Thursday, January 31, 2008

Off To The Races

The Wall Street Journal:
Now we know what happens when Wall Street and the political class criticize Ben Bernanke for being "behind the curve." He gets in his race car and accelerates right through the curve. With yesterday's 50 basis point interest rate cut, following last week's 75 point emergency reduction, we are certainly off to the monetary races.

Readers of these columns know we prefer more careful driving by the Fed, and judging from yesterday so do the markets. The long bond fell more than a percentage point, while every other economic indicator that signals a weaker dollar and higher inflation also rose. Gold hit $942 an ounce, and the dollar fell ever closer to 1.5 euros. But the most intriguing reaction came in equities, which typically cheer a Fed rate cut, but this time sold off on the Fed news.
Hang on. It's going to be a wild ride.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Worth 1000 Words

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Born Standing Up

Via Boing Boing an article by Steve Martin on Smithsonian.com which includes a video clip of the 1974 Tonight Show appearance that made him famous. Worth watching again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hear The Snow Crunch...

OK... full flaps... plenty of back pressure... hold it off as long as you can (if you have to crash, crash as slowly as possible)... touch... down... ... whoa... whoop!
Crunch.

Everybody alright? Good. OK.

Where are we?

Geezer Rock Alert

Jimmy Page of Led Zep.

I don't listen to that kind of stuff any more, but man, I love that suit.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another False Alarm

Economist Brian Wesbury says the economy is fine, really.
The irony is almost too much to take. Yesterday everyone was worried about excessive consumer spending, a lack of saving, exploding debt levels, and federal budget deficits. Today, our government is doing just about everything in its power to help consumers borrow more at low rates, while it is running up the budget deficit to get people to spend more. This is the tyranny of the urgent in an election year...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon

Space.com:
For the past several months, dazzling Venus has been prominent in our morning sky. And about a week ago, brilliant Jupiter also began to emerge from out of the glare of the Sun....

Together they will make for a spectacular "double planet" low in the dawn twilight. In the mornings thereafter they will appear to slowly separate, but before they have a chance to get too far apart the moon will join the picture....

Early on Sunday morning, Feb. 3, the moon will sit well off to the west (right) of the planets. On the following morning, Monday, Feb. 4, the show will reach its peak when, about 45 minutes before sunrise, Venus, Jupiter and the moon — the three brightest objects of the night sky — will form a striking isosceles triangle, with the two planets 3 degrees apart and the moon marking the vertex of the triangle just over 5 degrees below the "dynamic duo."

New Speak

The weekend Steyn.
So, henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated "anti-Islamic activity." Britain's Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. "There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief," she told her audience. "Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic."

Well, yes, one sort of sees what she means. Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be "anti-Islamic" — in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an "anti-German activity."

We Need This Poster

Friday, January 25, 2008

Eighty-Seven Parenthetical Words Later

John Derbyshire's latest rant contains a lovely paragraph.
The things that Fraser hated, and that I hate — the smug moralistic conformism of Political Correctness, the prissy horrified shrieking at commonplace observations and plain facts, the deception and (far worse) self-deception about human nature and human differences, the grovelling and self-abasement before inferior civilizations, all the weasely lies and hypocrisy and preening moral vanity of the PC-niks, all the bullying and witch-hunting and anathematizing, all the gas and the crap and the cant, all the terror of everyday reality, and the yearning to hide from it behind a thick, warm, soft comforter of wishful thinking — all those things are, alas, mighty in the world, and will not be dented by Fraser's vituperation, much less by mine. That he and I detest them is of no importance. They are not for us. Nothing's for us any more.
And the surrounding paragraphs are every bit as good, at least for us Derbyphiles.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fall Down Go Boom

Khost, Afghanistan:
A would-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say.

It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shy Little Shirlene

Ezra Levant:
My lawyer has received two upset calls from the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The first, from Shirlene McGovern herself, complained about the publicity she is receiving. I'm surprised at her reaction -- you'd think someone who regularly interrogates citizens about their private political views would be comfortable with the concept of public scrutiny. Imagine if she actually had to expose her private thoughts, not just her public actions as a government officer.
And if you really want to know Shirlene's private thoughts, ask Iowahawk.

Quote of the Decade

Robin Page got arrested for saying it.
If you are a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged, lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you.
Jeez, don't we all?

Old Color Photos

From the 30s and 40s.

Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fred's Out

Well it was a nice idea while it lasted.
Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.
I don't even have a second choice.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Witnesses to Horror

Omer Bartov in the weekend Journal.
"The Unknown Black Book" is the first publication of materials excluded for political reasons from "The Black Book," a collection of survivors' testimony that was compiled toward the end of the war but then ran afoul of the Stalinist regime -- even after it was heavily censored -- and fell into political limbo...

For several decades thereafter only a few experts knew about the existence of the Russian "Black Book." Incomplete versions of it began appearing in the 1980s; in 1993, the first complete version of "The Black Book" was published in Lithuania with newly discovered material from Russian archives and with government-censored sections restored. That same year, "The Unknown Black Book" was published in Russia. Now we have a translation...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Reagan

Seems Obama said something about Reagan this week.
"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America, in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not," the Senator told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. . . . He just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, 'We want clarity, we want optimism.'"
And caught hell for it. The Wall Street Journal found it amusing.

Waiting for Reagan

William Kristol says you fight an election with the politicians you have.

Friday, January 18, 2008

In The Mail Today

Recommended by Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks back.
Edinburgh native Kenneth Grahame truly captures the spirit of Scotland in this quintessential children's story about a lovable animal quartet.
It's only been perhaps forty years since I read it last.

Update: Randy almost immediately emailed me his favorite passage:
"Where's Mr. Badger?" inquired the Mole, as he warmed the coffee-pot before the fire.

"The master's gone into his study, sir," replied the hedgehog, "and he said as how he was going to be particular busy this morning, and on no account was he to be disturbed."

This explanation, of course, was thoroughly understood by every one present. The fact is, as already set forth, when you live a life of intense activity for six months in the year, and of comparative or actual somnolence for the other six, during the latter period you cannot be continually pleading sleepiness when there are people about or things to be done. The excuse gets monotonous. The animals well knew that Badger, having eaten a hearty breakfast, had retired to his study and settled himself in an armchair with his legs up on another and a red cotton handkerchief over his face, and was being "busy" in the usual way at this time of the year.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Smiley Face Books

I already own this one.

The other one's on order.

Warm Day at the Beach?

One of the models is calling for the Brookings effect tomorrow.
Afternoon weather Friday, January 18
Temp 63 to 72 degrees
Wind 11 to 12 mph
Mostly Sunny
According to Wikipedia
When the dry, cool air of the interior approaches the coast, it descends along the slopes of the coastal mountains, and is funneled down the Chetco River valley. By the time it reaches the coastal towns of Brookings and Harbor, which are separated by the Chetco River, the air is likely to be much warmer and drier. Even in mid-winter, temperatures of 20C (68F) or higher are very possible during such a pattern.
The forecasters don't think the model's correct. We'll see.

Update: The discussion thinks it's right:
The offshore winds and milder temps should result in upper 60s today at Brookings...
If I was unemployed and had a tank full of gas, I'd head over there.

Update: It got up to 63 there today (Thursday). That's at the airport, of course. It might have been warmer down on Harris Beach.

Update: It got up to 64 on Friday. OK, so the forecasters were right to be skeptical. Still, not bad weather for January. Wish I was there.

It Pays To Complain

I came within half-a-click of buying a Kindle "book" the other day. It ticked me off.
From: Gordon R. Durand
To: Amazon.com Customer Service
Date: Wed Jan 02 02:56

How can I exclude Kindle "books" from my book searches?

I don't want Kindle; I will never buy Kindle, and I am tired of having it shoved in front of me.

Gordon R. Durand
Up to this point, a loyal customer.
I got an unsatisfying reply.
From: Amazon.com Customer Service
To: Gordon R. Durand
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 09:28

Thank you for writing to Amazon.com with your comments.

I'm sorry to hear that Kindle and Kindle Edition books don't appeal to you.

There is currently no way to disable the appearance of Kindle Editions or the Kindle eBook on Amazon.com.
But I see today that they have fixed the problem. If you search for books, you get books. At the bottom of each item you might see
Other Editions: Kindle Edition, Hardcover, Paperback
So you can have your silly Kindle Edition if you really want it, but there's no longer any danger of buying it by accident.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Messenger Approaches Mercury

Today's APOD.

Actually it's already passing Mercury. More pictures here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Opening Statement

Ezra Levant:
For a government bureaucrat to call any publisher or anyone else to an interrogation to be quizzed about his political or religious expression is a violation of 800 years of common law, a Universal Declaration of Rights, a Bill of Rights and a Charter of Rights. This commission is applying Saudi values, not Canadian values.
Brilliant. Read or better yet watch his opening statement in the kangaroo court of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. This is Jeffersonian.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bent Objects

A whole blog full.

Via Boing Boing which really is "a directory of wonderful things."

Urban Mines

Mainichi Daily News:
Despite perception of Japan being short of natural resources, "urban mines" mean the country actually possesses world-leading amounts of rare metals such as gold, silver, lead and indium, the National Institute for Materials Science said.

Urban mines refers to the metals found in discarded items such as cars or electrical equipment. Business interest in tapping into urban mines is on the rise, though the precise amounts of metals in existence had remained unknown....

The institute estimated that Japan's urban mines contain 1,700 tons of indium — about 61 percent of known natural reserves — 60,000 tons of silver (22 percent of natural reserves), 6,800 tons of gold (16 percent of natural reserves) and 5.6 million tons of lead (10 percent of natural reserves).
Yet another reason why we'll never run out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

World's Media Honours Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary, that is. Dead at 88.

More on his life here.

Apt Simile

"So now I'm expected to provide content for two blogs?" Burge asks.
I suppose I'll come up with something. After all, it's my civic duty to keep shoveling worthless complaints and unsolicited opinions into the gaping maw of the internet, (I refuse to capitalize that word) like a train boilerman tossing hobo corpses into the firebox.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Surge Worked

By John McCain and Joe Lieberman.
If the mismanagement of the Iraq war from 2003 to 2006 exposed our government's capacity for incompetence, Gen. Petraeus' leadership this past year, and the conduct of the troops under his command, have reminded us of our capacity for the wisdom, the courage and the leadership that has always rallied our nation to greatness.

As Americans, we have repeatedly done what others said was impossible. Gen. Petraeus and his troops are doing that again in Iraq today.

The war for Iraq is not over. The gains we have made can be lost. But thanks to the courage of our troops, the skill and intellect of their battlefield commander, and the steadfastness of our commander in chief, we have at last begun to see the contours of what must remain our objective in this long, hard and absolutely necessary war -- victory.
On The Wall Street Journal's new Editorial Page.

John Vincent Coulter, R.I.P.

Ann Coulter remembers.

It's Past Time

Tam asks
Is it time yet, Claire?
Not everyone will catch the reference.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How I Learned to Stop Worrying

And Start Loving Obama. By Randall Hoven.
Finally, in 2003 Republicans got the Democratic foot off their collective neck. They had the House, Senate and Presidency. Finally, they could do all those things Republicans had talked about for the last 50 years: cut taxes, cut spending, cut regulations, reduce the scope of government, appoint constitutionalist judges, etc.

How did that work out?

Cold Medicine

"Contains no alcohol." They say it almost as if they're bragging. Silly pharmers. I just measure it into a shot glass (two teaspoons equals one-third ounce) and top it off with Bacardi.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bill Clinton Handles A Heckler

Steyn mentioned it in The Corner but it's worth repeating.
Eventually, [Bill] Clinton stopped outside a bakery, offered some remarks, and took questions. As he was answering one on Iraq, one of the [Ron] Paul backers interrupted and shouted that the Sept. 11 attacks were an inside job, and that the U.S. didn't need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan....

"You wanna know what I think?" Clinton said. "You guys who think 9/11 was an inside job are crazy as hell. My wife was the senator from New York when that happened. I was down at Ground Zero. I saw the victims' families. You're nuts."

Forgot He Was Lying

Dorothy Rabinowitz has the sharpest pen at The Wall Street Journal. Today she writes in praise of John McCain, and deftly slices up Mitt Romney.
The rarity of such standards--the lack of consciousness, even, among political contenders, that limitless pandering might actually be wrong, and say something damning about the character and judgment of the candidate--has never seemed more evident than in the current primary race. Who can forget Mitt Romney listening in seeming amazement, a few weeks ago, as Tim Russert pressed him to explain certain extraordinary (if politically convenient) turnabout stands he'd taken on gay marriage, the right to life and other hot social issues?

A model of self-assurance, Mr. Romney expressed his astonishment at the questions, at the idea that a man couldn't develop new positions. And what kind of a leader, he wanted to know, would he be if he never changed his mind about anything, etc., etc. What one remembered most about this scene, which had all the makings of one of Hollywood's cruder Washington satires, was Mr. Romney's easy aplomb--the air of a man who, it was quite conceivable, had come to believe in the fantastic rationales he'd offered up for all the flip-flopping.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dirigible Port

There's nothing so sweet as yesterday's tomorrows.

Via BoingBoing.

Paranoid Populists

George Will thinks both Huckabee and Edwards are delusional.
Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee -- an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic "fights" against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Right To Be An Idiot

George Jonas in the National Post:
Some argue that lapsed liberals who kept quiet while the state's commissars were targeting marginal journalists in fringe periodicals have zero moral authority to speak when they go after major commentators in mainstream magazines. Nonsense. Relapsed liberals are welcome to speak. "So foul a sky clears not without a storm," as Shakespeare had it. Hauling a leading newsmagazine before an HRC tribunal may create the storm that sweeps away these ludicrous kangaroo courts.

Left vs. Left

Mickey Kaus has some thoughts on Obama.
The open, public voting of the caucuses provided Democrats with
"a golden opportunity to show your next-door neighbors just how enlightened and progressive you are, by supporting the liberal black candidate."
On a secret ballot, Obama wouldn't do as well. If the Reverse Bradley Effect holds, then, Obama will do worse in New Hampshire than his Iowa triumph would lead you to expect, even if Hillary does nothing to change anyone's mind. ...
(Via Instapundit)

And Steyn has even darker thoughts on Huckabee.
He's friendlier to the teachers' unions than any other so-called "cultural conservative" — which is why in New Hampshire he's the first Republican to be endorsed by the NEA. His health care pitch is Attack Of The Fifty Foot Nanny, beginning with his nationwide smoking ban. This is, as Jonah Goldberg put it, compassionate conservatism on steroids — big paternalistic government that can only enervate even further "our culture."
If it comes down to these two in the general election, this blog will favor Obama, but only assuming that "none of the above" is not an option.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Concerned About Flooding?

The Northwest River Forecast Center has the latest data and forecasts.

Here's the chart for the Rogue at Gold Ray dam.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

No.

Peggy Noonan:
It's huge. Even though people have been talking about this possibility for six weeks now, it's still huge. She had the money, she had the organization, the party's stars, she had Elvis behind her, and the Clinton name in a base that loved Bill. And she lost. There are always a lot of reasons for a loss, but the Ur reason in this case, the thing it all comes down to? There's something about her that makes you look, watch, think, look again, weigh and say: No.

Plenty Cold

Down in Bigfoot County. This from the Mount Shasta News.
"For 88 straight hours the temperature remained below freezing from Dec. 26 through Dec. 29," [weather observer Frank] Christina said. "That's the longest cold spell Mount Shasta has ever experienced; it's a new record. Not once during the interval of 88 hours did the temperature get above the 32 degree mark. On Dec. 28 we recorded a record low maximum temperature of 27 degrees which broke the record of 28 degrees that was set in 1916. The coldest day on record for Mount Shasta was minus-13 degrees which was set on Dec. 22, 1990."
And this from the morning's weather discussion.
Snowfall amounts will be measured in feet rather than inches over Siskiyou County.
Just hope the roof don't cave in.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gardening Tool

Anyone who has ever owned more than an acre of land will recognize the utility of my Auntie Joy's "Hawaiian gardening equipment."
The tooth in back shatters the lava rock. You pull out the bigger rock and you have soil. Sort of. But everything grows in that stuff. We have planted the Avacados and there is more to come with almost an acre cleared and ripped.
I'll bet it would work pretty good on blackberries and scotch broom too.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Self-Medicating

Two teaspoons of tussin DM. An ounce of Bacardi rum. Hershey's special dark chocolate. Murakami.
We got into my old Corolla and started drifting around the streets of Tokyo at 2:30 a.m., looking for a bakery. There we were, me clutching the steering wheel, she in the navigator's seat, the two of us scanning the street like hungry eagles in search of prey. Stretched out on the backseat, long and stiff as a dead fish, was a Remington automatic shotgun. Its shells rustled dryly in the pocket of my wife's windbreaker. We had two black ski masks in the glove compartment. Why my wife owned a shotgun, I had no idea. Or ski masks. Neither of us had ever skied. But she didn't explain and I didn't ask. Married life is weird, I felt.
Don't expect much work out of me tomorrow.

Year of Wonders

Ralph Peters interviews General Petraeus.

This is an old-fashioned interview. Short questions, long answers.

Good Morning

It's the Year of the Rat.