Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday Links

Nano art.

Two "jesuitical" liars for the price of one.

Statistically, Ballmer's a bad dealmaker.

The new global food emergency.

Mining the cognitive surplus.

McCain sees the way forward for Republicans.

Does making money trump fundamental ideals?

Hyperrealism is the new photorealism.

Is Obama the new Carter?

The Seventies-ization of our culture continues.

Feed your Prius, starve a peasant?

The unstoppable force that was Dallas.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Yoiks! It's all in the database. The BBC has some sort of extortionate fee they slap on anybody who owns a TV to fund their programming. Above is an ad which is a threat that they'll hunt down any proles who are trying to duck paying that fee. I think the truly disgusting thing about it is that its makers probably understood just how totalitarian it looks.

BTW, the answer to the equation in my title is "whatever Big Brother wants it to be". Remember that in case you're ever caught in England without a properly licensed boob tube, or you might end up hauled off to Room 101 to get a rat cage strapped onto your noggin.

HT: Biased BBC

Picture du Jour

Monday, April 28, 2008

2, 3, 6, 36

I won't go through the full train of thought that led me to the following couple of paragraphs from Profiles In Courage except to note that until this week I'd not looked through David McCullough's John Adams, the biography that provided the basis for the recently-concluded HBO series of the same name, because, based on a couple of reviews, I'd concluded that I wouldn't agree with it in important respects about which I hold informed, at least in my view, opinions. This remained my view even after I read and enjoyed the same author's 1776.

I did borrow a copy of John Adams from the library this week because I was curious as to why certain scenes in the final two episodes dealing with the subject's term as President and his last 26 years were dramatized as they were. While skimming using the helpful index, I came upon one sentence with which I'm in complete agreement: In a magnificient portrait by [John Singleton] Copley done in London a year later, he might be the beau ideal of the time.

This is that magnificent portrait of John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy's first profile in courage...

...and these are the two paragraphs which sum up my main point of political disagreement with McCullough and a number of the contributors to this blog (though it may be a surprise to them) through the years:

Even after the death of the elder Adams, John Quincy maintained touching loyalty to his father's memory. Reading in Jefferson's works the letters written by the later more than thirty-five years earlier when his father and Jefferson had been political rivals (although their early friendship was later revived), he could still work himself into a rage at what he regarded as Jefferson's perfidy. "His treatment of my father," Adams wrote in his diary, "was double-dealing, treacherous and false beyond all toleration." John Quincy did not comprehend, after a lifetime in the thick of it, how our complicated Federal system of checks and balances operated; nor did he realize that what he regarded as Jefferson's "machinations" was merely a facet of the latter's genius applied with success to the art and science of Government.

The failure of John Quincy Adams to recognize the political facts of life first became apparent during his years in the Senate, years which were neither the most productive of his life nor those in which his contribution was especially significant. Yet his single term in the United States Senate gives us a clear insight into the fate of a man who brought to the public service notable faculties, a respected name and a singular ambition for the right. His experience illustrates as does almost none other that even this extraordinary equipment is not enough to succeed in American political life.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Links

The 50 best cult books.

Where's the rice?

Donald Knuth speaks.

29 Soviet posters.

Hardy Heron released.

Microbes making biofuels.

Watching your brain to predict when you will go wrong.

30 electric car startups.

How Gate 14 sees the world.

Nanoparticles heal.

Let 'em have computers and the next thing you know they're blogging.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BHO Decries the Red Witch's "Tit for Tat" Politics - High Road or Subliminal Sexist Comment?

Here is a quote from BHO's stump speech, courtesy of a Slate April 19 article by John Dickerson:

"She's got the kitchen sink flying, the china flying. The buffet is coming at me … when we get involved in the constant distractions, the petty tit-for-tat politics … that may be good for the television ratings, but that's not good for you."

This phrase is apparently used over and over by BHO. I heard the last one tonight in his speech today in North Carolina.

The point is that this the above quote is not a mere slip of the tongue or phrase pulled out of his head extemporaneously.

My question of all YARGBRs:

Is this an embedded sexist comment aimed at the only female in the Presidential race, or a run of the mill adjectival phrase so common as to be innocuous?

Or to put it a bit differently, if the Red Witch were to accuse BHO of being "niggardly" in giving attention to the needs of blue collar, European American ethnic voters, would the BHO camp jump on those remarks as "racist"?

The Pennsylvania Results

Early this morning, Althouse highlighted a John Judis analysis of last night's Pennsylvania results.

Judis' article analyzes the demographics of the Pennsylvania results. He confirms the problems the Democrats are facing which led me to ponder the possibility of a Clinton center-left third party campaign.

The demographics in Pennsylvania are similar to those which led Lieberman to run as a third party candidate after losing to the netroots' chosen candidate.

Whether this translates to a viable national approach remains to be seen. The question is how the Red Witch and her supporters view the matter.

Wednesday Links

The end of the End of History—the rise of the new autocracies.

Scanners that see through clothes.

Can he fix your soul?

Ho hum—dull jobs do dull the mind after all.

Benevolence in business?

The end of Russian space tourism.

"It's the spring-time, and the gators are jumpin'".

It will take a village to shake her off.

60% British Britain and half German?

Armchair warriors bravely battle carbon emissions.

The race margin.

Eating breakfast cereal instead of aborting your daughters.

"Three hundred thousand dead in Darfur-O."

Gas prices deconstructed.

Introducing flaptor.

Leaving Greenpeace.

Latent semantic analysis, in Python.

Are cheerleaders cricket?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is The Red Witch the Next Bull Moose?

I had a funny feeling today. The other night I commented somewhere that RW is the "toughest" candidate the Dems have put up for the nomination since LBJ.

Thinking about it more, Bobby Kennedy in 1968 may have been as tough. But Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Hart, Dukakis, Jackson, Bradley, BJ Clinton, Gore, Dean, Kerry, Edwards, Dodd, Biden? Please. Name one tougher than Hillarity.

In the past several weeks, she has shown resilience, guile, stamina, and sheer grit. When it looks like she's on the mat, she keeps coming back over and over like the inflatable BoBo The Clown with the sand on the bottom.

Will she quit? I wonder. She doesn't seem to be worried about dissing Obama with talking points that will surely be clipped by the GOP in the general election.

She reminds me of no one more than Teddy Roosevelt in the 1912 election. His former VP, William Howard Taft had already had one term behind him. Nonetheless, Teddy was very unhappy out of the spotlight he had continuously enjoyed for nearly 15 years. He ran against Taft for the GOP nomination and lost.

Undeterred, he started the Bull Moose Party and ran against Taft and Wilson. The result(from Wiki, because it was easy to find and I think is accurate)?

Roosevelt succeeded in defeating the conservative Taft with his progressive message that along with Wilson's progressive program totaled 69% of the popular vote. He did win 4.1 million votes (27%), compared to Taft's 3.5 million (23%). However, Wilson's 6.3 million votes (42%) were enough to garner 435 electoral votes. Roosevelt came in second with 88 electoral votes (more than any third party candidate before or since); Pennsylvania was his only Eastern state; in the Midwest he carried Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota; in the West, California and Washington; in the South, he did not win any states.

Were RW to lose to Obama, she might think she could beat McCain for the conservative/middle/whitefeminist/midleft and isolate Obama on the left. She could take it with 38-40% of the vote, or move it into the House, where she probably would prevail.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Links

Bill livin' large off the taxpayers.

Declining Russian oil?

Trade is not your enemy.


Old black holes flaring up again.

Using computers to write books.

The capital of the Komi Republic.

Trade is the only hope for the "bitter" Midwesterners.

Turning on a thunderstorm with lasers.

The rich are paying more than ever.

Waiting for the Big One.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Obama Said

The real problem with what Obama said is that it’s basically untrue. In southwestern Pennsylvania, religion, hunting, and insularity predate the post-industrial era. They’ve have become politically manipulable points in part because of economic decline, but to confuse wedge issues with traditional values is the mark of the high-minded reformer or the political junkie, or both. It’s the kind of mistake one could make only from a great distance, once those voters had become almost entirely abstract—and, again, no one wants to be an abstraction.

This expresses it well. The Democratic mindset that people only hunt or go to church because they are poor is both astonishingly fatuous and rather nauseating. At heart it is a Marxist-style belief that the only thing that matters in the world is money and that everything follows from money. That belief is not unique to Marxists—it seems to be commonly held in Boca Raton and Marin County—but it is in reality puerile and anti-intellectual. Where such spiritually empty money-grubbing disguised as concern for the poor leads can be seen starkly in the case of America's Taliban.

Who's Minding the Store?

In my view, almost everything we have seen in this campaign from any of the candidates is garbage. The outlandish promises, prevarications, and outright lies only seem to grow bolder from year to year. Social Security broken? Don't worry! A new era of government will fix all, while it lowers the federal deficit, increases America's standing in the world, brings millions out of poverty, and spends trillions on new free health care for all. Isn't it wonderful?

Yet the engineer in me continually asks, how? How can we fix Social Security? What is the proposal? Will it work? How can we provide free health care for all? With what money? Will doctors suddenly work for less upon the election of a Democrat? How will we get out of Iraq without the deaths of millions on our bloody hands? Yes, there are a lot of rust-bucket people who are out of work or underemployed. But how are we going to help them exactly? We have indeed sunk into a "two-culture" state in which glib politically minded personable lawyers are not expected to have the least idea of what makes things actually work—I guess that's all to be left to the nerds.

Here's how Victor Davis Hanson expresses it:
So far we haven't heard specific workable proposals from the candidates about how exactly they would solve energy dependence, soaring food prices, illegal immigration or outdated farm subsidies.

There has been no new solution offered about the looming Social Security crack-up. Few candidates have expressed novel ideas of stopping staggering deficits or bulking up a sinking dollar -- much less exactly the sacrifices necessary on all our parts to restore American financial solvency. No one has offered a better way of dealing with an ascendant but lawless China, an unhinged Iran or the ongoing war against Islamic extremism.

In 2008, everything and everyone has fallen victim to a nasty campaign -- except America's nastiest problems.

Yep, that's it. Not a word about how to solve our real problems, which seem to be gathering apace like ominous thunderheads on the horizon, unnoticed by nearly all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday Links

Top scientists admit to illegal drug abuse for cognitive enhancement.

Online tools for getting organized.

The new national pastime.

Glamorous stewardesses of yesteryear.

The secret cyberattacks on the US military step up in pace.


The annual botnet census.

Introducing Thinking Rock.

Aluminum nanonclusters for high-temperature superconductivity.

Top 10 banned films of the Twentieth Century.

The mysterious case of the deadly sound waves.

The new masters of the universe.

Please 'splain this, Lucy

It was a sunny and fabulous Wednesday morning. Everything was as it should be. The Babe crossed her legs and bobbed her slipper clad foot and said, "We gotta go, it's getting late." I gave her a wink and a pat knowing she was a happy girl. I know stuff like that.

So I tossed on some sweats and headed for the back door, my first outdoor activities of the day planned well in advance. First and third Wednesday mornings of the month are easy - put the recylables to the curb, take the mutt for her walk, wing it from there. I grabbed the plastic remains of last night's lovefest and headed for the recycling can, popped it open and.... empty!

WTF! OK, wrong can. Popped the other one open and... empty! Looked at the little, blue bin. There were, I remember well, four water bottles were in there... Empty!

I headed back into the hacienda. "Yo, Babe... I know you love me and nobody takes bricks off the load like you. Whadjado wit da 'cyclables?"

"They're right out there, Sweetiepie, I dinnt do nuttin' 'em."

"Well then, here, take this stuff and put it wit da rest of 'em, Dollface." The world moved in slow motion. She reached for the first can... empty. She opened the second can... empty! She looked down at the little, blue bin... empty!


"Idunno, Dollface. But I'm sure the shields ain't gonna help us. Grab what you need for a few days and get in da car."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday Links

The 50 greatest comedy sketches.

The civil rights of the mind.

A burger in 156 easy steps.

Illegal immigrants suffocate in the back of the truck.

The coming era of ubiquitous computers.

Bringing in the centrifuges, bringing in the centrifuges, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the centrifuges.

Why multitaskers fail.

Pitching on acid.

What power looks like.

While Congressmen fight the last war, there's hope for America.

Friday, April 11, 2008

You Get To Keep Trying...

I'd intended to post a few words about Charlton Heston to coincide with the TCM tribute going on right now, but I'm pretty much done with all this so I'll confine myself to writing that he was a true movie star, an actor who kept trying and a wonderful man.

I would encourage anyone who reads this within the next hour to watch the TCM Private Screenings he did ten years ago, which airs at 8:00 PM EDT.

Rest in Peace, Chuck.

Friday Links

Republican foibles explained.

Dassin considered.

China buys into Total (the outfit behind the Oil-for-Food UN scandal).

25 square miles of sanctimony, surrounded by reality. (H/T: Bruce)

Intelligent paint.

Pernicious NAFTA myths.

Labour's pains.

The (belated) marketing of Surface.

Trade honesty.

Do males naturally prefer boys' toys?

Is the flame of democracy fading?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

3D Maps Now Live with Trees

Virtual Earth now has 3D maps with 3D trees showing in Denver and a couple of other cities. It also has much of the suburbs rendered in 3D now, including individual houses. Check it out.

The New Seven Deadly Sins

PJ O'Rourke reports on the Vatican's new list of sins, much needed now that the Old Seven have been converted from vices to virtues: Pride is now Self-Esteem, Greed is now Good, Sloth is now Relaxation, Lust is now Fullfilling Sex, Envy is now Dreaming Your Dream, Gluttany is now Exercising Gourmet Tastes, and Anger is now Speaking Truth To Power. (ht: Arts and Letters Daily)

The Vatican, by the way, has gone batty with this. What a bunch of New Age Nonsense.

The New Editors

A new post up on Pajamas Media.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The wonders of Obama: cleansing the world of Jews

It was right after the mention of Malcolm X that he looked right at me and started talking about the African American children who are suffering because of the JEWS that have featured them as rapists and murderers. He spoke of a Jewish Rabbi, and then corrected himself to say "What other kind of Rabbis are there, but JEWS". He told how this Rabbi came to him to say that he would like to bring the AA community and the Jewish community together. " NO, NO, NO,!!!!" he shouted into the crowd, we are not going to come together. "The Jews have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us"
Read the whole thing.

h/t: The Jawa Report

Knut's gone knuts!

And to think, not all that long ago, it took more than half the developed world to kick these dopes arses and it was a close run thing for a long time! (ht: Tim Blair)

Wednesday Links

Obesity through viruses?

The press botches Basra.

Windows 7 will break backward compatibility.

The collapse of the Haditha calumny.

Free trade for New Zealand?

Could taking notes in class be legally wrong?

Academics for Obama, Jacksonians for Clinton.

The US Congress in Second Life.

Qutrits in place of qubits?

Is Obama secretly wrapping it up?

Hitting back at cyberattacks.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rock Chalk Jayhawks!!!!!!

If you're gonna eat 'em, first you gotta catch 'em

A few days ago I posted about Ted Turner's revelation that we were all going to turn into cannibals. Of course this has alarmed me, as I never imagined I would be spending my Golden Years eating my neighbors. Just when I thought I had driven such thoughts from my head, I stumbled across the quote below, which was taken from a Spanish forum and posted at Inside Europe: Iberian Notes.

I have been told that in some states in the USA, North Carolina, Virginia, and Mississipi (sic), man-hunting exists, they turn loose a prisoner and hunt him like a rabbit, the victims are usually marginalized, generally blacks and Hispanics, and they are hunted like deer, with dogs and big rifles, a lot of money is spent on these hunts, human life in that country is worth nothing.
I don't know what's worse -- the fact that some idiot in Spain actually believes that Americans are hunting each other, or the fact I can't find 'Man Hunt' in the Yellow Pages so's I can prepare myself for Ted's future.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Links

Web 2.0 for fun and murder.

The world's first pregnant man.

10 futuristic materials available today.

The Masai Warrior's guide to England.

Advertisements that are scientifically designed to work on your brain.

Apple über Wal-Mart.

Introducing Trapster.

Tsunamis on the Sun.

Dealing with dissidents.

Sleep tight to stay slim.

Will the Grid obsolete the Internet?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Anybody have a good recipe for Honey Glazed Wingnut?

Ted Turner's been thinking. Thinking a lot. This NewsBusters article offers an entertaining view into the mind of Ted when its wheels are churning away.

There is the usual "war is bad, we should stop fighting" stuff. Well yea... the first part is a given, the second part is rather more problematic. In talking about Iraq he says, "I think that they're patriots and that they don't like us because we've invaded their country and occupied it. I think if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we'd be doing the same thing: we'd be bombing them too. Nobody wants to be invaded."

Patriots? I suppose, then again, I imagine the Waffen SS also thought they were being patriotic when they were defending the rubble of Berlin. There might be more to it than just bandying the word patriot about.

But enough of that, such happy claptrap is rather common in some circles. What elevates Turner to the rarefied heights of nuttery few have achieved are his deep thoughts on global warming (no waffling on about climate change for him). Have a look at a bit of it:

"Not doing it will be catastrophic. We'll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state -- like Somalia or Sudan -- and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad there'll be no more corn grown."

Yowza! That sounds even worse then Mad Max. No roaring around in souped up dune buggies, with stylish Mohawk hairdos, for our future selves. We won't be looking for gas, we'll be searching for the other red meat. I have dibs on Michael Moore -- he should feed me and my family for a week or two.

Wednesday Links

Maybe the nanny state isn't the best?

Bobby Jindal does good.

McCain and Obama missed the formative experiences of their generations.

Using Second Life to help autistics.

Rodham Clinton the deadbeat?

Squandering vs. Thriftville.

Composing music with cellular automata.

An Iranian-American visits Europe.

The new political framework.

Young adults are leaving Miami.

Aren't people wonderful?

Europe can't defend itself alone.

Canadian Chinese turning violent.