Saving Europe: Stop Treating US Allies As Enemies

March 31, 2005

Earlier posts showed the cost to the US of losing the UK to a French– and German-controlled EU. The US needs to act now to stop this, and my first suggestion is that the US stops treating allied citizens as felons.

To recap: within 18 months, 25 European nations are set to merge into a European Union with common foreign policy, common economic policy, and common military. The merged EU will likely treat weak nations like this:

France

And will help China sink this:

Abraham Lincoln

Here’s how the US loses allies.

Until last year, citizens from friendly counties could visit the US without visas. This was a two way agreement – US citizens don’t need visas for those friendly countries.

Starting last September, the US now fingerprints and photographs every allied visitor. That would include the families of the men and women fighting and dying alongside the US in Iraq.

That has generated a huge and growing amount of resentment in every country effected & is one of the main drivers of the steady growth of anti-Americanism. It will also have a big impact on US tourist revenues this summer. And it’s undermined the positions of friendly politicians, notably Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi.

If this reaction seems unreasonable, here’s how Americans reacted when Brazil Immigration photographed them.

European governments haven’t retaliated – most are pleased to see the US shoot itself in the foot. And the Brits treat the US as an ally.

So any European entering the US has the same amount of hassle as entering the dictatorships of China or the old Soviet Union. By contrast, Europeans are waved through immigration in countries from Japan to Australia, and of course all European countries.

Now this scheme is nothing to do with anti-terror (although the idiot in charge claimed that) – any sensible terrorist will either have forged passport or will just come in through Mexico. It’s about the INS using the emergency to grab an extra bit of control. To be fair, the scheme might catch Kofi Annan’s feared Repeat Suicide Bomber

Here’s what the US should do:


1. At each of the 115 airports where they operate the scheme, install special immigration lanes for citizens of their coalition allies. EU nations effected are Denmark, Great Britain, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Poland.

2. Staff these lanes with the least horrible INS officers available.

3. And don’t fingerprint or photograph.

The White house may have to move Norm Mineta and Asa Hutchinson from the TSA to make this happen. Maybe enlisting them as Minutemen?

Or the US can do nothing and watch its allies fade away.

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On Blogging

March 31, 2005

The Great Confusion that pulled Bloggers’ feeding tubes over the past 2 days encourages reflection of my 10 weeks experience of the infrastructure and medium.

These notes are for my own purposes, but comments are welcome

Infrastructure

Blogger server availability is in the low 90%s. This is likely because it’s free – thin client architectures need a lot of server side resilience and that costs money.

So my requirements are:

1. Commercial-grade server side availability, say 99.9%
2. Commercial-grade intrusion defenses
3. Location in rule-of-law country outside of the EU and US (just in case they do start censoring blogs). Anguilla perhaps.
4. Remote management

Content

The blog is for short-attention span information, and is weak for serialization. Which forces serious posts to become very long, deterring all but the most committed readers. I tried to solve this for my Granita Tapes and Loss of UK by breaking them up into bite-sized chunks, but that loses continuity.

So my requirements are:

1. Books component, accessible directly from entry screen without scrolling, or linkable from posts. That way, books can be evolved over time, with posts simply announcing each new chapter.
2. Books should support full Word-style presentation, including images and video. Mrs G tells me I need Content Management, so I’ll start there.

Presentation

Blogger is designed around 800 pixel screens, IE fixed font sizes, no memory. And the screen has a lot of information you usually don’t need 99% of the time: blogrolls, blogger bio, previous posts, archives, search. And this takes up about 40% of the screen all the time!

So my requirements are:

1. Display width automatically adapting to fully utilize >800 pixel screens.
2. That means customizable font scaling, with memory.
3. IE, Opera and Firefox support.
4. Show/hide sidebar. Ideally an extra menu bar at the top that doesn’t scroll.
5. Bookmark feature so I can jump to where I left off reading the blog or book.

Publication

Editors are hard to do, and thin client ones are even harder. The Blogger editor is 90s style, buggy, and has clunky formatting and image management. And if you paste in from Word you lose format effectors. But we all have some sort of Word processor on our publication devices, including our poncey phones.

So my requirements are:

1. Publication direct from Word, with fancy formatting, text editing, spell- and grammar-checking, image and movie embedding with decent text wrapping, and hyperlinking not only to external URLs and also to bookmarks within the current post or book.
2. A Word template that mimics the Blog presentation layer.

Navigation, Bio, Etc

Currently on the sidebar. Navigations is Most Recent Posts, Archives, Search (this blog or web). Functionality is not bad, although Blogger search is poor and takes up a display line. Technocrati is good, but sits in the horrible sidebar. Bio is vital, but ridiculous to waste the entire sidebar on. Stats vary by Blog.

So my requirements are:

Search in a dedicated command bar, as per Opera, together with buttons that pop up the other sidebar features.
– Bio
– Most Recent Posts
– Archives
– Statistics

The Linking Kerfuffle

Commenting, trackback and blogroll seem to have evolved from genuine feedback to a barter currency. Which has led to enormous blogrolls, which the blogger can’t possibly keep track of & trackbacks that add zero value. I can see how this works for folks who blog as a business, or who get kicks from climbing TLB levels, but don’t need that. Add to which, the Trackback mechanism is the mots horrible user experience I’ve ever encountered.

I just need feedback and something that shows Depleted Uranium readers a bit about eachother.

So my requirements are:

1. Comments with moderation applicable from the published blog.
2. No trackbacks
3. A blogroll of the 20 or so the news & blogs I read regularly.
4. User visible displays showing geographical location of readers (like the unavailable-to-new-users hitmaps feature, see Jacobs Room).

So, that’s what I’m off to look for. Meanwhile, I’ll hack this site to align it better with my spec. I’d like to kill Trackback, but can’t without losing past Comments, darn it.


The Law Is The Judges’ Law

March 29, 2005

Apologists argue that “The Law Is The Law Is The Law”, and our judiciaries are made up of regular folks just trying to do their difficult jobs. However judges routinely ignore our law makers, invent their own laws, and sanction repugnant acts. Why?

Both the US and UK judicial systems:

* Promote abortion and euthanasia.
* Appease killers and terrorists.
* Undermine other institutions.

I’ve highlighted judicial persecution of the weak in the UK. To see how they bow to terror, follow the sorry story of Tony Blair’s attempts to lock up a gang of dangerous terrorists.

The Law Lords, the UK equivalent of the Supreme Court, thwarted him. They ruled that:

a) under the EU Convention on Human Rights, the men must be treated as UK citizens, without being held to the duties of those citizens, and
b) they didn’t think they were that dangerous anyway.

Blair struggled to accommodate them while keeping these men off the streets, but they used every trick in the book to thwart him. Now the men are under house arrest and largely free to kill.

The US courts have similarly promoted killing babies at term, killing the handicapped, and according terrorists the rights of US citizens. And have discovered in the ancient Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the right of homosexuals to marry each other.

Here are some common explanations of the cause of these behaviors, with my views.

Disrupters

The Great Disruption is Frances Fukuyama’s term for the many adverse changes in Western societies that began in the the 60s. Crime, addiction, illegitimacy and family breakdown all rocketed. The trend has now stabilized and social behavior is improving. The theory is that today’s judges all trained at the start of the Disruption, and having gained power are in effect locking it in.

This certainly aligns with their law making – see the Supreme Court discovery of the right of 16 and 17 year-old murderers to escape the death penalty. However, many of the judges declining appeals for Terri are in the 40 to 50 bracket, and in the wider community this cohort is decent and socially responsible.

Despots (AKA The Ward Churchill Effect)

UK judges are appointed for life, as are senior US judges. They cannot be thrown out in elections, or fired for incompetence. So they make their own rules and are impervious to change.

I think this is a major influence. But it doesn’t explain the judge in the Terri case, who was I believe elected. He made the key finding that her fate be determined by the adulterous husband (who wanted her dead), rather than by her parents (who wanted her alive). This sentenced the woman to death.

Clubbed

Under this theory, judges see themselves primarily as members of an exclusive club and support fellow members come what may. This explains why, Congress having mandated a Federal Court to review the facts of the Terri case, the court declined to do so. And why the Supreme Court, refused to hear the case.

But clubs can equally be benign, so this doesn’t explain recent behavior.

Desensitized

Behavioral Science (and history) shows that many people are desensitized by acting cruelly. Absent social control, they become more brutal and even more desensitized. This would explain why otherwise normal and decent human beings might mutilate a new born or force a crippled woman to terrible death.

This theory seems to me a little extreme, since judicial behavior is usually pusillanimous rather than cruel. And it doesn’t explain why our judiciaries should suddenly be infected.

*****

There are other theories, the wildest I’ve seen is Refugee South Africans – the two most extreme members of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and Brit Law Lords hail from SA. But South Africans are social conservatives, so it’s probably just a sampling error.

My conclusion is: All of the Above theories apply, with Disrupters as the determining cause & the other attributes reinforcing it. Armed with this analysis, I’ll look in later posts at how we might rebalance this arm of government with the other two.


Google Gets It Right

March 28, 2005

A follow up on my post on France , with grateful acknowledgment to About.com’s excellent political humor section.


Carnival of the Manly Recipes

March 28, 2005

One of my bearded-mentor-wizard projects is to develop a Manly Cookbook:

Meals That Can Be Shopped For In Less than 1 Minute
Meals That Can Be Cooked In Less than 5 minutes
Meals that Can Be Cooked Once And Then Eaten For 6 Successive Days Without Major Medical Intervention
Meals That Can Be Cooked And Eaten While One Is Inebriated
Meals That Use All The Stuff In the Fridge

Under the last category, I today fed Mrs. G a feast of al dente lasagna, lightly steamed cabbage, and boiled eggs. She acclaimed this as “a culinary first”!

The recipe is, like all Manly Recipes, self-evident. Although I would suggest leaving out the stalk of the cabbage when chopping it up, and using lots of butter, salt and pepper in everything, other than the boiled eggs.

As this blog evolves, I will provide more Manly inspirations. Reader suggestions are welcome & will be ruthlessly plagiarized.


Easter in the Southern Med

March 27, 2005

Easter in this Roman Catholic community was magnificent.

On Friday, a mile-long traditional procession carried statues commemorating salient episodes from the Way of the Cross from our beautiful local church all around the town. Took 4 hours, and was assisted by 3 bands playing suitably solemn music. Each statue was carried on 4 or 5 rails, and each rail rested on the shoulder of one man at the front and one at the back. The bearers used the coffin-carrying technique – rail on shoulder, arm braced across the shoulders of man next to you, and a slow, swaying, shuffling step.

The costumes were fabulous, helped by the fact that the people here look much like I imagine the people of the Holy land did. Participants were between 4 and 80 years old, and the dress was historically accurate: Roman infantry with ceremonial armor fronted by huge SPQR Imperial standards, Pontius Pilate with his full legal retinue, dismounted charioteers, all the disciples, and groups of barefoot penitents dragging chains and clad completely in white robes with hoods containing just eye-holes.

The entire population turned out to watch this, and people were appropriately restrained given the grim event being re-enacted.

Today, Sunday, marks the Resurrection, and was much more cheerful. The band of the Scouts (boys and girls) got to march at the head of a parade at the church – Mrs G and I have fond memories of such marches when we were kids. After Mass, there was a daytime firework display, reminiscent of a heavy mortar barrage. Come to think of it, it was a heavy mortar barrage, they just pre-exploded with fragmentation.

A huge demonstration of community solidarity, affirmation of faith, moral mentoring and plain fun.


Penitence

March 27, 2005

If you want forgiveness for bad behavior, you have to be penitent. Sadly the moral education of Kofi Annan and George Greer missed this out & they just want the forgiveness.

The London Times reports:

KOFI ANNAN, the United Nations secretary-general, is said to be struggling with depression and considering his future. Colleagues have reported concerns about Annan ahead of an official report this week that will examine his son Kojo’s connection to the controversial Iraqi oil for food scheme.

This man heads an organization which on his watch became rotten with corruption and a sponsor of pedophilia. He is responsible & should admit his responsibility, apologize and resign so that a better man can right his wrongs. Then make amends, maybe helping kids his troops have sexually abused. If he hangs on whining for sympathy, he’ll be labeled until he dies as a disgrace.

Fox News reports an AP story on George Greer:

While in legal circles he is garnering acclaim for his consistent application of Florida law in the case, there has been a price.

Protesters now show up at his Clearwater home. The FBI arrested a North Carolina man it said placed a $50,000 bounty on the head of a judge in the case, although officials didn’t name the judge.

This past week, he parted ways with his Southern Baptist church, which had advocated keeping Terri Schiavo alive, after his pastor suggested it would be better if he left. “You must know that in all likelihood it is this case which will define your career and this case that you will remember in the waning days of life,” Calvary Baptist Pastor William Rice wrote to Greer in a letter than later became public.

Greer could not be reached for comment because of the frequent hearings on the Schiavo case, but longtime friend Mary Repper said she recently spoke with him and he judge sounds “worn out” by the case that has been on his docket for more than seven years.

Greer is a typical passive-aggressive, hiding behind rules to execute an act of depravity. Then whining that he’s having a hard time. Unless he repents, it’s going to get a lot worse.

Incidentally, the same story says (my emphasis):

Greer, a former county commissioner, became a judge in 1992. He was recently re-elected to a six-year term, but has announced that he will retire once that term is up.

Greer has been trying to kill this woman for years. Did his County voters know about this when they re-elected him? If so, Florida has major problems.