Monday, April 30, 2007

Mountain Marauder

I picked up a copy of the 2007 Oregon Big Game Regulations. It's pretty detailed, spelling out exactly the license and tag requirements for every major game animal in Oregon. I did notice, though, that one animal in particular seemed quite exceptional.

Generally you need a license and a tag except
Western Gray Squirrel: No tag required
In fact
Resident hunters 14-17 years of age can buy a juvenile hunting license at a reduced fee if they will be hunting western gray squirrel...
For every hunt only certain weapons are allowed except
Western Gray Squirrel: Any rifle; handgun; shotgun; muzzleloading firearm; or long, recurve or compound bow
Furthermore
Semiautomatic rifles with a magazine capacity greater than five cartridges prohibited (except for western gray squirrel).
No person shall
Hunt any game mammal with dogs, EXCEPT western gray squirrel.
For bow hunting
Broadhead blades must be fixed, unbarbed, and at least 7/8"? wide (except for western gray squirrel). It is illegal to hunt with or possess mechanical or moveable blade broadheads when hunting game mammals except Western gray squirrel.
And the hunting season is, of course, limited
WESTERN GRAY SQUIRREL
OPEN SEASON: Aug. 25 - Nov. 7
BAG LIMIT: 5 squirrels daily.
POSSESSION LIMIT: 15 in possession.
OPEN AREA: All units west of the eastern boundary of the Santiam, McKenzie, Indigo, Sprague, and Interstate units. Exception: No bag limit or closed season in that part of the Rogue Unit south of Rogue Rvr and S Fork Rogue Rvr and north of Hwy 140.
Finally there are certain "protected" mammals and birds which include, among others,
...pika (cony), pygmy rabbit, white-tailed jackrabbit, white-tailed antelope squirrel, Washington ground squirrel, northern flying squirrel, chickaree (pine squirrel), golden-mantled ground squirrel, chipmunks, white-footed vole...
But not—definitely not—the Western Gray Squirrel.

Indoctrinate U—The Film

Indoctrinate U is one of the most important documentaries of the year. But it might also be the most important documentary you aren't able to see this year. We know there is a vast audience for this film. But commercial distributors -- the executives who decide what films go into theaters -- don't. So unless we can prove to them that this audience exists -- that you want to see it, Indoctrinate U might not come to a theater near you.
All you need to do is go to their web site and enter your name, email address, and zip code.

Via Instapundit.

The New York Who?

An article by the AP delicately avoids mention of the real loser:
Among large newspapers, the performance was mixed for the six months ending in March, with several showing gains, most notably The New York Post, which is locked in a fierce competition with the New York Daily News.
But the Post and the Daily News are both up, 7.6 percent and 1.4 percent respectively; it's the New York Times that's down, 1.9 percent, but of course the Times wouldn't stoop to "competing" with the likes of those guys.

These People Aren't Threats

Michael Barone admits he was wrong:
When Florida passed its concealed-weapons law, I thought it was a terrible idea. People would start shooting each other over traffic altercations; parking lots would turn into shooting galleries. Not so, it turned out. Only a very, very few concealed-weapons permits have been revoked. There are only rare incidents in which people with concealed-weapons permits have used them unlawfully. Ordinary law-abiding people, it turns out, are pretty trustworthy.

We Will Vote No On 15-75

If the Mail Tribune's online poll is any indication the library levy will be defeated handily.

Contrary to yesterday's post, I encourage everyone to vote against this measure rather than withholding your ballot. The measure will likely fail for both reasons—insufficient turnout and a plurality voting against—but it's important that the margin of defeat be decisive. Not just "No," but "Hell, no!"

I've posted on this topic repeatedly; first on Measure 15-66 last October:
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.
Then on the library closure in April:
In a cynical ploy calculated to stampede the voters into approving a tax increase the Jackson County libraries have closed their doors five weeks before the special election. It won't work.
Then for background, links to three thoughtful articles on the future of libraries in general.
If public libraries attempt to compete in this environment, they will increasingly be seen for what Fairfax County apparently envisions them to be: welfare programs for middle-class readers who would rather borrow Nelson DeMille's newest potboiler than spend a few dollars for it at their local Wal-Mart.
—John J. Miller in Opinion Journal
And finally a cost comparison between four library systems in Southern Oregon:
Consider our next-door neighbors Josephine, Klamath, and Douglas County. (Call them, collectively, JKD.)

These numbers are from 2004-05 but even then Jackson County spent $7.5 million on its libraries as compared to $5.2 million for JKD. Yet JKD have 26 branches to Jackson's 15. And JKD serve 250 thousand citizens to Jackson's 195 thousand.

Why is it that Jackson County's libraries cost so much more?
Certainly not, I would suggest, because they're worth it.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Vote No—Or Better, Don't Vote

The wonderful thing about the double majority requirement in an off-year election is that, at a minimum, 25% (plus one) of the registered voters have to vote in favor to raise taxes on all the rest of us.

At a minimum, that is. Twenty-five percent can raise our taxes only if another twenty-five percent pitch in and help by casting "NO" votes. If on the other hand everyone opposed to the levy voted "NO" by tearing up their ballots, then those in favor would have to muster the entire 50% of registered votes all on their own.

The point is obvious. If you oppose this measure, don't vote.

CORRECTION: It has been brought to my attention that this tactic won't necessarily work—it depends, like the prisoner's dilemma, on the actions of your compatriots.

Suppose 30% were in favor and 35% opposed. If everyone voted it would go down. But if 10% out of the 35% opposed tried the not-voting tactic, the measure would pass because the 25% still voting would provide the necessary turnout.

We could try holding onto our ballots until closer to election day to see what the early voting indicates about turnout. But I seem to remember from last fall that not enough information will be released in time to make a decision.

It might be better, then, to go ahead and vote NO. If today's Mail Tribune is any indication, plenty of other people plan to vote NO as well.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rogue River Valley

This morning, as I have for the last five days, I left the house before six o'clock and climbed Nugget Butte. Here I met the sunrise at 1640 feet; six hundred feet above the river. Wisps of fog formed briefly. It was going to be a warm day.

The Newer The Worse

Taking tinfoil hats to a whole new level.

Addicted to Danger

James M. Tabor picks the five most riveting first-person accounts of man vs. nature:
  1. In the Amazon Jungle by Algot Lange (1912)
  2. Shackleton's Boat Journey by F.A. Worsley (1933)
  3. The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)
  4. K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles S. Houston and Robert H. Bates (1954)
  5. Minus 148° by Art Davidson (1969)
All still in print. I notice that Jim Wickwire wrote the introduction to the latest edition of K2. Greg loaned me his memoir Addicted to Danger last year; its amazing cover photo is from our own Mount Hood.

Two addenda: Don't miss the panorama from the top of Everest which I linked to a few weeks back, and also the article in yesterday's Mail Tribune about the two Rogue Valley natives, Brian Smith and Ted Anderson, who just bumped into each other at the base camp on Everest.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Boris the Liberator

Charles Krauthammer:
Credit for the fall of communism usually is given to two sets of actors. On the one side, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II, whose relentless pressure caused a hollowed-out system to collapse. On the other side, conventional mythology credits Mikhail Gorbachev.

This is quite wrong. True, Gorbachev inadvertently caused the collapse of communism. But his intention was always to save it. To the very end, Gorbachev believed in it. His mission was to reform communism in order to make it work. To do that, the Soviet system had to become more human — i.e., more in tune with real human nature — and thus more humane. Gorbachev's problem was that humane communism is an oxymoron.

The man who brought down the Soviet Union from the inside was Boris Yeltsin.

Average and Below

John Derbyshire has written a feature-length essay on an old movie:
The second thing that struck me was that this is a movie about the left-hand half of the bell curve. Of the main characters, I would surmise that only Frank Jr. has an IQ over 100. A couple of the others — Bobby C, Doreen — come across as borderline retarded. All the rest are drawn from that big slab to the left of the mean: people with IQs of 80-something or 90-something. These are normal, unreflective working people who did not get much from their formal education, don't read books, and don't think in abstractions, or wish to.
He calls it "one of the dozen or so best movies of all time." Hint: came out thirty years ago, in 1977. One more hint: John Travolta.

No, really.

Traitor

U.S. News:
Shortly before 1 p.m. today, the U.S. Senate narrowly approved the conference report for the Iraq spending bill containing a deadline for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops in Iraq, the last vote before the bill is sent to the president for an almost certain veto.

The roll call for the 51-to-46 vote is available here.

Two Republicans, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, voted with the 48 Democrats...
Senator Gordon Smith will be retiring in 2008 if I have anything to do with it.

McCain Don't Make It

Mark Steyn talking with Hugh Hewitt:
I'm astonished by the vehemence of people who are anti-McCain in New Hampshire. In part, that's just because whether you belong to the gun group or the abortion group, or whatever your particular bugbear is, he said no, we don't need to hear from you. And people are offended by the whole campaign finance thing, because they think actually, and quite rightly so, that it's about keeping political speech confined to an elite political class. And I think McCain doesn't understand that that actually is directly offensive to almost anyone who participates actively in primary politics.
No one likes to be told to sit down, shut up, keep your stinkin' money.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

Europe was fussing with its missiles.
The main reason for bringing cruise and Pershing-2 missiles to Europe was to prevent Russia getting a decisive lead in nuclear weapons between the short-range battlefield sort and the intercontinental monsters. It has worked. Imagine that, ten years ago, when NATO first talked of deploying its new missiles, Russia had suddenly said that, well, on second thoughts, it was cancelling its SS-20 programme, scrapping its older SS-4s, and, come to think of it, dismantling its monopoly of slightly smaller missiles too.
Imagine that? In 1977 no one could imagine that.

America undertook new research into poverty:
Those surveys, says America's latest best-selling sociologist, "reveal with striking clarity that the requirements for getting out of poverty in the United States are so minimal that it takes a mutually reinforcing cluster of behaviours" to remain poor. An American's chance of staying poor is less than ½% if he or she does the following three things: (a) completes high school; (b) gets and stays married; (c) stays employed, even if initially only at the minimum wage.
So why don't they? It took Mr Murray another seven years to answer that.

In other news Pope John Paul wanted to beatify Sister Theresia Benedicta, a Catholic nun who died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.
The idea that Edith Stein is a martyr for the Catholic faith has upset many Jews. They argue that she was killed in Auschwitz not in odio fidei (out of hatred for her faith), but because she was Jewish. If she was a martyr, she was a Jewish martyr, like the millions of other Jews who perished under Hitler.
Coincidentally Books and Arts led off with a lengthy review of The Jews of Silence by Elie Wiesel and included on the next page a capsule review of A History of the Jews, by the historian Paul Johnson, a Roman Catholic.

An excellent book, by the way, which I just read last year.

Ratatouille

From Disney · Pixar this summer. Looks like fun.

Thanks, Dave.

Breaking Communism's Neck

If you read only one obituary of Boris Yeltsin read The Economist's.
The country he inherited had few features of a state: no functioning institutions, no money, no food in the shops and, worst of all, a brainwashed people. He surrounded himself with young reformers, half his age and with twice his knowledge, who began to dismantle a planned economy that was rotten to the core.

For millions of Russians, it seemed that Mr Yeltsin's liberalisation of prices in 1992—not the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union—had plunged them into poverty. He refused to back off. Unlike Mr Gorbachev, he did not want to reform the communist system. He wanted to break its neck.
Masterfully written.

Could Have Seen It Coming

Daniel Henninger cites the Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative. Published in 2002. Five years ago.
...the 37 school attacks weren't typically carried out by severely ill, unhinged psychotics like Cho Seung-Hui. This is not to say they were happy campers (the study interviewed 10 perpetrators in depth). Though few of them would get off by reason of insanity, they were all mentally very unhappy campers; and what is more, other people knew that. And in nearly every case, someone knew they were planning the attack: "In nearly two thirds of the incidents, more than one person had information about the attack before it occurred."

Among the reasons widely adduced for not doing something about Cho's violent proclivities are HIPAA and FERPA, the confidentiality laws for health records and college students' records. Well, there's no FERPA for high schools. There is merely the weird cultural refusal to turn in bad actors to adult authority. In one school attack, so many students knew it was coming that 24 were waiting on a mezzanine to watch, one with a camera.
"Why," he asks, "do we refuse to take our own best advice?"

Stress Relief

Ann Counter gives us "elected Democrats running like scared schoolgirls from the media's demand that they enact new gun control laws."
Instead, Democrats are promoting a mental health exception to the right to bear arms. We've banned mass murder and that hasn't seemed to work. So now we're going to ban mass murderers. Yes, that will do the trick!...

So on one hand, the mental health exception is a feel-good measure that would be largely pointless. But on the other hand, it's no skin off my back. Liberals go to therapy. Conservatives go to church. And I think we'd all sleep better knowing that David Brock could not buy a gun.
That's a good line, but I'd like to add that libertarians don't go to therapy or church. On Sundays we go to the range.

Smart ≠ Rich

John Tierney wants to know:
If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?
I wish I had a good answer for that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Maoist Ballet

In the field, the shooter will be confronted with the problem of position selection, and he must be ready to meet it. In training I have always attempted to inculcate a critical evaluation of firing position. The principle is to shoot from the steadiest position available. A firing rest is always a good idea, and trees, fence posts, and rock outcroppings are more common than you might expect. Such are not to be counted on, however, and the shooter must cultivate the habit of instant position selection, adapted to terrain and time.
And tempo, perhaps.

Quotation from The Art of the Rifle by Jeff Cooper; illustration from the web site of James Lileks.

We Liked Boris Yeltsin

Lileks confessed yesterday that he always had a soft spot for Boris Yeltsin; apparently, so did Michael Barone:
Gorbachev got up to speak in his mellow voice. In the course of his speech he mentioned Yeltsin. He said something about having fallen in the road. Yeltsin had recently been found in such a position after an accident; perhaps (OK, probably) he had been drinking.

Yeltsin's face turned red as Gorbachev was speaking. The members laughed loudly, and so did many—most, it seemed to me—in the press gallery. Yeltsin was being publicly humiliated in the most deliberate way. His political career was obviously a shambles....

As I watched him on television in August 1991, standing on the tank and defying the coup plotters, it seemed to me that one man was standing between freedom and dictatorship in a country of more than 200 million people. And I remembered how I had watched him being humiliated only 22 months before.

May he rest in peace.

Radio Beacon Tower

This morning I left the house at 5:40 AM and climbed up to the old radio beacon tower on Nugget Butte. Back in 1926 these were state-of-the-art navigational aids. The rotating light is gone now and the NDB transmitter, if it ever had one, is gone too. Space is available if you have an antenna to hang.

I remember watching the rotating beacon on Mount Nebo from our house three miles away, although I can't remember now if it was green-white-green-white every five seconds or just a white flash every ten. When we climbed up to the Mount Nebo tower we found that the concrete base was part of a forty-foot long concrete arrow pointing, we thought, due north. Actually it was pointing to the airport. The Nugget Butte tower's arrow points to the Grants Pass airport, or it would if it weren't buried under brush and leaves.

The old radio beacons are all but gone now. Soon the VORs will follow and then all we'll have left is GPS. When that fails we'll have to rely on ded. reckoning.

Update: Dave Handy says "It was green-white-green-white every five seconds. I was closer than you at Pilger on Harvard and had a direct view from my bedroom window."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our New Kitchen

When Leslie and I first set up house in a one bedroom upstairs apartment in Reno, Nevada, the kitchen was tiny—an "efficiency" kitchen—but it was ours. Since then we've lived in three or four different houses including the one we bought in 1998 and have been remodeling ever since. Our kitchens have been bigger and smaller, far better and far worse, but the worst we've ever had is the one we've lived with for the last two or three years.

Our waferboard shelves were just "temporary," but like so many temporary situations we've had to endure, it seemed to go on and on until it became more permanent than life itself. Now, finally, thanks mostly to Leslie's genius and tenacity, we have a new kitchen all our own. All the little touches we love so well, we credit to ourselves; we designed it that way. All the little annoyances, same thing. It's ours, 100 percent.

Diminutive Dems

Monday, April 23, 2007

Looked Good On Paper

NASA eschews the term ""flying car,"? preferring ""personal air vehicle"? instead. Nevertheless, NASA is designing a flying car that would humiliate George Jetson. The agency is committed to a 15-year time line for three successive generations of flying cars. The first, scheduled for 2008, will resemble a compact Cessna with folding wings that converts to road use (it shouldn't cost any more than a Mercedes-Benz). The second, with a rollout planned for 2015, will be a two-person pod with small wings and a rear-mounted propeller. The third will rise straight up like a mini-Harrier jet and should be on the market by 2020.
Your tax dollars at work, as reported in Popular Mechanics.

Via Instapundit.

The Impact of the Highly Improbable

David A. Shaywitz reviews The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
If 100 random people gather in a room and the world's tallest man walks in, the average height doesn't change much. But if Bill Gates walks in, the average net worth rises dramatically. Height follows the bell curve in its distribution. Wealth does not...
The ubiquity of the bell curve lulls us into believing that we can predict the future—but many probability distributions are not normal. And the future may be stranger than we think.

The Case of Einstein's Violin

William L. Sullivan presents his second novel:
In this wacky mystery, half of a missing Einstein formula turns up in a violin case in an Oregon attic. When Ana Smyth sells the case on eBay she suddenly finds herself dodging international spies. To find the rest of the formula and uncover the truth about her own family history, she races through Europe — from a Greek monastery to an Italian cyclotron, the Slovenian Alps, and the German city where Einstein was born.
Sullivan, the author of numerous guides to hiking in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, will present a slide show on "Hiking in Europe" and a reading from "The Case of Einstein's Violin" at Bloomsbury Books in downtown Ashland this Friday, April 27, at 7:30. He will also present a slide show on "Oregon's Most Beautiful Trips & Trails" at Oregon Books, 937 NE "D" Street, Grants Pass this Saturday, April 28, at 3:00.

Sullivan's web site is at http://www.oregonhiking.com.

Boris Yeltsin, R.I.P.

Moscow (AP):
Former President Boris Yeltsin, who engineered the final collapse of the Soviet Union and pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy, has died, a Kremlin official said Monday. He was 76.

Totally Retro Drug Bust

The Mail Tribune has a big drug bust story:
Ashland drug sweep nets six people, LSD
LSD? Isn't that kind of old-fashioned? One of those arrested is "Dewayne Paul Crossman, 43, address unknown." Dewayne's hallucinogen of choice was hashish.

I don't know if the Ashland police know how to Google, but Dewayne's also wanted in Iowa.

Kind Of Sounded Like The Kingsmen

Dave Barry remembers Richard Berry:
...for me the coolest thing about "Louie Louie" was this: I could play it on the guitar. In fact, just about anybody could play it, including a reasonably trainable chicken. Three chords, nothing tricky. This is why, when I — like so many teenage boys of that era — became part of a band in a futile attempt to appeal to girls, "Louie Louie" was the first song we learned.

We'd whomp away on our cheap, untuneable guitars plugged into our Distort-O-Matic amplifiers, and our dogs would hide and our moms would leave the house on unnecessary errands, and we'd wail unintelligibly into our fast-food-drive-thru-intercom-quality public address system, and when we were finally done playing and the last out-of-tune notes had leaked out of the room, we'd look at each other and say: "Hey! We sound like the Kingsmen!" And the beauty of that song is, we kind of did.

Another Pulitzer Disgrace

Jonathan Tobin compares Pulitzer Prize winner Andrea Elliot to Walter Duranty:
Both Elliot and Duranty crossed the same line when they allowed their agenda to dictate their coverage. While Duranty covered up genocide, dishonesty about Islamist extremism is no less egregious. What this proves is that those who imagined that Duranty was a relic of journalism's past were wrong. That a travesty such as Elliot's "imam" would bring a Pulitzer is a disgrace that again taints the reputation of both the prizes and the Times.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Who is Downtown Dan?

Anyone who has spent more than a couple of weeks in Medford knows this guy. He name is Dan and he could sure use a buck if you've got one to spare. You'll know right away he's not playing with a full deck; couple of bricks short of a load; that elevator don't go to the top floor. He knows it, too, and he's alright with that. But he sure could use a buck.

Now Mark Freeman of the Mail Tribune has written a feature article on "Downtown" Dan. It's more interesting than you might expect.

The Future of Human Rights

Eric Posner in The Wall Street Journal:
Today, the future of the international human rights legal regime is bleak. And yet if what matters is not conformity with the rules of the human rights treaties, but the well-being of the world's population, things have never been better. Mortality rates are down, per capita income is up, literacy has spread, democracy is flourishing. Economic growth in China and India, which together account for a third of the world's population, largely accounts for improvement in overall well-being, but there is also good news in Latin America, South Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

How can this be? As technology and trade have advanced and spread, so has wealth and education, and with wealth and education has come political reform, and the expansion of civil and political rights. This is part of a long-term trend that goes back centuries.

There is no guarantee that it will continue, but one central fact needs to be recognized: The role of legalized international human rights in this process has been minimal or nil. Much more important in the 20th century were the determined efforts of liberal democracies to oppose powerful, dangerous, expansionist states...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Favorite Whine

From the Mail Tribune.
"We really need a stable funding base," said Borovansky. "We're operating hand to mouth."
Translation:
"You can't expect us operate like a business," said the overpaid bureaucrat, "We need a subsidy."

Gun Crimes Up Sharply

James Q. Wilson:
As for the European disdain for our criminal culture, many of those countries should not spend too much time congratulating themselves. In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.
Instapundit already quoted him, but I think it's worth repeating.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fashion Felony

Incontrovertible evidence
that young Bill Clinton used drugs.
Heavily.

Vigilantes

By way of The Corner and Bob Tarantino a personal account by Buck Wroten of the Texas Tower Shooting of 1966:
None of the professor's offices were occupied except for one whose door was open. As I walked down the hall toward that office the sound of a large caliber rifle thundered from that open doorway followed by two men talking. After all the bizarre events of the last few minutes it didn't seem strange to me when I peeked around the office doorway to see one professor shooting a deer rifle at the top of tower while the other fed him ammunition. It never entered my mind to question why an English professor would have his deer rifle in his office complete with boxes of ammunition. This was Texas after all.
When you shoot at Texans they shoot back.

Sun-Kyung Cho's Statement

A statement issued to press by Sun-Kyung Cho, sister of the killer.
On behalf of our family, we are so deeply sorry for the devastation my brother has caused. No words can express our sadness that 32 innocent people lost their lives this week in such a terrible, senseless tragedy.

We are heartbroken.

We grieve alongside the families, the Virginia Tech community, our State of Virginia, and the rest of the nation. And, the world.

Every day since April 16, my father, mother and I pray for students Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Brian Roy Bluhm, Ryan Christopher Clark, Austin Michelle Cloyd, Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, Caitlin Millar Hammaren, Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, Rachael Elizabeth Hill, Emily Jane Hilscher, Jarrett Lee Lane, Matthew Joseph La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, Lauren Ashley McCain, Daniel Patrick O'Neil, J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Minal Hiralal Panchal, Daniel Alejandro Perez, Erin Nicole Peterson, Michael Steven Pohle Jr., Julia Kathleen Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Joseph Samaha, Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, Leslie Geraldine Sherman, Maxine Shelly Turner, Nicole White, Instructor Christopher James Bishop, and Professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Kevin P. Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan.

We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced.

Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act.

We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person.

We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence.

He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare.

There is much justified anger and disbelief at what my brother did, and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Our family will continue to cooperate fully and do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well.

Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us.

Ted Nugent: I've About Had Enough

Master of subtlety Ted Nugent weighs in:
Zero tolerance, huh? Gun-free zones, huh? Try this on for size: Columbine gun-free zone, New York City pizza shop gun-free zone, Luby's Cafeteria gun-free zone, Amish school in Pennsylvania gun-free zone and now Virginia Tech gun-free zone.

Anybody see what the evil Brady Campaign and other anti-gun cults have created? I personally have zero tolerance for evil and denial. And America had best wake up real fast that the brain-dead celebration of unarmed helplessness will get you killed every time, and I've about had enough of it.
Hunker down and listen to him. But keep in mind: he wears earplugs.

Losers

Peggy Noonan in Opinion Journal:
The literally white-bearded academic who was head of the campus counseling center was on Paula Zahn Wednesday night suggesting the utter incompetence of officials to stop a man who had stalked two women, set a fire in his room, written morbid and violent plays and poems, been expelled from one class, and been declared by a judge to be "mentally ill" was due to the lack of a government "safety net." In a news conference, he decried inadequate "funding for mental health services in the United States." Way to take responsibility. Way to show the kids how to dodge.
Read it all.

Wikipedia, Baby

Computer programmers like to joke that doing floating-point arithmetic on a binary processor is a good way to "get wrong answers fast." The same caveat applies to Wiki. Keep it in mind when you use this handy reference. Cross-check your answers. Bucky can't edit the whole web—just his corner.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

We Are Big Brother—Rightly So

Greg sends a link to an article by Pat Sajak (yes, he's a columnist as well as a game show host) who says we are Big Brother.
Thanks to cell phone cameras, email and Internet sights such as YouTube, we have become self-appointed spies keeping close watch on everything our neighbors do. It isn't the government surreptitiously taking pictures... it's our fellow citizens.
He has a point, but when it comes to privacy or the lack of it, to my mind technology has never been the issue. In a small town in the 1890s, everyone knew what everyone else was up to. The communications medium was the gossip chain; probably faster and clearly more efficient than text-messaging.

Maybe we have too much privacy these days—that's where the psychos hide. Why should we mind our own business and leave them alone? Maybe if we bothered them a little more, forced them to answer a few questions, explain themselves and so on, their sickness wouldn't have a chance to fester.

Would the hardware store of the 1890s sell a sidearm to that kid Joe Sung-Wee who's been acting a might peculiar lately? I don't think so. Better ask the sheriff first.

Across Town Only $3.99

I just ordered a book for a friend of mine in Roseburg. When I got the shipping notice I tracked the package on UPS and discovered that it was shipped all the way from...

Roseburg, Oregon

I googled a bit and found that Roseburg is "home to the largest book distribution warehouse in the nation, Ingram Book Company."

$3.99 for shipping across town. I think I got ripped off.

Unholy Trinity

Norman Lebrecht tells the story of Elsa Schiller, who spent time in a concentration camp, Herbert von Karajan, who joined the Nazi party in 1933, and Ernst von Siemens, the director of Deutsche Grammophon.
Between them, the three conspirators promoted a global acceptance of the pernicious idea that art can be detached from the circumstances of its creation, and that war crimes can be washed away in a haze of perfect beauty and commercial success.
Lebrecht's book The Life and Death of Classical Music is available from Amazon.

Learning to Drink and Drive

George Will noted this morning that America's drinking age of 21 "has moved drinking to settings away from parental instruction and supervision." And that's a problem.

I've always thought that the drinking age should be 16, like France, while the driving age should be 18, like Japan. Get a little experience with the bottle before the throttle.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader warned:
Looking ahead, it is easy to imagine the worst. The United States declares trade war on Japan; then, with the Reagan administration egging the protectionists on, Congress raises tariffs... the victims retaliate... American interest rates jump... Latin American debtors default; the slump which follows is at least as deep as 1980-82.

That prospect, unfortunately, is not just a fantasy.
To forestall disaster The Economist implored Mr Reagan to raise taxes. He did not, and the economy continued to boom.

In other news the magazine devoted four pages to recapping its successful defense in a libel case.
[The Economist] has no bone to pick with Mr Bobolas and is happy to apologise for the allegation... that he received Soviet funds to start Ethnos. He didn't. On this score, Foreign Report got its facts wrong. As was made clear at the trial, The Economist maintained, and could not apologise for, the allegation that Ethnos was, from the outset, a mouthpiece of the Soviet propaganda machine.
Mr George Shultz went to Moscow but avoided the American embassy.
The building's evident insecurity meant that he had to communicate with Washington from a Winnebago van specially flown in for the purpose. The stunning realisation that the new embassy may be irretrievably riddled with bugs is an issue that has yet to explode with full force.
And in the Finance pages,
Battle lines are drawn for the first of Wall Street's insider-trading cases to be challenged in court. Since Mr Dennis Levine was arrested in May 1986, all the ten investment bankers accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Mr Rudolph Giuliani, the federal investigator, have pleaded guilty and cooperated. Not the Latest batch.

On April 9th, three arbitragers (speculators in takeover shares) were indicted on charges of insider trading, involving four counts of felony. They are Mr Robert Freeman, partner and head of arbitrage at Goldman Sachs; Mr Richard Wigton, head of arbitrage at Kidder Peabody; and Mr Timothy Tabor, formerly of Kidder Peabody. All three denied the charges through their lawyers.
And all three—innocent victims—walked, though their lives and careers were irreparably damaged.

Mr Giuliani was, and remains, undeterred in his battle against real and imaginary evil.

Gun-Free Zones Safe For Shooters

Miss Coulter says:
The reason schools are consistently popular targets for mass murderers is precisely because of all the idiotic "Gun-Free School Zone" laws.

From the people who brought you "zero tolerance," I present the Gun-Free Zone! Yippee! Problem solved! Bam! Bam! Everybody down! Hey, how did that deranged loner get a gun into this Gun-Free Zone?

It isn't the angst of adolescence. Plenty of school shootings have been committed by adults with absolutely no reason to be at the school, such as Laurie Dann, who shot up the Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka, IL, in 1988; Patrick Purdy, who opened fire on children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, CA, in 1989; and Charles Carl Roberts, who murdered five schoolgirls at an Amish school in Lancaster County, PA, last year.

Oh, by the way, the other major "Gun-Free Zone" in America is the post office.
The Postal Office?

Tillamook County Dairy Princess

Tillamook, Oregon:
Tillamook County has a new member of royalty — Tillamook County Dairy Princess Kristin Hogan.

The 49th annual Tillamook County Dairy Princess Contest at the Tillamook County Creamery Association, April 14, was filled to capacity to support the two young ladies competing for the title — Hogan and Katie Peterson....

Hogan is the daughter of Dave and Rita Hogan.
And very pretty, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

They Weighed The Risk

The munchkin wrangler:
I know I won't care for the left's instant condemnation of our "loose weapons laws" (the Brady Crowd already put out a press release to that effect), but I'm also not totally in love with the gun crowd howling about how Virginia Tech has "blood on their hands" because they disallow otherwise legal VA CCW holders from toting on campus. This statement may ruffle some feathers, but every CCW holder on that campus who didn't carry a weapon did so by choice. There may have been some who did have a valid license to carry, but they weighed the risk of expulsion against the risk of being caught defenseless, and they made their choice.
Tam endorses.

Earth Week Virtual Cruise Night

Iowahawk says Show Me The Carbon.
That unseasonable chill in the air can only mean one thing: it's Earth Week again! To commemorate this auspicious and hysterical occasion, I am hosting the Second Annual Iowahawk Earth Week Virtual Cruise Night. Last year's inaugural event, won by the nasty twin turbo '66 Mustang of Seattle's Preston Peterson, was a tire-smoking success with nearly 70 entries totaling nearly 300 Gaia-saving miles per gallon. Impressive, but I'm hoping that together we break that record for 2007.
Parts one and two are already up. Check it out!

Bun Warmer

Tokyo (Reuters):
Twenty-six smoking toilets, and three more on fire, put a Japanese toilet maker in the hot seat on Monday.

Toto Ltd., known for its high-tech toilets with bidets that have blow-drying, air purification and seat-warming functions, apologized to consumers and offered free checks and repairs after some of its toilets with bidets and heated seats sent up smoke and three caught fire.

"We apologize deeply for the trouble we have caused to our customers," the company said in a statement.
That's nice. In America they say, "We apologize if any of our customers were inconvenienced." Like, by who ever.

Item noted by Taranto.

Oh my gosh it's spreading.
Japan's second-biggest toilet maker INAX Corp. has joined porcelain powerhouse Toto with tales of smoking toilets and burning bidets...

"We've been promoting a culture of washing one's backside since 1980, and that's given us a 60 percent market share. We want customers to contact us as soon as possible if there's a problem," Matsumoto said.
Try to cool down first.

The Reclusive Mrs. James Lileks

With Mark Steyn and some guy.

Two Worth Reading

Supreme Court Outlaws Infanticide

Justice Kennedy in the Opinion of the Court:
The Act proscribes a particular manner of ending fetal life, so it is necessary here, as it was in Stenberg, to discuss abortion procedures in some detail....
If you disagree with the judgment of the Supreme Court I challenge you to read, with your imaginative powers unsuppressed, Section I-A of the Opinion which begins with the sentence quoted above.

John Stossel's Right

Americans spent 6.4 billion hours complying with the tax code in 2005 — a chunk of time worth $265 billion, according to the Tax Foundation. That's more than the 2006 federal budget deficit.

Those of you who do your taxes yourselves spend an average of eight to 27 hours toiling for the U.S. government.

What a waste.
He says Estonia has a better way. Maybe we should move there.

Sugar Magnolia

Dave went for a walk in the alley with Kat.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Died A Hero

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived — because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad — also an Israeli — told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."
As James Taranto noted, "Librescu was a Holocaust survivor who escaped communist Romania for Israel in 1978 and moved to Virginia in 1986. By coincidence, he was murdered on Holocaust Remembrance Day."

This Might Be A Good Time...

To call attention to Oleg Volk's human rights campaign.

The Wireless Warrior

There's a half-billion dollars invested in the gear hanging off the heads, chests and backs of the soldier of Alpha company. Digital maps displayed on helmet-mounted eyepieces show the position of all the men in the unit as they surround a block of concrete buildings and launch their attacks. Instead of relying on the hand signals and shouted orders that most infantrymen use, Alpha company communicates via advanced, encrypted radio transmissions with a range of up to a kilometer. It's more information than any soldiers have ever had about their comrades and their surroundings.

But as Alpha kicks in doors, rounds up terror suspects and peals off automatic fire in deafening six-shot bursts, not one of the soldiers bothers to check his radio or look into the eyepiece to find his buddies on the electronic maps. "It's just a bunch of stuff we don't use, taking the place of useful stuff like guns," says Sgt. James Young, who leads the team of four M-240 machine-gunners perched on a balcony during this training exercise at Fort Lewis, Wash. "It makes you a slower, heavier target."
In the Popular Mechanics May 2007 issue, on the newsstands. Not yet online.

Incident On I-94

I missed reading The Bleat yesterday but I'm glad I went back to check it today. It was one of the good ones:
Anyway JESUS CHRIST

— is what I thought, or perhaps said, because the car in front of me on the highway had slowed then screeched then fought a fishtail as I did the same; the car made it to the shoulder, and the car to my left hit the brakes as well and then I saw a man in the middle of the interstate freeway, rolling.

He rolled once —

A large black motorcycle skidded a yard, two yards —

He rolled and his hands went to his head —

I checked the rear-view mirror, expecting to see cars piling into me, but no: the river had slowed; for a second, two seconds, I expected the chain-reaction crash, but it didn't come. I threw the car in park and yanked the emergency brake and got out of the car. The man stood. He stood up. He had put down his bike in freeway traffic, somersaulted on the pavement, and he was up. He stood for a second looking at the traffic, which by now backed up around the bend a mile. He limped to the shoulder....
This is the way journalism ought to be done. Skip the facts. Tell the story.

Murderer Identified

The Wall Street Journal:
Police identified the classroom shooter as Cho Seung Hui, 23 years old, a senior from South Korea who was in the English department and lived in another dorm on campus. They said Mr. Cho committed suicide after the attacks, and there was no indication Tuesday of a possible motive....

"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Remington Model 700 Mountain

I'm still shopping and reading and rather than the Model 700 CDL I mentioned earlier I think I may want the Mountain rifle instead.
Ideal for hunting that involves serious hiking or climbing, the Model 700 Mountain Rifle DM (Detachable Magazine) utilizes a trim stock and a specially contoured barrel to deliver carbine-like handling with full-bore range and accuracy.
Slimmer stock, 22" barrel, almost a pound lighter: 6 pounds 10 ounces unloaded. I'll also need a scope:
Leupold FX-II 2.5x28mm IER Scout
An outstanding choice for your lever action rifle or scout rifle. With 9 to 17 inches of generous, non-critical eye relief, it mounts on the barrel, in front of the receiver.
Add a Safari Ching Sling and it's a classic scout rifle.

Except mine will be a .30-06 not a .308. I'm a little old-fashioned about that.

Unarmed and Vulnerable

Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.

It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.

Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.

I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police....
—Bradford B. Wiles, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, August 31, 2006

Right Wing Crank

From Dahon:
Kinetix Wing Crankset
Elegantly graceful, the Kinetix Wing crank set is cold-forged from 6061 aluminum billet for consistent quality and an excellent stiffness to weight ratio.
This, of course, is the right wing crank. For balance you will want to install on the other side of the bicycle a left wing loonie.

I'm All For That

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Too Dumb To Drive?

Keep this in mind next time you get on the freeway:
The driver of a red pickup truck accused of causing the crash that critically injured Gov. Jon Corzine will not be charged because he was unaware he had caused an accident, State Police said Saturday.

A state official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, said the driver was a "special needs driver" who may have a mental impairment.
Via Lucianne.

Tax Time Again?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Remington Model 700 CDL

The Remington Country eNewsletter arrived today reminding me that some consider April 15th "Buy a Gun Day." But that only works if you get at tax refund, as opposed to a tax bill. I'll be lucky to recover my financial footing by August, but when I do, this will be my little gift to myself.
The Remington Model 700 CDL (Classic Deluxe) offers renowned accuracy in a classically styled design. The traditional straight-comb American walnut stock includes a satin finish, finely cut checkering, right-handed cheek piece, black fore-end tip and grip cap, and sling swivel studs. The satin blued finish of the barreled action and the jeweled bolt body completes the tasteful design.

Standard calibers feature 24-inch carbon steel barrels...
That's what I'm getting: a .30-06.
Each barrel is clean without sights and the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
Which means I have to choose a scope to go with it.

Something Mighty Peaceful

One-Upping Bottled Water

At Incanto restaurant in San Francisco, every meal begins with a free gift from the restaurant's kitchen. It's a local ingredient that has been filtered, chilled, and, if desired, carbonated. It's tap water.

Restaurants are in a bind these days as "green" pressure mounts to cut down on the plastic and glass waste from the bottled waters that have become popular in recent years. Yet many feel tap water isn't fancy enough. So they're dressing up plain old spigot water by installing expensive triple-filters and "reverse osmosis" systems. They're filling carafes with Japanese charcoal, running water through special stones to add minerals, and serving house-made seltzer.
From The Wall Street Journal free pages.

Pear Blossom Parade

It stopped raining this afternoon—after the parade. The Hanby Middle School Band gamely marched and played, but only a handful of people turned out to watch. It always rains for the Pear Blossom Festival; that's a given. But this year's weather was the worst in memory. A dreary overcast and a steady drizzle. Charlie says, "This is the last time." Next year, symphonic band.

For President

Opinion Journal yields the floor to Fred Thompson.
In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half.

Remarkably, this has happened despite the financial trauma of 9/11 and the cost of the War on Terror. The deficit, compared to the entire economy, is well below the average for the last 35 years and, at this rate, the budget will be in surplus by 2010.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this success story is where the increased revenues are coming from. Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before.
Boy, don't I know it.

Library Cost Comparison

Spend a few minutes reading the Douglas and Josephine County Library budgets, which run about three pages each, and compare them to the Jackson County Library budget, which runs to thirty pages of mostly blather with fewer pertinent facts. If you want the raw numbers I've condensed them here.

But one little table on page seven especially caught my eye. It purports to demonstrate, I suppose, that Jackson County's libraries are neither the least nor the most expensive in the state. Closer inspection reveals much more.

Consider our next-door neighbors Josephine, Klamath, and Douglas County. (Call them, collectively, JKD.)

These numbers are from 2004-05 but even then Jackson County spent $7.5 million on its libraries as compared to $5.2 million for JKD. Yet JKD have 26 branches to Jackson's 15. And JKD serve 250 thousand citizens to Jackson's 195 thousand.

Why is it that Jackson County's libraries cost so much more?

Jackson County's libraries cost $39.16 per capita per year while the Josephine, Klamath, and Douglas libraries combined cost barely half as much ($20.77 per capita).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Just A Gut Feeling

Medical researchers have found that a restricted diet will lower blood choline levels, thereby slowing the metabolism and increasing life expectancy. Oddly though
The apparent drop in choline levels was much greater than could be accounted for by a relative lack of food, so Dr Nicholson suspects that the restricted diet was also causing the composition of the... gut flora to change in a way that did not favour choline-munching bugs.
But here's the neat part.
They have come to that conclusion by drawing on data from a 15-year experiment conducted by Purina, an American dog-food company.
I draw two conclusions from this.

One, we can improve our health indirectly by manipulating the trillions of cells in our bodies which do not have our DNA, and two, we seem to care as much about prolonging the lives of our pets as we do ourselves.

Take It To Heart

I have found in the course of a long public life that the things I did not say never hurt me.
—Calvin Coolidge

In Praise of Moderate Muslims

Today's editorial in The Washington Times:
There's only one thing to do with the spiked PBS documentary, "Islam vs. Islamist: Voices from the Muslim Center." Air it. If the Public Broadcasting Service won't reconsider, this window on the struggle for the soul of Islam in the West -- controversial and hard-hitting -- will be picked up by some other network. It's inevitable.

You Can't Trust City Hall?

Gold Hill:
Ballots to recall Councilwoman Kathleen Price in a special May 1 election will be mailed out today.

Because of the recent library closures and the nature of the election, there will be no drop site for ballots in Gold Hill.

"We thought it was a little too close to home to have City Hall be the drop site for this particular election," said Jackson County Clerk Kathy Beckett.
Just what does she mean by that?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Can't Stand That Kind of Radio

Lileks on Hewitt:
You know, I have a bit of Prageresque ambivalence about this, to piggyback on what Dennis was saying, because while his comments were reprehensible, and just nonsense, I can't stand that kind of radio, and you wouldn't get me to listen to it if you pressed a pair of matched revolvers against both my temples. Leave the content aside. What I don't like also are the people who get moral stature from this. The very idea that we have to go now hat in hand to Jesse Jackson of Hymietown fame, and Al Sharpton, of course, of the Tawana Brawley episode, that these people somehow bestow a matter of moral legitimacy when you've sinned in the public eye is just disgusting.

Steyn Drops Atlantic

From the Hugh Hewitt show:
HH: ...one of my e-mailers demands to know where your obituary is in the Atlantic Monthly. Once you get people hooked, Steyn, you've got to deliver. What happened?

MS: Well, the Atlantic and I have had a falling out.

HH: No!

MS: So I probably shouldn't be talking about this on air, but you know, I, as the Australian foreign minister said to me in another context, there's no really off the record conversation with me, and so I'm happy to tell your guys, if you ask me a straight question, we've had a falling out.

HH: So you're not going to be writing your obituaries anymore?

MS: No, I'm not. I don't know what they're running instead. Maybe they'll run an obituary of me, and that will nicely round out the whole business.
Let's have one more collection first.

Kim Jong's Ill-Gotten Gains

Opinion Journal:
The Bush Administration is selling this dirty-money deal as a requirement of diplomatic realism and a price that must be paid for the larger strategic goal of getting North Korea to cooperate. But it's also true that the U.S. is allowing Kim to get away with his ill-gotten gains. Only weeks after the Treasury laid out a detailed rap sheet, the U.S. says never mind.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader:
Western Europe is unfashionable, and has been for years. With its sluggish economics and wimpish politics, it attracted an ugly neologism — Eurosclerosis — which suggested that the old wold had indeed grown old. But fashions change, and spring is a time when even the doddery feel friskier. This is a good moment to notice that Europe is shedding a few sclerotic habits and regaining some of its strengths.
Premature optimism, that.

In American Survey a picture, or in this case a cartoon, was worth a thousand words. Speaker Jim Wright and President Reagan have finished dinner, Reagan has nodded off, the waiter's looking at his watch, and Mr Wright sits there drumming his nails. In the middle of the table someone has dropped the check, labeled "Tax Hike," and no one's in a hurry to pick it up.

In other news United Airlines changed its name to Allegis, Moscow saved money by hard-wiring the bugs in the new American embassy, Wall Street wondered (having reached 2400 on the Dow) if the end was near, and Playboy magazine had started "an electronic edition which allows the owner of an Apple Macintosh to call down over the telephone a selection of Playboy articles," including, of course, some pictures of Miss Kym Paige.

Remember that, Dave?

Building Alpine Troughs

Dale Sullivan of Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery in Talent demonstrates how to grow alpine plants in sub-alpine climates.
Sullivan, owner of Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery in Talent, makes it look easy, mixing cement, peat moss, perlite (a natural silicate rock, pulverized) and water to a dough-like consistency then pouring it in a form, which can be made of wood. You can also use a pan, litter box, ice chest, kiddie pool or any such ready-made container for the form.

Sullivan's skills will be put to use in his lecture on trough-building at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 29, at the Master Gardener's Spring Fair at the Jackson County Exposition Park.

"It's fun to make them. It's more fun to plant them. They provide elevated habitat for alpine plants that don't want to grow in the ground," says Sullivan. "You try to duplicate the alpine soil.
Article in the Mail Tribune.

Kurt Vonnegut Has Died

SCI FI Wire:
SF author Kurt Vonnegut, best known for such classic novels as Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle, died in New York on April 10 at the age of 84, The New York Times reported.

Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, the newspaper reported.

Vonnegut's 14 novels became classics of the American counterculture and dealt with vivid SF scenarios, religions and races. He was a literary idol particularly to students in the 1960s and 1970s, the Times reported.
Via email from David Handy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Other America

There are two Americas as John Edwards likes to say. And this guy, Monty Johnson, lives in the other America, right across the road, unfortunately, from Mr & Mrs Edwards.

He's a "rabid, rabid Republican" and he's running down the neighborhood—never mind that he's lived there all his life. Since Edwards built his $6 million, 29,000-square-foot mansion next door the only thing marring their gentrified bliss is this "slummy" gun nut.

There ought to be a law. If Edwards has his way, there will be.

Bloggers Busted By Bush's Brain

Via Toby Harnden, and about a zillion others, the 'Bush's brain' hoax:
It was the smoking gun the conspiracy theorists had been yearning for.

Karl Rove - known as "Bush's Brain" by those who believe President George W. Bush has no brain - photographed with a sinister file underneath his arm that conclusively linked him to a White House email "scandal".
Only problem: it was photoshopped.
A Chattanooga Internet firm doctored a photo of White House aide Karl Rove to show him holding a folder with the company's logo, fueling speculation in the blogosphere that the president's top adviser is running White House correspondence through a nongovernment e-mail system.
Chattanooga resident David Gidcumb put the doctored image on his blog and the moonbats took the bait.

And then, as they say, hilarity ensued.

Three Articles On Libraries

First the Wall Street Journal article by Jeff Zaslow that Katie Couric plagiarized for her video essay: Of the Places You'll Go,
Is the Library Still One of Them?
For parents and grandparents, it's hard to accept that young people today often feel little connection to the local library. We recall the libraries of our childhoods as magical places; getting our first library card was a rite of passage. It saddens us that younger generations seem more eager to buy books than borrow them, or that they consider libraries just another tool for acquiring information.
Second an article by John J. Miller, also in the Wall Street Journal, about a Washington-area library tossing out the classics—because nobody reads them.
The bottom line is that it has never been easier or cheaper to read a book, and the costs of reading probably will do nothing but drop further.

If public libraries attempt to compete in this environment, they will increasingly be seen for what Fairfax County apparently envisions them to be: welfare programs for middle-class readers who would rather borrow Nelson DeMille's newest potboiler than spend a few dollars for it at their local Wal-Mart.
Third an article in The Economist about the future of books.
Google will not divulge exact numbers, but Daniel Clancy, the project's lead engineer, gives enough guidance for an educated guess: Google's contract with one university library, Berkeley's, stipulates that it must digitise 3,000 books a day....

So who is going to read the millions of pages that Google and its colleagues are so busy digitising? Some people will read them on-screen, some will use Google as a taster for books they will then buy in paper form or borrow from a library, and still more will use it to look for specific snippets that interest them.
Further, and typical of the Economist at its best, this article asks us to think in other categories.
Many non-fiction books express an intellectual idea. Traditionally, the only way to deliver such an idea profitably involved binding it into a 300-page book, says Seth Godin, a blogger and author of eight books on marketing. "If you had a 50-page idea, you couldn't make any money from it," he says, so a lot of non-fiction books end up on shelves with 250 unread pages. Freedom from such rigidities may save a lot of authorial time.
Perhaps the Carnegie buildings are monuments to the past. If so, it is time for us to consider: what is the future?

What will it be?

Tale Of Two Counties

Faced with the same sort of budgetary crisis, Josephine County too had a Library Levy on the November 7, 2006, ballot:
QUESTION: Shall Josephine County Library District be formed with permanent rate limit of $0.55 per $1,000 of Assessed Value Beginning 2007/2008?
Their voters' answer was nearly identical to ours:
    17-16 PROPOSED JOSEPHINE CTY. LIBRARY DIST.
Yes . . . . . . 13,661 42.94%
No. . . . . . . 18,155 57.06%
Total . . . 31,816
Over Votes . . . 32
Under Votes . . . 1,437
But Josephine County's response was very different:
The 2006-07 budget submitted to the Board of County Commissioners reflects a 50% reduction in funding from the County.

Beginning July 1, 2006 reductions would include reduction of the Williams and Wolf Creek Branch libraries currently open 3 days/12 hours a week to 1 day/4 hours a week. The Main Library in Grants Pass would be reduced from 5 days/31 hours to 3 days/15 hours a week. The Illinois Valley Branch would be reduced from 4 days/20 hours to 2 days/10 hours a week. Library staffing will be reduced from 14.07 FTE to 4.5 FTE. Library services including reference services, children's programming, public Internet access, phone interactions would be eliminated or reduced.
In Josephine County, apparently, the people rule and the government obeys.

In Jackson County the roles are reversed.

Unmobilized For War

Joseph Kearns Goodwin:
America is not at war. To be sure, there are fierce battles in Afghanistan and Iraq where American soldiers are dying day after day. Yet, while our troops and their families have seen their lives altered in fundamental ways, the average American has been asked to sacrifice almost nothing. We read the papers, watch the news, worry about the disintegrating situation, then, except for the inconvenience at the airports, go about our daily lives in much the same manner as we did in the first summer of the 21st century.
Via Seth Gitell of Political Mavens.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Extremes Are Exaggerated

Professor Emeritus Freeman Dyson in an interview by Benny Peiser:
I do not agree with your assessment of religion in Britain and the USA. The extremes of religious dogmatism in the USA and of atheistic dogmatism in Britain are greatly exaggerated by the media. In both countries, the average atheist and the average Christian are not dogmatic or unreasonable. So far as I can see, there is about the same variety of beliefs on both sides of the ocean. Certainly we do not need any accurate navigation to find a middle way between the two extremes. Probably ninety percent of the population are somewhere in the middle.
Probably ninety percent are in the middle of any issue. But believing that makes you a scientist, not a politician.

Hebe Jeebies

The Snooze-Review:
Hebe's patina will never conceal the lurid ethos associated with the Greek goddess of youth — according to her detractors — but the statue will eventually stand in Roseburg's Eagle Park....

[Councilor Tim] Freeman's motion came after stated opposition to Hebe's installation at Eagle Park by members of the Douglas County Evangelical Fellowship. About 18 of the Evangelical Fellowship's members were in attendance...

"We stand in opposition to its placement," said Craig Schlesinger.
Jeez, what's their problem? It's not like she's topless or something.

A Code To Live By

Via Insty, Tim O'Reilly calls for a Blogger's Code of Conduct.

Not a bad idea. Of course we at Zeta Woof Inc. have had a code (actually more of a style guide) all along.

A little something we all could use.
It's what I call the Repo Code, kid. Don't forget it--etch it in your brain. Not many people got a code to live by anymore.
--Harry Dean Stanton in Repo Man, 1984

How (Much) Do I Love Thee?

John Tierney studies the studies (so we don't have to) and tells us vertically challenged guys how much we need to make up the difference.
...according to the study, a 5-foot-0 guy would need to make $325,000 more than a 6-foot-0 man to be as successful in the online dating market. A 5-foot-4 man would need $229,000; a 5-foot-6 man would need $183,000; a 5-foot-10 man would need $32,000. And if that 6-foot-0 man wanted to do as well as a 6-foot-4 man, he'd need to make $43,000 more.

For women in the online study, shorter is better....
Studies show (PDF).

England Is Dead

John Derbyshire:
I've told this story before, so I hope I'll be forgiven for telling it again. My Mum, Esther Alice Knowles (1912-98), eleventh child of a pick'n'shovel coal miner, in one of the last conversations I had with her, said: "I know I'm dying, but I don't mind. At least I knew England when she was England."

I discounted that at the time. Old people always grumble about the state of the world. Now I understand it, though. I even feel a bit the same way myself. I caught the tail-end of that old England—that bumptious, arrogant, self-confident old England, the England of complicated games, snobbery, irony, repression, and stoicism, the England of suet puddings, drafty houses, coal smoke and bad teeth, the England of throat-catching poetry and gardens and tweeds, the England that civilized the whole world and gave an example of adult behavior—the English Gentleman—that was admired from Peking (I can testify) to Peru.

It's all gone now, "dead as mutton," as English people used to say. Now there is nothing there but a flock of whimpering Eloi, giggling over their gadgets, whining for their handouts, crying for their Mummies, playing at soldiering for reasons they can no longer understand, from lingering habit. Lower the corpse down slowly, shovel in the earth. England is dead.

Blogging For Jobs

The Wall Street Journal has an article on how blogging can help you get a new job.
When recruiter Harry Joiner was hired to fill two positions at Musician's Friend Inc. in November, he used an employee's personal blog to help sell his client's rural location of Medford, Ore., to job seekers....

The blog, by So Young Park, the company's director of e-commerce marketing and customer-relationship management, describes her move to the area a year ago from New York City. It includes details about her work, her experience owning a car for the first time, a bear sighting near her new home and related topics. While she started the blog to share information about her experiences with family and friends back East, she acknowledges that it has also been a good resource for attracting job hunters.

Mr. Joiner says he linked to the blog in ads he posted on job boards and in emails to potential candidates. He says it helped him get professionals to leave jobs in Los Angeles. "The blog made a ton of difference," he says.

Zen of Dilbert

Three panels. Four words. A brilliant socio-political essay.

Great Britain

Victor Davis Hanson:
The news has not been kind to Great Britain the past few days: the discussion of omitting in some schools study of the Holocaust in fears of offending Holocaust-denying Muslim students; the BBC cancellation of a documentary about the most recent Victoria Cross winner in fears of being too positive about Iraq; the Iranian hostage taking that humiliated the Royal Navy, the mockery of British rules of engagement, the confessions of the prisoners, followed by the crass hucksterism of the former hostages as they elbowed each other to cash in. We might expect this from Swedes, French, or Spanish, but the British?
It's no longer "Great" Britain.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Prosperity As Its Prey

If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.
--Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 (emphasis added)

Off-Grid Power

When I retire to my desert shanty I'll need a 4 kW generator. This one costs a little more (OK, it costs a lot more) than the gas powered ones, but it doesn't require any fuel. It should pay for itself in less than two years.
MARS is a lighter- than-air tethered wind turbine that rotates about a horizontal axis in response to wind, generating electrical energy.... Helium sustains MARS and allows it to ascend to a higher altitude than traditional wind turbines. MARS captures the energy available in the 600 to 1000-foot low level and nocturnal jet streams that exist almost everywhere.

Two With One Stone

Scottsburg:
A boulder smashed into a pickup and sent it airborne Saturday morning on Highway 38 east of Scottsburg.

Thomas E. Sieminski, 65, of Lorane was headed west in a 2007 Chevrolet pickup at about 10:40 a.m. when the large rock rolled off a hill and into the roadway.

The truck landed, struck an embankment and swerved into the eastbound lane, where it was struck on the driver's rear quarter panel by an eastbound 2002 Kia driver by Sigmund R. Caswell, 53, of Grants Pass.

At the time of the collision, Caswell was maneuvering to avoid smaller chunks of rock that came off when the boulder exploded from the impact with the roadway, according to a report from the Oregon State Police.

Zell and the Trib

Joseph Epstein wonders if the smart money knows something we don't.
If I were a cartoonist, I should draw these gents together, in a large motorboat, with lots of Louis Vuitton luggage piled up at the stern, racing to catch up with and board the Titanic. For one of the strong conclusions of the day is that newspapers are on the way out, and well beyond saving, even by the application of sound business principles....

Do they know something the rest of us don't? Is it possible, finally, that with all these new players--what in the Chicago of my boyhood used to be called the smart money--taking a hand, that the newspaper game itself may be a long way from over?

Glamour and Charisma

Virginia Postrel says what Obama has is not charisma. It's glamour.

Charisma is more demanding.

Smokin' Dave

Sometimes I think it's a good thing that Dave's Mac keeps an eye on him.

Bunny Ears

Dave Barry with a heartwarming story about two men, a little girl, and a bunny costume. Oh. And also alert citizens, the state police, and a seven-foot stuffed dog:
Wagner and Payment were arrested at gunpoint by state police, handcuffed and returned to Cattaraugus County. There the bank-robbery case against them — which up to that point probably looked airtight — began to fall apart. For one thing, as Judge Larimer noted in his decision, no actual bank had been robbed. Also, Payment and Wagner did not flee, nor were they armed (unless you count the stuffed dog). Also, as the judge pointed out, robbers casing a bank probably would not wear a 2-foot-high bunny head featuring "enormous pink ears."

"Generally," observed the judge, "stealth is preferred when engaging in such activity."

So after a couple of hours in custody, Wagner and Payment were released, and everybody had a good laugh, and then Wagner and Payment sued for $2.1 million. Judge Larimer ruled that Lt. Travis acted improperly, and a jury will determine what the damages are.

Keys That Clattered

The Steampunk Workshop builds a retro keyboard for those who pine for that old Underwood.

Tam spotted it first.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Wildflowers

The Gospel of St. Mark

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Britannia Waives The Rules

Don't miss Steyn this Sunday:
Watching Tottenham Hotspur fans taking on the Spanish constabulary at a European soccer match the other night, I found myself idly speculating on what might have happened had those Iranian kidnappers made the mistake of seizing 15 hard-boiled football yobs who hadn't got the Blair memo about not escalating the situation.
Top form.

Force Feeding Tax Increases

In a cynical ploy calculated to stampede the voters into approving a tax increase the Jackson County libraries have closed their doors five weeks before the special election. It won't work.

Back on the ballot is a levy identical to the one that voters rejected last November:
QUESTION: Shall Jackson County levy 66 cents per $1000 assessed value for five years beginning 2007-2008 to maintain public library operations?
May:
QUESTION: Shall Jackson County levy 66 cents per $1000 assessed value for three years beginning July 1, 2007, for library operations?
Here was the voters' answer last November:
    15-66 JACKSON COUNTY LIBRARY 5-YR LOCAL OPTION TAX
Yes . . . . . . . . 31,162 41.46%
No. . . . . . . . . 44,004 58.54%
Total . . . . . 75,166
Over Votes . . . . . 102
Under Votes . . . . . 2,885
Here is this voter's answer in May:
    What part of "No" don't you understand?
As I pointed out last October, the library budget increased from 5.7 million in 2000 to 8.5 million in 2006. That's eight and a half million dollars to loan out one and a half million items.

Do you feel like you're getting a bargain? I don't.

View From The Summit

Click image and scroll to see the panoramic view from Everest (4103 × 494 pixels).

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Abdurrahman Wahid

Bret Stephens in Jakarta, Indonesia:
Suppose for a moment that the single most influential religious leader in the Muslim world openly says "I am for Israel." Suppose he believes not only in democracy but in the liberalism of America's founding fathers. Suppose that, unlike so many self-described moderate Muslims who say one thing in English and another in their native language, his message never alters. Suppose this, and you might feel as if you've descended into Neocon Neverland.

In fact, you have arrived in Jakarta and are sitting in the small office of an almost totally blind man of 66 named Abdurrahman Wahid. A former president of Indonesia, he is the spiritual leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), an Islamic organization of some 40 million members. Indonesians know him universally as Gus Dur, a title of affection and respect for this descendant of Javanese kings. In the U.S. and Europe he is barely spoken of at all--which is both odd and unfortunate, seeing as he is easily the most important ally the West has in the ideological struggle against Islamic radicalism.
Read it all if you have time. I haven't yet.

The Wanderer

Astronomy Picture of the Day has an animated GIF showing three years of Saturn's motion against the background of stars.

And speaking of Saturn, TierneyLab has "finally settled on a name and a myth for the mysterious hexagon on Saturn."

Byron?

The Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department has a New Bulb Cam!

What's so special about this light bulb?

It has burned continuously since 1901.

Friday, April 06, 2007

And about the ninth hour

Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
And straightaway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

The Jefferson Bible

Toby Harnden Concurs

Toby Harnden of the Telegraph:
I've just watched footage of a member of Her Majesty's Royal Navy call President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "sir" and gushing that he and his fellow sailors and marines were "very grateful for your forgiveness".

Embarrassing? You bet. Back in the early 1990s, I served in HMS Cornwall, from which the 15 captives were operating, and so understand a little bit about this. I've also spent time in captivity myself, in Zimbabwe, and have been interrogated by insurgents in Iraq and so have some limited insight into what is like to be held against one's will.

Am I the only one who finds the conduct of the 15 on camera cringeworthy?
Not at all.

Pelosi Commits Felony

Robert F. Turner in The Wall Street Journal:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may well have committed a felony in traveling to Damascus this week, against the wishes of the president, to communicate on foreign-policy issues with Syrian President Bashar Assad....

The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States."
Of course the law ain't worth a dime if you won't enforce it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If You Had A Choice

Tam:
Sure, Germany (to take one f'rinstance) sports an average life expectancy of 78.7 years, while the typical American can only be expected to dodder along for 77.7, but tell me this: Would you rather spend 78.7 years with a cradle-to-grave Nanny, or 77.7 years telling the government to go piss up a rope? Yeah, thought so.

Steel and Cordite

Kenneth R. Timmerman in FrontPage Magazine speculates on what might have prompted the hostage release:
On Friday, March 30, Khamenei's top advisors met in an emergency session of the Supreme Council on National Security, chaired by Ali Larijani. Larijani is the regime's top nuclear negotiator, and is a confidant of the Supreme Leader, while maintaining close ties to President Ahmadinejad. At that meeting, Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Rahim Safavi reported that the deployment of the Nimitz suggested that a U.S. military invasion of Iran was being prepared for early May. He urged the Council to order the release of the British hostages as a gesture to defuse the tension in the region.
There were other factors, of course, but Timmerman says
...my bets are still on the Nimitz — and on the proximity of the anniversary of Operation Praying Mantis, when the Iranians tasted the steel and cordite of a determined U.S. navy.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader began:
It does not take a keen ear to sense the thundering charge of approaching trade war.
And those were the good old days of Keynesianism when governments and central banks steered—or so they thought—the lumbering behemoths of their national economies. Back then it was all about Japan:
In 1986... the yen value of Japan's imports fell by 30.7% [while] the volume of Japan's imports rose by 12.5%. (p. 65)
Under a photo of a sumo wrestling match the article title read, "Overweight, over-rich and over here."
Japan's all-too-visible trade surpluses have long been tempered by big deficits on invisible trade, such as investment income, banking, patents and tourism. These deficits are disappearing. (p. 71)
Disappearing also was the value of the dollar:
Japanese investors have already started to switch from United States dollar bonds into Canadian and Australian dollar bonds, and more recently into the ecu, D-mark and sterling bonds. (p. 72)
And the leader concluded ominously:
The finest bulwarks against a trade war have until now been Mr Ronald Reagan and Mr Yasuhiro Nakasone.... Both these bulwarks are suffering from political fatigue.
As always, wishful thinking.

In other news Mrs Thatcher and Mr Gorbachev had a nice little visit in Moscow, "yuppies" were paying £60 ($96) and upwards of something called a "Filofax", and the Canadian maple syrup industry was threatened with extinction:
In 20 years' time, the only maple leaf left in Canada might be on the national flag. Acid rain is killing the maple trees of central and eastern Canada, as well as in New England....

The size of the industry is measured by the number of tap holes. Mr Archie Jones, a professor at Montreal's McGill University, says that Canada has lost 2m taps in the past four years.
And who today remembers the Canadian maple syrup industry which declined in 2005 to a mere 37m taps, having bottomed out in 1986 at 16m?

For that matter who remembers the Japanese threat?

That Reminds Me...

...time to do taxes.

We Want An Explanation

The Wall Street Journal:
The British military has performed magnificently in Iraq, where 136 servicemen and women have been killed. Even so, with the release of the sailors, we would like to learn the full story of why the hostages seemingly cooperated so readily with their captors. Videotaped confessions, in which the accused apologize for misdeeds they didn't commit, are staples of Iran's authoritarian regime, and the British apologies to their captors may well have been coerced. Yet it's hard to know what to make of yesterday's pictures of the sailors--in suits, not uniforms--smiling and shaking hands with a beaming Mr. Ahmadinejad. These weren't civilians but sailors presumably trained to resist propaganda displays.
We would like to know too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Second Cold War

David Hazony says it's not World War IV, it's Cold War II. Which, in a way, makes it simpler because, in retrospect at least, we know how to win it.
By most measures, Iran is an easier mark than the Soviet Union. It does not yet have nuclear weapons or ICBMs; its Islamist ideology has less of a universal appeal; its tools of thought control are vastly inferior to the gulag and the KGB; and its revolution is not old enough to have obliterated the memory of better days for much of its population. In theory at least, it should be much easier for the West to mount a similar campaign of relentless pressure on the regime--from fomenting dissent online, to destabilizing the regime through insurgent groups inside Iran, to destroying the Iranian nuclear project, to ever-deeper economic sanctions, to fighting and winning the proxy wars that Iran has continued to wage--in order to effect the kind of change of momentum needed to enable the Iranian people to bring their own regime down the way the peoples under communism did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Utter Humiliation

British "soldiers" wave bye-bye to Mahmoud.

Iran Will Release The Hostages

I first saw it on Pajamas Media.

Update: The Economist puts it succinctly.
The indignation of the British government, and its decision to seek support from the United Nations and European Union, incensed the Iranians and emphasised the weakness of Britain and the West. Then all of a sudden this week, Tehran decided that it had done enough Brit-baiting, either because it did not want more international opprobrium, or because it thought it had squeezed the full propaganda value from the affair.

On April 2nd, Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council contacted a British TV channel to say that there should be a bilateral diplomatic solution. The British government said it wanted the same. An Iranian diplomat who was mysteriously kidnapped in Iraq two months ago was released just as mysteriously, and Iraq said it was trying to secure the freedom of five Iranian officials arrested by American forces in January.

It was left to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver the finale on Wednesday. He berated Britain for scheming in Persia for the past century. Then he pinned a medal on the chest of the seaman who led the "brave" capture of the Britons and announced that, as a gift to Britain for Easter, he would pardon the British servicemen and release them immediately.

Volcano On Io

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Whittling The Wind

Lileks:
I had intended to write something about the British / Iranian situation, but like so many other things today there's really nothing to say, because the simple statement of facts contains the essence of the problem, and elaboration is just whittling the wind.

My good dog Jasper just wandered into my studio and grunted and sighed and rolled over. Of course I gave him a scratch; that's what you do. What a perfect metaphor. Thank you, dog. You show you're no threat and accept my authority, and I give you a casual reward. We're used to this; submission repaid with affection and love.

But of course we like dogs.

Chicago Legal

Hugh Hewitt talks with Mark Steyn about the Conrad Black trial:
HH: But now, there's hardly a Jew to be found in this vast kettle of names, though. How can he connect up a conspiracy without the requisite number of Jews?

MS: Well, there is a Jew in this story, and that is Conrad Black's supposedly sinister wife, Barbara Amiel, my colleague, newspaper colleague for many years. But she's basically portrayed in the British and Canadian press as this sort of sinister, Zionist, trophy clotheshorse. If you read the book, the best selling book in Britain about Conrad Black called Conrad And Lady Black by Tom Bower, basically he portrays Barbara Amiel, Lady Black, as this kind of Zionist version of Lady Macbeth. So there is even a Jewish angle in there.

HH: Well, I hope you're keeping the rights to your blog, because I think there's a movie here once Hollywood"...it's just it's happening in Chicago, so nobody knows it's happening.

MS: Well, it's interesting, the prosecutors are all young. They all look like they're auditioning for this role in some hip kind of Chicago Legal type TV show, whereas the defense counsel are all kind of cranky, old"...one of the defendants has this octogenarian lawyer, marvelous guy called Gus Newman, who is basically this kind of cranky, whiskery, old New York lawyer. And I think so far, the old cranky guys have it over what he calls the youthful brains trust on the government table.

HH: 30 seconds, right now, is Conrad Black going to jail for the rest of his life, Mark Steyn?

MS: I don't think so. I think the government is having a hard time stating where the crime is here.

Dangdut!

Opinion Journal profiles Inul Daratista, an Indonesian dangdut musician who's a little too hot for the santri, though the abagan like her fine.

Explaining Jewish Genius

Charles Murray, a "Scots-Irish Gentile," has a fascinating article in the April issue of Commentary wherein he ponders the exceptional (on average) intelligence of Jews.
A group's mean intelligence is important in explaining outcomes such as mean educational attainment or mean income. The key indicator for predicting exceptional accomplishment (like winning a Nobel Prize) is the incidence of exceptional intelligence. Consider an IQ score of 140 or higher, denoting the level of intelligence that can permit people to excel in fields like theoretical physics and pure mathematics. If the mean Jewish IQ is 110 and the standard deviation is 15, then the proportion of Jews with IQ's of 140 or higher is somewhere around six times the proportion of everyone else.
That's what, but why? Murray proposes a new theory.
Between the 1st and 6th centuries C.E., the number of Jews in the world plummeted from about 4.5 million to 1.5 million or fewer. About 1 million Jews were killed in the revolts against the Romans in Judea and Egypt. There were scattered forced conversions from Judaism to another religion. Some of the reduction may be associated with a general drop in population that accompanied the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. But that still leaves a huge number of Jews who just disappeared.

What happened to them? Botticini and Eckstein argue that an economic force was at work: for Jews who remained farmers, universal education involved a cost that had little economic benefit. As time went on, they drifted away from Judaism. I am sure this explanation has some merit. But a more direct explanation could involve the increased intellectual demands of Judaism.
Simply put, they mandated literacy.
People with modest intelligence can become functionally literate, but they are able to read only simple texts. The Torah and the Hebrew prayer book are not simple texts; even to be able to read them mechanically requires fairly advanced literacy. To study the Talmud and its commentaries with any understanding requires considerable intellectual capacity. In short, during the centuries after Rome's destruction of the Temple, Judaism evolved in such a way that to be a good Jew meant that a man had to be smart.

What happened to the millions of Jews who disappeared? It is not necessary to maintain that Jews of low intelligence were run out of town because they could not read the Torah and commentaries fluently. Rather, few people enjoy being in a position where their inadequacies are constantly highlighted. It is human nature to withdraw from such situations. I suggest that the Jews who fell away from Judaism from the 1st to 6th centuries C.E. were heavily concentrated among those who could not learn to read well enough to be good Jews—meaning those from the lower half of the intelligence distribution. Even before the selection pressures arising from urban occupations began to have an effect, I am arguing, the remaining self-identified Jews circa 800 C.E. already had elevated intelligence.
In fact Murray suggests that selection for intelligence my go ever further back.
The biblical account clearly states that only a select group of Jews were taken to Babylon. We read that Nebuchadnezzar "carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans. . . . Only the poorest people of the land were left" (2 Kings 24:10).

In effect, the Babylonians took away the Jewish elites, selected in part for high intelligence, and left behind the poor and unskilled, selected in part for low intelligence. By the time the exiles returned, more than a century later, many of those remaining behind in Judah had been absorbed into other religions. Following Ezra's command to "separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives" (Ezra 10:9), only those who renounced their foreign wives and children were permitted to stay within the group. The returned exiles, who formed the bulk of the reconstituted Jewish community, comprised mainly the descendants of the Jewish elites—plausibly a far more able population, on average, than the pre-captivity population.
Read it all, if this sort of thing interests you. It certainly does me.

Violent Mainstream Muslims


Just when you thought you'd parsed all the varieties of Sunni, Shia, Sufi, and Wahhabi, Tawfik Hamid has another nut-bunch to warn you about: Salafi.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Puppy Killer

The New York Post has deep-sixed the Giuliani campaign. They'll never recover from this.

In Memory of Private Moyse

"15 British Agressors [sic] must be EXECUTED." That was the placard being held up by some beetle-browed Iranian outside the British Embassy in Tehran. Well, I don't entirely disagree. I certainly think that those British captives who have let themselves be put forward on Iranian TV, that woman wearing a headscarf, and the young man apologizing to the Iranian gangster-rulers, should be court-martialed for dereliction of duty when they get back to Blighty, with shooting definitely an option.
John Derbyshire in the New English Review.

It was Moyse who inspired the poetry mentioned earlier.

Never, Never, Never

Cartoon by Sam Ryskind, by way of Instapundit and Powerline.

Violent Religious Fanatics (1857)

Carrie Sheffield in Political Mavens:
"September Dawn," a new movie depicting the slaughter of 120 innocent pioneers by zealous Utah Mormons in 1857, features Jon Voight as a fanatical bishop who claims the travelers took part in the assassination of church founder Joseph Smith.The film is historical fiction based on accounts of an event known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, when Mormons in southern Utah and southern Paiute Indians murdered members of an Arkansas pioneer wagon train en route to California.
Acknowledging that the history remains controversial, the movie's makers provide a valuable page of links to background sources.

The Housing Dominoes Fall

The Mail Tribune:
After five years in which median sale prices for homes in the Florence area surged more than 100 percent, to $243,000, buyers have backed off.

There were 320 homes sold in and around Florence in 2006, a steep drop from the 449 houses sold in 2005 and the 561 the year before that, said Tawfik Adhab, a Eugene appraiser who authored a 2006 review of the greater Florence market. "What we had is a huge withdrawal of buyers."...

Until recently, retirees from states such as California arrived on the Oregon Coast with fat wallets, thanks to their home equity. This in-migration was a big factor in driving up housing values with such severity that lower-income workers were priced right out of the market, Adhab said.

But when the national housing boom slowed last year, it showed just how tied to the rest of the nation Florence is.

Unable to unload their properties in other areas, potential buyers who want to relocate to Florence can't afford to — at least not yet, stalling the local market.
By the time my kids are ready for a summer home, it will be a buyer's market—if not a squatter's paradise.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Umpteenth Annual

Festival of Free Flight will be held in Lakeview, Oregon June 29th through July 4th, 2007.
"We really seem to have gotten a reputation as the best place on the West Coast for paragliding and hang gliding," said Caro Johnson, the Lake County Chamber of Commerce's executive director.

"Lakeview has been known as the Hang Gliding Capital of the West," said Gail Haley, who is organizing national paragliding and first-ever Hang-On events. "The hang gliding pilots love Lakeview because they can get up, stay up longer and go far."
Herald and News article here. Official schedule here.

Our New Range

"Just don't tell me what it cost," I told her, "It's better if I don't know."

Leslie has taste and style, and that combination usually means expensive. I just tell myself that if you pro-rate it over twenty years it's not that bad. Still, you used to be able to buy a brand-new car for that much. But the car did a lousy job on pizzas.

More pictures here. If you can suppress your intense jealousy for just a moment, check out the center griddle element and the bottom pizza oven.

1,000 Words

Instapundit linked to this item by Don Surber but I will too. To quote verbatim:
One of the most touching photos in years taken by an AP photographer moved across the wires last night and few newspapers published it. The Daily Mail did. It showed President Bush helping Robert Byrd walk.

The occasion was the overdue awarding of a congressional Gold Medal to the Tuskegee airmen who served in World War II. There is irony there.

But there also is compassion from President Bush. This may be why the photo received so little play in the newspapers today.
Click through to the original for the unique photo effect that caught Mr. Reynold's eye.

Here's Hoping

Jules Crittenden:
I hope by the time you read this, it is out of date. Frankly, I'm amazed as I write this it hasn't happened already. I am dumbfounded that the Iranians have persisted, with no practical goal beyond harassments and humiliation, and I am exasperated that our usually strong leadership has allowed them to do so.

I hope that by the time you read this, the cruise missiles have already impacted; the stealth bombers have taken out radar and missiles sites; the land and sea blockade is in place "... nothing moving in or out of an Iranian port and any road traffic that doesn't risk death from above. I hope, by the time you read this, the destruction of Iran's military infrastructure is underway.

Get Out Of Portland

The Mail Tribune:
Freightliner says the layoffs in Portland are tied to a change in the trucking business rather than economic trends: New federal emissions requirements prompted trucking companies to buy large quantities last year, resulting in a slump this year. Freightliner and competitors have laid off hundreds.

"I don't have enough orders," said Chris Patterson, Freightliner chief executive.

Freightliner is taking the opportunity to shift production of its signature-brand trucks from Portland to plants in North Carolina and Mexico.
I interviewed with Freightliner a couple years ago in the historic Montgomery Ward building in northwest Portland, a beautiful old building with a huge atrium in the center where the railroad used to go.
The building was designed for large quantity shipping and receiving of mail orders. Engineers designed the building with two sets of dedicated tracks to bring rail cars into the building, and the Northern Pacific Terminal Company ran the switching of the tracks. The design allowed workers to load and unload freight in various departments as the car was pulled through the building.
Those were the old days, before the socialist takeover, when Portland was a worker's paradise.

A Boomer Stalks Carmen

Read the whole thing, as they say.