Archive for August 2007

New Orleans Compassion Fatigue

Houston Family Pays for Sanctuary City Policies in Fiery Wreck

Houston mayor Bill White bristles at the labeling of his city as ‘Sanctuary City’ – one that does not enforce federal immigration law at the local level. In 2006 the mayor said, ‘’‘Houston is not a sanctuary city. The biggest concern on something like this is somebody trying to confuse the voters.’ Nevertheless, since 1992 the Houston Police have followed a directive forbidding them from determining the immigration status of those they question or arrest. Even the Congressional Research Service lists the city formally as a ‘sanctuary city’ in its report, ‘CRS Report for Congress, Enforcing Immigration Law: The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement.’

For a young family of three in Houston, it’s an issue of semantics that no longer matters. On August 14, 2007 Juan Felix Salinas, 42, from Nuevo Leon, Mexico, was charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter in the deaths of Tenisha Williams, 26; her husband, S.J. Williams; and her son, Xavier Brown, 2. According to Houston Police, Salinas was speeding on Interstate 10 before he slammed into the back of the Williams’s vehicle. It burst into flame as bystanders tried unsuccessfully to free the trapped family. Salina’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

This isn’t the first time Houston has had trouble with its controversial policy. In January 2003 an illegal immigrant driving a trash truck ran over a six year old boy. He got out of the truck, pulled the boy out from under it, and then drove away. He later fled to Mexico where he remains at large. The year before Walter Alexander Sorto, an illegal from El Salvador abducted, raped and murdered two Houston women. Sorto had been picked up by police numerous times for traffic violations, and was on probation for robbery at the time of the murders. In October 2006 illegal immigrant Juan Quintero allegedly shot and killed Houston police officer Rodney Johnson.

While it is true that illegal immigrants are responsible for a lower proportion of murders than the general population, this fact obscures the even greater truth: all of these crimes were completely preventable had federal law been abided to at the local level as is mandated by the US Constitution. Had federal immigration authorities been alerted after Salinas’s first brush with the law, the Williams’s would still be alive. Had Sorto been deported or at the very least barred from probation due to the greater likelihood that his immigration status made him a flight risk, Maria Moreno Rangel and Roxana Aracelie Capulin would still be alive.

The names of the victims of these men belie yet another truth: this is not a racial issue but a legal one. The Williams’s were African-American, as was Officer Rodney Johnson and the three college students executed and a fourth left to die in a Newark schoolyard by Jose Carranza on August 4th. All of Sorto’s victims were Hispanic as was the six year old run over by a garbage truck.

Civic leaders have consciously adopted policies that extend protection to non-citizens in direct conflict with state and federal law. They have done this to curry favor with interest groups and business organizations that rely upon a flow of illegal immigrants for support and as a pool of cheap labor.

According to the Ohio Jobs Justice PAC (OJJPAC) which tracks them, there are currently 125 cities having sanctuary policies from Anchorage Alaska to Miami Florida. It is time that these leaders of these cities are held accountable for these policies. While the federal and state governments should do everything necessary to force these cities to abide by state and federal laws as mandated by the Constitution, it is ultimately left to the citizens of these cities to hold their leaders accountable for their decisions.

After all they are the ones who are paying for these naive and misguided policies with their lives.


Is Newark’s ‘Sanctuary City’ Policy Partly To Blame For Student Massacre?

The murder of three college students in Newark New Jersey Saturday August 4th proves that even in a society that has witnessed horrific acts of violence in its relatively brief history, we haven’t lost the capacity for being shocked. As the perpetrators are rounded up, the alleged ringleader appears to be Jose Carranza, aka Jose La Chira.

Carranza is an illegal immigrant from Peru who has been in trouble with the law in Newark before. He was indicted by grand juries in New Jersey twice this year — in April on aggravated assault and weapons charges; and in July on 31 counts which included aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old and endangering the welfare of a child he had a duty to supervise.

In both incidents, Carranza was granted and posted bail – a rarity according to Alan L. Zegas, a noted New Jersey defense lawyer.

‘The level of risk of flight increases exponentially when a person is not a citizen of this country and has few, if any, roots here,’ Zegas said in an interview with Fox News.

After being granted bail, Carranza is alleged to have threatened the life of the five year old girl he raped as well as her parents. These threats did not result in his bail being revoked, nor was any efforts made into determining his immigration status as he awaited trial. Even now after his arrest in the triple homicide, the authorities involved in the case are playing down this aspect of the case. Thomas McTigue, assistant prosecutor handling the murder cases stated, ‘Our focus hasn’t been his immigration status.’

Perhaps the reason the Newark prosecutors focus was not on his immigration status was the fact Newark is a ‘Sanctuary City’ – where local officials do not enforce immigration laws. Newark New Jersey adopted ‘Sanctuary City’ policies earlier this year – prior to Carranza’s alleged crimes.

What exactly do these ‘Sanctuary City’ policies do? In a March 1, 2007 story by the north New Jersey newspaper, The Record, Paterson Councilman-at-large Rigo Rodriguez said, ‘The residents of this city must be able to go to the supermarket, ride in a car, walk down our streets, without fear that they will be arrested and not be able to go home that night,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Immigration officials need to deal with illegal immigrants at the border. Their failure to control that is why they end up in our cities.

‘Once they’re here, it shouldn’t be our job to deal with their immigration status,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Once they’re here, they’re members of our community and our role is to make them feel safe and comfortable here. They simply shouldn’t be harassed.’

In essence proponents of these policies like Councilman Rodriguez call for granting the same Fourth Amendment rights, ‘to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,’ to illegal immigrants as to citizens. Cities such as Newark New Jersey then become ‘safe zones’ where illegal immigrants can enjoy the benefits of US citizenship without bearing its costs or shouldering its responsibilities.
Was Carranza granted special treatment because the authorities believed he was an illegal immigrant? Was the Newark prosecution or the judge on his prior cases afraid to consider Carranza’s immigration status when granting bail for fear of causing a firestorm of controversy in the large Latino community?

And finally, how did an illegal immigrant from Peru have the money to post $200,000 worth of bond? Even at 10% someone would have had to come up with $20,000 – a sum that an illegal immigrant would be unlikely to have.

Three young American students are dead and another grievously wounded at the hands of a murderer and his motley crew. While ultimate responsibility lies with the killers, there can be no doubt that Newark’s justice system failed those kids that Saturday night in that New Jersey schoolyard.



LOLCON Karl Rove

Just had to jump in.

Michael Vick Apology – Sorry Mike, Not Good Enough

First off, his demeanor seemed contrite. For the most part he spoke in the “active tense” and avoided the non-apology of we’ve heard so often “to those who were hurt by my actions, I apologize” vs the active voice “I apologize to those hurt by my actions,” (weak) or even better, “I apologize to those I’ve hurt.” He did have a tendency to speak about himself in the third person, which really, really annoys me.

Still, the only way he will ever get beyond this is to speak openly and bluntly about his actions. I think his attorneys are still controlling what he says, to help influence the sentencing in December and the pending state charges he’s facing.

The “court of public opinion” is in a sense even more demanding than federal and state criminal courts. What he said at today’s news conference didn’t go far enough.

Michael Vick: What I did was very immature, so that means I need to grow up.
I don’t see the connection. In my more immature moments I watch cartoons, I don’t fight dogs.

MV: I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m totally responsible – and those things didn’t have to happen.
Notice the disconnect between his responsibility and his actions the “things” that “didn’t have to happen.” These dogfights didn’t occur spontaneously without his effort. This is the mindset of typical criminals – who separate themselves from their heinous actions so that they can live with them.

MV: I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions.
There’s that separation again. It’s semantic, but any psychologist would jot it down on his notepad.

MV:Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I do reject it. Through this situation I’ve found Jesus…
I’m sure you reject dogfighting now because doing it is sending you to the slammer and possibly ending your lucrative football career. As for Jesus, I personally hope that He’s busy helping the truly contrite.

MV:I accept the responsibility for my actions and what I did, and now I have to accept the consequences.
But what were those actions? What did you do? We’re still not clear about this – and your newsconference didn’t help.

MV:I will redeem myself.
Mike, I don’t care if you redeem yourself or not. The ball is in your court now to rebuild your fan’s trust and faith in you.

From my perspective as an animal owner and football fan, I doubt I can ever watch you play without remembering what you did to those dogs. Those hands that grip the football also gripped a dog’s neck as you squeezed the life out of it. When I see you spike a football to run out the clock, I’ll remember you smashing a dog’s brains out on the concrete floor.

You had it all. You realized your dream – unlike most of us. You had wealth, fame and talent in measures that few of us will ever achieve. But deep down you were simply a thug who got your jollies by causing pain and suffering.

I’m no saint, Michael. I’ve done stupid things in my life just like anyone. But I’ve never done anything as bad as what you’ve done. My parents raised me to avoid doing those things – killing for sport and torturing for kicks. I’m no sadist, and seeing a sadist stand there as the camera shutters whirr away really pisses me off.

I hope you turn life around, Mike, but if you don’t I won’t lose any sleep. You can then rot the rest of your life having tasted success while knowing you will never, ever taste it again.

Thoughts on the Berlin Wall

I recently visited an office building that had a 3×4 foot section of the Berlin Wall. It’s been almost 20 years since that thing fell, and I still remember it clearly – how the Czechs opened their borders, and the East Germans began fleeing across there. How Kissinger and the punditocracy of the time predicted the Wall would last another three years – and it fell in 3 months. 1989 remains a seminal year in world history, and I am pleased to have been around to witness it.

Berlin Wall piece

I was surprised at how thin the wall section was – about 3 or 4 inches. One side was spray painted, the other was clean. What I found particularly interesting was that on the clean side – the East German one – the rebar poked through the concrete and was rusted. In fact the rebar itself was a thin wire fence-like mesh that ran very unevenly through the slab – from just behind the West German side to poking through on the East. It was surprisingly poorly centered and no doubt significantly weakened the structure. My guess was that the “business end” of the wall was the minefield and guard posts behind the clean side.

The Wall had lasted just shy of 40 years. During it’s lifetime, 1,245 people died trying to get through it. It’s purpose no longer exists, and now a chunk of it sits in an office building on the other side of the world. While I was there it held up a janitor’s broom and dust bucket that were propped against it.

In 1986 PJ O’Rourke noted about Communists and concrete…

Commies love concrete, but they don’t know how to make it. Concrete is a mixture of cement, gravel and straw? No? Gravel, water and wood pulp? Water, potatoes and lard? The concrete runway at Warsaw’s Miedzynarodowy airport is coming to pieces. From bumpy landing until bumpy take-off, you spend your time in Poland looking at bad concrete.

The Wall was made of pretty bad concrete. The Romans used it 2000 years ago and theirs is still around. If the wall hadn’t come down in 1989, my guess is that it would have crumbled by now.

More on Alternative Energy

From Greenhouse gases we sigue into solar power. From Solar power we sigue into alternative power sources, and from there we end up back at one of my all time favorite writers ever, Steven Den Beste. Den Beste discusses conservation and alternative energy sources here , here and here.

On Conservation:

Conservation is much overblown as a solution to the problem. For one thing, percentages don’t add up. That’s not how percentages work. If we save 2% on each form of energy usage we have, then the overall savings is 2%, and that won’t be enough.

This particular comment has stayed with me for the past five years:

But I have to disagree with the basic assumption that we actually could significantly reduce our energy usage through increases of efficiency if we just did enough research into it. What you have to understand is that for the last forty years we’ve already been increasing the efficiency of our physical plant, and in a lot of places we’re getting near the point of diminishing returns. We’ve already increased the use of insulation in our homes. Our cars and refrigerators are already a lot more efficient than they used to be. It’s not like conservation is a new idea; it’s been a policy of this nation since the oil crisis in the 1970’s. And we’ve already collected all the low hanging fruit, and a lot of the rest, too. (emph add)

On electric cars:

Most of the electric cars around now use lead-acid batteries for storage. You plug your car into the wall at night and charge up your batteries, and then discharge them again while driving. Charging batteries is extremely inefficient; electricity is used to create a chemical potential in the battery, but most of the electricity is converted to heat. And when the battery discharges again, a lot of the energy stored in it also heats the battery.

If the original electricity was created by burning coal, then what this means is that a lot more CO2 is released per passenger mile by the battery-based electric car than by a gasoline car. You need to generate the energy actually consumed to move the vehicle, but also all the energy which was wasted in transmission and in charging and discharging the batteries, which means you need to burn more carbon at the power plant than a car would have needed.

On solar power being used to split hydrogen:

But here’s my best shot at one. Individual vehicles use hydrogen in fuel cells to create electricity which powers motors on the wheels. The hydrogen is shipped around in bulk, and you refuel your car with hydrogen at service stations, just as you buy gasoline now. The hydrogen is produced by large solar plants built in the desert, which use mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a central generation plant which disassociates water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is captured and sold (it’s commercially valuable) and the hydrogen becomes the basis for the new fuel industry…

In 1998, the State of California consumed 13.496 billion gallons of gasoline. A gallon of gasoline yields about 130 million joules. So when you do all the math, you end up with about 1.755 * 1018 joules, which is an impressively large number.

One anti-solar-power advocacy site gives the “yearly average” solar power density in Albuquerque as 240 watts per m2. (That appears to be a 24-hour average; another site says that it’s 700 watts in daylight.) Then presuming that southern California is similar, each square meter of mirrors would be struck by 7.573 billion joules per year.

So if you assume 100% conversion, you’d need 231.7 million square meters of collection mirrors to make this work. 231 square kilometers.

But it isn’t going to be 100% efficient. That’s impossible, and it isn’t going to be remotely close to that. The mirrors won’t reflect perfectly and some of the sunlight will heat the metal instead of reflecting. The conversion process into hydrogen will be extremely inefficient. If you get 10%, you’ll be doing really well.

So we’re talking about paving 2300 square kilometers of California desert with mirrors. That’s a strip 13 kilometers wide stretching from San Diego to Los Angeles. It’s an area twice the size of San Francisco.

That’s a hell of a lot of metal! It ain’t gonna be cheap. The capital expense involved would be mammoth. Just clearing an area that large would cost a fortune; paving it with manufactured goods will cost a fortune. And something that big would take decades to build.

Figure each mirror at 10 square meters, and you’re talking about 23 million motor mounts. If you figure an average 5 year lifespan, then you’re going to replace more than 4 million of them per year.

That assumes conversion of the entire fleet. What about running it in parallel, to offset gasoline usage? There you run into other kinds of economic issues having to do with distribution. There needs to be a substantial level of usage of this in order for it to be commercially viable to create the distribution infrastructure. You’ve got tens of thousands of service stations which would have to install new facilities to refuel hydrogen cars in addition to gasoline and diesel. They won’t make that investment unless there are a lot of cars out there.

Conservatively, you have to assume at least 10% of the fleet converting over to make this work at all and be anything other than a really expensive toy for environmentalists. 230 square kilometers.

There are a lot of reasons to object to this, but the easiest is this: there’s no way this is going to happen by 2009. You’re talking about an engineering effort which might well take 30 years to even get going.

By the way, forget about photo-voltaics. They are also about 10% efficient, and they’re made of silicon. The idea of paving 2300 square kilometers of desert with solar cells is even more ludicrous; there isn’t any way that industry could approach that kind of volumes anytime soon. (If they’re producing a million square meters, one square kilometer, per year now I’d be very surprised. I bet they aren’t even producing ten thousand square meters.)

And what of the turtles? Just wait for the lawsuits to start.

The idea of writing an environmental impact statement for this boggles the mind. Making what amounts to a substantial lowering of the albedo of an area that large would have weather effects. It would change wind and rainfall patterns for the entire south-west US and large parts of Mexico. Remember, the whole point of this is to capture and move a substantial amount of the sun’s heat which now strikes those areas is released there. They’ll get colder as a result. How much? What other effects would it have? We can’t possibly know; we don’t have the ability to analyze it.

Many people seem to forget that the power one uses at any given time is generated for all intents and purposes at the very same time. Energy can’t be stored on the large scale necessary to power our society in any practical way.
Den Beste on Wind:

It isn’t where we need it, and it isn’t when we need it, and there ain’t enough of it. The power grid has to adjust its energy generation to match consumption, and we can’t turn the wind on when we need more energy. The source is diffuse and it requires a massive investment to make and install all the windmills. There are not all that many appropriate sites where the wind is regularly strong and a lot of the places where that’s true (e.g. the Columbia River Gorge) are protected areas. Windmill farms are an eyesore, and they kill a lot of birds. (A lot of birds.) The equipment is large, complicated and will require a lot of repair to keep working; the resulting energy will be inadequate and unreasonably expensive per unit energy yield. And I’m still not convinced that it won’t take years before any given windmill finally yields as much total energy as it took to make it, transport it and install it. Ireland is making a massive investment in wind power, but when they’re finished and have fully deployed all sites it’s only going to generate 520 megawatts, when the wind is blowing. That’s one eighth of the power generated by The Dalles Dam.

Hydrogen (as chemical energy):

The problem here is that hydrogen is a fuel but not an energy source. Gasoline is both. But there’s no substantial natural source of hydrogen which we can tap, so any hydrogen we use can only be created by utilizing energy from some other energy source. Hydrogen is like electricity, a way of moving energy from one place to another. That’s why discussion of conversion from internal combustion engines to fuel cells in vehicles may well be important when you’re concerned about air pollution or changes in industrial policy but isn’t when you’re talking about energy sources…

The biggest problem with hydrogen now as a fuel for vehicles is that it’s really hard to store an adequate number of joules in a small space with hydrogen without liquefying it. The best answer so far seems to be certain metals which spontaneously form hydrides and release the hydrogen equally readily, but the energy density doesn’t appear high enough yet to be practical, and no one will want a vehicle that has to be refueled every fifty miles or less.

Den Beste also discusses a topic I touched on yesterday – scale. The amount of energy the United States consumes at any given moment is staggering. According to Den Beste our electrical power consumption is 400 gigawatts non-peak, 1 terawatts peak. That’s 400 large coal or nuclear power plants nonpeak, 1000 of them peak – and unless you plan to have blackouts at any given time that means for all intents and purposes you are going to need even more of the puppies to account for units being down for maintenance.

If any proposed energy source can’t be scaled up to generate 10 gigawatts average (1% of that), it won’t be large enough to make any significant difference in the grand scheme of things even if it works and is really, really cool and clever and innovative and nifty.

Which is why windmills aren’t interesting, for example. The Irish windmill project will, once completed, utilize every reasonable site in Ireland and will generate 500 megawatts when the wind is blowing. For us to be interested within the context of this discussion, an American windmill effort would need to be at least 20 times larger, and that’s unlikely.

Things like biodiesel, or harvesting wave power with underwater flappers, or big floating devices in the ocean which utilize the temperature difference between the surface and the deep, just aren’t in the ballpark. They can generate energy, but not enough. If biodiesel ever exceeds ten megawatts, I’d be surprised, and that’s three orders of magnitude too small. While these things might well be practical ways to generate small amounts of energy, especially from waste products which are otherwise hard to dispose of, they’re still miniscule overall. (I think what I’m trying to say is, please stop sending me letters suggesting other ways. There are no other ways which can scale large enough to matter.)

Greens want to peg those of us who question their statements as being in the pockets of the coal/oil/nuclear industries. That’s a lot easier than recognizing us for what we are: people looking for practical solutions to problems.

So let’s assume Al Gore is right, Global Warming is happening and we have to do something to control it. Now consider the scope of the problem: 1 terrawatts of electricity plus another 3.3 tw used by transportation AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT IN TIME (these are NOT annual figures).

Given the above constraints (global warming, immense power usage), tell me a practical solution that meets these constraints and does not significantly damage our way of life or our economy.

(hattip: Blogmosis for remembering these posts in one place)

Solar Energy: Not So Clean Afterall

I wrote about Michael Asher at Dean’s World. When I wrote him a bit of fan mail, I asked him about solar and wind power. Here’s the conversation…

> How do solar proponents propose we use solar energy given the fact that
> the earth rotates? It would seem to me that you would need to store the
> energy somehow for use at night, which would mean that you would either
> need huge batteries OR you would need to electrolyze H2O to get
> hydrogen, then store that to burn it at night. Are either methods even
> feasible?

> Just curious.


Energy storage is indeed the achilles heel of
both solar and wind power (winds rarely blow 100% of the time).
Environmentalists get around this in the usual manner, by refusing to get
pinned down on details. They simply make fuzzy claims that these should be
“part of” the overall energy picture—but what’s the other part? Solar and
wind may one day supply a reasonable fraction of residential energy
needs…but they’re almost comically unsuited for heavy industry. That’s
probably why they’re so favored by those who believe “manufactured goods”
should stop at tie-dye shirts and bean sprouts.

As for specific means of energy storage, right now there just isn’t any
practical means, period. Batteries come closest, but battery-arrays able
to thousands of megawatt-hours have never been built. They’re technically
feasible in theory at least, but the cost would be astronomical, the
environmental footprint very large, their safety questionable, and finally,
they’d lose anywhere from 20 to 40% of the power put into them due to
coloumetric charging losses. Hydrogen storage would have a much lower
up-front cost, but generating the gas, compressing it for storage, then
finally oxidizing it can easily mean you’d lose 2/3 of the power thus
generated. When you consider “daytime” solar power is already upwards of
40X more expensive than a well-run nuclear plant, a solar system capable of
providing nighttime power might be 100X or more costly.

Incidently, whenever you read statistics about solar plants, remember a
little ‘numbers game’ is usually played with them. Coal and nuclear power
usually have about a 95% availability factor…meaning a 1000MW nuclear
plant will provide 95% of that much power on a regular basis. But solar
power has closer to a 30% AF, due to cloud cover, the day/night cycle, and
other factors. So when you see a news report that some new solar array is
“capable of powering 5,000 households”, remember to divide by three in your
head….the total power generated is actually much lower.

Best regards,

Mike Asher

PETA & Pit Bulls

I don’t like PETA. I think they are extremists who devalue human life by treating it the same as other animal species. I don’t believe that, just as I don’t believe that chimpanzees are just as valuable as a sea cucumber; they are more valuable. I’m a conservationist along the lines of Theodore Roosevelt – not John Muir and especially not the flakes who belong to PETA.

But I do agree with them on the issue of Pit Bulls and breeding. I like the Staffordshire Terrier aka Pit Bull, but it’s a breed that has been irrevocably altered by humans to emphasize its aggressive nature. I believe that all Pit Bulls are not killers, but I also believe that you can’t trust them. I would never have a Pit with a kid around. In fact I’m not sure I would ever have a Pit at all.

And that brings me back to PETA. PETA thinks the breed should disappear, and I agree with that. I also agree with their position that breeding should not be allowed when millions of dogs and cats need homes and get euthanized every year for want of a home.

All of my dogs and cats are rescues. Over the course of our marriage the Wife and I have rescued over 20 cats and dogs, finding good homes for each and every one. We consider it a moral duty, just as we believe it is our moral duty to help others in need.

So for once I’m going to speak well of PETA. Good job, PETA.

Personality Test

Recently I had to take a personality test after what I thought was a successful job interview that I later learned by the failure of my phone to ring wasn’t as successful as I had thought. So I’ve been curious about these things, and recently found a freebie that’s worth trying.

During the test I was presented with words like “deferant,” “delabate,” and “implective” which according to Merriam-Webster don’t exist as well as scores that do. I then had to rate myself on a scale of 1-5 to decide whether the word applied to me or not.

I received the results and was immediately stunned. The site claims to be based on the scores of 14000 business people, but I couldn’t believe the results applied to me: “You were generally consistent, but you may not have understood the meanings of some of the
words,” – like “deferant,” “delabate,” and “implective” I suppose. “While you can take an independent stand, you may be hesitant to buck popular opinion.”

‘Scuse me? Mr. Question-Global-Warming and Support-the-Iraq-War-at-all-costs? Mr. Get-beat-up-for-listening-to-New-Wave?

“You’re likely to be sensitive to social censure. Consequently, you may not share your opinions and ideas openly.”

That’s me! Mr. Keep-my-opinions-to-myself! Suffer in silence!

There was about two pages of psychobabble that described somebody I didn’t know. If that was me, I was surely in deep trouble and probably would never be hired by anyone who subscribed to these tests.

The testing session was still open, and just out of curiosity I scrolled back to see my answers.

The directions stated “Rate yourself on a scale from 1 (Agree) to 5 (Disagree) being careful to use the middle options only 20% of the time.”

I realized I had misread the directions – giving myself “5” for words that I agreed described me.

No wonder that person didn’t exist: He was the mirror image of me – at least according to this test.

I considered taking the test again but decided it wasn’t worth it. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and don’t need a “free” personality quiz to tell me – especially one that uses words that don’t exist.

Iranian Meddling In Iraq – A Parent’s Fear

My stepson – a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps – will be shipping out of Camp Pendleton much sooner than we thought. It’s a secret where ‘out’ is at this point, but I doubt he’s deploying to the Bahamas. As a consistent supporter of the Global War on Terror, his mother and I are rightfully proud and support his mission whatever it is.

He has a wife and children. In my eyes he is full of untapped potential that the Marine Corps has missed. He is a soldier intellectual without knowing it, an avid historian who remembers long-forgotten wars and draws his own, unique conclusions. He would excel in an academic setting, especially one with a strong military bearing like the Navy Academy or West Point.

He was one of the first Marines into Afghanistan in 2001. He served in East Timor as a peacekeeper. He has been to Iraq and holds his own controversial opinions. He has a sense of duty that I admire, and a sense of humor that I envy. He is strong, self-assured, handsome and brave – all the things necessary to make women swoon and men follow him without hesitation into battle. If your son is a Marine, my stepson is the man you want leading him.

When discussing death he is nonchalant, stating simply that he wishes to be buried in Arlington so that his service to our nation isn’t forgotten. He reminds us that he has willfully chosen this path, and that he did not join the Corps for its safety and security. He’s also looking forward to going.

Hearing him talk so casually about his own death frightens his mother and me. However, one of the things that scares me more is a President promising ‘consequences’ to an Iranian regime that supplies munitions to kill American soldiers – and doesn’t deliver on that threat.

According to the New York Times, Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) accounted for a third of the combat deaths suffered by U.S.-led forces last month. This is nothing new. In August 2005 then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed that captured munitions from insurgents came ‘clearly, unambiguously from Iran.’ In March 2006 ABC News reported US military and intelligence sources had caught shipments of EFPs at the Iran-Iraq border.

What has the Bush Administration done? On February 14, 2007 President Bush insisted he was ‘going to do something about’ the Iranian arms flow into Iraq. Soon after he authorized face-to-face negotiations with the Iranians. These negotiations have done nothing to stem the flow of munitions into Iraq from Iran, while at the same time handed the Iranians a propaganda victory by forcing the ‘Great Satan’ to the negotiating table.

Iraq is not Vietnam – contrary to what some believe. However there may be another analogy between the two conflicts that holds. Consider the flow of arms into North Vietnam from the USSR through China during the 1960’s and 1970’s. At the same time the Soviet Union supplied technicians and advisors to North Vietnam, many of whom manned anti-aircraft batteries that shot down American aircraft. How many of those munitions and advisors carved the names of American soldiers into the wall at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC?

What were the consequences for the Chinese and Soviets? Nixon’s visit to Peking in 1972 and ‘detente’ with the Soviets. Republican that I am I never bought the rehabilitation of Nixon and still hold him more responsible for our failure in Vietnam than Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.

Coalition forces have captured members of the Iranian Quds Force in Iraq, something that President Bush acknowledged back in February. The presence of this Iranian Special Ops unit, the use of Iranian munitions, and the recent video captured by US intelligence showing Iraqi insurgents firing Iranian rockets at coalition bases provides overwhelming evidence that the Iranian regime has American blood on its hands.

Will the ‘consequences’ be the same for them as it was the Chinese and Soviets?

It’s one thing to send men like my stepson into battle; it’s another to expose him to danger because our leader lacks the will to take the fight to his true enemy.

And that frightens me more than anything.


Glenn Reynolds Quote on a Bumpersticker

Flowcharts And Software Development

Will make you cry:

My colleague operated a dual coping strategy to deal with this monster: during working hours she wept delicately and persistently; during the lunch break she scanned the job ads. I don’t believe the port was ever completed.

Note the state transitions and UML.

I’ll have to remember this the next time I have to do a functional spec.

Once More Unto the Breach…

As a consistent hawk on the Global War on Terror I have often heard “Well if you’re so gung ho about the war why don’t you go fight it yourself?” The truth be told I have given serious consideration to doing just that several times. Unfortunately each time I come to the conclusion that at my age and with my doughy physique I wouldn’t cut it in the Service. Even the lowliest Marine, the weakest airman, sailor or grunt could easily wipe the floor with me. It’s not something I’m proud of, but Truth trumps Pride – or at least it should at my age.

I’ve also come to realize that there is something much worse than putting yourself in danger: it’s putting a loved one there.

According to his girlfriend, my stepson – a Master Sergeant in the Corps – will be shipping “out” of Pendleton much sooner than we thought. It’s a secret where “out” is at this point, but I doubt he’s deploying to Canada or Japan.

He has a girlfriend and children. In my eyes he is full of untapped potential that the Corps has missed. He is a soldier intellectual without knowing it, an avid historian who remembers long-forgotten wars and draws his own, unique conclusions. He would excel in an academic setting, especially one with a strong military bearing like the Navy Academy or West Point.

He was one of the first Marines into Afghanistan in 2001. He has been to Iraq and holds opinions about the locals that are so politically incorrect that I shudder to hear them. He has a sense of duty that I admire, and a sense of humor that I envy. He is strong, self-assured, handsome and brave – all the things necessary to make women swoon and men follow him without hesitation into battle. If your son is a Marine, my stepson is the man you want leading him.

When discussing death he is nonchalant, stating that he wishes to be buried in Arlington so that his service to our nation isn’t forgotten. He reminds us that he has willfully chosen this path, and that he did not join the Corps for its safety and security.

But I don’t think he understand that his comments are blows to the gut for his mother and me. In fact, he’s excited about going. It’s easier to make the choices for a child than watch him make his own, and suffer the consequences. But we’re proud of him all the same.

Good hands? Try deep do-do…

Property-casualty insurers, which cover damage to homes and cars, reported their highest-ever profit of $73 billion last year, up 49 percent from $49 billion in 2005, according to Highline Data LLC, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm that compiles insurance industry data.

The 60 million U.S. homeowners who pay more than $50 billion a year in insurance premiums are often disappointed when they discover insurers won’t pay the full cost of rebuilding their damaged or destroyed homes.

Property insurers systematically deny and reduce their policyholders’ claims, according to court records in California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Tennessee.

The insurance companies routinely refuse to pay market prices for homes and replacement contents, they use computer programs to cut payouts, they change policy coverage with no clear explanation, they ignore or alter engineering reports, and they sometimes ask their adjusters to lie to customers, court records and interviews with former employees and state regulators show.

Is the source Mother Jones? New Republic? Try Bloomberg. When the insurance industry showers Capitol Hill with $98 million in lobbying money, then turns around and screws Sen. Trent Lott, you know the industry needs to be taken down a peg or two.