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Ipods and other hard-drive and flash MP3 music players and storage devices may be getting cheaper every day, but filling them with songs has suddenly got a lot more expensive.Let's do some basic math, shall we? If the average three-to-four-minute song "weighs" 5 MB, and your MP3 device holds 20 GB, you can fit in about 4,000 songs. As more companies start producing devices of this type, prices are sure to fall, until iPod-like devices become as common as Walkman-type tape players were a decade ago.And until now, filling your iPod was not a major problem... if you were willing to look at things in shades of gray. Yes, file trading has been considered illegal (at least until now), but we all know it goes on. Now, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but it takes an extremely principled music lover to ignore the temptation to download their favorite songs, especially if they need another 20 GB of music to fill their MP3 device.



What recruiters tell prospective recruits makes a difference, says retired Army Major Donald Sensing, whose son is a Marine lance corporal. Though they have suffered, proportionately, three times the casualties the Army has, the Marines are meeting their recruiting goals. His son chose the Marines over the Army because the Marines appealed directly to his patriotism, while Army recruiters talked of job training and pizza parties. “The problem is the Army’s recruiting strategy with its heavily civilianized marketing influences,” Sensing said. The Marines don’t hide what they’re about. Recruiting is harder because many parents wont let their children talk with Army recruiters, said Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commander of Recruiting Command. Parental concern for the safety of their sons and daughters is understandable. But there is another group of influencers whose behavior borders on sedition. Any high school or college which denies military recruiters access to campus should lose all of its federal funding immediately. Any high school or college which does not expel students who disrupt recruiters at job fairs should lose all federal funding immediately.



For many families of the 3,000 American citizens murdered on September 11, 2001, the worst that could happen would be for their loved ones' sacrifice and loss to be forgotten. To ensure that didn't happen, federal, state and local authorities have put millions of tax dollars toward a memorial on the site of Ground Zero -- where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood in Lower Manhattan. Incredible as it may seem, those charged with translating that laudable commitment into reality have come up with plans that could surpass even the September 11 families' worst fears: A scheme for the design and use of the Ground Zero complex that threatens, at best, to obscure and, at worst, to defame the memory of those lost on that day.



When you’re scuba-diving, you’re in another reality. You’re totally in the moment, absorbed and fascinated by a world utterly removed from that above the surface. But the pressure of this world drives gasses you’re breathing like nitrogen into your tissues, and if you return to the surface too quickly, bubbles of nitrogen come out of solution like an opened champagne bottle, into your bloodstream and can blow up your brain.Returning to “civilization” from an African safari can have similar effects. Immersed in a world utterly removed from the outside, blissfully unaware of any “news” occurring anywhere as you watch a lioness play with her cubs or a lady elephant tease a big bull in heat, causing him to chase after her dragging his 40 pound “fifth leg” in desperation - you need to decompress and slowly return to reality.I ignored this advice and am suffering the consequences. One day I was in a tent in the Serengeti. The next day I was in London with bubbles of the world’s insanity exploding inside my head.



[This was originally in To The Point for last year, July 4, 2004. It is just as apt for 2005.] July 4th is Freedom’s Birthday. My suggestion is, amidst the fireworks and barbeques and flag-waving fun - all of which is great - that you take the time to feel good about America. Put aside your worries and concerns, your frustrations and fears about what’s wrong with America. For one day, forget the negative - put it all in a zip-lock bag, hide it in the back of the freezer, and pretend it doesn’t exist. One reason is that for all your worries about America’s culture and morality - you and all your fellow conservatives can feel good about your country. Liberals can’t. One of the defining characteristics of leftie-liberals is an inability to feel truly proud of their country - proud to the bone. You cannot be a liberal without feeling apologetic and embarrassed over being an American. You cannot be a conservative without lacking any such embarrassment or compulsion to apologize at all. Being an American is simply the coolest thing in the world. Wherever I have traveled in the world - it’s over 180 countries now - whenever someone asks me, “Where are you from?”, it’s always such a thrill to answer, “America - I’m an American.”



According to the Iranian government, former secret policeman Mahmoud Ahmadeinejad defeated former president Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani, 62 percent to 37 percent, in a runoff for the presidency last Friday. Turnout was 60 percent, the government said. AP reported the government's figures as if they were true, even though there was a boycott of the election (photographs taken throughout the day showed polling places in urban areas virtually empty), and Rafsanjani claimed massive ballot box stuffing. The blatant manipulation of an already sham election to install a hardline reactionary as president suggests that the Ayatollah Khameini, chief of the Guardian Council, no longer sees a need to put a "reformist" face on the regime. That suggests to me that Iran is very close to -- or already possesses - a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.



The result of an extensive research and five months of field interviews in numerous schools in 20 French provinces by a distinguished group of French educators should be sobering for anyone who values European civilization. The report documents the extensive Islamization of French schools in the vicinity of Moslem ghettoes and the imposition of strict conformity with Islamist dictates through violence and intimidation. Having by and large completed their takeover of the Moslem ghettoes, often by “targeted violence” against non-Moslems and moderate Moslems alike, the Islamist fanatics are making great progress towards achieving control of the educational system as well.This is not just France’s problem. The same phenomenon of large numbers of angry young Moslems who totally reject European civilization is easily observable in virtually every large urban center across the EU.



MORU ROCKS, SERENGETI PLAINS, TANZANIA, AFRICA. It is at night that Africa becomes most alive - especially when there’s a full moon. The most restful night’s sleep one can have, it seems, is when you are lulled by the cackling whine of hyenas, the incessant barking of zebras, the coughing of lions, the grunting of hippos, the bellowing of Cape buffalo, the stomach rumblings of elephants, the flutter of Guinea fowl roosting in the trees, and the soft chirp of the tiny Scopes owl. The Moonlight Symphony of the Serengeti. I’m writing this on the veranda of my tent overlooking a grassy plain and trees along a nearby stream. Herds of zebra and wildebeest are grazing, a few giraffe are munching on a huge umbrella acacia tree, and two elephants are happily stripping the bark off a yellow fever tree with their tusks for an afternoon snack. It is a peaceful and restful scene. In the distance is a rock outcropping that’s the home of a pride of 11 lions, a mommy with four cubs, two other females, and two males with gorgeous golden manes. They’re sleeping off last night’s repast of a young wildebeest. Predators on the Serengeti do not prey on themselves. Two prides of lions, say, may occasionally compete for territory, but they never attempt to survive upon the other, and it would never occur to them to do so. Only man has the capacity to choose to prey on his fellow man. In our time there have been three great predations upon civilization: Nazism, Communism, and Islamism. The first was defeated entirely, and that by military force. The Soviet version of the second was defeated by a combination of military threat and guile. The Chinese version remains. The struggle continues with the third. There is a lesson to be learned here in the Serengeti about how to conduct this struggle.



Sure we trust our kids. Most of them grow up OK. A large part of the problem for parents is the mystery - the not knowing what really goes on in their kids’ lives. Are the web sites and chat rooms they frequent more or less innocent? We are pretty sure we can trust them, but can we trust the people they are communicating with? What about their email and IM buddies? Because so many of kids’ potentially dangerous activities and relationships are conducted online, a measure of control is possible. We have to figure out a way to get at their information without their realizing it.



As you can see, this woman is not Chinese. She’s European, a Celt. Although she looks young, she’s 4,000 years old, born before 2,000 BC - in what is now China. It turns out European Caucasians got to China before the Chinese. The lady is known as the Beauty of Loulan, where her mummy was found in the ruins of an ancient city on the eastern edge of the Takla Makan Desert. Archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of mummified remains from such ruins (many with blonde or red hair), and using DNA analysis, have determined that Caucasians populated the entire area, geographically known as the Tarim Basin, for a thousand years before Han Chinese arrived. The Chinese Communists hate this research and are trying to suppress it - for it supports the claim of the Uighur people who live in the Tarim Basin (the Chicoms call it Xinjiang Province) that the region does not belong to China and never has.