The past few days have been rife with busyness on the net side of things and there is a lot out there that just needs a bit more looking at. With any luck a high spot or two can be looked at.
First up is that wonderful study the The Lancet by Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, Les Roberts, and the extreme numbers of deaths caused in Iraq by warfare! Well, I really would like to see where they get those numbers from as there would be literal rivers of blood from such a thing as 700-some deaths per day leading up to 655,000 additional dead since 2003! That can be addressed by simple demographics which I hand to you from sites that have the 2002 estimates for Iraq and the 2006 estimates for Iraq. I have posted a bit of this elsewhere, but this is a somewhat better review of that work:
|(July 2002 est.)||(July 2006 est.)|
|0-14 years||41.1% (male 5,003,755; female 4,849,238)||39.7% (male 5,398,645/female 5,231,760)|
|15-64 years||55.9% (male 6,794,265; female 6,624,662)||57.3% (male 7,776,257/female 7,576,726)|
|65 years and over||3% (male 341,520; female 388,376)||3% (male 376,700/female 423,295)|
|Population growth rate||2.82%||2.66%|
|Birth rate||34.2 births/1000 population||31.98 births/1,000 population|
|Death rate||6.02 deaths/1000 population||5.37 deaths/1,000 population|
|at birth||1.05 male(s)/female||1.05 male(s)/female|
|under 15 years||1.03 male(s)/female||1.03 male(s)/female|
|15-64 years||1.03 male(s)/female||1.03 male(s)/female|
|65 years and over||0.88 male(s)/female||0.89 male(s)/female|
|total population||1.02 male(s)/female||1.02 male(s)/female|
|Infant mortality rate||57.61 deaths/1000 live births||48.64 deaths/1,000 live births|
|Life expectancy at birth total population||67.38 years||69.01 years|
|Life expectancy at birth female||68.5 years||70.31 years|
|Life expectancy at birth male||66.31 years||67.76 years|
|Total fertility rate||4.63 children born/woman||4.18 children born/woman|
Yes, you read that correctly. Population is up, overall death rate is down, infant mortality is down, life expectancy is up... in other words, it is a damn strange war that sees an increasing population, increasing life expectancy and that gives infants a better chance at starting life. Actually, couple that with the economics that I have looked at previously, and you come to the conclusion that Iraq has a growing economy, is modernizing, stabilizing its banking, employing more people, and giving them a much, much better quality of life, all the way around.
This is *not* to diminish terrorism in any way, shape or form. But the 'doom and gloom' and 'quagmire' mongers really must address these things: the United States is helping Iraq to stand on its own, take care of itself and, generally, get out of the normal conditions for the Middle East. Even the folks who continually cite the 30,000 number for dead due to the war want nothing to do with this, as Frank James at the Chicago Tribune reported on 11 OCT 2006. The real statistics, which have the terrorism problem *contained* in them show an entirely different story than this Lancet Study and absolutely contrary to the 'we are making things worse by staying in Iraq' folks.
Somehow the Mark Twain quote about comes to mind: 'There are three kinds of lie... lies, damn lies and statistics.' Actually statistics can be a useful tool for analysis, but must be properly implemented, reviewed and then any resultant analysis actually compared to trend lines in other areas. So demographics is a key area for Iraq, but so is the economy, employment, infrastructure and military capability. For two years these trend lines have ALL been positive with each showing a picture of Iraq that is NOT being portrayed by the very easily displayed pictures of bombs, wounded and people running around due to terrorism. What it does point to is that Iraq is standing up for *itself* and that it is being harshly targeted by those that wish it to FAIL and those folks are finding it harder to stop progress there. They do not stage well thought out or coordinated attacks: they are now in a 'use it or lose it' situation where large numbers of them are being fingered by the population and are now the subject for the New Iraqi Army and Police forces to get. Look at the MNF-Iraq website for such information in the press releases section. You can do your own gumshoe work there and your own police blotter reporting and find out for *yourself* the other part of conditions being seen in Iraq. Not just those parts you are *told* about on the 'news'.
Second up: Mastyrgate! Lovely names for such things... at this point I would prefer it to be seen as a hypocritical attempt to sway the election one way or another. Why hypocritical? First, anyone who complains about the *past* activities of members of Congress who actually serve the Congress or are Congress members should report such things in a timely manner. Meaning, to me at least, within ONE business day.
When one comes to serve Congress, you take an Oath to the Constitution and agree to follow it, the laws of the land and the rules set by Congress. Congress sets rules for ethics and treatment of staff members and other individuals serving the Congress as a whole. I looked at that previously and find the entire set of circumstances to be one that clearly indicts those that have been *sitting* on such information from months or YEARS to score political 'points' at an opportune time. Anyone doing such things that is serving Congress has a responsibility to the Nation FIRST, then to Congress, then to the Public, then to their peers and then, somewhere around hangnails, to their political party. That is your duty as a Citizen that you agree to by abiding by the Constitution ITSELF. You don't like that? Then perhaps you need to find a Nation that slides politics in front of the Nation, the laws of the land, good government, public accountability, ethics to ones peers and hangnails. Really, you don't want to be a Citizen of the Republic, you want the Republic to be *yours* and want to hold no allegiance to anyone but your own, petty agenda.
And to those gay activists that make the 'personal the political': where do YOU get off by determining for OTHERS what their agenda should be? And if you think the loss of sexual privacy is such a good thing, then perhaps we can extend *that* in full to your own life and *extend* it into the economic as well, just to make sure you are not making MONEY off of ruining the lives of others. Perhaps you can keep an ongoing record of your sexual thoughts and money transfers, so that we can find out if you are just shilling for sexual activity or truly enamored of it with *no* connections to other agendas in your life. You want people out of the 'closet'? Fine, then let us extend that beyond sexuality to YOU. Who set YOU up as the arbiter of what is and is not privacy? You are casting stones and living in glass houses... which may be arousing to you until the first stone comes *back*.
Third up: Googleyourtube. After experiencing how *well* Google does blogger, all I can say is that the folks at Youtube must be laughing their way to the bank. Take the money and run! We can expect one of the numerous competitors to Youtube to now start giving quality of service numbers, people served and such like that will be in a stark contrast to the mismanagement of Google that will be brought to Youtube. Expect things like telephone video sites and more personal-based sites for still images to start picking up the slack here. I stick with blogger as it was easy to learn and the pathway to moving one's posts is treacherous. Also, I am not up for trying to manage a fee-based site with all sorts of bells and whistles. Youtube, by being a thoroughly online affair, does *not* have that leniency and those things people expect from a good video hosting site will start to drop when Google gets its tendrils into it. Maybe the folks at tinypic.com can help pic that up as small video snippets can be uploaded there for... free. Open to *anyone* to find... just lovely, that.
Fourth up: North Korea and the magic Kingdom of Mr. Kim. It is starting to look like the 'empower Japan' movement is gaining traction and folks are starting to look at it seriously. Especially *in* Japan. After having written on this, all I can say is that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is dead. AQ Khan started the beginning of the end and now North Korea, with its own need for cash can start selling technology as it pleases. Ballistic Missile Defense is now a mandatory research topic for systems from ground based rocket or railguns to airbased lasers. The time for that is *now* and money into it is well spent. Point and small arc area defense systems are a start, but more deployable and capable systems are necessary. Look for a sea/ground/air interweaving using Next Gen Aegis technology to act as a binding for such things.
Fifth, and finally, Mr. Woodward's book rehashing many things and no longer seeming to be of much import. Let's just say that it has some toxic memes that need to be put to final rest.
What this all gets at: these October Surprises may not be something laudible. In point of fact, they point to the slow erosion of the entire political system of the United States.
And for that, fury only builds.