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Wednesday, February 22, 2006


UAE Ports: I finally get an email copied onto NR's "The Corner"

I thought I was going out on a limb when I sent this email into Kathryn Jean Lopez, who posted it, typos and all, onto the National Review blog, "The Corner".

But now it seems that "the corner" has been turned in public opinion, and the hysteria over the UAE port deal is being seen as just that - hysteria.

That's all - I just wanted to gloat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Where Are The Defenders Of Dick Cheney's Privacy?

In August of 2005, Democratic Senator Harry Reid suffered a stroke. But despite his position as the minority leader in the Senate, he didn't report the event for three days.
"Asked why an announcement of the event was delayed for three days, Hafen said, 'The reason was the tests and the evaluations that they were doing. We wanted to make sure we knew what we were announcing. You need conclusive information.'"

In January of 1996, then First Lady Hillary R. Clinton turned over the billing records of the Rose law firm - records "which had been the specific subject of various investigative subpoenas for two years".
The Senate Whitewater Committee concluded that Hillary Clinton was the person most likely to have put the billing records in her book room, or know how they got there.

Today, the 15th of February, 2005, both Clinton and Reid have the gall to make statements criticizing Vice-President Dick Cheney, and through him the entire administration, for not reporting a hunting accident for 24 hours.

Unlike Reid's stroke, Cheney's accident did not endanger his ability to fill the post to which he was elected. Unlike Clinton's records, information about Cheney's accident was not sought by any prosecutor; delaying or even withholding that information from the press was not a crime.

One can only marvel at the madness that infects some people at the mere mention of Dick Cheney's name.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


"How did it get this bad?"

Over on The Corner on National Review Online, Ian Murray felt moved to ask "How Did It Get This Bad?", "it" being the explosive situation in Europe.

He links to an article full of detail, but it, he, and everyone else seems to be missing the big picture. I can say this with certainty, because we are on the same path. A few people oppose that path, but all that I have heard do so for relatively petty reasons.

That path, of course, is unassimilated immigration. Both the US and Europe have them, of course - lots of them. The only difference between us - a slim one - is that, here, the unassimilated are largely illegal. This reduces (but, sadly, does not elimate) their access to entitlements, and dampens their willingness to protest. But even with that difference, even if we maintain that difference - an unlikely provision, by the way - we are still sitting on a time bomb.

Some have (of course!) talked about the unassimilated immigrants in this country... but completely misunderstand the problem. People assimilate because 1) they want to, and 2) they succeed within the dominant culture. These essential conditions are under constant attack in this country.

Even President Bush talks about letting people into this country because they want to feed their families. I'm all for people feeding their families, but those we allow in cannot simply want to be in America; they must want to become American.

Similarly, it is not enough to allow people in to work margin jobs and live marginal lives. Even though a few might be content with that, others will not; still others will fail even at that. Discontent and failure are not conducive to assimilation, even among those who most want to assimilate.

Despite that, there is constant talk about establishing a "guest worker" program for those willing to do the jobs "Americans are unwilling to do." In other words, establish another permanent underclass, unassimilated and inevitably discontent. What happens when something trips their trigger? How do you rein in those who are not invested in the system they're fighting, and so feel they have nothing to lose?

The solution is obvious, though no one in power seems willing to say it: end illegal immigration, and limit legal immigration to those with both the desire and ability to become successful Americans.

If that sounds cold to you, express your finer feelings by helping other countries become worthwhile places to live. The alternative (or rather, the mainstream approach) addresses only the shortest of the short term problems (higher wages for poor foreigners) will creating unsolvable long-term problems (large groups of disaffected residents).

End the madness!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Reply to John Tamny re "George W. Bush, Oil Addiction, and Energy Sufficiency on NRO Financial"


I read with interest your essay on National Review's web site. What you wrote seems to be to be correct. However, I believe that you miss the point.

The problem with oil isn't oil; the problem is with the oil's suppliers. It is unacceptable to be dependent on suppliers who are politically, culturally, or otherwise incompatible with our Constitution and way of life.

Your point that oil is fungible is true... but it need not be so. Raising tariffs on imported oil and refined products would make domestic oil production more profitable within this country. Establishing tariffs for exported oil and refined products would keep domestic oil within the country.

It is true that this would impact our economy - an outcome that, in your essay, you seem to find wholly unacceptable. For me, however, greater national security is one of the few benefits which would justify such an impact. Nor should the current and foreseeable costs of our entanglement with the Middle East be ignored in this equation.

You may argue that, regardless of tariffs, regardless of greater domestic oil production, we would still be dependent on imported oil. That is true in the short term, but need not be for long. If I were creating policy, I would do the following as quickly as possible:

1) open ANWR and all other worthwhile areas of maximal oil production. Regulate the installations there for the greatest possible environmental safety, by all means. But produce all the oil possible as quicky as possible.

2) Develop a breeder-reactor program to vastly increase the available supply of electricity. The choice between oil and electric consumption is, for many purposes, simply economic, not technical. A rapid increase in electricity supply would reduce its cost, enabling an equally rapid transition in consumption. Further, promising developments in battery technology, including fuel cells, suggests that many more purposes will be able to transition away from oil in the near future.

The breeder-reactor program that I suggest would model itself on the recent proposal by Russia to Iran. The Federal Government would offer to supply fuel and reprocess waste for states and power companies who build and operate compliant nuclear power plants. To jump-start the project, perhaps the first twenty plants built would be provided these services for free for, say, 10 years. Thereafter, all clients would merely pay an appropriate fraction of the total cost of the program.

Some would argue against such a program based on safety concerns. However, such arguments are easily refuted. Nuclear plants operate, and nuclear fuel and waste are transported all around the world. What others can do, America can do. And, again, there are safety risks associated with our dependency on oil. These risks must also help to balance the equation.

As for other potential sources of energy: if they become viable, fine. But a plan of action must have as few unknowns as possible. If nuclear power can meet the need, it must be the starting point. This strategy can be expanded when and if alternatives prove themselves capable of large scale deployment.

I hope you found these comments worthwhile. Thank you for your time.

Solar Rhino

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Shameless Plug: pbwiki

As you may or may not know, I am struggling to write a novel. Naturally (for me, at least), I bit off rather more than I can chew. This is not only my first attempt at a novel; it is also a sci-fi, detective, coming-of-age, social-commentary-ala-Brave-New-World kind of novel. Keeping track of characters, motives, plot points, and dramatic moments was a real challenge for me, because each part came to me at different times and in different forms. I wrote all kinds of notes to myself, but all succeeded in doing was making myself terribly confused.

That's when it occurred to me: what I really needed was a wiki.

Most people are familiar with the wiki from Wikipedia. But in a way, that's too bad. That's because most Wikipedia users only use it to look things up. That's only using half (or less) of a wiki's power.

To the reader, a wiki looks like a common, everyday website - a bunch of pages all linked together. But a wiki is more than that. A wiki is a way to create that website, and to keep on growing and changing that website as new ideas and information become available.

Let me explain. To create your typical website, you generate a bunch of individual web pages. Then, one you know the names of the pages, you go back and add links to each page into the rest of the pages. If a new idea occurs to you, you make a new page, post it, and go back and edit the old pages again. It may not sound too bad, but it's an awkward, unnatural process.

In contrast, creating a wiki is easy. Start with your main page. As you create it, simply format key words and phrases using a special, but simple format. Then, when you post that page, those words and phrases automatically become links. Better yet, pages for those links are also automatically created. To 'drill down' and add information, simply click the created link, and there you are, on the empty new page.

This is a much easier and more natural way to generate a site. You don't have to sit down first and plan every step, and you don't have to go back and re-edit every page to add links later.

For example, in the case of my novel: I had scenes, notes, suggestions, character descriptions, commentary, outlines, and even isolated fragments of dialog. To turn those into a website, I'd have had to separate and organize them all, then plan how they'd fit together; then write the pages; then load all my fragments into place.

In contrast, when making my wiki, I simply went through them one at a time and decided what that fragment meant to me. If it was a dialog fragment, I put the word "Dialog" on my main page and submitted it. Then I clicked the dialog link and opened up the new page of dialog fragments. I could just paste that fragment onto the page; or, if I wanted to keep them all separate, think of a descriptive name for the fragment (like: "boy to boss about workload"), type that into the page using the "special format", and submit the result to create a linked new page to store the fragment.

Really, it was amazing. For each scrap I had, all I need to do was type a couple of words and click the mouse two or three times. The result was a hierarchical document that captured all my pieces in such a way that I could find and retrieve the information with ease.

When I set out to select a "wiki farm", I was lucky enough to come across pbwiwi. They let you create a wiki (or two, or ten, or...) for FREE. You can pay them some money and get some additional features... but I choose to pay them even though I didn't need those features - I just wanted to thank them and support their efforts. They're just that good.

The "pb" in pbwiwi stands for "peanut butter", because they aim to make creating a wiki as easy as creating a peanut butter sandwich. I think they've come pretty close. If you have any data that needs to be organized, any project that would benefit from a collaborative workspace, or any other idea that would benefit from a wiki, take a look at pbwiwi. Not only do they provide a great service at an excellent price (FREE!), but they're even going to double the already excessive amount of space they provide my wiki just because I wrote this entry. Pretty sweet, eh?

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