Friday, July 30, 2004

Rogue Waves. Great article about rogue waves on the open ocean. Some waves get to 100 feet or more, even when the surrounding wave pattern is much smaller. These things have been known to sink large tanker ships. Hat tip to Winds of Change. Check this out:

The mast at right is 80 feet over the water on a normal day. The article goes on to talk about how scientists are using satalites with Synthetic Apature Radar (SAR) to track rogue waves and see if they can predict them with any certainty.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

North Korea is out of the news right now. That's no big surprise seeing as there is a presidential election going on, but according to Steven den Beste that's pretty typical of foreign policy during times of change, and he makes a prediction:

The original reason the NK's began to kick up a fuss was the hope that they could get a sweet deal in order to shut them up while we were busy in Iraq. This year they're hoping to get bought off before the election. But Bush isn't going to do that.

The NK's hope that if they don't get bought off, they can make themselves an issue in the election campaign and help get Bush defeated. Then, perhaps, a Democratic administration might be more inclined to return to a policy of appeasement. Their potential to affect the campaign is the reason they hope Bush will capitulate and buy them off.

The only way the US can "make progress" in the short term is by making a particularly generous offer, but that isn't going to happen while Bush is president. Absent American capitulation, there will be "progress" only if the NK or the PRC want progress.

Thus nothing important will happen until after this presidential election is settled, one way or the other.

Diplomacy takes a breather, but oppression keeps on truckin'. Please don't forget to write your representative or senator and tell them to lead their chamber in the call to condemn NK for human rights violations.
Bush acting multilateral. The US has promoted their Caspian Guard, consisting of countries around Iran, to fence Iran in like they are doing to N. Korea.
Caspian Guard gives member states access to US training and tactical knowledge and the assurance of friendly relations with the world's sole superpower in exchange for assistance in dealing with some of the axis of evil's charter members.
The article has some links to maps of our new Guard allies. They include Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Or you can go to the CIA Factbook site and look up the countries there to see how they relate spatially to Iran.
Or get an atlas. I would recommend, with all that's happening in the world today, that everyone get an atlas and open it occasionally.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Conservative Pledge? For those of you sickened by the Liberal name calling and refusal to consider that Bush is actually their president here's a thought to consider. Glenn Reynolds links to Dean Esmay who challenges us thusly:

I don't want to hear why you think it won't happen. Indulge me: pretend it might. How many of you will have the patriotism to say, "I disagree with many of his policy directions, I do not think he is conducting our foreign policy in the right way, but I will do my best to get behind him and support him until elections come around next time?"

I'm genuinely curious. For that is the stance I intend to take. I will refuse to call him traitor, loser, liar, incompetent. He will be my President, my Commander In Chief, the Chief Executive of a great nation, elected by the will of a majority of the electors in these 50 great united States. So even if he does things I disagree with in conducting foreign policy, I will say, "I respectfully disagree with the President's directions, but I will do my best to express my dissent respectfully and hope that I am mistaken and that he has made the proper decisions after all."

OK. I can say that. If Kerry happens to beat the odds and wins in November, I promise that I will declare that he would be my Commander in Chief, elected by a majority of the electors. I will refuse to call him a traitor and a loser. I agree with the last sentence in the quoted paragraph above.
I do retain the right to call him a liar and incompetent if I can back it up, though.
Outsourcing Jobs. Daniel Drezner wrote this article for Foreign Affairs, arguing how outsourcing is not a threat, but a natural part of expanding to the global economy, and that fighting it with protectionism (as the Dems are threatening to do) is not a good thing. It's good, but long.

Update: Clay Risen of the New Republic also comments on this (hat tip Instapundit):
"In fact, the greatest threat from outsourcing is that its opponents will use it to force a new wave of protectionism."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Afghanistan is becoming a model of reconstruction and future democracy. Haven't heard? Perhaps you should stop listening to the nightly news and read more Blogs. Elections are coming and high percentages of those polled in Afghanistan feel safer and are hopeful for the future.
Money quote:
"In all, some 3.5 million Afghans have gone home since the UNHCR-organized return movements started in 2002, including more than two million from Pakistan, 900,000 from Iran and more than 440,000 displaced persons, while tens of thousands of other exiles have gone back on their own." This is surely the greatest humanitarian good news story of the last few decades.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Winds of Change has it's Iraq Report up. There's lots to be hopeful about, but lots to shake our heads and wonder about regarding the international community that John Kerry want's us to be more chummy with.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Lake Powell is the body of water held back by Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. There are other lakes named Powell, but this is the largest and most well known. There is a group out there called the Coalition to Rename Lake Powell who wants to rename it to Glen Canyon Reservoir. They state that this is because it isn't really a lake, but a man made reservoir, and that there is another lake in Colorado and people will get confused.
As to the first point, some people are thinking that the real aim of this group is to get the reservoir drained and the dam taken down. Whatever, it certainly is not the only reservoir refered to as a lake; Lake Mead for instance. The second point is also unconvincing. I live here in Oregon where we have about 5 Eagle Creeks. Should we round up all the water bodies in the USA with matching names and rename them? People won't get confused.
The Arizona board of Geographic Names doesn't seem moved either and isn't planning to change anything.
Besides, the lake is named after John Westley Powell, who originally named Glen Canyon in the first place.
Hat tip to the GITC America GIS Monitor newsletter.
Was it God? Here in Oregon there has been a terrible incident where a woman was kidnapped, raped, choked and left for dead naked in the forest. What I haven't heard in the news stories is how she prayed through the whole ordeal and claims that while semi-unconscious, remembers feeling "hands" pick her up and gently set her down near the road where the truck driver found her. You decide, but those of us with faith have a different picture of this whole incident.

Incidently, I got this off a local blog on religion at the Oregonian's web site. There are several local blogs put on by the Oregonian and are worth looking into for a local view of local events. Perhaps this will replace the Oregonian's Metro section the way that regular blogs and Google have rendered the rest of print media (see post below). Maybe not.
Anyway Jim's site also had this post on how he researched whether or not "most" scholars believed that different individuals and groups experienced meeting Christ after his death. Jim didn't believe that, but after reasearching it found that even most Biblical scholars who didn't accept that Christ rose from the dead accept that many people experienced meeting him afterwards.
Mmmmmm. Beer. Tomorrow I'll be sifting through the tents at the annual Oregon Brewer's Festival downtown, so I probably won't get to this site much. My thoughts will be on friends, 100 degree days, and what the subtle difference is between the 7 or so IPAs available for tasting. My wife will be joining me as well for the first time in a long time, so I'm really looking forward to this. Perhaps I'll give a post-festival blog entry on how it all went.
James Lileks is near legend in the Blogosphere for some reason. He is a terrific writer, and he posts to his blog once a day every day. His post is an accumulation of his thought for the day and includes many personal items, like his daughter, whom he refers to as Gnat, endearingly. He also has many deep and interesting thoughts about politics and the blogosphere, which means he gets linked to a lot. Today's was super interesting, as he made a prediction of sorts, or perhaps a comment on where local papers SHOULD be heading, instead of where they currently are.
Here's the section:
A while ago I noted that I had ceased to rely on my paper for international and national news. The web’s competitive advantage is overwhelming. Now I turn straight to the Metro section, because the web can’t yet match the resources and reach of a newspaper. If I were king of the forest, I’d turn the A section into the Metro section. For most papers beside the big swingin’ Johnson dailies, the A section is a lost cause; its lunch has not only been eaten but digested and excreted, and most newspapers think it’s still on the plate with its garnish intact. Newspapers to me no longer look like great sober edifaces inscribing the details of history as the parade clatters past. They just look like group blogs. Without the honest admission of bias. I turn to the daily paper for the stories so elemental that bias has no place - fires, accidents, murders, jabberings of local officials, etc. I say amp up the local coverage, and spare me the edited wire copy about an Israeli incursion into Gaza. For that I'll read the original sources. (After all, I wouldn't trust the Jerusalem Post to accurately cover a double-stabbing in the Minneapolis club district after a rapper was nine hours late taking the stage.) Newspapers have one great strength: proximity. I think they'll realize this eventually. TV covers the world; radio is the new editorial page; the internet is both times ten. The future of newspapers will be intensely local.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Winds of Change has it's East Asia overview. There's a lot here, and getting the gist of most of the stories may involve following the links, so be prepared to spend some time here if you are really interested in what's going on over there. Otherwise you can just browse and follow a link if it looks interesting.
The Map Network is supplying on-line and other maps for the Democratic convention in Boston. Very interresting. You can view them online. Maps of the arena, the general vicinity and Boston as a whole. Interrestingly enough I don't see the protestor's internment area represented on any of these maps. Hmmmm.
Politics in the church. The Republican party has been sending people to churches in many states, including Oregon, to "get out the vote." Critics say that it endangers the church's tax exempt status, stating that it's pretty obvious that they are premoting the GOP and slamming the Dems during these talks.
It sounds to me like the speakers at these events are saying that churches should support voter registration efforts in a non-partisan way, while pointing out the differences in the two parties in a way that show that the GOP is more in line with most of the members of these churches.
But I don't see anything wrong with that. Isn't the NAACP a tax exempt organization? I don't think anyone would bat an eye if a Dem gave a talk to the NAACP and did the exact same thing.
Seems the ACLU is still willing to back conservatives when there is an obvious infringement of their right to protest. The area assigned to protestors at the Democratic Convention in Boston is being described as a "pen" and an "internment camp."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Winds of Change has their Latin American briefing. I'm going to link directly to the briefings when I get to them. They are informative and carry lots of links. In addition to the Latin American, they have an Asia, Africa and war on terror briefing. Enjoy.

Monday, July 19, 2004

This land is... ALL RIGHT. Here is that extremely funny cartoon parody of Bush and Kerry sung to the tune of "This land is your land." I was crying. Must watch, but have a quick connection.
Sensible Gun control. The Armed Liberal has a post citing Matt Yglesias, who is a liberal blogger, on gun control. The armed one said that the post was a "stunningly sensible post."
Matt argues that instead of controlling what guns get banned, we should be controlling who gets the guns.
I would have to agree. I have often felt that I would rather stand in a bus next to a responsible citizen with an M-16 than a convicted felon with a currently legal handgun.
First of all, let me say to all at Blogger, "Wahoooo!"
Thanks for all the really neat formatting tricks they have added.
  • I was considering getting some software for adding blog entries, but now I'm content to sit and see what they come up with next.
Update: It seems we have traded new features for problems in updating. Will be trying to make new posts.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Michael Totten is in Tunisia and blogging his observations about the landscape and the people. It's very interesting and I highly recommend it. Just scroll down, or if you are reading this later in the week here are some permalinks:
His stuff so far: First day. The South. Tunis.
Channel surfing while under the influence. In case you don't listen to any of the national or local conservative talk shows, here's the story about the guy who's license was revoked "for medical reasons related to substance abuse."
There is a state law in Pennsylvania and 6 other states, including Oregon where I live, that requires doctors to report physical or mental impairments that could prevent safe driving.
Put aside the issue of doctor patient confidentiality just being thrown out the window here, and think about how laws made by concerned legislatures get on the books without much thought to unintended consequences.
You mean all it takes to get someone's license revoked is some doctor calling up the DMV? There's no formal review?
Seems to me that alcohol abuse is bad for the guy, but it's not a permanent, chronic, or even a temporary "condition" of this guy, I'm sure he drives fine when he's not drinking.
Gay Marriage not voted on. I saw yesterday that the Senate decided not to vote or hold any debate whatsoever on the Amendment to define marriage. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The liberal and libertarian pundits are happy and declaring that it will hurt the conservatives in congress, but I wonder if they decided not to vote on it because an actual defeat by vote would have been worse.
I agree with the President that the judicial decisions leading up to this moment have been over-reaching, but this statement from the San Jose Mercury News I also see as true:
But the Republican decision to focus on gay marriage could harm the party with moderate voters this November and put some moderate GOP lawmakers in an awkward situation, said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern California.

I would note that 6 republicans crossed the line to vote this down at this point, and I wonder if not having the debate at all will be better for the Bush administration leading up to the election.
Instapundit has been on a roll about a few issues that I have been watching. His coverage has been non stop and thorough, so instead of laboring on myself you can just go to his site. Here are the issues.
Sudan genocide. Seems some democrat legislatures are staging civil disobedience protests, the old fashion kind, at the Sudanese embassy. They are having themselves arrested publicly as a part of the protest.
Also - the senate is going to propose a bill condemning the Sudanese government for not acting and requesting international intervention. It's truly bi-partisan. Everyone is behind this thing. Finally something we can all agree on.

Plame/Wilson scandal. Glenn Reynolds is gloating over the fact that Wilson is being discredited, as he predicted this last year. He also notes the irony that Joe Wilson's "Restore Honesty" website is like Milli Vanilli's Grammy award, mostly comical now.
Guess what? The "Restore Honesty" site is owned and paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc.
Very embarrassing.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Teen tracking with GPS. Found this interesting site on the web called Teen arrive Alive (TAA). The point is to use their service you get a cell phone for the kid, get a Nextel cell account, and the GPS location of you child can be downloaded at any time from the internet.
The lower cost option is a decal you get for your car and the cell phone. Instead of GPS the decal has a phone number concerned drivers can call and inform you of how your teen is driving (like "hows my driving? Call...").

Friday, July 02, 2004

US show of force in the Pacific. This is a show all for China's sake. The article says that the US is having a military exercise to determine how fast it could get aircraft carrier strike groups into position in the Pacific. They are estimating 30 days. It's the size of the force that is the impressive thing, 7 carrier strike groups, and China is expected to notice and evaluate the US's resolve in supporting the Taiwanese.
From past deployment patterns, the US usually dispatches one CSG to a trouble spot as a reminder of its presence.
It did so several times in the past when tension was high in the Taiwan Strait.
It sends two to indicate serious concern, as was the case when China test-fired missiles over the strait in 1996.
In a combat situation, it deploys three to four, which was what it did in the Gulf War in the early 1990s and the recent Iraqi war.
But never before has it sent in peace time seven CSGs to the same theatre.
The implications for China are grave.

Yes indeedy they are. China's navy would last about as long as it takes to bake an American Apple Pie against a force like that. Muchos Gracias to Instapundit for the link.
Country of the week.

Sudan is a country not getting enough notice these days, although the American press is now slowly waking up to the humanitarian crisis going on there. This country should be interesting to us on many fronts.

On the forefront, the government based in Khartoum is performing what some are calling ethnic cleansing of the residents of the Durfur area in western Sudan.

Second, that Scud missiles were discovered there belonging to the Syrians and Khartoum, fearing US attention, ordered Syria to take them back. I would like to say that I found links to stories about that, because I did, but I can’t find them now. The press is curiously quiet about it.

I’ll get to all that later. First a brief history. The area of Sudan has been inhabited for over 60,000 years, and studies have shown that contact and inter breeding occurred with the Egyptians all along this timeline. Trade with Egypt seems a given considering the opportunities for transport the Nile river offers.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa, situated on the south border of Egypt, north of Uganda, with Ethiopia and Chad on either side. The north is arid, except for the Nile valley, the West and Northeast, along the coast of the Red sea, is mountainous. The south is dry, but swampy, and area called the Sudd. The White Nile and the Blue Nile come together here in a vast flat expanse.
In the 6th century, the Byzantines began to introduce Christianity to the early Nubian kings of the south. Legend puts this around 540 AD. The Nubian Christian kingdoms lasted until the 9th and 10th centuries.
Arab pressure caused the nations to become one, called Dunqulah, but the Arabs found that reducing the Nubian culture by force was a losing prospect. But the Arab north cut off the Nubians from the Coptics in Egypt and therefore Southern Sudan was cut off from the rest of the Christian world.
The Nubian culture continued to decline until the coming of the Ottoman empire. The Ottomans didn’t micro-manage that part of the empire, holding only seaports for the most part, and ruled the interior with military leaders who ruled the interior in autonomous fifes, and were only concerned with taxes, slave trades, and terrorizing the population as well as fighting amongst themselves.
After the rule of Muhammad Ali (not the boxer), who was a strong Ottoman ruler, European pressure to end the slave trade came down on the region, until the British came in and under Charles George Gordon eradicated the slave trade.
The British control of this region continued until after WWII. During that time it was thought that the south of Sudan could not exist economically on it’s own, so it was administered with the north. Up to the point of independence, the British withdrew troops and support from the south, which made the south nervous, as they already felt oppressed by the more Arabic north.
The North-South civil war has its roots in the 1950s (earlier if you consider the early Christians and the Muslim invasions). Southern freedom fighters, supported from outside the country (the north was supported by Egypt and the USSR as well) fought a stubborn battle, but hundreds of thousands were killed by the late 60s. An agreement was reached with the help of Ethiopia in the early 70s, but Nimeiri, the Sudanese dictator, lost touch with his population and let things degrade back into civil war by the end of the 1980s.
During the 80s, Sadiq al Mahdi, who was the leader of the Umma party, won control of the country through elections, but in the ensuing years was never able to put together a government that the people would accept, and also was unable to stop the conflict with the south. In 1989 Colonel Umar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir overthrew Sadiq and has been the leader of Sudan ever since.
The government of Sudan has a constitution and a representative type government in theory, with Bashir as president and prime minister, and also a National Assembly and a Supreme Court. The President is theoretically elected by popular vote, but most people are skeptical that the last few elections have been fair. The Assembly is also mostly elected by popular vote, but 90 of them are elected by a group of special interests. The government does not represent the interests of the south, as many in the south boycott the elective process anyway, and control over the electoral process is in the north.
Recently, the civil war with southern Sudan has given way to an effort by extremists, not opposed by the government, to eradicate the residents of the Durfur area. The culture of Durfur is Islamic, but also non-Arabic and the Islam they practice is not the same, exactly, as the more Arabic population of the rest of the country.
Indeed this country is so divided culturally, religiously and ethnically that it would be a wonder if Sudan could ever remain one country and still live in peace.

Check out the Darfur Information Center.
Also this site is regularly updatd with happenings in Darfur.
This is a good comprehensive, but not too long, history of Sudan.
Powell was recently in Sudan viewing refugee camps.
This is a speech by him regarding that.
Also this.
The UN and Kofi Annan are finally hearing about this. Will he do anything constructive?
The government continues to deny that there is a crisis.
Rebels say they will not attend peace talks until the attackers (read government) stops attacking them.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

French wine on the decline. The posting tells of the decline of French wine on the American market. It's an interesting phenomenon, but the article is lacking. The article reflects that these are the reasons for the decline:
Sales of French wine has been held back by confusion over the type of wine being sold, perceptions that the wine is over-priced, and an inability to distinguish between the hundreds of different brands on the market, said panelists during a seminar at Vinexpo Americas 2004, a wine trade fair being held in Chicago.

Also the article goes on to say that the Euro is performing poorly against the dollar and that is why the wine is being out sold by cheaper brands.
Now, I'll admit that buying French wine is more complicated that buying wine from other regions. I'll agree with this statement from the article:
"For the average consumer, the Appellation d'Origine Controllee doesn't mean a thing," Parker said.
"At the supermarket level, American consumers buy by grape varietals."

It's easier to identify a Pinot Noir from Oregon than a Burgundy red, which is the same thing.
But there are some other reasons the article ignores, perhaps on purpose. One is what Steven den Beste points out
The article doesn't contain any acknowledgement that some of the decline might be due to political backlash by ordinary Americans. It is apparently inconceivable that some American wine-drinkers might be consciously boycotting French wine because of France's foreign policy.

His readers apparently agree with him on that point, but also that while forsaking what they are calling "Surrender Juice" they have discovered something else: that other regions make just as good wine for much better prices.
Frankly I would agree. The burgundy made in France may be more refined they say, but I like the taste of the Pinot Noir here in Oregon much better. I've found that Washington, and for that matter Australia, makes Chardonnay much more to my taste than even California, much less France.
But the French would do well to open their eyes and admit that their politics have been detrimental to their economy. They don't have to give in to the nasty Capitalists pig dogs over here, but they should at least face facts.