Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I love chaparral mornings like this...
Yale to Greens: Climate change? Fuggetaboutit...
NASA admits that its temperature data is even worse than the rest of the IPCC data. A real accomplishment, that...
Weather forecasters are not drinking the Kool-ade...
Esquire writes about Marc Morano and the “global warming hoax”. Amazing to see this in the mainstream media...
Nice piece on climate modelers adjusting the data to make their models produce the “expected” result. Scientists behaving badly, and all that...
Indeed, in the last few days, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have strutted across the country with a vain swagger that would make a peacock blush, from the vice president’s classless, foul-mouthed victory boast at the White House, to the president’s contemptuous mocking of his political opponents at a rally in Iowa. Both leaders have been beaming like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, living in their own Tim Burton-like fantasy. And what have they actually achieved? The passage of a massively controversial, divisive and hugely expensive health care reform bill via a Democrat-dominated Congress in the face of overwhelming public opposition, and without a shred of bi-partisan support.I'd probably enjoy their liberal version of this just as much. Their press is like a nice Thai food dinner – spicy and tasty – whereas the American press is more like a bowl of cheap oatmeal that's had all the flavor cooked out of it...
Last week the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan exploded and sank with considerable loss of life. After an investigation, the South Korean government is now saying they think it was a North Korean mine. Story and analysis.
The Korean peninsula is one of the least stable and most dangerous places on earth right now. There's the potential for a human disaster of very large proportions there, and the paths to a peaceful resolution all seem improbable...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. 'Very few people were true Nazis' he said, 'but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bucch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, b=fore we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.'
We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.
The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.
The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent majority,' is cowed and extraneous.
Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.
The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.
And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?
History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:
Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.
Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts--the fanatics who threaten our wa= of life.
Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on! Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this and think about it, and send it on - before it's too late.
Very clever networking hack that allows one server on a private IP address behind a NAT to the Interenet talk to another such server behind a different NAT to the Internet – without requiring any firewall holes. I haven't actually tried the code yet, but if you're a networking kinda person, the explanation of how it works is fascinating...
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Exactly what's happened in our schools.
Are you pissed off yet?
New York's Off-Track Betting (OTB) system managed to do just that.
This is the caliber of bureaucrat we can look forward to in our medical care system under Obamacare. There's a good chance some of the laid-off OTB bureaucrats will end up in the medical care system, making decisions about things like whether you can have the MRI that might save your life...
Are you pissed off yet?
Over the years, I've dug into government supplied data perhaps 10 times. Each and every time the same thing happened: I discovered that the government made themselves look better by excluding the bad news. The “pros” all know this, and it's openly discussed all the time – they just switch to some other source of data.
For example, one of the most notorious examples is the unemployment percentage (currently being reported as around 10%). This government-supplied number leaves out all the so-called “discouraged” workers – those who have given up looking for work. They're not unemployed? What kind of logic is that? When you include the “discouraged” workers, the national unemployment rate right now is around 18%...
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Debbie: from 15 feet away, next to our cat tree – "Eeew!"
Debbie: “Maka Lea is sitting on the cat tree, puking!” (Maka Lea is one of our cats)
Debbie: “Never mind.”
Debbie: “Race is cleaning it up.” (Race is our two-year old Border Collie)
me: 10 minutes later, passing by the cat tree; the carpet is spotless
But not at what you thought I was pissed off at.
I'm not angry with our elected representives – for the most part (and this is true of Obama in particular) they're just doing what they said they were going to do.
I'm angry with the fucking retarded electorate who chose these bozos that are threatening my country and my personal liberty, not to mention my health and wealth. I'm really pissed off at them!
Obamacare has got to go, or ... we won't have a country left that's recognizable as America. What's happened to personal liberty, self-reliance, and personal responsibility? We might as well change our name to the “The United Wimps and Government Tit-Suckers”. Or something akin.
Are you pissed off yet, Americans (meaning those of you not already attached to the government tit)? You damn well ought to be – because your elected representatives just fired a huge insult at you, and then spit in your face. Next their hobnailed boots will tread on you, to destroy what tiny bit of American spirit remains...
On a related note, I note with some encouragement that of late in metropolitan San Diego (and on the freeways), Obama stickers are far less in evidence now than they were a year ago. Last January I noted that Obama stickers outnumbered Bush plus McCain stickers by something like four to one. These days I think it may actually be true that Bush stickers (haven't seen a McCain sticker for a while) outnumber Obama stickers. There are many cars showing the evidence of sloppily removed stickers. I see many more cars with “Miss me yet?” stickers and “Don't Tread On Me” flags. And in lunch break conversations, I haven't heard anybody who is happy with Obama for a couple of months now.
I have this fantasy that a couple of years from now we're going to look back at November 2010 as “The Great Comeuppance”. Lordy, I hope that comes to pass...
You know, those folks who will soon be running your medical care. Doesn't that make you feel better, now?
An idea whose time has come.While the sentiment expressed in the actual amendment language is something that resonates with nearly anyone, the rest of the email is largely a bunch of bull. To the best of my knowledge, this proposed 28th amendment (there are dozens of others) hasn't been formally proposed in any venue.
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn't pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that is being considered...in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.
Have each person contact a minimum of Twenty people on their Address list, in turn ask each of those to do likewise..
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States".
Personally I don't think this issue rises to the level of a Constitutional Amendment – there's only one reason why this couldn't be done as law (or even as a matter of Congressional procedure) is that our elected representatives refuse to do it. And we have a cure for that – throw the bums out!!!
A Short Spelling Lesson:
End of Lesson
- The last four letters in “American”: I Can
- The last four letters in “Republican”: I Can
- The last four letters in “Democrats”: Rats
No need to thank me. I am just helping you expand your education!
The creative writing professor apparently doesn't want it known that one of his students is, err, a creative writer. And he wants to censor Jeff. WTF?
Read Jeff tear him a new one...
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sheriff's investigators say a 12-year-old boy who claimed he had been kidnapped Tuesday night in Jamul fabricated the story.
The boy told deputies he made it up because he was out after dark and thought he would get in trouble, said sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Maxin.
Deputies interviewed registered sex offenders in the area after the boy told them that a tattooed man driving a offroad-type truck had pulled him into the truck and drove him for about a mile.
The boy showed deputies injuries on his left shoulder and left arm he said he got when the man grabbed him and pulled him into the truck.
Investigators determined that the boy's scratches and bruises were self inflicted.
Around 8 pm on Tuesday night, according to the unamed victim (a 12 year old boy is all we know), a very strange incident occurred very close to our home. I didn't find out about it until the first news reports yesterday. I've still only been able to find three very similar news reports (here, here, and here) and there's very little information in them. I've polled my neighbors, heard from more of them, and called the police and sheriff, all to no avail – nobody's saying anything.
The boy's story is strange but very detailed; I'd call it credible by not proven. If it's true, it's the kind of crime that we don't expect to see out in this neck of the woods – partly because it's common knowledge that most of the citizenry out here is well-armed. So anything that occurs like this sets off all sorts of alarm bells, where back in the city it might not even make the news.
If any of my readers know more, I'd really appreciate an update that I can share with the other denizens of our peaceful little valley...
A more commonsensical calling into question is this: scientists cannot predict with any degree of success the weather even for the next 30 days. It's not even just the detailed predictions that are wrong, it's also broad trends (for example, just last October, the British Meteorology Office was predicting a broadly warmer-than-usual winter for all of Europe. Er...not so much; instead this winter broke all sorts of records for cold). So if scientists can't predict the next 30 days, even in broad strokes, what on earth makes us think they can predict then next 100 years or more?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
But, as Charles Krauthammer said recently, “decline is a choice.” The Democrats are offering it to the American people, and a certain proportion of them seem minded to accept. Enough to make decline inevitable? To return to the young schoolboy on his uncle’s shoulders watching the Queen-Empress’s jubilee, in the words of Arnold Toynbee: “Civilizations die from suicide, not from murder.”
Go read the whole thing.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Me, I'm pinning my hopes on the sentimate that animates the Tea Parties: disgust with our entire current political class, whatever party they happen to be a member of. The underlying thing that got us into the situation is very simple: we elected these politicians.
Now we need to unelect them (by electing different people). And that's what the Tea Parties are all about. If we elect Tea Party candidates, I have little doubt that the healthcare abomination will be repealed. If we elect conventional candidates, I have little doubt that it will be expanded (it's a bureaucratic law, you know)...
Monday, March 22, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Fast forward to now, with the American Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) circling low over the moon's surface, mapping it in exquisite high resolution with imagery and radar. Using LRO's data, researchers have found Lunakhod 2, including the tracks it made as it roved around the lunar surface...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Just show 'em a picture of Obama's ass. They will know THAT one.I'm certain Robin's assertion is correct, and it earns my Comment of the Day...
Some assembly required...
If you have any information about Brenda's location, please call the Sheriff's Department: 858/565-5200.
Via SignOn San Diego...
Update: Good news! Brenda was found yesterday morning in El Cajon, unharmed. The news stories aren't reporting how she got from Jamul to El Cajon, or any other details, but really, who cares? “found” and “unharmed” pretty much sum up all that matters...
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Some professional journalists fail all of the above.
Call me cynical, but I'm not at all surprised...
Monday, March 15, 2010
c = 2πr,then
π = c/2rπ simply by dividing length of the long side (22”) by the length of the short side (6.5”). The result they got (3.338...) is only about 8% off – not bad at all for a kitchen-table experiment!
Now that you've computed π from first principles, you can celebrate by eating the pizza!
I told Clay that he needs to continue his pizza experiments to see if they can refine the value of π just a bit more...
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The Institute of Physics defends its critique of the ClimateGate scientists.
A nice independent analysis of the temperature data from the world's second oldest continuously operating weather station. No warming is evident.
The sun keeps surprising us, which just shows us how little we understand our main source of energy (and it has a huge effect on our climate). Interesting new observations, a theory, and several mysteries...
At first blush you might think that this is because consumers are saving more and borrowing less, but unfortunately this is not the case. In fact, the entire decline is due to consumers walking away from their debt, both mortgages and credit cards. This recession is the first time consumers have ever done that.
There's a message in that statistic. I'm not entirely sure what that message is, but I'm pretty darned sure it ain't good. The bottom line is that an interesting percentage of consumers no longer believe that they have a personal obligation to repay debt that they've incurred – and that there are no personal consequences of import when they do. Lenders will have trouble making a profit in such an environment, which means credit will get tighter, which means that major purchases like homes, cars, etc. will be down. Not good...
Via TigerHawk (and other analysis at several other sites).
Saturday, March 13, 2010
A U.S. Marine Colonel was about to start the morning briefing to his staff.
While waiting for the coffee machine to finish brewing, the colonel decided to pose a question to all assembled.
He explained that his wife had been a bit frisky the night before and he failed to get his usual amount of sound sleep.
He posed the question of just how much of sex was "work" and how much of it was "pleasure?"
A Major chimed in with 75-25% in favor of work.
A Captain said it was 50-50%.
A lieutenant responded with 25-75% in favor of pleasure, depending upon his state of inebriation at the time.
There being no consensus, the colonel turned to the PFC who was in charge of making the coffee and asked for HIS opinion?
Without any hesitation, the young PFC responded, "Sir, it has to be 100% pleasure."
The colonel was surprised and as you might guess, asked why?
"Well, sir, if there was any work involved, the officers would have me doing it for them."
The room fell silent.
God Bless the enlisted man.
Read the whole thing. And if you're in the market for a new car, do consider buying a Toyota: we've had four of them, and we've been very pleased with them...and they're an especially good deal right now...
It was a real pleasure last night to break out a second feeder and to fill them both up for our tiny friends...
This is obviously not about the town of Jamul, but I was intrigued enough to go follow the link. The Women in Islam site it links to is, for a non-Muslim, a window into the beliefs and practices of Islam, without the usual hype you'd find in a news story.Google Blogs Alert for: JamulWomen in Islam: The Position of the Beard in Islam
By Iman Bendjedidi
In Mu'jamul-Kabeer (11/41), there is a narration by Ibn 'Abbaas (radiyallaahu 'anhu), “Indeed, the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever disfigures his hair, there is no share for him with Allaah. ...
Women in Islam - http://imanbendjedidi.
One of the links I found on that web site was to an Islamic search engine, on which I searched for jihad. The resulting set of links is rather frightening, and in my mind puts the lie to the meme that Islam is the “religion of peace”. Unless, of course, their definition of “peace” is much different than mine...
A few minutes ago Debbie came into my office and asked “What's that smell?” I hadn't even noticed, but she was right – there was a smell that was a little like burned hair. Whatever it was, we could be certain that it was Not Good. Debbie's first thought was that our heater (which is running on this cold morning) had broken somehow. I went on a little exploration, following my nose.
Straight to the kitchen, where some time ago Debbie had started to hard-boil four eggs. That's some time ago, as in long enough for all of the water to long since have vaporized and for the pan and its contents to heat up enough to start decomposition at the molecular level. The hydrogen and oxygen in some of the organic material had disassociated and gassed off, leaving mostly carbon behind. Evil fumes were hissing out of various cracks in the former eggs. A couple of the eggs had popped like popcorn, turning almost inside out.
I turned off the burner (which was on “high”, naturally) and carefully inspected the saucepan. It is a very nice ScanPan, and it looked to me like it should be safe for me to pick up and take over to the sink, as the handle is very well insulated. Our sink is stainless steel, and I planned to set the pan down into a film of nice cold water.
So I picked the pan up (sure enough, the handle wasn't hot at all) and started toward our sink. About halfway there, there was a loud BANG! – another one of the eggs exploded, this time with the force of a large firecracker. Tiny fragments of carbonized egg and eggshell rocketed out in all directions at hypersonic speed. My face was covered with egg fragments, and a dozen or so shell fragments embedded themselves slightly into my skin. Fortunately the fragments cooled a bit before they hit me, and I wasn't seriously burned by any of them – it hurts a bit and I have some red “freckles”. Even more fortunately I was wearing my glasses, so there was no injury to my eyes (that could have been bad).
The part of the kitchen where I was standing had taken on an interesting aspect. There were pieces of extra-hard-boiled egg everywhere. On the floor. On the cabinet sides and tops. On the ceiling. Over the entire front of my body. In my hair.
The dogs were quite excited about this. They sensed an opportunity that was unlikely to repeat itself – eggs on every lickable surface. We kept them out of the kitchen; while we cleaned up, they sat in the doorway with very sad expressions.
I finally did get the pan into the sink, and cold water eventually cooled it down to room temperature. In the process it generated a very impressive amount of steam. I'm not sure how hot that pan got, but it was definitely much hotter than we've ever seen before in our kitchen! We're still not sure if the pan is salvageable – we're giving it a good soaking before we attempt to clean it...
What did I learn from all this? Well, the most interesting thing is that eggs make a reasonably good explosive. Who knew?!
I was introduced to the recycling scam myself about 15 years ago when we lived in Chula Vista. I accidentally discovered that the vast majority of the trash I so carefully sorted and placed into recycling bins on the curb was simply loaded onto trucks and taken to landfills. At that time, the only trash that was actually recycled was the aluminum cans. The carefully sorted plastics, glass, paper, etc.? To the landfill.
The problem was that there were no customers to buy the recyclable materials – and there were no customers because despite all the environmentalist hype, there weren't enough profitable ways to use all that material. My understanding (confirmed by Penn and Teller) is that today the situation is even worse. That is, the ratio of the available recyclables to the market for those recyclables is even higher now.
To add to the idiocy, all that sorted “recyclable” trash was simply dumped into the same trucks with all the other trash, too. All those bins, all that forced labor to do the sorting – all for nothing but show. Oh, and a great deal of money for the city and the unions...
Friday, March 12, 2010
A nice analysis of urban heat island effect, using Fort Collins and Boulder...
What might be better than tree rings as a proxy for pre-1900s temperatures? Clams. Seriously!
Interesting new Gallup poll results on how Americans feel about AGW...
Harold Ambler ponders scientists access to the press, especially skeptical scientists (noting especially the impact of ClimateGate on the ability of scientists skeptical of AGW to get the notice of the press)...
Something to be thankful for...
Read the whole thing.The shallowness, the lack of seriousness of modern presidential candidates is almost unbelievable. It is also a mystery: How could this be? If today a candidate told me he was not crazy, I will go with it, for it would be news.
P.S. Ms. Noonan appears to be back from whatever intellectual journey she's been on for the past 18 months or so, as she kinda-sorta supported Obama. Welcome back, Peggy. We hope you stick around a while; we've missed your scribblings...
What good did all the airport legislation achieve? None. It simply means that you and I now must get to the airport six years before the plane is due to leave and arrive at the other end with yellow teeth, smelly armpits and no nail file. Did it prevent a chap from getting on board with exploding underpants? No, it did not.His two-word punchline is perfect, and something the nanny-staters seem to reject. Read the whole thing.
It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The IPCC is getting an independent review. Well, that's what they're saying, anyway...
Willis Eschenbach has a nice analysis of problems with temperature data from the Himalayas...
What he said.
People who know me are often surprised that I support legalizing drugs. Judge Jim Gray does a better job of articulating my position that I could do myself.
FWIW, I've been to the Netherlands. It's obvious that what many fear would happen here (us turning into a nation of drooling stoners) has not happened there...
The graph at right shows what's happened with tax withholding over the past ten years. It's no surprise that during the recession the tax withholdings go down, but the amount of the downturn may be. Coupled with record expenditures, this can only mean one thing: massive new federal debt.
Makes me glad I don't have any children; I don't have to worry about my progeny inheriting a planet-sized debt load...
There is nothing worse than a cold, wet nose on your shins. Except, perhaps, wishing you could feel that icy cold nose just one more time.Go read the whole thing. Bring Kleenex...
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Watts Up With That? has posted a nicely-done study of electronic temperature measurement biases (including a link to the PDF of the original paper). There are lots of interesting details for anyone into the engineering, but the conclusion is easy for anyone to understand: there are systematic errors in the three most common electronic temperature measurement systems, most of which tend to produce warmer-than-actual readings.
Also thanks to Watts Up With That?, I discovered the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) web site – chock full of darned interesting data. For starters, here's their March 3, 2010 newsletter observing that Antarctic sea ice extent is higher than normal, Al Gore notwithstanding. The capper for me was this animation tool, which lets you do some very interesting see-it-with-your-own-two-eyes kinds of observation. For example, I set it up to animate the Arctic sea ice extent from 1990 to present, showing me just January. The first surprise was how much the seat ice extent bounces around from year-to-year. The second surprise is that the noise level far exceeds any observable signal – the kind of thing that makes any engineer or scientist suspicious about any claim of observed trends...
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The states that passed this law expected that Amazon would simply sigh and comply. They were wrong. Amazon's reaction is to play hardball: it is shutting down the Amazon Associates program for anyone in those states. This is a lose-lose-lose proposition: Amazon loses a source of referrals, the Amazon Associate loses a source of sales commissions, and the state loses the income tax (and most likely, some sales taxes) on the Amazon Associate's lost income. It's a great example of ignoramuses in government not realizing what the consequences of their actions would be (despite Amazon telling them loud and clear), and it's also a great example of an American business exercising it's freedom.
Let's hope the states wise up before too much time goes by. The last thing we need in this recession is more government meddling with successful business models...
After you read the letter, read the comments below – many are from teachers or professors, and you'll see why our students leave the educational system woefully unprepared for the real world...
Monday, March 8, 2010
Taillights used to be different, and somehow this happened so gradually that I never noticed it before.
These days as you travel down the freeway at night, you'll see red taillights into the distance, all of virtually the same color (the LED lights are subtly different, but it's a tiny little difference). Every once in a while you'll see the flashing amber of turn signals – and even they are of a perfectly uniform color.
This was not so when I was a kid. I remember in the '50s and '60s that the taillights stretching out in front of you at night would be of many shades of red, and of very variable intensity. It was common to see cars with taillights so dim you could hardly see them. Some of the reds were almost purplish; others bordered on orange. Amber turn signals were quite rare – nearly all cars used a single lamp for both brake light (steady) and turn signal (flashing).
It also used to be more common to see broken taillight lenses, as it was much harder to get replacments for cars more than a few years old. Parts stores were relatively uncommon, and quite often couldn't get obscure parts like taillight lenses for cars more than a few years old. Junkyards were your main resource, and even they were iffy – you had to find a junkyard that happened to remember having a car like yours. There were no computers, no web sites to search across many junkyards, etc.
Technology changes many little things in our lives...
Sunday, March 7, 2010
The owner, who often takes care of me himself, speaks English with a very thick accent. I often have trouble understanding him. Yesterday I went down for my semi-annual haircut (just kidding – I go at least three times a year), and the owner greeted me, then motioned me aside, out of earshot of the other barbers and customers.
“Err hou choo?” he asked. I didn't comprehend, and I let him know. We went back and forth a few times, both of us a little frustrated, until finally it dawned on me what he was asking: “Are you a Jew?”
I suppose my beard (a white Santa Claus-style beard that I don't trim very often) got him wondering. But the fact that he asked got the ponder going. Why did he care? Would he refuse to serve Jews? Did Jews require the use of special clippers? Perhaps only certain barbers would work on Jews? I didn't like where any of these thoughts were going.
So I told him I was not a Jew – and I asked him why he wanted to know.
With his thick accent, it took me a while to understand what he was telling me, but I'm very glad I took the trouble.
My barber is a Chaldean, an Iraqi Christian. There are many Chaldeans here, refugees from Saddam, and over the years I've learned a bit about their history. Amongst the things I knew: the Chaldeans were responsible for forcing many Jews to leave Iraq. In general, relations between Chaleans and Jews have been less than cordial. Much less.
But the message from my barber wasn't what I'd expect, given that background. What my barber finally managed to convey to me was this: the reason he wanted to know if I was Jewish is because he wanted to be certain that he never charged a Jew for a haircut – even if that Jew came in every day for a trim.
Because my barber's two sons and his brother were saved from Saddam in 1999 by Jews in his home town in northern Iraq. Jews whom Saddam treated even more cruelly than he did Chaldeans. Jews who truly had no reason to be friendly to their Chaldean neighbors. Jews who nonetheless risked their lives to hide my barber's family from the Iraqi troops bent on arresting and executing them, and then smuggled them over the border to Syria, from where they eventually escaped to asylum the U.S.
So no Jew pays for a haircut at my barber's shop. And I have a new reason to patronize him. I'm not sure he wants his story widely known, so I'm not going to publish his name, or that of his barbershop. But if you know Rancho San Diego, you can probably figure it out...
USA Today on scientists' reactions to the AGW debate and the rise of AGW skepticism after ClimateGate...
Oops – global warming didn't kill those lovely Costa Rican toads after all...
A little humility would be nice. So would a sense that he answers to the public rather than to some self-proclaimed (and self-determined) imperative of history and/or call of destiny. What Obama seems to fail to understand is that his own, overblown self-assurance and self-mythologizing is actually hampering his own goals. One need not stretch too far to observe that one of the factors adding to public opposition to Obamacare is a growing public disquietude about the lack of responsiveness, the authoritarian certitude, and the zealous near-fanaticism of the government that would run the new health-rationing system – all character traits as embodied by the president himself.Read the rest of his piece, it's all good...
It is difficult to dislodge the educational establishment. In New Orleans, a hurricane was required: since Katrina, New Orleans has made more educational progress than any other city, largely because the public-school system was wiped out.My blunt title for their article is How the Unions are Destroying U.S. Education. They title it Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers. Either way, it's extraordinary to see a piece like this in Newsweek. It's the end time, folks, it must be...
Andrew McCarthy concluded a shrewd analysis of the political realities thus:Don't miss the rest of it.
"Health care is a loser for the Left only if the Right has the steel to undo it. The Left is banking on an absence of steel. Why is that a bad bet?"
Indeed. Look at it from the Dems' point of view. You pass Obamacare. You lose the 2010 election, which gives the GOP co-ownership of an awkward couple of years. And you come back in 2012 to find your health care apparatus is still in place, a fetid behemoth of toxic pustules oozing all over the basement, and, simply through the natural processes of government, already bigger and more expensive and more bureaucratic than it was when you passed it two years earlier. That's a huge prize, and well worth a midterm timeout.
I've been bandying comparisons with Britain and France, but that hardly begins to convey the scale of it. Obamacare represents the government annexation of "one-sixth of the U.S. economy" – i.e., the equivalent of the entire British or French economy, or the entire Indian economy twice over. Nobody has ever attempted this level of centralized planning for an advanced society of 300 million people. Even the control-freaks of the European Union have never tried to impose a unitary "comprehensive" health care system from Galway to Greece. The Soviet Union did, of course, and we know how that worked out.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in another policy, it is time for change. We must make haste. We can't wait any longer. Time is running out. If I may quote one of my favourite American presidents: Ronald Reagan once said: "We need to act today, to preserve tomorrow". That is why I propose the following measures, I only mention a few, in order to preserve our freedom:Fewer Chamberlains, more Churchills. Oh, yes. Faster, please. As they say, read the whole thing.
First, we will have to defend freedom of speech. It is the most important of our liberties. In Europe and certainly in the Netherlands, we need something like the American First Amendment.
Second, we will have to end and get rid of cultural relativism. To the cultural relativists, the shariah socialists, I proudly say: Our Western culture is far superior to the Islamic culture. Don't be affraid to say it. You are not a racist when you say that our own culture is better.
Third, we will have to stop mass immigration from Islamic countries. Because more Islam means less freedom.
Fourth, we will have to expel criminal immigrants and, following denaturalisation, we will have to expel criminals with a dual nationality. And there are many of them in my country.
Fifth, we will have to forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in Europe. Especially since Christians in Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia are mistreated, there should be a mosque building-stop in the West.
And last but not least, we will have to get rid of all those so-called leaders. I said it before: Fewer Chamberlains, more Churchills. Let's elect real leaders.
It's the theory that there is an elite group of people who are very knowledgeable and their knowledge should be used to guide the decisions of society. So they are not simply an elite in the sense that sinecurists might be an elite, but they are elite with an anointed role in the world. To put it uncharitably, as someone once said, "Born booted and spurred to ride mankind." Examples of that would not be hard to find in Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
JoNova has the sad details on how much taxpayer money has gone to AGW-related research and PR. One thing is certain: the notion that the AGW skeptics are the well-paid tools of big oil was always ludicrous (where's my check?!), but even if it were true it would be utterly dwarfed by the taxpayer money funding the other side...
Seeing those numbers decline would sure do a lot for my confidence going forward...
I've been using this now for two days, and for certain kinds of searchs – especially those where you're unsure of the terms to use – it has proved quite useful. It's also sometimes quite entertaining!
Friday, March 5, 2010
JoNova follows the money. Hint: it's ugly.
John Graham-Cumming, a well known British programmer, has submitted testimony to the British parliamentary investigation of ClimateGate. He doesn't think much of the CRU code. Gee, where have I heard that before?
Bad news for Al Gore: the Arctic ice is not disappearing...
There are plenty of men who have done the same thing, of course, but my impression is that there are quite a few more women. And I wonder why this would be so...
In rough terms, it looks like for the past thirty years, average disk capacities have increased quite steadily by about 60% per year. This is quite close to the same factor by which the $ per megabyte declines, and jibes well with an observation many people have made: the price per disk drive is relatively invariant. I'm not sure if that's just coincidence, or if it reflects market forces driving the capacity inversely to the $ per megabyte...
About 15 years ago, on a very chilly winter visit to Tallinn, Estonia, I had quite an adventure on just such a frozen Baltic Sea. I rented a car and drove out to the very end of the large peninsula just northeast of Tallin, past the small town of Rohuneeme. The road petered out into a dirt track and ended up on the shore at the northernmost point on the peninsula. It was quite lonely out there at the end of the road; not another soul was in sight.
The sea was frozen over that year (I think it was 1995, but I'm not certain of the date). I was fascinated by two aspects of it – the beautiful blue color of the frozen sea ice, and the fantastically complex surface. Sea ice is nothing at all like lake ice – there's nothing smooth about it at all. It gives the appearance of having frozen in various sized chunks, which are then all mooshed together and frozen in random orientations.
It was clear that the ice was frozen quite a ways down, and was quite safe to walk on – so off I went on a little hike. I walked perhaps a mile offshore, maybe a little more. The beauty of the blue ice entranced me, and the sense of isolation and aloneness out there was quite profound. I had good warm clothing and sturdy boots, so I was quite comfortable.
At some point during this walk I became aware of a commotion towards the shore. Looking that way, I saw something I certainly didn't expect: a jeep (looked like something straight out of World War II) was making it's way, fitfully, out onto the ice. It looked like it had left the shore right where I had parked, and it was headed towards me. A guy in the jeep was waving at me, a bit frantically and conveying some urgency.
At the moment I thought they just figured I was some stupid tourist who'd gotten lost and was in trouble, and they were coming to rescue me. I'd had my fill of ice-walking, so I headed back in toward them. They kept moving toward me, but I'm not sure they were going any faster than I was – the surface was so rough that the jeep was having difficulty finding a route. Finally, after perhaps 20 minutes had gone by, we met up.
There were two men in the jeep, fit young men who looked like military guys. They were in uniform, but not carrying any weapons. Neither of them spoke any English (and of course I didn't speak any Estonian). They weren't at all unfriendly, but they made it clear they wanted me in the jeep, pronto. So I hopped in, they turned around and headed for shore as fast as they could go.
At some point during that trip back to the shore, I noticed that both men kept glancing to the east, looking worried. At some point I looked to see what they were looking at, and got a terrific shock – an absolutely enormous ship was bearing down on us! After watching it for a minute or so, I realized that it was an icebreaker, larger than any icebreaker I'd ever heard of, much less seen. Its path would have taken it between where I was and the shore, making it impossible for me to walk back. Now I knew where that sense of urgency came from!
When we got back to shore, one of the guys got on his walkie-talkie (another refugee from World War II – a monster thing that looked like it weighed 20 pounds). He finally found someone on the other end who spoke English, and we had a strange conversation involving me, the two guys with me, and the helpful translater on the other end of the walkie-talkie. The translater kept injecting his own disbelieving comments as I explained what I was doing out there. Somehow none of them seemed to believe it was credible that an American would be walking on Estonian ice just for fun. The term “crazy American” came up frequently.
Eventually they decided against summary execution, and later decided I didn't even need to be arrested. However, they told me to follow my two rescuers off the peninsula; they wanted me out of the area. So I got in my car and followed the two of them back south, toward Tallinn. They stopped in the town and got out of the jeep, so I did likewise, not knowing why. One of the guys went into a shop, had a short conversation, came out and then my two rescuers motioned for me to follow them as we marched into another shop. This shop had two people inside: a woman perhaps 40 years old and a girl who appeared to be 13 or 14 years old. The girl spoke English, and she was the reason we were there.
It seems my two rescuers wanted a more detailed explanation, and for that we needed someone who could better translate. The girl (whose name I've forgotten) did an admirable job. The older woman was her mother, and she participated in the conversation as well, with great interest, asking all sorts of questions. She was the first person I'd run into who had no trouble understanding my desire to walk out on the ice – she was all smiles when she figured out that I simply thought it was beautiful.
Towards the end of our conversation, my rescuers asked if there was a place in town to get dinner. Next thing we knew, we all were invited to the shopkeeper's home for dinner, and my adventure continued with a family dinner at an Estonian home. That dinner was a delight: the food was simple, but very good and plentiful. My rescuers had more beers than they should have, but they were considerably more relaxed afterwards. I don't drink beer, but it turns out that the man of the household (who was at dinner as well) shared my taste for alcoholic cider, and he and I had a few glasses with dinner. We all stayed there talking until evening time, having a grand old time.
None of these five Estonians had ever met an American before; from their point of view I was an exotic specimen, but not at all what they expected. As on many other occasions in the early years of my Estonian visits, I got questions like “Do you know any movie stars?” But I also got lots of questions about what life was really like for ordinary Americans, and we swapped many tales of life. Naturally we both discovered that while our circumstances were different, people were still people, much the same no matter where they happen to live.
I drove (slowly and carefully!) back to Tallinn after that dinner, with the satisfaction one has after having a fine adventure. I knew even then that this would be a memory I'd cherish...