Thursday, May 31, 2007


Joshuapundit doesn't count on sweet reason to win the battle against anti-Zionism.

when it comes to the anti-Zionist, these are essentially attacks on Israel's very right to exist. And for some reason, Jews continue to take these attacks and treat them as legitimate, intellectual propositions that can be refuted logically.

To put it simply, scratch an `anti-Zionist' and you almost never have to delve too deeply to find a Jew hater. And such people almost never respond well to logic, no matter how flawlessly delivered.

So, what's the best way to deal with `anti-Zionism'? Simple - you don't `refute' it, since that kind of racism isn't something that can be `refuted' - you simply confront it head on, forcefully so that people that endorse this kind of tacit racism realize that while they certainly have the freedom to express any cockamamie ideas they might have, there are personal consequences not only for espousing these beliefs, but for enabling them in the name of `academic freedom' or political correctness or a `free exchange of ideas'.

let's look at this from the other end of the telescope. Have you ever noticed that people like Daniel Pipes, Walid Shoebat, Steve Emerson, Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel or Robert Spencer rarely if ever appear at America's universities?

Aside from the fact that there's a fair amount of faculty at America's institutions of higher learning that have disdain for their views, here's what's happened whenever any of the above have responded to an invitation to speak on campus - rather than bothering with card tables, leaflets and debate, the Muslims and their allies gathered in howling mobs, shouting down the speakers, refusing to let them continue and in general creating a huge ruckus that disrupted the events and intimidated the university silly enough to allow them to appear on campus.

Vanishing quotes

I've noticed any number of instances where articles disappear from news and opinion sites. For example, guest pieces at have a way of vanishing after a time. The Anchoress notes this as well:

“I think it is a little hypocritical of Senator Clinton to call on me to repudiate a political figure’s comments when she never asked Senator Durbin to repudiate his comments. Senator Clinton might think about her propensity to allow outrageous statements from the other side that are far beyond political dialogue –insulting every Republican, comparing our soldiers to Nazis or Soviet gulag guards– and never protesting when she serves with them.”

Oh, and Rep Peter King of Long Island reminds us of one more ”Karl Rove deserves a medal,” King said. “Hillary Clinton, she’s the one who went to the floor of the Senate and implied President Bush knew about Sept. 11 and let it happen.”

Yesterday those two quotes were in an online story at, but if you go back, today, you will not find them.

And in addition to these examples, we get occasional cases where CNN will change a story to one it wishes it had written at the time.

If it's not amnesty....

...Then give me another word for it.

Proponents of the immigration bill making its way through Congress are constantly claiming "it's not amnesty". For example:

Amnesty is forgiveness for being here without any penalties — that's what amnesty is. I oppose it.

President Bush.

OK, if "amnesty" means forgiveness without any penalties, then we need another word for what's happening. Maybe "retroactive decriminalization"?

Seriously – If I stole your car, and someone passed a law reducing my penalty to a $100 fine, and I got to keep the car, I might find the difference between that and "amnesty" not worth talking about.

False messiah's home to be razed

Very few people will recognize the name of Sabbetai Tzvi. He was widely regarded as the Messiah in the 17th Century. He gained a huge following, and when he converted (under duress) to Islam, many of his followers decided this was part of his plan to redeem the world and converted with him.

Tzvi chose to convert, and most of his followers lost hope — but not all of them. Many saw the conversion as a heroic act of tikkun, or repair, and followed their messiah’s lead by outwardly becoming Muslims while secretly maintaining their messianic Jewish faith. They were called doenmeh, meaning “turncoats”— a pejorative term not unlike marrano (“pig.”) Among themselves, they were called ma’aminim, “believers.” Sabbateanism did not die out in 1666, or even 10 years later when Tzvi himself died. There were subsequent messiahs — largely forgotten men like Baruchiah Russo and Jacob Frank — and, as recent scholarship has shown, Sabbateanism greatly influenced the 18th-century emergence of Hasidism. And then there are the doenmeh, who live on until the present day, in secretive communities, at first primarily in Salonika and today almost entirely in present-day Turkey.

And Turkey remains largely secular to this day.

Creating life

Scientists are closing in on the creation of new life forms. Maybe.

It last happened about 3.6 billion years ago. a tiny living cell emerged from the dust of the Earth. It replicated itself, and its progeny replicated themselves, and so on, with genetic twists and turns down through billions of generations. Today every living organism—every person, plant, animal and microbe—can trace its heritage back to that first cell. Earth's extended family is the only kind of life that we've observed, so far, in the universe.

This pantheon of living organisms is about to get some newcomers—and we're not talking about extraterrestrials. Scientists in the last couple of years have been trying to create novel forms of life from scratch. They've forged chemicals into synthetic DNA, the DNA into genes, genes into genomes, and built the molecular machinery of completely new organisms in the lab—organisms that are nothing like anything nature has produced.

Of course, not everyone is happy about this prospect:

Francis Collins, the director of the American portion of the Human Genome Project, is a bitter opponent of Venter's free-wheeling approach to biotechnology (the two men were forced to accept equal credit for completing the human-genome sequence on the White House lawn with Bill Clinton). "I find it very hard to believe that, starting from scratch, we can somehow come up with a better [biological] system—one that's going to have much success," he said in an interview with Nova. Leon Kass, former chairman of President George W. Bush's Council on Bioethics, thinks SynBio will fail at a more basic level. Scientists, he says, are "inherently incapable of understanding life as lived—not only by human beings, but by any living thing."


The idea that only God can create life is arguably even more fundamental to Judeo-Christian dogma than the 17th-century notion that Earth was at the center of the universe. Pope Benedict XVI has expressed outrage at scientists who "modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God." The pope elaborated in an address in 2006: "To take God's place, without being God, is insane arrogance, a risky and dangerous venture." Green activists echo this disdain. "Synthetic biology is like genetic engineering on steroids," warns Greenpeace representative Doreen Stabinsky.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Instapundit walks the Planck

Is consciousness a phenomenon that depends on things happening below the Planck length?

The Incredible Shrinking Disaster

Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?

Sure, we all remember the original reporting, if not the back-pedaling.

Here's another one: Do you remember the dramatic TV footage of National Guard helicopters landing at the Superdome as soon as Katrina passed, dropping off tens of thousands saved from certain death? The corpsmen running with stretchers, in an echo of M*A*S*H, carrying the survivors to ambulances and the medical center? About how the operation, which also included the Coast Guard, regular military units, and local first responders, continued for more than a week?

Me neither. Except that it did happen, and got at best an occasional, parenthetical mention in the national media. The National Guard had its headquarters for Katrina, not just a few peacekeeping troops, in what the media portrayed as the pit of Hell. Hell was one of the safest places to be in New Orleans, smelly as it was. The situation was always under control, not surprisingly because the people in control were always there.

From the Dome, the Louisiana Guard's main command ran at least 2,500 troops who rode out the storm inside the city, a dozen emergency shelters, 200-plus boats, dozens of high-water vehicles, 150 helicopters, and a triage and medical center that handled up to 5,000 patients (and delivered 7 babies). The Guard command headquarters also coordinated efforts of the police, firefighters and scores of volunteers after the storm knocked out local radio, as well as other regular military and other state Guard units.

And of course, some news outlets merely changed their archives to reflect what they wish they had reported at the time.

Let's try that again: The cavalry wasn't late. It didn't arrive on Thursday smoking a cigar and cussing. It was there all along.

The National Guard's response to Katrina was even more robust than I suspected in my reporting for RealClearPolitics in September, and in more detail for National Review, where I revealed for the first time that rescue operations saved up to 50,000 lives, with perhaps an equal number making their way to shelters on their own.

Fifty thousand New Orleans residents were in danger of death from drowning, heatstroke, dehydration and disease. That was a tough one to get through the media reality-distortion field, but the numbers have since been confirmed by Congress, the White House, Louisiana state officials and the relevant agencies themselves. If anything, I understated the size of the rescue effort. What I didn't understand was the critical role the Superdome headquarters played.

FEMA failed miserably. Yet the Coast Guard, a branch of the much-maligned Department of Homeland Security, operated precisely according to plan and saved up to 30,000 lives amid near total destruction. The National Guard Bureau helped run the show. The State Guard and regular military, which owes its extraordinary professionalism to the administration's insistence on training and equipage for service in Iraq, saved tens of thousands more.

That's the real story of Katrina. But the national media isn't about to acknowledge it unless the administration makes its own case, something that, so far at least, it hasn't begun to do.


My Changeable News Network post has been accepted as a nominee at the Watchers' Council.

Ed Koch on withdrawal

To those who believe that when America leaves Iraq, Islamic terrorists will be satisfied and stop fighting, I say this: Wake up. The hard truth is that if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will continue their attacks on Americans everywhere, including our homeland. And they will use Iraq as the new base of their terrorist regime.


It cannot be stated often enough that the goal of the Islamic terrorists is the destruction of Western civilization and the restoration of the caliphate. The caliphate would unite all Muslims in one theocratic state, running from and including Spain to Indonesia, encompassing nearly 1.4 billion Muslims.


Many Americans refuse to believe the Islamic terrorists are a threat to the free world and those who talk of the danger are thought of as war mongers. They simply refuse to take them at their word as many refused to take Hitler's warnings in Mein Kampf seriously. In the Times article of May 29th, written by Michael Powell, he quotes a woman in Atlanta asking candidate Giuliani, "Why does so much of the world hate us? Haven't we failed to understand Arab grievances? We misinterpret their word 'jihad' which is not necessarily a hostile word." Truly an Alice In Wonderland view.

A terrorist recently convicted in Great Britain was deported to Jamaica after trial. The Times reports in an article of May 26th by Alan Cowell, "Mr. Faisal had been convicted in February 2003 of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred...urging his followers to kill Hindus, Christians, Jews and American citizens...During Mr. Faisal's trial, prosecutors played a videotape showing him telling 150 young followers after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States that the Koran justified attacks on non-Muslims. He was also heard to promise teenage Muslim boys that their reward in paradise would be 72 virgins if they died as religious martyrs."

You can't make this stuff up. Will we and the rest of the Western world wake up in time so that we can survive the 30-year war that will take place after we leave Iraq? They want to kill us, and apparently, many Americans don't believe it.

One more thought. If we stay, we should tell the Iraqi people in each province that if a significant number of them support the insurgents and terrorists against our soldiers, or if a significant number of them do not step forward and assist us by providing information to protect us from the insurgents and terrorists, we will leave that province and not protect them from those who want to kill them in a religious civil war. Perhaps the recognition that U.S. soldiers will no longer be considered expendable may raise thoughts of cooperation, if only for their own self-protection.

Beyond the oil peak?

Orson Scott Card on the future of oil reserves.

People have been crying wolf about running out of oil for a long time. Back when I was in college, I was reading estimates that we'd be out of oil before the end of the 20th century.

After those predictions from my college days, vast new oil reserves were discovered -- Alaska's north slope, for instance, and the oil of the North Sea.

So it's tempting to think that because those dire predictions were wrong about when, we will never run out of oil at all.


Because oil comes from "ancient sunlight" stored in the carboniferous structures of long-dead plants (ironically, during a time when the earth was much warmer than it is today -- just one more proof that "global warming" is just another term for "good weather"), there is no more of it being made.

This may be true, although there are some who are claiming that a lot of petroleum is made through abiotic processes. I tend to doubt it, but I'm willing to let them make their case.
In the 2nd quarter 2006 issue of his newsletter Wealth Creation and Preservation, Charles W. Kraut pulled together quite a bit of information from various sources and reached the conclusion that we are past the oil peak and are on the downhill slope.
He spends some time ranting about how we're short-sightedly using up an irreplaceable reserve, and blaming our quest for status. The two biggest offenders: cars and houses.

For two installments of this column, I wrote about what it would require to make a serious dent in oil consumption. It would require government to stop forcing us to live car-centered lives, and then reverse their policies so that most new development would be car-free, or at least pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.


...I share the common love of open spaces. Meadows and trees are pleasing to the human eye. We like to see green life around us. We weren't trained to want this, unless you consider evolution to be training -- the landscape the human eye generally finds beautiful to live in is precisely the savannah landscape in which predators can be seen from a distance, yet water and food are plentiful.

What we have been trained into is the need to own that space individually. It is a fact of social history that whatever only wealthy people can have, other people adopt as symbols of status.

Of course, the alternative to ownership is that someone else owns and controls the space. It's one thing if the owners have a vision for the space that is compatible with yours. As long as the public park can be used for picnics and recreation, that's great. But what do we do in a neighborhood where you don't dare enter the park because it's gang territory? What do you do when the government has declared (perhaps under pressure of lawsuits) that the gangs have as much of a right to use the park as you do?

One of the things that has trained us into the "need" to own space is the failure of non ownership models.

As for the coming shortage of petroleum, let's stipulate that it will run out. Let's stipulate that we're past the peak, and it's all downhill from here. What will that mean?

Well, first of all, it's not like draining a glass through a straw. You won't see full flow suddenly turn to a gurgle as the last drops are drained. Instead, you'll see the price steadily rise as the cheaper sources are used up. The rising price will make more expensive oil profitable, and that will be tapped. In some cases, the expense will turn out to be due to a barrier to entry, and the cost of continuing to extract oil will be much less than the cost of starting. In this case, the price will drop.

However, sooner or later, the price of oil will rise past $100/barrel. Indeed, eventually it would rise past $200, $300, even $500. At some point, I guarantee, other sources of energy will become cost effective.

Nuclear energy is already competitive for land-based uses. The use of nuclear power for transportation depends on good, reliable battery technology, and there are some interesting approaches in the works. Some might even be able to power aircraft.

The point is, Card's solution -- government intervention to force people into a low energy-use lifestyle -- is not the way to go. The better solution is to allow the market to do its thing. After all, it is the profit motive that has produced the alternatives we have now, and it's the profit motive that has made all this oil available in the first place.

If the government is to do anything, it should phase out any and all subsidies on oil. To the extent that the "real cost" of oil is hidden by a subsidy, let's bring it into the open. If the price of gasoline rises high enough, people will naturally move in closer to their jobs. People will sell their big houses and buy smaller ones, simply because they won't be able to afford not to.

Higher gasoline prices will also push people toward alternative fuels, since they will be more competitive with the real price of gasoline. This will also help us conserve.

But government pressure just isn't the way to go, even if it's for a "good cause".

Surface computer

This looks cool!

The radical new approach starts with the guts of the device itself. Under the impact-resistant plastic top skin on an otherwise nondescript table hide five infrared scanners, a projector, and a wireless modem. The scanners recognize objects and shapes placed on the top and respond to them accordingly. For example, if the scanners recognize fingers, and the fingers have been placed in color circles that appear on the surface, the projector shows colored lines that follow the tracings and movements of your fingers. Meanwhile, an internal modem sends and receives signals from any electronic device placed on it. All of the hardware is run by a special version of Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows Vista.

To do things on Surface’s tabletop screen, you reach down, touch it and push it. To make the image you see on the screen bigger, spread your fingers. To make it smaller, squeeze your fingers together. To move something into the trash, push it into the trash with your hand. And it allows what Microsoft calls “Multi-Touch” and “Multi-User” interaction — namely, more than one person can interact with it at a time. Try that with your home computer.

One of the most revolutionary aspects of Surface, though, is its natural interaction with everyday objects and technologies. When you place your wi-fi enabled digital camera on the table, for example, Surface ‘sees’ the camera and does something extraordinary: It pulls your digital pictures and videos out onto the table for you to look at, move, edit or send. Images literally spill out in a pool of color.

The whole thing is remarkably intuitive, says Gates, because it’s remarkably similar to what people do in everyday life. “When you make it so that it's just visual — touch and visual — you're drawing on what humans are incredibly good at,” he said. “You know, what people have been practicing their entire lives. People will start to see that this world of information and entertainment is going to be far more accessible.

The first place you’ll probably see Microsoft Surface is at one of its four inaugural retail partners, including T-Mobile USA, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Harrah’s Entertainment. AT T-Mobile, for example, you will be able to place any of their phones on Surface. Surface will sense the presence of each individual phone and then project each phone’s features in front of you for you to consider. If you want to add a feature in the store, just “push” that feature “into” your phone with your finger.

Want to compare three phones? Four? Put them all on the table, and their respective features will line up next to one another, for your consideration.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

Eject! Eject! Eject! looks at the Prisoner's Dilemma as a model for societal behavior.

Duke Conservative Union is "Watching"

(Hat tip: Power Line Blog)

The Duke Conservative Union has taken out an ad, chastising the 88 professors who didn't want to deal with little things like a presumption of innocense.

These radical professors exploited a tragic time in Duke's history for the advancement of their own political and social agenda, as seen in the "Social Disaster" advertisement of April 6, 2006 and in other inflammatory and divisive statements throughout the legal process. Today's advertisement was written as a tongue-in-cheek parody of the original Gang of 88 "Social Disaster" ad (found here).

However, the message is decidedly serious. The Duke Conservative Union expressly calls upon these professors, and the departments that signed on to the "Social Disaster" ad, to apologize.

According to the ad, they're "listening".

I hope they're not holding their breaths.

Well out of commission

I see by the papers, one of the wells supplying water to Los Angeles has been shut down, on account of high levels of hexavalent chromium, or chromium VI. Other wells in the area are threatened, and will be shut down if the plume reaches them.

Los Angeles water officials have turned off a drinking water well near Burbank Airport, the first of what may be many wells to be idled as a costly result of a new spreading plume of underground chromium pollution.

You might also be interested in this, for reference, from the "hot topics" factsheet on chromium.

In the San Fernando Valley, 14 of 84 DWP wells contain detectable amounts of chromium. However, individual wells do not represent what customers actually receive since many well supplies are combined for use. The water served to LADWP customers is consistently below the detectable level of 5 parts per billion for total chromium. Nonetheless, LADWP is proactively researching treatment alternatives for chromium removal, and will be prepared to meet any new standard the State establishes.

About Filtration Systems

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is not recommending that its customers use filtration devices as related to the levels of chromium found in drinking water. The levels of chromium 6 in the water served to our customers is below 5 parts per billion (ppb), far below the existing drinking water standard in California which is 50 ppb for total chromium and the Federal standard which is 100 ppb for total chromium.

It is true that we have a few wells with total chromium values over 5 ppb, but their water is treated or blended, or the well removed from service to ensure that the chromium 6 in the water actually served to our customers, is always under 5 ppb.

Ultimately it is the customer's choice. There are a few products that can possibly further remove chromium 6 from your water. For the protection of our customers, we advise them to look for an NSF certification, specifically for chromium 6 removal, on the equipment, and require documentation from the manufacturer that proves that the equipment is certified for use in California by the State Dept. of Health Services as a water purification system.

There are always a few businesses that will try to capitalize on this issue without sharing the full story or misquoting facts to alarm or otherwise mislead the public. LADWP Customers are advised to get all the facts. For more information, visit the following official websites at:

California Department of Health Services

Cal/EPA, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Last Updated: April 6, 2001

And I will mention that if you're really worried about chromium VI in your water, you can always add a little vitamin C. This vitamin is an antioxidant, and will change the chemical state of the chromium to chromium III, which is a nutrient.

Goodbye, Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan has written her farewell letter to the peace movement.

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.

Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer. I hear George Bush will be moving out soon, too...which makes the property even more valuable.

This is my resignation letter as the "face" of the American anti-war movement. This is not my "Checkers" moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.

Good-bye America are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

As I mentioned here, I'm pretty sure this period of wallowing in anger has pretty thoroughly blocked her ability to move through the grieving process. Grieving for the loss of a child is probably one of the hardest things to do, and this won't have made it any easier. Perhaps now, she can move on to the next phases of grief, and achieve some peace for herself.

And the Anchoress has some comments on this, including:

Note: You’ll not be surprised to note that newspaper reports are carefully editing Sheehan’s goodbye letter to omit her criticisims of the left and the Democrats. The press is ever-vigilant to insure that no dross touches their favored ones.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Link whorage

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Moore on health care

Slate Magazine, in its support of Moore's claim that health care in the US ranks 37th in quality, points out the high infant mortality rate in US hospitals. The thing is, this high mortality rate is actually due to our successes.

Infant deaths in poor nations are roughly six times more common than in developed areas and result mainly from easily treated infections like diarrhea in the first few months. By contrast, the majority of deaths in developed countries result from extreme prematurity or birth defects that kill a newborn in the first few days or weeks of life. According to a 2002 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least a third of all infant mortality in the United States arises from complications of prematurity; other studies assert the figure is closer to half. Thus—at the risk of oversimplifying—infant mortality in the United States principally is a problem of premature birth, which today complicates just over one in 10 pregnancies.

Hear that? The problem isn’t that the babies which are being born are dying at a higher rate, it’s that we give birth to more premature babies, and therein lies the problem.

Questions for liberals on Iraq

Hat tip: Jason Van Steenwyck.

These questions are:

First, I'm wondering what you think the result of an American withdrawal would be? And we really have to ask that about two spheres, the internal Iraqi results, and the effect on America's security.

Do you reject the "you broke it, you bought it" idea? If you do, that's fine. I'm not a priori opposed to punitive expeditions myself when it appears necessary, but punitive expeditions have never been a liberal "thing".

Do you think the Iraqis will find a way to cobble their state together? Do you think it will descend into a civil bloodbath? If so, then why don't we have any responsibility to try and prevent it? Compare and contrast with Kosovo and Darfur. What if Iraq turns into a Taliban-like cesspool, and becomes a base for terrorist operation against the US in the same way Afghanistan was?

Do you think that the Iraqis can build a stable, functioning democratic state? If not, why? Are they just not suited for Democracy as a people? If so, what are their deficiencies?

The other half of the question is what effect will it have on American security? Will it embolden terrorists? Will our withdrawal make it more or less likely that terrorists will begin marshaling forces for another 9/11 style attack? Why?

On the Global War on Terror more generally, will a withdrawal from Iraq help or hinder that effort? Or do we need to make an effort at all, other than some Special Ops stuff here and there, and intelligence, prevention, and law enforcement operations otherwise? What would be the US's military role after a withdrawal from Iraq? Does the US military actually have much a role beyond repelling an invasion?

Are we doomed to fail at achieving anything worthwhile in Iraq? Why? Is it something organic to Iraq, or simply a problem with the current president? Would another administration be able to achieve some reasonable level of peace and stability?

Oh, yeah, and one final question: What if you're wrong?

I mean, you're advocating a policy change that will have wide-ranging effects. It's not enough to say that everything will be OK. You have to show your math. You have to explain why you're not just whistling past the graveyard.

Borjas on Immigration

George Borjas has a blog on immigration. Check it out.

Durham blog

(Hat tip: Instapundit) This blog has been covering the Duke University Lacrosse players case rather closely.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Flying While Jihadist?

Captain's Quarters has more on the story, and a link.

In the summer of 2004, I noted the story of a musical band traveling on one-way tickets between Detroit and Los Angeles. Anne Jacobsen revealed the terror she felt on that flight in a Women's Wall Street column, eventually turning her recollections into a book. At the time, she was derided as a panic-stricken hysteric. Now, the Washington Times reports, the FBI thinks she may have been right about it being a terrorist dry run for another attack:

Thirteen Middle Eastern men were traveling together as a musical group, 12 carrying Syrian passports and one, a lawful permanent resident of the United States of Lebanese descent, purchased one-way tickets from Detroit to Los Angeles. Six of the men arrived at the gate together after boarding began, then split up and acted as if they were not acquainted.

According to air marshals, the men also appeared sweaty and nervous. An air marshal assigned to Flight 327 observed their behavior and characterized it as "unusual," but made no further reports at the time. During the flight, the men again acted suspiciously. Several of the men changed seats, congregated in the aisles, and arose when the fasten seat belt sign was turned on; one passenger moved quickly up the aisle toward the cockpit and, at the last moment, entered the first class lavatory. The passenger remained in the lavatory for about 20 minutes. Several of the men spent excessive time in the lavatories. Another man carried a large McDonald's restaurant bag into a lavatory and made a thumbs-up signal to another man upon returning to his seat.

Flight attendants notified the air marshals on board of the suspicious activities. In response, an air marshal directed a flight attendant to instruct the cockpit to radio ahead for law-enforcement officials to meet the flight upon arrival. After arriving, Flight 327 was met by federal and local law enforcement officials, who gathered all 13 suspicious passengers, interviewing two of them. An air marshal photocopied the passengers' passports and visas.

The names of the suspicious passengers were run through FBI databases, indicating the musical group's promoter had been involved in a similar incident in January 2004. No other derogatory information was received, and all 13 of the men were released.

Pagan websites Covenant of the Goddess, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church The New Wiccan Church (established 1973)

Good news in Iraq

(Hat tip: Carol Platt Liebau)
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces are making further impressive gains against terrorists. Don't expect Democrats to let that stop them from claiming that we're losing.

As part of the new surge strategy in Iraq, U.S. Marines and Iraqi army forces have arrested 250 terrorists in the large, once-unmanageable western province of Anbar, it was reported on Sunday. Operation Harris Ba'sil, or "Valiant Guardian," reached completion after eight weeks of disrupting enemy routes and shelters outside cities.

"We uncovered more than 250 caches, arrested over 250 suspected insurgents and discovered over 100 improvised explosive devices," Lt. Col. Michael Manning of Regimental Combat Team 2 reported.

"We clearly surprised them. The number of caches and detainees attest to that; but more importantly, we let the enemy know that they can't hide from us," he said.

Meanwhile, in southern Afghanistan on Sunday an ambush of U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces led to a 14-hour battle and airstrikes of seven enemy compounds that killed 25 terrorists, including a Taliban commander named Mullah Younus. Last week, the feared Taliban military mastermind and "butcher of Kandahar" Mullah Dadullah was confirmed killed.

Media war in Iraq

(Hat tip: Instapundit)
An aspect of the war on terrorism that gets too little attention, yet is as important as any other, is the media war. Whether they realize it, members of the mainstream media are participants in the war on terrorism, and nowhere is that more evident than in Iraq.

Blogger Bill Roggio, who has embedded as a journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the enemy’s documents reveal that much of their strategy revolves around manipulation of the media. An enemy unable to beat us on the battlefield is employing a strategy of attacks planned specifically for maximum media coverage and effect.

Roggio recently told the Christian Science Monitor that most mainstream media reporters “display a lack of knowledge of counterinsurgency and the role the media plays in an insurgency’s information campaign.” He says al Qaeda and insurgent groups frequently choose their targets to get specific media coverage they desire.


Gerd Schroeder, a major in the U.S. Army who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, sees a big problem with the lack of context in reporting from Iraq. In an article at The American Thinker, he explains how he came to that conclusion after studying the Brookings Institution Report, “IRAQ INDEX Tracking Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq.”

In the report, which he says is updated frequently and provides information from the U.S. military and other governmental agencies, he found some examples of how a lack of context can create a “misleading public impression.” One example was in the coverage of “ISF” figures.

“The Iraqi security forces (ISF) includes military, police, special police, Iraqi National Guard and border police. From early 2005 to mid-2006, the hot topic for marking progress in the war was how many ISF were being trained and employed. However, in mid-2006, this media reporting trend almost wholly dried up,” he said.

In an attempt to understand why, he examined information from the report: “In July-August 2006, the number of deployed ISF jumped from 269,600 up to 298,000. The previous months had experienced much smaller growth, but July/August 2006 experienced a 10.6 percent jump in ISF. The numbers jumped again in September by almost 10,000 to 307,800. October rose 4,000, and November rose almost 11,000.”

Schroeder concluded that when ISF figures became a good news story of progress, they received less media attention. He says there is “significant, unreported good news” in Iraq. He acknowledges there is plenty of bad news there, but that “the media has been doing a good job of reporting on those negative aspects.”

Schroeder makes the argument for more complete context in reporting saying, “Accurate, meaningful information that spans the full spectrum of subjects, including good news as well as bad, is critical to the American people getting a true picture of the war.”

Until the media start reporting the war in more complete context, it will be impossible for the public to accurately gauge the success or failure of “the surge” or any other aspect of the war in Iraq.

News of even significant progress in any region of Iraq can be silenced with one strategically placed bomb or beheading. Unfortunately, media manipulation is one aspect of the war the terrorists appear to have mastered.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Work on this blog

Since Blogger now supports tags for posts, and has for a few months, I've been going back in the archives and tagging older posts. Out of 1419 total posts, I've now tagged all but 500 of them, and work continues on those.

I tend to post material on this blog because I find it interesting, and because I want to find it later. My other political blog, over at Men's News Daily, I prefer to save for work that's had a bit more thought and effort put into it. Here, I'm more likely to cut and past large chunks of text, and there, I prefer to put stuff in my own words.

But tagging everything in this blog will make it a lot easier to find the years-old post I'm trying to recall. Maybe other people will find it useful, too.

So far, the labels I have are:

  • Gore (1)
  • gouging (4)
  • government (9)
  • Greenburg KS (1)
  • Guantanamo (9)
  • gun control (2)
  • Halliburton (1)
  • health (11)
  • health care (6)
  • history (7)
  • human rights (1)
  • humor (12)
  • ID (83)
  • immigration (1)
  • information (2)
  • intelligence (17)
  • IQ (2)
  • Iran (9)
  • Iraq (72)
  • Iraq war (111)
  • Israel (4)
  • jihadism (21)
  • Jimmy Carter (1)
  • judges (21)
  • Katrina (26)
  • Kelo (3)
  • Ken Lay (1)
  • Kerry (14)
  • Kitzmiller (2)
  • LA riots (1)
  • Lacrosse players (8)
  • law (5)
  • lawsuits (1)
  • left (23)
  • liberalism (2)
  • Libertarianism (2)
  • life extension (1)
  • London (1)
  • McCain (1)
  • me (19)
  • media (33)
  • media bias (34)
  • medicine (9)
  • Michael Jackson (1)
  • middle-east (31)
  • Miers (2)
  • military (6)
  • minimum wage (1)
  • national security (3)
  • neat stuff (5)
  • Nifong (5)
  • origins (1)
  • paganism (4)
  • paternalism (1)
  • Patriot Act (6)
  • pc (1)
  • people are strange (16)
  • perchlorate (2)
  • philosophy (11)
  • Plamegate (7)
  • police power (2)
  • politics (80)
  • polling (1)
  • privacy (14)
  • profiling (1)
  • property rights (6)
  • psychology (1)
  • quizzes (3)
  • race (9)
  • Rathergate (13)
  • ratings (1)
  • reference (2)
  • regulation (5)
  • religion (28)
  • right (5)
  • Roberts (3)
  • Rodney King (1)
  • Rove (2)
  • Saddam Hussein (4)
  • safety (2)
  • schadenfreude (1)
  • Sciavo (7)
  • science (137)
  • science fiction (3)
  • Second Amendment (1)
  • security (15)
  • self defense (1)
  • Sexes (5)
  • sexuality (6)
  • Sheehan (2)
  • social security (1)
  • society (12)
  • SOTU (2)
  • stem cells (3)
  • Sternberg (1)
  • Supreme Court (17)
  • surveillance (11)
  • swift boat (2)
  • taxes (2)
  • Technology (40)
  • Tenet (2)
  • theories (1)
  • THM (1)
  • TK watch (1)
  • tobacco (2)
  • torture (13)
  • transcripts (2)
  • tsunami (1)
  • U.N. (1)
  • unintended consequences (1)
  • values (1)
  • verse (2)
  • victimhood (1)
  • vietnam (1)
  • war on terror (96)
  • water (24)
  • Watergate (1)
  • Wicca (5)
  • WMD (12)
  • writing (2)
  • zero tolerance (7)
  • Now, to figure out how to get this block to show up on my blog template. Off to the help files, I suppose...

    Saddam and Al Qaeda

    From Captain's Quarters:
    The release of Phase II of the review of pre-war intel has generated some odd comments from war critics. The same people who have told us over and over again that al-Qaeda and other radical Islamists would never have worked with a supposed secularist like Saddam Hussein now say "I told you so" when the pre-war intel warned of post-invasion connections between AQ and the Ba'athists: ....

    Jay Rockefeller wants to use the report to show what a folly it was to invade Iraq, but part of the reason we invaded Iraq was precisely to avoid Saddam and his henchmen from partnering with al-Qaeda. These same intel agencies produced this prediction because they also had intelligence that Saddam and AQ had already established contacts with each other. With the Taliban a dead letter, the next obvious choice in the region for AQ was Iraq, which already had a bitter military dispute with the US going for 12 years.

    Since Saddam had never complied with the cease-fire and the UN resolutions on many issues, and in fact continued to fire on no-fly patrols, a state of war already existed. With that in mind and with the intel that AQ and Ba'athists would be likely allies in the near future, the US acted to secure its flank in the Middle East by eliminating the source of the 12-year war that had been ongoing. And as it turned out, it was a good thing we did -- because we found out that our allies at the UN had been undermining the "box" that supposedly held Saddam for years, stuffing billions of dollars into his pockets and military hardware in his presidential palaces.

    The CIA predicted this alliance before the invasion. That should put paid to the idea that no one but George Bush and Dick Cheney thought that al-Qaeda would work with secular dictators like Saddam Hussein and other Ba'athists.

    Myths about Bush

    The Anchoress looks at a list of "reasons to impeach Bush".

    I’ve seen similar lists throughout the web - the collective is circulating it in order to really drill home to everyone who may not yet be fully convinced that George W. Bush is the worst, most evil man ever born from woman (if that is what Barbara Bush may be called) and also the stupidest evil super genius imaginable.

    I read a transcript of the execrable morning program The View in which Joy Behar, a Gore-adoree of the first water, reads from one of these lists:

    ...Let me get through the list. He withdrew us from the Kyoto Treaty, John Ashcroft. Sat in the classroom after learning about 9/11…He lied to us to get us into the war. He awarded a no-bid contract to Halliburton, Abu Ghraib. He promoted his friend Michael Brown to take care of Katrina. Heck of a job, Brownie. Remember that? He doesn’t listen to the Iraq Study Group. He choked on a pretzel…He waited a week to visit New Orleans and then only to watch some jazz. He stood by Alberto Gonzales…and he stood by Rumsfeld, who some people think is a war criminal. He can’t pronounce the word “nuclear.” These are just some of the reasons…this guy needs to be thrown out of office.

    The list she looks at includes:

    1) Bush Stole the Election!

    2) Bush Lied Us Into War!

    3) Bush Wanted to Privatize Social Security!

    4) Bush Killed the Surplus with Tax Cuts!

    5) Bush Killed the Kyoto Treaty!

    6) Bush sat in the classroom after learning about 9/11!

    7) Bush awarded a no-bid contract to Halliburton!

    8) Bush promoted his friend Michael Brown to take care of Katrina! Heck of a job, Brownie. Remember that?

    9) Bush ignored the Iraq Study Group!

    10) Bush choked on a pretzel! He can’t say nuclear the way we want him to! He talks like a Texan! We hate him!

    Follow the link to see what she does with them.

    Will Gore debate a 15-year-old?

    Apparently, a 15-year-old girl has spent four months writing a paper which goes over Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth practically scene by scene.
    Aside from the scientific information Byrnes lays out, she takes “An Inconvenient Truth” apart, almost scene-by-scene, concurring with what she believes Gore got right, and convincingly taking a baseball bat to what she thinks he gets wrong.
    She has sent a copy of the paper to Gore, inviting comment. Don't hold your breath. And further, Anchoress' belief is that:
    Somehow I doubt that Gore-adoree Girls like Katie Couric or Joy Behar or Oprah Winfrey would deign to interview this student or feature her impressive work, which includes many graphs and some experimentaqtion, or that Matt Lauer or Larry King will be seeking out her dissent, and that’s a shame, but you should check it out and encourage others to do so, as well.

    Friday, May 25, 2007

    Double standards on torture

    (Hat tip: Don Surber.)

    MAY 24--In a recent raid on an al-Qaeda safe house in Iraq, U.S. military officials recovered an assortment of crude drawings depicting torture methods like "blowtorch to the skin" and "eye removal." Along with the images, which you'll find on the following pages, soldiers seized various torture implements, like meat cleavers, whips, and wire cutters. Photos of those items can be seen here.

    The images, which were just declassified by the Department of Defense, also include a picture of a ramshackle Baghdad safe house described as an "al-Qaeda torture chamber." It was there, during an April 24 raid, that soldiers found a man suspended from the ceiling by a chain. According to the military, he had been abducted from his job and was being beaten daily by his captors. In a raid earlier this week, Coalition Forces freed five Iraqis who were found in a padlocked room in Karmah. The group, which included a boy, were reportedly beaten with chains, cables, and hoses. Photos showing injuries sustained by those captives can be found here. (12 pages)


    What was Amnesty International’s reaction? cricket chirp

    Yet Amesty International just 3 days ago called for the US to close Guantanamo Bay.

    Where did USA Today play the torture book story?

    Not on Page One.

    Where did the New York Times play it?

    Not on Page One.

    Where did the Washington Post play it?

    Not on Page One.

    And yet such false stories as the “flushed Koran” got widespread play in the newspapers and on television.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    John Ashcroft and the War on Terror

    Orin Kerr has some comments, bouncing off an article in the Washington Post.

    I've long thought that Ashcroft was a misunderstood figure. One interesting example is the drubbing Ashcroft received for the following statement from December 2001, responding to critics of the Patriot Act:

    [T]o those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve[.]

    The media was completely clueless about what Ashcroft meant by this, and most people simply assumed that he meant that making civil libertarian objections to Bush Administration practices helped terrorists. I always thought Ashcroft meant something dramatically different. When Ashcroft made those remarks, in December 2001, he knew something that most people didn't: many criticisms of the Patriot Act had been surprisingly dishonest. It was embarrassingly common for critics of the legislation to make bogus claims about what the Patriot Act did. (Why that happened is a really interesting question; I haven't seen anything like it before or since.)

    Ashcroft must have been deeply annoyed by this, because it was creating a false impression both within the U.S. and abroad that the government had responded to 9/11 by imposing a police state. So Ashcroft criticized those who were trying to scare people with bogus claims of lost rights -- that is, illusions of lost liberty, or, to coin a phrase, "phantoms of lost liberty." But the press and the public didn't understand what Ashcroft meant, so his language was completely misunderstood.

    Law in fantasy literature

    Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, the question of law in fantasy worlds has come up.

    Numerous lawprof bloggers, including Steve Bainbridge, Christine Corcos, David Hoffman, and our own Senior Conspirator are commenting on the portrayal of law in fantasy literature - or rather the seeming lack thereof.

    I don't agree with those (Hoffman and Bainbridge) who argue that fantasy literature mostly ignores legal issues. Litigation is indeed absent in most fantasy works. But the absence of litigation is not the same thing as the absence of law. To the contrary, many famous fantasy works do use legal disputes as a central theme. The dysfunctional nature of the legal and political system of the Wizarding world is a central theme and plot device in the Harry Potter books - the most popular contemporary fantasy series. The Harry Potter books even include several trials. Rowling's negative portrayal of the wizard legal system is, of course, also a way to criticize some aspects of our own Muggle law.

    Rare plants

    Note to self: Check out the following suppliers.

    "At Random"

    Another of my postings, in response to Linda:

    I have no problem that things can adapt to their enviroment. But to me logic tells me something of intelligence created it to begin with. It just not not make sense that all we see just came about by some glitch or random accident and for no reason or purpose as nothing exists unless it serves some purpose for itself to exist.

    Linda, I believe that phrases like "came about by some random accident" or "came about by itself" are red herrings. They are designed (!) to lead people astray -- to get them wasting time on randomness and meaning.

    Science doesn't claim things happen "by themselves" or "at random", with the exception of certain quantum mechanical phenomena.

    Instead, science is all about law and order.

    Science starts from the assumption that things happen according to rules, and these rules can be discovered. These rules are things like Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, the law of supply and demand, Maxwell's field equations, the laws of chemistry, and so on.

    Science assumes that there are either no exceptions to this rule, or the number of exeptions is so small that they can be ignored.

    It would therefore follow that, under this guiding assumption of science, everything, including the origin of life and its subsequent development, also happened in accord with rules that are either known, or can be discovered. These rules include the laws of chemistry, the laws of genetics, and many others besides.

    Now, these laws may have been written by a law giver, or they may have simply existed for all time with no input from any creator. I don't think this can be determined in any scientific way, and for the purpose of doing science, it really doesn't matter.

    One of the things believers find offensive about Creationism (and, for that matter, Intelligent Design / Intelligent Origin Theory) is that it abandons this belief in rules, law, and order. The universe becomes a house of chaos, ruled by imperial whim which can be set aside without warning.

    That Creationism or ID/IOT can look at an orderly universe and see chaos and whim is terribly annoying to people who are trying to do real science.

    ID and science

    One of my postings from the Debunk Creation newsgroup. In response to Clem:

    It is my opinion that Demski considers the paper by the two Finns, one of whom is a (biochemist) creationist, which reviews directed evolution in the drug company labs, to be a review of laboratory demonstrations of what Michael calls theistic evolution. If man can direct evolution in the lab, then clearly God could do so in nature. That is what requires debunking.


    OK, this is something that can be handled scientifically.

    Now, one of the things I mention about science is that it involves a very unnatural thinking process. It's almost literally backwards and upside-down from normal thinking. Thus, the question isn't "Did (or does) God guide evolution". The question becomes, "Do we need to postulate the intervention of a God to explain evolution?" So far, the answer has been "no".

    As I mentioned a while back, science (and scientists) assume an orderly universe, one governed by rules (laws, principles, etc.) which are known, or which can, at least in principle, be discovered. Direct intervention by a God assumes the universe is disordered. At the very least, it means the laws and rules we think exist can stop working at any time for no good reason.

    Now, it's possible that all these rules were set up by a God, but it's also possible that the rules have always existed, and God is, at best, irrelevant.

    For the discussion of this topic to be scientific, we need to be able to make predictions about what we'd observe, or what we'd fail to observe, if either case were true.

    Bob Kerry on Iraq

    (Hat tip: Betsy Newmark) Bob Kerry wrote a piece, apparently prompted by an applause line uttered at a commencement address by Shirin Ebadi, Iranian lawyer, human-rights activist and Nobel laureate. She stated that "Democracy cannot be imposed with military force".
    What troubled me about this statement--a commonly heard criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq--is that those who say such things seem to forget the good U.S. arms have done in imposing democracy on countries like Japan and Germany, or Bosnia more recently.
    He goes on to restate the case for the war in Iraq. Read the article for that. But after doing so, he takes to task those critics of the war who are Democrats, but whose criticisms oppose actions the Democratic Party has traditionally stood for.

    The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.

    Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

    Indeed. So much for "pay any price, bear any burden, etc".

    American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

    With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

    The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."

    This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.

    Life on the fringe

    (Hat tip: Betsy Newmark) Jeff Jacoby has some observations about fringe elements in both parties.
    IF NOTHING else, Texas Congressman Ron Paul's presidential candidacy makes it clear that the Republican Party is not a monolith. It has its ideological outliers, and they march to the beat of a very different drummer than George Bush and most GOP candidates do. .... Paul helps illustrate what may be the most significant difference between the two major parties today: Republicans who don't take the threat of radical Islam seriously are marginalized. Democrats who don't do so constitute their party's mainstream. .... What explains the Democrats' unwillingness to acknowledge the gravity of the global jihad? In part, it may stem from the sense that Islamists and the left share common foes.... ...But to a large extent, the Democrats' lack of seriousness about the war we are in can only be explained by Bush Derangement Syndrome. ....

    What if not derangement can explain such fever-swamp nuttiness as the findings of a new Rasmussen poll, which asked whether Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance? Among Democrats, 35 percent believe he did know and another 26 percent weren't sure. Only 39 percent said he didn't. In other words, nearly two out of three Democrats are unwilling to say that Bush wasn't tipped off to 9/11 in advance.

    In another poll recently, respondents were asked whether they personally wanted Bush's new security strategy in Iraq to succeed -- not whether they expected it to, but whether they wanted it to. Among Democrats, a stunning 49 percent either hoped that the US plan would fail or couldn't make up their minds.

    After this article, Betsy asks:

    What if a Democrat gets elected in 2008 and on January 20, after being sworn in, is given the daily press briefings that show how many attempts are being made all the time around the world to kill Americans or our allies? Then will these Democrats start believing that we're in a global fight. And, if they do, what will they plan to do differently to protect Americans from jihadis emboldened by their propaganda successes in Iraq? And how will the new administration protect a fragile democracy like Iraq from descending into a Sudan-like state of genocide and alliances with the very terrorists who are working to destroy all hope of a peaceful Middle East?
    And if they wind up doing anywhere near the same kind of things Bush is doing, will the nutcase base revolt?

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Our worst ex-president

    Commentary Magazine has an article about James Earl Carter.

    Another global warming skeptic

    (Hat tip: John Ray)

    Climate change will be considered a joke in five years time, meteorologist Augie Auer told the annual meeting of Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in Ashburton this week.

    Man's contribution to the greenhouse gases was so small we couldn't change the climate if we tried, he maintained.

    "We're all going to survive this. It's all going to be a joke in five years," he said.

    A combination of misinterpreted and misguided science, media hype, and political spin had created the current hysteria and it was time to put a stop to it.

    Who is Augie Auer? Well...

    Professor Augie Auer spent 22 years at the University of Wyoming as Professor of Atmospheric Science before he took sabbatical to work with the former New Zealand Meteorological Service in 1984 & 1985. Emigrating to New Zealand in 1990, Augie became Chief Meteorologist for the MetService until 1998, he was responsible for the improvement and updating of the technical competence of the MetService weather forecasting staff. His frequent liaison between the media and the MetService during major weather events, and his accurate interpretations, endeared him to the nation. Because of media presence, in 1998 he became TV3’s weekday Weather Presenter. In February 2002 he moved into a new role as the network’s resident meteorologist. .
    And while I'm at it, a rebuttal to his opinion piece is here.

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Cool car!

    Instapundit links to a Business Week article about a new car, that runs on compressed air.
    Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India's largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. . . .

    Most importantly, it is incredibly cost-efficient to run – according to the designers, it costs less than one Euro per 100Km (about a tenth that of a petrol car). Its mileage is about double that of the most advanced electric car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of driving), a factor which makes a perfect choice in cities where the 80% of motorists drive at less than 60Km. The car has a top speed of 68 mph.

    Refilling the car will, once the market develops, take place at adapted petrol stations to administer compressed air. In two or three minutes, and at a cost of approximately 1.5 Euros, the car will be ready to go another 200-300 kilometres.

    As a viable alternative, the car carries a small compressor which can be connected to the mains (220V or 380V) and refill the tank in 3-4 hours.

    Due to the absence of combustion and, consequently, of residues, changing the oil (1 litre of vegetable oil) is necessary only every 50,000 Km.

    The temperature of the clean air expelled by the exhaust pipe is between 0 - 15 degrees below zero, which makes it suitable for use by the internal air conditioning system with no need for gases or loss of power.

    Nice, if they can make it work.

    A big advantage to this sort of car is that any energy source can be used to compress air -- coal-fired plants, nuclear plants, solar power, power from solar power satellites, windmills, and so on. When fusion plants are developed, they can power air compressors. You could even have a solar panel mounted on the roof of the car, and if you're stranded in the middle of nowhere, you can use that to pressurize your tank enough to get to a refilling station in a day or two.