Saturday, June 30, 2007

Stross' Glasshouse

I'm only about seven pages into the book, and my jaw is still heading for the floor.

Good book. I thought to save it for the beach, but naw. Whatever his views on biopolitics, the dood abides.

Og say stuff good!!

Came across this article in Foreign Policy. At first, I thought they should have titled it "The Technocrats' Lament." Seemed like Mr. Easterly, by labeling globalization "Developmentalism" and sticking it on the shelf next to communism, socialism, fascism [islamism] know, the failed ideologies of the retreading troglodytes. No sir, I thought, he's not getting an invite to a brai at my kraal.

But Mr. Easterly's critique is more subtle. An I hope it doesn't get lost as this article makes it's rounds. He's critiquing the structures which accrete around development. The international, technocratic, managerial need to "do good."

His conclusion:

The opposite of ideology is freedom, the ability of societies to be unchained from foreign control. The only “answer” to poverty reduction is freedom from being told the answer. Free societies and individuals are not guaranteed to succeed. They will make bad choices. But at least they bear the cost of those mistakes, and learn from them. That stands in stark contrast to accountability-free Developmentalism. This process of learning from mistakes is what produced the repositories of common sense that make up mainstream economics. The opposite of Development ideology is not anything goes, but the pragmatic use of time-tested economic ideas—the benefits of specialization, comparative advantage, gains from trade, market-clearing prices, trade-offs, budget constraints—by individuals, firms, governments, and societies as they find their own success.

See, I can get behind the idea that government and institutions with multiyeardevelopmet plans(tm) do more to choke development and serve only to enhance their own coffers. The terminal organization in the regard, with "welfare" as caring, is the UNHCR. The best way to help someone is to get the hell out of their way and let them fail or succeed.

Time tested. Ask the Kurds.

I see the world dividing (by no means evenly) between those who would go forward, and those who would retread. The "eachs" of the particular movements are largely irrelevant over the long term.

That the Forwards still don't adequately explain their message (build) in contrast to the Retreads (loot) represent a tragic failure for our times. I sincerely hope that is reversed one day.

Ad astra or the mud. Period.

Og really like stuff.

I must, I must....

....I must resist the lust. New Apple Handmokkels Xeni covers down on the iPhone.

For a variety of reasons, it would be beyond stupid for me to purchase one now, but that doesn't decrease the lust.

Nope. Not at all.

Stupid Bulbs

Oh yeah, I mentioned earlier that I had bought a couple of off brand Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs a few weeks ago. A couple of days ago, my wife said "you know those new bulbs? Don't buy them anymore." The damn thing blew out after only a couple of weeks.

I guess if I had spent more money, it would have worked better.

But that sounds too much like government.

I'm sticking with Incandescent.


WIKI:"The word comes from French, and can be translated as "lover of", reflecting the amateur's motivation to work as a result of a love or passion for a particular activity."

With the events in London and Glasgow, it looks like jihad is committing to coordinated "terror campaigns," similar to the ones perfected in Irak. Franchising the business, as it were. The attempted bombings were flawed, but give those boys time. The have a large base of knowledge to draw on, and an absolute comittment to their assigned tasks.

They will achieve their "effects." And when they do, it will make the IRA campaigns look governed by Marquess of Queensberry Rule, by comparison.

There are two responses to the jihad, respond there or respond here. Here means, ultimately, a defensive posture, internal controls on movement, Real ID and such. A crouching tiger, hiding from the dragon, as it were.

I wonder which one we'll choose.

Friday, June 29, 2007

I need to crib this:

"I guess that's hallmark of our times, with primitivism and high technology, low comedy and unbearable tragedy, absurdity and high purpose, existing side by side."

Wretchard better describes my toons than I can.


I Want, also.

But I can wait. Somewhere in our house is a sixty gb iPhoto serving as a back up hardrive. There's an iPod mini and several variants of nano's which may or may not be breeding. And of course the video.

But I've learned. The wife and I both want the iPhone, but we wait.


Note to Craig Venter:

Look less "evil."

But another good snippet from BB on Venter's attempt at A-Life (tm).

" This is a major advance in the field of synthetic genomics. We now know we can create a synthetic organism. It's not a question of 'if', or 'how', but 'when', and in this regard, think weeks and months, not years."

A long time ago, when Phred was a Phrap, he studied the lifes. He sees they were a machine. A beautiful machine, a magnificent machine. But still a machine. Ultimately understandable.

/Manolo impersonation.

Reprimitivize Me!!

Occasionally, my inner "green" does battle with my "earth as spare parts gremlin."

Sometimes the "green" wins. I do love this latest Hobbit house (from BB). And for 6,000 dracma, it would make a nice getaway cabin.

Leave it to my wife to point out the obvious (where's the bathroom?).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I know you've been waiting for my review. 

In a word, awesome.

But then I tend towards flicks where the few beat the many. 

Monday, June 25, 2007


When I wrote my Googlezon and Amazonia post, I did it tongue in chutney.
But Wired's upped an interesting slide show on CHICOM, INC:

It's like when Socialism (the tendency to organize) becomes Capitalism's (the tendency to innovate) bitch.

The Post Internet Generation

Look, I'm almost critical mass on my informal survey. I've asked my college educated youth cohorts a couple of random questions, in the last few weeks:

Heard of flickr? No.
Funny or Die? Nadda.
Twitter? No thanks.
Web 2.0? Saw Spiderman III


Myspace account? Yup. Got one.
John Stewart? Godlike.

I think there's a trend here. A generation that doesn't read may lack the curiosity to explore. Let's call this a Fairness Doctrine. I haven't figured out where all this fits into my dimestore philostainment, but I gotta say this:

What happens if you lay pipe, and no one notices?

Abs astra in thirty days!!!

I've never been into washboard abs. I bought my wife a washboard for our first anniversary, and I told her having two in the house would be, well, redundant, redundant.

But this post is really about space. Instapundit linked to this piece about Lowell Wood. Smart dude. Says we can terraform mars in a century (about the time we're ready to shed the earth like a pair of dirty gymsocks?). Only problem? His brief not available anywhere I can find.

Which is a shame. Here's to looking forward to the brief surfacing (in five, four, three.....).

Making the sausage

Scott Dilbert Adams offers a couple of peeks into the sexy, cocaine and babes charged world of syndicated cartooning:

And so it went, in ant-sized steps forward. Every pat on the back came with a kick in the nuts. I worked for ten years without a day off. During one particularly busy year, I held a full-time job at the phone company, wrote and drew Dilbert, and wrote a book called “The Dilbert Principle.” I didn’t sleep much that year. It was my first hard cover book. Yay!

Sweet stuff. Much appreciated.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


(If I remember my Cox&Forkum hagiography correctly, then Forkum is somewhere in Tennessee, while Cox covers down on the ATL)

What happens when you do not blog

  • You read interesting posts by others.
  • You get 95% of two projects done.
  • You engage in a battle royale with your "puppy" over who is going to be the Alpha male.
  • You talk to your wife, about 'stuff.'
  • You pack for that long delayed sabbatical.
  • Your readership plunges from double digits to single digits. 
Blogging. It's twice as addictive as TV with three times the work. But I do love it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A couple of "Makes"

I'm going to have some copious free time, in a little bit. Here's two project's I'd like to work:


The 72 Dracma Computer

I've downloaded the damnsmalllinux, to play around with, but I think I'm just going to go ahead and add umbuntu to my machine (three hosts in one...Aliens would be proud)

Of small note

Berkeley Breathed went over fifty, this past week. Wow.

When your childhood heroes age.....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


In this dude on the left, is this dude on the right.

Ask Paul.

You just have to find yourself, bro.

Organic DVDs

I remember when DVD's first came out. They were overpriced releases of the "Classics" (or movies that didn't sell well on VHS. As the price of DVD players came down, and the options went up, the selection of DVDs proliferated. Within about two years, VHS tapes were relegated to to the corner of your average big box store.

Today, I went shopping for a "big salad" dinner. Some oversized shrimps (grilled) avocados, apples, onions...the works. Nice summer deal. Well, wound up looking at these avocado's going for about three dollars per. Looked up, and saw I was in the "organic" section. Finally found a pair of (nonorganic?) avocados. Two for two fitty.

On the way home, I listened to NPR. Evidently, the Grand Senate of the Republic is debating an energy bill. The bill, evidently, will do stuff. As I understood the debate, Evil Big Oil is going to be replaced, by fiat, the Evil Big Corn or Evil Big Coal. The choice is going to be between putting food in the tank or looking like the Lil' Rascal Alfalfa behind an exhaust pipe.

I dunno.

I'm a fool, so it's easy to separate me from my money. But please don't separate me from my food.

In the mail today.

I may forget, but Amazon doesn't.

Got my copy of Americanism: The World's Fourth Great Western Religion. Look forward to reading it, time permitting.

Monday, June 18, 2007

That was fast

Awhile back I wrote about how I was ineligible for Lasik or PRK surgery. Instead of being doomed to walk the earth blind, I hopefully concluded that the Science Guys would have to come up with "something else."

I was betting on disposable eyeballs, but I guess implantable lenses are good enough.

Sweet [via]

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Let's call him Billy.

Not quite Budd. 

Just Billy.

Billy went through some rough times. He had a going concern there, for awhile. But like all good things, it came to an end. So, Billy had some rough times.

For awhile, he didn't bathe. He indulged in ignorance. He fought with his neighbors. Sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Overtime, Billy turned inside, started navel gazing.

But always remembering that going concern he had, once. 

Eventually, Billy found some notebooks he had kept. Lather bound things, these notebooks. With strange script, forgotten ideas. And so Billy started studying them, reading them, remembering them.

And then Billy started using these ideas he had found. Improving on the best, discarding the rest. Billy learned. The more he used the ideas, the more his new concern grew. Billy's found things, Billy's found ideas, rediscovered things, gave him a leg up on his neighbors. 

And so, overtime, Billy came came to believe that these ideas were, in fact, hisself. Unique, not repeatable. Like a beach comber discovering driftwood, or the Chinese with their fireworks. Billy found it first.

Billy was it.

And so a change worked itself on Billy.  Worked itself on Billy's personality. He became, in time, Billy over all.

But here's the thing. These ideas, this driftwood, found first by Billy? They are a virus. And Billy merely the vector. And so as Billy rose, and his concern grew, the virus spread.

As intended.

The fortunes of Billy's concern rose and fell in time. And rose again. And fell. 

Yet the virus spread.

As intended.

See, these ideas Billy found, they weren't dependent on Billy. They were repeatable. Any concern which used them could succeed. Any concern which abused them, failed.

Water only boils in one direction.

So here's Billy. An older man, somewhat wiser. Sometimes foolish. Time has identified Billy with these ideas. With this virus. To associate yourself with that virus is to associate yourself with Billy and his concerns. And their mistakes.

But also their accomplishments.

And so Billy learns, separating himself from the virus, examining it, in order to embrace it anew.

As others have. Those others, who have raced ahead to "bank Tyrol's fire," before it dims again.

As intended.

Neutrality Maintained

So I broke down and bought some of those CFL bulbs. Geez, talk about expensive. I went with the generic brand, with a two pack costing five dracma. The branded crap ran from six to eight dracma a bulb. I'll tell you, if the guvmint ever mandates these things, the candle industry is going to be a new growth industry. I would cost us one hundred dollars just to light our first floor. And brightness? I looked directly into one and almost went blind.

That said, I managed to offset any "good" I might have done, by also picking up 4.5 pounds of New York Times.

I'm willing to try new things, but I'm going to keep my lethal habits (like smoking, drinking, the occassional hit on a crack pipe and calling Marine Corps Generals incompetent).

Tell me this is a joke?

Right? I mean, I know the generation following up is in thrall to the 24-second news cycle, but come on!!!

Obama Girl?

"There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?"

I will, Mr McGuire.

WIKI: The word "plastic" derives from the Greek plastikos meaning to mold or to shape.

The internet is done, my friend. Over. We're just moving the furniture in, and rearranging the decor. Over the next few years, the internet can only do two things. As Homer Simpson might say:

1. Be more faster.
2. Be more everywhere (Homer can't say ubiquitous).

But plastic, now there's a future. I keep this popsci article on artificial life in my back pocket.


(Quick trivia: throw potassium and calcium channels in there and you've got a heart cell).

Two guys I track, as sort of early adopters in the field are Steen Rassmusen and Craig Venter. Rasmussen works with NASA, and Venter runs a, um, a Private Protocell Venture? Both are pursuing the same goals.

Assembling the primordial soup into something that eats, sleeps and.......reproduces. Life stuff.
Rasmussen coordinates the international effort at Venter wants to patent the little bug.

Thanks to google books, you can read parts of Vital Dust, a sort of forerunner to this whole protocell effort. God's Debris, indeed.

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon".

-- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to
Queen Victoria, 1873

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Speaking of Skinsuits (below)

Even NASA is getting in on the game, via MIT.

The futility of space exploration?

Cory Doctorow, at BB, links to a good piece by Charles Stross called "The High Frontier: Redux."

Bottom line, space is way too expensive, too vast and too harsh to even bother with colonizing.


Charles leads by restricting the argument. He writes:

And I don't want to spend much time talking about the unspoken ideological underpinnings of the urge to space colonization, other than to point out that they're there, that the case for space colonization isn't usually presented as an economic enterprise so much as a quasi-religious one. "We can't afford to keep all our eggs in one basket" isn't so much a justification as an appeal to sentimentality, for in the hypothetical case of a planet-trashing catastrophe, we (who currently inhabit the surface of the Earth) are dead anyway. The future extinction of the human species cannot affect you if you are already dead: strictly speaking, it should be of no personal concern.

Book that. More later.

Next, he turns to the vastness of space. If you scale it, then the meat of the solar system is about two inches wide and the next nearest planet would be about ten miles away. Fair enough, but so what? Look, a couple of thousand years ago, the earth was unknowably large. You sort of just sailed east or west and were either consumed by dragons or just fell off the edge of the planet. A few hundred years ago, we'd settled down to the fact that the earth was largely round, revolved around the sun and by using this knowledge, you could sail from, say Greenwich to Point B in several months, mileage may vary. Turn of this Century, you could go from England to Capetown in a few weeks (Yeah, I'm reading Churchill's "Boer War"). I did that trip from Europe to the southern tip of Africa in ten hours (without consuming limes or my fellow passengers). With fuel as the rate limiting step, you could get around the earth in twenty to thirty hours. Go sub orbital, and the trip gets even shorter.

Innovation shrunk the planet.

Now when Columbus sailed from Spain in search of Native American Indians to exploit, he didn't stop and say, "you know, this shit would be alot easier if I had, like, you know, a plane."

No, he just went.

Now, take for example his bit on spacesuits:

A Russian Orlan-M space suit (which, some would say, is better than anything NASA has come up with over the years — take heed of the pre-breathe time requirements!) weighs 112 kilograms, which pretty much puts a floor on our infrastructure requirements.

One of the most fascinating things about Virgin Galactic is the work they're doing on cheap spacesuits (cheap here, being relative):

Newman is developing the materials and the design for a space suit that astronauts could use to explore Mars or the moon. But if you’ve got the cash, you could sport one, too. As a space tourist, your suit would be fabricated right on-site. First, robotic arms pirouette around you, creating a 3-D laser scan of your body. Guided by that image, the arms extrude a liquid composite of Kevlar, spandex and nylon (over an insulating undergarment), which tightens as it cures, sort of like shrink-wrap. Materials integrated into the weave will actively control thermal regulation. Most of the suit’s materials will be recycled when you are finished using it. A polymer torso shell serves as a docking point for your helmet and a frame for your oxygen tank—and maybe a holster for your digital camera. Newman’s innovation is to use mechanical counterpressure to constrain your body’s tissues, rather than a bulky layer of gas to pressurize the suit. By orienting the threads along something called the body’s lines of non-extension, she can make the suit extremely tight yet highly flexible.

Here's a possible look:

Now go back and look at that Soviet Orlan job.

Kevlar. Man, that's a wonder material. On the battlefield, it pushed back against the tyranny of the rifled bullet. Days was, the best way to avoid dying from a bullet was to not be there when the bullet came traveling by. Now with kevlar and the mystery meat they make those plates out of, you've got a better than even chance. My point is, material sciences saw a need and filled that need. Larry Niven predicted this development in his Known Space universe. He called them skinsuits. Their day is coming.

Same goes for space travel. As far as rockets, space elevators, stratospheric blimps or carrier craft, I'm agnostic. My goal is get there. We will go when the need is demonstrated.

Next, Charles uses a lot of math, a language I speak poorly. For me, 1 + 1 equals whatever the hell I tell it, and Pi should be rounded down to four digits (which explains my short career as a bridge builder). So let me get back to that first quote:

And I don't want to spend much time talking about the unspoken ideological underpinnings of the urge to space colonization, other than to point out that they're there, that the case for space colonization isn't usually presented as an economic enterprise so much as a quasi-religious one.

"Quasi-religious?" Look, I enjoy the works of Doctorow and Stross immensely. But one is a Red Diaper Canadian (Doctorow) and the other is socialist with an odd case of ostalgia for the failed Soviet experiment (Stross). That makes them both stark raving mad, in my book. But as long as both are functional and pay their taxes on time, who am I to complain? They also look forward to the Rapture of the Nerds. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of unintended consequences!!

They're collectivists and I'm an individualists. They want to gather humanity up and experiment. Run it through a meat grinder and come up with Man 2.0.

Me, I want to hedge.

One thing I've learned is folks with those beliefs are resistant to one of my "Five Freedoms." Namely, the freedom to move. I use George Monbiot's odd fetish with airplanes as my touchstone. Can't experiment, see, if the Chickens keep running. With these guys, movement in general is bad, unless it's from the back of the bread line to the front. It's part of their "quasi-religion."

Look, if the nerds do in fact rapture, and we wind up with the sum total of human knowledge residing in some sort of intelligent soda can, well, then fine. But if we're not hedging, then look out. One thing about the Good Idea Fairy, the larger the population she gets her hands on, the more the misery when the God of Unintended Consequences comes wandering by.

See, my only contribution to the space race is going to be my life savings, some fifteen to twenty years from now, for a nights stay in the Bigelow Inn.

But I will say this, you look around and it looks like General Nuttiness is taking Supreme Command in differing parts of the world. And when the nucking futs take over, sometimes you need to be able to move out at a dead run with all you can carry:

Just goes to figure.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ejectia abuilding

Looks like a sort of Myst World. Hopefully with the Library of Alexandria inside.



The sad truth is that if the FBI really is following anyone on the American left, it is engaging in a huge waste of time and personnel. No matter what it claims for a self-image, in reality it’s the saddest collection of cowering, ineffectual ninnies ever assembled under one banner on God’s green earth. And its ugly little secret is that it really doesn’t mind being in the position it’s in – politically irrelevant and permanently relegated to the sidelines, tucked into its cozy little cottage industry of polysyllabic, ivory tower criticism. When you get right down to it, the American left is basically just a noisy Upper West side cocktail party for the college-graduate class.

I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

Otter, meet Vanessa Beecroft.

Welcome to the Thunderdome!

So Hamas' takeover of Gaza is complete. Watched CNN tying themselves into knots blaming the Capitalist Entity, Israel, the failure of "diplomacy"---- basically everyone except the "blameless" Palestinians (Going strong as a "People" since 1974).  Plenty of talk about how Hamas was democratically elected. So? The Palestinians were told to choose, and they chose badly. Granted, choosing between the corrupt and the nuts, maybe there's no good choice. The Palestinians are at the bottom of the death spiral created by international welfare, compassion and aggressive diplomatic efforts to roadmap a solution to a two state solution wherein the Joos get screwed. The pox, as we now observe, is on their house.

At the end of the day, Hamas is not an outlier. It's an early adopter. If the West Bank falls, then maybe the Persian Mullah's can "euphemize" Israel without resorting to nooks. Sad.

Remember back during the internet bubble, there was that magazine FastCompany? Some clever kid came up with FuckedCompany as a rejoinder. 

Perhaps some smart strategist will start a new webzine: FuckedCountry.

When your "Security Forces" look like that, you might just be living in a FuckedCountry.

Let me get this straight

&High above my head, orbiting in space, a space station has a blown fuse which could send it plummeting in the earth. And a dood is up there trying to fix a spaceship with a staple gun and some cloth.

I'm not belittling the Astronauts. There plenty brave, entrusting their lives to those floating junkyards.

But I can't help thinking, maybe NASA and GAZPROM aren't the ones to take us to the stars.

Better to do some parallel planning.;/div>

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sweet Bird

The C-27J. Represents a compromise between the the Ground Pounder's tactical need and the Air Lord's "Strategic Vision."

Nice to see the kids playing nice, this once. Of course, like the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Unmanned Aerial Systems, it will come down to who can tell the bird to go.

That said, AFRICOM might look to buy a couple, two, three of these.

Just saying.

Europe unveils space plane for tourist market

MSNBC reports

Nice. Here's me predicting the spacecraft will be three times the size, carry less than the promised passengers and only go to one point in space.

History is on my side.

EADS, the largely government owned European jack off all trades doesn't inspire confidence. They make AIRBUS. And represent a mindset of big over small. The AIRBUS 380, for example.

E.U.-AIRBUS threw up the A380 as the dominant airplane of the 21st Century. A big hub to hub plane. Boeing responded with a sweet 7E7 and finally settled on the 787 Dreamliner, the go where you want alternative. Dreamliner is set to trump the A380. 

But you know what, you probably could have predicted this years ago.

A couple of good articles here, and here.

Some truths are just, what's the word, "self-evident."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Americans Have Landed

Barnett in Esquire:

But denying other great powers strategic interests in the region does not constitute a strategy of our own, nor does the great hunt for "high-value targets." Which is why America has come to Africa militarily and isn't leaving anytime soon. The same can be said for China in the economic realm. To work, a lot of preconceptions about what an American military presence is really good for in underdeveloped countries will have to change. What we've not learned in Iraq -- or taken far too long to learn -- will have to be somehow acquired, soldier by soldier and tour by tour, on the ground in Africa.

Read it all, as they say. Thomas complained about his abilities in "straight reporting." He ought not. What Joe Galloway, and of late, Michael Yon bring to the tactical fight, Barnett brings to the Strategic. Interest and knowledge.

Googlezon and Amazonia are at war.....

Googlezon and Amazonia have always been at war.

From Thomas P.M. Barnett’s site, I found Sean linking to a deliciously geeky sight on maps called Strange Maps. You know, some people are into S&M. Me, I’m into maps. One day, I dream of some leather clad babe playing Sykes to my Picot.

Scrolling through the site, I came across (pinched from wiki) a map of George Orwell’s 1984:

Looking at it, I thought, “hey, that looks familiar.” So I launched my mindmap (Powerpoint, if you must know. For my money, better than all the COTS mindmapping software out there). I took the 1984 map and turned it into my 2070: The Do Nothing Version map of the future.

These maps are based two parts straight line analysis and conjecture of future trends and one part bullshit. I leave it to the gentle reader to figure out which. In addition, it’s not to represent, wholly, currently defined national borders. Rather, where trends will occur. Last I stuck with Non-Integrating Gap because I’m good with the implied hope. It’s a way of saying do A,B, and C and succeed. Don’t, and fail.

I don’t know if it’s right, but as one A.I. said to the other, “it feels logical.”

The first map is of the, I don't know, "market states," "areas of influence" or trend spotting. Second map is what's coming from those regions. I picked the year "2070" in much the same way Orwell picked "1984."

So, here they are:

Odd, I know. By the way, if you're good at genetic algorithms, Google is hiring.

Oh, and speaking of maps (it's just that kind of day) Sean links to an NPR map on migration. Seems focused on the large economic motives for migration. The flow is generally unidirectional, towards more permissive rule sets. Migration of Americans to Mexico? Cheap beach front property.

Look, I had some friends who lived and worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They lived pretty well. Generally, when Americans migrate it's because, to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, "They've gone and made it here, now want to take it anywhere....." Fair enough.

Me, I'm in favor of immigration. For people. Crappy rule sets can stay at home.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dear Leader

Interesting rundown on Turkmenbashi, dictator of Turkmenistan, over at Neatorama.

It's why I'm a disestablishmentarianist. The separation of government and power just makes sense.

For Simply aesthetic reasons.

Contests I'd Like to see:

  • Fred Thompson versus Al Gore
  • A Super Star Destroyer versus a Galaxy Class Enterprise
  • Mork versus Mindy (Mindy wins in OT)
  • Hillary versus Rudy
  • Hamas versus Fatah
  • Small versus Big
  • Earth versus Mars
  • The Future versus the Past
  • Richard Branson versus Jeff Bezos
I'd pay money for any of those.


Apple has gone an upgraded the safari browser. Finally, the thing is compatible with blogger, my default blogging engine. No more having to fire up the old Firefox just to see all the buttons.

Nice improvement.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Let's do some ciphering

Recently, there's been a spate of articles aimed at us nekulturny. Namely, "Hardworking Congress Critter lives in a shack, while doing the work of the people."

The latest: "Perks of power stop at tiny D.C. digs."

Yonkura's $175 bed takes up most of the living room, and Jordan's tiny bedroom is barren except for the air mattress on which he sleeps.

For this, they pay a total of $995 a month in rent, more than the mortgage on Yonkura's house in Delaware, Ohio, but about as cheap as you are likely to find anywhere near their D Street location less than two blocks from the Capitol.

Look, I do not know the internals on their finances, but I'm assuming they were not catapulted from homelessness to the heights (all be it middling) of power. If REP Jordan is bringing in 165,000 dracma a year, his Chief of Staff's butter might be in the 130,000 dracma range. Just guessing. For that, each is on the hook for about 5,000 dracma a year in housing cost to live close to Delta Charlie. A bad two pack a day habit (if you smoke).

Plenty to spare. And the upside? An opportunity at a two trillion dollar pie.

This post is not to impugn the pure motives of REP Jordan and his CoS, but GMAFB.

Plenty of time to work on that ZIL dreamcar.

Boba Fett has competition.

Flipping through the re-purposed tree version of WIRED, I pick up some new jargon: NanoFET Thrusters.

Plain language explanation:

Imagine a solid state CMOS device that emits nanoparticle's of propellant; sort of an ion thruster without the high voltage, electrode arcing and grids that can short out from a misplaced dust mote.

Now imagine millions or billions of them in a megawatt flat panel array used as a space craft propulsion module.

It's called NanoFET: Nanoparticle Field Emission Thruster

The eye bleeding version can be found here.

Sweet. The core a a future "Bad Physics Engine."

What's the plan, stan.

I think it's a personal responsibility for every citizen of the Republic to inform themselves of the issues. Any issues. My personal issue is the war. Not necessarily the battle in Irak, or even the larger global conflict against troglodyte collectivist simmering under the banner of jihad. My takeaway from reading Barnett, Robb et al, my own observations (Jethro would call them "cipherings") lead me to believe we need to look down the road a bit, at what's coming next. It's like being in the Balkans War before some random Archduke goes and gets himself shot.

Anti-globalization. Tribalism. Primitivism. Savagery. Id smothering ego.

So I like to see what prospective candidates have to say about, well, future conflicts. Unfortunately, Irak is the loadstone. "Solve" Irak, and bad things go bye-bye. Well, no. Next, I need three takeaways when I read each candidates plan. Situations are complex, but plans that try and account for too much complexity often miss the mark. Last, I need their proactive solutions. I've got to cut through the dross of "Bush lied, eggs fried." So, with that in mind, here are the top four candidates from each party* and my three takeaways:

1. De-authorize war NLT 11OCT2007.
2. Cap troop levels at JAN2007 levels.
3. Residual force in Irak is the endstate.

1. Phased withdrawal.
2. Money spent on Reconstruction in Irak,
3. Regional Conference.

1. Immediately withdraw up to 50,000 Soldiers.
2. All combat troops out in 12-18 months.

1. Deauthorize war.
2. Withdraw troops.
3. Conference.

1. Widens target set to global jihad.
2. Supports use of DIME.
3. Coalition of the Able to promote "secular education, modern financial and economic policies, international trade, and human rights."

1. No timetable for withdrawal.
2. Irak is only one front in wider war.
3. Endstate for Irak is a willing partner.

1. Supports the surge, with a bottom up approach to security.
2. Add SryIran to the target set.
3. Let the American people know this is a long war, not a twenty-four second news cycle.

1. Nothing on his official website.
2. His approach to information is more diffuse.
3. And yes, my wife and I will be getting "lifelock."

So that's how I read it.

* Phred added Fred because you know he's going to run. Dug up the War Powers Resolution (umm, it's not an "Act", it's a "Resolution") and couldn't find any language about "deauthorization." Make me smarte, here, KAI?

Actual Debating Technique

When I debated in High School, from the first affirmative constructive, I had to propose a plan. Then I had to defend the plan. If you didn't adopt my plan, then the harm would be "x," with "x" generally being global nuclear war. Really. I'd scour the library until I found that one sweet quote that linked failure to adopt my plan on agriculture or water policy to global nuclear war. Then, cleverly, I'd say something to the effect that global nuclear war is bad.

My opponents in the first negative constructive would argue that either a) there'd be no actual war, b) my plan would actually lead to the collapse of the sun into a black hole or c) I did not propose a plan because my interpretation of the word "to" was wrong.

So as I watch the debate on the morning talk shows over Son of Immigration Reform, I keep wondering what "X" is. What's the harm of doing nothing? Other than Secretary Chertoff's comments below, no one can simply come out and say, if we do not pass this law then _____ will happen. And ______ will be worse than the status quo.

Instead, I get a string of adjectives describing the urgency, the necessity, the need, to do something, unintended consequences be damned.

I'm out here, way on the sidelines, wondering what the hell is "x"?

As a side note, if I could propose a constitutional amendment, I'd require every member elected to Congress to work a farm, winery, mine, fishery or timberland in their home district. They're salaries would be tied to their productivity. They could vote by VTC, and talk by telephone.

That would go a long way towards ending the tendency of Delta Charlie to "bubble up."

The "Libby Love Letters"

Four Banger Peter Pace is shown the door. He'll retire as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when his term expires in September. Lot of talk about Iraq, his comments on homosexuality and being the last of the Rumsfeld "Gang."

Look, I can't get over my suspicion that Delta Charlie is a small, petty place where the most mundane vendettas have an outsized impact. That is the current ecology of D.C. today.

I think the letter Four Banger Pace wrote in support of Scooter Libby was the loading of the bullet and cocking of the hammer.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Oh yeah

The Space Truck Ship-177 Atlantis took off yesterday.

When I was a phrap, I remembered the excitement the proceeded each Shuttle launch. I was in front of the T.V. watching live, the day the Crew of the Challenger "... ‘slipped the surly bounds of earth’ to touch the face of God." Tragic.

But I haven't lost my joy for space. I'm just here:

And I want to go there:

A private A380?

Some billionaire has commissioned that behemoth A380 as a flying palace.

I'd really be interested in finding out if he or she inherited their wealth or earned it.

Elon Musk, an earner, at least spends his money wisely.

Roomba Envy

My wife wants one of these iRobots roombas now.

Personally, I think the scout variant is more useful for round the house work.

But that's just me.

(Quick quiz: which one do you think we'll get first?)

Geeky joy

Channel surfing pays off. I get to catch the History Channel's show on "Bathroom Technology."

I even get to learn about Sir Thomas Crapper, Knight Commander of the Order of Porcelain.

Look, I made a deal with my wife. When we build our dream house, all I want control of is designing the bathroom and the kitchen. The rest is extraneous.

We all need our own little hideaways.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I Understand Now

Caught a distinguished gentleman by the name of Secretary Chertoff on NPR this afternoon. Distinguished Gentleman Secretary Chertoff, is, if I caught his title right, the head of the Department of Homeland Bureaucracy. Nice fellow.

Anyways, he explained to me, in terms I could understand, what would happen if our benign Congress did not Act Now to End the Dual Status of Undocumented Euphemistic Americans. Scared the stuffing out of me. Secretary Chertoff (from memory):

"Crops will not be harvested; food will rot in the ground!!!!"

He also opined that farmers will move their farms to either the north or south of the border. My minds eye filled with images of lorries, loaded with topsoil and tomato plants, queuing up at the border in search of labor. Once in CANMEXICO, these poor farmers would have to look for empty patches of, well, land, to dump their land and start anew.

"Crops will not be harvested; food will rot in the ground!!!!"

Generally, I've been opposed to Guest Worker Programs. Actually, Guest Worker Programs II:

Seems like we've been there, done that. Even "benign" Metic citizenship? Bad idea. Or so I thought.

I've changed my mind:

"Crops will not be harvested; food will rot in the ground!!!!"


I'm opposed to crop not harvesting and anti-food rotting as a matter of principle. That principle being I likes to eat.

Today, the Homeland Bureaucracy rescinded a rule requiring Americans to display a passport when returning from the near abroad, CANMEXICARRIBEAN and the like. Seems they got overwhelmed processing applications from 1.5 to 1.7 million Americans per month. Wow. Look, personally I'd like to see every American with a passport, if only to piss Michael Moore off. But, even that task seems beyond the doable.

But when it comes to Z-Visas for Euphemistic Americans, they're good to hook. Knock those babies out in twenty-four hours or less.

The Computronium that runs the Universe must be having a good laugh.

At the end of the day, for me, the debate isn't about immigration, legal, illegal or para-legal. It's about the innate incompetence of entrenched
bureaucracies. Parties are irrelevant.

Once you join the bureaucracy, you automatically can not shoot straight.

That's just a rule. Intentions are irrelevant.

Alas. Let them in or "Crops will not be harvested; food will rot in the ground!!!!"


Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Martian Playa

Sweet. HIRES images available of the Martian (Sol's Backup Hard drive) surface.

Kind of looks like the Drakensberg/uKhahlamba during a really dry season.

Via Hugh Hewitt

I see democracy in action. The People (TM) have been heard. The elites cowed.

No, not the Undocumented American Regularization and Love Act. No, that went down in flames as a bunch of slack jawed, homophobic, natavist, ecologically unaware, Islam fearing rubes (did I get my narrative right?) defeated an attempt to enfranchise whoever the hell showed up and asked in the next twenty four hours or so.

Ho hum.

But all should rejoice that James Lileks' paymasters have given him a blog. I love the Bleat (and Mommy Knows Worst still has me laughing out loud), but to get Lileks in rss is a joy to behold.


The Cat points to Microsofts release of Photosynth. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on the mac OS. So, I'll book this post here, reboot my MacBook in the Windows XP environment, and check it out. Anything that uses the Basilica San Marcos as an example has me at hello:

Choices. Love them.

Amanda Congdon should be pleased

Front page on this month's WIRED is Rocketboom, a nifty little story about the private rocket industry. WIRED does delicious covers, but this one is almost frame worthy. Here's the web version:

The hardcover is a lot better.

I am a fan of private space ventures. They represent, in my mind, the best in human ingenuity, advancement and potential. They also make killer background material for a story. Any story.

Conestoga's for the Remnant?

Western Civilization is going to the stars. Count on it.

Life imitates Futurama

If you're a fan of the show "Futurama" you probably remember the hypnotoad.

Seems like the Science Guys found it's real world counterpart.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Just a tip

If you're out there wage slaving for some faceless global corporation, check in with you're IT department and see if they have the Microsoft Home Use Program. I did.

Paid about sixty dracma for close to fifteen hundred smacks of software.

Pretty good deal.

(Note that this would only be spam if I emailed it to you)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A little better

Enough with photoshop, tho, for tonight. Going to put pen to normal paper and relax.

Small Wars.

I need to go back and read this WAPO graphic a little later:

The Insurgents' Increasingly Complex Tactics in Ambushes

Interesting enemy TTPs.

National Geographic Tonight

Of the some four hundred and fifty thousand individually titled DVD's put out after the end of the operational war in Iraq, National Geographic's was the best.

Tonight, at nine eastern, they're doing what looks to be a good story on the seem between the "Rule of law, and the Rule of Terror."

"A Look Inside the Green Berets"

Video Preview

Some masks slip

Via Tim Blair:

As I wrote yesterday, it doesn’t matter if AGW is real or not now because the world is going green, the dogs may bark but the caravan moves on. Get with the program and help advance your country! ... I want to live in a creative, brave, generous, warm and intelligent society and nation. I don’t want to be surrounded by greedy, snivelling wretched cowards ...

While some masks don't:

Breaking omelette's, making some eggs, as they say.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

That Last Step

It's a doozy. Here's what happens to several hours of work when you close and save without importing your line art into your RGB channels.

Still, I learned a lot. Much thanks here and here for the tutorials.

My dream car gets better

Last week, the wife insisted I clean out the garage. Something about the homeless sleeping there. Well, we rented a Ford F150. Roomy, powerful, and big. Used about a quarter tank of gas and when I went to refill it, I put a cool $22 dracma into it. A full tank would probably set me back $80 or so dracma.

Big cars have always been her thing. She has her eye set on an H3.

Me, I've always been partial to small and fast.

And with a promised 74mpg, I think they've finally hit my sweet spot.

(I'm green, because I'm cheap)

Comes a time

When you run out of time. Admin note, I'm switching my 'toon to a Monday through Friday time slot. I need to hive out some time for work (still have to eat) and some other, fun projects I've got boiling.

As always, you can catch, bookmark, or rss the Most Serene Republic:



Friday, June 1, 2007

It's Official

In as much there's a wiki (yes, that wiki) page on the Army Combat Shirt.

Seems like they're going for branded and cute, here. Glad they didn't ask me to model; my lumps would have been in all the wrong places.

But I think Ayn Rand would be proud.

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