Friday, August 31, 2007

A-a-a-nd USDA Inspected!

A Mail Tribune PSA:
Towslee said the bacteria has been traced to extra-lean ground beef sold under the "Northwest Finest" brand as "natural ground beef 7% fat" with a UPC code that reads 7 52907 60012 7. It also was sold under the "Northwest Finest" label as "organic ground beef 10% fat" with no UPC code.

The meat was sold in 16-ounce black plastic trays with sell-by dates between Aug. 1 and Aug. 11, 2007. Each package also bears the phrase "Est. 965" inside the inspection mark of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pakistan At The Turning Point

Benazir Bhutto in the LA Times.
The militants who holed up in the mosque had tried to impose their own laws over and above the laws of Pakistan. They kidnapped women and police officials. They intimidated and shut down entertainment shops. Their vigilante squads terrorized the women who drove cars in the capital city. Six long months of negotiations with them failed, and a bloody result ensued when the army tried to overcome the mutiny. More than 100 people were killed.

The Red Mosque incident demonstrated that no deals can be struck with religious fanatics.

Pakistan is at the crossroads. Our success can be a signal to 1 billion Muslims all over the world that Islam is compatible with democracy, modernity and moderation. I go back to Pakistan this autumn knowing that there will be difficult days ahead. But I put my faith in the people and my fate in the hands of God. I am not afraid. Yes, we are at a turning point, but I know that time, justice and the forces of history are on our side.

Periclean Solution

Pete du Pont discusses campaign spending.
"But what would you do about all this horrible fund-raising and spending that goes on in campaigns?" she asked. With a cheerful smile (and tongue in cheek), I suggested we get rid of all campaign spending by returning to the Pericles plan of the Golden Age of Greece 25 centuries ago: Instead of electing House and Senate members, have them chosen by lottery from people of constitutional age (25 in the House, 30 in the Senate) in each district and state.

Such a lottery democracy would not only end the campaign contribution corruption that had been discussed in the debate, it would make Congress look like America. Instead of just 16 women in the Senate, there would be about 53; there would be more blacks, Hispanics and younger people and fewer millionaires and senior citizens. And it would allow the billions of dollars now spent on campaigns to be used for other things.

In the astonished silence that followed my response, I could hear the coffee brewing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gold Hill's Golden Gate

Photo by Hamad Darwish.
I found this bridge in Gold Hill, Southern Oregon. It connects both shores on the Rogue River in that area, which is just outside The Del Rio Vineyards. The river is insanely beautiful in that part of Southern Oregon. It was totally worth the drive.
His work will appear in the wallpaper collection of Windows Vista.

I hope this one is among them.

Sustained and Chronic Cruelty

Simon Heffer in the Telegraph:
We have an underclass because we pay to have one. I do not mean that to be a glib remark, from which it could be inferred that, if we were to stop paying for one, it would magically disappear. What I mean is that 60 years of welfarism, far from raising people out of poverty and of the vices that sometimes (but not inevitably) go with it, has simply trapped them there.... The huge outlay of money that allows this to happen is represented by politicians — and not exclusively those of the Left — as a great act of humanity and philanthropy. It is nothing of the sort. It is, rather, an act of sustained and chronic cruelty, and it leads to such horrors as happened in Liverpool last week.
I don't know what happened in Liverpool last week, since I don't regularly read the British press, but it doesn't take much imagination to supply a suitable incident, and at any rate it's irrelevant to the point:
We have an underclass because we pay to have one.
It's as simple as that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Matters Of Priorities

The poverty rate has fallen significantly. But what is poverty?
The poverty level is the official measure used to decide eligibility for federal health, housing, nutrition and child care benefits. It differs by family size and makeup. For a family of four with two children, for example, the poverty level is $20,444.
Even that doesn't tell us much, as the above chart makes clear. One hundred years ago, only the Rockefellers had such wealth. Now over 90% of "the poor" have refrigerators, color TVs, and telephones. Forty-two percent own their own homes.

What I want to know is: Is there beer in the fridge, a game on TV, and a friend on the phone? Because I don't think you're planning on going to work today.

Patrolling the Great Firewall

Beginning September 1st these charming little jackbooted thugs will appear every 30 minutes on Chinese web portals to remind the comrades not to view illegal content or think impure thoughts.

Among the forbidden content, of course, is anything that might be construed to promote democracy or basic human rights of free expression. Hard to believe that we will let these fascists host next year's Olympics. But then we have quite a history of holding the games in totalitarian states.

Mariame and Mara

Jerusalem (AP):
Stephen Pfann, a textual scholar and paleographer at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem... has released a paper claiming the makers of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" were mistaken when they identified an ancient ossuary from the cave as belonging to the New Testament's Mary Magdalene.
And a fascinating paper it is to read, too.

Among Dr. Pfann's points:
  • The original transcription of the inscription was incorrect.
  • The inscription does not read "Mariamene the Master" nor does the name Mariamene or Mariamne appear on the ossuary at all.
  • The inscription reflects the writing of two distinct scribes who wrote in different forms of the Greek script.
  • The correct reading of the inscription is "Mariame and Mara," based on parallels from contemporary inscriptions and documents.
  • The ossuary thus contained the bones of at least two different women, interred at two separate times, one named Mariame and the other Mara.
  • No support exists for ascribing the ossuary to Mary Magdalene.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lola Granola Goes Islamist

Steve's girlfriend continues her spiritual quest. Last week she was an Amish nudist. But due to threats of a buggy bombings in Pennsylvania, newspapers around the nation pulled the Amish strips.

Thanks to Bridget Johnson.

Update: Beach Time!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

And To Your Left...

a lovely view of... Oh, never mind.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Everest Summiteer to Talk

Brian Smith, who climbed Everest this year, will give a series of talks in the Rogue Valley. The public is invited.
  • Sunday, September 9th, at 10 a.m. at the Calvary Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville
  • Sunday, September 9th, at 7 p.m. at the Jacksonville Presbyterian Church
  • Monday, September 10th, at 7 p.m. at the Rogue Valley Manor in Medford

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Evolutionary Psychology

Women really are better than men at shopping.
There is a fair amount of evidence that men are better than women at solving certain sorts of spatial problems, such as remembering the locations of topographical landmarks. Many researchers suggest such skills may have been important in the past for man-the-hunter, who needed to be able to find his way round the landscape. If that is the case, then woman-the-gatherer might have been expected to develop complementary skills not shown by males. And that, as he writes in this week's Proceedings of the Royal Society, is what Dr New found.

Dr New used the [farmers'] market to test two hypotheses. The first was that women remember the locations of food resources more accurately than men do. The second was that the more nutritionally valuable a resource is, the more accurately its location will be remembered.
In this week's Economist.

Don't Want No Stinkin' Volunteers

Via NW Republican, the real reason the Jackson County Libraries couldn't rely more on volunteers: union rules.

Yet another example of how the public employee unions mug the taxpayer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Woz At 104

The Contra Costa Times:
Wozniak was headed to Las Vegas for a business trip with his pal Dan Sokol on March 28. Little head wind, light traffic, a straight road. His Prius was sailing along so smoothly that neither realized the speed Wozniak was reaching.

Until they saw the California Highway Patrol cruiser ahead. Drivers on I-5 routinely top 90 mph, but 104 is a sure way to get the CHP's attention — and fast. The officer on the northbound side pulled a quick U-turn and "cue the violins," Sokol said.

The Prius, Wozniak said, handled great at 104....

"I made good time and was surprised to discover that the Prius was very stable, even with major gusting winds," Wozniak said. "Being used to a Hummer I expected the opposite."

Libraries To Re-Open

Just announced in the Mail Tribune:
A bare-bones library system would reopen as early as November at half the previous cost and half the hours under a proposal approved by the Jackson County Budget Committee today.

The county negotiated a budget with Library Systems and Services LLC (known by the acronym LSSI), a Maryland-based library management company, that works out to $4.3 million a year, or about half the annual budget before libraries were closed April 6....

Libraries in Ashland, Medford, Central Point, Eagle Point and Rogue River would be open 24 hours a week. Branches in Gold Hill, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Shady Cove and White City would be open 16 hours a week. Outlying branches in Applegate, Butte Falls, Prospect and Ruch would be open eight hours weekly.
As usual, they got it half right. The price—$4.3 million—is right. The hours—half as many—I'm not so wild about. I seems to me they could let some of those overpriced MLS types go. Checking out books is easier than checking out groceries. You don't need a college degree to do it.

Previous woof here.

Way Out Of This World

A few years back the State of California attempted to tax satellites passing overhead. Now communist China will attempt to extend its tendrils even further.
In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."
Via Taranto, and too good to pass up.

Debunking Portland

This if for Randy and Beth, "unfortunately living in the people's socialist republic of Multnomah county."

Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn't Work by Randal O'Toole
When judged by the results rather than the intentions, the costs of Portland's planning far outweigh the benefits. Planners made housing unaffordable to force more people to live in multifamily housing or in homes on tiny lots. They allowed congestion to increase to near—gridlock levels to force more people to ride the region's expensive rail transit lines. They diverted billions of dollars of taxes from schools, fire, public health, and other essential services to subsidize the construction of transit and high—density housing projects.

Those high costs have not produced the utopia planners promised. Far from curbing sprawl, high housing prices led tens of thousands of families to move to Vancouver, Washington, and other cities outside the region's authority. Far from reducing driving, rail transit has actually reduced the share of travel using transit from what it was in 1980. And developers have found that so—called transit—oriented developments only work when they include plenty of parking.

The Loneliness of the Military Historian

Victor Davis Hanson asks Why Study War?
The university's aversion to the study of war certainly doesn't reflect public lack of interest in the subject. Students love old-fashioned war classes on those rare occasions when they're offered, usually as courses that professors sneak in when the choice of what to teach is left up to them. I taught a number of such classes at California State University, Stanford, and elsewhere. They'd invariably wind up overenrolled, with hordes of students lingering after office hours to offer opinions on the battles of Marathon and Lepanto.
In City Journal by way of Neo-Neocon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wood Gnome

Leslie warned Miyako before we entered Stout Grove that these woods were the home of gnomes—"little people."

I caught one on film here, adjusting her... digital camera?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Possessed by Demoncrats

A week or so ago Satchel Pooch was acting a little odd. Well, odder. Bucky decided that he was possessed by demon-crats. The whole thing got pretty ridiculous. We haven't had this much fun since Milo and the Major went hunting liberals.

I've put the whole sequence up here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Middle Class Works

The Economist writes of a "hugely successful city" in Los Angeles.
In 1980 whites comprised more than half of the population. These days Asians do (and a very diverse lot they are, too—see chart). Striving immigrants are cause and consequence of the city's excellent schools: in Cerritos High School, pupils who speak inadequate English score better in mathematics tests than those who speak English fluently. Yet the newcomers have not formed ghettos. The last census showed that whites and Asians were more intermixed in Cerritos than in all but 16 other American cities. Whites were even more mixed-up with blacks and Hispanics.

In this, too, Cerritos is not unusual. James Allen, who follows the movement of ethnic groups at the University of Southern California, points out that middle-class suburbs are now the most diverse places in the region. Rich coastal enclaves remain mostly white. Poor areas, which are mostly Hispanic, are no more diverse. It is in dull, sprawling places with good schools, of the sort ridiculed by Hollywood and detested by urban planners, that America comes together.
What was it Daniel Henninger wrote in Opinion Journal yesterday?
My own model for the way forward in a 21st century American society of unavoidable ethnic multitudes is an old one, a phrase found nowhere in the Putnam study or any commentary on it: the middle class. Its assimilating virtues may be boring, but it works, if you work at getting into it.

Imaginary News

The Mail Tribune has a big article about armed Mexican pot growers scaring hunters out of the southern Oregon woods. Three-quarters of the way through the article we learn that it's all speculation.
So far, no one has reported a confrontation over a marijuana garden. There are no reports of booby traps, pot-shots or worse.

"Until something happens, it's just talk," [Shady Cove hunter Ron] Sherva says.
No news here. Just talk. Excuse me while I try to stifle a yawn.

Better Living Through Circuitry

The Wall Street Journal has an article on new gadgets that make our lives more pleasant, such as a device that shuts up the neighbor's dogs by answering their barks with an ultrasonic squeal.
When a market analysis showed 60% of consumers would welcome a covert way to shut up somebody else's canine, the company decided to proceed. Mike Taylor, a Radio Systems executive, says the company doubled the bark controller's range to 50 feet, then asked a focus group to help figure out a way to camouflage the unit so neighbors wouldn't know what it was. After flirting with fake rocks and footballs, the company settled on a somewhat unlikely design -- a brightly painted Bavarian-style birdhouse. "I was the first user," says Mr. Taylor, who says he tested the prototype on an obnoxious neighborhood German shepherd. "I'm sleeping pleasantly now."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Macroscopic Violation of Special Relativity

Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of quantum electrodynamics!
The universal tunneling time seems to hold even for sound waves (i.e. phonons) as measured by Yang et al. at 1 MHz and by Robertson et al. at 1kHz in a sound tunneling experimental setup. Presumably, the virtual behavior of photons discussed here applies for all fields with wave solutions having purely imaginary wave numbers.
Uh huh. Don't try this on your surfboard. Paper here.

They're Getting Closer

Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith is positioning himself to become the man who saved the libraries.
"My personal conviction is that we will have our libraries open before the end of the year," said C.W. Smith. "That's my goal."

The county is considering a proposal by Maryland-based Library Systems and Services LLC (known by the acronym LSSI) to provide library services for $6 million, nearly $2.7 million less than if the county had continued to operate the libraries...
This will be his legacy if he can pull it off. But he's not there yet. Let's recap the numbers.
  • The proposed 2006-07 library budget was $9.1 million.
  • The May library levy was to be for $8.3 million.
  • The SEI Union says it can do the same job for $7.5 million.
  • An independent contractor, LSSI, can run the libraries for $6.0 million.
  • And in 2004-05 Josephine, Klamath, and Douglas Counties combined ran their libraries—28 branches in all—for $5.1 million.
I'm thinking of number between one and ten...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

All You Boy Scouts

When you're out in the woods...

...watch out for Forest Rangers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Teenage Wasteland

Mark Steyn says grow up.
The chief characteristic of the fin de civilisation West is "deferred adulthood." Look at the sepia photographs of any old 19th century weatherbeaten 13-year-old farmboy and compare it to your average listless teen today: who would you rather leave in charge of the house for the weekend? We take it as read that our bodies mature much earlier than our great-grandparents but that our minds don't. So we start adolescence much sooner and try to avoid having to leave it at all--to the point that the marketing chappies have taken to identifying the 20- to 35-year-old segment as "adultescents."

Who Will Defend Britney?

Ben Stein will.
That's right. Because Britney is a normal human being, not a Stalinist mind controlled, food police approved, Whole Foods Bolshevized perfect new Soviet woman mommy, but is a normal mother like other mothers, the media is howling for her head. This is insanity, pure and simple.

John Howard Threatened

Mary Kissel reports on the election contest heating up in Australia, a continent we generally choose to ignore. Prime Minister John Howard of the Liberal Party (confusingly, the conservative one) has a serious challenger in Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party.
Polls show Mr. Howard trailing his challenger, the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd, by around 10 percentage points, with an election expected to be called in late October or early November. The so-called "Howard battlers," the blue-collar workers who swung the 1996 election decisively for the conservatives, are now seen as swing votes, particularly in Queensland and Tasmania....

Mr. Howard's strengths lie in his record of economic growth and foreign policy successes. Mr. Rudd's strengths lie in distracting voters from that record and focusing them on peripheral issues. But as long as Mr. Rudd doesn't make any major gaffes, the thinking goes, Australians are ready for a change.

Or are they? As an Aussie friend once told me, of Mr. Howard, "Every time his critics give him the kiss of death, it amounts to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; he revives and bounces back with incredible force." Mr. Howard has a long way to bounce in a short period of time. But don't count him out just yet.
This has got to be more interesting than our own political news.

Crooked River Canyon

Logiztix of Coos Bay has some nice wallpaper on their site, including this beautiful shot of the Crooked River canyon northwest of Redmond, Oregon.

I have mentioned Crooked River Ranch before.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ann Marlowe From Jalalabad

Ann Marlowe reported from Afghanistan last April. She's back in Opinion Journal with an update. She says that it's doing about as well as anyone has a right to expect.
Security in Laghman is better than in the frontier provinces, but there is a well-established route for al Qaeda, Taliban and other fighters to cross from Pakistan and make their way north through Laghman. A suicide bombing in April seems to have been a turning point in Laghman. The bomber killed a mullah and several schoolgirls, and according to Mr. Ricci, local residents were so angry that they left the bomber's body parts on the road, refusing him burial. Since then, just nine IEDs have been detonated in Laghman, while 25 were turned in by locals.

Of course, one suicide bombing or IED is one too many, but every society is violent in its own way. The 58 killed by IEDs and suicide bombers in Khost could be compared with the 2006 murders in some American cities with around Khost's one-million population: There were 29 murders in San Jose, 108 in Indianapolis, and 373 in Detroit.

Afghanistan is still a poor rural country with a mainly illiterate population, but it's improving rapidly, and with the exception of Helmand Province and a few bad districts in Uruzgun, Kandahar and Loghar, it's much like any number of developing countries in terms of security. We can't give every country everything they'd like, and it will take decades for the rule of law to be as firmly established here as it is in the West. But we can and are helping the Afghans pull themselves up to the next rung on the development ladder.

Karl Rove Departs

At the end of August. Paul Gigot interviews him at the WSJ.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Mountain Flying Lesson

An interesting thing happened at Paisley today. It's five miles or so to the east of a steeply sloped 7500 ft ridge. After climbing out of the pattern I circled once more to climb and then headed for the ridge, expecting to climb the last 1500 feet or so on the way. But as I neared the ridge, my rate of climb went to zero. With full throttle, leaned for max, carb heat off, and 75 mph for best angle of climb, we managed—nothing. When I turned around and headed away from the ridge, I could do 300 ft/min, but when I turned back toward the ridge, no climb.

It finally dawned on me that the wind, directly from the west, was creating a huge downdraft on the eastern slope. When I got back three miles from the ridge I could circle and climb, and when I had plenty of altitude, I headed back, and managed to maintain altitude over the ridge. Of course the minute we passed the ridge we balooned at 1000 ft/min.

As Greg said, it was a great lesson in mountain flying—you need to think about the wind and what it's trying to do. In the mountains the wind doesn't just blow sideways. It blows up and down too.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

When In Doubt, Don't

Opinion Journal on the Fed's next moves:
Talk about moral hazard. No one wants to see someone lose his home to foreclosure. But many of those most at risk bought their homes with little or no money down, and so have very little at stake economically. Bringing in the feds to bail them out would send precisely the wrong message--that risky or overly aggressive borrowing will be rewarded by the government rather than punished in the marketplace. To the extent that bad loans were made, the market needs to clear, not be propped up by federal-aid programs.
Two days ago The Wall Street Journal asked.
What should the Fed's next interest-rate move be?
  • Cut rates
  • Leave rates unchanged
  • Raise rates
99% of the time my answer to that would be "Leave rates unchanged." Better to do nothing at all and let the markets adjust than to steer in what might—flip a coin—be the wrong direction. Interesting that only 45% of the respondents agreed with me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Warmest Year On Record

Among the bloggers I read daily is James Taranto, whose posts appear en bloc weekdays at Best of the Web, from Opinion Journal, the free editorial site of The Wall Street Journal. If you're not reading it regularly you're missing a lot. I have it delivered to my email account, but often I can't wait the extra hour that email seems to take, so I check the web site every few minutes during the afternoon until it appears. It's that good.

Because I assume you're reading it too I don't often link to his more interesting posts. That would be redundant. But an item appeared today which I consider too important to pass by. I'll cite his source directly. DailyTech.com:
Blogger Finds Y2K Bug in NASA Climate Data

My earlier column this week detailed the work of a volunteer team to assess problems with US temperature data used for climate modeling. One of these people is Steve McIntyre, who operates the site climateaudit.org. While inspecting historical temperature graphs, he noticed a strange discontinuity, or "jump" in many locations, all occurring around the time of January, 2000.

These graphs were created by NASA's Reto Ruedy and James Hansen (who shot to fame when he accused the administration of trying to censor his views on climate change). Hansen refused to provide McKintyre with the algorithm used to generate graph data, so McKintyre reverse-engineered it. The result appeared to be a Y2K bug in the handling of the raw data.

McKintyre notified the pair of the bug; Ruedy replied and acknowledged the problem as an "oversight" that would be fixed in the next data refresh.

NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II. Anthony Watts has put the new data in chart form, along with a more detailed summary of the events.
1934, hmmm? The photo above shows the disastrous result of that climate change, and the ironic destruction of one of the automobiles that must have caused it. Or... was it the fault of the horse-drawn carriage? Horses, you know, are major pollution sources.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hopper: New York Movie 1939

Paul Greenberg reviews an exhibition of Edward Hopper's work at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. There are some fine desktop wallpapers available at the museum's web site.

Separation of Powers

Article I, Section 6:
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
The Wall Street Journal:
So it's notable that the D.C. Circuit found that the Justice Department's raid on Mr. Jefferson's Capitol Hill office violated the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause. The decision stopped short of requiring the FBI to return all the documents seized in the raid, as Mr. Jefferson had sought. But it did recognize that the executive branch could not "compel disclosure" of privileged legislative-branch materials, even when backed by a search warrant from the judicial branch of government. The Speech or Debate Clause includes a "non-disclosure privilege," the court said, which is intended to protect the confidentiality of legislative deliberations.
The editors concur in that decision.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In Need of Transport

The Mail Tribune:
A Medford man is in jail on a first-degree arson charge after a fire gutted his rental home on Beatty Street early Tuesday....

Farrow was convicted of possession of methamphetamine, resisting arrest and criminal mischief in 2005. Also that year, Medford attorney Donald Denman was appointed Farrow's guardian and conservator to look after his personal and financial affairs. Denman said Farrow had mental health issues that made him unable to handle such decisions himself.

"I pay his rent every month," Denman said. "He had a nice, big house."
I doubt very much that Mr. Denman pays Mr. Farrow's rent out of his own pocket. Most likely it is the taxpayers that subsidize this pond scum. Take a good look, kids. This is where the money that could have been your college fund is going.

Laboratories Of Failure

John Stossel says we need Wisconsin:
Wisconsin's Capital Times reports that "two-thirds of Wisconsin residents support the Democratic plan — even when presented with opponents' arguments that it would be a 'job killer' that could lead to higher taxes.... Said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, one of the plan's sponsors, 'Everything we have heard [against the plan], we put in the poll. And it still comes back at 67 percent approval.'"

That's why America needs "Healthy Wisconsin." The fall of the Soviet Union deprived us of the biggest example of how socialism works. We need laboratories of failure to demonstrate what socialism is like. All we have now is Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, the U.S. Post Office, and state motor-vehicle departments.

It's not enough. Wisconsin can show the other 49 states what "universal" coverage is like.

I feel bad for the people in Wisconsin. They already suffer from little job creation, and the Packers aren't winning, but it's better to experiment with one state than all of America.

Monday, August 06, 2007

6 August 1945

If they do not not accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth.

—President Harry S. Truman

Consumer Report

Lileks hates printers. All of them.
Even the new one. It's an HP. It's also a scanner and a copier and MP3 player and dog waxer and has slots for 48 different media, plus a color screen and sixteen useless buttons I will never press. One of them automatically fixes your pictures. Gosh! Let the printer recalibrate my snapshot's colors for me? Why, who could sa no? Total cost, after rebate: free. Which means that if I throw it out after the ink goes dry, it will have cost me nothing. And I'm already tempted.
I know the feeling. HP makes pretty good hardware. Their software on the other hand, as the young people say, draws. Or inhales. Something like that. Anyway, it's very, very bad. I personally will never buy another one of their cameras or their computers. I may buy another printer—when this one runs out of ink—but I will install the bare minimum of softare, the drivers, and leave the rest of it on the CD in a file cabinet where it can't do any harm.

Be Very Careful

WILMETTE, IL—The life of recent college graduate Jeremy Fahey was forever changed earlier this month when the once outgoing and carefree student succumbed to a job offer at a local insurance claims firm, an unforeseen and tragic event that will most likely keep him confined to an office chair for the rest of his life.
Just because it's satire doesn't mean it isn't real.

Warming Up On His Blog

Victor Davis Hanson says it's High Noon for General Petraeus:
At the beginning of High Noon, everyone praised Marshall Kane as they did Gen Petraeus. Then as the clock ticked, they abandoned him, and hid back inside when the outlaws seemed invincible. At the end of the movie with the bad guys dead, the fickle public changed once more and cheered their Marshall on for a second time.

We the townspeople are watching Gen. Petraeus watch his various clicking clocks. It is hard to remember a senior US officer who was greeted with more acclaim than he when he took over command of the coalition in Iraq this February. Then as causalities mounted, and the insurgents kept staging bombings, his posse of supporters began to disappear and run for cover.

But if we stabilize Iraq, they will once again emerge to peep their heads out of their windows—as some already have for the moment— and praise him as another William Tecumseh Sherman or Matthew Ridgeway who by feats of arms saved both an imperiled war effort and an administration in their eleventh hour.
If VDH follows his usual pattern, the finished essay will appear on NRO this afternoon. Someone once remarked that to make a living as a writer, you had to sell everything three times. The modern method seems to be once in a blog, once in a syndicated column, and once in a collection of essays. How they manage when the first two are given away free and the third is remaindered in six months is beyond me.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Range: 510 nm

A small plane crash landed near Eagle Point.
Terry Ray Erwin, 51, left Spokane in his Piper Cherokee 180 on Friday morning. He was heading to the Medford airport, but the 50 gallons of fuel he took on was not enough to finish the trip.

"The plane sputtered and ran out of gas," Jackson County Sheriff's Lt. Pat Rowland said.

Erwin tried to land in a clearing, but ended up crashing down a hillside alongside Butte Falls Highway. The plane skidded 30 to 35 yards downhill through shrubs and small trees before coming to a stop, Rowland said.
Spokane to Medford is 388 nautical miles as the crow flies, well within the theoretical range of the Cherokee. But that range is calculated under ideal conditions— a certain combination of engine RPM, altitude, and airspeed, with the mixture properly leaned, and no headwind. It's better to calculate your actual burn per hour under actual conditions, and use that, with a healthy margin for error, on a long flight. Better yet to stop in Redmond, top off the tanks, and use the facilities. It can't be fun hitting the trees with empty tanks and a full bladder.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Home-Grown Terror

Oakland, California:
Evidence recovered during the police raid at Your Black Muslim Bakery this morning links members of the organization to the ambush killing of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, authorities said.

Officials would not say what the evidence is, but sources told the Oakland Tribune that it was a shotgun seized at the bakery that was used to kill Bailey, 57, Thursday morning in downtown Oakland....

More than 200 heavily armed police raided the San Pablo Avenue bakery before dawn Friday, recovering several guns and spent ammunition possibly linked to killings, shootings, robberies and a kidnapping, authorities said. Nearly 20 people, including organization leader Yusef Bey IV, were detained in the raid, that also included homes near the bakery in the 5800 block of San Pablo Avenue.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Twenty Years Ago In The Economist

The leader warned of returning inflation.
Nobody over the age of 25 should need to watch horror films about inflation. They can hardly fail to remember the gruesomeness of the real thing, of prices in the rich countries rising by more than 10% a year and halving the value of money in less than seven years.
It didn't happen, of course, and if The Economist were to write such an article today it would have to begin, "Nobody over the age of 45 years..."

Yet even the almost imperceptible erosion of 3% turns each generation's dime into the next generation's nickel.

In international news
The steady drip of democracy around the world continues, with a little help from the United States. After the fall of President Marcos in the Philippines, and the drama of South Korea, the Americans are beginning to lean on Panama's strongman, General "Tony" Noriega. And Haiti's caretaker dictator, Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy, installed after the fall in 1986 of the country's playboy dictator, "Baby Doc" Duvalier, is under warning to get out, if he still can.

Both President Carter and President Reagan have supported the removal of absolute rulers who profess to be America's friends. Gone are the days when Cordell Hull, President Franklin Roosevelt's long-serving secretary of state, said of Nicaragua's first President Somoza that "he may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."
And what was that, last week (plus twenty years), about America's gulf convoy protecting Kuwaiti tankers?
The mine that holed the Bridgeton on July 24th cruelly exposed America's inability to give complete protection to its reflagged tankers. American pride will be salvaged if the damaged ship, carrying about two-thirds of its normal load of 400,000 tonnes of crude oil, limps safely out of the Gulf this weekend. But even if it does, the other leg of western strategy in the region has started to wobble. The UN Security Council's unanimous call on July 20th for an end to the Gulf war is being largely ignored.
Ignored the UN? How dared they?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

35W Bridge Disaster

Minneapolis:
A bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during the early evening rush hour, sending vehicles into the Mississippi River and killing at least seven people.

The I-35W bridge, an eight-lane freeway structure near the University of Minnesota and the Metrodome, buckled at 6:05 p.m. The cause of the collapse was unknown, Minnesota State Patrol spokesman Steve Johnson said. Governor Tim Pawlenty said in a briefing that the bridge was undergoing repairs at the time.

At least seven people were killed and 38 were injured, and the death toll is expected to rise, Minneapolis Fire Chief Jim Clack told reporters.
Lileks has more.

The Wall Street Journal Sold

The Bancroft family, who have owned it for a hundred years, have sold The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The editors of the Journal have a lot to say about it.
The nastiest attacks have come from our friends on the political left. They can't decide whose views they hate most--ours, or Mr. Murdoch's. We're especially amused by those who say Mr. Murdoch might tug us to the political left. Don't count on it. More than one liberal commentator has actually rejoiced at the takeover bid, on the perverse grounds that this will ruin the Journal's news coverage, which in turn will reduce the audience for the editorial page. Don't count on that either.
Publisher L. Gordon Crovitz has a statement too.