Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Glad that's over.

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Führer Fumes

Ron Rosenbaum didn't mention this one.
It may sound like a Woody Allen scenario, but medical historians are unanimous that Adolf was the victim of uncontrollable flatulence. Spasmodic stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea, possibly the result of nervous tension, had been Hitler's curse since childhood and only grew more severe as he aged. As a stressed-out dictator, the agonizing digestive attacks would occur after most meals: Albert Speer recalled that the Führer, ashen-faced, would leap up from the dinner table and disappear to his room....

Hitler's stomach problems may even have played their part in his losing the war, thanks to this shadowy figure of Dr. Morell, an incompetent quack who took over Hitler's medical care in 1937....

For example, to combat recurrences of the volcanic stomach problems, Morell plied him with a remedy called "Dr. Köster's Anti-gas pills," which contained significant amounts of strychnine — and Hitler often took as many as 16 of the little black pills a day. The sallow skin, glaucous eyes and attention lapses noted by observers later in the war are consistent with strychnine poisoning; another ingredient in the pills, antropine, causes mood wings from euphoria to violent anger.
Tony Perrottet at The Smart Set, by way of Instapundit.

Fup. Store Cat. R.I.P.

Sad news from Powell's:
Fup, the resident cat at Powell's Technical Books, passed away on October 25. She was 19 years old....

Fup was born on or about June 30, 1988. She was adopted as a kitten by the Technical Store's first manager, so her exact birthdate is unknown and she was always quite coy about that. As for the origin of her name, legend has it that the manager's sister had a cat named Puff, so he sort of spelled that backwards. There was also a book titled Fup by Jim Dodge, published in 1983, which may have played into it as well.

When Powell's Technical Books moved to its present address in November 1990, Fup made the move as well. After clearing the building of any remaining mice, she claimed the store as her own.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Poly Sci Experiment Goes Horribly Wrong

Washnington, DC—Political scientists at the Cato Institute announced Monday that they have inadvertently synthesized a previously theoretical form of government known as megalocracy.

"We were attempting to recreate a military junta in a controlled diplomatic setting, and we applied too much external pressure," said head researcher Dr. Adam Stogsdill, a leading expert in highly reactionary ruling systems. "The resultant government has the ruthless qualities of a dictatorship combined with the class solidarity of a plutocracy—it's quite a remarkable find."

Stogsdill explained that megalocracy is extremely unstable and can only exist in idealistic conditions for a few minutes before collapsing into anarchy.
It's satire, fortunately.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Greening Greenland

Via Instapundit, a strange article in the New York Times.
When using the words "growing" in connection with Greenland in the same sentence, it is important to remember that although Greenland is the size of Europe, it has only nine conifer forests like Mr. Bjerge's, all of them cultivated. It has only 51 farms. (They are all sheep farms, although one man is trying to raise cattle. He has 22 cows.) Except for potatoes, the only vegetables most Greenlanders ever eat — to the extent that they eat vegetables at all — are imported, mostly from Denmark.

But now that the climate is warming, it is not just old trees that are growing. A Greenlandic supermarket is stocking locally grown cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage this year for the first time. Eight sheep farmers are growing potatoes commercially. Five more are experimenting with vegetables. And Kenneth Hoeg, the region's chief agriculture adviser, says he does not see why southern Greenland cannot eventually be full of vegetable farms and viable forests.
Of course, that would be absolutely horrible, wouldn't it?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jack O'Lanterns

Miyako seems to be enjoying her first Halloween—costume parties, haunted houses, corn mazes, and jack o'lanterns. She carved three today. The littlest one, on the far left, was too small for a candle.

But we want to know: Is seventeen too old for trick-or-treat?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Honor Band

Today Marielle played at Southern Oregon University with the Middle School Honor Band. Twenty schools, from Roseburg — Fremont and Jo Lane were both represented — all the way to Ashland, sent 130 students in all, the best from each school, to work for a day with the professors of SOU. They started at 8:00 in the morning, spent five hours (with breaks) rehearsing four pieces, and performed in concert at 4:00 in the afternoon.

The sound was amazing. They played no wrong notes. They played in time and in tune. They sounded, looked, and performed like professionals.

We've sat through a lot of middle school band concerts, and they're usually pretty bad — sometimes excruciatingly so. It's not very generous to say this, but it's true: if you remove the bad musicians, the ones who can't or won't learn to play their instruments, and just work with the rest, the ones who pay attention and try to do well, the result is more than a little bit better. It's ten times better.

That's the idiocy of "no child left behind." This is not Lake Wobegon, and they're not all above average. Some are pretty awful. They can't all play in honor band. Some must be left behind, if the others are to go anywhere at all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gold Beach: No on 49

Joel Summer, publisher of the Curry County Reporter:
The Curry County Reporter recommends that its readers vote "no" on Measure 49 in Oregon's Special Election.

Measure 49 is poorly drafted, incredibly complicated, ambiguous, and full of enough "trap doors" to make it a great attraction at the Fun House of your favorite amusement park. And the Measure title is so misleading that we'd be shocked if the Oregon Supreme Court doesn't toss the entire thing if it's passed.

In short, while it may be a Lawyer's Dream, don't vote for it.

Don't Try This At Home

Wait. I am home.

OK: Don't try this at your home.

Charter finally ticked me off enough that I called up Qwest and ordered DSL service. Self-install of course. The kit arrived with a "modem", an Ethernet cable, a phone cable (about twenty feet of it), and three "filters".

You have to plug a filter between the wall jack and the phone of every phone in the house, including answering machines. We have about eight. I could have called up Qwest and ordered more filters, but the whole idea of going DSL was to save money.

So I went outside to the junction box, and spliced the filters in ahead of the juction—one filter serves four phones. While I was at it, I ran a new line for the DSL modem, and spliced it ahead of the filter. I'll clean it up tomorrow, solder the connections, and replace the cover. First, though, I had to make sure the darned thing worked.

The modem worked fine so long as only my computer was connected, but when I plugged in my router, they didn't play together well. Turns out the "modem" is a router, and two DHCP servers on the same subnet means trouble. After two hours of surfing networking forums I found the answer: turn my router into a dumb switch, and let the DSL router run the show.

For $9.95 at Fry's I can buy a real switch. When I do, the old router will be up for auction, along with the cable modem. Want the whole Charter setup? Make me an offer. I'll even throw in a few Ethernet cables. I've got plenty of those.

Bandon Forecast: Beautiful

I finished the ductwork yesterday, and a good thing, too. The furnace ran all night. There was frost on the grass when I went to feed the horse this morning.

But the weather on the coast this weekend should be beautiful. I have a service that checks the feed from one of NOAA's models and sends me email alerts like this:
Weather Forecast for Bandon

Afternoon weather Saturday, October 27
Temp 63 to 68 degrees
Wind 10 mph
Mostly Sunny

Afternoon weather Sunday, October 28
Temp 64 to 68 degrees
Wind 5 to 6 mph
Mostly Sunny
It only sends mail when the forecast is good or better, and by good I mean afternoon temperatures above 65°, winds less than 15 MPH, and less than 30% overcast. That's about the best you can hope for on the Oregon coast.

A Little Realism, Please

Charles Krauthammer says well, what about Reagan?
This president, renowned for his naps, granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill. As governor of California, he signed the most liberal abortion legalization bill in America, then flip-flopped and became an abortion opponent. What did he do about it as president? Gave us Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, the two swing votes that upheld and enshrined Roe v. Wade for the last quarter-century.

The point is not to denigrate Reagan but to bring a little realism to the gauzy idol worship that fuels today's discontent. And to argue that in 2007 we have, by any reasonable historical standard, a fine Republican field: One of the great big-city mayors of the last century; a former governor of extraordinary executive talent; a war hero, highly principled and deeply schooled in national security; and a former senator with impeccable conservative credentials.

So why all the angst?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Exhale In My Direction

Hugo Restall, editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, has, in middle age, taken up smoking.
When you open a pack of Chunghwa cigarettes, you can smell the bouquet of preserved plums, and they convey a fruity flavor even when alight. If smoking puts you on the road to early death, as some spoilsports say, then Chunghwas make the journey an extremely pleasant one. I would go so far as so say that, if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being offered a last cigarette, make it a Chunghwa. This is a smoke to be savored like a vintage wine.
I've often thought that, rather than return to smoking, I'd prefer to light a little charcoal cone and sprinkle a few grains of Borkum Riff, incense-like, on it. Mmmmm. Makes the whole room smell nice.

East Oregonian: No on 49

That's the East Oregonian, out of Pendleton.
Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Commission has demonstrated very little interest in taking a serious look at exceptions that might enhance development in our region. What reason do we have to believe a new array of complex regulations will serve us any better?...

Perhaps part of the question is our inherent concern about excessive government intrusion, something Eastern Oregonians haven't historically treasured.

In retrospect, Measure 37 has had unintended consequences, but if Ballot Measure 49 represents the perfect solution, we find it difficult to understand why it passed along strict party lines or the proponents went to such lengths to craft a potentially misleading ballot title.

In the end, we prefer to fall on the side of private property rights and fair compensation. Therefore, we are recommending a no vote on Measure 49.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The San Diego Wildfires

The San Diego Union-Tribune has the best organized news on the fires, including an up-to-the-minute Google map, and... a list of burned homes and businesses, by address.

Halloween Tax Fright

James L. Gattuso:
Unless Congress intervenes, this Halloween will be an especially scary one for U.S. Internet users. At midnight on October 31, the federal ban on Internet taxes expires, loosing state and local governments to tax Internet services received by Americans. The House of Representatives last week voted to extend the tax ban another four years, but it refused to make the ban permanent.
Grover Norquist:
All eyes have now turned to the Senate, which is expected to take up the issue soon. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.-La.), caving to pressure from state and local officials who would like nothing more than to tax the Internet, used a procedural maneuver to block a vote on a permanent ban. Despite the growing support for permanence, Sen. Landrieu's efforts will most likely mean that a temporary extension of the ban is all that will be brought forward for a vote.
In the worst-case scenario they could simply let the tax ban expire. Doing nothing, of course, is what Congress does best.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NASA Image of California Wildfires

A NASA satellite has captured a remarkable new image of the wildfires raging in Southern California. At least 14 massive fires have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego.

The latest image, captured by NASA's Aqua satellite on the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 22, shows the thick, billowing smoke coming off the numerous large fires and spreading over the Pacific Ocean. Fire activity is outlined in red.

Dry, drought-stricken vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane speeds, have fueled the blazes. The National Interagency Fire Center reports that the Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through Wednesday.

The Witch Creek Fire

The San Diego Union-Tribune has a fine PDF map of the Witch Creek fire.

Three years ago, while working at Intuit in San Diego, I stayed in San Marcos, about two miles west of the present location of the Coronado Hills fire.

Two Headlines in the WSJ

AT&T reported a 41% jump in net, boosted by recent acquisitions and iPhone-driven strength in its wireless business.
Apple's profit climbed 67%, fueled by growth in its Macintosh computer business and momentum in the new iPhone.
They seem to be doing rather well by reaching out and touching someone, don't they? Especially at $400 for the headset with a two-year lock-in to the network provider.

(It's not for me, though. I'd need glasses to see the tiny screen and little fairy fingers to work the tiny buttons.)

But what caught my eye was the Apple revenue graph. A tad bit seasonal, isn't it? And getting more so.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Grants Pass: No on 49

The Daily Courier (Subscription required):
Oregon voters should make legislators rip up Measure 49, on the Nov. 6 ballot, and start over in trying to rein in potential sprawl under Measure 37.

Measure 49 is a confusing, 12-page document that raises huge hurdles for many people promised relief by Measure 37 from land-use laws or compensation for losses in property value they caused. About the only clear part of Measure 49 in the Voters' Pamphlet is the ballot title, which was carefully written by opponents of Measure 37 to sway voters to pass the proposal.

The Daily Courier editorial board strongly urges voters to reject such backroom politics and this attempt to trip up most Measure 37 claims by voting "no" on Measure 49....


Thanks to Upper Left Coast.

Reform Governor

John Fund in Opinion Journal:
When he takes office in January he will be the nation's youngest governor. But he has already held a glittering array of other positions of responsibility in his short career. As an undergraduate he worked as an intern for Rep. Jim McCrery, now the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. Then he became a Rhodes Scholar, got a master's degree, and did a stint at McKinsey & Co. Gov. Mike Foster appointed him head of the state's $4 billion health-care system at age 24. He went on to serve as director of a national commission on Medicare at 26, became president of the University of Louisiana system at 27, and a U.S. assistant secretary of health and human services at 29.
Bobby Jindal.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Suzhou by Bike

My nephew Joey lives in Suzhou, China. Today he posted an album of photos.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

More Than A Click

I'm inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa. Because all our social policies are based on the fact that their internet is the same as ours — whereas The Economist says not really.
If sub-Saharan Africa were scaled according to its available internet connectivity, it would be about the size of Ireland. Of its 48 countries, the 28 in central and eastern Africa are connected to the web by only the flimsiest of satellite technology. Apart from the occasional internet hook-up at a diamond mine or UN camp, whole regions of Congo and Sudan, sub-Saharan Africa's two largest countries, have no connection at all. Even countries like Uganda, which are go-ahead about the internet, start from a very low base. Research by Microsoft found only one in 200 Ugandans regularly uses e-mail.
We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the means which determine our capacity to do different things. The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of network connectivity are a universal heritage of humanity.

It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not rocket science. To question this is not to give in to sarcasm. This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great system administrators.

Hazzards of Living Near the Airport

View Larger Map

A small plane on a short hop to a suburban airport crashed into an apartment building Friday, killing the pilot, injuring two others in the building and leaving witnesses on the ground in shock.
More pictures here.

Hungry and Cold

Hugh Hewitt talked with Clarence Thomas.
HH: I read My Grandfather's Son two trips back and forth to Denver, Justice Thomas, and had a number of interesting reactions. But I put the book down a few times just to reflect on something. One of those is the fact, I don't know if you're the only Supreme Court justice who experienced real hunger, but I'm sure you're the only one who wrote about it. Now do you remember the fact that you had been hungry? Or do you remember what the feeling of hunger is?

CT: Oh, I remember both. You know, and it was just a brief period. It was that period in 1954 when I moved to Savannah after our house in Pin Point burned down. I moved with my mother, and my mother was doing the best she could. She was a young women in her 20's, and she had three kids and no husband, and she was working as a domestic. So we lived in this tenement, and I included a picture of the tenement as I remembered. It was a Walker Evans picture, photo, but it was exactly what I remember. And we lived in one room, and there wasn't much food there. So it was my first grade period from late 1954 through the summer of 1955. And I remember the feeling I had was that, and it was a reality, of being hungry, not knowing when I was going to eat again, and being cold, and not knowing when I was going to be warm again. And that is a feeling that to this day still haunts me somewhat.
Read the whole thing, if you have time.

Albany: No on 49

The Albany Democrat-Herald:
A misleading ballot title is only one of the problems with Ballot Measure 49. Its other shortcomings are more serious.

One is that the measure reaffirms the principle that the government is in complete charge of our land and its putative private owners may be allowed to do something only at the sufferance of lawmakers and officials in Salem.

The other is that even if officials allow owners to build some additional houses, the measure couches that permission in so many conditions and requirements, some of them vague or unspecified, that nobody can say exactly if any building will be allowed at all.

The ballot title says the measure clarifies the right to build homes. Actually, it circumscribes the right to build homes. It conditions the right to build homes. And it abridges the right to build homes. Clarifying is the one it does not do.

In their explanatory statement, the legislative authors of this measure contend that it "modifies" Measure 37. Instead, it essentially repeals Measure 37...

Friday, October 19, 2007


A few years ago, in the middle of our remodel with winter coming on, we hired some local yahoos to run some duct work for the furnace. They hung huge bloated sausages of insulated plastic duct all over the basement. It looked like zombie guts and it cost us $800. This week I replaced half of it with real duct, metal duct, done properly. Next week I will replace the other half. This winter will be our warmest yet.

Hood River: No on 49

The Hood River News:
As always, the advertising blitz is spiraling toward a climax prior to next month's vote. There are misleading musings such as, "We're going to run out of food," and "There will be 750,000 acres of parking lots," if nothing is done about Measure 37. And, there are some interesting ironies, such as lawn signs in the heart of Salem asking the question: "Pears or Pavement?" Last time we checked, Salem wasn't exactly the pear hub of Oregon. It's admirable for folks who live in inner-city Salem to look out for Hood River's interests. But the pear, apple and other agricultural interests this valley is known for have survived for many years and likely will continue to do so for many years to come — with or without Measure 37, or 49 for that matter.

Voters had the option three years ago to reclaim some of their rights as landowners by passing Measure 37. They did. Opponents feared the measure would bankrupt Oregon's governments. It hasn't.

The Border Protection Game

AVweb on the NTSB report:
On April 26, a turboprop-powered Predator B operated on a surveillance mission by U.S. Customs and Border Protection crashed in a sparsely populated residential area near Nogales, Ariz. No one on the ground was injured, but the remotely piloted 66-foot-wingspan aircraft was substantially damaged. The board found that the pilot, who was not proficient in the performance of emergency procedures, inadvertently shut off the fuel while dealing with a console "lock-up" problem, causing a total loss of engine power.
This from the report itself:
Although the aircraft control levers (flaps, condition lever, throttle, and speed lever) on PPO-1 and PPO-2 appear identical, they may have different functions depending on which console controls the UA. When PPO-1 controls the UA, movement the condition lever to the forward position opens the fuel valve to the engine; movement to the middle position closes the fuel valve to the engine, which shuts down the engine; and movement to the aft position causes the propeller to feather. When the UA is controlled by PPO-1, the condition lever at the PPO-2 console controls the camera's iris setting.
What? Only one life? What a lousy game.

A Story Unsupported By Evidence

The Wall Street Journal on the Haditha incident:
The first imperative is to understand the complex, asymmetrical combat conditions in Iraq. The Marines were (and are) facing a determined enemy who dress as civilians and use homes, schools, hospitals and mosques as their bases of operation. They try to goad killings among the civilian population because it foments domestic opposition against U.S. troops while undermining them with elite international opinion.

In this environment, accusations of U.S. atrocities against civilians occur after almost every military operation. That partly explains why the Marines did not immediately investigate the Haditha killings. They viewed some Iraqi claims as part of insurgent "information operations" and did not suspect any misconduct. That day also saw citywide violence and multiple combat actions, and the killings seemed, regrettably but realistically, routine.

Perhaps, ex post facto, the officers might have erred on the side of scrutiny, though it is more exactly the duty of commanders to report accurately up the chain of command. Aside from some glitches, such as an erroneous public affairs statement that some of the civilians had been killed by the roadside bomb, they seem to have done so. There are also accusations that the delay in the full probe compromised the case. One indication of affairs in Haditha is that the heavily guarded investigators came under a coordinated insurgent attack.

Still, negligence, if proved, does not constitute a cover-up. Even the most fault-finding Haditha inquiry, conducted by Army Major General Eldon Bargewell, rejected the idea of some upper-level conspiracy. As for the infantrymen at Haditha, Lt. Col. Ware's investigation concluded, in a representative statement, that "No trier of fact can conclude SSgt Wuterich formed the criminal intent to kill." The allegations of a deliberate massacre are entirely unfounded. They are contradicted by credible testimony, and remain a "story unsupported by evidence."

If any of the reduced cases do move to courts martial, as some likely will, they will turn on the rules of engagement. Decisions made in the heat of battle are hard to judge from the outside. At the critical moment, hesitation can result in a soldier or his unit getting killed. Thus military justice usually presumes a benefit of the doubt if decisions that were reasonable in the line of fire appear wrong in hindsight. A bad result does not imply a bad decision.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Don't Repeal Measure 37

...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The fifth amendment to the U. S. Constitution states unambiguously that when the government takes your land, it must pay you for it. Yet the State of Oregon wants to evade that obligation. Because it has no interest in acquiring the title to your land, it claims it has taken nothing when it makes new rules that deprive you of the use of it. When the State tells you that can no longer graze cattle on your land, or that you must allow the public to roam across it, or that you cannot divide your land and give it to your children, or that you can no longer build a home on it—though you could when you bought it—then the State has clearly "taken" something from you, and you have the right, under the Constitution, to just compensation.

That's what Measure 37, approved by 2 out of 3 voters in 2004, demands of the State: either compensate us for what you take, or don't take it in the first place. It's that simple.

The State didn't like that, so they concocted a new measure. Hoping to sneak it past the unsuspecting voters, they claim that Measure 49 "fixes" Measure 37. It fixes Measure 37 the way we fixed the cat. Make no mistake. Measure 49 is a repeal of Measure 37. Everything about the ballot title, handcrafted by Measure 37 opponents, is a lie.

Don't believe it. Don't fall for it.

Vote NO on Measure 49.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Sweetest Day

October 17, 1987

I, Gordon, take you, Leslie,
to be my wedded wife,
to have and to hold
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
as long as we both shall live.

October 17, 2007

The Microsofting of Google

Holman Jenkins pours a little cold water on the Google hysteria.
Microsoft continues to pour billions into Windows, adding features most users don't know exist, while spending millions of man-hours to remain "backward compatible" with thousands of aging programs and devices used by ever shrinking numbers of customers.

Google, for its part, spends billions to refine its search engine while adding acres and acres of servers to catalog the world's ever widening surplus of ever less-interesting Web pages.

Combined with DoubleClick, Google could create an ever more compendious record of what users do on the Web. But even given the declining cost of storage, would this mountain really yield commensurate value in helping the company target users with ads they might respond to? Probably not. The devil theory depends on the likely mistaken idea that collecting and storing information on Web users has increasing, rather than diminishing, returns.

The two companies are similar in another way. Like Microsoft, Google has shown a Howard Hughes-like propensity to throw money in every direction in a quest to secure its privileged existence.

In Microsoft's case, think Xbox, the Zune music player, MSNBC, the MSN Internet service, as well as countless startup acquisitions that disappeared into the Redmond maw never to be heard from again. Lately Microsoft has decided the Web business of the future is advertising. Hence the $6 billion aQuantive acquisition.

Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion and claims one day it will make money from advertising, but for now it bears the rapidly increasing cost of storing and serving billions of videos most of which are watched by nobody. Google has courted similar unrequited expenses to bring users free business software, email, WiFi, a forthcoming telephone, a bruited national wireless network, all in theory to be supported by ad revenues.

A law of nature that leads to fruitless spending? No, a law of corporate governance. With founders entrenched in a controlling position, such companies don't see their luck for what it is and channel their winnings to shareholders. Instead they squander their abnormal returns hoping to make lightning strike again, and end up with a collection of low- or no-return businesses to show for their trouble.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cold Relish

Mom made a kind of relish that she always served with roast beef. I've never been able to find anything like it in any store. It doesn't have a name. Grandma just called it "cold relish." I got the recipe from Mom last week and made some on Sunday. It's just great.
Cold Relish
One medium head cabbage
4 large carrots
4 red and green peppers
6 medium onions
Chop or grind everything.
Add ½ C salt. Let stand 2 hours or overnight.
Drain liquid.
Add 1½ pints vinegar
3 C sugar
½ t celery seed
½ t mustard seed
Seal cold in small jars. Makes 10 pints.
Mom says plain old white vinegar's just fine, but I used apple cider vinegar, in which case you should use a little less sugar. Also, you can add more celery and mustard seed. I used ½ tablespoon instead of teaspoon. You don't cook anything, but you can boil the lids to get a better seal if you want.

Editor Sues For CCW List

They are going ahead.
The Mail Tribune filed suit Friday against Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters, seeking a list of concealed handgun licenses as part of an effort to count how many license holders are teachers.

The question of teachers' rights as license holders to bring guns to schools and how that affects school security are at the center of Mail Tribune reports on a lawsuit between the Medford School District and Shirley Katz, an English teacher at South Medford High School.

Winters, who as sheriff is in charge of the county's concealed hand gun licenses under state law, denied the newspaper's written request for the list, saying the information should be kept private....

"I don't believe it's anyone's business who possesses a concealed handgun license," Winters said.
Mail Tribune editor Bob Hunter says he does not plan to publish the list. He's just curious how many teachers are on it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stuck On Stupid?

The editor of the local fishwrap, Bob Hunter, doesn't know what to think.

A local teacher, no longer anonymous after a national AP story, wanted to carry a pistol to school to protect herself. Mr. Hunter didn't know if that was a good idea.

An unsigned editorial in the September 12 Mail Tribune — "Gun loophole should be closed" — took every possible side of the issue, although the headline pretty much trumped it.

The teacher filed a lawsuit under the name "Jane Doe". Mr. Hunter wondered if the Mail Tribune should publish her name or not.

And then tonight, in a late news update, the paper announced
Paper demands public records
October 15, 2007

The Mail Tribune has asked the Jackson County Sheriff's Department to provide a list of concealed weapon permit holders, and is taking the issue to court. Read about the case in Tuesday's paper.
The Roanoke Times of Virginia has already been over this ground, and ended up apologizing for its ill-considered decision to publish the names of local CCW permit holders.

Mr. Hunter claims to be puzzled that some of his readers think him liberal, although it's clear from his writing that he considers "pro-gun folks" to be on the other side. Will he step in it tomorrow? Will he publish names?

We will wait and see.

The Death of the Hired Man

From time to time, particularly in the fall, after the last day of summer-like weather, when the rains begin and the air turns cold with a certainty, and daylight hours begin their steep descent into winter darkness, we ought to re-read, and take our time about it, The Death of the Hired Man, by Robert Frost.

Go ahead. This blog will be here when you get back.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Burmese Slide Show

More and more of The Wall Street Journal's content is becoming free online. This slide show from Burma is accompanied by a feature article. Interesting reading if you have a leisurely Saturday morning.

(Unfortunately I don't.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Informational Cascades

John Tierney introduces a new idea (actually an old idea I hadn't heard of before):
The belief that low-fat diets prolong your life is one example of a cascade. The crusade against global warming is another — which is not to say that global warming isn't real. Cascades can be based on correct beliefs as well as mistaken ones. The point is that large groups of people can reach a "consensus" without most of them really understanding the issue: Once a critical mass of people starts a trend, the rest make the rational decision to go along because they figure the trend-setters can't all be wrong. The danger is that you end up with the blind leading the blind, as the economists Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, Ivo Welch wrote in their seminal paper on informational cascades.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pricing The Right to Build

Virginia Postrel in The Atlantic (subscription; sorry):
Consider two ways of computing the price of a quarter acre of land. You can compare the value of a house on a quarter acre with that of a similar house on a half acre. Or you can take the price of a house on a quarter acre and subtract the cost of the house itself—the price of construction. Either way, you get the value of an empty quarter acre. The two numbers should be roughly the same. But they aren't. The second one is always bigger, because it includes not just the property but the right to build. Expanding your quarter-acre lot to a half acre doesn't give you permission to add a second house.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Blogging Will Be Light... non-existant this week.

I'm starting a new contract at Symantec in Springfield. I haven't time to mess around on the Internet during the day, and at night I have only a borrowed computer with a painfully slow dial-up connection.

I can type just as fast as always, but when I hit the "Publish Post" button each packet must be carefully transcribed by aged monks onto cigarette paper, attached with tiny bands to the feet of carrier pigeons, collected and collated at the other end by the bird-man of the ISP, and then re-typed on an ancient teletype terminal connected by rubber belts to my server.

It's slow because it's complicated because it's slow. If there's any news to be had, I'll probably hear it on the radio first. If it's commentary you want, try Paul Harvey.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And Rumours of Wars

Be ye not troubled:
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that President Bush's White House national security council is discussing instead a plan to launch pinpoint attacks on bases operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force, blamed for training Iraqi militants.

Pentagon officials have revealed that President Bush won an understanding with Gordon Brown in July that Britain would support air strikes if they could be justified as a counter-terrorist operation.

Since then discussions about what Britain might contribute militarily, to combat Iranian retaliation that would follow US air strikes, have been held between ministers and officials in the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence.
For such things must needs be.

Free Good Karma Points

Tam's got it about right:
...if the Shrub came on TeeVee tomorrow and said, "You know, we've heard the protesters and have decided to free Burma. The airstrikes start in 15 minutes." the protesters would have been all aghast and saying "But we didn't really mean it!"

In their world, you "free" something by carrying a sign and thinking happy thoughts, not by risking your life in fighting oppression. Soon enough, "Free Burma" will be like "Free Tibet", a way to put some content-free good karma points on the bumper of your Volvo.
This blog supports wars of liberation. And it ain't no stinkin' Volvo. (It's a Beamer, man.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Walk in the Woods

At 5:15 this morning I left the house, drove south to the Ashland exit, past Emigrant Lake, and turned on to Tyler Creek road. Just after six I reached Ed's house. We had a cup of coffee and went over our plans. We'd go back down the road two miles, turn up Buckhorn Springs road, and leave my car there. Then we'd go back up Tyler Creek, turn up Baldy Creek road a mile or so, park there, and start our hunt. One and a half miles, all down hill, through oaks, pines, firs, buck brush, and meadow. The land was lousy with deer, and we hoped to see some.

Dawn's rosy fingers streaked the eastern sky as we parked the truck, strapped on our packs, and picked up our rifles. Ed chambered a round. I did the same.

"Safety on?" he asked. Yes. He's the expert; I'm his student. When we reached the meadow he worked his way to the right and I went to the left. I followed a fence line. On the other side cattle stamped noisily, clanking their cowbells. They didn't like me herding them. The jays didn't like us either, and they let whole forest know it. I waited for things to quiet down.

Some time later we entered a wooded area and I stopped to scan with my binoculars. I focused on a doe staring back at me, more curious than alarmed. Then, almost noiselessly, she bounded away, and another followed. I glanced over at Ed, fifty yards to my right. He was watching them too. In the next clearing we met to compare notes. I'd seen only two, but he'd seen five. Ed's like that. His eyes are trained.

The last half mile was steep and brushy. I gave up trying to be quiet. We reached my car about ten o'clock, and drove back up the road to retrieve Ed's truck.

"Ever day hunting is like that," Ed said. "A beautiful walk through the woods. If you get a deer, that's a bonus, but I love just being out there."

I have to agree. But I'd sure like to get my bonus this year.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Now the Good News

World-wide illiteracy rates have fallen by half since 1970 and now stand at an all-time low of 18%. More people live in free countries than ever before. The average human being today will live 50% longer in 2025 than one born in 1955.
Ah, who wants to hear that junk?

Nobody, says Stephen Moore.

Words Of The Day

Philip Delves Broughton has more on the abuse of Buddhism in Burma.
The military could have risked closing down the monasteries altogether, but not only are the generals frightened and superstitious, but they also use certain elements of Buddhist philosophy to justify and strengthen their position. One is "samsara," a complex idea involving the interplay of the mind and physical matter and the cycles of existence; it has come to mean a view of life as fleeting and thus not worth complaining about. Everything is impermanent and life is hard, so feeling powerless is not a consequence of a political situation, which can be changed, but an existential fact.

Another element abused by the military is "dana," the act of giving without expecting a reward. When accused of using forced labor to build infrastructure and pagodas, the generals have said the unpaid workers are simply practicing dana.
So. Seems I practice dana every April 15th. It's part of my samsara.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free Burma!

Free Burma!I'm glad it's not "Myanmar" anymore. I hated that name.

P.S. Daniel Henninger has more to say about Burma and democracy at Opinion Journal.

Mite Fright

Introducing the winner of the 1994 Ig Nobel Prize in the field of entomology, Dr. Robert Lopez, human guinea pig.
A search of the medical literature turned up nothing about otodectes cynotis infestation in human beings. So, wrote Lopez, "I decided to be a human guinea pig." He used a cotton-tipped swab to transfer ear mites from a cat into his left ear. "Immediately, I heard scratching sounds, then moving sounds, as the mites began to explore my ear canal. Itching sensations then started, and all three sensations merged into a weird cacophony of sound and pain that intensified from that moment, on and on ...

"At first, I thought this wouldn't, and couldn't, last very long. However, as the day and evening wore on, I began to worry. The pruritus was increasing. The sounds in my ear (fortunately, I had chosen only one ear) were becoming louder as the mites travelled deeper toward my eardrum."
The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony begins tonight at 7:30 Eastern time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Fifth and Sixth Horses

Hi, fellas. Mind if we tag along?

The genius, once again, of Michael Ramirez.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

President Thompson

Get used to the sound of it.

J. Peter Mulhern explains why Fred Dalton Thompson will win the primaries, the nomination, and the presidency. It certainly sounds plausible. I hope he's right.

Via Instapundit, who reads more before breakfast than I do all day.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Shakespeare Under the Nimbostratus

Leslie and I got comp tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of Romeo and Juliet on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage, in the pouring rain. We fortunately had seats in the balcony, under the roof, but two-thirds of the audience, and all of the actors, got thoroughly soaked.

This year's costumes were a more than usually oddball mix of Elizabethan, school uniforms, blue jeans, and leather jackets, supplemented by the occasional rain poncho. I'm always reminded, when I see the obligatory weirdness of modern Shakespeare, of this article from The Onion.
Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended

MORRISTOWN, NJ—In an innovative, tradition-defying rethinking of one of the greatest comedies in the English language, Morristown Community Players director Kevin Hiles announced Monday his bold intention to set his theater's production of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in 16th-century Venice.
Wouldn't that be nice, just for a change?