Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Official: Cindy Sheehan succumbs to Karl Rove Orbital Mind-Control Lasers

And the really sad thing is, there's probably some clueless dimwit among the Republicans who's not clapping his hands with glee...

anyway, Cindy Sheehan just got herself arrested and tossed from Congress for trying to demonstrate in the chamber... a no-no. Not realizing that her actions are worth a steady 3% Republican voter turn-out, she probably regards her actions as a great fundraising and moral victory...

Somebody, please! Release this woman from the horrible mental enslavement that Rove has inflicted upon her!

But not until 2007.

Kitty brought me a six-pointer yesterday...

Other unlikely creations can be found here. Some of which are probably better candidates, but definitely wouldn't be work-safe, unless you work for MTV...

The utter hypocrisy of Big Education

Just because I'm training to be a teacher doesn't mean my eyes aren't wide-open about the way the Education Mafia plays ball. Take for instance, this MSNBC/Newsweak cover story regarding making classroom adjustments, including sex-segregated classrooms, in order to account for the strong differences in cognitive development between girls and boys.

1. School was in trouble.
2. School made changes.
3. School sees dramatic improvements.

(wait for it)

4. Education specialists "gravely concerned."

Yep. The same people who have been telling everybody to bend over backwards to account for differences in learning strategies, even differences that are now confirmed by brain scan, are now deeply concerned about doing so when there might be an actual, documentable difference in learning strategies between the sexes involved. Which, if said enlightened Educrats would do so much as listen to a single PE coach, is something that ought to be blatantly obvious to the Education Einsteins from Day One.

So now you get legions of the "concerned" enlightened, afraid that recognizing some of these differences and trying not to actually not fail boys in school, is somehow threatening a return to a "Handmaiden's Tale" version of the 19th century, in which schools... guess what... often failed girls with learning strategies mostly designed for boys.

"Think of them as individuals," says the critics? That's precisely what these collectivist bumblefucks are refusing to do. Can the proponents of "outcome-based education" possibly fault education that results in superior outcomes? Oh, you bet they can: just threaten one of their little religious ideologies, and you'll see these Junior Ministers of the High Priest Vulture Elite(*) toss outcomes right out the window.

*Coined by the Diplomad, an anonymous Foreign-Service blog that is now defunct, here. Said definition should be expanded to include any power group that claims to exist solely for the benefit of others or the improvement of the downtrodden, yet whose actual day-to-day business involves attempting to conceal brazenly self-motivated activity behind a wall of meaningless cant interpretable only by the enlightened initiated.

Monday, January 30, 2006

My buddy's pregnant...

Well, actually, she was never my buddy... she was my kinda-sorta-constantly-completely-misunderstanding-each-other-or-else-we-might-have-been-incredible-friends partner in confusion.

Yep, it's Mel... and she's apparently already got a bun in the oven: caught it over on her blog, where her sister just whipped out the Amazing BabyBlanket Crochet, Mark I.

Go Mel!

(Us, not yet. But trying.)

No wonder us "regular Joes" can't figure it out.

We all know that Iran's elections, Jimmy Carter to the contrary, were complete shite. But now there's a major cleric admitting that Ahmadinejad was brought to power directly by the Basij interfering in the election?

Okay, duh, we know they were involved. So what?

Well, if you're currently wincing at the thought of being the guy in the hotseat on Pennsylvania Avenue wondering whether to put more emphasis on airstrikes or on regime subversion, the answer is, "we care a lot..."

Viktor Orban accuses socialists of capitalism...

Unfortunately, all I have is a summary piece, since most of the Hungarian newspapers online are strictly pay-only... but if you wanted an instant description that things are more complicated than they seem, there you go...

The explosive Crimea

Looks like the Washington Post has finally had a chance to wake up and smell the Black Sea Fleet.

Ka-boom, Rico?
Yes, Rico, Ka-boom.

How Julie Skeesick can make felt faster.

Yep, Joe, this is a trick I stumbled onto that might partially repay a rabbit hide-glue effort...
it's a neat trick, too.

You will need:
1. one bamboo screen or equivalent.
2. hot water and soap
3. a batt of wool ready for pre-felting
4. an old broken plastic blind or other plastic sheeting, smooth
5. A fifteen-dollar 1/4-sheet random-orbit palm sander (if you want to be all crazy-go-nuts and use a 1/2-sheet sander, go for it, but a cheap used one is fine)

1. Wet-felt your batt, however makes sense to you (I'm laying the batt on a reed blind and rolling it for ten minutes in the bathtub).
2. Take your pre-felted batt in its "oh, yay, I'm a single piece now" arrangement, and lay it out on plastic sheeting.
3. Take sander (without any sand-paper!), and place it on the edges of the felt sheet. Pick it up and put it down until you have the majority of the loose surface strands under control and behaving.
4. Begin to "sand" the felt. I'm finding that small circles felt the material down quickly, but tend to grab a few staples and twist them up, whereas long strokes (always going the same way) tends to make them lie down, but aren't as effective at getting them all to hold together.

Using a batt pre-made off a carding machine, I made a 2'x4' piece of felt inside an hour, and it has stayed compact as it dries.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ethanol more practical than thought?

According to an article summary on Terra Daily, some of the bright boys and girls from UC Berserkely have figured out that the previous studies on ethanol involved some pretty hefty assumptions, and were significantly more pessimistic than previously thought:
  • Ethanol's efficiency isn't as bass-ackward as assumed, and probably would do no more environmental damage than now.
  • Ethanol could become, if cellulose technology improves, a considerably more green fuel, by using all of the agricultural wastage that currently is friction in the system for farmers.
This is Good News(tm), on a variety of fronts:

  1. It means that ethanol has the potential to be a lucrative market for farmers, helping to support our agricultural base with plain-old supply and demand, rather than the effective but sledgehammerish approach currently in vogue (in more places than just the U.S.)
  2. By allowing what is effectively waste to be turned into fuel, the door gets opened up for all sorts of stuff that would normally either be landfill mass or else recycled -- the dirty truth of which being that recycling frequently comes at a higher environmental cost than widely advertised, even if it doesn't go green in terms of emissions quality, it's still a significant "green" win.


  1. Because it's a green win (or win-win if the emissions aren't too bad) and can be put in place with little adjustment to currently-existing facilities, it's unlikely to breed a "turf fight" with proponents of other political solutions such as Fischer-Tropf diesel.
  2. Since we have vast agricultural land to put to the purpose, we might not be able to become an actual energy exporter, but on an energy basis -- as opposed to a chemical/industrial one, for which we will always need oil -- this might be one of the factors that could keep the US and China from going at each others' throats. China's fuel-oil supply is militarily fragile -- very fragile -- and while it is desperately hunting for energy alternatives, currently it's forced to go to Africa for resources. Anything that diminishes that need and a) eases demand pressure on the global market, and b) provides opportunities for serious real-world cooperation, is in both national interests.
  3. We're at war with Wahhabi fanatics and potentially about to have that war extended to some of their Shiite-Madhi competitors on the global terrorism franchise scene, most of whom are essentially funded by oil. Anything that eases demand on fuel-oil hurts them directly.
  4. And, on a admittedly completely puerile note, anything that sticks a red-hot poker right into the eyes of the Saudi Arabian rulers -- who got this Wahhabi mess rolling in first place -- just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over.
Between tar sands, biodiesel, ethanol, and Fischer-Tropf clean-coal energy, the U.S. may actually wind up an energy exporter, and unlike most petro-basketcases, an energy exporter based on industrial and technological know-how, rather than 19th-century-style resource mercantilism. It's not here yet, but it's coming.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Iraq cleaning house in Anbar

Omar over at Iraq the Model has a quick update on what should be the tipping point: Iraqis standing up on their own feet and taking out the garbage all by themselves.

This is what it means when we discuss intel... folks knew where the good intel was, and where to find the bad guys. Whether they trust us or their central government sufficiently to put themselves at risk, otoh, is a very different question.

Apparently that judgment call has finally been made -- in our favor.

"Bullshit for the Purpose"

Is what my professor called me as I was trying to get a travel grant to get from Budapest up to Prague for a few days in order to get access to some Hussite Revolution primary sources (Geek inline-reference: that I needed in order to get a handle on Sigismund's affairs with the Bohemian nobles, and understand why on earth they closed the land-register before the war began, rather than what usually happens, which is using the handy excuse of a war to start cutting each others' throats).

Another way you could call it, would be "rotten mold for making great cheese." That's what we have here. Yep, the Malthusians are at it again. This time, it's not overpopulation (hard to argue that when we're in danger of getting set up for demographic collapse), but the cost of wiring up all those brown people in the developing world. Yep, we're going to run out of copper, vanadium, and all the rest of the metals, and it's all the fault of those electricity-craving darkies.

Which, as any economist can tell you, is bullshit, because as soon as something gets scarce, we get better at using less and less of it while coming up with less expensive alternatives.

But... then why is this article appearing on Space Daily, where cost-benefit analysis is an explicit part of every contract ever made by their professional readers?

The article is there because, bullshit or not, it's ammo.

If you want to get off this rock and start mining asteroids for metals, what's the fastest way to get public support for the job? Particularly, what's the fastest way of getting folks who aren't normally sympathetic to your argument, and would rather spend that money on foreign aid, etcetera, to see your side of things? Well, I don't know. But I do know that "we have to mine space so that we will be able to help the developing world modernize... because otherwise raw materials will be so expensive that it would never happen," is a pretty good one.

"Bullshit for the Purpose." Or, as Plato put it... the Noble Lie.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why I love the fact that Hamas won.

Yeah, I'm the guy who had a run-in with a Hamas guy and will kill him on sight (unless I think I stand a good enough chance of capturing him and getting him to the feds before he can tip anybody off).

But, this is serious good news, and I'm happy to hear that the Islamofascist fucktards have come into power. Yeah, that's counter-intuitive. But in foreign policy, the simple and appealing answer is, unfortunately, almost always wrong... and this is no exception.

1. Fatah was hopelessly corrupt. The New Guard fought the New Guard. Neither faction gives a rat's ass about the people, and both are hip-deep in terrorism, hardly a bunch of blushing virgins faced with the Big Bad Wolf of Hamas. (Seriously, the Algerians Arafat ran with were Bad People(tm).

2. Hamas is a bunch of Islamofascist thugs. But they've bothered to do some of the stuff Fatah should have been doing, such as running clinics, etc. Granted, they've done it for most of the wrong reasons... but Hamas winning means that the chance of that necessary social work being disrupted is minimized.

3. Fatah is now known publicly to be toothless, rather than that being known only to obsessive foreign-policy wonks. Fatah cannot be a negotiating partner, because they're powerless.

Hamas can't be a negotiating partner, because they hate us and all we stand for... wait a minute, how's that follow? So long as they're not slaughtering people wholesale, what do we care whether or not they hate us? If they step out of line, they get their teeth kicked in. If they don't step out of line... we've at least gained a negotiating partner with the actual ability, if not necessarily the desire, to carry out its pledges.

And that's a step forward. A big step forward.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have officially arrived...

Regarding my last Publius-Pundit post, I have officially been flamed as a pro-commie anti-hungarian douchebag.

Yeah. Me. Try not to make me owe you a keyboard...

That's right, folks, I've been third-party trolled-behind-my-back because of an online post.

Go me!


Ilarionov Speaks.

If you're the one out of my three regular readers who cares about international politics, read what Andrei Illarionov means when he says that The State Means Business.

It is, perhaps, the return of fascist feudalism.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ukraine taking control of Black Sea naval facilities from Russia

Since Russia's playing hardball with Ukraine, the latter is also occuring: Russia is in non-payment of its base leases since 1997, and the seagulls are coming home to roost. The predictably oafish Russian response (send in troops and hang a sign saying "property of Russia") is having the equally-predictable media effect.

Russian Gas Crisis in Georgia

(hat tip: A Step at a Time)
Eurasia Daily Monitor covers a gas crisis in Georgia involving sabotaged LNG pipelines...

A quick excerpt:

The selection of targets and close coordination of the blasts leaves no
doubt that they aimed for a total halt of Russian energy supplies to Georgia
during an unusually cold mid-winter (with Armenia suffering collateral damage).
The operation undertaken to that end in two different North Caucasus regions
demonstrates the effectiveness of whatever organization carried it out.
Suspicions focus variously on elements within Russia's secret services, intent
on forcing Georgia to its knees; or on North Caucasus guerrilla groups seeking
to discredit Moscow in the region and internationally.

Either version must be seen as a mortifying possibility by Gazprom, as well
as Russia's United Energy Systems (UES) and Transneft, and by implication the
Russian government. The blasts indicate that Moscow no longer reliably controls
energy export routes on Russia's own territory.

The first is probably more likely, but either way, it's an ugly situation.

Breaker 1-9 to the rubber duck, we got a robot in the air...

Is trucking a way of life that is about to fade away? I start to wonder, now that Oshkosh is starting to put six up with robot trucks for the Army.

Anybody who says that we shouldn't spend on our miltech is out of his mind... commercial applications will follow, and they follow very well in this case. There's a lot of, pardon the pun, heavy lifting to still be done before anybody really feels a threat to their driving jobs, but at some point folks are going to get better at bridging the differences between off-road navigation and dealing with traffic, and when that happens, truckers are either going to go away, or else have to learn to do much more as their capabilities are significantly expanded:

1. Will cruise control really live up to its name with a steering-enablement package once you're on a section of road with a sufficiently low traffic density?
2. In an economy with just-in-time manufacture, how good does it get if you have a truck that can drive 30 hours straight w/o imposing an overwhelming safety risk upon the public?

Science fiction is here today... and tomorrow, maybe, the good stuff. Like my robot flying car.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

1300 skeletons appear on Oprah, whine about bad English cooking

We can learn a lot from a bunch of dead people... we can learn about how they died young, how their teeth may or may not have been awful (they probably weren't much better than they are now, but there didn't used to be nearly the sugar available in the diet, so they could hardly be worse).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Iraq Red on Red: It's official.

Check this analysis piece out.

What I wonder is... if you read between the lines, this has SpecFor written all over it. Just like in Colombia, where the right-wing militias aren't good, but are a far cry from the insane, Sauron-like brutality of FARC, you can deal with bad guys, if you can co-opt a less bad guy to help remove a worse bad guy, and then rehabilitate the former so that they are no longer a problem but an asset for the people involved.

So, is this simultaneous due to the complex world of Jihad, Inc., or did our Sneaky Bastards(tm) just pull a coup?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Yo. Check out those stylin' hats...

(Csaba saw a leftist take off, but his shot was a little low and only winged it, and we didn't eat until we got back to town...)

So, Chirac finally grows a pair...

and is, of course, castigated by legions of scrotumless Euroweenies.

Frankly, I think Chirac has precisely the correct line on an Iranian bomb. Israel's response should be to continue upgradings its missile defenses. The US and Europe, otoh, should sit back, b/c if we hit them and their program did turn out to be civilian (in a clever move by folks who have been proven to be equally clever rulers), US foreign policy would be totally discredited.

Chirac's line is perfect: "fine, build a bomb, and if I see anything outside of Iran glowing across the horizon at night, your whole country is glass."

What's the problem with that? Only a Euroweenie would know...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ahmadinejad Zahak Mardush!!

Scaling up Ion Engines

Apparently some Aussies have figured out how to scale up an Ion Engine without suffering engine performance degradation.

Battle of Yavin Pilots Association unavailable for comment.

Osama says "spank me now, spank me hard."

Assuming the scuttlebutt I'm hearing about Osama being dead and gone from kidney failure aren't true, word out on MSNBC is that Osama's willing to call off his attack on the US in exchange for a "fair truce."

Which translates roughly to "I've found out who my Daddy is, and I'm trying to save face."

Aptera, a name you may come to know...

(hat tip: Wired "Autopia" blog)

So, here's the Aptera.

Here's it's performance sheet.

So let's see here... we get a car that accelerates like my old Ford Escort wagon (aka, badly), but will let me run to Austin and back on a single gallon of fuel, and is light enough for me and three other guys to simply pick it up and carry it across the street. The latter alone would knock it out of the running here in Texas, except that the shape is sufficiently aerodynamic that the chance of it being blown off the road by the wind should be pretty minimal. Most of it looks good: it's diesel (so it can exploit biodiesel or Fischer-Tropf down the road), it's CVT, and if the price-point holds, you can't beat that with a stick, in stark contrast to most of the more conventional alternatives.

There are problems, though... for one thing, it's a two-seater coupe. Well, for a vehicle that's strictly a commuter or pleasure car, that's okay, I guess, and I would **definitely** drive it, since most of my driving is highway where the slow acceleration can be easily mitigated by carefully selecting my on-ramps (in fact, assuming this car makes it past the concept stage, as soon as it goes public, I'm going to be seriously Jonesing for a test-drive). But it sure does down the possibility of doing a carpool. Of course at 330 mpg, the carpool itself could become an endangered species if it wasn't for the pleasure of long car conversations.

The other problem is its length... at 173 inches, we're talking about a full-sized SUV parking spot. Forget about driving this in the socially-conscious urban places where one's response to "Polski Fiat" is "ooh, I could find a parking space for that in only fifteen or twenty minutes..." balancing that out, it looks like the design should have a truly awesome turning radius.

Accelerated Composites is definitely onto something here. There's no reason a car should have to be limited to a standard 1950's-style box cockpit. If the parts are reliable, and the configuration can be tweaked in final release as some sort of hatchback configuration, it could even wind up being the "early Honda Hatchback" of the early 21st century: the car that all the pretty people laughed at, but which to this day has thousands of people gently easing their cars into their twelfth or even fifteenth year of operation, rather than replacing it with one of the more conventional designs to which the entire car industry has so shamelessly retreated.

This is definitely one to keep your eye on.

Great Old Ones' servants off the Japanese coast

Picture here, complete with tentacle goodness.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Scientists discover warm water!

In other news, scientists have determined that men actually enjoy getting physical revenge on people... no word on a cure for cancer.

Traditional Russian winter boots

Have about an inch of felt lining on the insides... now all the poor bastards who didn't want "old people boots" know why...

(This also really puts the notion of Russia as an "energy power" to the test, as it's quite clear that they are woefully unable to supply their own citizens' needs, let alone everybody else's.)

Ciao bella -- oops, I mean, "Death to America!"

Ski bunnies!! Yep, that's right, men and women, skiing together. Oh, the humanity! How awful! How depraved! How un-Basij-like!

Now try to imagine, if the topography were to cooperate, this scene going down in Iraq or Saudi Arabia, and you'll see the prospects for Iranian-American relations if the nutbags ever lose their grip on power... and how much will be lost if said power is too-firmly cemented.

(hat tip: Publius Pundit)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Meet the Press

The Wall Street Journal is read by people who run the country.
The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country- if they could find the time - and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.
The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who is running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country .. or that any one is running it; but if so, they oppose everything they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from another country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

(hat tip: Dad, via email)

Ahh, America....

(Hat Tip: Carnival of Cordite, Zombie Edition. Photograph by Oleg Volk. Used sorta w/ permission. For more of what makes Oleg tick, see "Self-Defense: a Human Right," in the sidebar.)

Radio for fantasy-obsessed sisters-in-law...

Radio Rivendell, coming at you live from Imladris...

and, actually, as background music at work, it's not that bad... think about it. Film and game music is designed to evoke mood while remaining in the background, and fantasy film music in particular is designed to hang in the "ambient" frame while trying to widen the mind, as it's focused on reinforcing one's suspension of disbelief... inherently more difficult watching some dude in funny pants who's named "Willow," than when watching, say, Schindler's List.

Some of it, such as the piece playing now, is of course, execrable. On the other hand, directly preceding it was a lovely variation on Chopin's Funeral March... not bad for office-schlubbing...

Weather woes...

We're hot and dry all winter so far here in Texas... meanwhile, the Northeast has been pelted with rain, and the Mari lands southwest of Moscow are having the coldest weather on record...

CNN buckles to the Iranians

Yeah, hard news from the company that papered over Saddam's torture regime in exchange for access... in other news, Hydrogen continues to contain one proton.

Jackboots in China, 2006 edition, chapter 337

Just a toss-off... "the government wants our land, what can we do?"

Not much, unless you want their thugs beating your teenage daughters to death...

Lots of folks are terrified that China is going to wind up as a behemoth in world affairs, but the downside is already apparent. A regime that doesn't even blink at brutalizing its own citizens is a regime that will never taste any of the actual benefits of modern capitalism... at best, a sort of second-rate mercantilism is all they'll ever manage. This is because the former is a system built upon a culture of trust and the rule of law, whereas all the latter needs is people to obey rules.

Russians playing the dictator game again...

Their on-again, off-again support is off again. Look for it to be on-again when Putin needs diplomatic cover and can use the opportunity to call for some other bloke to be restrained and moderate...

Alliance with Indonesia?

No, it's not going to be easy. But we need it, they're improving by truly notable margins, and we truly need not to screw up in Indonesia like we did during the Cold War. Indonesia's incredible domestic diversity actually makes it a good theoretical match with us if their domestic reforms continue.

Reuters: ooh, the Iranians could stop selling oil!

In this profoundly stupid article, Iran is said to hold a Sword of Damocles over the world economy with the threat of refusing to sell oil.

As if Hurricane Katrina didn't prove quite clearly that energy shocks are a mild issue so long as your economy's not being taxed to death.

Perhaps Iran can actually survive and pay a bunch of thugs with its savings. But if they're stupid enough to shut off the oil... good for them. Because every time mid-east oil looks to tank, oil-tar sands and Fischer-Tropf just look that much the better to investors who prefer to do business in places not run by nutballs who think the 12th Imam blesses them with holy light at press conferences.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A question regarding takfir and Islam.

I have a theory that I'd like to run past folks. I am closing comments on this one, and asking Muslims who read this to drop me an email with their reaction (the address is to the right in the sidebar).

It is difficult for outsiders to get a grasp of who a "good muslim" is, when the muslim community itself seems deeply divided on the issue, takfir flying all over the place. And we already have the well-known problem of the Satanic Verses, and various arguments discussing which Sura and Hadith are to be taken within a specific context, and which are meant to be widely and generally applicable.

One theory might be the following: if God sent many prophets, all of whom said different things, particularly in the context of how people are to live, the natural logic that follows from this is one of two things:

1. God can't make up his mind about how people should live.
2. People put their own interests before God, and effectively forget what they're told over time.

#1 isn't going to get us anywhere, for reasons that should be blazingly obvious. #2, on the other hand, makes sense. So, let us run with that one. God being by definition omniscient, you have to assume that he would know ahead of time that he was going to send more than one prophet, which means that we've effectively been given a neat corrective tool by which to measure our understanding (not counting the hopeless arguments over who is and is not a false prophet)... the message should be consistent. Islam accepts that Jesus was a prophet. Jesus came to fulfill the Mosaic law, and specifically corrected those who followed the letter of the law, but not its spirit, in the process laying down two very specific and direct Commandments. It is easy to see how the two Great Commandments (1. Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself -- even if your neighbor is your enemy.) do not conflict in the slightest with the Ten Commandments of Mosaic Law.

Therefore, can this not also be applied to the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed? Is it or is it not possible to determine who is a true Muslim by determining the extent to which what they teach is true to what all of God's prophets have said, in stark contrast to those raving egos who change the message because they think that they know better than God?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Planet discovered with three suns?

Pretty cool. Would love to go hit it with a digital camera at "dawn." Of course, if Jochem Hauser is right about building a hyperdrive, that would mean that we could go visit the sucker for a giant picnic, with a total round trip, assuming you stayed there for a year, of just under four years.

Pretty cool, eh?

Looks like Hitchcock was right...

Apparently, giant eagles and such liked to rip our ancestors' faces off. Or, worse than that, ~"punch holes in their brain and hover over them while they died before returning to rip at the skull."

I don't get it. Why return to rip at the skull, when there's a tasty monkey butt laying there? What were these, zombie eagles? When you hear that long, horrible raptor screech, you didn't realize that was just a high-pitched version of screaming "brains," did you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Low-intensity, high-contagion bird flu?

Bird flu continues to spread, causing much damage in such a way that it's easy to think in abstract terms that neglects the very human angles of the disease, such as little girls who adore their pet chickens.

We're seeing very easy spread from bird to person, and fortunately none person to person... but it seems to me (and I could be wrong), that it's not causing the level of deaths that had been previously predicted...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hanging a rape victim: yes, it's Iran.

Her crime? Apparently to defend herself. Welcome to the middle east, where women are property. And where the men in charge want to remold the entire world into the image of their own broth of darkness.

This has got to be the death of multiculturalism. If this culture is perfectly valid, then Boston liberals have to respect my perfectly valid cultural custom of beating men to death with pick handles when they try to stone and gang-rape defenseless girls in a park, and of taking the men who would sentence her to hang for the crime of defending herself, and letting them be hoisted up in the air in that same park to serve as an example while they bleed down the dull pig-pole stuck up their asses while the wild dogs jump up to try to catch pieces of their legs.

Because whether the liberal pantywaists admit it or not, that's MY culture's perfectly acceptable male reaction to gang-rapists who think women should be treated like tissue paper, and their tyrant enablers, who think that all the women in the world should be terrified into submitting to said atrocity.

(Russ Angry Mode: Enabled.)

If I can't tear it and crumple it up into a wad...

is it still buckypaper?

Science fiction is here today: but which one?

I remember my Dad saying, regarding the very cool movie we'd just taken a long drive to see in the theatres ("Aliens," which would then become one of my Mom's favorite popcorn movies of all time -- but then again, I had a very cool Mom who'd hide the chickflix until she knew we'd left...), "if they're so far into the future, why are they all running around with weapons from the 1970s?"

Some folks may have seen this article on hyperdrive developments last week: I was too busy, unfortunately, to blog it at the time, but if you missed it, there's a guy out there, who is for real, who thinks he can have a warp engine working prototype by 2011 or so. (Comment-hogs can see the aftermath on Slashdot.) However, I took Sunday as a VERY quiet day, spent doing chores and reading out Homeward Bound in the front yard (worth reading if you've read the previous books, which are very good, but it bogs down a lot, as it is essentially a set of philosophical musings put to characters... it's the Delian League vs. Christian Ethics vs. Utilitarianism in several flavors), and the two together struck a tiny gong in my forebrain:

Well, outside of seeing through walls with motion sensors, that sounds an awful lot like Aliens...
or, not.

The fundamental divide is this: how long are our legs? Somebody in New York doesn't have to care about the Midwest, or even know where St. Louis is, because his legs are long enough to be in LA in four hours or thereabouts. He can pick and choose where he wants to hang out. On the other hand, if he's an 8th-century peasant, he's going to exploit each and every bit that happens to be near him, because his legs are short, and his options limited. Shaping his environment is mandatory for his physical survival in the same sort of way that access to Blue America's shiny spots are critical to Madonna's bottom line. (which, if anybody's paying attention lately, is getting spanked by gals who have less talent, but actually use it, as opposed to Madam-Reinvent-Yourself, who is brilliant, but produces hack work. But I digress.)

More to the point, how long are private industry's legs? Governments will explore, sure, but they will never fund interplanetary colonisation, because governments inherently act with a sense of ownership concernings its citizens/subjects. NASA, whose manned-program bozo-no-no mistakes are the stuff of tinfoil-hat legend (can you say "positive grounding," boys and girls?), will never "open the frontier," because Congress will never knowingly pay out the nose in order to slash its own tax base with permanent "brain drain" to other planets. Congress is worried about brain-drain concerning the loss of Indian programmers and engineers... Mars just ain't cuttin' it on K Street, unless special government contractors have a need to be up there: but even then, simple economics dictates that such facilities will be a mostly-automated affair.

I've written previously about Golevka. If private industry's legs expand slowly, along the track everybody expects it to, with a travel time to Mars measured in optimistic weeks and transit time to Jupiter in optimistic months, then for the short-term history of human space colonisation, Golevka is "high ground," commercially and strategically much more important than its mass, due to the very specific orbit it possesses.

If you can get to Mars in three hours, Golevka's nothing but a rock.

Take me out, to the Black.
Tell 'em I ain't coming back...

If you can get to Mars in weeks, then Europa and Ganymede look like places we might actually consider settling as we hunt through the Ice Dwarfs for water and other habitable places on the outer edges of the solar system, where the sun is no more impressive in their sky than Jupiter is in ours now. We'll be developing massive amounts of ecological-technology know-how in order to actually settle all these places, and our societies will increasingly find man-made habitats constructed out of ridiculously modified Ice Dwarfs, Moons, (and just plain rocks) to be a good deal as we become experts in getting the most benefit from the least mass.
If you can get to 61 Cygni in 80 days, and Proxima Centauri in just under a month... nobody's going to bother colonising Charon, except as some kind of rich man's suburb or True Believer's social experiment. We'll have the pick of the spiral arm, looking for prime real estate, and not even bothering to do anything but strip-mine anything less than optimal. Mercantilism will be back in style, and "center vs. periphery" will make sense in a way that Blue America never dreamed of regarding Flyover Country. The only reason to ever do anything with a hell-hole like Venus will be to hide from people you'd rather not have to deal with. It'll be Manifest Destiny all over again, only this time there won't be any Indians to stomp all over and break treaties with in the process.
Maybe there won't be any Indians.
Maybe they'll have acid for blood.

This week's sappy animal photo brought to you...

by a Pony, her Kitten, and the letter A followed by a lot of w's.

Alito Theater Proves Democrats Incompetent

Now that the Alito Theater has opened, let's put some things in perspective toot-sweet.

The Alito nomination has nothing to do with Alito. Alito's conservative creds are well-known, and no more particularly conservative than Ginsburg is liberal. In other words, unless you're far enough left that you think Ginsburg is a moderate, you may not really care for his ideological orientation, but there's nothing there to make you shriek "Eek, a Fascist!"

So while the Blogosphere loses its mind arguing over whether Alito is a secret homophobic racist anti-environment love child of Henry Kissinger and Martin Luther's grumpy great-aunt Gertrude, let's look at something else.

Some folks think that the Dems have no choice but to filibuster Alito. They're wrong. Opposition to Alito is the worst possible political mistake they can make. Here's why: it's a mid-term election year, and the election in the cycle MOST likely to hose the incumbent party in Congress. Given the Dems' absolute need to make some gains in this election, what is the worst possible play they could make? What could the Democrats in Congress, the Senate particularly, possibly do to guarantee a maximal Republican turnout in the midwest and other competitive states?

Yeah. That.

There are members of the screeching left who are serious money-men. George Soros of bad-tie fame is one of them. Dems who are dependent on the international socialist crowd like Georgie Porgie and his like have little choice but to toe the line or see their funding dry up... but anybody else who's a Dem has a choice: he can tell the uberlefties to shut up, and ask them "where ya gonna go," just like the Republicans do to their own weirdo fringe. Or, they can risk a Daschle. Yeah. Remember him?

Is Alito really going to do the Liberal Causes that much damage? Well, may-be. But said causes are only in the Courts because Congress allowed the Courts to encroach upon their jurisdiction and legislate from the bench. Guess what? A solid, lasting Republican majority will make the courts a null issue, simply by asserting Congressional perogatives in a way that completely hoses the Left. Letting Alito quiety slip onto the court, and harnessing liberals' and leftists' anger at that into mid-year fundraising money, is the best bet they have.

Giving talk radio jocks months of tasty soundbites to play for their true believers? That's the kind of thing you expect from Greens, Libertarians, and the Constitution Party. You know, the "also rans."

You'd think the Democrats would know better.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Martial arts != "Arts of Combat"

"I can do that technique."
Yeah, right.

One of the things that keeps martial arts from being simply about hurting people, is that you can do an awful lot of damage to people while using really horrible technique. I had a buddy I used to spar with, whose technique was atrocious, but we played even because he was fast as hell, and strong as an ox. Well, strong as an ox on specific angles. There's a big difference between being able to military press a guy's body weight (which he could do, easily), and being able to apply that power on funny angles.

So I was talking to my Dad and my brother about Pugil sticks. I think they'd be a lot of fun, because you'd get to engage in the sheet unmitigated joy of hitting folks with good technique and full power, w/o worrying about damage. Now, for y'all who don't train, let me step back a bit. When you first start training in some so-called "combat art," unless you're an ox, you usually don't have any power. So you spar, and you bring your "A-game," and put everything you've got into your attacks... in order to achieve no results whatsoever, because you're working on a crude and inefficient level where your muscles are fighting against each other, and you've got all sorts of horrible parasitic movements built in that you don't even know are there. Your seniors are always blathering about "structure," whatever the hell that means. And they're all a bunch of meanies who hit too hard.

Then you start to figure out structure and get some technique, and all of a sudden you're the meanie, trying to understand how everybody can have suddenly turned into such wusses. Well, of course, they didn't: you started to get some actual technique. And from there on out, unless you live as a crook, soldier, or security specialist, or else get in the ring and restrict the techniques you use, you're never going to hit anybody full-power again without a ton of padding between the two of you. (And, conversely, when guys rock your world w/o even trying, you start to recognize where that's coming from, and to begin to be able to distinguish the guys who are simply competent from those who are truly scary. Oh, and y'all in the "no holds barred" crowd can stuff it: I could spend twenty minutes describing all the stuff you guys aren't allowed to do in the ring, or octogon, or whatever you're calling it this week.)

I am my school's senior student (ugh). After five years, I can throw a jab, a cross, and, actually, a pretty decent hook if I can get in the right position. I can do one of the kicks in my style.


That's right. I know how to do others... but that doesn't mean I can do them yet. Some of them I can sort of frame in, a few others I've got windo glass put in, and there are even one or two I've got waiting for the trim... but I can't really say I do any of them correctly: the windows of my kicks are all incomplete. Knowing how doesn't get you squat. Until you can do it in perfect form like a tireless machine, while smiling and telling dirty jokes, you're doing something wrong in the technique. Now, some styles have an inherently higher "despair factor" than others, which is why everybody and their grandmother makes fun of Jeet Kune Do (df way too low), and why 99.44% of the so-called "internal martial arts" you see done out there is complete crap (df stratospheric, and therefore usually corrupt in transmission). Our salle's primary style has a medium-to medium-high df.

Same game last night, when we worked on the "hip twitch," which lets you ride impact off your opponent to throw a second blow. The puppies can't do it. They're frustrated. What they don't really seem to realize at any intuitive level is that the dude who's playing at being senior student and demonstrating the technique (aka, me) can't do it either. All I've got are its rough outlines. I've got a clue, where a couple of them can't even wrap their brains around what it's supposed to look like... but "clue" != "do" != < ..."correct."

And that's where martial arts begin to really deviate from its argument-by-dictionary* etymological definitions. "Rough outlines" are all your average scrapper has, and pretty much all he needs. Add "toughness" and "heart" to the mix, and he's good to go. Because his goal, which is to pick up this moron who's just harassed a chick in the bar, and monkeyhop him out the door to the street, is different than the goal of the guy who's pursuing a hobby where you just happen to smack each other around a lot.

*As an aside, is there any field outside of high-school geometry where arguing by definition actually helps to further understanding, or to stifle your urge to throttle the poor clueless jerk who thinks he's being intelligent by engaging in it?

Russian Hardliners now available in "Disco Wallace" flavor.

Check it out. Looks like the asshat would like some Wensleydale...

AWESOME blonde joke

Oh, man, folks are going to hurt me, but Samantha Burns links up the most awesome blonde joke ever. Oh, man, is that's funny.

Schwarzenegger to California: You asked for it, baby.

Schwarzenegger, in one of the most roundabout ways of saying "fuck you" to the voters that has ever been heard, has unveiled a vast new spending package, including floating a new state bond.

Why? Well, he tried to ram through change, and the voters shot his arrogant butt down. But unlike most politicians, he actually admits publicly to having lost. Not short of a touch of bitterness, this package represents "oh, so you want business as usual? I'll give you business as usual..."

Which means that there will be no meaningful reform in that state until it's finally run off a cliff under the weight of its own union-enforced educational mediocrity, state-regulator-enforced business exodus (which in California will give sub-orgasmic shivers of anti-capitalist delight to precisely the lower-middle-class workers who most depend on these corporations for jobs), and ever-mounting public debt.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Now THAT's a virus.

The nifty thing about Move-by-Wire and other spiffy technologies that will come about during the "rapture for nerds" discussed over at Dean's World isn't necessarily that everybody will be able to get wired up or neurally trained-up to move like a ballerina...

but that once this is achieved, some bright boy will figure out how to insert an algorithm that will make you walk like an epileptic variation on Grouch Marx, while simultaneously doing the Macarena every time you sneeze.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Poland: Ambassadors Wanted

Ex-commies and "special services" need not apply.

All that, and she's Secretary of State, too...



Soy is bad for you...

if you're a guy, that is. And especially if you're a mouse with a heart problem.

Surprising no one, Morales blows Chavez in public

and gets a nifty sword as payment.

Israel to go to war with Iran.

That's what it means that Sharon has had a massive cerebral hemorrhage... because w/o Sharon, BiBi comes to power, and he's on record saying that he "will" go after Iran's nuke capacity.

Egyptian Troops: Complicit, or Pathetic?

Okay, Gaza strip "militants" (a.k.a., assholes) knocked a hole in the border fence again. A whole bunch of border-divided families got together. yadda yadda yadda.

But, read that again. 3000 Egyptian troops sent to keep order were forced to withdraw a half-mile? Because of Hamas' bozos? You know, the guys who carry homemade rockets in the beds of linerless bouncy pickup trucks?

Complicit, or Pathetic? You decide!

Quick query on readability to my three regular readers...

(I've almost dug myself out from under, real posts will soon follow)

Last night I was working on the long-overdue wishlist I was instructed to make by the Wifely One ages ago b/c people keep telling me I'm impossible to shop for -- especially b/c now it's post-holidays and I'm safe to actually list stuff w/o feeling like a mercenary yuppie freak...

...but then it occurred to me that the blog on which I wrote it, HappyCrow, which I normally use only for image hosting, has that ascii look I like, and is a bit more comfortable on the eyes.

Which of the two seems easier to read?

Slow blogging around here...

it'll pick up as soon as I can get past the holiday backlog here at work. Trust me, I'll be twiddling my thumbs here soon enough....