Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Links

Bacteria like space.

The Minneapolis of southeast Asia.

Ambisinistral's and Skookumchuk's piracy and maritime links.

The end of the space station before it even begins?

How they deal with protesters in Burma.

The 50 best stocks in the world.

Where vehicles are left to die.

Western civilization continues to poke its head into every corner.

Oliver Sacks speaks.

A maglev railway outside of China.

What US cities used to look like.

Moebius transformations revealed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Picture Vote

Stung to the quick by recent criticism of my choice of pictures, I decided to get a "sense of the house". Please take a look at the pictures below and use the comments to cast your vote(s) for which one we should use in tomorrow's (Sunday's) links. None of these will be used, but I want to get a general feeling for preferences and why. We appreciate your cooperation in this arduous task.








Gore Dodges Repeated Calls to Debate Global Warming

From TCS Daily:

"[F]ormer Vice President Al Gore, the most prominent proponent of the theory of the human-induced, catastrophic global warming, continues to refuse repeated challenges to debate the issue.

"Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: 'Global Warming Is Not a Crisis.'"

‘Warming’ alarmists must be held to higher standard

From a couple of Canadians, an engineer and a science adviser:

"Most of those grabbing the spotlight have little or no post-secondary training in science or technology, let alone climate change."

"Among qualified researchers, there is an intense debate raging about the causes of the past century’s modest warming."

"Considering what’s at stake — either the end of civilization, if you believe extremists, or a waste of hundreds of billions of dollars in one of the biggest science news scandals of all time — society must start to hold “warmers” to a far higher standard."

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Clocks, clocks, clocks and more clocks!

Man, slip up once and post a cuckoo clock (note the correct Swiss spelling this time) instead of a grrrl picture, and this is what you end up having to put up with. Anyhoo... for those fond of clocks, here are a bunch of weird clock links:

klockwerks - eccentric hand-made time pieces by Roger Wood.

Top Ten Strangest Clocks
complied by Tech Blog. The Drill Sargent clock pictured in this post is a runner up, so you can imagine the winners.

Some very clever Photoshopped Clocks.

For the carpenters amongst us, make a wooden clock.

A site, with a video, explaining how a pendulum clock works.

The Longitude Prize.

Bah, who cares about these new fangled mechanical contraptions, the home page of the North American Sundial Association.

Everybody, even Wingnuts, like clocks.

Friday Links

Software radio.

Simpson's movie scenes.

Happiness is a warm electrode.

Mashups for the masses.

Birth of a sunspot. 6 days are shown.

Faces in places.

10 brilliant free movies online.

Parallel universes may be the right answer after all. Original paper, for the extremely intrepid.

Is this the dawning of the age of solar panels.

Norway doubts NATO reliability.

Introducing snoopr deals.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weekly Links

Wonderful old maps brought back to digital life.

Finally! A place to rat out your neighbors.

The velociraptor had feathers.

11 free language courses now online.

Cat whiskers for humans.

Introducing lomography.

Real live pirates are still plying their trade for fun and profit.

Online photography tools.

Introducing Scriblink.

6 long-distance bike trails without cars.

On the verge of an epic bear market?

Beautiful kleptoplasty.

A critical view of software plus services.

Were the Hobbits of 18,000 years ago a distinct species?

Convicted Felon & Disbarred Attorney to teach ethics at Hofstra

Rick Moran at American Thinker reports that Hofstra Law School has invited convicted felon and disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart to speak about legal ethics on October 16.

The law school's press release makes no mention of Stewart's felony conviction for conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. She was sentenced to 28 months in prison.

Stewart's website shows no remorse for her criminal acts.

Felony conviction brings automatic disbarment for New York attorneys.

The New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association should weigh in on this matter and provide strong advice for Hofstra that it's not an acceptable practice for felons to be teaching ethics.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I blame it on the booze

"I put these bars on my windows, but still,
the next thing I knew I had a baboon in my living room."

Like my mother used to say, "Spare the rod and spoil the ape."

Achieving Irrelevance

I can remember times when the business press would fill with speculation as to the possibility of a strike by the UAW. Paragraph after paragraph on page upon page would explore the potential ramifications of an auto strike. Which automaker would the UAW select as a target? Would the economy slide into a recession due to the strike? How would the target company fare if the strike was of any duration?

Of course, when the UAW hit it's peak membership of 1.5 million in 1969, it represented over 2% of the entire workforce, whereas today it has managed to shrink to less than 500,000 members and now represents less than one-third of a per cent of the workforce. Calling 73,000 out on strike just doesn't have much fearful resonance in an economy which has added workers at a rate of well over 100,000 per month for years.

Gettlefinger is caught between that old rock and a very hard place. He's reduced to a pathetic "job security" plea as a result of Reuther's heavy handed tactics going back to the '50's. He has made no inroads worth mention in terms of organizing the Japanese plants and calling a strike that won't put an additional nickel in any worker's pocket is unlikely to help organizers in the future. Why in the world would Toyota workers (who receive regular production performance based raises) want anything to do with a union which is succeeding only at self euthanasia?

One might wonder how long this strike would last if Ford locked out in support of GM. The union cancer will eventually kill both of them unless it's excised and Ford has that nice 18 billion in debt that it raised a year ago - why not use it to to cut out the tumor?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Links

The day of Dr. McCoy draws ever nearer: detecting cancer with lasers without drawing blood.

But will it still be banned in Singapore?

The growing threat of private stock exchanges.

The weave mirror.

The 50 worst cars of all time.

Play to the death.

Swarmbots in action.

The other NRA.

What if Google were evil?

Farewell to Robert Jordan.

Quantum computing and Shor's algorithm. This is a highly technical albeit useful link. It was recently announced that quantum computers able to run Shor's algorithm have become available. This means that standard cryptography (e.g., used by banks) will be crackable very shortly. Expect the NSA, the People's Republic Army, and the Russian Mafia to be all over this.

À la recherche du temps perdu

WSJ, May 7, 2007

At Lonely Iraq Outpost, GIs Stay as Hope Fades

By Greg Jaffe
Word Count: 3,114

TARMIYAH, Iraq -- For U.S. troops, just walking a simple foot patrol through this small, trash-strewn city 30 miles north of Baghdad has become unthinkable.

If the Americans spend longer than 10 minutes in one place, a sniper will track them down and begin shooting.

"It is getting to the point where we really can't interact with the people," says Lt. Cody Wallace, executive officer of the unit that patrols the city. Even the local police chief who oversees the area that includes Tarmiyah refuses to set foot in the town.

Blackanthem Military News,
Sept 23, 2007
1,200 Tarmiyah citizens vow to fight al-Qaeda
By Multi-National Division - North PAO
Sep 22, 2007 - 1:54:57 PM

Blackanthem Military News TAJI, Iraq - More than 1,200 Iraqi males from in and around Tarmiyah stood in line for hours to join Iraqi Security Forces, local sheiks and Coalition Forces in the fight against al-Qaeda and other insurgent militias in Tarmiyah Sept. 12.

Local sheiks and CF from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment reached out to the Iraqi people, asking the citizens of the small town of Tarmiyah to volunteer to defend their homes and neighborhoods against the terrorist insurgency in their town.

This concept of the people standing against al-Qaeda and other insurgents has been dubbed an "awakening," or the mental realization that the terrorists offer nothing but fear and injustice.

"We really see now how this movement, this awakening movement, has really started to take off," said Lt. Col. William Prior, commander, 4-9th IN. "Just a flicker at first, it's turned into a full-fledged flame, not just here in Tarmiyah, but also in other parts of my area."

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Rigid Scholarship on Male Sexuality - "Gender studies, for all its trafficking with porn and pop, too often paints a bleak, condescending picture of ordinary human life. Alternate views (even from among dissident feminists) are not considered or evidently even imagined. When any field becomes a closed circle, the result is groupthink and cant. The stultifying clichés of gender studies must end. But in the meantime, all faculty members should vow, through their own scholarly idealism rather than by external coercion, not to impose their political or sexual ideology on impressionable students, who deserve better."

Oh boy I like this idea. "HOW TO SABOTAGE AHMADINEJAD: Have some scantily-clad coed run up and give him a kiss. Make sure photos are distributed in Iran."

"Sea ice around Antarctica has seen unusual winter expansions recently, and this week is near a record high."

To quote the New York Times, but you won't find it until the very last sentence of this article.

Gotta Love a Paragraph Like This

Print Story - network: "If you can manage to read Klein, you need read no more. Learn her way of thinking and you'll not be required to think again. She delivers a packaged one-size-fits-all theory of history that shares just one attribute with Marxism: When you have absorbed Klein you will in future always know the answer before you know the question."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Listen up, young man!

Should you happen to be lucky enough to meet the young lady highlighted in the post immediately below this one, have the good sense to invite her for dinner and then cook her this delicious recipe. Have a bottle or two of riesling chilled. Just do it. You'll thank me.

Friday Links

It's time for search censorship.

Life without the FDIC.

20 amazing optical illusions.

Is honey the secret of youth?

The best single-book intros for laymen.

The 20 most popular sites for bargain hunters.

New hope for an AIDS vaccine.

6 rules to help learn a foreign language.

Man-made global cooling.

A real-life romantic tale.

Number theory for programmers.

The art of self-promotion.

The better gasoline engine.

The interesting example of Belgium |

The interesting example of Belgium | "One hundred and three days after their general election, life goes on in Belgium. People go to work, they meet their friends, the beer is world class, the food is good, folks go about life as they always have. And there is still no government. Hopefully the country will provide an inspirational example to the rest of the EU and split under the pressure caused by increasing Flemish unwillingness to pay the parasitic leftists who dominate Wallonia. Of course things might get messy but more likely it will be a velvet divorce... but the really interesting thing for me is that society and the economy continues to function just fine without any active government at all. No new laws, no cabinet meetings, and yet somehow the sky has not caved in and the world keeps turning."

The New Atlantis - Devaluing Science - Jonathan H. Adler

The New Atlantis - Devaluing Science - Jonathan H. Adler: "In his new book, The Honest Broker, University of Colorado political scientist Roger A. Pielke, Jr. worries that the debate over The Skeptical Environmentalist is emblematic of a “pathological” politicization of science in public policy today. What was framed as a debate over “sound science” was really a proxy battle over environmental policy, with most participants “focused on the advantages or disadvantages the book putatively lent to opposing political perspectives.” For example, Scientific American published a series of broadsides against Lomborg under the heading “Science Defends Itself from The Skeptical Environmentalist”; that title would have been more accurate, Pielke observes, had it read “Our political perspective defends itself against the political agenda of The Skeptical Environmentalist”—but then “it would have carried with it far less authority than masking politics with the cloth of science.”"

OG, Mims, etc --- "I like a boy"

Boy oh boy are they in trouble.

Update: Sorry, folks, I thought everyone would recognize ObamaGirl.

Knit Me a Teratoma

Talented, smart, and cute too. Sigh.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Steve Martin-Ballmer

The Sense of the Senate

Just so we know exactly what the amendment said.


(a) Findings.–The Senate makes the following findings:

(1) The Senate unanimously confirmed General David H. Petraeus as Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, by a vote of 81-0 on January 26, 2007.

(2) General Petraeus graduated first in his class at the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

(3) General Petraeus earned Masters of Public Administration and Doctoral degrees in international relations from Princeton University.

(4) General Petraeus has served multiple combat tours in Iraq, including command of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during combat operations throughout the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which tours included both major combat operations and subsequent stability and support operations.

(5) General Petraeus supervised the development and crafting of the United States Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual based in large measure on his combat experience in Iraq, scholarly study, and other professional experiences.

(6) General Petraeus has taken a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

(7) During his 35-year career, General Petraeus has amassed a distinguished and unvarnished record of military service to the United States as recognized by his receipt of a Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Superior Service Medals, four Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, the State Department Superior Honor Award, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, and other awards and medals.

(8) A recent attack through a full-page advertisement in the New York Times by the liberal activist group,, impugns the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.

(b) Sense of Senate.–It is the sense of the Senate–

(1) to reaffirm its support for all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, including General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq;

(2) to strongly condemn any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces; and

(3) to specifically repudiate the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group


Has anyone else noticed that pump prices aren't tracking the futures prices? Usually, pump prices move up in matched lockstep (down, for some reason, has a little lag). I found this explanation:
But the real drive behind the rally, many analysts said, is an influx of speculative "nontraditional" capital into energy commodities. And that inflow increases when the dollar falls.
rather unpersuasive. Commodity futures have transaction costs and uncertainty levels that make them unlikely havens for those who frighten easily. Unless I match it to this rant, which includes this illustrative paragraph:
In the Boston Tea Party, patriots dumped tea into the ocean rather than pay the taxes imposed by a distant king. On the NYMEX, they dumped 117M barrels that were scheduled to be delivered to the American people - BARRELS YOU ALREADY PAID FOR AT THE PUMP - in order to create a bogus shortage so you can pay record high oil prices to a distant sheik.

This isn’t just criminal behavior - it’s TREASONOUS!

Perhaps it's a rigged game that "everyone" has just discovered? I could admit to the possibility that someone frightened by a falling dollar might flee to the safety of a game which he presumes to be rigged. In which case there will be some very sad faces when the music stops, as it inevitably will, leaving a rather significant shortage of seats for those whose ears are not attuned to the abrupt cessation.

Another alternative involves wide knowledge that the Israeli raid on Syria was actually just a test of the new Russian provided air defense system. The one that is supposedly identical to that which the mullahs have emplaced as a ward against the US doing site preparation work for major reconstruction projects all over Iran.

I'm sure there are other, more reasonable scenarios, but the thought of major site preparation work in Iran remains a fond hope.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CBS May Have A Real Fight On It's Hands

Dan Rather's suit is a serious effort. It is a detailed, narrative, advocacy pleading. It is not just a shot over CBS's bow. It is interesting and in my view, well written.

Rather's attorneys are established and respected. The New York Office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (Scott Turow's firm, and a major national firm). The Complaint is signed by a senior partner, Martin R. Gold, who is a distinguished litigator with 47 years of experience, a mid-level partner, Edward J. Reich who has practiced since 1991, and a junior associate, Rebecca Hughes Parker a Harvard Columbia lawyer who has been out of law school for three years. The case appears to me to be appropriately staffed for a long battle, difficult battle along the lines of Westmoreland v. CBS.

I would take this matter seriously were I CBS's General Counsel. I believe eventually, all of the Defendants should have separate counsel. That will be expensive.

Aggregate attorneys fees and expenses for all parties in this case could easily exceed $10 Million. This not a WAG, but is based on my experience litigating this kind of case in New York City.

At the turn of this century (that sounds funny, doesn't it?), I had a case there somewhat less complex than this one but without the emotional baggage. Our firm had run up $1.0mm worth of time and $.5mm expenses by the time it settled. We staffed with two lawyers, not three. As part of the excellent settlement, we recovered all of our fees and expenses. That is partially because, I am confident, our opponent, (defended by a national firm comparable to Sonnenschein which staffed with three attorneys, not two) spent nearly twice what we spent. Another factor was that their lawyers' rates were at NYC prices which are significantly higher than those in Atlanta.

It would be interesting to know whether Sonnenschein has it on a contingent fee or a modified contingent fee based on result. That would tell us more about their view of the chances of successs than the pleadings.

Wanna Outsmart Most Harvard Students?

Turns out, it ain't hard at all.

In fact, it's so easy that it's a bit worrisome.

contentions » archive

contentions » archive: "—an angry, far-left, antiwar group—views the modern Democratic Party and its leadership as its cat’s-paw, and there’s little reason to dispute this judgment. The problem for many Democrats is that a Great Unmasking is taking place. For one thing, it’s difficult to say they oppose the war but support the troops when they train their fire on the commanding general of the troops, whose main transgression appears to be that he’s helping America succeed in an epic struggle against radical Islam."

Weekly Links

20 tools to remove the junk from your PC.

China and Russia spying on the US at nearly cold war levels.

The real problem with cheap Chinese imports.

Why those rebates never arrive.

Will oil superspike? Or worse?

A new way to fight the housing downturn.

A new solar-powered plane makes a new record flight, flying through two consecutive nights.

How can a turned-off iPhone rack up a bill of $4,800?

40 free Windows applications.

Can an ugly, fast-growing, poisonous weed be the solution to our fuel problems?

Why there are worse problems beyond rainbow attacks and what to do about them.

The Inglehart-Wetzel cultural map.

Pee on your batteries.

Russia's new superbomb.

The 10 most polluted places.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blast from the past

Recently, while digging through the clutter of my office, I discovered a CD that I had bought somewhere but had never opened. It was by an Afrobeat/Jazz group called Antibalas. As you might suspect from the name of the album, Liberation Afrobeat Vol I, and a visit to their MySpace site, they are of the sort of squishy far left that so many musicians embrace. Still, I enjoyed the other album of their's I owned, and besides -- how much politics could get mixed into saxophones honking away?

I put it on and was quite enjoying it when halfway through when one of the band members did a spoken introduction to a song called World War Four. The name surprised me because I've always associated the abominable notion that the Cold War was somehow equivalent to the horrors of either WWI or WWII with Conservatives rather than far-left jazz poofters. Anyways, he bumbled through an explanation that the reason why nobody noticed WWIII was because the capitalistic Merchants of Death had gotten so good at slaughtering folk that nobody noticed WWIII.

Erm... ok.

After that warm-up he rambled on about Mexican Indians being oppressed, Africans being oppressed, Chileans being oppressed, and so forth until he reached the United States. He then chastised the War Criminal occupying the White House. Bracing for the usual Chimpy Bu$hitler bit, I nearly spit coffee all over my monitor when that War Criminal turned out to be none other than Bill Clinton. Man, that CD sat in that pile for longer than I thought. Amazingly, it wasn't even War Criminal Clinton who bombed Serbia, it was the earlier War Criminal Clinton who enforced the Iraq no-fly zone that had this fellow worked into a lather.

Well, what of them now, after the Twin Towers came down and Saddam's mass graves of brown-skinned folks came to light? A quote from an NPR review, "Brooklyn's Antibalas makes intensely rhythmic music that blends jazz, funk, dub and traditional West African drumming with political messages for an intense but party-friendly sound."

A party-friendly politcal sound? How quaint. It must be World War Five we're into by now.

Black Knightian Swan Risk Management

The market reacted to the Feds half point cut rather vociferously today. Don't those traders read the horrible news about the foreclosure rates? What kind of irrational exuberance cheers the market when we all know that the record foreclosure rates of August will surely be surpassed in September and October and... well, who knows?

The House rose to the bait with even more alacrity than did Bernanke, tossing in $300 million in low income grants - undoubtedly 'for the children'. I can understand members of the House having difficulty understanding the concept of 'moral hazard'. After all, neither dead girls nor live boys are involved. Bernanke is another matter. 'No pain' bailouts draw additional risky behavior as a light draws moths. The Fed really isn't supposed to be so easily suckered and they might have waited for at least one big lender to go down the tubes before wading in.

I would have to imagine that the clever lads who came up with the concept of the 'no doc' mortgage are already working on another clever scheme. That one will undoubtedly be the 'real' Black Swan.

Or not.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Paying the Danegeld

Wretchard offers a precis concerning what I have long considered to be an accurate view of the actuality of the violent arm of islam. I was particularly struck by this:
Thinking of al-Qaeda as a religion like Buddhism will take one down the wrong path. It's easier to understand it as a gang, with territories, local bosses, rackets, internal rivalries, and a secret culture which requires you to be "made". Al-Qaeda is in fact linked to gangs. It operates an actual narcotics trade in Afghanistan. It performs contract hits on behalf of clients and subcontracts hits to independent operators. It does everything gangs do and very little that religions, as we know it, undertake.
Although Wretchard is focusing upon Al Queada, he could have used the PLO or Hamas or Hezbollah in the same manner that the Camorra, Ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita and Mafia are interchangeable regarding intent. The common element is pecuniary gain for the leadership based upon extortion backed by the threat of violence (as opposed to the threat of disclosure).

It appears that the Shiite sheiks are as amenable as their Sunni cousins to the grant of autonomy within their fiefdoms backed by the money "necessary" to convert their gangs of hoodlums into recognized militia. The Iraqi government is paying off the sheiks in Anbaristan to the tune of $120 million, what will the Shia sheiks require to provide "peace"? After all, the oil fields lie within the area which they "protect".

I have some reservations concerning the adoption of "Gaza/West Bank - The Model" as a means "forward" in Iraq. Paying the Danegeld never really got rid of the Danes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Links

Russian bombers in NATO airspace.

40 unusual web sites.

Segway crime-fighting.

Are relational databases obsolete?

Wheat would have been your best bet.

The Volvo plugin hybrid unveiled. Maybe competition can start to drive the prices down to the point that these beasts make economic sense.

The cheap way to get your Matrix cravings satisfied.

The 7 habits of highly ineffective people.

The knucklehead's guide to Jpeg compression.

The Soviet doomsday device is still armed and ready and run by a 1970's vintage computer.

Microsoft announces Linux support of Silverlight (Mac support previously announced).

The art of burning man.

Live nukes over America.

Chinese hackers get into British departments too.

Chavez buys rifles with night vision and pantomimes shooting US servicemen and women.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Man, those press folk just keep getting weirder

In the John Sayles movie Brother from Another Planet there is a scene where two alien Men in Black enter a bar in Harlem. Trying to casually blend in they order beer on the rocks and end up making complete spectacles of themselves with their bizarre behavior. When they leave, one of the patrons turns to another and delivers one of my all-time favorite movie lines, "Man, those white folk just keep getting weirder."

I thought about that movie line when I read the headline to the article US forces kill 14 Qaeda suspects in Iraq. As with the Men in Black, the article got stranger. Below is a sample:

Four suspected Al-Qaeda operatives were killed when they lobbed grenades and opened fire on coalition forces...

Suspected? The brief little article is littered with that qualifier "suspected". I'm surprised the "suspected operatives" weren't chucking "suspected" grenades.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq identifies itself as Al-Qaeda, so why even bother? Try as hard as I can, I can't imagine an old article blathering on about "suspected" Nazis manning a pillbox on Normandy or "suspected" Chinese Communists pouring across the Yalu River in 1950.

I don't know, either a police beat writer from Des Moines got a new job, or that little article is one of the odder pieces of press obfuscation I've seen yet.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Thousand Words Worth

Paunch Sulzberger has taken the Times into waters unvisited since January '97. There aren't many CEO's who are allowed to stay at the helm during the transformation of their mighty ship into a puny submarine. Losing more than 62% of a large public companies value is reserved to only those companies owned by families which are too dumb (or too cowed) to make an obviously necessary change. The Sulzberger family richly deserves the reduction in value of their holdings and it can only be hoped that they are obstinate enough to allow Panch to complete the total destruction.

Go get 'em, Ponch, you're definitely the right man for the job.

Friday Links

A forest the size of Sweden obliterated.

Subprime woes by state.

Why the violin is hard to play.

50 tips for frugal living.

Flight to quality in financial markets.

Running away with the Internet.

Wages rising in China.

Capitalism without financial failure is socialism for the rich.

13 steps to buying a car.

Lucky Imaging takes better images of stars than Hubble, but does it from the Earth. There is a good explanation here.

Eric's favorite math jokes.

Grow your own heart valves.

Hotel prices compared.

Top 10 back-to-school tools for the organized student.

Why myths persist.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Medicine yields insights into global warming research

Yes, the article is about medical research, but I suspect much of it also applies to global warming.

Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. "People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual," Dr. Ioannidis said.

In the U. S., research is a $55-billion-a-year enterprise that stakes its credibility on the reliability of evidence and the work of Dr. Ioannidis strikes a raw nerve. In fact, his 2005 essay "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" remains the most downloaded technical paper that the journal PLoS Medicine has ever published.

H/T: Hot Air

Coming To Your Neighborhood?

How would you like to have purchased a home in this development last year and wake up to this in the morning paper. Hovnanian is a major US builder, certainly in the top ten. This type of 'inventory clearance' is practically unheard of among major builder/developers because of its negative impact on people who have recently purchased. Who in their right mind would ever buy in another new development in which Hovnanian was involved? He's sure creating some less than happy little communities. Most residential real estate downturns involve the bankruptcy of at least one major builder. None have gone under in this downturn to date but I've got a new favorite in the race to Chapter 11.

As an aside - Hovnanian is offering the sleeves from his vest to people biting on the "Deal of a Century". Hard construction cost on that model identified did not exceed $215,000 and the developed lot hard cost was less than $75,000. He's eating soft costs and holding costs and that's it.

It appears that Countrywide has secured another $12 billion before next weeks Fed meeting and mortgage originations are up a few ticks while rates have dropped. We're two weeks into The Great 2007 Walk Away and so far, so good.

'Course, that's what the fella who jumped off a twenty story building said as he passed the tenth floor.

Wisdom from the Linux Kernel Summit

Linux Weekly News reports from the developer relations session at the Kernel summit. A subscription is needed to view the article, but the following comment from James Bottomley (scsi subsystem) caught my eye.
Flaming and generally unpleasant behavior remain a problem in the kernel community. Whenever one developer flames another - for something trivial like whitespace violations or something more substantial - he sets an example for others. The original developer may feel justified in the flaming by being "right," but those who follow may be less right while being just as inflammatory. The result is flaming by people who have never considered sending in a kernel patch. We are, says James, attracting idiots to our community by our behavior.
"We are, says James, attracting idiots to our community by our behavior." Ah, how true that can be in bloggerdom, the examples of HuffPo and DKos come to mind. Those venues that also offer ratings systems encourage something similar in that posts can be toasted with a simple mouse click on a button. Sometimes the online world looks like an alternative school for dunces.

Yay, I coined a word

at Beldar's place. (See the comments.)

The Day of Infamy, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

Steve McIntyre has another post up documenting Dr. Hansen's dedication to the maintenance of consensus regarding global warming. The unraveling of the spaghetti Fortran code that Hansen finally released continues apace in other threads at Climate Audit.

If a publicly owned corporation tried this with information presented in a prospectus they would incur some rather lengthy visits from the FBI followed by very serious discussions with a US attorney. Dr. Hansen is not building confidence with these maneuvers.

Weekly Links

Artificial life within a decade?

The first sneak-peak Zune 2 photos.

Mapping the collective unconscious: introducing Wikirage.

200,000 elliptical galaxies can't all be wrong.

Better Power Point charts.

Learning on the Internet.

Ford fashion.

Twenty-first century holdups.

Free stock photos.

How to be the perfect girlfriend.

Introducing Flickriver.

20 bizarre experiments.

Genetically engineered cells seem to cure Alzheimer's Disease in rats.

Roger Simon's Sgt. Mom's books.

The world's most productive country.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Surge Report

The Copperheads political objective in passing the law requiring a mandatory report to Congress by Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus was based upon the "situation in Iraq" as of late winter, early spring. Copperhead leadership was convinced that the situation would continue to deteriorate as it had over the preceding 12 months with continuing (or increasing) violence and that the September report would provide ammunition with which to club Republicans for the entire year leading up to the elections in 2008. The rather dull witted Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, went so far as to publicly brag about polling results from Chuck Schumer that predicted a certain Copperhead advantage and seat gain if only the war could be shown to be irretrievably lost.

That sums up the Copperhead bet.

Unbeknownst to the stalwart losers who passed the legislation on May 25, rental agreements had already been reached with many of the Anbar sheiks who had heretofore been responsible (by giving shelter and sustenance to AQ terrorists, at minimum) for a good portion of the violence. The sheiks marked the end of their accord with their AQ "honored guests" by betraying them with customary Bedouin alacrity. Col. Dave Kilcullen provides a rather detailed description of the manner in which the subornation was achieved. The crux of the rental agreement involved money (what a surprise). Just as important, a grant of autonomy in raising and maintaining security forces which would have the same "regional guard" status as the Peshmerga hold in Kurdistan was made concurrent with furnishing the money.

By the time all the 'surge' troops were in place in June, the Anbar sheiks (with quite a bit of American help) had driven their former AQ guests up towards Baqubah - where Michael Yon picked up the story of the American drive to leave AQ no resting place in Iraq.

Per the Copperhead mandate, an Initial Benchmark Report was issued on July 15. It was reported that 7 of the 18 benchmarks to be achieved by the Iraqi government had been reached. The Iraqi legislature, following firmly in the incompetent footsteps of their American counterparts, adjourned for vacation the first week of August and have done nothing, precisely like their American counterparts since returning. The September Report therefore bears an uncanny resemblance to the July Initial Benchmark Report.

Had the Copperheads left it at the two written reports, they could now be crowing about "no progress" and "all is lost" in order to pacify their Moveon moron base. Instead, always looking for an opportunity to gain political advantage through useless posturing, they 'required' that Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus deliver the dreadful news of defeat to a horrified nation. Instead, General Petraeus' delivered a sober report detailing achievements that the Copperheads had considered impossible to achieve when they initiated the circus.

I found this:
Iraqi leaders understandably want to assume greater sovereignty in their country, although, as they recently announced, they do desire continued presence of coalition forces in Iraq in 2008 under a new UN Security Council Resolution and, following that, they want to negotiate a long term security agreement with the United States and other nations.
from the report to be especially intriguing. A defense pact with Iraq will cause sleepless nights to muslim tyrants from the Hindu Kush to the Magreb for as long as it endures.

The Copperhead strategy of defeat is now in tatters and a clear split of the Blue Dog faction is very possible. Why would the Blue Dog first termers tie themselves to defeatists as the '08 elections near? They can't maintain a moderate facade and vote along with the socialist Progressive Caucus which is the true Copperhead core within their party.

IMO, this may have been the best political stroke made by the President since taking office. He could have hardballed this garbage legislation through veto or by simply ignoring the mandate. The Legislature does not actually possess the Constitutional authority to mandate much of anything from the Executive. Instead of fighting with them, he just shoved more than they could swallow right down their throats.

Long may they choke.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Future History

A friend of mine has a series on his notions of a future history running on his blog. It's very interesting, and I thik it's liable to challenge a lot of people who normally read YARGB. (I'm not sure how much I agree with it myself; an awful lot of it looks, well, not surprising enough to me. But that's the fun of it.)

In any case, it's worth a look.

Michael Totten reports on Ramadi

Stabbing the Hydra

Great article, a must read. Go there. An Iraqi kid made the picture. Iraqi's have a reputation for artistic talent and it looks to be so.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Links

The black hole of the Internet.

An introspective robot can teach itself to walk.

7 rules for understanding people.

Introducing Tribler.

Protect your network with nmap.

Top 10 reasons why web startups fail.

A method for finding purpose in life.

Store unlimited files for free.

24 tips for becoming an early riser.

The flying cars of your dreams.

10 ways to speed up Vista. Rumor has it that service pack 1 is very helpful in this regard.

HP's first mass-market Linux PC released.

Do women blog more than men?

One species's genome discovered inside another's. This rather upsets the applecart of the conventional view of how evolution works.

7 abandoned urban wonders of the modern world.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Weekly Links

30 ways to transform your career.

The GPhone cometh.

A do-it-yourself long-distance laser listening device.

As Tesla predicted, wireless power is coming.

Beware the Storm Worm!

A free linear algebra textbook.

The effect of the one-child policy on the elderly.

Mercury pollution-detecting fleabots.

Is a kiss still a kiss?

Russia plans its own moonbase.

The rain of a young starsystem.

Storing data on single atoms.

Up-and-coming social networking sites.

Inside the Googleplex.

The Chinese military hacked into the Pentagon earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Watching Pakistan

I hope you all are keeping an eye on Pakistan. A while back I predicted that the country was likely to descend into civil war and recent events confirm me in that opinion. The main question I have at this point is whether there will be a revolution, either through a coup or large scale rebellion, or whether there will be a war between ethnic groups and/or geographic areas, and/or city and countryside. I don't know nearly enough about the country to make a guess on that score. But one thing I do know: Musharraf's temporizing will not buy him peace, nor will it gain him much time. If he hopes to put together a coalition of resistance he better hurry, not least because his apparent vacillation and weakness is going to repel potential supporters and encourage a split in the Army.

Karma and Dogma

Ever play pool?

Even if not, you've certainly seen it. Fascinating game, honestly; click! and the cue ball drives a colored ball forward; click! and that ball hits another. In some ways, it's even more fascinating to watch it backwards, because then all the elements of choice are taken out. You know how the game ended, and now you can see clearly that every position of every ball, at every moment, was completely determined by what came before.

I was thinking about this last year, just after Christmas. Saddam Hussein was about to be executed; Jerry Ford had just died. The coincidence made me think about karma.

Karma is much misunderstood in the West: people have learned to use it as a synonym for "fate" or "predestination". A New-Age person may say "it must been karma". George Harrison wrote about "instant karma gonna get you". Someone responds to a misfortune saying "ooh, bad karma, man!" But karma isn't "fate" — it's cause and effect. There's no need for a mysterious fate, for Gods of Karma to decide your punishments and rewards for your bad or good deeds — it's like billiards. Each ball goes to its next position, determined by what happened before: that's karma.

So there I sat, comparing two lives. Saddam was under guard, and about to be hanged, his death a moment to celebrate for millions of people: karma. Jerry Ford, dying in his bed, surrounded by family: also karma. Both of them at exactly the point to which, looking backwards, events in their lives had led them.

After Ford died, there was the usual retrospective. One of the aspects of this, at least in the world of conservative thought, were recollections of the 1976 election. It's a little unnerving to realize that this was thirty years ago — it was the first campaign I was really active in (I was a Ford delegate to the Colorado GOP Convention, and yes, we got our butts handed to us by Reagan.) Colorado notwithstanding, Ford did eventually win the nomination — and then lost the election to Jimmy Carter.

According to these retrospectives, when Reagan lost the nomination, the "true conservatives" sat out the election. Ford actually lost the election by only a few thousand votes that turned a few states with relatively large electoral vote counts. Ten thousand votes, in a couple of states, would have meant Ford, not Carter, in 1976.

Hear the click? The cue ball striking the three, perhaps?

After that, of course, Carter took office. Many things happened: the Shah fell, the Islamic Republic rose in Iran. The Revolutionary Guard stormed the US Embassy; fifty-odd hostages were taken; the US made an abortive, and utterly unsuccessful, rescue attempt (and a number of other, less publicized, rescues were actually completed.)

At the end of the Carter Administration, there was a violent, radical, and committed Islamist theocracy in Iran.

Another click? The three striking the thirteen, let's say.

A little while later, the Iranian-funded Hisbul'lah murdered 250 American troops in Lebanon with a suicide bomb. For whatever reasons, the Reagan Administration withdrew from Lebanon. (Click!) Iran and Iraq came to be at war, and the decision was made that, since there was no way for them both to lose, Iran — a radical, committed, determined, committed, and unshakably anti-American Islamist theocracy — couldn't be allowed to win. So the US held its nose and helped Saddam, rather than see Iran in control of the Straits of Hormuz and half the worlds oil.

Another shot, another click as the cue strikes the thirteen, which in turn strikes the seven.

Reagan's second term, and the Iran-Iraq War, ended, along with the Soviet Union and many other things. Saddam, figuring he'd been the winner (he was still alive, wasn't he?) and thinking he had rather more of a carte blanche than he really did, invaded Kuwait. (Click!)

George H. W. Bush says "read my lips!" and then reneges in a compromise deal with a Democrat Congress. George Mitchell and Tip O'Neill hail Bush for his statesmanship, bravery, and independence — for about twenty minutes, and then use "read my lips!" against him for the rest of the campaign.

Conservatives are pissed. Pat Buchanan starts an insurrection from the Right, and Ross Perot comes into the election (more clicks: Bush and Buchanan never got along, Perot hated Bush for reasons of his own.) Perot starts out looking like a conservative, then morphs into Marvin the Martian, but pulls conservative, down-home, populists along with him. Buchanan loses the GOP nomination; the "true conservatives", still angry at the new taxes compromise — or, as they see it, betrayal — either sit out the election, or vote for Perot.

And Clinton wins a bare plurality in a three-way election.

In eight years, the size of the US military is reduced by half, as Clinton and Gingrich compete to use the Peace Dividend. In the mean time, the World Trade Center is bombed by Islamists the first time; two Embassies are blown up in Africa; a US warship is attacked; hundreds of Americans die. Finally, a few months after George W Bush takes office, a concerted joint attack takes down the World Trace Center, a wing of the Pentagon, and is just a few heroes away from destroying either the Capitol or the White House.

See what I mean, about karma? Certainly no one of the "true conservatives" who sat out the 1976 election because they thought Ford was "too liberal" thought the result would be the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of radical state Islamism — but it followed, and there is good reason to think it was a consequence. Nor did conservatives who sat out 1992 plan to see the military decimated, and multiple attacks effectively go unanswered. But the election went to Clinton, and that's the way the balls fell.

Now, we've had another election, and the "true conservatives", angry with No Child Left behind and immigration, sat it out; control of both houses of Congress turned. The same "true conservatives" are talking about the desirability of sitting out the next election.


[Update: Thanks, Glenn!]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday Links

Further economic illiteracy at the NYT.

Advertising dollars are moving online.

Phillip K. Dick redux.

Is there anything good about men?

Drug-testing the whole city.

Have a free online statistics book, using the "R" language.

Free music. No downloads.

Hard drives without moving parts—at your local store in 2008.

The ten habits of highly effective brains.

Martian soil may be showing signs of life.

Software to recover scratched DVDs and CDs.

How to buy cheap first-class airline tickets.

99 mind-mapping resources.

The basics of information theory.

A life in pictures.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Impressions of Redmond—Part I

For each place I have lived in the US, September is a beautiful month. Redmond is no different. The fruit is literally dropping off the vines on the trail behind my house. The fish are jumping and the weather is fine. So far, it's clearly the best place to live in the United States that I have ever come across. Cool summers with lots of trees and lots of green, lots of lakes and oceans and lots of mountains.

Pluses. This place really has it all. Mountains, ocean, volcanoes, earthquakes, ferry rides, concerts, cutting-edge music scene, great bookstores, great coffee, great seafood.

Minuses. Traffic is horrendous. It is really really hard to get practically anywhere during the day. Mass-transit is limited to buses. Prices are significantly higher here than in Boulder. It appears that I have just taken a sudden 25% cut in pay.

All in all, it feels like a weird mix between Colorado and Florida. Ocean and rain forest with occasional snow and mountains. I'll keep updating in coming days.