Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nobody rides for free

Blagojevich Might Step Aside Monday.

Rod Blagojevich has shaken down a children's hospital and tried to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat. Now he has a chance to sell his own effing job as governor of IL. It will be interesting to see where he winds up.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Great idea!

Dodd: General Motors Executive Should Resign in Exchange for Bailout

Hmm. We had Senators and Congressmen like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank insisting that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lower their standards, and they insisted that regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was at least adequate if not excessive. I'd like to see them resign too.

Or maybe we should get Senators and Congressmen to resign before they get tax increases?

There might well be a great case for getting rid of Waggoner. And if CEOs think they're going to get unconditional bailouts they're crazy. But the suggestion that anyone in the Capitol knows more about managing auto companies than the Big 3 CEOs is beyond insulting, and from Dodd in particular it takes chutzpah beyond comprehension.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

He's no Jackie Robinson

One of the hazards of getting older is that it's less likely that people will know what I'm talking about when I mention things I remember. I certainly hope people haven't forgotten about Jackie Robinson.

But if you have, Jackie Robinson was the player who re-integrated Major League Baseball in 1947 (yes, there had been blacks in the major leagues before, but there hadn't been any for decades when Robinson showed up).

There's no doubt that Jackie Robinson was chosen for his historic role because he was black. But it wouldn't have worked if he hadn't also been chosen because he was good.

And now there's Barack Obama. It's hard to imagine anyone with more hype relative to his accomplishments. You'll look long and hard to find anything worthwhile he's actually delivered, whether as a "community organizer", lawyer, student or legislator.

In short, he's no Jackie Robinson.

If Jackie Robinson had failed, it could have set desegregation of Major League Baseball back for years.

And if Barack Obama is elected and follows the policies he has run on, it might be a very long time before we ever again see a black President.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And now a word from our sponsor

Right here

Recycled lies

Apparently the focus groups have told Barack Obama to say he's for tax relief for the middle class. Of course it's not going to happen.

Bill Clinton did the same thing and then reneged when he actually got to the White House.
Seeking to explain why he is backtracking on a campaign promise to cut taxes for the middle class, President-elect Bill Clinton said Thursday that the plan was never a major theme in his race for the White House.

Mr. Clinton, speaking at a news conference a day after saying he would have to "revisit" his tax-cut plan, said Americans voted for him because of the "big things" he wanted to do.

The middle-class tax cut, he said, was not among them.

He said he was "absolutely mystified" that the news media had perceived it as a major pledge. In interviews Wednesday, Mr. Clinton said that, because of worsening deficit projections,"I have to put everything back on the table."

Mr. Clinton spoke throughout the campaign of the need to redress declining middle-class incomes during the 1980s. He proposed a tax cut for the middle class nearly a year ago, in New Hampshire, and repeated the pledge frequently.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

For Joe the Plumber

Barack Obama must be insecure in his asshood, or else why would he say what he said about John McCain fighting for the plumbers? How appropriate it would be if this lands him in deep shit.

Maybe if Barack Obama knew some actual plumbers instead of a menagerie of lefty creeps, he'd understand a little about the economy. But he asks "how many plumbers do you know who make $250,000 a year?" Actually, if Joe has other plumbers working for him $250K isn't a whole lot of revenue. Is Obama really stupid and out of touch enough to think that a plumber in rural Ohio would take home $250K/year by himself? Wow, just wait until he sees a supermarket checkout!

I'm not sure I'd want to live in a world without plumbers. Politicians, OTOH....

In homage to plumbers I offer this NWA Classic Post

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Let's see how long this link lasts


From DirectorBlue, who also has some snapshots from the video.

Liberal abuse

If you disagree with ACORN and its recurring attempts at election fraud, don't expect them to respect you when you attempt to speak.

Of course Barack Obama goes back a long way with ACORN. Sheesh, if they're doing God's work registering the disenfranchised, why doesn't he embrace them?

If Obama is elected you'd better get used to the rudeness and worse. Michael Barone demonstrates here.

Or check out Michelle Malkin's compilation here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The real thing, live

If you like PBS's America's Ballroom Challenge series you have an opportunity. Just show up in Columbus, OH in a few weeks to see the 2008 Ohio Star Ball. This is the event that they record for the series, and it attracts the top pros from across the country.

There are a couple of hotels that are physically connected to the Columbus Convention Center where the competition is held, and there are many others nearby. But this year it turns out that nearby Ohio State University has a home football game on that weekend, so it could be harder to find rooms than usual.

The competition goes on for almost the entire week, but the top pros historically are seen on Friday and Saturday nights.

The real Fitzmas

URGENT: Big story about to break, we are one step closer to Rezko giving Obama up to federal prosecutors « HillBuzz

Alaska panel finds Palin abused power in firing - Yahoo! News

The Associated Partisans are back at it again, with this nonsense:Alaska panel finds Palin abused power in firing - Yahoo! News.

Let's flip this around. Here's a state trooper with disciplinary issues that is related by marriage to Sarah Palin. If she had done nothing, then the story would be that she failed to protect the public from some loose cannon state trooper because he was married to her sister. And perhaps she had done so for financial gain - Wooten had financial liabilities to Palin's sister.

It's likely that none of this would have happened if Palin had not reassigned Walter Monegan, leading to his resignation. Monegan says this was because he wouldn't fire Wooten. It couldn't possibly be because of insubordination as detailed here, right?

Among other things, Wooten was accused of domestic violence. Monegan might have sympathized - after all, he had had some domestic violence issues himself as detailed here. Is it dirty pool to mention that? Awwww.

Monegan suggested that the state would have some legal exposure to Wooten if they mishandled his case. Of course there's no legal exposure for keeping a trooper with disciplinary issue on the force either, right? A guy who tasered his 10 year old stepkid couldn't possibly have any judgment or impulse control issues. Sheesh, if you can't taser stepkids or drive your police car while drinking beer what rights do we have left?

It would be interesting to see whether the people fussing about Palin now had any opinions when Bill Clinton's gang fired the White House travel office staff. And for those who are outraged that Todd Palin got involved, does anyone remember Hillary Clinton?

As for legal aspects, check this out. Shorter version - the report is BS. The kind of crap that gets published in October of election years.

Enough for now. I want to save some rage for a Palin rally.

UPDATE: More here

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Obama is not a socialist?

Not sure what's going through Rick Moran's head with his assertions that OBAMA IS NOT A SOCIALIST.

Maybe he isn't. But how can Mr. Moran tell, when Obama has a different message for each audience each time?

The only constant in Obama's campaign is banalities about "change". Yep, just "change". Lest he should limit his options, Obama isn't even willing to hold out for "improvement". So Mr. Moran isn't totally out in left field when he suggests that Obama is non-ideological.

But if that's true, wouldn't you expect Obama to have friends more broadly distributed across the ideological spectrum?

And what about his wife? Even if Obama is nonideological, he's going home to a woman who apparently is not.

And does Rick Moran really think that Obama fooled unrepentant terrorists William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn? Would they have picked just anyone to administer their pet Chicago Annenberg Challenge project? Sheesh, it's not as if there aren't any other leftists in Chicago.

If it makes Mr. Moran feel better, I guess we can use another word. I for one would like to keep "socialist" from going the way of "fascist" and becoming a non-specific epithet. But the word is at least as useless if we can't use it when it applies, and IMO all that stands between Obama and full-blown socialism is how closely and rapidly he dares to approach it without endangering his election chances.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Filipino fast food

Betcha haven't been to Jollibee. I stumbled across one in National City, CA just south of San Diego a couple of weeks ago.

We had just eaten somewhere else but I had to check it out. The menu isn't something you'll confuse for McDonald's, that's for sure. But it must work in their home in Southeast Asia, where they have close to 600 outlets in the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Brunei, and they have about a dozen stores in CA, NV and NY here in the US.

Coming soon to a town near you?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

He knows the score

You know, there just aren't enough musical comedies involving mine disasters.

Some years back a mine collapsed at Beaconsfield, Tasmania. Now to commemorate it we have "Beaconsfield - a Musical in A Flat Minor."

Well, not anymore apparently. Upon further review it appears that the playwright responded to outrage at the title and has renamed it "Beaconsfield - The Musical". Such a sensitive guy!

Original link from where else but Fark.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Midway :: San Diego's Aircraft Carrier Museum

I recently found myself in San Diego looking for things to do when I found out about the USS Midway. It's a diesel-powered aircraft carrier that has been decommissioned and turned into a museum in San Diego Harbor.

I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you go, be prepared to climb a lot and don't expect air conditioning.

Eat your heart out, Ponzi!

That Charles Ponzi sure was a sucker. He should have done Credit Default Swaps.

Wanna play? You come up with something you want to insure against, I agree to assume the risk for a premium. If things go well I get money for almost nothing. But if your fears come true and you try to collect from me, I fold up shop and leave you hanging.

The cool thing is, I don't have to do much research. In the worst case scenario, all I need is enough time to get your money out of the country before your catastrophe happens and you try to collect.

Stuart Buck links to this which has a lot more details.

Genetically engineered birth defects are a good thing...

in mosquitoes

If you follow the link, look around. Olivia Judson always has something interesting to say.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Gravina Island Bridge

You've heard of this project. Really. But it's more popularly known as "the bridge to nowhere".

I've heard so much about this I finally decided to look it up to see what all the fuss was about. The most recent inspiration was a conversation I had recently about how Senator John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin, currently Governor of Alaska, had been "for it before she was against it", as if it's realistic to expect executives of any govt level to refuse money for a project like this.

It turns out that "nowhere" is the airport for Ketchikan, Alaska (pop 8000), which is located on Gravina Island (pop 50).

It's funny how the airport never gets mentioned. The Salon article linked above notes that it has "fewer than 10 commercial flights a day". Sounds pretty lame until you consider that Ketchikan has only 8000 residents. How many other towns of comparable size have *any* commercial service, much less 10 a day? Yes, air transportation is more important in Alaska than in most of the rest of the country.

A resident of Gravina Island notes that there is a ferry and that she can get from home to the local hospital in 5 minutes. OK. But it's still a ferry, limited in size and speed, and my guess is that anyone who lives on a place like Gravina Island didn't go there so they could have lots of neighbors. That is, the residents probably prefer the isolation and thus would oppose the bridge even if it were significantly cheaper.

Would Gravina Island ever be developed to the extent that this would make sense as an investment in infrastructure? That's hard to believe. Suppose the population of the island rose to 1000 people, and they paid $4000 per capita in federal taxes (just to have a number, probably right order of magnitude). If every time of those federal taxes went to paying off a $223M bridge to an island with no paved roads.... This is by no means an adequate evaluation, but my guess is that we'll get a lot more bang for the buck elsewhere.

To hear the overheated rhetoric, you might be thinking that this is the worst example of pork ever. In fact it's probably because it was in the budget at the time of Hurricane Katrina, and people were looking for funds that could be diverted to Katrina relief. I don't keep track of these things, but a far better candidate might be the Army Corps of Engineers' Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway that connects the Tennessee River with the Gulf of Mexico via the Tombigbee River. Many more are discussed a WaPo article here.

The article notes that the Corps of Engineers had already spent more in Louisiana in than in any other state, with spectacularly unsuccessful results - "The Corps has eluded the public's outrage -- even though a useless Corps shipping canal intensified Katrina's surge, even though poorly designed Corps floodwalls collapsed just a few feet from an unnecessary $750 million Corps navigation project , even though the Corps had promoted development in dangerously low-lying New Orleans floodplains and had helped destroy the vast marshes that once provided the city's natural flood protection."

That article goes on to note that "Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) are pushing a Corps reform bill that would require independent reviews of large projects, but they aren't getting much traction."

We will continue to have pork as long as the federal govt is empowered to do so. Sheesh, if there are "penumbras and emanations" from the Constitution that guarantee a right to choose to kill fetuses (and even live births, if you vote like Barack Obama), isn't there one to protect us from nonsense like this?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Women being abused!

I thought maybe I could make it through a political season without blogging, but no. I managed to sit still as the lamest candidate ever managed to game the system to the point where he beat someone who's forgotten more than he'll ever know, but enough about Barack Obama - this time it's about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Good grief, the crap we're hearing already. What is there not to like about this woman?

Yet look at this video - apparently someone is trying to paint her as stupid for asking what the vice president does on a day-to-day basis. It's a fair question, because no two administrations are the same. Does anyone think that, say, Al Gore did the same things from day to day in the 1990s that Lyndon Johnson did in the early 1960's? The Constitution doesn't have much to say about day to day veep work - most of that will be determined by John McCain and Ms. Palin if he wins.

And really, how many veeps can you name who weren't elected in your lifetime? The job isn't a big deal unless you think the Pres is likely to keel over during his turn or you're worried about close votes in the Senate. It's true that McCain is in his 70's and has been treated for cancer. But he kept campaigning while Obama had to stop and rest, and McCain's mother was robust enough to show up at the Republican National Convention. He must have some good genes.

Oh yeah, her daughter is knocked up! Obviously Palin must have failed as a parent! That's arguable, but I would say no (I'm having a hard time imagining what it must be like to be a teenager in small-town Alaska with long cold winters). But it is interesting how parenting talent didn't come up while Al Gore's kid was getting busted for speeding and drugs, and if he knocked up any girls there are always plenty of abortionists willing to kill the baby cheap.

Heavens, she'll be distracted by her family! Maybe. I hope so. Every minute she's worrying about them is one more she won't be spending looking for things to meddle with or laying the groundwork for becoming filthy stinking rich after she leaves office. And I'll bet that lots of parents would like to have free help from the Secret Service in looking after their children.

Then there's her husband, who has a DUI conviction that dates back before they even married!

She wasn't adequately vetted! I have no idea, but then neither do the jackasses who are asserting this. They appear to be making the assumption that if they don't approve of something, McCain wouldn't either, therefore vetting must have been inadequate. Contrast this with Bill "you'd better put some ice on that" Clinton and his "bimbo eruptions", among other things - did he get vetted at all?

It would be nice if in fact the media had decided that *all* candidates' backgrounds should be investigated, not just Republicans', but that's not a change I can believe in.

I could go on, but really, this stuff is absurd. Come on Barack Obama, grow a pair and call off your lickspittles in the media. That doesn't sound like a new kind of politics to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It's not news, it's Reuters

The headline says Shooting spree leaves six dead in Washington state.

They did note that "Local media reported that the suspect has a history of mental illness and a criminal past." One might suspect that this might account for the man's rampage.

But no, this is Reuters. We must be told that "The incident is the latest in a series of mass shootings over the last few years in the United States, which is estimated to have the world's highest civilian gun ownership rate, leading gun control advocates to push for tighter restrictions."

Do you suppose I'll live long enough to see Reuters report on massacres of civilians in places like Darfur and note that "this is the latest in a series of mass shootings by governments or criminals, leading self defense advocates to push for more arms for civilians"?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Conflict of interest?

Margaret Sanger's defenders all have one thing in common - they weren't aborted.

I can't say if they all believe in fantastical moral equivalences too, but one who read Jonah Goldberg's writing clearly does. He reproduces her screed here. She manages to find similarities between Margaret Sanger and Helen Keller and various other historical figures. Thus in her world Justice! demands that if anyone condemns Margaret Sanger as Goldberg has for her views, he must do the same of Helen Keller and the others.

Helen Keller might not be well remembered today, but she was famous for overcoming both deafness and blindness to become a prominent American. She was in fact very liberal, as anyone else might be if they were as limited in their ability to experience the real world as she.

What's interesting is that Mr. Goldberg was demonstrating the historical ties between liberals and eugenicists. Mr. Goldberg's critic apparently did not say where Ms. Keller stood on eugenics. What do you suppose eugenicists would have done with a girl who was both blind and deaf?

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Maybe the kinds of lawyers who defend abortionists are too busy representing terrorists nowadays, but this is interesting:
Exactly one year ago today, the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart rejected a facial challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003. Confronting “documented medical disagreement whether the Act’s prohibition [on partial-birth abortion] would ever impose significant health risks on women,” the five-justice majority ruled that such disagreement about health risks in particular circumstances did not warrant invalidating the act in its entirety. Instead, the Court virtually invited practitioners of partial-birth abortion and their allies to bring so-called as-applied challenges that would carve out from the Act’s scope any circumstances in which partial-birth abortion might be shown to be necessary to preserve the mother’s health. (See my essay “The Face-Off Over Partial-Birth Abortion” for a fuller discussion of the distinction between facial and as-applied challenges.)

In dissent, Justice Ginsburg predicted that these as-applied challenges would “be mounted swiftly, to ward off serious, sometimes irremediable harm, to women whose health would be endangered by the [Act’s] prohibition.” According to Ginsburg, “the record already includes hundreds and hundreds of pages of testimony identifying ‘discrete and well-defined instances’ in which recourse to an intact D&E [i.e., partial-birth abortion] would better protect the health of women with particular conditions.”

So how many as-applied challenges have been filed over the past year? Zero.
In short, they've got nothing, and at last they're outed.

No, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't appreciate the full ramifications of the above. Nor do I appreciate how big a burden has been placed on those who would show that partial birth abortions offer unique medical benefits - maybe that's the real issue.

And no, I'm not a physician either. But just how much medicine do you need to know that creating a situation you would ordinarily avoid (delivering the baby feet first) and stopping delivery of the live baby after all but its head is outside the birth canal would somehow help the health of the mother? If the idea was to avoid labor, just what has she missed?

And how much law do you need to know to condemn someone who, given a choice between moving the baby another few inches outside the womb or choosing to kill it, opts for the latter?

Aside: did anyone ever go to med school intending to become an abortionist?

UN priorities

U.N. racism investigator to visit U.S. from Monday

I wonder if they investigate anti-Semitism? Being the UN, if they did, they'd only do it in Israel.

Friday, April 18, 2008

No comment from Obama yet - Alicia Keys: 'Gangsta Rap' Created to Convince Black People to Kill Each Other

Stupid college tricks

Back in college a few lunatics I knew used to have beer chugging contests. Except they'd do it while hanging upside down from the railing of a stair landing.

It was only half a flight up, but it probably would have been enough to break their necks or even kill them if they slipped.

And now we have this -
College Student Dead After Apparent Fall Over Balcony.

Don't get shook

An earthquake rattled southern IL and environs last night. It won't make the history books so much because it wasn't that strong, but it's still creepy.

People unfamiliar with the area might not associate it with seismic activity. But know that one of the worst earthquakes in the US happened within a couple of hundred miles to the southwest near New Madrid, MO. It was also in the news around 1990 when a prediction of an earthquake by Iben Browning was picked up by the media but did not pan out.

You can see more about the area's seismic history on an episode of A&E Network's Mega Disasters series, which examines consequences of a major earthquake there on Memphis, TN and St. Louis, MO.

Anybody who's thinking "all the nukes there will melt down now!" can relax. No operating commercial nuclear power facilities are particularly close. There are none in IN or KY. In IL the closest is Clinton Power Station, around a couple hundred miles north. Calloway in MO is about that far west. LaSalle County, Dresden and Braidwood are about 80 miles on the far side of the Clinton site in IL, and farther yet are Quad Cities and Byron. The next closest is probably in AR. The closest in MI is DC Cook near Michigan City, or in OH it would be Davis-Besse near Toledo, or in TN it's either Sequoyah or Watts Bar. That's from memory - maps are for wimps.

I was working as an engineer at an operating nuclear power plant back in the late 80's when I felt a small earthquake. The civil engineers and others on staff immediately got to work looking for seismic damage wherever they could onsite. I don't recall any issues arising.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Old men on the make

Oh boy, New Kids on the Block are back! You remember them - they were once scheduled as an opening act for Tiffany!

Security personnel sleeping at Turkey Point

Maybe I'm lucky that in my nuclear power days I never caught a security guy sleeping on the job. The first time I might just make some noise, but I doubt it. For while I don't necessarily think it's a huge security compromise (if someone has made it to your reactor building already this isn't your only security issue), it's definitely something that'll get the plant busted bigtime by any NRC inspector who happens upon it.

Fines are the easy part. Then the usual braying idiots would trot out their usual claptrap, and the clueless buffoons who pass for media would publicize it far beyond its significance. So as a minimum I would have been tempted to make a beeline for his supervisor.

OTOH this security person is probably positioned to make your life miserable too. He and whoever might have been covering for him could say that they'd caught you doing something and guess who's in trouble now?

Security is outsourced at many facilities. If that's true at Turkey Point, there definitely ought to be blisters all up and down their local management's backside. They ought to know how to keep their staff awake - this isn't exactly a new problem with security firms.

But they might have fewer options than you think. One obvious one is security cams at strategic areas. This isn't trivial for a number of regulatory and other reasons that I don't have time to discuss now (some of which involve security...), whether the system is wired or wireless. I'd expect newer plants to have such things in the design, but backfitting them to today's fleet would be awfully expensive.

I haven't set foot inside a nuke plant for over a decade now, so maybe things have changed. But while I was there, NRC inspectors didn't exactly swarmed over the facilities. There was no need to really - day to day operation isn't exciting and shouldn't be. So inspectors would show up in the plant once in a while, but mostly they did paperwork and went to meetings. So if they caught someone sleeping it's pretty sad.

I don't want to hear any excuses for the security guys sleeping. But let's not get too excited about this either.

It's never too early... choose your child's gang.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Video made simple

About a year and a half ago I went to make a fairly simple video production and failed miserably. It would have helped if I hadn't waited until the last minute, but I didn't expect my software to put up so much of a fight, especially with syncing sound to video.

So lately I've been reading good things about the Flip Video device and thought I might check it out. Then when I happened upon them in stock at a Sam's Club for $140 when I had some money burning a hole in my pocket, I bit.

Wow, it couldn't get much simpler or easier.

It was a bit of a PITA the first time I used a particular computer with it because it needed to load a codec, and the first time I used it at all I had to sit through a firmware upgrade. But since then it's been a real trouper with both XP and Vista.

It's about as self-contained as you can get. You don't need to install any software with DVDs or downloads - everything you need is already loaded on the device. Plug it in to an available USB port, wait for the system to recognize the device and go!

Likewise there are no cables to lose on the run. The USB male connector is built in rigidly - you just extend it from the case, plug it in, let the system recognize it and you're in business. I did have trouble trying to plug it into the USB ports on a couple of different machines because of funny geometry in one case and an EVDO card in another. But for most it will work fine, and for the rest there's A-A USB extension cords (which shouldn't cost more than $10 no matter what Radio Shack or Best Buy say).

So when someone of longish tenure left the company recently, I wound up going around shooting quickie goodbye videos. The picture and sound quality were far better than I expected, and loading the videos onto the PCs was more or less idiot simple. So with nothing but miserable past experience, no talent, a device I'd had for 2 days, and a newish Vista laptop with a DVD burner, I produced some tolerable output from a bunch of people in no more than a couple of hours, and most of that time was probably data transfer time while I multitasked.

It's not perfect, and it certainly doesn't have advanced features. But it's $140, for crying out loud. It's self-contained, small, runs on AA batteries so there's no wall wart (I don't want to know how many of those blasted things I have), and the learning curve is nearly nonexistent (with the caveat that I'm a gadget geek with an engineering background). It's roughly the size of a candy bar, so it can go anywhere. You can take still pictures. The model I bought at Sam's has 2GB of RAM which allegedly will hold an hour's worth of video (haven't really challenged it yet). And I've only had it since Sunday, so I probably don't know a lot of things it can do yet.

Bottom line - I'll be buying more of them.


More than once I've heard companies described as "the best first and third job you'll ever have". The idea was that if you stuck around nothing would happen, but if you left and came back you could jump a couple of grades ahead.

Today just happens to have been the last day for someone who had been with the company for several years. The joke is that they'll be back in a couple years in a much better job. At least two people in my org chart have done that that I know of.

And now today Glenn Reynolds links to this. Hmmm.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Unpresidented authority

Glenn Reynolds notes how some people think the next President ought to seize greater authority to fight global warming, to avoid having to work at Congress's pace.

Well, there's another way to avoid Congressional nonsense, and that's to avoid using the govt in the first place. All they can bring to the party is coercion.

Oh yeah, they can write big checks too. But how did they get that money, anyway? Yep, coercion. No matter what willfully obtuse technical jargon Harry Reid might hide behind.

Lots of private citizens can write big checks too. Unfortunately they seem to be writing them to the Democrats. Obviously, rather than addressing problems yourself, it's far better to spend money on people who a) might not get elected, b) might not be able to deliver, and c) might not really have any intent to deliver in any case. Right? Maybe the answer is to start selling lottery tickets in larger denominations.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lost arts

I'm not *that* old, doggone it. But even over my time things have changed so much with the way things are done mathematically and otherwise, I have to wonder what most people would do without calculators and canned software.

Then again I went to engineering school, so what I thought of as normal turned out to be unrealistic for most people. Sheesh, a couple of days ago I told someone what the sine of a certain angle was off the top of my head and you would have thought I'd performed a miracle.

Even technical people are deteriorating because calculators are inescapable. Can you still do math in your head? If you want to see where you stand with impromptu mental calculation, try this. How did you do?

And then there are simple graphical constructions. Do people still know how to use a straightedge and compasses nowadays? I haven't talked into any newly minted engineers lately, but it wouldn't surprise me if they knew much about how engineering graphics were produced before the CAD era.

Or would they even know what a nomogram is? And slide rules - we don't even speak of slide rule calculators any more. But surely they still use Moody diagrams and psychrometric charts.

Nomograms and lots more are to be found at Dead Reckonings - Lost Art in the Mathematical Sciences, which is such a great find I have no idea what to link in particular.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Snark today, science tomorrow

I was being sarcastic on an earlier post referring to removing tonsils rectally. But it could be closer than we think.
Appendix Removed Through Vagina: U.S. First
Appendix removed through mouth
Gall Bladder removed through vagina
Kidney Removed through Navel
And on a more depressing note, remember that little girl who got stuck on a pool drain and had her insides yanked out rectally? She died recently


Remember Josh Steiner? He's the young Clinton aide who was said to have "lied to his diary". He allegedly regretted that his diary was not "more accurate".

Now along comes another diary that Hillary Clinton won't like. It seems that one Jerry Zeifman recalls HRC's work on the Watergate investigation and wrote of problems with her. (You have to follow that link - it's not too long).

For instance, she didn't get a recommendation afterwards. Why?
"Because she was a liar," Zeifman said in an interview last week. "She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality."
As shocks go, finding documentation that HRC is a liar doesn't rank too high. But what got me were the details. She took some files from the committee and hid them in her office, then proceeded to work as if they hadn't existed. Hmm, Hillary hiding files? Where have we heard that one before?

Yes, believe it or not the fact that Hillary Clinton lies and hide things is well precedented. But what makes this priceless is that on that particular occasion she was trying to show that there was *no* precedent for something - that Richard Nixon was entitled to counsel during an impeachment proceeding. The files that she hid that time showed how William O. Douglas was granted counsel when he faced an impeachment attempt in 1970. (Of course Douglas was a liberal. He couldn't be held to the same standards as a Republican like Richard Nixon.)

As for her own defense, she might try to cite the case of Steiner. How vast a right-wing conspiracy must be to get a lifelong Democrat to lie about her in his diary over 30 years ago!

Was this pettifoggery? Mr. Zeifman didn't think so -
The brief was so fraudulent and ridiculous, Zeifman believes Hillary would have been disbarred if she had submitted it to a judge.

I haven't seen a response from the Hillary camp yet. Can she dodge another bullet?

Original link from Powerline.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Medical breakthrough!

Scientists have come up with a method for removing tonsils rectally. They conceded that it might be safer and more effective to do it the usual way, but you know, they just had to show that they could do it.

Believe it or not, the above is a total fabrication. But then there is this headline: Cloned cells treat Parkinson's in mice - Yahoo! News.

All well and good, but then read this passage from it:
But they found that a mouse's own cloned stem cells were far less disruptive to its body than cloned cells taken from other mice.

"It demonstrated what we suspected all along -- that genetically matched tissue works better," said Viviane Tabar of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, who worked on the study.
Ya think?

But hey, let's suck in lots of federal dollars for more of this. It might not give us any really useful results, but then it gives some researchers something really cool to fool with. We'd be money ahead if we just gave the researchers free phalloplasty.

Advice for politicians

I hate to disagree with Soccer Dad, but I offer some different ideas on how to handle a sex scandal.

For one, Eliot Spitzer should have captured the whole thing on tape. Then he could have said that he was making a porn movie, and you can't bust people for prostitution when they're acting in a porn movie.

What's more, he should have used this opportunity for campaigning. Maybe have him making campaign speeches on a TV in the background or something. He could sell the tapes to raise funds, and no one would dare complain about the campaign messages because everyone knows that only bluenoses could possibly object to mass distribution of porn.

Spitzer's failure to do these things can only be explained as a lapse in judgment. Surely it's not because he wasn't cynical enough.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Random Easter venereal disease post

Overheard back in the early 80's - "you know the difference between true love and herpes? Herpes lasts forever"

It so happens that a few weeks ago I was talking to a pharmacist who was amused by some of the TV ads for pharmaceuticals. She was particularly amused by one for Valtrex, in which one person would say "I have herpes" and their presumptive bedmate said "and I don't" To which our pharmacist said "but you will".

I assume that the people in the commercials were actors, or at least would claim that they were. Even so, we're talking social evolution here. I can't find a link, but I seem to recall that back in the 80's a couple filed suit because their image was used in a public service ad about herpes.

Such innocent times! We hadn't heard of AIDS yet. Once the acronym appeared it was pretty firmly associated with IV drug users, Haitians and especially gays. Some of my less PC coworkers in hard hats said it stood for "another infected..." and the rest will be left as an exercise.

Hey, while we're at it why not work in something about syphilis too. I understand that you can get it from blood transfusions. And that apparently this was a problem in Mexico once upon a time.

More social evolution: a few weeks ago I took a pit stop at a convenience store and the men's room was out of service. No problem, they said to use the ladies' room. Ah, they have condom machines in here too. But it's been a while since I've seen one that said "for prevention of disease only".

Ha, good luck with that. They aren't 100% effective as birth control when used as directed by competent adults, much less by horny adolescents. It's hard to see how they'd be any more effective against disease. Of course abstinence is always 100% effective when used. It's not very reliable when it's *not* used, but then neither are condoms. Yes, that's absurd, but then why do some people blame abstinence education programs for problems that occur when they clearly aren't being followed? Are programs that encourage condom use ever blamed for problems that occur when kids don't use condoms?

Clearly I've run out of things to write about, so that will be all.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Protect them from themselves?

Ah yes, someone says that some people need to be protected from their worst instincts.

OK, and I think that one of the worst instincts is to look to the govt for solutions. So let's force politicians and others to quit advocating govt solutions. And if they push big govt anyway, let them avail themselves of govt efficiency and service in a prison.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Goodbye Jeff Healey

When you hear the name Jeff Healey, you might think of a soft radio friendly song called "Angel Eyes" that came out around 1990 or so. I liked the guitar work on the song and liked the rest of the CD even more. That man could play.

Still don't remember him? He was the blind guitarist in "Roadhouse". The blind part wasn't acting - he lost his eyes at an early age to cancer.

Don't go thinking that blindness made him a physically boring performer. I didn't catch him jumping around or duckwalking, but when I saw him live in Peoria in the early 90's he got up and wandered around the stage. It was kind of awkward because he ordinarily played his guitar flat on his lap, and he couldn't find his way back to his seat by himself - the bass player would lead him back.

Now via Colby Cosh I hear that Jeff Healey has died at only 41. What a loss.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Who was Estes Kefauver?

He was a liberal Democrat Senator who kicked serious butt in the primaries yet wound up not getting his party's nomination for the Presidency.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Green oil

Yep, you can replace some petroleum with products made from beef tallow. See one here.

Capacitor powered cars at last?

Some years ago I was a regular on CompuServe forums, and there was a guy who was an utter PITA. Any given thread regardless of topic had to mention his allegedly brilliant idea of an "electronic energy repository", or "EER" as he called it. I think his name was Frank.

It wouldn't do to point out that there were technical complications involved. He seemed to think that he had an idea that had never occurred to anyone else on earth before, and Progress would occur if only he bothered enough people with enough off-topic messages on enough threads back in the days when connect time was expensive.

I suppose he'll be happy to see this, an attempted application of capacitor energy storage to cars. Not that I think it would shut him up - he'd probably just start posting everywhere telling us how he was right all along.

Not so fast - even this application has its shortcomings. Energy density still isn't anywhere near what can be achieved by other means. That's not to say that the technology won't be incredibly useful, just that Frank needn't declare victory yet.

Monday, January 21, 2008

He's not infallible

As he is only too happy to tell you, Richard Dawkins is an atheist.

Of course being an atheist, it may be too much to expect him to know much about more traditional religions. But he writes about them anyway, as in "The God Delusion".

OK, we don't expect Dawkins to be an expert on non-atheist beliefs, but we *do* expect him to know evolutionary biology. But he can't let science stand in the way of his beliefs. See this for more.

Yes, atheism is a faith. Or at least it will be so until someone succeeds in proving that deities don't exist.

Michael Yon in New York Times

Right here.

There may be hope for the NYT yet.

Brain power outage

Some years back (the 70's?) new cars started coming out with an obnoxious alarm that went off when seat belts weren't locked. Fortunately disabling it was a 2 minute job that didn't even require any tools.

Around the same time I worked as a summertime engineering intern for a state govt organization. It was mandated from upon high that in the summer the office could be kept no cooler than 78 degrees. And anyone who ever checked the thermometer in the office would have found us in compliance. But if they looked carefully they'd notice that the little thermometer bulb had been shifted upward against the background markings so that it indicated 78 when it was about 72.

Now we see something like this again - this silly idea of giving the govt an override on your thermostat.

Even if this silliness had gotten off the ground, did anyone think about it at all? Just wait until the first time someone causes a fire trying to stay warm with a disabled heating system, or dies from the heat because the AC doesn't work.

Of course the govt would deny responsibility vehemently, like Ralph Nader groups argued that they couldn't be held responsible for the fact that the airbags they fought so hard for could kill or even decapitate smaller people and children. (Gosh, what could be wrong with having an explosive pointed at your face, anyway? - their hearts were pure!).

Practically speaking such a regulation would probably do little more than cost a few extra bucks and the inconvenience of disabling the old device. Maybe enough suckers good citizens would play along to make it useful for handling peaks.

But there's a far better idea, using price signals, right here.