Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sgt. Mom Has A New Book

Sgt. Mom says the book is part of "...a trilogy, about the German settlements in the Texas Hill Country in the 19th century. Did you know that in Gillespie County became almost solidly German between one decade and the next, and that German was the common language up until the 1920's?".

Here is an excerpt.

A dazzle in his eyes and a roar of noise in his ears: Carl Becker swam up to consciousness and a rough hand shaking his shoulder… the uninjured one. Even at that, pain stabbed up unto his skull, harsh as the Mexican lancer’s blade striking him down in a cavalry skirmish outside of Monterray… how many days ago?

“Rudi… is it the soldiers coming for us?” he mumbled in German, and the hand shook him again, commanding

“Speak English, you blockheaded Dutchman… Are you fit enough to walk out of here?”
Carl squinted against the light of a lantern held above his head, and focused against a blur on the face of the man holding it. Ford… Jack’s adjutant.

“I feel like dogshit, Rip.” He mumbled in reply, and coughed painfully. Rip Ford set down the lantern carefully, and checked the blood-caked bandages on Carl’s left shoulder.

“There ain’t no bubbling coming out of the deepest cut,” he remarked, with professional assurance, and Carl remembered how was said around the campfire that Rip Ford had once trained as a doctor, long before coming to Texas. “So that bastard of a lancer missed your lung by a squeak, but I think you got the lung-fever or the ague sure enough, and a busted collar-bone to boot. You ain’t gonna get any better in this-here cesspit. We got some of the boys heading home, now that their enlistments are up, and a courier going with them. There’s a place in an empty supply wagon for you, if you can walk to it. You got a home, they can take you to?”
There is more at the link. More excerpts from the Adelsverein Trilogy here and here and here and here.

Use the following links to order To Truckee's Trail and pre-order the Adelsverein Trilogy. Especially have a look at the To Truckee's Trail link. Sgt. Mom is looking good.

Eric of Classical Values reviewed Truckee's Trail and liked it. Here is a bit of what Eric said:
It is a riveting read. Close calls with Indian war parties, political treachery, near starvation and freezing to death, and inevitable illnesses and deaths. It's truly amazing that they made it.
Sgt. Mom sent me this note by e-mail: "I need all the links and interest that I can [get] otherwise I will have to go and get a real job, soon." Help her keep writing. Buy a case of her books and send them to friends.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Real Libertarians

Real Libertatians™ are just Socialists (utopians) with a different agenda.

Inspired by this and this and this.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hope Head

John Kass in the Chicago Tribune comments on the latest Obama video by It is a hoot. Also target rich.

Obama hopium was so powerful, that that first rush of it, well, it sent a tingle up my leg. Or down my leg. Then up. So now, when I read newspaper stories about Obama's political history, like a recent gooey, puffy profile in the Washington Post and it didn't mention Obama as a willing member of Chicago's Daley machine, well, I didn't get angry.

Not anymore.

Why? Because I'm a hope-head.

Now, I don't get upset when foreign and national journalists fail to mention Tony Rezko, or the Daley boys, or how the Chicago machine plans to staff the Department of Justice, and the new Department of Homeland Casinos.
Go read the whole thing.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

It's A Zero Sum Game

I just came across an interesting thread on some kind of strange Google blog that talks about the Democrat's anti-oil position. One commenter says this about oil drilling (edited slightly for typos and clarity)

The 10 year timeframe that everyone keeps repeating is not a very realistic one. It takes less than a year to construct and get a standard land based 20,000 foot drilling platform producing oil. Offshore jack up rigs can take two to three years and a semi up to 4. The ten year figure got started because that is the estimimate by some so called experts for drilling in ANWR and establishing the infrastructure needed to support it. Mostly due to the fact that the heavy equipment needed to excavate the site can only operate on the tundra during the winter months. Once they have found the right spots and oil starts flowing the permanent platforms and roads would then be constructed.

The no drilling folks have simply adopted the ten year number across the board regardless of where. And they have modified it from "it could take up to 10 years" to "It's just going to take 10 years". as it suits their agenda better.

The Discovery channel had a short series this spring entitled "Oil Strike". It followed several different Wildcatters in their quest for oil. In one episode there were a couple of crews that were each given 10 days to construct a well drill and strike oil. One of them did just that. They won a bet with one of the other crews as a result.

It is extremely unlikely that it will take another 10 years to start pumping oil from that well.

How long it would take is determined more by how many dry holes get drilled before finding oil than it is by the more simple logistics of transportation and delivery.
I never knew that. You learn something every day.

Then another commenter said that drilling for oil is a zero sum game. I hope he is right because if it is and we start drilling we will get the sums and the Saudis will get the zeros.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Stupidity Begins At The Water's Edge

I'm reading the comment section at Reason Magazine and as per usual losing in Iraq is at the top of their agenda. They have much good to say about the Democrats who want to end the Iraq War with an American defeat.

So I'm proposing a new motto to replace "Politics ends at the water's edge." I like:

Stupidity Begins At The Water's Edge

Not even the Libertarian's Saint Jefferson (he was actually a Democrat - see Jefferson Jackson Day Dinners done annually by the Democrats) was that lame (see pirates, Barbary). Did you know the war on the Barbary pirates was not declared? All Jefferson got from Congress was the authorization to build some ships and an AUMF which reads like the AUMF against Iraq almost word for word. Plus the war went on for over a decade and extended into Madison's term.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Reanimation Of Corpses

In the comments at Confederate Yankee I came across this bit:

Just like a liberal who accuses conservative of being "mindless zombies" isn't actually advocating cranial removal and mass reanimation of Republican corpses.
I believe the reanimation of corpses for political purposes is a Chicago specialty. They have a Democratic machine designed especially for the purpose.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fresh Kills

Green is not selling the way it used to. This is old news and it is the Onion. But it marks the start of a trend.

STATEN ISLAND, NY–An estimated 450,000 unsold copies of Time's special April 22 Earth Day issue were trucked Monday from the magazine's New Jersey distribution center to the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island.

The discarded copies of the issue–which features articles about conservation, biodiversity, and recycling, as well as guest editorials by President Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio–are expected to decompose slowly over the next 175 years.

"Unfortunately, 'Earth Day 2000' wasn't as successful as we had hoped," Time managing editor Walter Isaacson said. "After selling out of such special issues as 'The Future Of Medicine,' 'Baseball At 100,' 'The Kennedys: An American Dynasty,' and 'Celebrating The American Automobile,' we thought we had another winner with this one. But of a press run of 485,000, only 35,000 sold. I guess we overestimated the demand for a full-color, 98-page Earth Day issue printed on glossy, high-pulp paper."
How about some more recent evidence from a more reputable source?

Green issues don't sell say a number of publishers.
As global warming was first becoming a cause célèbre a few years ago, many serious environmentalists worried that green was in danger of becoming a fad -- something that would inevitably recede from consciousness after overtaxing our limited pop-cultural attention span.

Sad to say, that prediction shows signs of coming true. Last week, The New York Times noted that the advertising industry is pulling back from green-themed marketing, having "grasped the public's growing skepticism over ads with environmental messages.

And advertisers' concerns are buttressed by the recent sales figures for magazines that have published a "Green Issue" this year. Time's Earth Day issue was the newsweekly's third-lowest-selling issue of 2008 so far, according to ABC Rapid Report. A typical issue of Time sells 93,000 or so copies on the newsstand; the April 28 installment, which substituted green for red in the magazine's trademarked cover design, sold only 72,000.
Enviro hysteria does not sell the way it once did.

The New York Times says ad agencies are starting to get it.
At an annual gathering of the advertising industry a year ago in Cannes, the environment was the topic du jour. “Be seen, be green,” one agency urged on the invitation to its party at a hillside villa.

Al Gore, invited by another agency, delivered a message linked to “An Inconvenient Truth,” his book and film about climate change: That the ad industry could play an influential role in encouraging businesses and consumers to change their ways and slow global warming.

The sun was still beating down on the Côte d’Azur last month as advertising executives from around the world returned for this year’s festival. But Mr. Gore was nowhere to be found, and the party buzz was about the American presidential election, the Euro 2008 soccer tournament and even the business of advertising itself. Green marketing, while booming, had lost some of its cachet.
So let me give you an anecdote of my own. Instapundit linked to a piece I did on the decline of carbon hysteria, The Globe Reverberates With Laughter, and the comment section just went nuts. As one commenter noted: politicians ought to be careful. Elections get lost big time when public opinion changes and politicians don't. Take the question of drilling for more oil in the USA. I made a bumper sticker about it that is rather cute: Without Lubrication, which looks at the change in attitudes about drilling for oil in America and off its shores. A nominally green issue. About 60% of the American public thinks more oil is of greater importance than reducing the risk of oil spills to zero. The reason? Green is fine as long as the pocket book effects are small or well hidden. That is no longer the case.

Democrats may be in for a rougher time this year than they expect. I have some advice for them: "It's the price of gasoline, stupid."

H/T Counting Cats in Zanzibar

War Stories - 2

Wretchard of the Belmont Club links to some war stories. One of the commenters also gives a link. If you like to read about courage under fire may I suggest that you read them all. This is why we are still in Iraq and the insurgents (for the most part) are not. Sen. Obama - take note.

To my brothers in arms. Get some.

Night Stalkers
Saving Germans
Guitar Heros

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Bounce Check

Adam Nagourney at The New York Times asks with reference to the Obama campaign, "Where's the Bounce?" It may be in his step but it is not showing up in the polls.

WASHINGTON — It is a question that has hovered over Senator Barack Obama even as he has passed milestone after milestone in his race for the White House: Why is he not doing better?

It shadowed him as he struggled against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in many states through the primaries, results that sometimes stood at odds with the huge, enthusiastic crowds that turned out to see him. It was there in the exit polls that suggested that many Democrats were uncomfortable with Mr. Obama, putting an asterisk next to some of his biggest primary victories.

And it is back again as he returns from an overseas trip that even Republicans have described as politically triumphant. In this case, the question is why — given how sour Americans feel about President Bush and the Republican party, and the perception that Mr. Obama is running a better campaign than Senator John McCain — the senator from Illinois is not scoring even higher in national opinion polls.

Most surveys now show Mr. Obama with a lead of about 6 or 7 percentage points over Mr. McCain nationally, and Mr. Obama rarely breaks the 50 percent threshold. Those are statistics that have given Republicans, who are not exactly feeling joyful these days, a line to grab, and they have fed some underlying anxiety among some Democrats.

“They’ve known John McCain for years,” Bill McInturff, a pollster for Mr. McCain, said of survey participants. “But people say in focus groups, ‘Who the heck is Barack Obama? Had you heard of him before six months ago?’ And he’s 46 years old. He’s somebody nobody knows about.”
Wretchard at the Belmont Club is looking at the Intrade prices for Obama and if you look at the charts it looks like Obama is past his peak. The Intrade numbers still favor Obama but it looks like he may be headed for a spin, crash, and burn.

Here is what one commenter there sees:

A pattern that I use in stock index trading is what I call a 1-2-3, wherein a trend has three successively steeper subunits. In the Intrade graph that would be 1=subunit from Nov07-Feb08, 2=subunit from Feb08-May08, and 3=subunit from May08-July08. A break of the last subunit probably signals a decline. Then very often there is a rapid retest of the high of subunit 3, followed by a more prolonged decline. The Obama graph is not as vertical as I would like for one to be be before making a sizeable bet but it has the look of a crest.
As has been stated so many times before - prediction is very hard, especially about the future.

In any case, may I suggest reading Wretchard's post and the checking out the wisdom of many of the commenters.

As to predictions - here is what I have to say: "Prediction is a lot of fun, especially about the future." Make of it what you will.

PUMA PAC an anti-Obama/pro-Hillary Dem organization takes a look at the bounce question. Here is a bit of what they say:
So if you fancy yourself the Democrats’ Karl Rove — an unbeatable master of politics and strategy, how come the Grand Tour was such a flop for your guy? Sinking in blue swing states, tanking in red states. . . Most Americans believe the Ego Trip, I mean World Tour, hurts or doesn’t help his chances in November. Your guy can’t even make a dent against an old guy who hasn’t even begun to campaign against you in earnest. You’re losing during the warm-up? Oops. Groan.
Check their site for links.

I also liked this piece they did: Walking Eagle. Very funny.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, July 28, 2008

Patio Heaters

A blog claiming to represent Bioethics International suggests that having a baby is equivalent to buying and running a patio heater.

A pair of doctors have said that British parents should have fewer children, because kids cause carbon emissions and climate change. The two medics suggest that choosing to have a third child is the same as buying a patio heater or driving a gas-guzzling car, and that GPs should advise their patients against it.
Solar scientists think we are headed for a little ice age. And how many solar scientists are on the IPCC? Clue: The number is a non-negative integer less than one.

Will the people who came up with this idea suggest that families start turning out more patio heaters if the solar guys are right?

In any case I always distrust these kinds of folks. It is just a short ways from declaring that there are too many people to industrial solutions to the problem. The question then becomes which people will get the industrial treatment?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Globe Reverberates With Laughter

Peter Huber in Forbes takes a look at the reality of carbon hysteria.

A number of influential people in Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam say the planet is now entering a 30-year cooling period, the second half of a normal cycle driven by cyclical changes in the sun's output and currents in the Pacific Ocean. Their theory leaves true believers in carbon catastrophe livid.

To judge by actions, not words, the carbon-warming view hasn't come close to persuading a political majority even in nations considered far more environmentally enlightened than China and India. Europe's coal consumption is rising, not falling, and the Continent won't come close to meeting the Kyoto targets for carbon reduction. Australia is selling coal to all comers.
We used to have a saying in my day: "actions speak louder than words". Today it is "Pay no attention to the fat man, who used to be Vice President, behind the curtain."
No serious student of global politics can accept the notion that the world will soon join ranks behind Brussels, Washington and the gloomy computer and its minders. Dar is surely right when he says, "The U.S. and Japan will not tell Asia and Africa to choose poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy over electricity." Europe might, but nobody will listen. It won't have moral authority until its own citizens are emitting less carbon than Bangladeshis. That won't happen soon.
What is happening all over Europe? They have plans to build a lot of coal fired power plants. Yep. Coal fired power plants. That would be plants that use (for practical purposes) 100% carbon. Not oil. Not natural gas. Both of which are a lot more expensive than coal. So they are buying based on price not catastrophe.
So does the climate computer have a real audience, or is it really just another bag lady muttering away to herself in a lonely corner of the intellectual park? That the computer is heard in Hollywood, Stockholm, Brussels and even some parts of Washington is quite beside the point--they have far less global power and influence than they vainly imagine. Vinod Dar is right: "Contingency planning should entail strategic responses to a warming globe, a cooling globe and a globe whose climate reverberates with laughter at human hubris."
Freeman Dyson says the cheapest way to deal with our carbon "problem" is plant trees. If we are in a hurry we should genetically modify the trees to absorb the carbon faster than our current stock of trees does. We do need to be careful. Below 200 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere some types of plants do not do well. So we might want to set the minimum of CO2 in the atmosphere at 300 ppm to give us a margin for error.

Of course if CO2 is not really a problem, the cheapest thing to do and the best for plants is to do nothing. Plants just love CO2 and for most of them the optimum CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is around 5,000 ppm. We have a long way to go to get there. Many centuries worth of burning carbon based fuels. In any case we are not going to be burning much fossil fuel in 2100 due to the advance of solar and wind technologies, not to mention the definite possibility of fusion power.

What do I think? The era of carbon craziness is almost over.

H/T Insty

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The New Alternative

This is a response to a post and the subsequent comments about AL Gore's plan for powering America with alternative energy in ten years.


Al Gore is an idiot.


He is a promoter. He stands to get very rich if he can persuade Congress to implement his schemes.


Solar scientists are predicting a little ice age. How many solar scientists are on the IPCC? Hint: less than one.


Al is totally ignorant of logistics. Just making all the solar cells required in 10 years is not possible. The best place to put them is the desert. Not many power lines in the desert. What is the total world solar cell production capacity? We can make maybe 100 MW (peak electrical output) per year. We need to make 500 GW or so just for America (and that just covers the power when the sun is shining). Wind power is more promising and the upper Mid West is the best place. Problem? Power lines.


The longer we put off going solar the better the technology will be. So what should be done now is what is economically feasible. No subsidies or mandates. Same for wind.


The #1 problem with alternative energy is storage. Al says nothing about that.


To make all this come together we will need 2 MV DC power lines. How many 2 MV DC power lines are there any where in the world? Zero. Who is currently planning on building any? No one.

Did I mention Al Gore is an idiot?

Well maybe not so much. He has conned a lot of rubes after all.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Not Born Yet

An old cowboy responded to an Englishman who asked, "Is your master about?"

"That sombitch ain't been born yet", the cowboy replied.

From the comments at American Thinker.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Just Learned A New Phrase

And the phrase is:

Organ Donor Car

The American Thinker discourses on the phrase and its meaning.


Samizdata has a bit up on flying in old aircraft. War birds and commercial jobs. Here is a bit I added to the discussion:

Way back in the dark ages (early 60s) I got to fly in a DC-3 that was carrying passengers. It was an experience.

Conversation in the cabin was hopeless in flight.

The only reason screaming kids are a problem these days is that aircraft are so quiet. We didn't know how good we had it.
Cross Posted at Classical Values

A League Of Its Own

The New Republic has a pretty good article up explaining European misconceptions of America. The article especially looks at Obama's recent German rallies and how those rallies feed European misconceptions.

Europe's favorite dream: a post-Bush America cut down to size and chastened, a meeker and more modest America, a more "European" (that is, a more social-democratic) America, which at last casts off some of its nastier capitalist habits. An America that is a lot more like us Europeans who have forgone power politics and sovereignty in favor of communitarian politics and integration.

This is the canvas Europeans have been painting with wildly enthusiastic brush strokes. If Obama wins, the reality will be different. Sure, President Obama would speak more softly than did Mr. Bush in his first term, but he would still be carrying the biggest stick on earth. He will preside over an America that is still No. 1 and not part of a multipolar chorus populated by Russia, China, India, and the E.U.

Germans should have read the foreign-policy chapter in Obama's The Audacity of Hope. There are passages in there which read like pure Bush--on unilateralist action, on the right of pre-emption, on playing the world's "sheriff." Obama's upshot: "This will not change--nor should it." This doesn't mean more Bushism if Obama is elected. But it is a useful reminder that the U.S. plays in a league of its own--with global interest, with global military means, and with the willingness to use them.

In Berlin, hundreds of thousands will cheer a projection rather than a flesh-and-blood Obama on Thursday. After Inauguration Day, alas, Europe and the world will not face a Dreamworks president, but the leader of a superpower. Whether McCain or Obama, the 44th president will speak more nicely than did W. in his first term. He will also pay more attention to the "decent opinions of mankind." But he will still preside over the world's largest military, economic, and cultural power.

This vast power differential is what Germans and Europeans don't quite fathom in their infatuation with Obama. Their problem was not Mr. Bush, but Mr. Big--America as Behemoth Among the Nations, unwilling to succumb to the dictates of goodness that animate post-heroic, post-imperial, and post-sovereign Europe.
Josef Joffe (the author of the TNR piece - ed.) is publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit, as well as a fellow of the Institute for International Studies and the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford.

The fact that the Germans rallied for Obama is not a big selling point in these United States. In fact it could be a a negative point. Note to Obama - large French rallies are a less threatening image than huge rallies in Berlin. You would think Mr. Image would be able to get this. If not him, his staff. He seems to have a really tin ear for this stuff. It didn't help Kerry any to be identified with Europe. Well France any way - Kerry was ridiculed for aligning himself with "surrender monkeys". Obama will be ridiculed for aligning himself with a nation we had to beat into a bloody pulp to get them to behave. Of course that is all history now. Except for the funny guy with a mustache who, even now, gets a lot of unwanted press. Europe is a no win situation for any American politician stumping for President. Did Obama think that by giving a speech in Germany he could do a Kerry without getting all stigmatized by it? Some one needs to explain that it is not any particular country, but Europe itself that is the problem. Being President insulates you from all that (its just business). Being a candidate does not.

So how could he have gotten away with it? Go to Britain. Except that the Labor Government there is falling apart. That is not a good image to project for a person who is on the far left of practical American politics (i.e. not on the lunatic fringe - but close).

In any case the differential between American growth rates and European growth rates is going to widen the divide. What can the Europeans do? Become more like Americans. In that sense his speech shows that Obama is going in the wrong direction. Americans do not want to join the European league (the phrase in America is bush league - har). He should at the very least be thinking of dragging Europe our way, rather than making efforts to drag America to theirs. That might have mitigated what will, I predict, be the downfall of the Obama campaign.

I'm told Obama has rented a stadium for his Convention acceptance speech. Wrong direction Barry. We are going to see more of those pictures juxtaposing him with that German guy with the funny mustache. Barry, what are you thinking? For a man whose campaign is image over substance, he has to be very careful not to tarnish his image, because once that his gone he has nothing.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Democrats Against Some Entitlements

Eric in a post on the Obama birth certificate controversy asks a question of the utmost importance in this campaign.

Aren't Americans entitled to know the Truth?
I believe it is the one entitlement program the Obama Democrats are totally against.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, July 25, 2008

Without Lubrication

In honor of Congressional restrictions on drilling for oil in America we have a new bumper sticker:

Without Lubrication

Click on the image to order one or more bumper stickers.

If you want to add the above image to a post, I explain how here.

Thanks to Karl Egenberger of Envision Design/ Plum Creative Associates who did the artwork.

It Didn't Work Out

Well isn't this special. Obama says a visit to wounded troops would be inappropriate.

BERLIN (AP) - Sen. Barack Obama scrapped plans to visit wounded members of the armed forces in Germany as part of his overseas trip, a decision his spokesman said was made because the Democratic presidential candidate thought it would be inappropriate on a campaign-funded journey.
Well isn't that interesting.

So what would be more appropriate? Putting On The Ritz.
++ Obama Takes Time to Work Out ++

4:49 p.m.: Obama enters the luxury Ritz Carlton hotel wearing a T-shirt, black sweatpants and white trainers -- apparantly to work out in the hotel's gym. He kept up the campaigning on the way there, smiling and waving at tourists and other onlookers.
What a guy. Lifting weights is more important to him than lifting the spirits of wounded troops. Sounds like a different kind of politics all right. I'm not sure I like it. It is not the kind of change I was hoping for.

Atlas Shrugs may have some insight about what was behind the change in plans.
A very interesting email from a source I must protect suggests that Obama's visit to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center had the green light until a campaign staffer raised a stink about going with Obama. (There are rules meant to ensure candidates do not use soldiers or military bases for campaign purposes, and they state that personal and committee staff may accompany a sitting senator on a visit but campaign staff may not.) I am told that when one of Obama's campaign staff was told he or she would be denied access, the visit was canceled.

The last-minute cancellation speaks more poorly of this unidentified staffer than of Obama himself. But in the end, shouldn't Obama have been able to say, "fine, the staffer stays in Berlin (or where-ever) and I'm going to Landstuhl? Can he still say so?
I'm sceptical of unnamed sources. However, the military rule is that he could visit the military as long as he brought only his personal staff and not his campaign staff with him. After all he visited the military in Afghanistan without a problem.

In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if it was part of an evolution in his campaign tactics to prevent gaffs. Keeping Obama from making public appearances without his paid minders is something I can understand. How will he know what to say without some one whispering in his ear? Which probably says something unflattering about Obama's (57) states of mind.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Streaming High Def Video

I just came across a site with streaming High Definition Videos. Vreel. It looks very good with my 720p monitor. It must be awesome at 1080. Of course besides the high def monitor you will need a broadband connection.

H/T zbarlici

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Oil Down - Dollar Up

We go to New Zealand for the news.

NEW YORK - Oil prices tumbled more than $US3 a barrel overnight as tropical storm Dolly grew increasingly unlikely to threaten supply, giving traders one less reason to buy as a strengthening dollar helped keep prices in check.

The sell-off was a throwback to last week's sharp declines, and dragged crude to its lowest level since early June. It was oil's fifth decline in the last sixth sessions.
So let us look at economics and expectations. If oil prices are rising producers hold off on selling in the hopes of higher prices. This causes oil to rise more. Once the price breaks the opposite starts happening. With prices expected to fall producers want to sell all they can while the getting is good.

So what has changed? Oil consumption and a stronger dollar.
Oil prices came under added pressure from a stronger dollar. The currency rose sharply against the euro after Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and a voting member of the Fed's Open Market Committee, said the central bank will probably need to boost interest rates "sooner rather than later."

The dollar's decline has been a major factor in oil's ascent, as investors bought dollar-denominated crude contracts as a hedge against inflation and a weakening greenback. When the dollar strengthens, such currency-related buying often unwinds.

Meanwhile, there were new indications that high oil prices are killing off demand, especially in the U.S., the world's largest oil consumer.

In its weekly pump spending survey, MasterCard found US petrol demand dropped last week for the thirteenth week in a row. Demand fell 3.3 per cent compared with the same week a year earlier, according to the survey. Since the start of 2008, petrol demand is down 2.2 per cent.
That is pretty amazing. A 3.3% year over year drop in US demand. With the US consuming about 25% of the world's oil that is a pretty significant drop. Almost 1% of world demand and we reduced all by ourselves. With no help from our betters in Congress. And that does not even count the moderating or reduction in demand in other parts of the world caused by high prices.

It may be that we have hit the peak in prices for a few years. Because of the long lags in oil production from the time of rising prices until new supplies come on the market, oil prices are oscillatory. If you have an understanding of control theory this is exactly what you would expect. High gains and long lags cause oscillations in any system.

So what might we look forward to? Certainly $3 a gallon for gasoline in another year is not out of the question and $2 a gallon two or three years down the road is a definite possibility. My advice? Buy a used SUV while they are a glut on the market.

H/T Instapundit.

There Is Big Money In Carbon

There is a blog for folks who want to make money from carbon. Not by delivering it to your fuel tank or to electrical power generating plants. Nope. It is a blog for people who want to make money by stopping that delivery. Or at least by pretending to offset carbon use. It is called Carbon Offsets Daily. Their latest effort is a laudatory piece on how California and 13 States to Cut Vehicle Emissions, Fuel Economy to Become 43 MPG per Gallon. I wonder how they can accomplish this with vehicles that people are willing to buy. That is the real trick.

I wish the State of California and the rest of them a lot of luck. Illinois needs all the help it can get. What with our Senators Obama and Durbin we are going to need it.

The Birth Certificate

I haven't been following the Obama birth certificate kerfluffle, but other people have been. Including a guy who who claims to be a forensic document examiner. Let me start with a little background:

Barack Obama may be on a world tour surrounded by a fawning media, but Sunday an expert in electronic document forensics released a detailed report on the purported birth certificate -- actually a "Certification of Live Birth" or COLB -- claimed as genuine by his campaign. The expert concludes with 100% certainty that it is a crudely forged fake: "a horribly forgery," according to the analysis published on the popular right-wing Atlas Shrugs blog.
So there is a question about Obama's birth certificate and whether he is actually a US Citizen.

The analysis was done by a person who calls himself Techdude.
Techdude's detailed report, which runs more than 3000 words and 20 pages with extensive magnified illustrations and comparisons, reaches the following conclusion about the documented that was first published on the Daily Kos extreme left-wing blog and subsequently publicly endorsed by the Obama campaign, both in statements by official spokesmen, and featured on its "Fight the Smears" website. Here are some of conclusions:

"The (Daily) KOS image security border pattern does not match any known specimen from any known year. It does not match the pre-2006 nor does it match the post-2006 certificate patterns. The placement of the text in all of the pre-2006 and post-2006 certificates are almost identical pixel location matches while the image?s text placement does not match any known specimen from any known year. The shape and kerning of the fonts used in the 2006 through 2008 certificates are identical while the shape and kerning of the fonts used in the image does not match any known specimen. The KOS image shows clear signs of tampering such as the mismatch in RGB and error levels, visible indications of the previous location of the erased security border, easily detectable patterns of repeating flaws around the new security border, EXIF data that says the image was last saved with Photoshop CS3 for Macintosh, and finally a technician from Hawaii who confirms it just looks wrong."
There are images on the first linked site and many more at Atlas Shrugs.

So what does this tell us about Obama? Nothing. If the document is a forgery it may be a red herring: something done to generate controversy so that the real document can later be produced to discredit those who bought into the "not a citizen" riff.

Or it may be Obama is not a citizen of these 57 (or is it 59?) States.

Keep your eye on this one. How ever it turns out it will be interesting.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Is The Rush?

Commenter Pastorius commenting on my article on Moore's Law suggested I have a look at this article by Ray Kurzweil on the accelerating rate of the rate of change.

...a serious assessment of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential. In exponential growth, we find that a key measurement such as computational power is multiplied by a constant factor for each unit of time (e.g., doubling every year) rather than just being added to incrementally. Exponential growth is a feature of any evolutionary process, of which technology is a primary example.

One can examine the data in different ways, on different time scales, and for a wide variety of technologies ranging from electronic to biological, and the acceleration of progress and growth applies. Indeed, we find not just simple exponential growth, but "double" exponential growth, meaning that the rate of exponential growth is itself growing exponentially. These observations do not rely merely on an assumption of the continuation of Moore's law (i.e., the exponential shrinking of transistor sizes on an integrated circuit), but is based on a rich model of diverse technological processes. What it clearly shows is that technology, particularly the pace of technological change, advances (at least) exponentially, not linearly, and has been doing so since the advent of technology, indeed since the advent of evolution on Earth.
Yep. Change is happening much faster than when I was a kid (50s). We have so much more capable technology than we had then and so many more capable technologies.

What does this mean in terms of solving humanity's technical problems? Say energy for instance. It says we should put off implementing a solution for as long as possible because better solutions are just around the corner. Al Gore's idea that we need to rush to fix our reliance on fossil fuels chop, chop, double quick, is flat out wrong. It would be much better for us to rely on current technologies for as long as possible (at least until the alternatives become economically competitive) because the solutions we will have available in five or ten years will be so much better than the ones available today. The important thing is to avoid, through any kind of government program, getting locked in or promoting any given technology.

In the home computer market that is pretty much what we do. If we assume a doubling of capability every two years replacing your home computer every four to six years makes a lot of sense. In four years your "old" machine will have 25% of the power of what is currently on the market. In six years the "old" machine will have 12.5% of the capacity of the latest and greatest. Its economic value at that time (six years after purchase) will be around zero. Which is why if you go out on garbage day looking for a computer you will generally find machines about five to eight years old. Business is a little different. They can't afford to get too far behind in technology. Which is why they get new computers on a three year schedule. They can't afford to give up more than a factor of three to their competition.

Here is another example (based on hypotheticals). Suppose we do a big push on solar and then some kind of nuclear fusion "magic" comes along reducing the price of electricity by a factor of 10X? Under those circumstances the less we spend on alternative energy at today's prices the better off we will be. Given the accelerating rate of change we are bound to come up with some new kind of "magic" of one sort or the other.

It all depends on the learning curve of a particular technology. I'm not sure what the learning curve for solar is but I can guarantee that what we can do in five years will be much better and more cost effective than what we can do today. Kurzweil estimates that the rate of technological change in 2100 will be around 20,000 times the rate of today. That is pretty damn fast. How fast? Changes that we would see in five years at todays accelerating rate will happen in a day around 2100. (I haven't done the math so that number is just an estimated representation to give a feel for what is happening).

What does this tell us in general? Forcing change is wasteful. Real environmentalists (who inherently are conservative) will resist change until the market provides economic solutions, because forcing change increases waste. We saw this in the solar boom in the Carter era. It didn't work out. Because of government subsidies there was a huge amount of waste. Or as that most wise of sages once said:

Patience grasshopper.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Moore?

We are about to come to the end of an era. Moore's law is coming up against fundamental limits. Right now the smallest transistors require hundreds to thousands of atoms. It will be hard to get transistors much smaller than that. In addition as transistors get smaller than that, overall circuits actually get slower and require more power.

Chip and IC equipment makers are at a crossroads as they enter an era that might be called "More than Moore."

The relentless pursuit of scaling over the last 40 years, in accordance with the famed postulate known as Moore's Law, continues to be an aggressive goal.

However, the buzz at the Semicon West equipment show last week suggests the time has come to rethink what is scalable and examine other ways of adding value to semiconductor devices.

Although leading IC makers Intel and IBM remain committed to Moore's Law (Intel in part out of respect for founder Gordon Moore's scaling formula), both are starting to address its limits. In addition, those limits are not just technical; they are economic as well.

Is it still practical?
At Semicon West, where the relentless market pressures facing chipmakers are measured in the progress of tools able to refine physical transistor gate lengths down to 22nm, the Greek chorus of industry gurus sounded a warning: In chasing after ever smaller and denser devices, it might just not be practical to go on scaling for the sake of scaling.

"It's been an economic issue all along," said keynoter Bernie Meyerson, an IBM fellow and CTO of the IBM Systems and Technology Group.

"Moore's Law stipulates that you need to double the density of chips every 12 to 18 months [for scaling purposes]; that's an economic, not a technical issue."

The recipe for scaling is expensive and geometries are approaching single atoms, which won't scale. Those facts are forcing the industry to look "beyond CMOS," simply because "the result of further scaling is more power consumption, more costly [devices] and slower operation," said Meyerson.
Currently chips are being made with photo lithography using ultraviolet light that has a wave length of 193 nm. So how do you make transistors with feature sizes of 22 nm using 193 nm light? With great difficulty.

So what are some possible answers? Stacking chips is one answer. That assumes that you can get the power out of a 3D structure without raising temperatures excessively. Another possibility is more efficient computer languages that get more done with fewer instruction cycles. As many of you know I like FORTH for that purpose. It is a language that lends itself well to mechanization in silicon. Our premier language today, C and its variants - not so much. Another thing FORTH has going for it is that the number of transistors for a given processor (8 bit, 16 bit, 32 bit etc.) is much smaller than the number required for current designs. Fewer transistors means that the transistors will be closer together (that will speed things up because the speed of light is now a fundamental limitation) and fewer transistors also means less heat production. Heat slows down the kind of transistors used in computers (MOSFETs) and it also causes problems because that heat must be dissipated.

Quantum computing might also help. Except for a couple of things. The number of bits (Q bits) is currently small and quantum computing requires temperatures near absolute zero.

One thing to keep in mind is that we have at least another 10 years to go with what we currently know. We may find an answer in that time. Another thing that will help is that every 10 years we double the area that is produced per batch (wafer). That means that cost reductions will slow down if that is the best we can do. However, we still have a ways to go before cost reductions stop all together.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

A Joke

Q: Why is Jimmy Carter supporting the candidacy of Obama?

A: Because Carter is tired of being the Worst President ever!

H/T Has Everyone Gone Nuts?

The Smarter Candidate

There is a poll out that states Republicans think Obama is smarter than McCain.

...troubling for Republicans is that the survey showed that party supporters think Obama is smarter than McCain.

"Despite facing candidates with far more experience in government, [Obama] was rated smartest by 26 percent of those polled, more so than Mrs. Clinton, who won 22 percent, and Mr. McCain, who garnered 17 percent," the Washington Times write Tuesday. "Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, was fourth with 10 percent."
I'm a Republican who believes Obama is smarter than McCain. I'd put Obama in the too smart by half category.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Draining Brains

Information Processing is looking at why American are not going into science and engineering. For one thing it is hard. He quotes from the New York Times.

NYTimes: At M.I.T., a 2007 survey showed that 28.7 percent of undergraduates were headed for work in finance, 13.7 in management consulting and just 7.5 percent in aerospace and defense. The top 10 employers included McKinsey, Google, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bain, JPMorgan and Oracle — but not a single military contractor or government office.
The closer your are to the money supply (sales, finance) the more money you make. Engineers do make financial decisions - under the guidance of the sales and finance guys - so their compensation is above average. Just not as good as the finance and sales guys. However, there are other problems. Engineers need vast experience to be any good and that takes time - decades.

Another was pointed out to me by the Dean of Engineering at NIU. Engineers need the soul of an artist because engineering is making what you want from what you can get. Just like art only with more constraints and the math is harder.

The contact with the money flows also explains why engineers make more than scientists. Even though the math for science is generally harder.

Where does that leave us? Only those with the capability plus intense desire become scientists or for that matter engineers. Which is as it should be. I wouldn't want aircraft designed by those who were only in it for the money.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We Can't Drill Our Way Out

A blog about US politics has this comment:

The time for talk is over. We can't drill our way out of this and both his and Gore's plan point us in the right direction. We need to just do it.
I got news for him. If we can't drill our way out of our immediate problems, there is no immediate solution. Why? It is a matter of logistics and infrastructure. Our experience with the transition from wood to coal and coal to oil is instructive. Those transitions took about 75 to 100 years. Why? Whole new methods of production and infrastructure had to be developed. It is a problem of capital and logistics. Take our automotive fleet. It turns over at the rate of about 6% a year. That means a 15 or so year transition period if ALL the new vehicles embody the new energy technology. Add in another 4 to 10 years for the design of the new vehicles and the development of the support infrastructure. Say the new technology is electric of some sort. We need to be able to produce 15 million automotive qualified electric motors a year. So before we can even get up to full scale production of the transition vehicle we need quite a few new electric motor factories. How about power electronics to control the motors? Say the typical motor had a peak rating of 50 KW. That would require 750 megawatts of control electronics a year. Which is no small amount. We don't have the capacity for it. It takes 3 to 5 years to raise the capital and build a new semiconductor plant. Just to get a 15 year transition we would have to build all the support industry all at once. That will take around 5 years provided we know exactly what we want.

Which just goes to show that nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it.

And this all assumes we know what supporting industries we should invest in. Now what happens if during this all out production effort some one comes up with something new that completely changes the direction we ought to head in? A lot of the capital invested in the ramp up will have been wasted.

Sadly we have gone from Scientific Socialism to Hope and Change Socialism. The original Scientific Socialism was bad enough. Hope and Change Socialism is definitely not an improvement.

There is no magic bullet. We are going to have to muddle our way through. Slowly. For as long as it takes.

There are a couple of things to do while working towards change:

1. Do not panic
2. Drill for more oil

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Con Law

Senator/Presidential Candidate Barack Hussein Obama wants to create a civilian National Security force. I'm not sure the Senator, who is a constitutional law scholar, understands the US Constitution. We already have a civilian National Security force. He can read all about it in the amendments to the US Constitution. Specifically the Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The Militia is the US National Security force and it consists of all the able bodied persons who are armed and of a certain age group (I think it is all those people between the ages of 18 to 45 - but I need to look it up) by act of Congress. The people of the US are already empowered to defend their country. All that is required is that they visit their local gun store (except in Washington DC and a few other major cities - Chicago, the Senator's home town comes to mind) and get armed.

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a good idea. It is just that the Senator is 200+ years late to the party. I wonder if he slept through his Constitutional Law classes.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, July 18, 2008

Demand For Engineers Rises

It seems that the demand for engineers is rising in certain sectors.

Well, there’s at least one positive side effect of our rising gas prices. Engineering jobs.

That’s according to a Yahoo HotJobs article this week that points to the power sectors like wind and solar as “hot” spots for engineering gigs.

Citing the US Bureau of Labor Statistics among its sources, the article claims engineers who can find better ways to capture air, solar, and wind energy will be in high demand as oil prices continue to rise. Al Gore said something to that affect at the 2007 Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose where he claimed the “climate crisis” could be an opportunity to attract a new generation of engineers who will, basically, then be called undo the damage their parent’s and grandparent’s generations did.

And while the “duh factor” on the Yahoo article’s employment demand statement is pretty high, so is the expected engineering job growth rate at 11% through 2016. That 11% is especially high when you consider the above-average salaries EEs pull in (that is, above average compared to say an insurance agent, graphic designer, etc.) and the United States shift toward stagnant or lower wages.

The Yahoo article also brings up nuclear engineers who make plants run more efficiently. When did nuclear come back as an acceptable energy source?
Isn't that interesting. Markets respond to price signals. Of course there will be a lag. Work has to be done. Materials acquired and production systems designed (logistics). However. it is obvious that the market response is way faster than anything the government can do.

So what do I expect to see? The government will pass a bunch of laws about 6 months before the market delivers. Just so the government can take credit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Northern Illinois University - DeKalb

I have spent the day at Northern Illinois University at DeKalb student/parent orientation. I was there for my #3 son who is enrolling in their electronic/electrical engineering program. From what I can tell it is a very good program. Their aim is not only training engineers but also placing them in industry. They have an excellent co-op program. I spent some time talking with the dean of the program and I was impressed. Their philosophy is that you are not a real engineer unless you can do real engineering. Book larnin' is not enough. Their program is wide ranging from circuit design to manufacturing engineering and program management.

If you are looking for a school that will help your son or daughter get real world skills I'd have to say that it seems like a very fine school. I'll probably have more to say about it as I get some experience (through my son) with the program.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Certain Reality

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."--Albert Einstein

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"
- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sea Trade Cultures

I was discussing an article I posted at Classical Values, The al-Ameriki Tribe (also cross posted here at P&C), with some commenters and made this brilliant (well you know my opinion of myself) comment.

Only a moral people can have successful revolutions. Private property has to be a core value or the result is a degeneration into wholesale thievery. Socialism.

I think being a sea trade culture is critical. It tends to impose honest dealings across cultures and tribes. Tribal or factional cultures tend to degenerate into thievery.
So I thought to myself, that is an interesting line of thought. What is the influence of sea trade cultures on politics? So you know the first thing to do is to see if any one had written anything on "sea trade culture". Nothing. Zero. Bupkiss. Searching - "sea trade" culture - is a little better. About 117,000 items. Anything interesting?

I did find something on littoral culture.
The collapsing of Oceanic culture and politics, the affinities of community and the energies of colonial resistance has me thinking of the deforming imperial visions running through seascapes and littoral cultures. Gifts, affinities, and ships point me to not the land and sea, but to the Àscapes themselves. This, as theorist Kenneth Olwig reminds, is a derivation not unlike that of friendship or citizenship, which is clearly to note that it is a community notion. Thus a seascape is primarily and necessarily founded upon a community of memory, custom, and practice. This is a divided notion—between the place of memory, custom, and community, and that of the imperial power to view, from a dominant vision, "seascapes" themselves; in considering our themes we are radically implicated in these apparent disjunctures between the local and the global or imperial.

Equally to note is the critical observation that these "ships" are indeed literally "ships." That is, they are continuously mobile and negotiated constructions, bearing meaning yet dependent upon the familiars who create them—if we strongly consider such terms as "citizenship," with all of its evocations of the ship of state, we see uniquely how it is very much a question of "representation." In the image then, to represent the seascape, is also to struggle with the notion of representation—the politics of community, accountability, and voice, and the struggle over those seascapes which are unrepresented, which have no "ships," whether communities evoked, rights to be enjoyed or demanded, or mobile cultures in which to participate.
Typical academic speak. I think what he means to say is that seafaring has a rather definite culture attached to it. In other words he has restated the premise without adding any information.

I have done some more searching and haven't found anything like Mahan's "The Influence of Sea Power On History" with respect to the influence of seafaring on politics and actual culture (as opposed to giving it a name - littoral culture - and letting it go at that). As far as I can tell what the scholars mean by "littoral culture" is that people have boats. There is no attempt to unify cultural/political constructions that are a result of such a culture. How does it influence law? Levels of trust? Clan behavior? Identity? It looks like a wide open field of study.

I have taken a look in some past articles on the advantages of safe trade routes to the general welfare in Decline and Fall and Desolation Row and
Makers vs Takers. But none of those touches on the effect of seafaring on politics and culture. I'm going to have to give this some more thought and research and see if I can add to the body of general knowledge.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's Cheaper To Buy Than Steal

Thought Mesh takes a look at why the left does not get the New American Empire.

In my view, what most of the declinists miss is that the American Hegemony is unlike any previous empire in its structure and means. The former British Empire is the closest, but it still depended on far more direct control than the American Hegemony. The USA has little need of directly dominating its client states, as empires have done in the past. The essential point is that liberal democracies empower the USA regardless of the actual attitude of the government. Even Old Europe is of net benefit to the USA, despite the overt hostility of its two largest states, France and Germany. This creates a dynamic of low effort, high reward that eliminates the problem of imperial overstretch.
The American Empire is specifically based on shared values (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) not on control. The idea being that if the members of the Empire each act in their own self interest it will produce the best possible outcome by reconciling those interests. Kind of like that Adam Smith invisible hand thingy.
Why do the declinists miss this? We could point out their fundamental hostility to the USA, but that’s not an interesting avenue to explore. While certainly part of the reason, it’s not the entire reason.

We can begin to see the root of it if we notice that the American Hegemony is local Anglosphere politics writ large. The Hegemony is much more like a village of free but cooperating people in the Anglospheric tradition than the various forms of despotism that formed the structure of previous empires. I think most of the declinists can’t see this because they come from a Leftist tradition that cannot envision a society of freely cooperating individuals and so have no model for the same thing among nations. As Adam Smith pointed out, a collection of free invididuals naturally benefit each other, via trade and other interactions. In the same way, a community of free nations (externally and internally) benefit each other without any need for explicit control. That is the missing concept that informs the declinists’ world view.
If you don't believe in a free market for individuals, it is kind of hard to envision a free market of states. Each acting in its own interest making the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts.

BTW the headline was stolen from the comments at Thought Mesh. Read 'em. There are some good points there.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bush Is A Failure

In the comments here some one said:

Except that Carter currently has higher approval ratings than Bush does.
To which I replied:

I guess Bush should have done something to get interest rates above 15% and hand Iran to the theocrats.

It is too late for the first and the second is already taken.

QED: Bush is a failure.

The al-Ameriki Tribe

So I'm reading the comments at Gateway Pundit and I come across a commenter who says I should do a bit of research on the al-Ameriki tribe. Interesting. So I did a search. And what did I come up with? A wiky entry to start. It is short. So here it is:

The Al-Ameriki tribe is a name (properly, a nickname) given by native Iraqis to United States soldiers and other American personnel occupying Iraq.
That is a start. Perhaps we can find out more.

The wiki suggests this Phil Carter article in Slate. It was written in Nov. of 2007 when things were still looking grim in Iraq. The situation was improving but there was no certainty that a corner had been turned. So lets have a look.
Political reconciliation efforts have produced qualified successes in Anbar, Baghdad, and Diyala. Our security work complemented these political deals by rewarding the sheiks who worked with us, inducing many to stop actively or passively supporting the insurgency. These deals represent the increasing pragmatism of Sunni leaders who realize that the Shiite state is a fait accompli, and they must therefore do what they can to reconcile with each other and with the Americans (who they call the "al-Ameriki tribe") in order to survive.
We have tribal status in Iraq. Interesting.

Michael Yon has more from July of 2007.
The big news on the streets today is that the people of Baqubah are generally ecstatic, although many hold in reserve a serious concern that we will abandon them again. For many Iraqis, we have morphed from being invaders to occupiers to members of a tribe. I call it the “al Ameriki tribe,” or “tribe America.”

I’ve seen this kind of progression in Mosul, out in Anbar and other places, and when I ask our military leaders if they have sensed any shift, many have said, yes, they too sense that Iraqis view us differently. In the context of sectarian and tribal strife, we are the tribe that people can—more or less and with giant caveats—rely on.

Most Iraqis I talk with acknowledge that if it was ever about the oil, it’s not now. Not mostly anyway. It clearly would have been cheaper just to buy the oil or invade somewhere easier that has more. Similarly, most Iraqis seem now to realize that we really don’t want to stay here, and that many of us can’t wait to get back home. They realize that we are not resolved to stay, but are impatient to drive down to Kuwait and sail away. And when they consider the Americans who actually deal with Iraqis every day, the Iraqis can no longer deny that we really do want them to succeed. But we want them to succeed without us. We want to see their streets are clean and safe, their grass is green, and their birds are singing. We want to see that on television. Not in person. We don’t want to be here. We tell them that every day. It finally has settled in that we are telling the truth.

Now that all those realizations and more have settled in, the dynamics here are changing in palpable ways.
There is more in his report about how the "insurgency" essentially defeated itself. Insurgencies typically spout high ideals while recruiting criminals. They have to. Criminals are used to evading the government. The question always is: can the criminals be disciplined? Will they follow orders? Will the criminals who have advanced in the organization give good orders? Will they follow the plan? Or will they revert to criminal depredations with the increased power that being part of a shadow government gives them?

In the Iraq insurgency the criminals got the upper hand. It has been their downfall.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Was Wrong

In a recent post Help - I Need Somebody I asked for some help in explaining my ideas about a physics problem. It turns out I had a misconception. The short answer is that a particle that traverses an electric field and winds up at the same potential it started at will have the same energy it started with. 93143 was right all along. It took until Friday (from my post on Tuesday) for him to explain it well enough so that I got it. The above explanation should save him (and myself and others) a lot of time in the future.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Keeping It Positive

Coyote Blog has a bit I missed on the latest IPCC report (2007) on climate change.

It is silly to argue whether CO2 in the atmosphere can cause global warming: It clearly does. The issue is not "if" but "how much". The warming from man's CO2 might be 8 degrees in a century, as Al Gore might argue, in which case man's CO2 would be incredibly disruptive. Or it might cause just a few tenths of a degree of warming, which might be unnoticeable within the noise of natural climate variation.

Interestingly, the key to understanding this issue of the amount of warming does not actually lie in greenhouse gas theory. Most scientists, skeptics and alarmists alike, peg the warming directly from CO2 at between 0.3 and 1.0 degrees Celsius for a doubling in CO2 levels (this notion of how much temperatures would increase for a doubling of CO2 levels is called climate sensitivity). If this greenhouse gas warming was the only phenomenon at work, we would expect man-made warming over the next century even using the most dire assumptions to be less than 1C, or about the same amount we have seen (non-catastrophically) over the last century. Warming forecasts of this magnitude would not in any way, shape, or form justify the draconian economic impacts of many current government carbon reduction proposals.
Well Coyote has a nice chart. It shows that IPCC estimates for the amount of "heating" CO2 does to the global climate system has been declining with each report. And yet the warnings get more dire with each report. How can that be?
The key, as I have written before (and here), lies not in greenhouse gas theory itself but in the theory that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedback. This theory hypothesizes that small changes in temperature from greenhouse gas increases would be multiplied 3,4,5 times or more by positive feedback effects, from changes in atmospheric water vapor to changing surface albedo.

Let me emphasize again: The catastrophe results not from greenhouse gas theory, but from the theory of extreme climactic positive feedback. In a large sense, all the debate in the media is about the wrong thing! When was the last time you saw the words "positive feedback" in a media article about climate?
Well isn't that interesting. Climate catastrophe is based on positive feedback. And yet...
So how confident are we in these feedback effects? Well, it turns out we are not even sure of the sign! As Monckton writes:
The feedback factor f accounts for at least two-thirds of all radiative forcing in IPCC (2007); yet it is not expressly quantified, and no “Level Of Scientific Understanding” is assigned either to f or to the two variables b and κ upon which it is dependent....

Indeed, in IPCC (2007) the stated values for the feedbacks that account for more than two-thirds of humankind’s imagined effect on global temperatures are taken from a single paper. The value of the coefficient z in the CO2 forcing equation likewise depends on only one paper. The implicit value of the crucial parameter κ depends upon only two papers, one of which had been written by a lead author of the chapter in question, and neither of which provides any theoretical or empirical justification for the IPCC’s chosen value. The notion that the IPCC has drawn on thousands of published, peer-reviewed papers to support its central estimates for the variables from which climate sensitivity is calculated is not supported by the evidence.
Given the importance of feedback to their forecasts, the treatment in the latest IPCC report of feedback borders on the criminal. I have read the relevant sections and it is nearly impossible to find any kind of discussion of these issues. A cynical mind might describe the thousands of pages of the IPCC report as the magician grabbing your attention with his left hand to hide what is in his right hand. And what is being hidden is that ... there is nothing there! Feedback is the pivotal point on which the whole discussion of drastic carbon abatement should turn and there is nothing there.
So the most important factor in the greenhouse catastrophe scenario is not understood. No wonder why it isn't discussed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain Is Taking Economics Lessons

The Presidential candidate who recently said economics is not one of his strong points appears to be taking lessons.

...on deep background, this senior McCain advisor told me I was correct: no cap-and-trade. In other words, this central-planning, regulatory, tax-and-spend disaster, which did not appear in Mac’s two recent speeches, has been eradicated entirely — even from the detailed policy document that hardly anybody will ever read.

So then I asked this senior official if the campaign has taken cap-and-trade out behind the barn and shot it dead once and for all — buried it in history’s dustbin of bad ideas. The answer came back that they are interested in jobs right now — jobs for new energy production and jobs from lower taxes. At that point I became satisfied. Even though a McCain presidency might resurrect cap-and-trade, it will be a much different format. More important, the campaign is cognizant of the conservative rebellion against it.
Good for McCain for working to fill the gaps in his knowledge base and adjusting his policies accordingly.

The fact that cap and trade is a dead horse is especially good. We are going to need abundant energy supplies to develop new ones.

H/T linearthinker

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ending The Income Tax

Carla Howell is at it again. She is trying to end the income tax in Massachusetts. Again. She first tried it in 2002 and got 45% of the vote. Not bad. I hope she does better this time. I think 50.1% might be good enough.

H/T Instapundit

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Help - I Need Somebody

Could some one please explain to commenter 93143 in this thread why he has misunderstood physics re: particle accelerators/decelerators. I have lost my patience.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Solar Power For Your Car?

EDN Magazine says Toyota is planning on offering solar panels for the Prius. A solar cell guy in the comments says:

at 7/7/2008 2:01:13 PM, baldguy63 said:

Solatec has had an equivalent PV system in development for 2 years for the Prius at approximately 1/2 the cost. The prototype currently has Konarka panels installed and they do indeed feed into the aux. battery whaenever the roof is exposed to sunlight. Although our gas savings on the prototype is only about 4 mpg, we are quite satisfied with the performance and reliability. Expect a production announcement soon.
Competition. Warms the heart.

Did any one note the time frame? Two years for development and to prepare for production. We are not going to beat our oil needs with some kind of magic home run. It will be done with numerous incremental improvements. Which will take time. The thing to remember is that it is a process.

Not cost effective you say? Consider it a hobby. If the hobbiests can bring up enough volume, costs will come down. Bottom up solutions are the best in any beginning stage development - usually. And right now we are at the beginning.

Keeping Secrets

When you were young and wanted to have some real fun you had to keep secrets from your parents. When you get older and want real fun you have to keep secrets from your kids.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I'm Busy Learning KICad

Kicad is a free schematic drafting and board layout software. Like most free stuff, it is short on documentation. However, this is helpful.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. - Alexander Hamilton

(NIMBY is "Not In My Back Yard" - NIH is "Not Invented Here")

The Difficulty With Government

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself. - Alexander Hamilton

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4th 008 Bikini Edition

Let me tell all you fans out there that I have the best mate in the world. Every day she has been bugging me about the traditional July 4th Patriotic and Exceptional Bikini Edition. "Where are the pictures, let me see the pictures" she says. I did give her a sneak preview. And now. For those who have been waiting. Bikinis. For women and men.

An All American girl. Sturdy young lady. Nice outfit. Nice smile. Well armed. Very pretty picture. And don't forget the freedom lover in the background. A brewski in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I love America. And you know how sometimes when suits get wet they need adjusting? I hate it when that happens. Except in this case. Fortunately we have pictures of how the discomfort can be relieved.

Here are some ladies in swim suits so tight that they look painted on. I love ladies in tight swim suits.

Here is a woman with stars in her eyes. And a couple of other places.

Here is a site that advertises,"your favorite sizes". I'll say. 36, 38, and 40. C, D, and double D. The suits aren't bad either.

This image is for sale. You get it free here.

Here is a whole page of American Flag bikinis. With some very nice ladies in them. Some of my favorites:

A lady in long sleeves and an exposed flank. A dangerous position to be in with an army in the field.

Here is a lady with wind blown hair with stars on the top and stripes on the bottom.

This lady appears to be holding up a lifeguard tower at the beach. How her bathing suit holds her up is a miracle of modern engineering.

Here is a gentleman who is proud to be an American. From the photo it appears he has a lot to be proud of.

A model with strings attached.

And here we have a topless model. Nice suit.

Here is something you don't find often. A Mercedes in an American Flag. God Bless America.

Miracles of modern technology.

Many people say that America is a star obsessed culture. It is not difficult to see why.

Real American women dress like this.

Bad news. This is not a bikini. It is a most interesting design for a flag. Plus it has the opening of the Declaration of Independence. Just in case you forgot why we are here.

Like to do Photoshop tricks with photos? This one is ready made.

Here is a truly amazing bikini from the minimalist school. It is a stick on bikini. With stars. Well the colors are not exactly 4th of July. For this amazing bikini and the young lady in (out of) it, I'll make an exception. At least you can see stars. Two of them to be exact. Here is another similar stick on bikini with stars. Different model. After careful inspection it is obvious this lady does not wear this type of suit all the time. Have a close look and tell me what you think. For a more thorough inspection here is a side view of the same model. See if you can find the swim suit in the picture.

This is called a halter. It doesn't look like it would halt anything. More likely to get them going.

Texas Bikini Team. Odds are what ever they are playing they are going to come in first.

Here is my favorite from the 2006 edition. This lady is totally nude. Totally. She is sitting on the edge of a lake. She is sitting on an American Flag motif float. If you would like to check out the past editions here is the one from 2006 and the one from 2007. I don't guarantee that all the links are good but the ones that work are very good indeed.

As in every parade some one has to bring up the rear. I can't think of a nicer way to do it. Except maybe this way.

Update: For those into more serious study may I suggest The Bikini Book.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Blessed Are The Believers

An interesting little tit-bit from a while back about culture and law in Israel.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has granted a Palestinian a rare residency permit after the man, who is gay, said his sexuality put his life in danger in the West Bank, a Defence Ministry official said on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old Palestinian from Jenin was issued a temporary permit to live with his Israeli partner in Tel Aviv after arguing he faced death threats from fellow Palestinians who disapproved of him being gay, the official said.

Israel's Interior Ministry rarely issues permits for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who want to live with their partners in Israel, regardless of sexuality. Requesting such a permit can take years.

"In this case the man's lawyer said his life was in danger because of his sexual preference," said Peter Lerner, spokesman for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, whose office comes under the defence ministry.

"On this basis we issued the temporary permit," he said.
It is things like this that make it hard for me to figure out groups like Queers For Palestine. They claim to be for liberation. All I see is a group favoring liberation for oppression rather than liberation from oppression. I guess Hope and Change spring eternal. Reminds me of the famous Biblical quote, "Blessed are the believers because they will follow idiots."

In fact Instapundit brought to my attention a post on that very subject by Eric S. Raymond.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Local News

The Sterling, Illinois man who went on a murder spree has been captured.

GRANITE CITY, Ill. - Police and FBI agents captured an ex-convict suspected of killing eight people in two states as he smoked a cigarette outside of a southwestern Illinois bar Tuesday night.

Nicholas T. Sheley, who was the subject of a multistate manhunt after authorities linked him to the deaths of eight people in Illinois and Missouri, was arrested around 7 p.m. outside of Bindy's, a Granite City bar, said bartender Katie Ronk.

Sheley ordered a glass of water and went to the bathroom before another bartender and customer recognized him, Ronk said. The customer, Gary Range, said he left the bar and notified a police officer parked in the lot outside,"I told (the police officer) the description and the officer said, 'That's him.' He got on the radio and eventually there were police all over the place," Range said.
I think this points out a few of the most salient facts of life. If you are going to go on a murder spree don't hang out in bars, don't drink anything, don't go to the bathroom, and don't smoke cigarettes.

Seriously though, I had read about this guy today and of course as irrational as it is you start worrying about your friends and family.

We live about 50 miles from Sterling and have a close friend from that area (who lives in Rockford). So your mind starts going into those dark alleys. The vast majority of which are actually blind alleys. I think this points out the old military dictum made famous by Patton, "Never take council with your fears." The best thing to do is face them, realize most won't come to pass and if you are still worried, take what steps you can to strengthen your defenses. Even if it is only mental preparation. "What would I do if...."

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Democrat Tells The Truth

I was over visiting KOS due to an Instapundit link and came across this gem in the comments.

many of you outraged purists are getting soiled by politics for the first time, for older purists it continues to be about ideals.

We have a dangerous fascist powerhouse in the military industrial complex that we're trying to shove from power. I personally would lie to defeat them.

Lockheed puts out ads that say, "we never forget who we're working for." Right. The permanent war machine.

I don't know about you but I'm working for Barack Obama.
It would seem to me that your product ought to be good enough so you don't have to lie about it. Once you admit the need to lie to your customers you have taken a step down a very dark road. When can the lying stop? When can you start telling the truth? What does it mean for repeat sales when buyers remorse sets in?

This person claims to be an old hand at politics. I'd say he has learned nothing from his experience. Or the wrong things.