Archive for September, 2003


Pope on the Ropes

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

So it looks like we should probably expect the Pope to kick it in the next few weeks:

One of Germany’s leading cardinals admitted last night that the Pope is “in a bad way”, fueling speculation that the 83-year-old may have only weeks to live.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of the Pope’s closest advisers, said the pontiff was seriously ill and added bluntly: “We should pray for the Pope.”

So since there’s been so much horse-race speculation lately on who would win the democratic presidential primary, I figure it might be fun to speculate about the new pope. So let’s review a few facts:

–> Italians make up 20% of the of the papal electors
–> The Pope has just approved the addition of 31 new cardinals, all of whom are expected to be conservative
–> I’ve read (some time ago, sorry, no link) that the Italian cardinals are pissed about the increasing presence of Muslims on the Italian peninsula
–> The Catholic Church is becoming primarily a church of the southern hemisphere, and as North Americans and European Catholics continue to dwindle in number, there is a lot of talk about choosing a pope from the southern hemisphere
–> The European with the best chance of becoming pope is a German, who is reform minded, and therefore, has no chance
–> The current pope, a staunch conservative (in papal political terms) has appointed all but a handful of the cardinals who will be voting a successor
–> The two issues facing the “southern hemisphere church”, which is growing, is a) competition against evangelical protestants in South America, and b) competition against Islam in Africa
–> Only a simple majority is required to choose a new pope

All that having been said, what should we expect from the new pope? Here’s my best guess.

He’ll be African. He’ll be staunchly conservative, probably fluent in English so that he can a) scold the bad North American Catholics directly, and b) more easily coax donations from those same Catholics. I believe that the Italian cardinals, concerned about the spread of Islam, will choose a conservative pope who is like minded. I would expect the world’s first black pope, a man who in many ways will side with the US on current foreign policy related matters, but who will cause further drift between the Church and American Catholics, whose issues such as female ordination, contraception and gay acceptance, will be squashed quite directly. In a few years time, this could lead to a split among Catholics, with a Euro-American Church run more liberally, and a Southern Hemisphere Church, run more traditionally.

Just my 2 cents. Let’s see how right I am in a few weeks time.


Another Cow Cartoon for David

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

This is pretty surreal, but what the hey…



Animal Rights and Eco Terrorists

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

I read this article in Capitalism Magazine yesterday, about how we should be more concerned about eco-terrorism at home, and while I agreed with it, it struck me that the author was entirely forgetting about the eco-terrorists’ cousins, the animal rights terrorists. In many ways, they are much more violent, and their actions retard medical research and thus, all of our lives. Observe:

When the San Francisco Chronicle first reported that animal-rights activists had attacked Sonoma Foie Gras, owner Guillermo Gonzalez and his two partners in a soon-to-open store/bistro Sonoma Saveurs, it seemed it would be only a matter of time before the businessmen caved.

Perhaps the partners could absorb the cost of repairing vandalized machinery and removing nasty graffiti — as in “End Animal Torture.” But foie gras producer Gonzalez, Laurent Manrique and Didier Jaubert also had to pay a very personal price: Activists sent them threats, glued their car locks, invaded their homes and terrorized their families. In the nastiest episode, animal-rights activists videotaped Manrique’s family, including his 2-year-old son, in their home and garden. Then, they sent him the tape.

The column goes on to describe their tactics against medical research companies as well, and how they harass anyone associated with the company doing the research, including outside auditors. Unfortunately, far too many subjects of this harassment either quit or take action to mollify the terrorists. That’s what Gonzalez did. That never helps. They need to be taken head on. But admittedly, it’s hard when you don’t receive the police support you otherwise should.

Read the entire story here.


Free Speech Anyone?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

Mona Charen gets it as close to right as I’ve seen yet. Her intro sums it up:

If you are a stripper in a nightclub, or an aluminum siding salesman phoning Americans at suppertime, your activities are fully protected by the First Amendment. That is the import of last week’s decision thwarting the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call list. But if you are a political organization like the American Civil Liberties Union or the National Right to Life Committee, you may not run advertisements 60 days before a general election urging Americans to vote for or against any candidate. That is the state of the law at this moment.

She later goes on to frame this as a privacy dispute, whereas I see it as a matter of disturbing the peace, of abusing the public space of out phone system with bad behavior. But her characterization above got me.

Read the column here.


Camera phone Abuses

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

I’ve heard of privacy complaints before regarding camera phones, but digital shoplifting?

In Japan, improved picture quality has prompted bookshop browsers to use their camera phones to quietly snap a photo of, say, an interesting recipe out of a cooking magazine. Such maneuvers already have a name: “digital shoplifting.” Japanese magazine publishers have grown concerned enough about the potential for lost sales that in July and August the industry association mailed out posters to 33,000 bookstores nationwide, urging customers to “please refrain from recording information inside the store with your camera phone.”

I’ve said before that I think camera phones are a problem, but they may be an inevitable one. What happens when we all have wearable computers, or worse yet, embedded computers in our brain? How will you stop such theft then? And how will you stop locker-room “memories” from being transferred around the Internet? While a part of me thinks that camera phones represent a serious intrusion of our privacy, another part of me thinks that there’s nothing we can do about it, and that we all ought to just get used to the idea that everywhere we go, everything we say and do, will be recorded, no matter how private, and will be available for scrutiny on the Internet, perhaps even in our lifetimes.

Read the story here. (subscr. req)


Closer Crop Circle?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

I always thought that the Closer logo could make a good crop circle.


Must Read

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

I read a chapter of this book in Forbes this week. I think it will be a must-read by Christmas time. It’s about how to conduct good product development.

I read the excerpt in the print version, but it’s online already here.


A question…

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

It just struck me, while watching soft core porn on Showtime…

Is there such a thing as gay bukkake?

UPDATE: How come nobody corrected me on my obvious and vulgar typo there? (since corrected)


Doomed To War?????????

Monday, September 29th, 2003

Time Magazine considers the possibility that Iraq had no WMD’s, but that Saddam may have been under the false impression that he had them. Time puts it thusly:

It would be an irony almost too much to bear to consider that he doomed his country to war because he was intent on protecting weapons systems that didn’t exist in the first place.

Doomed his country to war????? Is Time magazine serious????? He doomed his government, but his country is immeasurably better for the war. Iraqi’s are far better off, and are soon to be handed a working, modern democracy with a market economy as a result. Really, someone over at Time should get their head checked out.

Read the story here.

(via Drudge)


Deus Dumpling

Sunday, September 28th, 2003

New recipe on Deus ex Culina… I’m rather proud of myself on this one. The results were fantastic. Go read and learn.

Baked Turkey Dumplings