Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Why would anyone want to be a nurse? Can't they find better jobs? Or do they just like wiping up feces, sticking people with needles, and watching people die?

Why would anyone be a cop? Taking out the social garbage every day at risk of life and limb - there can't possibly be a socially acceptable reason for it. They must all be losers who can't find better jobs. Or maybe they're just sociopaths looking for people to lock up and shoot.

Why would anyone be a fireman? You run *out* of burning buildings, not *in* - obviously they're not very smart. I guess it gives them a chance to loot houses as the evidence crumbles and burns behind them, eh?

After hearing the kind of contemptible crap John Kerry and Charles Rangel have said about our military, why would anyone be a Democrat?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The world as your monitor

Yes, much of my life has been wasted. Part of that has been spent playing computer games like FreeCell. Far too laborious if done with actual playing cards, it's OK if a computer takes care of the scut work.

Stadium sports have always been designed to use a fixed pattern of marks on the field, whether they be boundaries, yard markers, hash marks, base paths, or whatever else. What kinds of new games might develop if the fields could change dynamically during play?

So have I found a new way to waste time? Maybe not - check out this article in Forbes:
Imagine this: you pull in your driveway after a long day at the office, step out of your car, and suddenly your lawn, yes, your lawn, lights up with a "Welcome Home, Honey!" Or how about this: The military has a runway deep in enemy territory that it wants to keep from getting blown up, so it changes the color of the landing turf to brown to blend in with the surrounding desert. When a plane comes in for a landing, two strips of lights appear. After the plane has landed, with a push of a button the strip reverts to camouflage mode.

Sounds cool, right? This technology will be available soon, making its grand entrance as a National Football League field. Mark Nicholls, the founder and chief executive of Sportexe, the number two maker of artificial turf in the NFL, has patented the process of "tufting" fiber optics with blades of plastic grass. "We will be able to turn the football field into a giant Jumbotron," says Nicholls.

A field can display a huge American flag during the national anthem. At halftime a sponsor such as Budweiser could cover the field with its logo. During the game, that virtual first-down marker you see on your TV could now be on the field itself before the ball is snapped. And because sensors beneath the fibers can sense when any given blade's light is obscured, referees can track the footsteps of a player to determine if he was in-bounds or not. Stadium owners would welcome the technology as well, as it would help them get more use out of the field: A few mouse clicks is all it takes to change the field from a gridiron to a soccer pitch. Compare that to the 2.5-hour, $650 process of cleaning and repainting lines on today's artificial fields.
Hmm. Maybe one day we'll be able to, say, sell our roofs to an advertiser, who would assume permanent maintenance responsibilities in return for a billboard he could control from half a world away. Billboards could become big TV monitors. Highways could restripe. Large objects could change color instantly - they could even become invisible. Sheesh, you could redecorate the house ten times a day.

I really need to get some work done.

Home is where the harm is

When a certain family rugrat was small I caught her playing by a toilet. Her mother thought me paranoid when I told her of the kids who died each year from pitching in headfirst and drowning.

In fact, it can even happen in a bucket. The kids are so topheavy that if they go in head first and there's enough water in the bowl, that's it - they're not likely to be able to get themselves out. They won't even be able to scream for help. And Mom would only have to be out of the room for a couple of minutes...

And now we read this. At least it wasn't a toilet, but this would be worse. With a little imagination it becomes Poe-like - slowly getting wedged in a little farther with every exhalation, possibly over hours, until breathing became impossible.

Maybe I've been scarred by my nuclear power days, which I spent mostly looking for things that could go wrong and what could be done about them. Or maybe it's remembering a house that I lived in as a kid - the heater that always made my mother nervous while we lived there eventually started a fire that burned it to the ground. But the fact is that this is the time of year that lots of people die at home in ways they probably never gave a second thought to.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Objectivity AP style

From here:
The bloodshed underlined the impotence of the Iraqi army and police to quell determined sectarian extremists at a time when the Bush administration appears to be considering a move to accelerate the hand-over of security responsibilities.
It must not take too many brains to become a journalist if they needn't be able to distinguish between, say, failing and being a failure. They may ultimately be right in this case, but this article isn't enough to prove it. Did they just screw up this once, or are they incompetent and/or biased?

Do the usual suspects (ACU, ADA..) or anyone else rate newspapers for objectivity? Is lack of objectivity in reporting considered an ethical lapse among journalists?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Crumbs from the table

!@#$! Colby Cosh, the Canuckistani. *Just try* to link to one of his posts. It'd be different if his blog stunk, but it's one of my favorites, and every trip seems to generate a couple of linkworthy items. So let's see how long it takes before this link rots.

Anyway, yes, I know that the great Milton Friedman is dead. I didn't acknowledge it until now only because I had no idea what I could add. But CC came up with a story I hadn't heard before, showing how some people could have made an impressive career out of stuff Milton Friedman probably didn't even include on his CV.

What happens to abandoned blogs


That'll never happen here. I may (have) run out of things to write, but that won't stop me.

Driving a truck isn't what it used to be

There were some truckers in my family, and in younger years I'd ride with them once in a while. If nothing else, I learned that I didn't want to be a trucker.

But it's getting more livable out there. I still don't want to be a trucker, but nowadays it might take a couple more weeks longer before I lost my mind.

An interesting perspective on Iran

Quoth Spengler:That's just the most eye-catching part - it's all worth a look.

I don't recall where I found this, but a good bet was in the comments on Austin Bay's blog. It's always worth a look anyway.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Time to invest in micro CHP?

Maybe. But first it would be nice to know what it is.

CHP is "combined heat and power". It's really old news in industrial settings that use a lot of heat and power, but the typical implementations require lots of capital, space and skilled attention. And the proportions of heat and power are essentially fixed - one or the other will be either supplemented or wasted to match the actual demands.

Micro-CHP is an prepackaged implementation, like an appliance, designed for residential application. See this for an example.

Why buy it? You can generate your own heat and power for prices comparable to that for heat alone using readily available gas. And although the systems are not available yet, around 2007 they should be available as residential backup power systems.

Drawbacks: capital costs mean you'll wait a while for your full payback. And it still uses fossil fuels.

Electric utilities have mixed emotions about these devices. To understand why it helps to recognize a couple of things about the power business.

It's the peaks in load that are expensive to service - power generating companies must have the capacity to service it yet they can only use this capacity at peaks, which means high costs. Imagine if you could get by with a Beetle 99% of the time, but the rest of the time you might have to drive into a swamp or need to travel over 100 MPH, so you had to have a Land Rover and a Maserati on standby. It might be fun, but it's not something you make money with.

And these higher costs can be exacerbated when power distribution companies are forced to bid against each other for power during the very highest peaks. In severe cases businesses will shut down deliberately to reduce load, which of course is an economic hit to the business and community. At the worst there will be blackouts when utilities find themselves incapable of delivering power.

In short, electric utilities want to mitigate peak demands when they can. Micro-CHP can help if the peak demand is in heating season.

In cooling season? The heat must be rejected somewhere, which both adds capital costs and reduces the usable energy output for a given input. Under exceptional circumstances this might be worthwhile, but I wouldn't expect much of this.

Anyway, this might be the Next Big Thing, if only for the kind of people who like to buy hybrid cars nowadays. And it shows potential to do much more. Check out more here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Remedial manners training

Jimmy K offers some advice.

As for the creep from the library, I say that as long as he's still lipping off, he could use another zap from the taser. Maybe if he sees enough stars he'll realize the universe doesn't revolve around his sorry butt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

If you like "Dancing with the Stars"....

...why not get a dose of the real thing? One of the premier competitions in the world is in progress right now in Columbus, Ohio - the Ohio Star Ball.

Here you'll see competitive dancing as it's really done. Notice how the women get the short end of the stick on "Dancing with the Stars"? In a real competition, amateur women don't compete against amateur men. And they shouldn't because there are two distinct, not totally commensurable roles.

And of course on DWTS one couple has the entire floor to themselves, with music they've been practicing to. In the real world you don't know what will be played, and you'll have many other couples sharing the floor at the same time. Even among the top pros, collisions and near-misses happen, and how people deal with that ("floorcraft") is an important measure of their talent and composure.

If this sounds interesting, then be ready to go to downtown Columbus on Friday or Saturday. The pros, like local heroes Jesse DeSoto and professional partner Jackie Josephs, will be competing around that time. If Jesse sounds familiar, he's the poor guy who had to carry that heavy load called Shanna Moakler in the most recent DWTS.

Actually there is plenty of competition on other days too - it actually started on Tuesday. Most of this is "pro-am" - a professional teacher with a student. This is the minor leagues where you find guys like me, dancing to shorter passages on smaller floors through countless heats. But somewhere out there you'll find tomorrow's champs.

The pros really earn their money in the pro-am events. Some like Jim Maranto will have many advanced students there doing countless dances and heats. A couple of years ago I asked one particularly busy pro how many times he'd been on the floor and he said it was on the order of 400 times. When you consider that this was with different students doing different routines in different dances at different levels, each with their own unique restrictions, it's quite a feat of stamina and concentration.

Can't make it? You'll get another shot - once again PBS will be there recording, and the show will be broadcast sometime later as "America's Ballroom Challenge" or something like that.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


...to the Democrats for their newfound position. Isn't it amazing what happens when the focus shifts from bitching about chads to finding better candidates?

Now let's see if they use this power for the benefit of themselves or for that of the country. With the likes of Conyers, Waxman, Leahy, Rangel and previously impeached judge Alcee Hastings in line for committee chairs, it doesn't look good.

But it could be fun to watch. In particular, I'm waiting for Rangel to call for a draft again. And how long can it be before Conyers starts his impeachment nonsense?

One thing for sure - the tone of the news will change.


Donald Rumsfeld is a fine man who did an admirable job as Secretary of Defense.

This is a sincere complement, but I can't match that of his opponents, whose rabidity was a constant reminder that he was doing well.

This woman needs to lose her job

Is she saying that the University of Michigan was no good before it started its diversity kick?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hotel owners busted as identity thieves

This ought to warm the hearts of travelers everywhere, especially if they're using their own credit cards. And although we're talking local owners so far, at least two of the motels busted were Holiday Inns. More here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Make your own Stirling engine

Right here. (pdf)

And while you're there, take a look around at other stuff from Make magazine.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Good issue gone bad

Glenn Reynolds links to an item on Daily Kos here, noting the plight of some Bulgarian and Palestinian health professionals in Libya. IMO this provides a terrific example of partisan politics fouling up an otherwise universal cause.

It seems that the health professionals were working in Libya when an outbreak of HIV among children occurred. I'm not a health pro, but my first guess would be that someone compromised on hygiene wrt medical instruments, blood screening, blood storage, or reusing syringes.
In a nutshell, and I mean a true nutshell, for those of you not familiar, the case involves five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who have been wrongfully charged for allegedly infecting children with HIV. They were tortured and forced to sign "confessions" written in Arabic they did not understand now they are awaiting execution by firing squad in Libya . In fact, the poor hygiene, dirty needles and bad practices in the hospital are to blame.
Now the writer ought to consider whether she wants universal support or if she just wants to appeal to lefties. That is, does she want a solution or an issue?

Consciously or not, her choice is clear - she wants the issue, even if it costs lives. She signals this in several ways.

First, she focuses on torture, denying the possibility that torture could produce anything useful. Whether that is true or not, it's not clear that it's relevant because the same Libyan court denied testimony from Luc Montagnier about HIV (it appears that the infected children already had HIV before the defendants even arrived in Libya). Being a lefty, she's incapable of criticizing a totalitarian govt that is not an ally of the US, so she has nothing more to say about Libyan justice or govt. Sorry sweetie, but IMO it's clear that the fix was in - someone high up in Libya is covering his ass, and there would have been confessions as a fig leaf if only by forgery or deception.

Of course, she drags in the fact that Libya has oil, This is a total non-sequitur to anyone but a lefty, Does she *really* think this influences press coverage?

She proclaims "Healthcare is a disaster in the United States", Beyond being a non-sequitur, only a lefty could proclaim something so asinine. After all, she notes that we don't reuse needles over here as they do all over Africa and elsewhere for lack of resources - just what word does she use for those other places? And as she noted, Libya has oil - if they can't afford more needles, who can?

She notes a Clinton initiative for health in Africa without even acknowledging Bush's health initiatives in Africa. Alas! - Bush's initiatives are mostly for malaria. To a lefty, it's always about sex - they might want to sleep with Africans, but they're not likely to live in Africa, so spending on localized, nonvenereal killers like malaria is a waste of money. And anything good that might happened has to be credited to lefties.

Yep, I'm being at least as tendentious as she is, but only to serve my point, which is 1) she loaded her message with irrelevant partisan BS, and 2) this does not serve the cause she claims to embrace. Why not simply state that the 6 foreign professionals in Libya are in danger of being executed for something that evidence shows they couldn't have done?

Universal issues need universal statements. We have environmentalism as an example of an issue with universal appeal that has been poisoned because lefties insist on defining the issues and controlling the responses. Let's not let it happen again.

We still don't have a stupidity vaccine

There are countless expressions and stories about what happens to critical thinking abilities during sexual arousal. I don't know what Cathy Seipp was doing when she wrote this article, but this time at least the "religious fanatics" are thinking more clearly than she.

Ms. Seipp writes
An anti-STD vaccine no more encourages promiscuity than locking your doors at night encourages burglars.
OK, odds are that she doesn't live in an RV. Most people can't move their homes to less secure neighborhoods. But people can incur more risk of STDs and might well do so if convinced that they were no less safe than before. And even if vaccines were 100% effective they would only work on one of the numerous STDs out there, and never mind pregnancy.

Ms. Seipp is smart and presumably raised a smart daughter who won't, um, park the RV in the wrong part of town so to speak. But other mothers and daughters are not so blessed, and what works for the Seipps might not make a good universal prescription. In any case, it doesn't call for a gratuitous slam against "religious fanatics".

Look, I'm a Cathy Seipp fan and I hope she makes a full recovery soon. But if I settled for stuff like this I'd be a Democrat.

Monday, September 18, 2006


My hometown had a small river that was muddy as can be. It wasn't known for its "diversity" - legend had it that there were some catfish in there, but usually all you'd ever catch were carp, suckers, crawdads and bluegills.

It seems odd that something that could live in that mud could be sensitive, but apparently that is true of the bluegill. In fact, nowadays they're being used to detect toxins in drinking water.

At least this time it's deliberate. Anybody who set foot near Lake Michigan in Chicago in the late 60's can tell you that the fish were telling us something.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fantasy of a lifetime!

Your mileage may differ, but as for me, I hope I can do better than this.

Stolen from The Corner.

Because you want to know

Want to see some science on TV? Try the Food Network.

No, I'm not talking about Alton Brown (this time, anyway). This tiime it's the "Ham on the Street" program, checking to see if wintergreen lifesavers really did emit sparks when bitten.

Yes, they do.

The explanation that was offered said that about any sugar candy would emit ultraviolet radiation when crushed. But wintergreen shows visible light because the UV is absorbed by the methyl salicylate that provides the flavor, and in turn the MS emits a faint visible light.

To cap off the demonstration, host George Duran put a bunch of wintergreen LifeSavers in a food processor in a dark room. By Jove, you could see the sparks fairly clearly, if dimly.

Incidentally, if you should ever be in an industrial setting and you smell wintergreen, you'd probably better head for the exit. Like the mercaptan that they add to natural gas so you can smell it, wintergreen has been used in carbon dioxide (CO2) fire suppression systems to tell you the system has been discharged. And if the fire doesn't get you, the CO2 will.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Well put

XRLQ on Mel Gibson. Figuratively, of course.

Finding our place

We are advised to accept Iran as an established nuclear state.

If they're like this already, then what will they be like when they actually *have* nuclear weapons and a way to deliver them?

Note to the Iranians - if you really want that big conflagration to bring about the 12th Imam, maybe you ought to go nuking the Russians and/or Chinese first. They won't waste any time asking "why do they hate us?" before they glaze Tehran.

Don't cross them

What passes for crime in Scotland

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Unscientific poll

A relative just had a baby in a small hospital in IL. They have a website with a "newborn gallery" where the first names of the babies and parents are listed.

In seven cases only the mother's name was listed. And in six of those, the baby was a girl.

I thought I'd heard somewhere that fathers were more likely to stick around if they had a son. Maybe that's what is going on here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reality and Hollywood - a convergence at last?

Instapundit cites this article about an ad some Hollywood people are taking out in the LA Times that is against terrorism, specifically mentioning Hezbollah and Hamas. (Presumably Nicole Kidman is featured because she's Australian and the paper is Australian).

Well hot diggity dog, could reality be sinking in out there? We'll see. The first bite of crow is always the worst, but there's plenty more to go around.

According to the article, two of the undersigned are Sumner Redstone and Haim Saban. They also happen to be two of the biggest Democrat donors around. Talk is cheap - let's see what they do with their donations now. Because whatever else might be said about Democrats, they're not facilitating efforts against Islamofascism.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A schoolhouse of Davids?

It's hard to go wrong with Stuart Buck's blog, which always has a number of interesting posts. But this one made me think.

In it we heard the typical lament of "teaching to the test". That's only a problem if a) the test is lousy, or b) you resent the idea of having your performance measured, as education establishment personnel always seem to do.

It's not that they have no case at all - you sure can't test everything with true/falses, multiple choice, or the various other types of questions you can grade with a computer. We still need the kinds of insights that only human brains can provide. And to keep the system honest, we need this input from outsiders.

And nowadays we have cheap telecommunications and plenty of people with the skills needed to provide the kind of grading we need (seniors, perhaps). Could such testing be outsourced?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Finish the story!

Headline: Bush sought to cut $6M in screening technology. Why, on it's face it must be an outrage, right?

That's a tempting conclusion. But we aren't told exactly what the $6M was for, nor where it was redirected. In particular, I want to know if it was taken from research in *liquid* explosives detection.

You can bet your sweet patootie that we wouldn't have heard a peep about this but for the latest events in the UK. Instead we might be hearing "why are we spending all this money on explosives detection technology? It's been years since the terrorists blew up a plane, and our boys need more body armor!" or whatever last captured the critics' imaginations.

So I'm not prepared to make this out as if it shows that the Bush administration is screwing up. Give us the rest of the story first. Given the media's persistent bias against Bush, I wouldn't be surprised if the *whole* truth sounded a lot more innocent.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Something light

There's been too much serious news lately. For some mindless levity, check out the immortal duo of Lynne and Tessa, at Official Lynne & Tessa homepage.

Or check out their performances of Barbie Girl, Move Your Feet and others you can find via Google.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Photos that damn Hezbollah

I'm not a "me-too" poster, so ordinarily I wouldn't link to something like this. But it seems that there are still some out there who can't grasp exactly what kind of evil the Israelis are dealing with.

And even if you say "too hell with the Zionists" - even if you're a Muslim that isn't a Shiite - the day will come that they'll be out to kill you.

TV Ears

I have some older relatives who I can hardly stand to visit. They'll have to have the TV on, and it has to be deafening for them to hear it. I understand their problems, but sheesh, don't deafen *me* too.

Has anyone ever tried TV Ears

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Who's afraid of Nathan Myhrvold?

The most feared man in Silicon Valley is no longer this individual (I've learned to say "individual" sometimes when I really mean "SOB"). But a new candidate may now be Nathan Myhrvold.
If you haven't heard of him, catch up here, then watch him here.

Myrhvold says that most companies have policies that inevitably lead to patent infringement. At one point he says emphatically "I know - I was there!" Which is probably as good a time as any to mention that he made his approximately 9 figure net worth with Microsoft.

In the immortal words of Arte Johnson, "verrry interesting".

Firsthand from Lebanon

Michael J. Totten's blog is covering the action in Lebanon. Starthere and go up.

Or if you have the time, start from the beginning of his blog and keep going. It'll keep you busy for a while, but you'll find stuff you won't find anywhere else about the Middle East from a guy who's been walking around there with a camera on his own dime for quite a while now. And yes, he has a tipjar.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Good news for Iraq?

Suppose you are an Islamist terrorist in Iraq. Who would you rather kill - Iraqis or Jews?

Murderous Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has said "We say a no, a thousand no's to Israel and its terrorism, and everybody should know that we in Iraq will not stay quiet against the rampaging Zionists,"

Does that mean that the creeps will be migrating to Lebanon and Syria?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Hindu goddess of Montana

How would you like to go on a long tour in Africa with Ashley Judd? Joshua Trevino did and this is what he observed.

Monday, July 10, 2006

If terrorists had blown the Holland Tunnel...

...what would have happened?

Well, as we engineers try to teach plumbers with limited success, "Friday's payday and (sewage) don't run uphill". If the idea was to flood lower Manhattan, it ain't gonna happen anywhere above sea level. Long term, anyway.

But unless you're a Democrat and/or you work for the Congressional Budget Office, you can't ignore dynamic effects. Let that water go whooshing through that tunnel and it will have a lot of momentum by the time it emerges at the ends. I.e. you'll have a mini-tsumami of sorts, which will wash away a lot of stuff and anyone unfortunate enough to be standing or driving around. Of course this depends on how big a hole you have and how suddenly it materializes, but the idea is that there are more ways to make messes than just flooding.

And while there might not be lasting flooding above the level of the Hudson, there are plenty of things in Manhattan that are built below grade. If you want to know what happens when these flood, just ask a Chicagoan. And if you think there aren't tunnels like this under Manhattan, guess again - here's just one example.

The irreplaceable Kate at Small Dead Animals points us to this, which goes into more related topics.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Try as I might, I can't think of any legitimate reason for urinating on a war memorial. On Canada Day, no less.

What's the appropriate punishment for this? How about revoking the creep's citizenship and shipping him off one-way to someplace like Somalia. Let the bastard learn firsthand how hard-won law and order can be, and who wins it.

This takes guts

Being an organ donor is all well and good, under a couple of conditions. One is that the donor should consent. Two is that the donor should already have died.

You'd think it would go without saying that the cause of death would be something other than removal of the organs to be transplanted, but apparently those inscrutable ChiComs see things differently. Especially if you are Falun Gong. Details here.

What the heck, they're just overgrown embryos anyway.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not your father's diesels

Here Cronaca tells us of a diesel powered vehicle winning at Le Mans, and some people who are powering their diesel cars with cooking oil from Chinese restaurants.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Obnoxious web sites

Attention webmasters - don't send me through a long succession of screens selecting choices and then "prompt me to register" before showing me what I came there for. Do it up front or not at all.

Ooh, that felt good.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dear Santa

Yeah, I love electronic toys. But this gizmo, uses your EVDO cellphone or card to create a broadband router with 4 ethernet ports and wifi.

No, they don't give them away, and even I can't talk myself into getting one now. But there are some rave comments here and here.

Friday, June 30, 2006


I'm not kidding.

The same site offers other products such as a binary clock, "Clone-a-Willie" (if you have to ask, never mind), and other stuff that might not be available at your local Wal-Mart. So go ye forth and stimulate the economy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Real Ugly American interviews Mort Kondracke

...right here


Nowadays I'm working a lot with a guy who's about 15 years younger. Also, he's from a reasonably affluent suburban background with a liberal arts degree (with a subsequent MBA and computer science work) while I'm essentially small-town Midwest/Southern blue-collar with an engineering background. Needless to say, we see the world differently.

Usually I can depend on him to say liberal talking points. Not consciously - it's just what you get from the news environment as the implicit default political position. Bush lied, no WMDs, shouldn't have been a war, what honor killings?, Clinton was cool, etc. Whether I'm having any influence or not, I'm exposing him to stuff he's never seen in the news.

Yesterday it was the trope that people volunteer for the military because of a lack of opportunity at home. There was no analysis behind this that I could tell - just something that he'd heard that made sense to him. It certainly hadn't occurred to him to question it.

I pointed out a few things he didn't seem to acknowledge. He wasn't aware that military pay was so low - he seemed to think it was in the $30s or so. Maybe - if you were high enough rank and/or stuck around long enough. I snooped around and found this. Yeah, you get room, board and medical care such as it is too, but I'm thinking that he and I both would have problems with the working conditions, time off, hours and some other issues. You'll never get rich digging a ditch, but you won't in the service either.

He also didn't seem to realize that it wasn't WWII anymore when, as relatives tell me it was later in the war, the physical was "Can you see lightning? Can you hear thunder? You're 1A". He seemed to think that anybody with the gumption to show up at a recruiting center could sign up and see the world. Sorry, but the service doesn't want just anybody and doesn't take just anybody. It didn't take his fine education to join the military for sure, but even economic coercion wouldn't work for a significant number of people.

He seemed stumped. Then WTF would anyone sign up?

Now we finally had it. There couldn't be any non-economic reason to sign up. Patriotism? A sense of obligation? Recognition of need and willingness to stand up? Respect for a grand tradition? Pride in meeting the standards? Whatever the reasons, thank God they exist and for the people who share them, who make it possible for us to have these discussions from the air-conditioned safety of an anonymous suburban office building. (Oh, he's got issues with the God business too).

Not to slam the guy - he's the product of his environment. He was born privileged, that's all. He just doesn't realize that the greatest privilege he was born with was the same as mine - we were born in the USA.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Goodbye Acidman

A year or so ago I almost drove hundreds of miles to the north Georgia mountains to meet Rob Smith at a blogger get-together.

Too late, he's gone. I'm gonna miss the old cuss and I never even met him. Da Goddess *did* meet him, and had this to say.

Best of luck to Samantha and Quinton. I hope Sam posts info about the services and where to send cards and flowers.

Goodbye Acidman

A year or so ago I almost drove hundreds of miles to the north Georgia mountains to meet Rob Smith at a blogger get-together.

Too late, he's gone. I'm gonna miss the old cuss and I never even met him. Da Goddess *did* meet him, and had this to say.

Best of luck to Samantha and Quinton. I hope Sam posts info about the services and where to send cards and flowers.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The backwards blonde and friends

USA Today recently ran a campaign looking for "Characters". Yes, they found them, and you can see them here.

The winner was the "Backwards Blonde". It appears that if she can spell a word, she can pronounce it backwards. Instantly. Of course it helps that words really don't have accepted pronunciations when spoken backwards, but hey.

The funny thing is that when she dyed her hair another color, the ability went away. No, I made up that part. But it had to be a blonde...

Anyway, she's heading off to chiropractic school soon, where she'll no doubt learn her stuff backwards and forwards.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Spite the power

Our public schools stink. Education majors are typically at the bottom of the heap for SAT and other standardized test scores. Political correctness demands creating students with high self-esteem without negative feedback so that they can be confident about everything yet competent at nothing. And the whole shebang is run by a malevolent gang of parasites masquerading as teachers' unions, supervised by whatever political hacks lurk at the bottom of the talent pool.

Well, I suppose I could have overstated that just a bit. Atlas hasn't shrugged yet -there are still some heroes in our schools (like this one), and they could do even better given the resources. But how can we find them, and how can we get them resources without having them misallocated by the legions of sticky fingered lowlives infesting statehouses and school administrations?

Here's how. Thanks to Tara Smith of Aetiology.

Asymmetrical warfare

Israpundit notes the past idiocy and opportunity for some redemption involving the Presbyterian Church's position on investing in Israel here.

What *I* want is a list of any big corporation that has invested in Gaza since the Israelis left town. Sound investors of *any* creed would dislike the idea of investing where Palestinian leaders (?!) run the show.

This would be another chance for Arabs to show how much they really care for "the plight of the Palestinians". Ha! My bet is that the money that builds Gaza, if it ever happens, will have come from Israel.

No joke

I love oddball expressions, especially with all the of non-native English speakers I work with. A couple of favorites are "busier than a one-armed paperhanger with the seven year itch", or "busier than a peg-legged man in an ass-kicking contest".

And then I saw Discovery Health channel's segment on Barbara Guerra. The segment is "Life with no arms", but that actually understates things - she has kids too.

She's been armless since she was 2 in 1979, when she wandered off and got her hands in an electrical transformer. She was so badly burned that they thought they'd lose her altogether, but instead she just lost both arms. There's not even a joint on her left side, and on the right there's a very short stump.

Think about that the next time things aren't going your way. It has a way of making most problems look like chickenshit.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

George Soros, convicted felon

Read all about it here, thanks to Betsy's Page.

George Soros, convicted felon. George Soros, convicted felon. Oh, it sounds so good. In fact, I think George Soros' name ought to show up first on search engines under "convicted felon". Who wants to help?

Yo quiero Geno's

I've never managed to stop in Philadelphia. When I do, I'll have one of this guy's cheesesteaks even if I have to eat it through a straw.

A bust for a bust

An high school art teacher in TX (Austin, of course) has been busted for appearing topless on a website.

Heavens, it must be those Bible-thumpers on the march again, eh? Of course, at least according to some of the more ignorant commenters on the linked page. Never mind that in any case it's an example of very poor judgment. If she can't stand sacrificing some artistic liberty to be a teacher, then she's in the wrong field anyway.

For you artistic freedom über alles types - if it'll make you feel better, pretend that a Muslim objected.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dancesport! - Chicago's Crystal Ball is this weekend

...at the O'Hare Marriott. Forget "Dancing with the Stars" - this is the real thing, done by amateurs and professionals of all ages.

More here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


You know, we really don't need anyone idolizing Adolf Hitler. But this is really stupid.

At a HS in NY, seniors were permitted to choose a quote to accompany their pictures. Two of them chose quotes from "Mein Kampf":
The quotes picked by Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton, both 18, were attributed to Hitler in the yearbook. Koulermos' read "Strength lies not in defense, but in attack." Compton chose "The great masses of people ... will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one."
Right offhand I'm thinking that someone wasn't paying enough attention - Hitler's name might have been something of a red flag. (Is it possible to graduate from an HS nowadays without knowing his name?)

But really, what harm was done to justify such an abject response from the school district? I'm sure that the creep said "please" and "thank you", etc at various times too, and they're about as relevant to his evil as the quotes chosen. And it would be interesting to see if the same book contained any quotes from, say, Stalin, Chairman Mao or Che Guevara.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The rest of the story

What do you know? - we have ads on TV telling women about how they can get cervical cancer from human papillomavirus (HPV). The one I've seen shows several astonished women swearing to tell everyone.

But why stop there? Why not tell them how they get HPV?

Do they get it from toilet seats? Riding horses? Swimming in public pools? Contaminated tampons? Golly, how do the bugs get up there?

It wouldn't take a genius to figure out that, yes Virginia, it's transmitted by sex. Which means that these ads are opportunities to promote those most sacred of objects, condoms. And sex is never inappropriate in the media nowadays lest we commit the deadly sin of "censorship", so why are they so coy?

Recover waste heat

Now *this* is the kind of technology we can use. A lot of heat goes down residential and commercial drains, and under the right circumstances it can be reused.

Of course the economics have to be right. For example, if a device took more energy or cost more money to fabricate than it could ever recover over its life, it would make no sense.

Anyway, although the article doesn't mention it, this appears to be an application of heat pipes. A heat pipe is a device which can transfer large amounts of heat at small temperature differentials when properly applied - lots of technical background here.

Why is this a big deal? The rate of heat transfer between two objects ordinarily varies increases with increasing differences in temperature between the objects that are exchanging heat, and it decreases as the distance the heat must travel increases. And heat energy is the "leakiest" stuff around - the farther it must go the more of it you will lose even under ideal conditions. So it's terrific if you can exchange a lot of heat at low difference of temperature, because then it "leaks" the least for a given amount of useful transfer.

The bottom line is that you don't want to have to transfer heat very far, and that the less of a temperature difference you have the less useful the heat is. And those two factors account for the fact that you don't see a lot of household waste heat recovery systems.

Put that back!

Little kids want to put everything in their mouths. We adults often tell them things like "spit that out - you don't know where it's been!"

Alas, similar logic applies to flash drives:
according to a recent Secure Network Technologies Inc. audit of a client credit union, 100% of the trojan-laden, password-collecting, network-compromising USB flash drives they planted outside the client's building were unwittingly plugged in, used, and infected their respective host machines.

If you can't stand the heat...

Awww, it seems that some are crying for the 9/11 widows who chose to go public with their opposition to Bush administration policies.

Were they known as authorities on public policy issues before 9/11? If not, why do they suppose that the media has suddenly found their opinions to be worthy of publication?

It's not as if their opinions differ from those of any of thousands of other moonbats. They *do* differ from most of the rest of the 9/11 widows, however, in a way that the media approve, ie, they oppose the current administration.

So they owe their status to their losses. If they enjoy their status, they're enjoying their losses.

No, they can't trade back.

But they can't have it both ways either: once they start running their yaps in public, they lose their halos.

More here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

High tech bleeding control

It's a heck of a price, but we owe a lot of public health and other medical technology to war research. Here are some new advances against bleeding, courtesy of MedGadget.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I'm sicker already...

This blog is still alive basically because I have no standards for output quantity or quality. It's good that others *do* have standards, but not if it means we have to lose an institution like MedPundit. She will be missed.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Wasn't Harriet Miers available?

Ya know, I'm basically sympathetic to managers. After all, they have access to information that I don't. And who has access to more information than the President of the US?

And just what information could have inspired him to appoint this guy?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It must be the tongue

There's this vastly underrated musician named Joe Jackson. He first became known for a song called "Is she really going out with him?" from some time in the late 70's or so. I wonder what he'd have to say about this - a woman married a snake in India.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


They say there's no fool like an old fool, and here's your proof - retirees are having problems with VD.

I guess if you're ever going to get the clap et al, that's the time - you're probably out of the reproductive race anyway, and you're likely to croak before any real long-term effects like cancer hit you.

Of course we get the stock answer about VD - it's about "lack of education". Oh stop it - if half a century or more of near-constant messages about sex isn't enough to pound something in your head you might as well give up. And these are generations who would remember as I do when condom machines and packages always bore the warning "for prevention of disease only".

Think of that, Mom, the next time you're forcing the kids to kiss that older relative...

Monday, May 29, 2006

One of the biggest challenges to racists must be watching and listening to infants and small children. Oh sure, you can tell the Asians from the Caucasians from the Negroids, etc, and maybe a skilled anthropologist could pick up subtler things. But IMO without knowledge of their parents and culture you couldn't predict their future political/social behavior or proclivities by observing them. They all pretty much look and sound the same to me anyway.

It's no surprise that Germans weren't too awfully popular immediately after WWII. And having absorbed as much fighting and bombing as they had, there were plenty of German refugees. Many of these were preschool children, who were sent to places like Denmark.

And this is what happened to some of them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Liquid gold, or P is for plants

Right here.

"Bush must screw the Left every chance he gets."

What more is there to say? (except maybe "face down, squealing like a pig", but neither Bill nor I are classless enough to say that).

Well, I'd make damned sure to clean up the voter rolls too. Bill Clinton gave the game away back when he pushed for "motor voter" in the early days of his first term - he and his ilk want lots of potential illegal voters, to be bought off with your and my tax dollars.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"We share the same biology..."

Medpundit wonders, as I do, just what the Iranians would do with nuclear weapons.

On such occasions I might sometimes consult people with political outlooks different from my own. One such person is Gordon Sumner, aka Sting. He has been quiet lately, but I have an idea of what he might say - re the Cold War he hoped the Russians love their children too.

Well, never let it be said that the Iranians don't love their children. For instance, some Iranians were appalled that when their kids were sent into minefields to clear them, they were blowing up into scattered unidentifiable pieces.

So they changed the policy to wrap the kids up in blankets first, and then they roll across the minefields. They still go boom, but now the body parts stay together for an easier burial.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Are gas prices driving you to drink?

I guess that's ok as long as you're not driving, right? But maybe, like me, you like to keep your options open. Then this is for you. Make your own ethanol with a still, or stay at home and use it for, um, other purposes.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Green houses

In some of the north side burbs of Chicago I saw some modest homes with some immodest prices. I was told that they were "teardowns", and the price was actually lower because of the presence of the modest house. And in the less-than-year's time I've been near the area, I've seen existing homes razed and new, huge homes erected on the spots. I guess that means that people really like living there.

I won't be doing anything like that soon, but if I did, I'd take a close look at this. Check it out and follow links from there.

Certainly some will argue that the resulting house isn't "green" enough. No doubt there is more room for improvement yet. But these improvements usually face stiff appearance, cost and convenience barriers, and we shouldn't let the best be the enemy of the good.

Most of us will probably be backfitting older homes, where there's much less flexibility in the design. But you can always put in more insulation, tighter windows, better hot water heaters or even tankless varieties, attic fans, better weatherstripping, awnings, better drapes, etc.

Check out Hot Air

That's right - hotair.com. Even *I* can remember that one. Anyway, with Michelle Malkin and Bryan Preston involved, it's already terrific and they're just getting started.

If nothing else, take a look at this post. You could be podcasting interviews with people around the world rapidly and cheaply. Sheesh, I may even try it myself. (Don't expect any video of me though - I won't be responsible for any subsequent monitor damage.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Watt todo

There are spectacular ways to get fat or go broke, but most of us do it slowly. Imperceptibly almost - a gizmo here, a candy bar there, an upgrade here, a sliver of that there... Keep at it and you can become poor. Next thing you know you have a country with the world's fattest poor people.

The same thing is happening with energy. We didn't achieve this energy obesity overnight, and we won't get rid of it that way either.

Yet here we go swinging for the fences. Yeah, let's call Congress!

Alright, we have a problem - let's fix it *Right Now!*.

Fat chance. Some things just take so much time and that's it. (That's less true of your finances, but I wouldn't plan on, say, striking oil anytime soon.) If you want to score against energy consumption or obesity, you'd don't swing for the fences - you have to hit for average.

Fine - so how do we reduce our fat electric bills? The leftist way of course is to moan about how someone, somewhere might be making an extra dime and propose that the govt take that dime. Millions for protest, but not one cent for technology! And they're persistent - they'll drive their SUVs to Washington as often as it takes to force the rest of us to conserve energy.

But for the saner part of the population - those of us who *do* things rather than expecting someone else to do it for them - we can resort to both technology and conservation.

Technology? Sure. It's getting to be summertime (I'm in Chicago), and you probably have a houseful of old incandescent light bulbs. These heat the air, which you will then cool again with your air conditioner. Double your money - replace those incandescents with compact flourescents. They look funny, they're expensive, and they get much dimmer if you use them outside in the cold. But they last much longer, they give you more light per unit of electricity, and produce less heat in doing so. And some offer light that is qualitatively different - it's more like sunlight than ordinary incandescent lights. So get to work! 50 watts here, 100 watts there - it adds up.

Of course a gas or charcoal grill isn't the only thing you can cook outside with. For instance if you must eat something steamy like pasta in the summertime, cook it outdoors. With a heavy gauge extension cord and a cheapo hotplate you can avoid heating and humidifying your house at the peak of cooling season.

I won't recommend that you cut back on showers or other hygiene, but you can turn on the bathroom fan while you're showering to blow the steam out of the house/apartment/motel room/whatever. Then shut it back off so you don't blow your cool air back outside.

Your doctor may already be fussing at you to drink more water, especially if you're older. Do it - it'll keep you cooler and make sure you have something to sweat if necessary (and you're always losing some moisture, even in the summer).

I'm willing to bet that we have a lot of kids nowadays who don't know what a clothesline is. You might well be somewhere where they are verboten or impractical, but if not, how about using some free solar and wind power instead of that noisy, hot dryer?

And how about wearing lighter and/or fewer clothes? Or maybe shutting off the TV when you're not around (it uses more power than you think - if you need a companion, the radio is cheaper and cooler). Or if you *must* have a heater in the bathroom, put it on a timer with a manual override (<$10 at Walmart) so it can be toasty warm when you get up without wasting power.

Or how about getting up earlier to use more of that free sunlight? Put shades in your car windows so it doesn't get so hot. Eat more cool stuff like salads and sandwiches....

The list goes on. Any given one might be trivial, but then multiply it by a few million other Americans and we'll have something.

For instance, do you think that we can all reduce our consumption by, say, 300 watt hours per day? You'd get that by switching one 100 watt incandescent bulb that you run for 4 hours per day to its illumination-equivalent 25 watt compact fluorescent. 300M Americans later and you have 90 GWh, which is on the order of 30 nuclear power units' production. Hmm - I wonder if the last batch of antinuke protesters shut off all the lights at home before having their little exhibitions?

Really now, take a look at compact fluorescents. They're getting cheaper, and few things ever saved so much power for so little effort.

Fuelish behavior

No, this blog isn't really "Instapundit Digest". I'm just grabbing something he pointed to for the gazillionth time, that's all. This time it's Lynne Kiesling's post on last year's energy bill and how it's biting us today with higher gas prices.

I'm sure my buddies downstate who grow corn or work for ADM or Staley love the extra, otherwise artificial demand for ethanol, just like they love the sugar price supports that drive so much demand for corn sweetener. I suppose that next year's project is to force everyone to eat some sweet corn with every meal.

Yes, it's really happening - I'm blaming the Republicans! But then I can't be sure that the Dems wouldn't have done something even worse. Intelligence and responsibility are a lot to ask of a party that has nominated Al Gore? and John F. Kerry? for President.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Once I heard a story that went something like this. People would receive notices that they had won free tickets to a professional football game. When they went to pick them up they were arrested. Why?

Because the cops had picked the recipients, who were all wanted by the law for one thing or another. The notices were sent to their last known addresses, or those of relatives. Ha!

And now on May 1 we're gonna have a whole bunch of illegal aliens self-identify. Imagine the next day. "Good morning everyone. All of you who were absent yesterday, please get on this bus..."

But I'll settle for broadcasting a message like the following - if you fools would put the same amount of effort into replacing that mafia you call a govt in Mexico, maybe you wouldn't have to come up here.

Yeah, yeah, not all illegals are Mexicans, but similar logic applies to the rest.

Question - how much would the price of lettuce increase without illegals to pick it?

Monday, April 24, 2006

You might be a lefty...

...if you think that it's OK for CIA employees to declassify information at will, but it's not OK if the President does it.

Extra points if you say that it's partisan if the President does it, but not if it's done by someone who has donated thousands to the opposition party on a bureaucrat's salary.

Let's see Mary McCarthy on TV. Do you suppose she'll get the same fashion "critique" that Linda Tripp did?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Just don't mention Earthlink

Say Hi to Dr. Weevil at his new home.

This is why I read blogs

Pointing out a post after Glenn Reynolds has isn't likely to add much buzz. But I second this link to Dean Esmay's post about the Abdul Rahman situation in Afghanistan.

For better or worse, it must be irritating for Muslims to hear a bunch of infidels read their books back to them, as if they had no history of their own scholarship. There's no hope of reaching the people they need to reach with anything but a bullet, and the rest can be spared the lectures.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The envy of the world...

Wanna see it? This link describes conditions at the UK's National Health Service. If you're starting a diet today, take a good look at the picture that accompanies it a few scrolls down.

I can imagine what's we'd be hearing if another British govt institution had left suspected al-Qaeda members in such a state.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pop quiz

Has anyone ever attempted to perform psychological evaluations by having subjects select their favorite songs? (And what would this tell us about the investigator?)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

See you there

There are things I just can't help, including being an engineer. That means things like riding something at Disney World and looking around for the fire protection sprinkler heads to see how they managed to meet codes without ruining the effect.

Or on a cruise, I'd be the guy who'd want to look around in the engine room and other auxiliaries.

So I guess that means that if I make it to Paris, I'll probably have to take the tour of the sewers.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The ultimate cellphone add-on

The Gun Phone.

Yes, our intrepid guardians at Homeland Security are aware. Cell phone mods are nothing new.

Actually, this device doesn't really function as a cellphone.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hot stuff

The Midwest is not known for spicy food. I seek it out to an extent, but I found out years ago that there's hot and there's HOT.

And then there's this. Someone has isolated and packaged pure capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers. The result is *8000* times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

(Yes, they measure this, originally in Scoville units. It's based on how many units of sugar water it took to dilute away the "hotness". It turns out that 1 part per million of capsaicin is about 15 Scoville units)

Why develop this? Well, he has sold the stuff, but only to people who have signed disclaimers. Manufacturing it must be right up there with nerve gas in terms of personnel protection.

My favorite part of the story was why the developer started fooling with hot stuff in the first place. He discovered that the easiest way to get drunks out of his bar at closing time was to give them free chicken wings dipped in a very hot sauce. (Could it be that Buffalo wings were actually invented in NJ?)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's settled

If we proved anything with this edition of "Dancing with the Stars", it shows that the show's public voters aren't particularly worried about good ballroom dancing when they vote for winners.

And IMO it shows why in most pro-am competition, male amateurs compete with male amateurs only and likewise for the women. Since the roles are different, the two groups are to some extent incommensurable.

I haven't seen any reports on the show's demographics, but they must not be particularly woman-friendly. Even when the first comp went to Kelly Monaco, they decided to run a rematch which John O'Hurley won. And O'Hurley was just George Hamilton less a few years - about 90% presence and 10% dance.

So now we've seen Stacy Keibler tossed from the show, leaving only two men (Drew Lachey and Jerry Rice. Yes, *that* Jerry Rice). Which must be perversely comforting to some who were tossed earlier, because this is the nastiest screwing of the whole exhibition - this makes it clear that the contest was not about skill.

The fact is that JR doesn't belong in the same room with Drew (or Stacy, or Lisa Rinna) when the dancing starts. Hell, *I'm* better than Jerry is (and given that I've probably spent a lot more time working on it, I should be).

Well, they're about to open the envelopes...

What do you know? - Drew won. Maybe there is some justice.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jerry-rigging "Dancing with the Stars"

Jerry Rice, you're a champ at football. You are not at dancing. So what the hell are you doing on Dancing with the Stars for another week instead of Lisa Rinna?

You're trying hard? Terrific. No doubt that had you put in the same amount of time into dancing that you had put into football, you'd be a phenom. But we don't reward effort, or else "Rudy" from Notre Dame would have been a Pro Bowler too. And if we could pledge performances instead of delivering, maybe Ryan Leaf might have as many Super Bowl rings as you.

Yeah, maybe your fan base will let you win. Wonderful. Hell, it's such a terrific idea, let's settle penalties in football the same way. We'll just have a vote on ESPN to settle them, instead of using professionals.

And the Jerry Rice I remember was too classy to attack the officials. Was I wrong? Or is that panel of people who've forgotten more about dance than either of us will ever know is wrong because they don't agree with you on your performance?

Are you sending some sort of public service message? And what would that be? Work hard and you can do anything you want? Or will you be reinforcing the OJ rule - it's all about popularity, and rules and standards and even laws are for suckers?

Watching yourself after watching, say, fellow competitor Drew Lachey, don't you get a little embarrassed? How much do you have to know about dancing to tell the difference? I'll bet that your little girls can tell.

Given enough time, I'll bet that you'd do even better. But that's not going to happen before the contest ends in a couple of weeks - if the standings show otherwise, it's the kind of ripoff that gave 50's game shows a bad name.

No Jerry, you're not the only one living off the fans. P should have left on week 2 or sooner instead of dissing every dance he claimed he did, and George Hamilton should have been close behind. Then you. The producers wouldn't have been very happy with a show of 5 women and Drew Lachey, but then they'll just have to work on their recruiting.

Hey, for all I know the whole works is fixed based on the ratings. Maybe you're just reading from a script, like washed-up pro football players who become professional wrestlers. If so, how sad. About all sentient beings know that pro wresting is plotted, but this show has been represented as an actual contest.

I guess we'll find out this week. If your legendary ass isn't gone when it's over, you and/or your writers will have made a mockery of the show.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Remember COSCO?

It was 1998 or so, and we had a President who was suspiciously cozy with China. It was then that I heard of a plan involving China Overseas Shipping Company (COSCO) and the port of Long Beach, CA. It was all over various right-wing outlets at the time, such as Michael Reagan's show and WorldNetDaily.

I don't recall the details, but it was hard to believe that anything could be as bad as the lurid descriptions I heard (and at the time I was willing to believe just about anything about then-President Bill Clinton). Most of it had something to do with the fact that COSCO was effectively owned by the Chinese army. But most of all what I do recall is that the right wing outlets were the only sources of the story - I never saw anything about it in the MSM.

Now it's a few years later, and there's another company associated with a foreign nation doing a deal involving our ports. The difference now is that 1) we have a Republican President for the press to sucker punch (nope, no racial profiling here!), and 2) A new Congressional race has some Republicans are seeking ways to distance themselves from President Bush - that's always hot news, and 3) like monkeys flinging their feces, the Dems are following their usual throw-anything-and-see-what-sticks attack strategy, and anytime a Dem raises an accusation it's newsworthy.

Whatever the truth is, there's no question that the Bush Administration looks maladroit here. Sorry, but this doesn't sound like a good time for foreigners - Middle Easterners no less - to have a lot of influence on our ports. It's natural to expect lots of serious honest questions, and to have well-reviewed answers ready for the faxes. (If someone thought that this could slip by just because Clinton got by with murder, well - how naive can you get?)

And we have answers from a number of respectable outlets. Short answer - it's not a big deal.

In particular, note that there was a comment period on this deal, and it has expired. So be sure to ask the loudmouths why it took them so long to start bitching. If Congressmen are reading about this stuff in the paper, what does this tell us about Congress?

OK, I'm satisfied. Next story, please...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blogging with the stars

You want excitement? Here it is - liveblogging "Dancing with the Stars"! Well, you're getting what you're paying for, anyway.

Well, I'm not quite live. I let Stacy Keibler's first dance (quickstep) pass uncommented. Two weeks running she got perfect scores (3 10's), and this week she fell all the way to 3 9's. IMO that has more to do with the judges being tougher than anything she did wrong - she's not a pro, but she probably could be.

Jerry Rice? I love ya, man, but that wasn't a tango. As one of the judges said, he was Jerry "Springer" - he was bouncing, while tango should look like more of a stalking motion.

And they had a broomstick for a prop - I'm thinking that the real reason for this was to help him with his dance frame. He didn't have it, and that's a shame. Bottom line - this should be his last week unless the rabble forces him back. And now that George Hamilton is justly gone, I don't think Jerry will mind leaving too much.

I can relate to JR a bit. Yes, I am a competitive ballroom dancer (not *very* competitive, but I'm not the worst). But if "What's My Line" were still on TV, nobody would ever guess - I don't have any particular physical or other relevant gifts. I just woke up one morning with a really wild hair and decided to do something unlike anything I had ever done before. And I know just what the man has gone through, only he had to do it in a much shorter period of time. So that man has absolutely nothing to apologize for, and I hope he sticks with it.

Lisa Rinna is doing a pretty good foxtrot right now to the old standard "Fever". I'm guessing that this is her next to last week though - I can't see her beating Stacy or having a 2 girl final. (Incidentally, in real competitions amateur men do not compete directly against amateur women most of the time. That's because the roles are different enough to be largely incommensurable).

Drew Lachey is talking about rumba and the hip action. Believe me, it feels unnatural as can be for a small-town straight Midwesterner like me, and it uses muscles I don't use, so it doesn't take long to get sore from it. It has to be good for the obliques and other ab muscles.

Whoops, he's doing his foxtrot now. They're doing a lot of open choreography, where you're not in contact with your partner. This is probably easier for Drew, with his background in pop dance. Although I was typing for part of the time, I didn't notice any screwups, but one of the judges is picking on him a bit. He'll be OK - I'm guessing a 26 or so.

Back to that hip thing, aka the "Cuban Motion". Actually it's not the hips at all - the motion is all in the knees. If the shoulders are to remain in position as they should, the hips have to move, in a motion that's a little up and down and a little

Oh yeah, the feet. Keep the toes on the floor - the dance gods will smite you hard if you do "heel leads". And keep your toes pointed slightly outward.

Stacy again. A good cha-cha - probably a 27 or so. Whoops, she got 28. Hey, she can have anything she wants...

Back to Jerry. He's still stiff and doesn't have the hip motion down right in his rumba. But if I pick on him, remind me that I have some video of myself...ewww. Sorry bud, but this should be your last week, because anything else is an insult to your competitors. I can't see him getting much better than his last score of 20. He got 21.

Lisa Rinna just did a cha-cha. She looked good. The way the scoring is going this week I'll give her a 26. I could do without all the open choreography and the funny arrangement of "Material Girl", but it works I guess. They got a 27.

Now they're talking to Lisa, and she's concerned that this could be her last week. Not if there's any justice, babe. She's certainly better than Kelly Monaco was, and Kelly won the first edition of the show.

Now Drew Lachey is back at it. He's doing well. He doesn't quite have the hips yet, but he's getting there. I'm guessing a 27. It ought to be enough to keep him in the show. Wow, they gave him a 29, which is enough to tie him with Stacy.

Of course we won't know until tomorrow who lives and who dies. Jerry Rice should be gone, but the audience could foul things up.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Stalinist irony

The History Channel has recently run a program about Joseph Stalin and his incredible Hitler-dwarfing crimes. Among other things, it noted that even in the one area where Hitler was most notorious - for the killing of Jews - Stalin still had him beat.

And it appears that shortly after Stalin got his H-bomb, he was itching for a war with the West. Toward that end he engineered a huge provocation, involving a giant transfer of Soviet Jews to the gulags. Allegedly he told henchmen that if the "imperialists" wanted to fight, there was no more favorable time.

But this purge did not come off fully as planned. The so-called "Doctor's Plot" with its show trials was interrupted by the death of Stalin.

As it happened, Stalin had ordered his staff not to bother him, and they complied fully. So that by the time Stalin had missed a dinner appointment and a senior official dared to enter his chambers, Stalin was found lying on the ground in a puddle of his own urine, unable to speak.

Sounds like a good time to call a doctor, eh? No, his inner circle was in no hurry, and the doctors they did summon eventually appear to have been incompetent.

Friday, February 03, 2006

You heard it here first

Yeah, TV shows are after ratings, and "Dancing with the Stars" will disappear if its ratings aren't good. So maybe it's a small price to pay to have the audience vote, even if they don't like the same things I do.

Even so, I'm guessing that Tia Carrere will be gone this week, instead of the more deserving George Hamilton. Jerry Rice is next to last, but he's better than Hamilton and probably has strong audience support. Whatever happens, surely all three will be gone two weeks from now. Anyway, we'll find out Friday night.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Upcoming dance competitions

Alright, Midwesterners, I'm giving you plenty of warning. Two terrific competitions will occur in the next month and a half, and you'll get a chance to see some of the best dancers around at both of them.

The Indiana Challenge should be going on Feb 23-26 at the Radisson in Merrillville, IN, just southeast of Chicago. Their website seems to be kaput, though. Anyway, last I knew they where going to have Bob Powers and Julia Gorchakova there as feature performers, and those two only monopolized the American Rhythm championships for a decade or so.

Then on March 9-11 there's the St. Louis Star Ball. Past competitors have included Ben and Shalene Archer Ermis, repeat American Smooth champions whom you may have seen on the recent "American Ballroom Challenge" show, and although I don't know their plans I'd be surprised if they didn't make it to nearby St. Louis from their home in Nashville, TN. Other terrific competitors will be there too, putting on a memorable show there as they have for years.

If you do decide to show, dress up or you'll look out of place. And there will be intermissions, so be ready to dance.

For you Easterners, don't miss the Heritage Classic in Asheville, NC around the end of February. Or Westerners can go to Utah for the US National Amateur Dancesport competition on the BYU campus in Provo.

These are just a few of the competitions that happen across the country over the course of a year. No more excuses - come on out!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Musical blegging et al

Remember the old show "Name That Tune"? I'm looking for a way to play it, with search engines as contestants.

Well, it's not the game I'm after, it's the songs. Once in a while I have one I'd like to identify, and you can bet your sweet patootie that someone out there knows it. But how do I find the info?

Imagine recording something, feeding it to Google, and getting a list of songs and artists back. Precise tuning might be able to distinguish between separate takes, or a fuzzier search might find, say, "He's So Fine" and "My Sweet Lord".

Then it could be scary too. Imagine being able to record someone, feeding it into a search engine and having it return a list of names. They're probably working on it now, for the new Chinese Google.

Sometimes you can find songs from the lyrics. There's a commercial, I think for the US Winter Olympic team, that was playing something I hadn'd heard. I could make out "you're gonna fall behind me" and fed it to Google. Sure enough, it pointed me straight to the Donnas, a punkish SF based girl group.

But what to do with instrumentals? Like, say, the song they play on Taco Bell commercials? This might be a step in the right direction, but we're limited by whatever they happen to have in their databases.

Oh yeah, I've gotta know that "ooh baby baby" song they play on the boom box on the Sprint/Nextel commercials. Then just wait for the next status meeting...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jimmy Carter: wrong then, wrong now

Cataloging the errors of ex-President Jimmy Carter could keep a blogger busy full time for quite a while. Many of these involved energy - apparently he never fully appreciated that it's an essential part of habitat for humanity.

Rod Adams corrects some misinformation about Carter's qualifications with nuclear power here.

But don't stop there - make Rod's blog a regular stop.

Dancing with the gangsters

Disturbing things happening in the world today. Hamas won an election. Iran is rattling sabers and allegedly is in the final stages of developing nuclear weapons. China is dealing with internal disturbances. The genocide goes on in Darfur. And Master P has made a mockery of "Dancing with the Stars".

DWTS is now in its second season. It's a way for B and C list celebrities to get some exposure while competing against each other in rumba, foxtrot, tango, etc. They are judged by a panel of three experienced judges and response from the TV audience - supposedly each is weighted equally in determining standings. Each week the lowest-scoring competitor is voted off.

Each celeb has a professional partner for practice and performance. Most of them seem to take if fairly seriously in terms of effort - after all, the longer they last the more exposure they get. In the latest competition some of them allegedly have spent as much as 130 hours practicing so far, and we're only 4 weeks in.

And then there was Master P. He wound up entering as a last-minute substitution, so it's fair to cut him some slack. He certainly needed it.

Week 1. Two people emerged from the pack as truly sorry - Kenny Mayne from ESPN and P. Mayne got the axe. The judges noted that P could do better with more appropriate shoes. Centimillionaire P noted he was from the 'hood, in New Orleans, he suggested donations for post Katrina cleanup, and by the way he sold his own shoes. Meanwhile Tatum O'Neal got an excellent score. .

Week 2. Ex NBA athlete P put in another pitiful performance. Tatum O'Neal was dumped. Giselle Fernandez put in a fine performance for the 2nd week straight, but in an interview she expressed fear that she had little natural fan base to support her.

Week 3. P did a little better, but still stunk out loud. Giselle Fernandez was dumped. One of the judges said openly that it was time for P to go. Competitor George Hamilton (no dance hero himself) joked about his "'hood". P noted that he had a new release out.

Week 4. P was an utter disgrace, putting on a paso doble which amounted to him flatfootedly following his partner around the floor. The judges reamed him but good, and said that the people at home who were voting to keep him alive weren't doing him any favors. Someone mentioned that to this point P had spent a grand total of 20 hours learning 4 new dances, vs. as many as 130 for others. P suggested that the judges "hated", and worked in a couple more plugs for his enterprises. Would he survive another week?

No, yesterday night they finally dumped him. Given that the judges scored him at 8 and the second lowest (Tia Carrere) was 21, apparently audience support wasn't enough. Either that or it's my favorite case of election fraud.

Ballroom dancing is well established worldwide, with elaborate rules and expectations. You don't have to know them to enjoy it, but you should at least respect them, especially if you're going to compete. Arguably P wasn't even any good at whatever he *was* doing, and that certainly wasn't anything like what he had signed on for.

So why did he last so long? Near as I can tell, he's a good enough guy who got along well with everybody. He was a last minute sub, so he deserved some allowance. His professional partner, Ashly DelGrosso, is very likable herself - she was on the first show too and busted her butt carrying a difficult partner then too, so she probably has some sympathy voting herself.

Was P the worst? He had some competition - Kenny Mayne had better keep his day job. George Hamilton is getting by out of effort and personal popularity and should have been the next to go after Kenny and P. Tatum O'Neal would have lasted longer, and near-anonymous Giselle Fernandez was robbed. Bottom line - there was no reason for P to survive past week 2.

The others? Jerry Rice won't win, but he's clearly putting in some effort. Tia Carrere delivered a baby just before the contest started and isn't back in actress trim yet, but she has worked hard too. Lisa Rinna looks good, has some talent and arguably has the best partner (Louis Van Amstel) there - she might be a dark horse.

But the clear front runners are Drew Lachey and Stacy Keibler. It's tough to handicap them, but I'll go for Ms. Keibler if only because her partner, Tony Dovolani, is much more successful and more experienced than Lachey's. (Lachey's partner is good for sure, but she is still competing in the minor-league Rising Star ranks). And it doesn't hurt Ms. Keibler one bit that she's 100% pure eye candy from head to toe - she's definitely not your father's lady wrestler.

Anyway, by now the riff-raff is gone, so this is as good a time as any to start watching "Dancing with the Stars". Performances are on Thursdays and executions are on Fridays. What are you waiting for?

...He who controls the past controls the future.

George Orwell died half a century before Wikipedia showed up, but he called it right.

Betsy reports on an attempt by a political hack to control the past.

"Like a breath mint for smokestacks"

Another use for algae right here.

Link via Wilson Fu, who knows watermelons when he sees them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bottom story of the day

NWA has entered its 5th year of obscurity.

Actually the date was a few days ago, but I've been working under a ridiculous deadline lately and haven't had the time for even minimal blogging. Anyway, I don't know when to quit, so you can count on receiving more of what little you expect to see here.

Sing it, brother!

Oh, just read it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Yeah, that too

Yeah, it's fashionable for Yankees to pick on Alabama. If you've never been there, about all you've ever heard of are civil rights issues. (They aren't so big on Communism either, but there's nothing questionable about that.)

Anyway, I've lived in AL, and there you'll find some of the finest people anywhere. But I still couldn't help but chuckle when I saw a recipe for a special kind of barbecue sauce found around Birmingham, Decatur and thereabouts. It's the only kind I've ever seen that was white.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

High maintenance

Beware, Doghouse Day is coming. Well, most of the world knows it as Valentine's Day, but you know what I mean. Mindreading Day might be a good name too.

Was this a creation of marketing people at the expense of lovers and wannabes? Perhaps. But if you're some hapless South Korean it's even worse:
There are up to 21 anniversaries, special days and celebrations a year for couples to shower each other with affection and gifts, and as a result some relationships are crushed under the weight of festivities.

Web 2.0

You've probably heard of Web 2.0 by now, if only as another buzzword. Google has for sure - recently it showed 9.5M citations of the term.

But how did this term arise, and what if anything does it really mean? This is as good an explanation as any I've seen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Making the desert bloom

So you've got this little bitty country, and much of that is desert. You want something to grow, hopefully with high value added. What to do? If you're the Israelis, you grow algae for pharmaceuticals.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Sock Puppets

Yep, that's what this page is about.

But beware - the page has a page counter, and might conceivably even issue cookies! As such devices have been pronounced sinister by various media outlets,, I must warn you that you follow the link at your own risk...

Prerequisites for success

As usual, Megan is right - this time about the NY transit workers' strike. But this post is really just an excuse to link to this parable.