Saturday, June 04, 2005

Space Wars

From the Houston Chronicle comes this (via a Free Republic link)report by the American Academy of Arts ans Sciences:

Experts warn U.S. of space isolation
America could alienate nations by pushing military and planetary exploration plans
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

The United States is in jeopardy of isolating itself from allies and adversaries alike if it forges ahead with reported plans to militarize space and pursue a go-it-alone, deep-space exploration policy, a team of experts warned Friday.

"This is a pivotal moment for U.S. space policy," said Martin Malin, who directs a project for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences called Reconsidering the Rules of Space.

Mr. Carreau describes the discussions during recent teleconference sponsored by the Academy. He states that participating experts are categorizing the current administration's plans for returning to the moon, further exploration of Mars, and deep space destinations as 'too costly', and one "[ ]questioned the willingness of the American public to shoulder the expense of space exploration alone". Also, "[ ]another participant in the academy's assessment, warned that the United States could find its future in space in jeopardy without a deeper public debate about the program's direction". The use of terms like " Global suspicion " and " The nation's isolationist policy " in relation to the United States failing to consult with partners in the International Space Station project seems to me to be an indication of where this study is headed. Go read the whole thing, then look at the project statement itself. Excerpt:
The project has facilitated discussions between international security experts and leading stakeholders in both commercial development and scientific advancement in space. The project is also producing a series of papers, intended to help inform public discussion and to induce a further examination of US official policies. These papers will consider the implications of physics for space security; the interaction of military, scientific, and commercial activities in space; Chinese and Russian perspectives on US space plans; and the possible elements of a more comprehensive space security system.

Also note:
The Reconsidering the Rules of Space project is supported by a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
I have mixed feeling about military in space. On the one hand, from my sci-fi reading background, the idea of a 'Space Navy' brings back fond pseudo-memories, and I think that would be a good and necessary thing. On the other hand, carrying our present conflicts into space would probably not be so good. On the gripping hand, if conflicts are to be carried into space, then the United States should be pre-eminent!

Update: (06/05/05 12:10AM CDT) For those interested, here's a year old article on The U.S. Air Force and plans for a future space war. The Transformation Flight Plan document mentioned is available here in PDF format.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

“Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go!”

Or - You Can't Go Home Again

Culture in the Age of Blogging, a Terry Teachout column appearing in Commentary Magazine is informative, insightful, thought-provoking, scary, and affirming, all at the same time. In it, he describes some history, development, and cultural trends of blogs, as experienced by his blog, About Last Night.


This is a blog about the arts in New York City and elsewhere, a diary of Terry's life as a working critic, with additional remarks and reflections by Laura Demanski (otherwise known as Our Girl in Chicago), who is also, among other things, a critic. It’s about all the arts, not just one or two. Clement Greenberg, the great art critic, believed that "in the long run there are only two kinds of art: the good and the bad. This difference cuts across all other differences in art. At the same time, it makes all art one….the experience of art is the same in kind or order despite all differences in works of art themselves." We feel the same way, which is why we write about so many different things. We think many people—maybe most—approach art with a similarly wide-ranging appreciation. By writing each day about our own experiences as consumers and critics, we hope to create a meeting place in cyberspace for arts lovers who are curious, adventurous, and unafraid of the unfamiliar

He explains the theme of the blog, and also why he avoids political issues there. What initially drew me to this article (besides the link so generously provided by Instapundit) was the discussion he has about the culture wars here in the United States, Specifically, the relationship between blogs and those culture wars. He draws these parallels:

Most artblogs, by contrast, cover only one art form—literary fiction, say, or classical music—and thus tend to have a specialized readership. In this respect they resemble political blogs—like Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/), InstaPundit, and Power Line (http://www.powerlineblog.com/ )—which in turn resemble existing political magazines, being written from a clearly defined point of view. (Daily Kos is left-wing, InstaPundit moderately libertarian, Power Line conservative.) And even as political blogs appear to be read for the most part by people of like sympathies, so most artblogs attract readers interested in the specific form they cover.

As a publishing phenomenon, blogs may strike some observers as reminiscent of a development first observed in the early 60’s, when “niche” magazines began to supplant mass-circulation titles like Life and the Saturday Evening Post. But bloggers are not simply imitating the successful marketing strategies of yesterday’s editors. Rather, their work is indicative of a sea change in American culture, one that has been accelerated in recent years by the web-based information technologies and “new media” that are now an integral part of the lives of most middle-class Americans.

Goodbye, Common Culture

The simplest description of this change is also the starkest one: the common culture of widely shared values and knowledge that once helped to unite Americans of all creeds, colors, and classes no longer exists. In its place, we now have a “balkanized” group of subcultures whose members pursue their separate, unshared interests in an unprecedented variety of ways.

The idea of a common American culture is so central to the American idea itself that it was long taken for granted. Just as young people pledged allegiance to the American flag in school each day, so they studied the same historical events, read many of the same books, heard the same popular songs on radio, and watched the same movies and TV programs. No one, whether in or out of school, seriously attempted to deny that our country’s cultural heritage was that of the Judeo-Christian West, and more specifically of what Winston Churchill called “the English-speaking peoples.” Though immigrants from other regions were (mostly) welcomed to our shores, it was assumed that their children, at least, would learn English and adopt Western ways, and so become full-fledged Americans.

At the same time, Western culture remained open to non-Western influence, and America in particular became known for its tendency to absorb immigrant folkways, incorporating them into the common culture and in the process giving them a distinctively American slant. This is the true, now-forgotten meaning of the melting-pot metaphor coined by the playwright Israel Zangwill in 1908: America not only changed its newest citizens, but was changed by them in return. “The real American has not yet arrived,” proclaimed the hero of Zangwill’s The Melting Pot, an idealistic Russian Jew who aspires to compose an “American symphony.” “He is only in the crucible, I tell you—he will be the fusion of all races, perhaps the coming superman.”

Regardless of his comparison with political blogs, Mr. Teachout's column deals with the Arts (and some say that politics IS an art, not a science). He notes the balkanized groups of subcultures and compares that to the nature of the blogosphere today, as an indicator of overall American culture. As I read this article, I found it difficult to keep in mind that Mr. Teachout was speaking of Art, and mentally expanded his focus into American life in general. His analysis seems to fit admirably.

To be sure, I had not changed my mind about the significance of Western culture, or the dangers of the radical relativism preached by the academics of the 80’s. But something else had happened in the meantime: like a baseball game called on account of rain, America’s culture war was called on account of obsolescence.

“We do not nowadays refute our predecessors, we pleasantly bid them goodbye,” George Santayana wrote in Character and Opinion in the United States. In such manner did Americans, contrary to all expectation, bid goodbye to the common culture that had once united them. Indeed, they seemed almost indifferent to—or unaware of—its collapse

Well spoken. I'm left wondering just how accurate is my extrapolation of his Arts analysis into overall American culture, the life beyond the Arts.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Damn! Just Damn!

OK, I was pissed at the Newsweek incident, you know, the one where they printed an erroneous report of Koran desecration? Yeah, THAT Newsweek. So we're told that 12, or 14, or 16 people had been killed in Afghanistan in rioting over this. Maybe, maybe not. Some say (no, I'm not gonna bother looking them up and linking) that riots were over other provocations. Maybe, maybe not. Our troops were put at risk, regardless.

Various remedies were discussed throughout the blogosphere, with little agreement. I even posted a list of Newsweek advertisers gleaned from the pages of a recent issue. But still, I found it a little hard to get really worked up about it, just a slow burn as I added it to the growing list.

Now I find this item from Afghanistan, posted by Firepower 5 at his blog, Firepower Forward - The Cutting Edge of Freedom. Excerpt:
Privileges and Responsibilities

I've been sitting on this Newsweek issue for a little bit, trying to control what I say here.

Continuing a bizarre string of luck that continues to place me in close vicinity to infamous incidents, I caught a ride to the FOB at Ghazni on Monday. After taking care of some business, I found myself sitting in the chow hall watching Fox News. Of course the story of the day was Newsweek's apology for their story on the desecration of the Koran that they now said may not have been accurate.


I watched the video that Fox was running while they concurrently talked about the story. "That's Ghazni!" said the Operations Officer of the unit that is stationed here. Sure enough, it was Ghazni City, just over the wall from where we were sitting. Rocks were being thrown at policemen and Afghani troops who were answering with automatic weapons fire. Cars were in flames and buildings were being looted.

"We [Newsweek] regret that we got any part of our story wrong...".

"That's Rocky!" excalimed the Operations Officer. General Rahkim (sp) was the Chief of Police in Gahzni. On the television, his image staggered forward a few paces, began to fall, and was caught by two of his policemen. "They brought him in yesterday," the Ops officer told me "the bullet went traight through him, back to chest. The medics managed to save him."

"...and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence..."

From this link it seems that four policemen were killed in Ghazni:

The deadly Afghanistan protests had broken out May 10 in the eastern city of Jalalabad, and May 12 spread to 10 of 34 provinces in Afghanistan, including Kabul, the capital. Police May 11-13 fired on demonstrators in several incidents across the country, resulting in the majority of the deaths. Four policemen May 13 were killed by demonstrators in Ghazni province. Protests were held May 13 in other Islamic areas, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Palestinian territories.

Go read Firepower 5's posting. It puts a personal face on this incident.

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So Much To See, So Little Time

One of life's perverse realities is that when you have time to travel, you don't have the money; when you have the money, you don't have the time! Very similar to the fact that youth is wasted on the young.

I love to travel, but have not done near enough. I ran across this cool little site that will rate you on your travel experience. Here's what mine looks like:

Your Travel Profile:

You Are Extremely Well Traveled in the Western United States (89%)
You Are Extremely Well Traveled in the Southern United States (85%)
You Are Well Traveled in the Midwestern United States (50%)
You Are Well Traveled in the Northeastern United States (43%)
You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Scandinavia (40%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Canada (20%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in the United Kingdom (13%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Latin America (7%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Southern Europe (7%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Western Europe (7%)
You Are Untraveled in Africa (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Asia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Australia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Eastern Europe (0%)
You Are Untraveled in New Zealand (0%)
You Are Untraveled in the Middle East (0%)

So, how well traveled are you?

This was a fun thing to look at, but it lacks a little in the execution. For instance, I spent some time in Sweden, but not in Stockholm, so that doesn't get counted. I have traveled over much of Eastern Oregon and Washington, but have not been to Portland or Seattle. Same with New Orleans and Louisiana, Tampa and Florida. Oh, well, it's free and easy, and I'm not being paid for the results.

(Thanks to John Watson for the link)

Update: Ouch! This one hurts! Try this one, too, link courtesy Villainous Company. Me:
Spiteful Loner
You are 57% Rational, 14% Extroverted, 71% Brutal, and 42% Arrogant.
You are the Spiteful Loner, the personality type that is most likely to go on a shooting rampage. You are a rational person and tend to hold emotions in very low-esteem; not only that, but you are also rather introverted, meaning you probably bury any emotions you feel deep inside yourself. Combine these traits with your hatred of others and your brutality, and it seems that you would be quite likely to shoot innocent people in a rampage. Not only that, but you are also a very humble person--not a braggart at all--meaning you could possibly have low-self esteem. This is only yet one more incentive to go on a shooting rampage, because you wouldn't care if you died as a result. Granted, you probably haven't gone on a shooting rampage and probably never will, but all the motivations are there. In conclusion, your personality is defective because you are too introverted, brutal, insecure, and rather unemotional. No wonder no one hangs around you, you morbid, cold-hearted freak!

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Cryogenics and Gas Mileage (Updated)

(Updated to include Ceramics at bottom)
From Oklahoma City KFOR-TV Channel 4 (via a Free Republic link) comes this story of fantastic gas mileage that sounds really cool. No, I mean really, REALLY cool.

There is a man who fills up his tank once every two months. One tank of gas, literally, lasts him two months. He is freezing the price of gas by freezing something else.
David Hutchison is a Cryogenics expert. He built this Cryo-Process himself. He runs a business out of his garage where he cryogenically tempers all kinds of metals. He submerges them in a frozen tank of nitrogen vapor that is 300 degrees below zero.
David says, “During that time, at minus 300 degrees, the molecules slow down. Then they reorganize themselves. That's when the actual chemical change happens.”
A hybrid Honda typically gets really great gas mileage anyway, around 50 miles to the gallon, but David Hutchison's cryogenically tempered engine has been known to get close to 120 miles a gallon.

Now I haven't been involved in metallurgy since my days in powdered metal technology that ended 15 years ago, and had not previously heard anything about this idea. The only methods available to reduce dependence on foreign oil are to increase the domestic supply, and/or to reduce consumption. Following some links provided in the commentary, I did some reading to see what information I could find on increasing gas mileage. First stop was Cold Facts, a quarterly publication of the Cryogenic Society of America, Inc. (CSA):

The Tough Questions: Does It Work? How?

There is a lot of material available extolling the effects of cryogenic treatment on a whole range of materials, from tool steel to nylon
stockings. Testimonials abound. Yet there is also a scepticism and even a feeling that the whole thing is "black magic". As an
article in the June 1987 issue of Popular Science asks, "If cryogenic treatment is so good--and relatively cheap--why
isn't it universally applied?" The magazine answered, "For one thing, it doesn't always work; and when it will work
[it] is not always predictable."

No mention of improved gas mileage there. Moving right along, the next stop is Diversified Cryogenics, a commercial enterprise offering a number of services, among them some relating to motorsports.

Cryogenic tempering is changing the face of motorsports!

Virtually all engine parts respond to cryogenic treatment. Treated piston rings seal better against treated cylinder walls reducing blow-by and increasing horsepower. Cylinder blocks do not distort when subjected to the heat and vibration of racing so cylinder bores stay straight and smooth. Aluminum pistons and cylinder heads resist detonation longer. Crankshafts and connecting rods have longer service life without breaking. Camshafts, bearings, timing gears, valves and valve springs, timing chains and tappets all last significantly longer under severe conditions. Bottom line: cryogenically-treated racing engines last three to five times longer.

They make a good case for improved durability, but no mention of improved gas mileage. Next stop is Cyrogenics International, another commercial enterprise supplying Automotive Cryogenic Treatment Applications. Here we finally find some claims of increaserd gas mileage, sort of, since it's in the form of testimonials rather than product claims. The sourcing is not helpful (italics mine).


Eliminated breakage of automotive components. Axles, gears, yokes, etc. "After CI treatment I couldn't break my axle, even on purpose!"
Source - A champion drag racer.

Cryogenics International treated spark plugs showed an increase from 9 to 25 horsepower on a V-8 racing engine and also increased gas mileage.

Source - A racing engine builder.

To this point, all references to automobile engines have been in the competitive arena. The trend continues as we visit 300Below, again with a testimonial, but this one is identified:

"Not only did (my 1996 Suzuki GSX-R 1100 motor) surpass my expectations, it blew them out of the water. I noticed improvements in compression, fuel economy, engine vibration and transmission shifting. I can't wait to freeze everything I own."

David Stanton
Endurance and Formula USA Team Ride

Other than testimonials, I was unable to find any information that indicated that improved gas mileage would result from employing a cryogenicly treated automobile engine. Commenters in the original Free Republic thread were very skeptical of the mileage benefits of this treatment.

Update: (6/1/05 12:30 AM CDT) I was really surprised at the amount of hits I've received from people doing Google searches on David+Hutchison+cryogenics.

Update: (06/02/05 3:30 PM CDT) Patterico's Pontifications has commentary on the use of ceramics in internal combustion engines. Read the comments, also. He provides a link for those interested in ceramic basics. Is this the way to go to improve efficiency? For those interested, Rob Wolf posted some notes on heat transfer work he did years ago, and mentions ceramic coatings. Ibis Associates, Inc. has a listing of papers and publications that are not, unfortunately, available online. More info available here, here (free trial sign up required to get full article), and more basic info here.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Everybodys Talking, Who's Listening?

In my post of early this morning I posted an excerpt from an Orson Scott Card column titled The Riots of the Faithful (Emphasis mine):

The press isn't running for office. To say that the media culture is unpatriotic isn't a political ploy, it's an obvious observation. Oh, if my words actually mattered to them, they'd howl and scream about my illegitimate attack. But in private, they are perfectly happy to mock patriotism in all its forms. They're only patriotic when somebody says they aren't.

They are loyal to a community -- but it's not America.

It's Smartland. The nation of the newsmedia people. That's where they live. Not in America. These newspeople generally don't even know anybody, apart from "sources," who serves America in the military. Smartland consists of a very different crowd.

Now from L. Brent Bozell III at the National Ledger, in a column titled The American Media Believes the Worst About the American Military , comes this(Emphasis mine):

There is an unspoken but real impulse in today's media to see themselves as "independent" of America, even above America, not so much because they are superior to America but because America is so egregiously flawed. It is their role to shed light on America's failings. They're not keen at being seen as Americans. They choke at the idea of wearing flag pins. ABC boss David Westin tried so hard to be above America that he wanted to stay neutral on the question of whether our Pentagon is a legitimate target for terrorists.

It explains why so many reporters are willing to believe the absolute worst about our current government and its motives. So disdainful have they become that they are silent when fellow journalists claim -- without a shred of evidence -- that American soldiers are engaging in targeting and assassinating journalists hostile to America's foreign policy aims.

(Thanks to Andi of Andi's World for the link)

Bill Roggio, posting at The Winds of Change on the NY Times piece revealing CIA movements:

If you are al Qaeda, and you are interested in interdicting or attacking CIA air services that transport captured high value targets, how would you go about finding out how the CIA is moving these prisoners around? Would you:

  • a) Attempt to penetrate the CIA and dig into the inner workings of these operations.
  • b) Invest heavily in paying off workers at local airports and in charter airlines across the Middle East and Asia to provide intelligence on suspicious flight activities.
  • c) Read the New York Times.

If you answered "c", you are correct.

Unfortunately, things have not changed in many years, as witness the following, a Media Research Center offering of an interview appearing in the April,1989 Mediawatch (scroll to item 4):

A reprint from the April 1989 MediaWatch, a monthly newsletter then-published by the MRC:

Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace Agree
Reporters First, Americans Second

In a future war involving U.S. soldiers what would a TV reporter do if he learned the enemy troops with which he was traveling were about to launch a surprise attack on an American unit? That's just the question Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree Jr, as moderator of PBS' Ethics in America series, posed to ABC anchor Peter Jennings and 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace. Both agreed getting ambush footage for the evening news would come before warning the U.S. troops.
"Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?" Ogletree asked. Without hesitating Wallace responded: "No, you don't have higher duty... you're a reporter." This convinces Jennings, who concedes, "I think he's right too, I chickened out."

Wallace and Jennings were speaking as reporters in a hypothetical situation, but that attitude has permeated the newsmedia today. They will sacrifice anything for the story, and in many cases will not even consider it a sacrifice. Some are willing to use any materials available to push the 'story', even if it means lives at risk (NY Times). Some will manufacture materials use manufactured materials to push the 'story' (CBS). Some will use poorly sourced information to push the 'story' (Newsweek). Some will resort to out and out lies to push a 'story' (Jordan, Foley - not use opinions, but make allegations when there is creditable information rebutting those allegations)

Granted, not ALL publishers, editors and reporters hold this blatant anti-American attitude. Some perform admirably. From the same report referenced above, item 3 comes an item from just prior to the start of the Afghanistan Campaign in the GWoT :

With President Bush properly berating Congress for the leak at least one member made last week, just before the war was launched, of classified information, it’s heartening to learn that many members of the media have acted responsibly in the past few weeks and withheld military operational news of which they had learned.

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz noted that 17 news organizations knew on Friday, when their staffers were called to join the military media pool, that an attack was imminent, but none divulged the development.

Even more laudatory, more than a week before USA Today ran a front page story about how the U.S. had Green Beret and Navy SEAL commandos inside Afghanistan, Knight-Ridder had the story. But out of concern for endangering the servicemen and the operation, Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau Chief Clark Hoyt withheld the story, the Editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press disclosed this past Sunday

A good example of Intelligent reporting ethics, rather than Gotcha, Get Bush, or America is Wrong reporting.

So, who's listening? Journalism schools, what are you teaching? Veteran reporters and editors, are you mentoring your proteges correctly? Publishers, editors, what are you demanding from those that report to you? Newspaper, magazine and television consumers, what are you demanding from providers?

Update: (06/01/05 9:00 PM CDT) From NewsMax.com, an article by Phl Brennan. Excerpt (Emphasis mine):

If you think that these disclosures are an accident, or merely examples of dogged investigative journalism, you have another think coming. They're deliberate, and calculated to do as much harm as possible to the U.S. efforts to fight the war against Islamofascist terrorism.

It is treason, unadorned, and let's dare to call it that.

Chicken and the F Word (Updated)

I remember a number of years ago (OK, OK, a LOT of years ago!) there was circulated (on paper, mind you - this was BUI, Before Ubiquitous Internet) a paper detailing all of the uses of the 'F' word. It demonstrated, with rules and usage examples, how the 'F' word could be used as a noun, a verb, an adverb, etc. It also gave examples of how the word, depending on usage and inflection, could convey emotions and attitudes. No links, find it yourself.

Anyway, now Brad Lewis over at Training for Eternity offers a piece titled Poultry Without Morals. He speaks of the myriad uses for chicken (Alright now! He is talking about FOOD). Here is an excerpt:

It is staggering, when you think about it, the number of ways the average chicken can be prepared, modified, recycled and reused. It can be fried, broiled, basted, roasted, and barbecued. Truly unique among the ingredients of the world. And as everyone knows, anything that is either unidentifiable or heinously unpalatable is usually said to taste like the wonder food, chicken. It would take volumes to adequately explain the creativity with which the food service personnel manipulate this culinary delight. And as I think back on my many months overseas in support of the war effort, I believe I can say with very little uncertainty that the US Army euthanizes and consumes at least one hundred billion chickens a day.
Very funny, and oh, so true. Appropriate or no, reading this paragraph brought to mind the theme mentioned at top. Go read the whole thing.

Update: Hmmm, seems Brad left out sliced, diced, and fricaseed, boiled and baked, stewed and simmered, sauteed and... I'm sure there's more.

Update: (06/01/05 4:07 PM CDT) I was correct, there ARE more things that can be done with chicken, other than those listed above.
From Denver's Channel 7 comes this report:

Senior Chicken Prank Runs Afowl Of Law
Costumed Chickens Let Loose In High School Hallways

POSTED: 11:22 am MDT June 1, 2005

BOULDER, Colo. -- The principal at a Boulder high school said that he has identified one suspect in a senior prank that involved live chickens and is looking for others involved in the fowl deed.

School officials found 39 chickens dressed in red vests and capes running in the halls of Fairview High School Tuesday morning. With the help of police and students, the birds were herded into the vice principal's office until the Humane Society of Boulder could take them to the shelter.

Oh, the inhumanity! Read the whole thing. Sounds like fried chicken tonight.

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Heat Up the Melting Pot

In a post I wrote two days ago concerning Dispersed Terrorism, I mentioned the porosity of our borders. I had intended my next posting on the subject to address acculturation versus multiculturality. Over the weekend I found several pieces that also addressed this issue that made very good points, and should be read in their entirety.

When I was growing up and attending public schools, I was taught that the United States was a great melting pot. That people from all over the world and of every background held a dream, that being to come to America and become an American. I was taught that the greatness of our country stemmed from that very fact, that we welcomed immigrants, and that they were assimilated into the American culture, and the contributions of all made us great. As I was taught, so I believe.

I have not yet been to visit the Statue of Liberty, so cannot attest to the words inscribed there. However, they came from the poem written by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887). Here is the text of that poem:

The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch whose flame
Is imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips.

"Give me your tired your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

At the point in our nation's history that this inscription was placed, events happened at a much slower pace than today. Travel to the United States took days, weeks, or more. Assimilation happened over a period of years, lives and generations. But assimilation DID occur. Peoples arriving here persisted in their efforts to become Americans. They studied English. They worked to support their families. They answered the call for military service when the Government asked. They participated in the political process. They anticipated a better future for their children. This process worked. The result was not a homogenous culture covering our country, like a thin soup or gruel, but was more like a hearty stew, with chunks of meats and vegetables suspended in a thick gravy. Very tasty and nutritious, but you could still distinguish individual ingredients among the distinctive American flavor. There were enclaves of decidedly ethnic and religious groups throughout the country - Italians, Germans, Jews, Irish, Chinese, and many, many others. But in the final analysis, they were still Americans, as a chunk of carrot, potato, or meat was still part of the stew. Sure, we experienced problems as the melting pot bubbled... we still to this day are attempting to come to grips with the results of our odious experience with slavery, followed by many decades of segregation and prejudice. There were regrettable periods of persecution of certain ethnic and religious groups (Mormon experiences are mentioned in the cite below). Given that, our system still worked, we were Americans first.

So, what happened?

We are now a nation divided. Any given ethnic, religious or philosophical group can and will band together and stake out their own territory, physical or intellectual or both, and practice their own brand of whatever their common interests are, to the exclusion and at the expense of all others. They reject the tradition and necessity of becoming American. Indeed, they are encouraged to reject that tradition, and to hold fast to the language and culture of their points of origin. Our Constitution, designed as a template for the smooth operation of our country, enumerating duties and responsibilities while protecting the rights of individuals, has come to be a vehicle for enabling, even exaggerating, individual and by extension, group differences. We all, as a nation, suffer the consequences.

Orson Scott Card wrote a column titled The Riots of the Faithful, wherein he talks about the dichotomy between the Muslims and other religions, addresses one of these separations, that being between the culture of the newsmedia and the balance of the nation (emphasis mine):

The press isn't running for office. To say that the media culture is unpatriotic isn't a political ploy, it's an obvious observation. Oh, if my words actually mattered to them, they'd howl and scream about my illegitimate attack. But in private, they are perfectly happy to mock patriotism in all its forms. They're only patriotic when somebody says they aren't.

They are loyal to a community -- but it's not America.

It's Smartland. The nation of the newsmedia people. That's where they live. Not in America. These newspeople generally don't even know anybody, apart from "sources," who serves America in the military. Smartland consists of a very different crowd.


They're fanatical Smartland patriots. So fanatical they don't hesitate long enough to get their facts right before running a story that seriously weakens America's position in a deadly war that has already blown up the two tallest buildings in the capital city of Smartland. Because they haven't recognized yet that Smartland only exists as a parasite, sucking the blood out of the Heartland that they have such contempt for.

The Smartland and the Heartland, two communities opposing each other. (The main theme of his column deals with the differences and opposition between Muslims and other religious groups. As always, you should read the whole column. As an aside here, the Baron at Gates of Vienna take issue with one aspect of Mr. Card's column, wondering if any Muslim can be true to their religion without being a de facto enemy of the United States. He presents good arguments, read them.)

The Elites versus the Commoners, Muslims versus Christians versus Jews versus atheists versus [insert any group here], Hispanics versus Caucasians versus Blacks versus Orientals. Suddenly the stew is not quite so tasty. The meat is chewy gristle, the carrots and potatoes hard lumps, and the gravy no longer binds the disparate ingredients into a whole.

I repeat, what happened? Why are different groups no longer being assimilated into American culture? Partly the answer lies in time and control. Today an immigrant may reach any part of our nation within hours, joining with others of the same ethnic, religious, nationalistic or political background that themselves arrived just days previous. Ingredients are being added into the melting pot faster than they can be assimilated. According to this older item (2001) there were 31 million foreign-born people in the United States. A breakdown of categories (i.e. Naturalized, Lawful Permanent Residents or Green Cards, Temporary Visitors, here under Asylum, or Illegal) is not given, however this breakdown for yearly figures is shown:

Every year, 800,000 foreign-born people enter the country legally with permits issued to them by the State Department.
About 300,000 others enter illegally.
Some 8.5 million people living in the United States, about 1 percent of the U.S. population, are illegal immigrants.
More than half of those illegal residents entered the country legally on temporary permits, but then stayed after their permits expired.

The U.S. Government attempts to control the flow of legal immigrants through the use of quotas. The failure of society to actively assimilate these immigrant has, in my opinion, rendered this quota system inadequate. We cannot or will not handle the flow. Illegal immigration has forced the issue outside of the normal system, with pressures now being felt on services and resources meant to serve the citizen population at large. By failing to exercise controls (closed borders) on the number of illegal immigrants, with judicial and legislative demands to provide these services and resources to any immigrant, regardless of legality, our government has placed an extra burden on our society. As an example, witness the large number of localities with legal requirements to provide information in multiple languages. We are, rightly and historically, an English-speaking nation. The American culture requires that these immigrants assimilate.

Robert Mandel, a high school teacher, has something to say about this phenomenon (emphasis mine):

the delicious irony

Getting back to the deadly hyphen, this is the foundation of multiculturalism. It is deadly and divisive and it's a game I don't play. I don't have African- or Mexican-, or Fill in the Blank- Americans in my classes. I don't have black, white, brown, yellow, pink, or blue students. I have kids. Some are smarter, some are funnier, some are taller, some are thinner, some are more athletic, some are harder working. The day I see my kids and see their skin color, then I no longer deserve to be in a classroom. The day I treat them differently based on their ethnicity is the day I should be fired.

I am an American. My students are Americans. We could move to China, France, or Nigeria yet we'd never be Chinese, French, nor Nigerian. Yet, immigrants from there and every other country in the world come here and are granted the most special and unique of titles: American.

It comes courtesy of the blood and sacrfice of millions, and it comes without reseravation ot qualification. And most of all, it had always better come without the deadly hyphen, for that more than anything else, will serve to destroy this great land, to sever its people, both new and old, from its past.

Mr. Mandel offers one reason for the lack of cultural assimilation. Public schools today teach multiculturalism to the next generation. Mr. Card also offers a reason - the newsmedia elite glorify multiculturalism and diversity, at the expense of American culture. He also says that:
5. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The greatest asset that Osama and his tribe have going for them is not the tantrumlike behavior of their supporters. It's the fact that the West is deeply divided, as a new religious movement -- politically correct puritanism -- is perilously close to seizing control of the governments of most of the major nations of the West.

He is correct; America cannot stand - divided. What can be done to reverse this divisive process? Multiculturalism and diversity cannot be allowed to override the overall American culture. On the other hand, it should not be eliminated altogether. I come from a long line of immigrants, from England, Scotland, Norway, and Switzerland (these I know about, others are unknown). I honor and value the heritage that I have. But first and foremost, I am an American.

First, the newsmedia must espouse the values of American culture. I place this first because the newsmedia sets the agenda for the American conversation. They are the single most influential aspect of forming American opinion, and all else flows from that opinion. To this end there must be aggressive correction of factual errors in reporting, and vigorous rebuttal of slanted, biased opinion. American opinion must be guided to more closely resemble an overall American ideal rather than that of an elite newsmedia. The Blogosphere and other alternative sources could be influential in this area by applying pressure to the established newsmedia to rethink their own agendas.

Secondly, our nation's elected leaders, from county commissioners and city aldermen through the U.S. Congress and the President, must support these American values vigorously. As American opinion changes, these changes will be reflected in our elected leaders. These leaders must provide incentive to the process of reaffirming the American culture. Our schools must return to teaching the values of the American culture. Teachers as leaders are even more important than elected officials, as the values they impart to children form the base upon which American ideals rest.

In addition to the above, illegal immigration must be controlled. Our borders must be closed so that our society is not flooded beyond its ability to assimilate all of the immigrants, and to prevent threats to our safety. Established immigration procedures allow authorities the chance to screen applicants for connections with terrorist organizations.

Given all of the above, I still firmly believe that we should welcome as many immigrants as we possibly can. They are the resource that insures American greatness. And we need to turn up the heat under the melting pot.

Update: (06/01/05 12:45PM CDT) Andi at Andi's World has posted this question:
How many terrorists are walking among us because of our unwillingness to tackle the tough issues surrounding immigration?

She asks the question in reference to this news item from World Net Daily:

A smuggling ring specializing in bringing Iranians into the U.S. over the Mexico border has been broken up in an FBI sting operation.

A 39-year-old Iranian with permanent legal residency status who is suspected of having smuggled 60 other Iranians into the U.S. was arrested Thursday in Mesa, Ariz., according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Our borders ARE going to be closed. The only question is will they be closed before, or AFTER lives are lost to actions by terrorists crossing illegally? Continued failure to close the borders will cause further setbacks in the immigrant assimilation process because of heightened suspicion and fear of immigrants in general.

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Judge Not - Words of Reason from the Left

From New Democrats Online, the DLC's Online Community, comes this article by William A. Galston:

Ever since Brown v. Board of Education, liberals have used judicial activism as a substitute for political persuasion. But we shouldn't ask judges to make laws.

It is difficult to imagine a more fundamental assault on the separation of power than this spring's shameless attacks on the judicial appointments process. With their threats to end the right of filibuster and to measure judicial nominees by political standards, Republicans like Rep. Tom DeLay and Sen. John Cornyn brought partisan warfare and violation of basic principles to a new low. Either they do not understand the essentials of our constitutional system, or their yearning for unchecked power has addled their wits and corrupted their morals. The American people have firmly rejected this Republican effort to subvert both legislative and constitutional tradition

Read the whole thing, it's well worth it.

(Thanks to Free Republic for the link)

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Monday, May 30, 2005

NY Times Still Setting Agenda Of Failure

The New York Times editorializes again, in their typical arrogant negative tone, about the recruiting 'problems' within the military. There is so much wrong about this that I am surprised that they even spelled names correctly. The link is here, requires registration to view.

I am only going to address one aspect of this editorial, leaving other, better qualified people to examine the meat. The point I want to address is one that I've touched on many times before, and that is that the mainstream media create the public agenda for this country. In talking about the fall off (is it real?) in recruiting for the military, they state:
Why this is happening is no mystery. Two years of hearing about too few troops on the ground, inadequate armor, extended tours of duty and accelerated rotations back into combat have taken their toll, discouraging potential enlistees and their parents. The citizen-soldiers of the Guard and Reserves have suddenly become full-time warriors. Nor has it helped that when abuse scandals have erupted, the Pentagon has seemed quicker to punish lower-ranking soldiers than top commanders and policy makers. This negative cycle now threatens to feed on itself. Fewer recruits will mean more stress on those now in uniform and more grim reports reaching hometowns across America.

OK, two years of hearing about negative items brought to us by the New York Times, who usually only report these negative items, and they have the gall to lay that out as if it's not their own doing? This negative cycle now threatens to feed on itself? I'm fed up and disgusted with them, and have only one comment:


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