Sunday, March 25, 2012


Barred Spiral

A lot of galaxies have this structure rather than the cloud or continuous spiral shape. This is NGC 1300 in a new composite Hubble photo. Cool to see the regular spiral details in the center. I didn't know about that before. The scientists tell us that there is no massive black hole at the center of this big galaxy, at least none detected yet. Hmm.
Does that have anything to do with the structure?

NGC 1300 is classified SB(s)bc which means, I think, that the spiral arms are about mid-range tight. (The classification a is very tight and d is very loose, putting two letters means the tightness is halfway between the two letters).


Saturday, March 24, 2012


A Post in Which I Praise our President

I've been to three sporting goods stores today, including one which specialized in reloading (at least it has about four or five rows of shelves of reloading supplies). You can not get many different brass cartridges. They sell out just as soon as the store employees put them on display after a new shipment arrives. The prices for the new brass cartridges are sky high.

Ruger is selling so many guns that they have had to stop taking new orders for a few months just to catch up with the old orders. The company has sold a million guns since January. It's the fourth largest gun maker in America.

New stores and shooting ranges are starting up all over Colorado. The guns shows are absolutely, shoulder to shoulder packed (although there are fewer people selling things than even a few years ago).

To whom should we attribute this boom in weapon sales? For what reasons are the populace arming themselves (since the general violent crime rate is down)?

I guess it could be people trying to beat the gun ban they mistakenly think is coming.


I think it's people aware of the coming bust who want to be somewhat prepared for the total breakdown of society before the end of the decade.

I hear even Democrats are buying guns. What is this world coming to?



Looking For Moa

This is a one time worth it time waster. Go to Google maps. Zoom in on the tip of Baja California with the legend saying 2o miles. Move the cursor down about 15 clicks, just past the Tropic of Capricorn (which is not marked on Google maps). Look around for Easter Island, Rapa Nui. It's triangular and the only island for thousands of miles. It is not easy to find, but once you do, zoom down to the highest resolution and then start looking along the coast, or at one of the quarries. It's pretty cool.



Sad Statistics

One of the good things from a legal education is being able to sort out of the largely irrelevant mess of details the few operative facts which matter to the law. Let me do that with the sad tale of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Young Mr. Martin died of a gunshot wound caused by Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and a wound to the back of his head. It is impossible not to think that Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin were fighting before the gun was used to kill Mr. Martin. One eyewitness says Mr. Martin was on top of Mr. Zimmerman beating him and George Zimmerman was yelling for help just before the fatal shot was fired. We are far from having the complete story in front of us.

What ultimately will matter is who threw the first punch, as initial aggressors generally cannot then claim self defense. Generally when someone starts a fight which goes badly for the initiator, if he then uses deadly force to prevent grievous bodily injury, he's facing manslaughter charges.

Other than that bit of legal analysis, the case is not that interesting or, for that matter, newsworthy, however sad it is. Here's why. It is a very rare thing that a non-black person kills a black person. We are not a nation constantly involved in interracial violence (here is an exception but it is getting no national coverage even though the racist hate element is fairly pronounced). Blacks in America are 18 times more likely to be murdered by another black person than by a person of any other racial background. But we never, or hardly ever, talk about the common scenario. We, or at least those on the left politically, would rather talk about the rare case as if it were instructive.

President Obama said that the homicide should cause all of us to do some "soul searching." Why?
The News One ("for Black America") staff says stop using the death of Trayvon Martin to talk about black on black crime. Why? They have prejudged the incomplete evidence and called it "murder" rather than "death."

I'd rather wait until we have more information before I pass judgment.

UPDATE: Here are more recent figures than the DOJ statistics I was using (which showed that 93% of murders of black Americans were by other black Americans). Virtually the same sad statistics.

UPDATE 2: Clear thinking columnist for the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson, chimes in with his specious conclusion here. Money quote:

But the tragic and essential thing, for me, is the bull’s-eye that black men wear throughout their lives — and the vital imperative to never, ever, be caught on the wrong street at the wrong time.
There may well be a bull's-eye on the back of black males, but it's almost exclusively other black males taking the shot at them.

Here's Charles Blow at the New York Times with his take on the early state of conjecture. He brings it home:

As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.
It's fear of someone with a gun finding his boys 'suspicious' that fills his heart with dread? Is that the real world top threat to his sons?

He ends somewhat out on a limb:

Although we must wait to get the results from all the investigations into Trayvon’s killing, it is clear that it is a tragedy. If no wrongdoing of any sort is ascribed to the incident, it will be an even greater tragedy.
I'm not sure he is aware he's using the rhetorical device of apophasis. If I might paraphrase: We should await the investigation results but it's clear a crime has been committed? Really? Based on what?


Thursday, March 22, 2012


The Walking Dead Has Improved

Kinda. Here is perhaps another way to make the show better. Just kidding. Kinda.
I like the addition of the sword wielding, armless ghouls in chains attending, hooded figure. Also these people need to go to the nearest gun store and get some reloading supplies. Soon. Some suppressors for their handguns might not be a waste of time, either. Finally, they each should get a 6 foot section of one inch steel pipe and weld a spike onto the end pointing straight ahead and carry that around all the time.
OK, one more question. What is powering the ghouls' muscles? We know they don't need oxygen to continue to exist and move. We also know that they can keep up with a running human over long distances. So if it's not the Krebs cycle, what is it? Virus power? What?


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This One Made Me Laugh

Guess I've gone too many times to the Chive.


Monday, March 19, 2012


WWII Photo of the Day

African-American Marines, on Guam in 1945, walk past the remains of a Japanese sniper. If I had to guess, I'd say the Third Marines, but I can't see the shoulder patches worth beans.
Remind me to avoid having to fight anyone in the jungle rain forest. Looks like a miserable job, to me.
They all seem to be using M1 Garands; and there is no camouflage nor any helmet covers. Many of the Marines don't have any web gear on. Perhaps they took it off to assault the sniper's position, although he looks long dead.



Economics, Like Math, Is Hard

Here is a transcript of the President's most recent Weekly Address. It was about rising gasoline prices and what the 'smartest president ever' wants to do about them.

Money quote:

What’s more, at a time when big oil companies are making more money than ever before, we’re still giving them $4 billion of your tax dollars in subsidies every year. Your member of Congress should be fighting for you. Not for big financial firms. Not for big oil companies.
All successful companies make money. That's what capitalism is all about. The profitable companies which deal in a huge volume of sales will make a huge amount of money, but that's not the best way to look at it--the proper way is to look at profit margins in percentages. What's Big Oil's profit margin? 3%, below sporting goods stores but above electronic stores. In any event it's near the bottom of the list for business profit margins.

What are these subsidies anyway?

They are tax deductions regarding the production of the oil and gas. The President implies that the government is handing money it has from taxing other people and businesses over to the Big Oil companies, like the money it hands out to failed green energy companies, like Solyndra. Not true. The federal government is merely not collecting tax money. These tax breaks are very similar to the tax breaks every company can take off its corporate tax bill for net rather than gross income (but they are not precisely the same as the operable tax codes are in part unique to the exploration and extraction Big Oil does to provide oil and gas.

But let's take the President at his word and think what will happen if the oil and gas businesses are unable to take the deductions every other business can take and have to pay higher taxes. Will Big Oil react by raising prices to cover these new expenses, higher taxes?


So this is the brilliant plan to lower gasoline prices, treat these businesses differently to raise their expenses which they will pass on to consumers in higher prices.

Oh, and the President repeated the lie that we only have 2% of World Oil and Gas. Not true. Proven reserves is an economic term of art which only covers a tiny percentage of the oil and gas we can develop. Here's the truth:


Sunday, March 18, 2012


Steeler Fans

Many people think Southerners sound kinda dumb. Others pick on people from Brooklyn or Pittsburgh and attribute to them less than stellar intellects. I have my doubts that people in Pittsburgh are any dumber than anywhere else, but, here's something to make me want to rethink that. Here's a particularly stupid editorial from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, based on two less than ground breaking studies (I think this is one of the two mentioned). It takes three paragraphs of setting up a nearly useless metaphor before the editorial gets to the point, such as it is.

Sea levels are rising and a lot of people live on the coast.

Wow. How helpful.

Here's one stunningly stupid sentence:
... the sea itself is rising -- and it has been since the late 19th century.
Well, maybe a little longer than that.

Like about since 20,000 years ago, although the rate has dropped off in the last 8,000 years and is recently at about .118 inch/year (and lately it is not even that). So less than a foot per century. I think the people on the coast might have some time to escape a watery death.

The stubborn fact is that the sea level is rising (generally) all through the interglacial and then it starts falling as the new ice age begins. Then it is somewhat stable until the next interglacial starts 100,000 years later. At least that's how it's worked for the last several million years.


Thursday, March 15, 2012


Winston Churchill Crossing the Rhine

He's surrounded by Tommies who are armed with M2 and 1919a4 Browning machine guns on a Buffalo amphibious tracked vehicle. It's 1945. He's smoking a cigar. Life was good.
We used to win wars, against very tough opponents.
Wonder how we used to do that?

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Kos Daily Follies

There's a recent post over at the Daily Kos which praises "Hockey Stick" perpetrator Michael Mann. It's titled:

Michael Mann is a Modern Hero and we need to acknowledge that!

After the hagiography, however, the post allows one to vote on whether Professor Mann is praiseworthy or not. This on line poll is not going too well for Mr. Mann. As I write this, 97% say he's either manipulating data or should be fired from his teaching position. 97%!

Vox populi
, baby, she's a b**** sometimes.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Thought of the Day

As part of his turncoat campaign, longtime Republican operative Steve Schmidt — who became a “made man” working for former President George W. Bush — told his friends at MSNBC that “the notion of Sarah Palin being president of the United States is something that frightens me.” And then he went on to lump her into the same category with the morally corrupt and pathologically dishonest John Edwards.

For this, Mr. Schmidt is heralded around here like some kind of hero. The media lavishes leg-thrilling praise on him.

But what people like Mr. Schmidt don’t understand is that the reason so many Americans fell in love with Sarah Palin is not because they hate Democrats. It’s because they hate Republicans. Specifically, Republicans like Steve Schmidt.

Charles Hurt, writing about Game Change, the movie



Feminism is Dead

The Democratic water carriers at the New York Times are featuring this month's meme: The completely apocryphal Republican War on Women. Here's columnist Maureen Dowd adding heat without light.

The attempt by Republican men to wrestle American women back into chastity belts has not only breathed life into President Obama, it has roused and riled Hillary. And that could turn out to be the most dangerous thing the wildly self-destructive G.O.P. leaders have done.

In some kind of insane bout of mass misogyny, Republicans are hounding out the women voters — including Republicans and independents — who helped them gain control of the House in 2010.

How is a principled stand for freedom of employers, including religious institutions other than the churches themselves, to say what they will or will not provide in benefits, including health care coverage, trying to "wrestle American women back into chastity belts" or "mass misogyny"? This must be some of that fish/bicycle sort of logic. I admit that I can't follow it.

Here's the truth: Wanting to ban contraception is not now (and it has never been for at least 50 years) a plank of the Republican party. It can not be done in light of Griswold v. Connecticut even if the Republicans wanted to, which they don't.

This vapid repetition of charges without basis or evidence is not entertaining. But there's more.

Women have watched a chilling cascade of efforts in Congress and a succession of states to turn women into chattel, to shame them about sex and curb their reproductive rights. They’ve seen the craven response of G.O.P. candidates after Limbaugh branded a law student wanting insurance coverage for birth control pills, commonplace for almost five decades, as a “prostitute” and “slut.”

Who's trying "to turn women into chattel"? What state is? Who or what state is trying to "curb their reproductive rights"? Oh, it's Rush Limbaugh calling Ms. Fluke a slut and the lack of prostrate apologies from the Republican candidates for what someone else said (Was Ms. Dowd this up in arms, hysterically overstating what's happening and calling the President "craven" for refusing to apologize for or denounce the actions of his million dollar doner to his campaign PAC, Bill Maher's calling Sarah Palin a c*** and a tw**? I must have missed that).

American women have suddenly realized that their emancipation in the 21st century is not as secure as they had assumed. On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, a Republican, had the gall to say this, justifying his support for a bill designed to humiliate women getting abortions by penetrating them with a wand to take a picture: “Every invasive procedure has an informed consent requirement.” What he really meant is that when abortion is an option, informed consent should require an invasive procedure.

Wait, isn't scraping or sucking the fetus out of the womb necessarily an invasive process? I'm hopelessly confused here.

Of course transvaginal ultrasounds are routinely given to almost all of those seeking to have an abortion, and the only thing the Virginia bill did (which bill did not designate what sort of ultrasound procedure was used) was to make the results of the ultrasound be shown to the woman getting the abortion. I guess reality doesn't matter when you're in high dudgeon over an entirely imaginary war being waged against you.

Along with Rick Santorum’s Taliban views, Mitt Romney suggested in an interview on Tuesday with a St. Louis TV station that to help balance the federal budget he would eliminate Planned Parenthood funding: “We’re going to get rid of that.”

Which of Santorum's views are like the Taliban's? I thought he was a Catholic? More confusion on my part.

With at least a 1.3 Trillion dollar deficit per year for the past four years, and for as far into the future as the eye can see, we're obviously going to have to cut something-- do a lot of cutting, in fact. Why is cutting government spending on the primary abortion provider in the country all of a sudden waging war on women? There is nothing sancrosanct about Planned Parenthood. Certainly it's not held in high regard by all women. And wait, isn't it the policy of the United States that the government will not fund abortions based solely on inconvenience? Has that law, the Hyde Amendment, I think it's called, been repealed? (Well, close, but President Obama issued an Executive Order saying it's still good law to make Bart Stupak feel better about his betrayal of his solemnly held, pro-life beliefs).

The thing Ms. Dowd misses here (and the Democrats in general miss) is that just because it's a right, doesn't mean the government, or anyone other than yourself, has to pay for it. And having a difference of visions about rights in that light is not anti-women. It's not anti-any group. It's pro-freedom and responsibility.

Who could be against that?


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


It's No Fluke

Let's keep talking about this as if it were an important issue compared to the deficit or Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Let's keep talking about this as a sure fire winner of an issue for Democrats in general and the President in particular.* Let's keep talking about people demanding others pay for things they want through federal mandates, regulation or law. (I don't want the government to pay for things I want--I want to earn them). Let's keep talking about the Republican's principled opposition to what Ms. Fluke said, on constitutional and ordered liberty grounds, as the Republicans' completely apocraphal War on Women (there's a civil notion for you). Let's keep on talking about this at all costs, because it is just so freakin' interesting.



Whom Are You Going To Believe?

Me, or your lying eyes?
The center bar is monochrome grey.
Cover up everything around it and see.


Monday, March 12, 2012


Game Change

I didn't watch the movie and I won't. I really don't like the actress Julianne Moore and could list the movies her presence ruined for me but I don't have the time or space. I do want to talk about Steven Schmidt, the guy played by Woody Harrelson, John McCain's campaign co-ordinator and strategist. So let's recap. Not only did he do such a bang-up job his candidate lost, but he is airing all the confidential linen, dirty and clean, in order to put himself in the best light--'it wasn't me, it was the candidates, they were so bad, no one could have won that thing.' Great. The lowest cricle in Dante's Hell is reserved for traitors, as I recall.

If anyone hires this guy in the future he or she is a fool.


Friday, March 09, 2012


Non-Global Warming Chart of the Week

Rather than just lump the obscene rise in federal government borrowing due to overspending into presidential terms in office, this chart shows who, if anyone, was in charge of spending (which is almost exclusively Congress' doing). It wasn't President Clinton who cut spending and decreased the deficit, it was a Republican controlled Congress. It wasn't President Bush who radically increased the deficit at the end of his term; it was a Democrat controlled Congress.



Expanding the Frame

Here is the official anomaly chart for Northern Ocean sea ice over the last 32 years. Starting in 1979 when ice extent noticing satellites were launched, it shows a downward trend which fits the Global Warming alarmists' prediction that the effects of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere will be amplified at the poles (The sea ice in the Southern Ocean has gone up but at a much slower rate).
Not only is it going noticeably down, but it seems to be doing so at a quickening rate although since 2007 it's somewhat rallied.
Here, however, is an older chart that includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's best efforts both before and after the satellites were launched. The pre-satellite data was from Navy overflights of the Arctic. Or so says the 1990 IPCC Report on Climate (pp. 224-5), which report is where this older graph comes from. Totally different picture here. The IPCC warned us that current and wind make it difficult to attribute melting of sea ice to warmer temperatures alone. Good call.

So it hasn't only gone down at an alarming rate. With the wider frame of reference, the pattern revealed is the often-seen-in-nature sine curve of a decades long cycle of differential melting and freezing. Well perhaps not a perfect sine curve, as the alarming freezing was over a 4 year period and the 'alarming' melting was over 3 decades. Still, it's almost always better to have more information rather than less.

(h/t Steven Goddard)


Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Signs of the Times

Here is the Welcome sign at the beach in [the People's Republic of] Santa Monica, CA.

Here is the Beach Access sign at South Padre Island in Texas.

Let's all pray hope that no one ever again gets elected President from Texas. The Republicans would seek to impose their sense of propriety on us all.


Friday, March 02, 2012


Theory Meets Reality

Here are some things that you hear from the Global Warming alarmists. I used to call them Warmies, but I'm not going to any more as it's disparaging. I'm technically a luke warmer. I believe that CO2 has some effect in the atmosphere and much of the recent rise above the pre-industrial 280 ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been man-made. However, the current effect of rising levels of CO2 is approaching saturation and the man-made component is very small indeed. Despite my technical pigeonhole, I will continue to embrace the label the alarmists put on me--I'm a Denier. I deny that increasing CO2 will do anything bad. Anyway, to each of the alarmists' allegation/predictions I've responded in turn. Hat tip to Dr. Evans.

1) The sea level is rising at an ever increasing rate and will soon inundate low lying regions and coastal towns, like New York and London.

No, the sea has stopped its 1 to 3 millimeters per year natural, interglacial rise (at most .118110 inch per year). At even the old rate, that's less than 12 inches a century. So, we won't see a lot of inundation from that rate even if it picks up and resumes the former creeping. Saying it's going to rise 20 feet in just a few decades, as some alarmists claim, is wild fantasy. I have yet to hear a climate scientist of any stripe explain how the ice caps are melting at reportedly alarming rates yet the sea is not rising. Is there a such thing as negative water? (h/t Steven Goddard)

2) The rise of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere will cause a rise in temperature of between 3 and 7 degrees C by 2080.

Since Dr. Hansen made his prediction in 1988, we've had 23 years of data with which to compare. We're substantially below the Scenario C line, which scenario assumed drastic cuts to CO2 emissions of which there have been none, at least none on the whole world scale. Usually, when the theory doesn't match the data, the theory is wrong. The Global Warming alarmists attack (and adjust) the data instead. I'm sorry, who's supposed to be anti-science here?

3) The sea temperature will rise inexorably as CO2 traps ever more heat in the atmosphere and it transfers to the oceans.

Oops. Again, the prediction is wrong. The alarmists believe that their computer models are worthwhile because they are constantly adjusting the code to reproduce the recent real world data, but the computer programs are hopelessly simple. Remember the chaos theory extreme example that a single beat of a butterfly wing can create a hurricane? Well, the computer simulacra don't account for butterfly wing flaps, or a thousand other things including cloud formation. That last omission is a killer. The long term climate predictions are no more reliable than the few-days-ahead TV weather forecasts.

4) (And this is my favorite) The CO2 will trap a lot of excess heat in the atmosphere about 10 or 12 kilometers up over the tropics, which atmospheric hotspot will be the fingerprint of man made global warming.

Satellite measurement and even more comprehensive weather balloon measurement has detected no hotspot, not even the slightest glimmer of a hotspot over the tropics; so there is no man made global warming fingerprint, and the central tenet of the alarmist theory crashes and burns. If the extra CO2 in the atmosphere is not heating where it exists in the most direct sunshine, then the extra CO2 in the atmosphere is not doing squat anywhere.

5) The small increase of temperature from a doubling of CO2 will be amplified by extra water vapor the slightly increased heat CO2 will cause through evaporation, which increased water vapor will, in turn, trap ever more heat in the atmosphere. The predictions all say because of this amplification less heat will escape from the Earth into space.

The first panel is the ERBE satellite record of heat leaving the top of the atmosphere. All the other panels are the various computer models' predictions of what will happen to that same heat. They are all wrong, again. The reality is wholly different from what the models predicted. There is no positive feedback from water vapor (the 'gas' which does the heavy lifting keeping us warm). There is instead a negative feedback, so that the laboratory derived number for the increased heat from a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere (1.1 degrees C) is actually lessened largely by cloud formation and will be a mere .6 degree C rise, which is a temperature we can all live with, on our ever greening planet now that the CO2 starvation diet of plants has been ended by humans.

This series of wrong predictions are not nit-picky things around the edges of the 'settled science' of alarming man-made global warming, they are theories at the heart of the matter. They are sine qua non aspects which, when they fail, as they have, bring the whole edifice of climate theory down. The theory is refuted by reliable data. Anyone who does not at least acknowledge these problems is in denial, whistling past the graveyard of previous failed, alarmist predictions.


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