Sunday, January 31, 2010

ClimateGate: It's Mainstream Now...

Steve McIntyre has a post up with comments that list all the recent news coverage (readers can add to the list). It's amazing how much is there now, just two months after ClimateGate broke – especially when you compare this to the dearth of skeptical articles in the lamestream media before then...

Obama Loses CNN...

Get Your Spiffy ClimateGate Poster Here!

The poster (PDF), courtesy of JoNova...

How the Democratic Leadership Perceives Scott Brown...


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hitler and ClimateGate...

Thanks to reader Mr. Xyz:

The Audacity of Hopelessness...

Mark Steyn.  Obama.  SOTU.  Go read.

Two of my favorite bits:
In Britain, a research team at King's College, London, has declared that the female "G-spot" doesn't exist.

In France, a group of top gynecologists dismissed the findings, asking, "What do you expect if you ask Englishmen to find a woman's erogenous zone?"
Har!  And:
Mr. Obama and the Democrats have decided, in the current cliche, to "double down." What's the endgame here? Mr. Obama gave it away in his student loan "reform" proposals: If you choose to go into "public service," any college loan debts will be forgiven because public service is more noble than the selfish, money-grubbing private sector. C'mon, everybody knows that. So we need to encourage more people to go into public service?

Why? In the past 60 years, the size of America's government work force has increased five times faster than the population. Yet the president says it's still not enough: We have to divert more of our human capital into the government machine. He's explicitly telling you: If you start a business, invent something, provide a service, you're a schmuck. In the America he's building, you'll be working 24/7 till you drop dead to fund an ever-swelling bureaucracy.
That's not quite so funny, but it's very well put...

Well, This Was Predictable...

Last year the (formerly great) state of California ran out of money because the freakin' idiots running the place up in Sacremento couldn't pass a budget that spent less the taxes received.  The state started issuing IOUs instead of checks, and apparently even the Democrats got the message that they actually needed to DO something about this.

But what they did was a liberal political masterpiece: they used all sorts of one-time-only accounting tricks to magically plug the holes in the budget.  They did absolutely nothing to address the actual problem (to wit, they're spending more than they're making).

So, completely predictably, we're running out of money again.

It's difficult for me to imagine what sort of tricks they're going to pull out of their butts this year – but I've little doubt that foul-smelling tricks are what we're going to get, and not any kind of the structural reform we so desperately need at the state level.

The Scott Brown phenomenon gives me some hope about politics at the national level.  Unfortunately I don't see any sign of such things at the California level...


Sometimes (actually, quite often) I question the wisdom of allowing certain members (approximately 93%) of my species to continue living.  This is one of those times.

The story, in a nutshell: two doctors were treating patients in their office a couple weeks ago, when a meteorite crashed through the roof of their building.  Luckily (I think) nobody was injured.  The doctors (the good guys in this story) donated the meteorite to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where it would be put on public display.  The Smithsonian planned to give the good doctors $5,000 in appreciation, and the doctors planned to donate that money to the Haitian relief efforts.

What a great story!  Win - win- win!  What could go wrong?

A lawsuit, of course,  Greed and avarice.  And landlords.  Read it and weep for humanity...

Satirical Must Read...

IowaHawk.  Satire.  Obama's SOTU.

I'm sure I need say no more, but just in case you've somehow been cruelly punished by missing IowaHawk's previous satirical masterpieces, here's a bit out of this one:
Such was his triumph that I and my guests were rendered emotionally spent, the tears cascading down our awestruck cheeks. Nearly overcome, Brooks likened it to the the best works of Rimsky-Korsakov. I objected to this silly assessment, as I have always found the Russian too cloying and self-insistent for an educated musical palate. No, I replied, in this speech Mr. Obama proved himself Mozart incarnate, against which the Republican Salieris could only respond with their same inane repertoire of off-key tax cut polkas.

After regaining our collective composure we found ourselves in unanimous accord that Mr. Obama had finally discovered political oratory's legendary lost chord, satisfying both to the trained ear of the discerning connoisseur and the primal aesthetics of the lower castes. If Congreve was correct that music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, then Mr. Obama's clever paeans to populism will hopefully tranquilize and chastise the savages of the Tea Party, that they can once again be put safely back in their proper pens.
Bonus in this piece: a punny final line...

On That Mental Health Mandate...

Megan McArdle (the world's tallest female economics blogger) does her usual succinct evisceration of a bone-headed politician's attempt to manage health care.  My favorite bit:
On a more serious note, I feel like we could have achieved the laudable goal of ensuring that serious mental illnesses are not left untreated (at least, in cases where the patient wants to get treatment), without guaranteeing cheaper psychotherapy for America's ennui-laden affluent classes.  Of course, then we'd have to recognize the fact htat this stuff has to be paid for, rather than pretending that benefits can somehow be magically generated for free with just a wave of the regulatory pen.
I have this fantasy that Megan (or her identically equipped and informed twin sister) runs for statewide office (governor, preferably) out here in California.  I'd pay good money to watch what happened when her well-informed intelligence and level-headed perspective runs up against the lameness that permeates our state, county, and local governmental institutions.  Heads would explode, and I'm certain none of those heads would belong to Megan...

Global Warming: Record Ice in China...

Juhua Isand in northern China is experiencing the heaviest ice in more than 30 years.  If I was a warmenist, I'm sure I'd see that as proof positive of AGW...

Moon Mission Dead?

It's looking likely that the Obama administration will implement a policy that I support.  This is such a rare event that it calls for special celebration around here.  Woo hoo!

That policy?  Abandoning the “return to the moon” objectives set by President G. W. Bush.  Implicitly this also means abandoning the next step: a manned mission to Mars.  Obama is angling toward commercialization of space, by encouraging NASA to use commercial launchers instead of NASA's (outrageously expensive) launch vehicles.

It sounds wonderful.  It also sounds like something a fiscally conservative Republican or Libertarian might do, and most unlike something a leftie like Obama would do.  I think this might have been slipped into his plans by some jokester.

But there's a big caveat.  Any such proposal would have to pass Congress, and we have a surprising number of congresscritters in thrall to the NASA powers-that-be.  This is because since it's origins in the 1950s, several bureaucratically-savvy NASA administrators have cleverly located NASA facilities supporting the manned space program all over the danged place.  There are darned few states that don't take home some yummy NASA pork.

So don't hold your breath.

But I'm sure keeping my fingers crossed...

Friday, January 29, 2010

State of the Union...

Several readers have written to ask me why I haven't commented on President Obama's State of the Union (SOTU) address on Wednesday.

Well, firstly, I didn't listen to it, though I have read the transcript and watched a few of the video clips.  The SOTU has evovled into a choreographed and essentially meaningless platform wherein the President (a) claims credit for everything under the sun, and (b) promises everything else under the sun.  The credit taken is usually false, the promises hardly ever attempted, much less kept.  I fully expected Obama to exceed all of his predecessors in the preceding, and in that I was not disappointed.

What did surprise me was the number and magnitude of the outright fabrications in his address.  Most of these are simple matters of fact, readily checked.  He's already being called on these errors of fact by many observers, including even some of the most liberal commentators around.  There's no doubt that Obama knew these statements were lies, so that means they must be deliberate and – sadly – he must believe that he can get away with them.  In other words, he thinks the American public is so stupid and so ill-informed that they won't realize he's lying to them. 

Based on a small sample of friends and colleagues I've talked with, Obama is badly mistaken on this point.  His SOTU address pissed off a lot of people, and disgusted even more.  You can count me amongst the latter; I was already pissed off before the SOTU...

Possible Origin of the Moon...

If you're at all interested in astronomy and space, you probably already know that the origins of the Earth's moon is one of the more enduring scientific mysteries – and it's right next door!  Here's a new possibility for the origins of our nearest neighbor in space.  It's the first one I've read in many years that actually sounds plausible.  It involves nukes.

Scale of the Universe...

An awesome interactive web page that explores a very wide range of spatial scale in the universe.  Just move the slider back and forth...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Missing in Action: Our Hummingbirds...

For two weeks now, our hummingbird feeders have been completely empty.  Where normally we saw dozens of hummingbirds all day long, we have quite literally not seen a single hummer for two weeks now.  Our neighbors report the same phenomenon.  This has never happened before in the eight years we've been actively feeding the little guys, so we're all quite bewildered.  Also a bit worried.  Where are our hummers?

We've only got two theories:
  1. The hummers knew the big rains were coming, and left for Cabo (or some other warm, dry place).  One variant to this theory: they all left to go “down the hill” to El Cajon or some such place, and they'll be back soon.

  2. Something awful happened that killed them all - a disease, perhaps.  
If any of my readers happen to know anything about the great hummingbird departure, we'd sure appreciate your leaving a comment here...

ClimateGate: The Unraveling of AGW...

If you read the news about AGW and “climate change” carefully, as I do, you must be marveling at the change in tone and content over the few weeks since the CRU emails were revealed.  In that short time the skeptics have been transformed from fringe elements ignored by the lamestream media into a group that's regularly reported on – and the AGW crowd has simultaneously transformed from media darlings with vast policy influence into suspected criminals and cheaters and corruptocrats being studiously ignored by the politicos.  Amazing!

Just this past week, more AGW-related news – nearly all of it bad for the AGW folks – came out than in the entire year preceding the CRU email revelations.  An incomplete roundup:
The general opinion these days seems to be that the IPCC is in for a big shakeup, including the almost certain removal of its controversial head.  It looks quite unlikely that Jones will return as the CRU's head.  The University of Pennsylvania appears to be genuinely upset at the shenanigans of Michael Mann, casting doubt on his reign there.  And last but not least, the NOAA (part of NASA) is actively cleaning up their act on their web site, removing unsupported claims and unreviewed “science”, leading to speculation that the notorious James Hansen may be on the outs there. 

Will these wonders ever cease?  One hopes not!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Political Cartoon of the Day...

Via my plugged-in mom:

I don't much care for my position on this chart.  Do you?

Looking Forward...

According to my mom, this is about what I should expect:
A group of 40 year old former college buddies meets to discuss where they should have dinner. Finally it is agreed that they should dine at the Gausthof zum Lowen restaurant because the waitresses there have low cut blouses and nice breasts.

10 years later, at 50 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss where they should meet. Finally it's agreed that they should meet at the Gausthof zum Lowen because the food is very good and the wine selection is good also.

10 years later, at 60 years of age. the group meets again and again they discuss where they should dine. Finally it's agreed that they should meet at the Gausthof zum Lowen because they can eat there in peace and quiet and the restaurant is smoke free.

10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss where they should dine. Finally they once again decide that they should meet at the Gausthof zum Lowen because the restaurant is wheel chair accessible and even has an elevator.

10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss for over an hour where they should eat. Finally they decide that they should meet at the Gausthof zum Lowen -- all agree it's an excellent choice because they have never been there before.

Nice, mom...

Move Over Law...

Reader Dick F. passed along an email that talks about a new law coming into effect in California on January 1, 2010.  The law cited is called the “move over” law, and according to the email we Californians became the 48th state to enact this law.  The basic idea behind the law is that if you see any kind of emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, you're required to move over one lane (if it's possible), leaving an empty lane between you and the emergency vehicle.  The email goes on to cite one man's experience with the law, claiming he got a $754 ticket, 3 points on his license, and had a mandatory court appearance.

With a little research on the web, I was able to sort the reality from the garbage in that email.

First, while there was a revision to the move over law this year, the law has actually been on the books and in effect since 2007.  The revision this year simply removed the “sunset” provision in the original law that would have automatically taken the original law off the books on January 2, 2010.

Second, the fine – both in the original law and in the revision ” is limited to $50.  There are no points on drivers licenses cited, and there is no mandatory court appearance.

You can read for yourself the actual law, a web site supporting the law, and the press release concerning the revised law.

Messianic Pharmaceuticals Presents...

Via my mom.  The accompanying text says that the cartoon is from Scotland and that the whole world is laughing at us.  What I've read in the UK press (which is far less homogenized than ours) is a mixture of poking fun at us (from the conservative-leaning outlets) and disappointment and dismay (from the left-leaning outlets)...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

AGW Unvraveling...

ClimateGate seems to have begun the long-overdue process of critically examining the science and the corruption within the AGW community.  The latest revelation is the outright falsehood of IPCC claims about the damage global warming is doing in the Amazon Basin.  As James Delingpole says:
Here’s the latest development, courtesy of Dr Richard North – and it’s a cracker. It seems that, not content with having lied to us about shrinking glaciers, increasing hurricanes, and rising sea levels, the IPCC’s latest assessment report also told us a complete load of porkies about the danger posed by climate change to the Amazon rainforest.
Read the whole thing.

Best Economics Music Video Evah!

I'm fairly certain I have no other posts with both “Music” and “Economics” tags...

Benford's Law...

Have you ever noticed that a disproportionate amount of numbers start with the digit one?  For instance, if you were to go through a newspaper and tally up the numbers that appear there, you'd find that about 30% of them start with a one.  Why is it 30%? This odd phenomenon continues with the other digits – about 16% of numbers start with a two, and smaller and smaller proportions until you get to nine.  What's going on here?

The first person to study this was a fellow named Frank Benford, and the proportions above are said to follow “Benford's Law”.  If you follow the news carefully, you may recognize Benford's Law, as it was used last year to prove that the election results from Iran were faked – the returns should have followed Benford's law, but they did not.

If you'd like to understand more about both what Benford's Law actually is (it's a bit more complex than the simple version I gave above), and especially why it is, here's an easy-to-understand explanation.

Debbie's Home!

Much happiness in our household. 

She played a trick on the dogs – as we pulled into our driveway, she opened her window and ducked down out of sight.  I let the dogs out to run in the yard, and then she called them.  Oh, we had some very happy dogs – whimpering, leaping and twirling for sheer joy, and nearly knocking her down with their enthusiastic greetings...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

“We Regret It.”

Via a liberal friend who does not want to be named:


Folk Wisdom, from the Mouth of a Babe...

Via my mom, who must have tapped into a productive lode here recently:
A Congressman was seated next to a little girl on the airplane when he turned to her and said, 'Let's talk. I've heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.'

The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and said to the total stranger, 'What would you like to talk about?'

'Oh, I don't know,' said the congressman. 'How about global warming or universal health care', and he smiles smugly.

OK, ' she said. 'Those could be interesting topics. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?'

The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, 'Hmmm, I have no idea.'

To which the little girl replies, 'Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming or universal health care when you don't know shit?


Miracle on the Hudson (Simulation)...

Via my mom, this excellent simulation of Flight 1549 and its emergency landing in the Hudson River (by Captain Sullenberger):

These simulators are getting very realistic...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Garbage Mystery...

Like most couples, my wife and I have divided up the chores.  In the boringly conventional mode, one of my chores every Thursday morning is to haul our week's trash about 400 feet down our driveway to the nearest public road.  There the garbage truck and its crew will pick them up, empty them, and leave the empties there for me to haul back up to the house in the afternoon.

We've lived here for over ten years now, so I've performed this little ritual over 500 times.  You could say that I'm an expert on certain aspects of our garbage – in particular, how much of it we produce.  There's really little variation; we consistently produce between two and three 50 gallon trash cans full every week.

But for the past three weeks, my wife has been in Indiana with her mom.  That means I've had two trash cycles with her gone.  In those two weekly cycles, I've produced less than a half of one trash can.  I skipped taking it down last week; there wasn't enough to make it worthwhile. 

Now it makes sense to me that two of us would produce more trash than one of us, but I'd expect the difference to be about 2:1 – and instead it's more like 5:1.  This leads inexorably to the mystery: what on earth is my wife throwing out in such large quantities each week?  I don't really feel like inventorying all the garbage to find out.  I'm hoping one of my readers out there has already done this, and knows the answer.



Via reader Tom B.:

You  have to try this please, it takes 2 seconds.  It is from an  orthopedic  surgeon.
This  will confuse your mind and you  will keep trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you  can't.  It  is pre-programmed in your brain!

1.  While sitting at your desk in front of your computer,  lift your  right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number  '6' in the air with  your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

And there's nothing you can do about  it!  Before  the day  is done, you are going to try it again, if you've not already done so.

The first few times I tried this, it worked as advertised.  I found that if I moved very slowly and deliberately I could keep my foot going in a clockwise circle – but it took great concentration.  Even after many tries, if I move quickly I cannot do it.

Definitely weird.

How Good are You?

How good are you at “eyeballing” straight lines, angles, and lengths?  Take this test to see how you measure up...

Storm Summary...

First, the rain: 6.34 inches (161 mm) of lovely, lovely rain.  The graph at right tells the story (click to enlarge).  Most of this came down in liquid form, but some was solid (hail).

The barometric pressure changes were kinda dramatic (graph at left, click to enlarge), too.

The forecast has a 60% chance of rain on Tuesday.  Wow!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dogs Found!

Our neighbor just called to say that two local dogs have wandered into her yard.  One looks a bit like an all-white St. Bernard, the other like a black-and-white cattle dog.  Both are friendly; one looks like it may have broken loose from a leash (perhaps thunder-frightened?).  If these sound like your dogs, please drop me a line (email address is in the sidebar at right), or comment on this post.  Either way, I'll put you in touch with my neighbor.

These two doggies just want to go home...

Update: The two doggies have been reunited with their owners.   The way it happened is a great story of neighborhood. 

My neighbor who found the dogs got the phone number for Paula C. from me.  Paula lives just down the road from us, and operates a kennel and dog training facility.  She's also a long-time resident of Lawson Valley, and knows just about everybody here (and most especially she knows their dogs).  Unfortunately, Paula didn't know these two doggies.  Paula called everyone she knew, but none of them knew of these two dogs either.  This was shaping up to be a story with a sad ending...

Fast forward a few hours.  Paula was at her gate, shoveling the rainstorm's mud out from underneath her gate, so she could open it and leave.  While she was working, a car drove slowly by, and the driver hollered to ask her whether she'd seen a couple of lost dogs - a big white one, and a small black-and-white one.  Paula sent them up the hill to see my neighbor, who still had the dogs – and the dogs were reunited with their worried owners.

Turns out the owners live about a mile away.  They weren't home when the dogs got loose, but the thunderstorm happened during that period, so I'm thinking my guess was a good one...

I love happy endings like that!

Slide Rule Humor...

Via a fellow slide rule collector who wishes to remain unnamed:

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious 'Al-Gebra' movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

'Al-Gebra is a problem for us', the Attorney General said. 'They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values. They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.'

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, 'If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes..'

White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President.

It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics will follow.


Via my mom:

Weather Update...

So far our four-day storm total is 5.24 inches (133 mm).  As you can see on the chart at right (click to enlarge), we received over an inch (25mm) yesterday and last night, and the rain continues as I write this. 

I was awakened several times last night by rain and hail pounding on my bedroom window – we had gusty winds to 15 MPH (about 20 kph) from the southwest, and several thunderstorm cells passed right overhead.  Two of them had powerful lightning strokes, causing very loud thunder (one of our dogs, Lea, is terrified of lightning, and spent hours quaking, pressed hard up against me on the bed).  As if that wasn't enough, my weather radio was alarming every 15 minutes or so, to tell me of a new threat the NOAA wanted to warn me about.  All in all, it wasn't a good night for sleeping...

But no damage was done, so far as I could tell with my flashlight.  And we've got a lovely start to the rainy season, with nearly 11 inches already on the ground.

The wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego ought to be spectacular this year.

Yesterday evening, driving home from work, I saw the streams in Lawson Valley in full flood.  Last night's rains should drive them even higher, perhaps to the highest levels I've yet seen in my ten years out here.  I've heard stories from long-time residents about much higher floods washing out bridges; hopefully that is not happening to us!

A Democratic Insider's View into the Sausage Factory...

My favorite tidbit:
I believe President Clinton provided some crucial insight when he said, "people would rather be with someone who is strong and wrong than weak and right." It's not that people are uninterested in who's right or wrong, it's that people will only follow leaders who seem to actually believe in what they are doing. Democrats have missed this essential fact.
Go read the whole thing, it's fascinating...

Space Cannon...

Now this is just plain cool.  I particularly like the clever way they came up with to make the thing aimable.  Every other proposal for similar technologies (such as magnetic rail guns) required enormous fixed infrastructure that would permit launching payloads only into a very small range of orbits...

Air America is Put Out of Its Misery...

Several years ago, Al Gore famously helped found “Air America”.  Its objective was to bring quality liberal talk radio to the airwaves to compete with the then (and now) fabulously successful hordes of conservative, libertarian, and independent talk radio shows.  The idea was twofold: to help get the liberal (or “progressive”) message out, and to make a profit.

Air America failed dismally on both counts, from the very beginning.  Though they aired a fair number of liberal talk shows, their audiences were always small – and they've been shrinking for the past few years, even during the Obama campaign when you might have thought interest would be particularly high.  Not so much.

Yesterday the death knell rang; Air America filed for bankruptcy and ceased all on-air operations.  They are dead.

At the same time, talk radio is by far the most profitable and fastest-growing segment of radio in the U.S.  Nearly every day, it seems, a radio station switches from the traditional “disk jockey” format to talk radio, for the simple reason that the audiences on talk radio dwarf those on music stations – and therefore so do the ad revenues (which of course is how radio stations make money).

It fascinates me that despite an earnest, well-funded attempt, liberal talk radio was an abject failure.  One is tempted to say that the failure must mean there aren't many liberals, but clearly that's not the case.  Other possibilities I can think of:
  • There aren't enough engaged liberals; those interested enough in politics to listen to talk radio.

  • There aren't enough thinking liberals; they'd rather be told what to do than to think it out on their own.

  • The liberals are all smugly listening to NPR, and can't be bothered to listen elsewhere.
Anybody got any better ideas?

Homeopathic “Medicine”...

You can find homeopathic medicines in any American drugstore, sitting on the shelf right next to real medicines.  Many of the homeopathic medicines use packaging and messaging that looks identical to that used on real medicines – a deliberate, and largely successful attempt to trick you into believing that the homeopathic medicines are real medicines.  Others make claims for their benefits (or efficacy, to use the conventional term) that sound exaggerated, as they are – but many consumers believe that the claims must be true, else the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) wouldn't allow them to say it.  The FDA, after all, closely regulates all drugs.

Therein lies the rub.  Homeopathic medicines are not drugs under U.S. law.  When the FDA was formed, homeopathic medicines were specifically excluded (along with a few other things, but those are stories for another day).  This was a political accomodation made to get the legislation passed, and the decision has never been revisited.

Homeopathic “medicines” can make whatever claim they want to about their efficacy.  The FDA does not check them, nor does anyone else.  The only restriction or regulation on homeopathic medicines is that they can't be dangerous – but there's not much chance of that, as they have virtually no active ingredients.

While the truth about homeopathic medicines is widely known, and information about them is readily available, there are still millions of people who swear by their usefulness, believe in their efficacy, and spend billions of dollars ever year on them.  That completely blows my mind.  Spending money on homeopathic medicine is like burning money, but without the entertainment value.

The British Homeopathic Society describes how homeopathic medicines are made.  If you have even the slightest regard for science, this should be enough to convince you of their fraud.  There's more stuff, equally ludicrous, elsewhere on their site.  Here Matt Parker, writing on the London Times, relates his introduction to homeopathic medicine.  And here's a nice little skit pointing out the absurdities of homeopathic medical “practice”:

Thursday, January 21, 2010


For the past few weeks, the number of readers daily hitting this site has been slowly and steadily growing.  This is after about 18 months of nearly constant readership, except for brief spikes when my blog gets linked from somewhere else (thank you!) or when there's a hot topic (such as ClimateGate) in the blogosphere.  I have no idea why the hits are increasing, as (so far as I can tell) I'm not doing anything different than I've always done.

But in any case: welcome, new readers.  Drop me a line if you've got something you'd like to say, and of course feel free to comment on the posts.  As you can see, my interests range all over the place, though there's allegedly a focus on things Jamulian around here...

Cute Animation...

Here.  Via my mom.

Origins of Some Sayings...

...and some other things.  Via my mom:
There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London , which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners were taken to the gallows, (after a fair trial of course) to be hung.

The horse drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ''ONE LAST DRINK''.

If he said YES, it was referred to as ONE FOR THE ROAD.

If he declined, that prisoner was ON THE WAGON.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were, "Piss Poor", but worse than that, were the really poor folk, who couldn't even afford to buy a pot, they "Didn't have a pot to Piss in" & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain, because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500's:

Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers, to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today, of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water..

The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top, afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt Poor." The wealthy had slate floors, that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on, they added more thresh, until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day, they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight, then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: ''Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old''.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon, to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "Bring home the Bacon." They would cut off a little, to share with guests and would all sit around talking and ''Chew the fat''.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning & death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided, according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or ''The Upper Crust''.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ''Holding a Wake''.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night, (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, ''Saved by the Bell '' or was considered a ''Dead Ringer''

And that's the truth.

Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

I was unable to verify any of these with a few minutes of searching, though I did run across an etymology site that dismissed the “threshold” story here as mere “folk etymology”.  True or not, they're all entertaining...

Weather in Lawson Valley...

The NOAA weather forecasts for yesterday were rather intimidating – up to 6 inches of rain, gusty winds to 60 MPH, possible thunderstorms with inch-diameter hail...yikes!  But we had none of that, though the weather has been interesting nonetheless.

First, the rain.  As I write this, we're at 2.4 inches (62mm) for the three-day storm (see the top graph at right, click to enlarge).  More is definitely coming, today and tomorrow.  As you can see from the graph, we had a couple brief periods of heavy rain, and then last night a long, steady, slow accumulation.

The barometric pressure is falling very quickly as I write this, indicating a storm front is passing through (see graph at left, click to enlarge).  You can also see the two downward blips from the earlier waves in this storm.  The pressure at the moment is the second-lowest I've recorded in over 7 years of data collection.  The record-holder occurred just last month, concurrent with the heavy rains we received then.

Finally, here's the NOAA radar from just a few minutes ago (at right, click to enlarge).  The scale at the left of the chart shows intensity of rain vs. color.  We don't often see large areas of “heavy” rainfall on our doppler radars, but in this series of storms these areas have been commonplace.  Yesterday there were some smaller areas trending toward the purple of “extreme” rainfall rates, but I forgot to take a snapshot of them.  Watching these radar images over time one can visualize the path that the storm cells are taking; for this storm, the cells moved from the WNW to the ESE.  Most of the intensity seemed to be knocked out of them by the time they reached Lawson Valley (which is indicated on the radar display by a circled plus sign to the right of the words “San Diego”).

I wonder what we'll see over the next couple of days?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Hitler Might Have Received the News that Scott Brown Won...

Tax the Rich...

“Tax the rich!” is the frequent rallying cry of the liberal left.  Somehow, in a way I've never fathomed, it seems more fair to them to take a higher percentage of income as tax from people who earn more.  This is styled as a “progressive” tax, because the income tax rate gets progressively higher as your earnings go up. 

The progressive income tax is certainly not unique to America, but we have put our own perverse twists on it.  The twists that have affected me personally include not only the progressively higher tax rates as my income has grown over the years, but (in recent years) the elimination of tax credits.  For example, our tax code has long had a tax credit for the interest paid on home mortgages.  In more recent years, that tax credit is removed for people whose income crosses a certain threshold.  Removing a tax credit is effectively the same thing as paying a higher tax rate.  An inverse example is the so-called “Earned Income Tax Credit”.  With this glorious example of progressive income redistribution, people who make below a certain threshold not only do not pay any income tax at all – we send them a check!   This used to be called welfare.

We have a lot of things like this in our tax code.  The net effect of them is to steepen the progressivity of our tax code.  When you earn more income, you pay a lot higher tax rate to the thieves federal government.

Here's an interesting real-world story that illustrates the ultimate effect of such progressivity...

Air Drop into Haiti...

The U.S. Air Force is on the job.  This was taken yesterday in Haiti...

Recognizing Faces...

Most humans have an amazing ability to recognize faces – more specifically, the ability to see a face – even at a distance – and be able to identify the person who owns that face by name.

I have part of that ability – the faces that I know, I can recognize from a very low resolution image (as in from a distance, or from a photo where the face is just a bit bigger than a dot).  Compared with most people, though, I only recognize a few faces.  I've seen studies that documented the average person's repertoire of recognized faces at well over 1,000.

The People's Seat...

Scott Brown won!  Awesome!

It feels a bit like the coyote caught (and ate) the roadrunner, or the Poe visitor didn't return – something that just wasn't supposed to happen, something you thought couldn't possibly happen.  And yet it did.

Nowhere in these United States is there a more liberal state than Massachusetts – it's justifiably famous for its liberality.  This is the state that gave us not only Ted Kennedy, but Barney Frank, John Kerry, and a long list of other “progressive” celebrities.  This is a state where the Democrats have a 3:1 advantage over the Republicans, who have merely a token place in state politics.  It's basically a one-party state, with a political machine second to none in the country.  In that state, Scott Brown won!

Scott Brown gave an excellent victory speech last night.  This lad has a real future in national politics.  In fact, there are some interesting parallels between him and a certain former young Senator from Illinois.  But back to the speech...  Here are a couple of my favorite moments:
Let me tell you when I first got the feeling something big was happening in this campaign. It was when I was driving along and spotted a handmade, Scott Brown yard sign that I hadn’t actually put there myself.

This little campaign of ours was destined for greater things than any of us knew, and the message went far beyond the name on the sign.

It all started with me, my truck, and a few dedicated volunteers.  It ended with Air Force One making an emergency run to Logan. I didn't mind when President Obama came here and criticized me - that happens in campaigns. But when he criticized my truck, that's where I draw the line.

And his wrap-up:
I go to Washington as the representative of no faction or interest, answering only to my conscience and to the people. I’ve got a lot to learn in the Senate, but I know who I am and I know who I serve.

I’m Scott Brown,

I'm from Wrentham,

I drive a truck, and I am nobody’s senator but yours.

That wrap-up sounds an awful lot like something a Tea Party candidate might say, should they win an election.  More of that, please, Scott – and with your actions, not just your rhetoric...

The distribution of votes within the state's districts is interesting.  Coakley won in the four largest urban centers (Boston, Springfield, Worchester, and New Bedford) and in a few other districts.  Scott Brown took everything else, and he took the rural areas with especially high margins.  If this were a state that had a history of close races (say, New Mexico, or Colorado), then you'd interpret this as a slight shift from former Democratic victories.  But in Massachusetts, where Democratic candidates for statewide office routinely win every district, this is a stunner – and it doesn't look anomalous, as it follows the usual pattern of Republican strength in the hinterlands and Democratic strength in the urban warrens...

The pundits are beside themselves with joy.  Scott Brown's victory gives them oodles of juicy new material to chow down on.

Me, I'm focused on a few near-term effects that are obvious:
  • The healthcare reform bill, in anything even remotely resembling its current form, is dead.  This is for two reasons: the direct effect of Scott Brown's 41st filibuster-enabling vote, and the indirect effect of the election on all the incumbent Democrats coming up for election in November.  While Obama may choose to ignore the message from the voters in this election, you can bet your sweet bippy that the Democratic congresscritters will not.

  • We're going to see a sudden and dramatic change in the modus operandi of the Democratic regime – because they now understand that no congressional seat is safe.  If Scott Brown can claim the “liberal lion's” seat in the liberal haven of Taxachussets, then any Democratic seat is at risk, not just the wobbly ones.  This will translate directly into less radical, more moderate behavior on the part of the Democrats – possibly even something recognizable as genuine bipartisanship.  Not because they want to, mind you, but only because the alternative is political death.
A couple of months ago I was feeling very pessimistic about the course of the federal government over The One's first term.  I'm feeling ever so much better about this now...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Exciting Election!

I'm looking forward to watching the returns from Brown vs. Coakley tonight, much more so than last November.  The latest polls have Brown ahead by 9 points, but the track record of the pollsters is so bad that I don't think this actually has much meaning, other than to be pleasant for Brown supporters to gaze at.

Meanwhile, the funniest thing I've read all morning is this, from Neo-Neocon:
Brown is the male Sarah Palin—with a law degree.
Coakley is the female John Kerry—without the charm.

Torrential Rains?

Not so much.  We did get 0.35" (9mm) of rain last night, and no unusual winds – a far cry from the rather alarming forecast.  As late as 6pm last night, my weather radio's alarm went off, and the NOAA warned me of flash floods, locally heavy downpours, and winds to 60 MPH.

Um, no.

Oh, well...

As many before me have observed, when the weather forecasters can't even tell me what's going to happen over the next few hours because the weather is too complex for their models, how can I have faith that their longer term weather models are correct?


Well, not really.  But here are some tricky brain-teasers.  Try not to read ahead to the answers.  Via my cousin Mike:
Below are four (4) questions and a Bonus question to test your perception, reasoning and the quickness of your logical processing.  They are stated simply so you should try to answer them instantly. To assure the accuracy of the results, you should not take your time, but instead, answer each of them immediately.  OK?

First Question:

You are a participant in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?

Answer: If you answered that you are first, then you are absolutely WRONG! If you overtake the second person and you take his place, YOU are in second place!

Try not to screw up next time. Now answer the second question, but don't take as much time as you took for the first question, OK?

Second Question:

If you overtake the last person, then you are...?

Answer: If you answered that you are second to last, then you are...WRONG again.  Tell me Sunshine, how can you overtake the LAST person??

You're not very good at this, are you?

Third Question:

Very tricky arithmetic! Note: This must be done in your head only. Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator.   Try it.

Take 1000 and add 40 to it.  Now add another 1000.  Now add 30.  Add another 1000. Now add 20.  Now add another 1000.  Now add 10.  What is the total?

Answer: Did you get 5000?  The correct answer is actually 4100.  If you don't believe it, check it with a calculator!

Today is definitely not your day, is it?  Maybe you'll get the last question right...  Maybe...

Fourth Question:

Mary's father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono, and ??? What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Answer: Did you Answer Nunu? NO! Of course it isn't.  Her name is Mary you idiot! Read the question again!

Okay, now the Bonus round, i.e., a final chance to redeem yourself:

A mute person goes into a shop and wants to buy a toothbrush. By imitating the action of brushing his teeth he successfully expresses himself to the shopkeeper and the purchase is done.  Next, a blind man comes into the shop who wants to buy a pair of sunglasses.  How does HE indicate what he wants?

Answer: It's really very simple  He opens his mouth and ask for it...

Does your employer actually pay you to think??  If so, do NOT let them see your answers for this test!

I'm certainly not showing my answers to my boss. I don't think he reads my blog...

Monday, January 18, 2010

American Rescue Operations in Haiti...

There are quite a few Americans on the ground now in Haiti, including several thousand U.S. Marines to provide some much-needed security.  The USS Carl Vinson (at right, click to enlarge) is there as well, and its crew are already offloading supplies (food, water, and medical supplies).

It's unusual, at least in my experience, to see one of these carriers with nothing but helicopters on the flight deck.  For this mission, however, it makes total sense: the helicopters can deliver the supplies to exactly where they're needed, with no need for an airport...



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mark Steyn on Brown vs. Coakley...

Need I say more?
Remember the good old days when the glossy magazine covers competed for the most worshipful image of the new global colossus? If you were at the Hopeychange inaugural ball on Jan. 20, 2009, when Barney Frank dived into the mosh pit, and you chanced to be underneath when he landed, and you've spent the past year in a coma, until suddenly coming to in time for the poll showing some unexotically monikered nobody called Scott Brown, whose only glossy magazine appearance was a Cosmopolitan pictorial 30 years ago (true), four points ahead in Kennedy country, you must surely wonder if you've woken up in an alternative universe. The last thing you remember before Barney came flying down is Harry Reid waltzing you round the floor while murmuring sweet nothings about America being ready for a light-skinned brown man with no trace of a Negro dialect. And now you're in some dystopian nightmare where Massachusetts is ready for a nude-skinned Brown man with no trace of a Kennedy dialect.

How can this be happening?

You don't need to have been in an actual coma. Subscribing to The Boston Globe, the unreadable and increasingly unread Massachusetts snooze-sheet, has much the same effect.

Go read the whole thing.  But put down your morning beverage first...

What a Crazy World We Live In...

The socialist paradise known as the People's Republic of North Korea is taking lessons on how to implement capitalism:
Perhaps as part of that plan, South Korea is sponsoring economics training courses in China, for senior North Korean officials. The training brings the North Koreans up to speed on how a market economy, and capitalism, really work. South Korea is used as an example, and most North Koreans now know, or suspect, that the situation is much different (and much better) in the south. It's believed that North Korea wants to get a guarantee, of non-interference, from the United States and South Korea, before it embarks on a program of economic reform. North Korea believes these reforms could cause unrest in the north, and doesn't want the U.S. or South Korea taking advantage of that. Actually, the minor economic reforms (farmers markets and such) over the last seven years has caused growing unrest. China is urging North Korea to get on with the economic reforms, like China did in the 1970s and 80s, and become self-sufficient. China does not want the two Koreas united (since the new Korea would likely be a democracy), but does not want to keep propping up a Stalinist dictatorship in the north.
While here in the (very successful) capitalist U.S., we're very busy trying to implement socialism (healthcare reform, cap-and-trade, enlarging unions, and radically expanding government).

What the hell is wrong with us, people?

USNS Comfort...

To most people's eyes, this is one ugly ship.

But I'll bet it looks absolutely beautiful to the Haitians when it arrives this coming Thursday.  It's on the way right now.

It's the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship with 250 beds and 550 medical personnel.

America is quietly providing real assistance, as it always does.  We already have a substantial presence on the ground there, far larger than all other countries and the U.N. taken together.  This is not to denigrate their efforts, but rather to make a point: the world depends on America's ability to project resources quickly, whether those resources are military, medical, financial, or logistical.  Private American citizens give more to foreign causes, per capita, than the citizens of any other country.  For the past 20 years, America's ability in these areas is more effective than the rest of the world combined, and that shows no signs of changing.  The rest of the world depends on us to provide (and pay for) these things.

As an American, I'm proud of these facts.  I wish we got a little more credit for them from our foriegn critics...

Only in the Politically-Correct, Bizzaro World of Public Schools...

...could a student (and his parents!) be told to get counseling because of a science fair project.

It seems that the student had an idea for how to make a motion detector, and he decided to use that idea for a science fair project.  He came up with a design that involved an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics.  He brought his project to school to show some friends.

That all sounds great to me: an interested and engaged student, working on a science project.  What could be wrong with that?

Here's what: the school's vice-principal took one look at the kid's science fair project and decided it might be a bomb.  He called the police.  They put the school into lockdown.  They sent in a robot to examine the project – and concluded it was just what the kid said it was, a harmless science fair project.  For some reason, they also decided to search the kid's home – and they found nothing at all. 

At this point, my conclusion would be that we need to publicly horse-whip the stupid SOB vice-principal.  Following that, we should fire all the vice-principals as useless, expensive, and unnecessary bureaucracy that contributes absolutely nothing to the education of our country's youth.

Do you think that's what they did?

Nope.  The vice-principal is still employed, along with all the other vice-principals, and there will be no public flogging.  Nor any private admonition.  In fact, all indications are that the school system entirely supports the vice-principal's actions.

Worse, the school “authorities” have told the kid and his parents to get counseling, and they've stated that the kid violated school policies.

What policies did he violate, one wonders?  The policy forbidding curiousity and interest in science?  The policy forbidding personal initiative?  The policy that forbids one from bringing objects to school that might be viewed by an “authority” with the IQ of a carrot as a bomb?

So now we've got a kid (and his family) who have been taught an important lesson by our public school system: never, ever display the slightest curiousity or enthusiasm for anything that wasn't directly ordered by the “authorities”.  March in lockstep, little ones – both now and in your adult future.

How utterly disgusting. 

I don't have any children, and won't have.  But if I did, I would do anything to avoid placing them in our awful public schools...

And I'm ashamed to say that this event happened on Friday right here in San Diego.

Oh, Jeez...

It seems like every time I have the slightest optimistic twinge for the future of the human race, this person pops back into the news.  I'd call her a moron, but that would be insulting to most morons.  I need a new word...

Saturday, January 16, 2010


This evening, as every evening, around 6:30 pm I walked outside to take the dogs for the just-before-bedtime walk.  This is something they look forward to with great anticipation, and I find it very relaxing.  This time of year it's dark at evening walk time, and tonight it was very dark; no moon in the sky at all.

As we walked, I glanced over at my old friend Orion, low in the eastern sky.  Just above the horizon (in the direction pointed to by Orion's belt), I spotted Sirius – it's the brightest star in the sky, so spotting it isn't hard to do.

But then I did a double-take, 'cause I could swear I saw Sirius moving around.  Even if you're not an astronomy buff, you probably realize that the distant stars like Sirius simply don't move around in any visible way.  Before you ask, no, I had not had any alcohol (or other mind-altering substance) this evening.  With some careful observation, I could see that Sirius was moving against the background stars – and of course this is simply not possible.

What on earth could be going on?  It would have to be one really weird atmospheric effect if Sirius was moving and neighboring stars weren't!

I ran into the house and grabbed a pair of binoculars.  When I got back outside, Sirius wasn't moving.  On the off chance that position mattered, I ran back down the driveway to the exact spot where I'd seen Sirius moving before.  Still no motion.  Now I was beginning to think hallucinations, or micro-stroke, or something along those lines.

I trudged back up toward the house along the driveway, keeping an eye on Sirius.  About 25 feet further toward the house, it moved again!  I got the binoculars on it, and I saw Sirius moving relative even to its nearest dim neighboring stars.  But then I noticed another star moving – a dim star just to the right and above Sirius from my current perspective.  And it was moving synchronously with Sirius.  I watched closely for about 30 seconds, and noted that there was both motion and blinking, which acted to accent the motion.

Then it dawned on me what was going on.  As I look to the east from my driveway, I see the profile of the hill I live on about 300 feet away.  That profile is a slope, rising into the south; lower to my left and higher to my right.  The Barnicks, my friends and neighbors, live at the top of that hill.  Their power line follows the same path, but higher because it's elevated on power poles.  From my perspective, at that moment, their power lines crossed the point in the sky where Sirius was.  I'm hypothesizing that the power lines were moving in the gentle breeze, and that their motion was causing the effects that I saw.

The proof was easy.  I just waited a couple of minutes, and sure enough, Sirius stopped moving (because it had risen just enough to clear the power lines).  And if I moved a few feet further along my driveway, Sirius started moving again, because once again the power lines were intersecting it.

I can't tell you how much better I feel, now that I can explain why Sirius was dancing around in the sky!

Haiti, From the Air...

The photo at right (click to enlarge) was taken from a U.S. Air Force UAV.  It shows the Haitian National Cathedral, almost entirely in ruins.

The Air Force has a Flickr page, where you can see more such photos as they come in.  There were three UAV photos posted at the time I wrote this.

Despite the subject matter and the emotions it evokes, I can't help but marvel at the simple fact that the U.S. Air Force has a Flickr page.  The world changes in most unexpected ways...


No matter what your take on Brown vs. Coakley, you've got to admit that this is one hell of a campaign ad:

Lots of dollars are being spent on this local race with national implications, all because the Democrats have just a single vote super-majority in the Senate – and if Scott Brown wins on Tuesday, they'll lose it...

The Meaning of “Thunk”...

Via my mom:


It's Not Just Me...

...who thinks the ISS is a multi-billion dollar waste of money, waiting to rain down junk upon our heads.  Michael Benson has a proposal: send it to Mars.  Not very practical, I'm afraid, and certainly not doable politically – but he certainly shares my opinion of the ISS's current value.


Martha Coakley's Shame...

Dorothy Rabinowitz has covered the horrendous Amirault case (prosecuted by Coakley) more thoroughly than any other reporter.  Read her impressions of Coakley.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Expensive Stop...

You've most likely heard about the program called “Head Start” that provides many kinds of aid for impoverished pre-school aged kids.  It's the program that inspired the now-trite political phrase “...for the children!”  In fact, Head Start provides quite a bit of aid to kids who aren't impoverished and who are older than pre-school age, but never mind that. 

Head Start was first implemented 45 years ago (in 1965), and during the course of its history has consumed well over $100 billion dollars (over $8 billion last year).  It's budget has risen every year by an amount well in excess of what you might expect from inflation and the population of impoverished kids.  From that perspective, it looks like any other classic government entitlement program.  Naturally and predictably, by any rational standard (including common sense), its bureaucracy is top-heavy with administrators.

Cato published a study last summer that looks at the actual effectiveness of Head Start.  This is something that the program itself has carefully avoided – another hallmark of a government-run entitlement program.  Cato's analysis is detailed and well worth reading.  Unlike most such studies, this one is very easily summarized:  Head Start is completely ineffective.

Hey, I guess that's just like most government programs, too!

I sure don't want these people running my health care...

Sober Up...

The graph at right (click to enlarge) shows the job losses over time in this recession (in red) as compared with other recessions since World War II. 

It's not a happy picture.  By extrapolation, we haven't hit the job-loss bottom of this recession yet.  Other indicators are improving, but for many people job losses are what hits home the worst – and clearly we have a ways to go yet on recovery in this recession.

More here.


Most of us can do little beyond the simple contribution of money to help the Haitian people devastated by the earthquake.  If you're like us, and would like to do what Americans have always done in such situations...I've added a widget at right to make it easy...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Kind of Doctor!

Via reader Simi L.:
 I love this Doctor!

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart only good for so many beats, and that it...don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiency. What does cow eat? Hay and corn.And what are these? Vegetables. So steak is nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chop can give you 100% of recommended daily allowance of vegetable product.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food are fried these day in vegetable oil. In fact, they permeated by it. How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?!?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for your figure, explain whale to me..

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat

and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat

and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine

and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine

and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats

and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like.

Speaking English is apparently what kills you.