Sunday, April 30, 2006

Moderate Party - Part II

It does not look good for a new political party to put up a spiffy website and then .. not answer the email address on their contact page. It looks less good when their only candidate's web page 404s.
host_~/ whois

Private Property

Blogger Eric is peeved that a mall exercised their rights as property owners.
From my perspective as an audience member, I did not interpret the shirts as something political aside from it being an indicator at best that they probably didn't vote for the guy.
However wearing a t-shirt with the President's face and a euro 'no' symbol can't be seen as anything but political. Now .. Millard Fillmore with a euro 'no' symbol ... that would be non-political. And funny.
I spoke with one of the security guards standing nearby who while summarizing the situation mentioned that there would have been no issue with song lyrics as a matter of free speech but yet they claim the right as proprietors to intervene because of an image on a t-shirt, which could be sold in any of the stores in the mall.
This is not a matter of art and freedom, it's a private property concern. Whatever - the email that was kindly sent by Dave Farber to his IP list from Eric said in part
i ask that you forward this email to all friends that would want to know of this story particularly to those in support of the arts and freedom
And so I have. I'd only tell Eric that punctuation and proper capitalization are your friends. Which is, coming from me, a pot-kettle thing I know.

Update - you can't comment on the linked page above, but you can comment (on Eric's blog) here.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

United 93

Dave has a kick-ass review of United 93;
Many reviewers are calling United 93 an empty vessel. They say that its documentarian, "you are there"-style renders it neutral, renders it bereft of anything to say about September 11th. That ultimately, what you take out of the movie is what you brought into it, i.e. your current, circa 2006 opinion of the events of that day, and everything that's happened since then-- the wars, the politics, etc.

I think that conclusion is largely true, as Greengrass just gives us the events of that day and nothing else, no framing devices to put us on a side of the debate.

That said, how anyone can watch United 93 and walk away from it without the realization that September 11th was a declaration of war against not just the United States, but every American-- how anyone can do that escapes me. You want to spend all your time arguing the details about how best to fight back against these evil men, that's all fine and good. United 93 shows us that at least for the passengers and crew of one plane, there was no time for a parlor debate, there was no time to anguish over deliberations, there was no time for "nuance" and equivocation. They were attacked, they fought back, they died. . . and they certainly saved countless others from a fate similar to those in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

They were heroes, they are heroes, and hopefully enough people see United 93 to remember and honor who these people were.

United 93 is the best movie of 2006 so far, and I can't fathom how any film this year can be more powerful than this one.

Seriously, This Movie Is A Punch In The Gut: Think of the movie that made an emotional wreck of you the most-- Schindler's List, Old Yeller, Love Story, whatever.

Multiply that by ten. Then another ten.

The grind begins at the very beginning of the film. I was shaking my legs for a long part of it in nervous anticipation. Once the planes start getting hijacked, things started getting worse for me.

Then they cut to the CNN footage of the Pentagon smoking.

It hit me-- I was in that building on September 7th, 2001. I'm returning to work in that building on Monday.

Then, the passengers of Flight 93 began their phone calls to make their goodbyes. It took everything I had in me to keep from losing it then.

I won't lie to you-- United 93 is the toughest film I've ever sat through, tougher than anything.

But it was worth it.

Okay. But I don't want to see a punch-in-the-gut movie. I had enough of that watching Saving Private Ryan, thank-you-very-much, I know we're at war, that there are people who would, for the promise of paradise, kill me and mine and not think twice.

But I want to cast my economic vote for movies like this. Hollywood just does not make enough movies like this. What to do ..
I am ... thinking seriously about walking up to the box office, buying my ticket, and going home. I’m thinking very seriously about that indeed.
Good idea, Jeff.

Evolution of the Engine

I think Michah is using a lot of big words - which is okay because he is obviously an intelligent guy and he uses them well - to say that it's past time we stopped fiddle fraking around with dinky heat engines and started using the simply awesome energies that are flowing by us daily to expand our civilization.
We now understand that we live on the surface of a giant gravitational engine that is continuously emitting thermal radiation and electromagnetic fields and that that giant gravitational engine is revolving around a much larger thermonuclear fire ball that is constantly bombarding us with a large spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. We are swimming in a see of energy. What is called for is an intelligent putting to work of that energy as we alter the human-machine civilization and its environment toward Telos.

Right. I have in mind a really keen system that uses the earth's gravity to hurl cargo into space via an improbable ribbon. I even know some guys that want to build one.
This is now beginning to take place through the construction of apparatus capable of transforming solar radiation into electricity and other more usable forms of energy such as ethanol an hydrogen. As this transformation takes place in the coming decade human economic activity will be fundamentally altered because the energy that powers technological change will no longer be a scarce commodity but will be virtually unlimited – thereby making the speed at which change is possible virtually unlimited.


Click here for a snapshot of your life in 1905. Enter your gender and your father's profession and see for yourself.

Brian Dunbar- you are a boilermaker!

You'll leave school at 16 and will go straight into the job which you'll do for the rest of your working life.

Career Prospects
You'll work as a boilermaker. With your fellow union members, you'll strike to
campaign for better working conditions and better pay but will be
disappointed by the slow rate of change.

Leisure Time
You'll spend a lot of time in the local pub - ale and porter (heavy beer) are
cheap. You'll read the newspaper as often as possible - you enjoy
reading stories about upper class extravagance and waste, they only
confirm your worst fears. You'll join a football team made up of other
workers and will play matches every weekend.

Living Conditions
Your wife and daughters will look after the home and do much of the shopping
at the back door. Meat will be a special treat for Sundays but
otherwise you'll have a diet of bread, with cheese or butter, margarine
or jam, lard or beef dripping.

Marital Relations
You'll be unfaithful to your wife whenever you get the chance.

World War One
You'll join the Navy as a stoker in the boiler room and will be killed at sea at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The past was not a Golden Age.

Via Man About Mayfair

Friday, April 28, 2006


Q: How did Mary's little lamb get to Mars?

A: On a rocket sheep.



Quoting Soni
What happens when you combine RSS feeds of the most popular, consensus-filtered sites and media into a single, metafilter portal?, that's what.

I am not sure if it's good for anything but it is eye catching.


Fred takes up manhood and the urge to go and do.
I have no fantasies about shooting anyone. I have seen enough of that for one lifetime. I don’t hunt, having no desire to kill anything I don’t have to kill. I don’t need to pose with a rifle. Having carried one in the Marine Corps, I do not regard them as exotic. But when you are far from anywhere, you provide your own security. I am comfortable with the idea. So are a lot of men. In today’s suburban, mall-ridden world security is what answers 911.

Women are realists pretending to be romantics, and men, romantics pretending to be realists. Yes. The male desire is to explore, to fly higher and higher, to invent and dare and go and see. The Apollo landings were not inspired by a desire to know the nature of lunar rocks. A man does not get on a rice-burning crotch-rocket on a desert road in Arizona and scream through the hot vastness, wap-wap-wap through the gears, 95, 105, 120…125 (go baby, get it on, do it for me), because it is particularly practical. It is the sheer glory of the thing, the speed and power, controlled but on the edge.

And now he wakes at five-thirty for the two-hour commute from Fredericksburg to Washington in crawling traffic, then to his cubicle at Agriculture where he tracks soybean yields in North Carolina. For his entire life.

It is not what men are wired to do. We just do not domesticate well. While male behavior is perhaps no more inherently absurd than female, it has little application to the suburbs and bureaucratic salt mines.

Exactly so. Why a space elevator? It might mean cheap access to space and an endless frontier. At any road working for Liftport beats the snot out of sitting back and just waiting for someone to come along and make things better.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


To the cat or dog that left the dead mouse under my bed;

I understand that you wish to show your appreciation by leaving food for me where I can find it. But next time, please, a purr or tail wag (as appropriate to your species) will suffice.

Thank you.

Guilt Free Fossil-Fuel Usage

Chad Lupkes from Seattle sent this link
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory are studying a simple, cost effective method for extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air — which could allow sustained use of fossil fuels while avoiding potential global climate change.

"Fossil fuel supplies are plentiful, and what will limit the usage of fossil fuels is the potential climatic and ecosystem changes you may see as a result of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere," said Los Alamos researcher Manvendra Dubey. "If you can capture atmospheric carbon dioxide, then you limit the environmental impact of fossil fuels and you can continue to use them. We have come up with a way to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide that we are putting in the atmosphere. Our approach is particularly well suited to capturing CO2 from numerous small sources such as automobiles that are largely being ignored."

While many scientists are working on capturing or sequestering carbon, Dubey and his colleagues' method differs because it works on a dilute stream of CO2 in the atmosphere as opposed to capturing more concentrated forms found in power plant exhausts. The method uses ordinary air with its average carbon dioxide concentration of about 370 parts per million.
Guilt free fossil-fuel use - awesome.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Centuri0n from ' ... and his minsters a flame of fire' takes up the question of atheism and compassion.
Now hear me clearly: the question is not, “does the atheist feel compassion?” I would bet you that the atheist undoubtedly would feel compassion, and does feel compassion. There is no doubt that the atheist is not a Vulcan ascetic with no feeling and only logic to guide him in his choices about what to do. I am sure the atheist, faced with this woman as she was walking down the street, would feel something called “compassion” and, if he was not in a hurry, he’d do something about that feeling. He’s not Stalin or Nietzsche because he’s late for a meeting any more than the Christian in the same situation with the same day behind him and ahead of him who did nothing would be Torquemada.

Indeed: the question happens to be: “How do you manifest compassion to those who are unlike you?” Because it is very easy to manifest compassion to other American white middle-class people with college educations most of the time – they are just like us, and we have a lot of the same points of reference. You need a penny? I got a penny. You need a job? I know a guy. You’re having a mid-life crisis and you’re wondering if you should have been a doctor or a painter or a writer or a bar keep? Dude: shut up and cut your grass and tell your wife you love her, and mean it – don’t be stupid and throw out what you have for what you think might have been better in some way.

But what happens when we run into, for example, this girl who is nothing like us except that she is another human being? She’s not smart – so she’s not going to get our jokes. She’s also not very equipped to handle commercial responsibility – so you can’t really get her a “better job”. She’s also not as ridiculously-complicated as we are – so she probably doesn’t even comprehend some of what motivates our compassion for her from an atheist perspective. How do we decide how to offer her compassion?
A mini-essay worth reading - the fellow makes some good points and in a very readable manner. Where does compassion come from and how does it (if you will) flow downhill?

I have no answers - only an observation: Those who do not profess a religion are less compassionate to those perceived as beneath them socially or economically.

I do not say this is a Universal Truth, only a general observation. Note also that no one I call an acquaintance or friend (virtual or in real space) falls into this category - but I am choosy about the people I associate with.



See Casey and Andy for you thrice-weekly dose of geeky comic goodness.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


From Hugh Macleod


your traffic.jpg

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Negative Income Tax

Negative Income Tax - an idea by  many, lately bandied about by Charles Murray.

Start with a $10,000 minimum payment/benefit for those making $25,000 or less, decreasing with income to $5000 at $50,000 a year.

The basic idea is that the United States has wealth, and plenty of it. It just isn't being disbursed right. Instead of a helping the people who need it the monies go (for example) to self-perpetuating organizations who have no vested interest in helping their clients escape their clutches. No other benefits - you get the 10k and make the best of it.

Why not treat adults as if they were adults and see what happens?



Link2 (his new book)

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5

Link 6



The Moderate Party looks interesting. Possibly short on firery passion (Vote Moderate - The Party of 'Meh') but ... I'm down with partisan bickering and up with practical politics

The Voice of Reason

In response to Joe Huffman posting Michelle Malkin's address and home number this genial brian-child from the Left posted on his blog
I would very much enjoy raping that little pinay bitch with a broken beer bottle. If that should indeed happen, you know where to find me, gook-lover.
Right. What's the line that bit from that epic Leftie song, 'Abraham, Martin and John' by Emmylou Harris?

At the dairyline in Chicago
A fat man in front of me
He's calling black people trash to his children
And he's the only trash here I see
And I'm thinking this man wears a white hood
In the night when his children should sleep
But they'll slip to their windows and see him
They'll think that white hood's all they need

Got your hood, anonymous boy?

Update: Joe did not post Michelle's information. He did post a clever honeypot. Just so we're clear that Joe is one of the good guys.


Jason Coleman offers a scanned in absentee ballot request from New Orleans.
A few weeks ago, the Louisians Secretary of State's office sent out a 4 page document entitled "Municipal Elections Information" within the document was a form to request an absentee ballot by mail.
Take a look at page three, here's an excerpt

Do yo see it?

Take a look again. . . .

Do you see it now????

Ok here you go:

Anything that would positively establish identity is OPTIONAL INFORMATION. Yep, that's right, optional. I could easily fill out this form, get my ballot, send it in; and I haven't lived in New Orleans in over a decade.


Friday, April 21, 2006


The complete works of Rudyard Kipling. Online. Drool.

Gobless the internet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


A large group of Taliban soldiers are moving down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a sand dune. “One Marine is better than ten Taliban.”

The Taliban commander quickly sends 10 of his best soldiers over the dune whereupon a gun battle breaks and continues for a few minutes, then silence.

The voice then calls out “One Marine is better than one hundred Taliban.”

Furious, the Taliban commander sends his next best 100 troops over the dune and instantly a huge gunfight commences. After 10 minutes of battle, again silence.

The American voice calls out again “One Marine is better than one thousand Taliban.”

The enraged Taliban Commander musters one thousand fighters and sends them across the dune. Cannons, rockets and machineguns ring out as a huge battle is fought. Then silence.

Eventually one wounded Taliban fighter crawls back over the dune and with his dying words tells his commander, “Don’t send any more men, it’s a trap. There’s actually two of them.”

Thinking Ahead

It's not all about engineering and shiny birds soaring into the sky.
Space Couture Design Contest supported by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is now being held. Prior to the contest, Eri Matsui, chairperson of the contest committee, designed a wedding dress which looks beatiful both under gravity and zero-gravity (picture on the left: under gravity, right: under zero-gravity). Her design stimulates our dream that we may get married in space soon.

Have to admire their foresight. When the first marriage happens 'up there' they'll be ready.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I want this guy on my side in the court room.

No, not the guy in giving the deposition, Joe Jamail, on the right.

"Why don't you try it, you DUMB SUNNOFFAA-BITCH."
"We'll see about it."

Three Words

Via The Speculist comes a bleak short story by Dan Simmons.
I tried to relax. “What do you want to talk about?” I said.

“The Century War,” said the Time Traveler.

I blinked and tried to remember some history. “You mean the Hundred Year War? Fifteenth Century? Fourteenth? Sometime around there. Between . . . France and England? Henry V? Kenneth Branagh? Or was it . . .”

“I mean the Century War with Islam,” interrupted the Time Traveler. “Your future. Everyone’s.” He was no longer smiling. Without asking, or offering to pour me any, he stood, refilled his Scotch glass, and sat again. He said, “It was important to me to come back to this time early on in the struggle. Even if only to remind myself of how unspeakably blind you all were.”

“You mean the War on Terrorism,” I said.

“I mean the Long War with Islam,” he said. “The Century War. And it’s not over yet where I come from. Not close to being over.”

“You can’t have a war with Islam,” I said. “You can’t go to war against a religion. Radical Islam, maybe. Jihadism. Some extremists. But not a . . . the . . . religion itself. The vast majority of Muslims in the world are peaceloving people who wish us no harm. I mean . . . I mean . . . the very word ‘Islam’ means ‘Peace.’”

“So you kept telling yourselves,” said the Time Traveler. His voice was very low but there was a strange and almost frightening edge to it. “But the ‘peace’ in ‘Islam’ means ‘Submission.’ You’ll find that out soon enough”

It goes on. Gets worse. The scenario can't happen of course. We'd never allow it. Never, never never.


You need only look to what is happening in Europe now, extrapolate (If This Goes On) and voila - Simmons' future. Not fleets but an army of immigres.

Couldn't happen? Maybe. But do realize that thousands - a low number - live under de facto Sharia law in Europe. An entire culture pays lip service to a minority religion upon pain of riot, murder and mayhem.

Ask the chain restaurant who withdrew a confection because the flavor swirl on the top looked like the Prophet. Ask the people who can't (for the love of Jesus and A.A. Milne) have mugs with "Piglet' on them because the image of a pig offends. Ask that guy who was murdered in the streets for an 'offensive' film that showed less explicit sex than your average episode of 'The Sopranos'.

Ask 'Cartoon Network' about self-censorship.

Can't happen here? Probably not. But we're blind if we don't see the hazards 'If This Goes On ..'

Monday, April 17, 2006

Liftport - A Source of Comfort

That is what blogger DK claims.

A further source of comfort to this sceptic is the regular newsletters that he receives from The Liftport Group, a consortium of private companies whose object is to built the first space elevator (a project that finally became feasible last year when the announcement of a a viable process for the construction of carbon nanotube ribbon was announced). The date that they have set is April 12, 2018.

The elevator—which would, in turn, allow the even easier and cheaper construction of successive elevators—is important; it would open up the whole of the solar system and beyond to us since spacecraft would no longer need to escape the Earth's gravity well (wherein most of the energy is used). It would allow us new resources and, more importantly, ensure our survival when, as it will, that ultimate meteorite strike happens.

Mankind may not be, in the words of a commentor at Robert's, "as bright as it thinks it is" but I believe that it is quite bright enough to solve those problems which need to be solved.

So there you have it. The proof is in the pudding. Or mail list. And a new slogan is coined for the Dawn of the 21st Century:

Liftport - a Source of Comfort

God love the Scot turn of the phrase.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Birthday

The bikini - 60 years old today. God bless you Louis Réard.

Micheline Bernardini - you have a place in our hearts as well.



From Cardboard Spaceship
Well, I enjoyed the planet while it lasted, and it puts it in perspective that I`m kinda wistful for the good old days when the opposition was the Russians, who at least knew how to play chess.

I watched Dr Strangelove again the other night, it`s looking more and more like a documentary.

That is certainly one way to think about it. It lacks perspective, however. A Russians v. American war could kill billions of people and knock civilizaiton into a cocked hat. Iran? They could manage to infiltrate and destroy a few cities in exchange for our eradicating their program with nuclear weapons.

Not to say this is good but it helps to keep things in focus and not get all excited.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Michael Laine - The Space Show 4/14/06

Michael Laine was on Dr. Livingston's The Space Show on Apriil 14, 2006.

Michael Laine, CEO of LiftPort, returned as the guest for this special show. LiftPort specializes in working toward developing the space elevator concept. I urge you all to just sit back and listen to Michael. He is transformed on this program, its the best Michael Laine interview ever on The Space Show. We learn about LiftPort and its technology, the ribbons, the manufacturing process, all sorts of issues about the elevator and even tethers. Michael is frank, open, and full of interesting and revealing information. Also, he is stepping down from the CEO position and beginning a search for a new CEO. Interested parties should contact him. This is a rare and important show and you need to hear what Michael Laine has to say. Contact him at or through me at

I am - of course - biased but the show and interview was well done.

Direct audio link here (MP3 format).


Iris DeMent. I do like 'Our Town', and I love the way she plays this.

Can I be a complete guy and say that Iris looks much better than I thought when I first heard her voice?

Flying Car

Flying car. Via Dean Esmay.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Doing the Right Thing

Via The Stranger Slog comes a link to this story
WASHINGTON, April 13 — The widening circle of retired generals who have stepped forward to call for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation is shaping up as an unusual outcry that could pose a significant challenge to Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership, current and former generals said on Thursday.

How many people in a widening circle? Looks like six. Out of how many retired generals running around? Stet, leave it.

This is the point I want to make.

No one in the American military is expected to say 'yes sir' to an illegal order. You are expected to provide input to your superiors right up to the point where the order is given. Then you say 'yes sir' and shut up and soldier. This is the way it works.

More, general officers have an obligation to stand up and put their career (or lives) at risk when it's important. There is a long tradition for doing this - Doolittle over airpower in the 20s, Sims fought the entire Naval establishment to create a modern Navy at the turn of the 20th century. There were general officers who stood in the door over policy after Vietnam and paid for it.

That is why they make the big bucks - it's the price of admission for the privlege of bearing a general officer's flag.

If these guys saw problems during or before the war and didn't say anything ... they're no one I can respect.

And if you can't respect them then you might ask why anyone should pay attention to them.


On Ice


Sig Rinde was kind enough to demo Thingamy for me today. As advertised
This is no system for the timid or the ones looking for off-the-rack solutions. It requires hard work, creativity, rethinking of business models and a strong stomach, just like business should be. It can be frustrating. A system for the few.

But then you may beat the heck out of your competition. That's what the system is all about.
It certainly seems that way. I'm impressed and cautious. I'm willing to give it a whirl. It feels like ... the first organization that (if it's promise holds out) uses this is going to beat the snot out of the competition.

On a related note. Still dealing with these guys. Sadly the cutover in development didn't go as smoothly as planned, required tech support (not available on weekends) and so we're not going to do the upgrade, and will in fact bite the 'rent me' bullet.

However in the process they've managed to seriously irk everyone in our organization who deals with them. The petty krep over a deal worth a few thousand bucks. Irritating questions to our executives dealing with them. The descision for yes/no on the deal on the vendors part went ... all the way to their CEO. Over a few thousand bucks. This is a company that has been in business for over twenty years, sells software all over the world. What in the world are they thinking?

There is nothing about your brain dead software, your irksome development environment, your fucking attitude that is so endearing that we must put up with you. Your software takes input, slams it into our ERP system, manages some tables.

You can be replaced. And I know what with.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Power Tool Drag Races

From Lee comes news of ... Power Tool Drag Races!
What’s a power tool drag racer, I hear you cry? My goodness people, crawl out from under the rock and visit! See the legacy of stunning and wonderous creations from the finest in redneck engineering! Watch them career down our patented* 75-foot track to the applause and screams of children and adults scattering to get out of harm’s way!

Check out the link. There are pictures. Videos. Flag girls!

This bit from a team says it all, I think.
The track conditions tend to change a bit during a race day, from the wear of circular saw blade cuts, chain saw gouges, periodic scorching from flame throwers and burning liquids leaked on it both intentionally and unintentionally.

Sadly, it's in California - you just knew it was - and I am not.

Liftport on the Radio

Friday morning on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston, Dr.
Livingston welcomes to the program Michael Laine, President of
LiftPort. To listen to the The Space Show, visit the website here:

The Friday edition of The Space Show airs at 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CDT.

Remember - you can't spell 's-p-a-c-e e-l-e-v-a-t-o-r' and not spell LiftPort. Well, you can but why would you want to?

What happened to NASA

Dean Esmay asked

NASA, working in partnership with some of the best aerospace and high-tech companies in the world, used to be arguably most innovative organization on the planet. So what the heck happened?

What happened to the most innovative organization on the planet? The one that led humanity to our finest achievement to date?

NASA grew up. They made their goal, were feted, and then handed a bozo prize. Not to move on and explore new planets, to boldly go but .. to build a Space Truck. And not, as Von Braun wanted, as a stepping-stone to doing the next phase of exploration 'right' but .. to service a space station. That was just that. A dead end.

That is what we all wanted. It must have been - looking away and declaiming 'none of my business' is the same as saying 'yes, do that'.

We're better than that. Some of us remember. If the US Government won't support our efforts ... then we'll damn them and do it ourselves. This won't be easy, but what other choice have we?

And of course all of this is not really accurate. NASA does good work, some parts are excellent, still. JPL has hit every mark they've set and explored every planet but one. The Space Truck is a marvel of engineering - the most complicated machine ever built. And it's a gorgeous beast to boot. The space station - it works! People can live in space for months at a time.

But, guys, it's not enough. Be the bold explorers - the national will is there if you just lead the way. Some of us don't want to explore we want to exploit - we'll fill in behind where you lead.

Fair nuff?

My own views of course and not my employers. Heck, I am clearly delusional and nobody of any consequence should pay attention.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Please, please don't hurt me.

Transcripts (pdf) from United Flight 93. Via .


"When I orbited the Earth in a spaceship, I saw for the first time how beautiful our planet is. Mankind, let us preserve and increase this beauty, and not destroy it!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Libercontrarian describes the LIbertarian Party in a nutshell
They are merely Republicans who want to smoke pot, and Marxists that want anarchy, not Socialism.

Sounds right to me. I flirted with the Libertarian Party in Wisconsin. Being called a Nazi for floating the idea that land-use regulations might be a good idea in some circumstances does not, really, do a lot to build the Party base.

Niven had it right - Libertarianism is a path not a destination.


Howard Lovy blogs after a loing-ish hiatus

"We are expanding our call for a moratorium on all nanotech products to cover all products that even use nano in their name," said a spokesperson for a coalition of anti-nanotech organizations. "We believe that when it comes to scary, new technologies that we do not understand, you cannot take too many precautions.

Because you can't be too careful with scary, evil things. Peasant mentalities like this should be mocked at will.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Centralized Planning

Nantucket votes for higher prices, indifferent service.
Nantucket joined other historic tourist towns across the country in approving a measure that would ban chain stores from the island's downtown

Tacky restaurants, coffee chains, are right out.
The measure would bar any new chains with more than 14 outlets that have standardized menus, trademarks, uniforms or other homogeneous decor from opening downtown. The ban would not affect gas stations, grocery stores, banks and other service providers.

Tacky chain grocery stores, however, are just peachy keen. Because it's cool to hate Starbucks but only a monster hates IGA.

In other, perhaps non-surprising, news, Portand is discovering that centralized, rigid planning is not always a Good Thing.
Portland Oregon's highly praised (by central planning advocates) land-use planning system is breaking down. Residents are fed up with the increasing congestion, the diversion of funds from schools, fire, police, and other services to rail transit and high-density developments, the insider dealings and no-bid contracts, and unaffordable housing caused by the urban-growth boundary and restrictive land-use rules. The question is whether the region can find a way out of the hole it has dug for itself. One answer may come in upcoming city council elections.

An excellent daily report of Portland politics can be found at Lewis Clark law professor Jack Bogdanski's blog.
Like most Portlanders, Bogdanski is well left of center, so his disgust
with the planners is just one more sign that their reign is ending.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


We're in Madison, Wisconsin for Oddcon VI. Presentation in the Radisson on April 8, 9:00 p.m. sharp, 'Grand Teton' room. Come on down - if you're in the area of course.

Need I add the seemingly obligatory warning about house guests, firearms, and the folly of burglary? I didn't think so.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A space elevator blog

Ted Semon has launched a space elevator blog at 'Space Elevator Blog'

Granted it's not the catchiest title around but ... servicable and 'it just works' is a Good Thing.

Free Market

From Hard To Do Worse we discover
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is poised to launch a bid to transform the global politics of oil by seeking a deal with consumer countries which would lock in a price of $50 a barrel.

A long-term agreement at that price could allow Venezuela to count its huge deposits of heavy crude as part of its official reserves, which Caracas says would give it more oil than Saudi Arabia.

"We have the largest oil reserves in the world, we have oil for 200 years." Mr Chávez told the BBC's Newsnight programme in an interview to be broadcast tonight. "$50 a barrel - that's a fair price, not a high price."

We might assume that anyone who rises to the top of a large organization is not dim. We know - and Mr. Chavez has to know, that putting an artificial cap on a price smooshes the market. It also puts off the need to develop alternatives to whatever is scarce. Cap oil at an artificially low price and the need to develop solar, wind and other alternative power sources goes right out the window. We won't need SPS either.

So what is Mr. Chavez up to?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Steve Earle - Dixieland
I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine and I damn all gentlemen
Whose only worth is their father's name and the sweat of a workin' man
Well we come from the farms and the city streets and a hundred foreign lands
And we spilled our blood in the battle's heat
Now we're all Americans
Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, July 2, 1863
"Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!"

Monday, April 03, 2006


Fred ambles along about hornets . . .
When I think of how the control of a hornet’s legs must work (except of course that it doesn’t have to work the way I believe it must), I think in terms of sensors of angle and force, of procedures to calculate this and that. Do hornets do it this way? Maybe not. Scientists as much as other people struggle to escape their preconceptions or, more usually, don’t struggle. Many don’t seem to know that they have preconceptions.
And chances (?) upon an eternal truth.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


From Living My Life (1931) by Emma Goldman

At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world— prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. (p. 56)

If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution!

'Freedom Dance' by Laurie Cooper
Text from Wikipedia

When Non-Profits Attack

Kedrosky quotes a Times story on Craiglist.
In Sunday's paper the Times has a different take on the Craigslist story. The piece muses about how difficult it can be to compete with companies who refuse to play fair and extract the maximum they can from their chosen market. I'm not sure it's really a trend, but it's a good hook for a story about Craigslist,, and Chowhound:
These are new-media ventures that leave the competition scratching their heads because they don't really aim to compete in the first place; their creators are merely taking advantage of the economics of the online medium to do something that they feel good about. They would certainly like to cover their costs and maybe make a buck or two, but really, they're not in it for the money. By purely commercial measures, they are illogical. If your name were, say, Rupert or Sumner, they would represent the kind of terror that might keep you up at night: death by smiley face.
We might speculate what happens to other industries - coughaerospacecough - if this meme infects their industry. The high capital costs make this unlikely. Of course.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Responsibility. From the estimable Peggy Noonan

I talked to James Livingston of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a Marine, a warrior in Vietnam who led in battle in spite of bad wounds and worse odds. I told him I was wondering about something. Most of us try to be brave each day in whatever circumstances, which means most of us show ourselves our courage with time. What is it like, I asked, to find out when you're a young man, and in a way that's irrefutable, that you are brave? What does it do to your life when no one, including you, will ever question whether you have guts?

He shook his head. The medal didn't prove courage, he said. "It's not bravery, it's taking responsibility." Each of the recipients, he said, had taken responsibility for the men and the moment at a tense and demanding time. They'd cared for others. They took care of their men.


If you want to live a long life - count me in - being smart might help you dodge senile dementia.
* 17 December 2005 * Lisa Melton

RICHARD WETHERILL was intolerably good at chess. Hardly surprising, for the retired university lecturer could think a mind-boggling eight moves ahead. But in recent months, his razor-sharp mind had started to dull. When he found he could no longer think five moves ahead, he was sure something was seriously wrong and arranged to meet neurologist Nick Fox at University College London's Institute of Neurology. Though his wife dismissed his complaints, Wetherill was adamant that he needed help. Yet Fox's battery of tests revealed nothing amiss: his patient sailed through every test designed to spot early dementia. Under a brain imager, his brain looked normal.

Two years later, in 2003, Wetherill died suddenly. Imagine Fox's amazement when the autopsy revealed a brain riddled with plaques and tangles, the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The anatomical evidence indicated advanced disease, with a level of physical damage that would have reduced most people to a state of total confusion. Yet for Wetherill the only impact was that he could no longer play chess to high standards. What on earth was he doing differently? What was cushioning the blow?

Wetherill's experience is a perfect example of a phenomenon that has long puzzled scientists: people who lead more intellectually stimulating lives, who are more intelligent, better educated and have high-status occupations, are somehow protected from the mental decline that comes with age. And not just age, but other insults too, from head injuries and alcohol intoxication to stroke, HIV, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.


William Gillis finds hope
And Spider Jerusalem walks out to his terrace after typing the most aloof and vilely pessimistic chapter epilogue possible. There’s a cool breeze on his bare back and I feel it because I haven’t shut the window.

It’s the sort of resolving breeze that presses you up against the skin of the world and wipes the fractal slate clean. It’s like the charge of life and even when it brings the sting of tear gas and pissed beer it still draws the arms wide. Where the lies and false idols are stripped bare. And all that’s left is a moist laugh, tickling harmonies of love for the world, and the charged wires of the soul, ever replacing passivity with resistance and hope.

Spider may have written cheaply in pursuit of narrative resolution. The magazine editors might have blown through their work with disregard. And I may be making a mistake betting on the laptop’s continued success in staving off that final crash. But nevertheless the breeze touches all of us. It's just that, unlike the primitivists, the rest of us express this love by refusing to give up on the future. Refuse a marriage of sacrifice.


Charles Mudede, I think, doesn't quite 'get it'.

This is the crux of an op-ed by a mother, Danette M. Will, of a young man who survived the Capitol Hill shooting:

I’m not angry at the things everyone is talking about, though. I’m not angry at the guns; the guns did not shoot at my son and kill his friends. I’m not angry at the after-hours parties, because billions of people of all ages have survived them. I’m not angry at the raves, drugs, alcohol, teenage rebellion, knives, bats, cars, etc., etc., etc.

I’m angry with Kyle Huff. Kyle Huff decided he wanted to end my son’s life. Kyle Huff decided to kill all of those kids. Not his arsenal, not his family, not alcohol, not drugs. Not anything or anyone except Kyle Huff. I’m angry with everyone who is trying to make themselves feel better about this by blaming anything or anyone except the person responsible.

The one thing I hate about American ideology, or basic American thinking, is that it places way too much emphasis on the individual. Only the one (instead of the many) is seen as largely (if not entirely) responsible not just for their crimes but also their standards of living. This Ideology pictures America, the land of opportunity, in this way: Everyone gets set, gets ready on the mark of the same white line and, at the sound of the bang, they are off to their careers. (I use “career” in both the old and modern sense of the word.) And so it is up to you—and you alone—to make it or break it. It is this kind of thinking that is responsible for the embarrassing lack of mental institutions, proper welfare services, a sensible safety net for all the citizens of the richest fucking country on the planet. Huff was less an individual and more a social being. He was a composite of others and not an isolated soul whose thoughts, emotions, drives were derived from nowhere else but himself. If the society is emphasized then society can change; if the individual is blamed than nothing happens to the power structures that govern our coexistence.

The problem is that society is a concept, an abstraction. It can't change; there isn't anything TO change. More than three people can't agree on where to go for lunch - Charles wants a society of millions of people to just agree to stuff and stop being mean? Good luck with that.

Update: Blockquote corrected to include all of Ms. Will's comments.

Rich and warm or poor and cold

From Chaos Manor
Is a richer-but-warmer world better than poorer-but-cooler worlds?

Indur M. Goklany

Greater economic growth could lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously enhancing various aspects of human well-being and the capacity to adapt to climate change. This begs the question as to whether and, if so, for how long would a richer-but-warmer world be better for well-being than poorer-but-cooler worlds. To shed light on this issue, this paper draws upon results of the "Fast Track" assessment (FTA) reported in a special issue of Global Environmental Change: Part A 14(1): 1-99 (2004), which employed the IPCC’s emissions scenarios to project future climate change and its global impacts on various determinants of human and environmental well-being. Results suggest that notwithstanding climate change, through much of this century, human well-being is likely to be highest in the richest-but-warmest (A1F1) world and lower in poorer-but-cooler worlds. With respect to environmental well-being, matters may be best under the A1F1 world for some critical environmental indicators through 2085-2100, but not necessarily for others.
The conclusion drawn from the study is clear; a world which is warmer and is wealthy can adapt and is, all things considered, a better place to live. A colder world is generally a miserable place to live.

Some specific recommendations. Charmingly enough they are non-ideological, though implementation may be seen that way.

* Increase adaptive capacity by investing in efforts to reduce vulnerability to today's urgent climate sensitive problems that might be excaberated by climate change.

* Strengthen or develop institutions necessary to advance and/or reduce barriers to economic growth, human capital and the propensity for technological chance.

* Expand the range of no-regret options through R&D to improve existing technologies that would reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations more cost-effectively than currently possible.

* Allow the market to run its course in implementing no-regret options as their range expands with improvements in cost effectiveness i.e. reduce subsidies that increase energy use, land clearance, use of fertilizers.

* Develop a more robust understanding of the science, impacts and policies of climate change.

* Monitor the impacts of climate change to spot 'dangerous' impacts before they become imminent.

I am not sure what there is to disagree with this. Doubtless some will see any technological expansion as 'bad' no matter what the potential ill effects over the next century. There is no reasonaing with some people.

Anti-War snark from TJIC


Anti-war, pro-cuteness tshirt: Kittens Not Bombs

My response:

We tried kittens.

They didn’t explode.