Sunday, December 26, 2010


Word of warning to all my beloved readers: I will be in Reynosa, Mexico from December 26-31 with my church, for a work ministry trip. 

It's been great before, and I have the highest expectations of my God for our productivity and safe return. The plan this time does not involve me becoming sick, after the experience in July I seek to avoid eating all pastries that are older then 6 hours. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Ever Expanding Troop Levels in Afghanistan

H/t to Cato.
Interesting to note, the troop levels have essentially tripled since this administration began handling things. Geopolitically, Afghanistan is a phenomenal place to stage a ground threat to Iran, Pakistan, and even possibilities into China. So all this may be muscle flexing for the future relations with these nations.

Or it could just be that we're in a war we should not have entered with a society that is trying to deal with a mandate for 4000 years of social evolution within an 8 year time frame. Bombing a people out of the stone age is a foolhardy approach to world change.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Republicans Make a Good Move

The Exchequer: "Today is definitely a love day in my love-hate relationship with the Republicans. A 2,000-page pork-bomb replaced with a one-page continuing resolution? That is some nice work, Senator McConnell.
Other words that do not trip easily from my keyboard: John McCain really pulled it through.
Something has got into the Republican leadership, and that something is: fear. Wonderful, salubrious fear."

He makes a good point. Even with how incompetent a candidate O'Donnel was, it shows that the TEA partiers are just mad enough to run anyone at anytime if they think its more ideologically pure. Which can scare the stuffings out of an establishment electoral class, and that can be a good thing. 

Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I love this series of books. I was treated to a terrific adaptation of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was witness to the horrific butchering of Prince Caspian. The first was faithful to the original material, brimming with the life and vitality of Lewis' work. The second was deviant in the extreme, vapid and a treatise on how to mis-characterize in an adaptation. 

Enter Dawn Treader. I finished reading this wonderful book (again, 7th I think) within the past 2 weeks. Its a story of a nautical adventure in strange and uncharted waters, with little stringing the various chapters together but character growth and an ever present desire to account for all 7 of the missing nobles. 

Technically, this movie was well presented in 3d. Nothing on par with Avatar, but it didn't give me a headache either. Pleasant, but not worth paying extra for. 

What I appreciated immensely with this Narnia film was the accurate and meticulous characterization of the primary ensemble. Edmund, Lucy, Eustace, Caspian, Reepicheep were all done splendidly, vividly echoing their page-bound characters. This was a vast improvement over the previous film. 

The visualizations were stellar, an enchanting and vibrant world of fantasy from Lewis' fiction. The ship and the sea and the stars and the salt and the serpents felt real and concrete.  

The message was presented with alacrity, the avoidance of all temptations whilst striving to reach the land and quests Aslan set before them. Turn away from temptation and choose what is right, ect. 

What was excruciating to sit though was the plot deviations, such as the 'isle of evil' that sent 'green mist' amongst the sea seeking to devour all manner of creatures. The altercation of Eustace's dragon adventure was a horrific mistranslation of Lewis' tale. The addition of the 'seven swords to set the world to right' that needed to be laid upon Aslan's table. The alteration of the Sea Serpent from a rampaging monster of the deep, to something somehow created from the mists of evil.

I enjoyed this film, but to call it a representation of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader is grotesquely misleading. Nevertheless, I would recommend seeing it if you like fantasy movies, the Narnia series, or talking mice.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Good News on the Appointment Front

Announcment: "Rep. Ron Paul, Chairman, Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee

Jurisdiction: Domestic monetary policy, currency, precious metals, valuation of the dollar, economic stabilization, defense production, commodity prices, financial aid to commerce and industry."

If you want to know where this guy stands on monetary policy, read the short and pointed book by Mr. Paul, End the Fed. (This blogger enjoyed it enormously)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

International Income and Lifespan Over Time, Refined, with Play by Play

Swedish Professor Hans Rosling, a statistical visionary. Seriously, this stuff is boring as a dry flapjack until he starts doing play by play on it.
This BBC piece is the short bit, for a real earth shaker, watch this TED talk he gave in 2009 to the US State Department.

The best part? The statistical algorithm and display program he is using is freely available, and if it isn't the coolest data-correlation device available for socio-economic information, nothing is. Gapminder is the name of the group and software. (Interesting oddity? Rate of Child abuse / Washington DC)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Future of Tyranny

AP: "Taking a trip during the holidays isn't the only time that people might get a full-body scan to pass through security. People heading to court to testify, get a restraining order, pay a ticket or answer criminal charges could also face a full-body scan at courthouses.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which is in charge of protecting federal judges nationwide, is exploring their use at federal courthouses. And two state courthouses in Douglas and El Paso counties in Colorado have already deployed full-body scanners that use radio waves to detect all objects on a person, including paper.
A guard in a separate room monitors the gray images with pixelated faces and genital areas, and the images aren't stored on a computer. officials said. All visitors to the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., undergo full-body scans, while guards at the El Paso County Judicial Center in Colorado Springs use the scanners during peak hours."

The US Marshalls? The same agency that stored the images of 35,000 US citizens photographed with the back scatter devices?? The machines being pushed by former head of 'Homeland Security' Michael Chertoff for his own profit?

All of that. They have lied to us in recent memory, but full steam ahead with more of these uncompromising, malignant machines.

Need an example of what these machines can do(NSFW And if you know any women in your family, this is one heck of a picture to see. If, however, you are unaware of the existence of women upon the face of the earth, please do avoid this link)?
Gizmodo has the scoop, with over 100 individual examples put online, with the identifying features removed from the photos.

Remember, this new wave of pat down horror stories (Like clothes off searches of 5 year old boys) are being created on purpose, designed to push an agenda of the public using the backscatter imaging systems as the lesser of two evils. The obvious way to keep your junk clear of the infections gloves of TSA agents is to just have a machine take a picture of you naked, but unobtrusively and quickly.

The public will settle for the lesser of two evils, and in the mind of many, that is the Rapiscan devices. Its clever, if brutal, manipulation of the crowds by the US government. Even the outrage right now will almost inevitably lead to that. 

The next step? Installing these Iris scanners simultaneously with these machines. Already installed in Mexican municipalities, its easy to see a future for them stateside. Capable of reading 50 individuals a minute, even persons running through the machine at full speed.
Fast Company:
"The devices range from large-scale scanners like the Hbox (shown in the airport-security prototype above), which can snap up to 50 people per minute in motion, to smaller scanners like the EyeSwipe and EyeSwipe Mini, which can capture the irises of between 15 to 30 people per minute.
I tested these devices at GRI's facilities in New York City last week. It took less than a second for my irises to be scanned and registered in the company's database. Every time I went through the scanners after that--even when running through (because everybody runs, right, Tom Cruise?) my eyes were scanned and identified correctly. (...Welcome Austin," the robotic voice chimes.)"

Combine these with the suddenly acceptable-because-they-are-the-lesser-of-evils option Naked Body Scanners in Airports, Trains, subways, and possibly worst of all, courtrooms?
O'Brien would be proud.

When you can no longer enter a court of law to defend or to prosecute, the contract with society and the right to remain an individual with your own secrets is broken. There can be few moral reasons for a government to exist that requires those who formed it to strip naked and identify with a database before having the formal protections of the law.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In America, Head of a Household of 4 Earning Minimum Wage > Earning 60k

This chart really explains it, better then I can hope to articulate. 

Hat Tip to ZeroHedge. An excellent write up as well. 

Please note the disparity of the worker earning the bottom level on the chart, essentially working one week a month at minimum wage is earning 92% of the level of the 60k a year individual, who is presumably working full time. 

Even this seasoned blogger is incredulous. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ron Paul Earns My Respect Yet Again

The best sales pitch for this new bill: (Thank you Cspan for making this all Caps Lockified)

"But the bill that I have introduced will take care of it. It is very simple. It is one paragraph long. It removes the immunity from anybody in the Federal government that does anything that you or I can't do.
If you can't grope another person and if you can't X-ray people and endanger them with possible X-rays, you can't take nude photographs of individuals, why do we allow the government to do it? We would go to jail. He would be immediately arrested, if an individual citizen went up and did these things, and yet we just sit there and calmly say, oh, they are making us safe. And besides, the argument from the executive branch is that when you buy a ticket, you have sacrificed your rights and it is the duty of the government to make us safe.
That isn't the case. You never have to sacrifice your rights. The duty of the government is to protect our rights, not to use them and do what they have been doing to us."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seriously, Rapiscan?

Rapiscan is the name of the company making the Transportation Security Administration's vaunted Backscatter-Imaging/Full-Body-Scanner/Naked-Body-Scanner machines. 

I thought this was a joke until just now, when I looked it up. 

But Rapiscan is the real name. 
Apropos, no?

Incidentally, the CEO of Rapiscan is a long term Obama ally and donor. 
Interesting in a different manner is the support the Rapiscan group has received from investor George Soros, (see, and 2004 election) and Michael Chertoff, the former head of the so-called 'Homeland Security'. 

Soros? Savvy investing, albeit with an eye for using government power to further his ends.
Chertoff? Unvarnished conflict of interest with malevolent consequences for America. 

Here's where I think this is going:
The unions will negotiate their way out of this, dulling the outrage that flows from the Flight Attendants, and from the Pilots. 
This leaves the passengers with 2 options, having naked pictures of themselves taken (and stored) by their own government, or be sexually assaulted by their own government. Pretend not that these men and women running the TSA checkpoints are even Law Enforcement, because they are not. If either of these actions were done to you in Wal-Mart, their would be grounds for charges of a criminal variety.

The remaining option? Do not fly. 
That it has come to the point in America wherein we move backwards in the scale of transportation evolution is distressing in the extreme. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.
This is the glory being killed.  

Here's what we can do.
Immediately, November 24 is National Opt-Out day. This will be the busiest travel day of the year, so opting out of the Rapiscanner's can help show the absurdity of our sham system.

If you need further proof of the lesion upon the skin of the American people this is, look no further then a complete lack of probable cause, the compulsive overreaction to children, child abuse & pornography, threats of $10,000 fines for citizens seeking a refund, and forced shoe removal can start off a long list. 

This is an administration that needs to be abolished, if not immediately then with a 30 day notice to the airlines, the airports, and the TSA brown shirts. Let the concerned parties, eg, the Airlines, the Airports, their insurance policies, and the passengers who are actually at risk in these planes, handle their own security.
Better customer service, better security, faster, cheaper, and more likely to actually be effective if there is indeed a threat. 

Until then? Opt out. Every time.  Make this an issue whenever possible.

Dave Barry on Flight Screening

Is worth a laugh. 

Although, the reality of it is far from laughable, sometimes humor is the best way into the hearts and minds of a listless populace.

"The people ahead of me were allowed to go after being scanned, but I was not. I was pulled aside and told to stand in a small roped-off area. After I had stood there for several minutes, I asked a passing TSA person what was happening. He said, quote, "You have a blurred groin."
"I have a what?" I said.
"A blurred groin," he said. And then he walked away.
I tried to sneak a peek at my groin, but this is not easy to do inconspicuously when you are confined to a small roped-off area with many people around...." Link 

Quantative Easing Explained

Expository and concise.
And funny. Very funny.
Worst of all, true.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TSA on Ticket Purchasing

""By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights,""

-Your Transportation Security Administration

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Affirmative Action

Stossel @ Reason: "This week, I held a bake sale—a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, “Cupcakes for sale.” My price list read:
Asians — $1.50
Whites — $1.00
Blacks/Latinos — 50 cents
People stared. One yelled, “What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?” A black woman said, angrily, “It’s very offensive, very demeaning!” One black man accused me of poisoning the cupcakes.
I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some conservative college students did at Bucknell University. The students wanted to satirize their school’s affirmative action policy, which makes it easier for blacks and Hispanics to get admitted."

Sometimes, its just putting the issues in context that clarifies the world. 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Danger of Jalapeños

Scott Adams ( "...The other day, my friend Steve and I had a "Husbands Cook for Their Wives" night in which we hoped to accomplish several things. First, we thought it would be a good way to add to the Husband Bank of good deeds. Second, it was an excuse to drink beer on a Tuesday afternoon. And third, Steve would transfer his vast knowledge of cooking methods to my ignorant self. It was this third objective that went terribly wrong.

Among my duties that night was chopping the jalapeño peppers. I had never prepared a meal with jalapeño peppers, and I didn't know much about them. The conversation went something like this.

Steve: You should wear rubber gloves to cut the jalapeño peppers.
Me: Really? Is that necessary?
Steve: Yes. Do you have any rubber gloves?

I knew we had some rubber gloves somewhere in the house, but finding them would require the help of my wife, Shelly, and I didn't want to bother her on Husbands Cook for Their Wives Night. So I pressed the point.

Me: I could just wash my hands after I cut the jalapeño peppers.
Steve: You really should wear gloves. And don't touch your eyes, or any mucous membranes. And whatever you do, don't take a piss until sometime next week.
Me: I'll just wash my hands when I'm done cutting the peppers. That should be fine.

At this point, an obscure statute in the Guy Code came into play and Steve realized that nagging me wasn't the way to play this. Instead, he decided to let me take a run at the jalapeño peppers bareback. If he was laughing on the inside, he did a good job of not showing it. ..." (More to follow after the link)

This posting in the always interesting Dilbert Blog cracked me up, and even made my girlfriend laugh. Seeing as it was cross culturally humorous, and written from a mans point of view, it deserved the attention of the Grumpy Old Men.

So how about it? 

I've never had a problem cutting jalepenos barehanded before, but I have done a mighty fine number on my eyes.

Men's retreat, 2008, Peckerwood Cabins in the back woods of Oklahoma. Sliced up some home grown jalapeños one of the men brought, and started to simmer them in a man-sized cast iron skillet with half a stick of butter. 1.49 minutes later, my eyes are running like the falls of Niagara, and even with the peppers removed, it was the hottest batch of eggs I've ever served up in my life, hot enough my father refused to eat them. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

BikeBubba's Excellent List

Things for the Republicans to do:
"1.  Eliminate voice votes.  Voters deserve to know how their representatives voted.
2.  Eliminate games to get a majority like the "deemed passed" method Pelosi tried to use for Obamacare.
3.  No more earmarks, period.
4.  Revive the ethics committee--starting with why Barney Frank did not recuse himself regarding Fannie Mae while he was dating one of their executives.
5.  Make John Boehner's plane quite a bit smaller than Nancy Pelosi's.  Use it less often.

The rest after the jump to BikeBubba'sBits

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Long Time Coming

It made me smile to see Vox Day pick up the mantle of Pushing Back the Frontiers of Ignorance this week, with his verse of the week posting.

"As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense and show everyone how stupid they are."
- Ecclesiastes 10:1-3

In this blogosphere, this has been the title stalwart for going on 5 years now. 
And no, I don't think it really has any significant theological meaning. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Review: Robin Hood

"Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.
What does it mean?
It means never give up."

I saw this film on its opening night earlier this year, and it was far from what I expected. At the time, it left a bitter aftertaste, if only because I was pining for another Gladiator. Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe were together again, and I hoped for magnificence. I was disappointed.

Watching this again last night, I loved it.
This is the precursor to the Robin Hood of legend, the story of a man disgruntled by the tyranny of Richard the Lion heart in the crusades, who returns home bearing the sword of a noble's dead son. The sword is the key to rekindling memories of who Robin Locksley was before he was a soldier, which for purposes of spoilers I will leave to you to figure out.
As the story progresses, the tyranny of the monarchy is ever increasing, the political intrigue of the Northern Barrons and the Crown thickens, and France moves to invade across the channel. Cries of anguish resound from the people, yet they know not what they demand, other then a change of governance. Locksley steps forward, bearing what is understood to be the Magna Carta, and lays forth a foundation for enduring liberty that is accepted by the monarch and the nobles. It is remarkable how refreshing it is to see an uncompromising hero for the rights of individuals and liberty.

The final battle on the shores of southern England is almost horrific. After the compromise that leads to the Magna Carta it really hurts the film. Prince John riding into battle with Robin and other counselors. Robin's 'pretend' (watch the movie for an explanation) wife. The lost boys of Nottingham. Some medieval version of D-Day by the french.

None of this is necessary, nor is it helpful, and after the intricate story line developed up to this point it is only painful to watch.

That all being said, I enjoyed this movie immensely, and will likely watch it multiple times in the years to come. A man's movie with a hero who is, in fact, a hero. Honest, as well as brave. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election Aftermath

Reason: "1. We're still on the fast track to the poor house. When the GOP ran the show with George W. Bush, they spent like drunken sailors (apologies to drunken sailors).
2. Nobody's talking about foreign policy and ending the warfare state. In constant dollars, defense spending has basically doubled since 2000 and is projected to stay at levels hundreds of billions of dollars above what it was before the Cold War ended. " 

(I'll leave 3 after the hop)
Good video as well.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

However, I still think this election has positive results, if only because of the potential for gridlock on the hill. It won't make things better, but at least it can slow down the descent. If that is the most to pray for, then so be it. 
If this gridlock can lead to Americans thinking about reality again, let the bells of liberty ring true once again.
Small steps, but maybe they can lead somewhere. 

In other news, Robin Hood was really good. Review forthcoming.


Worked the polls yesterday for my precinct.

Busier then 00, 04, or 08.

Good sign, me thinks.

In other news, 1200 posts!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Comic of the Day

Picture book title voted least likely to ever find a publisher:

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Tim Brown: "On a rare patch of green in north Texas, against a backdrop of confetti streams and honky-tonk reverb, there came the dawning of a baseball franchise.

A warm wind howled over the walls of Rangers Ballpark, whipping scraps of colored paper into tiny hurricanes. Ginger ale plumes filled the sky.

On a football Friday night in a football town, more than 50,000 folks swooned at the slider that froze Alex Rodriguez(notes) – of all people, Alex Rodriguez – and finished off a 6-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Cliff Lee, the mercenary left-hander who’d topped off their starting rotation. C.J. Wilson, who’d come from the bullpen to become a starter. Lewis, who’d remade his career in Japan. 

Josh Hamilton, the series MVP and likely league MVP, who’d fought drug addiction – sometimes well and sometimes not – to stand on that podium Friday night. Cruz, who’d once cleared waivers. Guerrero, given up as over-the-hill in Anaheim. Feliz and shortstop Elvis Andrus(notes), the spoils of the Mark Teixeira trade. Young, who for a decade watched them all come and go, and not three weeks after his first playoff game qualified for his first World Series game.

They ran in circles on a field trampled by friends and family, guzzling the ginger ale that honored Hamilton’s demons and waving to a crowd that couldn’t believe it was seeing this and refused to leave it.

Until the clock struck nine minutes past 10, these Rangers had borne the sins and failures of a half-century. They’d failed in Washington as the Senators. They hadn’t won in Texas. They were the epicenter of the steroid era, and were the oldest of the three franchises – the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners being the others – to never reach the World Series."

Friday, October 22, 2010

WikiLeaks and the Iraq War Diaries "At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports ('The Iraq War Logs'), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a 'SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivalent population size."

Start digging. This site is altering the very playing field of a psuedo-Republic waging undeclared war, and theres no going back for people who care. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Presumption of Guilt and Civil Camera Scams

"So... if it's *your* vehicle, and it wasn't stolen, isn't it *your* responsibility?
A red light run is a red light run. They can put whatever cameras they want on there. You break the law, you pay for it." - KnightWing, Blog Comment on the post 'Fraud of Southlake Texas'

This is something I felt would be better responded to in a post format, rather then starting an extended comment thread that most readers will never see.

In a legal setting, the accused has what is known as a presumption of innocence. The burden of proof to establish that a crime has been committed rests firmly with the accuser. Even with such a wrong doing having been established, further burden of proof lies with the accuser to prove the assertion that the accused is in fact the guilty party. 
In essence, the accused is innocent until proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let me proceed to set up an example:
A middle aged man living in Colorado owns a hatchet. While he is on vacation to Florida, his hatchet is used by his son to cut some branches off of a tree. While the branches of this tree are on property the man leases, the tree itself is in the neighbors yard. The tree gets sick, and dies. The family sues the man because it was his hatchet that did the cutting, ergo, he is responsible. After all, he did own it. 

An older woman owns a company that leases restaurant equipment to pizzerias in the surrounding areas. When a patron at the restaurant acquires salmonella from an improperly prepared pizza, she blames the woman who owns the oven. After all, she did own it.

Is assigning the blame to the owner, simply because he or she is the owner, the proper course of action?
No. Not even remotely. 

The responsibility lies with the one who committed the action, not the one who owns the property. 
Likewise, the responsibility for one running a red light lies with the driver, not the owner of the vehicle. When an officer of the law pulls a vehicle over for a moving violation, the fine is assessed to the individual who drove, not the owner of the vehicle. 

Now we return to the presumption of innocence. By presuming the owner of the vehicle to be the guilty party, the Red Light Camera system operated by RedFlex is a violation of this fundamental legal principle. With no way to prove who the driver of the vehicle is at the time of the alleged violation, there is no way to properly assign guilt. 

Additionally, I assert that the system is set up to intentionally make it easier to pay a minor ($75!!) 'administrative fee', in a paralegal administrative set up. One can request a formal court hearing, but the time and difficulty of doing such is not worth it for most individuals. Since the money is essentially poured into a quasi-private enterprise, it is a well laid scheme to make money for a selected group of individuals. 

Physiologists Punished Trapped Miners

This is the most horrifying part of the whole Chilean Miner saga:
"The psychology team became judge and jury of what the men could do for enjoyment and even how they could communicate with their families. When the men asked for cigarettes and alcohol, saying that these small pleasures would help them cope better than their daily phone call with the experts, the psychology team begrudgingly agreed to send down cigarettes but not booze - because ‘the average miner consumes large quantities of alcohol’, one of the psychologists said, and there is no telling how they will behave when inebriated in hot, cramped conditions. The men were furious. But only because they don’t understand the dangers of drinking, one of the on-site doctors snootily declared. ‘These are not PhD scientists, they are rough-and-tumble miners’, he said, giving a glimpse into the experts’ deep disdain for the men they were supposed to be helping.

But the thing that really tore the miners and their mental-health betters apart - the thing that ensured ‘the honeymoon was over’, as the lead on-site psychologist put it - was the psychology team’s ‘widespread censorship’ of family letters to the men. Early on, every time a family member wrote a letter it had to be submitted for psychological evaluation first, before being sent down the so-called umbilical cord to the men underground, so that any material judged ‘psychologically inappropriate’ could be removed. There was uproar when the families discovered that there was a backlog of letters waiting to be okayed. One of the miners had asked his wife during a video link-up: ‘Why don’t you write to me anymore?’ In fact she had been writing everyday, but her letters were awaiting ‘psychological approval’."

If there is ever a clearer illustration of the dangers of allowing an elite team of thinkers to control a group, it will be hard to identify. The evils of central control are in full bloom in this story, and those stuck underground are almost helpless to cope with it. 
Simply disgusting. 

Miners and Capitalism "...If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit.

This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive.

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That's why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.

This profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany...."

Brilliant op-ed on how capitalism is the quiet force of progress, driven by a desire for profit. It saves lives.

Also, I'm trying to figure out what big news happened yesterday that was covered up by this mining thing. Yes, lives were saved. But it was far to big a production to be simply a miner rescue, it had to have been a distraction from something else. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chinese Military Reasonableness

Thomas P. Barnett: "The NYT reports that the U.S. military is alarmed at the rising anti-American tone and sentiment of younger Chinese military officers. This is the same U.S. military that assembles multinational war games in China's front yard and sells advanced weaponry to a small island nation off its coast--in addition to anyone else who will buy it in the region (and yes, business is very good right now, as weapons purchases are up 100% over the past half decade).

The U.S. military, which found its network-centric warfare roots in the seminal shell game known as the Taiwan Straits crises of 1995-1996, now takes inspiration from China's response since then (a build-up of anti-access/area denial assets that rely heavily on ballistic missile attacks to keep our carriers at bay) to launch its own AirSea Battle Concept--a new high-tech warfighting doctrine that makes no bones about specifically targeting the Chinese military.

And we wonder why the Chinese military seem to think we're their number one enemy? Are we honestly that clueless or has our disingenuity broken through to some higher, slightly irrational plane?"

Barnett goes on to imagine a reversed scenario, where the actions we have taken in Chinese waters are taken by the Chinese in US waters, and its quite stunning. No wonder the Chinese are pondering our threat level to them. 

I've been following this guy's blog since I read his excellent book Great Powers: America and the World after Bush; and he makes a lot of sense. If you like geopolitics, you'll like him. 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Fraud of Southlake, Texas

Redlight Cameras.
A camera set up to monitor an intersection, and record video of vehicles passing through. Upon what is perceived as a violation, the owner of the vehicle is sent a $75 'administrative fee' eg, a fine, to identify someone else as the driver, or to request an 'administrative hearing'. No where is the actual driver of the vehicle identified, and no where is there any proof that the registered owner of the vehicle is in fact the offender. 

My understanding of our legal system is that we are innocent until proven guilty. 
My other understanding was that our 5th Amendment to the US constitution still applied.

Alas, this appears to not be so, as the halls of the cities are no longer filled with the clear notes of justice. 

Here is a sample of the Southlake Texas FAQ (Emphasis added):

Can the City, for any reason, waive a fee related to a red light violation?
Due to contractual obligations with Redflex, Southlake cannot waive any fees related to a red light violation.
Will I receive any points on my driving record for this violation?
No, this is a civil infraction that is not reported to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Does a red light violation caught on camera go on my driving record?
No. This is a civil penalty against the owner of the vehicle, not the operator. As such, it is not reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, failure to pay the civil penalty may result in the reporting to a collection agency and/or the county assessor-collector or the Texas Department of Transportation who may refuse to register a motor vehicle alleged to have been involved in the violation.

These redlight camera's are little but cheap tricks to increase the revenue of the city, and are run by companies, not the police.
Not only is this morally wrong and repugnantly Orwellian, these red light cameras have been demonstrably proven to cause increased traffic problems.