Saturday, June 12, 2010

Against the-President-as-First-Responder-in-Chief

Paul Mirengoff lays out what is pretty close to my opinion on the matter of the oil spill and the President's proper role in the response.

Don't rescue somebody when there's an emergency. Let the professionals handle it later, if the victim's still alive then.

This kind of thing just makes my blood boil! Terrific job by Snodgrass (the rafting guide & rescuer), and thank goodness for Bradford (the outfitter) having a backbone and standing up for his man!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Israel: the North Korea of the Middle East?

Daniel Drezner makes the analogy. Like Glenn Reynolds, I don't buy it.

Ahh, those peaceful peace activists organizing a peaceful blockade run: They're financed by a terrorist-linked group. Their supporters are just as peace-loving as they are. And of course, there's only one side worthy of reporting. No need to read Israel's side in this.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Intelligence Games and Computer Worms

Fascinating and eerie description of the evolution of a sophisticated computer worm, and the hunt for its mysterious controller. Whoever this is has got millions of computers under his control...whenever he decides to activate the worm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Use a nuke to stop the oil spill!

Well, it worked for the Russkies, at least with gas well fires. The nuclear bomb: the Swiss Army knife of mineral exploration!

Did Nixon prevent a Soviet nuclear strike on China?

Well, according to Liu Chenshan, a Chinese historian writing in an officially-sanctioned Chinese publication. According to his claim, during a 1969 border war, the Soviets told the United States that they wanted to stop the Chinese threat with a nuclear strike, and they wanted the US to remain neutral.

The US responded that we'd launch a nuclear strike of our own against the USSR if they did so, and this threat worked, sending the Soviets to the negotiating table.

Interesting. Probably a controversial claim, or at least an aspect of history we haven't heard before. I'm curious to see how this holds up.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Quantum entanglement might help bird navigation

From Popular Science. That seemed a bit too far out for me at first, but...

It's been thought for a while that birds navigate using the Earth's magnetic fields. One molecule that's a candidate for their magnetic sense is called "cryptochrome." Here's my reading of their idea how this all might work: When exposed to certain colors of light, cryptochrome can become "activated," producing a pair of entangled electrons, a system in which each electron senses the other's spin direction. A magnetic field affects how long the cryptochrome stays activated. In turn, activated cryptochrome might affect how the retina sees light. This would mean the bird could see magnetic fields with its eyes.

Below is Wikipedia's entry:

According to one model, cryptochrome when exposed to blue light forms a pair of two radicals (molecules with a single unpaired electron) where the spins of the two unpaired electrons are correlated. The occurrence of such light-generated radical pairs and the correlation of the radical pair state have been confirmed recently in a cryptochrome of Xenopus laevis. The surrounding magnetic field affects the kind of this correlation (parallel or anti-parallel), and this in turn affects the length of time cryptochrome stays in its activated state. Activation of cryptochrome may affect the light-sensitivity of retinal neurons, with the overall result that the animal can "see" the magnetic field.

Friday, April 09, 2010

How the Left views the South

Or at least the part of the Left M.J. Rosenberg represents. He's a “Senior Foreign Policy Fellow” at Media Matters. When speaking at a New America Foundation panel recently, he had this to say about Southern support for Israel:


The whole south shifts to the Republican Party over one issue, they don’t like black people…so you have the racism thing, the fact that we’ve eradicated the separation of church and state essentially, which started I have to say when Jimmy Carter was first elected. As a Jew I noticed it — first president who talked about Jesus Christ, and that was sort of like, “whoa, presidents don’t talk about Christ!”…and now you have the modern Republican Party that has to cater to these racists and that gets me to my fundamental point, it is not that they are pro-Israel. They are anti-Muslim. They do not like Muslims. They are on the side of Israel because Israel is — they don’t like Jews that much to start out with, either — but compared to Muslims, they like Jews fine.

They’re infatuated with the Israeli army. Why? Because the Israeli army kills Muslims. I mean, this is what it’s all about….When you hear them talk to the, I don’t want to say the average American, but certainly the average American south of the Mason-Dixon line, “these Muslims” — well, someone said to me the other day, “how’s Keith Ellison doing?” Because he’s a Muslim member of congress, with all these crazy wackos wandering around, I said “how’s Keith Ellison doing?” and he said, “oh, they don’t bother with Keith Ellison, he’s just Al-Qaeda.” …


Huh. That'll be news to my friends in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, especially with our camp's monthly newsletter that usually had an article on Jewish Confederate history. (And I'm pretty sure it was Christians writing those articles, too.) In fact, I'd grown up in the rural mountain South hearing praise for Jews and how it made no sense for anybody to discriminate against them. Israel was simply the place where Jews got to run their own country, and was our democratic ally.

(Via Commentary

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hyacinth Girl on Obamacare

"Looking Down":


Ultimately, it is not the “healthcare for all” proposal I am against, it is the importation of the European idea of prolonged adolescence to America. It is the legitimization of the idea that the government should take care of me, that it is my “right” to be provided with a safety net from cradle to grave. The idea of the nanny state is very seductive–I can feel the siren call tugging at my soul this very instant–but it costs us much more than large percentages of our income. One of the most terrifying (and exciting) things about becoming an adult is the realization that you have no safety net. You are on your own, walking that tightrope across the Grand Canyon. You are able to make your own decisions, but you also have to suffer the consequences of said decisions. At 23, when I convinced myself that I needed to spend my utility money on those perfect red shoes, I did indeed get those red shoes. My power also got disconnected for a bit and I ended up paying more to get it reconnected than I would have if I had just delayed my gratification until the shoes had gone on sale. It would have been nice to have universal electric service, but I’d never have learned to forego my own pleasure to fulfill my responsibilities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New human species discovered by paleontologists

This brings the count to four! Us, Neanderthals, the "Hobbits" of Flores, and now this new species from Siberia. The ones on Flores were alive as recently as 14,000 years ago. This new species is known from a sample 40,000 years old, but the surprising thing is that it's not from an isolated place like that island is. They would have had more interaction with our ancestors. Interesting!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Was Stupak playing us?

Via NRO: Stupak video from 2009

216

Well, away we go... Last one out of the free world, turn out the lights.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Car Lust: The best streetcar ever

It's a little out of my area, but I'm posting this because (1) I like trains, or anything on rails, and (2) I went to grad school in Pittsburgh, where these ran until 1999. (The Car Lust blogger is from Pgh. himself, and he has a whole history of the city's streetcars.)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Quodlibeta--whatever you like

Figulus recommends this blog: Quodlibeta. Excellent mediaeval/classical studies by knowledgeable guys. Nice emphasis on the intersection and compatibility between science and religion.

I'm going to add it to our Blog Roll when I have some time. Until then, enjoy it from this link.

P.S: check out their post on Oresme and the moving earth!

Launching NASA on a Path to Nowhere: Analysis

Launching NASA on a Path to Nowhere: Analysis

Former astronaut Tom Jones (whom I've had the pleasure to meet) also wants us to break out of Low Earth Orbit. This is a knowledgeable article by a NASA insider.

Giving up on the Moon?

Giving up on the Moon?

I've disagreed with Rand Simberg on space policy for a while. After some time I finally realized that he wasn't anti-manned space travel, but rather anti-NASA. He wants a strong private space industry, as do I.

But in the near future, the big manned space projects are simply going to be NASA projects. And so Obama's cutting the Constellation project and the Aries rocket out of NASA aren't going to mean that private companies do it instead. Rather, it means we won't do it at all. We've lost the Moon. For the better part of a decade, NASA has been reorganized around going to the Moon and Mars. Manned missions, at long last! Billions(?) spent on developing the hardware, lots of time in institutional reorganization (which everybody just loooves). All of that...apparently poured down the drain, thanks to Obama's budget.

Projects like this can't be done on the spur of the moment. They require years'-long commitments and some level of consistency out of the Federal government, which is tough to get. When we went to the Moon under Apollo, we were lucky to have enough consistency to carry it through three separate administrations: Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. This time around, it was started in Bush's first term, carried through his second, and is on track to be killed in the second year of Obama's.

If this is lost now, what have we gotten for our money? And how many more decades will we be stuck in *%*&! Low Earth Orbit??!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union


My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate.


Once again, a dirty slam at Bush. I'd like to ask him how his administration's dropping the case against the Black Panthers squares with this.

He's really classless.

State of the Union

9:53 PM: Takes bold stand on freezing the Federal budget. [Yay! Reign in spending! ...after printing money for the last year...]

9:55 PM: This freeze will take place next year...after our economy is stronger. [....awkward pause...giggling by Republican side...] [Oh, like, "I'll start that diet next month...after Thanksgiving...]

State of the Union

9:49 PM: Blaming Bush for the deficit. Classy.

And the snide, defiant attitude you get out of a 13-year-old girl while doing it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What has just turned me in favor of global warming

Not in favor of believing it exists (which I already do, although I'm skeptical of details), but in favor of it happening. As in: I want more of it!

Take a look at this record of historical temperatures from ice core samples in Greenland and Antarctica and quake in fear. Good GRIEF we're lucky to be living in one of those warm, terribly-short interglacial periods! And from the Antarctic data, it looks like this is by far the loooongest interglacial in the 400,000 years recorded in that ice core.

Meaning: fear the coming ice age! Maybe we're meant to be producing extra CO_2 to prevent another ice age and save civilization itself.

A little Rumanian culture

Two items from Rumania today: news and music. A Rumanian friend told us about the pianist Florin Chilian, whose beautiful song "Zece" ("Ten") I've linked to. And for keeping up with the news, there's the foreign broadcast of Rumania's public television network, TVRi, which functions a bit like the BBC World Service. It broadcasts online for expatriate Rumanians, and I just noticed the news ticker at the bottom of the screen has one line in English. Huh.

Amazing libraries

Oddee compiles a picture tour of the 20 most amazing libraries around the world. Fascinating to look through. I'm most intrigued by the private library of Jay Walker, described in much more detail in this Wired article from last year. I've got a friend with an extensive private library in his apartment--something as large as many high school libraries, in fact--but it's still got nothing on this one, which is full of artifacts as well as books.

So are the Brits trying to make a detour around Prince Charles?

I shouldn't be able to care less, but I have some reluctant interest in how succession works in monarchies. In the early days, succession wasn't a matter purely of inheritance, and you could have several competing claims to the throne. This often resulted in battles and hacking and poisonings and the Norman invasion and such, so eventually, the British and other monarchies started clearer rules for inheriting the title. Less bloodshed that way, but the problem arose that the people who are born in the line of succession are not necessarily born with the talents for ruling. Ahh, the problems inherent in a system of inherited privilege. Aristocracy..."rule by the best" my foot.

In the modern day, the monarch in Western countries does a whole lot of nothing but can be fairly said to be a rallying personality for the nation in times of crisis, at least until the whole Princess Diana mess came about, and the famous British stiff upper lip turned into weepy, pouty, maudlin nonsense. Anyway, you still get the problems from time to time that the next in line for the throne will be a nut and therefore, at the least, an embarrassment. So it is, apparently, with Prince Charles, and therefore we are seeing hints that the royal family is finding ways around him.

I'm a little disappointed, to tell you the truth. I think a King Charles III would provide great entertainment for a long time, not the least to us foreigners.

Climategate: roundup of the deeper analysis of "Mike's Nature Trick"

There have been a few really excellent articles lately that probe "Mike's Nature trick" in good depth.


Anthony Watts has cross-posted this article from The American Thinker, which is the best one I have found for understanding just what "Mike's Nature trick" really is. We've been wondering if there was any outright manipulation of the data to reach a predetermined conclusion, and I believe Marc Sheppard has found the smoking gun. Briefly: in the IPCC reports, when they've shown the so-called "hockey stick" plots (a thousand years of nearly-constant temperatures, followed by a sharp rise in the 20th century), they've had several data sets to use for reconstructing the historical temperatures. One of those is from tree rings. Thermometer records aren't consistently applied until about the 20th century, so we can't compare them with the tree rings or other "proxy" measurements except in the 20th century. But the tree ring data show a decline in temperatures from about 1940 (and a steeper decline after ~1960) to now, while the thermometer records go sharply upwards in the late-20th century. The discrepancy is a little embarrassing. So what do you do, if you're trying to convince people that this is all settled science? In order to "hide the decline," you either don't plot the tree ring data after 1960, or you simply fake it to make it match the thermometer records.

The UK's Daily Mail provides a good summary of the foregoing article, along with some context. The American Thinker piece is more technical, and the Daily Mail's might make a good introduction to it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Global Warming e-mails hacked: a roundup

In the area of politically-sensitive science, the big news this weekend has clearly been the hacking of e-mails from East Anglia University's (UK) Climate Research Unit (CRU). About a decade's worth of e-mails were posted online by the hackers, including e-mails from some of the world's most prominent promoters of the idea of manmade global warming (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW). These men are not only very prominent supporters of this idea, but their data and analyses form the core of much of the understanding of global warming. They're also at the center of the problem with calibrating tree ring measurements to temperature, which erupted a couple of months ago.

The e-mails show some reprehensible behavior for scientists to be caught in: exchanging information about papers they're refereeing, trying to bully a journal's editor, covering up inconvenient data (how to hide a dip in temperatures), and worst--deleting e-mails requested under Britain's Freedom of Information Act.

I'll surely talk more about this later, but for now I want to post a roundup of the major blog posts about this. In no particular order...

Pajamas Media's Charlie Martin
Belmont Club/Pajamas Media's Richard Fernandez
Ace of Spades part 1
Ace of Spades part 2
Andrew Bolt (Australia)
Tim Blair (Australia) part 1
Tim Blair, again
Tim Blair, part the umpteenth (now with swag!) (No, seriously--you can buy your "Hide the decline" T-shirt here!)
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey
Jules Crittenden
Pajamas Media's Charlie Martin (with a detailed list of the interesting e-mails)
Pajamas Media's Ed Driscoll
Ann Althouse on the Washington Post's coverage (it's not bad)--plus, a Thomas a Becket reference!
Roger Pielke
Aaaaand the Washington Post.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've got two words for you: IN! SANE!

That's my reaction to reading about this new regulation on the sale OR ACQUISITION of any unlabeled wood or wooden products.

This is so incredibly broad, it seems that being given (note--not just buying, but even acquisition!) a toothpick could subject you to prosecution, if that toothpick does not carry a label as to the genus and species of wood it's made from. Or paper--the regulation even lists paper explicitly. Furthermore, even if they decide not to prosecute you, they can still confiscate the materials.

Un. Be. Lieveable!

Friday, November 06, 2009

One more on Honduras...

Again, from Commentary's "Contentions" blog.

Commentary on the Honduras deal

Jennifer Rubin discusses the deal on their blog. She thinks the State Department realized they were out on a limb with the ridiculous threat not to recognize this month's presidential elections, and this is their way of stepping back from the edge.

A Victory for Honduras?

The other day, I had been disappointed to read that Honduras had been bullied into accepting a US plan to reinstate Zelaya, contrary to their constitution. But now the practical meaning of this deal is getting worked out, and it doesn't seem too bad. Apparently, the US has taken back its threat not to recognize the Nov. 23 presidential elections, even if Zelaya is not back in power. That was the biggest stick in our arsenal, because Honduras might have been able to weather a few months of sanctions, as long as it could expect a return to normal conditions once the new president was inaugurated.

A threat of apparently endless sanctions was a shocking one and ridiculously reasoned. Now the US has apparently backtracked, and while we still say "Zelaya should be returned to power," we're only going to require that Honduras vote on whether to accept him back. Well, didn't their congress & supreme court do that to begin with? No matter. The outcome will be similar this time, and it will allow them to be welcomed back into our good graces.

The only justification for our sanctions I could find anywhere was one analysis that said the Organization of American States has an item in its charter that says no [democratically elected?] leader can be deposed without a trial. Since the Honduran constitution doesn't have a mechanism for impeachment, there was a conflict between their constitution's rules and the OAS'. Since this certainly wasn't an antidemocratic military coup (which the OAS rule is designed to prevent), the rest of us should have looked at this as a mere technical violation and suspended any enforcement of it. Instead, we acted as if the OAS rule was the more fundamental one and tried to make them violate their own constitution.

Well, I say that, but I think the Obama administration's actions can't be laid at the feet of a stubborn commitment to OAS rules and procedures. [giggle! snort!] Zelaya is an emerging leftist, and I'm worried they liked him and his policies enough to see any action against him as a threat.

Anyway, Zelaya has realized the implications of the new deal and understands this won't force Honduras to reinstate him at all. Let's hope not.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Artificial Black Hole in a Lab

No, not that kind of black hole, but something that simulates its effects on microwaves. They've been working on making acoustic analogues of black holes lately, but this is one that works with microwave beams. Interesting.

Magnetic Monopoles discovered! ...well, in crystal structure, anyway.

Via Instapundit: Still, pretty exciting, because of the applications you might be able to do. Step one: Magnetic currents.

Should the US finally drop our push for Turkey in the EU?

Reading this article, I'm wondering if we've finally lost Turkey altogether. If so, the only things tying it to the West are its membership in NATO and its desire to join the EU. We ought to use these as leverage to restrain Turkey's anti-Western and anti-Israeli actions.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize: Obama gets an "A" for effort.

The Mrs. just put it this way. Perfect!

Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!

Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

For what, exactly?! Teddy Roosevelt is the only other sitting President to earn a Nobel Peace Prize, to my knowledge, and Roosevelt thought it would be wrong to accept it while in office, so he waited four years to go and actually pick it up. What did Roosevelt do to earn it? He brokered the end of the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.

What did Obama do to earn it? He, um... Well, Iran has promised to...no. Or Russia! They're no longer threatening to...no, no they're not. Wait, something will come to me...

UPDATE: He's the third sitting President to win the prize (I almost mistakenly wrote "earn"). Wilson won it in 1919.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The President's address to schoolchildren

I keep seeing this described in the press as an address to "all" public school children. But since the Federal Government can't actually require any school to put this program on, I hope that "all" simply expresses their hope as to who will tune in.

I've read through the Ed. Department's teacher's guide for the address several times (this is the pre-K through 6th grade guide) and am left wondering what this speech will cover. There's a lot about what the President will ask the kids to do and how the kids can help the President.

Maybe it's innocuous: "study hard and go to school." Typical for modern presidents, where our view of his role, sadly, has degenerated into a lot of this sort of thing. But harmless and actually a bit of good for the kids.

But I wonder whether or not this will be where Obama makes his push for community service, which his campaign had said he'd require of all students. The Mrs., who grew up in Communist Eastern Europe, rolled her eyes and said that was what they had to do every school year--two weeks of working out in the fields. You weren't actually required to do that, interestingly enough. You'd just have to repeat the school year if you opted out, that's all...

There's also the problematic phrasing in this teacher's guide:
"Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?"


Ummm...it is not important to listen to any of them! It is important for them to listen to us. We have absolutely no obligation, under any interpretation of our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, other founding documents, writings of the Founding Fathers, or of the whole premise of our system of government, to "listen to" our elected officials (or bureaucrats, for that matter). Our system is predicated on their listening to us, and there is not the converse idea of our needing to listen to them.

We are not wards of the state. We are free men. Our President needs to listen to us, and we go about our lives without needing him to tell us to do things for him. Now, again, if he's just going to tell the kids to study hard, that's fine. It's the advice of any adult to a child. But he gets no special consideration by being President, and he needs to remember that.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ted Kennedy's Soviet Gambit, again

Commentary by Investor's Business Daily here. They bring up the 1799 Logan Act and ask if Kennedy violated it, even though the Soviets didn't take up his offer of help.

I'm still amazed this man wasn't drummed out of office for his behavior.

Left-wing astroturfing for town hall meetings

Caught on tape. A "Health Care for America Now" guy tells people how to drown out opposing questions and block the camera's view with signs.

Obama's arm-twisting on Honduras

O'Grady investigates the lengths to which our administration will go in pressuring Honduras to take back their would-be dictator.

One thing I'm curious about: Honduras has presidential elections coming up this November. Once they elect and inaugurate a new president, will our sanctions and threats against them cease? If any of these measures last a day past the beginning of their new administration, I'll have to believe it is purely punishment for having ousted a favored leftist. I think it is, anyway, but there won't be any pretext for maintaining these sanctions after the next Honduran administration takes office. Let's see how that goes...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blood for oil: Libyan edition

"The British government decided it was 'in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom' to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal."

These letters were sent two years ago by minister Jack Straw to Kenny MacAskill, the man who made the decision this month to release the bomber. Originally, Straw opposed including the bomber in a prisoner-exchange deal (letting Libyan and British prisoners serve out their time in their home countries). But... "Straw then switched his position as Libya used its deal with BP as a bargaining chip to insist the Lockerbie bomber was included."

Huh.

Fireballs seen in the sky

Article about lights and sounds observed in the sky last week. I got a call from this reporter, asking what it might have been. No major meteor showers going on, he noted. Probably space debris, and I had a student see these the same night.

So does US Space Command have a public information number?

Ted Kennedy's Soviet Gambit

Article here. This is astonishing. A Soviet memorandum from 1983 documents how Ted Kennedy tried to make a deal with the Russians to undermine Reagan's foreign policy and give the Soviets the advantage in nuclear negotiations...and to help Kennedy run for president.

It's a tribute to our free and open system that this man was still walking around free, despite having done this.

Is the Lockerbie bomber really dying?

Real questions come up, noted here. The idea that his release was part of a deal to get the Libyans to make an oil deal with Britain is getting some documentary evidence now. I'll link to that story when I find it again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The idiots at State

Cowards. Idiots. Weasels. Unwilling to stand up to real tyrants but bullying democratic countries committed to the rule of law. This administration is turning hard Left in its foreign policy. (%*(!!

America has no Caudillo

I think I'm using that word correctly. Anyway, Foud Ajami at JHU puts Obama's failure to rule by personality into context very nicely here.

Thousandth post!

OK, something more substantial in the next one, but I couldn't let this go by when I saw Blogger note that I had 999 posts.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

LIGO rules out long-wavelength gravitational waves

Story summarized on Slashdot here.

Amen!

"The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there." Finally! I'm seeing somebody with real knowledge of the Constitution write what I've believed for a long time. Why am I not seeing more conservatives make these points?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The self-refutation of postmodernism

Mark Baulerlein takes down Stanley Fish's (old) defense of Social Text in the 1996 Sokal hoax. Fish essentially says that those post-modernists were taken in by Sokal's hoax because they relied on his credentials and didn't evaluate the truth of his paper's claims.

Surprisingly, he means that as a defense.

Goldberg on the hidden costs of "Cash for Clunkers"

Article here. He starts with Bastiat's "Parable of the Broken Window," of which this is a wonderful example. I was explaining this to our older daughter the other day, and she picked up on the reasoning very quickly.