Category Archives: History

What better serves the cause of national security?

Common Sense Budget Act sponsor Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) had some interesting things to say about government spending and security:

What better serves the cause of national security? Investment in first responders, energy independence and global nutrition … or billions that we’re still pouring into the F-22A Raptor, which was designed to outpace Soviet fighter jets?

Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense to Ronald Reagan for Manpower, Installations, and Logistics, gave more detail on the proposal in a report titled “A Realistic Defense for America”:

Without diminishing America’s ability to fight extremists, American can save $60 billion by eliminating Cold War-era weapons systems and programs designed to thwart the former Soviet Union – weapons and programs that are not useful in defending our country from extremists or the other threats we now face.

When I have Fears that I may cease to be

by John Keats

    WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
    Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
    Before high pil’d books, in charact’ry,
    Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
    When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
    And feel that I may never live to trace
    Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
    And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
    That I shall never look upon thee more,
    Never have relish in the faery power
    Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
    Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
    Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Apparently Keats died from tuberculosis (TB) in 1821. London suffered immensely from this disease in the past (killing up to 20% of the population) and there were many serious efforts to eliminate it entirely, so I find it surprising to see on the UK Coalition site that TB is spreading rapidly:

Tuberculosis is making a dramatic comeback in parts of the UK where levels of the disease are now higher than those in China and parts of India and Africa. The Tuberculosis rate has risen by 80% in London over 10 years, to reach 40 cases per 100,000. In 2001 were 7,300 cases in the whole of the UK, of which more than 3,000 were in London. Around 60% of the UK’s TB cases are people who were born abroad, and were infected it before they arrived. A study in 1995 showed that, among the homeless, levels of TB were 200 times higher than in the general population.

Perhaps even more alarming is that the disease is not being identified properly, which was also one of the problems that Keats’ faced:

A paper presented to a meeting of the British Thoracic Society showed that more than half the 121 cases of TB that arrived at an accident and emergency department in Newham were not recognised as TB, in spite of symptoms such as coughing up blood.

Vote for your king?

I find it odd that Americans would think it normal to elect a king and queen by ballot. That’s just wrong. But if you play along with it, how can anyone then get upset when a woman is elected King?

Let’s face it, if you are going to have elections, then you are allowing people to vote for their preferred candidate. Them’s the rules of democracy.

Now, if monarchies are really preferred, let’s dispense with the whole “popularity” competition nonsense from the start. MSNBC reports:

Hood College is reviewing its homecoming rules after a lesbian was crowned king, a college official says. […] Donald Miller, Hood’s student activities director, said all homecoming events will be reviewed and possibly changed. “We will look at what students want Hood’s homecoming to be,” he said.

Well, they voted didn’t they? How will you find out what they, the student body, want homecoming to be now? Go to the campus supreme court and demand a recount? Ho ho ho.

The College should acknowledge a vote, recognize that they are holding an election for a costumed and fanciful position of flair, and announce that if people care enough about this they should vote next year. Then they should celebrate the absurdity of voting for kings and queens and get on with things, not deteriorate into introspection and unenlightened devisiveness.

Incidentally, the MSNBC poll at this time shows 58% of 23973 responses say “a woman is a woman…let her run for queen”. Only 17% voted for “who cares” and there was no button to vote for “no one should be allowed to vote for kings or queens, period”.

Behavior-ling

Rafi Ron, former Israeli airports security chief, has some interesting things to say in the latest CSO magazine about the failure of profiling in security. He refers to a better system as behavior pattern recognition (BPR):

My experience at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv has led me to the conclusion that racial profiling is not effective. The major attacks at Ben Gurion Airport were carried out by Japanese terrorists in 1972 and Germans in the 1980s. [They] did not belong to any expected ethnic group. Richard Reid [known as the shoe bomber] did not fit a racial profile. Professionally as well as legally, I oppose the idea of racial profiling. So we are left with behavior, because behavior is probably the Achilles’ heel of the terrorist.

Excellent insights from someone with extensive experience on the subject. It’s just too bad he didn’t use the term “behavior-ling”. :)