Friday, April 30, 2010
Why is this hypocritical? Well, here's the short version: Mexico's immigration policies are far stricter than either the U.S. Federal restrictions in practice, or the Arizona law just passed. But some Mexican officials are hollering loudly about the “inhumanity” and “unfairness” of our laws...
The biggest and best surprise you can see at right: we somehow managed to be in the right place at the right time to catch a group of Western Tanagers in their annual migration north (they normally are found in high-altitude conifer forests, not the desert!). Altogether we saw 6 or 7 individuals. The male in the photo at right didn't try very hard to get away from me – I was able to get just 3' (1 meter) away from him to take this photo with my macro lens. I'm guessing that the poor little fellow was just too tired to bother flying away...
Some other highlights: feasted on a chicken-fried steak breakfast at Descanso Junction Restaurant, spotted a Brant goose (presumably also migratory) on the high stretches of Rodriguez Canyon, a male wild turkey in full display, found lilacs for sale in Wynola (and brought home three big bunches!), and stocked up on Dudley's bread and fruit bars. A very nice day...
More photos in later posts...
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
FCC Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own funds, for my personal use and not for the purpose of review. Neither the manufacturer or the reseller asked me to review this product, nor was I compensated in any way for the review.
First is Churchill, by Roy Jenkins. This is a superb biography of Winston Churchill, written by a well-known member of the House of Lords. Its focus is political, but the other aspects of Churchill's remarkable life are not neglected. I've read several other biographical works on Churchill, all focused on his World War II leadership; this one filled in many of the blanks for me.
Second is a much shorter read: The Fall of Fortresses by Elmer Bendiner. This is a classic work that I had never previously read. It is by far the best depiction of the life of a bomber crew that I have ever seen. Bendiner was a B-17 navigator who survived his 25 missions and came home in one piece. Thirty-five years after the war, and after gaining a much wider perspective, he wrote this work that ranges from how the windows frosted up at high altitude to pondering the strategic wisdom of the bomber strategy.
I find it shameful that a reward might prompt someone to come forward with information that they otherwise wouldn't have volunteered. Nevertheless, I hope the family has success in bringing the hit-and-run driver to justice...
Now the Ninth Circus has done it again, by upholding the certification of a ludicrous class action suit against Wal-Mart. There will be an appeal, and hopefully the Supremes will take the appeal and will spank the Ninth Circus. Again.
But this column of his is within an area he has actual expertise, and I think he's spot on when he points out that the credit ratings agencies (like Moody's and Standard & Poor's) deserve a healthy dollop of blame for the financial system meltdown of 2008/2009. He quotes one statistic as evidence that the ratings agencies were deeply corrupt: 93% of all formerly AAA rated mortgage-backed securities are now rated as junk. The securities haven't changed, only their rating.
Yup, that looks like a problem to me. One of the few things I've seen that genuinely appear to need some regulatory reform...
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
There must be something in the beer over there. Via my mom (how on earth does she find such things?)...
I'm sure my German friends are wondering at my wonder...
Barack Obama is more irritating than the other nuisances on the left. Nancy Pelosi needs a session on the ducking stool, of course. But everyone with an ugly divorce has had a Nancy. She’s vexatious and expensive to get rid of, but it’s not like we give a damn about her. Harry Reid is going house-to-house selling nothing anybody wants. Slam the door on him and the neighbor’s Rottweiler will do the rest. And Barney Frank is self-punishing. Imagine being trapped inside Barney Frank.Har! Go read the whole thing.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Even after the recent Super Bowl victory of the New Orleans Saints, I have noticed a large number of people implying with bad jokes that Cajuns aren't smart. I would like to state for the record that I disagree with that assessment. Anybody that would build a city 5 ft.below sea level in a hurricane zone and fill it with Democrats is a damn genius.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
With all the new technology regarding fertility recently, a 65-year-old friend of mine was able to give birth. When she was discharged from the hospital and went home, I went to visit.
"May I see the new baby?" I asked.
"Not yet," she said... "I'll make coffee and we can visit for a while, first."
Thirty minutes had passed, and I asked, "May I see the new baby now?"
"No, not yet," she said.
After another few minutes had elapsed,
I asked again, "May I see the baby now?"
"No, not yet," replied my friend.
Growing very impatient, I asked,
"Well, when can I see the baby?"
"WHEN HE CRIES!" she told me.
"WHEN HE CRIES?" I demanded.
"Why do I have to wait until he CRIES?"
"BECAUSE I FORGOT WHERE I PUT HIM, O.K.?!!"
Obama is the shepherd I did not want.
He leadeth me beside the still factories.
He restoreth my faith in the Republican party.
He guideth me in the path of unemployment for his party's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the bread line,
I shall fear no hunger, for his bailouts are with me.
He has anointed my income with taxes,
My expenses runneth over.
Surely, poverty and hard living will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will live in a mortgaged home forever.
I am glad I am American,
I am glad that I am free.
But I wish I was a dog...
And Obama was a tree.
This year's conference had a new feature: customers could make appointments with individual developers through a web site. This worked out very well, as it gave us a way to find each other in the chaos of the conference. Every meeting I had with a customer was useful to both the customer and I.
Great show - but I'm glad it's over! Such things always tire me out, and so it was this time. This morning we slept in a little bit (didn't get up until 5 am!), and today we are working outside in the beautiful weather of our California mountains...
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Personally, I think it's just plain crazy. I want out of this socialist spiral!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Words matter, and I'm not the only one who doesn't much like his...
Our healthcare future, I'm afraid...unless we kill the bill!
Mark Steyn wishes you happy Zimbabwe Day...
Global warming, global wetting...
Anthony Watts finds a huge problem with METAR temperature data – most likely you won't be surprised to hear that the problem causes false reports of higher-than-actual temperatures...
Saturday, April 17, 2010
In years to come – assuming, for the purposes of argument, there are any years to come – scholars will look back at President Barack Obama's Nuclear Security Summit and marvel. For once, the cheap comparisons with 1930s appeasement barely suffice: To be sure, in 1933, the great powers were meeting in Geneva and holding utopian arms-control talks even as Hitler was taking office in Berlin. But it's difficult to imagine Neville Chamberlain in 1938 hosting a conference on the dangers of rearmament, and inviting America, France, Brazil, Liberia and Thailand … but not even mentioning Germany.As always with the inimitable Mr. Steyn, read the whole thing...
Note first that the blue states are all those with our largest cities, the traditional strongholds of both Democrats and unions. The dark red states are all completely unsurprising – exactly where you'd expect a (now proven) progressive to be disliked.
But there are a few surprises to me on this map, and I think this bodes very ill for the Democrats in November, barring some kind of miracle (like, say, a spectacular economic recovery). Consider these states: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Florida. These are all states you'd expect to be gung-ho supporters of a progressive President – but they are not. There are varied reasons for this per state, but overall it looks like Obama has managed to alienate an interesting percentage of even his base. Great!
Combine this with the high level of energy on the anti-Obama side of the equation, and I'm starting to feel downright optimistic about November. The past tells me I shouldn't be – there are just too many sheeple running around worrying about weighty matters like pink disco balls – but I just can't help it...
This really pissed me off. Two main reasons: (1) his claim to have lowered taxes is a breathtaking lie, and (2) the President of the United States is mocking citizens of the United States for exercising their rights.
I'm not the only one who's upset about this: I'm in excellent company with Darleen, No Sheeples, Allahpundit, Krauthammer, Rush, and Scott Brown.
But Rush is right: November is coming...
Are you pissed off yet?
Friday, April 16, 2010
Steve McIntyre (mentioned positively in the RSS report) proceeds with his usual calm but merciless examination of it.
Jean catches NASA's GISS data in direct conflict with the actual measured data. Oops. How's that linear interpolation thing working out for you, James Hansen?
After the war, Audie earned a fortune in the movies – then squandered it all on wine, women, and gambling. When he died in 1971, his widow inherited only a large debt.
the death of his wife (at left) this week. She spent the last 35 years taking care of wounded and sick soldiers at a VA hospital in Sepulveda.
I'd say Audie married a woman above his rank...
"It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them."My emphasis.
I suspect that remark was unintentionally revealing. The man does not like it that America is a superpower, and especially that we are the only one still standing.
Personally, I think it's absolutely essential that America remain a superpower – and preferably the only one still standing. I'd much prefer that America be the world's cop rather than, say, Iran, India, Israel, or (shudder) France...
Thursday, April 15, 2010
But a funny thing happened on my way to the revolution. That lightning bolt hit, and I changed forever.But go read the whole thing – 'tis fascinating...
And now I see that that progressivism is simply children acting out, thumbing their noses at Mommy and Daddy and God Himself. This explains the perpetual temper tantrums and the lost, vacant looks.
While kids are naturally self-centered, when adults behave this way, they're narcissists. Growing up means no longer placing oneself at the center of the universe.
It requires facing the facts: This existence is unfair and imperfect. No human being, no matter how charismatic, can change the nature of reality.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
For such a dynamic industry, this is remarkable stability. Why is this so? The only reason that seems plausible to me is inertia...
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Willis Eschenbach ponders the presentation of temperature data and its effect on our perceptions of climate change. Very interesting...
The IPCC's new math, wherein non-existent trends (supporting their narrative, of course) are invented...
Monday, April 12, 2010
I can never decide whether Hubble's more important contribution is its excellent science data production, or its revelations of the beauty of the cosmos...
Felix Baumgartner is going to jump from 120,000', and will likely go supersonic.
Our first step is to rip out some old flagstones, perhaps 30 of them. Some of the flagstones are fairly large, up to 8 or 9 square feet. All of them had been set in a thin layer of poor concrete, about one inch thick. The largest ones approached 200 pounds; I could just barely lift them up to put them on a little two-wheeled truck.
After three hours of flagstone-lifting, we were beat – especially me. This is the first hard physical work I've done this year, and my lack of condition really showed. We have a nice pile of flagstones now, sitting up against a post – but we're only about half finished! We spent another hour hoeing some weeds and grass off an embankment under a liquid amber tree, and laying down some pine-bark mulch. Should make the tree happy!
By the time I got back into the house last night, I was sunburned and my muscles felt like quivering jello. Everything hurt. A nice warm shower felt oh-so-good. When I got out of the shower, the smell of grilling steaks filled the air – Debbie was outside on the grill with two huge slabs of beef, and some potatoes were in the oven. Sure tasted good after all that hard work!
This morning I don't feel quite so bad. I think there are three, maybe four fingers that are pain-free. One earlobe, too. Everything else still hurts...
A few minutes later, Debbie appeared, laughing, with a towel that she stuck under my feet. It was warm, and it felt absolutely heavenly on my feet. But it wasn't actually just a towel, it was a SnuggleSafe pet warmer – for several years now she's been warming up a few of these every night for our outside cats. You nuke them in the microwave for a few minutes, and they stay warm all night.
Well, I can now attest to their effectiveness as a foot-warmer! I think the manufacturer is missing a huge market opportunity &dnash; these things beat the pants off a hot water bottle because they stay warm so long.
If you're wondering how they work, they're filled with fairly exotic stuff called a “phase change material” – far more effective than water at storing heat. The one that Debbie heated up for me last night was still warm when we got up this morning...
I don't own a linear scale, so I can't measure it with precision – but I'm reasonably good at estimating weight. My best guess is that he can pull with 75 to 80 pounds of force – not bad for a dog that weighs 40 pounds!
But there's more to his ability than just his pulling force: he can sustain that force over a long period with remarkable steadiness. Once he's decided he wants to head in some direction, it is for all the world like a small tractor is pulling you along, slowly and steadily, in low gear.
On this morning's walk, I had a demonstration of exactly this. Our nocturnal visitor had returned, and all three field spaniels were heading in exactly the same direction. I had Lea and Moi's leashes in my left hand, and together they pulled with perhaps 50 pounds of force, intermittently. Miki's leash was in my right hand, and he was pulling steadily with about 75 pounds of force – no perceptible variation at all. Between the three of them I had quite a job staying on my feet!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Hmmm... That whole “transport to Australia” thing starts to sound more reasonable. We just need to substitute something for Australia to bring the plan up to date. Perhaps Johnson Atoll? Yeah, that's the ticket!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Dear President Obama,Mr. Estes, you just made my day. Here's hoping that you win that final battle. I'm doing what I can to help, and so are many other Americans...
My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor, allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.
One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.
So here goes.
I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.
I can't figure out what country you are the president of. You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like: "We're no longer a Christian nation" "America is arrogant" - (Your wife even announced to the world, "America is mean-spirited." Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a
whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.)
I'd say shame on the both of you, but I don't think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.
After 9/11 you said, "America hasn't lived up to her ideals."
Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.
I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.
Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.
Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue. You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.
And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts, who was putting up a fight? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.
One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.
You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president. You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle...
Harold B. Estes
Here's another letter to the President from last summer.
I've long noted that a very high percentage of voters (including the majority of those who could be characterized as conservative, or fiscally-conservative liberals) instinctively believe that there's always another source of tax revenues to tap (generally it's some group of evil, money-grubbing people who are somehow escaping the tax man). The most recent example of this was in the healthcare bill, which establishes new taxes and cost controls on the medical insurance industry. These were clearly motivated by the desire to curb excesses there – but equally clearly (and unarguably) there have been no such excesses – the profit margin of medical insurance companies is quite low by comparison to other industries.
Where does this belief in magic come from? Megan McCardle takes a look at a recent poll and attempts to find some answers...
My conclusion: nothing but radical economic reform at the federal level can solve this problem. The key two elements of such reform: (1) a simple, minimally-progressive income tax (tiny Estonia provides an excellent example), and (2) the outright elimination of most entitlement programs (yes, I really do mean to include Medicare and Social Security in that – what good are entitlements that can't possibly be funded?).
This amounts to my advocating for increased self-reliance – an almost-forgotten American tradition. As one of the articles point out, this gets very hard to accomplish in a democracy if those on the government teat are in the majority.
That last observation has led to my continuing interest in this. I'm not quite ready for it yet ... but I'm also not ready to rule it out.
Steve McIntyre follows the trail of evidentiary suppression (and some internal dissent on that) within the IPCC group with respect to the Holocene Optimum (aka Holocene Thermal Maximum). This is another warm period very much like the medieval warm period (MWP) that's much discussed in climate science literature. Most of the scientists involved in this internal discussion come off as petty and driven by their agenda; the few exceptions who seem to be driven by the truth stand out...
Friday, April 9, 2010
Yet it is so.
We should be spending this money on intelligence and emergency response services, not easily-sidestepped “security” measures...
At the same time, the morning's cool air sinking down the hillside above me wafted the chaparral scents – sage, ceanothus, mountain mahogany, and others. It was very quiet; still too early for the birds to be awake, and no coyotes were howling. Our dogs (well, the three field spaniels, anyway) smelled something else. They were completely focused on analyzing the path that this unknown animal had taken through our yard. Prime possibilities: bobcat, coyote, mountain lion, or fox. I'm sure they knew which it was, but I didn't. Meanwhile our one border collie completely ignored all the smells and sights, and simply did his two favorite things: ran around the yard at near-supersonic speeds, and brought me pine cones and sticks to throw for him to retrieve. The behavior of the field spaniels and the border collie is so different that one could be excused for thinking they were separate species.
I love these chaparral mornings...
Last night as I drove home, I got to pondering the high taxes that loom in our near future. As many others have noted, the younger a person is, the more they are screwed by these impending taxes. I probably won't be in the workforce for more than another ten years or so – but someone who is (say) 30 years old today will likely be in the workforce for forty years, and maybe more. For four decades they will watch 40% or more (I'm guessing) of their paycheck disappear into the maw of Big Government – and reappear in the hands of those content to mooch from the public teat.
Doesn't sound like a great motivator to me. Here's an easy prediction: the more we move in that direction, the more of our young citizens will decide that mooching is better than the alternative.
Are you pissed off yet?
Thursday, April 8, 2010
If you're not one of them (as we most certainly are not!), think about what that means. It means that you are paying for their government services. And in many cases, it means that you are handing them a check, as most of these non-taxpayers actually get cash back from the government (the so-called “earned income credit”, which is really just welfare by another name).
Does this piss you off? Join a tea party...
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Check back with the USGS site for updates...
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The report is preliminary and these often get revised. USGS map at right and info below; click to enlarge...
I was at our local post office the other day, picking up a package, and overheard a conversation between two patrons waiting in the agonizingly slow line. The conversation started off by noting the injustice of low-skill Post Office jobs commanding top-tier salaries and benefits, paid for by taxes on private-sector workers like the two people talking. I was cheered by this common-sense observation.
But then the conversation veered into a direction Obama would be delighted with: the two started wondering out loud how they could go about getting one of these cushy jobs, too.
This is the road Europe has traveled, and the results ain't pretty...
This index measures frequency of unemployment related Google searches, so it's an indirect measure – more a measure of interest in unemployment, rather than of unemployment itself. But why should even that have peaked last week?
In an odd coincidence, my good friend and neighbor lost his job just over a week ago when his company filed for bankruptcy. Maybe the spike is due to his queries?
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Steve McIntyre follows the email trail to document Phil Jones' rather overt misbehavior. In doing so, he shows the British Parliamentary Committee what an actual investigation looks like, as opposed to the whitewash exercise they committed...
Friday, April 2, 2010
The Internet that most people know runs on the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4 for short). Decades ago the Internet gurus realized that the 32-bit addresses in IPv4 meant that we'd run out of IP addresses relatively quickly (there are only 2^32, or about 4 billion, IP addresses available in IPv4). IPv4 has some other problems as well, but the lack of address space was the biggie.
So along came Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6 for short). IPv6 solved the address space problem by moving to 128 bit addresses (enough to give every molecule in the universe it's own IP address). It introduces many other changes as well, but the address space expansion is the biggie.
But there's one little niggling problem: nearly all the software written for every computer is incompatible with IPv6. Almost everything will have to be revised or rewritten, and the fixes are not trivial. Oops.
Around the same time (mid 1990s) that the IPv6 forces were trying to convince the whole world to rewrite all their software, technologies called Network Address Translation and Port Address Translation (NAT and PAT for short) started to become popular. Very popular. These technologies let enterprises (and homeowners) have multiple computers or other devices on their local area networks using “private” IP addresses.
These are a bit like the street addresses we see in cities: Boston has a 100 Broadway, and so does New York and a bazillion other cities and towns. But this doesn't cause confusion, because we know that 100 Broadway in Boston is in Boston, not New York. Similarly I can have a computer with an IP address of 10.0.0.1 in my home (my “town”), and you can have one with the same IP address in your home. NAT and PAT are what make this possible.
So with NAT and PAT, much of the driving force behind moving to IPv6 is removed. We no longer need that gigantic address space. Meanwhile, software writers are still creating new software packages that are incompatible with IPv6. In fact, very few programmers have ever created an IPv6-compliant program – they don't even know how! So IPv6 has become a “nice to have” instead of a “must have” – and since it's such a costly thing to move to IPv6, that means we'll likely never do it.
Here's a much more technical dive into the IPv4 vs. IPv6 struggle...
To be fair, a good part of this money is going to strictly observational programs that are an unalloyed good. For example, some of this money will pay for satellites to survey the polar region ice coverage, and for other satellites to measure basic climate data (temperature, humidity, pressure, albedo, etc.) worldwide. But it's also true that over a billion dollars a year will go to projects like climate modeling, and these grants, you can be certain, will not go to AGW-skeptical scientists...
Thursday, April 1, 2010