Tuesday, July 31, 2007

1941 Taylorcraft

On the Willamette near Oregon City:
A small float plane crashed into the Willamette River, killing an accomplished flight instructor and another man, authorities said.

David Howard Wiley, 80, a former National Seaplane Pilot of the Year, was one of the two men who died shortly before noon on Saturday when the vintage 1941 Taylorcraft float plane crashed just north of Willamette Falls.

The identity of the other man was being withheld pending notification of his family.

Witnesses said the two-passenger, single-engine plane took off from the river, rose about 75 feet, wobbled in the air and then began a steep turn to the left before the left wing broke off.
The AP adds some detail to Wiley's biography:
In 2000, Wiley, an aviation safety counselor for the Portland Flight Standards Division Office, was designated a master certified flight instructor by the National Association of Flight Instructors.
A later item identified the second man as "Scott Alan Forsberg, 52, a commercial airline pilot who resided in Gilbert, Ariz."

“Conservatism Of Exceptional Purity”

John Derbyshire likes Ron Paul.
If Washington, D.C. were the drowsy southern town that Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge rode into, Ron Paul would have a chance. Washington's not like that nowadays, though. It is a vast megalopolis, every nook and cranny stuffed with lobbyists, lawyers, and a hundred thousand species of tax-eater. The sleepy old boulevards of the 1920s are now shadowed between great glittering ziggurats of glass and marble, where millions of administrative assistants to the Department of Administrative Assistance toil away at sending memos to each other....

Imagine, for example, President Ron II trying to push his bill to abolish the IRS through Congress. Congress! — whose members eat, drink, breathe and live for the wrinkles they can add to the tax code on behalf of their favored interest groups! Or imagine him trying to kick the U.N. parasites out of our country. Think of the howls of outrage on behalf of suffering humanity from all the lefty academics, MSM bleeding hearts, love-the-world flower children, Eleanor Roosevelt worshippers, and bureaucratic globalizers!

Ain't gonna happen. It was, after all, a conservative who said that politics is the art of the possible. Ron Paul is not possible. His candidacy belongs to the realm of dreams, not practical politics. But, oh, what sweet dreams!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The New Democratic Majority

John Fund looks at voter fraud.
The list of "voters" registered in Washington state included former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, New York Times columnists Frank Rich and Tom Friedman, actress Katie Holmes and nonexistent people with nonsensical names such as Stormi Bays and Fruto Boy. The addresses used for the fake names were local homeless shelters. Given that the state doesn't require the showing of any identification before voting, it is entirely possible people could have illegally voted using those names.
Not just possible. Likely.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Morning on Pilot Rock

At 8:15 this morning we reached the summit of Pilot Rock after a strenuous 45-minute climb.

Oddly enough Lizzy stopped three feet short of the peak and took off her pack.

"You're not there, yet," I said, "Look, that bit of rock is two feet higher."

That's it under her right boot. (Click for a bigger picture.)

The haze in the background was most likely smoke from the Happy Camp fires. Mount McLaughlin was completely obscurred; Mount Ashland faintly visible. Shasta was less than spectacular.
The air was clear where we were, though, at 5908 feet. Or 5906 feet, if you stand where it's more comfortable.

The Sunday Steyn

Don't miss Steyn this weekend.
Do you know Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison?

If you do, don't approach them. Call 911 and order up a SWAT team. They're believed to be in the vicinity of McMinnville, Ore., where they're a clear and present danger to the community. Mashburn and Cornelison were recently charged with five counts of felony sexual abuse, and District Attorney Bradley Berry has pledged to have them registered for life as sex offenders.

Oh, by the way, the defendants are in the seventh grade.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

How Hard Can It Be to Mail a CD?

Amazon's el-cheapo shrink-wrap paperboard mailers don't cut it. First it was a hardcover book with dented corners. Now it's a CD jewel case with traumatic stress fractures. The discs inside were undamaged, fortunately. But these mailers are obviously not up to the job. Inexpensive cardboard—real cardboard—CD mailers have been around for twenty years. They fit in a standard size mail box without folding. Why doesn't Amazon use those?

Princesses

I hadn't heard this angle before but it makes sense.
Furious passengers whistled and clapped as the row intensified before the captain eventually ordered the women to be escorted off the plane.

The princesses, wearing traditional Arab dress, were returning from a day's shopping in Milan. They arrived at the city's Linate airport and boarded Heathrow-bound flight BA 563, which was due to take off at 4pm on Thursday.

The women, all relatives of the oil-rich emir of Qatar, Bader Bin Khalifa Al Thani, were booked into business class in a party of eight which included the emir and an entourage of cooks, servants and other staff.

After passengers had fastened their seat-belts and the plane had taxied on to the runway, two male passengers in the entourage got up to protest about where the women were sitting.
Two and a half hours later the "princesses" and the two men were escorted off the plane. I should hope that from now on they travel by boat.

Link from Drudge.

P-51 Mustangs Crash At Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wisconsin:
Chuck Chall, of Brighton, Mich., saw the crash, and said in formation landings, the second plane should land first, but in this case, the lead plane had already landed.

"I could see it developing," Chall said. "I could see it happening before it started."

According to Howell Herman, of Mount Morris, Ill., who also witnessed the crash, the second P-51 was coming in faster than the lead airplane. He said at first, it looked like the second plane would overshoot the first.

"I was shocked," Herman said. "It's a tragedy. No one expects an accident. These guys are pros."
But those are never easy planes to fly.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Too Few Questions...

How to Win a Fight With a Liberal is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments
My Conservative Identity:

You are an Anti-government Gunslinger, also known as a libertarian conservative. You believe in smaller government, states' rights, gun rights, and that, as Reagan once said, ""The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"?

Take the quiz at www.FightLiberals.com


...to be so accurate.

Explosion at Scaled Composites

Mojave Airport, California:
Three workers were killed and three others were badly hurt Thursday afternoon in an explosion on the edge of Kern County's Mojave airport during the test of a propellant system for a pioneering private spaceship.

The blast occurred at a private test site run by Scaled Composites, a company founded by high-profile aviation entrepreneur Burt Rutan....

Thursday's explosion — whose sound was likened to a 500-pound bomb by a mechanic working several hundred yards away — is believed to have been caused by an undetermined operating flaw that ignited a tank of nitrous oxide....

Rutan, looking tired and disheveled, appeared at a 20-minute evening news conference at the desert airport. He told reporters that the blast occurred as the company was testing the propellent flow system for SpaceShip Two, the intended successor to the pioneering SpaceShip One and a project whose details had been closely guarded by Scaled Composites.

"We felt it was completely safe. We had done a lot of these [tests] with SpaceShip One," said Rutan, who added that "we just don't know" why the explosion occurred.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The ayatollah, as usual, was making things miserable.
America's first Gulf convoy under the new rules passed through the Hormuz strait on July 22 hoping for peace but, by any test, well prepared for war. The American navy has two jobs to do. One is to protect the reflagged Kuwaiti tankers, and itself, from attack. The other is, if necessary, to hit back at the attacker—presumably Iran. It has the muscle to do both.
Back in the United States the worst of the Iran-contra affair was over. Oliver North took the heat and Admiral Poindexter took the blame.
"I simply did not want any outside interference," said Rear-Admiral John Poindexter, pointing his pipe at Congress. And that, simply, is what turned American foreign policy on its head during the admiral's stretch as national security adviser. The adviser protected the president from advice other than his own, cutting out from the decision-making process anybody who might hold a contrary opinion...
And it mostly worked.

In Santa Monica the correspondent wondered
Are Americans consuming fewer drugs? Probably not. A dramatic drop in the latest estimate of the quantity of illicit drugs consumed and produced in the United States may confirm only that nobody really knows.
Or maybe they were just saying "No."

In Books and Arts a three column-inch call-out announced
The Economist has 1.5m readers in 170 countries. In all but one country, our readers have on this page a review of "Spycatcher", a book by an ex-M15 man, Peter Wright. The exception is Britain, where the book, and comment on it, have been banned. For our 420,000 readers there, this page is blank—and the law is an ass.
The Economist's style, as always, clear and concise.

Gold Hill's Wildfire Show

We had a little diversion yesterday afternoon. I drove down 2nd Avenue to get a better look and saw flames leaping a hundred feet into air. Crews on the ground assisted by two helicopters began dumping water on it and the air tankers arrived soon after. As people got off work crowds gathered on the football field at Patrick Elementary to watch the show. It was all over by nine o'clock.

More details in the Mail Tribune.

We had another fire along 234 about three blocks away the day before. We've had a lot of small fires lately without lightning storms to excuse them. I suspect arson, just as we had here three years ago.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sentencing In November

Mark Steyn at Macleans.ca:
Conrad maintains his innocence, and in that sense 35 years of mailbag-sewing and licence-plate hammering in a Midwestern dungeon or six months of "golf therapy" and community theatre in a David Radler-style British Columbia country club makes no difference: it's not the loss of his liberty, it's the loss of his reputation.... Not for the first time, those legal analysts don't understand Lord Black: he's acting in accordance with his deepest conviction, not his criminal conviction. And not for the first time, Conrad Black doesn't understand the U.S. justice system, where every day innocent men plead guilty to something, anything just to make the government bugger off and destroy some other fellow's life.

Holiday House

Bardy Azadmard and his completely restored 1960 Geographic, back in Medford where it was originally built.

Mail Tribune article here. Azadmard's trailer web site here.

Plot Twist

Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews The Deathly Hallows.
It has been widely observed that J.K. Rowling owes a creative debt to Christian fantasists J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (apart from their fondness for initials). It's odd now to remember that, at the same time, some parents have objected to the magic depicted in the Harry Potter books as a glorification of satanic practices. For "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" confirms something else apart from the well-thought-out-ness of Ms. Rowling's moral universe: It is subtly but unmistakably Christian.

Trouble Makers

Paul Johnson:
It is striking that the hugely wicked are quite innocent of avarice. Hitler never showed any interest in money. Stalin left his salary envelopes unopened: When Stalin died, the little old desk in his modest office was found stuffed with them. Mao Zedong, over the course of his career, killed 70 million people, but toward the end of his life Mao failed to recognize a current banknote. These three monsters weren't obsessed with wealth; they were obsessed with power.

Then there are the troublemakers, whose activities take endless forms....

Monday, July 23, 2007

Alpha Matthews

Mocking the May debate hosted by Chris Matthews:
"You're watching an utterly irrelevant, shallow television celebrity dominate everybody who claimed they want to lead the most powerful nation in the world," he said.

Gingrich ridiculed "the idea of 10 or 11 people standing passively at microphones," and said he refused to "shrink to the level of 40-second answers, standing like a trained seal, waiting for someone to throw me a fish."

He added: "These are not debates, these are auditions. By definition, the psychology of an audition reduces the person auditioning and raises the status, for example, of Chris Matthews."...

"I have no interest in the current political process. I have no interest in trying to figure out how I can go out and raise money under John McCain's insane censorship rules so I can show up to do seven minutes and twenty seconds at some debate."
I guess he was interested enough to watch it. I wasn't.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Philip K. Dick in the Library of America

Kelly Jane Torrance reviews Four Novels of the 1960s, by Philip K. Dick.
If only Dick, born in 1928, had lived to 78 instead of just 53. A quarter-century after his death, he is finally considered not just a serious American writer but one of the century's greatest. At least, that's one conclusion to be drawn from Dick's inclusion in the Library of America: the first science-fiction writer to be so canonized in what is the closest thing to secular sainthood in American letters. Best known for collecting the works of such titans as James and Faulkner, the Library of America presents "America's best and most significant writing in authoritative editions." And Dick has been included not for his realist books, which finally started appearing in print posthumously, but for some of his most outlandish sci-fi creations.
(Like Derbyshire, below, Ms. Torrance posts her print articles after the magazine has left the newsstand.)

A quarter of a century ago David Handy loaned me at least three of the four novels—Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I don't remember The Man in the High Castle but he may have loaned me that one, too.

Thanks, Dave.

Out of The Box

John Derbyshire in the July 9 National Review:
Did you catch the last episode of The Sopranos? I missed it. Worse yet, I missed the entire Sopranos phenomenon— have never seen a single episode, nor even a fraction of one. Matter of fact, there was another program on that night I wanted to see: The Tudors. A friend had told me this was great fun: a glossy, botoxed updating (he said) of those BBC historical dramas of the early 1970s. I loved those: Keith Michell lurching around in cloth of gold, cheeks padded out like a hamster, Glenda Jackson snarling "God's death!" at Robert Hardy. I wanted to see The Tudors.

I didn't get to, though. Both The Sopranos and The Tudors are shown on HBO, which we don't have. My cable company wants a $4.95 monthly premium fee for HBO, and we don't feel like paying that. It's not, or not mainly, because we are tightwads. We're just TV minimalists. We have only one set in the house, a 15-year-old Sony XBR in the living room. We don't watch it much.
After the magazine has left the newsstands, Mr. Derbyshire posts his articles on his own web site. If you don't mind waiting a couple of weeks, you can read them there.

We'll Never Know

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Doldrums

The belt of calm lying close to the equator is known as the doldrums. Sailing ships that cross the doldrums roll in the ocean swells with their sails slatting uselessly, catching whatever breeze they can in fits and starts—an annoying sound and a very frustrating time for sailors.
And for bloggers.

The definition above is taken from When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay by Olivia A Isil, an excellent reference to have alongside your Oxford American Dictionary and Economist Style Guide.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Islamic Humor

Christopher Orlet looks for humor in the Muslim world and doesn't find much.

But it you can't laugh with them at least you can laugh at them. Rage Boy has his own bumper stickers now.

On a related note, Little Mosque on the Prairie will begin its second season in September.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

Even the leader was impressed.
Six days on television turned Lieut-Colonel Oliver North into Ollie, world superstar. Long after people have forgotten the names of Senator this and Counsel that, the will remember the soldier who saw off those inquisitors with a dazzling display of patriotism and military pride; the embodiment of America the dutiful....

Colonel North, deliberately or not, has shown that America cannot have it both ways on the Iran-contra affair. If he is a popular hero, then the subject on which he feels so passionately—getting arms to the Nicaraguan contras—cannot long remain a policy that is heartily disliked by most Americans. And if Colonel North was honest when he said "I was authorised to do everything that I did", then the Iran-contra affair was not the junior free-lance idiocy that it has often been portrayed to be.
Meanwhile another superstar emerged.
Governor Michael Dukakis invokes the American dream in three languages: fluent Greek to tap the solidarity and generosity of his own ethnic community; practised Spanish to woo America's fastest growing voting block; and Boston-vowelled English to promise an economic miracle, Massachusetts-style, for the rest of the country.
Miracle? He would need one.

On the other side of the world Algeria dealt with jihadis, known then by another name.
Murder, sabotage and subversion were among the accusations levelled against 208 Islamic fundamentalists whose trial by Algeria's state security court, sitting in the small town of Medea, ended on July 10th. Four of the defendants were sentenced to death and 15 were acquitted; the rest received jail terms ranging from a few years to life.
And in the Balkans things were heating up.
Most of Europe's old trouble-spots are looking rather quiet these days. Not Kosovo, the Yugoslav province that adjoins Albania. Few people outside Yugoslavia have been paying much attention to Kosovo. But if the trouble there is not solved, it could rattle the whole of Yugoslavia.
Judging from the language of the article it was purely an "ethnic" thing; religion, particularly Islam, was nowhere mentioned.

Dava Newman, Space Bunny

National Geographic:
Engineer Dava Newman models the BioSuit space suit next to a poster showing a conventional space suit.

Traditional pressurized space suits, known as extravehicular mobility units, weigh about 300 pounds (135 kilograms) and are fastened together in three sections.

The BioSuit, made mainly of nylon and spandex, is lightweight and allows greater flexibility...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blair's Erosion of Liberty

Theodore Dalrymple considers the Blair legacy:
Many have surmised that there was an essential flaw in Mr. Blair's makeup that turned him gradually from the most popular to the most unpopular prime minister of recent history. The problem is to name that essential flaw. As a psychiatrist, I found this problem peculiarly irritating (bearing in mind that it is always highly speculative to make a diagnosis at a distance). But finally, a possible solution arrived in a flash of illumination. Mr. Blair suffered from a condition previously unknown to me: delusions of honesty....
He's more to say, and little of it good.

No Survivors

São Paulo, Brazil:
An Airbus 320 with at least 176 people on board skidded off a runway while landing Tuesday night at the main airport in São Paulo, Brazil's largest city, and crashed into an office building and a gas station across a highway, setting off a conflagration that took firefighters more than six hours to bring under control....

More than other Brazilian airports, Congonhas has suffered repeated flight delays and cancellations in recent months, in part a result of a renovation and modernization of the main runway that was meant to reduce the risk of airplanes losing their grip on the worn concrete landing surface.

That project was mainly finished late last month, but airlines have complained that the problem persists, and on Monday a commuter plane skidded along the runway before the pilot regained control. Tuesday was a day of persistent rain in São Paulo, and engineers and physicists who spoke on Brazilian television Tuesday night suggested that those conditions contributed to the TAM pilot's losing control of his aircraft.

"It was to be expected this would happen," Carlos Camacho, security director of the National Union of Airline Employees, told the Web site of the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo just hours after the crash. "A full-up plane, heavy, on a rainy day, with water pooling, and the pilot ends up not having control of the airplane."
Not much margin for error there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mr. Lee CatCam

Mad scientist invents the CatCam:
Sometimes I have some challenging ideas, or crazy like some other people would say. This time I thought about our cat who is the whole day out, returning sometimes hungry sometimes not, sometimes with traces of fights, sometimes he stay also the night out. When he finally returns, I wonder where he was and what he did during his day. This brought me to the idea to equip the cat with a camera. The plan was to put a little camera around his neck which takes every few minutes a picture. After he is returning, the camera would show his day.
Join Mr. Lee for a walk around his neighborhood.

Congress Proposes Black Market In Cigars

As part of an increase in tobacco taxes designed to pay for children's health insurance, the nickel-per-cigar tax that has ruled the industry could rise to as much as $10 per cigar.
St. Petersburg Times.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm in ur posts...

Stealin' ur pitchers.

Deck bunny Ken Murray with yours truly at the helm.

No Vital Center

I was forced to read Arthur Schlesinger in college and I hated it. Now he's dead these past five months and William Voegeli of the Claremont Institute can let him have it.
Throughout his long career, Arthur Schlesinger was not, to put it gently, zealous about fulfilling this duty. There was such perfect congruence between Schlesinger's political preferences and his scholarly conclusions that neither happy coincidence nor honest error can possibly account for it. In the devastating "Coolidge and the Historians" (1982), Thomas Silver showed that Schlesinger repeatedly and flagrantly tortured the evidence until it confessed. "What the hell," Schlesinger said in defense of one book. "You have to call them as you see them." It's the umpire's credo--but Schlesinger always wanted to have it both ways, to speak with the authority of an umpire, while competing fiercely as a member of his team.

Abolish the SAT?

Charles Murray says we should.
How are we to get rid of the SAT when it is such an established American institution and will be ferociously defended by the College Board and a large test-preparation industry?

Actually, it could happen quite easily. Admissions officers at elite schools are already familiar with the statistical story I have presented. They know that dropping the SAT would not hinder their selection decisions. Many of them continue to accept the SAT out of inertia—as long as the student has taken the test anyway, it costs nothing to add the scores to the student's folder....

There is poignance in calling for an end to a test conceived for such a noble purpose. But the SAT score, intended as a signal flare for those on the bottom, has become a badge flaunted by those on top. We pay a steep educational and cultural price for a test that no one really needs.

Hitchens Sunday School

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz interviews Christopher Hitchens in The Atlantic.
Gritz: I read in the New York Times that you do like to bring your children up with some modicum of religious education. I'd be interested to know what the Christopher Hitchens Sunday School looks like.

Hitchens: It would be the King James Bible. Of course, the Church of England doesn't bother with it anymore. They have some happy, crappy new book. But if you don't know what's in King James and how it sounds, you won't understand a lot of what's in Shakespeare or Milton or John Donne or George Herbert, to name only a few examples. Enormous numbers of phrases in common use would be opaque to you. You wouldn't know where they came from. They would be empty.

Look, religion was our first attempt at philosophy. It was the first and the worst, but it's still part of our history and tradition. As it is, children don't know where anything comes from—they don't know the literary canon or the historical record. So I think to be religiously literate is very important.

I also think if you start showing them the stuff as they approach the age of literacy and reason, there isn't the slightest chance they're going to believe in it. If Antonia speaks up and asks, "Daddy, what's this about killing all the baby boys in Egypt?" I just say, "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time."
Addendum: Peter Berkowitz also looks at the new atheism.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mal de Debarquement

I just returned from two days on the lake so I won't be posting anything tonight.

Oops.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Verdict: Not Lucky

Steyn's ordeal in the Chicago courtroom is over.
There will be recriminations a-plenty over what was just announced on the 12th floor in Chicago. Conrad Black was found NOT GUILTY of racketeering, NOT GUILTY of tax fraud, NOT GUILTY of the CanWest scheme, NOT GUILTY on Bora Bora, the Park Avenue apartment and Barbara's birthday party, NOT GUILTY on the individual non-competes on US newspaper sales.

He has been found GUILTY in just two narrow areas — "obstruction of justice" re the security camera footage of him removing boxes from 10 Toronto Street, and three "mail fraud" counts relating to the APC non-compete agreement, in which (as the government argued) Black and Radler paid Black and Radler not to compete with Black and Radler....

Yet, absent successful appeals, four men could be spending the rest of their working lives in jail. The US Attorney's office might usefully adopt as its motto the IRA's message to Mrs Thatcher after the Brighton bombing, "You have to be lucky every time. We only have to be lucky once."
When will the show trials end?

Back To Supporting Our SOB

Jonathan Kay says it's civil war all over.
In all of these places, the basic plot is the same: traditional Muslim Sheikhs and autocrats battling with murderous jihadis for control of Muslim lands. And in all of these places, it is Muslims themselves - not Western soldiers or politicians — who will decide the outcome.

If anything, in fact, the trend in the West is toward isolationism. Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally in 2005. In Washington, even key Republican Senators are now urging George W. Bush to draw down U.S. troops in Iraq. Even in Afghanistan, where NATO troops are bravely fighting and dying to prevent the country from falling into bloody chaos, the public's patience may soon run out: The best-trained armies in the world can't win a decisive battle so long as Islamists control Pakistan's tribal borderlands.

Of course, Muslims are still trying to blow up infidels in New York, London and Glasgow — not to mention Tel Aviv, Kashmir and a hundred other places. But with every passing month, Muslim violence becomes more self-directed. By the time Iran gets its Shiite Bomb, Wahabist Saudi Arabia may be as much at risk as Israel.

In an obvious self-interested sense, this is good news for the West. But the trend also means that we are losing our ability to shape events. After 9/11, George W. Bush and his international supporters were swept up in a grand Wilsonian project to revamp the political culture of the Muslim world. But six years later, we're largely back on the sidelines, feebly exhorting our chosen autocrats — Pervez Musharraf, Mahmoud Abbas, Fouad Siniora, Nouri al-Maliki, King Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah — to "do more to fight terrorism." We have gone from realists to democratic utopians back to realists again.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

We began in the Letters column.
Sir—The Iran-contra affair is not the "central cause" of President Reagan's malaise (June 20th). The real cause is that the is a small-timer in over his head. The Iran-contra affair results from sheer inability to cope. Mr Reagan is the most ill-equipped, ill-prepared president since Harding. He knows little about the world or his own country. He touts "traditional values" in public and flouts them in private. He is stubborn in small things, yet caves in all too readily when confronted by great events. He prizes loyalty above honesty and integrity. He lacks the ruthlessness which all great leaders must occasionally exhibit. Perhaps worst of all, he is a terrible judge of ability and character.

Events have hot brought the president low. He has brought events to a new low.

John H. Wilde
Due West,
South Carolina
At the time Mr Wilde represented mainstream opinion. Perhaps he still does.

Meanwhile the leader advised
For safety's sake, Europe must therefore get ready to do more to defend itself. It should also do so for the sake of self-respect. A Europe which makes better wide-body jets and cleaner car engines than America, which faces down America in many a trade battle, which has invested more in America than America has in Europe, should not stand with dropped jaw when asked to do a bit more for defence. The contrast between its military dependence on the United States, and its independence in almost everything else, is bad for Europe. It makes it feel embarrassed...
Quaint idea that: Europe capable of embarrassment.

In California a fellow named Deukmejian struggled with the budget; in Boston a fellow named LaRouche was under investigation by the Federal Election Commission. Both names are long forgotten. Had it not been a very slow news week we would not have noticed them even then.

ODF Dispatcher Jessica Hicks

The Mail Tribune has an article this morning on the Oregon Department of Forestry's dispatchers.
Dispatchers work in an aging mobile home at the ODF headquarters on Table Rock Road. A huge map of Jackson and Josephine counties covers the wall behind the cluster of desks, radios and telephones that serves as the dispatch center. Each fire is marked on the map when its location is confirmed. Magnets that identify fire engines and other firefighting resources are placed on the map where they're working to give managers a visual sense of where the fires are and where their resources are committed.

"Dispatchers track where all the stuff is," said Brian Ballou, a state forestry spokesman. "They arrange for bulldozers, sack lunches for the crews, helicopters, and anything else they might need."...

[Retired dispatcher Terri] Frazier said the dispatch job takes "somebody who's sharp and can make snap decisions, and assimilate lots of information in a short time, and multi-task — that's a given, of course."
In other words people of high intelligence with nerves of steel.

Ministry of the Environment

A pair of headlines from British Columbia.
  1. Tree-climbing cougar grabs family dog 'like a rag doll'
  2. Women, kids sought as new hunters
Probably no connection.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Crunch, Crunch. Yum.

Giant 'Corpse-Eating' Badgers Terrorise Iraqi City
The Iraqi port city of Basra, already prey to a nasty turf war between rival militia factions, has now been gripped by a scary rumour — giant badgers are stalking the streets by night, eating humans.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch, really. But wait. It gets better.

According to the National Association of Private Animal Keepers, the Honey Badger not only eats corpses, it produces them in a particularly nasty way.
In 1947 Stevenson-Hamilton (the first warden of the Kruger National Park, South Africa) added to the increasingly formidable reputation of honey badgers by reporting that they killed ungulates... by castration and the resulting fatal haemorrhage. By the 1960's this had become a common feature of species accounts and the naturalist George Sweeney took it a step further by recounting the story of four tribesmen who encountered a honey badger, which "hamstrung one of the men, clawed another and castrated him with one clean bite".
Watch out, fellas! What good are 72 virgins to a eunuch?

Illiberal Doctors

Stanley Kurtz continues his "know your enemy" articles with the first of a two-parter on the British terror doctors.
Deep down, many of us believe that history has a direction — that it slowly but surely moves toward greater freedom, democracy, economic advancement, and social liberalism — in short, toward "modernity." President Bush is convinced that people everywhere yearn for freedom. And many liberals, even if they oppose the President's policies, believe that expanded education and economic development will gradually nudge the world's peoples toward a liberal governing vision.
We'd like to believe that. But it isn't necessarily so.

Update: Here's part two.
This is the kernel of truth in economic explanations of Islamist radicalism. Egypt's huge new generation of doctors, lawyers, and engineers may not have been poor, but after years of study and sacrifice they were seriously underemployed. The emergence of Islamism is less a tale of abject poverty than a classic case of social revolution fomented by rising expectations.
Also known as relative deprivation, a crisis of rising expectations is one of those things we learned about in our International Relations class.

You didn't take that class? Of course not. Only poliwonks take that class.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Whiz Kid?

CONGRATULATIONS!

YOUR SCORE IS: 44 OUT OF 50 ON THE CONSTITUTION FACTS EXPERT QUIZ #2!

YOUR CONSTITUTION I.Q. IS: CONSTITUTION WHIZ KID
Those were some tough questions.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dreamliner

Boeing premiered its new all-plastic Dreamliner yesterday. I want to ride that bird. I just don't want to stand in lines at the airport.

The Silent Sierras

Victor Davis Hanson has good news of sorts for those of us who still love to get out.
In the 1960s driving to the Sierra National Forest—about half way between California's Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks—was a family event. Campgrounds over the 4th were crowded; the tiny store at Huntington Lake was packed, and Highway 168 was often jammed. My mother and father used to time our trips carefully to avoid the crowds, and bring up almost everything we could since facilities were rare and crowded.

But I've noticed a subtle change coming up there now—fewer people despite more cabins, stores and facilities. I hiked to some places in the Kaiser Wilderness over this 4th of July holidays: not a soul there. Lakes like Edison and Florence were empty; didn't see anyone on traditional day-hikes to Nellie Lake and only a few to Twin Lakes. Even during the 4th Huntington Lake was not jammed as in the past.

I've asked a lot of people in the area about these impressions—businesspeople, rangers, cabin owners, backpackers—and all sort of agree that the Sierra if not less visited, is at least not as visited at the rate one would have expected given California's increased population over the last 50 years in general, and the sudden explosion of greater Fresno area right below to nearly over a million people.

Some of the reasons cited are, of course, transitory: high gas prices, dry conditions, low water levels in some of the lakes. But most causes are not and I think are more long-term and permanent since the phenomenon seems true of the last decade. Better reasons are simply that a new generation has other things to do—not just things like theme parks such as Universal Studios and Disneyland, but cut-rate vacations to Cancun or Baja or even Hawaii and Europe.

Another factor are the billions of collective hours spent by millions of youth on video games and electronic toys; youth today seem happy enough to stay near the mall, Starbucks, and their video consoles and don't know a pine from a fir, much less Sequoia Park from Yosemite.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fixin' to Pour Our Cement Pond!

Today we finished pouring the concrete for our new Koi Pond. I, personally, have never worked so hard in my life, and hope never to do so again.

The whole darn slide show is here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Specialization Is For Insects

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
—Robert A. Heinlein

OK, let's take those one at a time.
  1. change a diaper
    been there, done that
  2. plan an invasion
    the opportunity has, unfortunately, not yet presented itself
  3. butcher a hog
    does cleaning a fish count?
  4. conn a ship
    skipper a sailboat? Henlein probably meant a space ship; those still (in 2007!) being in short supply, would piloting an aircraft do?
  5. design a building
    the remodel from hell; yep, all my fault
  6. write a sonnet
    on Valentine's Day about five years ago; it was rather well received
  7. balance accounts
    theoretically, anyway
  8. build a wall
    or two, yes
  9. set a bone
    ouch! no, not yet
  10. comfort the dying
    no, but I've afflicted the comfortable
  11. take orders
    aye, aye, Sir!
  12. give orders
    not in a militarty sense, although my children might disagree
  13. cooperate
    of course
  14. act alone
    more often than not
  15. solve equations
    in multiple variables
  16. analyze a new problem
    is there any other kind?
  17. pitch manure
    more than my share
  18. program a computer
    don't get me started...
  19. cook a tasty meal
    "cook" and "meal" yes; "tasty" requires qualification
  20. fight efficiently
    again, not in a military sense
  21. die gallantly
    not planning on it
Score me fourteen out of twenty-one. Clearly, I haven't lived long enough yet.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader had scant hope for reform.
An end to the system that can tell people where to live and work cuts deep into Lenin's legacy—the Communist party's powers of people-control. Even for the crusading Mr Gorbachev, ideology dictates that the one part of the economy which could most intelligently use extra labour is condemned not to grow. The tiny private sector he has reluctantly agreed to tolerate allows hairdressers, taxi drivers and doctors to do legally what they did illegally before. But they may not employ anybody outside their families—and they must all have a state job too. It is not a good omen for the new flexibility Mr Gorbachev promises in the vast state sector.
America was about to get a new Supreme Court justice.
In presenting the bearded, pear-shaped judge to the press, Mr Reagan praised him as "the most prominent and intellectually powerful advocate of judicial restraint".
Restraint was the last thing on the opposition's mind, of course.

In the Middle East
By one new estimate, casualties in the Iran-Iraq war have not passed the million mark, with about 350,000 people dead and 650,000 wounded. Iran's share of these losses has been fully twice as large as Iraq's.
And further east
The war in Afghanistan is getting tougher for the Russians. Since the Afghan guerrillas began using American-supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles last October, they have shot down an average of one communist aircraft a day: or so say Americans who ought to be in a position to know such things.
And properly cared for those missiles have a shelf life of thirty to forty years.

Harris Beach, July 4, 2007

Dave Christy loaned us a kite, a bottle of Rio Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, and a couple of his "vin valets," wire glass-holders that keep your wine from spilling into the sand.

The weather was perfect. Just enough wind to fly the kites, warm enough to spend an hour in the surf, and sunny enough for everyone to get nicely browned but not quite crisp. We had a lovely dinner at the Apple Peddler before leaving Brookings and driving home through the warming air. As we passed through Grants Pass rockets rose through the darkened skies to all sides. The police were everywhere but anarchy reigned, in the land of the free, home of the brave.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

This American Identity

From start to finish I found no strangers. If I had, I might be able to report them more objectively. But these are my people and this my country. If I found matters to criticize and to deplore, they were tendencies equally present in myself. If I were to prepare one immaculately inspected generality it would be this: For all of our enormous geographic range, for all of our sectionalism, for all of our interwoven breeds drawn from every part of the ethnic world, we are a nation, a new breed. Americans are much more American than they are Northerners, Southerners, Westerners, or Easterners. And descendants of English, Irish, Italian, Jewish, German, Polish are essentially American. This is not patriotic whoop-de-do; it is carefully observed fact. California Chinese, Boston Irish, Wisconsin German, yes, and Alabama Negroes, have more in common than they have apart. And this is the more remarkable because it has happened so quickly. It is a fact that Americans from all sections and of all racial extractions are more alike than the Welsh are like the English, the Lancashireman like the Cockney, or for that matter the Lowland Scot like the Highlander. It is astonishing that this has happened in less than two hundred years and most of it in the last fifty. The American identity is an exact and provable thing.
John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley, 1962.

Jefferson and Adams

Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm writes of the founders.
In 1825 Jefferson wrote to congratulate Adams on the election of his son John Quincy to the presidency--an election so close it was decided in the House of Representatives. "So deeply are the principles of order, and of obedience to law impressed on the minds of our citizens generally that I am persuaded there will be as immediate an acquiescence in the will of the majority," Jefferson assured him, "as if Mr. Adams had been the choice of every man." He closed: "Nights of rest to you and days of tranquility are the wishes I tender you with my affect[iona]te respects."

On July 4 the following year, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, its two frail signers died within hours of each other. Their cause, "struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government," continues in the nation they launched, still fraught with aspirations and anxieties, flaws and divisions but, one hopes, with the ability to reconcile as they did, to work together for the joint venture.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Better Dead Than Rude

John Derbyshire discusses Political Correctness using language that is "vile," "abhorrent," "repugnant," and "hurtful." I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Freedomnomics

Ann Coulter reviews John Lott's new book Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't.

Interestingly enough, she actually seems to have read the book. I think I will too.

The Bluffs of Victoria Crater

Cape St. Vincent, part of the wall of Victoria Crater next to where the Mars exploration rover Opportunity will descend.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Monday, July 02, 2007

For Purple Mountain Majesties

Mark Steyn's Song of the Week #61: America the Beautiful.
In 1893, a Massachusetts professor called Katharine Lee Bates was giving a series of summer lectures on English literature at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs. "One day," she recalled, "some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there."...

Though she insisted "the sublimity of the Rockies smote my pencil with despair", she was not "wordless" for long. "It was then and there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into my mind":
Oh beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
She put them down on paper that evening in her room at the Antlers Hotel....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Aced It

How smart are you?

Your turn.

Watch out for trick questions. And pretend it's really last week, because I think the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is actually Gordon Brown.

Presenting the Draft

David McCullough discusses John Trumbull's depiction of July 4, 1776.
That Trumbull felt deeply the symbolic importance of his subject there is no doubt, in both versions of the scene. Nor does he leave any question about the importance of both Jefferson and Adams in how he has placed them in the composition. Jefferson stands tallest, as he did in real life. His red vest further draws our attention, and it is he who holds the document in his hands. But it is Adams alone who is presented full-figure, and who has been placed at the exact center of the composition. (Lines drawn from opposite corners of the painting cross in the middle of Adams's chest.) It was Jefferson's declaration, Trumbull seems to be saying, but it was Adams who stood at the center of what happened, in that it was he who got the Congress to cast the all-important unanimous vote for the Declaration.

Reconsidering FDR

Amity Shlaes condenses the argument from her latest book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.

¿Habla Español?


Victor Davis Hanson on why the amnesty bill failed.
People were tired of being told by courts that we are a racist society unless we supply interpreters at great cost to those who do not enroll in English classes. There is rampant fraud in areas that Americans were warned since infancy were the third-wires of our legal system such as authentic Social Security numbers and legitimate names. And the most grating was the complete neglect of immigration laws by city and local officials due to the sanctimoniousness of the race industry on the left and the profit-above-all of the corporate right.

Venus And Saturn Tonight

In close conjunction.
Venus is the brightest celestial object besides the Sun and Moon, making this pairing exceptionally simple to locate. Both planets should be easy to see fairly high in the western sky a half hour after sunset. Even if you don't own a telescope, you'll get spectacular views through binoculars or with your unaided eyes.
SkyandTelescope.com.