Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A recent Freedom of Information Act request has revealed emails and other evidence that Steve McIntyre's actions had an actual impact. Several scientists who contributed to the infamous “hockey stick” report agreed with McIntyre's criticism – much to Michael Mann's very vocal chagrin. In the end, their inability to reconstruct the result with honest and accurate data caused a key paper to be withdrawn.
The gears of science grind more slowly than I had expected after the original ClimateGate revelations several years ago. But they are grinding. Here we have an example of traditional, peer-reviewed publication actually working: a paper by the warmists was forced to be withdrawn, and Steve McIntyre's criticism was the proximate cause of its withdrawal. The results criticized by McIntyre are not some trivial sideshow – they are the main act in the hockey stick result that has led to so much wackiness in the funding and policy decisions in its wake.
Congratulations, Mr. McIntyre. Let's hope this first instance of gnashing gears leads to many more...
And of course, the imagery is just the first bit that gets our attention – vision being an important human sense. The other science instruments are no less spectacular. For example, below is a graphic showing the first results from the X-ray diffraction instrument (part of the Chemical & Minerology package) on board Curiosity. If you know what you're doing (which I most certainly do not!), you can read this result to determine what minerals are in the sample you're analyzing. This instrument, in its normal form on Earth, is many times larger, heavier, and more power-hungry than the astounding miniaturized version now operating on Mars.
Maybe someday the federal government will figure this out, and transform NASA into an agency dedicated to robotic exploration of the Solar System.
I must be dreaming. I just posited a government agency pursuing a logical path...
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
Don't you love Christmas lights?
They remind you of the people who voted for Obama. They all hang together; half of them don't work, and the ones that do, aren't all that bright.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Bumped for Update the Second:
Commenter Anonymous forwarded this video, thinking it might be the one I couldn't find. It's not, but it's certainly of the same ilk:
Bumped for Update:
Mark Steyn weighs in on this topic, and you really don't want to miss it...
It just keeps on getting worse. Yesterday we found out that:
- as the Benghazi attacks were underway, our Ambassador and his staff repeatedly asked for military assistance – which was denied
- we had the right kind of military assistance within range of Benghazi
- we apparently had a Special Forces Spectre (AC-130 gunship) overhead (this is inferred from the fact that one of the guys on the ground was “painting” a target with a target designator, something one would do only in the expectation of support from a gunship)
- Petraeus (CIA director) says flatly that the CIA never denied any request for military assistance
- Panetta (Secretary of Defense) says the Pentagon didn't have enough information to respond militarily – while other reports say we had military support available on scene
- Obama says he was “not personally aware” of any requests for military assistance at the time
CIA? Petraeus makes it abundantly clear that it wasn't the CIA, and I believe he's an honorable man (though someone could, presumably, be lying to him).
Pentagon? Panetta's “no information” claim seems laughable, based on what we've been told by other sources. It's the kind of thing you'd say to cover up the real reason. If some person under his command made the decision not to supply military aid, that person would have been fingered by Panetta and Obama weeks ago, to cover their own butt. If Panetta made that decision himself, Obama would have thrown him under the bus. That leaves one alternative: Panetta is covering for Obama – and damn it, that's plausible.
White House? Imagine being in the White House on 9/11, as the Benghazi attack was unfolding. Obama was in Washington that day, and so presumably able to easily communicate with his staff. The calls and emails from Benghazi, asking for military assistance, come in. What does the staff do? Does nobody notice? Does a staff member decide not to inform the President? Does a staff member respond directly, denying the request? Or does a staff member forward the requests to Obama, who either doesn't respond or who denies the request? Those are all the possibilities I can think of, and every one of them is completely unacceptable for a Commander-in-Chief and his staff. Their reaction (or lack thereof) killed four Americans. They must be brought to account.
You'll note that several of those links go to Fox News, which is the only mainstream media outlet working this story. Of course, if something like this had occurred during President Bush's administration (or that of any other non-Progressive President), the mainstream media would be all over it. There would be giant headlines and “Breaking News Alerts!” every time another piece of the story emerged. Dozens of reporters would be working just as hard as they possibly could, diligently tracking down every lead. But this is a Progressive administration, and the mainstream media studiously ignores every sour note – even on a story like this, involving downright criminal (perhaps even treasonous) behavior on the part of senior administration officials. Most of the media are co-conspirators in the Progressive efforts to tear up our Constitution and “evolve” into a Progressive, socialist state modeled after Europe.
Of course, even worse is that most Americans don't care enough about this to even inform themselves. Even the carefully edited sound bytes from the mainstream media are heard by relatively few Americans. The other day I saw a video of an on-the-street survey of a couple dozen randomly-selected people, each asked just one question: “What can you tell me about Benghazi?” I can't find it now, dang it. From memory, just one person answered in a way that made it clear they knew Benghazi was in Libya, that Americans had been killed there, and that there was controversy over the events there. Several people thought “Benghazi” was a musician; one even rhapsodized about the glories of his lyrics. Two or three others knew it was a place (one thought it was a country; another a city in Turkey). Most had never heard of it. Just one person in a couple dozen had a clue – roughly 4%. Ay yi yi...
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I broke character slightly. “I don’t know, I saw the Retina iPad upstairs and I can’t see the pixels at all on it. On here, I can see the pixels clearly.”Like arguing with a Tea Partier?
“No you can’t. Where can you see the individual pixels?”
“Right there. See, the left stroke on that capital ‘D’ has one solid pixel on the left and a half-shaded pixel on the right.”
He scaled the icon up to “zoom in”, which, of course, changes what the physical pixels display. “I can’t see any pixels!”
I gave up. It was like arguing with a Tea Partier. But I figured, now that I had broken character a little, I’d risk a bit more. “Did you apply to work at the Apple Store upstairs first, or did you always want to work here?”
Think about that. Arment describes his little debate with the Microsoft Store employee, who displayed his technical ignorance and his profound bias toward Microsoft. Arguing with someone like that is clearly futile; the only way to win would be to re-educate the lad. Then Arment says that's like arguing with someone in the Tea Party – clearly implying that such people were ignorant and biased. Further, he makes that statement in a way that assumes his readers will understand that Tea Partiers are ignorant and biased.
This is precisely the kind of thing I hear repeatedly on NPR and read on progressive political blogs (I torture myself so you don't have to!). It's a fascinating glimpse of the walls of the “bubble” these folks live in. Arment, and millions more like him, have completely dismissed the Tea Party as a collection of ignorant and biased fools. They don't even hear the issues the Tea Party raises; they aren't worthy of their attention.
I find this very sad, personally. I can't see a way for a democracy to stay healthy when most of its (voting) citizens are willfully ignorant. I say “willfully” because people who live in a political bubble (whether conservative, progressive, or libertarian) are choosing not to engage with the ideas and issues raised by those outside their bubble. Instead, they live the righteous life of a bubble-denizen, with all of their friends heartily approving of their bubble-ness. It's so much easier that way – one doesn't have to actually think, as the bubble already knows the answer.
What's the cure? I'm not sure there is one...
The way that the sound was recovered is interesting: the scientists didn't recreate the player. Instead, they photographed the antique foil with a high resolution, 3D camera – and software analyzed the needle's indentations to recreate the sound. No device ever even touched the foil. I'm sure Edison would have been delighted by this!
Here's what the recovered recording sounds like. Though it's very scratchy, you can hear a cornet playing and a man reciting portions of a couple nursery rhymes (Mary Had a Little Lamb and Old Mother Hubbard)...
Friday, October 26, 2012
It's an ancient system of writing, and it's one of the few that have not been deciphered. Modern science has done an amazing job of figuring out the meaning of ancient writings with no living readers, but some still remain a mystery...
Just like everyone else, I can scarcely wait until the discovery begins...
It's hard to imagine the demographic that would consider that an effective appeal to vote for Obama.
Matt Welch (at Reason) gets my quote of the day with his reaction:
Twelve more days, people. Twelve. More. Days.Exactly, Matt. By the way, the headline on his post is also pure gold: “Lie Back and Think of Mother England, America...”
Joshua Keating (at Foreign Policy) notes that Obama's new ad looks like a direct ripoff of an ad for Vladimir Putin in his last election campaign. Lovely.
You just can't make this stuff up...
Vice President Biden, as he has become known to do, reportedly made a wildly inappropriate comment to the father who had just lost his hero son.More here and here.
Woods said Biden came over to his family and asked in a “loud and boisterous” voice, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”
“Are these the words of someone who is sorry?” said Woods.
The grieving father also described his brief encounter with President Obama during the ceremony for the Libya victims.
“When he finally came over to where we were, I could tell that he was rather conflicted, a person who was not at peace with himself,” Woods said. “Shaking hands with him, quite frankly, was like shaking hands with a dead fish. His face was pointed towards me but he would not look me in the eye, his eyes were over my shoulder.”
“I could tell that he was not sorry,” he added. “He had no remorse.”
Hillary Clinton’s comments to Woods raise even more questions about the White House’s official story on the Benghazi attack, which has already been extremely inconsistent.
After apologizing for his loss, Woods said Clinton told him that the U.S. would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
George W. Bush had many faults, but this kind of disrespectful and inappropriate display was not amongst them...
Amazing. This is the most realistic piece of art I have ever seen...
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
John Bolton, in the video below, has the only explanation so far that rings true to me: that the idealogy of the administration prevented them from seeing the reality before their eyes: that al Qaeda is alive and well, and still bent on killing Americans.
This is a firing offense, folks. Please, please remember this appalling behavior when you vote in two weeks...
But...some of their observations were (a) repeated, and (b) never explained. The notoriety of the original claims kept most serious investigators from attempting it, but now, more than 20 years later, some serious researchers are honing a theory that just might explain those anamalous observations, in a way that comports with our understanding of physics. And...it just might prove to be usable as a source of energy – which was really what Pons and Fleischmann were seeking all along. This would be a redemption, of sorts, of their work...
DRM can be very annoying when you want to do something perfectly legal (with respect to copyright), but which the DRM prevents. For example, I might buy an Kindle book that I'd like to turn into a PDF file so that I can read or print it on any device I own (not just those devices that happen to be able to host a Kindle reader). DRM prevents me from doing that.
This article points the way to a method for removing the DRM from Kindle books. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm definitely going to do so...
Nope. This is a reconstruction of a Neanderthal man made by British scientists, using standard techniques of layering hypothetical muscle and fat onto a real skeleton.
I remember fanciful sketches of Neanderthal man appearing in magazines from my childhood. They looked much more ape-like than this fellow, who could pass for one of my colleagues :-)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The consensus of opinion seems to boil down to these points:
Obama didn't walk away a clear winner.
Obama didn't walk away a clear loser.
Romney didn't walk away a clear winner.
Romney didn't walk away a clear loser.
I'll call that a draw. Here are some other thoughts:
Just two more weeks and we can stop worrying about who will win. Then we can start worrying about who did win :-)
How's that working out now?
Not so well. The facilities are largely unused, and now the Germans are being asked to cover the debt that Greece is in danger of defaulting on.
CoyoteBlog has more. Oy, vey...
Meanwhile, these scientists live in fear of long prison sentences.
Maybe the Pope will intervene.
Monday, October 22, 2012
A Realistic Way to Look at Your Federal Income Taxes
We have all been subject to various explanations relating to the absolutely astounding numbers of dollars that our federal government spends each year. Numbers of billions or trillions are just plain difficult to comprehend. And when authors try to explain how large these numbers are, they often use an analogy which is just as hard to understand (try to comprehend the number of inches between the earth and the sun). There has to be a better way and I'd like to propose a useful way of thinking about the dollars our federal government spends.
This current year the federal government will spend approximately 3.8 trillion bucks Holy smoke! But how does this number relate to each of us?
Let's assume you are paying $10,000 in Federal income tax this year (I think I envy you). If the feds spend $3.8 trillion this year as currently projected, a relatively straightforward calculation will show that for each billion dollars the government spends, a little more than $2.50 comes out of YOUR pocket. Obviously then if the govt spends $10 billion on something, such as a new large aircraft carrier, $25 of that came out of YOUR very own pocket. Also, each time the feds spend $100 billion, your forced contribution is $250.00. These are numbers we can all relate to and I find them pretty scary. If you also take into account that approximately 40% of what the feds spend this year is “borrowed” (read 'printed' without the backup of assets of any kind) it is actually quite a bit worse.
Now back to the $10,000 figure. You can calculate your own “contribution” by dividing your total tax by the $10,000 figure (I chose the $10,000 purely to make your calculation easier) and multiplying the result by $2.50 on your handy calculator. For example, if your total tax was $5,000, divide 5,000 by the 10,000 and you'll get 0.5. Multiply 0.5 by 2.50 to get a figure of $1.25. So you pay “only” $12.50 for your share of that aircraft carrier (As an aside, this year that carrier may be one of your best investments).
But how about the money spent to bail out GM and Chrysler? And lets not forget the money we are spending on foreign aid. How many of YOUR dollars would you like to send to Pakistan this year? Dare I even mention our aid to Egypt and Libya at the present time?
Now those billions our government spends don't seem very abstract any more, do they?
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
My observation is that voters often - perhaps usually - don't get what they think they voted for. Nixon surprised everyone by getting cuddly with China. Bush Junior turned from isolationist to military adventurer. Obama went from weed-friendly to badass destroyer of state-approved dispensaries. Some fiscal conservatives have blown up the budget while some free-spending Democrats balanced it. If you think you can predict how a candidate will act in office, you might need a history lesson, or perhaps a booster shot of humility.But there's much more meaty stuff in his post.
If Scott Adams was running, I'd vote for him. Not because of any of his positions, but because of (a) the originality of his thinking, and (b) his ability to communicate complex ideas. In both areas he makes our conventional politicians look like blithering idiots...
Friday, October 19, 2012
Minnesota has decided that this is most definitely not okay. They've ordered Coursera (a free educational site) to stop delivering their content to Minnesota residents.
Doomed. We're doomed. Estonia is going to win...
Something else that was a surprise to my colleague: the word “cork” derives from the Latin word quercus, for “oak tree”. The genus name for oaks is also quercus, and the species that is most often harvested for cork is Quercus suber (though many other oak species can be used to produce cork as well). Quercus suber is native to the western Mediterranean area, but there are some fine examples in the arboreta of San Diego County, as well as in parks and in landscaping. It's commonly available in our nurseries...
The Obama campaign has been painting Romney as a parody of a real man, as a rich guy who's just completely out of touch. His remarks at the Al Smith dinner smashes that false portrait...
Thursday, October 18, 2012
So while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways.Read the whole thing...
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
So...how can over 873,000 people come off the unemployment line...when there were only a little over 114,000 jobs created?????
How the heck do I know!
BUT, luckily I found a transcript of a conversation between two "eminent economists" discussing this very question!
COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.
ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It's 7.8%.
COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?
ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.
COSTELLO: You just said 7.8%.
ABBOTT: 7.8% Unemployed.
COSTELLO: Right 7.8% out of work.
ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.
COSTELLO: Okay, so it's 14.7% unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, that's 7.8%.
COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 7.8% or 14.7%?
ABBOTT: 7.8% are unemployed. 14.7% are out of work.
COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, Obama said you can't count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.
COSTELLO: BUT THEY ARE OUT OF WORK!!!
ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.
COSTELLO: What point?
ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair.
COSTELLO: To whom?
ABBOTT: The unemployed.
COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.
ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking and if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.
COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment roles that would count as less unemployment?
ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!
COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work?
ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That's how Obama gets it to 7.8%. Otherwise it would be 14.7%. He doesn't want you to read about 14.7% unemployment.
COSTELLO: That would be tough on his reelection.
COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?
ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.
COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have Obama's supporters stop looking for work.
ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like the Obama Economy Czar.
COSTELLO: I don't even know what the hell I just said!
ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like Obama.
I see in the blogs that writers on both sides are cheering the “jabs” that their candidate made, and booing the “lies” that the other candidate made. I see endless debates about points of infinitesimal importance. I see utterly nothing of any real substance, and no new positions or plans by either candidate.
There was a moment, early in the debate, that crystallized my disappointment for me. It started with this question (directed at Obama) from one of the selected questioners:
Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it's not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?I'm sure that the Romney supporters, upon hearing this question, immediately thought it was a great question, and waited eagerly to hear Obama's answer. And they heard exactly what any political observer would tell them to expect: Obama danced around all over the place, talking about green energy, efficient cars, and what not. But he never came close to answering that question. Of course he didn't, as that would require him to do something politically suicidal: admit that it was, in fact, his intended policy to raise energy prices – and that Steven Chu was doing exactly what Obama wanted him to do.
Romney replied exactly as you'd anticipate, by highlighting what Obama has done to make prices high, and what he'd do to lower them. Nothing new.
My own reaction to that question was a bit different: I thought it was an obvious and even stupid question. How uninformed does one have to be to not already know the answer to that question? This isn't exactly new news. Way back in 2008, Obama campaigned on a promise to raise energy prices (including, explicitly, gasoline). He didn't hide it so much back then; he said it quite openly. He gave that some context as well: higher prices would force Americans to use less energy. In Obama's Progressive-world, it's an article of faith that the government should do this. When he nominated Stephen Chu, Obama bragged about Chu's support for exactly those policies. Then when Chu actually executed those policies, and talked about them publicly, he got no rebuke. He wasn't told to retract his statements. He wasn't fired.
It's obvious what the answer to that question is. At least, it's obvious to anyone who's been paying even the very slightest amount of attention to the world over the past four years.
So what does it mean that the Gallup organization selected that question to be asked?
Fundamentally I think it means that Gallup (and the presidential debates commission) knows they're never really going to get a debate on real issues of substance. The electorate/audience is far too ignorant for that to ever happen. And those real issues of substance aren't going to be what decides the outcome of this election. Instead, it will be uninformed voters, generally with poor thinking skills, making uninformed choices, mainly on an intuitive and emotional basis. Some people will vote for a candidate because they like the sound of his voice, or his confidence, or his business background, or his lack of business background, etc.
So... I shut off the debate, drank a big glass of wine, went to bed and tried to think of other things. Thinking about the election was just too damned depressing...
Today's Iowa Electronic Markets: Obama's up. Oh, boy...
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Americans have beaten the odds too many times to see their liberty and families threatened by imbecilic little hoodlums with their pants falling off.This is actually the conclusion to his post, which you really, really don't want to miss. It's another one of those many things you want to remember when you vote in November...
We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of September 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.
However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.
Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did.
The points on the flyer are the same old tired Obama campaign talking points. The last one, though, is downright appalling: read literally, it claims that Obama personally killed Osama bin Laden.
Not “As Commander-In-Chief, directed our awesome warriors to carry the sword of justice to Osama bin Laden”.
Not “Authorized Special Forces operation that killed Osama bin Laden”.
Not “Proudly directed Special Forces to kill Osama bin Laden”.
Just “Killed Osama bin Laden”. Personally.
I cringe, thinking about how that looks to the Special Forces operators who actually did kill Osama bin Laden.
I cringe, thinking about how that looks to any veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. Like me.
I cringe, thinking about how that looks to any American. Like me.
Remember this when you vote in November...
The Progressives are much less fond of explaining why well-to-do individuals from the self-same countries choose to fly to America for their serious health problems. Why would they do that? And how can this behavior be reconciled with the statistics on longevity?
The answer lies in the way those longevity statistics are collected, and with cultural differences between the countries. A very simplistic way to put it is this: if you take away deaths caused by cars and gunshots, then Americans live longer than anywhere else on Earth. In particular, Americans who have long-term health issues (such as cancer or diabetes) have far better outcomes than non-Americans. Those are the things our healthcare system deals with, and it deals with them better than any government-run system does.
Well, for now, anyway. Obamacare is about to “fix” that, unless we manage to get it repealed.
There's a great post on this subject at CoyoteBlog, with much more detail...
Monday, October 15, 2012
The rest of our society doesn't have this problem. There are safeguards in place that prevent the same kinds of abuses that we see our governments perpetrating on a daily basis. Which led me to an idea...why don't we have such safeguards in place for governments as well?
This is akin to our legal safeguards, implemented by our system of justice, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court. Why not have a similar system of financial safeguards, with the same power as that of our justice system? A system of auditors, covering all levels of government: municipal, state, and federal. A U.S. Supreme Auditors, a council of 9 auditors whose word was final. The whole system set up to prevent the financial shenanigans currently foisted upon us by our criminal politicians (the only reason these things aren't actually crimes is because they're being committed by the same people who make the laws!).
This would require a Constitutional Amendment, and with 100% of all politicians deadset agin it, I don't think it would have a chance in hell of passing. Dang...
Sunday, October 14, 2012
How do you like that nose? If you touch it, it's all wet and squishy – but don't let that fool you. Race uses that nose like a battering ram, and he's quite capable of bruising you by ramming it into your arm or leg...
The world got to watch the entire thing, thanks to the 30+ cameras plastered all over the capsule and Baumgartner's suit, the amazing visible light and infrared ground cameras, and the equally amazing helicopter-mounted cameras that tracked him while under canopy. We watched him land under canopy, and fall to his knees – presumably in thanksgiving for a safe adventure.
Wow. Just wow.
I love it that this whole thing was privately-funded as a marketing venture, something foretold by several science fiction stories I read as a kid in the '60s. And even more, I love it that Baumgartner insisted on getting Joe Kittinger (the previous record holder for high-altitude jumping) involved. That was a class act, Mr. Baumgartner, a real class act...
This is in stark contrast to the current record holder's jump, made by Joe Kittinger back in 1960. For that jump, Joe Kittinger had very little in the way of instrumentation or imagery. Furthermore, Felix's position is known with a precision that was completely unachievable back in 1960.
Joe Kittinger is still alive and kicking, at age 84, and he's a part of Felix's team. He's the primary communicator on the ground, talking with Felix. Nice.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Why Pilots Prefer Airplanes Over Women
- Airplanes usually kill you quickly; a woman takes her time.
- Airplanes can be turned on by a flick of a switch.
- Airplanes don't get mad if you do a "touch and go."
- Airplanes don't object to a pre-flight inspection.
- Airplanes come with a manual to explain their operation.
- Airplanes have strict weight and balance limitations.
- Airplanes can be flown at any time of the month.
- Airplanes don't come with in-laws.
- Airplanes don't care about how many other airplanes you've flown before.
- Airplanes and pilots both arrive at the same time.
- Airplanes don't mind if you look at other airplanes.
- Airplanes don't mind if you buy airplane magazines.
- Airplanes expect to be tied down.
- Airplanes don't comment on your piloting skills.
- Airplanes don't whine unless something is really wrong.
- However, when airplanes go quiet, just like women, it's usually not good.
First, it is most definitely not aimed at kids. Unusually mature young adults might find it interesting, but clearly the main audience is adults, especially those with children (or at least with an interest in children). Unlike with the Harry Potter series, in this book the plot isn't the core of the book – instead, it's with the detailed study of different personalities, of personal interactions (and their consequences, intended or not), and most especially of how children are impacted by the behavior of the adults around them. There are quite a few interesting characters in this novel, and every one of them is painted with great attention to detail. The entire novel is plausible – even, unusually, the bit of technical wizardry that is part of the plot (some kids hacking into a web site).
When I finished, I wondered to myself if there was anything about her new novel that was like the Harry Potter series – because at first blush they seem utterly different. But I did identify one common thread: complexity. This novel, like the Harry Potter books, is engineered – by which I mean that she absolutely must have started by thinking out all the characters, their inter-relationships, and the timeline of events. I know for certain that she did exactly this with the Harry Potter series, because I've seen her worksheet (a sort of handwritten spreadsheet) for that published on the web somewhere. I'd be willing to bet you that she did the same thing for The Casual Vacancy. It's just too darned complex to have happened by accident.
Bottom line: thumbs up. It will take you a chapter or two to get immersed in the world she crafts, but after that you'll be completely engrossed...
We learned that Ryan was out of his depth, and is somewhat uncomfortable, with foreign policy issues – but despite this, he was able to hold his own with the much more experienced Biden.
We learned that Martha Raddatz was an excellent moderator, despite the right's trashing of her before the debate, and accusing her of pandering to Biden after the debate. She did no such thing – she was professional and even-handed throughout, and did a very effective job of asking questions that provoked potentially interesting answers. The candidates didn't live up to the expectations she set, but that's their fault, not hers. Kudos to Ms. Raddatz.
We learned that Biden was an uncouth, impolite, bullying jerk; full of bluster and blarney, and fond of yelling from the bar stool.
We learned (or rather, had reinforced) Ryan's strength on economic issues.
We learned how lucky we are that Obama hasn't been killed or incapacitated – because the idea of Joe Biden as president is positively terrifying (I would thing that's true even for loyal Democrats).
We learned that Ryan looks and behaves like a level-headed, grounded adult. At least from behavioral cues, it's at least not frightening to imagine him as president.
We learned (or rather, had reinforced) how effective Biden's down-home, folksy mannerisms are. Unfortunately for him, this was more than counter-balanced by his downright bizarre behaviors and constant rude interruptions of Ryan.
We learned that women find Ryan strong, comforting, and easy on the eye (despite his party affiliation), and that they find Biden kind of creepy and definitely not comforting (despite his party affiliation).
The winner? Us, hands-down. The loser, politically? Probably the Obama/Biden ticket, because they didn't get the sort of boost from this debate that they so badly needed after the first Obama/Romney debate.
Here are some thoughts from others:
Nick Gillespie, Reason: The Smirk Store Is Out of Smirks...
Michael Barone, Washington Examiner: Biden Didn't Put a Dent in Romney...
Neoneocon: Biden Was Like the Drunken Blowhard...
Peter Suderman, Reason: Very Specific Malarkey...
Less than an hour after the debate finished, the Republican National Committee had a new ad up, making extensive use of Uncle Joe's bizarre debate behavior. On nearly a daily basis something like this happens with a speed that leaves me gobsmacked. An hour?!? Before I could really even collect my thoughts, they had a polished and effective ad up on the Internet. Just amazing...
Thursday, October 11, 2012
I'll be watching, with a glass of wine and a snack or two...
The Little Red HenRemember this when you vote next month...
"Who will help me plant my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the cow.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself." She planted her crop and the wheat grew and ripened.
"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the pig.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did.
"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen.
She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share but the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat all five loaves."
"Excess profits!" cried the cow (Nancy Pelosi)
"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck (Barbara Boxer)
"I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose (Jesse Jackson)
The pig just grunted in disdain (Harry Reid)
And they all painted 'Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.
When the farmer (Obama) came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy."
"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.
"Exactly," said Barack the farmer. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle."
And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, for now I truly understand."
But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the 'party' and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled. 'Fairness' had been established.
Individual initiative had died but nobody noticed; perhaps no one
cared so long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.
And perhaps...this is the end.
And the next week, there was no bread, or anything else to eat. So, they all starved equally.
Bill Clinton is getting $12 million for his memoirs.
Hillary got $8 million for hers.
That's $20 million for the memories from two people, who for eight years repeatedly testified, under oath, that they couldn't remember anything.
DO WE LIVE IN A GREAT BARNYARD OR WHAT?
Here's the best thing I've seen yet: a poll of doctors to see whether they supported Obama (a proxy for Obamacare) or Romney (who has repeatedly said that he'd repeal Obamacare). The answer: doctors want Romney, by more than 2 to 1...