December 31, 2009

Good News and Bad News

The bad news is the TSA harassment of two bloggers who posted an unclassified security directive (HT: Instapundit).

The good news is that the Federal courts just might be starting to rein in unwarranted police use of tasers.

Addendum 20100105: I've seen reports that the government has dropped the subpoenas against the bloggers.

December 30, 2009

Worst Decade Ever (?)

According to Reason TV, it was.

Think where we’d be if we hadn’t started with unprecedented prosperity and power. Think where we’ll wind up if we persist.

And we are persisting.

If governed as we are today, I question whether we would have won WW2 (or WW1 for that matter) or the Cold War.

December 28, 2009

America Was Once Like This

From the Daily Mail:
Unveiled: China's 245mph train service is the world's fastest... and it was completed in just FOUR years
Look at the images.

In four years, I doubt you could even get regulatory approvals to break ground in the US.

A Progressive's Anti-Obama Rant

This perfectly captures my feelings about Bush.

December 27, 2009

Drug War

Mexico is losing reviewing its options.

I've read--in National Review iirc!--that US insistence on Drug War poppy eradication has helped the Taliban to rebound in Afghanistan.

The last Mexican election was a very narrow win for the conservative. Will the Drug War help bring us an openly anti-American far-left Mexican government that openly allies with the drug cartels and drives even more illegals (excuse me, undocumenteds) into the US than have already been coming?

Obama's missteps should not make us forget what a moron Bush was.

December 22, 2009

Worth Its Own Post

Pajamas Media commenter 'kazooskibum' has been repeating:
Remember: The issue is never the issue. The issue is control.

When a legitimate issue does come up that calls for pulling together and shared sacrifice, the government will have no credibility left. (I'm not saying it has any now.)

December 18, 2009

I Approve. So Am I a Pro-Slavery Racist?

From Althouse commenter JohnAnnArbor:
I think they should have to read every bill aloud in its entirety. That would keep them from larding everything up.

Historical trivia: the Confederate constitution tried to avoid Congressional amalgamation of unrelated items in one bill:

"(20) Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."
Ludicrous though the title of this post is, IMO that very slur would be flung at someone who proposed to amend the Constitution according to the CSA example.

Given the way the existing Constitution is distorted to excuse federal power grabs, I'm not sure such an amendment would make any difference.

December 17, 2009


Charles Johnson reports that the John Birch Society has been accepted as a cosponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

No reaction yet from National Review, once the standard-bearer of rational, principled conservatism (w/wo religion).
Johnson also posts an image of Wasilla Councilwoman Sarah Palin reading a Bircher article. Googling reveals that this image was known to the left blogosphere during the 2008 campaign. It's curious that it was not emphasized by the MSM.

When they recall how Reagan was smeared by his enemies, some people might be reluctant to relinquish their hopes for Palin. However, the false and malicious canards flung at Reagan seem to be valid when applied to Palin.

Is a Meme Developing?

The Moderate Voice:
Precisely which of the two incompetent political parties is less incompetent?

And which incompetent party do you choose to bollix up the country and disappoint you for a few more years?
This is what I thought even before posting here and here.

It's is a tailor-made slogan for a third party.

(Obviously, alternating the government between two successively more incompetent parties cannot work indefinitely. It may fail sooner and more drastically than most people expect.)

December 16, 2009


The state might be better managed if we returned it to Mexico.

Demographic trends may bring that about. IMHO a more plausible worst-case scenario is a Latino majority exacting a steady stream of concessions from Washington, as Quebec does from Canada.

At least Mexico would have the common sense to tap the state's natural resources which are currently off-limits due to environmentalist special interests.

The fate of Berkeley-type watermelons who tried the obstructive ploys to which they have come to feel entitled would be...entertaining. Perhaps grimly so.

My Evil Idea

Gene Healy on making criminals out of all Americans:
There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code. Some years ago, analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offenses on the books, and gave up, lacking the resources to get the job done...

You can serve federal time for interstate transport of water hyacinths, trafficking in unlicensed dentures, or misappropriating the likeness of Woodsy Owl and his associated slogan, "Give a hoot, don't pollute."...Bills currently before Congress would send Americans to federal prison for eating horsemeat or selling goods falsely labeled as "Native American."

"Is that the system we have, that Congress can say, nobody shall do any bad things?" an exasperated Scalia asked (Deputy Solicitor General) Drebeen. The system we have comes pretty close, unfortunately. And a federal criminal code that covers everything delegates to prosecutors and the police the power to pick their targets at will, leaving everyone at risk.
(HT: Instapundit) So much for limited government in a free country. Note that the impetus is bipartisan. (Note also bipartisan legalization of things like intellectual-property banditry and expansive eminent domain.)

The law has become so complicated that Congressional researchers can't even enumerate the crimes that Congress has created? This is a job for...Artificial Intelligence!

Some public-spirited entrepreneur should create a software package that runs along the lines of a search engine. The enterprising prosecutor types in a target's behavior and the engine returns the crimes that are compatible with those actions.

In fact, every police department should have one! Initial versions might require an officer seeking a pretext for an arrest to call a dispatcher who will run the program and relay the options to the officer. Very quickly, however, voice recognition software can take the dispatcher out of the loop and automate the entire process.

(According to Healy's piece, Jim Webb is taking this issue on. Good for him. I'm glad I donated to his campaign against MacacAllen.)

December 14, 2009

Megan McArdle on the Complexity Bubble

...Every so often I'll read some description of a project out of the olden days--the battle against malaria in Panama, the handling of the Great Mississippi Flood, or the creation of the WPA--and just marvel at how fast everything used to be. The WPA was authorized in April of 1935. By December, it was employing 3.5 million people. The Hoover Dam took 16 years from the time it was first proposed, to completion; eight years, if you start counting from the time it passed Congress.

Contrast this with a current, comparatively trivial project: it has been seventeen years since the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor was established by USDOT, and we should have a Record of Decision on the Tier II environmental impact statement no later than 2010. This for something that runs along existing rail rights of way, and in fact, uses currently operating track in many places.
Would we have won the Cold War if not for our technology? Technology includes the atom bomb which perhaps prevented the Red Army from sweeping across Europe after WW2, and the 1980s military upgrades which the Soviets could not afford to match.

What if the government still operated at 1930s efficiency with today's technology?

Have the parasite classes learned how to coopt technology? (For example, the thousand-page special-interest laws that Congress does not read could not even have been printed a century ago.)

Just because technological innovation saved us from decline and fall in the past, it may not necessarily do so in the future.

December 12, 2009

Tiger Woods, Eloit Spitzer, and Mark Sanford

Spitzer resigned and is still married. Sanford clung to office and his wife just filed. Coincidence?

Woods has taken an indefinite leave from golf. "It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try."

To resurrect a relationship wrecked by infidelity, it is probably necessary to demonstrate to the estranged partner that nothing is more important than she/he. But is it sufficient?

More Damage from Compassionate Conservatism

Reason notes that, under Bush, for the first time since World War 2, growth in government employment apparently outpaced private-sector growth (HT: Instapundit).

The Communists said the state would wither away...eventually. Were Bush's theocratic handlers imitating the Marxists? Of course they'll reduce the size of government...when the Peaceable Kingdom is attained...real soon now...

December 9, 2009

TARPmeister Emeritus Neel Kashkari

The Washington Post profiles his recuperation and reminiscences.

Meanwhile, some are atwitter that he took a job with PIMCO. Since he took a grueling job with a big pay cut and an enormous professional risk, at first blush I'm not inclined to fault him for cashing in on his success.

I take the point about a revolving door between government and industry. But there is also such a thing as public service. I take the point about lobbyist influence and regulatory capture. But I don't want policy made exclusively by academics and NGO goo-goos with no private-sector experience.

December 8, 2009

Hitchens on Palin

In Slate:
...the usefulness of Sarah Palin to the right-wing party managers is that she combines a certain knowingness with a feigned innocence and a still-palpable blush of sex. But she should take care to read her Alexander Pope: That bloom will soon enough fade, and it will fade really quickly if she uses it to prostitute herself to the Nixonites on one day and then to cock-tease the rabble on the next.
He comes up to the edge of what I've been meaning to say.

Palin's looks are going. Video close-ups reveal heavy pancake makeup that doesn't entirely conceal crow's feet.

Soon she'll look like Harriet Miers.

In 1992 Hillary Clinton successfully mimicked an all-American girl, but she has found a way to age in the public eye. In contrast, Harriet Miers looks will not mesh well with Palin's high-pitched voice and cheerleader demeanor.
Hitchens says that a key Palin advisor is linked to Nixon's anti-Semitism. Maybe so, but I recall a video that showed an Israeli flag in then-Governor Palin's office.

Among the Decay, a Sprig of Progress

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

One small sprig for man, and...?

I hope so.

Yes, Exactly: Corruption

If I haven't written this down, I meant to:

When a government gets big enough, it automatically becomes corrupt. Period.

Instead, we are asked to believe that the government is some kind of omniscient omnipotent sapient unified field that can unfailingly implement the greatest good for the greatest number--if we only let it.

IMO, just as a big enough government automatically becomes corrupt, a big enough government automatically seeks to de facto disenfranchise the electorate.

December 6, 2009

I've Worked at a Place Places Like This

A recent Dilbert is well above average.

Addendum 20091207. Much better than this. No comparison.

December 3, 2009

Comments: December 2009

On Doonesbury and Day by Day.

On a potential government bailout of Big Media: here and here.

On an example of "conservative" racism.

On the Antoun murder at SUNY Binghamton.

On various things, including Obama:
I don’t want Obama to fail–because of the damage to the country, not out of any love for Obama–, but he’s in a tough spot (of his own making). Part of his coalition is defecting because his governance is dysfunctional, and part is defecting because his governance is not dysfunctional enough.
On deciphering multiculturalism:
“practicing mainstream traditions” = “bigoted”
“deprecating the flaunting of minority or emerging-subculture practices” = “narrow-minded”
On Truman, Reagan, and Palin.

On why worthwhile and uncontroversial things related to climate change don't get done.

On an appallingly dumb argument for tax increases.

On a major Chinese technology company snubbing the US stock market.

On Rand Simberg's "The Precautionary Principle and Global Warming":
Glenn Reynolds keeps saying that when the bigshots who say it’s a crisis start significantly modifying their own behavior, he’ll start taking them seriously.

I’ll start taking the AGW Greens seriously when they seriously push back against their own extremists who impede nuclear, solar and wind power. I’ll start taking them seriously when they get behind the solutions that moderate warmists and skeptics can both accept.

By refusing to do so, the Greens may be endangering civilization as much as they claim the traditional energy industry is doing.

No enemies on the Left. No enemies on the Green.
A more constructive follow-up is here.

On the UK Livni indictment.

On Kurzweil's latest prediction.

On avoiding out-of-state traffic tickets.

On "universal jurisdiction".

Here and here, on Obamacare.

On the Wen-Obama photo. The subsequent comment is worth reading.

On conservative overconfidence: here, here, and here.

On China's governance and America's Founders (and foundering) Addendum 20100311: Jonah Goldberg accuses Tom Friedman of admiring Chinese authoritarianism. That is not my intention.

On the government reaction to the attempted Delta bombing: here and here.

On Bush as a forerunner of Obama's statism.

December 1, 2009

NFL: New Orleans and Indianapolis

The NFL's publicists must be salivating at the thought that two undefeated teams might meet in the Superbowl.

Not that that prospect would affect the refereeing, oh my, no...
It's noteworthy that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is 6'0''. (I had assumed for some time that he was too short for the NFL.)

November 29, 2009

Was WW2 Worth the Effort?

Seeing today's UK, British WW2 vets wonder if their struggle was worth it. (HT: Instapundit.)

The only Brit politician they have a good word for is the late anti-immigration Enoch Powell.

What does the Queen think? Not that she would say...but, as Elizabeth Windsor, she was a volunteer too.

(IMO today's decadence does not compare with Nazi rule, but the vets' bitterness is understandable. Decadence is decadence, and it must be heartbreaking to witness it after experiencing the crucible of WW2.)

Update 20100604. Surely those Brits didn't regret fighting Hitler. Their disillusionment came because they were fighting for something good, not just against something evil.

Cf. Let It Burn.

November 27, 2009

Kimball on Retribalization

I posted the following regarding Obama's Inaugural Address:
IMO a major, essential part of American exceptionalism is the USA's unique opportunity to become a template for a modern post-tribal society.
My opinion of Obama is not nearly as favorable as it was at the time. However, my interpretation of American exceptionalism predated the speech, and I continue to maintain it.

Roger Kimball
worries that things are going in the wrong direction. I submitted this as a comment:
IMO the USA has a unique opportunity–American exceptionalism, if you will–to become a template for a modern post-tribal society. As we continue to debase our Founding ideals, the risk of failure is rising. I suspect that history would not assess our looming postmodern tribal society as a success.
Newman, Aristotle, Horace and Homer, all in the opening paragraph…

Sir, it is your prerogative to define your intended audience. Nevertheless, while your sometime displays of erudition may appeal to a limited group of Pajamas readers, they also might disconnect you from a larger group that would benefit from your insights.
In case the comment doesn't appear, I'd like to record the comparison of a modern post-tribal society and a postmodern tribal society. Glib but not infelicitous, if I may say so myself.

Addendum 20071129. Kimball accepted the comment and it is here.

This Contrast Was Worth Drawing

The Navy SEALS who captured the mastermind of the Fallujah atrocity are facing courtmartial for apparently punching him in the mouth.

Meanwhile, the military's powers that be managed to ignore Islamist mass murderer Nidal Malik Hasan's increasingly flagrant dysfunction. (From a NY Post editorial via Instapundit.)

We are right back to being Carter's pitiful giant--and I see no Reagan on the horizon.

November 25, 2009

But Don't Call Him a Socialist!

Wow (HT: Instapundit). There is virtually no private sector experience in the economically oriented part of Obama's cabinet. The contrast with other Presidents is especially stark. (I'd still like to see the J.P. Morgan report on which the assertion is based.)

November 19, 2009

Comments: November 2009

On persecuting Chinese-American aeronautics genius Qian Xuesen, who returned to China and its led missile research. Quian (aka Tsien) died about the same time as Nien Cheng, author of Life and Death in Shanghai.

On General George Casey, the diversity-loving Army Chief of Staff. Positioning yourself for a cushy civilian job, General? (Addendum 20091129. Cf. Roger Kimball.)

On David Cameron.

On a possible return to relevance of the stoic virtues.

On "Sarah Palin and the Decline of Conservatism"

On "Corruption, Panic and Incompetence Fueled Geithner's Backstairs Intrigue". (Follow-up here.)

On "Fear and loathing of the plutocracy 2". Follow-up here.

Palin was booed in Indiana. Has the Right produced its own Joanie Phoanie?

On the British surveillance state. (Got something hide, do you? -> Got something to hide, do you?)

On retribalization. (Instead of evolving into a modern post-tribal society, we may be devolving into a postmodern tribal society.)

On a silly right-wing politicization of Thanksgiving--but take a look at the other comments.

On Intel, AMD and DEC.

November 18, 2009

Complaints about the Bailout

They're coming from both ends of the political spectrum.

While we're still coughing up water after being saved from drowning, are we blaming the lifeguards for getting us wet?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better."

November 16, 2009

Belichick's Gamble

Initially I was aghast, like many fans and commentators, when I learned that the Patriots went for it on 4th and 2 for their 23 and a 6 point lead--and lost the game.

Then again, as this article notes, the Patriot defense is no longer the legendary Belichick defense that let the Giants defeat the Bills in the SuperBowl. In fact, as this article notes, they've done their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory--and succeeded all to often. Belichick may have recognized that.

This blogger loathes Belichick but defends him for that very reason.
At the end of the day, it was an unconventional call that's easy to question, given how things turned out. Belichick, though, has made a hall-of-fame career and built his own legend around making decisions just like that one. That way of thinking is what makes him great. If he wasn't willing to take those risks or do the unconventional thing, he wouldn't be Bill Belichick, future hall of famer and NFL coaching legend. He'd be Bill Belichick, that doofus that the Browns hired once a long time ago.
I have to agree.

I'd like to see another Lombardi Trophy or two from the Brady Patriots before that done, but it's looking like the Fates are frowning on that.

(Recall that years ago near the end of a close game in Denver, Belichick took a safety rather than risk punting from his own end zone. After Denver's resulting field position, the Patriots won the game.)

November 15, 2009

November 14, 2009


Obama bowed to Emperor Akihito.

And he bowed to King Fahd.

But not, iirc, to Queen Elizabeth. Curious, no?

Those bows, all by themselves, demonstrate his clueless unfitness for office. I can't put it any better than the Powerline link does:
Ashamed of his country but arrogant about himself--what a disgusting combination.
(However, I don't think that Powerline's analogy to Macarthur and Hirohito holds water: Macarthur was the commander of an occupying army. sigh Why is the Right so fond of bridges too far?)

Addendum 20091115. Instapundit has a reader who begs to differ--and additional links that criticize the bowing.

The Anchoress links to the most definitive takedowns, here and here, that I have seen to date.

November 13, 2009

Water on the Moon!

NASA has announced it. Google has posted a news report.

This news is good, and important.

Not important for the outcome of the next election or two: important for the outcome of the next century or two.

Note this from the NASA press release:
"The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich," said Colaprete. "Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years."
I can't resist speculating: if those substances are intriguing enough to make a human lunar presence financially profitable, history has just been changed--not on the scale of centuries, but on the scale of decades.

November 8, 2009

Who Would Jesus Tax?

Up to a point, I'm favorably disposed toward sin taxes, but this gives me pause:
4It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
5For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
6Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
7Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
8Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
9Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Jesus was a Jew. I'm thinking he'd have menschlichkeit.

The Right Follows "The Narrative" Too

I oppose the Obama/Pelosi agenda, but facts are facts--

According to Jennifer Rubin:
…If Pelosi gets her 218 votes, it will be unprecedented. It is fair to say that never will a piece of legislation this sweeping (and damaging) have been passed over the opposition of so much of the electorate and on the votes of such a narrow ideological slice of the governing class.
The draft began in October 1940. By the early summer of 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt asked the U.S. Congress to extend the term of duty for the draftees beyond twelve months. On August 12, the United States House of Representatives approved the extension by a single vote.[5] As Karl R. Bendetson said, "Mr. Rayburn banged the gavel at a critical moment and declared the Bill had passed."[6]
Note that this happened four months before Pearl Harbor.

Since Pajamas Media was started in response to the MSM’s inadequacies, I am surprised that PJM’s Washington editor would make a gross error like this.

November 7, 2009

Who is Deborah Gyapong?

Whoever she is, she makes sense (boldface mine):
Our culture is suicidal, folks. Somehow the part of us that is still awake has to rouse the lethargic body and grab the phone and call 911.

As I said, this is NOT about Muslims. It is about the decay of western civilization and its embrace of some strange death wish. We're the ones who love death---our own.
How would an Islamist interpret multiculturalism and the post-atrocity handwringing? He might well conclude that the infidels acknowledge they are wrong and Allah is clouding their minds on behalf of the Faithful.


How vigorously should Nidal Malik Hasan be interrogated if there is plausible suspicion that others were involved in the Fort Hood atrocity (especially if there is danger that similar events could follow)? For example, under what circumstances, if any, should he be waterboarded?

Addendum 20091109. Plausible suspicion might be taking shape: see here and here.

Going Muslim
: the unspeakable is beginning to be spoken.

November 3, 2009

The Kind of News We Need

Berkshire Hathaway is acquiring Burlington Northern Santa Fe:
...the transaction is valued at approximately $44 billion, including $10 billion
of outstanding BNSF debt, making it the largest acquisition in Berkshire Hathaway history.

“Our country’s future prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system,” said Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer. “Conversely, America must grow and prosper for railroads to do well. Berkshire’s $34 billion investment in BNSF is a huge bet on that company, CEO Matt Rose and his team, and the railroad industry.

“Most important of all, however, it’s an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States,” said Mr. Buffett. “I love these bets.”
More from Buffett here:
...Fortunately, our two big businesses, insurance and our utility business, aren't really affected that much by the recession. But most of our businesses are still feeling severe effects from the recession. They are not going down. It's stabilized. There's not this fear that was prevalent eight or ten months ago, but business has not bounced very much. It will. I don't know when, but it will. We wouldn't be putting out the equivalent of $34 billion unless I felt there's a lot of good years for America. America's best years lie ahead. There's no question about that.
...But this country will solve its problems. We're not so good necessarily at avoiding problems, but we're pretty good at solving problems. And I remember back in the early '80s, we thought that Germany and Japan were going to eat our lunch and we'd all just be working at McDonald's and cutting each other's hair or something to keep busy. But we added tens of millions of jobs since then. So, we do come up with things. You can't predict that we'll have a software industry or you can't predict that we'll have a great aircraft industry, but those things come along. And the world right now, 12 percent of our GDP is going to exports and 35 years ago only 5 percent was. So we are making some things the world wants. But I agree with you, Governor, you've really got -- you've got to count on the potential of people that you and I don't even know coming up with new things to do that the world wants. Historically we've been very good at that and I think we'll be good at it in the future.
Like Buffett's interviewer said, I want to stand up when I hear talk like that.

(Btw, I too have wondered what the Next Big Thing might be. For Bill Clinton, it was the Internet.)

Addendum 20091118. More from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (full unofficial transcript here.):
BECKY: All right. Welcome back, everybody. Gentlemen, last question today. If America was a stock, would you buy it? Bill.

GATES: You bet.

BECKY: Warren.

BUFFETT: On margin.
Isn't there a saying to the effect that no cynics get rich?

Addendum 20091212. While Buffett has a reputation for integrity, note that his Burlington acquisition presumably needs government approval.

October 31, 2009

The BNP and Likeminded Volks

Here, at Instapundit:
Irresponsible and dishonest government abets evil. Plus, some further thoughts from Andrew Ian Dodge. “...The problem is that the political establishment is in a tizzy, and they have no idea how to deal with them. . . . The major parties are not addressing the subjects on which the BNP are gaining votes. Citizens are expressing concern about the present level of immigration, Muslim extremism, and lack of equal access to jobs, education, and social housing..."
Speaking of immigration:
The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and "rub the Right's nose in diversity", according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.
Arguably it's even worse in the US: the Democrats view Hispanic immigration as a source of votes, and of demand for government social services; the Republicans welcome Hispanics as potential votes for the religious right (and, of course, as cheap labor).

Addendum. "The problem is that the political establishment is in a tizzy, and they have no idea how to deal with them." Sure they do: sell the country, and traditional British liberties, out to the Eurocrats in Brussels. This is why people don't trust politicians. If the Tories win the forthcoming Brit election as expected, that smug corn-fed oaf Cameron will get Labour back in power in no time. And I've seen speculation that he'll preside over the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Good thing they cleansed the Conservative Party of Thatcherism, right? Just like US RINOs and Reagan. "Read my lips."

The More Incompetent They Become,
the More Power They Demand

I emailed that line to Instapundit and he used it.

Is society getting so complex that unintended consequences randomize the effects of policy initiatives?

October 30, 2009

Marin Alsop

I was driving around and heard the Dvorak 9th. The conductor was trying to let me know what the composer was saying rather than what he was saying about the composer.

Oops! Rather than what she was saying about the composer.

It's been a long time since I was into music as much as I'd like to be, but I remember that I could play a recording by Eugen Jochum with a score in front of me and hear every note. That's the experience that Alsop's Dvorak reminds me of.

October 23, 2009

Where Are the Physicists?

The AAAS reports it has joined other scientific societies in a letter to the Senate. The letter states that anthropogenic global warming is real and urges legislation.

The American Physical Society is not a signatory.

October 22, 2009

Why the Blogosphere (the Web?) is Unreadable

Nathan Myhrvold explains:
...Once people with a strong political or ideological bent latch onto an issue, it becomes hard to have a reasonable discussion; once you’re in a political mode, the focus in the discussion changes. Everything becomes an attempt to protect territory. Evidence and logic becomes secondary, used when advantageous and discarded when expedient. What should be a rational debate becomes a personal and venal brawl. Rational, scientific debate that could advance the common good gets usurped by personal attacks and counterattacks.

Political movements always have extremists — bitterly partisan true believers who attack anybody they feel threatens their movement. I’m sure you know the type, because his main talent is making himself heard. He doesn’t bother with making thoughtful arguments; instead, his technique is about shrill attacks in all directions, throwing a lot of issues up and hoping that one will stick or that the audience becomes confused by the chaos. These folks can be found at the fringe of every political movement, throughout all of history. Technology has amplified them in recent years. First with talk radio and then with cable TV, the extremists found larger and larger audiences.

The Internet provides the ultimate extremist platform. Every blogger can reach millions, and given the lack of scrutiny or review over content, there is little accountability. Indeed, the more over-the-top the discourse is the better — because it is entertaining. Ancient Romans watched gladiators in much the same way that we read angry bloggers.
(Cf. this comment.)

Another ploy is to find one sentence--one phrase--one word--to disagree with and behave as though the counterparty's entire position consists of that. From experience, I can say that such an attitude discourages efforts to do conscientious research like digging out hyperlinks, or to meet one's opponent halfway.

Addendum. Another ploy is to state one's position in a venomously supercilious tone. Instead of an illumination of differences and common ground, a discussion becomes a sneering/shouting match (or the vitriol-thrower is left to "win").

October 16, 2009

A Gem of a Comment

Rand Simberg reports on a space privatization effort impeded by bureaucratic red tape. Two of his commenters weigh in. I spend months going through tripe on the Web, wondering why I bother, and then suddenly there a gem like Brock's:
This is what happens when you loose sight of your values and goals, and only have rules to guide you.
Bill Maron makes sense too:
I get so tired of hearing about faceless ‘crats. It’s time to put names and faces to these unelected people who get to decide so much of our business.
That one sentence by Brock is worth more than volumes of boilerplate from libertarian/conservative pundits.

Denying Darwin

It's been said that the 20th century was the century of physics and the 21st will be the century of biology. (Even though some of the people saying it are biologists casting covetous eyes on the already low US funding for the physical sciences, the claim is plausible.) The 20th century was an American century; in 2000 it looked like the 21st would be another one. Now, quite apart from the endemic corruption and incompetence:

The public's belief in Darwinian evolution has been polled in 34 developed countries. The USA ranks second-to-last.

American exceptionalism...

Afterthought. There are also the kooks who compare skepticism about anthropogenic global warming to denial of evolution. Maybe the two factions deserve each other. Unfortunately, they bid fair to bring the country down, while shrieking that The Other is to blame.

October 14, 2009

Zero Tolerance...of Political Opposition?

Instapundit reports on Scouts being expelled from school for concocted weapons charges.

How much of such “zero tolerance” is bureaucratic stupidity, and how much is outright evil?

School administrators are part of the social-services establishment, which is dominated by the political left. They presumably are disproportionately likely to favor gun control, to deprecate the individual’s right to self-defense, to dislike the military, and to view Scouting with suspicion as a paramilitary organization.

Are they misusing the power of government against their young and defenseless future political opponents?

October 13, 2009

Islamist Plot to Blow Up the Universe

Annie Jacobsen is on top of the "story".

Right after posting this entry, I will submit the following comment:
"The LHC is not a nuclear facility. There’s nothing there that can help you obtain nuclear material, enrich nuclear fuel, build a fission or fusion device of ANY kind, detonate or deliver it. Take a big deep breath and start reporting responsibly." That much of Matthew #3's comment I can agree with.

You write, "The results, the scientists hope, will create mini black holes and allow scientists to further explore theories about what happened after the Big Bang created the universe 14 billion years ago. Throw terrorists into that mix and a lot could go wrong."

What you write about something I know a little about is flagrantly wrong. Why, then, should I rely on your judgment about things I know nothing about?

It's not a good idea to cry wolf when the threat is real.
It'll be interesting to see what happens. Not every PJM writer rejects dissenting comments, but some do.

October 12, 2009

Stating the Unmentionably Obvious

An Aussie site asks if America would go to war for oil if things got bad enough, e.g as a result of the dollar being demoted from reserve-currency status.
...But our main point is that the oil game is not just a currency game. It's a power game. And it's silly to think the U.S. would relinquish its control over the oil market so easily. There will be a fight.
(HT: Instapundit)

The war for oil might be accompanied by a civil war (which the environmental Left would likely lose). Would there be a draft and 60s-style resistance? A war for oil would be both less moral and more dictated by national interest than Vietnam was. Moreover, the US has a lot of domestic resources whose utilization currently is blocked for political reasons.

October 7, 2009

Please, Mr. Crocodile, Eat Me Last

According to Reuters, the hedge fund and private equity industries are calling for US regulation of venture capital:
WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - U.S. hedge funds and private equity firms told Congress on Tuesday that all advisers to private pools of capital should be subjected to the same level of federal scrutiny, including those managing venture capital funds.

A draft U.S. bill would require advisers of hedge funds and private equity funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, thus forcing more disclosures to regulators and investors.
Hedge funds had my sympathy because they were unfairly scapegoated during the finance meltdown. I've lost a good deal of it after this.

October 6, 2009

Climate, Again

Climate Research News discusses Richard Kerr's Science article What Happened to Global Warming? Scientists Say Just Wait a Bit.
Kerr continues: “So contrarian bloggers are right: There’s been no increase in greenhouse warming lately. That result came as no surprise to Knight and his colleagues or, for that matter, to most climate scientists.”

Say what!? Can someone point me to a prediction of a decade of non-warming before the temperature ’stagnation’ occurred?
Surprisingly, even the BBC has taken notice. (Here, too.)

So has Little Green Footballs commenter Thoughtful (more here):
The article goes on to state, "Researchers may differ about exactly what's behind recent natural climate variability, but they agree that no sort of natural variability can hold off greenhouse warming much longer. "Our prediction is that if past is prologue, the solar component will turn around and lead to rapid warming in the next 5 years," says Rind."
I haven't paid to read the article, but that quote sounds like a falsifiable prediction by a senior, highly credentialed climate scientist. Good for Rind.

Say what you will about the people pushing AGW: they--one of them, anyway--have put their chips in the pot.

Falsifiable predictions from skeptics and deniers would be welcome.

October 5, 2009

'Escape from Terra'

In the first story arc of Escape from Terra, a tax agent from Earth is dispatched to bring the frontier people in the Asteroid Belt into line. I read the first twenty strips or so, and the Cereans reminded me of the libertarian androids, i.e. biological humans ready to drone out their programmed ideology at the drop of a hat, in L. Neil Smith's novels.

So I went to the publisher's page...and there he is!

Smith and his sort have their hearts in the right place--but good grief are their minds naive. Ambivalent, I say to them:
So get you gone, Von Hugel, though with blessings on your head.
On second thought, no, stay.

Added to the list of online comics at right.

October 2, 2009

Nasty and Woebegone

Garrison Keillor suggests we could pay off the deficit by cutting off health care to Republicans.

It wouldn't be enough to cut Republicans off from health care. You'd have to confiscate the money they use to pay for it.

Take their money and let them die. Nice.
I stopped listening to Keillor years ago. An undertone of nastiness developed in his humor and got worse and worse. I gather that it's continued to grow.

I'm guessing that Keillor tried to get Will Rogers' old job and is increasingly embittered that the country turned him down.

Keillor is a cautionary example of what resentment can do if allowed to fester.

September 27, 2009

"For the Children"

When budgets and bureaucratic turf are involved, it can be necessary to endanger children in order to protect them. Instapundit reports (boldface mine):
AND DON’T LET US CATCH YOU BEING NEIGHBORLY AGAIN: State bureaucrats threaten to fine, jail a Michigan woman for watching her neighbors’ kids. If people are neighborly, they need the state less. This cannot be permitted.
Glenn has unwittingly provided every "social-service" bureaucracy with a slogan to be posted prominently in parts of the building where the public is not allowed.

This is how Michigan spends taxpayer money while the state is undergoing an economic cataclysm.

Addendum. After I emailed him, Reynolds added the slogan above to his post.


The Swiss arrested Roman Polanski in order to extradite him to the US for being convicted 31 years ago of having sex with a minor. The (former) minor has settled with Polanski and wants prosecutors to drop the matter. Will the prosecutor try to get her jailed if she refuses to testify?

Obviously a lot of resources and high-level negotiation went into setting this up. Who are the malefactors who are pushing this forward? What are their motives? (Wild unsupported speculation: was Polanski's invitation to Switzerland a sting that was arranged as part of the tax-evasion deal the US cut with Switzerland?)

The French are furious:
In America, Polanski is largely seen a child rapist who fled justice, but he is a cultural icon in France, where many feel he was persecuted for having sex with a girl who admitted it was not her first time.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was "stunned" by the arrest, adding that he "profoundly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already known so many during his life."
The NY Daily News comments feature the usual online lynch mob, but there are sensible people there too. Skycap:
He had to live a life of exile most of his life over this. The gov’ts in Europe are demanding he be freed. This is just a feeding frenzy for the lawyers and legal workers. Nothing good will come about by torturing this person now. Set him free. We have better things to spend our tax money on wityhout making the USA look like a horde of pitchfork and torch carrying fools.
skycap you got a point, we make the worst porno movies in America but want to play puritans by not showing t i t s on regular tv where in Europe they are laughing their arses off...and saying murder movies cutting people to pieces is an American specialty ...this is so funny its unreal
Maybe if Polanski appealed to Hugo Chavez for mediation or converted to a murderous version of Islam, Obama would personally quash the proceedings.

All this is being allowed to happen while we're trying to establish a united front with the Europeans regarding the Iranian bomb.

(Btw, the foregoing is irrespective of the low regard in which I hold Polanski.)

Addendum 20090928. Polanski's lawyers may have provoked the arrest by, in effect, taunting the authorities that they had not done so.

Did I Do a Good Deed?

Victor Davis Hanson claims that the Japanese decision to attack the US was a rational risk. I suggested:
VDH, maybe you should make that course & others available via Internet or DVD. I wouldn’t purchase it at the moment, but I would when I stop living off capital.

Would there be a demand? That your overseas tour is filling up so quickly suggests there might.
I respect Hanson and wouldn't want him to lose money--but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

September 26, 2009

When the French Call You a Surrender Monkey... might have a problem[1].

The French embassy posted Sarkozy's speech to the Security Council:
We say: reductions must be made. And President Obama has even said, “I dream of a world without [nuclear weapons].” Yet before our very eyes, two countries are currently doing the exact opposite. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council resolutions. Since 2005, Secretary-General, the international community has called on Iran to engage in dialogue. An offer of dialogue was made in 2005, an offer of dialogue was made in 2006, an offer of dialogue was made in 2007, an offer of dialogue was made in 2008, and another one was made in 2009. President Obama, I support the Americans’ outstretched hand. But what did the international community gain from these offers of dialogue? Nothing. More enriched uranium, more centrifuges, and on top of that, a statement by Iranian leaders proposing to wipe a UN member State off the map.

What are we doing? What conclusions are we drawing? There comes a time when facts are stubborn and decisions must be made.
How can we accept this? What conclusions can we draw from it? I say that at some point, all of us – regardless of our positions in other respects – will have to work together to adopt sanctions and to ensure that the UN Security Council’s decisions are effective.
Maybe France's historical scars give her credibility on this issue.
[1] I can't resist the surrender-monkey cheap shot, but acknowledge that every government, including mine, has made calamitous policies and decisions.

September 21, 2009

Mary Travers 1936-2009

This moved me to mark her passing.

Our lives are all too short, but beloved art lives long.
A singer's rarest encore is to be outlived by her song.
One fall day it happened, Mary's voice sang nothing more...
...For she flew with magic dragons to some Honaleean shore!


September 18, 2009

Hurricane Ike: Aftermath and One Year Later

These photos are worth seeing. These too, although they're smaller. (HT: Weather Underground.)

September 17, 2009

How to Fix NASA

Rand Simberg has been blogging about a commission chaired by the eminent Norman Augustine. Unfortunately, vested interests are determined to preserve the status quo.

I'm guessing that the next meaningful step will be taken by private industry or the Chinese.

Ever minded to civic helpfulness, I have a modest proposal to improve NASA: merge it into the Department of Agriculture.

September 16, 2009

September 14, 2009


On 14 September 2009, in Charles Johnson's post Tea Party Logo: Lifted From Communist Designs, commenter 'Koedo' asked, "Could you please answer these two questions if you feel inclined to? How would you describe yourself politically now? What political organizations do you support or align with now?"

No response from Johnson.

Save Those Good Union Jobs

If Daniel Drezner is worried about Obama's tariffs against Chinese tires, I'm worried too.

Is this an attempt to stir up a foreign controversy to deflect attention from Obama's dropping domestic popularity? Maybe, maybe not.

The Chinese are prickly about their national honor. Historically, Western nations have been too.

Today's "enlightened" Westerners, not really.

"See Baby Discriminate"

The Newsweek piece with the above title is so stupid, irresponsible and evil that I'll probably fume about it for some time. In contrast to my usual practice of attaching addenda, I may make ongoing changes to the body of this post.

At first reading, this paragraph has more stupidity crammed into it than any other in the article:
That leads to the question that everyone wonders but rarely dares to ask. If "black pride" is good for African-American children, where does that leave white children? It's horrifying to imagine kids being "proud to be white." Yet many scholars argue that's exactly what children's brains are already computing. Just as minority children are aware that they belong to an ethnic group with less status and wealth, most white children naturally decipher that they belong to the race that has more power, wealth, and control in society; this provides security, if not confidence. So a pride message would not just be abhorrent—it'd be redundant.
It's Western civilization, not the so-called white race, you smug numbskulls!

In their hearts of hearts, do the authors conflate pride in Western civilization with white racism? I'm guessing that they do.

I called the article evil. Here's why:
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.
(Btw, I'm an agnostic.)

I'm in Love, but, Alas, Unworthy

Interviewed at Yahoo's Tech Ticker, Liz Ann Sonders suggests that, as in the past, "innovation and creativity" might make the economic recovery stronger than most people think. She says that the business sector is in relatively healthy financial shape.

I hope she's correct. Honoring her cautious optimism, I won't go into the reasons that come to mind why she might not be.

September 13, 2009

Norman Borlaug 1914-2009


He didn't wring his hands about the future. He got dirt and callouses on them and changed it.

September 11, 2009

September 6, 2009


The Associated Press ran a photo of a dying Marine in Afghanistan.

September 5, 2009

Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Spoils System

Charles Johnson quotes Hawthorne:
I do detest all offices — all, at least, that are held on a political tenure. And I want nothing to do with politicians. Their hearts wither away, and die out of their bodies. Their consciences are turned to india-rubber, or to some substance as black as that, and which will stretch as much.
Nathaniel Hawthorne lost a couple of jobs to the spoils system; today those positions would be protected by civil-service protocols. Otoh, he was not above accepting a cushy consular appointment from his friend Franklin Pierce after campaign services rendered.

A Good Question

XP suffered from a similar problem, but in my opinion it is worse in Vista.

All these years of development, and we still have to put up with this.

Why is it that third party file managers can handle different views and columns and remember them, but Microsoft can't seem to manage it?

August 31, 2009

What's Hawaiian for Reconquista?

And how's that multiculti thing working out[1]?

This site tracks the Hawaiian sovereignty issue.

Native Hawaiians can tell a weak horse when they see one:
A Hawaiian Studies professor at the University of Hawaii, Haunani-Kay Trask, is one of the most caustic critics of whites in the islands. In her 1999 book, From A Native Daughter, Trask wrote: "Just as … all exploited peoples are justified in feeling hostile and resentful toward those who exploit them, so we Hawaiians are justified in such feelings toward the haole. This is the legacy of racism, of colonialism."

In a poem titled, "Racist White Woman," Trask wrote: "I could kick/Your face, puncture/Both eyes./You deserve this kind/Of violence./No more vicious/Tongues, obscene/Lies./Just a knife/Slitting your tight/Little heart."
Trask is getting paid by the government to spout this poison?

Turn the islands over to the Japanese or Chinese[2]. Then Prof. Trask will really have something to complain about. Except, of course, she wouldn't dare. Native Hawaiians can also recognize a strong horse. Interesting that the bigotry seems directed toward whites rather than toward the Asian majority...

Btw, where is the healing voice of our Hawaii-born Obamessiah?

Iirc similar things are going on wrt Indian minorities on islands in the Indian Ocean.

(HT: Instapundit.)
[1] Note that the incident of violence is by youths against an elderly man--and the Hawaiian police hushed it up, saying he couldn't get justice in a Hawaiian court.

[2] In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to see Chinese support for the independence movement. In due course if not right now. For their own purposes, of course.

Audit the Fed?!

Barney Frank, like Ron Paul, wants to audit the Fed.

Given Barney Frank's key role in stopping the Bush administration's attempt[1] to reform Fannie Mae, his political career should be over. Instead he is a shoo-in for reelection. He has become even more arrogant[2] and proposes to do even greater damage.

This bill would take us directly to banana-republic status. The number of co-sponsors is itself a step in that direction.

From a Russian Immigrant

...Critics say that greed is the driving force of capitalism. My answer is that envy is the driving force of socialism...
Well put, even if perhaps not original with her.

The whole thing is worth reading.

I Am No Fan of the Kennedys but...

...this counts with me. David Frum was incensed when Kennedy torpedoed the Bork nomination:
For 15 years thereafter I could hardly bear to hear his name spoken. Nor was my temper much improved by his rough handling of another great conservative legalist, Theodore Olson, at Olson’s confirmation hearings as solicitor general. I was always ready to laugh at the harsh jokes conservatives told about the senator’s legendarily self-indulgent personal life. It seemed a fair judgment on an unfair man.

Then came 9/11. Among the murdered was the brave and brilliant Barbara Olson. Ted asked some friends to help with the deluge of messages of condolence, and my wife Danielle volunteered for the job. Among the letters: a lengthy handwritten note by the senator so elegant and decent, so eloquent and (fascinatingly) written in so beautiful a hand as to revolutionize one’s opinion of the man who wrote it. It did not dishonor by ignoring or denying the political differences between the two families. It fully acknowledged them - and through them expressed a deeper human awareness of shared mortality, pain, and grief. Not all chapters of his life revealed it equally, but the senator was a big soul, and in his last years, he lived his bigness fully...
Addendum. Mark Steyn is less charitable. Ditto for Iowahawk.

August 30, 2009

Damn Japanese, Always Stealing Our Ideas

Oops. And bravo to Fujio Masuoka.

(According to the link, Masuoka is a difficult person. I'll put up with difficult people if I see offsetting brilliance. There is a counterpart to the signal-to-noise ratio or Sharpe ratio: the talent-to-arrogance ratio.)

Olmert Indicted

CNN reports. Israel doesn't need this during a period of gathering, not-quite-overt-yet existential threats.

I could never see Olmert as the leader of an important nation like Israel.

He always reminded me of a crooked Chicago alderman.

They're Only Trees, Lady

A worthy soul is desolated that a wind storm wrecked some of her favorite trees in Central Park.

If the country does itself in, will it be because of our stupidity...or our oversensitivity?

My man Fred sez:
Oh grant me the ease that is granted so free,
The birthright of multitudes, give it to me,
That relish their victuals and rest on their bed
With flint in the bosom and guts in the head.
No doubt with mixed feelings, but I'm sure he knew he had a point.

Afterthought. Compared to some, that NYC lady is a stoical moderate.

August 29, 2009

What Did They Do to Dennis the Menace?

The comic books of the late 1950s described the helter-skelter antics of a blonde hellion.

I recently came across a couple of later, 1970s issues.

The poor kid seems to have been drugged into submission.

Assisted Suicide

I have been livid about the arrests in Georgia. Then I happened to read the story more closely and learn that the witnesses hold the subject's hands for "emotional support":
Mr. Humphry said the network’s protocols were deliberately written to avoid illegality. “The person does everything themselves,” he said. “They don the hood. They tie it around their neck. They reach forward. They turn on the gas.”

Guides often hold a dying person’s hands, he said, but for support, not restraint. [Boldface mine--gs]
I know they mean well, but that is a really really foolish action: unbelievably foolish in this era of aggressive hypocritical theocrats. Why don't they put a hand on the head or shoulder?

Addendum. Now them good ole GBI boys done bagged themselves a pastor. If the religious right concluded that the police are out of control--unlikely, IMO--, something might get done about it.

Btw, I recently watched the Dirty Harry movies again. They reminded me how scared people were during the 70s as criminals were running amok. The solution itself has become a problem.

See this too.

August 28, 2009

Let's Not Do This

We're not the only society that can be incredibly dumb in hindsight:
Fujio Masuoka says that Toshiba tried to demote him after he invented a $76 billion product.

August 25, 2009

Glenn Reynolds Exaggerates

He claims:
The real problem is that we’ve got the worst political class in American history.
Since Reconstruction, anyway.

Addendum 20091004. Seeing the fecklessness of the civilized world as Iran marches toward a nuclear bomb, I have to reconsider whether Reynolds exaggerates. He quotes Victor Davis Hanson:
I am not a fan of the Obama agenda. But I am don’t want an impotent Commander in Chief abroad for three very dangerous years to come. So I am worried that the U.S. will be crippled with a weak, unpopular executive, as happened to Bush (35% approvals) in 2007-8. Our currency is tanking. Our debts are climbing. Our energy needs are breaking us. Our borrowing is out of control. The country is divided in a 1859/1968 mode. And the world is smiling as Obama, now hesitant and without the old messianic confidence, presides over our accepted inevitable decline. The country needs to buck up and meet these challenges head on, since the world smells blood, whether in Iran, Russia, the Mideast, North Korea, or South America, and in a mere 9 months of the reset button.

The world smells blood.

August 21, 2009

"Court Expected to Send Runaway Teen Home Despite Muslim Honor Killing Fears"

She's 17. The Fox report is here. Unlike the Schiavo case, this might be an matter that calls for high-level intervention.

It's not clear whether the report is complete and accurate. It's not clear that her family will harm or kill her if she is returned.

However, if the worst happens, the people who are forcing her back should be prosecuted as accessories. (I know, fat chance...I wrote "should be prosecuted"...)

August 20, 2009

XKCD's Asteroid

Here. First pane: an asteroid heads toward Earth. Second pane: NASA dispatches a spacecraft to nuke it. Third pane: jubilation at NASA as the spacecraft lands successfully. Fourth panel: standing between a blooming flower and the spacecraft, a humanoid inhabitant of the asteroid watches as the countdown concludes.

My, isn't that intelligent, sensitive, caring and ethical? And, unspoken but above all, superior.

Let's assume the inhabitants of the asteroid are more or less like us. They aren't evil invaders, and they aren't gentle benevolent sages. And let's assume that our only recourse is to blow the asteroid up.

What would the enlightened cartoonists at XKCD have us do? If we had the ruthlessness to kill to survive, would they condemn us or would they decline to do so?
I view the situation as a potential metaphor for our civilization. Note also that, in the cartoon, the alternative to blowing up the asteroid is letting it crash into our planet, annihilating life on both. That, too, may be a metaphor for the predicament into which our civilization is heading. Hopefully not, but I'm not ruling it out.

The truly challenging dilemma is a them-or-us scenario in which only one civilization must destroy the other in order to survive. XKCD doesn't even try to examine that. Too traumatic for their delicate sensibilities?

August 17, 2009

That Rootin'-Tootin' American Frontier Spirit

From red-state Texas, of all places:
CORPUS CHRISTI — Police can arrest people who don't leave town under mandatory evacuation orders under a new state law that goes into effect in the heart of Texas' hurricane season.
A little more here.

Your home is your castle unless the State decides otherwise.

I don't read Glenn Reynolds much since he changed from being a commentator to being an aggregator, but I chanced on this:
The real problem is that we’ve got the worst political class in American history.
I'm not sure that's hyperbole[1]. And what they're doing to the country in the name of "God" or "social justice" might get them written into history as traitors.

Not that the self-righteous corrupt pharisaical scum care as long as they get their way.
[1] After further consideration, I think it is hyperbole...somewhat.

August 10, 2009

Interesting Paper

Here. It appears to bring a lot of boundary-of-knowledge fundamental physics within reach of a determined reader with a general technical background.

August 7, 2009

Geoengineering News

The Telegraph reports:
'Cloud ship' scheme to deflect the sun's rays is favourite to cut global warming

The "cloud ships" are favoured among a series of schemes aimed at altering the climate which have been weighed up by a leading think-tank.

The project, which is being worked on by rival US and UK scientists, would see 1,900 wind-powered ships ply the oceans sucking up seawater and spraying minuscule droplets of it out through tall funnels to create large white clouds.
Promising. More like this, please.

But beware of unintended consequences:
Hungry shrimp eat climate change experiment

It is another nail in the coffin of using ocean fertilisation to cool the planet. Early results from the latest field experiment suggest the technique will fail.
Beware defeatist civilizational death wishes too.

And beware of foolishness:
The Met Office has lost its authority on global warming

So much for the “barbecue summer” forecast by our state meteorologists. Not that this is the first time they have been mistaken. Unless my memory is playing tricks, 2007 and 2008 were forecast to be warm and dry summers. In the event, they were nothing of the sort. The Met’s repeated predictions of of temperature rise have, so far, proved demonstrably false.

The chap responsible for the bish was on television just now explaining that his office had only ever predicted a 65 per cent likelihood of warm sunshine. Fair enough. But if his staff can’t accurately forecast the weather two months in advance, why should we let them speak with such sacerdotal authority about what the temperature will be a century from now?
Good grief. Three words: Signal. To. Noise. The more observations you take, the more clearly a long-term signal, i.e. climate, emerges from random noise, i.e weather.

August 4, 2009

More Brit Dhimmitude

LGF commenter zombie notes:
Meanwhile, while you're all being distracted, civilization continues to disintegrate: Three policewomen spend full day dressed in Muslim burkhas in controversial 'In Your Shoes' exercise
And just ten years ago this was shaping up as another American Century... (Yes, we're talking about the UK but we're often not far behind them on this kind of thing.)

1. This kind of thing does not come out of the blue. Where are the ideas coming from? Who gave the order? Cui bono? Why was no effort made to identify them, let alone hold them accountable? Sloppy journalism. Ineffectual opposition.

2. A modest proposal. To really understand Islamic culture, the policewomen should personally experience the mindset of the Muslim males who put women into these costumes. A field trip to Saudi, perhaps?

3. Another modest proposal.
Sergeant Leonard said the experience had given her a greater appreciation of how Muslim women feel when they walk out in public in ‘clothing appropriate to their beliefs’.
Well, Sgt, while you're on that field trip being temporarily adopted into a Saudi family, stroll around in clothing appropriate to your personal beliefs and see what happens.

4. A police spokesman speaks.
‘This exercise is just one of many activities South Yorkshire Police have planned with communities and ethnic minority leaders to secure strong relationships, celebrate diversity and encourage integration, working towards a safer, closer society,’ she added.
I'd like to believe that but I don't. My difficulty is that these oh-so-subtle ploys by the host culture are indistinguishable from gutless rationalizations by spineless elites.

Unless it's the host culture that is supposed to do the integrating.

5. Announcement by the Home Secretary. Effective immediately, in the interests of diversity, social cohesion and multicultural integration, members of the Islamic faith will be referred to as 'The Faithful'. Usage of the term 'Muslim' is left to the discretion of The Faithful. Usage by any others will be considered hate speech. /

July 26, 2009

What Planet Do Politicians Live On?

CNN reports that a Border Patrol agent was killed near the border in the San Diego area:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano vowed to "find and bring to justice" those responsible for the killing.

"This act of violence will not stand -- nor will any act of violence against the Border Patrol," she said in a written statement.
What do you mean it will not stand, you dumb (*expletive*)? He's dead.

Condolences to Agent Robert Rosas's family.

To the Slammer with You, Tom Edison!

An inventor working on fuel cells was criminally prosecuted for not putting a sticker on an otherwise legal UPS package. When he was acquitted, another pretext to jail him was fabricated. See here, here, here, and here.

Before you try to do something for the body politic, you have to get permission from each of multiple parasites.

Addendum 20091007. The Washington Times has taken notice. Apparently there will be follow-up to the Congressional hearings cited by the original post.

July 20, 2009

It Was Forty Years Ago Today...

A small step and a giant leap.

Many more small steps there, please. Economically sustainable ones.

July 18, 2009

Cracks in Mitt Romney's Healthcare Plan

Noted by an LGF commenter. See also this and especially this.

I've wondered why Mitt Romney didn't run for a second term in 2006. My best guess was that he didn't want to risk failure. I'd like to see more boldness than that in a President.

Now I also wonder if he didn't want to be in office when the flaws in his healthcare program became obvious.

"Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others"

Amazon sold a couple of Orwell novels on its Kindle device. When the electronic editions turned out to be unauthorized, Amazon removed the books from customers' Kindles without their knowledge or permission. Electronic refunds were provided.

in a piece whose title I have used, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue quotes a reader:
As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.
When the Kindle came out, I said:
Not mentioned in the pitch is that the buyer pays $399 for the privilege of being subjected to Amazon's digital rights management.
This event might be the kind of glitch that is likely during a new product's shakeout period, but imagine what malicious gifted hackers could do.

Addenda 20090719. 1. For that matter, why--rhetorical question--is Orwell still under copyright?

2. Interesting thought here: what if DRM is not used to delete books, but to modify them?

It's my impression that the Victorians bowdlerized Shakespeare and other writers who offended their delicate sensibilities. Why not do the same today? For example, rewrite American classics to harmonize with Dominionism, multiculturalism, environmentalism, Afro- or Eurocentrism, etc. The Clinton administration has already insinuated propaganda into prime time programming: see here, here, and here, for example. Recall the Bellesiles case.

July 16, 2009

Hanson on Palin

Victor Davis Hanson sticks up for Palin (another copy is here), but says she needs a learning period before she can operate on the national stage.

Hanson is much more favorably disposed toward Palin than I have become, but I agree with him.

Somebody else who might be quietly loading up on gravitas is Mike Huckabee. If the country is in trouble in 2012 and Huckabee can handle a hostile interview with an MSM heavyweight, he will have a legitimate chance.

The above is meant as an assessment, not an endorsement. Huckabee, like Hillary, reminds me of Nixon.

July 10, 2009

A Site Worth Seeing

The Discovery of Global Warming.

To date I've only glanced at it, but I had no idea that the path of research was so laborious and counterintuitive. I guess a toy model simply cannot capture what is going on. Afaic the track record to date implies the surprises are not over.

The Russians Play Obama Like a Balalaika

It was all progress and breakthroughs and smiles for the cameras during his Russian visit. Right afterwards:
Medvedev warns US against missile shield
Charles Krauthammer:
The signing ceremony in Moscow was a grand affair. For Barack Obama, foreign policy neophyte and "reset" man, the arms reduction agreement had a Kissingerian air. A fine feather in his cap. And our president likes his plumage.
(HT: LGF) In other words, the Russians let Obama preen on ceremonial occasions. Then they resume pressure.

Most astute of them, unfortunately.

July 7, 2009

Obama and Palin Speak

In Moscow:
The future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground.
Really dumb thing to say.

Speaking of dumb, that's what Palin thinks her supporters are.
Time: Why July 3? Because I think that date more than anything set people off — right before the three day weekend. People assume scandal.
Palin: Yeah, that's amazing to me. That hit me like a ton of bricks there, this assumption that there must be something more to it than the altruistic, sincere and articulated reasons why I know that this is best for Alaska, that there was speculation that there must be scandal.
Palin is so selfless and high-minded that it comes as a complete shock when somebody suggests she has ulterior motives.

This is interesting too:
Palin: ...It's that our administration is so stymied and paralyzed because of a political game that has been chosen to be played by critics who have discovered loopholes in the ethics reform that I championed that allows them to continually, continually bombard the state with frivolous ethics violation charges, with lawsuits, with these fishing expeditions.
So Palin is responsible for the bad law?

After reading that interview, I'm actually starting to think that Huckabee would be a less cataclysmic President than Palin. The only people who will support Palin are the people who think Bush belongs on Mount Rushmore.

July 6, 2009

Parasitical Complexity

Why do we suddenly need an academic whiz in charge of things? What changed?
Core principles are essential. Competence is essential. Ideas are essential. Pedigrees are not essential.

We don't need an academic whiz, but we need someone who understands that our society has been deliberately impaired by complexity that special interests have introduced for their own purposes. The metastasized system of laws and government regulations is the biggest example, but there are others.

Obviously, a technology-based civilization involves complexity. My point is that the parasitical complexity has been deliberately intermingled with constructive complexity so one can't be removed without disrupting the other. (Not to mention unintended consequences.) This threatens to bring the nation to stagnation or even collapse. We don't need academic whizzes as leaders, but we do need people who understand how a.w.'s operate: people who will undo the harm facilitated by a.w.'s and preserve & cultivate the benefits.

I'd love to see a leader who has an ordinary background and demonstrates a core understanding of the Founders, Hayek, Friedman, etc. A core understanding: this isn't 1960, let alone 1790.

July 4, 2009

The Divine Sarah

From Palin's Facebook page (HT: commenter Susan at The Secular Right):
The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the “politics of personal destruction”. How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it’s right for all, including your family.

I shared with you yesterday my heartfelt and candid reasons for this change; I’ve never thought I needed a title before one’s name to forge progress in America. I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint. I hope you will join me. Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness!

God bless you! And I look forward to making a difference – with you!


What next?

She's keeping my attention, I'll give her that.

July 3, 2009

I Fear Heights, but This Is Impressive

All-glass exposed viewing decks on the Sears Tower. Even the images make me queasy.

I bet that this is just the beginning as materials get better. (Outside glass staircases, presumably covered but who know? Outside transparent slides between floors. High-altitude slides or walkways between buildings.)