Thursday, May 31, 2007

2007 Scripps Champion

Evan M. O'Dorney of Walnut Creek, California (or Danville, or San Ramon—accounts differ) won the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee with the word "serrefine" Thursday.

Evan's favorite subjects are math and music; he doesn't really care for spelling. It's "just a bunch of memorization."

Evan, it hardly bears mentioning, is not a product of the public school system.

Not Reagan But Still

Michael Tanner of Cato asks Is Fred Thompson a Small-Government Conservative?

The answer, generally, is yes.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader wheezed:
On June 8th the leaders of the world's seven main industrial countries will meet in Venice for an annual economic summit that is widely expected to achieve nothing.
OK, wake me when it's over.

(By the way, here's a history question: The G7 seven are now the G8. Who were the original seven and who's the new guy?)

The Economist devoted four full pages to Paul Volcker, miracle man at the Fed. Would President Reagan replace him? With whom?
Then there is the secretary of state, Mr George Shultz, but he is rather old. Mr Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in 1974-76, seems to have the most going for him; a touch older than Mr Volcker, he has made enough money from his consulting firm (and the bond market) to be prepared to take the pay cut. But some argue that it takes a year and a half to master the Fed job.
Hope he has time.

Meanwhile a new study shed "light on why communist countries dropped into economic crisis a decade ago, and what Mr Gorbachev needs to do about it."
Everybody, except the privilegensia, recognises that this system cannot last. One method of reform, which Mr Gorbachev seemed to recommend to the Communist party in Romania this week, might be to retain privileges for the party but replace central planning by greater heed to the markets.
Yeah, that's the ticket! Keep the privileges, lose the job—kind of like paid leave, eh, Nicolae?

In the computer industry advances were made on the user interface front:
Like Apple's Macintosh, IBM's standard will allow the user to divide his screen into windows, with each window giving a view of a different program; and it will provide menus as a guide through unfamiliar programs. Unlike Apple, IBM also hopes to provide some standards for the "shortcuts" with which users sidestep menus.
The new product would be called "Presentation Manager." Remember that?

Home Built Terror

How stuff works by Marshall Brain:
How can Palestinians manufacture rockets in their basements? The key is to think small and to use everyday items wherever possible. Therefore, a Kassam rocket starts with a simple iron tube. In other words, you start with a piece of pipe. In a Kassam rocket, the pipe is usually about 6 feet long and 6 or 7 inches in diameter. At one end of the piece of pipe you weld on four simple fins made of sheet metal. The sheet metal can come from anywhere — an old car fender will do.

Since this is a rocket, it needs some kind of rocket fuel inside the pipe. Palestinians use the simplest fuel possible. It is made of sugar and potassium nitrate, also known as saltpeter. The obvious question most people have is, "Sugar?" It turns out that sugar contains quite a lot of energy. You can see that energy when you are roasting marshmallows and one of them catches on fire. The problem is that sugar does not burn fast enough to use it as a rocket fuel. The potassium nitrate solves that problem by providing an oxidizer that accelerates the reaction. In the United States, there is a whole category of model rocketry called "Candy Rockets." American hobbyists hold competitions to see who can create the highest-flying sugar-powered rockets. The Palestinians have simply taken the hobby to an extreme.

Push Finally Came To Shove

The Mail Tribune reports:
The Gold Hill Police Department will disband in one month.

Council members during a special meeting Wednesday night voted unanimously to disband the controversial department effective June 30.

Public Works Director Royal Gasso confirmed the decision Wednesday night, though council members present were unable to comment because they were attending a dispute-resolution workshop that began right after the meeting to discuss the police department.
No, that's not a snarky comment—that's the actual news report.

And typical of the Gold Hill City Council, they were unprepared with an alternative, such as contracting with the Jackson County Sheriff.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Next Role: President Thompson

Fred Thompson has played the part of other U.S. Presidents — Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant.

Now it is time to play the part of the next President of the United States: Fred Dalton Thompson.

Crooked River Ranch

Site of the 16th Annual Durand Family Campout.

Here's the topo map.

And here's the aerial photograph.

Their web site's here.

LOLCODE

Can cats has programz?
    HAI
CAN HAS STDIO?
I HAS A VAR
GIMMEH VAR
IZ VAR BIGGER THAN 10 O RLY?
YA RLY
BTW this is true
VISIBLE "BIG NUMBER!"
NO WAI
BTW this is false
VISIBLE "LITTLE NUMBER!"
KTHX
KTHXBYE
THX to Language Log for noting this.

The Case for Bombing Iran

Norman Podhoretz:
Although many persist in denying it, I continue to believe that what Sept 11, 2001, did was to plunge us headlong into nothing less than another world war. I call this new war World War IV, because I also believe that what is generally known as the Cold War was actually World War III, and that this one bears a closer resemblance to that great conflict than it does to World War II. Like the Cold War, as the military historian Eliot Cohen was the first to recognize, the one we are now in has ideological roots, pitting us against Islamofascism, yet another mutation of the totalitarian disease we defeated first in the shape of Nazism and fascism and then in the shape of communism; it is global in scope; it is being fought with a variety of weapons, not all of them military; and it is likely to go on for decades.
Required reading of the day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Remington 700 Trigger Adjustments

"A really good trigger action," says Jeff Cooper, "will go further in making you a deadly field marksman than any other factor about your weapon."

As it turns out I won't need a gunsmith to adjust the trigger on my Remington 700, provided I'm willing to void the warranty. To hell with that. That's what gunsmiths are for. When it comes to trigger tuning, there are plenty of good articles on the internet telling exactly how to go about it.

The first article I found, and the simplest method, was by Quarterbore:
The Remington trigger system is a very good system that in years past came directly from the factory with a crisp and reasonable pull. These days however, Remington is producing triggers that are not as smooth and are liability proof with pull weights that have gotten to the point of being ridiculous.
The second article was by Pablito Coburn of Sniper Country who warned that Remington takes a very dim view of adjusting their triggers. If you subsequently send the gun to Remington for service, they will charge you for a new trigger assembly. That's stupid, he says:
Adjusting triggers is something that was once an expected job by the owner of a new gun, just like adjusting the seats in your new car.
His article also has the best drawing.

Finally, Michigan Mike at the Alaska Shooting Forum was not so methodical, but simply and clearly described his own experience with a brand new 700:
I took it home and tested the trigger and found that it was about 8 pounds. Instead of taking it to a gunsmith, I decided to research the topic of trigger adjustment and try it myself. Here is what I found...
Together these articles pretty much told me everthing I needed to know to safely adjust my new Remington 700's trigger to Cooper's ideal of "forty ounces, crisp."

Could Be Worse I Guess

Welcome to the life of the overpaid engineer.

When five out of seven days dissolve into line drawings and the two at week's end seem only pale watercolors, one begins to wonder when, if ever, the work will end and the fun begin.

Meanwhile my bohemian friend whines about his empty life. It's a prince and pauper sort of thing.

Want to trade?

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Stories Behind Memorial Day

Peter Collier in Opinion Journal:
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors....

Not long ago I was asked to write the biographical sketches for a book featuring formal photographs of all our living Medal of Honor recipients. As I talked with them, I was, of course, chilled by the primal power of their stories. But I also felt pathos: They had become strangers--honored strangers, but strangers nonetheless--in our midst.
Take a moment to read thier stories.
We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys' adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we've heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we're uncertain about what we celebrate. We're the land of the free for one reason only: We're also the home of the brave.

Giant Worms?

Astronomy Picture of the Day:
Black spots have been discovered on Mars that are so dark that nothing inside can be seen.... The above hole is about the size of a football field and is so deep that it is completely unilluminated by the Sun.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Same Service 40% Less

The Mail Tribune:
Outsourcing library operations has the potential to knock 40 percent off the budget for all 15 branches in Jackson County, says the executive director of the Jackson County Library Foundation.

Jim Olney said preliminary discussions with Library Systems and Services LLC (known by the acronym LSSI), a Maryland-based library management company, indicate to him the cost of operating the libraries could be reduced from $8 million to $5 million....

LSSI has managed a 32-branch system for 10 years in Riverside, Calif., where it rehired many of the librarians who lost their jobs when the county-run system prepared to shut down. The company also operates libraries in Shasta County and in Redding, Calif.

The company cuts costs by reducing the number of managers and by consolidating services, said Olney. For library patrons, there would be little difference in the level of service, he said.
They can do for $5 million what cost us $8 million. It makes you wonder why our local library administrators couldn't do the same. Are they that incompetent?

Probably yes, and I'm not surprised.

Friday, May 25, 2007

How Not To Boat

If you should go for a cruise this Memorial Day weekend, take care to do it in style:
GARIBALDI - If it had taken even a few more minutes for rescuers to reach the sinking charter fishing boat and its eight occupants last Saturday, it might have been disastrous.

Crew and passengers bailed frantically as the rapidly rising water filled the boat, buying valuable time for the Bullfrog, said its skipper and Holiday Charters owner Al Barney. His 32-foot boat sank 10 miles out from Tillamook Bay May 19, about 7:30 a.m.

All were rescued by the crew of the charter boat D&D of Garibaldi Charters...
Not that style, though—too much water.

You could also have too little.
At 1:53 a.m., U.S. Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay received a distress call from the skipper of the Evening Star, who said his sailboat had just struck bottom. Intending to sail into Yaquina Bay, he reportedly had thought he was alongside the south jetty, rather than the north jetty, and once the error was discovered, the boat was already in the surf....

After the sailboat ran aground about 30 years from the beach, the skipper and two crewmen were able to get aboard a dinghy and paddle to the beach. They made it safely ashore.
Now if they could just make it back to sea.

Sutherlin Super Squashes Scouts

Well this stinks.
At a press conference Thursday, Cub Scouts Pack 143 Chairman Jay Johnson and Doug Fir District Unit Commissioner Ed Gundy said they plan to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office against Sutherlin School District Superintendent John Lahley....

Lahley said no organizations are allowed to meet with students at Sutherlin elementary schools. He said if the district allowed one organization to come in, it would have to allow any group the same privilege.

But Johnson and Gundy want to put fliers in packets teachers distribute on Fridays or pass them out at lunchtime.

Parent Jack Strong said his second-grade son has brought home fliers from the YMCA and Sutherlin Parks and Recreation Department, and Gundy said other schools allow him to talk with their students.

"I can go to any school district, any school building in this county, and they welcome me with open arms, whatever I want to do," Gundy said. "And it's unbelievable that we can't do the exact same thing in this school district as we can in other school districts, and we're asking for no more. Just allow us to pass out fliers, a simple act."

Lahley said the district has a special relationship with the city Parks and Recreation Department, so it is allowed to send fliers home in student packets.
But not the Cub Scouts.

Contact:
John Lahley, Superintendent
john.lahley@sutherlin.k12.or.us

Not Better Off?

File this under "hell in a handbasket":
(WASHINGTON) — American men have less income than their fathers' generation did at the same age, according to a new analysis released today by the Economic Mobility Project, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The lead story's in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required, and I don't have one, so no excerpts either). The above quote's from the Pew site, which has the report in full (PDF), twelve pages, full of color glossy charts. I've printed out the two pages with the data behind the headlines, and I'll add my harrumph as soon as I've read it.

Update: Harrumph. Cherry-picked their data, they did. I suspected as much.

Median income has fluctuated quite a bit in the last fifty years, and their selection of 1964-1994 and 1974-2004 seemed suspicious. If they had shifted just one year to the right they would have had no story at all.

Also their definition of "generation" as thirty years was arbitrary. There's twenty-five years between my dad and me—what if they had used that? Say, 1970-1995 and 1980-2005?

Exact opposite conclusion!

James O. Hall, Historian

Andrew Ferguson says don't leave scholarship to the professionals. James Hall didn't.
"I had to teach myself genealogy," he said. "Not because I liked genealogy, but because it's how you find things that have been lost." Over the years, he tried to trace the descendants of everyone even remotely tied to the assassination. When he found a new great-granddaughter or the grandson of a nephew, he politely peppered that person with letters and phone calls, asking the descendant to rummage through attics--or offering, even better, to do it himself. His industry never flagged, and it led him to some of his greatest discoveries. In a dusty cubby in a forgotten archive, Mr. Hall made one of the major Lincoln finds of the past 50 years: a letter of self-justification Booth wrote the morning of the murder.

Typically, in 1977, Mr. Hall chose to publish this astonishing find in the Lincoln Log, a newsletter for buffs. Its circulation was minuscule compared with the slick magazines--National Geographic or American Heritage--that would have loved to showcase such a find and maybe make its discoverer famous. But Mr. Hall was without professional vanity; that's what it means to be an amateur, after all.

Islamophobic—With Good Reason

Muslim reformer Tawfik Hamid:
To bring an end to Islamophobia, we must employ a holistic approach that treats the core of the disease. It will not suffice to merely suppress the symptoms. It is imperative to adopt new Islamic teachings that do not allow killing apostates (Redda Law). Islamic authorities must provide mainstream Islamic books that forbid polygamy and beating women. Accepted Islamic doctrine should take a strong stand against slavery and the raping of female war prisoners, as happens in Darfur under the explicit canons of Shariah ("Ma Malakat Aimanikum"). Muslims should teach, everywhere and universally, that a woman's testimony in court counts as much as a man's, that women should not be punished if they marry whom they please or dress as they wish.
He's been accused of Islamophobia himself. A muslim Islamophobe? Hey, just because you're Islamophobic doesn't mean they aren't trying to kill you.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Graduations of the Jug

Two gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs may be graduated thus: Just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of the first jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death or longing. A thumb, every other song each one knows. The graduations stop here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point on anything can happen.
—John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, p. 23.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

Europe was tense:
The Germans say they are a special case, and they are right. Geography has always made them special: a powerful people who sit in the middle of Europe, on a plain across which cavalry can gallop and tanks can clatter, between strong and watchful rivals. Their history, in consequence, has been special too, not least in that awful darkness of 1933-45. All this helps to explain why some of today's West Germans feel that the removal of NATO's middle-range missiles from Europe will leave them uniquely exposed and vulnerable to Soviet power. France's Mr Chirac and Britain's Mrs Thatcher also have their doubts about the double-zero deal. But Britain and France don't sit in the front line where democracy faces Marxism, as Mr Kohl's country does.
"Where democracy faces Marxism." We have largely forgotten that great struggle now, twenty years on. My children know as much of the communist threat as I know of travel by stagecoach. Their high school history teachers are most likely incapable of teaching it.

Mrs Thatcher also faced Marxism at home:
The Thatcher government has had one radical instinct on housing: to break the feudal power of local government over its tennants by giving them the right to buy their own houses. So 1m tennants have bought their own houses, are largely free to sell them, and have thrown off the yoke that keeps many unemployed people stuck in the places where the chances of getting a job are cruelly small.
In other news 37 American sailors died when an Iraqi missile struck the frigate Stark.
...while Iraq's President Saddam Hussein expressed deep regret at what he called an "unitentional incident", Iran's leaders rejoiced over it.
Iran and Iraq had been at war for most of the decade; we didn't mind but preferred that they keep it to themselves.

Around the globe China and India faced each other nervously in Tibet, gold rose to $470 per ounce, oil dropped to $18.75 a barrel, and Silicon Valley property developers "desperate for a return on empty buildings are offering up to two years' free rent on a five-year lease."

Something had to give.

To The Summit And Back

The Mail Tribune:
Mountain climber Brian Smith, a 1988 graduate of South Medford High School, reached the top of Mount Everest at exactly 2:50 a.m. today Nepalese time in dark and cold conditions....

Brian Smith, Willie Benegas and a Sherpa named Tendi all summited and were descending in calm, cold conditions, according to a message posted on Mountain Madness' Web site at www.mountainmadness.com.
Mountain Madness reports that they are safely back at Camp II.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

U.S. v. Miller: A History

I don't usually read law journal articles (heck, I never read law journal articles) but Professor Reynolds recommended this one and it's actually pretty good.
Abstract: This article provides a comprehensive history and interpretation of United States v. Miller, the only Supreme Court case construing the Second Amendment. It presents evidence Miller was a test case designed by the government to test the constitutionality of federal gun control....
Given that Parker v. District of Columbia appears headed (they haven't actually agreed to review it yet) to the Supreme Court this background and history may be essential to understanding future opinions.

Smoking Puppies

You learn some odd things flipping through the pages of an old encyclopedia, or, lacking that, the internet.
Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare (to praise, to bless, to preach) is the motto of the Dominicans.
And
When pregnant with Dominic, his mother had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth.
So that explains the Bong Dog in Lilek's latest Bleat.

Getting On

Lileks took Jasper to the vet:
Since he's an old dog, they gave him a geriatric exam as well. He's in tremendous shape, and the vet said he could live many more years. He's trim, everything works, the joints are good, there's no glaucoma. His politics have shifted way to the right, though. It's either that or they become very accepting of all ideas, inasmuch as they give them much thought. To be expected. He's also become insistent about getting scraps — and don't look at me, I've never given him scraps. But I live with soft-hearted wimmen. It's gotten to the point where he does not believe there is no more food to be had, so I have to pick him up and show him the surface of the table. And he's 54 pounds. Well, it's good exercise.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Faster Than The Darned Shipboard Computer

I need to study up on the FARs, and refresh my memory on the use of the E6-B flight computer, a skill which we believe will still be useful in the far distant future.

A Field Guide

New from Penguin: A Field Guide to Left-Wing Wackos
Here's everything you need to know about Anarchists, Peace Moms, Granolas, and many other types of left-wing wackos . . . so you can annoy them before they annoy you!

Dreadlocks. Megaphones. The stench of patchouli oil and bad ideas. Who are these ridiculous characters clogging our streets and college campuses, protesting everything from ""American imperialism"? to genetically modified food to tax cuts?

And how can an articulate, employed, sane person like yourself glean entertainment value from their antics?
By the folks from Bureaucrash. Available at Amazon.

Sometimes She Feels Discouraged

Paris Hilton's spotted carrying a bible and everyone immediately assumes it's just a cynical ploy. Geez. Give the girl a little credit.
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul
She just needs a little comfort in her time of trials and tribulations.

(Dredge drudged this one up.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pretty Good Reason

We Have To Start Over

Bill Sizemore tells about meeting Les Schwab:
Eventually, Les wrote me a check for $500, which for a man of his stature and ability, was a mere pittance. But unlike some rich guys, who will write you a thousand dollar check and act like they are Donald Trump, Les told me right up front why he wasn't giving more. Here is what he said, as best I remember his words: "Bill, you're a young man and I admire you for having the energy to keep up the fight, but I think it's too late to save this country. We are going to have to bottom out and start over before we can set things right again."
Via NW Republican.

In The Pattern At S03

I went flying again today with the same instructor. Before I can fly as Pilot In Command again I need to complete a Biennial Flight Review. As part of my preparation for that review, we went to practice landings. This would be my third hour in a 172.

"Why don't we go down to Ashland," I said, "It's a smaller field, and more interesting."

I was a little bumpy as we left Medford; the scattered cumulus clouds promised occasional turbulence. Winds were 310 at 9, gusting to 15. Ashland would certainly be worse. That's what I meant by "interesting."

I made three passable landings to a full stop; nothing to brag about, but Ashland's tough. There are three wind socks on the field and sometimes they all point in different directions. There are tall trees a few hundred feet from the approach end so you have a tendency to come in steep. And it's typical to sink suddenly as you cross the grassy field just before the threshold.

"Let me take it next time around," he said, "and give you a few pointers."

I got it set up on final and turned it over to him. He added another ten degrees of flaps. The winds were gusting to twenty knots, but pretty much down the runway. He talked a pretty good lesson, but kept interjecting "oops" and "darn". He flared and floated, and a little crosswind gust had him swinging the yoke to compensate. He touched down on the left wheel as he should but not as lightly as he would have liked. Still, it was passable. And I did pick up some pointers.

After we returned to Medford he said, "If you want to spend a little time next time on the knowledge test [oral exam] I'll sign you off on your BFR."

"Really?" I said, "I didn't think I did a very good job on those steep turns."

"What I'm concerned about on a BFR," he said, "is that you're not going to do anything stupid or get yourself killed."

"And if you can land at Ashland, you can land anywhere."

Barone On Immigration

Most on the Right are having conniption fits but Michael Barone says the immigration bill is a step in the right direction.
In his negotiations with Kennedy, Kyl has secured many provisions that make this bill more stringent than the one that passed the Senate last May by a vote of 62 to 36. That's a significant accomplishment.

Changing U.S. public policy is like steering a giant ship — it's impossible to sharply reverse course, but you can change the direction in a way that will make a significant difference over time.

That's what I think the Bush administration and House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas accomplished in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, much criticized by many conservatives. They sent the health care ship moving in the direction of market mechanisms and away from government ukase.

The Kennedy-Kyl immigration compromise, now under attack from many conservatives and some liberals, attempts to steer the immigration ship in the direction of regularization, enforcement that actually works and toward skill-based rather than family-based immigration. At least if they get the details right.
And the details, he says, are as yet unknown.

Proselytizing

Kevin Libin in the National Post:
First it was his world history class. Then he saw it in his economics class. And his world issues class. And his environment class. In total, 18-year-old McKenzie, a Northern Ontario high schooler, says he has had the film An Inconvenient Truth shown to him by four different teachers this year.

"I really don't understand why they keep showing it," says McKenzie (his parents asked that his last name not be used). "I've spoken to the principal about it, and he said that teachers are instructed to present it as a debate. But every time we've seen it, well, one teacher said this is basically a two-sided debate, but this movie really gives you the best idea of what's going on."
South of the border our Constitution prohibits "an establishment of religion," but in our state-run "education" camps the indoctrination into this cult continues. Resistance is, most likely, futile, but as every teenager knows, if you ignore them long enough they will eventually go away.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Immobilized

My nephew Jordan, in some "freakish accident at daycare" managed to break his femur. After fourteen hours in ER he came home wearing an almost full-body cast in which he'll be living for the next six to eight weeks.

Grandma's on her way, of course, but judging by that smile, I'd say that at present he's feeling no pain. Brave kid: 21 months old.

Volunteer

This one appeared outside my office window in a patch of weeds under the scotch broom.

Flying Again

On Thursday I took a Cessna up in the air for the first time since August, 2005. I'm a little rusty but I managed to demonstrate a few stalls, some steep turns, and a passable (nothing to brag about) landing. I would have done better in a little two-seater 152 such as I've logged almost all of my 170 hours in. But I need time and training in the larger four-seater 172. This was only my second hour in the bigger plane.

Pacific Aviation's C-172D was built in 1963 and still has the original radio. It also has manual flaps, something I've never seen before. There's a stick about thirty inches long laying on the floor. You reach down, depress the button on the end, and pull up on the stick. The flaps come down. It's quick and certain. It's also highly inconvenient. If you can reach your shoes, you can reach the flaps.

Trouble is, they've also installed a complete four-point harness, so you're wearing suspenders as well as a seat belt. Unfortunately, by the time you leave enough slack in the shoulder belts to reach the flap lever, they're just flapping around uselessly, getting in your way.

More on Monday. I think we'll fly down to Ashland and do some touch-and-goes.

You Cheated. The Deal's Off.

John Bolton on Pyongyang:
It is not even clear if North Korea actually gave up anything significant in the Feb. 13 deal. It is entirely possible, for example, that Yongbyon is now a hulk, well past its useful life span, and that the North agreed, in effect, to shut down a wreck. Even if Yongbyon is not in such parlous condition, it may be that the North has extracted all the plutonium possible from the fuel rods it has, and that Yongbyon therefore offers it nothing more. Here, the omissions in the Feb. 13 agreement become significant. The deal says nothing about the plutonium, perhaps weaponized perhaps not, that North Korea has already reprocessed.

How these issues play out will have ramifications far beyond North Korea, particularly for Iran. Some say the Bush administration entered the Feb. 13 deal because it desperately needed a success. One thing is for certain: It does not need a failure. The president can easily extricate himself from the deal, just based on North Korea's actions to date. He should take the first opportunity to do so.

Students Scrap One World

Aging-hippie-style -multiculturalism got thumbs down at SOU:
"Students decide how to spend the incidental fee they charge themselves," said Deb Myers, SOU Director of Student Activities and Leadership....

The series presented such performers as Habib Koite of Mali, Youssou N'Dour of Senegal, The Drummers of Burrundi and The Throat Singers of Tuva.
Throat singers, huh? Gee, I was going to wash my hair.
"The bottom line is that there was never big support for world music from the students," said Kelly, who took over the reigns of the series from founder Tom Olbrich six years ago....

"Over the years they cut the student prices in half," Kelly said of SOU students.

For the 2006-07 season, student tickets were $10.
Ten bucks for Youssou who?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nothing Easy About It

Born on a hardscrabble homestead in Crook County near Bend, he grew up in a two-room shack at a nearby logging camp, where he attended grade school in a converted boxcar with "crooked windows cut in the side."

His mother died of pneumonia when he was 15 and his father, an alcoholic, was found dead in front of a bar just before Schwab's 16th birthday.

An aunt and uncle offered to take him in but he rented a room at a Bend boarding house for $15 a month and delivered newspapers for The Oregon Journal while struggling to finish high school.

He got the coveted downtown delivery route and added another, and at 17 was making $200 a month, about $65 more than his high school principal, and owned the only new car at school, a Chevrolet two-door sedan.

After graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Harlan, and continued selling newspapers full-time. At 25, he took a job as circulation manager of The Bend Bulletin, but wanted to try something more lucrative.

He borrowed $11,000 from his brother-in-law in 1952, sold his house and borrowed on his life insurance policy. He walked away with O.K. Rubber Welders, a dilapidated tire franchise with no running water and an outdoor toilet. He knew nothing of tires and had no formal business training.
Les Schwab, dead at 89.

Sgt. Pepper

From the Journal's free pages:
Forty years later, it's easy to dismiss such lyrically slight songs as Mr. McCartney's "When I'm Sixty-Four" or George Harrison's meandering, sitar-driven "Within You Without You," but the bulk of "Sgt. Pepper" stands the test of time. For example, John Lennon's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is about an evening vaudeville romp where "Henry the Horse dances the waltz" and men leap through "a hogshead of real fire!" Another standout is Mr. McCartney's "Fixing a Hole," a dreamy and druggy meditation about fame and drudgery. He sings about "filling the cracks" in his door that "kept [his] mind from wandering," and chastises those who "disagree and never win and wonder why they don't get in my door."

It's not exactly T.S. Eliot, as some said at the time, but it's a long way from "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

On one point there is almost universal agreement: "A Day in the Life," a five-minute Lennon-McCartney collaboration that concludes "Sgt. Pepper," is the group's most accomplished song. Combining references to British current events and the narrator's utter boredom with urban routines, the song endorses the notion of dropping out of society, as Mr. Lennon sings, dreamily, "I'd love to turn you on."
Let's see. It's on my shelf here somewhere...

The Anti-Restrictionist View

The Wall Street Journal on the immigration bill:
On the plus side, the bill addresses the 12 million undocumented aliens living in the U.S. by providing a way for most to obtain legal status with minimal disruption to their lives or employers. In return for reporting to authorities, paying a $5,000 fine, passing a criminal-background check and making a "touch back" visit to their home country, illegal aliens would be eligible for a "Z" visa allowing them to keep working here.

Restrictionists are calling this "amnesty," but they were going to slap that label on anything this side of mass deportation. The public is understandably upset about the presence of so many illegal aliens in the U.S. But there is no evidence that voters want millions of foreign families--many of whom have been here for decades and have American children--uprooted and forcibly removed from the country. The restrictionist wing of the GOP simply wants no new immigration, and "amnesty" is merely a political slogan to kill any reform.
They've more to say, and it's worth pondering.

Why?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Warren Burger's Idiots

James Taranto in The Wall Street Journal:
What most professional jobs require is basic intellectual aptitude. And what has changed since the 1970s is that the court has developed a body of law that prevents employers from directly screening for such aptitude. The landmark case was Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971). A black coal miner claimed discrimination because his employer required a high-school diploma and an intelligence test as prerequisites for promotion to a more skilled position. The court ruled 8-0 in the miner's favor. "Good intent or absence of discriminatory intent does not redeem employment procedures or testing mechanisms that operate as 'built-in headwinds' for minority groups," Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote.

This became known as the "disparate impact" test, and it applies only in employment law. Colleges and universities remain free to use aptitude tests, and elite institutions in particular lean heavily on exams such as the SAT in deciding whom to admit. For a prospective employee, obtaining a college degree is a very expensive way of showing that he has, in effect, passed an IQ test.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

God's Continent

Jeremy Lott reviews the new book by Philip Jenkins:
Jenkins argues that there are at least two problems with the total Islamic deluge scenario. First, it assumes Muslim fertility rates of 10 or 15 years ago have held up, when they haven't. Fertility rates in the most majority Muslim countries are falling just as fast as they once did in Western countries. Between 1986 and 2000, average births per woman in Iran fell from 6 to 2, slightly below the replacement rate of 2.1. The Muslim world is currently more youthful than most developed nations, but it is rapidly graying.

Second, it assumes that native Europeans will not change their behavior in response to an increased Muslim presence. Recent evidence indicates that they might. Jenkins points out that births to natives have inched up in a few European nations. This prompted Financial Times columnist Christopher Caldwell to write, "In advanced societies, childbirth results only partly from natural drives." Financial incentives also matter to fertility, and civilizational clashes might not hurt. Europeans -- elites and commoners -- are starting to ponder birthrates in a way that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.
God's Continent is available from Amazon.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader had praise for the Thatcher Revolution:
For years, many Britons consoled themselves with the thought that, with what they had, they could still ensure a genteel life in the second league. Only when the third league—the Singapores, South Koreas and Brazils—began pinching custom from chunks of British business did people start to realise that comfortable inertia was not an option. The choice was either to compete, or to decline in growing discomfort.

The figures show that a choice has been made. In the five years 1982-86, Britain's GDP grew by a total of 14½%, France's by 8%, West Germany's by 9%. The British economy grew faster than America's in 1985 and 1986, and than Japan's in 1986, and will probably do so again this year.
In other news civilization continued to falter. American Survey noted the saga of the Mobro 4000:
After a voyage of more than 2,000 miles, a New York barge with a cargo of 3,000 tons of fly-blown rubbish has at last been offered a home: the Long Island town from which it came over seven weeks ago.
As John Tierney later pointed out, that was the point at which "the citizens of the richest society in the history of the planet suddenly became obsessed with personally handling their own waste."

And speaking of primitive technology,
The sale of CDs has only just begun to take off (see chart), thereby causing sales of conventional cassettes to flatten and accelerating the demise of the LP record. The longer the music industry can keep DAT locked up in Japan, the longer the CD will reign as the quality sound system.
DAT? Digital Audio Tape. Remember that? I don't either.

Bring It On

Robert A. Levy:
No doubt some anti-gun groups will urge the mayor not to seek Supreme Court review because D.C. might lose. And if D.C. lost, the repercussions for gun control regulations nationwide could be historic. Because of the tightly balanced cast of justices, and their unknown views on the Second Amendment, there's a real risk for both sides.
Via Instapundit.

We've noted the role of Mr. Levy before.

Nick and Cécelia

Cécilia, you're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh, Cécilia, I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to come home
Élysée?

Death and Gouging

George Will on who's gouging whom:
Actually, Pelosi's constituents are being gouged by people like Pelosi — by government. While oil companies make about 13 cents on a gallon of gasoline, the federal government makes 18.4 cents (the federal tax) and California's various governments make 40.2 cents (the nation's third-highest gasoline tax).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sense Of Foreboding II

The Economist warns us not to count on the Earth's magnetic field:
The geological record shows that it flips from time to time, with the south pole becoming the north, and vice versa. On average, such reversals take place every 500,000 years, but there is no discernible pattern. Flips have happened as close together as 50,000 years, though the last one was 780,000 years ago. But, as discussed at the Greenland Space Science Symposium, held in Kangerlussuaq this week, the signs are that another flip is coming soon....

Just when the magnetic field will flip is impossible to predict from what is known at the moment; the best guess is that there are still several centuries to go. Nor is it clear how long its protective shield will be down.

Grey Fox

I saw one of these little guys this morning about 6:15 trotting down the trail toward me. He stopped about fifty feet away when he saw me, then decided I was probably harmless and trotted another ten feet toward me before turning off and disappearing in the brush.

This isn't my picture—my reflexes aren't that good—but to the best of my recollection this is what he looked like. He was small; at first glance I thought he was a cat. My guide book says 8-11 pounds. He couldn't have been much bigger that eight.

Anarchy To Reign

If "that government is best which governs least" then that government is better which governs the lesser, and the citizens of Southern Oregon have voted overwhelmingly for better, smaller government.All in all, a very good day.

Update: Oregon Catalyst and Rogue Pundit concur.

Take special note of Rogue Pundit's post back in Janurary: We paid for those libraries once already, and got ripped off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

World's Smallest Violin

Majid Khan of Guantanamo Bay says is big problem how they are mentally torturing him:
They them self use the best kind of stuff but they give us cheap branded, unscented deodorant soap to wash ourselves with. Also, same goes for shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant, etc.

This camp gives us only twelve to fourteen pages of newsletter only once week. Most of the stuff is crap; only few pages are worth reading it.

In main rec no weight lifting machine, no toilet, no sink, no hoops, and even balls them self have little air in them; they hardly bounce.

Boris Baby

Kathryn Jean Lopez on NRO:
Boris Yeltsin's death last month affected me in a way that was surely unique. You see, he was my high-school crush.

Yes, I am serious. If you opened my locker at Dominican Academy in New York City, you would have found a picture of Yeltsin torn from Time magazine, as if it were Tiger Beat...

This May Take A While

Max Boot in Opinion Journal:
An article in USA Today reported on a Pentagon-funded study which confirms what military historians already know--an average insurgency can run for a decade, but most fail in the end. Translation: If we're going to be successful in Iraq, we're going to have to make a long-term commitment. That doesn't mean 170,000 U.S. combat troops stationed there for 10 years, but it does mean a substantial force--tens of thousands of soldiers--will be needed for many years to come. If we're planning to start withdrawing in September 2007--or even September 2008--we might as well run up the white flag now and let the great Iraqi civil war unfold in all its horror.

Monday, May 14, 2007

When The Lights Go Out...

You'll really appreciate your hand-cranked laptop!

Sense Of Foreboding?

Michael Barone:
Today's 21-year-old was three when the Berlin Wall came down; his or her parents were born well after World War II. Unlike people who lived through the experience of 1914-1918 or 1939-1945, they have no reason to draw the conclusion that everything can — and sometimes does — go terribly wrong.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Dealing With Employers

Hugh Hewitt talking with Mark Steyn, with a little Jay Leno thrown in
HH: Now Mark Steyn, you were mentioned this week on Jay Leno's show. I want to play that for the audience, and then get your reaction. Here is Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.

JL: I don't even understand this apology. You know, you do something wrong, you apologize. "The Ottawa Citizen and Southam News wish to apologize for our apology to Mark Steyn, Steyn published October 22nd. In correcting the incorrect statements about Mr. Steyn, published October 15th, we incorrectly published the incorrect correction. We accept and regret that our original regrets were unacceptable, and we apologize to Mr. Steyn for any previous distress caused by our previous apology." Think a lawyer wrote that?

HH: Mark Steyn, what are you doing on Jay Leno? What's going on?

MS: I always love that. That actually ties into the Conrad Black thing. That comes from the good old days when he owned all the newspapers up in Canada. And I was a columnist for the National Post up there, and another columnist who I had a kind of feud with had, I argued, grossly libeled me in a column. So I called this kind of mid-level executive, and demanded an apology. And the guy thought I deserved an apology, but he gave me a rather sort of cheese paring one, and not on the terms we'd agreed. As you know, these things are usually agreed. So I flounced off in a big queeny huff, and simply ceased writing for all of Conrad Black's newspapers.

HH: Oh my.

MS: And so then, this executive realized he was in big trouble, and they came groveling back to negotiate things. And I said there's no money, there's no"...you haven't got enough money to make me come back. And he said, so he goes, what would make you come back? And I then dictated this apology, more or less, off the top of my head. And he said to me, you're joking. We're going to look like a bunch of idiots. And I said you should have thought about that before you wrecked the first apology. And that is, by the way, again, to bring everything back to James Lileks, that is how I would advise him to treat the Star Tribune.

Friday, May 11, 2007

41¢ On Monday

Jeez, I still have 2¢ stamps left over from last time.

For that matter I still have 37¢ stamps!

Back To Everest

We're not following Brian Smith too closely but we have mentioned him before. After an attack of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) at 21,000 feet, he returned to the little town of Namche for a few days to recover. Now he's headed back up.
I plan to arrive back in base on the 13th, rest on the 14th and then leave again the 15th, climbing back up to Camp III at around 24,000 feet on the 17th. I will climb alone to Camp III, and Mila Sherpa will be at Camp II to cook a few meals for me and help out if high-altitude pulmonary edema nails me again. My team is planning on the 16th to summit, so we should cross paths at some point on the upper mountain.

There are many factors between here and the summit. First I must stay healthy enough to go straight up the mountain. I am very motivated, strong and full of energy once again, but if my cough returns, I am finished as I am much more susceptible to HAPE on this second trip now.
We wish him luck.

Clearing Brush On Catalina Island

The LA Times has a nice photo gallery here.

If you're concerned about our precious natural resources going up in flames, consult Google maps. There's nothing important there.

You Bet He Does

Bob Novak on Al Gore:
He likes being rich ... he likes being an Oscar-winner and I think he likes being fat, too.

Debating Ms. Royal

Peggy Noonan can occasionally be maddeningly simplistic. Sometimes, though, that elementary approach uncovers truths that sophistication misses.
What Mr. Sarkozy had going for him in the debate is that he was not afraid of Ms. Royal because she was a woman. He was not undone by her femininity. American candidates seem much more awkward in this area. When up against a strong woman, male candidates don't know what is appropriate and standard political aggression and what is ungentlemanly bullying.

Mr. Sarkozy was not afraid or tentative. He was poised. He seemed to think he was facing a formidable adversary, and it didn't matter whether it was a man or a woman, it mattered that she was a socialist and socialism isn't helpful. And so he approached her as a person who is wrong.
Will that have application in the case of Mrs. Clinton? Maybe.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Magazines I Wish My Barber Subscribed To

Love that slogan: "Setting the standard for decency in greasy old car culture magazines." With Iowahawk writing for them, you know they're tastefully decent. Or decently tasteful. Or tasty. Something.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader just shook its editorial head at Gary Hart:
Not even his critics deny the ex-senator's intelligence, vigour and experience of Washington. Had his attributes stopped there, he might have emerged from his brush with the Miami Herald with nothing worse than the kind of reputation Jack Kennedy acquired only after his death.... But Mr Hart's attributes are not all admirable. Doubts persist about his character—the name change, the age change. The circumstances of his meeting with Miss Donna Rice, not to speak of his subsequent handling of the incident, intensify the doubts.

Better to expose such weaknesses early, it may be argued, than to see them emerge only in office.
As we did a decade later, five years and a day into the Presidency of Bill Clinton.

In other less interesting news the Congressional investigation of the arms-for-hostages deal with Iran and military aid for the Nicaraguan contras got under way, and CIA director William Casey rather conveniently got out of testifying by dying on the second day.

The Economist unfortunately still published all its photographs in black and white, else the portrait of the gorgeous red-haired blue-eyed Athena on page 53 would have been suitable for framing.
Short of an earthquake, it's Mrs Thatcher by lengths, maybe furlongs. That was the message of the opinion polls this week.
And in science there was more good news.
Cows look like being the first agricultural producers to have their output boosted by genetic engineering.
Good news, that is, unless you're a farmer.
In these strange times of persistent agricultural surpluses, the people who should be delighted by this product—the farmers—are suspicious.
Persistent agricultural surpluses. The twenty-first century had truly begun. And true to form, not everyone was happy about it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Boredom...

Or more precisely ennui, which at root connotes annoyance.

Expect blogging to be light until I recover my sense of irony.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Endangered Species?

Milo (The News-Review):
A few weeks prior, Moore didn't know the difference between Kincaid's lupine and Pyrola secunda. But that was before U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Roseburg gave Moore and two other timber managers a free seminar on identifying Kincaid's lupine, listed as a threatened plant in 2000 under the Endangered Species Act.

Now the timber managers look for Kincaid's lupine on land and near roads, rather than drive past it, oblivious to its delicate living situation. Their alertness is due to a voluntary agreement between three timber companies, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, to protect and propagate the threatened species.
Oh good grief. This stuff? Nugget Butte's lousy with it.

American Demographics

Michael Barone takes a look at demographic trends in America: the Coastal Megalopolises vs. the Interior Boomtowns vs. the old Rust Belt vs. the Static Cities. All very interesting, even if the political implications do not ultimately hold.

But the best news is in the footnote at the bottom:
Mr. Barone is a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report and author of "Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers," published this month by Crown.
This is Mr. Barone's first work of history and I look forward to reading it. He writes very well and, unlike some writers, never writes without something interesting to say.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ideological Balance

Premier psephologist Michael Barone looks for historical patterns in the French elections.
The French have been divided, pretty evenly, between left and right, going back to the 19th century. The big division then was between a secular left embodied in the small town by the local state schoolmaster and the religious right embodied in the small town by the local Catholic priest. The French typically sent their sons to the state school, their daughters to the Catholic school. The secular left tended to win most of the time in the Third Republic from 1870 to 1940, when only men could vote... When women got the vote after World War II, French politics shifted to the right.
Addendum. Why did we pay any attention to the French election?
  1. Their campaign season was mercifully short.
  2. There was more than a dime's worth of difference between the parties.
  3. Their female socialist candidate was not as ugly as ours.

Careful What You Wish For

James Lileks, May 1st:
...in the 1930's, the Minneapolis Star was a tabloid, and it was hard hitting, and it had big, huge, screaming headlines, and it was a joy to read. What they did was they just simply blanketed the city. They sent a lot of people out, and guys came back with a couple of stories every day, and banged them out.
Gee. Let's let the Star Tribune think about that for a few days.

James Lileks, May 7th:
...they've killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories.
Really?

Whatever gave them that boneheaded idea?

Gold Hill At Sunrise

Temperature inversion. A little fog above the river. Today will be warm.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy 53 To 47 Royal

The Economist:
Two elements seemed to have lifted his score late in the campaign. One was his performance during a televised debate with Ms Royal, in which he kept his cool and stuck to his policy briefs, while she lashed out at him with surprising aggression. The other was that, while Ms Royal made an abrupt turn away from her political base on the left in a bid to court the centre ground, Mr Sarkozy kept to his first-round message: essentially, that France has to change, that work needs to be valued, effort rewarded, and authority strengthened.
And yes, there were riots.

Looks Like An Air Burst

Nuclear Blast hit Greensburg, Kansas.
Widespread destruction is shown in Greensburg, Kan., Saturday, May 5, 2007. Most of this southwest Kansas town was destroyed by a tornado, part of a violent storm system blamed for at least nine deaths, officials said Saturday amid warnings of more severe weather. The tornado that struck Greensburg late Friday damaged about 95 percent of the town

Coping With Abundance

Virginia Postrel has some thoughts, and a nice little photo of a dinner for four—$6.00. That brought to mind more piles of food.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Radio Silence

Dr. Seth Shostak has heard nothing from Gliese 581c:
The extraterrestrials might have been off the air when we were listening. Maybe their transmitter power was insufficient for our receivers, or perhaps we were tuned to the wrong part of the dial. There are many ways not to find an alien broadcast.
John Tierney has the story.

Depends How You Look At It

X-ray, optical, and infrared spectrum photos of the Sombrero galaxy. Today's APOD.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Straight From The Horse's...

There seems to be some confusion about what the candidate actually said this morning.
Le choix de Nicolas Sarkozy est un choix dangereux, je ne veux pas que la France soit orientée vers un système de brutalité. Cette candidature est à risque. Il est de ma responsabilité de lancer une alerte par rapport aux risques de cette candidature et aux violences et aux brutalités qui se déclencheront dans le pays. Tout le monde le sait et personne ne le dit; c'est une sorte de tabou.

—Ségolène Royal
Hope that clears it up.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader informed:
Japan's policy of protecting its rice farmers at all costs has contributed mightily to a second great nonsense: the astronomical price of land. The 122m Japanese live in a small mountainous country only a third of which is habitable. Almost half of the habitable land is devoted to farming, and half of that to growing rice. In Japan last year, an acre of rice paddy cost the equivalent of $30,000; in California, it could have been bought for $1,600.
Those were the days.

In other news the dollar fell or the pound rose; it was not clear which. At any rate the British pound cost $1.67 and that seemed to be a bad thing. A pound costs $1.99 now, but no one seems concerned about it any more.

White South Africans prepared to vote.
When the National party talks of reform, it has in mind the removal of pieces of racial discrimination and, maybe, the creation of black municipalities and advisory bodies. The blacks want much more than that. They want equality at the polling booths. The bloodier the path they have to tread to that prize, the slimmer the chance that they will then let their white fellow-countrymen preserve a life worth living in South Africa.
A Malthusian spectre still stalked the developing world.
For all the fear that turbulence at the top of the Communist party will slow down China's economic reforms, one of the biggest threats to the country's prosperity is still its expanding population. In 1949 there were about 540m Chinese; the figure today is almost 1.1 billion.
China's current fertility rate is 1.7; its population will probably peak at 1.4 billion by 2030 and thereafter decline.

Sarkozy Brutalizes Royal

Michael Barone recommends Nidra Poller's account of the Royal-Sarkozy debate, and having read it, so do I.

Just Don't Get Him Started

What Lileks would do to fix the newspapers.
I would just stop trying to be a lesser edited down version of the New York Times, and assume that canny news consumers know where to get it....

In the old days, and I hate to hold up the 30's as a model for anything, but in the 1930's, the Minneapolis Star was a tabloid, and it was hard hitting, and it had big, huge, screaming headlines, and it was a joy to read. What they did was they just simply blanketed the city. They sent a lot of people out, and guys came back with a couple of stories every day, and banged them out. They weren't worried about journalism as art. They weren't worried about the first draft of history. They were worried about telling the story of the town, of the people who lived there....

We've got newspapers, people who can write, people who know how to put stories together, and photographers and vehicles, and all the infrastructure to disseminate this story of the city. So why try to be the New York Times and tell us exactly what's going on elsewhere? Put a little page of national and world briefs if you like, but flip the A and the B section, and make the front part of the paper the front part of the town.

That's the first thing. The second thing I would do...
I won't say "read it all" because first of all he wasn't writing he was talking and secondly this was his main point and the most important and the best advice I think anyone could give our local newspapers: tell the story.

More Than A (Gut) Feeling

This is an idea I started kicking around last summer, probably in response to an article in The Economist, although I've lost the reference.

But the research continues.
[Microbiologist Jeffrey]Gordon and his colleagues have shown that obese people harbor different microbial communities than lean people. And as obese people lost weight, their microbes began to look more like their lean counterparts' microbes.

Researchers aren't yet sure what triggers the differences, but they found in a similar study in mice that the microbial populations of obese mice could more effectively release calories from food during digestion than could microbes of their lean littermates.
See also.

HAPE

Brian Smith is not doing well on Everest:
I am sending out a quick note to let you all know that I made it back down from Camp III, but it didn't go as planned. I came down with high-altitude pulmonary edema last night at Camp II after climbing up to Camp III and didn't think that I was going to make it through the night. I did, though, and with the help of two bottles of oxygen gas, I made it back to base camp from Camp II today under my own power.

The Next Six Months Will Tell

Victor Davis Hanson:
All that has come and gone, and we are left in the end with the verdict of the battlefield. The war will be won or lost, like it or not, fairly or unjustly, in the next six months in Baghdad. Either Gen. Petraeus quells the violence to a level that even the media cannot exaggerate, or the enterprise fails, and we withdraw. For all the acrimony and hysteria at home, that in the end is what we face—the verdict of all wars that ultimately are decided by the soldiers, and then either supported or opposed by the majority at home with no views or ideology other than its desire to conform to the narrative from the front: support our winners, oppose our losers. In the end, that is what this entire hysterical four years are about.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gordon To Achieve Notoriety

Within the next few weeks I won't be Prime Minister of this country. In all probability, a Scot will become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
—Tony Blair, referring, one would suppose, to Gordon Brown.

As thrilled as I am that my namesake (a name that has sadly gone out of fashion) will achieve some degree of notoriety, I'm afraid that, from all indications, Gordon Brown as Prime Minister will be about as exciting as Hurricane Gordon was last year.

Sunrise On Gliese

Tthe red dwarf star Gliese 581 rises through clouds above a calm ocean of its planet Gliese 581c.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Not a real photo, of course; just an artist's rendition. Which makes me wonder: Why haven't we gone there yet? It's only 20 light years away.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Big, Sweet an' Fluffy!

Via Lucianne.