Monthly Archives: June 2005

War Crimes Act of 1996

Did you know about the War Crimes Act of 1996? I didn’t either:

[I]t makes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions a federal crime… [I]t carries the death penalty. If death results from torture or inhuman treatment, then there is a death penalty, and that means there’s no statute of limitations. That means that if any high level official violates the War Crimes Act, and somebody died, they can be prosecuted. They are subject to prosecution for the rest of their lives.

This is the law Alberto Gonzalez warned Bush about way back when. So Bush sidestepped the Geneva Conventions. I didn’t know that there was internal legislation that connected us to Geneva – besides the initial ratification. And the War Crimes Act also applies to higher ups – all the way to the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bonus shudders:

We knew the U.S. government and the British at the same time knew, for example, that the Jewish community of Rome was going to be rounded up by the Nazis; and we can’t find any action that was taken to warn the community, to tell the Germans not to do it.

China’s Investors Move in on US Utilities

Remember the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935? I don’t either. It barred utility holding companies from using profits from their regulated business activities in unregulated businesses. It was a move after the Depression when 53 utility holding companies went bankrupt and 23 had bank loan defaults. Senate just repealed the law and China bought Unocal. Hilarity ensues:

If, short of war, the Chinese simply want to stall our national economy a little, couldn’t they take a lesson from the California electricity crisis in 2000-2001, from which California, the fifth largest economy in the world, is still struggling to recover, by withholding their generation from the "market?"

Iraq Is(n’t) Vietnam

Quick bullets from this WaPo article by Robert Cohen:

Iraq is not Vietnam

  • No united nationalist movement
  • No charismatic leader

Iraq is Vietnam

  • Confusing terrorism as a monolithic force a la communism
  • Reliance on reconstruction stats for rosy picture
  • US not fighting a united insurgency, Sunnis and others share goals but not vision
  • Reliance on foggy stats: number of Iraqi voters, other countries involved, money spent

Don’t forget high desertion rates and high suicide rates for soldiers.

Mint Tea Musings

The think about panic attacks in the summer heat is you can’t tell that you’re having one. You aren’t sure if it is because you are walking fast. Or you are impatient to stand in line. Or something else tipped it off.

Here at the cafe drinking some mint iced tea. I’m glad they started having three types of iced tea, they used to only have English Breakfast and Mango. Mint is much more refreshing. The cafe is about 50% capacity on this hot summer day @ 1:35pm CST. Mostly everybody is on a laptop.

Did some client work this morning. I bought an egg timer to help me focus. When you’ve got Thunderbird, Skype, Trillian and other assorted bleeps and bloops popping up on your computer it is hard to stay focused. The quiet tick of the egg timer helps me to work in half hour chunks. And it is also going to help me remember to eat.

Ran along the lake this morning. Iced my right ankle when I got home as a pre-emptive measure. Ate oatmeal and some scrambled eggs for breakfast. I like running – I think because it is hard on your body – you can really feel it in your bones. Stationary bike, elliptical machine… those don’t give you that bone to stone feel of pounding the pavement. Not many people out this morning. I ran up to Montrose, walked to Irving Park, then ran the rest of the way home.

I also am going to start using the egg timer to ensure that I do my daily blogging. I have let my busines blogging languish lately as other projects crowd my dance card. I (hopefully) launch a business podcast tomorrow. It is called Biz Slap – it is like a bitch slap of wisdom for small businesses and entrepreneurs. I knew that I’d wanted to do a business-y podcast but that I didn’t to be the star of the show so I’ve got a cadre of business coaches all calling in their business wisdom in bite-sized voicemails… the slogan of the site is ‘Voicemails from the trenches of small business.’ You can join the newsletter to get the first alerts when it launches (hopefully) tomorrow at – I’m trying to get things a little edgier than the usual standard MBA crap.

Ron, Gilbert and I ate at Stella’s last night. Stella’s is three distinctly different restaurants throughout the day. In the morning, it is a 50s-style diner with Stella at the helm and a collection of characters including my landlord and his cronies and Joyce, a retired golfer that used to work at the same company I worked at a few years ago. Then mid-day her daughter Maria takes over and it becomes a more city-fied diner with a broader clientele. Then last night (when we went) they tune the satellite radio to the dance music channel and large groups of folks retire there after meetings – I usually assume that any large group of guys laughing and eating together is one of the many AA groups in the area dining together.

Divorce Among Military Families Rampant

I know rampant isn’t the right word: (via T)

Between 2001 and 2004, divorces among active-duty Army officers and enlisted personnel nearly doubled, from 5,658 to 10,477, even though total troop strength remained stable. In 2002, the divorce rate among married officers was 1.9 percent – 1,060 divorces out of 54,542 marriages; by 2004, the rate had tripled to 6 percent, with 3,325 divorces out of 55,550 marriages.

One reason mentioned is the extended (and repeated) tours of duty that soldiers are taking to Iraq.

NoFo on Lipo

Jake (with whom I will be guest starring in Scarrie! in 2 weeks) opines on his venture through the land of fat and money:

Make sure you have realistic expectations about what lipo will do for you. It won’t make you more popular. It won’t make you necessarily sexier. It won’t get you hotter dates and wilder sex and a better job and cooler friends. It won’t solve all your problems. It won’t make you happier. But it can give you more confidence.

Your Brain is Not a Computer

 From Slashdot:

For decades, the cognitive and neural sciences have treated mental processes as though they involved passing discrete packets of information… — like a digital computer. More recently, however, a growing number of studies, such as ours, support dynamical-systems approaches to the mind. In this model, perception and cognition are mathematically described as a continuous trajectory through a high-dimensional mental space; the neural activation patterns flow back and forth to produce nonlinear, self-organized, emergent properties — like a biological organism.