Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Due Diligence: Kahwajy v. Catholic Diocese of Richmond

Court documents of the case can be downloaded, in .pdf form, here. Yesterday public schools, today parochial schools . . . .

To sum up, Carol Kahwajy was hired, and subsequently fired six months later, as principal of the St. Benedict School in the Richmond area. She alleged that (1) the superintendent and clergy in charge of the school said some pretty bad things about her while there, and (2) those things are all completely and utterly untrue. She sued for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy to ruin her employment and career. Kahwajy valued the damage to her career, reputation and peace of mind to be at $14,150,000.00 plus $350,000.00 in punitive damages.

Among the completely and utterly untrue statements that she alleged have absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever are (a) that Kawajy had been engaged in a "morally inappropriate" relationship with a priest, whom she says they say is on medication for "emotional impairment" and suicidal, (b) that she had covered for a priest's sexual abuse of elementary school students (c) that she "was using the children at St. Benedict School as pawns to get money from old people", and had been generally misappropriating and overspending money, (d) that she herself was abusive to children, and (e) that she was generally dishonest, the "queen of schmooze", and lacked integrity in the discharge of her duties. Thrown in this list of atrocities--with no clear connection to any of her legal complaints--is the story of how Kawajy reported abuse by a Father Hersh in the mid 80s, whom she claims abused 7th and 8th grade children, allowed 4th grade children to touch his private parts, was quietly reassigned to a parish in Virginia Beach, and subsequently committed suicide in 1994.

Defamation suits are problematic for a number of reasons. The essence of the legal claim is that someone said something bad and untrue about the plaintiff, and that these statements caused her economic harm. Unless the plaintiff works somewhere akin to the Nixon-era White House, proving that anyone said any specific phrase can be as hard as nailing a jellyfish to a wall. Nor are the stated opinions of others actionable, but only alleged fact. You can't sue someone for calling you an "an ass", but for calling you "an ass who steals money and abuses children." On top of that problem, the plaintiff has to state in public record all the "untrue" things said about her, and she invites a challenge in court over the truth of these very embarrassing statements (since truth is a defense to the charge of defamation). And to make things even harder for Kawajy, she encountered the inevitable First Amendment/Freedom of Speech & Religion problems of suing a church for saying that she was immoral.

Also, in my (non-defamatory!) opinion, her lawyers didn't put together her Motion for Judgment too well. First, she sues for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, which I learned as a first-year law student was not a tort in Virginia. Second is the factual unclearness; e.g. regarding the story about Father Hersh mentioned above, she mentions it occurred in 1984-85, yet "Paragraph 37c" which she cites discusses a 1983 incident. The reader could easily confuse alleged statements made about her relationship with Father Hersh (the priest who committed suicide in '94), or her relationship with Father Kauffmann, the current parish priest. Finally, the plaintiff may have had better luck pursuing a employment discrimination claim under Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Virginia Human Rights Act. There is a world of difference between calling an employee an "idiot" or a "bitch". The latter insults a woman for being a woman, which is arguably hostile workplace discrimination against a women, protected under the law. Claiming statutory discrimination, instead of these squishy defamation and conspiracy claims, may have kept her case alive. However, I'm not certain whether this was feasible against a church either. I'm not a litigating PI or Employment Law lawyer. Then again, court records show the author of this Motion for Judgment to be a part of an Estate Planning firm.

Another problem with defamation suits is that no one comes out looking good. Here we have a seedy look at the workings of the Catholic Parochial school system which many of us wish wasn't there: abusive teachers, molesting priests, financial malfeasance, neurotic school administration, etc. This is the case regardless of who was telling the truth about what. And regardless of what we believe to be the True Church, all of us should pray that God watches over this school system, if for no other reasons, than for the young souls who live and learn therein.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE: Any legal discussion or information above should be considered to be exclusively for purposes of entertainment. No communication herein should be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Nor is any communication herein intended to form an attorney/client relationship between its author(s), its readers, and/or any third party to whom it is transmitted. Please consult an attorney practicing in your jurisdiction if you have questions about the law or your legal rights and duties in a specific situation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Virginiana - 4/27/2006: Local Heros

From the April 26-May 9, 2006 Issue of New Kent - Charles City Chronicle:



Here's some background on the rather oddly-named Charles City County. Bascially, it's the location of some of the first Anglo-American settlements in our country's history. Not much has happened there since. With a population of about 7,000 people, I couldn't imagine spending $5.7 million on anything down there. The high school has a student body of 250. And 30 teachers.

Note that the state contribution to the county school budget will be another $6 Million.

For most local governments in Virginia and the U.S., public schooling makes up most of the budget. Thus, if a local government wants to trim its budget, the natural response is to trim the school budget. And rightly so. Aside from the moral problems of kidnapping children for 35-40 hours a week to learn what the government wants them to learn, to the exclusion of what individual parents think is best for their individual children, paid for by money involuntarily confiscated through taxes, the system is also woefully inefficient. For example, my county--Henrico County, Virginia--at last count spends a base amount of $7,768 per student. Yet most private schools in the area spend less. And other counties nationwide can easily double or triple the per student amount of Henrico's schools. The "spread" between these two amounts represents the "administrative overhead" discussed above spent by government bureaucracy perpetuating itself. And even this conventional debate of private vs. public schooling doesn't account for (1) the virtually free amount of unlimited learning now available in every household through the internet, and (2) the dubious proposition of spending money to make children smarter, as if we can buy a 12 oz can of smartness for our kids from Walmart each week. (Though I would like to see what would happen if you promised a kid $7,768 in toys and videogames if he'd hit the books and passed his tests.)

But mention all of this to the general public, and the reaction is hysterics on the line of "We can't cut education spending! Our children are our future! We can't shortchange our children!" Spend a penny less on education than 10% more than last year, and you're accused of being a mean-spirited rabid conservative who wants to see children working in sweatshops. Customarily in the education spending debate, emotion trumps logic, "civic duty" trumps individual rights, and good intentions trump bad results.

The Board of Supervisors' spending cuts are extremely rare for just this reason, but nonetheless admirable. In this small county where America began, we see the spirit of prudence and restraint which may help it begin anew.

I so confused

A gay-themed television network? I thought that was Bravo.

No defense for the indefensible

Mike Straka has an online screed at foxnews.com that is typically too personal in its peeves for me to find it anything but a rant (this is the pot calling his kettle black). Today, however, he's posted some excellent social commentary. The salient passages:
But this is just another example of how people these days are only concerned about looking good, instead of being good.

It looked good for Ashlee Simpson to be a pop singer on MTV, but when it came to a live performance on "Saturday Night Live," she had to fake it by using a backup voice track. After the track was played in a snafu, first she blamed the band and then she blamed acid reflux.

Author James Frey of "A Million Little Pieces" infamy didn't plagiarize, he just made stuff up.

Frey must have taken a page out of the Jayson Blair Style Guide. He of New York Times infamy made up descriptions of places he'd never seen in order to file some of the paper's front page domestic news stories -- from his apartment.

What is really sad about this situation is that Viswanathan will get to keep the money she's made from her book. She'll get to keep the money from Dreamworks whether they make the movie or not, and most likely they will, since the project has a built-in publicity machine now.

And why not?

After all, Ashlee Simpson keeps "singing," "A Million Little Pieces" keeps selling, Barry Bonds keeps hitting home runs despite being clouded in a steroids controversy, Paris Hilton became a household name after a sex tape was plastered all over the Internet, Pete Rose never admitted he gambled on baseball until he had a book to sell, President Clinton "did not have sexual relations with that woman," "Lost" star Michelle Rodriguez chooses five days in jail over 200 hours of community service for her DUI conviction, Jayson Blair got a book deal after he was fired, and, and, and.

Viswanathan will learn a lesson from this, but the lesson she'll learn is any publicity is good publicity, and the more controversy surrounding her, the more money she'll make.
Straka fails to mention the word that first comes to my mind when considering these public challenges to character: shame. There appears to be no enforcing of a sense of shame any longer. Shame, taken to extremes, is a terribly stultifying psychological crippler. But in small and normal doses, shame is a corrective - and can lead to such great character traits as humility and generosity.

The Bible speaks of the chastening that comes to believers as being in our best interests - in the vein of Romans 8:28 - things working for the greater good of the believer called according to God's purposes. I believe in this for I've seen it work in my own life. Chastening and shame can go a long way toward converting unrepentant pride into something fruitful - humility, for instance.

Who do you like being around - the humble or the proud? My best friends are humble people generally. They have their pride-filled moments, as do we all, but they are in the minority of their moments.

Said another way, the man who defends himself stridently needs no defense from me.

Consequently, he gets none.

Getting TB a good thing

Not long until you can get TB - and this TB is not a bad thing.

James Lileks: Satire King

James Lileks has got to be the funniest web-based satirist alive today. Consider this gem from this page:
Let this be a warning: when the culture represses sexuality, it comes flooding out the seams in the most unnatural manifestations.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Makes me wonder what his driver's license photo looks like

No offense intended, Mr. Johnson, but this is the best photo you could take? Well, it's not like you have some important high-profile job like Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Oh, I'm sorry - you do.

I exercise my rights under the 10th amendment...

Doubleplusgood news on the Malabar front!
Crippled by years of poor leadership and inadequate funding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot be fixed, a bipartisan investigation says in recommendations to be released Thursday.
For those of you keeping count, that's 1 federal governmental agency down, 2650 to go!

I often am asked by the man on the street (or is it the voice in my head?) what agencies of the federal government I believe necessary in effecting a constitutionally sanctioned authority. For the life of me (pun intended), I cannot surmise but three: 1, a Department of War - to protect and defend citizens of the U.S. and its territories, 2, a smallish Department of Interstate Affairs - to remediate issues between the states, and 3, a small Department of Excise - to raise the funds for the prior 2.

Possibly the most important amendment to the Constitution is the tenth:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Proof that liberalism leads to criminal acts?

The state Republican Party had rented more than 100 vehicles to give rides to voters and poll monitors on Nov. 2, 2004. The cars were parked outside a GOP campaign office when the tires were punctured. The vandalism left the drivers scrambling for new vehicles.

Among those sentenced Wednesday were Sowande A. Omokunde, the son of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, and Michael Pratt, the son of former acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt.

"I love my son very much. I'm very proud of him," Moore said. "He's accepted responsibility."
Proud of him because he accepted responsibility or because he's followed your training well? Is this not proof that liberalism leads to criminal acts in some?

source: newsmax.com

A lot of Snow in this administration

Joining John Snow in service to the Bush administration is his unrelated namesake, Tony. The latter Snow is a conservative, but not beyond calling a spade a spade:
Bush noted Snow's past criticisms. ``For those of you who have read his columns and listened to his radio show, he sometimes has disagreed with me,'' Bush said. ``I asked him about those comments, and he said, `You should have heard what I said about the other guy.'''

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"The truth", as divined by the divine B.S.

Why does Barbra Streisand's website need to include a section entitled "Truth Alerts"? Here's its raison d'être from the page itself:
If...sometime within the last 7 days a falsehood has been written in print, spoken on radio, or aired on television about Ms. Streisand...the TRUTH ALERT will contain a statement made by Ms. Streisand and/or her representatives to correct that falsehood. Current falsehood corrections will appear in the section called "Truth Alert." After one week all "Truth Alerts" will be transferred to the Truth Archive. A daily visit to both will keep you up-to-date with these additions.
Sheesh! "A daily visit to both..." - are you kidding? Who does she think she is? I don't even visit my own daughter's website daily!

Even more unnerving is her labeling of her rants as "truth":
... I decided to tell you the truth directly whenever we learn of some distortion which has been printed or broadcast. By the way, this is the only official Barbra Streisand website, the only one that comes straight from me and my staff. So I appreciate your checking in occasionally on Truth Alert. I hope it proves a useful tool for you in separating the truth from everything that isn't.
Oh yes, I'll be adding it to my current spate of "useful tools" for discerning truth: the Bible, the U.S. Code, Snopes.com, and Dave Barry's blog.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Your Søren Kierkegaard quote of the day

I ask: what does it mean when we continue to behave as though all were as it should be, calling ourselves Christians according to the New Testament, when the ideals of the New Testament have gone out of life? The tremendous disproportion which this state of affairs represents has, moreover, been perceived by many. They like to give it this turn: the human race has outgrown Christianity.
from his Journals, June 19, 1852.

Your H.L. Mencken quote of the day

A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.
source: brainyquote.com

The bogeyman

Anyone else think that the bogeyman that is Osama Bin Laden is simply the tool of unscrupulous marketers, looking to boost their bottom lines through knee-jerk sales to patriotic-minded sorts?
Anger over the cartoons, which a Danish newspaper first published last year, outraged Muslims who consider drawings of the Prophet to be blasphemous.

The caricatures, which were reprinted in several Arab and European newspapers, sparked violent protests in which more than 50 people were killed. Consumers in Muslim countries have also boycotted Danish goods.

Denmark's government has refused to apologize for the cartoons, saying it cannot say sorry on behalf of a free and independent media and that freedom of speech is sacred.
Still, I think I'll go buy me some Danish Havarti cheese and perhaps an anthology of poetry by Niels Bohr, who, to my understanding, did not write poetry.

author's note: found an interesting word and concept in the Wikipedia's page on "Cuisine of Denmark":
Good food is an important ingredient in the Danish concept of hygge, a word that can be best translated as a "warm, fuzzy, cozy, comfortable feeling of well-being", however "hygge" is also a highly personal concept, dependent on many circumstances, such as family traditions, e.g. the celebration of Christmas etc. Good food, good company, wine, comfortable furniture, soft easy lighting (candle lights in particular), music, etc., all contribute to the feeling of "hygge."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why I Just Bought a Quart of Canola Oil

There's a new "fad diet" coming out called The Shangri-La Diet by Dr. Seth Roberts. Roberts is a psychologist rather than a somatic doctor, and his diet is more a method of cravings-control rather than a nutritional method. A site documenting experiments in the diet is here, and you can order the official book here (set to come out next week)

To sum up the best I can:

--Overeating, in large part, is caused by a mental association between high-caloric intake and euphoric pleasure of taste.

--Overeating can be controlled be disassociating caloric intake from taste."By breaking the close temporal link between the sensation of taste and the delivery of caloric energy, the body will no longer crave more calories just because of a particular taste--in fact, it will crave less food because the delivery of calories came without a connection to taste."

--This disassociation can be done by (1) Consuming calories that have little or no taste, (2) Consuming calories that have an unfamiliar taste and (3) Consuming foods that contain calories that are only detected by the body after a delay (in order to disassociate the initial taste from the later calorie hit).

--The first method of consuming non-taste calories appears to be the most feasible method of disassociation. To perform this, Roberts recommends (a) Drinking a small amount of tasteless oil (such as canola oil or very light olive oil), and (b) Drinking a small amount of sugar diluted in water (such as fructose or sucrose).

I just started trying this out tonight, by getting some canola oil and having a tablespoon of it. I'm foregoing the sugarwater suggestion, since I'm traditionally a low-carb eater who, regardless of weightgain or weightloss, have found that sugar/carb consumption causes mood swings and tiredness. The oils mention have virtually no carbs in the servings suggested, though high calories.

It's too soon to tell, but after my first tablespoon of oil, I can say that I feel noticeably less cravings. I don't know if the oil just grossed me out, or if its psycho-somatic, but I feel like I just had a full meal. Yet the theorized disassociation is suppose to take time, so it's probably just hopeful thinking.

I'll let everybody knows how it goes.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Only when placed directly on top of the mines!

Dolphins aren't so intelligent after all. Check out the fruit of this study:
"Dolphins have a popular reputation for being excellent communicators," Lindell said. "But our study group offered only three types of response to every question we posed: a nonsensical, labored wheezing, an earsplitting barrage of unintelligible high-pitched shrieks, and in extreme cases, a shrill, distressed scream."
And this important finding:
Even the dolphins' proven ability to navigate through a form of sonar called echolocation was ineffective on land.

"The military has claimed great success in training these mammals, utilizing their echolocation skills to detect mines that have been placed underwater," said Lindell, who conducted a similar experiment in a concrete parking lot. "We were unable to replicate this finding ourselves."

Lindell added: "In most cases, the dolphins succeeded in finding land mines only when we placed them directly on top of the mines."

The cost of a gallon of gasoline

54.8% can be attributed to the cost of crude oil
21.7% is the cost of refining
4.5% goes for marketing, distribution and storage
18.9% is for taxes
source: washingtonpost.com

The Last Website

I've now seen it all on the internet. After seeing this, I can now stop websurfing, turn off the computer, and go outside.

Featured on this site is this page which we can label "Reason No. 43871 of Why It Sucks to Be a Muslim". Say the worst you want about the Bible and Christianity, but at least you're allowed to go Number 1 and 2 in you're own manner of choosing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A "Christian" fighting system?

This is one of the stranger proposals I've seen in a while: a "Christian" fighting system. Perhaps its premise is turning the other cheek so quickly as to break the fingers of the opponent? Or possibly it's removing the plank in your eye so that you can beat your assailant with it repeatedly?

The hardest part to master would be slicing off your opponents ear, without Jesus reattaching it over and over again.

Why, oh why, oh why-oh, why don't we switch to Bio?

Interesting developments on the energy front. Check out these articles about Biodiesel:
Green Berets Prefer Biodiesel
Teeny Reactor Pumps Out Biodiesel
Expect an important announcement from Marion Barry at any moment!

The Best of Times

U.S. Records Drastic Decline in Death Rate

'Very rich' list grows at fastest pace in a decade...

To paraphrase Patton, all we need is a few measely gallons of gasoline.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mr. Blue Sky

Has this man nothing but good news to spread to the world?
"The global oil price has not reached its real value yet. The products derived from crude oil are sold at prices dozens of times higher than those charged by oil-producing countries," state-run Tehran radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"The developed nations are the biggest beneficiary of the added value of oil products," he said.
He's treading into unholy territory previously trodden only by Larry Ellison.

Another Reminder

While we're in the business of sharing morbid news today, someone (anyone?!) needs to talk about this.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad on Wednesday and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said.

“Two terrorist groups beheaded two teachers in front of their students in the Amna and Shaheed Hamdi primary schools in Shaab district in Baghdad,” a ministry statement said.

A ministry official said he believed the attacks were aimed at: “intimidating pupils and disrupting learning.”
If this had happen in America--or Tasmania or Lichtenstein for that matter--every media outlet would be talking about it for months. But because it happened in a third-world country full of brownskin people who talk and pray funny, and doesn't fit the "Iraqi Insurgents = Brave Freedom Fighters Against Chimpy McBu$hitler's Evil War for Oil" media template, we won't hear a peep of it, except on the internet.

Hat Tip to LGF.

Snow's job?

McClellan is out. Who's going to replace him?
One person who is being considered as replacement for McClellan is FOX News’ Radio host Tony Snow. Snow, who hosts "The Tony Snow Show," once served as a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.
I like Tony Snow; he's a class act and has the sort of personality that would handle the media well.

(source: foxnews.com)

A Reminder

This story is a tragic reminder of the brevity of life in this form - and a clarion call to live well. Watch the video if you want more detail.

This particularly hit me, because the Dad was my age and the kids, about the age of most of my friends' kids.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This list is not life

I certainly hope to never find a place on this list. But then, as long as I have the favor of my wife's eye, I could care less.

Some other candidates here and here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Larry, destroyer of all that is good

I am Larry, destroyer of all that is good.

Runaway pricing or business cycle?

Interpret this interesting chart as you may. I think you'll see what I do. (source: "How Gas Prices Work")























Historical Gas Prices
(Adjusted for inflation)

Year
Price Per Gallon


1950
$1.91




1955
$1.85





1960
$1.79




1965
$1.68





1970
$1.59




1975
$1.80




1980
$2.59




1985
$1.90




1990
$1.51





1995
$1.28




2001
$1.66



2002
$1.31



2003
$1.52



2004
$1.79



2005
$2.28




2006 (so far)
$2.68


Source: U.S. DOE

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The tale of many a liberal

For anyone who has lingering doubts that Gary Wills is not a know-it-all pontificator of the worst kind (that being wrong more times than not - and stridently so), I urge you to read this. Original article by Wills here.

If you're really looking for an interesting read, check out this great review of his most recent book. Wills strikes me as the sort of sort who encounters something mesmerizing in early adulthood and for the remainder of his life seeks to construct and maintain an orthodoxy around and upon that something.

Sometimes that something is flat-out wrong. And the orthodoxy?

Such is the tale of many a liberal.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cellojourney.com

Please visit this site and listen to the wonderful music this man has made. If you like what you hear, then "feature" his YouTube videos, clikc on his google ads, drop him a comment, and donate a PayPal dollar to him.

It's people like these who make the internet worthwhile, along with life in general.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Using nukes to prevent the use of nukes

This is a distressing story:
... in a report appearing in the New Yorker, left-wing columnist Seymour Hersh claims that President Bush is so filled with doubt over the Pentagon's conventional capabilities that he asked military planners to consider using nuclear weapons against Iran.
Distressing, not because of using nuclear weapons per se, but due to the irony of using nuclear weapons to deny another sovereign nation the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Does anyone else see it - the irony, that is?

Intellectual irony should not limit resolve to do what is right, however. Iran is a threat precisely because it makes threats - to the U.S., to Israel, to any person or group of persons who defends classical liberalism - the Western way. It follows through on those threats principally through surrogates, but has a history of doing so itself from time to time.

Still, I would feel more comfortable, intellectually, allowing the Iranians to produce a nuclear weapon or weapons before using our own. They (nukes) have such a stigma attached to them. As a decadent culture in profound moral decline, we have little moral capital which to spend on such an endeavor.

Author's note: some add'l content which merits your attention:
'Big George': The Coming Attack on Iran
State Dept Official: Iran Could Build Nukes in 'Days'
Iran Rejects UN Appeal for Nuclear Freeze

Thursday, April 13, 2006

17th

A connection between modern Islamic fascists and those documented nightly on The History Channel - who wudda thunk it?

The connection - documented in fervent detail at this site - is largely the result of Amin Al Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem among other less honorific titles (such as 17th on the list of humanity's greatest a-holes).

A God of security

My wife and I were (yes, I admit) watching South Park last night and saw a fairly funny episode which touched upon something I've written on in the past. Here's the AP's take on it:
NEW YORK (AP) - Banned by Comedy Central from showing an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the creators of "South Park" skewered their own network for hypocrisy in the cartoon's most recent episode.

The comedy - in an episode aired during Holy Week for Christians - instead featured an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.
As a follower of Christ (peace be upon Him), I can appreciate the Muslim's insistence Muhammad not be denigrated via image. However, I am happy to serve a God who condescended to clothe Himself in humility, Who could care less about how He is displayed by men. Only one who is so insecure as to be concerned with his image would take pains to censor his image.

I could not serve so insecure a god - a god who needs me to define who he is.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Register register register!

This is a lesson in IP (that is, Intellectual Property) management:
American Idol finalists may be coached about how to look and sound good, but nobody's advising them to claim their own little corner of cyberspace before becoming famous.

The names for the show's top 12 finalists this season were already registered as .com internet domains before viewers even started voting for their favorites.
For less than $10 a year you can register a domain name - a very small price to pay for something that can payoff big should you become famous or can become a serious headache should you want to become famous. There are laws against squatting, but I'm not certain how easily these are enforced.

Grrrrrrrreat....

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, although he insisted his country does not aim to develop atomic weapons.
Let's briefly examine the reasons for enriching uranium (a very costly, dangerous, and intensive procedure):

1. Building reactors of smaller size. A reactor fueled with natural uranium is typically by necessity very large - several stories tall, wide and deep - too large for practical use as a powerplant on say, a ship or submarine. Enriching the fuel, that is increasing the proportion of U-235 to U-238 (from a natural 1 to 140) allows less uranium to be used in obtaining a criticality (self-sustaining chain reaction). It is reasonable to believe this one actual goal of the Iranian government.

2. Building weapons based upon the fission of uranium.

### BREAKING - To be continued... ###

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Proof of evil

Here you have a story that proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the presence of evil as a force within the hearts of men.

Fool me once, shame on you, Mother Nature; fool me twice, shame on me.

This is not so preposterous an idea:
DETROIT—Detroit, a former industrial metropolis in southeastern Michigan with a population of just under 1 million, was sold at auction Tuesday to bulk scrap dealers and smelting foundries across the United States.
Selling the assets of a failed city is a reasonable proposal. Consider the fate of New Orleans. Certainly, elements of the city should be saved - the historic district and any areas otherwise deemed noteworthy. But to resurrect the entire sprawling metropolis, most of which should never have been built, is not a testament to human perseverance, but a chronicle of asinine decision making. At a bare minimum, rebuilt homes in flood prone areas should be constructed to weather future floods. But what good is a house above the flood level when everything surrounding it is flooded? If you live in such an area, it is likely surrounded by water and by necessity, connected with bridges, many of which are likely compromised in a flood - washed away even. So rebuilding your home in the flood prone area gets you an island the next time around. The insurance company is happy, but you're still literally up sh*t's creek without a paddle.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Picture of The Day



Via The Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 10, 2006.

US against "The World"

Call this one "US against 'The World'" -- or -- Why direct negotiations do not work.

Sayeth MSNBC:
Mr Bush said any effort to engage the Iranians directly on the nuclear issue would weaken efforts to dissuade Iran. "It's amazing that, when we're in a bilateral position or negotiating one-on-one, somehow the world ends up turning the tables on us. And I'm not going to put my country in that position," he said.
So why don't direct negotiations work? The simplest explanation would seem to be that by engaging in one-on-one or multi-lateral negotiations, you elevate the position(s) of your adversary - inviting him to the dais from which to lecture you. Bush needs to continue to carefully state the position that the US will not negotiate with terrorists or those who support terrorists.

The Sugar Daddy

This site ires the conservative within me (though I admit it doesn't particularly bother the libertarian). There is something particularly creepy about the term "Sugar Daddy". Daddies are supposed to be caring, non-sexual guides and protectors of the lives of young'ens entrusted to them. "Sugar" connotes something hollow, non-nourishing - such as sex without intimacy.

When I see a much older or much less physicaly attractive man with a smokin'-hot young woman, I am (unfortunately) quick to deem (read: judge) the situation one of the Sugar Daddy. A recent case in point is eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll. In his case, the bride to be is a good deal younger, a great deal taller, and just a tad more attractive.

I don't point this out to begrudge Skoll his lovely bride to be. I have my own smokin'-hot beauty wed to me. And I have no envy of his fortunes, though I will admit another few dozen K-bucks a year would be nice right now. I think the root of my pebble-in-the-shoe feeling when contemplating these romantic arrangements is that they rub against truth. Truth, in this case, being soul-level contentment.

Marriage for some men starts out as a conquest for the most physically attractive woman he can find -- and more importantly -- keep. The operative word is conquest. Most romantic courtships have some element of chase and conquest to them; otherwise they aren't very much fun. This is my view at least, that there must be some risk in order to heighten the reward.

But all men find at some point that contentment in a mate is incumbent upon a good deal more than her physical attractiveness. What's the condition of her heart? What animates her mind? Are her goals realistic and close to your own? Does she make tough decisions, choose the right over the easy? Does she respect you beyond one facet of your person (read: your finances or power)? What does her family think of you and you, of her family? Does she believe in your God? Does she live out her faith in visible ways? Does she forgive you when you really screw something up? Does it take an earnest "will you forgive me?" or a new Mercedes SL?

Does she laugh at what you laugh, tear up at what you, um, get something in your eye? Does she hate squirrels as much as you do? Does she help you (note to Jeff) dress appropriately and well for all situations? Can she wear her Barbie shoes without towering over you?

These are but a few questions that come to mind when I consider the peril of basing a romantic relationship, particularly a marriage, upon one or two outstanding personal attributes. Said another way: we all have desires; ground your desires in the fertile earth of reality.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

News from the Future . . . future . . . future . . . future!

Via Ray Kurzweil's site:

MIT group develops 'mind-reading' device. Seeing that I'm probably one of the "higher-functioning autistics" discussed in the article, something like this could come in handy. Especially if I ever decide to sell used cars, or something.

Speaking of enhancing the senses: "A new surgical procedure is the first to reverse blindness in patients without eyes. A camera on the tip of the patient's glasses sends signals to a computer that's strapped around their waist. The computer then stimulates implanted electrodes in the brain through a cord that attaches to the head. Patients see flashes of light and outlines of objects. The procedure, which is not yet performed in the United States, costs about $120,000." Video here.

Hugo De Garis contemplates the inevitable robot jihad in his new book The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines. Seriously, that the title of his book.

Also, featured in this article is one of the most unintentionally funny things I've seen in a while: RunBot's First Steps.

Facts = Truth

I agree with Thomas Sowell that
What is more frightening than any particular policy or ideology is the widespread habit of disregarding facts.
For what are facts, but the truth?

Please don't render unto me the hackneyed cry, "but what about emotional truth?" Emotions are important, but they are not implicit truths. This is like measuring color with a spedometer.

Facts are important to living a Reasonable, if not Nutty life.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

H5N1: coming to an everywhere near you?



Now this is a great use of a computer: modeling the impending death of millions from Bird Flu!

If you heard there were a serious outbreak of Avian Flu in the U.S., what would you do? What could you do?

Would it make sense to go to the grocery store and stock up on food - a lot of food - so that you could stay at home away from others for a long time? If cases broke out in your area, would you call into work and beg to telecommute / work from home? Would your company permit it? I bet they would IF you already had the flu.

Really, what would you do?

And has ANYONE considered the possibility that attempting to vaccinate humans against this virus may actually INTRODUCE it into the mass populace? Let's remember that as yet, the H5N1 virus does not easily pass from animals to humans. Injecting the virus directly into humans (in the form of a vaccination) would potentially change this.

The Dept. of Homeland Security Vulnerability

You thought there was one top official in the Department of Homeland Security who has been charged with crimes of a sexual nature regarding children? But wait, there's more!
The other Homeland Security official charged with a sexual offense involving a girl is veteran administrator Frank Figueroa, 49, the ICE special agent in charge of the agency's operations in central and northern Florida. Figueroa, who also ran the agency's El Paso, Texas, office, has pleaded not guilty to charges he exposed and fondled himself to a teenage girl last year at a mall in Tampa.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

When the Peter Principle fails

Here you have basically the most pressing problem with politicians and administrative types.

A most unReasonable Nut

Why is it every seriously unhappy nut seeks to express his grasp of the human condition by trying to take out as many humans as possible on his way out?

Protagonist had an interesting post the other day concerning crank statements on a political weblog, in the vein of Dr. Eric R. Pianka - and a link to a story about a recent speech by Pianka, in which he proposed a deflation of the earth's population by a meager 90%. His method? Airborn Ebola. It's worth a read, but here's the salient closing from the author:
Meanwhile, I still can't get out of my mind the pleasant spring day in Texas when a few hundred scientists of the Texas Academy of Science gave a standing ovation for a speaker who they heard advocate for the slow and torturous death of over five billion human beings.
If you really care to read more about this fellow, his great idea, and those sensitive to believing that idea a good thing, this thoughtful piece goes into some of the backstory, concretizing for me some of the suppositions I had of this misanthrope, namely:
Professor Pianka describes himself as both a "hermit" and a "desert rat" who has spent years living in total isolation in various deserts while devoted to his studies of lizard ecology.

Now, what kind of man could forsake the company of his own kind for years? I certainly couldn't. Humans are, after all, communal animals. We are biologically programmed to seek out the company—the love and support and companionship—of our own species, and I feel that need very strongly. A happy hermit simply must not strongly feel this basic drive that lies at the very foundation of our sense of community and of our own humanity.

I can only conclude that years ago Eric Pianka must have lost touch with his essential humanity, that is, a strong emotional need for his own kind. Now, perhaps driven by that terrible depression that can occur in old men, he seems to have lost touch with reality.

"What kind of village is that?"

Bill Cosby asks, "What kind of village is that?"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Case for Nuking The Daily Kos

If you have any delusions that The Daily Kos is a legitimate news source and activist organization, and not a septic tank of hardcore socialists, anti-american lunatics, neo-anti-semites, and other all-round oxygen thieves, rid yourself of them right now by reading this unfortunate outburst of nonsensical, demonic coprolalia: The Case for Nuking Jerusalem

Now any parent knows that you can only push the sharing idea so far. There just plain comes a time when the whining and hitting and screaming have gone on too long, and it is necessary, for the sake of your own sanity, and for the disciplinary effect it has on the kids, to take the damn toy away. Its obvious that we can't just take whole city and put it up on a shelf where the Israelis, Arabs, Palestinians and Christians can't reach it. But we can nuke it. We can plaster it with atom bombs and turn it into a radioactive lava pit. That's my plan for handling the situation, and I think its really the best thing we could possibly do.

Let me explain why.

As we've already seen, Jerusalem has claimed more than its share of war dead. At least a couple million to date. But what about the future? What about the dead who will make tomorrow's paper. I'm not really talking about the couple hundred Palestinians who will be killed when the Israelis bomb a camp in Lebanon in reprisal for the rocket attack that will hit a school bus full of Hasidic orphans next week. Sure they'll be added to the Holy Carnage Scorecard, but I'm talking about the Next Holy War, the one that will be fought with real weapons of mass destruction; fuel air weapons, tanks, poison gas, bio-weapons, laser guided missiles, napalm, attack helicopters, machine guns, grenades, smart bombs, cluster bombs, neutron bombs and atom bombs.


To paraphrase the rantings of this mental patient "Lots of people died because of Jerusalem, so if we drop nuclear ordinance in the region, destroy the city and all the people in the general area, we'll prevent lots of people from dying". Nevermind that Jerusalem has been destroyed several times in history, and keeps popping back up, like some kind of weird miracle from heaven, or something.

It really frightens me that there are people out there who think like this, and they stand to gain real political power in this country. Every generation, in every major western political institution, finds some reason to make "kill all the Jews" as a platform for peace and prosperity. In whatever time or region you're living in, the way to tell you're on the wrong side is when you're on the side that's against the Jews.

UPDATE at 11:45am 4/2/2006: Apparently, "troutwaxer" is a piker compared to Dr. Pianka. If you believe in making 90% of the world's population go extinct, why not start with yourself?

Also, I noticed the above Daily Kos entry was made on April 1. If it's a joke, I'm not laughing.