Saturday, June 03, 2006

I had something I thought real interesting to post,

but right now I can't remember what the hell it was. Three hours sleep in the last, uh, 32 does that to me.

Right now I've got about an hour to clean up and do a couple of things around the yard before I go to bed and get up at midnight to pull another 12-hour shift; two people called in sick yesterday, so... If I'm lucky, I'll remember whatever it was I was going to write about and I'll write it down so I don't forget it.

By the way, that Indian restaurant, 50th & May? Kha Zana.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Reason Number , I forget, Why The UN Sucks


In this case it's not the corruption, the child molesters, the pimps and so forth. Oh, no, the same assholes that sat on their hands during Rwanda, who're sitting on their hands in Darfur, who always whine to us for money and power, are having their newest gun-ban conference on July 4. On U.S. soil.

I'm sure most of you can already recite the many reasons why we should tell the U.N. to get its collective corrupt ass off of our soil, preferably yesterday. The nice gentleman at The Conservative Voice has this address for Kofi Annan:
The Honorable Kofi Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations
UN Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

Although I would get a palsy and choke trying to write 'The Honorable' in front of his name. It couldn't hurt to write, though I doubt it'll do any good; Annan is one of the nanny-statists who thinks we just don't know what's really good for us. At The High Road, I also found this site which has an address for the chairman of the current gun-ban conference. I'm afraid he's probably in the same mindset as Annan. What might be better would be to write here:
The Honorable John Bolton
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
799 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017

John Bolton is OUR ambassador to the U.N., and (happily) has shown little hesitation at telling them- in proper diplomatic language, of course- to kiss our collective ass. Couldn't hurt to remind him of what we think of these clowns coming onto OUR soil and trying to screw with OUR Constitution to suit them.

And it goes without saying, write your congresscritter.

And as a guy at High Road says, "Buy guns. Buy ammo. Train."

Book Review

1491, by Charles C. Mann

The subtitle is 'New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus', which covers it. Lots of information I'd never seen before; some fairly newly discovered, some old but either ignored or covered over in the past.

Short version,
1. The populations of the various tribes and nations were a lot higher than previously accepted,
2. They messed with arranging the land a lot more than some thought possible and some(read 'enviroweenies') want to believe/admit,
3. They were a lot more advanced in some ways that previously known/accepted; in modifying territory to suit them, in textiles and pottery among others.

It covers too much to try and excerpt the whole thing, I'd leave too much out. I will cover some things, though. Such as:

1. The fact that Indian populations were hammered incredibly hard by diseases brought over by Europeans has been known; generally I don't think the full extent over all the Americas was realized. In some areas they're looking at death rates, from disease and follow-on problems, of as much as 90%. So high not just because of no acquired immunity by the people hit, but by a recently discovered immune system liability. Human Leukocyte Antigens are a big part of the immune system, allowing cells to 'recognize' an intruder and take action. Believed to be because they developed from a relatively restricted gene pool, Indians studied show a much lower number of types, no more than about 17 main classes compared to European populations having at least thirty-five main classes. So not only did they not have any previous immunity to the diseases, their systems were not as able to recognize and fight a new disease organism(no, this is not an in-depth analysis, I'm skimming it).

2. In the case of the Spanish in particular, one of the biggest problems was pigs. Their expeditions took them along not only on shipboard, but on land expeditions as walking meat supplies. And what's the species we still have lots of problems with because diseases often go from animal/bird, through this species, to us? Pigs. So while in the original situation a disease might have burned through the expedition and them been noninfectious when they came in contact with a new people, the pigs may still have been carrying it in infectious form. And some went wild, adding both a new species and new disease organisms to the environment.
As a side note, apparently zoonotic diseases were fairly rare in the Americas, the Indians having few domesticated animals. Mann brings up the scary thought, what if they had been more common in the Americas? The Indians would have had a somewhat better immune system, probably, and a much wider range of infectious diseases, which the Europeans would have been exposed to and taken back to Europe. What if some of those organisms had hit Europe like smallpox and such hit the Americas?

3. Much of what was written of as 'virgin forest' and such was no such thing; the various tribes and nations had been modifying the earth to suit them for thousands of years. By burning to clear land, by planting crops that suited them, by diverting streams and rivers and so on. To quote: "Planting their orchards for millenia, the first Amazonians slowly transformed large swaths of the river basin into something more pleasing to human beings... In Ka'apor-managed forests, according to Balee's plant inventories, almost half of the ecologically important species are those used by humans for food. In similar forests that have not recently been managed, the figure is only 20 percent. Balee cautiously estimated, in a widely cited article published in 1989, that at least 11.8 percent, about an eighth, of the non-flooded Amazon forest was "anthropogenic"- directly or indirectly created by humans.
Some researchers today regard this figure as conservative. "I basically think it's all human created" Clement told me. (page 305)

Lots of information, well worth reading. He also notes that the laws and attitudes of the tribes had a definate effect on the settlers, especially in North America, quoting many comments of admiration by our founders. And I'll throw in a couple of things he notes from, let's say, 'less impressed' sorts:
"The savage does not know what it is to obey," complained the French explorer Nicolas Perrot in the 1670's. Indians "think every one ought to be left to his own Opinion, without being thwarted," the Jesuit Louis Hennepin wrote twenty year later.
"There is nothing so difficult to control as the tribes of America," another Jesuit unhappily observed. "All the barbarians have the law of wild asses- they are born, live and die in a liberty without restrain; they do not know what is meant by bridle and bit."(page 334)

Ah, America; the natives have been pissing off the French from the very beginning.

This Just In: Food Police Screw It Up

As if that's a surprise

Over at Instapundit found this link to a story- at the New York Times of all places- stating "Well-Intentioned Food Police May Create Havoc With Childeren's Diets". Besides listing a lot of the crap thrown out at 'fact' and the results thereof, it takes note of the other crap coming in as part of this mess: "Like the policies put in place by school systems around the country, this one was driven by anxiety — about food quantity, quality and safety — and by the ever-increasing pressure for children to look a certain way and to weigh a certain amount."

She points out that there are kids allergic to dairy and other stuff, but it's only peanut butter that gets banned, and this:
"I fear there's something else at work — a fear borne out by a flier my fifth grader brought home saying that at the monthly pizza hot lunch, no child would be allowed to buy a second slice of pizza. The district says the new ruling is to avoid bad feelings caused by "inequities": if everyone can't have extra helpings, no one can."

So it's school as 'Equality Police', too, surprise surprise. And she notes the nanny-state BS of the BMI squirrels:
"A look at what's happening on the state level confirms this. In Arkansas, for instance, children's report cards now include their B.M.I., or body mass index, along with their grades. The governor, Mike Huckabee recently lost more than 100 pounds and is passionate about stopping the "obesity epidemic." Maryland is considering a similar standard.

Never mind that B.M.I. is only a measure of height against weight and does not take into account muscle mass, body type or other factors. (Tom Cruise has a B.M.I. of 31, which puts him in the "obese" category.)"

You ought to read it, it's worth the time.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Peace weenies

were out in force the other day. Not much force, but some. Bunch of empty boots lined up along the curb and the signs you'd expect: End Bush's Illegal and Immoral War, America Deserves Better, etc., and of course the dove banner and a 'Honk for Peace' sign.

Makes we wish I had a BIG damn set of speakers to put in the back of the truck. Pull up next to them and play March of Cambreadth at roughly 747 takeoff volume.

You've never HEARD the March? What kind of commie are you? Go here, slide down to the Midsummer album and you can play it.

Lawrence of Arabia

The movie with Peter O'Toole as Lawrence. Borrowed it from the library a while back, and I was thinking about it earlier, one scene in particular. Lawrence and a group from Prince Feisal's tribe are going to attack a Turkish outpost and wind up invited to spend the night and dine with Auda abu Tayi.

They've just finished eating and are discussing what Lawrece's group are planning, and maneuvering to get Auda to help, Lawrence says that Auda serves the Turks, who pay him to leave them alone, because 'the servant takes money'. From there, as I recall, Auda is enraged. He jumps to his feet and, half-crouched with one fist clenched says "I am Auda abu Tayi!" Turns to his closest tribesmen, "Does Auda serve?" They all cry no and he turns to the rest of the men outside, yells "Does Auda abu Tayi serve?" and all cry no. Then he turns to Lawrence and says:
"I bear twenty-three great wounds on my body, all got in battle. Seventy-five men have I slain with my own hands, all in battle. I kill my enemies, burn their tents and scatter their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden ransom every month and yet I am poor. For I am a river to my people", this last to great cheering from his tribe.

It's a beautiful scene, to my mind possibly the best in the movie. Auda is absolutely enraged at the idea that he might serve anyone short of God; he is the tribes' head, and to him there is no one above him but God.

If you've never seen the movie, you should.