Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Looks Like Fun

The Guardian is very, very afraid:
Unbelievable as it may seem, Boris Johnson has a real chance of being elected London mayor today. Zoe Williams and other Londoners imagine what it would be like if this bigoted, lying, Old Etonian buffoon got his hands on our diverse and liberal capital.
Don't you wish American politicians cared as much about their hair?

Non-Deterministic Finite Automata

They're not as complicated as I thought.

In the twentieth century no educated man could avoid at least a rudimentary understanding of the principle of the internal combustion engine. This is the twenty-first century. Read the article.

Start Drilling

Robert J. Samuelson has a solution to $120 a barrel oil.
The first thing to do: Start drilling.

It may surprise Americans to discover that the United States is the third-largest oil producer, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. We could be producing more, but Congress has put large areas of potential supply off-limits. These include the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. By government estimates, these areas may contain 25 billion to 30 billion barrels of oil (against about 30 billion barrels of proven U.S. reserves today) and 80 trillion cubic feet or more of natural gas (compared with about 200 tcf of proven reserves).

What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity....
Can we rule out pure evil? I don't think so.

I Told You...

It wasn't a depression. This morning we learned it's not even a recession.

I Also Told You...

That steak was good for you. And now here it is in the Houston Chronicle.
Texas A&M University scientists Tuesday gave a big thumbs up to barbecued beef brisket, saying the mainstay of he-man Texas cuisine is loaded with the same type of healthy fat found in olive or canola oil.
Gig 'em.

Ahem

OK. Alright. Lots to blog tonight; better get started.

Oh, who's fooling whom? You've already read the news today and you can probably form your own opinions without my help. (If you can't we're both in trouble.)

But I will note that I told you over a year ago that Crater's "small schools" initiative was a crazy idea. Looks like the Mail Tribune is finally catching up.
Small Schools Aren't Pleasing Everyone
No kidding.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Albert Hoffman R.I.P.

Albert Hoffman, who first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938, has died at the age of 102.

Dr. Hoffman didn't actually get around to testing his new discovery until the afternoon of April 16, 1943, when, like a true scientist, he tried it on himself:
At 4:50 he noted no effect. At 5:00 he recorded a growing dizziness, some visual disturbance, and a marked desire to laugh. Forty-two words later he stopped writing altogether and asked one of his lab assistants to call a doctor before accompanying him home. Then he climbed onto his bicycle—wartime gasoline shortages having made automobiles impractical—and pedaled off into a suddenly anarchic universe.
For a fine history of that discovery and the subsequent revolution I would recommend Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens.

Wasting Time and Money

Marty Nemko in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later.
Face it: If you're in the bottom 40 percent you're either a slacker or your I.Q. is below 100. Either way, you're not college material.

Nemko has some advice for parents.
If your child's high-school grades and test scores are in the bottom half for his class, resist the attempts of four-year colleges to woo him. Colleges make money whether or not a student learns, whether or not she graduates, and whether or not he finds good employment. Let the buyer beware. Consider an associate-degree program at a community college, or such nondegree options as apprenticeship programs (see http://www.khake.com), shorter career-preparation programs at community colleges, the military, and on-the-job training, especially at the elbow of a successful small-business owner.
Via Instapundit.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lucianne's Hack Attack (Follow Up)

Looks like my initial guess was right.
A new SQL injection attack aimed at Microsoft IIS web servers has hit some 500,000 websites, including the United Nations, UK Government sites and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While the attack is not Microsoft's fault, it is unique to the company's IIS server.

The automated attack takes advantage to the fact that Microsoft's IIS servers allow generic commands that don't require specific table-level arguments. However, the vulnerability is the result of poor data handling by the sites' creators, rather than a specific Microsoft flaw.

In other words, there's no patch that's going to fix the issue, the problem is with the developers who failed follow well-established security practices for handling database input.

The attack itself injects some malicious JavaScript code into every text field in your database, the Javascript then loads an external script that can compromise a user's PC.
Their first mistake was using Microsoft IIS servers, instead of the industry standard Apache/Linux.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clinton Eyes Oregon Upset

Count that as number one among headlines which, two months ago, we thought we'd never see.
Clinton Eyes Oregon Upset
I think it's missing a comma, actually.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is making a stealth play for Oregon, where a primary win next month — combined with her two strongest remaining states, West Virginia and Kentucky — may open up a pathway to the Democratic ticket by convincing superdelegates that she deserves the nomination.

Mrs. Clinton has set her sights on the Beaver State and its 52 delegates by focusing on local issues....
Really? Like, maybe, this one?
Group Wants To Make Eastern Oregon Its Own State
'Strue.
A small group of people from Hood River are interested in making Eastern Oregon its own state.

Consultant Paul Koch, 69, his partner Ernie DeRocher and DeRocher's wife, Rita Swyers, both 82, are pushing the effort. Koch said people in Eastern Oregon are fed up with how Salem has treated them.

If they got their wish, the stateline would stretch from east of the Cascade Mountains to the Idaho border.
But why stop there?

Anyway, the idea that a vote in Oregon's presidential primary might actually count has kind of snuck up on us here, and I'm still registered as a Libertarian, whatever that is, so I'm thinking about heading in to the county clerk's office tomorrow after work to turn myself into an honorary registered Democrat voter just for the occasion. That way I can vote against Obama in the spring and Clinton in the fall.

It's not Chaos I'm after, although that would not be an unwelcome treat. It's just that in ranking the three evils we're offered this election, Hillary is the lesser of the two on the left. If we must elect a Democrat president this fall, I'd rather it were her.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gliderman

Fox News:
Currently, planes and pilots are put at risk because soldiers need to jump close to combat areas. Typical high altitude, high-opening, or HAHO, jumps from around 27,000 feet allow soldiers to travel only about 30 miles after exiting the aircraft.

The Gryphon could increase that range fourfold, creating an attack corridor of nearly 125 miles....

Even in upwind conditions, the Gryphon could reduce HAHO jump duration to a third, from an average of 45 minutes to just 15, vastly reducing the risk of exposure to extreme cold.
Watch their video.

Poseur Environmentalism

Mark Steyn's column is especially good this week.
The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death.
May I suggest that you take five minutes and read the whole thing?

Hazardous Surf

I spent five months in San Diego and I'll always think of it as the sort of place that, if I live a good life, maybe I'll go there when I die.

Even in paradise, though, sometimes people get eaten.

A Summer Movie List

Victor Davis Hanson recalls the great scenes he remembers best.
The Wild Bunch: The scene when Ernest Borgnine, Bill Holden, Ben Johnson, and Warren Oates decide to give it all up, put on their guns, smile, and head off to take out the federales and meet their fate.

Shane: Brandon De Wilde yells "Shane" and runs after the gunslinger, who rides off into the sunset, leaving the viewer unsure whether his limp arm is a minor or fatal wound. The entire movie is one of unresolved tensions and a certain dignity shown in not giving into the temptations.

High Noon: A worried Gary Cooper accepts that his town has abandonded him, as he walks down main street, sweating and watching the clock as Tex Ritter sings "Do not forsake me"..." Never understood Howard Hawks simplistic critique of this brilliant movie.

Breaker Morant: Breaker and Handcock sit waiting for their bullets in their head, and Morant yells, "Shoot straight, you bastards! Don't make a mess of it!"

Das Boot: The submarine somehow blasts to the surface of the Mediterranean, the crew opens the hatch, and races to the Atlantic, as the crew signs, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."

The Magnificent Seven: Steve McQueen and Yul Brenner climb on the caisson to drive it up to boot hill—to the cut-in of the famous soundtrack.

Pat Garret and Billy the Kid: Katy Jurado watches Slim Pickens hold his guts in, sitting on the riverbank as he dies to "Knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door." Great cinematography. My paternal grandfather, a disabled WWI veteran and cowboy of sorts who spoke in a thick accent, once sold a horse to Slim Pickens in Traver, California (Frank Hanson broke them for a living), and claimed he was the most decent person he had encountered.

Twelve O'clock High: Dean Jagger snaps out of his long flashback of the awful B-17 missions, and rides off on his bike from the weed-filled airfield at Archbury.

The Vikings: the Viking music cuts in as the Norsemen send their fire arrows into the funeral ship taking Kirk Douglas's body out to sea.

Hombre: Richard Boone shouts out to Paul Newman who has come down the hill on a suicide rescue mission, "Mister, you have got a lot of hard bark on you coming down here like this."

The Searchers: the loner John Wayne walks his walk out the door to shadows and music—and a solitary existence after his work is done.

Zulu: the survivors of Rorke's Drift look up and suddenly see thousands of Zulus chanting on the hilltops—saluting their bravery and their survival.
I'm culturally illiterate, I admit. I don't like watching movies, especially the crap coming out of Hollywood these days. But I've only seen two from the list above, and I'd like, over the summer, to see the rest.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bill and Bernie

Investor's Business Daily:
Obama associates William Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, are more than former members of the Weather Underground, terrorists who engaged in bombings of American government buildings during the Vietnam War.

They are academics.

Ayers and the Weather Underground bombed New York City police headquarters in June 1970, the U.S. Capitol Building in March 1971 and the Pentagon in May 1972.

His memoirs appeared in the New York Times, oddly enough, on Sept. 11, 2001. In them, he wrote: "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."

Today Ayers, the man who found "a certain eloquence in bombs," is a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, a "respected figure in liberal education circles" according to Politico.com.

His wife is an associate professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law the director of Northwestern University's Children and Family Justice Center. Go figure.
We're not going to let up on these two.

Accepted Doctrine

Humiliating Everyone Equally

Peggy Noonan at Gate 14:
Why do we do this when you know I am not a terrorist, and you know I know you know I am not a terrorist? Why this costly and harassing kabuki when we both know the facts, and would agree that all this harassment is the government's way of showing "fairness," of showing that it will equally humiliate anyone in order to show its high-mindedness and sense of justice? Our politicians congratulate themselves on this as we stand in line.

All the frisking, beeping and patting down is demoralizing to our society. It breeds resentment, encourages a sense that the normal are not in control, that common sense is yesterday....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fact Checker Needed At APOD

Yesterday's APOD still bothers me: is it even possible for a full moon to appear in conjunction with the evening star?

I don't think so.

The Agony of the Democrats

Anatole Kaletsky in Times Online:
The 2008 US election has all the makings of a Greek tragedy, in which noble heroes and heroines are forced to follow a course to catastrophe, divinely preordained as punishment for sins and blunders committed by their forefathers in the dim and distant past. In acting out their ineluctable doom, the eloquent protagonists do not just destroy themselves but also their cities, their nations and even their entire civilisations.

If this description sounds too grandiose, consider yesterday's results from the Pennsylvania primary. The outcome seemed to be precisely calibrated by the gods to maximise the agony of the Democrats. It gave Hillary Clinton just the support she needed to stay firmly in contention, but not quite enough to turn the tide in her favour.
Now I don't agree with the entire analogy, especially the part about "noble heroes and heroines." But maybe it's true that the outcome has been "precisely calibrated by the gods." Maybe we ought not to interfere.

The "operation chaos" people may think they know how to make things worse. They might even be right. But they could just as easily be wrong. Meanwhile the gods on Olympus look down on mere mortals and scheme among themselves. Our struggles may amuse them but our fate is in their hands.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Destructive Generation

These two are already familiar to those of us who have read Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. And now, thanks to Obama, their names will soon be household words. Power Line has audio clips — from the sixties and from 2007 — that show them unrepentant.

I believe that these two, even more than Jeremiah Wright, will propel John McCain to victory in November. Ask yourself who Americans are more likely to vote for: a Vietnam war hero, or people who fought for the other side?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Let the Wars Begin

Dorothy Rabinowitz:
We are at the beginning of a contest likely to repeat itself through November: between that part of the press prepared to put hard questions equally, and all the rest, including those who'll mount the barricades when their candidate is threatened with discomfiture.

White House Princess

In The American Spectator:
Teddy Roosevelt's daughter defied everything our wussified era holds sacred. A chain smoker who lived to be 96, as a girl of 18 she defied her father's order forbidding any woman to smoke "under my roof" by climbing up on the roof of the White House and puffing away there.
Florence King reviews Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery.

There Will Be No Earth Day Post

This year. If you want to do your bit, go on over to Iowahawk's 3rd Annual Earth Week Virtual Cruise-In instead.
Previous editions of the Cruise have provided plenty of memorable hoopties, but after the seemingly endless, cruel winter we just suffered through, it's clear much more needs to be done. And that's where you come in! Send me glamor shots of your own cars / motorcycles / leaf blowers / private jets (along with brief descriptive info) and I'll make sure this little greasy corner of the internet knows just exactly how you roll.

By working together, we can raise awareness -- and mankind's sadly pathetic 0.031% contribution to total atmospheric CO2. And, by inspiring others, we can push the needle on the Eco-thermostat back to where it belongs: a balmy 2.3 degrees Farenheit warmer within the next 200 years.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hoaxed

Robert Stacy McCain in AmSpec:
"Nothing catches an editor's eye like a good rape," gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once observed, and this month's lurid tales of teenage girls ritually raped in the temple of a Texas polygamist cult caught editors' eyes around the world.

"Documents: Sect married girls at puberty," declared the headline on an April 8 Associated Press story, while the online version of the Everett, Washington, Daily Herald featured this April 10 headline: "Texas cult's girls required to have sex in temple."...

Bizarre and illegal though the FLDS sect's practices may be, however, no one at the "Yearning For Zion Ranch" has yet been charged with rape, polygamy, or any other sex crime.

In fact, the only person arrested in connection with the April 4 raid on the 1,700-acre Texas compound is a Colorado woman whose hoax phone calls may be the source of those tales of ritual rape that unleashed a global epidemic of leering headlines.
It's not her first hoax, either.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How Romantic

The Daily Mail:
Prince William was under fire again after it emerged that he had landed his £10 million RAF helicopter in girlfriend Kate Middleton's back garden during an official military exercise.

Miss Middleton and her parents are said to have watched in delight as the second in line to the throne practised a series of take-offs and landings in the paddock of their sprawling detached home in Bucklebury, Berkshire, earlier this month. ...

RAF sources told the News of the World that, William, 25, himself came up with the idea of taking the helicopter to Berkshire, claiming there was a shortage of landing spots at RAF Odiam in Hampshire where he was based for part of his attachment.

After the plan was approved by his instructors, the prince flew the 16 miles to Miss Middleton's family home where he completed one circuit of the field at the back of her parents' million-pound house and practised landing and taking off in their paddock.

He then piloted the helicopter back to Odiham for further tuition. The entire operation is estimated to have cost around £30,000.
Sounds like a reasonable lesson plan to me.

April Snow Showers

As if grappling with the graupel yesterday wasn't enough, this morning we woke to snow.

Above Average Bureaucratic Stupidity

A Federal Flight Deck Officer explains how bureaucrats who don't want pilots to have guns created the conditions which almost inevitably led to an accidental discharge.
Ignoring FAM [Federal Air Marshal] recommendations to keep guns on belts, their brainstorming produced a 1950s-vintage thumb-snap holster with a hole through the trigger guard to accommodate a padlock. When leaving cockpits, FFDOs remove holstered guns from belts and insert locks.

That sounds fine if you don't know anything about guns. No other law enforcement agency requires such gun handling, especially in turbulence and darkened, cramped cockpits. And although holsters cover a handgun's trigger to prevent accidental discharge, TSA sages elected to put a hole in that cover.

Even that pales beside the stupidity of placing a metal bar against the trigger of a loaded gun. I once made a video wherein I fired a pistol with a trigger lock engaged. As in my video, along comes the pilot who, unaware his shoulder harness has accidentally unsnapped the thumb-break, removes holster from belt. The gun having slipped slightly out of the holster, he installs the lock, its bar in front of the trigger. Next he shoves it into the bag, and —

BANG!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oh darn, it's graupeling agin.

From the weather discussion this morning:
Light showers have increased over Coos and portions of Douglas county with snow and some graupel reported at low elevations down to a few hundred feet.
What? I had to look it up. Even Google thought I was mistaken.
Did you mean: define: gruel
No, I meant graupel.
Small pellets of ice created when supercooled water droplets coat, or rime, a snowflake. The pellets are cloudy or white, not clear like sleet, and often are mistaken for hail.
They say the Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow. We have quite a few ourselves.

And it did graupel this morning, all over a nice wet coat of primer. Not a good day for painting.

The Big Stick

P.J. O'Rourke:
I love big, moving machinery. And machinery doesn't get any bigger, or more moving, than a U.S.-flagged nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that's longer than the Empire State Building is tall and possesses four acres of flight deck. This four acres, if it were a nation, would have the fifth or sixth largest airforce in the world—86 fixed wing aircraft plus helicopters.

The Theodore Roosevelt and its accompanying cruisers, destroyers, and submarines can blow up most of the military of most of the countries on earth. God has given America a special mission. Russia can barely blow up Chechnya. China can blow up Tibet, maybe, and possibly Taiwan. And the EU can't blow up Liechtenstein. But the USA can blow up... gosh, where to start?

Happiness is a Warm Gun?

Arthur C. Brooks says gun owners are happier, and he has the stats to prove it.

Lucianne's Hack Attack

Lucianne has been down the last few days. It's back up now.
Thanks for your patience. As you ve noticed we've been on and off line for the last 24 hours due to a major, major hack. It came from China and nearly tore the innards out of our site. We are live now due to the super human efforts of our Master of the Universe, Jason, and LComEagle, who fought back the pillagers. There will be some punctuation glitches on the site until we are completely sorted out. Please ignore earlier instructions about punctuation. Post as usual. We have, for now, beaten back some truly nasty people. What hit us is new to the Internet and massive. Brace yourselves.
Punctuation, huh? Sounds like the old "let's put script code in the input field and see if it executes" trick. I wonder what's new about it this time?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Set a Spell

From Shorpy's Photo Blog:
July 1939. Gordonton, N.C. "Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. Note kerosene pump on the right and the gasoline pump on the left. Rough, unfinished timber posts have been used as supports for porch roof. Negro men sitting on the porch. Brother of store owner stands in doorway." 4x5 nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.
Wallpaper size here. Via Lileks.

Leslie saw the wallpaper and asked me if I thought we were headed into a depression (she's been reading pop. ec. lately). Well as a matter of fact, I said, Amity Shlaes had an article on that topic just this morning.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama's Terrorist Friends

James Taranto:
Is it fair to judge Obama by the company he keeps? Why not? As Politico's Ben Smith noted in a February story, [William] Ayers and wife Bernardine Dohrn, both unrepentant former Weather Underground terrorists, are "well known figures on the local left" in Chicago. If half a century ago a white Southerner seeking the presidency had been "friendly" with local leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, surely the public would have a right to know, and voters would be right to look askance at the association.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Cowboy and the Shepherd

Speigel Online:
As the pope waves to the crowd, US President George W. Bush strides along the red carpet, past the honor guard, to the gangway. Behind him, his wife Laura and daughter Jenny struggle to keep up. As he reaches the base of the steps he raises his hands in applause for the pope — it is about as warm as a welcome can get.

The scene is also a first — never before has Bush personally received a visitor at the airport.
Oriana Fallaci used to refer to herself as a "Christian athiest." I guess I'd have to say I'm a Catholic one.

Void

Philadelphia:
Just four days after Mayor Nutter and City Council celebrated enactment of a package of five gun-control laws, reality arrived in the form of District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham.

Speaking yesterday at a City Council meeting, Abraham told members that she believed the new laws were unconstitutional and that she would not enforce them.

"They are, on their face, illegal acts," said Abraham, who predicted that the first arrest under the new laws would result in a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality.
Marbury vs Madison:
Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently the theory of every such government must be, that an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void.

Communications Revolution

Michael Barone, in pointing out why there won't be an old-style convention, feels compelled to remind us of the historical context.
It might seem odd to the BlackBerry generation, but until the 1960s people seldom spoke directly with people who lived elsewhere. Men of business (there weren't many women of business) spent much of their time in the offices reading mail and dictating replies to secretaries. They would proofread and sign the letters before heading home. Long-distance calls were hugely expensive, it took time for operators to make connections and the audio quality was terrible.
This blog alluded to as much earlier.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Top Dog

The American Spectator rises to the defense of Brooke Oberwetter, the midnight dancer arrested at the Jefferson Memorial. Seems she wrote a piece for them once.

Do yourself a favor. Read her article on Our Nation's Top Dog first.

Bitter Truth

Thomas Sowell:
It is understandable that young people are so strongly attracted to Obama. Youth is another name for inexperience — and experience is what is most needed when dealing with skillful and charismatic demagogues.

Those of us old enough to have seen the type again and again over the years can no longer find them exciting. Instead, they are as tedious as they are dangerous.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Surge Is Working

Michael Yon says let's 'surge' some more.
We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can't do it from inside a jet or a tank.

Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory — and a democracy in the Arab world — is within our grasp.
Michael J. Totten says we're winning even in Fallujah.
...Fallujah's worst days are likely behind it. "The al-Qaida leadership outside dumped huge amounts of money and people and arms into Anbar Province," says Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman, who oversees an area just north of Ramadi. "They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost."
Austin Bay, Glenn Reynolds, Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, and Jules Crittenden all agree — the strategy's working.

How does the Democrat candidate feel about it?

She's thrilled.

Moment of Truth in Iraq

Michael J. Totten:
Make Michael Yon a Bestseller

Michael Yon's new book Moment of Truth in Iraq is now shipping from Amazon. My copy arrived a few days ago and it looks excellent. I'll let you know what I think once I dig into it.

Michael is the best foreign correspondent working in Iraq. If you haven't been following his work, I need to make his book required reading for you. If you have been reading him all this time, you already know why you need to pick up a copy.
Required reading: I agree. My autographed copy arrived last week and I finished it yesterday. I would gladly loan it to you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Are you on welfare?

I finished my taxes today but I'm not going to write about it because Rachel Lucas has already said everything I could say and much more eloquently.

Warning: her language is somewhat colorful, not that the occasion doesn't call for it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Convective Activity

One tiny detail of today's huge (3032 x 1986) Astronomy Picture of the Day. Nice wallpaper if you have a 25" monitor.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Astounding Science Fiction

But it's not!

Here's this guy, on an ice-covered parking lot, trying to kick over a mule-like creature. Only it's not an animal, it's a robot. And he can't knock it off balance!

Thanks to Greg who sent this by email.
One more example of why I quit reading sci-fi many years ago. It keeps happening for real faster than fiction writers can imagine it.
Watch the video.

Dorothy English R.I.P.

Sad news from OIA.
Dorothy English, the "poster child" for property rights in Oregon, passed away Thursday at the age of 95.

Mrs. English gained statewide notoriety for her long battle to regain the rights to use her property that were taken by the State of Oregon and Multnomah County. She served as a spokesperson for Ballot Measure 37 (2004), the landmark property rights measure approved by Oregon voters in 2004, and was the first person to file a Measure 37 claim. Eventually, Mrs. English secured a $1,150,000 judgment against Multnomah County for the loss to the value of her property caused by Multnomah County regulations. To date, Multnomah County has not paid the judgment, and the case is on appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
They ran out the clock on her.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ANWR? Forget It!

Pulitzer Prize Winning cartoonist Michael Ramirez.

Katyn

Christopher Orlet in The American Spectator.
The Hollywood communists, writes Billingsley, knew that any film depicting Soviet atrocities would force some to conclude that HUAC was right, and worse "would violate the legend of the blacklist." In the end the CPUSA succeeded at keeping all mention of Stalinist atrocities out of the theaters — up until and including today. Had the rest of the Russian experiment been as successful as the Hollywood portion, the Soviet Union might still be around today.

Dalton Trumbo may lay moldering in the grave, but he would no doubt be glad to hear that to date there is no English-language distributor for Wajda's film, and no plans for its U.S. release.
The film he refers to is Katyn, by Andrzej Wajda, Poland's submission for this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but of course not a winner. Trailer here.

Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley's book, Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s, is available at Amazon.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Johnny Bunko

George Anders review the latest business books.
The whole thing reads like a comic book because... it is a comic book. "The Adventures of Johnny Bunko" is rendered in Japanese manga format, with page after page of cartoon-style men cowering at their desks while doe-eyed females pout and flirt. Conversation appears in little dialogue bubbles.

Mr. Pink's foray into this dodgy sub-basement of literature is more cunning than it seems. Manga has a goofy, thrill-a-minute cadence in which readers expect dramatic ultimatums or fist fights every few pages. It's a medium for shouters. And after years of trying to get his ideas across in long, carefully nuanced paragraphs, Mr. Pink is ready to do some shouting.

True to the form, the characters in "The Adventures of Johnny Bunko" dash out of buildings, cackle with glee and burst into tears. But they also roar out career-coaching tips, delivered as vehemently as if these were gangland chants. Take chances! Improvise your career path! Pick work you're passionate about!
As an armchair entrepreneur, I'm looking forward to this one.

Visual Authority

Paul Johnson: Mister, we could use a man like J.P. Morgan again.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

War and Decision

Bret Stephens reviews Douglas J. Feith's new book:
Much of what makes "War and Decision" so compelling is that it is, in effect, a revisionist history, never mind that Mr. Feith was at or near the center of the decade's most important foreign-policy decisions. So far, most of the books written on the subject -- from Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" to Tom Ricks's "Fiasco" — have painted a picture of an incompetent and paranoid administration fixated on all the wrong enemies for all the wrong reasons. These books, in turn, have sometimes relied heavily on a series of self-serving leaks, distortions and outright fabrications, many of them emanating from the administration's internal opponents, particularly at the State Department and the CIA.

Mr. Feith's book does not lack for criticism of how the administration handled itself or even, at times, of how he handled himself. But as the memo cited above illustrates, most of the received wisdom about the dynamics of the first Bush term — pitting "warmongering neocons" and democracy fantasists such as Mr. Feith against more sober-minded realists such as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage — is bunk, and demonstrably so.

Turnaround

The Wall Street Journal:
Sixteen months after President Bush ordered the change in strategy, the surge has earned a place among the most important counteroffensives in U.S. military annals. When it began, al Qaeda dominated large swaths of central Iraq, Baghdad was a killing zone, Sunni and Shiites were heading toward civil war, and the Iraqi government was seen as a failure....

Today, al Qaeda has been cleared from all but the northern reaches of Anbar and Diyala Provinces, Iraqis feel safe enough to resume normal lives, Sunni sheikhs are working with coalition forces, and the long process of Sunni-Shiite political reconciliation has begun. The surge seized the offensive from the enemy so rapidly that it deserves to be studied for years as an example of effective counterinsurgency.

Monday, April 07, 2008

SnoopStick

Melanie Reed says the secret surveillance of teenagers by parents is a sinister trend.
The SnoopStick looks like a memory stick. You plug it into your teenager's computer when they are not around, and it installs stealth software on to the machine. Then you plug it into your own computer and can sit back at your leisure and observe, in real time, exactly what your child is doing online - what websites they are visiting, the full conversations they are having on the instant messenger (IM) service, and who they are sending emails to. It is as if you are sitting and invisibly spying over their shoulder....

The SnoopStick symbolises the modern obsession with control. The American psychologist Robert Epstein, who wrote the controversial book The Case Against Adolescence, estimates that young Americans are now ten times more restricted than adults, and twice as restricted as convicted criminals. He says teenagers are infantilised and deprived of human rights. As well as the obvious legal bar to prevent them smoking, drinking, marrying, voting and gambling, teenagers have no privacy rights, no property rights, no right to sign contracts or make decisions regarding their own medical or psychiatric treatment.
This can't be good.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Instant Name Recognition

Theodore Terbolizard's got it.

I wish I lived in California just so I could say, "I voted for Turbo Lizard!"

Via The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid.

Actually, that's a very nice part of California to live in.

Activists

How Ian Robinson celebrated Earth Hour:
When Earth Hour rolled around, we turned on every light in the house. Put on a load of laundry. Put the dishwasher through.

Turned the furnace up to 25C. Cranked the stereo (AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap).

When my son opened the front door so the furnace would work even harder and less efficiently, he grinned and said, "Take that."

What should scare the enviro-whackos is this: If Calgary's energy consumption went up 2.1% during Earth Hour, it can only mean one thing. Me and the boy? We're not alone.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

One More For The Road

Steyn says it's 3 a.m. Do you know where your campaign is?
Sen. Clinton was the establishment candidate running in a party addicted to novelty (in candidates, that is; its policies remain mired in the 1960s). Hill calculated that, given the Dems' deference to identity politics, her gender would give her enough novelty to sail through. But Obama trumped that, and now it's eternally three in the morning, and the phone doesn't stop not ringing. She's like Frank Sinatra in Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's all-time great saloon song:
It's quarter to three
There's no one in the place except you and me...
Superdelegate Jon Corzine, governor of New Jersey and an early supporter of Hillary, now says that if she doesn't win the overall primary popular vote he'll switch to Obama. Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont says she needs to throw in the towel for the good of the party.
Well, that's how it goes
And Joe, I know you're getting anxious to close...
They're locking up the joint, and no matter how many nickels she drops in the jukebox it won't play "Hail to the Chief." Any minute now she'll be caught off-mike, reprising the "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy" line. But this is the way the Clinton era ends, not with a bang but a self-pitying whimper:
We're drinking, my friend
To the end of a long episode
Make it One For My Baby
And one more for the road.

The Tribes at War

Michael Barone says it's Jacksonians vs. Academics and if Obama gets the nomination the Jacksonians are more likely to vote for McCain.

The Face Was Oddly Familiar

I had a dream last night, not really a nightmare, but disturbing enough to wake me up. Like so many of my more vivid dreams it was set in the shabby streets where I mis-spent my twenties, a time when all housing situations were tentative and while I was never really "homeless" there were times when I was "between homes" in the same sense that a contractor is frequently "between contracts."

The scene followed a party of the night before, a sort of "rent party" where the host provides free beer and puts out a donation jar in hopes the guests will chip in enough to pay the rent. Only this time the donations were to fund some sort of campaign one of the guests, a small humorless blonde girl, was trying to run. She had an attitude and she dressed a little better than the rest of us (even if her clothes were from the same second-hand stores). She seemed annoyed that the contributions weren't coming in, and that the host insisted on taking out at least enough to cover his beer. The party ended acrimoniously.

This was all background to the dream itself which really started the next day when I met the girl on the street. I asked her where she was going. She said she was headed back to the party house to get her damn money.

"If I can't get $7,916 dollars a day I can't keep going."

"Well," I said, "it's not like he owes it to you. You're not entitled to it."

She turned and looked straight through me.

"Oh," she said, "but I am."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Really Old Stuff

Eugene, Oregon.
Human DNA from dried excrement recovered from Oregon's Paisley Caves is the oldest found yet in the New World — dating to 14,300 years ago, some 1,200 years before Clovis culture — and provides apparent genetic ties to Siberia or Asia, according to an international team of 13 scientists.

Among the researchers is Dennis L. Jenkins, a senior archaeologist with the University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History, whose field expeditions over two summers uncovered a variety of artifacts in caves that had caught the scientific attention of the UO's Luther Cressman in the 1930s.

The Paisley Caves are located in the Summer Lake basin near Paisley...

The Soft Drink Bombers

The Times and the Daily Mail both have stories on the 2006 plot to blow up seven airliners. The Daily Mail's has more detail (warning: graphically ugly mug shots).

This is the one that led the TSA to ban liquids.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Winslow-Carmen '08

What do you know... she's right.

Cute Diplomacy

There was a note in the news this morning about Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina, renewing calls for sovereignty over the Falklands. The message was headlined: "No War and No Winnie the Pooh."

No who?
"Between the decision of going to war and believing that by sending Winnies the Pooh we could recover the Islands, we must have the determination to recover economic strength and respect for human rights," she said clearly distancing the Kirchners' stance on the Malvinas cause from the "seduction" displayed by the former Foreign Affairs minister Guido Di Tella.
"Winnies the Pooh?" What's that all about?

I dug around a little and came up with this little item from 1998:
Argentina's Foreign Minister, Guido Di Tella, sends Falklanders Christmas presents to reduce their mistrust of Argentina, which occupied the islands but was driven out by Britain in 1982. This year's gift: copies of A. A. Milne's classic, "Winnie the Pooh," which Mr. Di Tella described in a covering note as "full of warmth, simplicity and ingenuousness." (Reuters)
According to some pieces sympathetic to Di Tella, such as this obituary, the policy worked.
This policy was known as "seduction", and consisted of showering the kelpers with Christmas cards and presents. The Falklanders liked and respected Di Tella in return, and credited him with being the first Argentine politician to recognise that any solution to the problem must involve consultations with the islanders themselves. When he visited the islands, in October 2000, he was warmly received.
Personal gestures count, as Reagan knew very well.

Don't pooh-pooh the idea.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Civilization Itself

Roger Kimball on Rudyard Kipling:
The key word is "civilization." Kipling was above all the laureate not of Empire, but of civilization, especially civilization under siege. Henry James once sniffed that there was only one strain absent in Kipling: that of "the civilized man." It's a frequent refrain. But in a deeper sense, Kipling was about almost nothing else—not the civilization of elegant drawing rooms, but something more primeval and without which those drawing rooms would soon be smashed and occupied by weeds.
Worth reading in its entirety. Or better yet skip the essay and go straight to the source—Kipling himself. A good place to start would be The Portable Kipling.

Via Professor Reynolds, who only had time to link.

Procedural Stalls

WSJ says Specter's threatening to bring things to a halt.
It's not every day that a Member of the world's greatest deliberative body stops by to chat about his plans "to close the Senate down." Especially if his name is Arlen Specter. But the Pennsylvania Republican tells us he's concluded that this is the only way to prod Democrats to vote on, or even hold confirmation hearings on, President Bush's appeals-court nominees....

He has in mind a series of procedural stalls that would make it next to impossible for the Senate to get anything done. These could include refusing to accept the usual unanimous consent motion to have the previous day's deliberations entered into the official record without a formal reading, a process that would take hours. So would reading the text of many bills, which can run to hundreds of pages.
What, actually read the laws before they pass them?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Major Annoyance

Ever have someone comment on your job who has absolutely no experience whatsoever at it? It's quite annoying. Now imagine millions of similarly unknowledgeable rubes constantly heckling you, but now they actually have a say on how you do things and could have you fired for disagreeing with them. If you can begin to fathom how unfair — downright mean — that would feel, then you'll have some understanding for the plight of the politician at the hands of voters.
Jonah Goldberg and Frank J. Fleming. Via Instapundit

Let Us Resolve

Christopher Hitchens:
Were I to be asked if Sen. Clinton has ever lost any sleep over those heaps of casualties, I have the distinct feeling that I could guess the answer. She has no tears for anyone but herself. In the end, and over her strenuous objections, the United States and its allies did rescue our honor and did put an end to Slobodan Milosevic and his state-supported terrorism. Yet instead of preserving a polite reticence about this, or at least an appropriate reserve, Sen. Clinton now has the obscene urge to claim the raped and slaughtered people of Bosnia as if their misery and death were somehow to be credited to her account! Words begin to fail one at this point. Is there no such thing as shame? Is there no decency at last? Let the memory of the truth, and the exposure of the lie, at least make us resolve that no Clinton ever sees the inside of the White House again.