Blank Page No. 17

ZK in Singapore and Katharina in Belgium form a classic line-up for this weekend’s Blank Page. Behave yourselves…

317 Responses to “Blank Page No. 17”

  1. 1 ZK
    July 25, 2008 at 19:01

    Hi there everyone, it’s a pleasure to be back moderating the Blank Page. One quick request before we get started, please try to keep your posts short. This isn’t meant to restrict you, but to help with the flow of reading. If you need to make a long point, please use links (and avoid quoting from these links unless really necessary) to illustrate main points. I would also appreciate it if we didn’t get into one-on-one attacks, as that is what tends to manifest long posts.

    I’d like to start by bringing up the Cyprus peace talks. Since the Annan Plan, which was widely rejected by Greek Cypriots in 2004, there has been little movement until earlier this year. But will reunification ever happen? I’m also interested to hear your thoughts about why, despite the mistrust between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, there is still relative peace on! the island, when compared to other countries in internal conflict.

    The article on the Cypriot talks is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7525266.stm

  2. 2 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 19:08

    Hi Ros,

    It’s great to moderate again! I’m looking forward to a great weekend with fierce, yet polite discussions… which means that I myself should lean back and take a deep breath after the rather heated child discussion from Fridays show.

    About Cyprus:

    I’m far from an expert, but my impression is that 1) probably both parts are economically stable and 2) Greece can’t kick Turkey out by military force and Turkey wants to join the EU, and aren’t both countries in the NATO? So then they have to accept the status quo.

    Maybe the Cypriots have just simply learned to live with the situation as it is…

  3. 3 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 19:47

    Another thing that I would like to put up to discussion is how perceptible we are to media-hypes. It was exactly a year ago that the last Harry Potter book was published, and there was not escaping all the articles and comments by the media about it. Now, one year later, I wonder whether anybody still gives a hoot about it, in fact, whether they will make movies of the last two books or not. So do we let ourselves get pushed by the media too easily or not?

  4. 4 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 19:51

    Hi ZK,

    Sorry that I called you Ros, I just saw the picture and reacted… Looking forward to moderating with you this weekend.

  5. 5 Robert
    July 25, 2008 at 20:00


    The problem with media hype is how do you measure the effects? The people who write the columns predicting the hype are the ones also writing the columns saying what is now hot or not.

    The companies making the next hot films will stagger production of competing films so the opening weekends don’t clash.

    This can be applied to any an all media and art based industries (music, books, fashion, food ………….)

    For columnist who make predictions, admitting your wrong is as good as handing in your public resignation.

    They make the predictions, they make the rules and they make the measurements. No conflict of interest at all is there?

  6. 6 victork13
    July 25, 2008 at 20:04

    The peace in Cyprus is due to the ethnic cleansing that separated the two communities.

    A sad fact but ethnic cleansing can have real benefits.

    As to reunification ever happening: I’m afraid that Cyprus is, for me, one of those topics that just lacks any real importance. Whether the island is re-unified or not isn’t of much interest to anyone who isn’t Greek, Turkish or unusually interested in international affairs. If it ever features on WHYS it would have to be framed in a much more general context (e.g. whether things happening there provide a model for other places). Not enough people dying for it to get much attention on its own.

  7. July 25, 2008 at 20:08

    Hi all this abdi a wake late night here in Nairobi-Kenya.Guys I would Like Us to take a bout “Publishing long articles” are they Positive or negative;

    Visit My Blog http://www.abdiloveskenya.wordpress.com

  8. July 25, 2008 at 20:11

    @ Katherin in Ghent and Victor

    Hallo our beloved Moderator’s and Boss over the weekend.I will surely live to see Kathi Moderating and Ros has decided to give her a run.

    Kathi I look forward in a companaying you through out the weekend.Best of Luck to you both.

  9. July 25, 2008 at 20:12

    WHYSers, Liberians front all walks of life including Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and major opposition leader, George Manneh Weah will all take time out to reflect as we celebrate our nation’s 161st Independence Day. Happy Birthday Mama Liberia.

  10. 10 victork13
    July 25, 2008 at 20:13

    Hi Abdi: I’m not officially moderating – that’s Kathi and ZK.

  11. July 25, 2008 at 20:16

    @ VICTOR

    Sorry I just thought that you were officially moderating.best of luck to ZK and Kathi

  12. 12 Dennis
    July 25, 2008 at 20:35

    Hi ZK and Kathi….

    I hope you enjoy your time as moderators over the weekend…

    Syracuse, New York

  13. 13 Lubna
    July 25, 2008 at 20:47

    Hello gang ! :-)… 1stly I do wish very good luck to my two dearest friends Kathi and ZK over the weekend Inshallah (by God’s willing, in case anyone of our precious friends wonders what Inshallah actually means!)… Now, I’d love to ask all of you guys : Does anyone of you guys have a close friend who belongs to a different race/ethnicity/culture/religion ect.,ect.?! Is each one of you guys with the concept of ‘homogenous friendship’ or with the concept of ‘heterogenous friendship’ i.e. does each one of you guys think that friendships between people who differ in race/religion/culture/ethnicity, ect., ect., can actually work out ?! If yes why and if no why ?! I’d really appreciate it if the answers to all of those questions come from a personal experience… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  14. 14 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 20:51

    Hi Abdi,

    I already once had the pleasure to moderate a Blank Page, I believe it was number 3. It was so much fun that I volunteered to moderate this weekend! Depending on the weather I may be out occasionally over the weekend, but other than that I’ll be glued to the computer for the next 48 hours.

  15. 15 Shirley
    July 25, 2008 at 20:56

    I’ve forgot what, if any, time you may have spent in the Netherlands. Do you have any experience with genealogy research? You’ve got my permission to contact me privately via email, if you like.

    A question to toss into the mix: Does Cypress need to be reunified? Also, do Cypriots feel invaded and occupied? Or have they adapted and treat the situation as two ethnicities in one location? I’ve heard and many comments from Cypriots interviewed by various resporters to the latter, but I think that it is a good question to add flavour to the conversation.

    Turkey’s imperial and genocidal history is distasteful to me.

  16. 16 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 20:58

    Hi Lubna,

    It’s always so nice to read your questions to the Blank Page, they’re always so different from what the rest of us can come up with.

    To answer your question:

    I was raised in a Christian country, even though my family is not at all religious and I have no bonds with the Roman Catholic Church, or any other church for that matter. One of my dearest friends though is a very deeply religious Christian, but we never let that deter us from the mutual friendship that we share. Now of course you could argue that we’re still both Christians, but for some on either side it would be impossible to be friends with a believer/non-believer. In Toronto I also was good friends with a Jewish co-worker, and here in Ghent one of my dearest co-workers is Muslim, even though not practising. Generally speaking, if both can just follow their religion in the way they want or not want without patronizing the other, then there’s no reason why a friendship should not work.

  17. 17 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 21:02

    Hi Shirley,

    Ghent is in Belgium, the Flemish part (which means that they speak Dutch). I’ve been living here now for four years, and hopefully we’ll be able to move sooner rather than later back to Canada, where my husband is from. (To Lubna: Inshallah 🙂 ) I work in Cancer Research, examining the role of various genes in cancer progression. Do you have any more specific questions?

  18. 18 Mohammed Ali
    July 25, 2008 at 21:11

    Hi and thanks to all WHYSers for the concern shown when I had the accident. I’m much better and gradually recovering. I’m happy to be back on my favourest WHYS.

  19. 19 Robert
    July 25, 2008 at 21:14


    It is possible to have friends or even partners with people of other races, religions etc. By the nature of my job I have traveled a lot and been each time made a new circle of friends and with different backgrounds to my own. Some over time fall by the wayside as you might expect but there are some in each location I have kept in contact with. My current office is perhaps the most extreme example. In a team of 14 people we have 8 different nationalities.

    It is hard however. I would never pretend otherwise. All friendships take work before everybody involved understands each other. When your backgrounds are different then it take more work to bridge that gap. But if you can make it, it is more than worth it.

  20. 20 Mohammed Ali
    July 25, 2008 at 21:19

    Like my colleague said, liberia will be celebrating her 161st independence on July 26, by the oldest independent African nation. The contradiction is that we are one of the least developed country.

  21. 21 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 25, 2008 at 21:20

    Dear Lubna,
    I have many friends who are quite different from me. I believe in “heterogenous friendship”, as you very well point out. One of my best friends, when I lived in Montreal, is Muslim. I learned a lot from her, about tolerance and respect. Our daughters are best friends too (it was because of our daughters´ friendship that we met each other and became friends).

    Even here in Mexico, I am friend of people that I am not suppose to. My mother´s housekeeper is a Zapotec (an indigenous ethnicity). We are good friends. I like talking to her and help her whenever I can. My daughter and her daughter are friends too. Now that children are in summer vacation, she brings her daughter to work and they play together.

    Also, one of my best friends in high school (and also former boyfriend) is homosexual. I am happy that he is open about his sexual preference. He broke with me (and broke my 16 year old heart) because of this. Many other of his “friends” stop talking to him, but I decided to support him and we remind friends until present day.

    As you can see, I like diversity. I choose my friends based on what we have in common rather than on what we don´t.

  22. 22 victork13
    July 25, 2008 at 21:30

    @Mohammed: surely Ethiopia has a longer history of independence (more than 1500 years) than Liberia?

    I suppose Liberia has the longest record of independence in West Africa.

    The contradiction you mention will shock a certain type of Westerner, for whom every problem facing an African country is a direct result of Western colonialism. Ethiopia, oddly enough, is also very underdeveloped.

  23. 23 Mohammed Ali
    July 25, 2008 at 21:35

    Hi Lubna, I have a fiancee who is a Liberian like myself but belong to different ethnic group and is a christian. On the contrary, i’m just not religious and we don’t discuss religion. Our relationship is fine. All people need for a better relationship or friendship is understanding and respecting the background, culture and religion of your colleagues. Accepting those values of others will make any friendship or relationship to go on smoothly.

  24. 24 Mohammed Ali
    July 25, 2008 at 21:38

    @Victork 13, Ethiopia regained independence in the mid 1940. Prior to that, yes they were the oldest independent African country.

  25. 25 Robert
    July 25, 2008 at 21:45

    Victork, Mohammed

    Development is nothing to do with whether a country has been independent or not. In some colonies Europe left behind functioning courts and legal systems and the country hasn’t done too badly (unfortunately I’m scratching my head for an African example, I would have to use India as the closest example).

    Other colonies however either didn’t have these to start with or dismantled them as they were imperialistic in the eyes of the new country. These countries tend not to fair too well.

    Tim Harford wrote a great chapter in the Logic of Life as to what starting conditions of a newly independent country will contribute to a successful country and what won’t. Even subtle differences like trade winds and topical illness can play a big role.

  26. 26 Shirley
    July 25, 2008 at 22:05

    Heterogeneous & Homogeneous Friendships
    Salam, Lubna
    Some years ago, I enjoyed making friends from the international community that aggregated at the local university. These days, I find more pleasure in reading books than in interacting with people. It was fun for me at the time to learn about different foods, religions, etc. and to learn a couple of words in various languages. That old mystique seems to be gone for me, though.

  27. 27 Mohammed Ali
    July 25, 2008 at 22:20

    This is from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Afghanistan: Killing Friends, Making Enemy An expert panel recommends reducing air strikes, increasing ground troops and improving communication with the Afgan government, public media, as well as providing reparations to those families harmed by U. S. and NATO operations. More at http://www.usip.org

  28. 28 Mohammed Ali
    July 25, 2008 at 22:28

    @Bryan, I agree with you. Even with those African countries that were colonized, some were left with a bid of infrastructures to begin. Some of those countries by African standard example Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, South Africa, are developed.

  29. 29 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 22:35

    Hi everyone,

    This will be it for tonight for me, ZK is probably also already sleeping. I hope that somebody in the Western hemisphere can keep an eye on the blog until ZK and I are up again.

    Good night, everyone!

  30. 30 nelsoni
    July 25, 2008 at 22:40

    Hi Every one

    @ Lubna,

    Coming from a very diverse back ground, I find making friends with people from different backgrounds relatively easy. There is mutual respect so when get along very well even though we don’t believe in the same things. I have had to learn two languages so I can communicate better with my friends. Once you are not prejudicial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi racial friendships across the board is very feasible. I am talking from personal experience.

    @ Mohammed Ali, Glad you are back.

  31. 31 victork13
    July 25, 2008 at 22:56

    Journalist in hiding for reporting (on the BBC) about the murder of albinos in Tanzania. They are killed so that their body parts can be used for black magic.


    Some thoughts: forced conversion, from a lower – and barbaric religion – to a higher one is not always wrong. Any religion would be better than this Tanzanian equivalent of satanism.

    Absolute religious freedom is nonsense.

    Some states need an Ataturk: a leader who will lift them out of practices & beliefs that are backward, primitive and an impediment to development. Ataturk did it by a process of de-Islamification of Turkish public life. Some African countries need to do it in respect of traditional religions of this murderous and satanic kind.

  32. 32 Bryan
    July 25, 2008 at 22:57

    Mohammed Ali July 25, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    “@Bryan, I agree with you.”

    Well, I appreciate that. Only problem is, I ain’t made no comment yet.

  33. 33 Shirley
    July 25, 2008 at 23:02

    Katharina, would that mean that you also know some Dutch? What key words would someone use to Google genealogical links? Like the word “genealogy” or the phrase “family history”? And how do you ask someone if he or she (or anyone) speaks English? I know that these seem like silly questions, but after all these years of researching, I am hitting some serious brick walls and hope to expand my research tentacles beyond the world of English.

  34. 34 victork13
    July 25, 2008 at 23:16

    When the conversation goes from what might evolve into the topic of a WHYS programme to private chit chat that’s the sign for me to be off.

    Good night all!

  35. 35 Count Iblis
    July 25, 2008 at 23:20

    Shirley, see here 🙂

  36. 36 Shirley
    July 25, 2008 at 23:30

    Luz María, what is your opinion, then, of the lucha Zapotista?

    ¡por una causa justa, por tierra y libertad!

  37. 37 Mohammed Ali
    July 26, 2008 at 00:15

    @BRYAN, I meant Robert.

  38. July 26, 2008 at 00:21

    Like my brother Ali said relationship should mutual understanding. History has proven that passionate religiousity or better still, fundamentalism has torn society and the world apart. Love should be a common denominator to diversity.

  39. 39 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 00:32

    Today <a href=”California bans trans fat from food in restaurants and bakeries. Of course, this recent ban does not include trans fat found in all food.”>California bans trans fatfrom food in restaurants and bakeries, but does not include packaged food sold in stores. It looks as though this may help with the battle over obesity. Does this go far enough, does it go too far? I can’t make up my mind. Last week the CDCreleased its report on obesity in the US and it was not pretty. I’m wondering if this is a step in the right direction.

  40. 40 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 00:57

    I think you have misunderstood me.

    The “Zapotec” (Zapoteca in Spanish) is an indigenous ethnia in the south of Mexico, they live in the state of Oaxaca. They have existed since pre-Columbian times. My friend is Zapotec. You can learn more about them here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapotec_peoples

    The “Zapatistas” belong to the EZLN (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional). The EZLN is an armed revolutionary group based in Chiapas (another state in Southern Mexico). Most of them are indigenous people -mainly Mayans- but their leader “Subcomandante Marcos” is not (he is a mestizo). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapatista_Army_of_National_Liberation

    I don´t support the EZLN because they are an armed group. I don´t believe in using violence to fight against injustice. However, I support NGO that advocate in favour of indigenous rights, especially women´s rights. Although indigenous traditions are mainly good traditions, there are some that vulnerate the human rights of women and children.These traditions are based in patriarchal notions that were perpetuated during the Colony and Post-Colony times. To the present day, Mexico is still a patriarchal society, but the good news is that little by little is changing.

    My Zapotec friend is a very couragous women and she has a good husband. She refused to be subjected to forced married by ritual kidnapping and rape; she married his boyfriend against her parents will; they moved to my town to get better jobs; and they decided to have only one child to give her the best they could. Very nice and empowering story 😉

  41. 41 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 01:09


    I think is a good measure. However, they should also cover packaged food.

    I blame the rise of obesity in the availability of cheap junk food. Here in Mexico we went from having poor malnurished people to poor obese and malnurished people. This is mainly because it is cheaper to buy a Frito Lay bag that the same amount of fruits or vegetables. Junk food is everywhere, even schools. The government should put a tax in junk food; obesity is causing a lot of health problems in the Mexican population.

  42. 42 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 01:13

    @ZK and Katharina
    I am able to moderate for a while. It is still early in this part of the world (19:30 hrs).

  43. 43 nelsoni
    July 26, 2008 at 01:15

    @ Julie P. Nice work on the Html tags

  44. 44 nelsoni
    July 26, 2008 at 01:21

    @ Luz Ma. It makes Perfect sense to have moderators from different time zones. So that way the blog is always up and running 24-7. Luz ma any talking points?

  45. 45 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 01:26

    @Luz Ma,

    We have junk food available everywhere: there are vending machines with junk food available for high school students to eat right outside of the class room, and right at the check out counters at just about anywhere a person can buy stuff. At my job the company has soda: Coke, Pepsi, etc, available for us to drink all of the time at no charge. The president of the company I work at took some responsibility for the obesity at my company because of that policy. He held a contest for company employees to lose weight. There are 40 people in my office and 32 people took the challenge. After that office diet and from what I read coming out of the CDC last week, something needs to be done. It’s a small step that, in my opinion, needs to get bigger.

  46. 46 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 01:29


    I’m trying. It looks like it needs a little work though. I like to write stuff that, if there is a story to support my comment, I like to include the link to the story, but I’m not crazy how some of the links are so long and hang over the edge of the comment.

  47. 47 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 01:52


    About your comment on the murder of Albinos in Tanzania:

    You said:

    “forced conversion, from a lower – and barbaric religion – to a higher one is not always wrong.”

    I think that men have used their religious beliefs as excuses to commit attrocities. In most religions -if not all- this has happened since the begining of times.

    I don´t think “forced conversion” is a good idea. I think that when a person is “forced” to change her/his beliefs, he/she holds more tightly to them. I believe in education and condemnation of religious practices that vulnerate the human rights of any person. If you ask me to rate human rights, I think the right to life is higher than the right to freedom of religion.

  48. 48 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 02:02

    The President of the Company where you work did the right thing when he tood responsibility for the rise of obesity among his employers.

    I am happy that my soon-to-be boss is a health freak. You can bring your junk food and sodas from home, but they are not available at the office. I´ll try to bring healthy food for lunch and snacks. However, I am not worried, because I tend to loose wait when I work full-time 😉

  49. 49 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 02:03

    My past comment was for Julie P.

  50. 50 Jack Hughes
    July 26, 2008 at 02:11


    Choosing to eat junk food is called “personal freedom”. It’s not anyone else’s business.

    @Julie P: maybe your boss would be helping everyone if he had some free healthy food available as well – some fruit to chomp, nuts to nibble, fresh water to sip.

  51. 51 Jack Hughes
    July 26, 2008 at 02:13

    Or even bottled water 😎

  52. 52 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 02:13

    @Luz Ma,

    I figured your last comment was aimed at me.

    The president of my company isn’t a health freak, but he has traveled internationally extensively and has developed an eye for American habits toward food vs. other cultures. He has brought up cultural differences about views toward food during smaller meetings with us. In a one on one conversation with him and his executive assistant, we discussed removing the soft drinks from the workplace altogether for a three reasons: it’s available and it is putting weight on people, which no one likes, it is driving up their health care costs because of obesity, and it is also driving up dental costs because it corrodes teeth and reeks havoc on gums. The problem with our company is that it is part of a conglomerate, so the president would need to get permission to completely remove the soft drinks from the break room altogether, so he is thinking of charging a small fee for the soft drinks and then donating the money to a worthy cause.

  53. 53 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 02:14


    I have suggested that too.

  54. 54 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 02:21


    It is “personal freedom” when the people that choose to eat junk food have knowledge of the consequences of eating too much of it.

    As I said before, the poor and educated people in my country consume a high amount of junk food and sodas because it is cheaper than healthier food and because of some “misguided” information. For instance, we are the number 1 consumer of Coke (the beverage, not the drug) in the world. This is because some Mexicans think that Coke is nutritious (since it has so many calories). They do not know the concept of “empty calories”. And the government and the junk food industry obviously do not do anything to change this kind of perceptions.

    What bother me is the overwhelming availability of junk food in schools. In my opinion, that should stop.

  55. 55 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 02:26

    @Luz Ma,

    You are correct in assessment of the socioeconomics having an impact on peoples’ choices of food. Some have no idea what they are sticking in their mouths thinking it is good for them, when it is not, like soft drinks.

  56. 56 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 02:27

    @Julie P

    I have always thought that if the government make junk food more expensive (by taxing it), the number of people that consume it in a daily basis will shrink.

  57. 57 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 02:34

    @Luz Ma,

    I would like to see some action taken to have some kind of guidelines for the amount of sugar/fructose put into food, especially processed food. In my opinion, there is far too much of it being added, as if it is a filler. I think that is another cause to obesity.

    I started reading the labels on food before I bought them, once I noticed this pattern of sugar/fructose, and sodium additives in food products I severely curtailed the amount of processed food I buy. Too many empty calories are getting put into food, and, in my opinion, to increase profit.
    Consequently, I eat far more fresh veggies, fruit, and antibiotic free meat than I ever have.

  58. 58 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 02:38

    I have a friend who is pregnant. She drinks around 7 or 8 “Diet Coke” per day . She read in a magazine article that it is OK to drink that kind of soft drink during pregnancy. Certainly, it is not good for the baby because of the amount of cafeine that Diet Coke has.

    The sad part is that the junk food and soft drink industryies are quite powerful. The former President of Mexico was -for a long time- the CEO of Coca-Cola in Mexico. Imagine how powerful the industry is in my country.

  59. 59 Dennis
    July 26, 2008 at 02:45

    @ the moderators,

    sorry for not being around…..

    {good night from new york}

    Syracuse, New York

  60. 60 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 02:47

    @Luz Ma,

    Slow head shake. If there is any product on the face of this earth I despise more than anything it is diet soft drinks. They contain more artificial this that and the other in them. I often wonder what kind of harm they are doing to themselves by drinking that stuff.

    I recall after the “Gulf War” in the early 90’s soldiers came back with the “Gulf War Disease”. No one knew what it was. There is one theory that Coke was sending over a lot of diet Coke to the soldiers who would drink the stuff after it had sat out in the hot sun. If I remember correctly, the chemical composition of the soda was changed because of the heat. It was suggested at one time this may be the source of “Gulf War Disease”. I do not know it there was an conclusive evidence linked to it, but it made me think, maybe…

    Those industries are quite powerful.

    Are you speaking of Vincente Fox?

  61. 61 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 03:00

    @Julie P

    I also despise Diet Coke. The flavour make me crawl… ugh!! And I have my doubts about the safeness of aspartame. I use it to kill ants in my house… just imagine!

    Indeed, I was speaking of Vicente Fox.

  62. 62 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 03:05

    Dennis… Good night!
    I´ll be around an hour or so… I have to get up early in the morning for my daughter´s artwork exhibition at summer camp.

    I won´t be around much this weekend. I´ll be going out with family and friends. It is summer!

  63. 63 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 03:07

    @Luz Ma,

    I would love to continue this conversation about food, obesity, and he role government and the food industry has in it. I find it quite an interesting topic. My brother and I talked about food for three or four days last week. He recently went on a medically supervised diet to loose 50 pounds, nearly 23 kg, so it meant a lot to him and since I have not ever spent a day in my life overweight he wanted to learn my eating habits and thoughts on food. He was looking into possibly adopting some of them for himself. That said, I am tired and I am going to bed.

  64. 64 Shirley
    July 26, 2008 at 03:18

    Count Iblis, thank you.

    Luz María, you’re right; I did get confused between the two. Thank you for clarifying. Now, in addition to testing my posts for closed HTML tags and spelling, I get to Wikipedia them :=)

    Food & Health
    Julie, Gulf War disease has more to do with radiation exposure and PTSD than with beverages. I treat sodas, both diet and regular, as treats to be had only occasionally. Even the weetners in the regular sodas have processed ingredients. High fructose corn syrup did not come from a sugar cane. It was made in a lab, too. There are s many processed ingredients in much of the food we eat. I have been challenging myself more and more to learn to cook the things hat I would like to eat so that I know what has gone into it. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I am beginning to see some progress.

    Luz has a point about how junk food is marketed. How many ads do we see for chips and pop as compared to apples and carrots? I don’t even count ads for meat and milk, because I really don’t consider them to be very healthy. I wouldn’t class them as junk food, but I certainly would not make them the staples of my diet, either. Junk food has also been made into forms that are easily eaten: hand-held, often bite-sized pieces that don’t squirt liquids all over the place. And now we see brighter colours and even the use of popular children’s cartoon characters to incite juvenile demands for these snacks.

    Perhaps that issues of healthy eating and the media go hand in hand?

  65. 65 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 03:27

    Hi Gang!

    Greetings from sunny (again) Queensland.

    Believe it or not, I do care about Cyprus and would be happy to participate in a discussion. I have to admit a self-interest–in 1978 I was lucky enough to spend about six months living there, on loan to PIK (Greek Cypriot Television) consulting on improving the quality (journalistic and technical) of their news output and preparing them for daily access to many hours of Eurovision transmissions.

    The time I was there was soon enough after the invasion that there were still un-patched bullet marks on the walls of the TV station but, despite the literally fresh wounds there was already a feeling on both sides that a giant mistake had been made. The Greeks realised that they had pushed their Turkish neighbours too hard and the Turks I met (by using my press credentials to get across the UN “green line”. knew they were onto a loser.

    The present movement (and I believe there are behind-the-scenes negotiations going on) is due to pressure from the EU to resolve this before they get membership. The major stumbling block is that there is, in effect total segregation with properties on both sides of the divide given to refugees, some of whom have now lived in there “stolen” homes for generations.

    A solution will be a tall order but, if it’s pulled off, Cyprus might turn into a model for other situations…maybe even the Palestinian issue. I’m not holding my breath but it might just show what can be done.

  66. 66 steve
    July 26, 2008 at 03:31

    re: gulf war disease

    When I lived in Berlin in 1997, I would on occasion go to a bar in Berlin called “Ma Deuce” that was owned by an American vet of the first gulf war. He had gulf war sickness, and amongst many symptoms he had, he had a very weak stomach. He could no longer drink coffee or alcohol as it made him sick. His theory it was either from iraqi chemical attacks that the US government never admitted to, or the vaccines they gave them against biological agents.

  67. 67 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 03:56

    Re: Gulf war disease

    Did’t I read somewhere that the had actually established that the bouquet of of vaccines they were given all at once were shown to interact and cause the symptoms? Or was that one of the headlines we get all so often the prove to be wrong but are never corrected in the press?

  68. 68 1430a
    July 26, 2008 at 04:28

    hello Everyone,
    Congratulations to the moderators.Hope you guys keep up the good job.
    Well today i watched in the news that the tickets for the Main events of Olympics are over for the Chinese citizens.And amongst the rejected band of people i saw a man who shed tears due to not being able to get a ticket.
    So my Question today is:Is it right to be so enthusiastic about the Olympics(for the Chinese)?And Why does it seem that the other Asian countries are not soo enthusiastic about this great event?

  69. 69 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 04:49

    For the record: the Qantas flight that lost pressure yesterday (along with part of its fuselage) didn’t “plunge” 20,000 feet. It was flown–quickly but under complete control–down to 10,000 feet because that’s standard procedure when something goes wrong with pressurisation.

    There’s not enough oxygen to keep the passengers alive at 30,000 feet (and it’s bitterly cold). At 10,000 feet there’s enough oxygen to breath without the masks and the temperature is a lot warmer.

    Well done to the Qantas crew–and a shake of the finger to a few sensationalist script writers at BBC and all the Aussie networks. (The BBC web site is rather more accurate by the way.)

  70. 70 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 04:58


    I never stated or implied that fructose came from sugar cane. It is still used as or like a sweetener. Since there is some controversy concerning fructose here it the dictionary version of it. It is still a sweetener.


  71. July 26, 2008 at 06:46

    Good morning ..ladies and gebtlemen..I just Liked Kathi’s and ZK’s capability to take charge responsibly.

    However I would Like to add more spices to B.P.17.here they come-

    DO YOU IT”S EVER POSSIBLE TO MAKE POVERTY A HISTORY IN AFRICA?.( Dennis has written a comment on my weblog http://www.abdiloveskenya.wordpress.com and He say’s it’s possible-Thank you DENNIS,I really appreciate That)!

  72. 72 Rick
    July 26, 2008 at 07:59

    On friday I saw a news story about an astronaught/moonwalker claiming insider knowledge about the existence of aliens and that Rockwell was true and there has been an international coverup. I was at work and did’t take the details, like the guy’s name etc. I can’t find a trace of the story today. Did anyone else see it? It was on ninemsn I think.
    Now, I’m a sceptic on all this stuff but if anyone has credibility, this guy would.

  73. 73 ZK
    July 26, 2008 at 08:21

    Hey all, apologies. I was called away this morning so couldn’t moderate. I’m here for the rest of the weekend though. Catching up now…

  74. 74 ZK
    July 26, 2008 at 08:28

    Lubna: Here in Singapore we’re multi-religious and a multi-cultural society. I have Muslim and Christian and Buddhist friends; ethnic Malay, Chinese, and Eurasian. Can these friendships work out?

    Yes they can. My best friends in secondary school (not too long ago, only about three years since) were two Malay Muslims, an Indian Muslim and a Sikh (I’m ethnic Chinese but I consider myself agnostic). Why did it work? In Singapore we are taught since young to tolerate others, to befriend them and to live and work together in racial harmony. This probably helped our friendship develop. However I am not too sure if such a programme would work elsewhere. In Singapore, it helped as it was (still is) a government initiative, and we’ve had the same people in charge since 1959.

  75. 75 ZK
    July 26, 2008 at 08:31

    Abhinav: I don’t see why being a Chinese citizen should in any way mean they don’t have the “right to be so enthusiastic”. Quite the contrary, since they’re hosting the Olympics, I would be very surprised if a large number of Chinese citizens weren’t.

    As for why are other Asian countries not so enthusiastic, I’m not too sure what you mean by that. I haven’t seen anything that says others aren’t enthusiastic.

    And a note to all: the length of the posts so far have been very good, four to five paragraphs tops. Makes it so much easier. Thank you all!

  76. 76 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 08:41

    Re workplace food.

    I used to work in a facility where all the soft drinks, candy bars were free. As much as you could stomach. I but on so much weight it was scary.

    My new workplace just provides coffee, tea and fruit free. The cokes etc are still there but we pay for them. They are now a treat once a day and as a result I’ve now lost all the weight I’ve put on over the last five years.

    Only problem is now I have to go and buy an entirely new wardrobe because very few of my clothes fit anymore.

  77. 77 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 08:45

    Good morning everyone!

    After a good night’s sleep I’m all up and running again…

    @ food and obesity:

    I’m convinced that one major reason for the rise of obesity is just simply that many people don’t cook themselves anymore, they just buy prepared meals and have no idea what’s in them. Even if you buy the ground beef yourself and pour some canned pasta sauce over it, you can’t know what the company put into the pasta sauce and why the taste is so much more intense than when you make your own.

    The other observation that I made when I moved from Austria to Canada was that the Canadian plates were by at least one inch bigger than the Austrian. This may not sound important, but the same amount of food looks like much less when you put it on a bigger plate, so you’re tempted to put more food on it.

    Last, but not least I think that junk food should be completely banned from schools, and sodas should cost the kids more than water or fruit juices.

  78. July 26, 2008 at 08:53

    @ ZK
    We are having a quite satarday! aren’t we?

  79. July 26, 2008 at 08:58

    @ Katherina In Ghent ,Belgium

    Hi kathi,really nice to have back.
    @Obesity-I agree with you that many people don’t take lot’s of precaution’s in avoiding Obesity especailly the Kids.

    The Kids like whatever that taste Juicy and sweet.,ecpecially drinks juices.I think the Government in all countries Should ban the sell of Junk Foods in Schools.

  80. 80 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 09:03

    @ Abdi

    Good morning, my friend.

    Is it possible to make poverty a thing of the past in Africa? Of course it’s possible–the proper question is “will it happen?”.

    Two unrelated points came to mind. First, is it really a good idea to refer to “Africa” as a single entity. The continent of Africa is a huge place and countries their range from places rich in natural resources to arid barren desert lands with practically nothing. Obviously the answer will be different depending on where you’re talking about.

    Second, I hate to say it but I fear that poverty will continue until corruption in the governments can be weeded out–and this is not realistically something that can be imposed from outside. Africans will have to fight this battle for themselves.

  81. July 26, 2008 at 09:12


    Mornning to You,
    I agree with you that unless we elimante Corruption we will never win the war over Poverty!,
    But My precious BOb, “To elimate corruption in Africa is a harculean task (tough Assignment)and I beleive it’s totally Unacheivable as much as I wanted to see Africa without Corrupt individuals!

    I will Forward to you’r email inbox the Pictures of the House Robert Mugabe Lives in.And just Imagine the Kind of Hunger,Starvations and Hardship the people of Zimbabwe are Going Through!

  82. July 26, 2008 at 09:16


    I have received an email from the

    The letter is claiming that


    It say’s I am a winner of $ 1,000,000! is this real?

  83. 83 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 09:24

    @ Abdi

    I’d love to know a millionaire but that lottery email is a fraudulant scam. Whatever you do, DO NOT send them any money or give them your personal details.

    (As an aside, usually this sort of scam originates in Nigeria and is sent TO the United Kingdom. It’s amusing (in a sad sort of way) to see one being sent back to Africa.)

  84. July 26, 2008 at 09:31

    Good Morning WHYSers, To Liberians if any, Happy Independence Day. Well, there is not much food variety here. Our staple food is rice. We will have much of that today. For the world large, i think we need to control kids diet since they are usually not selective in what they eat particular sweet.

  85. 85 Pangolin-California
    July 26, 2008 at 09:34

    @ Abdi- any unsolicited e-mails claiming that you have won something, that your computer has a problem or that somebody wants to be your bride are scams. Actually almost any unsolicited e-mails are scams.

    Learn and delete.

  86. July 26, 2008 at 09:38

    Hello WHYS,

    Can anybody hazard a guess what the economic equilibrium price is for crude oil? I was talking to an economics teacher friend of mine. He said something interesting. He said until the markets find the equilibrium price, there would be no predictability in the market. We went back and forth point out things that effect that point.

    I would like to know what people think will be that tipping point and why?

  87. July 26, 2008 at 09:39

    @ BOB

    Thank you very Much for Advice!…I agree with you,But are there any Geniune Lottery Organisatino?so that in the near future I don’t ignore them and hence hindrering chances Bob having a millionare friend!(a loyal friend like Abdi ,who could have shared some with BoB!..ha..ha.haa.

  88. July 26, 2008 at 09:45

    @ Pangolin in California

    Thank you too.I have deleted it.
    Bob tell’s me that their main objective is that they will ask you to send money as a precessing fees to enable them to deliver the $ 1,000,000 into my Bank A/C.

  89. 89 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 10:07

    @ economic equilibrium price:

    Well, I guess that’s what the whole market is trying to find out at the moment, isn’t it? The price used to be pretty stable until two (?) years ago, and now it will eventually settle at a new, alas much higher price, and then life will be back to normal again. My guess is that it will be somewhere around 120$. 150$ was too high, and after this shock, we “ordinaries” will be glad when it will be “only” 120$, “it could be so much higher, right?”

    Tipping points: For as much as the West complains, in the end we can afford almost any price, otherwise we all would stop driving, whereas developing countries are being hit much harder by a high price, but India and China will still be able to go on with a pretty high one, as they have proven in the last couple of years.

    As with every pain, eventually you get used to it and think that’s how it’s supposed to feel like.

  90. 90 Pangolin-California
    July 26, 2008 at 10:09

    @ Food choice and obesity- I find it amusing that there is so much emphasis on food choice as a factor in obesity. I have never eaten anything but whole grain breads, don’t drink wine or beer, don’t drink soda’s or eat chips or donuts and yet I am still rather fat. Lord only knows how fat I would be if I had all the usual bad habits.

    Obesity is a product of inactive lifestyles, genetics and environment. When I lived in San Francisco, where driving is just not practical, I weighed about 60 lbs less than I do now. Of course I was also 25 at the time and overflowing with energy. Now I am in my 40’s and rather ill it is difficult to drop weight.

    The State of California would do better to discourage driving in order to reduce obesity than to ban trans-fats or sodas.

  91. 91 Pangolin-California
    July 26, 2008 at 10:17

    @ Oil Prices- Anybody who wants to learn more than they really need to know about oil production should check out The Oil Drum website. There they have very technical discussions about world oil supplies, consumption and pricing. The predicted the very steep rise in oil prices quite well.

    For a cornucopian, and very inaccurate prediction of world oil supplies simply check out any oil company web-site. The US Geological Survey will also give you a view about as accurate as any other pronouncement by the Bush administration.

    Don’t rush out and buy an SUV.

  92. 92 nelsoni
    July 26, 2008 at 10:23

    @ Bob in Queensland Please don’t speculate about the origin of the scam mail abdi received. Brazil is said to have the largest number of cyber criminals in the world. Please refer to the BBC documentary How crime took on the world part two or three. Cheers.

  93. 93 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 10:42

    @ Nelson

    I wasn’t speculating about the source of the scam Abdi received, just commenting on a wry amusement that one was going back to Africa.

    In the past I certainly received quite a few from Nigeria (as checked by investigating the email headers and source IP addresses) but lately it’s been Russian and Eastern Europe that are the source of most of mine…not many from Brazil yet but it goes in waves.

  94. 94 nelsoni
    July 26, 2008 at 10:52

    Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 10:42 am

    (as checked by investigating the email headers and source IP addresses)

    that in it self may not be conclusive enough as the IP addressees may actually be proxies.

  95. 95 Pangolin-California
    July 26, 2008 at 10:52

    @ Bob- I get those e-mails from desperately lonely Russian women too but they all seem to insist that I should wire them my pay packet for their mother’s urgently needed operation. A wonder that.

    @ Afghanistan- Can somebody please explain to my why they US and Britain are focused on Afghanistan when the major terrorist attacks have been funded, directed and executed by Saudi Arabians? Where were the Afghans on Sept. 11th.? Certainly not on the planes.

  96. 96 nelsoni
    July 26, 2008 at 11:13

    @ Pangolin-California
    July 26, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Afghanistan is thought to be the head quarters for the recruitment of terrorists or freedom fighters(depending on how you look at it). So take out the training camps, less attacks.

    About Scam Mails,

    Only a greedy person will be duped. If you want to reap where you did not sow, you get scammed. Greed is the main reason why people will always get ripped off. If you know you did not enter for any lottery or stuff like that, do not bother you self. Just mark the mail as spam and move on. Cyber criminals capitalize on the knowledge that most people are greedy.

    If some thing looks too good to be true, it probably is.

    Always remember that.

  97. 97 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 11:35


    Remember that during the 70’s oil reached prices we’ve only just matched this year (inflation factored in). During the 90’s you would get change from a $10 bill.

    My guess would be oil would settle out in the medium term to less than $120. Proberbly around $80 – $100.

    The reasons. The current high prices has just opened up previously economically marginal fields (in those days of $30 oil). This extra oil will ease the supply side of the equation. It will take 2 -3 years to bring this production to world markets.

    The credit crunch and recession is likely to dampen the demand side.

  98. 98 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 11:42

    Re Banning junk food.

    On surface of it it sounds a good idea but………

    How do you define junk food. I’ve had some very nice burgers that would pass almost any health test you care to mention. I’ve had some vegetables that were so badly prepared (both by the manufacturer and my own cooking skills) that they have no nutritional value to them.

  99. 99 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 11:47

    Re Food preparation.

    I fully agree with the idea the more you cook for yourself the better it is. I don’t have easy access to prepared meals, the odd frozen pizza or fish finger is as good as I get.

    The result is that I cook for myself from the raw ingredients. I’m try and be careful about portion and have found it easier to cook about 3 or 4 times what I need and freeze for future use. The result, I’m enjoying the food much more and I haven’t felt so good health wise in a long time.

  100. 100 Pangolin- California
    July 26, 2008 at 11:51

    @ nelsoni- The Sept. 11th groups did their flight training in Florida and San Diego. Are we going to bomb there too? The ‘training camps’ argument is crap and has been proven so as the parties concerned just jumped across the border to Pakistan and kept right on going. Location doesn’t matter with these groups.

    Follow the money trail and it leads straight to Saudi Arabia. The US government is pursuing a war on false pretenses and it’s easily proved. Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires for a reason.

  101. 101 Pangolin- California
    July 26, 2008 at 12:00

    @ Robert- The majority of the worlds largest oil feilds are all in production decline and the production coming online just can’t match that. The Saudi’s repeatedly claim that they are going to raise output but the promised oil never ships. World oil production is going flat out and struggling to maintain a platau.

    T. Boone Pickens told people he was buying long term oil contracts a year ago at present prices and those are pure money now. He’s building wind farms.

    Don’t count on that miracle.

  102. 102 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 12:09


    Afghanistan is where Osama bin Laden and his band of merry “freedom fighters” (Arabs, not Afghans) had their headquarters, you don’t remember? Now they’re in Pakistan, but it’s kinda hairy reaching them there.


    For whose “freedom” were tthey “fighting,” by the way? Nobody’s. They’re terrorists, plan and simple. Some things are morally ambiguous; some things aren’t. This one isn’t.

  103. 103 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 12:23

    @ Pangolin

    Yes, much of the funding of Al Qaeda comes from Saudi Arabia but NOT from the Saudi royal family (i.e. the government). In fact, one of the goals of Al Qaeda is to topple the Saudi Royal family.

  104. 104 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 12:29


    Thanks so much for reminding us that oil was around $20 for most of the 1990s. To me, that’s a much more interesting matter than the fact that it’s $130ish now. I don’t remember any calls for congressional investigations, or wacky conspiracy theories, about why it fell so far, so fast, so long. I guess it’s human nature (and certainly political nature) to be incurious when comfortable. Still, it would be instructive to know this, and inject a measure of common sense where it’s in short supply.

    One thing we can be sure of is that speculators, oil companies, and little furry Martians do not set prices or drive them up, since if they had that pricing power, they never would have allowed that collapse to happen. Speculators lost billions on energy in the 1990s.

  105. 105 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 12:36


    I know that production is declining the big fields, and that new fields can’t keep up, that’s it why I feel the price will never return to the $30 region.

    At the moment we are in a strange limbo regarding oil projects. Most oil companies are conservative regarding the price after they got it badly wrong in the 90’s. They have only recently starting sanctioning new platforms and new oil reserves on the basis of higher oil pricing.

    Future production profiles for legal reasons can’t include production from unsanctioned projects or fields. Therefore the current projections don’t include these new fields and will show a much sharper decline than will really happen. I’m sure the decline will happen but not as much as a $120+ projection would suggest. I would suspect that an equilibrium would be reached somewhere just below $100.

  106. 106 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 12:42


    Well, location does matter re Osama bin Laden, to those who wish to hasten the happy day when he assumes room temperature. Hard to kill the bastard if we don’t know where he is. Recall how hard it was for the Rumsfeld bunch to get him when we DID know where he was.

  107. 107 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 12:50

    I hear the big new oil finds are in Brazil, which has to be good news all around, since it’s both closer and friendlier to the US than the emirates, kingdoms, etc. of the Mideast.

  108. 108 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 12:52

    Bob Q., it’s bedtime for me. Happy to have cleared the room for you. Think I should switch my deodorant or something?

  109. 109 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 26, 2008 at 12:57


    I got the idea that fructose is “better” than sugar (from cane). Here in Mexico, sugar from cane is cheaper than any other sweatener, even the soft drink industry use it to sweat their products. That is why Coke taste different here than in the U.S and Canada (these are the only ones that I have drank, I don´t know in other countries).

    About cooking your food instead of buying:

    I gained weight when I lived in Canada. I have to say that for year I bought “ready to serve” food more than 2 times a week because I didn´t have time for cooking (a Mater program and 2 children!!!). After that, I cook again and I lost the weight. Well, cooking your own food is the easiest way of aiming at a healthy diet.

    I have to go… I won´t be around until night (my time). I have my daughter´s artwork exhibition at summer camp and lunch with friends. See you later… keep on the good conversation.

  110. 110 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 12:58

    @oil prices,

    I believe eventually there will be an equilibrium price point found for it, although it won’t be as low it was in the 90’s, but at what the amount will be is a guess.

    @scam e-mail

    Apply the rule: if it’s too good to be true, then probably it is.

    I’ve gotten my fair share over the years about them many of them came with a sob story, or I’ve hit the jackpot. Some of my favorites have been the phishing scams. They always come from “banks” that I never use claiming they need more information from me for “security reasons”, which is always my credit card number. Riiight! Oh, the logic on those. So if “my bank” needs my credit card number for some bizarre reason, don’t they have it on file already?

    Here is my favorite thing about scam e-mails, they do their best to make them look as official as possible, give them a sense of urgency, include official logos, and then do not check for them for grammar and spelling. The grammar and spelling is always bad. Oh, and the e-mail addresses are always something like a hot mail, yahoo, or some other type of free account. No, that would never give them away.

    I delete them and move on. Although there was one con artist who I kept deleting his scam e-mails that eventually sent me a chastising e-mail for not responding to him. It was a real hoot!

  111. 111 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 13:02

    @ oil fields in Brazil:

    Aren’t these newly discovered oil fields off-shore, pretty far down under water? If yes, then it will be quite difficult to get there.

  112. 112 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 13:06

    @ scam emails:

    My favorite was that I was denied a credit card application in the US… where I’ve never lived! What annoys me the most is that you must not reply to them because then they know that the email address is real and they really come after you. I often feel tempted to write an answer, beginning with “Listen, buddy…”, but I don’t. They just a nuissance, really, and I’m not complaining, but since I started moderating, I swear that I got more crap than before.

  113. 113 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 13:11

    @Luz Ma,

    When it comes to fructose small amounts are good for you, but it has entered into our food, at least American food, where it is not as harmless as it once was.

    I did a little reading last night about it. Here is what I found about it that I agree with in many respects, but not all.


  114. 114 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 13:11

    Re: Cooking vs, Prepared Meals

    We use very few convenience foods here…both my wife and I enjoy our food and the process of cooking it

    Ironically, some of our “quick meals” are actually faster to do from scratch than a lot of the pre-made meals are to re-heat–and ours taste better too!

  115. 115 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 13:16


    You brought up plate sizes earlier. I completely agree with you about the size differences between one side of the pond to the other. I noticed the same thing while visiting Europe in the past, the plates are always smaller over there. I also noticed the same thing about portion sizes as well. It took me a while, but I replaced my plates with smaller ones for that very reason: portion control. Everything in moderation.

  116. 116 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 13:22


    Yes it is a very deep field. Its also a heavy oil which will cause problems lifting it through the nearly 4 miles to the platform.

    There have been questions about the actual size of the field. It lies below a salt formation, which makes it more difficult to accurately measure to size the field. They will likely need some more work before they can be certain of the size of the field.

    Then there is drilling. The reports suggest this will need about 100 wells. That’s a lot of hole to make, and the deeper the water the hard it is to drill.

    None of that above is impossible but the rest of the industry will be looking at Petrobras to see how they solve these technical problems.

  117. 118 steve
    July 26, 2008 at 14:51

    I don’t know how credible this news source is, but it says Beijing is forbidding bars from serving “blacks and mongolians” during the olympics.


  118. 119 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 14:57

    Phew, I’m glad I read the link you provided, I already wanted to ask what they put in that cocktail… 🙂 What are they going to do about coloured visitors to the games? Is this a “White and Light-coloured Asian Only” competition?

  119. 120 steve
    July 26, 2008 at 14:58

    @ Katharina

    I’m not sure about the credibility of the source, but it’s also listed on blogs and whatever as well. Just thought it was something newsworthy if indeed true.

  120. 121 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 15:08

    Well, if it is true, I hope that all the black and mongolian/dark-coloured Asians will outrun/swim/whatever the Chinese Athletes. The article that you linked also mentioned tight closing hours and whether bars will be even able to operate near the venues.

    To the Chinese credit I have to say that there have been islamist threats reported, apparently they already attacked buses and the likes in China.


    The question will be whether they will be able to get anywhere near the stadiums or not, and how imminent their threat really is. Similar threats have always been made at Olympic Games in the past.

  121. 122 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 15:22

    Re Chinese bars

    It sound very much like the England supporters during any major football event in Europe. There are quite rational concerns over safety and so the authorities try and restrict the focal points of trouble. This is fair enough.

    The possible racist aspect of this is if it is truly blacks and Mongolians that cause the trouble or if this is just the perceived wisdom of Chinese police. In the English supporters case, much to our national disgrace, it was beyond doubt they were the cause of much the trouble in the past. I’m not sure about the China situation though.

    It raises an interesting debate. If statically a group of people are known to be trouble makers, can this be used against the rest of that population as a precaution?

  122. 123 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 15:33

    @ Robert:

    I believe the police do racial profiling all the time, in Toronto there was a big outcry from the dark population living in certain areas that they were profiled against, and the police basically had to deny that they did, but I’m sure that this was the case. After all, if you have a residential area with lots of gun crime, young black males going against each other, would you really check on the few white/Asians that happen to live there, too? It only makes sense to me and anything else would be bad police work.

  123. 124 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 15:40

    I’m sure racial profiling does happen. I’m just interested in why it is considered non PC to admit it.

    For everything else that we can be profiled against there are times when groups are profiled. Even other ‘ism’s are not always taboo (We profile for sex with car insurence being the best example).

    Why does race appear to be such a no go area to admit that it happens.

  124. July 26, 2008 at 15:58

    Steve: looks like a site with Christian roots. On their ‘about us’ page I think it’s almost obvious their anti-China bias, as China is apparently “empowering and promoting atheism in schools and the mass-media (even in television soap operas) without giving any space to religious education”…

    Wouldn’t read too much into that unless some more notable news agency can confirm it.

  125. July 26, 2008 at 15:59

    Iran’s new claim that the West has accepted an Iranian expansion of nuclear capabilities to 6000 centrifuges. Just rhetoric? I really doubt the West would allow that to happen.

  126. 128 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 16:21


    The president of any country should be shocked and embarrassed by poverty in their country regardless of the colour of skin. Just being white doesn’t grant you all the wealth you’ll ever need. Yes in some countrys like SA there is a bias towards money being in the hands of white people, but that doesn’t mean all white people are equally advantaged.

    The response and action towards a community needs to be in proportion to the need of the community relative to others.

  127. 129 Count Iblis
    July 26, 2008 at 16:25

    ZK, I don’t think it is up to the West to allow it or not. Of course, the West may not like it and slap Iran with more sanctions, but it would be good thing for the West to realize that they don’t rule Iran and can’t impose a solution that violates Iran’s sovereignity.

    It is high time that the West focusses on solutions that Iran can agree with about guaranteeing that the Iranian program is not used to make nuclear weapons, instead of trying to rule out the hypothetical possibility that Iran will withdraw from the NPT make nuclear weapons using the facilities they have and then attack Israel.

  128. 130 Count Iblis
    July 26, 2008 at 16:26

    About obesity, I agree with Pangolin that food isn’t the only factor. I have my own ideas about this, that I can’t explain in just a few lines 🙂

    Thought experiment: Consider a person who eats 2200 Kcal per day and has a constant weight on the long term. Let’s put this person on a diet. All his activities are kept equal, but he’ll eat one sandwich per day containing 100 Kcal less.

    Question: Will the person eventually starve to death? Sounds like a stupid question, but if the person burns 2200 Kcal per day and eats 2100 kcal per day, then he should lose about 1 Kg of weight in 80 days or so, that’s 40 kg weight loss in ten years.

    So, what is wrong with this calculation? What we ignore here is that the human body is a self regulating machine. There are feedback mechanisms that regulate the metabolic rate.

    If the animals our ancestors were hunting became less abundant, they would have had to work harder to get their food. The quantity of food would become a bit less. We wouldn’t be here if such a small perturbation in their food intake would lead to starvation on the long run.

    The reverse is also true. If you eat 100 Kcal more everyday you won’t gain weight day after day, becoming 40 kg heavier after ten years. Just think about our ancestors eating just a small amount of food more every day and then becoming so obese after a decade that they could hardly move.

    Now, if today we do become obese if we eat a bit too much, then something is going wrong with this feedback mechanism. I’ve read that sleep is an important factor. It is not known exactly why, it has been suggested that people who sleep for longer tend to exercise more and at higher intensity than people who get less sleep.

    But I think that there is more to sleep than just an effect on exercise. In the example I gave above, you would expect that energy expenditure at daytime would become higher when our ancestors were faced with more difficulties finding animals they were hunting.

    Perhaps the body uses sleeping time as a buffer to fine tune the total energy expenditure per day. When we sleep, the body has more freedom to change the metabolic rate than when we are awake.

    Presumably, there exist maximum and minimum levels of the metabolic rate during sleep. So, the “calculation” about how much fat reserves we need will change if we sleep more or less.

  129. July 26, 2008 at 16:42

    Right, am off to bed early today (it’s quarter to midnight). See everyone in the morning… I’m sure Kathi and the other mods will do a fine job overnight.

  130. July 26, 2008 at 16:48

    Nelsoni, I live in South Africa, and am white, or, actually, sort of creamy-pinkish. Jacob Zuma’s shock at discovering that there are poverty-stricken pinkish people in south Africa is not a joke at all. It’s as real as any other poverty syndrome affecting other races in South Africa and in the world generally.

    What is this lingering antipathy against whites in South Africa? It is certainly not a sentiment that is shared by South African blacks, generally speaking.

    Understand this once for all: if all the whites were to depart from South Africa, the country would fall into utter ruin within no time at all. Look northwards to Zimbabwe or any other African country of your choosing and try to see the real picture.

  131. 133 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 16:50

    @ Count Iblis:

    Of course, when it comes to weight (gain/loss), nothing is as easy as simple math, and 1+1 does not always equal 2. One big factor is also genetics, just like your shoe size, your general body weight is also influenced by your genes. Personally I believe that every person has his/her own ideal body weight, and that may not be BMI 20. The problem is that if due to your genes you already gain weight more easily than others AND you eat bad stuff AND drink lots of soda/beer AND don’t do much exercise, it’s only a matter of time until you get stuck in that doorway. Even if you exercise but don’t cut down on the chips and the beer you will still have a hard time to lose weight.

  132. 134 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 16:56

    @ZK: the story about Chinese discrimination has been reported in several media outlets.

    There is not a scrap of evidence to support your suggestion that it is anything to do with a ‘Christian’ source.

    And even if the group reporting the story, or more likely carrying a news agency’s report, were Christian, what of it?

    It’s not as if there is anything out of character for the Chinese regime in the report.

    This reflexive defensiveness from some when it comes to criticism of China is unfortunate, especially when it’s preferred to an examination of the facts.

  133. July 26, 2008 at 16:58

    Please don’t put me in with the group of those who defend China to the death. I’m not pro-China and am unlikely to ever be (a quick look at my blog would make that very obvious with the first post there). But until I see a credible source picks this thing about “not serving ‘blacks'” up, I’m not buying it from a source that may have bias. It’s not about discrimination by the Chinese authorities — that’s already been proven (people with “mental illnesses” and “contagious conditions” are banned from China during the Games, according to the BOGOC rules).

  134. 136 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 17:06

    @Robert: racial profiling is only difficult to admit in the West. Other countries do it without apology.

    The West has a ‘different’ moral sense to the rest of the world and, especially in the Anglophone countries, holds itself to a very ‘different’ standard of conduct.

    The West has officially set its face against all sorts of racism and discrimination. Which is not to say that it never happens, just that it is an issue and is more likely to be challenged in the West than any other part of the globe.

    Unfortunately this commitment to non-discrimination is often implemented unintelligently and mechanically. There are sometimes good reasons to make an exception to the rule of non-discrimination. If the US, for example, were serious about its security it would ban members of at least five minority groups – one of whom would be Chinese-Americans – from access to all top-level military secrets. This may already happen, unofficially, but I doubt it. Racial/religious profiling is seen as fundamentally wrong, even when necessary and justifiable.

  135. 137 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 17:16

    @ZK: as I said, this has been reported in several media outlets and you have not submitted evidence to show that this Christian organisation is the source of the story rather than simply carrying the report (with however much glee).

    There is no incompatibility between disliking the Chinese government – and there are many solid reasons for that, including aspects of its handling of religious freedom – and truthfully reporting stories that are hostile to that government.

    There is something Mugabe-esque, in a small way, in dismissing criticism of a government because the critic is also in opposition to that government.

    Good to know that you are not a defender of or apologist for the Beijing dictatorship in general.

  136. 138 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 17:29

    @the Count: you seem to think that the Iranian regime is reliable and responsible.

    It’s not just about Israel, though preventing an Iranian-instigated nuclear exchange between those countries is in itself justification for firm action. T

    he Iranian regime is sufficiently irresponsible and intoxicated by Koranic fanaticism to supply, if it werre able to, the likes of al Quaeda with portable or dirty nuclear devices. Those devices will be detonated in any of the states of the West. That is what people are determined should never be allowed to happen and why the West is taking such a firm line with Iran.

  137. 139 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 17:36


    I follow your argument and agree with it until the very last and specific example.

    I truly hope that the US is not given out sensitive information based on statistical data about race. It should only be given out based on individual backgrounds and need to know basis. In this situation the use of any racial information is irrelevant. To give the counter example, would you hand over the plans to a nuke any old white person who happens to knock out the White House door?

    Racial profiling, like other profiling, should be used in situations where there is just too much going on to asses individuals (like insurance, city wide crime stats etc.) . And it does need to be carefully thought out to make sure your applying the correct filters to the stats.

  138. July 26, 2008 at 17:40

    Blimey, who cares a hoot about who the Chinese intend to bar from their bars?

    Or about what the Christians may or may not be reporting about that?

    Let’s see the Christians stand up and make themselves heard on the issue of the six million oppressed Tibetans rather than on this anodyne matter.

  139. 141 Shirley
    July 26, 2008 at 17:42

    Blogging Tech:
    Will remarked in the post length thread, In a OP the author has the option of HTML !–more– (That leaves the post open and you can click to read more etc.)

    What is an OP? Can laypeople do that to their posts?

    Cyprus Divided
    Bob, you said, The major stumbling block is that there is, in effect total segregation with properties on both sides of the divide given to refugees, some of whom have now lived in there “stolen” homes for generations.

    Do you mean that the segregation is related to the giving of properties to refugees? And can you explain or give examples of stolen homes? Is it similar to what has been happening in other occupied regions of the world?

    Food & Health
    Julie, Though I wrote what I did, I didn’t assume that fructose not being sugar cane was lost on you. I’m sorry if I offended you.

  140. 142 Bob in Queensland
    July 26, 2008 at 17:44

    Speaking of Iraq, following a previous discussion about media bias I decided to see for myself and managed to find a segment of the Hannity and Colme show from Fox News.

    On the segment I found, a guest was being interviewed and stated that it would be a good thing if President Bush invaded Iran during the election campaign. It was said that this would be a good thing for two reasons: first it would “smack down” Iran and second, the anticipated patriotic fervour would ensure that McCain wins the election.

    I was amazed that something like this could be said seriously…I wondered if I’d mistakenly found “The Daily Show” or something. However, it WAS Fox and I sure would listen to anyone talking about how unbiased they are compared to the BBC!

  141. 143 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 17:50

    @Robert: racial profiling is unpleasant to admit to – at least for those with a moral sense – because it seems to label an entire group.

    But one of the conditions of its use is, as you mentioned, when it is impossible to target individuals. Three other conditions: the likely impact of not profiling or imposing a racial/ethnic/cultural bar; who has been responsible in the past for stealing material of critical importance to – in this instance – national security (Chinese-Americans, Jewish-Americans) and transmitting it to a foreign power; and who might also in future engage in this kind of activity (and prevention is always better than cure in an area like this). The Chinese government, I’m sure, would never allow an American contractor or consultant anywhere near data concerning national secuirty. And it would be right. The West allows itself to be constrained by considerations of ‘fairness’, ‘equality’ and ‘non-discrimination’ in this area, when these are either completely irrelevant or of secondary importance at best.

    A country is either serious about it’s national security – as China is – or it isn’t, as tends to be the case in the West.

  142. 144 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 17:54

    @Bob: didn’t we have a WHYS show on diversity in which all the out-of-studio guests took the same line (a great, wonderful, life-enhancing thing) and one of them was mad enough to declare that those countries that did not officially support diversity (I think Serbia was instanced) should be compelled to (presumably by military force)?

    That was one of the most hopelessly and scandalously one-sided WHYSs I’ve ever heard.

  143. 145 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 18:00


    You didn’t offend me in the slightest, but just to make it clear to our reading audience I thought I would clarify it. I did go back and reread my comment and decided that it could be interpreted that way. There was some presumption of knowledge on my part about how I feel about the two.

    After reading this report from the CDC this week concerning America and weight:


    And this lovely powerpoint like presentation contained in the report spanning 23 years of weight gain here, I thought now might be a good time to talk about it.


    (Refresh the page if you need to.)

  144. 146 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 18:15


    First, those of us with a need to access national security information is a very limited pool of people. As such there is the ability of screening individuals and checking whether they are a likely weak point for information. Therefore the case by case example should be used.

    Second for my information can I ask what you are basing your definition of Chinese-American as? (or any other XXX-American) . My interpretation would be somebody who’s family have been in America for a few generations and has no links to China today except for a now dead great granddad or something. In this case if they have a clean record and a proven track record of trust and service to the US interests why then should they not be entrusted with the information if they can add value to the defense of the US? Agreed somebody who makes regular visits to China (once a year say) may not be a good candidate to handle sensitive military information. This is what the case by case interviews/reviews would reveal.

    Again, I’m don’t have a problem with racial profile if applied in the correct circumstances for the correct reasons, I just don’t think the specific one you’ve mentioned is one of those (given my interpretation of Chinese American)

  145. 147 Will Rhodes
    July 26, 2008 at 18:34

    Shirley –

    What is an OP? Can laypeople do that to their posts?

    “OP” means Opening Post (The post we all reply to) – No, people cannot use the !–more– function on long posts.

  146. 148 Will Rhodes
    July 26, 2008 at 18:41

    Bob –

    Amazing isn’t it? Bush, and this is probably an incorrectly worded quote, said that if there was a terror attack on the USA during this campaign that would be good for McCain, too.

    I was reading around on the interwebs about the lack of photography that showed the US troops in combat in Iraq. Not that we are wanting to see the fallen troops, but all we have to do is go back to Vietnam and we will see the photographs from that conflict.

    Does it surprise anyone that we do not see these types of photographs from this conflict other than the very memorable laying of the US flag on coffins of the fallen?

    Why do the current administration not show those photographs of embedded photographers?

  147. 149 Shirley
    July 26, 2008 at 18:52

    Food & Health
    You have a very good point about the size of plates. Here in the States, we have some serious misconceptions about serving sizes and portions. Someone could pick up a litre of pop and a $1 package of chips and consider it as an after-lunch snack, not realising that he had just consumed the equivalent of lunch.

    Iran Nukes
    My impression of the developments in Iran is that Iran keeps delivering rhetoric that it feels is necessary to make it look big and bushy so that other nations would refrain from attacking it. The question is whether such tactics will work in the end.

  148. 150 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 18:59

    @Robert: a blanket ban on certain groups is something that I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with. What I would like to see, at the very minimum, is full discretion for those in decision-making positions to bar an individual from access or from posts for reasons of race, ethnicity or religion. That would mean, in the UK at least, (qualified) exemption from anti-discrimination legislation. I suspect that when it came to truly critical areas this discretion would be universally applied and operate as a blanket ban. There are some risks you can’t afford to let materialise.

    Length of residence of a family in the US or amount of contact with China would be irrelevant. That the risk exists at all, however low the probability, is the main consideration.

    It should never be a matter of having to ‘trust’ anybody. Simply fitting a racial profile should enable the discretion to come into play. It’s harsh but the consequences of not doing this can be harsher still.

  149. 151 victork13
    July 26, 2008 at 19:02

    @Will: no surprise at the lack of photos.

    Why remind people, especially in an election year, about an on-going disaster (even with the surge)?

    I see more footage, at least of British soldiers, out of Afghanistan (an intervention that can still be justified in retrospect – though not the scope creep).

  150. 152 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 19:38

    Hi Julie,

    Your second link was really scary, maybe the reason for the big increase lies in the increase of “diet”products, reasearch has already found some possible links:



    I just hope that we can get the next generation back on the lean track… I also would make daily exercise at school mandatory.

  151. 153 Dennis
    July 26, 2008 at 19:46

    @ Everyone good afternoon, from a rainy Syracuse….

    Thanks Abdi—i want to hunger and poverty to end in Africa, as QUICKLY as humanly possible…[Sorry for the capitals, but it is not upset anyone].

    Deodorant: Too Much information, should try to change the cologne and aftershave you used [guys] and ladies [perfume]…

    @ Bob in Queensland: Cyprus, is a very important story–maybe this time, peace between the 2 divided parts will come soon….

    @ Bob in Queensland: How many different news organisations have you work for during your years in the profession, including the “consulting”….

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  152. 154 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 19:54


    Scary isn’t it? I read your articles and those are things that have crossed my mind over the years. I think I have even read or heard about what was presented in those articles.

    Growing up, I remember having sweets, etc. in the house. Mom didn’t ration them either, yet, as children we didn’t grow fat, although I suspect we were more active. “Diet” food came out while I was a young adult, which coincides with the CDC studies. It could be a coincidence. One casual observation I have made about people who consume “diet” food on a regular basis, is that they are over weight. I will not allow that “food” into my house. I read labels, encourage moderation, and encourage people to at least take a long walk a couple of times a week.

    I agree, let’s put physical education back in school. I like where I live they have provided the neighborhood children with two playgrounds. They use them all of the time.

  153. 155 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 20:04

    @ Julie

    What’s even more scary, is that a lot of these artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer, so Luz Ma’s pregnant friend who drinks a lot of diet coke every day harms her baby in two ways: the sweeteners can cause serious harm in ways that are beyond our imagination and high caffeine consumption has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It makes me sad just to think about this.

  154. 156 Julie P
    July 26, 2008 at 20:07


    Definitely a real problem.

  155. July 26, 2008 at 20:40

    @ oil prices,

    The big problem of finding equilibrium in oil prices is competing interest. That is why I and my friend were so back and forth on what that price might be. You have suppliers whose economies actually benefit by having high oil prices. As long as they sell high to fewer people along the pricing curve they are actually making out in both the short and long run. The suppliers that fit this description are often found in arid regions and they use camels to get around to their day to day activities. It turns out that camels do not burn much oil. They are generally traditional folks who think women are second class citizens, actually believe that heaven is a better place then earth and are willing to hurry things along to get there, and are not so enthusiastic about getting trapped in car payments.

    The second type of supplier is the type that consumes more oil from the global kiddy then they supply. They have an economy in which high oil prices are a detriment. Their perspective on oil is more of a raw material for doing business then it is a money making product. These economies can often be found in “the west” and a lot of getting around is done by automobile. You can tell by the large plumes of smoke over their cities, their arrogant “we are more advanced then you” attitude, and worship money over all other gods. They fear going to heaven over all other fears.

    These two types of economies perspectives on oil price are in direct competition with their interest. So if a type two society increase supply to try to drive the price down, it is in the best interest of a type one economy to reduce supply and drive the price back up. Hence the reason for not being able to put a target on what it is going to settle down at.

    Then you add NAFTA which is turning type ones into type twos and the plot thickens.

  156. 158 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 20:51

    Hi all,

    I’m having some problems with my internet connection, so if you don’t hear from me for a while you’ll know that I’m frantically trying to get this cheap piece of (murmur murmer into my beard) connected again. I’ll be thankful for other moderators to step in.

  157. 159 Bryan
    July 26, 2008 at 21:09

    Bob in Queensland July 26, 2008 at 5:44 pm,

    Do tell us more. How did Colmes, Hannity’s other half, respond to that statement? From the little I’ve seen of the show, I know that Hannity can be very pushy but I assume that Colmes got a bit of a crack at it. If the limit of your investigation was a half-minute exposure to the show, that’s hardly enough to form an opinion. You claim that I base my conclusion that the BBC is biased in favour of Labour on one audio clip (untrue, anyway) and yet you do the absolute minimum of investigation into Fox?

    So again, does the BBC allow its political journalists the space and opportunity to voice an opinion contrary to the perceived wisdom of the left-oriented groupthink?
    (This is providing, of course, that one could find any BBC political journalists so inclined.) If the answer is “no”, and I have no doubt that it is, then at least in this respect Britain’s public broadcaster is more partisan and tunnel-visioned than the privately-owned Fox.

    I’m not sure why the unfavourable comparison of the BBC with Fox in terms of bias should be an occasion for such mirth. Across its coverage, the BBC has got to the point where it is hardly bothering to hide its bias.

  158. 160 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 21:23


    Interesting analysis of the oil situtation. Um, couple of little tweaks though: What you call “type 2 suppliers” are more properly known as “consumers.” The significance of “heaven” isn’t explained or self-evident. And since NAFTA is a treaty among US, Canada, and Mexico, and camels are not native to any of the three, it’s not likely to be “turning type onesinto type twos.”

  159. 161 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 26, 2008 at 21:36


    What part of “rigorous individual screening and monitoring” is not compelling to you?

    National security is a great example of the failure of racial profiling: I’d direct your attention to the notorious four cold War spies in England, Blunt and Kim Philby and the others whose names escape me just now. The poobahs in UK establishment were lulled into complacency because the “good old boy” mentality would not permit the notion of “our sort of chaps” being spies. They’d gone to the right schools, had white skin and all. But of course they were spies.

    I know you find it attractive to be reflexively and conspicuously politically incorrect, but as silly as PC might be, it’s not ALWAYS wrong.

  160. 162 Dennis
    July 26, 2008 at 22:03

    @ MODERATOR Katharine in Ghent……

    i hope your internet works better…..

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  161. 163 Katharina in Ghent
    July 26, 2008 at 22:32

    Hi back,

    My internet is up again (thanks, Dennis!), but now it’s for me also time to hit the mattress. I’ll catch up with you all in the morning.

  162. 164 Dennis
    July 26, 2008 at 22:58

    Good Night, Katharina in Ghent….

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  163. 165 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 22:58


    I laughed when I read your camel reference about the Arabs. If there is one people on the planet who could show the states how to be even less efficient in energy usage it would be the middle eastern oil states.

    When petrol costs them 50 cents a liter who could blame them?

  164. 166 Dennis
    July 26, 2008 at 23:01

    that is funny the zuma of south africa is surprised that WHITE people [and not being racist]….that poverty still exists….

    there is poverty, in all parts of the world, even in where i am currently living
    right now….

    syracuse, new york
    united states

  165. 167 Robert
    July 26, 2008 at 23:12


    On a more serious note, the economics of oil for Saudi and Kuwait is not as simple of you’ve made out. If the price goes too high it’s bad for them as it offers more competition. They can pump oil out the ground cheaper than anybody else and in much higher volumes. At low oil prices marginal producers don’t have the profitable to produce all the reserves. Higher oil prices don’t add any further reserves to Saudi or Kuwait, but add huge producible reserves to countries like Venezuela. The level of producible reserves determines the level of power within the OPEC cartel. Higher oil prices therefore reduce the influence of middle east. The extra income is pretty useless to these people (seriously, many people would not notice the difference between $1billion or $2billion, would you?). But the reduction in influence would hurt them.

  166. 168 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 27, 2008 at 00:04

    I told my friend many times that she should cut down her Diet Coke consumption, but I think she is more concerned about not gaining much weight during pregnancy than the health of her baby. I have know her since high school and she has body image problems. I cannot do anything about it, she is not listening.

    I´ll look into the “oil” conversation… and will comment later. I just returned home and there are many comments about it 😉

  167. 169 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 01:07

    Oil & Economy
    Diwght, can you explain why you think that NAFTA is turning type ones into type twos?

    Also, are you sure that camels don’t cost as much as cars? They are cheaper to fuel. I will grant that much. As for the guys running around in robes and turbans, I think that their money funds the fanatics, rather than they being fanatics themselves. There has been an argument of late about where the real terrorists come from. It seems that a lot of Arabs and Pakistanis do their militant training away from home, and that their training cams are funded by wealthy donors who would rather sit around than act on their extremist beliefs. If we were to plug up the oney trail, would terrorist be forced to a grinding halt? Is the armchair warrior more dangerous than the gunslinger?

    aside to Count Iblis: I think that the site that you linked requires a paid subscription. Thank you, though – I’ll keep trying to find ways into it.

    Robert: In what ways are Middle Easterners extravegant oil wasters? I don’t doubt you; I just wanted to hear examples.

  168. July 27, 2008 at 03:13

    Morning everyone, I trust everything was fine in the capable hands of my cohost and fellow mods.

    Will: I’m not sure, but maybe you were thinking of Charlie Black instead of President Bush?

  169. 171 Pangolin- California
    July 27, 2008 at 03:45

    @ Oil- The fact that production doesn’t always lead to exports is explained in the Export Land Model the theory that:

    “As world oil exports approach (or pass) a global peak, the price of exported oil increases and further stimulates domestic economic growth and oil consumption in Export-Land countries, creating a positive feedback process between declining exports and higher prices…..”

    Meaning that Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, Indonesia and Mexico could possibly produce more oil but that does squat for us in oil importing nations. Never mind that oil importing economies may not be able to smoothly transition to more expensive fuel.

    @ Shirley- You left out that checkbook terrorism can make your checkbook larger if you make the right bets before the pipeline gets bombed. In an international market with oil futures available there is a value in “beggar thy neighbor” terrorism.

  170. July 27, 2008 at 04:39

    Jonathan, & Shirley too.

    In interest of not having really long posts I used some allegories and a wee bit sarcasm to demonstrate a point that would take a book. By NAFTA, and other globalization policies, allowing manufacturing to enter into communities that had otherwise remained agricultural economies we have created more competition for our resource. Here, consider that Chinese have move into the cites at an alarming rate. 52 million were urban dwellers in 1952 and now 540 million. This economic growth has been spurred by the fact that everything the US consumer buys from the shelf of the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, has a “made in China” label. Mexico has seen a growth in exports that has increase five fold since 1991. All of those people that are now working in factories are not growing their own food. The people, the factories, and the entire economies have become more dependant on petroleum. I didn’t want to include this explanation in the previous post because of length.

    Really there is the third “type” which has little direct concern of what oil prices are. These people tend to have lager family structures, trade their women for dogs teeth, and live and die by drastic weather condition changes.

    That is how “free trade” has turned economies that have either no interest in the price of oil or an interest in higher oil prices into ones that do have an interest in cheaper prices. They supply the US with cheap labor and goods, but they also become competition on the global oil bidding market. That is why I called NAFTA “plot thickener”.

  171. 173 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 04:41

    @ Shirley

    Re: Cyprus

    Sorry for the delayed reply but I must have just gone to bed before noticing your question. In Cyprus, following the Turkish invasion, pretty well all the Greek Cypriots headed to the south of the island for protection and any Turks in the south went north. Beyond that, mainland Turks were resettled in the north.

    The houses and property left behind in the north by the Greeks were given to to Turkish families and that’s what I meant by refugees. It’s people specifically involved in the dispute rather than simply refugees from the world over (though you DO find a lot of Lebanese in Cyprus due to the ferry connections.

  172. 174 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 04:54

    @ Bryan

    Re: Colmes and Hannity. One of the hosts (I only saw a short clip and couldn’t say which was which) had a good laugh and said something along the lines of “you couyld be right”; the other remained silent.

    As for the BBC, no their journalists are not allowed to do “op-ed” pieces and express their own views. (Nor are they allowed to appear in adverts or other programmes where their presence could be perceived as endorsing a cause or product). There are strict rules against blurring the lines between news and opinion.

    Edited to add: No, I’m not basing my opinion of Fox news on this one clip. Being a news junky I’ve seen hundreds of hours of their output and find their actual news more insidious than the op-ed stuff because the news is presented as fact. However, on your advice I went looking for Hannity Colmes and considered the clip I found ironic in the extreme.

    However, you’ve missed my main point. It’s a said indictment of the American system that the idea of starting a war to gain a domestica political advantage is being discussed even half way seriously. That’s the stuff of satirical films–or at least should be. It’s also an indictment of the quality of Fox News. I’ll remind you of this segment next time anyone crticises, say, Al Jazeera, for airing some Islamic hot head calling for an attack on the US.

  173. July 27, 2008 at 05:11

    A little economics story problem related to why we were struggling to agree on the equilibrium price. The one that started conversation with my friend actually. Let us say that oil has an equilibrium price of $125 a barrel. That is the price of any buyer, weather it be consumers of future traders or camel jockeys looking for that extra boost they are “willing and able” to pay it. Many of the interested powers decide that is very high for the US economy to function well. So they, using their basic economic theory, decide to increase supply by some means. “increasing supply will decrease demand and the price will lower.” They go and increase 50 million bpd and the price lowers to $100 p/b. The Saudis had been producing a billion barrels a day. They were used to making 125 billion dollars a day. They have seen a 20% drop in their income, notable even by their standards, and are now making 100 billion a day. So their bean counters in Saudi Arabia get together and figure out what they should do. What do you think the best course of action is?

    The answer is this. Their bean counters who if nothing else, understand the oil markets. “If we reduce our supply from 1 billion down to 950 million bpd, we know the price will rise back to at least $125 p/b. Our daily paycheck will be $118,750 billion per day, which is way better then $100 billion. Oh Yah, as an added bonus, we are helping to drive those Yankee bustards out of their resource. And when theirs is all gone, we can really stick it to them. Praise be to Allah.”

    These are round numbers for grasping, but the reality is the same. I will leave it to the reader to figure out how much drilling, even if it happened tomorrow, would yield, and how much the Saudis actually produce.

  174. July 27, 2008 at 05:26

    @prices too high

    We have seen a 2.5 times increase of prices at the gas pump. it is more like a 5 time increase if you account for the devaluation of the American dollar. It really hasn’t shifted anybody into throwing more oil into the mix. I agree there is so much more to the economics of this anomaly called petroleum. Any producer that can produce right now is. that is why you have the US president offering Saudi Arabia a 20 billion dollar arms deal. If he could go to a European ally or even Russia to get more production he surely would. There just isn’t anymore to be had. Defiantly not in the immediate future. Add to that the fact that China is on track to have more autos on the road then the US by 2010. Their prosperity and demand are growing.

  175. 177 Roberto
    July 27, 2008 at 05:39

    It’s also an indictment of the quality of Fox News. I’ll remind you of this segment next time anyone crticises, say, Al Jazeera, for airing some Islamic hot head calling for an attack on the US.

    ——– There is no difference between Al Jez and Fox save a flip of the same cheap coin that buys their stories.

    Heads or tails, flip to choose the cheap shots news.

    This is what you get when news is entertainment for political factions, a food fight over millions of violent deaths annually.

    Cheers now……..

  176. 178 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 05:58

    @ Roberto

    Couldn’t agree more!

  177. 179 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 06:01

    @ Dwight

    it is more like a 5 time increase if you account for the devaluation of the American dollar.

    Or, looked at the other way around, a big part of the reason for the price increase if the collapse of the US dollar. Since oil is priced in dollars, producing countries have to charge more just to get the same return when those dollars are converted to local currency.

  178. 180 Pangolin- California
    July 27, 2008 at 06:19

    @ Bob- Why did the US dollar collapse do you think? It couldn’t have had anything to do with the fact that instead of investing in say, education, energy efficiency, production of high quality products and services we decided instead to borrow six percent of our GDP every year to buy big trucks and bigger houses?

    The Chinese can afford to bid up the price of oil because that’s one of the few things that can be directly purchased with dollars; and they’ve got a LOT of dollars. If the Saudi’s ever switch to selling oil for euros the US is sunk.

  179. 181 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 06:50

    @ Pangolin

    Yup, the collapse of the mortgage market in the US has a lot to do with the present weak dollar but don’t forget the link between your two paragraphs.

    The reason China has so many US dollars to spend is that, for far too many years, America has been running with a massive trade and budget deficit. China has been quick to bankroll these deficits and holds many hundreds of billions in US Treasury bonds.

    So it’s not just Americans who have been borrowing too much–it’s America itself.

    What price low taxes, eh?

  180. 182 Pangolin- California
    July 27, 2008 at 07:23

    @ What price low taxes, eh?

    Well, here in California the price is rotting schools, crowded prisons because the rotting schools failed, a university system dependent upon student debt (genius) and vanity degree seekers, a failing health care system, crumbling roads, state parks that require fees to enter, corrupt politics and bad teeth.

    California decided some time ago that taxes on investment property could only rise very slowly even if values rose quickly. Then they taxed labor instead of wealth and finance everything with bond issuances. Guess how that worked out.

    Note to the rest of the world; debt financing of everything is simple idiocy. Guess how the US finances everything?

  181. July 27, 2008 at 07:47

    @ the collapse of the dollar

    Another concept that could fill a book not a blog. To me it seem obviouse. Let us say that the dollar is worth X. At X the government is humming along paying for all of its obligations and a few pet projects. Heck it is even got an extra surplus of wealth lying around. There are a couple of things they could do with that. They could buy back some treasury bonds and actually raise the value of the dollar. But most politicians like to show the bling. So they keep it and say, “Look we have a surplus”.

    Then one day the president and his merry band of thieves decides that there are some tents housing camels in the Middle East they don’t find aesthetically pleasing. Sending in the team from “House Swap” isn’t an option. So they decide to drop bombs on them. Easy enough to get American support. Just drop key marketing terms like “terrorist”, “evil dictator”, “nuclear bombs”, “freedom”, “democracy”, and of course “American”. So they got support, but now they have another problem. They squandered all that “surplus” betting on camels, “home ownership society” programs, and “no child’s behind left” programs. So how are they going to pay the guys to make, deliver, and then drop the bomb on those dang tent? One of them said, “I Know!! Why don’t we print more money!!” They all slap that guy on the back, leave early and buy him a drink at the bar.

    However, the problem is that X value represented a percentage of the US overall wealth. If you add more pieces of paper to the system with out adding real wealth, the result is X is reduced. If 100% of the wealth is represented by 100 pieces of paper, then you add 10% more piece of paper (in this example 10), then the value of the dollar goes from 1 to .91. next thing that you know you can’t afford to feed you family, your boss found out it was cheaper to move to the country he usually buys parts from, and junior is looking at a life of being a janitor at the local community college until he gets though the free tuition program. But hey, “they are over there saving American lives.”

    Then you add “credit” to the mix and the plot thickens. American public you are not with out fault either.

  182. 184 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 07:50

    One of the (many) reasons I chose to move to Australia was their habit of budgeting for surplus each year, much of which is put into a “future fund”. This budget year, even under our new “left wing” government, the surplus will be about Aus$21.7 billion.

    If the numbers sound low compared to the US budget in the trillions, don’t forget that Australia’s population is only about 21 million…so that’s a thousand dollars for every man, woman and child.

  183. July 27, 2008 at 07:55

    Democrats have not seemed to grasp the above describe method for paying for EBPs (Extra Budgetary Projects). Those idiots want to pay for them by raising taxes. Don’t they know if they raise taxes the American people will be able to tell when they look at their paychecks?

    I often hear, “Democrats like to take MY hard earned money and give it to lazy people. Republicans don’t take my money. Of course it takes twice as much of my money to pay for a meal when Republicans are in office, but at least I am the one spending it.”

  184. 186 Pangolin- California
    July 27, 2008 at 08:37

    @ Raising taxes- Raising taxes is good as long as you raise them on the right things. You raise taxes on things you want to discourage and lower taxes or subsidize things you want to encourage.

    Right now it would be a good thing to raise taxes on the wealthy and fund, say, solar photovoltaic panel installation. Those panels will then produce power for twenty or thirty years at the cost of one less empty house per multi-millionaire. Since the US has a surplus of multi-millionaires, empty houses and homeless people trading some of that for long-term power production and jobs is a good trade.

    Raising taxes to bounce rocks with high explosives in Afghanistan might be a bad trade.

  185. 187 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 08:45

    Good morning everyone,

    I’m up and running (or rather, slouching) again.

    I’ve been reading up on the conversation about the price of oil and the crumbling American budget, and one point that has been mentioned a little bet but by far not as much as I think it should is the cost of the Iraq war. I’ve found an article from 2006 (I guess, after that the government decided not to publish this kind of news anymore) which says that the cost could be one trillion per year, or 200 million per day…


    This is a lot of money, and it’s just simply lost, you might as well just make one BIG bonfire and dance around it, at least it would be more fun. The military doesn’t produce one single thing, doesn’t grow potatoes, it’s only useful to give some kids without education a “decent” job until it’s time to ship the kid off to get killed.

    I’m sure even in a big country like the US one trillion dollars per year could do a lot more productive things than produce bullets and coffins.

  186. 188 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 08:49

    @ Raising taxes

    What I always find quite laughable (in a sarcastic sort of way) is that California, with all the Hollywood and Silicon valley industries and more rich people than anywhere else is actually having financial troubles because the government doesn’t dare to tax them like they should. They are afraid that the rich might move somewhere else, but where would they go? The deserts of New Mexico? Rather unlikely, and if so, then NM can raise taxes, too, and put the money into schools and housing.

  187. 189 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 09:39

    Regarding taxes, may I submit my proposal for “Bobbsynomics” when it comes to calculating taxes. It’s really simple.

    1. Anybody with an income is taxed.

    2. All adults get a “basic personal deduction” which is calculated as the actual cost of living in their community. We can debate this calculation, but it should allow for basic housing (rental or mortgage), food, transport, clothing and (if not covered by medicare) medical insurance. Parents with children get additional deductions per child,, up to two of them, There is no extra deduction for children in excess of two.

    Beyond this personal deduction, there are no others.

    3. To calculate the tax to be levied, the government calculates what flat rate percentage must be charged to tax payers to “balance the books”. All tax payers pay the same rate on any income above the personal deduction.

    My theory is that having a realistic deduction would lift many people at the low end of the scale out of paying tax. Simplying the calculation by eliminating all but the flat rate deductions should eliminate all sorts of scope for cheating–and having a flat rate of tax for all doesn’t penalise high flyers.


  188. 190 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 09:40

    Bob in Queensland July 27, 2008 at 4:54 am

    “I’ll remind you of this segment next time anyone crticises, say, Al Jazeera, for airing some Islamic hot head calling for an attack on the US.”

    I’ve no doubt that you will, Bob. What worries me is that you will do it in a way that excuses the “Islamic hot head” while focusing your scorn on the American.

    I’m well aware of the difference between opinion and news and that the BBC is obliged to concentrate on the latter. But BBC journalists have many ways of allowing their biased opinions to be expressed through the news, the main one being the highlighting of some issues and the downplaying or ignoring of others.

    The Caroline Spelman case is a prime example. The ten-year old non-issue of Spelman and her nanny was plastered all over the BBC for weeks, simply because she is a Tory and the BBC figured this was a good way to distract attention from Labour’s extraordinary decline. It was on the World Service, The Editors blog, Newsnight, and if I’d accessed BBC TV News I’ve no doubt I would have seen it there as well. It was as if Spelman’s crossing of the line by paying her nanny for secretarial work out of government funds was an issue of vital national importance while far more serious, recent and ongoing allegations of fraud against the Labour camp were ignored. This was the BBC acting as a propagandist for Labour and not even trying to hide it.

    Another is the BBC following Barack Obama around as if he is the best thing since sliced bread. These are just two examples of the BBC’s biased political slant. The BBC no longer has the excuse of an exciting primary contest for concentrating almost exclusively on the Democrats. Its reporting should now be roughly divided between McCain and Obama. Try an experiment: see how much time the BBC devotes to each candidate till the elections. My guess is that it will be 90% Obama and 10% McCain, if not more skewed. Also have a look at the type of coverage – the praise of the one against the criticism of the other.

    The impartial BBC. Right!

  189. 191 Zainab
    July 27, 2008 at 10:14

    Hello, How are you all?
    Another busy week in Iraq. Next Tuesday will be approximately the 1209 anniversary of the Martyrdom of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim (a.s.) who died in 799 B.C.
    Millions of Iraqis from all over Iraq, made their way (walking) to revive the ritual of Ziaraht (visit ) of Imam Al Kadhim’s (a.s) shrine in city of al-Kadhimiya, in Baghdad. So in this occasion, please accept my deepest condolences for all the free people of the world. And my special condolences to all Muslims.
    Worthy to mention here that Hundreds pilgrims dead in Iraq during the same Ziarath (visit) in 2005, on Al A’ama Bridge.
    Yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  190. 192 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 10:24

    @ Bryan

    So the BBC is biased because of coverage they may do in the future? I’m biased because of the way I may phrase something in the future? Just for reference, I unreservedly condemn anybody advocating violence or terrorism as a means of settling a dispute–or winning an election.

    A look at the “US Election” section of the BBC news site looks like they’ve gone out of their way to give virtually identical coverage to both sides.

    Ironically, the lead story on the McCain side is about how AMERICAN media coverage seems to be concentrating on Obama but how this isn’t reflected in the attitudes of “middle Americans”.

  191. 193 Zainab
    July 27, 2008 at 10:28

    Hello again
    For those who don’t know Imam Musa (Moses )al-Kadhim (a.s), I would like to give a brief information:
    Musa al-Kadhim was the seventh of the Twelve Shiite Imams, from the lineage of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). He was born during the power struggles between the Umayyad and the Abbasid dynasties. Imam Musa al-Kadhim was a man with a mission, who dedicated his whole life to his principles, and submitted his whole soul to Allah, the Glorified. As a result, he became a man guiding with his words and actions, and a preacher who showed the right path with both his silence and speech. By all means, Al-Rasheed tried to get rid of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.). The Imam, being a man of great social, religious and intellectual position, was a nightmare for al-Rasheed. Hearts of people hovered over Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.).
    In 795, Abbasid Caliph Haroon al-Rasheed out of malice and jealousy imprisoned Musa al-Kadhim. Imam Musa al-Kadhim passed his time in prison reciting supplication. He fasted during the day, and prayed and recited supplication in the night.”O Allah, You know that I had been asking You to free me from any obligation except worshipping You. Now You have done that. So, praise be to You.”
    In 799, Haroon al-Rasheed ordered to poison Imam al-Kadhim. He died in a prison in Baghdad. Even his corpse was not spared humiliation and was taken out of the prison and left on the bridge of Baghdad. His devotees however, managed to lay the Holy body of the Imam to rest in district in an area named after him: al-Kadhimiya.
    “The Imam died without doing any wrong. He was martyred in the tyrant’s prison.”
    Yours truly
    Zainab from Iraq

  192. 194 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 10:45

    @ flat percentage tax rates:

    I think that if you start low enough for the low income groups, then a progressionally increased percentage for those who earn more is reasonable. European countries are a rather bad example, because depending on the country taxes may start at 30% and go up to 60%, which makes you wonder why you go to work at all, but in Canada (at least four years ago, when I left), taxes started at 16% and ended somewhere around 30%. There we also had a basic amount which was not to be taxed at all (around 7.500$ Cdn).

    The question is though how you want to go about daycare expenses and university tuitions/student loans because they often take a big chunk out of people’s wallets, depending on where they live.

  193. 195 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 10:46

    Bob in Queensland July 27, 2008 at 10:24 am,

    No, the BBC’s reputation precedes it. Sidestepping the evidence wont make it go away.

    Have a look at how this very programme, WHYS, backed Labor and green issues on the eve of the Australian elections. The BBC is absolutely obsessed with using its considerable weight and influence to help swing elections to the left in the UK and abroad. It’s a disgrace.

    But OK, let’s see how the BBC covers the final stretch of the American race. Let’s not prejudge the BBC, though it richly deserves it.

  194. 196 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 11:12

    @Jonathan: rigorous individual screening and monitoring is fine; but traitors will still get through.There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be augmented by the discretion to disbar individuals, or an absolute ban, on the general grounds being discussed. If you disagree by all means explain why.

    The example you gave is a poor one. Profiling is usually after the fact: you know, from experience, who does the thing you’re profiling for, and you profile accordingly. Only a naif would imagine that profiling and blanket bans would end all cases of espionage. But they will certainly prevent some (again, experience).

    The English example you give is not a particularly good one. In the case of the Cambridge spy ring (the other names are Burgess and Maclean; there was also an unidentified fifth traitor), profiling would have focused on recruits who had been educated at Cambridge (especially Trinity and King’s colleges), were prone to drunkenness, were homosexual, and had been members of leftist societies like The Apostles. Even when not dealing with a minority profiling can have a role. The Cambridge spy ring did expose the weakness of governing a country on the basis of class interests & presumed loyalties, rather than professionalism.

    PC isn’t the main issue here. As I said, profiling is a subsequent response to known facts.

  195. 197 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 11:20

    Hi all,

    the sun is shining and the birds are singing, so I’ll spend a little bit of quality time with my family, but I should be back in 3-4 hours. I’ll leave you trustingly in the hands of ZK, Bob and any other moderator who may be online.

    Talk to you later,

  196. 198 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 11:40

    Re BBC bias: I’ve said before that there are certain issues on which the BBC undoubtedly has views and which are reported on accordingly.

    It is not as partisan as, say, Fox (though Fox is not as worthless a broadcaster as its critics allege), and it is on the whole unbiassed in its reportage. But there is undoubtedly a slant to certain issues. The BBC has, for example, thrown all pretence of objectivity aside when it comes to Robert Mugabe.

    Yesterday I watched a News 24 report on Afghanistan. It gave the Taliban point of view, which was fine as we don’t see that too often. The report was a fairly good one. But what are you to make of statements about how the Taliban was regarded favourably as ‘defending’ villagers from foreign (US) invaders in a village they’d taken over (how the village was attacked by the US was never specified), and then describing the range of brutal punishments the Taliban had introduced to the very same village? To simultaneously report that the Taliban were regarded by villagers as saviours and how the Taliban had introduced a reign of terror to the same village (perhaps connected to what the villagers told the BBC about them?), and not see the contradiction was a spectacular example of doublethink. It was hard not to conclude that the reporter had sufficient integrity to report the facts, but enough bias not to draw the inevitable conclusions from them (which would have condemned the Taliban, and perhaps favoured the US).

  197. July 27, 2008 at 12:07

    Not directed at any one in particular, but if you sense bias in a BBC report or in general, there’s OFCOM or the BBC complaints page to use. Far better than just making noise about it, surely?

  198. 200 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 12:13


    I think again definitions are acting as a barrier. The level of scrutiny you give to the oxbridge spy is getting down into that of a detailed individualized assessments in my mind.

    To me an individual assessment would look at a range of factors. Everybody is scored against these factors and at the end a profile generated. No one factor is enough to ban you but if you raise a sufficient number of flags across the board it prompts either further investigation or disqualification depending on the situation and the resources of the organization involved.

    What I do think as discrimination is if only one of these flags (except criminal record for certain jobs) alone will generate an automatic failure.

  199. 201 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 12:14

    @ZK: or you could just be content to discuss the issue. Nothing wrong with noise.

  200. 202 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 12:15

    Viktor, BBC bias is widespread. It even, believe or not, affects the coverage of sport.

  201. 203 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 12:18

    Meant to add that I would have presented some evidence re the last comment, but I gotta run.

  202. July 27, 2008 at 12:20

    Not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but it just seems to me that a complaint to the BBC or to OFCOM would be better and more effective. To each his own, I suppose.

    Hmm…Max Mosley just doesn’t know when to give up, does he?

  203. 205 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 12:21

    @Bryan: sport as well? Surely not! You have to say more – what do you have in mind?

  204. 206 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 12:22

    The BBC complaints website is where they do their utmost to ensure that your complaint fizzles out. I have long and grim experience thereof as do many others. The BBC own impartiality revue of a few years back was uncomplimentary about the complaints facility. Nothing has changed.

  205. July 27, 2008 at 12:22

    Okay, not to trample over this discussion, but I really don’t see how in any way this is helping suggest discussion topics for WHYS, which the blank page should try to do.

  206. 208 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 12:23

    More much later. Really gotta run.

  207. 209 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 12:24

    @ZK: I understand. But the conversation here is not ‘what to do about BBC bias’, but ‘is the BBC biassed?’.

  208. 210 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 12:33

    @ZK: which discussion don’t you want to trample?

  209. July 27, 2008 at 12:37

    @ Zeinab & all in Muslim Faith

    I wish to extend my heartful condelecenses to the families of my muslims brothers and sisters who have died in the lne of Fullfilling their obligations towards allah (S.W)

    @ ZK and Kathi

    Keep up the excelllent Job!well-done….

    @BBC’s Bias

    The BBC to me is not baised!

    @ What I wish us to discuss!

    “Would you rather die on you’r feet than to live on you’r Knees?


  210. 212 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 12:39

    Flat Rate Tax

    On paper it looks fine, but the personal deduction will become so distorted by politicians that it will loose its meaning. What would you describe as a reasonable standard of living, what’s in and what’s not. We’ve all experienced Gordon Brown redefining what goes into the calculation for UK inflation. The official rate bears no resemblance to that which we all feel in our pocket.

    What are peoples thoughts on removing direct taxation completely have having a variable tax on products to cover the impact that they have on the governments coffers. The more the government have to spend to cover the impact of the product (say health care and policing for alcohol) the more tax is levied. Basic essentials with little impact (food) get lower tax. Some of the US states take this line (TX being one). Could it be made to work on a national scale anyway?

  211. July 27, 2008 at 12:44

    Victor: I was just thinking that the discussion about bias in the BBC, while valid, did not really contribute towards the goal of the blank page, which is to hopefully come up with discussion topics for the week ahead.

  212. 214 Bob in Queensland
    July 27, 2008 at 12:45

    @ Katharina

    Re: Taxation rates, I think the better way to protect people on low incomes is to raise the threshold at which you start paying tax (by making the personal deduction a realistic number to live on) rather than have multiple tax rates (which will always be controversial).

  213. 215 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 13:05

    @ZK: some of the conversations here need to be looked at with a little imagination.

    The BBC bias discussion can have all sorts of interesting developments re media regulation, media professionalism, whether to conform to governmental reporting requirements when reporting from another country, the role and responsibility of a state-funded broadcaster, whether there is a role for a national broadcaster, whether there’s such a thing as an establishment media, is broadcast journlaism more attractive to people who are left-liberal…etc.

    You mentioned Max Mosley. It could have been objected, if the non-Nazi themed orgy he attended had been raised here several weeks ago, that this wasn’t a story that could in itself lead to a WHYS discussion. With a bit of imagination we did have a discussion about privacy and the media.

    The long piece about Imam Musa was another matter.

  214. 216 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 13:22

    OK, I’m back for a volley, accumulated on reading through a day’s worth of wit and wisdom here.

    To start with, Bob, flat tax, YES, I agree 10,000%! No, not that the rate should be that, much as pangolin might prefer it, just emphasizing how right you are. The lost tax revenue and–worse–the economic and industrial distortions produced by our complicated tax code are vast beyond measure. It’s an immense drain on our resources, it misdirects investment, it discourages production, and it’s by far the largest single cause of political corruption.

    Your idea of exemption amounts based on the localized cost of living would be regressive (a larger subsidy for residents of wealthy, high cost communities, and a smaller subsidy for those in poor areas), but that’s quite a minor matter. The flatness is fabulous.

    Here’s a WHYS proposition for a day: Are low, flat tax rates desirable even though they would increase government revenue?

  215. 217 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 13:26


    Howdy! Again I’m pleased to bring you good news:

    It doesn’t matter what currency the Saudis denominate oil prices in, because they, and we, can trade one currency for another in currency markets.

    “What price low taxes?” California is I think the third-highest taxed state in the country, so the shudder from your usual parade of horribles is mitigated by laughter.

    Since you correctly perceive, and state, that raising taxes on something discourages its production, you should deduce the problem that ensues from taxing wealth.

    Finally: Guess how every country finances everything.

  216. 218 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 13:30

    Oh, Dwight, I don’t mean to fight, but your plots darken and thicken ’til they blot out all light.

    You took 16 lines of meandering to say “China is using more oil.” Nobody ever said that “increasing supply will decrease demand.” To derive a real oil price increase figure from a nominal one, you’d REDUCE it to adjust for dollar devaluation and inflation. You doubled it.

    Your treatise on inflation (the scenario with the guys going to bars, tearing up bits of paper, etc.) is fatally flawed by its presumptions that wealth is not increasing, which it is, and that defense is the largest government expense, which it isn’t.

    Have you considered running for Congress?

  217. 219 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 13:33

    Hi Katharina,

    After you’re done laughing in a sarcastic sort of way (not that I have anything against sarcasm), you might educate yourself in a factual sort of way, whereupon you will learn the following:

    California is one of the very highest taxed of our 50 states, if not the highest,

    Defense is not the largest component of our budget, and Iraq is not the largest component of the defense budget,

    Nobody serious estimates that Iraq costs $1 trillion a year. Your linked source says $200 million/day x 365 = $73 billion/year. A trillion is 1,000 billion. You’re off by $927,000,000,000 per year.

  218. 220 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 13:42


    Actually, no, I haven’t experienced Gordon Brown’s doing of anything at all, but a flat tax eliminates the effects upon tax rates of inflation and of calculating inflation and costs-of-living, be it accurate, erroneous, dishonest, or “controversial,” by eliminating “bracket creep.” A system of multiple graduated tax rates accentuates the effects of both actual and calculated inflation.

  219. 221 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 14:17

    @Jonathan: two lines in your posts to Dwight and Katharina –
    “You took 16 lines of meandering to say…’; and “…you might educate yourself in a factual sort of way, whereupon you will learn the following…”

    Is this sort of casually insulting remark really necessary? Does it add to the conversation or even to the pleasure of the reader (let’s leave the delight of the writer out of it)? Is it likely to encourage the people you’re addressing to continue the conversation? Will it put off new contributors who will fear for their own dignity with people like you about? Did it even have the excuse – not the most mature I admit – of ‘they started it!’ ( and I don’t think it did: weren’t you, as it were, lurking behind a bush before pouncing on them both?).

    I can’t be the only person who enjoys your sardonic posts and satirical wit. I’ve even enjoyed it when your scorn has been directed at me. But please don’t let your talent for this kind of thing over-ride your judgement. Nothing in excess and no gratuitous personal insults or attacks.


  220. July 27, 2008 at 14:18

    Re: BBC bias etc.

    It’s worth discussing because it makes a huge difference to what is heard out there as opposed to what is actually taking place. In the case of the BBC, there do seem to be policy decisions regarding how certain topics are approached, and I think that the idea has largely to do with ‘selling it right.’ News is a product like any other product in the consumerist milieu, and it must be packaged for consumption.

    Take the continuous misleader about Obama being the first African American presidential candidate. It’s just not true. He has a white mother, so how can he possibly be an ‘African’ American? See Jesse Jackson’s take on this, for example.

    See all BBC reportage on social issues in South Africa, and how the apartheid donkey continues to be ridden to shreds 14 years after the demise of that dread policy.

    See the take on Serbia, on Karadic etc. etc.

    In the final analysis, it’s not up to the BBC (or any other service) to package the news as you or I would want it done. It’s up to us to read between the lines, make comparisons, and try to get the most accurate picture we can.

    It does irk, however, when reporting serves to exacerbate difficult social problems by always taking the same worn out line about who’s to blame.

  221. 223 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 14:23

    @Moderators: re the posts from Jonathan.

    Unless one of Ros’s Commandments is that ‘Anything Goes’ I think that this kind of thing does call for moderation.

  222. 224 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 14:31


    First apologies. In a moment of lax typing I missed “in the UK”.

    I agree that the tax system needs simplification. Having just done three tax returns inside of a month I fully agree. I’m just not sure if that simplification is best done with flat rate income tax or switching to a complete VAT (sale tax) system.

    The problem with income tax in the British context is that a good accounted would still help clients avoid paying tax because the UK only taxes UK income. Get your income routed in from abroad and you can avoid paying the tax. A sales tax however would be more difficult for residents to avoid. It’s simpler to administrate (there are fewer companies than people in any country).

    Then there is the final irony of the tax system. Your taxes don’t pay for schools [i]etc[/i]. Governments take loans from central banks to pay for those. Your tax pays the interest on those loans. Government surpluses are then used to reduce the principle on the loan which in future leads to lower taxes as there is less interest to pay back. Government deficits increase future taxation because they added the missed interest payments onto the loan principle.

  223. July 27, 2008 at 14:49

    Victor: I apologise, I’ve been away from the computer so couldn’t moderate since my last post (dinner and all that). I agree with you that the posts were a over-the-top, but I wasn’t the one who approved it, so you’ll have to look around to see who did.

    Jonathan: If you could kindly avoid the insults, please, we’d all have a better time.

  224. 226 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 14:56

    @ZK: yes of course. I hadn’t meant to point the figure at you or anybody else since, as you well know, there are usually several unofficial moderators about as well as the designated ones.

  225. July 27, 2008 at 14:59

    @ Victor

    @ Jonathan’s post
    Kindly paste me the post that You’r talking a bout!,
    I like the way you take serious about certain posts!Bravo,

    @ BOB,
    Hope everything is fine down their in Quensland!
    @Kathi & ZAK
    we runing short of Hot discussion point! Please Fire us up,and I am Bob will continue giving you some fundamental support-Bob Many thanks for that.All WHYS listners Know that You’r such a blessong for this Best Number 2 Radio Programme in the World!
    …OP’s I am publishing long article…let me stop..WHYS does like long Articles ..

  226. 228 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 15:10

    @Abdi: “Kindly paste me the post that You’r talking a bout!,”

    I really shouldn’t, since you’ll get fat and all out of shape by not looking for it yourself! But since you asked nicely…

    218 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 1:30 pm Edit
    Oh, Dwight, I don’t mean to fight, but your plots darken and thicken ’til they blot out all light.

    You took 16 lines of meandering to say “China is using more oil.” Nobody ever said that “increasing supply will decrease demand.” To derive a real oil price increase figure from a nominal one, you’d REDUCE it to adjust for dollar devaluation and inflation. You doubled it.

    Your treatise on inflation (the scenario with the guys going to bars, tearing up bits of paper, etc.) is fatally flawed by its presumptions that wealth is not increasing, which it is, and that defense is the largest government expense, which it isn’t.

    Have you considered running for Congress?

    219 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 1:33 pm Edit
    Hi Katharina,

    After you’re done laughing in a sarcastic sort of way (not that I have anything against sarcasm), you might educate yourself in a factual sort of way, whereupon you will learn the following:

    California is one of the very highest taxed of our 50 states, if not the highest,

    Defense is not the largest component of our budget, and Iraq is not the largest component of the defense budget,

    Nobody serious estimates that Iraq costs $1 trillion a year. Your linked source says $200 million/day x 365 = $73 billion/year. A trillion is 1,000 billion. You’re off by $927,000,000,000 per year.

  227. 229 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 15:11

    Cost of Iraq War
    Googling for the following:
    cost iraq war brings up several pages of useful links. The first two pages have links from the BBC, PBS in the US, New York Times, MSNBC, and others. The third page has at least one Wikipedia article that itself links out to several useful articles. So much reading, so little time. Thank you for planting the seed of curiosity for me.

  228. 230 Julie P
    July 27, 2008 at 15:31

    And on a lighter note: two graduates of the Naomi Campbell school of airline passenger etiquette get themselves removed from a flight bound for Manchester from somewhere in Greece.


  229. 231 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 15:40

    Cost of Iraq War
    I do agree with Katharina that the money that we spend on the Iraq war – not even from our budget – could be used on our schools, roads, programmes to feed and clothe the poor, funding for the Red Cross, etc. By the way, if the money has not been allocated from the general budget, how are we affording this war? If we are funding this war based on emergency budget measures, where id it come from before it was designated emergency funds? Would this have anything to do with our weak dollar?

    Bob, having grown up in poverty and seeing many of my family struggle to survive with less than $20,000 per year, I myself prefer a pro-rated (correct term?) tax system that taxes wealthy people proportionalely more than middle-class people, who are in turn taxed more than poor people; and at the bottom, the indigents would not be taxed at all. I also prefer a system by which a certain income level or below exempts one from taxes, not one that reimburses the taxes paid by an indigent person. In this regard, I tend to view things the same ay that Pangolin does.

  230. 232 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 15:45

    Hi everyone,

    I’m back, and will stay with you until the late evening. (This is not meant as a threat!)

    First of all my apologies about my misconception of the article that I linked with the Iraq war, I guess I should have done the math first. It’s still a lot of money that goes down the drain, though.

    Apparently some of you started going at each others throats, and Abdi asked for a new topic, so here’s something that surprisingly nobody mentioned yet: the bomb attacks in India.


    Yesterday I mentioned that China was also worried about possible attacks during the Olympic Games, do you think that there might be a connection?

  231. 233 Dennis
    July 27, 2008 at 16:10

    Hi Everyone, Good Day [and the ETC].

    Good Day, Kathi in Ghent, i hope that your internet is working today…

    @ The Naomi Campbell school of etiquette: Funny, why doesn’t she start her own programme, invite many people that are GOOD and ILL-TEMPERED…I suggest to her some names as one of her assistants? If that happends?

    @ Unless one of Ros’s Commandments is that ‘Anything Goes’ I think that this kind of thing does call for moderation.
    –i think that we should a set of Commandments, like they have on HAVE YOUR SAY [bbc]….

    Syracuse, New York

  232. 234 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 16:14

    The last days of New Labour?


    Panic and hysteria as the Labour party faces annihilation – on current polls – at a general election. They look set to be trounced by the Nationalists in Scotland, overwhelmed by the Tories in England, and will struggle to edge out Plaid Cymri, the nationalist party, in Wales.

    When a part floats the idea of replacing a serious politician like Gordon Brown with cartoon politicians like Harriet Harman and Jack Straw it’s reached the limits of desperation.

    My dream scenario: Tory landslide (400+ seats); a couple of hundred Liberal Democrats forming the opposition; and Labour reduced to a third party rump (permanently).

    They must miss Blair.

  233. July 27, 2008 at 16:19

    I think the death of New Labour happened quite a while ago when they lost our in the byelection (for Boris Johnson’s council seat) to even the BNP.

    If they want to even dream of forming the opposition at the next elections they need to get rid of Gordon Brown.

    That’s it from me today, I’ll catch up with everyone tomorrow once I’m at work. Good discussing, all!

  234. 236 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 16:19

    @Katharina: the Indian bomb attacks appear to be just the latest case of Muslims doing what Muslims do. Doubt if there’s any connection with China and the olympics.

    I’ll give the Beijing Dictatorship credit for one thing at least: they know how to put down dissent. I don’t expect them to have much of a problem with terrorism.

  235. 237 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 16:26

    Good night ZK! Thanks for moderating with me!

    @ VictorK: I’m rather uninformed about what’s generally going on in India, I only know what I heard now in the news, I wonder whether the Indian police saw these attacks coming?

    China has the advantage that unless it comes from their own rows, bomb plotters will be easily enough to spot. simply because they look different. My brother-in-law lives in Japan and we visited him during the World Expo three years ago, and the authorities there were also quite nervous, but that’s what he said: foreigners are easy to spot and have a very hard time to “integrate” into the Japanese society, because there’s no melting pot and no political correctness.

  236. 238 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 16:30

    Labour will not get rid of Brown for a serious contender. They know that it is very unlikely they’ll survive the next election and are most likely holding the best hopes back until after it (there will be all the talk about fresh change, new direction, a person not tarnished by the old regime etc). If Brown does going before it must be to a sacrificial lamb candidate.

    I would like to see a Tory government but not as strong as Victork has suggested. Weak oppositions tends to leave a party in power for too long, and it the end it destroys itself (Major and Brown being good examples). It then can not form a half decent opposition for the next decade (think Kinnock in the 80
    s and then Hauge, IDS, Howard). Strong Government comes from strong opposition.

    My preference would be a Tory win with Labour strong enough under a new leader to offer decent opposition. I don’t think the Lib Dem’s have it in them to provide that opposition position required.

  237. 239 Dennis
    July 27, 2008 at 16:34

    Thanks ZK for being the moderator for the weekend…

    Thanks Katharina in Ghent, also for being the moderator this weekend…

    Syracuse, New York

  238. July 27, 2008 at 16:40

    It’s unlikely to happen, but I’d be thrilled to see the Liberal Democrats make a big old-fashioned comeback, leaving both Labour and the Tories to revise the outdated, safe, unimaginative and stagnant ‘Links-Rechts Politik.’

    Without wanting to stir the pot (too much), I’d also want to agree with the complaints about offensive and downright nasty posts. I’ve been the victim of one of these when I stuck out my neck to ask for some re-consideration and re-evaluation of the Serb-Kosovar injustice. Fact is, the rabid response I had put me off the blog for some weeks.

    It isn’t that one is too weak to bear with this kind of thing; it’s just that life is hard enough without having to endure gratuitous insults from someone you don’t even know.

  239. 241 Count Iblis
    July 27, 2008 at 17:03

    The BBC is biased toward neutral news reporting, and neutral = Left Wing according to conservatives.

  240. 243 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 17:24

    Occasionally there is a bias in the BBC output, but overall I think it is nothing to be too concerned about when compared to other media outlets (Fox news being an extreme, but even British papers are never neutral on any given subject.)

    The BBC’s output is seen by so many people that it will never satisfy everybody. I do find its news service to be the most objective of the worlds major news organizations and is where I visit for the more factual based information. If I want opinion based news I go to newspaper sites or WHYS. Everything has it’s place at the end of the day.

  241. 244 victork13
    July 27, 2008 at 17:37

    @Steve: the so-called radicals are simply embracing the basic and orthodox tenets of their religion. They are Muslims.

    Those who don’t support murder, sharia, gender apartheid etc are the ‘cultural Muslims’. The decent people for whom Islam is a customary way of life in terms of going to the mosque, observing rituals and marking festivals, but nothing more serious than that. The reason the ‘radical’ minority dominates the ‘moderate’ majority is that the radicals have all the conviction of true Muslims, while the ‘moderates’ know that they fall short of orthodoxy by virtue of their decency and moderation!

    There’s no point in newspapers and politicians wringing their hands about so-called extremism when the problem is the ideology of Islam.

    People like those decribed in the report clearly have no loyalty to Britain and are, in fact, its enemies. Stripping them of their citizenship and expelling them to whichever Muslim country they have an ancestral connection with is the solution. No Western government has the will to do that (until a dirty nuclear bomb goes off). Why wait?

  242. July 27, 2008 at 17:44

    Re: BBC bias.

    I go along with Claud Cockburn when he says, more or less, ‘Beware the news service which claims to have no biases at all.’ Of course the BBC is biased, often irritatingly so, but, Id contend, biased in the best possible way; that is, willing to indulge some degree of self-doubt.

    Cockburn, in his autobiography, recalls a scene in the foreign office of the London Times, in which one junior correspondent has challenged another to translate a passage from Plato’s Phaedo from Greek into Mandarin Chinese, without losing any nuance from the original. The challenger is quoting the Greek text from memory while the challenged translates on the spot.

    Do we still have journalists of this breadth?

  243. 246 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 18:05

    India Bombs
    Katharina, it doesn’t seem likely that the same kind of violence will spread to China. The AP is reporting that an Islamist group has taken responsibility for the attacks. The group itself is unknown, but they are claiming revenge for the violence that rocked Gujarat some years ago. I am not aware of any issues affecting Muslims and breeding extremists in China. O could be wrong, though. India has twp: Gujarat and Kashmir. I wasn’t aware that Gujarat was still an issue, though, until I read the AP article today.

  244. 247 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 18:22

    Hi Shirley,

    I thought that the Muslims in India are generally quite content, but I was wrong. Still, it’s even more surprising that Islamist groups have found their way into China, I’ve linked an article yesterday, you can find it here:


    It’s kind of scary the way they’re spreading…

  245. 248 kpellyhezekiah
    July 27, 2008 at 19:10

    Hi guys,
    I’m really proud of all you guys on this site. God richly bless u. I believe the world would be a better place to live in if 45% of the total population think and will do things as we think it out. Now guys, I don’t think bbc is bias. Its only that it is part of an ‘order’ that I’m happy to say is an ‘old order’ because there is a ‘new order’ now and WHYS is part of the ‘new order’ even in the bbc. What needs to be done is to get about 90% of the bbc programmes to reflect the new order and I must admit it is not going to be easy but it must be done. We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. The whole world is crying about soaring energy crisis, to be precise, the final cost of gasoline(petrol,diesel,kerosine,aviaation fuel etc) on the final consumer. bbc carried a news item about just one way of the ways of dealing with it in the immediate term but nobody picked it up. I waited for the whole week to see if the world was interested in persuing that goal but nothing came out. My question is why were we silent on this thought provoking, unique but simple way of combating high crude oil prices’ effect on the final consumer? I’ll get back to u guys soon.

  246. 249 selena
    July 27, 2008 at 19:15

    @victork13 July 27, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    ” the Indian bomb attacks appear to be just the latest case of Muslims doing what Muslims do. “

    Victork: would you say similarly that when a young American takes his guns and shoots down students and teachers: “well, that’s just a young American doing what young Americans do…“?

    Please everyone when thinking about bias, try this exercise with all the crimes that come to mind. It is a very interesting one.

    I guess (in view of the on-going discussion about BBC bias) it could show we all have our biases.

  247. 250 Virginia Davis
    July 27, 2008 at 19:25

    @media bias: I suggest (again) the Christian Science Monitor as concerned with a wide variety of issues, with excellent reporters, and very nice odd takes on good things in the world. NB http://www.csmonitor.com will send your selection of daily email references.

    Virginia in Oregon

  248. 251 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 19:26

    Nicely said, Selena…

  249. 252 selena
    July 27, 2008 at 19:32


    Just got back to Paris from Corsica. I am skimming through the posts. it seems you have had a great weekend!

    Thanks to you, ZK and the contributors for keeping things rolling along.


  250. 253 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 19:38

    @ Selena,

    Sounds like you’re having the best of times! Won’t you hate it when you have to go back to Canada?

  251. July 27, 2008 at 19:38

    The thing with bias is that there is simply no such thing as pure information, at least not when information is interpreted and relayed by human beings.

    I get a really good laugh out of getting behind my own thoughts from time to time and realizing how awfully biased I am. One of my greatest biases is leaning towards how utterly unbiased I am. Everyone sees things through the haze of human limitations, but I see it clearly!

    If it weren’t for the incorrigible biases that are part of our nature, this would be a very boring blog, as we’d all be writing in to agree with what all of us had to say all the time.

    And we’d need only one news channel.

  252. 255 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 19:44


    What was the BBC article on energy? Do you have the link or a brief description?

  253. 256 portlandmike
    July 27, 2008 at 19:46

    @ media bias
    Many American conservatives see the British as a socialized country with universal health care and the BBC. They feel that the U.S. has the best doctors, and hospitals on the planet, and look at NPR’s left-leaning as an ongoing abuse of the democratic system.

    Medical providers are going to have to figure out how to deal with life style issues. It is a massive conundrum that has not been debated.

  254. 257 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 20:01

    Islamic Extremism in Asia (religious or only nationlist?)
    Katharina, I am also surprised. I have known that there has been a rather remote ethnic group in eastern CHina that is mainly Muslim, but I was not previously aware of their complaints against the Chinese government. To date, the documentary/ies that I have seen had protrayed them as peaceful people who go about their own business. Of course, I would assume that most of them indeed are peaceful and do go about their own business. It’s just strange that documentaries would not take the time to point out extremist groups and their complaints. For example, wouldn’t someone studying Spain see some kind of information about ETA?

    The articl that you linked (thank you) at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/world/islamic-bombers-threaten-olympics-terror/2008/07/26/1216492790660.html mentioned the following:
    According to global intelligence analysts Stratfor, the Turkestan Islamic Party is another name used by the Islamic Party of East Turkestan (ETIM), an ethnic Uighur and Muslim separatist group seeking to create an independent state out of China’s westernmost, heavily Muslim Xinjiang province. Beijing is wary of ethnic Uighur Muslims living in Xinjiang, who maintain an ethnic identity distinct from the Chinese and have struggled to re-establish the independent state of East Turkestan since their homeland became part of China in 1955. Rights bodies say the Chinese government is cracking down on them under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

    I wonder how it is that East Turkestan came under Chinese rule. Hopefully Wikipedia has a good amount of info on that. My understanding to this point is that China has had something of a laissez-faire policy with regard to that region; and so the Muslims there have been able to practise freely. If that is true, then it would seem that ETIM has no religious basis for their militant struggle against the Chinese government – just a nationalist cause.

  255. 258 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 20:13

    Hi Shirley,

    Wikipedia has indeed a big article about this:


    Guess what: they have oil there. Now I’m really worried!

  256. 259 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 20:21

    I also found this article about the independence movement:


    “Many Uyghurs feel they face religious persecution and discrimination at the hands of the Chinese authorities. Uyghurs who choose to practice their faith can only use a state-approved version of the Koran; men who work in the state sector cannot wear beards and women cannot wear headscarves. The Chinese state controls the management of all mosques, which many Uyghurs claim stifles religious traditions that have formed a crucial part of the Uyghur identity for centuries.[2] Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to attend church or mosque. Religious figures may not hold high-level state positions or be school teachers.”

    These measures may seem a bit harsh, but given the hate preachers in the West I think that the Chinese are onto something here. I don’t know what their state-approved Koran looks like, though. Probably washed with a fabric softener, so to speak.

  257. 260 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 21:26

    I am wodnering, out of curiosity, what kind of yearly household income is necessary to feed, clothe, and house a family of four or five, maintain their health care, and also send the kids through college? I am not assuming that such a family would live in New York City or downtown Los Angeles – just a typical family in a rural or suburban setting. Or, perhaps, might someone know how much a family sends on college education per year above and beyond their other normal expenses?

  258. 261 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 21:29

    Religious Extremism in Asia
    Katharina, China’s restrictions on the Muslims in East Turkestan do rather smack of the kind of interference that the founders of American democracy aimed to avoid. I know that China is not a democratic country, but one who hopes that they would eventually adopt a democratic government would naturally like to see them travel down that path. A government that translates religious texts and only allows those translations, restricts certain religious practises that have formed part of the culture of a people, and disallows clothing mandated by a religion does not seem to be holding to democratic ideals, in my opinion. Here we have a chicken and egg question: which came first, the restrictions or the separatist violence? The way that the article reads implies the latter. When a younger sibling aggravates and harasses an older sibling, I personally feel that the younger sibling’s harassment should be curtailled before the older sibling feels the need to resort to hitting. I also feel that there should be recourses available to both of them to air grievances against each other; as well as an educational programme in place to teach them to communicate with each other so that they can express their complaints and suggest alternate methods of spending excess energy. It is my thinking that such strategies would reduce the amount of violence between the two, rather than imposing a regime of restrictions on one or both of them. When violence might occur, I would feel much more justified in imposing restrictions on one, the other, or both. Of course, this was only a rhetorical comparison.

  259. 262 kpellyhezekiah
    July 27, 2008 at 21:34

    the bbc article was on a development in the Ivory Coast, robert. After a wek of very serious protest (I understand it was very violent at a stage) the government announced that the salaries of ministers were going to be halved and that led to a 10% reduction in the cost of fuel to the average consumer in that country. This news was carried by the bbc programme focus on africa. Guys, if a cut in the salaries of ministers(I believe they are not more than 200) could lead to a whoping 10% reduction in the final cost of crude oil to the final consumer on the street doesn’t it tell us that maybe we have all just been believing a big lie by our political leaders all around the globe that it is because the price of crude has risen to $145 that is why we have to bear such astronomical increases and that nothing can be done?

  260. 263 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 21:45

    It seems to be the week for it doesn’t it? I’m sure the events in Turkey tonight will be hotly debated over the coming day. I suppose it is a little too early to discuss until the full picture is known as to the group behind it (10 minutes ago it was even being reported as a gas explosion)


  261. 264 kpellyhezekiah
    July 27, 2008 at 21:48

    what amased me was that nobody found it worthwhile to go into this news and find out the details. It was allowed to die a natural death because as usual ‘this unique news is coming from africa and so it must not be considered.” Nothing good must come out of africa to help make the world a better place to live in so the story was killed. But guys it is only in africa that when the protests took place the government decided to do the right thing. Political leadership all over the world are not prepared to make any sacrifice financially as far as this issue is concern apart from a country in africa. Guys wake up. When saudi arabia and opec say they are not to be blamed for this problem they are right. We have been looking the wrong way. Its time we turn round like the ivory coast and begin to look and do what is right. The news from Ivory coast is just the sign post showing the whole world which direction to go as far as the this energy problem is concerned and I’m really proud that africa has taken the lead in this trend.

  262. 265 kpellyhezekiah
    July 27, 2008 at 21:57

    instead of being very innovative and find ways of generating incomes for their people, most countries in the world especially in africa, are only content with imposing indirect taxes on their people and crude offers them the easy way out. They cannot go to the people for direct taxation because they know the people will demand a higher level of accountability of public funds from them and so they just sit back and siphone the people through indirect taxation for their own pleasure. can u guess how many taxes are included on the price of gasoline in ghana for instance? u won’t believe it if you were told.

  263. 266 Roberto
    July 27, 2008 at 21:58

    Take the continuous misleader about Obama being the first African American presidential candidate. It’s just not true. He has a white mother, so how can he possibly be an ‘African’ American?

    ** My gosh, what is it about the world getting it’s shorts a bind over nothing and letting all the big global issues blow up in their face?

    Me thinks Obama is being portrayed as the first presidential nominee, not candidate. Facts are that he is more qualified to claim status as a genuine African American than 99.99% of blacks in America. His father African, his mother American. Self evident.

    Perhaps some in the world unaware that most all black citizens in America have significant white and native American genetic markers in them making them of mixed heritage. The term African American a political term adopted by moderns, not a descriptive term.

  264. 267 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 22:00

    Hi Shirley,

    One last thing before I have to log out to go to sleep:

    Generally, I totally agree with you on what you write about how things should happen between Chinese authorities and Uyghurs/etc., but the reality unfortunately shows a different picture, where even in very open societies radical islamist movements have sprung up. I wonder how this region would further develop if the Chinese let them separate completely and form their own country. Would they keep to progress like they are now economically or would they fall back into the stone ages and become a second Afghanistan?

  265. 268 Katharina in Ghent
    July 27, 2008 at 22:03


    That’s it for me for tonight. Thank you all for a very lively discussion, and I’m looking forward to moderating another Blank Page in the near future. Please keep on discussing, I’m sure some of the other moderators will jump in and I will catch up with you tomorrow morning.

  266. 269 kpellyhezekiah
    July 27, 2008 at 22:12

    At the base of the effect of the increase in the cost of fuel(crude) to the final consumer is nothing but sheer corruption and greed by our political leadership all over the world who are using it for all sorts of gain in close collaboration with some oil companies and they have been feeding us with sheer propaganda. Guys, a lot can be done about fuel costs to we the final consumers even if the price rises to above $200. Its time we all sit up and tell our political leaderships that enough is enough. To start with can someone out there in the US just take the trouble to find out what the cost of production is for any oil company and compare that to the price they are being told to pay for it now? I’ll continue my analysis tomorrow, Godwilling. In Ghana, over 60%, of the final cost to the consumer is all government taxes!!!

  267. 270 Dennis
    July 27, 2008 at 22:12

    Thanks Kathi in Ghent….

    For being a good moderator over the weekend…..


    Syracuse, New York

  268. 271 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 22:13


    Many countries subsides fuel to the people but it is not really a cut in petrol prices, as you still pay for it out of taxes. If the money saved was not used to subsidize petrol it could be given back to voters as a tax cut. If you drive you could use the money towards your petrol bill. If you don’t drive you would have the choice of what you spend the money on. But the decision is that of the citizen. The government of Ivory Coast have taken that decision away from people as to what money is spent on

    The underling theme of the story is not the fuel cost but that the ministers are overpaid. We have similar issues in the UK regarding what MP’s can claim as an expense at the moment. The rules regarding MP pay and expenses are changing, and it didn’t take a violent uprising on the streets of London to achieve it.

  269. 272 Robert
    July 27, 2008 at 22:27


    The figures below are for the UK not the US. There are things missing from these numbers that you would pay in the states like direct health care costs and the full college fees you cover.


  270. 273 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 22:45

    Asian Religious Extremism (or World Domination R Us) :
    Katharina, now Xinjian has have oil, all that we need to do is manufacture claims of WMDs in their midst. Of course, it may leave us to ignore our pursuits of dominance in Zimbabwe, unless we can find shadowy witnesses with their own agendas who would support claims of undiscovered oil fields and WMD in Zimbabwe. And then, we take over the world, mwahahahaaa! :=)

  271. 274 Shirley
    July 27, 2008 at 22:52

    I think that I was wrong! It could very well have been the Hui that I had heard about prior to this. The Hui, though Muslim, helped China regain control over East Turkestan. I’ll try to finish reading.

    By the way, what is the deal with the promotion of the Han culture in China? It’s as if the Chinese government would like to imagine that no other ethnicity exists in China. Not good, think I.

  272. 275 Pangolin- California
    July 27, 2008 at 23:02

    @ BBC “bias”- “It is very well known that reality has a liberal bias.”- Stephen Colbert
    The richest people in the US, living on capital gains income, are taxed at a mere 15% of their income by the Federal government while the lowliest dishwasher or floor sweeper has his labor taxed at about 30%. The billionaire Warren Buffet was noted for pointing out that his secretary paid a higher marginal tax rate than he did.

    California, with it’s high taxes, has more people per capita in prison 475 inmates per 100,000 state residents than any governmental body outside the US. Our prison guards are paid up to $120,000 US each and use ‘union’ dues to promote the incarceration of more people for longer terms. Most of the prisoners are charged with non-violent drug offenses.

    When you waste your taxes funding a gulag there isn’t much left for proseperity.

  273. 276 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 23:08


    I think we can all speak for ourselves here. When I offend, I’m happy to apologize. But I offended nobody this weekend. In fact, two correspondents apologized to me, which was gracious but not necessary.

    Since I did not address myself to you, it’s an unwelcome suprise to see you gratuitously barge in and cause trouble by poking the anthill over and over, trying to convince a moderator to scold me.

    I urge you to abandon your petty personal vendetta. It just wastes everyone’s time.

  274. 277 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 23:31


    Living costs vary widely, according to the standards at which people wish to live. Food, clothing, and housing can be gotten cheaply or expensively. As a general principle, people tend to consume material goods at approximately the level of their income, and thus (correctly)to perceive themselves as just getting by, whatever that level is. I know people who just get by on $20,000, and others who just get by on ten times that income.

    The objective figure you’re seeking for how much it costs to sustain a family doesn’t exist until you define your parameters better. It’s easy to find, for instance, the average income for a family of four. There’s also a so-called “poverty level” income which is just an arbitrary statistic. I think the US Dept of Labor has these numbers; a google search should be fast work.

  275. 278 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 27, 2008 at 23:40


    Since we all too seldom agree, I’m delighted to agree with you 100% about the futilie, expensive, and destructive habit of Californians to toss each other in prison for long periods. I’m also pleased to see your (literal) overnight conversion from yesterday’s post purporting California is undertaxed to today’s, acknowledging it’s a high-tax state.

  276. 279 Bryan
    July 27, 2008 at 23:51

    victork13 July 27, 2008 at 12:21 pm,

    The BBC’s coverage of the ’96 Football World Cup had me gaping at the BBC News Website and the radio (World Service) in disbelief. There was total lack of enthusiasm for the England side as if it were just not done to write or say one positive word about it. Perhaps a memo went out.

    Conversely, there was effusive praise and concern for England’s opponents – I believe among them were Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay but no time to check right now. The BBC was positively cheerleading for the other side. The voice of a commentator on the World Service remained flat and disinterested when England scored a rare goal. I thought I must have heard wrong because I have never heard a commentator describe a goal scored by either side as if he were announcing a dental appointment. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

    Now I know it’s a global village and all and patriotism is so 20th century and no self-respecting BBC journalist would be seen dead with a British flag, but it is still the British Broadcasting Corporation and it surely isn’t too much to expect of it to acknowledge that fact once in a while.

  277. 280 Shirley
    July 28, 2008 at 00:08

    Jonathan,, I am looking for pot-scraping, leftover-eating, hand-me-down-wearing frugal folk. Not hunger, not holes in the clothes, not rainbow cars with duct tape. Just ordinary frugal folk, the kind who fill the wading pool in the backyard instead of visitng Gramma Jane this summer. That would be contrasted with folks who have transitioned from restaurants and microwave meals to cooking from scratch, who gave up Gap and Haggar for Faded Glory and Cherokee, and who re-thought taking the yacht with them to their out-of-state vacation destination.

    Or, if you will, how much extra would any family spend per annum to chuck a couple of kids off to the state university and live in the dorms there?

    Asian Religious Extremism:
    Checked Turkey bomb story, officially suspected but unconfirmed link to Kurdish rebellion.

    Katharina, some good questions you raise. I wonder how much it would depend on development of the area. Of course, another question: does a region have to be “developed” in order to be peaceful? In this case, I raise the question of development because it could soothe tempers frayed by perceived repression.

  278. 281 Pangolin- California
    July 28, 2008 at 00:22

    @ Jonathan- I forgot to put quotes around the phrase “high taxes” indicating sarcasm. California has a budget larger than many first world nations but it’s government is arcane and counterproductive.

    I would gladly release every Hollywood and Silicon valley millionaire from the hassle of paying income tax for the simple trade of taxing commercial property, including residential rental property, at a rate sufficient to recoup the revenue. Of course that would be hell on the idle rich but who needs idle rich.

    Freezing the assets of the legislature and Governor when they can’t produce a budget would be a good idea also.

  279. 282 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 00:41

    In regard to perceived biased or bad reporting in the media. I love watching this Australian TV program called Media Watch. It serves as a neutral watchdog and critique of the media in Australia. Because of this it is, not surprisingly, much disliked by the various Australian media outlets both commercial and governmental. Apart from being a watchdog, it also serves to educate viewers in critically examining information from the mass media.

  280. 283 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 28, 2008 at 00:43

    Shirley, sorry, forgot the education component of your question. It completely depends on the state, and ranges from about $0 to about $20,000. For the other figure, the colorful imagery suggests you’re talking about a family halfway between rich and poor, aka the “median family.” I imagine the median family income would approximate the median family expenses, give or take a bit, since the savings rate lately is about zero. Google “United States median family income” and count the kids right. I’m curious too; after years in this insanely high-income, high-expense hothouse, I’m entirely out of touch

  281. 284 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 00:57

    @ Shirley,

    Regarding the government’s promotion of Han culture throughout China, one thing that the Chinese government still doesn’t understand is that trust and empowerment of the people works better than coersion in the long run. My only hope is that they are learning through their increasing exposure to and examination of the modern world. As Luz Ma has rightly pointed out: “when a person is “forced” to change her/his beliefs, he/she holds more tightly to them.” Anyone who was a rebellious children will tell you that this is true.

  282. 285 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 01:08

    An Australian journalist is in Singaporean custody for possession of illicit drugs. If found guilty, he could be subjected to the cane.

    Corporal punishment is viewed by most Australians, and maybe most westerners, as a cruel archaic form of punishment that risks leaving the accused with psychological scars.

    At the same time there has been debate about the merit of long sentences. The cane or the lash has been used in some countries to compliment prison terms. Does it form an appropriate substitute for long or capital sentences?

    @ ZK, what is the public opinion, and yours, of corporal punishment in Singapore?

  283. July 28, 2008 at 02:29

    I’m concerned that the air pollution at the Olympics is going to have some athletes refusing to participate. What do you WHYSrs think?


  284. 287 Julie P
    July 28, 2008 at 02:39


    I can speak from my experience with living through the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. The IOC, geniuses that they are, awarded the 1996 Games to us evidently with doing very little, if any, research on Atlanta’s climate. There was a lot of concern expressed for the athletes and the impact our sub tropical climate would have on them. The year leading up to the Games athletes from all over the world started training here to get themselves used to the high heat and humidity. I also remember teams training for the 1984 Games in LA by having cars running near them as they trained. They were getting used to all of the exhaust there. It’s a thought. I can’t say the same for Beijing, but I am confident the athletes are getting themselves ready for them in more ways than one.

  285. 288 Pangolin- California
    July 28, 2008 at 02:59

    @ Corporal Punishment- If corporal punishment were an effective means of reducing unwanted behavior John McCain would be the Dalai Lama due to his years of suffering abuse in Vietnam. Instead he is jumping up and down eager to promote the senseless military occupations of two nations that never attacked the US. He’s probably drooling over the prospect of attacking Iran too.

    Singapore is a fascist dictatorship with one of the most intrusively controlling governments on the planet. It’s an example of ‘anything to make a buck’ mentality run rampage.

  286. 289 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 03:19

    @ VictorK,

    What is your definition of the term “apologist”? Your use of this term could apply to those who unflinchingly support a particular regime, namely your much disliked Chinese dictatorship, which I don’t, or those who examine and challenges your strong opinions and posted articles that contain ambiguity, lack citations, and back claims with unnamed “expert”, which I and few fellow bloggers have often done?

  287. 290 Pangolin- California
    July 28, 2008 at 03:25

    @ BBC types- Since you guys have news crews going to China for the Olympics a nice oil price/human interest story would be the massive growth in electric bicycle use in Chinese cities. You could tie that in to the expansion of bicycle use in the West to include things like the cargo bikes that can carry kids and groceries.

    These are becoming very popular locally with some families using literal bike trains to get kids to school in the mornings. I’ve seen a tandem bike with a kids ride-along hooked to it and a trailer behind. It has to be seen to be believed.

  288. 291 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 03:40

    @ portlandmike

    I know one of the champion marathon runners has pulled out from the game due to his athsmatic condition. It is a shame that the threat of pollution will sideline some of the athletes. At the end of the day, health should always come first and it will be a decision for the individual athletes to make.

  289. 292 Dennis
    July 28, 2008 at 04:20

    Hi, everyone!

    i hope that everyone had a nice weekend, sorry i was not around…..

    thanks to zk in singapore and kathi in ghent for being
    our fearless moderators here on blank page 17….this weekend….

    as i writing this: 290 and counting posts on this bp….can we make it over 300….

    **good night, it is little after 11.pm eastern time**

    syracuse, new york
    united states of america

  290. 293 Bob in Queensland
    July 28, 2008 at 04:34

    Good Morning All!

    @ Pangolin

    Isn’t a big part of the problem in China the fact that, although there’s a growth in the use of electric bicycles (and human powered bikes have always been common) there’s still a major aspiration to own a car as soon as you can afford one? Certainly in my experience, car ownership is still highly prized as a symbol that you’ve “made it”.

    (For clarity–I’m not saying this is a good thing, just that a sea change of attitude is needed.)

  291. 294 Bob in Queensland
    July 28, 2008 at 04:40

    @ Tom

    I agree that Media Watch is well worth, er, watching. I particularly like the sub heading on their web site: “Everyone loves it–until they’re on it”.

  292. 295 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 05:18

    @ Bob,

    I hated tabloid style “current affairs” programs like Today Tonight and, to a lesser extent, A Current Affairs. Some of their lifestyle reports are very informative, but then there are their alamist/crusadist reports that are a bit more than a crude joke. One of them involves an interview of 2 recently arrived asian students. Because of their ignorance on the Aussie folk song Waltzing Matilda and the much loved Pavlova, the reporter concludes that “Australian Value” has fundamentally changed! Pavlovas, by the way, are a New Zealander invention.

    I love it seeing the way Media Watch’s analysis into these reports absolutely tears their credibility apart. The sad thing is that these programs remain popular and in prime time spots.

    Regarding cars in China, it is indeed for a family a status symbol to own a car or two. It’s also a status symbol for cities to have Los Angeles style moterways. For all the conflicts between them, the Chinese consciously and subconsciously look upon the Americans and the Japanese as role models of success.

  293. July 28, 2008 at 06:05

    PortlandMike: Well, the easy way to get around that would be to follow the example of the Australian and Canadian track teams — base themselves outside of Beijing (in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively) and only fly in for events before flying back out. That way, the time they are exposed to the poor Beijing air smog is for a short while.

  294. July 28, 2008 at 06:25

    That sounds like a pretty good plan, to train out of town. But, if the air is as horrible as it looks in the recent photos, I’m wondering if a good portion of the deep breathers will reject the conditions.


  295. 298 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 06:46

    Jonathan (sunny San Francisco) July 27, 2008 at 11:08 pm


    I think we can all speak for ourselves here. When I offend, I’m happy to apologize.”

    You are? Then perhaps you’d be big to bring yourself to apologise to me for the gross personal abuse you felt free to direct my way here:


    And to which I responded here:


    And which you felt free to ignore.

  296. 299 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 07:31

    @ Pangolin,

    Apart from being a money-making haven, Singapore is also a city obsessed with maintaining law & order and ultra efficiency. Obviously they see a need for corporal punishment, together with corporal punishment, as a mean to achieve this end. Crime rate in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world.

    However, if I want to go to a safe, orderly, efficient city where everyone has respect for one another, I’d much prefer Tokyo (or any other Japanese city for that matter). There, corporal punishment isn’t used in the justice system, although *I think* is still being used in schools.

  297. 300 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 07:32

    Tom July 28, 2008 at 1:08 am,

    I don’t see how corporal punishment could ever be a substitute for capital punishment or long prison sentences. Suffer lashing or caning for murder and then walk free?

    I guess the ‘liberal’ left would like to see shorter sentences and improved jail conditions. I guess they would like to see murderers jailed for a maximum of two years in comfy cells with their own TV and internet access and better food than the average person gets on the outside, conjugal rights and unsupervised visits home every weekend. And if they murder again while outside, they simply get another two years under the same conditions. So a murderer happy with his jail conditions could go on around 25 killing sprees in the course of a lifetime, each time returning to his home from home. An enterprising murderer could even hire himself out as a hit man, make millions, serve out his final two years and retire at age 40.

    You can’t deprive murderers of their rights. What a thought. And long prison sentences? The inhumanity!

    I’d be interested to know what kind of society people who are so scornful of capital punishment and long sentences would like to see. Actually, I’m not so sure I would like to know.

  298. 301 Bob in Queensland
    July 28, 2008 at 08:15

    I’m not sure what I think of corporal punishment either as a punishment or deterrent. I’m certainly old enough to believe in spanking children (as the “ultimate sanction”), though please note this does not mean striking out blindly and beating them. For adults? I doubt it–but would encourage people to read books like “Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein who tries to make a case for it.

    As for other punishments, I’ve yet to hear any member of the “liberal left” advocate a 2 year sentence (with internet and home visits) for murder and such silly statements just devalue the debate. Personally I’m against capital punishment because there are just too many mistakes in any criminal justice system. I can’t understand how anyone can believe in a system where if the wrong person is executed it’s unfortunate but “so what?”. However, I also dislike the British system where a “tariff” is set for life prisoners, usually allowing parole after 12-15 years. In at least some instances life should mean life.

    I do think it’s necessary to differentiate between “levels” of murder. An armed robber who deliberately shoots a bank teller to steal money is, in my mind, more dangerous than the man who finds his best friend sleeping with his wife and, in blind anger, kills him.

    Finally, it needs to be said every time that long jail sentences alone are not a deterrent. It can be useful to keep dangerous criminals out of circulation–but the threat of this (or even the threat of a death penalty) does not in itself stop crime.

  299. 302 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 28, 2008 at 08:36

    I’m sorry Bryan.

  300. 303 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 08:58

    Bob, I agree with much of what you say. I’m not trying to “devalue the debate” but make a point by means of exaggeration. But I am genuinely interested to know where the social engineers of the liberal left do in fact draw the line. If they were given free rein, we might see a judicial and prison system not that far removed from the picture I’ve painted.

    The left is expert at throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Prisons are grim places? Hey, let’s turn them into hotels. Sentences are long? Let’s reduce them until they become meaningless. That’s the way to tackle crime.

    New Zealand, perhaps even more of a nanny state than Britain, has recently put a law on its books making it a criminal offence, I believe, to smack a child. So New Zealanders are faced with the absurd situation in which someone who disciplines an unruly child for the child’s own good could find himself rubbing shoulders with rapists and murderers and, if we take the absurd philosophy of the left to its logical conclusion, perhaps even doing the same amount of time as these real criminals.

    Helen Clark and her crew have a helluvah lot to answer for. As does the left worldwide.

  301. 304 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 09:04

    Jonathan (sunny San Francisco) July 28, 2008 at 8:36 am,

    Apology accepted.

  302. 305 Pangolin- California
    July 28, 2008 at 09:53

    The whippings will continue until moral improves huh? Try that with a dog and you will get a spastic animal that messes the rug the minute you leave the house. Do that to a child and you end up with an unrepentent sadist or a drug addict.

    The people who object to prison conditions do not want to see prison terms reduced; in the case of non-violent drug offenders we want to see them eliminated. Cocaine, heroin and cannabis extracts in alcohol were all widely available and relatively cheap in 1900 America and the scourge of society was widley agreed to be alcohol.

    It would be far cheaper to give addicts measured doses of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or whatever on demand at local clinics than to hassle with the criminal model of drug treatment. This has been repeatedly proven.

    Oh, prison guards are the first to advocate private televisions in inmate cells as it gives them something to do. A bored prisoner is a dangerous prisoner.

  303. 306 victork13
    July 28, 2008 at 10:11

    @Jonathan: I’m also a moderator. I thought of deleting your posts and asking you to re-submit them without the insulting sneers. But since you’ve posted in the same way about me, further reflection suggested that I leave the decision to another moderator.

    Though that moderator approved the posts, the issue remained since there are standards here at WHYS. And so my remarks.

    ‘Vendetta’? Really?

  304. 307 victork13
    July 28, 2008 at 10:25

    @Selena: I suppose that some might characterise student slayings as a very American thing, since it does appear to happen in that country more than any others, doesn’t it? But I happen to be commenting on one phenomenon and you are raising a completely unrelated one that I have no particular interest in. Quite illogical, on two fronts: assuming that I wouldn’t bear with criticism of a Western country just because it’s Western (you should note what I’ve had to say about Iraq and Afghanistan); and assuming that the US is not prone to social pathologies.

    Suicide and other bombings are a favourite tactic of Muslims. Most attacks of this kind have an Islamic connection. They are also driven, when directed against non-Muslims, by a Koranic precept to fight and kill non-Muslims. Facts, however unwelcome.

    @Shirley: I’m surprised that you have never heard of Xinjiang. I’ve mentioned it and China’s oppression there several times as a subject WHYS ought to handle. Chechnya too. One of the criticisms I have of WHYS and of some bloggers is that they focus too much on issues with a Western connection.

  305. 308 victork13
    July 28, 2008 at 10:48

    @Tom: some blogging advice –
    *attach your comments to an on-going conversation or make them as part of a new one. Angry remarks erupting seemingly out of nowhere can be so disorientating;
    *few people are very interested in the chaff of a conversation (non-controversies, irrelevant or insignificant points, matters taken out of context and dwelt on for overly-personal reasons, etc), so it’s usually not a good idea to make it the staple of your post;
    *resentment and rancour at past exchanges are best kept to yourself, since they don’t matter to anybody else and are something of a bore in present exchanges. I honestly can’t even remember discussing anything with you, though from what you wrote your apparent sense of grievance seems to have something to do with China and the use of the word ‘apologist’. I threw that word out quite a bit when discussing Tibet (I was up against about half-a-dozen apologists on one thread! it was good fun). Is that what’s troubling you? Let me ‘do a Jonathan’ and express my deepest apologies for upsetting you in some way.

    Let’s all aim for a higher standard of blogging, eh?

  306. 309 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 11:08

    victork13 July 28, 2008 at 10:48 am,

    That’s why if I’m answering a specific point I include the details of the comment’s author as I’ve just done here. I don’t think too many people have the time or inclination to go hunting for the original comment that led to the response. But if they do, providing the date and time, or right-clicking and pasting in the link, obviously makes it a lot easier. This convention is used on many forums. Why not here?

    ‘@’ followed by the name is not always ideal because there can be half a dozen comments or more by that person in the thread above. Who’s going to hunt through them to find the right comment?

    Incidentally, I responded to your query re BBC bias in sport at 11:51 pm yesterday.

  307. 310 victork13
    July 28, 2008 at 11:50

    @ Bryan July 28, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Good point about including the exact reference. I – and others – need to start doing the same.

    I’d also be interested to hear suggestions people have about improving the way we blog here.

    I read your post about the sports bias. Unfortunately 1996 is a blur when it comes to the England team – aren’t most years? – but nothing in your account surprised me. The same thing happened during the second Gulf War.

    British troops accused the BBC of bias. I was surprised. All the reporting I’d heard had been perfectly neutral between the Coalition and Saddam. And of course, that was the bias. Like going out of your way to report neutrally on the Nazis and the French resistance, and just happening to be the French Broadcasting Corporation! That style of reporting is still the case when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, and is also noticeable when reporting on a legitimate sovereign state (Israel) and a host of ‘fighters’, ‘guerrillas’ and ‘militants’ who would once have been properly described as terrorists.

  308. 311 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 12:28

    Did I say 1996? I meant 2006. (No time to check right now.)

    I agree 100% with your comments re the biased reporting. There is no middle ground between terrorists and those who defend against terror.

  309. 312 Dennis
    July 28, 2008 at 14:03

    Thanks to Victor13 post about being civil towards
    each other.

    It was done, 300Plus posts….[311].now 312

    Syracuse, New York

  310. 313 Tom
    July 28, 2008 at 14:37

    @ VictorK,

    Yes, issues concerning China interests me deeply as this forms a part of my identity. So a clarification was all I asked for especially since I have aired views both supportive and critical of the government there.

    Thanks very much for your blogging advise. As a moderator, you should be aware that WHYS provides a forum for anyone anywhere in the world to air their opinions and issues affecting their part of the world – big or small. Therefore, I don’t expect my posts to be relevant or indeed interesting reading for everyone. If you do find my post boring, please simply skip over to the next post.

    I did not ask for an apology and certainly didn’t expect to receive one. So there is no need for it.

    Lets get on with life eh?

  311. 314 Shirley
    July 28, 2008 at 15:19

    The Cost of Living Calculator at http://www.bestplaces.net/col works even on dinosaur computers. I am rather impressed with the research that I have done.

    Lubna, are you ok?

  312. July 28, 2008 at 20:13

    @ Jonathan, Oil prices

    I wanted to answer this, but I was participating in my own private democracy all day yesterday.

    I encounter many people who want to apply elementary math to calculus problems. It is not as easy as 1+1=2. The questing to follow then should be, “why now are they using more oil, when in the past they had more people and they used little to no oil?” The answer to that question is the root of the problem and way more complex then simple math.

    The problem isn’t simple that “China is making more oil”. That has been said before and people see a simple solution of just producing more then. The problem is also that China is buying more oil because they are doing more of our work and gaining their own prosperity off what we used to do here in the US. This is reducing the value of our own dollar and causing us to fall further down the spiral. This is burning the candle at two ends at the very least. If we are going to come up with real solutions to our ailing economy we have to identify the root problems. That is something politicians from both sides refuse to do. There is not money in it I guess. What I would do to decrease oil consumption immediately is the following.

    1) Cut off Chinese imports. It would hurt this country in the immediate future, but like a diet, we would come out the other side healthier. What we would say to China and the rest of our trading partners, is this. “We in the US have moral standards about environmental standards, fair wages, human right, child labor, public health, and safety. Until your factories that send us goods meet these standards, then we will not accept your products.” This will of course make it less economically desirable for them to sell to us.

    2) Offer an economic stimulus package where people get immediate rebates for any authorized repair or upgrade to their car or home that reduces use of petroleum. $1500 for a tune-up or a more economical HVAC system for example.

  313. July 28, 2008 at 21:04

    I did mistype. It was 3am when I did it. It should have read “increasing supply will decrease the demand curve and the price will lower.” A decrease in supply moves the cost lower along the pricing curve. The belief among most “pro-drilling” people is the same. While Health and human services, which include social security, welfare, and disease research, is the biggest buget consumer, Defense is the biggest expenditure with the lowest ROI. The money is spent over seas on foregn governments, often the Americans that receive money from this budget do not have to pay taxes. Many of then do not spend their money in the US economy. Again it is more difficult then just saying, “This budget is bigger then that one.” Lately it isn’t even bigger by that much.

    If by saying we are increasing wealth, you mean that we had a 13 trillion dollar GDP increase, then that would take a lengthy explanation, way tooo lengthy. In it’s simplist terms, using GDP to determine wealth is saying “I’m rich because I have a good paying job”, but not taking into account how many other people around you are getting good paying jobs.

  314. 317 Bryan
    July 28, 2008 at 23:02

    Correction – At 11:51 pm yesterday I wrote, “‘96 Football World Cup.”

    Should have been 2006. There wasn’t a Football World Cup in 1996.

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