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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