Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why Do People Love to be Scared?

Here's a good article explaining that we have the human capacity to "gauge realistically the actual level of threat," and thus experience excitement rather than fear.

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Every Halloween, Americans spend millions on scary fun. From haunted
houses to horror movies, teens as well as adults seem to crave a good
spine-chilling scare.

People enjoy feeling scared and seek the feeling out because, deep
down, they know they are in no real danger, according to David Rudd,
dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University
of Utah.

They understand the real risk of these activities is marginal, and
because of this underlying awareness, they experience excitement
rather than actual fear
, Rudd explained. This is why people enjoy
going on terrifying amusement park rides and walking through a
Halloween-themed haunted house.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

U.S. Department of Defense: 9 Billion unaccounted for

Anyone troubles by this at all?

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The U.S. Department of Defense got more than $9 billion from the sale of Iraqi oil and other revenue streams to be used for reconstruction inside the war-damaged nation and spent it but now cannot document where $8.7 billion of those funds went, according to an inspector general's report published online.

The report, dated July 27, but still unreported in media outlets, documented, "Weakness in DoD's financial management controls left it unable to properly account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in DFI (Development Fund for Iraq) funds it received for reconstruction activities in Iraq.


Gays in the military and "don't ask don't tell"

Does the difference lie in the presence of a compulsory draft?

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JERUSALEM (RNS) Israel, like the United States, is a largely secular society with deep religious roots. And Israel, like the United States, is home to vocal religious conservatives who frown on homosexuality.

But Israel, unlike the United States, has allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for 17 years. In fact, they are required to.

So, if Israel has found a way to allow gays in the military, can it provide lessons to the U.S. as it struggles with whether—and how—to dismantle Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell?

Perhaps. But like everything in Israel, it’s a bit more complicated. And the comparison between the U.S. and Israel is inexact.

By most accounts, Israel’s integration of gays in the military has succeeded, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has reportedly begun to share its experiences with the U.S. military.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Farewell, many thanks, and safe flight Mr. Anderson.

(I wonder if one could actually SEE Russia from Frostbite Falls?)

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In the Wayback Machine, it’s a very short trip to 1959 and the debut of “Rocky and His Friends” — the cartoon series featuring characters originated by Alex Anderson. Mr. Anderson died Friday at the age of 90 after a life spent mostly in advertising.

Jay Ward, who created the series, was clearly responsibly for its anarchic spirit. But Mr. Anderson’s leading characters — Rocky the flying squirrel and his pal, Bullwinkle the moose — are lodged in the imagination of Americans of a certain age. Say the words “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and suddenly we’re in Frostbite Falls, surrounded by Boris and Natasha, the Russian spies, and Mr. Peabody, the calm, pedantic owner of the Wayback Machine.

An entire generation got its first impression of our Soviet rivals from Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. The two plotted and bickered and — reassuringly — were always thwarted.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Juan Williams, Vivian Schiller, and Suicide Bombers

Here are a couple of paragraphs from an article I wrote this morning.

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Khalid Tanveer, in his AP article writes of the suicide bomb killing 5 and wounding 13 during morning prayers Monday at the Farid Shakar Ganj shrine in the Punjab province in Pakistan.
According to Tanveer, the attacks derive from the perception that the practice of mystical Sufism clashes with hard line interpretations of Islamist militants

The overwhelming burden of sadness that fills our hearts as we ponder the tragic and violent deaths and maiming of innocent people who had arisen in their modest lives to pray at dawn, is so perfectly different from the gagging I feel when wading through more media narcissism this time on the pampered over importance afforded such celebrity bourgeoisie as Juan Williams and Vivian Schiller. Yet both stories address the same deeply serious matter, namely the contemporary dimension of violence associated with Islam.Read more at

Opinion: Juan Williams, Vivian Schiller, and Suicide Bombers

Opinion: Juan Williams, Vivian Schiller, and Suicide Bombers

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saudi King, Ahmadinejad Talk Politics on Phone 12/10/2010 « Values Forum of New World Encyclopedia

Saudi King, Ahmadinejad Talk Politics on Phone 12/10/2010 « Values Forum of New World Encyclopedia

In South Dakota: Another Sarah Palin?

Is killing large animals a requisite for women in politics?

Democrat Herseth-Sandlin might have thought that being a hunter was sufficient to win this November, but her challenger Republican Kristi Noem hunts elk with bow and arrow.

Perhaps an Independent who kills animals with her bare teeth would beat them both in this highly observed South Dakota race for Congress

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Herseth-Sandlin is an avid hunter and one of the top conservative Democrats in the House. She's also from a highly regarded South Dakota political family; her grandfather was a governor, her grandmother a South Dakota Secretary of State and her father a leader in the state legislature.

But Herseth-Sandlin has never faced a challenger like Kristi Noem. She's a rancher, a mother of three, and a staunch conservative who is running on a platform of slashing federal spending and repealing the new federal health care law. She's also an avid hunter known to hunt elk with a bow and arrow. Her political views and physical appearance have led some to label her "South Dakota's Sarah Palin."


Monday, October 11, 2010

A younger generation of Chinese military leaders

New York Times:

The United States is the enemy

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The Pentagon is worried that its increasingly tense relationship with the Chinese military owes itself in part to the rising leaders of Commander Cao’s generation, who, much more than the country’s military elders, view the United States as the enemy. Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.

Theyounger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kim Jong Un and North Korea

"In his 20's," and already has a 1.2 million person army with a nuclear arsenal.

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It was a momentous public debut for Kim Jong Un less than two weeks after he was made a four-star general in the first in a series of appointments that set him firmly on the path to succession, which would carry the Kim dynasty over the communist country into a third generation.

Kim Jong Un
The earlier parade was said to be the nation's largest ever
Thousands of troops from every branch of North Korea's 1.2 million-member military,

Trucks loaded with katyusha rocket launchers rolled past. They were dwarfed by a series of missiles that paraded by, each larger than the last and emblazoned with: "Defeat the U.S. military. U.S. soldiers are the Korean People's Army's enemy."

"If the U.S. imperialists and their followers infringe on our sovereignty and dignity even slightly, we will blow up the stronghold of their aggression with a merciless and righteous retaliatory strike by mobilizing all physical means, including self-defensive nuclear deterrent force, and achieve the historic task of unification," Ri Yong Ho, chief of the General Staff of the North Korean army, said at the event.

The question of who will take over leadership of the nuclear-armed nation of 24 million has been a pressing one since Kim Jong Il reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008.

Kim is believed to be in his 20s. Read more at

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Fresh Challenges"

Today's lead paragraph award in the category 'unagitated' goes to Chris Spillane and Ryan Flinn of Bloomberg Businessweek

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Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Segway Inc. may face fresh challenges trying to broaden the appeal of its transporter after the company’s owner died driving the vehicle off a cliff.


Thursday, October 7, 2010