Sunday, December 23, 2007

Nuclear rambling

I suppose it's fortunate that Glenn Reynolds is from Knoxville, TN, which is also the home of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Also, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is nearby, thus assuring that Tennesseeans (notably His Greenness Al Gore) have both awareness of and economic interests in nuclear technology. Anyway, GR links to a Metropulse article here, which has inspired the disjointed ramblings that follow.

TVA has an unequaled record in the nuclear power business - no other US organization has undertaken more nuclear power plants, and no other has abandoned more. Browns Ferry near Athens, AL; Sequoyah, near Chattanooga, TN; Watts Bar*, near Maryville, TN; Bellefonte**, near Scottsboro, AL; Hartsville A** and B**, east of Nashville, TN; Yellow Creek**, near Corinth, MS; and Phipps Bend**, near Surgoinsville, TN. The asterisks denote units started but not (yet?) completed.

Around 1982 TVA recruited at my engineering school. At the time they were looking for people to construct Watts Bar and Bellefonte. They cautioned, however, that Watts Bar would be finishing construction in the near term future and thus there was more work at Bellefonte. Fast forward 25 years - Bellefonte ceased construction sometime around 1985, Watts Bar Unit 1 has not been running for long, and the board has recently voted to finish Watts Bar Unit 2.

The article briefly mentions the Browns Ferry event. A bit of background may be in order here.

It so happens that one of the big issues with fire protection anywhere is compartmentalization - you don't want fires to be able to spread. As it happens, there's not much to burn at any nuclear power plant I've ever worked in (4 different sites, 7 units, 3 different utilities, 1 PWR and 3 BWRs, 2 NSSS suppliers), but then I started in the industry after the Browns Ferry event.

Anyway, compartmentalization means preventing heat, flames, gases and combustion products from leaving the area where they started. This means that penetrations from one compartment to another must be sealed such that they can resist pressure differentials. Such penetrations might be for personnel access, ducts, pipes, wiring and other purposes.

A good way to detect air leaks is by releasing something visible and airborne in the vicinity and watching it - if it moves, then the air is moving too. One such "something" is an open flame from a candle. And one of those open flames caused a fire that demonstrated that the seal wasn't adequate... (if that's not ironic enough for you, wait until you hear how a govt notorious for not being able to manage farms managed to foul up Chernobyl - look for "The aim of this test was to determine whether cooling of the core could continue to be ensured in the event of a loss of power").

TVA is easy to pick on - they're big, quasi_govt, and they have a lot of political clout. At one time at least their top executives were not permitted to make any more money than a Congressman does, so it was difficult to recruit and keep good people. Also at one time at least they were governed by a 3 man board, further complicating governance.

And the incomparable Jimmy Carter installed S. David Freeman as one of those governors. We'll see nothing else quite like this until the Pope starts running Planned Parenthood. During his tenure TVA started abandoning the many sites above, and later he moved on to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), which has shut down their Rancho Seco reactor.

I suppose it sounds like I'm ripping on TVA. Well, the truth hurts, but actually I'm rooting for them. The fact is that TVA has had lots of operating and construction experience and for the most part has stayed out of the newspapers outside their territory. Browns Ferry was expensive and embarrassing, but it was about 30 years ago too under a much different regulatory regime.

No, the ones I'd like to rip on are those who use asininities like "Frankenstein construction" (see the Metropulse link above). Often people like this claim to fear global warming too (when they're not denying associations with Nazis, racists and skinheads - diabolical cheap shot,eh?). Here's a hint - any energy/environmental problems we might have will be solved by engineers and those who support them financially, not those who preen and jawbone for a living.

This is a Google satellite map of Bellefonte site. The large round objects casting shadows to the north are the cooling towers. The smaller round-topped objects to the northeast are the reactor buildings. Between the reactors is the auxiliary building, further yet is the turbine building, and beyond that is the switchyard where the power comes in and out. Southeast of the reactors are buildings for construction staff and fab shops, and further yet past the wooded area is the Tennessee River. To the east about halfway up the map is the intake pumping station which draws cooling water from the river for the condenser, HVAC and other cooling loads.

Another thing about Bellefonte. The original nuclear steam supply (NSSS) was a Babcock and Wilcox design. It's sad but true that whatever their other merits, B&W also supplied the NSSS for SMUD and Three Mile Island. Apparently they'll be replaced with Westinghouse equipment. It'll be interesting to see how this will be incorporated into the site. By the time they're through they may be using little of the original plant besides the intake pumping station and the cooling towers.

The article goes on to mention the reduction in suppliers to the industry. I'll note that the concern about the forges, if accurate, only applies if we keep on applying the technologies used in the currently operating generation of plants - other technologies might not need such huge vessels. Long term NWA readers saw this a few years ago noting how it would be difficult to ramp back up to support a growing industry. IMO there's a moral in there for those who would cut the armed services too deeply too.

An aside about Rancho Seco. I don't know much of its history, but I know that at one time in the early 80's they pulled a good one that certainly took a bite out of their low capacity factor. It seems that they connected a backup diesel generator to a live grid before they started it. If you wanted to do something similar at home, you might try running your car at top speed and then slamming it into reverse. Anyway, I wouldn't be me if I didn't grind my favorite axe and note that it was run by a govt organization (Sacramento *Municipal* Utility District).

Enough for now, so this post doesn't suffer a slow death by editing like so many others have lately.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Even dumber than it looks

If I absolutely couldn't help myself and were willing to marry a dog, I'd have to go for Leona Helmsley's.

Just a few million more to go

Behold this article about the brutal murder and dismemberment of a convicted sex offender.

I don't have much use for sex offenders, but I kept reading:
Sorenson was convicted in Tazewell County, Ill., when he was 17 of having sex with a 14-year-old girl, said Northville Township police Lt. Greg Rhodes. His troubled past had nothing to do with the murder, Worthy said.
If 17 on 14 can cause you to be classed as a registered sex offender, I'm guessing we have millions more of them than we think. Dare I suggest that we toss that label around too indiscriminately?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You first

I know that there are recreational drugs that pass almost unchanged through the urine and thus can be recycled. I realize that space travel might require emergency backups. But now there's this

No, I don't believe everything I read.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ohio Star Ball coming up next week

If you like ballroom dancing, the place to be next week is in Columbus, Ohio. Yes, Columbus - the home of the Ohio Star Ball.

It's about as big a ballroom dance event as you'll ever see, and top pros from all over will be there. It's also the event they'll be taping to produce the latest edition of "America's Ballroom Challenge" for PBS.

The event goes on for days, starting out with people as incompetent as me (I was there in 2004 doing standard, rhythm, and smooth) and leading to Friday and Saturday night with the best of the best.

If you've been watching "Dancing with the Stars" you might get the wrong idea about what a competition is like. Amateur women never compete with amateur men. Nobody knows the music in advance. Only the top pros do the stunts like jumping over one another or sliding around on the floor - for the rest of us it's a no-no. Several sets of dancers are on the floor at the same time and you're subject to running into them, especially during the smooth and standard events, and how you deal with this (floorcraft) is considered in your score.

For big events like this one the earlier heats will be going two at a time on the same floor with very little time in between, and event staff are busy distributing and collecting scoresheets from the judges. If you want to see scores you'll have to wait until the staff compiles and posts them. If you'd like feedback from the judges, good luck - they've probably seen hundreds of people that day, and unless you compete regularly it's asking a lot of them to remember you (although if you go to a lot of competitions you'll see the same judges over and over - usually they're ex-pros). Every score I've ever seen was a rank among all of the dancers in your heat.

By now tickets will be available only at the door If I weren't several hundred miles from Columbus I'd be there.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Geek heaven

Or else Lego Mindstorms for grownups right here. Yep, just snap together some devices, write some code to tie it together and voila! The concept is terrific, now let's see how well they implement it.

No idea how much this will cost, but if it's remotely reasonable I'll have to have it just to play around with it.

Now we can't cough either

Now let's just suppose that you run a private business and you find out that people are having sex in your public bathroom. Just what can you do to make it stop? Really now, is it unreasonable to ask for people not to have sex in your store? Is it unreasonable to get the cops involved?

For those who like to shout "homophobia!", I'm guessing that Sears wouldn't have liked it if straights were getting it on there either.

Unless some marketing wizard determined that it improved sales, anyway. What do you expect from a place that advertises pants half off?

And what's wrong with the dressing rooms, anyway? A couple of weeks ago a sitcom had a couple about to get amorous in one when they heard a discouraging voice from the next stall. But there was a moral after all - they did eventually go and get a room

Is there some etiquette involved when one encounters public sex? Is it polite to use the bathroom per design when others are so encumbered? Or does it just add to an ambience they're seeking?

I once lived in an apartment that was alone the top of a stairwell. One day I came up the stairs to find a partly undressed and fully excited couple just outside my door. We saw each other and thus had to address a situation that probably never occurred to Miss Manners.

I wonder what they were thinking at that moment. Perhaps they blushed - they were black so I couldn't tell. Perhaps they considered inviting me to join them. If so, would it have been ungracious/racist/homophobic/illiberal of me to decline?

As for me, I suppose I could have stepped over them and acted like it was something that happened to me every day. Instead I said "I'll be back in 15 minutes", turned around and left. When I returned they were gone and I never saw them again.

Maybe the public restroom incident wasn't well handled. But really, why the hell do we have to tell people not to have sex in public areas?

There's a right way for everything

Some people give wife beating a bad name. Here's how to do it right.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Recall Illinois' governor?

I don't know how likely it is to happen, but it's all right with me if Illinois dumps current 2nd term governor Rod Blagojevich. See
this for more.

The sooner he goes to prison, the sooner he can get on with his life.

And while we're at it, let's quit messing around with George Ryan too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary thought

Are other voters as silly about voting as the ones who vote on "Dancing with the Stars"? Sabrina Bryan should still be there if the actual dancing counts for anything.

This week's Sanjaya Award goes to Jane Seymour and Marie Osmond. Both are talented, but not as much so as Sabrina or the rest of the competitors.

Poor baby!

Is someone from the Clinton campaign writing headlines for Fox? It seems that some other contenders for the Democrats challenged her during a debate, and now we hear that they're "ganging up" on her.

Ah, Clinton as victim again. Sorry sweetie, but you don't get to be President without going through a campaign.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Credit card follies

It's been said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, and a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested. For my money, a liberal is a conservative who has dealt with credit card companies.

(Of course I just ranted about someone possibly signing on for dumb financing deals. Hey, I contain multitudes.)

First off, I know - if you have any reasonable alternative to carrying a credit card balance you probably ought to have your head examined. And there's plenty of fine print, which we consumers are tempted to skim over and generally fail to appreciate fully.

But now imagine that you make at leat a minimum payment on time, then you make the next payment 27 days later, and the credit card company (hereafter known as "thieves") charges you $29 for a late fee.

How did they explain that one? Bill due on 2nd, and I paid it on time (much more than the minimum due). I also paid again around the 5th of that month for the following payment. The billing cycle runs on the 13th, applying the payment on the 5th to the bill due on the 2nd along with the original on time payment, and produced another bill due on the 2nd of the next month. I pay again on the 5th of the next month online (the remaining balance), and wonder why it is that I'm showing a late fee on the bill. The CSRs tell me that this is the way it works.

Well, maybe I missed something in the paperwork. But really, it's not exactly a technological innovation to apply the payment after the 2nd to the following month, and it's certainly a rational expectation. Who would expect to be penalized for paying "too early"?

Imagine Joe Schmuck gets a credit card with his first payment due on 2/2. He pays at least minimum payment on 1/20, leaving a balance. He pays at least the minimum again on 2/5 expecting it to be applied to next bill. But thieves run billing cycle on 2/13, apply 2/5 payment to 2/2 and produce bill due 3/2. Joe pays for the third time on 3/5 intended for the bill he expects will be due on 4/2, but thieves treat it as late for 3/2. If he's not paying attention and continues to pay on the 5th, he'll get hit for a late fee every month, despite starting out current and paying at least the minimum at intervals of no more than a month. Sheesh, if that's how they treat a customer like that, what would they do to someone who actually paid *late*?

The thieves said they'll remove the late charge effective with the next bill. We'll see.

Then there's folly #2 with another den of thieves. Thieves send letter saying accept rate increase or account is disabled. Never mind a 10 year stable record with that company and no changes in my circumstances - CSR says "it's not you, it's us - it's a business decision".

That's OK, I make business decisions too. The twist is that if you don't bend over and take it, you can't use their website to make payments any more. There's no way to pay them locally, and they charge you if you pay them by phone. So those of us who don't get paper bills or who are on the road a lot and have a hard time catching up with our mail can just go to hell. So guess who won't be in my wallet?

Why is it...

...that when medical, drug or financial costs increase, the media busts the providers, but when college costs rise outrageously it's treated as inevitable?

Some local news show just boo-hooed for a girl who managed to run up $100,000 in loans to major in something as remunerative as art.

Nobody questioned her decision. Nobody questioned the college costs. Nope, just the $1000/month loan payments, which would be even higher if she made more money.

It might well be that she could have received a better deal for the college financing. But I dare suggest that anyone who'd accept some of these financing deals is too dumb to go to college anyway.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another reason I'm glad I'm not a beetle

See this.

Somehow I'm not interested in ejaculating 10% of my body weight. For a 160lb man that would be about 2 gallons. Sperm banks would have to start hiring dairy farmers to handle the volume.

How long would it take to, um, deliver all that? Hmm, this is sounding better already. Being an engineer, I can't leave this alone.

The world's foremost authority claims that the average volume for an adult male is between 3 and 5cc (don't believe that old story about how they named the 80's band 10cc).

I can't seem to find a reference for how long the pumping or actual male orgasms last. So I'll assume that the orgasm and the pumping are of equal duration, and that this duration is 6 seconds, if only because it gives me a nice round numbers. Using 5cc for the volume I wind up with 50cc/minute flow rate for the average human male.

At that rate, how long would it take to deliver 2 gallons? Almost 3 hours!

Given that most of us can't run marathons, and that running one takes less time and probably happens at a lower heart rate and blood pressure, I'm guessing that most men wouldn't survive such an experience. Actually I don't know if the beetles do either, but there are plenty of other male critters that don't survive reproduction (the most depressing example probably being this.)

Alright, I've wasted enough time. May your sex never be fatal.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Crazy Sexy Cancer

I guess if someone wants to curl up and die when they get lousy news from their doctor, it's their perfect right.

Kris Carr wasn't ready for that, and it looks like cancer isn't ready for her either. Her main site here, blog here. Or watch for broadcasts of her documentary on TLC.

She's just released a book about it and she's on tour too - she'll be in Chicago on 9/8 out by O'Hare.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Good for Scooter Libby

Fox reports that President Bush has commuted Lewis Libby's sentence so he won't have to go to prison.

He doesn't get off without penalties. But as usual any ranking Democrat within microphone range has had to assert their asininity.

I'll say this for Ted Kennedy - he more or less kept his mouth shut about the time the Dems were trying to screw Clarence Thomas. He knew that with his history it might not be a good idea.

Not so Hillary Clinton, the spouse of the man who pulled all sorts of pardon stunts on his last day in office. But she's a Democrat, so she knows the press has her back covered as long as it looks like she might beat the Republicans.

In a way Bush's low poll numbers are a sort of relief. There isn't much to lose, and if you're going to get negative press no matter what you do you might just as well do what you want.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Evolving journalism

My university had no journalism school. Thank God - we had enough idiots on campus as it was.

Are journalism students idiots? No?

Do they have no integrity? No?

Why should I believe that? You'd hope that on day 1 they'd learn about "editorializing" as opposed to "reporting", and learn that the former belonged on the editorial page.

Sheesh, I learned this as a scuzzy old allegedly sub-literate engineer - when you described situations, it was to be done in neutral language without advocacy.

Why the rant? This link by Glenn Reynolds, about a "Creation Museum" in Kentucky.

You prefer science to Genesis? Be thankful that this nation founded by Christians permits it. Here you can write biased BS as news, using what ought to be a simple news story about a museum to slam religious believers gratuitously.

Is this about "balance"? Fine. Then start quoting creationists in every science article. It's at least as fair and relevant as quoting detractors about the creation museum.

It certainly isn't about tolerance. It isn't about objectivity.

It's not even journalism.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Toxic Muslims

I happen to know that Muslims pass gas, and when they do it can be unpleasant.

But that's not because they're Muslim, or because they eat anything particularly weird. No, I reached this conclusion based on evidence that Muslims are human beings, and the rest of us do the same thing. Yeah, even you.

And now we hear that 13% of Muslims support suicide bombings under some circumstances. Scary, eh?

Really? Why? There is no context here. Do we have a corresponding figure for non-Muslims? Maybe we do - if so the linked post would have been a good place to present it.

Are there lunatic Muslims? Sure, just read the papers. But again, they're human beings too, and if the same poll were performed on non-Muslims the numbers might not be much different, because there are plenty of wackos to go around among the rest of us too.

So the 13% number is misleading without having a corresponding number for non-Muslims.

Why the title? The situation reminds me of earlier cancer scares that seemed to declare every known industrial chemical carcinogenic. But guess what happened when they started testing so-called "natural" substances too? Uh huh - lots of them are carcinogens too under the right circumstances.

Hat tip to SK, NA, HA, RM, and the many other Muslims I've known who wouldn't hurt a fly.

Monday, May 21, 2007

You call *that* an erection?

People who love buildings and other objects, right here, courtesy of Boing-Boing

The world's lamest expression

I propose "You always have to have the last word!" Has anyone ever said that without intending to have the last word themselves?

Pop ignorance

Mary Katharine Ham writes about it here

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Nuclear plant trip via Internet?

Alright, I've been away from the nuclear biz for a few years now, but coverage of an event at TVA's Browns Ferry (BFNP) site sounds misleading to me. "Data storm" blamed for shutdown.

First, some background. Look here for information on boiling water reactors (BWR) in general. The players in this event were the reactor recirculation pumps (which tripped) and the condensate demineralizers ("polishers"). The net effect was as if kidney failure caused a seizure, which the doctors in the control room dealt with via manual scram (intentional shutdown of the reactor) from the control room.

Now, the doctors. Historically anyone who operates a reactor or directly supervises them needs a pretty exclusive credential as a "reactor operator" (RO) or "senior reactor operator" (SRO) per requirements from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, occasionally US-NRC). They receive this credential after intensive training on their plants both with books and with team drills using a control room that is a replica of their facility right down to the colors and shapes of the switches, buttons and displays. They can lose it, and of course the jobs that require it, by failing to act as required by training and procedure.

One tenet of reactor management is that shutdowns like this are dissected in detail, particularly automatic ones. For the latter you can bet that the operators on shift at the time will be asked why they didn't avoid the situation if possible, or else shut down the reactor themselves before the automatic logic took over. An unsatisfactory answer will be received as if a doctor at a malpractice trial had said "no, I didn't use anaesthetic because I figured the patient would pass out anyway from the pain".

Now let's talk about the reactor recirculation (RR) pumps. They're not found in pressurized water reactors (PWR), but they're familiar to fossil plant operators. The idea is to increase the coolant flow through the reactor, because that permits it to generate more power (think turbochargers).

There's always some flow under power operation, because steam is flowing out and feedwater is flowing in to maintain a constant level of coolant in the reactor well above the fuel. But if water is recirculated, you can have more flow through the core than what feedwater alone would provide, and this increases power output. And that power varies in proportion to the RR pump speed, so they have variable frequency drives to control their motors (at BFNP, anyway - more modern BWRs control recirc flow in other ways).

When you shut down a plant, the idea is to minimize its power production. Accordingly the RR pumps are shut down early in the process in the course of a planned shutdown of a BWR, and having the RR pumps unavailable for whatever reason (short of large leaks) does not affect reactor safety.

Now, the condensate polishers. They're typically located far from their reactor in the basement of the building which houses the turbine. They clean the reactor coolant, which in a BWR is demineralized water. By the time the water reaches a BWR's condensate polishers it has been through the condensate and feedwater systems, the reactor, the turbine, and the condenser, and along the way it has picked up contaminants from corrosion products and others. This means that you don't hang around the condensate polishers - they're "hot" radiologically.

They have no safety function. David Copperfield could make them all disappear and the plant could be shut down safely. You won't operate the plant that way for long, but nuclear safety regulations are not concerned with that - that's the owner's problem.

Also like kidneys, you have more CPs than you need. In normal operation you'll have as many running as it takes to support full power operation, and the others will either be out of service or being regenerated.

If CPs are the kidneys, the radwaste system is the bladder. CPs that I am familiar with contain tiny beads of special polymeric resins which preferentially absorb various ions, and they don't last forever - they're either regenerated or replaced at intervals. The analogy is left as an exercise.

Either process involves valve manipulations and other activities near the CPs. Automation of this saves radiation exposure to operators and forces use of the proper procedures. And nowadays the cool kids are using programmable logic controllers (PLC) to control such logic - what valve opens when, and for how long, in response to what measurement, etc.

PLCs are like highly proprietary computers with a very narrow focus and specialized I/O devices. They're much more reliable than PCs (thank God for that), and, being proprietary, they need not make compromises in the name of compatibility with other manufacturers. They can be programmed and can communicate like computers in various network topographies. They can drive or be driven by analog signals, switch and relay contacts or by signals sent over their network. They're compact and can be replaced by yanking cards out of a rack. And as a consequence they offer entirely new ways to fail.

I don't know the details of the configuration at BFNP, but it sounds fair to assume that the PLCs that control the CPs somehow share an information network with the reactor recirculation pumps. Otherwise how could the problem with the CPs impact the RR pumps?

Well, if so this interconnection is not quite as crazy as it may sound. For one, all of the systems in the power generation system must work in concert. Once a BWR is generating power, you manipulate control rods to a certain state as dictated by the nuclear engineering staff to optimize fuel consumption. Then you pretty much leave them there, and control power via the speed of the reactor recirc pumps. More power means more flow through the CPs, and they only tolerate so much flow, so whether automated or not the CP status is considered in the operation of the RR pumps.

I understand that BFNP was modified recently, which is probably when the PLCs were put in. These devices were in their infancy at the time these plants were originally designed and built, and BWR units built later still had traditional 4-20mA analog controllers and relay ladder logic for most systems. When the new design was proposed, I'm guessing that some old operators and engineers were saying "WTF? Nothing happens so fast with CPs that we can't deal with it manually and we don't need any strange new control systems with their new failure modes. This isn't some stealth bomber that simply can't be flown without computerized controls and which spends most of its time shut down anyway - what is this crap doing here?" At which time they found that they were troglodytes and were overruled.

But the bottom line is that nothing happened that impacted the public beyond reading about it in the paper. It cost TVA a bundle because shutdowns always do, planned or otherwise, so you can bet that they're looking really hard at preventing recurrences if only for the most venal capitalistic reasons. There'd better be some engineers and instrument techs burning serious midnight oil at the company that provided the PLCs and on the staff at BFNP. And you don't have to be a baseball fan to know that the most effective way to keep your errors down is to have fewer chances - nobody wants this to recur.

So why did we hear of a "data storm"? I don't like that formulation because it invites speculation that somehow the Internet was involved, and in turn, that someone from outside the plant could manipulate the plant to its detriment.

Yeah, fat chance. If I thought that were happening I'd throw a fit myself. No RO or SRO I ever met would stand for that - they're responsible for the plant, they have to know what's going on, and they'd raise Cain if anything that mattered could bypass them. And I can't imagine the NRC liking it.

The TVA spokesperson confirms the separation here:
"The integrated control system (ICS) network is not connected to the network outside the plant, but it is connected to a very large number of controllers and devices in the plant," Johnson said. "You can end up with a lot of information, and it appears to be more than it could handle."
That's not to say that no computers are ever attached to such control systems. Some are used to monitor and log various plant statuses to help in diagnosing problems and analyzing trips, and they are invaluable for this. But in my experience they are connected through isolators such that they could fail completely, short out, etc, without harming the original circuits. They don't control anything related to power production, and no safety related plant functionality is lost if such systems are unavailable.

Original link from Instapundit.

UPDATE: What's this, traffic? It must be a link back from Instapundit. Thanks, Glenn! Incidentally, I made some minor changes above to make it resemble English a bit more closely. I don't have to be literate, I'm an engineer!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

40 years?

Most people can agree that pornography has no place in our schools. But then neither does this - a *40 year* sentence for allegedly exposing some middle school kids to porn via administratively uncontrolled popup ads?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Would they have asked Bill Clinton this?

Heavens, a Mormon is running for President! Lock up your daughters!

Although I haven't picked anyone else either, I'm not a Mitt Romney backer. And I've never lived among significant groups of Mormons. But the ones I have known have been good people, and I know BS when I hear it.

By now everyone has heard of Al Sharpton's latest asininity, about Mormons, but the corker has to be the SOB who asked Romney if he had slept with his wife before they got married.

Ah yes, nothing could be more significant in a politician than whether they're HYPOCRITES! And why not? It plays into the MSM's biases - non-lefties have higher standards, so they're more likely to fall short of them. Far better to elect the kinds of whorehopping degenerates you're likely to find as, say, senators from Massachusetts.

I'd like to flip this logic on its head. Let's ask the candidates "Are you a hypocrite? And if not, doesn't that mean that you have no meaningful standards at all for your conduct?"

As for Romney, what should he have said? Where are David Letterman's Top Ten List writers? I'm no Scrappleface, and I'm sure I won't come up with 10, but here goes:

"Why don't you save that question for the debates?"
"It depends on what the meaning of 'have sex' is"
"I was before it before I was against it"
"Yes, but I'm not a Democrat - I wouldn't pull out until the job was done"
"As many times as you have with your mother" (risky in more ways than one)
"I'm no Jack Kennedy"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mickey Mouse competition

"Dancing with the Stars" just ended with a touch of justice - we're finally free of this year's winner of the Master P award, Billy Ray Cyrus. I can't see how anyone besides a Howard Stern fan could have ever voted for him based on his dancing skills. Heather Mills outperformed him for sure, but she was voted off two weeks ago. After Billy Ray who can they follow up with - Larry Flynt?

Oh no, not on ABC. We couldn't have a smut peddler on Disney's network.

Yes, Disney owns ABC. Disney also happens to purvey "Hannah Montana", a show starring....Billy Ray Cyrus! Who also records music on the Disney label. Somehow no one saw fit to acknowledge that, and this week host Tom Bergeron even prompted Billy Ray to mention his album.

Hmm, am I suggesting anything? Not yet. But I wouldn't be shocked in the slightest to find that the show had a production meeting every Tuesday morning with the producers, suits and the judges. There, like the producers of professional wrestling, they would decide what is to happen next in order to get and sustain high ratings. If they can work what amounts to a big commercial into what is nominally the entertainment part of the broadcast so much the better. How else to explain Billy Ray's scores from the *judges*?

Not convinced? How about that huge sloppy wet kiss they gave in the form of a retrospective of his time on the show? Yeah, he's "entertaining" to some, but then so is professional wrestling.

Of course the voters haven't distinguished themselves either, and I shudder at the thought that they might be using similar criteria to vote in *political* elections. Good grief, Joey Fatone finished next to last behind Ian Ziering?

Oh sure, it's cool to some to rip on Joey's former band, NSync, and Joey has probably rubbed some fans the wrong way. But if you want to watch Ian Ziering, I'm sure his old show is in reruns somewhere (and Billy Ray's show is in production still). If you don't like good dancing, fine - don't watch the show. Or at least don't vote, so the rest of us can see the better dancers.

Yeah, I'll keep watching. Likewise, sometimes I don't turn the channel when pro wrestling comes on. It doesn't have to be a competently judged contest or even honest competition to be entertaining.

Weaving gold into straw

Sometimes people don't appreciate how management can foul things up. Being here in Chicago, I use the 1990s Bulls as an example. Suppose Phil Jackson had benched Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and played BJ Armstrong at center and Ed Nealy at point guard. Would the Bulls have won 6 championships in 8 years that way?

Or perhaps Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense ought to be pulling a plow?

Now I have a journalism example too. It appears that incredibly gifted columnist/blogger/father James Lileks will now be a reporter.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Associated partisans

Greensburg, KS was obliterated by a super strong tornado a few days ago. And what did the Associated Press want to write about?
In Kansas, the governor said the state's response was limited by the shifting of emergency equipment, such as tents, trucks and semitrailers, to the war in Iraq.

"Not having the National Guard equipment, which used to be positioned in various parts of the state, to bring in immediately is really going to handicap this effort to rebuild," she said.

Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the adjutant general's office, which manages state resources during emergencies, said the state has a shortage of heavy equipment transport trailers, pallet-sized loading systems, Humvees, dump trucks and other large equipment that would be help move massive amount of debris.

"We are never at 100 percent because we are allocated a certain amount from the National Guard Bureau. With the war, we are much shorter than we would be. We have about 40 percent of what is allocated," Watson said.
And they say that *blogs* don't have editors. Is it news when a Democrat administration (funny how that detail was omitted) taking a cheap shot at the war in Iraq? If this is what passes for news reporting, why not add something like "Democrat leaders lost no time in politicizing yet another natural disaster in hopes of wringing advantage from the blood of the victims."

If the Red Cross or other private groups had programs for relief they went unmentioned. But we did read this:
City Administrator Steve Hewitt said his job Monday would be to get city government working again. He said he needed to find employees, get purchase orders out, pay employees and bills _ in short, create commerce again in Greensburg.

"Get government going _ that is our No. 1 priority," Hewitt said.
I would expect that someone who made a living from the govt would say that. But "create commerce again"? Sheesh, is the govt the only thing going in Greensburg? And does it belong in the article?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pro choice

The sex educators had some fun a couple of weeks ago at Jane Galt's. They decided that kids have to have it in our public schools, and that's all there is to it. The comments have been closed and this is too longwinded anyway, so here is my no doubt long-awaited take.

Sex education? Sure, there are plenty of things every human being ought to know about it. But perhaps the main one is simply discipline, whether you're talking keeping your hands off the interns , having sex in church, masturbating in a theater, soliciting gay sex in a public bathroom, a quickie in a car parked on the street or plenty of other things that can be and have been done with people who presumably know more than enough to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancy. Teaching restraint and manners is a lifetime job, and liberals throw a fit any time a public school tries to teach anything that smacks of an ideology other than their own secular religion that dares not speak its name. Yet even the liberals worship condoms, the use of which (or alternatives) requires discipline in itself and fails regularly enough even when used as directed.

And what of consequences of their actions? About the severest consequences modern kids ever suffer in daily life are perhaps losses at video games. Not everything can be reset and restarted, yet we have people trying to eliminate winning and losing from kids' lives lest they suffer a blow to their self-esteem. Yeah, far better than they should learn of consequences from maternity wards, abortion mills, public health clinics or cops. If we want kids to be responsible about sex, maybe we should teach them to be responsible, period. You can't expect it to be taught in schools, especially to kids who don't even have to do chores or earn money.

You also can't teach anybody much of anything practical in sex education. Well, besides unrolling condoms on bananas. That's not very practical unless they're holding the banana below the waist while they're hornier than goats with three testicles and the banana is subject to going bad any instant. And with young guys that might even be enough to end the show (for a couple of minutes, anyway).

When I was a kid there was no sex education in the public schools I attended, but there wasn't a force in the universe that could have stopped me from finding out everything I could on the subject. But knowing how and why sperm are discharged into a vagina didn't help me achieve same, or to get further opportunities if I ever succeeded.

Now what are schools for, anyway? They're publicly funded because we're interested in producing good citizens. Social engineering for sure, but it's intended to complement the parents, not displace them. They don't and shouldn't have the kids 24/7, so they can't teach the kinds of things that require 24/7 teaching (they can only counter them). And the things that require 24/7 teaching would be pretty much anything but the 3 Rs, history, science, vocational education and maybe PE.

What's more, why have the schools teach kids things that they're sure to pick up on their own if they're interested? IMO sex education falls in that category. Likewise with art and music - let the kids stay after school for that if they want it, or leave it as an elective for kids with acceptable achievement in the core subjects.

One of the best things people should be taught is to get the fundamentals right. Apparently liberal school reformers didn't get the news - like all liberals, they'd rather have govt institutions do dozens of things poorly than a few things right. So we clutter schools with irrelevant nonsense at the expense of fundamentals, like a would-be basketball player who can't dribble, pass or shoot but spends his time practicing slam-dunks.

Hey, if you want your kids to get sex education, teach them yourself. If you're not qualified, just how did you have kids, anyway? If you didn't know what caused them then, surely you've learned something since, right?

(Well alright, maybe you adopted the kid(s). Fine. Remind them that even though their mother didn't keep them, she didn't kill them, and maybe they ought to think about that if they ever contemplate an abortion.)

Face it, there simply aren't any good defensible reasons for requiring sex education in schools. There are some bad ones though. Like this. Even if we must require sex ed in the schools, there's no place for that - it's about promoting particular lifestyles, not any sort of essential knowledge.

Hey, I'm just being "pro-choice"...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Short memories

Read something like this and it's easy to imagine the fall of civilization. Well, yeah, this was worse, but how anyone can vote for Democrats after what we've seen so far is amazing. Stay home, vote 3rd party, *something*, but don't vote for those creeps.

And has everyone forgotten how miserable everything got when the Dems ran the show with numbers that could defeat filibusters and we had that insufferable sanctimonious wuss Jimmy Carter in the White House? They fouled things up so badly that we elected Ronald Reagan. We hear plenty of moaning about current circumstances, but the numbers from the Carter years show that this is nothing but partisan yammering. If you want it back, all you have to do is vote Dem.

Voting for and even declaring failure in the Middle East? Nothing the Republicans have done even compares to this Dem disgrace. And here in IL Gov. Blagojevich is grasping for huge programs like a madman while he can - the last couple of Dem governors of IL have wound up in prison upon leaving office, and he's under serious investigation.

Yet lack of enthusiasm for voting for Republicans is understandable. They never had large margins of control, they had the press fighting back tooth and nail, and many of their numbers were RINOS anyway, but still they didn't deliver what people wanted from them. So if govt is to be about nothing but wealth transfers and impotent posturing after all, we might as well vote for the Dems.

But when people like some of my relatives, who have a history of voting Democrat, start cussing the Dems, something's going on.

Did we learn nothing from Bill Clinton?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More examples of armed citizens resisting mass killers

Right here.

Membership of the Congresses of the United States

Greg Hlatky has done a lot of dogged work putting together this page - check it out.

In which I too mock Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow has definitely soaked up too much sun. If you read the news or any blogs yesterday you've heard of her policy prescription for saving the planet. Yep, just one square of TP per trip, folks. What with her hippie predilections we should be happy she uses any at all. And I can't wait to hear her address feminine hygiene.

I wonder if Rosie O'Donnell will be following along? Eww, that one square ain't gonna do it. She'll need to use the roofer's definition of a square - 100 square feet. Whether that will be sufficient remains to be seen - paparazzi, do your stuff!

Now just to show how classy and restrained this blog is, not that *I* didn't write anything like some of the blog comments I saw in various places. For instance, it's been suggested that the departure of Lance Armstrong was related to, um, paperwork. Stuff like that has no place on this blog so I'd never write it here. And certain words don't appear in this blog either, so I didn't title this post "saving the planet the asshole way". Nosirree, we have standards here.

And then there was the account of her and Laurie David running into Karl Rove. Sheryl Crow seems to have battered him with her finger. He took action to avoid this, and Laurie "I'm not perfect" David marveled that anyone would refuse to be jabbed in the chest by Sheryl Crow. Now we know.

(And again, this blog has standards - I would never propose that we challenge blindfolded people to poke Karl Rove and Sheryl Crow in the chest and try to tell them apart. That's *class*.)

I agree with Freedom Eden. We all have our own particular needs of course, so we can make offsetting sacrifices in other areas. Like, say, forgoing the use of private jets.

Seriously, I shudder to think of people like this running the govt.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More overreaction to VT massacre

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, it's a bit overstated IMO. At least, I'll trade a little liberty for a lot of safety, but even then only temporarily. Examples might be, say, quarantines.

But with quarantines we have a disease we can diagnose. If only we were so good at diagnosing mental illness. (At least the press isn't very good, anyway) Yet we're hearing rumblings about simplifying involuntary institutionalization in response to the Virginia Tech slaughter, and that's potentially very scary.

For instance, it's often very tempting to attribute disagreement to mental defects, especially in politics. In some countries it has been policy, and dissidents would wind up in mental hospitals or "reeducation" facilities.

But it can't happen here, right? In fact, it has, and the mere threat of institutionalization has been used for intimidation, Here's an example.

Now that we've seen Congress change hands twice in the last 15 years, you'd hope that both major parties would have learned something important: you don't ever let the govt have a power that you wouldn't trust your opponents with. No more political theater of Congressional investigators and special prosecutors - the Dems could just declare President Bush, VP Cheney, Tom Delay and countless others mentally ill instead harassing them, and the rest of us would cage Dennis Kucinich, Michael Moore, Al Gore and other spigots of senselessness.

IMO any safeguards against political or other misuse that were strong enough to be worthwhile would render the whole project useless. But I suppose I could compromise a little. So I propose the Brazen Bull Act of 2007 - Let's find the people who are in favor of simplified institutionalization and lock them up.

Who is Sick?

Who is Sick? has incredible potential. Just check it out.

Then try to imagine how much this free product would have cost if the govt had tried to implement it.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds (who I only credit about 10% of the time, as if he'd notice the difference on his hit counter) and Boing-Boing for the links.

Just watch it

I got a lot of hits for mentioning Julianne Hough last week, but that's not why I'm mentioning her and celebrity partner Apolo Anton Ohno again. Just watch the video. It's the best performance I can remember from the show after 4 seasons.

Watermelon Day

Ha, another global warming rally impacted by cold weather. And now we must suffer "Earth Day", where greens prostrate themselves before the great goddess Gaea and pledge to badger their betters another year.

This repeated collective silliness annoys me. Why? Because it's ineffective - it's nothing but a big party for likeminded poseurs. (Yeah, they need love too, but in their case all it does is spread more disease and cause abortions). Then they ride home in their SUVs and leave their trash behind.

And because they're dominated by lefties, all of their prescriptions have to involve the govt - heaven forbid that lefties would actually do or pay for anything themselves.

Who says govts can do anything? All any of them can do is take your money, spend it on what they want, pick favorites and deprive you of life, liberty and property if you don't cooperate. This doesn't work with CO2 or the sun. Increases in solar activity may well account for most of the claimed changes in our global average temperature anyway, rendering anthropogenic contributions as significant as spitting in the ocean is to the tides.

But let's suppose we puny humans are causing the change, and that we really know the consequences, that they don't result in net improvement, and that dealing with the results isn't better or cheaper than changing our ways. Then what?

After conservation, the answer lies where it always has - in science and engineering. You want cleaner power? - we're the guys who make it happen. You want more fuel-efficient cars? Tell us what you want and give us the time and money and we'll do all that the laws of physics permit. And who do you think developed, say, solar PV? An activist? A celebrity? A lawyer? A politician?

Yet when was the last time Greenpox et al ever spent a dime on engineering or basic scientific research? No, their history is about imposing additional costs on clean, reliable power sources like nuclear power. Their obsession with energy threatens our supplies, and if you think some forms of energy are dangerous, think of how dangerous it will be *not* to have the energy we need.

I suppose that the lack of support makes sense to them, because they ignore engineers and scientists if they don't like the answers. Colby Cosh gives a terrific example wrt windpower here. The problem, which ought to be obvious to anyone paying attention, is that wind is not necessarily in sync with power demands.

No problem, we'll just store the juice when it's there and dole it out when it's needed, right? Sure, once we get affordable reasonably efficient and reliable non-site-specific storage mechanisms that can work on utility scale. This will work well with solar, windpower and handling peak loads on the grid without having to keep usually oil-fired "peakers" running. Win, win, win - someone will get richer than Bill Gates if they can make this happen.

Again, where's Greenpox et al? They could be training scientists and engineers or funding research toward such a universally useful technology. But as usual they're spending it on lobbyists, exhibitionists and more fundraisers to defoliate us with their mailings about protecting the rainforests.

Lefties aren't about anything but power and control, and any issue they get involved with will be redirected to serve their political ends. The sooner the true greens kick out the reds the sooner we can make environmentalism the nonpartisan issue it always should have been.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Medical miracle

What would a human being look like if he turned inside out? Take a look over here and stay tuned - you might yet get to see it if the author sticks his head any farther up his backside. (You might think that farfetched, but it *would* explain his outlook).
Again, I don’t know what fantasy world people live in that “more guns on campus” is the solution to the tragedy the other day.
Yeah, pick on a straw man - he can't hurt you. Not even if he has a gun. Of course sentient beings would conclude from that that it's not the guns that are the problem, but then we're talking antigunners here.

I'm not a "gun nut" myself, but perhaps Mr. Cole can help me - I sure can't think of any gun organizations that have suggested that guns should be available to all comers. They all emphasize gun safety, and training can be found by anyone who seeks it. (And if sex education ought to be in schools then by all means let's have gun education there too - you know they're going to experiment, so let's make sure they do it safely, and teaching abstinence can't possibly help).
Of course we'd expect that permitting guns on a campus would lead to more guns being there. But that's not the goal - the goal is to enhance security on campus with trained volunteers. The legislation that would have allowed the guns on campus was restricted to trained users over 21.
Colleges are a very unique cross-section of the population, composed of 18-22 year olds, the most violent members of society
Yeah, I was one once too. But college students are not the subdemographic that runs up the score on crime. Or did the Crips et al get their colors from their alma maters? Perhaps Mr. Cole thinks that parents on Chicago's South Side should warn their kids to avoid the University of Chicago campus lest they should be harmed by all those criminal, violent college students.
As far as I am concerned, only if you want more gun violence would you support heavily armed students on every campus.
Is that even remotely fair as a characterization of the defeated law mentioned above? A gun in the right hands in the right place and time could have reduced the gun violence, and has already done so at past school shootings. One of them was even in Virginia in the same part of the state. See lots of examples of handgun self-defense here

It's not so easy to get a gun, they aren't cheap, they require maintenance, and they're heavy and inconvenient to carry. And if you have one legally registered to you you'd better make sure that it isn't stolen or misused. These qualities don't appeal to college students or a lot of others besides. So it's hard for me to believe that we'll have many takers on loosened gun restrictions.

No doubt the next potential mass killer is picking his target based on local gun laws. The thought process must go something like this: "I may be willing to kill strangers in cold blood, but violate gun restrictions? No way!" Or perhaps "No, I'm too young to have a gun - I'll come back then I'm 21 and have the training." Again, sentient beings realize that a group not known for respecting other laws is not particularly like to respect gun laws either, so all the restrictions can do is restrain the law-abiding and make them more likely to be victims.

But I'll take it all back if Mr. Cole can show me a case of a gun harming anyone of its own volition.
I refuse to let the actions of a crazed mass murderer dictate policy decisions that would have broad and potentially disastrous implications for society. And that is what this is really about- knee-jerk reactions to the actions of a crazy person.
OK. But a little balance would be in order. Mr. Cole neglected to mention that the antigun ghouls are again seeking to cash in on the blood of victims, while a bill to permit trained people over 21 to carry guns on campus at least had potential to prevent or at least limit the carnage based on past experience. Perhaps that was an oversight, but I don't think so.

Mr. Cole isn't through yet - from the comments:
But you are still dealing with the base aggression and lack of full and complete brain development that comes with 18-22 year olds. I, for one, do not want to add firearms to an already volatile situation that contains immaturity, hormones, stressful and tumultuous times, etc.
Yeah, that's it - given a choice between beer money and buying and maintaining a gun, the college kids will all go for the guns. Do the authorities have any idea how many students already have guns on campus? After all, they do such a terrific job keeping drugs and booze off campus. And then we get this:
At any rate, it is up to those who wish to propose a drastic policy change such as free-fire zones on campus to prove that it would be fine. Not the other way around.
That's funny, I feel the same way about Constitutional rights like the 2nd Amendment. Free-fire zones? - how asinine can a mischaracterization get?

Of course Mr. Cole isn't the only one writing comments:
Handgun control needs to be national. Regardless of the laws on concealed carry, the fact is that a handgun is very concealable. As long as they’re legal anywhere in the country, they can and will be carried and concealed everywhere.
What's the magic power of this word "legal"? I lived in a nominally dry county once and it had some of the worst alcohol abuse problems in the state. Abortions certainly were common enough before Roe v. Wade. Prohibition didn't exactly work, and we do a hellacious job of keeping out illegal drugs and aliens too. To hear some talk, we can't even keep criminals out of the White House. Ban legal gun sales, and it won't take a week for illegal guns to come in by land, sea and air. As if they weren't already.

The VPI killer had already violated a few other laws too - why didn't the "legal" charm protect VPI against him?

Worldwide experience is that you can't keep guns out, and the nations that try still have plenty of spectacular gun crime. If it must be, Congress can always pass a resolution in favor of safe gun use. It too will be an ineffective gesture, but it would thrill the moral masturbators without harming the rest of us through eroded rights and safety.

Antigunners aren't going to shut up of course. But at least they can be recognized for what they are. You know, as if there really are any agnostics left on this issue.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Think like a mass murderer

Let's get psychopathic for a moment. No specifics, just yes or no.

Let's suppose you intended to kill as many people as you could (and optionally were willing to die in the process). Would you use a gun?

So you can't or won't think that way? Then think about what the most infamous mass killers use. You know, terrorists. When they really want to run up the score like this week's creep did, do they use guns?

Similarly, alternatives were available here (engineering students probably would have known what some of them were - fortunately we were dealing with an English major). If you can't think of any alternatives, well, never mind what they are. Anyway, would anybody be any happier if the victims had died from another cause?

But we all know that the Brady Bunch will be trying to use this tragedy to advance their totalitarian-friendly agenda.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech massacre: blame class warfare!

By now everyone has heard of the mass killings at Virginia Tech. The usual suspects have been heard from claiming that somehow it was the guns that were at fault, as if they'd have been happier if the killer had used bombs.

Those usual suspects are disproportionately liberals. Those same liberals disproportionately fuss about income inequality, CEO compensation, progressive taxation, and other ideas that can be lumped fairly under the heading of "class warfare".

Well, according to the Chicago Tribune the killer left a note railing about, among other things, "rich kids".

Ah, was he inflamed by liberals and their class warfare rhetoric? Is John Edwards inspiring the next wave of remorseless mass killers with his "Two Americas" tripe? (Heaven knows it has nothing to do with $400 haircuts)

I await the editorials from the New York Times.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

False start

Mark Twain once said “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.”

And those cats up in Cheektowaga, NY will remember their failed solar street lights for a long time.

I don't know the technical particulars of this installation, but I would have had plenty of questions about it. But maybe snow didn't collect on the solar collectors. Maybe the battery capacities were appropriate and weren't impaired by the low temperatures you can expect near Buffalo, NY. Maybe the insolation levels were appropriate on average and they just had a 100 year event. Maybe the locations chosen were far enough from power supplies that it made sense for each pole to have its own independent solar power supply with no backup.

If they just had to make some sort of EC (environmentally correct) gesture, why not pick something that would be less spectacularly obvious if it failed?

I bet it'll be a long time before they'll try something like this again. All because some people won't wait for technologies to mature.

From Ecotality, featuring Bill Hobbs.

Free pot for everyone!

No, not yet. Just a proposal for a Cabinet level "Department of Peace". Won't someone get a butterfly net and take Kucinich and his cosponsors away?

It's been referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Let's hope that they overlook it.

From The Corner and Tigerhawk.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Justice at last?

You've heard of David Duke, right? The ex-con who used to run the Ku Klux Klan? Not only that, he's a Holocaust denier, and if that's enough for you, he's a Southerner and a Democrat turned *REPUBLICAN*!

Anyway, did you know that Duke University was named after him?


That's good, because it isn't true. The school existed long before David Duke was born, and was renamed for a major donor who got his money from tobacco. There, *that's* better. What would be better yet would be if the donor's name had been Lynch.

It's also not true that all the Duke staff members who were so quick to condemn the lacrosse players at Duke are in fact acting out of guilt for their own histories of raping black women. I can't prove it, but surely *some* of them are innocent.

(They may have been quick to condemn, but they have their limits. The lacrosse players might have been called rapists, but at least no one called them anything like "nappy-headed hos". Now *that* would be offensive.)

Even so, I'll bet that *this* is true - someone who donated money to Duke has also given money to the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth". Eww, talk about an indelible stain.

No, we must make sure that any such allegations are nipped in the bud before they become immortal on Google.

Hey, maybe we need a new verb: to duke. Meaning something like "to condemn without justification and then not to apologize afterwards". Or maybe we could start saying "Dukism" instead of "McCarthyism".

IMO until Duke University management and faculty Imus themselves before the lacrosse team men for piling on after the vicious slanders by Crystal Gail Mangum, they deserve as much disgrace as we can heap on them. And they can start by running about 88 people out of town.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Calling a spade a spade

I don't listen to Don Imus and I don't know his history. And you won't ever win any charm or class points by referring to a bunch of young women as "nappy-headed hos". But where are all the free speech people about now that Imus is under attack?

Yeah, everybody knows you'd better not say, um, well, you know, the *N-WORD*! For crying out loud, you can't even say a perfectly innocent word like "niggardly" nowadays.

Whatever the virtues of such extralegal prohibition, at least the news has gotten around. It would be nice if the same rules applied to alleged "hip hop artists", who ought to be credited for spreading the word to a bunch of white suburban kids who otherwise wouldn't hear it at home, and they repeat what they hear.

What's is it about "nappy-headed hos" that earns so much time in the media? It isn't exactly race specific - blacks (can I say that?) aren't the only ones with kinky hair. It's gender-specific, but it's not the feminists who are fussing, and what credibility do they have after years of sucking up to Democrats anyway?

No, this is about publicity for opportunists like Al Sharpton. Yes, the "reverend" who has yet to apologize for his role in the Tawana Brawley affair.

Am I being obtuse in suggesting that this is overblown? Whatever the answer, IMO if we're must raise such a fuss over certain words, how about identifying them once and for all?

I suppose we can make some pretty good guesses. I hadn't even heard "pickaninny" when someone was busted for using and defending it. Other candidates would be "Jungle bunny" or "jigaboo", which in my experience are so uncommon that you can't expect younger people to know them. I suppose references to watermelons, spear-chuckin', fried chicken and chitlins will have to go too.

But it's no use, because this isn't about grievances, this is about kowtowing. The ladies of the Rutgers basketball team have a grievance. The rest of the world should butt out.

Incidentally, congratulations to the Rutgers ladies' basketball team for a fine season. It's heartbreaking to work so hard and then finish second.

But nothing that happens to Don Imus will bring that title to New Jersey.

Postscript: the Rutgers ladies just appeared on the tube. (I can't resist noting that the black girls I saw had straightened their hair - now we know the *real* reason why they're ticked...)

Anyway, those quoted on TV spoke up more about the "ho" part. One, when asked about the popularization of "ho" in hip-hop, said it was no different and also ought to be discouraged. Good for her.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My kind of tonw

There's nothing like solidarity, but how far do you go?

It happened in Chicago. Someone came in for a tattoo that in part read "Chi-town". What he got instead said "Chi-tonw". He's suing the tattoo artist.

But the tattoo artist has friends. How do you know? They're all getting the same tattoo, including the "Chi-tonw".

It turns out that the plaintiff approved the tattoo before it was applied. Unfortunately, it appears that he did it with a mirror. Whoops.

Anyway, I hope he loses. But then he'll probably be back to sue the friends for using his design without his permission.

Monday, April 09, 2007

DWTS year 4, week 4

The fourth season of "Dancing with the Stars" is well underway with the biggest bunch of "stars" ever. Unfortunately more people doesn't mean more total talent. The best clue is that a woman with one leg (Heather Mills) is one of the more successful competitors.

The judges aren't happy, and before anyone had danced one of the judges, Len Goodman, reamed all the survivors for slacking. He claimed that the celebs had been putting in only 13 hours of practice on average between shows vs. 19 in past comps, and the scores on average seem to be lower. The feedback was what I'll call "frank"

The one who really got reamed was Clyde Drexler. He'll always have problems because of his 6' 7" height, but the judges actually suggested that he wasn't putting in enough effort. Clyde didn't take that lying down and offered to meet one of the judges outside. He was kidding, I hope. But the judges are right - he basically just followed his partner around the floor on flat feet, and but for the time of the music it was hard to tell he was doing a paso doble instead of a waltz.

Billy Ray Cyrus is coming along but has a long way to go. One clip showed his partner entering the ladies room and then we heard sobbing. The best thing he has going for him is his humility. IMO the judges have been generous to him and Heather Mills if only for their effort.

That's not to say that Heather Mills isn't doing as well as can be expected and more besides. You can't exactly fault her for, say, not pointing her prosthetic left foot when her entire lower leg is a prosthetic, and DWTS certainly isn't a formal dance competition, but at some point we deteriorate from supportiveness to political correctness. She should still be on the show, but not until the last month.

John Ratzenberger wasn't much better than Drexler. But that probably won't be enough to send him out the door with Paulina Porizkova and Shandi Finnessey, because the men either don't vote or, more likely, they don't even watch.

That's bad news for Leeza Gibbons and her partner, the best male pro out there, Tony Dovolani. You wouldn't guess that Ms. Gibbons is 50, but then at times you might not guess she's a dancer either. That's harsh, but she didn't have a good night. My bet is that she's gone after tomorrow.

The young guys are doing OK. So far it looks like Joey Fatone (with Kym Johnson), Apolo Anton Ohno (with Julianne Hough), and Ian Ziering (with two-time winner Cheryl Burke) will be the last to go. Of the women, Laila Ali (with Maksim Chmerkovskiy) will be around for a while too.

In all fairness, we were told from the beginning that this bunch started training later than their predecessors, so expectations had to be lower. Like with most beginners with no dance experience (myself included, in spades), they're very stiff, and that doesn't make for good routines.

But it still makes for a good show altogether. If you've never seen it, give it a try.

Meet Julianne Hough

Yeah, you wish. Julianne Hough isn't mere eye candy from head to toe, she's also an incredibly gifted ballroom dancer who's only 18 years old. You can see her on a video on her website here or you can watch "Dancing with the Stars".

But if you miss her, stay tuned. She wants to be an actress, and if she works as hard as she must have to achieve what she has at her age, you'll be seeing a lot more of her.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hiss story

Adolf Hitler has some kin in the US. Not surprisingly, they don't use the Hitler name. But we could yet see the day that they not only embrace it but stand up in public claiming he was framed.

Why not? The Hiss family hasn't given up on convicted Cold War spy Alger Hiss yet. And I wouldn't be surprised if relatives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were still politicking too. Anyway, Powerline has much more on Hiss here.

Hiss was busted thanks to the late Whittaker Chambers, who earlier had spied for the Russians himself. But he broke with the Evil Empire after seeing it in action enough times, documenting his journey in his bestselling book "Witness". It's still worth a read over half a century after publication.

(Now Thomas Sowell has written another book, which in part documents his recovery from leftism. Mona Charen writes of it here.)

Yes, I'll kowtow to Godwin's law and acknowledge the obvious - Hiss was no Hitler. Or perhaps more appropriately, he was no Stalin. But he and his ilk were enablers, without whom such beasts could not attain power. And with tens of millions of deaths attributable to Communism, there's plenty of guilt to go around.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Secular Sharia

Some of the dumbest people I know are atheists. If you really want to waste some time, try convincing one that their atheism is just as much an article of faith as anything a deist ever came up with. If you doubt that this is true of atheism, try proving that gods *don't* exist.

Of course deists have the same problem proving that gods *do* exist. But at least they admit that they have faith.

And at least religious people are usually humble. Not so the atheists. And few are quite as aggressive at trying to impose their views by law, all while denying that they have any faith at all.

Captain Ed has more to say here.

In closing, this agnostic wishes one and all a happy Easter. While the law still permits it...

Friday, April 06, 2007

She learned from the master

Don Surber catches Hillary Clinton with a real whopper:
“What has historically happened is that there has to be some negotiation and compromise. We may not get it, but I’m not ready to concede that. I saw a lot of what happened when my husband had a Republican Congress. We would stake out one position, they would stake out one position. And then people would begin to try to figure out how to narrow the difference. That’s what should be happening here.”

Then again, we have to consider that to the Dems, compromise means "do it my way".
True compromise might be what should be happening, but it wasn't exactly the Clinton modus operandi. Mr. Surber offers what may be the best example - the budget showdown in 1995:
WASHINGTON - President Clinton and his Republican antagonists are blaming each other for a pre-holiday federal shutdown, forced by yet another deadlock over the two sides’ budget-balancing priorities.Nine Cabinet departments and scores of other agencies technically ran out of money at midnight yesterday, hours after budget talks between the White House and congressional Republicans broke off in bitterness.
This quote is fairly evenhanded, but the coverage in general wasn't. Never mind the fact that the order to shut down Federal functions came from Clinton's staff, reflecting Clinton's explicit choice and initiative - the whole thing was presented by the press as if the govt shutdown were a calamity and Republicans were solely responsible for it.

So maybe the Republicans shouldn't have done things as they did? Well, a few years earlier a budget deadlock occurred between a Democratic Congress and then-President Ronald Reagan. Reagan could have shut down the govt but he didn't. I don't know what the Republicans were thinking, but in retrospect it sounds crazy to expect Bill Clinton to behave like his superior.

Sometime in that period Rush Limbaugh had a TV show. He had no end of fun showing montages of video clips of Bill Clinton speaking of balancing the budget in N years, where N was usually in the range of 5 to 11 years. Too bad we didn't have YouTube or Tivo back then.

Anyway, it's not as if balancing the budget had never been on Clinton's publicly stated agenda. But being the lying sack that he was and is, when time came to deliver he not only wouldn't but he shut down the govt over it. And being the infinitely brassy SOB that he was and is, he claimed credit for budget surpluses when they occurred a few years later under the Republican Congress despite his best efforts.

And all of this was done in front of and perhaps even per the advice or even the direction of Hillary Rodham Clinton. So excuse me if I doubt her integrity, truthfulness and general worthiness to serve in any political capacity whatsoever.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Instant credibility

Yes, you too can have it. How? Malign conservatives.

Neal Boortz says
Sadly ... many conservatives seem to have dedicated their lives to lending credence to the left's "conservatives are idiots" claim.
From his citations apparently the reasoning goes something like this:

"They say that men lived alongside dinosaurs? They're crazy to believe that!"

"They say the earth is flat? They're crazy to believe that!"

"They call themselves conservatives? Why would you question that?"

Neither conservatives nor liberals can control who's on their side of the barricades. And no amount of dissociation will eliminate the resulting slanders. In particular, liberals will slander opponents no matter what they do.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Chlorine gas vs nuclear power plants

The depravity of our opponents in Iraq et al knows few bounds. They don't seem to be lacking in inspiration for new types of attacks, either. All the same, I'm sure that many of you avoid speculating about what *might* be done just in case some murderous creep is reading and hasn't thought of it already. I know that *I* do.

But long before Hezbollah and their ilk was Murphy, as in Murphy's Law. No one is more creative than he. He saves some of his most ingenious work for nuclear power plants, as we saw almost 30 years ago at Three Mile Island. And it so happens that nuclear power plants need to chlorinate their water too, so there's always some chlorine around. What if...?

First let me note that chlorine, even as bottled gas, isn't exactly exotic. Odds are that it has been used to chlorinate your water at some time in the past at least, and the industrial hygiene concerns and rules are well evolved - many people know how to work with the stuff safely. And your local fire departments/emergency responders ought to know where the stuff is in your community and how to deal with it in the case of an accident.

But what about nuclear power plants? Could it harm the staff or otherwise impair control of the site?

Ah, we're a step ahead of you. I've been out of the commercial nuclear power industry for a while, but I can tell you that something like 15-20 years ago a concern arose with the use of gaseous chlorine on nuclear power plant sites. At that time at least it was the cheapest way to chlorinate water on a large scale. But lest some gas should be released inadvertantly, nuclear power plants were ordered to get the gas cylinders offsite. I expect that by now all sites have implemented this. The plant I am most familiar with now uses a solution of sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) in water, which basically amounts to strong Clorox, to chlorinate their water. My guess is that most others do the same.

But that's not good enough - what if the creeps bring their own chlorine? Good point - the nuclear power industry has been concerned with that for years, and we're covered there too. You see, it's common to transport chlorine by rail in large quantities, and most nuclear power plant sites are close enough to railroad lines to need to be concerned with chlorine or whatever other toxic gases might be released in quantity nearby. So nuclear power plant control room ventilation systems have elaborate systems to detect the presence of gas and can responde automatically to protect the staff. And in case the control room should become uninhabitable even with Scott air packs (like what firemen use, and which are always present under Federal regulations for dealing with emergencies), there is another means for shutting down the plants safely, but I don't see the need for more detail right now.

What's more, US commercial nuclear power plants have communications systems with alarms that can be heard for miles, and other emergency response measures reinforced with federally monitored drills, preassigned duties and chains of command and other features too. You can bet that if the local nuke plant calls the sheriff, they'll answer the phone. If you live nearby, they know about it and have ways to evacuate you. Under non-nuclear emergency conditions, this civil defense apparatus would be available also (assuming there are no regulations against it).

US commercial nuclear power plants make lousy targets in any case. But that's another post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Better to have loved and lost?

You know the expression. One source traces it back to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who may have cribbed it from St. Augustine.

But today it occurred to me upon hearing of the passing of Cathy Seipp, who left us this afternoon after 5 years of lung cancer. I never had the chance to meet her. But if her friends and their regard for her are in any way her measure then we've truly lost a treasure. Blessings to her daughter and the others who have lost far more than I.

What does it take to turn people into authoritarians?

The most annoying little kid I've ever run into always said "Why?" in response to anything anyone said. Inquisitiveness is fine, and if a kid is really interested in something he'll get as much of my time as I have. But this little pest really needed a chokechain. Mercifully he grew out of it. (I guess he would have had to escape it by the time he was a teen - by then he would have known everything and been telling all the rest of us "why").

Yeah, I suppose I'm getting older and crankier every year, and I'm either noticing things I didn't or reacting differently. Yet the world really has changed. Good grief, what kind of jerks have to sue a school district because they want to wear Tigger socks? Heaven forbid that she couldn't show "who she is" - the schools must be ruled by the whims of 14 year old girls and publicity-seeking attorneys.

I have a hint for you and your lawyer, sweetie. You won't be showing "who you are" until you stop wearing bottoms.

You might say that it's at least as silly to act as if permitting the changes would end civilization as we know it. If there were no need for any kind of dress code for schools I might agree, but this just shows that no matter what you might put in one, some jackass might take issue with it. Couldn't the judge who got this case sentence the girl to, say, write a twenty page single spaced report on good citizenship as opposed to being a narcissistic twit, and then to make a longhand copy of it for every one of her fellow students in the district?

Salespeople know that you want customers to say "yes". Crap like the above eventually forces us to start saying "no". And once we get started, the easier it becomes to be more restrictive. If we ever do become authoritarians, IMO it will have started in response to clowns like this who show no perspective or discretion.

Give 'em hell, George!

Which president was told by his father that it was a good thing that he wasn't born a girl, or else he'd have been knocked up all the time?

The answer?

Surprised? After recent events I'd think GWB would be the most popular guess. It might not be good policy to line up all the Dems in the House and Senate (and a few Reps too) and kick them all in the crotch, or to put Ann Coulter in charge of his PR, but he puts up with way too much crap without even a comment.

Another form of stupidity

An anti-smoking group called on the U.S. National Slavery Museum to return a donation from tobacco giant Philip Morris USA, saying the company targets children "for another form of slavery."
Just think - all those slaves ever had to do was break a habit. We had a war over that?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

How long before Ann Coulter is prosecuted?

For something.

But don't question their patriotism...

No, you can't stop me, and I'm sure you've heard it: Scientists are starting to use lawyers in medical experiments instead of rats. The lawyers are more numerous, the staff doesn't get attached to them, and there are things that rats won't do.

If the above were true I'd be advocating vivisection about now. If there is no basis in legal ethics for sanctioning lawyers who do stuff like this, than can we even claim that such ethics exist? Sheesh, can't we at least stop giving them a forum at law schools?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This could be it...

It looks like Blogger wants to force me into the new, much-cussed version. Will it work? It looks like we'll find out shortly. In the meantime, it's been a great 5+ years.

Posts have been slowing down for some time. In part it's from being upstaged - my pet issue, nuclear power, is promoted more effectively than I could do it by Instapundit (which is a very good thing - sic 'em, Glenn!).

Incidentally, where did that 'No Watermelons Allowed' name come from?

There I was, impatient to start blogging and I was faced with a prompt for a name. I must have picked a dozen in a row that were taken. Now what?

Well, years ago I was an engineer in the nuclear power industry. I was raised during a time of ascendancy of environmental groups, so I shared their concerns, including those of nuclear power.

Yet my job experiences gave me confidence in the technology and the industry, so I became suspicious of other environmental claims. I found that there was another side, it wasn't malignant, and that it usually made a lot more sense.

Really now, how did environmentalism become a partisan issue? Don't we all want clean air, clean water, a sustainable biosystem, etc.? Never mind "global warming" - who wants to waste power or use up finite resources needlessly? How could an issue with such universal appeal ever become partisan? How screwed up is your approach when you can't sell conservation to conservatives?

Because lefties won't have it any other way. Given a choice between bipartisan progress or doing things their way, these nominal "progressives" oppose progress every time. They seize issues to promote lefty politics to the detriment of the original issue, like a virus turning an innocent cell into a source of further disease. They own the big environmental organizations lock stock and barrel. Accordingly, the late Warren Brookes called these phonies "watermelons" - green on the outside, but red on the inside.

So true environmentalists must take back their institutions from the left, or else create and defend new ones to marginalize the old. No Watermelons Allowed!

Hence the name. It's still weird, but at least it's unique, and without it I might still be sitting at that prompt thinking...

That's Mistress Katharine to you, maggot!

Ever fantasized about an S&M session with a Hello Kitty theme? Look here

Monday, January 29, 2007

Then don't run

Having declared her candidacy only a few days ago, Hillary Clinton has already disqualified herself for the office (assuming she hadn't already).
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that President Bush has made a mess of Iraq and it is his responsibility to "extricate" the United States from the situation before he leaves office.

It would be "the height of irresponsibility" to pass the war along to the next commander in chief, she said.
Certainly, if the next CinC is any Democrat we've seen running to date. Does that mean she wishes Bush would stick around for a third term? If she doesn't want to have to "extricate" the US all she has to do is stay home.
"This was his decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy," the Democratic senator from New York said her in initial presidential campaign swing through Iowa.
Of course an ill-conceived plan for a Democrat is to spend a dime on someone who can't vote for them, and Iraqis who aren't US citizens can't legally vote in the US (that's a privilege reserved for Mexicans only). Does this mean she agreed with the strategy?
"We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office" in January 2009, the former first lady said.
Does this mean that she'll be cooperating with him as he attempts to do so, by voting for his proposals for troop levels and spending?
One questioner asked Clinton if her track record showed she could stand up to "evil men" around the world.

"The question is, we face a lot of dangers in the world and, in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of evil men and what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men," Clinton said. She paused to gaze while the audience interrupted with about 30 seconds of laughter and applause.
That would be fine if Osama Bin Laden et al were mere lying sluts, and an acceptable response would be to stick around and take it so she could maintain her cushy situation. But at least she showed she's capable of making a joke.
She told reporters that evil men included al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who remains at large. "Isn't it about time we get serious about that?" she said.
By doing what, exactly? Invading Pakistan?

All quotes from here

Wednesday, January 03, 2007