Thursday, August 31, 2006

This War Will End In Victory

The enemies of liberty come from different parts of the world, and they take inspiration from different sources. Some are radicalized followers of the Sunni tradition, who swear allegiance to terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. Others are radicalized followers of the Shia tradition, who join groups like Hezbollah and take guidance from state sponsors like Syria and Iran. Still others are "homegrown" terrorists—fanatics who live quietly in free societies they dream to destroy. Despite their differences, these groups form the outlines of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology. And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam.

The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation—the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism—the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty.
—President Bush addressing the American Legion

The Demotion of Pluto

Lileks sums up:
In the end, however, the decision was made and forgotten.

The planets continued their elegant gavotte, heedless of the names mere humans gave them. People were reminded once again that science is not a fixed thing, but a malleable, evolving set of ideas that adapts to new challenges.

Intelligently designed as our science is, we must always keep a skeptical view. One day string theory explains everything; the next day string theory falls from vogue like narrow lapels or rockabilly, and another theory explains this wondrous cosmos.

In the end, Pluto is a warning, a cautionary tale. Many things we believe may turn out not to be so, after all.

Except for man-made global warming. Only an idiot doubts that one.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Media Log

Fifteen years ago when I rode my bicycle to work I stopped every morning to buy the Wall Street Journal--seventy-five cents--from the machine. Later I would read it, mainly the opinion pages but occasionally the front page or the arts & entertainment, over lunch. I always watched for the byline of a certain writer whose prose I savored. My fantasy at the time was that if I won the lottery or found gold deposits in my back yard, I would send a blank check to the Wall Street Journal and ask them to fill in the appropriate amount and send me in return every word that Dorothy Rabinowitz had ever written.

Ms. Rabinowitz held the post of Television Critic but about that time she began following a more serious story, that of the Amiraults in Massachusetts, accused of unspeakable crimes which they did not commit and imprisoned for life, Violet Amirault dying penniless at the age of 74 after eight years in prison. Ms. Rabinowitz collected her thoughts on these and similar cases in a book published in 2003: No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusations, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times, which I highly recommend, provided you can control your rage as you read it.

I've not seen much of Ms. Rabinowitz lately; perhaps she has semi-retired or taken up other projects. Or maybe she publishes only in the print editions and not online. But this morning she appeared again in the Opinion Journal, taking up the JonBenet Ramsey case. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Freelance Jihad

The Mercury News:
One man has died and at least 15 people were injured when a Fremont man purposefully drove his sport-utility vehicle onto sidewalks and crosswalks in San Francisco and Fremont today, according to San Francisco police....

The driver was in police custody. His name was not immediately released, but Department of Motor Vehicles records show the license plate on the SUV is registered to Omeed A. Popal of Fremont.
Omeed Aziz Popal?

What the hell kind of name is that?

Afghani, that's what. Muslim? No doubt.

Reagan and Reason

Governor Reagan, you have been quoted in the press as saying that you're doing a lot of speaking now on behalf of the philosophy of conservatism and libertarianism. Is there a difference between the two?
Read the whole interview here.

Land Of Rum And Rumba

Caroline Overington in The Australian:
The old woman - a grandmother, probably - was sitting there not because she was a happy little communist, as Fidel Castro would have it, not because she was thrilled with his socialist revolution, but because she was dirt-poor and hungry.

Aged 70 or older, she was in a gutter begging, hoping that a Western tourist such as me would come by, see her pretty dress and her gap-toothed smile, and exclaim: "Oh, look at you! May we take your photo?" Of course she would agree, and stick out a bony hand for an American dollar.

Elsewhere, we found barefoot children searching through rubbish bins for food. There is a large black population in Cuba - many of them are descendants of sugar-cane cutters - and there were many blacks among the beggars. Women with babies at the breast tugged at our clothes, begging for pennies.
Thanks to BureauCrash for the reference.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fighter Chicks

Bama, Gringa, Grinder, Rusti, Bo, Silo & Cheetah.

They fly F-16s at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Check out their web site.

Greg saw it first.

Planet or Not, Still a Star

It's been a bad week for the lord of the underworld, says the Language Log:
You'd think that Pluto had just lost a contract with Viacom. Everyone has been worrying about whether Pluto is a planet or not, thereby proving that planet or no planet, Pluto is still a star...

Aussies and Kiwis

It's all forest fires, all the time, at the Nugget Newspaper in Sisters, Oregon. Here's just a sample of the headlines:
  • Highway 242 reopened today
  • Forests continue to burn west of Sisters
  • New fire breaks out south of Mt. Jefferson
  • Smoky air causes health problems
  • Fire camp: An instant city arises
  • Sisters opens hearts to firefighters
  • Airlift supplied Black Crater fire spike camp
  • There's a silver lining in the smoky cloud over Sisters
  • Sisters residents get a critical lesson in defensible space
  • Firefighters gain upper hand on Black Crater Fire
  • Fire delays middle school start
  • Firefighters battle to contain spread
  • Smoke forces closure of Highway 242
  • Aussies and Kiwis help battle blaze
Interestingly, we import firefighters from down under:
The fight to quell the Lake George Fire is an international effort - aided by a contingent of nine Australians and New Zealanders.

The Aussies and Kiwis are detailed to the blaze as part of a mutual aid agreement between the United States, Australia and New Zealand that first put folks from Down Under on American fire lines in 2000. Americans reciprocated during horrific southern hemisphere fire years in 2002 and 2003.

While the nations lie literally a world apart from each other, the arrangement makes good sense. For the most part, our fire season and theirs are at the opposite ends of the calendar.
Great photo galleries, too.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Twenty Years On

David Henry Handy hasn't changed. A little older (but who could tell?) a little wiser (ditto); but still the same old Dave.

This isn't Dave, of course, this picture here; this is me. Dave's computer sat there, as Macintoshes will, taking it all in, including this surveillance photo of yours truly swilling the bottom half of the second bottle of Duck Squat Merlot I'd brought along to oil the aging machinery (which in spite of the rust and grime ran well enough) of friendship.

Dave affects the persona of the low-life but his aristocratic roots betray him: even in the lowest strata he'd be the upper crust. This is a man who, in fine linen and reeking of gin, could hold his own in any Manhattan penthouse. Not that I have ever been to Manhattan or seen a penthouse, but I have reeked of gin a few times, and that permits me to confidently assert that Dave, if anyone could, could.

On leaving I stepped out into a neighborhood I've known since my teens, and for a moment I felt the frustrated agoraphobic--in the most public of places, no one saw me, and no one looked. I've spent thirty years in this town, but I don't know it and it doesn't know me.

Dave, on the other hand...

Update: Dave might have seen it a little differently.

Hitchens On Hewitt

Greg emerged from the daily news bath with one rubber duck: a conversation between Hugh Hewitt and Christopher Hitchens. As Greg says, when you get two people who differ so radically but who still respect each other's opinions, it's bound to be interesting.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Gun Nut Uses Semi-Naked Daughter to Load Weapons

Totally distracted by his new job in Salem, Oregon, Gullyborg nearly spaced out the Carnival of Cordite, but managed, with ten minutes to go, to pull it together. A classic link-fest, he says, by way of apology. Hey, we don't mind.

Particularly when it includes cuteness like this.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hell On The Tarmac

8.45am Passengers begin boarding flight VS63 from Gatwick to Havana

9.30am Flight due to depart

10.00am Passengers finish boarding. Doors closed

11.00am Crew announce there is a technical problem which will take 15 minutes

11.30am Passengers told they are waiting for a spare part

1.30pm Crew announce the spare part has arrived. Take-off "soon"

2.45pm Passengers told inflight meals may have to be replaced. If not cleared for take-off by 3.30pm crew won't be able to fly

3.25pm Plane begins to taxi for take-off

3.35pm Take-off stopped

3.45pm Captain says plane has a misshapen tyre and will have to go back to the terminal

4pm Flight cancelled. Police board plane amid fears of rioting

4.30pm Passengers are allowed off but told they must wait for their luggage

Virgin Atlantic said: "This was a unique set of circumstances and we'd like to apologise for any inconvenience caused."
Well, go ahead. Say you're sorry.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mrs. Astor

WFB fell of the radar screen so I missed his column of August 8th wherein he relates the sad story of an old friend, Mrs. Astor.
...Mrs. Astor? Her husband died in 1959 and she settled down in her apartment in New York and disbursed $200 million to people and institutions in need....

She sent money everywhere, not least to blighted parts of the city where John Jacob Astor amassed the fortune which five generations later she was spiritedly dissipating. But in 1983 she resolved to train her energies and focus her philanthropy on the world of books. She is even today, at age 104, the honorary chairman of the board of trustees of the New York Public Library and who knows, they might figure out a way to keep her presence in sight in the board rooms when she has passed on.
One hundred and four? John Jacob Astor? Oh, those Astors.
In 1953, eleven months after Charles Marshall's death, she married her third and final husband, Vincent Astor (1891-1959), the chairman of the board of Newsweek magazine and the last notably rich American member of the famous Astor family. The only son of Titanic victim Colonel John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) and his first wife, Ava Lowle Willing, he had been married and divorced twice before and was known to have a difficult personality.
History I can kind of keep straight, but society makes my head spin. Still, these stories fascinate. In college once an old socialist professor moaned some dirge about the "growing disparity between rich and poor" and I replied that I thought it would be a pretty boring world that didn't have fabulously wealthy people in it.

It would, too. Good for Mrs. Astor, and the best of luck to her.

British Pilots Lose Patience

Meanwhile, across the pond, airline officials and pilots are fed up with security measures and delays. RyanAir CEO Michael O'Leary said last week that measures such as banning shampoo and lipstick in carry-on bags are "farcical, Keystone Cops-like and completely insane and ineffectual.... We are not in danger of dying at the hands of toiletries." He said he would sue the government if security is not restored to normal levels within a week. His airline lost about £2 million during the latest security crisis. Pilots also have been banned from taking contact-lens solution into the cockpit, The Mirror reported. "There is no logic at all in this," said Capt Mervyn Granshaw. Another pilot told the Sunday Herald it was ironic that his glasses were taken away for security reasons. "While my glasses were deemed potentially deadly dangerous items, I once again took my seat at the controls of 185,000 kilos of aeroplane, people and fuel and managed to restrain myself from taking the crash axe to all and sundry prior to rolling, inverted and diving, into the Channel," he said. Another pilot said: "It's high time BALPA [the British pilot's union] and our representatives exposed these shameful rules for what they are -- some half-witted mandarins making up petty and useless rules to justify their existence, with equally inept and stupid people interpreting the rules."
From AVwebFlash verbatim.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Defending The Bush Doctrine

With a full page in the Wall Street Journal at his disposal, Norman Podhoretz takes on all the President's critics, including the neocons, and finally, himself:
In thinking about George W. Bush's neoconservative critics, I am guided by the lesson I learned from the fate of my own very similar criticisms of Ronald Reagan: not the hagiographical Reagan celebrated in conservative song and story, but the real Reagan, the Reagan who both did and failed to do many things that his idolatrous admirers have chosen to forget....

Rereading these pieces today, I am amazed to discover that they were right in almost every detail even though they were dead wrong about the ultimate effect. For what these acts of Reagan's turned out to be was a series of prudential tactics within an overall strategy that in the end succeeded in attaining its great objective.
Print it out and save it. You'll want to read it again in ten years.

Grigory Perelman

John Derbyshire:
Several readers have asked me to comment on Grigory Perelman's turning down the Fields Medal (i.e. mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize). Well, he's an odd bird. Forty years old, lives with his Mum in St. Petersburg, doesn't answer the phone. Apparently he has given up math, though whether for philosophical reasons (which might be interesting) or personal ones (which probably wouldn't be), I don't know.

The current New Yorker has a story on Perelman & his proof of the Poincare Conjecture, which now looks pretty solid. I shall read it when I get through catching up after a week's vacation... which is to say, around Christmas.

For the Poincare Conjecture, see p.283 of Unknown Quantity. For a living mathematician even more eccentric than Perelman, see sections 15.6 to 15.8 of same book.
I have Unknown Quantity on my shelf, and I shall read it when I get time... which is to say, around Christmas.

Eliminate Terrorist States

Walter Williams:
Currently, the U.S. has an arsenal of 18 Ohio class submarines. Just one submarine is loaded with 24 Trident nuclear missiles. Each Trident missile has eight nuclear warheads capable of being independently targeted. That means the U.S. alone has the capacity to wipe out Iran, Syria or any other state that supports terrorist groups or engages in terrorism — without risking the life of a single soldier.
But do we have the will to use it?

Islam Is A Terrorist Organization

Michael Graham:
One year ago this month, I was fired from my talk radio job by ABC/Disney for saying on the air — and in these pages — that "Islam is a terrorist organization."

My argument was very simple. Any organization that allows terrorists to operate freely in its name; whose ideology is, rightly or wrongly, used to justify and promote terrorism; and whose membership includes, according to every international poll, hundreds of millions of devotees who support suicide bombing — that organization has a unique problem with terrorism.

That's what I said. ABC ordered me to apologize for it. They insisted I perform community service as a form of penance for it. I told them I would never apologize for telling the truth, and they fired me.

One year later, I'm back on the air and I haven't changed a bit.

The problem is, neither has Islam.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dead At The Wheel

The Mail Tribune:
[Bus driver Jill Ann] Hilburn, of White City, was driving 19 kids and four counselors south on I-5 when the bus brushed against the concrete median near milepost 29 just north of the viaduct, according to the Oregon State Police.

At that moment, YMCA Assistant Director Sarah Hansen noticed that Hilburn was unconscious. So Hansen, 22, grabbed the steering wheel and stomped on the brakes, maneuvering the Laidlaw Transit Inc. bus safely across one lane and onto the freeway's right shoulder.
An autopsy revealed "hardened and clogged arteries that triggered the attack."

You can't fly a Cessna 150 without a third class medical certificate. But I guess school bus drivers don't even need that.

Steyn In Australia

Mark Steyn delivered the CD Kemp Lecture at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne this week.
Much of western civilization does not have any future. That's to say, we're not just speaking philosophically, but literally. In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don't have a future because...
Because...? Well, you'll just have to read it.

This is Steyn at his best; kind of a medley of his greatest hits, or side-swipes as the case may be. And it's not bad for a high-school dropout, as Simon Mann notes, or a "neo-con humourist", as Matt Price tags him.

Thanks to Greg for the links.

Update: Phillip Adams takes a swipe, too.

Go ahead; stand in line. Take a number.

Little Cranks

Arthur C. Brooks picks up on Tarranto's Roe Effect (although he doesn't call it that):
Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.
So, Democrats raise little Democrats and Republicans raise little Republicans.

Guess I'm raising little Cranks.

Wingtip Vortices

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Those little hurricanes can twist the wings off a Cessna. Ouch.

Newest USAF Thunderbird

Samantha Weeks has joined the USAF Thunderbirds military aerial demonstration team.
She graduated from the Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1997 and earned a Master of Arts in Human Relations at the University of Oklahoma in 2005.

As of July 7th, she had 1,025.2 hours in the F-15, including 105.7 hours of combat and combat support time....

Her father was part of an Air Force maintenance crew on a KC-135 and took her along once on an overseas flight when she was six. They let her sit next to the refueling boom operator as they sailed across the ocean and she got to watch as they gassed the fighters.

"I was about 10 feet from the fighter pilot in his aircraft," Weeks reported, "and I thought that was the neatest thing I'd ever seen and I needed to do that when I grew up."

She entered the Academy in 1993, the first year women were allowed to fly fighters.
Thanks to Greg for the link.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lewis, Clark, and Barry

Much ado was made this past weekend about President Bush reading Camus this summer.

That's nothing.

Dave Barry read a history book.

  1. The Stranger (Camus)
  2. Undaunted Courage (Stephen Ambrose)

Deadly Condition Spreads

The Economist, Aug 18th 2006 (subscription only; sorry):
OBESITY is no longer a problem for the rich world alone. The World Food Programme estimates that 3m people in southern Africa will remain short of food this year because of grinding poverty and the world's highest rates of AIDS. Yet a rising number of people in the same region, especially women, also risk damaging their health because of another form of malnourishment: they are overweight or even obese.
Bob Malthus was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Papal Legacies

John Paul I: The pill is a no-no.
John Paul II: Commie ain't cool.
Benedict XVI: Take it easy.
Speaking during his Sunday address at his summer residence south of Rome, the pope quoted from the writings of St Bernard of Chiaravalle, who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

"We have to guard ourselves, the saint observed, from the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of the office one holds, because too many concerns can often lead to hardness of heart," the pope said.

The Reason For Leis

Curry Coastal Pilot writer Joe Friedrichs on the recent San Francisco to Oahu race:
Reaching dry land after 17 adventurous days on the open seas, Timm Rolek was handed a Mai Tai and a flower lei.

The drink was to quench his thirst and reward his hard work on the ship.

The lei was to cover the overpowering body odor accumulated during the voyage.
Not exactly poetry, Joe.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It's Them Or Us

Victor Davis Hanson finds reason to hope:
Three years ago no one was talking about profiling at airports. Now the British are exploring how best to do it. Indeed, one of the stranger developments in recent memory is now taking place the world over: Young, Middle-Eastern, Muslim men are eyed and studied by passengers at every airport — even as governments still lecture about the evils of the very profiling that their own millions are doing daily. Muslims can thank al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and an entire culture that won't condemn terrorism for such ostracism, which only increases with each suicide bomber, human shield, hijacking, kidnapping, and macabre reference to genocide and Jew-killing.

In an amorphous war of self-induced Western restraint, like the present one, truth and moral clarity are as important as military force. This past month, the world of the fascist jihadist and those who tolerate him was once again on display for civilization to fathom. Even the most timid and prone to appeasement in the West are beginning to see that it is becoming a question of "the Islamists or us."

In this eleventh hour, that is a sort of progress after all.

Kashmiri Jihad In London

Turns out the latest terror plot originated in Pakistan.
Five years after 9/11, Pakistan remains a deeply problematic ally in the war on terror. Despite regular promises of cooperation--and the occasional arrest of an al Qaeda bigwig from a safe house in Karachi or Lahore--the country continues to draw terrorists from Birmingham to Bangalore. Gen. Musharraf presents himself as the last line of defense between the mullahs and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, but in fact, as has been amply documented by the Pakistani diplomat and scholar Husain Haqqani, the relationship between the army and the jihadists is symbiotic rather than adversarial. The army plays up the terrorist threat in order to consolidate its position in Western capitals, while at best turning a blind eye to the violence they export.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Crescent Lake International

Now paved!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Safe For Now

Opinion Journal:
The 29-foot cross atop the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego is safe, for now, from the atheist litigant who wants it torn down. Congress passed legislation this summer to make the local memorial a national one, using the federal government's eminent-domain power to buy the land on which it sits. And this week President Bush approved the purchase. In effect, his action should move the cross out of reach of the California law that has been wielded to ban it and under the protection of the First Amendment.
Those who know me well know that I'm neither religious nor anti-religious.

I do know, though, that if God were shopping for real estate on the North American continent, he'd be looking in the San Diego area.

Gel-Filled Bras Encouraged

A travel alert from the TSA says, and I quote:
We encourage everyone to pack gel-filled bras in their checked baggage.
You'd better do as they say.

(Thanks to Improbable Research for spotting this one.)

After The Fighting, The Squabbling

Max Boot:
Now will come the political reckoning. Some might see this fractiousness as a sign of weakness. Just the opposite is true. Arab societies tend to attribute their shortcomings to outsiders, a failing apparent in a meeting in Jerusalem last week with Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, who blamed the prevalence of autocracy and theocracy in the Middle East on (who else?) the West. Israelis, by contrast, look within for the source of their misfortune. That allows them to correct what went wrong and get stronger in the future. This process is now underway, and Israel's enemies would be well advised not to underestimate that nation's fighting capacity, no matter how wrenching the debate.

Suing For Their Rights

The Medford Tribune:
Three separate property owners have filed a $7.5 million suit against Jackson County contending their approved Measure 37 claims don't live up to the promise of the land-use law.

Raymond and Pearl Zerr, Terry and Sherry Larson and Ron and Sandra Briery served Jackson County officials with the lawsuit Wednesday.

Filed by Ashland attorney Mark Haneberg, the suit alleges the county hasn't removed restrictive zoning that has been placed on the plaintiffs' properties and hasn't given them the ability to transfer the property to a new owner.

"All the county does is give them a 50-page document that tells them things they can't do," said Haneberg.
Press for punitive damages, too.

Underwire Bra Checks

Last week marked the first official admission that everything government airport screeners have been doing until now is completely pointless — unless you're an airport security guard with a thing for women's undergarments, in which case it's been highly effective.
Fortunately, Ms. Coulter's not easily embarrassed.

Grim Reaper Turned Aside

Julia Gorin narrowly escaped:
Like most Soviet-era fetuses conceived in Russia by couples who were already parents, I was scheduled for abortion as a matter of course. In a society where abortion was the only form of birth control, it wasn't uncommon to meet women who had double-digit abortion counts. Often a couple would schedule the appointment before they even stopped to remember that they wanted a second child.
And her father, as well.

Wall Street Journal Poll

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Defense of Ann Coulter

In The New Republic?
That is why I love Ann Coulter. Coulter shocks and offends, but underneath her offensiveness is a grain of truth that people cope with by critiquing her hair. Americans like comfort: comfort food, comfort shoes, comfort pundits to reinforce everything we already believe. Ann Coulter is not comfort. I love that she pisses people off. I love her outsized confidence, rare in females who've gone through puberty, which means she doesn't turn into a pile of stuttering mush when an interview turns to her body. I love the way her face flickers devilishly for just a second when an interviewer wraps his own noose--the joy tinged with a bit of sadness, as if to say, Oh what fun this is, but do you have to make it so easy?
Go figure.

In Memoriam

Hilbert the Hamster has died.
No more the rattle of the wheel
Or scratching at the water-spout;
No more that microscopic squeal
Of pleasure, when the food's put out.

That living warmth my hands once held,
That gaze of slightly nervous trust,
Those squeaks of pleasure now are stilled;
All gone, as spirit ever must.

Where you now dwell the water's sweet
As honeyed wine to human lips;
There rodents all in friendship meet—
No scratching fights or envious nips.

The wooden shavings there are deep,
The sunflower seeds heaped high as hills;
No reason there to pine or weep,
As each his plump cheek-pouches fills.

Your life was brief, your needs were slight.
We kept you warm, and clean, and fed.
And now you dream through death's long night,
Laid safely in your garden bed.
--John Derbyshire, remembering Hilbert 2005-2006, r.i.p.)

Jay Leno

To give you an idea how expensive gas is getting, in Pennsylvania Amish country there has been a rash of horse and buggy jackings.

In Today's Paper

I'm surprised the MT even bothered to mention this one. Usually people have to die before an accident becomes news:
...About three hours later at 8 p.m. another serious crash was reported on Interstate 5 near milepost 39 south of Gold Hill.

Few details were available other than a car left the interstate and fell down an embankment. No details were given as to the driver's gender or identity, but officials did say the person was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford with serious injuries.
Most of the reported details are wrong. Lizzy and I were about a quarter mile behind when the accident occurred. We saw it all, except for what actually initiated it.

A car struck a pickup (or the other way around), and the pickup crossed the freeway, rolled over the guard rail, and down an embankment. As we drove by, Lizzy looked at the pickup and said, "Whoever was in that pickup is dead." We stopped and a couple of other men and I went down the bank to check.

The man in the pickup was beat up pretty bad and was hurting, but he was conscious and not bleeding. We cut away his seat belt so he could breathe easier, but the door was too smashed up to pry open. EMTs arrived within minutes.

What Went Wrong in Iraq

Historian John Keegan reviews the book by Thomas Ricks.
Few would disagree with the analysis in "Fiasco." It is not, however, a complete explanation of what went wrong. Mr. Ricks makes several convincing points about what underlay the insurgency, notably the supreme importance of the value of respect for personal dignity in Arab society. He notes how, at least in the early stages of the occupation, American forces too often showed unconcern for Iraqi dignity--by performing too many tasks and conducting too many operations unilaterally. But he does not take account of what may underlie the whole insurgency, which is the rise of Islamic militancy across the Muslim world.

America was so certain that what it had to offer--modern government in an incorrupt and democratic form--was so obviously desirable that it failed altogether to understand that the Iraqis wanted something else, which is self-government in an Islamic form. It is too late now to start again.

All that can be hoped is that the U.S. Army will prevail in its counterinsurgency and, as Mr. Ricks's gripping accounts of the troops in action suggest, it may still. His description of Marines "attacking into an ambush" leaves one in no doubt that American soldiers know combat secrets that their enemies do not and cannot match. Whether pure military skills will win the war, however, cannot be predicted.
John Keegan is the author of The Face of Battle, my current nightstand book.

Monday, August 14, 2006

More Than Pure Evil

It's not about how many dozens of imperialists we can kill.

It's about how many millions we can inconvenience at airports for decades to come.
David Malki illustrates the point.

Thanks to Lucianne for showing the way.

Girls With Guns

Resistance is futile! caught hell last week for publishing pictures of girls with guns, but he's back at it this week with pictures that will give the Brady Bunch conniption fits.

Mercy sakes! It's the Carnival of Cordite #69.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

'Nother Jug O' Dingo Red?

A lot of people in this country pooh-pooh Australian table wines. This is a pity as I've just discovered that the Columbia Crest Merlot I've been drinking going on two years now tastes like carburetor cleaner next to this [yellow tail] Merlot from Australia.
Silky smooth and easy on the palate. This wine is a great ""slurper"? with juicy, ripe fruit flavors, complemented by aromas of dark plums and a touch of mint and soft vanillin oak.
Got a kick on it like a mule, too.

Naive All Along

Thane Rosenbaum has second thoughts:
For six years I was the literary editor of Tikkun magazine, a leading voice for progressive Jewish politics that never avoided subjecting Israel to moral scrutiny. I also teach human rights at a Jesuit university, imparting the lessons of reciprocal grievances and the moral necessity to regard all people with dignity and mutual respect. And I am deeply sensitive to Palestinian pain, and mortified when innocent civilians are used as human shields and then cynically martyred as casualties of war.

Yet, since 9/11 and the second intifada, in which suicide bombings and beheadings have become the calling cards of Arab diplomacy, and with Hamas and Hezbollah emerging as elected entities that, paradoxically, reject the first principles of liberal democracy, I feel a great deal of moral anguish. Perhaps I have been naive all along.
Keep thinking. It's a long process.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Chump Change

"If you stipulate that everything people allege was a mistake in Iraq, even if you stipulate that they all were actually mistakes rather than judgment calls about which reasonable men could differ and could have had worse consequences if they'd gone the other way--even if you stipulate that all the critics are right, these 'mistakes' are chump change compared to the mistakes that were made during World War II by great leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt, and the lives that were squandered, thousands and thousands of lives uselessly squandered. . . .

"But even with these mistakes," he continues, "this country was indispensable in defeating the two great totalitarian threats of the 20th century. It was this despised bourgeois civilization that turned out to be the one bulwark against those monstrous enemies of humanity. I feel the same way today about Islamofascism."
Norman Podhoretz interviewed by Joseph Rago in Opinion Journal.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

This rocket carried the experiment that led to the discovery of the Van Allen Belt.

James Van Allen died on August 9th at the age of 91.

Five Best: Pacific War

Stanley Weintraub picks the Five Best firsthand accounts of the war in the Pacific
  1. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Ted Lawson
  2. Baa Baa Black Sheep by Gregory Boyington
  3. Goodbye, Darkness by William Manchester
  4. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax
  5. Hiroshima by John Hersey

An interesting mix. First published, respectively, in 1943, 1958, 1979, 1995, and 1946.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Girl And Her Pigs

The caption read, "Hannah Berg, 14, rests with her pigs Goober and Grub before the initial weigh-in. Berg is part of a group representing Klamath Falls called the Forty Swiners."

She's too young to remember, but a good many of the Herald and News readers will immediately be put in mind of Al Capp's Moonbeam McSwine, who preferred the company of pigs to men.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Elkhorns

William L Sullivan gave a talk in Baker City recently:
Sullivan can tell you how to get to any trail in the Elkhorns.

What he can't tell you is why these mountains have stayed a secret while the Wallowas, their similar though somewhat taller neighbors to the east, lure thousands of backpackers every summer and are frequently compared to the Alps.

"So many people drive past the Elkhorns on their way to the Wallowas, and they really don't realize you have the same granite peaks, the nine-thousand-foot mountains, the wildflowers, but you don't have the same crowds you do in the high Wallowas," Sullivan said....

"In the Elkhorns you can drive to seven-thousand feet — on a paved road," Sullivan said. "In the Wallowas you have to walk miles and miles to get to seven thousand feet."
It's all in his book, of course.

Good-Bye at Fukushima Station

Masami hugs Lizzy good-bye at Fukushima train station on Wednesday.

Lizzy's back in the U.S. now, but not yet home. She's boarding her plane in SFO, and will be in Medford in two hours.

Fidel Castro Meets the Angel of History

How Israel Fights

The Israeli commander was the first through the door, and promptly took a bullet through a lung. The Israelis fired back. When the smoke cleared, all three Hezbollah members were dead. The Israeli commander was still breathing — but only barely. Another commando was also seriously wounded.

As the commandos left — their two wounded on stretchers — they were attacked by Hezbollah gunmen spilling out of nearby buildings. Israeli helicopter gunships hovering nearby laid down a covering fire, allowing the commandos to retreat to their original landing area. After a military doctor performed emergency surgery that saved the commander's life, the whole team flew back to Israel.

These mission details sound like something out of a Hollywood film. But the truly amazing part of it is that the mission happened at all. Instead of risking the lives of its most elite soldiers, Israel easily could have dropped a bomb on the building and taken out their targets while they slept.

Why didn't Israel do just that? Because as well as serving as a barracks for Hezbollah, the building also contained civilians. And Israel didn't want to spill their blood. Hezbollah may wage war while hiding behind women's skirts and baby rattles. But Israel stubbornly adheres to a more humane creed.
Read the whole thing.

Darwin Award Nominee

Man dies opening grenade with sledgehammer

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
A Brazilian man died on Tuesday when he tried to open what police believe was a rocket-propelled grenade with a sledgehammer in a mechanical workshop on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Another man who was in the workshop at the time of the explosion was rushed to a hospital with severe burns, a police officer told Reuters. The workshop was destroyed and several cars parked outside caught fire.
Thanks to Greg and Lucianne.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Koichi Abe, Yukari's father, manages a convenience store. Just for fun, he has outfitted Lizzy in the store uniform and taught her to bag groceries. Really, she's a natural:

Yes. I'd like a bottle of Pocari Sweat, a liter of rum, and, uh... what's that on the shelf behind Koichi's shoulder? Yeah, a pack of Luckies!

That'll be ¥2497. Paper or plastic?

Two Gentlemen

Seated left to right Valentine, Thurio, and Silvia.

As you can see, the costuming and sets are a little non-traditional. Valentine, Proteus, and Julia come from an Amish-like community; in Milan they play tennis, golf, and croquet; and the bandits in the forest wear nose rings, black studded leather, and mohawks. Oddly, it all works.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Zionist Lizard

Used to be the camera didn't lie. That was the reporter's job. Nowadays you can't be too sure.

Thanks to Lucianne for the suspect photo.

Update: Numerous examples of "fauxtography" here.

Mine Was A Schwinn

Paul Johnson on the pedal bike:
For me, the second half of the 1930s was the age of the bicycle. I put up with hand-me-downs from my older brother and sister until the glorious moment when, thanks to the munificence of a godfather, I actually acquired a brand-new Raleigh, all to myself. Nothing I have ever owned has given me one quarter of the pleasure of that sparkling machine, with its three gears, light and dynamo, and its graceful, tingling carriage in all weathers. It gave me a freedom I had never before dreamed of possessing and which, when I think deeply about it, I have never really enjoyed since.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Extra Comma, $2.13 Million

Via the Language Log, a $2.13 million dollar punctuation mistake.

They wrote:
[The agreement] shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.
They meant to write:
[The agreement] shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.
In my opinion they could better have used two sentences:
The agreement shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made. Thereafter the agreement shall continue for successive five year terms unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.
But then, I'm not a lawyer.


Three More Days

On Thursday Lizzy boards a 747 and leaves Japan at 4:05 PM. She'll fly nine hours, and arrive in San Francisco at 9:20 AM the same day. Pretty neat trick if you ask me.

Left to right: Yukari, Lizzy, Masami, and Syoko. In front: Yuichi.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

172-182 Mid-Air

Toronto Star:
A flight instructor and a student pilot are believed to be among three people who were killed in a collision above a farmer's field northwest of Toronto.

The Transportation Safety Board is probing the cause of yesterday's rare mid-air collision between the Cessna 172 from the Brampton Flying Club and a Cessna 182 from Burlington Airport....

Debris from both of the four-seater aircraft was scattered about a kilometre apart in fields on either side of Willoughby Rd., just north of Charleston Sideroad, about 2 kilometres west of Highway 10.

Murder As Tragedy

Brian M. Carney on "World Trade Center"
One fact about the movie that has received considerable mention already is that it screened well with teenagers, many of whom were too young to perceive clearly what was done five years ago next month in New York and Washington. Will they come away from the film thinking of that day as a tragedy or as an atrocity? Mr. Stone would seem to prefer the former. But universalizing the meaning of the movie risks trivializing it. New York was not hit by an earthquake on September 11, 2001....

This is not a minor point. The mass murderers who planned and supported the killing of thousands on that day still wish us ill. As long as that is true and they retain the capacity to attempt similar atrocities in the future, it remains a fact about that day that we cannot afford to forget. To the extent that "World Trade Center" encourages us to forget it, it does a disservice to its viewers.

"World Trade Center" tells a powerful story about the basic goodness so many people felt and acted on in the wake of a heinous act. But to the extent that it omits any direct reference to the crimes that made those good deeds necessary, its version of the truth is incomplete.
As I've said before, I refuse to watch the films of Oliver Stone. His "histories" consist mostly of lies, and when he cannot lie, he omits the truth.

Firefighting Sikorsky Down

Happy Camp, California:
The pilot and co-pilot of a Sikorsky helicopter were killed Friday evening when their aircraft plunged into the Klamath River.

Terry Wayne Jacobs, 48, of Wofford Heights, Calif., was identified Saturday afternoon as the pilot of the Heavy Lift Helicopter Inc. chopper out of Apple Valley, Calif...

The accident occurred near milepost 28.63 on Highway 96 near Happy Camp around 7:45 p.m. Friday, according to the Siskiyou County sheriff. A dive team from the department helped retrieve the bodies from the river Saturday....

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jean Gilbertson said the helicopter was owned by a private company working under contract to the agency. No additional information about the crash would be given to the media until a National Transportation Board team completed its investigation, she said.
NTSB accident information will be posted here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Most Important Activity

Hence, in a way, it is that the most perceptive of all the comments about Waterloo is the best known and apparently the most banal; that it was 'won on the playing-fields of Eton'. The Duke, who was an Etonian, knew very well that few of his officers were schoolfellows and that football bears little relation to war. But he was not speaking of himself, nor was he suggesting that Waterloo had been a game. He was proposing a much more subtle idea: that the French had been beaten not by wiser generalship or better tactics or superior patriotism but by the coolness and endurance, the pursuit of excellence and of intangible objectives for their own sake which are learnt in game-playing--that game-playing which was already becoming the most important activity of the English gentleman's life. Napoleon had sent forward each of his formations in turn. They had been well led; many of the British speak with admiration of the French officers' bravery. But they had not been able to carry their men with them the final step. Each formation in turn had swung about and gone back down the hill. When at last there were no more formations to come forward, the British still stood on the line Wellington had marked out for them, planted fast by the hold officers had over themselves and so over their men. Honour, in a very peculiar sense, had triumphed.
--John Keegan, The Face of Battle

Philippine Officials: Volcano May Erupt

Philippine Volcano: Thank you, don't mind if I do.

(What would we do without Philippine officials?)


Trout Trek

How did 1000 brook trout make it up to North Emerson Lake in the South Warner Wilderness?

Would you believe on horseback?

Port Web Cam

At the Port of Brookings-Harbor.

Looks a little overcast this afternoon. Wish I was there.

Hazing Sea Lions

Sounds like a fun job:
Every morning, a full time staffer from the Port of Gold Beach takes a boat to the area near the Rogue River bridge and uses firecrackers to pester the seals and sea lions out of the area. The sweeping operation continues toward the ocean until all of the animals have left the river, Lottis said. The worker then posts up at the mouth and uses more firecrackers as needed.
Of course, they had to get special permission to do it, since Congress forbids us to
...disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.
Don't so much as disturb their breathing.

Cougar Scats and Tracks

I saw cougar tracks near the summit of Nugget Butte this morning. I didn't have my book with me so I made a sketch and noted the dimensions. When I got home I compared my drawing to the one in the book: perfect match. I saw cougar scat, too.

Friday, August 04, 2006

COC #68

Gully has just posted Carnival of Cordite #68.


Human Shields

Mojitos All Around!

Mario Loyola thinks it likely that Fidel has already reached room temperature:
Meanwhile, it is satisfying to see how perfectly and inevitably Castro's life is coming to a Stalinesque end. It was on March 4, 1953, that the Kremlin announced that Joseph Stalin had suffered a stroke four days earlier, and that power would temporarily be held by a group of senior leaders. On March 6, it was announced that Stalin had died the night before. At his funeral, three of the new leaders made speeches, the order of the speakers marking the new order of precedence.

Less than two weeks after that, the new premier (Malenkov, the most senior party leader after Stalin) was forced to resign his most important post. By the end of the year, the second (Beria, the head Stalin's secret police) had been secretly arrested and executed. Two years after that, the third (Molotov, Stalin's foreign minister) was named ambassador to Mongolia.

Out of nowhere, Nikita Khruschev had emerged to assume complete control of the Soviet Union. And of course, one fine day many years later, it was announced (and not by him) that Khruschev had resigned all political offices, due to old age and deteriorating health."... And on and on went the history of the Soviet Union, until the day it finally died, when a group of would-be coup leaders explained in a press conference that Premier Gorbachev had been taken ill, and some reporters just started laughing.

The Brink of Madness

This place is starting to look familiar, says Victor Davis Hanson:
...what is lost sight of is the central moral issue of our times: a humane democracy mired in an asymmetrical war is trying to protect itself against terrorists from the 7th century, while under the scrutiny of a corrupt world that needs oil, is largely anti-Semitic and deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, and finds psychic enjoyment in seeing successful Western societies under duress.

In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.

Jennifer's Wild Ride

The Mail Tribune:
Medford police contacted the California Highway Patrol and asked them to keep an eye out for the speeding vehicle. The highway patrol spotted the car in Siskiyou County and gave chase as it sped down the Siskiyou Pass at speeds of 125 to 130 mph, said CHP officer Seth Jennings. Near Yreka, Jennings and his partner laid down spike strips that punctured the front tires on the fleeing car. The car was still moving at 75 to 80 mph and within two miles, the tires had disintegrated and the car was riding on its rims, Jennings said.

Still, the woman driving the car sped southward, shredding the PT Cruiser's metal wheels and recklessly forcing other vehicles off the road, Jennings said....

Nearly 30 miles from where Jennings deployed the device to puncture the Cruiser's tires, officers finally stopped the car when its wheels ground down to the brake drums near Weed, Calif., police reported.

They arrested the driver, Jennifer Mae Collins, 24, of Long Beach, Calif. She was lodged at the Siskiyou County Jail...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mysterious Crop Circles

Gallery in Wired News.

Thanks to Dave for the tip.

100 Degrees In Minnesoter?

Heat's done drove Garrison Keillor mad:
The governor also wants to bring back capital punishment. Hail, yes! It's been more than a century since we had public hangings here in St. Paul and about time we get back to it. With this heat, we're going to have sex criminals galore, serial killers, traitors, blasphemers, hermaphrodites wanting to marry flag burners, you name it, and I say hanging's too good for that scum. Let's burn them at the stake, and let's stone the adulterers and cut the hands off the thieves. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. Hand me down another pint of busthead, honeypie, and fry us up some possum, and you children hush or I will clobber you so hard you'll be seeing stars for a week.

Hot enough for me? I thrive on heat, Precious. Heat is my natural element. And seeing you walk around barefoot in that little ole dress is getting me hot and bothered. Never mind the possum. Come here and sweeten up to your papa and then let's go out and shoot some beer cans.
If'n Mr. Keillor did go out an' shoot hisself some beer cans, he might feel better.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reversed Ailerons

The NTSB Preliminary on the Spectrum 33 crash in Utah last month:
Examination of the translation linkage on the aft side of the aft pressure bulkhead revealed that it was connected in a manner that reversed the roll control. Specifically, the linkage was connected such that left roll input from the side sticks would have deflected the ailerons to produce right roll of the airplane, and right roll input from the side sticks would have deflected the ailerons to produce left roll of the airplane.
Don't we generally check that during preflight?

Thanks to Aero-News.Net

Firefighting C-130

Klamath Falls Herald and News:
Since July 20, members of the 156th Airlift Squadron from the Air National Guard based in Charlotte, N.C., have flown two C-130's out of Klamath Falls to fight massive fires in central and southeastern Oregon.

Give the Guy a Break

John Derbyshire doesn't like Mel Gibson but still:
As little as I care for Mel and his splatter-fest Brit-hating oeuvre, though, I care even less for the schoolmarmish, prissy, squealing, skirt-clutching, sissified, feminized, pansified, preening moral vanity of the vile and anti-human Political Correctness cult. Here they come, piling on poor old Mel with all the Two Minutes Hate buzz-words that, they so fondly think, demonstrate their own dazzling moral superiority for all the world to see: ""bigot,"? ""racist,"? ""abhorrent,"? ""spewing,"? ""hate-filled,"? etc., etc., ad infinitum.

The guy was drunk, for heaven's sake. We all say and do dumb things when we are drunk. If I were to be judged on my drunken escapades and follies, I should be utterly excluded from polite society, and so would you, unless you are some kind of saint.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Die! Die! Die!

I can't wait to ignore the hagiographic obituaries in the mainstream media.

Die, you evil bastard. Don't keep the Devil waiting.

Let It Burn

The Mail Tribune:
Federal officials plan to let a small lightning-caused fire burn all summer through a remote part of Crater Lake National Park, taking advantage of the flames to clear brush and improve wildlife habitat.

The so-called Bybee fire, which ignited during a spate of lightning July 23, had reached about 40 acres late Monday in the Bybee drainage along the park's western slopes....

Fire specialists expect to see the eventual return of open meadows, snags for cavity-nesting birds and an overall healthier natural space, [fire information officer Patti Wold] said.

"It's good for wildlife," she said. "The elk and deer will be happy."
Well, that's what counts, isn't it?