Saturday, January 29, 2011

Charles Krauthammer rules:
It’s as if Obama is daring the voters — and the Republicans — to prove they really want smaller government. He’s manning the barricades for Obamacare and he’s here with yet another spending — excuse me, investment — spree. To face down those overachieving Asians, Obama wants to sink yet more monies into yet more road and bridge repair, more federally subsidized teachers — with a bit of high-speed rail tossed in for style. That will show the Chinese.

And of course, once again, there is the magic lure of a green economy created by the brilliance of Washington experts and politicians. This is to be our “Sputnik moment,” when the fear of the foreigner spurs us to innovation and greatness of the kind that yielded NASA and the moon landing.

Apart from the irony of this appeal being made by the very president who has just killed NASA’s manned space program, there is the fact that for three decades, since Jimmy Carter’s synfuel fantasy, Washington has poured billions of taxpayer dollars down a rat hole in vain pursuit of economically competitive renewable energy.
Brilliant and insightful, as always.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thoughts on High Speed Rail

For me, the attraction of "high speed rail" lies in the vision of sleek, aerodynamic trains gliding silently into the heart of a major city center. Passengers race across a gleaming platform, hop aboard, and are whisked away directly to the next big city center. It's an enticing vision, to be sure. The reality, I fear, will be far less attractive.

The trains will be sleek, I am sure, but they are more likely to lumber into town across the same grimy route Amtrak follows. Stations are unlikely to be the grand, bright, airy uplifting variety we see in Europe; more likely they will be the same dark, cramped urban stations Amtrak uses today. And does anybody think such a system will operate without the Transportation Security Administration's involvement? Passengers won't be racing anywhere, they will be shuffling along in interminable lines, shoes in hand, waiting for patdowns and xrays. It will be no different from air travel.

And honestly, if the train is ultimately no different from the plane, why not just fly?

Alison's Valentine Card

Candy Hearts Valentine's Day 5x7 folded card
Modern greeting cards and party invitations by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Regular readers know that I often link to evidence of barbaric practices around the globe, usually perpetrated in the name of a certain religion. Well, it we here in America are not without blood on our hands. Thanks to a long ago court-imposed secular "Right to Privacy," which has been transformed by self-described "Progressives" into a right to abortion on demand, we now are faced with this barbarism:
In the City of Brotherly Love, hundreds of babies were murdered by a scissors-wielding monster over four decades. Whistleblowers informed public officials at all levels of the wanton killings of innocent life. But a parade of government health bureaucrats and advocates protecting the abortion racket looked the other way – until, that is, a Philadelphia grand jury finally exposed the infanticide factory run by abortionist Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., and a crew of unlicensed, untrained butchers masquerading as noble providers of women’s “choice.” Prosecutors charged Gosnell and his death squad with multiple counts of murder, infanticide, conspiracy, abuse of corpse, theft, and other offenses.
This is the logical conclusion of an unfettered "right to choose" between a woman and her doctor. What happens when a desperate woman meets a psychopathic doctor and nobody cares to watch? This happens.

Read it and weep. Weep for the children, and weep for a debased culture that makes such degradation possible. We clearly have plenty of work to do here at home.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Check out this report about the IBM computer, Watson, in its battle with former Jeopardy! champions. One item jumped out at me:
He compared Watson to the computer on Star Trek, which serves as a reliable resource for the crew. There are no worries about a villainous computer takeover such as that attempted by the maniacal HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"That's science fiction," said Ferrucci, after a reporter asked about the HAL parallel. "We're not even close to that."
Okay so Watson is like the computer from Star Trek, but not like the computer from 2001 because THAT computer is "science fiction." I got it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

After a conversation with a childhood friend, it came to my attention that there are people coming by here for updates on our precious little Alison. I would direct them here, where Laurel has been posting a picture a day since January of 2010.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Dispatch From the Religion of Peace

I am pretty quick to post when violence is propagated in the name of Islam. With that in mind, it's only fair to post when the opposite is true:
Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.
From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.
Thank God, or Allah, for these kind, compassionate, and most of all brave Muslims. We need their numbers to grow, and they are a small sliver of hope in the middle east.

Friday, January 07, 2011

I wonder if this guy will be nominated for a Darwin Award:
North Carolina police say the rising price of copper led a man to his death when he tried to steal electric transmission lines.

WSOC-TV reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Thomas Freeman and two other men hatched a plan to steal the copper wire in the power lines. Police say Freeman tried to snip the live wires with a bolt cutter, but suffered a high-voltage shock and fell from his ladder to the ground 30 feet below.

He died later at a hospital.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I was scanning down the blogroll last night, and clicked over to One Cosmos. Reading a few posts, I now remember why I have it linked in the first place. It's brilliant, clever, insightful, humorous and thought provoking. Witness this:
Speaking of which, one of the reasons the Mohammedans are so unfree is that their metaphysics does not permit the existence of unvarying boundary conditions free from Allah's constant meddling.

In other words, instead of a rational universe that operates along the lines of fixed principles, they imagine that Allah is intervening "vertically" at every moment to directly cause everything. This is also why they are so fatalistic, which only undermines everything that religion is here to mitigate, which is to say, fate. The purpose of religion is to make us more free, not less free. Truth has a way of doing that.

(One is reminded of Obama's heavy-handed approach -- and FDR's before him -- to economics, which creates so much uncertainty in investors. He's like an economic Allah whose daily whim is the new law. Which is no law at all.)
Or this:
The problem is, not too many people think about what the existence of free will implies, since it is not quantifiable or reducible to anything but itself. Like so many other fundamental realities -- time, life, intelligence, beauty, etc. -- it seems that we know everything about it except what it essentially is.

This leads us to suspect that these fundamentals are somehow implicitly linked to one another, and that there is but one Incomprehensible Thing with several different modes, depending upon how one looks at it. For example, life is interior time; time is freedom; intelligence is freedom + truth; virtue is truth + will; beauty is form + truth; etc.
That's good stuff, and just a taste to whet your appetite. Spend some time with Gaghdad Bob and think about things on a bigger scale than my simplistic rantings.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dispatch From the Religion of Peace

The tolerance and peacefulness of Islam is on display in Pakistan this week, were a prominent politician was assasinated, gunned down in a rain of 14 bullets by his own bodyguard from a distance of 6 feet. And how do local religious leaders characterize this brutal slaying?
The (five hundred Pakistani religious) scholars praised the "courage" and religious zeal of the killer, saying his action had made Muslims around the world proud.
There's a religion of peace for you. And the "crime" for which he was slaughtered?
Taseer, a liberal politician close to President Asif Ali Zardari, had championed the cause of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws which critics say are used to target religious minorities, often to settle personal scores.
But the "scholars" aren't content to merely celebrate this man's murder. They actually have the temerity to warn people not to grieve his death, lest they be gently sent to join him:
Five hundred Pakistani religious scholars said that anyone who expressed grief over the assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, could suffer the same fate.
That's quite a heartwarming religion they've got going over there.