Email complaints/requests about copyright infringement to clayton @ claytoncramer.com. Reminder: the last copyright troll that bothered me went bankrupt.
Email complaints/requests about copyright infringement to clayton @ claytoncramer.com. Reminder: the last copyright troll that bothered me went bankrupt.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Informix SQL Question
Informix SQL does not allow the use of LIKE in global variables in stored procedures. Pretty obviously, using the LIKE keyword to make sure that variables are of the same type and dimensions as you are going to be reading from a table is a darn good idea. That way, if some bright person changes a field definition in one place, everyone who is using LIKE follows along from there, and we are all in agreement.
I can't imagine any good reason why Informix SQL doesn't allow LIKE in global variables. Does anyone have a clever workaround? (I mean, besides not using global variables? Evil as they are, there's no easy alternative for what I am doing. SQL is so twentieth century!)
Monday, December 28, 2009
Kohl's New Sale Approach?
My wife and son went into Kohl's in Meridian a couple of days ago to do some clothes shopping. They were having what I consider a most remarkable type of after-Christmas sale: many items were marked as on sale--but you would only find out the sale price when you went up to the register, and they rung up your purchases.
Not surprisingly, they turned around, and left.
Busy, Busy, Busy
Dave Kopel and I are working on two different articles for law reviews, one kind of minor with respect to the McDonald case, one actually pretty significant.
I am also working as fast as I can to get my lecture notes organized for Western Civilization class. Perhaps I am overdoing it, but I'm not winging it. When I don't know more than the textbook about a particular topic that I am going to be teaching, I'm researching recent scholarship on the subject to make sure that I am ready for any question that they throw at me. For example: I now not only know that our letter A comes from Phoenician aleph for ox, but our G comes from Phoenician gimel, for camel. The Greek and Cyrillic versions are a bit closer to the Phoenician letter than the Latin G.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Don't be looking here for cleverness, wit, or thoughtful postings for a day or two. It's Christmas. You should be with your family! My son is flying in from Oregon tomorrow, and we'll be spending it with him, our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.
Drones Vs. Torture
Professor Kerr over at Volokh Conspiracy asks an important question that either reveals how irrational Americans are, or what hypocritical scum the American left is:
News of a U.S.-supported attack on a suspected Al-Qaeda operative meeting in Yemen reminds me of a curious dynamic in the public response to how the U.S. fights the war on terror: Killing Al-Qaeda suspects seems to be much less controversial than detaining and interrogating them.
Consider a hypothetical example. Imagine U.S. officials have reason to believe that an Al-Qaeda leader is in a house near the Pakistan border. Our intelligence indicates that the man is in the house with his wife and three children. Now imagine the U.S. authorities have two choices. First, they can send in a team of commandos and seize the Al-Qaeda leader and send him to Gitmo, where he will be detained and waterboarded. If they do that, his wife and children will not be seized, but rather will be let go. Alternatively, U.S. officials can order an airstrike that will just blow up the entire house to smithereens. Everyone in the house will be killed, including the Al-Qaeda leader, his wife and three children, and anyone else who happens to be inside or nearby.
What interests me is the U.S. public reaction to these options, assuming the press learns of and reports on what happened. My sense is that if the U.S. authorities take option one — that is, detaining the suspect and waterboarding him — there will be a tremendous public outcry. Waterboarding is torture, and it is a moral imperative that we do not torture, many people will say. And it will be important to a lot of people that the seized detainee has constitutional rights that entitle him to a hearing to determine the lawfulness of his detention, together with an appointed attorney.
But if authorities just blow the house up, well, I suspect not that many people would think twice about it. Waterboarding may be an outrage, but blowing a suspect to smithereens together with his wife and children, well, that’s just war. There’s no hearing or lawyers or constitutional rights, to be sure. But again, few people seem to mind.
I would argue that the difference is that the three prisoners that were waterboarded actually provided usable intelligence, which saved lives, and this was done on Bush's watch. It wasn't really a moral objection by most of the left--they were just upset that:
1. It worked, and saved lives.
2. It was a tool for attacking a Republican.
As some of the commenters over there point out, the left was never terribly upset about President Clinton's "extraordinary rendition" policies. The Communist Party USA and its fellow Western leftist political parties were always quite concerned about abuse of due process, mistreatment of prisoners, etc.--as long as it was happening outside the Communist bloc. Otherwise? Who cares?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Aristocrats, Then & Now
As I have been reading through Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, I keep comparing the character, fundamental decency, and respect for the common man that aristocrats had then with our political class--and they have much in common. They were constantly raising taxes, supposedly for the public good, but mostly for their own good. They spent a lot of time hyping the chivalric code--which was four-fifths fantasy--but utterly failing to live up to it. And they held the masses in utter contempt.
But there are times when one of these scum really outdid the rest of his class. From Tuchman, p. 356, describing one of the interminable campaigns of the Hundred Years War and the English aristocracy's newest set of plans:
Ever since Charles's repudiation of the Treaty of Bretigny and the reverses that followed, they had hated the French for falsely and wrongfully, as they saw it, dispossessing them of their property. Defense of their own countrymen might be lackadaisical, but in combat overseas, where plunder offered, there was no lack of will to fight, only lack of money. Other means being exhausted, funds for an expedition to Brittany were raised in 1379 by a graduated poll (or head) tax, a new device designed to cover clergy and peasants at lower income levels than before. Calculated, with the usual vagueness about population figures, to bring in £50,000, it produced only £20,000, all of it invested in a fleet commanded by Sir John Arundel.Rich; spoiled; sexually immoral; prone to horrendous expenditures on militarily useless activities (the 1000 missile Minuteman fleet); sexual partners drowning when inconvenient. Are we sure he actually drowned? Or did he start the Kennedy clan?
Delayed until winter by lack of wind and then by threat of a French raid, Arundel took part of his force to Southampton to guard against an enemy landing and, why there, to conduct himself indistinguishably from the enemy. Beside robbing the countryside, he quartered his men-at-arms and archers in a convent, allowing them to violate at will the nuns and a number of poor widows who lived there, and to carry them off to the ships when ready to sail. Arundel was the man who had demanded money in hand before he would defend the south-coast towns against earlier French raids. If Walsingham may be believed, he used it for ostentation as extreme as his brutality. He is said to have embarked with a wardrobe of 52 suits embroidered in gold, and horses and equipment to the value of £7,000.
Sailing in December, his convoy was caught by a violent storm during which he ordered the kidnapped women thrown overboard to lighten the ships, maltreated the crew, and having struck down the pilot, was fittingly wrecked on the rocks of the Irish coast.... Arundel's body, rolling in the waves, was washed up three days later. Driven back by the storm, the remainder of the fleet never made the crossing and the tax money was accordingly wasted.
Some Scams Just Keep Mutating
Like this one. Not HHOHHU.COM, but HooHah.com. The claim is that you can heat your home for pennies a day. Their heater works by using electricity to electrolyze water, then burns it back to water again, and the energy released warms your home.
There's a certain fixed amount of energy that you need to electrolyze water to hydrogen and oxygen. When you recombine them (either through a fuel cell, or combustion), you get that energy back--assuming that the electrolysis process was 100% efficient, and combustion was 100% efficient. In practice, neither process is 100% efficient. I find it hard to believe that the net result of this process is even as efficient as running that electricity through some resistance wire to make heat (which is how most space heaters work).
If you are running it hot enough to produce that cheery, cherry glow, well, that's not so efficient, because some of the electricity is being used to produce light, not heat. But as long as the heating element isn't glowing, nearly all the electricity is going to come out as infrared.
P.T. Barnum had it right: "There's a sucker born every minute." And saying that it is green, too, just adds to the charm!
The Gore Effect Again & The Invention of Chimneys
From the December 22, 2009 Guardian:
More than 100 people have been killed in the cold snap across Europe, with temperatures plummeting and snowfall causing chaos from Moscow to Milan.I'm reading Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror at the moment, and she mentions that the chimney was invented in the 11th century, and ascribes it to the cooling that presaged the Little Ice Age. I found that claim quite astonishing, so I did a little digging. She's overstated it, but not by much.
In Poland, where temperatures have dropped to as low as -20C in some areas, police appealed for tip-offs about people spotted lying around outside. At least 42 people, most of them homeless, died over the weekend.
In Ukraine 27 people have frozen to death since the thermometer dropped last week. Authorities in Romania said 11 people had succumbed to the chill, and in the Czech Republic the toll was 12. In Germany, where temperatures have fallen to -33C in certain parts, at least seven people are known to have lost their lives in the freezing weather.
Roads were not exempt from the chaos. After a weekend that brought the heaviest snowfall in about 100 years, Moscow was gridlocked, with tailbacks snailing around the Russian capital.
In Italy, where winters are usually mild, motorways in the north-east were closed and the Ministry of Defence dispatched helicopters in Sicily to bring medical aid to those in need.
Sir William Smith's View of the State of Europe During the Middle Ages (1888) discusses that there is no evidence of chimneys in England "prior to the twelfth century." John E. Crowley's The Invention of Comfort (2003) reports that while chimneys were used in industrial applications in Roman times, they were not used for household heating. A hole in the roof was sufficiently efficient for that purpose. Various motivations are ascribed to this--but the obvious one is that it suddenly got very cold on a consistent basis in the twelfth century. This account from 1877 asserts:
The chimney for carrying off the smoke of a house is of modern invention. It was not introduced into England before the twelfth, and into Italy in the thirteenth century. Even in the seventeenth century throughout England the houses of the well-to-do yeomen were without chimneys.Considering the role that Italian fashion played in the Renaissance--and generally the movement of culture and refinement northward--I'm inclined to think that Tuchman has it right: chimneys were a response to increased cold, making the traditional hole in the ceiling approach inadequate.
Not Impressed With FTP Backup
I've been using Synback to back up my wife's PC for several weeks now to some online storage that I have available. But my efforts to use Syncback for my PC have been much less successful. It seems to have serious problems with large files (greater than 500 MB) causing it to lose connection part way through--and worse, it keeps backing up the same files, again and again and again. The archive attribute is not working the way that it seems to work on my wife's PC (which is running Windows ME Home Edition--and that may be the difference).
Anyway, it just bogs down my Internet connection something awful. I may take advantage of the after-Christmas sales to buy a 1 terabyte external hard disk for backup. Since it is through a USB port, it's still not blindingly fast--but certainly faster than upload, and I suspect that it will handle the archive bit more sensibly. If not: I'm roll my own using XCOPY in a DOS shell.
How Many Languages Can I Learn At Once?
And then there were those clever employees who thought that even though this was a single date field--why not enter a range of dates on which the offenses took place? And how do you distinguish a range of dates within one month, and a range of months and years? Disambiguating 7/06-9/08 is harder than it looks--because 7/6 through 7/9/08 is perilously close to 7/06 through 9/08. Loads of fun! By the time I was done, I had a mass of regular expressions and gobs of tools for processing strings.
Today I started learning 4GL (which I had never seen before), so that I can convert existing code to SQL stored procedures (which I have only limited experience doing). And next week? They'll probably have me translate APL procedures to Snobol. Or perhaps I'll find myself coding FORTRAN II again. Anything's possible at the State of Idaho!
Monday, December 21, 2009
This Looks Almost Plausible
But not quite. I was curious to see what can be done to give a bit more punch to the Jaguar (once the extended factory warranty expires in 2011), and I ran into this $89.95 supercharger kit that just made me start to laugh.
Superchargers compress incoming air in the intake manifold, usually with a compressor that runs off an engine belt. This gadget, however, is essentially an electric fan that goes inside the duct that feeds air into the intake manifold, and takes less than five minutes to install.
Now, if it actually increases the amount of air going into the engine, then it could provide more power. The fuel injection system will feed more fuel as it gets more air. (Superchargers were originally invented for aircraft to compensate for reduced oxygen at altitude.) But I'm more than a little skeptical that an electric motor is going to sufficiently pressurize the incoming air mass enough to make much of a real difference. But I do have to hand it to someone for being clever enough to come up with a cheap way to fool the rubes.
Law: The Incredibly Inexact Science
I'm writing a law review article concerning the standards of review used by state courts with respect to the right to keep and bear arms at the moment. I'm just astonished, as I go back through the stack of decisions that I used for my book For the Defense of Themselves and the State how really astonishingly careless many of these decisions were--from the 19th century, and from the 20th century. It's even worse when you start to look up the precedents that they cite--with no apparent awareness that they are often citing contradictory precedents to prove their point. It isn't at all unusual to find cases that cite one set of decisions to prove that there is no right to concealed carry, and another set of decisions to prove that their is no right to open carry--with no awareness that the "no right to concealed carry" decisions often directly say that concealed carry can be prohibited only if open carry is allowed (or vice versa).
The standard of review aspects are even uglier. A lot of the decisions (especially in the 19th century, but even in the 20th century) do consider the right to keep and bear arms an absolute right--one that cannot be denied in public places. Other decisions use various "balancing of interests" approaches, whereby if some legitimate public purpose is in conflict, such as public safety, then the right can be regulated. But it is astonishing how sloppy many of these decisions are about this. How important does the public interest have to be? I can understand arguments for a variety of approaches, but many of these decisions can't seem to ever quite express what that standard is.
Some argue that the regulation must be "reasonable" without ever giving an example of unreasonable. Some argue that the right can be regulated, but not abolished. My favorite are the decisions of the Tennessee and Arkansas Supreme Courts, which both ruled that the legislature couldn't prohibit carrying pistols--but could require them to be always carried in the hand, at all times. Talk about the most dangerous possible mode of carry!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Earliest Description of a Strike-Slip Fault?
For those who don't live on a strike-slip fault (like the San Andreas):
Strike-slip faults involve motion which is parallel to the strike of the fault--frequently described as a "side-by-side" motion. Strike-slip faults are further described as "right-lateral" (dextral) or "left-lateral" (sinistral) depending if the block opposite the viewer moved to the right or left respectively.I was quite to surprised when our pastor's sermon recently included Zechariah 14:3-4:
3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.Zechariah is generally dated to the period circa 520 BC. I am not aware of any classical references to strike-slip faults that are this clear, this early.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
An Important Idea For Understanding History
From Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (New York: Ballatine Books, 1978), 219-220:
What is rare is a woman's account of herself. The anguished Heloise in the 12th century and the feminist Christine de Pisan in the later 14th speak out, and both are bitter, although that does not necessarily establish a rule. In individuals as in nations, contentment is silent, which tends to unbalance the historical record.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I was looking for information on "Frost Fairs," an interesting artifact, it has been claimed, of "the Little Ice Age." Frost Fairs were held when the Thames froze over so solidly that not only could you walk across the river at London--but carriages stopped using bridges, and an entire small city was built out there. Livestock were slaughtered and roasted on the ice, and print shops would set up to print novelty goods: "printed on the Thames." These Frost Fairs sometimes lasted for months.
Among the interesting items that I found while searching was this issue of the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (1901), in which Albert E. Watson's "A Review of Past Severe Winters in England, with Deductions Therefrom" appeared:
About 9 years ago, in a letter to The Times, I pointed out, as an interesting and remarkable fact, that during the last 40 years the winter from 0 to 1 in each decade has been distinguished by its great severity. Curious to see how far this would hold good, I searched past records and published the results in a local newspaper, and then let the matter drop; but recently, since another decade has rolled away, and we are again face to face with another 0 to 1 winter, I have examined the subject more thoroughly, and the results obtained are so peculiar and significant that they seem worthy of more than a local circulation. I will first, therefore, examine the severe winters of the last 300 years, make notes upon each in proof of its severity, and afterwards consider the results of these investigations, and the conclusions to which they point.Quite interesting. While one of the commenters on the paper pointed out the lack of hard data upon which Watson was characterizing "severe winters," he pointed out that there was data for the last 60 years that fit with Watson's observations:
Nevertheless, from a scientific point of view, it was to be regretted that, at all events for the winters of the past century, some clear definition had not been given as to what the author meant by a "severe winter." There were so many different ways of gauging severe winters that it became necessary, whatever test be adopted, that the same test be applied to each winter in the series. Mr. Watson's deductions were in the main supported by the Greenwich records for the last 60 years.So, what would cause harsher weather every ten years or so? The obvious answer is: sunspot cycles are on roughly an eleven year cycle--and that interval varies. This page indicates:
Between 1700 and today, the sunspot cycle (from one solar min to the next solar min) has varied in length from as short as nine years to as long as fourteen years.Intriguing, isn't it?
Some of those arguing that the current warming is largely driven by solar changes mention the Frost Fairs--which are no longer within the memory of any living Briton. But that 1901 article also makes the claim that at least part of what changed was:
that the state of the Thames was very different before the removal of old London Bridge about 1825 to what it was now; old London Bridge, acting as a half tidal dam, greatly diminishing the range of the tide, and probably accounting for the fact of the water freezing more often than it did now.There does seem to be clear evidence, however, that the weather was colder, and more importantly, it stayed cold for months on end--in a way that is no longer the case. Other articles list events where the Thames froze over--but largely before the Medieval Warm Period, and again starting in the eleventh century, as the Little Ice Age starts to arrive:
I found gobs of other interesting sources, many of them quite old, about Frost Fairs--and I also ran into one very odd science fiction story here set in a future Ice Age where mankind's technology has dropped back to a medieval level. It's really not suited to children, because we learn that in such a future, a girl's best defense against rape involves handguns. The author is, shockingly enough, a British Ph.D. in Astronomy who works for the European Space Agency.
To turn to the earliest periods of English history, we find the Thames frozen over in A.d. 134 for two months, in 153 for three months, in 250 for nine weeks, in 290 for six weeks, and so on at intervals of various distances of time.
In the"Harleian Miscellany," vol. iii., page 167, it is recorded that " in the tenth year of the reign of William the Conqueror, the cold of winter was exceeding memorable, both for sharpness and for continuance ; for the earth remained hard from the beginning of November until the midst of April then ensuing." I am unable to discover whether, just as the great heat of the jubilee year was preceded by a cold and very late spring, so this extraordinary winter (which is, perhaps, at the bottom of the expression so often used by old-fashioned people, of seasonable weather) was followed by a very hot summer.
In those days, money and science could not, as they do to-day, make our houses independent of cold ; for ten years afterwards, as Walford, in his " Insurance Cyclopaedia," tells us, the weather was so inclement that in the unusual efforts made to warm the houses, nearly all the chief cities of the kingdom were destroyed by fire, including a great part of London and St. Paul's. Nor at that period of English history were we independent of our own food supply. London was not then, as it is now, the market of the world, for in 1121-22 a severe frost killed the grain crops and a famine followed.
In 1281-82 a very severe winter was followed by an equally dry summer, for in Stow, edited by Howes, 1631, we find tne following statement: —
From Christmas to the Purification of our Lady there was such a frost and snow as no man living could remember the like: when through five arches of London Bridge and all Rochester Bridge were borne downe and carried away by the streame; and the like hapned to many other bridges in England; and not long after, men passed over the Thames between Westminster and Lambeth dryshod.
Need A Lawyer Licensed To Practice Law in Oregon
The company for which I was contracting in Oregon has been delaying payment--now they are just ignoring me. If you are licensed to practice law in Oregon--ideally, in the central part of the state, where Bend is--please email me.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
If I Seem Standoffish
It's just that I am very busy, now that I have a full-time job and a class that I am teaching in the evenings and I am preparing to teach two history sections starting in mid-January. From famine to feast!
It would have been so much simpler if there had been a non-profit prepared to come up with health insurance so that I could have devoted my energies to public policy. Teaching would have brought in just enough money to cover the bills--as long as I had health insurance paid for by someone. But pretty obviously, the sort of stuff that I do doesn't fit into any non-profit organizations that exist.
Any Cell Phones That Light Up The Keyboard When You Flip Them Open?
My wife lost her cell phone in the snow today while trying to clear the driveway. The snowthrower "found it." It was no longer a cell phone after the augurs had finished spinning it and throwing it. She would like a cell phone that lights up the keypad as soon as you flip it open--instead of requiring you to hit keys to make anything light up. Suggestions? Nothing fancy--just a cell phone.
Global Warming Not Apparent Here
Bad snow--now something intermediate between snow and rain. Snow I could have gotten up the driveway. Rain, ditto. But this sleety mix no way.
Monday, December 14, 2009
JSP Is So Cool!
JSP=Java Server Pages. My new job involves programming JSP. Here's a really well done tutorial I found. The temptation to start programming in JSP in my spare time is very strong.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Just Had A Good Laugh
I'm preparing for my Western Civilization classes next semester. I'm thinking of using the CCR5Δ32/Black Death/HIV immunity hypothesis as an example of ancient history is more relevant than you might think. (While there is some serious controversy about whether the increase in the CCR5Δ32 mutation was caused by the Black Death, or some earlier horrible disease that burned through Europe, it is at least still a valid hypothesis, not yet disproved.)
So I'm reading an article from the Croatian Medical Journal: "Historic, Demographic, and
Genetic Evidence for Increased Population Frequencies of CCR5Δ32 Mutation in Croatian Island Isolates after Lethal 15th Century Epidemics." The English isn't perfect--there are a few typos here and there ("heard" where they meant "herd," for example)--but I did get a very good laugh on this, where they discuss these islands on the Dalmatian coast:
We included 10 villages from these 5 islands into the study. The selected villages were included in the research program (“10 001 Dalmatians”) on genetic regulation of biological quantitative traits distribution in isolated human populations (19,20,33-35).
Friday, December 11, 2009
A Downside of CFL Bulbs
I discovered when we first moved in, and tried using compact fluorescent light bulbs in our exterior fixtures that they didn't work, at least not reliably. I assumed at the time that it was because there were brightness levels to the fixtures. I now am told that CFLs don't work at low temperatures.
Some of the CFLs that we tried to use at the time outside, and which didn't do very well, went back into the storage cupboard. So I pulled two of them out to use in my overhead light fixture in the office--and they did not work at all. Neither did the other two. It appears that trying to use them outdoors may have permanently damaged them. I also not quite sure where to recycle them--they do have mercury in them.
I suppose that we better stockpile incandescent bulbs while they are still available, as replacements until the reign of environmental lunacy/rewards to the People's Republic ends.
UPDATE: A reader points me to this, which indicates that certain specialty incandescent bulbs will continue to be available. He also tells me that short cycling of CFLs (on and off, on and off) tends to kill them. This may explain what happened to the bulbs we tried to use outside. They were in motion detector light fixtures so they were on for several minutes and then off. Ironically, I specified these light fixtures for the new house to save energy and reduce light pollution.
UPDATE 2: Another reader reports:
We also soon discovered that their expected life for us is very short since we almost never leave a room without turning out the lights.That hasn't been my experience. I think that I have only replaced one CFL in the 3 1/2 years that we have lived in this house. But even that seems a bit short. Is it possible that CFLs only make sense for people that don't turn off the lights?Come to think of it; I see no reason to use them at all in our home.
P or I Fears?
The December 11, 2009 Washington Times has an opinion piece terribly concerned where McDonald v. Chicago could take us if the Court decides that the Bill of Rights is fully incorporated through the privileges or immunities clause of the 14th Amendment rather than the due process clause. Yes, they have reason to worry--but look at all the incredible stuff that the activists on the Court have already done through the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Is there anything that P or I would give the left that they haven't already "found" through Due Process? No.
Guns on Trains
Snowflakes in Hell mentions the continuing controversy about allowing passengers to check guns in luggage on Amtrak. You want to know how much the world has changed? See this 1955 I Love Lucy episode, where Lucy discovers that a jewelry salesman on the train from Los Angeles is carrying a gun. Make sure you go up to about 4:20 into this clip, so you can see Lucy and Ricky's discussion--and remember, this is what Hollywood was producing back then!
Enjoying My Last Weekday Of Freedom
Monday I start work full-time. While I am looking forward to starting work, I did enjoy the freedom of doing what I wanted for the last several months. What's really sad about this is that if not for the problem of health insurance, I could just about have about retired--in the sense that I was making enough money from writing that I really didn't need a job. The cost of health insurance--and the end of COBRA continuation coverage in April--is really what is driving me back to work.
Another Lawsuit In Need Of Quashing
Eric Scheie over at Classical Values points to a lawsuit that is a strong argument for "loser pays" rules:
I agree with Eric (who is a lawyer). How, exactly, could either the phone maker or the carrier have prevented this? Well, they could prevent phones from working while they are in motion...but that would mean that passengers couldn't use them, either.
In a case which I think epitomizes what is wrong with today's tort system, the daughter of a woman killed in an accident caused by a driver talking on a cell phone has sued Samsung (the phone manufacturer) and the wireless provider.She hopes to prove that the companies should have foreseen the dangers and that they failed to provide adequate warnings.I disagree with Professor Bamberger that it is a "compelling claim." I think it is a wholly frivolous claim, but the fact that it is considered compelling by a professor at one of the top law schools in the country illustrates a major problem with the legal system which needs to be addressed.
Legal experts said her lawsuit, currently the only such case and one of only a handful ever filed, faces steep challenges but also raises interesting questions about responsibility for behavior that is a threat to everyone on the road.
"This is a compelling type of legal claim," said Kenneth A. Bamberger, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. "It deals with the widespread use of a product we now know is involved in significant risk and deals with the ultimate question of who should contribute in minimizing the risk."
The lawsuit, filed in October, involves a crash in Oklahoma City on Sept. 3, 2008. Ms. Smith's mother, Linda Doyle, 61, died after her Toyota Rav4 was hit by a Ford pickup driven by Christopher Hill. Mr. Hill, then 20, told the police he was so distracted by a cellphone call that he ran a red light at 45 miles an hour, hitting Ms. Doyle's car as it crossed in front of him.
Mr. Hill was talking on a Samsung UpStage phone on the Sprint Nextel service. Samsung declined to comment. Sprint Nextel said that it "rejects the claims of negligence" in the suit and that it includes safety messages on packaging and user manuals, on its Web site and in its advertising.
Perhaps they could have made cellphones that required you to use two hands at once. But that would prevent disabled people from using cellphones--and with some of the incredibly stupid stunts that I have seen people doing while driving--I think the idiots that drive while on the phone would just have no hands on the wheel, instead of one. And you don't want to consider the ergonomics of a phone that required use of a hand and a foot to operate, do you?
All this talk about how the CRU "homogenized" the data to remove inconsistencies brought forward a comment from a reader. He pointed out that the data wasn't just homogenized; it was also pasteurized: heat was added until the data was completely sterile!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Proof That Democracy Has Its Flaws
I thought reasonably highly of W. He wasn't my first choice. I would have preferred a conservative. But he at least seemed to know that Austrians don't speak "Austrian," and his Secretary of State was fluent enough in Russian not to have screwed up the stupid "Reset" button gift.
Now I see that buyer's remorse for the Zero is beginning to set in. From the December 9, 2009 Politico:
Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that's somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country's difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited. The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President.I keep hoping that the fools who let CBS/NBC/ABC/CNN/George Soros do their thinking for them have learned a lesson. But I wouldn't count on that.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I Was Immediately Suspicious...
of this new History Channel series The People Speak because it had Matt Damon (the archetypal multimillionaire socialist) in it. Now I see that Howard Zinn is behind it.
Zinn has spent a lifetime teaching college students about the evils of capitalism, the promise of Marxism, and his version of American history – a history that has, in his view, been kept from students. His controversial 1980-book The People’s History of the United States paints traditional American history as a façade – one that has grotesquely immortalized flawed leaders and is based on principles that victimize the common man. In 2004, Zinn wrote a companion book entitled Voices Of A People’s History Of The United States, which includes speeches and writings from many of the people featured in The People’s History.Somewhere along the way, I ran into a copy of Zinn's People's History, and started reading it. I only managed to get a few pages in before I put it down. The combination of obvious deception and bias identified it as not a serious history book at all. It was a polemical account--and so polemical that when I hear that some schools have assigned it as a history text, I have to assume that the goal is give students an example of how not to write history. The alternative is that many history professors are so filled with rage at the capitalist system that they aren't capable of recognizing garbage when they see it.
It is most unfortunate that only the left seems to still have the money and will to make movies. There is an audience out there for well-done films that promote traditional values--and when they come out, they are often big money makers: Death Wish, Dirty Harry, Passion of the Christ.
A producer recently asked to see my screenplay, The Laws of Men, about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858. I don't know if anything will come of it, but it looks to me like a film that could be made for under a million dollars (especially if we used a bunch of unknown actors), and would be attractive to a number of different segments, if properly marketed: black audiences; the costume drama crowd; evangelical Christians (perhaps even using the same techniques pioneered with Passion of the Christ). We might even drag in a few liberals interested in the slavery angle. Once watching the film, we might get some of them to rethink their positions on several current issues where the parallels are so strong that the film doesn't have to bang them over the head to make the point.
Suns Behaving Badly
I've mentioned before that there is some question about whether solar cycle changes might explain some, most, or even all of the supposed global warming. As a direct effect, no, but one theory is that changes in solar output affect cosmic ray flux, which influences cloud formation-and so an indirect effect. (Look up the history of how cloud chambers were used for analyzing output from atom smashers.) This might explain the apparent warming on Mars and Neptune roughly coincident with Earth warming in recent years.
Over at Watts Up With That? there is a chart showing changes in solar geomagnetic activity that somewhat fits with the cooling that has apparently been underway the last few years.
Cold weather would seem to fit this change in behavior. That it was 9 degrees Fahrenheit when I drove down the mailbox this morning at 10:30 AM is, of course, just coincidence!
Raw Vs. Homogenized Data
Willis Eschenbach over at Watts Up With That? has a detailed examination of how the raw data from Australian temperature reporting stations was massaged. The raw data actually shows a substantial cooling over the last century. Eschenbach then explains the theory behind adjusting the raw data to correct for movement of weather stations, loss of data, etc.--and why CRU's "adjustments" seem arbitrary and intended more to fit what they wanted to find, than based on anything that qualifies as science. It's a long and detailed discussion which I am reluctant to quote in fragments. But go read it, and see why many people are more than a little skeptical that we're being told the truth.
Interstate Gun Purchases
From December 7, 2009 CBS News:
You can buy a car from an out-of-state dealer and pick it up there. You can buy a house in another part of the country, as speculators unwisely did during the real estate bubble, sight unseen. But even though the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms -- and presumably to buy them -- you can't purchase a handgun while you're visiting another state.This is an interesting question. When the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed, there was no central repository of information on criminal convictions, mental illness commitments, and other issues that might resolve the question of whether a person could legally buy a gun or not. I can somewhat see why it made sense to limit purchases of firearms to your home state, where presumably police could do a background check (if the state law required it). Today, we have a national background check system that can very quickly figure out if you are a prohibited person. The original justification of limiting purchases to your state of residence really don't make sense anymore.
A gun rights group has sued the Justice Department to overturn this prohibition, which became law as part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the case is now in front of U.S. District Judge James Robertson in Washington, D.C.
Narrowly speaking, the Second Amendment Foundation has filed the Hodgkins v. Holder suit on behalf of American citizens who live abroad and would like to buy firearms when they return for a visit (but can't because Form 4473 requires them to list what U.S. state they live in). More broadly, it could restore Americans' right to buy handguns while traveling across state lines as long as they undergo the normal federal background check.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Democrats Out Of Control & Out Of Depth
A while back, it was a Democrat comparing Republican opposition to the Democratic health care reform bill to the Holocaust; now it is Senator Reid comparing opposition to the health care reform bill to slavery. From the December 8, 2009 Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is renewing his demand that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid apologize for likening health care overhaul opponents to those who resisted putting an end to slavery.Senator Reid, since you are a Democrat, you probably didn't bother to learn history when you were in school. Here's a quick refresher for you.
The Nevada Democrat made the assertion in a statement Monday as the Senate worked on legislation to remake the health care system, President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.
1. Which political party was it that supported slavery? The Democrats.
2. Which political party attempted to limit the spread of slavery, and expressed its desire to see it abolished? The Republicans.
3. When Democrats sought to maintain the slave system, how did they do so? By passing a national law: the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
4. Who was it that argued that slaver
Palin and Obama Neck and Neck!
The December 8, 2009 Los Angeles Times has an amusing piece here about how Palin's approval rating is only one point behind Obama's approval rating in a recent CNN poll. Now, before you get too excited, and start asking for tickets to Palin's inaugural ball in January of 2013, remember that "approval" isn't the same as, "I'll vote for this person for President."
I think very highly of Palin, but I'm not sure that she's the best choice to be President. (Certainly better than Obama, but that's not a very high standard of comparison.) I would prefer someone with more executive experience, and more expertise in foreign affairs. However, Palin's integrity, intellectual consistency, and courage may end up outweighing her lack of experience and expertise. Our system of government right now is so fundamentally corrupted by money, sexual lust, and the desire for control over the lives of ordinary people, that almost anyone who might be better qualified than Palin is morally disqualified.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The Role of Oil Companies In Funding Climate Skepticism
Every time I point to the scientists like Professor Lindzen at MIT who are skeptical, I hear the claim that the oil companies and other fossil fuel firms are funding the climate skeptics--and therefore we don't have to listen to those scientists, or at least we don't have to take them seriously. So what a surprise! Guess who provided funding to the AGW crowd? From a July 5, 2000 email in the CRU dump:
From: "Mick Kelly"(Thanks to Watts Up With That? for the pointer.)
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 13:31:00 +0100
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Had a very good meeting with Shell yesterday. Only a minor part of the agenda, but I expect they will accept an invitation to act as a strategic partner and will contribute to a studentship fund though under certain conditions. I now have to wait for the top-level soundings at their end after the meeting to result in a response. We, however, have to discuss asap what a strategic partnership means, what a studentship fund is, etc, etc. By email? In person?
I hear that Shell's name came up at the TC meeting. I'm ccing this to Tim who I think was involved in that discussion so all concerned know not to make an independent approach at this stage without consulting me! I'm talking to Shell International's climate change team but this approach will do equally for the new foundation as it's only one step or so off Shell's equivalent of a board level. I do know a little about the Fdn and what kind of projects they are looking for. It could be relevant for the new building, incidentally, though opinions are mixed as to whether it's within the remit.
Mick Kelly Climatic Research Unit
University of East Anglia Norwich NR4 7TJ
Tel: 44-1603-592091 Fax: 44-1603-507784
There is a long history of corporations promoting governmental regulation ostensibly for the public good--but really, because they have figured out how to use regulation to injure smaller, less able or less connected competitors. See Gabriel Kolko's The Triumph of Conservatism for a detailed account of how Progressive Era federal regulation of business was, in almost every case, driven by Big Business interests for their own economic benefit, or to prevent more onerous state or local regulation.
It may be that fossil fuel companies bought into this stuff because they figured it was better to be in on it early, and try to manipulate the resulting process. Or perhaps they figured that, like some big companies, if you promote all the Politically Correct stuff, such as gay pride parades, then you get cover for abusing the rest of your workforce.
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Surprising How Recent These Laws Are
I had an inquiry from a political science professor about Colonial sodomy laws, and while digging through the Maryland records, I was startled to see how recent some of these laws are. These aren't all antiques left over from long ago. At Archives of Maryland 734:1530, you can see the session laws of 1976--which means that the Maryland legislature actually passed this law at that session:
Now, it is true that they were revising other parts of the criminal code with this session law--but no one seemed particularly concerned or troubled that they were again passing a law that criminalized homosexuality (and the actions, even then, of at least a sizable fraction of heterosexuals). It's amazing how fast our culture has changed in forty years.
[Every person convicted of the crime of sodomy shall
be sentenced to the penitentiary for not less than one
year nor more than ten years.]
[Every person who shall be convicted of taking into
his or her mouth the sexual organ of any other person or
animal, or who shall be convicted of placing his or her
sexual organ in the mouth of any other person or animal,
or who shall be convicted of committing any other
unnatural or perverted sexual practice with any other
person or animal, shall be fined not more than one
thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or be imprisoned in jail or
in the house of correction or in the penitentiary for a
period not exceeding ten years, or shall be both fined
and imprisoned within the limits above prescribed in the
discretion of the court.
Instapundit likes to say "I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis." And he links to articles like this one from the December 5, 2009 Telegraph:
On a normal day, Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen's biggest limousine company, says her firm has twelve vehicles on the road. During the "summit to save the world", which opens here tomorrow, she will have 200.And this article from the December 6, 2009 Digital Journal:
"We thought they were not going to have many cars, due to it being a climate convention," she says. "But it seems that somebody last week looked at the weather report."
Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. "We haven't got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand," she says. "We're having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden."
And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? "Five," says Ms Jorgensen. "The government has some alternative fuel cars but the rest will be petrol or diesel. We don't have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars. It makes no sense at all, but it's very Danish."
The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.
As well 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world leaders, the Danish capital will be blessed by the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Helena Christensen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prince Charles. A Republican US senator, Jim Inhofe, is jetting in at the head of an anti-climate-change "Truth Squad." The top hotels – all fully booked at £650 a night – are readying their Climate Convention menus of (no doubt sustainable) scallops, foie gras and sculpted caviar wedges.
For the delegates to the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, inconvenient truths abound. Not the least of which is the prediction that attendees will generate a carbon footprint equal to all of Morocco's for 2006.Look, I'm sure that many of the climate warming peasants really believe what the priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and even Pope Gore himself are saying about this. But doesn't it bother you that the clergy of the Church of Global Warming aren't prepared to live by the rules that they tell their parishioners to follow? When are you going to wake up, and realize that the "experts" going to these events are the equivalent of clergymen who preach about sexual purity--and then molest the altar boys?
In all, the UN estimates that the carbon footprint of the Carbonhagen Slummit should be roughly 40,584 tons of carbon-related emissions, or approximately the entire carbon output of the nation of Morocco for all of 2006. That comes out to 100,083.5 dead polar bears per 400kg of carbon emissions. Are there even that many polar bears on Planet Earth? Won't be by Wednesday! And all that's not even counting all the limos being driven to Carbonhagen from all over Europe, or all the CO2 about to be spewed by 16,500 blowhards.
When one Climate Slummit delegate was asked why they didn't just videoconference the whole thing for 'green' reasons, he replied that there was no substitute for personal contact. Or flying in style in private jets. Or riding in style in limos. Or the free prostitutes. Or caviar wedges you just can't eat through a TV screen. Actually, the delegate just mentioned the personal contact thing. I threw the rest in randomly because it seems to fit the template for Global Warming science itself, as exposed through ClimateGate. Just throw in whatever you see fit. Truth is not a factor. Just the outcome. In fact, the only thing I see missing from the big Carbonhagen Slummit picture are any of the 31,000 skeptical scientists. I'm sure it's just coincidence.
More GLSEN At Work
Just so you know what public schools in some parts of the country are teaching kids to do, here's some of what was discussed at a GLSEN event funded by the Massachusetts Department of Education in 2000 at which both students and teachers were being educated:
Woman: Question is: What's fisting?Isn't that what you want your middle schoolers to be learning? Isn't that what you want your tax dollars funding? And GLSEN's executive director now works for Obama. The whole collection of materials is pretty repulsive. If you want to do this sort of thing in the privacy of your home, fine, but I don't see why this is the government's job.
Man: A little known fact is that you don't make a fist like this. When they do it, it's like this. This is a lot easier than this. [laughter]
Woman: You work your way up to it… [unclear] one finger, two fingers, three fingers … Some people can take a hand, or they can't take a hand.
Woman teacher: Fisting is not forcing your hand into somebody's orifice or opening or hole or whatever you want to say if they don't want it there. So the first thing is usually relax [unclear] … It's not like you're doing any forced sex on anybody. It's usually [unclear, and chatter] … two consenting adults … it's two consenting adults, and you work your way up to it.… [unclear] you can put one finger … two fingers, three fingers … Some people can take a hand, or they can't take a hand.
Some people don't want to go that far … It's all a very intense and [unclear] experience and not an abusive or rough [unclear] kind of experience… Some people do want pain and I'm not cutting that down, but that's typically not why people do that.
When In Doubt, Lower The Standards
Mensa accepts SAT scores above a certain level as meeting their intelligence test score requirements. Before 9/30/74, a combined verbal and math score above 1300; from 9/30/74 to 1/31/94, 1250. After 1/31/94: not acceptable. Strictly speaking, the SAT was not an intelligence test. In practice, there was such a strong correlation between high SAT scores and being two standard deviations above the norm in intelligence that Mensa regarded SAT scores as an adequate proxy. So why did they stop using SAT scores after 1/31/94?
These tests no longer correlate with an IQ test. Note that the acceptance date applies to the date you took the test, not the date you join Mensa. You can still join Mensa by using older scores.I recently had occasion to talk to someone who runs an SAT/ACT tutorial center. She explained that the SAT Verbal test no longer uses analogies. You remember those analogies, like this example:
|BANDAGE : BLOOD ::|
|(A)||cable : bridge|
|(B)||cast : injury|
|(C)||fort : army|
|(D)||dam : river|
|(E)||pacemaker : heart|
Anyway, I notice that the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is also abandoning analogy questions. From the December 7, 2009 Inside Higher Education:
Some of the key differences ETS plans for the new GRE are the following:
- Test takers using the computer version of the test (who represent the vast majority of test takers in the United States and Western nations) will be able to move around among questions within sections, skipping a question and coming back later or revising an answer before finishing a section. In the current version, a test taker must give a final answer to a question before getting the next question. This is a shift that was not planned in the aborted 2007 launch and is likely to be popular with test takers.
- The scoring system for the verbal and quantitative sections of the test will be revised to be on scales of 130-170, with score increments of one point. This replaces scales of 200-800, with score increments of 10 points. (The writing test's 1-6 scale will not change.)
- The section of antonyms and analogies in the verbal section will be removed, with more reading comprehension added....
- A calculator will be provided so that mathematics answers will be based on test-takers' comprehension of concepts and not their speed at basic calculations.
Why is it so important to keep lowering the standards? I fear that yesterday's post about Idiocracy is already coming true.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
A Couple of Surprising Movies
I caught the latter 2/3 of a made for TV movie called Homeland Security (2004) and the first fifteen minutes of another movie called Idiocracy (2006).
What surprised me about Homeland Security is how positively it presented a fictionalized account of the events immediately after 9/11, the struggles to create the new Homeland Security Department, and the efforts of military and intelligence personnel to do their jobs. The CIA agents and soldiers in Afghanistan are heroic but plausible characters; so are the FBI agents.
At the same time, there are portrayals of some of the real ugliness that took place after 9/11. Muslims are arrested on suspicion of al-Qaeda association who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jailers are portrayed doing what a few actually did--mistreated some of those arrested in the first few days after the attacks, when emotions were running strong. The complexity of trying to figure out what dangers were real, and which what were not, while lacking the clock-ticking excitement of 24, is probably more realistic.
My guess is that Homeland Security was intended as a TV series pilot--which would not be a bad idea, considering what a raging success 24 was in the weeks after 9/11. But I am guessing that by 2004, when this was shown on TV, NBC had already figured out that defeating Bush in the interests of gay marriage and abortion was more important than defeating al-Qaeda.
Idiocracy seems to have enjoyed a very, very short theatrical release. It is obviously based on Cyril Kornbluth's 1951 story "The Marching Morons." In that story, a man from the present (well, actually, 1988) is accidentally put into a state of hibernation. When he comes to, in the distant future, because intelligent people have limited their breeding, and stupid people have not, the average IQ has fallen precipitously--and the relatively small number of really intelligent people are trying to keep the system from collapsing.
Kornbluth's story was a well-done cautionary tale, part of a long tradition of concern about the less capable outbreeding the more capable, in the tradition of Malthus, and late 19th century Social Darwinists. Idiocracy actually opens with considerable potential, as it shows us two couples, the first of which is two standard deviations above the norm discussing on camera why they haven't had kids yet...but they will, real soon. Then we see a below average (in this case, about one standard deviation below the norm) intelligence couple who are like something out of a Jerry Springer television show about trailer trash.
Over the next few years, the smart couple keeps making excuses until their marriage falls apart, and she talks about waiting for the right man to come along. The trailer trash are breeding like cockroaches, with an family tree expanding at a prodigious rate (and sometimes, in ways that remind me of the joke that used to be said about Appalachia, where family trees don't branch).
It's not a fair or accurate portrayal of either; this is a comedy, remember. The fact is that a lot of smart people do actually reproduce, and some reproduce quite effectively! At the same time, there are a lot of people of subnormal intelligence who would be hard to distinguish in their morals or tastes from members from many members of the intellectual elite. You can also find some pretty smart people who are profoundly sleazy.
What makes Idiocracy really quite an inspired piece of work is the clever portrayal of the decline of the intelligence of the human race. The scene where a nurse tries to check Sgt. Bauers in at the hospital will make you think of the cash registers at fast food places. But part of how it shows this decline, which is only subtly implied in Kornbluth's story, is by how it portrays the degradation of the language, entertainment, and moral values of the population. As an example, we see the sign of a Fuddrucker's hamburger chain slowly change its letters over the centuries, to something that rhymes, but I won't repeat, and in fact, even on Comedy Central, they fuzzed out of the second part of the sign. The entertainment of the masses in this idiocratic future is crude and vulgar--but think of the most vulgar movie comedies of today, and then aim them down a bit more, and you get the general idea. It's an accurate extrapolation of where our society seems to be heading--but it is necessarily quite vulgar and crude. Kornbluth's story at least had the advantage that it could tell you without showing you:
A glowing sign said: MOOGS! WOULD YOU BUY IT FOR A QUARTER? He didn't know what Moogs was or were; the illustration showed an incredibly proportioned girl, 99.9 percent naked, writhing passionately in animated full color.I fear that this comment over at IMDB about the movie might be close to the truth of why the movie didn't last in theaters, in spite of having a moderately well-known star in it, Luke Wilson:
I had a disturbing thought about why this movie might have done so poorly in test audiences. I'm trying to say this in a nice PC way, but ... could it be that a lot of people who saw it in test audiences (and a lot of people who might see it on DVD or cable now) might not find the movie funny and/or don't get it might be - shall we say - like the people in the film?A frightening thought: we may already be part of the way to the world of "The Marching Morons"--and Idiocracy could have failed for that reason.
I don't mean so much that they're necessarily that unintelligent in terms of inherent ability. I'm thinking more that maybe in terms of learned behavior they really are that coarse and that crude. So making fun of that kind of behavior really is not entertainment to them.
Take for example, the scene in the beginning where the narrator says that people think it sounds "faggy" when anyone speaks in proper English. Sad to say, I have come in contact with people who upon hearing that would probably say something like, "Yeah ... of course people who talk like that sound faggy. Where's the joke here?"
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I Guess This Theory Is Dead
I mentioned a while back that Hawaii has a procedure for issuing birth certificates to people born outside Hawaii, but legally adopted in Hawaii--and suggested that perhaps this is the reason the long-form birth certificate hasn't been exposed. I see now that Hawaii actually has regulations on the issuance of birth certificates for the foreign born that requires the birth certificate to clearly state country of birth.
The question still remains: why is Obama so intent on keeping that long-form birth certificate hidden--enough so that it is worth having a bunch of very high priced lawyers fighting this matter out in the courts at probably $500 per hour. Since he seems to have been born in Hawaii, it almost certainly isn't a question of whether he is legally qualified to be President of the United States. I'm guessing that there is something terribly embarrassing on the long-form that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep hidden.
For Those Who Think Homosexuality Is An Alternative Lifestyle
Gateway Pundit has a detailed report on the books that GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) recommends that schools offer to kids. GLSEN is the organization that Kevin Jennings used to run before Obama gave him an appointment as the "Safe Schools Czar." The books that GLSEN promotes to schools are explicit pedophile pornography--as the excerpts will demonstrate. To call these excerpts disgusting doesn't even begin to describe it--many readers will be nauseated, angry, and filled with rage seeing what one of Obama's advisors thinks is appropriate for kids.
To put it bluntly, GLSEN's book recommendations alone demonstrate that pedophilia and homosexuality are closely allied. Many homosexuals are not pedophiles--but GLSEN clearly sees these as kindred movements.
Not surprisingly, there has been a cyberattack on Gateway Pundit because homosexual activists really don't want Americans to know what depravity and evil GLSEN and similar homosexual advocacy groups are trying to put onto our kids.
A Courageous Editorial
At least in San Francisco. In most of America, this wouldn't even be an issue. From the December 2, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle:
Public sex tents? Now there's an idea that should have been shot down the second it was announced from the mouth of a member of the "leather community" in response to complaints about public sex at Folsom Street Fair and its smaller sibling fair, Up Your Alley.San Francisco is such a sick and disgusting place. Let me emphasize: there's a reason that San Francisco city government tolerates this behavior in public places. They aren't doing this because 1% of 1% of the population is sick and depraved. It's a lot bigger fraction of the population that finds this acceptable.Instead, it appears that at least one of our local leaders (Supervisor Bevan Dufty) has agreed to take the matter "under advisement." Since our local leaders are having trouble speaking the obvious, we will: Public sex is not appropriate at Folsom Street Fair or anywhere else. Even in San Francisco.
Public sex isn't just lewd, it's illegal under state law. San Francisco officials and police have historically given the fairs broad leeway to self-police bawdy behavior, but that should have been revoked the moment that citizens complained. Instead, people are giving serious thought to ways to make the streets safe for public sex and unsafe for public decency.
Enough. This is a quality-of-life issue that should have been tackled years ago. Local leaders need to stop clowning around and insist that everyone obey the law.
The comments are pretty indicative of the state of San Francisco culture:
Why doesn't the author of this editorial just find a nice safe mall to go to on Folsom Day? If sex tents are not your thing, you can choose to not go into one. I think moral outrage and the impulse to send the police in to facilitate one's control-freaky intolerance for that which one can simply and easily opt-out of is FAR MORE DESTRUCTIVE to society than public sex.. or sex in a tent. STAY AT HOME AND FAINT ON YOUR OWN DAMN COUCH, YOU VICTORIAN CONTROL FREAK PRUDE!and:
How is this a "quality of life" issue? Those who object to witnessing sexual behavior in public certainly don't have to go. Who are the complainers? I'll give some latitude to the people who live there and are impacted, though SOMETHING is gonna impact you in every neighborhood. It is a city, after all. But most of the complainers don't live in the neighborhood -- many don't even live in the City. Why is it a bad idea to use tents to hide the behavior from people who don't wanna watch?
Really?? This is folsom street. Of course guys and girls str8 and gay are going to be having sex in public. It is an erotic leather festival. And for the people who live on the street and complain.. dude.. what were you thinking moving to Folsom street?! This is what folsom street is all about and has always been about. You don't really have the right to complain. If you wanted to live in suburbia you should have moved there. Let folsom street be folsom street.and:
Grow up. If you don't like it, DON'T GO. Now one "runs" into the Folsom Street Fair by mistake. We all know what it is, what it does, and what a wonderful freedom it is. I'm a married man who has not caught "the gay" yet thank God (though I wash my hands a lot), but this is about personal freedoms. If you can't handle either avoiding the Fair, ignoring the Fair or going to and enjoying the Fair, then pack up your stuff, leave SF and move east, they are more like you there. You can all be stuffy together. Or maybe you would like to move to a country where they kill people with "the gay"?and:
All I can look forward to is when I'm 60, I'm the "old conservative" one, and everyone younger than me doesn't even remember Prop 8, Civil Rights movement, JFK, Bobby, King, Milk and why on earth we ever kept down other humans when there are all these aliens and robots around to abuse.
Why are Americans so hung up on sex? It is just sex. What if we all went to small booths and ate alone only to go later to large fecaltoriums to sit on toilets with friends and love ones to share share our bowel movements. More openness. If you don't like it don't look.My favorite sensible comment was:
It's very difficult to take people seriously when they claim to want homosexuality to be an officially approved and socially sanctioned form of relationship equal to heterosexual relationships while at the same time supporting disgusting and disease-spreading public sex events either explicitly or by silence and lack of condemnation.
Gay advocacy groups need to do more to promote traditional values among the gay community if they want acceptance into traditional values! Condemning public promiscuous AIDS/STD-spreading sex would be a big step forward, but I suspect that they'll never do it because the real reason for trying to legalize gay marriage in their eyes is to offend and get some sort of "revenge" on anyone who doesn't approve of homosexuality.
Sarah Palin's Going Rogue
I'm only part of the way through this book at the moment. There are some rather amusing moments in it. One in particular brings back memories of when my wife delivered our daughter, and she described the first serious contraction as feeling like a horse had stepped on her belly. I told my middle sister about this, and her response was, "Oh, no. It doesn't feel anywhere near that good."
As a result, I had a good laugh over Gov. Palin's description of childbirth. Her husband was working on the North Slope at the time--858 miles away--and she ended up at her parents' home just before going into labor.
I had set up camp there for the night, trying to find comfort while ignoring Dad's attempt at humor: "I'm sticking close to home for the next few days," he told a buddy on the phone. "Sarah's ready to calve."
I was quite a cocky young mom-to-be. I'd gone through the requisite childbirth class (we were going to use the Lamaze method), and, being an athlete used to pain, I figured, How tough could giving birth be?
Oh. My. Gosh. I thought I was going to die. In fact, I began to pray that I would die.
A laserlike searing rolled through me in waves, from my knees to my belly button. Had any woman ever hurt this much? I didn't think so. I gritted my teeth and willed myself not to scream.
All through my perfect, healthy pregnancy, I had pictured this peaceful Earth Mother birth experience, the lights low in the delivery room, maybe even some of that nature-sound music playing in the background. Like a pioneer woman, I would bravely deliver our firstborn, Todd beaming beside me, with the Alaska wilderness waiting outside to welcome our son, the newest addition to Nature's grand march of creatures great and small.
Instead, by the time the nurses got me prepped, I was sweating and painting, trying to do those infernal breathing techniques, when what I really wanted to do was scream bloody murder and beg for drugs. Blessed Mother of Jesus, I finally got them!
The delivery room was chaos: the doctor and nurses bustling around; Todd and my mom saying sweet, soothing, irritating things; my mother-in-law angling for a better shot with a video camera that I cursed every time she aimed it. [pp. 51-52]
International Year of Astronomy Posters
The year 2009 is the "International Year of Astronomy" commemorating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of the newly invented telescope to look up at the sky. There's an interesting collection of posters created for the various dark sky national parks here. This one for Chaco Culture National Historic Park I find especially attractive:
Words You Don't Often Hear in Songs
If you are old enough, you remember when Helen Reddy recorded "I Am Woman." If you were a mushy-brained liberal in your youth (as I was, to some extent), it was a powerful anthem about the importance of getting beyond sexism. I heard "I Am Woman" yesterday afternoon, and I was struck by how incredibly self-important it sounds now (perhaps because there's no longer any question about this)--and then I found myself saying, "Did she just rhyme 'embryo' with 'go'?" Sure enough?
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Adjustable Rate Mortgages
I just received my annual rate adjustment notification, and for the second year in a row, my payment is dropping. We started out with a $1298 mortgage payment; then it dropped to $1134; now it is about to drop (starting February 1) to $1044.
It would be nice to think to think that it is going to drop more, but that's not realistic. The interest rate is one month LIBOR + 2.75, and even though the one month LIBOR yesterday was .255% (even a bit below what it was when this adjustment happened), I think it most unlikely that the one month LIBOR is going to zero.
At some point, either the economy is going to recover, or serious inflation problems are going to happen, and my mortgage will start rising again. But there's a limit to how much it can rise each year, and I think for at least the next two or three years, the increase will be pretty minor. The good news is that all of the increase will be interest, which is deductible on Schedule A. This means that every dollar of increase in my mortgage payment will be, net taxes, only about a $0.65 increase.
Of course, it also means that the amount of interest I'm paying now is less, so I get less tax advantage--but even once I start work for the State of Idaho, I'm not going to be in that high of a tax bracket.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Those White House Party Crashers...
As an email I received pointed out, there was no reason to be upset. They weren't party crashers--they were "undocumented guests."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Maybe This Is Just Clumsy Writing
It's a June 24, 2003 email from the CRU archive:
From: "Mick Kelly"Why would you need money to cover the costs of a trip that wasn't made? And the concern that NOAA (that's a U.S. government agency) might become "suspicious" certainly has a whiff of something improper going on.
To: Nguyen Huu Ninh (email@example.com)
Subject: NOAA funding
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 14:17:15 +0000
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
NOAA want to give us more money for the El Nino work with IGCN.
How much do we have left from the last budget? I reckon most has been spent but we need to show some left to cover the costs of the trip Roger didn't make and also the fees/equipment/computer money we haven't spent otherwise NOAA will be suspicious.
Politically this money may have to go through Simon's institute but there overhead rate is high so maybe not!
Mick [emphasis added]
UPDATE: A reader suggests that the NOAA funding might have been specifically for certain categories of activities, and CRU had used the money as some general purpose funding. That's a very easy mistake to make, and perhaps indicative of careless accounting as opposed to intentional fraud.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I Really Want To Discount This Claim
Red Ink: Texas prints an email he received from a passenger aboard the flight that was reported as being delayed-for 2 1/2 hours--because one passenger would not get off his cell phone. The email by someone who claimed to be aboard indicates what sounds like some sort of either dry run, or an attempt to provoke a reaction like the flying imams used to file a lawsuit.
I was in 1st class coming home. 11 Muslim men got on the plane in full attire. 2 sat in 1st class and the rest peppered themselves throughout the plane all the way to the back. As the plan taxied to the runway the stewardesses gave the safety spiel we are all so familiar with. At that time, one of the men got on his cell and called one of his companions in the back and proceeded to talk on the phone in Arabic very loudly and very aggressively. This took the 1st stewardess out of the picture for she repeatedly told the man that cell phones were not permitted at the time. He ignored her as if she was not there.I really want to believe that the final outcome of this--the 11 troublemakers taken off the plane, then allowed back on--and the entire flight crew had to be replaced, because they wouldn't fly the plane--is some outrageous fabrication. But watching the way that everyone bent over backwards to make Dr. Hasan's actions into anything but what they obviously were--I just don't trust our government to be looking out for the interests of the people anymore. Especially because this account by another person who was there largely confirms the email.
The 2nd man who answered the phone did the same and this took out the 2 stewardess. In the back of the plane at this time, 2 younger Muslims, one in the back, isle, and one in front of him, window, began to show footage of a porno they had taped the night before, and were very loud about it. Now….they are only permitted to do this prior to Jihad. If a Muslim man goes into a strip club, he has to view the woman via mirror with his back to her. (don’t ask me….I don’t make the rules, but I’ve studied) The 3rd stewardess informed them that they were not to have electronic devices on at this time. To which one of the men said “shut up infidel dog!” She went to take the camcorder and he began to scream in her face in Arabic. At that exact moment, all 11 of them got up and started to walk the cabin.
A Surprising But Pleasing Victory
New York State Senate overwhelmingly rejects gay marriage. From the December 3, 2009 Washington Post:
NEW YORK -- Opponents of gay marriage celebrated a decisive vote in the New York State Senate, where a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage was defeated 38 to 24 on Wednesday.
The unexpectedly wide margin was delivered in a relatively liberal state where the other chamber of the legislature has thrice approved the measure and the governor, David A. Paterson, had been poised to sign it into law. The vote prompted pronouncements that the momentum for gay marriage had been not only halted, but also effectively reversed. Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and, most recently, New Hampshire, where it goes into effect Jan. 1.