Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thomas Paine and crisis during the Revolution

After the Continental Army was driven out of New Jersey, an article titled "The American Crisis" was published in the Pennsylvania Journal, DECEMBER 23, 1776. Written by an aide-de-camp to General Nathanael Greene named Thomas Paine, General Washington ordered it read to the troops: "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." Thomas Paine continued: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly....Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated... God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction...who have so earnestly...sought to avoid the calamities of war." Paine concluded: "The whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back...by a few broken forces headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen... 'Show your faith by your works,' that God may bless you...I thank God, that I fear not." Via: American Minute I learned of the importance of Tom Paine while reading Washington's Crossing. Author: David Hackett Fischer. Excellent account of amazing true history.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Collision - The merger of Delta and Northwest airlines

How will they become one airline when they can't work together as two? Local News | Planes bump on ground at Sea-Tac | Seattle Times Newspaper:
Two flights bound for the Midwest from Seattle were canceled this morning when the passenger-filled planes backed into each other as they left their gates, airport officials said. No one was injured. A Delta 737-800 plane, Flight 1288 to Cincinnati, was backing away from its gate at the Concourse Terminal at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, shortly before 7 a.m, according to airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt. At the same time, Betancourt said, a Northwest 757-300 plane, Flight 620 to Minneapolis, was backing away from its gate at the South Satellite Terminal.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Say goodnight, Caroline: How JFK's daughter flubbed the audition to become the next Senator Kennedy

Interesting observation on Caroline Schlossberg's campaign to carry on Camlot. NY Daily News quoting: ... But a strange thing is happening on the way to the coronation. The wheels of the bandwagon are coming off. Fantasy is giving way to inescapable truth. * That truth is that Kennedy is not ready for the job and doesn't deserve it. Somebody who loves her should tell her. Her quest is becoming a cringe-inducing experience, as painful to watch as it must be to endure. Because she is the only survivor of that dreamy time nearly 50 years ago, she remains an iconic figure. But in the last few days, her mini-campaign has proved she has little to offer New Yorkers except her name. Her handlers and family enablers insist she feels no entitlement to the Senate job, yet there is no other possible reason to give it to her. Her name is the sole reason she even dares go for it. Camelot must be Gaelic for chutzpah. ... Kennedy apparently decided to go public to build support and scare off others, including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose nasty divorce from her cousin still roils both clans. Kennedy also had to introduce herself to Democratic party leaders because, other than endorsing Obama, her politics were a mystery. But the minute she faced the routine questions that help define a candidate for virtually any office, she had nothing to say. There was no "there" there. "I just hope everybody understands that it is not a campaign but that I have a lifelong devotion to public service," she said during her first-ever visit to Rochester. "I've written books on the Constitution and the importance of individual participation. And I've raised my family. I think I really could help bring change to Washington." ... "I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party. I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Scientific illiteracy epidemic among the glitterati

When it comes to science, Barack Obama is no better than many of us. Today he joins the list of shame of those in public life who made scientifically unsupportable statements in 2008. Science, News - The Independent: quoting: When it comes to science, Barack Obama is no better than many of us. Today he joins the list of shame of those in public life who made scientifically unsupportable statements in 2008. Closer to home, Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith faltered on the science of food, while Kate Moss, Oprah Winfrey and Demi Moore all get roastings for scientific illiteracy. The Celebrities and Science Review 2008, prepared by the group Sense About Science, identifies some of the worst examples of scientific illiteracy among those who profess to know better – including top politicians. Mr Obama and John McCain blundered into the MMR vaccine row during their presidential campaigns. "We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate," said President-elect Obama. "Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it," he said. His words were echoed by Mr McCain. "It's indisputable that [autism] is on the rise among children, the question is what's causing it," he said. "There's strong evidence that indicates it's got to do with a preservative in the vaccines."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bettors Beat Pundits

The collective wisdom of people who risked their own money beat every pundit on the presidential election. From one of my favorite science journalists - John Tierney at NY Times. Bettors Beat Pundits - TierneyLab Blog - NYTimes.com:
We debated the merits of collective wisdom earlier this year, after the bettors in the the Intrade online prediction market wrongly picked Barack Obama to win the New Hampshire primary. The bettors are looking more savvy now that the election’s over and the last undecided state, Missouri, has finally been called for John McCain. Once again, collective wisdom backed by cash has triumphed over conventional wisdom — at least when you compare the Intrade bettors with some of the pundits who get paid to make predictions. On the morning of Election Day, I printed out the expectations from the Dublin-based Intrade market as well as a roundup of predictions from nearly two dozen political consultants, journalists and academics that appeared at the Huffington Post. The Intrade bettors expected Mr. Obama to end up with 364 votes in the Electoral College — one less than he actually got. None of the pundits came so close. Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory, came closest with prediction of 361; all the rest were off by at least 12 votes. Nate Silver, the much-talked-about statistician at FiveThirtyEight.com, underestimated Mr. Obama’s tally by 18 votes. Many of the pundits underestimated Mr. Obama’s total by more than 25 votes, like Chris Matthews, Arianna Huffington, and the strategists Paul Begala, James Carville and Alex Castellanos.

No one's as Irish as Barack O'Bama

The Irish have checked: Done by the Corrigan Brothers, via David Boze at KTTH.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Back home: Seattle refuses to use salt; roads "snow packed" by design

We got out of Los Cabos only an hour late. We had to pay big bucks for a taxi because Shuttle Express isn't doing home delivery. They wouldn't have trouble at our home a mile north of the Seattle city limites, but I don't blame them. And ... Seattle is leaving the streets frozen on purpose... The street department is not using salt... to save the fish!? Seattle Times Newspaper: [In Seattle] there's snow and ice left on major arterials by design. "We're trying to create a hard-packed surface," said Alex Wiggins, chief of staff for the Seattle Department of Transportation. "It doesn't look like anything you'd find in Chicago or New York." The city's approach means crews clear the roads enough for all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles, or those with front-wheel drive cars as long as they are using chains, Wiggins said. The icy streets are the result of Seattle's refusal to use salt, an effective ice-buster used by the state Department of Transportation and cities accustomed to dealing with heavy winter snows. "If we were using salt, you'd see patches of bare road because salt is very effective," Wiggins said. "We decided not to utilize salt because it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stuck in Cabo - Almost

We just might be stuck in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. You won't feel sorry for us if you take a look at Playa Grande Resort (means big beach). It's in a great location on the Pacific Ocean side of Land's End, but still walking distance to the marina and its shops, even for us lame people. Though we moved to a cheaper hotel for our last two days.  Alaska Airline ceased all operations at the Seattle airport Sunday night. Of about 30 flights scheduled to arrive only 3 long hauls from Hawaii and Mexico arrived between 6 pm and midnight. See FlightStats.com by airline and airport. But they only go back one day, as far as I can find. Our flight is Tuesday at 4:30. Wish us luck - to be stuck here. No! To get home for Christmas. But, most of all, not to be stuck at LAX.

Update 12/24: Our flight went and only one hour late. It was canceled Sunday, so some people "had to" stay longer and others took their chances at LAX.  I have been following the industry for over 30 years and here is what I would do if I were in their place. I would not go to the airport until I knew my flight was going. 
  1. Go to FlightStats.com. First, look at your flight - its status. The problem is that airlines often don't want to tell the bad news. But they are better about it now, particularly because they get a worse mark on their record for a very late flight than for canceling. So check your flight for its expected departure status.
  2. An additional help: If the airline won't tell you, then look for clues! In some cases you can guess which flight the aircraft will do before your flight. Then you check for the departure of that previous flight at the airline's web site or FlightStats. For example, at Los Cabos the flight to Seattle is preceded by the flight from Seattle. (The problem with this method is you almost always need to be leaving for the airport by that departure time, so step 3.)
  3. Set alerts at FlightStats.com. FlightStats will send you email or call your cell phone when the status of the flight you choose changes. So you can get the update while you are on the road.
  4. But - don't go to the airport if there is reasonable doubt your flight will go. Stay in the sun by the pool or on the beach! And go online to change your flight or call the airline.
The photo [has been removed]: Land's End - the end of Baja California - at Cabo San Lucas. Sand under the arch, as pictured here, occurs only once every few years and only when both the Moon is closer to the Earth than usual and it is full or new moon. This occurred last week.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bush is not a unilateralist

Charges that President Bush only acts "go it alone" fall flat against evidence he has had many major foreign efforts that have been carried out in cooperation with the beneficiaries and with other aiding countries. Paul Dobrianski has been involved in many of these efforts as Undersecretary for democracy and global affairs. "Every issue here has a vibrant multilateral component to it. But who has noticed? One problem has been that the efforts are not in the hard-policy head-line areas, but in soft, long-term efforts that go on quietly, without much notice. For example, they began efforts to aid Afghan women to start small businesses early on they met with two young women who were starting a micro-finance bank - only two. Their next meeting they had to meet in the cafeteria at the US Embassy because 80 to 100 women attended. The next meeting was at the offices of the women financiers. A little targeted assitance had a large effect. Trafficking of persons = Early in his administration Bush created an office to focus on this problem - the first in the world. Today dozens of countries have such offices. Congo Basin - In 2002 the US announced a major effort to protect the world's second largest rain forest. With 40 governments and other groups. Avian Flu - In 2005 Bush started international partnerships to combat this flu. Democracy - With US leadership the UN created the Democracy Fund to aid projects to further democracy. Africa - Bush increased health funding by 4 times. And his effort for HIV/AIDS in Africa dwarfs what Clinton did. We have friends who are working actively in Uganda who say that Bush has been very good for Africa. Source: "Bush was no unilateralist," Wall Street Journal, December 13-14, 2008.

Murtha still calls our Marines cold-blooded killers

When Congressman Jack Murtha was accusing our Marines of being cold-blooded killers, several of them were charged and going to be tried. Acquittal on the charges isn't enough for pork-spending Jack. He says they are guilty after they have been found innocent. CNS News
Although all of the charges have been dropped against all of the Marines – except for one – involved in the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) said he stands by his May 2006 remarks that the Marines involved “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stunning Snowflake Photographs

This is great.  Snowflake and Snow Crystal Photographs: These pictures show real snow crystals that fell to earth in Northern Ontario, Alaska, Vermont, the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. They were captured by Kenneth G. Libbrecht using a specially designed snowflake photomicroscope.
He has a book we saw in the bookstore. The variety is incredible.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Obama will pay for "green" buildings - WASTE

My response to Marginal Revolution Green buildings Seattle built a new "green" city hall a few years back and got a gold LEED certificate for it. Here is the press release. But... now the reality. The new building is WORSE than the old one. Seattle P-I
"Seattle's new City Hall is an energy hog - Higher utility bills take the glow off its 'green' designation "Seattle's new City Hall was designed with the environment in mind, using the most energy-efficient technologies. "But the building acts like an old-fashioned electricity hog. It has lofty public spaces and walls of glass designed to welcome citizens and suggest an open and transparent government. It also uses 15 percent to 50 percent more electricity some months than the older, larger building it replaced, according to Seattle City Light utility bills. "The high energy use is an embarrassment for the city at a time when Mayor Greg Nickels is urging municipalities across the country to cut their energy consumption and voluntarily comply with the Kyoto environmental protocols. City Council member

On the Street, Disbelief and Resignation - WSJ.com

WSJ.com: Inside what's left of Wall Street, investment bankers are doing all they can to cope with a business that is disappearing before their eyes. Yes, there are tens of thousands of people still with jobs. They just don't have much work. Debt and stock markets are virtually shut, merger volume is down by 28%, and whole lines of structured finance are closed for good. Investment banking has since become a phantom realm, where everyone is busy but no one is doing anything. In this world, status is conferred by a quality meeting, not a completed transaction; a $700,000 salary is deemed generous; and an apocryphal story keeps circulating of a former J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. mortgage-securities banker now driving a forklift. "An entire generation has worked for 20 years, lifted up their heads, and it's all gone 'poof,' " says one Goldman Sachs banker. Indeed, last Friday J.P. Morgan quietly laid off a passel of Bear Stearns bankers. They thought they had found a safe harbor after Bear imploded early this year. For now, the coping is taking the form of prolific meeting-taking. Ten of 11 people interviewed described, with unexpected eagerness, how now is a good time to "connect with clients" or "build relationships." One boasted of spending just two days a month in the office, while another ex-J.P. Morgan employee boasted of two breakthrough meetings -- just hours before he was fired.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Single-payer healthcare is cheaper, but for less and poorer quality care

I intend to follow the effort to get control of our health-care system - government control. Can Tom Daschle put together a system that has the efficiency of the US Postal Service with the compassion of the IRS? Does he intend to? No. But he is likely to "succeed." During Clinton's term while Hillary's complete takeover failed they did get hold of the system of vaccines for kids. And it was a mess. Slower and more expensive than the various parts and pieces that together worked before. The following is by Brett Skinner of the Fraser Institute in Canada. They do excellent work in several areas, including health care. The Trouble with Canadian Healthcare - The American, A Magazine of Ideas
... the alleged superiority of single-payer health care is not consistent with the evidence. The reality is that, on average, Americans spend more of their income on healthcare than Canadians do but get faster access to more and better medical resources. Healthcare appears to cost less in Canada than in the United States partly because Canadian government health insurance does not cover many advanced medical treatments and technologies that are commonly available to Americans. If Canadians had access to the same quality and quantity of healthcare resources that Americans enjoy, Canada’s government health insurance monopoly would cost much more than it currently does. Our recent study comparing healthcare in the United States and Canada shows that the public-private U.S. system outperforms the Canadian system on almost all the key indicators of available healthcare resources. The United States even performs nearly as well as Canada in terms of providing “effective” health insurance coverage for its population. Americans spend 55 percent more than Canadians do on healthcare as a percentage of their national economy. But consider what Americans get for the money they spend: compared to Canada, the United States has 327 percent more MRI units and 183 percent more CT scanners per million population. The United States also produces 100 percent more inpatient surgical procedures per million population, and it has 14 percent more physicians and 19 percent more nurses per million population. U.S. hospitals are newer and better equipped than Canadian hospitals, and Americans have access to more new medicines than Canadians. Other important facts about single-payer health insurance in Canada that are seldom reported by the pundits or politicians include the following: • In 1993, Canadian patients waited an average of 9.3 weeks between the time they saw their family physician and the time they actually received the treatment they needed. By 2007, the average wait time had almost doubled to 18.3 weeks. The median wait time in Canada is nearly double the wait time that physicians consider clinically reasonable. • The Canadian single-payer system does not cover prescription drugs on a universal basis. Only about one-third of the Canadian population is eligible for various government-financed drug programs. The remainder of the population has private sector drug insurance coverage or pays cash for outpatient drugs, just like in the United States. • Public drug plans in Canada often refuse to cover new drugs. On average, only 44 percent of all new drugs that were approved as safe and effective by the Canadian government in 2004 were actually covered by government drug insurance programs in October 2007. Even for the small percentage of new drugs that are covered by public drug programs, patients have to wait nearly one year, on average, after government approval for public insurance to start covering these new drugs. • Consumers in Canada and the United States spend roughly the same proportion of their per-capita GDP on prescription drugs (1.5 percent in Canada compared to 1.7 percent in the United States). As a percentage of per-capita, after-tax income, the cost burden of prescription drug spending is slightly higher in Canada (2.5 percent in Canada compared to 2.3 percent in the United States). • Between the fiscal years 1997-98 and 2006-07, government spending on healthcare grew in all 10 Canadian provinces at an average annual rate of 7.3 percent, while total available provincial revenue grew at an average annual rate of 5.9 percent and provincial GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.6 percent. This level of government healthcare spending is unsustainable over the long haul. Supporters of the Canadian healthcare system like to point out that the American system fails to provide universal health insurance coverage. This is true. But it’s also true that Canada doesn’t do much better when it comes to actually delivering access to necessary medical care. Government data show that an estimated 1.7 million Canadians—in a country of around 33-34 million—were unable to access a regular family physician in 2007. Without access to a family doctor, a person can’t obtain regular primary care or referrals for elective specialty medical services. Moreover, that 1.7 million estimate does not include the many Canadians who have access to a regular family doctor but are on waiting lists for specialist treatment. Access to a waiting list is not the same thing as access to healthcare. When Canadians can’t get access to healthcare, they are no better off than uninsured Americans. For that matter, how many Americans are really uninsured? We often hear that 47 million Americans lack health insurance. Yet research in the United States has demonstrated that the actual number of “effectively” uninsured Americans is less than half that number, and that being uninsured is usually only a temporary condition. Indeed, the estimated percentage of the population that was “effectively” uninsured for non-emergency, necessary medical services in 2007 was not that different in the United States and Canada: 7.9 percent in the United States compared to at least 6 percent in Canada. Canadian patients who want to escape the delays in the public system are also barred from paying privately for healthcare services. In practical terms, Canadian patients are unable to buy quicker access or better care than the government health program provides. In this sense, Canadian patients on waiting lists are worse off than uninsured Americans, the latter of whom are at least legally allowed to use their own money or credit to buy healthcare. Ironically, while Canadian-style healthcare appears to be gaining support in the United States, it is losing support and legitimacy in Canada. In a 2005 case challenging Quebec’s government-run health insurance program, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the single-payer system a violation of a person’s right to preserve his or her own health. Similar cases are now underway in two other Canadian provinces. Ultimately, a single-payer system is probably the least effective way to achieve universal health insurance coverage. Canada has proved this in spades. The U.S. healthcare model may be flawed, but the Canadian model is far worse.
The graphic: I went from two crutches to one the first week of August and dropped the one around October 1. See broken pelvis.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prodigal Governors feed the hogs

Should we reward budget-busting irresponsibility? The states that were undisciplined and spent more than they took in want us to. Prodigal Governors by The Editors on National Review Online: The states have been on a spending jag, and now that the bills are coming due, Washington is hosting a parade of governors led by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has demanded that the federal bursars “get off of their rigid ideologies” and write him a check for a couple dozen billion dollars. Tellingly, he compares the state of California to an “accident victim on the side of the road that is bleeding to death.” But this was no accident. Who was behind the wheel, governor? California’s projected budget deficit over the next 20 months is about $28 billion, or 26 percent of the state’s budget. Since taking over from Gray Davis, who didn’t exactly set the gold standard of fiscal discipline, Schwarzenegger has steered the state into a 40-percent increase in spending, some $41 billion a year. Arithmetically inclined readers may calculate that California’s spending increase under Schwarzenegger and the usual spendthrift Democrats in the legislature is a greater sum than the projected shortfall. Which is to say, if only Californians could return to the Gray Davis version of fiscal discipline, they’d be in the black. But spending under Schwarzenegger has grown at twice the rate it did under Davis. If this is the alternative, give us that old-time rigid ideology, the one that says Republicans were put on this Earth with a mandate to cut spending and lower taxes. Instead of looking to Washington for a handout, the prodigal governors should look to their more prudent brothers, such as Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Noting on Tuesday that Texas currently enjoys a budget surplus, Governor Perry laid out his state’s formula for success: “Texas has created a business-friendly environment where 1,000 people a day move to our state to work and raise a family.” Montana’s Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, is no captive to conservative ideology, but he stewards a surplus as well, helped along by Republicans in the state senate. Even in Alaska, where 90 percent of the state’s revenue depends in some part on oil, the price of which has this year fallen by two-thirds, Governor Palin is managing admirably. Raising Wyoming’s taxes to subsidize Californians’ extravagance violates both prudence and federalism; we have 50 different states for a reason.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Calling All Pakistanis

Tom Friedman asks if the people of Pakistan strongly oppose the Mumbai mass killing. Op-Ed Columnist - Tom Friedman - NYTimes.com: ...if 10 young Indians from a splinter wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party traveled by boat to Pakistan, shot up two hotels in Karachi and the central train station, killed at least 173 people, and then, for good measure, murdered the imam and his wife at a Saudi-financed mosque while they were cradling their 2-year-old son — purely because they were Sunni Muslims — where would we be today? The entire Muslim world would be aflame and in the streets. So what can we expect from Pakistan and the wider Muslim world after Mumbai? India says its interrogation of the surviving terrorist indicates that all 10 men come from the Pakistani port of Karachi, and at least one, if not all 10, were Pakistani nationals. First of all, it seems to me that the Pakistani government, which is extremely weak to begin with, has been taking this mass murder very seriously, and, for now, no official connection between the terrorists and elements of the Pakistani security services has been uncovered. At the same time, any reading of the Pakistani English-language press reveals Pakistani voices expressing real anguish and horror over this incident. Take for instance the Inter Press Service news agency article of Nov. 29 from Karachi: “ ‘I feel a great fear that [the Mumbai violence] will adversely affect Pakistan and India relations,’ the prominent Karachi-based feminist poet and writer Attiya Dawood told I.P.S. ‘I can’t say whether Pakistan is involved or not, but whoever is involved, it is not the ordinary people of Pakistan, like myself, or my daughters. We are with our Indian brothers and sisters in their pain and sorrow.’ ” But while the Pakistani government’s sober response is important, and the sincere expressions of outrage by individual Pakistanis are critical, I am still hoping for more. I am still hoping — just once — for that mass demonstration of “ordinary people” against the Mumbai bombers, not for my sake, not for India’s sake, but for Pakistan’s sake. Why? Because it takes a village. The best defense against this kind of murderous violence is to limit the pool of recruits, and the only way to do that is for the home society to isolate, condemn and denounce publicly and repeatedly the murderers — and not amplify, ignore, glorify, justify or “explain” their activities. ... Why should Pakistanis do that? Because you can’t have a healthy society that tolerates in any way its own sons going into a modern city, anywhere, and just murdering everyone in sight — including some 40 other Muslims — in a suicide-murder operation, without even bothering to leave a note. Because the act was their note, and destroying just to destroy was their goal. If you do that with enemies abroad, you will do that with enemies at home and destroy your own society in the process

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Honorable Jim McDermott dishonors his district

Baghdad Jim McDermott is my own congressman. He is an underachiever: in 20 years there he has made some small successful initiatives for Africa, but nothing else. Oh, he must have helped Hillary with her health-care initiative in 1995 that made people rush for the Republicans and stay with them for 12 years. He has always been in favor of big government.
He was trusted to provide an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. Too much responsibility for him. The request was for a "red, white and blue patriotic theme." He donated an ornament with his photo on it and a blurb about impeaching President Bush.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Flying Man: Eric Liddell Olympic hero and martyr in China

Eric Liddell The Flying Man Mission Frontiers: In 1981, movie audiences in the USA and abroad were introduced to 1924 Olympic champion Eric Liddell through the film “Chariots of Fire,” which went on to win four Academy Awards, including the award for best picture. The focus of this film was on the events preceding and including those Olympic games in Paris.... What we are not told in that movie is that the second half of Eric Liddell’s life was every bit as inspiring as the first half – although in a different way. Now that inspiring story is to be portrayed in a major motion picture to be called “The Flying Man.” The entire article is available in PDF form.

Thai Government Dissolved: Airports to Reopen?

Time vis Yahoo! News:
Thailand's already turbulent political landscape was thrown into further turmoil Tuesday when the Constitutional Court dissolved the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and two of its coalition partners for electoral fraud. As the verdict was read that the government leadership, including the current prime minister, would step down, anti-government protesters occupying Bangkok's two main airports erupted into cheers and waived Thai flags. Red-shirted government supporters, who had gathered outside the court building to try and prevent the proceedings, dismissed the decision as a judicial coup d'etat.
At the Suvumbarmi (sp?) Bangkok airport someone fired a grenade that killed a PAD supporter and injured some others. Thailand is very dependent on tourism and the international airport is a major international hub. So closing it (and the domestic airport Don Muang) hurts a lot! PAD calls itself pro-democracy, but they oppose elections. They want the elite to pick the government.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Skype phone calling is too good to be free

I just signed up and made my first international call. It wasn't quite free; it cost 4 cents for 2 minutes. A step-by-step guide to Skype. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine
Earlier this year, I called my phone company to talk about my bill. For years, I'd been paying about $25 a month for a land line arrayed with a panoply of services that I rarely used—unlimited local calls, cheap long distance, call-waiting, and several other fancy options. I wanted to cancel all of it. I've long used my mobile phone as my primary line; I'd only kept the land line because I get poor cellular reception in my house. A year ago, though, I switched over to Skype. It beats cell phones and land lines in both price and quality. Best of all, it's portable: I can use the same phone plan to make calls from home, from the office, and even from hotels around the world—again, for very little money. Skype isn't new—it launched in 2003, and millions of people around the world use it. But because Skype is so unbelievably cheap, I've run across lots of people who still consider it some kind of Internet dark art—a service with mysterious inner workings, one that requires some kind of special equipment or technical know-how to get it up and running.
Read about it, then sign up - for free! Then it's 2 cents per minute.

Obama solicited illegal foreign campaign contributions

There has been lots of evidence that Obama accepted donations from unknown sources. His campaign turned off all the normal safety checks to accept payment from anyone, any where. And Obama does not release the names of all contributors, which McCain has done. Half the total amount of donations come from unidentified donors. Those that Obama has released include obviously fantasy persons, such as “Will, Good”. from Austin, Texas. Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.” A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25. In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375, far in excess of the limit of $4,600. See the research of Kenneth Timmerman But there's more: Transatlantic Intelligencer: Well, if one is to judge by an article published earlier this month by the Italian columnist Maria Laura Rodotà, in certain European circles it would appear to be an open secret that it has. Moreover, Rodotà’s account of her being inundated by e-mails from the Obama campaign suggests that the campaign has not only been accepting illegal foreign campaign contributions, but that it has been actively soliciting them. Here is what Maria Laura Rodotà writes in her October 2 column in the major Italian daily Corriere della Sera [link is in Italian]:
Oh God. It's my fault. And your fault. And also the fault of that friend of yours who gave her e-mail to the Obama campaign. They have been writing us for a year, the Obama people – several times a day. They've sent us videos of Barack, they've responded to criticisms, they've laid down the party line, they've sold gadgets. They've invited us to interesting events like "Camp Obama" in California....At the foot of each e-mail, they'd ask for small donations, even just five dollars - which won't even get you breakfast here in downtown Milan. We never gave a cent. The cheapskates said "you can't do that," they'd be foreign contributions; others sent donations from fake American addresses. Real or fake, live or online, you felt part of a community of like-minded persons, all normal and liberal…

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Where did the bank money go?

Where did the bank money go? Look in the usual places and you find - Bill Clinton! CNS News Four major banks, including one that collapsed, two that received federal bailout money and one that filed for bankruptcy this past September, paid former President Clinton $2.1 million for 13 speeches he delivered on their behalf between 2004-2007, according to Senate financial disclosure statements filed by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Citigroup paid Bill Clinton $700,000; Goldman Sachs paid $950,000; Lehman Brothers paid $300,000 and Merrill Lynch paid $175,000 to the former president for speeches during that time period. Sen. Clinton’s 2008 financial disclosure reports are not yet available. Question: Why can't Ecto use the font I specify?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama follows Granholm's one-state depression plan

Jennifer Granholm took Michigan from a roaring success to the only state that had its own recession then got worse in her role as governor. Does Obama want to emulate success or failure? He is choosing failure. Obama Channels Granholm on Green Stimulus - Henry Payne - Planet Gore on National Review Online:
Now we know why Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is on President-elect Barack Obama’s economic policy team. Judging by Obama’s Saturday economic address, he plans to address the nation’s ills with the same inept policies Granholm has championed for the last six years here in Michigan. Granholm and Obama have much in common: They are both young Democratic party protégés, both are charismatic personalities, and both are left-wing, Harvard-educated lawyers with little experience running anything prior to assuming office. Like Granholm, Obama appears to have little grasp of market economics, but prefers showy public-works programs and utopian visions of bridging a carbon-addicted America to a new green economy that will employ millions.
I am following the new main-stream media standard and not addressing female governors by the title Governor, but by their first name, as in Sarah Palin, not Governor Palin.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mexico wants trade and we do too

Trade has been a large part of the global prosperity we all have enjoyed the past 25 years. Where there is more trade there are more jobs. It doesn't mean that there aren't changes in product flows that results in people losing their jobs. But the sum total is a much larger benefit that swamps the loss for a few. And one of the causes of the Great Depression was the Smoot-Hawley tariffs that raised the barriers against trade. Let's continue with what works, says the president of Mexico. Bloomberg
Mexican President Felipe Calderon warned Barack Obama against trying to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying restricting commerce would only encourage illegal Mexican emigration to the U.S. ``The day access is closed, workers will jump over whatever river or wall you put there,'' Calderon told business leaders today at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru, where leaders of 21 nations are meeting. Calderon's comments reflect unease among U.S. trading partners over the likely economic policies of President-elect Obama, who has expressed reservations about Nafta and pending agreements with Colombia and South Korea. Leaders from the Asia- Pacific region also said they are concerned protectionism would exacerbate the global economic crisis. ``Obama's signals have not been very positive as far as free trade is concerned,'' Luc Gerard, president of Bogota-based private equity fund Tribeca Partners, said in an interview. ``There's definitely a concern.'' The leaders are meeting amid signs that the global economic slump is growing deeper. The worst credit crisis in seven decades spurred countries from China to the U.K. to boost spending or cut taxes in an effort to support growth and avoid a prolonged recession. ``One of the enduring lessons of the Great Depression is that global protectionism is a path to global economic ruin,'' President George W. Bush told the summit.
When Barack first mentioned killing NAFTA the Canadians were looking for a deal more beneficial to Canada and less to the US.

Now Bill Clinton lying is suddenly a problem

Obama might do miracles: Now the blind can see! The left just noticed that Bill Clinton has a problem with lying - for the past 20 years. The Nation:
What guidelines should govern Bill Clinton's future activities if Hillary becomes Secretary of State? Recent events suggest that at least two are necessary:
  • no more favors for human rights violators in exchange for big contributions to the Clinton Foundation;
  • and no more lying to the news media about such deals.
It's worth remembering the nearly-forgotten story we could call "Bill Clinton and the Kazakh uranium." As Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr. of the New York Times reported in January, 2008, Bill Clinton was part of a corrupt three-way deal in 2005 involving the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose human rights record has been criticized by many, including the Bush White House -- and Senator Hillary Clinton. Kazakhstan has uranium--one fifth of the world's reserves. The president of Kazakhstan wanted to be named head of an international election-monitoring organization--the same one that had ruled his election fraudulent.

What to do? Bill Clinton had the solution: it centered on a Canadian financier named Frank Giustra who wanted to get in on the Kazakh uranium projects. Clinton and Giustra flew to Kazakhstan in September 2005 on Giustra's private jet and met with President Nazarabayev. According to the New York Times, Bill "expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader's bid to head an international organization that monitors elections," despite official opposition from the US as well as from his own wife. Two days later, Giustra got the uranium deal he wanted. And shortly after that, the Clinton Foundation got its single largest contribution -- from a foundation controlled by Giustra -- $31 million.

The contribution was secret, of course. Then Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr. of the New York Times got onto the story. And then the Clinton people started lying. When the Times asked about Bill's trip to Kazakhstan with the Canadian financier, Clinton sent a written response declaring that the two took the trip together "to see first-hand the philanthropic work done by his foundation." The paper reported that "a spokesman for Mr. Clinton" said Bill "did nothing to help" Giustra get his deal. That story fell apart when the president of the Kazakh uranium project told the Times that the Canadian did discuss the deal directly with the Kazakh president, and that, according to the paper, "his friendship with Mr. Clinton 'of course made an impression.'"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Walla Walla Sweet Onions on Parade

My place of birth, Walla Walla, Washington - liked it so much they named it twice - has earned an excellent reputation the past decade by developing a first-class wine industry. The area has dozens of wineries and they have earned awards. They have developed the city with excellent restaurants and places to stay as well. It is in the far southeast corner of Washington - very remote for Puget Sounders - 300 miles away. See the map below. Before this recent development, other than being known for my birth there, it was known for hosting Washington's maximum-security prison; let's pass on that. And it has a unique agricultural product - sweet onions. Wikipedia: The Walla Walla Sweet Onion ... Over a century ago on the Island of Corsica, off the west coast of Italy, a French soldier named Peter Pieri found an Italian sweet onion seed and brought it to the Walla Walla Valley. Impressed by the new onion's winter hardiness, Pieri, and the Italian immigrant farmers who comprised much of Walla Walla's gardening industry, harvested the seed. The sweet onion developed over several generations through the process of carefully hand selecting onions from each year's crop, ensuring exceptional sweetness, jumbo size and round shape. The Walla Walla Sweet Onion is also designated under federal law as a protected agricultural crop. In 2007, the Walla Walla Sweet Onion became Washington's official state vegetable. Walla Walla Sweet Onions get their sweetness from low sulfur content, which is half that of an ordinary yellow onion. Walla Walla Sweets are 90 percent water. That, combined with Walla Walla’s mild climate and rich soil, gives the onion its sweetness. The Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival is held annually in July. Sweet Onions on parade: "Colorful onions, zany onions and brainy onions, winsome and perfectly roasted onions, glittery onions and graffiti onions, flowery, woven, and delftware onions... "Sweet Onions on Parade features onion sculptures on Walla Walla sidewalks from May through October 2008. Each is a unique vision of what’s possible with a little imagination, some artistic skill, and a giant fiberglass onion." I can't tell how large these monsters are. Worth a trip, don't you think? The tourism web site: Walla Walla, Washington View Larger Map

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stealing the Senate in Minnesota

Al Franken is protesting this ballot in a desperate attempt to win the Senate seat held by Senator Norm Coleman. Is this evidence that he can't win by getting more votes? It looks like it to me.

United Nations Report Says Destroyed Syrian Facility "Looked Like" Nuclear Reactor

It's the United Nations; they can't be judgemental and say "It was a nuclear reactor." It was. Israel bombed and destroyed this nuclear weapon facility in Syria last year. Syria had the best air defense that could be bought - from Russia. But Israel spoofed it, so Syria saw nothing at all until the Israeli aircraft were departing across the border. WA DC Post: The first independent investigation of the suspected nuclear site in Syria that Israel destroyed last year has bolstered U.S. claims that Damascus was building a secret nuclear reactor, according to a U.N. report that also confirmed the discovery of traces of uranium amid the ruins. Officials with the United Nations' atomic agency stopped short of declaring the wrecked facility a nuclear reactor, but they said it strongly resembled one. And they noted that Syria had gone to great lengths -- including elaborate "landscaping" with tons of freshly imported soil -- to alter the site before admitting outsiders. Despite the apparent cleanup effort, environmental sampling by U.N. inspectors turned up traces of uranium, the fissile metal used in nuclear reactors, according to the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world body's nuclear watchdog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Automakers pay workers to not work

Now they want you to pay them for not working. Washington Post's Economy Watch blog Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) decided to shift the focus off the heads of the Big Three automakers during the Senate Banking committee underway right now to whip up a little on the United Auto Workers. Corker told Chrysler chief Bob Nardelli that one of his lobbyists told him the previous day that, even if a Chrysler plant is shut down, Chrysler still has to pay wages to its union employees. How can you come before us, Corker directed to both Nardelli and UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger, and ask us for $25 billion if you're asking taxpayers to fund this sort of activity? Corker's question prompted an odd scene in which Nardelli was forced to explain to Gettelfinger, as both sat at the witness table, that what Corker meant was the following: When Chrysler plants are idled because they are not making vehicles, Chrysler is still required to pay its UAW workers 95 percent of their wages. Gettelfinger stumbled a bit and offered that those wages are actually the workers's "unemployment."

Murdoch to media: You dug yourself a huge hole

We all saw how the news media abandoned their appearance of independence and led the cheer for Obama. Now one of the leaders in the industry calls them out. CNET News: With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers. "My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers," said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation. [Very well phrased!] Murdoch, whose company's holdings also include MySpace and the Wall Street Journal, criticized what he described as a culture of "complacency and condescension" in some newsrooms. "The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly--and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Senator Coburn tells Oregon if they want wilderness to pay for it themselves

Senator Coburn is holding up a perk for Oregon because it makes taxpayers in Mississippi, Kansas and West Virginia pay for Oregon's perks. Good for him. Oregon, pay for your own wilderness, since you want it so, so badly. If I go there to use it you will make money from goods and services I buy. Oregon Environment News - Oregonlive.com:
An Oklahoma senator who makes frequent light of what he calls examples of Oregon "pork" spending once again blocked new Mount Hood wilderness legislation Friday, despite wide support in the rest of the Senate. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., pledged to filibuster a massive lands bill that included about 125,000 acres of new wilderness on Mount Hood and along the Columbia River Gorge, in Idaho's Owyhee canyons and elsewhere in California, Colorado and New Mexico. Coburn's filibuster could have forced the Senate to burn up to three days considering the bill. Senate leaders decided they didn't have those days to spare amid pressing legislation such as a rescue for the auto industry and extension of unemployment insurance benefits. However, a top aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that although the bill may have to wait until next year, it will pass. "Sen. Coburn is delaying the inevitable," said Josh Kardon, Wyden's chief of staff. "The new Congress with the new president will pass the wilderness bill. It's just a matter of time." Coburn has been the nemesis of new Mount Hood wilderness over the past year, repeatedly defying attempts by Wyden and Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., to push their wilderness legislation through. He contends that the roughly $10 million cost for mapping and surveying is wasteful federal spending. The Oklahoma senator takes pride in making light of federal spending in a "pork report" on his Web site. On Friday, two of the eight examples in Coburn's pork report came from Oregon. One of the examples quoted an Oregonian headline describing "arty upgrades," including new lamps, sidewalks, bike lanes and trees, on Northeast 102nd Avenue in Portland funded with $5.4 million in federal earmarks. Another example described a "junket to Mexico" by Umatilla School District officials to brush up on Spanish skills and absorb Latino culture.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

AlGore's scientist messes up the data again

Albert Gore Jr.'s captive scientist is making large data errors again. And - surprise - he finds the world is getting hotter. When it is NOT. Watch the watchers to see what is really happening. James Hansen (Doctor to you) is not a reliable source. The world has never seen such freezing heat - Telegraph UK
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record. This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years. So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running. The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year. A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with.
Oh, I see. Gore's scientist is drawing conclusions from data he does not verify. They admit it. Quality control? No, we can't; we are too busy spreading the alarm.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bailout Lacks Oversight Despite Billions Pledged

Are you kidding me, President George? No oversight? Bailout Lacks Oversight Despite Billions Pledged: Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed. "It's a mess," said Eric M. Thorson, the Treasury Department's inspector general, who has been working to oversee the bailout program until the newly created position of special inspector general is filled. "I don't think anyone understands right now how we're going to do proper oversight of this thing."

Quote of the week - Katie Couric can't give anyone advice about anything

Katie Couric gives advice and admits her own incapability. NY Post Page 6 Her advice for Governor Palin:
I think she should keep her head down, work really hard and learn about governing. But I'm not anyone to give advice to anyone about anything.
Via NewsBusters.org:

For years he made fun of the absurd, gold-plated public sector jobs, but now...

It's gotten worse. It's bad enough when government wastes money on silly while while the economy is growing. But Now jobs are being cut in the productive sector, while still growing in the silly sector. Daily Mail Online (UK): Over the years, I've made a good living pillorying and poking fun at this never-ending carnival of politically motivated profligacy. My columns and TV shows have featured regular Nice Work If You Can Get It sections, diligently spotlighting the ingenious and often hilarious jobs invented by councils and quangos to expand their empires and devour our taxes. This non-stop recruitment drive at our expense has gone through a number of different phases. There was the great Aids scare, when no self-respecting council could bear to be without an army of HIV prevention workers. At one stage, I worked out there were more people in Britain earning a good living from Aids than were actually dying from it. That was followed by the crazy multiculturalism obsession, which could be satisfied only by hiring thousands of equality and diversity commissars. Today's driving force is the great global warming scam, entailing the recruitment of legions of eco-warriors and enviro-crime fighters, on salaries commensurate with their self-righteousness. In between, we've had such lunacy as real nappy co-ordinators, tasked with encouraging women to use washable nappies instead of disposable - until someone worked out that all the detergent being used to wash dirty nappies was actually doing more harm to the environment than throwing them away. The NHS is just as bad. For every doctor, nurse and ancillary worker doing a valuable job, there's a supernumerary cluttering up the offices. I've written about all sorts over the years - from condom commandos to advisers hired to address the very special needs of gay alcoholics. In yesterday's Guardian, for instance, Nottinghamshire NHS was advertising for an assistant director of equality and human rights, salary up to £77,179 a year. 'Acting as our champion on equality, diversity and human rights, you will work in collaboration with our external partners to develop and co-ordinate strategic policies.' After that, I lost the will to live.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Portable Nuclear 'Hot Tubs' for Power Anywhere

Nuclear power for the masses. A small nuclear generator that will power thousands of homes for a few years with very little maintenance. FOXNews.com Yes, I DO want a nuclear reactor in my back yard. That's what Hyperion Power Generation, a small Santa Fe, N.M.-based startup, hopes lots of utility and energy companies say over the next few years as it prepares to build and market small, self-contained, portable nuclear reactors that need almost no oversight or maintenance. "Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world," Hyperion CEO John Deal told Britain's Observer newspaper in an article published Sunday. "They will cost approximately $25 million each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $2,500 per home." In fact, Hyperion claims its sealed, buried reactors, which would be 10-15 feet long and about 10 feet wide, could power 20,000 homes for 7 to 10 years. At that point they'd be dug up and hauled back to the plant for refueling. The portable, self-regulating nuclear reactor isn't a new one, and many companies and organizations have been trying to develop them.

Shame on The New Yorker for softballing William Ayers

Now that the election is over Obama's criminal colleague can make money from his notoriety. William Ayers was on a team that made bombs to kill people. And the New Yorker is helping with a softball interview. Ron Radosh at Pajamas Media Shame on The New Yorker and its editor David Remnick for playing a role in the attempt of Bill Ayers and his publisher to resurrect both Ayers’ book and his reputation. Beacon Press has announced that they are releasing an updated version of Ayers’ 2001 book Fugitive Days on November 12th, a publication date purposely held until after the election. As most everyone knows, the original edition had the misfortune of being published on 9/11/2001, a date that led to cancellation of Ayers’ book tour, and to reams of negative publicity. The last thing the American public wanted to hear about was the glamorization of a 1960’s terrorist. But in our celebrity driven culture, the attention to Ayers in the election campaign has made him a hot number, and he has decided to make his views known in a new afterword that appears at the end of the book. And now the current edition of the elite Manhattan weekly has helped Ayers in his new campaign, with a fawning “Talk of the Town” article. That the piece is written by its editor-in-chief David Remnick, a first rate writer and a very smart man, makes it even more inexcusable. Remnick lets Ayers get away with almost every point about his time in The Weather Underground. Attacks on him were all “guilt by association; ” he was made a “cartoon character.” Ayers expresses sympathy with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who also was, Ayers told Remnick, “treated grotesquely and unfairly.” Evidently listening to, watching and reading Wright’s actual sermons is not enough for one to be allowed to render judgment. Most egregious is that Remnick also lets Ayers get away with his excuse that he never meant to imply in the 2001 Times article about him that he wished they had engaged in more violence and bombings. When he told them “I wish I had done more,” Ayers claims, “it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” He never had been responsible for violence against other people, he said. He was only acting politically to end the war in Vietnam. His only sin was to use juvenile rhetoric, and he says that he only engaged in “extreme radicalism against property.” Ayers and Remnick must think people cannot read for themselves. Ayers actually said: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Asked whether he would advocate bombing again, he answered: “I don’t want to discount the possibility.” Or as he writes in his memoir: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.” By repeating Ayers’ false excuses, and without challenging or correcting him, Remnick allows his publication’s readers to conclude that Ayers is, not as his enemies have claimed, an unrepentant advocate of terrorism, but a wise 1960’s activist, who has learned bitter lessons and who is now much wiser. I assume Remnick has not read Ayers two year old interview in Revolution and his speech in Venezuela standing next to Hugo Chavez, two examples which alone would quickly disabuse anyone of Ayers’ having learned anything in the past decades. Most outrageous is letting Ayers get away with his claim that he and his comrades only bombed property and harmed no one. Remnick does not ask him about their planned bombing of Fort Dix in New Jersey. The explosion there would have occurred had the bombmakers not prematurely exploded their homemade device while putting it together on March 6, 1970, killing themselves and destroying the Greenwich Village town house in which they were making the explosives. The bomb was an antipersonnel bomb meant to be placed at a dance for new soldiers and their dates at the fort clubhouse. Had it gone off, thousands would have been murdered. The bomb was an explosive wrapped in nails, meant to maim and cause severe pain as well as death. Had it been set off, historian Jeremy Varon writes, “it is possible that Americans would now speak of the 1970’s ‘as a decade of terrorism.’” The New York Times was correct when it editorially commented that the Weather Underground were “criminals, not idealists.” The basic text that presents the truth about the group is the book by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, Destructive Generation:Second Thoughts About the Sixties. The authors spent thirty hours interviewing all the factions of the Weather Underground, and ten hours alone interviewing Bill Ayers. It is to them that Ayers first uttered the words he used at the end of his own memoir, “Free as a bird-guilty as sin. America is a great country.” Perhaps Mr. Remnick should have read the Collier-Horowitz book before setting forth to speak to Ayers. Clearly, the life and times of Ayers’ terrorist comrades is not anything he has any real familiarity with. It is apparent from reading David Remnick’s words that in fact, he has not even read Fugitive Days. Even a cursory reading of the book reveals clearly that Bill Ayers is lying through his teeth in The New Yorker interview. At the end of this blog, I am posting my own detailed review of Ayers’ book, which appeared soon after 9/11 in the pages of The Weekly Standard. I dissect the book and what Ayers actually writes about his experiences and his view of bombing American targets. What he says disproves virtually all the claims he makes about himself to David Remnick. Or does Remnick really believe, As Ayers writes, that his actions were not terrorist, since they “intimidate, while we aimed only to educate?” Ayers also tells Remnick “I wish I had been wiser.” If this is true, how come he writes in his memoir that when people tell him the United States is a great country, he answers “It makes me want to puke?” I ask readers one thing only. Please circulate and pass on my review. The new Ayers release will get much media attention. And I believe my critique will be effective in countering it. Let’s do what we can to foil Beacon Press’ campaign to sell his autobiography anew, and let them and Bill Ayers know that the American public may have elected Barack Obama President, but they have not changed their mind about the sordid role of Ayers and the Weather Underground in our country’s past.

That's just the warm-up. Go to Radosh's blog to read his full review of Ayers' book.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Michael Crichton RIP

Michael Chrichton just died of cancer. The author of Andromeda Strain, Jurrasic Park, State of Fear and Prey; those are just the ones I have read. He also created the TV series ER. He had the distinction of having the #1 movie, Jurassic Park, #1 TV series, ER, and #1 book (paperback), Disclosure, in December 1994. His works were always science oriented, but not worshipping science. Sometimes the scientists are arrogant, but the object is always truth. Often a character who is surrogate for the author shows the way through the maze. I am listening to State of Fear on CD right now. The evirnomentaists are so fractic to prove radical climate change is occurring that they set out to stage it themselves. And they don't mind if a few - or a hundred or a thousand - people die unwittingly for the cause. Michael Crichton's Legacy - Weekly Standard: Bestselling author and TV producer Michael Crichton, who died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 66, had an ambivalent view of science but an unfailingly benevolent attitude toward humanity. His writings are particularly important for having brought an intelligent, nuanced view on science to a popular culture much more inclined toward ignorance and political shibboleths in its treatment of scientific issues. Known for his hugely popular thriller novels dealing with scientific subjects and for his TV series ER, Crichton, an M.D., infused his works with a powerful sense of scientific investigation as an adventure and the world as a place of real wonders. In Crichton's world, knowledge is always a good thing, but what people do with it is often foolish and enormously destructive, perhaps most famously in Jurassic Park, where a scheme to recreate dinosaurs for entertainment goes horribly awry. That opinion on the uses of science accords with reality, of course. It is an insight, however, that sometimes made Crichton's narratives seem to suggest a need for strong political strictures on science and technology. As science writer Ronald Bailey noted in a review of Crichton's novel Next, this implication could in fact be interpreted as a Luddite vision assuming that "humanity rushes headlong into misusing powerful new technologies." That, however, was not the real thrust of Crichton's works. Love for knowledge--philosophy in its basic sense--was clearly what drove him and is most evident in his writings. And that has been all too rare an attitude in contemporary American popular culture. There was never anything cynical about Crichton's works. His acknowledgment of the ills people can bring through science and technological advances need not suggest that science or technological change is intrinsically bad. In fact, his attitude looks rather like a scientist's puzzled acknowledgment of original sin. To some extent Crichton's writings reflected an attitude of scientism in its totalizing sense, the fallacious assumption that nothing not readily explainable by science is true. In a book such as Congo, for example, there is a strong implication that human beings are not unique in this creation and thus not intrinsically of greater importance than other creatures. That line of thinking actually contradicts the warm feelings toward humanity that are necessary to justify his and the reader's concern for the characters. Fortunately, that sort of scientism is usually not too annoyingly evident in his works. Very much on the positive side, in addition, was his crusade in recent years to tell the truth about global warming: Crichton was insistent that there is no manmade global warming crisis facing us today. In speeches, articles, and his excellent potboiler novel State of Fear, he not only refuted the scientific and economic assertions of global-warming alarmists but also, and perhaps more importantly in cultural terms, pointed out their real motivation for pursuing their agenda: money. As Crichton made clear in his typically melodramatic and entertaining fashion in that book, there has been a huge amount of money to be made by scaring people about global warming, and the activists who have flocked to that cause have made vast sums of it by exploiting the public's natural and laudable inclination to take good care of the environment. State of Fear was thus an important cultural event in addition to being a highly entertaining read.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sweden fears their Obama might keep his promises

Sweden discovers: There is a cost to following The One. He might end your prosperity by cutting trade - as he promised. Free trade fears cloud Sweden's embrace of Obama - The Local:
Amid the excitement in Sweden over Barack Obama’s victory, there remains real concern among members of the political and business establishment over how the US president-elect will approach the issue of free trade. Sweden welcomes Obama (5 Nov 08) “Our hope is that he doesn’t follow through on what he’s said about free trade,” Moderate party secretary Per Schlingmann told The Local. In the course of his campaign, Obama made a number of statements which raise questions about his support for free trade. “If we continue to let our trade policy be dictated by special interests, then American workers will continue to be undermined,” he told an audience at a campaign rally in Michigan in June. “Allowing subsidized and unfairly traded products to flood our markets is not free trade.” Among other things, Obama also called for trade agreements with tougher labour and environmental protections, as well as a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) linking the US with Mexico and Canada, the benefits of which he said had been “oversold” to the American public. Obama’s positions worry free trade advocates who fear the president-elect’s less than enthusiastic support of free trade may portend a more protectionist attitude on the part of the United States. “I hope that [Obama] doesn't follow through on his statements about free trade. I can't say for sure what will happen, but I hope his policies are wiser than his past comments,” said Erik Ullenhag, party secretary for the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet). Swedish exports the equivalent of about 50 percent of its GDP annually, whereas the US exports goods and services equivalent to about 8 percent of GDP. As a result of Sweden's much greater reliance on external trade, free trade receives much wider support among most of the country’s major political parties.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Professor: I'm Leaving

A tenured prof with a comfortable job decides to leave academia. He is tired of students who expect - think they deserve - to be coddled and the whole scene of academia. Inside Higher Ed I am ready to move on – perhaps for a career where deadlines are honored, ideas are exchanged and gimmicks and fads are routinely avoided because they distract from advancing the mission of gaining and sharing knowledge. Yes, it is time to find another line of work, where I can enjoy the fruits of my labor, even if I realize that the grass is grayer, if not greener, elsewhere.

Bar-stool economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this: The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1. The sixth would pay $3. The seventh would pay $7. The eighth would pay $12. The ninth would pay $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59. So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers', he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20." Drinks for the ten now cost just $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers, how could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings). The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings)! The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings). Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. 'I only got a dollar out of the $20', declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!' 'Yeah, that's right', exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair he got ten times more than I!' 'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!' 'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!' The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money among all of them for even half of the bill! And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible. Authorship is unknown according to several rumor-checkers.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Stranger Publishers Pictures and Addresses of Homes With McCain Signs

PC enforcement here in the Seattle area. If you dare put up a sign for McCain-Palin you might be punished. Do you get the message? You don't want to take that chance, do you? NewsBusters.org:
Like Obama, the folks that run The Stranger "newspaper" in Seattle are all about tolerance... as long as you believe the same things they believe. If you don't, well, then you deserve intimidation and a good "outing." just as Obama has tried to intimidate radio talk show hosts, just like he has tried to use the office of the Attorney General to quash political free speech, The Stanger publication has decided that the best way to force citizens of Seattle to toe the far left political line is to have their homes photographed and their addresses made public for the outrageous crime of having a McCain/Palin sign on their property. Editorial Director Dan Savage, another boring Seattle gay activist, has helmed this intimidation disguised as "humor" in order to attack his political opposition. Good thing ol' Danny is all "tolerant" and stuff, isn't it?
But Dan Savage showed his bravery by taking down the link. I saw this Saturday around 1 pm. When I followed the link it led to Drudge. What? Sure enough, the Stranger had changed their link to the story - http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=729360 - to lead to Drudge. Couldn't stand in the light of day. Newsbusters has an update covering this development, including a capture of the photos and text with the addresses removed.
**Update** 4PM [ET] 11/01/08 Looks like the wimps over at the gay centered "newspaper" The Stranger don't have the courage of their convictions, amusingly enough. They've pulled their story and re-directed the link to The Drudge homepage. Apparently, the Stranger folks just can't take the scorn any more. They know what they did was indefensible and now they are pretending it never existed. One thing is sure. If I had a dollar for every time the curse word f_ _k appeared in this "newspaper" I could comfortably retire after but a month of issues. Apparently literacy is a four letter word to these high-minded inteleckshuals. If you'd like to read the text Hell Houses, the story from The Stranger, G'Willie over at GEOBENT took the time to reproduce it before the "newspaper" took it down.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let me ride but don't slow growth

Liking to bicycle ride does not necessarily mean you like higher taxes, higher spending and slower economic growth. Slower growth means less jobs. The cost is too high for the "let's all sell our cars and walk everywhere" philosophy. Less travel means each person has fewer options for jobs. Walking - a job more than 3 miles away is not an option. Cycling - depending on terrain and safe routes, jobs more than 5 to 15 miles away are not an option, except for athletic 20- and 30-somethings or during the summer. I like people to have jobs, so I am very leery of more spending for Ron Sims and his limo. And he requires higher taxes, then higher and higher. There is no limit. Sound Transit is a fraud. They promised a system and the timeline to build it. We would have been touring the Rainier Valley by rail last year on their promises. BUT They shortened the system and lengthened the deadline. Now they claim they are on-time and within budget. That's not true. I don't want their taxes continued indefinitely for more of the same. No on Sound Transit #1 I drive to work 2 to 3 days a week, carpooling about one of those. Washington transportation has spent tons of money on environmental impacts and such. I don't have the exact numbers, but the nickel increase a few years ago had something like 30% or more going for environmental impacts. But how about congestion? Congestion was not a priority. Oh, they changed the wording last year, but not the priority. They want congestion to force us out of our cars, to be standing on the street hoping a bus will come. But not them. Mayor Greg Nickels drives his limo 100 miles a day seven days a week. (Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics discovered and documented this.) They can drive, but you can't. Yes on I-985. It's not how I would do it. But I favor an attempt to overturn the priorities and put reducing congestion on top. If the legislature doesn't like Tim Eyman setting the priorities then they have to lead. They had their chances to decrease congestion AND to make it better for walkers and cyclists. But they chose to favor rail and buses to a lesser degree.

Election 2008 in King County, Washington

My recommendations. Top priorities are in bold. Except for president and governor they are in the order in the voters pamphlet. Two updates are marked. President: John McCain - he has commanded a Navy flying squadron and been 100% against wasteful and special-interest spending. Governor: Dino Rossi - he worked across the aisle and built a balanced budget. His opponent broke it and continues to. Initiative 985 - For - It's not how I would do it. But it makes congestion improvement the top priority. A foreign idea to the power establishment. Initiative 1000 - Against - It's not "death with dignity," but playing God. It has no safeguards and requires doctors to falsify death certificate. There is no protection against coercion or financial pressure. I-1029 - Against - This is the SEIU - Service Employees International Untion - forcing thousands of low-paid private workers into their government-employees union. Ignore the quality claims; it's a smoke screen. Update And the training stuff sounds good until you realize it might require YOU to be certified to take care of your own mother and/or father. Congress - 7th district - Steve Beren - Jim McDermott is a fossil who only gets attention when he betrays our country. No accomplishments in 20 years except to destroy the House Ethics committee by lying while a member of it. State Lt. Governor - no preference - Brad Owen is a Democrat whose priorities make Republicans happy. Secretary of State - Write in Stefan Sharkansky - Sam Reed embarrasses us. After the 2004 fiasco he did some to make things better, but more to make them worse. Update Treasurer - Allan Martin - He is endorsed by his predecessor from the opposite political party. Auditor - Bryan Sontag - Another Democrat who make Republicans happy. Attorney General - Rob McKenna - doing a great job. Comm. Public Lands - Doug Sutherland - No one pays attention to this office. But his opponent is endorsed by the bigger government people. Superintendent of Public Instruction - Randy Dorn - His opponent created the WASL and flew it into the ground. Insurance Commissioner - John Adams - His opponent is a long-time politician who saw an open job. 32d District Position 1 - Alex Rion - A libertarian who can explain smaller government, limited spending and taxing. He fled Michigan which caused its own one-state recession with its high taxes and miserable leadership. Position 2 - uncontested - Ruth Kagi is a long-time acquaintance. Judges King Superior Court position 1 - Suzanne Parisien King County Charter Amendment # 1 - Yes - to elect the director of elections " #2 - No - just adds more privileged classes. It even requires three terms for homosexuality. " #3 - Yes "#4 - No - Let the voters decide if candidates are qualified for the office they seek. " #5 - Yes " #6 - Yes King County Charter Amendment #7 - No - Makes it impossible to qualify an initiative. The politicians detest initiatives! " #8 - No - Pretending to be nonpartisan doesn't make you so. Sound Transit #1 - No - Another multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Sound Transit is lying when they say the system under construction is on time and within budget. They had to approve a later deadline and a higher budget, so it could "comply," i.e., appear to comply.


Update: A transparent attempt to prevent Dino Rossi from campaigning. Demo lawyers and a judge tied him up for 5 hours yesterday to make a deposition in someone else's law suit. Read about it. And remember King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas when she runs for reelection. She made this travesty happen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mr. Spock's planet might exist

Ear's to planet Vulcan being real | The Daily Telegraph: THE home planet of big-eared Star Trek legend Dr Spock could actually exist. Experts reckon up to eight worlds could revolve around the star Epsilon Eridani, which Spock's [fictional] planet Vulcan orbits in the cult TV series. Epsilon Eridani is surrounded by two bands of rocky and metal fragments like the asteroid belt that lies beyond Mars in our solar system. And Nasa experts believe if they are there, rocky planets like Earth must be there too. [More planets are giant gas balls like Jupiter and all of Earth's planets past Mars.] It boosts the chance that this new solar system could be inhabited. Nasa expert Marc Kuchner told Britain's The Sun newspaper: "I wouldn’t be surprised if seven or eight planets orbit Epsilon Eridani. One of these could be habitable."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The Muslims say Obama is one of them. New York Post: OBAMA! Inshallah!" - Obama! Allah willing! That slogan, scribbled on walls in Gaza, indicates the hopes that Barack Obama has inspired among Arabs. While Obama has tried to push his origins into the background, his "Islamic roots" have won him a place in many Arabs' hearts. One columnist, Mohamed Al-Menshawi, hails Obama as "the candidate with Muslim roots" and as the "harbinger of solidarity between Americans and the Muslim world." Another, Al-Jazeera's Aala al-Bayoumi, notes: "Had it not been for Obama, Arabs would not even bother to follow the US presidential race." What makes the difference is Obama's "Islamic and African roots."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Boeing 707 50 years ago

The Boeing 707 shrunk the world in 1958. Its first commercial service was a flight from Idylwild Field (now JFK) in New York City to London on October 26. The flight was a big deal. The 112 passengers were feted in a reception before the flight and were escorted to the plane by stewardesses under spotlights. Before jet service flying between the US and Europe was a 12-hour ordeal. There were stops in Newfoundland, Iceland and Ireland. The aircraft were noisy and vibrated. And they flew at lower levels in the weather. So passengers bundled up with blankets and ear plugs. Instead the trip was 7 hours of quiet comfort. (The first commercial jets had noisier engines that were replaced in a few years by quieter "fan jets".) I was surprised to discover that the inaugural flight had to make a stop at Gander, Newfoundland, due to high winds, so it took 8 hours 30 minutes, rather than the much acclaimed 7 hours. It probably came down to the choice of removing 6 to 10 passengers - looks very bad - versus arriving late. [I found this on an internal Boeing Company web page, but can't find it on the public internet.] The 707 was the airplane that changed the world, but it was not the first in commercial service. The British Comet beat Boeing by several years. But it had a truely fatal flaw. In 3 years four of them crashed. It was discovered that the square-cut windows made a point for metal fatigue to start a crack. The cracks led to structural failure and the fatal crashes. The Comet was reintroduced on October 4, 3 weeks ahead of the 707, but its reputation never recovered from the fatal crashes and it failed in the market. It was also much smaller, carrying only 80 passengers versus 112.