Tarry for the Nonce

January 30, 2006

A Disputed Design Choice

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 12:12 pm

Hamas is exercising its new political muscle by demanding . . . that Israel change its flag?

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said from Gaza that Israel must change its flag. “Israel must remove the two blue stripes from its national flag”, said Zahar. “The stripes on the flag are symbols of occupation. They signify Israel’s borders stretching from the River Euphrates to the River Nile.”

Israel’s national flag, a blue Star of David set between two blue stripes, was designed to resemble a Jewish prayer shawl which traditionally has stripes . . .

[Defense Minister Shaul] Mofaz said the government’s policy towards Hamas must be clear. The Hamas, he said, “must annul their charter and disarm, and then we’ll be facing a clearer reality,” Mofaz said. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

In related news, the United States will have none of it:

[Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a Hamas government.

Humanitarian help to the Palestinians, many of whom are poor and unemployed, is likely on a “case-by-case basis,” Rice said Sunday. She indicated that the administration would follow through on aid promised to the current, U.S.-backed Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The United States is not prepared to fund an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, that advocates violence and that refuses its obligations,” under an international framework for eventual Mideast peace, Rice said . . .

U.S. aid is a small part of the $1.6 billion annual budget of the Palestinian Authority.

About $1 billion comes from overseas donors – more than half of that from European nations. The rest is a mix of funds from international donor agencies, Arab and Asian governments, and the U.S., which gave $70 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority last year.

Separately, the U.S. spent $225 million for humanitarian projects through the U.S. Agency for International Development last year, and gave $88 million for refugee assistance.

Good thing U.S. aid is such a “small part” of the budget. It will hardly be missed.


FDR’s Legacy

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 12:00 pm

The Commerce Department seems surprised that Americans aren’t saving money:

The Commerce Department reported Monday that the savings rate fell into negative territory at minus 0.5 percent, meaning that Americans not only spent all of their after-tax income last year but had to dip into previous savings or increase borrowing.

I can give them one explanation: Americans have no incentive to save. If, for example, a college student chooses to work and save money for college, without accepting government aid, that savings-prone student is – by definition – “wealthy” and subject to to the tax on that hefty chunk of tuition savings. (Apparently, it is inconceivable to the federal government that a student would pay their own way.) Students smart enough to live off the public dole have no such problem.

Another explation: Americans feel a sense of entitlement to the money they have “invested” in the government-subsidized retirement programs (i.e., SSN, Medicare, Medicaid,) so they feel it unnecessary to worry about their old age. Having just received my W-2s (and noting the ridiculous amount of money I have contributed to these bureaucratic, bloated charities,) I too feel a sense of entitlement to money that I know I will never see.

And it annoys me.

A Stab in the Back

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 11:30 am

Cindy Sheehan has proposed a senate run against Dianne Feinstein.

“I think our senator needs to be held accountable for her support of George Bush and his war policies,” said Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Feinstein’s campaign manager, Kam Kuwata, said the senator “doesn’t support George Bush and his war policies.”

Nevertheless, Feinstein is apparently running scared. After boldly proclaiming that she saw no justification for a filibuster, Sheehan threatened her with a “you will filibuster or else I will challenge your Senate seat.” So guess what: Feinstein changed her mind and is now supporting the filibuster.

I confess to a morbid fascination as I watch Sheehan alienate even her staunchest allies, but I was struck by a more interesting question:

If I were forced to vote a Sheehan vs. Feinstein ballot, what would I do? After careful consideration, I determined that I would vote for Sheehan. She is much less likely to be a palpable force after her caterwauling is drowned on the Senate floor. And Democrats – in their attempt to distance themselves from her lunacy – would be forced into more responsible positions.

I Do Not Like Them, Sam I Am

Filed under: Science — lmwalker @ 11:14 am

Father Kish sent me an article about green ham:

Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that “glow in the dark”.

They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through . . .

They are the only ones that are green from the inside out. Even their heart and internal organs are green, the researchers say . . .

In daylight, the researchers say the pigs’ eyes, teeth and trotters look green. Their skin has a greenish tinge.

In the dark, shine a blue light on them and they glow torch-light bright.

Why on earth would one wish to possess a green glowing pig?

January 26, 2006

Let Them Do Their Business

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 6:39 pm

Am I missing something fundamental? How does Chris Smith justify interfering in Google’s business?

The decision by Chris Smith, a Republican congressman from New Jersey who chairs a House subcommittee on Human Rights, to call for a February 16 hearing to examine the operating procedures of US internet companies in China, represents the first signs of what could become a serious backlash against Google and other internet companies in Washington that are perceived as capitulating to the Chinese government.

What are the hearings supposed to accomplish? Why not let Google incur the righteous wrath of the global market? Why should the government get involved?

Shall We Sing?

Filed under: Rambles — lmwalker @ 11:48 am

Happy Birthday to You!!
Happy Birthday to You!!
Happy Birthday, dear Ma-att
Happy Birthday to You!!

January 25, 2006

Shall We Sing?

Filed under: Rambles — lmwalker @ 2:24 pm

Happy Birthday to You!!
Happy Birthday to You!!
Happy Birthday, dear Jesse
Happy Birthday to You!!

(You are fortunate. I am in particularly good voice today.)

Deus Caritas Est

Filed under: Religion — lmwalker @ 2:19 pm

Pope Benedict XVI has surprised even the Vatican by the subject of his first encyclical: Deus Caritas Est.

In the 71-page document “God is Love,” Benedict explored the relationship between the erotic love between man and woman, referred to by the term “eros,” and the Greek word for the unconditional, self- giving love, “agape” . . .

Benedict explored the two aspects of love to then explain how the Roman Catholic Church’s charitable activities are based on love and are a fundamental part of its mission. He said the church had no desire to govern states, but at the same time couldn’t remain silent in political life because its charity is needed to ease suffering . . .

“Love is free; it is not practiced as a way of achieving other ends,” he wrote.

“Those who practice charity in the church’s name will never seek to impose the church’s faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love” . . .

“We do not need a state which regulates and controls everything, but a state which … generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need,” he wrote.

Who loves this man? I love this man (in the philia sense, of course. I haven’t mastered the agape yet.)

Cuisine Traditionnelle

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 2:08 pm

French soup kitchens are being forced to close their doors:

Charity groups with far-right links serving pork soup to homeless people face a crackdown by French officials.

Protesters have accused the groups of deliberate discrimination against Jews and Muslims, who do not eat the meat.

Strasbourg officials have banned the hand-outs and police in Paris have closed soup kitchens in an effort to avert racial tension . . .

A leading French anti-racism movement has urged Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to ban pork soup give-aways throughout the country . . .

National Front spokesman Bruno Gollinisch said that people had the right to be charitable to whomever they want.

France never ceases to amaze me. The French authorities should be the least surprised that they have some charitable churls in their midst who lack the full spirit of largess. But why oh why would they voluntarily restrict activities that alleviate the public burden? Who cares if some snotty French charities won’t help everyone. Let them help whom they will and damage their own public image in the process. And then direct the pork-spurning populace to frequent charities that respect their abstention.


A Foxy Move

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 1:58 pm

If one didn’t know better, one might conclude that Mexico was at odds with the United States immigration policy:

A Mexican government agency is to issue some 70,000 maps marking main roads and water tanks for people wanting to cross illegally into the US.

The National Human Rights Commission says the maps will be aimed at cutting the death toll among migrants . . .

Launching the project in Mexico City, officials from Mexico’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) flatly denied they were trying to encourage greater migration.

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