Saturday, May 21, 2005

Why I am not a Republican:

They are bald-faced liars, pretending to espouse Federalism, when they actually hate the concept. That doesn't make them worse than Democrats, but they aren't a lot better. And why would one relish the idea of liars telling you what to do, for your own good?

David Boaz of the Cato Institute has decent summary:
President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act establishes national education testing standards and makes every local school district accountable to federal bureaucrats in Washington.

President Bush and conservative Republicans have been trying to restrain lawsuit abuse by allowing class-action suits to be moved from state to federal courts. The 2002 election law imposed national standards on the states in such areas as registration and provisional balloting. A 2004 law established federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses and personal identification cards.

President Bush's "Project Safe Neighborhoods" transfers the prosecution of gun crimes from states to the federal government. The administration is trying to persuade federal courts to block implementation of state initiatives on medical marijuana in California and assisted suicide in Oregon.

Perhaps most notoriously, President Bush and conservatives are pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in all 50 states. They talk about runaway judges and democratic decision-making, but their amendment would forbid the people of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California or any other state from deciding to allow same-sex marriage. Marriage law has always been a matter for the states. We should not impose one uniform marriage law on what conservatives used to call "the sovereign states."

If you've been looking for a good book on Scurvy... might try Stephen R. Bown's book by that name.

I picked up a copy at the used bookstore in the Milwaukee airport on my way to Hawaii in March, read a fair bit of it despite some comments from certain elements out there, and have just now finished it.

Bown's prose isn't up to Shakespeare's or Dashiell Hammett's, but it's a good read and gives one an idea of just how awful a scourge scurvy was, and how miserably long it took to figure out how to prevent and cure it.

Scurvy apparently wasn't a factor in sailing until the months-long sea voyages following Columbus's voyage. While practical mariners figured out by the very late 16th century that fresh vegetables and citrus fruits did the trick, theorists actually got it wrong and still managed to put an end to proper treatment until near the end of the 18th century. The 17th and eighteenth centuries were ugly years for sailors.

Captain Cook figured out how to prevent scurvy during his three voyages of Pacific discovery, but he wasn't systematic enuf in his experiment, and muddled the results. The British navy sailed onward, scurvy ridden, until the 1790s. Then, however, they got it right with a vengeance with plenty of daily citrus juice, and that clearly affected the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars: The Brit ships could stay on station for months, blockading French ports to prevent the French Navy from escaping and ferrying troops to invade England. The Battle of Trafalgar likely was affected by scurvy among the French crews, and lack of it among the British.

Blogging will be very slow for...

...awhile. I am going paws up like a dead marmot: sore throat, fever, congested, headachey, watery eyes. Aspirin helps some.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Eleanor Holmes Norton on moves to allow DC residents to have loaded guns at home:

"They're trying to see to it that more children get killed," said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat.
Well, that is sure to keep the debate focussed on the facts. Derrill Holly has the AP article in the Washington Times.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's bill:
would enable city residents to keep loaded handguns in their homes for personal protection. Most private handgun ownership in the District has been prohibited by law since 1976.

"Crack down on the criminal as opposed to taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens," said Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican.
There is a case on this before the Supreme Court which will likely have far-reaching consequeces, no matter how it comes out.

Thanks to Instapundit for the lead.

Beheaded in Saudi Arabia for Owning a Bible?

Well, if that is true, the Saudis should shut up about rumors of defiling the Koran.

Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Saudi Institute in Washington, in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal:
The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible.
Well, the Saudis aren't exactly exemplars of tolerance and multi-culturalism.
The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies.

Victor Davis Hanson is on a roll

Hanson, in Our Two-Front Struggle:
America was once a country that demolished Hitler and Tojo combined in less than four years and broke the nuclear Soviet Union — and now frets and whines that a few thousand deranged fascists want an apology.

Abroad, we battle Islamic fascists who hate us for our success and want to kill us with the tools of the modern world they despise. But at home, we are also at odds with our own privileged guilt-ridden aristocracy, whose very munificence has made them misunderstand why they are hated.

The Islamists insist, "We kill you for being soft." Westerners in response feel, "We are killed because we are not being soft enough."

And so they riot and kill in Afghanistan over a stupid rumor, and we seek to apologize that it somehow spread.
He has several good lines in his article. It's worth a couple minutes.

Steven J. Kurtz is angry

Steven J. Kurtz is mad because he is being prosecuted. Go figure.
Steven J. Kurtz contended Tuesday that "fanaticism" and "neo-McCarthyism" in the federal government are behind efforts to prosecute him for obtaining bacterial agents through the mail...

After a probe that began when police were called to his home following his wife's death, Kurtz was indicted last June on felony charges of mail and wire fraud. He is accused of working with a Pittsburgh genetic researcher to obtain bacteria for an art exhibit protesting government policies on genetic engineering.

..Justice Department attorneys deny that there was any political motivation behind the indictments, saying Kurtz and his co-defendant, Robert E. Ferrell, defrauded the company that sold the bacteria by buying it under false pretenses.

"The indictment has nothing to do with artistic expression," prosecutor William J. Hochul Jr. said Tuesday. "It alleges that biological organisms were obtained through fraud, false statements and misrepresentation. A jury will determine whether the defendant is guilty as charged."

On May 11, 2004, Buffalo police detectives were sent to the Kurtz home on College Street to investigate the death of Kurtz's wife, Hope, 45. Kurtz had called 911 after noticing that his wife was not breathing.

Agents in the terrorism task force were later called in after a detective noticed that Kurtz had a biology laboratory in the home and tinfoil over some of the windows, Hochul said. Kurtz told police that he used the bacteria - bacillus atrophaeus and serratia marcescens - in some of his art exhibits.
According to their own site , "Critical Art Ensemble is a collective...dedicated to exploring the intersections between art, technology, radical politics, and critical theory."

I remember this case when it was initially reported. Kurtz was screaming bloody murder because he was even being investigated, claiming McCarthyism, oppression, and on and on.

Try putting yourself in the place of the police and FBI: During a war against anti-Western mass-murderers, after the bio-weapon murders of ppl in Florida and attempted murders in DC, you walk into a house and see A) a dead 45 year old woman and B) a biolab. Then you discover C) that the grieving husband is not a recognized biologist but part of a self-described collective which espouses "radical politics."

Naturally you would console him for his loss, and go home for a beer and a couple brats. Since he claims to be using these bio items to make artistic statements critical of Western society, you also ignore the fact that he may have committed several federal felonies in acquiring his bacteria, because, after all, he is just an anti-capitalist performance artist stuck in a capitalist society and therefore you know that it would never occur to him to perform any artistic act which might actually hurt anyone, especially capitalists.

Dan Herbeck has the story in the Buffalo News, tho he didn't get into Kurtz's politics, at least in this article.

The British Museum hangs art of the Post-Catatonic era

A repeat prankster hung one of his own works at the British Museum this week, where it remained un-noticed by the staff for at least a couple days. The work, on a piece of rock, depicted an "early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds" with a shopping cart, and an arrow studded bovine in the distance.
The British Museum praised the way his rock was hung and the style of the sign, which was "very similar" to their own design.
The museum seems to be taking it with good humor.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Therapeutic Cloning: South Korea

Well, the Asian countries have an advantage over the Land of the Free: it's legal and apparently not even all that controversial. The Financial Times has the story:
Scientists have cloned embryos for the first time from patients with serious diseases and injuries. The research at Seoul National University in South Korea demonstrates the principle of “therapeutic cloning” producing stem cells genetically identical to the patient, which could repair any damaged or diseased tissue.

Hwang Woo-suk, the study leader, called it “a giant step forward towards the day when some of mankind's most devastating diseases and injuries can be effectively treated through the use of therapeutic stem cells”....

In an interview, Prof Hwang said this is partly because of supportive political and social attitudes in Asia in contrast to the US and many European countries, where embryo research and therapeutic cloning are either banned or mired in controversy.
There are serious religious and philosophical issues involved, but anti-cloning legislation doesn't seem to effect the research and implementation, it just drives it out of the US.

Oh, my

I guess those Do Good sites can be used for other purposes:
But here's some good news: It turns out that the fishing nets used to catch tuna have the added benefit of ensnaring and killing dolphins. Tuna that is not caught using this method is labeled "dolphin safe" so that you can avoid it. This Web site has a helpful list of supermarket chains that sell non-dolphin-safe tuna. Tuck away a nice tuna-salad sandwich, and you'll be doing your part to save the world from the delphine menace.
It's all in good fun- I think- but if you want to check it out, click here and scroll down to the last entry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Another Newsweek Scandal: Provoking the Lutefisk Rebellion

Someday people may stop taking Newsweek seriously. Until then, outrages like this will continue:
Decorah, IA - The debris-strewn streets of this remote Midwestern hamlet remain under a tense 24-hour curfew tonight, following weekend demonstrations by rock- and figurine-throwing Lutheran farm wives that left over 200 people injured and leveled the Whippy Dip dairy freeze. The rioting appeared to be prompted, in part, by a report in Newsweek magazine claiming military guards at Spirit Lake’s notorious Okoboji internment center had flushed lutefisk down prison toilets. Newsweek’s late announcement of a retraction seems to have done little to quell the inflamed passions of Lutheran insurgents in the region, as outbreaks of violent mailbox bashings and cow tippings have been reported from Bowbells, North Dakota to Pekin, Illinois....

“It is important that we remember that Lutheranism is a religion of peace,” said Army spokesman Maj. Richard Lehrman. “And we need to remember to avoid insensitive behavior and remarks that will cause these peaceful Lutherans to go on another bloody killing rampage.”
Best to read the whole thing:Click here: iowahawk: Newsweek Lutefisk Story Sparks Fury Across Volatile Midwest .

Religious nuts

Murdering people- or executing them judicially- for blasphemy fits my definition of "religious nut." Christians used to do it, and I read now and then that some few still advocate it. Those Christians who do advocate blasphemy laws are so far out on the fringe as to be generally considered nuts by other Christians.

By contrast, a lot of Muslims not only advocate blasphemy laws, including ones which carry death sentences, they have enacted, maintain, and enforce them in the face of some opposition. They are religious nuts and I decline to respect their views. Pure and simple: They are advocates and in some cases practitioners of murder. Whethor the killings are judicially sanctioned or by mobs, they are all murders.

Ben Arnoldy and Owais Tohid explain the practice in the Christian Science Monitor:
The Koran has a special status in Islam that sets it apart from the way many Christians view the Bible, for instance. While Christianity's holy book is held to be divinely inspired and to have been set down by holy men, the words themselves are not considered a direct work of God.

But most Muslims believe that the Koran was transmitted to Muhammad from Allah by the angel Gabriel nearly 1,400 years ago and written down precisely as Allah intended.

...Strict Muslims are expected to clean themselves ritually before touching the Koran. They don't allow the book to be set on the floor and, in some cases, hold that nonbelievers should not touch the book.
Sorry folks: This does not explain why some Muslims think murdering people is a good thing.
More than 4,000 blasphemy cases have been registered since the laws were enacted (in Pakistan) in 1986, according to human rights activists. While no one has ever been officially executed for blasphemy, dozens have been killed by vigilantes.

...Ghafoor Ahmed, the deputy chief of Jamaat-i Islami...(says) the blasphemy laws are necessary..."No one who believes in God or in the prophets of God can allow them to be insulted."
And so we read stories like this one from Pakistan:
When Ashiq Nabi got into an argument with his wife, she held up a Koran to protect herself, setting into motion a deadly series of events. Mr. Nabi then pushed his wife, say human rights activists, sending Islam's holy book onto the floor and prompting the local mullah in Spin Kakh, Pakistan, to file blasphemy charges.

Before the police could act, Nabi was spotted in town and the mullah allegedly spread the word over the mosque's loudspeakers. A mob of more than 400 villagers chased Nabi until he climbed up a tree, then shot him dead.
This is the mentality we are all up against, and by "all" I do include all the many Muslims who do not advocate murder. There are enuf of these nuts in Pakistan to have gotten this law in, and to maintain it. Saudi Arabia is ruled by such nuts, and al Queda is composed of them. It was religious nuts who murdered film maker Theo van Gogh in Holland. They are religious fascists, and genocidal, and they want us dead.

There is a Darth Vader Grotesque on the Washington National Cathedral.

Will wonders never cease? I guess "A National House of Prayer for All People" includes Star Wars fans.

Thanks to the Corner on National Review Online for the lead to this important story.

Milwaukee Public Museum finance

If you are interested in the financial crisis over at the Milwaukee Public Museum, a site called Charity Governance has been running a series of articles. They are quite critical of the Board, and it seems to me properly so.

I have long had a lot of criticisms of the way the museum has been run for the last several decades, but the crisis revealed over the past couple weeks is in a class by itself.

The article linked above has a link to a pdf of an interview with Museum President Mike Stafford which appeared in this month's "L&S Today", which is a University of Wisconsin publication. Given the revelations of the last couple of weeks, paragraphs 2 and nine are rather breathtaking.

Labels: ,

Killing a flea on another guy's foot, with gamma rays

Michael Kimmelman, NY Times critic, wants a law:
So in the future, I suggest new rules: besides giving local museums a reasonable period of time to match the price of any art sold by any...nonprofit - institution, there should be more open procedures and time for public scrutiny.
First of all, Kimmelman thinks the other guy's foot is pretty much Kimmelman's property. Second, he has not the foggiest notion of what such a draconian law would do to public institutions: He hasn't thought about his proposal long enough to realize the long term effects. He is mad because a favorite painting in the New York Public Library (which, despite having art, is a library, not an art gallery) was recently sold for $35,000,000 to raise money for the library. He is also mad that a private individual bought it.
In 1996...the board at the financially troubled Shelburne Museum in Vermont...sold off classic Impressionist works....The decision was a violation of basic American museum standards, which say that art should be sold only to buy other art - not to dig the museum out of a financial hole...Most if not all of the art ended up in private hands.

Enough. Public institutions must avoid even the appearance of impropriety when selling art.
No, they don't. They should avoid the real thing. Trying to avoid the possibility that some presumptuous ignoramus will be offended is a great way to hobble institutions which already have enuf problems.

I followed the Shelburne Museum sale brouhaha a bit, and the sale was beyond any doubt in my mind the right thing to do. Those paintings never should have gone to Shelburne in the first place. Background: Shelburne was founded by Electra Havermeyer Webb as an open-air museum of rural New England history. She dismantled buildings all over the place and brought them to Shelburne and set them up, filling some with collections of glass, ceramics, scrimshaw, decoys, trade figures, weathervanes & ship's figureheads, while others she furnished as they might have been around the time they were new.

Webb's parents had been the first American collectors of French Impressionists, and most of their collection went to the Metropolitan Museum. After her death, Webb's children decided that they wanted a monument to their mother, and her concept of the museum wasn't good enuf for them. They put up a new building on the grounds which reproduced the interiors of her Park Avenue apartment, including the original paneling. Then they filled it with her own stuff, including some very nice Impressionist paintings. This was completely outside of the museum's stated purpose for existing.

To top things off, visitors couldn't enter the room with the best paintings: you had to stand at a single doorway and look at the entire very large room from there. Paintings were on side walls, some of them 30 feet away, so you could look at a raking angle of perhaps 10 degrees from 30 feet.

Shelburne is a neat museum, but it is way up in the NW corner of Vermont and it doesn't get enuf ticket revenue (last time I was there a ticket good for two days was around $15) to cover expenses, so they need endowment income, and they didn't have much endowment. The trustees believed they couldn't get sufficient gifts to increase the endowment sufficiently, so they decided to sell off the paintings which had no relation to the museum's purpose. Copies would have been just as good on those walls, and selling them would allow ppl who care about Impressionists to see them.

All hell broke loose in the museum world, mostly charging the trustees with acting unethically. So far as I know, not one of the critics acknowledged that the paintings had no purpose at that museum. Not one of the critics stepped forward with an offer of endowment money. Not one of the critics showed any awareness, much less understanding of the concept of opportunity costs. Mr Kimmelman is apparently one of those quick to criticize and slow to pay the bills.

My recollection is that when Sotheby's team of Impressionist experts went up there for the first time, they were amazed at the paintings: they had no idea such things were on public exhibit and had been for decades, because no one could see the things. People who like Impressionists didn't go to Shelburne, ppl who are interested in rural New England do. Anyway, the sale finally went thru, Shelburne's money problems were considerably relieved, paintings were placed where those who love them can see them, and fortunately the Kimmelmans of the world huffed and puffed to no avail.

Still, Mr. Kimmelman wants now to hobble libraries and every other institution which sells off "any art." Every $500 painting? Every broken piece of crockery? Such institutions exist for public benefit, that's why they get tax exemptions. They have boards of trustees who are responsible for there well-being. Let those boards act.

"Any art"? Join the real world, Mr. Kimmelman.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Responsibility, and who has it:

The creators of an erroneous report which provoked religious fanatics to kill, or those who think extreme disrespect for their religion deserves death? Or perhaps the religious leaders who promote such violent beliefs?
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan's government said Tuesday that Newsweek should be held responsible for damages caused by deadly anti-American demonstrations after the magazine alleged U.S. desecration of the Quran...

Pakistan joined the international criticism of the magazine's article and said Newsweek's apology and retraction were "not enough."

The article, published in Newsweek's May 9 edition, said U.S. investigators found evidence that interrogators at the military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ...flushed one (Koran) down the toilet to try to get inmates to talk....

Afghan presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin said Newsweek's retraction Monday was a "positive step" toward clearing up concern about the report.

"But at the same time, we feel angered at the way this story has been handled," Ludin told a news conference Tuesday. "It's only fair to say at this stage that Newsweek can be held responsible for the damages caused by their story."
I'm not sure there is a libertarian position on this, other than, perhaps, that ppl should be responsible for the consequences of their actions. So, Newsweek, or rioters they provoked? I opt with the rioters, but is this the only reasonable libertarian position?

I remember that when I was in Afghanistan in either 1975 or 1977 (I forget which) I met a European couple who were holed up in Kabul waiting for several hundred dollars to arrive so that they could pay a blood price for having run over and killed a guy with their van. As they told the story, they were driving along when a fellow ran out from between two parked trucks and they hit and killed him. They had no chance to see him or avoid him, but the court held that if they had not been driving a motor vehicle, they could not have killed him, therefore the death was their responsibility.

This reminds me of...I think it is Joseph Kessel's book The Horseman, in which the Afghan owner of a major horse is left for dead by his assistant, after the owner verbally gives the horse to him if the owner dies- then has a terrible accident and assistant flees. The elders who tried the assistant held that the owner had imposed such a terrible temptation on the guy that his abandonment was his own responsibility, so they found the assistant not guilty.

Of course, the remarks by the Afghan & Pakistani gov't spokesmen were likely provoked by US Gov't pressure, so who is responsible for those? Bin Laden, because w/o his actions George Bush wouldn't know where Afghanistan is?

The things people sue over

Warning! Warning! Sexually explicit court decision ahead! Eugene Volokh has the story. It happened in Massachusetts, and it has a sad beginning. Reasonable ending tho.


Andrew McCarthy :
"Minor indignities? How can you say something so callous about a desecration of the Holy Koran?" I say it as a member of the real world, not the world of prissy affectation. I don't know about you, but I inhabit a place where crucifixes immersed in urine and Madonna replicas composed of feces are occasions for government funding, not murderous uprisings...

I inhabit a world in which my government seeks accommodation with Saudi Arabia and China and Egypt, places where the practice of Christianity results in imprisonment...or worse; in which Jews have been driven from almost every country in the Middle East, and in which the goal of destroying their country, Israel, is viewed by much of the globe as legitimate foreign policy; and in which being a Christian, an animist, or the wrong kind of Muslim in Sudan is grounds for genocide — something the vaunted United Nations seems to regard as more of a spectator sport than a cause of action....

There's a problem here. But it's not insensitivity, and it's not media bias. Those things are condemnable, but manageable. The real problem here is a culture that either cannot or will not rein in a hate ideology that fuels killing. When we go after Newsweek, we're giving it a pass.

Satyr's Lament

Something I wrote sometime back. The following post reminded me of it.

Satyr’s Lament

“It’s been forever since any nymphs hauled me into a mud puddle."

“It was day before yesterday!”

“My point, exactly. And it was a pond, not a proper mud puddle. Lucky there weren’t alligators to snap at the dangly bits.”

“There aren’t any alligators for eight hundred miles.”

“Just as well, too. You shouldn’t go tempting alligators. They don’t know any better. We have to make do with snapping turtles around here, and quite sufficient they are, when one latches on, thinking he’s caught a tender morsel. Especially when he’s right. Just imagine sitting down to have a quiet read and finding a forty pound snapping turtle dragging you by the nether regions into the sewers to share with the Parisian sewer rats.”

“There aren’t any sewer rats in Paris, either.”

“Well, that just goes to show you. They all came over here. Even the sewer rats got tired of the French.”

What Europeans think of the French

The Telegraph reports :
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless"...

For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".

Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".

But the knockout punch to French pride came in the way the poll was conducted. People were not asked what they hated in the French, just what they thought of them.
Jeepers, the poor French. Possibly they should set up a government program to address French self-esteem.

Thanks to The Corner on National Review Online for the lead.

Hmmm...this reminds me of something...see above post.

Of Babies and Navy SEALS

Like many fathers, I find myself gazing at my sons and dreaming about what they will become....

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but sometimes I think I can see in their mannerisms glimpses of their future professions. Take the newest addition to our home, William Isaac, a few months short of a year old. Some of you may scoff, but I think he is destined to be a sniper for the Navy SEALS.
Loving Daddy Tony Woodlief explains.

Tracks in the desert

'Twarn't a 40-mule team which did that .

"Match Point": Woody Allen's best film since Annie Hall?

I hope. He's had some real dogs along the way.

Interesting financing angle :
The movie was shot in England and features, with the exception of Johansson (an American) and Rhys Meyers (who is Irish), an all-British cast and crew because Allen secured British financing, he said, and English tax laws required a high percentage of British participation. Another factor: Too many American studios demand creative participation in his films, whereas BBC Films left him alone.

"I just want the money in a brown paper bag," he quipped.
Desson Thomson has a gossipy column about Cannes Film Festival in the Washington Post.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Does UN corruption NEVER end?

The UN wants to renovate their buildings in NYC, a project which real estate pros say should be cheaper than building anew. John Hinderaker of PowerLine in the Weekly Standard:
If these estimates are correct, only around 1,029,000 square feet will be renovated under the U.N.'s proposal. At a total cost of $1.2 billion, the project would then weigh in at over $1,100 per square foot.

Either of these figures is regarded by local real estate developers as stunning.
The various prominent sources in commercial real estate companies in Manhattan estimated costs could reasonably run from $50/sq foot to $250 /sq foot. Quite a range, but conditions vary.

Then the cute part: Donald Trump has his opinion: He, Donald Trump, mister high end real estate himself, put up a building three times the height for one third the cost of what the UN wants to spend renovate. Senator Jeff Sessions:
When the European asked how these numbers could happen, Mr. Trump said the only way would be because of incompetence, or fraud. That is how strongly he felt about this price tag because he pointed out to me that renovation costs much less than building an entirely new building. So he has a meeting with Mr. Annan, and they have some discussion. And Mr. Trump says these figures can't be acceptable. He told me in my conversation this morning, he said: You can quote me. You can say what I am saying. He said they don't know. The person who had been working on this project for 4 years couldn't answer basic questions about what was involved in renovating a major building. He was not capable nor competent to do the job. He [Trump] went and worked on it, and talked about it, and eventually made an offer. He said he would manage the refurbishment, the renovation, of the United Nations Building, and he would not charge personally for his fee in managing it. He would bring it in at $500 [million], less than half of what they were expecting to spend, and it would be better. . . . Yet he never received a response from the United Nations.
So, now that they can't use Saddam's oil to bribe the Russians and French and British and most importantly themselves, have they found another way to steal truck loads of money?

Does George Bush have the guts to throw these people out of the country? Does he have the guts to refuse to finance this?

Rummage Report

This weekend proved to be quite successful for running a multi-party rummage sale. Nearly everything I wanted to sell dashed out the driveway so fast I likely underpriced it, leaving me with not much more than a bike I put out by the sidewalk (disappeared w/in 15 minutes) and some sweaters and pans which I fobbed off on family.

The weather was mediocre on Saturday, but that was a great improvement over the forecast rain. Sunday there were a few tiny sprinkles, but mostly it was cold and windy and overcast. 40s, in fact, which was not calculated to increase my dread of global warming. In fact, I sometimes think we should require all school kids to hang out the windows of their busses to and from school, spritzing the malevolent environment with chlorofluorocarbons. Days like Sunday make me sure of it.

Remaining dilemma: What to do with all the other stuff which I have no interest in disposing of before heading off to Honolulu in August.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Another grueling day at the rummage sale

In about 20 minutes I'm off to the Fashionable East Side to conclude our group rummage sale. It was picked pretty thoroughly yesterday, but I hope to dispose of a few more things to day.

The weather forecast is for cloudy and 46 degrees, tho it is sunny at the moment. Fingers crossed.

Locusts, bloodsuckers, and European unemployment.

Brian M. Carney , editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe:
In 1965, government spending as a percentage of GDP averaged 28% in Western Europe, just slightly above the U.S. level of 25%. In 2002, U.S. taxes ate 26% of the economy, but in Europe spending had climbed to 42%, a 50% increase. Over the same period, unemployment in Western Europe has risen from less than 3% to 8% today, and to nearly 9% for the 12 countries in the euro zone....

In the U.S. and the U.K., a combination of tax cuts, labor-market reforms and deregulation starting in the 1980s broke the downward spiral in which the Continent still finds itself. In the 1990s, the U.S. added welfare reform to the mix. Unfortunately, the prospects for Europe are not particularly bright right now. German unions--and even some members of the German government--have in recent weeks taken to denouncing American capitalists as "locusts" and "bloodsuckers."
German unionists may well have the correct terms. They are just aiming them in the wrong directions.