Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Public Rejects Global Warming Price Hikes

The public is showing strong signs of being fed up with global warming scare talk. An amazing 90% of American reject the costs that are tied to the proposed Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. Most Americans don't want to pay for the higher energy costs that act would force on them.

According to a recent poll, most Americans don't want to pay one penny more for gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most also reject spending more on electricity in the fight against the "planetary crisis" as Al Gore terms it.

These overwhelming numbers prove the public doesn't believe the global warming scare tactics of Gore and others. People have come to realize this entire scam is nothing more than a rifle scope aimed directly at their wallets. Green initiatives and anti-global warming efforts cost plenty of extra money, and as can be expected, minorities are particularly opposed to paying more to combat the so-called planetary crisis.

When it cost nothing, most people were willing to be led along the phony green path. Now that it's dawning on everyone that Gore and Company want them to pay through the nose, a different perspective about it all emerges, as this poll discovered. It was about the money all along, how about that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bugliosi Wants Death Penalty for Bush

Vincent Bugliosi, author of the new book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, appeared on the Alan Colmes radio show last night. He made it clear he believes Bush is guilty of the murder of 4,000 American soldiers fighting in Iraq, as well as 100,000 innocent Iraqis.

What penalty should Bush face? I’m not sure what the book says, but Bugliosi said he thinks Bush deserves “more than jail time” and “much more than impeachment.” And he wants Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice on trial as co-defendants. They would be “pleading with the prosecutor to testify against Bush and get a better deal—instead of the death penalty, life in prison.”

Bugliosi recently advocated for the death penalty in a column at the Huffington Post, while also noting in passing that the decision would be in the hands of the jury.

But the longtime Democrat Bugliosi has problems with others on the right side of the political aisle as well. He opined that the most unpatriotic Americans of all are “these phony right-wingers,” meaning Rove, Cheney, and Rush Limbaugh, among many others, no doubt.

Back in 2001, Bugliosi, writing in the far-left journal The Nation, called Bush “perhaps the most unqualified person ever to become president.”

Bugliosi’s emotional and even unhinged opinions of Bush and prominent members of his administration led some callers to the Colmes show to question Bugliosi’s mental health. And Patti Thorn, a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, said his new book would lead some to conclude that Bugliosi has lost his mind.

But no, this is not political at all, Bugliosi is eager to have the world believe. His only master and his only mistress “are the facts and objectivity. If a Democratic president did the same thing as Bush did, I’d have written the same identical book.” On the Colmes radio show, Bugliosi repeated almost word for word the first paragraph of his column at the Huffington Post, attempting to market himself as an honest broker of information with no political ax to grind!

He concluded by predicting that as a result of his book, there is a “very, very substantial likelihood that George Bush...will be in a courtroom prosecuted for murder.”

I’ll take this opportunity to predict that Bush will never be in a courtroom on trial for murder, nor should he be. I’ll opine further that Bugliosi has an irrational hatred of Bush and other prominent members of his administration—he thinks they should all be on trial for murder with the death penalty on the table!

Bugliosi’s opinions, unquestionably, are politically motivated, that much is clear despite his constant protestations, but has he gone insane as well? I think it depends whether he is “serious” or not. A lot of people and media outlets criticize Bush harshly, as Bugliosi enumerated in his column, but they back off at the last minute because it’s just politics with them. There is a lack of seriousness behind it all. If this is all just politics (as well as personal hatred) with Bugliosi, then he isn’t crazy. But if he’s serious, then yes, the guy has a mental disability.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Libertarian Party Bids for Relevance

Former Republican congressman Bob Barr has just won the battle for the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 2008. The Libertarian Party typically harvests about 1% of the vote every four years.

Barr's prominent name probably assures a result closer to 2% than 1% come November. The only realistic role this year is to spoil the possible election of Republican John McCain by siphoning votes in key states. As such, Barr can expect a windfall of coverage from the mainstream media unseen by any previous Libertarian candidate.

The Libertarian nominee for vice president is Wayne Allyn Root, a sports handicapping expert based in Las Vegas. Root is another political defector, having written a book called Millionaire Republican. Libertarian activists have criticized his nomination on the grounds he isn't a "traditional" libertarian and sounds like a used car salesman. In reality, Root was a smart pick, the best available, because, just like Barr, he isn't "damaged political goods" like so many of his rivals--Mary Ruwart, for example. He can appeal to the majority of normal Americans because he isn't a traditional Libertarian kook. This party can present two responsible people on the political stage, not that that will count for much in the results column.

And that is the significance of the 2008 Libertarian Party Convention. A person with a fringe mentality didn't win either of the top two spots. So now the question to be answered in the years ahead is this: is 2008 a watershed year in which the Libertarians finally realize the futility of championing fringe people and causes and move toward their natural place in the center of the political spectrum, or was 2008 nothing more than a temporary aberration to be "corrected" in 2012?

The Democrat Party owns the Left. The Republican Party owns the Right. The only room for a major third party is the Center, and that makes sense for the Libertarian Party since it draws from both sides. The ideal role would be as watchdog over the other two parties, alerting the voters when they both step too far away from the Constitution or responsible governance. It sounds strange today: the Libertarian Party as a voice of reason!

The Barr/Root ticket is a step toward this ultimate political goal of achieving relevance and its natural place in American politics, if the Libertarians of the future want it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Dawning of the Age of Ebooks

In today's Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz writes about the promise ebooks and ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle hold for the future of books ("The Digital Future of Books"). Ebook readers may well reverse the current trend toward shorter periods of time people spend reading these days because ebooks can be accessed instantly anywhere. Imagine any book at your fingertips whenever you want. It is truly historic.

Crovitz quotes Jeff Gomez and his book Print is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age:
It's not about the page versus the screen...it's about the screen doing a dozen things the page can't do.
And I think that is a point lost on some loud librarians who just don't get it, and write anti-ebook articles that appear on the cover of American Libraries, and can't understand the historic changes ebooks herald in the way we read--and think. Amazingly, I see nothing at all about ebook readers (and almost nothing about ebooks themselves) on the program for this year's SLA annual library conference in Seattle.

Crovitz credits Aristotle as the first to explain that how we communicate alters what we communicate. Ebooks will fundamentally alter the nature of modern communication.

It's great to see some people comprehend what ebooks are all about, that they are here to stay, and they will be a central and an integral part of communication over the next century. The trend toward ebooks has already started with science, technology, and reference books. The rest will follow. One hundred years in the future, in the year 2108, they'll have a fun time hypothesizing why some groups of people fought against all this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SLA's Green Guiltfest at Seattle

You'll see it at the very bottom of this page:
Flying to Seattle for SLA 2008?
Would you like to purchase Carbon Offsets and help the environment? Use one of the calculators from NativeEnergy to discover your own CO2 emissions, or choose to offset any of the average CO2 footprints listed on their site. Go here for more information.
SLA is promoting Native Energy, a carbon offset private company. A much-quoted Los Angeles Times article ("Can You Buy a Greener Conscience") questions the entire concept of carbon offsets ("more hype than solution"), and quotes Native Energy's chief executive while detailing the link between that company and--guess who? Al Gore.

"If you really believe you're carbon neutral, you're kidding yourself. You can't get out of it that easily," said an expert from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, throwing cold water on the carbon indulgences.

Columnist Frank Pastore gave the lowdown on Native Energy while commenting on the Los Angeles Times article:
The problem is, Native Energy is only buying a small portion of these alternative energy suppliers but they're declaring a benefit as though they bought the whole thing. They buy a 1 percent piece of the action but claim 100 percent of the benefit.

That's like buying 1 percent of a racehorse and keeping 100 percent of the winnings. Not good.

Furthermore, Native Energy is buying little pieces of companies that are already designed and financed, then acting as though their investment was critical to the whole operation.

The offsets they sell aren't making, creating, or saving anything additional. So, in reality, buying offsets from Native Energy does nothing to benefit the environment.

But, none of this is about reality, anyway. It's all about caring, and compassion, and green guilt.
And it's also all about politics. Al Gore told us to do it, according to a recent SLA press release:
Former Vice President Al Gore spoke in Denver at the SLA Annual Conference...and strongly encouraged members and staff to...take action to help the global environment.
Enter Native Energy, Al Gore's pet carbon offset company. Enter the SLA initiative "Knowledge to Go Green." Exit...now what is this association supposed to be all about anyway? Democrat politics? Wacko environmentalism? Guilt? Political correctness? Naivete? No, we're not hitting the nail on the head with any of these guesses, are we?

Am I the only one laughing over this Gore Virus that has infected SLA? Could be worse. Apparently no one at SLA HQ is friends with Lyndon LaRouche.

"Who cares about green, free wireless at SLA!" said Christina Pikas, proving the membership has more commonsense than the leadership.

Egyptian Book Burner Leading UNESCO Candidate

Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni said he would "burn Israeli books himself if found in Egyptian libraries."

Leary observes that Hosni sounds like someone who infrequently visits libraries and questions whether said minister would recognize an Israeli book (or those produced in most other countries) if he saw one.

The punchline: Hosni is the leading candidate for UNESCO secretary-general, the United Nations' cultural arm. The world's most accomplished human rights violators administer the UN's human rights wings, while a book burner is likely their next cultural grand poobah. The value of the UN to the free world is minimal at best. A good argument for the creation of McCain's League of Democracies, and moving out of the UN's collapsed house of horrors.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Print Books Don't Work

Print books don’t work.

I can’t carry many print books with me, especially hardback books, because they are too heavy. When traveling, I can only take one or two print books with me. But I can carry hundreds of books with me in my Sony Reader and it weights only about a pound! I can carry a library with me wherever I go!

Print books don’t work.

I want to read classic novels from the 19th century, like those written by Charles Dickens, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money buying them. Print books cost money. Even print books in the public domain aren’t free. But I can download many of these books electronically from the internet for free and read them on my Sony Reader.

Print books don’t work.

I want to search for a word throughout the text of a book. I want to know how many times it appeared, if at all, and where it appeared in the text. That would take forever with a print book! But it’s a simple matter to use the Adobe PDF reader to search for all occurrences of a word in a digital book.

Print books don’t work.

I want to change the size of the text of the book I’m reading. I can’t do that with a print book. I must accept whatever type size it has. But with my Sony Reader, I can adjust the type size so it is bigger or smaller.

Print books don’t work.

Print books worked adequately 100 years ago. But the pages are fraying, yellowing, and coming loose. The binding is cracked. Print can no longer satisfy the needs of modern book readers. Only digital books and digital readers can handle all the necessary tasks demanded by today’s readers. Print books don’t work and they’ll never work again the way they worked 100 years ago. That’s why ebooks and ebook readers are here to stay. They are a necessity of modern life today and tomorrow.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Sickness That Afflicts ALA

Brent Bozell III makes the point in a recent column that the American Library Association (ALA) doesn't really stand for "intellectual freedom" at all. ALA has become a far Left advocacy group that censors information from opposing viewpoints.

Every year ALA whines about books that are "challenged" by the public, as if there is something wrong with that. As Bozell writes:
ALA doesn't favor open discussion and debate with parents -- which is what the "challenges" represent. It's idea of "freedom" is emboldening librarians to be brave enough to indoctrinate children with what they really need to know, whether their parents object or even know about it. If public debate follows, it's viewed as a distasteful and unfortunate bump on the road to enlightenment.
I think any organization could make it its own business to provide an annual list of popular conservative books not available in many libraries and "challenge" them to stock the books. As Bozell says, the act of selecting some books while excluding others is a censorious act, and one that all libraries engage in. To be a librarian is to be a censor, so it is disingenuous for ALA to scream about censorship when they do it themselves in such an ugly way and, forgetting social agendas, it is the job of librarians to censor, but it is supposed to be done responsibly. ALA's method earns a grade of F.

ALA and its gay roundtable promote the idea of a "reviewer" looking through books in search of "negative attitudes" towards gays and to then censor those books. Bozell writes:
Doesn't this sound like librarians want to appoint a guardian to screen out and counteract "negative stereotypic attitudes"? In other words, an official censor?
It's easy for Bozell and others to point out ALA's hypocrisy, since it is drenched in it in so many ways. The unfortunate losers are the library users who naively expect librarians to be information referees rather than partisan advocates. "Information wants to be free," but it is enchained to ALA's radical agenda in many public and academic libraries.

Will things change once the baby boomers raised in the 60s retire in huge numbers over the next 5-10 years? Perhaps not, because once an organization becomes radicalized, it is self-feeding and becomes more and more partisan regardless of who stays or who goes.

So how to turn the tables and right this leftward listing ship before it sinks? Some of the characters in a novel I'm writing called Murder at the ALA Conference have an idea about that, if I can ever finish it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why We Need to Waterboard Terrorists

A great case for waterboarding terrorists was recently made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). He spoke during a hearing on “Guantanamo Bay and America's Image” a couple days ago. It’s sad that this is a hotly debated issue in the post-9/11 world. I didn’t know much at all about Rohrabacher before I read his words, but he quickly impresses by talking sense about an issue that has become over-politicized at the expense of our national security.

Rohrabacher:

I have no apologies that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who planned the 9/11 attack, the number three man to Osama bin Laden, was waterboarded.

After he was waterboarded, the report is -- and by the way, waterboarding, as we know, has been used three times, at least reportedly; that's what we understand. One was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The other was the man who was responsible for publicly videotaping the beheading of an American journalist. And I'm not sure what the other man who was waterboarded was guilty of.

But the fact is that information from this waterboarding, which is nothing more than creating a psychological sense of fear, and overwhelming fear -- we got a lot of information. And perhaps from that, from this Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who gave us a tremendous amount of information, we were able to do something that actually stopped another event of the magnitude of 9/11 -- or maybe two or three of them, or maybe the fact that Ramsey Yusef, who was part of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's family, was targeting Disneyland in Orange County, where I come from, perhaps when we found his laptop in the Philippines, which lists targets that they meant to kill tens of thousands of people going to Disneyland. This is the type of people we are up against. I have no apologies that we waterboarded three of those people. And that has been turned into, internationally, a horror story. My gosh, we use this kind of psychological pressure on these types of mass murderers. I've got no apologies for that at all.
And Rohrabacher addresses the so-called “human rights” argument of lawyers and leftists trying to gain the release of Gitmo terrorists:

I personally do not believe that a human rights analysis should be based on how you treat a terrorist who has murdered lots of other people, and you're trying to get information from him. But instead, human rights concerns are what you are trying to do to make sure that innocent people are not injured in your attempts to get at people who are terrorists. I've gotten information from the Intelligence Committee, which indicates that over 30 former Gitmo detainees, who were detained but have been released -- over 30 of them ended up going back into some sort of radical and/or violent activity.

And there are some examples here, which I will put in for the record, of individuals who went back and killed other people, after being released from Gitmo. And there are examples here, for example, of people who repeatedly told their interrogators at Gitmo that they were not involved in the Taliban or in the Al Qaida operations that were going on in Afghanistan, and that they claimed to have been farmers or truck drivers or cooks, or had gone to Afghanistan looking for a wife or to study the Koran, or any number of excuses they had. Of those, 30 ended up going back and participating in activity that threatened the lives -- if not took the lives -- of individuals, like the one I just mentioned, that was just reported today, of one who was released and was then involved in a bombing in Iraq, which caused the death of seven people.

So when we're talking about this issue, we have to realize that if indeed people are being lied to -- and we are dealing with terrorists -- they will go out and kill other people. So other people's lives are at stake.
Rohrabacher was referencing al-Ajmi, a former detainee who unfortunately was released and recently became a suicide bomber and killed 7 people. Would the Democrats & leftists have us believe those other 30 or so former detainees were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and the victims of bounty hunters? Would the Democrats even think of making these absurd arguments if a Democrat was in the White House? Do you suppose they would be far more supportive of Gitmo under a Democratic administration?

It’s doubtful the anti-waterboarding and anti-Gitmo crowd will heed these words, because in their minds, Gitmo equals Bush, and Bush represents the opposing political party, and this is all about politics, and not what’s best for our country or the world.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Yippies of 2008

The Yippies, led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, were primarily responsible for the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Like today’s pretenders to the Yippie mantle, such as Recreate-68, Unconventional Action, and Tent State University, they were shunned by the mainstream Democratic Party.

The Yippies’ platform in 1968 sounds strikingly familiar to the issues voiced by today’s protest groups:

  1. An immediate end to the War in Vietnam (Sound familiar?)
  2. The legalization of marijuana and all other psychedelic drugs
  3. A prison system based on rehabilitation rather than punishment
  4. Abolition of all laws related to crimes without victims
  5. The total disarmament of all the people beginning with the police
  6. The abolition of money
  7. Elimination of pollution
  8. Free birth control information & abortions on demand
  9. An end to all censorship
  10. We believe that people should f*ck all the time, anytime, whomever they wish
  11. Decentralization of power & authority with many varied tribal groups

Would any of today’s leftist groups disagree with any of this?

Just as in 1968, today’s leftists just can’t all get along. Tent State University has parted company with Recreate-68. During the convention in Denver, Tent State will offer its followers “Ruckus” trainings. The Ruckus Society trains radicals in how to effectively “demonstrate” and disrupt events such as political conventions. Meanwhile, these groups have adopted a public face promoting non-violence, and blaming the police in advance if things somehow get out of hand anyway.

Even though it is likely Obama will be the assured Democratic nominee before the convention begins, that doesn’t matter to the protest groups, who have their own separate agenda, which is to turn the Democratic Party in an even more radical direction—never mind that Obama is the most liberal senator in the Senate.

Recently we have seen large anti-war demonstrations that changed nothing, so the reasoning of the protesters that theirs will somehow be different is absurd on the face of it. Peaceful demonstrations will not get them what they want. The question remains how far they are willing to go, in addition to standard demonstrations, to “get what they want.”

Monday, May 05, 2008

SLA Seattle Attendance Prediction

What will be the attendance figure at the SLA annual conference in Seattle? Denver 2007 barely topped 5,000. No conference has drawn over 6,000 since New York 2003. The conference was last held in Seattle in 1997 and attendance was a robust 6,935, but times have changed, SLA is a smaller association, and that number looks unapproachable now.

Seattle is a popular tourist destination and should draw a good crowd. It is one of very few cities not on the East Coast that can attract a lot of attendees. But there are reasons not to be optimistic.

The economy has been going through a rough spell lately and librarians may not have the financial resources this time around. Seattle is on the far edge of the nation. Most members, I’m guessing, reside on the East Coast and must travel all the way to the West Coast to get there. Air fares will be higher than for many other, shorter trips, and air tickets are more expensive lately anyway. It’s not the easy sell it once was.

Here are recent attendance averages:

Average attendance last 5 conferences: 5,363
Average attendance last 10 conferences: 5,573

These are the past 5 conference attendance figures:

New York 2003 6,798
Nashville 2004 3,852
Toronto 2005 5,273
Baltimore 2006 5,844
Denver 2007 5,046

This graph charts SLA attendance since Seattle 1997:

When I look into my crystal ball and think of SLA, it grows cloudy, just like the skies of Seattle. I don’t feel good about making a prediction because the clouds obscure my view. Can Seattle top 6,000 again? I just don’t see it. Attendance should be close to the Baltimore figure. A number similar to Denver 2007 would be a loud alarm bell for the association. A city like Seattle should easily break the most recent 5-year average. The latest 10-year average is the minimum acceptable number; otherwise, something is broken, isn’t it?

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Sound and Fury of Ebook Naysayers

On the cover of the latest issue of American Libraries is a graphic of a print book with digital innards. The feature story is called "The Elusive E-book." It's gotta be Walt Crawford, I said to myself as I flipped to the table of contents. Nope. Instead, it's written by one Stephen Sottong.

He starts off by dissing "the pundits" who predicted some time ago that half of reading material today would be delivered electronically. I know I'm in trouble when I read that Sottong has a background in academic librarianship. That's how I knew he was completely serious when he wrote that resistance to ebooks wasn't generational or psychological, it was physical:

They relate to the fact that as a species, we were designed to scan the horizon and do fine tasks seated with our work on the ground or in our laps.

And that, Sottong believes, is the death knell for ebooks. The Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle are doomed because they are overpriced (at $300-$400). But products are priced by what the market will bear, and the price of the Kindle isn't dropping. It will if the market won't accept $300-$400. Why would anyone pay that much for a device when the display and resolution aren't as good as a print book, he asks. The answer, of course, is that there are many more factors involved in each person's decision to buy one.

People won't read entire books on these readers, Sottong assures us, yet that's exactly what I have done myself. I've read dozens of books on my Sony reader, and on my desktop computer as well. Somehow I didn't make it into Sottong's academic research. Like other book lovers, I read many at one time. A reader is a great leap forward for many like me who don't want to carry around a load of print books. But it doesn't matter how many books a person reads at one time anyway. There are several good reasons why people would want all their books in digital format rather than in paper. To say readers aren't needed because most people read only one or two books at a time is a non sequitur.

I feel justified when I get to the part where Sottong pats the aforementioned Walt Crawford on the back by quoting his laconic judgment that "Print books work." Crawford recently authored a lengthy piece on ebooks in which he admitted he doesn't own an ebook reader. As for Sottong, I see no admittal that he owns one, either. Considering what he wrote, I can't believe he does. People who predict cloudy forecasts for ebook readers seem unacquainted with them.

I've written before about the eventual death of paper and Sottong's article serves to reinforce my belief in everything I said. The switchover will be a long process and Sottong and others want to use that to pretend there is no trend toward ebooks. It's psychological. They don't want it to happen. That is the source of their opinions--forget the research, surveys, etc.

Sottong has some, I'm sure well-intentioned, advice for libraries:

Libraries that use subscription e-book services should consider dropping all but online reference books and placing the rest of the funds back into their print budgets.

My own prediction is that libraries will ignore this terrible advice and continue serving patrons their information in as many formats as possible, and most importantly, full-text ebooks from vendors such as NetLibrary, Ebrary, Books24x7, etc., as this is the wave of the future and patrons will continue to demand more full-text ebooks. I want more books in ebook format right now. And some publishers are delivering because they see the market. Too many books I want are only available in paper, and that's not good.

The ebook naysayers need to read an excellent article in the same issue of American Libraries called "Killed by Kindness: How Well-Intentioned Nostalgia Harms Today's Libraries."

But what emotion can we say we feel upon listening to the death cries of the representatives of the old book world order as a new one emerges?

Ex-Gitmo Detainee Blows Up Theory

Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi was a detainee at Guantanamo Bay who was released in 2005. He has just carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq. Apparently, 7 people working as Iraqi security forces died as a result.

Before his release, al-Ajmi had denied he was a jihadist, denied any contact with the Taliban, and insisted he was a peaceful person. But of course, the reason the US military tossed him into Gitmo in the first place is because they knew better. Al-Ajmi was a terrorist before Gitmo, during Gitmo, and after Gitmo. Liberal activists have gone to extremes portraying the Guantanamo detainees as innocent victims of the cruel Bush administration, but if al-Ajmi were still there, at least 7 people would still be alive. What do Amnesty International and the army of lawyers working for the release of the detainees say to al-Ajmi's victims? What does Amnesty International say to the families of al-Ajmi's victims?

Al-Ajmi joins a growing list of Gitmo detainees who were released and subsequently engaged in acts of terrorism. It was estimated last year that at least 30 detainees took up arms against allied forces after their release. National Review listed a number of the releasees and their crimes.

It is time to recognize that the Guantanamo detainees are there for a reason, and releasing any of these terrorists while hostilities are ongoing in Iraq will result in the deaths of more innocent people. Perhaps now more people will recognize this ongoing charade of pretending these detainees are anything other than terrorists.