Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just a few more tweaks to the blog layout, based on some feedback I've received.  It turns out that the problems people reported that got me started on the new layout were mainly caused by just a couple elements (especially the blog archive index).  Most of the stuff that used to be at the right is back, except for those few elements that caused problems when they're over there.  I appreciate the feedback; please keep it coming!
Heh. So we were on the way home just now, after having some delicious sushi at (the soon-to-be-closed, sob) Yuki Sushi. I was telling Debbie about my desire to avoid giving a friend a certain gift that was likely to cost our friend a bunch of money over time. Debbie said, instantly: “Ah, the California gift – the one that keeps on taking!”  Ah, too true, too true...

Russian police ninjas.  Must not have many donut shops there...
The media managed, as always, to get nearly everything wrong in early reporting on the Navy Yard shootings.
Obama's useful idiots.  It's a wonder to me that more of them haven't figured out that they're being used mercilessly.  Oh, that's right – they're idiots!
I cherish them more as the years go by: the Craftsmanship of Simple Things.
It's a more incremental change to drug policy than the upheaval I'd like to see, but it's certainly better than the status quo.
Frozen lake roulette.  I hope I don't know anyone who would do this...
Oh, ouch!  That's all I'm going to say...
Let's just be glad there isn't one ring to rule them all...  When Jonah Goldberg starts a piece like this:
As a conservative resident of Washington, D.C., where registered Republicans are outnumbered by about 9 to 1 and where truly conservative Republicans are outnumbered on a scale comparable to the predicament faced by Frodo and Sam when they sneaked into orc-infested Mordor, I find such statements hilarious.
You know it's going to be good!
Leftist logic on display.  Robert at Small Dead Animals makes a lovely point...
Our military bases are more vulnerable than most people think.  Here's an analysis that comports with my own experiences in the U.S. Navy.  I saw some crazy security issues back then.  Two come to mind immediately. 

First, I frequently stood watch on the “after brow” (one of the gangplanks used to board the ship) when we were in port.  We were armed with .45s – but we were not issued ammunition.  Apparently the brass were afraid of arming enlisted men :) 

Second, our radio room had a combination lock on the door, intended to keep out people who weren't cleared to see the classified teletype traffic laying about all over the room.  But it was darned inconvenient to remember that frequently-changed combination, so each time it was changed, someone would tape a piece of paper with the new combination on it – directly over the lock. 

Not quite what you might call a “fortress”!
How would you answer this question?
Would you rather have Congress avoid a government shutdown by authorizing spending at existing levels or would you rather have a partial government shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on what spending to cut?
Rasmussen says that 53% of likely voters polled were for the partial shutdown, and just 37% for Obama's preference of continuing spending at current levels.  That smells like hope to me.  Faint, perhaps just barely detectable, but there...
A flying pig moment...  The Detroit Free Press – not exactly known for their conservative bias – has published an excellent analysis of why Detroit went broke.  In particular, it stabs all sorts of Democratic sacred cows in places where it hurts.  It also generally faces up to the fiscal realities in a way you wouldn't expect a liberal rag to do.  Too bad they didn't start behaving this way back when it would have done some good, like back in the '70s...
The progressives call this progress.  I call it indoctrination.  The Second Amendment, as it appears in the actual Constitution:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
A new U.S. history textbook:
The people have the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.
That is not an accurate description of the Second Amendment, nor does it reflect the way the Supreme Court has interpreted it.  But it does comport with the way progressives would like the Second Amendment to be understood.

The progressives effectively own our public schools and almost all universities.  This has consequences, not a single damned one of which is to my liking...
Ahmed Akkari is sorry.  I sure wish we would see a few more radical Islamic fundamentalists like that.  And when I say “a few more”, I mean like a few million.  Even better would be to throw in a few million radical Christian fundamentalists, too.  Just think how much saner the world would be!
Evil is running for Governor of Massachusetts.  And I don't mean Evil Kneival, either – I mean the real thing.
Jaguar 1, caiman 0.  Dramatic photos and story...
Disney war bonds, from WWII.  I'd never heard of these before, or of Disney's involvement...
Foot-long, inch-wide tubes of earwax.  Scientists collect these from whales.  Turns out they have rings, much like tree rings.  And these rings contains traces of pollutants and other environmental chemicals.  Science never loses its capacity to surprise me!
$1.7 billion dollars in 2013.  That's how much Los Angeles County alone is spending on illegal aliens this year.  Both our immigration system and our welfare system are badly broken.  Where they intersect, it's a disaster...
The Concordia is vertical and floating.  Parbuckling was involved, along with a lot more practical marine engineering.
Pragmatism vs. theorism: the U.S. military gets practical answers to a classic problem...
Most successful chemical weapons attack evah?  Doug Feith, writing in the WSJ:
Bashar Assad may have pulled off the most successful use of chemical weapons in history. For the two years leading up to the Aug. 21 Damascus sarin gas attack, President Obama was saying that the Syrian dictator "must go." No longer. In one month, Assad has risen from outlaw butcher to partner in disarmament.
Why would a company walk away from a $541 million investment, writing it all off?  Two words: Obama's EPA.
WSJ editors observing the House Republicans: “Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the pilots.”  The editors want the House Republicans to start using their majority of 218 votes to accomplish something useful.  Trouble is, very few Republicans have a position that I like much better than the Democrats' positions, so I'm not too excited about the Republicans learning to use their House majority effectively...
So we just ran “down the hill” to drop off my truck for a smog inspection, at Rancho Jamul Auto Care (where Dave and his crew deliver top-notch auto maintenance at fair prices, with old-fashioned honesty and integrity).  Out here in Lawson Valley, it's wall-to-wall blue sky and bright sunshine – but when we went over the last hill before Jamul town, we entered the fog zone.  Thick fog dropped visibility down to a hundred feet or less, within a quarter mile of topping the hill.  To our astonishment, we saw many cars – perhaps a quarter of everyone we saw – driving in this pea soup with no lights.  Just to be clear: I have no objection at all if someone wants to demonstrate evolution at work by doing something stupid and taking themselves out.  But when they do something stupid that could take us out, I object strenuously!  Turn your damned lights on, you morons!
The erstwhile socialist paradise of Venezuela is falling apart.  Strategy Page leads with:
In Venezuela annual inflation hit 45 percent, the highest it has been in five years. This sort of thing is making the country increasingly unstable. Venezuela is supposed to be a socialist paradise by now. But like every other attempt at this use of centralized economic planning and control it has only resulted in more poverty and growing shortages of basics. Some newspapers have had to stop publishing, or go with much smaller papers, because of a widespread shortage of newsprint. Some states in Venezuela are introducing rationing and more aggressively going after hoarders (and blaming the shortages on them although, if you do the math, hording is obviously a result of the shortages not the cause.) Unemployment is climbing because the attempts at centralized economic control make it very difficult to run a business and create new jobs. Businessmen and entrepreneurs continue to flee the country, many going to neighboring Colombia where the economy is booming. About a third of Venezuelans still believes in the Chavez dream of a socialist paradise and blame the continuing failure of the plan on internal enemies and plots by the United States. But as the economic problems get worse and neighboring nations (like Colombia and Brazil) prosper under free market policies, more and more Venezuelans reluctantly change their minds.
The U.S. has two big potential calamities that are both quite close to home: Venezuela and Cuba.  Both of them are likely to implode, though I wouldn't care to make a prediction other than “within the next 50 years”.  When they do, there will be refugees by the millions, and aid by the billions.  And a lot of liberated people, thoroughly indoctrinated in the failures of socialism...
High speed missile interceptions.  These are amazing feats of engineering.  When President Reagan first proposed developing these systems, he was derided as a deluded, starry-eyed technophile.  Plenty of his detractors are still around, and still pontificating – I'd say some apologies are in order.  I'm not holding my breath, though...
I've long been fascinated by the sense of touch.  Long ago I noticed that I could feel things like the print on a laser-printed page, or the difference in the texture of a piece of wood sanded glass-smooth and a piece of glass.  Researchers are starting to figure out how that sense actually works.  Good vibrations are involved...
Product recommendation: If you're interested in the English language, whether from simple curiosity or from need, then I recommend the computer version of the Oxford English Dictionary, version 4.0 (aka “OED”).  It's listed on Amazon today at $218.50, though I paid considerably less a few months ago when I bought it on sale.

I've been using the OED for many years now.  First I used the enormous printed version found in libraries.  Then I used the one printed in tiny type that comes with a magnifying glass.  Then I used the first computer version (2.0).  The current version beats them all. 

I am addicted to its research capabilities, which are extensive – something you simply can't do with the printed version.  For example, suppose I wanted to know all the English words derived from Estonian words.  I can do that (answer, in 4 seconds: just two words - loaf and rye).  Or suppose I want to know all the words containing “dak” (answer, in 2 seconds: 44 words including didakai, fondak, and pradakshina).

It's a wonderful thing to have this tool on my desktop.  I keep it open all day long...
The earth's core super-rotates eastward.  The main evidence is provided by subtle changes in propagation speed of sonic waves made by earthquakes, a tour de force of scientific measurement.  What's being touted here isn't so much that discovery (which happened a while back), but the successful creation of computer models that match the observations.  That's an example of models being used well in the furtherance of a deeper understanding – unlike their primarily investigative use in climatology, where there seems to be no shame in promoting models that don't even come close to matching those pesky, politically-incorrect, non-grant raining actual observations.  Reality bites, if you're a climatologist like Mann or Hansen...
Drones are the next big thing.  We're going to see a lot of ideas like this one: a drone that can carry a defibrillator (quickly!) to someone who needs it.  Some of the ideas will work, some won't.  Some will make a lot of money, some will lose a lot.  Sounds like the last big thing (can you spell dot com?), doesn't it?
Jamul Casino news: The San Diego Daily Transcript reports:
Improvements along state Route 94 associated with the proposed Jamul Indian Village casino are scheduled to be discussed during a Caltrans-sponsored meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cottonwood Country Club Tuesday.

The Jamul Band of Mission Indians, which has a six-acre reservation, plans to develop a 203,000-square-foot gaming facility.

The casino building is expected to also include a bank, administrative facilities, food and beverage service, a child-care facility, an arcade area, some retail, a tribal center, a human resources facility and about 2,000 mostly structured parking spaces.

The casino, which will have 2,000 slots along with assorted table games, is projected to employ about 1,800 people. Penn National Gaming will be managing the facility.

The development is also expected to house a new fire station, a wastewater treatment plant and a catch basin system for stormwater.

Proposed highway improvements include widening highway 94 to four lanes between Melody Road and the band's property line and a new traffic signal may be installed at the Highway 94/Lyons Valley Road junction. New turn lanes would be also be added at Highway 94 and Jamacha Boulevard.
Here we go again!