Monthly Archives: February 2003

Sea lions in the NAVY….yes, real ones

On a more positive note, Sea lions are being used to guard U.S. ships in Gulf. I think it’s kinda cool: “the animals were trained to mark people but not to kill. The mammals can dive to 1,000 feet, swim at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, as well as see and hear better under water than any human or mechanical device the military has.”

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Filed under General

Some more thoughts on the Koreas:

MSNBC reports that much of North Korea’s income comes from slave labor camps whose products are “filtered” through China and often ends up at U.S. markets. (I wonder if most libertarians support that as “free trade”?) North Korea has basically become one big slave labor camp — one which many people are deperately trying to escape at the punishment of death (or worse.) As anyone but a Marxist would realize, North Korea’s communist economy has been a miserable failure:

“At the end of the Korean War nearly half a century ago, incomes in the North were actually higher than in the South. Since then, average income and living standards have been falling in inverse proportion to their rise in South Korea. Now, according to CIA estimates, the average North Korean exists on roughly $1,000 a year, compared with $18,000 a year for South Koreans.”

North Korea’s fanaticism however, hasn’t diminished:

“Refugees who were picked up in China just trying to make a living are likely to get six months’ imprisonment in North Korea, but there is no crime worse than wanting to defect to South Korea.
“It is the severest crime,” said one of the refugees who escaped last year through a foreign embassy in Beijing and did not want his name used. “Surely they will be executed. Or even if they are not shot, they will be sent to a political prison, and they will have to suffer there all the rest of their lifetimes, and they will die there.”

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Filed under General

"Food Aid Said Diverted to N.Korea Military "

Regular readers of my blogger will know what I think of the groups that send aid to North Korea: they are guiltier of causing mass starvation and supporting genocidal regime than Kim Jong Il himself. If it were up to me, I would have those “humanitarians” sent to die in the labor camps with the rest of the peasants whose torture and slavery they are perpetuating.

The fact is, that without the massive material and diplomatic aid (of which US provides 68%) from the quasi-free nations of the world, North Korea would have collapsed long ago. If any more proof is needed that the sanction of the free world is keeping North Korea’s regime afloat, Reuters news reported today that food aid is being diverted to the military instead of the starving peasants. Well, DUH! You don’t to be a UN bureaucrat to figure that out. In a decisive condemnation of North Korea’s actions, Tony Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. food agencies said “We don’t like that. The food is not designed for that. The food is aimed especially at women and children — people who are hurting.” Wow, thanks for clearing that up, Tony.

Meanwhile, Kim continues playing world leader like a fiddle to get his way, by threatening to build nukes, start a war, etc if concessions aren’t made. (I’m not sure if the “non aggression” treaty North Korea is pushing for means that the U.S. will standby if the Kim attacks the South, or that we’ll sell him arms to better attack the U.S.)

Meanwhile, the bloodsuckers at the UN keeping leeching more money from the productive men in America to support more and more despotic dictatorships abroad. “I can’t remember in my experience of working in the humanitarian field when we have had so many crises at one time” says Mr. Hall, Leech #1. Perhaps it’s time for a little self-examination.

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Filed under Politics

"Open letter to Brother Kelly Boggs, Pastor"

(This is in reply to Circumstantial evidence.)

Greetings,

Far be it from me to attack an argument for a war with Iraq, but your piece did not use the terms “theory,” “evidence,” and most importantly, “belief” properly. The proper approach to determining facts, whether it is the theory of evolution or Saddam’s possession of WMD’s is to apply the scientific process in order to reach conclusions — not relying on “faith” or “refusing to believe” something.

In general, the proper method of reaching conclusions is by induction — making observations about a large number of instances (concrete examples) and then forming a hypothesis (abstract idea) based on those observations. Based on the hypothesis, we make predictions about what the concretes should be, and once again apply that hypothesis to numerous concretes. If the predictions hold, one formulates a theory, if not, one tries another hypothesis. Given enough correct hypotheses, one forms a scientific model, and if the model is supported by a significant body of evidence, one forms a scientific theory.

Why do I bring this up? Well, the fact is that the great majority of people do not understand how this process works, and do not apply it to the various junk-science out there today. Take the common phrase regarding evolution: “it’s only a theory.” Well, so are the facts that the earth is round, revolves around the sun, and that volcanoes are not caused by angry gods. Like all knowledge, these facts are conclusions reached by forming conclusions (theories) based on observations. The distinction between facts and theories is important to recognize. As Stephen J. Gould explains: “facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don’t go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them.”

This fact has important implications for some of the “pseudo-sciences” out there, like creationism and environmentalism. The difference between these pseudo-scientists and real scientists is that they pervert the scientific method by rejecting the need for evidence. No argument will sway their position because their beliefs rest on faith, not evidence. For creationists, the Bible is the absolute authority, and all scientific evidence to contrary is rejected or ignored. For environmentalists, their interpretation of what is bad for man (technology) is an absolute — ignoring that it is in fact often the lack thereof that causes more suffering. Because no amount of evidence will convince someone who holds his beliefs on faith, we can reject their claims as soundly (and on the same basis) as the flat-earthers.

Please consider this next time you say “It’s only a theory!”

Sincerely,
–David Veksler

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Filed under Middle East/Terrorism

Yet another communist "utopia"

Check out these Satellite photos of North Korean prison camps.

Then read this: Death, terror in N. Korea gulag.

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Filed under Economics

This is interesting: "State computer

This is interesting:
“State computer with confidential medical data put up for sale.
A state computer put up for sale as surplus contained confidential files naming thousands of people with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the state auditor said Thursday.”

I’ve been trying to buy up some old hardware from Texas A&M’s surplus auctions myself. Wonder what info I’ll find…

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Filed under Sci/Tech

Microsofts and standards compliance…

Here is a quote from an email I sent out on the Brazos Valley Web Design listserv regarding Microsoft’s lack of compliance with the W3C standards:

I think that it’s helpful to realize that Microsoft’s browser is in effect a de-facto standard, which by overwhelming user preference is preferred over the W3C-compliant Mozilla. If you think of MS as the U.S. and W3C as the U.N., it’s easy to see that the “consensus” of a bunch of undemocratic, oppressive regimes is not any more valid that the individual judgment of the freest, richest nation on earth. The analogy is better than you might imagine, since both the US and MS are being derided precisely because of their virtues (freedom and successful products) by nations/companies that are failures precisely because of their flaws (tyranny/bad products.)

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Filed under Economics, Listserv

The Antitrust Racket

Check out this blog from initium:

In 1977, Congress passed the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, a law intended to make life easier for FTC and Antitrust Division officials in deciding which mergers to prosecute and stop. Under HSR, all mergers worth at least a certain value (approximately $50 million under the current law) must be reported to the government prior to consummation. This “pre-merger notification” grants the government a waiting period to decide whether they wish to act against the merger. In most cases, the waiting period is terminated early, and no official action is taken. In a handful of cases-less than 2%-the FTC or Antitrust Division will seek conditions to allow the merger or attempt to stop it outright. Such official action generally results in a “consent agreement,” where the merging companies agree to surrender a portion of their assets to a third-party chosen by the government.

Every Hart-Scott-Rodino “notification” must be accompanied by a filing fee. For mergers valued at less than $100 million, the fee is $45,000; for mergers of more than $500 million, the price is $280,000. The fee is non-refundable, and the monies collected from said fees are what finance the $330-plus million of the FTC and Antitrust Division budgets not financed by direct appropriation.

In other words, the government is forcing businesses to pay for the very antitrust enforcement that is targeted directly against their interests. This is a classic racketeering scheme. A business is forced to pay protection money to a thug who could turn against them at any time.

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Filed under Economics

On Columbia

It seems like every single blog on the internet has an ode of some sort to the downed space shuttle. Not all are positive — Laurel things that it’s time to privatize (i.e. close) NASA because it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money. I think it’s important not to confuse the spirit of discovery that allowed man to go to space, and the particular method by which that is being done today.
The International Space Station, (whose massive cost overruns may well have caused maintenance failures that caused Columbia to blow up) is a perfect example of the wrong approach to take to space exploration. The ISS is a typical result of multinational bureaucracies trying to make a political statement (under a scientific cover) and I could have told you with near certainty when this plan was just an idea that the true cost of the ISS was wildly underestimated. In an age when space tourism has become practical (as the Russians have shown) and commercial satellites are launched on a regular basis, a government-run space agency should stick to military applications, and leave the space exploration to businessmen. Skeptics will complain that there is not enough research money for a private version of the ISS, but I bet if the government allowed private enterprise to decide which areas research should go to I am sure that the results would be much better, even if a private ISS takes longer to build.

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Filed under General

Gotta love the UN

Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post has written a great editorial about the U.N. He mentions how Iraq has been chosen to Iraq to Chair U.N. Disarmament Conference (with Iran as co-chair) while Libya, that great utopia of individual rights was elected to the chairmanship of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.
Can the U.N. possibly become any more hypocritical? Next, I suppose North Korea will be selected to chair the Democracy Conference, and China to lead the Religious Tolerance Committee, and Cuba to chair the Economic Development Forum. Then, the five chairs can pass a resolution condemning the U.S. for terrorism, hostility to Muslims, human rights abuses, and trade restrictions. (And the libertarians, those great defenders of non-aggression would probably applaud the resolution for pointing out U.S. “imperialism.”)

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Filed under Politics