Wednesday, May 31, 2006

How many Hummer-Years does Laurie David consume?

Greg Easterbrook used a great term in a recent review of the Al Gore movie, "An Inconvenient Truth". It's "Hummer-Years":
For David to fly in a private jet from Los Angeles to Washington would burn about as much petroleum as driving a Hummer for a year; if she flew back in the private jet, that's two Hummer-years.
This is a great way to measure the hypocrisy of celebrities who want the "little people" to minimize their environmental impact, while making little or no sacrifice themselves. (Unless the sacrifice carries minimum inconvenience and maximum smugness value.)

Since we're talking about the environmental impact of greenhouse gases, it makes more to measure Hummer-Years in the amount of CO2 emission.

According to the Department of Energy, a 2006 Hummer H3 emits in one year 10.6 tons of CO2. (While H3's are the most efficient, they also make up 76 percent of sales.)

By comparison, according to a 2004 Aspen report, Gulfstream G3 emits 10-tons of CO2 per 1000 miles.

There are 2462 nautical miles between LA and NYC. That means that when Laurie takes a day trip to Manhattan for a fashion show and shopping, she emits 24.62 tons of CO2. That's 2.32 Hummer-Years.

Combined with the flight back to LA after a grueling day of teas and cocktail parties, that's 4.62 Hummer-Years. At least in terms of CO2 emissions, Easterbrook is low balling by half the Hummer-Years that Laurie's lifestyle often consumes. in a single day. I wonder how many Hummer-Years in takes to air condition a celebrity mansion in LA?

I'm not defending Hummers, just criticizing hypocrisy. For what it's worth, my primary form of transportation from Spring to Fall is on the right. My secondary form is below:

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Score one for Bush

From London's Telegraph, today:
On one visit to Downing Street, Mr Blair's team complimented the President on his outfit. "The Lord made me wear it," said Mr Bush with a straight face. When they realised he was teasing them, everyone in the room cracked up.
That's what the kids call Sarc-3 (Level 3 sarcasm, where everyone thinks your serious for the prolonged moment)

Cracking heads keeps 'em straight

Even if [the dad] drops the kid and he cracks his head, at least he'll be heterosexual. A small price to pay.
-- Leading anti-gay activist Joseph Nicalosi, explaining to 100's of fathers at a Ft. Lauderdale church that they "could help their sons stay straight by bonding through rough-and-tumble games, such as tossing them in the air." (Los Angeles Times, today)

Comment from Andrew Sullivan:
Or they can be beaten into submission. Or driven to suicide. A small price to pay. And it's paid all the time in this country and around the world.

$35,000 grill

From today's NYT:
But the Queen Mary 2 of outdoor cooking is the $35,000 Talos Outdoor Cooking Suite sold by Frontgate, a luxury goods catalog retailer. The sprawling stainless steel temple features a searing station with a restaurant-style griddle, a hardwood cutting board, two side burners to heat sauces, a warming drawer, 3/8-inch-thick cooking grates, a 16,000-B.T.U. ceramic infrared rotisserie, a bartender module with a sink and a nine-volt electronic ignition system.

Stuart Taylor on Duke Lacrosse

Stuart Taylor is former Wahington Post reporter and columnist and is now a writer for National Journal, an old establishment publication. So this isn't a talk-show-host rant:

Nifong and a certain Durham police officer should themselves be under criminal investigation, in my view, for what looks like possible intimidation of a disinterested defense witness, a cabbie who had been transporting one defendant at the time of the alleged rape.

Am I prejudging the case myself? Yes, in that I have not yet seen all of the evidence. And yes, in that there could be an innocent explanation for the recent arrest of the cabbie by rape-case investigators under a two-and-half-year-old, apparently frivolous shoplifting warrant.

But when a petty-tyrant prosecutor has perverted and prolonged the legal process without disclosing his supposed evidence, and when academics and journalists have joined in smearing presumptively innocent young men as racist, sexist brutes—in the face of much contrary evidence—it's not too early to offer tentative judgments.


How likely is it that the more than 40 kids described by Kimel and the Coleman report could have maintained an airtight cover-up since March 14 of a gang rape in a small, crowded house, with not one heeding pleas by parents and lawyers to protect himself by fingering any guilty parties?

Frank Rich on Al Gore

The Cannes Landslide for Al Gore in today's NYT. Choice quotes:

Like Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" before it, Mr. Gore's new documentary about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," has wowed the liberal caucus at Cannes (who needs landlocked Iowa?) and fueled fantasies of political victory back home. "Al Gore Takes Cannes by Storm — Will the Oval Office Be Next?" Arianna Huffington asks on her blog, reporting that the former vice president was hotter on the Croisette than Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Penelope Cruz.

Mrs. Clinton does look like a weak candidate — not so much because of her marriage, her gender or her liberalism, but because of her eagerness to fudge her stands on anything and everything to appeal to any and all potential voters. Where once she inspired passions pro and con, now she often induces apathy. Her most excited constituency seems to be the right-wing pundits who still hope to make a killing with books excoriating her. At least eight fresh titles are listed at, including my own personal favorite, "Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton." (Why settle for Il Duce when you can go for Hitler?)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Are nukes centralizing power in Iran?

The NYT reports today that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is consolidating power in a nation that, since the '79 revolution, has always had a weak president. Apparently, it's always been hard to tell who is calling the shots in Iran, especially after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Now, Ahmadinejad is becoming a powerful president, apparently with the support of Iran's Supreme Religious Leader. Maybe since they expect to have their own nuclear weapons in a few years, they recognize the importance of a clear chain of command.

Oh the horror: living without the private jet

From the NY Daily News gossip page:
Laura Bush did without the comforts of Air Force One Friday afternoon. The First Lady sat with two Secret Service agents on the Delta shuttle from Washington to New York.
Note that the First Lady didn't issue a press release or otherwise grandstand about following an environmentally reponsible practice -- doing without a private jet. Et tu, Laurie David? Thersa Heinz-Kerry? Any super-rich Holloywood "environmentalist"?

Iraqi tennis players executed for wearing shorts

From the Times of London:
THE coach of the Iraqi national tennis team and two of his players were shot dead in Baghdad, apparently for wearing shorts, in a district where Islamic radicals have started to enforce brutal, Taleban-style law.

Hussein Ahmed Rashid was shot at close range with two of his players, Nasser Ali Hatem and Wissam Adel Auda, in the al-Saidiyah neighbourhood, a national Olympic Committee official said.

One of the players, wearing shorts, had left the car to drop off some items at a laundry. When he returned to the vehicle, gunmen in a grey saloon car swerved and blocked the players’ car, witnesses said.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The last refuge of scoundrels

I firmly believe I'm innocent of the charges against me. We believe that God in fact is in control and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord.
Ken Lay - facing up to 45 years in prison on the six counts of fraud and conspiracy. Bonus:
I've said before, I accept full responsibilty for everything that happened at Eron. Having said that, there's no way I could take responsibility for the criminal conduct I didn't know about.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Nazi Pope

From Times of London:
Pope Benedict XVI upset the Jewish community in Poland yesterday by not stopping to pay tribute to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis.
I felt a little guilty when I first thought of Herr Ratzinger as our Nazi Pope. Sure, he belonged to the Hitler Youth League (seriously!), but a lot of Germans at the time were forced to go along. My stepfather was drafted as a physician in the Luftwaffe during WWII.

But forgodssake IF you belonged to the Hitler Youth League (seriously!), and IF you are the head of a religious organization which, within your lifetime, ignored the slaughter of Jews within miles of the Vatican, wouldn't you order your motorcade to slow down by Jewish graves for a Photo Op?

I mean, EVEN if you really don't give care?

5/29 UPDATE from Andrew Sullivan on Auschwitz speech:
I was unimpressed by his speech. It was a function of resilient denial - denial that the German people had en masse backed Nazism long after its true nature had become known; and denial of the criminal silence and acquiescence of the Vatican hierarchy during that period of time.

Lazy, wasteful AND hypocritical

From Reuters:
Gore and his team were seen driving the 500 metres or so from a hotel to the Cannes festival headquarters in several cars. The representative said that arriving at events like photocalls and news conferences in cars was normal practice in Cannes. And Gore walked the shorter distance from another hotel to the festival for the movie's screening.
Wow, first the Speaker of the House needs a Suburban to travel 3 blocks to Capitol Hill from a news conference on alternative fuels and hybrids. Now, Al Gore needs a friggin motorcade to travel 500 meteres (0.31 miles) from his hotel to his movie on how the rest of us need to stop the "normal practice" of burning so much fuel.

If this story is true, Gore is, above all, a total fool. Anyone looking at this "An Inconvenient Truth" story could see that the knives were sharpened for any actual (or appearance of) hypocrisy.

Here's a "fair and balanced" review of the movie, including the hypocrisy of Laurie David and Hollywood's "private-jet environmentalists."

Kids: beware of Congressmen after your lunch money

From May 21 New York Times:

The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed this week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Mr. Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase.

Under the new law, teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income will now be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates. Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"They call it pollution. We call it life"

Here is a link to a great self-parody of corporate propaganda:

As the New Republic observes:
The two 60-second spots created by the oil industry-backed (CEI)--over $1.5 million in donations from ExxonMobil alone since 1998--will be remembered for breaking the barrier between advertising parodies and actual ads. In "Energy," a young girl dreamily exhales carbon dioxide while evergreen trees soak in the life-sustaining compound. Our right to freely exchange this compound, CEI suggests, is now under attack. The ad makes the War on Christmas look like a mild skirmish compared with the impending confrontation over CO2. "Carbon dioxide," an announcer intones. "They call it pollution. We call it life."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sopranos "Cold Stones" episode

Wow, what a great episode.

Given the huge coverage of homosexuals on TV over the last 5-6 years, I wasn't crazy about the story line of Vito, the gay mobster. But they really brought it together, making Vito's violent murder by the rival NY family the catalyst for the mob war to end all mob wars.

After Phil's wife says that Vito has to be made to face his problems squarely -- code to Phil that he must to kill Vito -- we see Carmela in Paris next to a statue of Christ with the sign "Ecce homo." Ecce Homo translates to "How One Becomes What one Is."

It seems as though the episode was about the reltionship of domination and sex:

-- As Vito was beaten to death -- with a pool stick shoved up his rear, we find out later -- Phil sits on the bed right in front of Vito, Phil looking down on Vito, his legs spread and his right hand on his crutch, so excited by the domination that his left hand sqeezes the matress as Vito is beaten with a bat. Previously, Vito had spent 20 years in jail, so presumably this little scene brought back violent sexual memories.

-- The scene immediately preceding the Vito-Phil snuff scene was that of Tony driving the Escalante while getting a BJ from one of the Bada Bing strippers. Same climactic expressions on both Tony and Phil, the NJ and NY bosses, respectively.

-- In the scene that sets off the mob war, Dom from the NY family is "busting balls" by bragging that Vito was raped with a pool stick. Despite several signals that he needs to back off (not push the NY domination), Dom says he heard that "Carlo's lipstick was on Vito's cock." Carlo's immediatle reaction is to stick Dom five times (fast) with a 9" knife. As Carlo stands over Dom, his 9 inches protruding from his hip, Dom's bloddy white shirt streched over his huge belly is reminiscent of the bloddy bed sheet that an Italian family would hang out the morning after a honeymoon to show that the bride was a virgin (using sheep's blood, if necessary).

-- "Cold Stones," the title of the episode, is not only a reference to the Parisian statues that inspire Carmella (and remind her of poor Adriana) but it is also a reference to Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" or "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
That force of sex and blood which, in the madness of youth, I had imagined that I had stifled forever had, more than once, convulsively raised the chain of iron vows which bind me, a miserable wretch, to the cold stones of the altar.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

What your gas money gets spent on

From the Washington Post: the school text in Saudi Arbia TODAY, 5 1/2 years after 9/11 and after the Saudis promised to stop teaching hatred in their schools. 15 of the 19 highjackers on 9/11 were Saudis. How many were Iraqis? Zero.


" Every religion other than Islam is false."

"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."


"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."


The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:

"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."


"The greeting 'Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others."

"Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Dutch hero leaves Holland

What a terrible shame about Hirsi Ali, the Dutch legislator who colaborated with Theo van Gogh on "Submission," a film about the terrible treatment of women by Islamic fundamentalists.

For this exercise in free speech, van Gogh, nephew of the famous painter, was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam by an Islamic fundamentalist. Various fatwas and death threats have been issued against Hirsi Ali.

Now Ali has been evicted from her apartment building because neighbors are upset that the terrorist target is hurting their property values!

As I've read "While Europe Slept" by Bruce Bawer, I keep comforting myself with the notion that surely this cannot continue. Surely Europeans will wake up and defend their way of life from the religious fanatics who openly vow to destroy it. Apparently, not yet.

From today's Wall Street Journal:
In April, his think tank, the Scientific Council for Government Policy, issued a report that found no fundamental clash between Islamic and Western values and condemned a "climate of confrontation and stereotypical thinking." The Council, which helps set Dutch policy, urged Holland and other European countries to reach out to Islamist groups abroad that have been involved in terrorism, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

"They're just sticking their heads in the sand," responds Ms. Hirsi Ali, who dismisses the report as a "political pamphlet to suit the dreams of people who want to believe there is not a problem."

Also in the Journal article:
"Once this lady leaves, the problem is no longer there," says Ger Verhagen, a retired executive who owns a place two floors above the hunted politician. He says he has nothing personal against Ms. Hirsi Ali. But along with other residents, he wants to banish the fears stirred by the proximity of Holland's most acid -- and most frequently threatened -- critic of Islam.
Wrongo, Ger. The problem is there, and it's just beginning.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

America's dictator wannabe

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution," - Thomas Jefferson, Oct. 1798 (thanks to

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sopranos "Moe 'n Joe" episode

We see Tony pushing away the people who crowded into his hospital room. He talks nicely to Christopher, but then, as he's arranging his wine collection, Tony seems to have nothing to say to Chris. The parallel scene was last night, as Tony played with his wine bottles and ignored Janice's genuine emotion. Likewise, Meadow required some fatherly solace, but all she got was a shot about "living in sin". Carm gets lied to about the measures taken to rescue her spec house. The crew seemed less than enthusiastic about Tony's cold comments on Bobby's injury.

The interesting thing is that Vito's journey -- where self-discovery led only to isolation -- has led him right back to the life he fled. It'll be interesting to see where Tony's journey leads him, as he pushes those closest to him away.

In its primary meaning “Moe n’ Joe” is a term used to refer to people only capable (either by talent or circumstance) of unskilled or semi-skilled manual labor, like the two figures on the Lionel train car who are unloading logs. Simple, repetitious dull labor. “Hey, tell Moe n’ Joe over there to sweep the floor.” Moe n’ Joe are fungible types. One Moe or Joe is as good as any Moe or Joe. It’s a derogatory term. In the show, one (and probably the major) application is Vito realizing his handyman job makes him a Moe (and he’s already a ‘Mo) and he can’t take that. He’s a captain, a made man, not a worker ant. And that's why he leaves as fast as he does.
Carmela was particularly annoying in this episode, humilating poor Ginny Sacrimoni with yet another obstentious display of wealth, and, even worse, presurring Tony to threaten the building inspector with physical violence. At least the mob guys are not self-righteous and hypocritical in their evil.

When [Carmella] and Tone were Splitsville, she sees Angie living the hard life and RUNS, not walks back to Tony. She wanted no part of starting at the bottom. (much like Vito) (and much like Chris seeing the minivan guy and ratting out Ade).

Now, a short time later (1yr maybe?) she tries to pull the same stunt on Angie that she pulled on Ginny, and Angie 'chirps' a slamming sports car. Which she bought herself. Notice how Angie's car is colorful and bold, while Carm's car was picked out by Tony and kinda sedated.

Carmella, Tony will never give you what you want. Would you learn that lesson and then teach it to Meadow. Because she and Finn....for the love of Heaven! Why can't she leave Finn and start over? Because you can't leave Tony and start over. And Vito has neatly demonstrated for us this episode that the root of the inability to do what needs to be done, is laziness. A sense of entitlement to the easy way that stops you from being Angie LaBombDiggady.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Take a bow for being straight

Interesting example of manipulating males by using the fear of being perceived as gay:
"It takes a real man to confess Jesus as lord and savior. I'm not talking about no faggot or no sissy. Wait a minute! Let all the real men come on down here and take a bow. All the real men -- I'm talking about the straight men. You ain't funny, and you ain't cranky, but you're straight. Come on down here and walk around and praise God that you are straight. Thank him that you're straight. All the straight men that's proud to be a Christian, that's proud to be a man of God," - Bishop Alfred A. Owens Jr., pastor of the 7,000-strong Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

2 questions Bush won't answer

Do you believe in an ordained, immanent Apocalypse?

Do you believe the government should be able to outlaw contraception?

If it's easy for you to answer these questions, you are not President Bush. Here's a passage from a NYT Magazine article on the Christianist war on contraception:

In July, a group of Democrats in Congress, led by Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, sent the first of four letters to the president asking outright: "Mr. President, do you support the right to use contraception?" According to Representative Maloney's office, the White House has still not responded.


At a White House press briefing in May of last year, three months before the F.D.A.'s nonruling on Plan B, Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked four times by a WorldNetDaily correspondent, Les Kinsolving, if the president supported contraception. "I think the president's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life," McClellan replied. Kinsolving said, "If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked." McClellan replied: "And if you want to ask those questions, that's fine. I'm just not going to dignify them with a response."
Meanwhile, at one of his "town meetings," Bush personally declined to say whether he believed that the Iraq war is a sign of the Apocalypse.

As Andrew Sullivan points out, even the nuke-happy President of Iran, in his recent letter to Bush, assumes that Bush shares his belief that the end is near. (In the Muslim version of the Apocalypse, of which Iran's President is a fervent believer, the 12 Imam takes the place of the Second Coming in heralding the end of time. )

Iran's President writes to Bush:
"I have been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him), and believes in the divine promises of the rule of the righteous on earth. . .Can one deny the signs of change in the world today? Is this situation of the world today comparable to that of ten years ago? Changes happen fast and come at a furious pace."
So a soon-to-be nuclear religious fantatic believes that an all-consuming hell fire will bring the Kingdom of God to Earth. And he sincerely believes that our nuked-up President shares his vision. Meanwhile, George "no mixed messages" Bush yet to say where he stands, presumabley because he does not want to offend his own fundamentalist voters.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

4 days of schadenfreude

Schadenfreude -- taking pleasure in the misfortune of others -- is a seduction I try to resist. But the last few days have just been overwhelming:
  • George Bush's approval rating reached a new all-time low.
  • Tom Cruise's new idiot action film got poor box office its opening weekend, apparently because much of his audience has finally figured out that he's total jerk.
  • Yet another Kennedy brat was caught believing the rules don't apply to him.
Tomorrow, if Jane Fonda or James Dobson gets hit by a bus, I will be in a complete meltdown of guilty extasy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Minorities are more equal than non-minorities

Here's a great example from the Duke Lacrosse scandal of how identity politics and political correctness have made universities hot houses of illogic:

"Dr. Chambers, who was chancellor of North Carolina Central University from 1993 to 2001, said in the news conference that one aspect that most disturbed him was that Duke officials had not looked deeper into the accusations.

"It pointed out the need for being more careful about reviewing complaints when they come from minorities and others," he said. 'You don't just discount a complaint because of who made it.'"

From minorities and others? Relative to minorities, isn't the only "other" the majority? And if you're supposed to be more careful about complaints when they come from minorities and the majority, when are you supposed to be less careful?

On the other hand, here's someone sensible from the Law School:
Paul H. Haagen, a Duke law professor and the chairman of the Duke academic council, said he was puzzled by the suggestion that Duke might have responded differently if people had realized that the woman was black.

"I'm not sure that somehow or other we should have responded differently if it had been a white woman," Professor Haagen said.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sopranos "The Ride" episode

I think Chase is treading an extremely difficult path with the denouement of this series, because it seems that he's saying that the colorful drama of these guys' lives is basically bs. It was their fantasy of the life and our fantasy of that life. It's unsustainable. These dudes are going to go out by have an addled old family member shoot them in a demented fog, or via prostate cancer, or via some method far less glamorous than any they've imagined for themselves.

The buzz of the quick heist, the heightened taste of the wine, the high a marriage and impending birth ... boy, they all lose their fizz pretty quickly when there's no real investment of the soul. And then you're left like poor Tony and Chris in the second basement scene. The only things to be said can't be said; the feelings are simply corroding their insides.
I loved the way Tony amended his "Every day is a gift" line by saying he just wished the gift was not always socks! Every day is a gift. . .of socks :-(

Another good post:

Tony and Christopher do have a bond but it's not one either one could every be expected to be able to articulate.The two of them are very much alike: they're both just smart enough to be dissatisfied with their lives -- and this alone makes them very different from everyone around them. But at the same time, neither one is smart enough -- or emotionally equipped -- to do anything about it.

Because they are also both terribly alike in their desperate need for love. Both have idealized 1950s visions of home and family in their heads that they try to build in real life. But, besides the fact that the idealized 1950s family never really existed except on TV, there's also the fact that they're trying to build their dreams on a rotten foundation -- you can't build healthy families on lies, murder, theft, bullying and deceipt.

On some dim level, they both know this. So no matter what they do, they're unhappy. Tony is the boss of North Jersey, he's got the big house, the wife & kids, the captains bowing & scraping to him. But no matter what he gets or how much, it doesn't satisfy -- it's a gift of socks. He sleeps with other women -- dissatisfying. He tries to stay faithful to Carm -- dissatisfying. He tries to recapture the 'fun' of his youth with a quick heist, but the flavor soon turns sour."
Paulie is used as a subtle swipe against the Bush Administration.

Obviously, there's Tony's reference to Hurricane Katrina in the bathroom confrontation with Paulie -- You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie.

There's also the fact that Paulie tried to save money by not providing adequate safety for the children at the carnival. More symbolically, he refused to make the $50,000 donation to the Church in order for the Saint to wear its hat during the procession. A hat, the priest pointed out, that Italian parents/immigrants had donated their wedding bands to make. The extra money, the priest also pointed out, was needed for after-school programs.

During the procession, just as someone in the crowd asked, "where's the hat," a father introduced Paulie to his son, whom the father said had made two tours in Iraq. In the missing hat, the unsafe ride, Katrina, and Iraq, the greed of old men takes precedence over the safety of children.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Lying about lying

This week:

RUMSFELD: [I]t appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.
McGovern: You said you knew where they were.
RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and we were ... just ... (crosstalk)
McGovern: You said you knew where they were Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those are your words.
RUMSFELD: My words ... my words were that ... no, no, no wait a minute, wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second.

March 30, 2003 on ABC interview:

RUMSFELD: It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.


Now, it's nothing new that the Bushies just flat out deny saying things that they, in fact, said. But in this particular incident this week at an Atlanta conference, NBC News, for one, played lots of video of people being dragged out for calling Rumsfeld a liar. But NBC did not find it noteworthy to report that Rumsfeld is not only a liar but was actually lying right then and there.

I wonder if this a matter of culture not having caught up to technology. In pre-Internet days, Nixon-style officials could contradict themselves and bully the mainstream media to keep quiet. Now everybody has access to the transcripts and even the video.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

US health: spend more for less

The British Are Much Healthier Than The Americans

May 2006 - 8:00am -- A large study, which looked at the health of middle class, middle-aged, white residents in both the USA and Britain found that the British enjoy much better health than their American counterparts. Even though the USA has a much higher income per capita than the UK, about 25% higher, the British are far ahead when it comes to the health of its residents. Americans also spend a great deal more on health care than the British do. The average expenditure per head per year on health in the UK is $2,164, while in the USA it stands at $5,274. You can read about this study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), May 3 Issue.

Even when obesity, drinking, smoking and social levels are taken into account, the difference between the two nations is significant. Here are some figures showing the incidence of some diseases:

DiabetesUSA - 12.5% UK - 6.1%
High Blood PressureUSA - 42.4% UK - 33.8%
Heart DiseaseUSA - 15.1% UK - 9.6%
CancerUSA - 9.5% UK - 5.5%
Lung DiseaseUSA - 8.1% UK - 6.3%
StrokeUSA - 3.8% UK - 2.3%
Heart AttackUSA - 5.5% UK - 4%


On the bright side, according to the CIA World Fact Book, the U.S. still appears to be holding on to its ranking of #48 in average life expectancy for 2006, edging out Cyprus (#49) and Albania (#53).

I presume that the diabetes incidence in the US will continue to expand briskly, since all those fat kids out there are future diabetics. One the other hand, Pfizer is said to have a great drug for diabetes in its development pipeline. . .

I wonder if anyone is ever going to address role high-fructose corn syrup plays in the U.S.'s freakishly high obesity and diabetes. The US is unique among nations in using high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar. That's because our government policies make the price of sugar artificially high (highest in the world) and the price of corn artificially low.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sopranos "Jonny Cakes" episode

I really liked the way corporations were depicted as muscling out the mob -- first, the inability of the wise guys to shake down a corporate coffee shop and then Jamba Juice buying out Tony's real estate. Corporations certainly muscled the mob out of the Las Vegas action, so why not northern Jersey's food and beverage bidness?

Chase likes to portray the mob as an amoral organization that is simply losing out to bigger, more powerful amoral organizations, such as the FBI and Starbucks. This has always struck me as a bit childish, because distinctions are important and adults recognize and appreciate them. But it's an interesting exercise nevertheless.

Like Gary, I was happy to see Dr. Melfi back. She gives great advice, which Tony is sometimes smart and strong enough to follow. Unfortanely for AJ, neither Tony and Carmella is following Melfi's advice to present a united front in parenting AJ.

Finally, Vito and AJ present a great contrast -- Vito is glimsing outside the NJ/NY mob culture for the fist time and is shocked to find altruistic, hard working, happy people, including assimilated gays no less. AJ is being sucked into the NJ/NY mob culture by the lure of easy money and status. And, now, his first panic attack!