November 29, 2008

The GOP's Parasites Still[1] Remain in Charge

The House Republicans just defeated a leadership proposal to forego earmarks for three months.

To the devil with those worthless parasites.

Speaking of the devil, Mike Huckabee, "the Christian candidate", has stated that libertarians are a threat to conservatism and the GOP. Yes, libertarians.
[1] Original post here.

November 22, 2008

Trickle-Down Biotech?

Glenn Reynolds:
But what’s really nice about today’s world is that lots of things that were luxuries a few years ago are cheap — flat-screen HDTVs for under $500, for example. It’s possible to live quite well, even luxuriously in many respects, by the standards of previous decades on not all that much money, if you don’t insist on having the biggest, latest and trendiest.
This should be a model for the research and deployment of medical treatments.

Should be but won't. The political demagogic class will never tolerate having a life-saving treatment restricted to "the rich" even though the restriction is temporary--and the alternative, if any, is a slowed development cycle.

November 20, 2008

Million-Year Plan

The EPA has changed its mind about requiring a ten-thousand year assurance that Yucca Mountain will be a safe nuclear repository. It now requires a million-year assurance.

Are these people being paid off by interests like the Saudis, are they treasonous fanatics, are they callous cynics feathering their nests at the expense of society, or are they plain stupid? (Some of each, presumably.)

November 19, 2008


An Iranian grain ship is the latest to be seized.

Fortunately, the intelligentsia is on the case:
Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa specialist at the Chatham House think-tank, said that the capture was a crucial escalation. “Now that they have shown they are able to seize an enormous ship like this, it is beyond a military solution. You won’t fix this without a political solution.”
Actually, you could create a desolation and call it peace. On both practical and moral grounds, I don't favor that course at the moment, but you aren't thinking clearly if you don't put it on the list of options.
Wait till pirates seize a cruise ship and demand a billion-dollar ransom.

Obviously there are not too many cruises near Somalia, but Haiti and similar Caribbean hellholes are possible staging areas.
The linked story claims that the Somali government is about to collapse as regrouped Islamists converge on the capital.

Was this in effect a repeat of Iraq? Did we engineer the ouster of the Islamists without giving thought to what would happen next?

Addendum 20090426. The foregoing was in the ballpark:
The captain of an Italian cruise ship carrying 1,500 passengers says his security staff fought off a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean with pistols and a water hose.
I underestimated either the pirates' technology or the cruise line's imprudence. Thank heaven the pirates were repelled. I hope, but am not confident, that there will not be investigations, by governments or NGOs, of 'disproportionate response'.

November 18, 2008

Cloning Frozen Mice

Japanese scientists have done it with mice that had been frozen for 16 years..

Will extinct species be next? The article quite properly expresses daunting reservations, but I remember when freezing supposedly did irreversible damage to cells.

The prospect of restoring the mammoths gives me chills.

Addendum. According to the NYT, a mammoth might be (re)created for as little as $10M. A Neanderthal might be possible although the means currently available, if I understand the article correctly, exacerbate the serious ethical issues.

Coming Soon: Living in a Computer Simulation

Mirror's Edge is an action video game. Its body-centered perspective is so realistic that players are said to vomit from vertigo.

Much much more is coming along such lines. For example, climb mountains in a virtual-reality body suit at reduced (or increased!) gravity. Climb Olympus Mons, for that matter.

And who needs human modes of locomotion? Maximize efficiency by training drivers, pilots, and operators to have a vehicle- or machine-centric perspective.

And who needs human bodies when just the brain is doing the work?

Etc. Much much more to come.

November 17, 2008

Obvious Words, Well Written

Bill Kristol writes that the GOP governors' meeting was constructive but somehow failed to confront the failed Bush economic legacy:
From 1933 to 1980, Republicans repeatedly failed to convince the country they were no longer the party of Herbert Hoover — the party, as it was perceived, of economic incompetence, austerity and recession (if not depression).

Only two Republicans won presidential elections in that half-century, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. Both were able to take the White House only because we were mired down in difficult wars, in Korea and Vietnam. And Ike and Nixon were unable — they didn’t really try — to change the generally liberal course of domestic and economic policy. The G.O.P.’s fate on Capitol Hill was worse. The party controlled Congress for only 4 of those 47 years.

That’s what happens when a depression begins on your watch and when you can’t offer a coherent explanation of how and why it occurred and what you are going to do differently. That’s what happens when instead of having such an explanation, you spend decades in quarrels between pragmatic but unimaginative moderates who seek to be better tax collectors for the liberal welfare state, and principled but fanciful conservatives who hope for a wholesale rejection of that welfare state. And the fact that there were many successful Republican governors in those years didn’t much change the party’s status nationally.
The whole piece is worth reading.

Gitmo: Mend It, Don't End It

Next time the executives of a bailed-out bank give themselves bonuses while assuring us that government dollars weren't used...whoosh!

As for the prosperous respectable people, well hidden in the shadows, who suborned the government to open the border and flood the country with illegal aliens: lock 'em up! (Not the illegals, but the people who invited them. The fact that the illegals were invited is one of the toughest aspects of how to deal with them.)

Addenda. Who else deserves to go?

Bush, obviously.

Phil Gramm.

Barney Frank.

I'll give Greenspan probation because he voluntarily admitted he was wrong.

November 13, 2008

Hedge Fund Day at the House of Representatives

The House Committee on Oversight is holding hearings on the financial crisis. Thursday was Hedge Fund Day. According to George Soros,
The race to save the international financial system is still ongoing. Even if it is successful, consumers, investors, and businesses are undergoing a traumatic experience whose full impact on global economic activity is yet to be felt. A deep recession is now inevitable and the possibility of a depression cannot be ruled out. When I predicted earlier this year that we were facing the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, I did not anticipate that conditions would deteriorate so badly.
Otoh, Soros the trader is known to change his mind in a twinkling and reverse his positions accordingly.

(An old hand at testifying before Congress, Soros used the occasion to market his latest book. Not to be outdone, Indiana Republican Mark Souder took the opportunity to rant in favor of the War on Drugs.)

Addendum.The first link above is a generic link to the committee's continually updated hearings page. The committee held hearings on Lehman, AIG, rating agencies, regulation, and hedge funds.

November 12, 2008

Good Humor

Americans have always despised each other, so I'm not unduly upset by the elites' putdowns of flyover country; what gets my goat is the cloddish way the supposed sophisticates go about it. The NY Times' photo of 'Jeb Mason, the Treasury’s liaison to businesses...32, a lanky Texan in black cowboy boots who once worked in the White House for Karl Rove' is an artistic exception.

November 9, 2008

Toward Regeneration of Body Parts

The technique is called nanoscaffolding. The latest progress comes from US Army efforts, but research is ongoing around the world.

Wow. It's impossible to resist speculating where this might go:

What about replacing body parts lost to disease or surgery? What about in vitro?

November 5, 2008

Minor Afterthoughts to the Election

Kathryn Jean Lopez quotes a National Review staffer. The whole thing is worthwhile but this caught my eye:
2) Where was Bush? Once again, and right to the bitter end, he let his passion for "loyalty" supersede what was stragetically right for the party, not to mention what was best for the country. I think his reputation has nowhere to go but down; yes, he got one big thing right, but he got everything else wrong. Enough of this family in our country's politics!
If Bush had campaigned, IMO the loss would have been bigger, and I don't know how his passion for loyalty played a role in the election. Above all, this requires a correction:
I think his reputation has nowhere to go but down; yes, maybe he got one big thing partly right, but he got everything else wrong.
Fixed it.

And I couldn't agree more with the good-riddance to Liddy Dole. My immediate and never mitigated reaction to her was instinctive loathing.

November 4, 2008

Shielding Space Travelers From Solar Storms

Apparently the Europeans have devised a compact magnetic shield. A simulation was reported here. Preliminary measurements are reported here.

I've read that passengers on a space elevator passing through the Van Allen belts would be endangered by radiation, and that strength of the elevator material could be endangered by radiation-produced defects. Might the magnetic technology be adapted to this situation?

November 3, 2008

The Palin Prank

Ouch: here, here, here, and here.

I don't want to believe she's a hick with a glassy smile & cheerleader persona, but you don't always get what you want...

Sarah Quaylin?

November 1, 2008

Atlas and I

Jennifer Rubin interviews Orrin Hatch. The whole piece consists of Hatch warning how bad the Democrats are. Rubin does not report what Hatch said about why the GOP lost Congress in 2006, or what the GOP is doing to regain the confidence of the electorate. I suspect that Hatch had nothing to say because the Republican establishment does not care as long as they retain their privileged positions. Given their criticism of the MSM for their being in the tank for Obama, I hope Pajamas Media asked Hatch such obvious questions.

The phrase 'Atlas Shrugged' is being revived to describe how productive Americans may react to a redistributionist Democrat government. It also describes my reaction to a GOP which feels entitled to my support because, supposedly, they wouldn't wreck the country quite as fast as the Democrats would.