Postmodernist rape

Earlier Glenn linked an article titled "You're not as kinky as you think" (with the equally reassuring subtitle "Massive Internet study finds that we're all sexual deviants") which didn't so much remind me that I wasn't as kinky as I thought, so much as it served as a reminder that if we stopped being so blindly judgmental, we might be able to recognize that men are often raped by women.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to prove this objectively -- because as a member of the oppressed class, not only do I lack access to the millions of taxpayer dollars that the proof would cost, but there are obvious issues posed by the lack of access to rape.

However, if I could impart anything from this attempt at the, um, lay science of postsexual postmodernism, it would be to implore readers to think about one thing:

Rape is build on the dishonest edifice of "penetration bias."

There. I just said that.

The traditional rape meme inherently divides parties into victims and aggressors, based on an irrational assumption of penetration as an act necessarily involving aggression by the "penetrator" (itself a totally arbitrary term evoking the inherent suspicion of evil), said to be in diametrical contrast with the state of "being penetrated" (a similarly arbitrary state said to be passive, helpless and therefore innocent by definition).

Anyone who has knowledge of the animal kingdom knows that this is hugely at odds with basic laws of nature.

The state of being ENVELOPED is akin to being eaten, for God's sake! Consumed. Devoured. Thus, it is equally as logical to define the penis as the victim of a vagina as it is to define the vagina as the victim of the penis. Unless we are prepared to say that the eaten is more guilty than the eater, I fail utterly to apprehend (much less comprehend) why the term "rape" denotes anything more than a cultural bias declaring one party more "guilty" than the other, based on a Manichean view (no doubt grounded in collusion between traditional male chauvinism and traditional feminist theory) of a power imbalance based on penetrator versus penetrated rather than the moral and logical equivalent enveloper versus enveloped.

But you won't learn about any of this in classes, seminars, and so-called "sensitivity training sessions" based on traditional rape theory, because they are almost invariably taught by the dominant, enveloping, oppressor.

That the enveloping class is the oppressor class does not require elaborate proof, as it is self apparent to anyone who watches TV or goes to the movies. Men are morons, and women are smart, which means that like any other party in a power imbalance, the former are not truly responsible for their actions. This is classic victimhood, and it is high time that men realized it. What is called "rape" by perpetrators of the ongoing penetration meme is actually often an act done against their bodies and against their will by the members of the enveloping classes. 

The dominant forces are the real rapists.

Little wonder they get to define rape.

posted by Eric at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)

If you can like, why can't you dislike?

A Facebook "dislike" button is being called the most wanted product in 2011:

Recently Facebook added "Questions" to their impressive list of features for the popular social networking website, today we thought we would look at other features which could be added, it seems to us as though a dislike button is what people really want.

Over 3 million people have "Liked" the "Dislike Button" Facebook page, you can show your support for the new feature by liking this page, also you can read what people have to say on the matter in the page's discussions section.

I like dislike, but I suspect Facebook dislikes dislike.

Not to sound negative, but I dislike their disliking of dislike.

All considerations of adolescent snittiness aside, there is a practical reason for a dislike button. Lots of times, I have been horrified by things enough to have wanted to share my horror on Facebook. But there's something about clicking "Like" on a link to a story about a Swat Team brutalizing an innocent family and shooting their dog that rubs me the wrong way. "Share" or "Recommend" are OK, but seeing only "Like" as an option sucks. 

Dislike would be great, so I like this button.



Just don't expect me to install one here!

posted by Eric at 01:40 PM | Comments (6)

The Riots In China You Never Heard About

This is a story I have been meaning to get to for over a week. I've been lazy. But with the "China's Rise America's Fall" stories being so prevalent these days I thought some counter balance was in order. And what are the riots about? Inflation and wages.

Yesterday we reported news that has so far received almost no media exposure, namely that thousands of striking truck drivers had poured into Shanghai's Waigaoqiao zone, one of the city's busiest container ports, protesting over "rising fuel prices and low wages." Today, via Reuters, we learn that this situation has escalated materially, and progressed into violence: "A two-day strike over rising fuel prices turned violent in Shanghai on Thursday as thousands of truck drivers clashed with police, drivers said, in the latest example of simmering discontent over inflation. About 2,000 truck drivers battled baton-wielding police at an intersection near Waigaoqiao port, Shanghai's biggest, two drivers who were at the protest told Reuters. The drivers, who blocked roads with their trucks, had stopped work on Wednesday demanding the government do something about rising fuel costs, workers said." And while we have violent uprisings over austerity in Europe, now we have violent strikes over inflation in China?
So the next time you hear about the swift and painless ascent of China don't be so sure. At the very least it will not be painless.

Go to the article for more links. And don't forget the comments. Here is part of one I particularly liked.

by PulauHantu29

The PRC "injected" over $800 Billion (officially) into their economy, i.e., directly into their RE and stock market (na dinto the pockets of wealthy RE developers) and creating more Billionaires in China then in the USA in just two year! Add to that the trillions of "hot money" and those markets became a bigger Bubble then the USA subprime imo.

Last year I watched TV interview various people complaining about rising food and housing...the PRC CB did nothing.

Last November I watched PBS interview a Shanghai realtor who said "prices are rising over 8% per month"...the PRC CB did nothing. Rural peasants were complaing that food was too expensive. One old man said "green peppers rose 300% in one month" action was taken to curb the problem.

Now we have riots and protests and the gubberment there is behind the curve.

The net of the comments? A hard landing is predicted for China.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:23 PM | Comments (3)

Another day, another Rubicon!

Hardly does a day go by in which I am not reminded of the blurring of the distinction between facts (often wistfully known as "the truth") and opinions. On the rare days I am not reminded, it is only because I haven't been as attentive to online content as I "should" be. As it often seems that my life consists of online content, avoiding such content becomes another life-avoidance scheme.

Or should I say reality-avoidance? I hate it when the opinions of other people are the only reality, because I am as sick of their opinions as I am of my own. That probably reflects too many years being online, and endlessly reading the opinions and then spouting off with some of my own. Factor in that most of the opinions involve politics (something I dislike intensely but keep up out of a twisted sense of obligation), and it is not surprising that a sense of burnout would develop. I complain about the sense of burnout all the time, but that's even more tedious, because I hate to do my daily blog burnout routine in the same way I hate doing my strenuous daily exercises but  do them anyway. Which means that writing a blog post is often like doing 120 pushups. Both are "good for me." The difference is that even though I hate doing the pushups, and the damned chinups, and the even more damnable three-mile-runs, they are easier to do in the sense that I don't have to be creative or original. A self-imposed requirement of daily original creativity is a lot more onerous. 

Reflecting on the unresolvable Chernobyl data recently, I worried that the blurring between truth and opinion tended to prove post modernists were at least partially right.

If basic data is not there, that means that most of what we used to consider hard, factual truth will have been rendered simply matters of opinion. (The extreme skepticism over "scientific" data said to be global warming "evidence" as well as extreme skepticism over basic vital statistics are but two stark examples. Personal experience has made me become skeptical over Google road maps, which have directed me to roads that turned out never to have existed.)

Truth is opinion?

Just what I used to hate the Post-modernists for saying.

What could suck more than that?

I don't know, but I liked Dave's response to a glum pronouncement that "we are living in an era of public life with no referee -- and no common understandings between fair and unfair, between relevant and trivial, or even between facts and fantasy."

Dave reminded me that if there is a silver lining in this cloud, it might be that at least the MSM is no longer the arbiter of truth.

the age of the MSM deciding what's innuendo and what's a real story is slowly dying.

Pravda is no longer pravda.

I can handle that!

But apparently Robert Gibbs can't:

"There are no more arbiters of truth," said former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "So whatever you can prove factually, somebody else can find something else and point to it with enough ferocity to get people to believe it. We've crossed some Rubicon into the unknown."

"Some" Rubicon? How many do we need?

I don't think he really means "the unknown," for what could possibly be unknown about people's opinions? You either believe what people say or you do not. Whether they are true in the scientific sense may be ultimately unknowable. But the existence and content of the opinions is known. What cannot be determined with any degree of confidence is truth in the sense of factual certainty.

The stupid birth certificate that all these people are squabbling about is a perfect example. Unless you don't believe that Hawaiian officials have in fact produced the official document, it is a certified assertion by the State of Hawaii that Barack Obama was born there. Legally, it is prima facie evidence that he was.  But that does not mean that he really, absolutely was.

Of course, there is still something called the truth, and unless you think he's an alien hatched from an egg or something, it is undeniable that Obama had to have been born someplace. Normally, we rely on the governments of states to inform us who was born, who was married, and who died in them. But it is always possible that governments might lie about such things, and apparently, millions of Americans are convinced that Hawaii is lying.

I'm not an especially gullible person, but I think that state records need to be considered, if not true, then at least binding unless and until someone can actually show real, tangible proof that they are false. For example, if a woman falsely claimed her husband was dead and persuaded a state to issue a death certificate to collect on an insurance policy or something, that death certificate could be invalidated upon proof that her husband had been found alive. Despite all the noise, I have seen no evidence that would convince me (much less officially rebut the Hawaiian government) that Obama was not born there.

But that's just my opinion. Millions disagree. This reflects that there is increasingly a complete lack of confidence in official assertions about anything.

Perhaps I'm an old-fashioned rube for believing that we should have confidence in state records. I grew up before postmodernism had taken root. But with more and more PoMos now in charge of everything, including the record keeping functions of the government, I find it hard to come up with a good argument in support of my position that state records should be believed. By the postmodernists' own standards, official records -- like all "truths" -- ought to be seen merely as reflecting the times and biases of those who issued them. 

The only reason I can see for anyone to believe them aside from wanting to believe them is that legally we have to. So, while I might want to believe that silly piece of paper that says I was born in Pennsylvania, the government says I have to. 

Whether that is a form of authoritarianism will have to wait.

So many Rubicons to cross!

The PoMos sure have made life challenging for us government-believing rubes.

Um, the Rubicon is still a real river, right?

MORE: FWIW, I think the "Rubicon" which Gibbs complains is being "crossed into the unknown" (I take it he means the Rubicon of Truth) was actually crossed long ago-- by the left.

How ironic that people on the right side of the spectrum are now being accused of crossing it, when all they did was notice.  

Moral lesson? If you notice that the Emperor has no clothes, you may find yourself accused of stealing them!
posted by Eric at 11:43 AM | Comments (5)

Meet The New Era, Same As The Old Era

President Barack Obama's appearance Wednesday in the White House briefing room to present a documented rebuttal of suspicions that he was not born on U.S. soil was more than just a surprise. It was a decisive new turn in the centuries-long American history of political accusation and innuendo.

By directly and coolly engaging a debate with his most fevered critics, Obama offered the most unmistakable validation ever to the idea that we are living in an era of public life with no referee -- and no common understandings between fair and unfair, between relevant and trivial, or even between facts and fantasy.

Were you guys born in 2008, or something?  You don't remember all the conspiracy theories -- advanced by Dan Rather, no less -- about Bush getting special treatment when he was a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard?  You don't remember "I did not have sexual relations with that woman?"  The John Edwards - Rielle Hunter story? 

It's only when someone comes up with a crazy notion about a beloved Democrat that the press dismisses it -- even if it's real, like when Newsweek spiked the story about Clinton having sex with an intern.  The media as a whole tried desperately to ignore the bombshell story about John Edwards cheating on his terminally ill wife even as he used her for a campaign prop, despite all the evidence, but a similar story about John McCain with no evidence (and certainly no love child) got Page One treatment by the NYT. And in 2004, the Swift Vet campaign forced John Kerry to retract multiple claims about his service and his behavior after coming home, despite receiving little to no support from the media.

The age of innuendo didn't start this week, but the age of the MSM deciding what's innuendo and what's a real story is slowly dying.

UPDATE:  Andy McCarthy asks: given how trivially easy it was for Obama to produce the document, where were the indignant questions to Obama from the press on this?

The whole thing is especially ironic and galling to us Illinoisans, who remember how the MSM sued to have the child custody hearings of his Senate opponent's divorce proceedings released, an extraordinary violation of his privacy rights.

That's right: for Obama, the MSM doesn't even ask for a long-form birth certificate, let alone transcripts of his grades, law review articles, his relationship with terrorist Bill Ayers, his Communist mentor, etc.  For those who oppose him, no stone must go unturned, no matter how private! 

Did Sarah Palin write a book?  Quick, assign a dozen fact-checkers!  No need to review Obama's book, we're sure everything he's ever done is wonderful and perfect.

Sickening.  Just absolutely sickening.

posted by Dave at 11:14 AM | Comments (2)

The game is over! Let the new game begin!

I should have been online last night but I wasn't. I went out and saw a play.

And now I'm really, really sorry! Because yesterday was a real milestone (well, sort of...) in the ongoing Birther drama and I missed it until this morning.

Barack Obama has apparently released a copy of his so-called "long form" birth certificate. The Washington Examiner says it's time to put this to rest and get on with the real issues.

The White House's release on Wednesday of Obama's long-form birth certificate -- the archived document with the signature of the physician who attended at his birth -- should settle this matter for good. Obama is doing so much damage to America, especially with his wars on free enterprise and the energy industry, continuing quasi-imperial power grabs, and feckless foreign policy, that the country has no time for debating false conspiracy theories about his origins.

I couldn't agree more, and the only thing that surprises me is the timing. I thought its release would have been dragged out until the late summer shortly before the election. Perhaps Team Obama (which I think instigated and fueled this flap from the start) has been influenced by the release of the WND book. Or perhaps they want to make the Birthers look even more ridiculous, by forcing them to go further out on a limb by denouncing the long form as another forgery, or better yet, switch gears into "it doesn't matter if he was born here as he wasn't a natural born citizen" mode. 

I predict that this conspiracy theory will absolutely not die. There is far too much invested in it.

Wow, no sooner did I say "I predict that this conspiracy theory will absolutely not die" than I learned that my prediction was not a prediction at all, but merely an illustration of my slowness and ignorance. (I might as well "predict" that man will get to the moon.) 

Alex Jones says it is a forgery!

And naturally, WorldNetDaily has joined in the fray, on the one hand claiming the long form is suspicious, and also switching gears to the specious "Vattel" backup argument  -- the "he wasn't natural born anyway" claim. "Now game begins," they say. According to the language in the Constitution as interpreted by WorldNetDaily scholars, a candidate has to be able to show not only birth here, but that both of his parents were United States citizens. (I realize the founders didn't say that, but according to the living breathing WorldNetDaily Constitution, a post-Constitution translation of a Swiss author's treatise means that's what the founders really meant to say. They somehow anticipated the wording of the future translation.) 

Does that mean children of unknown fathers or anonymous sperm donors, are ineligible? What about clones?

And how does WorldNetDaily know that the Kenyan Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was really the president's father? Simply because his mother said so? Has any genetic testing been done?

It would be easy to clear this up.

Obama may say "we do not have time for this kind of silliness" but he knows better.

Let the real silly begin!

MORE: Commenter bernie says that "If the submitted document were a check it would be seized as evidence and that person submitting it would be jailed." The problem with that argument is that it was the State of Hawaii that submitted it -- something Hawaii has the sovereign right to do, as does any state. Might as well argue that if the money our government issues were private checks they would be seized as evidence and the persons submitting them would be jailed.

What I think is happening is a strategic tactic by Obama. With the release of the much-demanded "long form," the Birthers are being forced to decide whether to continue attacking the birth certificate (which some of course will) or abandon that issue and move on to the "Natural Born" argument. And good luck with either.

Considering that there are voters out there (who voted for Obama under the assumption he was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan born father), it may be better to deal with the merits of other issues, but it's not up to me. I'm just a blogger.

MOER: The hits keep happening.  "Top 20 Conspiracy Theories That Have Already Sprung Up Around President Obama's Birth Certificate"

posted by Eric at 09:22 AM | Comments (9)

Fukushima 28 April 2011

It has been a few days since my last round up and there have been some "events". But first a couple of videos of critical importance.

Radiation Safety has this report:

Radiation in the #1 building is at highest levels since the crisis

They don't even know the source of the newly-elevated readings

From the "They don't even know..." link:
"Tepco must figure out the source of high radiation," said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University. "If it's from contaminated water leaking from inside the reactor, Tepco's so-called water tomb may be jeopardized because flooding the containment vessel will result in more radiation in the building."
Ah yes. The water tomb. Not exactly Davy Jones' Locker. At least not intentionally. So what is this water tomb? It is an idea that has been around for a few weeks. It sort of goes like this: we will fill up the reactor vessels and containment vessels with water and all will be well. Brilliant idea to be sure. If the structures (at least the containment vessels) are intact and there are no further significant earthquakes. And if Recriticality and/or Core On The Floor are not problems. Of course the structures haven't been rigorously inspected. The radiation levels are too high. And earthquakes? Well that is a crap shoot. But the odds are up for a while. Aftershocks.

Evidence Of Recriticality - 19 April

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 "Water Entombment" - Same News, Different Spin

Also, TEPCO disclosed on April 26 that the survey by the robots inside the Reactor 1's reactor building could not pinpoint the location of the damage on the Containment Vessel.
But no matter. TEPCO and NISA are going with their "accidental entombment" and about to gradually pour over 7,000 tons of water in the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel.
I wonder if TEPCO has a secret office working on this disaster. The Office of "With a Little Bit Of Luck We can Make Things Worse". And preferably avoid blame.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 1120 Milli-Sieverts/Hr Inside the Reactor 1 Bldg, But "Water Entombment" Has Started Anyway

That high level of radiation would indicate the highly radioactive water from the Pressure Vessel may be leaking outside the Containment Vessel, but TEPCO has decided to go ahead with the plan.
I was always told that before you do anything it is wise to know what is going on. Lest you make things worse. What this tells me is that the Japanese believe they only have "very bad" and "much worse" choices. Or else they are idiots. You can't rule out that factor.

Workers locked in battle at Fukushima, exposure to radiation rising

I believe a workaround to the rising dose workers are absorbing has been found.

Japan's Ministry of Health to Get Rid of Annual Radiation Limit for Nuclear Plant Workers

The normal limit of 50 milli-sieverts per year is to be eliminated, but 5-year total of 100 milli-sieverts limit remains.

If the limit is eliminated, the workers who will have been exposed to the radiation of more than 50 milli-sieverts but less than 100 milli-sieverts at Fukushima I Nuke Plant will still be able to work at other nuke plants, as long as 5-year total remains under 100 milli-sieverts.

Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is for the nuclear industry's health, labor and welfare. Of course, the argument is that unless these workers are able to maintain the power plants (there are 17 of them, with 54 reactors, according to this site), everybody's health, labor, and welfare will be threatened

You can go to the link for more links.

So what kind of workers are the Japanese getting?

Job offers come not from TEPCO but from Mizukami Kogyo, a company whose business is construction and cleaning maintenance. The description indicates only that the work is at a nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The job is specified as 3 hours per day at an hourly wage of 10,000 yen. There is no information about danger, only the suggestion to ask the employer for further details on food, lodging, transportation and insurance.
That is about $120 an hour given the current exchange rate. I might be tempted if it was an 8 hour day with 3 hours a day in the jump zone.

Radiation above safety limits detected in Fukushima fish, vegetable

Radioactive topsoil removed from school grounds

Workers are removing radiation-tainted topsoil from school grounds in the northeastern Japanese city of Koriyama. The city is about 50 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The city began removing the soil on Wednesday at two of the 28 public elementary and junior high schools and daycare centers.

Radiation levels at one of the schools are higher than the central government's new safe limit for children playing outdoors. That limit is 3.8 microsieverts per hour. Other schools are close to the limit.

And of course everything is under control and there is no chance of further distribution of radioactives. Scrape once and forget it. Come to think of it given the logistics problems - parents - children - teachers - schools - they may have no good alternative.

TEPCO starts test for more water injection

Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun testing one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to check its plan to submerge and cool the hot fuel rods.

The utility firm began pumping more water into Reactor Number 1 on Wednesday in order to monitor changes in the water depth in the containment vessel and check for leaks.

After increasing the amount of water from 6 to 10 tons per hour on Wednesday the firm says it has delayed further raising the amount injected due to data showing some instability in the state of the reactor.

Given that evidence of instability they are maintaining the injection rate at 10 tons an hour (roughly 2,500 gph).
The test is part of a plan to fill the Number 1 and 3 reactors' containment vessels with water by July, to cool the fuel rods in a stable manner.
Something in this explanation is not holding water. I'm wondering if the containment vessels will.

TEPCO: Water isn't leaking from No. 4 reactor pool. Well that is good to know. But they add this little tit bit at the end of their article.

The storage pool is to be reinforced by July.
Would that be reinforced or repaired? I suppose if you are not on site it would be hard to tell.

TEPCO to rid 200,000 tons of radioactive water. They plan on doing it by decontaminating the water.

On Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Company announced it would set up the treatment system to eliminate radioactive materials.

The utility firm says 87,500 tons of contaminated water has accumulated in the No.1 to 4 reactors.

It estimates that up to 200,000 tons of highly contaminated water will be produced by the year end if all the water used to cool the reactors becomes highly radioactive.

The company says it plans to start installing the system in early May and begin operating in June.

It hopes to dispose of 1,200 tons of highly contaminated water per day once the system is in place.

If the system works as planned it should be able to run the expected 200,000 tons of water through the plant in about 170 days. If it doesn't work as expected? There will be delays.

That ought to be enough to keep you depressed for a while.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:22 AM

Dispatches From The Continuing War On Things That Work

I'm in the habit of doing things like melting butter in the microwave in my pyrex measuring cups.    Now I wonder if it's safe after seeing this over at Instapundit

And speaking of that, have there been any changes to hair dye?  I'm perfectly willing to admit that perhaps my hair is getting more dye resistent, but I've checked with friends who also dye their hair and the ordinary, cheap dye from the grocery store is now lasting a week, if that.  It just washes off.  I've had to switch to the Frederic Fekkai stuff...

posted by Sarah at 10:16 PM | Comments (3)

Awesome Crazy Sauce

I know Eric periodically writes about being tired of politics, where people get inherently crazy. However, at least in politics you could argue our whole way of life - if not our civilization - might be at stake. Certainly money is, and money, ultimately is the most real thing there is, (since in our civilization money dictates where we live, what we eat, etc.)

HOWEVER I live in an even more interesting world than that of politics. In that world, being a writer is sort of like being a movie star, except with none of the high pay, fame or... well, okay, it's not at all like being a movie star.

I'm going to say several things about writers and, oh, yeah, about teachers.

Continue reading "Awesome Crazy Sauce"

posted by Sarah at 04:44 PM | Comments (8)

"there is no mathematically sound way to fix our problems through legislation alone."

This email was forwarded to me but it was written by Eric Odom, a libertarian Tea Party activist, and I thought I would share it with readers here. It's long, so I'm putting the text in the extended area, lest people read it and mistake it for one of my posts.

As to whether Odom is being unnecessarily alarmist, I don't know. I read different opinions all the time, and I often feel as if I am adrift in a sea of ever-louder, ever-shriller, ever-more paranoid opinions. I worry that I may drown.

Is it "true" that there is no hope?

Am I in "denial" if I hope not?

The total collapse of the United States economy is certainly not a fun thing to contemplate.

I should probably find it more depressing than I do.

Hey, maybe if I cheer up I can get depressed!

Continue reading ""there is no mathematically sound way to fix our problems through legislation alone.""

posted by Eric at 10:54 AM | Comments (10)

"Is the Republican field big enough for two libertarians?"

The question is on the minds of several commentators, and it is a good one.

I think the answer is an obvious "YES."

I don't think libertarian Republicans should be wringing their hands over this, because not only is it an indication that libertarianism is alive and well in the party, it also means Ron Paul is not the only libertarian game in town. 

Whether they are in a clear majority of the GOP or not, I think this it is clear that libertarianish thinkers are no longer circus freaks. I can't imagine anyone asking, "Is the Republican field big enough for two conservatives?" or even "Is the Republican field big enough for two moderates?"

And Gary Johnson is a reminder that if a libertarian Republican can be elected governor for two terms in a 2-1 Democrat state, it might be time to ask whether such an ideology is really as "fringey" as the political insiders who bitterly cling to the flawed dichotomy of "either liberal conservative" would have the rest of us believe.

To preserve the artificially limited spectrum on which their power depends, they want the playing field kept as small as possible, so I would expect them do anything they can to keep libertarian issues and candidates out of the debates. A likely tactic would be to engender animosity not between Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, along with their followers. How well that will work, I don't know.

I prefer Gary Johnson, but I would never begrudge Ron Paul his due. Despite my disagreements with the man, he broke new ground in the GOP, and I will repeat what I said when I returned from the Michigan Republican Convention in January:

I think all libertarians owe a serious debt to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty. They stormed the Republican Party before the Tea Party existed, and the once-sidelined libertarians now have a place at the table thanks to them.

It's nice to see the table growing.

posted by Eric at 10:04 AM | Comments (3)

Help Monitor Japan For Radiation

plutosdad at my post A Radiation Safety Expert Says - Tokyo Uh Oh left a link to the following post which I am going to repeat (most of it) here. I have no idea if these people are legit. But the idea is a good one.


This morning, my friend Sean Bonner e-mailed me this:

As you may or may not know I've spent the vast majority of the last month either in Tokyo or working with people in Japan on project I helped start called Safecast. Actually we just changed the name to Safecast, until last week it was called RDTN. We realized that the only information on radiation levels was coming from groups we couldn't really trust, and decided we could do something better. Safecast has a goal of distributing geiger counters to people in Japan and creating an open data sensor network so anyone can access the information we gather with these devices. We're also collecting data ourselves - if you have a few moments and want to read this post it's a great example of what we're doing right this second.

If you don't have a few moments I'll sum it up for you - we drove up to Fukushima and took readings at schools that are in the "safe" zone. At one of those schools we measured over 50 µSv/hr outside on a playground. To put that in perspective outside today in Los Angeles I measured 0.072 µSv/hr. We also gave some counters to volunteers in the area who will take readings and report back to us, and measured over 5000 different points during the trip. We hope to do this on a regular basis.

Anyway, what I'm asking for your help with is this:

We have a kickstarter and are more than halfway to our goal, but only have 11 days left to hit that mark. While donations are helpful, what we really need is awareness. We need more people to know about what we're doing, we need more people to know they can help.


And that 50 uSV/hr reading? That translates into a 438 miliSieverts a year. That would be 43.8 REM for those of you more familiar with the old system. That is a very high dose even for plant workers who have accepted the risk. For civilians and especially children, that is a radiation level that is unacceptable except in small doses - on the order of a few hours a year. And that is not counting that the stuff is carried by the wind so it is ingestible. So it is possible to carry a dose with you even if you leave the area.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:52 AM

Got a prayer?

In an earlier email exchange with Sarah, I made a shocking conspiracy claim, which I decided to post here in the hope that someone can show me how wrong I am. Noting that a friend had loved him when he was New Mexico GGovernor, Sarah asked me whether I think Gary Johnson has a prayer.

First let's get religion out of the way. Gary Johnson's religious views are not mentioned in his Wiki bio, although this Christian Science Monitor piece notes he was raised Lutheran but speaks little about his faith:

Johnson was married for 28 years to Denise "Dee" Simms, before he divorced her in 2005. She died in 2006. He had two children with Simms, daughter Seah and son Erik. Raised Lutheran, Johnson speaks little about his faith.

Whatever his religious views might be, he has come under attack for allegedly supporting "taxpayer funding of religious private schools through vouchers" -- which is said to be "faux libertarian" as his support for gay unions but not gay marriage. Regarding the latter, his position is that government should stay out of the marriage business:

Does Johnson think there's a constitutional right to same-sex marriage? "I don't see it," he says, "but I do support gay unions. I think the government should be out of the marriage business and leave marriage to the churches."

Anyway, that's about as close as I can come to determining Governor Johnson's religious views, which is not very close. I cannot say whether he "has a prayer" in the literal sense.

Obviously, Sarah meant the word "prayer" in the sense of whether he has a chance of becoming president, and I just saw it as an excuse for looking into the man's religious views here.

As I said to Sarah, though, I see the issue as not whether he has a prayer of being president, but whether he has a prayer of being heard.

Or a prayer of being known as a candidate. When I saw him speak here, I remember thinking how marvelous it would be to get the ideas he is speaking at least out into the public arena for consumption, but then I saw that there was an absolute news blackout on his visit to Ann Arbor. There was simply no local media coverage. This being a left wing town, I guess that's understandable, but you can be damned sure that if Newt Gingrich came here to speak, there would be plenty of media on hand.

Since the Ann Arbor visit, Gary Johnson announced his candidacy and that was greeted by near zero reporting. Moreover, it appears that GOP insiders do not want him to be allowed in the debates. They might allow a few token nut minor candidates, but not one who has been a governor who has cut more spending bills than any governor in history and means what he says when he talks about taking the Constitution literally.

There is no question in my mind that not only does Gary Johnson recognize this, but unlike any other candidate I know of, he has walked the walk in terms of knowing how to deal with it. 

When he was governor, the man vetoed 750 bills for wasteful spending. At the time, that was more than the the other 49 governors in the country combined.

If there was a Guinness Book of World Records category for greatest number of bills vetoed by an American executive, he would hold it. No president -- in the entire history of the United States -- has vetoed more bills. (This earned him the nickname "Governor Veto.")

So he is the real deal. A lot of politicians talk about the tough choices that need to be made and make all sort of promises, but for those who are looking for someone who can really do it, he not only can, but he already has. Who else can say that?

Yet this is not a ruthless man who loves wielding the ax for its own sake. His ability to patiently explain in detail the reasons for every cut he made is very endearing. He comes across not as a cruel Ebenezer Scrooge, but as a naturally compassionate and humane man. That he was elected and reelected in a state which is 2-1 Democrat is nothing short of amazing, and a testament to his ability to patiently explain these things to people on the other side. (In fairness, his social liberalism probably helps soften the blow too....) He comes across as mild-mannered, self-effacing, humorous, and one of the most approachable men I have yet met in politics. I walked right up to him and chatted, and there was none of the usual pomposity I associate with finger-to-the-wind poseurs hiding behind canned bombastic slogans. I told him that I was tired of holding my nose and voting for Republicans I didn't like, and he immediately knew what I meant. I specifically asked him about one of my pet peeves, which is the federal assumption of vast powers never mentioned in the Constitution (such as Homeland Security, Department of Education, the FDA, etc.), and he said that he would simply abolish them.

And you know what? He meant it.

Little wonder if my suspicions are correct about the left and the right having mutually agreed to absolutely pull the plug on Gary Johnson.

His ideas are far more dangerous than his chances of winning the nomination, so the idea is to silence him.

Anyway, that's my paranoid conspiracy theory for the day. So go ahead and prove me wrong. It might cheer me up.

And if I am right in my suspicions, I should point out that if Republicans insiders are sabotaging Johnson's chances, they may be losing a major opportunity to unseat Obama. In a HuffPo column titled "The Guy That Barack Obama Should Worry About," Brian Ross argues that if Johnson's views ever saw the light of day, they could resonate with the voters in a manner that could be deadly to Obama:

Here's why Barack Obama should be good and scared of this dark-horse candidate.

I was in the sports news business working out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, when Gary Johnson was the governor of the state. A rancher from the Northern part of the state, he went after the old-boy political machine run by the Spanish who have run things in New Mexico since the conquistador Don Juan de Oñate marched into the area that became Santa Fe in 1598.

As governor, Johnson was a strong fiscal conservative, and a social moderate. He had broad appeal, even amongst centrist Democrats, many of whom crossed party lines and voted for him. He was laid back. He shunned the Governor's mansion and the entourage which were a hallmark of Bill Richardson's tenure as governor of New Mexico. In fact, on a Sunday, more often than not you could find the Gov sitting at a table at Bagelmania in Downtown Santa Fe, reading the paper and having breakfast with his wife. He took the time to say hello, and even asked about your kids.

That belies the toughness with which he ran the ship of state in New Mexico. The legislature there only meets for a few weeks each year. Johnson routinely used his veto powers to threaten the legislature into coming to terms with tough issues when the partisanship fractured the Round House.

National political analysts still mislabel Johnson as your Dr. Paul fringe candidate...

Naturally, they want to label him fringe. Easier to sideline him that way.

Trouble is, he might not be as fringey as they want him to be.

He is hardly in the fanatic anti-war nut box. Not only is Andrew Sullivan fretting that Johnson might not be the anti-war candidate he is so often taken to be, but Justin Raimondo slams Johnson for endorsing humanitarian war and for being unacceptably pro-Israel. 

And there's this paleocon post:

Johnson has previously opened the door to launching a war of choice in which no American interest is at stake, and he has done so by making a misguided and absurd claim that this is "what we have always been about," which isn't significantly different from the insipid notion that the U.S. has to meddle in other nations' internal affairs because "America is different."

Well, America is different. At least in theory. Sometimes America is a force for right even when almost all the other countries want to go along with what isn't right. I don't think that's misguided and absurd, and I am glad to see evidence that Gary Johnson doesn't either. 

Nor did Winston Churchill:

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing--after they've tried everything else.

If Johnson is fringe, he might be just the fringe the country needs right now.

Prayer or not.

MORE: Neither Glenn Reynolds nor Reason are ignoring Gary Johnson. Reason's Brian Doherty looks at the various reactions to Johnson, and notes a tendency to "obscure politicians who seem too good to be true."

Hmmm... I guess any candidate who seems too good to be true would almost have to be considered fringe these days.

And speaking of fringe, what if Glenn is right about this?

...when you have a system of government so demanding at top levels that few normal people care to participate in it, you will get few normal people at the top levels.

Is normal the new fringe?

I have to say that when I met Gary Johnson, he struck me as shockingly normal. (But who am I to judge such things?)

posted by Eric at 03:16 PM | Comments (2)

Oil's Well That Ends Well

Behold the New Iraq, exporting oil AND democracy, and set to become one of the richest countries in the world -- at five times current levels they would be looking at about $25B per month in windfall wealth, in a country of ~25 million.  (Worth noting: no democracy has ever failed at that level of wealth.)  And instead of going for SCUDs, tanks, and WMD programs to attack Iraq's neighbors or tacky palaces to aggrandize Saddam, the money might actually be spent usefully, to benefit the Iraqi people.

Status of neocons: vindicated.

posted by Dave at 01:34 PM | Comments (4)

A Radiation Safety Expert Says - Tokyo Uh Oh

A little bio of the radiation safety expert.

I am a licensed medical dosimetrist from the U.S. currently living in the Philippines. Given the recent extraordinary events unfolding in Japan, i've decided to express, to the best of my ability, the dangers associated with the nuclear powerplant crises in Fukushima and how it may affect the territory of the Philippines. After much discussion elsewhere, i have decided to basically live blog my observations and present them for those who are interested.
OK. Now how about Tokyo?
Much higher readings in parts of Tokyo vs a few days ago

According to a recent update from that facebook dude with his own personal geiger counter:

"2011-04-26 15:13: 0.716 micro-Sieverts/h. Location: Roof of Metropolis Office, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Conclusion: Elevated, but not dangerous."
His Digilert 100 unit is one of the most reliable geiger counters on the market. His readings are 18 times higher than Tokyo historical norms. On a yearly basis, this would yield 630 millirem from local background alone. People have to remember that the sources of these high readings are from inhalable and ingestible fission products - not from a temporary visit to a high mountaintop. They should be avoided as much as reasonably possible, and every action should be taken to prevent these levels of exposure from reaching young children and infants.

It looks like the recent change in wind directions really are starting to manifest in higher readings. I don't remember Tokyo reading this high since the initial massive discharge back in mid-March. Something tells me Tepco has been losing the fight big time recently but is not disclosing accurate dispersion and exposure data.

It's time for everyone to start paying close attention to regional and global wind forecasts again.

And that is the real danger of this stuff. It lingers in the body for weeks or decades depending on the isotope and the circumstances. And the extra internal dose is especially hard on the recently conceived and growing children.

Commercial nuclear plants are not nearly safe enough in my estimation. They need to be intrinsically safe. Which is to say they can survive a shutdown without electrical power indefinitely.

We shouldn't build any more of the old style plants except possibly for the Navy. Aboard ship in an emergency you have three shifts (actually 6 since watches are 4 hours) available instantly. Decisions will be made quickly. The captain expects it. He is a nuke too. Not only that he can order things done by the rest of the Navy. A commercial operation can not be run to that standard. It is not cost effective. Thus civilian plants need to be safer. And it wouldn't hurt if military plants improved as well. If that is feasible.

And another point worth emphasis. It is not over for Tokyo. Let us be conservative and say the increased radiation happened over a period of 5 days. Fifty days at that rate and Tokyo becomes an exclusion zone. About the beginning of July. Godzilla.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:00 PM | Comments (5)

Tilting towards texdrochellicality

I like Frank Chu. He's not only refreshing, but he's a sort of political warning post. It's what can happen if you stick to your principles despite what most of us consider reality.

In Zombie's typically humorous coverage of a recent Obama fundraiser in San Francisco, ("Obama Visits the S(lush) F(und) Bay Area"), he said this about my, your, and OUR man Frank:

I haven't posted a picture of Frank Chu for a while, so here he is once again -- San Francisco's resident all-purpose protester, who shows up at literally every single political event with his trademark indecipherable signs (and yes, he is completely serious about them).

Here's the picture:


Clearly, he is a man whose logic is as bulletproof as his principles.

And in the following video, Frank sets the record straight with  "Wiggin Caxtrokenical Patrosenial":


Who can argue with that?

There is something charming about Frank Chu, even if he is crazy, and depending on how broad a view you take of these things, sanity might be completely beside the point. 

Another guy I find charming is anything but crazy. What I have noticed about Donald Trump is that the people who get really mad about him (and some people I greatly respect in the Tea Party become indignant when his name is even mentioned) only work themselves into rages because they take him seriously.

But what if he is a buffoon? Wouldn't that mean he should be cut some slack, and allowed to like, "freak freely" as Jerry Garcia used to put it?

I mean, I liked what Trump said about Obama being unqualified for Ivy League schools.

Manhattan real estate mogul Donald Trump suggested in an interview Monday that President Barack Obama had been a poor student who did not deserve to be admitted to the Ivy League universities he attended.

Trump, who is mulling a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, offered no proof for his claim but said he would continue to press the matter as he has the legitimacy of the president's birth certificate.

"I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."

The issue is not so much what he said (which for all I know may be highly debatable), but just the way he said it. Trump is like the forgotten common man -- the type who show up at Tea Party demos and speak their minds freely and are basically accountable to no one. Like them, Trump can shoot off his mind freely -- except unlike them, he's got the billionaire big media presence. This is highly unusual; most men in his position would be hemmed in by a sense of "responsibility."

Hell even I am hemmed in by a sense of responsibilty, and I have no responsibility! I pull punches all the time, because I don't want to hurt feelings, start arguments, be logically inconsistent, or be misunderstood. (That's worked out really well for me, hasn't it?)

Sometimes I think I need to become more texdrochellical.

Up from reality!

posted by Eric at 12:00 PM | Comments (2)

Foreign Policy

I'm having a discussion over at Zero Hedge with Crockett. We are looking at Ron Paul's idea of Foreign Policy. Needless to say - I'm not a fan.

Way ahead of you Crockett, my man. I already make my world conform to my desires. And I'm not unhappy with the results. International politics is a mugs game. Those who can play it well are thugs. Reality. You don't like it? Well the answer is to fix human nature. You up for it?

People are what they are. No amount of libertarian philosophy will change that. What do people really want? Liberty? Doubtful. The question on every man's tongue is a very old one "ubi est?" So I work for a little liberty at the margins. Ending the drug war is within reach. So I reach for that.

I used to have grand dreams for a country premised on Liberty. Now I'm willing to settle for movement at the margins. i.e. something that can actually be done.


My ideal foreign policy establishment:

A State Department run by Warmongers who are willing to settle for peace. And a War Department run by Peacemakers who are the most vicious warriors on the planet. The Marines get it. "No better friend, no worse enemy."

Ron Paul is a Peacemonger. They are most dangerous because they usually deliver the opposite of what they claim their aim is. This is my view:

Peace through superior fire power and the willingness to use it.

To be loved is a good thing. For the rest fear should suffice.

Of course domestic policy is different and there Paul shines. What he is unable to do is to reconcile the two systems. He wants the world to be a logical place. It isn't. Proof? There are Frenchmen.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:55 AM | Comments (17)

No matter what they say, "hate crime" has a fishy smell to it

The latest black on white attack in a McDonalds has gone bigtime viral, and as it just seethes with Culture War subtexts, I find myself unable to ignore it as I perhaps should. (Alas. Sometimes I think that what Trotsky said* about ignoring war applies to ignoring the Culture War.)

Drudge has been linking the video and the stories for days now, and there is of course much clamoring for hate crime prosecution of the attackers. Once again, I should point out my stubborn opposition to hate crime laws. As I said in an earlier email to a friend (who thought this was really ugly incident, which it was),

If prosecutors did their job and went after violent criminals, no one would be clamoring for hate crime legislation. The problem is that aside from the constitutional issue, they create priority victims. Then everyone clamors to be included on the list.

And in this case, which list do we use? Obviously, the victim was white and the attackers were black. But the victim was also transgendered, and for the life of me, I find it hard to ignore that. This is not to say that I support special protection for any category, but as I watched the video I just found myself wondering about something....


The victim was not an "obvious" M2F and I doubt most men would have been able to detect that this was someone who had crossed that divide.

The attackers, however, were women. Did they know? My theory (and it is just a theory) is that they probably didn't know it in the conscious human sense, but that they may have been able to sense it in that ill-defined animal sense. You know, the sense that tells people whether they're compatible by things like subliminal odors they're unaware of, or the sort of sense that causes women who are infused with regular amounts of sperm to mutually adjust their monthly cycles. Things scientists study but which we don't consciously understand, and for which we can get into serious trouble for discussing (assuming we belong to the educated and civilized classes of people whose civilized colleagues go ape over discussions of things that make trashy people go ape.)

What if there were subliminal pheromonal issues at work?

If such things can trigger violence, is it necessarily hate? Or does hate have to be a civilized and conscious decision? Do such distinctions matter? 

I think what happened is simply violent criminal behavior, and people who do things like that should be punished severely, whether they do it out of conscious hate or unconscious animal instinct. I'd like to think that's what laws are for.

Once we start rating crime according to their level of "hate" we end up giving the non-haters a pass.

* Actually, Trotsky didn't say it about war; he said it about the dialectic! Same difference.

I may not be interested in the Culture War, but the Culture War is interested in me?

Nah, I shouldn't be taken in by such solipsistic drivel. I must resolve to valiantly continue to hide my head in the sand and hope it goes away.

posted by Eric at 11:45 AM | Comments (2)

Has your pain been examined by a moralist?

What is pain, and why is it considered a question of morality in the minds of so many people?

To most linear, logical thinkers (and engineering types like my esteemed co-blogger M. Simon) the question will seem ridiculous, as it strikes such people as self-apparent that pain has nothing to do with morality. Pain is neither moral nor immoral; it just is. It is a condition of life that comes and goes depending on illness, stimuli, and the individual psychology of whoever experiences pain. A person either has pain or he does not. Pain varies from person to person, of course, and some people will experience more pain from the same illness or injury than others. Some people are more stoic than others; one man may demand pain meds for lower back pain, while another might endure amputation without complaint. Does the ability to endure pain touch on morality? How would that be evaluated? By setting up a graph with two axes showing who complains the loudest on one axis and the degree of pain on the other? How can degrees of pain be measured objectively? It is beyond dispute that some people are weaker than others and more likely to complain, but at the same time it is also beyond dispute that pain thresholds vary greatly. So if two different people experience identical stimuli, one may feel it while the other does not. Because of this natural variation, what we would call "stoicism" in the face of pain would not be the same thing for all people. In order for pain to be "endured stoically," pain must first be felt. A man who feels no pain from something cannot be called a stoic in the face of what he does not feel. And if we assume stoicism in the face of pain constitutes moral superiority, the insensible man therefore cannot be more "moral" than someone who hurts.

I was reminded of this earlier when I briefly turned on the TV to see a documentary on crucifixion in what was obviously someone's idea of Easter programming. In a fascinating medical experiment, healthy young male volunteers were suspended from a cross (without nailing, of course) while doctors carefully monitored their vital signs until they finally said they'd had enough and demanded to be let down. Even without nailing, the pain of crucifixion eventually becomes unendurable, and because of a combination of physiological processes (slow asphyxiation and stress to the heart), if someone were suspended long enough, he would die.

Whether with or without the near-fatal scourging and the driving of nails through hands and feet associated with the death of Jesus, crucifixion as developed by the Romans was intended as the ultimate pain experience. The slowest possible death coupled with the maximum amount of pain. As the documentary pointed out, the driving of nails would hasten death, while tying the victim alone would prolong it. Jesus's death was unusual for its shortness of duration; crucifixion often took days, sometimes as long as a week. And if the "gall" Jesus refused was in fact poison as is argued here, that provides more evidence that the Romans wanted his death accelerated, and that Jesus was bravely stoic. (Something the Romans would have admired.)    

It was hard to watch a documentary like that without having it cross my mind that pain -- and the endurance of it -- might just have a historical and even religious connection with morality.

This is not an idle question, because if pain involves morality, then the relief of it becomes a moral issue. Many modern Americans would laugh at the Victorian doctors who refused to use anesthesia out of fear it would damage their patients' morality, but they grew up in a time when enduring pain was considered part of life, with weakness and virtue being defined accordingly. 

At the same time, it hadn't occurred to the moralists that the relief of pain was something that should be regulated by the government. 

Whether someone endured pain or sought relief for it was seen as a private matter. People could go to doctors if they wanted, or they could even walk right into pharmacies and buy powerful narcotics without prescription. It was not until the Progressive Era that this became a matter for the government with the 1914 passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act. Initially, it was entirely up to doctors to decide what to prescribe for their patients, but over time the government got into the business of looking over their shoulders, and constantly narrowing the medical grounds for pain relief -- to the point that today many doctors are afraid to prescribe narcotic pain killers lest they be investigated and prosecuted by the DEA. (Which means the war on drugs has become a war on pain relief.)

Interestingly, the war on drugs has led to patients in certain countries being allowed no pain relief at all.

...the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, together representing less than 20 per cent of the world's population, accounted for more than 95 per cent of the total morphine consumption in 2005.

This indicates a significant underconsumption of morphine affecting the remaining 80 per cent of the world's population, whose combined morphine consumption represented less than 5 per cent of the global total.

And despite the World Health Organisation's limited success in promoting poppy-based medicines for palliative care for cancer and HIV/Aids in emerging countries, the sheer enormity of the global pain crisis demands ongoing sustained action by the WHO, governments and international regulatory boards.

That sub-Saharan Africa, with a large percentage of the population in pain from AIDS and cancer, has almost no access to narcotic painkillers is itself a largely unreported international scandal which I think ought to be considered an outrage. The chief reason is the difficulty of imposing the same sort of controls over prescription and distribution which are required by the international drug police in western countries. The result is that Africans simply die in pain.

Additionally, the international drug enforcement machinery legally forces underconsuming countries to be locked into previously established patterns of underconsumption, thus preventing patients from ever getting more:

The International Narcotics Control Board which regulates opium supply throughout the world enforces the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs: this law provides that countries can only demand the raw poppy materials corresponding to the use of opium-based medicines over the last two years and thus limits countries who have low levels of prescription in terms of the amounts they can demand. As such, 77% of the world's opium supplies are being used by only six countries, leaving the rest of the world lacking in essential medicines such as morphine and codeine

Nice Catch-22, isn't it? The result is a wholly artificial shortage of legal drugs, with a hugely disproportionate effect on African countries.

Apparently, it is better to let dying Africans suffer than to allow the possibility of legal drugs being diverted to the street. The absurd result is that illegal drugs are the only drugs people in such countries can get.

Legal prescription drugs are only allowed in countries which can adequately police their distribution and use. Their "shortage" in African countries is not a result of simple market forces, but legal forces. Africans have a lot more pain than people in the west, but they have to suffer without medication, thanks to higher bureaucratic standards imposed by the West. Pain relief is only available for "nice" people.

At the root of it is something I think underlies the entire drug war -- an intractable debate over the morality of pain.

Here in Michigan, voters decided to legalize marijuana for medical reasons, and one was the relief of chronic pain. But now that the law has been in place long enough for statistics to come to light, the law is being hotly debated:

Advocates and opponents of medical marijuana had very different views of the first snapshot showing how patients and doctors are responding to Michigan's 2-year-old law permitting pot's use as a painkiller.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, who led the opposition to the voter-passed ballot proposal in 2008, said: "This is just what we predicted. It is totally out of control."

He responded when a reporter informed him that most certifications under the law were for chronic pain, not specific illnesses and that 55 doctors were writing most of the prescriptions in Michigan.

"We were told (medical marijuana) was designed to treat a very narrow set of ... chronic and severe illnesses," Schuette said, "and what's going on is that this poorly drafted law is being exploited by those who want to legalize marijuana or make money ... or by unscrupulous doctors."

Karen O'Keefe of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which helped draft the legislation that was overwhelmingly approved by voters, strongly disagreed.

Chronic and severe pain is a serious medical condition, one that results in millions of Americans seeking medical treatment and receiving prescription painkillers, O'Keefe said.

"It is absolutely unfair to suggest that severe pain is not a serious condition," she said.

The use of medical marijuana is seen by the opponents of medical marijuana as immoral, even to relieve pain. Either that or they don't believe that the patients are actually having pain. How is the legitimacy of patient pain to be evaluated? Is pain which can be relieved by marijuana more "immoral" and less legitimate (and therefore less "real")  than pain relieved by narcotic drugs? What is the moral difference between a pain patient who takes medically prescribed oxycontin and a patient using medical marijuana? If we assume that they're both having pain, I am unable to come up with a distinction. OTOH, if both are lying to their doctors to get access to the respective substances, I see no moral distinction there either. So, if marijuana patients are being seen by the opponents of medical marijuana as make false pain complaints to get marijuana, then why aren't oxycontin patients seen the same way?

I suspect that they are; hence the new laws establishing prescription drug databases and allowing authorities to rifle through them. Fortunately for the marijuana patients, Michigan's medical marijuana law guarantees patient confidentiality. Fair or not, regular pain patients lack any such privacy. It must just gall those in drug law enforcement to see such a loophole, because if having pain that needs relief means being in a suspect category, all suspects should be treated as suspects! 

But who should get to decide whose pain is legitimate, and whose is not?

Gone are the days when it was a matter between a patient and his doctor.

posted by Eric at 02:54 PM | Comments (11)

Pitbull saves the day!

This link was forwarded to me by a literary-agent-friend.  Is this one of Coco's relatives?

(Thank you to Michael Kabongo of the Onyxhawke agency!)

posted by Sarah at 11:47 PM | Comments (2)

Marines Just Wanna Have Fun

I found this funny and kinda sweet.

The Few, The Proud, the Britney Spears Fans in the Marines!

posted by Sarah at 11:23 PM | Comments (5)

Your tax dollars at "work"

Back in November, I lamented that this sort of thing would be happening more and more:

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

Homeland Security agents arrested the TSA officer March 24, and he is being held without bail.

Although the case was unsealed Thursday, neither the indictment nor the news release mentioned Gordon's job searching airline passengers for TSA.

Typical. When you offer to pay people to do what they most want to do, they will line up to take the jobs. If the government offered to hire people to put Jews in ovens, rest assured that there would be applicants.

posted by Eric at 12:21 PM | Comments (4)

Fukushima 23 April 2011

Yes. It has been a few days since my last update. The news from nuclear Japan is just so depressing. So let me have at it in no particular order.

Evacuation Zone Widened

The government on Friday added some towns outside a 20-kilometer radius of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the list of areas covered by its evacuation directive due to concerns over high cumulative levels of radiation exposure.
The US Government has suggested an 80 Km exclusion zone for its citizens. But they have some where to go.

From the "it's about time" department.

The science ministry said Friday it will compile maps showing the extent of air and soil contamination as part of government efforts to enhance the monitoring of radiation levels and reevaluate evacuation zones around the crippled nuclear plant.
What is most worry some in these situations is the lack of timely trustworthy information. Like not updating the maps they do have.

International Agencies are also complaining that the data is sparse.

The chairperson of the International Commission on Radiological Protection says more checks are needed to measure radiation in the Fukushima area.

Claire Cousins told NHK that the Japanese government's decision to raise the permissible level of radiation from one millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year is in line with the levels set by the commission when dealing with emergency situations.

She said it is difficult to predict when people will be able to return to the evacuation zone, but suggested it may be a considerable length of time.

She said the area will need to be monitored to determine when it will be safe for people to live there again.

The old keep hope alive trick. In other news a no entry zone has been established around Fukushima. Just in case anyone was thinking of going home early.
A no-entry zone has been imposed for the area within 20 kilometers of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

At midnight on Thursday, the off-limits zone was set up in 9 municipalities around the plant in line with a law governing disasters.

Authorities set up 75 checkpoints on the roads leading to the areas within the zone.

On Thursday night, before the no-entry zone was established, local residents were seen moving out of the zone in cars after being allowed to return temporarily to collect things left behind.

It will be decades at the soonest.

Radiation Safety Philippines has a nice roundup. Here are some of the links I found interesting.

Fukushima Fallout Detected In Korea

Fukushima nuke workers at risk of depression, overwork death. And that is not all. Evidently worker safety is not high on the list of priorities. But I'll get to that in a bit.

Invisible Deaths At Evacuation Centers

Sai kept eating and responding to her son even after she became unable to move. But she died 20 days after the disaster struck.

Her doctor listed the cause of death as disease.

Sai's case is one of the growing number of "invisible" deaths among evacuees who have died after developing illnesses or seeing their pre-existing conditions worsen following the quake.

But since they are not officially listed as disaster-related deaths, their surviving family members are ineligible for condolence money from the government.

As of April 18, only four evacuee deaths were certified as disaster-related in the stricken Tohoku region--three in Miyagi Prefecture and one in Fukushima Prefecture. They included one death in an aftershock.

No doubt there are similar events taking place due to the Fukushima evacuation zone. Disruptions cause death and not all of those deaths will be attributed to the disruption.

Heat stroke is affecting plant workers who are wearing suits in non air-conditioned areas.

There are more links at "Radiation Safety". Supposing that you are insufficiently depressed.

Continuity will become a challenge, and core Fukushima staff may have to be cycled out soon to due dose limit considerations

The Japanese have advanced managerial and human resource management techniques for dealing with such eventualities. They are planning to double the human body's ability to handle radiation exposure after all ready increasing it by a factor of 5 over US standards.

In order to stabilize the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the government is planning to raise the radiation exposure limit for the workers from the current 250 milli-sievert/year.

The radiation exposure limit for workers at nuclear power plants is 100 milli-sievert/year, but the limit has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year to deal with the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. According to the government sources, the higher limit is being considered because it is getting increasingly difficult to have enough workers to work on the plant. Also, the radiation inside the Reactor buildings is high, and the annual limit of 250 milli-sieverts may not be high enough to achieve the goals laid out by the TEPCO road map.

The international standard allows 500 milli-sievert/year in an emergency work, but it hasn't been decided how high the new limit will be. The government will carefully assess the timing of announcement, keeping in consideration the health concerns of the workers and the public opinion.

The work at the [Fukuhsima I] nuclear power plant requires skills and experience under harsh conditions, and securing workers has been a problem.

"Manage the news? Why of course not. We are just taking the views of the public into consideration. Isn't that how you do it in the US?" Afraid so pardner. Afraid so.

In the article "Doctor warns Japan nuke workers are at their limit". An excerpt from the article.

"Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant operator, said 245 workers from the company and affiliated companies were stationed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant Wednesday. Soldiers, firefighters and police officers also were at the site."

"The nuclear workers have been toiling around the clock to stabilize the plant. Tanigawa said they get little rest, no baths or fresh food and are under the constant threat of exposure to radiation, which remains so high in many places that robots are being used to take measurements."

There was a funny bit on how snoring causes lack of sleep (no ear plugs on site?). And the not so funny part of the story: tired men make more mistakes. I think that can officially be considered "not a good thing".
"The workers, most of them middle-aged men, suffer insomnia and show signs of dehydration and high blood pressure, he said. One had gout. Tanigawa said he is concerned they may develop depression or heart problems."

"Tanigawa said the mental stress of the job is deepened by the fear of radiation exposure, the concerns of their loved ones -- many don't want the men to stay on at the plant -- and the fact that many of the workers themselves lost homes or family in the tsunami."

Radiation is a crap shoot. If in a given area there are say 100,000 radiation induced cancers a year from natural back ground radiation and an accident increases that to 110,000 radiation induced cancers a year (that differentiation is probably near the limit of detection). Every single one of those 110,000 will be sure that he would have lived longer were it not for the accident. Which is why acceptable doses must be kept so small. With one or ten excess deaths a year in that population those few are lost in the noise. Which is how it should be.

Some people are of the opinion that insufficient attention has been given to nuclear safety.

The two recent natural calamities that hit Japan -- the massive earthquake of 11th March and the subsequent tsunami -- not only resulted in massive loss of life and property damage but also resulted in the unfolding of the subsequent drama at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that is still to be satisfactorily resolved.

The loss of emergency diesel power resulting in a loss of coolant at the plant, a partial meltdown of the fuel in the reactors there and the radioactive leakage from the site to the neighboring prefectures have all not only resulted in anxiety over the suitability of nuclear power in Japan but also cast a shadow over the global expectation of a nuclear renaissance.

Not unnaturally, in India, where there is a program of vigorous expansion of nuclear energy generation, this has resulted in some doubts over the wisdom of relying on nuclear power to solve national energy demands.

Before analyzing the safety and reliability of nuclear power, it is necessary to pause and examine what really happened and did not happen at Fukushima.

Notwithstanding the severity of the earthquake and the age of the reactor, nearing its nominal lifetime, there was no structural damage to the reactor installation as a result of either the earthquake or the tsunami.

The damage was all functional. Which is small comfort. What does it mean for the future? We can design reactors to withstand very severe events. What is lacking is a cooling mechanism that doesn't require electrical power. It is possible to design and build such a system. It is the only kind we should be building from her on out. I like to call it intrinsic safety. We need to get some.

Some on the citizens of Japan are mad as hell.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. will have to delay the restart of two nuclear reactors currently undergoing regular checks at its Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture beyond May due to a lack of consent from the local community, the prefectural assembly chief said Friday.
In the US we would sic a zoning board on them. TEPCO has a similar problem.

Losses mount due to radiation radiation leakage.

A government panel agreed Friday to recognize financial losses caused by restrictions on shipments of farm products as damages from radiation leakages at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power complex, government officials said Friday.
You think that is bad? The Japanese Government thinks a study of drinking water is in order. The government thinks a breast check is in order as well.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday he has urged the health ministry to investigate whether women's breast milk has been affected by radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Now I have a commenter who is always complaining that I am overestimating the dangers of radiation. Let me just say here and now that I would be willing to give those breasts a taste test to make sure radiation hasn't affected the flavor. It is all about risk vs reward. To make that ratio work out for me I will only be testing C pluses and larger. With a stop limit at E plus. OK I'm picky. But you know how it goes. My risk - my reward. Free to choose. At this time I'd probably be more in danger from irate husbands than radiation in the milk. But still. And I could fix the radiation in the milk problem rather easily. Only test non-lactating women. But that might raise suspicions.

Well some one has done the proper test and the results are not looking good.

Breast milk from a woman in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo tests at 36.3 Becquerel

Something is officially wrong with Japan's official radiation numbers

Here's the deal: They tested a 120-130 milliliter sample of breast milk from this woman and discovered an amount of I-131 that is equivalent to a 36.3 Bq per kilogram concentration.

The safety limit is 100 becquerels per kg for tap water consumption by infants under 1 year old, but that is besides the point - if we evaluate the official I-131 readings in water from, officials will be hard pressed in explaining how she accumulated even this amount in her breast milk.

The site has the numbers.

What we are seeing is radiation hot spots. The question is where? Some where in the food chain? Somewhere local? Where you work? Hiding the decline will have short term benefits and long term losses. So it goes.

Japan Summer weather is nigh, and here's the change we can expect in wind direction. Inland then off to China (so to speak). The guy writing the article thinks that there will be no major problems if there are no major problems. Otherwise the opposite is true. Prediction is difficult. Especially about the future. Nice maps and graphics.

For the first time

Radiation levels of over 100 microsieverts per hour were measured at four locations 2 to 3 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from late last month, the science ministry said Thursday as it released such data for the first time.
Month old data is just getting out? Maybe the latest numbers are getting better? I would expect so providing we don't get a recriticality accident. Or an earthquake directly below the plants of sufficient magnitude given the current status of the plants. You know. Enough to stir the rubble.

This is the Joke Of The Day.

The Japanese government has expressed concern about the structural strength of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant's Number 1 reactor. It says the ongoing water injections may be making the vessel less earthquake resistant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is planning to fill part of the containment vessel with water to cool the reactor.

TEPCO wants the water level to reach the top of the fuel rods in reactors one and three by mid July, so it can cool them under more stable conditions.

At the Number 1 reactor, where fuel rods are believed to be the most seriously damaged, six tons of water are being injected every hour.

TEPCO believes the water is vaporizing, then condensing in the containment vessel.

Let me get this straight. They are pumping 6 tons of water an hour (about 1,500 gallons an hour - 36,000 gallons a day) into the reactor vessel. Then the water condenses. And goes where? Re-evaporation and recondensation? Well it could be venting. Or it could be filling the lower levels of the plant. Or just trickling out to sea. Six tons an hour is going into the reactor vessel. It is coming out somewhere.

Robot video inside reactor buildings 2 & 3. More Robot Videos.

Isotope Data Suggests Ongoing Criticality in the junk piles.

During full-power operation, numerous "fission products" are in approximate steady-state equilibrium, meaning roughly equal becquerel of I-131 and Cs-134, with a slow buildup of Cs-137. But they all cease to be created when the reactors are scrammed. Japanese regulators NISA and MEXT seem oblivious of the mysterious fact that I-131 Bq "reactor density" is still often reported double the Cs-134/137 Bq. The TEPCO data suggest that fission is ongoing despite the reactor shutdowns. This is bad news.
Yes it is. H/T on the above link to Philippines Radiation Safety.

Isotope ratios in radioactive leaked water.

I've had enough. The most worrisome of these reports is the indication of ongoing criticality. If that is in fact happening (another month should give us definitive results) this accident will not be over any time soon. As in years to decades.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

By mutual agreement, the two crookedest states are the two newest states!

A long, and quite well-researched piece at leftie thoroughly debunks Trig Trutherism for all the left-of-center world to see.

Not that this nonsense ever needed debunking in the minds of reasonable, sane, or rational people. The problem is that these theories are more emotion driven than fact driven, and debunking them with rational arguments or resort to facts is futile with those who simply want to believe what they want to believe. I was amused to see the Salon author acknowledge something I discussed earlier this week: the uncanny similarity between Trig Trutherism and Obama Birtherism.

Sullivan's refrain on this issue is that he does not endorse any conspiracy theory, he is merely asking questions. He simply wants Palin "to debunk this for once and for all, with simple, readily available medical records." He has proposed, for example, the release of "amniocentesis results with Sarah Palin's name on them."

It's worth noting that this posture is identical to the rhetoric used by Obama birthers (for instance, WorldNetDaily Birther czar Joseph Farah employs the "just asking for definitive piece of proof x" line here).

But the larger point is that continuously demanding more "proof" on an issue about which there is already overwhelming evidence is either irrational or disingenuous. And why would a piece of paper with amniocentesis results and Sarah Palin's name be more dispositive than the doctor's many statements and the testimony of all of the reporters who saw Palin pregnant? If you already believe everyone is lying and everything is a hoax, it wouldn't.

The Salon author (Justin Elliott) acknowledges that no form of proof will ever satisfy a conspiracy theorist who wants his theory to be true. So debunking these things tends to be a waste of time, at least with them.

It is also a tedious and boring exercise, because these theories are meant to be entertaining, and debunking them can come across as humorless and nerdy. Like a killjoy who points out that Santa Claus doesn't exist, or that circus magician has a hidden compartment or something. People who want to be entertained don't want their entertainment ruined, and the fact is that the Palin haters love Trig Trutherism, facts be damned. 

When the state of Alaska says Trig is her baby, they lie, every bit as much as Hawaii is lying when they say Obama was born there!

I never thought about it before, but it almost seems that there is common agreement between the far left and the far right that the two most recently admitted states cannot be trusted to keep vital statistics.

I should probably be glad my official "Certification of Birth" says I was born in stodgy old Pennsylvania, because I really can't remember all the details and all the people who were allegedly there are dead. What a dreary task it would be for me to have to debunk my natural born birtherism.

posted by Eric at 10:51 AM

Yet another new name to airbrush out those awful libertarians

In what is intended as a scary headline, the left wing People for the American Way proclaims that "the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection."

I see that as a classic example of coalition politics. In the name of environmental protection, some of the remaining vestiges of freedom are being destroyed. So, go coalition!

Except, because I am not in the "Religious Right" part of the coalition, I naturally found myself wondering... whatever can they mean with the phrase "Corporate Right"? What precisely is that? I read on, and found the demons of the "Corporate Right" prominently listed:

....the Acton Institute, which is primarily funded by groups like ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations and the Koch brothers. Beisner is also an adviser to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is financed by the oil-backed Earthart Foundation, the Koch brothers, and ExxonMobil.


....the Heartland Institute, a pro-corporate group funded by Exxon Mobil, the Koch Family Foundations, and the Scaife foundations. Other organizations funded by energy corporations that cosponsored the conference include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity.


Corporations and their front groups are increasingly using this rhetoric as well. For example, the pro-corporate American Action Network ran campaign ads featuring a senior citizen suffering through cold winter nights, claiming that the American Clean Energy and Security Act would make energy unaffordable and devastate the economy. Peggy Venable, the Texas state director of the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, claimed that "the Global Warming hoax is imperialism allowing a vehicle for environmentalists to dictate the way of life for us all - and is most harmful for third world countries where children often don't see their fifth birthday."

So it's Koch, Koch, Koch! I guess they think that if they use that name enough in a negative context, it will become the leftie equivalent of "SOROS!" (Much as Soros sucks, an unfortunate reality is that the name "Soros" just does not readily lend itself to this sort of ridicule.)

What's interesting to me as a libertarian is that not only are the Koch brothers libertarians, but nowhere in the entire PAW piece does the l-word appear.

Surely they aren't trying to make libertarians disappear by making up a new, more evil sounding word for them. Why can't they just use the old and familiar "hedonist" as an anti-libertarian smear?

While I don't mind all that much having to be on the Corporate Right, do I really have to be? No corporation pays me to write this blog, and I don't have a corporation to call my own. To steal a line from Robert Duvall, "I'm a man without a corporation!"

So how can I ever hope to succeed as a member of the Corporate Right? 

And why aren't they saying anything about the Corporate Left? It isn't as if fat cats like billionaire Soros and union buster Michael Moore don't have corporations, you know....

posted by Eric at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)

Privacy War? Or war on the Fourth Amendment?

Earlier I wrote a post about the Michigan State Police searching cell phones with intrusive scanning devices.

In a Popular Mechanics piece, Glenn Reynolds warns that "it's the bigger picture that's truly worrisome":

The combination of smartphones loaded with data about you and law enforcement devices that can easily extract that information means that a privacy war is looming.


What happens if police gain access to all this information through your phone? Courts are only beginning to grapple with this. Take the question of location tracking: One federal magistrate has held that the government must have a warrant even to obtain cellphone tracking information from a cellular carrier. The cellphone system routinely logs which cell towers contact your phone as you travel about, and that data provides a pretty good map of your whereabouts. It's a good enough map, the court decided, that police shouldn't be able to access it without a warrant. Likewise, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled that installing a GPS tracker in your car requires a warrant. However, other cases have held that putting GPS tracking devices on suspects' cars doesn't require a warrant--the argument is that whenever you drive your car, you're in public view, and thus have no expectation of privacy regarding your whereabouts, so you're not harmed by the tracking. (I feel certain, however, that if I went down to the nearest federal motor pool and installed GPS trackers on their vehicles, they'd take a different view.)

Experts have been warning of privacy threats for years, and for the most part the public has yawned. But the combination of devices that gather all sorts of information about you and law-enforcement agencies wanting to snoop on it has put us into a whole new ballgame.

It might be a new ballgame in terms of technology. But there is nothing new about the Fourth Amendment. It was intended precisely to stop this sort of governmental abuse, and it is high time we returned to that original intent

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As Glenn points out, today's smart phones contain "a lot more information about you than your emails and the numbers in your address book."

Your phone knows where you've been and what you've done. Consider the recent revelations that Apple iPhones actually maintain an internal file of the user's locations, one that is copied to the user's computer when the phone is synchronized to iTunes. These phones may store as much as a year's worth of location data--data that could be snooped by law enforcement, creditors, jealous spouses, or-- more troubling, and probably more likely--hackers, malware operators and stalkers.

The invasions of privacy that the founders intended us to protect us against were much less egregious than that, so you'd think the Fourth Amendment would have been strengthened accordingly. Yet as Professor Thomas Y. Davies demonstrates here, the courts have systematically weakened it.

So, instead of enjoying the privacy afforded by the traditional common law doctrine that the founders intended, we face routine SWAT Team raids and an all new war on privacy.

I hate repeating myself, but once again, there has been a massive failure to impart basic civics, from the top down.

posted by Eric at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)

"Jurassic President"

Yes, we are being tyrannized by a blundering but very dangerous Obamasaurus Rex who is "flailing around in a world in which he doesn't fit."

Fortunately, Sarah has documented the habits of this beast in great post at Pajamas Media.

Don't miss "Jurassic President." 

It's wonderful. We are very proud of Sarah.

posted by Eric at 07:05 PM | Comments (4)

How free is free?

For the last couple of days, the fight over Terry Jones (the Koran-burning minister) and his efforts to hold a rally in front of a Dearborn mosque have occupied the front pages of the Detroit Free Press.

As a First Amendment literalist, I see this as a simple matter of free speech. Jones has every right to go there and say anything he wants, and he has the right to burn a Koran right there in front of the mosque as long as he is on a public street. Similarly, the Ku Klux Klan has a right to hold a rally in Detroit. 

The First Amendment does not contain exceptions for irritating, offensive, or inflammatory speech. Period.

Of course, there is the interesting question of who pays. The legal wrangling in Dearborn involves not only the attempt to stop Jones from speaking in front of the Islamic Center (which I think is dead wrong), but whether he can be required to pay $46,000 in security costs for being allowed to speak at all:

A battle over free speech played out Thursday in Dearborn as Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones arrived in metro Detroit to make his bid to protest today in front of the largest mosque in Dearborn. And questions remained as to whether the pastor would be able to carry out his plan.

Dearborn officials and Wayne County prosecutors sought to convince Jones to post a bond for security costs if he wants to protest in Dearborn. And they urged him to rally not at the Islamic Center of America -- his desired spot -- but instead in front of their City Hall or civic center.

With his courtroom packed with police and reporters, Dearborn District Judge Mark Somers sided with government officials, finding their arguments compelling. The officials argued that for logistical and security reasons, Jones should not be allowed to rally at the Islamic center.

Jones declined to post the bond, prompting the judge to order a jury trial for 8:30 a.m. today that will decide whether Jones has to pay to hold his rally this evening. Dearborn police say they would have to pay an extra $46,000 in security for the protest.

OK, right there I see a problem. Requiring a large sum of money as a precondition of free speech constitutes a flagrant violation of the First Amendment. 

I'm glad to see that the ACLU is supporting Jones:

Earlier Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and others criticized authorities, saying they were wrongly denying Jones his constitutional rights.

The government should "not impinge on a person's right to protest, even when their speech is as distasteful and offensive as Rev. Jones' is," said Rana Elmir, communications director for the Michigan ACLU. "We should combat hate speech with more speech."

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad said there are serious problems with having Jones protest outside the Islamic Center, noting that Jones has received numerous death threats and has a $1.2-million bounty on his head from a Pakistan-based terrorist group.

Moreover, the mosque is surrounded by several churches that have Good Friday services, making traffic an issue, he argued. The site also is logistically a challenge because of a lack of pedestrian and vehicle access, he said.

The city already has denied Jones a permit to protest -- a decision that might have to be revisited today after the trial.

"It would have been chaos," Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. said Thursday.

There's no denying that there might be chaos. So what? There would probably be chaos if the Nazis or the Klan were to hold a rally, but that has nothing to do with free speech.

Where tends to confuse people is the security cost. The government has a duty to protect the public, and whether they can do their job properly or not is an issue independent of the First Amendment. Isn't the talk about the cost of security mixing apples and oranges?

When he discussed Koran burning recently, Glenn Reynolds described his sentiments as in line with Cohen v. California.

From the Wiki entry:

On April 26, 1968, Paul Robert Cohen, 19, was arrested for wearing a jacket bearing the words "Fuck the Draft" inside the Los Angeles Courthouse. Inside the court room he had the jacket folded over his arm, only after exiting the room he put the jacket on and was then arrested. He was convicted of violating section 415 of the California Penal Code, which prohibited "maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person [by] offensive conduct."

The Supreme Court held as follows:

"[A]bsent a more particularized and compelling reason for its actions," it said, "the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display of this single four-letter expletive a criminal offense."[1] In his opinion Justice Harlan famously wrote "one man's vulgarity is another's lyric."[2]

Let's suppose that the "FUCK THE DRAFT" jacket had outraged patriotic citizens enough for them to have violently assaulted Cohen. The police would have had a duty to protect him, just as they would any other citizen who was engaged in legal, constitutionally protected conduct. The level of emotions that might be raised is irrelevant. Even if someone wore a t-shirt with the n-word, or a slogan like "SUPPORT NAMBLA," the police would still have to protect them from violent assault the same way they would anyone else. They have no right to evaluate the inflammatory nature of the message, and bill people in advance for the privilege of displaying it, because that would be inconsistent with the First Amendment.

So, I see no way they can constitutionally demand a security bond from Terry Jones.

Absolutist that I am, the First Amendment is silent about who has to pay the somtimes high cost of inflammatory speakers.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

While requiring the payment of a bond would abridge freedom of speech, what about doing absolutely nothing to protect the speaker and/or the public? Suppose a bankrupt city like Detroitwas faced with an impending Klan rally. Could they just tell the Klan that the police would do nothing and that the rally would be at the Klan's and the public's own risk? Or do they have to guarantee safety for all, no matter what the cost?

While the First Amendment is silent as to cost, could a case be made that refusing to police an event would constitute an abridgement of speech? 

I don't know the answer, but I am curious.

Having your city visited by guys like Terry Jones and Fred Phelps can get expensive, especially in these days of budgetary woes.

Taking a broad general view, though, I think it is fair to point out that Dearborn has been all but asking for a visit from Jones.

And what would Henry Ford say? The town he founded is no stranger to inflammatory rhetoric; thanks to Ford's tract being a best-seller in the Mideast, Dearborn is known around the world.  

Free speech has many facets.

MORE: The latest news is an outrage. In a mockery of the First Amendment,  Dearborn jury has "ruled" that allowing the rally would "breach the peace":

A judge late today sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond. After a short time in jail they left on $1 bond each.

The stunning developments came after a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

Prosecutors asked Judge Mark Somers for $45,000 bond. Somers then set
bond at $1 each for the two pastors. They refused to pay. And Somers ordered them remanded to jail.

Chaos broke out outside court as opposing factions yelled at each other. Jones and Sapp were led out of court by Dearborn police. That left Jones' supporters stunned, given that he hadn't even attempted to go to the mosque yet.

According to the Wayne County prosecutor's office, both Jones and Sapp are prohibited by the court from going to the mosque or adjacent property for three years.

This is not the sort of thing that is up to a jury. The jury simply decided -- based on their perception of the content of the speech -- that it should not be allowed.

We have the First Amendment to prevent such injustices. It is not for a jury to decide what sort of speech is acceptable in America.

The morons are acting as if the whole point is Terry Jones and what he says.

Who he is and what he says has nothing to do with it.


It's bad day for free speech in America, but I predict this will be overturned in a higher court.

I don't know why people keep confusing the right to free speech with whether the speech in question is right, but they do.

The case reflects a huge failure to impart basic civics in this country.

MORE: Eugene Volokh calls the decision "a pretty clear violation of the would-be demonstrators' First Amendment rights" and predicts it will be overturned.

posted by Eric at 11:36 AM | Comments (5)

Will blogging about the problem make it go away?

I like to kid around and slough the feeling off with humor in posts like these, but I have a serious (at least, to the extent it is possible for me to ever be really serious) confession to make.

I'm feeling so burned out by politics that I am genuinely worried.

It is too far away from "the" election to be feeling this way. I cannot remember a time in my life that I was so burned out and literally drained during what should normally be a political off time.

Am I alone?

When I attempted to google the feeling, I found evidence that I wasn't:

After a LOT of thought about political matters lately (see my GD threads), I've decided (again) I've had enough. I've already deleted at least one blog from my Firefox address bar, and may do it to more. And this a blog of MY general political bent!

It's just stress I don't need or want. I know it's important stuff, but the steady drumbeat is just wearing me down.

Y'know, as I'm thinking about this, I have a feeling I'm not alone on this, and may answer a question I've wondered about whether and how much partisan blogs accurately reflect the general voter thought and mood on their side of the aisle. If they don't, it's because of moments like mine all across the country. Or else, they never have that moment because they don't bother with the subject to begin with...

No idea who wrote that, or whether he or she is on the right or the left.

But the election cycles in this country have become so seamlessly endless that we are always in the middle of elections. And the ever-louder political drumbeats take their toll. Day after day, year after year, whether I agree or not, whether I pay attention or not, and whether I am burned out or not.

Perhaps the only escape is the certain knowledge that eventually I won't hear them.

What would be a neat trick would be if I could figure out how to use this blog to conquer the problem, because after writing daily posts for nearly eight years it sometimes feels as if blogging about politics might exacerbate the political burnout problem.

There is that old saying that the first step in dealing with a problem is by admitting you have one. (In the case of political blogging, maybe I have two....)

Hence the post.

UPDATE: Via an email, I just got an image I find utterly inspiring:


Why not? It works for Coco...

AND MORE: Some beautiful white-petaled flowers sprang open just today in my backyard alongside the blue ones that have been open for a week or so:


At first I thought they were daisies, but after noticing that the flowers only have eight petals (daisies have many more than that), I googled white flower with eight petals and looked at pictures until I found an exact match

They are bloodroot flowers:

Bloodroot is a perennial wildflower that's native to the eastern woodlands of North America. Its name is derived from the thick, red sap that leaks from the rhizome when cut.

The sap, btw, is said to have medicinal and magical properties.

No word on whether it has political properties, but the FDA seems to frown on its unsupervised use.

Let it bloom, I say.

There will be bloodroot!

posted by Eric at 12:13 PM | Comments (9)

Perplexing persistence of pusillanimous prooferism

Yesterday I lamented my plight over what feels like an obligation to blog about the real issues (whatever they are) in the election ahead.

Well, today I thought I would steel myself, buckle down, and attempt to come to terms with the truth involving one of the most serious issues in the election. An issue said by many to rise to the level of being a "real" issue!

I refer to the "truth" about the circumstances of the birth of Trig Palin.

I have long thought that Trig Palin birtherism was created largely in retaliation for Obama birtherism, and this long and obsessive piece I read earlier (by an author plugging his book titled "The Lies of Sarah Palin") confirms that the Trig Truthers are indeed trying to inject new heat into Trig Birtherism. I suspect that may be in anticipation of the WorldNetDaily Obama Birther book that's coming out. One Truther book deserves another, right?

Other than the fact that it was recently Trig Palin's birthday, the Trig Truthers have nothing new to report, and the author of the new book does little more than cite vintage Andrew Sullivan and give everyone else who isn't demanding "proof" a sound scolding:

There is one person who can put an end to the Trig matter immediately and instantly, and that is Sarah Palin. Before she takes another step in what has been a hapless bid to position herself for a run for the presidency, the American media should demand that Palin produce full and conclusive evidence of Trig's birth and parentage. It's that simple.

No, it really isn't, no more than it would be "that simple" for Obama to dig up the hospital records that are being demanded by the Obama Birthers.  Because, like the Obama Birthers (whose secondary position is that Obama is constitutionally ineligible even if he was born in Hawaii), the Trig Birthers also have a lawyerlike fallback position.

Even if Trig is Sarah Palin's baby, she was "reckless" in hurrying from Texas to Alaska for the delivery.

Once that step is taken, then the American media needs to break its "spiral of silence" about Palin's "wild ride" from Texas to Alaska and to demand direct answers from her about the decisions she made, the actions she took and what motivated her to do so. Anyone who examines Palin's own story closely will come to no other conclusion that she was "reckless beyond measure"--as Andrew Sullivan so succinctly put it--and entirely unqualified to hold higher office in these challenging and demanding times.

This "wild ride" was said to have "put her infant and herself at risk" and "potentially put all passengers and staff on the two flights at risk as well."

Huh? Babies being born are dangerous to other people? That's a new one on me. I think if I saw a woman going into labor on a plane I might offer to help out, but I cannot imagine how my safety would be endangered in any way -- any more than it would be if I saw a woman giving birth on a bus. Seriously, what's the danger? Am I supposed to have a heart attack or something?

It is important to note that the "wild ride" is what lawyers call "arguing in the alternative" because if Trig was not Sarah Palin's baby, then she wasn't pregnant on the plane and obviously there could not have been any "wild ride" that recklessly endangered other passengers. So unless they're smoking so much dope that they believe she was endangering passengers with a phony full-term pregnancy involving a baby that wasn't there, it's only a fallback position -- of value only if Trig's birth becomes "authenticated."

As to constitutional issues, I can find nothing in the constitution about the ineligibility of presidential candidates who hurried (on a "wild ride" or not) from one state to another to have a baby. But I admit, I read the Constitution literally. There might be an implied pregnancy clause in there somewhere. Perhaps readers can enlighten me.

There's another minor point which has me confused about this whole thing.

So far as I know, Trig Palin is not a candidate for president, right? So, even if Sarah Palin were to do as her critics demand and supply a detailed birth certificate for him along with independent DNA evidence that she is his mom (I guess that's what they want), not only would that settle nothing, but it would be constitutionally irrelevant. Even if Trig turned out to be a Russian changeling born to Sarah Palin's neighbors and tossed over the fence from Russia into her Alaska yard from which she is known to have waved to them, that has nothing to do with the constitutional eligibility of anyone in the race.

Silly as I think they are, at least the Obama Birthers are talking about things that would be constitutionally relevant if they were true. They claim that he wasn't born in Hawaii even though Hawaii says he was, and that in the alternative even if he was, he still wasn't a natural born citizen because his father was not a citizen. However unfounded these arguments are, they are at least theoretically grounded in a constitutional provision requiring candidates to be born in this country. Unfortunately for the Obama Birthers, the Constitution makes no mention of birth certificates (much less types of birth certificates), and states have the sovereign right to keep vital statistics certifying who was born in them in whatever way they please. As these records constitute prima facie evidence of what they say, proving their falsity is nearly impossible in the legal arena, which leaves only the arena of conspiracy theory politics. If the latter approach works, and the majority of the voting public comes to disbelieve the State of Hawaii, then maybe Obama will decide to produce additional corroborating evidence of his birth, and as I have argued ad nauseam, it is in his interest to bait the birthers and drag this conspiracy theory drama out as long as possible, thereby avoiding substantive issues.

Not that there's anything wrong with an entertaining conspiracy theory, so once again folks, what about the Obama girls? Has their parentage been verified? Has anyone seen their birth certificates and tested their DNA? Does anyone know whether Michelle Obama had any wild rides?

Considering that the grandaddy of Trig Trutherdom Andrew Sullivan famously called the birth of Trig Palin "one of the biggest frauds in American political history," (my apologies again for letting him take over the blog) how do we know that the Obamas didn't get away with perpetrating at least two similar frauds?

The Obamas could easily clear this up.

Anyway, at the rate things are going, all births will be suspect. What's next? Maybe non-births?

I'm glad I'm not running for office. Otherwise, how could I ever hope to prove that I was born where my lame Pennsylvania "certification of birth" says I was?

For that matter, how could I ever hope to prove that I never had an abortion?

By wearing the t-shirt?

posted by Eric at 10:56 AM | Comments (4)

Buy Fruit Win Laptop

The first mate bought me a box of Fruit Roll-Ups™ the other day which is how I learned that General Mills is running a promotion that is giving laptops to kids without cash in places like Haiti.

Helping to educate

In 2010, Fruit Snacks partnered with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide educational opportunities to the world's poorest children.

I did a couple of posts on them a while back: One Laptop Per Child In Haiti and Smart Idea.

You can get more information on the promotion at

The official rules say they are giving away 2001 laptops. I assume this also means that an equal number will be donated to poor kids. But they are not specific about that in the rules.

And of course Amazon will sell you Fruit Roll-Ups™:

Fruit Roll-Ups Fruit Flavored Snacks, Strawberry, 4-Count Rolls (Pack of 18)

Note that the rules say that on average you have to buy 19,000 boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups™ to win one laptop. What are you waiting for?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:26 PM | Comments (2)

Analysis is needed

What's goin' on with that election thing?

Let's see. Trump is accused by the Club for Growth of abusing eminent domain, Sarah Palin defended Trump on the birther issue, Michele Bachmann thinks the birther issue is settled by the state of Hawaii's certification (which it is legally, even as a new WorldNetDaily book will doubtless claim that the state of Hawaii is lying), Bachmann's son turned down a Playgirl offer, and Gingrich is having trouble raising money. OK, I think the latter is good news, because I believe anyone with the exception of Barack Obama is better than Gingrich. And I have to say that I was surprised by Bachmann's legally sound birther position (although as I explained here, the objections Trump raises are not legal, but based on a populist, anti-government common-sense yearning for a lost past).

But the election news already has my head spinning. I can't keep track of these things, and I am not sure I want to.

Do I have to? I mean, does duty call? Is there such a thing as a "duty" to blog about these things?

I'd rather sit on my butt watching a Samuel Jackson movie and let the candidates crash.

Forgive me, but I'm finding irony in the idea that there is such a thing as responsibility. 

I'll probably get over it.

(Forgive the title, as analysis won't help here. It only leads to cycles of overanalysis.)

MORE: Poll finds most Americans can't name a GOP presidential candidate:

About half of all Americans -- 53 percent -- could not name anyone when asked which Republican candidate they've been hearing the most about, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Obviously, I need more analysis.

But that would take years -- especially by the standards of strict Freudian analysis.

posted by Eric at 11:32 AM | Comments (6)

If only "US Uncut" were a sex club!

Sarah told me about an outfit called "US Uncut." Sounds funny in a sexy way, right? It sounded funny to me too, but Sarah warned that it is "not nearly as much fun as the name makes it sound..."

Wow, was Sarah ever right!

If the people quoted here are any indication of the mentality behind "US Uncut," they are not only humorless lefties, but they are naive beyond belief.

FLINT, Michigan -- About 15 to 20 people gathered in front of the Mott Foundation Building on Saginaw Street to protest corporate America's tax breaks.

The group, U.S. Uncut, was protesting as part of a national movement to have the U.S. government restructure how corporate America is taxed, said Virginia Hamori-Ota, a protester and lecturer at the University of Michigan-Flint.

"We're out here to raise consciousness to our movement," the 52-year-old said.

The protesters gathered to protest the Bank of America, which did not pay income tax last year. They said that while lower- and middle-class families struggle to get by the fifth-largest corporation in the U.S. didn't have to pay up.

"Big companies like the Bank of America don't pay their taxes," said Robert Burach, a 20-year-old UM-Flint student who was one of the student leaders of the group.

Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for the Bank of America, said the bank didn't pay an income tax in the U.S. because it reported a loss, therefore there was no income to tax. It did, however, pay state and local taxes.

It is very sad to contemplate that Michigan's educational system trains minds to think like that of the student quoted, but apparently it does. It's bad enough that so many of them voted for a man who believes that not taking more from people constitutes "giving," but the idea that taxes should be imposed in the absence of income to tax?


How do they think that is possible? Might they think that because it's a bank, it just "has money" there for the taking?

Never mind that it's other people's money. It's a bank! They have money, so why shouldn't they just pay it out? Lots of rich people put their money there, right? Maybe they can get it from them!

Just like the government money. The government has money too, right? So why don't they just, like, pay it? There are plenty more rich people who are all greedy and everything. Just tax them!

Still in awe of the logic and intellectual acumen of this outfit, I thought to google the professor who was protesting, one Virginia Hamori-Ota. She teaches French

Oh, well in that case I guess that makes her an expert!

posted by Eric at 11:38 PM | Comments (4)

Fukushima 19 April 2011

Time for another update of the Fukushima Follies.

Gov't mulls raising consumption tax to 8% for reconstruction. But as is usual almost every where these days some are more equal than others. Japan studies easier capital rules for quake-hit banks and Japan mulls hiking power charges to help cover damages payments.

The government is considering increasing electricity charges to help cover damages payments to people who have suffered losses on the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., government sources said Tuesday.

It is planning to increase the tax on electricity source development, which is collected from consumers as part of electricity charges, and use the hike for providing a portion of the damages payments that TEPCO may not be able to shoulder, they said.

When was the last time a utility had to raise rates because of an accident at a natural gas or coal fired plant?

And it is not just Japan that is at risk. Tornado Forces Shut Down Of Two Reactors At 1.6 Gigawatt Surry Nuclear Power Plant

One of the more surprising victims of this weekend's dramatic tornado flurry that ravaged numerous states causing the deaths of 45 people, were two nuclear reactors operated by Dominion Resources in Surry County, Virginia on April 16. Luckily, it appears that the shutdowns have been contained. From Reuters: "Dominion Virginia Power said the two nuclear reactors at its Surry Power Station shut down automatically when a tornado touched down and cut off an electrical feed to the station
I keep telling these guys that reactors designed without intrinsic safety are accidents waiting to happen. What do I mean by intrinsic safety? The reactor can cool down on its own without any electrical power. Only designs that meet that criteria should be approved for future construction.

Japan seeks 'calm response' to Fukushima accident at Chernobyl confab. Well sure. No point in getting people upset. With something like the truth.

Radiation inside Nos. 1, 3 reactor buildings up to 57 millisieverts. Which is 5.7 REM per hour. Which means that a worker can get the total allowed worker dose (5X higher than American limits) in under 5 hours.

The radiation levels inside the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor buildings at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were up to about 57 millisieverts per hour as of Sunday, the government's nuclear safety agency said Monday, acknowledging that such a level imposes time constraints on restoration work that must be conducted there.
And of course that is just one measurement inside the buildings. There are no doubt hot spots where a worker has even less time to get something done. It appears that the Japanese only surveyed low radiation areas.
According to TEPCO, there were a lot of debris inside the Reactor 3 building, and the robots had a hard time moving forward and didn't go much beyond the door.

TEPCO also did the dust sampling.

Part of the reason why they had the robots enter through the north door was because of the high radiation level at the south door.

On April 16, the radiation level at the south door to the Reactor 1 building was measured at 270 milli-sievert/hr. The distance between the north door and the south door is about 30 meters, according to TEPCO. The radiation right outside the north door was also measured on April 16, and it was 20 milli-sievert/hr.

This was the first time the radiation level was measured inside the Reactor buildings (other than Reactor 4 building) since the March 11 earthquake.

The annual limit for radiation exposure for nuclear plant workers has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. Working in the Reactor 3 building for 5 hours would exceed that number.

Another minor obstacle for the workers.

Workers cannot approach reactor buildings.

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, high levels of radiation have kept workers from approaching the buildings housing the first 3 reactors, which lost their cooling functions in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

On Friday, the highest radiation level measured outside the double-entry doors of the Number 1 to 3 reactor buildings was 2 to 4 millisieverts per hour.

Radiation levels measured between the double doors of those reactor buildings was 270 millisieverts in the Number One reactor, 12 in Number 2, and 10 in Number 3.

The radiation level detected at the Number One reactor exceeds the national exposure limit of 250 millisieverts for nuclear contract workers.

Just another minor obstacle for the Japanese plan to have this disaster wrapped up in 6 to 9 months.

And speaking of obstacles for the workers. Even robots can't stand the working conditions.

TEPCO couldn't get enough data on the radiation level in the Reactor 2 building. Two remote-controlled robots went through the door to the Reactor 2 building on April 2. But after measuring 4.1 milli-sievert/hr near the door, the camera lens quickly became foggy due to high humidity (94 to 99%) and couldn't record the radiation level.
Too steamy? I wonder what constitutes a steamy novel for a robot? And did you know that robot is synonymous with serf? They are too dumb to know they are being exploited. Probably a good thing.

Recent wind patterns in Japan are likely to have deposited radioactive particles all over the country. How are the Japanese dealing with it? They are not reporting it. And there is confirmation of that stance. Gov't panel releases 2 of over 2,000 radiation dispersal estimates. Nothing to see here (because we won't let you). Move along.

In Japan the vegetables don't just get showers before they are measured for radiation. The must also get timely showers.

Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University says in his April 19 blog post that:
after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident the government suddenly changed the procedure to measure the radiation level in vegetables, and issued a notice that "the vegetables to be analyzed for radioactive materials should be taken out of the boxes, washed carefully under running water, and then analyzed."
Professor Takeda continues (my quick translation, not necessarily literal):
That caused the total loss of confidence in the safety of the vegetables.

The reason? It is easy to remove the radioactive materials on the vegetables when they are about to be shipped, soon after having been harvested. By the time they reach the consumers, it would be difficult to remove the radioactive materials as they stick fast on the surface or have penetrated inside the vegetables.

You can't trust the radiation level numbers on vegetables and other farm produce announced by the government.

There are all kinds of ways to fake the numbers. You just learned another one.

There are other concerns. Like plutonium in the sea.

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will examine the seabed off the facility to ensure that no plutonium has leaked into the ocean.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Monday it will conduct the inspection as plutonium is heavier than other radioactive materials and could have accumulated on the floor.

Plutonium is a radioactive substance that could cause lung cancer if inhaled.

TEPCO detected earlier small quantities of plutonium in the soil around the plant. But it said the amount is too small to harm human health.

Unless it gets in the lungs.

The Japanese are concerned about the safety of their drinking water. A commission has been appointed to whitewash the issue.

Japan's health ministry is to set up a panel of experts to discuss ways to safeguard tap water from radioactive contamination.

The move comes after radioactive iodine at levels higher than national limits was detected temporarily in tap water in parts of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures amid the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The ministry on Tuesday held a meeting of advisors including environment experts and water utility industry representatives to discuss countermeasures.

Some participants asked that tap water safety be promoted publicly whenever radiation levels are low. Others said water in rivers and reservoirs should also be tested for radiation.

Ah. Yes. Promote safety when radiation levels are low. When they are high? Don't mention it.

I have a policy these days of writing something happy after I do one of these updates. Otherwise the news is just too depressing.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:54 PM | Comments (8)

PETA, keep your bloody hands off my meat rack!

Today is one of those days when I just don't feel like writing about anything, and when that happens, ordinary news and opinions fail to trigger my urge to blog. And even though I am always on the lookout for annoyances,they have to be especially annoying and touch on a pet peeve to interest me.

Fortunately, today I found something that is not only annoying, but touches on one of my pet peeves -- the peeve being the activist penchant for renaming places or streets that do not need to be renamed.

Via Eugene Volokh, (who is skeptical over whether the campaign is serious), I just learned about a classic.

PETA has asked the City of San Francsico to rename the Tenderloin.

San Francisco - The city of San Francisco hopes to revitalize the ailing Tenderloin district by enticing Twitter and other businesses to set up shop--but PETA has another suggestion: Do away with the old slaughterhouse-evoking moniker and rename the neighborhood the "Tempeh District." In a letter sent to Mayor Edwin M. Lee this morning, PETA points out that the name change would attract progressive companies and prospective residents by showing them that the neighborhood is ready for a fresh start and a new image.

"The 'Tenderloin' is an outdated name that echoes the violence and cruelty of the meat industry," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "San Francisco is home to some of the best vegan cuisine in the world, and its neighborhoods should reflect the city's commitment to compassion and progress."

Wrong. The humorless meatheads at PETA are so caught up in their self-absorbed activism that they have totally missed the delicious (if slightly filthy) flavor behind the name. 

"Tenderloin" does not mean meat in the ordinary sense. As any knowledgeable San Franciscan knows, it has long been considered an expression for "loin" of another sort. I'd say "double entendre" except no one I ever knew meant the name to refer to the kind of meat you'd buy in the butcher shop. When I lived in the Bay Area I used to have fun hanging out in the Tenderloin and I always loved the name.

I think it would be a crime against sexual freedom to allow it to be renamed by tasteless vegan language butchers.  

The term's colorful history is reflected in the Tenderloin's Wiki entry (which I am confident someone in PETA must have been capable of checking before launching this half-cocked exercise in meatlessness mind control):

There are a number of stories about how the Tenderloin got its name. One says it is a reference to an older neighborhood in New York with the same name and similar characteristics. Another is a reference to the neighborhood as the "soft underbelly" (analogous to the cut of meat) of the city, with allusions to vice and corruption, especially graft. There are also some legends about the name, probably folklore, including that the neighborhood earned its name from the words of a New York City police captain, Alexander S. Williams, who was overheard saying that when he was assigned to another part of the city, he could only afford to eat chuck steak on the salary he was earning, but after he was transferred to this neighborhood he was making so much money on the side soliciting bribes that now he could eat tenderloin instead.[2][3] Another version of that story says that the officers who worked in the Tenderloin received a "hazard pay" bonus for working in such a violent area, and thus were able to afford the good cut of meat. Yet another story, also likely apocryphal, is that the name is a reference to the sexual parts of prostitutes (i.e., "loins").

It has nothing to do with the meat industry. Similarly, the heavily-gay Polk Street area was known as "the Meat Rack" in its heyday. This dirtier link shows the customary usage of the term, and it has nothing to do with meat-eating (at least in the carnivorous sense). 

This isn't the first instance of PETA's Puritanism. A couple of years ago they attacked Jessica Simpson for wearing a "REAL GIRLS EAT MEAT" t-shirt. PETA said she "doesn't have a right to eat what she wants." And while PETA is against other people killing animals, they think it's fine if they do it. Especially if the victims are pit bulls. 

Bloody hypocrites. Leave the Tenderloin alone!

MORE: From my stodgy old Webster's New International Dictionary (Second Edition, 1957), here is the relevant secondary definition of "tenderloin." The historic word originated with a police captain who lived high on the hog, and in the generic sense it denotes a nightlife district, with opportunities for official corruption.


Hardly a "slaughterhouse-evoking moniker."

MORE: Speaking of taboo subjects, check out M. Simon's post about Omaha Steaks! Yes, they sell real tenderloin.

posted by Eric at 01:41 PM | Comments (4)

Space - Offutt Air Base - Omaha Steaks - Donald Trump

Instapundit ran a blurb That reminded me of Offutt Air Base.

RAND SIMBERG IS live-blogging a space-law conference. "I'm attending the fifth annual conference on space law hosted by the law school at the University of Nebraska, which has a program in space law, partially sponsored by USSTRATCOM (fifty miles up the road at Offut AFB in Omaha).
Which got me to thinking of the Simon Family Reunion Dinner which was held at Offutt.

Now it gets interesting. I'm related (second or third cousins - same great grandfather) loosely to the Simons who run Omaha Steaks.

They began working in the only business they knew - the meat business. After employment in several markets in Omaha, they founded their own company in 1917. B.A. bought a building in downtown Omaha called, "Table Supply Company." He moved a cooler and a freezer into the building and on the front sign he moved the "CO" of company over to the right and inserted the word "Meat." Hence, the first name of the company, "Table Supply Meat Company."
I worked in my Dad's grocery store at 33rd and Lake in Omaha. From time to time (about every month or two) we would make a run to "Table Supply" to pick up something. So we knew that branch of the family but didn't do frequent business with them.

So yesterday the first mate is telling me that Bruce and Todd Simon were on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice".

Omaha Steaks will be featured on a new episode of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" this spring.

The current fifth generation of family owners of the company, Bruce and Todd Simon, will appear in the episode scheduled to air April 17 on NBC. The Simons presented a challenge to the contestants on the show.

I had more interaction with Fred at the Reunion and old man Meyerson who used to sell me radio parts (the Meyersons were cousins) when he ran World Radio Labs in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The reunion was basically the children/grandchildren of grocers though. Ala Dobbie Gillis. I used to work for Janice Meyerson's (the opera star) father Meyer. I helped move about 15 tons of sugar into a 4 ft. high crawl space in a half hour on delivery day once. Meyer (Janice's father) allowed as to how that was an acceptable performance. High praise from Meyer. And Meyer used to have us over for Sunday dinners. A lot. Meyer would always light up a good cigar after dinner. I loved the smell.

I have had several of the Omaha Steaks $99 variety packs. My mom sends me one every now and then when they discount it below $50 in Omaha. Shipped in a foam cooler with dry ice. Neato. Thanks Mom!!11!! And I must say that as a son of a butcher, and once an apprentice butcher myself, the meat is excellent.

Amazon also has the Omaha Steaks The All American Combo.

And the Reunion Dinner? Catered By Omaha Steaks. With an open bar. Oh. Yeah!

You can watch the Celebrity Apprentice episode at Raising The Steaks. The Simons come on at about 8 minutes into the video. I sorta remember Todd and Bruce from the reunion.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:40 AM

To progressive homophobes, "gay" is the ultimate insult

One of the signs of success is when you drive your enemies batshit crazy. And one of the signs that leftists are being driven crazy is when they let down their guard and reveal themselves to be the very sort of bigots that they condemn.

In John Hawkins' interview with Andrew Breitbart, I found a classic example:

One thing you do that's pretty unique is consistently re-tweet the nasty attacks made on you by liberals on twitter. Why do you do that?

Because it exposes what leftists are -- that they claim to be hippy dippy and live and let live, but at the end of the day, I have found that leftists are intolerant, hateful, and totalitarian and they don't like to hear other people's points of view. They, in the name of tolerance, call me gay all the time, too many times for it not to be called a trend. The media does a great job of creating the perception that hope and change is the mindset of the lefty, but I see people whose first tendency when they get into a rally is to throw a trash can through a Starbucks window. When a camera is on them they say we want a revolution. They wear socialist T-shirts, hand out socialist and communist literature at their events, and my goal is to expose the Left. Re-tweeting is a very, very effective tool for exposing the Left  and it's more fun than you can possibly imagine.

They "call me gay all the time."

That speaks volumes about the political bankruptcy -- and homophobia -- of the shrill hardcore activists who think it's just fine to hurl the word "gay" as an insult against their opponents. (Especially when the opponent is the much-demonized Andrew Breitbart.)

I did not say "homophobia" lightly, as it's an often misused word conflating fear of homosexuals with anti-gay bigotry. But in the case of the people calling Breitbart gay, homophobia is a total fit. Remember, these are the same people who would object vehemently if an adolescent school boy who hadn't thought much about it used the expression "that's so gay!" They would be the first to pounce on him about the evils of homophobia, and their argument runs along the following lines: if you insult someone or put something down by using "gay," you are saying that gay -- and gays -- are bad, inferior. And when they call Breitbart gay, it's the same sort of putdown they would condemn in a school boy, except unlike the school boy, they aren't just using an expression. They know exactly what they are doing.

To understand how truly homophobic the insult is, it is important to note two significant things about Andrew Breitbart. Not only is he not gay, but neither is he anti-gay. Far from it; he has told social conservatives that they cannot write gays off and have to come up with a coherent policy on gays that makes gays whole.

So insulting him by calling him gay is not grounded in a belief that he is gay (which would make him some sort of Uncle Tom hypocrite in the eyes of the left), nor is it grounded in the belief that he is a raving anti-gay bigot who will be reduced to a foaming frenzy by being called gay.

Nor can it be the intent to call Breitbart gay with a hope towards discrediting him among anti-gay conservatives, for that does not compute politically. No one on the right -- not even the anti-gay right -- is going to think less of Andrew Breitbart because angry left-wing activists have called him gay. They may be many things, but they simply are not that stupid.

Nor do I believe that the lefties imagine that hurling "gay" as an insult at Breitbart is going to change his mind about gays one way or another. Why would it? 

This leaves only one explanation, which I think is the simplest one.

They call him gay because they think it is an insult to call a straight man gay.

That is the essence of homophobia. I can't remember the last time I saw anything like that on the right, and again, I include the anti-gay WND types. I'm not saying it hasn't happened, but it sure as hell isn't routine, and it's easy to see why. If anyone on the right were to castigate a non-gay political enemy as gay, it would be de facto proof of homophobia. 

To understand the dynamics, imagine if Breitbart had been likened by leftists to some other minority group (to which he did not belong) as an insult. Black, Jewish, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, I don't care which group. It's hard to imagine because it simply would never happen. Nor would they liken him to a woman as an insult, because it would be sexist, and they damned well know it.

But insulting political enemies by calling them gay is still perfectly acceptable on the hard left. So much for their sanctimony.

This is not new, of course. It's just more proof of something I've seen for years.

Little wonder the phrase "tea bagger" is so popular on the left. What else could be expected from people who think "gay" is the worst thing they can call someone?

HT: Dr. Helen

posted by Eric at 11:23 PM | Comments (9)

Feeling secure in your persons, houses, papers, and effects?

Does anyone still remember the Fourth Amendment?

Here's the outmoded, out-of-style text written by dead white men who owned slaves:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

While most of us would like to think that the above would apply to telephones, telephone records, and address books, apparently the police here in Michigan do not:

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the Michigan State Police's use of cellphone "extraction" devices.

The ACLU said MSP has used the devices to access information from cellphones that officers ask drivers they have pulled over to give them."It can contain information that many people consider to be private, to be beyond the reach of law enforcement and other government actors," said Mark Fancher, an ACLU attorney.

(Via Radley Balko.)

So, unless the ACLU is making this up, the cops are pulling people over for traffic violations and then extracting the contents of their cell phone records without obtaining a search warrant. My cell phone would these days be considered "minimal" as it is just a plain old cell phone with a mediocre little camera. But it has accumulated phone numbers of my friends and contacts, as well as personal pictures, and if the police did that to me during a traffic stop, they would not only be searching my personal papers and effects and invading my privacy, they'd also be invading the privacy of my friends. A lot of people use cell phones which have tons more information including email correspondence, business and financial records, and the usual details of their entire personal lives.

That some asshole cop who pulls you over can search you in this way is no mere annoyance; it is simply an outrage. Is Michigan alone in doing this? I read on and saw Homeland Security mentioned, but nothing about other state police agencies.

The ACLU is asking why the state police is using devices that can gather data stored on cellphones, and why it is not telling the public about it. The ACLU said the devices could violate Fourth Amendment rights.

"There is great potential for abuse here by a police officer or a state trooper who may not be monitored or supervised on the street," Fancher said.MSP released a statement this week that said it is working "in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.""The State Police will provide information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act ... there may be a processing fee to search for, retrieve, examine and separate exempt material ... ," MSP said in a statement.Fancher said MSP priced that information, pertaining to five devices, at about $500,000."This should be something that they are handing over freely, and that they should be more than happy to share with the public -- the routines and the guidelines that they follow," Fancher said.The national ACLU has asked similar questions about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's use of devices to gather information from travelers' computers and cellphones.

So the State Police wants $500,000 to examine the data from five devices? That's $100,000 per device. Sounds like a coverup to me.

Now that the Republicans control the state legislature and the governor's office, I certainly hope they do something about this, because this comes on the heels of legislation passed previously that allows police and other government bureaucrats to rifle through patients' prescription records in the hope of catching violations of the drug laws. And pending legislation which would make Michigan the first state in the country to perform invasive roadside saliva testing without search warrants. (Feeling secure in your fluids?) There is such near-total disregard for the Fourth Amendment in this state that it borders on outright contempt. Michigan is not alone, and the Supreme Court isn't much better.

Not everyone on the right likes the ACLU, and I share some of their concerns. The ACLU panders to the left shamelessly, and it has a long record of treating the Second Amendment as a blank spot in the Bill of Rights. But where are the right wing organizations and think tanks when the Fourth Amendment is being shredded? Do they think it's some left wing loophole for criminals? What will it take to convince them? Do the cops have to download some prominent conservative's Blackberry?

Oh, I forgot. People who are doing nothing wrong have nothing to hide.

And the innocent have nothing to fear.....

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds linked a Popular Mechanics article with much more on the subject, including a discussion of the Fourth Amendment issues. The device they're using does a lot more than look at the last number you dialed to see whether a driver might have been distracted:

...The device used by the Michigan State Police is a portable forensic system called the Cellebrite UFED that can suck data from a variety of devices, including multiple Android phones and Apple iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. The company did not immediately return phone calls, but according to Cellebrite's product description, the UFED can grab email, Web bookmarks, Web history, SIM data, cookies, notes, MMS, instant messages, Bluetooth devices, locations, journeys, GPS fixes, call logs, text messages, contacts and more.

This type of forensic device is nothing new, but the ACLU's concern is that the UFED mobile units might have been used in routine traffic stops--which, the ACLU contends, would violate the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

That Michigan police have this technology and are using it is very worrisome. A Florida legal expert is quoted:

Logan [a Fourth Amendment expert from Florida State University] told us that there is currently disagreement in the courts about whether cellphones, and smartphones in particular, can be searched after a person is arrested. "One way of looking at it is that phones are just like any other container. Let's say I'm stopped for speeding and the police find cocaine, and then I'm arrested for cocaine possession; the police could search my car. They could also search any duffel bags that were in my car, and let's say that I had a box of notecards--they could search that. If [an officer] can search that container of notecards, the question becomes: Can he also search my iPhone, which also contains note cards of a sort? But the other argument is that it differs completely in kind, since the type of information on the phone is so different." Logan agrees that, if not under arrest, a citizen is under no legal obligation to surrender a phone. But it is unclear whether people have been volunteering their phones to the Michigan State Police or police seized those phones during arrests.

The law gets even more complicated when it comes to moving violations that involve the phone itself--such as if you were charged with talking on your phone while driving. Logan says the phone could contain evidence about the violation and therefore might be subject to seizure. However, Michigan has no law prohibiting the use of cellphones in automobiles, so that couldn't apply there.

My understanding is that while Michigan law does not prohibit the use of cell phones in automobiles (Detroit allows "hands free" only), texting by drivers is prohibited. Which means that if a cop saw what he thought looked like texting by a driver (even though he might be dialing a number), he could pull him over and "investigate." Once he has the right to be inside the container, would the "plain view" doctrine then apply?

It's getting to the point where the police think they have the right to be anywhere and do anything, and if the ACLU report is accurate, I hope the legislature intervenes soon.

The use of this technology will spread. Police like it because it gives them a feeling of power and they can rationalize it by saying it helps them detect crime.

What is needed is for people who can handle the truth to take a closer look at the Fourth Amendment in light of the founders' intent. I did, and it was a real eye-opener

posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (6)

For I've Been A Stranger In A Strange Land

I'm sorry to have to bring up the subject of Obama's birth. I don't want to bring it up in the normal way - ie relating to whether or not he's eligible for the presidency. I don't want to do this because the resolution of that is out of our hands and because at this point you can lock two people in a room and have five different opinions.

No, my issue is much bigger. Yesterday I followed a link from Instapundit to Hot Air and found myself in violent disagreement with Allah Pundit's opinion (or rather the point on which he agreed with Jon Meacham from Newsweek.) You see, Allah Pundit agreed with the idea that we should do away with the natural-born requirement for a president. He dismisses it as antiquated and useless.

And I think he is completely, utterly, dangerously wrong.

Continue reading "For I've Been A Stranger In A Strange Land"

posted by Sarah at 12:40 AM | Comments (4)

Weather Over Japan 17 April 2011 To 21 April - Radioactive

Very nice map of the radiation plume from Japan. And you can pick your poison. I-131 or Cs-137. Plus you can make it go fast or slow and pick out individual frames. Frames 33 to 51 are quite interesting. "Loop" to get started. Tokyo will get smacked. As well as Osaka. Hot times.

Note also around frame 69 of the Cesium cloud. It looks like the island is cut in half by radiation. I was fooling with the Cs map and hit the Monday button. That came up as 00:00 UTC 18 April. Frame 54. Which is where the island cutting cloud starts. So it is starting as of now if the prediction is correct.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:43 PM

Atlas Shrugged, Part I

Just saw the movie, loved it, exceeded my expectations. Theatre was about half-full on a Sunday afternoon, there was applause at the end. It looks like they're still #3 in per-screen average.

The production values weren't 100% -- you can tell this is a small-budget film. And if you haven't read the book, it's probably a bit hard to follow. But they still managed to put together a beautiful picture that is very true to the book and fun to watch.

For a more objective opinion, my wife, who has not read the book and is basically nonideological, quite liked it, to my surprise. Going in, I was worried she might fall asleep.

A list of theatres is here.

I'm not clear on what the budget was exactly -- I've seen numbers from $4M to $20M bandied about.  It should certainly make back the former after Blu-Ray sales, but the latter could be tough since it's only in 300 theatres.  Hopefully we'll get a Part II, and I just hope Part III isn't a musical.

Also, this is just brilliantly hilarious.

posted by Dave at 06:06 PM | Comments (5)

69 Months And BTW Nice Hole You Got There

How about that hole? I think it is a case of more rubble, more trouble.

Video #2

Video #3

OK. By now you have seen the nice hole - you did look didn't you? So what about the 69 months? I'm afraid that is either a typo or a projection based on past performance. One or the other. What am I On about? TEPCO has a plan. A 6 to 9 month plan. Lucky numbers. If everything aligns.

TEPCO issues 6-9 month containment plan

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has issued a schedule for putting the crisis under control in 6 to 9 months.

The chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tsunehisa Katsumata, explained the plan at a news conference on Sunday.

The utility firm said a two-phase process is scheduled.

In the first stage over the next 3 months, it will build new cooling systems outside the Number 1 and 3 reactor buildings to cool down the nuclear fuel, and to ensure that radiation levels around the plant continue to decline.

The company says it will contain the radioactivity leakage from the Number 2 reactor by patching the damaged section.

In the second stage, TEPCO plans to lower the temperature of the nuclear fuel in the reactors to below 100 degrees Celsius to stabilize its condition.

Aside from the laugher of 6 to 9 months let us look at the bits I highlighted.

will build new cooling systems outside the Number 1 and 3 reactor buildings to cool down the nuclear fuel

Well we learn what is going on by reading between the lines. Fukuology. Don't say it out loud. You will be accused of bad manners. So what do we know? The current system has not stopped the spew of radiation for one. Steam (OK water vapor wise guy) appears to be lofting radioactives in the air. Given the wind patterns expected for the next few days that is going to be a problem. Dang. And "will build" in a high rad environment? Good luck with that.

will contain the radioactivity leakage from the Number 2 reactor by patching the damaged section

A concrete patch? That is a trick I'd love to see. If the patch is going hold in a high earthquake environment they are going to have to fill it with rebar and tie the rebar to the existing loose ends. A tough tedious job normally. In a high rad environment? Maybe they will just totally prefab a patch and glue it on at the site. If they can get a crane big enough to lift it on to the site.

But maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe they are going to patch the reactor and not the building. Uh. Where will they get the volunteers?

Robots are going to work at Fukushima. American robots. Thanks to Zero Hedge for the heads up about the videos.

TEPCO has a plan to reduce the radiation spew. Special Covers. More colloquially referred to as hats.

TEPCO also said it will put special covers on the heavily damaged outer buildings of the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactors as an emergency measure to prevent radioactive materials from spewing out of the buildings and contaminating the air and soil, with plans to complete the work in roughly six to nine months.

Over the medium term, however, the utility plans to cover the reactor buildings with concrete walls and roofs, it said.

The company said it will pour water into the structures containing reactor pressure vessels for the Nos. 1 and 3 reactors within roughly three months, while putting back into the pressure vessels any water that leaks out in the process.

For the No. 2 reactor, whose containment vessel is feared to have been damaged, the utility plans to seal with sticky cement a part in the vessel that is believed to have been breached. It hopes to begin cooling the reactor within roughly three months in the same manner as the No. 1 and 3 reactors.

Things that have been obvious for quite some time are now being admitted.

Here is a real howler Gov't to decide whether evacuees can return home after 6-9 months. I refuse to quote a bit of that fantasy. "...the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage...". Tell me about it.

ex-SKF has some thoughts about the "plan". This is a good one:

I'm reading the 7-page handout (in Japanese) that TEPCO distributed for the press conference that details out the specific tasks to achieve the goals (that they call "Steps 1 and 2"). So far I haven't find anything that is different from what TEPCO has been doing for the past month.
And so is this:
So what else will TEPCO and the national government be dribbling out, over the next 9 months? They will extend and pretend as long as necessary until the weary citizens and residents of Japan simply don't care any more, as they will let their children play in the contaminated school yards and eat contaminated vegetables and fish to support the farmers and fishermen, and tell themselves everything will be just fine.
Would they really do that? Depressing even to contemplate.

Here is another report of the plan (with video) that reprises past events.

Following the quake and tsunami, cooling systems broke down in reactors 1, 2 and 3. TEPCO workers have been pumping in cold water in an effort to keep them from overheating.

However, the water inside the reactors quickly becomes contaminated with high levels of radioactive substances. Due to possible structural damage in the quake, contaminated reactor water has been leaking into the basements of neighboring turbine buildings and service tunnels. This has impeded emergency repair work and created a disposal problem.

To best deal with the present circumstances, TEPCO plans to first pump contaminated wastewater outside the turbine buildings where it can be more safely cooled and filtered. Radioactive substances and salt are removed and a continuous supply of treated water is circulated to gradually cool down the reactors.

I guess reactors is the technical term. The uninitiated refer to them as piles of radioactive rubble.

It seems the plan has created a minor diplomatic row. Wait until they (the Japanese and the affected countries) have to deal with reality.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:41 PM | Comments (4)

Blessed? Or cursed?

While I don't have much time for blogging today, as it's tax time I wanted to make a brief observation about our president's remark about the nature of government:

Republicans plans to shrink the reach of government is "not a vision  that's impelled by the numbers" but a "choice" to give a trillion  dollars in tax breaks to the rich rather than ask those who've been  "blessed" to "give a little more."

Not taking away money from people constitutes "giving." And people who worked their asses off and saved something despite the thieves who think they're "giving" when they don't steal more are "blessed."

How are they blessed? In what sense? They worked hard and had to scrimp and save, and whatever they have left after taxes despite all odds is theirs, not someone else's. It was not given to them. How is that divine luck? Does the president think they're the equivalent of lottery winners or something?  

But this is old issue. Unfortunately we are saddled with a president who is unable to grasp it. He never ran a business or worked in the productive private sector, so how could he?

This reminds me of Glenn's post about millionaires yesterday. ("SHOCKING NEWS ABOUT MILLIONAIRES.")

Most people know that wealth in the U.S. is in the hands of a small  percentage of the total population. And, today, most of those folks with  a net worth of $1 million or more have earned it themselves.

They're mostly entrepreneurs who create everything from high-speed  networks to garbage haulers. They dig ditches and build houses and grow  corn and make jewelry. They deal stamps or coins or artwork and control  pests and cut lawns. They also cure people and give them new teeth.  Others will defend their neighbors or even feed them.

And they're not big spenders. In fact, most of those with big bucks  live well under their means - think about Warren Buffett still living in  that modest Omaha home - and they put their money instead toward  investments that help them stockpile more wealth.

To which Glenn remarked,

Funny, that's not the kind of thing I'm hearing from the White House.

Funny, but I'm not either. Instead, the White House thinks the secret to the success of productive people is simply having been "blessed."

And if we let them keep what they earned, we are "giving" to them.

On the bright side (assuming such things be), I think the president's words are clarifying; it's hard to find a single more perfect illustration of the biggest difference between the left and the right.

It's an irreconcilable difference, but at least it's clear.

Small blessing that.

posted by Eric at 08:40 AM | Comments (1)

Fukushima 16 April 2011

Well our friends the Japanese have screwed the pooch again. They forgot to turn on the water.

"The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan emitted a new burst of radioactive material this week after a bungled cooling effort apparently affected spent atomic fuel in the site's No. 4 reactor cooling pond, the Associated Press reported."

"Workers were firing water into the pond from a distance in an effort to prevent the fuel from overheating and releasing radioactive contaminants, but fluid collecting in an adjacent flood control container triggered an incorrect warning that the pond had been filled. Personnel halted water transfers to the pool for a number of days in response to the warning, allowing heat and radiation levels to increase even though the fuel was thought to have remained submerged, Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Deputy Director General Hidehiko Nishiyama said. Water spraying began again on Wednesday."

I dunno. When I was a Naval Nuke and we got into emergency situations (an unexpected scram say) we always sent a man to check that what our instruments were telling us was correct. Things like - is the emergency diesel generator actually running? Now maybe they were short handed (it was a commercial operation after all) when the accident started. But it is a month on. There should be plenty of hands on deck.

In other bad news it seems that they are worried about further earthquakes.

Acting on a government order issued on Wednesday in response to the more recent smaller earthquakes, Tokyo Electric Power began studying the ability of reactor structures at the facility to withstand additional tremors, Kyodo News reported. The company must inspect plant components and weigh repairs to any vulnerable areas, the atomic safety agency said.

Still, the operator warned it might not "immediately conduct an investigation" due to potential risks around areas slated for inspection (Kyodo News I).

Personnel were looking for damage to walls, floors or pipelines at the plant's main waste treatment area and in other sections where radiation-tainted water has collected, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

The primary worry, though, was the potential for new tremors to cut off electricity to pumps being used to move coolant into the site.

The "potential risks" for inspectors means very high radiation levels.

The Union of Concerned Scientists [pfd] (a bunch of lefties but occasionally their thinking is not corrupted by politics) in Congressional testimony asks why reactors have multiple levels of containment and the spent fuel pools are more or less open air.

After being discharged from the reactor core, the irradiated fuel awaits transfer to a federal repository, which does not yet exist. The United States has spent more than ten billion dollars on a proposed repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The Department of Energy faces an immense engineering challenge siting a repository because that location must isolate irradiated fuel from the environment and inadvertent human intrusion for at least 10,000 years into the future, or merely 42 times longer than we have been the United States of America.

Between those two time periods--when irradiated fuel is treated as a highly hazardous material and nuclear plant owners and the U.S. government undertake expensive and extensive efforts to protect the American public from this material--irradiated fuel sits in temporary spent fuel pools with almost no protection. For unfathomable reasons, irradiated fuel is considered benign after it is taken out of the reactor core and before it is placed in a repository.

Today, tens of thousands of tons of irradiated fuel sits in spent fuel pools across America. At many sites, there is nearly ten times as much irradiated fuel in the spent fuel pools as in the reactor cores. The spent fuel pools are not cooled by an array of highly reliable emergency cooling systems capable of being powered from the grid, diesel generators, or batteries. Instead, the pools are cooled by one regular system sometimes backed up by an alternate makeup system.

They are a bit hysterical about 10,000 years. It is more like 500 years. In any case it is quite a long time for any civilization. We need to give these spent fuel pools a lot more attention. And protection.

The Japanese are getting something right. They are doing high level atmospheric monitoring.

Fukushima University is checking radiation levels high in the atmosphere to get a better grasp of the extent of contamination from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The university says it released a large balloon on Friday carrying a weather observation device called a "radiosonde" as well as radiation measurement equipment into the skies above Fukushima City.

It plans to gauge radiation levels and collect other data up to 30 kilometers above ground. Readings will be taken at intervals of 10 meters over a period of 20 days.

This will also give some idea of what potential there is for radioactive particle transport across the Pacific (a lot or a little). It would also be nice if they did some monitoring out to sea. Maybe as they get more organized they will do that.

As you might expect there are other problems. Like water water everywhere and no place to put it.

It is still difficult for the Tokyo Electric Power Company to determine when the work to restore reactor cooling systems at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility will begin. The company says more time is needed to install makeshift water tanks in order to contain the highly radioactive water used to cool the reactors.

The contaminated water has pooled inside turbine buildings and tunnels, hampering efforts to restore reactor cooling systems. Removal of the wastewater is necessary before restoration work can begin.

Ah. Yes. Restoration work. Once they are set up the work is expected to go quickly. But they are quite far from being set up.
Japanese nuclear scientists say if a cooling system can be put in place at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, stabilizing its nuclear fuel could take another 3 months.

The deputy head of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Takashi Sawada, released the projection by an informal group of 11 society members on Thursday.

He said data published by Tokyo Electric Power Company shows that parts of the fuel rods in reactors 1 and 3 have melted and settled at the bottom of the pressure vessels.

He said if the ongoing water injections continue, the current situation can be maintained.

He said Tepco's most important task is to remove all the contaminated water and rebuild a cooling water circulation system.

He said once these jobs are done, stabilizing the nuclear fuels could take 2 to 3 months, if not longer.

But he warned that the situation could deteriorate if another strong earthquake knocks out power to the plant and makes it impossible to keep the nuclear fuel cool for 2 or 3 days.

Evidently they don't even need earthquakes. Operator error will suffice. And note the big IF.

It seems that there have been some bad feelings about the situation that the Government declined to announce.

"After the explosion of Reactor 1, we [the government, TEPCO] wanted to prevent hydrogen explosions but had no means of doing so. We thought it [hydrogen] leaked from the Containment Vessel and it was the core meltdown, but we just didn't feel like announcing that."
I have a bad feeling about that. What else are they failing to announce? It makes ya wonder. And worry.

Ever wonder what the TEPCO folks mean by low level radiation? I have. It appears we have an answer.

The amount of low level radioactive wastewater discharged to the sea this time was approx 9,070 tons from the Central Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility and approx 1,323 tons from the sub-drain pits of Units 5 and 6 (Unit 5: approx 950 tons, Unit 6: approx 373 tons). The total radiation discharged was approx 1.5 x 10^11 Bq.
I think we should do some math. Let us start with volumes - 9,070 Tons + 950 Tons + 373 Tons = 10,393 Tons. Multiply by 1,000 liters per ton (assuming fresh water) gives you 10,393,000 liters. Divide that into the amount of radiation and you get 14,433 Bq/l. Given the uncertainties 10,000 Bq/l is probably a good enough number. I wonder what they would consider "high level"?

I will have more gloom and doom for you when I do a post on what the radiation releases from Chernobyl have done to the health of the populations affected.

Revised: 16 April 2011 2157z

I did the calculations wrong. I forgot some 9,000 Tons of water. If you have an old copy, copy this one over it or save it for laughs.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:39 PM | Comments (5)

Worms Schizophrenia

I was rereading my post Worms Autism and since I referenced one comment from here I thought I ought to read them all. Just in case I missed something interesting. And it looks like I did. Several somethings in fact. Let me start with a bit that interests me personally since I have a close relation with the problem.

A patient using whipworm to treat IBD/Ulcerative Colitis by Mike Luis

[Comment posted 2011-02-01 07:34:30]
Fascinating article. If the hygiene/old friends hypothesis stands correct about the rise of autoimmune diseases in developed countries/areas, and the connection between inflammation and autism is sound, then helminthic therapy holds potential to treat a huge amount of devastating conditions; IBD, Allergies, Asthma, MS, and now Autism, perhaps more. There is even literature on the potential effects on mental illness, such as clinical depression, as related to cytokines. I am a patient who has been using trichuris trichiura (human whipworm) to treat Ulcerative Colitis and have seen incredible success. I blog about my experience here.

Which led me to research cytokines schizophrenia.

Which led me to Cortisol and Cytokines in Chronic and Treatment-Resistant Patients with Schizophrenia: Association with Psychopathology and Response to Antipsychotics.

There is a complex bidirectional communication between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems that can be demonstrated by the presence of shared neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines (Blalock, 1989; Haddad et al, 2002). Communication between these systems plays an essential role in modulating the adequate response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to the stimulatory influence of cytokines and stress-related mediators (Spangelo et al, 1995). Growing evidence suggests that, in addition to providing communication between immune cells, specific cytokines play a role in signaling the brain to produce neurochemical, neuroendocrine, neuroimmune, and behavioral changes (Muller and Ackenheil, 1998; Kronfol and Remick, 2000). Recently, studies have shown that the interface between these complex systems is impaired in schizophrenia (SCH, Altamura et al, 1999).
Go to the above link for more links. Way more links.

Here is another one.

Growing evidence suggests that the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems interact with each other through cytokines, hormones, and neurotransmitters. The activation of the cytokine systems may be involved in the neuropathological changes occurring in the central nervous system (CNS) of schizophrenic patients. Numerous studies report that treatment with antipsychotic drugs affects the cytokine network. Hence, it is plausible that the influence of antipsychotics on the cytokine systems may be responsible for their clinical efficacy in schizophrenia. This article reviews current data on the cytokine-modulating potential of antipsychotic drugs. First, basic information on the cytokine networks with special reference to their role in the CNS as well as an up-to-date knowledge of the cytokine alterations in schizophrenia is outlined. Second, the hitherto published studies on the influence of antipsychotics on the cytokine system are reviewed. Third, the possible mechanisms underlying antipsychotics' potential to influence the cytokine networks and the most relevant aspects of this activity are discussed. Finally, limitations of the presented studies and prospects of future research are delineated.
Well isn't that interesting? So could worms treat schizophrenia? From my limited research all I can say is that no one knows. I did find a link to a now defunct www address that said, "I might try worms", but that is about it.

OK. What else did I find? Another comment that interests me since I know several people with the problem.

Yes, I have read similar about diabetes. by Jan-Olof Flink

[Comment posted 2011-03-23 08:52:27]
Amy Hendrickson asks in the comments if "anyone heard of worms being used to help people with diabetes?"

Yes I did read about that early 2009.
Anne Cooke, professor at Cambridge university and her team showed that they could stop diabetes in mice by giving them some kind of extract made from Schistosoma mansoni, the worm that causes bilharzia

That is quite suggestive. However, I have gone on long enough so I will let you so your own research.

I do like the idea of Dynamic Balance. Which is all you can have when everything is moving around.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:38 PM | Comments (1)

Worms Autism

What exactly do worms have to do with autism? Good question.

As faithful readers know, in the first of my many previous lives I was occupied as a clinical psychologist (preparation for dealing with engineers [ain't it the truth - and I'm an engineer - ed.] on a full time basis in my current life). My training was heavily focused on autistic children at a time when the autism diagnosis was very new, and I remain to this day aware of many of the treatment modalities for the illness. When I came across the article that used the phrase "worms" and "autism" together, I was hooked.

The true story is about a family at wits end with an autistic teenager, a near-adult child who had descended into physical self-abuse, violent behavior, and the very real possibility of accidental death. The father, Stewart, began a systematic study of anything, including alternative therapies, that might have helped. Having tried everything from anti-psychotics to behavioral therapy to no avail, his thorough Internet search provided a glimmer of hope. Here is a lesson to be learned: It was a glimmer he could see that no one in the field of Autism research recognized.

The glimmer was work by a team of researchers at the University of Iowa on Crohn's disease. Students of the autoimmune disease noted epidemiological evidence that people who emigrated from an undeveloped area such as India, where the disease is unknown, to the developed world (specifically, the U.K.) faced a serious and significant increase in the probability of developing Crohn's. In addition, in the U.S., studies on children living in rural southern states where pig farming is common -- as are the worm infections that come from living close to them -- epidemiologists found no bowel disorders. As programs were implemented to stop the worm infections, autoimmune diseases became far more prevalent.

The great breakthrough came from wondering if, instead of looking for something in the environment that caused the disease, scientists should be looking for something that was missing, something that allowed the disease to thrive with its absence.

Armed with an assortment of indirect pointers, specifically an experimental treatment in Iowa that involved ingesting the ovum of porcine tapeworm, as a possible remedy for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the father wrote a medical white paper that piqued the interest of researchers in his area. After spending years working with the FDA to obtain the permission to perform a clinical test on his son, the ovum were obtained and ingested. After a false start, the dosage was adjusted and within ten weeks the results were in. Obviously, I don't have to go into details of the complete remission of symptoms; I wouldn't be writing about it if it didn't work famously. I will simply report that the autistic behavior simply went away.

How about that.

But that is only part of the story. The story of the initial failure is interesting in its own right. It illustrates how failure of an experiment does not necessarily mean failure of an idea.

After obtaining permission to administer the treatment from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under "compassionate use" rules, Stewart and Hollander navigated customs protocols to import OvaMed's formulation of T. suis ova, called TSO. They had Lawrence drink a solution containing 1,000 of the roundworm eggs every two weeks for 5 months beginning in early 2006.

The results were beyond disappointing. Lawrence's aggressive and agitated behaviors abated for just four days during the entire 20-week treatment period. "There were only those four days," Stewart recalls. "Each day subsequent, he went right back to his old self."

Stewart started looking at residential schools where Lawrence could live under the constant supervision of healthcare professionals. "We couldn't live like that anymore. We were at our wit's end," he says.

But when Stewart contacted OvaMed's president Detlev Goj to inform him of the dispiriting results, his hope was renewed. Goj told him that Lawrence's response to the low dose of worm eggs--1,000 ova every two weeks as opposed to 2,500 in the promising Crohn's and ulcerative colitis trials--actually fit the profile of a potential responder. He recommended that they give Lawrence 2,500 eggs every two weeks for a period and see what happened. Stewart relayed the information to Hollander, and they prepared to conduct another trial, this time at the full dose.

You know the end of the story, but I like this recounting of it.
The Johnson family anxiously awaited the effects of the full dose of TSO on Lawrence's violent behavior. Within 10 weeks of the higher-dose treatment, the autistic boy stopped smashing his head against walls. He stopped gouging at his eyes. The paralysis and frustration that held him and his family prisoners in their own home lifted. The freak outs ceased. "It wasn't gradations," remembers Stewart, who had always kept meticulous notes on Lawrence's disorder and the interventions they had attempted. "It just went away. All these behaviors just disappeared." Elated, Stewart called Lawrence's doctor, Eric Hollander. "He was stunned, because all of that behavior set was gone," Stewart says. "He was speechless, as I was."

Hollander and Stewart recognized the potential importance of Lawrence's reaction to TSO, and after a year or so of closely monitoring the boy's progress, the researcher asked Stewart to present their findings to his colleagues at the Seaver Autism Center during its annual conference in 2007. Stewart did so, and the team at the research facility, one of the most prominent in the nation, was intrigued. "They were very impressed," Stewart recalls. "It was very well received."

So the research results were announced in 2007. Why haven't I heard of it?

There are a lot of interesting points in the comments. I liked this one.

helminthic therapy by Herbert Smith

[Comment posted 2011-01-31 23:17:46]
I wonder why Stewart Johnson doesn't try the longer living hookworms (Necator Americanus) and whipworms (Trichuris Trichiura). They are harmless in small numbers, don't reproduce inside the host either but they live between 2 and 5 years, so the child would not have to take TSO every 2 weeks and it's significantly cheaper.

I was able to put my severe Crohn's disease in remission by getting both of these organisms.

Obviously there is much more on the subject out there. Just Google worms autism.

You should also check out Worms Schizophrenia.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:24 PM | Comments (1)

Who's the most guilty of corrupting today's youth?

If you will forgive the Socratic dialogue and the cheapshot classical allusion, I'll give a hint. The answer is not Socrates! (You will just have to read on.)

I live in a college town, and I have lived in one college town or another for most of my life. I don't know how related it is to seeing young people for so long, but I have two pet peeves, which are somewhat contradictory.

As I have tried to explain, a longtime problem I have had with young people is when I have sensed that their thoughts are not theirs, but are being parroted. A friend who refused to follow the thinking of others opined years ago (back in the unenlightened days before Godwin's Law) that many of the mindless subscribers to politically correct doctrine would have fit in just fine in the Hitler Youth. Anyway, it really makes me lose patience with people when I can tell they're reciting the thoughts of others and haven't really thought them through.

OTOH, the counter to this is that I also believe that people should be held accountable for their thoughts, and should be given credit for them. Others -- including the originators of whatever the idea is -- are not responsible. Even in the case of the most unoriginal idiot who parrots Karl Marx or Noam Chomsky, I would insist on blaming him and not the men whose thoughts he has adopted. To do otherwise negates free will, and creates what I see as a threat to freedom. 

A familiar pattern I have seen over the decades is that when young people's opinions diverge from those of their parents or an older generation, their elders tend to look for a scapegoat in the form of an evil leader; a pied piper who led them down a path of ruin. Timothy Leary (and the Beatles) made them take LSD. Herbert Marcuse and Alfred Kinsey are to blame for sexual hedonism, Playboy, pornography, and homosexuality. Interestingly, in many cases these sinister pied pipers are seen as still leading astray later generations who never even heard of them.

Sorry, but regardless of who might be blamed for coming up with an idea, I hold the people who think what they think responsible, and I must give them credit or blame as if they are their own thoughts. To do otherwise leads to a never-never land of no one being responsible for anything. It is tedious, but once again, is our responsibility to think for ourselves. If we cannot do that, then we cease to have free will and we are in need of protection by authorities. At that point, we cease to be free citizens.

What reminded me of this was Conor Friedersdorf's "The Torture Apologists Who Corrupted America's Youth." He blames favorite villains of the left -- Bush, Cheney, Yoo, and Addington -- for the "normalizing" of torture in the minds of young people today, and his argument reads like a screed against culture rot or gay marriage from Concerned Women for America or WorldNetDaily:

Outrage at the immoral acts of these men, however personally decent or well-meaning they may be, is appropriate. They played a more pernicious part in corrupting America's youth than any gangster rapper or pornographer. But responsibility isn't theirs alone. The members of a single administration cannot transform public attitudes on a matter this important without a cadre of apologists and a larger population that is basically complicit in its silence. So when historians look back on this era, let them assign blame more widely. Every Member of Congress who did nothing to stop these techniques bears some culpability. So do the purveyors of popular culture - most notably the producers of the show 24, though many Hollywood movies are guilty here too - that romanticized torture in a way that misled Americans about its efficacy.

I see a clear pattern here. The same Hollywood that corrupted young people into accepting gay marriage with films like "Brokeback Mountain" has also corrupted them into accepting torture. (Hardly an original observation; years ago Robert Knight and his outfit blamed Howard Stern, women in the military, porn, and the homos for Abu Ghraib.)

Like his counterparts on the cultural right, Friedersdorf supplies charts to graphically demonstrate his point:

torture full.jpg


I don't feel like making pie graphs showing support for gay marriage by age group, but I think this will work just as well:


Clearly, the young people have been corrupted into accepting the monstrous twin evils of torture and gay marriage.

And guess what major villain supports both?

Barack Obama, you say? Perish the thought; he is only a minor villain who only went along with torture because the evil Republicans had already corrupted the culture:

And Barack Obama, who succeeded a torturing administration, is complicit in normalizing the practice insofar as he instructed his Department of Justice to forgo prosecuting the illegal acts of the previous administration, in violation of treaty obligations endorsed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the United States Senate. Obama is also complicit in the cruel and inhumane punishment of Bradley Manning, an American citizen who hasn't even been convicted of a crime.

So, if we are to determine who is most responsible for corrupting the youth, we have to ask ourselves a simple question:

Which major Republican villain was for the twin evils of torture and gay marriage even before Barack Obama was for them?

Dick Cheney, that's who!

Connect the dots, people! For years one of the most powerful men in the country, he is clearly to blame for the evil thoughts that young people think today. What could be a more compelling example than the way he has cleverly brainwashed the youth into accepting the monstrous twin evils of torture and gay marriage?

I realize he's not as hip as Leary, not as intellectual as Chomsky, and not as twisted as Kinsey, but hey, I didn't have all day to write this blog post, and we have to blame someone for the corruption of youth, don't we?

As to the substantial minorities of young people who disapprove of torture and gay marriage, how are we to know whether they too, weren't "corrupted" by one influence or another depending on the POV of whoever is disagreeing with them? No doubt Friedersdorf would believe them to be morally pure on the torture issue, but "corrupted" on the gay marriage issue.

How much life easier would be if I could smugly conclude that those who disagree with me are victims of others!

posted by Eric at 01:56 PM | Comments (1)

The most tasteless overanalysis I never had time to finish (because the Jews made me stop)

Reading that the woman who sent Rep. Peter King a pig's foot (apparently as some sort of protest) was a Muslim fascinated me.

So did an earlier incident in which she sent Georgia State Senator Greg Ball a "Curious George monkey with a label saying it was bound for Auschwitz"

"I knew the Jews were behind the hearings. A monkey is a representation of who the Jews are," said Barnette, in explaining why she chose the beloved children's storybook character as a symbol.


State police were called to Ball's Albany office about 1 p.m. Tuesday. Barnette said she knows the package arrived about 10 a.m. based on its tracking number. The one-page tirade says the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is Ball's master and calls him a "Muslim-hating, Christian ghoul."

"I will be scanning the obituaries to read the end of your saga, which should read: AIPAC purchased, treasonous scumbag politician and loyal ass-wipe to his Jew masters, succumbs to prostate cancer," she wrote.

She also filled out an online contact form on his Senate website -- passing along her phone number and verses from the Quran.

Barnette said she hasn't been contacted by law enforcement regarding Ball's stuffed monkey or King's porcine appendage. A state police spokeswoman declined to comment on Ball's parcel, citing the investigation. The letter appears to meet the definition of second-degree aggravated harassment , a misdemeanor described, in part, as written communication likely to cause annoyance or alarm.

Assemblyman Robert Castelli, a 22-year former state police investigator and a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has read Barnette's letter. Such threats have to be taken seriously, he said, whether they are from an individual, like Reagan shooter John Hinckley Jr., or an organized group, like al-Qaida.

"Whether they are delusional or determined, they still have the potential to be a serious threat," said Castelli, R-Goldens Bridge.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who questioned the halalness of the pig's foot.

As I kept reading that Ms. Barnette was a blogger, I became even more curious than Curious George, so I just had to know what on earth she blogs about. According to her profile, she has three blogs:

Senator Harry Reid's Father Deserved To Die

President Bush's Sex & Drug Connection

A Matter for Decree

The first one contains no posts, and the second and third each have one. The third one is a one-post manifesto over 29,000 words long. She says she converted to Islam in Saudi Arabia, and has serious (and I mean obsessively serious) issues over what she claims is her former conversion to Judaism:

I am from Los Angeles, CA, born into a Christian family, I converted to Judaism in 1995 and I denounced Judaism in 2004 and became Agnostic. While living and working in Taif, KSA I read the Qur'an and embraced Islam and converted on December 11, 2007. On January 5, 2008, I was walking in the mountains of Taif, KSA wondering what I would tell my Jewish daughters to convince them to embrace Islamic Monotheism and become Muslims as I did.

While surprisingly literate, her writing is so logically incomprehensible that only a schizophrenic soothsayer (or maybe a stoned Koran scholar) could make sense of it, and there is no way to know whether any of what she says is true, or for that matter whether she believes what she says. She calls President Bush's statement that Islam's teachings "are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah," "a lie against Allah," and explains why:

Mr. President, Allah warns you to stop ruling over His slaves with oppression and tyranny and to cease in your worship of the false Jew god [Jesus] or He will destroy America, as it is written in the following Verse of the Qur'an.:
(And never will your Lord destroy the towns [populations] until He sends to their mother town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses. And never would We destroy the towns unless the people thereof are Zalimun [polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, oppressors and tyrants.)
Mr. President, Allah orders you in the following Verse of the Qur'an to stop your unjust prosecution of Muslim charities, as in the case of the Holy Land Foundation Charity. This prosecution was prompted by unsolicited, falsified, reports given to you by the Israeli's. It is written:
(Those who defame such of the believers who give charity [in Allah's Cause] voluntarily, and such who could not find to give charity [in Allah's Cause] except what is available to them--so they mock at them [believers]; Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.)
Mr. President, Allah sends you an admonition and a final warning in the following Verses of the Qur'an. It is written:
(And they [the Messengers] sought victory and help [from their Lord {Allah}]; and every obstinate, arrogant dictator [who refuses to believe in the Oneness of Allah] was brought to a complete loss and destruction.)
(In front of him [every obstinate, arrogant dictator] is Hell, and he will be made to drink boiling, festering water.)
(He will sip it unwillingly, and he will find a great difficulty to swallow it down his throat, and death will come to him from every side, yet he will not die and in front of him, will be great torment.)
It was Allah who destroyed the ancient nations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Pompeii, Babylonia and Atlantis, etc. for their disbelief in Islamic Monotheism. These ancient nations worshipped false deities and when Messenger's came to them, they refused to believe in the Oneness of Allah [Islamic Monotheism] and continued their idol worship. Allah informs His slaves of the fate of these polytheist nations that came before us in the following Verses of the Qur'an.


Jesus was nothing more than a Messenger slave, sent by our Creator to warn the Children of Israel to worship Allah Alone. It is our Lord Who has sent me, to clear Jesus from the forgery of the Jews, that he is the son of Allah.

Why those clever diabolical Jews! They make it look as if they rejected the idea that Jesus was the son of God, when all along they were really creating the forgery that he was the son of the god of a religion that didn't even exist yet!

And even now, the sneaky Jews continue to deceive the Christians into thinking that they're going to trigger the Resurrection of the god they don't believe in!

It is to the Jews advantage and profit, to continue to deceive Christian Americans into believing that the Jews possession of the illegitimate "State of Israel" will hasten the "Day of Resurrection" while the Jews possession of Palestine, is actually delaying the "Day of Resurrection". The Jews ancient forgery of the infamous "...When the Jews return to Zion..." as a true sign that will precede the "Day", is the Jews only claim to Palestine, a false Biblical claim. Allah Owner of the Throne informs His slaves of the real sign that will precede the "Hour" in the following Verse of the Qur'an. It is written.
(The Hour will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, "O Muslim!" "There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.")

Should I wonder how many of these ideas are her own? Are we supposed to attribute them merely to insanity? There are countless references to the Koran. Does that matter?

She goes on to cite "absolute proof" of her theory -- in the form of Gar-Gar trees:

The evidence your Lord sends you as proof, is the undisputable evidence of the Gar- Gar trees, the Israeli's are planting Gar-Gar trees all over Israel and Palestine. This is a tree the Israeli's charge well meaning citizens of the world $25.00 per tree under the deceptive guise of "Plant a Tree, Bring Water to Israel" campaign.
(Verily, this! This is an absolute Truth with certainty.)
This is a tree that has sworn its allegiance to the Jews in the "Final Battle", in a time ago when the Jews bargained with devils. The Gar-Gar trees will give cover to Jews and not reveal them to the enemy in the "Final Battle". The Israeli's are planting Gar-Gar trees/weapons in Palestine, to enable them to enter enemy territory without fear. Owner of High Ranks and Degrees informs His slaves of the Jews bargaining with devils in the following Verse of the Qur'an.

The screed goes on and on about how the Jews "plan to prevail in the "Final Battle" by having America eliminate most of the enemy before the battle begins, and the use of the secret weapon, the Gar-Gar trees," and of course by promoting sodomy and abortion to ensure that Americans go to hell. Toward that goal, the "Jews use the government funded entity, ACLU as their front to get rich and condemn Americans to the Hell-fire."

Among many, many other things, the author says that Allah orders Bush to stop condemning the Holocaust, which was actually ordered by Allah out of retaliation for the Jews having deceived billions of Christians:

Mr. President, Allah orders you and all of His slaves to cease calling Mr. Hitler's six million good deeds, evil and a "Holocaust". It was Allah that "sent against them" [Jews] for their disobedience to Allah and the evils they commit against mankind. President Bush you lied against Allah when you made the following statement while visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, "...A sobering reminder that evil exists and a call that when we find evil we must resist it." Allah warns His slaves in the following Verses of the Qur'an of lying against their Lord. It is written:
(...And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely...)
("Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah will never be successful".)
Allah orders His slaves to destroy all of the monuments/museums dedicated to the six million dead Jews, these monuments satisfies the Jews "vain desires" and was set up in rival to the worship and remembrance of Allah. All worship and remembrance is for Allah Alone, not for the six million dead Jews who were recompensed for the billions of Christians they have deceived and condemned to the Hell-Fires in the Hereafter because of their worship of the false Jew god [Jesus].

Jews are behind illegal immigration, 9/11, and nearly everything else, and ther false god continues to lure millions of Christians to eternal hell:

If you continue to believe the deceitful Jews and die worshipping the false Jew god [Jesus], the Jews invented out of a "vain desire" for one of them to be worshipped as god, you will see your deceased Christian loved ones again, in fact you will share eternity in the Hell-Fire in the Hereafter with them, for the error of dying a polytheist.

Jewish control over everything is of course supreme:

The Jews control everything in America, including the calendars. They list only the Jewish religious holidays on calendars, such as Passover and Yom Kippur, etc. and the religious holidays associated with the false Jew god [Jesus], Christmas and Easter. The Jews purposely leave out the only real religious holidays, the two Eid holidays of Islamic Monotheism.
(And surely, the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it, and certainly, Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.)
The Jews are calculating that Christians won't be so resistant to being slaves of the Jews, if Jewish dominance is the natural order of things. Jews control the Military Industrial Complex, finance, the courts, they control everything in America that can generate money for them, including the media. Their control of the media is not random, this is an intentional and carefully orchestrated part of their "secret intentions", to control information and minimize the risk of exposure of their "secret intentions".

It just goes on and on and on. Without question, it is the longest and most obsessively anti-Semitic raving to which I have ever subjected myself.

I only hope that it is the original work of a lone loony tune and none of it reflects or is in accord with the thinking of people who might have supplied her with religious instruction, but I have no way to know.

Anyway, I am often accused of overanalysis, but if I tried to overanalyze this 29,034 word manifesto, I would be here for the rest of the month, and my taxes wouldn't get paid. Perhaps that would be part of the Jews' master plan. They are so sinister.

The following are going to Hell: President Hugo Chavez, Oprah Winfrey, Former President Jimmy Carter and Angelina Jolie, Hillary Clinton, and of course Barack Obama:

Barack Obama-Pro-Israel, Open Borders Proponent, Pro-Amnesty he was a believer in Islamic Monotheism and has offered Salat to Allah in Mosques as a child, but he is denying what he knows to be the truth, Allah is God and the only God. He is worshipping the false Jew god [Jesus] only for votes, trading the Hereafter for the life of this world. This man has sold his soul and purchased the Hell-Fire in the Hereafter, to become President of the USA.

The only people she likes are Ron Paul and Lou Dobbs.


It hurts because I kind of like them too.

And in what I take most personally as an admitted Pantheistic Pagan-Christian/Christian-Pagan, her second chapter is devoted to denouncing Christianity as "The Religion of the Golden Calf." Again, it's way too long to analyze, but the message is that we have all been duped to Hell by the Jooooos!

Americans have to face the reality that they are the victims of the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on man since his creation, a hoax perpetrated on them by the Jews, along with the unwitting assistance of Americans. Americans are worshipping a Jewish slave as god, while their loved ones are dying in wars in the Middle East, wars instigated by the Jews to protect them and their deception from discovery, until they can trigger the "Final Battle", a battle America is unknowingly arming them for, a battle in which the Jews plan to kill all they can and enslave all survivors. The reality of this saga is so surreal, that it possesses all the elements and horror of a Stephen King masterpiece.


I'm sure the Jews are behind Stephen King too. His unpatriotic anti-war statements are another clever trick, doubtless all scripted by the Jews.

Those awful Jews! I can't get away from having them control me, whether I'm a Christian, a pagan, or an ACLU-loving libertarian.

This whole thing is making me feel distinctly superstitious, and I blame the author -- not only of the schizoid screed, but the authors of everything!

And to think it was Glenn Reynolds' link that got me started down this dark of path of perdition with his remark about halal pig's feet.

Perhaps I need a rabbit's foot for luck.

Yes, that's it!

Rabbits are not kosher, but they are halal for Sunnis, and haram for Shia. There's an explanation:

It is because rabbit is one of the animals into which some of the disobedient mankind have been TRANSFORMED. In Arabic, the animal into which transformation has occurred is known as MANSOOKH. And to eat Mansookh animal is Haram

Probably why the Jews invented the Easter Bunny for disobedient Christians (by planting the demon seed of their seder eggs in the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring), and of course it explains why they invented that wicked Jew rabbit Bugs Bunny to corrupt disobedient children.

I like Bugs Bunny's pal (another Jew invention, of course) the best!


Had enough yet?

What more proof that I am yet another dupe of the evil Jooooos?

posted by Eric at 01:22 PM | Comments (7)

Grow till you glow!

"Perhaps we need to build nuclear power plants to keep the potheads happy."

Sounds like the sort of thing I might say if I wanted to give M. Simon a chuckle, but Clayton Cramer said it.

Potheads (more accurately, marijuana growers) are apparently using more than their fair share of electricity to grow the stuff, which Cramer sees as another reason to keep pot illegal. (Or perhaps build nukes!)

Meth cookers probably have a far worse environmental record, but I don't see that as much of an argument for or against drug relegalization (it might be the reverse); I just liked Cramer's remark about nukes. 

As to whether potheads and nuke-lovers should unite, I think it's worth noting that like nuclear radiation, marijuana also has the remarkable ability to both cause and cure cancer!

Which means that if you combine both, you double your chances.

Of something...

posted by Eric at 08:53 AM | Comments (6)

Catching The Wave
Sounds pretty amazing to me. According to Carnot the efficiency of an ideal engine is 1 - Tc/Th. Where Tc is the exhaust temperature and Th is the burning temperature (this is somewhat simplified). The temperatures are absolute (i.e. Kelvin scale in the metric system). The Wave Engine according to some designs operates at a peak temperature of 1070°K with an exhaust at 300°K (room temperature roughly). So what is the ideal efficiency for such an engine? 1 - (300/1070) multiplied by 100 to get percent. And the answer is almost 72%. So a practical realization giving 60% efficiency is not unreasonable. That is about 83% of ideal. Not bad. In fact very good.

Some geeks (not as geeky as me) have a few words to say.

Mueller envisions his wave disc motor powering a generator, making it an ultra-light ultra-efficient hybrid electric vehicle. That's a lot of ultras, but Mueller says he has the numbers to back it up. The wave disc apparently uses 60% of its fuel for propulsion, compared to 15% of fuel used for propulsion in conventional engines. And because the wave disc powered cars would be much lighter -- perhaps 20% lighter -- the fuel efficiency is even greater.

This all might seem very pie-in-the-sky, and that's quite understandable. However, Mueller's team has received $2.5 million in federal dollars from the Advanced Research Projects Administration - Energy (ARPA-E), which will be put towards creating a 25kw engine perhaps as early as next year. According to Mueller, that's enough power to run an SUV.

I'm hoping Mueller's checked his math on this, because I am very excited to have a car running on something as efficient as it is elegant.

Well I checked the math and it doesn't look out of the question. Some folks from Warsaw, Poland and Zurich, Switzerland [pdf] have checked the math with computerized flow simulations and think it looks pretty good. The concept goes back to at least 1906. So it is not a new idea. What is new is this particular realization. And of course we have computers for simulation and automated milling machines to make prototypes and small production volumes. Things not available in 1906.

Of course the engine is just the beginning. Once that is proved you have to design the whole hybrid drive train. And then you have to wrap an automobile around it. I don't expect to see them on the market as a production vehicle for about ten years. Unless some really big money (or the Japanese) get behind it.

Some more places to visit to get a handle on the technology:

Daily Tech

Green Cars

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:50 AM | Comments (8)

Sometimes, my eyes offend me....

In the interests of preserving what is left of my mental health, I need to find some way to avoid the temptation to click on links to things that irritate me. Sure, it's a minor irritation to see these Drudge headlines:


'Such pretty hair, you have'...


Nothing new there. Nothing that I have not blogged about before. And repeatedly expressed outrage about, as I did here:

...I have complained about invasive government searches in so many posts -- whether recent or old -- that it really is a broken record. I am just another libertarian who wants to impose my values on everyone by objecting to having an officer break into my home, shoot my dog, strip my clothes off and stick his fat finger up my ass.

And I even uploaded and linked this image showing a child attempting to impose his morality on TSA officers:


So because this is anything but a new issue, I could have left it at that and looked for something else rather than get all hot and bothered by clicking the Drudge link.

But for reasons that I cannot fully explain, click I did. Against my better judgment (a figure of speech meaning judgment I obviously lack). It was a tender hour of the morning and I was still on my first cup of coffee, and I should not have, because what I saw really pissed me off and I let loose with a torrent of obscenities which would get me fired were I in a workplace with a boss, or perhaps force me to resign public office were I a politician.

The video generated comments along similar lines, and once I calmed down enough to read them, I realized that what might appear to be an argument is not an argument at all, because people are arguing over two different issues. 

Some focus on the conduct of the employee (she is either a wicked pedophile, or someone doing her job). Others debate the propriety of subjecting a small child to invasive bureaucratic searches. 

Some examples:

EXCUSE ME, there is something very f[]cking wrong when you have an innocent child frisked because of a fake boggie man who lives in a cave. People keep saying they are just doing there job. An officer of the peace can't even do that to a random person. The whole time pilots and flight attendants laugh cause they are not subject to this crap. When it is your kid, will you have the same reaction??? NAKED bodyscanners are another thing because they exceed OSHA radiation safety levels. F-You BIG Sis!


She is doing her job as she must do to continue living and earning. Many terrorists try smuggle bombs or stolen or illegal cargo with children as few people would suspect a child. she was not molesting nor inappropriately touching her but simply checking that there were no concealed items being smuggled in. If you have ever been on an aeroplane then you can bet 100% that these procedures have saved YOUR life, though whether it was worth saving is debatable. If not for these prec


are you f[]cking serious, give me a single case where a terrorist smuggled bombs using a are dangerously stupid. "100% saved your life" many terrorists are there trying to low up planes you dumb f[]ck. You would be a Jew killer if alive in Nazi Germany, you take all the propaganda as facts and are so cowardly you allow your freedom and dignty to be taken from you. Disgraceful


F[]cking pedos..... -_- I'd move to Europe but then I'd have to go through this at the Airport.

It is a degrading experience, no question about it. And even though I don't have a child, I can easily understand that what would be worse than watching a video like that would be to have it happen to your child.

But still. After watching robotic cops shoot an innocent dog yesterday, perhaps I didn't need to wake up to the video of an innocent child being subjected to what was once reserved for accused criminals.

I already know this country is becoming an Orwellian nightmare, so maybe I should take better care of myself and engage in the sort of denial behavior I already use at the gas pump. I figured out that what upsets me is not so much knowing that the gas prices are becoming astronomical, but the emotional effect it has on me to see the actual numbers of the price I must pay displayed on the LCD screen. So, as a way of coping, I avert my eyes and simply refuse to look at the numbers on the upper screen while I fill my tank. Then, when I am asked on the lower screen whether I want a receipt, I push NO, get in my car, and drive away. Sure, I know the numbers will appear on my monthly credit card statement, but that does not have the same immediate emotional impact. Similarly, I know that the TSA grope-searches little children, that SWAT Teams shoot innocent family pets, and that government union activists behave like violent thugs.

So why, then, do I watch the videos? Do I need more evidence of what I already know?

I must be more irrational than I realize. If a head-in-the-sand approach is good for gas pump numbers that irritate me, why isn't it good for videos that irritate me? Both are digital images which make me squeamish in a way that no horror move could. (I like horror movies, but reality is different.)

So am I like the girls who averted their eyes when the dog was shot yesterday? Perhaps, but even that admission does not settle it.

Because I strongly suspect that there are plenty of people who would avert their eyes over a horrific video who would never avert their eyes at the gas pump. Horror is relative. One man's horror is another man's entertainment.

Outrage works the same way.


posted by Eric at 10:44 AM | Comments (2)

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Map

Commenter Jeremy at "Fukushima Update 14 April 2011" sent me via e-mail a link to the below map. And some supporting evidence. Links below for the source of the map and the supporting evidence.


The source of the map.

Why there is an exclusion zone around the other Fukushima plant.

The situation now is such that Tokyo is not in serious danger. Come the monsoons in June - August when the winds change the situation could change. In fact Japan could be cut in half by the radiation carried by those winds.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:30 AM | Comments (1)

More Fukushima 14 April 2011

I keep GMT so it is already 14 April for me.


Arnie Gundersen: The Myths Of Three Mile Island (video).

Dr. Steve Wing on the health effects of Three Mile Island (video).

A reevaluation of cancer incidence near the Three Mile Island nuclear plant: the collision of evidence and assumptions. This is an NIH document. The authors: are S Wing, D Richardson, D Armstrong, and D Crawford-Brown.

Results support the hypothesis that radiation doses are related to increased cancer incidence around TMI. The analysis avoids medical detection bias, but suffers from inaccurate dose classification; therefore, results may underestimate the magnitude of the association between radiation and cancer incidence. These associations would not be expected, based on previous estimates of near-background levels of radiation exposure following the accident.
I'm just starting to get a feel for all this but what it looks like to me is that internal exposure to radionuclides is more dangerous than commonly thought. discusses thyroid cancer from Chernobyl. The World Health Organization estimates 50,000 cases of thyroid cancer from that accident. Does this apply to the current accident? Probably.

Oh. Yeah. Government and Industry will lie to you when it is in their interest. But you already knew that. Didn't you?

Let me repeat my prescription for the future: I wouldn't build any new nuke plants until we get some much safer designs. I wouldn't shut down current plants until we have replacements on line (lack of electricity kills too). And I hope to hell Polywell Fusion can be made to work. Will it produce radioactive substances from neutron bombardment? Yes. But you can choose what kind of radioactives are made by choosing the materials used in the plant. With fission you are stuck with what nature gives you.

My earlier 14 April 2011 Fukushima Update.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:24 PM | Comments (6)


Dan Mitchell says the Obama plan for automatic tax increases when Congress overspends is a bad idea. At that rate the government will own us all before long. He has a counter proposal. There are more in the comments. I have one myself.

There is a better way: decimation.

If Congress and the President over spend put their names in an (electronic) hat and hang 10% of them. Live - Pay Per View. It might even raise significant revenue. At least it would pay for the hanging. Pay Go!

There is nothing like imminent demise to focus the mind.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:40 PM | Comments (3)

Balko on SWAT Teams. How the term "Police Militarization" slanders the military.

I'm back from Radley Balko's tour-de-force presentation about brutal SWAT Team raids (yes, they are inherently brutal), and the systematized militarization of police in America.

This was a large crowd of twenty-somethingish law students, and Balko began with this horrific video showing the police shooting a dog whose only crime was being owned by a man accused possessing a few grams of pot (something Balko pointed out was merely an infraction which drew a $200.00 fine).

The title is "Columbia Mo SWAT Raid 2/11/2010. Cops Shoot Pets With Children Present."

BTW, the poor dog whose agonized screams you can hear going on for some time as the despicable black-clad humanoids take their sweet time to finish it off happened to be a "pit bull" like Coco who never bit anyone, and the other was an equally dangerous Welsh corgi. Not that a little detail like the breeds of dogs shot for being in a house with a weed pipe should matter in itself, but I think it illustrates the total lack of any basic compassion or human empathy which results from men being trained and encouraged to act like mindless robots. The local police chief's primary response to the negative publicity was to say "I hate the Internet." It would appear that the feeling is mutual, although what happened in Columbia, Missouri goes on all over the country on a daily basis.

I only wish I could do something besides write blog posts, but I sometimes wonder whether the police who do these things are truly aware of the emotional effect the reports and videos have on ordinary people, and how deeply they end up being feared, held in contempt, and even hated.

Is that what they want? Are they so devoid of humanity that they no longer care?

As students gasped in horror (some of the girls looked away), I thought back to when I was in law school in the late 70s and early 80s, when this sort of thing was hardly known to happen.

As Balko pointed out (both in his lecture and here), the number of SWAT Team deployments has grown from a few hundred per year for extremely violent situations to the present 50,000 per year, mostly for non-violent situations:

Back in the 1970s, only big cities had SWAT teams, and they were used only in emergency situations such as bank robberies, barricades and hostage takings. But beginning in the early 1980s, that began to change. The federal government started taking the term "drug war" all too literally. Over the next 30 years, with federal funding and surplus equipment provided by the Pentagon, paramilitary police units, including SWAT teams and anti-narcotics task forces, started springing up all over the country. Criminologist Peter Kraska, who surveyed the use of those police teams from the 1980s until the 2000s, estimates that the total number of SWAT deployments across the country increased from a few hundred per year in the 1970s to a few thousand per year by the early 1980s to around 50,000 per year by the mid-2000s.

That this has become so numbingly routine ought to shock all of us. In fact, for those who care about whether the United States is still a free country, it ought to rank as one of the most important issues we face.

Balko cited a quote commonly attributed to Churchill

"Democracy means that when there's a knock in the door at 3 am, it's probably the milkman."

Of course, Churchill would have been thinking of the KGB, not SWAT Teams. The latter often don't knock at all; they simply break the door down under so-called "no knock" authority, and fire flash bang grenades. (As in the case of the Detroit raid in which a little girl was shot to death in Detroit.) 

And remember, these tactics have been implemented under the rubric of "search."

I know I sound like a broken record, but can anyone imagine what the founders of this country would say?

As Balko showed graphs and charts documenting the numbers of raids, the numbers innocent people who have been killed, (like 92 year old Kathryn Johnston), as he discussed the routine lying by police, and the lack of any right to self defense during a raid or real recourse later, I just found myself ashamed to be living in a country with so little respect for its own Constitution or human rights. 

And I kept wondering what it must be like to be a law student today and learn about what is going on.

No wonder so many young people are on the left. They don't know any better, and the right is seen as more "law and order" than the left. Which means more pro-SWAT team. Well, it's worth noting that the shooting of that family's pet Corgi in the above video did cause at least a lively debate among law and order Freepers.

But seriously, there is no denying that SWAT Teams and the militarized approach to law enforcement began in earnest under Ronald Reagan and were supported by him. And when a guy like Newt Gingrich who who wants Singapore-style executions of drug offenders is an actual contender for president, what else are young people to conclude?

I've said this before and I will say it again. If conservatism means supporting the drug war, I will never be a conservative.

I met Radley afterwards and spoke briefly to him about the ironic fact that shooting dogs draws more public anger than shooting people. Balko has coined the term "puppycide" and I'm glad he has. For even if you think drug suspects should be brutally raided in the middle of the night and shot, what crimes have these dogs committed? Perhaps the best hope of mobilizing society to do something about it will come from the animal rights movement (a pretty cynical thing to say, but hey, anything that works). As things stand now, there isn't much of a movement to do anything about the situation, and the police even produce television shows with celebrities glorifying police state tactics.

In another irony, Balko also pointed out that he has a friend in the military who is not happy with his characterization of what's happening as "militarization" of the police -- for the simple reason that American military personnel never conducts raids on people's homes that way. They are much more respectful lest innocent people be killed with American troops getting the blame. So, suspected enemies in war are treated more with care by our military than domestic pot smokers are by our police. 

The reason this goes on is that politicians love it and Congress funds it. With bipartisan support.

...the willingness of politicians to define drug prohibition policies in terms of war has had real consequences  namely, cops who approach drug law enforcement as if American streets were battlefields. Ronald Reagan once compared the drug war to the World War I battle of Verdun. Drug warriors have described the narco-carnage in Mexico as a positive sign. One Georgia sheriff recently likened his own anti-drug efforts to the invasion of Normandy.

The second factor driving the increasing use of SWAT teams is a federal policy that allows local police departments to procure surplus equipment from the Pentagon for free or at a fraction of its cost. Millions of pieces of equipment designed for war are now deployed to crack down on neighborhood poker games, illicit massage parlors, even businesses operating on outdated permits. Doctors accused of overprescribing pain medication have faced SWAT teams, as have Buddhist monks who overstayed their visas.

Other factors contribute to the promiscuous use of SWAT teams, including federal anti-drug grants and asset-forfeiture policies that specifically reward drug arrests and seizures to the exclusion of other crimes  all passed, funded and expanded with bipartisan support.

And of course, ever since the post-911 Homeland Security legislation, SWAT Teams act in the name of fighting terrorism.

It's sad to think that our best hope for some sort of policy change is that enough people will be upset by seeing dogs getting shot that they'll demand something be done.

The war on drugs has not made this country a better place. It's a "cure" that is far worse than the disease, except it isn't a cure, but a cancer.

In the form of SWAT Teams, a very malignant, rapidly spreading cancer.

MORE: Speaking of why young people are on the left, Glenn Reynolds had this observation in a WSJ editorial today about lowering the drinking age:

Republicans are supposed to stand for limited government, freedom and federalism, but it was under a Republican administration--and a Republican transportation secretary, Elizabeth Dole--that states were forced to raise their age limits or face financial penalties. That was before the tea party, though. Perhaps today, when Republican leaders across the board are singing the praises of limited government, it is time for them to put their money where their mouths are and support an end to the federal drinking-age mandate.

And if arguments based on fairness and principle aren't enough, perhaps one based on politics will do the trick: This will get votes.

Democrats traditionally do well with the youth vote, and one reason is that they have been successful in portraying Republicans as fuddy-duddies who want to hold young people down.

It isn't fair, because the Dems are fuddy-duddies too.

But only the Republicans are in a position to do something about it.

posted by Eric at 04:17 PM | Comments (6)

Lecture not to miss

If you're in Michigan, don't miss this event. Especially if you're an Ann Arbor Reasonoid like me.

This Wednesday, April 13th, at 12:15 pm, Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko will speak about police militarization at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. The speech will be at  625 S. State St. in room 220.

Balko's speech is sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Civil Liberties Union. It is open to the public.

I'm out the door now.


posted by Eric at 11:08 AM

When the stampede arrives, who you gonna call?

Earlier Drudge linked this story about feral hogs invading a Texas suburb.The citizens are apparently helpless, because they are not allowed to shoot the hogs, and the beasts have an uncanny ability to avoid traps and snares.

Feral hogs are on a rampage in a Fort Worth neighborhood, leaving a path of destruction behind.

Merely one day after landscapers fixed Jeanie Turek's yard, feral hogs hit it again.

"I had to call him again today and say, 'Can you come back? We've been hit again,'" she said.

The feral hogs didn't stop at Turek's yard; they also damaged neighboring yards in their overnight rampage.

Turek said she has to fix her lawn each time it happens or face steep fines from the River Bend Estate's Homeowner's Association.

These animals can be extremely dangerous, but so far it seems they have only caused property damage.

I have to say, I am glad I don't have to deal with stampedes in the middle of the night.

"It sounded like a stampede of cattle just running by the side of the house -- scared me," Turek said.

Feral hogs feed at night and look for grub worms, pecans, acorns and roots, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Turek called Fort Worth Animal Services but said the agency was little help.

"They told us that they didn't deal with wild hogs and so they told us to call the police department," she said.

Of course animal control is useless, and who could blame them? They're only there to enforce licensing laws, impound strays, and catch an occasional raccoon, not tackle dangerous wild animals the size of a wildebeest.

The police are afraid of them too and hide behind the usual bureaucratese. Professional trappers aren't much help either.

But Fort Worth police will only respond to such a call if the hog is on the premises.

It's illegal for residents to shoot a wild hog within city limits.

Turek called a trapper who told her it would not make sense to have one trap at one house. He then recommended she call her homeowner's association and ask  them to put traps in the entire neighborhood.

"You hardly ever trap them all," said Capt. Neal Bieler, a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden. "You may push them out of an area, and they may be gone for a year or two, and they could show up again."

The City Council is looking into ways to help homeowners keep feral hogs away because they have become a growing problem for the city.

But the council is concerned about how to fund a new program, as well as the amount of time it will take to implement it.

Turek said she is at a loss.

"We've got to have some help," she said. "We don't know what to do."

Well, I can offer one suggestion. When all else fails, it might be time to call in the pit bulls. For many centuries, they have excelled at hog hunting, and are called "catch dogs" by people in the business.

Catch dogs physically take hold of the boar, typically seizing the base of the boar's ear. Once the catch dogs have physical control of the boar, they will hold it down by the head indefinitely until the hunter arrives. The hunter then comes in from behind the boar, and dispatches the boar with a knife or spear. Catch dogs are typically "Bully" breeds such as the American Bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and other molossers such as the Boxer, Dogo Argentino, Cane Corso and smaller Mastiff crosses.

Here's a statue from the early 1900s:


And a 14th Century French miniature:


To most people, it's a gruesome thing to contemplate hunting hogs with dogs (to be fair, it is arguably more cruel than dog fighting), but there are people who specialize in breeding and training pit bulls for that express purpose, and I see no reason towns under invasion by feral hogs can't put "catch dogs" to use -- especially if all else has failed.

Here's a video showing catch dogs at work (which you are allowed to see thanks to the Supreme Court).

There are of course many people who find hunting hogs with dogs extremely objectionable and want to make it illegal.

Ever the politician, Coco cannot decide whether this is good PR for her breed.

My view is that hog hunting is an undeniable and important part of the breed's history, and they are still used for it, even if Coco is a more civilized urban girl who doesn't have to worry about boars stampeding through her yard. 

Still, the question remains. What are people supposed to do when feral hogs rampage? Call PETA for help?

posted by Eric at 10:33 AM | Comments (14)

Bee Stung

Today I was reading an interview with Thomas Sowell (via Glenn Reynolds) and it reminded me of the bee sting theory of poverty.

This is the theory that endemic poverty comes about because people are laboring under so many other crushing, egregious burdens, that they can't handle one more thing.  Say, they're discriminated against and illiterate and not allowed to own land.  Even the most trivial of bad luck will make them desperately poor.

This of course is in complete contradiction to Thomas Sowell theory that the way to avoid poverty is to finish highschool, get married and stay married.

And the truth, I'd say, lies somewhere between. Oh, of course I am in closer agreement to Thomas Sowell. And the idea that what causes poverty is "multiple societal burdens" and other poppycock is... poppycock. If being discriminated against or hated or regulated to the nth degree or what have you then all European Jews would still be crushingly poor and uneducated.

Continue reading "Bee Stung"

posted by Sarah at 09:52 PM | Comments (39)

Fukushima Roundup - 12 April

Here are some links to keep you up to speed on the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Interview With A Site Cleanup Worker - He talks about a worker only being able to turn three bolts before exceeding the allowable radiation dose. - Note you may have to use a browser other than Firefox to watch the video. I couldn't get it to work for me. IE (ugh) worked fine.

TEPCO aerial drone - The whole site is very good and not prone to hysteria. When he gets numbers that don't seem right he fact checks.

Cryptome - A repository of all kinds of stuff including some really good Fukushima site pictures. Fairly well organized. Just go down the list (organized by date with good descriptions) and pick what you want.

IAEA Fukushima Accident Log updated daily.

Radiation Readings In Japan organized by prefecture. Thanks to Charlie Martin for this one.

EPA Radiation Monitoring - Radiation in the air, in the drinking water, in the rain, in the milk. For the USA. I believe 3 pCi per liter is the US limit. The moral for this week? Don't drink the rain water. And pregnant women and children might want to avoid the milk in some regions. And if you live in Hawaii? I'd get all my food and water from the mainland if I lived there. Maybe not right away. But definitely something to keep an eye on.

ex-SKF - A little on the paranoid side (maybe just cautious), but he reads Japanese and translates items of interest. Tends towards rational libertarianism in politics. i.e. if America stops being a superpower who will fill the power vacuum and how big a war will it take?

Radiation Dose Chart what a given dose means in terms of normal background radiation and allowable limits.

Fairewinds Associates - Arnie Gunderson - the link goes to the videos. You can get to the rest of the site from there.

Radiation Aerial Survey Maps of Japan - US Gov

Monsoon Wind Patterns.

In most years, the monsoonal flow shifts in a very predictable pattern, with winds being southwesterly in late June, bringing significant rainfall to the Korean peninsula and Japan. This leads to a reliable precipitation spike in July and August. However, this pattern occasionally fails, leading to drought and crop failure. In the winter, the winds are northeasterly and the monsoonal precipitation bands move back to the south, and intense precipitation occurs over southern China and Taiwan
If we get the normal monsoons this year and the reactors at Fukushima are still spewing.....

If you know of any other sites that should be on the list send me an e-mail or leave the url in the comments. Bare urls (no HTML) are OK - I'll fix them for the post.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:20 PM | Comments (3)

What we eat, where we live, and how we raise children is up to THEM!

This sort of thing is getting as outrageous as it is predictable. 

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

So the rule is no more bag lunches!

Not that it makes any difference because I don't have kids, but if I had kids I honestly know what I would do. I certainly agree with Glenn's assessment:

More and more, it seems like parental malpractice to let your kids go to public schools, where they seem to be viewed as state property, and guinea pigs for social experimentation.

While it is very easy for libertarians like me to proclaim that busybody bureaucrats like Ms. Carmona have no right to tell parents what to feed their kids, the whole thing touches on a larger unresolved problem.

Carmona arguably believes, passionately, that she is right. Children should eat those foods she considers correct, and they must be made to -- any parental concerns to the contrary notwithstanding. Of course, I said "arguably" because I couldn't help notice a hint that there might just be something other than morality involved:

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district's food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

But let's be nice and assume for the sake of argument that Carmona is not only a morally virtuous person uncontaminated by any personal motives, but that she is right. That making sure children eat the right foods is the right thing to do, but that some parents are not up to the task.

Well, even if we assume "rightness," who, then, has the right to tell these parents how to raise their children? In short, who has the right to tell other people what to do? As it is impossible for all people to agree on what is the right thing to do in every situation, the question of "what is the right thing to do?" is subordinate to who has the power to command that people do what is right.

Might makes right.

But we live in a democratic republic where power is supposed to be limited, and where people in theory cannot tell us what to eat, what to buy, where to live, or how to raise our children. These are not questions for government. Yet clearly, some people think they should be, and some government officials (or fat-salaried administrators like Ms. Carmona and her staff) are going ahead and using their power to enforce them -- especially in urban areas where people are concentrated together, making control of the masses an easier task.

Those who don't like it vote with their feet by moving if they can afford to. Suburbs offer a form of escape for a variety of reasons. Governments are weaker, smaller, and less expensive. The fact that they are newer means they are not as likely to be saddled with legacy debt like the devastating public pensions that contractual obligations require even totally broke cities like Detroit to pay their former city employees who are happily retired in Florida. 

That the people who can afford to flee can still do so legally is very upsetting to the people who want to keep them concentrated in urban areas where they can be controlled. So they have tried to sell everyone on this idea that "sprawl" is not right. That it is evil, as it threatens the environment. At the core of a recent anti-sprawl screed from the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy is the idea that it is inherently wrong for people to move away from cities to the countryside.

Battleground of the New Millennium

Back in the 1960s, when everyone seemed to be blaming everyone else for our environmental problems, the comic strip character Pogo was created with an astute observation. He said simply, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Pogo's statement certainly applies very well to urban sprawl, that phenomenon characterized by massive subdivisions, strip malls, industrial parks, and snarled traffic where farms, woods, and wildlife used to be. Suburban overgrowth has become a national headache not because of the work of evil-doers, but rather as a direct result of American Culture. All of us had a hand in causing it, and it will take all of us to fight effectively.

The stakes are high for wildlife. While there are laws that generally keep urban sprawl out of important wetlands and floodplains, the habitat that remains in the wake of "leap-frog" development is becoming too fragmented to support certain species. Indeed, biologists now consider habitat fragmentation one of southern Michigan's most serious wildlife management concerns.

The battle over urban sprawl is heating up. In the minds of many Americans, it appears to be taking precedence over other environmental issues like global warming, endangered species protection, and even air and water pollution. Across the nation, politicians are rallying against the problems of urban sprawl and 12 states have already enacted growth management laws. Vice President Al Gore has promised to make urban sprawl an important part of his "livability agenda" during the upcoming presidential campaign because he feels it is something voters can really relate to. Recent polls seem to support this, but they also indicted that the public may be reluctant to accept some of the potential remedies.

Note carefully the parental tone. "The public" is being discussed in language suggesting people are like children who don't want to eat what's good for them.

While it is easy to attribute such thinking to government bureaucrats, it is important to note that the people who wrote this anti-sprawl piece also hold governments to blame -- especially local governments -- and scold them with a similar parental tone:

Intensive local representation warms the hearts of most Michiganders, but it makes serious consideration of urban sprawl - a regional problem - extremely difficult. We don't like to admit it, but our local governments don't always cooperate very well and some of our local officials have, at best, a limited understanding of land use issues. They know land use is important but have a difficult time formulating long-range plans while dealing with one crisis after another. There are elected officials that -despite a huge body of evidence to the contrary - think requiring large lot residential development helps fight urban sprawl and makes good economic sense for their area, whereas, in reality it exacerbates the problem (see above article for further explanation). Informing these decision makers is made more difficult by a high turnover among appointed as well as elected officials. Terms of less than six years are the norm, and newly-elected officials often come in with little background in land use control.

So they need to be "educated" about land use lest they continue to do things like allow that evil thing called development (aka "sprawl"). ("Elected officials need continual training and encouragement so they can make the best possible land use decisions." Hear hear!)

Likewise, ignorant voters like yours truly (I live in Washtenaw County) need to be better educated so we stop voting against tax increases to subsidize "purchase of development rights for agricultural land preservation":

...any meaningful attempt to curb urban sprawl will have to come at the local level and be weighted toward creating economic incentives rather than controlling growth to be politically viable. Taxpayers are not willing to fun a big bureaucracy at the state level, but would support land use planning at the local level. Most of the areas of Michigan that already suffer from the problems of sprawl are in the metropolitan Detroit, Grand Rapids and Traverse City areas. The sentiment of tax payers in more rural areas is that they should not be asked to help pay for problems that they don't believe affect them.

State leadership will be important if we are to channel growth wisely, but the real thrust of our efforts should be at the local level. Elected officials need continual training and encouragement so they can make the best possible land use decisions. The public must be educated about the wisdom of investing in open space preservation today, to save money in the future.

This is underscored by the current difficulties in obtaining support for local efforts to raise money for such programs. Washtenaw County voters recently rejected a tax increase, which would raise money for purchase of development rights for agricultural land preservation. It would have paid farmers for those rights while allowing them to continue farming the land. And a similar state program (paying farmers up to $5,000 per acre) has moved at a snail's pace, owing in part to lack of public support and funding from the legislature. Unfortunately, land prices have skyrocketed to the point where programs to purchase development rights might not be able to offer land owners enough where the programs are most needed. The longer we wait to invest, the more costly such programs will be.

Well, doh to that! The more valuable the land gets, the more it costs to acquire it. (And maintain and insure it.)

The so-called "conservancy easements" that are purchased at the taxpayers' expense generally involve the purchase of a farmer's development rights, and the creation of a "no development" easement running with the land (often with the land being declared off limits to the public). Yet they can always later be extinguished via the government's right of eminent domain at a later date, so it is deceptive to claim the land has been truly "conserved." If in ten years the county wanted sell the land so a Wal-Mart could be built there, it could just terminate the easement. Nice investment opportunity in growing areas I guess.

What I have noticed in driving around the countryside is that in many places, no sooner do you pass the county line than you see developments on former farmland. So Washtenaw County's tough approach to "sprawl" (probably along with their higher property taxes) appears to have created opportunities in nearby, but less "enlightened" counties. Governments want money, and the more valuable the land becomes, the more they tend to see it as a valuable revenue source of one kind or another. This is unlikely to change anytime soon, especially in a cash-strapped state like Michigan. 

As to what the anti-sprawl people would consider ideal, the piece cites the Portland model:

The most successful "smart growth" programs in the nation have all come at a price. Perhaps the most famous is in and around Portland, Oregon. There, the local metro council imposes a "growth boundary" outside of which undeveloped land is strictly protected. Although seemingly "un-American," this radical concept has been surprisingly popular with Portland voters, even as debate about its merit continues.

Portland is wealthy. I'd like to see them try the same thing with Detroit. The once booming city is already half evacuated and in ruins in many places, because those who could afford to flee fled. Which is why I'm not entirely sure the term "sprawl" (which implies growth outward) applies to Detroit.

But no doubt they want to fight it anyway. Keeping those bad people in the cities where they belong has a strong appeal to those already living in the suburbs.

Hmmm.... I wonder what percentage of the sprawl opponents are guilty of living the lifestyle they condemn.

Imagine being controlled by people who cannot control themselves!

I mean, if people who live in the countryside are telling people it is evil to live in the couhtryside, the next thing you know, fat teachers will be telling children what to eat. Racists will be calling people racists. Failed parents will be telling people how to raise children. Energy hogs will be telling people conserve energy. And so on.

I'm sure glad we don't live in a world like that!

posted by Eric at 01:57 PM | Comments (5)

If opinions have become truth, are skeptics becoming truth haters?

During one of his discussions of Chernobyl (the truths of which seem very much unsettled), M. Simon cited a source familiar to anyone old enough to remember the good old days of Cold War moral clarity.



While it still bears the commie logo, the editorial bias has changed.

Anyway, in response to M. Simon's citation, commenter Bill Johnson snarked as follows,

There is no truth in Pravda, no news in Tass.  Other than believing
Pravda, I like your articles on nuclear power.

Maybe go visit pravda, and see if you don't feel you've stepped into a
National Examiner world...

Pravda of course means Truth. But when Pravda is not Pravda does that mean Truth no longer truth? What if it never was and still isn't?

In an email to M. Simon last night I remarked on the irony of how Pravda was "lies" when it was a left wing government mouthpiece, and a "source" to some people now that it's a right wing anti-semitic rag.

In the context of Chernobyl, the "official" numbers have of course never validated by anyone, which means that Pravda can be cited as needed, depending on POV. (It would not surprise me if Pravda has run various and contradictory sets of Chernobyl figures over the years....) It is a stunning and unwanted reminder that "news" and "truth" are as relative as they ever have been, which makes skepticism the only avenue towards even approaching what may or may not be true.

It's easy to talk about truth, but the devil is in the verification.

I sometimes think it is sad that no sources can be trusted anymore, and all truth is relative to one's cause.

Not that a real skeptic should care, but there used to be trust in basic data. Increasingly, there is no basic data to trust.

If basic data is not there, that means that most of what we used to consider hard, factual truth will have been rendered simply matters of opinion. (The extreme skepticism over "scientific" data said to be global warming "evidence" as well as extreme skepticism over basic vital statistics are but two stark examples. Personal experience has made me become skeptical over Google road maps, which have directed me to roads that turned out never to have existed.)

Truth is opinion?

Just what I used to hate the Post-modernists for saying.

What could suck more than that?

posted by Eric at 09:14 AM | Comments (10)

Level Seven

The Nuclear Plant at Fukushima has just reached the inner circle of hell. Level 7. (well it is Japanese and I don't read that so good - like not at all) But you can go to Zero Hedge for a general outline. Here is what they have to say.

What started as less serious than Three Mile Island has just become as serious as Chernobyl, with the Fukushima disaster assessment having been raised to the highest, Level 7. From NHK: "For a series of accidents happening at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the Ministry of Economy, which released large amounts of radioactive substances that affect human health and the environment in a wide range As an assessment based on international standards of the accident, the worst "level seven" decided to raise. "Level 7" is the same as the evaluation occurred in the Soviet Chernobyl disaster. Nuclear Safety Agency, 12, held a press conference with the Nuclear Safety Commission has decided to publish the contents of the evaluation." Of course, due to the much greater concentration of people, and the far smaller land territory, should Japan continue to persist with "controlling" the crisis with the same success as it has over the past month, very soon a Level of 8 and/or higher may be required.
In other bad news for Japan and the Fukushima reactors they are widening the exclusion zone to 40 km (about 25 miles).
As had been anticipated for weeks, and frankly is criminally overdue, Japan has announced that it will expand the evacuation zone around Fukushima to areas beyond a 20 km (12.4 mile) radius to include villages and towns that have had more accumulated radiation, Japan's chief cabinet secretary said on Monday. "These regions could accumulate 20 millisieverts or more radiation over a period of a year," Yukio Edano told a news conference, naming Iitate village, 40km from the plant, part of the city of Kawamata and other areas. The news preceded the latest major 6.6 magnitude aftershock which shook buildings in Tokyo and a wide swathe of eastern Japan on Monday evening, knocking out power to 220,000 households and causing a halt to water pumping to cool three damaged reactors at Fukushima. " The epicentre of the latest quake was 88 km (56 miles) east of the plant and stopped power supply for pumping water to cool reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. The aftershock also forced engineers to postpone plans to remove highly contaminated water from a trench at reactor No. 2."
The plant continues to spew radiation at about 1/10th the peak rate. But that rate has been roughly steady for weeks. So the exclusion zone may not have reached its limit.

The video is a demonstration of how the fuel rods could fail. Cheery. That. If you have missed Arnie's previous videos you can watch them here.

Early estimates are that the reactor meltdowns will cost about $130 billion. Roughly half of what the whole disaster is expected to cost.

The March 11 earthquake, the nation's strongest on record, and tsunami left about 27,500 dead or missing, according to Japan's National Police Agency. The government has estimated the damage at 25 trillion yen ($295 billion). Tepco may face claims of as much as 11 trillion yen, according to one estimate.

Tepco is using emergency equipment to cool reactors damaged at the atomic station after backup generators were knocked out by the tsunami.

The utility is trying to remove highly contaminated water that's holding up efforts to get the cooling pumps working and prevent further explosions after blasts damaged reactor containment vessels, releasing radiation into the air and sea and tainting food.

Today's earthquake halted the pumping of contaminated water from the No. 2 reactor, Tepco said.

Of course there is much more at the link. And none of it good.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:57 AM | Comments (4)

TEPCO: Accident Likely Worse Than Chernobyl

Note to my readers: I like to post here at Classical Values only the most reliable reports and speculations. Well as reliable as possible given that it is breaking news. I do use My Naval Nuke Reactor Operator training to filter as much as I can. I also use as a filter the Emperor's evaluation of the situation at the end of WW2:

"...the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage..."

That given, if you are interested in some of my wilder speculation, unconfirmed reports, and in some cases out right craziness, visit my other blog: Power and Control, where you will find a lot of material not posted here. I recommend it only for the truly paranoid or those seeking entertainment. Now for the latest report.


TEPCO has just made an URGENT announcement.

The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it is concerned that radiation leakage at the plant could eventually exceed that of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

''The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that the amount of leakage could eventually reach that of Chernobyl or exceed it,'' an official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that most of the radioactive material released in the air from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant came from the No. 2 reactor damaged by an explosion on March 15.

Just as I suspected. TEPCO (why do I keep thinking PETCO?) says that so far the releases are only 10% of the Chernobyl release. So what does that tell you? It tells you that they do not expect to get things under control for at least a year. Possibly longer.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:43 AM | Comments (3)

A small step on the road to restoration of independence?

In a piece Glenn linked titled "Big government on the brink," Robert Samuelson points out that Americans are more dependent on the government than they realize:

Few Americans realize the extent of their dependency. The Census Bureau reports that in 2009 almost half (46.2 percent) of the 300 million Americans received at least one federal benefit: 46.5 million, Social Security; 42.6 million, Medicare; 42.4 million, Medicaid; 36.1 million, food stamps; 3.2 million, veterans' benefits; 12.4 million, housing subsidies. The census list doesn't include tax breaks. Counting those, perhaps three-quarters or more of Americans receive some sizable government benefit. For example, about 22 percent of taxpayers benefit from the home mortgage interest deduction and 43 percent from the preferential treatment of employer-provided health insurance, says the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Fortunately, because many people subscribe to the fiction that they have "paid in" to Social Security and are "getting it back," many Social Security recipients tend not to see themselves as tax eaters. But they're all in the same corrupt pot. We are nearing the point where the government giveth and the government taketh away -- everything we have.

I'm fascinated by the idea that Samuelson would even propose including "tax breaks" within the rubric of government largesse, because a tax deduction does not give anyone anything; it merely allows him to keep more of what he earned. 

OTOH, perhaps the idea is to make as many people as possible feel indebted to the government, and in that regard, whatever people are allowed to keep may come to feel like government generosity to hard-pressed taxpayers. Especially to conventional wage-earners whose taxes are withheld from their paycheck. What I have long thought would do much to restore the American spirit of independence would be to eliminate tax withholding altogether. Let employers pay people whatever they earned, and leave the duty to them to have to write a check in the proper amount to the IRS on April 15 of every year. They would be a lot more concerned about where their tax dollars are going, and it would lead to change. As things are now, vast hordes of pathetic dupes don't think they're paying taxes at all, and most of them see the refund of what they overpaid as a gift from the government!

Even the Treasury Department makes this damning admission about tax withholding:

This greatly eased the collection of the tax for both the taxpayer and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. However, it also greatly reduced the taxpayer's awareness of the amount of tax being collected, i.e. it reduced the transparency of the tax, which made it easier to raise taxes in the future.[2]

I find it maddening that people can be that stupid. But it's evidence that they are. 

Samuelson concludes,

All the partisan skirmishing over who gets credit for averting a shutdown misses the larger issue: whether we can restore government as an instrument of progress or whether it remains -- as it is now -- a threat.

It isn't the country that's the problem, it's the government.

It might still be possible to correct the problem at least in part, which is why I like the Tea Party approach, and see it as the next best thing to what would happen if Congress were to repeal tax withholding by employers. (Yes they can.)

Call it the Taxation Transparency And Individual Responsibility Act. I'd love to see someone run for office with a pledge to introduce such bill, because no one in Congress today has the balls to do it.

I hate to say this because it will sound elitist, but I have long been able to spot a difference in attitudes between guys who work in the construction trades (this probably applies to other occupations and professions) who are self employed and those who are employed by others. The guys who get a regular paycheck from some company (especially those who are working for the government) are usually in far less of a hurry to get to work, more likely to look for an excuse not to work, while the self employed tradesmen do not waste time. I have seen it when I have hired and worked with people, and I can even see it in the way they drive. Obviously, this is another generalization, and it does not apply to everyone. Just as there are many industrious employees there are no doubt many slothful self employed contractors. The difference is that the latter tend not to make it. Those who have what is called "job security" are simply not as motivated as those who do not.

Perhaps if they were actually given all the money they earn and told their taxes were now their own responsibility, they would behave differently.

Either that or they'd start a revolution on April 15.  

UPDATE: Well I'll be damned. I take back what I said about no one in Congress having balls. Rep. Virginia Foxx has introduced H.R. 918 -- the Federal Withholding Tax Repeal Act of 2011


The purposes of this Act are--

(1) to increase transparency and accountability in the Federal tax system by providing the public with a more accurate account of--

(A) the annual tax burden; and

(B) the Federal budget deficit;

(2) to decrease the overall tax burden and increase the personal wealth of taxpayers by allowing for the personal collection of interest during the fiscal year on overpayments that are otherwise used by the Federal Government to partly avoid interest payments;

(3) to decrease the burden on employers by freeing them from the task of collecting income tax withholding from their employees; and

(4) to end the deceptive practice of masking higher tax rates from taxpayers.


(a) In General- The following provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 are hereby repealed:

(1) Section 3102 (relating to deduction of social security tax from wages).

(2) Section 3202 (relating to deduction of railroad retirement tax from compensation).

(3) Chapter 24 (relating to income tax withholding).


Again, wow. That is the sort of thing that might be able to save the American spirit of independence.

Imagine if the bill were ever to become better known and started to pick up genuine support. It would put the left in the embarrassing position of having to admit publicly that they think working people are inherently incapable of taking care of themselves and managing their own financial affairs. 

The neatest thing about the bill is that it is so short. Instead of the usual thousands of pages, it is a mere 1,127 words -- which means that every member of Congress can actually read it, most in less than five minutes!

I'd like to see them pass it without any further delay. We may not be able to fully regain our lost independence, but H.R. 918 is a good first step.

posted by Eric at 05:30 PM

What If There Is No Solution?

Food prices are going through the roof for basic commodities. This is causing instability in many places around the world. Spengler says there may be no solution.

From the Straits of Gibraltar to the Hindu Kush, instability will afflict the Muslim world for a generation, and there is nothing that the West can do to stop it. Almost no-one in Washington appears to be asking the obvious question: what should the United States do in the event that there are no solutions at all?

No one, that is, but US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius March 22 that "the unrest has highlighted 'ethnic, sectarian and tribal differences that have been suppressed for years' in the region, and that as America encourages leaders to accept democratic change, there's a question 'whether more democratic governance can hold ... countries together in light of these pressures'." The implication [Ignatius writes]: ''There's a risk that the political map of the modern Middle East may begin to unravel too, with, say, the breakup of Libya.''

Well we used to know how to handle these problems. And it was ugly.
In the bad old days of imperialism, the rapacious Europeans looted their colonies, and sometimes, though no fault of their own, left them in better condition than they had found them. That is not true everywhere; in the Congo, the kings of Belgium left nothing but a trail of pain.

India, though, was first unified by the British, who gave it a civil service, the example of a parliamentary system, a railroad system, and a national language; although the British interest in the subcontinent was predatory not philanthropic, India benefited in some respects from the Raj. The British, rather like Goethe's devil, were the spirit that always wanted to do evil but at least sometimes did good.

His outlook for the future is quite gloomy.
As I said of Egypt in my February 2 essay: we do not know what kind of state will follow Basher Assad. We only know that it will be a failed state.
Well what about Imperialism? Maybe we should bring it back. This article from October 2001 makes that argument.
America has no alternative but to wage war against states that habitually aid terrorists. President Bush warns the war may be long but he has not, perhaps, yet grasped that America may have to accept long-term political obligations too.

For the nearest historical parallel -- the war against piracy in the 19th century -- was an important element in the expansion of colonialism. It could be that a new form of colony, the Western-administered former terrorist state, is only just over the horizon.

Significantly, it was the young United States that initiated this first campaign against international outlaws (most civilized states accepted the old Roman law definition of pirates as "enemies of the human race").

It makes me think of Somalia in the current age. Which brings to mind another thought. Should we consider Islam in some of its forms "the cult of the pirate"?

I want to raise the Google score of that phrase so I'm going to repeat it:

Islam is the cult of the pirate.

Pass it on.

Back to Imperialism.

Pirates were the main reason Congress established a navy in 1794. In 1805, American marines marched across the desert from Egypt, forcing the pasha of Tripoli to sue for peace and surrender all American captives -- an exploit recalled by the U.S. Marine Corps anthem: "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli."

It was reinforced in 1815 when Commodores Stephen Decatur and William Bainbridge conducted successful operations against all three of the Barbary States, as they were called.

This shamed the British into taking action themselves, and the following year Admiral Lord Exmouth subjected Algiers to what was then the fiercest naval bombardment in history -- 38,667 rounds of cannon balls, 960 large-caliber shells and hundreds of rockets. However, these victories were ephemeral. The beys repudiated the treaties they were obliged to sign as soon as American and British ships were over the horizon.

It was the French who took the logical step, in 1830, not only of storming Algiers but of conquering the entire country. France eventually turned Algeria into part of metropolitan France and settled one million colonists there. It solved the Tunis piracy problem by turning Tunisia into a protectorate, a model it later followed in Morocco. Spain, too, digested bits of the Barbary Coast, followed by Italy, which overthrew the pasha of Tripoli and created Libya. Tangiers, another nuisance, was ruled by a four-power European commission.

So colonialism was in part a response to piracy. But colonies are expensive and hard to manage.

In any case just mounting punitive expeditions doesn't solve the problem.

Britain had learned from experience that "covenants without swords" were useless, and that the sheikhs would only stick to their treaty obligations if "enforcement bases" were set up.

Hence Britain found itself becoming a major power in the Middle East, with a colony and base in Aden, other bases up and down the Gulf, and a network of treaties and protectorates with local rulers, whose heirs were educated at the British school of princes in India.

The situation in South-East Asia and the Far East was not essentially different. Amid the countless islands of these vast territories were entire communities of orang laut (sea nomads) who lived by piracy. Local rulers were too weak to extirpate them. Only the Royal Navy was strong enough.

But that meant creating modern bases -- hence the founding of Singapore. That in turn led to colonies, not only Singapore but Malaya, Sarawak and Borneo. The Dutch had been doing the same.

So piracy led to colonialism. That is something I never learned in history class. Evidently no one notified Howard Zinn either.

So what will the US be doing in those areas for the next few decades?

America and her allies may find themselves, temporarily at least, not just occupying with troops but administering obdurate terrorist states.

These may eventually include not only Afghanistan but Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Syria. Democratic regimes willing to abide by international law will be implanted where possible, but a Western political presence seems unavoidable in some cases.

I suspect the best medium-term solution will be to revive the old League of Nations mandate system, which served well as a "respectable" form of colonialism between the wars. Syria and Iraq were once highly successful mandates. Sudan, Libya and Iran have likewise been placed under special regimes by international treaty.

Countries that cannot live at peace with their neighbors and wage covert war against the international community cannot expect total independence.

I might go a little farther and not allow them any independence. To start. Gradually as the colonies become prosperous and a moderately honest civil service is formed the reigns can be loosened. But to allow them to go slack prematurely (as was done in far too many places post WW2 - at America's insistence I might add) would be a grave mistake.

So let me add another phrase to finish this post off:

Islam is the cult of outlaws and pirates.

Pass it on.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:57 PM | Comments (3)

Why you might get more of what you try to stop

One of the many annoyances these days consists of spam text messages on cell phones. The worst is so called bulk SMS "short code" spamming, because many of these orginate from crooked providers from all over the world who, because of inherent flaws in the system (as well as lawsuits based on "free speech") are simply allowed to spam anyone they want. (As I pointed out earlier, "free speech" rights for purveyors of unwanted trash seems to be the dominant trend, which does not bode well for any hope of controlling spam.)

I have gotten a couple of very annoying short code messages recently, so I called my cell phone service provider in the hope of blocking them. Now, for reasons I will explain I am reluctant to block any specific short codes; I want to block all short codes. Blocking short codes is a service Verizon offers if you pay more, but I am not a Verizon customer so I can't order it. And even if I could, there is something annoying about having to pay extra for a "service" that simply blocks spam you shouldn't be getting anyway.

No one -- and I mean no one -- wants SMS short code spam from sleazy, dishonest third world operators, but unfortunately, they have a right to send it, because they pay for the damn short codes. And IMO, the cell phone companies allow it because they are getting their cut. Believe it or not, these SMS short code spammers are actually called "service providers." That's right; a spammer can pay to get a short code (here's a how to web site), and then just start spamming. (There is of course software designed for "for your email marketing campaigns.")

To add insult to injury, these sleazy networks are called "marketing services."  (I guess the money you would have to pay to block them they would probably be called "opting out of the market.") 

To add further insult to further injury, unlike ordinary spam, you get to pay for the privilege of having this trash wake you up in the middle of the night and clutter up your cell phone. 

Neat trick. So where are the lawyers now that we need them?

I have been inundated with spam long enough to know that trying to fight it can actually make it worse, because by fighting it you tend to identify yourself. Remember, spambots are often on random fishing expeditions, with over 90% of their targets being non-existent. There are only so many permutations of telephone numbers, so if the spam robots spam a few hundred hundred thousand random numbers, they are certain to "hit" a substantial number of real numbers.

Anyway, my suspicions were aroused by the nature of the messages I received directing me to inoperable website addresses, with urls that trace to defunct Ukrainian accounts. So, the first reaction of a normal person might be to wonder, why would anyone go to the trouble of sending spam that tries to get people to visit a non-existent web site? 

The answer, I suspect, is that they don't even want you to visit the website, or if they do, it is only so that you will become annoyed, and do what the people complaining at the "SMS watchdog" site have done, and attempt to block the originating short code. If you block it, the spambot will then know your number is legitimate, and then the real spam begins. Hence, all those poor clueless people complain about how they can't make it stop by blocking it.

The moral lesson is that when you're dealing with SMS spam, trying to block it can make it worse. When robots are designed to identify you, you help them when you identify yourself.

You might think that the cell phone providers would warn their customers about this, but they don't.

posted by Eric at 10:47 AM | Comments (3)

A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time

I am in a hurry today, so I have no time for a long and thoughtful post.

However Sarah emailed me a link to a humorous article which is simply not, um, "family friendly" enough to be quoted at length in this blog.

I didn't know what to do with it, until I saw this post by Ann Althouse which included a poll about knee socks. The last time I looked at the poll, it said this:

Knee socks? On a grown woman?  
Selection   Votes 
Yes, there are many ways to wear knee socks charmingly.  23% 428 
Yes, if you're just the right person, with just the right style, like her.  31% 587 
Yes, but only if your skirt is super-long and no one can see they're not tights.  6% 113 
No. This is bad. Stop kidding yourself, ladies.  41% 771 
1,899 votes total 


For some context, the poll specifically referenced this picture:


And I have to confess that I was in a hurry, so I answered the poll without looking at the picture. I don't mean to judge anyone's tastes, but in fairness, I think good case can be made that the woman above is kidding herself. Perhaps it's the colors, and perhaps the shoes, but my personal opinion is that something does look ridiculous about those knee socks. She might even be what they call a "fashion victim." (If she is, perhaps we should be feeling sorry for her.)

But would it be fair to generalize about all knee socks simply on the basis of some knee socks?

How about these knee socks from the piece Sarah sent me?


Here's the caption:

"Yes, honey, that's great. Play Space Invaders with my wang. I just have to catch my breath here. Yes, sure, use it like a gear shift and make race car noises. That will be a fun activity for you while I wait for the feeling to come back to the lower half of my body."

While I can't be sure, I strongly suspect that had the above girl been the subject in the Althouse poll, the results might have turned out differently. 

Just trying to be fair and objective, and inject a little gratuitous immoral relativism.

And NO, I am NOT accusing Ann Althouse of advocating jihad!

MORE: Commenter Kizmet reminded me that I shouldn't be sexist. And while it's probably irrelevant to Ann Althouse's poll, I was reminded of the knee socks in John Edwards' very fashionable summer outfit:


I wouldn't recommend that as prison wear, though.

posted by Eric at 12:57 PM | Comments (10)

People Are Not Rational

There is a lot of back and forth going on about nuclear power. The advocates say it is plenty safe and there are others who say radiation scares me and I don't think nukes are safe at all.

Let us think about it in terms of "fear of flying". By objective criteria (compared to automobiles) airplanes are 10X safer than they need to be. But without that extra margin of safety the customer base might be 1/2 of what it is. That is reality. We should accept that same reality for nukes. Yeah it sucks. But that is what people want. We can give it to them. So why don't the pro nuke folks quit bitching about the irrationality of it all and just work harder to give those folks what they want?

When nukes are safe enough to get private insurance I think the acceptance of nuclear power will be much easier for the whole population. Plus if they had to be privately insured they would be much safer. And political influence (which leads to moral hazard) would have no bearing on the game. Get rid of the NRC and put something like the UL in charge. With a deal like that everyone has skin in the game. That is how you keep the game honest.

Personally I like this criteria for nuclear safety:

The ongoing Fukushima Daiichi disaster is naturally making many people wonder about the safety of nuclear power. It's a good illustration of how unexpected failures happen in practice, and also shows how Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is a fundamentally safer approach. When building a reliable system, you must assume it will fail. Regardless of how many layers of safety you build into something, what really determines its fundamental safety is what happens if all safety systems fail at once. For a nuclear facility, aside from specifically hardening against disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist-flown airplanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, malicious actors, etc., you must also make a fundamental engineering assumption that it will melt down. No matter how improbable you think you've made it for a meltdown to occur, the most important feature of any nuclear facility is what happens when a meltdown does occur. And not only that, but there should be contingency plans for what happens when the plant is hit with God's flyswatter, not because such a thing is likely or even possible, but because you can't really be too paranoid about engineering for such scenarios.
It seems like that design philosophy would bring a lot more people on board and only leave a few cranks howling at the moon.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:05 AM | Comments (4)

No Biorobots For Japan

You can see the whole video the excerpt was taken from at my Gorbachev - Chernobyl Did It post. This article explains why "biorobots" were necessary.

Describing the horrific event and its immediate aftermath, Russia's Pravda (April 26) said: "The nuclear reactor was burning for ten days. The people who were trying to extinguish the fire were referred to as 'biorobots' because they were working in the places where machines turned out to be useless. Thirty of Chernobyl liquidators died on the spot, hundreds of others suffered from cancer afterwards. Almost 18,000 people, including children, died within the 20 years after the tragedy."
So 18,000 deaths from Chernobyl is the official Russian number. Which is contrary to the small numbers usually cited by passionate nuclear power advocates. I'm a nuclear advocate myself but somewhat more measured. So is the 18,000 number credible? Who can say? However this article explains why it might be correct. And why the Soviets might have tried to cover up the truth at least until now.

That was history. My friend Eric of Classical Values sent me this article on the Japanese Plans for cleaning up Fukushima.

"We will not bury the site while radioactive materials remain. We will definitely remove the fuel," Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) adviser Toshiaki Enomoto told the Mainichi in an interview, stressing that the company would not bury the reactors in concrete in a "stone tomb" approach like the one adopted at Chernobyl.

TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata has announced plans to decommission the plant's No. 1 through 4 reactors. Normally it takes 20 to 30 years to decommission a reactor, but the process at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is expected to take even longer as workers must start by developing specialized equipment to remove damaged fuel.

That equipment will have to be radiation hardened which means shielding and special radhard electronics. The Japanese build satellites and anyone who builds satellites has experience with radhard electronics. The electronics will need to be modular because even radhard electronics fail with enough radiation exposure. What radhardening does is give you more time. In fact everything that uses electricity on the robots will have to be modular because radiation even attacks most electrical insulation. Teflon insulated wires (more expensive and more susceptible to mechanical stress) are used in high radiation environments for that very reason. I first learned how to use and solder Teflon wire during my stint in the Nuke Navy.

Back to the article on Japan. They think they will have a handle on the current cooling problems in a few months.

Enomoto said that for the time being the ongoing process of injecting water into the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors at the plant was essential.

"There is no other option but to inject water. We want the fuel to stop melting," he said.

The plant's residual heat removal system could take a month to get up and running again, Enomoto said. An additional cooling system will also be constructed but it is expected to take several months before the reactors can be brought to a cold stop.

A facility to purify contaminated water responsible for radioactive leaks to a level where it can be released will be constructed from this month. At the same time measures will proceed to have radioactive material contained within the reactor buildings within a few months, Enomoto said. At this stage, evacuation orders applying to local bodies around the plant are expected to be reviewed.

Let me see if I can translate the above. Yes they must keep cooling the plants to limit the amount of radiation in the air. On the other hand they must find a place to store all that radioactive water. So far I have seen no plan for that. No plan to erect a tank farm. No plan for barges and tankers which might have problems from future tsunamis as would a tank farm. So where is a months worth of water going to go? And that assumes they keep to their proposed time line. If it takes longer they will have more water waiting for disposal.

And a residual heat removal system presupposes intact pluming to circulate the fluids. That is probably not something you can count on for reactors #1, #2, and #3. Plus spent rod pools #1, #2, #3 and #4. So he may be blowing some smoke with that little story.

Enomoto said nuclear fuel at the plant could not be removed using conventional methods for two reasons: The reactor buildings are damaged, and measures are needed to prevent the spread of radiation; and 25 to 70 percent damage has occurred to the fuel rods in the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors. New methods to remove the fuel must be developed, and it will take 10 years before workers can start removing fuel, he said.

Commenting on TEPCO's response to the disaster, Enomoto said, "Problems that we had not predicted happened one after another. Even inspecting the site has been difficult, and this accumulation of events has been responsible for the work not going as we have hoped."

I'm reminded of what the Emperor of Japan said at the end of WW2. "...the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage..." Ah. Yup. If they had used a design something like this one they could have avoided this mess. So when he says the accident was unforseen all he means is - "we were not looking".

They are going to have to develop the special robots and that is going to take time. For one thing radhard components in the quantities needed may not be available off the shelf. Especially true given the current shut down of a LOT of the Japanese semiconductor industry. And everything will need to be designed to be hosed down to get the externals of the robots sufficiently cleaned to perform maintenance. Or else they will have to design robots to maintain the robots. The problems could multiply as they get experience.

Essentially what the Japanese are doing is exchanging land for people and time. The longer Fukushima remains a spewer of radiation the more land that will have to be declared an exclusion zone. Is it a good trade off? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure the masses of people who would otherwise have been drafted as biorobots will live a lot longer.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:33 PM | Comments (6)

The Thorium Solution

China likes Thorium based nuclear reactors. So they are doing research.

If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.

"President Obama talked about a Sputnik-type call to action in his SOTU address," wrote Charles Hart, a a retired semiconductor researcher and frequent commenter on the Energy From Thorium discussion forum. "I think this qualifies."

While nearly all current nuclear reactors run on uranium, the radioactive element thorium is recognized as a safer, cleaner and more abundant alternative fuel. Thorium is particularly well-suited for use in molten-salt reactors, or MSRs. Nuclear reactions take place inside a fluid core rather than solid fuel rods, and there's no risk of meltdown.

This of course is somewhat misleading. It is true there are no fuel rods to melt down. That is because the fuel in the reactor is already melted down. If there was a cooling loss could that blob of molten metal and fluorine melt the reactor vessel from decay heat? Sure. Why not? Fission fragment heat removal is the same (more or less) for any reactor. The next article linked does point out that liquid Thorium Reactors can be designed for passive cooling in the event of an accident. Such a passive system is exactly what I have suggested should be a design criteria for future nuclear reactors in many of my previous posts.

In an article on how Thorium is safer for nuclear reactors the author talks about fundamental safety for nuclear plants.

The ongoing Fukushima Daiichi disaster is naturally making many people wonder about the safety of nuclear power. It's a good illustration of how unexpected failures happen in practice, and also shows how Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is a fundamentally safer approach. When building a reliable system, you must assume it will fail. Regardless of how many layers of safety you build into something, what really determines its fundamental safety is what happens if all safety systems fail at once. For a nuclear facility, aside from specifically hardening against disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist-flown airplanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, malicious actors, etc., you must also make a fundamental engineering assumption that it will melt down. No matter how improbable you think you've made it for a meltdown to occur, the most important feature of any nuclear facility is what happens when a meltdown does occur. And not only that, but there should be contingency plans for what happens when the plant is hit with God's flyswatter, not because such a thing is likely or even possible, but because you can't really be too paranoid about engineering for such scenarios.

Below I will describe development of the disaster in Japan, and how a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is a fundamentally safer design, not only in terms of basic safety measures, but in terms of planning for absolute worst-case scenarios.

Here are the basic facts of what we know has happened at the Fukushima Daiichi plant (events are still developing and currently available information is sketchy and unreliable, but these points are fairly well established):

I agree on the design criteria for safer nuclear plants. You can read the rest of the article to see why the author thinks Thorium is a better idea.

These folks don't like Thorium. I will say now that they are generally a bunch of hysterics. OTOH I didn't find anything in the parts I have quoted that I disagree with. My background is: Naval Nuclear Power Trained. Reactor Operator Qualified.

Contrary to the claims made or implied by thorium proponents, however, thorium doesn't solve the proliferation, waste, safety, or cost problems of nuclear power, and it still faces major technical hurdles for commercialization.

Thorium is not actually a "fuel" because it is not fissile and therefore cannot be used to start or sustain a nuclear chain reaction. A fissile material, such as uranium-235 (U-235) or plutonium-239 (which is made in reactors from uranium-238), is required to kick-start the reaction. The enriched uranium fuel or plutonium fuel also maintains the chain reaction until enough of the thorium target material has been converted into fissile uranium-233 (U-233) to take over much or most of the job. An advantage of thorium is that it absorbs slow neutrons relatively efficiently (compared to uranium-238) to produce fissile uranium-233. The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications. Although U-235 is found in nature, it is only 0.7 percent of natural uranium, so the proportion of U-235 must be industrially increased to make "enriched uranium" for use in reactors. Highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium are nuclear weapons materials. In addition, U-233 is as effective as plutonium-239 for making nuclear bombs. In most proposed thorium fuel cycles, reprocessing is required to separate out the U-233 for use in fresh fuel. This means that, like uranium fuel with reprocessing, bomb-making material is separated out, making it vulnerable to theft or diversion.

So you need enriched Uranium to kick start the reaction and what you have left over after the fuel is spent is the usual fission fragments plus plutonium from the Uranium kick start.
It has been claimed that thorium fuel cycles with reprocessing would be much less of a proliferation risk because the thorium can be mixed with uranium-238. In this case, fissile uranium-233 is also mixed with non-fissile uranium-238. The claim is that if the uranium-238 content is high enough, the mixture cannot be used to make bombs without a complex uranium enrichment plant. This is misleading. More uranium-238 does dilute the uranium-233, but it also results in the production of more plutonium-239 as the reactor operates. So the proliferation problem remains - either bomb-usable uranium-233 or bomb-usable plutonium is created and can be separated out by reprocessing.
So Thorium reactors will have a proliferation problem. Chemical extraction of Plutonium is easier than centrifuge extraction of U-235. Except for the radiation problem.
Proponents claim that thorium fuel significantly reduces the volume, weight and long-term radiotoxicity of spent fuel. Using thorium in a nuclear reactor creates radioactive waste that proponents claim would only have to be isolated from the environment for 500 years, as opposed to the irradiated uranium-only fuel that remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. This claim is wrong. The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years). While the mix of fission products is somewhat different than with uranium fuel, the same range of fission products is created. With or without reprocessing, these fission products have to be disposed of in a geologic repository.
Well the above is a little hysteric. Radioactivity decreases with increasing half life. Generally substances with a half life of over 50 years are not thought to be sufficiently radioactive to be a serious hazard. Which is why we worry about releasing tritium to the environment (half life on the order of 13 years) and why the fact that Uranium is everywhere in our environment (in beach sand say) is not a serious concern. The five hundred year number is correct though. That is 10 half lives and means a reduction of radioactivity by a factor of 1,000 from substances with a 50 year half life and rather more for shorter lived radioactive elements. For instance a substance with a 25 year half life kept for 500 years would see a decrease of radiation by a factor of a million.

I wish the Chinese luck. I'd also like to see ALL their data when they are ready to sell those reactors to the rest of the world. It might also be a good idea to buy one and test it to destruction before they are generally approved for use in the US. And do I worry about China making money selling us reactors? No. We will gain far more from the electrical power production of the reactors than the profits on the reactors will cost us. Because if we can't profit from the reactors what would be the point of buying them?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:44 PM | Comments (2)

Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera

A source for the plastic detector: Rexon Components.

Another Source: Bicron Plastics. A pdf of some of their products.

GammaWatch makes a very neat watch/radiation detector for $250. Unfortunately they are currently out of stock.

This is kind of cool but it is not very sensitive. It will warn you of very serious hazards:

NukAlert #153; nuclear radiation detector / monitor keychain alarm

This is your more normal type meter. It is sensitive but will be off scale in very high radiation areas. The solution to that? High tail it out of there.

Digital Geiger Counter with Wand & PC (serial) Output

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:30 PM | Comments (4)

Voter Fraud?

Althouse says quoting from AP:

Winnebago County's numbers say Prosser received 20,701 votes to Kloppenburg's 18,887. The AP has 19,991 for Prosser to Kloppenburg's 18,421.
I live in Winnebago County and no one I know here voted for Prosser. Or Kloppenburg. In fact I can state categorically that neither was on the ballot.

Fraud? Well it is Illinois.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:19 PM | Comments (2)

This war of attrition is driving me bananas!

As I spent the last two hours unable to log into this site to write a blog post, I thought I would break with the usual pattern of looking for something interesting to write about and lay the blog problem out for the world to see.

Without naming names of any of the parties who are offering me advice and opinions, I am faced with what ought to be a fairly simple question:

Should I continue with Movable Type, or should I move to WordPress?

Sounds simple, right? Well, here's the problem. I have been on MT since 2003, and I want my archives to be fully accessible. I want everything to look the same way as it has always looked and for the older links to always link to their respective older posts.

I recently upgraded MT (to which I want to remain loyal), and that has not only not solved the endless spam problem, it has made it worse. The blog was so overwhelmed by spammers this morning that it shut down.

Here's what my hosting service (a really good one, to which I want to remain loyal) said:

"your site was going absolutely bananas. We wound up rebooting the thing because it wouldn't come under control."

And the explanation:

"It looks like spammers hammering away at your MT scripts. Unfortunately, given MT's lack of throttling or significant antispam implementation, the only thing we can do when they roll through is try to crush them - or, in this case, when the CGI processes have brought the server to its knees, reboot the thing. Just another day in the tech life."

I'm going bananas too, but I replied thusly:

"As I recently spent money on an MT upgrade, and I am considering spending a lot more on a facelift, this is bad news. My problem is that my links go back eight years now and I want them all to work (which does not seem to happen when blogs are converted to Wordpress). I wish I had been warned back in 2003 that MT would lead to problems like this, but I seem to be stuck with it, and it is apparently going to be expensive. It was very difficult even finding someone to work with me. Oh well. I'm just lucky to have a good hosting service!"

As I just said to Sarah in an email, this just plain sucks. I am not a geek, but a blogger. I only want to write posts, but everyone in the business seems to have one opinion or another, and I don't know who or what to believe anymore.

All I know is I hate change, especially when change creates problems. This is really no one's fault but the damned spammers. They keep getting better and better in their endless war of attrition and they are forcing my hand.

Seriously, the newer, more intelligent spam bots can and do actually leave comments which relate to the subject of the blog posts! Utterly maddening, and difficult to spot. I am seeing spammers lurking everywhere.

I suppose I could turn off comments, but I don't want to do that. I had thought that new comment filter which came with the upgrade was doing its job, because very few get through, but apparently that isn't the problem, so much as the fact that they are endlessly trying to get through, which eats up huge amounts of bandwidth and finally makes everything go bananas.

Does anyone who have an opinion on any of this? Because I am going bananas.

Seriously, I don't want to be doing this, because there's another war of attrition (you know, between the pro-socialist and the anti-socialist camps, which keeps getting mucked up by the culture war equivalent of spam) that I would rather not be fighting but feel obligated to fight. 

Nothing like being distracted from a war you don't want to fight by a war you don't want to fight. Sometimes I worry about my internal hard drive.

MORE: An additional explanation from my hosting service:

Unfortunately, MT hasn't seemed to have come up with anything that will help throttle against this sort of thing. The problem with CGIs is that they spawn new instances of themselves for every access. So, a spammer script that can generate a hundred requests in the span of two seconds can rapidly exhaust the memory and max out the CPUs at the same time.

If that is true, then MovableType just plain sucks.

And because I cannot move to WordPress without archive issues, I may be SOL.

And yes, there are archive issues, as I have seen them. There are countless bloggers I have linked over the years (many of whom I read and respect) who have moved to WP, and their old links no longer work. I want what I have written to remain.

posted by Eric at 12:08 PM | Comments (10)

Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?

Some goofball teacher on an anti-Christian crusade in Seattle has made herself look more moronic than she realizes.

A student wanted to bring Easter Eggs to class, but the teacher would not allow them to be called Easter Eggs:

A sophomore at a local private high school thinks an effort to make Easter politically correct is ridiculous.

Jessica, 16, told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show that a week before spring break, the students commit to a week-long community service project. She decided to volunteer in a third grade class at a public school, which she would like to remain nameless.

"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.

She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."

"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat 'spring spheres.' I couldn't call them Easter eggs."

The other students recognized them as Easter Eggs and immediately called them that. No word on whether they face discipline. 

And what are "abstract behavior rules" anyway?

Not only is this an example of political correctness run amok, it is an example of bad teaching.

An egg is not a sphere!

A sphere (from Greek σφαῖρα--sphaira, "globe, ball") is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball.

An egg might be some sort of ellipsoid, though. Not a regular, symmetrical one, but an irregular one, perhaps Scalene or Prolate or some hybrid. Or an ovoid? (There seems to be some debate....)

But assuming the goal is to remove the word "Easter," the eggs should be called either "Spring Irregular Ellipsoids," "Irregular Ellipsoids of Spring."

Or "Spring Ovoids."

I guess we should be glad this moron didn't teach the kids that the earth is flat.

MORE: "Ovoid" wins.

A chicken egg is a naturally occurring ovoid.

Not a sphere.

Prolate ellipsoid is close, though:

The shape of an egg is approximately that of half each a prolate (long) and roughly spherical (potentially even slightly oblate/short) ellipsoid joined at the equator, sharing a principal axis of rotational symmetry, as illustrated above. Although the term egg-shaped usually implies a lack of reflection symmetry across the equatorial plane, it may also refer to true prolate ellipsoids. It can also be used to describe the 2-dimensional figure that, revolved around its major axis, produces the 3-dimensional surface.

So, they would be "Spring Prolate-Oblate Rotationally-Symmetrical Ovoid-Ellipsoids."

Not an easy term. Nor are these objects associated with any particular season, except for religious reasons. So why attach the word "Spring" to Prolate-Oblate Rotationally-Symmetrical Ovoid Ellipsoids?

Hey, maybe that's why they call them Easter Eggs!

posted by Eric at 08:18 PM | Comments (4)

Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?

As most readers know, I take a broad, lliteral view of the First Amendment. I think freedom of speech means the state cannot stop anyone from saying anything (no matter how offensive), and free expression allows things like flag burning, Nazis marching in Skokie, flying Confederate flags (or I suppose, even Ku Klux Klan demonstrations in black neighborhoods -- regardless of cost to taxpayers), Koran burning, desecration of religious objects, cross burning, publicly displaying nooses, hanging people in effigy, protesting at funerals, Christian proselytizing directed at Muslims, and the usual such antics.

But does that mean lowife ex-convicts and opportunistic thieves have a right to trespass on private property under cover of delivering pizza leaflets? That is what happens routinely here in Ann Arbor, and the city claims that there is no legal way to stop them; there is on the books an anti-littering ordinance which supposedly banned the distribution of handbills on private property, but I was told it was thrown out as unconstitutional and is not enforced. 

FWIW, here's the text of the worthless ordinance:

7:99. - Commercial handbills on private property.

No person shall place any commercial handbill upon any private premises except by handing or transmitting the commercial handbill directly to an occupant of the private premises.

Now, I'd be more sympathetic to the constitutional issue if the handbills were political speech (like, say, these KKK leaflets distributed in a black neighborhood), but this stuff is just plain litter. TRASH. It accumulates and it is annoying to have to clean it up. As a practical matter, I see very little difference between a Domino's Pizza leaflet on my porch and a discarded candy wrapper or empty McDonalds bag. I realize that the former is intended to persuade me of something, but in my mind a pizza leaflet is actually less "persuasive" than an empty McDonalds bag -- for the simple reason that I know the pizza company caused it to be put there deliberately, while McDonalds did not, and I refuse to patronize companies that deliberately place litter my porch.

Am I being an angry crank complaining about one of the minor annoyances of life?

Perhaps, but I just saw a story in the Detroit Free Press (on the front page, no less) about a campaign in Harper Woods to ban the distribution of ad flyers:

Debbie Kien doesn't feel as safe in her Harper Woods neighborhood as she once did.

The fear began in August when someone broke into the Eastwood Drive home that she shares with her husband and two daughters. The couple suspected that the person who burglarized their home was one of the men who regularly walk through their neighborhood delivering flyers from grocery stores.

The Kiens' suspicion was heightened on a March morning when David Kien, a contractor, caught a man rummaging through his van.

"We've been victimized twice," Debbie Kien said.

In response to the Kiens' and others' complaints about handbill distributors littering neighborhoods, peering into windows and being linked to crimes, Harper Woods officials are considering banning the distribution of commercial handbills on public and private property.

The issue is one that has drawn free-speech challenges nationwide.

Free speech is fine, but I think unwanted advertising is littering, and coming into someone's yard or onto their front porch is trespassing.

Anyway, here's how this sort of free speech works in practice:

About 11:15 a.m. March 7, Kien said he saw one of the handbill deliverymen rummaging through his van. Police arrested the man, who was identified as Larry Williams, 44, a homeless man from Detroit. He was distributing circulars from Vega's and Family Foods markets at the time of his arrest.

Williams had a piece of copper in his pocket along with a crack pipe, police said.

"It's that kind of element that I don't want. I prefer not to see them," Kien said. "They're looking for crimes of opportunity."

Harper Woods Police Lt. William Snider said Williams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors -- larceny from a motor vehicle and possession of narcotic paraphernalia -- and was sentenced March 14 to pay a $395 fine or receive 14 days in jail.

"It's a concern for the community," said Harper Woods Deputy Police Chief Jim Burke. He said the biggest complaint is that the deliverymen are walking across lawns and looking into windows.

Exactly the sort of thing that goes on in Ann Arbor.

I realize this post is a complete waste of time, and nothing can be done, but since I've gotten this far I'm just wondering about something. If it's OK to throw unwanted commercial trash onto porches, then why isn't spam constitutionally protected? Or leaving pork in front of a mosque? (The latter is done in protest, so I guess it should be more proected than spam even if it isn't, but these issues are confusing.)

And if spam is protected, then why not littering? Suppose you're some kind of environmentalist nut who believes in confronting America's wasteful practices by engaging in acts of "guerrila recycling" consisting of throwing used paper in people's yards to dramatize the plight of endangered virgin trees in Canada's Boreal forests? Why wouldn't that kind freedom of expression every bit as protected as flag-burning or desecration of religious objects? Because it would be offensive? No, that can't be the reason, because almost everything is offensive. Time place and manner? No, that can't be it, for why would commercial littering be any more protected than serious acts of political street theater?

I think there might be an unstated double standard where it comes to trash. Some forms of trash are more equal than others.

I suspect the distinction may involve one of those legal "I know it when I see it" deals.

So why am I not seeing it?

posted by Eric at 10:07 AM | Comments (9)

Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Some people reading my recent posts on nuclear power think that I oppose nuclear power. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I'm against is pretending that there are few or no problems with nuclear power as it currently exists.

Let me start with the Chernobyl accident. It was not a tragedy for people who got small doses from the dispersed radiation. That was a big nothing. Lots of headlines - minimal effect. It was a tragedy for those who had to clean up the mess as recounted in the video posted here. Fukushima, baring serious ocean contamination, will be the same. A big nothing for the world and a heartbreak for those who have to clean up the mess.

So what is the way forward? Well first off we need much better designs than the plants currently in operation. What I like to think of as an intrinsically safe design. One that can stand total loss of power for an extended period of time. There are designs on the drawing board that can handle total loss of power for three days. Maybe that could be extended some but it is enough to get through a lot of emergencies if an emergency response team can bring in generators and other needed equipment in 24 hours or less. That means setting up a reserve (or three) trained and ready to handle emergencies.

Once we have the new designs tested and ready for deployment we should over time (not too much time - maybe 10 or 15 years) replace all existing nuke plants that are not intrinsically safe.

What to do in the mean time? Build coal and natural gas plants and start working like crazy to reduce the cost of storage to make wind a useful addition to our energy supplies. It wouldn't hurt to put a LOT more effort into small fusion. Things like Bussard's Polywell. Coal and natural gas will get us through the 10 years or so that the new plants will require for completion of the design, construction, and testing.

OH. Yeah. It would be a VERY GOOD IDEA to get spent fuel off the plant sites. That stuff is an accident waiting to happen. Like this one that happened a few hours ago. Won't it be an accident waiting to happen where ever it is until the two years it takes to cool down passes? Yes. But you are then separating the problems of maintaining safe power production from the problem of safe temporary storage. And after cool down? A long term repository is a very good idea. But then you have the problem of moving the stuff.

If we really need the energy bad enough nuclear power can be made to work. We are not yet at that point. We can take time to think all this through and work out a better system.


A commenter to this post thinks I'm being unnecessarily pessimistic about nuclear power. Of course I don't think so. This blog is libertarian in tone. When the nuclear industry is safe enough to get private insurance I will be satisfied. What we have now is gains privatized and losses socialized. I'm against it.

Go to Map Quest. Type in Byron, Illinois. Run a circle of 16 miles (the map shows a 4 mile interval at the bottom left so 16 miles is easy - that is about 26 km metric) around Byron. My town of about 160,000 will be wiped out economically even if no one dies in such an accident. The total area contains on the order of 300,000 to 500,000 people. That is a lot of homeless people from a nuclear accident in the boonies. If the reactors at Zion, Illinois go up everybody from Highland Park, Illinois to Racine, Wisconsin will have to be evacuated. And that is just the shores of Lake Michigan. The whole area may include several million people.

Here is a first report on radiation levels in the Fukushima zone. Just to give you some idea of the levels at Fukushima compared to natural levels, 0.34u Sieverts per hour is the average dose for Americans according to the Wiki. The international dose limit for civilians is 2.3uSv per hour averaged over a year. Of course that is the external dose. Particles lodged in the lungs are far more dangerous.

So how about an estimate of the reliability of nuke power. Let us discount Chernobyl and TMI and be generous and say one nuke meltdown every 50 years. Let us also be generous and say there are 400 nuke power plants. That is a reliability of one catastrophic accident ever 20,000 years of plant operation. If we are pessimistic we might use 30 years and 300 plants - about one accident every 10,000 years of plant operation. I'd like to see numbers at least 10X that or even better 100X that. One way to do that is to avoid siting plants on or near fault lines.

posted by Simon at 03:25 AM | Comments (16)

People Are Different

Commenter Frank at my post Lies Of Chernobyl had this to say in response to this comment fragment of mine. I said:

M. Simon:
Also the 10 REM dose limit supposes that most people are not too far from average when it comes to the effects of radiation. But people are genetically different.
To which Frank responded.
If you have ever witnessed someone who has undergone radiation cancer treatment, and has been given what radiologists think is tolerable, and then see that person die from necrosis of healthy tissue and subsequent sentinel artery bleed-out, you know that everyone has a different tolerance for radiation.

You are exactly right, M. Simon. Genetics, and the immune system determine how much radiation each person can take.

I think the current radiation tolerance guidelines are acceptable. They are quite low for the average citizen and about 10X higher for people who choose to work in the field.

I think a move by government to raise the guidelines (according to this site) is a VERY BAD IDEA.

posted by Simon at 02:15 AM

Keep it up!

I just love the following headline in today's Detroit Free Press:

Angry voters send gov a message

And I hope that instead of taking it down, they keep it up. 

Wisconsin voters sent Republican Gov. Scott Walker a message about their unhappiness with his muscling an anti-union rights bill through the state Legislature by sending a once runaway state Supreme Court race toward a near-certain recount and filling the governor's former post with a Democrat.

Although Walker downplayed the significance of Tuesday's elections on Wednesday, Democrats warned they were only a sign of what's to come.

In the most closely watched race, a little-known assistant state attorney general possibly unseated a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice often associated with Walker. Unofficial returns Wednesday showed JoAnne Kloppenburg with a 204-vote lead over Justice David Prosser. His campaign said a recount is expected.

Here's the headline with the picture:


Hope they keep it up too, but I liked it so much I just had to get a screen shot in case they don't.

I had already read about the results in yesterday's blogosphere news, and like everyone else I assumed this was one of those cliffhanger races, in which anyone might have won depending on who sneezed waiting in line and went home early. Hardly an example of "angry voters" sending a message. 

But then I saw this at Instapundit:

APPARENTLY, Prosser won the election. More here. Wow. Stay tuned.

Wow is right. (Ann Althouse has a great post, too.)

Say, exactly what was that "message" again?

It wasn't just a win; Prosser gained 7,582 votes (which weren't tallied until after a major counting error was detected). Glenn also links the latest from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Considering the spread, I think maybe the angry voters did send gov a message.

A message that says, KEEP IT UP!

Which is what the Detroit Free Press should do.

(And maybe they should keep up the puff pieces encouraging Communist demonstrators who travel from Detroit to Madison too!)

MORE: Don't miss yesterday's Kloppenburg victory speech! But can she keep it up?

posted by Eric at 11:17 PM | Comments (5)

Is YOUR Party Racist? Find Out In Just Five Minutes!

In these confusing, topsy-turvy days of interconnected tubes, miscegenation, Twitters, and furries, it can often be hard to tell whether a party you belong to is racist, especially with the modern proliferation of partisans: the Democrat Party, the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the Coffee Party ("yes, we're still around, thanks for asking!"), the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Burnt Umber Party, the Communist Party -- the list goes on and on. And if your party is racist, that means you're racist too, even if you don't know it. But not to worry: we at Classical Values are here to help! Our crack team of forensic aggrievement specialists have put together this simple survey that will tell you whether your party is closer to colorblind or KKK (award one point for each "Yes" answer):

1. Has the leader of your party made remarks such as "typical [race] person"? Is he or she closely associated with people known for inciting racial hatred?
2. Does your party have a significant number of representatives in racially segregated organizations (e.g. Congresssional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional White Caucus)?
3. Does your party advocate racial preferences in government hiring?
4. Does your party advocate racial preferences in school admissions?
5. Has your party covered up violent incidents by, or featured prominent ex-members of, explicitly racial-supremacist organizations (e.g. Ku Klux Klan, New Black Panthers, Aztlan)?

0: Congratulations! You belong to a non-racist party, and by extension are therefore presumably not racist.
1: You're only a little racist. You probably didn't mean to be.
2: You're not that racist nut at the party, but you're still at the party.
3: You're that racist nut at the party.
4: You're obsessed with race. You're convinced people of other races are out to get you, and spend significant portions of time worrying about it. Whoa! There's one behind you now! Haha, got you.
5: You're a Democrat. Sorry.

posted by Dave at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)

Burning the Koran is free speech. But must we have a holy war?

Not only do I share the disdain for Lindsey Graham expressed by Ann Barnhardt (whose Koran-burning bravery is eloquently praised in a post by Roger Kimball that Glenn linked earlier), but I agree she has balls. I think more Americans need to exercise our free speech birthright that cowards like Lindsey Graham and his ilk would have us so cavalierly disregard. 

However, free speech means free speech, and defending the free speech right of someone to say or do something does not mean having to agree with that person says or does. So, even though I defend Ann Barnhardt's right to burn the Koran (and to say that most Muslim men are "homosexual pedophiles" who are taught to be that way by the Koran), that doesn't mean I agree with her actions or her thinking. 

Similarly, even though I defend her right to say it, I feel obligated to disagree with her brave and passionate analysis of Islam -- ("The problem is islam.") --  which I found at her website:

This brings us to option #2, which is actually the more viable and certainly the more loving and charitable option.

2. Fight a Final Crusade and exterminate islam from the face of the earth once and for all.

Yep. I said it, and I mean it. This option isn't really an "option" at all, because this is where we are heading whether we like it or not. There is going to be a massive, final war between islam and the civilized world at some point. The only real question is, how long are we going to stall it off? A week? A month? A year? A decade? A century? Some would argue that the Final Crusade actually began on 9/11, and that we have been fighting minor skirmishes ever since. Perhaps. If that is the case, the civilized world clearly does not understand that it is in a fight for its very survival. There isn't room enough in this world for both human civilization AND islam. One side is going to be destroyed by the other. If islam wins, then humanity will be dead as well, because it will be just a matter of time before islam consumes itself, as outlined above. If civilization wins, humanity will continue, knowledge and technology will increase, there will be joy and laughter and goodness, and human beings will be free to seek and find God. In this way, islam is exactly like cancer. Either a person destroys the cancer within them and survives, or the cancer wins and both the person AND the cancer die. Given that the civilized world still doesn't understand what is going on, I don't think it is fair to say that the Final Crusade has begun. It will begin when we comprehend that it is us or them - kill or be killed....

Sorry, but brave as she is to express it, I think that is an extremely bad idea. I don't think such a "massive final war" is wise. A better idea would be to form alliances with (and encourage) those Muslims who genuinely seek peace, and who believe in interpreting the Koran accordingly.

All Muslims are not the enemy. To say that they are is bad logic and a bad tactic.

If this thinking were to be put into practice, it would jeopardize the entire war effort over the past decade, in which thousands of Americans (including Muslims) have given their lives.

If all Muslims are the enemy, then what the hell are we doing helping any of them?

In addition to wanting to wage war against all Muslims, Barnhardt comes close to advocating a civil war in this country (an idea I have opposed for years). She thinks we are under a duty to wage a just war ("in which it is lawful to kill another human being") against Marxist-Sorosists -- and she considers those who disagree with her assessment that there is such a duty to be guilty of self-loathing* and thus the enemy:

What we face today is a two-pronged attack. There are two invading groups that have openly declared that the United States has no right to exist and have announced their intention to destroy us. Those two groups are Marxist-Sorosists and islam. Not only do we have the right to defend ourselves, and even to wage just war against these groups as a last resort, but we also have the obligation - or "duty" as the Declaration puts it - to do so. Those Americans who argue that we have no such obligation or duty and are in fact obliged to commit societal and cultural suicide are the very people outlined earlier who have been indoctrinated in a culture of self-loathing. Who comprises the first prong, the American left? Athiests. Feminists. Materialists. Hedonists. Homosexuals. Marxists. The second prong of islam is comprised of people who worship satan under the name of "allah". Satan's entire raison d'etre is the loathing of humanity.

I hope I'm misinterpreting her, but much as I'd like to ignore this in the hope that it goes away, the above reads like a call for civil war. If it is that, I guess she would consider me to be on the wrong side.

Which sucks, especially because I don't want to fight in a civil war. I don't believe Americans should kill other Americans over political or especially cultural disagreements. I think it is irresponsible to lump together all atheists, feminists, materialists, hedonists, homosexuals, conflate them with Marxists and Muslims, and then declare that we need to wage a just war against them so it is lawful to kill them.

But lump them she does, and then she analogizes to World War II and invokes her religious views: 

...We fought in WWII not only in defense of ourselves and our allies, but also in the hopes of saving the German people and the Japanese people from themselves and the evil that they had fallen into, and we were successful! What it means is that we PRAY for the conversion of our enemies, both the dead and the living. We pray that they find Christ and realize the evil of their ways before such time as we are forced to fight and defeat them. If that fails and we are forced to kill them in battle, when they are dead we pray for Christ to have mercy on their souls.

What's up with that? Does praying for them after they're dead make it more OK to kill the atheists, feminists, materialists, hedonists, homosexuals she so abhors and links to Marxists and Muslims?

Why inject religion into the killing process? It strikes me that such talk only increases the likelihood of killing. 

I don't know whether this is a religious disagreement or not, but I just felt I needed to say something. Especially because one of the reasons I started this blog was to try to prevent the damn culture war from turning into a civil war. 

All of the above notwithstanding, I agree that the First Amendment is one of those "use it or lose it" things, and I admire Ann Barnhardt's bravery.

(So to that extent, and no more, I say "burn baby burn!")

* But is it self-loathing to defend the First Amendment rights of people who want to kill you?

posted by Eric at 04:18 PM | Comments (12)

Searches are inherently unreasonable without specific warrants

While the above may sound like a misstatement of supposedly settled Fourth Amendment law in the United States, after reading a law review article by Thomas Y. Davies that Glenn Reynolds linked I am absolutely convinced that it was the orginal intent of the founders.

The article has a very appropriate (and appropriately provocative IMO) title:



I can't speak for others, but yes, I can handle the truth.

And I don't like it.

The author (Professor Thomas Y. Davies) documents that the so-called "reasonableness standard" was a late 19th century creative legal contrivance which twisted the phrase out of context and beyond the founders' recognition -- transforming the Fourth Amendment meaning into very nearly the opposite of what it was intended to mean.

The Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What the founders meant, simply, was to specify that searches and seizures conducted pursuant to General Warrants (which did not specify what was being searched for) were inherently "unreasonable searches and seizures." They did not mean to create an exception for warrants for any and all searches the courts might deem "reasonable." This later twisting was created -- IMO out of whole cloth.

The first clause is now often referred to as "the Reasonableness Clause," while the second clause (not italicized) is now referred to as "the Warrant Clause."8 Recent Supreme Court opinions sometimes quote only the Reasonableness Clause as though that constitutes the Fourth Amendment.9

Actually, the second clause originally set out the operative content of the provision. Indeed, little attention was given to the phrase "unreasonable searches and seizures" during the century following the framing. During that period, as during the framing era itself, the Fourth Amendment was simply regarded as a ban against "general warrants"--that is, it forbade warrants that were unparticularized as to the place or things to be searched for or that lacked specific factual grounds justifying the search.10 Thus, the standards for valid warrants set out in the Warrant Clause were understood to be the essence of the provision. During the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, Supreme Court opinions began to treat the phrase "unreasonable searches and seizures" as though it carried a broader content than the warrant standards set out in the second Warrant Clause.

Since then the "reasonableness standard" has been endlessly expanded in the interests of law enforcement efficiency (in large part due to the war on drugs), to the point where wholesale disregard of the Fourth Amendment is deemed possible if the courts deem a search "reasonable (or recite that there was no "expectation of privacy")

...justices with a more statist bent have seized on the same phrase to declare that any government intrusion that is "reasonable" in the circumstances (again by their lights) is constitutional.12 The beauty of "Fourth Amendment reasonableness"--at least from the justices' points of view--is that it can carry whatever content the justices choose to give it.

What this has come to mean is that police in modern America can, if they desire, plant a GPS device in your car, and according to the legislatures of a majority of states, rifle through prescription records at will.

Years ago when I was doing criminal defense work in San Francisco, a Superior Court judge complained (in chambers, not in open court) about a Motion to Supress I had filed, saying that there was too much paperwork being thrown at him, and made what I considered an astonishing remark:

"We will never be able to win the drug war unless we get rid of the damned Fourth Amendment."

This was at the height of Reagan's newly declared "War on Drugs." Perversely, the judge may have been right. For at the time of the founding, there was no such thing as possession of a thing being a crime in and of itself. Stolen property was considered evidence of theft.  

Framing-era criminal procedure differed from modern procedure in several basic aspects. One was that common-law criminal procedure was accusatory rather than investigatory in character.58 Except for coroners‟ inquests into possible homicides,59 government officers usually did not initiate criminal prosecutions or collect evidence for prosecutions. Instead, that role fell to private victim-complainants. The government role was largely limited to providing the necessary force to bring accused persons to trial, often and perhaps even usually, by means of judicially-issued arrest warrants.60 Except when executing such warrants, framing-era peace officers--usually constables--generally had no more arrest authority than private persons beyond some order-maintenance duties to detain drunks, vagrants, and "night-walkers."61

Common-law procedure was also accusatory in the sense that criminal arrest authority usually depended on a victim-complainant‟s sworn accusation that a crime had already been committed "in fact."62 That accusation had to be made under oath by a named and potentially accountable complainant either prior to the issuance of an arrest warrant63 or immediately after a warrantless arrest.64 Because the rule during the framing era was still that "hearsay is no evidence,"65 there was no allowance for second-hand information provided by confidential informants.66 Instead, arrests and arrest warrants had to be based on sworn testimony by persons with direct knowledge of the crime.67

Framing-era criminal procedure also differed from modern procedure insofar as arrest authority was the big topic. In fact, it seems that common-law criminal search authority usually arose only in connection with a lawful arrest (what we now call a search "incident to arrest").

In other words, they couldn't and didn't just search unless they were arresting someone. A man's house was his castle. The abuses that were on the founders' minds did not involve warrantless searches, but overbroad searches conducted with "general warrants" (as opposed to specific warrants). They wanted these searches to be illegal, and it never would have occurred to them that creative courts would years later bootstrap and transform descriptive surplus language into a totally new rationale for warrantless searches. 

I think anyone who takes the time to read and mull over Professor Davies' article would agree that the founders would be horrified.

And get this -- even when searches incident to arrest were conducted, the complainant who obtained such a search warrant was strictly liable for trespass if the stolen goods were not found!

The framing-era authorities did recognize a "search warrant for stolen goods," but this warrant had a more limited use than the name suggests and is actually the clichéd exception that proves the rule that search warrant authority usually was not needed to search if there had been a lawful arrest.82 The key fact (which I previously overlooked)83 is that the forms for such warrants routinely included a statement that goods had been feloniously stolen "by some person or persons unknown" but then recited that the victim-complainant had probable cause as to the current location of the stolen goods.84 So this search warrant was created to allow the victim of a theft to recover his property when he was either unable or unwilling to obtain an arrest warrant for the thief--which suggests that this warrant served the individual owner‟s interest in recovering property more than the public interest in enforcing criminal law.85 Perhaps for that reason, the complainant who obtained such a search warrant was strictly liable for trespass if the stolen goods were not found.86 Notably, there is no indication that a search warrant was ever required or issued in addition to an arrest warrant, and that dog-that-does-not-bark-in-the-night silence strongly implies that the authority that an arrest warrant carried regarding entrance to the arrestee‟s house also implicitly extended to searching the arrestee and his house if the arrest was made there.87

Contrast that to the routine grants of immunity today to the police and/or their informants -- even anonymous informants.

An anoymous "neighbor" could just call the cops with an anonymous false report about something, and even if the police raided the home and found nothing, there would be no liability. 

We've come a long way.

As Davies documents, the evolution of the phraseology makes clear what was meant. Here's the original 1785 Pennsylvania ban against general warrants:

That the people have a right to hold themselves, their houses, papers, and possessions free from search or seizure; and therefore warrants without oaths or affirmations first made, affording a sufficient foundation for them, and whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search suspected places, or to seize any person or persons, his or their property, not particularly described, are contrary to that right, and ought not to be granted.20

That this typified the thinking of the founders is also evident in John Adams' reformulation of the Pennsylvania language. As Davies points out, he used the word "reasonable" not to imply (much less create) a new right to search, but because he thought the Pennsylvania language "seemed to announce an absolute right against searches and seizures that was plainly inconsistent with the implicit approval of warrants that met the standards set out in the remainder of the provision." So reasonableness was offered by way of explanation (an explanation, of course of the limitation.)    

Art. XIV. Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or foundation of them be not previously supported by oath or affirmation; and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not accompanied with a special designation of the person or objects of search, arrest, or seizure: And no warrant ought to be issued, but in cases, and with the formalities, prescribed by laws.212

As Adams was aware, general warrants were frequently described by legal commentators as "unreasonable."

Similar thinking was behind the use of the language in the convention language of the states of Virginia and New York during the federalist debate:

That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his papers and his property; all warrants, therefore, to search suspected places, or seize any freeman, his papers or property, without information upon Oath (or affirmation of a person religiously scrupulous of taking an oath) of legal and sufficient cause, are grievous and oppressive; and all general Warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend any suspected person, without specially naming or describing the place or person, are dangerous and ought not to be granted.243

I am simplifying the author's lengthy history to focus on the point and in the interest of reader ease, but after taking into account the overal consensus at the time, James Madison arrived at the following initial language (the "proto-Fourth Amendment"):

The rights of the people to be secured in their persons, their houses, their papers, and their other property from all unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated by warrants issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, or not particularly describing the places to be searched, or the persons or things to be seized.251

In a later submission, the reference to "unreasonable searches and seizures" was inadevertently left out by accident, then put back in. And because Elbridge Gerry wanted stronger limiting language, "by warrants issued" became "and no warrant shall issue."

Who'd have thought that language used to condemn general warrants would ultimately become a standard for warrantless searches?

Professor Davies concludes (at 107),

...there was no standard as flimsy as reasonableness in framing-era search doctrine, and the Framers did not intend to create any such broad standard. Indeed, they did not intend to do anything more in the Fourth Amendment than ban the issuance of general warrants. The law of criminal arrest and search at the time of the framing was a law of rules, and the Framers undertook to preserve those rules in the Fifth Amendment "due process of law" clause. They also articulated the warrant standards in the Fourth Amendment simply to remove any possibility that legislation could authorize general warrants, even for revenue searches.

I have to say, the rhetorical twisting of the original goal of the founders reminds me of the way the Second Amendment "evolved" so that a supportive explanatory reason for the right ("a well regulated militia") became a limitation on the overarching right ("to keep and bear arms") that it was never intended to be. 

How have they gotten away with it for so long?

What if anything can be done about it?

I don't know, but the more time I spent on this, the more outraged I became, so I thought the least I could do was write a blog post.

posted by Eric at 12:12 PM | Comments (5)

Lies Of Chernobyl

Deputy of the USSR Supreme Soviet Alla Yaroshinskaya featured at 1 hour 17 minutes into the video posted here has an Internet post on some of the things she found out when she got her hands on a secret report of the Chernobyl accident.

Let me start with the editor's description of her post:

In 1990, journalist Alla Yaroshinskaya came across secret documents about the Chernobyl catastrophe that revealed a massive cover-up operation and a calculated policy of disinformation. The state and party leadership had knowingly played down the extent of the contamination and offered a sanitized version to the outside world.
I'm going to excerpt what I consider especially relevant bits of what she wrote. You should read the whole thing.
Despite the changes brought about by Mikhail Gorbachev's vaunted perestroika and glasnost, the catastrophe at Chernobyl remained a classic Soviet cover-up, one that survived the collapse of the USSR in 1991. The number of people radically affected by the explosion was kept secret and the result was far greater mortality and suffering. Only in recent years have researchers and scientists begun to uncover the full truth of Chernobyl.
The West is not immune to the mentality of keeping secrets. There are of course commercial reasons for that. Lawsuits. No point in giving your prospective opponents free discovery.
Under the Soviet system, it was quite natural that neither the government of the Soviet Union nor the local authorities were prepared to take legal responsibility for the ecological, social, and other problems caused by Chernobyl - even though Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika were already in place. However, the scale of the accident and the changes that had taken place in the society by that time made it impossible to conceal the fact of the accident altogether; people in the affected territories repeatedly demanded the introduction of legislation to cover their health problems, ecological damage, and compensation for material losses arising from the accident.
Even the USSR had commercial reason for the coverup.

The Supreme Soviet had this to say.

The accident at the Chernobyl NPP in its consequences is the gravest disaster of the present time, affecting destinies of millions of people residing in a vast territory. The ecological effect of the Chernobyl accident has made the country face the necessity of solving new, exceptionally complex, large-scale problems affecting virtually all spheres of social life, many aspects of science and manufacturing, culture, ethics, and morality.
I don't think the general problems for Japan will be any different.

And what about the investigations done?

...the dosimetric and epidemiological data are insufficient to establish parameters for dose distribution, social-biological effects - eg mortality rates - differentiation of people's sensitivity to radiation, and so on.
So despite what you read in the press including places like Instapundit no one knows the real death toll and medical costs of the Chernobyl accident. It reminds me of the old saw:

Never ask a question you don't want the answer to.

Maybe the real reason dosimiters for people working on the disaster were initially in short supply (despite them being available from other plants) was that the Japanese didn't want the workers or the general population to know how bad they had it.

She gives some early reports on medical problems from the accident and then says this:

So far, the number of sick had been increasing daily, but from 13 May, the number of hospital patients in the reports fell sharply, while the numbers of those discharged began to increase.
- Protocol of 13 May 1986:

Make note that in the course of yesterday, 443 persons have been hospitalized, 908 persons have been discharged from hospitals. 9733 persons including 4200 children are undergoing treatment and medical examination in hospitals. Diagnosis of radiation syndrome has been established in 299 cases including 37 children.

Why did the process of discharging people from hospitals become so rapid after the number of patients had exceeded 10 000? The answer is hidden in the same documents.
- Protocol of 8 May 1986:

[...] The ministry of health care has confirmed the new norms of acceptable radiation levels for members of the public as ten times the previous norms. Increase of these norms to levels 50 times higher than previously is permitted in specific cases [...] By these means the health safety of the public of all ages is guaranteed, even should the current radiation situation last for 25 years.

These norms applied even to children and pregnant women. In one stroke, the 10 000-plus people hospitalized because of exposure to radiation were automatically reclassified as "healthy" and discharged. The official number of people suffering from acute radiation syndrome also fell significantly. It goes without saying that Party bosses increased the acceptable dose in this way simply to hide the numbers affected.
Well isn't that interesting. It reminds me of a report my friend Eric of Classical Values sent me a while back about a secret plan to increase the radiation dose people are allowed to receive. I think the numbers in the report are in error. But the plan to increase the allowable dose may be in fact correct. For obvious reasons. Especially with government so heavily involved in both insuring medical care and insuring the nuclear industry. Not to mention reducing the costs of accident and nuclear waste site cleanup.

Back to Alla's report.

During hearings before the Supreme Soviet in 1990, Academician Ilyin, the director of the Institute of Biophysics, and one of those responsible for concealing the truth about the health situation in the affected areas, admitted under the pressure of deputies' inquiries that:
1.6 million children received radiation doses that are causing us concern; a decision should be taken on further action [...] If the dose limits were lowered to 7 rem[1] per 35 years [of life], we would have to increase the number of 166 000 people currently scheduled for resettlement by a factor of 10. The resettlement of 1.6 million people would have to be considered. Society must balance all the risks and gains of such an action.
It had become a matter of economics: the USSR could not afford to resettle so many people. The truth about the health of the population had to be concealed from the population itself.
Japan may soon have a similar problem. If they stick to pre-accident guidelines. If significant radiation reaches Tokyo it is going to cost a LOT to move that city.

I'm also beginning to think that the stupid idea of the German Greens to shut down all German nuclear power plants may not be so stupid after all.

There is more of the report from Alla Yaroshinskaya but I have gone on at length and I'm getting depressed. So if you care to, go and read the whole depressing thing. And in case you care she explains that the death tolls and mortality rates from official sources are not being reported. Let me add that the report was published in 2006. Long before any news of the Fukushima disaster was available.

In other nuclear disaster news, private groups in Japan are beginning to supply aid to pregnant women and children. The Japanese people are starting to act. Very sluggishly. The government? Not so much.

Women who have just delivered babies are included in the evacuation since the hospital released them early to make way for the people injured in the disaster.

The group made a deal with the city of Yuzawa in Nigata prefecture to provide rooms for the women, children and infants in a nationally famous ski and snowboarding resort. Nestled in the Japanese Alps, it is about 77 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo. The town is closed to tourists until further notice because of a lack of electricity and gas but Waseda Shotenkai's evacuees will be allowed in.

Other nongovernment groups are working with Waseda Shotenkai and the government has also set up a special division to assist these groups.

Yasui says that besides the radiation levels, the situation in the refugee shelters in the Fukushima, Miyaki and Ibaraki prefectures is severe and getting worse every day, especially for pregnant women and children. More than 161,000 are in shelters, according to the National Police Agency.

There is not enough milk, hot water, diapers and other much-needed daily necessities. Some people are suffering from dehydration, malnutrition and infectious diseases, which are now beginning to spread. There is also stress and fatigue, particularly among mothers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Friday that the government does not plan to extend the evacuation zone beyond 12.5 miles. He said the government would monitor prolonged unsafe levels of radiation that would pose a health risk.

So they are monitoring the radiation. Well that is a comfort. I wonder if they will be making announcements of what they are monitoring? My guess? Not if they can help it.

Update: 7 April 2011 1703z

Here is a more definitive link to the fight going on inside the EPA about raising allowable radiation exposure limits: Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:32 AM | Comments (13)

Gorbachev - Chernobyl Did It

Mikhail Gorbachev says Chernobyl did in the USSR.

The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Some even suggest that the economic price for the USSR was so high that it stopped the arms race, as I could not keep building arms while paying to clean up Chernobyl.

This is wrong. My declaration of January 15, 1986, is well known around the world. I addressed arms reduction, including nuclear arms, and I proposed that by the year 2000 no country should have atomic weapons. I personally felt a moral responsibility to end the arms race. But Chernobyl opened my eyes like nothing else: it showed the horrible consequences of nuclear power, even when it is used for non-military purposes. One could now imagine much more clearly what might happen if a nuclear bomb exploded. According to scientific experts, one SS-18 rocket could contain a hundred Chernobyls.

To get hundreds of Chernobyls out of an atomic weapon you have to do a ground burst. Not the most efficient use of the weapon unless you are interested in interdicting an area vs blowing up a lot of stuff.

You also have to consider that a single atom bomb has tens of pounds of fissile material vs the tens of tons in a reactor. Or the hundreds of tons in a spent fuel pool. So his expert may have been exaggerating for effect. Or it may be disinformation. Or the parameters were carefully chosen in order to make that statement. Still, he is right about one thing. Chernobyl is still costing those in the vicinity money.

The True Battle of Chernobyl Uncensored

The video is about 93 minutes. Well worth your time to get some idea of what Japan is up against. If you don't have a lot of time may I suggest you start at 1 hour and 15 minutes in and watch for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that the reactors in Japan did not have the burning graphite problem which will tend to localize the effects to Japan. On the other hand water poured on the Chernobyl reactor remained on land. Also there was no tsunami to distract the Russians. So there are differences. However, Japan is not a totalitarian state so you can't just give orders to make things happen.

Gorbachev is featured in the describing the command and control problems he had both in understanding what was going on and in getting things done.

There are a LOT of books about Chernobyl. You can find some of them here:

Books about Chernobyl

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:01 AM

The Water Has To Go Somewhere

For a rough calculation I like 250 gallons water per ton. So 50 tons of water is roughly 12,500 gallons. Let us make it easy and say 10,000 gallons a day. If the cooling water is applied for 100 days that is 1 million gallons. If it goes on for 1,000 days (roughly 3 years) that is 10 million gallons that needs to be dealt with. Fukushima is going to need a tank farm. Except big construction projects like that are difficult in a high radiation environment.

It would also be nice if we knew what the level of radioactivity was in the "mildly" radioactive water. "Mild" in comparison to what? Where are the numbahs? Some one knows. And they do not appear to be talking.

Another good video from Russia Today.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:28 PM | Comments (11)

How late is too late?

From what I remember about the Good Samaritan doctrine from law school, while there is no duty to render aid to someone, if you do render aid you are then under a duty to do it properly.

A guy in New Mexico seems to have messed up as a Good Samaritan, for while he took a woman to the hospital emergency room, her condition was  far too advanced to be considered an emergency.

Man delivers decomposing body to NM emergency room

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) -- Police in the northern New Mexico city of Espanola say a man tried to get help at a hospital emergency room for a woman who had been dead as long as a day and a half.

Officers say Jerry Maestas drove to the hospital Tuesday with the 33-year-old woman's decomposing body propped up in the passenger seat.

Apparently they could smell her:

The 64-year-old Maestas asked hospital staff to come outside and help his sick friend. Police spokesman Jeremy Apodaca says the staff could tell by the smell that the woman had been dead for some time.

KOB-TV reports that the woman may have been dead for 24 to 36 hours, and Maestas will face charges of failing to report a death.

Well, I was always taught that only doctors are considered to have the expertise and legal authority to pronounce someone dead. If that is true, then how can anyone be charged with not reporting what they have no right to determine?

Besides, what about all those dead voters who keep voting -- especially in places like Detroit and Chicago? It hardly strikes me as fair that they're allowed to vote, while this poor woman can't even get decent medical care. 

Another unfair double standard!

MORE: Mom Brings Dead Son to Soccer Game.

And why not?

Shouldn't the right to pursue happiness take precedence over voting or obtaining medical care?

posted by Eric at 07:59 PM | Comments (2)

Reversed Opinion

From the ex-SKF blog comes this bit:

I posted this on my Japanese blog for the Japanese readers. I'm putting out the summary for the English readers here, too.

A nuclear researcher at Kyoto University (which is considered one of the two most prestigious national universities, the other one being Tokyo University) has reversed his opinion and now says the Reactor 1 may be experiencing the "recriticality".

His name is Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute who belongs to the Nuclear Safety Research Group at the Research Reactor Institute. He has given interviews on TV and radio, mostly in Kansai stations and not aired in Kanto (where Tokyo is), and would be considered one of the "sceptics" of the official story about Fukushima I Nuke Plant that everything is safe, getting under control.

There ARE researchers in Japan who go against the mainstream government scholars. Koide is one of them (and far from being the most critical), and there are others from universities other than the top few schools (and therefore they don't get hardly any airtime on the Japanese MSM). But thanks to talk radio shows and the Internet (hey it's the same as in the US), at least a small portion of the Japanese people are getting the "alternative" reality other than what's given by the government and the MSM.

Go to the link for an interview with Hiroaki Koide.

Now is the inadvertent criticality question very important in light of the rest of the accident? No. Where it is important is in the competence and truthfulness of the people running the show.

And for those of you who like technical stuff I'm going to repeat (approximately) a few comments I have posted around the net:

It should be possible to tell how much of each isomer is made by taking a sample. Dividing it in two. Running one through the GCMS "instantly" and running the second sample one or two (short) half lives later. You would probably need a stop watch to get exact results but a go/no go a few days after shut down would be easy. i.e. the fact that they don't give the results for each isomer is suspect. As are most of the reports given out.

This is like an intel project. You have to try to get the correct information out of a mass of conflicting data.

I assume the data is being fudged. Or totally fabricated. Or "corrected" if the truth gets out by accident.

So the deal is - it is not hard to tell which isomers are in the sample. Actual quantities to a few percent is more difficult. But it should be easy to tell if there is any of the short lived isotope at all assuming they are made in roughly equal proportions. (i.e. not more than a 5 to 1 ratio).

This is not a hard question to resolve with a GCMS. So why wasn't it done?

Or suppose they were just using an energy spectrometer (measure the energy and amount of emitted gammas and/or betas) to determine what is there. All they needed to do was to split the sample and delay for about an hour or three the second measurement.

You have to ask yourself why the measurement wasn't done. Or if it was done why it wasn't announced.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:14 PM

Should I cancel my account in protest?

While I'm all for free campaign speech, I don't know what to make of this news development.

Facebook and the White House jointly announced Tuesday that Obama will visit the Palo Alto headquarters of the social network on April 20, where the president will hold a special "Facebook town hall" event that will stream live over Facebook and the White House website, starting at 1:45 p.m. Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will moderate and sit onstage with the president, in front of an audience of about 1,000 Facebook employees, small-business leaders and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

While the president is expected to take some questions from the audience, the majority will be selected from questions people post for Obama on Facebook or the White House website over the next two weeks.

Political insiders said the Bay Area offers the dual political advantage of being a fertile fundraising area for Democrats as well as allowing politicians to associate themselves with the world-changing technology of Silicon Valley.

So, is Obama using Facebook as a tool, or is Facebook to be part of the Obama reelection campaign?

Whose free speech is it?


posted by Eric at 01:00 PM | Comments (1)

highlights of bigoted barbarian bombast from the uncommon, undreary Glenn Greenwald!

Glenn Greenwald has written yet another post (as if we needed more) castigating Glenn Reynolds as a stupid bigot.


But lest anyone get the idea that Greenwald is obsessed with Reynolds (heaven forefend!), Greenwald asssures us that Reynolds is mainly being "highlighted" because he is so "common."

Reynolds is highlighted here not because he's unique but because he's so drearily common.

A commoner in our midst? As a queen who actually happened to be a monarch once put it,

"We are not amused!"

What especially fascinates me is not so much that Greenwald would call anyone drearily common, but that topping his list of complaints is an objection to characterizing barbarian activities as barbaric:

University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, today, echoing so many by lamenting the compulsive violence of Muslims:

It's hard to keep track of all the barbaric behavior emanating from that part of the world.

Not that it would matter to Greenwald, but had he clicked on the link he'd have seen that Reynolds had just quoted from a reader's email discussing whether certain beheadings were a reaction to the Koran burning by the Florida crackpot or whether the Mazar-i-Sharif beheadings had been erroneously conflated with the riots in Kandahar. The point being that it is very difficult to keep track of the barbaric behavior in that part of the world. Except Greenwald's objection does not involve whether such barbarianism can be kept track of; he makes it quite clear his objection is to using the word "barbaric" or "barbarian" to characterize Muslims -- a word he highlights in bold. 

It's a dishonest attempt to have Glenn Reynolds say that the reason "Muslims" should be nuked, invaded, tortured, occupied, murdered, put in cages for life without due process, and reduced to rubble is simply this:

Because Muslims are so prone to violence and barbarism!

Why is the word highlighted in bold? Not one of the five Instapundit posts Greenwald cites even uses the word "Muslim." (One of them involved North Koreans; and most were speculations about various responses to terrorism as opposed to advocacy.)

Yet after citing them, Greenwald characterizes Reynolds' position as this:

Boy, those primitive, dirty, lowly Muslims sure do have a bizarre, unique cultural compulsion toward violence and barbarism, don't they?

Yes, especially those sinister Commie Muslims in North Korea, who worship the noted Salafist cleric Kim Jong Il!

Where does Greenwald get the word "Muslim"? His imagination? Is that why he has to put it in bold?

The more I thought about it, the more Greenwald's objection to Glenn's use of the word "barbarian" fascinated me, so I thought I'd take a look at recent posts in which Glenn condemns barbarian behavior.

While every one certainly involved barbaric behavior, not one attributed barbarianism to Islam. 

So I find myself wondering something. If we look at the behavior involved, it is by any standard barbaric. Can we at least agree on that?

Or can't we?

Does Greenwald think it is not barbaric to kill UN workers to protest the free speech activities of an American crackpot?

BARBARIANS: Afghan mob kills at least 12 UN workers in protest over Terry Jones's Koran-burning.

If that isn't barbarianism, what is?

Moving on, does Greenwald think it is not barbaric to charge a 14 year old girl who had been raped with adultery, and then lash her to death?

BARBARIANS: Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death.

Does Greenwald think it is not barbaric for thuggish police to drag female protestors away and force them to undergo so-called "virginity tests"?

BARBARIANS: Egyptian women protesters forced to take 'virginity tests.'

Does Greenwald think it is not barbaric for an angry mob to beat and humiliate Christian women on frivolous blasphemy charges?

BARBARIANS: "Two Christian Women Were Beaten and Publicly Humiliated by an Angry Mob in Pakistan Over Apparently Frivolous Blasphemy Allegations."

What gives here? I think all of the behavior above is barbaric. Shockingly so. And I think the people involved are barbarians, as well as stupid bigots.

Does that mean I atttributed their barbarism to Islam? How?

But obviously, Greenwald thinks that condemning barbarians who are Muslims is the same thing as saying that Muslims are barbarians. But since Glenn never said that, he has to read the word in. And highlight it in bold!

In his mind, if you condemn barbarianism you become a stupid bigot.

Actually, I think those who condemn the condemnation of barbarianism are the ones who are bigoted and stupid. They are enabling barbarianism.

But perhaps they think civilization is dreary and common. And bigoted, of course.

I think the opposite is true.

However, attacking civilization has become too dreary and too common.

UPDATE: Many thanks to the good Glenn for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

Comments invited -- even from they that are not amused!
posted by Eric at 11:41 AM | Comments (18)

Blue Light Not So Special

Every now and then I get one wrong. When I do I like to correct my errors. Thanks to Charlie Martin who made me look up some different opinions.


In my recent post Blue Light Special I said that the blue lights seen at the reactor accidents in Japan were evidence of a criticality accident. But not so fast. Maybe, despite the reports there were no blue lights.

In fact, nobody has seen any flashing lights. It is speculation on what may or may not be happening:
A partial meltdown of fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be causing the isolated reactions, Denis Flory, nuclear safety director for the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, told a news conference in Vienna.

Nuclear experts call these reactions "localized criticality." They consist of a burst of heat, radiation and sometimes an "ethereal blue flash," according to the U.S. Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory website. Twenty-one workers worldwide have been killed by "criticality accidents" since 1945, the site says.

An expert says there is a chance of such a reaction. Sometimes, that kind of reaction will include a blue flash of light inside the reactor. So, following Fox logic....OH MY GOD - BLUE FLASHES OF LIGHT OVER NUCLEAR PLANT!!
So no blue flashes.

What do we have some evidence of?

Chlorine 38 - a short half life isotope made by irradiating sea water with neutrons
Iodine 134 - a short lived decay product
Neutrons - to be detected at the approximately 1 mile distance from the plant reported there needs to be a high level source of neutrons - like a critical core or something.
Tellurium 129 - a short lived decay product found recently in reactor #1
Much higher levels of Iodine 131 in core #1 than in cores #2 and #3. The levels should be comparable if all the reactors shut down with the earthquake.

You can learn more about the last two items at Chain Reactions.

So no blue light, but still a lot of evidence of an inadvertent criticality accident.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:22 PM | Comments (6)

No Longer A Rumor

In my post Crack Of Doom I said:

Just to add to the rumor factory. I have seen mentioned that the radiation monitors can read a maximum of 1,000 millisieverts per hour. Which is a very high level for human habitation. If that is the case we do not in fact have a maximum number for dose rate except that it is above 1,000 millisieverts per hour.
Well. It is no longer a rumor.
A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.

The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant's No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.

Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility.

What happens when the area around the plants becomes too dangerous to work in? Nothing good.

As one commenter at Zero Hedge so aptly put it:

by trav7777 on Tue, 4/05/2011 - 09:44 #1136437

I have a very strong suspicion that the reason the problem looks intractable is because it actually is.

They face the devil of fire and uncontrolled meltdown on one side and the deep blue sea of continued contaminated water leakage on the other. There is no way out through conventional means.

It's pretty clear that the structures containing nuclear fuel have immense leaks now; they cannot contain water. Every drop sprayed becomes a contaminant foreclosing the possibility of getting workers in to fix anything. How can someone fix a leak when what's flowing out of that leak is highly radioactive?

Rock meet hard place or more colloquially Charlie Foxtrot.

Oh. Yeah. New rumor: the spent rod pools of Reactors #5 and #6 are rumored to be cracked and leaking. You hope that sort of thing isn't true. Sadly it probably is. I will report it when it is announced. Officially.

Update: 5 April 2011 1751z

Cracks in spent rod pools #5 an #6 verified. Japanese TV with English voice over (about 2 minutes). Note the announcer crying.

Well that didn't take long.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:24 PM | Comments (2)

In general, I try to avoid generalizing about the generalizers!

I often wish I could write freely and without any restraint what is in my mind, but because this is a public blog, I can't.

Generalizations are the problem. In general, whenever you generalize about anything, the people who are in any way sensitive about what you're generalizing about will immediately object. At least many will. (Wouldn't want to generalize about people who might object to my generalizations.)

It is a nightmare, and it gets in the way of my ability to express myself.

Yesterday I was emailed a link to a story about a dog which was put to death in Ireland not for being a pit bull, but for looking like a pit bull. They actually came to the people's house and took a tape measure to the dog, then looked up the breed standard and declared him to have the requisite pit bull appearance.

So does that mean the Irish people are a bunch of anti-pit bull bigots engaged in doing to canines what would be called genocide if it were being done to people?

Not really. First of all, bad laws are not necessarily passed by "the people." They are passed because some people are into getting hysterical (like the woman Sarah described in a recent comment), some people react emotionally as a result of personal tragedies, some have misdirected fears projected onto a convenient target, and there are demagogic politicians who pander to hysteria and hope to get elected by saying that they have "done something" (usually in response to the endless and ever-louder clamor that "something must be done!")

In this way (and because gruesome images persist online in an ever-present now), a single, well-publicized attack by a vicious dog can trigger an entire breed to be banned. Despite my anger over what I see as human stupidity, I cannot ignore the enormous emotional power that, say, a grieving but determined mother can wield, especially when she can muster a small army of sympathizers. If some cute toddler is attacked and killed by a "dog that looks like a pit bull," it is natural that people will want something done. But about what? If the owner of the dog is a scummy criminal lout who has neglected and abused the dog and let it run loose the same way he has neglected his kids and let them run loose, the usual remedies will not be considered emotionally satisfying. Even sending him to prison for a year or so will seem lame. So the clamor becomes, DO SOMETHING ABOUT THESE AWFUL DOGS THAT KEEP KILLING OUR CHILDREN!

Easy to say, until they decide that the dog you love will be considered a child killer and must therefore be killed, and then like me you'll become the one to get emotional! And you start screaming about how it's like bigotry and genocide. And it is the canine equivalent of that, for it condemns dogs as vicious which are not vicious, simply because they belong to the same breed as a dog which killed a child.

Anyway, it turned out that the story I linked was not really from Ireland, but from Northern Ireland. A much more troubled place. There are, like, tensions there, largely unresolved. People hate each other because of what some of their ancestors did to each other centuries ago.

Sometimes I wonder whether there is an ecological niche for group hatred, group stereotyping, and group generalizations. But even by speculating about it, I am generalizing about people.

Let's move closer to home.

Because of a horrible attack on a child in Kalamazoo, the city of Saginaw, Michigan is right now talking about restricting pit bulls -- and in addition, just about any breed of dog which might be capable of harming a child.

Krease hopes Saginaw City Council passes the much talked about rule restricting "dangerous dogs".The ordinance would restrict pets on the CDC's list of the ten most statistically dangerous dogs. They include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Presa Canarios, St. Bernard's, and Great Danes.

Well, there is no question that every one of those breeds would be capable of killing or seriously injuring a child, or even an adult. Just in case you aren't familiar with canine anatomy, all dogs have large canine teeth, which look like this:



Just as guns are in theory designed so they can maim and kill, so are a dog's canine teeth. They can rip and tear into flesh and they can kill. However, the dog is descended from wolves that long ago crossed over from the wild kingdom to become man's best friend, and as part of their bargain they seldom deploy their deadly teeth against their masters. Instead, they use them as a weapon in the event that the master wants them to help hunt, or he and his family run into trouble with animal or human threats. 

Unfortunately, dogs are not readily capable of making moral judgments about the quality of their masters, so they are just as willing to deploy their fine weaponry on behalf of a bad master as they are a good master.

A bit like guns -- the difference being that a dog is alive and somewhat sentient, and depending on his training and level of control, can become a danger independent of his master. But with the exception of the occasional feral animals (which are not the subject of this debate) even that danger requires some human agency, for every dog has to have been raised by someone, kept by someone, and supervised -- or not supervised -- by someone. Dogs don't just jump over the fence and run down the street and attack someone unless some irresponsible asshole allowed it to happen. Sure, there are unowned abandoned dogs that have been dumped in the street, but they wouldn't be there had someone not been irresponsible on some level. Behind every bad dog, in almost every case there is a bad human. There are exceptions, such as dogs that are stolen out of yards and houses and then trained to be mean, but the overwhelming majority of dogs that are a menace are the product of people who are a menace. This is not rocket science, but common sense.

What tends not to attract as much attention as the pit bulls which do things to people are the people who do things to pit bulls. I have lost count of the number of incidents I have read about. Pit bulls being set on fire and burned to death. Thrown from buildings. Starved to death, or starved nearly to death and then thrown into a dumpster. (The alleged "human" who committed the latter act is IMO a piece of scummy trash, but her alleged mother defended her by saying "Somebody gave that dog to Kisha, and she couldn't take care of it." Can anyone explan how that is a "defense"?)

And pit bulls are also shot, electrocuted, stabbed, and of course beaten, beaten, and beaten to death.

But we can't ban people who do these things, can we?

Is it, then, surprising that animal abuse might have consequences on a dog's personality? An animal control worker in Berkeley once told me about a family which adopted a pit bull which had been evaluated and determined to be of a friendly disposition. What the pound didn't know was that the family had a twelve year old boy with a mean disposition, and who enjoyed beating the dog with a baseball bat. One day the dog just decided enough was enough, and took the boy on, with predictable consequences. The boy lived, and of course the family sued the city. Naturally, this increased the reluctance of the animal control workers to put such dogs up for adoption to the "wrong people." 

Who, pray tell, are the "wrong people"? I know I've said this before in one forgotten blog post or another, but in light of the huge number of these dogs in the hands of so many of the worst kind of people, I am surprised that there are not waaay more incidents of dogs turning bad than there are, and I think it is a testament to the pit bull's generally good nature (which in a poorly understood paradox, may actually be the result of their having been bred to be handled in the dog-fighting pit.)

On a number of occasions I have walked up to young thuggish types with pit bulls because their dogs have wagged their tails at me (probably sensed I was a friend because of the dog scent), and the idiot owners have become angry with their dogs for being friendly! What sort of asshole is that?

Another lovely story I found involved a man who managed to get his pit bull to attack his own daughter. Why are such people allowed to engage in animal husbandry, much less child rearing?

It sounds like trite cliche, but the problem is bad people.

And while I hate to engage in generalizations, it seems that Saginaw is having a lot of trouble with bad people:

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics Saginaw has ranked as the number one most violent city in America from 2003 through September 2010 when the most recent statistics were released. The ranking is based on violent crimes per person for cities with populations greater than 40,000. Included in the definition of violent crimes are murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.[10]

And they want to ban dogs capable of defending homes????

Excuse me, but if you live in a place like Saginaw, a defense-capable dog is precisely what you need. Preferably a dog like this (who was shot three times by an armed invader and continued to defend his family).

Hope I'm not generalizing too much, but this stuff is getting to be ridiculous.

Mind if break my own rule and generalize about the generalizers? I'm thinking that the problem might be that outraged decent people in places like Saginaw are thinking along the following lines.... You can't ban certain people (I'm the first to admit a law saying "no scummy lowlife people are allowed in our town" would be unconstitutional), nor can you ban them from owning guns unless they are felons. And of course it is now well settled that you can't ban guns. But scummy lowlife people are all allowed to have dogs, with no exception for felons. Little wonder the cops are scared to death of bad people's dogs.  

But they can't pass a law saying scummy lowlife people are not allowed to have dogs capable of inflicting damage. For starters, how do you define scummy lowlife people? After all, we live in a society with a huge egalitarian fetish. No conceivable, identifiable, or even theoretically identifiable group of people may be discriminated against in any way.

But because dogs are not people, the result is that dogs are becoming one of the few targets left that people who want to ban people can still ban. 

So they become the scapegoat. We can do nothing about bad people having dogs capable of harm, so we must pass laws against all dogs capable of harm. 

We know who obeys these laws, don't we?

It's worked so well with guns.

posted by Eric at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

Marine Life Contaminated

Evidently the fish in the ocean are not paying attention to the 20 km exclusion zone around Fukushima. They should because there is a small radiation problem.

Radioactive iodine-131 readings taken from seawater near the water intake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant's No. 2 reactor reached 7.5 million times the legal limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted Tuesday.

The sample that yielded the high reading was taken Saturday, before Tepco announced Monday it would start releasing radioactive water into the sea, and experts fear the contamination may spread well beyond Japan's shores to affect seafood overseas.

The unstoppable radioactive discharge into the Pacific has prompted experts to sound the alarm, as cesium, which has a much longer half-life than iodine, is expected to concentrate in the upper food chain.

According to Tepco, some 300,000 becquerels per sq. centimeter of radioactive iodine-131 was detected Saturday, while the amount of cesium-134 was 2 million times the maximum amount permitted and cesium-137 was 1.3 million times the amount allowable.

I think there is really nothing to worry about. I suspect after further review the figure will have been found to be in error. At least 100 times too high. Maybe 10,000. A keyboard. A little editing and things will not be so bad. And don't forget that all that water in the oceans will dilute the radioactives. And the marine life in the ocean will concentrate it. Uh. Oh. Stock up on tuna now. Well I never did like fish much anyhow. Or seaweed.

The South Koreans are not pleased about the dumping of radioactive water into the sea.

Yomiuri's Seoul Correspondent reports (in Japanese; 11:19AM JST 4/5/2011):

(Seoul: Takashi Nakagawa) Regarding the release of radiation contaminated water into the ocean from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the South Korean government conveyed its worries to Japan's Foreign Ministry through its Embassy in Japan at night of April 4 [when TEPCO started dumping], that "this may cause problems in international law."

The South Korean government is not pleased that there was no prior, formal notice from the Japanese government concerning the release of the contaminated water.

Well yeah. Of course if sea food is a big part of the local diet and the sea food is no longer safe to eat in quantities that can only mean one thing: a bigger strain on planetary food resources. The South Koreans can afford to buy food at higher prices. The Egyptians? The Syrians? Not so much.

The Japanese Government has it all figured out. If they can only get the French to stop kibitzing from the sidelines.

Now that Japan is openly dumping contaminated water and their government telling everyone who still listens that everything is safe, let's hear what the French experts have to say about the impact on marine life.

France's Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (IRSN) issued a paper on April 1 on impact of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident on the marine environment.

It doesn't seem that safe to me. The summary below (google-translated as my French is very rusty) says that while some of radioactive materials will be dispersed wide and over long distance, others will set on the particles suspended in water and will sink to the ocean floor, causing sediment contamination.

Oh great. The ocean floor will be contaminated with the likes of cesium-137 or worse. But not to worry. The Japanese government recommends you eat all the fish and seaweed you want, every single day for 365 days, and you still get only a quarter of the safe radiation dosage per year. What a bargain.

The paper is not yet translated into English/Japanese yet, but the Institute has started to do that for their March papers.

You can read more about it at the link. And let us not forget that the "quarter of the safe radiation dosage per year" is based on what has already happened. It ain't over.

But the geniuses running the show have a really great idea. Yarmulkes. Really.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Cloth Caps Over Reactors Coming, and All That's Left for Japan is a Luck

The only way I can think of right now that would make a difference in tackling the Fukushima I nuke plant disaster is for a foreign country or two to declare war on the government of Japan for endangering its own citizens and endangering the rest of the world by their totally incompetent handling of the crisis, and go occupy the country, arrest all the officials and pols and bureaucrats and throw them in jail, and the occupation force get to work.

But alas, the Japanese government, and the Japanese people to some extent, has squandered the goodwill and willingness to help from the rest of the world. Now, no one cares. The rest of the world look on with bemuse, as the next amusing episode unfolds, of what the Japanese government can screw up.

The next amusing episode is going to be the cloth caps that they declared on Sunday that they would be building very shortly to put over the reactors.

According to Kyodo News Japanese (4/4/2011), the Japanese government overrode the objection from even the researchers who had been cheerleading the government every step of the way. Their objection was that the radioactive materials coming from the Reactor buildings were actually far less than the radioactive materials that had fallen on the debris around it, and by capping the reactors they would run the risk of concentration of the radioactive materials inside the reactors, and of further hydrogen explosions.

You can by yarmulkes from Amazon. But I don't think that will cover it.

Maybe they should be thinking bigger. Like Circus tents. Because what I see going on is one hell of a circus. With lions, tigers, and rattle snakes running free. One hell of a show but it will scare you to death. If the lions or tigers don't get you first.

I have never ever been so depressed about the state of the world.

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.
Ah. Well. It could be worse. I expect that soon it will be.

H/T Zero Hedge

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:13 PM


The Prometheus Award is a big deal in science fiction.

The Prometheus Award is an award for libertarian science fiction novels given annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society, which also publishes a quarterly journal Prometheus. L. Neil Smith established the award in 1979, but it was not awarded regularly until the newly founded Libertarian Futurist Society revived it in 1982. The Society created a Hall of Fame Award (for classic works of libertarian science fiction, not necessarily novels) in 1983, and also presents occasional one-off awards.

The winners are the leading authors in their field and a highly distinguished bunch (even I've heard of most of them, and I'm not much of a sci-fi reader.)


May I please hear a drumroll?

. ... ...

Yesterday the 2011 Prometheus Best Novel Finalists were announced, and they include our own Sarah Hoyt!

The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are (in alphabetical order by author):


Darkship Thieves features an exciting, coming-of-age saga in which a heroic woman fights for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical Earth. Hoyt's novel depicts a plausible anarchist society among the asteroids. This is Hoyt's first time as Prometheus finalist.

Incredibly cool. We are very proud of Sarah and hope she wins.

The neat thing about this award is that unlike the Oscars, Sarah won't have to kiss Sean Penn.

Of course, if Coco reads this she might want a kiss...


posted by Eric at 08:23 AM | Comments (6)

Oceans Will Be Impacted

Some really cheery news from Japan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says that if the current situation continues for a long time, with accumulation of more radioactive substances, there will be "a huge impact on the ocean."
Well OK. If it continues for a long time.

What are the odds of that?

William Brinkman, director of the Dept. of Energy's Office of Science, was in Oak Ridge this past week and spoke to the East Tennessee Economic Council on Friday. Brinkman touched on many topics, including Japan's nuclear emergency and how the DOE and its labs are trying to help. He didn't try to sugarcoat what he termed a "tremendous tragedy."

The DOE science chief, who formerly was VP for research at Bell Labs, senior research physicist at Princeton and president of the American Physical Society, said it's a very complicated and "tricky" situation. He noted that ORNL and other labs are trying to address some of the difficult chemistry questions and help prevent additional hydrogen explosions or other setbacks.

"But it's probably not going to be over for six months to a year before things really settle down in a way in which we're absolutely sure that nothing is going to happen," Brinkman said.

I wonder if six months to a year qualifies as a long time? I wonder where they are going to put all the cooling water they are going to need for the next six months to a year? The cooling will have to continue for at least 24 months. Probably longer. Where is all that water going to go? Now if they could deploy heat exchangers they could probably use fresh water just for make up and let the sea water do the cooling. How long to deploy such equipment? And where will they get a nuclear qualified heat exchanger on short notice? If they have to manufacture one or six of them it will take time. The steam condensers that are part of the plant could be used if they are intact and they can get the pumps working and they can make the necessary plumbing arrangements. Good luck with that in a high radiation environment. In fact good luck with any solution in a high radiation environment.

Charlie Foxtrot.

H/T My friend Eric of Classical Values for the knoxnews link via e-mail.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:35 PM | Comments (7)

Semiconductors And Japan's Earthquake

I have a couple of prognostications on the effect of the Japanese earthquake on semiconductors. Here is the first. There are several bullet points. I'm going to list those plus the final conclusion.

1. GDP will fall
2. Electronic systems will take a hit
3. There will be no change in IC forecast
4. Supply chain issues will be resolved

5. Supply will be constrained but impact on demand will be slight

"In the final analysis, there is no doubt that supply will be constrained in numerous areas relating to the electronic system and semiconductor industries due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. However, on a worldwide basis, demand for electronic systems and semiconductors is expected to be only slightly lessened due to the disaster in Japan. Moreover, any lessening of system or semiconductor demand in 2011 due to the earthquake is forecast to be delayed and pushed into 2012, but not destroyed."

That seems about right. Disruptions will decline through 2011 and then if no further disasters strike (like Tokyo getting a big dose of radioactive fallout) things will be back on track in 2012.

Here is a report that provides some further detail.

The disaster, including the earthquakes, a tsunami and an ongoing crisis they caused at the country's nuclear power plants, has not only damaged semiconductor manufacturing facilities, but also affectedJapan's electrical supply and transportation infrastructure.

Thus, many companies are having trouble getting important supplies and shipping out the products they have manufactured.

And it could be four to six months before semiconductor production fully resumes in Japan, said Dale Ford, a senior vice president with IHS iSuppli, a research firm. And that will have a major impact on worldwide supply since Japan is a major cog in the global semiconductor manufacturing process.

Actually, Ford noted that a few of Japan's production facilities are so badly damaged that they may never come back online again.

"This is the biggest impact on the electronics supply chain in the history of the semiconductor industry," said Ford during a Webinar that iSuppli hosted Friday. "We've had other disasters but this is the most significant supply chain impact that the industry has ever experienced."

iSuppli reported last month that the disaster in Japan is currently putting a pinch on 25% of the worldwide production of silicon wafers used to make computer chips. But the trouble is going further than that, according to Ford.

Silicon wafer production has been affected, along with the production of LCD screens, silicon and chemicals, like hydrogen peroxide, used in the manufacturing of computer chips.

Len Jelinek, a director and chief analyst with iSuppli, said that 75% of the global supply of hydrogen peroxide has been affected by the disaster in Japan. The chemical is used to build semiconductor wafers.

"This is a critical situation in that numerous manufacturing fabs that use this chemical are unable to get adequate supplies, which results in slow downs," said Jelinek. "This is rapidly turning into a very concerning issue."

Ford noted that three Japanese facilities that make silicon have not yet been able to return to operation since the earthquake hit on March 11.

So things may not be as rosy as the first report indicates.

If you need a new computer in the next six months to a year my opinion is that you should buy now.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:09 PM | Comments (1)

The Sarah Doctrine

No, not THAT Sarah. Though she's welcome to swipe it. As is the White House, if they wish to give a rest to that magic eight ball they've been using for foreign policy.

What started me thinking on this was an email from my brother. My brother's political opinions are as different from mine as opinions can be. I think both of us agree that politics pertain to two-legged upright-walking mammals, but after that our thoughts are completely distinct.

My brother - with fulsome praise of it - sent me a video made by some Portuguese twit claiming that the US had been involved in wars with 200 countries in 200 years. This, of course, is supposed to prove our essential badness or perhaps the utter failure of capitalism. (Rolls eyes.) I'd like said twit - after he folds his opinions all in corners and sticks them where the sun don't shine - to consider making similar lists for France, Russia, (the Sov union, even) or any other country big enough or strategic enough to matter (like island countries on the coast of the US.)

Continue reading "The Sarah Doctrine"

posted by Sarah at 11:11 AM | Comments (16)

Chain Reactions

The Chlorine paper mentioned in the video.

There is a nice explanation of fission chain reactions in the video. My only minor quibble is that neutron production per fission is 2.5 not 2.0. His point about neutrons being hard to detect is true for standard issue body dosimeters. They are not hard to detect with the right instruments. After all we can detect neutrons from a lightning strike caused by fusion.

These neutrons already possess enormous energy - 2.45 MeV. However, in the atmosphere of our planet they are capable of living at most for 0.2 seconds, during which they will inevitably meet with nitrogen atoms and be absorbed by them. This time period is sufficient for neutrons to fly a distance of one or two kilometers.
The energy of these fusion neutrons are on the order of the energy of neutrons from fission. About 2 MeV.

Some of my previous posts on the criticality problem:

Criticality Accident?
Worst Case Scenario
Surrealistic Cement Shoes
Core On The Floor
Is A Recriticality Accident Possible?
A Random Source Of Neutrons
Owning Up

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:10 AM | Comments (1)

there is a big picture

Despite a fairly long discussion of purity yesterday, I don't think I was able to determine with any degree of accuracy how purity is to be defined, much less who gets to define it. I couldn't even determine whether purity comes from within a person or by reference to outside ideology. Is a person's purity determined by his inner character, or by his reputation? From where comes ideological purity in the political sense? From whether person A measures up to the standards of person B, or whether person A measures up to his own standards? If A's standards are not B's standards, then A is not pure according to B, but does that mean A is not pure?

Politicians say a lot of things, and they change their mind. How are things like sincerity or purity to be determined? M. Simon's earlier post about Donald Trump aroused my curiosity, and Googling him raised more questions than I could find answered.

How pure is Trump? Beats me. I don't even know what yardstick to use.

For all I know, the man might be pure to himself. He is certainly nowhere near pure according to either libertarian or conservative standards.

As to who is, I am not sure. It is certainly easier to determine whether someone measures up to the libertarian standard than the conservative standard, and it is important to note that as a practical matter, being a pure libertarian is so difficult that very, very few people can fairly be described as pure libertarians.

Because the label is more vague, being a conservative is easier than being a libertarian. There are so many people calling themselves conservatives and so many definitions of conservatism that conservative purity cannot be defined. What this means is that because libertarian purity can be defined and conservative purity cannot be, people calling themselves libertarians are more likely to be impure than those who call themselves conservatives. However, I have found in practice that the following tends to happen:

If you call yourself a conservative while with libertarians, you will not be accused of heresy. Because you are not expected to be pure.

If you call yourself a libertarian while with conservatives, you will not be accused of heresy. Again, because you are not expected to be pure.

However, if you call yourself a libertarian while with libertarians, or a conservative while with conservatives, at that point your purity becomes a legitimate subject of inquiry. You can be expected to be pure, and asked the usual litmus test questions. And of course, there's a lot more fuzziness about the nature of conservative purity than there is about libertarian purity. If you say that you're a libertarian but you support the war on drugs, you'll be lucky if you're not laughed out of the room. However, if you say you're a conservative and say you support the war on drugs, some will agree and some will disagree, because there is no absolutely settled conservative position on the drug war. How much deviation is tolerated varies. Supporting gun control is anathema in both the libertarian and conservative camps. Supporting gay marriage is the nearly unanimous libertarian position, and while opposing it is the majority conservative position, it is at least subject to debate. Abortion is a mixed bag in both camps, and emotions run hotter on that issue than on almost any other issue. (I avoid it like the plague, because my opinions please no one in any of the camps.) As to fiscal restraint and free markets, the two camps are in nearly unanimous agreement, and both are highly suspicious of politicians who promise but do not deliver. Libertarians of course draw a much harder, more absolutist line on economic issues and small government -- to the point where they are considered radical kooks by some conservatives. War is an interesting issue which is emerging again. While the traditional rule has been for libertarians to be much more anti-war than conservatives, around here conservatives are very war weary, are sick of long term nation building enterprises, and very skeptical of Obama's performance as commander in chief. While it may change, I am not seeing a lot of disagreement between conservatives and libertarians on the war yet.

The "conservative libertarian" (or "libertarian conservative") label avoids arguments with purist ideologues in both camps, for it is an admission of impurity. Who can quibble with its accuracy?

It's a bit like saying a dog is a mutt; would anyone question a mutt's impurity credentials?

But as I say that, I can almost hear Coco saying "I not a mutt!"

She is a bi-eyed devil dog!


But what about the racial purists who want to kill her because of her genes? Maybe I'd be better off destroying her registration and calling her a mutt to protect her from them. That would be a lie, would it not? But would it be morally wrong to lie to a pit bull killing government agency if my goal was to save her life? I don't think so, but then, there's nothing pure about my morality.

At least they haven't identified libertarian or conservative genes yet. There is a right to call yourself whatever you want or whatever you are (regardless of accuracy), and there is still a right to call yourself or even be a human political mutt. 

Notwithstanding all of my problems with libertarian and conservative purity, there is a big picture I don't mean to neglect here. If we look at all of those who are in the conservative and libertarian soup, they range from being extreme anti-statists who believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution to being somewhat statists (softly statist) who believe the Constitution is the law of the land but needs a more flexible interpretation. 

Contrast this with the other side.

They are total statists who believe the Constitution means nothing.

The choice is obvious.

Regardless of my personal preferences, I would vote for even a semi-statist over a total statist, and I would vote for an interpreter of the Constitution over someone who thinks it is a meaningless document.

(Coco thinks the big picture is all about her, though.)

MORE: A friend just emailed me a link to this horror story from Ireland about a dog which the government executed for the crime of "looking like a pit bull."

Which means appearances can get you killed, even if you're a mutt.

posted by Eric at 10:05 AM | Comments (5)

ranking the impurities of the outranked

Not that I needed a reminder of how impure I am, but Glenn Reynolds has linked a couple of great posts on libertarian purity by Tom Knighton which reminded me that I hardly alone in grappling with this problem.

Knighton's latest post discusses a touchy subject for some libertarian purists -- moderate libertarians

These can be Democrats who aren't fans of welfare or it could be pro-gay marriage Republicans.  I'm not talking about moderate Republicans who support regulations or gun control.  That's an important difference.

As for co-opting the term, I certainly agree.  However, my point is that arguing someone isn't a libertarian because of a few differences is silly.  Obviously, at some point the term certainly can be rendered meaningless if everyone can use the term however they want.  No one was saying that was OK in any way.

The reality is, however, that everyone will have their own definitions of what it is to be libertarian.  Everyone will also have an issue or two that are touchstone issues, ones that illustrate someone's potential to vote a certain way on unforeseen issues.  For me, gun rights is such an issue.  I can't vote for a pro-gun control candidate no matter how great he or she is on economics.  It's just how it goes.

I too would be unable to vote for a pro-gun control candidate as I feel very strongly about that issue. But even saying that brings to mind the question -- what is gun control? I am reminded of libertarian purists in Berkeley who once devoted the better part of an evening debating whether the sale of handguns in elementary school vending machines should be allowed. Such people may be pure, but they are not living in the real world. Not allowing guns to be sold in school vending machines is gun control, and I support that. So does that mean I am in favor of gun control? I don't think so.

To many libertarians, though, my greatest shortcoming is my tendency to support a strong defense, and even intervention into countries posing a threat to us. For supporting the war in Iraq I was repeatedly attacked as non-libertarian, so I graciously accepted the title of "pseudo libertarian." (Oh the pain.)

After years of struggling with ideological terminology, I still don't know what to call myself. Usually it's just "small-l libertarian." But if I had to be honest, I would have to admit that I am most likely either a conservative libertarian, or a libertarian conservative. (But don't ask me to define the difference; this stuff is hard enough as it is.)

I'm also an admitted pragmatist who doesn't especially like arguments, especially over ideology. These days especially, libertarian (better yet libertarianish) is a vague enough label that by calling yourself that you can keep a fairly low profile, and maximize your chances of avoiding interrogation or criticism from most purists as they don't know where to start. And in places like Berkeley or Ann Arbor, if you call yourself a libertarian people won't like it, but you won't face the same sort of reaction as if you call yourself a conservative. This is not to say there aren't genuine conservatives here; only that libertarians tend to have an easier time admitting to being libertarian than conservatives have to admitting conservative -- even though both tend to be in the closet for obvious reasons.

Not that what other people might think should ever influence what people call themselves, but this touches on the difference between what is admitted publicly and what is the truth. I have long suspected that some of the people calling themselves libertarian in leftist lalalands are actually conservatives who are trying to avoid flak. Whether that helps dishonestly expand libertarian ranks, I do not know. I am not interested in policing other people's purity, as I can barely police mine.

What is more dishonest? Being a conservative who calls himself a libertarian to make himself more palatable to liberals, or a libertarian who calls himself a conservative to make himself more palatable to conservatives?

And which term is more binding in the "purity" sense: libertarian? or conservative?

And exactly what is purity? How is it to be determined without reference to what other people think? I did not create these labels, so why should I have to live up to them? I mean, is it "my" purity I am talking about here, or is purity to be defined according to other people's standards?

I have recently felt obligated to discuss my conservative impurity, for if one thing is certain, it's that I do not measure up to the standards of many of the ideologues who define the term. A problem I have had for some time is that there are generally more people whose politics I cannot stand (and would not want to identify with) who call themselves "conservative" than there are people whose politics I abhor who call themselves libertarians. And because conservatism is an imprecise term, there is a natural tendency to allow it to be defined by default -- to the loudest self appointed conservative ideologues. Which means that if Michael Savage's political views constitute conservatism, it becomes easy to say, "If Michael Savage is a conservative, then I know I am not a conservative." Ditto Alan Keyes, WorldNetDaily, Robert Knight and the three-legged stool, and Steve King's statement of conservative principles (which I find too statist for my liking). 

But does that settle it? Should whatever conservatism I possess be defined and measured by what I disagree with, or by what I agree with?

Ronald Reagan (known for saying that libertarianism is at the heart of conservatism) famously said that someone who agrees 80% of the time, is not a traitor but an ally. How that is to be squared with the "three-legged stool" phrase commonly attributed to him (but which I cannot find anywhere as a Reagan quote) I do not know. 

But how is any "ism" to be measured? By listing all of the issues and totalling them up? Are not some issues more important than others? For example, I think it might be possible to disagree over marijuana laws or gay rights and still be philosophically conservative, but for the life of me I cannot see how anyone who supports gun control or socialized medicine can be considered a conservative. Notice that I did not list abortion, which looms ever larger as a litmus test for conservatism. If you are running for any political office, you might not be asked about drug laws or health care, but you absolutely will be vetted on the abortion issue, and given a RTL rating.

I don't make these rules, but it makes it difficult to figure out how to apply the 80% agreement rule, which doesn't seem to factor in the relative weight of the issues.

So, in coming up with a scale to measure someone's isms, it isn't just a question of listing the various issues and checking them off, but weighing them in terms of ideological importance.

Does it come down to what issues are the biggest deal killers for the greatest number of people? That sounds as if "purity" is an external measurement, enforced by others, and subject to change depending on the mood of the majority. 

But is that really it? Is "purity" simply determined by a given majority of people at a point in time? 

Or do the "leaders" get to decide these things. Is that it? Do those who outrank me get to rank my impurity?

Have I no impurity of essence to call my own?

Help me! I'm more confused than ever.

posted by Eric at 10:43 AM | Comments (7)

Donald Trump? For President?

The White House Insider thinks that Donald Trump has a good chance of beating Obama. In discussing that he has a deep critique of the Republicans.

The dynamics of a Trump campaign - I find it a fascinating prospect. He could defeat Obama - he really could. And he can play tough. All of the baggage Obama carries that Republicans are too afraid to bring up - too willing to remain politically correct. Too afraid to be seen as attacking the "Black" president...I don't think Donald Trump would have that fear. And you can't tell me there aren't a lot of voters out there screaming at their televisions or radios or whatever, wondering why somebody doesn't call Obama out on his bullshit. Just lay it out there. Stop playing nice, right. The goddamn country is at stake here and the Republicans are still playing nice.
Ah yes. First it was $100 billion in cuts. Then some $60 billion. The current figure is $33 billion. Soon to be revised downward no doubt.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:38 AM | Comments (5)

Barbarians in the Mideast, and in the Midwest

Looking at the murderous rampage committed in response to the latest Koran-burning incident, Ed Morrissey made an observation with which I completely agree:

The only people responsible for murders are those who commit them, and those who specifically incite them to kill.  Any other position eventually wipes out free speech, free religious practice, and freedom altogether.  If we held others responsible for the acts of every nutcase whose violent reactions may or may not have connections to something they did or said, we would have no speech at all -- a point we made repeatedly during the Left's Loughner frenzy, which they conveniently forgot during the Madison protests.

They conveniently forget a lot, don't they?

If right wing nutcases had behaved this way, they'd be screaming that the eliminationist rhetoric of people like Rush Limbaugh drove them to it:

According to the criminal complaint, Windels allegedly sent an email threat to State Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) March 9. Later that evening, she allegedly sent another email to 15 Republican legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).

The subject line of the second email was: "Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!" In that email, she purportedly wrote, "Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks."

"I hope you have a good time in hell," she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email in which she purportedly listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by "putting a nice little bullet in your head."

Now, I am not blaming Media Matters, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, or any of the leftist mouthpieces who are into fuming and inciting the mob.

Those who make the threats are those who make the threats.

But I do think it's worth noting that similar left-wing nutjobs are making similar death threats here in Michigan:

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy received numerous death threats and bomb threats in the aftermath of national publicity about a Freedom of Information Act request it sent to three public universities.

The messages were left on the Center's voice mail Thursday night and early Friday morning, but it is unclear at this point if one or two women were responsible for the threats.

Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman said the Mackinac Center has contacted law enforcement about the threats.

"We, along with the authorities, are doing everything necessary to protect ourselves," Lehman said. "No threats will prevent us from showing the public how universities spend tax dollars."

There were five messages left containing death or bomb threats. Four of them appear to be from the same caller. A fifth message was from a woman who left a death threat and, unlike the previous caller, left her name and indicated she lived in a neighboring state. It was unclear if the second caller was the same as the first caller.

In one message, a female voice said: "Scotty Walker is dead. So are you. We know where you live." The woman then recited the Mackinac Center's address and said, "We are coming up to destroy you."

In another message, a female who left her name said: "You are on Main Street. You are the first place to be bombed."

In another message, a female voice said: "We are going to destroy everybody. We are going to destroy all of you. All of you die. Midland, Michigan. Get ready. We are going to destroy all of you."

Lovely. And remember, that is not a response to the desecration of a revered holy book, but to a mere Freedom of Information request.

Granted, deranged leftist idiots haven't gone from death threats to actual killings as in Aghanistan, but the way the left carries on, you'd think they had a total a monopoly on virtue.

The repeated calls for murder are nothing more than a form of barbarianism, differing only in degree from the actual murders in Afghanistan. 

I blame the perps. Not leaders who may have made them feel justified, much less their political enemies.

But I can't turn a blind eye to the fact that they are deranged barbarians, and that they utterly refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, instead blaming their adversaries.

Nor can I ignore the fact that they have supporters.

posted by Eric at 09:21 PM | Comments (1)

SOS From Japan

Via Zero Hedge.

The mayor of Minami Soma city, located 25 km away from the Fukushima plant, had decided to bypass the traditional channels in requesting assistance out of disgust and frustration with the government's handling of the disaster, and instead is appealing to the entire world via this soon to be viral video clip which was recorded over a week ago but is only now making the rounds. In the clip, mayor Katsunobu Sakurai says: "We are left to ourselves... we risk dying of hunger." Minami Soma, once a city of over 70,000 and which may now be down to as little 20,000, is asking for volunteers to do what the Japanese government refuses to do: namely to help those most in need of if not help, then at least potentially life-saving information. The mayor expresses his disappointment at the lack of support from the central government for the city's remaining residents, and accuses the government of not providing sufficient information to help in the decision making process.
My take is that it is not just insufficient information (which is one way of lying) but the government and TEPCO are in my opinion falsifying information. They may be trying to prevent a panic. OTOH when (if) the falsification charge proves true it will generate a bigger panic because there will be no proven reliable source of information.

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

Self incrimination? At the doctor's office?

Dr. Helen raised the issue of doctors asking their patients about gun ownership, and she linked a post by GruntDoc condemning a proposal which would prohibit doctors from questioning their patients about guns.

GruntDoc sees it as an attempt to limit medical practice and as a free speech issue, and I see his point. If there's one place the government does not belong, it is anywhere in the confidential relationship between patient and physician. But what worries me is that there's more to it than that. The state is already involved, bigtime. So are the insurance companies, which are about an inch away from being de facto part of the government. As one of Dr. Helen's commenters pointed out, doctors are often only asking about guns because insurance companies tell them to:

Hum... The last time I was posed this question on a form (my initial visit to a particular doctor), I answered "No, but it's none of your business."

He did apologize, but claimed that he was required to ask by the insurance companies.

If the doctor is forced to ask the question, how can it be "free speech"? 

And what about the patient? Does he understand that he has a free speech right not to answer or is there a certain amount of compulsion inherent in a question by a doctor about a patient's personal life? Many doctors these days are anti-gun activists, and the patient might have a number of good reasons in not wanting to tell him that he has guns. What should he do? It's easy to tell him to stomp out of there and find another doctor, but suppose it's a big HMO and he can't select his doctor. Suppose it's his assigned personal primary care physician and he needs help right now because he's sick and can't wait for the bureaucrats to reassign him after a long search for a replacement followed by an even longer phone call to the damned company. What if the patient wants to keep his gun ownership in the closet because he fears government gun grabbers? Should he refuse to answer (thereby inviting more questions and more attention from the insurance company) or should he simply lie?

This raised another troubling question in my mind.

Is there a right to lie to a physician? I'm not saying it's a good idea to lie to your doctor, mind you. Lying to your doctor (especially about health issues) is a recipe for personal disaster. But in the normal course of life, lying is within the rubric of what we call free speech -- every bit as much as the right to ask an annoying or invasive question.

Let's take questions like these as an example:

Do you smoke?

Do you drink?

Do you eat processed foods, sugar, or soda?

Do you always keep your seat belt fastened?

Do you always shut off your car engine when idling to save energy and do other things to reduce your carbon footprint?

Do you drink only shade-grown, fair-trade coffee?

The first four questions mostly pertain to health, so they might properly be asked by a doctor. But if you are not in the mood for a stern health lecture, should you be able assert the same "free speech" right to lie that you can with the last two questions? Putting aside the stupidity of lying to your own doctor, does the doctor's status as a quasi-authority figure change anything in this equation?

What about the fact that anything you say to your doctor can and will go into your medical records, and these records can then be examined by the insurance company?

What is "free" in the First Amendment sense about that kind of speech?

What worries me is that we are fast approaching a point where lying to a doctor will soon be insurance fraud if it isn't already. Insurance fraud is a crime. And when a doctor is required to ask questions by an insurance company, how far is that from the patient being obligated to answer?

And unlike voicing an opinion about a political issue, answers to such questions by doctors can have consquences. Sometimes legal consequences, as a man found out when he told his doctor he drank a six pack of beer a day. The doctor reported that to the DMV, which took away the patient's drivers license.

Not surprisingly, doctors not only tend to see themselves as authority figures, but they are increasingly becoming actual authority figures, with real power over patients. An emerging trend is that just as lying to the police is a crime, lying to a doctor is considered insurance fraud:

"Doctors can't always promise to conceal the truth. I can say lets talk about it, but I can't promise it won't go into the record. We won't falsify our records. I won't say a patient doesn't smoke when he does. If you're trying to hide something from your insurance company, or trying to keep smoking or drug use out of your insurance history or record, that is a shame or a problem or both.

"I don't think you should lie on a medical record. If you lie to your physician, and that becomes part of your insurance record, you are subject to fraud. It is better not to lie, period. You may say this is something I don't want to talk about. But for legal reasons, I don't think patients should lie on insurance records. Worrying about increased premiums is not a justification for fraud.

"If there is something you are doing you can't share with someone, maybe you shouldn't be doing it. If there is something you can't even tell your doctor in privacy, you should think about whether this is an appropriate behavior or decision. If you are drinking so much you can't even tell your doctor how much, this should hit you upside the head as a warning sign that something is very, very wrong with your health."

I agree that lying to a doctor about such things is stupid and self-defeating, but if doctors are required to rat on their patients and lying to them is considered a crime, then what is left of physician-patient confidentiality? Why should patients tell the truth to their doctors? 

To illustrate how precarious the situation is, one doctor actually recommends giving Miranda-style warnings to patients:

Peel says all doctors should give their patients a "Miranda-like warning" that anything they say or treatment they receive may wind up being shared with a third-party payer (like an insurer). "Ethically, doctors and all mental health professionals are responsible to disclose anything that might possibly harm their patients, including the fact that information they share with you might possibly be cause for an insurance denial later on."

While I think it is horrible that things have reached such a point, they are only going to get worse. Your medical records are poised to become government property.

When Democrat operatives were discovered to be snooping into Scott Brown Family's Medical Records, Glenn observed,

Just think how much easier that sort of thing will be for them once ObamaCare is fully implemented.

Just think is right. 

And just thinking about these things gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Medical Miranda warnings are absolutely in order. So, it isn't so much the First Amendment we should be worried about here as it is the Fourth Amendment.

(Not a new issue here, but these days hardly anything is....)

posted by Eric at 02:46 PM | Comments (4)

Engineering Report
Picture Source

If you want to read an engineers view of the current status of Fukushima may I suggest An Engineer's View. If you have been following my work on the subject you know that my conclusions are very similar. And why not? I'm Naval Nuke trained.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:23 PM | Comments (2)

Radiation Apocalypse Preparation

A nice review of the events of the last three weeks at Fukushima can be found at the link. It is in Power Point format. If you prefer a pdf you can get that here. You can also get daily status updates from the IAEA here.

So now you know about the apocalypse. What can be done? A guy over at Zero Hedge said there was a do it yourself movement happening in Japan right now to design and build radiation detection instruments. So I looked it up.

You could help design a Geiger counter power supply. I added some words of wisdom in the comments. Another guy working on the Geiger counter problem.

A radio amateur has developed a quasi-calibrated radiation detector (electroscope) that you can build from thread, tin foil, cardboard, and a scrap of wire. Not too sturdy but quite handy in an extreme emergency.

Here is an interesting one from the beginning of the accident: Kimono Lantern and Humanitarian Open Source Hardware.

Written by Akiba Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Things have been crazy here in Tokyo for the past few days. After the Tohoku earthquake, there's been constant streaming of horrible visual images of the disaster on Japanese news. Along with that, there have been warnings of aftershocks up to a magnitude of 8.0, potential nuclear disasters, rolling blackouts, lack of transportation, and dwindling supplies in local supermarkets and grocery stores. It's a stressful situation in Tokyo which has over 25M people and life is anything but normal. It's a chore just to get to work and many feel powerless to do anything but watch the unfolding nuclear situation and hope that it can get contained before a disaster happens. In writing this post, it gives me an excuse to tear myself away from the fear mongering news streams which I'm constantly glued to.

In the hackerspace, we'll be holding our meeting tonight and will probably start hammering out plans to figure out how and where we can help. There are many things that are needed right now in the quake stricken area. There is no power, internet access is extremely limited, food and clean water are dwindling, and transportation to the area is limited. What we decide on will probably depend on what's needed and available at the time.

In any case, one immediate thing that can be done is to provide a source of light to people. With no electricity and limited supplies, flashlights and batteries are a luxury. In the hackerspace, we designed the Kimono Lantern as a solar rechargeable lantern to decorate gardens and patios with. However it has a much bigger use right now as the quake victims have no power and many are spending their nights in the dark. Also, parts of Tokyo will be suffering from blackouts until the power grid can get back to normal levels. With a major nuclear generating plant offline, this could take from weeks to months.

Pictures of the beginnings of a Kimono Lamp.

BTW - should anyone be interested I have a design for an LED flashlight that will operate 200 hours continuously or 10 years flashing (it is always on) on two C cells. The market for this sort of thing should be up for the next couple of years. Contact me if you want to take a shot at it.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 06:19 PM


What is going on with this damned blog?????

Look at the top! Holy shit!

Has the unimaginable and unthinkable actually happened?

I am going to look into this, and heads will roll!

(I guess I can't say I wasn't warned....)

MORE: I have emailed both M. Simon and Sarah seeking an explanation.

This is an outrage up with which I shall not put! The last time we got hacked it turned out to be related to the Traditional Values Coalition, but I wouldn't have expected such dirty, lowdown, Christianist technological treachery from Andrew.


AND MORE: I guess I should consider myself lucky that it's only Andrew Sullivan who is victimizing me. Sean Kinsell found himself being stalked all the way to Brazil by much more powerful forces!

MORE: I was starting to suspect Dave too, but just as I was getting ready to email him, Sarah started playing innocent, and said she needed a new monitor.

Amanda already ratted you out, Sarah.

But I did find you a new monitor!



MORE: M. Simon emailed back, saying "Sullivan is just trying to hit the big time."

Big time indeed. I strongly suspect big time collusion.

This is an outrage.

MORE: The problem has finally been solved. After midnight, the pumpkin turned back into a lime and all was well.


posted by Eric at 02:22 PM | Comments (12)

Helping al-Qaeda? I hope not.

Here's a tidbit I find myself unable to ignore, yet because of my lack of access to reliable information, any opinions I have are conditioned on the reliability of other people's opinions. (How I hate that! Usually I remain silent about such things....)

Anyway, Brian P. Fairchild (who has a CIA background and who seems quite well informed, notwithstanding certain aspects of his POV) thinks that the Arab revolts are improving a-Qaeda's strategic position, and his conclusion is ominous:

....superficial statements by commentators regarding al-Qaeda's diminished stature make good sound bites, they underscore a poor understanding of al-Qaeda as well as the political dynamics of the region, and provide a false sense of security.

When one assesses the situation in an objective, fact-based, country-by-country manner, one can only conclude that al-Qaeda's strategic position has vastly improved, that it will continue to reap benefits from the chaos, and that we will likely pay the price for these developments in the not-too-distant future.

I sincerely hope that he is wrong, because doing anything that might help enable al-Qaeda is not in our national interest. 

Because of my ignorance, like many Americans I would like to think that we have leaders who know what they are doing.

However as Victor Davis Hanson reminds us, our foreign policy is being conducted by a president with no idea what he is doing:

...Obama has no principled or strategically logical foreign policy. So it is mostly loud declarations that he is not George Bush and making things up ad hoc as he goes along. Here, I think, is what happened with Libya.

Nearly the entire Middle East (save the bugaboo democracies in Iraq and Israel) erupts three months ago against a potpourri of oligarchy, theocracy, dictatorship, monarchy, and military juntas -- the common thread being anger against corrupt, kleptocratic dynasties that have ruined the economies of what should be otherwise rich countries and denied basic freedoms.

Obama is confused and has no typology of these uprisings, except a crude binary. On the one hand, some of the demonstrations are against pro-American strongmen and thus can be channeled into "the hope and change," "we are the change we've been waiting for" left rhetoric. He thus piggy-backed (albeit belatedly as is his "vote-present" style) onto Tunisia and Egypt. We endorsed the reformers only when we knew they were going to win and they seemed to reflect liberal "change" against Cold War-like, American client SOBs.

Some others rebellions, however, were clearly aimed at anti-American pseudo-revolutionary regimes and so they have prompted a very different response from Obama. In the case of Iran, he apologized for 1953 and promised not to "meddle"; initially with Qaddafi he was silent. And he still practices "outreach" with the Syrian "reformer" Assad.

Well, Obama's foreign policy may be incoherent, but at least his incoherence has become predictable. But that incoherence should not be taken literally.


Further confounding any attempt at analysis on my part is my tendency to weigh possible domestic political implications. In a fit of paranoia, I worried that one of Obama's foreign policy goals even might be to encourage divisions on the right, especially among Tea Party supporters.

I should know better, right?

After all, foreign policy is never dictated domestic political considerations....

I can only hope that this does not turn out to be a mess.

But even hope is getting to be one of those weasel words, dammit!

MORE: The evidence accumulates.

A look back at the origins of the Libyan insurrection shows that a victory by the rebels could be a victory for Islamist-inspired blasphemy laws and a defeat for freedom of expression.

Read it all. I understand that sometimes it is necessary to form coalitions with one enemy to defeat another enemy, but this is a particularly worrisome example.

I don't like it.

posted by Eric at 10:22 AM | Comments (2)

Owning Up

There is some bad news for the Japanese people.

According to the Mainichi newspaper Japan's government plans to take control of Tokyo Electric Power Co , the operator of a stricken nuclear power plant, by injecting public funds. However, it appears that Japan has learned a thing or two from Tim Geithner and the concept of partially pregnant: " But the government is unlikely to take more than a 50 percent stake in the company, an unnamed government official was quoted by the daily as saying. "If the stake goes over 50 percent, it will be nationalised. But that's not what we are considering," the official was quoted by the paper as saying."
And that is the problem I have with nuclear power. The profits are privatized and the losses are socialized. By design in America.
The Act establishes a no fault insurance-type system in which the first approximately $12.6 billion (as of 2011) is industry-funded as described in the Act. Any claims above the $12.6 billion would be covered by a Congressional mandate to retroactively increase nuclear utility liability or would be covered by the federal government. At the time of the Act's passing, it was considered necessary as an incentive for the private production of nuclear power -- this was because electric utilities viewed the available liability coverage (only $60 million) as inadequate.
So what is the range of potential losses from the accident? Some think as little as $12 billion will cover the losses so far. Others think the numbers will be quite a bit higher.
The company could face compensation claims topping $130 billion if the nuclear crisis drags on, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch estimated this week, further fuelling expectations the government would step in to save Asia's largest utility.
Evidently things are dragging on.
A radioactive substance about 10,000 times the limit was detected from groundwater around the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday.

A Tokyo Electric official said the radiation level is ''extremely high.''

Note that the ratio is no longer with "normal" but it is now with the "limit" which will be quite a bit higher. That is quite a problem. And the fact that it is surface water says that the levels are probably high for a rather large area. If this means they can't keep people on site...... Oh. S**t.

And the problem is with radioactive iodine.

More signs of serious radiation contamination in and near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were detected Thursday, with the latest data finding groundwater containing radioactive iodine 10,000 times the legal threshold and the concentration of radioactive iodine-131 in nearby seawater rising to the highest level yet.

Radioactive material was confirmed from groundwater for the first time since the March 11 quake and tsunami hit the nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast, knocking out the reactors' key cooling functions. An official of the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said, ''We're aware this is an extremely high figure.''

The radioactive iodine is an indication that debris from reactor #1 has gone critical. But it is not definitive since Iodine 131 has an 8 day half life. A shorter lived isotope (detected previously) would give a better indication. And a Cesium report would be good to get some idea of long term problems.

In any case it is rather obvious that TEPCO is not up to the job.

A series of missteps and mistakes, combined with scant signs of leadership, have undermined confidence in the company.
No kidding.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:12 AM

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