Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exempli Gratia

Edward Shorter, Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy in the Weekend Journal.

This is exactly the sort of article I never would have plowed through online, but I enjoyed it thoroughly as I carried it from room to room today, reading a bit at a time.

Now, theoretically at least, you could do that with a laptop or iPad, but not really. Eric Raymond explains why.

Life Style Change

I spent an hour yesterday morning at the dining room table reading The Wall Street Journal before I even bothered to check my email. During that time I skimmed and absorbed probably twice the volume of information that I might have found in the same time from the internet. Only then did I log in and check the links in my sidebar.

There are pros and cons to both media. The paper presents a more balanced diet of news stories than, say, Lucianne. It presents a dozen stories on a single page and my eye jumps around and serendipitously discovers articles and ideas I almost certainly would have missed on the internet. The paper has more screen space and requires less scrolling. The paper is portable; I can carry it into the smallest room in my house.

On the other hand, I also need to wear glasses to read it. There's a 12 to 48 hour time lag on breaking stories, although this is not always bad. Yesterday I wasted an hour watching live streaming video from Hilo Bay, waiting for a tsunami that never arrived. This morning the paper covered the non-event in four sentences.

Neither can you google up information in a pile of dead trees. But boy is that paper durable. If I clip an article and put it in a box it will still be there twenty years from now. Not so the links on this blog.

All this has implications for Zeta Woof. My subscription will last at least a year, and that means that I will spend probably 500 fewer hours in front of this computer. I will continue to try to post at least daily, but more of the articles I link to will be on wsj.com and some of those will be behind a pay wall. I won't always check before I link.

One thing I promise. I will let you know how this experiment goes, and whether the dead-tree version of The Wall Street Journal is worth the money. Right now I think probably yes. But let's see if I renew a year from now at the non-discounted rate.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Short Final Cordova Muni

If you're going to fly in Alaska, and I'm starting to think about it, you should have some idea of what it's like to land on short gravel strips in challenging terrain. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities right here in Southern Oregon. In fact, the Department of Aviation has compiled a nice list of State Warning Airports.
These airports do not meet normal dimensional standards and have conditions that require specific pilot knowledge. They require special techniques and procedures to use safely and may not be usable by many aircraft under normal conditions.

If you have not flown into Cascade Locks, Crescent Lake, McKenzie Bridge, Owyhee Reservoir, Pacific City, Pinehurst, Santiam Junction, Toledo, or Wakonda Beach recently, we encourage you to contact us at (800) 874-0102 to get the latest information on them.
Of course you can practice short field, soft field, and go-around techniques on a 5000 foot paved runway, but there's nothing like the real thing to hone your skills and build your confidence. Plus, the Department would like to know that these fields are getting some use.
We also encourage you to use the "sign in" boxes we have at some of the state airports. This allows us to better assess the level of use at some of our smaller airports.
Use 'em or lose 'em, in other words.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

1-800-YUC-KFOO

Valuable consumer advice from Weasel & Stoat:
Guess what? Many voice recognition systems have been programmed to recognize bad language. If you get frustrated and start shouting wirty-dords down the line, you'll get connected to a human being, pronto. I learned to explode with profanity the moment I came up against a robot voice. I hope somebody's grandma wasn't "monitoring the call for quality control."
Miss Manners says it's OK in the privacy of your own office. Remember, it's just a machine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Son of Hamas

The Times Online.
The son of one of Hamas's founding members was a spy in the service of Israel for more than a decade, helping to prevent dozens of Islamist suicide bombers from finding their targets, it emerged yesterday.

Codenamed the "Green Prince" by Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of the Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, supplied key intelligence almost daily from 1996.
Via Drudge.

Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hospital Blogging

Randy (Toby's Bloggie-doo) is in the hospital with acute pancreatitis.

He's blogging it, when he can stay awake long enough to click Publish.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gridlock By Design

Rivkin and Casey in The Wall Street Journal.
As every school child once was taught, all federal laws must be first agreed to by both houses of Congress, which are themselves fundamentally different institutions with different constituencies, powers and interests. In addition, federal legislation must be acceptable to the president, or both houses must vote to override his veto by a two-thirds majority. As a result of these stringent requirements, the vast majority of legislative proposals never become law for the very reason that the necessary consensus is so often elusive....

In addition, the Senate was itself designed to serve as a brake on change. As explained by James Madison, also in the Federalist Papers, the Senate would be a "temperate and respectable body of citizens" able to check the citizenry when "stimulated by some irregular passion."

Taking this role seriously, the Senate did the framers one better by adopting the much abused filibuster rule. Today it requires that 60 senators agree to end debate on any particular measure before a vote can even be taken.

In short, the government established by the U.S. Constitution, as well as the document itself, is "conservative." Its default is the status quo, unless and until the advocates of change can secure a sufficient consensus to support their idea.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Is Getting Serious

“I'm sick of having cocktails with them. I'm now at war with them. No more cocktails!”

— Andrew Breitbart
Film at Max's.

Polls You May Have Missed

Oregon senator Ron Wyden may have some competition.
The first Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 telephone survey of likely voters in Oregon finds incumbent Democratic Senator Ron Wyden with a 49% to 35% lead over law professor Jim Huffman, the most prominent Republican reportedly considering running against him....

... Huffman, a political newcomer, is an unknown quantity to 43% of the voters in Oregon, while just nine percent (9%) don't know enough about Wyden to have an opinion of him. This suggests Huffman may be getting some support just because he isn't the Democrat.
In the governor's race the Democrats are putting up some has-beens.
Given Oregon's Democratic tendencies, it's perhaps no surprise that Kitzhaber and Bradbury win in every race at this early stage but in several cases just barely. Former state Senator John Lim and businessman Chris Dudley, an ex-professional basketball player, are the strongest of the Republicans so far....

Kitzhaber is in a virtual tie with Lim, leading 40% to 38%. Bradbury leads Lim by a similarly narrow 38% to 35% margin. Lim lost a 1998 Senate race to Democrat Ron Wyden, who may face a tighter reelection contest this year than he expected.

Dudley trails Kitzhaber by six points, 42% to 36%. Bradbury leads Dudley by a slim 39% to 36%.

Interesting Turn

The server at www.ronpaul.com is taking too long to respond.
Was it something he said?

More later, when I can find a transcript.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spook Lights of Marfa


“Raw Story pretty much puts a surreal, David Lynch-like cap on the big news story of the day. Meet Joe Stack — IRS kamikaze, country musician. Stack played accordion and bass for Texas singer and songwriter Billy Eli. He’s on the accordion in the video above.... ”
There's more, either at MediaElites or Raw Story, if you have the same morbid fascination with this story I have.

Section 1706

From Janet Ruhl's excellent book Answers For Computer Contractors.
Section 1706 did nothing but eliminate the exemption that had prevented computer programmers from having to meet the IRS's usual tests for independence. It was lobbied into law by a consortium of large consulting firms... [who] hoped that shifting contractors to W-2 status would drive smaller consulting firms out of the market...

Section 1706 passed into law with no public discussion. In fact, most contractors were unaware of its existence until it went into effect in January of 1987...
Section 1706 has probably cost me thousands of dollars. It's hard to say. And I live in fear of its provisions every day of my life. Admittedly, it's a very small fear, along about the lines of the fear that the FBI will decide I'm a white supremacist and start sniping at me from the hill above my house, but still.

Three felonies a day, folks, three felonies a day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Turdblossom Speaks

Karl Rove.
The Republican Party and the tea party movement have many common interests right now. But they are, and should remain, distinct from one another. This is one instance when, if they merged, the sum would be less than the parts.
Mr. Rove, hated by both sides, may have no bedrock principles. Be that as it may. In his area of expertise, as a political tactician, he has no peer. Take his advice to heart.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No One Left To Tax


I'm going to steal this video from Oregon Guy because you've got to see it.
Anybody who says "no" to LNG is saying "no" to family-wage jobs, and "no" to thier children. Anyone who says "no" to pipelines is saying "no" to family-wage jobs and those people's children. Anyone who says "no" to getting back in the forest and taking advantage of the abundant, renewable, sustainable, bio-friendly resource in the forest is saying "no" to family-wage children.

Anyone that says "no" about pulling water out of the Columbia, and irrigating thousands of arable acres -- anyone that says "no" to that is saying "no" to working families in this state and "no" to their children.

And yes, it's OK for Mr. Byerley to hand you out a fraction of your weekly wage because we just think that's OK.

That's what's going on in this state.

It's black or white, it's yes or no, it's up or down, and anybody that says anything but "yes" to those things and more is saying "no" to family-wage jobs in this state, and that's it.

I'm tired of talking. I've been processed to death for eight years in this building, and were going nowhere but down.

And we have no one left to tax.

Nobody's left to tax.
Schaufler's a Democrat. I don't care. I'm not a Democrat, and I'm not a Republican. I don't belong to any party any more, but I vote. And if I lived in Schaufler's district, I'd vote for him.

Take note, Republicans: the party's over.

Her Wife?

Hot off the press at Oregon's finest fish wrap:
Oregon assistant AG accused of strangling and punching her wife
"She" is Oregon's assistant attorney general Susan R. Gerber. Her "wife" is Janice Dulle. Does that make Ms. Gerber Ms. Dulle's "husband?"

All together now: Eeew.

I can't remember the last time in my adult life I was proud to be an Oregonian, but it was a long, long time ago.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day

Given the current state of the art and my generally foul mood, I thought I'd just post a picture of a giant rodent and let it go at that.

Story in the Daily Mail.

We've seen largish rabbits before.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Charlie Wilson’s Victory

I can't tell you how nice it is to read a real pulp newspaper again, particularly those three pages, A21, 22, and 23, the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, on which I have squandered so many of the happy hours of my youth.

Yes, I've subscribed again. After working out a deal to actually have it delivered to my door on the date of publication — previously I could only get it through the mail, two days to a week late — 52 weeks for $140 was money well spent. The particular leader in the photo above can be found online, but the experience of reading it off the screen in my office is entirely different, and infinitely less satisfying, that that of devouring it with coffee and eggs, in the dining room, surrounded by my family.

Welcome back, old dead tree news. I've missed you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Drill Here, Drill Now

ExxonMobil Production Company announced today that it has successfully drilled and cased PTU-15, the first development well for the Point Thomson project on Alaska's North Slope. ...

ExxonMobil drilled the well to a measured depth of over 16,000 feet. The shore-based rig directionally drilled under the Beaufort Sea to the targeted gas reservoir more than 1.5 miles offshore. ...

The Point Thomson project, located approximately 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay, is scheduled to commence production in 2014.
By way of Sarah Palin's Notes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Large Fries, Diet Coke

Michelle says childhood obesity is a national security issue.

You know why, don't you?

Can't fit the fat kids through the airport scanners!

Dare We Hope?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Diseases of Civilization

(Just a note to myself, and perhaps Max Redline.)
Most of these historical observations came from the colonial and missionary physicians like Schweitzer and Hutton, administering to populations prior to and coincidental with their first substantial exposure to Western foods. The new diet inevitably included carbohydrate foods that could be transported around the world without spoiling or being devoured by rodents on the way: sugar, molasses, white flour, and white rice. Then diseases of civilization, or Western diseases, would appear: obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and stroke, various forms of cancer, cavities, periodontal diseases, appendicitis, peptic ulcers, diverticulitis, gallstones, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and constipation. When any diseases of civilization appeared, all of them would eventually appear.
Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories, Chapter Five: Diseases of Civilization.

'Elf 'n' Safety

Mark Steyn has fun even at funerals.
Ahead of us, the pallbearers emerged from the hearse, very sober and reserved. And at that point they produced a contraption halfway between a supermarket cart and a gurney. "What's that?" asked someone....

"Oh, that's to roll the coffin in on," replied one of the pallbearers.

"Hang on," I said. "You're pallbearers. Aren't you going to carry the coffin?"

"Not allowed, mate. 'Elf 'n' Safety. The path's uneven."...

"Screw this," said my brother-in-law gallantly. "We'll carry it in." He motioned to me and a couple of other male relatives.

"You can't do that," protested the head pallbearer. "You're not licensed pallbearers."

"So what?" I said. "As you've just explained, a licensed pallbearer is explicitly licensed not to bear palls."
Want the punchline? Read it all.

Democrats' Biggest Nightmare

Paulette is 66 years old. She and her husband are retired. She has an active social life which includes lots of friends and competitive amateur tennis. She babysits her granddaughter and checks on her 92-year-old father in Florida every day. She told me she'd never been politically active, "except for voting, of course."

But all that changed after Barack Obama's election....
Read it all at American Thinker.

Monday, February 08, 2010

In The Mail Today

Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future by Ben J. Wattenberg.

As Spock would say, and without a trace of irony, "Fascinating."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Swift Kick

The IRS may be an evil, malevolent force but it's strictly impersonal. They don't care whether you're up or down. When you're up they kick you in the nuts and when you're down they kick you in the teeth. It's all the same to them.

Last year I was up, and I earned about 30% more in income. The IRS wants 100% more in taxes. Which means that I basically worked October through December last year for 30¢ on the dollar. Man do my nuts hurt.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Rock Star

Professor Reynolds has some backstage snaps of Sarah Palin at the Tea Party Convention.

Those heels!

I'm sorry if I'm being disrespectful, but I was just a little bit reminded of this.

And for all the ladies of a certain age that think she's too pretty to be President: Nobody, not even Sarah Palin, gets to be 45 with a 17-year-old body.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Real Story Behind the Numbers

John R. Lott, Jr. explains that 9.7% number.
There are two ways economists measure the number of jobs, the establishment survey that asks about 370,000 employers how many people they are employing and the household survey that asks about 110,000 people each month whether they are working....

The problem is that the two surveys have reached different estimates, with the household survey showing a significantly greater drop in the number of jobs than the establishment survey. And it turns out that there might be a simple reason for that....     ...the Bureau makes an assumption that the jobs created at new companies is about equal to the jobs lost at companies that go out of business.

Unfortunately, that assumption hasn't worked during the current recession. Firms have been going out of business and news ones haven't sprung up to take their place.
If my snippets are too brief, read the whole thing.

You Wise Guys Don't Know

This illustration is from The Bell Curve by Charles Murray, p. 46.

Study it for a moment. If, like me, you find that most of your friends, co-workers, and acquaintances have college degrees, then it is quite possible that you don't know anyone with an IQ much below 100.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mayor Truax,

Would it be too much to ask you to place the question of whether we want light rail in Forest Grove on the November ballot? With all the problems it brings and with its exorbitant price tag, I think it should be the people of Forest Grove -- and not you alone -- to decide if we want this boondoggle.

Before you start spending our money -- and make no mistake, the money Obama is printing is still our money -- can you first fix all the broken sidewalks in the Old Town?

Don't you know or refuse to accept that light rail is the least efficient mode of transportation? The traffic congestion never improves because the rail doesn't go where people want to go. More importantly, this thing is just insanely expensive. You could build another TV highway, put several buses on it and still have some money left to fix the street in front of my house. There is a huge pothole that fills with water whenever it rains; I've been complaining about it for 10 years now but nobody cares. I guess the problem is too pedestrian for you.

If you want to erect another monument to government arrogance and your own vanity, here is an idea. Pave the rails over, paint some stripes and, look, there is a bike lane; you can even call it after yourself. How about Truaxway? You will solve two problems: you will take crazy cyclists off the TV Highway and forever bury the temptation for the ruling class to flush our money down the rail.
-- the Polish Immigrant

Winged words. I wish we had a hundred like him.

He Said It

Innominatus.
Jim Treacher... got Kerrigan'd be the Secret Service last night. They used to say "beware the black helicopters" but because of Barry's unholy deficits they can't afford them and are now using black SUVs. Keep your head on a swivel, people!

UPDATE: Now they're saying it wasn't Secret Service but rather State Department Security. Translation: Hillary going for a drug-induced joyride with her face out the window like a Labrador.
I don't LOL lightly, but I'm ROFL.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Obummer's Budget

Thanks to local blogger My Back Pages who found this at the Guardian. They, in turn, found all their numbers at the OMB.

You too can download all sorts of official budget numbers, including historical trends (my favorites), in convenient XLS spreadsheet format. Play with them, make your own graphs, look upon them, ye taxpayers, and despair!

Google: Assimilate or Die

Mountain View, CA:
Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index

Executives at Google, the rapidly growing online-search company that promises to "organize the world's information," announced Monday the latest step in their expansion effort: a far-reaching plan to destroy all the information it is unable to index.

"Our users want the world to be as simple, clean, and accessible as the Google home page itself," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a press conference held in their corporate offices. "Soon, it will be."
OK, that's The Onion, but they have an uncanny way of predicting the future.

As of March 27, 2010, this blog — and thousands of others like it — will no longer be "Powered by Blogger." Google's cutting off the publishing function to any blog hosted on the user's own domain. "All your servers are belong to us" seems to be their new motto.

To hell with that.

Zeta Woof isn't going anywhere. I've written HTML by hand, and I've written code to write HTML. I'll cobble together the tools I need to publish this blog myself. I will never give in to the dork side of this farce.

"Don't be evil." Indeed.

Google is evil incarnate.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Ground Hog Day

I set the can of ground hog outside this morning and it cast no shadow at all. I believe that means an early spring.

Update: It's a new tradition. In the morning I'll divine the climate forecast with tinned meat products, and in the evening we'll celebrate with a ham loaf, baked by my lovely bride.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Hounds from Hell

In the New York Post.
Savage beagles terrorize East End

These floppy-eared terrors are no lovable Snoopys -- they're abandoned hunting dogs that live in packs and have gone from humble pets to hounds from hell.
Another sign of the end times.

(Via Taranto)