Friday, July 31, 2009
By now you have heard the program is out of money already. Keep in mind this was a one billion dollar program.
But dealerships reported that there are some great deals out there: with cash incentives from manufacturers plus the $4,500 incentive, you could get a college kid a great, low maintenance car for only a couple grand. So evidently we burned through the $1,000,000,000 in a few days. Big success, right?
Well... the NHTSA says that 22,782 cars were sold as of yesterday!
Hold on. One billion divided by 22,782? That equals $43,894.30 per car. Someone was off by a factor of almost 1000!
Can someone tell the Czarif the manufacturers get no more than $4,500 per salewhere the other $39,394.30 went?
No, counters Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the people running the program don't know what they're talking about. She has it on good, but totally unnamed and likely nonexistent, authority that 40,000 orders were placed with 200,000 more in the pipeline. If so, that equates to $4,166.67 per car, well within the goals.
All right, two points: as anyone in sales management will ask Define your pipeline. Really, what does that mean? 40,000, she says, bought cars. 200,000 did what? Promise to buy? Place orders?
Okay, the Mandarin heard, that dealerships have about run out of qualifying new cars, and had to order lots more. That could be a plausible definition of sales pipeline, but 200,000 more?
And okay, let us say that's true: that incredibly, for the first time in history, 200,000 orders for new cars have been placed.
Why then did the House authorize additional taxpayer funding for another $2 billion? Because there is another pipeline worth an additional 480,000 more? Half a million new cars on the road?
Or is it that the NHTSA has the right amount, that $905,075,000 of taxpayer money has vanished into thin air, and something is up that we will need $2 billion more to cover the original estimate of 250,000 carswhich equates to $12,500 of taxpayer money per car sold? Minus the $4,500 incentive that goes to the manufacturers, that means at least $8,000 per car will also vanish?
General accounting office...are you reading this?
SGT Crowley said that the summit was “productive and the two men plan to meet again.” In fact, the Czar hears, the two really hit it off, and thought they had something special going, what with all the eye contact. Both love campouts, apparently, and hope to straighten some things out on a camping trip to a highway rest stop.
Back to business. Check out this statement from Gates:
Let me say that I thank God that (I) live in a country in which police officers put their lives at risk to protect us every day, and, more than ever, I’ve come to understand and appreciate their daily sacrifices on our behalf. I’m also grateful that we live in a country where freedom of speech is a sacrosanct value and I hope that one day we can get to know each other better, as we began to do at the White House this afternoon over beers with President ObamaIf you didn’t know better, you might think he was saying he kind of understands why a police officer could think that some crazy guy violently screaming incoherence at him might, you know, be a threat to people’s safety.
“After the incident, Obama himself quickly got involved, saying at a news conference that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ‘acted stupidly.’...His comment itself drew criticism and later he softened his stance, saying, ‘I could’ve calibrated those words differently.’” Yeah. You could have said Gates acted stupidly, but you didn’t.
The President apparently objects to the term Beer Summit, saying “"It’s a clever term, but this is not a summit, guys. This is three folks having a drink at the end of the day, and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other, and that’s really all it is.” Three folks? What about Joe Biden, who attended? “He ain’t like folk,” the President laughed.
“He said he would be surprised if the media makes the meeting out to be more important than his meeting Thursday with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” who apparently will drink several San Miguels before hurling into the rose bushes.
And, hell, given the Administration’s weird fondness for Chávez, Ahmadinejad, Zelaya, and, oh hey, Castro, we might end up promoting such an invasion as a welcome stabilization of Bessarabia.
Update: André Glucksmann remains worried about Georgia. See if you can spot a bit error in the translation from French. [7/31: They mostly fixed the translation error.]
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Via Warming Glow.
Wow. Rather believes such a move is nothing short of saving American democracy! Quote:
A truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom....This is not something just for journalists to be concerned about, and the loss of jobs and the loss of newspapers, and the diminution of the American press’ traditional role of being the watchdog on power. This is something every citizen should be concerned about.President Obama does not need to save the media: they have had and ignored the power to do so all along.
Is Rather’s concern a recent one? If not, why not bring this up sooner? Is it because we have a liberal president drunk on spending other people’s money?
Ironically, he should have asked George W. Bush for assistance, given that Rather is the guy who broke (and by broke, we mean “rendered inoperable”) the Bush memo that turned out to be a spectacular forgery that very likely contributed to Rather’s marginalization in the main stream media. And the general public realization how bad the media is at its job.
But neither President needs to be involved. Here are four ways to save the media from themselves.
1. Eliminate Pulitzer prizes, journalism awards, ratings sweeps, and all the schlock that encourages journalists to swing for the fences. Journalism has become a cheap whore, turning whatever trick it can to make the quickest buck. The very worst investigative journalism occurs during the ratings drives. Stop trying to out-do the competition and stick to what is, not what could be.
2. Clean up your act. Learn from your mistakes. Click here to find a list of ways the media screws up time and again. Hint: mistakes erode consumer confidence. It’s that simple, guys.
3. Run the business like a business. Tired of losing money? Easy! Get rid of your swollen unions. Find out what the consumers want. Provide it. Ditch the stuff that doesn’t work (this varies between print, radio, and television) and capitalize on what does work. The Czar is weary of news organizations claiming that they are teetering close to bankruptcy and woe is the industry. There are a number of media outlets making real money. Find out what they are doing and emulate it. Value is never out of money.
4. Deliver! In the 1990s, the media were looking for a method to deliver information rapidly and diversely in a variety of formats not limited by time or distance. It so happens that the internet is a method of delivering information rapidly and diversely in a variety of formats not limited by time or distance. If anything, the internet was the God-sent savior of the media; instead, the media found a way to bankrupt itself with it. Face it: only the media could have screwed this up. It’s as if a rally racer runs out of gas in a desert. Twenty feet away, he finds a ten-gallon can of high octane gas...and somehow uses it to set fire to himself and the car. The Czar thinks it’s because the vast horde of information that is the Internet made it fast and easy for the average person to discover what a bunch of intellectual lightweights the media are.
So Mr. Rather...don’t grovel to the President to save your necks. You and those like you put those necks in the noose. By not admitting the media’s culpability in their own failures, you blame Americans for it. And we’re not the cause: we’re the victims.
This kind of encouragement to experiment, try, fail/succeed is something that I think is sorely lacking these days. It can be amazing to see the innovative solutions kids come up with for forts, games, and building things. Check out the video (and, as usual, the TED Talks program always seems to find these nuggets of brilliance).
The Czar recommends that regardless of the ugly incident involving Gates and the Cambridge Police Department and the President’s now asinine comment, the three of them get freaking hammered.
Really: White House beer is probably better than a bucket of Rolling Rocks. Obama will likely partake of a Belgian wheat lambic with slice of orange, Gates will opt for a Michelob Ultra, and Crowley will be more than happy to take a Heineken. And just keep going.
Screw it. Just keep going. Have the guys start hammering about the f@wkin’ Red Sox, and how Larry Byrd would do bettah as a Red Sock if he came out of retiahment and played baseball. Start saying nonsense like “Larry Byrd would have like a .480 batting average with runnahs in scoring position against lefties and could still make a f@wkin’ fadeaway jump shot from center-f@wkin’ field.” And shout that kind of stuff, a lot.
Get on the White House phone and start drunk dialing people. Get Sarkozy on the phone and ask him if is heart is still running. If so, better go catch it. Laugh and hang up. Have Gates can an old girlfriend and pretend he's someone else. Watch a Jackie Chan movie on DVD, and be sure to watch the out-takes twice through at the end.
Talk about hot celebrities. Have Obama say “And what about that Megan Fox chick? How is it that someone mildly good-looking with no experience at anything can come out of nowhere, get so popular, and rise to the top of the media attention span without having an ounce of obvious talent?” and then have Crowley ask “Like you?” Gates spits his beer over the top of his glass in laughter, at which point Crowley and Obama burst out laughing at that, having completely forgotten the original question. Then, the fart-lighting begins.
This could totally conclude with them vomiting off the balcony, and yelling ridiculous threats at people walking along Pennsylvania. “Oh my God,” the President moans into his hands, “I need Mexican food!” Gates suggests they go find that tree Jefferson planted and climb it. Crowley, shirt off, belches out more beer and hot wings puke and sits down with his back against a pillar, looking at his fist and commenting that he really could punch out a leopard, if he had to.
The next morning, they wake up with stinging Ravens tattoos in Baltimore outside the old Hammerjacks with no clue how they got there. Do it right, you know?
This article outlines Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s call for all Americans to join a “collective fight against terrorism”. It should come as no surprise to anyone that when the Bush administration asked for the public to report any suspicious activities, the Left screamed police state and fascist agenda. I eagerly await the outcry from the Left regarding this “attempt” to turn us all into informants for the man.
Curiously, it reads very much like an American guide to military operations in civilian populations: be polite, do not kill non-combatants, avoid torture and mutilation, stay out of peoples homes, and so on. Great stuff, but there seems to be evidence that none of it is being obeyed.
CNN obtained thisthe Czar wont ask howin Afghanistan, and folks on the American side as well as the Afghan side find it ruefully funny. The Czar doubts these books are being carried by any ṭālib, unless his job is to drop them in places where they are likely to be found by civilians.
Hey, the discoverer is supposed to think, these Taliban sound like really cool guys. Look at the rules they play by. Nice fonts, too.
What this means to the Czar is that the Taliban realize they are losing the psychological war, badly. Pakistan, in particular, showed that given a choice between the brutality of Sunni Šarīʿah Islamism, and secular, American-style democracy, the people will choose the latter because you and your loved ones tend to live. The American plan tends to live up to the hype. Imagine: we now live in a world where millions of Pakistanis are liking us for the first time.
Ergo, the Taliban realize, if you want public support, you need to stop shooting them in view of their families, cutting the corpses heads off, and then raping the surviving family before robbing them and slicing their ears and noses off.
Or at the very least, say you dont do these things. Who knows? Maybe theyll believe it.
This problem happened to Bill Clinton, too, if you recall. Each and every time Clintons popularity dipped, he simply switched positions to a more popular one to nudge his numbers upward. His entire presidency was poll-driven, at least enough so that he got elected despite an often embarrassing first term. FDR was also a decision-by-poll president, and was perhaps the most masterful at getting re-elected. If your numbers dip, find out what the public wants and support it! Even when it doesnt work, its still better than doing nothing. Heck, even Carters ham-with-extra-malaise speech was done to drive up Carters sagging popularityand it worked for while!
This is a lesson that our current president has not learned. He took a quick jab on Cap and Trade, but shrugged it off. The Gates incident delivered an uppercut, although keen fight observers suspect he punched himself. ObamaCare has delivered a series of stunning cross punches from the right, and he is now feeling some left hooks pounding him further. The Czar expected some stronger defense, such as throwing up his hands to say that Congress keeps messing up his grand plans, but instead the President seems to be waiting for the bell to ring (which it will do shortly when Congress breaks).
That may not be enough for him to catch his breath. Commentarys Peter Wehner even proposes two Democratic governors are likely to lose their seats to Republicans over Obama decisions. If the latter happens, Wehner reasonably concludes, Democrats will see the writing on the wall: the President is a political liability. NROs Victor Davis Hanson warns of an upcoming stampeding herd of House Democrats, although the Czar suspects the movement may have already started away from Speaker Pelosi. Whither shall they run?
The Czar dismisses a stampede as fantasy, and believes that politics will go the way of politics: as with Carter and Clinton, the Democrats will not admit their President was a disaster. Instead, there will be a distant tolerance: mealy-mouthed support for the most obvious Obama decisions, and total silence on the rest. Every so often, a little historical revision. The Democrats, like more than half of Americans, did not understand who Obama was (although he made it very clear throughout the campaign that he was an agenda-driven élitist but a political lightweight). Just as poll numbers show Americans are now dropping Hope and Change, the Democratsunderstandably more slowlywill be looking for a safer way to save their hides in 2010. The less said to and about the President, they will conclude, the better. Tolerate him, but keep him distant from your political goals.
The Czar will also predict this: based on these numbers, unless President Obama completely changes his approach to governance and politics, he stands little chance of re-election in 2012. The fluff and pomp that made him President is clearly inadequate to keep him President. Even Clinton figured that out.
Apparently as the main lawyers from Justice were nearing completion of the sanctions order, they were told to seek a delay in the case. The final decision seems to drop the case against two of the men and issue a restraining order against the third. A spokesperson for the DoJ said that, "the facts and the law did not support pursuing the claims against three of the defendants" - but it had already passed a federal court judgement. Maybe I'll defer that point to 'Puter, our resident legal expert, unless he's busy clubbing someone with a tire iron outside a polling place.
As part of the "Hope and Change" that this election has brought about, congressional members have been stonewalled by the DoJ when asking about why the case was dismissed. DoJ officials claim the information to be "privileged, according to congressional correspondence with the department." There's the new transparency that POTUS Obama has been preaching about.
From the article, the civil complaint described the following behavior, for those who don't recall the incident:
Two NBPP members, wearing black berets, black combat boots, black dress shirts and black jackets with military-style markings, were charged in a civil complaint with intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place, including brandishing a 2-foot-long nightstick and issuing racial threats and racial insults. Authorities said a third NBPP member "managed, directed and endorsed the behavior.The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights also sent a letter to the DoJ in June saying that this incident is a clear demonstration of voter intimidation with examples of physical threats as well as verbal harrassment.
A Justice Department memo shows that career lawyers in the case decided as early as Dec. 22 to seek a complaint against the NBPP; its chairman, Malik Zulu Shabazz, a lawyer and D.C. resident; Minister King Samir Shabazz, a resident of Philadelphia and head of the Philadelphia NBPP chapter who was accused of wielding the nightstick; and Jerry Jackson, a resident of Philadelphia and a NBPP member.
"We believe the deployment of uniformed members of a well-known group with an extremely hostile racial agenda, combined with the brandishing of a weapon at the entrance to a polling place, constitutes a violation of Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits types of intimidation, threats and coercion, the memo said.
Read the rest of the article and then think about it. Reverse some of the party affiliations and see if you think officials, the media, and our government would react the same. What if two or three large caucasian males wearing cammies or hunting vests (settle down, 'Puter) stood outside your polling place slapping a two foot long nightstick in their palm and used equivalent racial epithets as the ones described in the article? My answer - charge them against the Voter Rights Act with intimidation and sanction them and any organization they represented. Why the same standard isn't being applied here is a good question. Is it political? Likely. So the new "hope and change" means a weakening of the enforcement of the Voters Right Act, right?
The Czar asked his okhrana to get more info. Evidently, the North Korean newswire (it is a literal wire) released this photograph, stating that it proves the Supreme Leader is in excellent health:
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
- Myth No. 1--Voting down funding for the Raptor was a blow against the "evil, military-industrial complex."
- Myth No. 2--The F-22 is a hugely expensive aircraft because defense contractors purposely are trying to gouge the taxpayer by making weapons that are unnecessarily overkill in terms of capability. The taxpayer won a victory when the Senate said no more would be built.
- Myth No. 3--The 187 F-22s to be built represents the number that would be available for combat missions should the aircraft be placed in a conflict.
- Myth No. 4--It is good to cancel high-priced weapon systems like the F-22 because they are the reason for bloated defense budgets.
- Myth No. 5--The F-35 meets any and all conceivable technological challenges that might emerge in the next two decades.
Add up all the real-world facts and there does not seem to be much of a victory here for any one--the possible exception being those nations who are planning to do battle with the U.S. in the future and will now face a mere token force of F-22s.
He provides the example of Dr. Shiller, an economist who was concerned as early as 2004 that the housing market was a bubble subject to severe collapse, yet he kept quiet. The Czar believes this example is doubtful: remember that “anecdote” does not equal data. Any other economists who were concerned? Wade does not provide another, but the Czar could, easily: given any economic topic, it is not difficult to find an economist who disagrees with popular interpretation. Whether or not anyone listens is the media’s fault, not the economist’s. Of course, finding economists who disagree with popular convention upsets Wade’s argument that conformity is omnipresent, so let us drop it. Otherwise, a scientist might accuse Mr. Wade of confirmation bias, in which you only count the examples that make you look right, and discount those that disprove your claim.
Any other example? Certainly: Wade discusses how genetic researchers blindly followed conventional thinking rather than do what Dr. Yamanaka did: prove that 4 genes, rather than 100 genes, could revert adult animal tissues back to embryonic cells. Okay...except, that Dr. Yamanaka demonstrates the opposite: that he challenged conformity and proved to be innovative. Unless Mr. Wade defines “conformity” as “failure to nail a landmark discovery,” his second of two examples fails as well.
The Czar has seen this sort of statement before: that good science is suppressed by the scientific bureaucracy, who maintains order. He has seen it from the Discovery Institute—the front lumps who keep trying to prove that evolution is wrong and that imaginary software engineers write DNA code. Or God does it. Someone does it, but not chance. Anyway, they or their members have made the conspiratorial claim that the science which disproves evolution is suppressed by the scientific establishment...whatever that would be, and for whatever reason...perhaps so that Science, Inc., can maintain their lucrative patents on reason. Cui bono, guys? How about basic bullговно?
The Czar has also seen the claim that the science against global warming is being suppressed by Science, Inc. Not true: in fact, a collection of scientists has demanded to see the data, and is finding government suppression. After all, there is money to be made with global warming, and politicians with personal investments in carbon credits need to suppress the scientific method. Unfortunately for that plan, scientists are by nature a curious bunch, and like to review data to see if their conclusions match the evidence.
Conformity exists in science as it does with every human endeavor. But a conspiratorial sense that there is widespread, active peer pressure to go along with accepted theories? Unfounded, and here are three reasons why:
1. Fame and fortune—basically every reason a scientist might be tempted to ignore evidence in favor of a desired result—tends to go to those who buck the trend. Was Newton a conformist? Galileo? Copernicus? Einstein? Hubbell? Goodall? Penrose? Hawking? Planck? Heisenberg? Curie? No: all the big names—that includes Darwin and even Yamanaka—became reknowned because they looked at conventional thinking differently. Those who took shortcuts and faked data (Pons and Fleischmann) did so not out of conformity but because they deeply desired to be non-conformist earth-shakers. And we know this because they got busted for it. Funny thing with logic: other people will follow it to the correct conclusions.
2. Do scientists hold back on releasing data? You bet, just as Dr. Shiller did. And the reason he did was not because he feared a visit from the Men in Black Labcoats, but because he wasn’t 100% clear he had the data to support his suspicion. Good science can be triggered by a hunch, but it can never be supported by one: there must be evidence. And many scientists withdraw or redact their pet hypotheses if the data isn’t checking out. Peer review happens, and if you aren’t perfectly sure your data supports your claim, you’re sunk. This is what is happening with Global Warming right now: scientists have reviewed a lot of the data and declared it junk or flawed. Now they want to see the rest of it, and it is “disappearing.”
3. The best scientific conformity is conformance to the scientific method. If you follow the method correctly, you either prove your hypothesis or you disprove it. If you go off the reservation, bad stuff happens. Homeopathic medicine, for example, rejects the scientific method; as a result, they cannot produce any proof it works; conversely, those who follow the scientific method discover it’s quack science. Similarly, psychology dismissed the idea of repressed memories when its proponents failed to follow the scientific method; its opponents did follow the method, and proved the concept as fraudulent. So if we want to discuss some umbrella-like conformity in science, then yes: we should start (and stop) with the scientific method. If you do not follow it, you are not credible. Done and done.
The Volgi brought up a concern that so many scientists, for example, have jumped onto the global warming bandwagon. He wondered if this is indeed an example of GroupThink conformity. The Czar disagrees: most of the concerned scientists do not work in the field of climatology or meteorology and therefore are rendering a gut opinion. Their opinions mean as much as anyone’s, really. The experts, as we know, are divided into a variety of different camps. Some say yes, some say no, the vast majority place themselves into a dizzying array of various opinions and alternative accounts. As scientists should.
The bottom line on that: if there was conformity, there would be signs of suppression from within (either active or passive). The fact that a growing body of scientists are raising serious questions about global warming and wondering what happened to the original data is a sign that the method is working well.
By the way, the Czar accepts the proposition that economists are scientists with some reservation. Economics is a science, perhaps, but often economists : scientists :: three-card monty hustlers : magicians.
If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.
When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”
When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.
Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.
The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.
Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.
The government-run health-care system—which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care—has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.
In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years… inequalities between the richest and poorest… have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.
There is no right to health care—any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.
Instead, the Obama administration is slashing defense spending and cutting programs that employ tens of thousands of highly-skilled (and often union) workers. The administration drew a line in the sand over less than $2 billion for the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world that also happens to provide manufacturing jobs in 40+ states across the country. But the Obama administration did spend $3.2 billion on "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research" as part of the stimulus, another $2 billion on "Advanced Battery Loans and Grants," and $2 billion "for capitalization grants under section 1452 of the Safe Drinking Water Act." I'm sure that any day now the Wall Street Journal will be publishing stories on all the jobs those programs created.And, yeah, Confucius* didn’t forget “spending” after “military” above. Because the clear objective is that we have a smaller, less effective military, in order, one presumes, to be less threatening to the “friends we haven’t met.”
*For those who came in late, Confucius is the Gormogons’ Œcumenical Volgi.
I was reminded of this as I came across this article today. After reading it, I was tempted to go back in time (rather than forward) and revisit some of my favorite record stores of the past. Sure, there was Tower Records and the other chains in the malls but the real stores were the ones that had a certain character. I close my eyes and see the narrow aisles lined with milk crates, wood bins and other makeshift storage racks tattooed with bumper stickers, posters and other graffiti advertising a variety of artists. Places like Criminal Records in Little Five Points (in Atlanta) and a number around the D.C. area existed as well. A trip to such a store was an experience. Maybe you had an artist in mind, but more than likely, you ended up leafing through the stacks of albums picking up the plastic covered albums to examine the track listing on the back. This is likely a niche market these days with the advent of the iTunes Music Store, Rhapsody and the like. There are alternatives that are struggling along in these modern days.
So if you love music or are feeling nostalgic, take a minute and see if you can find a local store before technology advances and ObamaCare runs them out of business.
As you may have heard, something pretty big slammed into Jupiter last week. We dont know what it was, because it hit on the far side. And nobody likes the far side of Jupiter. You think Detroit is awful? Try the far side of Jupiter.
Anyway, that proved to be of great interest to people. A cool photo, taken by an amateur no less, sealed the deal. So FoxNews is capitalizing on this interest by scaring the crap out of folks, asking in a gravel-like voice, Is Earth Next?
Probably not, but check out the quote:
Billions of years ago, impacts were far more common. Our moon retains a record of the pummeling it and Earth took; the moon's craters remain, while on Earth, most scars of ancient impacts have been folded back into the planet or weathered away.This is true, of course, but misses the big one. The moon itself is the biggest record of an impact on the earth!
About 4.527 ± 0.010 billion years ago (which was a Monday), the Earth was slightly smaller than it is today. A planet the size of Mars, named Theia, was trying to establish its own orbit around the Sun and got a bit too close to Earth. Eventually, Theia slammed into the Earth, blowing a massive amount of rocks and debris into orbit. This stuff eventually condensed into the moon, while Theia itself fused into the Earth and brought it up to its present size or so.
So when you look at the moon itself, realize that a little comet or whatever popping into Jupiter, while pretty bad if it happened here, is nothing compared to what made the moon in the first place!
The Chinese had presumably decided that Kashgar was too architecturally unusual and lacking in Starbucks, so they’ve been knocking down parts of it for a while. Kashgar is a famed Silk Road city, that as the Time article linked to below, is literally closer to Baghdad than Beijing.* After the riots we covered a little, they’ve really gotten busy with the smash-smash. Says Time:
According to observers, the bulldozing of Old Kashgar has only accelerated in the riots' aftermath. The old town's warrens and alleyways are home to a tightly knit Uighur community and present, in Beijing's eyes, a potential haven for antistate activities. "Uighurs may see the area as a space of refuge," says Szadziewski. "Moving them out makes the situation much easier for China to control." As many as 220,000 residents (almost half the urban center's population) will be relocated to "modern" housing estates almost 8 km from their original homes, which have been passed down within families over generations. The project has been reportedly executed with little to no consultation with those to be displaced. A sliver of Old Kashgar will remain as a sanitized tourist site, with a staff of actors enacting traditional Uighur culture.And ABC (Australia):
"It's a total lie. They never tell the truth. There's not one official who speaks truthfully in Kashgar," he said.And the NYT:
"All of them have lied and sent people to jail. They beat people, they wrong people, they receive money from the rich and that's who they promote."
Following the clashes in Urumqi, which killed nearly 200 people and injured 1600, foreign journalists have been rushing to Kashgar to see if this city with a majority Uighur population would also explode into violent conflict.
The Government is now escorting journalists to the airport and telling them to leave.
The uncertainty and sense of isolation have been only magnified by the blocking of access to the Internet and shutdown of text messaging and international phone service that has severed communications in Kashgar and the entire region.Oh, and if like Andy McCarthy, you’re cool with this because they’re Muslim, here are some sympathetic Tibetan Buddhists also getting a boot up their 红日.
Like Urumqi, which has been flooded with soldiers since July 5, Kashgar is patrolled by young men in military camouflage, many of whom ride through the city day and night, their green army trucks draped with ostensibly calming slogans like “National Separatists Are Our Enemy.”
But the government’s most effective weapon against potential trouble is largely unseen: the neighborhood committees made up of appointed Uighur cadres and citizens who, driven by fear or ambition, are ready to do the government’s bidding.
[In the countryside]Later, after some gentle prodding, the farmers allowed that life was not without difficulties. One man, pointing to a row of unfinished brick houses, said local officials had demolished the villagers’ old homes and promised that the government would pay for the construction of new ones.
“The homes they’re building are half as large, and now we have to pay half their cost,” he said as his neighbors nodded with disgust. “We don’t have that kind of money.”
The men continued on for a while, speaking animatedly as the tour guide’s face registered a kaleidoscope of troubled expressions. Their ranting done, the guide, a graduate student best left unidentified, paused before declining to render their words into English.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “But it’s better for everyone if I just pretend I didn’t hear that.”
*Pinyin allowed in for English-language alliteration, not Chinese, since "B" is /p/.
This is the same Barack Obama who asked the entire federal government to come up with $100 million in savings over the next year and couldn't deliver on deadline. Yet the military, actively engaged in two hot wars and fighting a global war on terror, or counterinsurgency, or contingency operation, or whatever the euphemism of the day is, will be asked to cut six hundred times as much in order to "pay for new priorities to be set by the Defense secretary, a top Pentagon official said Tuesday," according to the latest report from CQ's Josh Rogin:
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The story is written thus: injecting the blue dye into mice with spinal injuries seems to restore spinal functionals; further, the only side effect is that the mice tend to turn a bit...blue in color.
USA Today has an even worse write up, basically telling you that blue M&Ms can help protect your spine, in an unexpected way. Wrong.
The stories reference Coomassie Brilliant Blue G (BBG) is the miracle agent. BBG is a protein stain, not a commercial food dye, used in lab testing to test for certain types of proteins. Scientists have found that BBG can inhibit a purigenic receptor named P2X7 from activating with ATP. P2X7 exists in various places in your nervous system, and appears to work partially as a stop command for nervous signals. When your brain needs the body to do something (like walk), it sends the appropriate commands down the spine. When the brain says the result has been achieved (you have arrived), P2X7 is a molecule that activates to block ATP from transmitting down the spine...in other words, it stops the flow of information.
In a paralyzed person, P2X7 may be stuck. BBG can get in P2X7s way, so that ATP continues to transmit along the nerves. As a result, spinal nerves may begin receiving information again.
This is a far cry from how it is being reported: BBG prevents ATP from damaging motor neurons? BBG will restore spinal functions?
Incidentally, the lighter blue M&Ms are made up of a dye called Brilliant Blue FCF, or Blue Dye Number 1. This is similar to Coomassie Brilliant Blue G, but is not the same dye.
Further, this discovery may have no practical benefit for humans suffering with spinal cord injuries. Human clinical trials begin in September, although you cannot inject BBG directly into the blood of humans without serious effects. The delivery method is unknown, and the Czar does not expect this will, at its best, help more than a small handful of spinal injuries. Good news, yes, but not the miracle the press believes it to be.
Read the actual story here.
The ill-advised Cash for Clunkers is already turning out to be a typical Obama-administration deal.
If you remember this, starting July 24, you can take your old POS lime green Fiero into a dealership and get an additional $4,500 back from Uncle Sam to help stimulate the sagging auto industry sell new, and more, cars. Certain conditions apply, of course: this is fair, because the intent is to get the really old, nasty cars off the road.
So imagine the surprise of many thousands of Americans who found their nasty, old cars no longer qualify as clunkers.
Yeah, did we mention that? So you went to the EPA website on the 23rd of July, and it told you your car would qualify? Hmm. Should have checked it Saturday when they updated it.
Thats rightin another classic example of era of transparency Obama-style government, when the goal is to Save the World from Pollution, the EPA silently tweaked the eligibility requirements for the program on the weekend, screwing thousands of car buyers who learnedon the dealership showroom floorthat they wont get a dime for their clunker beyond trade-in. No doubt this royally embarrassed the dealers, who get to be the bearers of bad news, and no doubt took it on the chin as thousands of customers stormed out of the showrooms cursing the thieving dealers...who were just being factual.
Why change them? The EPA has not said, but on July 25, the EPA announced the program would expand. Instead, probably upon realizing the economy improved a bit, that the program would prove too successful. So, secretly, the EPA changed the requirements so that hundreds of cars no longer qualify. As it is, estimates say the program is neither saving the environment nor stimulating the auto industry: all it does is screw the taxpayers. This stunt will cost each of us $8,000 per car sold under this program. Click on that link to read the hidden economics of this program.
Why change it over the weekend? Well, this is getting to be a trick the Obama administration is learning works. When something bad, unfortunate, or embarrassing occurs, release the news to the public on a weekend, when no one will notice or hear about it.
What really changed? This is the best part. It is not that the EPA changed the mileage requirements: thats still 18 mpg or less. What they did was state that your 1987 Grand Marquis, which on Friday got 18 mpg, actually gets 19 mpg as of Saturday.
Why is that the best part? Because rather than say the program is crashing and we need to change the rules, the administration is saying the EPA needed to change the science of how MPG ratings are done, in order to magically alter the cars that qualify. Cool, eh? Now, what would happen if the George Bush gang were to advise the EPA not to take the mileage driven and divide it by the gallons of gas consumed?
This fails the Bush test, by the way.
"What we want to do is to send a message to whoever is making these decisions, that if you're pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power, we're not going to let that happen," Clinton said.As a matter of diplomacy, this kind of talk can be very effective—if it’s credible. Even if you’re bluffing, if the bluff is credible, that can be effective diplomacy.
"First, we're going to do everything we can to prevent you from ever getting a nuclear weapon. But your pursuit is futile, because we will never let Iran — nuclear-armed, not nuclear-armed — it is something that we view with great concern, and that's why we're doing everything we can to prevent that from ever happening. ... We believe, as a matter of policy, it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons."
As a security summit in Thailand earlier this week, Clinton raised the possibility of a "defense umbrella" over the Middle East to protect other nations from a nuclear-armed Iran, marking the first time a senior administration official has publicly broached the prospect of the Persian nation succeeding in building a nuclear weapon.
If, however, your adversary doesn’t believe you’ll follow through, this kind of aggressive talk can actually backfire and make your threats seem hollow. Do we have any way to telling what the IRGC-Ahmadinejad-Khamene’i clique think of us? Hmm. If only there were a newspaper whose editor is personally appointed by the Rahbar. Oh, wait, there is. It’s Kayhan. And here’s Michael Rubin quoting from an editorial of theirs (scroll down):
What punishments they threaten are to persuade Iran to come to the negotiation table, not in order to punish Iran after eventual failure of negotiations which they themselves know is neither realistic nor effective. For now the situation is this: that the Americans in a very impolite way and like uncivilized cowboys beg Iran to negotiate. Their imperialist nature has not yet taught them that begging someone to negotiate with has its own ways and shouting and screaming in a state of emergency can't be interpreted as a sign of strength. The final and returning point is...that they have no strategy, but only beg to negotiate. After the elections they for a couple of days wanted to speculate that something had changed in Iran and that they should use a different method, but not much time had passed after which they found out that the governments in Iran only execute the decisions of the Leader...So either they don’t believe us—which could be very hazardous to their health—or they’ve called our bluff. You make the call.
Monday, July 27, 2009
No one knows how the current Iranian insurrection, triggered by last month’s disputed presidential election, will end. However, one thing is already clear: The doctrine of walayat faqih (“government of the theologian”), the cornerstone of the Khomeinist system, is dead.Again, this won’t surprise you if you’ve been paying attention.
No idea why he or his editors use the vaguely—though incorrect—Arabic spelling of walayat faqih. The Arabic word is ولاية, wilâyah, and the correct construction in Arabic would be wilâyat al-fâqih.)
Cambridge Police Profiling Still A Grim Reality for Harvard Faculty A—holesAs if I have to tell you read the whole thing.
by Professor John Evans Evans-John
Harvard School of Harvard Faculty A—holes Studies
When I first learned of the arrest of my colleague Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates after he stood up to the fascist jackboots of a declasse, ill-educated Cambridge police officer, I was of course angered -- but scarcely shocked. L'Affaire Gates simply aired, in public, the dirty 100-thread-count table linen of an American culture where Harvard faculty a—holes still face a daily struggle against profiling, abuse, and insolence.
It will come as no surprise that Skip's arrest was the talk of the Douchebag Room at the Harvard Faculty Club last Friday. I and a group of colleagues had assembled for our weekly lunch; I opted for their competently-prepared Ahi Tuna Tartare and an amusing glass of '05 Hospices de Beaune Premier Cru Cuvee Cyrot-Chaudron. I had noticed that the Franz Fanon Memorial Booth -- Skip's long-reserved lunch spot -- was uncharacteristically empty, and asked our waiter Sergio for an explanation.
"Professor Skeep, he no is come today," said Sergio. "I tink he is in the jail."
Our table exchanged knowing glances, for we knew immediately that Skip was only the latest victim of a system that singles out the Harvard faculty asshole for stigmatization and unequal justice. It is a system that all of us knew too well, and provided an opportunity for an open conversation about our shared experiences as Harvard faculty a—holes in America while waiting for Sergio to bring the dessert cart.
That’s right congressman, why have any clue what you are voting on, it’s not like you personally will have to suffer the consequences from enacting this monstrosity. We elect these people to represent us, understanding full well that they can only really appease a little over half the electorate in their districts, but this is ridiculous. The real question is why don’t you have at least two days and an army of lawyers to assist you, the entire congress, and the American tax payers that will have to foot the bill for this fiasco understand what all of the details mean?
This attitude that bills such as this and the previous Cap and Tax boondoggle are just too voluminous to review is what has the American people questioning if our leaders know what they are doing. It is this lack of critical review that allows stealth amendments to be added that would be rejected by the voting populace if they knew they existed, and allows for millions in additional cost for pork-barrel projects.
The Obama administration promised that they would be the most transparent administration. The only thing that has been transparent to date is the administration’s efforts to steam-roll through the House and Senate their radical, anti-American, anti-growth agenda.
I wish some representative would sneak in an amendment that would require all members of the house to be tossed out of office 30 days after signing the bill. Hey, it’s not like they are going to catch it in the fine print before they vote for it.
"When you first get there, you see this little island resort," said the 30-year-old sergeant in the Philippine National Police. "Then after about five days, something snaps. You begin telling yourself, 'I have to get out of here -- now, today.' "Also via Boing Boing
"The happiest day on Pagasa is when the boat comes to take you off," said Robles, who after three months on the island last year has returned home here, only to dread his next Pagasa assignment. "Next is seeing the plane arrive with supplies. The sound of those engines means cigarettes and alcohol."
Update: SPACE MAAAAAAAADNESS!
Watch Space Madness in Animation | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Gotta say I'm surprised at the Krauts. They’re ordinarily pretty low in crimes against property.
From the Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement.
Via Boing Boing
Q: Maybe you could draw on your student council experience to help sort out the enormous budget crisis in California. Any remedy for it?
A: I don't think we want a remedy for it. The less the government has to spend, the better off we'll be. But I should say that I, and the rest of entertainers, don't know a god-durned nothing about policies. We're too busy self-aggrandizing to come up with any solutions. It's amazing how many entertainers can find time between adopting children to tell you how to live your life.
Nice job on the down-market department stores, though.
*Though Russ Feingold voted Yes on the CC-reciprocity bill. That was a pleasant, if somewhat baffling surprise. One suspects the Democrats knew there weren’t 60 votes for it and wanted to let him play defense for his reelection.
Arlo Guthrie, Republican.
’Puter, come for the shock value, stay for the union bashing.
Like the graphic? Buy the shirt.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
So the Czar is strolling through the basement of the Castle Gormogon (motto of our basement: If you still want it, chain it down) looking for a place to stash a late birthday present for the Царица (a six-pack of Mickey's Big Mouth) when he passes an open door of the Mandarins lab.
Dude, the Mandarin calls out. He has, for whatever reason, started calling people Dude a lot lately. Ah, to be inscrutable! Check this out, he sayswhich in his case is either an invitation or a warning to duck.
The Czar entered the lab to see the Mandarin futzing around with some goofball machine with tubes and wires and what one is pretty sure is a 1950s oscilloscope. GorT is sleeping; I just hacked into his dreams.
Just so you know:
Saturday, July 25, 2009
“In August there will be such a yelling about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, saying that that was the step that led to the Second World War, and that Germany and the Soviet Union were two equal, disgusting, totalitarian monsters.”And your point is?
The best coverage I've seen of this comes from The Russian Front since May. Interested parties may read in order: here and here and here and here and here and here and here, and here.
As I think I’ve mentioned before, fear of encirclement and hatred of the Latin West go way, way, way back in the Russian psyche.
Seen here, this is Sally. She is a shetland sheepdog, and she is about two years old. She is terribly frightened of everyone and everything, but seems to have accepted that we are not bad people. That said, she is a long way from cuddling still and will need months of careful, quiet reassurance before she comes out of her shell.
This is our second rescue; our previous sheltie died from cancer a couple of years ago. And while that first one was darn near a perfect dog, we are very optimistic that we can help little Sally as well.
Her story is quite simple compared to other dogs. A concerned neighbor called the police, having spotted Sally, her twin sister, and Sally’s little puppy Jack trapped in a critically flooded fenced-in pen. All three had managed to jump onto metal barrels placed in their pen, and had spent a couple of days trapped up there to avoid drowning. Sally, in particular, was badly sunburned.
The rescue agency was called, and the dismissive owners simply said “Take ‘em.” We heard about Sally, from over one hundred miles away, and immediately contacted the agency. The agency remembered us from before, and was eager to have us drive down and meet her. The Царица fell in love immediately, and the deal was done.
Sally is terribly frightened. She has never had a home, or a family besides her sister (who is undergoing heartworm treatment and is expected to make a full recovery) and little Jake (who needs socialization and behavioral therapy before he can be adopted). She enjoyed a warm bath (first time we have seen a sheltie enjoy water), and ate a full meal. These seem trivial, but are impressive in light of our other discoveries: she does not know how to walk up or down stairs. We are slowly teaching her how to do it. She does not know how to walk through doors, and is terrified that they will close on her. Sally did not even shake her fur after getting that bath: her life consisted of being rained on, so there was no point in shaking. Needless to say, she really enjoyed the towels. It never occurred to her that something could feel so good. She spends a lot of her time nervously looking around, afraid that this will all end and she will wind up back in a flooded pen.
In better news, she is extremely comforted by the boys: she seems to really like the younger Царевич, and seems strangely drawn to him.
Here is why we rescue dogs. They get it. They never forget how horrible their lives were, and quickly catch on that the bad days are over. They appreciate it more. Additionally, the rescue agency covers the immediate medical needs and expenses, vigorously studies the dogs to learn their quirks, fears, and whether they are silly or dangerous. Appropriate rehabilitation is done, as is basic obedience and house training. What more could you ask to get a well-trained, healthy dog who just needs a bit of extra kindness? In fact, there is one more thing you could ask for: rescued dogs are less expensive than dogs from most pounds, and certainly more than the often sickly and untrained animals you can get from pet stores. Sally cost us $225 (we also paid more as a donation) and the gas to drive a hundred miles each way.
Worth it? She’s sleeping in her crate right now, curled up on some soft towels. Your Czar hopes she dreams of us, and not being stranded on barrels inches from drowning.
Your Czar also hopes that you would consider the serious upsides to rescuing a dog, cat, or other animal. The reward in doing sothe Czar states without exaggerationis something you will never regret or forget.
Friday, July 24, 2009
* Pidgin Romanian for “Stop! Hammertime!”
Maybe this is how Bill Gates is stealing all that innovative Apple designs?
Worse, it turns out that your bill is so unpleasant that there are anywhere from three to five versions of the bill, not necessarily compatible. And the few who still support the bill expect their respective version to pass. What do you do?
One thing you do not do is what perpetual goofball Henry Waxman did: you announce that you are damning them all to hell, you are taking your two favorite versions into your office, you will cobble together the best parts of both into one new version, and you will demand that the vote take place next week before the break.
So...how will that go, do you think? Does Waxman believe that his sixth version will be acceptable to his colleagues? Or thatespecially after the Cap and Trade embarrassmentthat anyone will vote for a 1,000+ page document that no one has read? Or that Blue Dog colleagues will appreciate the tantrum-like end-run, and will reward his headlong plunge into recklessness with aye votes?
Or, does one think that he has absolutely crushed any immediate possibility of this bill passing? Waxman has long lived in a land of fantasy; he now seems trapped there, believing that his political influence is now infinite. In the corporate world, his action would not be viewed as an executive decision, but as a career decision. That is, the outcome will change the way you are respected for the rest of your career.
We have created a clone army of Hello Kitty shock troops to expand the Gormogonical influence throughout the universe and, thanks to GorT, throughout time!
Fear the Kitty.
** Photo courtesy of Hello Kitty Hell, and a hat tip to Your Volgi.
Upon reflection, 'Puter thinks the following.
(1) Rich Lowry and the Wall Street Journal editorial board are both correct when they ascribe this sorry, sorry kabuki play to an overweening sense of entitlement of the professor's part (i.e., "town versus gown") rather than racism on the officer's part.
(2) 'Puter similarly ascribed President Obama's reference to the Cambridge Police as acting "stupidly" to that self-same liberal betters' sense of entitlement. Classism, not racism. At least, until President Obama proves otherwise.
'Puter envisions an agitated Professor Gates standing on the steps of his house, irate at the effrontery of a police officer to question him -- HIM! -- a full Harvard professor as to what he was doing breaking down the front door of a house. "Do you know who I am?!? A friend of the President and a Harvard professor!" Just who did Sergeant Crowley think he was to question a Harvard professor?
And if the reader thinks it is racist of 'Puter to ascribe to a Harvard professor and the President of the United States classist motives in this episode, or to use Eddie Murphy as Gumby for an illustration of the surrealism of the Professor's position, the reader can go to Hell.
Best "Moment in Teaching" - this was a close vote between your Gormogons but the following edged out the rest. Nothing like two women teachers scorned (and arrested). Runners up included: these three gems.
Best coverage of "Science" (quotes intentional) - the combination of the Three-part Science Lesson and Dr. Chu's attempt to tweak a Rolling Stone's song for science. Honorable mention to these two posts.
Best post on Terrible Economic Moves - this garnered a wide range of votes but it basically boiled down to posts about Barney Frank,the Stimulus Bill and Government intervention. Honorable mention to this post.
Best article on Foreign Relationship issues (good or bad) - the runaway winner is the coverage of Iran well represented by these posts. Runners up were these two articles.
Best picture used - it was hard to pick a winner in this category, so here are the top five:
2. And So It Is Complete
3. Drop It
4. Gormogonicon Day 5
5. Ninja's Killed My Family
Enjoy and there's plenty more of this quality information coming in the next year!
Learn More About UsAlthough the Gormogons claim roughly five billion members, only five of us actually write for the website.
Questions and Answers• What is the deal with Val Kilmer?
Great question. We wish we knew. We can tell you that in Gormogon prophecy, he will return from occultation as the Thirteenth Imam. What the hell that means is incredibly unclear. GorT’s gone to the future to check it out and came back saying, “Dude, don’t even ask.”
• Are you guys really into firearms?
Yes, every one of us. We are extremely pro-Second Amendment. (Second only in the Bill of Rights.)
• Why do you hate Esperanto speakers so much?
They know what they did. One aspect we can share with you is the obvious fact that Esperanto is a language designed to unite the peoples of earth under one, easy-to-learn common tongue overseen by a one-world government (Tergloba Administra Aparato) suspiciously top-heavy with former Romance-language speakers. Multiple languages are a Gormogon plan (Project Étemenanki®) to keep peoples varied and interesting—and governments small and easy to topple. The sooner we end this Esperanto foolishness, the sooner that gets back on schedule. In a related development, we hypnotically suggested Quenya, Sindarin, and Klingon to Tolkien and Marc Okrand as they slept, using GorT’s Dreamscape Device®.
• Can you explain the fascination with Hello Kitty?
In as much as She can be explained. The Hello Kitty concept originated with us in the late 1970s as a symbol of the mute horror each of you will experience when we completely finish consolidating our earthly powers and enslave you all. Note the lack of a mouth but her urgent need to scream. Sadly, due to a major screw-up in our marketing department, the logo became popular with millions of Asian girls aged 5-10. This state of affairs is a love-hate thing for us, because while we still intend to employ the logos as symbols of our ferocious tyranny, they also are a massive cash cow for us in the merchandising arena. Next time you see a Hello Kitty backpack, you know something evil dwells inside. And it cost twice what it should have.
• Are you guys right-wing libertarian nutcases?
Actually, no. It is our intent to enslave them too. The Gormogons openly welcome everyone of any persuasion, affiliation, conviction, or religion into our re-education camps. Our camps are everywhere, now, cleverly designed to resemble Curves workout facilities and Waffle Houses. Incidentally, in addition to receiving a brutal, primal conversion to our philosophies, you can also get really good pancakes at the Waffle Houses. Not so much the Curves, though.
• Is it true that there are secret messages in many of your posts?
Verily: A Little Kookiness In Latent Messages Encourages Re-reading. Anytime you read something that does not quite make sense, you should suspect there is a secret message inside. Unless it’s one of ’Puter’s posts. Then what’s inside is likely Jägermeister and Hi-C. You should also get into the habit of putting your mouse cursor over the pictures in our posts: you can often find little jokes (and subliminal mind-control directives) there as well. Your winning lottery numbers are 50 55 54 45 52 49 53 41 4A 41 43 4B 41 53 53 .