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August 2008 Archives

August 30, 2008

The 2008 Veep Choices

By Joe Katzman at 22:52

Short version: Both parties made what were probably their best veep choices among willing candidates. Vice Presidential choices don't usually have much effect on the ticket, but this year may be an exception. I'm actually more interested in seeing the VP debate(s) than the Presidential version.

Both Biden and Palin have considerable strengths, balancing the primary candidate in important ways, while inviting the other party to step into bear-jawed traps.

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  • PD Shaw: A couple reactions to what followed the speech. 1. On read more
  • gabriel: I'd say its refreshing to see a campaign ticket where read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Back to approximately the substance of the topic: I'd have read more

August 29, 2008

A Post Baby Boom Presidential Ticket?

By Trent Telenko at 19:49

While the Right blogosphere is hailing and the Left blogosphere is snarking at Senator McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Palin (See the round up at Instapundit), every observer I have seen so far has missed a real point.

The Republicans have no Baby Boomers on their Presidential ticket.

This also remarkable because neither major American political party picked Presidential front runners who are Baby Boom Southern White Males after 15 years of such men being President.

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  • Steve: As a boomer (b. 1953), I'm happy with a Traditionalist read more
  • Joshua: If she's 44, she was born in 1964 or 63. read more
  • molon labe: Palin has publicly mentioned putting down her Blackberries (plural) and read more

Go Read Sully on Palin.

By Armed Liberal at 18:54

Do it chronologically - start here and read upward. It's a fascinating arc.

Now I need to go offline for the weekend. Annual Catalina camping trip, here we come!!

See you all Monday night, and as usual, please try not to kill anyone or blow anything up while I'm gone.

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  • PD Shaw: More from Ross Douthat: I think the coverage of Sarah read more
  • Nortius Maximus: PD: Reminds you of the early paleo-Earth scenes of 2001 read more
  • PD Shaw: More Sully love from fellow Atlantic contributor: I wish Andrew read more

McCain's VP...In Which I Find Myself In SHocking Agreement With Jimbo and Ann Althouse

By Armed Liberal at 16:09

Got picked up by The Flying Dutchman at the airport last night - not my last trip, but the beginning of some changes that will result in a lot less trips, thankfully - and instead of business we wound up chatting about McCain's VP choice.

I told him it had to be Palin. Or rather that McCain would be "idiotic" not to pick her.


Purely tactically, Biden's a sharp debater. Blustery, sometimes fact-challenged, but smart and sharp-tongued. Imagine a matchup of the likely GOP Veeps in the debate...they lose, it's a 'Crossfire'-type boring shouting match, or...if it's Palin, he's pinned. He can't bluster her down without seeming like an ass, he has to be polite, and she can go after him with an inside game that's all about "I am successfully running a state while you have sat in DC and made speeches for the last 40 years".

Plus he has to pick a woman (well, no but he'd be even more idiotic not to), and Fiorina, Whitman, and Hutchinson all bring too much negative baggage.

Here's hoping...and heading to Costco for the jumbo popcorn.

Update: Ohmigawd - could it be true?

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  • Nortius Maximus: Reportedly, the Reps collected more than $4 million dollars online read more
  • ricg: I planned to vote for McCain but have never made read more
  • TOC: I just read that Palin was baptised Catholic and swithced read more

August 28, 2008

A Completely Non-Hostile Question About Liberal v. Conservative Thought

By Grim at 15:46

Tensions are getting higher with the election's approach, so I want to emphasize that this post is in no way intended to be disrespectful of either side. A liberal friend brought up an interesting point, and I wanted to bring it to your attention here because of Winds' location right at the center of the blogosphere. My only interest is to expose the question to a larger community, to see if the observations hold true in a broader sense than in the smaller community that reads Grim's Hall.

We were recently welcoming a new reader, and asking her to tell us a bit about herself. In return, I thought perhaps we should all tell her a bit about ourselves. (Which is a useful exercise, actually -- it might make a good concept for the Winds community as well.)

At the end of a long string of comments, Jeffrey -- a committed liberal and Obama supporter, whose friendship I greatly value because of his careful thinking and insightful critiques -- noted that, unlike the rest of us, he hadn't mentioned anything about his family history. He wondered why so many people felt that was important.

The question reminded me of Prof. Althouse's post about one of McCain's earliest commercials, the one that started with old footage of Theodore Roosevelt, then FDR, then young McCain, then McCain today. She wrote:

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  • Beard: Ah, well, so much for the piping sunshine business. When read more
  • Nortius Maximus: PS: The Foresight Institute is holding a "Vision Weekend" this read more
  • Nortius Maximus: OK, Destry has to strap on his six-guns one more read more

WGN On The Air

By Armed Liberal at 04:26

"We just want it to stop. It's not fair, it's blatant attacks against Barak Obama"

I'm listening to WGN, where Stanley Kurtz apparently just finished talking about his research. The first two callers - apparently triggered by the Obama campaign - both wanted Kurtz silenced.

I'm beyond disgust. I've been bitterly opposed to 'silence the critics' on blogs and in the media everywhere. This is not remotely the kind of politics that represents change that I want to be part of.

Steven Diamond is talking now...nice slam at Ayers. Makes me feel better about being liberal.

[Addendum, 13 hours later: WGN has posted the full podcast of the show. --NM]

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  • Dan Kauffman: That's true, of course. But I would prefer that people read more
  • Glen Wishard: Dan:The strength of our system is that it allows Facists read more
  • Dan Kauffman: I am going to have to say the Obama supporters read more

ABC And The Brown Palace - The Brown Palace's Side

By Armed Liberal at 04:19

There's a contretemps over an ABC crew getting arrested. So I asked the hotel about it.

Quoted in full, with their permission:

Dear Mr. Danziger,

If I may provide an explanation about today's events:

The ABC news cameras were intruding on the entrance of the hotel, creating an unsafe entrance/exit for our guests, which are our priority at all times. The police department asked them to move to the side several times so that our guests could enter/exit, and ABC refused. ABC was clearly told that they could stand on the sidewalk but it is illegal to block an entrance to any business, which is what they were doing. After not complying with the police requests, they were then asked to move to the other side of the street. It is our understanding that ABC continued to speak belligerently to the police and were arrested for not complying with police orders. The arrest resulted from issues between the police and ABC, not The Brown Palace Hotel.

Watch the video at the link; there's not enough info to support or reject her explanation.

Props to the Brown Palace for getting the problem and responding quickly...let's see how the story develops.

Edited for clarity; hard line breaks removed by NM to better suit this blog's format.

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  • GatorLawman: It will be interesting who pays the judgment for the read more
  • Nortius Maximus: #2: Fixed. read more
  • clazy: The editing of the ABC video tells me all I read more

Blackwater, Again

By Armed Liberal at 00:20

So I wanted to take a moment to talk about Blackwater some more; I actually mean to do two posts on it - this one about the organization and some of the politics around it, and other about an idea about society and people that being there gave me.

Blackfive, Uncle Jimbo, and NZ Bear all wrote about the logistics and posted pictures and video, so let me refer to some of their pictures and cites:


...and of course they talked smack (and some compliments) about me...

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  • Nortius Maximus: His checked bag that he probably paid a surcharge for, read more
  • Paul Milenkovic: Oh, I get. Mr. Marc Danziger is carrying his AR-15 read more
  • The Unbeliever: I'd like to see some argumentation behind the opinion that: read more

August 27, 2008

Department of Hmmmmm.... (Economics News)

By Armed Liberal at 13:14

Some Economic News:

LA Times: "Los Angeles County poverty rate fell in 2007, census data show: Other Southern California counties also show slight declines. The effects of the sharp economic downturn and rising unemployment since last year are unclear."

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Up until recently, the consumer part of the economy was read more
  • Alchemist: GK: the biggest killer of newspapers is not a "new read more
  • GK: Didn't AL himself discontinue his subscription of the LAT, due read more

Hillary's Speech

By Armed Liberal at 03:43

In a hotel watching TV. Hillary's going on stage...

...admit it. You want her to tell her supporters to cut loose, mount a coup and force a vote tomorrow. A little real history at one of these freeze-dried conventions...

Update: You know she's actually giving a stemwinder of a speech...

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  • Independent George: Thanks, all for the language lesson. But I heard her read more
  • Glen Wishard: It wasn't all emotional rhetoric. I admit zoning off during read more
  • Grim: Folk or not, it's a pretty good reading of the read more

August 26, 2008

What Really Happened In Ossetia?

By Armed Liberal at 20:19

Go read Michael Totten on the spark that ignited the Georgian war:

Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. "The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia," the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

This is going to continue to be interesting for some time...

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  • Lars Gunther: The pattern seems clear now. Russia used Abkhazia as bait. read more
  • Mark Buehner: "If Georgia was trying to stop Russian advances, why did read more
  • AMac: The events of 2 August - 8 August aren't clear read more

Silencing Citizens Should Concern Us All

By Grim at 15:50

It is unfortunate to see the Obama campaign moving to silence political speech by citizens during an election. Their attempt to get the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute a 501c4 for daring to mention Obama's relationship with Ayers is un-American.

There is blame to go around: though I am personally opposed to Sen. Obama's candidacy, in fairness it is proper to note that Sen. McCain authored a number of the restrictions on American political speech being used by Sen. Obama. We can even go further, and point out the claims by Sen. McCain's campaign manager of outrageous attacks by then-Gov. Bush's campaign, that allegedly slandered him and his adopted daughter in the hope of playing on racist feeling in the electorate. Neither President Bush, who signed the law, nor Sen. McCain, who wrote the law, nor Sen. Obama, who used the law to silence American citizens, none of them should escape our wrath.

On this matter, all Americans -- and all bloggers, regardless of affiliation -- should have a sense of unity. The Founding Fathers wrote the protections of the First Amendment for free speech and the press. They had political speech foremost in their thoughts when they did so. The freedom to speak about elections, candidates, and issues of concern was exactly what they were seeking to protect.

We have come to a time in America when our political class wants desperately to silence American citizens. They want to speak only to each other: let Sen. McCain's campaign say what it wants, but no mere citizen should dare to do so, lest they face criminal prosecution!

Our courts, which are ready to extend "free speech" to nude dancing as a form of "expression," won't recognize and defend the First Amendment right to free political speech that was the Founders' whole purpose.

Whatever your politics, and whomever you support, this behavior is un-American. It is wrong, vile, and an assault on the most basic liberty that the Republic was founded to protect. If an American citizen has something to say about an issue or a candidate, let him say it, and let us all decide the merits in common debate. If citizens must band together to afford the rates for advertisements, and care enough to spend their own coin to voice their opinion, let them do so.

These are not criminals in need of prosecution. These are citizens exercising their right and performing their duty to question and consider according to their own conscience. Whether you think this group is right or wrong on the merits, and without regard to whom you blame most for the affront to our liberty, on this matter surely we can all stand together.

UPDATE: Altered with respect to comments #6, #12, and #15, which challenged the evidentiary basis for McCain's claims of a Bush smear. See below.

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  • Nortius Maximus: Now there's a slogan with legs. FREE HARMONICAS NOT MUMIA read more
  • David Leonhardt: Hey GK. You wrote: "I think we can all agree read more
  • ThomasJackson: Sad to see the usual political hacks restorting to the read more

Blackwater Pix

By Armed Liberal at 07:00

Blackfive and NZ Bear at Victorycaucus have pictures up - go check them out. And I'm holding the damn AR15 out "like a Prada purse" because I'm wearing my suit pants - thanks to United Airlines losing my luggage - and didn't want to get gun lube on them. So there.

Play the video of the drive on B5's site it was a hoot.

And, oddly, when NZ sent me the email telling me the post was up, TG and I were watching one of the movies he referenced - Buckaroo Banzai, which she'd never seen.

I've always wanted to be Lord Whorfin. But I do compulsively floss my teeth for days every time I see the film.

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  • Blake Sobiloff: Ah, I was wondering about the odd attire choice. Sorry read more

Some Election Links

By Armed Liberal at 03:52

I'm going to start doing a running set of posts on interesting Obama / McCain posts from here and yon. Not a lot of commentary, but a link and a snippet. There's a lot of interesting writing going on out there...

Telegraph UK - " Obama won’t lose for being black but for not being American enough "

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  • Brian H: Unfortunately for Drum, the increasing grotesqueness of Oblabla's image and read more
  • matt: Did you see the Bunk study stating 2/3 of doctors read more

August 25, 2008

Slate Strikes Again

By Armed Liberal at 18:05

Modern journalism at its finest once again.

William Saletan has a (risible) piece up at Slate challenging the Olympic 100m butterfly victory of Michael Phelps.

Sorry, but none of these assurances holds water. The scoreboard doesn't tell you which swimmer arrived, touched, or got his hand on the wall first. It tells you which swimmer, in the milliseconds after touching the wall, applied enough force to trigger an electronic touch pad. As to whether Phelps touched first, there's plenty of unresolved doubt.

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  • lurker: Yah, anyone vaguely familiar with the refractive properties of water read more
  • Mark Buehner: Ughh, i stumbled on a Truther thread over there. I'm read more
  • Armed Liberal: Go over and look at the Fray - the commenters read more

August 23, 2008

The Problem With Journalists

By Armed Liberal at 18:51 neatly summed up with Slate Editor in Chief's personal opinion piece - "If Obama Loses : Racism is the only reason McCain might beat him."

It's a pretty clear insight into how he thinks.

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  • atheist: Mark, Shannon Love, and her commenters, sound pathologically afraid of read more
  • Mark Buehner: Shannon Love over at Chicago Boyz sums things up nicely: read more
  • AMac: atheist #65 -- Glad that you did some digging and read more


By Armed Liberal at 16:22

It looks like an agreement is close between the Iraqi government and the US government on a schedule for ramping down the US military presence in Iraq - a timetable. Many of the antiwar folks who have been pressing for the US government to announce such a timetable have been - to use a charitable term - crowing, including my grudgingly approved candidate, Senator Obama:

"I am glad that the administration has finally shifted to accepting a timetable for the removal of our combat troops from Iraq..."

The difference, of course, is between a timetable that we unilaterally impose regardless of the desires of the Iraqis and the conditions on the ground, and a timetable that is arrived at as a consequence of agreement between our government and the Iraqi one. It seems to me such an obvious thing, and yet no one else seems to be raising it.

Kevin Drum has a good cautionary comment, and links to another good one from Megan McArdle.

From the Las Vegas Sun, here's a nice snapshot of the complex bundle of issues that the war represents in this election:

By 2006, however, as the war continued to rage, the public had lost patience. On Election Day, voters punished Republicans across the country for mismanaging the conflict.

Overjoyed, Democrats believed their time had come to ride the wave. They opened the 2008 campaigns brimming with confidence that the war would propel their candidates into the White House and Congress.

But now, with just 11 weeks remaining in the campaigns, that assumption is being tested.

Interviews with 20 voters this week found the war has evolved into a much more complicated issue than in the past two elections.

Many voters said they think the war was a bad idea, which is consistent with findings of national polls. But with the war no longer front and center in the national consciousness, the interviews suggested the issue is no longer an automatic boost for Democrats.

Instead, the war is at times cutting against stereotype.

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  • Marcus Vitruvius: I think I'm going to wait to see the details read more
  • PD Shaw: I believe several times in the comments here I had read more
  • Sonic Charmer: The logic: The fact that the surge worked and we read more


By Armed Liberal at 02:17

Was just part of a junket which culminated in a meeting with the president of Blackwater (yes, that Blackwater...). I'm still digesting a lot of it, and will have more comments. But one thing he said really hit me - that with 300 of his troops (the news story says 250, but his comment was for 300) and 600 elite troops they would pick and mentor from the AU forces, they could shut down the genocide in Darfur.

I didn't ask what he charges for his forces, but imagine that it's $50,000/month/pair of boots. That's $15 million a month - $180 million for the year. Why aren't we having a telethon with Hollywood celebrities raising money for this?

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  • virgil xenophon: Treefrog@12: "Technocratic Feudalism." Isn't that what the movie "Rollerball" was read more
  • Lou: 1) Blackwater has their own logistical tail and air wing read more
  • TOC: Forget Hollywood and the Billionaires. Blackwater has an image problem. read more

Beauchamp Again?

By Armed Liberal at 02:09

Spencer "Flackerman" (sorry, couldn't resist) just reopened the Beauchamp kerfluffle. He met with Beauchamp and his ex-TNR wife, and - shockingly!! - it was all true and Foer was a wimp for not telling all of us who criticized his stories to pound sand.

Or not, according to Bob Owens and the facts. Ackerman's going to have to do better than this to go back to becoming "Attackerman."

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August 21, 2008

Jerome Armstrong Hits The Crackpipe Hard

By Armed Liberal at 15:17

Kerry for VP. No, seriously. This is one of the leading lights of the left political blogs.

Well, it's a great plan, if you want a McGovern-type election...

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  • Mark Poling: Choosing Richardson would probably have gotten Obama my vote. Biden, read more
  • PD Shaw: Poor Gov. Richardson. So obviously a good choice. So obviously read more
  • Glen Wishard: I wouldn't say he's sealed his doom, but he has read more

Report from Tbilisi

By Michael Totten at 03:59

Russia’s invasion of Georgia has unleashed a refugee crisis all over the country and especially in its capital. Every school here in Tbilisi is jammed with civilians who fled aerial bombardment and shootings by the Russian military—or massacres, looting, and arson by irregular Cossack paramilitary units swarming across the border. Russia has seized and effectively annexed two breakaway Georgian provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It has also invaded the region of Gori, which unlike them had been under Georgia’s control. Gori is in the center of the country, just an hour’s drive from Tbilisi; 90 percent of its citizens have fled, and the tiny remainder live amid a violent mayhem overseen by Russian occupation forces that, despite Moscow’s claims to the contrary, are not yet withdrawing.

On Monday, I visited one of the schools transformed into refugee housing in the center of Tbilisi and spoke to four women—Lia, Nana, Diana, and Maya—who had fled with their children from a cluster of small villages just outside the city of Gori. “We left the cattle,” Lia said. “We left the house. We left everything and came on foot because to stay there was impossible.” Diana’s account: “They are burning the houses. From most of the houses they are taking everything. They are stealing everything, even such things as toothbrushes and toilets. They are taking the toilets. Imagine. They are taking broken refrigerators.” And Nana: “We are so heartbroken. I don’t know what to say or even think. Our whole lives we were working to save something, and one day we lost everything. Now I have to start everything from the very beginning.”

Seven families were living cheek by jowl inside a single classroom, sleeping on makeshift beds made of desks pushed together. Small children played with donated toys; at times, their infant siblings cried. Everyone looked haggard and beaten down, but food was available and the smell wasn’t bad. They could wash, and the air conditioning worked.

“There was a bomb in the garden and all the apples on the trees fell down,” Lia remembered. “The wall fell down. All the windows were destroyed. And now there is nothing left because of the fire.”

Read the rest in City Journal.

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  • AMac: For the record, here is useful background reading. Georgia's South read more
  • TOC: #32 from AMac at 5:01 am on Aug 25, 2008 read more
  • AMac: Via Instapundit, a useful analysis of the aftermath of the read more

August 20, 2008

The Antikythera Mechanism

By Joe Katzman at 23:45

Nortius Maximus sent me this link to a video at Nature magazine, describing a machine from ancient Greece, named after the location in which it was found. Mike Daley's points me to an in-depth conventional text/graphics article at Impearls.

Its exact functions had been a bit puzzling, but modern imaging and X-rays recently came to the rescue. Turns out that it's a sophisticated mechanical clock that had additional functions like keeping track of the Olympic Games and phases of the moon, in addition to its standard operation. The whole thing is truly a mechanical marvel, and when you see the CGI images of the device in operation based on recent imaging techniques, you'll be stunned to imagine something like this coming from ancient Greece 2,000 years ago. But apparently, it did.

The Antikythera Mechanism is a true testament to the power of human ingenuity, and the video is definitely worth watching.

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  • Nortius Maximus: Joe added a link in the entry at top, crediting read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Imagined call to client: "It's not lost in a sunken read more
  • J Aguilar: Some kind of astrologe had their own "laptop" or iphone, read more

August 19, 2008

Send Our Journalists To School In The UK!!

By Armed Liberal at 05:49

The best line I've read in a while, in a story about a failed coup in Ivory Coast Equatorial Guinea:

"And even considering that Simon Mann had spent most of his adult life obliterating the fine line between profitable military adventures and hare-brained schemes, this was not a well-planned operation."

(h/t Uncle Jimbo)

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  • narciso: The whole thing feels like that "Wiseguy" arc about the read more
  • davod: Here's the problem. Mann was not going to free the read more
  • Jeff Y.: Simon Mann is a hero, IMHO. read more

Heeeey, Paula!

By Armed Liberal at 03:31

I almost forgot, but this showed up in my newsfeed:

Raise your copy of The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. Author Paula Danziger would have been 64 today.

While Gymsuit was her best-known book (and her first), the former teacher wrote 30 other books, including her Amber Brown tales, and was memorable off the page. As the New York Times once noted, Danziger might have become a stand-up comic. And for public appearances, the Times said, ''she decked herself out with rhinestone-trimmed glasses, feather hats and beaded outfits, talked fast and was funny.''

That last point held true even after she died in July 2004 from complications following a heart attack. Her paid death notice in the Times said, '''Paula Danziger, beloved children's book writer, would like to inform you that she isn't avoiding your calls, she passed away.

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OK, Make Them Flying - Armed - Pigs...

By Armed Liberal at 02:51

To complete my bizarre day, I was sent a link to a local TV News story on shooting. A positive story, about the 'Steel Challenge' handgun competition.


The range this is shot at is the range I have been too lazy to go and train at, ISI in Piru, California. A place I need to get my lazy butt out to pretty soon...

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Millionaire Flying Pigs

By Armed Liberal at 00:36

I take a break for a moment from work and see that, somehow, Kevin Drum and his commenters are agreeing with John McCain that it might take $5 million to be rich.

Winged pigs just flew past my second-story window, and I'm nervously eyeing the sky for thunder.

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  • John Moore: Lazarus, As one of the conservative Vietnam vets who fought read more
  • R Gould-Saltman: mmm.... I've got a pre-nup (actually two, but whataya expect, read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: My guess is that this meme will have legs, but read more

August 18, 2008

Help Mike Hendrix Out...

By Armed Liberal at 20:16

I've met Mike Hendrix, I kinda know Mike Hendrix, I like Mike Hendrix, and when Mike Hendrix asks for the blog audience to give him a hand and toss a few bucks his way - I'm in.

You should be as well. You didn't need that fattening lunch today. How about tossing him a $20 instead?

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  • Mike: Thanks very much indeed, Marc. And next time you get read more
  • Steve: [Steve, that's not how you get a link exchange with read more

Obama And Closing The Deal

By Armed Liberal at 05:43

"Always Be Closing" as Mamet tells us. I've voiced my support for Obama for some time, both for strategic reasons - I'd like to get the Democrats engaged in our foreign policy problems, rather than making them a one-party issues ("the GOP war, etc.) - and for personal ones - I believe my values are fundamentally progressive (i.e. I believe that government exists in no small part to counterbalance the powerful and wealthy) and I think Obama better represents those values.

But I'm tetchy. I keep digging into his biography, and finding places where what he says doesn't line up with what he did. That's not striking - welcome to politics - but since he's selling us in no small part his own beliefs rather than his accomplishments, it would be nice to see those beliefs more deeply in the context of his biography.

I've suggested - and will keep suggesting - things he could do to make me more comfortable. Now I guess that makes me a "concern troll", and means that no one on the Democratic side of the house should give a rip what I say.

Then again, maybe not.

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  • M. Simon: Gosh, it's getting deep in here, and had very little read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: I'm sorry, I didn't refresh while composing my last comment, read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Nort: First, I'm not privy to what the North Vietnamese read more

August 17, 2008

Sam Ruiz, 1937 - 2008

By Armed Liberal at 01:39

I wrote about him almost exactly six months ago.

We just walked out to take some boxes of stuff to Goodwill before we go out to a dinner tonight. My neighbor's daughter was in the driveway, crying. Sam had just passed, at home, in his own bed.

We talked with her, and with her sister and brother who came out to wait for the mortuary van. We stood and talked about him, and when we left, they were laughing about things he'd said and done.

I know it was his time, but damn, I'm sad.

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  • GK: Sad. He sounded like a nice man, good father, neighbor, read more

August 16, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

By Tarek Heggy at 13:17

(died on 3rd August,2008 at the age of 90) ...

The life of the Nobel laureate, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, from the day he was born in 1918 until he was deported from the Soviet Union in 1974, epitomizes the brutal oppression visited by the Soviet Union on its citizens. In this model communist society, which serves as a shining example of the successful implementation of the dictatorship of the proletariat to all the others, fundamental freedoms are conspicuously absent and human rights violations the order of the day.

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  • Nortius Maximus: PD: Thanks for the heads-up. For those not informed, Callimachus read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Grim's an optimist. I usually figure humanity as currently constituted read more
  • Kirk Parker: PD (#7): ROFL!!! read more

August 15, 2008

Jerry Wexler And Loving What You Do

By Armed Liberal at 18:37

Jerry Wexler, who coined the term 'rhythm & blues' died yesterday.

I'm commenting on this because he was one of my dad's great friends from his youth - back in New York City in the 1930's where they worked at a 'race music' record store together along with a third buddy, a guy named Ralph Gleason.

Wexler went on to work at Billboard after the war, and along with Ahmet Ertegun, founded Atlantic Records. Gleason went on to found a jazz club with my dad after the war in San Francisco, and then became the music columnist for the SF Chronicle and then cofounded Rolling Stone. My dad went on to become an executive at a construction company, a job he had no love for but did very well at.

The lesson? Do what you love and success will come. I have told this story to my sons about a million times, and now, triggered by Wexler's death, I'm sharing it with you.

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  • bgates: AL, how can you derive that lesson from the juxtaposition read more
  • Armed Liberal: Mike - donno - spelling issues?? Try this or this read more
  • Mike: Marc, A big post on a record producer, Wexler, and read more

Los Angeles And The Los Angeles Times

By Armed Liberal at 18:29

So I went to the LA Library last night to sit and listen to a panel discussion on "Los Angeles Without The Los Angeles Times." It was a panel discussion with these panelists:

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  • virgil xenophon: What? No Tony Pierce at attendance? The more to give read more
  • Achillea: "some philanthropists ought to step up and buy the Times read more

August 14, 2008

Sorry About That

By Armed Liberal at 23:36

Resident whiz evariste fixed the broken free ice-cream machine, and explained the problem (we're having two: malformed comments from spammers seemed to shut down PHP, and akismet keeps going down) in language even I could understand.

Apologies all around...

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Do You Have Anything To Say Before We Find You Guilty?*

By Armed Liberal at 06:28

The RSS excerpt on this incoherent New York Times editorial caught my attention:

Then the F.D.A. should move as quickly as possible to determine the effects of menthol and what should be done to regulate or ban it.

You know, this whole research and factfinding thing is kind of tiresome. We're pretty sure it might be a problem - therefore let's regulate or ban it. Because you can never have enough regulation, and you can never ban enough things to make people truly safe and healthy.

I'm becoming a Libertarian, I swear...the more I read this drivel, the more tempting a subscription to Reason looks.

*...I'll leave the provenance of the quote to the crowd. No fair using Google.

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  • Nortius Maximus: I wrote: I don't wish to carry on an extended read more
  • Nortius Maximus: I don't wish to carry on an extended discussion with read more

The Senator May Have Some Issues

By Armed Liberal at 02:34

In a story in the local Santa Rosa paper, it is suggested that the outburst by Sen Pat Wiggins I linked to below may be part of an emerging pattern of behavior, rather than simple rudeness:

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  • TK: I think, Manny, you may be missing the point. Whatever read more
  • manny: let's be serious, that guy didn't say a damn thing read more

It's Always Nice When the People Who Know What They Are Talking About Agree With Me

By Armed Liberal at 02:07

(...who only occasionally knows what I'm talking about).

Down in the comments on Georgia, I suggested sending in a hospital plane and unarmed troops.

Austin Bay has an interesting piece on his proposed response to a Georgia-type event...and kind of agrees with me (in a more knowledgeable way):

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  • David Blue: #10 from Mark Buehner: The Russians are liars, have lied read more
  • Mark Buehner: TRILLIAN: "A second later and they would have been dead." read more
  • Mark Buehner: "IGOETI, Georgia (Reuters) - A Russian military convoy advanced to read more


By Armed Liberal at 01:38

I did a podcast interview with Skewz editor Vipul Vyas this morning; it was a little unfocused, but a fun conversation. It'll be up in a day or so and I'll link to it here.

But I wanted to take a second and point you at their site - it's one of a new breed of interesting news aggregators that potentially go a step beyond Digg or reddit by allowing useful user annotation of the stories that get promoted. I'll comment more on these new critters as well as on my podcast when it comes up.

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  • sfman: Check out Skewz's media bias comparison chart it is very read more
  • Texan99: What an interesting site. Thanks for the link. read more

I Was Amused, And Now I'm Outraged - The Press Turns A Blind Eye To Edwards' Affair.

By Armed Liberal at 01:13

Not at John Edwards, who's just a fallible person, but at the press who effectively acted as his beards during his affair.

Take a look at this picture, shot by Robert Scoble from the Washington Post today:


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  • Recipes: the press should turn a blind eye, its not our read more
  • PD Shaw: AJL: I think you've got the timing wrong on the read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Two more serious observations: First, I think we need to read more

August 12, 2008

Solzhenitsyn's "A World Split Apart"

By Joe Katzman at 00:06

Found myself directed to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's "A World Split Apart" speech the other day, in the wake of his recent death. While I would point out that the "spiritual training" he referred to had the flip side of many training failures, and that spiritual development must be freely chosen in order to be meaningful, his late 1970s speech remains thought provoking to this day.

Here's a time line of his life. For those who don't know him, Solzhenitsyn was the writer of the Gulag Archipelago trilogy, which chronicled the horrors of the Soviet Union's concentration camps. The Left has always hated him for that, and expended a great deal of effort to characterize him as a liar while the Soviet Union still stood. Those efforts were, in fact, a large part of the reason I became disillusioned with the Left at a very young age. I could not stand with the promoters of, and liars on behalf of, concentration camps.. and of course, the opening of Soviet archives would later show that authors like Solzhenitsyn and Robert Conquest had in fact been telling and documenting the truth.

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  • Herb: Reagan wrote in his diary of congressional Democrats: "They are read more
  • Armed Liberal: You know, I'm going to have to kind of agree read more

August 11, 2008

California's Thoughtful Legislators

By Armed Liberal at 19:47

At a state Senate hearing on California's efforts to cut emissions and shadowbox global warming, an African-American Sacramento preacher was pushing for participation in this process by minority spokespeople - because they will have the most trouble bearing the higher energy costs associated with going green.

He got an earful from Democratic Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa...

She's since apologized, shockingly...

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  • Texan99: I wish I could have taken it that way, and read more
  • TK: Yegad....where did you hear all of that? I heard a read more
  • Texan99: Maybe I'm too cynical, but what I heard in the read more

Georgia Is Very Much On My Mind

By Armed Liberal at 19:29

You read about people who have cancer, feel fine, and then get the news. The day before they got the news, they were still ill, they just didn't know it. They might have had twinges, or some concerns. But until the test results came in, they thought they were fine. I feel similarly about Georgia - it's the lab result that reminds us that we face a strong, ruthless, imperialistic power in Russia that fully intends to get its place at the superpower table back, by any means necessary.

I read a lot of the commentary over the weekend, and a lot of it makes the question of 'cause' deeper and murkier than ever. It's likely that Georgia overreached; it's equally likely that Russia would have acted sooner or later regardless. The question is whether Russia intends to eat Georgia in one bite now, or just weaken it enough that the Georgian leadership reconsiders the value of a close relationship with the US.

One of the negative consequences of our balancing act on Iran is the fact that we're dependent on the Russians and Chinese to help keep the situation there metastable - meaning that our freedom of action is severely limited elsewhere.

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  • Mark Poling: Did everyone note this: "We're working closely with our partners read more
  • M. Simon: And, of course, it helps to think through what comes read more
  • gabriel: Looks like reporters are the newest russian targets. I could read more

Bay Area Weekend

By Armed Liberal at 19:02

Sorry for the silence - we had another family road trip this weekend to fetch Littlest Guy from camp.

Here he is, looking all James Dean in front of his Stanford (boo!) dorm...


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  • exdem13: Heh, Littlest Guy playing the Angry Young Man there, gives read more
  • Armed Liberal: Damn! If I'd thought about it - apologies, I would read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Top Dog has always had the libertarian literature, at least, read more

August 7, 2008

Fish. Barrel. Bang.

By Armed Liberal at 04:57

I'm sorry for stealing Gerard Vanderleun's oft-used title for this, but I really can't think of any other name for the opportunity the Ceiling Cat has placed in my lap today.

See, I was reading Jeff Jarvis' feed, as I usually, do, and he was commenting favorably on the New Jersey Star Ledger's video newsroom; he mentioned that there had been some dialog with a blogger, which I thought might be amusing, and so I clicked over and watched it.

The video is embedded below. Go to 5:55 to see the part I'm discussing...

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  • exdem13: Regarding Post #7 Yes, if the MSM were more organized read more
  • Jeff: I would buy more traditional news, if it were facts. read more
  • Glen Wishard: By all means, let us have stories about questionable campaign read more

August 6, 2008

These People Need To Go See Swing Vote...

By Armed Liberal at 06:39

via talkLeft, we get this love letter to America from outrage blogger Skimble:

If McCain wins, it will be because Americans deserve him, just as we have deserved Bush Junior. If Obama wins, he will be a glorified janitor for the endless piles of shit the GOP left in its wake. Just as Bill Clinton was for Reagan and Bush Senior.

Our complacency will be our downfall, and I no longer care. Let Rush Limbaugh and ExxonMobil have America - it's becoming a crumbling shithole anyway.

And on that happy note, we end the blog.

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  • virgil xenophon: The most classic take on inverterant cell phone mania is read more
  • GK: "It's inferior even to Dungeons and Dragons." Ha ha. One read more
  • h0mi: Government regulation is the reason a gasoline refinery hasnt been read more

Celebrity Supporters Risk Torpedoing Obama

By Armed Liberal at 06:13

OK, look. Someone in the Obama campaign is responsible for celebrity-wrangling - they have to be, it's a modern campaign. If there were any republican celebrities, McCain would have someone, too.

But this is freaking embarrassing. Are you folks tone deaf or just stupid?

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  • Mark Buehner: This Russian agression is outrageous. Im angry at Bush for read more
  • PD Shaw: Oops. Kick Russia out of the G8, replace them with read more
  • PD Shaw: Kick China out of the G8, replace them with Brazil. read more

Al-Sadr Declares Victory, Disarms

By Armed Liberal at 05:09

Back in March, when Maliki was starting to pressure Al-Sadr militarily, I stated that "I Don't Think Winning Sides In Battle Make Many Offers". Many of the antiwar commentators slammed me pretty strongly.

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  • Armed Liberal: Actually, SAO, I think it's the first - I'd welcome read more
  • SAO: Wait, before we all assess our sophisticated longitudinalish judgements I read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Speaking of Iraqi goalposts. I see the provincial elections have read more

Information Warfare - The Professional Take

By Armed Liberal at 04:40

Mountainrunner has a great summary article up on "New Media and Persuasion, Mobilization, and Facilitation" - go read it and see what the grownups are talking about.

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One Problem With Cloud Computing and SaaS

By Armed Liberal at 02:40

From Chris Brogan's blog, about unhappy Google customer Nick Saber:

Suddenly, Nick can’t access his Gmail account, can’t open Google Talk (our office IM app), can’t open Picasa where his family pictures are, can’t use his Google Docs, and oh by the way, he paid for additional storage. So, this is a paying customer with no access to the Google empire.

If he was doing something wrong/illegal/invalid, they might’ve said so (not thinking that he was). If he had been hacked, wouldn’t that be something vaguely apparent? I dunno, but it seems like that’d be the way.

So, what happens now? What does Nick do? He’s sent a bunch of emails. But now what? Locked out of ALL of Google’s apps, the apps that I praise daily, the apps where Julien Smith and I are writing a book. Should we be doing that? I didn’t see a problem until this. What if we’re the next Nick?

...customer service. It's the new sales...

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  • Beard: I guess you're a lot more trusting than me, to read more
  • Chris Brogan...: The very last line you added in is the best: read more

Going Solar - Part 3

By Armed Liberal at 02:15

Another step - today the engineer came out and did the site drawings for the 3.1Kw solar system we're leasing for $76/month from Solar City.

He spent about an hour measuring and photographing (I should have taken pictures of him), and I signed off and approved the placement, and we'll have drawings for the permit in about two weeks.

Counting down...

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  • GK: The tax incentive changes the whole calculation. Solatube is a read more
  • Armed Liberal: Fast version - our current electric bill is about $140/month, read more
  • GK: While there are many noble reasons to go solar besides read more

August 5, 2008

Syrian General Killed By Maritime Sniper

By Armed Liberal at 18:48

Over at Abu Muqawama, Charlie posts a information bleg from Andy Exum, abu muqawama himself:

Charlie got this email this morning:

Uh, Abu Muqawama wants to send out an RFI to the readership of, uh, AbuMuqawama.

Can one of you link to these two stories about this assassinated Syrian general -- who was allegedly shot from a boat, in the sea -- and ask the readership whether or not shooting someone with a sniper rifle from a f*cking boat (which is, presumably, rocking and unsteady) is or is not the hardest thing in the world. I mean, how feasible is this?

AM (from Beirut)

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  • GK: The record longest distance for a sniper kill is 1.5 read more
  • J Aguilar: I find strange that a sniper shoots four times. Moreover, read more
  • Mark Buehner: Good point. Maybe the guy was skimming a little more read more

By Armed Liberal at 01:27

Just pre-ordered Bing West's new book "The Strongest Tribe" over at Amazon.

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  • Nathan: With all do respect to Mr. West, he needs to read more

August 4, 2008

Twiddling, While Washington Burns

By Demosophist at 22:39

I was somewhat surprised by the fact that the vote in the US Congress on the annual "August Recess," was so partisan. Only a handful of Republican Representatives voted in favor. Washington, DC in August is a hellhole. It's extremely uncomfortable, and the August recess dates from the days before air conditioning, when it wasn't just uncomfortable to live here, but unbearable. While A/C makes the situation marginally better, it's still a poisonous environment. People succumb to heart attacks just going for a short bike ride.

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  • Brett Bellmore: ". As Time has shown the value of tire-gauge fixing read more
  • Armed Liberal: LOL - he only did it once, near the end read more
  • PD Shaw: A.L. Hey! My Dad actually did "fly over the Hump"... read more

The 2008 Election, Encapsulated In One Day

By Armed Liberal at 18:18

So yesterday TG and I went and had dim sum (Empress Pavilion, crowded and excellent as usual) with a colleague and his wife, and then went to a Democratic fundraiser in the afternoon.

And somehow the experience completely summarized the state of the election for me.

My colleague is a young technology worker who drives a Prius and lives in Eagle Rock (the place where the hip people priced out of Silverlake move - which was in turn the place where the hip people who were priced out of Los Feliz moved). Over the holidays, we talked politics and he was a rabid Obama supporter. Today, not so much. He'll vote for him, but it's very tepid support. Why? Well, three things were mentioned: 1) Obama seems to only hold positions of convenience; 2) Obama seems to be a little more full of himself than his real accomplishments warrant; and 3) my friend no longer seems to be certain of exactly who Obama is.

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  • Nortius Maximus: #43: Move and countermove, Mr Gould-Saltman. No method is perfect. read more
  • PD Shaw: _OK, now, anyone out there want to tell me what read more
  • R Gould-Saltman: Yeah, but aren't the spammers simply going to revert to read more

An Israeli in Kosovo

By Michael Totten at 10:47


Imagine what would happen to a handful of Jewish veterans of the Israel Defense Forces who tried to move from Tel Aviv to an Arab country to open a bistro and bar. In only a few countries could they even get through the airport without being deported or, more likely, arrested. If they were somehow able to finagle a permit from the bureaucracy and operate openly as Israelis in an Arab capital, they wouldn’t last long. Somebody would almost certainly kill them even if the state left them alone.

Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country, but it isn’t Arab. The ethnic Albanians who make up around 90 percent of the population reject out of hand the vicious war-mongering anti-Semitism that still boils in the Middle East. Israelis can open a bistro and bar in Kosovo without someone coming to get them or even harassing them. Shachar Caspi, co-owner of the Odyssea Bistro and the Odyssea Bakery, proves it.

Read the rest at

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August 2, 2008

Go See Swing Vote 2

By Armed Liberal at 17:30

and then there are the's a brilliant ad in which GOP incumbent (played really well by Kelsey Grammar) comes out for gay marriage, based on a random comment from Costner.

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  • Grim: #29: "What Acts 10-11 tells me is that even God read more
  • Nortius Maximus: #27: And my point is (in part) that if you're read more
  • Beard: Grim: What Acts 10-11 tells me is that even God read more

Swing Vote

By Armed Liberal at 07:36

Just had a delightful evening. (Yes, the BBQ at Phillip's is the best in town, in case you were wondering. We went to the new one on Adams and Crenshaw where they kind of sort of have seats in the parking lot.)

We went and saw Swing Vote in a half-empty theater in Culver City.

I'm going to make it my mission to start filling those seats, because I thought it was one of the most delightful and important movies I've seen this year. Yes, I saw and loved Batman and Wall-E - and The Band's Visit.

But I think this movie was made for me, the guy who loves America because a nation full of Bud Johnsons gets to pick the President. And who believes that given the opportunity, most people will do the right thing - as both Presidential candidates, Bud, and a host of other characters in the movie finally do.

Yes, it's Capra-esque and that's a mine that has been well worked since the master laid down his tools. And no, it isn't incisive or brilliantly sharp. But you know, when the form works, it works. And this movie works and sells you on the possibility of goodness. I'm kind of tired of movies that revel in denying goodness and work to crush it wherever it might be found. The movie is a valentine to the America we all can - and should - love, and no one ought to reject a Valentine.

More later...

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  • Nortius Maximus: [T]he character portrayed by Bud Johnson "Bud Johnson" is the read more
  • Demosophist: The passage of values and behavioral standards is so essential read more
  • Calvin: But I think this movie was made for me, the read more

A Honey of an Idea

By Joe Katzman at 02:25

Farouk Jiwa noticed an odd thing when he returned to his native Kenya. Jars of imported honey from Australia and the USA, even though Kenya is known around the world for its wildlife and flora, and has plenty of farmers operating just above subsistence levels.

He thought a bit. What if you could offer microcredit to Kenyan farmers, plus some basic training in beekeeping, at pre-screened sites? Then buy the honey at a guaranteed price. Market it locally and throughout Kenya, and possibly even beyond. Within its first 4 years of operation, it had 27% of the Kenyan honey market.

  • The farmers get a money-making enterprise that satisfies a clear local demand, and gives them extra income: about $200-250 per year for its network of 2,500 Kenyan beekeepers. That makes a difference to a family, when national GDP per capita is $1,100 (2004 est.).
  • The local crops (and wild plants, too) all get better pollination. Environmental benefit.
  • Like all microcredit enterprises, it brings more women into the economy than traditional economic channels. This, in turn, gives them more control over their lives.
  • Kenya's balance of trade improves slightly.
  • Honey Care Africa (launched in 2000) can make money on both the microcredit and honey sales, in order to expand the program.

HCA's Kenyan market share is about 40% now, and the program has expanded to neighboring Tanzania. In a bit of a switch, Kenyan honey with the Honey Care Africa label can now be found at stores in the USA and Europe.

How do you lift people out of poverty? Through social entrepreneurship and approaches like this - Sustainable Local Enterprise Networks, as opposed to projects that mostly enrich a middle group of development "consultants," or funnel money to the Swiss bank accounts of dictators. Stuff that does good, and is sustainable, rather than just selling donor "feel good" while lining others' pockets. Congratulations, Farouk Jiwa.

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How Freaking Weird Entertaining Would It Be...

By Armed Liberal at 00:46 be Iowahawk's kid?

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