Sunday, August 31, 2008
  Go straight to Angola, do not pass Go.

Good toughness by Mayor Nagin of New Orleans. Tells looters they'll be sent straight to Angola, directly into General Population.

Especially interesting because you rarely hear a politician acknowledge that criminals are not ordinary. The standard approach, from both R and D, is that anyone could be a victim, anyone could be a criminal.

Think about this for a moment. Do normal people understand instantly, without any explanation, the full import of "Go to Angola" and "General Population"? No, only the criminal class, because they've been there already, or they have lots of friends and relatives who have been there.

= = = = =

The rest of Nagin's message is also refreshing in a different way. "This is the mother of all storms. Get your butt out of town."

Compared to the usual smarmy unctuous sanctimonious political ratshit: "If, god forbid, the worst should happen, by some unfortunate and tragic accident, and this alleged storm should allegedly approach our city, the citizens may wish to consider being prepared for various exigencies."

= = = = =

Later: it appears that Gus was not the mother of all storms; maybe the bossy older sister of storms. Why? Not because its actual damage was any less than Katrina; it appears to have been similar. It was less devastating because both Nagin and Bush learned their lessons, and because people did in fact get their butts out of town. When all butts are out of town, you won't have a thousand dead butts in town. By definition.

However! These lessons didn't need to be learned, or more precisely they weren't lessons at all. Katrina wasn't a brand-new phenomenon that nobody understood. It wasn't a quantum storm or a space-time invasion by five-armed gray creatures from Alpha Centauri. The Coast Guard and FEMA already knew how to handle wind damage and flooding, and FEMA had competently handled worse hurricanes under Clinton. So it's not really a question of doing specific things differently, it's just that Bush allowed the entire government to run wild. FEMA under Bush lost its own organizing abilities, and allowed Nagin to get away with total neglect of his emergency duties.

The genuine lesson, the lesson which we will never learn, is that New Orleans should not be a heavily populated city, and our oil production, shipping and refining should not be heavily concentrated around New Orleans. It's simply too vulnerable and too expensive. We can and should produce all of our own crude, which would eliminate the shipping entirely. Most of the production can and should be in non-hurricanish locations like North Dakota and offshore California. We can and should (and did in the past) refine oil in a wider variety of locations.

Why in the hell should we subject our people and our economy to constant threats and shocks when less dangerous and less expensive options are available?

= = = = =

Later again: I wasn't thinking clearly when I asked that question. The answer is obvious. We need to remain vulnerable because it destroys our economy and makes oil prices high, all of which benefits Sultan Bush's good buddies in Saudi Arabia and his soulmate in Russia.
Saturday, August 30, 2008

Item in the latest New Superstitionist. Not widely interesting, but fits into an area where I have some actual knowledge and experience, so caught my attention....

If you want to improve your soundproofing, try punching some holes through it. That's the counter-intuitive result of an experiment in which metal plates drilled full of holes were shown to transmit less sound than solid plates. ... The effect could help reduce noise in situations where air circulation is important to prevent overheating, such as large power transformers near homes.

In the details, turns out the experiment was using ultrasonic frequencies underwater, and the holes block only one frequency, with a wavelength equal to the distance between the holes. For the frequency they chose, the holes are about 3 mm in diameter, and about 7 mm apart.

This would be about the actual size of the pattern:

o o o o o o o
o o o o o o o
o o o o o o o

Okay, maybe it will work for a stealth submarine. I can see the possibility: sound passes through the holes, refracts outward on the other side, cancels at the centerline between each pair of holes.

(Though the article didn't state the purpose, a stealth sub is the only reason for research in underwater ultrasonic shielding.)

But if we try to extend this to regular sound in air, I'll guarantee it won't work.

Let's say we're trying to block the 60-cps hum of a transformer. The wavelength of a 60 cycle sound is about 18 feet. So we'd need to make a series of 18-foot diameter holes 18 feet apart in the housing of the transformer.

Now I'm looking through my front door at a residential transformer atop the nearest power pole. Appears to be a cylinder, about 4 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Okay, so we need to drill a pattern of 18-foot holes 18 feet apart on this 4-foot cylinder. Fetch my 18-foot brace and bit, and we'll get started. All right, that will take care of the 60-cps sound, and now we'll need to drill some 9-foot holes between the 18-foot holes to take care of the 120-cps harmonic, and then some 3-foot holes 3 feet apart to silence the 180-cps harmonic.

Even if they're talking about a much larger transformer, say about the size of a house, it's still impossible. You still won't have any enclosure left after opening those truck-sized holes.

Aside from this grotesque absurdity, the first rule of soundproofing in air is to make the enclosure perfectly airtight. After you've sealed and caulked all possible holes and cracks, you can then add various kinds of damping material. But if even a few air molecules can get through, you might as well skip the rest of the work.

Methinks these acoustical experts are not very good at math, among other things.
  Rove learned......

Couple months ago I commented at length about a C-Span discussion of political tactics. Reprinting part:

C-span was showing a discussion among top political operatives about this year's Congressional election. The brand-D operative was talking about those new hawkish Western Dems that I find impressive. He said those candidates were the third or fourth choices from the Party's viewpoint. After the losses of '02 and '04, the horizon looked dim to the "real candidates", the lifetime brand-D politicos with long state-level experience and good fund-raising connections. So the "real candidates" refused to run in '06, leaving the party to scrape the barrel. And what did they find? They found some Real Americans instead of the usual Real Party Hacks.

You'd think the brand-R operatives would have found this instructive. You'd think they would say "Hmm... maybe we should lop off our first-tier choices and scrape the barrel to find some uncorrupted candidates, some candidates who don't resemble Duke Cunningham, Conrad Burns and Larry Craig." Nope, from the inside-the-system viewpoint, these new hawkish Dems didn't win because the voters liked them; these fresh candidates won because their records were so short that the brand-R operatives couldn't dig up any dirt on them.

I wonder if Rove learned something from those operatives. It appears that Palin was far enough down in the barrel that the brand-D dirt-diggers were caught unawares.

This note from the NYT Caucus blog verifies it:
Ms. Palin came as a surprise not only to many Republicans and journalists, but also to the Obama team. The campaign has been busily preparing TV commercials to run against Mitt Romney — with aides gleefully watching hours of footage of Romney-McCain exchanges from the primary — but far little opposition research had been prepared about the Alaska governor.

Incidentally, "far little" provides a nice window into the mind of the NYT reporter. Clearly he first wrote "far too little", then realized that would reveal his bias, so he tried to make it "far less", which sounds more objective, but didn't quite get there.

And more verification via a posting in one of my favorite graphics forums. In the graphics world, Obama is considered too moderate and centrist; Kucinich would have been the ideal candidate for these folks. Nonetheless, Obama was good enough to get them working for The Party, and apparently they are all busy little Communist oppo-researchers this morning:

There are a lot of porn companies out there trying to capitalize on the current mania of searching out video about Sarah Palin, including a few that make themselves look like YouTube sites. If you're looking for such stuff, do yourself a favour and *only* look via links provided by bloggers you know and trust.

Well, at least the porn vendors weren't blindsided by the Palin boom!

= = = = =

More seriously, Palin has a lot in common with those Western Dems like Jon Tester and Brian Schweitzer. Because they're all "barrel-scrapings" from the insider view, they're all refreshing. They haven't been confused, extorted, smoothed down and dirtied up by years in the Beltway. They say what they mean and mean what they say. And unlike a Larry Craig or a Patty Murray, they are also unconfused on the personal level. Tester is a man who looks like a man, Palin is a woman who looks like a woman.
Friday, August 29, 2008
  Palin, local connection

The Spokane TV stations all took a stab at getting impressions of Palin from students and faculty at Univ of Idaho and Northern Idaho College, where she did her college work in the late '80s. None of the retired profs remembered her; apparently she was a quiet student who didn't get into a lot of extracurricular stuff.

The pres of NIC took the opportunity to make a good selling point: This shows that a student who starts at a community college can go all the way. You don't need to get into a prestigious university.

Though he was just doing his job, I think this does mark an important change. All of the Pres and VP choices in recent years, even those who started from poor backgrounds like Bill Clinton, played the prestige game, used Harvard or Yale as a stepping-stone to power.

Palin is the first major candidate in recent years who was neither an aristocrat from birth (Bush, Gore, McCain) nor a power-seeker from birth (Clinton, Obama).

Excellent choice.

My real problem with Manchurian Candidate McCain is his aggressive delicacy, his need to impose his own prissy feelings on the rest of us. Given the choice of sacrificing every American life versus annoying a terrorist, he'll sacrifice us. Given the choice of selling us to Arabia versus sullying the precious "fragile" landscape of the Arctic, he'll sell us to Arabia. These choices are not just unmanly but suicidal.

Palin is not prissy. She has shown repeatedly that she will git 'er done.

And she has some serious Hair. Superficial, yeah, but a bit more. Showing some Hair is a tacit rebellion against the flat straight center-parted nun style that was imposed on American women in 1970. It's a little flash of defiance against the delightfully deceased Comrade Betty Fried[m]an.

Could I now vote for the R ticket? Only if MC McCain swears in advance that he will immediately switch places with Palin after taking the oath of office. We can't afford even one day of rule by this prissy-ass Communist.

= = = = =

Prediction: Watch for Palin to be described over and over as "scary". Leninists are required, in an unbreakable Pavlovian way, to describe a woman who looks like a woman as "scary".

Woman looks like man? That's default, normal, doesn't need a word.

Man looks like woman? "Enlightened" or "Outrageously transgressive", which is high praise.

Woman looks like woman? "Scary."

Thursday, August 28, 2008
  Local notes: Wheelchair Poop Bandit

You want weird? We got your weird right here in River City.

Starting about a year ago a half-dozen business in the Spokane Valley were targeted by this unique vandal.

Jenny's Cafe, Mc Q's Billiards and Sports Bar and Leo's Photography were among the targets of this unique vandalism, with gallons of watery fecal matter splashed or smeared on walls and doors.

"It was just a pile of sewage, right here at our front door. Some of it went under the door and made a huge mess," Nita Saddler of Mc Q's Billiards and Sports Bar.

Some of these establishments became dump sites more than once, always overnight.

"I didn't even know what to think of it, every time we'd come up in the morning we'd just pray that it wasn't there again," Jenny said.

Authorities finally figured out last Sunday who the culprit behind these attacks was when a deputy spotted a man riding a powered wheelchair on Farr Road.

John Rubint, 53, was the man riding that wheelchair. He lives several blocks away from the businesses that were getting attacked; hanging off the back of his wheelchair was a 5-gallon bucket of fecal matter.

"He expressed anger over the fact that he was now partially paralyzed and that was at least part of the reason he was doing what he was doing," Sergeant Dave Reagan with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said.

Full story, complete with security video, here.
  Laughing points

In recent months the brand-R talking point heads have descended into a new form of the old Two Minutes Hate technique. It consists of dissecting the brand-D candidates while laughing insanely.

Hannity is the simplest: Oh, that Obama character, hahaahaaaHAAAARRR! He's a real piece of work, hahaahaaaHAAAARRR! He's gonna take us straight into Socialism, hahaahaaaHAAAARRR! by raising our taxes, hahaahaaaHAAAARRR!

Beck has a wider variety of noises. Taking apart Joe Biden's acceptance speech: "From Afghanistan to Iraq," EEEEErrrgghh! My head is exploding! "From Amtrak," GGGHHHAAAARRRgh! AMTRAK? AMTRAK? AMTRAK? When did Amtrak ever make a profit? Have you seen an Amtrak train?

= = = = =

This technique can backfire. It gives the listener a chance to think about the speech being ridiculed.

Take Amtrak. I hadn't probed this point before, but listening to Beck's squawking made me stop and think.

Is this really a good comparison?

Does highway travel earn a profit? No.
So why should train travel be expected to earn a profit?

All forms of travel are subsidized in one way or another, because freight and passenger transportation are critically necessary to a functional nation, and all forms require an organized infrastructure that is beyond the capabilities of companies operating in pure competition.
  Duncan sentenced

Joseph Duncan, probably the most brutal hominid in America, was sentenced to death in a Federal court yesterday. There is the usual automatic appeal, but I suspect the sentence will be carried out quickly by modern standards.

In a strictly numerical sense, an absolute shark like Duncan tends to do less harm than the garden-variety serial killer like Ted Bundy or Robert Yates. The Bundy or Yates type lives an ordinary life most of the time, and is in fact ordinary most of the time. He occasionally gets the urge to finish off a sex act with a killing, and he has the smarts to choose his victims well. So a Yates may keep going for a long time, because prostitutes tend to die from various random causes anyway, and because police quite rationally pay less attention to deaths within the world of criminals. (Why is this rational? Because it makes the life of criminality less attractive to youngsters who are examining the possibility. You may rebel against parents and cops, but you're less likely to pick near-certain death just for the sake of rebellion!)

A Duncan, however, is not ordinary, and never lives an ordinary life. Everyone around a shark observes quickly and painfully that his sole purpose in life is to do harm, and he ends up in some kind of institution early on. The specific problem in this case is that the institution was in Massachusetts, where Leninist idiocy has fully metastasized; Duncan was released from the institution despite all kinds of indications to the contrary. As soon as he was released, he started killing again. This happened two or three more times, but the authorities, unable to discriminate between sharks and humans, continued to release him.

So he will finally be destroyed, and the human race will be noticeably improved.
  Derb's latest

Derbyshire's latest short column at NRO is important.

Every age has its characteristic follies, and those follies have their correctives. The folly of the present age in America is a facile, infantile optimism, that recognizes no limits to human abilities or the wonders that can be wrought by politicians, bureaucrats, and generals. The corrective is a firm, measured pessimism. ...

Optimism helped build this nation. Yes, we can clear the forest, tame the prairies, fight off the Indians. Yes, we can build heavier-than-air flying machines, land on the Moon, defeat fascism and communism. Yes, we can prosper without the horror and indignity of slavery. I am sure there were pessimists who said those things could not be done. They were wrong; and thoughful persons, including thoughtful pessimists, knew at the time that they were wrong.

Some children will be left behind. You cannot "remake the Middle East" or "defeat evil." The poor will always be with us. Black and white will never mingle together in unselfconscious harmony. Corporations will not research and explore without hope of profit. Russia will not become Sweden. Forty million immigrants speaking a single language will not assimilate.

I'd add one point. When our gov't, schools, military and corporations are kept busy trying to accomplish things that are physically and logically impossible, they don't have any time or resources left to accomplish the things that ARE possible.

And it's not just a one-to-one displacement of effort, because the glorious goals always run into the realm of diminishing returns.

When you are stuck in fantasy -- or required to implement a fantasy -- you won't notice when the proportion of cost to benefit has dropped below the break-even point, and you'll keep working harder and longer to reach the smaller and sparser signs of success.

Trying to teach an unteachable child costs ten times as much as teaching a normal kid. So the futile attempt to reach one subnormal kid removes service from ten normal kids.

Trying to eradicate every molecule of asbestos costs vastly more than simply compensating the few thousand Johns Manville workers who were genuinely injured by negligent managers. It bogs down every single building and remodeling project, for no benefit at all. (How many people are needlessly miserable and unhealthy because they can't afford to improve their houses? How many people are homeless because the cost of building new apartments or improving old ones has become prohibitive, making it cheaper to replace old buildings with parking lots?)

Trying to cool off the earth by eliminating CO2 is the worst fantasy of all. The other goals have an addictive quality: seeking an ever-receding but always visible rainbow. Global warming is a totally false theory at every step. We won't even see tiny signs of success, because the effort has precisely zero relationship to the problem, and the problem doesn't exist in the first place.

Trying to democratize Arabs will take an infinite amount of time, and by damn we'll keep our Army there for a hundred years, a thousand years, however long it takes. Thus making the Army weak, tired, and unavailable for the tasks where military effort stands a chance of success.

With most of these goals, the hand of Stalin is easy to see. In the areas that fall under the broad umbrella of "diversity", you can specifically identify the Stalinist judges, anthropologists and sociologists who set up the requirements in the '50s and '60s. Same with the environmentalist purposes. Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich and their disciples were devoted to the Soviet cause.

I'm puzzled about the military part, though. Is it just a mindless extension of the same failure to understand proportion? Or can we trace Putin's revenge in a more explicit way? It certainly looks like a precise echo, a perfect mirror-image, of Reagan's takedown of the Soviet Empire.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
  Polistra's dream, 7

Part 7 of Polistra's Dream.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5 and Part 6 first.

Ponca, July 1939. Arcade Hotel.

Fran and Polistra are relaxing.

Fran: Okay, we'll see what we can do. Bye.

Polistra: What was that about?

Fran: One of my church friends. Remember my paperboy Jimmy?

Pol: Sure. The boy with the soapbox car.

Fran: Well, the lady said Jimmy's older sister Lodine isn't feeling well, could use some cheering up. I'm up against a deadline on this article ... could you drive over there and bring them some food and stuff? Pick out a few cans of soup and stew, maybe some tea and sugar and bread.

Pol: Of course. I'll take the picnic basket, make it seem like an outing.

Fran: Jimmy's family is a bit of a project for our church, I guess you'd say. They had a farm at Red Rock; when the soil blew away in '35, the father went to California for work and disappeared. Then the mother pretty much fell apart. She does a little sewing and a lot of drinking. I've seen her coming out of rooms in the Arcade. I suppose she was, ah, 'conferring' with some of the visiting oilmen. The upshot is, Jimmy and Lodine take care of each other, without any help from the mother.

Pol: Sounds like a messy situation. Okay, I'm ready to go.

Fran: They live at 1308 South 13th in Dixie Hill. And listen, so you won't be surprised, Lodine is an odd-looking girl. I mean really odd-looking, but sharp as a tack and an amazingly hard worker. Keeps that shack spic and span, keeps Jimmy clean and fed. She's adopted, and I think you'll know where she's from. In fact, I think you and she will get along just fine.

Pol: What? What do you mean?

Fran: Now get along; I really need to finish this piece, and I'll leave it up to you and Lodine to have a good chat. It will cheer her up to know... well, go on with you.

Pol: There's Jimmy. Wait. Measles? That's worse than "not feeling well"....

Jimmy: Hello, Miss Lister. I'm glad to see you, ma'am, but we're under a quantine. We can't have any visitors inside.

Pol: Don't worry, I've already had measles, so I'm immune.

Jimmy: Please, ma'am, my sister is real sick. I don't know what to do.

Pol: Good afternoon, Lodine.

Jimmy: I don't think she can talk right now, ma'am. She's sort of half-asleep or something.

Pol: Oh lord, she's burning up. She's not gonna ... Okay, I'm not supposed to do this, but ... Jimmy, is that a Bible?

Jimmy: Yes ma'am.

Pol: Hold onto it and pray. Ready, set.....

Pol: Go.

Lodine: What happened? I think I was ill, but now it's all gone. Who are you?

Pol: I'm Polistra, a friend of Miss Fran. She heard you were feeling poorly, so I came over to cheer you up. Here's some food and stuff.

Lodine: Well then, we've got some work to do. James, put the table back in order. Miss P, could you sort of make the bed?

Lodine: Oh goodness, goodness! There's real English tea in here. Haven't had proper tea since... I'll boil up some water if the stove is still warm. Yes, it is. Thank you, James, for keeping the coal going.

Lodine: There, now we're almost done. Much better, don't you think, Miss P?

Pol: Yes, but should you be working so hard immediately after...

Lodine: Nonsense, nonsense, activity is the best way to recover. And
there's nothing like a neat and clean house to keep us healthy.

Lodine: James, you may go out now and deliver the evening papers. I truly appreciate your watching over me, but you probably need some fresh air, eh?

Jimmy: Yes, sis. I'm a little late on collections, so I'll get going.

Pol: James?

Lodine: I know everyone calls him Jimmy, but I'm convinced that we need to maintain a higher level of dignity. Dignity and organization: the best way to make it through poverty, and the best way to make it out of poverty.

Pol: You've got it. That's a deep truth, but not many folks know it.

Lodine: No, no, it's common knowledge. I learned it from the colored ladies who live around here.

Pol: Well, it's not common knowledge where I come from.

Lodine: You mean "when" you come from?

Pol: Yes.

Lodine: You're from the future, aren't you?

Pol: Yes. Did Fran tell you?

Lodine: Not quite, but I could put together the inferences. Have people forgotten the basics of common sense in your era?

Pol: Yes, to some extent. We haven't forgotten the value of hard work, but we've somehow replaced dignity and organization by intelligence and book learning. We tell everyone that the best way to get out of poverty is to get a college degree.

Lodine: That's ridiculous, and it will especially harm the colored people, won't it?

Pol: Yes. It will and it did.

Continued in Part 8 here.

= = = = =

Much later footnote, Aug 2017: The 1940 Census wasn't available when I wrote this. I happened to be looking through the Census pages today (ED 36-36), and noticed that my guesswork fiction was exactly right. The 1300 block of South 13th was white, and all the surrounding blocks were colored.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
  All-around multicolor suicidal idiocy

News item: Mohammed Taheri-Azar, who attempted a suicide car attack at Univ of North Carolina in 2006, was sentenced to 33 years in civil court.

Just to raise my blood pressure, not that it matters, let's imagine a Jap pilot who attempts a kamikaze dive-bombing on Seattle in 1943. He runs out of gas, lands in the Olympic Peninsula, survives the landing. What would happen after that? First of all, the Ground Observer Corps would track his flight, and would determine quickly that he was a Jap. Then a small military contingent would find the plane, using the coordinates determined by GOC. Then he'd either be shot on sight or taken to a POW camp for intensive interrogation.

In 2008 we give an enemy soldier a nice gentle trial and a nice gentle sentence in a nice cushy Fed prison, where he will be free to proselytize black prisoners, recruit them into Allah's Army.

= = = = =

We deserve to lose this war. Ordinary Americans don't deserve it, but our alleged so-called "government" deserves to lose it, and deserves to be seen accurately as a corrupt moronic Quisling, to serve as a lesson to future democracies. If there are any.

= = = = =

The big point here:

War is not a jury trial.

In war you do not presume innocence.

In war you do not distinguish between attempt and success.

In war, nearly all bullets and bombs are failures. That's how it goes.

Mohammed Taheri-Azar is an enemy soldier.

He was deadly serious about his kamikaze attack.

He intended to kill as many infidels as he could.

His estimate of necessary projectile velocity was wrong, but that is utterly and totally irrelevant in war. He pulled the trigger, and that's the only thing that matters.
  Gray idiocy

News item heard just now: "McCain's age is a problem for many voters. Younger voters are prejudiced against the elderly, and even the elderly are biased against the elderly."

No, you unspeakable Commie idiot fuckheads. It's not bias, it's accurate understanding based on personal experience. We Baby Boomers are old enough now that we know what happens with age. We can feel the gradual loss of multi-tasking ability, the gradual loss of sharpness. MC McCain is ten years older than the average Boomer, and went through a terrible mind-breaking experience in Vietnam. We can hear from his current performance that he is at least ten years farther into cognitive decline than most of us.

His Vietnam prison experience should not be his sole qualification for office; it should count as a disqualifier. It may be unkind to say this, but the purpose of voting is not to be charitable to a candidate. The purpose of voting is to determine which candidate will do the job.
Monday, August 25, 2008
  Does MC McCain have any sense?

Heard just now on radio: "We have some sharp divisions, my friends, but this country is about to go through the most fundamental part of democracy, the process of selecting a new leader."

Aside from the tired-old-man tone, the brand-D talking point heads will have all sorts of fun with this. "Selected, not elected" is their standard description of the 2000 election. They're probably right. Even without assuming straightforward fraud, the whole process is a long, long, long way from any semblance of honesty.
Sunday, August 24, 2008

I was fruitlessly pondering one of my favorite dead horses, the question whether completing college really indicates added skills or just serves to select a certain class of people. Steve Sailer does an excellent job on this question, so I really don't need to ponder it.....

Nevertheless, I kept on pondering, trying to separate out the few disciplines where added training really matters: essentially engineering and medical fields. Why does training really matter in those areas? Why is it important to have all the details right, and to get plenty of practice? Because real lives depend on skill in these areas. A badly done surgery can kill the patient, and a badly planned building can collapse.

Then I realized something worth recording.

In America, how many people are killed by bad medical practice? By most counts, about 100,000 per year. How many people are killed by badly planned buildings? Maybe a dozen? The only example I can remember is the Crown Plaza in KC, where a badly built skywalk collapsed twenty years ago and killed 100 or so. And in that case it wasn't the engineering as such; the problem was a contractor who cut corners, decided to use smaller bolts than specified.

Why don't politicians get hot and bothered about a licensed profession that kills 100,000 people? This is twice the death toll of auto accidents, and in the same range as smoking.

Conclusion: Engineers are one hell of a lot more serious about the Hippocratic Oath than doctors are.

= = = = =

Newt tried briefly to stir up some activity on this front, but didn't get anywhere. What's wrong? I don't know.

Later: Well, I spoke too soon. CBS's 60 Minutes focused on this problem tonight! Admittedly they were dealing with one specific drug, but they also covered the broader scandal of medical mistakes.
Friday, August 22, 2008
  McCain's houses

I try not to pay attention to the talking points, but this really does cut deeper than the usual nonsense. It's not simply his inability to count the houses; the real problem is that he didn't even notice how weird it is. He and his wife live in an elevated and isolated circle of super-rich plutocrats, where "I'll have my staff look into this" must be a normal thought. He clearly doesn't know anybody who could even remind him that ordinary Americans don't live this way.

An ordinary American might have trouble answering "How many cans of soup are in your cupboard?" or "How many shirts do you own?" In the McCain world, houses are in the same category.

I find it especially galling because I went through considerable trouble and pain to acquire and keep my ONE tiny house, and I'm proud that I managed to own it free and clear. The Americans who went through similar trouble, only to find that they now own ZERO houses because of job losses or unwise investments, must find it even more galling.

= = = = =

Literary note: I started to write "How many cans of soup do you own?" but realized the sentence is somehow ungrammatical, or perhaps unsemantical. Cans of food don't quite count as possessions, because you don't expect to sell them. You expect to be able to sell a house or car, or even a shirt at a garage sale, but you simply don't resell food, and you certainly don't hold it as a collectible heirloom. You eat it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008
  Excellent contractor

Amid all my moaning and groaning, time for a positive note.

Background: When I bought my little house in 1991, the bank required certain things to be done. One of them was to insure that the ground in the crawl space was at least 14 inches below the wood.

The previous owner (who was a retired realtor / slumlord) paid for this work, but the result was worse than just leaving things alone. The back wing of the house, originally a covered porch, was resting on concrete blocks which were fairly solid at that time. The cheapo contractor hired by the previous owner dug out several inches from this crawl space, which left it below the surrounding ground. After I moved in, I put boards around the area to keep out cats and skunks.

Earlier this year, the Orkin man did his standard procedure of digging a trench around the house, and removed my boards. This revealed the awful condition of the supports for the back wing; the blocks were still there, but years of drainage into the low area had undercut them, and they were sitting at odd angles. I was afraid that the next big rain (without the slight protection offered by my boards) would simply collapse the whole thing.

So I called around and finally found one contractor willing to do the job. He looked at it and bid $1350 for a system using concrete bases and heavy treated wood beams, which is likely to last about 20 years.

Today he showed up at 9:30. He started digging and pounding; Mother Nature interrupted his work with a torrential rain and 2 inches of hail at 11 AM, but he kept going and finished by 2 PM. Since the job was shorter than predicted, he billed only $1100 instead of $1350.

The result is perfect, better than I hoped. A solid foundation, graded all around, no way for animals or water to enter. If you don't look too closely at the color, it's indistinguishable from a poured concrete foundation. The doorway between two rooms in the back wing, off square for many years, is now square. The floor in the main house, which had been making suspicious creaks because the sagging wing was pulling on that side of the house, is more solid now. Above all, I can rest easy the next time Mother Nature does her thing.

I considered posting a positive review on AngiesList, but that site seems to require a lot of registration and possible payment, so I'll just record the positive rating here, in a way that Google should pick up easily.

The excellent contractor is Terry Hackler, doing business as "Mountain Remodel", based in Spokane.

= = = = =

Update 7/7/2010: Hackler's great work is holding up perfectly after two years of unusually heavy rain, snow and wind. Still straight, solid and waterproof.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
  Got really interesting

I've been watching the new Top-Two primary here in Wash State. Figured it would give interesting results, and it came through. On the 'big' offices, Gov, Treasurer, Congress, etc, the general ballot will look pretty much as before, with R running against D. But at the state legislature level, there's far more variety. About 20% of the seats will have either D vs D or R vs R on the fall ballot. And a half dozen of the races will have a minor party as one of the two choices. This will elevate the minor parties into a significance they couldn't have reached before, in a way that's not immediately obvious.

Consider: the usual general election ballot looks like this.....

O Morgan J. Richboy [Republican]
O Stan Szwarczkowski [Democrat]
O Rainbowchild Riverwind [Green]
O Mary Jane Blunt [Libertarian]

The average voter is accustomed to looking at the first two and skipping the rest.

But now the general ballot in some districts will look like this:

O Morgan J. Richboy [Republican]
O Mary Jane Blunt [Libertarian]

The minor party will be one of the two available choices. Thus, if your only motivation is to vote against the R, you'll have to vote for the L.

Must admit I didn't realize this possibility in advance, and it appears that the Libertarian party didn't anticipate it either, since they had joined the big parties in trying to overturn the new format. It will certainly help them!

= = = = =

Addendum after more thinking: Under the usual system, access to the general ballot depends in theory on winning primaries in each party. In practice the primary process involves only the two major parties, so the minors get "tacked on" after the primary process. This insures that the minors are always present on the ballot, even if they are part of a 12-line clutter. Under the new system, the minors don't automatically get onto the ballot, so I guess I can understand why Libertarians were fighting it. But the new system actually does a better service for the minors. A small-party candidate with a real chance of winning will be on the ballot, and he will be there in a way that gives him an even better chance of winning.

In other words, the usual system gives small parties a better chance to accumulate percentages. The new system gives small parties a better chance of actually taking an office.
  Blue idiocy

Listening to the United Nations meeting on C-Span. Various national delegates are "questioning whether Russia is sufficiently committed" to meeting the requirements of the UN, and "hoping that the appointment of a new study group will lead to more robust initiatives".

Leaving aside the utter impotence of the UN in any circumstance, this is still pure nonsense. Russia is always serving the same end as the UN, because the UN is Russia.


So, if the UN appears to be telling Russia to do something, and Russia appears to be disobeying, this is not "insufficient committment", it's just part of the chess game. It's just another way to show the world that the Soviet Union is back in the driver's seat, and is free to do any damn thing it wants to do.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
  Green idiocy

1. Some cemeteries are offering "green burials". The grave is not marked by a granite stone; instead the family is given GPS coordinates. And the body is laid to rest on "seagrass", whatever the hell that is, instead of a coffin.

This won't appeal to serious Gaia believers, because they start from the premise that humans are evil, thus allowing the human body to re-enter The Planet [pbuh] is a form of sacrilege. And it certainly won't appeal to normal people, because there is a natural desire to keep the body enclosed. Not quite rational but so common that it must have a good evolutionary reason.

= = = = =

2. When I wrote the long list of things that should have happened by now, as seen from 1939, I included weather control.

Fran: Have you controlled weather? Built domed cities?

Pol: No. In fact we have decided to make no progress in that area. We haven't gone beyond cloud-seeding, and we won't allow ourselves to do that.

In saying that we have decided to make no progress, I felt on shaky ground; though I understand the Green mindset only too well, I couldn't find any actual record of the decision. Last night the Weather Channel, which serves Gaia in the same way that TBN serves Jesus, gave me the documentation. As part of their hurricane coverage, they discussed American efforts at cloud-seeding to control hurricanes. Sure enough, the effort stopped around 1970, and High Priestess Heidi Cullen said the stop was good because there are "moral problems" with cloud-seeding.

Think about that.

Trying to protect Americans is immoral. Leaving them vulnerable to Nature's fury, even when we know a way to protect them, is moral.

Tells you all you need to know about the Green agenda.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
  Sushi or Smucker's?

The character of Fran in Polistra's Dream is trying to make a point, especially in part 6. I think her point needs to be brought out more explicitly, so I'll come at it from a different angle...

Before refrigeration, humanity developed numerous ways to preserve food. Beer, bread, wine and whiskey use yeast cultures to preserve grain and fruit. Cheese uses bacterial cultures to preserve milk. Jams and jellies use pectin and sugar to preserve fruit. Sausage, beef jerky, pemmican ... you get the idea.

Before television, humanity developed numerous ways to preserve ideas and concepts. The first was oral repetition, which was fragile; it depended on the survival of the troubadors or scholars who held the words. Books were far more permanent. But there are also more subtle and more "jam-like" ways to preserve an idea. I've tried to show some of those in the Dream. Mr Wentz's lamps preserve the spirit of the Osage warrior, even after the Osages were lost to alcohol and welfare; and the lamps add the value of a Deco-era design to frame the Osage shield, making it more digestible to a 1930's audience. The Arcade itself, like many buildings of that period, preserves both the esthetic sense of an earlier race (in this case the Spanish) and the labor and vision of the men who laid the bricks and sculpted the terra-cotta ornaments. The music of Aaron Copland and Scott Joplin preserves the rhythms and melodies of an earlier class or group, baking them into a more formal loaf that can be stored and played by later orchestras.

Like a bottle of beer, these preserves can be opened and consumed; the viewer or listener can derive mental and emotional nutrition from them.

Unlike beer or bread, these preserves can be consumed repeatedly. An Arcade or an Osage lamp can keep you alive, allow you to work and enjoy, while contributing its unique flavor to your life. It shapes your thoughts, injecting just a little bit of the Spanish or Osage flavor into your soul. By contrast, a rudely functional modernist building or lamp adds nothing. It merely surrounds or illuminates.

Fran suffers real pain when Polistra tells her that dams and buildings are being destroyed to save the fish. She needs a drink when Polistra tells her that Copland and Joplin are nearly forgotten. All that talent, all that planning and organization, all that labor, for nothing. Lost. Wasted.

= = = = =

In a different realm, we have also failed to 'jell' our political and religious ideas.

We have gone in two different directions.

On one side, fundamentalists insist on quoting raw Bible verses or raw sections from the Constitution, or raw bits of totally indigestible philosophers like Kant or von Mises. They seem to derive some pleasure from the act of quoting, but there is no added value, no terra-cotta ornamentation, no brass frame.

The other side is less subtle: Leninists simply smash ideas into fragments, forbidding us to discriminate and judge.

I think the good ideas would stand a better chance of survival with more decoration, more grace notes, more stained glass, more sugar. Their 'container' would then be worth defending and keeping, even by people who don't yet understand the 'contents'.

= = = = =

Artistic note for Poser types: the stove and other utensils in the picture are part of this set.
Friday, August 15, 2008
  Cold War 2: the Empire strikes back

C-span presented an excellent package this afternoon, basically showing the resurgence of the good old USSR. Russian TV now sounds exactly like old Radio Moscow, and our small Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe operation has been miraculously preserved, solid and competent, through the Bush era.

During Yeltsin's rule it looked like Russia might actually become a more modern authoritarian state, perhaps something like China. After Putin took over, it was obvious that the Soviet Union was going to return; the only question was when and how.

The when is now. The how is not so much the Gruzya battle; Russia has been pushing and pulling in the Caucasus for a while. This battle is more serious than before, but it's not really The Big One. No, the important signal is Russia's open threat to bomb Warsaw if we put defensive missiles in Poland. No doubt about it, the bear has awakened.

Well, what's different between Cold War I and Cold War II?

On the good side, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary are out of the Iron Curtain and won't return. The other European satellites, like Rumania and Bulgaria, will probably drift back, but the bloc in Europe won't be the same. In other words, the Roman Catholic and Protestant countries will stay Western now, and the Orthodox countries will go back East. [Addendum: the Out-of-the-Curtain group also includes Catholic Croatia and Protestant Slovenia. Ideally it would include Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, because they are Western ... but I'm afraid they're too close to Russia, and too important as commercial zones and naval ports. Putin won't allow them to remain outside the walls.]

On the bad side, and it's very bad: Sultan Bush has destroyed our industrial base, Rumsfeld has stripped our military bases, and our Army is tied up in completely pointless and counter-productive battles. Sultan Bush has allowed Arabia AND RUSSIA to gain huge economic benefits from high oil prices, which he COULD HAVE CONTROLLED by regulating the traders and opening domestic exploration. His idiotic efforts to blame Congress and blame the Democrats don't fool anyone except his idiotic parrots.

In the 1980's, Russia was in the position I've just described. Industries destroyed, military used up and occupied in Afghanistan, leaders frozen and incompetent. Reagan was able to pull a few carefully planned strings, including dropping the oil price, to collapse the Soviet Empire. Now we are in the weak position, and Putin will be able to pull a few carefully planned strings to finish us off.

= = = = =

One new question occurs to me. Is Sheikh Osama one of those strings? Was he working for Putin all along? Not consciously, because he hates Russia as much as he hates America. But was he effectively a KGB puppet?

Within America, the internal pro-Soviet subversive forces have been working with parts of the Mohammedan movement since 1968. And the Soviets have always openly supported and funded the Palestinians. Since Sheikh Osama works in the same direction as Palestine, though far more effectively, it would be reasonable to assume that he's driven and funded by the Soviets as well. I don't know of any evidence pointing to such a connection ... but when we're talking about KGB operations, absence of evidence is normal. Doesn't prove anything either way.
  All you need to know

Rush just mentioned that Tom Ridge, possible VP choice by Manchurian Candidate McCain, was in favor of the Nuclear Freeze in the '80s. A quick check of news sources shows that Ridge was not only a Freezer, he opposed aid to the Contras in Nicaragua.

Rush described the Freeze as a leftist movement. No sir. Not leftist, explicitly Soviet. I was part of that movement, and we were taking orders directly from Moscow. We were working for the USSR, pure and simple. And the same goes for the Contra thing. Opposing aid to the Contras was not just leftist but explicitly Soviet. All part of the same package.

Ridge doesn't seem to regret or alter his past positions. So his more famous disadvantage, believing that a mother has the "right" to hire a hit man to kill her kids before birth, is just one indication of his consistently Soviet platform.

And the fact that MC McCain is happy and comfy with Soviet Agent Ridge tells us which side he's on, not that we really needed this extra data.
  Salute to Lysle Mason

[Branching from Polistra's Dream part 6. This was written first as a footnote, later split off as separate entry.]

The notion that civilization requires a certain degree of strictness is relatively undiscussed today. American commentators on both sides insist on touting Freedom, which is a delusion. It ain't Freedom that gives us civilization, and the main benefit of civilization is not Freedom.

I learned this by example from Professor Lysle Mason at Phillips in 1978, though he wasn't really trying to teach it. He was only trying to teach math courses like Diff Eq and Theory of Ring Algebras.

In '78, the anything-goes wildness of hippie times had developed (as per Lenin's plan) into a hard-line dialectic. The Alinsky rules for dialog were fully imposed in most college classes, as follows: Professors must allow free speech so that leftists can cuss down and shout down any opposition to leftist causes. The Alinsky rules are universal today. Watch any cable TV "discussion" program for instruction in the method.

I didn't understand this connection at the time. I just assumed that freedom worked this way. Didn't notice that it allowed only one idea to be voiced.

Prof Mason did things differently. In a year when most professors tried to look and act like Elvis, Mason looked and acted like a 19th-century German professor, with rimless glasses, short hair and three-piece suits. If ten-piece suits were available, Mason would have worn ten-piece suits. He required a similar level of decorum from his students. Males must wear coat and tie, females must wear dresses. (Not miniskirts, needless to say.) He called everyone by title: Mr, Miss, Mrs as appropriate, and required good grammar and relatively formal speech in discussions.

Well, what happened? Was discussion totally squashed by this unspeakably Victorian "tyranny"? Not at all. Ideas bloomed.

Admittedly the range of relevant ideas in Diff Eq is rather limited, but the effect was still visible. You could ask how this equation would be used by a painter, or ask why Leibniz and Newton were in competition. And the question could be discussed fully, without any interruptions by Leftist cussing; all sides could be aired without any shouts of HOW DARE YOU or McCARTHYISM or RACISM or SEXISM. In other classes, and in discussions out of class, you knew for sure that your thoughts and musings would be interrupted and chopped off by one of those key phrases.

I gradually noticed the difference. There was no tension in Prof Mason's class, no self-censorship to avoid triggering the standard Leftist phrases.

Alinsky uses "free" behavior to crush free thought. In Mason's world of "unfree" behavior, the mind could relax, freed from the fear of intellectual bullying.

So this episode is dedicated to the memory of Prof Mason, who died last year.

[I carried this point in a different direction in Sushi or Smuckers.]


Thursday, August 14, 2008

A few minutes ago, someone calling himself "Yoshi" called into the Ed Schulz show. Yoshi, speaking barely intelligible Engrish, said that he had been a prof of economics at Harvard Business School when Sultan Bush was a student there. He went on to say that young George was stupid and "unteachable"; couldn't learn economics.

My first thought was: Even though George is rather dim, I don't think anyone could have learned anything from your incomprehensible Engrish and unprofessional attitude.

My second thought was to look him up.

First I looked up the faculty of Harvard Business School. Found a Michael Yoshino who started teaching in 1971, so would have been there in '75 when young George was a student. There weren't any other Japanese names from that period, so this seems like a good fit for "Yoshi".

Second, I looked up general articles about young George's time at HBS. Found a Business Week feature written in early 2001, before young George's performance as President could have any influence.

In the Business Week article, I found:

Once he sat down for his first core-curriculum class, Bush was just like any other MBA, people remember. "He was a nice young man," professor Michael Yoshino says, though he never had him as a student in class.

Something is obviously wrong here! Is the caller a fake?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
  Polistra's dream, 6

Part 6 of Polistra's Dream.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5 first.

Ponca, July 1939. Arcade Hotel.

Fran and Polistra are getting ready for an evening in the hotel's club.

Fran: Quit fidgeting, silly.

Pol: I'm not fidgeting.

Fran: Yes you are.

Pol: Am not.

Fran: Listen hon, you came back to this decade to soak up some civilization, so you shouldn't fight it. Ladies should dress like ladies, and men should dress like men. Maintaining standards of dress and behavior is a big part of civilization. You know that, but you're forgetting it.

Pol: Right. I'm sorry.

Fran: That's better. Not long now ... just need to take in this seam a bit more.

Pol: Mighty handy, having a club right here in the hotel.

Fran: Yeah, but I rarely use it. Not much fun sitting alone, and it's often reserved by the oilmen and such. I'd rather listen to the radio in the evening.

Fran: The club is Mr Wentz's own design. He had an artist build those lamps based on the Osage tribe's battle shield.

Pol: Excellent art, and excellent piano playing.

Fran: That's Nicodemus Carr. He's here every weekday evening, playing colored spirituals and such.

Pol: Steal away to Jesus, isn't it?

Fran: Composed here in Oklahoma. Bet you didn't know that.

Pol: I thought it was a lot older?

Fran: Ah, but Oklahoma is a lot older than most people think. Steal Away was written -- rather composed -- around 1840 by Uncle Wallace Willis, a colored slave owned by a Choctaw cotton farmer near Doakstown. He also wrote Swing Low and a few others. Apparently a reverend at the Choctaw mission heard him singing these songs, wrote them down and sent them to a music school in New York that was collecting spirituals. It's possible that the songs had an earlier origin, but they hadn't been heard or written down anywhere else so Uncle Wallace Willis got the credit.

Pol: Those spirituals are still around in my time, but they don't get heard much on radio or TV. The black churches

Fran: Colored churches. 'Black' is impolite.

Pol: Oops. The colored churches still sing them with plenty of gusto, but the effort to mix them into a truly American form of classical music is long gone.

Fran: So Dvorak's work, Scott Joplin's work, Aaron Copland's work, Gershwin's work, Paul Whiteman's work, all for naught?

Pol: Yup. Some of those pieces are performed by stiff tuxedo-style classical orchestras, and rich audiences listen dutifully, but there's no new composition at all, and no fun allowed, no improvising. It's sort of fossilized.

Fran: I need a drink.

Pol: Better now?

Fran: Sort of.

Pol: Oddly enough, the Romantic tradition moved to the Orient. Chinese and Korean composers are writing new music that sounds like Copland with a local flavor.

Fran: How about popular music? It's always changing.

Pol: Yes, but even pop music has frozen up some in the last decade or two. You expect pop music to change fast enough that youngsters can always shock their parents, but it really hasn't changed much from 1988 to 2008. The kids listen to the very latest band, but they also listen to music from twenty years earlier without considering it hopelessly square, because it's not all that different.

Pop is basically divided into two categories: Rock and Rap. Rock is mainly favored by white youngsters. It's ultimately derived from swing, but you couldn't tell that by listening. Imagine putting a microphone inside the engine compartment of a Model T without a muffler, out of oil, running uphill in low gear on a hot day with the radiator boiling over. Toss a dozen cats inside the engine compartment where they can get caught in the fan belt and scorched on the manifold and shocked by the magneto, then amplify the whole mess up to a volume that will shake the plaster off a wall. Play this inside an apartment, or through a car radio at full volume. That's rock.

Fran: And the other?

Pol: Rap is mainly favored by bla- I mean colored youngsters. It's much quieter than rock, and oddly enough more old-fashioned in its sound. Not too far from the vaudeville tradition, where the instruments are playing a tune but the singer mainly recites.

Fran: Sprachgesang.

Pol: Bless you.

Fran: No, Wagner called it that. Sprachgesang means speak-singing. But you emphasized in its sound?

Pol: Yes. The words are a long long way from Gilbert & Sullivan or Fibber & Molly. The words are mainly cussing of the worst kind, and between the cuss words they are ordering the listener to do all sorts of criminal things. Kill policemen, rape women, kill politicians, you name it.

Fran: I shouldn't have asked. What accounts for all this freezing, do you think?

Pol: I think it's a case of too much variety. When you turn on the radio, you have, what, four networks available on the broadcast band?

Fran: Yeah, plus local stations often have live music by local performers, and locally done drama programs and poetry.

Pol: Okay. If you stick with CBS, for example, you can hear news, live classical music, live popular music, scholarly discussions, drama, comedy, advice, without ever changing the frequency. Right?

Fran: Right. And the same sort of variety on the other networks.

Pol: And when you pick up a newspaper, you can read solid news, look at serious art, serious poetry, along with gossip on the ladies' page. Right?

Fran: Right. They want to please as many of their customers as possible.

Pol: That's the key. In my time we have another broken circle, but this one isn't broken by using slave labor in foreign countries; it's broken by a huge variety of radio and TV and other outlets. If you don't want to hear classical music, you can avoid it entirely. If you don't want to read poetry, you can easily find a paper that will never sully your eyes with good verse, will give you only poorly written articles about celebrities.

Fran: But that sounds like a good thing.

Pol: Yes, it does in theory. But it turned out bad. In the '30s a good painter or writer can seek a mass audience. He can try to make pictures or novels that will be understood by most literate people. And if he does, he'll be paid reasonably well.

Fran: Norman Rockwell. Edgar Guest.

Pol: Yes. Or a good orchestra can be heard on CBS, and make good money from the performance. This has two effects: exposes the audience, especially the youngsters, to good material; and compels the poet or orchestra to turn out works with broad appeal if they expect to make a living. In the 2000's, because everyone can find exactly their own preferred "diet" of art, music and writing, there's no pull toward universality. The artist and his loyal audience become inbred; he creates only for the folks who already like his kind of stuff. This freezes him into ever-increasing specialization. He knows there's no money in the universal, no point in trying something different; he has to keep doing more and more of what his fans want.

Fran: I'll confess I've wished for a specialized radio station at times. Guess I'll stop wishing!

Fran: And now, ladies and gentlemen ... at the other end of the tent, behold the Goddess of Oil!

Pol: Oh! Magnificent. Utterly lovely, and another good mixture of classical and modern.

Fran: Well?

Pol: Okay, so I'm predictable. In 2008, real paintings and sculptures are appreciated by some, but no longer created by anyone. Because of the loss of common connection, the loss of the public square, artists have gone off in weird directions and the people who pay for art don't know to ask for anything better. So the result, as I mentioned the other day, is a cruel joke. And I mean that literally. Artists and sculptors get paid millions to create public statuary, and they work hard, stretch their imagination as far as it will go, to viciously mock the people who pay the bill, to rub the people's faces in nastiness.

Fran: For example?

Pol: Since this is a cartoon, I can show you instead of telling you. Watch:

Fran: What in the name of heaven? An elephant trap? Railroad trestle on a crutch?

Pol: You're not supposed to ask what it represents. This was a very expensive public sculpture built in Kansas, commissioned by the university. The real thing was ten times this size, large enough to crush a bungalow. It was placed in a residential area in Lawrence where

Goddess: Aaaaggghh! I can't stand it!

Pol: Oh dear. I'm terribly sorry.

Goddess: I may not know much about art, but I know what I am. I'm art, and this thing isn't art.

Pol: I'll take it away.

Goddess: Much better.

Goddess: Thank you. Remember, civilization is a delicate thing.

Pol: Yes. Those modern artists know it. That's exactly why they break it. Brutal art is an explicit part of the Communist plan to weaken civilization.

Continued in Part 7 here.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Footnote 1:

The Goddess of Oil. She was not really built in Ponca in '39. She was planned in Tulsa in 1941. A small model was made, but Pearl Harbor intervened before a full-size statue could be built. An effort is now underway to build the statue, led by the grandson of the woman who posed for the original "prototype". I discussed this in detail a month ago.

Footnote 2: I had originally written a salute to Prof Lysle Mason as a second footnote. Later decided to separate it out because it deserves its own link. Here's the tribute to Mason.

Footnote 3: (Feb 2015) I've self-censored the 'artistic nude' to avoid Blogspot's new idiot censorship.
Monday, August 11, 2008
  Schultz's point

A while back I observed that the uniformity of commentators had switched. Until about two years ago, the D media were predictable mechanical followers of official talking points, while the R media were somewhat more independent. Now it's the other way around.

Good example this morning.

Tuned into Rush's substitute, heard him talking about Edwards, falling back into the same old tired 10-year-old business about Clinton and Monica, it's not just sex, etc.

Tuned into Ed Schultz, who is more or less the D opposite of Rush. Schultz is outside the recorded message. Instead of defending Edwards and saying it is just sex, as you'd expect, he says Edwards is an all-around slimeball, and character does matter. If Dems want to defeat the Republican Bathhouse, they need to be comparatively clean. (And I might add, the newer generation of Dem candidates are in fact cleaner than the Republican Bathhouse.)

Schultz also makes an interesting speculative point: If Edwards had openly admitted the affair earlier, Hillary would have the nomination right now. Why? Because Edwards and Hillary were competing for the same primary voters, a group that wasn't going to vote for Obama in any case.

= = = = =

Later: quite a few others have made that point now. Leads me to wonder.... All the insiders in politics and journalism knew about Edwards's affair. Many of them have now stated that they knew but held back. Why? Especially, why did Hillary's campaign operatives hold back? The Clintons are world-class experts in media manipulation. Releasing this story a year ago would have at least removed Edwards from front-runner status, thus making Hillary's campaign path much easier. Simple incompetence? Or some kind of Mutually Assured Destruction in the war of blackmail and extortion?

= = = = =

And later again: Apparently there is some kind of unwritten rule that you shouldn't expose info about another candidate in your own party, because this will give the opposite party more dirt to use.

This is a fantastically stupid rule for three separate reasons:

(1) Using the information will eliminate Edwards from the nomination. After that, the R party won't be able to use the info against him because he won't be the nominee of your party. Thus you might as well use it.

(2) Everyone knew about this. Therefore you could safely assume that the brand-R blackmailers weren't going to use this dirt for idiotic reasons of their own. So you might as well use it.

(3) Presidents are supposed to show leadership. Presidents are not supposed to be saints. By withholding this info, Hillary's people may have increased their credits on the heavenly ledger, but they failed to advance their own cause, thus failed to show leadership.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
  Pitiful helpless tiger

Gruzya (Georgia) has done quite a bit to help us; has sacrificed some of its own troops to aid us in Iraq, and given us military base rights. Now that Gruzya is in trouble, will we help them? Nope.

Will other small countries want us as an ally from now on? Nope.

This goes back to the bizarre shared delusion that "Bush is a right-wing cowboy". Our brand-R and brand-D talking point heads agree on this, with different flavors of course. Brand-R cheers his "cowboyness" and brand-D hates it. Brand-D claims that we are losing allies because Bushitler is a wild-eyed gunslinger who throws around American power at a drop of the sombrero.

Unfortunately Bush is not a right-wing cowboy. He is an Episcopalian tea-sipper, and his loyalties are with Russia and Arabia. We are losing allies because we're stupid and weak. If we were smart and strong, we'd have lots of allies.

= = = = =

Here's a brief segment of an interview with Sheikh Osama in 2002, from "Messages to the World", page 109.

Q: ... by what logic can an organization like al-Qaeda defeat the USA militarily?

UBL: People used to ask us: "How will you defeat the Soviet Empire?" And at that time, the Soviet Empire was a mighty power that scared the whole world -- NATO used to shake in fear of the Soviet Empire. So where now is that strong force that Allah sent to us and our mujahidin brothers?

The Soviet Empire has become, with Allah's grace, a figment of the imagination. Today there is no more Soviet Empire; it split into smaller states and only Russia is left. So the One Allah, who sustained us with one of His helping Hands and stabilized us to defeat the Soviet Empire, is capable of sustaining us again and allowing us to defeat America on the same land, and with the same sayings. So we believe that the defeat of America is something achievable ... and it is easier for us than the defeat of the Soviet Empire previously.

= = = = =

Meet Allah's helping hands.

= = = = =

Later addendum for clarity, not that it matters:

I'm not saying we should roar in and take Gruzya's side. We shouldn't. The problem is that the Bush/Wilson "moral" approach, the idea that our job is to force all nations into democracy, has placed us in a position where consistency and "morality" would seem to require us to roar in and help. If we had taken more care of our own self-sufficiency, worried more about the strength of our own culture and families and industry, we wouldn't be dependent on Russia and China. We'd have more room to pressure them in economic and technological ways, as Reagan did. This wouldn't guarantee that Russia wouldn't try to retake its old empire, but it would save us from the appearance of weakness, and it would make Russia's empire less attractive by comparison.

= = = = =

Update: Wolf Blitzer on CNN just interviewed the president of Gruzya, who clearly knows how to hit the right buttons. He said "This is not just about Georgia; it is now a matter of international human rights." Speaking directly to Bush/Wilson's international "morality" fetish.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
  Nuff said, 2

"Greyhound has scrapped an ad campaign that extolled the relaxing upside of bus travel after one of its passengers was accused of beheading and cannibalizing another traveler."

Greyhound was rolling out a new ad campaign in Canada, with billboards saying "There's a reason you've never heard of Bus Rage!"

Unfortunately, the campaign was interrupted by Vince Weiguang Li... Thirty-seven passengers were aboard the Greyhound from Edmonton to Winnipeg as it traveled at night along a desolate stretch of the TransCanada Highway ... Witnesses said Li attacked McLean unprovoked, stabbing him dozens of times. As horrified passengers fled the bus, Li severed McLean's head, displaying it to some of the passengers outside the bus. A police officer at the scene reported seeing the attacker hacking off pieces of the victim's body and eating them.

Aha! Now you've heard of Bus Rage!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
  Talk vs Do

The most important division in Congress is not D vs R but Talk vs Do.

In the last couple of weeks we've seen the Do Party emerging in a public way. Both houses have a bipartisan group advocating a reasonably complete solution to the energy problem. In the lower house the "gang of 22", and in the upper house the "gang of 10". These groups are mainly from the middle of the country, where action is always preferred to words.

Yesterday the Talk Party held its own press conference on C-Span, in which a bipartisan coalition of party hacks advocated a more conventional solution: D blames everything on R, R blames everything on D, nothing ever happens.

There's a strange paradox here. The Talk Party hacks are so totally locked into mutual blackmail and extortion, so disgustingly bathed in filth and corruption, so intensely focused on internal power games, that they don't understand the actual power in their hands. Congress can regain its credibility, and members can regain their seats, by solving problems. Normal and sane politicians (i.e. the Do Party) understand this basic equation. You keep power by serving the voters. Should be obvious to everyone, but it isn't.

Now that Paris Hilton has come out firmly for the Do side, we may finally get some action!
Sunday, August 03, 2008
  Karaoke bar

A cute public-service ad, aiming to discourage drinking among teens, tells the story of Jason. Jason is in a karaoke bar; he gets up on stage and makes a fool of himself in a dozen ways, etc. The ad concludes: "How can you tell that Jason is wasted? First of all, he's in a karaoke bar."

Nice bit of logic.

How can we tell that Jean Duley is a false accuser? First of all, she's a social worker.

Look to the black heart of every recent witch hunt from Edenton to Wenatchee to San Angelo and you'll find a social worker. It's their job.

= = = = =

An interesting split in media coverage:

The old media like CBS and the WashPost are strongly questioning the validity of the Ivins case, featuring many of his colleagues who know what he could have done, not just what he might have wanted to do. His colleagues say that he had neither the motive nor the opportunity to commit the 2001 anthrax attack.

The cable gossip networks like CNN Headline News are simply taking Jean Duley's "testimony" as absolute fact. She claims Ivins bought a gun and a bulletproof vest. Well, did he? Should be easy enough to check, but nobody seems to have checked. She claims he wanted to "go out in a blaze of glory". Well, he didn't. He went out quietly. Nobody seems to have noticed this little difference. She claims that he strongly resented her questioning. Well, an innocent man would strongly, even violently, resent being questioned by a KGB apparatchik, would resent being sucked down into a maelstrom of falsehood.

My hypothesis at this point: Because Ivins helped to analyze the microbes after the attack, he knew something. That's why he was dangerous.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
  Information vs data

"Marriage is like a one-way street ... by the time people start telling you to turn around, it's too late to back out." ---- Abbott and Costello

I've been pondering this bit of wisdom. My own hippie-era marriage was a good example. If I had known more about the proper rules for choosing mates beforehand, I would have seen the warning sign and backed out earlier. The experimental data, so to speak, emerged after the damage was done.

And if I had known earlier that termites were in fact common around Spokane, I would have checked the many available sources of data, and would have determined that my "ant problem" was in fact a termite problem. When I bought this house in 1991, friends told me that termites are non-existent here, and even the house inspector told me the same thing. When he found a chewed-up piece of wood under the house, he assured me that it was probably carpenter ants, nothing to worry about, because termites couldn't survive here.

More broadly, the whole process of buying a house and getting a loan is so thoroughly fenced in by discrimination laws and litigation on all sides that realtors and inspectors are effectively required to give only a limited range of data. They are not allowed to give common-sense advice on the characteristics of the neighborhood, because that may require making racial judgments. They are not allowed to ask whether you should be buying a house at all. I suspect this lawsuit-bound reticence is part of the subprime mortgage mess.

We have so much data available today that we've forgotten the importance of information. They're not the same.

Rumsfeld's discussion of known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns, and unknown knowns is widely parodied but valid, and it needs to be expressed in a clearer form, like this: Sometimes you know the proper question and you've already answered it. Sometimes you know the proper question and you haven't managed to find the answer yet. Sometimes you don't understand the situation well enough to form a proper question.
Friday, August 01, 2008
  Define 'man', 3

I've quoted a brief story from the WPA Guide to Oklahoma, illustrating the function and meaning of a man.

Here's a longer and more literary story with the same point.

Download this PDF file and go to page 43.
  Abercrombie and Peterson

The collaboration of Neil Abercrombie and John Peterson to push for energy independence is the best news in a long time.

Peterson has been working this point steadily and loudly forever, which makes sense for a coal-country congressman.

Abercrombie's role is more novel and interesting. Hawaii doesn't have a dog in the fight, so to speak, but nevertheless Abercrombie has decided to serve the people of America. Since he has solid leftist credentials, his strong advocacy will put other leftist members (including Pelosi) in an uncomfortable position.

The plan includes offshore drilling, coal-to-gas, and oil shale. It doesn't support nuclear plants directly. Instead it removes the most serious obstacle to nuclear: the disposal of waste. We've been stuck in endless and pointless litigation about using Yucca Mountain in Nevada to store leftover uranium waste. This makes as much sense as litigation over a defense contract to make breech-loading muskets. France has already perfected waste recycling ... which was originally invented here, but abandoned and forbidden by Soviet Agent Jimmy Carter. The A & P proposal would require the government to stop arguing about an obsolete method, and simply follow France.

One of the authors, Shelley Capito of WV, says:

We have been working on this for about a month. There have been no lobbyists and no special interests. We have been writing this ourselves, and that is the way it should be. We've found common ground because we all realize the U.S. is unloading a lot of energy dollars overseas. We also all realize it is becoming a security issue. ... Leadership will not put forward an energy bill because they are absolutely opposed to off-shore drilling. They know they would lose. There are enough Democrats, Republicans and Americans who think we need to be reliant on ourselves. ... If we can't drill for oil and we don't want coal or nuclear energy, we have no pathway to energy independence.

Maybe there's a faint scrap of hope for us after all.
  Anthrax again

With Hatfill I knew instantly and solidly that the persecution was completely wrong, a classic Fed distraction move. I don't have such a solid feeling about Ivins, but I don't buy it yet.

We're hearing a lot about Ivins's personality, which sounds typical of ambitious intellectuals. What we're not hearing is any actual evidence, nor anything that would imply a motive. He apparently got sloppy about decontamination once. How does that connect with a complex plot to kill many people? A "suicide" gives the Feds a convenient reason to close the case immediately, with no further release of evidence.

= = = = =

Later: found myself listening to Randi Rhodes, because she was the only talker discussing the case. Rhodes is pointing to another line of inquiry, involving Fouad el-Hibri, the head of a company that produces anthrax vaccine. El-Hibri was born in Germany of Lebanese descent, later working for Citibank in Arabia. His vaccine company, now called Emergent BioSolutions, had samples of the same anthrax strain used in the attack; after the attack, his company gained official status as a defense contractor. Google finds a long line of articles, starting around 1997, about his dubious connections, including lots of circumstantial connections to the attack. His political contributions are widespread and bipartisan, with special focus on Norm Coleman of Minnesota for some reason.

I've never heard of this company under any of its names; it's never been covered at all by our Saudi-owned media. Not surprising. I'll be listening more to Rhodes from now on, since she's the only available talker who agrees with my basic assessment of this war. Namely, that our attacker is Saudi Arabia with assistance from Germany, and that our ruling class has carefully misdirected our response toward Iraq and Afghanistan.

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