Monday, September 30, 2013

Well, we kinda knew he was a good liar, didn't we?

Well, we kinda knew he was a good liar, didn't we?  Yesterday Charles Ferguson announced that he was canceling the Hilary Clinton documentary he was working on for CNN.  He's got an interesting explanation about why he did so up on Huffington Post.  This bit jumped out at me, about Bill Clinton:
He paused and then became even more soulful, thoughtful, passionate, and articulate. And then he proceeded to tell me the most amazing lies I've heard in quite a while.
The other thing that's clear, as if it wasn't already: Hilary is running in 2016, or at least that's definitely her plan now.  All the denials and obfuscations are just more bullshit from an accomplished bullshit artiste...

Why I don't trust government data...

Why I don't trust government data...  It's just too damned tempting for politicians and bureaucrats to screw with the data to make it say what they want it to say.  The “unemployment rate”, which I've discussed often before, is a prime example.  It's to the incumbent government's advantage to have the unemployment rate look lower than it really is, so they redefine the meaning of “unemployment” to exclude so-called “discouraged workers” – and presto! the unemployment rate is cut nearly in half.  Of course, credit for this instantly is attributed to those same bureaucrats.  Of course.

Now Forbes has a report on another such data redefinition, that smacks strongly of the same sort of thing.  This time the government wants to redefine the meaning of “cancer” – and, you guessed it, the result will be a lower rate of cancer.  Why, it's like magic!

“The latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence.”

“The latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence.”  So says MIT climatologist (and former IPCC Lead Author) Dr. Richard Lindzen (his complete statement at the link)Steve McIntyre weighs in on the IPCC's broken promise to address the observed hiatus in global warmingJo Nova takes on the IPCC's use of ocean heat to explain away the yawning discrepancies between their earlier predictions and that pesky reality thing...

I haven't yet read the IPCC report just released.  Others who have read it (like those above) seem to think it far more propaganda and entrenched bureaucratic butt-covering than anything resembling genuine science results...

Who says The One doesn't know how to create jobs?

Who says The One doesn't know how to create jobs?  He's started an entirely new industry!  Some folks I know in high tech businesses are darned excited about this, as the jobs being created may well be in places like the Bahamas, or islands in the South Pacific...

So sad, and so unnecessary...

So sad, and so unnecessary...  Mary O'Grady writes in today's Wall Street Journal about the price Columbia has paid, and continues to pay, for the U.S. “War on Drugs”:
The case of Colombia is especially tragic, and President Juan Manuel Santos is seeking a different course. In an interview with Journal editors in New York last week, he said that "Colombia probably has been the country that has incurred the highest cost in this war on drugs. We have lost our best leaders, our best judges, our best policemen, our best journalists." It has been "a lot of blood, the cost of this war on drugs."
The stunning ineffectiveness and utter futility of the War on Drugs is evident to anyone who looks at its history with clear eyes.  It is tragically expensive in both blood and treasure, has ruined hundreds of thousands of lives, and has delivered no benefits. 

It's been primarily supported by U.S. conservatives (of both major parties), but has the top-down “nanny-state” credentials and all the awful consequences one normally associates with a socialist or progressive program.  Libertarians have long been opposed to the War on Drugs, along with some Democrats. 

I suspect that the Republicans could make some political hay by radically changing their position on drugs.  Wiping out the War on Drugs would be a great start.  Legalization coupled with sane treatment options (as we have for alcohol abuse) would be even better...

Platforms matter...

Platforms matter.  To our military, a “platform” or (weapons platform) is anything that carries weapons to battle.  We have lots of them, and for the most part they are superior (sometimes vastly so) than any platform produced by anyone else on the planet.

However, as al Qaeda has amply demonstrated, while platforms do matter, they are not the only thing that does...

“Maybe one day President Obama will figure it out.”

“Maybe one day President Obama will figure it out.”  So says John Bolton (aka “The Mustache”), in the concluding line of his piece on how Iran's President Rouhani is playing The One.

I'm not holding my breath...

X-47B in underway carrier operations...

X-47B in underway carrier operations, including take-offs, touch-'n-gos, and arrested landings.  Carrier landings are particularly challenging, especially in high performance jets.  I recall reading, not so very long ago, a confident prediction by a Navy flier that there would never be a machine that could do it.  Now I'm reading that X-47B is demonstrably better than human pilots, getting the first wire most of the time.

As I watched this video, it occurred to me that there are many parallels between the robotic spacecraft and these new robotic combat machines.  Both are dramatically less expensive than their manned equivalents.  Both are more capable in important ways than their manned equivalents.  Both are far safer (for people, anyway) than their manned equivalents.  And, interestingly, both have detractors who prefer the manned equivalents for their beauty, their romance, and their glory.

The robots are going to win this battle, I'm sure.  It's just a question of when...

Special forces shortage...

Special forces shortage...  This isn't a new problem, but it isn't getting fixed very fast – our Special Forces have been a key part of the War on Terror, leading our military commanders to demand more and more of them.  Because we don't have enough of them, the Special Forces “operators” are being overworked – so much so that many of them are leaving before retirement (much more at the link).  It's a challenge:
Trying to recruit replacements is a solution that does not work well. The U.S. Army's effort to recruit another 2,300 operators (as members of the Special Forces are called) was a hard slog. Qualified candidates are out there, but it's hard to convince them to endure the additional effort, stress, and danger to become a Special Forces operator (or a SEAL, Ranger, Pararescue Jumper). Even with higher pay ($10,000 or more additional a year) and high reenlistment bonuses (adding about $10,000 more a year), it's hard to find the men who can meet the high standards and are willing to put up with the large amount of time spent overseas.

Recruiting and training more operators is a time consuming process, as it takes about three years to get a Special Forces recruit up to a basic level of competence. It takes another few years in the field before such men are ready for anything serious. At least half of those recruited are lost (quit, wash out) before they reach their full capability. Recruiting to expand the number of operators began right after September 11, 2001. Soon, SOCOM was told to increase its strength by 43 percent, and do it by 2013.

Casualties are less of an issue than you might think for such dangerous work. SOCOM casualties are actually lower than in infantry or marine units. While SOCOM operators comprise about ten percent of all combat troops, they have only suffered six percent of the combat deaths and four percent of the wounded. The big issue has always been overwork. Combat operations wear troops out. Elite men like SOCOM operators can handle more stress than your average infantryman, but they have their limits as well. Moreover, most Special Forces operators are married and have families. Being away from the wife and kids for extended periods often causes more stress. Keep the operators out there for too long at a time and you'll lose them to resignations, retirement or, rarely, combat fatigue. It's not just the equipment that is being worn out.

Stinging insects, as art.

Stinging insects, as art.  USGS biologist Sam Droege takes some beautiful photographs of bees and wasps in pursuit of science.  To get this incredible depth-of-field, Droege uses the same technique the the Curiosity rover uses: he takes several photographs at different focus points, then “merges” them together to get these amazing results.

Looking at these photos gave me an idea for a microscope enhancement – one that would do this merge in near real-time, so you could look at specimens in near-realtime and get the same depth of field.  If someone hasn't already done this, I'll bet they will soon...

Classic insults and ripostes...

Classic insults and ripostes, via Maggie's Farm.  I've seen most of these before, but I like the collection...
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
Disraeli: "That depends, sir, on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

Walter Kerr: "He had delusions of adequacy."

Winston Churchill: "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

Clarence Darrow: "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway): "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

Moses Hadas: "Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."

Mark Twain: "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."

Oscar Wilde: "He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."

George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."
Winston Churchill, in response: "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."

Stephen Bishop: "I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."

John Bright: "He is a self-made man and worships his creator."

Irvin S. Cobb: "I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."

Samuel Johnson: "He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."

Paul Keating: "He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

Charles, Count Talleyrand: "In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

Forrest Tucker:"He loves nature, in spite of what it did to him."

Mark Twain: "Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"

Mae West: "His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

Oscar Wilde: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."

Andrew Lang: "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts ... for support, rather than illumination."

Billy Wilder: "He has Van Gogh's ear for Music."

Groucho Marx: "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."

This succinctly presents my expectations...

This succinctly presents my expectations on the ObamaCare launch tomorrow...

Do not kill, don't have anger, respect any form of life.

Do not kill, don't have anger, respect any form of life.  That's the credo of the Jains, an Indian religious sect.  Sounds like my kind of people.  Members of that faith helped hundreds of people during the recent al Qaeda siege at Nairobi, providing much-needed assistance that the government didn't.

Hey, wait a minute – you can't do that!  That's not the socialist progressive way!  We'll have none of that self-reliance here, buddy – you wait for the government to show up, like a proper citizen subject!

Enquiring minds want to know...

Enquiring minds want to know...