Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That Weird Chameleon Accent

Ben Stein noticed Obama's droppin' his geez again.
But it's more than that. He also has a southern cracker imitation tossed in there to appeal to what he imagines are southern men who work in auto plants -- so he sounds like a strange mixture of Joe Hill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and George Corley Wallace of Alabama. It's a whole new accent never seen on earth before created by this master chameleon to disguise his ultra-privileged background.

It's his mouth that's moving, but it's not Barack Obama that's speaking. It's a robot speaking machine in Mr. Obama's brain. He has set the machine to "please the workingman" accent and also "please the African-Americans" at the same time and the result is that weird, sad King/Wallace voice. It's sad actually. For Mr. Obama, there's no there there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What A Blast

Our house was about three miles from where the truck blew up.

Mom and Dad were jolted out of bed, but my brother and I slept through it. At breakfast we noticed Dad was gone, and Mom told us what had happened. We spent the morning coloring pictures of the town blowing up. You can burn through a lot of red, orange, and black crayons doing that.

In the days that followed we only saw Dad briefly, maybe at lunch. He was busy with the National Guard keeping order downtown. He didn't come home at night. One of those guys in the video might be him, but probably not. He was an officer, I think maybe a second lieutenant, and down at headquarters organizing things.

Years later entire blocks of downtown Roseburg were still rubble, just like what you see in the video. But eventually it all got rebuilt.

There's stuff about the blast at the Oregon History Project, but I haven't reviewed it. Hippipedia has some misinformation, too, but caveat freeloader.

And thanks to my old friend Leola who posted this on Facebook.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why Doogie Learns

Neuroscientist Joe Z. Tsien was messing around with mice.
While ordinary mice quickly developed the habit of pressing a lever to get a food pellet (leading to overeating), the mutant mice stopped pressing the lever as soon as they felt full.

These mice were missing a protein known as an NMDA receptor on their dopamine neurons. Normally, these receptors help to generate a big electrical response when an animal is repeatedly exposed to a rewarding cue, such as a food pellet....
Big response: normal mouse.
A few years ago, he created a mouse strain with too much of the receptor and created a freakishly smart rodent—Mr. Tsien nicknamed it Doogie—that could learn and remember far better than a normal mouse.
Bigger response: freakishly smart mouse.
He has also showed that younger brains have significantly more of this receptor, which is why they absorb new information and acquire new routines so much more rapidly.
The point is, Doogie got a kick out of learning new things. He wasn't doing it for practical reasons — who needs another food pellet?
He was into it for the big electrical response. Doogie liked learning because learning was fun.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

Maybe the year.
The left gets all upset. "Oh, look at him talking about these things." You know, here's the difference between me and the left, and they don't get this. Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it.
— Rick Santorum, debate, February 22, 2012.

With a tip of the hat to the indispensable James Taranto.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Allegro ma non troppo

Shi Kang considered himself a happy man.

Writing 15 novels had made him a millionaire. He owned a luxury apartment and a new silver Mercedes. He was so content with his carefree life in Beijing that he never even traveled overseas.

Today, a year later, Mr. Shi is considering emigrating to the U.S.—one of a growing number of rich Chinese either contemplating leaving their homeland or already arranging to do it....

So what changed Mr. Shi's mind? A year ago, for the first time, he traveled outside China. Initially he just planned to visit a girlfriend studying in New Jersey, but he ended up buying a BMW X3 sport-utility vehicle and doing a 40,000-mile road trip around the U.S....

...with Beethoven blaring on the stereo, he had something of an epiphany.

"As soon as you leave the city, the U.S. is really a big garden," said Mr. Shi. "It's like a symphony: When Chinese people listen to these idyllic pastoral tunes, they can't picture it, because China just doesn't have these things."
Behind the pay wall in The Wall Street Journal.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Motivates The Left?

Why do they care so deeply about the kind of insurance coverage Catholic employers provide? It's not as if NARAL and Planned Parenthood devotees are heavily represented in the workforce of Catholic institutions. And you don't see petitions from leftwing pressure groups calling on the church to provide better dental and vision coverage, or mental health benefits. Which would, as a pragmatic matter, be much more helpful for more of the workforce than the contraceptive mandate. No, for the left, the fight isn't about social justice or the proper scope of the state. It's about the contraceptives. It's about sex.
Ahem. This blog does not deal in sticky subjects. We will, however, refer you to Jonathan V. Last in The Weekly Standard.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


pimples.pngThat's what I call him. They call him Muscular: Dissection: Head and neck: Lateral, but that seems kind of impersonal.

It's one of a zillion images from this little A&P app I've been writing for Android tablets. I would tell you more but the NDA forbids.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Enough With the Tiger Moms

Joe Queenan has the last word.
This spring, no fewer than four new books on the subject of ethnic maternal supremacy will be published. According to child psychologist Atahualpa Vargas, a native of Cochabamba, Bolivian mothers are revered the length and breadth of South America for their stoic resolve and devotion to their children, a subject covered in his new book Incredible Incas: Why The Best Moms in the World Come from La Paz.

This claim is challenged, however, in Addfwyn Griffith's new book How the Welsh Invented Modern Motherhood, where the professor at the University of Glamorgan-Aberystwthy argues that Welsh mothers are far superior to the French, the Chinese and the Bolivians because "the Welsh keep their mouths shut and don't keep reminding their kids how special they are."

Not to be outdone, Super-Moms from Fiji! contends that children growing up in the South Pacific make the happiest adults because the weather allows them to play outside all year around, so their mothers can stay inside and not get worn to a frazzle by having to entertain them all day.

Finally, in Matriarchs of the Yurt, a German woman who has raised two sets of triplets in Ulan Bator says that Mongolian mothers whose husbands spend a lot of time on the road can raise their kids in a more placid environment, not having to worry about the old man coming home in a bad mood every night and making everyone else miserable.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Wandering Gene

wandering_gene_thumb.jpgCharles C. Mann reviews The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess by Jeff Wheelwright.
As humankind becomes more technologically sophisticated, identity becomes both more fluid and more fixed. People can more readily concoct their own personas, mixing and matching elements they find on the Internet; meanwhile, genetics pins us ever tighter to our own heredity. The resultant confusion spills over into a host of subjects: ethnic profiling, affirmative action, religious identity tests, the complex of issues summed up in Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's "The Bell Curve." All reliably provoke temper tantrums, red-faced accusations and wounded feelings. Conservatives are more often lambasted for their views than liberals, but liberals are no less prone to the fantastic and illogical. Mr. Wheelwright, the former science editor of Life magazine, tiptoes with impressive agility through the minefield; this is one of the rare books on this vexed subject that get the technical stuff right—and that understand that people make what they will of scientific findings.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


“When I tell the guys in the dorm that I grew up on classical music they think I mean, like, Zeppelin. I have to tell them no, I mean, like... Beethoven.”

Saturday, February 11, 2012

OIT Family Weekend

oit_family_2012_thumb.jpgWe went to Klamath Falls to visit Charlie for the Oregon Institute of Technology Family Weekend. They had campus tours, casino games, a talent show, tailgator parties, and basketball games.

We didn't do any of that.

We spent forty-five minutes coding up Euclid's algorithm in C++, and then went for a hike. Typical geeks, I guess. Later we went to Red's BBQ for an early dinner.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Religious? Go to Hell.

So says the HHS, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The entire thrust of ObamaCare is to standardize benefits and how they must be paid for and provided, regardless of individual choices or ethical convictions.

To take a small example: The HHS rule prohibits out-of-pocket costs for birth control, simply because Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's regulators believe no woman should have to pay anything for it....

Practicing this kind of compulsion is routine and noncontroversial within Ms. Sebelius's ministry. That may explain why her staff didn't notice that the birth-control rule abridges the First Amendment's protections for religious freedom. Then again, maybe HHS thought the public had become inured to such edicts, which have arrived every few weeks since the Affordable Care Act passed.

Bad call. The decision has roused the Catholic bishops from their health-care naivete, but they've been joined by people of all faiths and even no faith, as it becomes clear that their own deepest moral beliefs may be thrown over eventually. Contraception is the single most prescribed medicine for women between 18 and 44 years old, and nine of 10 insurers and employers already cover it. Yet HHS still decided to rub it in the face of religious hospitals.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Forgotten Past

mcnaughton_forgotten_man.jpgDrudge links to a new painting entitled The Forgotten Man, by Utah artist Jon McNaughton. Follow the link and mouse over the picture to learn a little about American economic history.