30 November 2006

We have a higher lethal dosage!

Via Brothers Judd is this little tidbit about GOP plans for the next Congress —

Leading the battle with be incoming House Minority Leader John Boehner and his conservative team. Insiders say that the goal is to pick at Democratic initiatives as pro-tax, pro-spending, or unworkable.

And that will distinguish the GOP from the Democratic Party how?

When weblogs and real life collide

Serendipitiously, as we were discussing debugging and tinkering I was in the midst of debugging code (and who says weblogging interferes with real life?). I tracked it down to a (very likely) bug in Visual Studio 2005.

Here’s code that demonstrates the bug —

# include <fstream>

int main(int, char**)
{
    std::ifstream f;
    f.open("data.txt");
    if (f) {
        f.exceptions(~0);
        for ( int i(0) ; i < 4*4096 ; ++i )
            f.get();
        f.peek();
        f.unget();
    }
    return 0;
}

This will throw an exception at the unget if the data file is more than 16,385 characters long and it has UNIX style (linefeed only) line endings. I tracked it down through an alternating pattern of tinkering and thinking (with some help from SWIPIAW). I tinkered to gather data about the nature of the problem, and then thought about how a problem I had observed could occur. I then would tinker some more to disprove or refine my theory. As is almost always the case, the two approaches are complentary, not oppositional.

Council Opening

The Watcher’s Council has an opening for a new member.

The irresistible lure of hyperbole

The BBC reports

A judge in Mexico has issued a warrant for the arrest of former President Luis Echeverria on genocide charges.

Mr Echeverria was interior minister in 1968 at the time of the killings in Tlatelolco Square in Mexico City.

Human rights activists say up to 300 people were killed in the shootings, although officials said the death toll was just 30.

Mr Echeverria denies allegations that he posted snipers on scores of buildings and gave orders to shoot anti-government protesters, and disputes that the deaths on 2 October 1968 constitute genocide. [emphasis added]

Not to discuss Echeverria’s guilt, innocence, or the appropriateness of the shootings, but how could it be that Echeverria has to deny the incidient was genocide? Is the term now the equivalent of fascist, meaning only “politically incorrect killings”?

29 November 2006

So why not just write the IRS a bigger check if it's such a good investment?

Orrin Judd writes

Save and invest (Kansas City Star, 11/27/06)

Over the past decade, total assets in 401(k) plans have grown from $864 billion to $2.4 trillion, according to the Investment Company Institute.

Foreigners lend us money which we then invest and get a rate of return twice that at which we repay them. There is no economic theory under which that’s a bad decision.

The fallacy here is that foreigners don’t loan “us” money. Since this is in the context of federal budget deficits, the actual case is that foreigners loan the federal government money, which then spends it on current consumption. The investments in 401(k) plans is a completely unrelated phenomenon. But I suppose to the Leftist like OJ, there’s no difference between the government’s money and personal money.

Self Inflection

I was cruising Deep Black’s weblog and I ran in to this semi-old post about how cell phone use can increase car safety. My fellow ex-Juddian Brit had the following acerbic comment

The logical end of this hypothesis is that the safest way of driving is to talk into the cellphone balanced under your chin while you watch one news channel on your in-car TV, listen to another on the radio, solve a Rubik’s Cube with one hand and knit a scarf with the other, all the while dodging metal spikes that come shooting randomly out of your steering wheel.

A good point, but while reading I realized it suffers from a common logical problem, that of the missing tipping point or excessive linearity.

The presumption behind the comment is that there is a linear (or at least monotonic) relationship between a cause (distraction) and a result (greater care leading to safer driving). In real life, however, almost nothing is is like that over its entire range and many phenomenon have an inflection point, where the marginal difference changes sign.

Let us take weblogging as an example. I think that some is better than none — it helps inform you, exercises your mind, helps you keep track of the world. So, starting from none at all, each additional increment of time spent on weblogging is better for you. At the other end of the scale, if you spend all of your waking hours online, less would be better for you. So at some point between none and all, the benefit of more weblogging changed to a cost. That’s the inflection point. .

I have little doubt that even if Deep Black is right about cell phone use (and I have my suspicions that he may be rattling the cage a bit), Brit’s point doesn’t hold for this reason because there’s an inflection point before one gets to that stage.

This is, of course, the same insight that Laffer had, the underlying argument being identical (i.e., moving away from a 0% tax rate or a 100% tax rate both yield positive marginal revenue). One should note that what is actually shown is not that there is an inflection point, but that there are an odd number of them. The actual curve can be extremely curvy, there’s not a priori reason it has to be the smooth psuedo-sine curve that is shown for illustrative purposes. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be single valued as there could be hysterisys effects.

This has even wider application. One only needs two extrema for which moving to the middle makes one better off. Two that are pet issues of mine are immigration and the national debt. The essence is that the fact that small amounts are good doesn’t mean arbitrarily large amounts are good. The real argument is the location of the inflection points, not their existence. This is the proper counter argument to the bogus claim “deficits don’t matter”. They do, but only when they’re sufficienty big (and one could fell burn out entire networks arguing that point).

Has anyone checked the Crown Jewels lately?

Today’s investment opportunity —

Compliments,

My name is Engr Henrry, an executive staff of F.T.E.H. Jewelries Distributor Company in Scotland UK ,With my position in the company.

I, attached off one metal box containing designed jewelries valued $20.5 million British pounds; i package the content together to our customer goods
The customer is my friend and my contact.

As i am in position the hand carry now, that is my reason of contacting you I, would like you to assist me to market the jewelries.

If you wish to be involved in this sales you need to call me urgently with your receiving information because it will be cargo to you through a diplomatic shipment to your door with the help of a diplomat who is working with United Nation.

For your support you will have 20% share of the total amount after sales.

The greatest antagonist in this alienated approach is that we must handle this business with a legal agreement that will bind us legally; it must be well signed by both of us that will bind us memorandumous in every area of our business.

NOTE : I would like you to give me your private phone number so that we will have a tremendous improvement to conclude this business fast.

Kindly contact me on [address omitted]

I wonder if there’s a copyright on this, it looks like “Borat” could get most of his material just by reading through junk e-mail.

28 November 2006

That was then, this is now

Haha. Orrin Judd writes that the GOP lost the midterm elections because the President didn’t run on the economy after claiming repeatedly that focusing on Iraq would win by re-enforcing the GOP’s security credentials. It’s not the switch so much as the memory hole aspect of it.

Sorry, I just have a bunch of “pick on poor OJ” posts saved up and I’m trying to work through them.

Petarded actions

Backspin comments on an article about the human shields in Gaza. The basic thesis of the article is that

Israel could take the initiative and use the human-shield saga to its benefit. Playing up the concrete actions taken by Israel to minimize civilian casualties […] might go some way toward changing some of the perceptions.

It’s hard to believe anyone could write this as a serious article. The evidence of Israel’s efforts in that regard are common yet not reported. The perception that Israeli public relations would be trying to change is that the Palestinians are morally justitified in any action. How descriptions of Israeli actions could change that is left to the imagination. In practice, such an initiative would simply re-enforce the perception that such actions were simply owed to the Palestinians a priori, making Israel look worse, not better.

The correct antidote would be to highlight Palestinian actions, to wear away at the disconnected from reality support they have abused for so long. For instance, in this case emphasizing how such actions by the Palestinians are defined as war crimes by the Geneva Conventions. The greatest advantage of the Israeli position is its essential correctness. This means that the opposition is forced to contradict itself and it is those contradictions that must be used as a counter. In this case, the emphasis on the Geneva Conventions as the definition of moral behavior is precisely that, since those Conventions forbid exactly this human shield action that is being lauded. It’s a simple, direct point that can be brought back to the center in any debate.

I suspect that isn’t done because of the general self-loathing that so permeates the Western chatterati with its concomittmant conceit that if only people understood how much we try to accomodate the barbarism of others, they would stop hating. That never works, it only convinces people that the barbarians are right.

Some much for his belief in Design

Orrin Judd is on one of his anti-Science kicks again, this time with a post about developing a hurricane resistant nail. He titles it “TECHNOLOGY IS TO SCIENCE AS ASTRONOMY IS TO ASTROLOGY” with the tag comment of “Tinkering matters. Thinking doesn’t.”. Naturally he ignores all the references in the story about how the tinkering depended on scientific results (such as metallurgy and geometric modeling). More basically, the overall action in the story was standard science, in which the tinkering occurred only because someone both observed the problem and thought about how to solve it. The lauded tinkering was organized and driven by the despised thought, which somewhat destroys the distinction Judd wants to make.

What’s most amusing is that his view of this process is remarkably like evolution, improvement by thoughtless tinkering.

27 November 2006

Back to the Long War from the Long Weekend

I have survived both Thanksgiving dinners the family had this week (one with in-laws, one with in-friends) and an outing with the children. We went to a science museum and the boys really liked the agricultural display, especially a real combine with a simulated display of harvesting. I found this odd since the boys had, less than a month previous, been in a real combine in a real field while it was really harvesting grain and not displayed as much enthusiasm.

Now I just need to work off those extra calories by typing with extra vigor.

22 November 2006

Nothing like self interest to motivate concern for others

I have been meaning to comment on two posts at Hot Air, here and here. The specific content isn’t all that interesting, but the trend signifiers are. In both, something inappropriate happens on camera in a live broadcast situation. The clips of course end up on YouTube, and linked to from Hot Air. What’s so modern about them is in one, right after the faux paus someone else in the video remarks “You realize you just made your YouTube debut”. In the other, someone says something similar and the transgressor looks right in the camera and says “YouTube me. Just YouTube me! Do it now!”. And we all know, at least one person did exactly that.

I wonder if we might not see a bit more slack start to develop in the culture as everyone becomes vulnerable to this phenomenon. It used to be that the top tier could depend on friends in Old Media to tamp down stories or gaffes, but today it is impossible to stop wide spread knowledge of such things because it will be on the Internet and around the world before the publicist’s phone starts ringing. Maybe (I can dream, can’t I?) we will, as a society, move away from the petty gotcha tactics of (for instance) Bushisms because everyone will have to live with the knowledge that they could be next.

Somebody upstairs must like them

I things like this recent case about a Saudi couple keeping a sex slave in Colorado and the response from the Saudi Entity and it makes me wonder — who is it, exactly, that likes the Saudis so much that give them such power in American politics that the State Department would fly the Colorado Attorney General over there to explain this case? I don’t see much affection for the Saudis from the MAL and I don’t know of any conservatives / Republicans who do either. Is it just the Saudi habit of buying off former government officials? If you want evidence of the existence of an out of touch political elite in America, I can’t think of a better issue than this.

21 November 2006

Still looking for the blue helmet reason thing

Initially I though the UNIFIL troops were set out to provide human shields and / or propaganda points as victims for Hizb’allah. Given Nasrallah’s claim that he would bring down the Lebanese government, there is an assassination of a government minister. Then I read this interesting comment

Rise up and fight? It looks like the plan for another emboldened Syrian invasion to “rescue” their brothers. Israel is hamstrung by their recent efforts - will they come to your aid with western powers stuck between you and them? Hmmmm.

Perhaps this is the real purpose of UNIFIL, to prevent intervention by Israel or Anglosphere powers in the upcoming civil war. It does serve as rather a convenient barrier, doesn’t it? Permeable to Hizb’allah but solid to its enemies.

A person from a smarter gender might have asked what 'pyrophoric' means

Via Little Green Footballs is an article about a very sophisticated gang of junk e-mailers. I need to write a longer post about them, as this touches on another concept I have been working with, but first this quote —

It’s a very enterprising operation and it’s interesting that they’re only doing pump-and-dump1 and penis enlargement spam. That’s probably because those are the most lucrative.

The stock scam I understand, but the other? That’s really the second most lucrative? I really didn’t want to know that, but I suspect there are others who will find it somewhat more amusing.


1 “Pump and dump” is a stock scam that consists of

  • Buy a bunch of some penny stock.
  • Create buzz about about how the stock is going to spike in price (make up future products or announcements if necessary).
  • Sell on the spike from greater fools buying in anticipation of the fake spike.
Street Theater

Tim Blair (who I still read, despite his fall from grace) writes about some sort of “protest” in Victoria, Australia about the G-20 talks. What struck me was this photo (which I have copied and tweaked a bit from the original) —

Note the paparrazi in the background, indicated by the purple arrow. Look at who close they are to the action. I do a bit of photography myself and I can tell you that the lenses those guys are sticking in to the middle of the action are somewhat fragile and very expensive. That means either the photographers are morons or the event is essentially theater1. Consider where the guy who took this picture must have been, and the likelyhood that he was the lone photographer there, given the swarm visible in the picture. It makes the whole thing look like a movie set, not a political statement. Why, then, do so many take them seriously as if they were making some actual point?


1 These are not necessarily mutually exclusive options.

20 November 2006

It's a niche job if you can get it

Finally, news I can use from Brothers Judd.

The article is a revisiting of the tech boom at the start of the millenium. The claim is that small, niche oriented companies did as well in that boom as in other booms, that the difference was the emphasis on being the biggest and best. Given that my company is bringing out a very targeted product, it looks like we had a better innate business sense than many of the VC firms back then. If you knew me well, you’d realize what a harsh statement that is.

Everybody gets tired

I have been wondering how Orrin Judd would spin the ascension of the Realists in the Bush Administration and now I have my answer — by spinning Gates’ record and ignoring the Iraq Survey Group1. I am sure there will be something about how the ISG will serve as cover to support Bush’s clever plan, but I think President Bush is finally worn out. We are not getting the worst of both worlds, a lost midterm election and surrender by the White House. Is Bush going to fight over anything with the Democratic Congress when they can hold his amnest for illegal immigrants hostage? What wouldn’t Bush sacrifice to get that through?

While I don’t hestitate to castigate Bush, I must note that more was lost by the leadership by the GOP in Congress. Bush had his big mistakes, but he had some big successes as well. What positive can one say about the GOP Congress he had? What it did well was almost entirely supporting Bush’s initiative. Just think of the spectacle of the Roberts and Alito hearings when you’re tempted to say “Harriet Miers”. I think we know who came off looking worse overall in that series.


1 Just listing the names in the group should make the gorge of any non-Realist rise: Lee Hamilton, Vernon Jordan, Ed Meese, Sandra Day O’Connor, Leon Panetta, former Clinton Defense Secretary Bill Perry, former Sens. Chuck Robb and Alan Simpson. And, of course, the nominated Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.

19 November 2006

Top this one, Brit!

I have a Flickr account, as you may have noticed from some of the pictures I have posted. I received this e-mail via Flickr the other day —

hi

ive just seen your post about the swimming cap. I’m looking to join a triathlon team myself but have always been nervous as i would have to wear a swimming cap. I have never worn one before and know nothing about them, so i was wondering if you would be able to help me with one.

How exactly would i put one of these things on? (in as much detail as you can). Would you be kind enough to take some pictures for me of how to put these on, as i have only ever seen images of people on google with them on already, which doesnt really explain much to me

I really hope you could explain about these things for me (the more you can tell me about them the better) and i really hope you will be kind enough to send me some pictures of how to put one on

Can this possibly be legimate? I have never worn a swim cap myself, but are there rumours of the horrible fates that await those who wear them? How could someone be ready for a triathlon without having, at some point, swum with people wearing swim caps? But, if it’s a scam, what’s the point? Getting me to take pictures of people putting on swim caps? That’s a kink so obscure it could only be British.

I replied straight up and received another reply back in less than a hour. The content was some what related, although sufficiently generic to have been automated. The sender has a Flickr account, but not pictures, which is also just a tad odd, although an account can be useful for marking Favorites and what not, even if one doesn’t post any pictures. I remain at a loss, however, for any plausible explanation.

18 November 2006

Imagine!

Well, if Ms. Harris is going to comment on the UCLA student tasering, how can I not? Sadly, I have nothing original to say. The best comment was someone expressing concern about precedents with “What if they used a taser on every 20 year old who was being obnoxious?”. One of the voices in my head immediately replied “What a wonderful world that would be!”. Sadly, this is unlikely to set such an excellent precedent.

17 November 2006

To their own natures true

Heh [removed — copyright issues] I was reading over at the Captain’s Quarters about the Hastings drama in the Democratic Party House delegation. It occurs to me that it’s the Harrier Miers scenario over again, with party appropriate stereotypes.

The case against Miers was that she was unqualified. The problem with Hastings is that he is corrupt. How archetypical of the Stupid Party and the Evil Party. The leaders are caught in the same web of personal relationship with unpopular candidates who embody the fundamentals of their parties.

No real significance, I just found it mordantly humorous.

Digging the line

I added the “Digg” option on posts because Hot Air told me to and, as you know, I am a complete conformist. Before you click, though, keep in mind that you have to sign up before the button does anything useful.

I had heard of Digg before but it had seemed like a silly idea. Having read other comments about it and looked around a bit, my original view that places like Digg rapidly degenerate into an electronic version of a bad high school movie was confirmed. Such “social” websites end up dominated by people who have nothing to do other than patrol the website dispensing their clicks for good or ill on everything. It also has the high school flavor of extreme conformity so that the dominant cliques don’t have to explicitly coordinate while those with actual opinions are disorganized and easily silenced. I find it surprising that any adults treat it as an information source but hey, anything to hang out near the cool kids!

Maybe they hired some Airbus managers

Finally some good news concerning NASA

But now, with the shuttle orbiters heading for retirement by 2010, NASA wants commercial suppliers to take on the orbital shipping job, to lower costs and spur industrywide innovation.

Of course, it didn’t occur to NASA or its backers to think about this before the Shuttle fleet became obsolete. Early airplane technology didn’t advance rapidly because of government research, but because the government hired people to do things with airplanes. That our national space effort is starting to realize that Socialism and / or industrial planning doesn’t work, perhaps there is some hope for actual advancement.

Never race a Democratic Party interest group to the bottom

There’s been a lot of pontificating about Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi’s tangled political situation. I think it’s clear that she hasn’t managed to wedge herself into those corners post-election, but the situation was inevitable once the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives. Now that Representative Hoyer has won, the problem shifts to Representative Alcee Hastings who has, one might say, a bit of baggage.

One is left wondering why Pelosi is apparently so eager to burn up the Democratic Party’s political capital on such party hacks. For Representative Murtha, at least, it was clearly about positioning with respect to the situation in Iraq. With Hastings, I can only guess that she owes a big debt to the CBC for helping in securing her leadership position. But why is the CBC pushing so hard on Hastings? You can talk about an insular, damn the voters attitude on the part of the federal GOP leadership, but they can’t touch the CBC.

Burning capital in the Long War

I have been thinking about the Long War lately, impelled to do so by the recent midterm elections.

My first thought is, isn’t it a bit odd that many of the same pundits who calmly discussed various setbacks in the invasion of Iraq as the expected vagaries of war are so despondent over the midterm results? Couldn’t those be viewed in the same way, as the sort of setback one must expect in an enterprise as contingent as the Long War?

In the bigger picture, I believe that we (the Anglosphere) are winning, although I am not of the pre-triumphalist school that declares we have already won.

The key question to ask is, what is the most important resource that has enabled the Caliphascists to succeed as well as they have? It seems obvious to me that it is the uncritical tolerance, Old Media complicity , and ignorance of the Anglosphere towards Caliphascism.

Now, however, things like this being broadcast on Old Media seems to be indicative that those are wasting assets. The Caliphascists have been burning their public relations capital over the last couple of decades. That would be a valid strategy if they had been close to winning (which, as far as I can tell, was what they believed). They weren’t, however, and now the memetic playing field advantage is shifting away from them. That can’t be fixed without giving up the goals of the Caliphascist movement.

I don’t see the midterm election results having much effect on that dynamic. In fact, it could accelerate it if the Democratic Party gives false encouragement to the Caliphascists who do not seem able to resist overplaying their hand.

The ones who are likely to pay the heaviest price for this are the non-Caliphascist Mulsims. Having failed to distinguish themselves from the Caliphascists, they stand to suffer terribly when the American Street fully adopts the “more rubble, less trouble” point of view, as the Democratic Party displayed in Serbia during the Yugoslavian Wars of Succession1.

UPDATE: This item from Hot Air about Saturday Night Live is a good indicator of my point here. If such comments can make it in to SNL skits, then the masquerade is nearly done.


1 Note also that the foreign policy theme of the Democratic Party in the recent elections was that no number of Iraqi dead was worth the life of an American soldier. That’s not an attitude that will takes risks of American lives over a massive stand off response.

After the moment of silence

Gaahh, this “work” thing is keeping me from riding the opinion wave from the mid-terms! Via Instapundit is this article about the tonal shift of the incoming Democratic Party majority from center-left to moonbat fringe. The money quote, for me, is this —

The recipe for success consisted of recruiting a slate of moderate to conservative Democrats to run for open and vulnerable seats. […] Another element of their strategy was to hide their liberal leaders. [emphasis added]

Yes, finally the Democratic Party did what so many had suggested for years, they shut for 4½ minutes and were swept in to power. The problem, of course, is that having won it’s time for them to speak up again.

16 November 2006

It's all about risk management

Deep Black asks one of the importants questions of our time, which is — why do game console manufacturers not charge a premium for the first units? Given the wait people endure to get one and the grey market in flipping the consoles by first purchasers, presumably the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) could charge more and is therefore leaving money on the table. Why would the OEM do that?

Game consoles are not something that are easy to churn out. They, like new airplane models, take a large amount of design effort. Unlike personal computers, a design must remain fixed for a much longer amount of time, so the costs of getting it wrong are much larger. Predicting when the design of the console itself and the manufacturing will be ready is challenging. OEMs face the additional constraint that the purchase of their product is strongly seasonal, so a slip in schedule can be devastating.

Therefore the entire production cycle is planned long before the consoles appear on the market. Part of that planning is pricing. This makes pricing much less flexible for several reasons.

  • The price point is announced up to a year before the consoles hit the market. This sets expectations will are difficult to change later, so it’s best to pick a reasonable price and stick with it than to try to ride the initial release spike.
  • Distributers and retailers want guarantees about supply and pricing long before the release as well.
  • There is the public relations issue of appearing to be gouging.
  • It’s hard to predict the size of the spike and it’s not good to have to be noticeably dropping the unit price shortly after a release. Stable prices matter in the customer community.

In effect, it is similar to other producers purchasing options to avoid risk. By fixing the price and supply, in cooperation with retailers, the manufacturer buys a “put”, decreasing risk while sacrificing spot market / grey market profits.

15 November 2006

EUrabia

One of my newer comments, Steven Wood, has gone after me for supporting the EUrabia theory. Let me quote Bat Yeor, the originator of the term, directly

After the Yom Kippur War and the Arab oil blackmail in 1973, the then-European Community (EC) created a structure of Cooperation and Dialogue with the Arab League. The Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) began as a French initiative composed of representatives from the EC and Arab League countries. From the outset the EAD was considered as a vast transaction: The EC agreed to support the Arab anti-Israeli policy in exchange for wide commercial agreements. The EAD had a supplementary function: the shifting of Europe into the Arab-Islamic sphere of influence, thus breaking the traditional trans-Atlantic solidarity. The EAD operated at the highest political level, with foreign ministers on both sides, and the presidents of the EC — later the European Union (EU) — with the secretary general of the Arab League. The central body of the Dialogue, the General Commission, was responsible for planning its objectives in the political, cultural, social, economic, and technological domains; it met in private, without summary records, a common practice for European meetings.

Over the years, Euro-Arab collaboration developed at all levels: political, economic, religious and in the transfer of technologies, education, universities, radio, television, press, publishers, and writers unions. This structure became the channel for Arab immigration into Europe, of anti-Americanism, and of Judeophobia, which — linked with a general hatred of the West and its denigration — constituted a pseudo-culture imported from Arab countries. The interpenetration of European and Arab policies determined Europe’s relentless anti-Israel policy and its anti-Americanism. This politico-economic edifice, with minute details, is rooted in a multiform European symbiosis with the Arab world

My view is that Yeor is being a bit alarmist, but that the underlying basis is quite believable. Explicitly, that is

  • The EUlite, particularly the French elite, desired to create a competitor to the USA and USSR.
  • That to do that, they decided to turn to the Arab world because it had enormous wealth and an ingrained anti-Americanism.
  • That this effort has now gotten out of control of those elites and threatens, in the long term, the existence of Europe as we have known it since the Treaty of Westphalia.

This last point is one where (as far as I can tell) I differ from Yeor. My view is that the EUlite thought of the Arabs as they think of their own citizens, sources of labor and wealth that can be directed by those elites for the greater glory of the elite’s political projects. The planned result was the recreation of the European colonial empires in a more modern form. That things are not turning out that way is, in my view, typical of the Socialist world view of the EUlite. What other projects of the last century of theirs have worked out well?

That sophisticated, well educated people should fall in to such a trap is not surprising. It is remarkably similar to the Iranian Revolution, where the rise of the theocracy was aided by such people. The chatterati simply could not grasp that someone like the Ayatollah Khomenie could be as clever and devious as they, or could actually mean exactly what he said. When the common front against the Shah came apart in victory (as common fronts do), it was the Europeanized who ended up on the short end of the stick. I suspect the same in the case of EUrabia.

However, I think that it is equally likely that Europe will revert to form and conduct genocidal purges in order to protect itself from a foreign culture. History doesn’t repeat, but it pays to bet on it rhyming.

%{color:red;}%UPDATE%: Here is a European perspective on EUrabia. That doesn’t mean it’s correct, but it does indicate that others with more direct experience have similar views.

14 November 2006

Maybe they just need it explained to them by a pundit

The quality of The Atlantic Monthly continues to decline. I happened upon the October 2006 issue which had as the featured article one by Robert D. Kaplan. The abstract is

The furor over Kim Jong Il’s missile tests and nuclear brinksmanship obscures the real threat: the prospect of North Korea’s catastrophic collapse. How the regime ends could determine the balance of power in Asia for decades. The likely winner? China.

He can’t possibly be serious. Ignoring the issue of which nation would have that mess on its border and where the refugees would go, is Kaplan so ignorant of the facts on the ground that he doesn’t realize that the North Korean regime remains in power only with the active support of China? That leads immediately the question “if the collapse of North Korea benefits China, why haven’t they pulled the plug?”. It would seem that the ChiComs don’t agree with Kaplan and if there’s one thing the ChiComs know, it’s their own self interest (which, admittedly, is hardly the same as China’s, but I am willing to presume that Kaplan means the ChiComs when he writes “China”).

Maybe there is something to this "EUrabia" concept

I wondered in this clipping how the UNIFIL troops felt being staked out as propaganda objects whose purpose was to be injured and killed by the IDF to score public relations points for Hizb’allah. At the same time, Daimnation! notes that Old Europe doesn’t want to put troops where they can be shot at by the Caliphascists. The juxtaposition of these seems to indicate something other than a simple aversion to casualties on the part of the EUlite.

That's what you get with a real ruling class

Natalie Solent writes

“Kind of a weird combination.” Mark Steyn has said some nice things about this blog in the past, but that won’t stop me saying that the most piercing quote in his interview with John Hawkins was from John Hawkins:

Europeans, from what I’ve seen, have a generally more dim view of the Middle East than Americans - like they think it’s futile to try to build democracy in Iraq. You know, everywhere that you talk about — well, democracy in the Muslim world just won’t work. Yet, they’re bringing in all the Muslims you could possibly imagine into their own home countries, and they’re building them up to such a percentage that.…if you get up to where 20%, 30%, 40% of your population is Muslim and you don’t think Islam is compatible with democracy, that’s kind of a weird combination. How’s that happening?

Steyn goes on a bit about how many places in Europe were dictatorships in recent memory, but I think the answer is much simpler — Europe is not all that much of a democracy in the first place and the ruling class, the EUlite, has been trying for decades to make it less of one (for instance, the European Union). The EUlite sees the Muslim immigrants as needed1 and it doesn’t much matter what their subjects think. I suspect that the EUlite plan to live like sultans and the fate of the commoners matters to them just as much as it did to Louis XIV.


1 Although one is left wondering why exactly the EUlite thinks it needs to have a bunch of unemployed, welfare consuming, non-assimilating immigrants. I hear the “demography! lack of workers!” but how does having more unemployed and frequently unemployable immigrants solve that problem?

13 November 2006

It's hard to say goodbye

I went out to do some flying on Sunday but it was a bad day for the club. We lost 5 rockets to premature deployment, one of them my Green Rage 4 (a PML 4” AMRAAM). I sent it up an H218R but I must have not assembled the motor correctly as it deployed almost instantly after burnout. It was a tough rocket but putting out a chute at 300MPH was a bit much for it. Two seconds after this picture was taken, most of the bottom half the rocket was debris floating down. I will rebuild, someday (I have a whole lot of kits partially constructed that I need to finish first).

The taint of responsibility

Via Instapundit is yet another article on why the MAL likes its host nation to lose. That is a subject that I have thought about quite a bit lately, as it seems near incomprehensible that so many would have such a preference for defeat and surrender. The article touches on my view but doesn’t hit the mark.

The primary thesis of the article is that defeat is morally cleansing. This seems a reasonble view, as we know that the MAL is obsessively concerned with its own perception of its moral purity. Yet I don’t think that’s the primary issue. Certainly the MAL doesn’t appreciate the moral benefits of losing when it’s something they view as important (such as, say, Presidential elections).

I, as always, draw two points from this.

First, success in foreign relations and military efforts are not important to the MAL. But why is that? That is my second conclusion, that one thread uniting all of this is the avoidance of responsibility. A failed foreign policy with a hobbled USA serves to discredit the idea of the USA taking responsibility for anything in the rest of the world. Rather than looking like moral shirkers (anathema to the MAL), they can instead be “realistic” about the American isolationism because it couldn’t succeed anyway. In fact, if the USA is sufficiently evil, helping it avoid any responsible action is morally upright because it would just make a muddle of things. Many think that the MAL starts with “the USA is evil” and deduces isolationism. I have come to believe that it’s the isolationism first and from there the “blame America first” flows because it morally justifies isolationism based on the espoused principles of the MAL. Perhaps we could call them the “Kitty Genovese” party.

10 November 2006

I'm sure they'll come up with something

I have seen this story about NYC making gender a matter of personal choice on several different weblogs now. It seems ike it’s a setup for some serious internal clashes within the MAL. What happens to affirmative action and gender quotas if gender is a personal choice? Why not switch genders to get women / minority status? It seems especially attractive if only NYC recognizes the change. I can’t wait for the rhetorical twists that will be required.

Platform vs. Reality

I read this over at Tranterrestial Musings the other day

I noticed that Rep. James Oberstar (he who would have us overregulate the fledgling space passenger business, perhaps fatally) will be taking over the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. I wondered if he was planning to take another run at that, now that he’s in the majority, instead of minority.

Now that I have Internet access again, I see that Jeff Foust already indicates that he just might have such plans.

I figured it was typical fallout from the GOP loss in the midterm elections, but I found it interesting when juxtaposed with this story from the Wall Street Journal today —

In January last year, Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, spoke to a newspaper here and cleared up the mystery. He said that he had purchased land in Culberson and Hudspeth counties, 25 miles north of this tiny West Texas town east of El Paso. Mr. Bezos’s purpose: to build a launch pad for his fledgling commercial space venture, Blue Origin LLC, which will offer suborbital trips to space. Mr. Bezos is “clearly a man ahead of his time,” says Mr. Stasny.

When one reads of how so many technological titans support the Democratic Party and the MAL, one can help but experience at least a little bit of anticipatory shadenfruede.

In another sense, it’s another example of how the Democratic Party’s platform is inherently unstable, in that it sounds nice to those who don’t think deeply about it but is rather different once has been run over by it.

Junk, man

It looks like waves of junk that are currently sweeping the blogosphere are bypassing my little weblog here. I have been watching the number of banned addresses (upper right sidebar on the main page) dropping over the last week or two. That’s not the case at my other weblogs, which have seen an strong increase in the last couple of weeks. The last junk trackback to this weblog was back on 2 Oct. I can’t decide if it’s because my defenses are too good or the weblog is just too obscure. I did see a major dropoff in junk trackbacks after a technology upgrade, so I suspect a combination — tech good enough to stop the extant junkes and a weblog too obscure to attrack new ones.

But even across all of my weblogs, I am not seeing the level of innovation in junk that I saw over, say, the previous year. The current junk is being stopped essentially by filters I put in 6-12 months ago. That leads me to suspect that the fire has gone out of the junking and only the script kiddies are left.

They do have a lot of machines, though. One change I have seen in the last year is that far more of the junk comes from an address that is used only once. This weblog only bans addresses that generate two or more junk objects. As you can see from the stats, the majority of junk source addresses have generated only a single junk object. That makes banning much less effective, but I think that this change has been driven by the greater ease of banning (through such things as AutoBan). It’s an ameloriative change as it makes non-planned floods much rarer. Any script kiddy can set up one machine to flood junk at a single weblog, but it takes actual planning and resources to do it from enough different IP addresses to be a serious problem.

09 November 2006

Finally, the local scene is on the cutting edge of political fashion

Michelle Malkin notes the beginnings of the impeachment wave. That’s certainly popular locally, as recent election results indicate

C of C Twp Impeach Bush CITY OF CHAMPAIGN TOWNSHIP
          Vote for up to  1
              (WITH 38 OF 38 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
           YES  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     7,877   46.29
           NO.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     9,140   53.71
                   Total .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    17,017
              Over Votes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         4
             Under Votes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       976

Cunn Twp Advisory To Impeach Bush/Cheney CUNNINGHAM
          TOWNSHIP
          Vote for up to  1
              (WITH 23 OF 23 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
           YES  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     5,171   58.86
           NO.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     3,614   41.14
                   Total .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     8,785
              Over Votes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         2
             Under Votes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       640

I live outside the city limits, so I did not vote on this issue (“Cunningham Township” is really Urbana, so this vote basically covers the two cities). These were the only two resolutions on the subject in the county. While one of the resolutions didn’t pass, the total voting was 13,048 to 12754 in favor. Yes, should be an interesting two years.

60/40 Nation (D/R, that is)

I should have realized it, but Instapundit points out something that ties in directly with this depressory from yesterday, which is that many of the nations problems, domestic and foreign, will be solved in the next few months as far as Old Media is concerned. The economy will blossom, foreigners will like the USA better, Congress will do more, better. The impeachment proceedings and investigations won’t be petty politics but a necessary clean up of the government. The general miasma that depressed the nation will lift.It will be a subtle but pervasive effect, lasting until at least Nov 2008.

So much for Moore's Law

I am upgrading my primary workstation and for the first time, my upgrade will have a slower CPU clock than the box it is replacing. That just seems kind of odd. When I purchased my current system just about 3 years ago, 3000Mhz was a top of the line processor speed. Today, 3000Mhz is a top of the line processor speed. Based on my experience with other, secondary hosts it seems that memory architecture and other support makes more of a difference than CPU speed. My primary system doesn’t seem much faster than an low end system I bought about a year ago. The new system will have a 2666Mhz CPU, but it’s a “Dual Core” with a bigger cache and a much faster memory system. We’ll see what the performance looks like when it arrives. Without a doubt, however, the graphics performance will be astoundlying better.

I want to also note that hyper-threading and dual cores may not do much for normal people, but as a software developer it’s been a big help. No more desperately trying to get control when the code goes in to an infinite loop, as the other thread context / core lets me easily go to the debugger and deal with the problem. The current IDE from the Dark Empire also takes advantage of multiple processors to run parallel compiles which is nice for big system builds.

Left behind by the technology wave

What with Instapundit going all poddy and the rise of video based weblogs like Hot Air, I can see that I will soon be left behind with the Ted Kaczynski crowd, bemoaning the cruel technology that has left me an outcast in my own country. I have tried, really I have, but it’s both low and high bandwidth at the same time in the wrong ways. High bandwidth because I have to focus on it continuously in a way I don’t with text and low bandwidth because the amount of useful information per second is much lower (for me) than well written text. It’s almost infuriating, but more and more content seems to be going that way. I feel a little sorry about not liking video, since (having tried my hand at video editing) I realize that it’s not less work than writing, but podcasting — that’s just lazy, dudes.

It also makes me wonder about the claim of how much more “multi-tasking” the new generation is. No media multi-tasks like lots of windows of text on a large video display. Perhaps it’s not really multi-tasking but filtering by people who have grown up in a noisy environment. Just like hunter gathers would be uneasy in a silent night, the next generation feels uneasy in an environment without lots of background stimulus.

Hopefully, if there’s anything of significance on this inaccessible to me new media, some kind soul will translate it back to a form I can use.

UPDATE:

Rand Simberg stays behind with me.

08 November 2006

Martha and Mary's progeny revisited

To counter the attempts to portray the election results as anything other than a serious setback for the GOP and the nation as a whole, let me set out the following prediction —

The Democratic Party will engage in various hysterics and meaningless legislation while silently letting serious efforts (such as stabilizing Iraq) die on the vine through neglect. Our enemies, emboldened by the election results and this fecklessness, will begin setting new plots in motion to attack the USA and its assets. These plots will take a while to mature, the bill coming due just after the GOP recovers control of the government, thereby teaching the two lessons

  • terror attacks happen on the GOP’s watch
  • the Democratic Party need never concern itself with proper governance because the tides of history and luck will protect it from any ill consequences

Pleasant dreams!

P.S. Melanie Phillips has come to the same conclusion.

UPDATE: Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, director-general of MI5, is on the same page as well.

Noise, noise, noise

Earlier this morning I mentioned the Washington DC bubble, which got to me thinking — how, exactly, can a Congress critter penetrate the bubble? Old Media is clearly living in its own little world1 so it’s hardly a good source of information. It also seems unlikely that the K Street lobbiests are of much use as a guide either.

We would like to think that the blogosphere provides a clear window on to the American Street, but is that really true? People who write about politics on the internet are hardly normal and one can plausible wonder just how well they know what the American Street is thinking, much less how accurately they would relay it if they did know.

I don’t have any good answers, but it is something to keep in mind when you’re tempted to say “why don’t they just do the right thing?”. It’s also an argument for voting based on character, because character will still come through despite the noise.


1 Junkyard Blog has a classic example of this, which is that the Haggard story has been a top story for the last several days, as a major mid-term election has taken place.

The new bi-partisan atmosphere

Via Hot Air is this tidbit from The Corner

FoxNews reporting from the White House: White House spokesman Tony Snow reacted to the change in House control by allowing they’re disappointed, but that it presents some intriguing opportunities, such as passing comprehensive immigration reform which failed in the previous Republican House.

Haha, I can see how such meetings might go —

President Bush: […] I think we made some good progress on this immigration legislation. It’s good to be able to work together in a bi-partisan spirit.

Speaker Pelosi: Yes. We definitely have a lot of common ground. Oh, and speaking of grounds, I thought you might want to know that we’ll be adding “Feasting on the entrails of Guantanamo prisoners at the Elders of Zion annual Christian Baby Roast” to the articles of impeachment.

Bush: Well, good luck with that!

07 November 2006

Learning to live with the GOP bomb

A little late, but before all of the election returns on in, I have to note something.

Back in 2000, I made the argument that even if (then candidate) Bush lost, if he even came close it would be a bad sign for Al Gore, as the political winds were all in his favor. This cycle, I would say that the winds weren’t as well aligned, but overall should have been favoring the GOP. A strong economy, domestic peace since 9/11/01, no serious scandals in the White House, an opposition that is large parts craven and demented and has no real platform — the list goes on and on. Even given the historical trends of mid term elections for the dominant party, losing the House or the Senate is a bad performance for the GOP. I have to completely agree with Instapundit that if that happens, it will be because the GOP played many unforced errors. When the GOP Speaker of the House defends a Representative from the opposition from the FBI so he can hide cash and evidence in his office, there’s something seriously wrong in the GOP leadership. I think that President Bush has to take some blame for being too low key as well.

In the end, I wonder if it matters that much. I tend to agree with the prediction that winning a narrow majority in the House but not the Senate will do terrible things to the Democratic Party over the next two years. The temptation to strike out against a lame duck President will likely prove too much for the few adults that remain.

UPDATE: The big question, with the trends becoming clear, is whether the GOP will re-assess or decide that they weren’t big government enough. While the evidence is clear to us on that, recent history shows that even for the GOP, the Washington DC bubble has a very strong interface through which few facts can travel.

The USENET society

This post at Instapundit was amusing.

Back in the day, I used to hang out on USENET, where the argument against sarcasm was “there is no belief so bizarre that you can’t find someone who advocates it seriously somewhere in USENET”. I attributed that to the fact that the USENET community was mostly geeks. But that seems to have leaked out in to the real world, where Instapundit’s sarcastic claim

EUROPE HAS ITS WORST BLACKOUT IN THREE DECADES: I blame Enron and the American culture of greed.

had to be explained as sarcasm. Is it a humor impairment or is it plausible to think that there would be serious advocates of this point of view? Frankly, I suspect it’s the latter.

Something to take your mind off the election

In the interest of avoiding any election coverage, here is a story about the ongoing legal battle between the hobby rocketry interests and the BATFE over regulation of AP, the fuel used to make high power rocket motors.

The BATFE insists that AP is an explosive for no apparent reason and the hobby says it’s not, because it isn’t. It reminds me much of a certain weblogger who, once he has made some statement, holds to it despite any counter argument or evidence. In this case, however, the BATFE is required by law to supply some fact based arguments in support of its regulatory decisions and up to now the lawsuits have basically been a demand to do so. BATFE’s initial response was “we don’t care what the law says, we’re the government, we don’t have to explain”. Fortunately the judge disagreed and gave the BATFE until 31 Oct 2006 to come up said explanation. BATFE waited until the very last day and then supplied a 1200 page document dump in paper form because, to quote,

Due to its length, the administrative record is being submitted to the Clerk’s Office in paper form only, and will be available for public viewing in the Clerk’s Office between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

Oh yes, when my documents get too long, converting them to paper only is definitely the first thing I want to do.

The entire episode is bizarre, as the hobby interests would have been happy to reach some reasonable compromise. The current law is stupid. For instance, I can have as many slugs of AP as I want, as long as each slug is 62.5 grams or less. I can have 5,000 pounds of it in my garage in that form, completely unregulated. But if I put two of those slugs together, it’s a dangerous explosive device that needs special regulation and storage. It’s even better in Illinois because the state doesn’t distinguish between high and low explosives, so that 130 gram slug of AP is legally the same as a stick of dynamite. But not the 5,000 pound pile. That’s the scheme the BATFE is defending via its adherence to the “AP is an explosive” concept.

06 November 2006

Steele laughing

I saw a clip of Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele unloading on the Washington Post over at Hot Air. I found it so funny that I sent him $25. It’s an excellent sign of returning balance when real contenders for high political office can lay out a case with such precision and explicitness. I suppose this just proves Deep Black’s view.

Rhetoric vs. Reality in Arabia

I am losing links right and left. Someone else had the interesting observation about the recent threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East that

  • Israel having nuclear weapons wasn’t scary enough
  • The invasion of Iraq wasn’t scary enough
  • But Iran having nuclear weapons is

That says very interesting things about what nations in that area really think about threats to themselves. It also makes them less delusional than a certain mainstream political party here in the USA, doesn’t it?

Con Descension

Via Peter Burnet is this quote from Janet Daley at the Telegraph

So when exactly did snobbery become the province of the Left?

I would say when Socialism became the fashionable thing and the noveau riche adopted it as a status symbol indicating they were part of the “smart” set. It can’t be surprising that the party that depends the most on the backing of the super rich (i.e., the Democratic Party) is the party of sneering condescension? Senator Kerry, for instance, is a drone of a drone, his money derived from marrying someone who got their money by marrying well. Even the Lamont / Lieberman race is an example of pushing out a non-elite for someone rich enough to drop $12M of his own cash in to the race.

This seems a natural result when a political party’s policies are no longer popular. The only way to maintain them is to depend increasingly on people who are not only insulated from the pernicious results of the policies but who can be targeted personally rather than through broad appeals. It gradually changes to be more and more of a con game which only reenforces the disdain for the marks.I have seen comments (no link) to the effect that the Townhouse gang doesn’t really believe in its politics, but is basically a boiler room operation selling illusions to the desperate to not be disillusioned. A good gig if you can avoid laughing at the wrong time, but not one that engenders much respect for the masses.

Obviously a sensitive spot

I have generally thought that claims of the Democratic Party depending on voter fraud were hyperbole. Sure, there was voter fraud, most of it favoring the Democratic Party, but I viewed as stil mostly in the noise. However, the almost hysterical reaction to voter ID laws has been leading me to reconsider. Even for the MAL, the objections in terms of “voter suppression” is weak even for the MAL. I can’t see it gaining traction among anyone other than rapid partisans, yet there it is as a major theme. It seems a wonderful wedge issue for the GOP so the Democratic Party and its supporters must think preventing fraud must be even worse for them than being on the wrong side of such an issue. There’s not a lot of possibilities for what that could be.

03 November 2006

What passes for community outreach in my world

I have to take tomorrow off to help a class at the local University. It’s an Aeronautical Engineering class and as part of the course work, they have built some mid power rockets. Tomorrow they’re heading out to SWIPIAW’s family farm to launch and I need to help out. Each rocket will carry an instrument payload whose data they will analyze as part of their future homework. Let me know if you want some pictures (weather permitting — the wind is looking a bit iffy). I am so far behind I don’t know if I will be able to get any of my birds in the air (I am thinking of the AMRAAM 4 on an I218-R, but we’ll see).

UPDATE:

Not a good launch day — cold, very windy, and overcast. We didn’t lose any of the rockets in the clouds, though. I wasn’t willing to launch in that wind, but the professor was willing to go even in marginal conditions because last year they waited for better weather and ended up not launching at all. The students had five flights, two of which had seperations at deployment, but the electronics survived impact so at least they got some data.

Lack of introspection watch

While there’s certainly a lot of delicious irony in the New York Times recent story about documents from Ba’athist Iraq containing nuclear secrets, what the story really says to me is (naturally) twofold —

  • The scattergun approach once again demonstrates its long term counter-productivity, in that the NY Times has to destroy one attack (“Bush Lied!”) in which their faction was heavily invested to launch this attack
  • The previous point demonstrates, to me, how so much of what appears to be conspiracy and spinning is really a complete lack of introspection, an inability to actually think about what intellectual position one is in and how statements can affect that.

In any correctly working system, there is (at least) one negative feedback loop, to keep the machinery from careening out of control. In intelligent systems, this is introspection, the ability to view one’s self from “outside” and consider the results of actions on one’s self. This is what the MAL seems to lack. They have piles of “facts” but no system, no gestalt, to link them together, so they can’t tell when they are planting their own petard.

Like art, most people can’t make it but they sure can tell when you don’t have one. It’s why literature that takes place in well developed fictons, even if you never see most of the backstory, work better. The effects of a coherent back story show, or more accurately that lack of one shows. We see the authors of the current MAL worldview, lacking this, have written themselves in to quite a corners.

He who provides the gold, makes the rules

For once, I have to agree 100% with Orrin Judd

Scientists Say White House Muzzled Them (JOHN HEILPRIN, Nov. 2, 2006, Associated Press)

Two federal agencies are investigating whether the Bush administration tried to block government scientists from speaking freely about global warming and censor their research, a senator said Wednesday.
Government scientists are employees of the executive branch and they’re paid to do what they’re told.

This is the libertarian argument against government funded science in a nutshell. Judd is completely correct that if someone is getting a government paycheck, they should do what the government tells them. If they don’t like it, they can quit anytime. The real protest here is not against government control, but about the specific political party exerting that control. I applaud the Bush Administration for dispelling the illusion that generally cloaks the issue.

Too well learned

As I watch the action about Senator Kerry’s latest gaffe series is how it might tie in to something I dislike strongly about the Bush Administration, which is its apparent lack of will to contest ideas and rhetorically support its programs.

Consider — one refrain that comes up over and over is “The Democratic Party could win elections if they would just shut up for a month”. Could it be that President Bush has realized this a little too well and has decided that however much shipping product in to the marketplace of ideas seems like a good idea at the time, it’s not the best long term strategy for a political leader? This would also tie in to the “rope a dope” theory and how people guard most carefully against the kind of thing they would do to others. It may well not be a good general strategy, but we don’t live in a general time, but a specific time with specific political facts in play and it’s not that hard to make the case that such a low key strategy works in such a situation.