Sunday, January 31, 2010

Won't they leave anything alone?

This is why I hate politicians. There is nothing beyond their self absorbed sphere of influence. Now they want to micromanage college football.

First the Democrats:
The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.
And why are the Dems investigating college football? Because a Republican demanded they do so:
In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch's request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.
With all the crap we are dealing with in this country, from health care to war to terrorist trials, it is appalling that these tools on both sides of the aisle are expending even a moment of their time worrying about college football.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Surfing the Blogosphere

With some idle time tonight after Alison went to bed, I was surfing through my favorite blogs. Out of curiosity, I Googled Pamela Geller the author of the Atlas Shrugs blog. That led me to State Ethics, a blog apparently written by a European of Dutch extraction. I started this post with the idea that this was a legitimate blog, representing the ideas of the author. I have since concluded that it must be a parody.

On Haiti:
That's why aid donations, such as those now being given 'for Haïti', should be criminalised. Individuals who give money to these aid organisations should be prosecuted - for donating to a malevolent organisation, and for obstructing aid to the victims of a a natural disaster.

On "global warming" skeptics:
Nevertheless, the request establishes the principle, that detention in a psychiatric hospital is a legitimate response to climate change denialism. It also establishes the legitimacy of the request procedure itself - i.e. that opponents of denialism can seek to have denialists detained. Most countries have legal provisions for psychiatric detention. Depending on the exact provisions, they may be available for political purposes, as a de facto form of internment.

He also proposes the death penalty be applied for both excessive income and workplace inequality. A very strange blog indeed. I suspect it to be a parody along the lines of Blame Bush. The Bush blog is so over the top, it is obviously a parody, but this one is just dry enough that I can't quite tell for sure.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blogroll Update

I updated the blogroll today for several reasons:

1. There were lots of outdated and dead links.
2., the embedded applet that generated the list, started applying adds to clicked-through pages. They also started jumbling up the list so it was hard to find things.
3. I have completely forgotten my username and password, so I couldn't add or delete blogs from the list.

If either of my readers find a blog they would like to see on the list, or are missing one of their favorites from the new list, shoot me a note and I will add it back.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Boy, am I glad I turned up a new job after three months of unemployment. The New York Times has an article on architects turning to some rather unconventional means of support.
In fact, Mr. Morefield, 29, is no politician, but an architectural designer looking for work. He was seated at a homemade wooden stand under a sign reading “Architecture 5¢,” with a tin can nearby awaiting spare change. For a nickel, he would answer any architectural question. [...]

When Natasha Case, 26, lost her job as a designer at Walt Disney Imagineering about a year ago, she and her friend Freya Estreller, 27, a real estate developer, started a business selling Ms. Case’s homemade ice cream sandwiches in Los Angeles. Named for architects like Frank Gehry (the strawberry ice cream and sugar cookie Frank Behry) and Mies van der Rohe (the vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate chip cookie Mies Vanilla Rohe), they were an immediate hit. [...]

When Debi van Zyl, 33, was laid off by a small residential design firm in Los Angeles in May, she decided to do freelance design work for as long as she could, and she picked up jobs doing exhibition design for the Getty and Huntington museums. In her spare time, to relax, she started knitting what she describes as “kooky” stuffed animals like octopuses and jellyfish. Then, at the urging of the readers of her blog, she began selling them on Etsy. Les Petites Bêtes Sauvages, as she calls them, have helped her pay the rent and other bills for the last few months. [...]

Mr. Chuk, 38, began his job search in a good mood because of the wave of optimism surrounding the presidential election. During the first three months, he sent out nearly 150 résumés, applying for many jobs he was overqualified for. (Sears, Home Depot and Lowe’s all turned him down for jobs as a designer because he was overqualified, he said.) He had only one interview.

After that, he said, he applied for the rare job that popped up but spent most of his time taking care of his children, studying for his architectural licensing exam and renovating his basement.

This month, he began commercial truck driving school.
The article states that architecture employment nationwide has dropped from 224,500 to 184,600. That's nearly 40,000 unemployed architects out there. No wonder they're making ice cream sandwiches and knitting stuffed animals.

Friday, January 22, 2010

With all the hysteria about the recent Supreme Court decision opining that the First Amendment actually protects political speech, I found this summary the easiest to get my arms around:
The 1st Amendment doesn't just protect freedom of speech. It also protects freedom of the press.

In the late 20th century, a concerted effort was made to create a mythology that "the press" is somehow synonymous with "journalism as taught at Columbia". And it's not. "The press" is actually synonymous with "any group of assholes banded together to provide any information or opinion content whatsoever to the public".

The state has no right to declare what organizations are and are not the press. If the corporation that publishes the New York Times can engage in political speech, so can every other corporation. The SCOTUS specifically endorsed this argument in its ruling today.

Update: The Wall Street Journal sums it up nicely
The Court's opinion is especially effective in dismantling McCain-Feingold's arbitrary exemption for media corporations. Thus a corporation that owns a newspaper—News Corp. or the New York Times—retains its First Amendment right to speak freely. "At the same time, some other corporation, with an identical business interest but no media outlet in its ownership structure, would be forbidden to speak or inform the public about the same issue," wrote Justice Kennedy. "This differential treatment cannot be squared with the First Amendment."

Monday, January 18, 2010

I am reading The Real George Washington, and I found this passage very interesting. The young Washington studied a French publication called Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. If we all studied and practiced this today, I think the world would be a nicer place to live.

  • In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.
  • Kill no vermin, as fleas, lice, ticks, etc., in the sight of others.
  • Spit not into the fire, ... nor set your feet upon the fire, especially if there be meat before it.
  • Cleanse not your teeth with the tablecloth, napkin, fork, or knife.

  • These specifics are interesting and instructive, but I was really fascinated with the guidance more oriented to public behavior and interaction with others:
  • Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave.
  • Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.
  • In writing or speaking, give to every person his due title according to his degree and the custom of the place.
  • When a man does all he can, though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it.
  • Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.
  • Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company.
  • Let your conversation be without malice or envy ... And in all causes of passion admit reason to govern.
  • Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.
  • When you speak of God and His attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence. Honor and obey your natural parents although they be poor.
  • Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.

  • Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
  • Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Now that's a big dog

    Our Great Dane, Maggie, visible from space.

    Saturday, January 02, 2010

    How's that Global Warming working out for you?

    It's once in a generation cold in North Carolina.
    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Forecasters say the coldest stretch of weather in years if not decades could be heading for North Carolina. While temperatures won’t be falling to record lows, the National Weather Service says the duration of the cold weather is unusual. Highs could struggle to get above freezing for the next week in areas from Raleigh west.

    Forecasters say there are some indications the weather with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens could last up to two weeks. A cold snap like that was last seen in January 1977.

    A wind chill advisory has been issued for the mountains. Once the temperature dips below freezing Friday evening, forecasters say it might not get above 32 degrees again until Tuesday or Wednesday. The weather service says check pipes and bring pets inside.
    It's also pretty cold halfway around the world in India:
    New Delhi - At least 17 people died as towns and cities in India's northern states were hit by cold weather, officials said on Friday.
    And it's looking cold in Britain as well.
    Britain is bracing itself for one of the coldest winters for a century with temperatures hitting minus 16 degrees Celsius, forecasters have warned. They predicted no let up in the freezing snap until at least mid-January, with snow, ice and severe frosts dominating. And the likelihood is that the second half of the month will be even colder.
    Al Gore could not be reached for comment.

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    Apocalypse: Then and Now

    Dennis Dutton, a philosophy professor from New Zealand, remembers New Years day ten years ago:
    Y2K problems would not be limited to mainframe computers that governed the information systems of the modern world, but were going to affect millions of tiny computer chips found everywhere. Thanks to these wonky microprocessors, elevators would die, G.P.S. devices would stop working and dishwashers would dry the food onto the plates before trying to rinse it off. Even ordinary cars might spontaneously accelerate to fatal, uncontrollable speeds, with brakes failing to respond.

    The Y2K catastrophe was promoted with increasing shrillness toward century’s end: headlines proclaimed a “computer time bomb” or “a date with disaster.” Vanity Fair’s January 1999 article “The Y2K Nightmare” caught the sensationalist tone, claiming that “folly, greed and denial” had “muffled two decades of warnings from technology experts.”
    Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Even the skeptics that didn't buy it were deemed to be deniers and ostracized:
    Among the most reviled of the Y2K deniers was Bill Gates, who not only declared that Microsoft’s PCs would take the date turnover in stride, but had the audacity to blame those who “love to tell tales of fear” for the worldwide anxiety. Mr. Gates’s denialism was ignored as governments and corporations set in place immensely expensive schemes to immunize systems against the Y2K bug.
    This is precisely the same scenario we are now presented with by global warming climate change. Then, as now, we are told it is the end of civilization, and the problem can only be solved by spending inordinate sums of money. So, many governments dutifully spent their money upgrading their systems, only to see countries that had largely ignored the coming catastrophe survive just fine:
    However, exactly 10 years ago today, as the date change moved on through the Far East, India, Russia, the Middle East and Europe, it became apparent that it made little difference whether you lived in Britain, which at great expense had revamped many of its computer systems, or the lackadaisical Ukraine, which had ignored the issue.

    With minor glitches that would have gone unnoticed any other day of the week, the world kept ticking on. It must have been galling for computer-conscientious Germans to observe how life continued its pleasurable path for feckless Italians, who had generally paid no attention to Y2K.
    The author points out that this fear of being destroyed by our own civilization has been around since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Ten years ago, I bought into the hype, stockpiling gasoline, food, and cash, just in case the pumps, cash registers, and ATMs didn't work on January 1st. This year, I joining Bill Gates in the denier's camp, and the climategate emails seem to point to yet another Chicken Little scenario. The author concludes:
    Apocalyptic scenarios are a diversion from real problems — poverty, terrorism, broken financial systems — needing intelligent attention. Even something as down-to-earth as the swine-flu scare has seemed at moments to be less about testing our health care system and its emergency readiness than about the fate of a diseased civilization drowning in its own fluids. We wallow in the idea that one day everything might change in, as St. Paul put it, the “twinkling of an eye” — that a calamity might prove to be the longed-for transformation. But turning practical problems into cosmic cataclysms takes us further away from actual solutions.

    This applies, in my view, to the towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions of popular climate catastrophism. Such entertaining visions owe less to scientific climatology than to eschatology, and that familiar sense that modernity and its wasteful comforts are bringing us closer to a biblical day of judgment. As that headline put it for Y2K, predictions of the end of the world are often intertwined with condemnations of human “folly, greed and denial.” Repent and recycle!
    Just in my lifetime, we have been told by "experts" that we face certain overpopulation, global starvation, nuclear winter, a new ice age (from global cooling), and Y2K. None, not by a single one, has come to pass.

    Nanci Griffith

    Way back in the very early 1990s, I was lucky enough to see Texas chanteuse Nanci Griffith at the Wells Theater in Norfolk. Her music has been a big part of my life ever since, so I wanted to start 2010 by sharing something that has given me joy for 20 years. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I do. Happy New Year.

    And a special "Happy New Year" to my new Texas family as well.