08 August 2008

On Hiatus

Until there are eight days in a week or more hours in a day, I'll mainly be blogging at the two blogs listed to the right of this post. Cheers!

26 July 2008

Brilliant

Don't miss this excellent satire on the Obamamessiah from the TimesOnLine UK. As the Brits would say, "It's Just Brilliant, Lovey."

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24 July 2008

John Derbyshire: Talking to the Plumber

For today’s post I defer to the excellent thoughts of Mr. John Derbyshire, whose writing, intellect and wit I admire (though I disagree with him on matters of God and Creation and do not like the sarcastic and dismissive tone he often adopts when discussing them).

I try not to be too vexed about it, though, because Derb will be gently corrected (as will we all, in those areas of Belief in which we err) when he eventually meets his Maker. And I do hope mercy prevails that day, as I would very much like to sit and chat with him some lazy afternoon in Heaven.

Update: A friend asks me if I'm going to disclose that I recently wrote a complaint letter about Derb's caustic sarcasm (in re: to Creationists) to the editors at National Review. Consider it disclosed. I have a love-hate readlationship with Derb, what can I say...

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23 July 2008

Sacrificial Goats

I am both happy and humbled to see that National Review editor Rich Lowry also wrote about the Left’s (a) frothy-mouthed hatred of The Evil Speculators and (2) cognitive disconnect re: the concept of supply and demand this week (see my earlier comments here).

Happy because it is nice to imagine a serendipitous connection (along the lines of “great minds think alike”) and humbled because Mr. Lowry’s writing is so much better than mine. I was especially delighted with his ending: “If Congress wants a scapegoat for high oil prices, it should revert to the ancient practice and literally expel a goat from the U.S. Capitol. Atavistic, yes, but no less irrational.”

Once recovered from the awe and wonder educed by use of the word “atavistic” (which for all you non word geeks means reversion to some old or ancient practice)(and no, I am not ashamed to admit I had to look it up) I did a little research and was amused to find this excerpt on the proper methods of goat ousting from “Ritual Dynamic Structure” by author Roy Gaines:

EXPEL GOAT INTO WILDERNESS
1. Speak while leaning both hands on the head of a goat
1.1 Lean both hands on head of goat
1.2 Speak while keeping hands on head of goat
2. Expel goat into wilderness
3. Cleanse handler of goat
3.1 Launder clothes
3.2 Bathe in water

Gaines’ little outline deconstructs the portion of the book of Leviticus in which Aaron receives expicit instructions for cleansing the Israelites of all their sins. Apparently God was a stickler for details because His directions also included flow chart elements for the proper methods of collecting confessions and various post-event atonements.

Anyway, I like Mr. Lowry’s suggestion. I imagine the goat banishing ceremony would go something like this:

SENATOR DORGAN (solemnly placing both hands on the head of a confused goat while Reid and Pelosi look on): Lo, it has come to pass that the members of this Hallowed Hall have cast lots and that by the will of Heaven ye shall be the Scapegoat.

(goat trembles nervously)

Upon thy head we place the sins of this unholy congregation, which include but are not limited to, blaming speculators for high oil prices, ignoring market conditions, and boring the American public with our endless speechifying.

(goat stares at Senator Dorgan, puzzled)

Unhappy beast, ye shall now bear the burden of all our iniquities and transgressions.

(goat glances around for possibility of quick escape)

Therefore ye shall be sent into the Wilderness to be seen nevermore.

(goat relaxes, looks relieved)

We who are cleansed shall remain here, burn incense upon the Altar of the Most High, and have a Committee Meeting.

(goat nibbles on Dorgan's sleeve to see if it's any good)

Pass ye now through the Holy Tabernacle so the Lord may frown upon thy cursed head.

(goat walks through the Veil, stifles a yawn)

Now go into the Wilderness and be seen nevermore!

(goat happily ambles off)

Let us now wash our flesh with fresh water and retire to our Chambers where, afflicted, we shall do no work, no, neither for our country nor for any poor sap that sojourneth among us. And let this be an everlasting statute.

And so it was...


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20 July 2008

Back on the Job

I took a few extra days after getting home, but I see I've missed a Visitor so I had better get back with it. Since I'm typing this, I may as well say something about something. How about how terrible Tom Brokaw has been on Meet the Press the past two Sundays? His feigned attempt to ask Al Gore a couple of tough questions this morning were worthy of an eye-roll. At least Russert had a little fire in him when he drilled people - even those you knew he liked or agreed with. Brokaw is a wet noodle.

29 June 2008

Time Off

I'm taking a two week break from Shoe starting Monday, June 30. I'll be back on/around July 14. Have a great 4th of July!

Update: For your entertainment and/or enlightenment while I'm gone check out Tim Blair's Blog and/or VodkaPundit over on Pajamas Media and/or Little Green Footballs or the always fabulous Corner.

26 June 2008

String Theory in 500 Words or Less

Today we’re going to stray off the beaten path and talk about particle physics and String Theory. What’s in it for you, you ask? Well, for one, since I’m going to take a shot at explaining it in 500 words or less, you can learn quite a lot in a very short time. Also, if this set of ideas that some call "The Unified Theory of Everything" proves out someday, you’ll be able to nod knowingly and say, “Yes, yes, I have always thought so.” If neither of those are enough to keep you, then go away and come back tomorrow when we'll talk about something easier like how screwed up the Supreme Court is these days.

So. We’ve been told that ordinary matter is made of atoms, which are in turn made of electrons whirling around a nucleus composed of neutrons and protons. We call the electron a fundamental particle belonging to a nice little particle family called “leptons," and we believe that its neutrons and protons are made of even smaller fundamental particles called “quarks.” Our current beliefs about the subatomic universe are summed up nicely in what we call the Standard Model of particle physics. This model describes what we say are the twelve basic building blocks: six types of quarks, and six types of leptons. Quarks go by the interesting names of up, down, charm, strange, bottom and top. (For example, a proton is made of two up quarks and one down quark.) The leptons include the electron and its two heavier pals, the muon and the tauon, plus three neutrinos.

The Standard Model also describes the four known fundamental forces in the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. It is believed that each of these forces are produced by particles that act as carriers of that force. The most familiar of these is the photon, otherwise known as a light particle, which is the mediator of electromagnetic forces. The graviton is the particle associated with gravity (and is already familiar to Star Trek fans). The strong force is carried by eight different particles known as gluons, and the weak force is transmitted by three particles, the W+, the W- and the Z. (Disappointing little labels after names like “charm” and “strange” – but I digress.)

The Standard Model pretty thoroughly describes all particles and forces, with one exception: gravity. The gravitational force has proven difficult to describe or map. For years this has been one of the most important problems in theoretical physics. We seem unable to come up with a viable quantum theory of gravity. In the last few decades, string theory has emerged as one possible means for developing a microscopic theory of gravity as well as possibly being the possible Holy Grail of quantum physics, the aforementioned Unified Theory of Everything.

The fundamental idea supporting String Theory is that all the different particles of the Standard Model are really just different manifestations of one basic object: something that is too small to be visible on any existing microscope and which looks like a little piece or loop of string. So, whereas we would commonly picture an electron as a point with no dimensions and no internal structure – a point that cannot do anything but stay where it is, or move to another place in space-time – String Theory says that if we had an adequately powerful microscope, we would see that the electron is not really a point and is instead more like a tiny string. And we would see that this string is able to do something besides sit still, or move: it can oscillate and/or vibrate.

So, if one of these strings, of a certain mass, oscillates and/or vibrates a certain way, then from a distance we would be unable to tell it is a string and might see what we call an electron. But if it had a different mass, or oscillated and/or vibrated in some other way, we might call it a photon, or a quark. If String Theory is correct, the entire universe is made of these tiny strings of varying mass that oscillate and/or vibrate at different speeds or “resonances”…and it is our ability to see (and/or hear? and/or sense?) them that will lead to further knowledge and possible theoretical breakthroughs.

Update: I asked my brother to fact-check this post; he emailed with this: "Good summary; you excluded anti-particles, but that's not a big deal. Also, the standard model doesn't contain gravity at all; it doesn't predict gravitons. More importantly, though, is that the key behind string theory is that strings exist in more than 3 spatial dimensions (various theories have different "extra" dimensions, up to 8, I think). This makes it a highly mathematical theory with few testable predictions with current technology."

Update 2: There's now a comment by someone who says I'm wrong in other ways, too. I'm just glad someone besides my brother (and Mom) read the whole thing. But I guess I'd better give up my Dreams of becoming a world renowned String Theory Expert...

25 June 2008

Don't Blame It on the Rain

Last week the WSJ reported that as the Mississippi river rises, a debate is storming between scientists, environmentalists and housing developers over whether irresponsible development is the cause of all the recent flooding. Due to the high demand for waterfront real estate, developers of new and expanding communities often push for new, taller, and stronger levees. But by building along the riverbanks and forcing the Mississippi into a bed that’s less than half the width it was 100 years ago, developers are forcing the river to run faster and higher.

Also, as the developers pave over and drain off nearby low lying wetlands, additional runoff water is channeled into the river. Critics say the result is a self-perpetuating cycle: Levees are built; wetlands are drained; the rivers rise higher, new levees are built even bigger; and the rivers rise again. Add in a little spring rainfall and disaster ensues.

At the center of the problem is the lack of a comprehensive river-management plan. Each levee along the Mississippi is under local control. “Each levee has a small impact, but cumulatively they can have a large impact," said David Busse, chief of engineering and construction for the St. Louis District of the Army Corps of Engineers. "From an engineering point of view, it would be great to look at the system as a system."

Can anyone say “Duh”…???

24 June 2008

23 June 2008

Hathida Prosecutions: 0-7

I was glad to see Michelle Malkin raking the New York Times over the proverbial coals for their dishonest reporting in re: to the Haditha trials. Over the past two years The Times has written 35+ stories (along with headlines in giant font) re: the alleged crimes of these Marines while editorializing that the incident was the “defining atrocity” of the war, yet has posted only two small blurbs noting that seven of these eight officers have now been acquitted (one still awaits trial).

The blatant bias and lack of integrity at the NYT continues to be appalling. And while we’re talking about character assassination and biased, irresponsible journalism, how about MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann’s characterization of the “willful targeted brutality” of these Marines before the trials even began? Or The Nation’s conclusion that the regiment “perpetrated a massacre”? Or similar comments in The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the L.A. Times? Will any of these entities, or Congressman Murtha, who also slandered these Marines, now apologize for their propaganda? Honesty and integrity not being on their agenda, we won't hold our collective breath.

22 June 2008

Is Obama in Violation of US Code Title 18-713?

When I saw this story on Obama's new seal, I recalled this little piece of U.S. Code which refers to: Use of likenesses of the great seal of the United States, the seals of the President and Vice President, the seal of the United States Senate, the seal of the United States House of Representatives, and the seal of the United States Congress, and which says:

(a) Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

And wondered...???

21 June 2008

What a Difference the Messenger Makes

The liberal media is praising Obama for making some critical statements about black fathers in front of a predominantly black audience. Addressing the congregation of a large black church, Obama mentioned his own absentee father and said “we need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception.” He went on to state, “more than half of all black children are living in single parent households” and “too many fathers are MIA” and “the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.” Obama is being widely credited with making a speech that was “striking for its bluntness” and is being applauded for his courage in presenting it to a black audience.

So what about poor Bill Cosby, who has been bluntly speaking about the epidemic of fatherlessness among black Americans for over a decade? Where are Cosby’s accolades for having the courage to confront his own culture? The New York Times has called Cosby’s speechifying “inflammatory” and other forums have referred to his criticisms of the black community as “controversial.”…yet when Obama echoes these same sentiments, he is praised for being “brave” and making a “positive stand.” The capacity of the liberal media to ignore these sorts of disparities is truly amazing.

20 June 2008

Because Baby Alex's Momma Says So

Recent days have seen quite a few media chime-ins on the ‘Baby Alex’ ad sponsored by MoveOn.org. The ad features a young mother bouncing a beaming baby boy on her lap and emoting in a quavering, affected voice, “John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for a hundred years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him.”

We’ve become accustomed to the Left’s propensity for not letting the facts get in the way of a nasty campaign ad, but one still feels disgusted at the ad’s blatant exploitation of babyhood in an attempt to manipulate voters. For the umpteenth time, McCain never said he wants to fight in Iraq for 100 years. He simply referenced our ongoing military presence in countries like South Korea and Japan and said the same would be fine in Iraq “as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.” And, presumably, it would also be fine with McCain, and any other sensible American, if Alex grew up, enlisted in the military, and were stationed for a time in peace time Iraq.

It’s not ok with this quavering, indignant mother, though. Asserting lifelong ownership of her son, she is not going to let John McCain “have him.” Nevermind that McCain will likely die of old age before the boy turns 18, and nevermind that the boy may well grow up and decide to serve his country of his own free will. Those facts do not make for good Drama – and it is drama, after all, that so often trumps the facts in our national dialogue.

Too bad little Alex’s mother is not as committed to truth telling as she is to claiming ownership over a life that, ultimately, is not hers. Her assertion that she knows what is best for another, both now and for all time, embodies the justification for the Left’s entire political agenda. As this ad reveals, the lefties do not hesitate to try to dictate the life choices of others. Other viewpoints, and freedom of thought and choice, are not in the script...even for their own children.

Yet Another Gaza Ceasefire

Mind boggling as it is, another Israeli ceasefire on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has gone into effect. Previous ceasefires have been punctuated by regular attacks from Hamas and have given Hamas a chance to re-group and re-arm. This one will be no different. Israel’s intermittent periods of capitulation and “military restraint” continue to teach Hamas that there are no real consequences to their actions. Furthermore, the Palestinian moderates have zero chance of ruling Gaza as long as Hamas can convince the people that they are gaining ground and winning concessions.

And indeed, they are. The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire places no limitations on Hamas activities in Gaza (and even if it did, there is no way to monitor them). Hamas is free to stockpile arms, plant mines, dig tunnels, and build bunkers. By the end of the ceasefire, Gaza will be fully armed and ready to do battle even more effectively than before. Another few such ceasefires and Hamas will not only be equipped to hold sway over Gaza indefinitely but could also make an attempt at invading parts of Israel.

What is Israel thinking, and why is the White House expressing hopeful optimism about this latest ceasefire? It borders on insanity.

19 June 2008

Sign the Petition: Broadcaster Freedom Act

Today's CNSNews.com E-Brief sums up the latest in the Left's attempt to resurrect the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" so they can subdue or silence some or all of the voices of conservative talk radio. Apparently there is a new bill in the works - "The Broadcaster Freedom Act" - that liberals in Congress are blocking from getting to the floor for a vote. CNS has named this July 4th "Radio Independence Day" and has provided a link to their Citizen Petition to stop the Fairness Doctrine and push forward the new Freedom bill. You can sign the petition here.

The goal is to present Congressional leadership with at least 100,000 signatures demanding that the Broadcaster Freedom Act be brought to a full floor vote before the Fourth of July. So far, 194 members of Congress have signed a petition asking for a discharge of the bill from committee to The Floor, but 24 more signatures are needed.
 
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