Monday, July 31, 2006

Attacked By Rabid Nutrias

Last Thursday Josh Stewart of Springfield, Oregon, crawled under a house on a plumbing job. He was nearly at the back of the house when he heard a noise behind him and turned to see five baby nutrias between him and the way out. His first thought was "where's the mother?"

Then he saw three adults closing in on him. The first one ran at him and he kicked at it. There wasn't much room to maneuver in the twenty-inch crawl space, but he managed to get hold of a rock and smashed it repeatedly in the head. The second one came at him, ran up his leg and toward his face, so he grabbed it killed it, and one of the babies as well. Finally he saw his chance and scrambled out, covered in blood.

Lane County Animal Control came and retrieved the bodies, which tested positive for rabies. Stewart had fortunately not been bitten, only scratched, but as a precautionary measure received rabies and tetanus shots.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Juniper Thinning

All along the banks of the Chewaucan we saw juniper trees sawn down, laying dry and brown on their sides. It's part of a controversial project to return the high desert to its normal state.
Western junipers are native to the High Desert, but prior to the late 1800s only an occasional tree dotted the landscape, said Rick Miller, an OSU professor who studies junipers.

The trees can live to be more than 1,000 years old. They start off life slowly, spending the first 20 years putting energy into their root systems, before undergoing a growth spurt between ages 45 and 80 or 90, Miller said. He has sampled a tree that started growing in 100 B.C. and died about 400 years ago.

Juniper trees have been in Oregon for between the last 4,000 to 6,000 years, he said, ""but it's just filling in because of changes in land use ... We don't think it's ever reached the abundance it is today, it really is an unprecedented change."?

The change in Central Oregon began in the 1880s, when cattle and sheep ranchers began grazing huge numbers of livestock on the land, he said. Grazing fireproofed the landscape by removing the grasses and brush that fuel periodic fires, and the junipers proliferated without burns to keep them in check. This effect was amplified after World War II, Miller said, when firefighters ramped up fire suppression efforts in the region.

There were about 450,000 acres of western juniper in Oregon in the mid-1930s, but the trees now cover 6 million acres, said Tim Deboodt, an OSU extension agent in Crook County and co-leader of the watershed study.

And junipers use up a lot of water. On a warm day, a 12-inch diameter tree can suck up 50 gallons of water, Deboodt said. If there are nine to 15 trees of that size on an acre of land that gets 12 inches of precipitation a year, they could use all of it, he said.
More in the Bend Bulletin.

Update: Greg adds this article from the OSU Agricultural Experiment Station newsletter.

Black Crater Fire

Sisters, Oregon:
The Black Crater forest fire west of Sisters was at about 5,700 acres, or nearly nine square miles, Sunday and remained only five percent contained.

Three subdivisions, housing about 1,500 people, near the popular tourist town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains has been ordered evacuated as of Saturday night but no new evacuations had been ordered Sunday.

Firefighters said they expected a weather break with lighter winds but that a more accurate status report would not be made until peak after burning hours Sunday afternoon.
For reference I have a copy of the TFR map here.

We noticed a lot of smoke last night in Lake County, but the local news said that it blew in from California.

Mosquito Festival

We drove over to Paisley, Oregon to camp on the Chewaucan River and join in the 23rd Annual Mosquito Festival Parade. Here Marielle and her friend Oceana ride with Smokey the Bear on the Forest Ranger's float.

After the parade we ate a BBQ lunch, listened to the Old Time Fiddlers, toured the Arts and Crafts displays and the Quilt Show, and shopped the Flea Markets. (I bought a nice old brass Zippo.)

As the afternoon warmed up we found a nice swimming hole just past the first cattle guard on the Chewaucan, and later that evening returned to our camp for hot dogs, cold drinks, and marshmallow roasts. The girls stayed up late catching frogs and snakes and minnows.

Besides her brother and sister and Mom and Dad, Oceana has a grandmother and two great-grandmothers living in Paisley, a town about half the size of Gold Hill.

COC #67

Gullyborg returns this week as the host of the Carnival of Cordite #67.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kim's Bad Hair Day

Pearls Before Swine. Part of the Daily Rounds.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

So Prosecute Them

James Taranto's Best of the Web Today tells the story of "the prisoner Hezbollah wants most," Samir Qantar, and quotes at length from an article by one of his victims, Smadar Haran Kaiser.

You can read Taranto later. Read her story now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gordon at the Beach

Dave Handy has published a bit of pre-history starring me.

Thanks, Dave (wipes away tear). I loved that old Rambler.

So Persecute Them

Greg sends a link to the WSJ article Cry Bias, and Let Slip the Blogs of War, which I ought to have read in full, but I only skimmed it before wandering off on a link-by-link tangent that brought me to one of those very blogs, Dadmanly, and his most recent entry concerned an item I had noticed this morning but didn't bother blogging.
Dublin, Ireland:
Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker who spotted something while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog....
That was interesting enough, but Dadmanly read further and noticed something else:
The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83...
Here's the KJV of Psalms 83:
  1. Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
  2. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
  3. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
  4. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
  5. ...
  6. O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.
  7. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
  8. So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.
Amen to that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


John J. Miller reviews a new translation of a classic dystopian novel:
Authors sometimes gripe about the long wait between the completion of a book and its publication. Perhaps the sad case of the Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin will help them put things in perspective: He finished his novel "We" in 1921, but it didn't appear in print in his native land until 1988.

The problem wasn't that Zamyatin and his manuscript were obscure or unknown. Rather, it was that they offended communist censors, who correctly understood "We" to be a savage critique of the totalitarianism that was starting to take shape in the years following the Russian Revolution.

They managed to suppress "We" inside the Soviet Union, but they weren't able to keep it from making a deep impression elsewhere: Two of the most iconic novels in the English language--"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley and "1984" by George Orwell--owe an enormous debt to Zamyatin.
Into the shopping cart it goes...

...and Amazon suggests I buy it along with The Master and Margarita. No, Dave Handy loaned me that one 25 years ago, and it's still on my shelf. I picked it up and re-read the first half last spring. Did you want it back, Dave?

The Human Beast

I think that Greg first sent me the link to this article. I don't want to lose it, so I'll put it here rather than on that mouldering pile of papers I call a desk.

The Human Beast by Tom Wolfe
2006 Jefferson Lecture
That a wound to one's status, not to one's body, not to one's bank account, not to one's general fortunes in life, that such a wound to one's status could have such a severe effect upon the psyche of the human beast, is no minor matter. It means that we have come upon a form of anguish that is somehow primal. Even the most trivial and the most unlikely circumstances can be colored by the beast's constant and unrelenting concern for his own status. Which is to stay, his own standing, his own rank, in the eyes of others and in his own eyes.
I read it some time ago. Now I'm going to download the MP3 and listen.

Another One Bites The Dust

And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

Thanks to PajamasMedia for the lovely picture.

F-86 Sabre Crash

Hickory, North Carolina:
...Wyatt Fuller, a vintage-airplane buff who was headed to an air show in Oshkosh, Wis., when the crash happened. He was piloting a 1954 F-86 Sabre made in Canada....

The pilot had been attempting takeoff down one of the airport's two runways when the crash happened, Byers said. The plane carried a full load of about 800 gallons of fuel.

Kenneth Bowen, who lives across from the airport, said he saw the crash as he talked with his mailman in front of his house. He said he heard the plane's engine and thought it was coming in for a landing.

Then the engine stopped and he saw the plane moving down the runway, smoke coming from its brakes.

"And it wouldn't hold, and he just kept going," Bowen said. "I said, `Oh God, he ain't going to stop.' He went over the bank and then exploded. I could feel the heat from all the way over here."

Monday, July 24, 2006

No Child Below Average

Charles Murray explains the bell curve. Again.

(Do try to follow along--no math is required.)
At stake is not some arcane statistical nuance. The federal government is doling out rewards and penalties to school systems across the country based on changes in pass percentages. It is an uninformative measure for many reasons, but when it comes to measuring one of the central outcomes sought by No Child Left Behind, the closure of the achievement gap that separates poor students from rich, Latino from white, and black from white, the measure is beyond uninformative. It is deceptive.
I once told Greg that I hoped that my children learn, if nothing else, these two things:
  1. The law of supply and demand.
  2. The bell curve and what it means
But how many public school teachers understand even that?

The Beer Are Running

"Grand prize includes airfare for two, three nights hotel, wildlife excursion and VIP brewery tour."

I don't normally aid and abet other people's advertising, but it's so damn hot here, and a fella's got a right to dream, don't he?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lost In Translation?

"Hi, honey. I'm down at the store. Do you need anything?"

"Yeah, I'm thirsty. Could you pick up a six-pack of Pocari Sweat?"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dining Out in Japan

Lizzy and Yukari, and in the background, Yuichi. The Japanese word for "younger brother" also translates as "little demon".

Mideast Crisis Tracker

The Wall Street Journal offers an up-to-the-minute summary of the news from Lebanon.

80% of Israelis support the present military operations, as do most Americans.

Milton and Rose Friedman

Tunku Varadarajan interviews the Friedmans, two economists married for 68 years. Their secret? Rose always gets the last word.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gratuitous Glamour Shot

Mr. Completely will host Carnival of Cordite #66 this week.

Scholarly Malpractice

Edward Alexander in The Seattle Times:
Perhaps the incessant nattering about "the occupation" will finally give way to a recognition that the real "root cause" of Middle Eastern wars is a genocidal Islamicist culture, which must be uprooted by a process roughly akin to the denazification of Germany after World War II.

Perhaps the Israeli politicians who were so proud of their flight from Lebanon and Gaza will conjure the ghost of Winston Churchill rebuking arch-appeaser Neville Chamberlain: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."

Perhaps — but maybe this is too much to hope — even our Middle East experts in this country (who bear a large portion of responsibility for our mental unpreparedness for 9/11) will be subject to liability laws for scholarly malpractice of the sort that have long been in place for medical malpractice.
Academics paying a price for stupidity? But that's unconstitutional!

Cracking The Neanderthal Code

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have announced a multi-million dollar project to decipher the genetic code of Neanderthals:
Anthropologists have long argued over Neanderthals' unexplained disappearance. Many believe Neanderthals were unable to compete with modern humans migrating from Africa. But it remains an open question whether Neanderthals faded away quietly, or were wiped out over thousands of years of fierce territorial battles with modern man. Researchers have recovered stone axes and other tools from Neanderthal sites, and it's believed that they used fire and buried their dead, but relatively little is known about how they lived. Modern humans who entered their territories left behind cave paintings and other evidence of more sophisticated culture, and more advanced tools. DNA differences between humans and Neanderthals could explain key human traits.
And of course they want to answer the burning question: did cavemen date Neanderthal women?

Death Happy Doctors

A faux conversion saved Ms. Winnick's father from the culture of death at North Shore Hospital:
I complained about all the death-with-dignity pressure to my father's doctor, an Orthodox Jew, who said that his religion forbids the termination of care but that he would be perfectly willing to "look the other way" if we wanted my father to die. We didn't. Then a light bulb went off in my head. We could devise a strategy to fend off the death-happy residents: We would tell them we were Orthodox Jews.

My little ruse worked. During the few days after I announced this faux fact, it was as though an invisible fence had been drawn around my mother, my sister and me. No one dared mutter that hateful phrase "death with dignity."

Though my father was born to an Orthodox Jewish family, he is an avowed atheist who long ago had rejected his parents' ways. As I sat in the ICU, blips on the various screens the only proof that my father was alive, the irony struck me: My father, who had long ago rejected Orthodox Judaism, was now under its protection.

As though to confirm this, there came a series of miracles. Just a week after he was rushed to ICU, my father was pronounced well enough to be moved out of the unit into North Shore's long-term respiratory care unit. A day later he was off the respirator, able to breathe on his own. He still mostly slept, but then he began to awaken for minutes at a time, at first groggy, but soon he was as alert (and funny) as ever. A day later, we walked in to find him sitting upright in a chair, reading the New York Times.
Note to future ghouls hanging by my bedside: Don't even think about pulling my plug. Because if I survive, and I find out, I'll send a few of you ahead of me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Couldn't Have Said It Better

Thanks to Lucianne. Click image for a larger view.

Struck Down By Lightning

Jeanerette, Louisiana:
Three people were killed Tuesday afternoon when a plane hit by lightning crashed into a neighborhood near the airfield here....

One official on the scene said that the plane approached the Jeanerette Le Maire Memorial Airport from the southeast and did a ""touch-and-go"? — touching down then ascending. The pilot intended to perform a ""go-around"? and approach the landing strip again when lightning struck the plane, he said....

Because of the lightning impact, the plane lost a wheel just outside the airfield's fencing. It then scratched a tree and the roofs of two houses before clipping power lines. Seconds later it crashed into a mobile home occupied by Broussard, who reportedly was in his mid-70s. The plane caught fire and exploded.

Just Deserts

Bob Tyrrell:
To the grizzled and disheveled stalwarts of Hezbollah and Hamas, may I say you did it to yourselves. Kapow!

As another Israeli bomb lands nearby, as a shell whizzes overhead, may I remind you that you are hunkering down either on Gaza or on Lebanese soil that was evacuated by the Israelis so that you could live in peace. And what did you donkeys do? You tunneled under the Israeli borders to infiltrate Israel and kill innocent civilians. You established an infrastructure of missiles to rain down destruction on Israeli cities that were at peace, providing security and prosperity for both Jews and Arabs. You captured Israeli soldiers in an unprovoked attack. Kapow! You are getting just what you deserve.

Fear Of Complexity

I didn't mention Peggy Noonan's column last week because I didn't agree with it. Turns out she didn't either:
I do wish I'd been explicit in saying: I believe liberals in fact enjoy the complexity, not only because they love government--love to obsess on it, and think it is the last best hope of man on Earth--but because complexity justifies big government. Big complex question. Big complex response. Laws and rumors of laws.
"Big complex response" is just what you don't need. As law professor Richard Epstein argues, you need Simple Rules for a Complex World.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cousin Marryin' John

John Stossel says go right ahead:
I'd always thought marrying a blood relative as close as a cousin was immoral, and certainly risky if you plan to have kids. Conventional wisdom says only primitive people who live in isolated places marry cousins. It leads to stupid children. But that's a myth.

It's the sort of myth that leads to stupid laws. Half the states in America have banned cousin marriage, but there's no good reason for it. You can marry your cousin and have perfectly intelligent kids.

Take Albert Einstein — was he intelligent enough for you? His parents were cousins, and he married his cousin. So did Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria. Worldwide, 20 percent of all married couples are cousins.
Wait. Let me translate.

Iberian Rock Lizards

...are taking Vitamin D now.

But will it work for British rock lizards?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Overkill In America

Radley Balko of Cato has released Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.
...a history of SWAT teams, legal background, analysis and criticism of their increasingly frequent use and abuse, and an appendix of case studies that documents more than 150 botched raids.
Available in PDF or hard copy ($10) complete with interactive maps.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Coping With Wealth

Who can afford those million dollar homes? June Fletcher at the WSJ says lots of people:
...there are simply more wealthy people around than ever before. According to the latest World Wealth Report, issued by money managers Merrill Lynch and Capgemini Group, 2.67 million Americans -- roughly 1 in 100 -- has a net worth of more than $1 million, excluding their primary residence. That number is up 6.8% from the year before. World-wide, the ranks of the super-rich with assets of $30 million or more grew even faster, up 10.2% to 85,400. Yet not everyone who owns a million-dollar home makes seven-figure salaries. A 2005 Coldwell Banker Previews survey of 300 homeowners whose primary residence is valued at more than $1 million found 57% of households earn less than $500,000 a year.
We reached a milestone a couple years back where more people world-wide were obese than were hungry. Soon we will reach the point where more people are stinkin' rich than frugal.

Dreamliner's Vulnerability

Boeing struggles to protect the 787 against lightning:
Lightning strikes one or two airliners every year and it's not normally a big deal. The big charge just passes through the very conductive aluminum. But in a mostly composite airplane like the Dreamliner, the enormous charge looks for a relatively few conductive paths, such as hinges, attachment points and wiring, and it can vaporize or fuse them.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Distorting Reagan To Get Bush

I like my history straight up. Fred Barnes reminds us of the way it really was.

COC #65

I feel it is my duty as a public service announcement to inform all my gentle readers that Slap That Donkey has just posted the 65th Carnival of Cordite.

Oh, go ahead. He just craves attention.

Hillsboro Air Show Heats Up

A privately-owned Hunter Hawker jet plane has crashed into a residential area near the Hillsboro airport, police confirmed Sunday afternoon.

The jet was apparently taking part in the Oregon International Air Show when it crashed into a residential neighborhood, bursting into flame and setting houses there on fire.

Hillsboro Police Department spokesman Chris Skinner said fire crews were en route to the scene and had not yet conducted search-and-rescue operations as of 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Oregon Army National Guard's 1042nd Medical Company has made one of its UH-60 Blackhawk rescue helicopters - which was on display at the air show - available for rescue efforts.
More from KGW.

Map here.

Update from the Statesman-Journal:
But fire, law and aviation officials used the word "miraculous" when they discovered that no one on the ground was injured. The devastated house was unoccupied at the time. Witnesses in adjacent houses fled as their property was doused with jet fuel and ignited.

"Jet fuel burns very hot. We used foam," King said in a news conference broadcast live. "This is a high-density neighborhood with lots of vegetation."

She reported that the fire was put out within 20 minutes.

Another house with people inside sustained "significant damage," but no one was hurt, King said. The attic exterior of a third house was damaged, and there was fire damage in the yard of another, she said.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Missing Hiker Found

Saturday morning rescuers found a Eugene woman who had been lost in the Boulder Creek Wilderness area since Tuesday.

Alayna S. Hamilton, 25, was in good condition and walked out with the group from Eugene Mountain Rescue. She was reunited with her sister, Melissa Hamilton, 27, at Mott Head east of Steamboat.

Hamilton parked at Soda Springs trailhead Tuesday and planned to go for an 8- or 9-mile hike but got lost. She decided to head south, believing that would take her back to the road. She had a little bit of water and trail mix with her. She ate blackberries and drank out of streams....

Hamilton had headed north instead of south and was in one of the remotest parts of the wilderness, Douglas County Sheriff's Office emergency management coordinator Wayne Stinson said.

Searchers included Corvallis Mountain Rescue, the Oregon National Guard, a rescue team from Josephine County and several Douglas County groups, including Mounted Search and Rescue.
As I said before, if I were hiking in that area, I'd want a map and a compass.

Lizzy In Japan

Lizzy stands with Yukari and her father Koichi Abe at Fukushima Station, Japan. She will live with Yukari's family for a month.

It's Our War

William Kristol:
Why is this Arab-Israeli war different from all other Arab-Israeli wars? Because it's not an Arab-Israeli war. Most of Israel's traditional Arab enemies have checked out of the current conflict. The governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are, to say the least, indifferent to the fate of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) isn't a player. The prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war is a non-Arab state, Iran, which wasn't involved in any of Israel's previous wars.

What's happening in the Middle East, then, isn't just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What's happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West--but is India part of the West? Better to say that what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.

Climbing Mount St. Helens

Climbing has resumed on Mount St. Helens:
Permits are required to hike above tree line and cost $22 each. The Forest Service will issue up to 100 permits a day, and reservations can be made on the Internet through the Mount St. Helens Institute.

The most popular climbing route begins on the south side at Climber's Bivouac, elevation 3,800 feet. An easy trail through firs and huckleberries on an ancient lava flow leads to tree line at Monitor Ridge, at 4,800 feet.

That's where the scrambling starts, up broken rocks and pumice, through sparse patches of subalpine grasses and flowers, to 7,000 feet, where the trail soon becomes a thick field of ash - like hiking up a steep, sandy dune.

When climbers reach the narrow rim and look into the 1.2-mile-wide crater, the ascent's difficulty is quickly forgotten - especially when they consider that nearly everything they see on the floor 2,000 feet below has built up since 2004.

"Everything in our perspective here is new. It's all been erupted over the last year and a half," Peter Frenzen, a St. Helens specialist with the Forest Service, said as he gazed into the crater. "Everything we're standing on is less than 3,000 years old, so we shouldn't be surprised that this thing can pump out rock."
The Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam

The Mount St. Helens Institute.

IRS Software Mistake Saves Taxpayers Millions

Of course the local fishwrap spins the story a little different.
IRS software mistake costs government millions
But that just goes to show whose side they're on.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Prohibits Nothing

Statement of Purpose:
To prohibit the confiscation of a firearm during an emergency or major disaster if the possession of such firearm is not prohibited under Federal or State law.
Actual Text:
None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be used to temporarily or permanently seize any firearm during an emergency or major disaster... if the possession of such firearm is not prohibited under Federal or State law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal or State law or as evidence in a criminal investigation.
Go ahead, but file a separate expense report.
Meaningless votes in favor: Wyden, Smith, 82 others.
Opposed: Clinton, Kennedy, Feinstein, the usual suspects.

Desert On Fire

North of Palm Springs. The Los Angeles Times has the story with a couple of real nice photo galleries.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Red County Republicans

By way of NW Repuplican, an article in the liberal Willamette Week that says demographic trends favor the Right:
For much of the '80s and '90s, newcomers primarily flocked to Multnomah County. But more recently and, if projections are accurate, in the foreseeable future, Oregon's fastest population growth will come in places where newbies are far more likely to vote Republican: notably, Deschutes, Jackson and Clackamas counties....

There are also shifts within existing populations. Democrats once dominated the state's timber, mining and agriculture industries. No more. "Democrats used to be the party of the rural worker," says Oregon State's Lunch. "But in the '90s, they became the environmental party, and many workers saw that shift as contrary to their interests."

The Oregon Coast also used to be as blue as the Pacific. But as the coastal Democrats die off, they are being replaced by Republicans. Hibbits cites the example of Coos County in southern Oregon, long the coast's most populous county.

In 1972, a majority of Coos residents voted for the Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. In 2004, however, they favored Bush by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.
Be wary of forecasting the future with two data points and a ruler, but if these arguments hold up, we've reason to hope.

Killer Fangaroos

Saber toothed kangaroos and demon ducks from hell. Extinct for 24 million years, fortunately. New fossils found in Australia.

Search For Missing Hiker

Roseburg, Oregon:
An Army National Guard helicopter was expected to join a search underway in the Boulder Creek Wilderness for a Eugene hiker who did not show up to work Wednesday.

The Boulder Creek Wilderness located 60 miles outside Roseburg.

Melissa Hamilton told the Douglas County Sheriff's Office that her sister, 25-year-old Alayna Hamilton, was going hiking Monday in the Boulder Creek area, according to Dwes Hutson of the sheriff's office. Boulder Creek is about 60 miles east of Roseburg.
I've hiked that trail once or twice years ago. Easy area to get lost in. Hiking alone, I think I'd want a map, a compass, and a .357.

Sailor Gordon Fake

Born 2:29 p.m. July 12, 2006
7 pounds, 12 ounces; 21 inches
to Phil and Dorothy Fake
of Portland Oregon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Atheists and Freemasons

Robert Novak:
It cannot be overstated for an American audience that despite the stereotype of Mexicans as pious Catholics, religious conservatives are almost unheard-of in the halls of power in Mexico. Calderon, a social-conservative who reportedly attends daily mass, has been propelled to the presidency in a nation where official atheism and freemasonry have been enforced among government officials (and at times among the population) for decades. Calderon is not just the Sam Brownback of Mexico -- he is far more outside the norm for a politician.
I didn't know that.

Far As The Eye Can See

Lizzy left this morning for Japan.

Well, first to Portland, and then Seattle. Tomorrow her plane leaves Seattle at 1:13 and arrives in Narita, Japan at 3:25--ten hours later. She'll stay for a month with Yukari and her family in Fukushima.

The Labo Summer Homestay program.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bulletproof Dogs

Thanks to Drudge for spotting the latest trend in Southern California law enforcement.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
The results of the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced.

Doors of Perception

The Wall Street Journal reports that research has resumed--after a forty year hiatus--into the effects of psilocybin:
Thirty of the participants were randomly assigned to receive either psilocybin or Ritalin (known generically as methylphenidate) as a control for the first eight-hour session; two months later, they were given the other drug in another session. Neither the participants nor the monitors who were present during their sessions knew which agent was being taken. To further reduce chances that participant responses would be affected by expectations they were getting psilocybin, a third group of six participants was randomly assigned to receive Ritalin in both sessions, followed by a third session when they knew they were getting the psychedelic agent. Ritalin was selected as the control agent in part because it can cause mood-changing effects similar to those of psilocybin, researchers said. It also takes effect at about the same time and lasts for about as long.

Participants were given the drug in individual sessions in a living-room environment with two experienced monitors. They were blindfolded, given headphones to listen to classical music and encouraged to lie down and direct their thoughts inward.
This is so retro.

Energy and Enthusiasm

Paul Johnson has a vision for America:
As the world's biggest consumer of energy — as well as the one power with the technical resources, capital and experience in leadership to apply bold measures — the U.S. has a duty to think on the largest possible scale. It should contemplate becoming the world's supplier of electricity generated by nuclear reactors.
Hear him out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Volunteers of Cordite

Gullyborg's too busy but Mr. Completely and Spank That Donkey have stepped in and published Carnivals of Cordite #63 and #64 respectively.

I appreciate that.

Newport Nationalizes Airport

The City of Newport has taken over operation of the Newport Municipal Airport FBO.
There are some changes that will be taking place immediately or in the very near future, said [Airport Director Dennis] Reno. One is the addition of packaged sandwiches, drinks and other lunch items for people either headed out on an airplane or perhaps arriving in Newport for a day at the beach.

The city also plans to install a card-lock fueling system, which will make fuel available to pilots 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"In the past, COCAS closed at 5 (p.m.), and we've got four or five hours of daylight left," Reno said. "Lots of folks get off work in the valley at 5 and go for an airplane ride. Being able to offer them services over here will increase our fuel volume in sales and also the activity, and it will bring more folks into our community," he said.
Greg, Lizzy, and I flew there last summer.

Ribbons of Progress

George Will relates the history of the Interstate Highway System.

Print it out, go for a drive, and have someone read it to you.

Siberian Airbus Overruns Runway

Irkutsk, Russia:
Having landed in the airport of Irkutsk, the plane exceeded the limits of the runway, broke through the grid of concrete obstacle, ran into garage, and blazed up with fire. The aircraft had 193 passengers and 8 members of the crew.
131 dead. Photo gallery here.

Fun Just Reading The Map

Dave Barry spent a week in Ireland:
Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep. It consists mostly of scenic pastures occasionally interrupted by quaint towns with names such as (these are actual Irish town names) Ardfert, Ballybunion, Coole, Culleybackey, Dingle, Dripsey, Emmoo, Feakle, Fishguard, Gweedore, Inch, Knockaderry, Lack, Leap, Lusk, Maam, Meentullynagarn, Muff, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Nutt's Corner, Oola, Pontoon, Rear Cross, Ringaskiddy, Screeb, Sneem, Spiddle, Spink, Stradbally, Tang and Tempo.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Eskimo Nebula from Hubble

Today's APOD.

Master of Understatement

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance on hikes in the Cascades, particularly in the Sky Lakes and Mt. Thielsen Wilderness areas. To avoid them, remember that these insects hatch about 10 days after the snow melts from the trails and that they remain in force about a month. Thus, if a given trail in the Cascades is listed as "Open mid-June," expect mosquitoes there most of July.
William L. Sullivan, 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon

We were warned.

We managed to cook dinner Friday night slathered in Cutters and swatting the little six-legged vampires who didn't seem to mind the taste of DEET. After a tolerably pleasant evening meal eaten while walking briskly back and forth to stay off-center in our personal swarms, we hurriedly washed the cooking pots and dove into our tents. There we remained, "as much prisoners as if we were in jail," as Lizzy said, reading, until dark.

"Maybe in the cool morning they won't be as bad," I said.

They were. We packed as quickly as we could, filled our water bottles, and headed up the trail, hoping to out-climb them. After a mile we gave up, turned around, and hiked as briskly as possible the seven miles back to the car.

Lesson learned: The Cascades are impassable from snow melt until mid-August.

Paisley Mosquito Festival

The full schedule for the 23rd Annual Mosquito Festival in Paisley, Oregon is now online.

Believe it or not, we plan to go.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Area Bank Robbed

Gold Hill:
Police are still searching for a man who robbed the Washington Mutual bank here Thursday afternoon.

The suspect, wearing a black Pink Floyd T-shirt and an olive-green ball cap, walked into the bank at 612 Second Avenue at around 4 p.m. and handed the teller a note saying he was armed, although he showed no weapon during the incident, police said.

The teller stuffed cash from her drawer into a clear bank bag and handed it to the man, who strolled out the front door and was last seen heading south on foot along Fredenburg Street.

Meanwhile, the incident was captured by a security camera, producing several clear shots of the man's face.
The MT couldn't be bothered to print a picture of the varmint.

But judging from the description, he's in his fifties.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Sexist? Or just funny? It's a Sony Playstation ad. (Thanks to Drudge.)

So Ronery and Sadry Arone

Opinion Journal tells where to go to get a look inside North Korea. Start with the "North Korean Zone" blog.

Little Wet

Jackson Hole:

Blue aborted takeoff in his 1957 Flaglor HighTow biplane and, along with his passenger, survived the crash into the water. The plane was supposed to fly over the Music in the Hole concert waving American flags Tuesday....

""Because it's an experimental airplane and there were no fatalities, I released the airplane back to the pilot,"? said Jennifer Kaiser, air safety investigator for the National Tran-sportation Safety Board in Denver. ""We will do an investigation by talking to the pilot."?

The Old Lyman House

Bill Miller in the Mail Tribune:
His struggle to keep his family home together never got any easier. For a while, he hired a caretaker who lived in a trailer behind the house, but Lyman didn't have the energy or money to keep up with necessary repairs. After he died in 1991, the new owners did their best to keep the house together, but it was already too late. A few years ago, they moved out — it was just too dangerous to live in...
Just down the road from us, the Lyman house is sixty years past saving. Take a few more pictures, and then, mercifully, bring in the bulldozers.

Dimensionally Challenged

Paul Johnson ponders height, breadth, depth, intelligence:
For most of my life, being six foot one, I have loomed over the majority of men and almost all women. Now, at the local Sainsbury's, where queues are constant as they are too mean to employ enough staff, I find I am often out-topped by young fellow-queuers, sometimes even by girls. Many of the young men are enormous, six-and-a-half, even seven feet. Female six-footers stride along the pavements, elbowing elderly dwarves out of the way....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Judgment, Resolution, Steadfastness

Derbyshire on Bush:
In the 2000 campaign GWB was asked to name his favorite philosopher. He named Jesus. I don't for a moment doubt his sincerity or his piety. Trouble is, Jesus was not a philosopher. The Bible is full of inspiration and spiritual insights, but as a handbook for conducting worldly affairs, it needs to be taken with a dash of, well, worldliness. Taking in strangers may get you robbed. Turning the other cheek may get you killed. All men may be equal in the sight of God, but it does not follow that all kids are equally capable of doing Advanced Placement Calculus.

Look, I come at politics as a Tory pessimist, with low expectations.... The main things I want from a president are good judgment, the resolution to act when action is necessary, and the steadfastness to see difficult but necessary tasks to completion. GWB actually has two out of those three. Certainly he is capable of resolute action; certainly he has the stubborn staying power to see things through.

The actions, however, must be right actions, based on sound judgment; the determination must be applied to necessary tasks. It is there, in the judgment area, that GWB falls down as a president. He trusts his own instincts too much, is too sure of his own spiritual convictions, and has too little understanding of the lives of un-rich people....

Supremes To Attempt Omniscience

Oh, great. Now the Supremes will decide global warming:
The case, Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency, involves the regulation of the emission of so-called greenhouse gases that could contribute to global warming and lead to climate change. On the one side of the case are eleven different states - among them Massachusetts, California, and New York - that argue that the EPA already has the right to curtail the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

On the other side is the Bush administration, which is arguing the Clean Air Act, which was originally enacted in early 1970s before global warming was issue or a concern, does not give the federal government the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
I predict a 5-4 decision that leaves everyone deeply unhappy.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 230th!

"The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 03, 2006

Astronomy Picture of the Day

A panorama of Mars. Or possibly west Texas.

Daley Illustration Gallery

Lileks discovered the Daley Illustration Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. The web site has hundreds of images large enough to enjoy but not hi-res enough to steal. Lose an hour enjoying sci-fi artist John C. Berkey along with the work of dozens of other illustrators.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Estonian Style

Sonkajarvi, Finland:
Finishing upside down clinging to a man's back may not be the most graceful way of winning gold, but it sure helped Sandra Kullas and Margo Uusorg to the world wife-carrying crown on Saturday.

The Estonians were among 40 pairs from eight countries who competed in the annual event in Sonkajarvi, in central Finland.

They raced along a 250-metre track, complete with pools and hurdles, with the men running or walking and carrying the women on their backs.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

My Little Town

Lizzy and I set out at 6:45 this morning with full packs (full of nothing, but full anyway, just to prove we could do it) to climb Nugget Butte. I took this shot from about 1200 feet above the valley floor on our way down.

The river runs between the town and the freeway but it's completely obscured by trees in this view.