Monday, February 28, 2011

New Toy

smot_phon_thumb.jpgI just got the HTC Inspire smart phone, which is really a hand held computer that happens to make phone calls.

It sure is addictive.

It runs the Android OS and the SDK uses Java, which means that with a short and not very steep learning curve, I can write software for it.

And speaking of software, if you can read this it means that the extensive refactoring of my BlogWare™ has gone without a hitch.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Double Climb

I climbed to the top of Nugget Butte yesterday. It's a four mile round trip with 1400 feet of elevation gain. At the old radio beacon tower I sat down to change my socks. I keep a lace hook on my key ring, so I took it out to tighten my laces for the steep walk down. I tightened my left boot laces and set my keys down. Then I tightened my right boot laces and set my keys down. Then I stood up and walked back down the mountain.

When I was emptying my pockets to get into the shower I thought, "Uh oh, where's my keys?" Of course I knew right away where they were. I took my shower, put on clean clothes, took a couple of naproxen, and headed back up.

I've been saying for years that I'll know I'm ready for Thielsen when I can do Nugget Butte twice in one day. I guess I'm ready.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nom Nom Nom

nom_nom_nom.jpgRev. Paul has pictures of a vicious polar bear attack.

Apparently the victim survived.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rage Against The (Digital) Machine

analog_to_digital_notes.jpgFrancis Fukuyama in WSJ Weekend.
There is no inherent reason why digital music has to sound worse than analog; the problem was all in implementation and standards. About 10 years ago Sony introduced a new digital format, the Super Audio Compact Disc, that could finally hold its own against good quality vinyl records. But SACDs never caught on, and the mass market moved in exactly the opposite direction with the spread of MP3s and iPods. The MP3 is a digital compression technology that throws away a lot of information in order to reduce file size. It's quantity over quality, essentially. Listening to an iPod through a high-end audio system is a painful experience and a big step backward even from the Red Book CD standard by which all musical compact discs have been encoded since the 1980s.
He makes another telling point.
Older cameras were far better built.... [My Leica M3], with its f/2 Summicron, a classic, fast, tack-sharp lens, still takes beautiful pictures. How many digital cameras will still be functioning five years from now, much less 50? Where are you going to buy new batteries and the media to store your photos in 2061?
Read it all, or better yet, subscribe. There's nothing like a thick pile of newsprint next to your coffee on a cold winter weekend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

No Turning Back

Obama's Democrats have become the party of no. Real cuts to the federal budget? No. Entitlement reform? No. Tax reform? No. Breaking the corrupt and fiscally unsustainable symbiosis between public-sector unions and state governments? Hell no.

We have heard everyone — from Obama's own debt commission to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — call the looming debt a mortal threat to the nation. We have watched Greece self-immolate. We can see the future. The only question has been: When will the country finally rouse itself?

Amazingly, the answer is now. Led by famously progressive Wisconsin — Scott Walker at the state level and Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan at the congressional level — a new generation of Republicans has looked at the debt and is crossing the Rubicon. Recklessly principled, they are putting the question to the nation: Are we a serious people?
Charles Krauthammer in National Review.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow

snow_mailboxes_thumb.jpgWe got a little last night, wet and heavy. Nothing stuck to the pavement, so school as usual.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dinner With Young Obama

John Drew, former Marxist, was there in 1980.
They believed that the economic stresses of the Carter years meant revolution was still imminent. The election of Reagan was simply a minor set-back in terms of the coming revolution. As I recall, Obama repeatedly used the phrase "When the revolution comes...." In my mind, I remember thinking that Obama was blindly sticking to the simple Marxist theory that had characterized my own views while I was an undergraduate at Occidental College. "There's going to be a revolution," Obama said, "we need to be organized and grow the movement." In Obama's view, our role must be to educate others so that we might usher in more quickly this inevitable revolution.

I know this may be implausible to some readers, but I distinctly remember Obama surprising me by bringing up Frantz Fanon and colonialism. He impressed me with his knowledge of these two topics, topics which were not among my strong points -- or of overwhelming concern to me. Boss and Obama seemed to think their ideological purity was a persuasive argument in predicting that a coming revolution would end capitalism. While I felt I was doing them a favor by providing them with the latest research, I saw I was in danger of being cast as a reactionary who did not grasp the nuances of international Marxist theory.
As time goes on more and more of these accounts will come to light. There's a leak in the memory hole; it's called the internet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Idiot Savant

Watson did not understand the questions, nor its answers, nor that some of its answers were right and some wrong, nor that it was playing a game, nor that it won—because it doesn't understand anything.
Idiot, anyway.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Did You Get Your SWeasel Today?

Because if you didn't, you're not getting your full measure of snark.

It's on my side bar, and it's there for a reason.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Do Like My Prokofiev

frautschi_prokofiev.jpgThis came in the mail a week ago and I've listened to it dozen times since then. Each time I like it more. Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 with Jennifer Frautschi and the Seattle Symphony. Turn it up to eleven.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hmmm...

The US government is offering private intelligence companies contracts to create software to manage "fake people" on social media sites and create the illusion of consensus on controversial issues.

The contract calls for the development of "Persona Management Software" which would help the user create and manage a variety of distinct fake profiles online.
Oh, yeah? Well, friend you too, buddy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Well Like Yeah

Clark Whelton noticed it back in 1985.
The first applicant was a young man from NYU. During the interview, he spiked his replies so heavily with "like" that I mentioned his frequent use of the word. He seemed confused by my comment and replied, "Well . . . like . . . yeah." Now, nobody likes a grammar prig. All's fair in love and language, and the American lingo is in constant motion. "You should," for example, has been replaced by "you need to." "No" has faded into "not really." "I said" is now "I went." As for "you're welcome," that's long since become "no problem." Even nasal passages are affected by fashion. Quack-talking, the rasping tones preferred by many young women today, used to be considered a misfortune.
What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness, in City Journal. (Thanks to David Handy.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Slacker Dudes

As counterpoint to Kay S. Hymowitz's weekend whine Where Have The Good Men Gone? Nathan Rabin gives us Two Cheers for the Slacker Dude.

slacker_dudes.jpg
From left to right, Bebo co-founder Michael Birch, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Directi co-founder Divyank Turakhia.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Watch That Compass

Matt Ridley has a weekly column in WSJ. Fun stuff.
The earth's magnetic field is weakening at an accelerating rate. It is 15% weaker than it was at the time the north magnetic pole was "discovered"—and claimed for King William IV—by a British explorer in 1831. Should we be worried?

What's more, the north magnetic pole, after meandering through Canadian islands for half a millennium, is heading off across the Arctic Ocean toward Russia at the breakneck speed of 37 miles a year. It will pass close to the geographical North Pole in a few years. With the dastardly Russians about to pinch this British heirloom, should we be doubly worried?
Keep your charts updated.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Endangered Jobs

Andy Kessler has news for Sloppers, Slimers, Sponges, and Thieves: your jobs are going away.
Thieves have a government mandate to make good money and a franchise that could disappear with the stroke of a pen. You know many of them: phone companies, cable operators and cellular companies are the obvious ones. But there are more annoying ones—asbestos testing and removal, plus all the regulatory inspectors who don't add value beyond making sure everyone pays them....
Can't afford you any more. Go away.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Truculent Turtle

turtle_postflight_life_cover_thumb.jpgIn 1946 the crew of the Turtle left Perth, Australia and flew non-stop for 55 hours and 17 minutes, landing in Columbus, Ohio, a distance 11,236 miles. The record they set for distance in a piston/propeller driven aircraft stood for forty years.

Story and pictures here.

Thanks to Gully, whose Dad researched and wrote the story.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Lunch

valentines_lunch_thumb.jpgJust Leslie and I. The kids were still in school.

Little lobster tails, snow crab legs, scallop soup, and... cheesecake!

Monday, February 14, 2011

In the Mail Today

farnsworths_rhetoric.jpgA few years back, feeling that I had a fairly good grasp of logic and grammar, I set out searching for a good primer on the third art of the trivium. There were none.

There is now. Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric by Ward Farnsworth.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One of Those Ninth Amendment Things

Max wants to know When Were Spears Banned, And By Whom?
It was interesting to see that a Montana legislator has introduced Senate Bill 112 to allow spear hunting once again....

I can't imagine why such tools would have been banned in the first place. They're an important part of the human heritage.
And absolutely essential if you're going full paleo.

Update: My correspondent from Alabama informs me that it is legal there to hunt deer with a spear during bow season, and feral swine year round.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Visual Display of Quantitative Information

swap_meet_import_export_chart_thumb.jpgNice chart in the Weekend Journal this morning.

The article itself may be behind the pay wall, but a picture is worth a thousand words anyway. Click the pic to see the complete image.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interesting New Blog

New to me, anyway. By way of Instapundit through FuturePundit, the Whole Health Source blog.
My name is Stephan Guyenet. My goal is to live well, and help others do the same. I received a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia in 2002, and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Washington in 2009. Professionally, I study the neurobiology of body fat regulation....
His blogroll, full of doctors, leans toward the paleo side.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Small Town Autodidact

Tom Shippey on Robert E. Howard.
Asking where authors get their ideas from is a futile occupation (they come out of their heads). But it might be possible to figure out where Howard, out there in rural 1920s Texas, got his scenarios from. Lovecraft made a suggestive remark when he criticized Howard for using names that were too close to real-world myth: Asgard, Vanaheim, Cimmeria, Zingara, Acheron, Stygia, Kush. Howard had been reading Bulfinch's "Mythology" but must have taken in some medieval and classical history too.

This historical interest shows up in "Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures"—an additional 20-plus Howard items, illustrated by John Watkiss, in settings from 11th-century Ireland (Gaels and Vikings) to 16th-century France ("The Three Musketeers" on speed and steroids). In between are Crusaders and Saracens, Cossacks and Corsairs, Tatars and Franks. All are drawn—as Scott Oden's introduction establishes beyond doubt—from the surprising amount of pop history available to a Depression-era autodidact in a small town. Howard consistently boosted barbarism over civilization, but his own life shows clearly the effects of trickle-down culture.
You can thank Andrew Carnegie for that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lunch Hour Read

Nice short little piece.

Bedtime for Bonzo's Behaviorist Bent by Steve Sailer in Taki's Magazine.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dissidence Is Futile

It rarely accomplishes anything. The dissident's dream is that one day the great mass of people will come to see things his way. That practically never happens.
Derb's latest dirge.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Give Me The Condensed Version

taubes_readers_digest.jpgGary Taubes wrote Good Calories, Bad Calories to persuade doctors and scientists. But at nearly six hundred pages including endnotes and bibliography, it's a bit too long and way too difficult for most people.

So now he has written Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, which lays out his argument in 200 pages, short and simple.

If that's still too much for you to manage, you could pick up a copy of this month's Reader's Digest. Lisa Davis interviews Taubes and he lays out his entire argument in just eight pages.

Would you read eight pages to save your life?

No?

(Throws up hands.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Table Rock Gang

upper_table_rock_2_2011_thumb.jpgLizzy and her boyfriend Jonathan came down for a visit. Yesterday we hiked the Upper Table Rock. The weather was mostly cloudy, which as Leslie pointed out actually means partly sunny — perfect weather for hiking.

Afterward we played Risk, The Game of Global Domination. The girls took Africa, South America, and Australia, and amassed enormous armies while the boys waged wars of attrition over North America and Europe. Guess who won?

We interrupted the game to go out to dinner at La Fiesta in Jacksonville. Lizzy worked there three summers ago and they all had to stop by our table to chat.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

100 Years Ago Today

reagan_american_life.jpgRonald Reagan was born.

There are plenty of tribute articles all over the internet today. I'm not going to recommend any. Reagan demands more study than a half page newspaper article. Some day when you have more time you should read his biography.

I've read half a dozen. You could do worse than to start with the one he wrote himself, An American Life.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Global Food Price Inflation

chart-of-the-day-food-prices-feb-2011.jpgAs Alan says, there's a reason food and energy are not components of the CPI: That's where inflation shows up first.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Re: Ground Hog Day

The ground hog awoke today, on the left coast at least, to brilliant blue skies horizon to horizon. Shadow? No question. As he turned, momentarily blinded, from the sun, he had no choice but to see his shadow. When the spots went away, there it was.

So, according to legend: six more weeks of winter.

I've always thought that a clever deception. Six more weeks of winter or an early spring. Since ground hog day comes on February 2, exactly seven weeks before the official beginning of Spring, and if you call one week early early, then who cares what the ground hog sees? Shadow or no shadow, it's all the same!

I celebrated with spam and eggs. Not much ground hog in that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

'Death Panels' Revisited

I wish blogging were as easy as Facebook. I could just "like" something and be done with it. But as a blogger I have to provide an intro, a link, and hopefully a snarky comment for each new "aha!" discovery.

Well, bother that.

Go read Taranto, now. I LIKE.