There is a recent article bemoaning the decline of English among British youth. The study mentioned in the article seems to be good research, and it's most important conclusion is that
The top 20 words used, including yeah, no, but and like, account for around a third of all words, the study says. Teenagers had a vocabulary of just over 12,600 words compared with the nearly 21,400 words that the average person aged 25 to 34 uses. Now on the first point, I'd have to say it's relatively meaningless. Larger studies of speech and writing in Britain show that 20 words make up about 1/3 of all our words anyway. In speech, the "Top 20" make up just under 1/3 of the total words (32%) and the written Top 20 makes up a similar 28% of all our written text. Nothing new or unusual here, move along.
According to the WordCount website, which says it bases its lists on the same research cited above (though if you click the links you'll see the lists are slightly different), the top 20 English words are: the, of, and, to, a, in, that, it, is, was, I, for, on, you, he, be, with, as, by & at.
That's 6 prepositions, 5 conjunctions, 4 pronouns, 3 be-verbs, and 2 determiners.
Now the second point about a reduced vocabulary I believe. This is because I think our exposure to written and spoken material is increasingly colloquial and entertainment rather than information driven. People also just read less now than they used to, and they are reading material that isn't particularly challenging or rich in language.
I don't know how I feel about it though. One one hand, I always dislike the tendency to artificially inflate language by using a lot of Latin/French words rather than Anglo-Saxon words, so maybe it's quite OK. On the other hand, a major advantage that English has is the richness and depth of its corpus.
I guess they should follow up in five or 10 years to see if the kids will know more words when they're older. Maybe these older adults learned a bunch of these words later on in life, at work or in their leisure and newspaper reading.
Dec 25, 2006
There is a recent article bemoaning the decline of English among British youth. The study mentioned in the article seems to be good research, and it's most important conclusion is that
Dec 19, 2006
White House, Joint Chiefs At Odds on Adding Troops (WaPo)
The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.Wow.
Dec 13, 2006
Check out the results of this poll:
|自己是台灣人 I am Taiwanese||自己是中國人 I am Chinese||自己是台灣人也是中國人 I am Taiwanese and Chinese||無答 No Answer|
|「獨立」對台灣前途比較好 Independence is better for Taiwan's future||「統一」比較好 Unification is better||「維持現狀」 Maintain the status quo||無答 No answer|
|「若現狀無法維持時，會選擇獨立或是統一？」 If there were no way to keep the status quo, would you pick independence or unification?|
|選擇獨立 Independence||選擇統一 Unification||維持現狀 Maintain Status-quo||無答 No answer|
|「擔不擔心台灣對中國大陸高度集中投資的現象，會對台灣的經濟發展有不利影響？」 Are you worried about Taiwan's high level of investment in the mainalnd will result in an unfavorable effect on Taiwan's economy?|
|「非常擔心」 Very worried||「有點擔心」 A little worried||「不太擔心」Not too worried||「一點也不擔心」 Not even a little worried||無答 No answer|
The survey also showed solid support for bringing in Chinese tourists, that 60% want the Chinese to talk to Taiwan's government and not just the KMT, and 60% think that Chinese actions toward Taiwan are more ill-intentioned than good-intentioned.
Now there are three things I want to point out here:
First, the number favoring the status quo is staggeringly low. How does this compare to previous years? If we look at this MAC poll, we find a little different break down because of a different question, so perhaps the 22% drop is a result of the different phrasing.
Second, notice that about 20% of people don't want to answer questions on either independence/unification question. Notice that between the first independence question (now) and the second (later), of the 24% of status quo-ers 6% still want a status quo (they must not have understood the question)), but the rest split almost evenly in each direction, for independence or unification (about 9% each way). The secretive respondants remains 20% in both cases. So which way do they lean? It seems that those people who prefer not to answer poll questions are more likely to lean green lately, but at worst it shold be about half and half. This makes the independence leaners a majority, and should give the KMT pause. Maybe they should change their name to Taiwan Kuo-min-tang after all and let the Taiwan-oriented faction have some prominence or time in the spotlight, even if they won't want to give up the party center.
Last, this shows that the country is headed toward a solid Taiwanese identity. I'm going to make an assumption that the 9.6% of people who don't answer question 1 at all fall into the "Chinese" or "Taiwanese/Chinese" catagory but don't want to say it. Let's say they split evenly. That leaves about 20% that say they're Chinese, 20% that says they're both, and 60% that just say their Taiwanese. Which is about the number that feel negatively about Chinese investment and the Chinese goverment's intentions. So I figure you're at 60% solid Taiwanese identity at this point.
One question seemed poorly designed. You could have as easly asked if a higher degree of investment in the mainland would be favorable to Taiwanese comanies and got a different answer.
Iraqi Army Plans for Wider Role in Security of Baghdad (NY Times)
Saudis Give a Grim What If Should U.S. Opt to Leave Iraq (NY Times)
White House to Delay Shift on Iraq Until ’07 (NY Times)
Army, Marine Corps To Ask for More Troops (WaPo)
These are the main 4 pieces of news coming out of Iraq today.
I'd say the likely direction things are going to take is for the Iraqis to continually call for more autonomy and control, and the Americans to become hesitant about it. Eventually, it could come to a vote in Iraqi parliament that sets its own timeline for American troop withdrawl and handing over of duties. That would give us few, if any options, and we might seriously consider clandestinly supporting a coup d'état. At least, I wouldn't rule it out given the new fault line that's being drawn even between this Iraqi government and the Americans. Imagine what happens if they have an internal power shift.
BBC also has a story today on the increasing exodus from Iraq. It isn't good news that we could *easily* see massive destabilization at this point in not only Iraq, but Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, especially considering the prospects of Saudi, Turkish and Iranian involvement in Iraq. This is starting to redefine what would constitute "spiraling out of control."
As for Taiwan, two great stories today: the first is about a dog that has been taught to sell betlenuts.
檳榔伯訓犬 母狗當西施 (自由)
Man teaches dog how to sell betel nuts (Liberty Times)
And the second story is that Liberty Times had such an accurate poll in Kaohsiung when everyone else was 10-20% off, the pan-blue media that had such bad polls is wanting to know their methodology and hinting that it's some kind of voter fraud.
Dec 12, 2006
善哉善哉 ! 弊在賂秦 ，聲名狼藉之國民黨該思之也。
Dec 11, 2006
Taliban and Allies Tighten Grip in North of Pakistan (NY Times)
This is bad of course. We don't need Talibanistan.
U.S. Report Rejected By Iraqi President (WaPo)
What can we do if they don't like our plans?
Iraq army weapons wind up on black market (NY Times via Seattle Times)
Not the first time, but it goes to show how hilariously self-destructive our efforts can be. It also makes it clear why we won't give the Iraqis tanks of their own or airplanes.
扁舉家搬到高雄？ 卓榮泰：看緣分 (東森)
扁搬家高雄 綠委擬提案遷都公投 (東森)
藍委：中央黨部 搬到南部 (中時)
提選舉訴訟 黃營兩項指證 都是烏龍 (自由)
避免拖到最後翻臉 民進黨決提前合併總統立委初選 (中時)
禍不單行! 橘委再爆出走 (民視)
選舉結束 批馬聲浪起 (民視)
台聯立委：除非解散 沒出走空間 (中時)
5席議員保不成 台聯黨主席蘇進強請辭 (民視)
Dec 9, 2006
Well, our green friend Chen Chu won in Kaohsiung, but Frank Hsieh has lost in Taipei. However, his performance was significantly better than Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) did in 2002 (he won only 35% of the vote). This means that 6 or 7% of people that voted for Ma last election went to vote for Frank Hsieh this time. not such great news for the KMT. So overall, a really good performance for the DPP in the face of all their recent troubles.
|投開票所 已送/應送：839 / 839||資料更新時間:19:25|
Taipei 台北 (still counting a few, will update when finished)
Houston suburb objects to mosque plans
By RASHA MADKOUR, Associated Press Writer Thu Dec 7, 2:24 PM ET
Hopefully these silly and paranoid and racist neighbors will get some sense sooner or later.
Written by 阿牛 on 12/09/2006
Taiwan Opposition Party Shows Strength in 2 Largest Cities (NY Times)
Taiwan second city's mayoral vote seen as bellwether (Reuters)
Taiwan cities vote for new mayors (BBC)
Taiwanese Vote in Mayoral Elections (AP)
China stays out of Taiwan's voting (Washington Post)
Youthful enthusiasm (Economist)
Dec 8, 2006
Uneasy Havens Await Those Who Flee Iraq (NY Times, Hassan M. Fattah)
The strain that immigrants are putting on Jordan and Syria is really quite large. About 3,000 Iraqis flee every day. Some cities in Syria and Jordan have seen a sudden explosion where now 1/3 of the people in a city are displaced Iraqis. It's affected rent and food prices and has started to make local populations uneasy. It's also starting to cause strains within the Shiite and Sunni communities of those countries. Egypt and Lebanon are feeling some hurt too.
This is a reminder of hwo far reaching the consequences of a little invasion can be.
Written by 阿牛 on 12/08/2006
Dec 7, 2006
林義雄出馬 挺北謝南菊 (自由時報記者邱燕玲)
國：林義雄為回鍋當黨主席 犧牲神主牌招牌 (中廣新聞網蔡佩芳)
弟一的報導好消息, 因為陳菊贏得上的可能性不夠高, 沒林義雄我猜他會輸給中國國民黨4-7%．
林義雄復出擔重責, 因為入黨參選黨主席必須要一年以上，我覺得民進黨為他修改黨章可能性滿低，弟二我不覺得他願意做黨主席, 連他要的話我相信他寧可先等阿扁下台才會這麼做．但是也要說，當然期待他出來幫忙．
Who cares about 游宋會 if it didn't happen? 真的得告人嗎?
Written by 阿牛 on 12/07/2006
Dec 5, 2006
As I Ponder'd in Silence
by Walt Whitman
As I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers.
Be it so, then I answer'd,
I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance
and retreat, victory deferr'd and wavering,
(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the
field the world,
For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I above all promote brave soldiers.
Written by 阿牛 on 12/05/2006
The troops have been reassigned by commanders, who have not sought additional combat troops to replace them. While the troops have not been through the special program for trainers set up by the military, they are working in their areas of expertise, commanders said.I suppose that's relatively positive news. They're focusing on Baghdad first, so let's see how that goes. I don't think it could help too much, but it seems like the right direction to take things.
Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American commander in the Middle East, told Congress last month that he envisioned doubling the number of American trainers, but senior military officers now say they are drawing up plans that would at least triple the number of troops assigned to training.
Blurring Political Lines in the Military Debate (NY Times News Analysis, Michael Gordon)
The stupid thing about this is that there was no rationale for the debate becoming bipolarized in the first place. With such a complicated and multifaceted issue, there was no reason for there to be "two sides." or for clear political lines. I think the Democrats demonstrated that pretty well, since they were unable to come to any particular conclusion and had 4-5 different takes you could hear regularly. So in otherwords, such blurring is long overdue. General Zinni, mentioned in the article, has written a report for the World Security Institute with his own ideas about how to improve Iraq.
Bush Urges Shiite Leader to Support Premier (NY Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg)
President Bush met Monday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of the most powerful Shiite leaders in Iraq, and urged him to “reject the extremists that are trying to stop the advance of this young democracy.”Well, obviously that can't be bad, but remember that said polititian is leader of SCIRI (The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) and has a major militia called the Badr Corps, and here's what their own website says:
SCIRI has secret cells all over Iraq which are involved in gathering information, media work and military activities. (now to the wiki article:) Its members have entered the new Iraqi army and police force en masse and gained virtual control of Iraq’s Interior Ministry. Currently based in and around Karbala, the Badr Organization effectively rules that city and other parts of southern Iraq.And in a related article (Iraqi Shiite Leader Speaks Bluntly in Washington, WP, Robin Wright and Peter Baker) we see the following quotation:
"The strikes [the insurgents] are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts, but leave them to stand up again to resume their criminal acts," Hakim said in a speech at the United States Institute of Peace. "This means that there is something wrong in the policies taken to deal with that danger threatening the lives of Iraqis."
The only way to eliminate the danger of a civil war, he added, was through "decisive strikes" against insurgents once loyal to former leader Saddam Hussein. "Otherwise we'll continue to witness massacres . . . against innocent Iraqis."
So yeah. Moving on:
This is definitely bad news fro me, if they learn well enough. Or perhaps good news, if I'm always on the more experienced end of this coming wave of people competing for my job.
NASA Plans Permanent Moon Base (NY Times, Warren E. Leary)
That sounds pretty cool.
U.S. Army Battling To Save Equipment; Gear Piles Up at Depots, Awaiting Repair (WP, Ann Scott Tyson)
Well obviously that's no good.
Lawyers Demand Release of Chinese Muslims; Court Documents Allege Lengthy Detainment at Guantanamo Is Part of Deal With Beijing (WP, Josh White)
Possibly true, possibly some good just good lawyering.
House to Consider Abortion Anesthesia Bill; Conservatives Vow More Tests for Democrats on Social Issues When Congress Returns (WP, Jonathan Weisman)
See, that's just like them, to wait until they're almost out of power to try that crap. By the way, where do they get off making scientific declarations as the basis for a law? The whole topic is still hotly debated by doctors, but Congress wants to require the doctor to say there is "substantial evidence" the fetus would feel pain. Still, it's politically quite smart, as the article points out, because it will divide the Democratic caucus.
In a parting gesture by social conservatives before Republicans relinquish control, House leaders plan to bring up a bill tomorrow that would declare that fetuses feel pain and require abortion providers to offer pregnant patients anesthesia for their unborn child.
Offering Video, Israel Answers Critics on War (NY Times, Greg Myre)
Israel’s military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack.I'm a bit blown away by this, since it seems perfectly obvious that Hezbollah would do that (and it is a war crime, btw), and since it cannot possibly justify the destruction of whole neighborhoods, buildings with large numbers of civilians, land mine planting or cluster bomb dropping. The Israeli military also takes cover at civilian sites or uses human shields while operating in Gaza and the West Bank. Those war crimes are all well documented.
Dec 4, 2006
Report Faults Training of Afghan Police (NY Times, JAMES GLANZ and DAVID ROHDE)
Five years after the fall of the Taliban, a joint report by the Pentagon and the State Department has found that the American-trained police force in Afghanistan is largely incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement work, and that managers of the $1.1 billion training program cannot say how many officers are actually on duty or where thousands of trucks and other equipment issued to police units have gone.
In fact, most police units had less than 50 percent of their authorized equipment on hand as of June, says the report, which was issued two weeks ago but is only now circulating among members of relevant Congressional committees.
In its most significant finding, the report said that no effective field training program had been established in Afghanistan, at least in part because of a slow, ineffectual start and understaffing.
I think last time I checked, training security forces and getting them equipment would be pretty much the single most important parts of providing security for a large, mountainous country facing prospects of warlordism and resurgent Taleban. Yeah, yeah, after a double check that's still the case.This just reinforces the case that we would have been a lot better off trying to do Afghanistan right before running nose first into Iraq. What the hell is wrong with the people in charge of planning? Was it really so hard to see that we needed to do a lot more planning, ground work, and then actually improvement in at least one of the two countries we invaded?
Here's the Iraq round up lately:
Rumsfeld Memo Proposed ‘Major Adjustment’ in Iraq (NY Times, MICHAEL R. GORDON and DAVID S. CLOUD)
Memo Text (NY Times)
Annan Calls Iraq Situation 'Dangerous' (AP in WP)
Baathists Demand U.S. Exit From Iraq (AP in Guardian)
Bush Is Weighing Options for New Strategy in Iraq, Aide Says; Hadley Says Previously Rejected Ideas Are on Table, Including Suggestions in Rumsfeld's Memo (WP, Charles Babington)
Dec 1, 2006
Iraq Panel to Urge Pullout Of Combat Troops by '08 (Washington Post, By Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks)
Well, that's more specific than yesterday's NY Times scoop. But let's see... 1) I don't think they're really saying much at all, except to transfer all responsibilities ASAP, which as far as I know was the plan all along; 2) They suggest not withdrawing but escalating if the situation deteriorates, which I think it will, and I don't know if that's the right solution; and 3) A reduction of half sounds better than nothing, but I'm not sure if it would be enough.The panel included a significant caveat for the 2008 goal for troop withdrawals by recommending that commanders should plan to pull out combat units by then unless "unexpected developments" make them decide that such a move would be unwise, the sources said. Still, they said, the plan would put the onus on U.S. commanders to try to meet the goal or explain why they failed to.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday. [...]
Although it was not clear how many U.S. troops would be left in Iraq by 2008, some people knowledgeable about the commission's deliberations have said that it might be possible to reduce the force of 140,000 to half by then. "There'll still be a presence there that will be significant just because of the nature of embedded forces," said one of the sources familiar with the commission's report. "It won't be what we have now, I'll tell you that."
And add to that. . .
Iraqi forces 'ready by mid-2007' (BBC)
According to a transcript released by ABC in advance of the broadcast, Mr Maliki outlined a plan to transfer security control to the Iraqi army.Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the occupation. I wonder what it means for Iraq.
"At the beginning of next year we will increase the training of our forces... when they reach an acceptable level, we can talk about transferring power from multinational forces to Iraqi forces.
"I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," he said.
Nov 30, 2006
Majority of Americans Believe Iraq Is in 'Civil War', Poll Finds (WSJ)
My majority they mean 68%. Only 14% said it was not a Civil War and 18% aren't sure.
I hope this will settle this debate.
7 Million in U.S. Jails, on Probation or Parole (AP)
A record 7 million people - or one in every 32 American adults - were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday....I mean, wow. Do we really need to be putting all those people in jail? I think not.
Racial disparities among prisoners persist. In the 25-29 age group, 8.1 percent of black men - about one in 13 - are incarcerated, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men. And it's not much different among women. By the end of 2005, black women were more than twice as likely as Hispanics and over three times as likely as white women to be in prison.
Authors Urge 'Ethical Realism' in Foreign Policy (NPR, by John Ydstie)
Explosive violence in Iraq and Afghanistan has generated intense discussion about U.S. foreign policy. In a new book, two scholars say America's strategy in emerging democracies and elsewhere is flawed because it's based on idealism and moral imperatives.This seesm to me to be a relatively straightforward analysis that is nto very dogmatic and has a great point to it. They call for an Iraqi partition, which doesn't seem very realistic to me.
"That doesn't mean that we don't see the United States as a force for good in the world," says John Hulsman, co-author with Anatol Lieven of Ethical Realism. "That doesn't mean we don't see the United States as anything less than the first among equals for the foreseeable future. It does mean it's imperative you work with allies. And it's important to have humility at the basis of what you do because that leads to prudence and that leads to a foreign policy that's sustainable in the long run."
Moving on ...
Why 'Islamofascism' May Create New U.S. Enemies (NPR's Guy Raz)
I think the word was clearly a political ploy to get people to associate these guys with Nazis. And that's just silly.
國務費案遭起訴 吳淑珍遭民進黨停權一年半 (中央社記者黃瑞弘)
羅文嘉批扁 民進黨轟忘恩負義(中國時報記者: 林晨柏、曾薏蘋、林諭林)
DPP members pan Luo (Taipei Times)
邱毅爆料文件 移民專家：疑點多 (TVBS)
邱毅爆料 綠委：馮京當馬涼 (自由時報)
邱毅指陳致中證件造假 再提誣告並求償三億 (中央社記者黃名璽)
Chiu Yi claims president's son plans to acquire green card, emigrate to US (Taipei Times)
President's son suing Chiu Yi for defamation (China Post)
紅衫軍搬新家 更接近總統府 (聯合報記者李志德)
紅衫軍搬家 宋致意被嗆 (自由時報)
The red shirts moved to a new place. Great.
密會馬幕僚 AIT憂心馬領導危機 (中時記者:蕭旭岑) 我想這個的是亂報
美國防部長提名人蓋茲：美須軍事預備 抵禦中國攻台 (自由時報張沛元)
Bush's nominee for defense chief says U.S. must be ready to resist if China attacks Taiwan (AP)
Gates: U.S. must help if China attacks Taiwan (Airforce Times)
Written by 阿牛 on 11/30/2006
The Wronged Man (Washington Post)
Unjustly Imprisoned and Mistreated, Khaled al-Masri Wants Answers the U.S. Government Doesn't Want to Give
Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, November 29, 2006; Page C01, RICHMOND, Nov. 28
I would like to point out that this essentially amounts to the point that says: if the state is threatened, in a real verifiable way or in a perceived way, then the state should be able to do whatever it wants to take care of itself. It doesn't matter who you trample on.... Dressed in white shirt sleeves and a modest maroon vest, Masri is waiting to see if the judges will allow the CIA to disappear [his case].
Khaled al-Masri was supposed to have been disappeared by black-hooded CIA paramilitaries in the dead of night. One minute he was riding a bus in Macedonia, the next -- poof -- gone. Grabbed by Macedonian agents, handed off to junior CIA operatives in Skopje and then secretly flown to a prison in Afghanistan that didn't officially exist, to be interrogated with rough measures that weren't officially on the books. And then never to be heard from again -- one fewer terrorist in the post-9/11 world.
... [The CIA argues], citing the state-secrets privilege, that to proceed with the case would damage national security and that this damage outweighs any legal rights Masri may have.
This is the same argument that has been used and which is continually used to keep information classified (even though the real purpose is only to protect people who made unacceptable authorizations and orders), to intern Japanese in internment camps (Wiki-- In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion, removal, and detention, arguing that it is permissible to curtail the civil rights of a racial group when there is a "pressing public necessity"), to do just about anything that's clearly unconstitutional. And there simply isn't and never was a good enough reason. The system rests on the proposition that rights guaranteed in the constitution are not granted by the government, but natural rights that nobody may be deprived of.
This is related to another article:
Iranian President Makes Direct Appeal to Americans (Washington Post)
In an unusual letter to the American people, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday called for the pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq and charged that Bush administration policy is based on "coercion, force and injustice."Leaving aside that the Iranian president has no room to make such criticism, the thing is he's right-- about the policy based on coercion, force, and injustice. It is the basis of how all states operate. They coerce their people into various degrees of obedience, even for idiotic laws,
The five-page letter, which was both conciliatory in references to "Noble Americans" and scathing in lambasting Jewish influence in the United States, said there is an urgent need for dialogue between Iranians and Americans because of the "tragic consequences" of U.S. intervention abroad.
always with the threat of their legal monopoly on force in the background.
I think the reactions on all sides to this will be quite interesting. Especially if it's rather unclear what exactly they mean.
...The report recommends that Mr. Bush make it clear that he intends to start the withdrawal relatively soon, and people familiar with the debate over the final language said the implicit message was that the process should begin sometime next year.
The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force....“I think we’ve played a constructive role,” one person involved in the committee’s deliberations said, “but from the beginning, we’ve worried that this entire agenda could be swept away by events.”
路透社沒有紐約時報的消息 , 就是說伊拉克研究小組的共識包括折返美軍.被翻譯以後 , 你可以用 "伊拉克研究小組" 在Yahoo上亦或在Google News上來找報到. "折返" 是拉回到伊拉克國內的美軍總部,還是到美國內, 還是到中東地區的美軍總部 , 都還不清楚.
伊總理突然取消與布什高調晚宴 (香港文匯報) 分析：伊拉克政府緣何禍起蕭牆 (新華網)
美質疑伊總理能力 (多維新聞 ) 特稿﹕伊總理為何突然取消與布什的晚宴 (多維新聞)
Written by 阿牛 on 11/30/2006
Nov 29, 2006
Officials from Chen's [A-bian's] ruling Democratic Progressive Party or DPP have urged him to summon son Chen Chih-chung and his wife home from the United States before she gives birth in two to three months — or risk losing the remaining shreds of his popularity.Well, I just wonder-- on exactly what authority does anyone have a right to go and tell him to come back to Taiwan? He is not a politician and it's his life now. Leave him alone and don't politicize a pregnancy, please. Do you really think A-bian would run to America to live? Come on.
Update: see what has been said by Lin I-hsiung?
國務機要費 林義雄：好好檢討，扁孫是美國人沒關係 (ET Today 東森新聞報)
"A-bian has a lot of explaining to do on the state affairs fund; A-bian having an American grandson doesn't matter."
Written by 阿牛 on 11/29/2006
Nov 27, 2006
"Subhūti, that which is called the buddhadharma is not the buddhadharma."
The Buddha feared that those who had just resolved to be bodhisattvas (Buddhists), and who had heard that all the Buddha and his dharma could be found in this sutra, would also cling to this sutra; so he immeidately told Subhūti, "that which is called the buddhadharma is not the buddhadharma." This is to say: although all the Buddhas during their practice can leave behind forms, realize perfect knowledge, and realize correct universal intelligence, they still know in their heart that there is no Buddhist path to accomplish, now knowledge to be obtained. It is as the Perfect Enlightenment Sutra states: "All true enlightenment and the most wonderful of hearts, know that there is no bodhi or nirvana, there is no becoming a Buddha or not becoming a Buddha, no unreal reincarnation and no real reincarnation. However, in common understanding cause and effect has a form and it says: this is only buddhadharma. (In other words,) if we speak in line with the reasoning of the noble truths: the perfect knowledge, proven by the buddhadharma, is already very distant from all forms, it is unattainable, unspekable, and should not be grasped at. If one grasps at a Buddha to become, or at a dharma or doctrine that could be attained, then this "is not" the true "buddhadharma."
The Buddha first says that practicing the dharma will bring prosperity and improvement, that one can leave life and become a Buddha, in order to drive away (the thought of) emptiness; he then says the the buddhadharma is not the buddhadharma, in order to drive away (the thought of) existence. The goal is to cause people to understand that in the concept of cause and effect in ordinary or worldly truth says: there is the common and the holy, the confused and the enlightened, a cause and an effect, practice and revelation; can one throw away the idea of cause and effect and fall into (the idea of) emptiness? But the categories of (true) reality state: All dharmas are by nature pure; originally no one thing existed; from where could the holy and the common, confusion or enlightenment, contamination or purity, cause and effect come from? Is there really a form to grasp at? And in this way emptiness denies two different things, the absolute and relative truth are resolved, and one can finally begin to follow the middle path. This use of negating different things in the passages below such as "this name," make obvious the logic of the unity of the three doctrines.*
Subhūti said to the Buddha: "World Honored One. When the buddhas attain peerless perfect enlightenment, is it the case that actually nothing is attained?"
"Exactly right. Subhūti, as far as peerless perfect enlightenment is concerned, I have not attained the slightest thing. This is why it is called peerless perfect enlightenment."
English of Diamond Sutra translated by A.C. Muller; commentary (written by Rev. Sik, Man Chu) translated by me.
* To quote Soothill, the three dhogmas can be explained thus: "三諦 The three dogmas (空假中). ... (a) by 空 śūnya is meant that things causally produced are in their essential nature unreal (or immaterial) 實空無; (b) 假, though things are unreal in their essential nature their derived forms are real; (c) 中; but both are one, being of the one 如 reality.
Written by 阿牛 on 11/27/2006
問：持名念佛，即為多善根，多福德，有何聖教為證？答：...大莊嚴論云：佛世一老人，來求出家，舍利弗等諸大弟子，觀其多劫無有善根，俱不肯度。於是老人悲傷更切，啼泣不已。佛告大眾，此人可度，無量劫前，為採薪人，猛虎逼極，大怕上樹，稱南無佛；以此善根成熟，遇我得度，當證道果。此即持名多善根之明證也。 ... 又大品般若經云：若人散心念佛，亦得離苦，其福不盡，況定意念。...
Written by 阿牛 on 11/27/2006
Following the bombing in the Shiite slum of Sadr City, a lot of bad things have happened.
Al-Sadr loyalists took over a TV station. A crowd stoned the Prime Minister's convoy. A US military base caught fire thanks to mortars. The US figures the Iraqi insurgency can fund itself. And the UN reveals that Israel set mines in Lebanon during the last conflict, on top of the maybe one million cluster bombs. And on an unrelated note, the theft of polonium 210 and other weapons grade radioactive material is not encouraging.
Jordanian King Abdullah has made the observation that the region faces the prospect of three very destabalizing civil wars. This is, i think, a rational analysis deserving of some very immediate attention since all three situations are actually pretty close to the brink. This is of course in addition to the very strong possibility of Turkish intervention in Iraq's Kurdish north, (which could inspire Iranian entry or the entry of several neighboring countries).
On the positive side: The Israeli/Palestinian truce is mostly holding for now, and Israeli PM Olmert has said he's willing to do prisoner exchange and come to a comprehensive peace. I believe he is sincere on the first point, but I'm not sure about the second. Also, the upcoming report by the Iraq Study Group is likely to suggest that the US talk to Syria and Iran about how to stabalize the situation, but I'm not convinced either of them can really do much. I believe TIME is right to suggest Iraq is spinning out of anybody's control, even militia leaders'.
Nov 21, 2006
Let's not forget that Kissinger knows what he's talking about when to talk to dictators, when to try to get them on your side, and when to wholeheartedly (if secretly) support them. Anything I would say here would be uninteresting in comparison.
【美聯社倫敦十九日電】達成越戰和談的前美國國務卿季辛吉19日接受英國國家廣播公司(BBC)電視專訪時表示，美軍在伊拉克已不可能獲得軍事上勝利，但他也不贊成迅速撤軍，認為最好透過國際斡旋，與伊拉克鄰國伊朗等展開對話，才是解決之道。Kissinger: Iraq Military Win Impossible
Nov 20, 12:44 AM (ET)
By TARIQ PANJA
LONDON (AP) - Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday.
Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq's regional neighbors - including Iran - if progress is to be made in the region.
"If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.
Nov 20, 2006
倫斯斐遭伊蘭橋美國公民卡爾 (Cyrus Kar)的起訴
Cyrus Kar, American-veteran and Iranian American, suing Rumsfeld for wrongful imprisonment and the violation of his Constitutional rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union of California filed the federal lawsuit in July on behalf of Cyrus Kar, 45, of Los Angeles. It alleges the filmmaker's detention violated his civil rights, the Geneva Convention and the law of nations. Defendants include Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other military officials.Raw Story version, with video link and a transcript.
In response to the lawsuit, U.S. attorneys cautioned the court to carefully consider getting entangled in military operations overseas and said Kar cannot challenge the government's policies without "a realistic threat that he will again be subject to detention in Iraq by the United States military officers."
Feds seeking to dismiss the suit.
Nov 18, 2006
By Max Hirsch
Saturday, Nov 18, 2006, Page 2
Seventy percent of elementary students nationwide are afraid of being abducted, with 54 percent fearing that they will accidentally plunge to their deaths from high-rise apartments. ...Wow. There can't possibly be that many kidnappers and falls from apartments. The abuse can't possibly help. But this makes me think of how the kids are probably scared because tehir parents always tell them to worry about those things. Just like the kids who become scared of dogs because their parents always say they'll get bitten by a dog.
In addition to widespread fears among youth about falling prey to kidnappers or accidents in the home, the survey also indicated that 21 percent of children are regularly struck by their parents, with 19.3 percent often sustaining injuries at home.
Written by 阿牛 on 11/18/2006
Looks like I'm not the only one who wanted a google brain implant. But Stu Wolf of DARPA has an even better idea.
Stu Wolf, one of the top scientists at Darpa, the Pentagon's scientific research agency which gave birth to the Internet, seriously believes we'll all be wearing computers in headbands within 20 years.
By that time, we'll have super fast, super tiny computers that make today's machines look like typewriters. The desktop will be dead, says Wolf, and the headband will dominate.
"We already know we can trigger neurons mechanically," he says. "You can interact directly with the brain without implanted electrodes. Then the next step is being able to think something and have it happen: Flying a plane, driving a car, operating household machinery."
Controlling devices with the mind is just the beginning. Next, Wolf believes, is what he calls "network-enabled telepathy" - instant thought transfer. In other words, your thoughts will flow from your brain over the network right into someone else's brain. If you think instant messaging is addictive, just wait for instant thinking.
Awesome! Now combine this with the knowledge that soon we won't need tethered power supply for short distances and the upcoming e-paper (so that you can can electronically and wierlessly send and receive data that isn't so easy to think about) and the whole world is really transformed in an awesome way. The information won't even be at our fingertips anymore; we'll just have it almost in our heads already. It's going to kick ass.
Nov 17, 2006
What do they think they're doing?
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A Nevada town passed a law this week making itThese people certainly do not deserve to be on a city council. What a
illegal to fly a foreign nation's flag by itself, the latest swipe by
a U.S. community at illegal immigrants.
The town council of Pahrump, which lies in the Mojave Desert west
of Las Vegas, voted 3-2 on Tuesday to make flying any foreign flag
above the U.S. flag or alone an offense punishable by a $50 fine and
30 hours' community service.
The meeting also pushed through measures to deny services to
illegal immigrants and make English the official language in Pahrump,
a commuter town of 40,000 residents some 60 miles (97 km) west of Las
bunch of losers. Not to mention that Stromberg v. California already
ruled that you can't restrict display of a flag. That decision ruled
the following California unconstitutional:
1919 California Penal Code, § 403a Any person who displays a redAnd did the Pahrump city council pass this ordinance because of
flag, banner or badge or any flag, badge, banner, or device of any
color or form whatever in any public place or in any meeting place or
public assembly, or from or on any house, building or window as a
sign, symbol or emblem of opposition to organized government or as an
invitation or stimulus to anarchistic action or as an aid to
propaganda that is of a seditious character is guilty of a felony.
dangerous dissent? No. Rather because,
All of the illegal alien protesters are waving Mexican flags, and百藍坡獨尊英語 民權及移民團體關注
we just got tired of it," town board clerk Paul Willis told Reuters in
a telephone interview.
"This is the United States, and the Stars and Stripes should fly
supreme," he added.
Nov 16, 2006
Wikipedia ban lifted in China! Except for seaches for sensative words like "Taiwan Independence," "June 4" and other such topics.
Activity on nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation's Chinese Wikipedia site has skyrocketed since its release, which Internet users in China first started reporting on Nov. 10. Since then, the number of new users registering to contribute to the site has exceeded 1,200 a day, up from an average of 300 to 400 prior to the unblocking. The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before, with the total now surpassing 100,000, according to the foundation.
Written by 阿牛 on 11/16/2006
若一日，至若七日，乃是剋期取證。 ... 剋期念佛，纔經一日，即能一心不亂，入於三昧。梵語三昧譯云正定。 ...剋期念佛，經於七日，一心不亂，常住三昧之中。 ...
本經宗要，即在一心不亂一句，此句為念佛工夫之極則。 ... 心佛一如，能所不二。寂而常照，照而常寂。 ...
Carville says Dems should dump Dean over "Rumsfeldian incompetence"
. . . come again?
Carville, during coffee and rolls with political reporters today, said Democrats could have picked up as many as 50 House seats, instead of the nearly 30 they have so far.
The reason they didn’t, he said, is the Democratic National Committee did not spend some $6 million it could have put into so-called “third tier” House races against vulnerable Republicans.
Mr. Carville please bring me some of that so we can smoke it together next time. Don't be a hog.
This brings me to a point I've been wanting to make for a while though, which is that I give Dean a lot more credit for the upset with his 50 state strategy and his spending in traditionally "lost cause" districts and states. And let's remind the Democrats of their promises: honest government, real security, energy independence, economic prosperity, affordable healthcare, retirement security, protecting our environment, civil rights and justice, election reform.
That's a tall order.
Nov 15, 2006
Three suggestions for the Democratic Progressive Party:
第一：已終於目標為重 (1) Consider the main goal.
The main goal is for Taiwanese self-determination and Taiwanese democracy to become mature. To accomplish this goal, the party can do anything. A-bian (President Chen Shui-bian) himself can't compare to this goal. Cutting your losses in this case is worthwhile.
第二：慮選舉 (2) Consider the elections.
2007 and 2008 are the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)'s last hope. If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) can beat them again, then the KMT will be forced to localize. If the KMT loses and can't sell out Taiwan's self-determination on a platform of "No independence, no war," then they will have to let that go for the next election.
第三：保護民進黨之乾淨形象 (3) Protect the DPP's clean image.
The DPP won their elections because people felt they had a clean image. If you let go of this impression, then there's no hope.
The New York Times is running a piece (Get Out Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say) which basically makes the point that Democratic plans to put pressure on the Iraqi government by starting a phased withdrawl won't work since Maliki doesn't have any ace up his sleeve in terms of exercising control. If our troops leave, they don't have anything to put in place short of Shiite militias who might engage in wholesale ethnic cleansing. The alternative presented is something like:
Before considering troop reductions, General Batiste said, the United States needs to take an array of steps, including fresh efforts to alleviate unemployment in Iraq, secure its long and porous borders, enlist more cooperation from tribal sheiks, step up the effort to train Iraq’s security forces, engage Iraq’s neighbors and weaken, or if necessary, crush the militias.
Indeed, General Batiste has recently written that pending the training of an effective Iraqi force, it may be necessary to deploy tens of thousands of additional “coalition troops.” General Batiste said he hoped that Arab and other foreign nations could be encouraged to send troops.
Well that's a fair and reasonable sounding argument, I think. But you've got the following issues. Unemployment can't be helped because useful, job creating investment is almost zeron because the security situation is so dire, going to work is dangerous; securing the border is almost impossible anyway because of the size, and if all the army was over there they wouldn't be fighting the insurgants; we have no sway with tribal sheiks and are unlikely to start developing much now; Iraq's security forces are almost hopelessly sectarian, tied to militias and unwilling to fight outside their home area; and many Shiite ilitias are so tied to the government, there's no chance they'll be dismantled The prime minister's body guards are militia members, for God's sake.The real insight he has is that to make the situation better, we'd need maybe tens of thousands of mroe troops. The fact is that our military manpower on the ground is inadequate and we can't really train enough Iraqis to do better as long as the situation is so insecure and tons of recruits are being blown up all the time. Arabs sending troops would be great in our mind, but something the Iraqis fear and which may not help at all if they become partisan and get dragged into the war.
But I agree that if we want to have a chance of breaking somewhat even on this invasion, we need to send in more troops. A lot more troops. Troops we don't have. And which others are unlikely to provide, and who we won't (and shouldn't) draft to get either. We certainly aren't winning, and if we pull out now, who knows how bad it will get. Of course, if we send in more guys or pull in neighbors, who knows how bad it will get. It's just a messy situation.
This talk on immigration issues brings up an issue related to the last post, and I consider this very good news.
Dem Congress may scrap border fence
I think one of the more convincing reasons-- to those who would support it-- to oppose this plan had to do how it affects Americans.
Border Fence Plan Worries Texas Ranchers
Let's home the Democrats also manage to pass some comprehensive immigration reform and get a reasonable guest worker program.
Downriver in Brownsville, where the jalapeno and lima bean fields run down to the water's edge, farmer Fermin Leal is wondering whether the government intends to cut through his crops, run irrigation pipes under the fence, or buy him out.
"Most of our land goes up to what's supposed to be the border, and yes, we need access to river water," Leal said.
Farmers Branch council OKs illegal-immigration measures (Farmers Branch, TX)
Council Passes English Only Measure (Taneytown, MD)
These headlines are sad to me and make one cultural difference between the U.S. and Taiwan really stand out. In the U.S., the right wing seems to have the following expectations:
- adults moving to America should all learn English.
- children of immigrants should enter English only education.
- immigrants should basically culturally assimilate in terms of food and some habits, such as number of people living together and standards of politeness.
In contrast, in Taiwan, I am not expected to know Chinese (people are shocked if you do). I am not expected to like Chinese food. I am not expected know how to use chopsticks. I am not expected to know anything about culture-- people will automatically forgive me for doing something impolite just because I'm a foreigner. Even the police are willing to let foreigners go for driving without a license because its just too much trouble to deal with them.
And while these sorts of privilges are greater for Western foreigners, the whole tone of discussion is different. For example, many Asian foreigners such as Thai or Vietnamese marry Taiwanese here, and there is concern that their kids aren't learning enough Mandarin in school and are isolated. But the concern is entirely about them, the kids who are becoming socially isolated or not learning enough skills to do well in the future. There's no resentement about them taking away from Taiwan's culture or country.
Some of these points are related to an article I read in the weekly Taiwanease by a foreigner with similar experiences. But I think they bear repetition and emphasis at this time.
Why can't a country as huge as America, with an immigrant culture, be more tolerant about these things?
Nov 14, 2006
2006/11/14 21:51 東森新聞記者倪鴻祥／台北報導
還不知道這樣的情況有甚麼效果 ... 我希望這個案子最後會讓馬無法參選。重點在於讓一個本土黨在贏，讓中國國民黨在哭累了。如果中國國民黨三次連續地輸，他們才會本土化。
台北市政府秘書長李述德14日晚間臨時對外說明，最近清查馬英九市長特別費單據核銷過程，發現其中一名已調職的前承辦科員取巧，拿金額較大的本人及他人發 票，代替原先零星發票，核銷市長特別費，時間長達3年6個月，貪圖省事核銷總金額約80萬元；該名前承辦員已函送檢調單位偵辦。 ...On a related note, there's a good Washington Post article on Pelosi backing Murtha for House majority leader, and the rather shocked reaction some people have:
The article goes on to mention a lot of specifics, such as contracts that were given to a company that happened to be one of Marta's biggest contributors and happened to employ his brother as a consultant. It also mentions Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW, a Democratic-leaning group that was shocked by Pelosi's decision.
By Jonathan Weisman Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, November 14, 2006; Page A01
Pelosi (D-Calif.) directly intervened in the heated contest between Murtha (D-Pa.) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) on Sunday by circulating a letter to Democratic lawmakers. The letter voiced her support for Murtha and put her prestige on the line in a closely fought leadership battle. Some Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups say they are baffled that Pelosi would go out of her way to back Murtha's candidacy after pledging to make the new 110th Congress the most ethical and corruption-free in history.
Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha's involvement 26 years ago in the FBI's Abscam bribery sting.
I just want the Dems to do a good job here, so I hope they don't humiliate themselves in anyway.
Nov 13, 2006
When the Iraq war started, I was not at all a fan. Not because I didn't think Saddam had weapons or a weapons program; in any event, most everyone thought he at least had a program and Saddam was spreading false information because he felt an image of a strong Iraq would actually prevent an American invasion. At the time, I didn't like the oil argument either, since it seemed that there was not a great deal of reason to undergo such a massive operation just to get our hands on oil they would already sell to us at about the same rate as they could produce it.
I didn't like the idea of going to war because it seemed like we were taking on an impossible task. It was a massive country, cobbled and held together with an iron fist. I didn't see us being able to transform it into a peaceful democratic regime, especially with what passed for our plan. I thought we'd get another Vietnam-- a constantly escalating war that did nothing but harm our national security.
After the war started, the press started talking about Shiites and Sunnis. Then it became clear that the public had on the whole missed a rather large chunk of this equation until it was too late. And it also became clear that every Middle East state had been quite clear on this divide and what it would mean not only for holding Iraq together, but how it could expand sectarian conflict in their own countries.
I remember thinking before the war that the Middle Eastern states who said we were doing it for oil maybe didn't understand Bush's personal convictions or were acting a bit paranoid when it came to the oil.
Now I think that to those government officials in Egypt, Turkey or Kuwait who know we weren't doing it to declare war on Islam, it was at the very least so obvious that this Iraq thing could only end badly for everyone, and they figured we must want something a lot to justify the invasion. Something valuable. Something that many foreign countries, including our own, have made every effort to control since it became useful-- often using military means, sometimes just propping up unpopular people would want to sell us as much as they could. And they came to the conclusion that oil was the only item which might logically explain the invasion.
It seems that they were right all the way around, at least on what would happen if we invaded Iraq. And we won't get either our stated or unstated goals: not a safer middle east, not a democratic beacon, not a more friendly government sitting on Iraq's oil reserves. . . probably we'll all just be in worse shape for it. And I dont' see much of a way to fix it.