin shipping the units as early as July:
[...] ASUS plans to start shipping the units in July or August, with a target of selling 200,000 units this year – all under the ASUS brand. Amid gasps from the audience, the Eee PC units were revealed to come in at an extremely competitive price of around USD $199 for the 7" units, and about USD $299 for the 10" version.

I'm still kinda shocked by the low price; it's nice to have it confirmed straight from the horse's mouth. And they must already be in production if they are planning to ship so soon. Just in time for school, for a lot of folks.

You can see all my posts about the ASUS Eee on one page here.
     

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Would you drive a Smart Fortwo?

This tiny car is currently available in Canada, and will be here in 2008.



Maynard at the Tammy Bruce blog says in his post,
Greens vs. Conservatives vs. Maynard:
[...] Mock me if you will, but I think this is neat! It's small, but it actually has plenty of headroom and foot room. And you can park it anywhere. If people started driving these things, our freeways could hold twice as many cars. I'll have to take a close look when they show up.

These little cars get 60 miles per gallon! They also have all kinds of safety features, but still... the video asks a lot of the awkward questions, so it's worth watching, it's about 5 minutes long. Also visit Maynard's post for more details and related links.

Is it really just a glorified golf-cart? I used to think about the Ford Fiesta that way, but it looks huge in comparison to this. Do you think there is going to be a significant market for this mini-car in the US? I really couldn't say, it will be interesting to see.
     

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Harry Reid's Clay Pigeon Ploy

Here's and excerpt of the details of his plan to push the immigration bill through, from an article by Julie Hirschfeld Davis:

Rare Tactic May Allow Immigration Votes
WASHINGTON (AP) - Only in the arcane world of the U.S. Senate could a quirky gambit known as a "clay pigeon" make the difference between passage of an important immigration measure and its death at the hands of opponents.

Democratic leaders hope the complex maneuver - which makes use of the Senate's labyrinthine rules to insist on votes on amendments - will frustrate conservatives' attempts to derail the embattled immigration bill, instead putting it on a fast track to passage next week.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would revive the bill to legalize as many as 12 million unlawful immigrants late this week. To do so, though, he needs backing from 60 senators, and a way to guarantee votes on a tentative list of 22 Republican and Democratic amendments whose consideration is seen as vital to satisfying key waverers.

The so-called clay pigeon is how he's expected to do it, under a strategy that was still taking shape Monday.

The tactic gets its name from the target used in skeet shooting, which explodes into bits as it is hit. In the Senate, an amendment is the target, and any one senator can demand that it be divided into separate fragments to be voted on piecemeal.

Under the tentative plan, Reid as early as Friday would launch his target - an amendment encompassing all 22 proposals - and shoot it into its component pieces. The Senate would then vote on ending debate on the immigration measure, which would take 60 votes and limit discussion of the bill to 30 more hours. After that interval, all 22 amendments would have to be voted on, with little opportunity for foes to interfere.

Ironically, the move is usually used by mavericks - not leaders - to slow down legislation, not free it from a procedural thicket. [...]

What an insult to the American people. I hope this backfires on Reid and the Democrats in the worst possible way. And also on the Republicans who vote for this terrible bill that the majority of Americans clearly oppose.

Before dealing with ANY immigration reforms, our politicians need to do their damn jobs, by SECURING OUR BORDERS. Anything else they propose will be useless unless our borders are secured FIRST.

I'm just wondering what is the best way to kick their asses until they "get it"?
     

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Turkey teetering on dramatic change; will it turn to Europe/America or Russia/Iran? Then what?


Der Spiegel Online has an interesting opinion piece by a Turkish writer:

The Turkish Threat to World Peace
In Turkey, the military and the government are engaged in an all-out struggle for power. The country is deeply divided, and decidedly unstable. Turkish writer Ahmet Altan describes his country's paradoxes and warns of the potentially dire consequences.

Ahmet goes on to describe a large cultural divide between two groups in Turkey: the first, a growing, deeply religious Islamic majority, and the second, a shrinking Westernized secular minority. He then explains the conflict:

[...] The first group has been despised, discredited, and pushed around throughout the years of the Republic. Now this group has become politically organized. It is large. And it now has the political power to win every election.

The second group is in the minority. And it currently has no chance of ever winning another election.

It is at this point that there emerges a historical paradox: Because the more Western, second group knows that it will never come to power again if it observes Western political ideas, it is becoming antagonistic to Western democratic values.

But those in the first group, whose values are inimical to the West, know they will only take power by accepting Western criteria. The result is that they are trying to appropriate democratic values and enhance their relations with the West.

"The army" has an important role in this cultural disintegration. If it supports the first group, and the criteria of Western democracy are observed, the army will lose power as well. In fact the army is made up of children of the first group who are cooperating with the second group, inimical to them, in order hold on to power. In a sense, the army is betraying its own roots.

The two groups now appear to be mobilized for their final battle for power. [...]

The article goes on to discuss the threat of a military coup, and what that would mean politically for Turkey and the rest of the world, and the balance of power in the Middle East.

A military coup could be disastrous for the West. Europe would not accept it; American would be in an extremely difficult position to support it. As a result, if Turkey were to turn towards Russia and Iran as allies rather than Europe and the United States, the balance of power, and the control over world oil supplies, could shift dramatically.

I've been critical of the US policy towards Turkey in the past; but I have to say, this article explains a lot, and makes clear why we are doing what we are doing, and shows why it would be very difficult to do anything else.

Ahmet maintains that the decisions Turkey makes could even lead to a world war! Is that overly dramatic? Is it justified? See for yourself; I recommend reading the whole thing.

Also of interest is another article in Der Spiegel, which asks a crucial question which is causing a lot of anxiety and tension in Turkey presently:

WHO GETS TO PICK THE PRESIDENT?

Turkish Head of State Calls for Referendum

Be sure and read this for more details of the recent events involving the power struggle in Turkey.


Related Links:

Turkish Troubles; are we on the wrong side?

Turks show massive support for secularism
     

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

The $200 ASUS Eee generates much interest;
will ship with Linux Desktop OS installed


It seems the Asus Eee Flash memory laptop I posted about earlier is creating some excitement; I've been getting a lot of hits on site meter from people doing searches about it. I've not seen this much interest in any other Linux device I've posted about. This machine will probably be highly sought after when it's released, possibly as soon as mid-August.




Some people are predicting that this machine will put the XO laptop by the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) out of business. But it should be remembered that the ASUS Eee is aimed at a much wider market than the XO.

The XO is aimed at children in developing countries; it has a low wattage electrical requirement, a manual battery recharger, a unique screen which can be read in sunlight (school classes in the poorest countries are often outdoors), and a rugged construction made with children in mind.

In comparison the ASUS Eee seems more like a conventional laptop. No doubt it could compete with the XO in some education markets, but that need not end the OPLC project; they just need to create a more flexible, competitive distribution strategy than their current one.

The great thing about the ASUS Eee is that it's a commercial product, not just for kids, but for everyone. Paul Jastrzebski at HotHardware.com offers us a preview of what the ASUS Eee offers. He starts off with the hardware, but he also looks at the software, giving us a closer look at the Linux software the machine is expected to ship with:

ASUS Eee PC Hand's On Preview
[...] In Easy mode, there are six tabs: Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, and Favorites. Each of these tabs has icons that can link to a website, file, or application on the Eee. The internet tab has a few interesting links, one to web storage, one to Wikipedia, and even one to Skype. The Eee PC 701 will likely have Skype pre-installed, and coupled with the notebook’s onboard webcam and microphone, will open up VOIP communications to an entire new set of users.




The Work tab opens up 15 different applications, ranging from standard Office-type software to a dictionary. The documents, spreadsheets, and presentations icons all lead to their respective applications in the free, open source office software suite Open Office. The Eee PC even comes with its own Anti-Virus software and in the learn section, has a typing and a painting program. Asus plans to include more open source education-related software when the Eee PC hits the market later this year, but didn’t give any more information on specific titles.




According to ASUS representatives, Standard mode was made to be “Windows-like” and looks and feels just like a typical Windows OS. The Windows Start button is replaced by a Launch icon, and navigating through files and applications is just like Windows. Even the minimize, maximize, and close buttons in the top right of each application window on the Eee PC 701 look identical to that of the Windows XP Silver style theme we run on our own standard notebooks. It seems as though ASUS is trying to bring as much “Windows-like” functionality to the Eee PC as they possibly can. With Windows in mind, ASUS has said that the Eee PC has already been tested to work on Microsoft’s Windows XP, but to keep costs down it will not come pre-installed on the Eee PC.



See the full review for more details and lots more photos and screen shots. I've been curious at to which Linux distribution the OS is based on, but have not as yet seen any information about that. The Easy Mode looks, well, really easy for computer newbies and novices. The Standard Mode, pictured directly above, looks much like a typical Linux Desktop, probably using the KDE GUI.

At $200 it's a very affordable machine! Flash memory instead of a hard drive means fast response times, low power usage and no fan. Fewer moving parts to break down. It has plenty of USB ports for attaching external hard drives or CD/DVD drives for those who want them.

I predict this is going to be a very popular item. I know I want one!


Related link:

Universal Internet Access for Everyone, and the Law of Unintended Consequences
     

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Why Mommy is a Squirrelly Democrat

From Michael Smith at the blog Stop Me Before I Vote Again, a look at a children's book called "Why Mommy is a Democrat". It starts with this great sample page:


Beyond parody
[...] So many thoughts crowd to mind looking at something like is. Is Mama Squirrel's resemblance to Hillary Clinton intentional? And what about Daddy? Perhaps he's that sinister tramp lurking in the background, an otherwise inexplicable adult middle-class nightmare visited upon the two or three innocent children who will actually be subjected to this noxious potion of treacle and arsenic.

Michael's curiosity gets the best of him, and he buys the book! He is then able to provide us with more details:

Why Mommy needs to get out more
[...] The illustrations aren't quite so strange as the Web reproductions make them appear, although there is something funny about the little squirrels' eyes. Ritalin, perhaps. But the text more than makes up for it. It lists twelve reasons why Mommy is a Democrat. Among these, Democrats are said to "make sure"

* ... everyone always has enough to eat
* ... everyone is treated fairly
* ... everyone plays by the rules
* ... no one fights
* ... we all share our toys
* ... we are nice to people who are different
* ... sick people are able to see a doctor
* ... we are always safe
* ... we clean up our messes
* ... children can go to school
* ... everyone has a warm bed to sleep in

Now I'm sure everyone will have his own favorites from the list -- mine is "everyone plays by the rules," which features Mommy somewhat fetishistically dressed as a soccer referee. (Whew! *Mops sweat from brow*)

But the truly extraordinary thing is that each and every one of these statements, as applied to the Democrats, is a glaring, obvious, flat-out falsehood. Democrats don't do any of these things, and indeed do the very opposite of many of them, con brio. (I'm thinking particularly of "make sure nobody fights.") What world do these folks live in, where such whoppers can -- and should! -- be told to innocent children? [...]

Democrats don't do all those things, but they ARE very good at posturing and posing as if they do. Isn't that almost the same thing? ;-)
     

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Iranian Theocracy prepares the Iranian people for the "Return of the Mahdi"

No, it's not a new Star Wars episode; it's what the Iranian government leadership believes and is preparing for.

True believers dial messiah hotline in Iran
[...] Paving the way is a renewed commitment to "Mahdaviat" beliefs by the ultraconservative government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who lives so modestly that declared assets include only a 30-year-old car, an even older house, and an empty bank account.

These ideologues see the creation of the Islamic Republic in 1979 and efforts to rekindle its revolutionary ideals, as critical to paving the way for the Mahdi's return.

They say that return - which they believe will happen soon - will prompt a global battle between good and evil (not unlike biblical "Armageddon" interpretations), and herald an era of justice, peace, and the ultimate triumph of Shiite Islam.

The Bright Future Institute is preparing the ground, a leaflet explains, by developing the "true culture" of waiting for the Mahdi, "reject[ing] wrong ideas and preparing scientific answers to respond [to] superstitions," while working to "accomplish an ideal society which Imam Mahdi wants."

[...]

Started in 2004, the institute is the eighth of its kind in Iran to study and even speed the Mahdi's return. But it is the largest and most influential, with 160 staff, a growing reach in local schools, children's and teen magazines, and unlimited ambition to spread the word.

The blend of modern technology and ancient prophecy echoes efforts of US evangelicals who use 45 categories - from liberalism to natural disasters - to predict the "end time," when holy people will experience "rapture" and go to heaven. For them, the "Rapture Index" (www.raptureready.com) is at 151; anything higher than 145 means "Fasten your seatbelts," because of what they deem a high level of prophetic activity.

In Iran, theologians say end-of-times beliefs appeal to one-fifth of Iranians. And Jamkaran mosque east of Qom, 60 miles south of Tehran, is where the link between devotees and the Mahdi is closest.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's cabinet has given $17 million to Jamkaran. Staff at the Bright Future Institute downplay his interest, arguing the amount is just $2-3 million, and that their effort is privately funded. They claim that former President Mohammad Khatami also spent "a lot" on Jamkaran.

[...]

Shiite writings describe events surrounding the return in apocalyptic terms, similar to those used in Revelations, which some Christian evangelicals believe predicts a final world war during which Jesus returns to win and reign for 1,000 years.

In one script, forces of evil would come from Syria and Iraq and clash with forces of good from Iran. The battle would commence at Kufa - the Iraqi town near the holy city of Najaf (and home to the anti-US Iraqi cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr).

The evil commander named Sofiani and the anti-Mahdi known as Dajol (comparable to the Christian antichrist), would both be killed. The forces of good would be led by a "man from Khorasan" - a province in northeast Iran.

The Mahdi would return at Mecca, and fight. His victory would bring a government of God for a period of "seven," according to one reading. Seven months, years, or millennia is not clear.

[...]

"The Imam of the Age will have victory, and all the world will support him, except some regimes and governments that are racist, like Zionists," says Poursayed-Aghaie. The result will be global dominance of Shiite Muslims. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Even though only one fifth of the Iranian population believes this literally, they are the ones in charge of the government, and this belief in the Mahdi is their guiding principle.

In this article they talk about peace, but they believe peace will only be possible in an Islamic world, ruled by the Mahdi. And the Mahdi will only return after great war, death and destruction.


#1288 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: As Soon as Iran Achieves Advanced Technologies, It Has the Capacity to Become an Invincible Global Power.
9/28/2006 - 00:07:34


#1314 - Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Yahya Safavi: We Have Thousands of Martyrdom-Seekers; We Can Give Missiles to Friendly and Neighboring Countries.
Al-'Alam TV (Iran) - 11/5/2006 - 00:03:31

The Revolutionary Guards are the ones killing our soldiers in Iraq. On a website, one of their leaders spoke of striking Americans with nuclear bombs on American soil. The Democrats think we just need to talk with them.

#1241 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The U.S and England Are Not Worthy of Security Council Membership. Those Who Want Good Relations with the Iranian People Should Bow and Surrender to its Right and Might.
IRINN (Iran) - 8/13/2006 - 00:03:21

Bow and surrender? These are the people the Democrats think we should be "talking" with? Ahmadinejad himself has said we have nothing to say to them.


#1321 - Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai: America Destroyed All Our Enemies in the Region.
Iran Ch.1 - 11/11/2006 - 00:04:08

Good news for Iran. Unfortunately. Removing Saddam got rid of Iran's biggest enemy in the region. Iran just needs to get rid of the US influence in the region now, so they can annex Iraq and it's oil to fuel their war machine and fund their global ambitions.

In a speech June 3rd, Ahmadinejad spoke of moving towards Jerusalem, with the Iraqi people, and the destruction of Israel:

Ahmadinejad: The Countdown To The Destruction Of Israel Has Begun; We Hope To Move Towards Jerusalem

The guy makes no secret of his intentions; he says we have nothing to say to him. What is it we need to talk to him about?

Here is a page showing this post, and below it all of my prior posts about the Mahdi.

And this, from Iranian Blogger/Journalist Azadeh Akbari:

Which religious beliefs Ahmadynejad has
     

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cross-platform Computer Worm hits OpenOffice

OpenOffice worm hits Mac, Linux and Windows
According to the Symantec Security Response Web site, the worm is capable of infecting multiple operating system platforms and is spreading.

The advisory said: "A new worm is being distributed within malicious OpenOffice documents. The worm can infect Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X systems. Be cautious when handling OpenOffice files from unknown sources". [...]

OpenOffice is an excellent suite of office applications, I hate to see this happen. Symantec rates the worm as only "Medium Risk", and I've not heard a lot about it, so I'm not sure how serious it is.
     

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Universal Internet Access for Everyone, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

We are rapidly moving towards an interconnected world, communication wise. Devices that access the internet continue to drop in price; projects like OLPC are pushing to give every child worldwide a loptop computer with wireless internet access.

A $200 laptop, the Asus Eee PC 701, is due out this fall.

One belief behind many such projects is, that people are poor because they are uneducated; access to the internet would be educational, and therefore would help end poverty worldwide.

I would agree that the internet CAN be a great educational resource, and could HELP; however, like any resource, it can be used wisely, or squandered.

For instance, here in America, many people have internet access, including the "poor" among us. I don't doubt that some use the internet to educate themselves, to get better jobs, to and improve the quality of their lives. Yet I'm also certain that many more use it to read gossip, watch porn, hook up for sex, and otherwise use it as entertainment and distraction from more meaningful pursuits. Still others use it in malicious ways, like stalking and criminal activities.

The internet by itself does not educate people or lead to a guaranteed reduction of poverty. Trailer Trash can use it and still stay Trailer Trash, even in an advanced industrial nation like the USA, which has abundant educational opportunities.

Used with direction, purpose and guidence, the internet can undeniably be a valuable educational tool. But what about the unintended consequences of making it accessible worldwide?

In prior posts about the OLPC project and other similar programs, I've read that the parents of kids involved in these programs will sometimes come to the school with the kids, and ask their children to look things up for them on the internet.

In one video about the OLPC Project, a school in Cambodia gave laptops to kids, and even let the kids bring the machines home to use. These villagers had no electricity or running water in their homes, but they had a laptop computer! At night, it was often literally the brightest thing in the house. And if their home was within wireless range of the school, they had internet access, too. Access to streaming video, music, everything. (You can see on-line the story, a 13 minute CBS video about this)

Remember in the TV series "Star Trek", the crew had an imperative called the "Prime Directive", which forbid them from interfering with the natural development of other cultures? It also forbid them from giving advanced technologies to people who had not yet developed those same technologies. The logic behind that was, that if you gave advanced technology to people who had not yet developed the wisdom and comprehension to use it properly, the results could be disastrous... or at least, there could be unforeseen negative consequences.

The XO computer for children by the OLPC Project.

So here you have these little Cambodian children, all excited about their computers. The first word they learn in English is "Google". They use all this kid-friendly software, they sing-along with the computer in English, etc. They and their families now have a portal to the rest of the technologically advanced world, via the world wide web. Is there something inherently wrong with this? No, not that we can see. It's just that their parents and grand parents and all who went before them did not have this. So in the long run, how is this going to affect and change their culture? What will the long term after effects be?

We don't really know, because nothing quite like the internet has happened before.

The internet is relatively new. Even in our own technologically advanced cultures, we are having kids being raised with the internet, which has never happened before. It's making changes that we are only beginning to see. And yet before we even fully appreciate what is happening to ourselves, we are extending it to others, to everyone.

I'm not saying I'm against it. I doubt that anyone could stop it even if they wanted to. I'm just asking, what might the unintended consequences be? And I'm asking that because, I doubt we are going to be prepared for them. Forewarned is forearmed.

In Part II of this post, I'll take a closer look at possible unintended consequences.

I'll end today's post with this simple example of the law of unintended consequences in motion:


     

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A $200 laptop for everyone: Asus Eee PC 701

The One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC), in it's efforts to produce and inexpensive flash-memory laptop for children in developing countries, has been inspiring competitors to create similar inexpensive laptops. One of the latest ones was recently announced by Asustek, a Taiwan company.


Predicted to be available in the 3rd quarter, the Asus Eee PC will be a flash-memory laptop made for easy access to the internet. With a built-in camera and Wi-Fi, it's aimed at a wide variety of users:


Here is a 90 second promo video for the Asus Eee PC 701 [YouTube]


PC World Magazine offers a first look review:
First Look: Asustek's $199 PC
[...] Jointly developed by Intel and Asustek, the Eee PC will hit the market during the third quarter, most likely in August or September. The notebook will be aimed at education users, but it should also be available more widely.

Prices are going to start at $199, rising based on the amount of flash memory that comes with the machine instead of a hard disk. Currently, Asustek plans to sell models with 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB of flash, but that may change between now and when the first Eee PCs go on sale.

Measuring 9 inches wide by 6.6 inches deep, the Eee PC 701 is about 1.5 inches thick with the screen closed and weighs just 31 ounces. Other specifications include a 7-inch monitor, a 300,000-pixel camera, 512MB of DDR2 memory, and Wi-Fi. Next year, Asustek plans to introduce a second Eee PC model, the 1001, which will have a 10-inch screen.

[...]

Whatever chip it's using, the Eee PC doesn't run hot. The prototype I tested had been running continuously for at least six hours when I picked it up, and the machine was barely warm to the touch. Asustek said the notebook can run for three hours on battery, which is sufficient for surfing the Web or checking e-mail, but I would like more. Unfortunately, Asustek doesn't have plans to offer an extended-life battery for the Eee PC. Hopefully it will offer extra batteries as an option.

The keyboard and trackpad are slightly small due to the Eee PC's size, but I was able to type comfortably. The keyboard felt fine for typing out e-mails or surfing the Web, but I prefer a full-size keyboard for typing for an extended period of time. [...]

The reviewer says the machine was running Linux (Xandros), but I have read elsewhere that it is capable of running Windows XP also.

This laptop is aimed at a broad market, and shows a lot of promise. Many see it as a blow to the OLPC project, with potential to take away OLPC's market share. In my opinion, OLPC's laptop, XO, still has many unique advantages; very low power requirements, a hand operated recharger, a screen that can be read in sunlight, and a rugged casing and design specifically developed for children. Perhaps their biggest obstacle is their marketing and distribution strategy, which relies too heavily on large orders by assorted government ministries.

Negroponte's "$100 Laptop" Blowback: Asustek's Eee PC
[...] Now there is the ASUS Eee PC and it doesn't even pretend to be a pure education play. Oh yes, it does borrow heavily from OLPC with its tagline of "Easy to Learn, Work and Play" but do not be fooled. This is not a computer for children. This is One Low-Cost Laptop For Everyone.

With such a broad target, there are going to be instant winners and losers. The first winners will be anyone who wants a low-cost computer and can afford the $200-300 price point. This includes students and adults in the developing world who are not part of OLPC's target market of young children and might find the Sugar UI to be childish anyway. They are now going to be seen as a viable market, one even giants like Intel should focus research, development, and production resources to serve. [...]

OLPC has awakened awareness of new potential markets for fanless, flash-memory, low power use, low cost laptops, and it's only natural that laptop makers will start to compete for market share. OLPC's XO laptop is unique, as it aims to reach not just children, but the poorest, the least likely to afford a computer, and is constructed to function in environments where more typical laptop technology and construction would not fair well.

The OLPC XO laptop thus has unique advantages in the education market, but much depends on HOW it is used:

No Comparison: OLPC XO is the Low-Cost Laptop for Teaching

Ultimately, I see the competition for this market as a good thing:

Competition for OLPC: shameful, or good?
     

     

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Iran's pressing needs and Iraq's vulnerability


#1460 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: America Is Like a Battery Running Out. They Are Done For.
Iran Ch.1, Esfahan TV (Iran) - 5/24/2007 - 00:06:42

[...] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: With the grace of God, we have almost reached the end of the path where we can take complete advantage of all nuclear capabilities. We are very near the summit. The resistance of the enemies grows weaker every day.

[...]

Now they are mustering all their power, in order to cause some commotion – some resolution, some pressure, some uproar... But let me tell you that with the help of God, they are done for. Like a battery about to run out, they muster the remainder of their power but Allah willing, nothing will happen. We've passed that. Wait one month, two months, three months... Allah willing, as soon as possible, we will pass that. Their situation is much worse than one can imagine. Their foundations are shaking. Nobody is with them. They though that if they used threats, people here would withdraw voluntarily. When they used threats nobody withdrew. When they used their fist – it boomeranged back at them. What's left for them to say? A few months ago, they threatened us militarily. Do you remember? They specified the date. They said: "On March 27, at 5 a.m., we will bomb these 20 sites." From this position of making military threats, they've got themselves to the point where they want to have talks with us, and they say: "It wasn't us making threats."

(bold emphaiis mine) Talks? Even Ahmadinejad believes we have nothing to say. I think it's because of the Democrats that we are now having "talks" with the Iranians. A waste of time for us, it buys time for Iran, and lends them the veneer of credibility. Small wonder that they want to invite Nancy Pelosi to Iran. I don't see that any good will come of it.

As for the analogy of a battery running out, perhaps Ahmadinejad is confusing us with his own country? Here is a bit of economic news from the Memri blog:
Economic Shocks in Iran

Randa Taqi al-Din, columnist for the London daily Al-Hayat, reviews the economic shocks being experienced by the Iranian economy. Iran, the second largest exporter of oil in OPEC, is in economic crisis, caused by the shortage of gasoline for cars, which Iran imports in large quantities. Iran is suffering from a soft economy, 11% unemployment, and rising inflation.

Iran’s economic shocks are the product of state control over the economy, stifling bureaucracy, and poor management. Iran’s foreign policy and the provocative statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have had their impact on the Iranian economy as well.

In order to revive Iran's oil sector, $100 billion is required, but no foreign investments are currently available because of the sanctions.

The Iranian leadership is blaming U.S. President Bush for its mismanagement of the economy.

Iran’s rush last year to provide economic aid to the Lebanese while failing to provide aid to a city that suffered an earthquake was widely criticized by local papers.

Ms. Taqi al-Din concluded that the Iran has only itself to blame for its economic woes, because it could be doing much better had it focused its energies on the internal front.

Source: Al-Hayat, London, June 6, 2007

(bold emphasis mine) Someone's batteries are running out. They need 100 billion in investments, or new resources to draw on. Where can they find new resources? From their neighbors, the Iraqis:

Baghdad Accuses Regional Fronts Of Seeking To Destroy Its Ports, Oil

The Iraqi government has accused unnamed "regional fronts" of targeting Iraqi oil installations and Iraqi ports.

U.S. officials have identified the "fronts" as a cell connected with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, June 6, 2007[...]

(bold emphasis mine) The Iranian theocracy has a strong interest in seeing Iraq's government fail.

There are many family connections and religious ties between the Shia Muslims in both countries. If the Americans leave before Iraq's government stabilizes, Iran could precipitate a civil war, where the Shia would most likely win and dominate. Then the Shia in both countries would unite, and Iran's oil problems would be solved... and everyone else's would begin. And the Iranian Government would also have new revenue to fund their terrorism, and grow their war machine. Ahmadinejad has made no secret of what he intends to do with that:

Ahmadinejad: The Countdown To The Destruction Of Israel Has Begun; We Hope To Move Towards Jerusalem

If we isolate Iran, their internal problems will increase and the regime may collapse from within. But if we pull out of Iraq and abandon it to Iran, we will see troubles much worse than what we are facing now.
     

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wafa Sultan interview: A "crack in the wall"


Syrian-born Los Angeles Psychiatrist Wafa Sultan does an interview, in English, for Danish TV. The interview is about 9 minutes long. She offers many interesting insights with her views of Islam and the Muslim world, and what she hopes to accomplish by speaking out.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Shahada (Prayer for a son)


Here is a great video, demonstrating a contrast of cultures. Every culture has hopes and dreams for their children, but most cultures aren't indoctrinating their children into a murder-suicide death cult.

I was informed about this video in the comments section of my post about the Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony on Hamas TV. I'm pleased that my blog is referenced at the end of the video. Thank you, x-dhimmi (Deb).

You can click here to see a compilation of my other posts on this topic.
     

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Picasa, Google's free photo manager & editor


I recently downloaded a copy of Picasa, and was very impressed. It scanned and found ALL of my photo and image files, on all of my hard drives, and made them all available on one long scrolling page. I've rediscovered pics that I forgot I had! If your photos have gotten so numerous that organizing them seems impossible, Picasa will be an excellent tool to help you get a handle on the situation.

It also offers some basic editing tools for improving photos. The program is available free of charge, and it's a cross-platform program; versions are available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

From Marziah Karch at About.com, a review of the software:

Take a Look at Picasa - Review of Google's Digital Photo Management Software
[...] Picasa will organize your photos by date and initially retains the same file structure as your hard drive. The main area shows thumbnails of the images, and along the right side is a scroll bar to navigate. Thumbnails in the library are grouped by folder, but they’re all displayed (with some scrolling.) This means that you don’t have to repeatedly click to navigate to a new folder, which is a nice touch.

You can move thumbnails from folder to folder directly from Picasa, and it will confirm and then move the corresponding file on your hard drive. This makes it much easier to organize albums. [...]

It's a short review, but it gives you a good summary of all the basic functions, I recommend reading the whole thing.



You can download Picasa from the main page of their website:

Picasa by Google
     

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Our Immigration Reform Dilemma


Like so many people, I think the current immigration reform bill stinks. It's being rushed through without enough debate, and tries to accomplish too much. So much of what I've read about it sounds like it's unworkable and unenforceable. Our politicians are ignoring us, which is infuriating.

The American people have said again and again, we want our borders secured. What part of that sentence don't the politicians in Washington understand?

SECURE OUR BORDERS

If they would simply do that, the rest could be sorted out in good time. Secure our borders first, and I think much of the opposition to everything else would calm down, and reasonable debate could ensue. I think what makes so many Americans angry is that our government repeatedly fails to demonstrate any serious intention of securing the border. They focus instead on everything else related to immigration, which is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.


Polls show that the majority of Americans don't want mass deportations that split up families. Proponents of the current immigration bill keep trying to smear all opponents with accusations of racism, to silence their criticism. Whatever happened to REAL debate?

Multiculturalism, which has advocates on both the left and right, has become the favorite tool of the new Stealth Socialists. They've not been able to dominate politically, so they support the open borders concept to bring in a new proletariat underclass they can manipulate. The Multiculturalists on the right support open borders, to bring in cheap labor.

The Open Borders crowd, both left and right, uses accusations of racism to try to silence any debate about or opposition to their open borders agenda. The end result is squashing debate, which is just plain wrong. Rushing faulty legislation into law without public debate is WRONG.



I do realize that we are trying to fix something that has gone unattended for far too long. I realize that we don't have endless time to do something, and that no bill is going to ever please everyone. Yet something MUST be done.

I say listen to the folks in the middle. The moderate center. Work for compromises that are WORKABLE and REALISTIC. Break this bill up into segments. Secure the border first. Then work on the rest, a chunk at a time.

It's fine if the extremists on both sides of the aisle are displeased. But debate these things properly, and listen to the moderates in both parties, and WORK for consensus. The way it's being handled now disrespectful to the American people.


Related Links:


Slow Down and Absorb:
Open borders? Mass deportations? How about some common sense instead?


Capitulation, from A------ to Z

Don't Run for the Border:
America needs comprehensive immigration reform, but not a law enacted in haste.


Opposition to Senate immigration bill fading?

THE AMNESTY BILL .. HEADED FOR PASSAGE?
[...] It's all very simple, really. Close the border. Stop the invasion. Turn off the faucets. Then we'll have time aplenty to sit back and figure out what to do with those illegals who are already here. Americans are not cold blooded monsters who want to uproot established Hispanic families and dump them across the border. You present the average American with the story of a Hispanic high school graduate trying to get into college, a young adult who was brought to this country by their parents at the age of three, and you aren't going to find many who would insist that this person, who has known nothing but life in America, be sent back to a country they don't know.

Why is nobody talking about the cost to the taxpayers here? Since 1990 Hispanics have accounted for 92% of the increase in poor people in this country. Only about 53% of the Hispanic adult population in the U.S. even have a high school education. This means we are legitimizing a huge number of people who will eventually end up on the receiving end of our hundreds of local and federal welfare programs. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has compiled some of the costs. He says that government tax payments ... entitlements and means-tested benefits ... would increase by about $8000 per American household. We're looking at about 20 billion a year .. and that's just starters.

You've read about the increases in crime across the country, haven't you? For every 100,000 U.S. residents in a specific age group you'll find Hispanics in prison at a rate of about two-and-one half that of whites. There seems to be some reluctance to report this in the news, but what would you like to bet that a huge portion of the increase in crime in this country is coming from the fine people who have been part of the Mexican invasion. This isn't rocket surgery. What, after all, have we been teaching these people? They cross our border illegally, and nothing happens. They stay here illegally ... they use forged documents to get jobs and they work here illegally, and nothing happens. Can you blame some of them for not believing that we're all that serious about enforcing our laws?

Again .. it's very simple. When the government becomes selective in enforcing our laws, it's only natural that the people would become selective in obeying them. [...]

Neal Boortz makes a lot of sense here. I hear lots of people saying ALL illegal immigrants are criminals. Technically, that may be true. But when we don't bother to enforce our own laws, people will not bother obeying them. That's human nature.

We haven't enforced our immigration laws for decades, and the consequences are 12 million or more illegals. That's the price we are paying.

We can send back the actual criminals in this group that are currently in our prisons. A path for citizenship for the rest who have otherwise been law abiding may be possible. Many don't WANT to become US citizens, they are here to earn money; perhaps some sort of work visa could be created. But none of this will be viable if we don't FIRST secure our borders. The open borders advocates on the left and right need to stop obstructing that. Then perhaps we can find real, workable solutions.


UPDATE 06-06-07:

From Neal Boortz:

AMNESTY BILL UPDATE
[...] Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions released an excellent report of 20 different loopholes he found in the bill.

* -Loophole 1 – Legal Status Before Enforcement
* -Loophole 2 – U.S. VISIT Exit Not In Trigger
* -Loophole 3 – Trigger Requires No More Agents, Beds, or Fencing Than Current Law
* -Loophole 4 -- Three Additional Years Worth of Illegal Aliens Granted Status, Treated Preferentially To Legal Filers
* -Loophole 5 – Completion of Background Checks Not Required For Probationary Legal Status
* -Loophole 6 – Some Child Molesters Are Still Eligible
* -Loophole 7 – Terrorism Connections Allowed, Good Moral Character Not Required
* -Loophole 8 – Gang Members Are Eligible
* -Loophole 9 – Absconders Are Eligible
* -Loophole 10 – Learning English Not Required For A Decade
* -Loophole 11 – Earned Income Tax Credit Will Cost Taxpayers Billions In Just 10 Years
* -Loophole 12 – Affidavits From Friends Accepted As Evidence
* -Loophole 13 – Taxpayer Funded Legal Counsel and Arbitration
* -Loophole 14 – In-State Tuition and Student Loans
* -Loophole 15 – Inadequacy of the Merit System
* -Loophole 16 – Visas For Individuals That Plan To Overstay
* -Loophole 17 – Chain Migration Tippled Before Being Eliminated
* -Loophole 18 – Back Taxes Not Required
* -Loophole 19 – Social Security Credits Allowed For Some Illegal Work Histories
* -Loophole 20 – Criminal Fines Not Proportional To Conduct

[...]

That's just part of it. Read the whole thing. This bill is NOT ready, it's too rushed. What can I say? AAAARGH!!!


UPDATE 06-10-07
Here's two bloggers that sum it up perfectly:

The Bloody Immigration Debate

Well-meaning but misguided Senate immigration bill dead
     

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