Tuesday, December 31, 2013
A toothpaste factory had a problem: Due to the way the production line was set up, sometimes empty boxes were shipped without the tube inside. People with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timings so precise that every single unit coming off of it is perfect 100% of the time. Small variations in the environment (which can't be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean quality assurance checks must be smartly distributed across the production line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket won’t get frustrated and purchase another product instead.A personal aside: I've seen the fan-blowing-empty-boxes-off-the-line solution in actual use, on a production line for paper clips. There was a machine that took small boxes of paper clips and stuffed a dozen of them into a larger box. That machine sometimes spit out an empty box (if it couldn't get 12 little boxes in time), and a nozzle squirting compressed air would blow those empties off the conveyor carrying the “full” boxes out of the machine. It worked great!
Understanding how important that was to his bottom line, the CEO of the toothpaste factory gathered the top people in the company together. Since their own engineering department was already stretched too thin, they decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem.
The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, requests for proposal sent out, third-parties were selected, and six months (and $8 million) later a fantastic solution was delivered — on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. The problem was solved by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box came off the production line weighing less than it should have. The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box off the line, then press another button to re-start the line.
A short time later, the CEO decided to have a look at the ROI (return on investment) of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. There were very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. “That was some money well spent!” he said, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.
The number of defects picked up by the scales was zero after three weeks of production use. How could that be? It should have been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He sent an email asking why, and after some investigation, the engineers indicated the statistics were indeed correct. The scales were NOT picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.
Perplexed, the CEO went down to the factory and walked up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed. A few feet before the scale, a $20 desk fan was blowing any empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. Puzzled, the CEO turned to one of the workers who said, “Oh, that … one of the guys put it there because he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang!”
The moral is obvious: simple, obvious solutions are not always possible – but when they are, they are better.
Enter the glitter nail polish. Put a dot of nail polish over all the screws in your laptop's case. Then (key part!) take a photo of those dots with your cell phone, and keep the cell phone with you at all times. Now if you have to leave your laptop unguarded, you can do a “blink test” to compare the photos of the nail polish blobs with what you see now. The glitter in the nail polish forms an effectively random pattern that would be practically impossible to copy precisely – and you've recorded it on your cell phone. Even if the intruder managed to find the same nail polish you used, the pattern of the glitter would be different – and your brain's excellent pattern matching software would instantly detect the difference in the blink test.
Awesome, via Wired...
But it gets better. An ice breaker goes to rescue them, but can't get through – and gives up. A second ice breaker tries to rescue them, and it also can't get through, and gives up. A third ice breaker does the same thing. Now a (very expensive) helicopter rescue is being planned, and the fate of the ship is uncertain.
The lamestream media is mostly ignoring this story. It just doesn't fit the narrative...
Full details at Jo Nova's place. Rob Long is quite amused at Ricochet...
The rule of the radical left in the United States is very much an outlier in the rest of the First World where conservative and center-right parties predominate. The conventional First World response to the economic crisis has been to cut spending and reform welfare, while in the United States has spent more money than ever before and expanded welfare.Read the whole thing...
Much of Europe now favors less federalism and less immigration. The United States has expanded its federal government dramatically and both Democratic and Republican leaders support amnesty for illegal aliens at a time when immigration is politically toxic everywhere else.
The only major European countries with a sizable population and serious economic problems ruled by the left are France and Italy and both are approaching economic collapse. France’s ruling left has become wildly unpopular and Italy is still imploding in slow motion. While the American left insists that historical inevitability is on its side, it has lost nearly everywhere else. America stands alone under the rule of the left, in uncontrolled spending, uncontrolled immigration and the iron hand of the welfare state.
What can gun owners learn from non-gun owners?One of the answers:
I was never against having guns for shooting ranges, I am against them as means of self-defense (or freedom).Sort of takes your breath away, doesn't it?
Tip of the hat to Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority, who used the second quote as his Quote of the Day...
Way to go, bozos...
In politics, San Diego Mayor Bob “Bob” Filner resigns as a result of allegations that he is a compulsive serial horn dog who groped pretty much the entire female population of Southern California. He immediately becomes a leading contender in the New York City mayoral race.I do miss Filthy Filner...
Monday, December 30, 2013
Anyone who visited our home in the '50s or '60s (and possibly later) was potentially a target of The Treatment. Generally speaking (though there were some exceptions), any given individual would have The Treatment administered once, and then they were exempt from further administrations – and could even participate in administering The Treatment to someone else.
What was The Treatment? There was no precise definition, but generally speaking it included (a) ice cubes down the pant legs while being held upside down, and (b) unconstrained tickling while being held to the floor by a horde of torturers. My dad was the boss of The Treatment administration.
I never fully understood the rules that determined exactly who would be subjected to The Treatment, but it certainly included any of my friends that I might invite over for a visit, so kids were definitely eligible. Some adults were also eligible.
One of my high school friends, Nom Loy, was given The Treatment on his second visit to our home. More than 20 years later, he talked with me of his disbelief and shock when my whole family worked together to capture him, restrain him, throw him on the floor, pick him up by the legs, and then pour a bowl full of ice cubes down his pants legs. This was so far outside his experience of family behavior that he simply couldn't process it. He could tell by our laughter that we weren't actually threatening him, yet our behavior suggested an attack. My mom pouring the ice cubes down his pants legs was the ultimate shock for him, the utter and absolute loss of all dignity – past, present, and future. All those years later, Nom still remembered his experience with The Treatment as traumatic – but he also recognized that afterward he was much more comfortable around us, much less careful and reserved.
While I was growing up, I never thought of our tradition of The Treatment as particularly unusual. The first time I can remember recognizing it as unusual family behavior was in Navy boot camp, in Orlando, Florida. A few of my fellow recruits were horsing around, and had wrestled their target to the floor. I suggested ice cubes down the pants legs to them, and that started a long discussion wherein I described The Treatment and they marveled that my family wasn't locked up in the loony bin. But they did get the ice cubes :)
I still have never met another person whose family had some tradition resembling The Treatment...
These satellites were enormous by today's standards: Echo 1 was 100 feet in diameter, and Echo 2 was 135 feet in diameter. Both were metalized Mylar balloons, and both were intended to be used as passive communications satellites – simple reflectors in space. Today's communications satellites are all either simple repeaters (devices with a radio receiver tied directly to a radio transmitter that simply retransmits an amplified version of whatever it “hears”) or more sophisticated routers (all-digital repeaters that not only amplify a signal, but can also send it through a particular antenna to the right part of the Earth's surface).
I have two memories of the Echo project. The first one was from shortly after Echo 1's launch in 1960, when I was just 8 years old. Because Echo 1 was so large, and had a mirror finish (reflective in visible light, not just radio frequencies), it was extremely bright for a satellite. That made it very easy to spot with the naked eye, and I remember standing outside at dusk with my Uncle Donald, in a soy bean field near his apple orchard, watching it transition overhead from horizon to horizon. It's funny how these old memories work – I remember it being my uncle that I was with, but I have no idea why. My Uncle Donald was not generally interested in space; he was into archaeology, fungi, and history...
the Holmdel Horn Antenna), especially built at Bell Labs for the purpose. Later, in 1965, radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson used this same antenna to discover the cosmic microwave background radiation, which completely revolutionized cosmology.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
I tried to catch some fog. I mist.My dad loved awful puns. He'd have been smiling for hours after reading these...
When chemists die, they barium.
Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray isnow a seasoned veteran.
I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.
I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words .
They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type-O.
This dyslexic man walks into a bra .
PMS jokes aren't funny, period.
I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
A cross-eyed teacher lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?
When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
What does a clock do when it's hungry? It goes back four seconds..
I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
Broken pencils are pointless.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool .
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
All the toilets in London police stations have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.
I took the job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
Velcro - what a rip off!
Cartoonist found dead in home. Details are sketchy.
An old cowboy walks into a barbershop in Dime Box for a shave and a haircut. He tells the barber he can't get all his whiskers off because his cheeks are wrinkled from age.
The barber gets a little wooden ball from a cup on the shelf and tells the old cowboy to put it inside his cheek to spread out the skin. When he's finished, the old cowboy tells the barber that was the cleanest shave he'd had in years, but he wanted to know what would have happened if he had accidentally swallowed that little ball.
The barber replied, just bring it back in a couple of days like everyone else does...
Saturday, December 28, 2013
What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide.
Friday, December 27, 2013
The wild cucumber...
On one of my dad's visits with us, not long after we moved out to Lawson Valley, he and I took a couple of our dogs on a walk up a little-traveled dirt road that leads uphill for a mile or so from our house. It was the first time he and I had ever walked together in the southern California chaparral, and at that point most of the plants around me were new to me. I knew the manzanitas and the ceanothus, but most of the rest I did not.
My dad's main body of botanical knowledge was not of this area, but he certainly knew a lot more of the plants than I did. He recognized the lemonade berry as a sumac, he knew the toyon, and he recognized the many buckwheat species we have here. Some of our plants, such as chamise, were completely new to him; others, like our evergreen oaks, he knew but not well. As usual, my dad kept spotting more and more plants that I'd never even noticed before. And as always, I learned a lot from him in a very short time.
Marah, a manroot!” To which I said something brilliant like “Huh? What are you talking about?”
If you knew my dad, then you know what came next: a long and detailed lecture on the natural history of the Marah species, absolutely none of which I had previously known. I don't know if he had ever actually seen one before. They certainly didn't grow in the wild on the east coast, nor are they used in horticulture, so it's not the sort of plant you'd expect my dad to know about. I suspect something about it caught his fancy, and he'd read up on the Marah species at some point. It may have been the plant's root that interested him, because he knew a lot about it.
Marah fabaceus. He did, however, know all about the gigantic roots of these plants – and the evolutionary advantage that root conferred on it. My dad said that the roots could grow to be “as large as a man”, both in height and weight. The photo of one such root is at right (not mine, again). My subsequent reading backs that up: the largest Marah fabaceus root ever dug up weighed just over 110 kg (242 lbs) and was almost 3 m (9 ft) tall. That's a lot of root! And it's a lot of food and water storage for the plant. The water storage is particularly important in a desert plant, and it allows the Marah family to thrive where you might not expect a perennial vine to do well. They are very common here; on our 10 acres we have hundreds of them. Water storage in the roots is a common trait amongst desert flora, but somehow I didn't expect to find that in a perennial vine.
My dad also said that the local native Americans made use of the plant, and that it had something to do with fishing. He was fuzzy on the details. It was many years later that I found a reference to the Kumeyaay tribe (the tribe our local Cuyamaca Mountains were named after) using Marah fabaceus to catch fish. On researching this post, I discovered that bit of natural history is now also in the Wikipedia article. My dad loved to read natural history books, especially older ones; I suspect he came across this little factoid in one of those.
A few years after that walk with my dad, I was using a small backhoe to dig a trench in our yard to lay some pipe in. In the side of my trench I spotted a large root – and I recalled seeing a Marah fabaceus there the year before. The one I dug out was perhaps 3 ft high, and weighed about 60 or 70 lbs. – not a giant (and therefore not particularly old), but still pretty respectable for a plant whose above-ground parts can't weigh more than 8 or 10 lbs.
This morning, while walking our dogs, I spotted a Marah fabaceus vine wending its way up the trunk of one of our pines. The highest stalks of the vine were well over my head, perhaps 10 ft up. Seeing that vine instantly brought back that memory of my dad, lecturing me on the natural history of Marah as we walked slowly up that road by our house. Those sorts of triggered memories are happening to me a lot. Sometimes, as this morning, they're emotionally intense – a trigger for more grieving. This morning, two of our dogs put an abrupt end to that, and in a way that I know would have greatly amused my dad: Miki (our youngest male field spaniel) lifted his leg to pee – and peed all over Race's tail (Race is our hyperactive border collie). My dad loved the couthlessness of dogs, and I laughed out loud thinking of how he'd enjoy that little scene. I had to go wash Race off with a garden hose, but I came in from our walk with a smile instead of a heavy heart...
It is corrupt, corrupt, corrupt. From Ted Kennedy who killed a woman and yet is toasted as a "lion of liberalism", to George Bush who did his share of party drugs (and my share, and your share, and your share…) while young yet let other youngsters rot in jail for the exact same excesses instead of waving his royal wand of pardoning, to thousand of well-paid NSA employees who put the Stasi to shame in their ruthless destruction of our rights, to the Silicon Valley CEOs who buy vacation houses with the money they make forging and selling chains to Fort Meade, to every single bastard at RSA who had a hand in taking the thirty pieces of silver, to the three star generals who routinely screw subordinates and get away with it (even as sergeants are given dishonorable discharges for the same thing), to the MIT cops and Massachusetts prosecutor who drove Aaron Swartz to suicide, to every drug court judge who sends 22 year olds to jail for pot…while high on Quaalude and vodka because she's got some fucking personal tragedy and no one understands her pain, to every cop who's anally raped a citizen under color of law, to every other cop who's intentionally triggered a "drug" dog because the guy looked guilty, to every politician who goes on moral crusades while barebacking prostitutes and money laundering the payments, to every teacher who retired at age 60 on 80% salary, to every cop who has 50 state concealed carry even while the serfs are disarmed, to every politician, judge, or editorial-writer who has ever used the phrase "first amendment zone" non-ironically: this is how the system is designed to work.
The system is not fixable because it is not broken. It is working, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to give the insiders their royal prerogatives, and to shove the regulations, the laws, and the debt up the asses of everyone else.
Burn it to the ground.
Burn it to the ground.
Burn it to the ground.
Education thus has degenerated into a game of "trap the rat," whereby the student and instructor view each other as adversaries. Winning or losing is determined by how much the students can be forced to study. This will never be a formula for excellence, which requires intense focus, discipline and diligence that are utterly lacking among our distracted, indifferent students. Such diligence requires emotional engagement. Engagement could be with the material, the professors, or even a competitive goal, but the idea that students can obtain a serious education even with their disengaged, credentialist attitudes is a delusion.The professoriate plays along because teachers know they have a good racket going. They would rather be refining their research or their backhand than attending to tedious undergraduates. The result is an implicit mutually assured nondestruction pact in which the students and faculty ignore each other to the best of their abilities. This disengagement guarantees poor outcomes, as well as the eventual replacement of the professoriate by technology. When professors don't even know your name, they become remote figures of ridicule and tedium and are viewed as part of a system to be played rather than a useful resource.To be fair, cadres of indefatigable souls labor tirelessly in thankless ignominy in the bowels of sundry ivory dungeons. Jokers in a deck stacked against them, they are ensnared in a classic reward system from hell.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
I picked that last example at random. You must believe me when I say that I have the utmost respect for HCI people. However, when HCI people debug their code, it’s like an art show or a meeting of the United Nations. There are tea breaks and witticisms exchanged in French; wearing a non-functional scarf is optional, but encouraged. When HCI code doesn’t work, the problem can be resolved using grand theories that relate form and perception to your deeply personal feelings about ovals. There will be rich debates about the socioeconomic implications of Helvetica Light, and at some point, you will have to decide whether serifs are daring statements of modernity, or tools of hegemonic oppression that implicitly support feudalism and illiteracy. Is pinching-and-dragging less elegant than circling-and-lightly-caressing? These urgent mysteries will not solve themselves. And yet, after a long day of debugging HCI code, there is always hope, and there is no true anger; even if you fear that your drop-down list should be a radio button, the drop-down list will suffice until tomorrow, when the sun will rise, glorious and vibrant, and inspire you to combine scroll bars and left-clicking in poignant ways that you will commemorate in a sonnet when you return from your local farmer’s market.Awesome, Mr. Mickens. Awesome!
Liberalism isn't really about making the world a better place. It's about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.But you should read the whole thing, really...
That is why Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for having good intentions. His actual foreign policy mattered less than the appearance of a new transformative foreign policy based on speeches. Gore promised to be be harsher on Saddam than Bush, but no one remembers that because everyone in the bubble knows that the Iraq War was stupid... and only conservatives do stupid things.
Liberal intelligence exists on the illusion of its self-worth. The magical thinking that guides it in every other area from economics to diplomacy also convinces it that if it believes it is smart, that it will be. The impenetrable liberal consensus in every area is based on this delusion of intelligence. Every policy is right because it's smart and it's smart because it's progressive and it's progressive because smart progressives say that it is.
Progressives manufacture the consensus of their own intelligence and insist that it proves them right.
Imagine a million people walking in a circle and shouting, "WE'RE SMART AND WE'RE RIGHT. WE'RE RIGHT BECAUSE WE'RE SMART. WE'RE SMART BECAUSE WE'RE RIGHT." Now imagine that these marching morons dominate academia, the government bureaucracy and the entertainment industry allowing them to spend billions yelling their idiot message until it outshouts everyone else while ignoring the disasters in their wake because they are too smart to fail.
That is liberalism.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
’Twas the season of Christmas, and all through the land
Were signs and symbols some folks couldn’t stand.
The evergreen conifer many decorate with glee,
But don’t you dare call it a Christmas tree.
Heaven forbid a Nativity in the town square
For fear the grievance mongers soon would be there.
Meanwhile the choirs at many a public school
Are told no religious carols — those just aren’t that cool.
Don’t say “Christmas Concert,” for that’s full of shame.
“Winter Festival” — now that’s the new name!
A California judge, trying to squelch more good will,
Orders a war memorial cross removed from a hill.
The postman leaves Christmas off his “holiday stamp” fliers.
Forget the reason for the season — they’re Christmas deniers!
This despite Jesus’ birth named a federal holiday
On which those in government get a day off with pay.
For that fact, they should shout “Merry Christmas!” with glee,
If we can say that anymore, if we can just let it be.
Jolly old Santa gives grouches no pause,
But don’t get them started on the Establishment Clause.
A passive display is not proselytizing.
State-sponsored religion? They’re fantasizing!
How did we reach this point, where it all ran amok?
Christmas got run over by the politically correct truck.
It’s easy to forget, amidst Christmas bashing,
That the faithful do great things — just smashing!
Every day in this so-called city of sin
Christians donate and volunteer, creating a win-win.
Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Las Vegas Rescue Mission,
Where helping the needy is year-round tradition.
At countless valley churches, the downtrodden do enter,
For those touched by AIDS, there’s the Saint Therese Center.
Far too numerous to mention are so many others
Helping our struggling sisters and brothers.
So the need to kick Christmas right out of the season
Seems illogical, overzealous and lacking in reason.
’Tis the season for giving, to that we attest,
So to all grievance seekers, try giving it a rest.
Spread some charity and cheer, and let go of the spite.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
But these are the arenas of our culture under assault today. Rather than prospering and spreading as they should, they are under an all-out assault by the modern American Left, taking a beating from the pop culture of one coast and the bureaucratic strangulation of the other coast. The citizens of today have a duty to the citizens of tomorrow, and to fulfill that duty, we must turn to the examples of the citizens of the past… to the Founding Fathers of this great nation, and first and foremost, to the greatest example, George Washington, universally admired as the greatest leader of his time, who won a war and went home to his farm, looking forward to being “just another average American citizen again” – in the days when being “just another average American citizen” was the greatest thing to be in all the world.Read the whole thing...
For a bunch of people in snappy uniforms patting down crotches, the TSA is remarkably unpopular. Nobody likes going through security at the airport, but you probably figured most of it had a point. All those hours spent in line with other shoeless travelers are a necessary precursor to safe flying. It's annoying, but at least it wards off terrorism.In a nutshell, Rafi says the TSA is doing it all wrong. All wrong.
That's all bullshit. The TSA couldn't protect you from a 6-year-old with a water balloon. What are my qualifications for saying that? My name is Rafi Sela, and I was the head of security for the world's safest airport. Here's what your country does wrong.
The TSA is all about security theater and union membership, and not a bit about security. It hasn't stopped a single terrorist attack. But it is absolutely fantastic at boosting union membership (with consequent union dues and contributions to Democratic political campaigns) and spending American taxpayer dollars...
Contrast that attitude with the Christmas address at right, by President Reagan in 1981. Can you imagine That One addressing the nation in anything like that manner? Nope, I can't either...
This belongs in my “What the hell is happening to my country?” series...
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
A Christmas eve memory...
This is a very brief one, as I can really only remember one little thing. I know it was Christmas eve, and that I was quite young. In my memory, my brother Scott and sister Holly were just barely toddlers, and I'm only a couple of years older than them. Let's guess that I was 5 or 6 years old. My dad was sitting on our living room sofa, I was sitting next to him; Scott and Holly were on the floor below us. My dad was asking me, in a teasing way, what I wanted for Christmas.
I don't remember what I told him I wanted, but I do remember asking him what he wanted Santa to bring for him. His answer: “I already got my Christmas presents!”, and he gave me a big hug, then gathered up Scott and Holly and gave them a big hug, too. Then he started tickling us (something he loved to do, to make us giggle). My mom was watching all of us, a huge happy smile on her face, through the serving window that connected our living room to the kitchen (where, no doubt, she was busy cooking)...
That's one of those warm, sugary, happy, safe, secure moments that I wish I could just bottle up somehow, to have available for a swig when I need it...
Monday, December 23, 2013
Pajama Boy is the bookend to vero possumus, the faux-Greek columns, the Obama rainbow logo, cooling the planet and lowering the seas, hope and change, Forward!, “Yes, we can!”, the Nate Silver infatuation, Barbara Walters’ “messiah,” David Brooks’ crease, Chris Matthews’ tingle, and the army of Silicon techies who can mobilize for Obama but not for Obamacare. These are the elites without identities who feed on the latest fad. They are the upper-crust versions of those who once mobbed stores to buy the last Cabbage Patch Kids doll, or had to have a pet rock on their dresser. Obama, after all, was the lava lamp and Chia Pet of the young urban progressive.Go read.
If I were to focus on just two of the many characteristics of Pajama Boy nation in the Age of Obama, one would be that the consequences of one’s ideology apply always to someone else. Obama obsesses on inequality, but cannot even go through the populist motions of avoiding Martha’s Vineyard, or not dressing like a nerd for golf at the latest tony course.
He is an arugula-eating man of the people who tries to bowl only during election season. Michelle rags on the 1%, but still hits Costa del Sol and Aspen. Obamacare for us; for congressional staffers and insiders something quite different. A Nobel Prize and a half a billion dollars for guru Al Gore; and dumping Current TV on a fossil-fueled, anti-Semitic authoritarian Middle Eastern regime to fund more good work of our green Elmer Gantry. Amnesty for illegal aliens, but private academies for liberal kids far from the ensuing chaos of the public schools. Pajama Boys are fiercely liberal so that they can fiercely avoid the people they so champion and are so afraid to live among.
Second, the architects of Pajama Boy nation always expect others to go on despite rather than because of them. The frackers must frack so that Obama can brag about their productivity, while he bites his lip and looks pained to billionaire coastal benefactors about pumping liquid into the bowels of their Mother Earth.
The way the SPM deals with uncertainties (e.g. claiming something is 95% certain) is shocking and deeply unscientific. For a scientist, this simple fact is sufficient to throw discredit on the whole summary. The SPM gives the wrong idea that one can quantify precisely our confidence in the [climate] model predictions, which is far from being the case.It's been clear for some time that the “consensus” was largely a construction of the IPCC, but it's still instructive to see how professional scientists – especially those who are outside the climate change funding axis – respond to the posturings of the warmists...
Having leaned on A&E to suspend their biggest star, GLAAD has now moved on to Stage Two:Read the whole thing...
“We believe the next step is to use this as an opportunity for Phil to sit down with gay families in Louisiana and learn about their lives and the values they share,” the spokesman said.Actually, “the next step” is for you thugs to push off and stop targeting, threatening and making demands of those who happen to disagree with you. Personally, I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for the GLAAD executive board to sit down with half-a-dozen firebreathing imams and learn about their values, but, unlike the Commissars of the Bureau of Conformity Enforcement, I accord even condescending little ticks like the one above the freedom to arrange his own social calendar. Unfortunately, GLAAD has had some success with this strategy, prevailing upon, for example, the Hollywood director Brett Ratner to submit to GLAAD re-education camp until he had eaten sufficient gay crow to be formally rehabilitated with a GLAAD “Ally” award.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
His BFF, Mo'i...
For many of the trips I took with my dad, he would first come out to our home near San Diego. Generally he'd stay with us for a few days at the beginning and the end of the trip, to see our local scenery and (especially) to eat at some of San Diego's fine restaurants.
Over the years and visits, he got to know some of our dogs reasonably well. They'd recognize him when he showed up, and he'd get down on the floor and play with them. My dad liked friendly dogs.
One of our dogs, though, was a particular favorite of my dad: Mo'i. If you knew my dad and you know Mo'i, you'd be completely unsurprised by this – as they shared two defining traits.
First, Mo'i and my dad had very similar attitudes toward food. I've mentioned before how planning for the place and time to eat was something my dad would do reliably as we took off on a trip. He did the same thing at home, too. Mo'i is very similar in that regard – the central focus of Mo'i's life is food. He's a bit less particular, perhaps, than my dad was – but the centrality of food in Mo'i's world view is basically exactly like my dad's was. When my dad first saw this, he felt (and expressed, to our amusement) an instant kinship with Mo'i.
Secondly, Mo'i and my dad both enjoyed naps in the sunlight. All you have to do is show Mo'i a patch of sunlight and his eyes will start to close. My dad was pretty much the same way. On one of his first visits to our current home in Jamul, I once found him and Mo'i curled up on our living room floor together, in a patch of sunlight streaming in through a south-facing window. Their faces had quite similar expressions – peaceful, happy, and calm.
At the end of one of our trips – I think the one to the Big Sur – we were driving toward home, through the night-time traffic of Los Angeles. We were both pretty tired, having spent most of the day in my truck, on the road. My dad, characteristically, was plotting what goodies we should pick up at the grocery store before heading “up the hill” to our home. He was hungry, and this was therefore a serious undertaking. Suddenly, with no warning to me, he burst into a sunny smile and started laughing. When I asked why, he said he was thinking of Mo'i's reaction when he walked in the door with grocery bags. He wanted to pick something up, just for Mo'i. We did – we picked up some hamburger. The other dogs got some, too, but Mo'i got the bulk of it. My dad fed it to an extremely appreciative Mo'i, who was clearly transported to some earthly version of field spaniel heaven. My dad at that moment looked nearly as happy as Mo'i...
I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white.I'm that old, too...
– Thomas Sowell
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Boulder Creek Road...
Debbie and I took a drive along this road yesterday afternoon, curious to see if our recent rains had started the creek flowing (they had) and if the deer had moved down to the lower elevations yet (they had not). Taking that drive brought back some memories of the drives we took along this same road with my dad. It was a favorite destination for us in the spring or summer because there are several particularly nice wildflower patches along it. I don't have records of our first trip with him out here, but it was probably in the late '90s. When he last visited us, in 2007, we also made the trip, for perhaps the 3rd or 4th time with my dad.
I have several very vivid memories of these trips.
On the very first trip we took along that road, my dad was still physically in good shape, and could still easily out-hike me. At one particular point along the road, he spotted some unusual looking shrubs and trees on a little ridge, about a half mile from the road. We stopped and bushwhacked our way over to these unexpected plants, and my dad went into “botanical detective” mode. First he was able to identify some of the plants from memory, and knew that they weren't native plants – which meant that someone must have planted them. I might have noticed that a few of them looked out of place, but I couldn't have identified any of them. Then he spotted two overgrown shrubs, about 8 feet high and planted about 10 feet apart, and identified them as something often planted alongside stairways or porches, and speculated that there used to be a stairway between these two (now grown together, but would have been much smaller in the past). I've forgotten what any of those plants were, but I remember that I was skeptical at that point. Then he noticed that some of the other non-native bushes (and some irises) we'd found formed a rough rectangle, with the two “porch bushes” in the center of one of the small sides. That was definitely suggestive of a man-made building here, and even I could see it. My dad kicked at the dirt in the center of this rectangle, and immediately turned up a few man-made artifacts: an old bolt, an old piece of broken green glass, and some other junk. One of the prominent trees nearby my dad identified as a species often planted for shade, but it needed more water than we had – but it was thriving, so he speculated that there was a well nearby its trunk. We walked over to it (maybe 50' from the rectangle), and within a couple of minutes we found the remains of a circular stonework about 4' in diameter. It was certainly suggestive of a well, albeit a filled-in one. Then for a grand finale, he spotted a couple other non-native shrubs that were larger than they normally got. These were about 100' from the rectangle, and my dad immediately speculated that they were on the site of an outhouse, and the extra “fertilizer” there accounted for the bushes' unusual size. He concluded from all this that someone had once built a home there, probably in the 1800s. It was a beautiful site for a home, with a gorgeous view of both Cuyamaca Mountain and the large valley just to the south.
On another trip, we hiked for a mile or so upstream along Boulder Creek from where it crosses Boulder Creek Road. This must have been in April or May, because the wildflowers were prime. We clambered together all over that valley and its sides, seeking out wildflowers we'd spied from a distance. Many of those wildflowers were new to my dad, and in a few cases they were ones that I could identify. I suspect you'd have to grow up in my family to know what an unusual occurrence that was – between my dad and my mom, it seemed like they could identify anything with chlorophyll – and my Uncle Donald (my dad's brother) could identify all the fungi. It was a rare occasion indeed for me to be able to identify a plant that my dad could not :)
There's one visual memory I have of my dad on that hike. He was sitting on a nice flat rock, with Boulder Creek burbling along at his feet, the sun pouring down like butterscotch (thank you, Joni Mitchell), and beautiful blue wildflowers growing alongside up to the height of his head while he was sitting. He was pulling one of the plants toward him and inhaling deeply of its perfume. A happy dad...
On one of our earlier trips along Boulder Creek Road, as we were driving north near the Inaja Indian Reservation, my dad cried out “Blagh!” (or something much like that :), and asked me to stop. Anyone who has traveled with my dad (or with me, for that matter) is very familiar with this behavior. It meant that he had spotted something interesting, and wanted to get out and go see it. In this case my dad had spotted some heather, growing in and around a large exposed piece of rock. As you can see at the preceding link, there are a lot of heather species, and some of them are native to the Americas. The one my dad spotted, though, was a European heather, almost certainly one of the Erica genus. It was definitely not a native plant, which meant that someone had planted it. It was thriving in a shady, west-facing spot; the rock it was on or near was wet from a nearby seep.
On every single drive I've subsequently made along Boulder Creek Road (dozens by this point), including yesterday afternoon, I've searched for that patch of heather. I've never found it again...
ObamaCare initiates self-destruction sequence. Megan McArdle reads the latest tea leaves and concludes that ObamaCare as enacted is basically doomed. Oh, I so want her to be right on this!
ObamaCare = CompuServe. Rob Long, at Ricochet, also predicting the end of ObamaCare...
Obama repeals ObamaCare. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board says Obama's recent actions amount to a kinda-sorta repeal of the whole darned thing. Then there's this:
Pulling the thread of the individual mandate also means that the whole scheme could unravel. Waiving ObamaCare rules for some citizens and continuing to squeeze the individual economic liberties of others by forcing them to buy what the White House now concedes is an unaffordable product is untenable. Mr. Obama is inviting a blanket hardship amnesty for everyone, which is what Republicans should demand.The new political risk that the rules are liable to change at any moment will also be cycled into 2015 premiums. Expect another price spike late next summer. With ObamaCare looking like a loss-making book of business, a public declaration of penance by the insurance industry for helping to sell ObamaCare is long overdue.The only political explanation for relaxing enforcement of the individual mandate—even at the risk of destabilizing ObamaCare in the long term—is that the White House is panicked that the whole entitlement is endangered. The insurance terminations and rollout fiasco could leave more people uninsured in 2014 than in 2013. ObamaCare's unpopularity with the public could cost Democrats the Senate in 2014, and a GOP Congress in 2015 could compel the White House to reopen the law and make major changes.Republicans ought to prepare for that eventuality with insurance reforms beyond the "repeal" slogan, but they can also take some vindication in Thursday's reversal. Mr. Obama's actions are as damning about ObamaCare as anything Senator Ted Cruz has said, and they implicitly confirm that the law is quarter-baked and harmful. Mr. Obama is doing through executive fiat what Republicans shut down the government to get him to do.