Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Predictions 2008

It's a little early for predictions for 2008, but here are some of mine:

1. The situation in Iraq will stay quiet. Bush will claim credit for that.
2. Progress will be made in Middle East peace talks. Bush will claim credit for that.
3. A surgical airstrike will be made against Iran to take out a facility which, as will be claimed, is being used to make an A-bomb. No all out war, just a (successful, of course) surgical strike. Bush will claim credit for that.
3. Neither Hillary, Obama or Rudolph will be the candidates. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates will be white Anglo-Saxon males, middle of the road, with very few real differences between them. They will both look like Bush.
4. The election will be again decided with a 51-49% margin in the popular vote. The Republican will win (see points 1-3 above). Bush will take credit for that, even though the Republican candidate will not want him to campaign for or with him.
5. Essentially, nothing will change. Bush will take credit for that.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Think positive

"The reason I don't worry about society is, 19 people knocked down two buildings and killed thousands.
Hundreds of people ran into those buildings to save them.
I'll take those odds every day."

Jon Stewart (I'm sure he didn't think this up. A writer did.)

About being positive.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kiva 2

Well I signed up for Kiva yesterday.
The site is so busy that they are only allowing people to make loans of $25,00.
I made two. I was interested in variety: man/woman, city/rural, Africa/Asia.
One to Iyabo Adesat of Nigeria (Lagos).
She deals in paper and needed $400,00.
Within a few hours she had it.
The other to Shavkat Tohirov of Tajikistan.
He has five sheep and needs $200,00 to buy feed for them.
Yesterday his loan was completed also.
Today I got this email regarding him:

Thank you for your loan. It has been disbursed to Shavkat Tohirov by MLF MicroInvest-Tajikistan in Tajikistan. We are excited to watch this business grow. Over the next 4 - 10 months, MLF MicroInvest-Tajikistan will be collecting repayments from this entrepreneur and posting progress updates on the Kiva website.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Last night in my down time I was zapping and came across Oprah Winfrey.
There was Bill Clinton.
I have already said on this weblog that I like him a lot better than I do G.W.
Oprah was promoting Clinton's book "Give" (the programs are shown here much later).
A website that specializes in microcredit was mentioned.
Click here for the the information on the Winfrey site.
You can choose a small entrepreneur to whom you want to make a small loan - as little as $25.00.
Via the website you can follow the project and keep track of the repayments.
When you money is repaid (without interest) you can reinvest it in another business.
As far as I can see it looks pretty reliable.
The default rate is about 0.2%.
I think I might give it a try.
I'll keep you up to date about how it is going.
Sounds like fun!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The world is getting better!

I have believed for a long time that the world is getting better, not worse.
I have seen two things recently that help confirm that for me.
One is the quote below.
I must admit that I no longer know where the quote came from.
I usually check out my internet sources pretty well, so I believe it is from a reputable source.
The other is a talk given by the Swedish scientist Hans Rosling.
Fascinating to watch, and not only because of the excellent presentation.

It's not very popular to believe that things are getting better.
People will consider you a heretic along the lines of someone who doesn't believe in hell.
For some reason we enjoy being pessimistic.

As I’ve pointed out several times already, annual per capita income (in real dollars) was $90 in 12,000 BCE. It took nearly 14,000 years for it to double to $180 in 1750. By 2000 it was $6,600 a year! The number of people in the world living on less than a $1 a day (in real dollars) was 84% in 1820. Today it is less than 20% and expected to be less than 10% by 2020. All of this during a period when the world population grew from less than 1 billion people to 6 billion people! Furthermore, in all but a handful of nations the number of number of children dying before their first birthday has fallen to well under 10% (less than 1% in developed nations), life expectancy has risen by 50-100%. No nation that engages in open trade with other nations has experienced famine in the last fifty years. Disease after disease is being eradicated.
We live in an era of the greatest expansion in widely shared wealth and health in the history of humanity! By historical standards, the last 300 years of human history are just stunning.

Click here for the Hans Rosling video.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Non Sequitur

It's always a lot of fun to watch or read a Bush press conference (not).
You don't even need to be a Hollywood writer on strike to find funny things.
Like this non sequitur:

Q Okay. Mr. President, with oil approaching $100 a barrel, are you concerned that your hard words for Iran on its nuclear program are helping drive up oil prices, which can end up hurting the U.S. economy?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I believe oil prices are going up because the demand for oil outstrips the supply for oil. Oil is going up because developing countries still use a lot of oil. Oil is going up because we use too much oil, and the capacity to replace reserves is dwindling. That's why the price of oil is going up.

I believe it is important for us to send clear signals to the Iranian government that the free world understands the risks of you trying to end up with a nuclear weapon. And, therefore, we will work together to try to find if there's not rational people inside your government who are tired of isolation and who believe there's a better way forward.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


It must be contagious.
President Bushes' language dexterity, I mean.
I saw this in a Press Briefing with Dana Perino:

MS. PERINO: The President vetoed this bill because he felt it was fiscally irresponsible. The House passed a bill that was $14 billion; the Senate passed a bill that was $15 billion. And when they got together to work out their differences, they came out with a bill that's $23 billion. This is an authorization bill; not a penny goes out of the coiffures to pay for any projects. It is a chance for members of Congress, from all areas of the country, from both sides of the aisle to come forward with their ideas for what they think would be the best project.

It's probably because coiffure is a French word, and the French President is visiting in Washington now.

On another off-pitch note:
The response to the events in Pakistan shows again the lack of principle of this Administration and its penchant to interpret events only in light of: what is good for us?
The difference between the response of the White House to Burma (where's Burma?) and Pakistan is striking.
Even Dana Perino admits that.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The business of Death

This video found on Boing Boing.
I like the being buried in the forest idea.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Health Care

Excerpts from the New York Times. For the whole article, click here.

“My chance of surviving prostate cancer — and thank God I was cured of it — in the United States? Eighty-two percent,” says Rudy Giuliani in a new radio ad attacking Democratic plans for universal health care. “My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England? Only 44 percent, under socialized medicine.”

It would be a stunning comparison if it were true. But it isn’t. And thereby hangs a tale — one of scare tactics, of the character of a man who would be president and, I’m sorry to say, about what’s wrong with political news coverage.

You see, the actual survival rate in Britain is 74.4 percent. That still looks a bit lower than the U.S. rate, but the difference turns out to be mainly a statistical illusion. The details are technical, but the bottom line is that a man’s chance of dying from prostate cancer is about the same in Britain as it is in America.

Anyway, comparisons with Britain have absolutely nothing to do with what the Democrats are proposing. In Britain, doctors are government employees; despite what Mr. Giuliani is suggesting, none of the Democratic candidates have proposed to make American doctors work for the government.

As a fact-check in The Washington Post put it: “The Clinton health care plan” — which is very similar to the Edwards and Obama plans — “has more in common with the Massachusetts plan signed into law by Gov. Mitt Romney than the British National Health system.” Of course, this hasn’t stopped Mr. Romney from making similar smears.

The fact is that the prostate affair is part of a pattern: Mr. Giuliani has a habit of saying things, on issues that range from health care to national security, that are demonstrably untrue. And the American people have a right to know that.


For those who think I am not capable of a critical note about the Clintons........
Click on the comic for a bigger version.