Wednesday, February 28, 2007

First Into Nagasaki

Melanie Kirkpatrick in Opinion Journal:
The atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki on the morning of Aug. 9, 1945. On Sept. 6, George Weller of the Chicago Daily News, fresh from covering the formal surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri, arrived in the city. He got there by impersonating an American colonel and forcing his way onto Japanese trains. He was the first Westerner to enter Nagasaki after the bomb.

By heading for Nagasaki, Weller was following his nose for news but also defying a ban imposed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had declared Japan's southernmost island of Kyushu, where Nagasaki is located, off-limits to journalists. Weller reasoned that the war was over, the U.S. military's authority over journalists was now moot, and he ought to be free to travel wherever his story took him.

But MacArthur had the last word. Weller's dispatches, filed through U.S. censors in Tokyo, never reached Chicago. Weller always assumed that they landed in the general's circular file. It wasn't until after the reporter's death, in 2002, that his son, Anthony, discovered the carbon copies of his father's never-published stories, buried in a box of files...

High School Hooligans

Cobb County, Georgia:
Police and school administrators searched today for two teenage girls who robbed a Cobb County bank with sunglasses and smiles.

The girls robbed a Bank of America branch in an upscale neighborhood in west Cobb County a few minutes after noon on Tuesday.
"Could you hurry? Cause I'm, like, on my lunch break?"

Somebody Do Something

Geopolitical analyst Angelina Jolie in the Washington Post:
As the prosecutions unfold, I hope the international community will intervene, right away, to protect the people of Darfur and prevent further violence. The refugees don't need more resolutions or statements of concern. They need follow-through on past promises of action.

There has been a groundswell of public support for action. People may disagree on how to intervene -- airstrikes, sending troops, sanctions, divestment -- but we all should agree that the slaughter must be stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.

In my five years with UNHCR, I have visited more than 20 refugee camps in Sierra Leone, Congo, Kosovo and elsewhere. I have met families uprooted by conflict and lobbied governments to help them. Years later, I have found myself at the same camps, hearing the same stories and seeing the same lack of clean water, medicine, security and hope.
She wants an imaginary entity (the "international community") to take unspecified action. Don't we all?

Dow Software Glitch

Page One in The Wall Street Journal:
Behind the scenes, the team that compiles the DJIA had noticed at about 2 p.m. that heavy trading volume was overwhelming the system, creating a data backlog that was affecting all of the Dow Jones indexes.

The Dow's component stocks were falling, but -- improbably -- the Dow average wasn't falling as much. Just before 3 p.m., the team switched over to a backup computer system. Almost immediately, the Dow caught up, tumbling 200 points, for an eye-popping plunge on the day of more than 500 points.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Global Volitility

So the Taliban attempt to assassinate the Vice President and the Dow Jones drops 400 points. Coincidence? Probably. Wiser folks say it has more to do with the price of tea in China.
A day after the Shanghai Composite Index hit a new record high, it plunged nearly 9.0 percent on Tuesday to 2771.79, ahead of a meeting by parliament next week where it is feared that interest rates could be raised in an effort to cool down the blistering pace of their economy.

Tuesday's drop in Chinese stocks was the biggest in percentage terms since an 8.9 percent fall on February 18, 1997.
In Japan it's Wednesday morning already and they're not having a good day either.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 644.85 points, or 3.56 percent, in the morning to 17,475.07. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 70.36 points, or 3.88 percent, to 1,740.97.

After diving 737.13 points to its morning low of 17,382.79 immediately after the opening, the Nikkei index rose somewhat and moved narrowly around the 17,500 mark.
Hang on; this could be a bumpy ride.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Messages From God

Rather tastefully done, if you ask me.

Pot To Kettle

Studies show:
Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."

Twenge and her colleagues, in findings to be presented at a workshop Tuesday in San Diego on the generation gap, examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006.
And after the lecture, where she'll be autographing copies of her latest book, be sure to check out jeantwenge.com!

Some Changes At Woof, Inc.

Readers of this blog may at times feel that they are watching a hypertext version of Professor Parnell's famous Pitch Drop Experiment with all the giddy excitement that such an endeavor entails. I would like to apologize for that.

I would also like to assure my readers (all two and one-half of them) that I have their interests very much in mind, at least for the twenty minutes or so each day when I have time on my hands. It is for their sake that, at about 4:15 this morning, I re-published the entire blog simply to effect a few very minor improvements in its appearance and usability.

Specifically I have:
  1. Replaced the search function with a Google™ search. At first those robots studiously avoided these pages but lately they have demonstrated an interest. Perhaps we can take advantage of that.
  2. Removed most of the sidebar junk from the individual posts. This will render them more printable, should you ever want to do such a thing. I certainly don't.
  3. Changed the archival interval from weekly to monthly. In order to review a whole year of posts you now have only to load twelve pages rather than fifty-two. I know you can't wait, and you shouldn't have to.
  4. Replaced the author's portrait with a more recent, and considerably more accurate, photo. The promised "complete profile" remains, however, incomplete.
I hope you enjoy viewing these changes at least as much as I enjoyed making them. Less than that would be positively painful.

Where have we seen that hat before?

Used To All That

I was kind of startled when I returned to Prickly City a few minutes ago to find it drained of all color. I fished this morning's image out of the cache just to make sure—yes, it was in color. I went to pricklycity.com to see if there was an explanation—and there it was in color again. Yahoo comics is so 1950s.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Far Side of the Moon

Looks a little different.
The likely explanation is that the far side crust is thicker, making it harder for molten material from the interior to flow to the surface and form the smooth maria.
Today's APOD.

March Miracle On Its Way

Although he's known as a historian, and has plenty to say about current events, I find Victor Davis Hanson most interesting when he writes about his native California:
I measured the water table in the yard a few months ago—about 40 feet, the water pure and clean, about the same level it was 40 years ago when there were 20 million, not 35 million people. With a 15 horsepower pump (running at a couple of dollars an hour) you can still pump 1200 gallons a minute, with the bowls set at 60-70 feet. It is hard to think of anywhere in the world where such water is so cheap and plentiful—and how long that will be true.

My hunch is that as Central Valley farmland goes out of production, 6-8 houses per acre in its place use less annual acre feet of water than flood irrigating an acre of vineyard or peach orchard. The horror, then, is that when there are solid housing tracts 300 miles from Sacramento to Bakersfield, from the Sierra to the Coast Range we will have more not less water—but, of course, no food grown at all.
Speaking of which, where's that copy of The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer that I ordered almost two weeks ago?

Almost here, according to the seller.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Transparency and Clueless Adults

Virginia Postrel has some thoughts on the online life and privacy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Time Travels

James Lileks' Bleat seemed unusually good (and it's usually good) today:
It's a good thing no one has invented time travel; many of us would journey back, find our young adolescent selves, and give them a stern and thorough lecture. No teen thinks their elders know the score, but I think we'd listen to our Future Self. Even if he said go to the Farm. Look, kid. In thirty years they'll be long dead and all these comics will be available in digital format for your home computer. Yes, your home computer. What? Yes, you'll have communicators. Here, look at this, it's what we use. See? Flips out like Kirk's, takes voice commands. The only different part is the absence of a warp-capable ship in hig orbit. Anyway, it's not all different; I mean, I come from 2007, and Jethro Tull put out a record two years ago, fer chrissakes.
Tull? That geezer was already old thirty years ago!

In The Mail Today

The Best Old Movies for Families, by Ty Burr;
The Children of Men, by P.D. James;
Night, by Elie Wiesel;
Explaining Hitler, by Ron Rosenbaum; and
Sputnik Sweetheart, by Haruki Murakami.

That ought to keep me busy for a while.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Don't Mess With Gramps

Limon, Costa Rica:
A tour bus of U.S. senior citizens defended themselves against a group of alleged muggers, sending two of them fleeing and killing a third in the Atlantic coast city of Limon, police said on Thursday.

One of the tourists — a retired member of the U.S. military aged about 70 — put assailant Warner Segura in a head lock and broke his clavicle after the 20-year-old and two other men armed with a knife and gun held up their tour bus Wednesday, said Luis Hernandez, the police chief of Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose.
Killed him with his bare hands.
The tourists left on their Carnival cruise after the incident and Hernandez said authorities do not plan to press any charges against them, saying they acted in self defense.

"They were in their right to defend themselves after being held up," Hernandez said.

Why I No Longer Subscribe

The Language Log posted the Dilbert cartoon that I almost linked to this morning and they had quite a bit to say about it. Let me add my bit.

In the first panel Dogbert and a reporter are sitting in a cocktail lounge and she says something like:
I hope you don't expect me to write a favorable article about your [activist organization] just because you bought me drinks.
And Dogbert replies:

Which, if you ask me, is exactly the reason I no longer subscribe to a newspaper.

Allies In A Bind

Mark Steyn says Tony Blair may be excused:
The British Prime Minister is in a bad position, facing a hostile backbench on his own side and a bunch of contemptible opportunists among the Tory ranks. Howard is, to that degree, in an enviable position: his party supports him, and even Labor would supposedly do no more than withdraw 500 or so personnel from the wider Middle East, which makes Kevin Rudd a more or less loyalish Opposition by the standards of Washington, London and Ottawa.

In other words, it's not the war, it's the home front. If their job is all but done in the Shia south, why could not Blair redeploy British troops to Baghdad to share some of the burden of the Yankee surge? Well, because it's simply not politically possible.
I wonder what another Prime Minister would have said?
This heinous attack upon America was an attack upon us all. With America, Britain stands in the front line against Islamist fanatics who hate our beliefs, our liberties and our citizens. We must not falter. We must not fail.
Margaret Thatcher, The Times, 12 September 2006.

Iron Lady in Bronze

Unveiling the new statue in the Palace of Westminster:
"I might have preferred iron but bronze will do," Thatcher said to laughter and applause.

"It won't rust."
Churchill would be proud.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Prof VS Prof

"Glenn, you fascist murderer..."

"Paul, you clownish thug..."

Mean Dad

Bill Gates limits the time his 10-year-old daughter spends on the computer:
Gates said he and his wife Melinda decided to set a limit of 45 minutes a day of total screen time for games and an hour a day on weekends, plus what time she needs for homework.

Microsoft's new Vista software enables parents to control the Web sites their kids go to but also includes an audit log that records sites they have visited and whom they've been Instant Messaging.
Ooh, Mom will love that. She's such a control freak.
"Up to some age, to be determined, it's very appropriate for a parent to get a sense of what they're seeing out there and be able to have conversations about it," he said.

"My son said, 'Am I going to have limits like this my whole life?', and I said, 'No, when you move away you can set your own screen limits'," Gates recounted, to audience laughter.
I think it's important for the world's richest men to have children. After all, it's Warren Buffet's kids, the little ingrates, who convinced him repealing the estate tax was a lousy idea.

Smudge Your Tonsure

It's Ash Wednesday.

Whatever happend to Fat Tuesday this year? I didn't hear a thing about it.

Religion, Politics, and Science

John Derbyshire looks at science and human nature:
Science is an odd sort of pursuit, way off the beaten track of human intellection. That, at any rate, is the conclusion suggested by the historical evidence. Homo sap. has been around for 100,000 years or so, yet it's only in the last 400-odd of those years — less than half of a percent — that methodical scientific inquiry has been undertaken. There were theologians and politicians long, long, long before there were scientists. In dark moments I am inclined to think the former will still be with us long after the latter have been eliminated, probably via mass lynching. To put it very crudely — and yes, I am aware of all the quibbles here — science is an unnatural activity, an un-human activity. You see the common awareness of this in fictional representations of scientists — the one on the Muppet show had no eyes.
I've preserved all Derb's markup in this quotation because his links — he's a fan of Wikipedia — are almost as interesting as his article.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It Ate My Quarter!

Dave Handy dug this out of some mouldering archive. Proof, if you needed it, that the author of this blog was once a degenerate hippie with a full head of hair.

Those were the days before cell phones (if you can imagine that) and these road-side "pay phones" were not only notoriously unreliable but filthy to boot—you never knew what kind of unwashed scum might have used it before you.

Nice shirt, though. I had a bit more style in those days.

Update: Dave says he thinks we were on our way to a Van Halen concert at the Jackson County Expo. If so the date was probably 28 March 1979.

Sheik To Meet With Pope

Vatican City (Catholic News Service):
One of Sunni Islam's leading clerics has accepted Pope Benedict XVI's invitation to meet for talks in Rome, the Vatican said.

Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi of Cairo's al-Azhar University, a world-renowned center of Islamic scholarship, agreed to the encounter "with satisfaction," the Vatican said Feb. 20. No date was announced for the meeting.

It would be the pope's highest-profile encounter with an Islamic leader since his September speech in Regensburg, Germany, that sparked controversy and criticism throughout the Muslim world.
How many divisions does the Pope have? How many does he need? Maybe it's just misplaced optimism, but I can't help hoping that this pope will do for the Islamic War what the last pope did for the Cold War.

The Reluctant President

Mark Steyn comments on President's Day:
The other day I took my kids over to the Coolidge homestead in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, and with the aid of snowshoes we scrambled up the three-foot drifts of the village's steep hillside cemetery to his grave. Seven generations of Coolidges are buried there all in a row... The President's headstone is no different from those of his forebears or his sons — just a simple granite marker with name and dates: in the summer, if memory serves, there's a small US flag in front, but if there's one there now it's under a ton of snow and only the years of birth and death enable you to distinguish it from the earlier Calvin Coolidges in his line.

I do believe it's the coolest grave of any head of state I've ever stood in front of. "We draw our presidents from the people," said Coolidge. "I came from them. I wish to be one of them again."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tough To Explain

Shy, sensitive Eddie Ableser, a Democrat from Tempe, Arizona, wants to outlaw these.

No, not the trucks. The little chrome ladies.

Can we have a motion to adjourn?

This Idiotic Masochism

Christopher Hitchens:
All over the non-Muslim world, we hear incessant demands that those who believe in the literal truth of the Quran be granted "respect." We are supposed to watch what we say about Islam, lest by any chance we be considered "offensive." A fair number of authors and academics in the West now have to live under police protection or endure prosecution in the courts for not observing this taboo with sufficient care. A stupid term—Islamophobia—has been put into circulation to try and suggest that a foul prejudice lurks behind any misgivings about Islam's infallible "message."

Well, this idiotic masochism has to be dropped.

Washington Post or The Onion?

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Burmese Freedom Fighter

Melik Kaylan in Opinion Journal:
In jungle camps some miles inside Burma from the Thai border, I witnessed historic meetings of leaders from the eight main minority regional ethnic groups who make up roughly half the country's population--the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Chin, Kachin and others. Some walked for many days to get there. They decided, irrevocably, to settle differences and cooperate because the Burmese army is destroying them singly, state by ethnic state, displacing them wholesale while forcibly integrating them into the dominant Burmese identity....

Yet almost no help from the U.S. reaches the ethnic alliance in a context where a little can go far, and where ethical foreign policy and realpolitik coincide naturally. What scant support there is comes mostly from individual or faith-based donations. Extraordinary, selfless characters make all the difference in such places. The Free Burma Rangers, a grassroots movement led by Western volunteers along with scores of locals, provide humanitarian and medical relief deep into the war zone. They also document atrocities. They are pretty much alone.
There's more, and it's worth reading.

Property Tax Rates

Today's Mail Tribune is all about the decline and fall of Curry County. The government part, that is. They may be surprised to see how well the rest of us get along without them.

Their answer to it all, of course, is more taxes. The article is thin on facts and heavy on speculation. The little dirt-balls of information they toss at us come in sentences like this:
Curry has one of the lowest permanent tax rates in the state — 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. By comparison, Jackson County's permanent rate is $2.
Neither number tells you diddly/squat about the actual tax rates in either county.
Here are the actual numbers.
It's a little more complicated than you thought, isn't it?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Off The Charts Crazy

Austin, Texas:
Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions today, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers.

Jobs compared schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs.

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked to loud applause during an education reform conference....

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said.

"This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."
You want crazy? Check out what Bill and Melinda Gates are up to.

Bill Gates' Guinea Pigs (Seattle Weekly)

Bill Gates Gets Schooled (Business Week)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Patrilateral Parallel Cousin Marriage

As promised yesterday, Stanley Kurtz presents his alternative to D'Souza's theory of what went wrong between Islam and modernity. Surprisingly, it's all about cousin marriage. But cousins of a particular kind.

Turns out your father's brother's kids and your mother's sister's kids are your parallel cousins and the rest are your cross cousins. Most cultures that permit cousin marriages prefer cross-cousin marriages but Muslim cultures prefer parallel-cousin marriages, and particularly marriages to one's father's brother's daughter.

Why exactly this makes Muslims so clannish and cranky Kurtz doesn't exactly say, at least not in parts one and two. Maybe he'll wrap it all up in part three. I'll link to that when I see it.

One Of Those People

James Lileks:
The brisk and friction-free ascent of Barack Obama has changed the political climate in a way some thought might take a decade. Bluntly put: Is the nation ready for one of those people to be elected president?

You know: a smoker.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kurtz On D'Souza—Critical But Fair

Stanley Kurtz reviews Dinesh D'Souza's The Enemy At Home:
While D'Souza's larger argument is substantially off the mark, it contains an important kernel of truth — much of which is derived from D'Souza's own experience as an immigrant from India to the United States. D'Souza may be wrong — even badly wrong — yet he's also sincere and intelligent enough to have fallen into a fruitful error, one worth probing and correcting. So, instead of huffing and puffing about this provocation of a book, let's use The Enemy at Home as an occasion to do what D'Souza asks us to do: revisit the intellectual foundations of the war on terror.
Which he does. And then he promises more:
I'll shortly be putting out a series of pieces on Muslim marriage, kinship, and social structure, and the link between them and our long-term strategy for the war on terror. In the course of that effort, I'll continue to use The Enemy at Home as a foil. With all of its flaws — perhaps because of its flaws — D'Souza's book at least has the virtue of forcing us to think afresh about the intellectual underpinnings of the war on terror.
I look forward to reading them.

At Least She Was Kind Of Cute

According to the US Mint:
Although the size, weight and metal composition of the new Presidential $1 Coin will be identical to that of the Sacagawea Golden Dollar, there are several unique features that make this coin distinctive.
For one thing, judging by the pictures, it's remarkably ugly.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Valentine

Thanks, honey.

Faith-Based Nonproliferation

The Wall Street Journal:
So after a couple of decades of broken promises, missile launches and nuclear tests, North Korea's Kim Jong Il has finally decided to give up his nuclear ambitions in return for diplomatic recognition and foreign aid. The Bush Administration will no doubt be praised with scorn for finally being "reasonable" and recognizing "reality," but the exercise strikes us as something close to faith-based nonproliferation.
There's more if you're interested.

Last week I read This Is Paradise! by Hyok Kang, which I mentioned before. Not a lot of information comes out of North Korea except in this manner.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Charles Seim on Stress Analysis

According to the Improbable Research blog:
This Friday night will see a historic event. Charles Seim, author of the 1956 classic engineering report "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown," will give a five-minute public lecture about it. This will be the first time, ever, that he has done so.

The Steyr HS50

Drudge links to this:
Austrian sniper rifles that were exported to Iran have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi terrorists, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

More than 100 of the.50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids.

The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year.
It's unfortunate that we haven't embargoed arms to Iran, but we haven't. And there's nothing special about a single shot bolt action .50 caliber rifle. I saw one at the local gun show a couple months ago. About $4000 I think. For that matter there's one on the counter at Jay Bailey Antiques. They are popular sport rifles in the U.S. Of course, we don't use armour piercing incendiary bullets, but you don't generally need to when you're popping prairie dogs.

Islam Is Not The Enemy

Frank Pastore:
If "we are at war with Islam," then what would victory look like? The "defeat" of Islam? Would this mean every Muslim would be given the option to "convert or die?" Now who's the radical?
Pastore cites the example of M. Zuhdi Jasser, a physician living in Phoenix and the founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Read Jasser's latest column here.

Just Say No To Vista

Bruce Schneier:
Windows Vista includes an array of "features" that you don't want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They'll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won't do anything useful. In fact, they're working against you. They're digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.

And you don't get to refuse them.
His bottom line? "the only advice I can offer you is to not upgrade to Vista."

Thanks to Greg who sent the link.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Year of the Rat

Christopher Hitchens finds Mitt Romney more amusing than Hilary Clinton.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Not Worth $6.75? Go Home.

Chad Graham in The Arizona Republic:
New wage boost puts squeeze on teenage workers across Arizona

Employers are cutting back hours, laying off young staffers...

Some Valley employers, especially those in the food industry, say payroll budgets have risen so much that they're cutting hours, instituting hiring freezes and laying off employees. And teens are among the first workers to go....

Mark Messner, owner of Pepi's Pizza in south Phoenix, estimates he has employed more than 2,000 high school students since 1990. But he plans to lay off three teenage workers and decrease hours worked by others. Of his 25-person workforce, roughly 75 percent are in high school.

"I've had to go to some of my kids and say, 'Look, my payroll just increased 13 percent,'" he said. "'Sorry, I don't have any hours for you.'"
I've said all along that what the minimum wage really means is: if you're not worth $6.75, you can't work.

Shouldn't That Be "Whom?"

Mary Mitchell, Sun-Times Columnist, Springfield:
If not now, when? If not him, who? Those are the questions African Americans must ask themselves as Sen. Barack Obama starts his historic run as one of the front-runners in the 2008 presidential race....
What? Huh?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

New FBO At RBG Int'l

The News-Review:
Flying in from North Bend, Roseburg's airport has a new fixed-base operator, Ocean Air Services.

This fixed-base operator will be able to offer the community something it hasn't had — a permanent air ambulance service based at Roseburg Regional Airport....

Three employees from Wingnuts Flying Services, the former FBO, have moved over to do some maintenance and operate the fuel farm, which also may be pumped self-serve....

"With Ocean Air coming in, they provided services that we were unable to at the time," said Barney Hogue, co-owner of Wingnuts, explaining his company's decision not to bid for the full-time FBO. "We felt it was a better set for the airport and the community for them to come here and use their resources on the field."

North Bend's airport is only 12 minutes away by air, so Ocean Air hopes to use the two airports to complement each other.

"If it's foggy here (in North Bend), it's clear there (in Roseburg)," Langerveld said. "When it's foggy there, it's clear here."...

The installation of the new FBO coincides with other improvements at the airport, including an $11 million expansion at the north end with three dozen new hangars. The expansion, paid for mostly through a Federal Aviation Administration grant, also plans for a 600-foot runway extension, pushing it out to 5,000 feet.
We'll have to check it out.

Holocaust Denier Assaults Holocaust Survivor

From the Examiner via Drudge:
In a bizarre attack, a well-known author and Holocaust scholar was dragged out of a San Francisco hotel elevator by an apparent Holocaust denier who reportedly had been trailing him for weeks....

According to police, the suspect accosted Wiesel in the hotel elevator at around 6:30 p.m., saying he wanted to interview him. Wiesel said he would do the interview in the lobby. That's when the attacker pulled him out of the elevator, police reported.

In a posting Tuesday on the anti-Zionist Web site ZioPedia, a writer using the name Eric Hunt takes credit for the attack...
So you can beat up a 78-year-old man, you wimp? How'd you like to take on Oprah?

Cory Lidle Report

Aviation Week analyzes the latest NTSB report (not yet available online) on the Manhattan plane crash:
The SR20 would have had a 1,750-ft. available turn width if the turn had been initiated over the middle of the East Channel. With the aircraft flying at an assumed airspeed of 97 kt. and airplane weight of 3,000 lb., the east wind would have caused a 300-400-ft. drift toward the buildings during the turn...

A 1,400-ft. turn diameter would have required a 50-deg. constant bank angle and 1.55g load on the SR20.

Investigators note the wing would stall if, at that airspeed, the bank angle exceeded 61 deg. If the airspeed decreased during the turn, the bank angle margin to stall would also decrease....
Pretty much as we previously speculated.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Measure 37 In Perspective

By way of NW Republican, a link to an editorial by Larry Huss in Brainstorm NW magazine. (No perma-link, but there's a nice printable PDF.)
Let's look at the facts: Oregon occupies about 61 million acres of land. Just less than 60 percent of that (34 million acres) is owned by the state, federal or local governments and is , therefore, exempt from development. Only about 1.2 percent of Oregon is currently developed. Yes, that's right. Only 1.2 percent or 730,000 acres are developed. The concern about "open spaces" is a crock. Ninety-eight point eight percent of Oregon is already "open spaces." When you hear the environmental extremists talking about "open spaces" what they are really talking about is using your land for their purposes without paying you a dime.
Well worth reading if only to counter the bilge in your local paper.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snake Eater

Opinion Journal tells the story of a private initiative to give our troops the tools our cops have:
Tom Calabro, a CDI vice president, assembled a team of six technicians. Its basic platform would be a handheld fingerprint workstation called the MV 100, made by Cross Match Technologies, a maker of biometric identity applications. The data collected by the MV 100 would be stored via Bluetooth in a hardened laptop made by GETAC, a California manufacturer. From Knowledge Computing Corp. of Arizona they used the COPLINK program, which creates a linked "map" of events. The laptop would sit in the troops' Humvee and the data sent from there to a laptop at outpost headquarters.
They built it in 30 days.
On the night of Jan. 20, Maj. West, his Marine squad and the "jundi" (Iraq army soldiers) took the MV 100 and laptop on patrol. Their term of endearment for the insurgents is "snakes." So of course the MV 100 became the Snake Eater. The next day Maj. West emailed the U.S. team digital photos of Iraqi soldiers fingerprinting suspects with the Snake Eater. "It's one night old and the town is abuzz," he said. "I think we have a chance to tip this city over now." A rumor quickly spread that the Iraqi army was implanting GPS chips in insurgents' thumbs.
Bypassing the Pentagon saved years of time and hundreds of lives. That's the way to win this war.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Opportunity

So what do you mean by "a job?"

Do you mean an chance to pitch in and help someone who will pay you for a job well done? Or do you mean to find a situation in which you occupy a position and as a consequence they must pay you a salary? Because if you mean the first there's plenty of work to be done. But if you mean the second, well, positions are scarce.

Ian's Shoelace Site

Via the Wall Street Journal a link to the World's Fastest Shoelace Knot.

Ian Fieggen's a world-class eccentric. While you're at it check out his Graphics Site.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Not Appropriate For Children

London:
One of the largest makers of chocolate bars whose brands include Mars and Snickers is to stop marketing to children younger than 12 by the end of the year.

It is the first time a major foodmaker has set out to stop targeting snack foods to such a wide age group.

Masterfoods, which also makes Maltesers, Topic, Revel and Twix, said: "We have decided to make an official policy change to a cut-off age of 12 years for all our core products."
The War on Fun continues.

Incentive To Fail

The Wall Street Journal seems to like Utah's school voucher bill, but I can't understand why. According to their own editorial:
State Rep. Steve Urquhart, the bill's chief sponsor, says the breakthrough in winning House approval was the realization that it wouldn't harm public education. The bill stipulated that for five years after a voucher student left the public system, the district would get to keep much of the money the state had paid for his education. Given that the average district gets $3,500 from the state and the average voucher is expected to be $2,000, a typical school district would gain some $1,500 every time a student left its system.
Like paying farmers not to grow soybeans, this "failure subsidy" can only make things worse.

Fireworks, Comet, and Lightning

From Perth, Australia, a bonus show. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Fūsen Bakudan

Balloon bomb. The Japanese released 9000 of these in 1945. Perhaps 1000 made across the Pacific. 300 were found or shot down. Six people were killed—in Bly, Oregon. Elaine Richardson remembers that day.
She wanted to join her friends, but her father said no.

Instead, a very disappointed 14-year-old Elaine Richardson helped her mother and father move steers from fields near Bly to a neighbor's land. Her friends, packed in a car driven by Archie Mitchell, continued up the road before stopping to enjoy a picnic along Leonard Creek.

While Mitchell, the Bly Christian and Missionary Alliance Church minister, parked the car, his pregnant wife Elsie and five children headed to the creek where they found a huge balloon hanging in a tree. Exactly what happened next is unknown...
Hundreds of those balloons may still be out there, hanging in weathered tatters from some tree miles from nowhere, bomb still attached and still dangerous. Sixty years on. Why not? They're still digging bombs out of Flander's Fields.

Time To Wake Up

Pattern 138 in Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language is Sleeping to the East:
This pattern settles the position of the bedrooms by placing them to face the east...

This is one of the patterns people most often disagree with. However, we believe they are mistaken....

We believe there may be fundamental biological matters at stake here and that no one who once understands them will want to ignore the, even if his present style of life does seem to contradict them.
When Leslie and I planned our remodel I had a number of patterns firmly in mind and I repeated them over and over until I'm sure she was sick of hearing them. This was one, and I'm glad I stuck with it.

We don't get much for sunsets here—the mountain's in the way—but we sure get sunrises. And I don't even have to get out of bed to enjoy them.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Murderer and The Martyr

Michael Yon has a story of heroism and sacrifice:
He was dressed as a woman as he walked down the alley toward the mosque full of worshippers. It was Friday, just before Ashura, and the air was chilled....

There were no soldiers in his path to stop him; no police to alert to the man in women''s clothes. There were only villagers. The man dressed as a woman was to be the agent of their deaths....
And then someone spotted him.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Birth-Giving Machines

The Japanese are all in a lather because their Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, while attempting to make a serious point about demographic decline, used some inappropriate language:
"The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head, although it may not be so appropriate to call them machines."
Certainly not.

What struck me as oddly amusing was that the first article I clicked through to, in the Khaleej Times Online, had running next to the article the ad you see to the right. Clearly this young lady, 18-24 and a Muslim residing in the United Arab Emirates, aspires to become a bride (perhaps one of four) for some young man of similar tastes.

At present the fertility rate in Japan is 1.3; in the UAE it is 2.5. They may not be doing their best but they're doing better.

Barry Bee Benson

Jerry Seinfeld has a new movie written and directed by, and starring (more or less) himself:
Mr. Seinfeld says adjusting to movies was tough at first because of the sheer length of the project compared with making a TV show or 30-second ad. "By the time you get to 60 minutes, you're so tired of everything," he says. "Coming up with a satisfying third act takes a long time."

But animation was appealing for a number of reasons: like stand-up, there's time to polish the material and even go back and reshoot scenes. There's also no restriction on where the scenes are set.

Still, he says his new movie has the feel of his television show. "It's dialogue driven and adult in some of the tones it has," he says. "There are things for kids, too, but it feels more like watching an episode of my sitcom."
Bee Movie. Due out in November.

Six More Weeks Of Winter

From Squirrels of the West, by Tamara Hartson:
Woodchuck (Groundhog) Marmota monax

The common Woodchuck is the subject of many tales and misconceptions. For a start, both its names are a bit misleading; the Woodchuck is not a hog, nor does it chuck wood. The name 'woodchuck' is likely derived from the Algonquian name for this animal, wejack. The other common name, 'groundhog,' comes from this animal's appearance in late summer—very fat and waddling low to the ground.
We don't have groundhogs in these parts. The closest we have (and I saw one a couple summers ago in the Cascades) is the
Yellow-bellied Marmot (Rockchuck) Marmota flaviventris


Colonies of Yellow-bellied Marmots have a strict social order, and banishment by the dominant male is the punishment for insubordination. Despite the rules, however, Yellow-bellied Marmots sleep late, eat heartily, and snooze dreamily on warm rocks in the sun.
That's more like it.

Whenever I think of marmots I'm reminded of the chorus to "Roundabout" by the rock group Yes:
In and around the lake
Marmots come out of the sky and they
Stand there
Or something like that. That's the way I always heard it, anyway.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cartoon Character Terrorizes Boston

Charlestown, Massachusetts (CNN):
Two men pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges they created panic by placing electronic light boards that caused a bomb scare Wednesday in Boston....

A citywide scramble that snarled traffic and shut down whole neighborhoods ensued as police and bomb squad officers raced to remove the plexiglass light boards from bridges and other high-profile areas.
Proof, if you needed it, that the terrorists have already won.