A different sort of oligarch .
Jul 31st, 2004 by Ken Hagler

A dif­fer­ent sort of oli­garch. From The Econ­o­mist, an arti­cle on the aston­ish­ing new Geor­gian min­is­ter of eco­nom­ics: Face val­ue: A dif­fer­ent sort of oli­garch: Hav­ing got rich in Rus­sia, Kakha Ben­dukidze now wants to be the world’s most cap­i­tal­is­tic politi­cian. He [Ben­dukidze] says that… [ Blog]

If this guy actu­al­ly man­ages to get his reforms enact­ed, and keep them in place, it will be very good news for Georgia’s econ­o­my.

And We’re Back… I get emails by the dozen from people crying out against the abduction of foreigners.
Jul 31st, 2004 by Ken Hagler

And We’re Back… I get emails by the dozen from peo­ple cry­ing out against the abduc­tion of for­eign­ers. End­less­ly I read the lines, “But these peo­ple are there to help you- they are aide work­ers…” or “But the press is there for a good cause…”, etc. What peo­ple abroad don’t seem to real­ize is the fact that every­thing is mixed up right now. See­ing a for­eign­er, there’s often no way to tell who is who. The blonde guy in the sun­glass­es and beige vest walk­ing down the street could be a reporter or some­one who works with a human­i­tar­i­an group- but he could just as like­ly be ‘secu­ri­ty’ from one of those pri­vate mer­ce­nary com­pa­nies we’re hear­ing so much about.

Is there sym­pa­thy with all these abductees? There is. We hate see­ing them look­ing fright­ened on tele­vi­sion. We hate think­ing of the fact that they have fam­i­lies and friends who wor­ry about them in dis­tant coun­tries and won­der how in the world they man­aged to end up in the hell that is now Iraq… but for every for­eign­er abduct­ed, there are prob­a­bly 10 Iraqis being abduct­ed and while we have to be here because it is home, truck dri­vers, secu­ri­ty per­son­nel for for­eign com­pa­nies and con­trac­tors do not. Sym­pa­thy has its lim­its in the Iraqi sum­mer heat. Dozens of Iraqis are dying on a dai­ly basis in places like Fal­loo­jeh and Najaf and every­one is mys­te­ri­ous­ly silent- one Brit, Amer­i­can or Pak­istani dies and the world is in an uproar- it is get­ting tire­some. [Bagh­dad Burn­ing]

Cryptome .  RNC security precautions.
Jul 30th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Cryp­tome.  RNC secu­ri­ty pre­cau­tions. [John Robb’s Weblog]

That huge poster for “Alien vs. Preda­tor” (Who­ev­er wins… we lose) is remark­ably appro­pri­ate in this con­text.

Living Without a Pulse .
Jul 30th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Liv­ing With­out a Pulse. Steamy­Mo­bile writes “Can you live with­out a pulse? Yes, now you can. The rea­son why we have a pulse is because it’s hard for evo­lu­tion to result in tur­bines or con­tin­u­ous­ly spin­ning things. The next gen­er­a­tion of arti­fi­cial hearts may have no pulse. They also have no bear­ings, so they should last much longer than pre­vi­ous attempts. In fact, engi­neers don’t give a pre­dict­ed lifes­pan on these mod­els. How would your life be dif­fer­ent with­out a pulse?” [Slash­dot]

For starters, peo­ple would keep assum­ing I was dead.

Kick the Habit: Politics Is Not the Answer .
Jul 29th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Kick the Habit: Pol­i­tics Is Not the Answer. Like addicts who tell them­selves that the addic­tive sub­stance is not to blame for the prob­lems in their lives, those who are hooked on the state are reluc­tant to iden­ti­fy it as the source of the social ills they deplore. As long as it’s just George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft who are evil — a “bad batch” — then you don’t have to kick the habit entire­ly. Just make sure you get a good batch next time — elect “good” politi­cians — and you’ll nev­er have to ques­tion the polit­i­cal sys­tem to which you have become attached. You can blame the “bad politi­cians” for any out­comes you don’t approve of, and go on using gov­ern­ment force to spend oth­er people’s mon­ey and reg­u­late oth­er people’s lives.

And that’s what it all comes down to: Force. Many of my friends who abhor the US inva­sion of Iraq have no prob­lem using gov­ern­ment force to achieve their own goals. And they don’t seem to see the con­nec­tion between the two. Not only do they not ques­tion the moral­i­ty of using force to get what they want, they don’t even rec­og­nize the prac­ti­cal impli­ca­tion of doing so: That the more pow­er you give the state to do your bid­ding, the more pow­er it has to act against you. []

Pro-active commerce, Reactive government .
Jul 28th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Pro-active com­merce, Reac­tive gov­ern­ment. From the BBC: “A Japan­ese com­pa­ny has begun mak­ing stab-resistant coats and sweat­shirts as fears about pub­lic safe­ty rise fol­low­ing a series of grue­some attacks. Madre, the mak­er, said it was pro­vid­ing the prod­ucts in response to requests from wor­ried… [Mis­es Eco­nom­ics Blog: Aus­tri­an Eco­nom­ics and Lib­er­tar­i­an Polit­i­cal The­o­ry]

This sounds sus­pi­cious­ly like snake oil, espe­cial­ly because of this part:

bq. The jack­ets and tops look ordi­nary, but are made from fibre-glass and ‘Specter’ — a treat­ed plas­tic used in bullet-proof vests.

By ‘Specter’ the author prob­a­bly means Spec­tra, which was used in body armor until peo­ple dis­cov­ered that it breaks down and becomes use­less after expo­sure to high tem­per­a­tures (which can hap­pen eas­i­ly if it’s left in the trunk of a car on a hot day).

That’s not the worst of it, though. Armor designed to defeat bul­lets will do noth­ing against stab­bing weapons–reputable armor man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Sec­ond Chance and Bul­let­ProofME sell spe­cial­ized anti-stab armor. This is not the same thing as anti-ballistic armor, although you can buy vests that do both if you have a suf­fi­cient­ly large bud­get.

Per­son­al­ly, I think the par­ents buy­ing this stuff are moti­vat­ed more by hys­te­ria than rea­son, and their kids are far more like­ly to suf­fer heat stroke from wear­ing armor than they are to be stabbed. But if the par­ents real­ly have to buy their kids armor, they should look for a rep­utable man­u­fac­tur­er that sells armor for prison guards (also known as “cor­rec­tion­al armor”). That way at least they’ll have some­thing that real­ly works.

Finally, Mari Iijima's music is available through the iTunes Music Store! Mari Iijima

Final­ly, Mari Iijima’s music is avail­able through the iTunes Music Store! 
Mari Iijima

Jason does a good job with a wrap-up of the Halliburton overcharging/mismanagement hearings.  Frankly, the US is growing increasingly dependent on Halliburton in Iraq due to GG disr
Jul 27th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Jason does a good job with a wrap-up of the Hal­libur­ton overcharging/mismanagement hear­ings.  Frankly, the US is grow­ing increas­ing­ly depen­dent on Hal­libur­ton in Iraq due to GG dis­rup­tion.  I am sur­prised they aren’t more upfront about their out­ra­geous pric­ing.  Just put it out there and say take it or leave it. [John Robb’s Weblog]

It’s inter­est­ed that, based on that post, much of Halliburton’s pric­ing comes from the com­pa­ny basi­cal­ly throw­ing away mon­ey. I’d fig­ured they were just over­charg­ing and pock­et­ing the dif­fer­ence, but the tes­ti­mo­ny in the hear­ings sug­gest that it’s more a case of waste and incom­pe­tence. In oth­er words, Hal­libur­ton is behav­ing exact­ly like a gov­ern­ment agency.

Here’s an interesting weblog , from the Adam Smith Institute in the UK.
Jul 26th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Here’s an inter­est­ing weblog, from the Adam Smith Insti­tute in the UK. Here’s a descrip­tion:

bq. The Adam Smith Insti­tute, the free-market think tank, is the UK’s lead­ing inno­va­tor of prac­ti­cal market-economic poli­cies. For over 25 years it has been a pio­neer in the world­wide move­ment towards free mar­kets, public-sector reform, and free trade.

The Insti­tute focus­es on pro­mot­ing choice, com­pe­ti­tion, enter­prise, and user-focus. It works through research, reports, con­fer­ences, advice, and media debate.

Filipina Prez to Neocons: Buzz Off! .
Jul 26th, 2004 by Ken Hagler

Fil­ip­ina Prez to Neo­cons: Buzz Off!. Now here’s a head of state who tells it like it is. No way is she going to sac­ri­fice her peo­ple to sal­vage the rep­u­ta­tions of a belea­guered bunch of bel­li­cose Neo­con cry­ba­bies. Excerpt: “I can­not apol­o­gize for being a… [ Blog]

It must be nice to have a Pres­i­dent who actu­al­ly cares about the lives of her con­stituents.

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