120 rants (2006.03.12+2006.03.19)
Two 60 minutes rants rolled into one post, what could be better then that?
Tal Afar - the worst place to live in Iraq for the last 3 years
Tal Afar is the town in Iraq that was the homebase for Al Qaeda for a long time. USA army had captured the town before, but could not hold it for long before Al Qaeda returned. And then after another year USA had to capture the town again fighting for every house. But the best part was that when they were ready to make the final blow and take out all the militants that were surrounded in the center of the town, an order came to hold the attack for several days. After those days passed the troops proceeded and only found one dead body and no militants - they all escaped.
In my mind the military did all what they were supposed to do quite nicely, but the politicians of the Bush administration interfered and gave the terrorists the time to escape. It almost looks like they did that on purpose. You have to admit that if one assumes that Bush has some good childhood friends among the organizers of Al Qaeda, then a lot of his and his administrations actions suddenly start to make much more sense.
It also looked like the military did well to secure that town now, but the amount of troops needed for that is mind numbing - to secure a single town of 200k people the military is forced to deploy there permanently both USA 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (5000 solders, 320 tanks, 80 aircraft) and the Iraqi 3rd Division (3000+ solders). That is a lot of firepower just to insure peace. To cover the whole Iraq with that kind of protection more then 1'150'000 troops would be needed. Currently USA is about one million troops short on that.
I am happy about people living in Tal Afar, but really with this tiny number of troops there, there is not much of a security - Al Qaeda can easily move to another place and continue where they left off.
Back to homosexuality studies
A bunch of interesting studies on homosexuality was presented in this segment: identical twins where one is homosexual and the other is strait, twin boys where one boy was clearly feminine and the other was clearly masculine at 18 months already, studies that show that homosexual people move quite differently from strait people of the same sex, hormone injections at birth making male mice behave like a female. And the most surprising of them all - the more older brothers a boy has, the bigger is his chance of being homosexual, but only if the boy is right-handed. And the numbers are statistically significant. Now that is one really fun field to study :)
Some time ago I did a post about what I think about homosexuality. These studies clearly show that it is not genetic, but more of hormonal nature. My understanding now is that there are many separate parts of the human body that develop at different times during the development of the child (mostly before birth) and that level of several hormones, mostly testosterone, could cause a probability on which way do those body parts develop - feminine or masculine. Some of those parts are parts of brain and then this twist in the early brain development is what determines what kind of interests and behavior will a person have.
We have two words to describe persons physiological gender - "male" and "female", but do not have good words to describe a persons psychological gender or the combination of two. As I have said in my post before, I think we should simply move to a system with four genders - that will solve most of our problems with this issue.
The right hand man of the second most wanted man in the USA (after Usama) was talking about what he and his boss have done in their lives. The man himself was already trialed and after making a deal with the prosecution has already done the 7 years he was sentenced to and now can freely talk about his past.
I really was not too trilled about the story - I have no feeling to the mob. In fact for me a mob is almost like a product of a Hollywood directors mind - I have never seen a mobster or have been influenced by them in any way. There is no real mobs in Latvia - a few single gangsters or rappers and a bunch of "grown up" pseido-mobsters in politics. Basically in Latvia organized crime is organized in such way that people do not get affected by it - they do not do drugs or extortion.
Andy about Oscars dress code
Andy reflected on Oscars, who won, who lost and who got the lowest-cut dress.
I talked about Oscars before, but to extend about the dresses I agree with Andy that men should dress up in fancy and strange wear for the Oscars just like the women do, otherwise there is not much eye candy for all those cowboys out there ;)
Note: Mike we will miss you.
Extending family via sperm donor link
The story mainly is about a website http://donorsiblingregistry.com/ - a kind of a matchmaking website where children that are born via sperm donations could find their half-sisters, half-brothers and sometimes even meet their own biological fathers. The whole process is voluntary for all participants and is basically a string matching exercise. For some sperm donor codes up to 20 children have been registered.
I think this is a very interesting way how people can forge new family relationships and extend their understanding of family further. I think that is quite wonderful - imagine that you know that you have a lot of relatives all across the world. It would help more cross-cultural understanding and it will definitely calm people down a lot.
Rewriting the science
Now this story got my full attention, because it is just horrible misconduct by the current USA administration for which we all will be paying in a short while. The story basically is that every scientist that is involved in weather studies must pass his/her press releases trough an approval in the White House and the "approval" is made by a former lobby to the oil industry who blatantly rewrites the reports to either play down or simply remove any reference to global warming an predictions of its cause, magnitude or probable effects.
When there is a lawyer in the Washington that can with a wide strike of his pen strike out findings of most respected scientists of the field and scribble "inconclusive speculation" instead, you know something is very deeply wrong with the science in the USA. Also the same administration simply denies interview requests with the scientist offering their own trained PR people instead. Since when people have to ask permission to the White House before taking an interview from a scientist??? I would believe that being the case in Soviet Russia, but in the USA ?!?!
The Americans must have lost their minds - a couple decades ago there would be nation wide strikes and million people protests just for that. Now it is enough for president to say that it is unpatriotic to be against the president and everyone suddenly comply. That is worse then Soviet Russia. This is voluntary.
Note: the scientist also stated that if we do not start stopping global warming in next ten years, it will become unstoppable. I personally think that he is being optimistic there.
Anti-terror terror in NY
After 9/11 the New York police department expanded rapidly and formed a special anti-terrorism unit doing tasks that FBI and CIA are supposed to do. Every day random police drills are conducted across NY. Every day all the potential bombing hot spots are checked for explosives. Helicopters monitor the territory for unusual activity. Shopkeepers have manuals on what to watch for and where to report what they saw. Blogs are mined for data and every detail of any foreign bombing is analyzed to find new ways how terrorists could attack NY. Billions of dollars are spent on making NY safer.
I will not argue with the fact that there have not been any new successful attacks on New York or that some terrorism plots were intercepted in progress by the NYPD. What I do want to say is what exactly happens with people that are protected so closely? Doesn't the constant proactive anti-terrorism defense terrorize everyone that it is supposed to protect? There is this phrase - "Global Terror". I think it is very correct, but not in the way it intended - what we actually have is a terror all around us, people being in terror - afraid of terrorism attacks. And the governments just fuel this flame of terror because it makes them look good - you need authority to fight terrorism. The USA has spent on war in Iraq 20 times more then it would take to end world hunger. Apparently securing some oil and showing off their anti-terrorism skilz is more important then world hunger.
I am not saying that NYPD is doing something wrong - they are doing as good as they can without relying on the help from the federal government. The federal government of the USA however it the one being fatally inefficient.
Lottery winners vs. losers
Andy raises a nice point this week - a lot of poor people spend lots of their money on government lotteries. Rich people do not play lotteries. So basically a lottery is a way to get a lots of money from the poor people to the organizers and a few of the participants. People are stupid. But it is not governments job to cash in on that.
That's all folks! What do you think? What else do you want me to rant about? Leave a comment to let me know!