Monday, October 31, 2011

Undie Head

pile_o_laundry.jpgEvery three months, as a bonus for subscribing to The Wall Street Journal, I get this color glossy suplement called WSJ Magazine.

It completely mystifies me. On the cover of the current issue is a pretty young lady wearing what appears to be a pile of laundry on her head. Not plain laundry either — I may not know much about fashion, but I recognize underwear when I see it.

Kind of cute, actually. Weird, but cute.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two That You Might Have Missed

watson_eagle.jpgJames Watson at the Eagle, Cambridge. Via Instapundit. You may recall his mentioning the Eagle in The Double Helix.

And in WSJ Michael Caine tells a contemporaneous (1950s) story about falling for the politics of young, attractive, Communist girls.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

For the National Defense

A recent Gallup poll indicates that 53% of American households are still not in compliance with the Militia Act of 1792.
Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993...
It's not like we're expecting trouble or anything.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Money to Burn

Harrisburg's financial ruin has long been assured, but not for any of the usual reasons. There are no runaway pensions eating up the budget or dirty officials embezzling funds. The city's tax base has not hollowed out like Detroit's. Instead, Harrisburg was doomed by a single project...
I won't spoil the punchline.

It's a case of starting with a bad idea, and going from bad to worse, to worse, to worse — for forty years. No private company in the world could screw up this bad. It takes a government to raise this hell.

Read it all at The Weekly Standard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Petty Tyranny

It always helps to begin with an absolutely unbelievable story.
A U.S. Supreme Court justice recounted over cocktails a while ago his travails with his hometown zoning board. He wanted to build an addition onto his house, containing what the plans described as a home office, but he met truculent and lengthy resistance. This is a residential area, a zoning official blustered—no businesses allowed. The judge mildly explained that he would not be running a business from the new room; he would be using it as a study. Well, challenged the suspicious official, what business are you in? I work for the government, the justice replied. Okay, the official finally conceded—grudgingly, as if conferring an immense and special discretionary favor; we’ll let it go by this time. But, he snapped in conclusion, don’t ever expletive-deleted with us again.

Isn’t that sort of petty tyranny? I asked.

Yes, the justice replied; there’s a lot of it going around.
Really? Did not this petty bureaucrat know with whom he was dealing?

Myron Magnet doesn't say.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oh Geez; Another Tax Plan

First Herman Cain came up with the 9-9-9 plan in which we throw out the lovely old income tax we've been tinkering with since 1913 and replace it with a flat 9% personal and corporate rate combined with a 9% national sales tax.

Now Rick Perry ups the ante with a 20% personal and corporate rate, no sales tax, and keep all your old deductions. Is that better?

At first glance 2 × 20 > 3 × 9 ergo Perry loses, but as Barbie says math is hard and not one person in a hundred has the wherewithal to determine if he will win or lose under either of these plans.

All we know for certain is we don't like what we've got.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paradise Lost

John Derbyshire recalls the 1950s.
The USA was unified as never before. Thirty-five years of very limited immigration, mostly from Europe, with an assist from economic depression and war’s shared hardships, had thoroughly “cooked” us into a coherent nation with a single language and culture. Demographically we were 90 percent white and 10 percent black, with other races at trace-element levels. Racial persecution was declining fast, capable black citizens were rising into the middle class, and equality of opportunity seemed to be just over the horizon. There was well-paid work for anyone willing to punch a time clock.
· · ·
Alas, change and decay are the laws of existence. By hubris, folly, and a kind of crazed utopianism, we have expelled ourselves from that Eden. An angel with a flaming sword now guards its gate. We cannot go back; we must trudge forward into the unknowable future “with wand’ring steps and slow,” our limbs no longer supple, our eyes no longer bright, our will no longer blithe. There is no use complaining; it’s the way things are.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Neither Are Dads

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Florence, Oregon

Beautiful this time of year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Head Hurts

Two phone interviews today.

I hate phone interviews. I'd rather drive six hours to talk with someone in person than spend thirty minutes on the phone.

Update: But it paid off — I get to drive three and a half hours for an in-person tomorrow.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twenty Four

twenty_fourth_anniversary_picnic_thumb.jpgFor our twenty-fourth anniversary we took the day off and drove up to Lake of the Woods. Parked by the boat ramp and hiked around the north end to Camp McLoughlin. Little wine, little crackers, lotsa cheese.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spreadsheeting the Books

I spent a few hours yesterday knocking together a double-entry bookkeeping system in a spreadsheet. Why bother, you ask, when I could buy QuickBooks for only $200? Answer: because my spreadsheet does everything QuickBooks does and less.

(Bells and whistles are cool at the carnival, guys. Around here, we're just trying to get some work done.)

And what's so hard about double-entry bookkeeping anyway?
The technology is 500 years old. It ain't exactly rocket science, especially with a business as simple as ours. Six columns for the journal, twelve for the ledger, and another seven for reports. Two more columns to cross check the sums, and we're done.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BSCS, Hold the BS

I saw ad this for a software developer on Craigslist:
We are looking to hire a developer to join our software consulting company, providing software development services to businesses. Most work will be done remotely from your home office or (if you prefer) from our main corporate office on the west side of Portland.

Pay rate will be $35-65/hour, depending on how strong your skills are. We only hire people who can work directly with a customer, which means you need good communication skills and personal integrity. We usually have multiple developers working on a project, so being a team player is also a must. ...

We prefer people who are quick to understand business requirements, quick to learn new technologies, detail-oriented, and proactive in communication. We care about intelligence, skills, and experience. We don't care if you have a degree.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yulia Tymoshenko

yulia.jpg
Hers is an improbable life. She makes billions overnight in a rough industry. She loses most of it and goes into politics. She falls from grace again, but then leads a democratic revolution. She becomes a powerful prime minister and dreams of the top job. She loses the election for president and begins to fade from the scene. But a bare-knuckled political rival won't forget or forgive past slights. On Tuesday, one of his judges throws her in prison for seven years on transparently political charges. Now she's a martyr.
Yulia Tymoshenko.

I've been following the story for fifteen years, more or less, in The Economist and The Wall Street Journal. Now, with the latest twists and turns, it's destined to become a made-for-TV movie.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On The Fall Season

Dorothy Rabinowitz watches TV so I don't have to.
In a season drenched in gender-themed comedies—the new roles of women versus those of men—the arrival of one pure and unadulterated drama about a passion as old as man is something to celebrate. That's particularly true when that drama is as spellbinding, in its satisfyingly gaudy way, as "Revenge" turns out to be.
Read it all if you care, and especially if you don't.

Leslie is often surprised, as she was the other day on hearing that I knew that a certain show was in its last season, to find that I know anything at all about television, since I seriously do not watch it.

My answer, as with all things that I ought not to know about if I had not actually been there, is "well, I do read the Journal."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Running With The Pack

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Democrat I Could Vote For

America has enjoyed 22 months of uninterrupted economic recovery. But recovery is not enough. If we are to prevail in the long run, we must expand the long-run strength of our economy. We must move along the path to a higher rate of growth and full employment....

To achieve these greater gains, one step, above all, is essential — the enactment this year of a substantial reduction and revision in Federal income taxes....
John F. Kennedy, Jan. 14, 1963

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Between Contracts

That's the euphemism we independent types use for unemployed.

I had three good months at AWI but those who live by the federal contract die by the same, and when then news came that the DoD had given the contract to Mesotech instead of AWI they rounded up all thirty of us contractors and told us to finish what we were working on and clear out. Lucky for me I had five more days — some people left the same afternoon.

We're going to try something new this time. I've joined LinkedIn, a sort of business-oriented social networking site. If you are already on LinkedIn go view my profile and add me to your network. Never mind if you're not in the habit of hiring software engineers; someone you know might be.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three Stories by Steve Jobs

There's no better way to remember the man than by reading, or re-reading, his own words in a Commencement Address delivered to the students of Stanford University on June 12, 2005.

Or listen to it, if you prefer.

Via Ethel C. Fenig at American Thinker.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

We discussed the sad news.

"Someone will come along to replace him," she offered.

"No," I replied.

"No, you may as well say 'someone will replace Shakespeare.'"

No one ever will.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Diversions

I read two blogs that are so far off the beaten path I can't make out but half of what they say. The first is Malum Nalu from Papua New Guinea, and the other is The Lazy Farmer from Whine Country, Oregon. I read and marvel and shake my head in wonder at these strange new worlds what has such people in ’em.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Exactly

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lenticular Capped Shasta

lenticular_cloud_shasta_thumb.jpgThe wind blew briskly as I drove through the Shasta Valley. As the moist air lifted to pass over the mountain, a cloud formed. On the other side the air dropped and the cloud evaporated. So although the wind on the mountaintop was blowing at perhaps fifty miles per hour, Shasta's cap of cloud stayed fixed firmly on her head.