Obama's Plan For Failure

Here is Obama's plan for failure. For instance he has promised to lower the debt. I think that promise has expired. And he will be friendlier to the working class by destroying the companies they work for. The man is a genius.

Obamanomics: How Bottom-Up Economic Prosperity Will Replace Trickle-Down Economics (Economics in the Obama Presidency)

I can explain in simple terms why bottom up doesn't work. Say you give a man a dollar stimulus and he spends it. About 10¢ of that dollar will wind up as profit for the manufacturer. This dollar will increase demand which will tend to cause prices to rise. Now suppose you give business a $1 tax cut. That whole dollar will go into making the business better serve its customers, tend to increase supply (lowering prices) and the very businesses that are satisfying their customers the most (doing more with less) will benefit the most from a tax cut on business. You know, reward winners instead of trying to pick them.

And here is another book that Obama needs to read. How to appoint people to government without embarrassing yourself. He seems to have missed reading it.

The Obama Political Appointee Primer

We now have a couple of benchmarks. We can look back in a year or three and see how he has been doing.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?
IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:19 PM | Comments (1)

First The Spending Then The Plan

President Present is about to unveil his new spending plan. His old plan was spend first and plan later. Could it mean the old way has passed its expiration date?

President Barack Obama said Saturday his administration will outline a new strategy in the coming days for spending billions of federal dollars to pull the nation out of an economic crisis he described as "devastating."

Obama and his top advisers are weighing how to structure the remaining $350 billion that Congress approved last year to save financial institutions and lenders from collapse. The new president also warned there is no single action that would allow his administration to fix the struggling U.S. economy, a stark statement at the end of a week that saw hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their jobs.

"No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "So just as we jump-start job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing and families can stay in their homes."

Of course there is something he could do to give a boost to companies that were making money: lower taxes on them.
"And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight and clear accountability so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results."

Obama's message -- largely repackaged from a week of White House statements -- was as much for the country as it was for lawmakers: Pass the separate American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan or things are going to get worse.

Two things here are worth remarking on. The first: When a Chicago politician promises a new era of transparency what that means is, "We have found a new way to siphon off the vigorish that we hope no one will notice." Second off this economy will get worse for a while no matter what. Passing a new theft, bail out, and raise taxes bill is guaranteed to make them worse longer.

But don't worry. Just to sweeten the stimulus deal Our Congress Critters have promised to start a trade war.

Less than two weeks into office, President Barack Obama faces a dilemma over protectionist provisions in a massive economic stimulus bill: Backing the measures could set off a trade war, while opposing them could trigger a backlash from his supporters.

The choice involves "buy American" provisions attached to White House-backed stimulus legislation moving through Congress. They would require major public works projects to favor U.S. steel, iron and manufacturing over imports.

Some Democratic lawmakers and interest groups allied to the president support the measures, but international allies and trading partners are warning that favoring U.S. companies would breach U.S. trade commitments and could set off tit-for-tat countermeasures around the world.

The two largest U.S. trading partners already have spoken out against the measures. On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed concern and the European Union warned that it would not "stand idly by" if such measures were passed. On Friday, Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also criticized the measures.

Shades of Smoot-Hawley. So let me see. In less than two weeks Obama has annoyed Hamas and pissed off Canada, The European Union, and Brazil. All to gouge the American taxpayer and support his union and Arab friends. I think he is off to an excellent start. Only Three Years 11 months 2 weeks and 5 days to go. Well I hear that "Hot Rod" Blagojevich is currently unemployed. Perhaps Mr. Obama could hire him for some executive advice and at least do something about one man's unemployment problem.


IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

Rushing To Get A BiPartisan Stimulus

Rush Limbaugh seems to be on a roll. At least he has rolled Obama (and by the end of his term I think you will have a hard time finding some one who hasn't rolled Obama. 3 years 11 months 2 weeks and 6 days to go.) You can read the whole thing here. But let me quote this choice excerpt.
Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let's say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion -- $486 billion -- will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% -- $414 billion -- will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.
If you lower taxes on business the greatest amount of money goes to those with the most profits. Rewarding those who are doing well. Funding directed by Congress rewards the politically connected. I can see why President Present might want to back away from this one as much as he can. Why does this seem so much like Chicago politics?

H/T Instapundit who sent me to Roger Kimball who has some interesting thoughts.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration? IEC Fusion Technology blog

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:23 PM | Comments (14)

Polywell Fusion - Keeping It Alive

Another short term contract [pdf] for wiffle ball fusion is out for bid by the US Navy. Here is the interesting part.

3.1.1 Contractor shall review the results from Contracts N00014-93-C-0224, N00014-96-C-0039, contract N68936-03-C-0031, and any other publically available current documentation regarding the technical research and development in the field of energy production using a fusion reaction. The review shall primarily investigate the effects of parallel electron heat loss to the coil joints with respect to plasma stability and electron confinement time.


3.2.1 The contractor will modify/upgrade the existing wiffleball #7 (WB-7) device by installing compact, high temperature coil joints to investigate the electron parallel heat loss. This modified device shall hereafter be identified as Wiffleball #7.1 (WB-7.1).

3.2.2 The Contractor shall test the WB-7.1 to measure the plasma beta (ratio of plasma pressure to the applied magnetic field pressure) and to monitor the wiffleball formation process. The contractor will deploy multiple magnetic field probes inside the device to generate time varying magnetic field mapping to investigate the wiffleball formation.

3.3. The contractor shall take the results of the review specified in 3.1 and tests specified in 3.2 and provide a report detailing workable instrumentation set-ups to resolve the plasma production and physics questions raised in the review and tests for a final report for contracts.

This doesn't look like it amounts to any more than a few weeks of work. I'm going to look into the contracts mentioned and see if I can figure out the intention here.


N00014-93-C-0224 Jan 1995
N00014-96-C-0039 Jan 1996
N68936-03-C-0031 March 2003

H/T KitemanSA at Talk Polywell

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration? IEC Fusion Technology blog.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

What Next For Polywell Fusion?

Dr. Bussard thought that a full scale net energy Polywell Fusion program could be done for $200 million. What could be done to advance the knowledge base that wouldn't require that kind of commitment?

I have been giving some thought to what the next step in the Polywell Fusion experiments might be. Here is what I have so far:

I think a continuous operation experiment (liquid nitrogen cooled copper magnet coils described at WB-7x Design) could reach .45 Tesla magnetic field strength for about $20 million. Most of that going into power supplies. That is a rough estimate: +/- $5 million is probably 1 sigma.

If I was begging that is one place to start.

Or maybe forget the big power supplies and go for a pulsed small superconducting model. If a lot of neutrons (1E12/sq cm Second) were not generated (or only generated in pulses) MgB would be a good candidate for the coil material if the coils were totally custom.

Heck it might be good just to buy an MRI machine for the coils. An MRI can be had for about $1 million. If you can get just the coils they might only be $200K. A WB machine built like that could be done for probably $5 to $7 million. If it shows good pulsed results pony up for the power supplies. And start thinking about a 100 MW machine.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?            IEC Fusion Technology Explained

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Thanks to Instapundit for the link. I have written a few other Polywell Fusion articles in the last two days: Polywell Fusion - Keeping It Alive and Polywell Fusion and Obama.

posted by Simon at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)

Strange Attractors

I was reading Hendrik Tennekes on climate models and learned some very interesting mathematics. Let me walk you through it. It isn't hard and it turns out to be very beautiful. First off let me give you the flavor of the man. Here is something he says that I really like: "Physicists dream of Nobel prizes, engineers dream of mishaps." So true. When ever an aircraft goes down I want to know if it was something I worked on. If the answer is yes I say to myself: "Pray to God it wasn't something I did."

OK. Climate models.

"The constraints imposed by the planetary ecosystem require continuous adjustment and permanent adaptation. Predictive skills are of secondary importance."

Today I still feel that way. I cannot bring myself to accept any type of prediction paradigm, and choose a adaptation paradigm instead. This brings me in the vicinity of Roger Pielke Sr.'s emphasis on land-use changes and Ronald Brunner's modest bottom-up alternatives. It goes without saying that I abhor such dogmas as various claims to Manage The Planet or Greenpeace's belief in Saving the Earth. These ideologies presuppose that the intelligence of Homo sapiens is capable of such feats. However, I know of no evidence to support such claims.

Next up we start getting into ideas from the mathematics of chaos. The math was first found by by Edward N. Lorenz a meteorologist who founded chaos theory and found the Lorenz attractor.

A bit on chaos theory is in order.

In mathematics, chaos theory describes the behaviour of certain dynamical systems - that is, systems whose states evolve with time - that may exhibit dynamics that are highly sensitive to initial conditions (popularly referred to as the butterfly effect). As a result of this sensitivity, which manifests itself as an exponential growth of perturbations in the initial conditions, the behavior of chaotic systems appears to be random. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future dynamics are fully defined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

Chaotic behaviour is also observed in natural systems, such as the weather. This may be explained by a chaos-theoretical analysis of a mathematical model of such a system, embodying the laws of physics that are relevant for the natural system.

Here is a look at one version of a Lorenz Attractor:

Lorenz wrote a book on the subject that will be helpful to those that want to get deeper in the subject: The Essence of Chaos.

Ok. Now that you have some background lets continue on with weather and climate models.

Back to Lorenz. Complex deterministic systems suffer not only from sensitive dependence on initial conditions but also from possible sensitive dependence on the differences between Nature and the models employed in representing it. The apparent linear response of the current generation of climate models to radiative forcing is likely caused by inadvertent shortcomings in the parameterization schemes employed. Karl Popper wrote (see my essay on his views):
"The method of science depends on our attempts to describe the world with simple models. Theories that are complex may become untestable, even if they happen to be true. Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification, the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit."

If Popper had known of the predictability problems caused by the Lorenz paradigm, he could easily have expanded on this statement. He might have added that simple models are unlikely to represent adequately the nonlinear details of the response of the system, and are therefore unlikely to show a realistic response to threshold crossings hidden in its microstructure. Popper knew, of course, that complex models (such as General Circulation Models) face another dilemma.

I quote him again: "The question arises: how good does the model have to be in order to allow us to calculate the approximation required by accountability? (...) The complexity of the system can be assessed only if an approximate model is at hand."

From this perspective, those that advocate the idea that the response of the real climate to radiative forcing is adequately represented in climate models have an obligation to prove that they have not overlooked a single nonlinear, possibly chaotic feedback mechanism that Nature itself employs.

Popper would have been sympathetic. He repeatedly warns about the dangers of "infinite regress." As a staunch defender of the Lorenz paradigm, I add that the task of finding all nonlinear feedback mechanisms in the microstructure of the radiation balance probably is at least as daunting as the task of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. The blind adherence to the harebrained idea that climate models can generate "realistic" simulations of climate is the principal reason why I remain a climate skeptic. From my background in turbulence I look forward with grim anticipation to the day that climate models will run with a horizontal resolution of less than a kilometer. The horrible predictability problems of turbulent flows then will descend on climate science with a vengeance.

The short version: climate models can't predict anything as they currently stand because they are to coarse to properly model the phenomenon in question. When they get fine enough they won't be able to predict anything because chaos of the climate system and the models will take over.

I agree with Hendrick on the solution to the climate problem: preparation for adaptation to what ever happens is effort well spent. Trying to hold back the tides is a waste of time, effort, and accumulated capital.

H/T icarus at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

Polywell Fusion

It seems to me that funding for the Polywell Fusion Project being run by EMC2 Fusion has stalled.

So I want to do something about that. When ever you post a comment on a blog use this tagline:

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded?

If the blog allows embeded urls you can post this:

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded?

or this:

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded?
<a href="http://iecfusiontech.blogspot.com/">IEC Fusion Technology blog</a>

Contact your Congress Critters and President too.

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

What is Polywell Fusion?

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

Rick Nebel Updates The Latest News

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:33 PM | Comments (2)

A Violation Of Principles

It seems like the net is all abuzz about how climate science violates the principles of forecasting. Excellent. Except I blogged the very same report in June of 2007 at Principles Of Forecasting. Nice to see the folks on the net keeping up to date.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)

Holocaust Survivors Say: Legalize Marijuana

It is about a minute with English subtitles. The Jerusalem Post explains how this came to be.
The Green Leaf Graduates, which split from the political party Aleh Yarok, best known for its advocacy of the legalization of cannabis, is making waves with its most recent announcement: a plan to incorporate the Holocaust Survivors Party.
It looks like they have done that. At least as far as the video is concerned.
Yaakov Kfir, the party's leader, said he joined forces with the Green Leaf Graduates to attract more attention to the survivors' cause.

"The fact that I am interviewed by so many media outlets indicates that the decision to hook up with the Aleh Yarok graduates was smarter than if I had chosen to go with a larger, more solid party," Kfir said on Wednesday.

Politics makes strage bedfellows as a spokeswoman for the Green Leaf party explains.
Michelle Levine, a spokeswoman for the Green Leaf Graduates, voiced strong support for Kfir's cause. She described the government's failure to address the concerns of Holocaust survivors as a "national disgrace" and hoped that younger voters drawn to the party would be given additional incentive to vote in order to support the survivors' cause.

"People who would vote for the survivors right now are all older. [The survivors' party] wants to get younger people involved, like the Pensioners Party did before," said Levine, referring to the Gil Party's surprising 2006 success, which was fueled largely by disillusioned young voters.

She was forthright about the Green Leaf Graduates' intention to use support for the survivors' cause to further its own agenda of legalizing marijuana and said that the survivors had no problem with the issue.

"They say to us that at their age they don't see why [marijuana] is an issue," she continued. "They don't consider it drugs. They even have friends who have cancer or something who are ashamed to ask for a prescription. Easier access to medical marijuana is something we're fighting for."

You know. I think the boomer generation is going to give a big push to the legalization efforts in America. When the infirmities of old age start setting in making relaxation a puff away is going to sound pretty darned good.

And how about a few good books on the subject:

Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine

Biology of Marijuana

Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

Sign of hope?

While a lot of people predicted that Barack Obama would try to revise the unconstitutional "Fairness Doctrine" (requiring broadcasters to present "both sides" of "controversial issues"), I've long been skeptical that he would dare. Not only would he have little to gain politically, but I cannot think of anything more calculated to activate and unite the conservative base.

Via an email, I see a warning from FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell that reinstating the doctrine could wreak havoc with everything from children's TV regulations to public radio. McDowell also reminded the Media Institute of Barack Obama's apparent position against such a move:

FCC commissioner Robert McDowell had a message for Democrats, or anyone else contemplating trying to reimpose the fairness doctrine: The move could undermine the justification for existing localism and children's TV regulations, and could be used against public radio.


In the speech, McDowell cited candidate Barack Obama's statement to B&C--through an aide--that he did not support the doctrine, adding that the new administration has a terrific opportunity to enunciate its strong opposition to anything resembling the fairness doctrine.

He spoke at length about the doctrine's origins and its use by both Democrats and Republicans against their opponents. He said he did not know whether recent calls for its return would bear fruit, felt it was a good time to talk to his audience--of media executives, lobbyists, journalists and others--about its creation, its historical abuses, and the legal difficulties involved with restoring it and trying to enforce it.

McDowell warned that if the doctrine were revived, it might not "wear the same label. That's just Marketing 101: if your brand is controversial, make a new brand," he told his audience.

He suggested the doctrine could be woven into the fabric of policy initiatives with names like localism, diversity or network neutrality. "According to some, the premise of any of these initiatives is similar to the philosophical underpinnings of the Doctrine: the government must keep electronic conduits of information viewpoint neutral," he said.

McDowell suggested that a stealth version of the doctrine may already be teed up at the FCC in the form of community advisory boards to help determine local programming.

Great. Local boards consisting of ideologues with agendas.

A return to the Fairness Doctrine has something to hurt almost everyone -- including Internet users:

McDowell also said that efforts to reimpose the doctrine could stretch to cable, satellite, and even the Internet. "Certain legal commentators have suggested that a new corollary of the Doctrine should be fashioned for the Internet, on the theory that web surfers should be exposed to topics and views that they have not chosen for themselves," adding: "I am not making this up."

In a move obviously calculated to strike fear into the hearts of regulatory-minded Democrats, the same ones who have meen making noises about liking the fairness doctrine when it comes to reining in talk radio critics, McDowell had this:
"Actually, in a string of media cases stretching back over more than 20 years, various judges on the D.C. Circuit - both Democratic and Republican appointees - have suggested that it is time for the Supreme Court to rethink the concept of spectrum scarcity as a justification for limiting broadcasters' First Amendment rights. A revived Doctrine would provide a big, bright bulls-eye for those who wish to make that happen. That development would have implications far beyond the Doctrine itself. Much of our content regulation of broadcasters - including most of the FCC's existing localism rules and the regulations requiring three hours a week of children's programming - rest on the spectrum scarcity rationale. If that rationale is invalidated, serious legal challenges to all those other content rules may follow."

McDowell said he was hopeful that the Obama administration understood all this.

It's nice to have something to hope for, and I'm hopeful too!

posted by Eric at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

A Side Effect

The Dallas Morning News says Obama is going to have trouble to his south.

President Barack Obama's agenda is already packed to the brim with urgent domestic and international issues. Another item - Mexico - deserves a place high on his list, though it's rarely been apparent from Obama's campaign and post-election public statements that he shares our sense of concern.

Being from Chicago, and having spent the past few years in Washington, it's understandable why he might not have a Mexico-centric view of the world. That could change quickly.

A comprehensive immigration reform initiative looms. Aside from Mexico's status as America's third-largest trading partner and primary source of illegal immigrants, it is the main conduit for illicit drugs entering our country and the biggest customer of U.S. arms smugglers.

Last year, the rate of killings from Mexico's drug violence surpassed those in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The hideous nature of these deaths - beheadings, hangings and torture using acid - competes with the worst that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have inflicted. It is terrorism, and it is being fueled by thousands of U.S.-purchased weapons.

Except terror in Mexico is not fueled by gun smugglers. It is fueled by drug prohibition. The gun smuggling is just a side effect. You know, if you misdiagnose the cause you are going to have trouble curing the disease. Of course that may be exactly the intention of the new administration. To add a gun war to the drug war. Why cure the disease when it can be used as an excuse to bring in more "doctors"?

H/T Suzanne Wills from the Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Cease Fire?

Evidently Hamas was not really interested in a long cease fire with Israel. Ten days and the war is back on.

The Israeli military says one soldier has been killed and three wounded in a bomb attack on the Gaza-Israel border.

The bombing Tuesday marks the first serious clash along the border since a cease-fire began on Jan. 18, ending a punishing three-week offensive by Israel against Hamas.

No militant group has claimed responsibility, but a Hamas leader expressed support for the attack.

Swell. Just swell. Evidently Hamas has not yet had enough war. Here are some more details:
An Israeli jet broke the sound barrier and set off a loud sonic boom over Gaza City not long afterward, possibly as a warning, but there were no further reports of Israeli retaliation. Since ending a punishing three-week offensive against Hamas on Jan. 17, Israel has said it will respond in force to any attack from Gaza.

Israeli troops crossed the border fence into Gaza to search the immediate area of the bombing, defense officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines.

Israel closed its crossings into Gaza to humanitarian aid traffic after briefly opening them Tuesday morning. Gaza border official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials informed him the closure was due to the attack.

Naturally the Israelis are responding.
Eight Palestinians were reportedly wounded in the southern Gaza Strip Thursday when the IAF struck a vehicle in the town of Khan Yunis. Among the wounded were several children, according to Palestinian sources.

The strike targeted 25-year-old Mahmoud Hamdan Samiri, a Khan Yunis resident involved in the terrorist cell behind Tuesday's attack at the Kissufim crossing. In the attack, a roadside bomb killed one IDF soldier and wounded three others.

The air strike followed the firing of a Kassam rocket Thursday morning which fell in an open area near the town of Sderot. No one was wounded in the rocket attack and no damage was reported. It was the second rocket fired into Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead eleven days ago.

The rocket attack came after an IAF jet struck a weapon manufacturing facility in the Rafah area late on Wednesday night, in response to another Kassam rocket fired from the Strip at Israel several hours earlier. The IDF identified an accurate hit. The rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol region, causing no casualties or damage.

As far as I can see the purpose of these attacks is to keep the border crossings between Israel and Gaza closed and to see if Hamas can get some more of their human shields killed. Dead human shields make for great headlines. And of course it is an embarrassment for Obama who just sent George Mitchell to Israel to help foster peace.

Evidently Obama the peacemaker hasn't devoted enough effort to the Israel/Hamas conflict yet. This may just be the Hamas response to Obama's attempts to make peace between Hamas and Israel a priority. It was a fools errand to begin with. And Hamas is illustrating with action that they will do to Obama what Palestinians have done to every other President who made Israeli/Palestinian peace a priority. Make a fool of him. George Bush had a better idea. Let the parties involved come to their own resolution in their own way. You know, maybe that Bush guy understood the dynamics of the Hamas/Israel conflict better than the new guy.

What next? I think Iran will be further testing Obama. I think I made a point during the election that electing a guy who had zero military experience and was predisposed to a kumbayah approach to foreign policy was a bad idea. I guess we are stuck with that bad idea for another three years, eleven months, and three weeks.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

The Pentagon's LEDs

The Pentagon is switching to LEDs.

Cree, Inc. announced that more than 4,200 LR24 recessed LEDluminaires are planned for installation in Wedge 5 of the Pentagon as partof a major renovation currently underway. In a signing ceremony today at the Pentagon, John J. Kubricky, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Advanced Systems and Concepts, and Albert C. Ellet, acting director of the Washington Headquarters Service responsible for overseeing the renovation, signed an intra-departmental Memorandum of Agreement kicking-off the initiative to install LED lighting in the Pentagon.

The Cree LR24 luminaires have undergone extensive government testing and business-case analysis, including a preliminary Pentagon installation to meter the fixtures and compare the results to the alternative fluorescent technology. This independent analysis demonstrated a 22-percent reduction in energy usage and improved light quality.

The business-case analysis yielded a payback of less than four years. The payback analysis considered energy savings, lifetime maintenance savings, savings from reduced load on the HVAC system, and elimination of hazardous waste disposal fees for mercury-laden fluorescent bulbs.

Now that is a valuable study. What it says is that LEDs are viable if you have to pay people to change lamps and since the lamps are rated for 50,000 hours (over 5 1/2 years) in continuous use it is like getting the last year and a half free if break even is 4 years. Ultimately their value will be in being able to tune the colors as well as the brightness. Red, green, blue. In any mixture (the LR24 is only red and green). And there is only one way their price can go from here. Down. Making the business case even better.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:31 AM | Comments (2)

Death Of A Religion

It seems like the climate consensus is dying.

"Vice President Gore and the other promoters of man-made climate fears endless claims that the "debate is over" appear to be ignoring scientific reality," Senator James Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee.

A U.S. Senate Minority Report released in December 2008 details over 650 international scientists who are dissenting from man-made global warming fears promoted by the UN and yourself. Many of the scientists profiled are former UN IPCC scientists and former believers in man-made climate change that have reversed their views in recent years. The report continues to grow almost daily. We have just received a request from an Italian scientist, and a Czech scientist to join the 650 dissenting scientists report. A chemist from the U.S. Naval Academy is about to be added, and more Japanese scientists are dissenting. Finally, many more meteorologists will be added and another former UN IPCC scientist is about to be included. These scientists are openly rebelling against the climate orthodoxy promoted by Gore and the UN IPCC.

The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. Reports from the conference found that Skeptical scientists overwhelmed the meeting, with '2/3 of presenters and question-askers hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC' ( See full reports here & here ] In addition, a 2008 canvass of more than 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global warming science is "settled." A November 25, 2008, article in Politico noted that a "growing accumulation" of science is challenging warming fears, and added that the "science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation." More evidence that the global warming fear machine is breaking down. Russian scientists "rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming". An American Physical Society editor conceded that a "considerable presence" of scientific skeptics exists. An International team of scientists countered the UN IPCC, declaring: "Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate". India Issued a report challenging global warming fears. International Scientists demanded the UN IPCC "be called to account and cease its deceptive practices."

Deceptive practices in science? I'm shocked. Now I do admit that science is self correcting over time because doubt rules science. But from time to time so does the Madness of Crowds.

H/T Watts Up With That?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:49 PM | Comments (3)

A New Kind Of Transistor

There is some very promising research that promises the development of a new kind of transistor.

A team of Duke University chemists has modified a method for growing long, straight, numerous and well-aligned carbon cylinders only a few atoms thick that paves the way for manufacturing reliable electronic nanocircuits.

The team had already described a method last April for growing the crystals, but the modification is targeted at making a process specifically for producing semiconducting versions of the single-walled carbon nanotubes, sometimes called "buckytubes" because their ends, when closed, take the form of soccer ball-shaped carbon-60 molecules known as buckminsterfullerines, or "buckyballs".

The effort is being led by Jie Liu, Duke's Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard professor of chemistry.

"I think it's the holy grail for the field," Liu said. "Every piece is now there, including the control of location, orientation and electronic properties all together. We are positioned to make large numbers of electronic devices such as high-current field-effect transistors and sensors."

A report on their achievement, co-authored by Liu and a team of collaborators from his Duke laboratory and Peking University in China, has just been published in the research journal Nano Letters.

What does this portend? Well quite a few things actually. Carbon Nano Tubes (CNTs) are five times as conductive as copper, electron mobility is about 70 times that of silicon and it should be able to withstand much higher temperatures than silicon without losing its semiconducting properties. Not only that, the material is abundant. So once the manufacturing process is worked out it will mean high power, low loss, extremely high speed transistors.

How soon you ask? First off not all the bugs have been worked out in the laboratory models.

That earlier JACS report described how the researchers coaxed nanotubes to form in long, parallel paths that will not cross each other to impede potential electronic performance. Their method grows the nanotubes on a template made of a continuous and unbroken kind of single quartz crystal used in electronic applications. Copper is also used as a growth promoter.

But that method left one unresolved issue blocking the use of such nanotubes as electronic components. Only some of the resulting nanotubes acted electronically as semiconductors. Others were the electronic equivalent of metals. To work in transistors, the nanotubes must all be semiconducting, Liu said.

The researchers now say they have achieved virtually all-semiconductor growth conditions by making one modification.

In their earlier work they had used the alcohol ethanol in the feeder gas to provide carbon atoms as building blocks for the growing nanotubes. In the new work, they describe how they tried various ratios of two alcohols--ethanol and methanol--combined with two other gases they also used previously--argon and hydrogen.

"We found that by using the right combination of the two alcohols with the argon and hydrogen we could grow exclusively semiconducting nanotubes," Liu said. "It was like operating a tuning knob." The inert argon gas was used to provide a steady feed of the ethanol and methanol, with hydrogen to keep the copper catalyst from oxidizing.

After making the nanotubes by chemical vapor deposition in a small furnace set to a temperature of 900°C, the researchers assembled some of them into field-effect transistors to test their electronic properties.

"We have estimated from these measurements that the samples consisted of 95 to 98 percent semiconducting nanotubes," the researchers reported.

Now that is probably good enough for first generation transistors in some applications if those kind of numbers can be achieved in production. However what you want for general use is 99.9% or 99.99% semiconducting CNTs. The more nines the better. So how soon? I'd say pilot production in five years, and full scale production (10s of millions of devices) in about eight years. Fortunately it builds on the base of silicon semiconductor production so the equipment needed is likely to be very similar to what is already in use.

The best power conversion equipment we have using silicon has efficiencies topping out at around 95% with the more typical units running at 85% to 90% efficiency. With these new devices we could reach 99% or better. They could also mean 20 times faster computers that use 1/10th as much power as current devices. Considering that we already have chips on the market that deliver 25,000 MIPS for 360 milliwatts that would be something. It would be roughly equivalent to 1,000 Cray 1s in your pocket that could be powered from an AA cell for a month. Cell phones could run for weeks on a charge. Laptops that could run for many days. Faster please.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

Meanwhile in Ann Arbor....

The things I miss, being here in Berkeley!

Back in Ann Arbor, terrorism has been redefined -- by two experts on the subject. I refer to Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn -- who were promoting their new book to a standing room only crowd at the University of Michigan:

...when their talk at the University of Michigan on Monday evening was opened up to questions, the audience wasted no time in asking it.

Did the two former leaders of the Weathermen, a violent anti-war group that bombed banks and government buildings in the 1960s and '70s, reject their own acts of terrorism, a member of the packed audience wanted to know.

"We don't think, individually or as a group, that we were terrorists," Dohrn replied.

"We never did, and we don't think terrorism is a good idea. But the Weather Underground broke through a lot of barriers - there were 2,000 people dying a week in Vietnam, and we had 500,000 soldiers occupying a tiny country, involved in acts that would be considered war crimes by today's framework. I don't defend it, but I do insist on explaining it."

Ayers pointed to his 2001 book, "Fugitive Days: A Memoir," as "one long explanation and reflection on how people like us could be put in a place like that."

"It's not so easy to say, 'I am completely nonviolent,' because there is violence being carried on this minute in the names of everyone of us in this room. So to sit on your couch and think you're exempt from violence because you're not doing anything ... well, that's too easy."

The couple, who married while fugitives in the 1970s, were in Ann Arbor to promote their new book, "Race Course: Against White Supremacy" (Third World Press).

I was told that the place was completely packed, with long lines and no way to get in. Obviously, they're very popular.

Certainly they're good with words, and the eager college kids no doubt look up to them.

As a former rhetoric major, I must say I enjoy the false dichotomy between terrorism and nonviolence. Such conflation! And the line "how people like us could be put in a place like that" (as if other people were responsible for their actions) is also very, um, clever.

But where were the clever student Republicans?

I mean, you'd think someone in the crowd could have asked Bill whether he wrote Obama's book....

posted by Eric at 11:07 AM | Comments (4)

Your Typical Palestinian Wants War

Eric posted a bit entitled Your typical Jew wants war? in which he discusses Obama's statement:

There are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace.
The best answer to that is something I read yesterday by Professor Barry Rubin. I'm posting it in its entirety because it explains the Palestinian politics behind the recent Israeli punitive expedition in Gaza.



By Barry Rubin

There was an election on Hamas's mind when it cancelled the ceasefire with Israel, leading to the Gaza war. But it wasn't the February Israeli election but rather the January Palestinian non-election.

Four years ago, Mahmoud Abbas was elected leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for a two-year term. Two years ago, Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliamentary election. Hamas then made a coalition agreement with its rival Fatah, which previously controlled the PA. Shortly thereafter, Hamas staged a bloody coup and threw Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. But Fatah, and Abbas, still controls the internationally recognized PA and the West Bank.

While Hamas and Israel went to war, Israel and the PA remained at peace. The war had nothing to do with Israel-Palestinian relations as such but as a response to Hamas's extremism, rejecting not only any comprehensive peace agreement with Israel but even a real truce. How, then, does this triangular relationship figure in Palestinian politics?

Analysts have generally ignored the proximity of Hamas's decision for war to its impending January 2009 showdown with Abbas, Fatah, and the PA. It was widely predicted that Abbas was going to announce that, given the impossibility of holding new elections, he would simply extend his term for another year.

The event was expected to mark a major widening of the rift between the two groups. Hamas, it was thought, would declare Abbas a usurper, name its own candidate for "president," and the establishment of two rival Palestinian governments would be complete.

Even before that date, the PA had apparently enjoyed some real success--with Israeli help--in reducing Hamas's organization on the West Bank, ensuring any takeover bid there would be impossible, and making progress toward restoring order and even improving the economy.

Hamas no doubt saw choosing war as a way of upstaging Abbas, showing that it was the real fighter for Palestinian rights (principally the right to wipe Israel off the map), and even attracting support from some Fatah men who concluded that Hamas was macho and their own organization was too meek. In effect, it was a reiteration of traditional Palestinian politics in which those who take the most extreme action, evidence the greatest intransigence, and kill the most Israelis prove their credentials for leadership.

In practice, though, Hamas played into Abbas's hands. Now he has the perfect rationale to insist that elections cannot be held--which is, of course quite true--and he must remain as leader for the indefinite future.

Despite this, the relationship between Hamas and Fatah remain quite complex. It seems bizarre that Hamas set off a civil war, murdered Fatah men in cold blood, and kicked the group out of Gaza yet still most of Fatah is ready to forgive it. There is a strong likelihood that if given the choice, Fatah leaders--though not necessarily Abbas himself--would prefer conciliation with Hamas, which would make any peace with Israel impossible--to making a diplomatic deal with Israel and getting a Palestinian state.

From Israel's standpoint, of course, how can it negotiate any comprehensive solution with the PA when it cannot deliver half of the territory, people, and armed men who are supposed to be bound by such an agreement? Moreover, the possibility that either Hamas will overthrow Fatah at some future point or even that the two will join together in a new war against Israel rather puts a damper on Israeli willingness to make concessions.

The paradox of a simultaneous blood feud and brotherly love relationship between the two Palestinian organizations is explained by the supposed sanctity of being fellow Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians, coupled with a deep and abiding loathing of Israel.

Yet this also coexists with such deep Fatah anger at Hamas that interviewed Fatah cadre told reporters that they were glad Israel was trouncing Hamas in Gaza Strip. The solution of this paradox was for the official PA line to be: it's all Hamas's fault but there should be an immediate ceasefire and Israel is behaving in a beastly way.

This approach is strengthened by the fact that most Arab states and a surprising amount of the media (albeit in many cases the two are identical) are taking a similar line. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the smaller Gulf states and more--pretty much all the leaders except for Syria--hate Hamas. They see it as an agent of Iran, meaning a friend of their Islamist opponents.

If Fatah were more adept politically, it could benefit from this situation. A clever and active policy would combine an energetic campaign to unite the Arab states behind the PA, while persuading the UN and West that they should ensure its restoration to power in the Gaza Strip as the "legitimate government." The Fatah underground in the Gaza Strip would be reinforced and figure out some way (even with a little secret coordination with Israel) to oust Hamas and seize power at least in sections of the territory.

Yet both the PA and Fatah lack the will power and political skill to take advantage of such a promising situation. They are sitting back and hoping that someone--though not Israel--will give them back the Gaza Strip on a silver platter. The problem also includes their lack of charismatic leadership and failure to deal seriously with the problems that led them to being kicked out by the election: corruption, incompetence, and the failure to articulate a moderate vision of achievable peace with Israel.

No outside power, including Israel, and no amount of money can make up for the shortcomings of the PA and Fatah. Thus, it is much easier for Hamas to lose the war than for the nationalist forces to win.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include:

Revolution Until Victory?: The Politics and History of the PLO,

Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography.

The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict

The Tragedy of the Middle East

The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Big Shipping Decline

Trucking tonnage declined by a seasonally adjusted 11.1% in December. Which puts us back to the level of December 2000. Very serious to be sure. The end of the world? I doubt it. However we still may have further to fall.

As the Obama administration is fervently working on an economic stimulus package the get the U.S. economy on track, it is clear the freight transportation market is still feeling the pain, based on the most recent truck tonnage index release from the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

The ATA said its advanced seasonally-adjusted For Hire Truck Tonnage Index sank 11.1 percent in December, representing the largest month-to-month reduction since April 1994, when the unionized less-than-truckload industry was in a labor strike. The ATA added that December's tally marks the third largest single monthly drop since the ATA began collecting tonnage data in 1973.

The ATA said the seasonally-adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index in December was 98.3 (2000=100), which represented its lowest level since December 2000. On a year-over-year basis, the index was down 14.1 percent, which is the biggest year-over-year decrease since February 1996. During the fourth quarter, tonnage was down 6.0 percent from the same quarter in 2007, according to ATA data.

How about a little explanation of what this means for the economy? Coming right up.
"Motor carrier freight is a reflection of the tangible-goods economy, and December's numbers leave no doubt that the United States is in the worst recession in decades," said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. "It is likely truck tonnage will not improve much before the third quarter of this year. The economy is expected to contract through the first half of 2009 and then only grow slightly through the end of the year."

Costello's outlook is in line with what has been a difficult period for the freight transportation sector. Aside from the advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increasing 1.7 percent in November, which was the first month-to-month improvement since June 2008. But prior to that, the ATA said that the index contracted a 6.3 percent from June through October.

"With consumer demand falling, inventories are getting stretched out and new orders delayed, and that means lower shipping volumes, which ripples right through the trucking industry," said a trucking industry executive whom declined to be identified. "Many shippers have begun looking seriously at carrier financial stability. They can't afford to lose even one customer to a service failure, so reliability is more important today than it has ever been."

Now if we could just get the government to stop fooling with the economy maybe things would have a chance to reach an equilibrium on their own. All the government is doing is adding uncertainty and dead weight to the economy. It seems that the geniuses in government don't understand that the purpose of recessions is to shed dead weight. Once enough dead weight is shed uncertainty declines and we are prepared for the next advance.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

Your typical Jew wants war?
There are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace.
So said Barack Obama, in a statement that strikes me as a tad condescending.

I realize that everyone is obsessed with the economy right now, but when coupled with the fact that Obama's first presidential interview is with an Arab network, might the above indicate that a rather major change in foreign policy be in the offing?

MORE: In other news, (doubtless because January 27 is international Holocaust memorial day), the Iranian government has branded the Holocaust a "Big Lie":

"The Holocaust is a concept coming from a big lie in order to settle a rootless regime in the heart of the Islamic world," Gholam Hossein Elham told a conference on Gaza in central Iran's religious city of Qom.

It was not the first time an Iranian official has questioned the massacre of Jews by Nazis in World War II.

Iran does not recognise Israel, and since his election in 2005 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has attracted international condemnation by repeatedly predicting that the Jewish state is doomed to disappear.

In late 2005 Ahmadinejad branded the Holocaust a "myth." His comment was followed by a conference in Tehran in 2006 that brought together Holocaust deniers and revisionists.

Unless I'm misreading him, President Obama seems to think it's just fine to do business with the author of these monstrous, ongoing remarks:
Obama also emphasized the importance of engaging with Iran, a country the Bush administration often singled out as the most dangerous in the region.

Obama condemned Iran's threats against Israel, pursuit of nuclear weapons and support of terrorist organizations, but said "it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress."

What's that supposed to mean? Constructive Engagement?

(It didn't work out terribly well for Reagan...)

posted by Eric at 01:30 AM | Comments (0)

A single nuclear free day can ruin your nice junkyard!

Beautiful sunset today, right in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, which only happens twice a year.


Of course, the indoor sun never sets.


Earlier today I met a charming pit bull named Willis, who was employed as a classic junkyard dog, shown here chained to his cylinder head:


I like the "Have A Nice Day" slogan on the mat.

Speaking of slogans, Berkeley still has those ridiculous "NUCLEAR FREE ZONE" signs at every entrance to the city (their replacement costing the city lots of money every time they're stolen by sign collectors, of course):


The sun never sets on idiocy.

posted by Eric at 10:41 PM | Comments (2)

Azam Ali - Niyaz

More YouTube Azam Ali.

Azam Ali at Amazon.

The Azam Ali wiki.

H/T Dani

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

At The Movies

Catherine Austin Fitts has a blog post that says we can learn a lot about how the real world works by going to the movies.

Michael Corleone: "My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator."
Kay Adams: "Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed."
Michael Corleone: "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?"
- The Godfather, Part I

A true family is a group of people who invest in each other's skills and future. Within such a family, no person is expendable.

Throughout history, financial wealth has been organized around families. Many of the powerful institutions in our society, in fact, represent intergenerational pools of capital -- for example, the Bechtel Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Glenmede Trust Company

If we are to build a strong economy, it will be made up of strong families. Either families in the traditional sense, or families that we create. Many of us are members of families that, like the Corleone family in The Godfather series, have been torn apart by the manipulation of our ambition, greed, and naivete by powerful financial and business interests. Husbands and wives are turned against one another. Children and parents disappoint each other and grow apart. Sibling rivalry threatens family interests.

Most of us assume that The Godfather films -- Part I, Part II, Part III -- are movies about an organized crime family. The reality is that we all live inside The Godfather's world. The Godfather series has much to teach us about navigating in our current environment.

Read the whole thing. Especially check out the comments.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:03 PM | Comments (5)

Banks Still Getting Illegal Cash

It looks like illegal cash may be the only thing keeping some banks afloat.

The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Of course if drugs were legal that cash flow would stop. Which is a very good reason for bankers to be against legalization. After all the drug money allows them to live in a better neighborhood. And there is no war going on in such neighborhoods. A win-win. Except for the poor suckers stuck in the war zone. You know. THOSE people.

If you want to read deeper into the subject may I suggest:

Narco Dollars 1
Narco Dollars 2
Narco Dollars 3

By Catherine Austin Fitts, Assistant Secretary of the Federal Housing Commission under Bush 1, and a former managing director and member of the board of directors of Dillon Read & Co, Inc. She says that it will help your understanding to read the novel Black Money by Michael Thomas. You can also visit her blog Catherine Austin Fitts blog for the latest in financial news. You can also read Narco Dollars in a black on white format at Narco Dollars.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)

Hussein Chooses The Arabs

In an effort to appear even handed in his dealings with the world Barack Hussein Obama has chosen Al-Arabiya for his first interview.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy."

The interview underscored Obama's commitment to repair relations with the Muslim world that have suffered under the previous administration.

The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama told the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel.

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."

I think it is always good to know who owns your president. Bought and paid for by the Muslim world. So that brings us to the second question. Iran or Saudi Arabia?
Al-Arabiya has scored interviews with top U.S. officials in the past, including Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Saudi-owned channel is seen by some in Washington as more balanced in its coverage than its Qatar-funded rival Al-Jazeera, which the previous White House administration complained had an anti-American bias.

Obama called for a new partnership with the Muslim world "based on mutual respect and mutual interest." He talked about growing up in Indonesia, the Muslim world's most populous nation, and noted that he has Muslim relatives.

It looks like Saudi Arabia today. But with Hussein you never know. Every promise Hussein makes comes with an expiration date. He is pretty much the definition of a dishonest politician. He doesn't stay bought.

Well no matter. However, you would think as a symbolic gesture Obama could have at least pretended to be an American for his first TV interview. It is going to be a very long three years and three hundred and fifty-eight days.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

Obama Trying To Sink Auto Industry

Making things is magic and changing the way things are made doesn't cost much. At least according to Mr. Obama who wants states to be in the Federal regulation business when it comes to automobiles.

President Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday.

The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.

Mr. Obama's presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush administration's past rejection of the California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the Bush decision reversed, the agency's regulators are now widely expected to do so after completing a formal review process.

Once they act, automobile manufacturers will quickly have to retool to begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, and on a faster phase-in schedule. The auto companies have lobbied hard against the regulations and challenged them in court.

The auto companies are already reeling from the bad economy and now they will be forced to re-tool their whole business. Quickly. And why does he think American auto companies are in trouble? Not enough cars of tomorrow. Seriously. It is not the unions. It is not the management. It is not quality problems. It is a lack of futuristic thinking.
The first memorandum ordered the Transportation Department to work out rules for automakers to improve fuel economy. It calls for the department to notify automakers by March 2009 to increase their fuel efficiency for 2011 model year cars and trucks.
The design cycle for a modified production vehicle is three to four years depending on the extent of the modifications. These would be vehicles that could be built on current production lines with existing tooling and includes a shakedown period to test the new designs and get the bugs out. Now consider that the 2011 model year goes on sale in late 2010. So by government fiat he is going to get a 3 to 4 year process compressed into 18 months. The man is a miracle worker. Ah. But that is not the worst of it. If the mandates require a major redesign it can take about 5 to 6 years to get the logistics in place. Here are the general steps:

New design
Place Orders
Design new factories
Build Factory Eqpt
Negotiate work rules with unions (Detroit)
Train workers
Run Pre-Production Prototypes
Debug factories
Modify factories

And he can reduce a process that takes from 3 to 6 years into 18 months by fiat? The man is a genius. Let us consider WW2 production. The rule was that in the first year (if the design was ready to go) 1 to 10 units. In the second year hundreds. In the third year - as many as you want. And that was in a simpler time when government hadn't saddled industry with a morass of regulations. Mr Obama is simply ignorant of logistics. He is operating under the rubric of "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And of course since Mr. Obama is not a maker he has gone one step further and assumed that making things is magic and the normal rules of the universe do not apply. Time, space, energy, and the necessity to create the requsite ideas are instantly erased. You just think of what you want, wave the magic wand and presto. A million copies of your fantastic idea magically appear.

Obama said the fix will help the auto industry produce a viable product.

"We must help them thrive by building the cars of tomorrow," he said in an announcement before a live audience in the East Room of the White House.

Obama said that Washington must help states on tougher fuel standards, not work against them, and yet year after year, special interests have overshadowed common sense and rhetoric has supplanted the hard work needed to yield results.

"America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources," he said. "The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts. We will be guided by them. ... We cannot afford to pass the buck."

The second memorandum ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California's request for a waiver from the Clean Air Act -- a move that would allow California, the nation's most populous state, to set tougher tailpipe emission standards than apply nationally.

"Each step begins to move us in a new direction while giving us the tools that we need to change," Obama said.

Is he really serious about not being held hostage to dwindling resources? So where is his proposal for increasing American oil production? Not in evidence. And letting states determine what can be sold in their individual markets? That means the rules of the game will be changing frequently. Which is very bad for logistics planning. Every new rule or addition delays the production process. Mr. Obama needs to read a book. I suggest this one to start: Fundamentals of Production Planning and Control.

This whole deal can only end badly. Very badly. What ever happened to the administration that was supposed to be guided by science? By understanding of the fundamentals of engineering and technology? I guess we are fortunate that we have not elected a manager. We have instead elected a magician. God help us. Because it is obvious Mr. Obama will not.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:42 PM | Comments (8)

Cosmic Rays Measure Stratosphere

Muons are measuring the heating up of the stratosphere.

Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and led by scientists from the UK's National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), this remarkable study shows how the number of high-energy cosmic-rays reaching a detector deep underground, closely matches temperature measurements in the upper atmosphere (known as the stratosphere). For the first time, scientists have shown how this relationship can be used to identify weather events that occur very suddenly in the stratosphere during the Northern Hemisphere winter. These events can have a significant effect on the severity of winters we experience, and also on the amount of ozone over the poles - being able to identify them and understand their frequency is crucial for informing our current climate and weather-forecasting models to improve predictions.

Working in collaboration with a major U.S.-led particle physics experiment called MINOS (managed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory), the scientists analysed a four-year record of cosmic-ray data detected in a disused iron-mine in the U.S. state of Minnesota. What they observed was a strikingly close relationship between the cosmic-rays and stratospheric temperature - this they could understand: the cosmic-rays, known as muons are produced following the decay of other cosmic rays, known as mesons. Increasing the temperature of the atmosphere expands the atmosphere so that fewer mesons are destroyed on impact with air, leaving more to decay naturally to muons. Consequently, if temperature increases so does the number of muons detected.

What did surprise the scientists, however, were the intermittent and sudden increases observed in the levels of muons during the winter months. These jumps in the data occurred over just a few days. On investigation, they found these changes coincided with very sudden increases in the temperature of the stratosphere (by up to 40 oC in places!). Looking more closely at supporting meteorological data, they realised they were observing a major weather event, known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming. On average, these occur every other year and are notoriously unpredictable. This study has shown, for the first time, that cosmic-ray data can be used effectively to identify these events.

Of course if you can measure the events in real time you have a better chance of finding out what causes them. And that means we might learn some things about climate that are not yet in the climate models. Which because they include all the known data can predict what the climate will be like in a century. Except for the fact that there are a lot of known unknowns that the models leave out. Like the effect of Ultraviolet Radiation on the atmosphere. And then there are the unknown unknowns. Oh well. I think I can confidently predict what will be found. Man made CO2 is definitely causing global warming because that is the consensus.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:51 AM | Comments (2)

Crackdown Crackup

The crackdown on drug gangs in Mexico is leading to a crackup.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- In this carnage-racked border city of 1.3 million, more than 80 murders have been clocked in the past three weeks, and kidnappings, extortions, robberies and rapes further bedevil an already rattled population.

So far, the new year looks to be bringing as much if not more havoc than the last. The demons are loose.

"Walking in the streets of Juárez is an extreme sport," said political scientist Tony Payan, an expert on border violence, repeating a grim quip making the rounds.

Though little more than 1 percent of Mexico's 105 million population lives in Juárez, it accounted for a third of the country's nearly 5,400 gangland murders last year, according to the federal government. And with President Felipe Calderón's war on the country's powerful drug syndicates unlikely to abate, this city bordering El Paso looks to remain a prime battleground.

Some U.S. security experts warn that Mexico teeters on meltdown -- of being a "failed state." Irritated Mexican leaders shrug off the notion, but Juárez's criminal chaos wails like a siren before an approaching storm.

That is pretty bad and predicted to get worse. In the mean time Guatemala has a better idea.
Guatemala is so overrun by drug traffickers that in 2005 its top anti-drug minister was arrested in the U.S. for smuggling cocaine. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials describe the country as "the biggest conduit of Colombian cocaine to Mexico," where only 2% of murders are prosecuted.

"Guatemala is the closest thing we have to a failed state in Central America," says Kevin Casas-Zamora, former vice president of Costa Rica and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Yet somehow a complete surrender to the narcotics trade has left Guatemala better off than its neighbors. Wanton political and judicial corruption have, if anything, greased the wheels of business interests and kept violent crime rates below that for its regional neighbors.

So let me see if I have this straight. Let the drug gangs control the drug trade without interference and violence goes down. Interfere with their business and violence goes up. In other words de facto legalization works. I wonder what de jure legalization would look like? Maybe we could get the violence down without corruption. Then you have to ask yourself what would politicians do for a living? Simple. There is always infrastructure. Say isn't that new guy from Chicago big on infrastructure? Hmmmm. I think he has a plan.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

A Marijuana Culture

About 36 minutes into the video is a report on Garberville, California. I used to live in a small town near there called Briceland. This was in the late 60s well before Garberville became known as a center for marijuana growing. My favorite recollection is a party at some people's house (near Whitethorn as I recollect) where there was an electric violinist. I had a lot of fun jamming with him. I played a Marine Band harmonica. The interplay of the sounds of the violin and harmonica harmonics was just amazing. I'm surprised that no band features that combination of instruments.

BTW near the end of the video a DEA agent says that given the increases from year to year and over the decades of marijuana cultivation that they are losing the war on pot. There are more gardens than they can deal with. Supply and demand. Works every time. In fact things have gotten so bad that we are importing Mexican gangsters to make up for the shortage of American gangsters. Supply and demand. Works every time. Evidently the Mexicans are willing to do work that Americans are not interested in. You know, there was a time (Alcohol Prohibition) when we didn't have to import gangsters. You have to wonder what has gone wrong with the American work ethic.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:09 PM | Comments (2)

Hamas Wants More War

Mr. Obama the great peace maker whose policy in the Middle East is peace, peace, and more peace, because there is nothing like a peaceful peace to make you feel at peace said:

"It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors," he said.
Lovely sentiment. However it appears he is going to have a spot of bother with some of the peace loving people of the Middle East. Like the fellows who control Gaza, Hamas. One of them, Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan, had some words about peace.
He maintained that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had ended.
I wonder if that means that Hamas is temporarily out of rockets?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

White Males Need Not Apply

Evidently there are going to be racial quotas for construction workers. Or As Mr. Reich might put it somewhat more artfully: "Some of my best friends are white people, but we should do our best to see that their job opportunities are limited."

I'm starting to get Rev. Lowery's Inauguration benediction.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, and when white will embrace what is right.
White people are now going to be working for people of color. Nothing wrong with that. If it is voluntary.

I thought Obama and his administration were supposed to be post racialist. You know what Martin Luther King Jr. said.

I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions.
I guess the government has a plan to separate us according to skin color. Reverse Jim Crow.

You know, I'm thinking more and more that Mr. Obama has a great future. As an ex-President. I didn't march, and demonstrate, and petition in the 60s for this crap.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:03 AM | Comments (6)

Sgt. Mom Says I Should Flog Her Books

Sgt. Mom says I should flog her books. They do get good reviews.

An outstanding set of historical novels, December 12, 2008

By Al Past (Beeville, TX USA)

Is there anything better than a good book? Better than a book that tells an absorbing story, that's peopled with characters you care about, living through exciting times, set among real events, and that leaves you with a better understanding as well as thoroughly entertained?

Of course there is something better: two books like that. And even better still, three. The Adelsverein Trilogy, by Celia Hayes, is such a trilogy. What The Leopard does for Italy and Gone With the Wind does for the American South, The Adelsverein Trilogy does for Texas, and does it in style.

That review was specifically for: Adelsverein the Gathering - Book One of The Adelsverein Trilogy. The other two books in the trilogy are:
Adelsverein: The Sowing - Book Two of the Adelsverein Trilogy
Adelsverein: The Harvesting - Book Three of the Adelsverein Trilogy

So if you need a little reading material for these cold (what ever happened to global warming?) winter days, buy the books.

Note: Sgt. Mom also has her own blog at Salon.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:20 PM | Comments (1)

An Insufficiency Of Troops

When he was campaigning for President Mr. Obama thought that bombing people was bad.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Asked whether he would move U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism elsewhere, he brought up Afghanistan and said, "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."

Evidently he has changed his mind.
Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:11 pm ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Suspected U.S. missiles killed 18 people on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border Friday, security officials said, the first attacks on the al-Qaida stronghold since President Barack Obama took office. At least five foreign militants were among those killed in the strikes by unmanned aircraft in two parts of the frontier region, an intelligence official said without naming them. There was no information on the identities of the others.

Pakistan's leaders had expressed hope Obama might halt the strikes, but few observers expected he would end a tactic that U.S. officials say has killed several top al-Qaida operatives and is denying the terrorist network a long-held safe haven.

Good to see Mr. Obama decisively putting into action the policies that he really believes in. Those of George Bush.

Happy days are here again. I wonder if he has any plans to bomb Iran after Pakistan?

H/T Pal2Pal

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:32 PM | Comments (4)

Underground Racism
A lot of folks think that the Black Lawn Jockey is a symbol of racism. Well no. They were actually used as markers for the Underground Railway.
I knew this because my Quaker GGGrandfather's farm was a stop on the Underground Railway and he suffered for it. When we traveled back and forth across the Mason-Dixon line when I was growing up, my Dad would give me a nickel for every lawn jockey I spotted and then use my interest as a time to teach the history of the struggle to protect the slaves, who had escaped North with the help of my Quaker ancestors and their friends..

I agree with the statement: "Oftentimes, PC insanity destroys meaningful history."

The wiki attributes the creation of the Black Lawn Jockeys to George Washington who created the first one to honor a hero of the Revolutionary War.

So I guess honoring a Black hero is now proof of racism. Well OK. We can fix that.

I hope everyone is satisfied.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:00 PM | Comments (3)

How do you spell relief?

A friend emailed me a link to a Smoking Gun article titled "The Audacity Of Dope -- Cops: New York dealers sold heroin branded with president's name":

JANUARY 23--Add heroin to the scores of products that have been branded with President Barack Obama's name. Cops in upstate New York this week broke up a drug ring that allegedly sold heroin under several brand names, including "Obama." As seen in Sullivan County Sheriff's Office photos, the president's surname was stamped in red ink on small glassine wrappers that were peddled by street dealers.
Wow. The man's only been president for four days, and already there are distinct signs of economic growth! Who would have expected to see such progress so soon?

I'm thinking maybe the dealers have taken to heart that pledge Glenn linked the other day:

I pledge to be a servant to our president and all mankind.
Every little bit counts.

If only we could all, um, do our part!


One thing, though. Isn't it obvious from the picture that there's too much government interference with the economy?

posted by Eric at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

DeFacto Legalization

It seems that America (at least in El Paso, Texas) has given up on the drug war. Why? Because they know that what is happening in Juarez, Mexico is just a crackdown away.

Yet what is happening on the other side of the border -- a vicious turf battle prompted by Mexican government efforts to crack down on the cartels -- is taking its toll here in myriad ways. Americans have cut back on visiting their relatives in Mexico, and Mexicans, too, venture to the American side in smaller numbers, either because they are afraid to leave their homes at night or because they lack money.

The local public hospital in El Paso has treated 48 people wounded in gun battles in Mexico in the last year, and law enforcement officials in the United States spend much of their time trying to figure out how to prevent the violence from spilling over into their jurisdictions.

"It's just lawless over there -- it's complete lawlessness," said Fernando Apodaca, an El Paso insurance agent, echoing the views of many Americans here. "The criminals have the run of the city."

Apodaca, 47, stopped crossing the border on business, as he had for his entire adult life, after his car was stolen at gunpoint on Sept. 17 in broad daylight.

Experts say many factors have kept violence at bay in El Paso, from a high concentration of law enforcement officials because of border operations to fear of the death penalty in Texas.

But some have other theories. Cook, for one, thinks the problems in Juárez began when a Mexican crackdown on drug dealers backfired. The operation smashed the drug-distribution network on the Mexican side, leading to turf wars. That has not happened on the United States side, Cook said, but if it did, he said, a similar crime wave could erupt.

Worries that the violence in Mexico could spread to the United States reach to the highest levels of the federal government. Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the Bush administration had laid plans to send a surge of federal agents and soldiers to trouble spots if the violence spilled over.

The conflict in Juárez has led some in El Paso to propose radical solutions. In a symbolic resolution of support for Juárez, the El Paso City Council recently voted unanimously to ask Washington to consider legalizing drugs as a way to end the violence. "We think it should at least be on the table," Councilman Beto O'Rourke said. On Monday, the Council backed down after the mayor vetoed the resolution and local members of Congress warned that the Council's stance might imperil federal aid.

Still, the failed measure was a sign of the general longing here for a return to the relatively peaceful days before December 2006, when the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, began the current campaign to wipe out the drug cartels.

So there you have it the long and the short. War in the streets or leave the drug vendors alone. It looks to me like the choice has been made.

In my town there was a huge drug raid 20 years ago (I had Federal agents swarming around the apt. bldg. where I lived. One of the drug kingpins lived next door to me. And he was a rather pleasant fellow. Very friendly. Not scary at all) and the murder rate shot up just as the FBI predicted it would. We haven't had a big crackdown since. I guess some one told the powers that we are not interested in having a war here. At least not one raging day and night.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:40 AM | Comments (2)

Science Toys - 3

Spy Science

I have done a couple of recent posts on code and cipher breaking, SIGINT on signals intelligence and A Crypto Problem about Edgar Alan Poe's The Gold-Bug.And so I thought what better science kit for this week than Spy Science, which has materials for sending secret messages a number of different ways including codes, invisible ink, a cypher wheel, encryption sheets, and a Spy International ID card. And if you are found with the secret spy ID card I'm afraid it will give the whole game away. But no matter. Kids will no doubt love being an official secret spy.

Want to make your own invisible ink at home? Lemon juice is good as is milk and both develop with heat. Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writingshould have even more examples.

So on to more codes and cyphers. Codes, Ciphers and Other Cryptic and Clandestine Communication: 400 Ways to Send Secret Messages from Hieroglyphs to the Internet is a beginners guide to all kinds of codes, cyphers and signaling methods. It covers everything from flag codes to World War Two code breakers. It is not very detailed, but it does give an excellent overview.

United States Diplomatic Codes and Ciphers: 1775-1938 should be of interest to those who like American History. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson, our smartest President ever, invented a cipher system that used code wheels? Well you know it now.

American Black Chamber by Yardley details American code breaking efforts in World War One. It caused quite a scandal when it came out because it gave away a lot of secrets that our government would have preferred to remain secret, including how breaking the codes of other nations gave Americans a serious advantage in post war diplomacy. You can read more about Yardley in the book The Reader of Gentlemen's Mail: Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking by David Kahn. Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to al-Qaeda is as up to date as the headlines in your newspaper. Stealing Secrets, Telling Lies: How Spies & Codebreakers Helped Shape the Twentieth Century. Yes they did, frequently. Did you know that the breaking of a diplomatic code by the British helped get the USA into WW1? The Zimmermann Telegram is a classic telling of the tale by Barbra Tuchman. And it is just one example of how spying shaped the history of the world.

The Spycraft Manual: The Insider's Guide to Espionage Techniques covers how to do it for your budding spy. International Spy Museum's Handbook of Practical Spying Has practical tips on how to apply spying in your daly life. Such as:

Learn how to apply spy knowledge to situations in your own life, from how to hide valuables in your home, to how to shake a tail if you are being followed on a dark street. Learn how to avoid carjacking, pickpockets, and how to protect yourself from identity theft. The same tactics used by CIA and KGB agents can also be used in less serious situations-and these techniques can work in surprising ways. Planning a surprise birthday party for someone special? Learn how to create a cover story. Real spies know the tricks and what can give your cover away. A spy must master many skills, and is only as good as what he or she sees and understands. Observe and Analyze, Avoid Capture, Use Disguises, and Analyze Threats. These are all things that can help you in daily applications.The book is presented by International Spy Museum director and ex-CIA operative Peter Earnest, and filled with useful information gathered by the Spy Museum's team of experts.
I can think of uses for this information that would eventually lead to divorce court. So be careful out there.

So you want to break codes and ciphers? Here is a set of three books that will help:
Secret Code Breaker: A Cryptanalyst's Handbook (Codebreaker Series, Number 1)
Secret Code Breaker II: A Cryptanalyst's Handbook (Codebreaker Series, Number 3)
Secret Code Breaker III: A Cryptanalyst's Handbook (Codebreaker Series, Number 3)

And if you want to try your hand at deciphering here are a few puzzle books:
Mind Boggling Code Breaker Puzzles for Kids
The Cryptogram Challenge: Over 150 Codes to Crack and Ciphers to Break
The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms: Over 600 Mystery Codes to Be Cracked!
The Six Unsolved Ciphers: Inside the Mysterious Codes That Have Confounded the World's Greatest Cryptographers
Lubos Motl's Reference Frame links to an online cryptogram that you can try to crack.

And to kind of wrap this all up I want to cover the breaking of the German and Japanese Machine codes in WW2. Let me start with a book I am currently reading The American Magic which deals with the breaking of the Japanese codes and how that information was used to defeat Japan and had an influence on the decision to atomic bomb Japan.

Here is the book that got me interested in WW2 code breaking: The Ultra Secret: The Inside Story of Operation Ultra, Bletchley Park and Enigma There are lots of books on the subject for those interested in the origins of the modern computer is: Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Code-breaking Computers (Popular Science) YouTube has a couple of videos on the subject: Colossus 1 and Colossus 2. I also liked the PBS video series described here in excellent detail Mind of A Codebreaker. Unfortunately the video does not seem to be available any more.

There are lots more books on the subject of WW2 code breaking. Here is a list:
Enigma: The Battle for the Code
Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II
The German Enigma Cipher Machine: Beginnings, Success, and Ultimate Failure
The Secret War: The Inside Story of the Codemakers and Codebreakers of World War II
Codes and Ciphers: Julius Caesar, the Enigma, and the Internet

And for those of you who mouse around your computer: Lorenz Cipher Machine Mouse Pad If you want to watch a DVD about spying may I suggest: Secrets of War - Intelligence (The Ultra Enigma, Women Spies in World War II) narrated by Charlton Heston.

That should be enough to keep your junior spy and the rest of you into the clandestine arts busy for a while.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:23 AM | Comments (6)

Delusions Spring Eternal

While George Bush basically figured out that Middle East Peace is an illusion, Mr. Obama promises to go at it full bore. Mr. Obama says:

"It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors," he said.

The subject of Israeli-Palestinian peace was the first foreign policy issue Obama addressed in his trip to the State Department, which came on the day Hillary Clinton assumed office following her Senate confirmation Wednesday. She also introduced a second envoy, Richard Holbrooke, who will serve as point man on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama was criticized even before taking office for remaining silent during the recent Gaza violence, and the Mitchell announcement - coupled with his remarks on the subject - seemed a bid to demonstrate that he is now fully engaged in the issue after relieving himself of the shackles of the transition period.

"We have come to the State Department today to send a very clear message that we will reinvigorate American diplomacy," declared Vice President Joe Biden, who accompanied Obama on his first meeting with Clinton at her new headquarters.

Every President who has tried to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict has failed. The only success story so far has been Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan and it had nothing to do with American diplomacy (although America did grease the deal). It had to do with the fact that the parties involved wanted to settle. So unless Obama is going to use his magic soft power on Hamas and get them in a deal making mood he is setting himself up for epic fail.

Obama doesn't understand that real diplomacy is about carrots and sticks. He is big on carrots and disdainful of sticks. Which is why he will fail. What Obama doesn't get is that Middle East Peace is nothing at all like making a deal for an Congressional Senate Seat for one of his cronies.

Plan for war - because Obama knows nothing about keeping the peace.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:24 AM | Comments (6)

There is nothing more tragic than an unwanted rat

As someone who has struggled with unwanted rodents on numerous occasions, I was quite fascinated by the apparent legal precedent being set here:

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) - A Providence man is in trouble after he abandoned nearly 300 rats on the side of the road.

The man, Toby Duffany, pleaded no contest to animal abandonment and was ordered to pay $1000 restitution and perform 50 hours of community service.

Police say Duffany crammed 280 rats into aquariums and cages, and left them on the side of the road in Foster last month. The rats were discovered several days after they were abandoned. 72 rats had died and the rest had resorted to cannibalism.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals euthanized the living rats.

In court, Duffany said he got rid of the rats because they could not live in his apartment with his new baby.

The Rhode Island SPCA was disappointed with the punishment.


Because I live on two coasts, I'm afraid that I might be found guilty of rat or mouse "abandonment" every time I close up a place and leave the poor critters without any sustenance! Can I dare resort to pre-emptive rodenticide murder?

Seriously, in light of this fascinating precedent, can arrests for cruelly trapping or slowly poisoning rats be far behind?

What is a responsible rodent steward to do?

MORE: I'm wondering. Might the following be considered a crime scene?


If someone threw it away, would that constitute obstructing justice?

AND MORE: Here's a closeup view of what rats did to a dishwasher drain hose:


Note that it is dripping.

Would it be cruel to repair the hose and deprive the rats of their water source?

posted by Eric at 03:33 PM | Comments (4)

The Great Emancipator

What people really thought of Lincoln:

"We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free." - Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward
"The principle (of the Proclamation) is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States." - The London Spectator
You see, even in Lincoln's day they had spin doctors advising the President. The above quotes are from a column by Walter Williams who likes this book on the Lincoln Presidency: The Real Lincoln.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:14 AM | Comments (3)

Make Them Love Us

Mr. Obama has given the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, a new mandate. Make the world love us.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is taking control of the State Department with a mandate from President Barack Obama to step up diplomatic efforts and restore the nation's tattered image abroad.

Her appointment, confirmed by the Senate and sealed in a private ceremony in her Senate office on Wednesday, came as Obama moved quickly in his first day in office to shore up a team of seasoned advisers and take the nation's foreign policy in a new direction.

Obama prepared to name former Senate Democratic leader George J. Mitchell as Clinton's special envoy to the Middle East, and he placed telephone calls to regional presidents.

The Middle East has confounded every President since Jefferson. Although I must admit Jefferson did get some results by sending in the Marines. Too bad there were no pollsters back then to determine the effect the Marines had on our image in the Muslim world.

So what can Hillary do to buff up our image abroad? I'm sure she will think of something. I can't wait to find out what it is.

I keep getting the impression that the Obama Presidency is going to end badly. And here we are only into the second day.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:27 AM | Comments (22)

Obama Countdown Clock

For those of you who would like to keep track.

If you want to make your own clock here is the page

And here is another way of looking at it:

posted by Simon at 07:20 AM | Comments (5)

Vitamin C Works As Antibiotic

The US Government has done some research (1998) on Vitamin C as an antibiotic and found that it works.

This study has shown that 4 weeks daily high dose vitamin C treatment in H. pylori infected patients with chronic gastritis resulted in apparent H. pylori eradication in 30% of those treated. In those patients there was also a highly significant rise in gastric juice total vitamin C concentration which persisted for at least 4 weeks after the treatment ceased. A significant, though less marked, gastric juice total vitamin C concentration increase was observed during vitamin C treatment even in subjects with persistent H. pylori infection, though this was not maintained after treatment ended. The mechanism whereby vitamin C treatment appeared to result in H. pylori eradication is unclear. Further confirmatory studies are indicated.
The studies used a dose of 5 grams a day. I'd like to see a much higher dose used (20 grams a day) and see if that didn't work for a larger percentage of the population.

Of course this study says nothing about Vitamin C and the common cold. Because the common cold is caused by a virus. Still, because of its low toxicity it couldn't hurt.

H/T alexjrgreen at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:31 PM | Comments (9)

Getting Stimulated

You can read and discuss the rape the taxpayer bill (aka the stimulus bill) at readthestimulus.org. Here is a bit from the site.

One of the additional features we want to add to ReadTheStimulus.org is more detail on the actual dollar amounts being appropriated in the bill text. But to do that, we need to extract out all the individual appropriations and put them in a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, there's just no way to do that automagically, and so that means we have to brute force it: have real live humans manually read each page of the document and enter in the dollar appropriations into a collaborative spreadsheet.

To that end, we're creating an online spreadsheet that can be edited by many folks simultaneously that we'll use to "crowdsource" the effort. If you have time this weekend and want to help out, please email us at info@readthestimulus.org and we'll let you know how you can assist. Thanks!

You know, Congress could be right. America might need a big stimulus package to get the wheels of industry turning again. So why not pass a big tax cut and let people and businesses spend the money as they see fit? Congress could exercise its power, but it would mean giving up control. Well Democrats are against giving up control as a philosophical proposition - let alone in reality. So what are the odds? None and less than none.

And what will we get for all this debt addition? Stagflation. The Democrats will lose seats in 2010 and Obama is likely to be a one termer. Especially if a war flares up in the world and he handles it badly.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:23 PM | Comments (4)

Hamas Returns To Governing Gaza

Hamas has returned to governing Gaza by their usual methods. Murder and theft.

The liaison office for civilian territories said Hamas is intentionally harming humanitarian aid transferred from Israel by firing mortars at the Karni, Kissufim and Kerem Shalom crossings. The liaison office and Shin Bet security service both accused Hamas of looting trucks bringing supplies into Gaza.

The Shin Bet also reported many instances since the cease-fire of Hamas members shooting and wounding Fatah activists in Gaza.

And people wonder why Egypt has no interest in taking Gaza back or even opening its border crossings to Gaza. Best to keep the disease penned in.

Speaking of disease it seems like an old one is on the loose among terrorist cadres. The Black Death.

At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages.

The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. It came to light when security forces found a body by a roadside.

The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East.

It trains Muslim fighters to kill British and US troops.

Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells -- or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

One security source said: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease.

"It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaeda."

Black Death comes in various forms.

Bubonic Plague is spread by bites from infected rat fleas. Symptoms include boils in the groin, neck and armpits. In Pneumonic Plague, airborn bacteria spread like flu.

It can be in the body for more than a week -- highly contagious but not revealing tell-tale symptoms.

The al-Qaeda epidemic began in the cave hideouts of AQLIM in Tizi Ouzou province, 150km east of the capital Algiers. The group, led by wanted terror boss Abdelmalek Droudkal, was forced to turn its shelters in the Yakouren forest into mass graves and flee.

When I was in the Navy a long time ago ('63 to '67) I got an anti-Plague shot aboard ship while patrolling off the coast of Viet Nam with the Enterprise task force. Evidently Al Queda is not that interested in the health of its fighters.

Keep an eye on Afghanistan. If the Black Death breaks out there the Taliban Spring offensive may be derailed or attenuated.

What is ironic is that Al Queda wanted to return to the days when Islam controlled part or all of Spain. From 711 to 1492. And those years include Plague Years. Funny that they are getting their wish to return to those thrilling days of yester year where medicine was relatively ignorant. I don't think dying of the Black Plague was what they had in mind when decrying the corruption of the West. I think if I have a choice of corruption I'd pick Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll over disease and death. But I was never much of a fanatic about religion in any case.

H/T Israpundit who links to this article about Syrian biowarfare.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

Even The Israelis Get It

Nehemia Shtrasler in a Haaretz article called The Alchemist tells what lies ahead for the US economy under Mr. Obama.

The United States faces a huge crisis because it has lived beyond its means and has done so quite irresponsibly. Obama seeks to continue on the exact same path, though on a much larger scale.

So the next crisis is inevitable. Whoever increases spending will end up with a broken water trough while the world agrees to lend more money, though at beggars' prices. This will also happen to the United States. Inflation will rise, the dollar will weaken, interest rates will jump sky-high, and economic growth will be buried in the ground. In other words, stagflation.

Obama thinks he has discovered the philosopher's stone. He fancies himself an alchemist who can heal the economy painlessly and without consequence. His crash landing back to reality will be difficult and painful.

And I was saying this before the election. Jimmy Carter's second term. Stagflation. Ruinous spending for no economic result.

His second problem is that geopolitics could intrude and cause him further misery.

I must admit that I have already developed mild ODS. I just can't stand watching him or listening to him on the tube. YouTube or the other one.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

my blurry inaugural reception ball

I took valuable time out from work to turn on a dilapidated TV that still receives local programming, and watched this morning's events.


Sure enough (and despite the joint flubbing of the Oath of Office), we have a new president.

I normally wouldn't have paid too much attention to a flub like that, except that it came right on the heels of (and thus aggravated) a previous flub by Dianne Feinstein, who I was not alone in hearing announce "the Oaf of Office."

Anyway, and FWIW, I thought Obama's speech was well crafted, and rhetorically brilliant. Also, despite my opposition status, I found myself reassured by the sincere display of warmth and friendship by George W. Bush.


It is obvious to me that Bush likes Barack Obama, and it served as a much-needed reminder that we have a new president, and he's the president of the entire country.

Painful as it might be for cynical worrywarts like yours truly, I think we should all wish him and his administration well.

MORE: I did not like Reverend Lowery's prayer. Here's the Drudge version:

'Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen'...
Not quite what I heard, as I remembered something about mellow yellow. CNN offers this unexpurgated yet different snippet from the "prayer":
"We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right,"
I think Drudge got it right, minus the mellow yellow.

Yet all versions agree that "white" has not yet embraced "what is right."

Sounds more like simple anti-white bigotry to me than a "benediction." At the very least, it constitutes a racial scolding in the name of God.

A pity, because racial scoldings (especially religious-based ones) ought to have no place in a unity-based inaugural theme.

Can anyone imagine the outcry had the Reverend prayed for gays to embrace what is right?

posted by Eric at 01:16 PM | Comments (9)

The Same America

Israeli President Shimon Peres (what a nice name - Shimon) says that Obama's desire to talk to Hamas and Iran will make no difference.

President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that he wasn't worried about US-President elect Barack Obama's intention to talk to Iran and perhaps Hamas. "I don't believe they will get what they want by talking to him," Peres told Army Radio. "Their goals are different from Obama's goals. He wants to build, but they want to destroy. He wants peace, they want war."

Peres maintained that although America had chosen a different president, he had not received a "different America."

That is true. America is the same.

Italy is, however, different. Just look at the picture below.

Italians rally for Israel
Fiamma Nirenstein sends us a letter from Italy to go along with the picture.
We didn't expect what you see now in the picture. This is the square of the Italian Parliament in Rome, Piazza Montecitorio: you can see the Palace on top of the square, and in front a lot of Israeli flags.That was yesterday night from 6:30 to 9:30 P.M. What you cannot see here, is the extraordinary number and variety of members of the Parliament, about 100 from all political sides, that took the stage during our marathon: for about three hours we have been speaking about the role of Israel, its right to self defense, its moral height, its fight in name of all of us, of our civilization and values, against the wild hate of the Islamic jihad represented by Hamas. It seems to me that for the first time in the too-long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, apart from a minority of crazy leftists and fascists that took the street on anti-Semitic slogans, we have obtained a huge consensus about one critical point: this is not an episode of a local conflict, there is nothing in it that reminds the land for peace theme that has characterized the Palestinian issue. This is an episode of the attack against the Western world, and Iran has a lot to do with it.

The change of attitude is great: the dictatorial religious nature of Hamas and the democratic, civilized nature of Israel are seen face to face for what they are at least by the European elite at large, dead and wounded notwithstanding, and there rises an identification with Israel against a regime that uses human shields and promises slaughters of Jews in its charter.

Now that is a different Europe even from as little as two and a half years ago in the summer of 2006. Iran was behind Hizballah then. I wonder why the change in sentiment?

Maybe it has something to do with an Israeli Army of Davids. It could be. Consider this article from the January 5th Jerusalem Post:

Many supporters of Israel have grown frustrated with hostile feedback posted to Web articles and on blogs since the start of Operation Cast Lead nine days ago. A group of Israeli students has decided to fight back.

HelpUsWin.org is manned by social media experts and Israel activists around the clock, with the main "situation room" based at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and sponsored by the Stand With Us education organization. Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information.

Students and volunteers have been monitoring and responding to social media Web sites worldwide in several languages, to mount a public diplomacy offensive for Israel on the Internet.

"There is a misconception that the Internet is democratic, but that's far from the truth," said Alex Gekker, 24, a student in new media diplomacy at IDC and a volunteer at HelpUsWin headquarters.

"You can voice your opinion, but it doesn't mean anyone will listen. So we created HelpUsWin.org to give people a simple toolset to make a lot of noise," he said.

It seems to be working.
"This truly is Israel's first new media war," said Michael Dickson, director of Stand With Us International. "We've seen demonstrations and rallies around the world, and they have been really militant and extreme.

"We can engage with these people, but until now, we've been missing from the debate. We need to be offensive as well as defensive," Dickson said.

A cornerstone of this on-line campaign is a new feature called QassamCount, an application on social media sites Facebook and Twitter that automatically updates a user's status every time a rocket hits Israel. All of that user's friends will see the status update, which lists the location of the attack and the number of rockets fired.

In a January 19th update on the story the Jerusalem Post gives more details about the results of the information campaign.
Israel's newest weapon on the public relations front is "an army of bloggers," according to a statement issued by the Absorption Ministry Sunday afternoon.

In cooperation with the Foreign Ministry's Public Relations Department, the Absorption Ministry has initiated a statewide effort to locate volunteers who speak other languages, to take part in the country's PR efforts over the Internet.

The volunteers will post comments in their native languages - including English, French, Spanish, German and others - on anti-Israel Web sites and blogs, presenting an Israeli perspective on the Middle East.

During the past few years, a significant change has occurred in the realm of public relations communications, the ministry statement said, noting that the Internet has created a new arena of "PR warfare."

The main weakness in Israel's hasbara (public diplomacy) efforts is the current lack of people willing to sit in front of their computers and comment in languages other than Hebrew. The comments would concentrate on positive aspects of Israeli life and accounts of the hardship Israelis suffer while living under a constant threat of terror.

The Absorption Ministry is seeking new immigrants willing to volunteer for the effort, and will forward their contact information to the Foreign Ministry. The volunteers will be briefed, given up-to-date material and referred to problematic Web sites where an Israeli perspective is badly needed.

The Israelis have had two and a half years to prepare for this war. It seems their time has not been wasted. Have a look at the video below in Arabic with English subtitles. The Video is called "Hamas Profanes Islam".

So it is not just college students, and the Absorption Ministry. It is also the Israeli Defense forces that are waging the information battle. They even have their own YouTube Channel called idfnadesk which was started on December 29th. A couple of days after the opening of the war.

I think the Israelis have learned the lessons of Lebanon 2006 and the lessons that the Americans on the right have learned about their media and the world media. You can't depend on the main stream media to get your message out. What you need is An Army of Davids.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

Spain Is Depressed

Europe is hurting from the economic slow down but Spain is looking at a depression.

Falling exports will hit Germany hard. Europe's largest economy is also the world's biggest exporter and will likely shrink 2.3 percent this year, it said. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said this chimed with Berlin's own figures.

A sharp German slowdown will hit its nearest neighbors and trading partners.

The EU says the British economy will also shrink, about 2.8 percent this year, as the financial sector contracts and a housing bubble deflates, while France will contract by 1.8 percent.

Spain and Ireland will also suffer sharply as recent booms go bust and jobless queues lengthen -- with nearly one in five Spanish workers without a job by 2010.

Twenty percent unemployment is at depression levels. Spain is one of the Euro Group hardest hit by the housing bubble.

So what does the future hold? Some economists are predicting a bottom around the second quarter of 2009. Others say that the pick up will not start until well into 2010. And how will that effect the American scene? It depends. If the American Congress tries to spend the US economy out of the recession the economy will stagnate.

Alyssa A. Lappen agrees with me.

...cheap credit does not spur new investment or economic growth. In his 1993 study of more than 5,000 U.S. manufacturing companies from 1971 to 1990, economics professor Steven Fazari found that business invest based on overall economic health and the growth in their own sales and profits. "Weakness in the economy is more likely to reduce investment than lower interest rates are to stimulate it." But low rates can and will spring like a jack knife if and when investors find other outlets for their "easy" liquidity-induced cash.
Note that businesses invest based on sales and profits. And what is the fastest way to increase business profits? Lower business taxes. This allows business to decide the proper balance between lower prices and increased profits.

So how have countries fared that tried to spend their way out of financial difficulties? We have Japan as a sub prime example.

U.S. taxpayers still face the extraordinary deficit burden already heaped upon them---and only likely to grow under the Obama administration. As Melloan noted, in the 1990s, "Japan tried to spend its way out of its post bubble malaise," but merely accumulated "a mountain of debt" and lost a decade to "little or no economic growth."

Even if the national deficit increases no further, national debt would grow more onerous in the case of a Great Depression-like deflation tornado, such as shredded the U.S. economy and in 1933 raised unemployment to 24%. The debt will remain the same or even grow until it is paid off, while incomes and the tax base shrink. Keep in mind, as in 1933, interest rates and stocks have already declined steeply.

Moreover, to cover the U.S. deficit, taxes will certainly rise. In an inflationary environment, those new taxes could broadly pass to willing (or resigned) consumers. Now, however, in a contracting economy, they must be spread more narrowly to shrinking companies and a shrinking pool of workers. Companies are likely to respond by further slashing jobs, thus adding to the very grave potential for a deflationary spiral.

So are the Republicans starting to get it? If the economy needs stimulating what is the best way? Government direct spending or lowering government income while increasing business income? The Republicans have some ideas. Rep. David Dreier (R), of the San Gabriel Valley in California is one of those idea men.
Dreier outlined his priorities Thursday in an interview with the Tribune on Capital Hill for what, under Obama's plan, has ballooned to nearly a trillion-dollar economic stimulus package that Obama.

Obama's outline includes investments in infrastructure and public works improvements, investments in green technology and tax cuts and credits for working families and businesses.

All of which will cost about $800 billion, his economic team has said.

But while committing support to some kind of plan, Dreier and other Republicans this week stressed that increased government spending is no guarantee of bringing the nation out of its deep recession.

They urged care in crafting bipartisan legislation that balances government spending with incentives for business and tax cuts that they say will increase spending and revive the economy.

Dreier's ideas include:

Reducing marginal tax rates; Offering tax credits to homebuyers; and Getting consumers into auto dealerships' showrooms.

"We have found that throughout the history... marginal rate reduction stimulates economic growth and leads to an increase in the flow of revenues to the federal Treasury," Dreier said.

That would include reducing the top rate on businesses from 35 percent to 25 percent, and reducing the capital gains tax to 15 percent, while eliminating the death tax, he said.

"There are so many business that have to be sold because of that tax," he said.

Now I don't agree with all the proposals, but you do have to get bills passed and a few stupid ideas help to insure passage. The essential thing is this: if the government is going to put a lot of money in the economy it has to do something that will increase production in order to keep inflation in check otherwise consumers will just bid up the price of goods and there will be a new bubble to deal with. Prices have to come down to what consumers are willing to spend. That means lowering the cost of doing business or increasing production. Lower taxes on business will give businesses the opportunity to decide in each case what the best policy is.

So will the new President and Congress do something totally stupid? Well Mark Twain had a handle on it:

"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself."

My expectations are limited so that gives me an advantage right there. Any move in a useful direction will seem miraculous to me.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:22 AM | Comments (14)

The Small Business And Thrift Store Destruction Act

Congress has recently passed a law that will destroy a lot of small businesses and will prevent thrift stores from selling products for children.

If someone you know volunteers at a thrift store or crochets baby hats for the crafts site Etsy or favors handmade wooden toys as a baby shower gift, you've probably been hearing the alarms about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Hailed almost universally on its passage last year--it passed the Senate 89 to three and the House by 424 to one, with Ron Paul the lone dissenter--CPSIA is now shaping up as a calamity for businesses and an epic failure of regulation, threatening to wipe out tens of thousands of small makers of children's items from coast to coast, and taking a particular toll on the handcrafted and creative, the small-production-run and sideline at-home business, not to mention struggling retailers. How could this have happened?

Pretty simple really. Congress never looks at the unintended consequences of the laws it passes.
Congress passed CPSIA in a frenzy of self-congratulation following last year's overblown panic over Chinese toys with lead paint. Washington's consumer and environmentalist lobbies used the occasion to tack on some other long-sought legislative goals, including a ban on phthalates used to soften plastic.

The law's provisions were billed as stringent, something applauded by high-minded commentators as a way to force the Mattels and Fisher-Prices of the world to keep more careful watch on the supply chains of their Chinese factories.

Ah yes. The "we must do something in order to keep our phony baloney jobs" mentality that seems to affect legislators at every level of government.
The first thing to note is that we're not just talking about toys here. With few exceptions, the law covers all products intended primarily for children under 12. That includes clothing, fabric and textile goods of all kinds: hats, shoes, diapers, hair bands, sports pennants, Scouting patches, local school-logo gear and so on.

And paper goods: books, flash cards, board games, baseball cards, kits for home schoolers, party supplies and the like. And sporting equipment, outdoor gear, bikes, backpacks and telescopes. And furnishings for kids' rooms.
Comment On This Story

And videogame cartridges and audio books. And specialized assistive and therapeutic gear used by disabled and autistic kids.

So a disabled kid has goods made special for them by a third party and the testing can run $100,000 for an item depending on the number of components. We really have a lot of geniuses in our Federal government. And what about R&D? A computer board I once made was put into a wheel chair for a young lady to help her operate the wheel chair by blowing puffs of air. I sold the board for $50. How in the heck could I afford $100,000 of testing for a production run that amounted to about 1,000 pieces if even one of those boards was incorporated in a device for a handicapped child? And horror of horrors, the device used lead based solder.
Again with relatively few exceptions, makers of these goods can't rely only on materials known to be unproblematic (natural dyed yarn, local wood) or that come from reputable local suppliers, or even ones that are certified organic.

Instead they must put a sample item from each lot of goods through testing after complete assembly, and the testing must be applied to each component. For a given hand-knitted sweater, for example, one might have to pay not just, say, $150 for the first test, but added-on charges for each component beyond the first: a button or snap, yarn of a second color, a care label, maybe a ribbon or stitching--with each color of stitching thread having to be tested separately.

Suddenly the bill is more like $1,000--and that's just to test the one style and size. The same sweater in a larger size, or with a different button or clasp, would need a new round of tests--not just on the button or clasp, but on the whole garment. The maker of a kids' telescope (with no suspected problems) was quoted a $24,000 testing estimate, on a product with only $32,000 in annual sales.

Could it get worse? Yes, it could. Contrary to some reports, thrift and secondhand stores are not exempt from the law. Although (unlike creators of new goods) they aren't obliged to test the items they stock, they are exposed to liability and fines if any goods on their shelves (or a component button, bolt, binding, etc.) are found to test above the (very low) thresholds being phased in.

Nor does it get them off the hook to say an older product's noncompliance with the new standards wasn't something they knew or should have known about (let alone to say anyone was harmed; the whole controversy from start to finish has gone on with precious little showing of real-world harm to American kids from most of the goods being banned).

I guess this might be a good thing in the long run though. Poor people will not be able to easily afford children. Eugenics through environmental laws. And you know eugenics was a favorite of the left. So maybe our Democrat Congress and its Republican allies knew what they were doing after all. And who was the only guy to vote against it? Libertarian-Republican Ron Paul who is a baby doctor.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

Let's Get The Dog To Cook
There's already a huge ongoing government intervention in the economy. Bringing the government in to run Wall Street is like saying, "Dad burned dinner, let's get the dog to cook."
From a pre-mortem on the failed Obama Presidency by P.J. O'Rourke.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

Danica Patrick's Beaver

I'm so out of it that I missed Danica Patrick's beaver last year. Danica is a local girl from Roscoe, Illinois, about 10 miles from where I live as the crow flies. A little longer if the beaver swims the Rock River.

And you know what else I missed? Danica was in the Sports Illustrated swim suit edition looking very demurely athletic. As you can see from the photo below.

Danica Patric

I hope this warms you up this cold winter day. And please share some of that warmth with your significant other. And if you can't share it with you're significant other share it with the one you're with.

H/T Instapundit who likes pictures of pretty women, and who says "sex sells". I wonder if that is true? OK. I've got an idea. There is a lot of sex in the Bible. So what could be better than an Orgasm Bible? An orgasm maybe? Now there is a service, if it could be delivered online, that could make a lot of money. Before our lawmakers got into the act. And what would that act be called? The Hookers and Prostitutes Price Support Act. Them damn socialists in Congress are always trying to screw everything up. And you know what else? I'll bet they only take testimony in private due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:34 PM | Comments (3)


Government fiat can no more create moral health than it can create economic health.

Smaller more restricted government is the only way forward.

We should look to the "success" of the California Republican Party and work to solve moral issues in the same place that economic issues need to be solved. The private sector.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

The No Truce Truce

It seems that both Hamas and Israel have declared unilateral truces independent of each other. However Hamas keeps firing rockets at Israel.

Gaza terrorists continued to attack southern Israeli civilian areas on Sunday afternoon, despite the fact that the Israeli unilateral cease-fire had already been in effect since early that morning.
Naturally the Israelis have responded.
The IAF struck back, hitting a terror cell and a launching pad.

Earlier Sunday, Hamas operatives in the Beit Lahiya area shot at IDF soldiers, who returned fire. An IAF helicopter then shot the gunmen, the IDF reported. Mortar shells were also fired at the troops.

There was an understanding in the IDF that it would take time for Hamas to make a decision as well as to transmit orders to all of its different operatives on the ground.

So how is Hamas doing? They are doing their usual pretending to be the victors except when they are pretending to be the victims.
Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal announced on Syrian television on Sunday afternoon that the Islamic group would implement a cease-fire in which they would halt all military activity and give IDF troops one week to pull out of the Gaza Strip.
That is the ticket guys. Promise to end all military activity while still shelling Israel. And if Israel doesn't pull out in a week Hamas can always declare a new truce.
According to the statement, Israel must end the blockade and open the border crossings.

A leader of the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip said that his group agreed to the Hamas truce, and said that other smaller Palestinian factions have signed on, as well.

The development comes after Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire which took effect earlier Sunday morning.

The Israelis have a different idea about what the truce entails.
Shortly after it announced a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza, Israel said on Sunday it will not consider a timetable for withdrawing all of its forces from the Gaza Strip until Hamas and other militant groups halt their attacks.

"We can't talk about a timetable for withdrawal until we know the ceasefire is holding," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, rebuffing United Nations calls for setting a timetable.

Of course time tables are for trains and I think that is one train the Jews are not getting on.
"If there is a danger Hamas is going to deliberately torpedo the cease-fire, and we will have to reinitiate offensive actions against Hamas, for that reason we have to be reticent about withdrawing our forces."

"If the ceasefire holds, we can start a process of moving out," Regev added.

Olmert earlier on Sunday branded Israel's cease-fire in Gaza as fragile and said the Israel Defense Forces was free to respond to attacks by Gaza militants.

Evidently the Israelis consider Hamas' behavior an open invitation to stay in Gaza. I think I said a few years ago that if giving Gaza to the Philistines didn't work out the Israelis could always take it back without too much difficulty. It will be interesting to see if Hamas wants Gaza back badly enough to cease the rocket attacks.
"Israeli forces inside the Gaza Strip and many more encircling the Gaza Strip are...prepared to act in any area in accordance with their commanders' orders if and when the cease-fire violations, such as those that occurred this morning, continue," Olmert added at the cabinet meeting.

Late Saturday night, the prime minister said the IDF would only leave Gaza if Hamas ceased its rocket attacks. Olmert made the pledge as he announced a unilateral cease-fire in the coastal strip.

"If Hamas entirely ends its rocket fire on Israel, Israel will consider an IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip," Olmert declared.

If that did not occur, he said, "The IDF will continue to operate in order to protect our citizens."

Olmert is actually acting like a leader these days. He says if Hamas wants more he is more than willing to see that they get some.
"If our enemies decide the blows they've been dealt have not been sufficient and they are interested in continuing the fight, Israel will be prepared for such and feel free to continue to react with force," the premier added.
Molon labe indeed. And there is a carrot to go with the stick.
Israel said on Sunday it will be prepared to sharply increase the flow of food and medicine to Gaza if the unilateral cease-fire holds, but it ruled out fully lifting a blockade until captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is freed.

"If the quiet holds, there will not be any problem dramatically increasing aid like food and medicine. If this quiet holds, we will work with the international community for reconstruction," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert.

"But you can't have anything close to full normalization of the crossings as long as Gilad Shalit remains a hostage," Regev added. Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid in 2006.

It will be interesting to see in the coming days how much Hamas is willing to give up to get what it wants.

So you may ask why was Israel interested in a cease fire without an agreement with Hamas? The answer is from a report from over two weeks ago that said Israel was running out of targets. And that is not all. My guess is that Israel had no intention of taking Gaza city. No doubt Hamas in its usual efficient style had booby trapped a number of buildings in Gaza City just waiting for the Israelis to come in. Now the Hamas engineers will be responsible for removing the booby traps. Saving Israeli lives and costing Hamas some of its engineers as the inevitable mistakes happen.

Despite Israelis "loss" in the 2006 Lebanon War things have been quiet (mostly) on that border. I think the same thing will happen to Gaza. In time.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

history uncovered

Sorry to be such a poop lately, but not being near a computer when I work as well as too busy to get online makes blogging difficult.

Needless to say, I have not watched television, and other than glancing at newspaper headlines I have not had time to keep up with current events. Yes, I do know that Barack Obama will soon be sworn in as president. A friend told me that a huge deal is being made of it on TV, and he can't believe I'm not watching. (History being made, etc.)

Excuse me, but since when is history made by the TV? I did watch Bush being sworn in, and if I remember correctly, the ceremony took an hour or so.

According to my friend, though, this particular ceremony is taking days (yes, it somehow is, with a prolonged inaugural railroad ride), and I am supposed to be glued to the TV watching it.

Am I missing out on history? I don't doubt that there's a train ride and stuff, but am I supposed to get all emotional and weepy? What gives? Why the need for such apparently drawn-out, overwrought drama? What could be more dull than watching a train on TV?

(Answer: covering it via liveblogging!)

On an artistic note, I thought I should put in a plug for a marvelous product I've discovered called "KRUD KUTTER." I've had an old lithograph (purportedly by Dalí) hanging on the wall of this house for nearly twenty years which was so covered with krud that it was getting tough to see the image. An artist friend decided to clean it using KRUD KUTTER and I couldn't believe the result.

Such a versatile product deserves a plug.


I know a lot more about Dalí now than I did when I acquired the print, and the first thing I noticed was that while the style unmistakably resembled Dalí's, there were significant differences. Dalí would not have painted a smooth rock with stripes, so I thought it might be an Yves Tanguy (Dalí and Tanguy were peers and did influence each other.) Thanks to the miracle of KRUD KUTTER, surprise! A close inspection of the lower right hand corner revealed the signature.


Proof that if you kut through enough krud, you can find the history.

Tanguy said, "I found that if I planned a picture beforehand, it never surprised me, and surprises are my pleasure in painting."

It was a pleasure to discover it.

posted by Eric at 12:31 PM | Comments (7)

Israel Gets The Gas

A huge reservoir of natural gas has been found 80 km (50 mi) off the Israeli coast.

Three massive gas reservoirs have been discovered 80 kilometers off the Haifa coast, at the Tamar prospect, Noble Energy Inc. announced on Sunday.

The Tamar-1 well, located in approximately 5,500 feet of water, was drilled to a total depth of 16,076 feet. The thickness and quality of the reservoirs found were greater than anticipated at the location.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's chairman, president and CEO, said in an announcement that his company was "extremely excited by the results. This is one of the most significant prospects that we have ever tested and appears to be the largest discovery in the company's history."

Speaking on Army Radio Sunday morning, an exhilarated Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the Delek Group Ltd, one of the owners of the well, called the discovery "one of the biggest in the world," promising that the find would present a historic land mark in the economic independence of Israel.

There are plans underway to sell some of the gas to other countries. Now wouldn't it be something if Europe became dependent on Israeli natural gas? Especially since Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Europe.
Schools closed, heating shut down and nearly a dozen European nations reported a cutoff of natural-gas supplies in one of the coldest winters in recent memory.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other in a dispute as bitter as the temperature with a cold front blanketing Europe. Thermometers fell to minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit in some capitals.

Them Russians is not nice people. It will be fun to see if Europe's attitude towards Israel changes should they decide to buy Israeli gas. I think, however, it is more likely that Lebanon or Egypt will become Israel's first customer. With Turkey also in the running.

Israel as a major energy power. That should have interesting repercussions.

Update: 18 Jan 2009 1520z

I have been informed that Israel currently buys its natural gas supplies from Egypt. So I guess Egypt is off the list.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

Hamas Is Iran's Bitch

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert says:

"All the world agrees that Hamas's arming must be stopped," he continued, stressing that now, after the operation, the entire world understands "that Hamas is Iran's Gaza branch."
It seems I misread the Prime Minister's words. I promise to do better next time.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

Politics Doesn't Stop

Mr. Obama's big problems so far have been his relations with corrupt politicians. I think it will be a continuing problem with his new administration. However, his biggest problem is that the Democrat Party is prone to strangling the economy.

A case in point his his nominee for energy czar, Carol Browner. She is also referred to as the climate czar. And what is with is with this czar business? A drug czar, a car czar, and now a climate/energy czar. I suppose the purpose of the czar if to oversee the 10,000 Federal efforts in a given area and make them all pull in the same direction. Of course a czar is a petty dictator. And you know where that leads. Such a policy has been tried before only it was called by another name Fuehrerprinzip. You know it doesn't sound nearly as appealing in the original German.

So where were we? Oh yeah the new climate fuhrer has an interesting past. However, she was no National Socialist. She was an international socialist (bigger ambitions?). A member of the Socialist International which was founded in 1951. And what is their fundamental policy on energy/climate and other ecological matters?

The best and cheapest solutions to the crisis are those that change the basic framework of production and consumption so that environmental damage does not occur in the first place.
Let me repeat the critical part change the basic framework of production and consumption. What would that mean in practice? Appointing really smart fuhrers who would tell us what to do. No more of that try things out and see who profits capitalist crap. Nope. This will all be very scientific. The smartest people (with the right political connections) will be giving orders. Friedrich Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdom explained why that is impossible. No one person actually knows enough to give the right orders for millions of people. No one can know the correct trade offs in all cases. There is a Hayek I might be willing to take orders from. But it would have to be up close and personal. And even then it would probably lead to Mi Vida Loca as it does in economics.

So back to Browner and her economic ideas.

According to its own principles, Socialist International favors the nationalization of industry, is skeptical of the benefits of economic growth and wants to establish a more "equitable international economic order." In true Marxist form, it asserts that, "The concentration of economic power in few private hands must be replaced by a different order in which each person is entitled -- as citizen, consumer or wage-earner -- to influence the direction and distribution of production, the shaping of the means of production, and the conditions of working life."
Of course to carry out that sort of economics you can't just have people going off on their own deciding what is just. You need a dictatorship of the proletariat. In other words the fuhrer decides what is good for you and what you will get. And you will be getting it good and hard.

So how does she intend to reduce carbon emissions? She has a plan. It is called decoupling. Profits will be decoupled from production.

In late-December, Carbon Control News reported that Browner was a "strong backer" of utility "decoupling," which had emerged as a "key climate policy priority for Obama."

What is utility decoupling? The profits of electric utility companies have traditionally depended on the amount of electricity sold; basically, the more power that is sold, the more profit that is earned. The productivity-profitability link is a logical and standard business principle that is easy to understand, easy to implement and that has worked for, well, millennia in myriad business ventures -- but no more for electric utilities, if Browner has her way.

Browner wants to sever, or decouple, a utility's profits from the amount of electricity it sells. More electricity means more coal and natural gas burning, which, according to green dogma, means more greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. So Browner believes that less electricity production is, at least, a partial answer to climate change. But less electricity would mean less profitability for electric utilities, a powerful Washington lobby that Browner can ill afford to antagonize.

To date, the electric utility industry has aided and abetted the climate alarmist cause, if not by actually lobbying for global warming regulation, then at least by its willingness to entertain such regulation as public policy worthy of serious consideration. But since endangering utility profits would likely galvanize the industry once and for all against emissions regulation, the green dilemma boils down to figuring out a way to reduce electricity sales while guaranteeing utility profits. Enter decoupling.

How would decoupling actually function in practice? There are several different schemes for decoupling, but their tedious complexity precludes elaboration here. But the schemes all essentially amount to the same thing -- sticking it to ratepayers and taxpayers. This should come as no surprise, when you stop to think about it.

Decoupling involves government guaranteeing electric utilities steady or steadily increasing profits for selling less electricity. That means implementing one of three basic scenarios: (1) consumers paying more for less electricity; (2) electricity prices remaining steady and taxpayers being called upon to subsidize the difference between the profits from actual electricity sales and the profits guaranteed by government; or (3) some combination of the two. There are no other possibilities.

Obama did promise in his election campaign to bankrupt the coal industry and it looks like he has found just the woman to do it. The British are well into such a scheme and it looks like they are losing their power. Their electrical power.
It was in July of this year that the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee - prop. Tim Yeo - told the government that it must set a deadline for coal-fired power stations to install technology massively to cut their emissions, or they must be shut down.

In so doing, the committee sought to add to the burden on an industry which is already, for diverse reasons, failing to get to grips with the looming electricity shortage - offering a strategy which would make it near certain that the lights went out in 2012 or sooner.

Now, from the same House of Commons which brought you this lunacy, we have the Business and Enterprise Committee, headed by another Conservative MP - this time Peter Luff. His committee is warning that Britain is threatened by an "energy crunch" with disastrous social and economic consequences.

Ah yes the social in socialism brings disastrous consequences. When was it ever otherwise? The electric utilities will make out and the consumer will do without electricity. Corporate socialism at its finest. For the people. With political connections.

So is the Obama team proud of Ms. Browner's socialist connections? I don't think so.

Then there's Carol Browner, Obama's pick as energy czar and Clinton's Environmental Protection Agency director. She's a member of Socialist International, the world's leading home for socialism and SI's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which calls for "global governance" and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address man-caused climate change.

What's wrong with socialism?

Not much, too many Democrats say. But someone on Obama's team was a bit concerned, though, because by Thursday, Browner's name and biography had been removed from Socialist International's Web page.

It is almost as if they had something to hide.

And there is another reason why socialist Browner is kind of a funny choice for Obama. When she headed the EPA it was a hotbed of racism.

According to a February 2001 report in TIME magazine, the EPA was plagued with "festering racial problems" during Browner's time in charge. One African-American EPA employee, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, told TIME that she'd been passed over for promotions for being "too uppity," adding, "We [African-American employees] were treated like Negroes, to use a polite term. We were put in our place."

Coleman-Adebayo was later awarded $600,000 in damages in a settlement that found the EPA guilty of "discrimination and retaliation against whistle blowers." Shortly thereafter, Congress passed the "No Fear" government whistle blower protection act in response to the Coleman-Adebayo v. Carol Browner decision.

Dr. Coleman-Adebayo lamented in a recent interview, "The very woman I prevailed against in court is being elevated to a White House decision-level position."

At least 150 EPA employees filed similar lawsuits during Browner's time there. In one particularly bizarre incident, blogger Shawn Mallow notes, "Anita Nickens, an EPA specialist, and the only black present during a visit of Mrs. Browner, was told to clean the toilet prior to her arrival. Afterward, the rest of her white co-workers bragged about it."

It's a good thing Browner's appointment to the newly invented post of "Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change" isn't subject to Senate approval.

There are a lot of good things about the Obama administration. Understanding the scientific arguments about global warming isn't one of them. Fortunately, although the scientific arguments about global warming aren't settled the politics is. Green on the outside, red on the inside. Socialism all the way. Because they believe, despite over a hundred years of recent evidence, that government can run your life better than you can.

Our only hope is that Mr. Obama is kept busy with corruption scandals and foreign wars so that he does not have much time or political capital to do serious damage here at home.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:42 AM | Comments (7)

We Can Work It Out

An interview with Mira Awad and Achinoam Nini about the state of Israeli/Palistinian relations with interludes of them singing together the Beatles' We Can Work It Out.

The two young ladies will be appearing together in the Eurovision song contest whose purpose is to promote dialog through cultural exchanges. The choice of the ladies to represent Israel has created quite a fire storm among those who think the Israelis and Palestinians can't work it out.

Several local artists and intellectuals are calling on the Israeli Arab singer and actress chosen to represent Israel at the Eurovision song contest to step down, saying her participation in the "Israeli propaganda machine" would convey a false impression of national coexistence used to cover up the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The duo Mira Awad, a Christian Arab, and singer Achinoam Nini, who is Jewish and also known as Noa, were chosen this week to represent Israel in the televised contest.

And there is the usual inflamed rhetoric to go along with the denunciation of the duo.
"Israel would not be able to continue with its war crimes without the support of the international community, especially the United States and the European Union," the signatories, both Jewish and Arab, wrote in an open letter to Awad.

"What allows the international community to provide support is Israel's image as a 'democratic,' 'enlightened,' 'peace-seeking' country. Your participation in Eurovision is taking part in the activity of the Israeli propaganda machine," they added.

Every contribution to the "false image" Israel is building "allows the Israeli army to use another 10 tons of explosives, another phosphorous bomb," the letter says.

Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, one of the people who initiated the open letter, said Awad's participation in Eurovision would be a "fig leaf" for Israel's actions, and spoke out against Nini's call to Palestinians in Gaza to renounce the Hamas leadership.

Of course there is no mention of the Palestinian war crimes of intentionally attacking civilian areas with rockets in order to terrorize the residents. Or the previous wave of suicide bombers.
No response was available from Awad or Nini by press time, but their manager, Ofer Pesenzon, charged the signatories - who include filmmaker Nizar Hassan and publisher Yael Lerer - with extremism.

"Achinoam and Mira have been cooperating for five years," he said. "They have appeared in many respected venues around the world, and their approach has always been in favor of dialogue, out of a belief that only thus will it be possible to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and in the Middle East in general. It's very sad that Jewish and Arab extremists in our country are motivated by hatred and anger."

I thought the part of the interview where Mira thinks there could be a solution if everyone wanted one was quite to the point. Achinoam thinks that another of the keys is mutual recognition. The problem with that approach is that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel. They are sure taking a beating from some people they don't recognize. Ah well. Irreconcilable differences. All that is left is concluding the divorce settlement with the division of the property. And they don't seem to be able to even work that one out.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:47 PM | Comments (2)

A Crack Down On Guns Is Coming

And how will it be sold? "The violence in Mexico is caused by the guns flowing South."

I have often said to gun owners that the biggest threat to them is drug prohibition. They were never much interested. I think their interest is going to rise.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

A Conversation About Ending Prohibition

El Paso City Council member Beto O'Rourke says ending prohibition is looking like one of the more attractive solutions to the violence along the Mexican border.

His representative in Congress DemocratSilvestre Reyes said in effect: we don't want no stinkin debate.

the El Paso city council voted 8-0 to express solidarity with its sister city in Mexico, Juarez, which has seen its murder rate double this year alone as the Mexican government has waged war on powerful drug cartels. To slow that violence, the resolution called for "an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics."

That was enough to get Washington's attention.

Mayor John Cook vetoed the resolution and Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat who represents El Paso in Congress, lobbied each councilmember, making it clear that if the resolution calling for a debate passed, El Paso would risk losing money in the upcoming stimulus legislation. Five Texas House representatives made the same threat.

"Funding for local law enforcement efforts and other important programs to our community are likely being put in jeopardy," lawmakers warned in a letter to the city, "especially during a time when state resources are scarce."

Four members of the council switched their votes and supported the veto; three of them publicly cited the funding threat as the reason for backing down.

Here is how it works first your Representative brings home the bacon, but after a while you find you are owned by the butcher.
City Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the sponsor of the legalization amendment, said that "the threat from Congressman Reyes, then articulated again by our House delegation at the state level is unfortunate, but it's having its desired affect, which is to chill discussion."

"I haven't heard a specific congressman or senator who has threatened to withhold that money, just vague, unspecific threats that should we have the courage of our convictions, money will be withheld from this community," said O'Rourke.

The council passed the resolution last week as a way to combat the spiraling violence that threatens to undermine the neighboring Mexican state and spill over into the United States. "We are witness to the collapse of civil authority in a city of more than 1.5 million people, a city where many of us work or have family, and a city which contributes over $2 billion a year to our local economy," argued O'Rourke. "Add to this a very real national security threat, recently highlighted by former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, that we face the looming prospect of a failed state on our southern border."

A group of law enforcement officers who oppose drug prohibition descended on El Paso to urge the councilmembers not to backpedal from their original votes. Terry Nelson, a retired federal officer and former drug warrior, has been lobbying the city council and published an op-ed in the Sunday El Paso Times. "Only when we take away their profit margins by legalizing drugs will the cartels' financial incentive for murder disappear," wrote Nelson, a member of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "It perplexes me that Mayor John Cook and other observers dismiss outright the notion that we should even talk about ending prohibition, as if not discussing it has fostered great results for us so far."

You know there may be a reason that even discussion of legalization is off the table:

"The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government." - William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995

It is quite possible that the drug cartels own the US Congress. After all it is obvious that they own Mexico. What is to stop their money from crossing the border? Or just never leaving the USA?

On Tuesday night, after hours of debate, O'Rourke argued -- unsuccessfully -- that bowing to federal pressure would set a precedent they should avoid. "All we're asking for is a conversation, and no important issue in the history of the United States -- social, criminal, legal or otherwise -- has ever been harmed by having an open discussion. That's all we're asking for today," he said.

"It's not just this issue. It sets a precedent that when debate is to be chilled, when positions are to be changed, people higher up will threaten us that we'll lose our money, and you have to ask yourselves if you can live with that."

Reyes, however, told the Huffington Post that he doesn't oppose a debate on legalization. He only opposed the timing, coming as it did as Obama was meeting with the Mexican president and Congress was debating the stimulus.

Yep. He questions the timing. It should not be today or tomorrow that is for sure. I think the only acceptable timing for the Feds is never.

However, events in Mexico may make the preferred timing impossible for too much longer.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

The Road To Serfdom

Have you ever wondered if the German National Socialists were really right wing? Well now you can find out by reading the Readers Digest Condensed Version of The Road to Serfdom which is downloadable at no cost from a link at the page. You should use the Save As function and title the file The Road To Serfdom.pdf.

The Institute of Economic Affairs which hosts "The Road..." has other interesting economic publications and videos at its site.

You might also like The Illustrated Version which you can open in a browser window or tab. It is hosted by The Ludwig von Mises Institute.

You can get an actual book by following this link The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek).

So were the Nazis right wing? Only compared to the communists.

H/T alexjrgreen At Talk Polywell.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:24 AM | Comments (6)

Defeating The War On Terror

Misha Glenny author of McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld has this to say about the drug war:

In the past two years, the drug war has become the Taliban's most effective recruiter in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Muslim extremists have reinvigorated themselves by supporting and taxing the countless peasants who are dependent one way or another on the opium trade, their only reliable source of income. The Taliban is becoming richer and stronger by the day, especially in the east and south of the country. The "War on Drugs" is defeating the "war on terror."
Because of the problems in Mexico and Afghanistan we are rapidly coming to a fork in the road. Do we opt for legalization of drugs or support of criminals and terrorists?

H/T commenter flicka47 at They Kidnap Americans Don't They?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:38 AM | Comments (3)

Good Journalism

Richard Cowan says "bad journalism" is responsible for marijuana prohibition. Actually I will go farther. It is responsible for the whole drug prohibition mess. However, we are starting to get some examples of good journalism. Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune is one of them.

"Man found dead with hands severed."

"Prominent Juarez lawyer, son among four found dead Tuesday."

"Man found shot to death in trash drum."

"El Paso charities afraid to cross border."

"Juarez area slayings top 20 in new year."

Murders across Mexico more than doubled last year to more than 5,600. That's more than the total number of Americans lost so far in the war in Iraq. Most of those murders have been happening in border towns. More than 1,600 were killed in Juarez, Mexico's fourth-largest city, with a population of 1.7 million. The bloodbath of unspeakable brutality includes kidnappings and decapitated bodies left in public places as a grisly form of advertising.

"There have already been 20 murders in Juarez this year," Beto O'Rourke, a member of El Paso's City Council, told me in a telephone interview this week as President-elect Barack Obama met with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon. "That doesn't include the kidnappings and extortions. Ciudad Juarez is essentially a failed city at this point. [Juarez authorities] can't guarantee your safety."

The situation is deteriorating so fast that "Mexico is on the edge of abyss," said retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a drug czar under President Bill Clinton.

"It could become a narco-state in the coming decade," he said, and the result could be a "surge of millions of refugees" crossing the U.S. border to escape.

The General has not caught up with events. Mexico is a narco State.

These facts are well known to the readers of this blog. So where is the good journalim? It is in three words bolded below.

Something drastic needed to be done, O'Rourke, a fourth-generation El Paso resident, decided. A proposed City Council resolution called for more federal action on both sides of the border to reduce the flow of guns and drugs.

But it wasn't strong enough. O'Rourke pushed things further by adding 12 words: "supporting an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics." The council passed it unanimously. Yet, even a bid to talk about drug legalization was too much for El Paso Mayor John Cook. He vetoed the bill, partly out of concern that Washington might not take the measure seriously with the drug legalization line in it.

Nevertheless, the controversy brought what has been rare American media attention to Mexico's crisis by turning it into radio and cable-TV talk fodder. That's a start.

Yes it is. It took seven murders on Chicago's North side in February of 1929 to get legalization of alcohol seriously on the table. In this war it has taken about 700 times as many murders and the help of a unanimous vote of the El Paso City Council to get the subject the attention it deserves. Because it was just not the murders (the bodies have been piling up for years) it is the politicians taking notice. And now newspaper columnists like Clarence Page who has more to say:
...Calderon faces mounting pressures on his 2-year-old campaign against drug and gun smuggling. The campaign actually touched off much of the fighting between the drug cartels. It has also exposed corruption that touched the highest levels of his government. Even a member of his security team was arrested for allegedly feeding information to the cartels in exchange for money.

When you take a broad look at Mexico's growing carnage, it's easy to see why El Paso's city leaders think drug legalization doesn't look so bad. Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.

Legalization is not the perfect solution. But treating illegal drugs in the way we treat liquor and other legal addictive substances would provide regulation, tax revenue and funds for rehabilitation programs. Most satisfying, it would wipe a lot of smiles off the drug lords' faces.

Let me repeat another bit of very good journalism: Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.

That is something I have been saying for years and it only took 5,000 dead Mexicans and the efforts of the El Paso City Council to make my point.

H/T Suzanne Wills of the DPFT list.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:00 AM | Comments (3)

A Certain Lack Of Solidarity

A protest against Israeli operations in Gaza was called off because not enough Palestinians showed up.

RAMALLAH - It's quiet in Ramallah. At the northern entrance to the city, not far from the mall, a new fountain spouts water. Next to it lies a sign in English: "Gaza under fire." But it seems the Gaza Strip has never been so far away. Tel Aviv, meanwhile, feels closer than ever. Almost every day at 1 P.M., a demonstration leaves Manara Square in the city center, expressing support for the residents of the Gaza Strip. The number of participants has declined, however, on a daily basis, and on Wednesday the demonstration was called off for a lack of protesters.

Dozens of men sit in cafes near the square playing cards. In the background, the television blasts the voices of Al-Jazeera reporters, who provide continual updates about the events taking place in the Strip. But even the dramatic reports do not stop the card players for a moment. Occasionally one of them glances up at the screen, but then gets back to business.

What explains this lack of solidarity? Walid Omari, the Al-Jazeera bureau chief for the Palestinian Authority and Israel, thinks he knows.
Omari explains that the quiet all over the West Bank in the face of the events in Gaza stems mainly from disappointment and frustration with the leadership of Hamas and Fatah.

"The residents of the West Bank lost a great deal in the course of the last Intifada, but saw no achievements. They are very afraid of more losses, mainly in light of the crisis of confidence between the Palestinian street and its leadership.

In other words " I'm not having any of what they are having." A wise move. Perhaps Israel has sufficiently demoralized the Palestinians to the point that they are becoming willing to deal.

And speaking of deal how is the truce deal that Egypt is negotiating coming along?

After 19 days of fighting and more than 1,000 Palestinian fatalities, the first significant signs that Hamas is breaking could be seen Wednesday night. Hamas representatives to talks with Egypt announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. They also demanded several clarifications, primarily from Israel.

The war in Gaza isn't over yet. The final days of the Second Lebanon War show that it's best to be wary of agreements that come too early. But the way things looked on Wednesday, Hamas seems to be willing to accept the Egyptian initiative, which is almost a kind of surrender agreement for it.

The Egyptian proposal is mostly bad for Hamas. It doesn't let the organization bring the Palestinian public any political achievement that would justify the blood that has been spilled, and even forces on it the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in the form of its renewed presence at the Rafah crossing (as a condition for its reopening).

Once the cease-fire is reached, the IDF will withdraw from the positions it captured in Gaza, and only then will the two sides begin to discuss the opening of border crossings and removal of the blockade, which was the reason Hamas gave for waging war. The most that Cairo is offering is a timetable for the opening of the crossing points, and even that depends on negotiations due to begin after the cease-fire is reached, and it's tough to know how or when they will end.

So Walid seems to have it right. A lot of blood and destruction for no gain.

And as I have said before Israel has some surprising allies in this war.

Arab League officials announced Wednesday night that they still did not have the necessary legal quorum to convene an emergency Arab League summit in Doha on Friday to discuss Israel's offensive in Gaza.
So the Arabs don't seem to have a sense of urgency about the discussions. Advantage Israel.

So what are the Saudis and Egyptians up to?

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called for its own emergency meeting of Gulf Countries in Riyadh to discuss the IDF operation in Gaza on Thursday.

King Abdullah called for the meeting Thursday in the Saudi capital of Riyadh "due to the escalation of the latest events resulting from the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people and the current circumstances in the Arab world," said a Foreign Ministry statement.

Arab states such as Qatar and Syria have been pushing for an emergency Arab summit to help put an end to Operation Cast Lead, which has resulted in the death of more than 900 Palestinians, most of them believed to be Hamas members.

However, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two Western-backed political heavyweights in the region, along with Tunisia, have rejected holding a summit in Doha, suggesting instead that Arab leaders hold talks in Kuwait on Sunday on the sidelines of a planned Arab economic summit.

So not only are the Saudis and others dragging their feet, but the meeting on Gaza will be a side show to more pressing business - an economic summit. What we are seeing is a realignment of Middle East interests.

One other place the alignment is changing is Turkey, and in this case it is moving away from Israel.

A decade ago, Western and Israeli leaders could count on Turkey as an ally. A solid NATO member, Ankara took decisions based on pragmatic calculations of interest - and erred on the side of caution if at all. But under the rule of the Islamic conservative AKP, this has changed.

In the face of Hamas rockets, Israel could have expected more understanding from a country long suffering from aggressive PKK terrorism. The vehemence with which Turkish leaders attacked Israel, and their apparent willingness to convey Hamas' position to the United Nations, came as a surprise to many.

Some of this may be explained by pandering to the Islamic conservative AKP's hard-core base. But Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's words - that Israel's actions will be punished by God and help lead it to self-destruction - are too significant to be taken lightly. Indeed, they are part of the trend of a Turkish government guided more by Islamic solidarity and anti-Western sentiment than by pragmatic calculations of interest. Indeed, Turkey's international behavior suggests that its attachment to the West is tenuous at best - and eroding.

Turkey has land borders on its Middle East Side with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, and Georgia. And on the Black sea it borders a number of countries including Russia with whom it seems to have formed an understanding if not an alignment.
Ankara's position on Iran has been similarly equivocal. When in Washington recently, Erdogan observed that "those who ask Iran not to produce nuclear weapons should give up their own nuclear weapons first" - a position that fits neither with Turkey's membership in the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NATO.

More broadly, Erdogan has in recent years shown a remarkable willingness to meet with rogue regimes. Ankara's improving relationships with Syria and Iran are understandable, given that they are neighbors with which Turkey needs to work. But its decision to welcome Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with full honors in January 2008, or to invite Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to the AKP party headquarters in 2006, cannot be explained away simply by pragmatic decisions born out of necessity. Indeed, these decisions need to be seen in the context of the AKP's gradual change, with Islamic self-identification gaining ground in both domestic and foreign policy. Since reelection in 2007, the AKP has focused more on the advancement of Islamic values in Turkey's society and state than on democratic reform. In foreign policy, Islamic solidarity and anti-Western sentiment have gained ground - which in turn influence the views of society at large, making Turkey as a nation less Western.

So what does the future hold for the Middle East? The only certainty is that the countries of the region will find new and exciting ways to damage their own interests. The only exception to this rule seems to be Israel. At least for as long as George Bush has been in office. Bush's policy has been to isolate Syria and Iran.

Obama is interested in making overtures to Syria and Iran.

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday said that he is going to work toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East "on day one" of presidency on January 20, and that would include Iran and Syria.

"We're going to have to take a regional approach," said Obama in an interview with CBS Evening News. "We're going to have to involve Syria in discussions. We're going to have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before."

"We've got to have a clear bottom line that Israel's security is paramount," Obama said.

In other words he intends to sell out the Israelis. He won't be the first US President to pull that trick. What I would like to know is what kind of campaign donations Obama got from the Syria/Iran axis? I'd guess that some one knows the answer and is holding the information until it can do Obama the most damage.

We shall see. But I can say one thing. I don't think Obama has ever played politics at this level. If Blagojevich can roll him he doesn't stand a chance in the Middle East. They have had thousands of years practice in perfecting the art of the double cross.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Welcome Instapundit readers. For something a little different how about: Good Journalism which discusses the coming collapse of Mexico. Or a free copy of the Readers Digest version of The Road To Serfdom or why the Nazis are left wing.

posted by Simon at 09:25 AM | Comments (14)

Hamas Is Breaking

Iran's ally Syria has called for a cease fire in Gaza that accepts at least part of what the Israelis wanted.

Syrian President Bashar Assad called on Israel to cease its military operation in Gaza immediately, while simultaneously demanding that Hamas cease its fire towards Israel.

In an interview with the BBC network Assad warned that the fighting in Gaza could lead to the exacerbation of Islamic extremism in the Middle East.

"The effects of the war are more dangerous than the war itself," he said during Wednesday's interview. "It's planting the seeds for extremism and terror in the entire region."

Assad accused Israel of refusing to honor the ceasefire that expired in December and claimed it was the State's responsibility to halt the "murder" of the Palestinians and the siege on Gaza.

He claimed Syria, which plays host to a number of senior Hamas officials, was doing everything in its power to put an end to the fighting.

Aside from the usual anti-Israel rhetoric this is a big development. Both Syria and Hamas are supported by Iran. As to making extremism in the Middle East worse. I believe the war with Hamas is doing the opposite. It is showing that extremism doesn't pay.

As for Israel refusing to honor the cease fire? I believe the cease fire never existed - the rockets never stopped. In addition Hamas called off the cease fire anyway. Just the normal cease fire deal in the Middle East. Israel must cease firing and for its enemies ceasing fire is optional.

In theory negotiations are going on in Egypt for a cease fire which Hamas claims to have accepted and also claims to have rejected.

Hamas has accepted the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, the group said Wednesday evening, after talks in Cairo.

The Hamas delegation was making it way back to Damascus to brief the group's leaders.

Egyptian officials told the Middle East News Agency (MENA) that Hamas had responded positively to the country's efforts to mediate a Gaza cease-fire.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said he would relay Hamas's response to the Egyptian proposal to Israel.

However, Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, said that Hamas's position regarding the Egyptian initiative had not changed. He said that despite reports that Hamas had agreed to the cease-fire initiative, there were still a number of differences between Egypt and the Islamist movement that needed to be addressed.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were meeting in Jerusalem to discuss Israel's response to the initiative.

Also on Wednesday, France's foreign minister said his government was ready to talk to Hamas, if the group renounced violence and recognize Israel.

It will be interesting to see what is in the Egyptian proposal. I think it can be reliably assumed that stopping the rockets is a central element.

And those French. What dreamers. Hamas is dedicated to killing all the Jews in the world. Renouncing violence and recognizing Israel is not in the cards for Hamas.

I wonder how long it will take to complete the cease fire negotiations? The fact that Syria - who in effect speaks for Iran - has caved is significant. A cease fire by Friday is not out of the question. Of course this being the Middle East, negotiations could drag on for another week or more.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:15 PM | Comments (6)

A Big Motor For The Electric Navy
Superconducting Motor

Last week I did a post on the the science of electric motors that featured a learning kit for kids that provided the parts required for a kid (of any age) interested in the science and technology of electric motors to build a small one. I'd estimate that the motor, which you could hold in the palm of your hand, produced less than 1/1,000th of a horsepower. Here is a motor whose power is about ten orders of magnitude bigger. And that is a whole lot bigger.

The Next Big Future reports on the really big motor that uses high temperature superconductors.

American Superconductor Corporation, a leading energy technologies company, and Northrop Grumman Corporation announced today at the Surface Navy Association's 21st National Symposium the successful completion of full-power testing of the world's first 36.5 megawatt (49,000 horsepower) high temperature superconductor (HTS) ship propulsion motor at the U.S. Navy's Integrated Power System Land-Based Test Site in Philadelphia. This is the first successful full-power test of an electric propulsion motor sized for a large Navy combatant and, at 36.5 megawatts, doubled the Navy's power rating test record.
The Business Wire tells a little more of the story.
This system was designed and built under a contract from the Office of Naval Research to demonstrate the efficacy of HTS motors as the primary propulsion technology for future Navy all-electric ships and submarines. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) funded and led the successful testing of the motor.

Incorporating coils of HTS wire that are able to carry 150 times the power of similar-sized copper wire, the motor is less than half the size of conventional motors used on the first two DDG-1000 hulls and will reduce ship weight by nearly 200 metric tons. It will help make new ships more fuel-efficient and free up space for additional warfighting capability.

"The successful load test of our HTS motor marks the beginning of a new era in ship propulsion technology," said Dan McGahn, senior vice president and general manager of AMSC Superconductors. "This motor provides the U.S. Navy with a truly transformational capability relative to size, stealth, endurance and survivability, providing our Navy with a clear performance advantage for years to come. We are grateful for the steadfast support from the Office of Naval Research, Naval Sea Systems Command and the Naval Surface Warfare Center."

A different branch of the Navy, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, is funding work that may lead to a shipborne fusion power reactor. Which would be kinda handy to have to power two or four of those electric motors turning the screws of an aircraft carrier. You can read about the latest contract for development of the Bussard Naval Fusion Reactor at IEC Fusion Technology.

And that is not the only electric propulsion system that future aircraft carriers will use. There is also the electric catapult being developed by General Atomics (GA).

GA and its Team have completed the Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PDRR) phase of the Navy's electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) program and have been selected to perform the System Development and Demonstration phase. The goal of the EMALS SDD phase is to develop the existing design chosen during PDRR into an integrated shipboard system that is both operationally suitable and effective, thus replacing steam catapults with an electric system that will reduce maintenance and provide flexibility and growth potential for carrier aviation throughout the 21st century.The GA Team EMALS design is a robust, highly reliable launch system that will meet or exceed all Navy performance goals. This design will provide significant reductions in installed weight, volume, and workload compared to the existing steam catapult. The design uses state-of-the-art technologies that we believe will demonstrate our system is affordable and producible.
There are more details at the link.

And guess what else the US Navy is working on? A real honest to God beam weapon. The Free Electron Laser

The Navy is pushing ahead with a five-year, $163 million dollar plan to bring the "Holy Grail" of energy weapons up to battlefield strength.

For decades, scientists have been slowly working on a laser that never runs out of shots -- and can be "tuned" to blast through the air, at just the right wavelength. For most of that time, all they could get was a laser at lightbulb-strength. But in 2004, researchers at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility finally managed to assemble a "Free Electron Laser," or FEL, that could generate 10,000 watts of power. Now, the Navy has started an effort to design and build a new FEL, 10 times as strong. That would bring the laser up to 100 kilowatts -- what's considered the minimum threshold for weapons-grade. But it would also be just a stepping stone, on the way to an energy weapon as powerful as any produced. If ray gun researchers can get the thing to work, that is.

And lest we leave out projectile weapons how about an offshoot of the electric aircraft catapult. The rail gun which fires projectiles with electricity at a muzzle velocity of better than 8,000 ft per second.
The Navy is researching rail guns because they would weigh less than conventional ones, and since they rely on electromagnetics to fire rounds, you wouldn't need a big, dangerous pile of explosives stored in a magazine. All of that means a lighter ship, and a much more deadly ship: a combat-ready rail gun would be able to fire Mach 5 projectiles over 200 miles with pinpoint accuracy, hitting 5 meter targets.

Yesterday's test firing at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division used just some of the potential 32-megajoules the laboratory test gun is capable of, and that's only half the 64-megajoules the Navy is aiming at for the final weapon.

If you follow the link you can watch some really cool videos.

It looks like the US Navy has a plan. And you know? I just love it when a plan comes together.

H/T just_an_observer at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:07 PM | Comments (8)

Equal holes for all?

The so-called "potty parity" movement is something I've had fun ridiculing in the past, but never took seriously. However, laughing at politically correct nonsense does not make it go away, because I've learned that over time, ridiculous things tend to become deadly serious.

Via an email from a friend, I've learned that his time, "potty parity" has emerged as a national inaugural issue:

A George Washington University law professor says the 5,000 port-o-potties planned for Inauguration Day will be "grossly inadequate."

Professor John Banzhaf, the so-called "Father of Potty Parity" sent a letter to the Presidential Inaugural Committee warning of potential lawsuits.

He says women, who take longer in the restroom, could be forced to wait in longer lines than men, and that amounts to discrimination.

Banzhaf says waiting in long lines is not just an inconvenience. It can trigger medical problems. He's asking the Presidential Inaugural Committee to make the toilets gender-neutral so that women do not have to wait longer than men.

If women taking longer amounts to "discrimination," then men are "discriminating" every time they urinate standing up! This means that not only are urinals discriminatory by their very nature, but men should be forced to sit on toilets just like women. Either that or make everyone stand to do everything, by means of a hole in the floor the way they do in much of Asia.

Unfortunately, I can't find any statement anywhere from Barack Obama addressing the "potty parity" issue.

Does he believe in equal, non-discriminatory holes?

Will anyone in our fearless media ask?

posted by Eric at 10:55 AM | Comments (12)

Cooling The Planet

Since water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas isn't it time to outlaw hot water and hang those who boil it?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:34 AM | Comments (3)

Holocaust Denier Added To List

That would be impending climate holocaust denier Physics professor William Happer. He is rather incendiary in his denial too.

Physics professor William Happer GS '64 has some tough words for scientists who believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.

"This is George Orwell. This is the 'Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.' It's that kind of propaganda," Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. "Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that's a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult."

Happer served as director of the Office of Energy Research in the U.S. Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush and was subsequently fired by Vice President Al Gore, reportedly for his refusal to support Gore's views on climate change. He asked last month to be added to a list of global warming dissenters in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report. The list includes more than 650 experts who challenge the belief that human activity is contributing to global warming.

Mr. Happer is a reasonable man. And being a reasonable man he gives his reasons for doubting man made CO2 caused climate change.
In a statement sent to the Senate as part of his request, Happer explained his reasoning for challenging the climate change movement, citing his research and scientific knowledge.

"I have spent a long research career studying physics that is closely related to the greenhouse effect, for example, absorption and emission of visible and infrared radiation, and fluid flow," he said in the statement. "Based on my experience, I am convinced that the current alarm over carbon dioxide is mistaken."

And there is some troubling news that clouds the veracity of some climate change scientists. They are funded by oil companies.
Happer said that he is alarmed by the funding that climate change scientists, such as Pacala and Socolow, receive from the private sector.

"Their whole career depends on pushing. They have no other reason to exist. I could care less. I don't get a dime one way or another from the global warming issue," Happer noted. "I'm not on the payroll of oil companies as they are. They are funded by BP."

BP is British Petroleum. Now why would they be interested in promoting global warming theories? Not to hard to figure out. Petroleum is a HYDROcarbon. Natural gas is a HYDROcarbon. As such it is at a competitive advantage to coal which is just plain CARBON. However, since water vapor is the most significant variable greenhouse gas, and since HYDROcarbons when burned make both CO2 and water vapor, then HYDROcarbons should actually be taxed more. And that hot steaming cup of coffee you have in the morning makes you an environmental criminal. You despoiler of the earth. Starbucks is ruining the Earth with all its hot beverages. The criminals.

Oh. Yeah. Where were we?

Happer explained that his beliefs about climate change come from his experience at the Department of Energy, at which Happer said he supervised all non-weapons energy research, including climate change research. Managing a budget of more than $3 billion, Happer said he felt compelled to make sure it was being spent properly. "I would have [researchers] come in, and they would brief me on their topics," Happer explained. "They would show up. Shiny faces, presentation ready to go. I would ask them questions, and they would be just delighted when you asked. That was true of almost every group that came in."

The exceptions were climate change scientists, he said.

"They would give me a briefing. It was a completely different experience. I remember one speaker who asked why I wanted to know, why I asked that question. So I said, you know I always ask questions at these briefings ... I often get a much better view of [things] in the interchange with the speaker," Happer said. "This guy looked at me and said, 'What answer would you like?' I knew I was in trouble then. This was a community even in the early 1990s that was being turned political. [The attitude was] 'Give me all this money, and I'll get the answer you like.' "

Happer said he is dismayed by the politicization of the issue and believes the community of climate change scientists has become a veritable "religious cult," noting that nobody understands or questions any of the science.

He noted in an interview that in the past decade, despite what he called "alarmist" claims, there has not only not been warming, there has in fact been global cooling. He added that climate change scientists are unable to use models to either predict the future or accurately model past events.

That last statement is not exactly true. The models predict that politicians will have to take more control over our lives. And that is a prediction that is hardly ever wrong.

Happer does get into the prediction business himself though.

"[Climate change theory has] been extremely bad for science. It's going to give science a really bad name in the future," he said. "I think science is one of the great triumphs of humankind, and I hate to see it dragged through the mud in an episode like this."
And that is a the real shame of politicized science. It is no longer the search for truth (or as close as we can approximate it) it is a search for money.

Which is why of all the scientific disciplines, I like engineering the best. If your bridges don't hold up people notice and the mistakes are researched and corrected rather quickly. On the other hand mistakes in "pure" science can get carried along for decades or longer. So my attitude is that it is not real science until it can be converted into engineering i.e. you can do something useful with it. That does not mean pure research is without value. It is just that the truth or value may not be known for a long time. A very good recent example of that is the "butter is bad, margarine is good" consensus. We are now 180 out from that consensus. It is now "butter is good, margarine is bad". Until some new research enters the field.

So how should one look at any scientific claims? If you are a true scientist you should be a sceptic. Because the ways of being fooled are uncountable. Myself? I'm a believer in doubt.

"I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning." - Aleister Crowley

H/T IceCap

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:08 PM | Comments (5)

They Kidnap Americans Don't They?

It seems there is a little trouble down Mexico way.

Touted as one of the safest cities of its size in the nation, El Paso is awakening to its southern neighbor's bloody nightmare.

City officials say that drug-related violence across the border in Ciudad Juárez is having a growing impact in El Paso. And the situation across Mexico is deteriorating so fast that retired five-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey warned in a new assessment of a refugee catastrophe that could devastate border cities.

"Mexico is on the edge of abyss," he said in a Dec. 28 report. "It could become a narco-state in the coming decade," and the result could be a "surge of millions of refugees crossing the U.S. border to escape the domestic misery of violence, failed economic policy, poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the mindless cruelty and injustice of a criminal state."

Just in case you are unaware of it the General was formerly Bill Clinton's Drug Czar.
The report helped ignite what has already been a sense of urgency among city leaders. Last week, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution that called for solidarity with Juárez. The resolution ignited local and national controversy after City Councilman Beto O'Rourke added a line calling for a once unthinkable strategy to neutralize Mexico's powerful cartels: legalizing drugs.

"We've reached such a level of crisis here along the border that all solutions now have to be on the table, including lifting the prohibition of narcotics," O'Rourke said. "Our national security is at stake."

To reach that level of crisis with alcohol prohibition it took the St. Valentines Day Massacre. So what is it taking wit drug prohibition? A whole border in flames.
One U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that each year "dozens" of El Pasoans are kidnapped by gangs working for Mexican cartels in Juárez.

"I've never seen it this way, and going into Juárez, and we go daily, it's like a war zone," said Jay J. Armes, a private investigator and former city councilman. "You don't know who's who and you don't know who's next,"

Armes said he worked on 70 kidnapping cases last year, seven of them involving El Pasoans kidnapped on the U.S. side and taken to Juárez, he said.

Armes said some of his Mexican clients are fleeing to cities in New Mexico and even "Dallas, if they can afford it."

"They're running as far away from the border as they can. And I mean they're running," he said.

The El Paso Police Department has said it knows of no kidnapping cases, and County Attorney José Rodríguez also said he knew of no cases.

"That doesn't mean it's not happening." he said. "We're just not getting people to come forward and file kidnapping reports."

Why would those who had friends or relatives kidnapped report it? The gangs would come after them next.

El Paso is the first. It won't be the last. As the violence and kidnappings escalate more and more people will begin doing openly what they have normally been doing in private. Questioning drug prohibition.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:03 PM | Comments (3)

The disappearance of the real world

Yesterday it was 72 degrees and sunny. T-shirt weather. As I worked outside, I remembered a reader's recent charge that I am enjoying a vacation of sorts, and while that was not true, I must admit that yesterday's balmy weather (in contrast to the coldness and dampness which characterized most of this trip) generated something akin to a vacation-like feeling which was wholly inappropriate, and downright disruptive of the Puritan work ethic which has haunted me all my life with its constant lurking. This disruptive sensation was aggravated by the fact that I am in Berkeley, California, a place arguably not even in the real world. (And where John McCain received 3-4% of the vote.)

On top of that, I hear that back at home in Ann Arbor, the temperatures are now in the single digits or lower!

What's a transplanted Californian to do? More and more of them seem to be retransplanting themselves:

The number of people leaving California for another state outstripped the number moving in from another state during the year ending on July 1, 2008. California lost a net total of 144,000 people during that period -- more than any other state, according to census estimates. That is about equal to the population of Syracuse, N.Y.

The state with the next-highest net loss through migration between states was New York, which lost just over 126,000 residents.

California's loss is extremely small in a state of 38 million. And, in fact, the state's population continues to increase overall because of births and immigration, legal and illegal. But it is the fourth consecutive year that more residents decamped from California for other states than arrived here from within the U.S.

A losing streak that long hasn't happened in California since the recession of the early 1990s, when departures outstripped arrivals from other states by 362,000 in 1994 alone.

In part because of the boom in population in other Western states, California could lose a congressional seat for the first time in its history.

It doesn't help much that the statist busybodies who run things are regulating normal life out of existence; just last week a plumbing supplier told me that hot water heater prices are going way up in a couple of months because of new "green" anti-nitrogen technology (although I see that the new rules are spreading eastward.) I've kvetched about the mandatory pet neutering movement, mandatory CFL lightbulbs, and more, but I wonder whether moving to flee statist regulation is a workable long-term solution.

Pretty soon no one will be living in the real world.

posted by Eric at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

EEStor Not Meeting Its Goals

It looks like EEStor is not meeting its goals for a testable prototype.

It's looking pretty official that EEStor won't be able to reach two important milestones for its automaker partner ZENN Motors by the end of 2008: delivering a prototype energy storage device and a having a third-party verify the high level of permittivity of the powders it's using in its technology. Tyler Hamilton of Clean Break quotes a letter that Ian Clifford, the CEO of ZENN Motors, sent out this week to ZENN investors that states EEStor isn't likely to meet either of those goals in the remaining days of 2008.
That is pretty serious. It means that the super energy density capacitor for energy storage EEStor was promising may just be a mirage or possibly even a high tech hoax.

I have written previously about EEStor at Ceramic Batteries.

According to the wiki there are more than a few sceptics although they are not named in the text.

Three technology experts hired by potential investors to investigate EEStor's technology have stated "it's not possible", "extremely unlikely that it's possible", "there's extreme skepticism", "there's nothing there", "it's ridiculous thinking", "it's beyond science fiction", and "I'm surprised that Kleiner has put money into it".
However links are provided to some of the people that make the quoted statements:

John Miller
Andrew Burke
Technology Review

It remains to be seen if this is a real breakthrough. At this point I'd have to rate it as not very likely. As one sceptic puts it: they are rating the devices they are making at their ultimate voltage. In the real world you have to rate such devices at 1/10th their ultimate voltage for long term reliability. Since power storage is related to the square of the voltage, actual real power storage in a real world application will be 1/100th the touted number. Which is not very exciting.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)

Room Temperature Superconductors?

We normally think of carbon as a high resistance material. The first practical electric light bulbs produced by Edison had carbon filaments. However, there is a new kid on the block based on carbon and it is not a superconductor, but it is close. Some recent research in nanotube properties shows very high current carrying capacities.

Relatively early in the research of nanotubes, Thess et al. calculated the resistivity of ropes of metallic SWNTs to be in the order of 1E-4 ohm-cm at 300 K. They did this by measuring the resistivity directly with a four-point technique. One of their values they measured was 0.34E-4 ohm-cm, which they noted would indicate that the ropes were the most highly conductive carbon fibers known, even factoring in their error in measurement. In the same study his measurements of the conductivity, Frank et al. was able to have reach a current density in the tube greater than 1E7 A/sq cm. Later, Phaedon Avouris suggested that stable current densities of nanotubes could be pushed as high as 1E13 A/cm2.
A SWNT is a Single Walled Nano Tubes.

So how does that compare to copper? For household wiring typical current density is 500A/sq cm and ultimate current density is maybe 10X that with the wires near the melting point or beyond. In round numbers 1E4 A/sq cm vs 1E7 A/sq cm for carbon nanotubes. In other words 1,000 times the current density. At a weight per unit volume of about 1/4 that of copper. Copper resistivity at room temperature is about 1.7E-4 ohm-cm. So carbon nanotubes can carry about 5X as much current as an equivalent volume of copper for the same losses.

If we can get this stuff into mass production - which is likely to take twenty or thirty years - we can rewire the grid we have for 5X times as much power as it handles now or the same power with 1/5th the losses. Not room temperature superconductors, but a definite improvement.

H/T IntLibber at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

War Profiteers

Hamas has found a way to profit from its war with Israel.

Hamas on Monday raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders.

The IDF said that since terminal activity is coordinated with UNRWA and the Red Cross, Israel could do nothing to prevent such raids, Israel Radio reported.

Between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the army had ceased all military activity in Gaza and once again established a "humanitarian corridor" to help facilitate the transfer of the supplies.

Evidently Iranian cash is no longer enough to keep Hamas running. After bringing death and destruction to the Palestinians by keeping their war with Israel going, they have to steal food out of the mouth's of their own people to keep themselves going.

I don't think that Hamas is going to be in charge of Gaza for too long after the fighting stops. And to make the change happen Egypt is training Fatah fighters who will no doubt be escorted to Gaza through the Egyptian border once the fighting stops.

"The Iranians and Syrians are using Hamas to undermine the Palestinian Authority and other moderate Arab governments," the Fatah official told the Post. "Victory for Hamas in this war would mean victory for Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. This is something we need to prevent."

The official expressed hope that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would revolt against Hamas when the IDF operation ended. He also expressed hope that Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh would be tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians. "Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."

The official would neither confirm nor deny a report according to which Egypt was training Fatah activists to regain control over the Gaza Strip. According to the report, some 300 Fatah militiamen who had fled to Egypt during the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007 were being trained by Egyptian security experts.

Ahmed Abdel Rahman, the official Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, mocked statements made by Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to the effect that Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip had failed.

Evidently not every one involved in the war sees what is going on as a Hamas victory. Maybe the Arabs are not totally delusional after all. Just some of them.

The light of reality may be finally shining on the Middle East. There has been a sea change among the Arabs. Their rhetoric is unchanged, but their policy is different. They are now in fear for their future. They can see the end of oil. Not soon. Maybe in fifty years, maybe a hundred, but the sands of time are running out of the hour glass and the oil is running out of the sands of the Middle East. If they are to survive on other than charity they have to make things the world wants.

The first thing they intend to make to reach that goal is a Palestinian State. The Palestinians are relatively well educated. Arafat after all was an engineer. The Palestinians under good government will unite to reform the Middle East. There is nothing the Israelis want more than to see its neighbors prosper. The reasons are two fold. One is that such a stance is part of their culture. The other is that well off nations need no longer use Israel as a scape goat for their failures.

They were so close in 2000 to the irreversible integration of the Palestinian and Israeli economies. So close. It may take a couple of decades, but I think the reintegration of the Israeli and Palestinian economies is now on the table. Followed closely by a change in the Arab culture and economy. I'm sure the hope is that the Israeli work ethic will rub off on the people of the Middle East. It will be difficult.

In that regard America is very fortunate. It is one of the few places in the world where aristocracy never took root. There is no monarch in America to confer titles. No Kings, no Queens, no Dukes, no Duchesses. The children of our wealthy have no special place in our society. If they want a place they have to earn it. It can't be earned by their ancestors. This is a huge change in culture for the Middle East. If they want it to take hold by the time the oil runs out they will have to get cracking. I think they finally know that.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:29 PM | Comments (7)

Victory Is Near

Victory is near in Gaza for Hamas. Yep. You heard that right. For Hamas.

For the second time since Israel launched its offensive in the Gaza Strip, Hamas television aired a taped message delivered by group leader Ismail Haniyeh on Monday. In the message, Haniyeh declared that Hamas was determined to continue fighting despite Israel's military offensive in the Strip.

"Gaza will not break - our victory over the Zionists is near," Haniyeh said in a fiery speech. "Our fate is in the hands of Allah, so what power could the sons of Zion against him? Allah will take his revenge on them."

These people are delusional.

In other news somewhat closer to reality, Bush says that Hamas must stop the rockets.

U.S. President George W. Bush gave his last press conference at the White House on Monday, 8 days before the inauguration of incoming president Barack Obama, calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, but emphasizing Israel's right to defend itself.

As Israeli troops continued targeting Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip for the 17 day, Bush said that Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel in order for an effective cease-fire to take hold in Gaza and said Israel should avoid harming innocent people there.

"Israel has a right to defend herself," the president told reporters at the White House. "Obviously, in any of these kinds of situations I would hope that she would continue to be mindful of innocent folks and that they help expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid."

"I'm for a sustainable cease-fire, he said, adding that such a truce would require Hamas' agreement to halt firing rockets into Israel. There will not be a sustainable cease-fire if they continue firing rockets. I happen to believe the choice is Hamas' to make."

Bush gave his backing to Egyptian-led efforts to secure a truce that would end the smuggling of weapons into Gaza through underground tunnels. Israel has been pounding the underground arteries with air strikes since it launched the operation on Dec. 27.

I think if we put two and two together we can come to some kind of reasonable conclusion. Hamas is very near the breaking point. So why the announcement of defeat by calling it a victory? It is due to a rule in the Middle East: Arabs never lose wars.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)

Halting The Cartels

Former anti-narcotics officer Terry Nelson says - the only way to halt the drug cartels is to legalize drugs.

As a retired federal officer with over three decades of service, many of those years spent fighting America's "war on drugs," I was pleased to read that the El Paso City Council unanimously called for a long overdue discussion on the effectiveness of our nation's drug policies.

You might be surprised that a veteran anti-drug agent would be glad the council specifically said drug legalization should be included in this new national conversation.

But in my view, based on what I saw on both sides of the border over my career, ending drug prohibition is the only sure-fire way to end the cartel violence that is terrorizing El Paso's sister city of Ciudad Juárez and others across Mexico.

The cartel leaders who control illegal drug production and distribution never hesitate to kill each other, police or anyone who stands in the way of their rich profits.

And the alarming increase in illegal drug-market violence Mexico has seen over the last two years is because of -- and not despite -- President Felipe Calderon's ramped-up war against traffickers. As top bosses are busted, others violently struggle to take their place, and the cycle continues.

Only when we take away their profit margins by legalizing drugs will the cartels' financial incentive for murder disappear.

Nice to hear it from an expert in the field.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:06 PM | Comments (4)

Hamas Is Weakening

Hamas is getting heavy pressure from Iran to keep on fighting.

Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday.

The official told The Jerusalem Post by phone that two senior Iranian officials who visited Damascus recently warned Hamas leaders against accepting the proposal.

His remarks came as Hamas representatives met in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and his aides to discuss ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas representatives reiterated their opposition to a cease-fire that did not include the reopening of all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen said on Sunday.

The spokesmen said Hamas voiced its strong opposition to the idea of deploying an international force inside the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian official said that the two Iranian emissaries, Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Said Jalili of the Iranian Intelligence Service, met in the Syrian capital with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shallah.

"As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched the two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it," the Egyptian government official told the Post.

"The Iranians threatened to stop weapons supplies and funding to the Palestinian factions if they agreed to a cease-fire with Israel. The Iranians want to fight Israel and the US indirectly. They are doing this through Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon."

This can only mean that Hamas is seriously hurting. It also means Iran is expecting full price for what it has paid for. It probably also means that they can't afford to pay for much rebuilding and would like to put off for a few more days at least the tendering of the bill. However, every day they put off payment causes the price to go up. Perhaps they are expecting the price of oil to spike. If so they are out of luck. After going up to the $50 a bbl. range oil has fallen back to around $40 a bbl. With Hizballah quiet and Hamas taking a very serious beating Iran has lost a lot of prestige with the current war.

Perhaps Iran is hoping that in only eight more days the new administration in Washington will save them. With respect to that I think it will be a question of who gave Obama more funds for his election campaign the Saudis or the Iranians, and/or who he intends to double cross throw under the bus.

Meanwhile the Syrians are putting in a token appearance.

The fighting in Gaza appeared to reach the Golan Heights on Sunday when gunshots were fired at an IDF vehicle along the border with Syria. It was the second attack along Israel's northern border since Operation Cast lead began in late December.
If a serious attack by Syria was planned they would not fire a few token shots to announce their intentions. I think the urban renewal that Lebanon got in 2006 has decided the question for the Syrians. I don't think they want a piece of that action given that their patron Iran is in serious internal financial difficulties with inflation in Iran running well above the CIA estimate of around 18%.

It also appears that Egypt is considering digging a moat across southern Gaza to deter future smuggling tunnels.

Egypt is considering a range of proposals on how to stop weapons smuggling through tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor into Gaza, including the construction of a moat along the border that separates the Sinai desert from the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Israel has destroyed close to 150 tunnels since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead but estimates that there are at least another 150 tunnels along the 14-kilometer corridor. On Sunday, the Air Force bombed close to 30 tunnels that it said were used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, is scheduled to travel to Egypt later this week to hear Cairo's offer concerning the tunnels.

Since the operation began, Hamas has made attempts to smuggle weapons into Gaza through the remaining tunnels, officials said. Iran, they added, was trying to get explosives and weaponry - including long-range rockets - to the Sinai, from where supplies are transferred into the Gaza Strip.

While Israel has conditioned its acceptance of a cease-fire on an end to smuggling, the Egyptians have made clear that it will not permit the deployment of a foreign military presence on its sovereign territory. Egypt has however agreed to receive technological assistance from different countries including Germany and the United States, which has already sent combat engineers to Rafah in an advisory capacity.

The ring is tightening around Hamas and Iran.

Iran's last hope is getting atomic weapons. And even they they are not out of the woods. The weapons are defensive in nature, because if they use them offensively they will get wiped out. However, they are still trying.

The Iranian businessman was looking for high-quality American electronics, but he had to act stealthily: The special parts he coveted were denied to Iranians, especially those seeking to make roadside bombs to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

With a few e-mails, the problem was solved. A friendly Malaysian importer would buy the parts from a company in Linden, N.J., and forward them to Iran. All that was left was coming up with a fake name for the invoice. Perhaps a Malaysian engineering school? "Of course, you can use any other company as end-user that you think is better than this," the Iranian businessman, Ahmad Rahzad, wrote in an e-mail dated March 8, 2007.

The ruse succeeded in delivering nine sensors called inclinometers to Iran, the first of several such shipments that year and the latest example of what U.S. officials and weapons experts describe as Iran's skillful flouting of export laws intended to stop lethal technology from reaching the Islamic republic.

Inclinometers are gravity based attitude sensors. They would most likely be used in rocket guidance systems. I'm sure that is not all the Iranians are looking for. What all this means is that Iran has not given up its atomic ambitions.

There is a book out, Human Security in East Asia: Challenges for Collaborative Action, dealing with atomic weapons in the Near East. The Daily Times is of the opinion that the weapons are defensive in nature.

Nuclear deterrence is also not what it used to be, that is, the US deterring another superpower. Today it is challenged to deal with asymmetric nuclear threats which could come from a terrorist organization. Medium and small sized states acquiring weapons through proliferation seek to deter in a variety of patterns: to stave off conventional invasion, to shake off coercion and blackmail, etc. North Korea's weapons deter coercive action in the region by the US; Iran wants to avoid 'regime change' compulsions; and Pakistan wants to deter perceived military aggression from India. On the other hand, India wishes to ensure security for its posture of a global power.

The new nuclear states face dangerous constraints -- dangerous because they compel unorthodox behavior -- like scarce resources, lack of technology and domestic scientific expertise and, last but not least, an undertow of suicidal nationalism. Once the weapons are acquired, the problem of establishing a command and control is compounded once again because of lack of technology and funds. India and Pakistan are faced with severe constraints in establishing their command and control systems, thus introducing the world to a new series of dangers, including accidental launch and repossession by terrorists.

It is possible that with Iran in such a precarious financial situation it fears internal problems more than external ones. Of course thinking you know the other guy's intentions while being severely mistaken is how wars start. Or at least start badly. One only need look up the history of December 7th, 1941 (At Dawn We Slept is a good one) to see the folly of not preparing for capabilities rather than relying on perceived intentions to see the folly of the method of intentions.

So where will all this lead? In the near term Iran is going to have trouble buying new friends and keeping old ones.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:10 PM | Comments (2)

15 Seconds

This short video explains why there is a war between Hamas and Israel. You can see other videos in this series at sderotmedia23.

How is it going for the Philistine rocketeers? The Israeli military reports that Hamas is getting tired. They also seem to be losing their enthusiasm for a fight.

A senior Israeli military commander involved in Operation Cast Lead said on Saturday that Hamas militants are suffering from exhaustion and are deserting battle.

The commander told reporters that Amir Mansi, the commander of Hamas' rocket-launching program in the Gaza City area who was killed by the Israel Defense Forces on Saturday, fired mortars himself after junior Hamas operatives refused to go outside, fearing an Israeli strike.

Hamas is supposed to have 20,000 trained fighters in Gaza. The Israeli Army estimates they have killed 300. An estimate of wounded would be around 3 to 10 times the number of killed. Say we are moderately conservative and account it at 4 times the number of killed. That would tell us that 1,500 fighters are out of action. About 7 1/2%. When a military organization loses 10% of its forces it is considered to have lost almost all its combat power. If the tooth to tail ratio in the Philistine forces is double that of a typical Army the organization might have to be reduced by 20% to lose its combat power. At the rate of 30 killed a day (150 out of action including wounded) it will take Israel about 17 more days to fully reduce the Philistines combat power to a negligible value. That may not be quick enough given the international political realities. Thus the Israeli Army will intensify the fight in order to up the rate of Philistine casualties.

So how are ordinary Palestinian taking the fighting? Some of them miss the Jews.

Back in Gush Katif, Itai's father, Yossi, owned a cement factory, where he employed Palestinians from Khan Yunis and the Muwassi area.

"Before the 'expulsion' they helped us put up our protest signs," says Yael Noyman, Itai's mother. "I know, it's surprising, right? We asked them, 'Do you know what these say?' And they said, 'Oh, sure, we understand.'"

The family is still in touch with many of those workers, Noyman says, and they aren't shy about saying how much they miss the Jews. "Boy, are they really crying now," she says, referring less to the current fighting than to the stagnation and hardship that have characterized the Gaza Strip since disengagement in 2005. "They're just waiting for the Israelis to come back in on their tanks and put everything back to the way it was."

And how was it? The Israelis provided security and jobs. What has Hamas provided? A civil war with Fatah and oppression of the people of Gaza by attempting to impose strict Islamic fundamentalism on them. Hamas was supposed to give them a fundamentalist moral purity that was intended to get them right with Allah so Allah would give them victory. Given the rain of bombs it appears Allah has something else in mind.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:24 AM | Comments (2)

Last Chance For No Chance

Israel is warning the Philistines of a wider war in order to reach its objectives of stopping rocket attacks on its territory and preventing rearmament of the Philistines of Gaza.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israel dropped bombs and leaflets on Gaza Saturday, pounding suspected rocket sites and tunnels used by Hamas militants and warning of a wider offensive despite frantic diplomacy to end the bloodshed.

Egypt hosted talks aimed at defusing the crisis, but war had the momentum on a bloody day on which more than 30 Palestinians, many of them noncombatants, were killed.

At hospitals, distraught relatives -- men in jeans and jackets and women in black Islamic robes -- sobbed and shrieked at the loss of family. Flames and smoke rose over Gaza City amid heavy fighting.

So far Hamas (or should I say Harm Us?) has declared that they will not agree to Israel's terms.
A top Hamas leader said the Gaza war has killed the last chance for settlement and negotiations with Israel.
Yeah. The Israelis are always blowing their last chances. Except if you read the Hamas Charter.
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

They are getting their jihad. They are getting their martyrs. And they are getting creamed. I guess it is the last part they object to.

In any case, given the Hamas Charter what chance was there of an equitable negotiated solution with Hamas? None. So the Israelis have lost their last chance for no solution. I believe, however, the Hamas guy is lying. The Israelis will have future chances at no solution. After all since 1948 Israel has had numerous chances at no solution.

But neither strength nor magnanimity nor the combination of the two has solved Israel's basic problem. For all its brilliant victories on the battlefield, its gains in regional diplomacy remain modest. The Six-Day War of 1967, one of the most decisive military triumphs in history, led not to acceptance but to the famous "Three No's" of the Khartoum conference ("no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it").
The wars with Israel will go on until the Arabs find something better to do with their lives. Some times these things take centuries to work out. Israel should be in no hurry. After all their enemies are in no rush for a settlement of differences.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

Total War

Brought to you by that great American comedian Richard Milhous Nixon.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

American Conservatism

American conservatism is different. What are the core beliefs of American Conservatives?

Government has certain limited functions (keeping the peace, enforcing contracts, limiting fraud, defending the nation, enhancing commerce by reducing impediments) that should be strictly limited in order to minimize the damage that government operatives operating under the power of the state can do.

By that definition there are very few conservatives in America. There were proportionately a lot more when the nation was founded.

America has devolved into two main camps - the moral socialists and the economic socialists.

The "leave us alone" camp - the true American Conservatives - are not well represented.

Even the moral socialists are not well represented in the media which consists mainly of economic socialists.

So who are the American Conservatives in the media? John Stossel, and Penn and Teller.

Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. are in the moral socialist faction.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:09 PM | Comments (4)


I just happened across an interesting page on signals intelligence. Signals intelligence is about finding out what the enemy is doing by intercepting radio and other electromagnetic signals. There is a lot of information at the link but let me focus on one small part to give you a flavor of the page.

Monitoring friendly communications

More a part of communications security than true intelligence collection, SIGINT units still may have the responsibility of monitoring one's own communications or other electronic emissions, to avoid providing intelligence to the enemy. For example, a security monitor may hear an individual transmitting inappropriate information over an unencrypted radio network, or simply one that is not authorized for the type of information being given. If immediately calling attention to the violation would not create an even greater security risk, the monitor will call out one of the BEADWINDOW codes[9] used by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other nations working under their procedures. Standard BEADWINDOW codes (e.g., "BEADWINDOW 2") include:

I'm just going to give a couple of the BREADWINDOW codes and an example of how they can lead to an adverse impact during war time.
5. Friendly or enemy key personnel: "Movement or identity of friendly or enemy officers, visitors, commanders; movement of key maintenance personnel indicating equipment limitations."
7. Wrong circuit: "Inappropriate transmission. Information requested, transmitted or about to be transmitted which should not be passed on the subject circuit because it either requires greater security protection or it is not appropriate to the purpose for which the circuit is provided."
Leading to:
In WWII, for example, the Japanese Navy made possible the interception and death of the Combined Fleet commander, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, by BEADWINDOW 5 and 7 violations. They identified a key person's movement over a low-security cryptosystem.
The study of crypto and communications intelligence is one of my hobbies. If it interests you the link is provided.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:45 AM | Comments (2)

Democrats Against Tax Cuts

It seems that the Democrats are unhappy about Mr. Obama's proposed tax cuts.

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama's proposed tax cuts ran into opposition Thursday from senators in his own party who said they wouldn't do much to stimulate the economy or create jobs. Senators from both parties agreed that Congress should do something to stimulate the economy. But Democratic senators emerging from a private meeting of the Senate Finance Committee criticized business and individual tax cuts in Obama's stimulus plan.

They were especially critical of a proposed $3,000 tax credit for companies that hire or retrain workers.

"If I'm a business person, it's unlikely if you give me a several-thousand-dollar credit that I'm going to hire people if I can't sell the products they're producing," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of the committee.

"That to me is just misdirected," Conrad said.

Sen John Kerry, D-Mass., said, "I'd rather spend the money on the infrastructure, on direct investment, on energy conversion, on other kinds of things that much more directly, much more rapidly and much more certainly create a real job."

And what kind of energy conversion mosts interests the Democrats? The conversion of your energy into theirs.

I looked at the question of tax cuts a few days ago and came to the conclusion that they give a bigger economic boost than straight spending increases.

One of those studies was done by Obama's new chief economic advisor, Christina Romer of UC Berkeley, who found $3 in increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for every $1 in tax cuts. Increased spending generates at best a mere 40 cents of GDP growth on the dollar. Third, that 40 cents actually goes to special interests like labor unions, politically influential contractors in favored industries and state and local political allies of the party in power.
So tax cuts promote the general welfare and spending increases amount to political payoffs.

The rhetoric of the Democrats is lofty. The intent is corrupt. I see a theme here. The most effective tax cuts would be on businesses. That means that profitable businesses could expand faster. Which in a rational world is exactly what you want. But then the politics of envy kicks in and the politicians want to punish winners and reward losers.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this mess. Nothing good I'd wager. If I had any money to bet.

Christina Roemer has edited a book about motivation and inflation. Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy. It is a collection of essays by various economists discussing the problems of inflation and how to set up incentives to keep it under control. I sure hope Mr. Obama reads it. It was published by the University of Chicago Press which would tend to indicate that Christina was influenced by the Chicago Boyz. That would be Milton Friedman of Free to Choose fame and others of the monetarist school of national finance.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)

Israel Has Clout At UN

Now there is a headline I bet you thought you would never see. And I bet you can't guess who is supporting them at the UN. It is not just the USA.

The United Nations Security Council met overnight Thursday on a resolution designed to bring a speedy halt to Israel's 13-day-old offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The vote over a resolution was apparently postponed due to Israeli pressure.

Key Arab nations and Western powers reached agreement on the main elements of a resolution, the head of the Arab League said.

The resolution was supported by the United States and Arab nations that have close ties to Hamas. But it will be up to Israel and Hamas to decide to stop their military activities.

"Peace will be made in the region, not in New York, but actions in New York can support the search for peace in the region," a senior British official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

That is diplo speak by the Ababs for "Thump Hamas as hard as you want. We don't mind. In fact we encourage it."

The "deal" starts out with the usual boilerplate.

The latest draft "stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza." It "condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism."
And then it gets to the good stuff.
The draft also calls on UN member states "to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable cease-fire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re-opening" of border crossings.
It is well known that the border crossings will not be permanently re-opened until the Philistines stop their attacks through the crossings. Which means Gaza needs a new government because Hamas is committed irrevocably to the destruction of Israel.

This is a sea change in Middle East politics. One that actually happened in 2006. And why are the Arabs so inclined? Rather simple really. They fear Iran more than they fear Israel. This fact has been obvious since the Hizballah war of 2006 when Saudi Arabia came out at the beginning of the war supporting Israel at the expense of Hizballah/Iran. At least at first until hastily retracted in solidarity with their Philistine "brothers". That would be the brothers Saudi Arabia kicked out of its territory when they started getting all militant and such. Bunch of trouble makers those Philistines.

And what about the strategic defeat Israel suffered in 2006 against Hizballah? It looks like Hizballah is in no hurry to defeat Israel again.

"Lebanon denounces and condemns the firing of rockets and the retaliatory action and believes that such action is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701," Siniora said in a statement, according to Lebanese press reports.

"We have asked the competent authorities in cooperation with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to investigate," he said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the rocket firing, which lightly wounded two elderly residents of a retirement home in Nahariya.

Of course the government of Lebanon wants no part of a repeat of 2006. But what about the "real winners" Hizballah?
Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri told AFP that Hizbullah had assured the cabinet that it "remains committed to stability and Resolution 1701," which brought an end to the Second Lebanon War.
Followed by the usual Hizballah chest thumping.
A Damascus-based leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Ahmed Jibril, threatened Saturday to open up new military fronts against Israel if the conflict in Gaza were to escalate.
What exactly does if the conflict in Gaza were to escalate mean? I'd say it was already fairly well escalated.

I think it may fairly well be assumed that the players in the Middle East think that Hamas deserved a thumping. And that includes their main supporter Iran. Now why the sea change? The oil is running out. Not soon. Maybe not for fifty or a hundred years. But the end is in sight. And if not the actual supply of oil then the demand. The world has gotten serious about getting off the oil standard. How serious? So serious that even China is producing a plug in hybrid.

BYD Auto's plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the F3DM, is now on sale in China, the company announced this week at a press conference in Shenzhen, China.

The F3DM, which will retail for 149,800 yuan ($21,200), can travel 100 km (63 miles) on its battery before needing to be recharged, according to BYD Auto.

The car can be plugged in to any average Chinese 220-volt wall outlet to be recharged.

While there are other plug-in electric hybrid cars available for sale, BYD Auto's F3DM is the first one in China to be mass-produced and, therefore, widely available to the general public, according to both BYD and The Wall Street Journal.

BYD Auto told reporters at the press conference that it expects to sell 350,000 F3DM cars in 2009. It also plans to launch an all-electric vehicle in 2009.

And who is behind BYD? Now there is an interesting story. but I will give you a hint. Who would guess that the center of the automotive world is no longer Detroit (well that is obvious) but in Omaha, Nebraska? Omaha, Nebraska? That is not so obvious.
In September, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet announced that MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, had bought $230 million worth of stock in BYD, giving it a 10 percent interest in the company.

Average Americans may also soon have a chance to buy a piece of BYD. The company also announced that it plans to begin exporting the F3DM to the U.S. in 2010.

Many automakers, including General Motors and Toyota, have been working on plug-in electric vehicles for mass production. All have said that the battery technology for this type of vehicle has been the most challenging aspect of the development process.

It should be no surprise then, that the Shenzhen, China-based company which is now a major player in the Chinese auto industry, started out in 1995 as a cell phone battery manufacturer.

The plans for an American roll out in 2010 have been delayed to at least 2011. In any case the hand writing is on the wall. The dominance of oil will come to an end. Not soon. But the end is in sight.

And how about those geniuses in Detroit? GM has put the Chevy Volt factory on hold.

General Motors is suspending work on the $370 million factory slated to build engines for the Chevrolet Volt, but says the plug-in hybrid will appear in showrooms by the end of 2010 as promised.

The decision comes as GM frantically slashes costs in a desperate bid to survive while the White House dithers on a bailout. GM and Chrysler have said they could be out of money by the end of the year, but Congress failed to approve $14 billion in short-term loans to the Big Three and the Bush administration appears to be in no hurry to act.

With cash dwindling fast, GM says it has no choice but to postpone work on the the factory in Flint, Michigan, where 300 people would build the 1.4-liter engines slated for the Volt hybrid and Chevrolet Cruze compact.

"It's temporarily on hold as we assess our cash situation," GM spokeswoman Sharon Basel told the Detroit Free Press. "I don't think it's any surprise that we're studying and reviewing everything, given the position we're in."

GM is doing everything short of searching for coins under the couch cushions in Rick Wagoner's office, but the Volt program has until now been sacrosanct. Rightfully so, because the range-extended electric car is the centerpiece of GM's campaign to recast itself as a company that builds fuel-efficient vehicles. It's the one thing GM can point to and say "See? We get it. We finally get it." But things have gotten so bad even the Volt is taking a hit.


In any case new car companies will step into the breech. And some old companies like Toyota are hustling their butts to get a plug in hybrid on the market. And if you can't wait there are plug in hybrid conversion kits.

Not content to be a potential supplier of lithium ion batteries for GM's plug-in hybrid programs, A123 Systems will start selling battery packs that conversion companies can use to transform current hybrid vehicles to plug-in capability. The company has already been working with Hymotion on plug-in kits and they have a contract to convert ten Prius for the California South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The kits will be completely integrated and designed to be installed in under two hours. The installed price of the 5kWh kit for a Prius is $10,000 and gives a range of 14 miles on battery. A123 CEO David Vieau testified at a recent US Senate hearing in support of tax breaks for customers buying plug-in conversions. Fleet testing of the systems is ongoing and sales are expected to start in 2008.

And if not 2008 then soon.

The lithium ion batteries are the stumbling block as evidenced by comments #30, #34, and others at the link. However, the problems will get solved. There is a lot of money at stake.

Well we are kind of far afield from the Gaza 2009 war. Which just goes to show you that everything in this world is interconnected. Some obscure guy in a lab is even now working on something that will change the world for the better in a big way. Hamas should have been paying attention. Fools. Peace in the Middle East through better battery technology.

So now you know why Israel has clout among the Arabs at the UN. Batteries.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:01 PM | Comments (2)

Hamas Is Winning

The leaders of Hamas say they are winning the war in Gaza. They also say they hope to get a truce in 48 hours.

A senior Hamas source in Gaza says the group is optimistic about the prospect of securing a ceasefire with Israel in the near future.

"We can secure a truce within 48 hours," an aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Ynet.

Ahmed Yusuf, Haniyeh's spokesman and political advisor, is a party to ongoing consultations in Gaza. Meanwhile, a delegation headed to Cairo to discuss the Egyptian-French ceasefire proposal. However, Israeli officials estimate that Hamas' political leadership in the Strip does not fully dictate the military moves on the ground.

Meanwhile the Israelis who Hamas says are losing the battle say they would prefer the fighting to go on a while longer as they have some objectives hey would still like to meet.
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers expressed doubt over whether military efforts alone could bring regime change in the Gaza Strip, and said the army is far from achieving optimal conditions in the Strip to implement an exit strategy.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has instructed the army to prepare for action in Gaza since March 2007, shortly after he entered the post. That month, military programs were authorized that were eventually put into action as Operation Cast Lead.

The meetings dealt with the situation Israel seeks to see in the Strip after military operations are complete. An official present said the optimal situation would include several elements: steep reduction in rocket fire; neutralization of terror infrastructure; weakening of Hamas' position and organization, as well as its removal from power; creation of a "deterrent balance"; and reducing public support for the militant movement. In addition, Israel should not be viewed as being responsible for the Palestinian population, but the role should go to a central Palestinian establishment created in Gaza, led by moderate, pragmatic officials.

There is more news along those lines.

Israel has yet to exhaust all of its military options in the Gaza Strip and could step up its actions against Hamas if the government decides to press forward with Operation cast Lead, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday during a tour of the South.

Olmert also said that he was deeply impressed by the IDF's performance and achievements to date.

"The bottom line is that the test requiring a decision by the political echelon is how to ensure that the reality the IDF is currently in the act of changing does not again control the South, and that quiet prevails," Olmert said.

"We have yet to arrive at this situation, and the army still hasn't been asked to carry out everything that is required to this end. So the decision still awaits us."

Translation: the Army still has some tricks up its sleeve and may need more time to accomplish its goals. It sure sounds to me like the Israelis are losing. They want the war to go on longer. And of course Hamas who is winning wants it to end ASAP. It sure sounds like Lebanon 2006 where the Arabs never lose and the Israelis never win. Another great victory for the mighty Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the bankrollers of Hamas and Hizballah Iran is pulling in its claws. They are advising their jihadists that suicide bombings and other militant activity against Israel is not the way to go.

Iran's top leader has banned hard-line Iranian volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel.

Iran's state television on Thursday quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying that Iran can't allow volunteers to cross its border and take military action against Israel. But he said Iran won't spare any efforts to assist Hamas in other ways.

Maybe like getting them to surrender ASAP?

This is definitely a new direction for the Iranian regime. I wonder why they have had a change of heart. Did some one tell them that although they may not be interested in war that war is interested in them? Some one certainly whispered something in their ear. Perhaps low oil prices are keeping them on a short leash.

The correlation of forces does not appear to be to their advantage.

Did I mention oil prices? After a recent spike up to near $50 a bbl prices have fallen back to around $42 a bbl. Some analyst estimate that Iran needs prices near $90 a bbl. To keep its economy afloat. Obviously prices are around 1/2 that.

And Iran is having trouble buying diesel fuel.

Iran has reportedly bought three million barrels of gas oil from a Singapore trader to compensate for a loss of supplies from India.

Hin Leong already supplied Iran with one million barrels of gas oil (diesel) in December, with another cargo of the same size due to be sent later in January, the Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed trader as saying.

Industry sources had said this week that the deal was for January to March, Reuters reported.

Iran signed a deal with India's MPRL in May to export 240,000 tons of gas oil up to December. The volume of the deal was doubled in August. Iran lacks adequate refining capacity to meet domestic demand.

However, the two sides have failed to resolve a price dispute. MPRL has confirmed that it was not slated to ship any cargoes to Iran in January, which might have prompted Tehran to turn to the Singapore trader.

Ah yes. A price dispute. I think that means Iran is not paying its bills.

Another sign of Iran's money troubles is that it is proposing an to end gasoline subsidies.

Faced with falling oil prices and a weakening economy, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented a plan to Parliament on Tuesday that would scrap energy subsidies, a significant change in a major oil-producing country where gasoline is sold for 36 cents a gallon.

Economists warn that the move could spur inflation and raise unemployment. But Mr. Ahmadinejad urged Parliament to vote for the bill because of the need to curb costly energy consumption, which the subsidies have encouraged.

Gasoline prices on the world market are now running about $1.10 a gallon. That would mean a factor of three increase in price. And yes - until the economy adjusts that would represent a rather severe hit to the Iranian economy.

And it is not just gasoline.

Electricity is now sold at just 6 cents per 10 kilowatt-hours. The plan would abolish all government subsidies for things like heating gas, gasoline, electricity and water within the next three years and allow prices to reach international levels.

While the plan seems likely to be unpopular, Mr. Ahmadinejad's critics say he is trying to offset its impact and appeal to voters ahead of the June 2009 presidential election by also promising to give much of the money that is now paid in subsidies directly to the poor in the form of a monthly allowance.

The amount he proposes for the allowance is not yet clear, but monthly assistance to the poor has steadily dropped to $20 per person every month from nearly $70.

I think what the economic geniuses of Iran are finally figuring out is that oil socialism is not a viable long term economic strategy. And of course all that impacts their ability to fight proxy wars. Even proxies want to get paid.

After the war in Lebanon in 2006, Iran opened its checkbook in an effort to mollify the Hizballh supporters who had taken a severe financial beating from the war. Israel did some serious urban renewal and the Iranians had to pay to keep their clients. Facing severe economic strains at home such a move, very unpopular in Iran in 2006, may be impossible for them in Gaza. Such difficulties may explain why Hizballah has refrained from joining in the current war in any more than a token way.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

Science Toys - 2
Electric Motor Kit
In the second of my series on scientific toys I want to look at one of the foundations of modern civilization. The electric motor. Here is a nice Electric Motor Kit that sells for a very reasonable $10.75. Here is another science kit that includes an electric motor and other experiments, ScienceWiz Inventions Experiment Kit and Book 13 Experiments, for $19.99.

The history of the electric motor is a long one and starts with the discovery of electromagnetism by Michael Faraday. He built his first motor in 1821. You can read more about Michael Faraday by getting the book: Michael Faraday and the Discovery of Electromagnetism. That brings us to a very interesting point. The invention of the first electric car.

Jedlik Electric Car
Now obviously the car was a toy. But the idea is there. And it was invented in 1828 just seven years after Faraday's discovery of electromagnetism. I'd say that was pretty astounding progress for the time. You can learn about the history of electric cars at Electric and Hybrid Cars: A History and also at The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History. Now suppose you want to build your own electric vehicle? There is a how to book that will help: Build Your Own Electric Vehicle

And then there is Thomas Davenport, The Brandon Blacksmith: Inventor Of The Electric Motor who was the first to use the electric motor commercially. He used it to power a printing press. Due to the high cost of batteries (tell me about it) his invention was a commercial failure.

The great American inventor Edison who was the first to electrify a few city blocks is probably the most interesting inventor in America given what he accomplished with the materials and understanding available in his time. Here are a few books on Edison, his life and his times. I'd like to start with Working at Inventing: Thomas A. Edison and the Menlo Park Experience because I actually visited Edison's Menlo Park lab in the summer of 1954 when I was a kid of 10. It was a fascinating experience. The lab was untouched for a number of years and was quite dusty. If you live on the East Coast be sure to visit.

Here are some more biographies of Edison you might like.
Edison: Inventing the Century
Thomas Edison and Modern America: An Introduction with Documents
Edison and the Business of Innovation
Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

Which brings us to Nikola Tesla who once worked for Edison. In the 1940 movie Edison the Man with Spencer Tracy as Edison, Tesla was called Michael Simon probably to avoid distracting from the focus on Edison. Well it certainly distracts me.

Here is a Tesla book I read a while back and really enjoyed. It covers some of Tesla's inventions in his own words. It gives a feel for how much Tesla understood about electrical theory and how much he was ignorant of. Any second year student in electrical theory would be familiar with this material, but when Tesla wrote it up it was state of the art. We have come a long way. The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla (The Lost Science Series).

In any case, Tesla invented the three phase AC motor which made long distance (over a few miles) electrical power transmission feasible. Here are some Tesla biographies:
Nikola Tesla: A Spark of Genius (Lerner Biographies)
My Inventions - The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius
Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla
Tesla: Man Out of Time

Enough of history. How about some practical books on electric motors. Here is a good book that goes deep into the subject: Electric Motors and Control Techniques for $16.47 which is a very nice price for a deep look into the subject. A number of reviewers suggest that this is not a good book for a beginner. A better book for beginners might be Audel - Electric Motors. Audel's handbooks are oriented to practical use and installation of technology so this might be a good place to start for the technology beginner.

Here is one designed to assist in the training of electricians. It covers every thing from fundamental concepts including electrical distribution to installation and maintenance. Transformers and Motors

This is another deep book that covers stepper motors which are very easy to control with computers. Electric Motors and their Controls: An Introduction

Some more motor books for engineers.
Practical Electric Motor Handbook
Electric Motor Handbook

OK. I think that is more than enough to get your junior scientists and engineers educated. From the simplest beginning to advanced engineering. Of course it only scratches the surface. But what a scratch.

And here is a link to Science Toys -1 which covers volcanoes and geology.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:59 AM | Comments (6)

Optimistic About Obama

Palin's remarks about her optimism with respect to the incoming administration starts at about 3 minutes into the video.

I do agree with her. The Obama emphasis on lowering business taxes is a good thing. Because of Obama's immersion in Marxist philosophy as a youth I was not optimistic about his economic policies. We will see how he actually does in office, but so far I'm not displeased with his direction.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:27 PM | Comments (3)

Hamas: We Want Permanent War

Hamas says it will not accept a permanent cease fire with Israel.

According to the Deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, Moussa Abou Marzouk, the group would not talk about a permanent cease-fire so long as Israel continued its "occupation," and would instead continue the "resistance." He said that Hamas stands by its demand that Israel immediately halts its offensive, withdraws from the Gaza Strip, and opens all of the border crossings.

The borders between Israel and Gaza were closed when Hamas took control of the area in a violent coup against Palestinian Authority forces in June 2006. In July 2008, a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was signed which permitted the borders to be opened permanently so long as Palestinian rocket fire into Israeli territory ceased. As rocket fire persisted, Israel periodically closed the borders. In December 2008 Hamas declared it would not renew the ceasefire due to Israeli "violations."

So the Philistines of Gaza, who voted overwhelmingly for Hamas, are now pawns of Hamas in their permanent war with the Jews.

There are signs Hamas may be weakening.

GAZA CITY, Gaza - Israel ordered a three-hour pause in its Gaza offensive Wednesday to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, and said it welcomed a cease-fire proposal as long as Hamas halts rockets and weapons smuggling.

Hamas said any deal must include an opening of Gaza's borders. But the proposal still could mark the first sign of a possible break in 12 days of deadly fighting.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Paris that both Israel and the moderate Palestinian leadership in charge of the West Bank had accepted the truce proposal, but Israeli officials did not confirm that.

In Turkey, meanwhile, a diplomat said that country will be given the task of constructing an international force for Gaza.

Both Israel and Hamas appeared to seek guarantees about the details of a cease-fire, before agreeing to halt the fighting.

Israel said it would support the proposal only if it halts "hostile fire" from Hamas in Gaza and includes measures to prevent the militant group from rearming, said government spokesman Mark Regev.

It seems reasonable. Stop the rockets and prevent future attacks and the war is over.

Despite making war on Gaza, Israel is allowing food and water into Gaza. A very strange kind of war.

More than 500 aid trucks have been shipped into Gaza since operations began. But even when aid crosses into Gaza military operations have prevented officials from distributing it, leading to food shortages in some areas.

A World Bank statement Wednesday said there are growing signs of a severe public health crisis in Gaza because of a shortage of drinking water and an escalating failure of the sewage system.

Militants hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Wednesday with a medium-range rocket, causing no casualties. Rocket fire has fallen off somewhat as Israeli troops tighten their hold on Gaza, taking over open areas used to launch rockets, but Gaza residents say militants are still launching from heavily populated areas.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said the initiative he proposed with Sarkozy calls for an immediate cease-fire by Israel and Palestinian factions for a limited period to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and an urgent meeting of Israel and the Palestinian side on arrangements to prevent any repetition of military action and to deal with the causes.

There is one minor difficulty. Hamas will not engage in direct talks with Israel because it refuses to recognize Israel.
Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 13:58 GMT

The demand that Hamas renounce violence and recognise Israel is at the heart of a dispute with Western donors who have cut off direct aid.

Unity talks continue between Hamas and the other Palestinian faction Fatah.

On Monday, the factions appeared to make some progress with agreement on a candidate for prime minister.

A Hamas spokesman said on Tuesday that Hamas "was not favourable to the two-state solution [a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel] because that would entail recognition of Israel".

Of course Israel is within its rights to refuse to recognize Hamas. With Gaza falling apart it will be interesting to see how much longer Hamas can hold on to its crumbling position. The Philistines and their muslim enablers seem to go from one nakba (catastrophe) to another. Every war they fight leaves them worse off. Let me offer them the advice Gerd von Rundstedt once offered some German Generals who asked him what to do after the Allies had established themselves in Normandy, "Make peace you fools".

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

Where's my "pc-free vacation"?

I'm trying to do too many things at the same time, as I'm not really at home but in a place I have to completely renovate in an impossibly short period of time, following which I have to drive back to Ann Arbor. To call it aggravating is an understatement. I barely have time to check email, much less write blog posts -- especially the long essays which tend to be my style.

Here's why. I and my temporary computer setup are surrounded by people, noise, loud work sounds, and constant pressures and questions, which make even checking email very difficult. Seriously, I try answering an email and someone will say, "Hey, Eric, what about the hookup for _____?" If my style consisted of short posts with links, this might not pose a huge problem, but unfortunately, when I blog, I need to have the ability to concentrate 100%, and I am hence completely unable to blog when other people are nearby or when there are noises. (A reason why I'm no good at "live-blogging.") Under normal conditions at home, the mere ringing of the telephone has ruined many a would-be blog post, as has a knock on the door -- and current circumstances multiply such an annoyance factor by at least ten.

The bottom line is that I can only write when I am alone and uninterrupted.

I realize that sounds like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but it's the absolute truth.

Heeeere's Eric!


Fortunately, co-blogger M. Simon has been writing posts in my absence, or else this blog would be temporarily dead, and if that happened, all I could do would be to apologize.

Not everyone likes this situation. Here's anonymous commenter Jason:

Gradually returning to the internet after a lengthy pc-free vacation, I was dismayed to find that the 72 new items on my RSS feed for this blog translated to only three (light) posts from the host.
Reading that, I was jealous, as I'm not getting a pc-free vacation, but I am being prevented from blogging because of work.

Jason sees a pattern in this:

It is the pattern most of my favorite sites have undergone over the years, where 1, 2, 3 weeks of "too busy to blog" turns into 4, 5, 6, 7 weeks of "you know what, I don't actually hate having the extra time in my life that has been freed up by not blogging".
There's a big mistake in that analysis. For starters, the quotes around "too busy to blog" imply I'm lying when I say that. Actually, "too busy" is an understatement, because it's not a question of being busy (which everyone is); it's being overwhelmed.

Taking the reading into my mind a step further, an amazing conclusion is reached that "I don't actually hate having the extra time in my life that has been freed up by not blogging."

Little do you know how I so hate it. I loathe it. I wish more than anything that someone could take my place and do this for me. I'd rather be undergoing major surgery. Seriously, I am jealous of the time I was once accustomed to having each morning, and wish more than anything that I could get it back.

Whoever the mindreader is, I understand why a frustrated reader might jump to conclusions about how lazy Eric enjoying his "time off" or whatever you might think this misery is, but I wish he'd have left it at that. Instead, he lashes out at someone who has been helping me out -- M. Simon:

I sure won't blame you, Mr. Scheie, if that's that's the way you end up heading....but I will damn well miss your well-crafted prose style and (even more) your singular insights. I sincerely appreciate the amount of time you have spent working on this site, and I feel like I learned a lot about myself just from pondering the points you've raised (on sexuality, and society's treatment of such, in particular).

I must say, though, that I still wish you'd turn the "off" switch on this monotonous interloper who currently posts.

Would gladly monitor an Eric/Justin/Dennis blog, no matter how infrequent the updates.

While I suspect that he does not find the "interloper" quite as monotonous as he claims (as I think his objection is probably based more on disagreement than boredom with Simon), I'm not a mindreader. As to the characterization of Simon as an "interloper," I'm n ot sure what that means, as there are people who would call me an "anti-family interloper." Besides, he's been blogging here for years.

But no matter how infrequent the updates?

How reassuring!

Now I really want my pc-free vacation!

I'm thinking that when the work is done, maybe I ought to visit the Sea of Cortez, then maybe the French Riviera!

In any case, I've thought it over, and I think my situation is more complicated than that of Jack Nicholson in the Shining.


(Clearly, a situation like this calls for a more personal demonstration of my inner angst....)

Continue reading "Where's my "pc-free vacation"?"

posted by Eric at 12:08 PM | Comments (9)

Adolf Merckle Committed Suicide

Details of the story at The Volokh Conspiracy which has the poem Richard Cory. And of course that reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel.

posted by Simon at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

Hamas The Cause Of All Wars

The video is less than a minute and it is one of the most heartbreaking minutes I have ever watched. I just want to hug her.

This video first aired on Palestinian TV. Some of the folks at Hot Air think it is Fatah propaganda to discredit Hamas. I still want to give the girl a hug and have a good cry with her.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:08 PM | Comments (7)

The Circus Is In Town

Roland Burris, Bent Rod Blagojevich's nominee to take Barack Obama's old Senate Seat was turned away today because his papers were not in order.

Just another distraction for the Democrats to deal with. I think if they get enough practice with distractions they will get good at dealing with them. Perhaps Mr. Obama needs a Distraction, Destruction, and Corruption Events Office to keep on top of all the interesting happenings in the Democrat party.

One good thing so far is that they are turning on each other. We are in for the Years Of The Long Knives. Stock up on popcorn. This is going to be way better than Days of Our Lives. And it will be just as hard to keep score unless you watch every day.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)


Mr. President Elect Obama is having some very strange ideas about getting the economy moving again. He is proposing tax cuts on business.

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are crafting a plan to offer about $300 billion of tax cuts to individuals and businesses, a move aimed at attracting Republican support for an economic-stimulus package and prodding companies to create jobs.

The size of the proposed tax cuts -- which would account for about 40% of a stimulus package that could reach $775 billion over two years -- is greater than many on both sides of the aisle in Congress had anticipated. It may make it easier to win over Republicans who have stressed that any initiative should rely more heavily on tax cuts rather than spending.

Well that is starting to sound good - until you get to the fine print.
The largest piece of tax relief in the new plan would involve cuts for people who pay income taxes or who claim the earned-income credit, a refund designed to lessen the impact of payroll taxes on low- and moderate-income workers. This component would serve as a down payment on the "Making Work Pay" proposal Mr. Obama outlined during his election campaign, giving a credit of $500 per individual or $1,000 per family.
The trouble with that kind of tax cut is that it doesn't stimulate much.
Economists of all political stripes widely agree the checks sent out last spring were ineffective in stemming the economic slide, partly because many strapped consumers paid bills or saved the cash rather than spend it. But Obama aides wanted a provision that could get money into consumers' hands fast, and hope they will be persuaded to spend money this time if the credit is made a permanent feature of the tax code.
OK. So stimulating personal expenditures doesn't help much. In fact the DC Examiner (and some one needs to keep examining the DC folks) which has been studying the matter says that stimulating the consumer is not very effective.
One of those studies was done by Obama's new chief economic advisor, Christina Romer of UC Berkeley, who found $3 in increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for every $1 in tax cuts. Increased spending generates at best a mere 40 cents of GDP growth on the dollar. Third, that 40 cents actually goes to special interests like labor unions, politically influential contractors in favored industries and state and local political allies of the party in power.
In other words a stimulus plan based on pork spending creates corruption and shrinks the economy if the pork is paid for out of taxes or increases the debt load if it is paid for by floating T bills. Heaven knows Mr. Obama has enough trouble with corruption. But maybe he is one of those fearless guys like his former friend Blago, or Richardson his former Secretary of Commerce designate, or Hillary who may be tied up with the Norman Hsu corruption. Well there is plenty to go around. And there is also the little matter that voters hate Detroit and auto unions.

So what is the tax plan for business?

As for the business tax package, a key provision would allow companies to write off huge losses incurred last year, as well as any losses from 2009, to retroactively reduce tax bills dating back five years. Obama aides note that businesses would have been able to claim most of the tax write-offs on future tax returns, and the proposal simply accelerates those write-offs to make them available in the current tax season, when a lack of available credit is leaving many companies short of cash.

A second provision would entice firms to plow that money back into new investment. The write-offs would be retroactive to expenditures made as of Jan. 1, 2009, to ensure that companies don't sit on their money until after Congress passes the measure.

Another element would offer a one-year tax credit for companies that make new hires or forgo layoffs, which could be worth $40 billion to $50 billion. And the Obama plan also would allow small businesses to write off a broad range expenditures worth up to $250,000 in 2009 and 2010. Currently, the limit is $175,000.

William Gale, a tax-policy analyst at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, said the scale of the whole package is larger than expected. He called the business offerings a true surprise, since most attention has been focused on the spending side of the equation, especially the hundreds of billions of dollars being discussed for infrastructure and aid to state and local governments.

"On the other hand, it was hard to figure out how they were going to spend all that money in intelligent ways, so it makes sense to do more on the tax side," Mr. Gale said.

Not only does it get more money into the economy quicker, it allocates the money most efficiently - to firms that are profitable.

I'm beginning to wonder if I didn't vote for the wrong Republican. No matter. Evidently the right one won in the end. But I got to tell you - my head is spinning. What happened to all that Marxist stuff he studied as a kid? Or all the lefty rhetoric he fobbed off on his south side constituents? His latest stance is a betrayal of their hopes and their votes.

Maybe he is working on the principle of: "if the economy is going good there will be more to steal". It could be worse.

H/T Jules Crittenden via Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:09 PM | Comments (1)

Replacement Therapy

Here is an interesting story about our War On Drugs as related by Former Prosecutor Volney V. Brown Jr.

We decided to test the effectiveness of simultaneously arresting every drug seller on the streets of an isolated city, and picked Phoenix for the exercise.

Using more "buy money" than Arizona had ever seen before, we bought into each street dealer we could find, two or three times each. It turned out that Phoenix had 76 drug pushers. In the middle of a week night, with the help of state and local police, we arrested all 76 at the same time.

For a week it was impossible to buy drugs on the streets of Phoenix. The single local drug treatment program was swamped. Addicts who could not get treatment left town to score elsewhere. But on the eighth day, new street pushers began to appear in the city, and before a month had elapsed, it was business-as-usual. We had spent tens of thousands of federal tax dollars, and sent scores of pushers to prison, but there was no lasting effect on the availability or price of illicit drugs.

So, in San Diego, we tried another trick. We in ODALE learned that virtually all of the heroin there was being sold by a known gang. State and local police had been unable to bust the gang because the only really effective investigative tool - a court-ordered wire tap - was prohibited by California law.

Because our federal program was not inhibited by state law, our in-house lawyers applied for and obtained a federal wire tap order. After thousands of employee hours at a command center manned around the clock, we arrested all 39 members of the drug gang. For a week it was impossible to buy heroin on the streets of San Diego.

But on the eighth day new street pushers began to appear in the city, and before a month had elapsed it was business-as-usual. We had spent hundreds of thousands of federal tax dollars, and we sent every one of the 39 pushers to federal prison, but there was no lasting effect on the availability of heroin or its price. In one respect we were worse off for our success. Before, we knew who was selling, but afterwards we had no idea.

So after huge expense the best law enforcement could do was to stop drug sales for 8 days and reduce them for 30. And that is not all. After it was over law enforcement had no idea who was selling drugs. Meaning long investigations to start the process all over again.

So what was accomplished? The drug dealers were replaced. Because when there is a market supply will meet demand at a price.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:11 PM | Comments (6)

A Few Economic Sparks


Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

Hamas Can't Phone Home

The Israelis have gone and done it now. They have destroyed phone service in Gaza.

(IsraelNN.com) The "Cast Lead" counterterrorist campaign has spread to cyberspace and cell phones, leaving Hamas's terrorist army in confusion, unable to issue and receive orders efficiently. Almost of all of Gaza's cell phone system is out of order, television stations have been hit and the Hamas website is down.

The local phone company Paltel said that 90 percent of Gaza's cellular system is out of order. Compounding the problem are the downing of landlines and the inability of technicians to reach work sites. Switchboards and mobile communications equipment have sustained heavy damage in air raids.

Hamas's leaders, who have been forced underground, have been forced to rely on old-fashioned walkie-talkies to maintain communication with terrorists. Most of the upper echelon orders are coming from Hamas headquarters in Damascus, manned by Khaled Mashaal.

Paltel has warned subscribers that they may be completely cut off from the outside world. Electricity blackouts have made it difficult for the population to receive radio and television programs, and television stations that have not been destroyed by aerial strikes often are not able to broadcast.

It is worse than not being able to broadcast. The Israelis are broadcasting on Philistine frequencies.
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas on Saturday accused Israel of interrupting its radio and television broadcasts in Gaza as the Jewish state's deadly offensive on the Islamists entered its second week.

"The enemy is trying to break our frequencies... do not listen to this," said a broadcast on Al-Aqsa radio.

Earlier the radio's programme was interrupted with a man's voice speaking in Hebrew-accented Arabic: "Hamas leaders are hiding in the tunnels and are leaving you on the frontline of Israel's Defence Forces."

"Hamas leaders are lying to you and they are hiding in hospitals," he said. "Launching rockets puts civilians in danger."

Meanwhile a broadcast on Al-Aqsa television was interrupted with an image of a ringing phone that no one was answering.

"Hamas leaders are hiding and they are leaving you on the front line," says a voice in accented Arabic.

The Israeli army did not have immediate comment.

On Friday, Hamas's political supremo Khaled Meshaal was calling on Palestinians to rise up against Israel when his picture suddenly disappeared from the Al-Aqsa TV broadcast.

"Hamas has misled you and abandoned you," a man's voice said in Arabic. "If you call any leader of Hamas, nobody will answer."

So not only is Hamas having trouble phoning home. If they can get a line no one is answering. And what is the purpose of all this? The Israelis have said repeatedly they do not want to topple Hamas. That can leave only one thing. They want the residents of Gaza to topple Hamas.

In a bid to improve the popularity of Hamas, senior Hamas officials are exhorting the Philistines to carry on.

Senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud A-Zahar called on Hamas to continue the fight against Israel in a speech delivered to his fellow Gazans earlier in the day from the safety of his bunker.

"Israel is attacking Gaza from the air but has barely hit Hamas," he claimed. "I ask all Gazans to bear the war, because afterwards we will emerge victorious."

Well of course. Arabs are never defeated. Only the Israelis suffer defeat. We have proof of this. After every war with the Israelis the Arabs are poorer and after a time the Israelis get richer. How many more victories can the Arabs stand?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:14 AM | Comments (16)

The Exterior Of The Interior Ministry
Exterior Of The Interior Ministry

From The Jerusalem Post

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:24 PM | Comments (3)

The Ezekiel Project - Update
Ezek Top

A few days ago I was having a look at water issues in the Middle East at my post Running On Hungry. A discussion of the book When the Rivers Run Dry came up and there was a mention of the Dead Sea shrinking. That reminded me of a post I did in 2004 called The Ezekiel Project which dealt with proposed efforts to rejuvenate the Dead Sea. I think it is time to revisit that issue.

Before we do that however I think it would be good to go to the home page of The Ezekiel Project and have a look at their panoramic photo of the Dead Sea (the above photo is an excerpt), it is breathtaking.

OK. What is this all about other than refilling the Dead Sea? It is about Dead Sea Power.

The Dead Sea Power Project (DSPP) is a tunnel and hydropower project that can produce 1500 to 2500 megawatts of clean and renewable electric energy. The value of such electric energy will be maximized by power generation during peak demand times. Planned operation of the project can fill the Dead Sea to the desired level within seven years of operation; after that, the continued operation of the hydropower plant will be enabled by the development of additional desalination capacity to supply the water needs of the region.

Over a period of seven years of planned operation, the DSPP will restore the Dead Sea to the desired level, and thereby reverse the erosion and subsistence that is presently destroying the area. In addition, the placement of a deep layer of Med Sea water on top of the Dead Sea will stop the overturn of water in the Dead Sea that brings noxious gases to the surface.

The planned annual supply of Med Sea water through the DSPP will be five billion cubic meters, which, after desalination (using distillation to remove ninety percent as potable water) can provide five hundred cubic meters per person per annum for eight million people. Maximum capacity of the project is for twelve billion cubic meters annual flow, which would provide enough water for twenty million people if suitable desalination capacity should be developed. Desalination plants can be placed on the Jordanian and Israeli sides of the Dead Sea and can be powered by electricity from (i) DSPP, (ii) gas fired co-generation units and (iii) wind turbines on top of the mountains in Jordan. Such sources of electricity can also be used to pump seawater into reservoirs on top of the mountains, which in turn can be utilized, on demand, for desalination and electric power generation as needed.

That should be enough water to supply all of Israel and a lot of Jordan. Or some other mix for the two. Note that with a large drop available and a good supply of wind the problems of intermittent wind can be solved for this locality.

So what will the project cost?

The Dead Sea Power Project (DSPP, www.deadseapower.com) proposes a $3.5 billion hydroelectric project to transport water from the Med Sea to the Dead Sea via a ten meter diameter tunnel by gravity flow, pictured in Ezekiel's vision by the one in one thousand factor for the depth of the river flow going down from Jerusalem into the Dead Sea.
Ezek 47:3-5-- When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.
And what is the current status of the project?
Presently I am exploring the requirements for license of this project as an Independent Power Producer project with the government of Israel. Anyone interested in helping with this process should contact me.

Randolph Gonce


Randolph gives more complete details at the Ezekiel Project site linked above including a proposed route. If it could be done it would be quite beneficial to the region and would be one of the engineering wonders of the world. And at $3.5 billion the project costs seem rather modest given the projected outcome of replenishing the Dead Sea, generating electricity, and providing desalinated water. Not to mention realizing a Biblical vision, which though having no monetary value does have an aesthetic value for quite a few people.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:41 AM | Comments (2)

Colonels Look At The Mexican Collapse

General Barry McCaffrey has called for an evaluation of his failed policies from a couple of Colonels who have visited Mexico. Michael Yon runs down the details in this [pdf]. Let me excerpt a few highlights:

Thousands are being murdered each year. Drug production, addiction, and smuggling are rampant. The struggle for power among drug cartels has resulted in chaos in the Mexican states and cities along the US-Mexico border. Drug-related assassinations and kidnappings are now common-place occurrences throughout the country.

Squad-sized units of the police and Army have been tortured, murdered, and their decapitated bodies publicly left on display. The malignancy of drug criminality now contaminates not only the 2000 miles of cross-border US communities but stretches throughout the United States in more than 295 US cities.

I really like the part about the drug criminality contaminating more that 295 US cities. However, I'd say they Colonels need to improve their observation and estimation techniques. It is every city, town, and hamlet in the US of A.

Well let us look at some more of the report and see if the Army geniuses in charge can figure out what is causing the problem.

Senior government officials are taking enormous personal risk; the drug cartels have demonstrated their willingness to murder political leaders and law enforcement officers who threaten their well being. The commitment of these senior Mexican Government officials to reestablish the rule of law will become a matter of historical pride to their nation if they succeed.
Well yes. The report fails to mention that if they fail they can get rich. Which seems to be sufficient inducement for quite a lot of them. However, success not only brings pride, it also brings death. Not an inconsiderable incentive on its own.
A failure by the Mexican political system to curtail lawlessness and violence could result of a surge of millions of refugees crossing the US border to escape the domestic misery of violence, failed economic policy, poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the mindless cruelty and injustice of a criminal state.
As opposed to the millions crossing the border now to escape violence, poverty, hunger, joblessness, cruelty and injustice.

And you know it is even worse than people think. Mexico is not faced with ordinary corrupt corruption. No siree. They are faced with something more evil than that. Narco corruption and terrorism.

Mexico is not confronting dangerous criminality--- it is fighting for survival against narco-terrorism.
Which is way different than religious terrorism and narco corruption like we see in Afghanistan.

What can we do General? What can we do to prevent this horrible narco tragedy from befalling us? Please. Please I beg you. Tell me before it is too late. What should I do?

A terrible tragedy is going to take place in the coming decade if we don't closely ally ourselves with the courageous Mexican leadership of the Calderon Administration---- and develop a resourced strategy appropriate for the dangers we face.
Ah. A resourced strategy. That means money. Why didn't you just say so? How much? Where do you want it delivered? Unmarked small denomination bills? Yeah. That is doable.

Then the Colonels go on for a few more bullet points about the wonderful goodness of Mexico concluding with:

In sum, Mexico and its people are a joy to visit--- and a trusted partner in business cooperation. Mexican and Central American labor is a central pillar of US economic strength. However, Mexico is fundamentally at risk from drug-fueled crime which is so powerful that it could threaten the viability of the state.
Well yeah, provided you don't get killed or kidnapped by the various gangs or extorted by the police who are just attempting to make their positions pay. So how much should you pay? Well that depends on how much you have got and what you or your relatives can raise up.

Well enough of local color. What is the problem? The real problem? (watch for the magic trick - here comes the slight of hand, the palming of the card).


Why sure it is. It couldn't possibly be the laws making drugs illegal transmuting a pile of vegetables into a pile of gold. Oh. No. Don't think of laws and government and supply and demand and smuggling and black markets. That would be wrong and complicated. Can't have that. Just think of DRUGS. And remember the most important thing of all. DRUGS ARE VERY BAD. So if you see any DRUGS it would be wise to beat them about the head and shoulders with a stick. BAD DRUGS. BAD.

Mexico is on the edge of the abyss---it could become a narco-state in the coming decade. Chronic drug consumption has doubled since 2002 to 500,000 addicts. Possibly 5% or 3.5 million people consume illegal drugs. (the US figure is 8.3% or 20.4 million). Since 2002--- past month Mexican national drug consumption has increased by 30% and cocaine use has doubled. The fastest growing addiction rates are among the 12 to 17 year old population -- and the consumption rates among women have doubled.
My god. America has a 14 trillion dollar economy and about 8 1/2% take drugs. While the Mexican economy is at $1 trillion and only 5 % take illegal drugs. How do they expect to catch up with us economically when there is a severe shortage of drug takers in their society. We must help them to catch up Barry. We must.
Drug criminal behavior is the central threat to the state. Mexico probably produces 8 metric tons of heroin a year and 10,000 metric tons of marijuana. 90% of all US cocaine transits Mexico. Mexico is also the dominant source of methamphetamine production for the US market. The drug cartels have criminal earnings in excess of $25 billion per year ---and physically repatriate more than $10 billion a year in bulk cash back into Mexico from the US.
Central threat to the state? It looks more like it is central to Mexican prosperity.
The crime rate is staggering. The US State Department notes that crime in Mexico continues at high levels particularly in Mexico City. Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico. Armed street crime is a serious problem in all the major cities. Robbery and assault on passengers in taxis are frequent and violent. Mexican authorities have failed to prosecute numerous crimes committed against US citizens, including murder and kidnapping. 44% of all murders through November of this year were of unidentified victims--- primarily because of fear of becoming involved by family and acquaintances of the deceased.
But you know other than that it is a really lovely place to visit. If none of those heads without bodies or bodies without heads shows up on the plaza while you are taking a stroll.
Corruption is pervasive and ruins the trust among Mexican law enforcement institutions at local, state, and Federal level. Corruption reaches into the US Embassy with a DEA Mexican national employee recently arrested for being an agent of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was corrupted by a $450,000.00 bribe. Six high-ranking law enforcement officials have recently been arrested and the current and former Director of the Interpol Office in Mexico indicted. (This is a painful personal reminder of the 1997 arrest of the Mexican Drug Czar, General Gutierrez Rebollo, discovered to be working as an agent of the Juarez cartel.)
Say wasn't General McCaffrey an American Drug Czar? Yes he was. I wonder which cartel he is working for? The pay is good and you can legally put on holier than thou airs and the visage of a scold. What is not to like?
The Mexican people believe the justice system is corrupt and ineffective. Mexican police regularly obtain information through torture and prosecutors use this evidence in courts. The suspect is deemed guilty until proven innocent. Most ominously--- the Mexican people are losing faith in the system. At the start of the Calderon Campaign more than 87% supported the President. Now only 67% are in favor. There is increasing discussion of legalization of drugs--or acquiescence in the drug trade, which used to be presumed to be a US not Mexican problem.
Ah yes. The bane of the cartels - legalization. It would put them out of business. Can't have that. The big bribes will stop before my mortgage is paid off. A disaster. So down with legalization. Death to legalizers. We must never give up. We can win this fight. I see great progress being made. Why just yesterday after a twenty year long investigation my forces found and destroyed two kilos of the most potent pot known to man. Billions of times more powerful than anything your parents smoked. Pot like that is worth thousands of trillions of dollars. And we destroyed it all saving our kids from death, destruction, perdition, and the munchies. Can I have my money now?
The bottom line--- the drug cartels cannot defeat the government through direct violent confrontation. The Armed Forces in particular can at any point on the ground or at sea confront and dismantle a direct threat to the security forces. The most effective tool of the criminal cartels is narco-terrorism -- and corruption and intimidation of the populace to convince the political authorities to remain passive in the face of criminal behavior.
Whew it is cheaper to buy than to fight. How much are you costing them General? What is the Colonel's cut? If you don't mind my asking. Well since you put it that way I withdraw my question. Just forget I ever asked it. I want to live long and prosper. How much is in it for me?
President Calderon has charted a bold and heroic path for the state. His senior law enforcement officer - Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna - has placed his life on the line. The Federal police motto is "Ni un paso atras" (not one step back). Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been murdered. They have seized massive quantities of contraband from these criminal threat forces. (70,000 kilograms of cocaine, 3,700 tons of marijuana, $304 million dollars, 28,000 weapons, 2000 hand grenades, 3 million rounds of ammo.) President Calderon has for the first time in Mexican history boldly used the tool of extradition to the US. (83 major drug criminals sent north.)
Yep. 500,000 drug criminals in Mexico and they sent north a whole 83 of them. Not to worry. They were from a rival gang and we got their business. Profits all around. Except for the evil drug runners from that other gang who deserved it for muscling in on our territory. That'll teach them to mess with us. We bought the government first and an honest government it is. They stay bought. Or else.
The strategy articulated by Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora is to break up the four major drug cartels into 50 smaller entities and take away their firepower and huge financial resources. The senior Mexican leadership have tried to organize the ten US and Mexican Border States to form active cross-border partnerships for law enforcement and drug prevention cooperation. The Mexicans know a central piece of their strategy has to be the modernization of the Mexican justice system and the modernization of the economy.
Ah yes. Drug prevention. If we prevent drugs the drugs will no longer be a menace. And besides even (especially) if we are only partially effective prices will go up. And you know the competition is killing us. We must put a stop to it. For the children. And our profits. My wife (the bitch) wants a new car and a diamond bracelet. So it is critical to destroy those other gangs or my wife will be bitching for months. I hate that. And she knows it.
Now is the time during the opening months of a new US Administration to jointly commit to a fully resourced major partnership as political equals of the Mexican government. We must jointly and respectfully cooperate to address the broad challenges our two nations face. Specifically, we must support the Government of Mexico's efforts to confront the ultra violent drug cartels. We must do so in ways that are acceptable to the Mexican polity and that take into account Mexican sensitivities to sovereignty. The United States Government cannot impose a solution. The political will is present in Mexico to make the tough decisions that are required to confront a severe menace to the rule of law and the authority of the Mexican state. Where our assistance can be helpful, we must provide it. The challenge is so complex that it will require sustained commitment and attention at the highest levels of our two governments. We cannot afford to fail.
We will decimate the rival gangs and bring profits back in line with my wife's demands. Peace at home requires it.

Or we could just legalize and put an end to this whole sordid farce.

BTW Barry McCaffrey is no fool. He has to know that drug prohibition is supporting these gangs and yet his prescription is to fight the drug war harder. Do you suppose he is on the take?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:04 AM | Comments (6)

The American Peole Must Make a Wise Choice

Particularly interesting in the video was a point from about 3 minutes 20 seconds on in the video where the sheriff was saying that the decision on legalization can not be left up to the lawmakers implying that they had been corrupted. Watch how he twists when he makes his statement.

Which brings up something I have been repeating for a while:

"The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government." - William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

And this is rather close. Mexican gangs are extorting money from Americans by kidnapping their relatives in Mexico.

FELIPE ANGELES, Mexico -- Four hooded men smashed in the door to the adobe home of an 80-year-old farmer here in November, handcuffing his frail wrists and driving him to a makeshift jail. They released him after relatives and friends paid a $9,000 ransom, which included his life savings.

The kidnapping was a dismal story of cruelty and heartbreak, familiar all across Mexico, but with a new twist: the daughter of this victim lived in the United States and was able to wire money to help assemble his ransom, the farmer, who insisted that he not be identified by name, said in an interview.

A string of similar kidnappings, singling out people with children or spouses in the United States, so panicked this village in the state of Zacatecas that many people boarded up their homes and headed north, some legally and some not, seeking havens with relatives in California and other American states.

You know. We are going to have to do two things to fix this problem. Legalize drugs and conquer Mexico. In my opinion all this could have been avoided by legalizing drugs a decade or three ago. It has now metastasized. The measures required to fix it will be heroic. Oh well.

If you are interested in what a confirmed drug warrior (who in my opinion is in the pay of the drug cartels) has to say about the trouble in Mexico read Colonels Look At Mexican Collapse.

Or you might like this book: Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America

Here is a link from the video you might like to visit endprohibition.org

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:00 AM | Comments (1)

A Lack Of Solidarity

The most amazing thing about the current war against Hamas is the silence of Hizballah. They aren't firing rockets this time. As they did in support of Gaza (or vice versa) in 2006.

Leading Lebanese political commentators believe Hezbollah will not open a military front with Israel on its shared border, even with a Gaza ground invasion. The commentators say that Hezbollah is not interested in a destructive round of violence months before the Lebanese elections.

Hezbollah expert Amal Saad-Ghorayeb told AFP over the weekend that she believes Hezbollah is trying not to upset the opposition in Lebanon. "On the domestic level, Hezbollah does not want to antagonize its domestic foes. They don't want to ruin the dialogue that allows them to keep the issue of their weapons indefinitely unsolved; it is a way of postponing the issue," she said.

"Hezbollah is not in a position that allows it to carry the burden of a second war," Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center told the agency.

They certainly have rockets and they would certainly be a help to their brothers in Hamas by dividing Israel's efforts. And most importantly they are both backed by Iran. What is different?

It is not just the political situation in Lebanon. While Israel has recovered from the 2006 war Hizballah has not. Which kind of gives you a very good indication of who won that war. A total defeat for Hizballah? Of course not. But enough of a defeat so that they have no interest in fighting.

So you have to ask - what is Iran's purpose in starting a proxy war with Israel now? My guess is that it is two fold. With oil prices in the tank it may be their last chance for a while and it may help prop up oil prices - for a while. The difficulty is that after shooting their wad they will not have the resources to rebuild Gaza. So in essence the current dust up is an admission of defeat by Iran.

The object of all warfare is to put your enemy in a position where there are no good choices. Israel seems to have done a good job in that respect. Perhaps the Arabs are starting to wise up. They could have a really good life if they worked with Israel instead of against it. Something that was well known among the Philistine leadership before the start of the Stupidfada in 2000/2001. So why did they choose war then? Political power pure and simple. War gives a government or a gang more political power than peace. However, you have to win the war to maintain that power. A draw or a loss will not maintain population cohesion or popular support.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:10 PM | Comments (2)

Now We Know Who To Blame

Bill Clinton was reported to have said in the beginning of 2008 that the economy was growing too much.

It's the economy, stupid! Former President Bill Clinton stunned Fox News commentators January 30 when he said, "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

This is remarkable, unprecedented candor from a politician, especially today in the U.S. where politicians race to promote a stimulus package to jump-start our lagging economy. Before you break into applause, however, I must sadly report that Clinton went on to say, ""But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work."

Our current economic retraction is actually a perfect opportunity to ratchet down our carbon emissions and ecological footprint. Any stimulus should go exclusively toward replacing lost carbon-intensive jobs with clean energy jobs. And we should be applauding (and adjusting to) lower rates of consumption. So Clinton wasn't too far off, other than leaving us with the impression we can GROW our way out of a climate crisis.

Well those folks our absolutely brilliant. We can't GROW our way out of the current economic crisis. What they claim will work is shrinking our way out of it. With the new administration coming in I believe we are about to give that idea a fair test. So what do you get from a smaller economy and a bigger money supply? Inflation.

My prediction? It will not be pretty. Stagflation and WIN buttons are going to make a comeback. We are already at about 6% inflation. Can 12% be far away? We shall see.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:30 PM | Comments (3)

The First Crook Resigns

The Obama administration has received the resignation of Bill Richardson even before he has had a chance to be sworn in.

(CNN) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is withdrawing his nomination to be commerce secretary, citing the distraction of a federal investigation into ties to a company that has done business with his state.

Two Democratic officials told CNN the investigation involves a California company that won municipal bond business in New Mexico after contributing money to various Richardson causes.

In a statement Sunday, Richardson said he asked Obama "not to move forward" with his nomination now.

One crook down. How many more "distractions" to go?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:27 PM | Comments (6)

Operation Cast Lead

I have been wondering for a while what the meaning of the Israeli's Operation Cast Lead was. I think I have an answer.

Head of IDF Military Intelligence General Amos Yadlin also addressed the meeting and gave an assessment of the Gaza operation's progress.

"The organization [Hamas] took a serious blow, we killed hundreds of terrorists and damaged their ability to build weaponry," Yadlin said.

Casting lead is an old term for making bullets. In other words weapons. So Operation Cast Lead means that the central focus is the destruction of the Philistine's weapon's factories and stockpiles. And there is further confirmation of that in the linked article.
Diskin also said the weapons factories used by Hamas have been wiped out in the offensive and dozens of tunnels used to smuggle arms into the coastal territory have been destroyed.

According to a Military Intelligence assessment released Tuesday, Israel's air offensive on Gaza has thus far destroyed one-third of the Hamas' rocket arsenal.

And what of the brave Hamas leaders? Evidently their love of death is not near so great as they might have us believe.
Hamas "has been hit like it has never been hit before," Diskin said.
Diskin said the Islamic group's ability to govern the Strip has been seriously damaged, and that senior Hamas officials are hiding out in Gaza's hospitals, where they have "disguised themselves as doctors and nurses."

"Many Hamas officials are hiding in mosques throughout Gaza, out of the assumption that Israel will avoid attacking Muslim houses of worship," Diskin said. Dozens of the mosques have been turned into weapons stockpiles and command centers, he added.

Dressing as women? What are they? A bunch of girly men? Evidently.

And mosques off limits? I don't think so. Especially if they are full of weapons.

You can see more IDF videos at IDFNA Desk.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:36 AM | Comments (3)

A Broken Hands Policy

Hamas is breaking hands and shooting feet of Fatah supporters in Gaza.

The Hamas government has placed dozens of Fatah members under house arrest out of fear that they might exploit the current IDF operation to regain control of the Gaza Strip.

Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken.

Wisam Abu Jalhoum, a Fatah activist from the Jabalya refugee camp, was shot in the legs by Hamas militiamen for allegedly expressing joy over the IDF air strikes on Hamas targets.

It looks like Hamas has a two front war on its hands. Or maybe three or four. And what ever happened to that national unity government between Fatah and Hamas we used to hear so much about? Haven't they heard that a house divided will not stand? In addition having to guard their own people reduces their fighting strength.
Meanwhile, sources close to Hamas revealed over the weekend that the movement had "executed" more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and were being held in various Hamas security installations.

The sources quoted Hamas officials as saying that the decision to kill the suspected collaborators was taken out of fear that Israel might try to rescue them during a ground offensive. The officials claimed that at least half of the victims were killed by relatives of Palestinian militiamen who were killed as a result of information passed on to Israel by the "collaborators."

Civilization has at last come to Gaza in the form of more blood feuds. This has got to end badly. For all concerned.

It appears to me that the real dynamic is "last man left standing". If Fatah stays out of the fight it will gain strength. If Hamas does not fight they will lose face. If they do fight they will lose fighters. A win-win for Fatah.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:03 AM | Comments (3)

A Geometry Problem

Interesting developments in Gaza today.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive after a week of intense aerial bombardment. Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light and bursts of machine gun fire rang out.

TV footage showed Israeli troops with night-vision goggles and camouflage face paint marching in single file. Artillery barrages preceded their advance, and they moved through fields and orchards following bomb-sniffing dogs ensuring their routes had not been booby-trapped.

The military said troops killed or wounded dozens of militant fighters, but Palestinian medical teams in Gaza, unable to move because of the fighting, could not provide accurate casualty figures.

I wonder what the Israelis are up to? The first attacks in Northern Gaza may have been a feint to attract Hamas fighters. Now the Israelis have disrupted communications between the two halves of Gaza. The question then is: will they push north to squeeze the Hamas fighters or will they head south to disrupt the smuggling tunnels? Hamas is definitely on the horns of a dilemma. Which is just where B. H. L. Hart says they should be.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)


The AMA 2008 Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates has proposed research on the reclassification of marijuana [pdf] to get it out of the "no medical use" category and into a less restrictive category.

After hearing mixed testimony on a pair of resolutions concerning marijuana medical use and research and marijuana reclassification, the AMA voted to refer both for further study. One resolution asked that the AMA support reclassification of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance into a more appropriate schedule. Another asked the AMA to support the reclassification of marijuana's status from a Schedule I controlled substance to a more appropriate schedule and to cease criminal prosecution and other enforcement actions against physicians and patients acting in accordance with states' medical marijuana laws.
And not only the AMA. The American College of Physicians [pdf] also supports research into the therapeutic effects of marijuana.

This is definitely a promising development. And only 12 years after the passage of Proposition_215 in California. When doctors start coming around on a contentious issue like this it is a very good sign that our drug war may be in its terminal phase. Hopefully in another ten or twenty years we can put it behind us.

Maybe White House drug czar Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey was wrong when he called marijuana "Cheech & Chong" medicine. It may one day be AMA medicine. Wouldn't that be a rebuke to ignorant Generals and czars everywhere?

H/T Jerry Epstein of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:34 AM | Comments (0)

Not Waiting For The Ambulances

It seems the Philistines of Gaza are not waiting for Egyptian ambulances to evacuate their wounded from Gaza.

At about 1:10 on Sunday, December 28, 2008, the BBC anchor Peter Dobbie found out, along with his audience, that there were 40 Egyptian ambulances ready to evacuate wounded, and lorries full of medical goods sent by Qatar to restock Gazan hospitals, waiting at the border crossing in Egypt. (According to another source there were also 50 Egyptian doctors ready to go into the Strip to help.) Since Dobbie and his audience had heard the repeated complaint from the people in Gaza that the hospitals were overwhelmed by the injured and desperately lacking in supplies, one would have expected the border to be full of purposeful activity. Instead, nothing was happening. The Gazan side lay silent.

A real journalist, someone with a smell for revealing anomalies, would have immediately recognized this as an important story to follow up on. After all, Dobbie had not hesitated to interrupt and challenge Israeli spokesmen on precisely the issues at stake: the disproportion between Israeli-caused fatalities and Israeli-suffered fatalities, the inevitable suffering of innocent civilians when such a bombing campaign takes place in so densely populated an area. "The math doesn't work," said Dobbie, implying what commentators emphasized elsewhere -- the "disproportionate use of force" the Israelis were employing.

So here was a perfect issue with which to challenge Hamas spokesmen: If they were so distraught at the loss of life of their own people, why didn't they take care of them? What on earth would possess Hamas not to avail themselves of what they pleadingly told the world they so desperately needed? As the honest and courageous Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey put it, "My head hurts."

Lets have a look at what else Sandmonkey has to say.
First Hamas refuses to let Egypt receive the wounded through the Rafah crossing, saying that Egypt has to open the entire crossing for the million and a half Ghazan, or else they won't get to treat their wounded.. Think about this one for a minute. Let it simmer. When it makes sense to you, let me know.

Then Israeli pundits say that while the air strike is successful, they might need to do a ground incursion, thus proving that Israel is a nation suffering from an Alzheimer epidemic and doesn't remember anything about the last war with Lebanon.

And then the Palestinians in Ghaza break through the Rafah crossing, and kill an egyptian officer in the process, and nobody minds, of course..

The Sandmonkey has more including a link to this interesting tidbit.
BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up Sunday amid a crowd of demonstrators in northern Iraq who were protesting Israel's airstrikes on Gaza, killing one demonstrator and wounding 16 others, Iraqi police said.

The bomber rode his bicycle into the demonstration of about 1,300 people in the center of the northern city of Mosul, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with news media.

The demonstration was organized by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party. The party's Mosul spokesman, Yahiya Abid Mahjoub, complained that police and the Iraqi army had not taken security precautions for the demonstration.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, the officer said.

"The ones who targeted our brothers in Gaza are the same who targeted us in Mosul today. They are agents of Israel," Mahjoub said.

Israel induced an Arab to become a suicide bomber against other Arabs? Those Israelis are either controlling more of the world than anyone could possibly imagine or there is some very powerful crazy going on in the Arab mind.

Getting back to the story at hand re: the ambulances. Dead Philistines are not a tragedy for Hamas. They are a weapon of war. Which is why the help offered has been refused. Saving Philistine lives serves no useful purpose for Hamas.

And Hamas is definitely a purpose driven organization. Well, what is their purpose?

Hamas Parliament Member Fathi Hammad tells Al-Aqsa TV, the television station of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, that Allah hates the Jews more than anyone and that the 15 million Jews in the world are worse than the 4.5 billion infidels in the world. Hammad adds that killing one Jew is like killing 30 million Jews in the eyes of Allah.
That would mean that if they killed 30 million Jews it would be like killing 900,000,000,000,000 which is 900 trillion Jews. Except there are only about 15 million Jews in the world.

You know, the last time there was this much Jew hatred in the world some very ugly things happened. The Muslim fanatics explain their position with the words "We love death." It is unfortunate that the fanatics can't all be rounded up and accommodated in short order. I guess we will just have to deal with them in penny packets.

I think this all can be encapsulated in a very short phrase.

Death to Hamas

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)

Harry Reid Puts In A Bid

If Harry Reid had a voice in picking Illinois' next junior Senator it would not have been Roland Burris.

Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid made it clear who he didn't want in the post: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis or Emil Jones.

Rather, Reid called Blagojevich to argue he appoint either state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis -- both Democratic congressmen from Illinois -- and against Jones -- the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama -- because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.

Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero confirmed that Reid (D-Nev.) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) -- the new chief of the Senate Democratic political operation -- each called Blagojevich's campaign office separately Dec. 3. Sources believe that at least portions of the phone conversations are on tape.

Ah. The tale of the tape. We will have so much to look forward to in the coming year. It should keep Obama and the Democrats busy with distractions for quite a while.

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune has a really funny column up. He starts a little slow with this opening but it gets much better as it goes on.

Roland "Tombstone" Burris goes to Washington this week as part of the Illinois political freak show, and many of us back home will watch it and feel like cringing, at least at the beginning.

Who among us could not wince at the prospect of Tombstone standing before news cameras, his head bobbing, smiling amiably, chattering nonsensically as is his way, insisting he feels no shame. All he wants is to become a United States senator, and he kissed a tainted hand to get there.

His fellow Democrats may be ready to bar his entrance to the Senate chambers, and politicians will be ready, even eager, to play the race card again. If this happens, the man who sent Tombstone to Washington, Gov. Rod Blagojevich will glory in his opportunity to speak directly to his future jury pool.

So why is Kass calling Burris "Tombstone"? Glad you asked.
Tombstone wants to carve "U.S. Senator" into the side of his granite mausoleum, where he's carved his other accomplishments and minor offices so that his fame will endure forever and ever, the decorated crypt providing a worrisome glimpse into the man who would make federal law.
Well there is way more and the comments are most excellent. Especially from the ones who believe that the Smartest President Elect Ever™ never was involved in any of the shady dealings in Chicago.

Let me say that there only three kinds of politicians in Chicago:

1. Those who have not been caught
2. Those doing time
3. Ex-cons

So far the Smartest President Elect Ever™ falls in the first category. For how long no one knows.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:16 AM | Comments (1)

On The Defensive

Israeli ground troops have entered Gaza in an attempt to put an end to the Philistine's shelling of Israel.

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza on Saturday night as the military launched the second phase of its assault on the Hamas-ruled territory after a week of airstrikes.

"Obviously, ground forces have capability that air forces don't have," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN.

"We want to create a situation where the civilian population in southern Israel is no longer on the receiving end of those deadly Hamas rockets. When quiet can be achieved, this operation can be finished."

And here is a big surprise. The EU says the Israeli response is defensive.
PRAGUE, Jan 3 (Reuters) - European Union president, the Czech Republic, said on Saturday an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action.

"At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said.

The Associated Press has more news.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli tanks and troops launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip Saturday night with officials saying they expected a lengthy fight with Hamas militants in the densely populated territory after eight days of punishing airstrikes failed to halt rocket attacks on Israel.

Hamas vowed that Gaza would be a "graveyard" for Israelis forces.

"This will not be easy and it will not be short," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said soon after the ground invasion began.

The incursion was preceded by several hours of heavy artillery fire after dark, igniting flames in the night sky. Machine gun fire rattled as bright tracer rounds flashed through the darkness and the crash of hundreds of shells sent up streaks of fire.

Artillery fired illuminating rounds, sending streaks of bright light drifting down over Gaza's densely packed neighborhoods. Gunbattles could be heard, as troops crossed the border into Gaza, marching single file. They were backed by helicopter gunships and tanks.

Israeli security officials said the objective is not to reoccupy Gaza. The depth and intensity of the ground operation will depend on parallel diplomatic efforts, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

So far the military objectives are not clear to me. Perhaps they will become clearer as the offensive proceeds.

Israel National News gives more details on where the advances are taking place.

(IsraelNN.com) Ground troops moved into Gaza Saturday night for the first time since last February and returned to the sites of former Jewish homes in northern Gaza for the first time since the government abandoned the area with the promise that the western Negev would be freed of rocket and morat attacks.

Artillery fire from the ground and from Naval boats rained on terrorist targets before tanks roared in, and at least 30 terrorists were killed. Soldiers did not meet any massive resistance. Hamas claimed that it killed several Israeli soldiers, but there has been no other report of IDF casualties.

The soldiers, from Givati, tank, Golani and engineer units, are back by intelligence, Air Force, artillery and Naval forces. The Navy has enforced a blockade of 20 nautical miles from the Gaza Coast because of the presence of terrorists in the area.

So Northern Gaza is the focus of at least one segment of the operation. Will they flatten the area making it easier to target the rocket shooters? Time will tell.
Israeli Air Force planes dropped thousands of leaflets warning Gaza residents not to cooperate with terrorists by using phones to report on IDF operations.
I don't expect the Philistines to pay any attention to the warnings. Of course that will make Gaza communications infrastructure a target. Cell phone towers and central offices.

You can watch the Israeli Defense Forces YouTube Channel for video updates on the fighting. Here is one I particularly liked about the Philistines using mosques as weapons depots. The text that goes with it says:

Major Avital Leibovich, the head of the International Press Branch in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, explains how Hamas uses Mosques in the Gaza Strip for the storage of weapons. This is yet another example of how Hamas uses the civilian population as a human shield, risking innocent lives in order to carry out acts of terrorism.
Haaretz reports a call up of tens of thousands of Israeli troops.
Israel's government has approved the call-up of tens of thousands of reservist soldiers, it was annnounced Saturday, almost simultaneously with the launch of a Gaza ground incursion aimed at halting rocket fire on Israel's southern communities.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said in a statement that, in accordance with a secret cabinet discussion Friday, the government ordered the armed forces "to draft the necessary reservists, on a scale of tens of thousands of troops."

Since it takes about three days to bring Israeli reservists into action this move says that the war on the ground is likely to last ten days or more. Which would make it a very significant punitive raid.

Amos Harel gives his analysis of what is going on.

The killing of senior Hamas official Nizar Ghayan Thursday in an Israel Air Force strike in Jabalya is a significant development at this stage of the war in the Gaza Strip, due not only to his high position in the Gaza leadership but also because of the message his assassination sends to the Palestinians.

Gazans have been asking Haaretz why Israel is hitting Hamas foot soldiers, empty buildings and innocent civilians rather than the leadership. They see this as proof of Israel's inability to really deal with Hamas. Ghayan's killing shows that Israel is no longer hesitating. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Sheikh Ismail Haniyeh, his government and certainly Hamas military leaders such as Ahmed Jabri know they have good reason to stay in hiding.

The assassination in the spring of 2004 of Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Ahmed Yassin was the main factor behind the Hamas decision to suspend suicide bombings and limit friction with Israel.

But these killings also increased sympathy for Hamas in Gaza and led to its electoral win two years later. In the same way, Hamas television quickly made use of Thursday's incident, repeatedly showing footage of Ghayan's headless body.

The message I got was that mindless violence leads to headless leaders. Pity the Philistines can't see the obvious.
Unlike the Second Lebanon War, the ground war in the Gaza Strip will be waged in densely populated urban areas. The civilian population in Lebanon fled during the fighting. In the Gaza Strip, however, there is nowhere to run but the beach and the Egyptian border, and many civilian casualties can be expected.
So what is the Egyptian attitude? Well, it is very interesting to say the least given this report fron the 29th of December.
An Egyptian border guard and a Palestinian youth were killed during border clashes between Hamas and Egyptian security forces.

An Egyptian security source said Hamas forces had also shot an Egyptian policeman in the leg.

The incidents took place near the main border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, where Egyptian riot police fired in the air to try to drive back Palestinians who had managed to penetrate the border wall.

The Palestinians were trying to flee Gaza in the midst of Israeli air strikes which have killed nearly 300 people so far.

The events are likely to aggravate tense relations between Hamas and the Egyptian Government, which says that Hamas is largely to blame for the Israeli onslaught.

An Iranian news agency says the Egyptian border guards are authorized to shoot at Philistines trying to flee Gaza.
Cairo orders a security cordon at the Rafah border crossing to open fire at the Palestinians fleeing to Egypt from Israeli raids on Gaza.

The task force has been deployed to take a stance against the Gazans seeking refuge in Sinai amid continues Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, Debka reported on Friday.

This is while an increased number of Palestinians are on their way to the border crossing following reports that Tel Aviv is scheduling artillery bombardment.

Jeeze the Iranians are quoting the Debka rumor mill. Is that the best they can do? Still it is likely to be true. After Palestinians attacked Egypt in February of 2008 I wouldn't imagine the Egyptians would be welcoming the Philistines with open arms any time soon.
One Palestinian was killed and 24 Egyptians were injured in clashes between Palestinian stone throwers and Egyptian border police Monday.

In a statement published Tuesday, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza demanded an investigation into the death and said the incident proved an arrangement must be found 'quickly' for the formal reopening of the border.

But al-Hayat quoted Egyptian officials as saying Egypt would not accept an arrangement whereby Hamas security forces would guard the Rafah border passage, as Cairo recognizes the Ramallah-based 'caretaker' government of President Mahmoud Abbas as the only legitimate Palestinian regime.

Hamas demands a role in running the passage, bypassing an international agreement from November 2005, which stipulated Abbas' Presidential Guard, Egyptian authorities and European observers would man the border passage, while Israel would observe security procedures at Rafah via video monitoring.

Hamas militants blew holes in the border on January 23, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to circumvent a tight Israeli blockade and stock up on supplies in Egypt.

And speaking of supplies, as you would expect in a war zone prices are rising for basic commodities.
According to reports from the Strip, ever since the start of Operation Cast Lead there has been a shortage in basic commodities, and those who manage to get their hands on them discover that their prices have been doubled.

The supply of basic commodities has dropped significantly since Sunday, when the Israel Defense Forces bombed dozens of smuggling tunnels at the Philadelphi Route.

Residents in the Strip reported that a sack of flour was sold on Tuesday for more than NIS 200 (about $53), compared to less than NIS 100 ($26.5) before the IDF operation which began Saturday. Many Gazans say they have been left without flour, as the vast majority of sales points have not been opened.

Sources in the Strip claim that the big merchants have basic commodities in stock, but some are afraid to bring out the goods and market them these days, while others are taking advantage of the distress in order to increase their profits.

The prices of fuel, which had been smuggled from Egypt until Sunday, have seen a significant rise since the military operation began. On Tuesday 1 liter of petrol was sold in Gaza for more than NIS 10 ($2.65), compared to only NIS 2.8 (74 cents) last week. This price rise is the reason why many private cars and public transportation vehicles are paralyzed.

Meanwhile, merchants and industrialists from the West Bank are attempting to maximize their profits by taking advantage of the waves of hostility against Israel in light of the events in Gaza.

"The Popular Campaign for Palestinian Products" in Bethlehem issued a statement Tuesday calling on local consumers to boycott Israeli products due to the "aggression" in the Gaza Strip.

I think that is more than enough to digest for now.

If you need more here are some useful links:

The Jerusalem Post
Israel Insider
Israel National News
Y-net News
Iran Press News
Asia Times
FOX News
The Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Sun Times

H/T a friend via e-mail.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:21 PM | Comments (23)

Sex And Self Help

In an e-mail to me Amy Alkon, The Advice Goddess suggested this book: What You Can Change . . . and What You Can't*: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement. If Amy suggests it, it is definitely worth a read.

You might also like her recent column Sex Sells about sex in long term relationships. The short version: more is better. Advice that is generally more useful for the female of the couple. But read the whole thing and especially the comments.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:47 PM | Comments (3)


I just came across a particularly dumb site called Growthbusters. They claim that a growing economy is a bad thing and that if we can just get our situation static or reduced even, the general situation of humans will improve.

"The first commandment of economics is: Grow. Grow forever. Companies get bigger. National economies need to swell by a certain percent each year. People should want more, make more, earn more, spend more - ever more.

The first commandment of the Earth is: enough. Just so much and no more. Just so much soil. Just so much water. Just so much sunshine. Everything born of the Earth grows to its appropriate size and then stops." - Donella Meadows Co-Author, Limits to Growth

Of course Donna isn't too smart. Are there really enough computers in the world? Wouldn't it be good to increase those numbers? Do we really have enough accessible bandwidth? Or would it be good to increase the amount of bandwidth? Is everyone on the planet well fed? Or would it be a good idea to continue to increase the food supply? Is everyone on earth well housed or would it be a good idea to deploy more housing? Does every one in the world have access to enough energy supplies? Or would it be good to improve it?

What we know empirically is that population increases fastest in places that are the most economically deprived. That very fact was brought up in the comments to this Democratic Underground post.

One thing not brought up by the Enough! folks is that we can make more by making things smaller. Nanotechnology to the rescue. We can also make more with what we have by translating ideas into technology. For instance we can get more out of a pound of iron by making it stronger with various alloys. We can make plastics stronger by strengthening them with carbon nanotubes instead of glass. Concrete can be strengthened by reinforcing it with steel. We can make more food with the land we have by improving the productivity of our crops. Biotechnology to the rescue.

So what commodity are we really shortest of? What is our most glaring lack? Knowledge. We need to be doing more to grow our knowledge base. There is a place where growth can continue unhindered for centuries if not millennia. The results should support humans quite nicely.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:33 PM | Comments (7)

Running On Hungry

Making the Desert Bloom has cost the oil rich Arabs a blooming fortune. It hasn't been very profitable either.

Saudi Arabia's desert agriculture confirms that money and water can make even a desert bloom until either the money runs out or the water is depleted. Saudi Arabia's experience is noteworthy because within 15 years, the country experienced shortages of both money and later, water. These shortages impacted negatively on the country's heralded commitment to desert agriculture.

In 1993, Saudi Arabia suffered financial strains, so its cereal-growing program of the previous twelve years was scaled down drastically. Then, in early 2008, as the quality and quantity of non-renewable aquifers reached perilous levels, the government declared that purchases of wheat from local farmers would be reduced by 12.5 percent annually, with the aim of relying entirely on imports by 2016.

Farming is alien to desert habitat and the culture of its peoples. As Saudi Arabia became rich following the quadrupling of oil prices in 1973, however, Saudi investors were induced by huge government subsidies to import the equipment and the farm workers to implement a heavily propagated strategy of food self-sufficiency. Within 12 years, between 1980 and 1992, wheat production grew 29-fold--to 4.1 million tons--making the Saudi desert the world's sixth-largest wheat exporting country. To achieve this enormous growth, the wheat-producing areas were increased by 14-fold, to 924,000 hectares. To put 924,000 hectares in perspective, Egypt, with five times as many people, has an irrigated surface for all crops evolved over the centuries of 3 million hectares.

Beginning in 1993, under pressure from declining oil prices since the mid 1980s, the government had to scale down its wheat-growing subsidies. The budget deficits between 1984 and 1992 added up to $130 billion. Liquidity became so tight that the government had to delay (default) for a few years in honoring more than $70 billion in obligations to thousands of suppliers, contractors, and farmers. Between 1981 and 1993, spending on security added up to $225 billion, out of $420 billion in total oil revenues. In addition, the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War cost $25.7 billion, the 1991 Gulf War cost $80 billion, and maintaining the profligate lifestyle of some 4,000 immediate members during that period of the al-Saud ruling family's patriarch may be estimated to have cost $4 billion per annum.

So what do the Saudis have to show for all that effort? Empty bank accounts, empty aquifers, and an abundance of sand. The difficulty is that sand is not a scarce resource. They also seem to have an abundance of jihadis and those are also currently a glut on the market. And now with oil income this year expected to be less than half what it was last year they seem to be headed for some troubled waters. Or lack of waters actually.
Under the arid and semi-arid conditions of the Arab world an economist would argue that it would be beneficial to import foodstuffs instead of investing in financially and environmentally non-viable local farming schemes. An economist would also argue that farming in arid or semi-arid areas should be left to rain fed lands. Given that drinking and household water use in every country is typically one tenth the volume of the water needed to become food self-sufficient, it would be necessary to stop further depletion of non-renewable water reserves by abandoning irrigation schemes so that the remaining water may be preserved for drinking and household purposes. International "trade" in virtual water allows water-scarce countries to import high water using foodstuffs and export low water using manufactured products.

However, importing foodstuffs gives rise to three challenges. The first is national security. Importing foodstuffs runs contrary to the popular notion in Arab countries that food self-sufficiency protects national security from the dangers of a boycott. Government propagandists succeeded in incorporating this fallacy into the national discourse. They made it into a sacrosanct belief without regard to their severe water shortage or the fact that they import many items, the boycott of any of which would be as detrimental to national security as the boycott of foodstuffs, if not more; such as, to name only a few, desalination plants, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, spare parts, etc.

Failure to address critical issues like water scarcity openly and truthfully is not surprising under non-representative non-participatory governance. Such type of rule bans free press, egalitarian non-governmental organizations, and environmental groups--thus, making it impossible to have effective dissent against the mendacity of food independence in a mainly arid region or introduce a balancing perspective into water policy.

It looks as if oil socialism doesn't work any better than industrial socialism and in fact it may be worse.
In allocating scarce national resources, an economist would argue against investing in any project unless justified on a purely rate of return on investment basis. Irrigation and land reclamation projects are no exception. These must be evaluated according to their rate of return on investment with full costing of water that ensures maintaining the quantity and quality of the aquifers and accounting for the negative and positive externalities of production and consumption. A rate of return approach diverts the foreign currencies that would otherwise be allocated to irrigation and land reclamation to higher return investments. In the export and/or import-substitution industries, such diversion would increase foreign currency earnings, which would then be used to import food. A rate of return on investment criterion would diversify GDP sources. The diversification would enhance employment opportunities in rural areas and mitigate the negative effects of food imports on rural employment. A rate of return approach invests taxpayers' money in more rewarding projects for the country as a whole, not to one segment of the population at the expense of the others. A rate of return on investment criterion can help steer GDP on a path of optimal growth.
The difficulty is that the revenues from oil would need to be more widely distributed into private hands. However, that goes against the grain in the Arab world. What can Arabs produce that the world wants? Not much evidently. And there in lies a problem. Oil has led to a population explosion all living off oil. When the oil is gone starvation is sure to follow. I think the Arabs have another three to five decades to work out a cultural change. Right now they are hurting but have some breathing room. But not much because cultures don't change quickly. Fifty years to make the required changes is the blink of an eye. It will be interesting to see how they manage and a tragedy if they don't.

Commenter Fritz suggest a look at When the Rivers Run Dry for a broader look at the problem of water in the 21st Century.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:00 AM | Comments (10)

Hsu Obama

It looks like Norman Hsu not only backed Hillary he also backed the Most Corrupt President Elect Ever™. Gateway Pundit quotes from The Smoking Gun:

Before becoming a key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, Hsu co-hosted a 2005 California fundraiser for Obama's political action committee and introduced the Illinois Democrat to Marc Gorenberg, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who later joined the Obama campaign's national finance committee. Prosecutors allege that Hsu directed his investors to donate money to specific candidates, and then reimbursed them in violation of federal campaign laws.
No wonder Hillary and Barry are thick as thieves. It appears that they have at least one thief in common.

I wonder how friendly Obama was with Roland Burris? It seems that Most Corrupt President Elect Ever™ was a Burris supporter at least while he had a chance to win the election for Illinois Governor in 2002.

The Washington Post, Dec. 12, 2008: "Obama and Blagojevich rarely interacted until Blagojevich ran for governor. Obama told his friends in Springfield that he was unimpressed by Blagojevich's resume, and he tried to lobby his friend Durbin to enter the race before deciding to support Roland Burris in the Democratic primary.

" 'When Blagojevich beat me, I told Barack to get on board with him,' Burris said. 'It was kind of like swallowing his pride a little bit, because he didn't really see that they had anything in common.'"

Obama also attended when Burris announced his candidacy for governor in 2001.

The Chicago Tribune, Sept. 24, 2001: "Burris finished a strong second in the four-way gubernatorial primary in 1998, and his base of support among African-Americans may be even more significant in a race likely to feature half-dozen candidates. Later in the day, Burris announced his candidacy on the porch of his South Side Chicago home, where about 250 supporters crowded underneath tents in his yard under a gray sky and steady rain.

"His campaign co-chairmen, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) cheered Burris. State Sens. Barak Obama, Donne Trotter and Ricky Hendon, and state Rep. Calvin Giles--all Democrats from Chicago--also attended."

And what does Burris have to do with Hsu? Nothing so far. But I'm keeping my eyes peeled. Given the way politics works in the Democrat party a connection is likely to turn up sooner or later.

The American people thought they were electing the first Black American President. And they were. Unfortunately no one told them he was a circus clown. And what is the purpose of a circus clown? Distraction. In other words: hold on to your wallet.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:18 AM | Comments (11)

A Crypto Problem

My #3 Son was reading Poe's The Gold Bug and so he and I were discussing solving crypto puzzles. My son mentioned the letter frequencies Poe gave and I said Poe was wrong. So I asked him if he was sure he remembered it correctly. My son said he was sure he remembered it correctly and got the book out to prove it. Of course I had read Poe many years ago, but I didn't remember the letter frequencies Poe gave. Here are the letter frequencies Poe gave in order from most common to least as:

e a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l m w b k p q x z

In Linotype usage the frequencies are:

e t a o i n s h r d l u c m f w y p v b g k q j x z

and like any good crypto puzzle solver let me put them one on top of the other:

e a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l m w b k p q x z
e t a o i n s h r d l u c m f w y p v b g k q j x z

Do any of you have an explanation for the differences at least among the most common letters? Was he trying to make it harder for his readers to solve the crypto puzzles he often published?

Should you care to read or re-read the story here is an on line version of The Gold Bug from Project Gutenberg. And here is a paperback version: The Gold-Bug and Other Tales.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:02 PM | Comments (16)

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