Sunday, January 31, 2010

This Time Is Different

John Mauldin says "Look at the graph below, and weep."
Via the professor.

Flying in Alaska

AS 02.35.110. Emergency Rations and Equipment.
  1. the following minimum equipment must be carried during the summer months:
    1. rations for each occupant sufficient to sustain life for one week;
    2. one axe or hatchet;
    3. one first aid kit;
    4. an assortment of tackle such as hooks, flies, lines, and sinkers;
    5. one knife;
    6. fire starter;
    7. one mosquito headnet for each occupant;
    8. two small signaling devices such as colored smoke bombs, railroad fuses, or Very pistol shells, in sealed metal containers;
  2. in addition to the equipment required under (1) of this subsection, the following must be carried as minimum equipment from October 15 to April 1 of each year:
    1. one pair of snowshoes;
    2. one sleeping bag;
    3. one wool blanket or equivalent for each occupant over four.
More information on flying in Alaska here.

Demographic Reversal

Steven Malanga discusses plummeting birthrates.
The resulting population dive will be breathtaking. Japan's population, projections say, will decline by about 21 percent over the next four decades. South Korea's population, which swelled by two-thirds over the last 40 years, is estimated to shrink by nearly 10 percent in the next 40. Europe's population will peak in about five years and contract by between 6 and 16 percent by 2050...

Demographers are scrambling to adjust their population projections, with little notice in the press. In the early 1990s, United Nations researchers projected that the world's population would reach a maximum of 10 to 12 billion people (up from about 6.7 billion today). They subsequently scaled back that projection to 9.5 billion and then to about 9.1—adding, however, that it might be as low as 7.9. But the truth is that no one knows...
In City Journal, to which I recently subscribed.

I wrote about this back in 2004, way before I started this blog. For your convenience, and because it looks better in blog form, I have reproduced that paper as a post immediately below. My projections seem to be checking out.

World Population in 2300

(This is a paper I wrote six years ago, before I started this blog. I referred to it in another post above, so I decided to reproduce it here.)

Copyright © Gordon R. Durand, 2004

Falling Fertility Rates

A number of articles have noted the decline in fertility rates in recent years. In much of the developed world fertility rates have fallen below the replacement rate of 2.1, and the population of many countries has begun to decline. Even in the developing world rates have fallen, and the rate of population growth, although still rapid, has begun to slow.

How low can the rate go? The chart below shows the fertility rates for twenty of the most populous countries, accounting for 60% of the world's total population, plotted against the Human Development Index, a quality of life indicator which combines GDP, adult literacy, and life expectancy. The three countries on the chart ranking lowest on the Development Index, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, also have the highest fertility rates: 5.4, 3.6, and 5.1 respectively. The five countries on the chart with the highest Development Index, Germany, the UK, France, Japan, and the United States, all have fertility rates below the 2.1 replacement rate. These countries would even now have declining populations, were it not for immigration.

The ten countries ranking highest on the Human Development Index, Norway, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, United States, Netherlands, Japan, Finland, and France, have an average fertility rate of 1.6. Twenty-one countries have fertility rates below 1.3, including Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland. And five have rates as low as 1.1: Armenia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Macau, and Ukraine.

The Future of Population Growth

With continued economic growth the rest of the world will eventually attain a level of development equivalent to that of the wealthier countries today. Along with higher levels of development we can expect lower fertility rates. With low fertility rates and an aging population, most of the world will find itself in the condition experienced by Sweden, Belgium, and Japan now. Death rates will exceed birth rates, and the population will peak and begin a gentle decline.

How soon will it happen? China today has a GDP per head of only $860, but with an annual growth rate in real GDP of 9.6%, its GDP per head will exceed $36,000 in forty years.

The table below projects the future population of the ten most populous countries. It assumes that birth rates and death rates in each of these countries will attain by 2050 the levels which exist in Sweden today, and hold steady at those levels thereafter.

Population (millions)

Country 2003 2050 2100 2200 2300
------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
China 1,275 1,437 1,274 1,002 788
India 1,008 1,379 1,223 961 756
United States 283 300 266 209 164
Indonesia 212 273 242 190 149
Brazil 170 215 191 150 118
Russia 145 116 103 81 64
Pakistan 141 251 223 175 138
Bangladesh 137 215 191 150 118
Japan 127 122 109 85 67
Nigeria 113 201 178 140 110
------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Totals 3,614 4,513 4,002 3,147 2,475
World Total 6,000 7,493 6,644 5,225 4,109

The World Total merely scales the total population of these ten countries by a factor of 1.66; it does not represent an actual projection.

Population Implosion Worries a Graying Europe New York Times, July 10, 1998
Europe's population implosion The Economist, July 17, 2003
The Population Implosion Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2004

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Mayor Daley on Oregon's new taxes.
It will help our economic development immediately. You'd better believe it. We'll be out in Oregon enticing corporations to relocate to Chicago. I'll be very frank. I make no bones about that. If those states want to do that, so be it.
Hat tip to Oregon Catalyst.

Weekend Recap

SnarkyBytes presents Charlie Brooker with a tone-perfect news report: How To Report The News. (It's almost like these guys all went to the same school.)

Mark Steyn reviews Obama's State of the Union speech.

T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII presents a counterpoint of sorts.

Steven Greenhut explains how California's government workers rank above the rest of us. (Via Instapundit.)

Tony Blankley wants to repeal the 17th Amendment. I agree. Did I ever tell you about Polybius? It's around here somewhere, I think.

And the Daily Mail explains that advertising for 'reliable' workers discriminates against 'unreliable' applicants.

I've always said that the only alternative to discrimination in hiring is to hire indiscriminately, say on a first-come first-served basis. But now I see that even that discriminates against the tardy.


Trading in the credit-default swap market this week shows that investors now view a default by the U.S. Treasury as more likely than a default by the Coca-Cola Company. Until very recently, this scenario seemed about as likely as Coke winning a taste infringement suit against Coke Zero. Now the United States has taken its place next to Italy and Spain in a special club that no major country wants to join -- countries whose debt is considered less safe than that of Blue Chip businesses.
Emphasis added.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hazards of Volunteering

I woke up at four o'clock this morning and couldn't get back to sleep for worrying.

Some years ago as a member of the Libertarian party I got a copy of the voter registration for Jackson County in digital format. Ten floppy discs. We wanted to send our fellow Libertarians, all five hundred or so, a mailing. I parsed the files into a database and printed out the mailing labels.

Then, having a little time on my hands, I started looking through the data. Just for fun, you know, see who's registered as what and so on. I discovered that my own mother-in-law was registered twice. She had just remarried and had changed her registration to her new name. But for some reason the old registration had stuck.

My wife asked her about it.

"Oh, yes, I get two ballots. I just throw one away."

So I wrote some routines to go through the data looking for other cases like hers. I found quite a few. In the worst case, I found an apartment in Ashland with something like ten registered voters, all of them with more or less the same name except for minor spelling differences. I wondered if they all voted.

So there I was at 4:30 this morning still wondering.

Finally I got up and started googling for answers. I ran across a site called that seemed fairly non-partisan. They had a "Toolkit for Election Protection." Module 10, Check Voter Registration (PDF), had just the information I needed.
Guide for Checking on Voter Registration Lists...
  • Ask for a CD for the voter registration database for your county, and ask for the updates periodically. In some jurisdictions, you must be a representative of a political party to obtain this. In that case, make contact with someone who is, explain your project, and collaborate.
  • Ask for the "ineligible voter list" (removed from the rolls since 2004 election)
  • Ask for the list of "inactive voters" (different from ineligible)...
Here are some of the things to look for when checking voter registrations...
Most of which I'd already thought of.

So here's where the volunteering comes in. I'm a pretty good computer programmer, and I have some experience with large and dirty data sets. If someone will get me that CD, either for Jackson County or some other county in Oregon, I'll do the sleuthing, and send you the results.

I have no doubt we'll find a few "interesting" anomalies.

Anti-Tax Initiatives

Sometimes we find good news in The Oregonian.
Oregon's leading anti-tax activists are quietly rolling out a new strategy to limit government by partnering with frustrated small-town residents across the state.

"We're going full bore at the local level all over the state," said Jeff Kropf, a former state legislator and director of Americans for Prosperity Oregon, the state chapter of a Washington D.C.-based group promoting limited government. "If we can't stop big government in Salem, we're going to do it at the grass-roots level."
Strangle the beast.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama’s SOTU Address

Obama's State of the Union address...

There's only one thing I want to know about Obama's State of the Union address. You want to know what I want to know?

What I want to know is...
Who gives a rat's ass?
That's what I want to know!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oregon Ambush in WSJ

The Wall Street Journal lies.
It's not often that citizens vote for higher taxes, but 54% of Oregonians have done precisely that.
Man that really chafes my butt.

Oregon has an estimated population of 3,825,657, of which 2,062,607 are registered to vote.

(If that number seems suspiciously high, it is. In Oregon you register by mail and your ballot is mailed to you. You fill it out in the privacy of your own home, sign the return envelope, and mail it back. The signature is checked against the signature you used when registering. Other than that, there are no checks.)

Anyway 1,263,997 ballots arrived in this election for a "turnout" of just over 61%. Of those, 682,238 voted for measure 66 and 672,370 for measure 67. That means fewer than 18% of Oregonians — probably way fewer — voted for higher taxes. We're not quite as stupid as we look.

(On the other hand, barely 15% voted against, so maybe we are.)

Red Oregon, Blue Oregon

(Click the pic to see the entire map in glorious technicolor.)
Even in bluest Multnomah county 29% voted with the resitance, and even in reddest Sherman 28% had imperial sympathies.

I notice that the steepest red-blue gradient is between Roseburg, the timber capital of my childhood, and Eugene, the hippie haven of my twenties.

For the benefit of you out-of-staters, Lane County (Eugene) is the home of the University of Oregon, and Benton County (Corvallis) of Oregon State University. Marion County (Salem), so the old joke went, is the home of three institutions, one of which is run by the inmates. Unfortunately the joke no longer works, as they've closed down the state mental hospital. Those people now live on the streets of Multnomah County (Portland), where they participate in demonstrations, self-immolations, and GOTV drives.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rich is Bad, Poor is Better

The majority have voted for poverty, and poverty they shall have.

Measure 66 is favored by 54.2% of the voters.

Measure 67
is favored by 53.8% as of 9:00 PM.

Click those links for county-by-county breakdown. Multnomah, a hotbed of communist, socialist, and anarchist scum, is going for hell by a 71 to 29 percent margin. Lane (65%) and Benton (63%), home of the tenured "intellectual" brand of scum, are not far behind. The rural counties, who will suffer the most from this idiocracy, have all voted against.


This is for David Handy, AKA the "Roseburg Mac Guy," who introduced me to the Apple Macintosh way back in, what was it, 1983?

Monday, January 25, 2010

It Ain’t So Easy Now,

Is it, smartass?

Sorry, Folks

“This is your captain speaking. I have an important announcement. We lost radio contact with the ground shortly after take-off and have been flying blind ever since. I have no idea whether we are still in U.S. territory, and we do seem to be losing altitude and running short of fuel. Sorry, folks, but that's the risk that you took in choosing to fly with us. Nancy and the other flight attendants will be coming through the cabin one last time to collect your valuables. Brace yourselves for a hard landing, and thank you for flying Hope-and-Change Airlines.”
Andrew B. Wilson in The American Spectator.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On the Schedule for Today

This afternoon in Grants Pass Catherine Manoukian will perform Brahms' Concerto for Violin with the Rogue Valley Symphony under the baton of guest conductor Darko Butorac.

Marielle and I have premium tickets, up close and, hopefully, slightly to the left of center.

My capsule review: Fantastic. And none of her photos do her justice. I've ordered a CD: Khatchaturian and Shostakovich: Violin Concertos.

Things You Might Have Missed

In a week so full of news I didn't have time to read it all, much less think about it long enough to post on this blog.

The 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade brought the must-read Mugged by Ultrasound, by David Daleiden and Jon A. Shields in The Weekly Standard.

The Supreme Court rediscovered the First Amendment. I recommend you read the actual opinion (PDF) — it's moderately difficult but by no means impossible to do so.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed a new book by George Melloan entitled The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism. It's in my cart.

And finally, in a lighter but somewhat ominous note, the ghost of Warren G. Harding haunts the White House. I swear it's him.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Alabama Whitetail

One of my correspondents sends this snapshot from Alabama.
Finally something with antlers. 8:45 this morning at 130 yards from climber with .35 Rem.
That would be a Marlin 336C in .35 Remington with XS ghost ring sights. Nice shooting.

This buck will join four does already in his freezer. I had to ask him about that.
Yes our game laws are rather liberal (in the best sense of the word). With archery you can hunt from October through January and with gun from November through January. But each of those five deer I've got stacked up in the freezer work out to be about two grocery bags each of hamburger and cube steak — our mature does average about 100 pounds on the hoof.

Gotta Catch ’Em All!

McDonald's in Singapore handed out Chinese zodiac animals in their happy meals. Except that, so as not to offend the Muslims, they left out the pig. Thereby offending the other three-quarters of the population.

Rickets On The Rise; Computers Blamed

The condition is linked mainly with extreme poverty and the 19th-century Victorian England of Charles Dickens, and can be easily avoided through a balanced diet and exposure to sunlight.

But doctors reported this month that cases of the debilitating disease have once again become "disconcertingly common" in Britain.

"Kids tend to stay indoors more these days and play on their computers instead of enjoying the fresh air," said Simon Pearce, a professor at Newcastle University in northeast England and lead author of a new study on Vitamin D deficiency.
Via Professor Reynolds, who recommends fresh air and sunshine — grandma was right!

Mortimer Lost

Mort, Mort, Mort.

Mortimer Zuckerman is another one of those, like Peggy Noonan and Warren Buffet, to whom I no longer pay any attention whatever.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not a word about this to Wendy

Shamelessly stolen from Coyote Blog, who is also in my sidebar. Keep an eye on him.

1/12: The Truth Is Out There

Wow, what do you call these people? Not "truthers". Not "birthers". Maybe "quakers"? No, that's already taken. I found this on some nutcase blog written by a loony-left lesbian named "Candle".
First they told us that 9/11 was orchestrated by Islamic Terrorists who wanted to destroy our country because they, quote, "Don't like us." Then they tried to tell us that thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel could melt through steel — a metal which, as everyone knows, will melt at 1300 degrees. Wake up people, that's a little over twice the maximum heat of a kitchen oven!

And now, years later, when all the culprits are "supposedly" out of power, along comes this handy little "earthquake"... right before the Massachusetts election. Lets just have a look at the timeline:

Jan 12, 2010:
1000 am - High concentrations of highly explosive thermite are reportedly seen by fishermen two miles off of Haiti in international waters.

1300 pm - Fishermen mysteriously go missing. Press is completely silent on this.

1630 pm - Other fishermen see a mysterious "explosion-like thing" somewhere in the vicinity of the missing fishermen. One of them claimed that it may have been either a "nuke" or a "thermite bomb".

1640 pm - A massive earthquake-like effect demolishes the capital of Haiti (referred to in the news as "Port-au-Prince").

1700 pm - Scott Brown is quietly funneled his first in a series of millions and millions and millions of dollars in campaign finance money...
But jeez, wouldn't you know, Hugo Chavez believes it.

Via Lucianne.

The Democrats' Faustian Bargain

Daniel Henninger has an interesting argument. Let me extract the pith of it:
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy planted the seeds that grew the modern Democratic Party. That year, JFK signed executive order 10988 allowing the unionization of the federal work force. This changed everything in the American political system. Kennedy's order swung open the door for the inexorable rise of a unionized public work force in many states and cities....

They broke the public's bank. More than that, they entrenched a system of taking money from members' dues and spending it on political campaigns. Over time, this transformed the Democratic Party into a public-sector dependency....

But here's the party's self-destroying kicker: Feeding the public unions' wage demands starved other government responsibilities. It ruined our ability to have a useful debate about any other public functions.

Massachusetts' spending fell for mental health, the environment, housing and higher education. The physical infrastructure in blue states is literally falling apart. But look at those public wage and pension-related outlays. Ever upward....

There's no way out for these Democrats. They made a Faustian bargain 40 years ago with the public unions....
But you should read it all.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ted Kennedy's Dead

Even Hyannis Port went for Scott Brown.

Anyone for a used camel lot?

Shut up, Harry.

All credit to Feed Your ADHD.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ashland Goes Republican!

Ashland, Massachusetts, that is.

Hey, I was voting Republican before Republican was cool.

But I welcome the new Kennedy Republicans.

Wall Street likes it too.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 115.78 points, or 1.09%, to 10725.43, its highest close since Oct. 1, 2008....
Everybody now! Happy days are here again...

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Party of Woodstock

“This isn't the Democratic party of our fathers and grandfathers. This is the party of Woodstock hippies. I was at Woodstock — I built the stage. And when everything fell apart, and people were fighting for peanut-butter sandwiches, it was the National Guard who came in and saved the same people who were protesting them. So when Hillary Clinton a few years ago wanted to build a Woodstock memorial, I said it should be a statue of a National Guardsman feeding a crying hippie.”
John Ratzenberger at a Scott Brown rally. You may remember him as Cliff Claven.

Kathryn Jean Lopez by way of mass No Looking Backwards.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How I Would Teach History

A long time ago in college — I think it was as part of a historiography course — I read and reviewed America Revised, a history of American history textbooks, by Frances FitzGerald. Of the current crop she noted that "the signal quality of all of them is an astonishing dullness." I read an item in the news this week that reminded me why this is. It seems the State Board of Education in Texas, led by its social-conservative bloc, was drawing up a list of items which children must be taught. In the process they were crossing out liberal icons and writing in conservative ones. The resulting text, to be written by a committee of inexpensive scholars according to the precepts of a committee of politicians, will no doubt be dry as chalk.

As FitzGerald said, it's not fair.
To teach history with the assumption that students have the psychology of laboratory pigeons is not only to close off all avenues for thinking about the future; it is to deprive American children of their birthright.
If I were a high school history teacher I would offer my students an alternative. I'd let them trade me their doorstop texts for one or the other of A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, or A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson.

There is a natural tendency in simian society to divide into teams, the teams to choose captains, the captains to appoint lieutenants, and warfare — or at least the intellectual equivalent thereof — to ensue. I would subtly encourage this. The captains would choose their stand-points, the lieutenants would assemble arguments, and all their team mates would plow through the reading to supply ammunition. The daily fireworks would entertain even the dullest minds. As teacher I would only have to moderate the discussion, occasionally play the devil's advocate (alternating devils, of course), and intervene as necessary to prevent bloodshed.

A Real Humdinger

The weathermen are excited.
The global analysis shows a loaded gun pointed at the US west coast with strong zonal flow aloft — the jet stream — between 30N and 40N all the way from just east of Japan to 130W. A long series of short waves are embedded in this flow....

There won't be much of a break after this storm moves through today — the next one will come in Monday and it will also track north along 130W Monday and Monday night. Weaker waves will follow on Tuesday.

The pattern will change into a lower index pattern with more longitudinal flow Wednesday as a longwave trough deepens along 140W. This will bring more southerly flow aloft into the area. at low levels — this means the storms will track closer to the coast. That system will come in right on schedule on Wednesday. The NAM12 is advertising a real humdinger with a 958 mb center tracking north along 130W. The GFS goes with a 965 mb center tracking along 130W. Will let the models hash this one out for now but if the NAM12 scenario pans out — it will be a major storm for the coast with 100+ MPH winds at Cape Blanco.
Area Forecast Discussion here.
International Satellite Imagery here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Barack the Barbarian

Red Sarah?

What? Robert E. Howard? Died when? 1936?

I'm so confused. I got here, I think, by way of Cowboy Blob, but my browser's history is tangled... it's all a blur... pop culture and politics... I don't understand.

Oh, for the certainties of the Hyborian Age.

Coakley and Satan

Friday, January 15, 2010

Longview Jury Affirms Self-Defense

The Daily News (Longview, Wash.)
A jury found a Longview man not guilty of four counts of second-degree assault with a firearm Friday, nearly a year after he brandished a gun at four Kesler's Bar and Grill employees.

After deliberating for about an hour, the jury found Brian Adam Barnd-Spjut, 29, acted in self defense, which means the state must pay his attorney's fees and any wages he lost because of court appearances. Defense attorney Duane Crandall said his client had faced up to 14 years in prison.
The jury enjoyed some lively closing arguments:
"He had been drinking. He was heedless and he was headstrong," [Deputy Prosecutor Amie] Hunt said. "He's angry. He's not hurt. He's not injured."

But Crandall asked the jury, "Where does the prosecutor get off saying that my guy had to wait to get hurt before he could lawfully draw a gun?"

He pointed out that it took police about 10 minutes to respond to Kesler's after the incident. "Does anyone believe my guy would be in good shape after they attacked him for 10 minutes?" Crandall asked.

Crandall also pointed out that Barnd-Spjut was arrested a short time after the incident by roughly a dozen police officers, many of whom had drawn their guns. If police can justifiably draw their weapons to protect themselves, Crandall asked, why is his client on trial for doing the same?

"Let's try to be real careful, OK?" Crandall told the jury. "Because this case is going to affect our community. You have a right to protect yourselves."
The jury agreed.
Superior Court Judge Jim Warme granted Crandall's motion to return Barnd-Spjut's gun and ammunition, which were seized by police. Barnd-Spjut said in an interview that he plans to continue carrying the weapon.
The trial took three days and reporter Tony Lystra wrote a fresh article each day. To get the whole story you have to read all three. By golly that's the way journalism's supposed to be.
  1. Man accused of pulling gun on bar bouncers goes to trial
  2. Kesler's manager backs defendant at trial over firearm incident
  3. Jury returns not guilty verdict in Kesler's gun trial

Are Nonparasites the Majority?

Howie Carr in the Boston Herald.
Let's be clear here, Brown-Coakley is a fight between the working classes and the nonworking classes. If you have a job, if you pay your own way, then you're for Scott Brown. If you're a moonbat, or a hack, or an illegal alien, or if you have a trust fund or are from New York (or most likely both) then you're for Martha.

Are the nonparasites of Massachusetts still the majority? We'll know soon enough.

But look on the bright side, layabouts. If we win, we'll still have to go to work Wednesday. And you won't.
I feel the same way about the election here in Oregon. Like I said yesterday (I want my future back!). I work three days a week for myself and my family, and two days more to support a couple of slackers.

Oregon at the Tax Crossroad

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal.
A great beauty of the American federal system is that any of the 50 states can offer its policies as an experiment for others. So the nation owes some gratitude to Oregon for testing whether it is possible for a state to tax its way from deep recession to prosperity.
To paraphrase my mother, every state has its purpose, if only to serve as a bad example. I'm still hopeful the voters aren't that stupid, but I've been disappointed before.

Must Read of the Day

Lucianne nominates, I concur. Until you read this, you're not qualified to have an opinion on the Massachusetts Senate race. You don't even have a hunch.

Dorothy Rabinowitz: Martha Coakley's Convictions

What is it about Massachusetts and witch trials?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

Wherever people work—in a factory or at home, or whatever else their job might be—they will work for only three days a week. The rest of the week they can do what they like.
— 2010: Living In the Future, opere citato.

I want my future back!

2010: Living In the Future

Via TJICistan, a project by Daniel Sinker.
Back when I was a boy, I bought a children's book at my town's library book sale called "2010: Living in the Future" by Geoffrey Hoyle. Written in 1972, it had been withdrawn from the library's collection by the mid-80s, when I picked it up. I've somehow managed to hang onto it for 25 years and now, suddenly, here we are: 2010.
Kind of funny, kind of sad.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Every now and then I do one of those pathetic little "vanity searches" on Google to see if anyone in the wider world has noticed the zeta woof. It's generally an exercise in humility, but on occasion the result is gratifying: someone, somewhere, found value in something I wrote.

This last month the Churchmouse Campanologist in the UK discovered my post on Anton Raphael Mengs.
Please take a moment to read more about the painting and how Mengs created it here on Zeta Woof by Gordon R Durand. An enlightening post and a worthwhile read!
Worthwhile! (Wiping a tear from my eye.) I worked hard on that post and I was very proud of it at the time. I'm even more chuffed now.

Eyewitless News

Martha Coakley (left), Michael "Pushy" Meehan (center),
reporter John McCormack (on the ground).
About the encounter Coakley says:
"I'm not sure what happened. I know something occurred, but I'm not privy to the facts. I'm sure it will come out, but I'm not aware of that."
Who you gonna believe? Martha Coakley or her own lyin' eyes?

P.S. OK, if you don't know the story, it started here.


The three most common structures in programming are the list, the tree, and the tangle. The list is traversed by iteration, the tree by recursion, and the tangle, which I do not recommend, has never been successfully traversed.

Guess which one I'm dealing with today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Better Business Burro

Send the Burro.

You-- you can't be serious!


Oh my.

Look, I can't pretend to understand these. I'm not even sure I "get it." But late at night, they made me laugh. Maybe I'm...

The Better Business Burro: A Parable in Five Parts.

And don't miss this bonus strip.

Still Too Close

The latest Rasmussen has Coakley at 49%, and Brown at 47%. That's better than last week (Coakley 50%, Brown 41%) but still too close to really get my hopes up, since the electorate continually disappoints me.

This poll, however, was taken Monday, before last night's debate:
GERGEN: You said you're for health-care reform, just not this bill. We know from the Clinton experience that if this bill fails, it could well be another 15 years before we see health-care reform efforts in Washington. Are you willing under those circumstances to say, I'm going to be the person, I'm going to sit in Teddy Kennedy's seat and I'm going to be the person who's going to block it for another 15 years?

BROWN: Well, with all due respect, it's not the Kennedys' seat, and it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat.
Shots like that win elections.

Update: Shots like this, though; I don't know. Might help him with the garden club ladies.

Moneybomb Monday

The race between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley to fill the Senate seat in which Ted Kennedy died is no longer a Massachusetts contest — it's a national one. Polls released Saturday showed that Brown has a real chance of winning, and he has pledged to be the "41st vote" that kills Obamacare. That makes him the champion of all of us.

On Monday his campaign set a goal of raising $500 thousand dollars. They reached it by supper time. Then the contributions really started pouring in. By seven they had $750 thousand. By ten they had a cool million. When Moneybomb Monday ended at midnight last night they had raised $1,303,302.50.

That's how important this contest is to the rest of the country.

Money doesn't buy votes, of course, only advertising. But we will be watching very closely this election in Massachusetts next Tuesday, January 19th. It's not just a Senate seat. It's a referendum on the future of our country.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Patrick Henry Hughes

Doc's got a video you've got to see.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Swine Flew

As local blogger Jim Wickre noted, we hail the advent of porcine aviation: the local fish wrap finally found a tax increase they couldn't enthusiastically endorse. The editorial page of the Mail Tribune (which I haven't read since the Reagan administration) has opined that Measures 66 & 67 might not actually be that great.
[I would have inserted the money quote here but it was the stalest tub of cold dishwater I have ever read; clearly their collective hearts were not in it.]
In fact the editors could not even bring themselves to actually say "vote no." It was nothing but a tepid non-endorsement. They gave the rest of the page over to guest editorials and letters-to-the-editor from poor widdle teachers urging us to please vote yes "for the children."

It's a tired old saw that Democracy gives people the government they deserve, but if the people of Oregon approve these measures then the depression and unemployment that follows is exactly what they deserve. You don't deserve it and I don't, but for them I have no sympathy whatever.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Larry's On It

I'll admit, a lot of days I can't tell a tinfoil beanie from a bicycle helmet.


From the comments thread on Toby's Bloggie-do.
...reminded me of a story she had at Thanksgiving where she forgot that you have to thaw the turkey for a day or two before cooking. So she wrapped the turkey in several layers of plastic and placed it in the hot tub for a "quick thaw". She says it was one of the best turkeys she ever had — "real moist and all."

The Morning News-Bath

Mark Steyn makes a painfully obvious point.
According to one poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of waterboarding young Umar Farouk. Well, you should have thought about that before you made a community organizer president of the world's superpower. The election of Barack Obama was a fundamentally unserious act by the U.S. electorate, and you can't blame the world's mischief-makers, from Putin to Ahmadinejad to the many Gitmo recidivists now running around Yemen, from drawing the correct conclusion.
And this AP dispatch illustrates why you don't try enemy combatants in civilian courts.
A federal judge has tossed out most of the government's evidence against a terrorism detainee on grounds his confessions were coerced, allegedly by U.S. forces, before he became a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.

In a ruling this week, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan also said the government failed to establish that 23 statements the detainee made to interrogators at Guantanamo Bay were untainted by the earlier coerced statements made while he was held under harsh conditions in Afghanistan.
Harsh conditions, huh? The Wall Street Journal says we'll show you harsh.
Never before in the history of air warfare have we been able to distinguish as well between combatants and civilians as we can with drones. Even if al Qaeda doesn't issue uniforms, the remote pilots can carefully identify targets, and then use Hellfire missiles that cause far less damage than older bombs or missiles. Smarter weapons like the Predator make for a more moral campaign.
There's a simple solution for the "detainee" problem: don't detain them.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Death by Scientific Consensus

Patrick Cox at Pajamas Media.
I'd like to make a few general observations. One is that, in every age, much of the mainstream scientific establishment has considered itself to have achieved a final understanding of core scientific issues. It is also true that, in retrospect, it has never been the case. Science, rightly, is a process of discovery, not a set of established facts. ...

Remember when eggs, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate were bad for you? ...

In the meantime, we need to always exercise skepticism toward "authorities" who tell us to simply trust their judgment regarding sunshine, diet, climate change, or anything else. It will become increasingly critical that we do our own research in the years to come as government has expanded into every aspect of sciences. At the same time, the sheer mass of legitimate discoveries is making it harder and harder for anyone to keep up.

The single best source of the latest information about vitamin D and sunshine, unfortunately, will not be published until April. It is Holick's forthcoming book, The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem.
In my shopping cart; soon, on my shelf. Until then I'll be working on my tan, or, as we Oregonians call it, rust.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Statistics Illustrated

OregonGuy has a very nice illustration of the Bell Curves.

Canine Hero

A golden retriever named Angel saved a Vancouver B.C. boy from a cougar.
Angel leapt a full 1.5 metres above the ground, sailed over a lawn mower and intercepted a cougar mid-air, just as it was about to pounce on 11-year-old Austin Forman.

The cougar got Angel, a golden retriever, around the neck and the two animals fell to the ground, the cougar's jaws clamped tight around the dog's neck.

Austin ran inside, frantic and screaming.
RCMP Constable Chad Gravelle arrived within minutes and shot the cougar, which still had the dog's head clamped in its jaws.

Angel is now recovering at the veterinary hospital.

Update: Greg's friend Susan saw the story on the Today show.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Brief Treatise on Race

From a document marked FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY found on the U.S. Census Bureau web site. My comments in italics.
Why does the Census Bureau need to know my race?
Information on race is required for many Federal programs and is critical in making policy decisions, particularly for civil rights. States use these data to meet legislative redistricting principles. Race data also are used to promote equal employment opportunities and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks. Well, screw that.

What does the Census Bureau mean by race?
The concept of race as used by the Census Bureau reflects self-identification; it does not indicate any clear-cut scientific definition that is biological or genetic in reference. The data for race represents self-reporting by people according to the race or races with which they most closely identify. After watching Gran Torino last year I identified with the Hmong. Can I check that one?
In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include both racial and national origin or socio-cultural groups. You may choose more than one race category. Native American and Hmong, then.

Will people of mixed racial heritage be able to identify themselves on the form?
Each respondent may select one or more racial categories. Native American, Hmong, and Welsh.

How will data on American Indians or Alaska Natives be collected?
Responses to the census question on race are based on self-identification. Respondents may choose to select the checkbox category "American Indian or Alaska Native". This checkbox also has an instruction to "Print name of enrolled or principal tribe" along with a write-in response area for respondents to indicate their tribe or tribes. These responses will be used to collect data on both the American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Huron.

May American Indians and Alaska Natives report more than one tribe?
Yes, in addition to reporting one or more races, American Indians and Alaska Natives may report one or more tribes. For example, people who report American Indian and Alaska Native and write-in their tribes as Jicarilla Apache and Navajo would be included in both the Apache and Navajo tribal groupings. And Iroquois.
I'm an American Indian-Hmong-Welshman of the Huron and Iroquois tribes. At least, those are the races with which I most closely identify. Prove me wrong.

Update: Within hours of my posting someone removed the document in question from the Census Bureau web site. No problem; I kept a copy here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

In Favor of Unreasonable Searches

L. Gordon Crovitz in the Monday Journal.
Timothy Healy, the head of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, explained the unit's "reasonable suspicion" standard like this:
"Reasonable suspicion requires 'articulable' facts which, taken together with rational inferences, reasonably warrant a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to, terrorism and terrorist activities, and is based on the totality of the circumstances. Mere guesses or inarticulate 'hunches' are not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion."
If this sounds like legalistic language, it is. Indeed, a quick Web search was a reminder that this language is adapted from Terry v. Ohio, a landmark Supreme Court case in 1968 that determined when Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches allows the police to frisk civilians or conduct traffic stops. In other words, foreign terrorists have somehow now been granted Fourth Amendment reasonableness rights that courts intended to protect Americans being searched by the local police. Thus was Abdulmutallab allowed on the airplane with his explosives.
If I were the sort of blogger who conducted insta-polls, my question would be:
Does the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution apply to
  • American citizens only
  • All the little children of the world
I have no doubt that a great many Libertarians would choose "b", and that is why I no longer consider myself a Libertarian. Sorry, but to enjoy the privileges and immunities of American citizenship, you must first become one. Wandering through an airport turnstile is insufficient.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Taste for the Macabre

Greg writes, in response to the jolly rodents.
I read Willard, long, long before any Hollyweird hacks heard of it. And Ben is a cheesy excuse for a sequel to Willard. Willard is a first rate, sci-fi horror story. The Michael Jackson theme song for Ben just creeps me out in disgust when I consider what a great read it was.
Ratman's Notebooks, by Stephen Gilbert, is long out of print but can still be found, at a price.

Perhaps I will read it later, after my Shirley Jackson kick. I have just finished The Haunting of Hill House, and ordered We Have Always Lived in the Castle. There are a dozen more after that. In grade school we all had to read The Lottery; is it any wonder we turned out the way we did?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Laughing Rats, Singing Mice

Leslie mentioned a few days ago that her sister had told her about "laughing rats." No, I replied, only the human animal laughs. But it nagged at me, as if I'd heard about laughing rats before. A couple days later while doing routine maintenance on my blog I stumbled on my own post from almost three years ago: Laughing Lab Rats.

Turns out Dr. Jaak Panksepp of Washington State University had been tickling rats, and the rats had been laughing, or at least making noises that, shifted to a frequency that the human ear can hear, sound like laughing.

That reminded me of an earlier article that pre-dated this blog — but fortunately I'd saved it in email: Singing Mice.
When the males encountered cotton swabs dunked in female mouse urine, they broke into song.

Dr Holy and his team processed the sound recordings to make them audible to humans, lowering the pitch without interfering with the tempo.

Instead of making the ultrasonic chirps randomly, the mice used several different types of syllables arranged in regular, repeated time signatures resembling birdsong.
Follow the links to watch the laughing rats and listen to the singing mice.

Then rent Ben.

Plenty in Port Moresby

Pictures from Malum Nalu.
These are pictures from Rainbow Market, Gerehu, Port Moresby, which were taken yesterday.

Port Moresby is now into a brief respite during the December to March period, when the rain comes down in buckets and vegetables abound all over the capital city, as evident in these pictures.

During this period, vegetable gardens can be seen all over the city, including precarious hillsides.

Apart from the vegetables, you can buy fresh seafood such as fish, squid, octopus and sea shells as well as inland delicacies such as magani (wallaby) and tilapia, to name a few.
Malum Nalu has been selected 2009 Papua New Guinea Blog of the Year, and has been featured in my sidebar since I began researching my father-in-law's war last year.

Too much of my web reading consists of the same old yada-yada-yada. Malum Nalu's blog is something completely different. He is thoroughly unconcerned with domestic American politics. Papua New Guinea has its own problems.

It also has its own fierce beauty. I hope to visit there some day.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Marielle's Gingerbread Dunkers

Is it any wonder I gained five pounds over the holidays?

First Class Snark

From Max Redline.
As the duckies and the bunnies hold hands and dance around the Maypole, singing "Everything Is Beautiful", so our college students of today prepare for "green" careers. Whatever the tuition may be at Arizona State, it's a safe bet that Chairman Mao could have out-done them. Above, Arizona State University graduate student Lana Idriss harvests campus-grown foods to be served at campus dining facilities. Isn't that sweet? Golly. We did that sort of thing when I was eight. At summer camp.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year?

I notice that in the Insta-Poll taken today, about 40% of the respondents think that 2010 will be worse than 2009. Only 28% think it will be better.

I personally had a very good year, so "worse in 2010" would be a better-than-even bet. But only for me personally. As for the country as a whole, I'm not sure things could get any worse, so I voted "better". Call me Pollyanna if you like.

For a reminder of just how bad it was, check out the Top 10 Ramirez Cartoons of 2009.