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Chen Shui-bian

"Chen Shui-bian Claims Taiwan as De Facto Independent Country" CND news report

This is huge news. Is Asia so off my radar that I missed a conservative daily newspaper reporting this in the headline above the fold? (Which isn't to say they did: it's just that something like this seems pretty juicy for a newspaper that stands up for Taiwan to not to run with it as la Une.)

The relevant quote from President Chen: “Taiwan is fit to be an independent country, that's the truth. And no matter if you agree or not, whether you accept it or not, Taiwan is an independent country.”

If he indeed did say that, it doesn't fully represent the views of the majority of Taiwanese. The Newsweek interview in question publishes the quote, but also reports the following: “Nearly 80 percent of Taiwanese [...] say they prefer the ambiguous status quo to either full-fledged independence or reunification with the mainland.”

I know that President Chen is fairly pro-independence, but this strikes me as awfully stupid politically, to say nothing of the military implications for the whole region of South-East Asia.

Stuck in a Rut

Rosalie Garrett: “Every job has its good and bad points, no job is perfect and sometimes you may feel trapped in a situation that you think there is no way out of. However, these individual experiences illustrate that there can be a way out of any situation. Plodding on in a career you are not happy with is unhealthy, it’s not good for you and it’s not good for any company. For many making a move can be a daunting prospect, yet there is no reason for you to spend another day unhappy. Life is far too short and seeing that we spend most of our life working, it is imperative that each day is a good one. Be positive and be proactive, think about what would make you happy.”

Building a Better Bomb

"Building a Better Bomb" by Michael Scherer

This is wrongheaded. If you're against nukes in principle, that conclusion is obvious. But even if you are pro-nuclear weapons, these small, low-yield, "bunker-busting" nuclear bombs blur the line between conventional and nuclear weaponry, with the result of any nuclear deterrence (if you believe in that sort of thing) losing its effect.

Hirsute of happiness

Bruce Arthur: “Some are old -- the parade around the ice with the Stanley Cup, for instance, which evolved from a brief ceremony where the Cup was simply handed to the team's captain to a full-blown carnival of joy. As well, the post-series handshake line, a picture of sportsmanship, extends back into the mists of hockey. But while handshakes and Cup-raising are lovable symbols, more recent traditions can be a little distasteful to the average fan. From playoff beards to hails of dead rats, traditions have grown slightly less gentlemanly as time has skated by.”

Nice use of the oxymoron sans irony (“Instant playoff tradition”), and how the best tradition (towel waving) was a Vancouver Canucks original. I'm also quite the fan of the Winnepeg Jets' "Whiteout", and thought the Phoenix Coyotes fans displayed a level of class when the tradition continued after the franchise moved there.

If you build it green, they will come

"If you build it green, they will come" by Monte Hummel

Hummel goes from quoting a percentage (just 10 leading forest products companies, and one-fifth of the world's forests, could provide the industrial wood and wood fibre necessary to meet projected future needs") to using absolute figures ("Over 50 million acres of forest in 35 countries have been certified around the world to the FSC standard, but, so far, less than 3 million acres are Canadian"). Sticking with relative figures would have been preferable (the absolute figures don't tell you how much of the forests are FSC certified) and a trend over time would have been preferable to a snapshot of the current situation.

How can you tell I'm currently reading Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist?

Adulthood Without Sex

"Adulthood Without Sex" by Phillip D. Harvey

"It is wrong to expect young people to be sexually abstinent until they are more than half way through their twenties."

But what if...oh, nevermind.

"Sexual relations are an important component of human happiness, and there is no moral purpose served by abstaining from sex if two people are mature and responsible."

No argument here.

"Why should they be deprived of sex?"

You tell me!

Attack of the Clones review

Review of Star Wars-- Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones by Roger Ebert

For those actually surfing in, I won't reveal what Ebert thinks of the movie. However, this quote was interesting, keeping with his disdain for digital video projection: "Digital images contain less information than 35mm film images, and the more you test their limits, the more you see that. Two weeks ago I saw "Patton" shown in 70mm Dimension 150, and it was the most astonishing projection I had ever seen--absolute detail on a giant screen, which was 6,000 times larger than a frame of the 70mm film. That's what large-format film can do, but it's a standard Hollywood has abandoned (except for IMAX), and we are being asked to forget how good screen images can look--to accept the compromises."

Vegas: all bets are off

<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3794-2002May10.html" title="In Vegas Politics, All Bets Are Off"">George F. Will: “[Democratic congresswoman Shelley] Berkley has not been helped by the redistricting made necessary by the fact that this is the nation's fastest-growing major city -- a city that prints a new phone book twice a year and that needs 12 new schools a year to accommodate 6,000 new residents a month. The portion of northwest Las Vegas that has been put into the redrawn 1st District had 50,000 residents four years ago. Today it has 150,000. Berkley is hardly an incumbent there.”

War With Terrorism?

Michael Kinsley: “[A]n illegitimate tactic used in a legitimate cause, as part of a conflict with legitimate and illegitimate tactics and aspirations on both sides, is different from an illegitimate tactic used for purposes that are utterly crazed and malevolent.”

War on Terror Flounders

"The War on Terror Flounders" by Nicholas D. Kristof

Is there any explanation other than inertia to account for the United States' maintaining 47,000 troops in Japan, despite the lack of any threat there except perhaps from extraterrestrials, yet refusing to provide a few thousand troops to keep the swamp drained in Afghanistan?"

Except for that quote, in which Kristof makes a good point, he doesn't really make his case that Tom Ridge is losing the bureaucratic battle as head of Homeland Security. He probably is losing, but this column is unconvincing. Cable TV on the monitors instead of videoconference with the White House, and listing the acronyms that Ridge had on his (Ridge's) flowchart are more rhetorical flourishes than anything. Quotes from insiders would have been much more convincing evidence.

Update: I (and Kristof) have been caught uttering a Ridiculous Misstatement. To quote the Conservative Economist: "North Korea still poses a large threat and she's pretty close to Japan. Also, (I think) Japan pays the full yen costs of our troops stationed there. Thus, it is fairly cheap for America to have bases in Japan. Furthermore, there is no threat to (or from) Japan because of American troops. Remember, Japan is a rich country surrounded by nations which hate her. If we left, Japan would instantly develop atomic weapons to protect herself from China. This would cause China to increase the number of nuclear missiles she has and would also probably induce South Korea to go nuclear. American troops in Japan do a truly massive amount of good in the world besides protecting the Emperor from alien invaders." The paragraph after that is a bit muddy (plus, there's a typo), but essentially Kristof has it wrong, and so do I for quoting him. (I still stand by the fact that Kristof is right, though unconvincing, that Ridge is losing the bureaucratic battle as Director of Homeland Security.)

Why the Democrats' top strategist

Joe Klein: “This rather sour ideology [populism] did have one fleeting moment of high-mindedness a hundred years ago. The Populist Party promoted several programs—the progressive income tax, a central banking system with control over the money supply, antitrust regulation—to provide needed controls over an emerging national economy. These were embraced by Theodore Roosevelt's Republicans and implemented by Woodrow Wilson's Democrats. But the pure strain of populism has always been a bit too harsh, and too easily hijacked by demagogues, to be very successful politically.”

Problem with Ralph Nader

Matt Welch: “On the campaign trail, I saw Nader tell a variety of whoppers: that "the Social Security ‘crisis’ is a phony problem invented by George W. Bush to make his Wall Street buddies even more rich," that Western Europe had "abolished poverty," that Americans get "90 percent of their news from television." In Crashing the Party his tall tales range from the banal (saying that a disastrous appearance on The Tonight Show "went well," without mentioning that he was mocked by Jay Leno, a guest, and several newspapers after blurting out the word "Strawberries!" when asked what he does for fun) to the vindictive (falsely accusing several reporters of being uninterested in his appeal to "nonvoters" because "their experience had taught them not to inquire into such elusive quests") to the fantastic ("Most of our stands and positions are supported by most Americans").”

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