Wednesday, January 31, 2007

4 nations now taller than Americans

The Dutch get ahead for heights - World - Times Online: "From colonial times until after the Second World War, Americans were the tallest people on Earth, as befitted the richest nation.

But European nations have overtaken them, according to a study. The Dutch are now the tallest and the Norwegians, Danish and Germans have also overtaken the Americans."

Hillary Clinton’s Phoniness

FRANK RICH: Hillary Clinton’s Mission Unaccomplished: "This is how she explains her vote to authorize the war: “I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come to ask for a vote. There would not have been a vote, and I certainly would not have voted for it.” John Kerry could not have said it worse himself. No wonder last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” gave us a “Hillary” who said, “Knowing what we know now, that you could vote against the war and still be elected president, I would never have pretended to support it.”"

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: The Libertarian Swing Vote

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: The Libertarian Swing Vote: "The libertarian move away from Christianist big government Republicanism has been intense these past six years of Bush. In 2000, Bush won 72 percent of the libetarian vote; in 2004, he won 59 percent. In 2002, the Republican advantage over Democrats among libertarians in the Congressional elections was 47 percent. By 2006, the gap had narrowed to 23 percent."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Unhappy Meals - Michael Pollan - New York Times

Unhappy Meals - Michael Pollan - New York Times: "if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Book Notes

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral -- that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings.

American teenagers engage in about as much sex as teenagers in the rest of the developed world, but Americans girls are about four to five times more likely to become pregnant, to have a baby, or to have an abortion.

It is time we acknowledged how disgraceful it is for the survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God, while the same God drowned infants in their cribs.

{The Bible] does not contain a single sentence that could not have bee written by a man or woman living in the first century.

Photo analysis suggests that the biggest killer of Americans, Muqtada al-Sadr, one one of Saddam's masked executioners

IraqSlogger: Sunnis Allege Sadr A Saddam Executioner: "Sunni Web sites remain abuzz with speculation that Muqtada al-Sadr was one of Saddam Hussein's executioners, and the speculators offer these photos as evidence. The Iraqi government denies Sadr participated in Saddam's hanging."

Also, during the execution, the other masked goons chanted "Muqtada" when the fat, masked goon who appears to have been Muqtada was putting the rope on Saddam.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gem War -

Gem War - "The $143 billion jewelry business -- and the would-be fiancés, Valentines and lovers of bling that it caters to -- are facing a shakeup. Lab-produced diamonds, once suitable only for industrial use, are being produced with color and clarity that match -- or exceed -- the quality of diamonds dug out of the earth. These lab-made diamonds have begun trickling into retailers at prices below those for natural diamonds of similar size and sparkle.

The diamond establishment is gearing up to persuade consumers that natural stones are worth paying more for. It's an arguably vulnerable time for traditional producers; mined diamonds have suffered a wave of negative publicity (including the recent movie 'Blood Diamond') for financing conflict in Africa. De Beers, which has long controlled the world's diamond supply, has stepped up its marketing of natural stones."

Fight Cholesterol - 10 Top Foods To Help You Fight High Cholesterol

Fight Cholesterol - 10 Top Foods To Help You Fight High Cholesterol:
1. Shitake Mushrooms
2. Walnuts
3. Uncooked Soy
4. Blueberries
5. Salmon
6. Garlic
7. Avocado
8. Black Beans
9. Apples
10. Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables

Friday, January 12, 2007

Web sites go after rude behavior rudely

The Snoop Next Door - "One day last November, at about 11:30 a.m., a blog focused on making New York streets more bike-friendly posted the license plate number of an SUV driver who allegedly accelerated from a dead stop to hit a bicycle blocking his way.

At 1:16 p.m., someone posted the registration information for the license plate, including the SUV owner's name and address. (The editor of the blog thinks the poster got the information from someone who had access to a license-plate look-up service, available to lawyers, private investigators and police.) At 1:31 p.m., another person added the owner's occupation, his business's name and his title. Ten minutes later, a user posted a link to an aerial photo of the owner's house. Within another hour, the posting also included the accused's picture and email address."

A War to Start All Wars

A War to Start All Wars

The Middle East looks like Europe circa World War I.

2 years 2 late

When Bad Missions Happen to Good Generals -- Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 -- Page 2 -- TIME

This is no longer an insurgency; it's a civil war. Counterinsurgency tactics are designed to help a credible indigenous government fight a guerrilla opponent. The idea that Nouri al-Maliki's government is responsible is laughable: it's little more than a fig leaf for Shi'ite militias.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

War with Iran?

Andrew Sullivan

My gut tells me that this speech was, in fact, a serious military warning to Syria and Iran. This president may have in mind a future escalation far greater and more explosive than anything we're doing in Baghdad. The real reason we're not withdrawing is that we are keeping our options open for a wider war. And the president, as always, is not being honest about his real intentions.

NYT: American forces backed by helicopters raided the Iranian consulate in the mainly Kurdish city of Erbil in northern Iraq before dawn today, detaining at least five Iranian employees in the building and seizing some property, according to Iraqi and Iranian officials and witnesses.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Divide and conquer?


The Iraq war has indeed brought into existence a New Middle East, in which Arab Sunnis can no longer gleefully disregard American interests because they need help against the looming threat of Shiite supremacy, while in Iraq at the core of the Arab world, the Shia are allied with the U.S. What past imperial statesmen strove to achieve with much cunning and cynicism, the Bush administration has brought about accidentally. But the result is exactly the same.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sullivan on The History Boys

The great achievement of the great homosexual creators of the past was their sublimation of excruciating emotional pain into erudition and pedagogy and integrity in the abstract world of vicarious living. You see the emotional wreckage of such a path in Hector's own bloated carcass of a body. The dehumanizing obesity of the character is the outward scar-tissue of inward emotional death. This, I recall, is what society demands I become. This, I recall insisting, I will not become. And I haven't. Neither has a generation. That is our tentative achievement so despised by so many. It is still fragile. It had to survive a plague and may be eclipsed by a looming spasm of religious hatred. But we have proved one thing that is worth proving: Happiness is an option.

Studio upheaval

From The New Yorker

The steady rain of contempt that I heard Hollywood executives direct at the theatres has been amplified, a dozen times over, by friends and strangers alike. The concession stands were wrathfully noted, with their “small” Cokes in which you could drown a rabbit, their candy bars the size of cow patties; add to that the pre-movie purgatory padded out to thirty minutes with ads, coming attractions, public-service announcements, theatre-chain logos, enticements for kitty-kat clubs and Ukrainian bakeries—anything to delay the movie and send you back to the concession stand, where the theatres make forty per cent of their profits. If you go to a thriller, you may sit through coming attractions for five or six action movies, with bodies bursting out of windows and flaming cars flipping through the air—a long stretch of convulsive imagery from what seems like a single terrible movie that you’ve seen before. At poorly run multiplexes, projector bulbs go dim, the prints develop scratches or turn yellow, the soles of your shoes stick to the floor, people jabber on cell phones, and rumbles and blasts bleed through the walls. . .As these theatres age, the gold leaf doesn’t slowly peel off fluted columns. They rot, like disused industrial spaces.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thomas Jefferson's Koran

From WP

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Former JCS chairman Gen. John M. Shalikashvili

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.
"A lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it." George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2006