The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Monday, January 30, 2006
Kind Of A Turnaround

It's kind of odd - Kanye West tries to generate controvery by posing as Jesus in Rolling Stone, and only generates a giant yawn.

However, publish a few cartoons showing a likeness of Mohammed, and just see what happens (via Deutsche Welle):

Denmark warned its citizens on Monday to avoid Saudi Arabia, and gunmen in Gaza said any Scandinavians there risked attack, as Muslim fury mounted over newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which published the cartoons, issued an apology [link added, via LGF] late on Monday in a statement to Arab countries sent to the Jordanian news agency Petra.

The drawings, that seemed to portray the Prophet as a terrorist, were published in September, but the row erupted this month after diplomatic efforts to solve the issue failed. One drawing shows Mohammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.

Some Muslims, who deem images of prophets disrespectful and caricatures blasphemous, have threatened Danes and demanded an apology.

"The drawings are not against the Danish law but have indisputably insulted many Muslims, for which we shall apologize," the newspaper said in the statement.

You can take a look at these pictures here. I can't think of a single Muslim acquaintance that would be offended by this. And this is something that's precipitated armed gunmen taking over an EU office in Gaza, Libya shutting its embassy and Saudi Arabia recalling its ambassador, possible WTO response to a Saudi Arabian boycott of Danish goods and efforts to get a UN resolution. Disproportionate, don't you think?

A buddy of mine is trying to convince me that Bill Clinton was a rock star president. Clinton's reaction, however, is not helping my friend's cause:

"So now what are we going to do? ... Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?" he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.

"In Europe, most of the struggles we've had in the past 50 years have been to fight prejudices against Jews, to fight against anti-Semitism," he said.

Clinton described as "appalling" the 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September depicting Prophet Mohammed and causing uproar in the Muslim world.

"None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions ... there was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark ... these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam," he said.

I've heard of tailoring one's comments for one's audience, but that's a bit absurd.*

Update: Kate shows, for comparative purposes, an editorial cartoon from a newspaper in Oman. Irony abounds.
* I was going to say that this was as absurd as demanding that a Catholic school convert to Islam. However, as it turns out, those schools may be state-supported, so perhaps this isn't the best analogy.

Posted 6:55 PM by Tony

Thin Skins

I don't take Wikipedia entries all that seriously, which is why this one amuses the hell out of me (via protein wisdom; also see Lowell Sun):

Members of U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan's staff have acknowledged they deleted unflattering information about a broken campaign promise from an online encyclopedia, according to a published report.

Content on Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to post information, was replaced to remove references to Meehan's broken term limit pledge, the Sun of Lowell reported.

Meehan's chief of staff Matt Vogel told the newspaper that he oversaw the removal last July of information, which was replaced with a staff-written biography.

Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, pledged to serve just four terms -- eight years -- but he later broke that campaign promise. He's currently serving his seventh term.

Meehan's entry on Wikipedia is here.

Posted 6:09 PM by Tony

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Irony Alert

From the SF Chronicle, Jan. 20, 2006 (see also here

The administration, seeking to revive an online pornography law blocked by the Supreme Court, has subpoenaed Google Inc. for details on what its users have been looking for through its popular search engine.

Google is fighting the Justice Department subpoena that the company has termed "unduly burdensome, vague and intended to harass." Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this week asked a federal judge in California to order Google to comply.

And for those who mock the blogosphere for being one giant echo chamber, today's Chronicle features substantially similar columns by resident incoherent Mark Morford, and by Robert Scheer.* Just compare the opening paragraphs.


Attention, all who are reading this column right now, please put down your drink and leap up off the couch and put your pants back on and log in to Google and type the words "hot bunny terrorist fluffer banana" into the comely and world-beloved Google search engine. Do it. Do it now.


IN CASE someone in the Justice Department is reading this, let me hasten to explain why I just clicked on the Victoria's Secret online catalog photo featuring a certain "Very Sexy Lace & Mesh Garter Belt." AOL made me do it.

The only difference, far as I can tell is that today's column by Scheer paints Google as the valiant private entity standing up to the demands of the Big, Bad Government:

Fortunately, Google, the latest high-tech upstart giant, dared to challenge the government's claim of an unbridled right to break into our information-age virtual homes. While avoiding the privacy argument as the others did because individual IP addresses were not requested at this time, Google forthrightly sounded the alarm on government arrogance.

Unfortunately for Scheer, today's SF Chronicle also features this:

Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing market.

[ . . . ]

To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit Web content that the country's government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisons on guidance provided by Chinese government officials.

Although China has loosened some of its controls in recent years, some topics, such as Taiwan's independence and 1989's Tiananmen Square massacre, remain forbidden subjects.

Google officials characterized the censorship concessions in China as an excruciating decision for a company that adopted "don't be evil" as a motto. But management believes it's a worthwhile sacrifice.

[ . . . ]

Google is cooperating with China's government at the same time it is battling the U.S. government over a subpoena seeking a breakdown of one week's worth of search requests a list that would cover millions of terms.

Oops. So much for standing up to the government.

Now, I suppose one might argue that there are different interests involved between the two situations - one involves privacy, the other freedom of information. But they seem to be equally important interests, and the contrast is quite striking.

I suppose I'm being cynical, but I can't help but wonder what Google would have done had the economic consequences for non-compliance with the subpoena been comparable to being locked out of the China market.
* Incidentally, I'm not saying that I believe that the subpeona issued by the federal government should not be quashed. I just find the situation interesting.

Posted 6:02 PM by Tony

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Color Me Astonished

I never really had much use for the State Department, for various and sundry reasons. I may have to revisit that opinion, at least for a little bit.

First our man in Seoul, and now our people in Havana (via Babalu):

Fidel Castro accused the United States Tuesday of planning to free a man he has characterized as the Western Hemisphere's worst terrorist, directing a march of tens of thousands of people who equated U.S. President Bush with Adolf Hitler.

[ . . . ]

Castro called the march to protest recent U.S. actions aimed at Cuba, including a new electronic sign along the American mission's facade to broadcast human rights messages. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana handles consular affairs in the absence of full diplomatic relations.

The sign was activated as Castro began speaking in front of the building Tuesday morning, relaying global news and quotes including Abraham Lincoln's: "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."

Castro glanced up at the building, saying, "They already turned on the little sign -- the cockroaches are brave," before starting his speech.

The mission launched the sign a week ago with streaming text of sayings from Martin Luther King Jr. and excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory.

Smart, maybe not. Funny, definitely yes. Geez, a State Department with huevos. That's going to take some getting used to.

Posted 8:40 PM by Tony

Incremental Steps

So the Tories beat down the Liberals, and Stephen Harper will be the next prime minister. Although the news isn't an unmixed blessing. I'm not sure how I feel about this, given that the American political paradigm doesn't really apply to Canada.

On a related note, I went to Democratic Underground, since that site is always good for a laugh. For example, I find it amusing that a person would mock Harper's intelligence by calling him a "moran." Pot, meet kettle.

Posted 6:07 PM by Tony

Today's Bad Pun

Apparently, al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command, released a poetry tape (via CNN by way of Angelweave).

Sounds like it's time for a poetry SLAM.

Posted 8:07 AM by Tony

Saturday, January 21, 2006
Oh, For Chrissake...

...this should be interesting (via SF Chronicle):

Lawyers for a small-town parish priest have been ordered to appear in court next week after the Roman Catholic cleric was accused of unlawfully asserting what many people take for granted: that Jesus Christ existed.

The Rev. Enrico Righi was named in a 2002 complaint filed by Luigi Cascioli after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli, a lifelong atheist, claims that Righi violated two Italian laws by making the assertion: so-called "abuse of popular belief" in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation" in which someone gains by attributing a false name to someone.

Cascioli says that for 2,000 years the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people by furthering the fable that Christ existed, and says the church has been gaining financially by impersonating as Christ someone by the name of John of Gamala, the son of Judas from Gamala.

[ . . . ]

Prosecutors, who in Italy are obliged to investigate such complaints, initially tried to have the case dismissed, saying no crime could be verified.

But Cascioli challenged them, and Judge Gaetano Mautone set a hearing for next Friday in Viterbo, north of Rome, to discuss preliminary motions in Cascioli's bid to have the court appoint technical experts to review the historical data and determine if Jesus really did exist.

[ . . . ]

Cascioli says he is merely going through the necessary legal steps in Italy so he can ultimately take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, where he intends to pursue the case against the church for "religious racism."

"I was born against Christ and God," he said. "I'm doing it (the complaint) now because I should do it before I die."

So, anyone care to take odds that the European Court of Human Rights ultimately will take this one up?

Posted 10:07 AM by Tony

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Smartass Thought Of The Day

Worst. Calendar. Ever.

Posted 7:05 PM by Tony

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
That Pandora's Box

There's a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, advocating against deployment of something I had only read about in fiction:

The U.S. military-industrial complex has just developed a dangerous weapon that should never, under any circumstances, be deployed. No, I'm not talking about the "bunker-buster" nukes that were, thankfully, denied funding once again in next year's federal budget.

The new weapon -- first reported in the press in 2004 -- is known in military circles as the Active Denial System. It has been nicknamed the "pain ray" -- and with good reason. According to [link added], an online military information service, the new weapon "fires out millimeter waves -- a sort of cousin of microwaves, in the 95 GHz range. The invisible beams penetrate just 1/64th of an inch beneath the skin. But that's deep enough to heat up the water inside a person. Which is enough to cause excruciating pain. Seconds later, people have to run away. And that causes mobs to break up in a hurry." Charles Heal, a widely recognized authority on nonlethal weapons who has dubbed the ray the "Holy Grail of crowd control," likened it to having a hot iron pressed against the skin.

[ . . . ]

Today's innovation is tomorrow's copy. For example, the baseball team lucky enough to include on its roster the pitcher who first developed the curveball had a temporary advantage, to be sure -- at least until all the other pitchers learned the same technique. Likewise, military innovation, once deployed, enjoys only a temporary advantage until adversaries and allies alike are able to catch up.

That's why developing a pain ray and deploying one are inherently different actions. Studying the capability of millimeter waves to cause pain might help us develop defenses against that technology; however, deploying the weapon merely invites other nations to follow suit. The stigma of deploying such weapons, once the line is crossed, is difficult to "uncross" -- much like trying to put the "nuclear genie" back in the bottle.

Rather than deploying a pain ray, President Bush should instead begin developing a plan -- drawing inspiration from the post-World War I leaders who banned the use of chemical weapons -- to forever ban the use of millimeter waves (or similar technologies) in combat or any other form of "crowd control." Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before such weapons are used against American troops or by repressive regimes against their own citizens -- or perhaps even by the U.S. government against dissidents or unruly crowds in our own country.

For me, the use of the term "military-industrial complex" is a tipoff. But let's consider the piece on its own terms.

First, I disagree with the implicit equation of the United States with "repressive regimes." The author raises the specter of use "by the U.S. government against dissidents or unruly crowds." The implication is, of course, that the government punishes persons for mere political expression. But, since when in recent memory has force been used against "dissidents" whose expression did not cross the line into violence? I can't think of anything.

Second, what alternatives are available in the relevant technology area, i.e., non-lethal weaponry? Check out this overview of riot control for quick reference. I'm just going off the top of my head, so please bear with me. Water hoses require a ready and plentiful source of water, which may not always be available. Tear gas, or other chemical irritants, may not be usable due to environmental constraints. In addition, those kinds of weapons are area effect weapons and cannot be precisely targeted. Rubber bullets are problematic because they're still fired at high speed and can cause serious injury or death. Batons or other melee weapons have the obvious disadvantage of requiring close contact. Which leaves foam or net systems, or beanbag rounds, all of which have limited range.

Third, and this is the most flawed part to me, is that the argument amounts to a parade of horribles - if we do it, then everybody else will. This argument is not unique to the ADS, and pretty much applies to every single technological development that has had the capacity to hurt people, e.g., tanks. Once those were introduced by the British, everyone developed and deployed their own. What happened next? The development of anti-tank weapons, natch.

As for the chemical weapons analogy, I'm not sure that it's all that appropriate. The issue (to me) with chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction is precisely that - mass. They're area-effect, imprecise weapons. The damage dealt is on a wholesale, and not retail, basis, so to speak. In contrast, bullets are directed at individual targets. It appears that the ADS is more akin to a gun rather than a gas shell. So I'm not sure that the analogy works.

Posted 7:08 PM by Tony

Well, That Was Offensive

Hilary Clinton, on Martin Luther King Day (via SF Chronicle):

The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about," said Clinton, D-N.Y. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard."

"We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence," she said. "I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country."

That was needlessly inflammatory, and it doesn't matter that who defends those types of comments.

Under the same logic, one may as well calle either the White House or Arkansas under the Clintons as being run like a white trash trailer park. Culture of corruption, indeed.

Posted 6:57 PM by Tony

Saturday, January 14, 2006
My Only Post On Alito

This pointed comment caught my eye, as Professor Tribe is widely considered one of the authorities on constitutional law. The alleged misrepresentation by Tribe that he wasn't recommending against Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court had me reaching for the transcripts.

Let's see what he said yesterday (emphasis added):

TRIBE: [ . . . ] I'm not here to endorse the nomination of Judge Alito, as I did with my most recent testimony before this committee on a Supreme Court nomination with Justice Kennedy.

I'm not here to oppose his nomination, as I did several months before that time with Robert Bork. And I'm not here to lecture the committee on its responsibilities or its role. I don't think that's my role.

I think the only useful function that I can perform is to ensure, to the limited extent I can, that senators not cast their votes with, to borrow an image from a Kubrick movie, their eyes wide shut.

[ . . . ]

They won't say Roe v. Wade is hereby overruled. What they will do -- and I'm saying "will," because I am assuming that confirmation will occur, maybe it won't -- but with the vote of Judge Alito as Justice Alito, the court will cut back on Roe v. Wade step by step, not just to the point where, as the moderate American center has it, abortion is cautiously restricted, but to the point where the fundamental, underlying right to liberty [to abortion] becomes a hollow shell.

[ . . . ]

And it is crucial to know that Judge Alito dramatically misstated the current state of the law. And I say that with deference and respect, but it was clear.

[ . . . ]

So, it seems to me clear that the indications we have of Judge Alito's belief are that he does not have a conviction that that liberty [to abortion] is special. And he is unwilling not only to commit to treating this as a so-called "super precedent," he's not even willing to indicate to this committee that he believes that the court has a special role in protecting intimate personal liberties.

[ . . . ]

With respect to consolidating the powers of the president, I want to associate myself completely with the remarks of Beth Nolan. It is very clear that, with respect to the unitary executive theory that is being espoused, that what you saw in the instance of Judge Alito's testimony was not a forthright description of what he said he believed.

SPECTER: Professor Tribe, you're a minute and a half over. If you could summarize, we'd appreciate it.

TRIBE: I'm sorry. I will certainly summarize.

When he spoke in November of 2000, after Morrison was decided, he outlined a strategy for consolidating the power of the president, notwithstanding Morrison. And I think it is easy to explain, but I won't try to do it over time, why the distinction he tried to draw between a president's control of functions within his power and the scope of executive power is a completely phony distinction.

SPECTER: Professor Tribe, did you say you were not testifying against Judge Alito?

TRIBE: I am not recommending any action. I'm recommending that everyone -- because I think it's foolish. Nobody really cares what I think.

SPECTER: Aside from your recommendation, are you saying you're not testifying against Judge Alito?

TRIBE: I'm not testifying for or against Judge Alito. I'm explaining why I am very troubled by his views. Obviously, it follows from that that I would be hard pressed to recommend his confirmation.

Senator Specter's confusion is certainly understandable.

It's a little unclear to me why Professor Tribe simply didn't say he was against the nomination. On the one hand, Tribe accuses Judge Alito of "dramatically misstat[ing]" the law and making a "completely phony distiniction," and asserting that a Justice Alito would turn the abortion right into a "hollow shell." On the other hand, Tribe continued to maintain that he was not testifying against Alito. That smacks of mealy-mouthedness, and negatively impacts the substance of his testimony.

While I don't really care about Tribe's opinion of Alito, I do think it's a little sad that such a distinguished individual would engage in pointless word games like this.

Posted 2:23 PM by Tony

Friday, January 13, 2006
Shut Up, They Said

Free speech for me, not thee, I think, may characterize serveral Bay Area abortion activists.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Bay Area abortion-rights activists say a Roman Catholic group's advertisements on hundreds of BART trains and in scores of stations -- attacking the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision and asking "Abortion: Have we gone too far?" -- have gone too far in a region known for its progressive politics.

Many of the ads have been torn down or defaced since the campaign began three weeks ago.

"I think every woman has noticed them," said Suzanne "Sam" Joi, a member of Code Pink, a social justice and anti-war group. "I couldn't believe BART would allow something like this. Why are they doing this?"

[ . . . ]

Critics of the ads also seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Hundreds of the ads have been defaced with markers, had stickers placed over them or have been torn down and ripped up, according to Monika Rodman, coordinator of the group that placed the ads.

"The defacement has taken to religious epithets, profanity, everything you can think of,'' she said. A billboard at the MacArthur station in Oakland was torn to shreds, she said, and mini essays were written on others.

So many of the ads have been destroyed, she said, that a supply of a couple of dozen extras has been exhausted, and the ministry has ordered reinforcements from its printer. The group, which funded the campaign through donations, according to Rodman, is also asking BART's ad agency, CBS Outdoor (formerly Viacom Outdoor), for extra display time to compensate for the vandalism.

[ . . . ]

Some backers of abortion rights think BART should have rejected the ads, while others say BART should have warned pro-choice groups that the ads were about to appear and offered them a chance to run their own ad campaign.

"At the very least they should have made sure both sides were represented," Joi said.

I suppose, under that rationale, the next time Code Pink has a rally somewhere, they'll offer space to persons with opposing points of view?

Now, abortion is a complicated issue, and I, for one, have some ambivalency about the issue, though I tend toward the pro-life position. But, "I disagree and here's why" is not the same thing as "I disagree, and you can't express your own point of view."

I for one, find it ironic that a Code Pink member wants to prevent the exercise of free speech, given that group's less-than-dignified, and somewhat pathetic activities.

Posted 8:15 AM by Tony

Gratuitous Girl Friday

It's been a while since I've put up pictures. So, at the risk of a tsk-ing from my friends, I'm going to make up for some lost time.

So, here's Cora Skinner (via IGN, see also interview there):

More pictures at page:

Posted 12:58 AM by Tony

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Canada's Crazy Aunt In The Attic

I used to entertain myself by poking holes in Heather Mallick's columns (in reverse chronological order here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). I always felt a tad guilty, as there was no challenge to it - puncturing her columns was akin to grenade fishing in difficulty. But, the sheer incoherency of her columns, which always seemed to involve a vitriolic contempt for the United States, never ceased to amuse. Then the Globe and Mail deprived me of my fun by hiding most of their columns behind a subscriber wall (a darned shame, as I had enjoyed Christie Blatchford's columns). But, it was fun while it lasted.

Apparently, she left the Globe and Mail recently, due to a "matter of principle," if columnist Antonia Zerbisias (who also strikes me as a bit of a moonbat, although hers is better hidden). In Mallick's own words:

I had written a column on the Guardian's deplorable and grotesque libel of Noam Chomsky. The handling editor then said I had to repeat the libel. I said that it was libellous to repeat a libel, as any editor should know. I waited to see the final version (I had my editor's word that I always get to see a final version) and on Friday morning was horrified to find that the column had gone to the printer without my having seen it. I said pull it. The Globe refused.

Okay, this seems pretty weak to me. I'm not Canadian, and don't even pretend to know how the libel laws work up there. However, as a matter of logic, it seems questionable to me that there would be liability for libel if the allegedly defamatory matter was published in order to refute it.

As a result, I seriously doubt that a) Mallick's resignation was a "matter of principle," and/or b) this is the reason for her resignation. Unless she's that dumb.

But then again, this is a person who got suckered by a fake letter to Michael Moore, which the author owned up to less than 15 minutes after posting it.*
* To be fair, perhaps it was too much to expect Mallick to be tipped off by the over-the-top language of the fake. My guess is that Mallick expects this type of language to be the norm, given the language employed in her own columns, and, for that matter, the original Michael Moore letter (who in the world types in all capitals and expects to get taken seriously?).

Posted 10:14 PM by Tony

More Campaign Fun

I mentioned earlier that the Liberal Party of Canada was playing the anti-American card. (see also this piece in the Toronto Star)

Now, as the Canadian Press notes, the Liberals are starting to run negative attack ads:

The ads are certainly the most hard-hitting of what has already been a tough campaign.

They come with polls showing Harper's Conservatives holding the momentum and opening up a lead of several percentage points over the sliding Liberals.

Starting with grainy, unfocused close-ups of Harper's eyes and a martial drum beat, the Liberal ads all follow the same format, using past comments by or about Harper to paint a deeply unflattering portrait as his face comes into focus.

Some of the ads end with the Liberal financing disclaimer stamped across Harper's upper lip like a Nazi moustache.

Another ad implies that the Canadian military would be used to put down Canadian citizens.

What astounds me is not the negativity of the ads, but rather the lack of sophistication. These things are about as subtle as a sledgehammer. For example, one ad, entitled "Choose Your Canada: Washington Times," proclaims (in Courier type, so you know They're Not Kidding):

A Harper victory will put a smile on George Bush's face.

This strikes me as ridiculously amateurish. One may as well replace that with:

A vote for Harper makes the baby Jesus cry.

These ads open themselves up to mockery very easily. See, for instance, Daimnation! posts here and here, and comments therein.

I'll admit, of course, that my opinion may be biased be reading the Liberal Party's campaign platform (PDF), which is chock full of feel-good nanny statism. My personal favorite is on page 63:

Banning handguns A Liberal government will amend the criminal code to make ownership of handguns illegal. We will invite provinces and territories who have the jurisdiction to enforce the ban to participate so as to make the ban national. Legitimate target shooters who meet strict requirements will be exempted. We will implement an amnesty and buy-back program to collect existing handguns. A national Gunstoppers Program will provide financial rewards for information leading to the removal of an illegal gun from the street.

Because the nationwide gun registry was such an unqualified success, the Liberals want to push further? Oy.

Posted 5:16 PM by Tony

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Medical Experiments

I was looking at the Korea Herald, and this article on US involvement in medical experiments on arguably non-consenting subjects caught my eye. If true, someone has some serious explaining to do - after all, we're supposed to hold ourselves to a higher standard than this:

The story goes back to September 1995, when Peter Bodde, then deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Nepal, sought the permission of Nepal's Ministry of Health to establish a Nepal unit of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), the foreign branch of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research that conducts military-related biomedical research in the USA.

GlaxoSmithKline was developing a Hepatitis E vaccine and the US government wanted to test it on humans to see how safe and effective it was. The Nepal government allowed a trial on about 8,000 "volunteers" in Lalitpur city, which was declared a world heritage site by Unesco.

[ . . . ]

After headlines like Belgium drugs to be tested on Nepalese bodies began to appear in the media, AFRIMS approached the Royal Nepalese Army, who agreed to provide 2,000 soldiers to "volunteer".

See also article in A less sensationalistic overview of this issue is provided in The American Journal of Bioethics, and the project is described in Fort Detrick newsletter from 2001. I find troubling the likelihood that any consent given by the Nepalese military personnel for this study was flawed.

At the very least, an explanation is owed.

Posted 6:52 PM by Tony

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
More Jeong-isms And Other Nonsense

I was going to comment on this, but the Marmot beat me to it.

I only that ex-Unification Minister Jeong's comment:

Washington seems to want to keep North Korea as its 'necessary enemy' to maintain its control and interests in the Northeast Asian region[.]

really should be added to the list of Jeong's Greatest Hits.

I also like this bit about how the US and North Korean systems are the same:

During the forum, Tong Kim, former senior Korean interpreter at the U.S. State Department, said that considering the U.S. presidential system U.S. administration officials under President George W. Bush cannot but adopt harsh rhetoric against North Korea.

"Working-level U.S. officials who deal with North Korean issues, including Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and chief delegate to the six-party talks, are called the `tier four," said Kim, now a research professor at Korea University.

Under the U.S. system, those working-level officials cannot but relay the message of the "tier one," or the president, just like official mouthpieces of North Korea adopt a hard-line stance toward the outside world to prove themselves to the inside leadership, including its leader Kim Jong-il, he said.

Heh, "experts," indeed.

Posted 6:58 PM by Tony

Korean Tabloid Crap

... to borrow the Marmot's phrase.

For those interested, here's a Korea Herald article on the ROK's most famous transsexual, Ha Ri Su:

Since her debut in a local TV cosmetics commercial in 2001, Ha has become a versatile entertainer, playing many roles from singer to actress to model.

[ . . . ]

With the title [of her new album] "Reaction," Ha will try to create a new image of being cute rather than sexy, which was her strength that appealed to many fans.

Ah, but how many South Koreans would actually want her to be the girl next door?

Posted 6:56 PM by Tony

Monday, January 09, 2006
Doings Up North

There's an interesting piece by Anna Morgan in the Washington Post about Canadian politics vis-a-vis the US, which sums up some of the more interesting points of contention:

Barely 18 months ago, Canadian party leaders were out campaigning for better health care policies, a cure for Quebec's nationalist aspirations and an end to government corruption scandals. But since the minority government put in place in June 2004 lost a no-confidence vote late last November, the politicians have been back out on the stump, preparing for a new election on Jan. 23. This time, though, running in the two coldest months of winter, they've been using that familiar demon -- the United States and all its evils -- as the fuel to heat Canadian voters to a frenzy.

There's no denying that Canadians are in an even more anti-American mood than usual, thanks to the Iraq war and the Bush administration's perceived arrogance. And politicians here are playing to that mood. In a blatant appeal for votes, candidates of every stripe, led by Prime Minister Paul Martin and his ruling Liberal Party, are taking aim at Washington, blasting it for taxing Canadian lumber imports, for failing to fight global warming, for lax gun-control laws, for dealing inappropriately with the war on terrorism. And all the while, they're studiously ignoring Canada's own homegrown issues.

[ . . . ]

In doing so [Prime Minister Paul Martin criticizing the US for not signing the Kyoto accord], he conveniently neglected to mention that Canada, which is one of the accord's major promoters, so far hasn't complied with its emission reduction requirements. The United States, in fact, has done a better job in dealing with greenhouse gases. A U.S. Department of Energy report released in December noted that American emissions for 2004 were 16 percent higher than in 1990. A similar study prepared by Environment Canada reported that greenhouse gas emissions rose 24 percent here between 1990 and 2003. But in the current election environment, the prime minister knows that it is hot air that really counts.

The Liberal Party has been determined to divert attention from a corruption scandal that has left it weakened in every province. It is using its anti-American foreign policy as an election tool, continuously reminding Canadians that the Liberal government kept the country out of the Iraq war and the North American missile defense system. Some pundits say that Martin, with no ammunition against opposition candidates, has decided to run against George W. Bush.

The opposition has also played the America card. The Conservatives, who support deep tax cuts, Thatcheresque deregulation of the economy and a set of family values that could attract the vote of any evangelical minister, are sympathetic with Bush's foreign policies but vow never to mimic them. At the other end of the spectrum, the quasi-socialist New Democratic Party has candidates who are so anti-American that they sometimes sound like an undergraduate student forum, performing stunts such as conducting "citizens' weapons inspections" of American military bases in Washington state. The one thing all the candidates have in common is their strenuous assertions that they will not tolerate being bullied, even if they have to make up the bullying.

Remember, vote Liberal or the kid gets it. One wonders if the Liberal Party has been taking lessons in misleading propaganda from Michael Moore.

Posted 5:29 PM by Tony

A Brief Smackdown

Ralph Peters in the New York Post:

ACCORDING to the Democratic Party's leaders, we all have been betrayed by the Bush administration's Big Brother intelligence tactics as evil government operatives invaded the privacy of innocent Americans.

Stop lying. Show us the victims.

Name one honest citizen who has been targeted by our intelligence system. Name one innocent man or woman whose life has been destroyed. Come on, Nancy. Give it up, Howard. Name just one.

[ . . . ]

4) Would the Pelosi-Dean gang prefer to give the terrorists the run of the house? For all of their whining, the ultra-Dems have never laid out a coherent, detailed strategy of their own for fighting terror. Show us your plan!

[ . . . ]

6) Our intelligence system has so many built-in safeguards to protect the personal information of our citizens that it seemed like overkill to me. Intelligence reports couldn't include even a passing reference to any American citizen by name (given the variety of American names, we did a lot of scrambling to conform to the very strict rules).

My fellow Americans, the real threats to your information security are Google, eBay, chat rooms, credit applications, junk mail, etc. And the Democratic National Committee holds vastly more information about individual American citizens in its files than do all of our intelligence agencies combined.

[ . . . ]

THE dishonesty and cynicism on the American left is breathtaking. The only reason the Dems are hand-wringing over the imaginary threat to your personal secrets is that every other approach has failed them.

They couldn't get the traction they expected by betraying our troops and declaring Iraq a failure (note how shamelessly the Dems have deserted Cindy Sheehan as her nuttiness turned radioactive they'll bail on John Murtha, too, as he gets whackier). Now they're trying to convince you that Big Brother Bush is peeping through the blinds to make sure you and your spouse stick to the missionary position.

So, Mr. Dean, Ms. Pelosi, what's your alternative?

Posted 5:26 PM by Tony

Thursday, January 05, 2006
Smooth Moves

The SF Chronicle has an article about the robot, and how, apparently, it will never die. Thank God for that - it's one of the few I can do semi-credibly.

On another note, I ran across the list of contestants on this. Tia Carrere, Master P., Jerry Rice, and Stacey Keibler, ballroom dancing? I am sooooo watching this.

Posted 4:59 PM by Tony

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Okay, at this point, it seems that the Roh changes his Unification Ministers more often than he would his shoes.

The Marmot notes that there's now a new nominee, Lee Jong-seok. Interestingly, Lee is also set to chair the Standing Committee of the National Security Committee.

I don't hold out much hope, given the adminstration's prior selections. (just follow the links)

The previous minister, Chung Dong-young:

This policy is clearly diametrically opposed to any intention to absorb the North or make it collapse. To stress this clearly one more time, we don't want North Korea to collapse. With this in mind, it is not desirable for anyone to organize defections, intentionally bringing people out of North Korea. In particular, this runs counter to the government's policy of co-existence and co-prosperity.

And the previous minister, Jeong Se-hyun, with whom comparisions to Baghdad Bob leap to mind:

"[Seeing] the oxcarts and the children in the [poor] hospital beds [in TV footage from the disaster in Ryongchon, North Korea], it was really miserable. . . . Why, it's romantic, no?"

At least they set the bar low.

Posted 6:38 PM by Tony

Fine, So I'm Sappy

I was getting on a plane last week, and spotted an elderly couple (looked to be 70+)in the first row of the coach section. The man gave his wife(?) a kiss, then asked her, "how about another?" He then kissed her again.

For some reason, I got a bit misty-eyed.

Yeah, I'm a sap, but I can live with it.

Posted 6:31 PM by Tony

Liberty And Security

The Bay Area's a funny place. On one hand, with respect to the recent wiretapping news, people vent that "[s]urrendering liberties just to secure an extra ounce of perceived safety is cowardice of the highest order."*

On the other hand, San Francisco passed Proposition H, effective later this year (full text here):

Shall the City ban the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco, and ban City residents from possessing handguns within San Francisco?

Curiously, the SF Chronicle has an opinion piece that's right on target, no pun intended:

ODD HOW the Special City, which prides itself on tolerance and chants incessantly about choice, can be so, well, intolerant. Witness the November election in which 58 percent of city voters elected to ban the sale of firearms in EssEff and to outlaw handgun ownership for citizens. It takes a special city to make the National Rifle Association look like the good guys.

I don't want to sound glib, because the rash of violence that has scarred the city -- and sent the number of homicides in 2005 to 94 -- no doubt contributed to the passage of the gun-ban measure, Proposition H.

[ . . . ]

Here's an interesting statistic, compiled by the SFPD and reported in The Chronicle last month [link added]: Of the 94 homicides recorded in the city through Dec. 12, no arrests had been made in 74 of those murders. Only eight cases have resulted in prosecutions.

[ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

San Francisco is supposed to stand for choice. This is supposed to be a town where tolerant individuals don't pass laws that, in essence, say: If I don't do it, you shouldn't either; if you do, you go to jail. Yet the gun ban ends choice -- for the law-abiding, at least.

"Go by Bayview Police Station," one S.F. cop e-mailed me, "and look at the wall with all the gun photos. Not one of them was owned legally. No self-respecting gangster is going to abide by this new law, if they won't abide by the old ones."

Like I said, it's a funny place.
* Since I'm not sufficiently informed on this, I have yet to form an opinion on the issue.

Posted 5:58 PM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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