May 26, 2004
Dear Readers
Thank you for your emails of concern. All is well, but life is good and keeping me very busy. I will be taking a blogging hiatus over the summer and will return in September. The political season will be getting into full motion at that point; hard as it is for political junkies to believe, most voters do not pay much attention to the candidates until a month or two before the election.

I wish all of you a great summer!

May 14, 2004
Carrots and Sticks: An Update on the War on Terror
The Taliban, Saddam, and other terrorists have seen what happens when a president firmly wields America's big stick. Fortunately, President Bush also understands the value of the carrot. Gadhafi, who has felt America's stick several times in the past, finally decided to pursue the carrot after years of supporting terrorism. In an extraordinary move, Gadhafi agreed last December to dismantle Libya's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Since then President Bush has been slowly rewarding Libya's good behavior by first allowing Americans to travel to Libya and recently moving to allow resumption of oil imports and most commercial and financial activities.

This has two key benefits. First, it shows that we reward nations for good behavior. Second, it will also eventually put more oil on the market (Libya's oil production is about half of what is was before Gadhafi consolidated his power and lead his country down the terrorist path).

Libya still has a long way to go before they are fully trusted again. President Bush is being careful to keep some restrictions on Libya I imagine he will carefully remove them as Libya continues to improve. However, it is nice to see some progress.

Greenpeace Defenders or Exploiters?
Greenpeace cultivates a fuzzy Disney-like image of an organization desperately trying to protect poor animals against unethical corporations. However, recently I have read several articles attempting to shine some light on Greenpeace itself. I found an interesting article entitled How Telling the Truth Defeated Greenpeace in Brazil based upon a more detailed paper. A proponent of nuclear plants in Brazil was dismayed by all the lies Greenpeace told in his country about nuclear power. So the scientist went on the offensive, found proof that Greenpeace had a history of lying, and publicized it. For example:
Greenpeace had even staged the grisly killing of a baby seal just to make a fundraising film that purported to show how bad fishermen were killing baby seals. Note: I verified this fact from other sources.

May 12, 2004
More Thoughts on Israelis & Palestinians
Last month I remarked that Israel's almost completed wall would not only increase the safety of Israelis, but would increase conflict between Palestinians. Last week there was another incident. It involved Hamas again (no surprise) and a rival organization, Fatah.
Palestinian sources said it began as a brawl between Hamas activists, who were looking to set up a campaign booth on the university grounds, and Fatah youth, who wanted to stop them.

The brawl and shouting match soon turned into a knife fight, the sources said, adding a large group of Fatah activists then arrived on the scene and set fire to furniture and office equipment belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposition groups on campus. Shortly thereafter, the gunfight began.

Four of the injured sustained gunshot and knife wounds and were evacuated to city hospitals.

I really feel sorry for anyone raised in Palestine. I believe the Israeli strategy of walling out terrorists will greatly reduce the number of Israeli citizens killed by terrorists. It will do so by 1) making it harder to commit such an attack and 2) frustrated Palestinians will fight amongst themselves. I have no problems with terrorists killing each other, but I have great sympathy for those raised in an environment which makes suicide attacks look attractive.

At least stories like this one provide some hope. I think the Israeli security guards, constantly on edge after literally generations of suicide attacks, should be commended for not shooting the reluctant suicide bomber.

May 07, 2004
Happy Mother's Day
This Sunday is Mother's Day. I'm blessed with a wonderful wife who is also a wonderful mother. For her, and for all mothers, here are some links about the late Erma Bombeck, a famous mother who wrote some very funny, yet realistic, books about family life.

First, here are Erma's thoughts on how some mothers are chosen. The person at this link captured some of her many quips. I remember reading some of her books as a teen. A few of the titles still stick with me such as The Grass Looks Greener over the Septic Tank and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why am I Always in the Pits. I thought they were a riot then. Now that I'm married and have kids, I should pick up some of her later books.

At any rate, this seemed like a good weekend to share these thoughts. Happy Mother's Day!

Don Quixote | | TrackBack: 0
Category: General , Category: Humor
International Attitudes Toward Prohibitions
This is hardly an original observation, but recently I have been struck by one of the major differences between the US and the EU. In general, we have much different attitudes toward prohibitions.
In the US, anything that is not explicitly prohibited is allowed.

In the EU, anything is that is not explicitly allowed is prohibited.

I know parents in the US who follow the EU strategy when it comes to raising their children. This quote is from Lucy. I found it at Sand in the Gears.
About five minutes ago, I informed our children that they were only allowed to call each other by their given first name. Period. Because they can think up their own "bad" names quicker than I can ban them!
From a parent's perspective, this strategy may make sense. Adults are wiser and more experienced than children and parents may find it easier to limit what their children are allowed to do instead of placing limits on what they are not allowed to do. However, once a child grows up, he is recognized as an adult and given the same rights and responsibilities as other adults. In the European Union, the EU believes it is wiser and more experienced than its citizens and prohibits its citizens from anything that is not specifically allowed. Even my UK friends do not have permission to buy grape tomatoes since grape tomatoes have not yet been specifically approved by EU bureaucrats. (And no, the grape tomato is not a genetically enhanced food, it is a simple hybrid that simply wasn't very popular when the EU made their rules.)

The US has plenty of people who want to imitate the European nanny state for some reason. Fortunately, they are a minority. In a world with finite resources, I can think of little more wasteful than paying bureaucrats to tell me what I am allowed to do.

"Modern Day" Escher
May 06, 2004
International Impact of US Presidential Elections
If I were not one, I might dislike Americans. Even though most of us never think about it, our election will influence the entire world, not just ourselves. Yet many of us will cast our vote without consideration of what this means for the rest of the world. No one likes for their fate to be, even partially, in the hands of others. How much more so this must be when one's fate is tied to a ruler of another land? I do not believe we should ever give non-citizens a vote in who we elect as our sovereign leader, but I think it important for voters to judge the impact their decision will have for others besides themselves.

May 05, 2004
The Business Case for HDTV
Some friends and I were discussing our various perspectives on HDTV (High Definition Television). In the words of a participant from the UK:
Sadly HDTV will be a crock. It always pays better to use the multiplex to send more game shows rather than good content (say 4 game shows to one Morse?) AQ can probably back me up on that one.
After writing a lengthy reply to him, I decided that this might be of interest to more people. So here is a discussion of why HDTV will succeed in the United States. I am deliberately trying to keep things simple for this discussion, so I will limit myself to a brief overview of the technology before I discuss the business case for High Definition Television.

May 04, 2004
Stopping Sasser
The Sasser Worm continues to cause some trouble. In the space of three days, four variants have emerged, each capable of causing machines that run on Microsoft's Windows operating systems XP, NT and 2000 to reboot without warning.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to prevent it from affecting you. Go to Microsoft's Windows Site and download the latest security updates. You should do this on a regular basis. If you are just concerned about the Sasser Worm, you can also try this option.

May 03, 2004
Good for California
Those are not words that leave my lips on a regular basis, but California has showed uncommon sense for a change. On Friday, their secretary of state decertified all touch-screen voting systems in the state because there was no way to audit the votes in case of a problem (e.g., fraud, power failures, programming mistakes, etc.).

Electronic voting is too open to fraud without a paper trail. I appreciate the advantages of electronic voting and support it, so long as the process also generates a paper trail in such a way that the voter sees the paper receipt before he leaves the facility. This is not difficult to implement (colleges have been using scan forms for many decades) and would prevent many potential problems.

Gawking May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Splash Day indeed.

May 01, 2004
Ideas Have Impact
One of my quests for change is slowly bearing fruit. The poliblogger has implemented a permalink for his political Toast-O-Meter. If you are a fan of his political analysis (and you should be), consider adding to your bookmarks.

Am I Cheap or Responsible?
Justene at Calblog had mixed feelings about the Japanese government charging a few of their citizens about $7,000 each to cover some of the costs of rescuing them after they were held hostage. According to Justene:
Japan's reasoning seems logical and fair and consistent and yet so very, very wrong.
Justene is a very nice person, but I think Japan's actions should be applauded, not denigrated as wrong. Right now the US is advising all non-essential Americans to leave Saudi Arabia. Let's say 4 Americans enter Saudi Arabia next week despite this strong recommendation and get kidnapped by terrorists.

Should the rest of us should pick up the tab if our government can save them and fly them home?

For my part, I'd like my government to try to save them. But I certainly hope we'd bill these folks for at least part of the expense. Their foolhardy actions would be wasting our taxes. The least they could do is cover a small portion of the costs they incurred. (I say small portion, because neither Japan or the US seems to ever charge the actual costs for rescuing foolish citizens. Even the time of just one high-level negotiator is worth many hundreds of dollars per hour and the efforts to rescue foolish folks involves many people).

My thoughts are also guided by my belief that actions should have consequences. If those who foolishly rush into trouble are always bailed out by their governments, are not we endorsing and enabling similar behavior in the future?