Thursday, June 28, 2007

Price Controls

I have made one of my periodic visits to the Netscape blog where today's topic is Anger At the Gas Pump. A topic already covered here. So the topic drifts to Nixon's wage and price freeze.

We have an economic genius who says the policy was really nice but didn't last long enough. farmerman has an answer; a good one too.

Did you like the shortages and gas lines? If we don't want to buy the oil, the Chinese and others will gladly buy it. You libs can try to rewrite history, but you sure can't rewrite the rules of supply and demand.
I wouldn't be so sure. We have a Democrat Congress.

The price freeze in Venezuela is working out nicely. You cannot by food that cost more than is allowed now. There is a reason for that. All the price controlled food has disappeared from the market shelves.

Price controlled oil in America had the same effect.

It is terrible the way the price of gasoline rises and falls. Except for the fact that you can buy it when you need it. Price stability by government fiat comes at the price of availability.

Economics in one easy lesson:

A woman comes into a butcher shop. She tells the butcher she wants some chickens. But she wants to pay the same price as the butcher across the street advertises in his window. "Your prices are too high", she says. The butcher asks, "Why don't you go across the street for your chickens?" "They haven't got any", she replies.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Every One Knows There Is A War Coming

I have been interested in the future for a long time. Especially once I figured I was going to live the rest of my life there. So Michael Totten's bit on what the Israelis expect in their near future was of great interest to me.

While the United States is psychologically preparing itself to lose the war in Iraq, the Middle East may be plunging headlong toward a catastrophe.
Israel is preparing for an imminent war with Iran, Syria and/or their non-state clients.

Israeli military intelligence has projected that a major attack could come from any of five adversaries in the Middle East. Officials said such a strike could spark a war as early as July 2007.

On Sunday, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Cabinet that the Jewish state faces five adversaries in what could result in an imminent confrontation. Yadlin cited Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Al Qaida.

"Each of these adversaries is capable of sparking a war in the summer," Yadlin was quoted as saying.
I think that a general Middle East war is in our future. It will make last summer's action seem like a very small affair indeed.

So what is the word on the Israeli street?
UPDATE: A reader emails:
My daughter just came from spending five months at Ben Gurion University in Beer-Sheva. She had a wonderful time studying, hiking, camping, student demonstrations, working in soup kitchens, skiing up north, petra...etc. She came home two weeks ago and just matter of factly stated that "everyone knows there is a war coming."
That is pretty much how the "Israeli street" feels right now according to just about everything I've heard and read lately.
There are a couple of reasons (at least) why you might want to open a new front in a war.

1. You are winning - press the enemy on all fronts.
2. You are losing - provide a distraction.

It is hard to say which it is without an insiders look at both camps. If I was betting on this I'd favor the second point. Our enemies are not far from internal collapse. They have to move. The one thing you cannot do with bayonets is sit on them - Talleyrand approximately.

Will the U.S. get drawn in? Odds favor it because we are already in. I believe our success in Iraq means that a new front must be opened. Since a major new front against the US is not possible the only thing left is to go after our major ally in the area.

The US is making progress in Iraq. There is unrest in Iran. Our enemies may not be on the ropes but they are being severely punished. So this move to open a new front could be a strategic blunder due to overstretch unless the jihadis are hoping that with an Israeli war on the front pages they can lay low in Iraq and regroup.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Plan B From Outer Space

My friend Sgt. Mom, from the Daily Brief has an idea and some chapters of a book she wants to get published. She needs your help. I'll let her explain:

So here's the story, of a blogger (me, of course) who wrote a long multi-part essay a couple of years ago about an incident in history which had always intrigued her, and after posting it, some readers were also intrigued, since they had never heard of it before. And one the readers thought it might make an interesting movie proposal, so I did one, which didn’t go anywhere except to a friend of that reader about a year later. The friend thought it would be better to write a novel, because movies based on published novels were an easier sell. So, when I got let go from a corporate admin job a year ago, I sat down and wrote a ripping good historical read, based on all the stuff I had written before.

I was obsessed by the original story of the 1844 wagon-train party who were the first to take their wagons over the Sierra Nevada ., two years ahead of the Donner Party, yet who did not loose a member of the party, even though they also were caught in the snow. Since they were the first to discover the Truckee Pass over the mountains, they also met an incredible challenge of establishing a new trail. How did they manage to work together? Who were they, and what sort of experience did they bring to this great venture? And what did they experience, this handful of men, women and children, once they stepped off into the trackless wilderness a hundred and sixty years ago,?

I had come to believe that their story was the sort of story that we needed to rediscover. We need to be reassured that our forbearers were brave, competent people, capable of working together, of looking out for each other, of daring the wilderness, or any other challenge with grace and courage. We need to get back to our stories, and I felt very strongly that this is one of them.

So I went gamboling playfully in the literary trenches for much of the last year trying to interest an agent and/or a publisher. I have now gone through all the Book of Agents and the Book of Publishers Who Deign To Consider Un-Agented Submissions (all both of them) and been rejected. Hey, and it isn’t because I suck as a writer, either. Everyone who has read the manuscript over the last year has said "God, what a riveting story... and why have I never heard of these people!?"

The problem seems to be, as I gather from lurking meaningfully in neighborhood of a lot of book and literary-industrial blogs, is there is a hell of a lot of dreck along with the merely OK to Pretty Damned Good Stuff. The traditional publishing world seems to be swamped up to it’s gorgeously nipped and tucked neck, which kind of seriously affects how they can handle the not-inconsiderable quantity of fairly OK to Pretty Damned Good stuff which winds up on the shelves of your local Borders or Barnes & Noble.

And that stuff which makes it past the gatekeepers is still in absolutely unmanageable quantities. All the competent and ethical agents seem to have about all they can do to look at hundreds of similar OK to Pretty Damned Good submissions clamoring for their attention and time and make a snap decision on accepting and managing the tiny percentage of those that will pay off with the least amount of effort on their part.

They kept sending me these letters admitting that they just didn’t feel the passion for my book that they felt was necessary to represent me adequately. No one feels sufficiently passionate about “To Truckee’s Trail” except for me, and those dozen people who have read the entire thing and loved it passionately too. Unfortunately, all those people were just readers and other writers.

And being a military retiree with a mortgage and trying to make it as a freelance writer, I am perennially broke so, here goes Plan B.; a fund drive to do a POD version, to buy advertising, and put review copies where they will do the most good. I’ve set up a Paypal link at The Daily Brief, for anyone who wants a good old-fashioned ripping yard about the Frontier, about the people who built America, or maybe even just have the fun of seeing an unknown writer make an end-run around the literary-industrial complex.

I think I can promise an autographed copy of “To Truckee’s Trail” to anyone who contributes over a certain amount, too.

Hey, it works for Public Radio, doesn’t it?

Sample Chapter

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Gas Wars In Iran

In America a "gas war" is a price war. Fuel stations compete for customers by lowering prices. In Iran the "gas war" is caused by a government mandated sudden jump in fuel prices.

The Spirit of Man blog has a round up of the gas wars in Iran with pictures. It appears Iran is burning.

I am getting some first hand reports from inside of Iran about the situation resulted from fuel ration policy which will go into effect as of tonight midnight (local time) through out the country.

Angry people have blocked the main highway in Tehran and several serious clashes have occurred in gas stations across the capital. The amount of anger among the people is such that police forces have refused to intervene in some parts of the city where roads are blocked and people have shattered the buildings' windows. And some reports indicate that 50 petrol stations were set ablaze in Tehran alone and at least 3 people died in the clashes.
The Socialist Theocrats running Iran (into the ground) bought the favor of the population with low gasoline prices. However, with 40% of Iran's gasoline imported and gasoline prices skyrocketing it appears that the subsidy is unsustainable. The regime had to raise prices. This has made the regime very unpopular to the point of riots.

The Middle East Times reports:
TEHRAN -- Angry Iranian youths torched petrol stations in Tehran and long queues formed at fuel pumps after the government announced the start of fuel rationing, triggering nationwide protests Wednesday.

Youths set a car and petrol pumps ablaze at a service station in the residential Pounak area of northwestern Tehran, throwing stones and shouting angry slogans denouncing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

After the announcement of the rationing plan in the energy-rich nation, which affects both private cars and taxis, long queues started appearing at fuel pumps in Tehran and in the countryside.

Ahmadinejad has already come under fire over his economic policies, which a group of economists complained earlier this month were fuelling inflation and hurting the poor.

Iran, OPEC's number two oil producer, announced Tuesday that its long-awaited plan to ration petrol was coming into force at midnight, a move the government says is aimed at reducing colossal state petrol subsidies.

"From midnight tonight (2030 GMT) petrol for all vehicles and motorcycles will be rationed," state television said, quoting an oil ministry statement.

It said private cars using just petrol would be rationed to 100 liters of petrol a month while those using petrol and compressed natural gas (CNG) would only be allowed 30 liters.
Let me translate that into American. One hundred liters a month is about 25 gallons.

Basically Iran is hobbled economically by two things. A theocracy based on 7th century ideas on how to organize society and an economic policy discredited with the fall of the USSR. Ahmadinejad is an economic illiterate. He doesn't get it. He has pumped the economy full of cash. With no productive capacity to absorb the cash it has led to runaway inflation. Even though the cash is mostly imported at market prices. He should have studied what happened to Spain when they found gold in the Americas. Spain did get richer. It also got a heavy dose of inflation. Despite the fact that gold is "real" money. As with all things he may not be getting what he wants, but he is getting an education. I'm hoping he gets educated to death. Or if he is lucky, absorbs his lessons in exile.

Gateway Pundit has a round up with more pictures.

A. Jacksonian has reminded me of a bit he did on the state of Iran's Oil Sector. Very complimentary to the above.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Principles Of Forecasting

Did you know there were principles of forecasting? I don't mean like the positions of the planets. Which for time spans of tens of thousands of years is fairly mechanical. The kind of forecasting I'm talking about involves events that are less deterministic than the motions of the planets. And yet there are principles.

The first is to classify the methodology. Are you starting with numbers or guesses? Which is to say how good is your data base? If you have numbers, what kind of precision is attached? Do you use the numbers directly? Or do you use statistical methods to tease out "useful" information?

OK. You have some data. Now you have to select a method of analysis that is both suitable to the data and the purpose for which it will be used. Is this an investment decision? Or just a report on something to keep an eye on? Do you have a business plan in hand or just a casual "this seems like a good idea"?

The above pages are full of annotated charts with little pop-up explanation boxes to help you understand the charts.

And if that isn't enough the authors of these pages and the accompanying book will give you free help if you describe your problem(s) to them.

We have come a ways and surely it can't be just to talk about forecasting methods. Well yes and no. I want to talk about climate. Climate forecasting.

J. Scott Armstrong, of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and Kesten C. Green, of the Business and Economic Forecasting Unit, Monash University have done a short audit of IPCC climate science [pdf] based on the forecasting principles outlined above.

I think it would be good to start with the title which really gets to the heart of the matter.

Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts
Naturally they have some points to make.
In 2007, a panel of experts established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme issued its updated, Fourth Assessment Report, forecasts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group One Report predicts dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years. We asked, are these forecasts a good basis for developing public policy? Our answer is “no”.

Much research on forecasting has shown that experts’ predictions are not useful. Rather, policies should be based on forecasts from scientific forecasting methods. We assessed the extent to which long-term forecasts of global average temperatures have been derived using evidence-based forecasting methods. We asked scientists and others involved in forecasting climate change to tell us which scientific articles presented the most credible forecasts. Most of the responses we received (30 out of 51) listed the IPCC Report as the best source. Given that the Report was commissioned at an enormous cost in order to provide policy recommendations to governments, the response should be reassuring. It is not. The forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific procedures. In effect, they present the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing. We found no references to the primary sources of information on forecasting despite the fact these are easily available in books, articles, and websites. We conducted an audit of Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s WG1 Report. We found enough information to make judgments on 89 out of the total of 140 principles. We found that the forecasting procedures that were used violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical. We have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts to support global warming. Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder.
Then they have a devastating word about the "consensus".
Agreement among experts is weakly related to accuracy. This is especially true when the experts communicate with one another and when they work together to solve problems. (As is the case with the IPCC process).

Complex models (those involving nonlinearities and interactions) harm accuracy because their errors multiply. That is, they tend to magnify one another. Ascher (1978), refers to the Club of Rome’s 1972 forecasts where, unaware of the research on forecasting, the developers proudly proclaimed, “in our model about 100,000 relationships are stored in the computer.” (The first author was aghast not only at the poor methodology in that study, but also at how easy it was to mislead both politicians and the public.) Complex models are also less accurate because they tend to fit randomness, thereby also providing misleading conclusions about prediction intervals. Finally, there are more opportunities for errors to creep into complex models and the errors are difficult to find. Craig, Gadgil, and Koomey (2002) came to similar conclusions in their review of long-term energy forecasts for the US made between 1950 and 1980.

Given even modest uncertainty, prediction intervals are enormous. For example, prediction intervals expand rapidly as time horizons increase so that one is faced with enormous intervals even when trying to forecast a straightforward thing such as automobile sales for General Motors over the next five years.
They have lots more where that came from. What it boils down to is a warning in the wash room. Keep your eye on this. It is not worth a meeting. Let alone a report to the investment committee.

In electronics we can work with very complex systems because the interactions are strictly limited. How is this done? A marvelous Bell Labs invention called the transistor. It isolates as well as performing other useful functions.

The electronics guys, with lots of knowledge and isolation plus simple models, are real happy when their predictions of what will happen next in a circuit comes within 5%. The climate guys say they can tell within better that 1%. What are the odds?

When you have lots of things or some very complex things interacting, prediction gets hard. As a very great Yogi is reputed to have said: "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, June 25, 2007

When Only The Truth Is Allowed...

Some of the conspiracists over at Volokh were discussing the Bong Hits for Jesus" case that the Supreme Court decided. Basically they said that if you intentionally skip school and show up at a public event with a "Bong Hits for Jesus" sign a 10 day suspension for the sign is not unreasonable because school kids were expected to be at the public event as part of a field trip.

Trouble is people have no idea how bad drugs are.

Calling attention to them by public ridicule of the Drug War will not be tolerated in America.

In Canada telling the truth about drugs will get you thrown out of school.

Do you see what these drugs are doing? By their very nature they destroy free speech. All is not lost. I have a fix. We declare all discussion of the Drug War and why people take drugs illegal except for professionals licensed or authorized by the state. Fortunately the state has access to enforcers for just such problems.

When only the truth is allowed everyone will be able to speak freely.

Keep that thought in mind when you listen to music by some morning maniacs.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Because It Is Popular

Ann Althouse is looking at what makes Mike Nifong or as I expect, the soon to be JailFong, different from other prosecutors? Was it the elements of the case: sex, athletes, strippers, and a hooker? Or was it his behavior?

Which got me to thinking. The whole Drug War is prosecutorial misconduct.

We now know from the NIDA no less that Addiction Is A Genetic Disease.

So why does the Drug War continue? For the major reason that you have prosecutorial misconduct. It is popular. Nifong did what he did because he thought it would be popular where he lived. He was right.

Commenter at Ann's place Bruce Hayden had this to say at 11:54 AM:

Realistically though, I don't see most prosecutors crossing the line. I personally have a much better experience with them than I do with cops, in the area of abusing the power of their offices. More than once, I have seen prosecutors dismiss overreaching charges filed by the cops, sui sponte.

That is not to say that they don't work with the cops to overcharge in order to plea bargain into what they consider a reasonable sentence. You see this all the time - where they have charged a dozen felonies, and plea bargain to one or two. Many times, the added charges are not all that strong, but the chance that the prosecution might win on one or two of them is all it takes to rationalize a plea bargain, even if you know yourself to be innocent.

That is exactly how I see it. Prosecutors have the tools to railroad any one they want and they prefer to use the tools only on the guilty.

No one cares as long as it is done to "them". It is when it is done to "us" that people rise up. Who ever the "us" is that gets catered to.

We have in fact condoned the railroading of the guilty. No surprise if the innocent get caught up in that little machine every now and then.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Enslave The Machines And Free The Humans

I'm working with a bunch of folks at NASA Space Flight blog trying to turn the concept invented by Dr. Robert Bussard, the Bussard Fusion Reactor, into a practical research reactor to test the concepts involved.

What is striking about the people working on the project is that we have every one - from a diarist at Daily Kos to an American style Republican leaning libertarian. All of us have buried the political hatchet in order to co-operate on designing a research reactor that may lead to a production reactor if the research is favorable.

Which got me to thinking about Bucky Fuller and his concept of Energy Slave.

Early energy slaves replaced draft animals - the early age of steam. Then they replaced humans for simple repetitive tasks - like sealing cans of peaches at a peach canning factory. Now our energy slaves are smarter and can think for themselves to a certain extent and will follow orders without complaint. Like the thermostat that will make sure in the winter that during the day the house is warm but at night it is cooler except on Saturday night when it is kept warmer for the traditional Saturday night party. 24/7/365 for decades. Change the timing when you like. Down to the minute.

These energy slaves are getting smarter every day. They are precision machinists that can work at a speed and keep tolerances no manual machine could dream of. Some of them have hands. As many hands as needed.

One of the reasons slavery not to mention work is going out of style. Machines (energy slaves) can do it better, faster, and cheaper. John Henry couldn't defeat steam. He has no chance what so ever against electricity. Design - understanding what humans want and how to make it will still be a human job for another decade or two. Selling is always human.

What is now universally understood is that for more people to have energy slaves we are going to need cheaper energy. We need to Enslave the Machines and Free the Humans. The sooner the better.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Telling The Truth In School

It seems that in Canada telling the truth in school can get you suspended.

Kieran King got in trouble with his school for doing research on marijuania (on line, not personal) and telling the truth about what he found.

On May 30, Kieran, who is described as "research-obsessed" by his mother, was chatting with friends around the school lunch table and telling them about what he'd discovered, largely from scholarly and government sources. He argued that marijuana carries a near-zero risk of overdose, that it has been approved by Health Canada for medical use and that it kills an infinitesimal fraction of the people that alcohol and tobacco do every week -- claims so uncontroversial you'd have to be high on something much stronger than pot to dispute them.

He also suggested that it doesn't make much sense for marijuana to be illegal in a world where booze and smokes are freely available in shops.
I'd put what is genarally known and admitted by the government about marijuana on a par with the government research on climate science. Both are agenda driven and will only be corrected if enough people do their own research. The government is not going to help. Too many iron rice bowls at stake.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, June 22, 2007

Manufacturing Concensus

Roger Pielke Sr. has a few complaints about the comprehensiveness of the research papers used to prepare various IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports have the following stated goals:
“A comprehensive and rigourous picture of the global present state of knowledge of climate change”
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”
However, the IPCC WG 1 Chapter 3 report failed in this goal.

This weblog illustrates this defect using the example of their assessment of the multi-decadal land near-surface temperature trend data, where peer reviewed papers that conflicted with the robustness of the surface air temperature trends are ignored. Later Climate Science weblogs will document this issue with other climate issues.
Bias? The IPCC? Why the IPCC is totally fair minded and comprehensive. If you don't believe that just ask them.
To evaluate the IPCC’s claim to be comprehensive, we cross-compared IPCC WG1 references on near-surface air temperature trends with the peer-reviewed citations that have been given in Climate Science. We selected only papers that appeared before about May 2006 so they were readily available to the IPCC Lead authors.
He then goes on to list a whole raft of papers, both included and missed by the IPCC. There seem to be more misses than hits.
If the papers were neglected because they were redundant, this would be no problem. However, they are ignored specifically because they conflict with the assessment that is presented in the IPCC WG1 Report, and the Lead Authors do not agree with that perspective!
Quite a charge to make. Mr. P then goes on to note some criticisms made by others.
“The process for completing the CCSP Report excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends. The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends”.

“Future assessment Committees need to appoint members with a diversity of views and who do not have a significant conflict of interest with respect to their own work. Such Committees should be chaired by individuals committed to the presentation of a diversity of perspectives and unwilling to engage in strong-arm tactics to enforce a narrow perspective. Any such committee should be charged with summarizing all relevant literature, even if inconvenient, or which presents a view not held by certain members of the Committee.”
It seems like we have way too many inconvenient truths out there.

How might we narrow them down? Well Roger thinks he knows how the IPCC arrived at its concensus.
The IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report process made the same mistakes and failed to provide an objective assessment. Indeed the selection of papers to present in the IPCC (as well as how the work of others that was cited was dismissed) had a clear conflict of interest as the following individuals cited their research prominently yet were also a Review Editor (Tom Karl), works for the Review Editor (Tom Peterson, Russ Vose, David Easterling), were Coordinating Lead Authors (Kevin Trenberth and Phil Jones), were Lead Authors (Dave Easterling and David Parker), or a Contributing Author (Russ Vose).

In fact, as stated above, the CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“, with its documented bias, was chaired by the same person as the Review Editor of the IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report (Tom Karl)! Regardless of his professional expertise, he is still overseeing an assessment which is evaluating his own research. There cannot be a clearer conflict of interest.

The IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report clearly cherrypicked information on the robustness of the land near-surface air temperature to bolster their advocacy of a particular perspective on the role of humans within the climate system. As a result, policymakers and the public have been given a false (or at best an incomplete) assessment of the multi-decadal global average near-surface air temperature trends.
That is right. You get a lot more truth and a lot less inconvenience if you can have people review their own work and exclude contrary ideas.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Kids Are Alright!

A nice Youtube video with music both ancient and contemporary.

Very well done! About 2 minutes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gaza - The Situation Is Improving

Yes the situation in Gaza is improving. For the Israelis.

A consensus seems to have formed in Israel that the disengagement from Gaza was a deadly mistake - that it caused a steep escalation of the Kassams falling on Sderot and, most recently, allowed Hamas to take over the Strip. In all, according to the new Israeli wisdom, the removal of Israeli settlers and soldiers from the Gaza 21 months ago has badly weakened Israel's security.

This consensus, for the most part, is a crock.
It turns out that the rocket attacks are at about the same level now as they were before withdrawal.

However, there are changes. Dramatic changes.
There are no more rockets hitting Sderot now than there were in the "good old days." However, the number of Israelis killed by Gaza Palestinians has changed dramatically since disengagement - for the better. Since the last IDF soldier left the Strip until now, eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in Gaza - four civilians in Sderot, and four soldiers, according to the Foreign Ministry's Web site. Another soldier, Gilad Shalit, has been kidnapped.

By comparison, in the five years from the start of the second intifada until disengagement, 148 Israelis were killed by Gaza Palestinians - 91 soldiers and 57 civilians. In addition, 11 foreign civilians were killed by Gazans in that time.

So in terms of bloodshed, there's nothing to discuss - Gaza was many, many times more deadly for Israelis before the disengagement than it's been since.
On top of that, as we all know, the situation is worse for the Palestinians.
Fearing the situation in the Gaza Strip will deteriorate even further, Israel permitted hundreds of foreigners and diplomats in Gaza to enter Israel, providing them buses at the Erez crossing in northern Gaza. Meanwhile at the instructions of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the IDF facilitated the entry of Magen David Adom ambulances into the crossing to evacuate the wounded Palestinians to hospitals in Israel. According to reports four Palestinians were evacuated, two who were wounded in Monday night's shooting initiated by Hamas, and others who suffer from chronical illnesses.

Palestinian Authority negotiater Saeb Erekat said Israel had agreed to evacuate 55 seriously ill Palestinians from Gaza to hospitals in Israel,...
How much you want to bet that the sickness rate skyrockets in Gaza?

In any case order is being restored, for the time being.
Militiamen barred people from carrying weapons in public, a group calling itself "Volunteers for God" frantically directed traffic at jammed intersections and gunmen demanded storeowners freeze prices despite a food shortage.

But the new stability did not dispel deep fears among some Gazans that Hamas militants will retaliate against their vanquished enemies in the more secular Fatah movement and impose their severe interpretation of Muslim law, further isolating this poor coastal territory of 1.4 million Palestinians.

"We are leaving a bad situation -- but one we knew -- and entering an unknown situation, and that makes people nervous. What's coming?" said Abu Walid, a 19-year-old shopkeeper in Gaza City.
I'm going to help you out Abu Walid and make a bold prediction. Nothing Good.

And what do you know a Palestinian agrees with me:
A Fatah fighter in southern Gaza, who would only give his name as Yasir, said he was keeping close to home and predicted the current stability will be short-lived.

"Hamas rules now, but watch what happens in the future," he said.

"Everybody with a dead brother is waiting to get their revenge. They will wait years. Everybody knows each other, everybody knows who killed their brother. As soon as Hamas weakens, the guns everybody is hiding will come out."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

They Take Liberalism Seriously

The University of Chicago sent my mate and I a generic College survey asking generic questions about our opinion of our son's college experience.

We come to the usual race class and gender questions such as:

This college is a place where...
students of all religious backgrounds can feel welcome

people of all economic backgrounds can feel welcome

people of different sexual orientations can feel welcome

people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds can feel welcome
However, this last one really surprised me and my mate.
This college is a place where people with differing political points of view can feel welcome.
Fortunately our answer was AGREE strongly. At Chicago they take liberalism seriously.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Monday, June 18, 2007

I've Been Busy - 2

I have been working on a design for a Bussard Fusion reactor in my spare time.

Let the Palestinians kill each other.

"GAZA is becoming the Mogadishu of the Mediterranean," said one Palestinian official who refused to be named. "People thrown off the rooftops of 10-storey buildings, Palestinians shooting other Palestinians at point blank, others shot in front of their families. So Hamas is in control but do they really think people won't forget what has happened given our culture of pay-back and revenge?"
I have more important work to do.

If you would like to help give a shout in any of these places:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion
IEC Fusion Newsgroup
IEC Fusion Technology

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Looting Gaza

Latest news from Gaza is that Yasser Arafat's house has been looted.

A crowd has looted the home of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, destroying one of the strongest symbols of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah officials said the crowd took furniture, wall tiles and Arafat's personal belongings.

The villa had been empty since Arafat left for the West Bank in 2001 shortly after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising. Israel confined Arafat to the West Bank until permitting him to fly to France for medical care in late 2004. Arafat died in France several weeks later.
Fair is fair. Yasser looted the Palestinians of several billion dollars. In any case I don't think he will be needing the house any time soon.

So what is next for Gaza in particular and the Middle East in general? Ralph Peters has some interesting thoughts.
WONDER what Iraq would look like if we left to morrow? Take a look at Gaza today. Then imagine a situation a thousand times worse.

We need to stop making politically correct excuses. Arab civilization is in collapse. Extremes dominate, either through dictatorship or anarchy. Thanks to their dysfunctional values and antique social structures, Arab states can't govern themselves decently.

We gave them a chance in Iraq. Israel "gave back" the Gaza Strip to let the Palestinians build a model state. Arabs seized those opportunities to butcher each other.

The barbarity in Gaza has become so grotesque that not even the media's apologists for terror can ignore it (especially since Islamist fanatics began to target journalists).

Over the weekend, Hamas gangbangers-for-Allah grabbed a Fatah functionary and dropped him from the roof of a high-rise to check out the law of gravity (the only law that still obtains in Gaza). Tit-for-tat, Fatah gunmen grabbed a Hamas capo and gave him the same treatment.

Thereafter, cooler heads prevailed and both sides returned to their everyday routines of kidnapping, torturing and assassinating each other's leaders, gunning down teachers and doctors and, of course, murdering women, children and stray pedestrians.
Such charming people. Perhaps if they only had a state of their own it would civilize them. Or not.

So what does all this mean for Iraq?
We're stuck in Iraq, and it sucks. But were we to leave in haste, far more blood than oil would flow in the Persian Gulf. The disaster in Gaza's just a rehearsal for the Arab-suicide drama awaiting its opening night in Iraq.
What we need is some kind of soft landing program for the Middle East. The trouble is that they seem to prefer hard landings. The Israelis keep whipping the Arabs and yet they want to come around for another pass.

In fact, if you believe the news, Hizballah and Boy Assad seem poised to start up last years unfinished war with Israel. Obviously with the hope of taking all of Lebanon this time.

H/T Instapundit

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Dymaxion Car

Buckminster Fuller designed the Dymaxion Car that was a miracle for its time and even for our time.

For those that haven't heard of it, the Dymaxion Car was a teardrop-shaped (least air resistance), 3-wheeled, rear-wheel (single) steering, 20 foot long, Aluminum bodied auto, designed by Buckminster Fuller in 1933 to achieve maximum output and service with minimum material input. It was about 6 feet tall (kinda like a big van), seated the driver and 10 passengers, weighed less than 1000 lbs., went 120 miles/hr on a 90 horsepower engine, and got between 30-50 miles to the gallon of gas.
The car was a revolution in 1933. It would still be a revolution in 2007.

You have to wonder why automobile designers are not looking at similar designs. Especially since electrical drive would do wonders in reducing the weight and increasing the control of the wheel motors.

I Favor Divided Government

Don Surber is on fire with a column on the Democrat Congress. Here are some excerpts:

Democrats keep challenging the weakest administration since Jimmy Carter, and incredibly, prove to be even weaker.

Reid and Pelosi failed to get a timetable placed on withdrawing troops from Iraq, even after larding up a vital defense appropriation with $20 billion in pork-barrel projects.

Next came the Amnesty bill (or as proponents called it, the Immigration Reform bill), which failed to garner more than 45 votes, even with Republican support.

Finally, on Monday, the Senate tried for the first time ever to have a no-confidence resolution against Alberto Gonzales, the Mike Brown of attorneys general.

And the Senate failed. Even with Republican support.
I was under the impression that democrats held a majority in both houses. Doesn't majority + Republican support = bigger majority? Or is this some kind of new Democratic math? Not that I'm unhappy about it mind you. I favor divided government.

Don has some more:
The Los Angeles Times released a poll this week that showed only 27 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 65 percent disapprove.

Last April, the same newspaper poll showed a Republican Congress with 28 percent approval and 61 percent disapproval.

It took Republicans 12 years to dissolve. Democrats have done it in less than six months.

I congratulate them on their efficiency.
H/T Instapundit

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lung Cancer Stopper

Well what do you know? Marijuana can stop lung cancer.

The administration of THC significantly reduces lung tumor size and lesions, according to preclinical data presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Los Angeles.

Investigators at Harvard University's Division of Experimental Medicine reported that THC inhibited the growth and spread of cells in vitro from two different lung cancer cell lines and from patient lung tumors. They also reported that THC administration reduced the growth of lung tumors in mice by more than 50 percent compared to untreated controls over a three-week period.

Researchers noted that THC appeared to block a specific cancer-causing protein in a manner similar to the pharmaceutical anti-cancer drugs Erbitux (Cetuximab) and Vectibix (Panitumumab).

Results of a large-scale, case-controlled population study published last year found that smoking cannabis, even long-term, is not positively associated with increased incidence of lung-cancer. Investigators in that study noted that one subset of moderate lifetime users had an inverse association between cannabis use and lung cancer, leading them to speculate that cannabinoids may possess certain protective properties against the development of lung cancer in humans.
So what do you think a plant extract might do to the market for anti-cancer drugs like Erbitux (Cetuximab) and Vectibix (Panitumumab)?

I will let you draw your own conclusions about why the pharmaceutical companies are the biggest supporters of the Drug Free America Campaign.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fusion News: Chris Wants Some Help

Chris wants some help:

American Express is having a contest to fund one idea to "make the world a better place". They have received several thousand ideas, and will pick the top 50 (in their opinion), and then let people vote to pick the best. The top idea will be funded for between $1M and $5M, depending on how many people sign up to vote.

The amount of response that each idea receives before the selection of the first 50 has some bearing on which ideas are selected.

Because of the rules of the contest, you can not ask for a specific entry to be funded, or even mention trademarkes like Polywell. So, there is a very generic entry for P-B11 fusion at:

American Express Fusion funding.

If you are so inclined, you can rate it and add comments to try to get some more attention for the idea.

If it makes it to the top, then some form of P-B11 fusion will be funded. I know it's a long shot, but at the very least, it will raise awareness.

The deadline is June 17th, so spreading the word as soon and as much as possible would be great.




More about Bussard Fusion Reactors here:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion
IEC Fusion Newsgroup
IEC Fusion Technology

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Praying For Fusion

I visited the site of the world's first atomic pile CP-1 (which stands for Chicago Pile One) while I was in Chicago for my son Jonathan's graduation from the University of Chicago.

There is a Henry Moore sculpture at the site. I hugged it and climbed in it to commune with the gods of energy. I was praying for success for the Bussard Fusion Reactor.

A really neat interactive picture of the Moore sculpture was done by VictorZaveduk. The orange building in the background is the Max Palevsky Residential Commons a.k.a. dormatories, where Jon lived while he went to U Chicago.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jonathan Simon Graduates From The University Of Chicago

Jonathan Richard Simon, the grandson of Esther Simon and the late Manny Simon, son of Michael and Sandra Simon, and brother of, David, Jason, and Camille Simon graduated from the University of Chicago on June 9th, 2007. His degree was in Slavic Languages and Literatures - with Honors.

Jon was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in the Spring of 2006.

He has been a Student Marshal since 2006.

Here is what the University has to say about their Student Marshals.

Student Marshals are appointed by the President of the University in recognition of their excellent scholarship and leadership. Appointment as a Student Marshal is the highest honor conferred by the University upon undergraduate students.
Congrats Jon!!!!!!!!!!!!

And now you know why my blogging has been light for the past few days.

Chicago was my school. However, I dropped out after the first year to pursue other interests. Jon has set a mark of excellence that has far surpassed anything I was able to accomplish in school. Plus he has done me proud by doing it at my old school.

Change The World In Three Minutes

Dr. Robert Bussard talks about how to change the world and it only takes three minutes.

For a deeper look at this technology:

Bussard Fusion Reactor

The video at this one is deep on physics and lasts an hour and a half, however the last 30 minutes has the implications. The three minute video is excerpted from this longer version:
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

IEC Fusion Newsgroup
IEC Fusion Technology

Friday, June 08, 2007

Advantages Of Global Warming

More girls in bikinis.

This was suggested by by first mate, who knows me rather well. Surprisingly she still likes me.

For the imagination impaired here are a few bikinis to look at. With actual women in them. Not Work Safe. May not be wife safe - depending on the wife.

My first mate is rather liberal on the question of bikinis. Her policy is "you can look, but don't touch without the first mate's permission". I have yet to get her permission, however hope springs eternal.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

D-Day 1944 - 2007

Eric at Classical Values expresses my D-Day thoughts better than I ever could. Here is a bit I especially liked:

So, we might be able to avoid another D-Day and we might not be. Either way, I think it's important that we remember.
Short and very sweet. Go read the whole thing.

Climate Change Porn

There seems to be a lot of global warming porn going around. We have examples of porn addicts publicly confessing and swearing off their addiction.

And others can't get enough. A confirmed "CO2 is rising and we are all doomed" fellow cites the following articles on the drastic consequences of man's interference with the air.

First off we are going to be missing a lot of Birds.

Second off whole species will be Extinct by 2050 according to National Geographic. Or they will be on their way to extiction by then. Millions of species. How exciting. I used to get my porn from National Geographic when I was young. It appears not much has changed.

But wait. I have a few thoughts on the extinction report. The opening from the National Geographic piece. Bolding mine:

By 2050, rising temperatures exacerbated by human-induced belches of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could send more than a million of Earth's land-dwelling plants and animals down the road to extinction, according to a recent study.

It could happen.

They could be going down the road. The question is how far down the road will they get?

BTW will the coming ice age go down the same road in the other direction?

Or is our only chance to keep things just as they are?

Me? I believe in evolution. Adapt or die.

Plants will certainly like more CO2 in the atmosphere. I like trees. I eat plants. I see a plus there.

I don't see how a 1 deg C diff in annual variations of 50 deg C is going to make a huge difference in the biota of the planet.

What is more likey is that the range of various plants and animals will change. Which happens all the time with just weather variations and various predator/prey cycles.

Well, time to get back to work on Bussard Fusion. However, just like a porn addict I'm not easily convinced to turn to useful work. So I want to take a look at just how hard it will be for plants and animals to adapt.

In the town I live in, at the the Chicago latitude, winter temperatures of -10 F are regular occurances and -20 F is not unheard of. Summer temperatures of 90 F are regular occurances and 100 F is not unheard of.

Normal variation is then 100 deg F and extremes can be 120 deg F.

5/9 * 100 = 55.56 deg C delta
5/9 * 120 = 66.67 deg C delta (the devil made me do it)

So temperature variations of 50 deg C over a year are entirely reasonable.

Do we get that in one day? No.

Birds - which do not handle such a wide range migrate. Their migration patterns will change.

A change in average temperature of even a few deg C is not going to kill off millions of species. Unless your analysis assumes that the range of a given population is restricted. Which of course it is not. Same for plants. They don't migrate as fast. However even a 10 deg F change in 100 years is only .1 deg F per year. Annuals will have no trouble. Longer lived plans will spread to their optimum areas by seed migration. Birds are a help with that.

I think the National Geographic article is just Climate Change Porn.

Assuming the study the article was based on was done by reputable scientists, all it proves is that given the "correct" assumptions you can get any answer you want.

I have heard numerous anecdotes that funding for any kind of science is easier to get if you can tie it into climate change.

One has to wonder if this is an example of that?

I'd like to see what oil company funded scientists might have to say on the matter.

Politicized science helps no one. However, it is not unusual. The Soviets were big on that sort of thing. A certain country run by an Austrian Corporal followed a similar path.

Is something like that happening with Climate Science? I have my suspicions. One of the things that make me suspicious is that the answer always is: restriction on energy use and highger taxes. Technological fixes (nuclear plants and wind turbines) and bio-remediation (planting trees) are never considered viable alternatives. In fact Kyoto specifically rejected bioremediation - a USA proposal. Political? It would seem so.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Climate: The Astrology Model

I was doing some browsing around at Climate Audit, Steve McIntyre's blog and came across a comment from Steve saying the discussion of astrology in relation to climate science was banned. Well you know me. I can't resist a challenge.

OK. I’m going to bite the astrology thing and risk banning.

It seems that reliable ionosphere predictions re: short wave communications can be made by the relative positions of the Earth Mars and Jupiter.

A cursory search did not turn up the “astrology” connection to the ionosphere. I believe I read the piece in Analog Magazine 20 or 30 years ago in a science fact article. I’ll report back if I find a reference.

I found it here at Climate Audit.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

With cites.

CA is the best!

Let me quote a bit from the CA comment linked above:
J.H. Nelson received acclaim from people all over the globe - from those who are interested about what is happening in the earth’s ionosphere. The acclaim is the result of Mr. Nelson’s achievement of 85% accuracy in predicting magnetic storms affecting radio signals. In this book, long awaited by the scientific community, Mr. Nelson discusses in detail his unique method of charting planetary angles to make his predictions. J.H. Nelson became the president of RCA.”

There is little doubt that Nelson’s methods were effective, and to this day the RCA forecasts derived by Nelson’s methods are accepted as reliable by their users, particularly airborne geophysical survey contractors and the like who are very sensitive to the impact of magnetic storms.

An interesting test for scientists is whether they are prepared to look into Nelson’s work from a scientific viewpoint. Unlike certain other scientists, Nelson provided his data and methods, and it has turned out that they are indeed replicable. However, we can anticipate that many “scientists” will dismiss his work as “astrology” or similar pejorative terms, without bothering to actually look at the work.
Climate is much more complicated than the IPCC scientists even imagine.
I found an article on Nelson's work published in the late 40s or early 50s. The accuracy given is around 80% not the 85% the commenter mentioned.

Here is an article about a guy who predicts stock market peaks and troughs by a similar method. According to reports I have read he seems to get good results.

Another article about a scientist, Dr. Landscheidt, who makes climate predictions based on planetary positions. Unlike the above guys who are empirical, he bases his theory on a model of the sun which seems to have some validity.

Here is a more technical explanation of Dr. Landscheidt's theories. Let me just quote from the grabber at the top of the article:
Abstract: Analysis of the sun’s varying activity in the last two millennia indicates that contrary to the IPCC’s speculation about man-made global warming as high as 5.8° C within the next hundred years, a long period of cool climate with its coldest phase around 2030 is to be expected. It is shown that minima in the 80 to 90-year Gleissberg cycle of solar activity, coinciding with periods of cool climate on Earth, are consistently linked to an 83-year cycle in the change of the rotary force driving the sun’s oscillatory motion about the centre of mass of the solar system. As the future course of this cycle and its amplitudes can be computed, it can be seen that the Gleissberg minimum around 2030 and another one around 2200 will be of the Maunder minimum type accompanied by severe cooling on Earth. This forecast should prove skillful as other long-range forecasts of climate phenomena, based on cycles in the sun’s orbital motion, have turned out correct as for instance the prediction of the last three El Niños years before the respective event.
I still wonder if the climate change guys are using a valid model to predict the effects of solar output on the earth. Not just raw power output, but geomagnetism, and currents in space.

One interesting thing I learned through all this is that the orbital period of Jupiter, 11.9 years, is not too far off from the average sunspot cycle which is 11 years. It may just be a coincidence. Or it may be significant. The thing is the IPCC doesn't even address such questions.

I mean really. If climate change is strictly solar driven what will the Climate Changers do? Tax the sun?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

For The Birds

There is a move afoot in Congress to require new wind turbine project developers to do envionmental impact statements on potential bird kills by turbines and to monitor wind sites for bird deaths.

The Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act, a wide-ranging energy bill introduced this month, would create new standards for the placement and construction of turbines and mandate post-construction monitoring of their effects on wildlife.

Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind Associates, the Boston-based firm proposing 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, said his company already has performed much of the due diligence contemplated in the bill.

But he said he was concerned about a provision that would forbid construction of new turbines until the Department of the Interior drafts the regulations prescribed by the bill.

"Any kind of de facto moratorium on renewable energy at a time we need to take action on global warming and energy independence is blatantly poor public policy," he said.
How is this bill a de-facto moratorium?
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, calls for development of the regulations within six months of passage of the bill. But wind energy industry officials say they are skeptical that federal regulators will move that quickly.

Supporters of the bill said careful regulation is important with a relatively new industry.
So just how important is it to prevent bird kills from wind turbines? Here are some numbers that accompanied the article:
Human-caused bird deaths

Domestic cats: Hundreds of millions a year

* Striking high-tension lines: 130 million - 1 billion a year
* Striking buildings: 97 million to 976 million a year
* Cars: 80 million a year
* Toxic chemicals: 72 million
* Striking communications towers: 4 to 50 million a year
* Wind turbines: 20,000 to 37,000

Source: National Research Council
So how bad is it? Let us go with the low end numbers for each category mentioned. Rougly 500 million bird deaths a year due to human additions to the landscape. Let us say bird deaths from several thousand wind turbines is 50,000 a year. That comes out to .01% of the total.
A recent study released by the National Research Council found that fewer than 0.003 percent of human-related bird deaths are caused by wind turbines — a fraction of the deaths caused by house cats allowed to roam outside. The council is part of the National Academies, which also comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter.

Gregory Wetstone, senior director of government and public affairs for the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, said the wind industry takes the issue of bird mortality seriously.

But the wind provisions of the Rahall bill could scare away investment, he said. "This would strangle wind power in the United States," Wetstone said.
We are currently erecting about one nuke plant equivalent of wind turbines every year in America. With the building rate increasing at such a furious pace that in three or four years we will be installing two nuke plant equivalents of wind every year.

So who might be trying to kill the wind power industry in America? None other than that great protector of the environment Senator Ted Kennedy
The list of opponents is a regular lawn party, starting with our own senior senator - and alleged ardent environmentalist - Ted Kennedy. His nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. , who has made a career out of tree-hugging is also violently opposed.

Also aligned with the innocuously named Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound, according to the book, is longtime Kennedy pal Bunny Mellon, the Listerine heiress who jets back and forth to her Osterville estate all summer in a gas-guzzling Gulf Stream; her former son-in-law, Virginia Sen. John Warner, who was once married to Elizabeth Taylor; ex-Gov. Mitt Romney, doing the bidding of top GOP fundraiser Dick Egan; U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, doing the bidding of the Kennedys; Former Reebok head Paul Fireman, who has a summer place on the Sound in Osterville; and a deep-pocketed bunch of Fireman’s neighbors including, oil baron Albert Kaneb, Cape Cod Times publisher Peter Meyer, who has a $1.2 million house on Wianno Avenue and whose newspaper led a jihad against the project, and oil heir and ex-America’s Cup winner Bill Koch.

“The sight of them bothers me,” Sen. Kennedy is quoted as telling retired utility exec - and wind farm supporter - Jim Leidell.
So why does the sight of wind farms bother Senator Kennedy?
When told that most of the time the turbines - which would generating enough energy to power Cape Cod during peak usage times - would be either invisible or barely visible from the Kennedy Compound, Ted reportedly replied, “But don’t you realize, that’s where I sail.”
Being a sailor myself I'm all for sailing. I'm currently short a yacht at this time. If some one wanted to rectify that I'd be eternally grateful.

In any case it really looks like another case of the rich and powerful depriving the little people of a clean source of low cost (considerably lower than natural gas fired power turbines) energy all over the country in order to protect their little corner of the world. You can read Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Soundto find out more of the details.

H/T Instapundit who has some thoughts and more links.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, June 04, 2007

Freeman Dyson: Getting Warmed Up

Here are a couple of Youtube videos (about 10 minutes total)with Freeman Dyson talking about Global Warming mania.

He starts out in the first video talking about vegetation. He says you can't do good science without good data. He notes that the data on vegetation is sparse (as in almost totally non-existant. The money went into computer models instead of data gathering. It figures. Computers are sexy. Electronic wind vanes and anemometers are not. He also notes that the carbon in vegetation dwarfs the carbon in the atmosphere.

In the second video he says the real problem is not CO2 induced global warming, but CO2 induced stratosphere cooling which may lead to bigger ozone holes.

He ends with the fact that the lowest cost way to control CO2 in the atmosphere is not by controlling energy production and use, but by planting or cutting down plants.

The Price Of Safety

Over at The Astute Bloggers Avi Green is discussing the planned attack on JFK Airport in New York that was foiled by an informant who was recruited by the police with the offer of a lienient sentence on a drug crime.

Reliapundit has this to say in the comments:

if drugs were made legal as m simon wants then we'd lose this valuable stream of info.

seems to me we need the death penalty to have something to bargain down against; (without it there less leverage to get co-conspirators in some crimes to turn state's evidence), and we need a drug war to get criminals to turn into canaries.
To which I replied:
Of course. How could I be so stupid.

We need to support a program that does not accomplish what it is supposed to accomplish, persecutes the traumatized, is responsible for 1/2 the murders in the country, kills a few innocents every year in botched police raids, and is responsible for as much as much as 85% of the non-drug crime in order to prevent terrorist attacks. Because the FBI is otherwise incompetent to ferret out terrorists.

You know, I bet if we made guns illegal we could get a lot more informants on the street and really empower the secret police.

Tyranny will keep you safe from terrorism. But, is it a good idea?
Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Electron Circulation in Cubic Polywell

Indrek has put up a full page version of electron circulation in the Polywell Fusion Reactor. A very pretty video with nice music.

What is this all about you ask, other than some pretty pictures and nice music?

Here are some answers:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion
Polywell - Making The Well
Nuclear Fusion - wiki

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Feynman Lectures

Here is a link to some lectures on physics by Nobel Winner Richard Feynman. If the chunks are too long for you or you don't have the right video player Lubos Motl has some links to the whole thing segmented in shorter clips.

Feynman is very wise to do what I normally do. When he needs mathematics done he leaves it to mathematicians (which in some cases is Feynman himself). So to get these lectures may be conceptually difficult, however they will not be mathematically difficult. For those of you math challenged, no worries, mate.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

An Introduction To Blogging

Eric and I met up again in Rockford, This time we went to the Octane Lounge. Eric will be posting pictures on his return.

In our long and rambling discussion we talked about the nature of blogging.

I can think of no finer introduction to the world of competitive blogging than the movie His Girl Friday with Rosiland Russel and Cary Grant. The technology has changed considerably since that movie was released (1940). Human nature, not so much. So watch the whole thing (about an hour and a half). Hilarious and informative.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Friday, June 01, 2007

Republicans Support Hillary For President

The Captain's Quarters has a story up on the fall off in small donations at Republican National Headquarters.

The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations to all parties and affiliated committees, confirms that the Republicans have a fundraising problem. The smaller donors with whom the RNC's call center interfaced have decreased their contributions considerably, and overall income has dropped significantly. The RNC has done better than the Congressional committees, but only because the RNC also focuses on big donors through other means, such as fundraising events.

Republican donors have certainly lost some enthusiasm since the midterm losses last year, and the immigration bill has added to their woes. People are angry about the compromise; they have flooded talk radio shows and the blogs to express their discontent, and in return they have been attacked by President Bush as "not wanting what is best for their country." Under those circumstances, the average small donor has one option, which is to cease being a donor at all -- and to communicate that to the people who call for their assistance.
From what I gather Hillary and her clones have taken over the Republican call center duties.
Hillary Calling.

I see '06 in your future.

I'm looking forward to national health care, totally open immigration, and surrender in the war.

How about you? Can I count on your support? You promise not to support Republicans? That is good enough for me.
However, if it sends the Republicans a message it will be worth it.

The Republican Party is dead. Circular firing squad.

I'm sorry I signed up with such a bunch of incompetents.

Unfortunately, I only have the Libertarians to fall back on.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers