Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Afganistan and human devolopment index (HDI)

The NYtimes has a story about a report that says how poorly afghanistan is doing:

ANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Feb. 21 - Three years after the United States drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan and vowed to rebuild, the war-shattered country ranked 173rd of 178 countries in the United Nations 2004 Human Development Index, according to a new report from the United Nations.

I'm sure it's terrible there in Afghanistan, but the story seems to be a not so subtle dig at the US using a story that doesn't make the numbers it is based on transparent. Of course this is pretty normal for the news today, so my more practiced google skills quickly bring out a few links:

Calculation of the HDI
(I can't paste it, it won't let me do a copy paste out of acrobat)
It's a combination of three indexes, life expectancy index, GDP index and educational attainment index. These things are indexed using the formula (max-actual)/(max-min) then combined.

Of course in a country like afganistan, these indexes will look bad. Especially since previous to 2002, women weren't allowed to be educated at all, now they are included in the education index. There was a war going on where 1000 people were killed in the last 18 months and the economy was bad.

I would have led with this part of the story instead:

Despite the problems, Afghanistan has shown remarkable progress in the three years since the United States-led war in 2001, the report said.

More than 54 percent of school-age children are enrolled, including four million high school students. The economy is making great strides, with growth of 16 percent in nondrug gross domestic product in 2003 and predicted growth of 10 to 12 percent annually for the next decade.

While there has been rapid progress, said Zphirin Diabr, associate administrator of the United Nations Development Program, the country has a long way to go just to get back to where it was 20 years ago. The figures, as President Hamid Karzai says in the report's introduction, paint a gloomy picture.

But the NYTimes isn't biased or anything.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Our friends the Saudis

Mary Madigan is posting over at Micheal Totten's weblog about a report from the Freedom House
that exposes Saudi funded religious extremism in mosques here in the U.S.

One excerpt:
The Saudi literature is bent on instilling in its followers the conviction that whenever they are not in Saudi Arabia or other Islamic countries, they are in enemy territory and accordingly should struggle to establish Islam, or else return to the Islamic world.
A Saudi-government text [Document No. 32] for tenth-grade students entitled Science of Tawheed, copies of which were obtained at the Al-Farouq Mosque in Houston, Texas, teaches the impropriety of mixing with, or imitating, the unbelievers.

“Residing among the unbelievers continuously is also
forbidden because it is dangerous for the belief of the Muslim.
That is why Allah made it obligatory to emigrate from the land
of disbelief to the land of Islam.” [Document No. 32]

The message is that the peaceful coexistence of Muslim and non-Muslim in a multi-cultural state is not simply unachievable, but is undesirable and even punishable: If a Muslim “thinks it is permissible to be under their control, and he is pleased with the way they are, then there is no doubt that he is no longer a Muslim” [Document No. 32]. Muslims content to live in the West are therefore delegitimized, and, in fact, declared apostate. Anything positive they may say about the West is thereby discredited.

Documents like these sound the death knell of political correctness. Saying that diversity is supreme, and all points of view are valid will be the death of western civilization, liberalism, freedom of religion and the United States. Due to political correctness arguments against this crap will be met with "but their cultural viewpoint is valid" or "but they've been oppressed by western capitalism".

Anyone who can read this whole document and start to say "but..." should be frog marched to the border and thrown into mexico.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Enemy of my enemy

Wretchard at the Belmont club is discussing why the left sees the current US government or maybe the west as the enemy.
The "Left's inability to see" -- is the product of their unshakeable belief in the immutability of their world whose safety is guaranteed by the very system they hate the most. In that make-believe garden, academic tenure, human-rights lawyers, newspaper articles and political correctness will always protect them. They are dimly aware of, but do not really believe in the existence an outside world governed by what Tom Friedman called Hama Rules, of which the explosive laden ambulance is a part.
Hama Rules is Friedman's shorthand for how Syrians dealt with rebels in the city of Hama. They leveled it. Literally.

I've never understood how there can be people here in this country who can wish for US failure in Iraq, who could possibly say 'the enemy of my enemy (bush) is my friend (Iraqi insurgents, islamofacists, etc). I realize this is a straw man argument, most (99.9999%) of liberals don't support terrorists, but a large percentage of liberals are holding themselves aloof, using the Chris Rock OJ argument ("I'm not saying I agree with the terrorists, but I understand. And oh yeah, I support our troops")
If I was a liberal fervent enough to go out and protest, I'd be protesting that we haven't bombed Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. If we happen to lose this war, liberals would lose the most. There would be no 'log cabin Islamofacists', all openly gay people would be killed out of hand. No equal rights, no working women, no political correctness. As Wretchard says:
The Left will wake up one day, on the morning it is led down a dark corridor to a cell floored with rubber mats, sloping curiously down to a corner where a single drain waits to carry fluid away. The walls will be bare but for a banner with the words 'Allah is Great' opposite a video camera whose tripod legs are protected with a drop cloth. On a table will be a single knife. And then they will know. Then they will see.
The left should see their true enemy, Islamofacism. They can hate George Bush and the neocons, but still consider him the enemy of their enemy.

Monday, February 14, 2005

9/11 Myths and realities

Popular Mechanics has a fantastic article debunking many of the myths of 9/11, including the questions of why the Air Force didn't shoot down the airliners. Whenever I've tried to explain to people that an air force base might have 70 planes sitting on the ramp, but only 2 planes sitting on alert armed and ready to fly; and only some bases even have planes on alert, most don't.

I don't know how many arguments I've had with people who said it's obvious that Bush knew beforehand about the 9/11 attacks, who would then cite all the issues debunked in this article.
Yeah MSM!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Pigs, Chickens and solar power

They say that when it comes to breakfast, a chicken that supplies the eggs is dedicated, while the pig that supplies the bacon is committed. Since I'm still a chicken I added some links to some renewable energy sites on the sidebar. Just a couple of links to some training sites; solarpower.org is where I attended a one week pv installation class that was very good.

I'm still not a big enough pig to spend actual money to install any RE technology on my house, or start a long dreamed of, never done solar power business. Oh well.

I also added the first of many links on climate change. These first two sites are like me skeptical. To say that 'consensus' has been reached among scientists is disingenuous, since both of these sites include articles from scientists that don't agree with either the direction or magnitude of climate change, Or are arguing that the 'proof' of the hockey stick graph was conjured out of statistics. By definition, if someone is arguing against an idea, there really isn't consensus. More on this later...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Gin and Gatorade

I just spent the day at my Aunt Alma's funeral. The really saddening thing about the funeral was that she always seemed to be the person in charge of all the previous funerals, either for my grandmother or my aunts and uncles who went before her, or any other event for that matter. For some reason I expected to see her there at the funeral home, saying something like "here comes My Joe" as I walked in. Until we arrived at the funeral home and she wasn't there, her death hadn't really sunk in.

She was always funny, with a sarcastic wit that could zap the skin off of the unwary. And she was always kind, she invited all of us, brothers, sisters and cousins over to her house every year at July 4th and labor day to go swimming. Apparently we weren't the richest family in the world, since swimming in Aunt Alma's swimming pool provided the heights of several summers that I can remember.

Anyway, it turns out that Gin and gatorade mix pretty well. which was lucky since all I have handy is a bottle of Gin, and the only mixers are either tap water or Gatorade.