Suicide Circle

Internet kills nine in Japan,” by Gaijinbiker, Riding Sun, http://ridingsun.blogspot.com/2005/02/internet-kills-nine-in-japan.html, 6 February 2005.

Suicide Circle is most notable for toping Battle Royale‘s horror and bodycount in the first minute. Cliches about sadness aside, Japan is in the business of processing despair

The AFP reports on the latest in a string of group suicides in Japan:

Nine people were found dead in two cars outside Tokyo today in what were believed to be the latest in a series of macabre suicide pacts involving charcoal burners that have swept Japan.

…Nearly 50 people have died in similar suicides since early October.

Gaijinbiker, after exonerating the internet from blame, analyzes

Instead of blaming technology, we should be looking at why these folks are so depressed in the first place:

Suicide rates rose after the economy began to slump in the 1990s.

So, to get suicides down, Japan needs to get economic growth up. And while there are plenty of structural problems in Japan’s economy that need to be addressed, one thing that will help pull Japan out of its slump is the Internet.

Japan’s anemic economy is a moral crises. Nations can happily grow quickly or slowly, but when they stagnate they breed misery. Japan’s Prime Minister is a reformer, and his privatization and anti-agriwelfare reforms are promising. Let’s hope he can get Japan moving again before they have 1930s-level unemployment like their former ally.

Social Security Personal Accounts

Message to Congress,” by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, New Deal Network, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/32_f_roosevelt/psources/ps_socsecspeech.html, 5 February 2005 (from Sibby Online).

Another politican comes out in favor of personal accounts. His approach is simlar to President Bush’s, and rests on three principles: one, those at or near retirement should be protected; two: the current public social security system which will function as an old-age welfare payment; and three: personal accounts that should make up half of retirement income.

“In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities that in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.”

I think FDR’s on to something.

Update: No Illusions is on the story too.

Juan Cole’s Syphilis

Wolcott on Goldberg’s Language Competencies,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/02/wolcott-on-goldbergs-language.html, 5 February 2005.

PKA has described fanatical Bush hatred as a “syphilis.” Some Republicans caught a similar syphilis during the Clinton Presidency. “Syphilis” is a good description because of how the disease progresses. It can be caught and cured, allowing the person to lead a normal political life. Or it can fester unchecked, undermining a source’s credibility and destroying any hope for respect. I will try to post a guest editorial from PKA defining it as only he can.

Those Republicans who came down with it have largely recovered. Is there hope for Dr. Cole?

[National Review columnist Jonah] Goldberg helped send nearly 1500 brave Americans to their deaths and helped maim over 10,000, not to mention all the innocent Iraqi civilians he helped get killed. He helped dragoon [pertinent definition: to compel by violent measures or threats; coerce -- tdaxp] 140,000 US troops in Iraq. And he does not have the courage of his convictions. His excuse is that he couldn’t afford to take the pay cut!

What is Goldberg going to say to the tens of thousands of reservists he helped send to Iraq, who are losing their mortgages and small businesses and have been kidnapped for 18 months at a time (not what they thought they were signing up for) by Rumsfeld? “Well guys, thanks for carrying out the policy I wanted to see, and for putting your own little girls into penury. I’d have loved to help out, by my little girl is more important than yours and besides, I like a good meal and I hear you only get MREs.”

My uncle was a volunteer in Korea, and by President Truman’s order had his tour extended. He experienced dangerous enemies and an overseas military hospital. He’s been an anti-Truman Republican since, and still speaks bitterly of career officers and well-paid contractors. I imagine in his shoes I would feel the same way.

But he was not kidnapped and not dragooned. American, Korean, and “coalition” (at the time, United Nations) victims were not maimed by fellow Americans, and certainly not American columnists. They were injured and killed by the enemy. And he did not fight for a militarism that says only veterans may have political views.

Juan Cole is a good source of Iraqi election news and litle else. In his slanderous attack on fellow non-veteran Jonah Goldberg, Cole is an embarrassment.

But he’s not a killer.

Embargo Iran?

GE Will Halt New Business in Iran,” IranMania News, http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=29400&NewsKind=Business%20%26%20Economy, 5 February 2005.

I actually first heard this from Jack Welch on FNC.

Faced with political pressure over its business ties in Iran, General Electric Co said it would not accept any new business there, citing ‘uncertain conditions’ in the country, Reuters reported.

Senior management and the board decided in mid-December to discontinue taking new orders because of uncertain conditions relating to Iran,” said Gary Sheffer, executive director of communications and public affairs at GE.
Sheffer declined to elaborate on the meaning of ‘uncertain conditions’.

US politicians have been critical of American companies doing business in Iran through foreign subsidiaries, saying such methods violate the intention of trade sanctions against Iran.

In Bush’s Fifth State of the Union, he told the Iranian people “As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.Regime Change Iran saw this as showing a new U.S. foreign policy: focus on Tehran’s abuse of human rights to lead a boycott of that country, a thread that Critt Jarvis noted. Could this be a first step in that process?

I don’t think so. But the GE news threw me for a loop too. Whatever is happening, let’s hope it ends in a Tehran Orange Revolution.

Acquiring Network Address

My computer wouldn’t connect to the home network. It sees it just find, but hangs on “acquiring network address.” An hour of jiggering with various solutions, and nothing’s working. I reset the router, mess with the DHCP, restart miscellani, all to no effect.

Ultimately, in desperation I ran “Network Setup Wizard,” and it asked to restart. I clicked yes. Before it restarts it immediately connects to the network. This after an hour of work. All this for a machine that had previously been working on the same network weeks ago.

Windows XP is a very nice operating system, and Microsoft makes good products. As I tell my class, they make pretty good products that are pretty easy to use at a pretty good price. They are not the best in anything, but they are pretty good in everything.

But there’s still so far to go. Almost identical menus are strewn all across the Windows interface: some through control panels, some through the status bar, some through both, some through the help system.

2002 New HIV Diagnoses

CDC-NCHSTP-DHAP: HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report – Volume 14- Table 1,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/stats/hasr1402/table1.htm, 24 October 2003.

Want my Bone Marrow?,” Cracking my Vain Pot, http://vainpot.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/01/31/do_u_want_my_bone_marrow.html, 31 January 2005.

In a radically irresponsible tale of medical insanity and donated bone marrow, fellow blogspiriter “Cracked” writes

But whilst filling in our forms, a big-fond sentence stared back at me: People at risk of HIV.AIDS infection are not permitted to donate bone marrow. Need to guess what their definition of being at risk? Men having sex with other men.

BUT WHY?

Surely you HAVE to screen EVERYONE for all sort of nasty bugs before ANY transfusion, regardless of sexual preferences?! Is it NOT far more important to access to as many potential donors as possible? Surely str8 people get HIV too? Can’t RISK be redefined as “People engaged in unsafe sex”?

What if I AM that 1 in a 1,000,000 person who has the same HLA blood type as that Asian lymphoma kid on the poster?

I grieved not so much of the discrimination, as the good that I’d have done.

Now, considering new HIV cases look something like this

medium_2002_new_hiv_diagnoses.jpg

One might want to do some rational risk assessment. One might want to ponder how a statistically tiny minority can be so responsible for brining such a terrible plague to our shores. One might ponder through what measures the government has nearly obliterated transfusions as a source of HIV.

Or one might chose to push a political agenda.

Homosexuality is no more a “sin” that manic-depressiveness. It is not condemned in the Bible as it did not exist in biblical times. The “religious right’s” crusade against it is misguided, if ultimately useful.

But that does not distract from the need to stop a plague. And the plague must be stopped even if someone is offended or if someone’s feelings are hurt.