Friday, March 28, 2008


Light Posting Excuse

I won't be posting for a little bit, but I'll be back.



One Mystery Solved, Another One Appears

In an earlier post, I wondered how scientists at CU in Boulder could be saying that usually the sea ice in the Northern Ocean was nearly 60% multi year old ice when all but 30% of it melts each Summer. As I suspected, the problem was in the area included in the study. Most scientists concentrate on all the sea ice in northern seas. The CU guys concentrated on what the others call the Arctic Basin, the sea generally inside 80 degrees north latitude (actually more than the AB, but well less than the entire Northern Ocean). Much of that sea ice inside 80 degrees does survive the Summer and therefore there should be lots of multi year ice.
Here, from the University of Illinois, is a record of what happened in just the AB over the last 366 days. A lot of it melted, a little more than a million square kilometers more than normal*. So to say that a lot more of the now completely recovered AB sea ice is new ice, less than a year old, is merely to repeat that a lot of it melted this past Summer. Not exactly 'news.'

But the guys at CU go a lot further and say that almost all of the 6 year old and older sea ice is gone. They use a new microwave satellite device to detect, I believe, thickness and thus assign an age to the ice. I have no reason to doubt the instruments. I have no real way to dispute their findings. The trouble with this is that we have daily records, satellite photos, of the extent of the AB sea ice for the past 28 years. We can see if, in mid August (to late September) of the past 6 years, nearly all the old ice had melted. It really hasn't, although a lot does melt and in different areas even in the generally reliably ice covered area north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland. But different areas melting away throughout the AB are visible in the record in the early 80s as well. Whether the reduction from 20% to 6%, as the CU guys calculate, is wholly different from what happened in the 1930s or in, say, the Medieval Warm period, well before there was any appreciable anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, is necessarily speculation. I do know that some of the Icelandic writers between 1000 and 1150 AD noted a steep decline in the amount of sea ice around Greenland during their lifetimes. Is that information helpful? Hard to say. I guess I could call, even visit the CU guys, and try to get an answer. More later.
One last thought-- I'm troubled by the discussion of 'icebergs' in the story linked to above. Icebergs are really thick pieces of glaciers that generate on land and break off into the sea from time to time. They are distinct from the sea ice the generates in the ocean. What they have to do with sea ice is any one's guess. Could be the reporter is not fully up to snuff or the connection he wrote about was later edited out.

*The normal from satellite data since 1979.



This Day in the History of Fortuitous Rediscovery

On this day in 2006, the Royal Society bought back a formerly 'lost' set of hand written documents, 520 pages worth, by Robert Hooke, a largely forgotten but prolific English scientist who contributed greatly to the 17th Century scientific revolution generally as well as to the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. The document included the minutes of the Royal Society from 1661-82. It had been found in a cupboard in a private house by an antiques expert there to value other items.

There are few representations of Hooke left, and the stained glass window in his honor (above) has been destroyed. The louse flea (sorry) and the 'cells' (he coined the word) are his drawings, as well as the published work pictured.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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Thought of the Day

inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes


Let us cultivate life through art and invention.


Thursday, March 27, 2008


Declining the Invitation

In his disastrous speech on March 18, 2008, Democrat and presidential front runner Barak Obama said theses things:

"But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now....
[For whites] the legacy of discrimination...must be addressed, not just with words but with deeds..."

For many, this was interpreted as a call to discuss, and then make progress on, the issue of race in America.

Most of the smart people in America knew that we needed to engage in a discussion about race like we needed new, gaping big holes in our heads.

Some others, however, took the bait, spoke their minds and are, as was easily predictable, now being called filthy racists for their trouble. Like property law Professor Paul Campos about the OldGuy at Instapunk (a somewhat popular blog which is often merely a spoof, like The Onion, and difficult to place precisely on the right/left political continuum). Here is part of Campos well reasoned refutation of OldGuy -- "utterly insane rant...disgusting filth." Wow. How enlightening.

Not only did Campos dismiss OldGuy's heartfelt and sober statements (some of which are easy to disagree with) as worthless racist garbage, but he conducted an utterly unjust, selective guilt by association and singled out Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for opprobrium merely because Glenn Reynolds has linked to Instapunk in the past (although not to the OldGuy piece on race). I guess Campos is saying that Glenn Reynolds should have known back then that InstaPunk would post something bad on race in the future. But get this! Reynolds once linked to the site after the OldGuy piece. Oh, the horror! Certainly, 'reasons' Campos, Reynolds is just like the Nazi approving Germans who enabled Hitler's rise to power. Yeah, Professor, just like them.

I'll note in closing that Campos used the n-word numerous times and called Allen Iverson "uppity." Not that Campos is a racist or anything. He's mostly just bereft of meaningful insight, which is a bit of a problem for a writer of opinion pieces. But you see actually how little use it is to discuss race in the current political climate. You can be called a racist just for quoting someone else. It's like Br'er Rabbit and the tar baby, the tar of the racist spreads to every limb and digit that touches it. Wait. Can I refer to Joel Chandler Harris? Is his work in the Index of Prohibited Books, proscribed by the left for racism? Oh no, now it's on me!



If There Must be Trouble Let it be in my Day, That my Child May Have Peace

Part of the Burma to China road built in just a few months during WWII so we could resupply Chinese forces fighting the Japanese. It wasn't just the bravery of the warriors which made that struggle so amazing.

As George C. Scott said: Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.



This Day in the History of Evil Beginnings

On this day in 1942, the first train load of Jews scheduled for culling to either murder or slavery arrived at the Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Lagers. This was the real beginning of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, decided at the Wannsee Conference, and organized by Adolf Eichmann. The train loads would arrive regularly for the next 34 months.



Thought of the Day

pecunia non olet


Money has no odor.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Hope for the Mahdi, Mahdi Army

Shi'ite militias under Moqtada al-Sadr have clashed with government forces in Baghdad, Basra and al Kut (where the Brits were humiliated during WWI). Not our government, only the Iraqi government forces are involved (although the Brits control and use the air above). Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has given the militia 72 hours to disarm or face destruction. Peace of course would be better, but this is the Shi'ite dominated government of Iraq fighting Shi'ite militias. Our guys aren't involved.

Unless the civil war mentioned so often by the left in the past years was not the Sunni/Shi'ite affair we all feared, this is certainly not a civil war, more like politics through alternate means. Not the end of the world, not the beginning of unraveling the surge successes. It's more like real hardball politics.

Still wish the Brits hadn't become complete shirkers in their area of operations.



Ida and Dactyl

On this day in 1994, this photo was released (although it had been taken the August before) showing the smallish asteroid Ida and its mile wide moon, named Dactyl, after the Dactyli which inhabited Mount Ida, nursery of Zeus. The scientists tell us that Dactyl is not a piece of Ida. Wow.

You know, I ate a potato the other day, that looked just like Ida.



Thought of the Day

vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores


You cling to your ways and leave mine to me.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The Audacity of Hopelessness

David "Less than Fully Conservative" Brooks at the NYT takes careful aim at Hillary and her forlorn campaign and pulls the truth trigger. The results are both sad and funny.

Money quote:

Why does she go on like this? Does Clinton privately believe that Obama is so incompetent that only she can deliver the policies they both support? Is she simply selfish, and willing to put her party through agony for the sake of her slender chance? Are leading Democrats so narcissistic that they would create bitter stagnation even if they were granted one-party rule?

The better answer is that Clinton’s long rear-guard action is the logical extension of her relentlessly political life.

For nearly 20 years, she has been encased in the apparatus of political celebrity. Look at her schedule as first lady and ever since. Think of the thousands of staged events, the tens of thousands of times she has pretended to be delighted to see someone she doesn’t know, the hundreds of thousands times she has recited empty clichés and exhortatory banalities, the millions of photos she has posed for in which she is supposed to appear empathetic or tough, the billions of politically opportune half-truths that have bounced around her head.

No wonder the Clinton campaign feels impersonal. It’s like a machine for the production of politics. It plows ahead from event to event following its own iron logic. The only question is whether Clinton herself can step outside the apparatus long enough to turn it off and withdraw voluntarily or whether she will force the rest of her party to intervene and jam the gears.



This Day in the History of Scots Independence

On this day in 1306, Robert I, "the Bruce," was crowned King of Scots. Now that Scotland has its own flag, first minister and parliament, and has all but pulled out of the Union with England, perhaps a restoration of its monarchy is not so far fetched an idea.



Frontline's Deception

I watched Frontline's "new" documentary about Gulf War II called Bush's War and I agree with Jules Crittenden's lengthy and spot on criticism of it. Here is my own criticism of how sloppy it was regarding uranium ore and Saddam Hussein. So sloppy, it is difficult for me to believe it was done in good faith.

The key is to know that there are two things, two intelligence reports (from foreign services) regarding the nation of Niger: 1) That Iraq actually purchased tons of yellowcake from Niger and that the government planned to ship it to Iraq; and, 2) That Iraq sought to purchase yellowcake from Niger but never made the deal.

The first, actual sale, is false, an intelligence report from Italy which is based on forged documents and never happened.

The second, merely seeking to buy yellowcake, an intelligence report from the British, who stand by it, is absolutely true. It has been researched by the British government looking hard at its intelligence about Iraq and was held to be well founded. Christopher Hitchens has written extensively about it.

Frontline started the segment with the President's state of the union address in which he repeated the truth that British intelligence had indeed reported Iraq's desire to obtain yellowcake in Africa (specifically in Niger but elsewhere too). Then the show immediately went back to the report, in the NIE, that there was an actual sale. The words "sale" and "sold" were used, the NIE was shown on the TV with the words "send several tons." Paul Pillar facial tic'ed his way through an explanation, like several former CIA types, that the report turned out to be fabricated. Yeah, the Italian 'actual sale' report, but not the British 'sought' report, not the truth that managed to slip into the President's 2003 speech. That was true. Impossible to tell which is which from Frontline's presentation, however.

Lying Joe Wilson had trouble with the concept of attempted sale versus sale (see his corrected version of his op ed piece in the New York Times-- it corrects some of the times he has been caught lying about this thing in the past) Actually his report supported the British report that Iraq indeed attempted to buy but did not buy yellowcake from Niger. But his inability to keep different things straight in his mind, shouldn't stop Frontline producers, years later, from getting them straight.

It just isn't that hard a concept.



Thought of the Day

in alio pediculum, in te ricinum non vides


You see a tiny louse on another, but not a fat tick on yourself.


Monday, March 24, 2008


Flux Density Value Rises

After weeks and weeks of sub 70 values, the Canadians, with the relatively ancient radio telescope pointed at the sun, have reported over the last two days values of 72 and now 81. There's a new sunspot, but it's from the old 11 year cycle numbered no. 23. Maybe the sun is shaking off the torpor and will shine as the experts have predicted. Keep your fingers crossed. Global warming is touted, falsely, as the killer crisis to come, but it's a new ice age that will actually kill a lot of people with starvation and cold.

I'm happy.



This Doesn't Look So Good

The molecular cloud Barnard 68 blocks out the stars behind it, in our view. It's a half light year across and about 500 light years away. Creepy.

Didn't we see this in a Star Trek episode once?



The Cat's Eye Reprocessed

This one does look good, the Cat's Eye Nebula, a planetary nebula (think expanded sun), with a lot more detail and real color. Many bad things that happen to stars start at the poles, and that seems to be the case here, followed by successive waves of out gassing of the then shrinking sun's surface layer. It's also about a half light year across.

Still beautiful.



A New Source of Global Warming Debunking Facts

There are plenty of reasons to read this article from Australia, not only for the admission from the IPCC that the Earth has been cooling this past decade, but also for the news, little reported, of the data from a 2002 satellite called Aqua, which shows that the clouds do not react as the climate modelers predict. But there's more.

Money quotes:

"Is the Earth still warming?"

"No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

"Is this a matter of any controversy?"

"Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."

Just what I was thinking.

...What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

"The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

"That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."
And then there is this coup de grace prediction.

A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.

With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age. Among the better educated, the sceptical cast of mind that is the basis of empiricism will once again be back in fashion. The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.

Childish nonsense indeed.



This Day in the History of Cruel British Oppression

On this day in 1765, the British Parliament enacted the Quartering Act, which required Americans to provide temporary housing for British soldiers. The wholly unnecessary 3rd Amendment is a direct response to this act.



Thought of the Day

perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim


Be patient and tough; some day this pain will help you out.


Sunday, March 23, 2008


This Day in the History of a Nationalistic Socialism

On this day in 1919, lifelong socialist Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist political movement in Milan, Italy.



Thought of the Day

Interfice errorem, diligere errantem

St. Augustine

Kill the sin, love the sinner.


Saturday, March 22, 2008


This Day in the History of Half Steps

On this day in 1794, Congress prohibited the importation of slaves into the United States. So the only way to produce more slaves was to have them have children, who were slaves by birth. Not exactly a solution to the moral problem, but still a step in the right direction.



Thought of the Day

malum consilium quod mutari non potest

Publilius Syrus

It is a bad plan if it can not be changed.


Friday, March 21, 2008


Snort Worthy Sentence

Today's Denver Post reprinted an anti-American, unsigned op-ed from the Salt Lake Tribune which said we Americans had no moral authority to judge other nations' conduct because of what we do.
Of the U.S. actions condemned by the United Nations Committee on Torture and civil liberties organizations - extraordinary rendition, sexual humiliation of prisoners, detaining terrorist suspects without formal charges or legal representation - waterboarding is perhaps the most heinous.

Extraordinary rendition sounds really scary, but it is merely a quick form of extradition, that is, returning a criminal (or war prisoner of any sort) to his home country. OOOuhhh, very scary, kids. The sexual humiliation of prisoners in Abu Graib continues to be a tempest in a teapot. It happened, but that doesn't mean we do it routinely or it is our policy; indeed, we consider such a thing a crime and the perpetrators went to jail for their violations of the Army Code. Mere prisoners of war, of any sort, (as opposed to war criminals), being held for the duration of the conflict, haven't committed a crime, are never charged, and so don't need lawyers. (That moronic talking point is really getting old). But, of course, it is the end of the list, the crime of crimes, waterboarding, which is the real focus here. It is not torture if done for a matter of seconds, torture if done for a quarter hour or more.

But that's not what put a small part of my venti cappuccino (wet) up my nose. It was this gem: The practice [waterboarding], opposed by 43 retired generals and admirals who fear retribution against U.S. troops...

What? Fear retribution? They are not that silly, are they?

I hate to have to repeat my very brief history of the treatment of American prisoners of war in the last 90 years, but the short version is that we would be very happy if any of our enemies treated our captured guys as well as we treat theirs. It would be such an improvement. Except for some Luftwaffe Stalags, we have not received Geneva Convention treatment since 1918 (funny when the Nazis are the relative good guys). The stories from WWII in the Pacific, from the Korean War and from the Viet Nam War about American prisoners of war are heartbreaking tales of immense suffering. John McCain knows real torture first hand (and he's become hypersensitive as a result). If all that's too ancient history for the handful of naive generals and admirals (ret.) complaining, let's move directly to Gulf War II.

Here's what's happened to just the last 8 guys captured in Iraq:

Private Kristian Menchaca and Private Thomas Tucker (pictured here) were captured in June, 2006. They were hacked to death, their eyes were gouged out and, post mortem, they were dragged behind a vehicle and one of them had his head chopped off.

Spec. Alex Jimenez. Private Byron Fouty and Pfc. Joseph Anzack were captured May 12, 2007. A tape was released saying Jimenez and Fouty were later executed and their bodies buried. Anzack was certainly executed (two in the head, one in the chest) and found floating in the Euphrates.

On January 20, 2007, 1st Lt. Jacob Fritz, Spc. Johnathan Chism, and Pfc. Shawn Falter, were captured and shortly afterwards executed. Their bodies were recovered.

A half minute of simulated drowning is beginning to sound like a day at the beach in comparison to the illegal treatments our soldiers, actual prisoners of war, are actually getting.

Our guys are going to be really tortured, not just sexually humiliated; not subjected to simulated drowning, really murdered. This is what will happen no matter what we do to them. Our enemies are black hearted, illegal combatants. Only a fool would worry that our side will be treated worse if we don't treat them better, because our guys, once taken prisoner, can't be treated any worse.

The blame America firsters responsible for this op-ed suffer from a defect of vision as old as human vision. In alio pediculum, in te ricinum non vides.

Oh, and I'm also getting a little sick of this more recent talking point: Japanese soldiers who used the technique during World War II were tried and convicted as war criminals.

No they weren't, at least not just for waterboarding. The Japanese war criminals we convicted did just what the Jihadists have been doing to our guys, whom they capture in Iraq, that is, shooting them well after the surrender, hacking them to death, gouging their eyes out and cutting their heads off, that is, real war crimes.



This Day in the History of Too Little, Too Late

On this day in 1918, the Germans begin the Second Battle of the Somme, their last big push of the Great War, fueled with the veteran troops released from the Eastern Front due to Russia's withdrawal from the war. They do well, but can't reach Paris.
This is an aerial photo of the trench systems near the Somme months earlier. You can see why it was so hard to get past the front-- there were second and third trenches and then reserve trenches past that. The crenelation in the trenches themselves are so the area through which the steel splinters from a shell explosion could travel was limited.



Thought of the Day

When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

R. Buckminster Fuller


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Report on the World's Sea Ice

Over at The Cryosphere Today, the daily tally of the World's sea ice shows the following--in the North on the first day of Spring, the sea ice is just barely below normal and, in all 14 sub-areas, the sea ice is the same as, or above, where it was last year (5 are the same and 9 have more ice, some of them a lot more ice). The center of the Arctic Ocean, that is, the area inside 80 degrees latitude, is all frozen over and apparently much of the ice is thicker now than it was last Winter.
Although NASA reported two days ago it was thinner than usual. However their microwave measurement require new and not well tested modeling so take that with a grain of salt for the time being.

In the South, the sea ice is expanding in the Southern Autumn and is now more than a million square kilometers above normal. All told, the World's sea ice is just under a million square kilometers above normal. Last Southern Winter, there was more sea ice around Antarctica than ever and this Southern Summer less than usual melted (indeed, in only three Summers in the past 30 has the Antarctic sea ice melted more).

So we know that there is much more sea ice than normal, we also know from the state of the art Argo system that the sea itself has cooled recently, and we know in the past 15 months, no matter what measure you use, the World's mean temperature has gone down a full degree F.

No wonder the push is on to change the Warmie branding from Global Warming to Climate Change.

Another ice age is a climate change.

UPDATE: I've been thinking about Arctic sea ice thickness. Each year about ten to eleven million square kilometers melt completely away and three to five million square kilometers remains through the Summer. So most of the sea ice through the Winter will be what's called new ice, less than a year old, between one and two meters thick. Older ice, two to six years old, gets to be about 3 meters, and it is less salty and harder for reasons I don't fully understand. There are times the ice stacks up on top of other ice (mainly in pressure ridges) so the upper limit for thickness for sea ice is about 5 meters. But because of the absolutely normal yearly melt and refreeze cycle, most of the sea ice is new ice. This consensus information is not syncing up with the recent NASA story, which said that "perennial [older than one year old] ice used to cover 50-60 percent of the Arctic" If it generally melts from the normal 14.5 million square kilometers to the normal 4.5 million square kilometers every Summer, a loss of 70% (meaning 30% is left) how in the world could there be 60% multi year ice? There is something wrong here, if not with my math, perhaps with the definition of the term 'Arctic.' More later.



Happy Birthday Gulf War II

Cliff May at NRO has a no punches pulled critique of the Gulf War II for its fifth birthday. Money quotes:

[First we totally screwed the pooch for years during the occupation phase of the liberation. Then we switched to General Petraeus:]

The Petraeus strategy was nothing if not counterintuitive: He gave the enemy more targets and assigned them to more vulnerable positions — outside the well-guarded FOBs and in the shadowy streets. But once the Iraqis understood why the Americans were there — to defend them from terrorists — they provided a wealth of intelligence. Before long, Americans and Iraqis were fighting side by side against their common Islamist enemies.

That was historic. It should have been big news. But the media were not much interested. As one well-known reporter told me: “It doesn’t matter.” The important action, he said, was taking place not in Baghdad but in Washington, where politicians were reading the polls and finding Americans discouraged and ready to cut their losses.


One can say the invasion of Iraq was unwise. Before committing troops to battle, a president should have a realistic understanding of what can be achieved, in what time frame, and at what cost. One can say the occupation of Iraq was bungled.

What one can not say is that regime change in Iraq was unjustified: Not if you know Saddam’s record, his clearly stated intentions, and his ties to international terrorists — including, as a new Pentagon report reveals, a group headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al Qaeda’s second-in-command.

Good stuff.



This Day in the History of Terrorist Attacks

On this day in 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed and more than 5,500 others injured, some permanently, when sarin gas (a very toxic nerve agent) was released by local nutjobs from the Aum Shinrikyo cult on five separate subway trains, the worst attack on Japan since 1945. The cultist had gallons of sarin among them and a drop on your skin the size of a pin head will kill you, so why so few deaths? They released the gas by puncturing plastic bags of sarin wrapped in newspaper. Not a good way to spread the gas. One commercial fogger and thousands and thousands would have died.



Thought of the Day

hoc tempore obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit


In these days friends exist through flattery, the truth gives birth to hate.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Not Much of a Mystery to the Skeptics

There appear to be two mutually exclusive schools of thought about global warming climate change. The Warmies believe we are in an unprecedented meteorological period where man made gases, primarily CO2 from burning fossil fuels, are forcing up the mean global temperature in a way never seen before (because we've not been burning so much fossil fuel before). The Skeptics know that the mean global temperature goes up and goes down in both regular and irregular patterns and there's nothing new or alarming about what's been happening over the past 150 years.

Despite the Stalinist attempts to silence or even to criminalize dissent in this matter, any prediction about the future carries some risk of being wrong (the sun, for example, won't appear to rise tomorrow morning if it explodes today) and given the reality of the Vostok ice cores, it seems incumbent on the Warmies to have the mean global temperature act in accordance with the theory. If it doesn't follow the theory or the computer predictions, then it's probable that the theory and predictions are wrong.

The Mauna Loa Observatory has recorded a steady state rise in atmospheric CO2 over the past half century. And indeed the consensus is that it has risen from 270 ppm in the mid 1800s to nearly 380 ppm today. That is a significant rise. If the Warmies are right, then the temperature has to have risen, and it has to keep rising as the CO2 rises; otherwise, the spell is broken and CO2, as we Skeptics believe, has no direct correlation to mean global temperature (except a World warmed by other things produces later more CO2, mainly from the Ocean).

So, are all the observations congruent with the theory and predictions. Well, in a word, no.

NPR correspondent Richard Harris has an article which should cause a lot of concern in the Warmie community entitled The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat.

The theory is that the sea will warm a lot if there is global warming. It's not warming. Now what do they do?

My favorite bit:

...80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.
"There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant ..."
(Emphasis added).

No, nothing significant here. Move along. The theory is that there will be warming and nothing but warming (although sometimes at slower rates than at other times) and now there's not warming but cooling. As Josh Willis at NASA's JPL puts it:

"Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may
be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."

Silly me, I thought global warming meant exactly that every year (in response to ever year of rising CO2) will be warmer than the last. And Josh, it's not "less rapid warming" you're seeing; it's actual cooling and real serious cooling (in the air) in the last 14 months.

Here is how NPR author puts the possibilities for solving the mystery:

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

Or it could mean that the very theory of global warming caused primarily by anthropogenic CO2 is complete bunk. Richard Harris apparently can't even imagine that possibility. We Skeptics can, and indeed it seems the most likely possibility to us based on the scientific literature we have read (and sometimes understood).



A Deadly Photo

There are four major trace greenhouse gases: Water vapor; Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide and Methane. The later two are efficient heat traps but there is very little of these gases in the atmosphere. There is a little more CO2, but it is not very efficient at trapping heat. Water vapor, both the colorless stuff we call humidity and the visible version, clouds and mists, is not at all efficient but there is so much more of it in the atmosphere than the other trace gasses that it totally swamps their minor contribution to keeping us warm (and alive). If the Supreme Court (in its role as natural philosopher kings) is right to call natural, safe in low concentration, necessary for life on earth CO2 a pollutant, shouldn't they call water vapor the same, but even more so? The EPA would then have to ban humidifiers, rule that all bodies of water be covered to prevent evaporation, and do the other stupid things the Supreme Court has urged with CO2. Man, talk about having the vapors.

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Oral Arguments In Heller Analyzed

Having gone through the transcript here, I have to say I'm both relieved and troubled. Here are my notes and my take.

At p. 10, ll. 21-25, Justice Alito asks a great question: Why was it necessary to protect the Militia's right to bear arms when Congress had near plenary power over the Militia?

At p. 13, ll. 20-23, Justice Kennedy says, flat out, he thinks the Second Amendment protects a private right. Whew.

At p. 15, ll. 6-9 Justice Stevens asks why do states have Second Amendments in their constitution? Uh ho, my hopes for Stevens to have an honest clear vision of the Constitution is in jeopardy.

At p. 18, l. 22, the lawyer for DC brings up the concept of dangerous weapons (here pistols). Aren't all weapons dangerous? A feather duster is not generally considered a weapon primarily because it is not dangerous.

But at pp. 29 and 39, our Solicitor General seems to agree that some weapons are so dangerous that they are not arms. I have to admit I had trouble following that. Plastic guns not detectable by magnetics are not arms. He has more trouble with machine guns because they, although very dangerous, are routinely used by the reserves, the National Guard, which many think of as the modern militia, so it's difficult to exclude them when you think the dependant militia clause in the Second Amendment is important, and not just the reason for a personal right to own and use firearms.

At p. 39, the SG suggested a standard of review less than strict scrutiny (which other of the first ten amendments get). Ouch. More on that below.

At p. 57, ll. 19-25, Justice Kennedy calls the 2nd A's independent clause, 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,' the operative clause of the 2nd A. Right on.

Beginning at p. 60, Heller's attorney starts the 'common use' requirement nonsense. More on that below.

At p. 62, ll. 5-9 Justice Kennedy agrees with Justice Ginsberg's statement of truth, namely that a machine gun is more related to the militia now than a pistol is. Right on again. Well done, Ruth. Kennedy goes on to say that the Miller decision probably sucks. I'm paraphrasing.

The end of the discussion regarding old fire regulations about safe storage of gun powder was unworthy of further comment.

The friends of the Second Amendment in the courtroom are apparently chicken that Kennedy would balk at an individual right if it would mean gutting the 1936 gun law which Miller interpreted and which limits machine gun ownership. The SG seeks to water down so 'harsh' a result with the reasonable regulation sop and less than strict scrutiny review of extant and future gun laws. Heller's attorney attempted the same thing by saying ownership of a weapon useful to the militia and in common use (not a machine gun) are the two requirements for 2nd A protection of a particular weapon. The common use is made up out of whole cloth. Both tactics seem strained and unnecessary to 2nd A purists like myself. There is a inherent tension in the latter because pistols are not that useful in modern warfare, a full auto assault weapon is; but people can own pistols 'for the militia' but not an M-16 (with hoops jumped through, some can).

Private right, strict scrutiny, weapons useful to the militia covered, common use not required, these are the best we can hope for. Impossible for me to believe we get more than the first and third. June is a long way away, it seems



Army Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, 'Bout Face !

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One year ago, as President Bush decided to send more troops to Iraq, the conventional wisdom in Washington among opponents of the war was that the U.S. Army was on the verge of breaking.
In December 2006 former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell warned, "The active Army is about broken."
Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, in a much-cited memo to West Point colleagues, wrote: "My bottom line is that the Army is unraveling, and if we don’t expend significant national energy to reverse that trend, sometime in the next two years we will break the Army just like we did during Vietnam."
Army Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, the former head of the Army War College, agreed. He wrote in an editorial in the Washington Times on March 30:
"If you haven't heard the news, I'm afraid your Army is broken, a victim of too many missions for too few soldiers for too long. ... Today, anecdotal evidence of collapse is all around."
But now, one year later, Scales has done an about-face. He says that he was wrong. Despite all the predictions of imminent collapse, the U.S. Army and the combat brigades have proven to be surprisingly resilient.

According to Army statistics obtained exclusively by FOX News, 70 percent of soldiers eligible to re-enlist in 2006 did so — a re-enlistment rate higher than before Sept. 11, 2001. For the past 10 years, the enlisted retention rates of the Army have exceeded 100 percent. As of last Nov. 13, Army re-enlistment was 137 percent of its stated goal.
Click here to see U.S. Army statistics obtained exclusively by FOX News (Chart A).
Scales, a FOX News contributor, said he based his assessment last year "on the statistics that showed a high attrition among enlisted soldiers, officers who were leaving the service early, and a decline in the quality of enlistments," a reference to the rising number of waivers given for "moral defects" such as drug use and lowered educational requirements.
"In fact, what we've seen over the last year is that the Army retention rates are pretty high, that re-enlistments, for instance, particularly re-enlistments in Iraq and Afghanistan, remain very high," Scales said. He noted that re-enlistments were high even among troops who have served multiple tours.
A year ago, some military experts were comparing the Army of 2007 with the army of a generation ago, at the end of the Vietnam War, when it was considered "broken" due to morale problems and an exodus of the "best and the brightest" soldiers from service.
Click here to see U.S. Army statistics obtained exclusively by FOX News (Chart 1).
Scales said he didn’t take into account that, unlike Vietnam, this Army is sending soldiers to fight as a unit — not as individuals. He also neglected the "Band of Brothers" phenomenon — the feeling of responsibility to fellow soldiers that prompts members of service to re-enlist.
"The soldiers go back to the theater of war as units," Scales said. "They are bonded together, they know each other, they don't have to fight as an army of strangers.
"I was wrong a year ago when I forecast the imminent collapse of the Army. I relied a little bit too much on the data and not enough on the intangibles."
Not all the military analysts who made similar predictions last year agree. Lawrence Korb, who worked on personnel issues during the Reagan administration, testified to Congress last July: "As Gen. Barry McCaffrey pointed out when we testified together before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April, ‘the ground combat capability of the U.S. armed forces is shot.'"
Korb, a resident scholar at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told FOX News the Army is worse off than it was a year ago. He suggested that the Army is not being honest with its re-enlistment and retention numbers, an accusation echoed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo.
The Army’s use of stop-loss — the automatic re-enlistment of soldiers whose units are being redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, even if their service time is up — has distorted the figures, Korb said.
He also said that while the numbers of captains leaving the military may not be alarming, the number of captains educated at West Point is. According to Korb, half of the eligible captains from West Point’s class of 2002 have left the service.
And then there are the re-enlistment bonuses, which rose from $50 million in 1998 to $562 million per year in 2007. The amount of re-enlistment bonuses paid is now five times what it was at the start of the Iraq war, according to U.S. Army figures.
Click here to see U.S. Army statistics obtained exclusively by FOX News (Chart 9).
But Scales says the desertion by mid-grade officers — captains and majors — just hasn’t occurred as predicted.
"The Army's collapse after Vietnam was presaged by a desertion of mid-grade officers (captains) and non-commissioned officers," Scales wrote a year ago. "Many were killed or wounded. Most left because they and their families were tired and didn't want to serve in units unprepared for war....
"If we lose our sergeants and captains, the Army breaks again. It's just that simple. That's why these soldiers are still the canaries in the readiness coal-mine. And, again, if you look closely, you will see that these canaries are fleeing their cages in frightening numbers."
But an internal Army document prepared at the request of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and obtained by FOX News suggests that the comparison to the "hollow Army" of 1972 near the end of the Vietnam War is inappropriate.
The main reason: Today's Army is an all-volunteer force, and the Army in Vietnam largely was composed of draftees.
Captain losses have remained steady at about 11 percent since 1990, and the loss of majors has been unchanged at about 6 percent.
Click here to see U.S. Army statistics obtained exclusively by FOX News (Chart 4).
"To date, the data do not show heightened levels of junior officer departures that can be tied directly to multiple rotations in Afghanistan or Iraq," the internal Army memo concludes.
The key difference between now and Vietnam, Scales explains, is: "this idea that soldiers fight as part of a team. It’s the ‘Band of Brothers’ approach to combat that makes armies effective in wartime, and the Army has been wise enough over the past five years to work very hard to keep soldiers together in units and not to treat soldiers as sort of replacement parts, but to keep them together as cohesive units. ... I believe, is the glue that has really served to hold this army


Campos and the Persistence of Myths

Local property professor and once a week op-ed writer, Paul Campos, starts this week's adventure in lefty logic well, pointing out the probability that Hillary Clinton's ideas about single payer universal healthcare would have ended poorly. But then he pens this paragraph.

Let's review here. This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Bush administration launching one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in the nation's history - the invasion and occupation of Iraq. That ongoing adventure has wrecked a country, killed hundreds of thousands of people, cost hundreds of billions dollars (and eventually perhaps $3 trillion), and created the world's largest refugee crisis (2 million Iraqis have fled or been driven from their homes).

These are indeed important lefty myths about Iraq, but most of them are flat out wrong and the rest of them badly need context to be meaningful.

I can't help his opinion about ending Gulf War I with the liberation of Iraq from the Hitler lite despot Saddam Hussein. That he fails to call it a liberation or acknowledge the pedigree of the war back to Saddam's real invasion for conquest of Kuwait, is a very real sign of the myth; but let's go to the facts as they exist in Professor Campos' mind--

"wrecked a country" What? Oil production and sales, up. Electricity production, up nationwide (down or flat in Baghdad and Tikrit). Telephones, internet connections, cars, students, TV and radio stations all way up. How is that wrecked? In what universe is that wrecked?

"killed hundreds of thousands of people" Ah, the totally discredited Lancet/Johns Hopkins remote survey. The actual figure is less than 45,000. Not hundreds of thousands, not a hundred thousand, not even half that. This is not opinion but fact. Why liberals cling to facts long ago debunked is well covered here by Dafydd at Big Lizards.

the liberation of Iraq will cost eventually (probably) "$3 trillion." Less than $500 billion so far, but that's a lot.

"created the world's largest refugee crisis" with 2 million people who have moved to other parts of Iraq or out of Iraq. It can't be the world's largest refugee crisis with only 2 million, because during Saddam's reign, nearly 5 million moved out of the country. Why wasn't that the biggest refugee crisis in the world? Many of them have returned and some of those who returned have moved again after al Qaeda in Mesopotamia tried but failed to ignite a civil war with the bombing of the al Askari mosque in Samarra. Now those who left the country are returning. Crisis? Humbug.

Let's look at the good from another lefty's view, Christopher Hitchens':

A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya's (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region's keystone dictatorship.

Any mention of the good by Campos? No, not a single admission. Why would we ever be convinced by so one sided an opinion based almost completely on false myths?



This Day In The History Of Anti War Protesters..and SpellCheck


This Day in the History of Second Wars

On this day in 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched with "shock & awe" air strikes on Baghdad, beginning Gulf War II. It's still going on even though liberation of Iraq from the tyrant Saddam Hussein was accomplished before May of that year. What has kept it going is not our mistakes, so much as, to quote Winston Churchill, the volcano of ingratitude that is Iraq. All in all a good thing and at amazingly low casualty rates historically. The Mexican War was far more unpopular.



Thought of the Day

omne ignotum pro magnifico est


Everything unknown is considered great.



Obama's Churlish Intellectual Sleight of Hand

A lot of geeks who blog have weighed in on Obama's Race Speech. Many on the left have done the intellectual equivalent of the crowd at a fireworks show--Oooh, Ahhh. The commenters on the right have picked their words and way carefully through the modern metaphorical minefield labeled PC, where one misstep gets you branded a racist. I'm just going to focus on one troubling part, where Obama calls his grandma a racist.

I guess I should acknowledge some of the sites which have prompted and helped synthesize this post. Micky Kaus has a lot of good criticism of the speech. Steve Gilbert at Sweetness and Light referred back to the first of Obama's two volume (so far) autobiography, from Dreams of My Father (p. 46) for some background to his claim that granny is a latent member in good standing of what Obama's once and future minister, Jeremiah Wright, called the U. S. of KKKA.

Here's the text regarding why Obama won't reject his hateful, racist preacher:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

What, exactly, is Obama's proof for this charge?

Let's look at the first evidence he gives. His grandmother once confessed (in private) to him "her fear of black men who passed by her on the street." What? If that's all it takes to make you a racist, then Jesse Jackson, who confessed a fear of black men on the street, is a racist against blacks. This is Tweedledum logic and not very good Tweedledum logic at that. There have been black guys on the street who scared me. There have been white guys too, and some who looked vaguely a cross between Iberian and North American Indian... Their race or ethnic origin had nothing to do with it, it was how scary they were: How they carried themselves; the sense of menace they projected. If a scary guy scares you, you're not therefore a racist even if it is a scary guy of a different race or color.

But we know the exact scope and nature of that one time Obama's grandmother was scared--she was accosted by a very large and very aggressive panhandler at the bus stop, oh, who happened to be black. Well granny must be a former Kleagle at least (Wait, no, that's the Democratic President Pro Tempore in the Senate, Robert Byrd). Obama has gotten the meaning of that incident wrong from the very start.

Shame on Obama for turning his grandmother's rational reaction into a charge of racism. Shame on Obama for turning her single private rational non-racist concern into the moral equivalent of the public (available on DVD) serial incitements to race hatred from preacher Wright, in church.

Not just vapid, but dishonest as well. Obama really knows how to return his grandmother's love.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Oral Arguments in Heller 2nd Amendment Case

Here is a transcript, already, of the oral arguments in the Heller case this morning. I am firmly in the "you can't tell how they will rule from the comments and questions in oral argument" camp, but in case you can't stand the wait until June without some sort of tell tale, have at it. More after I have a chance to read the transcript.



The Bullying of American Television

I watched New Amsterdam last night which told the several sad tales of rape and murder, the last one was even more sad because it was a Hindu honor killing (that is, the murder of a woman by family members with no freakin' idea what honor is). I first asked myself are there Hindu honor killings? Sadly, the answer to that is yes, there are. So now I'm asking are there enough of them to make it the proper subject of a murder mystery on television when there are plenty of Muslim honor killings even in this country. My answer to that is no; I think that the producers of the TV show were too chicken to mention the truth about way too many followers of the Religion of Peace and so stretched for a substitute with the bonus that the substitute would be acceptable to the Muslims.

Freedom of expression. You gotta just love it.

Also I'm no longer sure that the elimination of dueling is an altogether good thing. But I'm sure that's just me.



This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1938, a new, improved Nazi Weapons Law was passed generally restricting firearm ownership, particularly handguns, to members of the National Socialist Party. It was certainly a help to the SS and SD to know that the Jews, Gypseys, homosexuals, and political enemies they were rounding up and shipping to concentration camps would be unarmed. Tyranny generally grows where the government has absolutely no fear of the people governed.



Thought of the Day

nihil est miserum nisi cum putes


Nothing is a misery if you don't think so.


Monday, March 17, 2008


Hitchens On Iraq--5 Years On

Christopher Hitchens is, like a great many British subjects, an odd duck. There's no doubt he's brilliant and well educated. He is an unrepentant Trotskyite who happens to have traveled widely and had his eyes open and come to the right conclusions about the various monstrous regimes in the Middle East and Far East. (He can also do 40 minutes straight each on why Mother, soon to be Saint, Theresa and the Dalai Lama were and are terrible people). He has a good, short article over at Slate on what the war in Iraq has accomplished. He doesn't use the term Gulf War II, but he's thinking it. Hitchens also lists the good things from the war's resumption reader Tony has demanded these past years.


...incompetence doesn't condemn the enterprise wholesale. A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya's (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region's keystone dictatorship.

I think the battlefield defeat of al Qaeda and its surrogates is by far the most important and so important right thinking individuals cannot sit out the next election and allow the Democrats to snatch defeat from victory.



The Doorway to Deutschland

American troops, probably of the 9th Armored Division, and possibly including my late uncle Bill, exit the tunnel leading to the Ludendorff Railway Bridge over the Rhine at Remagen, Germany. Since the bridge only lasted ten days between capture and collapse, we can date this photo between March 7 and March 17, 1945.

The Germans blew up the bridge but the dynamite used was inferior or at least a different strength than the engineers expected and the bridge bucked up a few feet and then settled right back down on its supports. It was, however, seriously damaged in the explosion. The second attempt to blow it up was thwarted by Silesian conscripts who cut the fuses.

The tales of heavy fighting to take the bridge are largely exagerations. The bridge fell with hardly a fight and few casualties, although 28 Americans were killed when it collapsed.



This Day in the History of British Strategic Withdrawals

On this day in 1776, after the generally not ready for successful combat Continental Army transported cannon captured from Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain to 'heights' overlooking Boston Harbor, the British forces evacuated Boston during the Revolutionary War. (This was shown on the pretty good HBO miniseries John Adams last night). The British went to Halifax, Nova Scotia.



Thought of the Day

There are few things worse in life than marching to the beat of your own drummer and then finding out you're doing close order drill with thousands.

Dennis Miller


Sunday, March 16, 2008


The Power of the Crop

I told you that, cropped, this photo was much more dramatic than the original. A similar thing happened to the photo of the second American flag raising on top of Suribachi on Iwo Jima in February, 1945. It must be the diagonal thing.



Lefty Peaceniks--Loonier and Less Numerous

Here are a bunch of photos of the rather sparsely attended Saturday Peace Rally in Las Angeles on the 5th anniversary of the resumption of Gulf War I. I'm going to talk only about 2 of them.

There are three general types of camouflage--real, dazzle and clown. Guess which one this guy's wearing?

On the other one, the sign, do you notice anything wrong? I mean besides the incredible blood insult (and admission of current and past historical ignorance) contained in comparing the Israelis to the National Socialists. Anything? How about 3/22/08 hasn't happened yet? Moron. (Not you, the sign maker).

With a population of nearly 300 million, even .0001% would be 300 people. That seems about right. The .0001% of the population that is completely round the bend full loony left was out on Saturday in LA, displaying their core beliefs. I'm not counting the exploited children--they didn't know better, nor the transvestites--they apparently just like to dress up.



This Day in the History of American Massacres

On this day in 1968, the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam occurred where approximately 400 Vietnamese villagers, a very disturbing number of them women and children, were murdered by a company of American troops of the 23rd Division, under the command of Captain Ernest Median and Lieutenant William L. Calley, Jr. Horrible day in almost anyone's calendar. Only Calley was convicted of any wrongdoing (and he was convicted of murder) but he only did a few months in prison and less than four years of house arrest before he was freed on appeal or clemency or some weird combination of the two.



Thought of the Day

qui dedit benificium taceat; narret qui accepit


Who did a good deed should be silent; who received the benefit should tell about it.


Saturday, March 15, 2008


An American submarine, Balao-class USS Robalo (SS-273), is launched in May, 1943, at the Manitowoc Shipyard in Wisconsin. Most warships were launched stem first, but the shipyard was on a narrow river so they did it this way, which was pretty dramatic. The Robalo went down the Mississippi on a barge to the sea. It is still on eternal patrol having been lost, probably to a mine, in the South China Sea on July 26, 1944. Eighty-one men went down with her.

The Germans are famous for their U-Boat fleet in the Atlantic, and, indeed, the last model they built really was pretty impressive. However, except for that model, far too late, we built larger, better, faster, farther ranging, more deadly ones, like this one, and we built a lot of them. Between the subs below the waves and the planes above, by late 1944, the surface ships available to the Imperial Navy were few and very far between.



This Day in the History of Big Talk and Insufficient Action

On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered 12,000 U.S. troops under capable General Pershing into Mexico to capture revolutionary leader, or bandit, Pancho Villa, who had in the recent past entered American territory and killed Americans. Pershing never got close to Villa and the next year was a little busier in France.



Thought of the Day

quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentis telum est


A sword is never a killer, it's a tool in the killer's hands.


Friday, March 14, 2008


Is this Really the Same Girl?

"Kristen" of the latest Democratic sex scandal, with sex, involving Eliot Spitzer. With sunglasses and a bikini she looks pretty darn good. With a stylized, album cover, wannabe pose, not so much.
Laura Ingraham, who has entered the spinster trap, hates it that anyone like this would profit. I am much more laissez faire about what Laura calls the pornofication of America, but even I draw the line at "Kristen" hitting the jackpot for shtuping the married New York Governor for money. The death of shame, indeed.



Response to the Defenders of Obama

Many people on the left are trying to deflect criticism on Obama for associating with the hate filled, racist, loony left nut job who is his 'spiritual advisor' by calling it merely guilt by association. Yeah, exactly.

Noscitur a sociis.

We're not talking about a silly uncle or cousin mouthing off, this is the guy Obama sought out and stood by for over 20 years (if indeed failure to condemn is acceptance). You can't pick your family, but you sure can pick your friends and often such association tells us a lot about the person's character and predilections.



This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1883, German political philosopher Karl Marx died in London. Few men in history are responsible for more suffering and death than Marx, the co-founder of and intellectual force behind Communism.



Thought of the Day

noli equi dentes inspicere donati

St. Jerome

Do not inspect the teeth of a gift horse.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Caught Up in the Wave

A big storm hit Great Britain this past 48 hours, including big waves like this near Lands' End. I hope everyone's OK. The NOAA recently officially disavowed any link between global warming and the severity of Atlantic hurricanes. (There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts).

Apparently not everyone got the memo, however. As Anthony Watt points out, the current draft of the American Meteorological Society position statement on weather includes this:

The United States faces growing environmental challenges stemming from weather and climate impacts. Hurricane Katrina, the current East coast drought, the 2007 California wildfires, this winter’s storms, and other recent events are shaping nearly every aspect of American life. (Emphasis added).

Misinformation in support of the crisis de jure is as difficult to eradicate as crab grass.



The Daily Show with Jon Stewart : Marines in Berkeley

The looney left in Berkeley is too large a comic target for even the usually left-friendly Daily Show to ingnore. Funny, but sad too.


This Day in the History of the Right Move Far Too Late

On this day in 1865, the Confederate Congress authorized the enlistment of 300,000 slaves as soldiers. What was in it for the slaves? They were promised their freedom. The Confederates were a little late to the party here, as the North had been using black soldiers, many former slaves, for over a year, sometimes to great effect. It wasn't just the slavery which doomed the South; it was also their racist views which kept one third of the population out of the fight until it was far too late. They deserved to lose, and despite a martial spirit which stunned the North for a few years, they did.



Thought of the Day

pulvis et umbra sumus


We are dust and shadow.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Wehrmacht soldiers fight in Poland at the beginning of WWII. Usually they crop out the lug on the left and just have a very dramatic, balanced, diagonal composition--a young soldier, sleeves rolled up, in action with his eyes in the shade of the distinctive helmet and a look of steely determination in the rest of his face. This was for years my favorite photo of the war.

The Model 24 Stielhandgranate "stick grenade" he is throwing was a decent weapon, but, later in the war, they developed the oval shaped grenades like the ones we used, so maybe it was not ideal. There was an anti-personnel metal sleeve (Splitterring) you could slide over the working end that would send out a spray of steel splinters when it exploded. Nasty addition that.



The Sombrero Galaxy, M-104, photographed with a new processor which removes the big bright glow in the center which accounted for the 'crown' and thus the passing resemblance with the Mexican hat.

Now it looks nothing like a sombrero and ought to be renamed. I nominate the LP Galaxy or perhaps the Pizza Galaxy as replacements.

Still beautiful, no matter what the name.



A Brilliant Example of a Parthian Shot

What many people call a parting shot actually refers back to a Roman saying several millennia old, namely, a Parthian shot, from the Parthian's ability to reverse in the saddles on their cavalry horses and shoot arrows accurately. What seemed a rout to the pursuing Roman cavalry would suddenly become a withering attack, a final, telling blow just before an exit.

Thomas Sowell has a good article on the Spitzer pay-for-it affair but it contains a sublime Parthian shot about a different Democrat leader:

[Obama's] "personal" character matters, just as Eliot Spitzer's "personal" character matters -- and just as Hillary Clinton's character would matter if she had any.

Like a Parthian arrow, that was well-aimed and deadly on point.



The Real Scandal

Diomedes has shamed me into reading again property law professor Paul Campos' less than enlightening weekly op-ed in the Rocky Mountain News. This week's piece was particularly lame. You'll recall that Hillary Clinton falsely defended her husband's lies about getting a number of hummers in and around the oval office from Monica Lewinsky, by accusing a non-existent vast right-wing conspiracy, which she called the real story. Now it's the perfessor's turn to accuse unnamed people of a non-existent conspiracy. Let's quote Campos:

...the real Spitzer scandal has little to do with his apparent habit of paying young women for sex. Here's what really needs to be investigated:
Spitzer's fall was triggered not by his visits to prostitutes, but by banks reporting
"suspicious" transactions of his to the IRS.

What? The real scandal is that banks were enforcing the law? What actually is Campos accusing people of?

This [speculation by Campos about what Spitzer did to pay for the prostitutes] raises the possibility that Spitzer's financial activities were being closely monitored.
It's hardly a stretch to imagine that Spitzer, a man with countless enemies in the financial world, would be the target of such a vendetta.

Possibility? Imagine? We have to ask whether there are any actual facts in Campos' accusation. Sadly, no, there are none. Moving on in the speculation about speculations, we come to this paragraph.

At the DOJ, the Public Integrity Section launches an investigation. This unit itself has come under intense criticism during the Bush administration for investigating nearly six times more Democratic politicians than Republicans. Furthermore, many of the section's investigations have seemed timed to coincide with elections and the like.

Any chance that Democrats are more likely to do things worthy of investigation? Just asking. No, answers Campos, it must be that the DOJ is part of the vast right wing conspiracy against the pure and chaste left.

Then there's this final ineffective jab.

With a little digging, the feds soon establish that Spitzer is seeing high-priced call girls. This is a petty misdemeanor in most jurisdictions, but the DOJ goes ahead and constructs an elaborate and costly sting operation, for the express purpose of catching one of the country's most powerful Democratic politicians committing a petty crime.

In the course of the sting, Spitzer makes a really big mistake: He pays a call girl to travel from New York to Washington. This puts him in technical violation of an 85-year-old federal law, the Mann Act, which has a long history of being used for politically motivated prosecutions of the worst sort, such as those of the boxer Jack Johnson and movie legend Charlie Chaplin.

This is rich. First the use of the word 'sting.' It's a sting if the cops get involved in the action, like, in this very context, a pretty policewoman going undercover and pretending to be a prostitute. It's not a sting if the police merely monitor the public actions of a person doing wrong and then arrest him. That's called surveillance.

"Technical violation"? Is that different from a real violation? Is it less? Is it less because Paul Campos doesn't like the law? The questions are nearly infinite here and are all self answering.

Then the irony meter goes into hyperdrive with Campos complaining about Spitzer being caught for violation of the old Mann Act with its colorful history. Spitzer is infamous for his use of the 1921 Martin Act against his political enemies. Good for goose, sauce for gander.

Here is the lesson: When a Republican is caught in a sexual scandal with no sex, the media goes nuts and spills the fault of the particular Republican all over the whole Republican party. When a Democrat is caught in a sexual scandal with sex, the media goes nuts and accuses the Republicans of a non-existent conspiracy that netted the Democrat for merely a silly peccadillo.

This won't be the last time you see it.

UPDATE: Another lefty law professor, Alan Dershowitz, pens a speculative criticism of how Client #9 was treated by law enforcement officials. He calls his piece at the free (today) online version of the Wall Street Journal, The Entrapment of Eliot Spitzer. What?

Entrapment is a recognized defense to criminal prosecution in which the defendant admits the crime but seeks to excuse it by claiming he (or she) was lured into performing a previously uncontemplated illegal act. Entrapment is available as a defense only when an agent of the state or federal government has done the luring. In order to establish entrapment, the defendant has the burden of proving either that he or she would not have committed the crime but for the undue persuasion or fraud of the government agent, or that the encouragement was such that it created a risk that persons not inclined to commit the crime would commit it. It's a tough sell either way.

How this applies to Spitzer is anyone's guess. Oh and speaking of guesses, here's Dershowitz's initial admission of his article's irrelevance: There is no hard evidence that Eliot Spitzer was targeted for investigation, but the story of how he was caught does not ring entirely true to many experienced former prosecutors and current criminal lawyers.

I think Dershowitz meant that the laws are so pervasive and broad that anyone can be prosecuted for the slightest little transgression (more vast right wing conspiracy out to get nearly innocent Democrats). That's the normal lefty line in these circumstances. It was just a peccadillo; why was the federal government making such a big deal?

Our own Tony has the answer for some of Dershowitz's questions in the comments below.

Entrapment! For a decade long user of prostitutes. The left apparently has no lower limits below which they will not dive.



This Day in the History of Real Wars Ending

On this day in 1940, while the Germans, French and Great Britain fought the Sitzkrieg, a savage little war, called the Winter War, which had gone badly for the Soviets, came to an end when Finland and the Soviet Union concluded an armistice.



Thought of the Day

Saying that Hillary has Executive Branch experience is like saying Yoko Ono was a Beatle.

Jsn at Daily Kos website


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


An Underdeveloped Airplane

A Chinese soldier with fixed bayonet guards a line of Curtiss P-40 Warhawks near the beginning of our involvement in WWII. Most airplanes get constantly upgraded through their months and years of service. The Brit Spitfire had at least 20 such upgrades. The P-51 Mustang had eight. The P-40 only had four upgrades before they quit making it in November, 1944. Had they continued to improve its engines and armament it could have rivaled the above named planes for fighter of the war. The shark teeth mouth on the underside of the front cowling was pretty cool in any event.
We know that the b in B-52 stands for bomber and that the f in F-15 stands for fighter and even that the a in A-10 stands for attack. So what does the p in P-40 and P-51 stand for? Answer tomorrow.



A Paragon Of Mankind Part Deux

" Kristen, I'm sorry, you said how MUCH for one hour ?"


A Paragon of Mankind

Governor Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) shows the press how far you could go in for a payment of $2,000 at the Emperor's Club.

The debate now centers on whether for Governor Spitzer that distance constituted all the way in.

His shell-shocked wife, Silda, declined comment, but continued to look wistfully sad.



The Decline in Democratic Daliances

In the quality of the dalliee, that is. President Kennedy is rumored to have bedded beautiful Marylin Monroe and Judith Exner.

President Clinton failed to get the slightly less than stunningly beautiful Paula Jones in bed and had only a particular type of sex with the slightly less than svelte Monica Lewinsky.

The execrable Eliot Spitzer had to pay for it.

At least this Democratic sex scandal had some sex.



This Day in the Short History of Ignoble American Abandonments

On this day in 1942, having completely screwed the pooch in the defense of the Philippines from Japanese invaders during the early, dark days of our involvement in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur left Corregidor, pursuant to direct orders, for Australia, later vowing: "I shall return." It was a lot more uplifting than: "Sorry, I can't take any of you with me." For the Americans and Filipinos left behind, the suffering had only just begun.

He did better later.
The corn cob pipe never caught on, but the cap low over aviator dark glasses became the height of military fashion even to this day.



Thought of the Day

cave ab homine unius libri.


Beware the man with but one book.


Monday, March 10, 2008


A Lingering Question Regarding the Importance of Leadership

American workers are the most productive in the World and have been for a long, long time, although the rate of increase began to drop off about the time of The Great (Socialistic) Society in the 1960s. So why would CEOs and boards of directors forego using the World's most productive workers and relocate to foreign shores, with the unending problems of foreign investment and manufacture? Not to mention the added costs of shipping.

The answers are clear even to economic tyros like myself. The organized workers here have priced themselves out of the World market, the local and federal government have demanded too big a piece of the pie (with, for example, the World's second highest (after Japan) corporate income tax), and our legislators and bureaucrats have created a frustrating skein of regulation which are best avoided overseas.

Thomas Sowell, not surprisingly, says it much better here. Money quote:

Like the United Automobile Workers union in its heyday, unions in the steel industry and other industries piled on costs, not only in wage rates having little relationship to supply and demand, but in all sorts of red tape work rules that added costs.

State and local governments in what later became the rust belt also thought that they too could treat the industries under their jurisdiction as prey rather than assets, and siphon off more of the wealth created by those industries into state and local treasuries with ever higher taxes -- again, without considering repercussions.

In the short run, you can get away with all sorts of things. But, in the long run, the chickens come home to roost. The rust belt is where those rising costs have come home to roost.

While American auto makers are laying off workers by the thousands, Japanese auto makers like Toyota and Honda are hiring thousands of American workers. But they are not hiring them in the rust belts.

They are avoiding the rust belts, just as domestic businesses are avoiding the high costs that have been piled on over the years by both unions and governments in the rust belt regions.

In short, the rust belts have been killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. That is a viable political strategy, so long as the goose doesn't die before the next election and politicians can avoid leaving their fingerprints on the weapon.

Hack, empty suit politicians blame NAFTA or unfair trade for the decline in manufacturing jobs here. A statesman would help make investment in the land of the most productive workers in the World more economically attractive. Another reason these coming elections are too important to sit out.



On Parade in Paris

The M8 armored car, called the Greyhound by the Brits, drives down the Champs Elysee in Paris during the big August 26, 1944 parade to celebrate the liberation. Lightly armored (no more than 19mm) but relatively fast, 55 mph, the M8 saw a lot of action both in Europe and the Far East. It had 6 wheels, a 37mm main gun in the turret, with a M 1918 Browning machine gun co-axially and a M2 .50 on a semi-useful ring mount on top the turret. In the East, it could go head to head with Japanese tanks. Its performance off road was marginal to OK. No person I've ever read has praised it highly. It had all the problems of a tank with none of the protection.
It looks a little cramped to me.



Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

Inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year include Leonard Cohen. I'm sure we baby boomers all recall rocking out to the hard driving, blues influenced, guitar riffs on his Suzanne and Sisters of Mercy. Man, that guy could RAWK.

Note to museum inductee search team--it's rock and roll, not reasonably good poetry, your museum is about.

Also included is the Dave Clark Five, as boring and repetitive a band as ever existed. I've really disliked that group since, well, forever, since the moment I first heard them. Glad all over. Yes, I am glad all over. Think, just for a second, how stupid that concept is. It's almost as bad as Rod Stewart's invitation to let your inhibitions run wild.

In fact, what is the purpose served by putting in a museum the work of people who would, during the time they were producing the work, absolutely hate the very idea that they might belong in a museum?

There's a reason much of today's music sucks so bad, but I don't know what it is. Certainly having so lame a recognition system is part of the blame.

My favorite story about Leonard Cohen came from a girlfriend in Paris in the 1970s who said that she went to his concert and he sang about 8 songs and then took a break and came back out and sang the same 8 songs again. End of concert.


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