Friday, April 29, 2011

If You Go Chasing Rabbits

grace_slick_interview.jpgInterviewing Grace Slick in The Wall Street Journal.

One of my childhood heroes.

There. Now you know how old I am.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Simplify, Simplify

deep_country_neil_ansell.jpgToby Lichtig reviews Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills, by Neil Ansell.
He may be able to walk to the nearest town, but his dilapidated Victorian gamekeeper's cottage in a mid-Wales wood is so far off the beaten track that he is able to keep count of the passers- by whom he encounters during a five-year period of isolation: "Not one." The house itself has no electricity or running water, has been uninhabited for fifty years and is situated on an exposed patch of ground in an environment so blasted that it appears to "rain uphill." "Deep Country" is Mr. Ansell's account of "a hard life freely chosen," of solitude and self-sufficiency, of "the hidden places that I came to call my own."
A little further off than Walden's pond.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pollster Walks Into A Bar

And asks, "Right Direction or Wrong Track?"

I hate that question.

We're not on a track at all. We're not even on a road. We're out in the middle of a big field on a cloudy day in the fog milling about. We can't even tell if we're going forward or backward, or if we are, in which direction. All I know is I don't like it. Not one little bit.

So I guess my answer would be "No."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

By moving from Missouri to Alaska, we traded thunderstorms, floods and tornadoes for earthquakes, blizzards and volcanoes. Right now, I'm thinking we got the better deal.
Rev. Paul, Way Up North.

Monday, April 25, 2011

$1,730,045.91 New + $3.99 shipping

Michael Eisen discovered it.
A few weeks ago a postdoc in my lab logged on to Amazon to buy the lab an extra copy of Peter Lawrence's The Making of a Fly — a classic work in developmental biology that we — and most other Drosophila developmental biologists — consult regularly. The book, published in 1992, is out of print. But Amazon listed 17 copies for sale: 15 used from $35.54, and 2 new from $1,730,045.91 (+$3.99 shipping).
My first thought was that's a heavy book — they're going to lose money on the shipping. But seriously... this explains the crazy pricing we occasionally see on Amazon's used books.

Via Improbable Research.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hamburger All Over the Highway in Sector R

Madras, Oregon:
A semi hauling frozen beef hit a cow and burst into flames Tuesday night on Highway 97.

The driver was not injured, but the impact killed the cow.

The truck hit the cow around 9 p.m., causing the driver to lose control and swerve into oncoming traffic. The truck sideswiped another big rig before catching fire and burning to the ground...
Via David Handy - Blogger.

The headline (since you asked) refers to something we listened to forty years ago. Teacher couldn't get us to learn a dozen lines of Shakespeare, but we memorized entire albums of Firesign Theatre for free.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Corvallis, Portland, Salem, Tigard

Atlas-Shrugged-Movie-Poster_250.jpgIt's doing better.
"Shocking," one executive said about the healthy business the low-budget film has been doing, considering its "awful" marketing plan.

Awful or not, business has been brisk enough for producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro to expand from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month.
We're still waiting in Medford.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tracking Your Every Move

Read Write Web:
Researchers have discovered that the iPhone is keeping track of where you go and storing that information in a file that is stored — unencrypted and unprotected — on any machine with which you synchronize your phone. It is not clear why Apple is collecting this data.
It's right there in a file called "consolidated.db".
In addition to the existence of the tracking mechanism, the information is incredibly accessible. To demonstrate this, Warden and Allan have created a simple downloadable app that will let Apple users check to see what location information has been stored. The app is fascinating, but also pretty frightening as it demonstrates that anyone with access to your phone or to your back-up files will be able to see where you have been since you installed iOS 4 on your phone.
Found it on page B2 of the Journal this morning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hunter Gatherers Plan Gathering

ancestral_health_symposium.pngBilling itself as "the Woodstock of evolutionary medicine" the Ancestral Health Symposium will convene over forty paleo luminaries on August 5th and 6th in Los Angeles. Confirmed speakers include John Durant, Lierre Keith, Stephan Guyenet, and Gary Taubes.

Via Whole Health Source.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

John Derbyshire

Addressing the youth of America.
Give the dissident temperament a little respect. When dissidents are obnoxious or nutty, which we often are, cut them some slack. Bring your own critical faculties to bear on the things they talk about, and always check the source materials. Try to learn to spot an urban legend or a convenient truth, especially one you hear a lot from not-very-well-informed people. If, when passing through a public square, you see that they're burning a heretic at the stake, at the very least don't join in the applause.

Monday, April 18, 2011

“It Starts Here! It Starts Now!”

We don't usually quote at length on this blog; we grab the sound bits and leave the bytes to you; follow the links if you care to. But this time is different. This time we quote in its entirety the speech that Sarah Palin delivered to the Tax Day Tea Party in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 15, 2011. This is the official transcript except that we have bolded the best lines. Enjoy.
Hello, Madison, Wisconsin! You look good. I feel like I'm at home. This is beautiful. Madison, I am proud to get to be with you today. Madison, these are the frontlines in the battle for the future of our country. This is where the line has been drawn in the sand. And I am proud to stand with you today in solidarity.

I am here today as a patriot, as a taxpayer, as a former union member, and as the wife of a union member. What I have to say today I say it to our good patriotic brothers and sisters who are in unions. I say this, too, proudly standing here as the daughter of a family full of school teachers. My parents, my grandparents, aunt, cousins, brother, sister — so many of these good folks are living on teachers' pensions, having worked or are still working in education.

A pension is a promise that must be kept. Now, your Governor Scott Walker understands this. He understands that states must be solvent in order to keep their promises. And that's what he's trying to do. He's not trying to hurt union members. Hey, folks, he's trying to save your jobs and your pensions! But unfortunately some of your union bosses don't understand this, and they don't care if union members have to be laid off. No, they want to protect their own power, and if that means forcing a governor to lay off union workers, then so be it; they've proven that is fine with them. But that's not real solidarity! Real solidarity means coming together for the common good. This Tea Party movement is real solidarity!

Well, I am in Madison today because this is where real courage and real integrity can be found. Courage is your governor and your legislators standing strong in the face of death threats and thug tactics. Courage is you all standing strong with them! You saw the forces aligned against fiscal reform. You saw the obstruction and the destruction. You saw these violent rent-a-mobs trash your capital and vandalize businesses.

Madison, you held your ground. Your governor did the right thing. And you won. Your beautiful state won. And you know what — people still have their jobs because of it! That's courage. And that's integrity. And that's something that's sorely missing in the Beltway today.

Because let me tell you what isn't courageous: It's politicians promising the American voters that, as we drown in $14.5 trillion debt, that they're going to cut $100 billion out of this year's budget. But then they cave on that and they reduce it down to $61 billion after they get elected. Then they get in there and they strike a deal and decide, nah, they will reduce that down to $38 billion. And then after some politics-as-usual and accounting gimmicks, we find out it's not $38 billion in cuts. You know that $38 billion — we don't have it; we're borrowing it. We borrow from foreign countries to give to foreign countries, and that's insanity. We find out it's not even $38 billion; it's less than $1 billion in real cuts. Folks, that $352 million in real cuts — that's no more than the federal government is going to spend in the time it takes us to hold this rally today! That is not courage; that's capitulation!

Now, there's a lesson here for the Beltway politicos, something they need to understand; the lesson comes from here in Madison. So, our lesson is to the GOP establishment first. And yeah, I'll take on the GOP establishment. What more can they say about us, you know?

So, to the GOP establishment: if you stand on the platform, if you stand by your pledges, we will stand with you. We will fight with you, GOP. We have your back. Together we will win because America will win!

We didn't elect you just to re-arrange the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. We didn't elect you to just stand back and watch Obama re-distribute those deck chairs. What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight. Maybe I should ask some of the Badger women's hockey team — those champions — maybe I should ask them if we should be suggesting to GOP leaders they need to learn how to fight like a girl!

And speaking of President Obama, I think we ought to pay tribute to him today at this Tax Day Tea Party because really he's the inspiration for why we're here today.

That's right. The Tea Party Movement wouldn't exist without Barack Obama.

You see, Candidate Obama didn't have a record while he was in office; but President Obama certainly has a record, and that's why we're here. And hey, media, it's not inciting violence and it's not hateful rhetoric to call someone out on their record, so that's what we're going to do. We're going to do it to be clear. That's right: we're here, we're clear, get used to it!

Candidate Obama promised to be fiscally responsible. He promised to cut the deficit; but President Obama tripled it!

Candidate Obama promised that fiscal responsibility; but President Obama flushed a trillion dollars down the drain on a useless "stimulus" package and then he bragged about the jobs he "created" in congressional districts that don't even exist! That's right; on this, White House, you lie. The only thing that trillion-dollar travesty stimulated was a debt-crisis and a Tea Party!

Now, the left's irresponsible and radical policies awakened a sleeping America so that we understood finally what it was that we were about to lose. We were about to lose the blessings of liberty and prosperity. They caused the working men and women of this country to get up off their sofas, to come down from the deer stand, get out of the duck blind, and hit the streets, come to the town halls, and finally to the ballot box. And Tea Party Americans won an electoral victory of historic proportions last November. We the people, we rose up and we decisively rejected the left's big government agenda. We don't want it. We can't afford it. And we are unwilling to pay for it.

But what was the president's reaction to this mandate for fiscal sanity?

Less than 90 days after the election, in his State of the Union address, President Obama told us, nah, the era of big government is here to stay, and we're going to pay for it whether we want to or not. Instead of reducing spending, they're going to "Win The Future" by "investing" more of your hard-earned money in some cockamamie harebrained ideas like more solar shingles, more really fast trains — some things that venture capitalists will tell you are non-starters. We're flat broke, but he thinks these solar shingles and really fast trains will magically save us. So now he's shouting "all aboard" his bullet train to bankruptcy. "Win The Future"? W.T.F. is about right.

And when Wisconsin's own Paul Ryan presented a plan for fiscal reform, what was Obama's response? He demonized the voices of responsibility with class warfare and with fearmongering. And I say personally to our president: Hey, parent to parent, Barack Obama, for shame for you to suggest that the heart of the commonsense conservative movement would do anything to harm our esteemed elders, to harm our children with Down syndrome, to harm those most in need. No, see, in our book, you prioritize appropriately and those who need the help will get the help. The only way we do that is to be wise and prudent and to budget according to the right priorities.

Now, our president isn't leading, he's punting on this debt crisis. The only future Barack Obama is trying to win is his own re-election! He's willing to mortgage your children's future to ensure his own. And that is not the audacity of hope. That's cynicism!

Piling more debt onto our children and grandchildren is not courage. No, that's cowardice!

But did you notice when he gave that polarizing speech last week there was a little gem in the speech. Maybe you missed it. But he spoke about the social contract and the "social compact." Well, Mr. President, the most basic tenet in that social compact is adhering to the consent of the governed. That would be "We the People."

President Obama, you do not have our consent. You didn't have it in November. And you certainly don't have it now. You willfully ignored the will of the American people.

You ignored it when you rammed through Obamacare.

You ignored it when you drove up the debt to $14.5 trillion.

You ignored it when you misrepresented your deficit spending.

You ignored it when you proposed massive tax increases on the middle class and on our job creators.

You ignored it when you went to bat for government-funded abortions and yet you threw our brave men and women in uniform under the bus, Mr. Commander in Chief.

You ignored it when you got us into a third war for fuzzy and inconsistent reasons, a third war that we cannot afford.

You ignore it when you apologize for America while you bow and kowtow to our enemies, and you snub our allies like Israel.

And you ignore when you manipulate the U.S. oil supply. You cut off oil development here and then you hypocritically praise foreign countries for their drilling.

And when hardworking families are hit with $4 and $5 a gallon gas and your skyrocketing energy and food prices as you set out to fundamentally transform America, you ignore our concerns and you tell us we just better get used to it.

Well, Mr. President, we're not going to get used to it. Not now. Not ever. You ignored us in 2010. But you cannot ignore us in 2012.

Mr. President, you and your cohorts threw all the hatred and all the violence you could at these good folks in Madison, Wisconsin. But you lost here.

And Madison, you defended the 2010 electoral mandate. You are heroes, you are patriots, and when the history of this Tea Party Movement is written, what you accomplished here will not be forgotten.

Your historic stand brought down the curtain on the last election. And the 2012 election begins here.

We will take the courage and the integrity that you showed all of America. We will take it and we will win back our country!

God has shed His grace on thee, America. We will not squander what we have.

We will fight for America! And it starts here in Madison, Wisconsin!

It starts here! It starts now! What better place than the state that hosts the Super Bowl champs to call out the liberal left and let them know: Mr. President, game on!

God bless you, Wisconsin, and God bless America!

- Sarah Palin

Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Available In This Area

Atlas-Shrugged-Movie-Poster_250.jpgAs it turns out we won't be going to see Atlas Shrugged today, or any time soon. The nearest theater showing it is in Tigard, a 4½ hour drive away.

What can we do about that? Not a lot, probably, although the Atlas Shrugged people have some suggestions, none of which involves actually shrugging.

Hey, if Cinemark doesn't want my money that's fine with me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grass Pants Symph'ny Repo't

Oh, just the usual, you know. Little fiddles on the left, big fiddles on the right, horns in the back. Guy up front waving a stick at 'em. This one fiddler he stood up the whole time and man did he play some weird stuff.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fun Cars for Less Than $3000

In Popular Mechanics.
Being DIY types with our hands tight on our wallets, we've always been enthusiastic cheap-car purveyors. And as a result, we've gotten far more fun than we paid for from inexpensive used cars. So we thought we'd pass along our favorite budget used cars. If you don't pay much for the car, you're less inclined to worry about it, and consequently, you'll have more fun.
I can guarantee that. I've never paid more than $1000 for a car, and every one has been a blast.

Don't believe me? Here's the list.
72 Chevy Impala. Bought in 1986 for $500. Over the next ten years I put in a new timing chain, two distributors, a water pump, and a fuel pump. Finally sold it for $100 with 250,000 miles on the original engine.

63 Impala. This was my wife's actually. She paid about $2000 for it, put a Maaco paint job on it, and drove it for about five years, during which time we swapped in a rebuilt engine. Then I drove it for another three or four years. Finally she sold it — for $6000. Made a profit on that one.

A pair of Metros for $1000. One was wrecked with a good engine, the other was straight with a shot engine. Pulled the old switcheroo. When some guy rear-ended me I pocketed the insurance money and put the red hatch on the blue car. Once on the freeway I passed a red Metro with a blue hatch. We just looked at each other and laughed.

83 BMW 320. Owned by a little old lady who only drove it to bingo. Her daughter sold it to me. "We just want to get rid of it," she said. "I'd go as low as $850." I said OK, put a nice CD player in it and drove it back and forth to Livermore, CA — 6½ hours each way, frequently non-stop.
I'm still driving that one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Role Reversal

I used to joke that I was waiting to see a Hollywood movie about an idealistic young property developer beset by evil environmentalists. Ha! Like we'll ever see that.

Well, actually, Fred Barnes says, there's this new movie out...
The role reversal in Atlas Shrugged may shock viewers. Unless they've read the book, they won't be expecting a businessman and a businesswoman whose for-profit endeavors benefit society. In movies and TV, that role is usually played by the altruist, the liberal, the government employee, the inspector, the high-minded professor — the do-gooder, as we used to refer to them.

In Atlas Shrugged, those folks are the villains. They regulate. Rather than generate wealth, they redistribute it. They're the crony capitalists, corrupt scientists, well-connected lobbyists, and union officials who seek special privileges while demanding "fairness." How often have you seen such a group of characters cast as this in a movie or television show? Probably never. But we see them in real life. And in that sense, Atlas Shrugged is realistic. It's closer to the way the world works than almost any movie you might see.
Fred says it's a good movie, and he's no film critic, so that's an honest opinion. I think I'll give it a try, maybe Monday.

Thanks to Jim Wickre for spotting this.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Schatzker on Steak

My favorite food blogger sent me a link to an article that Mark Schatzker wrote last May: Having a Cow About Steak Quality.
For flavor reasons, be wary of steak from a cow younger than 20 months. Ask how much the cow weighed when it was slaughtered, because any cow weighing less than 1,000 pounds is almost always too lean to be delicious. Ask about the breed. Be wary of "Continental" breeds, such as Charolais or Limousin, which do very well in feedlots and terribly on grass. Look for British breeds like Hereford, Galloway and Angus. And if you should find grass-fed Wagyu, buy it.
Mr. Schatzker has written the book on steak. It's on my wish list.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Soaking Wet Songkran

songkran.jpgJerry the Lounge Lizard is planning on staying in his apartment for the next three days during the Songkran festival. He doesn't say why, but it could be because he likes to stay dry. What began as a quaint old Buddhist custom of pouring scented water on statues has evolved into the world's largest water gun fight.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Seething Hatred

Starting in on the taxes. I hate liberals.

Hate 'em. Hate 'em. Hate 'em.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

Actually it was Saturday, but still.
So John Q. Public is wheeled in with an arterial bleeder, and Dr. Reid says a bandaid should fix it, while Dr. Boehner wants one of those little 3'' gauze squares. They compromise on a 2'' gauze pad, but with only one strip of tape.
Tam said it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fateful Choice

mayor_futoshi_tobas_house_thumb.pngWhen the tsunami struck Mayor Futoshi Toba had to choose between his city and his family. This is what was left of his house. His wife is dead; his two young sons, who were at school on higher ground, survived.

Meanwhile in the Fukushima reactor story it appears that grandstanding by the prime minister may have actually made things worse.
Controversy surrounds Mr. Kan's visit to Fukushima Daiichi around 7 a.m. on March 12, the day after the quake. Passing by workers sleeping on the floor wrapped in blankets, Mr. Kan sat down with the two top officials at the plant in a small conference room for a 20-minute meeting. He asked technical questions and offered advice on how to tame the overheating reactors, according to one aide.

The question is whether the visit delayed venting of the No. 1 reactor. By 10 p.m. the previous day, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency regulators had projected that the fuel core inside that reactor would start melting in the early hours of the next day and called for urgent venting to release pressure, according to a timeline released by the agency. The venting began a few hours after Mr. Kan left.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Struggling with a YouTube Upload

On some blogs all the fun is in the comments.
Mono: Well, obviously it's all this damnable technology. Back in my dad's day they uploaded their videos to youtube using kerosene...

Hark: And it was uphill both ways. In a driving snow storm.

Hell: barefoot...

Nina: Kerosene, yeah... My old man had to use a hand crank upload because we were too poor to buy the kerosene. Life was tough back in the day.

Jannie: Kerosene? Pah! I have to fill my computer with coal and water before I can log on. Young people don't know they're born nowadays.

Bruce: Try using Kermit... I got your Y and Z modem. Seven start, one stop, no parity. Oh and make sure the pin-outs on your cable are correct.

Sven: Young whipper-snappers and all this newfangled indoor plumbing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Get Plump, Ladies!

Fat-ten-u_2.pngDoctor Stephan spotted this one.

Back then a slim figure was associated with poverty and disease. Putting on a few pounds — how does she do it? — would make you appear healthy and wealthy to your poor hungry neighbors.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where do we keep the molten lead?


Monday, April 4, 2011

Standard Equipment?

Craigslist jobs ad on the Oregon coast:
Person needed to perform property preservation services. Must have the following: truck or trailer, lawn mower, weed eater, digital camera, android telephone, air compressor, generator. Duties include cleaning houses, hauling trash and mowing lawns.
Actually, you know, the digital camera is probably redundant.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fifth Blogiversary

Five years have passed since I started this blog, and I have no intention of stopping. I may get old and Hard of Thinking, but when that happens you'll read it here first. This is my chart.

Family and Friends

I had to replace My Old Boots to go on the Father’s Day Hike and see Shasta From Grouse Gap Shelter. Happy Happy days. In August The Original Nine got together for Szechuan Planked Salmon. September reminds us that School Rhymes With Cruel but at least we could look forward to My Thanksgiving Pies, the Christmas Tree Harvest, Gloria In Excelsior, and a Merry Christmas. I got My New Desk. In February I hiked with The Table Rock Gang, and had a delicious Valentines Lunch.

Food and Drink

I blogged about the Necessities of Life, Tuna, Urban Chickens, and other Adventures in Diet. I discovered an Off-Label Leg Tonic and Small, Gray, and Tasty treats. As for getting fat, I wondered First, Why? Forget Atkins. Just Give Me The Condensed Version.

Way Up North

Our big Alaskan adventure started with a little Preflight Humor. In Anchorage we met Sky Kelsey, Fiddler. We headed north for a Glacier Landing and then Southward to Seward. We dined with the Mermaids in Homer, saw the Kenai River Green, and looked down on Anchorage at Sunset. We took hundreds of photographs and brought home a few Souvenirs. We can't wait to go again.


In May The Antiquarian died, prompting memories of Uncle Keith and Mom in better times. Keith’s House was a mess. It took weeks to clean it up. He may have been gone but the census Enumerated him anyway. I spent an afternoon documenting Uncle Keith’s Twenty Acres. Later I took home The Old Desk and Phone, along with a few worn out guns.

...and Taxes

I tried to avoid politics but there's no escaping Tax Slavery Day. You know what? We don't want to be done good to. In June when the Gulf was Light, Sweet, Crude, Delicious I bought stock in BP. Good news was the State Land Grab Thwarted. But For My Liberal Friends I Got The Field Signs Up in September and watched the Hippies Come Home in October. It Happens Every Time. Did you ever wonder Why Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Work Anymore? In March I observed that Fukushima Is Not Chernobyl and set about Investing in the Apocalypse. Everybody wanted to know What’s a milliSievert? My answer: 25 Terawatt-Hours of Death.

Life Goes On

In spite of the ongoing recession I got a few New Toys. Testing... One. Two. Three. Is this thing on? What, no ChemFET? I set about Earthquake Mapping. For my birthday I got a DSLR camera with Manual Exposure. I photographed Table Rock at Sunrise, the Gold Hill Market, a Sunrise Ascent, and the Evening 504 to Glendale.

It was not a bad year. Parts were very good. Other parts, less so. But stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Access Denied

I took my little Android for a walk down the street last night. Just for fun I opened up the Wi-Fi settings and scanned for networks. I found two or three on every block, and about half of them were wide open. For instance, about halfway to town there was a network broadcasting LINKSYS. I opened up a browser window, typed, and pressed return. There was the router's configuration page, no password or nothing. Walk right in and make yourself t'home.

I resisted the urge to tweak a few settings and change the locks. That would have been just plain mean.

But I resolved to do a little better at keeping strangers out of my own home network. One option I like is the Wireless Card Access List. You just make a list of the MAC address for all the gadgets in your house. (Amazingly, we have twelve — for just four people.)
If your device is not on the list, you don't get in. Simple as that.
Excuse me, sir. What's your MAC address?
Um, uh, let's see. 163,875,512,999,878?
Can you express that in octets, please?
Um, sure. 95:0b:3d:bd:5f:c6.
[Checking] I'm sorry sir, I don't see that number on the list.
Um, 95:0b:3d:bd:5a:c2?
Sure, uh huh. Guess a number between one and 280 trillion.
Get out of here before I throw you out.
It's a nice club in a tough neighborhood.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Please Pass the Plutonium

Another dose of common sense from William Tucker.
In the effort to portray nuclear power as the devil's handiwork, Ralph Nader once labeled plutonium "the most toxic substance ever known to mankind." In fact it is about as toxic as caffeine. Bernard Cohen, the tireless crusader for nuclear common sense, offered many times to eat as much plutonium as Nader would eat caffeine on "The Tonight Show" but Nader never took him up.
Well, caffeine is pretty toxic.

Update: Greg recommends The Strait Dope: Is nuclear power safe?