How much has Japan's economy shrunk since its bubble burst? It's a trick question; Japan's economy hasn't shrunk. It had only two down years over the past decade, and on average it grew 1 percent per year.
Yet Japan's is a genuinely depressed economy. Because growth has been so slow, an ever-increasing gap has opened up between what the economy could produce and what it actually produces. This "output gap" translates into rising unemployment and accelerating deflation. Slow growth can be almost as big a problem as actual output decline.
Now the non-trick question: What would a similar analysis say about the United States? [read more]
War Against Some Terrorists
The White House keeps saying that no decision has been made about Iraq, but of course a decision has been made. Richard Perle, an administration Iraq hawk, gave away the game in yesterday's Times: "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said" would lead to "a collapse of confidence." Translation: If Mr. Bush doesn't get rid of Saddam after all this saber rattling, he will look like the biggest wimp since — well, his father. Democrats, as timid in challenging Mr. Bush on Iraq as they were in letting his tax cut through Congress, keep calling for a "debate." What world are they living in? Mr. Bush is no sooner going to abandon his pursuit of Saddam than his crusade to eliminate the estate tax. These are his only core beliefs.
The only mystery is when D-Day will be. Given the administration's history, I'd guess that it will put on the big show as soon as its political self- preservation is at stake. Certainly the White House's priorities are clear enough. It has guarded the records of Dick Cheney's energy task force and the S.E.C. investigation of Harken far more zealously than war plans that might endanger the lives of the so-called real Americans who will have to fight Saddam. [read more]
Leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq, saying the administration has neither adequately prepared for military action nor made the case that it is needed. [read more]
RELATIONS between the United States and Saudi Arabia have deteriorated so far that the Saudi Arabians are no longer considered allies, senior diplomatic sources said yesterday. [read more]
Wierd Plastic Surgery
I was born a cute Jewish-American guy. Who knew I'd get addicted to plastic surgery, face accusations of fathering three children, and become America's Most Ignored Sideshow?
Even at this young age, I latched onto the current Hot Celebrity and became a Cher look-alike without even needing the make-up [read more]
A pointless gabfest at Potemkin Village in Waco
The President's Economic Forum held here Tuesday raises the question, "By how much don't they get it?"
The range of opinion at this shindig went from A to B. This wasn't a forum, it was a pep rally. Sis- Boom-Bah City for the old cheerleader. President George W. Bush said Baylor University "put on a good show." Got to agree. It was one of the most sophisticated phony political events I have ever witnessed. [read more]
thanks to SmirkingChimp.com
Wacko In Waco: The Brunch Bushians Drink The Kool-Aid
At the behest of their charismatic leader, the cult members gathered in Waco, a hot, dusty town on the flat, featureless central Texas plain. They had been summoned to hear an endless series of droning sermons from the leader himself and his fellow fanatics.
Thunderously denouncing all doubters, all those who didn't believe as the cult members did, the speakers put forward a bizarre religious vision, one that no sane person could accept. As the hours passed, the group became more and more isolated from the real world until it was incapable of dealing with it. [read more]
thanks to SmirkingChimp.com
When I saw the picture of Bush at Mt. Rushmore, something snapped. How dare the Resident associate himself with real Presidents? I just couldn't look at that picture without doing something about it. My apologies to Alfred.
Or — how about...
An evening of CelloBop with Gideon Freudmann.
The sound archive of Gideon's show is up. Zoe took over 200 pictures and the picture archive will be up later. She has a lot of winnowing to do.
There is nothing like a bunch of friends in your living room exploring music together — if you like music.
Zoe and I will be going down in the morning to pick up a friend of Zoe's mom flying in from the East Coast. I'll be back.
We normaly webcast TestingTesting on Monday nights. Tonight will be the exception. Tonight we will be webcasting, from my living room, a guest we have been trying to get for a year and a half. His name is Gideon Freudmann and his instrument is an electric cello with a digital sampler. He is from Massachussets and only gets out to the Great Northwet once a year. Thursday was the only night we could get him so Thursday night it is.
He can play a phrase and capture it with the digital sampler which will play it back while he plays over it building up layers of sound. He does this live. No prerecording. He plays with himself, so to speak. Amazing music — it's hard to classify. Gideon calls his music cellobop. You can hear some music clips on his website CelloBop. Click on in at 7pm (pacific) for some great music.
Ed Headrick, father of the modern Frisbee and designer of Wham-O's first "professional model" flying disc, has died. He was 78. [read more]
A frisbee story. In January, 1996, my brother Michael died. I wrote a piece about this experience. (It is one of the oldest pages on this web site.) This is taken from that piece. It was during the memorial we had for Michael and my brother Roger was up at the front of the room talking about Michael.
And at the end of his speech he explained the frisbee hanging on the wall. When Michael had his gallery, Michael, Steve and Roger would play frisbee on their breaks. "Michael was a frisbeetarian. They don't believe in heaven or hell. They believe that when you die your soul just gets stuck up on the roof." Then he threw the frisbee to Steve who threw it back. Then Roger said "And now there is someone new." Then he threw the frisbee to Michael's son Joshua who then threw it back.
Wall Street and White House Crooks
Bush defies belief
The world's largest Baptist university was both an appropriate and unfortunate location for the Bush administration to pick for this week's summit on the US economy. To his detractors, the choice of Baylor University in Waco, Texas - half an hour's drive from President Bush's Crawford ranch - reinforces the image of a president too lazy to stray far from his holiday home even for a serious issue such as the economic situation. [read more]
Today, in its Waco economic forum, the Bush administration will try to convince the country that everything is under control — that the economy is mending, that "shady" business practices are no longer a problem. To that end a carefully chosen audience will listen to speeches by administration officials and selected models of corporate probity. Among the speakers announced last week was John T. Chambers, C.E.O. of Cisco Systems.
They really don't get it, do they? One could hardly have picked a better example of what's wrong with the administration's whole approach. [read more]
Alarm bells are starting to ring over the creditworthiness of US life insurers as the extent of their exposure to many troubled companies becomes clear. [read more]
654 Cedd founded a Celtic style community at Othona, built his Cathedral of St Peters on the foundations of the Roman fort and was consecrated Bishop of Essex. [read more]
thanks to plep
This website tabulates the illnesses of American Presidents and other notable people. Both laypersons and physicians will find it interesting. [read more]
thanks to plep
War Against Some Terrorists
"The Afghan people will wait a little longer for all the help they have been promised," the local district officer in Maiwind muttered to me a few hours later. "We believe the Americans want to help us. They promised us help. They have a little longer to prove they mean this. After that ..." He didn't need to say more. Out at Maiwind, in the oven-like grey desert west of Kandahar, the Americans do raids, not aid.
Even when the US military tries to bend its hand to a little humanitarian work, the Western NGOs (non-governmental organisations working with the UN) prefer to keep their distance. As a British NGO worker put it with devastating frankness in Kandahar: "When there is a backlash against the Americans, we want a clear definition between us and them." You hear that phrase all the time in Afghanistan. "When the backlash comes..."
It is already coming. The Americans are being attacked almost every night. There have been three shootings in Kandahar, with an American officer wounded in the neck near the airport two weeks ago. American troops can no longer dine out in Kandahar's cafés. Today, US forces are under attack in Khost province. Two Afghan auxiliaries were killed and five American soldiers wounded near the Pakistan border at the end of July. [read more]
thanks to also not found in nature
Afghanistan is on the Brink of Another Disaster
The garden was overgrown, the roses scrawny after a day of Kandahar heat, the dust in our eyes, noses, mouth, fingernails. But the message was straightforward. "This is a secret war," the Special Forces man told me. "And this is a dirty war. You don't know what is happening." And of course, we are not supposed to know. In a "war against terror", journalists are supposed to keep silent and rely on the good guys to sort out the bad guys without worrying too much about human rights.
How many human rights did the mass killers of 11 September allow their victims? You are either with us or against us. Whose side are you on? But the man in the garden was worried. He was not an American. He was one of the "coalition allies", as the Americans like to call the patsies who have trotted after them into the Afghan midden. "The Americans don't know what to do here now," he went on. "Their morale in Afghanistan is going downhill – though there's no problem with the generals running things in Tampa. They're still gung-ho. But here the soldiers know things haven't gone right, that things aren't working. Even their interrogations went wrong". Brutally so, it seems. [read more]
Leaks and lies
If George W. Bush bothered to turn on C-SPAN and watch the recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Iraq, he might have learned he has a problem—not with Senate Democrats, but with Senate Republicans. As various experts testified about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein (actually, the possible threat), the appropriate U.S. response, and what obligations the United States might be stuck with after a military attack on Iraq, at least two key GOPers, Senators Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel, expressed doubts about the rush to war and seemed to be signaling "whoaaa" to the White House. And the two joined with Democrat Joe Biden, the committee chairman, in saying often that the White House had promised them it would not strike Iraq either before the November elections or without consulting Congress. This was a piece of Washington theater, with influential senators publicly laying down a marker—and trying to box Bush in. Lugar is essentially the ranking Republican on the committee, now that Jesse Helms is sidelined due to health problems; Hagel is a Vietnam combat hero with McCain-ish credibility on military topics. [read more]
MORE DELAYS: IRAQ NOW SAYS U.S. MUST PUBLISH "INTENT TO ATTACK" NOTICE IN BAGHDAD PAPER
A confusing knot of new Iraqi regulations that require "non-resident aggressors" to obtain hundreds of federal and provincial pre-invasion permits and licenses will further delay any attack on Saddam Hussein, said frustrated U.S. officials who have also been told they must publish an "Intent to Overthrow" notice in an Iraqi newspaper of record.
"I'm starting to think all the hassle is just not worth it," complained U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has been shuttling back and forth between Washington and the Iraqi consulate in Paris trying to get the appropriate paperwork. "We have to get temporary military lodging permits, heavy equipment usage permits, waivers from provincial archaeological commissions, you name it." [read more]
PHISH returns to the stage after an extended hiatus for four concerts beginning with a three-set concert at Madison Square Garden in NewYork City on December 31, 2002. Following that show, they will perform three nights at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia, January 2, 3 and 4, 2003. The band plans to schedule additional tour dates later in 2003 and will likely record an album sometime next year as well. [read more]
thanks to MetaFilter
He wasn't my king
Elvis also signifies the foul way so many black writers and performers, such as Little Richard, were treated by the music industry. The enduring image of Elvis is a constant reflection of society's then refusal to accept anything other than the non- threatening and subservient negro: Sammy Davies Jnr and Nat King Cole. The Elvis myth to this day clouds the true picture of rock'n'roll and leaves its many originators without due recognition. So what is left for black people to celebrate? How he admirably borrowed our songs, attitude and dance moves? [read more]
How to manipulate a market for fun and profit
THE diamond invention -- the creation of the idea that diamonds are rare and valuable, and are essential signs of esteem -- is a relatively recent development in the history of the diamond trade. Until the late nineteenth century, diamonds were found only in a few riverbeds in India and in the jungles of Brazil, and the entire world production of gem diamonds amounted to a few pounds a year. In 1870, however, huge diamond mines were discovered near the Orange River, in South Africa, where diamonds were soon being scooped out by the ton. Suddenly, the market was deluged with diamonds. The British financiers who had organized the South African mines quickly realized that their investment was endangered; diamonds had little intrinsic value -- and their price depended almost entirely on their scarcity. The financiers feared that when new mines were developed in South Africa, diamonds would become at best only semiprecious gems. [read more]
thanks to MetaFilter
For millenniums, the Andes hid a spectacular secret. But in May, a Virginia nursery owner, Michael Kovach, stumbled across the treasure, an orchid with an enormous magenta and purple blossom that measured half a foot across and perched on a stem a full foot high. [read more]
thanks to follow me here...
Concentrations of microscopic plants that comprise the foundation of the ocean's food supply have fallen during the past 20 years as much as 30 percent in northern oceans, according to a satellite checkup of planetary health. [read more]
thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!
The UN from Qana to Jenin
So an evidence of an Israeli soldier clearly affirms allegations of human rights organisations and refute the claims of the Israeli Government. The report presented by Kofi Annan is unreasonably biased in favour of Israel, at least on this crucial point. Why? To understand that, we'll have to go six years back in time. It's an obvious link; strange that nobody seems to remember it. Amazing how quickly things are forgotten when they contradict our mental set.
The Massacre of Qana [read more]
Offensive, Murderous and Righteous
Clearly, seen through Israeli eyes, Sharon is the right man for the job. He is the embodiment of everything Israel is about. He is offensive, murderous and righteous. Sharon has proved once again that he acts as a self-sufficient Iron Wall. The only real question remaining is whether we want to live in a world in which Israel, a criminally offensive state, is accepted amongst nations. [read more]
Terror trial may put Israel in the dock
Handcuffed and in a brown prison uniform, but looking energetic and in high spirits, Israel's most famous Palestinian detainee, Marwan Barghouti, made his first public appearance yesterday since he was arrested near Ramallah in April.
Cameras, reporters, and security men scrummed around in the small courtroom before the judge entered as Mr Barghouti shouted that the uprising would be successful. [read more]
War Against the Constitution
Tom Tomorrow is pissed — as we all should be.
An American touted by Attorney General John Ashcroft as a significant terrorism figure with plans to detonate a radioactive bomb is probably a "small fish" with no ties to al-Qaida cell members in the United States, law enforcement officials said.
The FBI's investigation has produced no evidence that the man, Jose Padilla, 31, who used the name Abdullah al Muhajir after converting to Islam in 1992 or 1993, had begun preparations for an attack and little reason to believe that he had any support from al-Qaida to direct such a plot, one of the officials said on condition of anonymity.
Okay, I'm a little pissed off this morning.
Do you get it yet? Do you begin to understand the implications here, when an American citizen can be arbitrarily declared a terrorist, held indefinitely as enemy combatant--with no evidence to support the charges? [read more]
Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision
Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be "enemy combatants" has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace.
Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants. [read more]
thanks to This Modern World
A two-mile-high "brown haze" of human-generated soot and greenhouse gases is blanketing Asia, threatening hundreds of thousands of lives and altering rainfall patterns, scientists warn today. [read more]
We are the Space Invaders
VISION for 2020 is a mission statement of the U.S. Space Command which was published in 1997.1 Since 1997, it has been joined by further documents fleshing out more details of the plan, such as a "Long Range Plan". (Note the date, 2020, which gives a time scale for our concerns.)
Vision for 2020 sees outer space under the unilateral control of the United States and filled with weapons able to maintain this control and also able to attack the earth below. The stated purpose is "dominating space" to "protect U.S. interests and investment" (perhaps not so very lofty). This involves "control of space", meaning "access to space, freedom of operations within space, and an ability to deny others the use of space", and also "global engagement", which is "the application of precision force from, to, and through space" as "an active warfighter" with "space-based earth strike weapons". Apparently, then, we are all meant to live not only under constant U.S. surveillance, but under constant threat of violence from a blanket of space weapons — most of us would consider this an indignity too great to be supported. [read more]
The Bad Taste is Timeless while Good Taste is Mere Fad Department
Here are the pictures and you can see the colors available. Each "Ornament" is approximately 8" long and 5" wide. The rubber ones are made of a thick hard vulcanized rubber that can take a beating. We also carry Pure Brass Ballz and Aluminum Nutz. All have a hole at the top of them that you can secure it to the undercarriage of your truck, car, buggy, and even motorcycles. They look extremely life-like and the detail is amazing!
But wait! There's more!
Truck Nutz™ are a high-quality, novelty, automotive accessory that hang from any bumper and let folks show the world their Nutz. [read more]
both thanks to MetaFilter
Zoe came over around 1:30 this morning and we watched for about an hour. I didn't keep real close count, but we saw around 40 meteors. Not as spectacular as last November's Leonids, where I saw 121 in a 27 minute period (with a couple of fireballs.) But definitely worth watching. We're easy to please on the Island.
It was a perfect night. Cool and clear. We are far enough away from the mainland lights that we can clearly see the Milky Way. There sure are a lot of stars out there!
Work, family matters, and shooting stars have kept my blog entries down. I have some very tasteful links lined up...when I wake up. Nighty, night.
The Renewed Israeli Occupation
On January 9 we convened a conference on war crimes in a big hall in Tel-Aviv. Several professors of international law and two senior (retired) army officers were on the panel. One of the speakers was a war hero, air force Colonel Yig'al Shohat, who had been shot down over Egypt and lost a leg. In a voice trembling with emotion, he called upon his comrades, the combat pilots, to refuse to obey illegal orders, such as bombarding civilian neighborhoods.
All the TV and radio stations and the two major newspapers ignored the conference, to which they were invited. It was clear that all of the enlisted media had decided to suppress the issue of war crimes.
That became quite clear when we submitted to Kol Israel, the state-run radio network, a paid ad, informing soldiers about their duty to refuse "manifestly illegal orders" - literally repeating the wording of the judgment of the military court following the Kafr Kassem massacre of 1956. Kol Israel refused to broadcast it. We asked the Supreme Court to order the Broadcasting Authority to air the ad, but the court decided that it was unable to do so.
So we decided to take direct action. We distributed among the soldiers a pocket manual, setting out the prohibitions of the Geneva Convention, which was signed by Israel. Among them: Executions without trial (called "liquidations"), shooting of unarmed civilians, torture, prevention of medical treatment, killing the wounded (called "verification of death"), starvation, deportation. [read more]
The IDF in Nablus
A recently released US Aid funded nutritional assessment indicates that acute and chronic malnutrition rates of Palestinian children under 5 have reached emergency levels. Some 22.5 percent of children suffer moderate or severe acute or chronic malnutrition, and one fifth suffer moderate or severe anemia.
The study, designed by Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health, surveyed nutrition levels, availability of food in the market and household consumption, and found that the factors affecting the dangerous rise in malnutrition directly relates to Israeli imposed movement restrictions and the dismal economic situation in the occupied territories.
Major food shortages were caused primarily by Israeli imposed road closures, checkpoints, and curfews, while the economic situation and subsequent loss in purchasing power was the main factor inhibiting people's ability to buy food. Fifty-six percent of surveyed families indicated that they had been forced to decrease the amount of food consumed for more than one day in the previous two week period.
This situation is not the result of a natural disaster or a lack of natural resources, it is a result of Israeli government sanctioned policies implemented by an occupying power against civilians, a government which is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, totaling some five billion annually.
These policies are an integral part of the 35 year long Israeli occupation. What the nutritional assessment illustrates clearly is that the Israeli occupation is more than a soldier with a gun - it is a system of control that impacts every aspect of the lives of three million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 53 percent of whom are children. [read more]
'It's gone beyond hostility'
Ever since the occupation of the territories began, the settlers of Hebron have been noteworthy for their militancy, their racist hatred against Palestinian residents of the city and the violent contempt that they and their children demonstrate toward the rule of law and every person in uniform who acts in its name. [read more]
Christian Coalition latches onto Israel