Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chinese Company Counterfeits Glucose Monitoring Strips

Counterfeit DVD's and CD's are one thing, China, but counterfeit glucose monitoring strips? Thanks to the diligence of American company Johnson & Johnson, however, the counterfeiter has been discovered. Of course, such things could kill people, and the Chinese company making the things had make about a million of them.

I know this isn't the same as the other Chinese quality issues, but it still puts China in a very bad light. They've tolerated counterfeiting for so long that things like this are bound to happen.

My Second California Earthquake

On a personal note, I've now experienced my second California earthquick, albeit a tiny one--3.5. The ominous thing, though, is that the quake was centered in almost the exact same place as last week's 4.2 quake, north of Chatsworth, CA (which, again, is about 7 miles or so north of me).

I haven't studied earthquakes, but that does seem of some concern.

Boing Boing Publication of Web Site That Gives Out Sensitive Information - 404

This is odd (or maybe a hoax or inside joke), but Boing Boing has an RSS feed about a Web site that publishes highly sensitive information--information like the identities of intelligence agents which could, of course, get people killed. It's just like Boing Boing to post such a topic, because of course they love to stick it to the Man whenever they can (damn the consequences).

But, the Feedburner link in the RSS feed isn't live. Error 404. The Web site it references seems live, and is just as bad as I thought it would be (and no, I won't provide the link, nor the Boing Boing RSS feed that contains the link). Odd, though, that it's the only Boing Boing feed that hasn't resolved for me.

I wonder if they pulled it, or if it's just a strange coincidence.

Microsoft Using Government Against Competitors - Joining the Club, I Suppose

Microsoft long ago lost my respect as an organization (and, incidentally, Bill Gates as an individual). But, as this story in Ars Technica points out, Microsoft isn't opposed to using the same tactics that have been used against it for so long: lobbying government to use force against a competitor.

In this case, Microsoft is lobbying against the Google/Doubleclick merger. To see Microsoft using antitrust as a weapon against a competitor is nauseating. Those who don't like large companies should keep in mind that they only have power, beyond their own economic power (i.e., their ability to make a product or provide a service someone wants to buy), through their relationshiop with government.

It's the mixed economy, the perverted mixture of political power and economic power, that causes such sordid displays. And to think that I once imagined Microsoft to be above such things.

Russian Region Holds "Conception Day," Woman has Caesarian to Win Prize

Here's a Boing Boing article that I'm not going to attack: it seems that the Ulyanovsk region of Russia has been experiencing such a population decline that it's holding a "Conception Day" where prizes are handed out to new parents.

There was even a special prize for... Hell, I'll just quote:

The 2007 grand prize went to Irina and Andrei Kartuzov, who received a UAZ-Patriot, an SUV made in Ulyanovsk. They told reporters they were planning to have another child anyway when they heard about the contest.

Irina Kartuzova had to have a Caesarian section to deliver the baby and it was scheduled for June 12.

The selection committee chose the Kartuzovs from among the 78 couples because of their ``respectability'' and ``commendable parenting'' of their two older children, a spokesman for the governor said.

Of all the reasons to have a Caesarian section, this one takes the prize. Literally.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a heavy 5014 Diggs, is a link to a picture of a flyer that says it shouldn't be taken down. It's quite silly, and not really worth the time.

I do find it interesting, though, that this particular flyer is placed over the signage of a Jewish temple. I won't assume that's on purpose, because I don't know where else such flyers might have been placed. But I do find this flyer's placement curious.

Giuliani Understands a Little about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

Presidential hopeful Giuliani seems to have a firmer grasp of the Israeli/Palestinian situation than many politicians, as this story demonstrates.

The money quote:

Israel National News reported that "former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has bucked the party line of successive US administrations and come out against the establishment of a Palestinian State." They added that he "warned against the push by President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to establish a state in Judea & Samaria ruled by Fatah."

These comments by Giuliani were made in the September/October issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Giuliani also said that "it is not in the interests of the United States at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist in the creation of another state that will support terrorism." Giuliani said Palestinians must show "a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and willingness to live in peace with Israel." He argued that the problem for Palestinians was not a "lack of statehood" but good governance and that too much emphasis had been placed on Israeli-Palestinian talks which just brought up the same issues "again and again."

Until the Arab/Muslim world in general, and the Palestinians in particular, are willing to acknowledge the existence of Israel as a sovereign state, and stop calls for Israel's destruction, then the Palestinians cannot possibly be formed into a legitimate country. Giuliani seems to understand this.

Update: More on Giuliani's statements thanks to Little Green Footballs.

Ahmadinejad Seeks Iran's Entry into SCO

According to this International Herald Tribune story, Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) wants Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an organization created just over a decade ago to deal with security issues and religious extremism in the region. The SCO currently consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Iran, Pakistan, and Mongolia joining as observers.

In general, the SCO wants to increase its ability to counter America's influence around the world. But, they're apparently in no hurry to openly confront the US.

Iran's take on the SCO:

At last year's summit in Shanghai, the Iranian president called on the SCO to become "a strong, influential economic, political and trading institution" that could act to "prevent the threats of domineering powers and their aggressive interference in global affairs."

The SCO's position on Iran is mixed:

Although the SCO has welcomed Ahmadinejad, accepting Iran as a full member will not be on the table any time soon, said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the Russia in Global Affairs journal. "Making Iran a member would be seen as an open challenge to the United States, a call for confrontation," he said.

My (optimistic?) take: the SCO will be an organization seeking economic influence, not military. By itself, that's not a bad thing. The US either already has or could easily create such a relationship with the EU that would sweep aside any such SCO aspirations.

Imajihadi, though, and Iran's influence on the group would make it more militaristic, and so one hopes the SCO maintains its current position.

Ahmadinejad on the State of the World

Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) has delivered a morals lesson to the world. A short quote:

"Islam is the religion that can connect us together and can meet the needs of humanity," he said.

President Ahmadinejad said those who deviate from path of God and refuse to follow monotheism are unbelievers.

Those who have ignored God and His prophets, has turned the world into a hell, destroying ethics, human's dignity and world security, he pointed out.

Thanks for the lecture, Imajihadi. Given the generally uneducated, poverty-stricken, and oppressed nature of the Muslim world (except in rare instances where oil money isn't closely held by the ruling class or in secular Muslim-majority states), I'm sure that you're the one whose advice we should be taking.

Bible Studies in Public Schools

At the Rule of Reason blog, Edward Cline embarks on a tremendous discussion of the Bible as teaching tool in public education. He makes an ironclad case that such "Bible study" classes cannot be tolerated Constitutionally, and have no place in academics. I agree with Mr. Cline completely, and could probably think of other reasons why teaching the Bible (even ostensibly as an "academic" pursuit) is wrong on many levels.

In discussing the particular topic of Bible study in public schools, Mr. Cline attacks the generally irrational nature of public education, which I've experienced on numerous occasions with my two children.

There's so much there (it's a bit of a long read) that I'll quote a few particularly interesting parts, but leave the rest for you to discover for yourself:

So, it was with great interest and with not a little surprise that I opened the Sunday, August 12th Newport News, Virginia Daily Press and on page 3 found an article reprinted from the Los Angeles Times under this headline: “How do you teach the Bible without preaching?”

My snap mental answer was: Well, you don’t – unless you are Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, and then you are not so much teaching the Bible as exposing it as pure balderdash and bunkum.

It was a long article about the controversy of Bible studies in public schools.

In public schools?? Bible studies? Apparently, public schools are not as "Godless" as many parents assume.

“Exact numbers are unavailable, but experts agree that the number of Bible classes in public schools is growing because of new state mandates, increased attention to religion in public life, and the growing prominence of two national Bible curricula.”

On the general state of public education, Mr Cline says:

But I do not think these courses are merely “academic” or that the motive behind them is so innocent or blameless. And I had to laugh when I read this sentence in the article:

“High school English teachers and university professors say this lack of exposure to Bible tales has led to an education gap.”

It is an education gap evident in the Western canon being discarded in favor of Third World literature and the scribblings of “minority” writers, in students who think that George Washington helped found the United Nations, or that the Triple Entente is either an ice cream flavor or a video game, and in math and science test scores that are among the lowest in the world. These teachers and professors imply that such a “gap” can be compensated or corrected by a study of the Bible (or the Koran, or Buddhism, or American Indian mythology). Which is as absurd a notion as claiming that one can master calculus by a close study of numerology.

The “gap” in American education can be ascribed to the complete absence of the advocacy of reason in public school philosophy – except when reason is being attacked by nihilists or sabotaged by multicultural subjectivists.

Read the whole thing if you care at all about public education. And, incidentally, if you do, visit and join the growing community at, which seeks to bring students, parents, teachers, staff, and politicians together to resolve some of the issues in our public school system.