Tuesday, February 28, 2006

And now for something just a little bit different...

Via Slashdot and MPR, the Minnesota Republican party may have provided a lesson in privacy and data security, by way of a bad example. Next time guys, tell your survey subjects that their personal data is being collected and please, don't post that data on a public website. (link not given) Oh, and send your IT consultants out for a refresher on data security.

Monday, February 27, 2006

On Further Consideration

I was premature in trashing all of the members of the US men's Olympic team for bad behavior. Perhaps his teammates should emulate Joey Cheek's example. Via Harry's Place.

Coleman, Again

Nick Coleman produces another column complaining about the ads currently running here in Minnesota that paint a different picture of Iraq than the one he believes.
I've written twice about the pro-war TV ads sponsored by a fat-cat conservative group based in Washington. My points were simple: 1) The ads exploit the deaths of soldiers in order to advance the political agenda that led to the unnecessary war in which they fell. And 2) The ads do NOT represent all troops and families (the mother of one fallen soldier, an opponent of the war, was coldly left out).

Not all veterans agreed with the point of view expressed in the ads. Fair enough. One of the problems with Coleman, though, is the double standard he applies. I haven't seen any columns from him decrying the support by liberal fat cats who enable Cindy Sheehan's efforts to exploit her dead son for her political views, nor have there been any about the folks supporting Code Pink, who busily are attempting to exploit the war's wounded to their political advantage. As to his second point, veterans do not unanimously oppose the war either, which is the impression he tries to create in his column. Both points he makes are trivial. Plus, the only people he criticizes are those whom he disagrees with.

It isn't surprising that supporters of the war feel need to use paid advertising, given the inability or unwillingness to report (last link just in case the Strib link is bad) any stories other than negative ones out of Iraq. The other problem he has, namely getting his facts right, is better discussed by the guys at Power Line. Unfortunately, the Star Tribune is unwilling to print much criticism of him for his sloppiness and intellectual dishonesty, rather unlike the way Katherine Kersten is treated... .
Given his rabid partisanship along with his propensity to use his column to make personal attacks on his political opponents, I once again urge the Star Tribune to engage in a little addition by subtraction, and drop this guy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Not-so-Fine Whine

If there were a medal count for whining the US men's team would be atop the leader board. It kind explains why I've lost interest in the Olympics since the '80s, I guess. They should take a lesson in sportsmanship from the US women.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who's Threatening Free Speech?

Via Instapundit, more evidence that the largest threat to freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry may be coming from academic left.

I didn't write anything about the Summers flap, mostly becuase it was so ludicrous. Summers posed a proposition/question that was a researchable question. He wasn't stating a conclusion, he posed a hypothesis. It was the reaction to what he said that didn't make any sense.

The people who had a case of the vapours over his words and forced an (in my view unwarranted) apology and an even more unwarranted resignation reacted in a emotional and political way to an idea outside of their emotional and conceptual comfort zone. They heard a voice from outside the echo chamber and rather than meet the challenge posed by the question, they attacked the person who challenged their comfortable world view. Instead of the academic give and take that is at the heart of free inquiry, these faculty showed the close-mindedness these same faculty undoubtedly assume is the province of rednecks, hicks, and midwestern hausfraus.

Update: Maybe the Summers debacle is just a symptom of this (via Arts and Letters Daily).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I came across an interview Laura Ingraham was doing with a a Long Island mayor this morning while driving to work. The subject was illegal immigration, and the mayor was explaining why local officials did not have any responsibility to help enforce immigration laws. He cited two reasons.

First, it was not the responsibility of local officials to make up for a failed federal immigration policy/system. Reasonable enough. His second reason was the economy of his upper-class New York suburb depended on illegal immigrants for labor. In his view, American citizens and legal immigrants are unwilling to do the jobs done by illegal workers. Basically, he took the same position often espoused by President Bush and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Setting aside the security problems posed by our inability to control the movement of people across our borders, the problems with this reasoning are twofold. First is the disrespect for the rule of law that happens when we turn a blind eye to illegal immigration. Why should anyone go through the legal processes required to immigrate to the US legally when there is essentially no penalty in coming here illegally?

Second is the distortion of the labor market due to the presence of large numbers of illegal workers. When someone says that legal residents of the US are unwilling to do a job, what they are really saying is they are unwilling to do the job at the price the complainer is willing to pay. Not to mention doing the work under conditions that would normally be considered unsafe or unfair. Are legal residents willing to do dirty jobs? Yes, if paid enough. For anecdotal proof, one could watch a few episodes of Dirty Jobs, which documents all sorts of tough, dirty jobs. Fact is, if there were not illegal workers here to do those kinds of jobs the mayor was depending on them for, the price of doing those jobs would go up, and legal residents could then be found to do them. Illegal competition in the job market by illegals drives down wages and distorts the market. This makes life even harder for people who work the lower wage jobs by increasing competition in a market that is already extremely competitive. Appparently, that didn't bother the mayor much.

It's funny how the WSJ types decry market distortions caused by regulation when it raises costs for owners, but encourage government negligence in controlling our borders when it drives down labor costs. A fellow could get the idea that it's just all about the money or something.

Dick Cheney's Hunting Accident

There've been a lot of jokes over the last couple days about the Veep's shooting one of his hunting companions. Assuming Mr. Whittington recovers, there is a lot of humor potential. I think I'll leave that to people who are actually funny. I've only got a couple of things to say about the incident.

First, Cheney screwed up. Despite some people's claims that Cheney was not at fault due to Whittington's failure to warn his fellow hunters that he was in the area, Vice President Cheney is still responsible for knowing what is in front of him when he fires, and is the fellow who pulled the trigger. That makes him responsible, no ifs, ands, or buts about it and he should publicly say so. Also, in a reasonable world the fact that he was involved in a hunting accident would not be a political issue. Unfortunately, we don't live in a reasonable world.

Next, the hissy fit thrown by the White House press corps because they didn't get the story first is embarassing. David Gregory in particular made a jackass of himself (Windows Media video via Michelle Malkin).

Wonder if they've got openings?

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

I was quite pleased with this result....

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nick Coleman Rides Again

Nick Coleman, Star Tribune resident partisan hack Master of Misinformation, writes a smear job on the folks who produced the "Midwest Heroes" ad that started airing this week. The Power Line guys disassemble it here, so I don't have much to add. It's the kind of piece the I've come to expect from Coleman, showing his usual ability to ignore truth when it gets in the way of an attack on people that he politically disagrees with. Naturally, it also wouldn't be a Nick Coleman column without his usual application of double standards - to wit, condemning Progress for America for the same kind of activities that he never criticizes MoveOn or ACT for. In Nickworld, political speech funded by liberal groups = goodness and "speaking truth to power" , political speech from conservative groups = evil Bush administration spin.

All in all, another example of why getting rid of him would be an example of "addition by subtraction" for the Star Tribune.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Confusing Criticism and Censorship

at the DFL, of course. In this story about the DFL's new blog, David Ruth hints that GOP criticism is the same as attacking freedom of speech:
"There is a lot of overheated editorializing," said Mark Drake, communications director for the GOP Minnesota.

"I think the DFL is playing catch-up with the blog in the state," Drake said. "A lot of the energy from blogging has always been on the GOP side."

Although the state Republican Party does not have its own blog, Drake said it has a good relationship with bloggers across Minnesota who promote the ideas and messages of the GOP.

"It is a new medium, but the same old tired DFL attack stuff," Drake said of the new DFL site.

Said Ruth: "If they [Republicans] want to hammer on the freedom of speech, I welcome that. And if it drives more people to our site, I encourage Mark Drake to post regularly."

Just once, I would like to see proof that the GOP is against the 1st Amendment. Seems to me that lefty types who push stuff like banning hate speech are a bigger threat to free expression than the GOP.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Once more down the Runway

This week's installment of Runway was a challenge requiring each designer to makeover one of their colleagues. The outfits were at best a mixed bag, but it was interesting that the two women did the best job on designing the menswear. Especially since Chloe admitted that she had never designed or constructed men's clothing before. None of the guys did a particularly praiseworthy job.

The episode also provided more illustration of the overall bad attitude of Santino. Nothing is ever this guy's fault, even when the outfit (he designed a jumpsuit for Kara) is falling apart on the runway. He also is a remarkably brazen liar, telling tall ones about Kara's opinion of his outfit. All this while draining all of the goodwill out of the workroom.

Anyway, the outfits:

Chloe : designed pinstriped pants and vest for Nick. Looked like it fit well and it looked finished, it improved the way he looked. The winning outfit. Can't really argue with the judges about that.

Daniel V : red dress and leather vest for Chloe. Must have been slacking off becuase of his immunity. Not good. With the mere addition of a pair of fishnet stockings, she would have the compleat hooker look in his outfit. A rotten thing to do to her. I am disappointed because Chloe is adorable, gorgeous and absolutely pegs my hormone meter, she deserved better.

Kara: Sportswear for Santino. She had the almost impossible task of making the Great Santino presentable. She mostly succeeded, what greater praise can I give? Perhaps the judges should have given her the win.

Nick: A "gray" suit for Daniel. No pockets, the fit wasn't good, it didn't look well put together, even to my ignorant eyes. The material looked almost lavender on the runway, and the transformation of Daniel to Leisure Suit Larry was complete. The cause of Nick's farewell to Project Runway.

Santino: a jumpsuit for Kara. He literally sewed (and glued it) on to Kara for the runway show, and it was literally falling apart on the runway. The fit was terrible, making her look a little like the Michelin Man. He lied outrageously to the judges about the fit and and Kara's reaction to the garment prior to the show. I thought Kara did him a service by making sure to cover the disintegrating sleeve with her hair and by not giving him away on the runway. This outfit should have gotten Santino auf'ed. I guess with Santino, not even three strikes is enough.

Right wingers hate Muslims!

Yep, the word is out thanks to that beacon of reason and light, Antonia Zerbisias. The sign she picked up on is the willingness to defend freedom of expression by being willing to publish something that some Muslims are offended by. The horror! Worse yet, they actually have the temerity to criticize the rioting, killing, embassy-burning morons that have been making the news of late in Europe and the Middle East. Heaven forbid that someone actually hurt their widdle feewings... . What a steaming pile of you-know-what!

I wonder if she was so caring about the feelings of Christians and Jews being oppressed and persecuted in Muslim lands, or those Christians offended by the Virgin Mary depicted in elephant dung, or Jesus Christ dunked in urine? I'll bet she backed those artists to the hilt. When will we see columns from her objecting to cartoonists in Arab newspapers depicting Jews and Israelis in the same ways the Nazis did? Maybe sometime after Hell freezes over, I expect.

In any case, in Zerbisias' world criticizing the groups she defends is the same thing as hatred. Dumb. Moreover, I didn't see glee in the postings of those supporting the Danish cartoonists. I did see a spirited defence of free expression, which Zerbisias is quite willing to abandon as long as it is Muslims and leftists who are offended. I also saw that name-calling is all right by her, as long as it is directed at people she disagrees with. Hypocrite.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

From the Malaysia Star, an excerpt from the Vatican's statement on the Mohammed cartoons:

"The freedom of thought and expression, confirmed in the Declaration of Human Rights, can not include the right to offend religious feelings of the faithful. That principle obviously applies to any religion," the Vatican said.

"Any form of excessive criticism or derision of others denotes a lack of human sensitivity and can in some cases constitute an unacceptable provocation," it said in a statement issued in response to media demands for the Church's opinion.

With all due respect to His Holiness, I think they got this one wrong. There is no right of not being offended by others. The reaction to the offensive material, though, is up to the viewer and parts of the Muslim world have not aquitted themselves very well.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

They can dish it out, but

they sure can't take it. (via Michelle Malkin)

The Muslims now engaging in a violent temper tantrum because of a few cartoons of the Prophet need to grow up. Threats of violence, beheadings, riots are not exactly the hallmarks of a mature, peaceful faith or culture. It's more like the whiny, adult version of whiny, childish behavior. Given the intolerance and disrespect shown by extremist Muslims to those of other faiths, it also is pretty hypocritical.

Yes, I understand that depictions of Mohammed are not allowed in Islam. Yes, I can see how that would be offensive to many Muslims. Is it in good taste to print these kind of cartoons? Probably not. Does that justify death threats and acts of terrorism? Absolutely not.

See the larger versions of the cartoons

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

This Year's SOTU

wasn't all that impressive, but in a way I can understand that. The country is in the middle of a long grind in Iraq, blind opposition from the other party, and a desire not to offend people in swing districts represented by GOP congressmen/women probably lead to a less than bold, exciting speech. The mention of the defeat of Social Security reform is worth mentioning, if only because of the Democrats' applause showing their eagerness to proclaim themselves part of the problem.

The Democratic response was pretty lame, basically consisting of claiming they have a better way, but no explanation of what that "better way" is. The stuff to generate apathy with.
The latest Project Runway challenge was to design a garment for garden party, using materials available from plants and a gardening supply store. The dresses didn't really hold my interest, but the Santino's reaction to the prize of immunity to the winner was interesting.

He had two incentives to win. First, proving that Santino is still Santino, was that immunity would allow him to design something "really offensive" for the next challenge. Considering a couple of the dresses he designed for previous challenges, what, does one suppose, would Santino consider offensive? Since offense is subjective, which judge or judges would he try to offend? Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, Heidi Klum, or all of the above? It's a shame he didn't win, because it might have been fun to find out.

The second incentive was as he put it, to keep an undeserving designer from hanging around an extra week. Kind of illogical, since if that other designer won the challenge, wouldn't it imply that he/she would be "deserving"? (Scratches head)