Sunday, September 30, 2007

What Happened?

Top Ramen

It's not just a cheap snack.
Ramen was first introduced to Japan in the late 19th century by Chinese merchants who served Chinese-style noodles at restaurants in the port city of Yokohama. Over the years, the dish was adapted to meet Japanese taste buds, and spread to every corner of the nation with regional variations.

In recent years, a new generation of chefs have put their own unique twists on the dish, like a version called tsuke-men, where noodles and soup for dipping are served separately. Some chefs combine ramen and Italian food, serving noodles in tomato-based soup or in cream sauce. Mr. Orkin is testing out a summer tsuke-men with spicy cold soup inspired by gazpacho.

Famous chefs and critics appear often on television shows and magazines. One chef, Minoru Sano, is known as the Ramen Fiend because of a permanent frown and signs in his restaurants that declare an absolute ban on smoking, cellphones and talking. Hideyuki Ishigami, a popular critic, is said to have a "god's palate" for his unrivaled ability to discover great ramen shops.
From The Wall Street Journal. Story includes recipes!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Remington Country?

Actually that's the advertising slogan for a whole line of desktop wallpaper from Remington. Their photos are better than mine.

But I was out there this morning, prowling around the foot of Pilot Rock, looking for the elusive buck. Me and everybody else and his kid brother too. I wonder if it's quieter on a week day.

Whitworth and Gromulak

Sandy Whitworth questioned the visitor:
Your Excellency, recent security camera evidence suggest that R'Qqharbi raiders were behind the rash of propane and fertilizer thefts at Farm and Fleet, as well as the abduction of several plump Collegeburg women from Jo-Ann fabrics. You have flaunted your treaties with the county health department and area livestock farmers. Strong fecal evidence also suggests your forces are responsible for the repeated attacks on the Alpha Epsilon Pi house, whose destruction you have repeatedly called for. Some believe that you were also responsible for the 2005 explosion of Baxter Hall.

Mr. Gromulak, I'm afraid a sober assessment of this evidence leads to the conclusion that you are scarcely better than Chief Warren. My question to you: how do you respond to these criticisms, and how can we, as a community of scholars and academics, promote better understanding between our two societies?

I await your answers, but I doubt you have the intellectual honesty to respond.
The visitor impaled him.

(It's almost like real news.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Appeal to Reason

Glen Whitman, professor of economics at California State University, writes about the hazards of the individual health care mandate.
Effective health care reform would involve making customers more cost-conscious. The individual mandate, sadly, will tend to shield customers from costs and impede innovations that could push costs down. Rising insurance premiums, as a result of a growing mandated benefits package, will fuel greater public dissatisfaction with the health care system. Further regulations that hitchhike on the individual mandate will only make matters worse. Ironically, free markets rather than government will likely catch the blame, thus fueling demand for more intrusive interventions into the health care market.

A better approach to health reform would focus on removing, or mitigating the effect of, existing mandates that drive up insurance premiums. States that genuinely want to help the uninsured ought to repeal some or all of their mandated benefit laws...
Repeal bad laws? That'll be the day.

I haven't paid much attention to the latest HillaryCare kefuffle. It ain't gonna happen. But if it is possible to sway its proponents with an appeal to reason, this is the article that might do it. If only they would read it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Contract, New Town

The job search was horribly brief this time. Don't let anyone tell you the economy isn't booming. My next adventure will be with Symantec in Springfield, Oregon. Unfortunately it's not a telecommuting job, at least not to start. They want my physical presence in a fabric-covered box five days a week.
Bleg verb. To beg for favors through your blog.
If you know of anyone in the Eugene-Springfield area who has a room (or large closet) they could let me occupy four nights a week, I would much appreciate it. I don't need much — a place to spread my sleeping bag, a toilet in the wee hours of the night, and a shower in the morning. Wireless internet would be a plus. It would be worth — easily — a hundred dollars a week to me. Supplement your income; take a boarder!

Missiles Not Included

For sale on eBay: a Titan missile base.
Above ground is the original 40 X 100 shop building, two concrete targeting structures, two manufactured homes, two 8 X 8 X 40 storage containers, and the silo tops of the three missile silos, two antenna silos, one entry portal and a few other misc structures.

Below ground is a huge complex consisting of 16 buildings and thousands of feet of connecting tunnels....
Via Boing Boing.

Improbable Research

From the Abstract:
Game theory provides a solution to the problem of finding a set of optimal decision-making strategies in a group. However, people seldom play such optimal strategies and adjust their strategies based on their experience. Accordingly, many theories postulate a set of variables related to the probabilities of choosing various strategies and describe how such variables are dynamically updated. In reinforcement learning, these value functions are updated based on the outcome of the player's choice, whereas belief learning allows the value functions of all available choices to be updated according to the choices of other players. We investigated the nature of learning process in monkeys playing a competitive game with ternary choices, using a rock—paper—scissors game....
The title of the paper?
Learning and decision making in monkeys during a rock—paper—scissors game
Daeyeol Lee, Benjamin P. McGreevy, Dominic J. Barraclough
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester
Via Improbable Research.

Article in the Guardian.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Second World War

Victor Davis Hanson on the latest from PBS:
I've been watching the Ken Burns' film each night, and generally think, as a sociological exploration of race, class, and gender issues during wartime, it is excellent. But given the vast expanse of World War II, there is almost nothing here about questions strategic or even tactical. So the viewer will not learn so much about American plans of winning the war, or our generals, good and bad, or the grand strategy of our war-planners, or the relative efficacy of our weaponry....

I still think in contrast the 1973 British classic and 23-episode "The World at War" remains unrivaled.
Now on DVD.

Also on VDH's recommendation, I'm now reading The Second World War by John Keegan. I'm about a quarter of the way through, and so far it's excellent.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

He May Not Have One

Bret Stephens imagines Hitler at Columbia in 1939:
Let's assume, however, that Hitler had used the occasion of his speech not just to dissimulate but to really air his mind, to give vent not just to Germany's historical grievances but to his own apocalyptic ambitions. In "Terror and Liberalism" (2003), Columbia alumnus Paul Berman observes the way in which prewar French socialists--keenly aware and totally opposed to Hitler's platform--nonetheless took the view that Germany had to be accommodated and that the real threat to peace came from their own "warmongers and arms manufacturers." This notion, Mr. Berman writes, rested in turn on a philosophical belief that "even the enemies of reason cannot be the enemies of reason. Even the unreasonable must be, in some fashion, reasonable."

So there is Adolf Hitler on our imagined stage, ranting about the soon-to-be-fulfilled destiny of the Aryan race. And his audience of outstanding Columbia men are mostly appalled, as they should be. But they are also engrossed, and curious, and if it occurs to some of them that the man should be arrested on the spot they don't say it. Nor do they ask, "How will we come to terms with his world?" Instead, they wonder how to make him see "reason," as reasonable people do.
"Never appeal to a man's better nature," Robert Heinlein once warned. "He may not have one."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bollinger and Ahmadinejad

Lee C. Bollinger questioned the visitor:
Let's, then, be clear at the beginning. Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.

And so I ask you:

Why have women, members of the Baha'i faith, homosexuals, and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?...

Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?...

In a December 2005 state television broadcast, you described the Holocaust as a "fabricated" "legend." One year later, you held a two-day conference of Holocaust deniers.

For the illiterate and ignorant, this is dangerous propaganda. When you come to a place like this, this makes you, quite simply, ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated....

Will you cease this outrage?...

Twelve days ago, you said that the state of Israel "cannot continue its life." This echoed a number of inflammatory statements you have delivered in the last two years, including in October 2005 when you said that Israel should be "wiped off the map."...

Do you plan on wiping us off the map, too?...

Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and civil society in the region?...

Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi'a militia targeting and killing U.S. troops?...

Why does your country continue to refuse to adhere to international standards for nuclear weapons verification in defiance of agreements that you have made with the UN nuclear agency? And why have you chosen to make the people of your country vulnerable to the effects of international economic sanctions and threaten to engulf the world with nuclear annihilation?...

Frankly, and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions.
The visitor did not.

Understanding Human History

John Derbyshire reviews a new book by Michael H. Hart:
Different populations, descended from different small founder groups, and evolved through hundreds of generations in different homelands under different selection pressures, emerged from those homelands at the end of the Neolithic and began these historic exchanges — began to trade, fight, conquer, enslave, settle, convert. If it is the case that intelligence — the ability to comprehend and manipulate the world, including the social world (which includes the military and political worlds) — if it is the case that intelligence is differently distributed in different populations, that fact must have had great consequences for history. And if not, then obviously, not.
It was Derb's review of Before the Dawn that prompted me to buy it, and it was, in fact, the finest book I read all year. On his recommedation alone I have already ordered Understanding Human History.

Nice Headline

Thanks to Drudge for spotting this one.

John Bolton on the Korean-Syrian Axis

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton talked with Paul Gigot this weekend. Transcript here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Healthcare Death Spiral

Steyn whines but Max Borders analyzes the problem.

Consider three major health insurance pathologies, he says:
1. Border Disorder

Ever tried to buy insurance in another state? It may be cheaper to do so, but you aren't allowed....

2. Employer's Choice Problem

Question: You can get insurance through your employer and get big tax benefits from doing so; or, you can buy it on the individual market and get no tax benefits at all—which do you choose?...

3. The Expense Account Effect

When you dine out on the company card, do you order the $9 chicken with rice pilaf or the $19 filet mignon? If someone else is paying, you'd be silly not to take the steak....

These three problems introduce, and compound, a related problem: the healthcare death spiral. "Invincibles" — younger people who think they won't get hurt — are increasingly likely to choose eating out and night clubbing over health insurance as rates go up. But having younger, healthier people in the risk pool means rates stay lower for everyone. Still, as premiums continue to rise, they leave the pool. But because older, sicker people remain, premiums keep rising, resulting in more young people opting out. The death spiral has started....
Doctor Borders goes on to prescribe a treatment.

That Fiendish Laugh

None of the Above

Tam says:
Don't ask me your tired "Would you rather see Hillary as president instead of Rudy?" questions because the answer is that between the two, you might as well flip a coin from where I sit. This ain't a high school football game, sport; I'm not waving pompons for the guy just 'cause he's wearing the jersey.
Alan concurs:
Let me tell you something. If it turns out to be Guiliani against Clinton MkII in the general election, I hope Hillary wins. If she does, it's going to be terrible. It's also going to wake a lot of people up. It's going to be either the worst or the best thing that's happened to this country in a long time.
Notice he says "if it turns out." There's still hope.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

View From Pilot Rock

Last night I did a strange thing. I climbed to the top of Pilot Rock in time to view the sunset, and then I stayed the night.

I had a mummy bag, a sleeping pad, and a very small tent. There was one patch of level dirt about 3' by 4', about half what my tent requires, between the rocks. I crawled in the bag with all my clothes on. After the wind died down about 3:00 AM I slept rather comfortably for a couple of hours.

Not A Bad Landing

A good landing is one you walk away from; a really good landing you can use the plane again.
An engine failure caused a Salina man to make a crash landing Thursday morning in a Jefferson County cornfield about 4 miles northwest of the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

He walked away unhurt.
Judging from the photo, that was a really good landing. (Nose-over is to be expected in a freshly plowed field.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Shorter OED

Edward Short reviews the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
Overseen by editor-at-large Jesse Sheidlower, the 6th edition manages to abridge the current 20-volume OED into 500,000 definitions covering every word or phrase in use since 1700, amounting to a full third of the OED. Putting aside any other reservations, the current edition must be accounted a work of heroic distillation.
This would make a lovely Christmas gift for a word lover.

(Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

Microsoft's Greatest Hit of 2007

Michael Swaine wonders.
Could Microsoft's definitive Greatest Hit of 2007 be pirated Microsoft software in China? I'm having trouble following the logic here, but in a recent article in Fortune, David Kirkpatrick explains that, after 15 years and billions of dollars wasted, Microsoft has finally figured out how to work with the Chinese. They hired Henry Kissinger to advise them and apparently his advice was: Let them pirate your software. They'll love you for it.

Gates saw the light. Kirkpatrick: "Gates argued...that while it was terrible that people in China pirated so much software, if they were going to pirate anybody's software he'd certainly prefer it be Microsoft's." Microsoft, you see, is so big that they really can lose money on every copy of Windows or Office and make it up in volume.

Lay Off

Paul Johnson:
Creative spirits do not need favoritism. They instinctively recoil from special treatment. They can prosper without subsidies or tax relief. All they ask for is the huge, echoing silence of government inactivity. They long for a pristine world in which laws and lawyers do not trip them at every step, where they can work quietly, industriously and productively by themselves. I believe such creative individuals are more numerous than ever and that the opportunities for them to enrich themselves and improve life for all are greater now than at any other time. They ask only for a candidate and future President who will use five vital words: "I promise to lay off."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Phoenix Surcharge Bites It

During the presidential campaign of 2000 perennial candidate Dave Barry had a tax reform plan which he touted something like this: "Everyone will pay less and you, personally, will pay nothing at all."

That's a popular tax. By definition, the most popular tax is the one the other guy pays. The second most popular tax is the one that everyone pays, but you, personally, pay less. The least popular tax is one that everyone pays and everyone pays the same amount. Margaret Thatcher committed political suicide when she proposed that sort of tax.

Under the original Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, that was the only kind of tax allowed. Marx and Engels, however, favored a progressive or graduated income tax, and so the Constitution was amended to accommodate their wishes.

Nowdays, of course, it is generally accepted that governments of every sort can tax anything they want. If it moves, tax it, as Reagan once said. They don't always get by with it, though. Greg called my attention today to an item in the Mail Tribune on the recent special election in Phoenix, Oregon.
Phoenix voters shoot down monthly utility fee
Seems the city of Phoenix, Oregon, having blown their budget on a bunch of non-essential crap, found themselves $700,000 in the hole. Their solution was to tack a $20 surcharge on everyone's water bill. The citizens filed a referendum to repeal it.
By early counts, some 896 of 1,114 ballots cast approved repealing the surcharge, while 218 agreed to keep the measure in place.
Four-to-one against. That's an unpopular tax.

Ann Coulter's Dirty Little Secrets

She's a lawyer:
In college, my roommate was in the chemistry lab Friday and Saturday nights while I was dancing on tables at the Chapter House. A few years later, she was working 20-hour days as a resident at Mount Sinai doing liver transplants while I was frequenting popular Upper East Side drinking establishments. She was going to Johns Hopkins for yet more medical training while I was skiing and following the Grateful Dead. Now she vacations in places like Rwanda and Darfur with Doctors Without Borders while I'm going to Paris.

Has anyone else noticed the nonexistence of a charitable organization known as "Lawyers Without Borders"?

Smartie Pants

I took the civics quiz The Corner's buzzing about.
You answered 59 out of 60 correctly — 98.33 %
Woo hoo! That's better than Jonah did, but we both got the bonds question wrong. Bonds always confused me.

What I want to know is: If I'm so smart, why ain't I rich?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tungurahua Erupts

Not news—this was taken last year. But it's today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, and it makes for mighty fine wallpaper (click to enlarge).

A Jules Verne Revival

John J. Miller in The Wall Street Journal:
Before his career took off like a rocket to the moon, Jules Verne was a stockbroker -- and he is said to have made a boast to his pals at the Paris exchange: "I've just written a new kind of novel, and if it succeeds it will be an unexplored gold mine. In that case, I'll write more such books while you're buying your stock. And I think I'll earn the most money!"

Verne's friends may have laughed, but they would have been wise to invest in the budding author. His first book, "Five Weeks in a Balloon," was published in 1863, and it provided a taste of what would come. Within a decade, Verne wrote several of the world's greatest tales of scientific adventure: "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," and one of the best-selling novels of all time, "Around the World in 80 Days."
I was a lucky fourth-grader. My school library had all those books.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Amendment IX

The ennumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Gee, I wonder... Does that include the right not to buy health insurance?

Public Art

Dave Barry explains that big ugly wad of metal outside the parking garage. was Public Art, defined as "art that is purchased by experts who are not spending their own personal money." The money, of course, comes from the taxpayers, who are not allowed to spend this money themselves because 1) they probably wouldn't buy art, and 2) if they did, there is no way they would buy the crashed-spaceship style of art that the experts usually select for them.

The Miami wad is in fact a sculpture by the famous Italian sculptor Pomodoro. (Like most famous artists, he is not referred to by his first name, although I like to think it's "Bud.") This sculpture cost the taxpayers $80,000, which makes it an important work of art. In dollar terms, it is 3,200 times as important as a painting of dogs playing poker...

Alert reader Charles Gaston writes to remind me that Dave Barry had little idea when he wrote that column back in 1997 that his math would be spectacularly wrong in 2005:
New York: Two "Dogs Playing Poker" paintings cleaned house at Doyle New York's annual Dogs in Art Auction, fetching a staggering $590,400, the auction house said.
Holy moley!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mohammed Cartoon Challenge

Taking up the cudgel (or in this case the pen), cartoonist Chris Muir draws the prophet's head on a pig's body.

Matthew 5:38-48 might be good advice in this case, if anyone bothered reading it.

After a pause: What? Can't do it? Can't square Matthew 5:38 with your current anti-terrorism policies?

Are you thinking that "resist not evil" might be a suitable tactic for a half-crazed Jewish bachelor prophet with a death wish but it just doesn't cut it for a man with wife and kids?

Just how do you get from "love your enemies" to jus ad bellum? Was He just speaking figuratively? A little post-millennial hypothesis? A little this would be nice, really, but let's be practical?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sybil of No. 10 Downing Street

London (Reuters):

Nearly a decade since Humphrey was shown the door to No. 10 Downing Street, the prime ministerial house has a cat in residence again.

Sybil, named after Basil's wife in the classic 1970s sitcom "Fawlty Towers," has moved down from Edinburgh with Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and his family who are living in the three-bedroomed flat above No. 10.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his wife Sarah and their two sons live in the bigger flat at Number 11 Downing Street, traditionally the home of the Chancellor.

My Kind of Campaign

Mainichi Daily News, Japan:
Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Taro Aso officially filed their candidacies in the LDP leadership race on Saturday.

Fukuda, 71, who won the backing of eight of the nine intraparty factions, is expected to score a landslide victory in the race....

The election to pick the successor of outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to be held on Sept. 23.
File on Saturday; election a week later on Sunday. Sometimes I wish we had a parliamentary system.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hunter's Moon

Hunters feel certain that the moon affects the behavior of deer but they're less certain as to how and why. There is general agreement that deer are more active on nights of a full moon and less active during nights with no moon, but theories as to why range from the dubious to the outlandish. It seems to me that neither astrology nor tidal forces are required, and the simplest explanation might suffice. Deer enjoy the cover of night but they don't like stumbling around in the dark. A little light is better than none at all.

So of course deer are more active during moonlit nights. You and I would be too, if we had to sneak around in the dark to grab a bite to eat. Deer prefer to conduct their business when the sun is down and the moon is over their shoulder.

But we can only hunt from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. The deer may occasionally browse during the day if there was little or no moon during the night, but other than that they are most likely to be out and about at dawn or at dusk. If a full moon is high in the sky at those times it benefits the hunter in two ways: first, the deer are more likely to be active, and second, we will have more light to with which to see them.

Refer to the following table which summarizes the astronomical events during each day from midnight to midnight. Hunting season starts just after a full moon. During the first week the waning moon rises after sunset, too late to do us any good, but remains high in the sky at dawn. Morning hunting should be best.

During the second week the moon rises after midnight but sets in the afternoon, and does both later and later in the day until, on October 11, it rises after the sun in the morning and sets before it in the evening. That night there will be no moon. Expect more deer activity during the daytime hours.

During the third week the moon rises during the day and sets before midnight, growing larger with each passing day. Daytime and evening hunting should be best.

As the full moon approaches the moon rises later and later in the afternoon, and stays out longer during the night. Evening hunting will be good, but expect to see very little daytime activity. This week, however, comprises the Cascade Bull Elk season, so those of us in southern Oregon will need to cross Interstate 5 to the Coastal Buck Area to continue our deer hunting.

During the final week the moon once again rises after the sun sets and remains in the sky past dawn. Morning hunting will be best.
Fri Sep 28    SR  7:03    MS  9:31    SS 6:57    MR  7:47
Sat Sep 29 SR 7:04 MS 10:54 SS 6:55 MR 8:23
Sun Sep 30 SR 7:05 MS 12:14 SS 6:53 MR 9:07
Mon Oct 1 SR 7:06 MS 1:28 SS 6:51 MR 10:02
Tue Oct 2 SR 7:07 MS 2:31 SS 6:50 MR 11:06
Wed Oct 3 SR 7:08 MS 3:21 SS 6:48

Thu Oct 4 MR 12:16 SR 7:09 MS 4:00 SS 6:46
Fri Oct 5 MR 1:27 SR 7:11 MS 4:30 SS 6:45
Sat Oct 6 MR 2:36 SR 7:12 MS 4:54 SS 6:43
Sun Oct 7 MR 3:43 SR 7:13 MS 5:15 SS 6:41
Mon Oct 8 MR 4:47 SR 7:14 MS 5:34 SS 6:40
Tue Oct 9 MR 5:49 SR 7:15 MS 5:53 SS 6:38
Wed Oct 10 MR 6:51 SR 7:16 MS 6:11 SS 6:36

Thu Oct 11 SR 7:17 MR 7:53 MS 6:32 SS 6:35

Fri Oct 12 SR 7:18 MR 8:56 SS 6:33 MS 6:55
Sat Oct 13 SR 7:19 MR 9:59 SS 6:31 MS 7:22
Sun Oct 14 SR 7:21 MR 11:02 SS 6:30 MS 7:56
Mon Oct 15 SR 7:22 MR 12:04 SS 6:28 MS 8:37
Tue Oct 16 SR 7:23 MR 1:01 SS 6:27 MS 9:27
Wed Oct 17 SR 7:24 MR 1:51 SS 6:25 MS 10:25
Thu Oct 18 SR 7:25 MR 2:33 SS 6:24 MS 11:31
Fri Oct 19 SR 7:26 MR 3:08 SS 6:22

Sat Oct 20 MS 12:41 SR 7:28 MR 3:38 SS 6:20
Sun Oct 21 MS 1:53 SR 7:29 MR 4:04 SS 6:19
Mon Oct 22 MS 3:07 SR 7:30 MR 4:28 SS 6:18
Tue Oct 23 MS 4:22 SR 7:31 MR 4:51 SS 6:16
Wed Oct 24 MS 5:39 SR 7:32 MR 5:15 SS 6:15
Thu Oct 25 MS 6:59 SR 7:33 MR 5:43 SS 6:13

Fri Oct 26 SR 7:35 MS 8:22 SS 6:12 MR 6:16
Sat Oct 27 SR 7:36 MS 9:47 SS 6:10 MR 6:57
Sun Oct 28 SR 7:37 MS 11:07 SS 6:09 MR 7:50
Mon Oct 29 SR 7:38 MS 12:18 SS 6:08 MR 8:53
Tue Oct 30 SR 7:40 MS 1:15 SS 6:06 MR 10:04
Wed Oct 31 SR 7:41 MS 1:59 SS 6:05 MR 11:17
Thu Nov 1 SR 7:42 MS 2:32 SS 6:04

Fri Nov 2 MR 12:28 SR 7:43 MS 2:59 SS 6:03
This data was generated by Forty Below Net Works for the latitude and longitude of my area. Your times may vary slightly.

Two Die in Alsea Plane Crash

Corvallis Gazette-Times:
The pilot of a Piper Cherokee and his passenger were found dead Thursday afternoon at the site of an airplane crash west of Alsea that apparently occurred the previous day.

The names of the two men were being withheld until family members could be notified.

Many details of the accident are still unclear, Benton County Sheriff Diana Simpson said Thursday night....

The pilot was a certified flight instructor. The passenger has not been identified.

Simpson said it was likely the plane flew out of Aurora Airport near Salem. No distress call had been reported from the plane, she said.
Another detail from the AP:
The family members said they saw the plane fly over their Alsea home on Wednesday and thought they heard a crash a short time later. When the family did not hear from the pilot, they started their own search before alerting authorities.
Update from KTVZ:
Sheriff Diana Simpson says 24-year-old Duane Jasper Miller of Billings, Mont., piloted the plane that is believed to have crashed Wednesday.

Miller's passenger was 20-year-old Kyle Houghton of Lake Oswego.

Simpson says Miller was a certified flight instructor whose family lives in Alsea.

Who Won?

Kimberley A. Strassel says we won Petraeus week:
Had anyone suggested six weeks ago that the GOP would emerge from the Petraeus hearings on the political front-foot, they'd have been laughed at all the way to Anbar. There's a lesson here for Republicans, in particular those most worried about how Iraq will play in next year's elections: Good military policy is good politics.
Victor Davis Hanson's not so sure:
Here we are nearly 40 years after Tet—and from the Left instead of Gen. Waste-more-land we have Gen. Betray Us. For the Wise Men under Dean Acheson reporting to LBJ, we have the Iraq Study Group. And in the midst of a surge, a President with low polls watches presendential candidates left and right taking shots at him, and many backing away from the war they almost all once supported.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Little Pink Houses

Atlanta (Reuters):
A low-cost concept that began as an effort to provide affordable homes to victims of Hurricane Katrina is now being seized upon as an alternative for Americans looking for a vacation home or to downsize their current living space.

Out of the 2005 disaster came "The Katrina Cottage" — a small, sturdy, single-family house that is expandable and can be built in a few weeks. For many home buyers, these specifications fit like a glove.
I've been saying for years now (well, three at least) that retiring boomers aren't going to want those 3000-square-foot monsters that everybody's building now. Takes a staff of five just to keep the place clean. Mark my words: these little houses will be all the rage in the coming decades, and not just for po' people.

Lowe's has the plans.

P.S. I have to point out that this is not a new idea.

Hearts and Minds and Fuzzy Faces

Via Taranto, a story in The Sun
Around 120 members of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment were deployed to Kandahar in March to carry out ground patrols at the Nato airfield....

In an unusual move, the normally clean-shaven men were asked to grow their beards.

The RAF said it was believed to be the first time personnel have been allowed to grow beards for an operation.

Wing Commander Anthony Beasant said: "One of the elements that we established was the importance of facial hair in terms of a man's stature in society.

"It became quite clear to us that if you had facial hair and a lot of it in a particularly unkempt style then that created a far more positive initial atmosphere than if you didn't."
A particularly unkempt style, huh?

Who Edits Wikipedia?

Andrew Spencer of the Applegate Valley.
Andrew joined the Wikipedia community in October 2006. Originally "just a reader," Andrew soon began making "grammar fixes and spelling error corrections," he said.

"The main reason I decided to register with Wikipedia was so I could correct minor errors in articles," Andrew said.

Now, less than a year later, the teen has risen through the ranks to become one of Wikipedia's 1,316 administrators, he said. His position as an elevated editor was granted on July 4 by a consensus vote after peers reviewed his edits and use history, Andrew said.
Story in the Mail Tribune.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Six Rainbows

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. They say they see six rainbows, counting the reflections on the water. I think I see eight. Look closely.

Hunting al Qaeda

Michael Yon in Baqubah:
Once out, the soldiers sprinted for cover. Although the heat was extreme, it was better than what was available in the back of the Bradley where noise, darkness, and a lack of air conditioning combined with the prospect of being trapped in tangled wreckage, burning alive. But now that we were out, and finding scant cover on the garbage and metal strewn streets, I couldn't help thinking, "Mad Max might feel at home." Sniperville. It's like deer hunting where the bucks have rifles and are excellent hiders.
Via Instapundit.

Frohnmayer Joins Loony Left

The Mail Tribune:
Calling the present political parties "toxic," Frohnmayer, 65, a trial lawyer turned Oregon State University history professor, will run as a member of the newly-formed Independent Party on a platform calling for a health care plan, ending the Iraq War and having a "voter revolution" against corrupt government.

Frohnmayer also said that, regardless of the upheaval it would cause and the short time left in his term, President Bush should be impeached for failing to execute the nation's laws faithfully.
This pretty much clinches it for Gordon Smith.

Abe Quits

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has resigned after losing a vote to extend Japan's support of American anti-terrorism operations.

The Economist explains, if you're interested.

During the Eighties I managed to remember from year to year who the Prime Minister of Japan was. It was Yasuhiro Nakasone from 1982 to 1987. After that they came and went with confusing rapidity and I don't remember any of them, up until Junichiro Koizumi, who also had a bit of a run, from 2001 to 2006, long enough for me to learn to pronounce his name. Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, lasted less than a year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Last Second of the Twentieth Century

In a tiny fraction of time, more than an instant but less than a minute, a quantity, in fact, of the second order of minuteness—a second—the twentieth century anno domine came to an end, and the twenty-first began.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Jane Wyman, 1914-2007

Peggy Noonan said it best in When Character Was King:
When Janie and Ronnie married, on January 16, 1940, in Beverly Hills, he knew it was for life. He felt his life had really come together, that he was part of something and that it worked. She was a wonderful actress and just as ambitious as he and when they became a couple it enhanced them both. She was six years younger than he, but had been married before, twice. She had had a hard life: abandoned by her father when a child and later abandoned by her mother with neighbors, who brought her up. She had gone to Hollywood in her teens, had worked her way up, had learned to be wary. But from the moment she met Ronald Reagan she knew she could trust him, knew he was decent. He made her feel safe.
AP obituary here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Guinness At The Summit

Talk about product placement. Well, I was thirsty. And hungry. And tired. And nothing remedies that like a can of Guinness Draught.

Five of us climbed Mt. McLoughlin yesterday. 9495 feet. Five and one half miles from trailhead to summit, and the last mile ascends 1700 vertical feet. We weren't the youngest—there were ten-year-olds on the trail—or the oldest—one man we met descending must have been at least seventy. But I doubt that any other group had more fun.

Here's the rest of the crew: Susie, Greg, Vickie, and Arleen, doing their "first Americans to reach the summit" pose.

Applying The Scientific Method

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Beautiful Libraries

The world's most beautiful libraries. (Not like that mausoleum they built in downtown.)

Via Marginal Revolution, new to my daily rounds.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Genetic Algorithms

It's an East German jigsaw puzzle.
When the shredding machines failed and the mob was at the gates, the spooks at East Germany's State Security Service, better known as the Stasi, tried turning their files into mush by dunking them in water. But the number of bathtubs in their headquarters in Normannenstrasse was as unequal to the task as the machines had been. In the end, they resorted to tearing each page up by hand....
Leaving a puzzle to be solved by computer, of course. But these are more than just self-teaching "neural network" algorithms. They also replicate, mutate, struggle to survive, and evolve.
It [the algorithm] spawns slightly altered versions of itself that compete for computer time on the basis of their success at finding matches. The most successful are then mutated again, in a process similar to biological evolution.
Genetic algorithms were all the rage in the programmer's magazines about ten years ago, along with "fuzzy" logic and neural networks. They're no longer cutting-edge but they haven't gone away.

Small, fuzzy, neural, and genetic: meet your new lab assistant.

Zero Degree Turn

Farnaz Fassihi reports in The Wall Street Journal on another side of Iranian life we don't often hear about.
Every Monday night at 10 o'clock, Iranians by the millions tune into Channel One to watch the most expensive show ever aired on the Islamic republic's state-owned television. Its elaborate 1940s costumes and European locations are a far cry from the typical Iranian TV fare of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.

But the most surprising thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching tale of European Jews during World War II.
It seems their attitude toward Jews is more nuanced than we would imagine.

Plenty Of Time Yet

Jonah Goldberg thinks Fred's too late.
Thompson's response to the criticism is that he's in second place without raising tens or hundreds of millions of dollars as the experts said he had to. So what do they know? And, as he told Jay Leno, "I don't think people are going to say, 'You know, that guy would make a very good president, but he just didn't get in soon enough.'"

It's a good line and a good point, but it leaves out an important consideration. Politics is about seizing your moment.
No, that's journalism. Journalism is about being there first, filing your story, getting the scoop. Politics, on the other hand, takes its time. Arguments go on for decades. We've been debating Social Security for twenty years; reform will probably take twenty more. Voters won't make up their minds about the candidates for another year yet. If the parties nominate the wrong guys by rushing the process, that's their problem. In the end it's a multiple-choice test, not a research project.

This blog, for the most part, has deliberately ignored the early campaigns. Oregon's primary is still eight months away. Too late, we are told, to make any difference. Never mind that we never make any difference anyway. The general election is still more than a year away. We will go on ignoring it as long as we can.

Less than thirty years ago the parties chose their candidates at their conventions in August — August, that is, of the election year. We used to say that the campaign didn't start until after Labor Day — Labor Day, that is, of the election year.

Is Fred too late? If anything, he's been rushed into declaring too soon. I expect a laid back campaign followed by wins in Iowa and most of the South. He'll probably do alright in New Hampshire, too. It's too early to tell. Unless you're a journalist.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Mac Johnson discusses Ron Paul.
I must admit I have long had a soft spot for Representative Dr. Paul. It's a character flaw on my part. I love the human hand grenade in politics. I hate authority so much that I purposely take my prescription pills with alcohol just because that little fascist bottle has a sticker telling me not to (Live Free or Nap Deeply, I say). However, whatever soft spot I had for Paul totally hardened and became quite flaky and irritated last night. Paul's position on Iraq (and Afghanistan) is infantile. We can argue about whether the war should have been started for years to come. But it was started, and you don't get a do-over in history. You win or you lose while all the world watches. If we withdraw under fire — not just from Iraq in his plan but from all the region (an attempt to appease Al Qaeda by our withdrawal from the Arabian peninsula) — America will never recover. It will be an irreversible calamity. Every war is born of the ones that come before it. Headlong retreat from Iraq will plant the seeds of dozens of defensive wars to come.

Skipping the Stupid Debates

Mike Long on Fred Thompson:
You don't win over voters in these debates. You give political writers and professional arguers something to chew on among themselves. Senator Thompson's going on Leno to make jokes and look smooth in front of a national audience of millions while Gov. Romney, Mayor Giuliani, Sen. McCain et al are going to parse yawn-inducing policy in front of a few thousand earnest wonks from the tenth-smallest state in the union. Think about the basis on which most people vote. Who's the smart candidate here?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Put That In Your Maintenance Log

Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday.
Via Taranto.

Rondellhunden Profeten Muhammed

I don't get it. But then, I'm not Swedish, either.

Paul Marshall has more on the latest in Muslim cartoon rage.

Sometimes I wonder if they're not more put off by the a amateurish quality of the ridicule than by the ridicule itself. What if a great caricaturist like Michael Ramirez drew a picture of the prophet? Would that get the same treatment?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Derbyshire Monday

Monday came late this week, and hit with twice the force. It didn't help that the morning was dark and damp, or the that the children went off to school—something that always depresses me. Fortunately there's John Derbyshire, Mr. Grumpy himself, whose dour mood by contrast will lighten the darkest heart.

Thanks, Derb. I really needed that.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Union Peak

We got on the trail about 11:30 and four miles later got our first good view of Union Peak. From that angle it looked like a sheer rock wall — impossible to climb. But the trail went around to the left side, switched back, and then zig-zagged pretty much up the center of the photo to the top. The trail was in excellent condition, perfectly safe, strenuous but not difficult. The guidebook said nine miles round-trip, but I think it was closer to ten.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Cambridge Cowardice

Kelly Jane Torrance sums up the Alms for Jihad book burning.
Mr. Mahfouz may have won the first round, but the battle is not over. Cambridge sent a letter to about 300 libraries worldwide, asking them to remove "Alms for Jihad" from their shelves.

"They're pretty mad," says Mr. Collins of the librarians from whom he's heard. "One in Alaska said she's putting up a big exhibition of banned books."

Mr. Collins is still working with Cambridge, putting the final touches on a history of sub-Saharan Africa. He and Mr. Burr are also collaborating on another book, with the provisional title "Terrorism Internationale: The Popular Arab and Islamic Congress, 1991 and 1995." He probably won't publish that one with Cambridge. "I think this time it would be best if we got an American publisher," he says ruefully....

There's certainly a market for the title: A copy of the now-rare book sold on EBay last week for $538.
The market treats censorship as sabotage and routes around it.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cape Blanco

Leslie and I left Ashland at noon and headed for Gold Beach. About twenty miles out we could see that the marine layer had not dissipated and the chatter from a couple of ultralights circling above "where the airport's supposed to be" told us that nothing was visible through the fog. We turned north and landed at Bandon, clear and sunny and seventy degrees. Dick and Nancy Burton were there, waiting for their son who was flying in from Montague. We had never met them before but Nancy offered to drive us to Billy Smoothboar's, a restaurant just a mile away, where we had the proverbial hundred dollar hamburger, or, in my case, a Boar Burger: a half pound of burger with bacon, cheese, barbecue sauce, and onion rings. Afterward we waddled back to the plane, topped off the tanks, and flew south along the beach at about two thousand feet, circling Cape Blanco before heading home.