Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Best About America

David Gelernter, the author of Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion, which recently found its way into my shopping cart, picks the Five Best books about America.
It's worth reading his reasons.

Friday, June 29, 2007

From the Earth to the Moon

And Round the Moon:
You don't have to pack your bags quite yet, but passenger travel to the Moon is on the flight manifest of a space tourist company.

The price per seat will slap your wallet or purse for a swift $100 million — but you'll have to get in line as the first voyage is already booked.

Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, is in negotiations with the customers who will fly the first private expedition to circumnavigate the Moon.

"I hope to have those contracts signed by the end of the year," said Eric Anderson, Space Adventures' president and CEO.
Via Drudge.

Warming Up for the Fourth

Peggy Noonan has some patriotic stories.
It happens that I know how my grandfather's sister Mary Jane became an American. She left a paper trail. She kept a common-place book, a sort of diary with clippings and mementos. She kept it throughout the 1920s, when she was still new here. I found it after she'd died. It's a big brown book with cardboard covers and delicate pages. In the front, in the first half, there are newspaper clippings about events in Ireland, and sentimental poems. "I am going back to Glenties . . ."

But about halfway through, the content changes. There is a newspaper clipping about something called "Thanksgiving." There are newspaper photos of parades down Fifth Avenue. And suddenly, near the end, there are patriotic poems. One had this refrain: "So it's home again and home again, America for me./ My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be./ In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars/ Where the air is full of sunlight, and the flag is full of stars."

Years later, when I worked for Ronald Reagan, those words found their way into one of his speeches, a nod from me to someone who'd made her decision, cast her lot, and changed my life.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader wondered at the OPEC cartel.
This has been the fastest foozling of an investment opportunity ever. Immediately after the oil-price rises of 1973-74, Saudi Arabia and some of its OPEC allies were raking in foreign-exchange surpluses at about $115,000 a second. At 1974 prices, they could have bought the equivalent of all four British clearing banks every 11 days, or all the equities on the London Stock Exchange after nine months. Within 1.8 years, they could have bought all the direct investments of American corporations outside the United States. With 12.8 years' worth of those net oil earnings, they could have bought an annuity of $115 a week for every adult Arab, including homeless Palestinians.
Instead they squandered it, thank Allah.

The Soviets experimented with democracy Soviet style.
At midweek, votes were still being counted in the Soviet Union's first more-candidates-than-seats local elections since the 1920s. The usual 99%-plus vote for the officially sponsored candidates was unlikely to change much, since all the candidates still needed the blessing of the local Communist party committee.
Meanwhile the Cold War went on.
There is no doubt that propeller-making machinery sold to Russia by a Norwegian and a Japanese company between 1982 and 1984 will make a big difference to the noise put out by Russian submarines. The system sold was a combination of Norwegian computer equipment, the software for it, and a Japanese machining device.
Thereby indirectly launching Fred Thompson's film career.

On Wall Street the boom continued, but...
The easy money was made long ago, in a run which has seen the Dow advance from below 80 to over 2400 since August 1982.
Almost seems like we're missing a couple of zeroes there. But it will all end in tears, mark my words.

Meanwhile in Books and Arts
Mr Laqueur's "Age of Terrorism", published ten years ago, was widely acclaimed as a study of unusual depth and force. He has now brought it up to date—this is more than a second edition, it is a reworking of the whole book.
And he continues to write on the topic, which has only gotten worse. In 1999 he wrote The New Terrorism: Fanaticism and the Arms of Mass Destruction and in 2007 The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent.

A Farmer's Opinion

Victor Davis Hanson has opinions on subjects other than war and history. Today he notes that "food prices are climbing at rates approaching 10 percent per year."

Why? Market forces mostly, distorted, as always, by government fiat.
Now comes the biofuels movement. For a variety of reasons, ranging from an attempt to become less dependent on foreign oil to a desire for cleaner fuels, millions of acres of farmland are being redirected to corn-based ethanol.

If hundreds of planned new ethanol refineries are built, the U.S. could very shortly be producing around 30 billion gallons of corn-based fuel per year, using one of every four acres planted to corn for fuel. This dilemma of food or fuel is also appearing elsewhere in the world as Europeans and South Americans begin redirecting food acreages to corn-, soy-, or sugar- based biofuels.

Corn prices in America have spiked. And since corn is also a prime ingredient for animal feeds and sweeteners, prices likewise are rising for poultry, beef and everything from soft drinks to candy.

Better Than Google?

Walter Mossberg says Ask.com's new search results format is better than Google's.
Google and Ask each have rolled out new ways of presenting search results. Google's approach, which it calls "universal search," is a modest thing, a first step in what it says will be a long effort to break down barriers between different types of information a user may be seeking, such as Web links, images and news.

But Ask's new system, called "Ask3D," is a much bolder and better advance in unifying different kinds of results and presenting them in a more effective manner. It shows, once again, that Ask places a higher priority than its competitors do on making search results easy to navigate and use.
Firefox's search field (in the address bar) lets you pick your default search engine. I'm going to try Ask.com for a week and see if I like it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Death Out Of Context

Youssef M. Ibrahim says that the writers, producers, and directors of "A Mighty Heart," the film about Daniel Pearl, the journalist beheaded by Muslim jihadists, does not even mention fanatical Islam to avoid offering offense.
If I were a Muslim who had just watched "A Mighty Heart" in a theater in Dearborn, Mich., Karachi, or Cairo, the only impressions that I would probably be left with is that the man got what he deserved and that Karachi is really one hell of a messy place. Beyond that, I would not have a clue that my Muslim compatriots had anything to do with it.
We won't bother renting it, then, much less seeing it in the theater.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blogging Will Be Light

Monday, June 25, 2007

Living at the Pleasure of Rage Boy

Christopher Hitchens on the formulaic demonstrations of Rage Boy and his ilk.
I have actually seen some of these demonstrations, most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn't be if there was a big, surging mob involved.
Via Instapundit.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Every Tank A Rifleman

Greg sends a link to an essay on the A-10 Thunderbolt, a fascinating plane and an unusually good article for Wikipedia.

I was reminded of another essay from Jeff Cooper's book, about the M-1 Abrams Tank, particularly this snippet:
The turret is inhabited by three men who live in a different world from the driver of the hull. Many have heard that this turret is "stabilized," but few know what that actually means. In action, this turret maintains itself where the gunner or the tank commander points it — irrespective of the motion of the hull. The tank can dash about, turn, reverse, accelerate, or stop — and this has no effect upon the pointing of the gun. When the gunner places his weapon on target he may feel the lurching and swerving of the entire vehicle but what he sees through his sight is stationary, because the gun stays where he points it until he points it at something else....

A good crew can fire very rapidly — something on the order of one shot every three to four seconds — but this is not very significant because the amazing fire control system does not need a second shot. The M-1 — in violent motion, day or night, rain or shine, rough terrain or smooth — expects and achieves first-round hits, on moving tanks, to and beyond two miles, practically 100% of the time.

With this weapon it is considered bad form to shoot while stationary. Exceptional circumstances may call for it — such as a first round from ambush — but shooting while standing still always demands an explanation.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Relax, It's Summertime

The Lesser of Three Evils

Opinion Journal asks
Which New Yorker would be the best president?
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Rudy Giuliani
I like answering their opinion polls. They have a new one every week. There's no consequence; it doesn't matter. But sometimes the question elicits a response one does not expect. Today as my mouse hesitated over the choices I found myself choosing...
  • Hillary Clinton
Yes, given that slate (and assuming that None Of The Above is not an option), she's the one I would have to choose—the lesser of three very evil evils.

Sidewalk Art

Rick Lee photographs Julian Beever, the greatest sidewalk artist in the world. Look carefully. That's a flat surface. More and larger pictures at the above link. Via Instapundit.

God is Not Great

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg profiles the author of this summer's surprise blockbuster:
Summer beach-reading season is just beginning, and already several books have broken out from the pack, such as Walter Isaacson's biography of Albert Einstein, and Conn and Hal Iggulden's "The Dangerous Book for Boys."

But the biggest surprise is a blazing attack on God and religion that is flying off bookshelves, even in the Bible Belt. "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," by Christopher Hitchens, wasn't expected to be a blockbuster. Its publisher, Twelve, a fledgling imprint owned by France's Lagardère SCA, initially printed a modest 40,000 copies. Today, seven weeks after the book went on sale, there are 296,000 copies in print.

History Lessons

Brendan Miniter:
Perhaps Americans need the distance of a few decades to see the full cost of leaving a battlefield uncontested to an oppressive ideology. Or perhaps the nation needs to spend a few decades with those who were able to flee that ideology. Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, there was a massive outpouring of refugees, many of whom ended up in the U.S. Today this country is home to the largest community of ethnic Vietnamese--1.1 million--outside of Vietnam itself. Mr. Quan saw this as evidence that this nation is a beacon of freedom for the 80 million people who live in Vietnam now.

Thirty years on, will we be haunted by a similar history in the case of Iraq? That will depend on how many on Capitol Hill remember what we left behind in Vietnam and resolve not to leave something similar behind again. In the coming months, we'll likely see who has learned from our history and who seems to want to repeat it.

At Long Last

Dorothy Rabinowitz:
There was at least one bright spot in the events of the last week, specifically, Mr. Nifong's removal from office--a case, at long last, of a prosecutor called to account. It will be some while, we can guess, before any such wheels of justice grind their way to the special prosecutors.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader summed up the case:
In 1965 South Korea was a war-battered country whose mostly rural people had a GNP per head of $120, about the same as Cambodians and Congolese did. From the early 1960s to the mid-1980s the volume of South Korea's' industrial production increased 50-fold, the volume of its exports rose 100-fold, and its real GNP grew on average by 9.1% a year—a rate that doubles real income in eight years...
And yet the students were rioting.
Many of Korea's angry students owe their existence to the sharp fall in infant morality during the 1960s and 1970s. A consequence is that two-thirds of South Korea's 42m people are less than 30 years old.
And that always causes trouble.

In New York wayward youth got more than they bargained for.
Mr Bernard Goetz, the "subway vigilante" who shot four black teenagers in a subway carriage two and a half years ago, has been acquitted of all but one of the charges against him...

As it turned out, the trial jury did not see the young blacks shot by Mr Goetz as peaceful adolescents in innocent sport when they asked him for money. On the witness stand, one of the four refused to answer a series of questions. Another acted the part of an obscene thug and was removed from the courtroom. The impression they made seriously damaged the prosecution's case.
Seriously.

It was another case entirely behind the Iron Curtain.
Never underestimate the Polish Pope's ability to surprise. He demonstrated it yet again during the week-long trip to his homeland—the third of his pontificate—which ended on June 14th. The trip was billed in advance as a strictly religious occasion with a heavy stress on piety and penitence. John Paul II turned it into a philosophical and political challenge to to Poland's regime, and to communism itself. Whether this will change much in Poland is another question.
Meanwhile in the real worker's paradise it seemed that we had all gone video crazy.
By the end of the year, about half of all households in America will have a video cassette recorder. Barely two years ago, the proportion was about 10%.
And twenty years later it was probably 10% again, as the era of magnetic tape came to an end.

The Duh Factor

According to Gallup 14% of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress.

According to the bell curve 14% of Americans have an I.Q. below 84.

Coincidence?

See And Avoid

From the NTSB preliminary:
AT 1319:02, the pilot of VRN152, an IFR departure, advised the tower controller that they were ready to depart from runway 24. The tower controller responded, 'Avantair one five two, runway 24, cleared for takeoff.'

At 1319:42, the pilot of N6026K, a VFR departure, advised the tower controller that he was 'ready to go [on runway 19] at [taxiway] bravo.' The tower controller responded, 'Cirrus two six kilo left turn northeast bound maintain at or below one thousand runway 19 at bravo cleared for takeoff.'

The pilot of VRN152 saw N6026K on departure roll and applied maximum braking, experienced two blown tires on the main gear, as N6026K rolled past, through the intersection 50 feet in front. VRN152 stopped in the intersection. The tower controller stated that he did not see the incursion, so he did not cancel either takeoff clearance.
Airport diagram here. Google map here.

You decide: forty seconds after you've been cleared to take off another pilot is cleared to take off on an intersecting runway. Were you listening to the tower? Did you see the other plane?

Via AVweb.

Wish Him Luck

Summer Solstice

I watched the sun rise to day from 1900 feet on Nugget Butte. The first speck appeared on the southern shoulder of Union Peak in the Crater Lake National Park. That's as far north as it's going to get.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dan and Katie

Iowahawk has posted another episode in the adventures of Inspector Dan.
I was working down in Cable Hell's Kitchen. A freelance investigative gig at HDNet, a smalltime news outfit wedged between MTV-6 and the Cubic Zirconia Channel. Not much money, but they didn't ask too many questions and they didn't have any nosy "fact checkers." I had just pulled out my hip flask for a snort of Zima malt beverage when I saw a familiar silhouette in my office door. It was short and curvy with a pair upturned perky hairflips straight out of the CBS makeup department.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't little Katie Couric," I growled as she walked in.
The Ratings Always Drop Twice by David Burge.

This is the best yet.

Quote of the Day

Here's Commissioner C.W. Smith in the Mail Tribune:
When the federal government goes away we'll be ready.
Hey, I'm ready now!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Justifying The 7mm-08

I had originally intended to get a .30-06. But as I thought about it and read more I gradually changed my mind.

In the first place, I wanted a "scout" rifle. And Jeff Cooper, who defined the concept, insists that the action should be short. He prefers a .308. The Remington Mountain Rifle was not available in .308 but it did come in something very close—the 7mm-08.

The second consideration, and the one that clinched it for me, was the matter of recoil. No one will deny that the .30-06 packs a kick. I'm a small guy, 5'6", 165 pounds, and the Mountain Rifle is a light weight rifle. With scope and sling it should still weigh less than 7½ pounds. I don't want to suffer when I shoot it.

Jeff Cooper taught his students to ignore recoil but Chuck Hawks does not agree:
It is worth remembering that the majority of authorities agree that recoil of over twenty foot pounds will cause most shooters to develop a serous flinch, which is ruinous to bullet placement (the prime component of killing power). Fifteen foot pounds is probably about the maximum recoil energy most shooters feel reasonably comfortable with, particularly at the shooting range, where most serious marksmanship practice occurs.

While recoil energy determines how hard the blow to the shoulder feels, recoil velocity determines how abrupt the blow to the shoulder feels. My subjective impression is that, with a well designed stock, recoil velocity above about 10 fps begins to feel like a sharp rap on the shoulder rather than an abrupt push.
In his Rifle Recoil Table he gives these numbers for the 7mm-08 and the .30-06, in both cases for an eight pound rifle:

Cartridge (Wb@MV) Recoil energy Recoil velocity
-------------------- ------------- ---------------
7mm-08 (140 at 2860) 12.6 10.1
.30-06 (150 at 2910) 17.6 11.9
Of course we're comparing a 140 grain bullet at 2860 ft/sec to a 150 grain bullet at 2910, but consider this: for a bullet that's 7% heavier traveling 2% faster the 30-06 has a recoil energy 40% greater. That's a lot.

Finally, consider the relative ballistics of the two cartridges. According to Remington's ballistic tables:
   Cartridge Information
Cartridge Type Ballistic Coefficient
---------- ------------------ ---------------------
7mm-08 140 AccuTip™ Boat Tail 0.486
.30-06 150 AccuTip™ Boat Tail 0.415

Velocity (ft/sec)
Cartridge Muzzle 100 200 300 400 500
---------- ------ ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
7mm-08 140 2860 2670 2489 2314 2146 1986
.30-06 150 2910 2686 2473 2270 2077 1893

Energy (ft-lbs)
Cartridge Muzzle 100 200 300 400 500
---------- ------ ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
7mm-08 140 2542 2216 1925 1664 1432 1225
.30-06 150 2820 2403 2037 1716 1436 1193

Long-Range Trajectory
Cartridge 100 150 200 250 300 400 500
---------- --- --- ---- ---- ---- ----- -----
7mm-08 140 1.7 1.5 zero -2.9 -7.3 -21.1 -42.5
.30-06 150 1.7 1.5 zero -2.9 -7.4 -21.5 -43.7

The 7mm-08, being a smaller diameter, has a higher ballistic coefficient, which means that it retains its velocity and energy longer. The .30-06 starts out 50 ft/sec faster, but out at 200 yards it's slowed to 2473 while the 7mm-08 is still traveling at 2489. The heavier 150 grain .30-06 starts out with 300 ft-lbs more energy but out at 400 yards they pack the same punch. And the long-range trajectory of the two rounds is virtually identical.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cradle Boat


The News-Review:
Allen Sooter built a pirate boat bed for his grandson, Dayton Bennett. It comes with below-deck storage for toys, a clothes chest and room for expansion for when he outgrows the current bed area. Sooter is the owner of Allen's Carburetor & Electric in Sutherlin.
Actually I had in mind something more like this.

To see one in action, rent this movie.

World Class Moron

Rancho Palos Verdes, California:
Each year, students decorate wide caps with princesses, football goal posts, zebras, guitars and other items to express their personalities and career goals. Cornerstone at Pedregal School is the only Palos Verdes Peninsula public school to practice the tradition.

On Thursday, before the ceremony, one boy was told he couldn't participate unless he agreed to clip off the tips of the plastic guns carried by the minuscule GIs on his cap.
That's Principal Denise Leonard above.
The principal pulled Cole [McNamara] aside Thursday morning, handed him a pair of scissors and said the guns had to go.

"We're supporting our troops," Cole said. "But I wanted to graduate, so I just cut the guns off."
The kids kept their sense of humor, though.
To treat the "injuries" caused by the order to remove the offending weaponry, Austin wrapped the plastic stumps in white gauze and painted on faux blood.
Via James Taranto, Best of the Web Today.

Kids put up with a lot these days.

I'd Like To See That

The Mail Tribune:
City officials are considering a smoking ban on the public sidewalks surrounding Rogue Valley Medical Center. Just five months after RVMC went tobacco-free on its campus, it's asking the city to help extend the ban to the public right of way, following complaints about groups of smokers dominating the sidewalks in front of the hospital.

Employees recently taking cigarette breaks alongside Barnett Road declined to give their names, but did not support such a ban. They said they wish the hospital would reinstate a designated smoking area.

"It's kind of embarrassing to stand out here," said one woman who wouldn't give her name. She said she's seen patients in their gowns with their IV poles standing on the sidewalk smoking.
(Emphasis added.)

3 Bed, 2.5 Bath, 8.36 Acres: $299,900

Auntie Joy and Uncle David have their brand new house for sale.

Gladewater, Texas. If it were in the Rogue Valley you could easily double the price.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Hike

We hiked Mount Ashland Meadows today, one of our favorites, although we were a week or two ahead of the wildflowers and a couple of weeks too late for snow. This tree snapped sometime last winter (click for a larger view).

“like a walking corpse”

Neo-Neocon says look at their eyes.

Emergency On Take-off

Livermore, California:
Two people aboard a home-built airplane died in a fiery crash Saturday morning just moments after take-off from Livermore Municipal Airport.

The Europa XS two-seater left around 8:30 a.m. and climbed 200 to 300 feet when the pilot made a 180-degree turn in an apparent attempt to come back to the airport, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The plane nose-dived into a grassy field between the airport and Las Positas Golf Course, said Sean Chapman, acting battalion chief with the Livermore/Pleasanton Fire Department.
I guess he forgot his flight training. They drilled it into us—if you have an emergency on take-off, land straight ahead. 300 feet is not enough altitude for a power-off 180° turn.

For about of year my motel window looked out on that golf course, and I've taken off from that airport a dozen or so times. There are plenty of good places to land if you keep cool and don't stall the plane.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

This Is So Cool

The Jerusalem Post reports:
Enraged Fatah leaders on Saturday accused Hamas militiamen of looting the home of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.

"They stole almost everything inside the house, including Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal," said Ramallah-based Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman.
Stole his Peace Prize!

Via Drudge.

Creative Marketing

Mark Steyn in The Corner:
For what it's worth, though, I'm very partial to Barnes & Noble. In Washington a couple of months back, I was at the branch that's near the Mayflower and I was pleased to see they'd stuck my book on the front table next to The Playboy Book Of Celebrity Nudes.

I was even more pleased to see some fellow slink by, pick up the Playboy and then, discretion getting the better part of valor, slip it under a copy of my book and saunter nonchalantly to the checkout. No complaints about Barnes & Noble from me. It's the one-stop shop for all your Steyn-demographic-doom-mongering and Nancy-Sinatra-and-Victoria-Principal-with-their-kit-off needs.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Well Then, It Stays In

Peter Robinson talked with Hugh Hewitt about the speech:
So shortly before the President, several days before the President delivered the speech, Ken Duberstein, then chief of staff, sat him down, I wasn't at this meeting, but Ken told me what happened. It was Ken and the President, two people, sat him down, had him reread that central passage in the speech, then Ken described all the arguments against delivering it. And they talked about it for a little while, and then Ken said that Ronald Reagan, the twinkle came into his eye, and said now, I'm the President, so I get to decide if that line stays in? Ken said of course yes, Mr. President. We're clear on that much. And Ronald Reagan replied, well then, it stays in.

Palestinian Self-Rule

John Podhoretz:
June 15, 2007 -- Israel's disengagement from Gaza, completed 22 months ago, has succeeded.

It was a demonstration project of a sort - an experiment in Palestinian self-rule. If the management of Gaza had gone well, there would have been a Palestinian state within three years, tops.

OK, now speak these three words to yourself: a Palestinian state.

Finished? Good. So are the words. They won't be coming out of anybody's mouth again for a very, very long time - at least not in any meaningful way.

Pro-AmericanTerrorists

Julia Gorin:
Albanians are the most pro-American people in the world! everyone proclaims as Albanians burn churches, kill nuns and behead monks in Kosovo, the "most pro-American state-in-progress." Ah yes, this is who loves America. A dubious endorsement indeed. Everywhere else, we are hated for trying to beat back jihad. In Kosovo, Albania and the Albanian Diaspora, they love us for enabling it. Any time you help Muslims kill Christians, just like any time you help one nationality clean out its ethnic rival, it'll thank you. For a little while.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader advised Mrs Thatcher:
President Reagan has proved that it is possible to transform an American tax system whose distinctive essence was what it did not tax. He abolished many tax shelters and so made it possible to have only two tax rates, a standard rate of 15% and a top one of 28%. Britain's system has fewer loopholes than America's did, but closing them would still leave scope for cutting the standard rate of tax to, say, 20% and the top rate to 40%.

Impossible, say the unimaginative. Actually, not: the only thing that stands between the Tories and such a prize is Mrs Thatcher's insistence on maintaining mortgage-interest relief...
Mrs Thatcher ignored their advice.

Real food returned.
This revolt of the Tasties is kin to that of the Healthies, but distinct from it: you can want your daily bread to taste of bread, not preservatives, without wanting it next morning to taste of summer-ripened, natural, free-range mould.
A three page brief dealt with world population.
Sometime this summer there will be 5 billion people on earth, double the number there were in 1950 and 1 billion more than in 1974. The event will be only half-blessed; not because the earth cannot cope with that many, but because the 5 billion can't....

There are no natural limits to the ability of the planet to support a great many more than 5 billion people. On average, about 3,000 kilocalories of solar energy reach every square metre of the earth's surface every day, enough to keep one man-machine going. If there were one person per square metre of land (132,000 billion people), the earth could, at the theoretical limit, support all of them.
The article went on to explain, for those who had not paid attention in class, the theory of demographic transition.

And there was some sort of ruckus in East Germany.
More than 3,000 rock fans tried to converge on the Brandenburg Gate to hear British bands (David Bowie, Eurythmics and Genesis) playing in a three-night "concert for Berlin" on the western side of the wall, near the old Reichstag building.

Some fans had made the long trip from Dresden. Others came from the Prenzlauer Berg district of East Berlin... It was only when police tried to stop them from coming within earshot of the music that things turned nasty. There were whistles and catcalls, and objects flew—then came the chanting, all hard by the Soviet embassy building on Unter den Linden avenue.
A couple days later Mr Reagan showed up and made some remarks but The Economist either did not hear or chose to ignore them.

Patrol Dog Chokes On Patrol Car

Bend, Oregon:
After Koda escaped from his kennel, he chewed through the dog food stored in the sheriff's department patrol car.

Then he started in on the seats.

Apparently, deputies say, he choked on the foam.

The 2-year-old Belgian malinois died on Monday, just a few months after joining Deschutes County deputies as a patrol dog....

"He was a very sharp, intelligent dog," [Capt. Tim Edwards] said.
With a bad case of the munchies.

Extreme Classics

From National Geographic Adventure Magazine:
The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time
Here's a promise. If my kids want to read any book on this list, I will buy it for them. (We don't have libraries this summer.) Of course, I get to read it when they're done.

Via Instapundit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why Have Public Schools?

Jonah Goldberg:
Here's a good question for you: Why have public schools at all?

OK, cue the marching music. We need public schools because blah blah blah and yada yada yada. We could say blah is common culture and yada is the government's interest in promoting the general welfare. Or that children are the future. And a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Because we can't leave any child behind.

The problem with all these bromides is that they leave out the simple fact that one of the surest ways to leave a kid "behind" is to hand him over to the government.

Noisy Conflagration

According to the Mail Tribune:
Thick, dark smoke bellows from a large fire Tuesday afternoon at the Poplar Square shopping center in east Medford. Five businesses were destroyed, while two others were damaged. The cause of the fire remained under investigation late into the evening.
Perhaps they meant "billows." But I like to think that due to some strange combination of heat and ductwork it actually sounded like those Killer Bees fireworks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Latest On Fred

Rasmussen Reports:
The newest face in the race, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, is now tied with Giuliani. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds each man earning support from 24% of likely Republican Primary voters. A week ago, Giuliani had a six percentage point lead over Thompson, 23% to 17%....

Just as startling as Thompson's rise in this week's poll is the continuing loss of support for Arizona Senator John McCain. The man once considered the dominant front runner in the race is now supported by just 11% of likely Republican Primary voters nationwide. That's down from 17% in May and 14% a week ago. His support is just half of what it was in January....

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney slipped to 11% in this week's poll and is tied with McCain.
I have a hunch that by fall it will be a Thompson-Romney race with McRudy far, far behind.

Mr. Gorbachev, Open This Gate!

From Deutsche Welle a tribute to the speech that brought down the wall.
Reagan said: "We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it?"

"There is one sign the Soviets can make," continued Reagan, "that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Peter Robinson, who wrote the speech, says those words almost didn't make it into the speech. It was too confrontational.

It took two more years, of course, for the wall to come down. History never happens as rapidly as we would prefer.

I listened to that speech again today. It's hard to remember what the world was like twenty years ago. It's hard to remember the euphoria of 1989, the An die Freiheit beneath the gate. From the other side of the world we watched the revolution unfold; watching what we thought, at the time, must be the end of history.

Morning Visitor

I just saw that little grey fox again. He trotted across the front patio, around the corner of the house, and looked in my window. I think he saw me then because he turned around, went up the steps toward the mail box, and disappeared.

My camera, unfortunately, failed me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

France's Parliamentary Elections

The Economist:
Mr Sarkozy's victory had been predicted by polls; the only unknown was the size of the "blue wave" of the UMP's victory. Mr Sarkozy had, after all, been swept to victory himself just a month earlier in the presidential election. Voters chose on Sunday to give him a clear mandate for his promised reforms.

Some of those reforms look surprisingly liberal for France. He wants to disassemble the 35-hour working week, cut taxes, weaken the unions and guarantee minimum service on public transport during strikes. In other words, he promised to slaughter many of France's sacred cows. The Socialists, while acknowledging the size of his victory in the presidential poll, appealed to voters before the parliamentary one by arguing that "the republic needs balance".

They were unpersuasive.

Why One-Man-One-Vote Is Wrong

Peter Hannaford tells of life behind the redwood curtain:
Another form of transportation follows Highway 101 all the way from the San Francisco Bay Area. It is the fiber optic cable that brings the Internet to the approximately 140,000 people who live in this region. There is but one cable for all of their computer traffic. There is no back-up cable, despite much local clamoring for one. The other day, a highway crew accidentally severed it at noontime. Thus, for the rest of the day, banks could not move transactions; retail stores could not complete debit and credit card transactions without using cumbersome manual alternatives. Individuals and families could not conduct their personal business. No telling how much money was lost to the local economy, which was scarcely growing anyway.
You wouldn't think he could tie that in to the wisdom of the founding fathers, but he does.

Ballistics Numbers

It was definitely a slow news weekend. I spent a couple of hours yesterday (after exhausting myself working on the house) researching the ballistics—versus the price—of the various cartridges available for my new rifle, which, UPS willing, will arrive Friday.

I dug out the numbers from the web sites of Remington, Federal, Federal Fusion (the bargain Fed), Winchester, and Hornady. The bottom line? The pricier stuff is better but even the cheap stuff is very, very good.

Twenty cartridges can run from $19.99 to $29.99 (and up, but I don't go there) but in that range the ballistic numbers run ±10%. The trajectory of the cheap Remington Express Core-Lokt is nearly identical to the Remington Premier AccuTip. So much so that I can practice all summer long with the Express and buy one box of the Premier for hunting season. I probably wouldn't even have to re-zero, but of course I will.

Oh, by the way. I bought the 7mm-08, not the .30-06. I'll justify that later. As if I need to.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Puddles on Mars

It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Via Instapundit.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back In The Slammer

Screaming and crying, Paris Hilton was escorted out of a courtroom and back to jail Friday after a judge ruled that she must serve out her entire 45-day sentence behind bars rather than in her Hollywood Hills home.

"It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton, who violated her parole in a reckless driving case. "Mom!" she called out to her mother in the audience.

Hilton, who was brought to court in handcuffs in a sheriff's car, came into the courtroom disheveled and weeping, hair askew, sans makeup, wearing a gray fuzzy sweatshirt over slacks.
She'll probably emerge from all this a hardened criminal. That would be an improvement.

Virgina Postrel

On magazine design:
I've often said that if I were still editing Reason, I'd redesign the magazine to put all the short stuff on the Web and just run long features in print.
If she were still editing Reason, I'd still be a subscriber.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dave For Prez

Dave Burge has announced his candidacy:
I have not taken this decision lightly. When considering a run for public office, the first thing a candidate must ask himself is: what can I, as newly elected public servant, expect to get out of this deal? I have researched this question thoroughly, and believe me: being President is a pretty sweet gig. Not only does it pay 400 large, it has plenty of perks including "three hots and a cot," and the world's most fearsome military force at my disposal.

The second thing a candidate must ask is: am I qualified for the position? Let's look at the facts. First, I am a native-born citizen of the United States. Second, I am over 35 years old. Third, I have never had a felony conviction stick beyond the appeals court. And Mister, if that's good enough for the Constitution of the United States, then that's good enough for me. Google it.
Read his platform. He's obviously thought this thing through.

Northwest Airlines Flight 720

Via David Hardy this story in the Boston Globe of a woman keeping her cool while her husband took care of business:
Hayden's wife of 42 years, Katie, who was also on the flight, was less impressed. Even as her husband struggled with the agitated passenger, she barely looked up from "The Richest Man in Babylon," the book she was reading.

"The woman sitting in front of us was very upset and asked me how I could just sit there reading," Katie Hayden said. "Bob's been shot at. He's been stabbed. He's taken knives away. He knows how to handle those situations. I figured he would go up there and step on somebody's neck, and that would be the end of it. I knew how that situation would end. I didn't know how the book would end."
The flight landed safely.

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader wondered about Alan Greenspan:
Talk of his skills would, in a textbook world, be beside the point. In such a world, the Fed's macroeconomic task would be to maintain a stable, non-inflationary monetary policy—a simple rule that would call for little in the way of decisions or the technical knowledge needed to make them...

But the world is not that sensible. Congress least of all. Simple monetary rules no longer work because "money" has become a complicated thing, impossible to measure.
And yet he seemed up to it.
Neither outright Keynesian nor monetarist, Mr Greenspan's views are a fiscal-conservative mix. In his youth, Mr Greenspan was a disciple of Ayn Rand, whose libertarian philosophy of "rational selfishness" (ie, enlightened self-interest with the emphasis on self-interest) also stressed laisser faire capitalism.
Elsewhere something new was in the air:
At the end of May, the Soviet Union stopped jamming Voice of Ameraca's broadcasts—a significant move in a game that is largely a product of the ideological divide.
As the Russian economy faltered
The Soviet Union is reducing the amount of oil it sends to Nicaragua, and this is forcing the Sandanist government to court some of its Latin American neighbours to make up the difference.
On another front
...the Roman Catholic church in Poland is stronger today than at any time in the country's modern history. It is the only organisation to emerge undamaged from Poland's decade of crisis. The churches are full, and not just with old people. So many young Poles want to become priests that the seminaries cannot accommodate them, and a lot have to be turned away.
It certainly didn't hurt that the Pope was born Wojtyła.

Same Song, Different Verse

Michael Long & John J. Miller remember political satire, circa 1964.
Hang down your head Left Wingers,
Hang down your head and cry.
Take one last look at the White House
Before you say good-bye.

Take all your socialiasm
And your welfare-ism, too.
America doesn't want it
And the New Frontier is through.
Complete with downloadable MP3s!

Gold Hill Rewards Incompetent

The Mail Tribune:
GOLD HILL — The city will not have its own police department in the coming budget year, but it appears that it will be spending money as though it did.

The City Council voted 3-2 Monday to authorize six months of severance pay for outgoing police Chief Dean Muchow — twice the amount required by his employment contract.

Council members Robert Ashton and Judi Holdeman voted for the extra compensation along with Scott Baker, who proposed it. Gus Wolf and Jan Fish voted against the proposal.
That's the modern definition of "liberal": being generous with other people's money. For the record, I did not vote for Ashton, Holdeman, or Baker. But I will vote for their recall.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Summer Reading List

Here it is, the second annual Zeta Woof Summer Reading List. Not, as I felt compelled to explain last time, a list of books for me to read, but a list of books which I have read during the last year or so and which I can in confidence recommend to you.

Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade
Fifty thousand years ago, in the northeastern corner of Africa, a small and beleaguered group of people prepared to leave their homeland. The world then was still in the grip of the Pleistocene ice age. Much of Africa had been depopulated and the ancestral human population had recently dwindled to a mere 5,000.

Those departing, a group of perhaps just 150 people, planned to leave Africa altogether...
Fiction? No. Speculation? Not.

The evidence, embedded in our genes, has only recently been uncovered—this book could not have been written a decade ago—and the story it tells is fascinating, and, at least to those who would prefer a Noble Savage, horrifying, for humans are more closely related to the murderous chimpanzee than to the peaceful bonobo.

The Children of Men by P.D. James

At the other end of our history something has gone wrong. In this work of speculative fiction mankind has inexplicably lost the ability to reproduce. Written in 1992, this work anticipated by fifteen years the panic of demographic decline now spreading over Europe. "Now a major motion picture" the sticker on the cover boasts. Mark Steyn had this to say about that:
There are zillions of bad movies, but Alfonso Cuarón's film Children Of Men is bad in an almost awe-inspiring way.
Don't bother with the film. Instead read this book, beautifully written by a master of English prose.

Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil by Ron Rosenbaum

He sought an explanation but in the course of his research
I was stunned by what seemed to be a compulsive assertion of certainty, or of contradictory certainties, by the psychohistorians in particular. It was Hitler's father! No, it was Hitler's mother who caused the trouble! It was his missing testicle! No, it was a primal scene! "Irritable reaching" devolved into a desperate lurching after a single answer, a single person, none of which on closer examination was nearly sufficient or convincing.

All of which led me to shift my focus—with Schweitzer's Quest as a model—from a search for the one single explanation of Hitler to a search for the agenda of the searchers, an attempt to explain the explainers.
And a fascinating attempt it is.

To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth by Jeff Cooper

Colonel Cooper died late last year but I have since discovered that he was the master of three things: the pistol, the rifle, and clear, concise writing. I bought this collection of essays primarily for his chapter on The General Purpose Rifle:
For those who have not tried it, an explanation of the advantages of the forward telescope is in order. First, and most important, the forward glass does not obscure the landscape. With both eyes open the shooter sees the entire countryside as well as the crosswire printed on his target. For this reason it is important that the magnification of the telescope be no greater than 3X (some hold that 2X is maximum) in order to avoid excessive disparity between the vision of the two eyes. This forward mount, properly used and understood, is the fastest sighting arrangement available to the rifleman.
A fascinating character, absolutely unique.

How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z by Ann Marlowe

As powerful as Cooper but more in a psychological than a physical sense, Ms. Marlowe has written for the Village Voice, the New York Times, the National Review and The Wall Street Journal. She has worked on Wall Street, lived in Afghanistan, studied philosophy, and done a lot of junk. She writes clearly, candidly, and with devastating force.

This is her story, organized not chronologically but by topic. Oddly enough, it works.

Crimes Against Logic by Jamie Whyte

Greg recommended this to me a number of times but the argument that finally clinched it was that it "belongs right alongside How To Lie With Statistics on your bookshelf." It does.

Says Mr. Whyte in the preface:
All self-help books should begin win a confession. Here is mine: I write letters to the editor. "Outraged of London," that's me. I am getting better, though. I often don't send the letters, and sometimes I don't even write them. If I had a therapist, he would be pleased by my progress.

But I must also confess that there has been no deep reform of my character. I still want to write those letters. It's just that what gets me so riled doesn't seem to be of the least interest to the editor of the London Times. Nor to my increasingly fewer friends, who yawn and roll their eyes as I explain my concerns—or "rant," as the less kind among them say.

What bothers me so much?

Errors in reasoning. Fallacies. Muddled thinking. Call it what you like; you know the kind of thing I mean.
Jamie Whyte is a past lecturer of philosophy at Cambridge, and his book is at once rigorous and entertaining.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge
I began writing this account immediately after Peleliu while we were in rest camp on Pavuvu Island. I outlined the entire story with detailed notes as soon as I returned to civilian life, and I have written down certain episodes during the years since then. Mentally, I have gone over and over the details of these events, but I haven't been able to draw them all together and write them down until now.
That was thirty-five years after the war. Don't let that deter you—this is as close to the action as you'll get.

This is Paradise! by Hyok Kang

I've mentioned this one before. Kang grew up in horrible poverty, thoroughly convinced that it was the best of all possible worlds and that the outside, especially South Korea, was worse—far worse. Finally at the age of twelve he escaped, first to China, then by way of Vietnam to South Korea. Here he tells the story, illustrated by his own drawings, of his childhood in the worker's paradise.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I've mentioned Murakami before too, and although The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is—so far—his magnum opus, this spot on the reading list is really a placeholder for all his books, including the half-dozen I've read: Kafka on the Shore, Sputnik Sweetheart, Underground, The Place That Was Promised, and After the Quake; the two that just arrived, South of the Border and Norwegian Wood; and all the rest. So far, none have disappointed.

This Evil Wicked Thing

Christopher Hitchens in a debate with Chris Hedges:
Have you read the manifestos of these suicide bombers? Have you seen the videos they make? Have you seen the manifestos they put out? The propaganda that they generate? These are not people in despair. These are people in a state of religious exultation. Who are promised everything. Who are in a state of hope. Who are in a state of adoration for their evil mullahs. And for their filthy religion.

It's this that makes them think they have the right to kill others while taking their own lives.

If despair among Palestinians was enough to create psychopathic criminal behavior, there's been enough despair for a long time, and enough misery to go around. It is to excuse the vicious, filthy forces of Islamic jihad to offer any other explanation but that it is their own evil preaching, their own vile religion, their own racism, their own apocalyptic ideology that makes them think they have the right to kill everyone in this room, and go to paradise as a reward.

I won't listen, nor should you, to anyone who euphemizes or excuses this evil wicked thing.

The Bears Hate It Too

June 24, 2006:
Global warming has made life harder for some wildlife species, but it may be providing a temporary boost to the health and population of Pacific gray whales.

The number of gray whale calves migrating this spring along the West Coast increased by 8 percent versus last year's group, a team of researchers led by a San Diego scientist announced yesterday.
June 6, 2007:
Thick Arctic ice may be the reason for a precipitous drop in this spring's two-month gray whale count at Point Piedras Blancas.

Only 115 gray whale calves were counted this year by scientists at Point Piedras Blancas, down dramatically from the 285 counted last year. It's the fourth-lowest count in the 14-year history of the cetacean census.
Odd. They didn't mention global cooling as the cause.

Monopoly's Left-Wing Roots

Bruce Ramsey reviews Monopoly by Philip E. Orbanes.
I've long had a soft spot for the board game Monopoly. In the summer of 1982, in a bonfire of neurons, I programmed the game in Atari Basic, so that my 48k computer would field three players against me: Archibald, Beatrice, and Charlie. I was also a business news reporter, and I knew that the game, which was supposed to mimic the world of business, really did not.

There are all sorts of things wrong with it. Your opportunity to buy is based on luck, and prices are fixed. You rent where you're ordered to rent, not where you want to. Your object is the creation of a land monopoly, which is not something generally possible in the real world, nor is the bankrupting of all your opponents. The most realistic part of the game is the trading of properties and the demonstration of inflation by the expansion of the money supply.... It's fun to bankrupt your opponents at Monopoly — but it's not how you get ahead in real life.

I always wondered about the political beliefs of the game's inventor. Now I know. Philip Orbanes' book tells the story.
I'll never forget the time Dave and I sat down about nine o'clock in the evening with a pot of coffee and a game of Monopoly. Six or seven games later the sun was coming up.

Pampered Cat Seeks Home

"Chandler is a 6 yr old male, neutered, declawed on front paws, indoor cat. He is half Maine Coon, half Siamese — black and white tuxedo coloring, short hair. He is litter box savvy, and is trained to a leash/harness for occasional trips outdoors. He is extremely personable, funny, friendly and well behaved."

skdenglish at comcast dot net

Beaverton area.

Up To The Bancrofts

The editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is getting nervous:
On January 2, 1951, William Grimes wrote a memorable editorial, "A Newspaper's Philosophy," that summed up our worldview this way:

"On our editorial page we make no pretense of walking down the middle of the road. Our comments and interpretations are made from a definite point of view. We believe in the individual, in his wisdom and his decency. We oppose all infringements on individual rights, whether they stem from attempts at private monopoly, labor union monopoly or from an overgrowing government. People will say we are conservative or even reactionary. We are not much interested in labels but if we were to choose one, we would say we are radical."

Even 56 years later, that still sounds good to us. Whether the Bancroft family sells or not, and no matter who is the buyer, we plan to stand for those beliefs for as long into the future as we are able.
As long as we are able?

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. adds:
Here's my dream, and it's a not good one. The day comes when a controversialist like Rupert Murdoch bids to buy The Wall Street Journal--and no one cares. That's one of the considerations swirling in a mess that, from any party's perspectives except Mr. Murdoch's, makes the decision faced by the Bancroft family (which controls Dow Jones, our parent company) so vexing. The future of the paper is at risk if we do the deal; it's also at risk if we don't.
If Rupert Murdoch destroys the editorial page of the Journal, the last great editorial page in the nation, it will be a tragedy.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ronald Reagan

Died three years ago today, although he took his leave of us nearly a decade earlier. We'll have more to say about Ronald Reagan in the next two weeks; there are more important anniversaries than his death. For now I'll only say that he was, in my opinion, the greatest president of the twentieth century. I don't expect to see his like again in my lifetime.

Disentitled

The Economist does its best to make us look bad, but the truth is in the fine print. "Entitlement" means "by force of law; at gunpoint if necessary," and in America we leave those decisions to the employee and his boss. In reality, most of us get two weeks off, same as the communist Chinese.

I don't, though. It's been three or four years now since I've had paid time off. About this time every year I begin to wish I were French, or Finnish, or at the very least unemployed.

Ah, well; back to the grindstone. Someone must take up the slack.

But He Always Pays

Brian S. Wesbury reviews The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes:
The title comes from philosopher William Graham Sumner, who in 1883 worried that A and B would think something needed to be done to help X. A and B would then propose a law to fix things, and "their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or in the better case what A, B and C shall do for X." Sumner wanted to "look up C and determine...what manner of man he is...the Forgotten Man...the man who is never thought of.... He works, he votes, he generally prays, but he always pays..."

This Day In History

"On the morning of June 5, 1967, a fleet of low-flying Israeli jets surprised the Egyptian air force on the ground and destroyed it...."

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal says most of the conventional wisdom about the Six Day War is wrong.
The Six Day War is supposed to be the great pivot on which the modern history of the Middle East hinges, the moment the Palestinian question came into focus and Israel went from being the David to the Goliath of the conflict. It's a reading of history that has the convenience of offering a political prescription: Rewind to the status quo ante June 5, arrange a peace deal, and the problems that have arisen since more or less go away. Or so the thinking goes.
Charles Krauthammer recommends that we read Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael B. Oren.

It's in the cart.

Update: via Instapundit/Power Line, The Six-Day War: Causes and Consequences.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Terry Major-Ball

By way of John Derbyshire's May Diary, the Telegraph's obituary of the less flamboyant (and that is saying a great deal) brother of the former prime minister:
By the time he left school after the war, his elderly father's health was failing, and Terry spent much time struggling to save the family business when he would have been wiser to seek work elsewhere. After the collapse of Major's Garden Ornaments, he had a variety of menial jobs, making plastic pipes and reading meters for the electricity board. He met his wife Shirley while working at Woolworths in Brixton.

Life never ran smoothly for him, but he managed to maintain a veneer of cheerfulness despite serious bouts of depression which sometimes incapacitated him. There is no doubt that the great excitement of his life was his brother John, who had once been his assistant in the family firm, becoming prime minister.
What a wonderfully boring life.

Quail Couple

When we first moved here back in '98 we had a whole flock of quail on our acre of brush. Then we brought in cats—multiple cats—and the quail moved on. Now there's only Timmy, and he prefers rodents when he can find them. Birds are just annoying.

A couple weeks ago this young couple showed up. I hope it's the start of another flock. You can't get better bug eaters.

Copter Pilot

After more than 50 years of flying the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the rugged Cascades, after rescuing scores of stranded climbers and dousing countless wildfires, Reece had made a mistake.

Snow had piled up on the copter's canopy then slid into the air intake when Reece flared the aircraft back to position the hook.

"That put the fire out," Reece would say later.

With no engine, Reece knew he was going to drop 170 feet. His first thoughts were of Acuna, a father of three boys.

"I didn't want to squish him."

Using the inertia left in the spinning rotors, Reece kept the helicopter in the sky as long as he could. He could have used the energy to cushion his fall, but Reece wanted to give Acuna time to run.

As the ground rushed toward him, Reece had a last thought: This is going to hurt.
The Seattle P-I profiles Anthony Reece.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

FPOD (Fred Post of the Day)

Actually this is from Lileks's Bleat last Friday:
...I did the Hewitt show. We discussed Fred Thompson, whom I like — he's good ol' Uncle Fred, the cool slow-talkin' relative who has a beer with your dad and maybe tousles your hair as you run past, and who may or may not have shot a man in Reno back in '67. Well, that's what you heard mom tell her friend.

Purchased Testimony

Steyn on the Conrad Black trial:
Everybody in this case has been rewarded. Hollinger's independent directors — four-time Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, former U.S. nuclear arms negotiator Richard Burt, and the super-brainy economist wife of billionaire Henry Kravis — were threatened with enforcement proceedings by the Securities and Exchange Commission for dereliction of duty. And whaddaya know? They decided to testify for the prosecution, too! Between the immunity agreements, the pretrial settlements, the SEC "Wells notices" and the Canadian "golf therapy" sweetheart deals, every key government witness has been given a significant reward for his testimony. So a case that hinges on whether executives received improper bonuses from the company is entirely dependent on witnesses who've received improper bonuses from the U.S. government. I know which I regard as the greater danger.

Hitchens Reviews Hitchens

Peter Hitchens reviews his brother's book:
Christopher is an atheist. I am a believer. He once said in public: "The real difference between Peter and myself is the belief in the supernatural.

"I'm a materialist and he attributes his presence here to a divine plan. I can't stand anyone who believes in God, who invokes the divinity or who is a person of faith."

I don't feel the same way. I like atheists and enjoy their company, because they agree with me that religion is important.

I liked and enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anybody who is interested in the subject. Like everything Christopher writes, it is often elegant, frequently witty and never stupid or boring.

I also think it is wrong, mostly in the way that it blames faith for so many bad things and gives it no credit for any of the good it may have done.
He has more to say and it's all very interesting.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rip Van Grzebski

On the Beeb.
A Polish man has woken up from a 19-year coma to find the Communist party no longer in power and food no longer rationed, Polish TV reports.

Railway worker Jan Grzebski, 65, fell into a coma after he was hit by a train in 1988.

"Now I see people on the streets with mobile phones and there are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin," he told Polish television.
Via Lucianne.

The RNC Understands

Iowahawk got a call from the Republican National Campaign Fund.
I understand that many in the Republican base are concerned with immigration. If you are concerned about border security, rest assured that the Adminstration's new comprehensive immigration bill provides over $225,000 to construct nearly 1,500 feet of impenetrable fence along the New Mexico-Oklahoma state line.
They'd like you to "give 'til it hurts." We're already sore.

Friday, June 01, 2007

FPOD (Fred Post of the Day)

The New York Post, a tabloid, profiles Jeri Kehn, Fred Thompson's 40-year-old-wife. Seems Fred is a babe magnet.
"They just won't leave him alone," Kehn griped. "I can't get up to get a cocktail at a party without coming back and finding some girl sitting in my chair."
At least she wasn't sitting in his lap.
Thompson and Kehn now have two children, a 7-month-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, and live in McLean, Va., not far from former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
It's been a while since we've had little kids in the White House.

The Gang

Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has released their documentary video The Gang: How A Government Agency Uses The Law To Destroy Your Rights And Freedoms.
A former minor tax collection department is now a billion-dollar agency.

This groundbreaking documentary exposes how this agency harasses, oppresses, intimidates, and terrifies small businesses and decent citizens.
$29.95 on DVD or download for just $5.00.

Putting Two and Two Together

Cyborg Moths

The Times:
At some point in the not too distant future, a moth will take flight in the hills of northern Pakistan, and flap towards a suspected terrorist training camp.

But this will be no ordinary moth.

Inside it will be a computer chip that was implanted when the creature was still a pupa, in the cocoon, meaning that the moth's entire nervous system can be controlled remotely.

The moth will thus be capable of landing in the camp without arousing suspicion, all the while beaming video and other information back to its masters via what its developers refer to as a "reliable tissue-machine interface."
Via Lucianne.

American Justice

The Wall Street Journal:
If the court accepts Mr. Fitzgerald's logic, the sentence meted out in this fantastic case would at least double, to a minimum of 30 months. So it goes in a case brought by an unaccountable prosecutor now requesting an unreasonable penalty based on evidence he never introduced at trial.
Mr. Bush should announce his intention to pardon Mr. Libby, even before sentencing.