Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Scan

A Memorial Day Miracle

This Memorial Day weekend, it would not be right if tears did not well up at least once over a memory or a story of a brave warrior who fell in battle defending our freedoms.

The story of Marine Sgt. Merlin German isn't really such a story. After all, he fell three years after the IED explosion that starts this story. Sgt. German was, no doubt, a great Marine. But the public story of his greatness began after Iraq, as he was treated for the burns and injuries he sustained in that explosion. His true heroics were found in his will to survive, and to help others survive, and to lift up everyone around him.

Like this:

But he was closest to his mother. When the hospital's Holiday Ball approached in 2006, German told Norma Guerra [a hospital worker and mother of a serviceman in Iraq] he wanted to surprise his mother by taking her for a twirl on the dance floor.

Guerra thought he was kidding. She knew it could be agony for him just to take a short walk or raise a scarred arm.

But she agreed to help, and they rehearsed for months, without his mother knowing. He chose a love song to be played for the dance: "Have I Told You Lately?" by Rod Stewart.

That night he donned his Marine dress blues and shiny black shoes — even though it hurt to wear them. When the time came, he took his mother in his arms and they glided across the dance floor.

Everyone stood and applauded. And everyone cried.

AP reporter Sharon Cohen writes a wonderful tribute to Sgt. Germany today, 'Miracle' Marine refused to surrender will to live. It is a must-read for this Memorial Day weekend.

Many must be reading it, because the web site for the foundation Sgt. Germany set up to help children with burns, Merlin's Miracles, has crashed. Make a point of going back when it's up, and if it looks worthy, make a contribution in his memory.

Meanwhile, In Iraq

Sgt. Miracle would have been pleased with this report:
BAGHDAD (AP) - ... Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a military spokesman, said violence has dropped some 70 percent since a U.S. troop buildup began nearly a year ago. ...

"You are not going to hear me say that al-Qaida is defeated, but they've never been closer to defeat than they are now," Crocker said, speaking in Arabic to reporters during a visit to the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Driscoll said the number of attacks in the past week had "decreased to the level not seen since March 2004," due to recent military operations against Shiite militias in Baghdad's Sadr City and the southern city of Basra, as well as Sunni insurgents in the northern city of Mosul.
Did you catch that last bit? Iraqi military actions (with our support) against both Shi'ites and Sunnis. How can the Left say we're not making progress in Iraq?

Governor Romney ... Of California?

Mitt Romney has an oceanfront house in escrow in San Diego's toniest seaside town, La Jolla. San Diego Union Tribune columnist Diane Bell asks:
The question of the day: Could Romney be planning to establish residency in California with an eye on the governor's seat? Gov. Schwarzenegger is forced out by term limits in 2010. Stay tuned . .
The Death Of Global Warming?

Skeptics haven't been able to kill it. Ten consecutive years of cooler weather since the last hotest year hasn't been able to kill it. But politics just might kill global warming.

In England Warmie fanatic and premier Gordon Brown is being counseled to drop extremely unpopular taxes to discourage car use:
Gordon Brown is being urged by ministers to scrap rises in car taxes and petrol duty as he struggles to regain popularity after a humiliating by-election defeat. ...

Cabinet colleagues are privately urging him to tackle the issue of motoring costs as a way of helping households struggling with rising fuel, energy and food bills. (Guardian)
And in Japan:
These rugged green mountains, once home to one of Asia's most productive coal regions, are littered with abandoned mines and decaying towns - backwaters of an economy of bullet trains and hybrid cars. But after decades of seemingly terminal decline, Japan's coal country is stirring again. With energy prices reaching record highs - oil settled above $135 a barrel on Thursday - Japan's high-cost mines are suddenly competitive again, and demand for their coal is booming.
That's from the NYT that also tells us:
In recent months, South Korea has experienced calls to create a domestic coal industry in order to reduce dependence on imports. In the United Kingdom, where coal’s decline became a symbol of withered industrial might, companies are increasing production and considering reopening at least one closed mine as demand for British coal rises.
This is getting good! Just as Greenie politics are getting successful enough to actually impact the economy, politicians are trying to figure out how to bring government facilitation of Warmie fanaticism to an end.

hat-tip: Greenie Watch

Dead Revolutionary

Ah, the romance of the revolutionary life!
The leader of Latin America’s largest and longest- surviving insurgency group, Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda, died from a heart attack at the weekend, raising hopes in Colombia that a 44-year-old civil war which has claimed 200,000 lives may finally be drawing to an end. (Times of London)
Let's recap. Marulanda spent his early life trying to try to overthrow a government so he could be another Castro. He failed miserably in that effort, but continued the obviously failed effort for no other reason than to stay employed, bringing death to thousands in the process.

Were the people made better by his life? Was the world? Of course not. The revolution was nothing more than a means to his ends, and how he's ended, a failure, an evil that is no more. Now can the rest of FARC join him?

Hysterical Mommies At The NYT

Nervous, nail-biting mommies most have overtaken the NYT editorial board. Here's what they had to say last week:
Anybody worried about the potential danger from plastic bottles and cups, especially for the very young, should take note. The Canadian government has announced plans to restrict the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, a chemical used to make hardened plastics. The government would prohibit the sale of baby bottles made with BPA. (Those are the ones with the numeral 7 in the triangle stamp on the bottom).
The editorial goes on to call on Congress to push for a ban of BPA in baby bottles or cups, and to authorize investigations into the use of BPA in bike helmets and baby seats.

I'm sorry, but moms are already too worried about far too many things that don't deserve their worry, and the NYT should be more careful ... more reportorial ... before they heap another worry on them. Here's the Stats Blog on just how unfounded the NYT hysteria is:

There are moments when you wonder whether the world is going insane over the wrong health risks. Take BPA. There is no study showing that BPA harms humans or that BPA leaching from baby bottles poses an actual, measurable risk.

The European Union’s Food Safety Authority conducted a risk assessment focusing on the threat to infants in 2006; it was carried out by 21 independent scientists; it raised the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) by a factor of five; in other words, it found BPA considerably safer than it first thought - so safe a mother could give her baby four times the normal number of bottles per day before reaching the threshold of safe consumption (which has an additional safety factor of 100).

The Japanese government also conducted a risk assessment: no risk; a non-profit international consumer safety organization NSF did a risk assessment under the guidance of Calvin Willhite of the California EPA which was published a couple of months ago: again, no risk. The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction did a risk analysis last year, and dismissed most of the risks activists had been complaining about for years; but they did have some concern over certain animal studies. Oddly, these studies and the effects were not the one’s commonly touted by anti-BPA activists. The National Toxicology Program agreed with the CERHR, but said there was no cause for alarm.

One common thread in these risk assessments is that some of the scientific research has been rejected. In fact, the same scientific research keeps getting rejected no matter which country is doing the risk assessment.
The Stats Blog, from George Mason University, receives no industry funding. It's just dedicated to trying to get people to report on statistical analyses more accurately.
Surely, readers deserve editorial writers that do a little bit more in the way of reporting, that are a bit more scientifically savvy, that have the nerve to exercise the journalistic equivalent of the precautionary principle, before igniting panic and telling Congress what it should be doing?

Incredible Wife says it's all well and good, but that glass bottles are better in any case, and if BPA makes them more available again, so much the better. But that's another story.

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