Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Girls With Guns

Carnival of Cordite #78 is up at Spank That Donkey with graphic supplied by Cowboy Blob, who also has posted (just in time for Halloween) some really scary pictures on his site.

Let's Clarify That...

"You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck on stupid."

Some More Absent Than Others

The Wall Street Journal surveys the new voter ID requirements. Nearly half the states now require one form or another of identification, but...
Many of the new in-person voter requirements don't apply to absentee or early voters, a fact often derided by opponents of voter-ID laws since the most-documented type of voter fraud involves absentee voting.
I suspect that's why "we" keep "electing" Democrats here in Oregon.

Read Carefully

The Register-Guard runs an article on voter distrust:
Judy Bonn, a Walterville-area retiree, voted for measures 41 and 48, calling them fair controls on how state government spends taxes. She has scant trust in government - be it the local, state or federal level.

"There's a good percentage of them that can just go away at all levels," she said. "We are taxed and taxed and taxed, and there's never an attempt by government to explain why the taxes happen, or to try to live within its means."

Bonn directs particular ire at the Lane County income tax measure, which she called "totally deceptive."

The ballot language states that a "yes" vote would limit the government's taxing authority. Voters must read an accompanying informational insert to learn that voting "yes" also enacts the tax.
Jackson County tried the same slimeball trick on Measure 15-67.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Warm Fuzzies

From the Daily Mail. (Click to enlarge.)

Measure 45

Well, as I mentioned, we've voted on term limits before, so I figure most people will vote this time the same way they voted last time and it's not worth arguing about.

But I don't buy the argument that if term limits passes a bunch of old, experienced lobbyists will be leading the newbie congressmen around by the nose. If the lobbyists really believed that, they'd be sitting on the sidelines quietly hoping for term limits to pass. They're not. They're spending thousands of dollars to fight the measure. Obviously they've got those old, experienced legislators well trained and they don't want to lose their investment of time and money.

I'm not sure we want skilled, experienced lawmakers anyway. It depends, I guess, on how you measure the productivity of the legislature. If you measure it by the quantity of new laws they crank out, the number of new programs they create, and the speed with which they burn through our tax dollars, then you definitely want an experienced, professional, ruling class. Personally, I'd feel safer with a bunch of rank amateurs.

And finally people say that term limits on the other guy is alright, but our guy's doing a good job and we want to keep him. It's not a "three terms and you're out" measure, it's "three terms and you move up". Six years in the House, eight years in the Senate, then run for Governor or U.S. congress or whatever. The politicians can adapt to it, plan to train replacements, get the new guys going, and move up the ladder. If they can't manage that, they can always get a real job.

America Alone No Longer Available

The "seller you selected" was Amazon itself.

Mark Steyn's America Alone is #14 on New York Times Bestseller List (week of November 5, 2006) and Amazon doesn't have any copies in stock. Nor can they recommend another seller.

Fortunately you can order it direct from the author, and autographed to boot.

Whatever You Say, Sweetie

Michael Barone says that sometimes it matters who's asking.
The late Warren Mitofsky, who conducted the 2004 NEP exit poll, went back and found that the greatest difference between actual results in exit poll precincts and the reports phoned in to NEP came where the interviewers were female graduate students -- and almost all the discrepancies favored the Democrats.
Next time they should hire some cute Republican grad students and see what the guys tell them.

Politics Not Science

Bangor, Maine, Oct. 30 (UPI):
The general manager of two TV stations in Maine has ordered his news department to stop covering global warming until "Bar Harbor is underwater."

Michael Palmer told the joint news staff of WVII and WFVX in an e-mail that global warming stories are like "'the killer African bee scare' from the 1970s or, more recently, the Y2K scare when everyone's computer was going to self-destruct."
And if they don't, fire them.

The Times Demand Decision

A Wall Street Journal article talks about editorial impartiality:
Early American newspaper publishers scoffed at the idea that they should hide their political prejudices under a cloak of objectivity. "To profess impartiality here," wrote William Cobbett in his Federalist newspaper, Porcupine's Gazette, "would be as absurd as to profess it in a war between virtue and vice, good and evil, happiness and misery." The motto of the Gazette of the United States, which began publication in 1789, was "He that is not for us is against us."

And a New Jersey printer wrote in 1798, "The times demand decision; there is a right and a wrong, and the printer, who under the specious name of impartiality jumbles both truth and falsehood into the same paper, is either doubtful of his own judgment or is governed by ulterior motives."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Shoot Him Again, Clem!

Poughkeepsie Journal:
Democrats who cast votes after they died outnumbered Republicans by more than a 4-to-1 margin.
Jeez, whatta you gotta do to kill these varmints?

How I Voted Part Two

Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.
—W. C. Fields

This year I'm voting against the Democrats.

If BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) has driven them into the Osama bin Laden camp, fine. Nuke 'em all. They asked for it.

Voting for Republicans is nothing new to me—I voted for Reagan. The story improves with the telling, of course, and the truth is I actually voted against the Sandalistas of Lane Communist College, but still. It turned out rather well, didn't it, what with the Berlin wall, and all?

What everyone wants to know this fall is will the Republicans lose the House or the Senate or both. The answer is neither and if we're lucky we'll have it settled by Christmas, but I doubt it.

Anyway Oregon's out of the loop because neither senator is up for re-election and the congressional districts are so completely gerrymandered that none will change parties. I'm voting for Greg Walden anyway, because his opponent is a Democrat.

I don't care who's running against our Democrat governor Ted Kulongoski, either. If his only opponent was an old yellow dog, the dog would get my vote. This year the dog's name is Ron Saxton. Nice boy; sit. Ted, go home. Git.

Our state representative Dennis Richardson sent us a newspaper clipping last spring about Lizzy going to Japan, along with a handwritten note of congratulations. That gesture probably won him two more votes, except I would have voted for him anyway because his opponent is a Democrat.

As for Oregon Supreme Court judges, it's pretty obvious that Virginia Linder is a liberal and anyway Gully says that Jack Roberts is alright, so I'm voting against Linder.

The office of circuit court judge doesn't really matter to me, and they're not allowed to say which party they belong to either, but it's pretty obvious that Greif's a liberal and Grensky's not, so I'm voting against Greif.

Once you get beyond that point on the ballot it's no longer partisan—it's personal.

It gives me particular pleasure to vote against county commissioner (position 3) Dave Gilmour, whom I loathe. I'm also voting for Jack Walker (position 1) because he, in turn, will vote against Dave Gilmour on every issue that comes up, should Gilmour get re-elected to the commissionariat. Which he shouldn't.

The big issue locally is civilian control of the police force, and that issue carries over into the race for Sheriff. Everyone inside the department seems to favor Tim George. Mike Winters's only friends are on the outside. That says to me that he must be doing something right.

I had intended to write a little background on the Gold Hill Police mess but the Mail Tribune has saved me the trouble by publishing a couple of articles this morning that cover it pretty well, including this timeline. In a third article they dig into the archives and note that Gold Hill's police department troubles go all the way back to 1961. Crackpot cops. A proud tradition for 45 years!

A small town of one thousand people, located on the interstate highway midway between two major metropolitan areas, does not need, and can not afford, its own three-man police force. Back in 2000 we contracted temporarily with the Jackson County Sheriff for full time on-call service at a rate of $6500 a month. That seems to me about right.

So I voted against the local option tax. I've already decided to vote for Allan Jennings for mayor. The question remains of who to put on the city council. There are four positions open and only two people bothered to file: Wolf and Silva. Four other people have put up signs offering their names as write-in candidates. Three of them clearly support the police department. The other guy, Bob Barry, I've never heard of. His one-word slogan is "Accountability". That will have to do.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sunrise, Sunset

Biased?

The Wall Street Journal looks a polls and pundits and asks How Reliable Are Forecasts?

Short article, nice graphics, clear points, no conclusion. Like the polls, you can read into it what you like.

Federalism—Not Civil War

Judith Miller says one region of Iraq is doing well.
The secret of Kurdistan's relative success so far—and of America's enduring popularity here—is the officially unacknowledged fact that the three provinces of the Kurdish north are already quasi-independent. On Oct. 11, Iraq's parliament approved a law that would allow the Sunni and Shiite provinces also to form semi-autonomous regions with the same powers that the constitution has confirmed in Kurdistan. And while Kurdish leaders pay lip-service to President Bush's stubborn insistence on the need for a unified Iraq with a strong centralized government, Kurdistan is staunchly resisting efforts to concentrate economic control in Baghdad.

The U.S., Mr. Barzani believes, should leave it to the Iraqis to decide if they want "one or two or three regions." Then, he adds: "But it already exists. The division is there as a practical matter. People are being killed on the basis of identity." As for Baghdad, "it should have a special status as the federal capital. But the rest should be regions that run their own affairs. Or they should be separate. Only a voluntary union can work. Either you have federalism with Baghdad as a federal capital with a special status, or you have separation. Those are the facts."
We could use a little more federalism in these United States too.

Friday, October 27, 2006

How I Voted Part One

I've never been a fan of the Australian ballot. If you're fixin' to do something as despicable as votin' for that low-life varmint, you ought to just come right out and say so.

Secret ballots are for cowards and wimps. We didn't even have them in the U.S. until 1892. Which come to think of it is just about the time all this cowardly wimpery got started.

So without beatin' around the bush any longer, here's how I voted and why. If you don't like it, get your own ballot. They're free for the asking here in Oregon. Ask twice and they'll give you two.

Measure 39. Yes. Hell, yes. I chipped in a chunk of money to get this thing going because I believe in private property rights. Maybe you don't mind the county taking your house and giving it to Lowe's for a parking lot. I do.

Measure 40. Yes. That Multnomah County clique has dominated the courts long enough. If the courts just decided cases it wouldn't matter. But if they're going to write laws, then we deserve to have proportional representation.

Measure 41. Yes. A tax cut. Who could object to that? People who live off your taxes, that's who. Public servants is what they like to call themselves, but I personally think they're more closely related to ticks and tapeworms.

Measure 42. No. This is a dumb idea but a lot of people will vote for it because they hate insurance companies. And if it passes the insurance companies have only themselves to blame because when you lie down with dogs you get up with ticks and tapeworms.

Measure 43. Yes. I have two daughters. That's all I'm going to say about it.

Measure 44. No. I've written about this already. The State is not your mommy.

Measure 45. Yes, but I wouldn't blame you a bit if you voted No. Anyway, didn't we already vote on this?

Measures 46 and 47. No. I've written about this already. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will not be repealed by the voters of Oregon. If you don't like what people are saying, say something different. You have no right to make them shut up.

Measure 48. Yes. Who's better at spending your hard-earned money? You or your indigent Uncle Ted? Did you say Ted? Whoa. Take it easy now. Put the pencil down. Step away from the ballot...

Measure 15-66. No. I've written about this already. I used to love libraries. I've spent a huge chunk of my life in libraries. But there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.

Measure 15-67. No. The ballot title says "Permanent Tax Rate Limit." Bull. It's a permanent new tax. Don't take the bait.

Measure 15-72. No. I'm voting against the Gold Hill Police Department. More on that in part two.

Dixie in Denial

Florence King reviews Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War by David J. Eicher, giving her a chance to expound on one of her favorite subjects—good ol' boys.

Purcell v. Gonzalez

A week ago today the Supreme Court told Arizona it could go ahead and require voters to show ID before voting.
Given the imminence of the election and the inadequate time to resolve the factual disputes, our action today shall of necessity allow the election to proceed without an injunction suspending the voter identification rules.
Justice Stevens added an interesting note.
Allowing the election to proceed without enjoining the statutory provisions at issue will provide the courts with a better record on which to judge their constitutionality. At least two important factual issues remain largely unresolved: the scope of the disenfranchisement that the novel identification requirements will produce, and the prevalence and character of the fraudulent practices that allegedly justify those requirements. Given the importance of the constitutional issues, the Court wisely takes action that will enhance the likelihood that they will be resolved correctly on the basis of historical facts rather than speculation.
In other words, call us back when you have a real problem.

Not Suitable For Children


This blog refuses to give up its PG-13 rating, so Zeta Woof will have no comment on some of the larger political stories this fall.

But I will note that while John Hawkins and Larry Elder got their licks in early, it took Matt Drudge to deliver the knockout blow. James Webb is toast, and deservedly so. Thanks, Matt.

Ratbert Raises The Bar

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Least I Think That's What I Smell

Barry Ritholtz says the political futures markets I mentioned yesterday don't really have much predictive power.
The bottom line is that there are few, if any, predictive powers of Political Futures Exchanges. Once you get past the lack of acuity markets have in general, there are simply too many additional problems with these minute exchanges. They are too small, have too little money at stake, and are therefore readily susceptible to undue "influence."
So have fun watching them, but don't bet the farm.

More Good News

Otto J. Reich on NRO:
This time the rumors are real: Castro is dying of stomach cancer. He may have already died, even before the funeral preparations were finished, so the news is not out. Confirmation of the terminal illness comes from the usual sources but in a non-conventional manner. The Cuban government has been summoning to Havana representatives of the major international media to negotiate the best seats, camera angles, and interviews with the despot's political survivors, and to inform them of the ground rules for coverage of the state funeral.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

Via Language Log a link to Scott Adams's Blog, where he tells about the miracle cure for his case of Spasmodic Dysphonia, a neurological disorder that robbed him of the power of speech.
Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It happens to people in my age bracket.

I asked my doctor — a specialist for this condition — how many people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero.
But this guy's an engineer. It's just a bug in the software. Eighteen months later he found the fix.
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.

I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it's just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.

My brain remapped.

My speech returned.

Not 100%, but close, like a car starting up on a cold winter night.
I can't wait to hear what Steven Pinker has to say about this.

That Idiot Cole Reeves

The Mail Tribune has another story about Glen Bogart, the hunter who is recovering from a gunshot wound.
The accused shooter, 36-year-old Cole Reeves, was cited by police Friday on a misdemeanor charge called "unintentional wounding of another." This 20-year-old statute is what police say fits this circumstance, which is preached against regularly in hunter-safety courses that are mandatory in Oregon for juveniles but not adults.

"The reason why we have a hunter-safety program is to keep scenarios like this from happening," says Sgt. Colin Fagan of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

"It's about knowing your target and what's beyond," Fagan says.

Reeves, who told sheriff's deputies that he took a hunter-safety course as a teenager, faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $500 fine if convicted. A conviction also would carry a mandatory 10-year suspension of his hunting privileges in Oregon.

Jean Bogart, Glen's wife, scoffs at the citation.

"A $500 fine is ridiculous," Jean Bogart says. "He probably won't do any jail time. I don't think it's right at all.

"All I know is, we're going to get stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars (in bills) because of this idiot," says Jean Bogart, whose husband owns an auto-detailing business and has no health insurance.

Programming Error?

The Wall Street Journal has a list of things that could go wrong.
In recent elections, though, the new equipment has sometimes baffled election workers, who are often retirees. In 2004, Carteret County, N.C., poll workers didn't notice the warning lights indicating a touch screen's memory was full, for example, and lost 4,438 votes....

In Mercer County, Ohio, this fall, votes cast for Democrats went instead to Libertarians because of a programming error....
Yeah, right.

I wonder. Will the FOIA allow us to "open source" the code?

Subject To Fate

VDH in Works and Days:
I wrote about the daily changing wisdom in Fields Without Dreams, and how fickle human nature is, rather than looking at things in a tragic sense that there are no great choices, but often just bad and worse, and that wisdom is predicated mostly on the perception of success. In 1982 I picked early and thereby avoided a horrendous tropical storm that ruined the industry, saving thereby 200 tons of raisins that sold for over $1400 a ton; in 1983 I picked early again, the clouds blew away, and in weeks of perfect weather I produced lousy, sour, and light raisins, selling scarcely 140 tons for $400 and lost far more than I had made the year before. I was neither a genius the year before, nor a fool the next, but rather did the best I could in both years, recognizing that we are still subject to fate, despite our vaunted technology and knowledge. I am not advising helplessness, simply some recognition that the verdict is out on Iraq, and what looks bad today, might look far better very soon—and that erstwhile supporters turned vehement critics might well reinvent themselves a third time.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Where Our Property Taxes Went

The bill arrived today; up 2.5% from last year. It could have been worse. It will be worse—about 13% worse—if Measures 15-66, 15-67, and 15-72 pass. I'm voting NO on all of them.

*Urban Renewal. Justice Clarence Thomas cited the term in Kelo V. New London.

'Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

Somehow last week I missed this bit of news.
By the slimmest of margins and with even the majority divided over the reasons, the Oregon Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision reached on Oct. 19, ruled that Measure 3—approved by voters in November 2000—is constitutional.
You may or may not recall that Measure 3, approved by 67% of the voters, required a criminal conviction before property forfeiture. Some law enforcement agencies found this sort of due process inconvenient, preferring instead to seize and sell property first and deal with all that evidence gathering and courtroom stuff later—if at all.

Six years later four judges on the Oregon Supreme Court decided that 952,792 Oregonians just might be right. If just one of those judges had changed his mind...

That's why the election of Jack Roberts matters.

Vigilantes

Frederick Turner says death squads are roaming the streets of Baghdad and that's reason to hope.

This Isn't Personal

William F. Buckley Jr. on Nancy Pelosi:
Her directness of speech was a subject Lesley Stahl of CBS's 60 Minutes elected last week to emphasize, asking just how did she intend to achieve her goal of bringing civility back to Washington given the language she tends to use about Republicans. Pelosi, viewers were reminded, has called her Republican colleagues "immoral" and "corrupt," suggesting that they were backing a criminal enterprise. Stahl said: "I mean, you're one of the reasons we have to restore civility in the first place."
Pelosi says it isn't personal.
"It sounds personal."

"This isn't personal."

"[You say] he's incompetent—"

"Well, I think he is."

"Well that's personal."

"Well, I'm sorry, that's his problem."

"How does this raise the level of civility?" Stahl is yielding to despair on the point.

"Well, we're in a political debate here. We didn't come here to have a tea party together, and toss a coin to see who would win on an issue. I have very thick skin. I don't care what they say about me."
Hey, we don't either.

Heading North

mAss Backwards:
I'm done twiddling my thumbs, [gripin'] about it. I'm taking my family, my guns, and my tax dollars (and, oh yeah, my Beavis bobblehead) off of this sinking ship and heading north to cast new roots in the fertile soil of freedom and personal responsibility. My final vote as a Massachusetts resident will be in the form of one [big] moving van....

Yes, someday in the not-so-distant future, I'll be able to drive an uninsured vehicle, without my seatbelt on, to a gas station, and buy a six-pack of beer, while openly wearing an unlicensed handgun on my hip (not to mention the five-dollar, plastic Tom Reilly Memorial Slingshot I'll have tucked away in my back pocket), and not be in violation of at least five state laws, if I so choose.
Sounds nice.

Horse Race

Barrons predicted that the Republicans will retain control of the House 224 to 211 and the Senate 52 to 48. Their methods were a little unusual:
We studied every single race -- all 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate -- and based our predictions about the outcome in almost every race on which candidate had the largest campaign war chest, a sign of superior grass-roots support. We ignore the polls.
The most scholarly of the psephologists, Michael Barone, who predicted last April that the Republicans would retain control, now says that his numbers show a Democrat majority of 219 to 216, but
...we probably won't know it on election night. There will be some races too close to call, others where the absentee votes remain to be counted, and, as John Fund has suggested, others where the result will be litigated.
Dick Morris, who keeps his ear to the ground 24/7 (ask Sherry Rowlands why he does that) says that as of October 24th, it's a toss-up:
The latest polls show something very strange and quite encouraging is happening: The Republican base seems to be coming back home. This trend, only vaguely and dimly emerging from a variety of polls, suggests that a trend may be afoot that would deny the Democrats control of the House and the Senate.
What about the smart money? Intrade still says the Republicans have a 68.5% chance of retaining the Senate, and a 32.3% chance of keeping the House. But they appear to be bottoming out.

And in a futures market it's the trend that counts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Recurrent Nightmare

Hail, friends of all that's grand and good,
Hail, foes of all that's wrong—
Come join our world-wide brotherhood,
And help our cause along.
Together we will win the fight
With strength drawn from on high;
Dispel the wrong, enthrone the right,
And make the whole world dry.

Chorus:
We'll work for Prohibition
Wherever men are found;
We'll fight the liquor traffic
In earth's remotest bound;
Come, join this mighty army,
Help raise the battle cry!
Rally now with us,
Be up and ready,
We'll make the whole world dry!
From all the lands below the skies
Where liquor still holds sway,
Prayers and petitions daily rise
That God will speed the day
When from the drink they may be free—
That day is drawing nigh!
We'll live that glorious time to see
When all the world is dry.

A band of brethren here are we,
United in one aim,
To bring a joyous liberty,
To ev'ry land the same;
Against King Alcohol we fight—
"Forward" our battle cry;
We move in God's eternal might
To make the whole world dry.
(Chorus)
For God and home and native land
And for our neighbor, too,
We pledge ourselves, as hand clasps hand
We'll see this struggle through.
Then up and ready let us be,
Prepared to do or die,
Until there comes the victory
When all the world is dry.
(Chorus)

Nobody Wants It, It's Too Popular

Steyn Online has a note to Canadian readers:
We have had hundreds of complaints today from would-be customers unable to find copies of the book in Chapters, Indigo, Coles, SmithBooks or any of the other aliases of Canada's multi-appellated monopoly bookstore chain. It's not our fault and I'm afraid there's nothing we or the publishers can do about it. Heather Reisman doesn't want to sell it and that's that. And that's what happens in as coercively regulated a cultural environment as the decayed Dominion's. Try Amazon Canada, where it's been Number Two on the bestsellers all weekend, even though, as one Calgary Chapters clerk told a thwarted customer, nobody wants it. If you're weary of listening to excuses from Canada's monopoly retailer as to why they didn't order a book that hit the Top Ten 24 hours after publication, try the SteynOnline store's premium fast-track UPS shipping option for Canadian customers who'd like the book within a few days.
Mark.... Mark, if I can just interrupt for a minute....
Mark. Shut up.

Media Time and Blog Time

John Podhoretz, October 24, 2006, 08:11:59:
For those who follow political news, there are now two kinds of time: Mainstream Media Time and Blog Time.

If your clock's set to Mainstream Media Time, you believe for a certainty that the Democrats are poised to win 20 to 40 seats in the House of Representatives, thereby taking control of that body for the first time in 12 years....

If your clock is set to Blog Time, you believed all that at the start of last week. By last Thursday, however, those of you on Blog Time began to discern a change: Suddenly, things weren't quite so bad for Republicans or quite so great for Democrats....

By definition, Blog Time is fast. Very fast. The advantage blogs have over the mainstream media is speed - commentary coming at a furious pace. And a blog addict's sense of political time speeds up as well.

For example, most people who follow the news probably don't know much about Harold Ford's blunder last week. But blog readers have already inhaled thousands of words and multiple interpretations of it.

To them, the Ford news is already old. They probably assume Tennesseans have already seen footage of it, drawn conclusions from it and changed their voting strategies because of it. But have they? Are the Tennessee voters paying attention? Or do they exist on a slower and more deliberate pace - the pace of Mainstream Media Time?
In his science fiction novel The English Assassin, Michael Moorcock's character Jerry Cornelius wore two wrist watches. They ran at different speeds, and sometimes the hands on one turned backwards while the other moved forward.

Toward the Good Life

Paul Johnson:
In the Oct. 2 issue of FORBES I learned that in the five years since the attack on the Twin Towers, America's GDP has increased by $3 trillion. This increase alone is roughly equivalent to the entire output of the world's fastest-growing economy, China. Clearly, scores of millions of Americans are doing better than ever before....

At the same time China and India — once the world's two poorest big countries — are making giant strides toward affluence, each year pulling tens of millions of their citizens into the lighted circle of the good life. I believe that in due course the really wretched parts of the world will learn more from the India-China experience than they have ever been able to absorb from the West. The once poor can teach the still poor. I take an optimistic view of these things.
So do I.

Holocaust Survivor Wants Paintings Back

The Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Dina Gottliebova Babbitt owes her life to a series of stark watercolors she painted more than half a century ago while imprisoned in the death camp at Auschwitz....

Babbitt made a dozen facial images of Gypsy inmates from 1943 to 1945 at the behest of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who discovered her artistic bent after she painted for inmate children a mural of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on a camp wall, drawing the attention of guards and Mengele.

Her mural was based on a fleeting memory after seeing the animated classic by hiding her Jewish star patch and sneaking into a movie theater in her Czechoslovakian hometown. It pulled Babbitt into Mengele's agenda: He had her do color renderings as part of his study of Aryan racial theory. The subjects of the art were then killed.

"I painted very slow," she said.
Pictures at the link above. More background and recent developments at Jewish World Review.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Shut Up

Candidate Dennis Richardson took a stand on all ten ballot measures today, which is a pretty gutsy thing to do considering most politicians try to say as little as possible about anything controversial.

And I'm happy to report that he and I agree 70% of the time.

He is wrong however, and dangerously so, in favoring a YES vote on Measure 46.

Article I, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution, ratified in 1857, states:
No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.
Measure 46 would append a new section to Article II:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the people through the initiative process, or the Legislative Assembly by a three-fourths vote of both Houses, may enact and amend laws to prohibit or limit contributions and expenditures, of any type or description, to influence the outcome of any election.
The "other provision" notwithstood is the freedom of speech.

The problem, Richardson says, is that campaigns cost too much. But consider this: in 2004 the total spending on U.S. House and Senate races was a little over one billion dollars. In a country of 300 million that's about 30¢ each per month.

The problem can't be that we're blowing the price of a candy bar debating the issues of the day. It must be that the wrong people are buying the ink and the pixels and the radio time, and the supporters of Measure 46 want desperately to find some way to make them shut up.

But consider for a moment what a law is.

If you don't obey the law the judge will fine you, and if you don't pay the fine the sheriff will take you to jail, and if you don't go quietly he will put a gun to your head, and if that doesn't convince you he will put a gun to your best friend's head.

The law is not advisory. The law is a gun to your head.

Hindsight

Victor Davis Hanson in National Review:
Iranian-style theocracy has not spread. For all the talk of losing Afghanistan, the Taliban are still dispersed or in hiding — so is al Qaeda. Europe is galvanizing against Islamism in a way unimaginable just three years ago. The world is finally focusing on Iran. Hezbollah did not win the last war, but lost both prestige and billions of dollars in infrastructure, despite a lackluster effort by Israel. Elections have embarrassed a Hamas that, the global community sees, destroys most of what it touches and now must publicly confess that it will never recognize Israel. Countries like Libya are turning, and Syria is more isolated. If we keep the pressure up in Iraq and Afghanistan and work with our allies, Islamism and its facilitators will be proven bankrupt.

In contrast, if we should withdraw from Iraq right now, there will be an industry in the next decade of hindsight exposés — but they won't be the gotcha ones like State of Denial or Fiasco. Instead we will revisit the 1974-5 Vietnam genre of hindsight — of why after such heartbreak and sacrifice the United States gave up when it was so close to succeeding.

Mr. Eric Johnson

James Lileks (Jamus Dakotus) has an amazing story.

Shaq Attack

The Agitator reports that the Bedford County Sheriff's office swore in Shaquille O'Neal, gave him a uniform and a sidearm, and sent him out on a SWAT raid — to the wrong house!

The victim of the botched raid tells about it in his local paper:
I am a local farmer; my wife teaches elementary school; our three children are well-adjusted, ""A"? students.

We go to church, work hard, and pay our bills and taxes.

We are law-abiding, responsible members of society; we have never had reason to fear the law.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 23, 2006, many police vehicles appeared in our driveway. Men in black with flak jackets ran to and around our house.

My wife was at home alone. I drove up and asked, ""What's going on?"?

Men ran at me, dropped into shooting position, double-handed semi-automatic pistols pointed at me, and made me put my hands against my truck.

I was held at gunpoint, searched, taunted, and led into the house. I had no idea what this was about. I was scared beyond description. I feared there had been a murder and I was a suspect.

My wife and I were interrogated about Internet crime. We are not avid computer users; we do not even e-mail.
Oops, sorry. Wrong IP address.

What, No Crank?

Scappoose, Oregon, October 22:
A 69-year-old pilot and a 15-year-old boy were not injured when their experimental plane crashed Sunday afternoon at the Scappoose airport.

Manfred Alexander of Camas, Wash., realized the plane had electrical problems immediately after taking off from the airport with his grandson, Brent Alexander, according to the Scappoose Rural Fire Protection District.

Alexander, who built the 1994 Lancair model 320 plane, returned and landed safely without landing gear, electricity or radio capabilities, avoiding another plane on the runway. The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash.
Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn't a plane have a backup system for lowering the gear?

Cold War Nostalgia

Dave Barry swears he is not making this up:
According to an Associated Press story sent in by many alert readers, the Army recently admitted that in 1963 and 1964, Army scientists went to stockyards in six American cities and "sneaked up on cows and sprayed them with deodorant."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Early And Often

Here in Oregon we don't have Election Day, we have Election Season. The polls opened yesterday and will close on November 7th, although for safety's sake, you'd better put your ballot in the mail a few days early. You can't count on the USPS.

There are advantages and disadvantages to voting by mail. On the plus side, it makes voting cheap and convenient. On the minus side, it makes vote fraud cheap and convenient. Register half a dozen times and you get half a dozen ballots, delivered to your doorstep, which you can fill out in the privacy of your own home. What could be simpler?

Tip to fraudsters: Don't forget to sign each envelope with a different name!

Like anyone checks.

Factions

By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

—James Madison, The Federalist No.10

Can't I just vote for "None of the Above"?

Carnival of Cordite #77

Is is possible to have too much ammunition?

Not if you're Han Solo. Wait. That's not Han Solo. What was that guy's name, anyway?

The debate continues in Carnival of Cordite #77 over at Spank That Donkey.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fall Colors

We hiked the Takelma Gorge trail today to take in the colors. Beautiful weather—an Indian summer.

More People Means More Progress

Opinion Journal:
Around the time the country's population hit 200 million, biologist Paul Ehrlich, always good for a bit of doom and gloom, compared "America's pride in her growing population . . . to a cancer patient's pride in his expanding tumor," according to Time magazine. Stewart Udall, a former Secretary of the Interior, thought 100 million sounded like a better number than 200 million. Messrs. Ehrlich and Udall are still among our 300 million, but their population bomb has conspicuously failed to explode, which may go some way toward explaining why, in the popular imagination at least, this week's milestone did not prompt widespread anxiety about the future.

Dominating The Debate

One of the advantages of not watching the television is that I don't get tempted to discharge firearms in the living room. The disadvantage is that I can't get a sense of who's dominating the debate, especially with local and state candidates who don't get national coverage.
All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that's an alibi for my ignorance.
Will Rogers said that. With the internet he'd have a second alibi.

The cartoon is from Gary Brookins of The Richmond Times Dispatch.

Jack Roberts

Oddly enough, the left-wing Willamette Week has endorsed Jack Roberts for the Oregon Supreme Court:
The rap on Roberts, besides his chromosomal challenge, is that the former business lawyer hasn't been an active member of the bar for more than a decade. That shortcoming is obviously worth noting, but we believe Roberts' brainpower and political acumen are more important....

As for the diversity issue: Without showing disrespect to Linder's impressive pedigree, the Supreme Court already has three justices who spent significant portions of their careers in the attorney general's office, as Linder did. And it has three justices who came from the Court of Appeals, where Linder works now.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court's role is to select those cases for review that justices believe will have the broadest impact. Such work requires a sharp intellect and an understanding of how law affects everyday citizens. The court is stocked with justices who have backgrounds similar to Linder's; it has nobody remotely like Roberts.
Don't take the bait; vote for him anyway. Gullyborg says he's OK.

Thanks to Upper Left Coast who reads Willamette Week so I don't have to.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Kennedy, Hatfield and the USSR

Kevin Mooney of CNSNews.com:
In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan's foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts....

In Kennedy's view, the main reason for the antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s was Reagan's unwillingness to yield on plans to deploy middle-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe....

"Kennedy was afraid that Reagan was leading the world into a nuclear war," Kengor said. "He hoped to counter Reagan's polices, and by extension hurt his re-election prospects."

As a prelude to the public relations strategy Kennedy hoped to facilitate on behalf of the Soviets, Kengor said, the Massachusetts senator had also proposed meeting with Andropov in Moscow -- to discuss the challenges associated with disarmament.

In his appeal, Kennedy indicated he would like to have Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) accompany him on such a trip. The two senators had worked together on nuclear freeze proposals.
Thanks to Never Yet Melted. Paul Kengor's book is available at Amazon.

Epidemiology Meets Moral Idiocy

Christopher Hitchens lancets a boil.
In its latest edition, the Lancet publishes the estimate of some researchers at Johns Hopkins University that there have been "654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war." The figure is both oddly exact and strangely imprecise: It does not clearly state, for example, that all these people have actually been killed...
Thanks to Some Poor Schmuck.

State Senator 3rd District

What chance does a woman and a minority have in ultra-liberal Ashland?

A snowflake's chance in hell: she's a Republican.

Measure 40

The Cascade Policy Institute makes the best argument in favor of Measure 40.
Fourteen of the seventeen current members of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals made it into office, not by being elected, but by being placed there by Democrat governors. Throw in the fact that almost all were chosen from the narrow pool of lawyers in the Portland-Salem-Eugene corridor; add that, as a practical matter, a judge can never be voted out of office; and any ruling on a politically charged topic is automatically suspect, at least to the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who feel they are not represented on the courts. Despite initial appearances, though, this is not a partisan issue. It is a consequence of the way we select judges and hold them accountable to the public....
Read the rest on their beautiful new web site.

Spending Enough On Defense?

Political Futures

Stephen Moore in the Wall Street Journal:
If you want a sneak peak into who's up and who's down in this year's elections, don't seek out John Zogby or some other pollster, call your bookie. Or better yet, go to a gambling Web site like tradesports.com, an online betting parlor headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. What will pop up on your screen are the latest odds on every Senate race. As of Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. Bob Casey was a 87% favorite to wrestle the Pennsylvania seat away from Rick Santorum....

This has great entertainment value for political junkies, but do online betting parlors really have predictive value? Actually, yes, and they offer a nice lesson in how futures markets work. Such markets, which allow individuals to bet on the likelihood of future events, are based on the theory of "the wisdom of crowds"--the idea that a large group of individuals can predict outcomes better than an expert. Or as F.A. Hayek put it: The myriad data necessary for predicting or directing economic outcomes are "not given to a single mind." That's why few stock pickers can consistently outperform the market as a whole.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Allan Jennings

One of the first people we met when we moved to Gold Hill in 1998 was Allan Jennings. A utility worker with the city's public works department, he cleaned out our barely functioning sewer line and replaced a broken valve in our water main—in the pouring rain. Tall and dark with enormous hands and a perpetual scowl, he's a quiet, serious man, and not afraid of hard work. I liked him immediately.

Like most of us in Gold Hill he stayed clear of politics—until this year. In January a local man named Allan Scott Baker angrily demanded the resignations of half the city council. The council members refused to resign. Baker took out papers and collected the necessary 61 signatures.

Jennings wrote a letter to the editor.
Supporters of Gold Hill's recall have shown little to voters as to why three council members should not be allowed to finish their terms. There has been no misconduct by these councilors that rises to the level of deserving to be recalled. This recall is about overzealous supporters of Chief Dean Muchow, who believe no one should question their man.

Fact: Police departments often want to expand beyond the public's ability to support. The responsibility of council members is to set realistic levels for city services. Sometimes that means funding only one to two policemen in a small town. It is not anti-police to not hire more police officers than you need. It's common sense.

This recall is an abuse of the process and is democracy at its worst. It is an attempt to remove councilors who are doing their job by not rubber-stamping everything Chief Muchow wants.
The editor of the Mail Tribune agreed.
In the case of the attempted recall of three council members in Gold Hill, our opposition goes far beyond the philosophical. The targets of that effort are not only innocent of any wrongdoing, they appear to be among the few elected or appointed officials in the town willing to stand up and fulfill their obligations.
In May the recall failed, 95 to 171, 101 to 165, and 101 to 161. The bickering continued. In July Mayor Sherry Young angrily resigned, put her house up for sale, and moved out of town.

Then in August I was surprised to see that Allan Jennings had thrown his hat in the ring.
Jennings has lived in the city for 42 years and said he knows how to "run a meeting and maintain a meeting."...

"The city attorney said I couldn't accept a paycheck as public works employee. But I wouldn't accept a paycheck as mayor," said Jennings, adding he would recuse himself from any vote that might create a conflict.

"I can bow out of any personal issues," said Jennings. "Conflict? I don't know about that. Someone has to prove that to me."
"I'm going to vote for him," I told my wife, "I like Allan Jennings."

Unfortunately, not everyone does:
GOLD HILL — A candidate withdrew from the city's mayoral race Wednesday, saying he had become a target of police harassment.

Allan D. Jennings, a Gold Hill public works employee who was seeking election to the city's highest office, said Sgt. Hank Hobart tried to intimidate him after Jennings filed a complaint with the city that may have ramifications within the Police Department.

"I've been stopped three times in the past weeks," said Jennings. "Hank has written me a ticket, he's called my wife and freaked her out and he's called my supervisor and council members with bogus claims about me. I can't have all this. I'm just a working man."
I'm still going to vote for him. Allan Jennings has lived here for 42 years.

It's Hank Hobart who's got to go.

Ask The Imam

What is the islamic understanding about democracy? Is there any place for it in Islam?
The common form of democracy prevalent at the moment is representative democracy, in which the citizens do not exercise their right of legislating and issuing political decrees in person, but rather through representatives chosen by them. The constitution of a democratic country will be largely influenced by the needs and wants of its people. Thus, if its people want casinos, bars, gay marriages, prostitution, etc. then with sufficient public pressure, all these vices can be accommodated for. From this, it becomes simple to understand that there can never be scope for a democratic rule from the Islamic point of view.

Allah Ta'ala Knows Best,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
What is the ruling on hair gel?
It is permissible to use hair gel.

And Allah Knows Best,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Thanks to Blogonomicon for spotting this madness.

Passing Gas

The maverick cosmologist Tommy Gold suggested that Mother Earth should probably say "excuse me" after she does that.

Refer to chapter eight "Rethinking Earthquakes" in The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels.

Use It Or Lose It

The Economist, Oct 19th 2006 (subscription only, sorry):
Keeping mentally agile protects against dementia but until now no one has known exactly why. One possible reason was revealed at this week's annual Society for Neuroscience conference in Atlanta—at least, for rats. Thousands of new brain cells or neurons grow each day in the brains of rats and, presumably, in the brains of people, too. But only those animals that actively engage in learning get to keep the new cells. In their mentally lazy companions new cells die after a couple of weeks.
The Society for Neuroscience has a press release on Dr Shors's findings.

O.J. Trials for Terrorists

Last year, a New York jury found Lynne Stewart guilty of helping her former client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, communicate with his Egyptian-based group of murderous terrorists, appropriately known as "the Islamic Group."

The blind sheik needed to instruct his followers to abandon a truce and resume murdering innocents, but he couldn't get the message through because, by sheer coincidence, he was in prison for conspiring to murder innocents here in America by plotting the first World Trade Center bombing. So Stewart and a "translator" met with her former client in prison and took his messages for transmission to his followers in Egypt.

With the full constitutional protections Democrats want for terrorists in Guantanamo, Stewart was convicted by a New York jury last year.

This week, Judge John Koeltl — appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994 — spurned the prosecution's request for a 30-year sentence and gave Stewart 28 months...
Ms. Coulter's in fine form this morning.

Pathological Leftist Hysteria

Victor Davis Hanson asks:
What sends liberal criticism over the edge into pathological hysteria?

Is it that George Bush is a polarizing figure, not just in terms of his Iraq policy, but also because of his Christian Texan demeanor?

Or is the current left-wing savagery also a legacy of the tribal 1960s, when out-of-power protestors felt that expressions of speaking bluntly, even crudely, were at least preferable to "artificial" cultural restraint? Why should graying veterans of the barricades, then, remain "polite" when their country's less sophisticated red-state yokels are taking it in the wrong direction?
The Left's propensity to lie—and stand by their lies—can be traced back to the Stalinist 1930s. But at least they affected civility back then.

Our Friend In Pakistan

Tunku Varadarajan reviews Pervez Musharraf's autohagiography:
After five years of Pakistani collaboration with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, not one Taliban leader of consequence has been captured or killed. Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, cries himself hoarse over the Taliban functioning out of Pakistan's western regions and he is treated with open ridicule by Gen. Musharraf. There is precious little, however, that George W. Bush can do about this: He cannot now admit that a man he has called his "ally" for the past five years has been double-crossing him nearly every minute of that time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Bubble Nebula

Spooky. And ten light-years across. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Police Protection Racket

Christine Alford, a former city councilwoman of Gold Hill, has it in for Dean Muchow, the city's latest one-man police department. She makes that clear on a web site that is rambling and incoherent and defies all laws of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. But she's harmless, and easily ignored.

Unfortunately, she got under somebody's skin. On Monday morning nearly a dozen police officers conducted a surprise search of her home, saying they were investigating claims of "identity theft".
Nine officers from five police agencies joined Muchow in the search, entering Alford's residence in the 200 block of Second Avenue in Gold Hill just after 9 a.m. The officers seized her computer system, including discs, two towers and other related items.
Nice computer you have there, Christine. Shame if anything should happen to it.

Ms. Alford got her computer back on Tuesday afternoon, but not before the police had made themselves a complete copy—a bit-for-bit replication—of her hard drive. Think about that for a moment. Think about your computer.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Empty words, I know, but let's parse them a phrase at a time.
to be secure... against unreasonable searches and seizures
Was this a reasonable search? Unless Muchow knows more than he lets on, the "identity theft" consisted of a fake return address in a parody email posted on Alford's web site. Not exactly a felony-caliber offense.
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath
But he swore to the judge that she was probably up to no good, and that was enough to bring ten officers from five different agencies to her door on Monday morning.
particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
To wit: her computer and every bit of data on it. Think about that.

If her computer was anything like the typical home computer, they now have copies of her usernames and passwords, bank account numbers, financial records, personal letters, email messages, photos, songs, videos, games, and her son's internet porn collection. Including files she thought she had deleted—because the computer-savvy can easily recover them.
to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects
Does this kind of police protection make you feel more secure?

Not me.

Ponderous, Sunburned, and Deadly

The fully laden, ponderous, and sunburned British soldier in Africa has become a caricature of impracticality, ignorance, and addiction to material comfort. In fact, he was a far more lethal warrior than his lightly clad, nimble Zulu opponent. The latter has recently be nearly deified on American campuses—tragically so, in the case of the genocidal Shaka—as some sort of irresistible and deadly freedom fighter. He was neither fearsome nor freedom loving. In reality, the most deadly man in Africa was typically a pale British soldier, not much over five feet six inches in height, 150 pounds in weight, slightly malnourished, most often enrolled from the industrial ghettos of England, vastly overburdened with a ten-pound rifle and some sixty pounds of food, water, and ammunition on his belt and in his pack. Such an apparently unimpressive warrior, in fact, would himself typically shoot down three or more Zulus in almost every engagement of the war.
Victor Davis Hanson, Carnage and Culture, Chapter Eight: Rorke's Drift, January 22-23, 1879

Measures 46 and 47

Measure 47 is a complex scheme which attempts to suppress the rights of a certain class of people to speak, write, publish, or broadcast their opinions. This is clearly unconstitutional, hence Measure 46, which abridges the free speech guarantees in the Constitution of Oregon, essentially eliminating them, although the Explanatory statement for Measure 46 concludes:
The measure does not affect the free speech guarantee under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Which is prima facie ludicrous.

Larry Huss in the Sunday Mail Tribune (not online) seemed to consider the measures unimportant because "more than likely the provisions... will be struck down by the courts." Unfortunately there's a very real possibility that the Supreme Court of Oregon could cherry-pick the clauses to they want to strike out and thereby mutate a bad law into a monster. That's the particular fear of Representative Peter Buckley, one of the original sponsors, who now Argues in Opposition:
As a former chief petitioner for Measure 47, I am deeply committed to achieving real campaign finance reform for Oregon. In fact, I helped bring forth these proposed reforms, but I'm now asking you to join me in voting against them.

They won't work.

That's the bottom line. They will make a bad system worse, and give rich individuals a greater advantage than they already have in Oregon politics.
Well said, Buckley, you dope. Why'd you have to sponsor these in the first place?

Vote "NO" on Measures 46 and 47.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nineteen Years Ago Today

Just look at those little lovebirds.

Measure 15-66

Six years ago the Jackson County Library District hit us up for $38.9 million to build some fine new buildings. We got ours in Gold Hill two years ago. I've been in there once or twice. There's a lot of empty space.

Now they're back asking for more money. Measure 16-66 asks for 66¢ per thousand—a hundred bucks a year for most of us—to boost their "modest" budget. I dug around online and found a few numbers. Have a look:

Source: Library District Feasability Report, March 2006.

Has your household budget increased by 50% in five years? I know mine hasn't.

According to the measure's explanatory statement, each year the library loans 1,472,000 items. That's right. Each year they loan out 1.5 million items at a cost of 8.5 million dollars. To spend so much money to so little effect is beyond the ability of the private citizen. That kind of waste requires a government agency.

We'd almost be better off—factor in the cost of those fine new buildings and we would be better off—to give each patron a gift certificate to Amazon: Here, buy your own books. And keep them when you're done.

I don't know about you, but I've had enough. I'm voting "NO" on Measure 15-66.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cheney's Got a Gun (Aerosmith)

The Carnival of Cordite Spirit of '76 Edition is up at Spank That Donkey.

Lots of great stuff, but this post, by Hell in a Handbasket, must have been too late to make the cut.

Pollster's Problem

Dean Barnett:
I was called by a pollster last week and made it only about a third of a way through the poll before hanging up. If a guy who sits behind a computer all day craving any form of human interaction can't be convinced to stay on the phone, who are the losers and outliers that actually participate in these things?

Dinesh D'Souza Disinvited

James Taranto of Best of the Web Today spotted this first, but it's worth reading the article itself.
When I asked D'Souza about the brouhaha, he expressed exasperation at the sensitivity of his critics. "I am coming to speak on one day," he said. "If they think what I am saying is so awful, they have the rest of the year to refute it!" He makes a good point. In the name of protecting the value of racial diversity, the school chose to limit intellectual diversity.
Of course, constructing and refuting arguments is a little beyond some of these people. They're all about expressing feelings.

Cessna LSA

If you put a 152 on a severe diet, it gets weaker. I'm not sure that making the cockpit six inches wider was a good idea. The 152 could barely carry two adults with full tanks. Put a couple of big guys in this and it won't get off the runway.

Aero News and AVweb both have details.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

ATF — and E!

Cowboy Blob says Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms are a few of his favorite things.

Iowahawk would remind us that the Bureau's ever-widening circle of responsibility now includes Explosives.

Measure 44

It's basic economics: There's no such thing as a free lunch.

You know it's true but you just can't see the catch. Measure 44 would expand eligibility for the Oregon Prescription Drug Program from poor seniors to anyone without insurance. The ballot title says it won't cost a thing. What could be wrong with that?

Let me help you out.

Catch #1: When some people get a discount, someone else will pay a premium. It's great when a group of people can negotiate a lower price for the themselves but someone has to make up the difference. If the first five people get to buy their dimes at 9¢ apiece, the next five will have to pay 11¢. You can't get something from nothing.

Catch #2: Someone has to administer this program, and those people won't work for free. The State originally estimated that the program would cost $350,000 for the first two years—twenty cents of overhead for every dollar saved. And that's with only poor seniors eligible. If this measure passes, expect an expanded agency with a multi-million dollar annual budget. You'll get the bill on April 15th.

Catch #3: Who's your daddy? It's bad enough that the poor and the elderly have become virtual wards of the State. This program aims to expand that dependency to as many people as possible. Once you're hooked you probably won't vote to cut your own benefits, will you? That wouldn't make sense.

Catch #4: This is just one more step toward a single-payer health system. First they'll get you used to buying your drugs from them. In a couple more years you'll have to call 1-800-OR-STATE to book your hospital bed. Then your surgeries. Take a number, wait your turn.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

This is Paradise!

Hyok Kang:
The first time I ate chocolate was when I was five years old. My grandfather had relatives in Japan who were given exceptional permission to visit us. They came like extraterrestrials with their arms full of presents and food. I remember waving tins of condensed milk and chocolate bars under my friends' noses. I was a horrid little boy. It was 1990 and I didn't yet know what famine was. I wouldn't taste chocolate again until we escaped to China when I was 13.
Excerpt in The Sunday Times. Available in paperback on Amazon.

Of All Places

Linda Frum of the National Post interviews a fellow Canadian:
LF Is there a quick answer as to why you live in New Hampshire of all places?

MS Long ago I was on an Amtrak overnight train from Montreal to New York and it broke down halfway, and they tossed us all off the train in the middle of the night. They sent a little bus to take us to a neighbouring inn, and I woke up the following morning and thought, "Actually, it's quite nice around here."
Mark Steyn, of course.

Measure 41

The Mail Tribune says "April 15 is closer than you think."
Today is October 15, the halway point to another date with Uncle Sam. If you aren't thinking about your taxes yet, you might want to start.
One good way to start (which of course the Mail Tribune doesn't mention) would be by voting yourself a tax cut.

Measure 41 is a simple as they get. How would you like a personal exemption of $3200 per family member instead of the measly $154 the State of Oregon allows?

You like it? Vote for it.

If you're so liberal that you think the State of Oregon can spend your money better than you can, then you can stick with the old deduction, even if Measure 41 passes. That's right, you'll have a choice. Keep the money, or send it to Salem.

I'll bet even the liberals (liberal adj. 1. giving generously) decide to keep it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?

Now it's The Oregonian. Yes, The Oregonian:
There is a weariness in Oregon and a deep cynicism of government. It seems there is nothing constructive voters would agree to right now, not more money for schools or health care, and certainly not reform of the state's flawed tax system.

Oregon cannot go on this way. This state must change, and the change must begin at the top: Voters should elect Ron Saxton as the next governor.
That's an official endorsement. From The Oregonian.

If this is some kind of cynical ploy to get me to vote for Saxton, it's not going to work. I was never going to vote for Saxton, anyway. I was going to vote against Kulongoski. If that requires punching the hole next to Saxton's name, well, you do what you have to do.

Even if The Oregonian tells you to.

Steep Turn Stalls

James Fallows, a private pilot himself, speculates on the Cory Lidle crash:
Making a 180-degree turn to get out of a ""box canyon"? — a literal one, in the mountains, or an airspace one, like the situation at the top of the East River — is harder than you might think.
And a stall during a steep turn can have unexpected consequences. From the FAA's own Handbook:
An airplane will stall during a coordinated steep turn exactly as it does from straight flight, except that the pitching and rolling actions tend to be more sudden. If the airplane is slipping toward the inside of the turn at the time the stall occurs, it tends to roll rapidly toward the outside of the turn as the nose pitches down because the outside wing stalls before the inside wing.
I've experienced that, and it's very unnerving.

I had put the plane in a steep turn to the right and pulled back on the yoke, applying way more back pressure than I would have under normal circumstances. And then very suddenly the yoke seemed to "break" in my hands as all back pressure disappeared. The plane dropped out from under me, and the outer wing, which had been pointing at the sky, just as suddenly swung down and pointed at the ground. The effect was, I imagine, like having a blowout in your left front tire at sixty miles an hour.

Fortunately I was at 3500 feet over rural Oregon with nothing but clear air all around me and an instructor in the right seat. I pulled the throttle, juggled the rudder pedals, and recovered from the dive. Still, in about five seconds, we lost nearly 500 feet of altitude.

There are two reasons why we practice stalls. The second reason is to learn how to recover from them—if there's time. The primary reason is to learn how to avoid them in the first place.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Measure 39

Kelo.

If that word means anything to you, you know what Measure 39's about. And you already know which way you're going to vote.

If you don't, here's a little story I got from a group called Oregonians In Action.
Want to know why Measure 39 is important? Ask Bob Hogan.

Bob Hogan owns Hogan's Electric Company, a small business located in the Lents neighborhood in southeast Portland. Through hard work and persistence, Bob has created a successful business. But that's not good enough for the City of Portland.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard has decided that Lents could use a natural food grocery store. And he's decided that the best place for the store is Bob Hogan's property.

There's only one problem with Commissioner Leonard's dream — Bob Hogan does not want to sell his business and property. But that hasn't stopped Commissioner Leonard.

Because Bob Hogan refuses to sell his land to the city or a developer, Commissioner Leonard wants to condemn Bob Hogan's business and property, and give Bob's property to a developer to build a natural foods store.

If successful, Commissioner Leonard will destroy years of Bob Hogan's work, and take his land and business. Why? Because Commissioner Leonard wants a natural food store.

Worker's Paradise

The Economist, Oct 9th 2003 [Note the date—three years ago]:
For a country as cautious as North Korea, a lot has changed since a series of economic reforms were announced 15 months ago. One source, an aid worker who recently spent more than a month travelling around the North, noticed many small developments. The electricity supply, for instance, has slightly improved in the capital city, Pyongyang, as well as on the east coast in Hamhung and Chongjin. Apartment-block lights are now on for much longer. Second-hand bicycles, from Japan and China, are numerous, particularly in cities on the poor, industrial east coast. Farmers are allowed their own small gardens, and farmers' markets are now referred to simply as ""markets"?, because, as well as food, they sell consumer goods.
By comparison Cuba is cheery and prosperous.

I found this article while searching The Economist's archives for information on the North Korean economy. This is it. Nothing more recent because, I guess, there's nothing to report.

Baby Sitter Kills Bear

Porthill, Idaho:
Henslee said her sister looked up and saw the bear running out of the woods toward the backyard. She grabbed the three children from the yard and ran inside the house, shutting the door.

After taking the children into a bedroom, the woman loaded a 7mm hunting rifle and returned to the back door, where the bear had pawed the screen door and broken the door frame.

When the bear looked away from the door, Henslee said her sister opened the door slightly and shot twice, killing the bear instantly.
Now here's the good part:
Henslee said her sister had a valid Idaho bear hunting tag.
Because, you know, we've had so many sitters show up just completely unprepared.

Afghan Hazard

Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high.

Thanks to Taranto.

Prepared For An Emergency

Lileks, suvivalist:
Me, I have three bins, and they have everything required for a two-day trip to Fargo by back roads, should the worst case scenario arise and the tripods burst from the ground. Why Fargo? You ask. Because my family has a gas station, that's why, and it's loaded with food and fuel. They have a generator the size of a VW bus and underground tanks full of petroleum. No, I'm sorry, you can't come.

What Was That?

Russell Seitz in Opinion Journal:
Asked the best place to be if an H-bomb goes off, the gadget's legendary father, Edward Teller, responded, "Standing next to somebody who says: 'What was that?"

Few realize that whatever it was that North Korea detonated on Sunday, it packed barely the explosive force of a 10-yard cube of explosive fertilizer. A hundred thousand bucks' worth of ammonium nitrate could produce much the same bang. Far larger quantities of explosives have gone off accidentally in the last century. Sometimes, these big booms claimed thousands of victims, as at Texas City in 1948. Sometimes, they took only one--the night watchman of the fertilizer plant in Toulouse that disappeared from the face of the Earth in 2001.

Since the Dear Leader is as unpredictable as North Korean society is opaque, it's hard to reckon exactly what he did. Yet if Sunday night's rumble was intended as an entry-level nuclear test, it must have been a disappointment. One twenty-fifth of a Hiroshima may scare the hatpins out of the Better Red Than Deadheads making the pre-election TV rounds, but it won't get a grouch like Kim Jong Il a decent table at the nuclear club.
But read the rest.

Peace Through Microcredit

Oslo:
Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for grassroots efforts to lift millions out of poverty that earned him the nickname "banker to the poor."

Yunus, 66, set up a new kind of bank in 1976 to lend to the very poorest in his native Bangladesh, particularly women, enabling them to start up small businesses without collateral.

In doing so, he pioneered microcredit, a system copied in more than 100 nations from the United States to Uganda.

"It's very happy news for me and also for the nation. But it has burdened us with further responsibility," he told reporters at his home in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

"Now the war against poverty will be further intensified across the world. It will consolidate the struggle against poverty through microcredit in most of the countries."

"There should be no poverty, anywhere."
Credit is a sacred trust, it's what our free society is founded on.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pirates In Newport

Newport:
The tall ship "Lady Washington," who played the "Interceptor" in the "Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl" along with her tour partner "Hawaiian Chieftain," will be in Newport Oct. 12 through Oct. 15 at Port Dock #3.

The public is invited to assist the crews and experience the maneuvers and cannon fire as the two ships engage in an 18th century mock sea battle, or tour the ships during public dockside tours. Offered will be onboard educational programs for school children interested in experiencing and learning first-hand about the history of trade, exploration, 18th century navigation and the life of a sailor.

No Clearance?

From my Pilot Getaways magazine, Nov/Dec 2005, on the VFR corridors in New York:
At 0.5 nm across, the Hudson River corridor is wider than that of the East River, extending the entire length of Manhattan. The East River corridor is narrower and ends abruptly at Roosevelt Island just north of the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge. At its end, you'll need to turn around or obtain a Class B clearance from LaGuardia tower on 118.7 MHz. These factors render the East River corridor nearly impossible to fly in a fixed wing airplane; it is more suited to helicopters on sightseeing and air taxi flights.
I don't have a TAC for New York handy, but I think 72nd Street is some distance to the north of 59th Street.

Update: OK, here's a TAC, and if I'm not mistaken, it looks like the corridor extends to the north end of Roosevelt Island. So they weren't in Class B airspace. Not that that helps.

Two-Edged Snark

Carly Fiona (file photo)

Opinion Journal reviews the former Hewlett-Packard CEO's snarky memoir:
As Ms. Fiorina marches through her enemies list, the particulars of each new act of villainy start to blur--and the author's bitterness starts to fascinate. There is little evidence that she made friends or even found reliable allies during her five years as H-P's boss. She became a leader without followers, frustrated with various subordinates, most of her board and all the media.
In my three years at HP I never met an engineer who liked her.

Brief Recap

James Lileks:
First we had the Clinton talks, in which North Korea promised to be good. They were given some lovely parting gifts, including much-needed heating oil to warm the officer barracks in the death camps. Then came the six-way talks, which were interrupted briefly for three-way talks over two-way radios; then the my-way-or-die-way talks we're now experiencing. Along the way North Korea broke the seals, restarted its Secret Bomb Program, enriched nuclear fuel and fortified it with vitamins, lobbed missiles hither and yon, and behaved exactly like the sociopathic criminal state everyone knows it to be. The West's most forceful reaction was a puppet movie that made fun of Kim Jong Il.
Don't underestimate the power of ridicule.

Deterrence

Victor Davis Hanson:
...we should reestablish deterrence, by warning any suspect states that should terrorists hit the United States with strategic weapons, we would respond state-to-state to any country that armed or otherwise subsidized or sheltered such mass killers. That needs to be reiterated in the case of North Korea and Iran. Deniability of culpability was a big Pakistani and Saudi stratagem in the 1990s, but is fading, once the United States warned both about the consequences of another al Qaeda attack. We should revisit that posture, and inform now a Syria, Iran, and North Korea that if they either house terrorists or proliferate nuclear material, fine—BUT their cities, industries, and militaries will become immediate strategic targets in the hours after a terrorist attack on the U.S.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Second Shift

An interview with Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth:
Kids who aren't assigned homework are not put at any kind of academic disadvantage. The research is pretty clear on that. But then there's the separate value question: is it justifiable to take kids who have just spent six or seven hours in school and force them to work a second shift, or should they have the right to get some rest, or get some exercise, or hang out with friends? The assumption that kids will be up to no good unless they have their free time structured for them represents a very dark and cynical view of kids and helps to explain why so much busy-work is given to them.

Ouch

""Really, anyone can learn how to fly. If you can drive a bus, you can fly an airplane. But to learn quickly takes money and time. Of course, Cory had plenty of money, and it was the off-season, so he had the time."?

--Tyler Stanger, Cory Lidle's flight instructor.

Profiles In Science

At the NLM: Visual Culture and Health Posters.

Somebody got a new scanner (your tax dollars at work).

Thanks to Improbable Research.

Nothing Lasts—Almost Nothing

Karen Heller:
When the locking mechanism failed to catch, I was at first upset, then bewildered and, ultimately, thrilled that anything had worked so well and long, providing good food with no little ease onto my various tables. Ultimately, my husband was able to get the thing to work, but it's exhibiting signs of mortality, which is completely understandable.

In appliance years, the thing is 306.
Her Cuisinart.

Washington's I-933

The Seattle Times yields the floor to John Postema:
As an active farmer, I was privileged to work with Farm Bureau representatives from 24 counties of Washington state to craft a genuine grass-roots initiative to help farmers and property owners. To understand what I-933 is all about, I want to refer to the Washington state Constitution, Article I, Section 16:

"No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation having been first made," and, "Whenever an attempt is made to take private property for a use alleged to be public, the question whether the contemplated use be really public shall be a judicial question, and determined as such, without regard to any legislative assertion that the use is public ... ."

When government damages or takes the private rights individuals have in real or personal property, such as water rights or the right to use their land for growing crops, they should be compensated. It is as simple as that.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (is that like post-modernism?) continues to shill for the other side.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Half(Bright, Pint)

Experts Say Test Fizzled

The Bay Area Daily Review:
"Either this was a deceit using a few hundred tons of chemical high explosives or it was a nuclear device that did not go as intended," said Bob Puerifoy, a former Sandia National Laboratories weapons executive. "I won't call it a dud — a few hundred tons of explosives is not a dud — but a fizzle. And the designer probably has been shot by now."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anonymous Officials: Dud

Bill Gertz:
U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that seismic readings show that the conventional high explosives used to create a chain reaction in a plutonium-based device went off, but that the blast's readings were shy of a typical nuclear detonation.
I told you it was a dud. Getting a fission reaction going is a lot harder than you might think. Read about it sometime.

Thanks to Drudge who spotted this first.

Phelps Fixes Phillips

The Economist September 28th:
Even before the curve began to break down in practice, Milton Friedman had cast doubt on the theory, as had Edmund Phelps, another American economist.
Last week he was just another American economist.

This week Edmund S. Phelps of Columbia University is the winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

The Voice of Dog

Lileks The Bleat:
Earlier that morning my sister-in-law came over to take Jasper to the Blessing of the Animals at a local cathedral. Jasper was nervous about going with them; he sensed that something involving him was up, but of course he had no idea. Off they went. He's been blessed before, but you can always use a booster shot. I think it's silly, myself, but harmless and kind. As I've said before, the relationship between God and Man is like the relationship between Man and Dog, and I mean that with a sense of respect: like dogs, if I may paraphrase the SecDef, we don't know what we don't know.
That reminds me of an earlier Bleat on the relationship between Jasper, God, and civil defense sirens.

Rainier Quake

Seattle:
A magnitude 4.5 earthquake rattled homes east of Mount Rainier on Saturday night, but no injuries or damage were immediately reported.

The quake struck just before 8 p.m. about 7 miles east of the mountain's summit, said Tom Yelin of the University of Washington Seismology Laboratory.

Yelin said he did not think the quake was associated with any volcanic activity.

Residents in Packwood, Maple Valley, Enumclaw and Renton reported feeling the earthquake, which was followed by two smaller aftershocks.
Compare that to the Korean bum (below).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Korean Bomb

CTV.ca Sun. Oct. 8 2006 11:12 PM ET:
North Korea has claimed to carry out what its neighbours have long feared -- the test of a nuclear weapon.

"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to our military and people," said a quote carried Monday by the Korean Central News Agency, the communist state's official agency....

However, the U.S. Geological Survey said it hasn't detected any seismic activity on the Korean peninsula in the past 48 hours.
Must have been a dud.

Here's a link to one that worked.

Update: Reuters is now reporting that the USGS has detected seismic activity.
U.S. intelligence has detected a "seismic event" in North Korea, but the data is still being evaluated to determine its significance, a U.S. official said on Monday.

"A seismic event has been detected, but we're evaluating the data and assessing how noteworthy it may or may not be," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after North Korea announced it had successfully carried out an underground nuclear test. The U.S. official provided no further details.

A U.S. senior official said earlier that South Koreans confirmed a test at 3.58 on the Richter scale. The U.S. Geological Survey said it detected a 4.2 magnitude tremor in North Korea.
Update 2: WAS IT A DUD? Drudge asks in 36 point type.

Some experts looking at the seismic data estimate a yield of less than one kiloton. If that's not a dud, it's what the French call un petite pétard.

The Iconographer

Virginia Postrel has an article (subscription only, unfortunately) in this month's Atlantic about modern architecture and the photographer Julius Shulman.
In February 1925, Richard Neutra and his family settled in Los Angeles. ""I found what I had hoped for,"? he wrote, ""a people who were more "'mentally footloose' than those elsewhere, who did not mind deviating opinions "... [a place] where one can do almost anything that comes to mind and is good fun."?

Good fun, indeed. In the golden sunlight and quirk-tolerant culture of southern California, modernism's glass walls and white boxes lost their sternness. Instead of a visual lecture on Machine Age precision or the evils of ornamentation, the modern architecture—above all, its home design—became the setting for a new kind of life or, as we've come to call it, lifestyle: comfortable and convivial, a place where outdoors and indoors, leisure and ambition, nature and artifice, mind and body can happily coexist....

To turn those buildings into icons, however, someone had to transform steel and stone into reproducible images, emotionally resonant and frozen in time. That person was the photographer Julius Shulman, who met Neutra in 1936....
The Getty has an exhibition of his work.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lepanto, October 7, 1571

Were they merchant barges? The Ottoman admiral, Mü ezzinzade Ali Pasha, had never seen anything like the six bizarre ships floating a few hundred yards in front of his attacking galleys. Perhaps they were some sort of supply vessels? Clearly, they were both new and huge—and drifting right toward his flagship the Sultana! In truth, the six colossal oddities were recently constructed Venetian galleasses. Each carried nearly fifty heavy guns—bristling from starboard and port, shooting over the bow and from the poop deck, guns it seemed booming everywhere. Each of these novel monstrosities could deliver more than six times as much shot as the largest oared ships in Europe—and in terms of firepower alone were worth a dozen of the sultan's standard galleys.
—Victor Davis Hanson, Carnage and Culture, Chapter 7

Digital art by Rado Javor.

Five Best—War Is Hell

James J. Cramer recommends five that drive home the point:
  1. The Irish Guards In the Great War by Rudyard Kipling
  2. Lost Victories by Erich von Manstein
  3. Some Desperate Glory by Edwin Campion Vaughan
  4. Storm of Steel by Ernst Jü nger
  5. But Not for the Fuehrer by Helmut Jung, with Mike Nesbitt
I haven't finished the five that Hanson recommended yet, so these will have to wait.

COC #75

Spank That Donkey has posted the latest Carnival of Cordite. I haven't read it yet, so I can't say if it's worth your time. I don't believe I've linked to COC #73 (Best Of) and #74 yet, either.

Rutan's New Rocket Ship

As kids we all drew pictures of airplanes and rocket ships. Dick Rutan went on to build them.
If you're going to send somebody to a resort hotel in orbit, it's okay to cramp him into something small with a little window. Because when he gets there he has this big spacious hotel, and he gets his view and his weightless experience. But with suborbital spaceflight, your destination has to be your transfer van. We believe the people — and there will be large numbers of them at the cost at which this can be done — they'll want to float around and look out of large windows facing all directions.
Thanks to Instapundit, who always seems to read my Popular Mechanics before I get it. Kind of like the postman.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Senator Ground Loops RV-8

Yeehaa! Way to go, Senator Inhofe.

Thousands Urged To Evacuate

Apex, North Carolina:
As many as 17,000 people were urged to flee homes on the outskirts of Raleigh early today as flames shot from a burning hazardous waste plant and a chlorine cloud rose high over the area.
I only note this because I spent a week in Raleigh once, in a tobacco processing plant. Lake many Southern towns, it has a nice side and a poor side. I assume this is way over on the poor side.

I'm With Stupid

Reuters:
Good news for aging hippies: smoking pot may stave off Alzheimer's disease.

New research shows that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the progression of the disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.
What a dilemma. Which would you rather be, forgetful or stupid?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

An Incomplete History

The Daily Mail:
In 208 pages he told how the Guild of Funerary Violinists—motto Nullus Funus Sine Fidula (No Funeral Without A Fiddle)—had been established in 1580, received a Royal warrant from Queen Elizabeth 1, flourished under practitioners like George Babcotte and Herr Hieronymous Gratchenfleiss, and was almost wiped out by the "great funerary purges of the 1830's and 40s."...

Except, as has now been discovered, there is, nor never was, any such thing as a funerary violin, nor a guild, nor a Royal warrant, nor a history, let alone an incomplete one.
Says Mr. Mayer:
Maybe I have been fooled. It is possible. But it reads so extraordinarily serious and passionate. If it is a hoax, I can only say, I have my cap off.

I just thought, whether it is true or not true, it is the work of some crazy genius. If it is a hoax, it is a brilliant, brilliant hoax.
Available on Amazon.

(Thanks to Lucianne.)

Negligent At 37 Thousand Feet?

The Legacy jet that collided with the 737 over Brazil had a NYT reporter on board:
With the window shade drawn, I was relaxing in my leather seat aboard a $25 million corporate jet that was flying 37,000 feet above the vast Amazon rainforest. The 7 of us on board the 13-passenger jet were keeping to ourselves.

Without warning, I felt a terrific jolt and heard a loud bang, followed by an eerie silence, save for the hum of the engines.

And then the three words I will never forget. "We've been hit," said Henry Yandle, a fellow passenger standing in the aisle near the cockpit of the Embraer Legacy 600 jet.

"Hit? By what?" I wondered. I lifted the shade. The sky was clear; the sun low in the sky. The rainforest went on forever. But there, at the end of the wing, was a jagged ridge, perhaps a foot high, where the five-foot-tall winglet was supposed to be.
Brazilian authorities contend that the Legacy's transponder was turned off and it did not comply with an ATC directive to descend to 36 thousand. The pilots may face manslaughter charges.

Update: The pilots deny turning off their transponder.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gran

Lawdog has a heartwarming story about a tough old lady.
My 99-year-old grandmother broke her hip five weeks ago -- we think.

She had been mentioning, quote: "some discomfort" unquote, but didn't say anything at all about "horrible screaming agony", so the family was bunging Tylenol down her, which seemed to do the trick.

Well, Mom got kind of worried, so she took Gran over to the witch-doctor, who talked to Gran, and came to the conclusion that Gran had probably mildly strained a muscle.

Hah, I say. Hah.

"Just as a precaution" the doc arranged for an X-ray, and Mom said that when the film was developed, the doctor showed up at a sprint with a stretcher and admitted her right there.
Couldn't keep her down, though. Read it all.

Uh, Dave...

"I am deeply convinced that my opinions on some of my favorite topics, if they were widely disseminated, could end world hunger, bring a halt to the age-old violence in the Balkans, lead us to a Unified Field theory, and get grape juice stains out of white shag carpet." — Tamara K., Knoxville

She blogs, of course.

Rise Before Dawn

Comet SWAN, near magnitude six, will be visible with binoculars in the northeastern sky not far from the Big Dipper over the next few days before dawn.

Today's APOD.

Purple Stater

Opinion Journal has picked up yesterday's article in The American Spectator:
This year, Schwarzenegger has recognized this ambivalence on the part of the electorate and acted accordingly. One day he's a Red stater; the next day he's Blue. Twice he vetoed bills to permit illegal immigrants to get drivers' licenses; however, he signed a "global warming" bill to mandate reductions in "greenhouse gas" emissions. Reds were happy that he vetoed a bill to make the state the sole payer of health care for the populace. They applauded when he signed a bill to end the "dance of the lemons," the practice of shifting unsuccessful teachers from one failing school to another. They breathed a sigh of relief last week when he vetoed a bill to give California's presidential electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Blues, on the other hand, were delighted that he signed their minimum wage bill and one to allow same-sex couples to file joint state income tax returns.
Mencken said it: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Riding The (Light) Rail

Blogger MAX Redline has an interesting picture in his profile. He gives no explanation, so I don't know the story. But yes, that's a coyote, riding the MAX line in Portland.

Can't say as I blame him—it looks cold outside.

Unexpectedly Nerdy

I am nerdier than 84% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!For the "Ted Kaczynski of computer programmers" I scored a lot higher that I thought I would.

Blonder Shade of Pale

Virginia Postrel:
What if there were a "cure" for skin color? It would be wildly controversial, right? Pundits would fill op-ed pages with analogies to X-Men 3: The Last Stand and occasional Mengele references. Unless, of course, the treatment were designed to cure people like me....
V. spotted a National Geographic news item that says she can now get herself a permanent tan.

Way tan. Like chocolate.

More Troops Now

Pete Hegseth of the 101st Airborne:
I volunteered to serve in Iraq because I believe in our mission there. I share the president's conviction about the Iraq war--we can and must win, for the Iraqi people, for the future of our country and for peace-loving people everywhere. But I'm frustrated. America is fighting with a hand tied behind its back. Soldiers have all the equipment we need--armored humvees, body armor for every body part, superior technology, etc.--but we simply do not have enough troops in Iraq, and we need them now.
Can you hold on until November? We've got a little situation of our own here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mt. Thielsen 9182 Feet

On Sunday Lizzy and I climbed Mt. Thielsen, the "Lightning Rod of the Cascades." We started up the trail about 8:30 and reached the top about 1:00; not bad for a 3800-foot climb. I've never seen anyone scramble up that last eighty feet as easily as Lizzy. She's a natural rock climber.

Next to the USGS marker you can see a patch of fulgurite, the glassy recrystalized rock left by lightning strikes.

Victoria Crater on Mars

(Click to enlarge)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows another huge panorama from Mars.

Update: Aerial view here.

No Repeat of 1975

Michael Barone on The Journal Editorial Report:
I think there is some danger that if Democrats get a majority, they are going to do what the heavily Democratic Congress did in 1975, which is to cut off all aid to South Vietnam when it was facing a major offensive from the communists in the north. And we saw Saigon fall and helicopters take off from the U.S. Embassy. I think the difference this time is that there doesn't seem to be any chance that the Democrats will win a big majority. And I've taken a look at the roll-call votes on the terrorism surveillance issue in the House of Representatives. You saw 34 Democrats vote with the president's position. Twenty-seven of those 34 are from districts that Mr. Bush carried in 2004. Two of them from other districts are running for the U.S. Senate this year, in Tennessee and Ohio, and evidently have made a calculation of which side they wanted to be on.

I think that you are still going to have the reality principle that the Democrats will have a slim majority, and they've still got 20 or so members, mostly but not entirely from the South, who are not going to take a cut-and-run position, in my view, in the next Congress.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Earth at Night

(Click to enlarge)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Can you spot the border between North and South Korea? Like night and day.