Friday, July 31, 2009

Ilya Somin: "If You're Reading This, You're Probably a Federal Criminal."

Nice of Professor Somin to post a follow-up to my earlier post on The legal system.

(Just kidding. It's not a follow-up. I doubt any of the Volokh Conspirators know that I exist, and that's OK with me.)

He and the Conspiracy commenters give this idea a much more thorough workout than I did.

Working towards happiness

Here's an interesting idea, taking form as a blog, on the way to becoming a book: The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin is a lawyer with top credentials, having been editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal and clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Her goal with this is to test ideas about what leads to happiness, or, here, I'll quote her:

I'm working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT--a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.
Post that caught my eye:
How Do You Remember to Count to Ten?

I'm quick-tempered, and one of my greatest happiness-project challenges is to bite my tongue; an excellent way to boost my happiness is to keep my resolution to "Leave things unsaid." In the end, I'm always happier when I don't make some angry or snarky comment. But easier said than done.
I'm all in favor of increasing the general level of happiness, one person at a time. (That lets out such government-type measures as culling the unhappy, or soma for the masses.)

Humanity resembles a pulsating mass of maggots

Oh yeah? I think we're a lot more like a writhing mass of maggots. If we're going to be maggots at all, we should writhe.

Michelle Malkin has been keeping up with looking into John Holdren. Read them all. The "maggots" business comes from this article, "The Challenge of Man's Future," by Harrison Brown (PDF).

[A] substantial fraction of humanity today is behaving as if it would like to create such a world. It is behaving as if it were engaged in a contest to test nature's willingness to support humanity and, if it had its way, it would not rest content until the earth were covered completely and to a considerable depth with a writhing mass of human beings, much as a dead cow is covered with a pulsating mass of maggots.
Writhing mass, dammit. Or perhaps we could pullulate.

What our masters think of us. In their rare candid moments.

Human beings are a resource, not a liability. Affluence is a goal, not a problem. People who tell you that affluence is a problem — those people are a problem.

Added, after commenting here: Holdren's plenary address to the AAAS in 2007 can be heard here, or downloaded as PowerPoint. It is dedicated to Brown: "My pre-occupation with the great problems at the intersection of science and technology with the human condition – and with the interconnectedness of these problems with each other – began when I read The Challenge of Man’s Future in high school. I later worked with Harrison Brown at Caltech."

Update: On rereading, I see that I was so irked by the pulsating that I missed the writhing, which was indeed mentioned. So that's better? Anti-humanists ought not to be in government. It's like hiring a vegetarian chef at a steakhouse.

Here earlier: Let's take a closer look at that book.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A tale of two transcripts

Efforts to marginalize Sarah Palin are becoming risible and transparent. This bit on the Conan O'Brien show, with William Shatner reading a few sentences from her farewell speech as beat poetry, to the accompaniment of bass and bongos, is schoolyard-level mockery.

It's instructive to compare the transcripts offered by a hostile site and by a friendly one. The HuffPo's AKMuckraker has a transcript with the ums and hesitations preserved, some dialect spellings, and very little punctuation. This seems to be the one that's going around.

For contrast, Townhall has one with correct spellings and punctuation. (And paragraph numbers! If you find the paragraph numbers intrusive, try this version at Free Republic.) These transcription tricks are reprehensible, but they further the narrative, which is all that counts.

For an example of how NPR routinely cleans up interviews, see NPR news, "fake but accurate," here earlier. All of the media that present these transcriptions of Palin with the dialect spellings and um's preserved should do the same for everyone they quote. Pigs will be flying on that day.

Bill Whittle on "The Destruction of Sarah Palin"

It's a must-see, so go on over there to PJTV. Or read it, if you'd rather.

It might better be titled "The Attempted Destruction of Sarah Palin." I don't think she's destroyed, just yet. The efforts to damage her keep making her look better.

Thanks to The Crack Emcee, commenting at Althouse. Crack Emcee's own blog, The Macho Response, is well worth a look, by the way.

This gets a "psyops" label because of the Alinsky references.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Captain Stargood

This is a lot of fun. Here's the trailer:

More at Captain Stargood dot com, naturally. Not suitable for kids! Thanks to Kevin MacLeod at Incompetech, who did the music.

Something about this reminds me of Captain Video. I was a big fan, back when. (Ha! Not very big, at age 5 or 6.) My favorite bits were the "exterior" shots of the spaceships. The Galaxy and Galaxy II were good-lookin' rocket ships. They were miniatures, of course, but pretty darn good ones. There are a few shots of some of those miniatures at the bottom of this interview with Harry Persanis, who worked after school for the effects studio. The Internet Archive has a couple of episodes. Because most of the DuMont network archives were destroyed, those two are a fair proportion of all that remain.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Federal Marshals will be coming in to clean up this town

Or, Yes we can stop the signal.

The wild and wooly Internet, it's a wonderful place. No restrictions, freedom everywhere you look. Pretty much. Some of that pr0n might be a problem. But at least as far as speech is concerned, or writing, really, anything goes. I don't like using cusswords on this site, because I keep hoping my daughter will read it, and once in a while she does. But I could if I wanted to. So that's OK. My choice.

But now comes Cass Sunstein, Harvard law prof and head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (I think — I have been poking around the dot gov website and can't find any names), to say that what is said on the web needs policing. Not so much for cusswords or naked pictures, but for "falsehoods." Falsity of those "falsehoods" to be determined by Prof. Sunstein, or someone much like him. First Amendment, I loved you — but they took you away!

Sunstein is a likely Supreme Court nominee.

Read this, by Kathy Shaidle at PJ Media, and then this, by Kyle Smith at the NY Post. The days of Wild West anarchy and, you know, freedom, on the Internet, are under more serious threat than they have been since the Great Opening of the Doors back in 1992. The doors will be closing again, if these Democrats have anything to say about it. And you know they will.

These are the good old days.

Update: I could not find Sunstein's name at that site at the time that I wrote this, because he had not been confirmed yet. He was confirmed on September 10.

Try it a little slower

Thanks to Theo Boehm, a post at On An Overgrown Path which asks the question: Is classical music too fast?

We know that the standard orchestral A has been creeping sharper for a while. Everybody wants that little edge, and one way to get it is by going a little higher. It's a testimonial to how well those Strads and Guarneris were made that they don't collapse under the additional string tension from being tuned to modern pitch.

So it would follow as the night the day that musicians searching for edge by tuning sharper would also want to gain some more edge by playing faster. (Lizst? Paderewski? known for that.)

I do like a musician or singer who can take his or her time with a piece. I had the pleasure of opening for Paddy Reilly a few years back. He's a man who can take his time with a song. A few examples from Youtube: Rose of Allendale. The Town I Loved So Well. Carrickfergus. Flight of Earls. The Rare Old Times. Come Back, Paddy Reilly, to Ballyjamesduff. (That last song was written well before the singer was born. I didn't think to ask him if it felt funny to sing a song with one's own name in it.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Honduras is heating up fast

I'm glad that Neo-Neocon is keeping up with this. I can just send you over to her place.

Babalu has posts worth reading as well. Don't miss this one, about Zelaya's computers.

If President Obama had made a statement supporting the rule of law in Honduras, it would not have helped Zelaya. Chavez is Zelaya's ally. So the President of the US is supporting an ally of Chavez, and making it more likely that there will be civil war in Honduras. If it comes about, it will be something that looks a little like a civil war, but is actually a war of conquest by the hemispheric Socialist/Communist coalition. Might be more than that, considering how cozy Chavez is with Ahmadinejad. The Brits used to call international relations "The Great Game." Obama appears to be surrendering a lot of pieces.

Althouse linked to a Limbaugh transcript today. Search [ctrl-F] for "the CIA" and read along till you get to the bit about chaos.

Which way to Skid Road?

Or, In praise of slumlords. Qualified praise, you understand.

A post at American Digest (No More Bums in America: Noted in Passing on the Streets) reminded me of a song, Larimer Street by Bruce "U. Utah" Phillips. Sorry, no Youtube, but you can hear it at Rhapsody. And a little about it, too. Now go read and listen, and come back when you're done. Van der Leun is in Swiftian satirical mode in this one, so mind the sharp edges.

OK then, we're back here now.

"Urban renewal" and "blight eradication" sound like good ideas. But what they amount to, usually, is the destruction of cheap places to live. That would be unsubsidized, free enterprise cheap, not officially designated "affordable." Old people on pensions need cheap places to live. Young people starting out need cheap places to live. Misers need cheap places to live. The demolition is usually done by city governments under the influence of developers. So the government tears down acres of slums, cheap houses owned by many different individuals, which then are gentrified into luxury housing or shopping malls, and might build a housing project, which will be run by the government, presumably for the benefit of the people who were displaced. But it's a government project, so there will be restrictions and regulations about who can live there, and what the residents can do there, and if it's one of those high-rise projects it will probably be taken over by criminal gangs. Everybody has the same landlord, and the landlord's not even a person, but a bureaucracy.

An analogy comes to mind. Think of a forest, call it Hundred-Acre Wood. Every creature that lives there has worked out its own individual modus vivendi. Now the local government has been persuaded that this area would be better used as luxury condos, so the Wood is declared "blighted." After all, it contains no fine homes, though the residents may like their nests and burrows well enough. So the government and the developer will build a clean, modern zoo for them, with all the amenities. (I'm not comparing slum-dwellers to animals in any real sense, any more than Orwell was comparing citizens to animals in Animal Farm. Don't get distracted.) But that distressing hunny habit that Pooh Bear has … it leads him to do all sorts of foolish and dangerous things. Bears suffering from hunny addiction certainly should not be permitted in this clean, modern facility. That stuff is sticky. It will mess up the tile-work. He muddled along all right when he was living under the name of "Sanders," but this sort of thing is right out, now. And by the way, what's with the alias? Register under your real name and social security number, Mr. Bear, or go live in the street. No, you can't live in the woods any more, there are no woods, where the woods were there are condos.

I won't beat that to death, you get the idea.

[Sidenote on Bruce "U. Utah" Phillips: He was a great storyteller and songwriter, a social activist, anarcho-pacifist, and one of the last of the "Wobblies" (the IWW has been effectively out of business for a long time). He did considerable good by writing beautiful songs, and towards the end of his life ran a homeless shelter. Like all adherents of the labor theory of value, he failed to consciously understand the importance of capital.]

One reason why Van der Leun can say

Nowhere in today's brighter and more-caring American cities will you see those terrible social wrecks on the streets. Yes, no longer will you find "Bums," "Junkies," "Drunks," "Bull-Goose Raving Lunatics," or "The Hard Core Unemployed" on our sidewalks. They are all gone, a fading memory.
is that the city of Seattle has public housing for drunks. Only for 75 of them, though. Better than nothing, but compared to a living Skid Road, not so much. Ain't it great? Back when there was a skid road, these guys could have worked sweeping out a bar, and found a $20 a week room somewhere nearby. Now, they are housed at the public expense, and
benefit from 24-hour, seven day a week supportive services including:
  • State-licensed mental health and chemical dependency treatment
  • On-site health care services
  • Daily meals and weekly outings to food banks
  • Case management and payee services
  • Medication monitoring
  • Weekly community building activities

Sort of like what happened to Pooh, in the zoo. Of course there are more than 75 homeless drunks in the city of Seattle. And what about the homeless non-drunks? They can't find those $20 a week rooms any more, and employers are forbidden by law from paying less than the minimum wage. There was a time when poverty did not mean being dependent on government. Now it seems that sleeping on the sidewalk is the only alternative to welfare for the drunks or those who would be called eccentric if they had money. Or for ones who can't make it in the 9-to-5 world, but are too proud, have too much self-respect, to take a dole. It almost looks like the government is trying to create a dependent class.

I'm veering, as Horace Larkin would say, and haven't managed to make my point. When the cheap parts of town disappear, what happens to the people who lived there? No more boarding houses, flophouses, SRO hotels. From Phillips's lyric, "Where will I go, and where will I stay? You've knocked down the skid road and hauled it away."

(Did you find the chicken in this post? The bear was easy.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Major U-verse update

A couple of weeks ago, Total Home DVR just became much closer to truly Total. It's now possible to start a recording from any set-top box, stop it, erase it, or schedule it in advance. Also: the Search feature, System Information, and probably other things I have not discovered yet, are available now from the secondary STB's. Whoopee! The main STB with the DVR in it is still the only one that can rewind live TV, but who knows how much longer that restriction will apply. Also new is a screen saver, and automatic repeat, after about 3 minutes, of a recording.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We went to the Moon

Forty years ago.

Will we ever go back?

Where is our Delos D. Harriman?

In India or China, perhaps. Human beings will return to space. There is no law of physics that says that they will be American.

We Americans could at least try.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Three libertarians — on television — at once!"

How often does that happen?

Talking about health care.

There's a little 2-out-of-3 giggle fit about 30 seconds in that seems refreshingly different from the usual punditry. Do Democrats ever laugh like that?

I haven't said much about the Obama health care initiative here, mostly because it came on so sudden. But it's another one of these bills that are too big to read, and yet must be passed in a huge hurry, because there's a crisis going on, don't you understand that, you dimbulb conservative obstructionist?

TigerHawk has something to say about bills that are too big to read. If they are too big to read, maybe, just maybe, they are too big to pass. Oh never mind, there's no maybe about it.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the video.

Where in the world is Sarah Palin?

Or, Photo caption writer didn't read the article.

It's actually a pretty decent article. But that was too funny to let go by.

Who is Van Jones?

He is the "Green Jobs Czar." We did not use to have czars in the US. I wonder what happened that we now have so many of them.

He's a self-admitted Communist.

Update: Jones elevates the level of discourse. Republicans are assholes, "some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are gonna have to start gettin' a little bit uppity." Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Another update: Jones signed a 9/11 Truther petition, and is now scrambling to deny that he knew what he was doing at the time. Most charitable interpretation to put on this: high as a kite.

Much, much more on Jones at Gateway Pundit.

Update: Jones has resigned, at midnight Saturday night or Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend. The entire controversy has existed only on Fox News and the Internet, so NY Times readers will be baffled.

Will another "green jobs czar" be appointed? "Green jobs czar" is not a position like postmaster general or secretary of state. It may have been, I suspect it was, created ad hoc to provide a way to get Van Jones into the government. Obama still has not filled many of the structural positions that need appointments, but he is creating new positions outside the structure.

Friday, July 17, 2009

San Diego squid attack!

I'd like to do that headline UK Sun style, really big, in red:

Squid Attack!

Like that.

Jumbo squid spook divers off San Diego

Jumbo Squid Menace San Diego Shores

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The squids are coming, the squids are coming!

Eine kleine Gitarre-Musik

From Theo Boehm's place, the baroque lute:

And from Violins and Starships, this:

The seemingly effortless way that Desiderio plays the ascending scale segments in the second piece in the second video pleases me enormously. That's real virtuosity: making something difficult look easy. Those quick passages sound like raindrops falling on chimes.

In the first video, that appears to be a 25-string lute, with 3 single strings and 11 double courses, and 9, possibly 10, full-width frets. The full-width frets on a lute are short lengths of the same gut (might be nylon, in this era) that the strings are made of, tied on to the neck. This means that it's possible to tune the lute's frets, as well as its strings, so that if the piece you are going to play is in one key, without a lot of accidentals, you can play it in something close to just temperament. It also means that it's possible for the frets to need tuning, just like the strings; and the thought of having to tune both frets and strings is the stuff of nightmares.

The modern guitar, with its fixed frets, must use equal temperament, like Bach's well-tempered clavier, in which some notes are always a little out of tune. The only modern type of music I can think of that uses just temperament is Cajun, which would include zydeco. Cajun accordion players customarily have their reeds reground to just temperament, which works for them as the Cajun button accordion is made to play in only a couple of keys.

Towards the end of the Baroque, the guitar supplanted the lute as the instrument of choice for young men serenading their sweethearts. I wish I could remember the source of this (paraphrased): "When the guitar came into fashion, the lute went out. The guitarists were serenading the girls while the lute players were still tuning up."

I'm sure I've botched the German in the headline. Tell me how to fix it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Palin in WaPo: "The 'Cap And Tax' Dead End"

Sarah Palin lays out familiar objections to cap-and-trade.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America's economy.

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

A little of that good Sarah snark there. And to conclude:

We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama's plan will result in the latter.

For so many reasons, we can't afford to kill responsible domestic energy production or clobber every American consumer with higher prices.

Can America produce more of its own energy through strategic investments that protect the environment, revive our economy and secure our nation?

Yes, we can. Just not with Barack Obama's energy cap-and-tax plan.

Nice. In this written piece, she is able to throttle the speed of her thinking, simplify her sentence structures, and supply her own punctuation, so that the usual media tricks of inaccurate transcription can't be applied. The WaPo comments are, for the most part, about what one would expect, mostly accusations that she did not write it herself. Here's a NY Times op-ed from last year, for comparison. No, I did not read all 3000+ comments, but 10 pages or so seems like a fair sample.

It's awfully good to see these sensible arguments presented in a major publication, from someone whose ability to command attention is so great.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let's take a closer look at that book …

… that Obama's science advisor John Holdren wrote with Paul Ehrlich. Zombie has the story: John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, says: Forced abortions and mass sterilization needed to save the planet. Good grief.

This stuff about the Planetary Regime fits nicely with Al Gore's recent call for "global governance," and what that regime would do sounds a lot like the prescriptions of Herman Daly in Steady-State Economics, cited here earlier in Obama's chief energy regulator tells us to prepare to freeze in the dark.

Anyone for a New World Order?

Thanks to Blake for the Zombietime link.

Update: David Harsanyi should have linked to Zombie.

Another update: Follow-up post at Zomblog, as Holdren and and the White House attempt to deny that what was written was what was meant, or something like that.

What happened in Honduras

Told by a Honduran. "Octavio Sánchez, a lawyer, is a former presidential adviser (2002-05) and minister of culture (2005-06) of the Republic of Honduras." In the Christian Science Monitor:

Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth. The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d'état.

That is nonsense.

In fact, what happened here is nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law.

The OAS, in suspending Honduras, shows that it is another dictators' club. The Obama administration, in supporting Zelaya, shows that it does not support the rule of law. Now Zelaya is making threats and rallying support.

And then there's this, from Neo-neocon:

End22: is this why Obama supports Zelaya?

This is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen online—a movement to repeal the 22nd amendment. You know, the one that limits a president to two terms.

Think it can’t happen here? Think again. These people set up this group on Obama’s inauguration day. I’m fairly certain it’s a very small movement now. But this can grow, depending on how much money they get to spread their message. It’s a move for Zelaya-style “democracy” in this country.

Gerard Van der Leun, commenting on that thread, notes that Barack3rdterm dot com, net and org also point to end22 dot com. I think the favicon of a squared-off blue O followed by an exclamation point is evidence that it's not a general opposition to term limits that fuels these people.

And an update: Why Honduras matters.

Thanks to Althouse commenter elHombre for the Sánchez article.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Skeptical scientists are speaking up

Starting from a thread at Althouse about the current G8 summit …

It seems that William Happer, Princeton physicist, who used to work for the government but was fired by Al Gore back in 1993, has joined with fifty-three other physicists, including a Nobel Prize winner (in physics, not peace), to write a letter to the Council of the American Physical Society asking for a reconsideration of the Council's November 2007 Statement on Climate Change.

Brian Karpuk writes about this at Newsburglar. The WSJ article he mentions is this one: The Climate Change Climate Change: The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere. 575 comments at last count, some of them substantial.

Happer's testimony before the Senate in February is here, and some other places as well.

Some of those physicists more recently wrote an open letter to Congress.

An interview with Happer:

Evil mutant targets homeowners in addition to industry

Deep within the Waxman-Markey bill are some provisions relating to energy efficiency of private dwellings, which … well, let Jimmie Bise explain it. Part 1. Part 2.