Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Sage in Christendom

Fouad Ajami writes a tribute to Bernard Lewis, a historian who in 1990 wrote an essay entitled "The Roots of Muslim Rage":
The rage of Islam was no mystery to Mr. Lewis. To no great surprise, it issued out of his respect for the Muslim logic of things. For 14 centuries, he wrote, Islam and Christendom had feuded and fought across a bloody and shifting frontier, their enmity a "series of attacks and counterattacks, jihads and crusades, conquests and reconquests." For nearly a millennium, Islam had the upper hand....

...The great turning point came in 1683, when a Turkish siege of Vienna ended in failure and defeat. With the Turks on the run, the terms of engagement between Europe and Islam were transformed. Russia overthrew the Tatar yoke; there was the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula.... Britain, France, the Netherlands and Russia all soon spilled into Islamic lands.... But Mr. Lewis has been relentless in his admonition that Muslims were under no obligation to accept the new order of things.
Worth reading in its entirety.

A Scanner Darkly

Before the movie Saturday we watched a trailer for yet another movie based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, the sui generis science fiction writer who died in 1982.
"A Scanner Darkly" is set in suburban Orange County, California in a future where America has lost the war on drugs. When one reluctant undercover cop is ordered to start spying on his friends, he is launched on a paranoid journey into the absurd, where identities and loyalties are impossible to decode. It is a cautionary tale of drug use based on the novel by Philip K. Dick and his own experiences.

Like a graphic novel come to life, "A Scanner Darkly" will use live action photography overlaid with an advanced animation process (interpolated rotoscoping) to create a haunting, highly stylized vision of the future....
I can attest that the audience will not require drugs--the rotoscoping induces lasting hallucinations after just a few minutes.

Legalization in Mexico

San Diego officials are very upset:
Mayor Jerry Sanders and other local officials were astounded to hear that Mexico is close to legalizing an array of drugs--from marijuana to heroin--for personal use.

"I view this as a hostile action by a longtime ally of the U.S.," Sanders said at a City Hall news conference.

Mexico's Congress approved a bill yesterday that would allow possession of small quantities of marijuana, Ecstasy, cocaine and even heroin.
Actually the bill in question makes nothing legal; it only defines how small a fry is too small to prosecute. "Zero tolerance" never makes economic or legal sense and the Mexican Senate at least has the intelligence to recognize that.

The full text of the bill is here. (No wonder there's such confusion--it's written in a foreign language.) Notice that the Mexican Senate can distinguish between narcotics, psycotropics, and stimulants, which is more than you can say for the Congress of the United States.

Real Chicago

The Chicago Sun-Times has put up a gallery of hundreds of black and white photos from 1940s to the 1990s. Real history. Source material, as they say.

Oh, and Steyn's got a column too. About fake history.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Afghanistan Is Open For Business

Ann Marlowe in Opinion Journal:
The recent Yale graduate I was chatting with at a party here spoke Chinese and had lived in China, the seeming epicenter of all things capitalist. "Why did you decide to come to Afghanistan?" I asked. He stared at me. "This is the largest rebuilding and development effort in the history of the world. Who wouldn't want to be here?"

After decades of conflict and the crippling legacies of communism and fundamentalism, Afghanistan is finally open for business. The signs are everywhere, from Kabul's traffic jams to Mazar-i-Sharif's building boom; from the opening of a Coca-Cola bottling plant to the country's first private university, the American University of Afghanistan, offering programs in business administration and information technology....

Writers of a certain ideological stripe whine that because Afghanistan isn't Switzerland, it's yet another sign that the U.S. can't get anything right. But fortunes are being made here by those who think for themselves. And there are few countries where Americans are as welcome. A recent BBC poll reports that 72% of Afghans see American influence as positive, as opposed to just 25% of the French and 21% of Germans.
Ms. Marlowe (M.B.A. from Columbia) has led an interesting life.

Things Are Looking Up

Victor Davis Hanson has a footnote:
I spent recent days recovering from emergency surgery for a perforated appendix in a Red Crescent clinic in Libya. I owe a great debt to the skill and confidence of a general surgeon, Dr. Ayoub, who was roused at 3 A.M., and saved me from a great deal worse, along with Dr. al Hafez who offered his medical expertise and care that allowed me to get back to California. Throughout all this, I did not experience a shred of anti-Americanism, but instead real kindness from Libyans from all walks of life. There is sometimes perhaps hurt and confusion over America's intentions — but also grudging acknowledgement that for the first time in memory there is real hope for something different, something far better in the future of the Middle East.
All in all, he says, just as everyone starts jumping ship, things are looking up.

United 93

I took Charlie and Cody to see an R-rated movie today. Don't worry; no one took their clothes off. We saw no gratuitous violence. We heard no stronger language than you'd hear in 7th grade locker room. What did this movie do to deserve an R-rating? It was too Real, I guess.

The Wall Street Journal has a sampling of the reviews. David Denby of The New Yorker has one of the best:
...once the flight is aloft Greengrass sticks to real time, and the passing minutes have an almost demonic urgency. This is true existential filmmaking: there is only the next instant, and the one after that, and what are you going to do? Many films whip up tension with cunning and manipulation. As far as possible, this movie plays it straight.
The movie built in the last minutes to the inevitable chaotic crescendo and then the screen went black as the strings played their final chord, a dotted half, fading to silence. Dead silence. As people slowly rose and left the theater, no one spoke. Silence.

I've never heard anything like it.

On the Reliability of Wikipedia

An AP article this morning prompted a lively discussion on Lucianne:
"This is precisely why utopian societies do not work. We need rules..."

"When I do a web search I skip the Wikipedia hits."

"When I assign writing/research projects to my university students, I specifically caution them that wikipedia is not a reliable source and is not to be used. Most of them express surprise..."

"Wikipedia gives you a 50/50 chance of getting accurate information. You get to guess which part is accurate."

"...if you mix a teaspoon of crap into a quart of ice cream, you have a quart of crap."
I soured on Wikipedia after reading the hatchet job they did on historian Paul Johnson. They refused to even call him a historian, labeling him instead a "journalist". Judge for yourself. Still, it's a tempting source for quick background on safe topics:
"Wikipedia seems to be OK for topics on language and science and the arts, and maybe for biographies on long-dead historical figures like Charlemagne and Julius Caesar, but avoid any biographies on people who are either still alive or still controversial, and avoid articles on emotional topics."
Even so I find myself more and more reluctant to eat the ice cream.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mathlete

Charlie won 4th place among the 7th graders in the Pentagames, a one day math competition for 7th and 8th grades. He also took 2nd place in Math-Tac-Toe. Ten schools from the Rogue Valley entered the competition.

Angelina Shrugged

From Variety by way of BureauCrash:
Ayn Rand's most ambitious novel may finally be brought to the big screen after years of false starts.

Lionsgate has picked up worldwide distribution rights to "Atlas Shrugged" from Howard and Karen Baldwin ("Ray"), who will produce with John Aglialoro.

As for stars, book provides an ideal role for an actress in lead character Dagny Taggart, so it's not a stretch to assume Rand enthusiast Angelina Jolie's name has been brought up. Brad Pitt, also a fan, is rumored to be among the names suggested for lead male character John Galt.
Artist Nick Gaetano did the cover art for the 35th Anniversary Edition of Atlas Shrugged.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Crossfield Accident Inflight Breakup

On Thursday, the NTSB release its Preliminary Report on last week's accident in Ludville, GA that claimed the life of famed test pilot Scott Crossfield, which follows below. In what is perhaps the report's most significant finding, the NTSB reports wreckage from the accident -- which occurred in IMC conditions near a Level 6 thunderstorm cell -- is "consistent with a low altitude in-flight breakup."
Aero-News Network

The Yellow House

From The Economist's review of The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles by Martin Gayford:
Two more mismatched housemates than Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin would be hard to find. Van Gogh was unkempt, emotionally unstable and talked incessantly while he worked. Gauguin, a former sailor and businessman, was taciturn, orderly and a loner. Yet from October to December 1888, the two shared a four-roomed yellow house in Arles until, after a quarrel, Van Gogh cut off his ear. Gauguin fled for Paris and the two never saw each other again....
You can view many the paintings of Van Gogh and Gauguin online.

Not So Great (Fire) Wall

The Economist looks at China and the internet:
The firewall is porous. Imaginative users can find ways of searching for sensitive topics such as news about Falun Gong, a banned spiritual movement. In Google, entering the words ""Falun Gong"? will cause the entire results page to be blocked, but ""FLG movement"? will not. Many Chinese internet-users are well practised in configuring their internet browsers to route page requests through unblocked proxy servers outside China. These help bypass the firewall.
"The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." --John Gilmore, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Pacific Aviation's New 152

Pacific Aviation Northwest has a new 152. Well, new to them, anyway--it's a 1978 model. They also have a Champ, a Skyhawk, and an Apache. Something for everyone at Grants Pass International.

More Than A Bad Hair Day

Earl Pickles:
Sometimes I forget that I'm old. I mean, I know I'm old, but inside I still sometimes feel like I did when I was a lad of fifteen. So occasionally I'll look in the mirror and be surprised to see an old man staring back at me.
Daughter:
Ah, that would explain the shriek I heard coming from the bathroom this morning.

Eaglet Web Cam

In Maine.

The cam's a little slow this morning due to bandwidth problems, but you can view archived pictures here.

It's Thursday...

It's Ann Coulter day.
I would be more interested in what the Democrats had to say about high gas prices if these were not the same people who refused to let us drill for oil in Alaska, imposed massive restrictions on building new refineries, and who shut down the development of nuclear power in this country decades ago.
We all have our favorite images of Miss Coulter. Here's mine.

The Filmmakers Got It Right

David Beamer reviews "United 93":
Paul Greengrass and Universal set out to tell the story of United Flight 93 on that terrible day in our nation's history. They set about the task of telling this story with a genuine intent to get it right--the actions of those on board and honor their memory. Their extensive research included reaching out to all the families who had lost loved ones on United Flight 93 as the first casualties of this war. And Paul and his team got it right.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Christine "Troubled" By I-933

Christine Gregoire, beneficiary of a stolen election, doesn't care much for democracy in any form:
Gov. Chris Gregoire this week announced her opposition to a proposed initiative that would require the government to compensate private property owners when government zoning or land-use regulations infringe on use of the property and decrease its value.
The Centralia Chronicle's all over her:
We'd be interested to know what Gregoire's ideas are...

Does Gregoire acknowledge that the three-member, unelected hearings boards likely have too much power and ought to be elected so that they can be held more accountable?

Does she realize the state-mandated rural residential development zoning that, contrary to the county's better judgment, imposed five-acre and above densities for home sites in the county diminishes the availability and drives up the cost of housing in rural areas and is a major waste of the land resource?...

Perhaps it will take the passage of I-933 to get the message across.
More on the Property Fairness Initiative here.

Flogging A Dead Horse

In the days of sail, Isil says, a sailor customarily received his first month's pay in advance. And he customarily managed to spend it all before coming aboard. Consequently for the first month at sea most sailors felt as if they were working for nothing. Admiral William Smyth observed that trying to get wholehearted work out of the crew during the first month at sea was as much an exercise in futility as "flogging a dead horse."

I feel like that now. Uncle Sam has taken my next month's wages and I've lost the will to work.

What's the use? The money's already gone.

How's Your Congersman?

Robert D. Novak in The American Spectator:
Indeed, Republicans may escape catastrophe this year because of what I have called the Henny Youngman Syndrome. The old standup comic often began his routine by being asked, "How's your wife?" Henny replied: "Compared to what?" Republicans seek votes by tacitly urging citizens to forget their faults because the Democrats are much worse. In that sense, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, and Teddy Kennedy could be the most valuable players of 2006 for the GOP.
Indeed.

P.S. "Congersman" is a Walt Kelly thing. You wouldn't understand.

Tank You Very Much!

Where's Your Brain? does the math:
The Federal government gets 18.4 cents for every gallon you buy. So if your 8 cylinder SUV takes 20 gallons you just gave your Uncle Sam $3.68. Oh - I forgot to add in that state tax on your gallons. If you live in Oregon, you're paying an additional 24.4 cents - even more depending on the county you live in. Based on the base state tax rate plus the cut for the Feds, here are a few examples of what some states rape you for (Fed. + State) when you buy 20 gallons:
  • Oregon: ($3.68 + $4.88) = $8.56
  • Illinois: ($3.68 + $3.80) = $7.48
  • New York: ($3.68 + $6.38) = $10.06
  • California: (($3.68 + $3.60) = $7.28
WYB blogs from Eugene, Oregon

Robo-Back Ride

Boost up the stairs, granny?
A two-legged robot being developed by Japanese scientists could one day carry the elderly and handicapped up stairs or inclines.

Standing 1.28 metres (4 ft), the robot is essentially a seat that walks on two mechanical legs. A person hops on the seat and controls its movements using two joysticks.

Dialogue Won't Cut It

James Lileks on JWR:
Surely a country that spells "Centre" in the English fashion can be reasoned with. Granted, Abbasi has said that "Britain's demise is on our agenda," but it's a cry for respect, really. When a country announces it has 40,000 suicide bombers, and its president announces that Israel is "a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm" and pledges the destruction of America, it's a sign we have to sit down and ask: What's on your mind, really?
Illustration by Cox & Forkum.

Breaking The Habit

Pete du Pont has a three step plan:
First, the president ... must use his rescission authority...

Second... he should veto those spending bills....

Third, the president needs line-item veto authority.
Well first, not in an election year, second, not this guy, and third, dream on.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Slimy Character

Grants Pass, Oregon
Two rare salamanders that live in rocky patches within old growth forests along the Klamath River don"'t need Endangered Species Act protection because existing state and federal protections are adequate to maintain their habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday....

"This denial comes from an administration that"'s provided protection to the fewest number of wildlife species of any administration since the Endangered Species Act was passed," Greenwald said. "We"'re going to sue."
Again, and again, and again.

Simple, Survivable, Affordable

Transformational Space Corporation's working on it:
The t/Space Earth-to-orbit systems consists of three major parts: a crew transfer vehicle; a two-stage LOX-propane launch vehicle; and a launch aircraft.

Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites will build the structure of the CXV, and t/Space and other contractors will integrate the capsule with avionics, life support, on-orbit propulsion and other systems.

Located In The Ghetto

Lacey's having a little trouble with the real estate market:
The other house, my new love, is located in a good part of town, but in order for me to have it, I'd have to sell my firstborn child. And you know, that would be ok with me, but Jasper's not going for it. Actually, it costs $255,000, which is a LITTLE out of our price range at this point in time. I cry.

Roseburg just beats me. I only love houses from the turn of the century, and this town seems to have its fair share. But 95% of those homes are located in the ghetto and smell like pee....
Tear out the carpets and hose 'er down with Lysol, Lacey.

They Let The Old Man Go

Jury for Lodi terror case deadlocked.
SACRAMENTO -- Jurors deliberating the federal terrorism case against 48-year-old Lodi ice cream truck driver Umer Hayat sent the judge a note at 10 a.m. saying they were "decisively deadlocked."
The jury's still out on the terror camper himself, Hamid Hayat.

Update: He's guilty.

Four Dead in Opium Wars

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan
A U.S.-leased plane carrying counter-narcotics officials crashed into a nomad settlement while trying to avoid a truck on a runway during landing, killing two people aboard and two young girls on the ground, authorities and relatives said.

At least 13 people were reported injured in the accident Monday, including some Americans.

The Russian-made, twin-engine An-32 aircraft was landing at Bost airport in Lashkar Gah, capital of the southern province of Helmand, but overran the airstrip after trying to lift over a truck that drove across the runway, a Canadian military spokesman, Maj. Quentin Innis, said.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

In case you forgot. Warning: not for those of delicate sensibilities.

Professor Reynolds spotted it first.

LASIK@Home

Tim's wife is going in for LASIK surgery this afternoon.

"Tim," I said, "I'm surprised you didn't consider this."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Offer The Man A Chair

Paul Chesser at The American Spectator read the transcripts.
Spencer: "You wake up every day to destroy the United States, don't you?"
Moussaoui: "To the best of my ability."

Spencer: "It was your choice to accept a suicide mission from Osama bin Laden."
Moussaoui: "It was my pleasure."

Spencer: "You would do it again tomorrow if you could, wouldn't you?"
Moussaoui: "Today."
Chesser suggests we will allow him a short time on death row to "come to Jesus" and then "strap him in the chair, and off to hell he goes."

Orientation and Thought Reform

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has published a Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus. At $3.95 from Amazon, it just jumped into my cart.

747% Post-Consumer Waste

The FAA's not thrilled because from the air it looks like a wreck.
Her architect had an idea: Buy a junked 747 and cut it apart. Turn the wings into a roof, the nose into a meditation temple. Use the remaining scrap to build six more buildings, including a barn for rare animals. He made a sketch.

"When I showed it to her in the office, she just started screaming," recalls the architect, David Hertz of Santa Monica. Ms. Rehwald, whose passions include yoga, organic gardening, meditation, folk art and the Cuban cocktails called mojitos, loved the adventurousness of the design, the feminine shapes and especially the environmental aspect.

"It's 100% post-consumer waste," she says. "Isn't that the coolest?"
Greg spotted it first.

Crimson Faced

A 19-year old author with a $500,000 book contract face charges of plagiarism. The Harvard Crimson makes the case. Whatever happens next won't be pretty.

Update: The Harvard Independend did a little dumpster diving and found this blog comment from a former TF:
"I was surprised to learn she had written a book, as her writing was awful...I feel bad for her.... Plagiarizing from chick lit has to be some kind of double whammy against artistic integrity."

Passport in Hand

I have a beautiful daughter.

Here she waits, passport in hand, suitcase packed. In June she will travel to Mexico to build houses for the paisanos. In July she will go to Japan to stay with Yukari, who stayed with us two years ago.

I've never been to Mexico or Japan. Sometimes you have to live through your children.

Horrified

Mark Steyn:
Do you remember that anthrax business just after September 11th? At the height of the scare, Tom Daschle came out and announced that 34 of his staffers had tested positive for anthrax. I was horrified: Tom Daschle has 34 staffers?
In this week's National Review.

It All Seems Rather Hopeless

Ian Shoales is hyperventilating.
Get Zac to where you once belonged
One sentence runs to 212 words. Classic.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Probably Not

You could justify buying this week's Economist just for the cover. "Taking on Bush: Can the Democrats get their act together?"

Roberts for Supreme Court

As a charter member of the lunatic fringe, not registered with either of the major parties, I generally have no interest in the Primary Election. This year the Republicans choose one from eight to challenge Governor K.; the Democrats choose from four to challenge Walden. I stifle a yawn.

But in the category of "Nonpartisan Candidates" (an oxymoronic fiction; don't lie to me) we have something unusual this year: A contested race for the Oregon Supreme Court.

Judges matter because in a constitutional republic the third branch checks and balances the other two. When the legislature ignores our rights, and the executive looks the other way, we have no choice but to fight them in the courts. Case in point: On February 21st this year the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Measure 37. Most of us didn't expect that. We have little reason to expect it again, either.

The Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits candidates from identifying themselves as a member of a particular political party, or from taking sides on any issue. This frustrates the voter who must decide between them.

Fortunately in the Supreme Court race we have a pretty clear choice. Virginia Linder, the establishment liberal, has the endorsement of nearly every newspaper in the state. That rules her out as far as I'm concerned. Eugene Hallman runs to her left and Jack Roberts to her right.

Hallman has the endorsement of the Multnomah County Democrats. Blogger David Gulliver calls him "the most dangerous man in Oregon" He's not sold on Linder either. On the other hand Blue Oregon (guess which side they're on) doesn't like Roberts at all and prefers Hallman to Linder.

And if you wonder what Jack Roberts thinks just do a Google search. He posts frequent comments to both Blue Oregon and Jack Bog's Blog.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Mystic, Connecticut:
A five-member team from the Rhode Island Paranormal Research group visited Mystic Seaport on Friday night to spend time on the Charles W. Morgan, a wooden whaling ship where several visitors have reported seeing the apparition....

The visitors said that while touring the ship last summer, they saw a man in what appeared to be 19th-century clothing working below deck. They said the man, who had a pipe in his mouth, nodded at them but did not speak.

When they went returned to the main deck and asked a museum interpreter what the man was doing, they were told that no one was down below and that no one was assigned to be on the boat that day.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles:
TV seance claims to have reached John Lennon

Inconvenient Truth

Do you worry? You look like you do. Worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an advanced society demonstrates his virtue: He feels good by feeling bad.
Liberals should worry about Mark Steyn.

Advice For The Decider

After a week of bad advice from seemingly everyone else, some good advice for the President from The Wall Street Journal:
...no president who thinks much of his role as commander in chief will throw the top Pentagon civilian overboard to please officers of any kind. If he did, he would establish the precedent that secretaries of defense serve at the pleasure of their subordinates, overturn the most fundamental feature of civilian control of the military, and neuter his own effectiveness in the conduct of national defense.
If this were Clinton, Dick Morris and Fred Barnes would have already decided it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Master of Ceremonies

Ira Einhorn, founder of Earth Day--or not. History has a way of getting written and re-written until it's acceptable to all; truth is a secondary consideration. In 1981 police found the corpse of Einhorn's girlfriend stuffed in a trunk next to his bed. He fled the country. Sixteen years later he turned up in France. On October 17, 2002, Einhorn was found guilty of murder. In 1998 members of the original Earth Week Committee wrote a letter denying that Einhorn had anything to do with organizing the first Earth Day.

Judge for yourself.

Bar Fighters vs. Terrorists

Longshoreman Steve Stallone draws some fine distinctions:
"Just because a guy got into a bar fight does not make him a terrorist," said Stallone, whose union represents nearly 14,000 West Coast longshoremen and clerks. "Terrorist acts are one thing. But that you beat up your next-door neighbor? I don''t think so."
Actually, these are just the kind of guys I want hanging around when some little pencil-necked milk drinker named Mohammed shows up.

Happy Arf Day!

Some of us are more inclined to celebrate Industrial Revolution Day. Consider, for instance, the environmental improvement brought by the invention of the automobile:
In New York city in 1900, according to ""The Car Culture"?, a 1975 book by James Flink, a historian, horses deposited 2.5m pounds of manure and 60,000 gallons of urine every day. Every year, the city authorities had to remove an average of 15,000 dead horses from the streets. It made cars smell of roses.
The Economist, September 9th, 1999.

Cardboard Thin Passengers

Michael Storch analyzes airplane boarding times using a mathematical model called a Lorentzian metric:
The discrepancy between the infinite and finite population calculations is closely related to the Tracy-Widom distributions for GUE and GOE when passengers are very thin.... When passengers become a bit thicker there is another transition in which previously good airline policies become bad and vice versa. As it turns out, airline policies are implicitly designed for cardboard thin passengers while actual passengers are on the other side of the phase transition.
Thanks to Improbable Research.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Radical Son

Greg loaned me his copy of Radical Son, a book I meant to read eight years ago.
The rhetoric was heated, but by the time I reentered the political battle, I had made a decision to speak in the voice of the New Left--outraged, aggressive, morally certain. I would frame indictments as we had framed them, but from the other side. I wanted equity for those who had defended democracy against the Communist threat. I wanted justice for the victims of our crusades. I wanted my former comrades to be put on the receiving end of accusations like those they had made against everyone else. I wanted them to see how it felt. Evidently, it did not feel good. When I reached the point in my speech where I said "It is no accident the greatest atrocities of the Twentieth Century have been committed by Marxist radicals in power," my words were shouted down and the microphone was cut off.
David Horowitz, "red diaper baby" and charter member of the New Left.

Next up: Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts about the Sixties

Moving a World of Data

Richard Collins and Peter Garrison write almost half the copy in Flying magazine. If they ever leave, the magazine will fold.

I left the May issue open to Garrison's column on my desk this morning as I started to work. Some time later I glanced at the ad on the facing page. "Pilot Confidence. Individualized pilot training." A man stood next to a business jet. The name caught my eye:
Mark Frajola
Just received his "No Limitation" CE-500 type rating and his pilot confidence on February 11th, 2006.
I worked with Marc at IBM back in 1999 when we both belonged to the Hillsboro Flying Club. He mostly flew the C152 then. I dug out his email address and sent him a note of congratulation.

The email immediately bounced back.
The message you sent (attached below) requires confirmation before it can be delivered. To confirm that you sent the message below, just hit the "R"eply button and send this message back (you don't need to edit anything). Once this is done, no more confirmations will be necessary. This is an anti-SPAM prevention measure.
Cool. A new way to thwart spam: Active Spam Killer. Of course, you have to own the mail server if you want to install it.

I replied and Marc and I exchanged a few more emails. He used to build high-end UNIX servers. Now he mostly just manages them. If you need a server that can withstand an Instalanche, you can't do better than Marc's.

Screaming Eagle Angels

While National Guardsman Aric Catron was working a checkpoint in Iraq a little girl ran up and threw her arms around him.
Our translator quickly explained that he, the father, had been locked in a prison for most of the child's life. He had been sentenced to death for being a Shiite dissident traitor.The man went on to say that soldiers wearing the same patch on the shoulder as I was (the 101st Airborne Division) had freed him shortly after we began the liberation of Iraq. His daughter from then on believed that the famous Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st meant that we were angels sent to protect her family.
Seattle PI via Instapundit

Made Me Feel Sick

Moussaoui's Mother:
It was atrocious. Horrible. I had to look away. I plugged my ears and closed my eyes. I felt faint. Eventually, I left the courtroom. I felt terrible for the families of victims, people who had lost their loved ones in the attacks. What must they have felt?! I even felt bad for anyone else in America who'd be shocked. It made me feel sick for them....
Time via Drudge

First Look For The Letter 'N'

"On April 13, 2006, a message posted in Arabic on an Internet forum explained how to identify private American jets and urged Muslims to destroy all such aircraft," the TSA said in an advisory issued on Thursday and obtained by Reuters on Friday.
Reuters via Drudge.

Truth Revealed at Tuskegee U

Maybe Al Gore invented the Internet, but the iPod is Bush's fault.

By way of the BureauCrash. (Full text here.)

Fred and Barney Smoked Winstons

I have to get one of the kids to show me* how to watch this.
The Fintstones Winston Commercial
Also by way of BureauCrash, as was the previous post.

*Takes something called "Flash" which I refuse to install: I like the Internet to shut up and sit still while I read it.

Good Fences

A recipe for do-it-yourselfers:
Start with a 6-foot deep trench so a vehicle can't crash through; behind it, roll of concertina (coiled, razor-edged barbed wire), in front of a 15-foot high heavy-gauge steel mesh fence angled outward at the top.

Behind the fence will be a 60- to 70-foot wide unpaved but graded dirt road, along with inexpensive, mounted video cameras that can be monitored from home computers. On the other side of the road will be a second, 15-foot fence, with more concertina wire on its outside.
They figure it will cost between $125 and $150 a foot.

Let's see. $660K a mile, 1951 miles...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Crossfield In Fatal Crash

Aviation Legend Scott Crossfield In Fatal Crash
Crossfield, a former test pilot and the first person to fly at both Mach 2 and Mach 3, took off from Prattville, Alabama, around 9 a.m. Wednesday en route to Manassas, Virginia. Atlanta ATC reportedly lost contact with Crossfield near Ludville, Georgia late Wednesday morning, and Civil Air Patrol searchers and others discovered the wreckage of the plane early Thursday afternoon near Ranger, Georgia, about 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.
In the EAA News.

Three Intellectual Giants

In the mail today, the Institute for Justice newsletter:
The wisdom of the Founding Fathers lies at the heart of IJ's work. However, the insights of three intellectual giants of the 20th century—Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand—provide constant inspiration as well. What makes them so relevant to IJ is that we regularly see their predictions and observations about bureaucracy and government play out in the real world in the cases we take on.
Friedman in this issue; Hayek and Rand to follow.

It's not quite fair to call Milton Friedman "of the 20th century." He's still going strong in the 21st.

Economist on The New Media

The Economist's survey (subscribers only; sorry) this week is on the new media:
...nobody knows whether the era of participatory media will, on balance, be good or bad. As with most revolutions, it is a question of emphasis. Generally speaking, people who have faith in democracy welcome participatory media, whereas people who have reservations will be nostalgic for the top-down certainties of the mass media. Joseph de Maistre, a conservative who lived through the French Revolution, famously said that ""every country has the government it deserves."? In the coming era, more than ever before, every society will get the media it deserves.
More when I actually have time to read it.

Goin' Up The Country

Census: Americans Are Fleeing Big Cities
Among the 25 largest metropolitan areas, 18 had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - the three biggest metropolitan areas - lost the most residents to domestic moves. The New York metropolitan area had a net loss of more than 210,000 residents a year from 2000 to 2004.
Later this morning, from Gold Hill, Oregon, I have a conference call with the people I work with in Livermore, California, and their customer in Springfield, Missouri. The guy who actually writes my checks, in Walnut Grove, I've never met. Remind me again why we need cities?

Thanks to Drudge who spotted it first.

Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport

Walterville wallaby walks:
The Theuses left Xander, a 45-pound, 16-month-old wallaby, alone in his pen on Thursday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. That's the day they drove to Redmond to buy their second wallaby, 3-week-old Willow, who never got to meet her new brother.

The couple is offering a $1,000 reward if anyone finds Xander and brings him home.
Update: Greg had to send me the title song. Bet you didn't know that Rolf Harris also did a cover of Stairway to Heaven.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Right to Transfer

Law professor James L. Huffman blasts The Oregonian:
The Oregonian's editorial board did not like Measure 37 when it was on the ballot, predicted disaster when it was approved, cheered when it was invalidated, expressed opposition as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on its constitutionality and now claims that voters were hoodwinked by the "new kings in the development game."

Consider the substance of The Oregonian's latest editorial lament on this popular initiative. Measure 37 has encountered a "snag" that The Oregonian clearly hopes will limit its impact. That snag is the state's decree that rights conferred by the new law are not transferable.

But a state decree does not make it so. Indeed, the state has barely a leg to stand on...
The voters have spoken, twice, but the State and its "Friends" refuse to listen.

Oregon Nanoscience

A tiny chemical reactor developed by the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute can turn vegetable oil into biodiesel.
The device--about the size of a credit card--pumps vegetable oil and alcohol through tiny parallel channels, each smaller than a human hair, to convert the oil into biodiesel almost instantly.

By comparison, it takes more than a day to produce biodiesel with current technology.
More in the ONAMI newsletter.

Skyhawk Down on Vancouver Island

Aero-News Network:
The bodies of two men aboard a Cessna 172 that went down on Vancouver Island, British Columbia in reported IFR conditions Saturday were found by a rescue party early Sunday morning, after rescuers were delayed in arriving at the scene due to low clouds, wind and swirling snow that enveloped the accident site.

The Victoria Times-Colonist reports the aircraft, a 1961 Cessna 172B (file photo of type, below) owned by a Port Alberni flying club, was not equipped for IFR flight -- and locals say the weather on April 15 was not ideal for visual flying.

"I certainly wouldn't have flown yesterday, it looked pretty bad," said George Pohl, manager of the Sechelt Airport where the flight departed at 2 pm Saturday en route to Port Alberni. "Most of the local pilots weren't flying."

Don't Bomb Iran--Yet

Greg sends a lengthy paper by Edward N. Lutwak entitled Three Reasons Not to Bomb Iran--Yet. I'll just pick out a few points here.

When the time comes it won't be difficult:
...the targets would not be buildings as such but rather processes, and, given the aiming information now available, they could indeed be interrupted in lasting ways by a single night of bombing.
Oddly enough, Iran needs us:
Only the strategic reach of the distant United States can secure Iran from the power of the Russians nearby—a power not in abeyance even now, as the recent nuclear diplomacy shows, and much more likely to revive in the future than to decline.
The people loathe the regime:
Under the Shah, corruption in government contracting notoriously added some 15 percent to the cost of everything that was bought, from fertilizers for the ministry of agriculture to helicopters. Now the graft is more like 30 percent; the family and cronies of the Shah, it turns out, were paragons of self-restraint as compared with the clerics....

Nor is that all. Because of its ideology, as well as the imperatives of retaining power against the popular will, the regime is in permanent collision with the culture, or rather the cultures, of Iran.

Almost half of the country's population is not Persian...
By analogy with the collapse of Communism:
In each of these cases, even after all the depredations, massacres, destructions, and claimed transformations of decades of Communist rule, local cultures and historic identities reemerged largely intact and essentially unchanged...

It will be just the same in Iran when the fanatics who now oppress the non-fanatical majority lose power, as they inevitably will in time.... one can reasonably expect the United States to return to the scene as Iran's natural ally.
We still have time:
...in spite of all the industrial assistance it received, it is not clear that the Iranian nuclear organization can manufacture centrifuge cascades of sufficient magnitude, efficiency, and reliability....

Organization is indeed Iran's weakest point, with weighty consequences: after a century of oil drilling, for example, the state oil company still cannot drill exploratory wells without foreign assistance.
Luttwak concludes:
There is thus no indication that the regime will fall before it acquires nuclear weapons. Yet, because there is still time, it is not irresponsible to hope that it will.
Read it in its entirety.

10 Most Harmful Government Programs

Human Events has a list.
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Income Tax Withholding
  • McCain-Feingold
  • Contraceptive Funding
  • Farm Subsidies
  • Medicaid
  • Affirmative Action
  • Earmarking
  • Davis-Bacon Act
Worth nailing on someone's door.

Update: Local blogger TuCents has a slightly different list.

New Definition of Open Source

Douglas J. Naquin runs the CIA's new Open Source Center which, among other things, sifts blogs for tidbits.
"I can't get into detail of what, but I'll just say the amount of open source reporting that goes into the president's daily brief has gone up rather significantly," Mr. Jardines said. "There has been a real interest at the highest levels of our government, and we've been able to consistently deliver products that are on par with the rest of the intelligence community."
Don't bother looking for intelligence on this site.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Where Do You See Yourself...

...in five years?

It's a standard interview question. I have a new answer.

Electron Detection Spectrometers

Thirty-year-old Carl Steinke manages the Surface Analysis Lab at RBD Enterprises.
"Lots of labs do material analysis," Steinke said. "We're one of the few that can measure specifically what atoms are present on the extreme surface levels, which is very important to tech manufacturers. Basically, people send material samples in and we solve their problems."
In Bend.

Jack London's Quake Journey

Jack London roamed San Francisco taking pictures.
I passed Wednesday night in the path of the advancing flames, and in all those terrible hours I saw not one woman who wept, not one man who was excited, not one person who was in the slightest degree panic stricken".... Before the flames, throughout the night, fled tens of thousands of homeless ones.
From the BBC by way of Wikipedia.

The Great Quake: 1906-2006

The San Francisco Chronicle has lots more.

Hypothesis Two

Psephologist Michael Barone explains why the Democrats won't Win Control of the House in November:
In the five House elections from 1996 to 2004, there has been very little variation in the popular vote percentages for both parties. The Republican percentage of the popular vote for the House has fluctuated between 49 and 51 percent, the Democratic percentage between 46 and 48.5 percent.

This has been true despite great differences in the job ratings of the parties' leading figures....

Japanese Respose to the SF Earthquake

During the winter of 1985 I spent hours in the Southern Oregon State College library feeding rolls of microfilm into the antiquated viewers and poring over the San Francisco Chronicle of 1906. My research topic spanned about three months during the fall of that year, rarely front page news, and the clippings I sought were often small articles in the back pages. In December President Roosevelt delivered a speech. If I may quote from my own paper:
The Chronicle printed the text of Roosevelt's speech in its entirety. Typically verbose, it covered most of two pages in very fine print. Midway through the second page Roosevelt turned to the Japanese question. He began with generalities:
.... Not only must we treat all nations fairly, but we must treat with justice and good will all immigrants who come here under the law. Whether they are Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Gentile, whether they come from England or Germany, Russia, Japan or Italy, matters nothing. All we have a right to question is the man's conduct.... It is the sure mark of a low civilization, a low morality, to abuse or discriminate against or in any way humiliate such stranger who has come here lawfully and who is conducting himself properly....(D 5 p.13).

"The friendship between the United States and Japan has been continuous since the time... [of] Commodore Perry... ," he went on. He praised the Japanese generosity to the earthquake relief effort: "Through the Red Cross the Japanese people sent over $100,000 to the sufferers of San Francisco [The actual total was nearer to 250,000, more than any other single nation.]..."

"The Japanese have won in a single generation," Roosevelt said, "the right to stand abreast of the foremost and most enlightened peoples of Europe and America...." And he concluded, "To shut them out from the public schools is a wicked absurdity" (D 5 p. 13).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Cheers

Well it's over. I dropped off the taxes at the post office this evening.

I'd like to share the numbers with you but first I'm going to convert it into my beverage of choice at an unspecified exchange rate so the beer drinkers don't get too jealous and the martini crowd don't feel too uppity.

Last year my wife and I between us earned about 15,586 drinks. But because I was self-employed I had to buy 4,581 drinks for other people just to keep the business going. That left us about 11,005 drinks. Oh, and I was unemployed for six weeks during which time the State bought me 324 drinks. Figure 11,330 drinks total.

Out of that Jackson cadged 342 drinks, mostly for the school teachers. Thirsty lot. Ted the K, a hard-drinking ex-labor lawyer, hit me up for 611 drinks. My indigent Uncle Sam (an incurable alcoholic) went through 1,915 drinks. 1,359 of those he bought for the old folks. Nice of him. Did you get one, Dad? (Mom doesn't drink.) With the 556 he had left he bought a round for the House, one for the Senate, and a couple of six packs for the boys in Iraq.

As far as I'm concerned, they're the ones who really deserve it.

More TSA Idiocy

From Aero-News Network:
The Transportation Security Administration bagged a terrorist in Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday, or so they thought. Daniel Brown's name came up on their no-fly watchlist, so they dragged him into interrogation and grilled him, despite the protestations of Brown and his fellow travelers, who swore they could vouch for him.

...the detained man was Staff Sergeant Daniel Brown, USMC Reserve, and he was traveling with the other members of his Marine Reserve Military Police unit, which was heading home to Minnesota from eight months of combat in Iraq. The Marines were in full uniform and all, including Brown, had travel orders and military identification cards.
Thanks to Kathryn Jean Lopez in The Corner.

Bigger Than T. Rex

Renowned dinosaur hunter Rodolfo Coria, professor at the Carmen Funes Museum in Plaza Huincul, Argentina, found the fossils in the foothills of the Andes mountains.

... While more than matching T. rex for size, Mapusaurus appears to have been a sleeker, more agile predator, with teeth designed for slicing flesh rather than crushing bones.

Coria says the new dinosaur's skull is longer than T. rex's.

"The lower jaw is also more delicate in Mapusaurus, and its teeth are thinner and sharper—they are just like knives," he added.
No doubt their extinction was a crushing blow to our nascent planet's biodiversity.

But Will We Miss Them?

"The bypass, which will involve the removal of 45ha of native vegetation, is likely to cause the localised extinction of the long-nosed potoroo, wallum froglet, wallum sedge frog and common planigale (a marsupial mouse)," Ms Thompson said.
So she says.

Global Storm Warning

Arnaud de Borchgrave, an excitable guy who used to appear on The McLaughlin Group, issues a Global storm warning.

Drudge spotted it first.

Call Them Jihadists

Jonathan Rauch in National Journal:
Habeck cites one other reason to call the enemy jihadists: "This is what they call themselves." The word "jihad," scholars say, is theologically multifaceted, with nonviolent and defensive aspects. But when Umm Nidal, a Palestinian legislator, says, "A Muslim mother should raise her children on prayer, good deeds, and, of course, on jihad," she is not talking about spiritual struggle or peaceful protest. Ceding the word "jihad" to violent Islamic imperialists may be a pity, but they are the ones who chose it.
Thanks to The Dynamist for spotting this.

Carrel's War Diaries

Leslie's Uncle Carrel has published his war diaries. The Columbian of Vancouver, Washington interviewed him but the article has disappeared from their archives. Google fortunately has it in cache, at least for now.

Shoot for the Moon!

James Lileks is at his best when he's not entirely coherent.
In another baseless act of unjustified aggression, the United States has announced plans to launch an attack on the moon.

NASA says it will crash a rocket into innocent Luna in 2009, looking for water. It will hit the poor rock so hard that we will see the explosion here on Earth. Good Lord, why not put Pennzoil stickers on the rocket for that NASCAR touch, and launch the strike when the moon's in a crescent phase so we can infuriate the Muslim world?

... If you're not spending sleepless nights worrying whether the batteries on our Martian rovers may leak and contaminate the water we think we found, you're just not paying attention.

Choco Bunny Blues

(Lifted from The Doc Is In, Grants Pass)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Great Uninsured

Florence King returns to the pages of National Review (subscribers only):
The honeymoon was over but the honeymoon mindset remained. ""It worked fine at first,"? people said, reminiscing about HalcyonCare while filling out their stack of forms in the doctor's waiting room. Of course it did. Everything works fine at first — credit cards, public schools, feminism — because human nature has not been kicking in long enough. The trouble starts when we try to make a basically good idea work for everybody, everywhere, all the time, until the good idea crumbles under the weight put on it and becomes a bad idea.
The April 24th issue. Buy it on the newsstands.

Going Nuclear

Patrick Moore, a founder of the loathsome Greenpeace, recants, at least a little:
Today, there are 103 nuclear reactors quietly delivering just 20 percent of America's electricity. Eighty percent of the people living within 10 miles of these plants approve of them (that's not including the nuclear workers). Although I don't live near a nuclear plant, I am now squarely in their camp.
I argued for nucler power in my freshman speech class twenty-three years ago. Ahead of my time? I don't think so: Moore's behind his.

Thanks to Hit & Run for spotting this.

From Jesus to Christ

Jon Meacham in Newsweek:
As the sun set on the Friday of the execution, Jesus appeared to be a failure, his promises about the Kingdom of God little more than provocative but powerless rhetoric. No matter what Jesus may have said about sacrifice and resurrection during his lifetime, the disciples clearly did not expect Jesus to rise again. The women at the tomb were stunned; confronted with the risen Lord, Thomas initially refused to believe his eyes; and at the end of Matthew's Gospel, some disciples still "doubted."

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Tired of the rain? A little sunshine is on the way.

Vintage Harmony

The Umpqua Timbermen Barbershop Chorus will host the singing extravaganza "Something About Girls" April 22 at Umpqua Community College Jacoby Auditorium, Winchester.

The 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows will feature the Roseburg Chorus, the Vintage Harmony Quartet, and three guest quartets: After Five of Eugene, Delusions of Grandeur of Medford, and South Coast Harmony of Coos Bay.

Tickets are $10, available at the college, Harvard Avenue Drugs, Sutherlin Drugs, Hanson Jewelers in Myrtle Creek and Roseburg, and from chorus members.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Few Seasonal Quotes

"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
—Frederic Bastiat

"What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue."
—Thomas Paine

"The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward."
—John Maynard Keynes

"I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money."
—Arthur Godfrey

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
—Albert Einstein

"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
—Will Rogers

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss."
—Robert Heinlein

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
—Ronald Reagan

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin."
—Mark Twain

"A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money."
—G. Gordon Liddy

Obligatory Cat Blogging

This window belongs to Tim.

We built it for him.

While it's raining outside, he prefers to keep an eye on the birds from here.

River Hawks

Via The Lackadaisical Procrastinator, some hometown news:
WINCHESTER Umpqua Community College announced its new mascot today, deciding on 'River Hawks' to replace the gender-specific 'Timbermen' and 'Timberwomen' nicknames...
My alma mater.

Actually, I kind of like the sound of 'River Hawks'. 'Timbermen' always sounded to me a little like 'Lumberjack', a word nobody used where I grew up. We always referred to them as 'Loggers'.

A Little History

Via Lucianne.com, an article in The American Thinker:
The Hidden History of the Iraq War Critics
War critics either downplay, skim over, or completely ignore this historical context. The prior administration's beliefs and policies towards Iraq were consistent with the threat assessment motivating our war with Saddam. They would have you think that it all began with Bush, who was driven to war by neocon zealots who hijacked US foreign policy.

They do not tell you, for obvious reasons, that the Clinton administration in November 1997 launched a public campaign to build support for a possible war against Iraq. The do not mention that on October 31, 1998, President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act...

Quote Of The Day

See, I was going for the lucrative 13-21-year-old market, and I realized that kids don't read comics anymore. Books might as well be clay tablets... TVs are for old people... computers are for nerds... radio is for angry radicals... I'm really left with two mediums: iPods and sticky notes.
--Bucky Katt

What He Said

Can you write a 400-word editorial calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Defense based on a three paragraph statement of support from the President? Sure you can. Here's what the President actually said:
Earlier today I spoke with Don Rumsfeld about ongoing military operations in the Global War on Terror. I reiterated my strong support for his leadership during this historic and challenging time for our Nation.

The Department of Defense has been tasked with many difficult missions. Upon assuming office, I asked Don to transform the largest department in our government. That kind of change is hard, but our Nation must have a military that is fully prepared to confront the dangerous threats of the 21st Century. Don and our military commanders have also been tasked to take the fight to the enemy abroad on multiple fronts.

I have seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions. Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation.
They both have my support.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Steve Jobs Thinks Different

This one showed up on the coffee table. Borrowed from the local library by one of the kids, I guess. Catalog it under biography-juvenile literature if you like. But read it anyway. Here, in 70 pages of well-crafted prose, illustrated with black-and-white photos, we have the story of the man and his computers, and the technical revolution that changed the world.

Steve Jobs: Thinks Different by Ann Brashares. 2001.

Also by Ms. Brashares: Linus Torvalds: Software Rebel.

Since then, she's apparently had some success with a few other books.

Awful System Getting Worse

The Economist says that under George Bush, America's awful tax system has got even worse:
The tax code's complexity is notorious. Overall, Americans spend around 3.5 billion hours doing their taxes, an average of about 26 hours per household. Around $140 billion is spent on tax preparation and compliance every year, according to Joel Slemrod of the University of Michigan, as desperate households seek professional help. Tax rules were horribly complicated, of course, long before the Bush presidency, but during the past five years things have got much worse. The number of pages of federal tax regulations has risen by over 40%, from 46,900 in 2000 to 66,498 this year, according to Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute. The number of different tax forms issued by the Internal Revenue Service has soared from 475 in 2000 to 582.
This year I fill out Federal Forms 1040 and 8829, Schedules A, C, and SE, Oregon 40 and 10, and California Form 540NR and Schedules CA and S. I do it all my self as a matter of principle: if a software engineer with a degree in history, a minor in math, and an IQ two to three standard deviations above the mean can't do his own taxes, then by golly he's not going to pay them.

Undocumented Coyotes

Winslow's been hiring undocumented coyotes.

Classic Movies for Kids

Daniel Akst in Opinion Journal has a list of classic movies for kids.

Edison Rotates In Poorly-Lit Grave

By way of my old friend The Lackidiasical Procratinator, news on OLEDs:
The American team's breakthrough was to make OLEDs able to emit the daylight-style white light needed in homes and offices. Previous efforts had had struggled to get the full spectrum of wavelengths required....

The problem was with the blue phosphorescent layer, which wasn't as efficient as the other two and short-lived. Thompson's team switched the blue layer's phosphorescent chemical for a fluorescent one.
And not just for computer monitors. "The prospect," the article says, "is of whole surfaces like walls, windows, or even curtains flooding rooms with brilliant white light"

Lama Sabach Thani

John Steinbeck, 1961:
"I didn't mean that. I didn't mean it. Honest to God I didn't, Joey. I just had a couple of shocks today and besides--this is a dreadful holiday--dreadful."

Morphy paused. "How do you mean? Oh! yes, I know. Yes, I do know. You believe I know?"

"And every year, ever since I was a kid, only it gets worse because--maybe because I know more what it means, I hear those lonely 'lama sabach thani' words."

"I do know, Ethan, I do. It's nearly over--nearly over now, Ethan. Just forget I stomped out, will you?"

And the iron firebell clanged--one single stroke.

"It's over now," said Joey-boy. "It's all over--for a year."
The Winter of Our Discontent opens on Good Friday in the third person, as if the narrator stands outside himself, observing. In Chapter Three he shifts to the first person:
Good Friday has always troubled me. Even as a child I was deep taken with sorrow, not at the agony of the crucifixion, but feeling the blighting loneliness of the Crucified. And I have never lost the sorrow, planted by Mathew, and read to me in the clipped, tight speech of my New England Great-Aunt Deborah.
I've read half a dozen novels by Steinbeck including Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, and The Grapes of Wrath. This is his best: a deeply troubling book, more relevant now than ever.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Weathercocking Aeroplanes

To become a pilot you must, according to the FAA, "be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language." They don't say which English. Here's the New Zealand dialect:
The gust probably exceeded the aeroplane crosswind limit and prevented the captain correcting the weathercock.
Say again?

We Could Blow It Up

Lileks is grilling steaks:
Stood over the steaks while I listened to an old air force general discuss military options about Iraq. I'm somewhat frustrated by people who say we can't do everything, and therefore should do nothing. For heaven's sake, we are the UNITED STATES. We're going to BOMB THE MOON in 2009. But we can't build a fence to prevent immigration, eh? We could build a fence on the moon. And then we could blow it up. If we wanted.

""Why are you yelling at the steaks?"? my wife asks from inside.

""Nothing, honey. Just thinking out loud."?

Bats In Our Belfry

Actually, under the eaves. We put up a scrap of temporary sheathing two years ago when we installed Lizzy's window and never nailed down the outer edge. It bowed out about three inches, forming a perfect bat box. I knew they were there because I could smell them.

Well they had to go. I need to finish painting the eaves and hanging the knees. But I didn't want to hurt the little guys. So I took the skillsaw and ripped not quite through the sheathing. Then, while Marielle stood by with a camera, I pried it back.

There were a dozen of them, trembling and blinking in the bright sun. This guy here did his best to show his teeth and frighten me, but he couldn't work up the nerve to fly away. The rest are flitting here and there, trying to decide how to handle their eviction. I expect they'll find new lodgings tonight.

Update: Can we just hang out here 'till dark? Please?

One last update: Depilitated bats from Improbable Research.

Not Just The Republicans' War

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. in The American Spectator:
During World War II the Times science writer, William Laurence, got word of our progress on developing an atomic bomb. He was warned by the Manhattan Project's General Leslie Groves not to publish his knowledge. Legend has it that Groves told Laurence he knew too much already and "I shall have to hire you or kill you." With the agreement of Times editors Laurence disappeared into the Manhattan Project, reappearing on the bomber that leveled Nagasaki. After that he wrote a series of articles on the development of the bomb for his newspaper and won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize.

T. Coleman Andrews

I don't like the income tax. Every time we talk about these taxes we get around to the idea of 'from each according to his capacity and to each according to his needs'. That's socialism. It's written into the Communist Manifesto. Maybe we ought to see that every person who gets a tax return receives a copy of the Communist Manifesto with it so he can see what's happening to him.
According to Wikipedia, Andrews ran for President in 1956 and got 107,929 votes.

Easter Music

Charles Jennens, an editor of Shakespeare, came to the out-of-work composer of operas with a new libretto comprised entirely of verses from the King James Bible. In typical fashion the composer knocked out the entire piece in a twenty-four day burst, beginning on August 22nd and finishing on September 14th.

And a few months later, on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, during Lent, with singers from St. Patrick's Cathedral, they staged the first performance of Handel's Messiah.

Ig, Moon, Sushi

This just in:
2000 Ig Nobel Economics Prize winner Sun Myung Moon, having unified and dominated the mass marriage industry, is revitalizing and dominating another industry: American sushi.
That and lots more at Improbable Research today.

Strategy For Defeat

The Blogfather already snagged this article (he gets up a couple hours earlier than us west coast guys), so I'll just recommend this blog, and I'm adding it to The Daily Rounds.

Victimless Fraud

John Fund in Opinion Journal on voter fraud in Pennsylvania:
But no antifraud laws will work if prosecutors and judges don't crack down on election irregularities. Several tell me they fear being accused of racism and aiding voter-suppression tactics if they pursue touchy fraud cases. One district attorney told the U.S. Government Accountability Office that he doesn't pursue phony voter registrations because they are "victimless and nonviolent crimes."
Victimless? Vote once and you cancel your wife's vote. That's fair. Vote twice and you've canceled the vote of some innocent victim.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rogue River Teachers Strike

School Board Chairman Dick Handbury resigns:
"I've walked in a lot of bloody battlefields in my life," he said. "And I don't want to walk in this one. Because I don't think there are going to be any survivors. This is going to be nasty."
Nasty? How 'bout Alice Cooper?
Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces
Needless to say, I'm really happy for the kids.

Fishin' an' Huntin' Report

I don't usually pay much attention to the back pages of the local news, so I don't usually read the Fishing and Hunting Report. It's actually kind of interesting.
Winter steelhead have been chugging over Gold Ray Dam by the hundreds daily in late March, upping the count to almost 6,000 fish by March 29, the last updated count by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
What caught my eye was this.
Cougar hunters can expect an average year and will find greatest success using a predator call in areas that have good deer numbers. When snowfall occurs, hunters should look for fresh cougar tracks and pursue. Good cougar hunting opportunities exist throughout southwest Oregon.
So watch your backside while fishing.

June Pointer R.I.P

June Pointer, youngest of the Pointer Sisters, of cancer at age 52.

I saw the Pointer Sisters in Eugene once. The wore long willowy dresses and each dangled from her left hand a colorful silk "hankie". The whole front row of the theater was filled with little girls and every time one of the Pointer Sisters would "accidentally" drop her hankie, a little girl would snatch it up. Within seconds, another hankie would magically appear in the Sister's hand. (They kept the stage hands very busy.)

What Would We Do Without Researchers?

"Researcher: Tectonic Plates Slowly Moving"--headline, Associated Press, April 11

Hey, if Taranto can do it, so can I.

Climate of Fear

More from Opinion Journal: Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence.
Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.
Worth reading in its entirety.

Bad Medicine

Opinion Journal on the reason health insurance is so expensive. It's not only because health care is expensive.
...It's also that health insurers are prohibited from offering coverage that pays for only catastrophic events, such as a serious injury or heart attack. Rules vary by state, but in most places insurers are forced to cover everything from routine checkups to chiropractic care. Remove these mandates, allow deductibles and "copays" to be raised high enough, and in an instant the price for some health plans would fall to about that of dinner out and a movie for two.

Unlimited Energy

By way of Instapundit, an article in Popular Mechanics on methane hydrates.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 100,000 to 300 million trillion cu. ft. (tcf) of methane exists globally in hydrate form--most of it in the ocean floor. "There's more energy potential locked up in methane hydrate formations across the world than in all other fossil energy resources combined," says Brad Tomer, director of the Department of Energy's Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil.
But Tommy Gold in The Deep Hot Biosphere says
Often there is more carbon in the methane atoms trapped in a deposit of hydrate than in all of the sediments associated with the deposit. In such instances the conventional explanation of its source (biological materials buried within the sediments) cannot account for the production of so much methane. The methane embedded in the ice lattices must have come from below...
From deep within the earth--Gold says between 100 and 300 kilometers beneath the earth's surface. If he's right (and the evidence keeps piling up) we will never run out of natural gas--not for thousands of years.

Recent Oregon Accidents

At the Smullin Center in two weeks:
Practical Density Altitude and Recent Oregon Accidents

A entertaining presentation of the nine deadly sins associated with density altitude flying. You will learn what they are so you can avoid them. The accident briefing is about people who don't normally come to our meeting.
Sponsored by EAA Chapter 319.

Greg and I both find aviation accidents fascinating, mainly because we want to learn what mistakes the pilot made so we can avoid making the same mistakes. We're not so much afraid of dying in a plane accident as of looking stupid while doing so.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Large Delicious Animal Problem

Elk are getting out of control in Tillamook but, gee whiz, nobody knows what to do about it.
When news reports surfaced in January that port officials had arranged an "emergency hunt" in an attempt to move a herd of about 160 elk off port land, the ensuing outcry by some local residents and others from around the state and nation caused them to drop the idea. Instead, they concentrated on hazing the animals off the 1,600-acre property and repairing damaged fencing.

But that only transferred the problem to surrounding farmers, according to Port Manager Jack Crider, who also attended last week's meeting.

"The problem is that nobody wants these animals," Crider said.

The farmers were urged to work with the Oregon Hunters Association to come up with a plan for controlling the area's elk population that takes public sensibilities about hunts into consideration and then seek approval of state officials.
Maybe those people with delicate "sensibilities" should avert their gaze during hunting season.

Tear Off the Cover

Maureen Dowd's book hasn't been remaindered yet. That's too bad because I'd like to pick up a copy if I could find one at $3 or less.

Remember all those coverless books in the used book stores? Steve Laube, Literary Agent, explains why.
Mass-market paperbacks had one unusual facet with regard to returns. The bookseller could just tear the cover off the book, return the cover for credit and throw away the book. That is why you would find coverless books in used bookstores on occasion, they were dug out of the trash by someone. Used dealers don't take those anymore because the law cracked down on the practice. However, "tear cover" returns still exist.
But I don't want a coverless book. I want a bookless cover.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Looks like God's keeping an eye on Utah.

A Pen for Your Thoughts

As part of my kit (knife, keys, wallet, cell phone) I've always carried a pen and a few index cards to make notes. But I've just about run out of the little blue Bic Clicks, and Bic no longer makes them. Time to pogle up the money for a really good fountain pen.

"Maybe you should just get a pocket protector," my wife teases.

Virginia Postrel has some thoughts on pens in Spirit, the Southwest Airlines magazine.

Meaningless Phrase

An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Canada):
"Climate change is real" is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural "noise."
Signed by Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor, isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, and sixty other scientists.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Halls of Montezuma

Glenn Reynolds has a solution: Annex Mexico
Oh, we don't need to turn Mexico into a state, or several. At least not right away. But as part of any immigration deal, the United States needs to demand reform in Mexico. Serious political reform, and serious economic reform.

And reciprocity. If we're going to make it easy for Mexicans to come to the United States to live, work, hold property, and get public benefits without too much paperwork trouble, we need to make it easy for Americans to do the same in Mexico.
We had Mexico once, but Polk let it go.

Cheeta, 74, Celebrates Birthday

From The Desert Sun
Cheeta the chimpanzee is turning 74 today and will be celebrating with a birthday bash....

He has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest chimp. The animals rarely live past the age of 40 in the wild, but can reach 60 in captivity.
Or 74 in relatively affluent Palm Springs style captivity.

The New Ann Coulter

The New Ann Coulter book--so new the Amazon page uses "The New Ann Coulter" for a title, as if she has somehow managed to change herself--is already up to #22. Yesterday it was #5912.

And there are no negative reviews yet! Of course there's no "Review this book" link yet, either, but still. There's a lively discussion going on, though, if you have the stomach for it.

Koi Pond

Leslie's all over this Koi Pond thing. First she bought the book, then she found the web site, next thing you know she'll be kissing fish.

Update: Greg sends a link to the story of Chino, a golden retriever, and his fish, Falstaff.

What's Mexican for Laissez-Faire?

I don't know what to make of the immigration issue. It's nothing new but the red tape just keeps getting worse. No amount of congressional intervention can improve that. Schwarzenegger weighs in on Opinion Journal this morning but he had nothing new to say. A wall might help in some places but "every wall can be scaled with a ladder."

Walls and machine guns didn't stop people from escaping East Germany and they'll barely slow down the economic refugees from Mexico. Isn't there some formula for diffusion rates across a permeable membrane depending on pressure differentials? The only permanent way to reduce cross-border migrations is to give the Mexicans a good reason to stay put. Mexico has to develop its third-world economy into a first-world economy as quickly as possible and to my way of thinking all barriers--tariffs, taxes, and border crossing guards--only impede the process. Let them in, let them send the money home, let their economy grow, and the problem will solve itself.

Beautiful Periodic Table Displays

You'd probably have to get yourself a grant to fund it, but wouldn't this make a great room divider?

(Also by way of Improbable Research.)

Culinary Warning

Don't search Iowa State University's entomology site for recipes.

(Thanks to Improbable Research.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oracle Challenger Crash

Sean Tucker had lost all elevator control. Using trim he could keep the plane in a controlled climb, but there was no way he could land it. He had 25 minutes to think about it before the tanks ran dry. Finally he popped the canopy and climbed out--no other choice.
"When I left the plane, the only mistake I made was the left shoulder harness was still dragging on my shoulder, which kind of tripped me," Tucker said. "So when I left the plane, and I kind of rolled [to the left] and got stuck on some flying wires underneath on the tail."

"The interesting thing," Tucker said, his voice quieting, "because I was going the same speed as the plane, we were totally together... and it just took one hand, it wasn't a big deal, I just kind of pushed it like that... and she said 'okay,' and she pushed off to the right."

And that was it. As Tucker pulled the ripcord on his parachute, the Oracle Challenger rolled back to the left, and fell. He didn't see the plane impact the ground... which was probably just as well.
"Hey, Larry, about that plane you bought me..."

Privileges and Immunities

Of the 78 lines on Form 1040, only about 28 apply to me.

The rest apply to people with special privileges and immunities, such as educators (line23) , performing artists (line 24), people who provided housing to a person displaced by Hurricane Katrina (line 42), people who were elderly or disabled (line 49), or people who drove electric vehicles, lived in an empowerment zone, used alcohol for fuel (rather than pain relief), or produced Indian coal (line 55).

The Federal Government goes out of its way to provide incentives in the form of deductions and credits for all sorts of activities which we would probably undertake (or not) anyway, conveniently forgetting that the extra paperwork involved is probably not worth the few dollars saved. They should not try to make our lifestyle choices for us. What business is it of theirs that we drive (or don't) electric vehicles?

Rogue Tuba Player

Steyn's warming up on the immigration issue.
Meanwhile, U.S. immigration is cracking down on classical violinists. Don't ask me why. Presumably, Brahms' violin concerto falls into the ever dwindling category of jobs Americans will do. At any rate, the Halle Orchestra of Manchester, one of England's great orchestras, has just canceled its 2007 concerts at Lincoln Center. Why? Because all 80 musicians plus the 20 support staff are required -- under new "homeland security" regulations -- to be interviewed personally at the U.S. Embassy in London before each visa can be issued. They can't go en masse on the tour bus: They have to make individual appointments stretched out over several weeks. And they can't go to the local U.S. consulate in Manchester because -- and this detail is worth savoring five years after 9/11 -- the consulate's computers cannot handle the biometric data. The orchestra worked out that in train fares and accommodation it would cost about $80,000 to get the visas and decided it would rather cancel the tour. The good news is that Lincoln Center subscribers don't have to worry about the tuba player having plastic explosives packed down there. The bad news is, if a rogue tuba player ever breaks through the system, Homeland Security won't be able to e-mail his data back to the U.S. consulate in Manchester for a background check.
Always worth reading the Sunday Steyn.

The Sweetest Sounds

After the parade yesterday we wandered over to Alba Park. Marielle wanted to buy some trinket (a tiny pewter tiger glued to a marble) and as we waited for her to select her treasure I heard the sweetest sounds coming from the gazebo. I wandered over.

I saw four very young girls with acoustic instruments: a double bass taller the artist, a guitar, a mandolin, and a tiny violin which must have been 3/4 size. They played bluegrass and gospel, of course. Four sisters age 13 to 19, and their voices blended as only the voices of siblings can.

The Emmons Sisters. I should have heard them before but I don't get out much.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Largish Rabbit Bothers Smallish Country

I know I really shouldn't waste my time on a story as silly as this, but it's been all over the news today (obviously a very slow news day) and Drudge finally dug up a stock photo of a Continental Giant to use as an illustration. Not the actual bunny, of course, but a better picture than what the Sun dug up.

Were-rabbit on the attack

Sharpshooters have been called in.

Giant rabbit terrorises allotment

Well, it's big all right, but according to Jimmy Carter not as big as some of those Georgia Swamp Rabbits.

Pear Blossom Parade

Charlie marched in the Pear Blossom Parade today. He told me he was glad he had switched to auxiliary in percussion, because that meant he only had to carry a tambourine.



The man from Wildlife Images rode just behind them.

The parade this year was a little unusual--it didn't rain.

Well, duh. Brilliant insight.

Michael Barone has at the Democrats and their teacher problem:
"Now a band of Democratic-leaning thinkers wants to reclaim the issue. Their proposal, unveiled yesterday, is simple: Get rid of bad teachers and reward good ones."

... Here is the heart of it:

"The teacher proposal rests on several arguments: that the current practice of demanding certification based on teacher-training courses has outlived its usefulness, that routinely granting teachers lifetime tenure after two or three years is stupid, and that student test scores and other systemic ways to evaluate teachers are now good enough to act on."

Well, duh. Rubin and his friends, who would obviously never allow their own kids to attend schools run by teacher union members, have discovered—after all these years of their party's basking in teacher union dollar and teacher union member-run political activists' activities—that maybe ordinary and poor kids stuck in the schools run by these people are not being so well served.

Brilliant insight.
Read the whole thing.

Froschmausekrieg

By way of Improbable Reasearch, Boing Boing, and finally Wikipedia, the Batrachomyomachia
Batrachomyomachia (Gr. βατ?αχος, frog, μυς, mouse, and, μαχη, battle) or the Battle of Frogs and Mice is a comic epic or parody on the Iliad, definitely attributed to Homer by the Romans, but according to Plutarch (De Herodoti Malignitate, 43) the work of Pigres of Halicarnassus, the brother (or son) of Artemisia, queen of Caria and ally of Xerxes. Some modern scholars, however, assign it to an anonymous poet of the time of Alexander the Great.
Translated into English with illustrations here.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Wind Farm

Good-bye, Livermore.






Until next month.

Freedom to Raft

Via Opinion Journal:
Of all the activities at the nonprofit "Summer's Best Two Weeks" (SB2W) Christian camp near Boswell, Pa., none was more eagerly awaited than the annual rafting trip down the Lower Youghiogheny River. In 2001, though, state authorities demanded that SB2W hire commercial outfitters as guides. It couldn't afford the $30,000 this could cost, so campers had to stay off the river. On April 4, though, the nonprofit Institute for Justice paddled to the rescue, helping SB2W file a suit charging that the state's denial of its freedom to raft--as other private groups can and do--is unconstitutional.
More at the Institute for Justice.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Parthenon

Athens, Greece? Nashville, Tennessee.

Pynchon's Sofia

Wikipedia's home page has a featured article every day; today's is on Thomas Pynchon.

Now, I know a little about Pynchon because I've read every book he's ever written with the exception of Mason & Dixon which I plowed about three chapters into before coming to the conclusion that it was total dreck; past the pull date, washed up.

But V, The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity's Rainbow--I've read over and over.
Gravity's Rainbow was a joint winner of the 1974 National Book Award for Fiction, along with Isaac Bashevis Singer's A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories. In the same year, the fiction jury unanimously recommended Gravity's Rainbow for the Pulitzer Prize, however, the full Pulitzer panel vetoed the decision, describing the novel as "unreadable", "turgid", "overwritten", and in parts "obscene".
Three out of four I'll concede, but it's definitely not "unreadable".

I have to recommend (and I frequently have) The Disgusting English Candy Drill.

What's he doing now?
It has been rumored that Pynchon's next book will be about the life and loves of Sofia Kovalevskaya, whom he allegedly studied in Germany. The former German minister of culture Michael Naumann has stated that he assisted Pynchon in his research about "a Russian mathematician [who] studied for David Hilbert in Göttingen". No reliable information about the novel's date of publication has so far been forthcoming.
But I'll probably buy it. I always do.

Viral Electronics

PhysOrg.com:
MIT scientists have harnessed the construction talents of tiny viruses to build ultra-small "nanowire" structures for use in very thin lithium-ion batteries. By manipulating a few genes inside these viruses, the team was able to coax the organisms to grow and self-assemble into a functional electronic device.
Dr. Angela Belcher.

Pierre Clostermann

This week's Economist Obituary (subscription required)
He started out flying Spitfires with the Free French fighter squadron ""Alsace"?, based first in Scotland and then at Biggin Hill, south-east of London. Before long, he had his first success: not one, but two Focke-Wulfs in a single encounter over the Channel. ""I climbed steeply, did a half roll and, before they could complete the 180° of their turn, there I was...behind the second one. A slight pressure on the rudder and I had him in my sights... Quickly I squeezed the firing button. My first burst had struck home and no mistake."?
Published in 1948, The Big Show is still in print.

In Memoriam

Doug Bandow on Bernard Siegan:
His belief that the Constitution protected economic liberty was anathema to the usual left-wing suspects, who believed that the Constitution enshrined most every "right" except those actually mentioned in the text or supported by the nation's Founders.

President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, long a liberal haven, but in 1988 the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee blocked the appointment. The hearings were painful to watch, as left-wing hacks worked assiduously to embarrass and discredit him. His nomination became Bork II, a public footnote to the rejection of the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.

He was disappointed, but carried on the fight. Bernie continued to teach generations of future lawyers. He wrote several more books, making 13 in all -- The Supreme Court's Constitution and Property and Freedom were but two.

They'll Only Read It For The Articles

Hugh Hefner does his bit in the global war on terror (Islamic fundamentalism)
The Indonesian edition of Playboy magazine is due to hit newsstands in the world's most populous Muslim nation this week, the magazine's publisher said....

He said the magazine would be available in major cities including the capital Jakarta and second city Surabaya, and would be gradually marketed across the vast archipelago later this year.

The local publisher has promised to dramatically tone down the famed title's erotic photographs. But Islamic leaders claimed earlier this year, when plans for its debut were first announced, that the magazine would corrupt a culture already inundated by Western influences.
Oh, I hope so.

It's Thursday...

...it's Ann Coulter day.

Where the bloody hell are you?

Ian Shoales wonders about the Tourism Australia's new slogan.
""Where the bloody hell are you?"? probably won't work on me, because I seldom leave the house, much less travel around the world to gaze wistfully at kangaroos. The closest I'll ever get to Australia is an Outback steakhouse. Besides, ""Where the bloody hell are you?"? sounds suspiciously like a phrase an ex-girlfriend of mine would use, whenever I was running late. Not exactly inviting, but better than her other catchphrase, which was, ""Take your toothbrush and get out."?
http://www.wherethebloodyhellareyou.com/

Just To Pay His Union Dues

Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues
He can't win for losin'
Lotta poor man got to walk the line
Just to pay his union dues

*****

I woke up with the Cumberland Blues running through my head. I wonder what it means?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Comfortable Older Cottage, River View

A dinky little 2 bedroom one bath house on 0.9 acre just up the street from us just listed for $359,000. This is insane.

The listing doesn't show the house, just the view, which is nice, in that direction at least. But 0.36 million for this? This is Gold Hill, folks.

Actually, I hope some fool buys it. We'd be millionaires overnight. In equity anyway.

Relatively Small Effect

From the Daily Astorian:

Oregon state climate specialist critical of media coverage
Taylor has been criticized in the media for downplaying human influence on global warming. He said media reports contending he doesn't believe humans are contributing to global warming are inaccurate. ""I think there is a human effect. Humans do influence climate,"? he said. ""But it is relatively small compared to natural variations."?
Willamette Week writer Paul Koberstein blasted him last August.

Taylor responds point by point here.

Steel Wheels

Paul Johnson remembers the trains of his childhood.
Our Loop Line ran from six in the morning to midnight, every 20 minutes. In all the time I used it, it was never even a minute late. No accident was ever recorded. Drivers, guards, porters, even station masters knew you by name. 'Morning, Mr Earnshaw!' 'Hello, Little Paul!' My big sisters and I loved the LMS, with its maroon livery. It was our railway. The LNER (yellow) was 'common', the Great Western (brown) was 'stuck up', the Southern (green) just 'boring'. Our engines had reassuring names: Victoria, Albert, King Edward, Alexandra and (new ones) George V and Queen Mary.
Sounds a little like Thomas the Tank Engine.

Steel Wheels: The Evolution of the Railways

Firefox Breaks 10%

From the Lackidaisical Procrastinator, an article in Macworld...
In the past year, Firefox has gained 3.34 percent share while... Internet Explorer has lost 3.89 percent...
That's the good news.
Firefox was used by 10.05 percent of Web surfers last month, up from 9.75 percent in February. That compared to the 84.7 percent of users on various versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer (IE) in March.
That's the bad news--85% of the web surfing public uses a browser that malicious hackers love. You might as well wander around the internet metaphorically licking pay phones for all the viruses you'll attract. Not to mention bacteria like spyware. Microsoft keeps promising new versions with "improved security" patches but the code is rotten at the core.

Get Firefox!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More On the C-5 Crash

Lots more at the Air Force Times. Some excerpts:
Commercial fisherman Danny Wilson of Kitts Hummock was heading north on Del. 9 in his pickup truck, drinking a cup of coffee, when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. It was the tail section of a C-5, ""going real crazy,"? he said, cartwheeling through the air — and it was no longer attached to a plane.
...
The $179 million aircraft broke into three chunks, as it is designed to do on impact, an Air Force mechanic said.

I Hear Sirens. Were We Speeding?

Lizzy reads FoxTrot every day. She sent me links to these strips (yesterday and today).

We've been listening to the Odyssey on CD too, translated by Robert Fagles and read by Gandalf the Wise (Ian McKellen). Eleven CDs, thirteen hours, and none of it boring. Charlie even did an extra credit report on it, boosting his grade in World History up to a gentleman's B.

Update: the saga continues.

Update: Lizzy's going to have to explain this one to me.

Sexton Lookout Destroyed

Vandals destroyed the historic Mount Sexton fire lookout Saturday night. Story in the Mail Tribune.

WoodGas Camp Stove

This is the stove I want for backpacking this summer. Burns twigs and pine cones, and gets as hot as the big burner on an electric range.

Inventor's page here. Technical PDF here. Buy it here.

(Thanks to a blogad on The Mudville Gazette.)

Wrong Time to Lose Our Nerve

Today on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal the White House answers its critics on the Right.
The Wrong Time to Lose Our Nerve
A response to Messrs. Buckley, Will and Fukuyama.
BY PETER WEHNER

Print it out and read the whole thing. Then put it away for three years and give yourself an I-told-you-so moment.

Tim Best But Anna Better

In a 4½ hour spelling bee in Billings, Montana.
After the initial 16 rounds, the contest came down to a battle between the two home-schooled students, 13-year-old Anna Rose, of Belgrade, and 12-year-old Tim, of Joliet. Both are veterans of the state bee, Anna Rose on her fourth trip to the annual contest and Tim on his third.

Anna Rose won the state championship and the right to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in late May. She correctly spelled "mumpsimus," then clinched the victory by spelling "galenical."
Story and photo in the Billings Gazette.

Update: Anna made it into Round 3. In the end it was Close.

Small Town For Sale

Keith Sharon of JWR profiles the town of Bridgeville, CA, which goes on Ebay for the second time (no buyers the first time) with starting bids at 1.77 million.

About the price of an average house in San Diego.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Not Hard on the Ears Either

Sarah Chang will perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons at the Britt Classical Festival Saturday, August 5th.

On the same ticket: Saint-Saë ns Symphony No. 3; the Organ Symphony. That's the Britt for you. Saint-Saë ns has a nice little violin concerto--why didn't they go with that?

December the Ninth the Ninth

On Saturday, December 9th, 2006, the Eugene Symphony and the Eugene Symphony Chorus will perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The rest of the 2006-2007 Season's not bad either.

Lately I've been listening to a boxed set of the 9 Symphonies by John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Small orchestra, period instruments. "Beethoven should never be modernized," he says.

Our own Rogue Valley Symphony performed the Ninth a few years back, but I was short of either time or money. I forget which.

Supply and Demand Curves

Convenient birth control in a society that values baby boys over baby girls has led, inevitably, to a shortage of girls. But market forces prevail even in love:
A declining sex ratio in the state is prompting a girl's parents to spurn offers of marriage from men unless the potential groom's family also has a marriageable daughter for their son, the Sunday Express said....

"There are no girls. If there is one in a house, the father is like a king. He can demand anything," said Prahland Singh, the head of Bhorki village in Rajasthan.
My uncle always said that four queens beats a full house.

C-5 Crash Near Dover AFB

Broke in half; no fire. 17 aboard. 6abc.com has the story and pictures. Winds were light and variable out of the south, favoring RWY 19. The crash occurred near Route 9, which is about one mile to the east.

METAR
KDOV 031155Z 16006KT 5SM BR BKN090 OVC250 09/08 A2996
KDOV 031055Z 17005KT 5SM BR SCT050 SCT120 BKN250 07/06 A2996
KDOV 030955Z 15005KT 7SM SCT250 07/06 A2997
KDOV 030855Z 18005KT 7SM BKN250 07/05 A2998

Update:
The plane was taking off, apparently, when the crew reported trouble and attempted to return to the runway. Kind of hard to do a quick 270 in C-5, which might have something to do with the tail landing hundreds of yards away.

Update:
"Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said military officials told him the crew reported a malfunction in one of the plane's four engines." --NBC 17

Sunday, April 02, 2006

His Untimely Demise

The spam filters work pretty well, but every now and then one gets through. I'm amused by the recent evolution of the Nigerian scam. Two arrived today. The first:
Barrister Allen West.
Legal Counsel Service.
{Solicitors and advocates}
Address: 57 Rumuola Road
Port-Harcourt.

Dear Durand,

I am Mr Allen West. (Barrister at law) and personal attorney to the late Mr Darin Durand,an international contractor who was awarded two different contracts with shell Development Company here before his untimely demise on the 10th of March 2002. My client and his wife including their only Son were involved in a car accident along suleja express road Abuja. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives.

Since then I have made several enquiries to locate any of my client's extended relatives, this has proved unsuccessful. After several unsuccessful attempts to locate any member of his family, I now decided to contact you. I just want you to assist in recovering some Funds valued at Eight million,Two hundred thousand U.S dollars {USD$8.2 Million} for the executed contract that was approved in favor of my late client, by the Hallmark Bank of Nigeria...
Aside from the complete absurdity of the whole scenario, I count three errors of punctuation in the first sentence alone. I wonder how much better they'd do if they made, at least, grammatical sense?

The second, on that count, was even more amusing:
Salut cher,

Je me nommes Somon Sandrine,je suis de nationalité Française et je vis aprésent en Irak . Je suis dans ce pays depuis plus de 13 ans et j'était au service de monsieur Nizar Hamboum . J'avais pour rôle de veiller sur le bon fonctionnement de la résidence r moussoul et r m'occuper de tout ce qui est comme factures et charges a régler.J'étais en quelque sorte le majordome et j'avais une connaissance de plusieurs choses que mon maître faisait et r quoi il était exposé. Monsieur Nizar avait occupé plusieurs postes importants dans le pays et le monde entier.

Il fut de 1993 r 1999, ambassadeur des nations unis a New York ; Ministre des affaires étrangcres et aussi député dans son pays. Il a été un membre influant dans la médiation des relations entre les Etats Unis et l'Irakdans les années 1980. Il trouva la mort le vendredi 5 juillet 2003 r New York au centre commémoratif de cancer de Sloan-Kettering r la suite d'une crise cardiaque. Mon maître m'avait demandé de suivre le dépôt dans une société de surveillance et de conservation de biens privés, d'un colis c'est a dire une malle qui contenait la somme de 12.500.000 dollars...
I've only had two years of college French but that appears to have more typos per sentence than the English one.

It's Sunday

I hope I don't have to remind anyone to read their Sunday Steyn.

Moral Imbeciles

Ian Robinson puts our thoughts into words. (Don't the best essayist always seem to do that?)
...even after the release, the organization to which they're attached was still taking metaphorical shots at the coalition of troops who rescued them.

"As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to non-violence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues," their press release said.

What would the hostages have done if shots had been fired? Voluntarily returned to captivity?

If ever a group wasn't worth the effort and risk to free them, it's these guys.
Read the whole thing. And bookmark this guy's column.

I'm Sorry You're A Jerk

JPod on The Corner:
I actually don't care whether Legum apologizes or not. The whole "he should apologize" trope is tired and silly, and it would be an aid to civil discourse if it were retired.
I agree.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fighting Words

The box from Amazon arrived yesterday.

Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 by Antony Beevor
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge
The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme by John Keegan

And not yet arrived:
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne

All recommended by Victor Davis Hanson in Opinion Journal's "Five Best" last Saturday. So of course I had to throw in his Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power (which may be the first one I read).

Where's number five? Out of print. Don't worry; I'll find it:
The Fall of Fortresses: A Personal Account of the Most Daring, and Deadly, American Air Battles of World War II by Elmer Bendiner

Only a matter of time.