Friday, July 31, 2009

So long and thanks for all the fish

Some things are just too good not to share.

Comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

I'll be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, I'll be reporting from Worldcon.

But we'll see.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TSIB July Award

I've been putting the "Wall of Idiots" links in this blog for a while. But occasionally I think that maybe some events should have a more formal recognition.

I'm creating the "The Stupid, It Burns" award. Plognark created the image here and I'm thinking of giving a gift certificate for a Plognark coffee cup to the lucky winner.

(Please note: I have no relationship with Plognark in any way. He does not endorse my mentioning his image or condone the connection to the image. Further, if he ever at any time decides I shouldn't use it, I'll drop it like a hot rock. So he's not responsible for this. I am. That said, I've purchased some of the TSIB merchandise. You should, too.)

Now, I could have just gone over the "Wall of Idiots" for a suitable candidate-- and, I'll admit it. I'm not above that. Lord knows there are enough candidates. (See below.) But sometimes fate just hands you just the right mix of idiocy and opportunity.

I'm speaking of Gates-gate.

On 7/16, Henry Louis Gates Junior, a Harvard professor who is also black and has been known to be a bit of a flashpoint, locked himself out of his house. He broke in. A 911 call was made. Police were dispatched. Something happened and Gates was arrested by the Cambridge police. See here. So: who wins the award? Henry Gates who shot off his mouth to the officer? (See also, here.) Sergeant James Crowley who decided to arrest a black man in his own home after he had produced documentation to prove he was not a burgler? Crowley has some pretty good credentials but still, arresting a man in his own home just because he's upset in his own home?

How about Ann Coulter who leaped on whatever side is White and Right regardless of facts? I especially like how she thinks the question to Obama was "planted". Or Bill Carter, who had the presence of mind to snap the picture and made $4,000 on it so far. Or Justin Barrett, a Boston police officer who actually put some nasty stuff about Gates in an email and got snagged. I mean this is the 21st century, after all. How about the police union who are perfectly happy to get on this bandwagon and would never, never admit that there might be some differences in handling calls based on race. Or even Lee Landor, a deputy press secretary in bloody New York City, who put up disparaging comments about the situation on Facebook. I mean, guys! Get a clue!

So many candidates. So little time.

I think I have to go with Obama on this one. For managing to make a nasty local flap up here in Frozen Massachusetts that was of little interest to anyone outside of the Northeast into a national and international nasty flap. I mean, come on, Obama. Everything you say is news. Anything you mention becomes elevated into national controversy. Fix it. Go have a beer.

So, for the first of possibly a couple of TSIB Awards, I am proud to award the "The Stupid, It Burns" Award for July, 2009, to Barack Obama, President of the United States of America and Leader of the Free World.


Looks like race, like religion, is another thing that can cause an IQ to drop like a paralyzed falcon.
Wall of Idiots
Patenting Genes
Eating Flipper
Misinterpreting Data
24 Hour Church of Elvis
Lies about Michelle Obama
Bill O'Reilly
Facebook more popular than porn
The world eating our clean power lunch: Here. Here.
Pop Rocks Sushi
WiFi Allergy

Weird places to visit:

Links of Interest
Money Laundering
Shrimp move the sea
Trains and America
The Patchwork Brain
Chimps appreciate music from birth
Anatomical entertainment
Ecodocks in NYC
V: Making a baby cake. Really. Way, way high on the Creep-O-Meter.
Capillary calendar
Big Bad Vortex Cannon
Stone Age Population Boom
Sweat the little things: Unexplained physical anomalies
Crocodiles on the inside: Inside Nature's Giants Part III

Cake in a Jar
Malaysian Coconut Balls
Acoustic Rain Guage and here
Orange Liqueur
Berry picker
Tissue and balsa model planes and here
Fast wooden rings

Monday, July 27, 2009

Of Interest

Nothing much today.

Wall of Idiots
Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech
Electronic Cigarettes
17,00 Tons of Mercury
Factory "Food"
Farmers and the Climate Bill
Why China is eating our clean energy lunch

Links of Interest
Beautiful Minerals of Massachusetts
The Stem Cell Heart (Poe would be proud.)
Small Power is Beautiful
China and the Environment and here
Texas Wind
Solar Blimp and here
Freaks of Nature

Talk to your Solar Installer
Cardboard Wine Rack
Cardboard Trebuchet
Cardboard Shoji
Cardboard Furniture
Wicking Garden Beds
Folding Machines: Jeans and T-Shirt
Woodgas Stove
Tub Bass
Microbial Fuel Cell
Roach Control
Reso Drum
Tiny Kite
T-Shirt Tote Bag

Pangolins, for God's Sake

I've liked Pangolins since I first saw one stuffed in the Fields Museum. I found out later in a zoo they're a lot more fun when they're alive.

Pangolins are inoffensive anteaters that live in Africa and Asia. They have a sort of plate armor on their backs and tails. They have no teeth. They protect themselves by rolling into a ball. They're about as dangerous as an armadillo.

Well, we can now add Pangolins to the vast list of meat that Chinese men believe will get them a better stiffee. (See here.)

We can add to this questionable category seahorses, tigers, rhinoceros horn, black bear bile, owls and musk deer.

I mean, come on, guys. There's more to life than sex. I mean, Jeez! Pangolins! Look, bulls have much bigger sticks and they're domesticated. Dry up, powder and eat some of that! Please!

With China being the most populous country in the world, you'd think they have nothing left to prove.

Wall of Idiots
Pangolins as Chinese Stiffee Maker
CBS News
More Lead! More Lead!
Infectious Diseases in Kansas

Links of Interest
Thursday, The New Friday
Tiny, The Stem Cell Mouse
Wall the Sahara
Ma'adim Vallis
Another Method of CO2 Capture
Jupiter: Threat or Menace
Happy Birthday Zinjanthropus
More light on Dark Matter

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Of Interest

Nothing today.

Wall of Idiots
Lies about the House energy bill (Hint: Limbaugh is a Liar)
Chia Keyboard

Apollo Summary and here

Links of Interest
Duck Sex
More on Jupiter Impact
Fixing Wikipedia
Towards a Type I Civilization
Science and Comedy
Something hit Jupiter
Junkbot, Defender of Cutlery
Swamp Wars
Comet Strike and the North American Die Off
Music and the Mind
More electric airplanes
Blade innovation could have led to neolithic population boom
Increasing creativity
Ida and the Apes
Bamboo bikes
DDT and Diabetes
No Till Farming
Aborigines Originated in India
Big Oil and Algae

How to use a potato
Latent heat of materials
Smelting iron ore
Yeast: Bread and Beer
Plum Vodka
Milk Crate Composting Toilet

Let's Go to the Moon

(Picture from here.)

There's been a lot of buzz from Buzz Aldrin saying we should punt the Moon and go to Mars.

I figured both of my readers might like to know my opinion.

I think, first, we should do both: go to the Moon and go to Mars. But in that order.

There are a lot of problems to overcome for the Mars trip. The biggest one, I think, is radiation. The reason we didn't worry about it with Apollo was 1) the duration was relatively short and 2) we didn't know then about the bad effects of low level exposures.

But there are other problems: long term, unsupported space travel, long term, unsupported habitation in an extraterrestrial environment, management of equipment over time, long term exposure to weightlessness, etc. Wouldn't it be nice if we could investigate these issues close by?

Oh, wait: we can. On the Moon.

The Moon is a much harsher environment than Mars. There is no atmosphere to speak of. The days are two weeks long-- or perpetual, if you settle on the poles. All of the issues that we must handle for a trip to Mars can be investigated and perfected on the Moon, with the added advantage that if things go south we can come home in a week.

I think Aldrin's (and others) preoccupation with exploration is a holdover from the sixties. It's not enough to go someplace and investigate it-- we've done that. I'm not even so clear that exploration on Mars by humans is superior to landing robots there.

What we need to do is propagate humans off of earth. We need a spacefaring civilization.

To do that we need not only to visit space but live there. Living there is what we need to learn. Living includes industry, commerce, self-sustenance-- all those things we should learn on earth but haven't bothered to since it's so cheap to go across the world and get them.

Besides, on the Moon there are a number of opportunities the scope of which we have not yet managed.

We have unlimited hard vacuum on the moon. What can you do with a vacuum tube the size of the empire state building?

Dig down a bit and you can find temperatures below that of liquid nitrogen. This means that we can have systems built on "high" temperature superconductors without having to cool them.

Two weeks out of the month (or more at the pools) we have unlimited solar power. I mean a lot of power. Here on earth, we get at most 10 watts/square foot. In space (and the moon) we get about 130. Every second. A square collector 88 feet on the side gives you a megawatt. Melting iron slag takes 209kJ/kg. So a megawatt could melt a little less than 5 kg of iron/second. Or more if it takes longer. Doing it in a vacuum is the easiest way to do it.

The only real question about going to the Moon, and living there, is why wait?

And why have we waited so long?

New landing site images
Why return?
40th Anniversary Site
Many small steps
AGC Software Released

The Marketarian Meme
Conservative Lies about Health Care
1984 Redux
Pick Geothermal. Please.
Cloned Sniffer Dogs
Going to Mars instead of the Moon
Rejecta mathematica

Too Much Time Department
Toilet Paper Dispenser

Burmese Pythons in Florida and Other Stories
Rogue Waves
Articulated Clock and here
Electrifying Garden
13% Renewable Energy: A first step
Sperm whales in Alaska
Tree Music
Recycled Rust Belt Solar
V: Living Green in Space
Origin of the Venus Flytrap
Hydraulic Hybrids
You're a good man, Charlie Darwin

Limitless Boredom
Grass lawn chair
Gymnastics Still Rings
Gymnastics Mushroom
Altoids Tin Racer
Cheap solar hot water heater
Concrete raised bed
Steampunk Swiss Army Knife
Coil gun
Mystery Box
Maker Tin
Tin Trebuchet
Drunken Robot
Garden Fountain
Pocket soldering kit
Computer hardware cheat sheet
Dying plastic
Plant markers
Loft bed

Friday, July 17, 2009

Of Interest

(Picture from here. Andrew Chase Website here.)

Nothing today.

Wall of Idiots
The Quiet Coup
The Success of Blunderbanking
Evolutionary Psychology and here and here

New pictures
40th Anniversary of Apollo 11
Neil Armstrong
NASA's next Spacesuit
Apollo and the Moon: Slideshow
We Choose the Moon
Apollo 11 Images
Apollo 11 lander seen on moon

Links of Interest
Evolution of Evolution
Drug Wars in Canada
The Soft Shuttle Underbelly
Downfall of the Neanderthals
Swimming in Spacetime
Gambling Addiction Explained
Raindrop Science
The Swedish Cobra: The Fireman's Friend
Electric Airplanes
New Geothermal Technology
How to dismantle a nuclear bomb
New molecule sequester CO2
GE's Zero Energy Home
Giant squids of California
Growing crops in salt water
V: The Iditarod

Pocket screwdriver
Multimachine and here and here and here and here
Summer projects
Cooking for 10

Readercon 2009: Darwin again

I was at Readercon last weekend on a panel in Darwin in SF. Here's the panel blurb:

Is Darwinism Too Good For SF? Jeff Hecht (L), Caitlin R. Kiernan, Anil Menon, James Morrow, Steven Popkes, Robert J. Sawyer

This year marks the sesquicentennial of the publication of The Origin of Species and the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth. Considering the importance of the scientific idea, there has been surprisingly little great sf inspired by it. We wonder whether, in fact, if the theory has been too good, too unassailable and too full of explanatory power, to leave the wiggle room where speculative minds can play in. After all, physics not only have FTL and time travel, but mechanisms like wormholes that might conceivably make them possible. What are their equivalents in evolutionary theory, if any?

Here are my notes for the panel:

1 Darwin in SF
1.1 "Evolutionary" works
1.1.1 Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio
  • Retrovirus incorporated into the human genome escapes under prescribed evolutionary conditions causing speciation along pre-determined lines. Societal hilarity ensues.
  • Issues: presumes evolutionary pre-design. Analogous to HOX mutation mechanisms but structural mutations (eye on fruitflies) don't know the outcome of the mutation.
1.1.2 John Brunner, Total Eclipse
  • Alien species uses genetic variation as currency. Genetic economic hilarity ensues.
  • Issues: Doesn't show the evolutionary nature of the economy.
1.1.3 Teranesia, Greg Egan
  • Single gene as quantum computer. Emotional ensues.
  • Issues: Implies purpose to genes.
1.1.4 Peter Watts, Behemoth
  • Pre-DNA earlier form of life takes over. Apocalypse hilarity ensues.
  • Issues: Logistical problems.
1.1.5 Piers Anthony, Macroscope
  • Interstellar civilization competes via natural selection. Galactic extinction hilarity ensues.
1.2 Psuedo evolution works
1.2.1 Amitav Ghosh, Calcutta Chromosome
  • Human progress as a result of malarial parasitism. Disease hilarity ensues.
  • Issues: Not really about evolution
1.2.2 Intelligent Design
  • Posits gray bearded being setting up micro evolution but keeping macro evolution selfishly to itself. Educational hilarity ensues.
  • Issues: Proposes itself as other than fiction.
2 The Problem of Evolution
2.1 Humans naturally infer purpose to a modeled system
  • Gods and religion
  • Watchmakers vs. self-organization
  • "Purpose" embedded in the language
2.2 The full size and complexity of the idea
  • It's hard to write fiction about a Theory of Everything.
3 Evolution as solution: The beauty of the small
3.1 Diversity of life on earth provides analogs for aliens
  • Undersea Smokers
  • Spoon worms
  • Cephalopods
  • Parasite mind control
3.2 Knowledge of evolution informs nature of aliens
  • Traits don't appear in a vacuum
  • Sexual selection as the major mechanism of human evolution
  • Multiple "intelligent" animals on earth: wolves, dolphins, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, elephants, Neanderthals, etc.
3.3 Sentients don't exist in a vacuum
  • Humans => Neanderthals, chimps, bonobos, gorillas,
  • Dolphins=> Many, many species of dolphins, whales, etc.
  • Intelligence overcomes "natural gifts". There must be truly vicious predators on the Kzin home world.
  • Sentient-centric view point in fiction reduces richness of the telling
Wall of Idiots
iPurity and here, here
Lies about Obama's Science Adviser

Apollo Anniversary
Where Next?
The Russian View
missions that never were
Anniversary Musings
First Computer on the Moon
Don Eyles and here and here

Links of Interest
Economic stabilizers
Useless robots
Volcanic evidence of Triassic extinction
What if the Alaska pipeline blew up?
Commercial hydrogen plant
Tiny shrew not extinct
V: 650 MYears in 1 minute and 20 seconds
V: 4 BYears in 8 minutes
V: Everest
Primate Archeology
Polynesian Stick Chart Navigation
Evil Furniture
V: Giant Millipede
World's most perfect spheres
Deficits: Saving the World Again
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
A wooden earthquake proof home
Vague scientist
Rain on Titan
Considering maitotocin
The nature of false positives
Bats vs. Moths
The Duke smart home

Paris: A museum of the Makers
PVC Fruit Picker
Plum Barbeque Sauce and Syrup
Choosing the Right Abrasive
Metal Fish Key Holder
Wooden sandals
Outdoor grill coffee roaster
Restoring old furniture
Restaurant cooking
Heat pipe
Anti-Boredom kit
PVC gimbal stabilizer
Soil lamps
Waterless toilets

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor: I can't help it.

(Sketch from Plognark.)

The big issue the republicans have with Sotomayor is all concentrated in that one little statement she made years ago, that she hoped a “wise Latina” might reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

This means, if you believe the odious rhetoric that is coming from the right, that she will apply her "empathy" instead of the law in her decisions.

I've read that speech and I don't come to the conclusion. The idea of judges being replaceable little robots is so absurd that it makes me think the Republicans are making their outrage up. They need to show opposition and she's convenient. Gee. Her political leanings are liberal. Cry me a river-- she's Obama's nominee, isn't she?

What she said was that different experiences make different people. What the Republicans are implying is that she'll rule differently than someone who isn't her. As if judges never conflict on their opinions. What they're afraid of is that she won't rule in lockstep with the conservative activist judges they managed to pack the court with over the last twenty years. You know who I mean. The Gang of Four: Roberts, Thomas, Scalia and Ailito.

Oh, yes. I forgot. It's not an activist court when conservatives do it.
Wall of Idiots
Finally, pulling antibiotics out of animal feed and here and here
Lies about Holdren
Lies about Sotomayor

Links of Interest
Lucy on Parade
Army clamps down on coal
Sustainable crops
Green China and here
Filling gaps in the brain

Etching PCBs
Acid Etched Business Cards
Business Card Catapult
Flashlight Business Card

Stupidity in Reporting

(Picture from here.)

I'm a pilot. I fly recreationally and enjoy myself. It's an expensive hobby and I don't indulge myself as I used to.

That said, there is an amazing amount of misinformation and downright lies about small airports and flying. The latest comes from Sharyl Attkisson, CBS news, which should know better. The report is here.

The title of the piece is "Tiny Airports Get Big Cut of Stimulus Cash". It turns out there there are a number of airports getting stimulus money. 1.1 billion dollars out of the seven hundred plus money. So, we're talking about .15%. This particular article seemed to thing that rural airports shouldn't get that funding.

Here are a few items in the report and the response:
Williamson-Sodus Airport, New York: It's a privately owned, publically operated airport near Rochester. Single strip. The first sin appears to be privately owned. The second to be owned by the "Williamson Flying Club" ("Clubs" in aircraft parlance are commercial entities on the same order as athletic clubs or the Red Sox. They are not organizations of old men who make money.). Let's be clear. Privately owned airports make a deal with the FAA. They conform to all public regulations and public operations and in return get some money from the feds for equipment and property maintenance. It's analogous to a private company owning a road, bridge or pier and taking on the burden of operation for the state. We do this sort of thing all the time. Dumps are often managed this way. Long Wharf in Boston was built using the same idea. WFC got $400,000 to resurface the airport runway-- which is not a cheap process. Runways are as strictly build as intersates. Sharyl Attkisson seems to think that this is somehow a problem.

"$350 million is being spent on little-used airports or ones catering to recreational flyers, corporate jets and remote communities." Yes. Roads and bridges to remote communities or used largely for recreational drivers should also be left to rot as the airports have for the last thirty years. One big example of such "waste" is the $15 million used to build a bigger airport for Ouizinki, AK. Population 165. I suppose that she would not like a road to run to the rural communities up there. Oh, wait. Look up the town on mapquest or google. There aren't any roads. Ouizinki is on an island. We can build a bridge across the strait, a road over to Kodiak, ten miles away. That'll be a lot cheaper... well, no. It won't. We can move the islanders! Forced relation: The Attkisson Solution.

"Tiny Purdue University Airport" has two strips and 315 operations/day, or 114,975 operations/year. Boston as 1094 operstions/day. So Purdue has, as a function of aircraft operations, about 30% of Boston. True, these are small aircraft versus Boston Behemoths, but Boston gets about two orders of magnitude more money. Attkisson's problem seems to be giving Purdue some money to help keep animals off the runway since they haven't had many published incidents. Of course, near misses are not reported as incidents. But they have a good safety record. We should reward that by not helping them at all.

Attkisson then brings up that age old chestnet: why should the costs of small airports (here can be substituted parks, bridges, roads, piers, ports, schools, water quality systems or anything else) not be borne solely by the people benefitting them. Attkisson lives in Northern Virginia, an area that I will likely never visit and is no benefit to me. Why should we pay for her roads, bridges and airports? Let her fill her potholles herself.

The article attempts to gain legitimacy by saying that the money should be spent on safety systems at larger airports. "Consider that Los Angeles International doesn't have the money to install critical taxiway warning lights." Which were installed in June.

But why should I be surprised?

Sharyl Attkisson is also part of the anti-vaccine people (See here and here and here.) as well as other crank sciene. (See here.)

Given that and facts I easily found tearing apart the flimsy fabric of her airport piece, I doubt she has anything of significance to say. She certainly didn't do any real research for this piece. (AOPA also did a good analysis of the piece here.)

What's disturbing about this piece, and other pieces of similarly bad investigative reporting, is that her editors allowed it to be published at all.

However, she did share her hairstyle.
Wall of Idiots
China's Nuclear Testing
Shale Oil Extraction
I Hope Obama Fails
The Real GOP
More Unscientific America
CIA Super Secret Program
Bill Cosby in jello shots
Great Tweets of Science
Indian tiger park, sans tigers

Links of Interest
The Great Dragonfly Migration
V: The Whites of West Virginia
Alternative Models of Alzheimer's
Stop the Meeting Bleeding
Depression Malaria
Drug Videos
Hidden Weapons and Escape Tools
Facts about popcorn
Swanky school lunches
Robot hand signing
Open Source Star Wars
Successful Solar Incentives
Oceans of Venus
Last Supper of the Hominids
The evolution of ejaculation strategies
PETM: A little hope
V: Oakland Fire Arts Festival
Animal death by lightning
Business card caliper
V: Robot Videos
V: Spiderman hook

Cheap Beer
Ginger Beer
And yet more beer
Etched Altoid Tins
Water rocked abort valve
Wood burning pool heater
Living off the grid
4 Minute Chocolate Mousse
Battery Holder
Pocket Sized Fishing Rod & Reel
Bike Trailer
Plastic Raincoat
Essential maker skills

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dresden Codak

(Picture from here. Comic in which it appeared is here.)

One of my favorite webcomics is Dresden Codak. Here is an example why. Here is another. Wikipedia entry here.

Paul Valery said that "Everything changes except the avant-garde." Which I use as an excuse to treat new media and mechanisms of storytelling with skepticism.

That said, Aaron Diaz is doing something very different and perhaps unique in the world of story telling. I've been watching him for years and he keeps surprising me. Enjoying him is like contempating icebergs. You can only see the surface but there's a whole universe under the water.

I have no idea on the origin of the name.
Wall of Idiots
Americans and Science
Lies about Obama and Health Care
"Clean" Coal

Political Links
Sarah Palin and Conservatism
Sonia Sotomayor

Links of Interest
Swearing reduces pain
Mathematics of revolution
Large Dinosaur Adaptations
Clean Grease
Solar Cheaper than PG&E
Detoxifying the Brain
Space Solar Power, Part 2
Francis Collins and the NIH
Oldest Dino Burrow
Waste After Yucca Mountain
V: Robotic Prosthetic Arm
V: Destroyed in Seconds
Accidental Inventions
Garfield Minus Garfield
New species found in USA

Nitrous Oxide Cheese
Homopolar Motor and here and here
Lawn Mowing
Garden hoe
Lawn mower generator
Lathing without the Lathe
Cardboard box spinning wheel
V: The integrated circuit

Friday, July 10, 2009

Footprints in the Earth

The picture at left is not trick photography. You can get the full story here.

My wife and I have been breeding turtles for nearly twenty years. It's clear we have a soft spot for them. Both of us had pet turtles before we ever met.

"Mae West" in the photograph was caught in a plastic ring and grew around it. It shows the effect even our garbage has on the real world. If you want to be truly horrified, check out the TED video here.

I get the impression that we think if we correct the CO2 problem, we're home free. Not so. Our footprint on the earth is much, much larger than that. What is required of us is nothing less than rethinking our approach to living here.

It would be better if we made that choice ourselves instead of having it made for us.

Wall of Idiots
More Unscientific America
Bottled Water
Drug makers abandon nature
Energy corridors
Arctic Drilling with Nukes
Chinese Drywall

Links of Interest
Recent human evolution
Power from Potholes
Evolution of the turtle shell
Swine Ebola and here
Electric Road Trains and here
More on the future of Mars
String Theory and Superconductivity
Space Solar Power
New wind turbine designs
Beautiful Sheds
Waste Heat
Cheetah Speed
How flowers conquered the world
Half Luck

Acrylic Gel Image Transfers
Salvaging Solar Cells

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Important Things

I talk a lot about politics in this blog. Essentially, this site is a place for me to write about the stuff I can't really fit into stories.

But, it seems to me, that I should actually declare myself as to where my loyalties lie.

That's not as easy as you might think.

I prize clear thinking above most things. So I'm neither a fuzzy headed liberal nor a fuzzy headed conservative. People like Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter and Newt Gingrich make me nauseous. Not one of them has had a new idea since 1984-- the novel, not the year in the Reagan administration. I rate Gingrich marginally higher than the others since he acknowledges the facts of evolution.

On the other hand, someone like Nancy Pelosi can get me pretty worked up as well.

I believe in clear speech. For example, remember that economics talks about "supply" and "demand" as if there were no people involved. Remember, the next time the price goes up at the gas pump because of "supply and demand" that some executive at Exxon or Mobil or other places chose to raise it. The abstraction is an illusion. Rhetoric that hides in symbols and abstraction is suspect.

I believe in what works. Reaganism, and all it stood for, didn't work. The only thing he can claim, to my mind, was being on hand when the tottering hulk of the Soviet Union began its inevitable slide towards dissolution. I will grant that he contributed by dropping a banana peel in front of the monster but the monster was lurching towards the grave before he ever took office. Take a lesson: if a country can't feed itself it's on the way to ruin.

On the other hand, political correctness doesn't work either. Limiting language is the quickest route to thought control. Insult speech is better than no speech-- at least you know where the speaker stands. Rampant liberalism, where the best idea in the room is to throw money at something, doesn't work-- that was LBJ's idea of how to handle Viet Nam. If he dumped enough money and lives into the trough, it would fill up. Didn't work. However, National Defense Student Loans, which made it possible for a number of kids to go to college (including me) did work. They got scrapped. Go figure.

I believe in paying for what you get. That means if the bridges need repairing, you pony up and pay for it. If a needle exchange program is shown to work better than thumb fingered DEA agents, then you fund needle exchange programs. They work.

I don't believe in underlying messages. If kids are going to get a bad message from condoms and needle exchange programs, so what? Managing child rearing is the job of the parents, not the state. If they didn't get good messages from their parents, the bad messages they get from safe sex and safe needles aren't going to make much difference.

I believe that I have the right to do what I want with my body and my mind. That includes marrying the person I love-- whether they be of the same or different sex from me. The government's right to intrude on my life stops at my front yard. If that hurts your idea of marriage, it's because your idea of marriage is weak. On the other hand, toleration does not equal approval. Your approval is not necessary for my behavior. Neither is my approval necessary for yours. Do what you want. If I don't like it, I'll won't stick around and applaud.

I believe that capitalism is terrific but that it is amoral. If you want moral behavior to come out of the marketplace you have to structure it into the marketplace in the first place. It won't grow there on its own.

I believe that corporate power, like capitalism, is amoral and must be regulated. If this means a government big enough to handle the problem, fine. I'll pay for it. But it's not a blank check to spend money. At the same time, if you starve a government so that it doesn't do its job, it's stupid to blame it when it is ineffectual. You get what you pay for.

I believe in public health as infrastructure. The best health system in the country isn't going to keep us safe from diseases if a fifth of the population can't get access to medical care.

I believe we should house the homeless and feed the poor. You can't expect rational and critical thought from somebody starving in the rain. There's no shame in this for them or us. It's not charity. It's good sense.

I believe in what I can observe and not much else. Goals are driven by moral choice but policy should be driven by facts and figures. That's how things get done.

What I see a lot of is policy driven by ideology and symbolism.

Wall of Idiots
USB Chainsaw
Lies about the ACLU

Links of Interest
Rice Paddy Crop Art
New Mars Initiative
Robot Bat
Metal Detecting Sandals
Solar Powered Dirigible
Cool Solar
Gundam Stallks Japan
How much does the drug company spend on marketing?
Unscientific America
Drug extends life in mammals
Venturi Eclectic
Tenderize meat with pineapples
Weld art

Repairing Wood Furniture
Minty Catapult
Montgolfier Ram
Metal Air Battery
Better Lawn
Stained Glass
Cutting the grocery bill

Of Interest

Check out the Wall of Idiots section. There are many links.

I don't have anything more to say. With Sarah Palin and the disintegrating GOP, the expression on the picture to the left fairly well encapsulates my demonic glee.

Wall of Idiots
Sarah Palin
The Telegraph's Science Reporting
Big Organizations. Now we know why.
The World of Creepy Ads and here

Political Links
10 Unsuccessful Confirmations

Mars News
Water on Mars
Snowfall on Mars

Links of Interest
NIH funding correlates with lower US Mortality
V: Bees take on hornets
Rides you don't want to ride
5 Desperate Survival Videos
First Images from Moon Probe
Protecting your joints
V: Disney & Dali
Japanese POW Camp Radio
Obscure Sodas
Neil Armstrong
The parasite that wanted to be a tongue
Mad geniuses
Solar Thermal
Diving Deer

Bamboo Jaw Harp
Beer Brewing
A Very Small Robot
Kids Sprinkler
Fire Piston and here and here
Thermographic Camera
Hardware Chess Sets
Bowling Ball Fountain
Pocket Camp Stove and here
Soda can solar panel
Chicken coop
Knife Sheaths
Bubble Lamp