Monday, May 30, 2011

My Android App

shasta_feature.jpgI put my first Android app on Google's Android Market today. If you have an Android phone, tap the Market app, search on "hiker compass map gps" and give it a try.


If you love it, please feel free to give it a glowing review. (If you hate it, kindly keep your opinions to yourself.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Compass Calibration

compass_calibration.pngCan you calibrate an electronic compass just by spinning it?

I'd like to think so.

This is a screen shot of the Android phone app I've been working on. It's a simple compass, map, and GPS app with a twist — a calibratable electronic compass.

It's an old idea, really, to swing the compass and note the errors. I've just updated it to let the computer do the work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fat City

David Rubinstein spills the beans.
I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I "worked." But that's not all: There's a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites....

I haven't done the math but I suspect that, given a normal life span, these benefits nearly doubled my salary. And in Illinois these benefits are constitutionally guaranteed, up there with freedom of religion and speech.

Why do I put "worked" in quotation marks? Because my main task as a university professor was self-cultivation: reading and writing about topics that interested me. Maybe this counts as work. But here I am today — like many of my retired colleagues — doing pretty much what I have done since the day I began graduate school, albeit with less intensity.
Kind of makes you want to hate him, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No, She’s Not.

William Kristol says The Next President Isn't Currently Running and he's betting a steak dinner on it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Teacher Said What?!

your_teacher_said_what.gifMichael C. Moynihan reviews the new book by Joe and Blake Kernen.
Leading the "assault" on capitalism, he writes, are unions, teachers, members of the entertainment industry and sundry progressive groups. Watching the Hollywood mega-hit "WALL-E" with his daughter, Mr. Kernen discovers not only wonderfully rendered animation but a philippic targeting consumer capitalism. An odd premise for such a movie when one considers that it grossed more than $500 million world-wide and did a brisk business in action figures and videogames....

Your Teacher Said What?! will offer nothing new to anyone familiar with the free-market canon, but it does provide a jaunty and readable recapitulation of classical liberal economics — something not often available to students of the American economy.
In the Weekend Journal.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Catholic Humor

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me instead.
The Crescat, via The Anchoress, via Instapundit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blue Lupine

We walk this way almost every evening when we can.
The lupine are in bloom now, along the Rogue river.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Patrick’s Bionic Hand

patricks_bionic_hand.pngNot quite Luke Skywalker, but getting closer. Video at the link.

Via Instapundit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bastard in the Sand

On days when I have nothing to say you can always rely on the bloggers in my sidebar. Today's must watch video is at SnarkyBytes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Need Better Enemies

Look at the villains from America's past. We started out against the British — sophisticated enemies and one of the largest empires the world had ever known. Later we took on Nazis, who had a plan for dominating the world and making a super race. Then there were the Soviets with their misshapen ideas of social justice backed by nuclear weapons.

Our outcome against all these enemies was uncertain, and we had to be our best — better than our best — to overcome them. The British made us give birth to the greatest nation ever. The Nazis bid us to become a world superpower. The challenge of the Soviets forced us to achieve numerous technological advances and even land on the moon. But now we've been focused on terrorists for about a decade, and that threat has led us to create ... the full-body scanner.
Frank J. Fleming in Pajamas Media.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hanging In There, But

Edward P. Lazear explains why the job market feels so dismal.
[T]he increase in job growth that occurred over the past two years results from a decline in the number of layoffs, not from increased hiring. In February 2009, a month during which the labor market lost more than 700,000 jobs, employers hired four million workers. In March 2011, employers hired four million workers. The number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates.

We added jobs because hires exceeded separations, not because hiring increased. There were 4.7 million separations in February 2009. In March 2011 that number had fallen to 3.8 million. The fall in separations reflects a decline in layoffs, which went from 2.5 million per month in February 2009 to 1.6 million per month in March 2011.
Actually the job market feels so dismal to me because I'm having such a hard time breaking into it. Couple more weeks you'll see me standing on the corner holding a sign "Will Work For Salary."

It's that bad.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Capsule Review

Atlas-Shrugged-Movie-Poster_250.jpgI saw Atlas Shrugged today, a belated birthday present from my long-suffering wife. She liked it, I loved it. It was even better than I had hoped.

This is my prediction: That Parts 2 and 3 will be made (though not necessarily by Kaslow & Aglialoro) and that its audience will, like the audience for Rand's novel, only grow over the years. Shrugged is a cult classic that will outlive its cult. Mark my words, if you will, this movie will never die.

The current fantasy is that Part 1, realeased on April 15th, 2011, will be followed by Part 2 on April 15th, 2012, and then by Part 3 exactly one year later. But what does the schedule matter? Release Part 2 when it's ready, maybe on November 6th, 2012, or even on the night of January 16th, if that works.

Part 1 left us hanging, Part 2 will leave us wondering, and Part 3 will sum it all up in a way that even the haters will not be able to counter. This movie speaks to us in language we all understand. Her art will not be denied. Their lies can not answer her logic.

Ayn Rand was right. She spoke the truth. She will be heard.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Forfeiting Love for Sex

Evolutionary psychology looks at disrupted courtship.
The type of man a woman is drawn to is known to change during her monthly cycle—when a woman is fertile, for instance, she might look for a man with more masculine features. Taking the pill or another type of hormonal contraceptive upends this natural dynamic, making less-masculine men seem more attractive, according to a small but growing body of evidence. The findings have led researchers to wonder about the implications for partner choice, relationship quality and even the health of the children produced by these partnerships.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The greatest evolutionary challenge facing the human species in the twenty-first century is the birth control pill.

Monday, May 9, 2011

After The Quake

Guy Sorman on Japan.
These economic difficulties have left the Japanese unperturbed, probably because never in their history have they had it so good. Life has been comfortable; parents are wealthy enough to spoil their few children; pensions are satisfactory; health care is of high quality; and the government bureaucracy is efficient, at least compared with its counterparts elsewhere in Asia.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the unemployment rate has been 5 percent or under for decades....

In fact, the Japanese — especially the younger generation — like Japanese life so much that they've seemingly lost interest in the outside world. "It is a clear sign of such complacency that Japanese students no longer feel the need to study abroad," says Naoyuki Agawa, a vice president of Keio University. In 1990, 59,000 Japanese students studied on U.S. campuses; today, just 26,000 do.
In City Journal.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Couple Eighty Year Old Guys Splitting Firewood

couple_eighty_year_old_guys_splitting_firewood.jpgI'm very closely related to the guy on the right.

The old willow tree was about my age and the stump measured 48×60 across. They got at least 2½ cords of firewood out of it, maybe more, plus a huge pile of chips for the garden.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Beginning to Calm Down?

Michael A. Walsh.
From Charles Martel at Tours in 732 to Sobieski at Vienna in 1683 to Kitchener at Omdurman [1898], nothing has had a greater calming effect on the Muslim world than decisive defeat.
I hope he's right.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011



Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Who is to credit for this rebirth in American national unity? First and foremost, we must cite the leadership of President Obama. Like many Americans — and the Nobel Peace Prize committee — I naively feared he was actually serious when he initially proposed shutting down Guantanamo, trying detainees in American civilian courts, and prior consultation with the international community. Little did I know that this untested young Commander-in-Chief would muster the courage to read his weekly Gallup numbers and, in one daring unilateral extra-judicial targeted hit job, toss aside every single idiotic foreign policy principle of his election campaign. Perhaps most satisfyingly, it was a mission made possible thanks to information extracted by methods he previously banned as "illegal torture."
Thanks to Greg, who phoned me with the tip.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Justice Is Not The Right Word

Bret Stephens nailed it.
There was only one discordant note in Barack Obama's otherwise masterly speech Sunday night announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden. It came when the president invoked the word "justice" to describe what had just been done to the architect of 9/11.

It wasn't quite the word he was looking for. But actions speak louder than words.

Justice, as we in the West have come to know it, requires due process. It takes place in a courtroom under the supervision of a judge. Prosecutors must prove their case; defendants are entitled to a competent defense; rules of evidence and procedure must scrupulously be followed. A jury must render its verdict. Punishment can be neither cruel nor unusual...

As for bin Laden, what was meted out to him was vengeance. Vengeance pure and simple, sweet and sound. Vengeance cathartic, uplifting, necessary and right.

Got a problem with that?
The only problem I've got is the link is behind a pay wall. If you want to read more, email me and I'll send you a link that works.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Very, Very Good News

I just heard that Osama Bin Laden is dead.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead, President Obama said. The U.S. has his body in its possession, U.S. officials said late Sunday.

Mr. bin Laden was killed in a joint raid in Pakistan's northwestern district of Abbottabad, some 40 miles from Islamabad, in a joint raid overnight Sunday, according to a senior Pakistani official.

The town also is home to a Pakistani military academy. Two American helicopters took part in the operation, the official said. One Pakistani helicopter involved in the raid crashed after it was hit by firing from militants.
A small team of Americans killed bin Laden in a firefight at a compound in Pakistan, the president said in a dramatic late-night statement at the White House....

"Justice has been done," the president said.

Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, issued a written statement hailing bin Laden's death as a momentous achievement. "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done," he said.
Both presidents said the same thing, but I disagree. Justice would require that he die 3,000 deaths. At times like this I fervently hope that an angry God exists and an eternal Hell awaits.