Thursday, December 30, 2010


Toxic Ideas

Here is what Colman McCarthy (a person I have never heard of before) wrote today:

ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace.
A warrior ethic would actually do a world of good for most schools, but it's the second part of the idiotic sentence that chaps my hide. The whole of European History after, say, 1815, is the other nations' reaction to a powerful and bellicose Germany, which nation (or parts of it) conquered France in 1870, was the primary belligerent in 1914 and killed probably 40 Million people in WWII.

Here is a short list of the fights Imperial Japan started or joined in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries:

First Sino-Japanese War;
Japanese Invasion of Taiwan;
Russo-Japanese War;
Japanese forced Occupation of Korea;
Japanese Invasion of Manchuria;
Second Sino-Japanese War;
and WWII.

Has either of these problem countries caused any problem whatsoever since the Allies killed their warriors and civilians and destroyed their cities and governments during WWII? No, they have been model world citizens since 1945. So I guess it is possible for nations to kill and destroy their way to peace, as anyone above imbecile IQ should be able to grasp. It's McCarthy's utter ignorance of very basic, recent history which is foul.




What would it be like to have this spread out over half of your night sky? NGC 2170, about 2,400 light years away in the constellation Monoceros is 15 light years across. Very beautiful.



Thought of the Day

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it

Max Planck


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Thought of the Day

We have always been at warm with Eurasia.

James Taranto


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The Circle is Now Complete...

Obama's Detainee Mess is the topic. The President has now completely adopted the protocols of his immediate predecessor, whom he criticized unceasingly during the campaign and for his first year and a half in office. Let's stroll down memory lane for a bit, shall we.

Aug. 2, 2007: An often repeated campaign promise, is made the first time:

As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.
Jan. 22, 2009: Barack Obama signs an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility within one year:
This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard.

July 21, 2009: The White House grants its Guantanamo closing commission an extra six months to study the situation.

Jan. 22, 2010: The one year promise anniversary. No closing. No ceremony.

Then the Empire struck back. The Democratic controlled House Armed Services Committee voted unanimously (who said bipartisanship was dead?) to prohibit a Guantanamo replacement to open within the United States.

The Obama administration utterly failed to hold a terrorist trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City and quietly opts, at least regarding KSM, for the Bush Administration's policy of unlimited detention without trial or even military tribunal.

The President admits at a September 10, 2010 press conference that:
Well, the -- you know, we have succeeded on delivering a lot of campaign promises that we made. One where we've fallen short is closing Guantanamo. I wanted to close it sooner. We have missed that deadline. It's not for lack of trying. It's because the politics of it are difficult.
What a freakin' crybaby!

The Obama administration's crack justice department prosecutors in November, 2010 totally failed to convict Ahmed Ghailani, the confessed mastermind and participant in the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, of even one murder count of the 284 they brought.

Now even the far left is complaining about the executive order the President will almost certainly sign, before the second anniversary of his first executive order (to close Guantanamo), which establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

Oh, the horror. /sarcasm>

Of course you can keep illegal combatants detained by the military for the duration of the war, just as you keep honorable prisoners of war detained. It's not punishment, or any sort of law enforcement--it's what always happens to the enemy captured during a war. It's so the captured don't return to the battlefield, as even the dumbest of the morons can easily comprehend. The ideal would be for the illegal combatants we have captured to be interrogated and then, when they have no additional intelligence to offer, promptly to be executed. That's what we expeditiously did to NAZI spies/saboteurs in WWII. We won that war.

The question is whether we have what it takes to win this one? It ain't looking so good right now.


Monday, December 27, 2010


The Music They Play in Hell

You'd think it would be Death Metal or perhaps rap but it's the muzak versions of Christmas Carols.

And they play them all the time, forever.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Thought of the Day

Holder in a blink of an eye went from trashing the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols to sighing that it is almost a matter of when, not if, home-grown Islamic radicals will kill lots of us. Holder’s road to Damascus is eerily reminiscent of the sudden conversion in 1938 of British intellectuals, who, as Czechoslovakia was swallowed, abruptly went from 15 years of trumpeting League of Nations pacifism to calling for British military deterrence against fascism. Unlike Holder, however, they at least explained why they had made their about-faces.

To be fair, the Obamaites are simply channeling their commander-in-chief, who spent a near decade, from 2001 to 2009, pontificating on the illegality or superfluousness of the Patriot Act, renditions, tribunals, Predators, Guantanamo, and overseas wars, and then as president embraced or even expanded all of them — with not a word of remorse that his earlier demagoguing might have done great harm both to the efficacy of the programs and to the reputations of those involved in them, as well as to his country’s image abroad. I suppose we are all Orwell’s farm animals now, mystified but quiet as we wake to see the commandments on the barnyard wall crossed out and written over#.

Victor Davis Hanson



Inappropriate Music

The right music in a car commercial can do both the car company and the artist who created and performed the music a lot of good. The best example I can easily think of is VW and poor, dead Nick Drake's Pink Moon. Wonderful. Honda is recently starting some of its car commercials with an up-beat:

A holiday, a holiday and the first one of the year...

It is not quite a match made in Heaven (because it's so annoying) and all the worse for those who recognize that those are the first lines (almost) of Matty Groves, a 17th English ballad made somewhat famous in the late 60s by Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson's and Sandy Denny's old group. The song goes on to tell the tale of a cheating wife who gets her lover killed and it ends with my favorite part, the husband, Lord Donald, taking out the wife too (they just don't write them like this anymore):

He struck his wife right through the heart and pinned her against the wall,
"A grave, a grave," Lord Donald cried, "to put these lovers in,
but bury my lady at the top for she was of noble kin."

Maybe not the festive ditty Honda was hoping for.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Scarlett Johannsson

Really liked her in Ghost World.



The Lunar Eclipse, in Case You Missed It

The photo is by Kevin Whitman of Dallas, TX. My photos were not quite as good. I've seen more impressive lunar eclipses, but I haven't seen any for a few years.


Sunday, December 19, 2010


The Last Word on Fair Game--I Promise

Here is a very instructive piece by Hawkish Cliff May at NRO which includes these forgotten, by me, bits of history:

It’s also important to point out that Novak did not report that Plame had ever worked in a covert capacity. He later told me and others that he had assumed she was merely a desk-bound analyst and, had he been aware she was more than that, he would have steered clear. I believe he was telling the truth. Do Pincus and Leiby think he was lying? I’d ask them to make that clear as well.

So how did the public learn that Plame had been undercover? David Corn revealed that in a story in the leftwing magazine The Nation. I remain convinced that Corn’s unnamed source was Joe Wilson, who had received an award from a group associated with The Nation for — can you guess? — “truth-telling.” Wilson also had written for The Nation, accusing President Bush of having “imperial ambitions.”


On the silver screen, Plame attempts to exfiltrate Iraqi scientists who know for certain that Saddam has no nuclear-weapons program only to have her CIA handlers shut down her mission. This is pure fiction, but savor the irony: Too many in the CIA worked diligently to undermine President Bush — the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate saying Iran’s nuclear-weapons program had been halted is only the most infamous example — but in the movie, the CIA protects Bush and betrays Plame.

By the way: As Quin Hillyer pointed out in The American Spectator, Plame’s own memoir suggests she was among the many intelligence analysts — at the CIA and other agencies — who were convinced that Saddam was still developing weapons of mass destruction.

She was in good company: The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate concluded with “high confidence” that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and an active nuclear program. Former vice president Al Gore and then-senator Hillary Clinton believed that. Senator Ted Kennedy said: “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”

As for Wilson, prior to the U.S. intervention, he told Dave Marash, then a reporter for ABC News, that if American troops were sent into Iraq, Saddam might “use a biological weapon in a battle that we might have.” That was his argument against the war: not that Saddam did not have WMD but that it would be dangerous for American troops to face them.

Fair Game, the film, is not fair. It slanders innocent people caught in a web spun by Joe Wilson to flatter his vanity and that of his wife. But what can you expect from Hollywood?
Here is a video discussion with Lionel Chetwynd and Roger L. Simon. Very sound criticism.

Here are the weekend estimated receipts. Not only did they go down, again, (60% fall off in revenue) but the number of theaters showing it declined as well ( by 35%). Another leftist fantasy bites the dust blown from the trash heap of history.


Friday, December 17, 2010


The Reality Behind Soak the Rich Class Warfare

1. According to a study of Federal Reserve data conducted by NYU professor Edward Wolff, for the nation's richest 1%, inherited wealth accounted for only 9% of their net worth in 2001, down from 23% in 1989. (The 2001 number was the latest available.)

2. According to a study by Prince & Associates, less than 10% of today's multi-millionaires cited "inheritance" as their source of wealth.

3. A study by Spectrem Group found that among today's millionaires, inherited wealth accounted for just 2% of their total sources of wealth.

Neal Bortz


Thursday, December 16, 2010


Daily Spiritual Photogarden

All I can think of when I look at this photo of Japanese model and actress, Nonami Takizawa, is the end of Psalm 23. cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I'm falling into the 5th Deadly Sin--Lust. Sorry.



The Mandelbrot Set

Dr. Mandelbrot is no longer with us. RIP. If you zoom into the "surface" details of the most complex parts (and you can't on this depiction), wonders reveal themselves. The formula is deceptively simple:
 z_(n+1)=z_n^2+C . The fractals it produces are infinitely varied. Really.



Another Especially Creepy Japanese Robot

This one dances. Oh joy! Giant man hands and 'iron giant' legs--the first signs of trouble. I wish the Japanese would stick to anime. The images of anime are not so close to human as to creep us out. The closer you get to real, the worse it is. See The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol versus Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell (both of the latter are scheduled for live action treatment--a mistake, and I'm not talking about the casting of Keanu Reeves as Spike, either--although that's horrible to contemplate). They even have a term for this form of creepiness--The Uncanny Valley.



Increasing Diversity

About 16 years ago, Natural History magazine published nice drawings of some of the latest animals to go extinct. They were mainly merely local races of birds which had the bad fortune to have very small ranges within rapidly growing urban sprawls. Although some of the more recent extinctions were tragedies of greed--the Great Auk, the Labrador Duck, Steller's Sea Cow, et al., others, like the Carolina Parakeet and Passenger Pigeon, went extinct because we couldn't have agriculture as we know it and have them too. Many, like the Dodo, and almost all the birds on Guam recently, were unfortunate accidents. And some, like the Golden Toads and other frogs, were due to a Chytrid fungus (probably spread by the very scientists studying the amphibians). Put that in your irony pipe and smoke it. (The good news is that many of the frogs have developed resistance to the fungus and are on the rebound). And don't get me started on the magafauna of the Americas, Madagascar, New Zealand and Australia by the often praised for living in harmony with nature aborigines.

My point is that we have lost species, but we are discovering new forms of life here on Earth, and all the time. Newly discovered species in the last decade number 1,200 along the Amazon, 1,000 along the Mekong river, and 200 in Eastern Papua New Guinea Like this somewhat creepy tube nosed fruit bat which is so newly discovered that it doesn't even have a name yet, beyond the informal Yoda bat.

There is no reason to panic about diminishing diversity and a new broad based extinction. We have not yet established the base line with which to judge the rate of extinction.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Here Comes the Sun, and I Say

I continue to think, because of the overwhelming importance of water vapor as a "greenhouse" gas and the near saturation we have reached with 390 ppm of CO2, that our increased output of CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels will do nothing measurable to the climate. I am much more concerned with the only real source of planetary warming, the sun.

The sunspots we detect go in an approximate 11 year cycle. The intensity, that is, the number of sunspots at the peak of the cycle, has a much tighter correlation to average Earth temperatures than any other measurement. The cycles have had high peaks over the last several decades, and lo, temperatures on average have increased. As a result of sunspot minimums, the Dalton and Maunder minimums are examples that we know about, the temperatures here on Earth tend to plunge.

The sunspots which appear on the surface of the sun are caused by magnetic forces within. There is apparently a minimum amount of magnetism necessary for there to be sunspots. We have detected a lessening of the required magnetic forces and, worse, a downward trend. The sun also has a radio signal the flux density of which ranges between 64 and 264 (at the 10.7 cm frequency). The more magnetic and sunspot activity, the higher the radio flux density number. (I don't know what flux density is. My son tried to explain it to me but I failed to grasp it beyond the most rudimentary of levels.) While the number of observed sunspots has increased lately, the magnetism and radio activity have remained low. Last year, for example, there were 280 spotless days (71%); this year there have only been 45 (13%). However, the average planetary magnetic index, the Ap Index, is as low as it has ever been measured (that is, since 1932). The radio signal is at 88 today and has never been to 100 in the past several years, even though the new sunspot cycle, No. 24, began almost 3 years ago on January 8, 2008 to predictions of an ever more intense cycle, which predictions have been modified down ever since. Something unseen and perhaps unknown to science is going on inside the sun which is delaying the increased magnetism, radio signal and even the normal climb in the number of sunspots of the new cycle; and it all means that it will get colder, on average around the planet, over the years to come. If that is the case, the Warmie true believers are sure to be regarded absolutely as losers and charlatans (as they are), but we will all be the losers too, as extreme cold kills at a much higher rate than extreme heat, and reduced arable land due to cold weather could cause the world wide famines Paul Ehrlich was predicting for the 80s.

It's certainly something to keep an eye on.



Thought of the Day

[It is] the Obama Administration's continued war on fossil fuels that is making the guarantee of a comfortable winter increasingly bleak for the nation's poorest citizens.

"With millions of Americans unemployed and struggling to keep their homes warm, the need for government assistance will only increase. Heavy demand and higher prices due to the Obama Administration's assault on the fossil fuels we rely upon are going to stretch charities to their limits and beyond," noted Project 21's Borelli. "It's disgraceful that the first black president and the first black EPA administrator are advancing policies that will preferentially harm blacks who overwhelmingly supported Obama."

Deneen Borelli


Sunday, December 12, 2010


Watching Justice Breyer

What an insufferable prig! If the Congress passes a law which infringes on the people's right to keep and bear arms, the solution, for Justice Breyer, is, for sportsmen who like to shoot paper targets with pistols, to get on the subway and go to Maryland where there is no such infringement. The majority opinion in Heller is that there is a private right to keep and bear arms for self defense, et al. (I would add the right exists in order to overthrow violently a government which has ceased to have the consent of the governed, but that's going outside the Constitution (to the Declaration of Independence)). If the burglar is coming in your window in DC, going to Maryland to have and hold your pistol is a piss poor solution to the unconstitutional DC ban. Breyer is pretty ignorant on the history of the second amendment (he talked about Madison exclusively ignoring the input of George Mason which was substantial) and on the practical effects of his misapprehension.

UPDATE: Here, at Say Anything North Dakota's best blog, is a little more and the video clip of this High Court Idiocy.


Saturday, December 11, 2010


Being of Two Minds

When billionaires say that they ought to be taxed more, I always say, sometimes out loud, "well, go ahead and send in more than you owe to the treasury. They'll take it." I applaud voluntary beneficence; it's the involuntary kind that bugs me.

On the other hand, regarding billionaires, there's always the Chinatown question, reproduced below:

Jake Gittes: How much are you worth?
Noah Cross: I have no idea. How much do you want?
Jake Gittes: I just wanna know what you're worth. More than 10 million?
Noah Cross: Oh my, yes!
Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?
Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.

Is the future a Bill Gates, for example, can yet produce something we should stop through confiscatory taxes? What about the future Ted Turner envisions?



Weird Dreams

Often when someone wants to tell me about a really strange, remembered dream,I'm unnimpressed The more the dreamer insists that the dream was the weirdest ever, the more it seems to me like just an ordinary dream, usually quite pedestrian indeed. That said, I had this really weird dream yesterday that President Obama had abdicated and former, disgraced President Clinton took over. I can still see Obama leaving the press conference with Clinton still taking questions at the presidential podium in the White House. Man, was that ever weird.


Sunday, December 05, 2010


The Importance of Finding Your Reading Glasses

One of the first and most dismaying signs of my growing old was the realization I couldn't see small things like I used to, such as small letters on a page. It was cold comfort to read that the percentage of people over 50 who need reading glasses is functionally 100%. I was down to two pair (one at work and one at home) when I went to the dentist for teeth bleaching. That was pretty unpleasant but only lasted about 2 hours. They gave me a goody bag with literature, a toothbrush, Sensodyne toothpaste and a little bottle of thick blue liquid. I left the last in the car and when I was rushed one morning and had forgotten mouthwash after brushing, I drank from the little bottle the dentist had given me, thinking it must be mouthwash. It was vile in a way different from other mouthwash and I had to keep it in my mouth for about 5 minutes until I parked the car and could spit it out on the nearby plants. Thank God for the small mercy that I didn't just get impatient and swallow the stuff. The next day, when I had reading glasses with me, I looked at the little bottle and discovered it was hand sanitizer. Never assume your dentist will give you mouthwash.


Friday, December 03, 2010


Update on Valerie Plame Affair--Hollywood Version

Although we won't know until tomorrow, nothing about the box office performance of the lying docu-drama Fair Game these past two weeks indicates that it will expand into new theaters (beyond the 386 it now plays in) today. It has made only $6.3 Million domestically in the four weeks since its limited, rolling release (and a similar amount overseas). That's about half the production budget. The distributors passed on expanding last week due to weak ticket sales, and the only thing that has changed is that more people are complaining about the so-called accuracy of the film, that if fails to include any real screen time to the real life revealers of where Ms. Plame worked, state department undersecretary Richard Armitage and the late Robert Novak. How can you pretend to be factual and ignore the quintessential, albeit inconvenient, facts? Here, here, here and here are more outraged reviews. Money quotes:

Hollywood has a habit of making movies about historical events without regard for the truth; "Fair Game" is just one more example. But the film's reception illustrates a more troubling trend of political debates in Washington in which established facts are willfully ignored. Mr. Wilson claimed that he had proved that Mr. Bush deliberately twisted the truth about Iraq, and he was eagerly embraced by those who insist the former president lied the country into a war. Though it was long ago established that Mr. Wilson himself was not telling the truth - not about his mission to Niger and not about his wife - the myth endures.

My old boss Bob Novak reported that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative. His original source was Richard Armitage, Bush's deputy secretary of state. Inconveniently for the storyline of "Fair Game" -- and the story the Left pushed for years -- Novak and Armitage both opposed the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.

It's hard to argue that two Iraq War opponents got together and decided to punish Wilson for publicly questioning the case for war -- especially when Novak was doing so long before Wilson was. And Armitage was a famous dove, even by State Department standards.

Given Hollywood's bias against subtlety and complexity, the filmmakers had a choice: Lie about Novak and Armitage to make them Iraq hawks -- or simply ignore them. The screenwriters chose the latter. Novak is mentioned only once, at the moment Plame reads the column. Armitage is mentioned only in the text epilogue in the closing credits.


It's wrong to assert that the disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's identity was part of a malignant effort to hide an even bigger nefarious plot of having "lied us into war." If anything, the Bush White House (including Mr. Libby) was the victim of bad information - information supplied by Mrs. Wilson's incompetent CIA.

UPDATE: The number of theaters showing the film this past weekend went up 40%, to 436 (so much for my prognostication) but revenue went down 37.8% and the movie was 14th for its fifth weekend of release. It will just barely make its money back but its a loser both for its box office disappointment and its alternate reality sense of history. Even the Washington Post criticized the lies at the heart of the movie. Enough said.



No Matter What You Do, at Least 10% Never Get It

Mark Halperin over at Time Mag (online) writes two paragraphs on the current psychological state of the Democratic Party. The first is rational. The second, well... Here, take a look:

Democrats are understandably -- and largely justified in being -- frustrated that they lost an election based on Republicans defending tax cuts for the wealthy that are only expiring because of a budget gimmick championed by George Bush -- and based on criticism of their apparent lack of concern over the deficit, by a party that has shown no past or current seriousness about deficit reduction and the hard choices involved. Losing those political fights was as inexplicable as it was hard for the Democrats. Maybe that's why Thursday seemed to have donkeys melting down all over the place.

Where to begin? The Democrats are understandably and largely justified in being frustrated at losing huge in an historic thumping/shellacking because the Republicans refused to take the Democratic line and join the class warfare against the successful (i.e. high earners)? The Democrats are largely justified in their frustration that class warfare didn't work? This is denial on a near epic scale. As if the current tax rates were a big deal in the latest election. It was the terrible borrowing and spending, and a general disgust with the administration's incompetence, and the inability of the White House to focus on things that actually mattered that caused the 63 and 6 seat gain in the Houses and the Senate respectively.

But the next line is a doozy. The tax rate cuts, that is, the current tax rates (7 and 9 years old now) are expiring because the Republicans wanted them to be temporary. Are you freakin' kidding me? Actual history would tell us that the Democrats opposed any tax rate cuts and the only way to get them into law was to do so with an expiration date. It was Democrats who championed the gimmick which put an automatic and substantial bump in the tax rates in just under a month. You'ld think someone as talented as Mr. Halprin would know recent history better.

Then there is the clueless next big thought: The Republicans didn't deserve to win on voters' disgust with unsustainable spending and borrowing, because the Republicans overspent and borrowed in the recent past. Grow up! There is more than a mere quantitative difference between 400 Billion deficit spending and 1.4 Trillion deficit spending. Even grade school kids know that "The other kids did it too" doesn't cut it when you're facing your parents' wrath for misbehavior. Did Halperin skip that part of childhood?

Inexplicable, is it, that the voters would punish the Democrats for permanently tripling the worst of the Bush Administration deficit? It's only inexplicable to someone afflicted with partisan blinders.


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