Monday, January 31, 2005

Well. There It Is, Then.

The de-Christianization of Europe continues apace.
A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.

She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Miss Garweg said that women who had worked in call centres had been offered jobs on telephone sex lines. At one job centre in the city of Gotha, a 23-year-old woman was told that she had to attend an interview as a "nude model", and should report back on the meeting. Employers in the sex industry can also advertise in job centres, a move that came into force this month. A job centre that refuses to accept the advertisement can be sued.

Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits.

"Why shouldn't I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?" said Miss Ulyanova.

Ulrich Kueperkoch wanted to open a brothel in Goerlitz, in former East Germany, but his local job centre withdrew his advertisement for 12 prostitutes, saying it would be impossible to find them.

Mr Kueperkoch said that he was confident of demand for a brothel in the area and planned to take a claim for compensation to the highest court. Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime.

Miss Garweg believes that pressure on job centres to meet employment targets will soon result in them using their powers to cut the benefits of women who refuse jobs providing sexual services.

"They are already prepared to push women into jobs related to sexual services, but which don't count as prostitution,'' she said.

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

We don't need religion or the Ten Commandments to tell us right from wrong. That's only for the superstitious, fearful, and gullible! We believe in freedom, baby, yeah!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Shut Your Pie Hole, Commie

Not everyone is happy about the Iraqi election. A poster at DU proves that psychotic dissatisfaction with the world is the engine, leftist politics is the caboose (via The Corner).

Here's the post:
The Iraq vote is making me sick this morning

All the media keeps talking about is how happy the Iraqis are, how high turnout was, and how "freedom" has spread to Iraq. I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called "voters" and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all. Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?

I can't believe the Iraqis are buying into this "democracy" bulls---. They have to know that the Americans don't want them to have power, because they know that Bush is in this for the oil, and now that he finally has it he's not going to let it go. This election is a charade. The fact is that the Iraqis have suffered during the past two years more than any people on earth at the hands of the American gestapo. Maybe they're afraid and felt they had to vote. That's the only way I can explain it to myself.

OR--I just thought of this--maybe they're smiling because they're using the Americans own game to defeat them. They're voting in candidates who they know will widen the resistance, take the fight to the streets, and finally drive the occupying forces out of their country. Perhaps they're smiling because--right under the American's noses--they're planting the seeds of a bigger and more effective resistance movement. Wouldn't that be fitting? Use *'s own tools against them?

We can only pray that this is the case. Becuase if it's not--and if the Iraq vote is seen as a success that spread "freedom"--the world is screwed. Bush's inaugural speech left little doubt that he has other countries on his list to spread "freedom" to. They will be his next targets, and the world will burn because of it.

Let's hope the resistance got voted in, or if not, they only increase the fight and take down those who betrayed their country today by voting in this fraud election.

Of course I'm assuming this isn't a hoax post to make the DU look bad. This one could be...

A blogger has highlighted some rebuttal posts from the same DU thread. At least one has been deleted. Too much danger of sense being spoken, I guess.

In another Corner post, Michael Novak says:

These are the days that try men's souls, if they are men and women of the left. When their own sense of what has been going on is shattered. When the vision of the hated conservatives comes to life in reality, and its birth seems to send joy through conservative ranks. At such times, the hive of the left often falls silent. Everyone seems to wait for a big bee to teach them the new buzz. Listen in the silence! The queen bee will stir. The buzz will grow soon.

The secret compass of the left used to give off a clear signal, even when puzzling events suddenly clouded the sky. One had only to discern whether new events empowered a new and larger collective (the state, the UN), in which case that was the side to cheer. If the individual was weakened, if the United States was weakened, and if the collective powers were strenghthened, that was guidance enough.

The fall of socialism has destroyed that guidance system. What to do? Whom to cheer? What to reject?...It takes longer these days for the hive to regain its voice and sense of direction...these days, the identity of the big bee is no longer so certain.

There are many lost souls on the left.

Jim Geraghty has also taken note.

Hearing comments like that, how can one not feel pity? You see happy faces of Iraqis taking place in the first election of their lifetimes, braving threats to life and limb... and your only reaction is more bitterness? What a dark little world of their own making they live in.

John Kerry has also been raining on this parade, and Geraghty has something to say about that, too.

Cool Site!

Via RealClearPolitics, I've stumbled across a very cool site, which contains scans of each day's front page from newspapers around the world. Neat!

Here's an example (click to zoom):

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This Is A Great Day

If you want to know more about the Iraqi election, Instapundit is a good place to start...

Oh, yeah, leftists, NOT IN YOUR NAME.

This post highlights the bellyaching at Democratic Underground. This post pokes a little fun at the MSM.

Instapundit quotes an e-mailer:

I'm remembering the coy saying about the French resistance. "If everyone who claimed to be in the resistance really had been, there would have been nobody left to collaborate."

I make the following prediction: In 20 or 25 years (it might not even take that long) all the people who where saying that the war was wrong and Iraq was wrong will talk about how America brought democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan and how they were a part of it due to their protests and desire for democracy and the end of tyranny. (of course they will not mention that the tyranny that they meant was us.) If the same people who write the current history books write them again be sure that this will happen.

To which Glenn replies: "Heh. Yeah, just like everybody pulled together during the Cold War."

Update: The NYT has a nice election slide show here.

Update: Excellent animated slide show in the form of a .WMV file is here. Set to music ("Fanfare For The Common Man").

Update: I want to be the first to say: Kudos, Democratic Party for all you did to make this day possible. America couldn't have done it without you!

Update: A nice short-and-sweet tribute here, with photos and historical references.

You're Soaking In It

I liked this Opinion Journal article about the global oil situation. Having grown up in the 70's, I've heard my fair share of the "sky is falling" energy crisis hype, and the last year or so there've been similar rumblings. Funny, three years ago when oil was down around $10 a barrel nobody was saying we are about to run out. Now at $50, it seems we are. The stuff costs less than $5 to get out of the ground in the Mideast. The rest is politics and games.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I heard Ted Kennedy's treason speech yesterday on Limbaugh.

This is a good fisking of it (via Instapundit). If you don't know what Kennedy said, you need to. Here is the Democratic Party, in all its pathological glory.

For some reason, the MSNBC transcript excerpts pass over Kennedy's call to immediately withdraw at least 12,000 troops. Also check out the transcript of what Rush had to say about all of this.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Excellent Photos

A series of remarkable photos taken during last Saturday's Walk For Life is here.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

You Gotta Like Evan Coyne Maloney

Evan has been making his own mini-documentaries the last couple of years. Generally he goes to left-wing protest rallies and lets the folks speak for themselves. Maloney is such a nice guy, with such a gentle, amiable persona, that the folks he interviews are able to state their lefty views without getting all riled up. I was actually reflecting on this a bit after the march last Saturday. I walked to a nearby restaurant district with some friends, and thought, "You know, I'll probably end up holding the door for people who were yelling at us in the counter protest. They won't recognize that I was in the march, and I won't recognize them. We'll smile and nod." But still. I ain't going to vote their way!

Anyway, Evan's latest documentary was done amongst the inauguration protestors in DC. They seem like nice people. Quite an amusing video.

Thomas Sowell On 'Protest'

A good dose of Sowell lucidity here.

The enraged speeches and street disorders across the country that accompanied the inauguration of President Bush may tell us more than we want to know about what is happening to this country.

The media dignify these outbursts by calling them "protests" but what are they protesting?

That they lost the election? Doesn't somebody always lose an election? Did the Republicans take to the streets when Bill Clinton was elected?

Are the shouters and the rioters protesting that they disagree with President Bush's policies? Isn't that why we hold elections in the first place -- because people disagree?

Elections are supposed to be an alternative to other ways of settling political differences, including riots, military coups and dictatorships. But riots have been re-christened "demonstrations" by the mealy-mouth media.

What are these "demonstrations" demonstrating -- other than adolescent self-indulgence and contempt for the rights of other people to go about their lives without finding their streets clogged with hooligans and the air filled with obscenities?

The irony is that many of those who are indulging themselves in these strident orgies are the same people who were telling us to "get over it" and "move on" during President Clinton's scandals. Today the liberal is the last place where people are willing to move on.


[T]he left does not accept the proposition that other people have just as many rights as they do. This is obvious not only in the disorder and vandalism they inflict in the streets but also their intolerance on academic campuses across the country, where students who question the party line are hemmed in by speech codes and ridiculed and intimidated by professors who do not hesitate to punish them with low grades.

Ask any environmental extremist if people who don't care about preserving swamps ("wetlands") have the same rights under the Constitution that the people in the green movement have. Gay activists who demand tolerance and sensitivity from others do not hesitate to include in their parades insulting skits mocking nuns and others in the Catholic Church.

When pro-life demonstrators tried to hold a peaceful march in San Francisco on January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a pro-abortion crowd not only followed them, shouting to drown them out and hurling insults at them, some sat down in their path to block the march and force them to detour.

We are seeing the ugly face of intolerance under the idealistic pretense of protest. We need to recognize it for what it is, even if the media refuse to do so. Above all, we need to see it as a warning of where our society is headed. Whether at home or abroad, if political conflicts are reduced to contests between the wimps and the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.

Update: There's another interesting treatment on the topic of "Protest as Religion" here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What Planet Are They Smoking?

Boy, the Golden Gate chapter of Planned Parenthood is engaging in bold faced lying about the San Francisco Walk For Life.
More than 6,000 Pro-Choice Bay Area Residents Stand Up for Women's Health and Rights


Pro-choice crowd outnumbers anti-choice marchers by more than 3 to 1 in peaceful demonstration

SAN FRANCISCO – Outnumbering anti-choice demonstrators by more than three to one, an estimated 6,000 took to the streets of San Francisco to stand up for women's health and rights on Saturday, January 22, 2005. The rally and march sent the loud and clear message that the San Francisco Bay Area is overwhelmingly pro-choice and will continue to defend women's rights against attack.

Following a rally at Powell and Market Streets in San Francisco, over 6,000 pro-choice Bay Area residents marched to the Embarcadero where an anti-choice demonstration was taking place. Pro-choice marchers peacefully lined the route of the anti-choice march chanting slogans such as "Get up, get down! San Francisco is a pro-choice town!"

The numbers they are quoting are completely backwards, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the crowd estimates by the SF police, the pictures that have been widely published, and what I saw with my own freakin' eyes! They don't even provide a citation of where they got this preposterous number and ratio. Desperation...

An earlier post of mine has links to photos taken by both sides as well as video taken by the opposition so you can see for yourself. There is also a link to the Chronicle article.

First they complain about all of the people bused in from outside (because, you know, it is not possible that anyone in San Francisco could possibly be pro-life), then they exult that there actually weren't any people to begin with! What a bunch of dorks.

Reinstitute Institutionalization

Peeve Farm has an excellent round-up of some recent blogosphere thinking about the homeless problem. Be sure to check out the links. Tiemann is right. Manhattan is beautiful. Downtown San Francsico is something right out of the depths of hell.

Busdriver McHitler And Eggo Toaster Waffles

You know, I think you can tell a lot about political opponents by who can best write satire of the opinions of the other side. It takes insight to write accurate satire. I've yet to see a decent satire of conservatives coming from the left, but this one against the lefties is priceless. I'm not even going to try to excerpt it.

Put Your Best Face Forward

RealClearPolitics notices something (permalink not available):
Leading the charge against Rice on Tuesday were Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Barbara Boxer of California.

There is nothing quite like letting a heavy-drinking liberal most well known for letting someone drown, a former Klansmen and a radical lefty from California be the face of the Democratic party, proudly leading the charge to block the first African-American woman from becoming Secretary of State. At times I wonder if the Democrats have any sense at all or whether they've just come completely unglued.

Cracks In The Dam?

Doug Bandow looks at the current status of abortion as a political issue. Are the Democrats finally starting (but just barely) to see that the whole thing is a suicide pill for them?

Former Democratic Rep. Tim Roemer (Ind.) is running for Democratic National Committee Chairman and says "there must be a place in our party" for opponents of abortion. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) has advocated finding "common ground" in the abortion debate. Election losses wonderfully concentrate the minds of politicians.


[M]any on the Left are unable to even contemplate a legitimate argument against legal abortion. There long has been no quicker or surer way to be considered a Neanderthal than to suggest that the unborn might warrant legal protection.

In practice, the pro-abortion lobby errs "on the side of inhumanity," as one satirical blogger put it. That is a strange position for a party that claims to speak for the poor and disadvantaged.


But more to the point for Democratic politicians, the pro-choice mantra is politically costly. Polls find an eight-point margin for the pro-life perspective among voters.


Strategist Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 campaign, cites abortion as an issue that puts "us into the extreme and not the mainstream." She adds: "Even I have trouble explaining to my family that we are not about killing babies."

The outgoing Democratic Chairman of Iowa, Gordon Fischer, complained that Republicans had succeeded in defining Democrats "as the abortion any time, anywhere party." Democratic consultant Howard Wolfson works with pro-abortion groups yet acknowledged that "Either we're going to begin talking about this a different way and making our arguments effectively, or we're going to keep losing."


John Kerry recently told a meeting of Democratic activists that they had to demonstrate they didn't like abortion. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, reportedly observed: "There was a gasp in the room."

But that gasp exemplifies the Democrats' challenge. Many activists don't understand what there is about abortion not to like. Others offer only rhetoric. For instance, Sen. Clinton restated her support for Roe, thereby offering little practical protection for the unborn.


But Democrats must do more than talk the talk. They must walk the walk.

It is not enough to talk about the unborn as life. Democrats must treat the unborn as life.

Have You Ever Seen A Newborn Hummingbird?

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This just came over my e-mail transom. I've always liked hummingbirds. They are quite active in the South Bay during the winter (all year, really, but they are more noticeable in the winter because there are less other birds around). One of my favorite things is to be walking around the neighborhood on a crisp winter day, with a deep cerulean blue, cirrus-streaked sky overhead, and to hear the distinctive, almost ultrasonic call of a hummingbird. I look to some nearby bare branches outlined like lace against the blue sky to see an iridescent green and red little guy sitting on a branch, with his little beak swishing tiny arcs as he looks this way and that.

Here's what the e-mail said about the above link:
This is truly amazing. Be sure to click on NEXT PAGE at the bottom of each page; there are 5 pages in all. A lady found a hummingbird nest and got pictures all the way from the egg to leaving the nest. Took 24 days from birth to flight. Because you'll probably never in your lifetime see this again, enjoy; and please share.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

"Mug Him Again!"

Nice column by John O'Sullivan today.

The Democrats were nervously realizing that, unless something dramatic happens, they will remain firmly committed to policies and attitudes that have lost them the last three elections.

It was reminiscent of the liberal judge who announced from the bench that although he had recently been mugged, he would nonetheless continue to impose short sentences — at which a passer-by yelled: "Mug him again." What the Democrats need is for someone to shout "Mug them again."

Unfortunately for them, that will be neither the media nor the other cultural elites in American life. Indeed, they will continue to mislead the Democrats about the relative popularity of Democrat and Republican policies, in part because they mislead themselves on the same topics.

You might say that there are two political spectrums in America today — an elite spectrum and a popular spectrum.

The elite spectrum has the Democrats in the center, the voters on the center-right, and the Republicans on the far right. Thus when some judicial appointee is discovered to have criticized racial preferences, he is described by the New York Times or CBS News as "out of the mainstream" even though about two thirds of the electorate is opposed to preferences too.

The same dismissive treatment is meted out to public figures who criticize the U.N., call for more defense spending, advocate "workfare," express pro-life views, oppose gay marriage, and so on. All are marginalized as extreme or wayward in the establishment media. As the example of racial preferences suggests, however, these judgments reflect elite opinion rather than the views of the American electorate.

When we look at the latter, a very different arrangement of political players begins to emerge. The popular spectrum of political opinion has the Democrats and liberal elites on the Left, the Republicans in the middle, and the voters out to their Right.

Immigration as an issue illustrates the popular spectrum to an almost embarrassingly exaggerated extent. About 70 percent of Americans (and only about one-fifth of American elites) think that mass immigration is a serious threat to the U.S. and needs to be curtailed. There are votes in cutting immigration levels — but you would never guess this from elite media coverage. And responding to this, both parties favor increasing immigration levels and reducing restrictions on entry.

What makes the Democrats' task of recovery so difficult is that the issues that most concern voters — namely, national security and moral issues — fit into the popular spectrum better (i.e., the Democrats and the voters are at opposite ends of the spectrum on such issues — with the GOP in the middle). But because the Democrats take their cue from elite institutions such as Hollywood and the media, they never realize their vulnerability. And every election defeat astonishes them.

If a Democrat were to outflank the GOP on an issue with a high salience on the popular spectrum, they might get back in the game. Senator Hillary Clinton has hinted she might do precisely that over illegal immigration — where President Bush is extremely vulnerable. But the Democrats' first forays into reconsidering such sensitive policies have plainly run into the sands of timidity, dogmatism, and elite complacency.

As long as that is the case, the Democrats will continue to lose — and continue to be surprised.

I've never been too worried about being outflanked on illegal immigration. It takes a Nixon to go to China, and if Hillary Clinton wants to open this issue as a live topic, I'm sure the Republicans would have no problem at all changing their tune and getting serious about immigration. Please don't throw us into that briar patch, Mrs. Clinton! IMHO this is an issue that is just waiting for someone (and it will have to be a Democrat) to light the match.

Scare Quotes Are Dangerous. Learn How To Use Them.

Especially around the kids. Just got around to looking at the LA Times article about the anti-abortion rally in San Francisco. I found this curiosity:
Those who hope the high court will eventually overturn Roe vs. Wade pointed to 45 million babies "killed" since the law was changed. Many prayed, sang and carried crosses and rosaries. As they held banners exhorting "Abortion Hurts Women" and "Celebrate Life," they were met with critical chants and taunts.

Now correct me if I'm "wrong", but shouldn't the "scare quotes" put into the article by the LA Times "newspaper" have gone around the word "babies" instead of around the word "killed"? I mean, nobody denies that "something" is being killed. "Killed" has never been the issue. "Babies" has. Either the "editors" are losing their touch, or there is a "mole" at the LA Times!

So, it seems that there have been 45 million babies who have had "something" done to them over the last 32 years. I wonder what?

Also, there was a quote from a counter-protestor who said

"We support rights for the individuals who are under attack by the current administration. These people are just proxies for that administration."

My dear paranoid sir, don't you understand democracy? We are not proxies of the Bush Administration, the Bush Administration is a proxy for us!

Tinhorn Chairlady Moll

The title of this post is an anagram for "Hillary Rodham Clinton". I've found many others. The Anchoress tells just why this is a good anagram here.

Bonus points to The Anchoress for coming up with the phrase "Shermanesque Tankism", too.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Blind Faith

Darn Floor has an excellent post on the Intelligent Design vs Darwinism controversy, a debate I've been following avidly since 1996.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Walk For Life

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Yesterday, I took part as a crowd monitor in the first annual West Coast Walk For Life, which took place in San Francisco. News story in the SF Chronicle here, nice pictures here.

The counter protestors were the usual bunch of howling leftists, whose chants and insults betrayed little more than a deep, deep ignorance. As you can see from the photos linked above, the marchers were just normal folks, mostly Catholic. It was almost eerie how quiet and gentle the crowd of 6,000 marchers was, a silence you could hear whenever the moonbats simmered down, which was pretty rarely. I'll bet some mighty harsh bong hits were assaulting some mighty raw leftist throats last night!

The San Francisco police did a masterful job protecting the flanks of the march. I was a bit surprised that the march route took us right down the main drag of Fisherman's Wharf. When we were most of the way through the Wharf district, about 40 counter protestors suddenly sat down in the street right in front of the march, impeding our progress. How brave! Just like the civil rights movement! Except for being on the equivalent of the "KKK side" and all. Pro-Choice, Pro-Child. Pro-Lynching, Pro-Black. You know, whatever.

The police quickly came up with a contingency plan, and after a 15 minute stand off, we simply did an about face and took a side route, leaving the folks sitting in the street to enjoy their "victory".

At one point as we walked by, someone was shouting "Where are the lions! We need lions!" Refreshing candor, for once.

It was quite obvious from many of the signs and chants that this was about a lot more than abortion to the left wingers. Here we were, the shock troops of Chimpler's Fascist Amerikka, and they were here to give us what for. What was amusing is that their din simply made the whole thing kind of festive and worthwhile. It just wouldn't have been the same without them...

Here's what one Free Republic commenter had to say:
hi San Francisco area Freepers! I was there today. First rally I've done of any kind since before the 2000 election. What an amazing experience.

The Walk for Life crowd was respectful, humble, quiet, civilized, law abiding (and fully dressed), prayerful, cheerful and friendly.

The people protesting the Walk for Life were everything CCC said- it is really hard to describe. The pics do it best. The comments hurled toward us were shocking, as were most of the signs they held.

The SF police were wonderful. I would not have wanted to be there without their friendly, watchful protection. I think I'll send them a thank you note for their work.

Many of the opposition side were telling us to go back to the valley; back to 'Modesto'. They told us that we were not welcome in their city. The hateful things they said were amazing. The only ones that really stick in my mind were the ones with the spiritual element; like how they hate God, and how they hate Christians. They were very open about it.

The walk was a happy success. The theme was a very positive , pro woman, pro family, 'Women deserve better'. It was a beautiful day and I made a few new friends and saw old friends, and it was very encouraging to see so many people from all over CA and even from other states, who love life and want to encourage America to choose life.

Update: Here's an account by a Stanford student who attended.

Update: The opposition now has a photo gallery.

Update: The opposition has made a video .WMV file available here. Enjoy the cacophany. Note that there is neither screaming nor obnoxious chants to be heard from the pro-lifers.

Update: Some opposition blog post narratives here and here. One contains the paragraph:

Mom and I reached Market Street, turned left and--God Bless America!--there were thousands of like-minded gals, guys and babes, toting signs, blowing whistles, banging drums, flying their ubiquitious green "Pro-Choice" balloons high in the air. (I appreciated that choice of green balloons, myself, that fertile, verdant, full of life color.)


Update: Over-the-top leftist raving here and here. Some prime stuff. Fight the Power, Man!

Update: Lying is the greatest tribute.

Update: Very good Coulter column here.

Update: Sowell takes notice.

Update: Margaret Sanger's grandson says it's time to drop the fig leaf and celebrate abortion.

Update: Some new and remarkably high-quality photos are here.

Update: Letter to the Chronicle from a pro-choice marcher who contrasts the rage of the pro-choice marchers with the peacefulness of the pro-life marchers (toward the bottom of the letters page).


Found this graphic at Right Wing News.

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Words Of Wisdom

Found this via Instapundit. It is a talk entitled "What You'll Wish You'd Known", intended for high school students. Lengthy, but worthwhile, with lots of food for thought.

A few excerpts:
Suppose you're a college freshman deciding whether to major in math or economics. Well, math will give you more options: you can go into almost any field from math. If you major in math it will be easy to get into grad school in economics, but if you major in economics it will be hard to get into grad school in math.

Flying a glider is a good metaphor here. Because a glider doesn't have an engine, you can't fly into the wind without losing a lot of altitude. If you let yourself get far downwind of good places to land, your options narrow uncomfortably. As a rule you want to stay upwind. So I propose that as a replacement for "don't give up on your dreams." Stay upwind.

How do you do that, though? Even if math is upwind of economics, how are you supposed to know that as a high school student?

Well, you don't, and that's what you need to find out. I can give you some tips on how to recognize upwind. Look for smart people and hard problems. Smart people tend to clump together, and if you can find such a clump, it's probably worthwhile to join it. But it's not straightforward to find these, because there is a lot of faking going on.

To a newly arrived undergraduate, all university departments look much the same. The professors all seem forbiddingly intellectual and publish papers unintelligible to outsiders. But while in some fields the papers are unintelligible because they're full of hard ideas, in others they're deliberately written in an obscure way to seem as if they're saying something important. This may seem a scandalous proposition, but it has been experimentally verified, in the famous Social Text affair. Suspecting that the papers published by literary theorists were often just intellectual-sounding nonsense, a physicist deliberately wrote a paper full of intellectual-sounding nonsense, and submitted it to a literary theory journal, which published it.

The best protection is always to be working on hard problems. Writing novels is hard. Reading novels isn't. Hard means worry: if you're not worrying that something you're making will come out badly, or that you won't be able to understand something you're studying, then it isn't hard enough. There has to be suspense.


Rebellion is almost as stupid as obedience. In either case you let yourself be defined by what they tell you to do.


This may sound like [malarkey]. I'm just a minor, you may think, I have no money, I have to live at home, I have to do what adults tell me all day long. Well, most adults labor under restrictions just as cumbersome, and they manage to get things done. If you think it's restrictive being a kid, imagine having kids.

The only real difference between adults and high school kids is that adults realize they need to get things done, and high school kids don't. That realization hits most people around 23. But I'm letting you in on the secret early. So get to work.


Your teachers are always telling you to behave like adults. I wonder if they'd like it if you did. You may be loud and disorganized, but you're very docile compared to adults. If you actually started acting like adults, it would be just as if a bunch of adults had been transposed into your bodies. Imagine the reaction of an FBI agent or taxi driver or reporter to being told they had to ask permission to go the bathroom, and only one person could go at a time. To say nothing of the things you're taught. If a bunch of actual adults suddenly found themselves trapped in high school, the first thing they'd do is form a union and renegotiate all the rules with the administration.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Found a little tidbit over at Roger L. Simon's blog. A commenter was talking about the anti-Bush protestors at the inauguration:
I loved it when one of the leaders of the group was proclaiming how horrid the economic situation in the states was and then asked the crowd "How many of you took the day of from work to join the protest" Huge roar, " Now how many of you are still looking for a job" Small cry. It must have killed him to have to say " Oh, just a small amount of unempoyment, thats good". It must be a drag to have your own pre-conceptions shattered by your own followers.

Another commenter said it reminded him of a Life Of Brian routine.

[----excerpt in full----]

Reg:''' They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, not just from us, from our fathers and from our fathers' fathers.

Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers.

Reg: Yes.

Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers.

Reg: All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return? (he pauses smugly)

Xerxes: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Xerxes: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.

Masked Commando: And the sanitation!

Stan: Oh yes ... sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: All right, I'll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done ...

Matthias: And the roads ...

Reg: (sharply) Well yes obviously the roads ... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads ...

Another Masked Commando: Irrigation ...

Other Masked Voices: Medicine ... Education ... Health

Reg: Yes ... all right, fair enough ...

Commando Nearer The Front: And the wine ...

General Audience: Oh yes! True!

Francis: Yeah. That's something we'd really miss if the Romans left, Reg.

Masked Commando At Back: Public baths!

Stan: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now.

Francis: Yes, they certainly know how to keep order ...(general nodding) ... let's face it, they're the only ones who could in a place like this.(more general murmurs of agreement)

Reg: All right ... all right ... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order ... what have the Romans done for us?

Xerxes: Brought peace!

Reg: (very angry, he's not having a good meeting at all) What!? Oh ... (scornfully) Peace, yes ... shut up!

[----end excerpt----]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Supply And Demand

Jim Geraghty examines some simple media economics: too few liberals, too darned many liberal outlets. Is there some consolidation in our future?

Enact Socialism, Or We'll Kill The Kids

Good item in Jay Nordlinger's column today.
Another columnist, E. J. Dionne, gave me a flashback. Years ago — I think I was in college — I came up with a summary phrase for Ted Kennedy's rhetoric about abortion: "Enact socialism, or we'll kill the kids." That is the language of the hostage-taker. You see, Kennedy is always saying that, before we can move against abortion, we have to achieve a society in which nothing bad ever happens to a child.

Well, in a recent column, Dionne was hailing a big Kennedy speech:

[The senator's] challenge to the right-to-life movement was plain. "History teaches that abortions do not stop because they are made illegal. Indeed, half of all abortions in the world are performed in places where abortions are illegal." Those who oppose abortion need to face the fact that "the number of abortions is reduced when women and parents have education and economic opportunity." Don't those who care about the right to life have a special obligation to make universal prenatal care — and health care generally — a priority?

The rhetoric never changes: Unless you sign on to what Hillary Clinton and Marian Wright Edelman ask for, you have no right to oppose the destruction of unborn children.

In that same column, Dionne quoted Kennedy as saying, "Surely, we can all agree that abortion should be rare, and that we should do all we can to help women avoid the need to face that decision."

Why should abortion be rare? Why? If it is not the destruction of an unborn child — if it is akin to an appendectomy — why should abortion be rare? No one goes around saying that appendectomies should be rare.

And what do you mean, "help women avoid the need to face that decision"? What need? Is that a plea for birth control — which is as plentiful as water?

Kennedy has uttered sophistic gibberish, and not very good sophistic gibberish at that.

Monday, January 17, 2005

When Americans Look At You Guys, What Do They See?

A very good post at Right Wing News.

Just a taste:
When most Americans think about Democrats, they think of gay "marriage," high taxes, peace at any cost, antipathy to religion, government control and nanny-state politics including welfare expansion and socialised medicine. The Democrats are seen as anti-gun, anti-industry, anti-military, anti-free trade, anti-capitalism, and anti-American sovereignty. Democrats are viewed as the party undermining public support for the war on terror, a war that most Americans understand we must fight and win. There's a reason for this, and it's not some vast right-wing conspiracy. Those are the policies of the Liberals who speak for the Democrats in every public forum. If you're a Democrat, and those policies don't sound like your views, then you'd better take your party back from the Liberals before it's too late. That doesn't mean allowing your leaders to pander to the center, pretending to be more conservative than they really are, as John Kerry did (though too late for the 2004 election) and Hillary Clinton will spend the next four years doing. You need to stand behind leaders who really DO represent your views.

One of the commenters to the Ace of Spades post had a great slogan for the Democrats as they try to reach out to Red State America:

Democrats have somehow managed to become a third-rate party in a two-party system.

For the most part, they seem to think a couple of head-fakes to the right will return them to power. Their new motto:

"Democrats...We Tolerate America!"

Yeah; that oughta' do it.

Divided We Stand

A great article by Don Feder today.

"Democrats may be in the minority in Congress, but we speak for the majority of Americans," Kennedy insisted in a speech last week.


Kennedy attributed his party’s shellacking in the last election – reminiscent of what Max Schmeling suffered at the hands of Joe Louis in 1938 (KO in Round 1) – to a failure to communicate its core principles to voters. "We were remiss in not talking more directly about them – about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive politics," was the word from Mt. Olympus.

But the only time the party of plunder has managed to elect a president in the last 40 years is when it nominated political chameleons – Carter in 1976, Clinton in ’92 and ’96. When Democrats speak candidly to voters about their fundamental values and the direction in which they want to take the nation (McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis) Americans run screaming in the opposite direction.

Consider, Michael Dukakis’ brilliant 1988 campaign. Here was another product of Massachusetts politics, liberal Neverland, who actually thought his ACLU membership and opposition to capital punishment (even if his wife was raped and murdered) would endear him to the electorate.

The Democrats – who speak for the majority of Americans, Kennedy claims – have won only 3 of the last 9 presidential elections. They speak for a majority of Americans, but haven’t controlled the House of Representatives in a decade. They speak for the American people, but have been in the minority in the Senate for most of the past 20 years. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the American people that the Democrats speak for us.


If you hold power long enough in a one-party state – North Korea, Cuba, Massachusetts – you can believe anything. Fidel Castro says he speaks for the Cuban people. Kim Jong Il believes those he holds in bondage adore him. Ted Kennedy thinks he’s a megaphone for the masses.

And to what can we attribute the public’s affinity for the Democrats? Clearly, it’s because Democratic ideals "unite Americans instead of dividing them," Kennedy explained in his National Press Club speech.

Here’s the way Democrats bring us all together, singing a rousing chorus of "We Are Family":

Affirmative Action – Does Kennedy actually imagine that middle-class whites enjoy losing educational and job opportunities to less qualified minorities, that they never feel resentment over this form of collective racial punishment? Apparently so. The Democrats’ idea of equality sets the races against each other.

Social Security – As young workers bear more and more of a burden for the Democrats’ greatest boondoggle, (workers who will never see a Social Security check, if the system remains unchanged) the generational warfare between those supporting the system and retirees grows. Just another way the Democrats – who will demagogue a pay-as-you-go system to the last breath – help us to find common ground.

Taxes – Whenever tax cuts are in the offing, Democrats resort to class-warfare rhetoric – trying to pit the poor and middle class against the affluent. It’s always tax cuts for the greedy rich, which (it goes without saying) they don’t deserve – even though they’re paying a disproportionate share of total taxes.

Judicial nominations – Through an unconstitutional permanent filibuster, the Democratic minority in the Senate has prevented a vote on conservative judicial nominees. Prior to Bush, along with the presidency went the power to shape the judiciary (a power Clinton fully utilized, with his appointments of ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court). The voters who elected Bush twice are expected to feel no resentment toward the party that has unilaterally changed the rules to prevent their votes from impacting the federal bench.

Gay marriage – The American people adamantly oppose changing the millennia-old definition of marriage. Last year (by overwhelming margins), voters in 14 states passed marriage-protection amendments to their state constitutions. Democrats used a filibuster to prevent the Federal Marriage Amendment from coming up for a vote in the Senate. Kennedy and Co. are willing to see the institution of marriage radically transformed by the most elitist, un-democratic branch of government – the judiciary.

Abortion – While the public is split here (the majority say they’re pro-life, but want some abortions to remain legal), Democrats are radical and inflexible, even opposing such modest restraints as parental notification and a ban on partial-birth abortion. Moreover, they would force Catholics and evangelicals to pay for the procedures for low-income women. If the Democrats unite us any more, it may spark another civil war.

Publicly acknowledging God – In league with the ACLU and other secular fundamentalists, federal judges have taken away a right Americans have enjoyed for most of their history – to affirm God through public display of religious symbols (including The Ten Commandments) and other discreet acknowledgements of our religious heritage. The 9th Circuit Appeals Court even tried to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Atheist Michael Newdow, the plaintiff in that case, was recently in federal court seeking to prevent what he called "Christian religious acts" (prayers) at the Inauguration. Democrats fostered the misinterpretation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause that facilitates campaigns of religious cleansing. The roughly 96 percent of the American people who are believers are expected to placidly accept the left’s war on faith.

This is the true conceit of the Democratic Party: While pushing policies that have Americans at each other’s throats, they insist that they are bringing us together.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Bottomless Capacity For Self-Delusion

Odd opinion piece by a Dem consultant on Opinion Journal today. The subhead of the piece is "Democrats will never win elections without better people and better ideas." That sentiment kind of puts the cart before the horse. It indicates that the number one priority for the Dems is to win, and policies and people are only subordinate means to that end, really just kind of a sideshow, I guess. Hey, thanks, Dems, glad to see you have the best interests of the country at heart.

The article begins thusly:
When John Kerry ripped defeat from the jaws of victory last November, losing to a wounded president with a failed record, a few of us Democratic outliers took some solace in thinking that his campaign's dismal performance might actually force the party to own up to its mortal electoral weaknesses. Turns out we grossly underestimated the national Democrats' capacity for self-delusion and self-defeat.

Yes, it's only been two months, and it's not realistic to expect the party to remake itself even before Inauguration Day. But consider the head-scratching choices that Democrats have made so far since hitting close to political rock bottom. (That being defined loosely as losing in 81% of the nation's counties with a war hero running against a draft-avoider who has bungled both Iraq and our national finances).

Ooohhhkayyy. Sir, you guys are nowhere near rock bottom if you're still thinking like this.

The rest of the piece sort of has the tone "We pretty well suck and are worthless. We need to start thrashing around and find something, anything so we can win again. That's our inspiring vision for America!"

Some other gems:

But I am guessing these are many of the same folks who urged Mr. Kerry not to respond to the deeply damaging calumnies that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were slinging at his war record. God forbid we dignified those tactics by standing up for ourselves and actually fighting back (instead of robotically telling people we'll fight for them).

If Kerry had an answer to what the Swift Vets were charging, we'd have heard it. He didn't. We didn't.

So if we hope to win, we Democrats have to get over our predilection to preserve people's self-esteem at all costs, stop engaging in the politics of self-destruction, and start making some hardheaded calculations about what it takes to become a majority party again.

A bold and inspiring vision for America. Calculations.

Also check out the reader responses. Many are quite good. Here are a couple:

Try Growing Up
Ed Falkner - Appleton, Wis.

Mr. Gerstein has it quite wrong. The Democrats didn't lose because they weren't understood, they didn't have enough hawks, they weren't persuasive enough, whatever.

No, y'all lost because we understood you too clearly. America disagrees that George W. Bush is a "failed President." America disagrees with the ad hominem Democrats think is persuasive argument.

America is tired of the bloody and unrelenting pro-abortion tilt of your party. Tired of tax and tax and tax and tax only to find it going to your favorite constituencies for votes.

And, for that matter, tired of your hypocritical moral blindness: Men and women who suit your policy ends you defend with great fervor, yet men whose policies you disagree with your party will trump up imagined moral failings (no, George W. Bush did not avoid the draft, though Bill Clinton did).

No, the reason your side lost is it is on the wrong side of policy as a rule, and it is run by a bunch of loud, ad hominem juveniles.

Change your policies and learn some respect of your opponents. Then maybe you can reverse the tide.

One Nail Down, Many to Go
Gregory Black - Centennial, Colo.

In the statement that the Democratic Party needs new ideas and new leaders, you hit the nail right on the head. It was a really big nail and easy to hit.

However, the article completely missed every other nail. Bush is in fact a very credible president with a solid plan and is very capable of executing that plan to the satisfaction of the conservative and moderate base.

The Democrats had ideas regarding what they wanted to do, but had no plan and even worst, had no evidence that it was a better plan than the one the Republicans offered. To the American people regarding the Democrats "Where's the beef?"

And worst, the Democrats have no insight regarding their abhorent behavior. To say that "we Democrats have to get over our predilection to preserve people's self-esteem at all costs" appears to be self delusion. I have never seen a party in over 40 years of being involved in politics that could not take any form of criticism or questioning without launching off into a tirade of desperate attacks, slurs, and rage as I have seen in the last 12 years. Basically, the Democrats are rude.

Otherwise, the article was a good start in the right direction for the Democrats. Where are the Trumans when you need them?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Great Moments In Dorkdom

I drive a '93 Honda del Sol convertible. Great car. I bought it new (Milano Red paint), had it Teflon'd, kept it covered. When it's clean, gleaming like a mirror, people still sometimes say, "Wow, is this new? What kind of car is this?" But I...I am not worthy. Check out what this guy did with his del Sol (keep scrolling). Via Ace of Spades.

Taranto Is On Fire

Lots of good stuff in Best Of The Web Today, including a deconstruction of the latest statistical lying (or maybe just unfounded, ignorant hysteria) by a liberal columnist, math scores surprisingly slipping in a school district which defined the number-one priority for teaching math as, "Respect for Human Differences--students will live out the system wide core of 'Respect for Human Differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.", and Hugh Downs explaining that the bias of the press is due to being "liberated in thought, and more in touch with what is happening."

There is also this item:
The Media vs. the Democrats

Reader Tom Davis offers some interesting amplification of our item yesterday about what journalist Howard Fineman calls the American Mainstream Media Party or AMMP:

The descent of the U.S. media into liberal advocacy has been to the detriment of the country, notwithstanding the service done by it to the country during Watergate and--partially--Vietnam (partially because Vietnam was winnable prior to bad decisions made in Washington during the 1962-65 time frame, but probably not thereafter, but the media would never allow that position to be acknowledged). The biggest loss to the country has been the emasculation of the Democratic Party.

In large part due to the ideological congruence between the AMMP and the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party's main function has been subsumed by the AMMP. It is the AMMP that sets the liberal agenda, and the Democrats follow. It is the AMMP that makes the most effective challenges to conservatives, and the Democrats merely echo them. The AMMP is a much more effective shadow government than the Democrats are. As a result the Democrats have become vain, intellectually lazy and self-righteous. This dynamic is also visible in your item on Jill Lawrence's article the previous day.

And the AMMP still doesn't get it. When Dan Rather states that the media's role is to "speak truth to power," he overlooks the fact that the AMMP is a power. Cloaked in its mantle of pretend objectivity, the AMMP desires to influence governance for the common good as it alone sees it, and it really does. Voters like me not only repudiated the AMMP in 2004, but we consciously did so because a proper balance of power within government demands that the Republican Party be strengthened against the AMMP so that the two are roughly equal in influence. As long as the Democratic Party is favored by the AMMP, it must be relegated to the backbench, to be brought into play only when we face Republican incompetence or corruption.

This sounds mostly right to us, though we'd add that liberals' reliance on the courts to impose their agenda has also contributed to the degeneration of their skills at democratic persuasion. In any case, the decline of the liberal media may turn out to be a necessary condition for an eventual revival of the Democratic Party.

Tsunami Tales

This came over my e-mail transom today. It's definitely worth reading.

[----Begin E-mail----]

Thought you'd all find this a bit interesting. I've visited this island several times and am still missing friends.


Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 12:28 AM
Subject: Tsunami

I want to thank everyone for all the tremendous well wishes and thoughtfulness over the past few days. As many of you knew, I took my sabbatical over the Holiday break. It consisted of a three (3) week trip to Southeast Asia with my wife and our sons. Our trip started in Singapore, then quickly moved on to Bali. We met a long-time Australian friend who stayed with us there and introduced us to several local friends he had acquired over the last 30 years - it was an unforgettable experience of both visual and cultural beauty. We then moved to Phuket in Thailand for two (2) days for the sole purpose of touring Phang Nga Bay. I have been to so many picturesque places in this world, but can think of no other that compare in beauty and magnitude to this vast "field" of green "rock islands". I have attached a picture of one of the more famous islands in Phang Nga National Park - just one of hundreds of pictures we took over the course of the entire trip. I recommend enlarging the view to 50%.

On Christmas Day, we headed out from Phuket to Phi Phi Don, the only inhabited island of a group of six (6), and approximately a one (1) hour boat ride of Phuket. The trip plan was to go to an extremely remote beautiful place for a week and completely relax, then return to Singapore to "re-acquaint" ourselves a few days with civilization and return home. The next morning, the tsunami hit. While Phuket Island was hit very hard, Khao Lak, the area located directly to the north on the mainland and Phi Don, located to the southeast, were decimated. Phi Phi Don is hourglass shaped with the majority of the resorts, town, shops, etc. residing on a small flat strip of land connecting the two mountainous lengths of the island (picture #2). Surprisingly, all parts of the island experienced a minimum of 3-5 meter waves. Unfortunately, one of the island's two large bays faced right into the large southeasterly directed waves - 10 meters in height. Some witnesses reported that the waves were intensified as a result of the narrowing of the bay combined with a wrapping effect as the wave ripped up and across cliff faces on the way into town. As some of the people saw the first wave heading in, they ran in the opposite direction only to be faced with another wave heading into town from the bay on the opposite side of the strip. This is an extremely remote island and accurate/consistent information has been very difficult to obtain. As best I can tell from the written accounts to date, this entire strip of land was covered in water up to the height of a two (2) story building. The latest account estimates the death toll at 2,500; it could take weeks more to recover the vast majority. The volume of material, debris and sand that was moved has resulted in some victims being buried deep in the sand.

We were unbelievably fortunate enough to be staying on 1 of 3 of approximately 70 or so resorts that weren't severely damaged or completely destroyed. Our hotel, The Phi Phi Island Village Resort, is one of less than a handful that are located on the North Eastwardly facing side of the island. Between that and the shallow sandy bay approximately 800 meters long x 100 meters inland that lies in front of the resort, there was very little damage. Looking at the destruction all around us, it is simply unbelievable and we are thankful and lucky beyond belief. At the time the tsunami hit, we were staying high on the hillside in one of the villas and could see it all for several kilometers out - wave after wave for hours upon hours. Water came into the resort approximately 200 meters with the first big wave, but because most of the resort is comprised of beach bungalows raised slightly more than one (1) meter off the ground, it was little affected. Just a few minute walk over a hill on the west side of our resort is the most popular snorkeling area, Lana Bay. One must walk over a bridge crossing a lagoon that borders our resort. This "finger" of the island is what took the direct hit from the ten (10) meter waves. An older Swiss couple from the resort was walking in this bay and was caught in the torrent of water that ultimately dragged them 400 meters inland crashing into the lagoon. The husband caught a branch and wedged his body in front of it. His wife could only grab a branch from a trailing position and lost her grip. When the first wave subsided, he could hear her scream for help. By the time the 2nd wave hit, it was too late. We found her body in the lagoon hillside buried in the mud and mangrove trees three (3) days later. Three (3) other locals were found the same time. Keep in mind that this was a person whose whereabouts were KNOWN and was in an area easily accessible by hundreds of people and it took this long to find her. As it turned out, the inconceivable strength of this line of mangroves and their ability to funnel the water/debris through and out the lagoon, probably saved our resort from significant damage. I can't begin to imagine how long it will take to find the others, at least what is left by now. The thoughts are so deeply saddening.

The scene the days following was surreal. There we were snorkeling in completely undamaged coral reefs with thousands of vibrant fish surrounding us, the likes of which we have very seldom seen except during deep scuba diving adventures, with helicopters flying overhead transporting dead bodies out from the other side of the island. While some of the reefs were damaged, overall, the ocean again proved its amazing resilience. They actually believe the fish population will boom with the sad loss of so many fishermen. The impact of this event to the food supply for these poor people is just now being contemplated. The island itself is the most beautiful inhabited one I have ever seen (even more than Kauai on the Hawaiian Islands) - almost as beautiful, noble and humble as the Thai people themselves. Life has so many uncertainties and this just serves as one huge reminder to appreciate every moment and all it has to offer. While the entire trip far exceeded our expectations, more importantly, it is one that has changed us forever. Our appreciation for life and the love we have for one another was deepened to a level beyond words. Between missing the hit to Phuket by one day (the beach at Nai Yang where we stayed was leveled - the resort was actually OK), not being caught out snorkeling off of Phi Phi (something which we had planned to do approximately 1 hour after the time the first wave hit) and just barely getting the reservation at this resort due to a cancellation from another guest (consequently not staying at our 2nd choice resort in downtown Phi Phi), it was simply not our time. I guess we are all in some sense of shock still to this day. I have read so many articles and the numbers and the accounts begin to almost blend as the magnitude of the event throughout that region is inconceivable. Of all the things I have read, however, I strongly encourage you to read the below - it tells the story like no other I have read. It brings to light the immense horror and helplessness the countless number of people throughout the Indian Ocean faced - the ones that were far less fortunate than me and my family - in this case thousands who were located 1-2 miles from where we were staying. Most importantly, and the reason I share it with you, is the way in which it provides a much better understanding, at least to me, of why so few survived. Thanks again for all the concern.


Surviving the tsunami


Luke Simmonds, Mediaedge:cia's director of trading for Europe, Middle East and Africa, experienced the horror of the tsunami while water skiing on holiday with friends in Thailand. Here is his full account of his escape from the tragedy, which claimed one of his closest friends.

"This whole experience has been shocking but if anything good has come out of it, is the knowledge that I have some of the best friends and colleagues anyone could have.

"I truly appreciate all of the calls and the messages - it does help.

"I am okay, my injuries are nothing, just some cuts and bruises.

Ironically, I received nearly all of these after the event, walking or rather stumbling around the island.

"Unfortunately, many people have not been so lucky. The pictures on TV give a clear picture of the death and destruction, but I haven't seen anything that comes close to depicting the horror of the injuries.

"A number of people have suggested that I write down my experience - I think this in part will help me, but also saves me repeating the story too many times.

"I do not feel uncomfortable with sharing this story, and in some respects I think it probably helps recounting what happened.

"Please do not feel awkward if you want to talk to me about this.

"Below, I will try to recount exactly what happened to me, before during and after. At times, it will be graphic so please be warned.

I arrived in Thailand on the 20th and spent three days in Phuket on Kata Beach with a Swedish girlfriend and her family.

"They had planned their trip for months. I decided very last minute to join them before going onto meet Danish friends in Koh Phi Phi, and finally onto Bangkok with friends from Hong Kong for New Year.

"I moved onto Phi Phi on the 24th and celebrated Christmas with three of my Danish friends - Lars and his girlfriend Rine, and Jesper.

"On the evening of the 25th, I was exhausted so didn't join them for dinner and went to bed at around 9pm.

"This is important as anyone who knows me, will know that I tend to sleep late! But given a long nights rest, I was up early and had breakfast with Lars & Rine.

"At about 10:30am we went to the beach. Lars and I planned to go sailing, but there was no wind so we opted for water skiing.

"We waited for the boat and noted the wind was picking up so we would sail afterwards. First Lars skied and then it was my turn.

"At the moment I got into the water the lagoon started to drain out - in particular on the far right hand side of the bay (as you look out to sea).

"Within seconds it was too shallow to ski, so I climbed back into the boat. Lars, I and the driver sat there just watching the water drain away without any comprehension of what was to happen next.

"At first we saw a couple on a Kayak struggling in the current - they were being sucked out to sea. But then almost immediately they were on the top of a small wave kayaking into the beach at some speed.

"We were excited by the sight and just imagined they were having some fun. Of course we could not know of the huge volume of water that was underneath them, that once it reached the shallow water would simply rise up into a huge wave. That is basically what happened next.

"We were in the ski boat facing towards the shore, when the water passing underneath us began to pull the boat around and towards the shore.

"Almost out of nowhere there was a huge wall of water, behind us at the beach. We were at the bottom of a ten-metre wave that stretched the entire length of the beach, maybe 1km.

"I said to Lars that we were in trouble - at this moment it didn't even dawn on me that the wave would pass through the island causing the destruction that it did.

"I screamed at the driver to get us out to sea, but even at full power, the boat just got sucked to the bottom of the wave.

"The wave collapsed on the top of the boat. I remember covering my head and rolling into a ball.

"Underwater I just kept on thinking "please don't get hit by something ". I came to the surface, breathed, and then was pulled under again.

"I like to think that all of the diving I have done helped me - I knew not to fight the current and to wait as long as I could before reacting.

"The truth is: I was just lucky. I came to the surface, grabbed some more air, and then saw a huge wave coming at me.

"I could see that it wasn't about to break where I was so I took a breath and dived through it, coming up the other side. I grabbed some wood to hang onto, but then saw a life jacket (presumably from our boat) floating ten meters away.

"I swam like crazy for it - in my head I knew it was the best thing to do. I got it on and instantly felt safe - I was afloat in the sea and things didn't look that bad for me.

"I knew I was safe from drowning I just had to wait for help. I looked for Lars, saw our driver first, and then Lars about 150 meters away, he looked unhurt, but even from that distance I could see his face had taken on a different aspect. I have thought about this since and have decided that it was survival.

"We were all then pushed inland, over what I now know was the Cabana Hotel pool where so many people had been when the wave struck.

"I saw the water flooding into open spaces and it was here that I got very frightened. Water was rushing into fill any empty voids and I could see that I was likely to go wherever the water went.

"I smashed into the first floor balcony of the hotel and was hanging on with my body being pulled under. It was too strong. I took a breath and then was pulled under the hotel through the ground floor pool side balconies.

"I am sure i survived due to the life jacket, as it was always trying to get me to the surface. I think I came up around the corner of the hotel and drifted a little way to the back of the Hotel before swimming to a tree and climbing up.

"About three or four minutes later the water subsided. I climbed down and almost immediately saw Lars and the driver, they were both fine. Then the screaming started.

"People started calling for their loved ones; at first a guy looking for his daughters - Fredericke and Isabella. I asked him where they had been (in the pool) and then I explained how far I had travelled and that we needed to spread out and walk away from the Hotel.

"Everywhere was devastation. The small wooden bungalows were ripped open. We called their names, we never found them. Then 2 French girls stuck up a tree asked me to help them down.

"I now know from Lars that he had a similar experience. Whilst looking for Fredericke and Isabella he found two Thai girls stuck in a basement room, filling up with water.

"On a lighter side, I understand one of the girls didn't want to come out as all of her clothes had been pulled from her body - Lars didn't give her a choice!

"At the Cabana Hotel we started to make a hospital area. Some people came on their own; others we heard screaming and we went to them.

"Another English guy, called CC was a psychiatrist, and so we kind of appointed him in charge. The first girl we collected from the rubble was an English girl called Sally.

"She was covered in the most severe cuts I have ever seen. Imagine those documentaries about liposuction, was like that.

"Gaping holes with grotesque cuts in the flesh, to the bone; she had at least seven lacerations over her legs and tummy. We saw wounds like this throughout the day caused by the debris in the water.

"The bungalows often had their roofs made of corrugated iron, which travelling through the water at 40kph clearly just tore through bodies.

"We kicked down a door to use as a stretcher and carried her to the first floor. She was the first, and then they just kept coming.

"A Japanese husband and wife - the wife had lost half of her throat. We simply held her neck together. A Swedish woman whose head was cleaved open - we tied her head together.

"A Japanese girl whose leg was so badly broken, we decided that we had to put it straight. I held her hand, and kissed her, whilst crying with her, as three guys pulled her leg straight.

"It took 3 or 4 minutes of the most unbelievable pain for this girl. She was amazing. I am still trying to find her. I know it was the stress of the situation but somehow there was a very special connection between us.

"Afterwards we all prayed for the rest of her group. She was missing 16 people! I have since contacted some Japanese newspapers as I feel that I will find it hard to put this behind me until I know what happened to her.

"I would get on a flight to Japan in an instant if I knew that I could see her again. Then there was an Israeli boy, travelling on his own, I think called Tommy. He had a major cut by his armpit and was petrified that he would lose his arm.

"I cleaned out his wound whilst trying to give reassurance. I'm pretty sure he would be okay as he was able to move everything - it just looked so horrible.

"Whilst we were helping someone, often you would hear: 'Doctor, please come and help my friend.' I didn't know whether to explain that I wasn't a doctor or not. Nine times out of ten, I said I wasn't, but still people were desperate for help.

"I think it was about 12:30pm now and around this time the first reports of more waves came. They never did, but the effect was to cause even more panic. Around this time I met another amazing person.

"Michelle walked over and asked if she could help. You need to understand we had very little. We were sending people off to the rooms (if they were prepared to leave the relative shelter of high ground) to get water from the mini bars, cleans sheets and the sewing kits (we thought we might have to sew up some of the wounds...fortunately we did not).

"I looked at Michelle and could tell she was holding back. I said we needed help, but how was she and who was she with? Her husband was missing, he'd been swimming. We cried, but then she just said, 'right, lets help these people'.... unbelievable!

"An hour later, her husband Marvin walked in, unhurt! I cannot describe to you that moment - it was pure joy.

"At around 2pm we heard that a boat was coming in. CC and I spoke and where concerned that people would panic and rush for the boat.

"He pointed out we would have to restrain people. I made an announcement about what was happening and said that only the most injured would be allowed to leave and that CC would decide who they were....I think we all knew who had to go.

"The boat came in and we carried about 20 people down to the boat on doors, deck chairs, etc. We took Sally, the 3 Japanese, a number of Swedish and Thai people.....I think it was about 20 people in total that went on that first boat.

"After that I tried to make it over to my hotel to find my friends. Lars and I had got separated and I hadn't seen him since the water first subsided.

"It was impossible to cross the island and it was in this journey that I started to see how bad the destruction was. In the 200 metres I travelled I saw at least 20 dead bodies.

"I gave up and went back to the Cabana Hotel. Time went by and as more warnings of waves came in, people left to go to higher ground...up the mountain.

"A number of people stayed and were debating the risks. To get to the mountain was probably 30 minutes across flat ground of total destruction. If a wave came and you were out there, you were dead - simple as that.

"At about 4pm a guy came in with a walkie-talkie and confirmed that another bigger wave was coming and that we were not high enough.

"This wave never came, but again the damage was done. Those that could walk left; I decided it was time I had to go too.

"As I was leaving a South African family - mother, grandmother, aunt and little girl - were making their way very slowly. They all had cuts to the legs.

"As I understand it, the little girl had drowned but they had given CPR and brought her back to life, but she was unresponsive. I said to the mother I would take her and go.

"I am not sure if she really understood. She passed me the little girl, and I went. I was very frightened. I did not look back. This has given me some nightmares.

"I got to the mountain and it was impossible to get up whilst holding a little unconscious six year old. An English guy helped me (his name may have been Adam and his girlfriend Emma), and we only got up about 15 metres.

"I sat there with her in my arms trying to feed her sugar water for about two hours. Eventually I decided she would not make it unless she got to a hospital.

"I climbed back down the mountain, which I could not have done without the help of an American guy called Larry and crossed the island (unbelievably scary, fear of another wave), got to the beach where there was a boat with about 100 people trying to board from one plank.

"The Thai's saw me with this little girl and just hoisted me aboard. Going out to sea was one of the most bizarre moments. The harbour was full of debris and dead bodies. Very silent. Everyone frightened of another wave.

"At sea, we boarded a bigger boat and waited for other boats to join us. I still held the little girl in my arms. Her name I thought was Shania (she had whispered it in a moment of consciousness), though I later found out it was Chane.

"We arrived at Phuket Town at approx 10.30pm and were the first into an ambulance, with two other English guys I met on the boat - Jimbo (21) and Mark (32).

"We went to the Mission Hospital and got the little girl into intensive care - I had not put her down for eight hours.

"I now have some understanding of what it must mean to be a parent and I look forward to that day for me.

"Later though, we had to move to the government hospital to get a brain scan. All okay, so back to Mission hospital. Throughout the night I tried to find relatives of the little girl.

"I called the South African embassy (shut), so left a message of who I was, where I was, and who I had. I spoke to British embassy and repeated the story.

"In intensive care there were two other Europeans - Angelika from Austria, and Antonio from Portugal.

"Antonio's girlfriend Anna was there, unhurt, so we talked a lot. She helped me. I felt very responsible for the little girl and was suffering some guilt at taking her from the Mother.

"I kept on thinking about how the amother must be feeling, not knowing where and how her little girl was.

"Later on I noticed the Austrian woman (who I would find out was called Angelika Thomes) looking in my direction. I went over to speak to her. 'How are you, are you ok?'.

"She just burst into tears - she had lost her husband and 15 year old son. I told her that I would go and phone the Austrian embassy and give them her details.

"However, the next day we heard that both her husband and son were alive and well! Such happiness.

"During the night I called Angelika's friend in Austria (Karin) and told her what was going on, who I was and where we were.

"An hour later a call was passed to me. 'Doctor Luke, this is Angelika's doctor in Austria'!

"This happened on a number of occasions, people mistaking me for a Doctor. I must say this was quite surreal. Especially as I was wearing a pair of ripped shorts from the day before.

"Her doctor [Angelika's] and I spoke and he was just happy to be able to talk to someone properly in English.

"I love the Thai people, they are simply one of the, if not THE, kindest races out there, but in our hospital language was a problem.

"In the intensive care unit not one of the nurses spoke English. Often I would go down to the administration department to talk to the staff there; they were excellent and were really trying to help, but it was chaos in the hospitals.

"Perhaps worse were the lists - names were spelt wrong, nationalities wrong, etc. All this made it more complicated to find people.

"I slept a few hours at the hospital and about 6am the little girl Chane opened her eyes. We played a game of trying to spell out her surname.

"I held up letters in front of her and she nodded or pointed at them. Her surname was PANAINO. I ran (hobbled) downstairs to phone the embassy.

"I kind of broke down at this point for a little while. I had been desperate to find her parents, but with no name,and with her not talking it seemed an impossible task.

"Now it seemed just a matter of time. At this point I still hadn't spoken to anyone from home or any of my friends. Losing your mobile phone cuts you off from the world. How many numbers do you know?

"I didn't know many and was too tired to concentrate. I was leaving messages at home, my brother's mobile, even tried the office. But I still hadn't spoken to anyone.

"I called my own mobile and heard messages of people calling in. Most importantly I heard that Anneli (my Swedish girlfriend) and her family were fine.

"However, the desperation in her voice was clear. She wanted me to call her but didn't leave her number! I tried to call her hotel but the lines were down, so no way to tell her I was ok.

"I then realised that if I could get my messages I could re-record my own message. So I called back and did this. Unfortunately it did not save the message, so it wasn't until I called back six hours later that I realised this. I recorded a new message which I think many of you heard.

"At about 9am I walked through the hospital reception and heard my name shouted. Corny i know, but of all the hospitals in all the towns, there was Lars and his girlfriend Rine!

"Both of them well, cuts & bruises. No sign of Jesper and today as I write this almost a week later we still have no news.

"I think we accept that he has gone, but just hope he did not suffer and that we can find his body. We left the hospital to go to the Pearl Hotel, where all the Scandinavians were being moved to.

"I stayed with them a little while but felt disconnected and isolated. I wanted to be around British people and I wanted to go back to the hospital to find out how Chane was - so I left.

"I have spoken to Lars about what happened to Jesper and this is all we know: Jesper was on the beach with Rine when they saw the wave coming.

"At first they gathered up some of our belongings and then started to run through the hotel bungalows that we had been staying at - Phi Phi Charlie. Running in flip flops is hard.

"Jesper fell over and Rine fell on top of him. They got up, left everything and carried on running. They were separated. Rine was trying to get up some stairs when the water came. She was hanging onto the top step, with water up to her neck, when two Thai guys pulled her up to safety. She did not see what happened to Jesper.

"Back at the hospital, at about 11am, a nurse came in holding a mobile phone which she shoved next to the ear of was Daddy!

"Chane could not talk, i took the phone. It was not her Dad, but her Uncle Anton. I told him who I was and where we were.

"He arrived 30 minutes later and collapsed into my arms. Actually I collapsed into his too. We just cried and hugged. He had spoken to the Auntie and knew who I was.

"The mother and grandmother were all fine just miles away. I explained the story and how guilty I felt for taking her. He was brilliant and just thanked me for saving her life and told me that the mother was so grateful.

"Since getting back to the UK, I have called the hospital , the mother was there, we spoke, it was great...nothing else to be said.

"I think around 2pm I had this sense that it was time for me to leave. There was no-one else left who I was connected with that hadn't met their family/friends, yet I was on my own and still hadn't spoken to anyone.

"I went to the City Hall to get papers but gave up after an hour when someone said, just get up to Bangkok and sort it out there - a Thai guy gave me the shoes he was wearing, a t-shirt from someone else.

"I went to Phuket airport and waited five hours before getting on free flight from Thai Airways.

"At the airport I met the two French girls I had got down from the tree 36 hours earlier! I became part of their extended family as they had been 'adopted' by a French guy, Bernard, and his wife and kids.

"At Bangkok, within 30 minutes I had a piece of paper to admit me to the UK, and within one hour I was on the BA flight that had come from Sydney, First Class.

"I lost the plot here. For about an hour I was in shock. I could not stop shaking and crying, I think the plane represented home. The staff were great and I really must contact BA to let them know that the crew on that flight helped me significantly.

"Home: my brother, the Press, guilt.

"I am safe, unhurt and I was out so quickly. Every day I think about what happened and whether I could have done more.

"I have a strong urge to go back, but think that first I will have to go to Denmark to be with my friends there to deal with the loss of Jesper. I sleep, but wake up very early.

"I am glued to the TV. I have contacted the press, as some of you will have seen. I want to know what happened to the people we helped.

"Last night Sally's Mum called. She is recovering in Bangkok hospital. Another amazing call from a mother who was frightened for her daughter. She knows the extent of Sally's injuries, but she is alive and will recover. I hope to go and see them in Jersey when they are ready.

"I am now just looking for the Japanese girl. I have sent an email to some of the papers out there and hope that someone will pick up on the story - I hope so.

"I lost everything out there. The only thing I came back with were the shorts I was wearing and lots of paper with names, telephone numbers, messages to give to family and friends.

"I know that I am very lucky to be alive. We must do everything we can to help those that have not been so lucky. I urge you to go and make a financial donation - if you have done it it again.

"I am trying to get a passport so I can go to Denmark, but it seems that it may take some days. I will come to the office and already I have read all of your mails.

"Please forgive me If I have not written back yet, I hope that this story will answer your questions. I cannot wait to see you all soon."

===== "The cure for everything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea." Isak Dinesen

[----End E-mail----]

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

One Of The All Time Great Logic Puzzles

It's neat to see this one getting talked about. Check out Dean Esmay's original post on the subject, then look at Ace of Spades and associated comments. When I've posed this question to really smart associates, it's unbelievable what an argument it can turn into before you can get them to see the right answer. I still like to ask folks this one. Serendipitously, this is a topic right when I'm getting back into some heavy-duty self-study of calculus, transfinite numbers, and the whole question "what is a number". Why am I doing that? Because I originally learned a lot of it half a lifetime ago, it is beautiful, and I want to "get back into it".

Ace has another puzzle post here.

If These Issues Are So Trivial, Why Don't You Change Your Views?

Some good logic from James Taranto.
Fresh from his re-election victory, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin "went looking for a warm place to golf" and ended up in an exotic land called Alabama. In case you haven't heard of Alabama, it is one of those "red states" that President Bush carried (by a margin of better than 25%). In an op-ed for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feingold discusses what he found there.

Well, sort of. He doesn't recount any actual encounters with locals, except for the cashier at the Bates House of Turkey, a restaurant that sells Bush bumper stickers. ("We're Democrats," Mrs. Feingold tells the cashier, who thanks them for "not leaving like some people do when they see those stickers.")

Otherwise, Feingold's report from Alabama consists entirely of generalities. It seems Alabamans are really poor: The senator "heard repeatedly of the difficult struggles that so many working families are enduring in both urban and rural areas." And in considering why the state votes the way it does, Feingold detects what the Ayn Rand Institute calls "the ugly hand of altruism":

I can only be humbled by their sacrifice.

But because I am a lawmaker and a student of history, I also know who has been asking them to give so much.

And I can only wonder how many more generations of central Alabamians will say "yes" when the increasingly powerful Republican Party asks them to be concerned about homosexuality but not about the security of their own health, about abortion but not about the economic futures of their own children.

As my wife and I drove through Greenville that night, I thought how fundamentally unfair this all is in order to support an increasingly radical conservative movement.

Of course it is a familiar Democratic trope that red-state voters are impoverished, bigoted bumpkins who vote against their own economic interests because the GOP fools them into caring about trivial matters like homosexuality and abortion. A best-selling book, "What's the Matter With Kansas?," laid out the case last year.

In truth, the argument is so full of holes that a Green Bay Packers fan could wear it on his head. For one thing, there is at the very least a tension between the stereotype of the GOP as a party of impoverished dupes and the other Democratic stereotype of the GOP as the party of the rich.

It appears that the latter stereotype is closer to the truth. The 2004 exit polls found that John Kerry outpolled President Bush by 63% to 36% among voters making less than $15,000 a year and 57% to 42% among those making $15,000 to $30,000. Among those in the $30,000 to $50,000 range the two candidates ran nearly even (Kerry 50%, Bush 49%), and Bush led 56% to 43% among those making $50,000 a year or more.

So the Democrats actually are the party of the poor. The problem is that there aren't that many poor people in America, or if there are, they tend not to vote. Only 8% of the exit-poll participants were in the under $15,000 group, and only 45% made less than $50,000.

But for the sake of argument, let's assume that the economic portion of Feingold's analysis is correct--that lots of poor people vote against their own economic interests when they cast ballots for Republicans--or at least that he actually believes it. If Democrats care so much about the "downtrodden," and if the GOP is playing on their false consciousness by emphasizing things that don't matter like abortion and homosexuality, why don't the Democrats simply adopt pro-life and antigay positions, so that they can win office on their superior economic programs and actually do something for these fortuneless folks?

The question answers itself, doesn't it? Russ Feingold would never endorse, say, the Human Life Amendment or the Federal Marriage Amendment, because they are against his principles. Indeed, we're guessing he has enough integrity that he'd rather lose an election than change these positions.

In other words, when Feingold writes disparagingly of Alabama voters' concern about homosexuality and abortion, it isn't because he regards these as trivial matters. Rather, it is because he does not respect the views of those who disagree.
The Journal Sentinel speculates that Feingold's Alabama trip may presage a 2008 presidential run. Given his condescending attitude toward red-state voters, Republicans can only hope so.