Category Archives: Uncategorized

You have something to hide

Everyone has something to hide. What the “nothing to hide” apologists think is that they’ll come up clean in those particular searches, refusing to grasp the wider implications.

An op-ed from Wired that is particularly relevant.

The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.

Good.

The ACLU is suing the NSA over the phone tapping thing.

post-11150-Grumpy-Cat-GOOD-and-NO-memes-pGrc

 

Next they’ll be telling us water is wet

Patriot Act: bad idea 12 years ago, bad idea today. I’m really surprised that anyone is surprised by this. Here’s a tip, when Rs and Ds are happy act together, you know it’s for the power and not the public’s good.

Summer Reading List

I don’t have anything really special planned, but this is stuff that’s been backing up in my various wishlists.

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) – James S.A. Corey. And if it’s good the next one: Caliban’s War (The Expanse)

The Oxford History of Islam

Tschai – Jack Vance. His recent death prompted me to look into his writing. This series looks most interesting.

The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War

Burdens of the Dead (Heirs of Alexandria) — Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer. It’s been a fun series so far…

And just in case: Summer Knight (Dresden Files, Book 4) – Jim Butcher.

And whatever else I come across that strikes my fancy.

Something to look forward to

Private investors are going to try to put a webcam on the moon. In 2015. Why NASA hasn’t done this is beyond me.  Geez, we deliver a work-ready robot to Mars these days, a telescope shouldn’t be too big a challenge. What is NASA doing these days?

Al Qaeda just like any organziation

Full of bureaucratic infighting.

Who’s awesome?

Newegg’s awesome. I will purchase my hard drive from them when I get around to getting it.

Privacy, smivacy

If only Congress were this worried about privacy when it comes to the police and/or federal agencies.

Shocking

Apple has to explain to Congress that companies want to keep their money and will do whatever they can to do that. I say, if it’s legal, then go for it.

“The tax system is broken; it’s not competitive,” Mehlman said, noting that Apple faces far greater taxes than its tech competitors, like Korea-based Samsung. “The policymakers made the code, and it’s not nearly as flat, simple and logical as it should be, so companies across all sectors do what they can to minimize [their] tax burden and maximize research and product development. Tech is no different.”

 

Go America

Girl arrested for felony science [danger: autoplay video] that should have warranted a week of detention and probably a long, boring safety lecture will not be formally charged. At least now she knows better than to experiment with chemical reactions on school grounds.

Because giraffes

Thanks for all the fish

Commander Hadfield is the best thing that’s happened to space since the moon landing. I only hope someone will step up with the updates and stuff.

His son also deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Twitter and G+  (and tumbr?) feeds going.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia

Before we go changing regimes in Syria….

Losing a war is much easier than winning one. Before the United States enters Syria, it should ask itself a series of questions. Can it take out the regime of Bashar al Assad easily? Answer—most likely yes, in the manner that the “lead from behind” air war decapitated Muammar Gadhafi’s rule. Is the aim of an American-led intervention to foster a postwar consensual government? If so, postbellum Libya reminds us that without Americans on the ground, Arab idealists usually go the way of the Mensheviks in Russia or of Abulhassan Banisadr’s secular socialists in Iran. In addition, Iraq warns us that putting U.S. ground forces into an Arab Middle East country could ensure some sort of constitutional succession—but most likely at material and moral costs that very quickly would be too high even for the present supporters who are calling for a “humane” intervention Syria.

If history is any guide, if we cannot articulate the purpose of entering Syria, the sort of government that we wish to follow the Assad regime, and how much blood and treasure we are willing to spend to obtain that end, then we may well lose the war before it starts.

Do eet!

McCain introduces a bill that would force ala carte programing for cable companies. Which will probably reduce the number of cable channels available. It’s nothing but wins.

Unintended Consequences

Apparently, gas cans don’t work right anymore, for safety reasons.

Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice.

A quick google has taught me that the key to home gasoline storage safety is don’t cheap out and don’t be stupid.

It’s the American way

Hospitals charge whatever they feel they can get away with. Also notice the amount actually paid.

The chargemaster can be confusing because it’s highly variable and generally not what a consumer would pay,” said Carol Steinberg, vice president at the American Hospital Association. “Even an uninsured person isn’t always paying the chargemaster rate.”

I don’t mind the variable rates which, despite the protests in the article, sure seem to be based on the income of the people using the facilities. What I mind is the black box approach. This is the price we say it will cost, this is the price we bill insurance, this is the price we say you have to pay and while there may be some relationship between all the numbers, it sure isn’t obvious.

The problem with coattails

China, not doing as awesome as everyone thought.

Yes, the US faces a debt hangover, but so does China after the state banks let rip with private loans keep the boom going through the downturn. Fitch Ratings has just downgraded China’s debt, warning that credit has jumped from 125pc to 200pc of GDP over the last four years, with mounting reliance on shadow banking that lets banks circumvent loan-to-deposit curbs. This is why George Soros has been warning that there could be a “run” on China’s state banking system akin to the Lehman bust.

Total credit has jumped from $9 trillion to $23 trillion in four years, an increase equal to the entire US banking system.

America has moved in the opposite direction. Its banks now have loan-to-deposit ratio of around 0.7, and the biggest safety buffers in three decades. The Congressional Budget Office says US Treasury debt held by the public has jumped from 40pc to 73pc.

While I wonder if America has the wherewithal to actually pay down our debt, at least we are (fairly) transparent about it.  Recognizing the problem is the first step, right? China has to liberalize or die. It will be interesting to see which they choose. And if America does collapse, China will provide us with a nice cushiony buffer, like we did for Europe after WWII

Move along, citizen

Have you been to Africa lately?

The US is leasing time on Chinese satellites to carry data in Africa. This doesn’t surprise me. China is in the process of buying up the continent, well, its resources anyway. I suspect that’s where client-state wars will take place in the coming decades. It will be interesting to watch Islamic and communist states go at it. *I’m dictatorial and you’re dictatorial, can’t we all get along?*

No more papers necessary

CIPSA is bad.

Heck no

Congress wants out of Obamacare, because it’s going to drive up their costs. You made your cake, lie in it.

“I have no problems with Congress being under the same guidelines,” Burr said. “I think if this is going to be a disaster — which I think it’s going to be — we ought to enjoy it together with our constituents.”

Up with people

We don’t need more government.

Finally, government surveillance at every corner reflects the un-American idea that we ought to leave civil order to the police. At times Americans have abdicated our responsibilities as citizens. But in crises we rise up.

When terrorist attacks in the U.S. have actually been deterred, it’s been because of citizens acting. The shoe bomber was beaten by other passengers. The Times Square bomber was noticed by a vendor. And Flight 93 was brought down by hero passengers.

To stay safe we don’t need fewer civil liberties. We need more civil society.

It’s all about who you know

And again, the essential point is missed.

“When Ruthie got sick, there were things that her family could not do — they couldn’t get the kids to school without help, they couldn’t get meals on the table without help, they couldn’t pay the bill without help. It really took a village to care for my sick sister. The idea that we are self-reliant is a core American myth.”

When news spread of Ruthie’s cancer, some friends planned an aid concert to raise money for her medical bills. Hundreds of people came together, raising $43,000 for their friend. “This is how it’s supposed to be,” someone told Dreher that night. “This is what folks are supposed to do for each other.”

Who took care of her and her family? The community around her.  I see this happen regularly on the internet and IRL. It’s the people around you that matter.

75 years of confusion

 

2013: Psychohistory begins

Hari Seldon would be pleased. I’m a little disappointed they call it “cliodynamics”.

Disturbing

It may not be in the government’s interest that I save for retirement, but it is in my interests and I will do what I have to to protect it.  Sorry you can’t keep your budget under control, that doesn’t mean you should gut mine. And when it comes to retirement, $100,000 is not a lot of money. Anything under $1,00,000 is really not enough.

Let’s get it over with

Since the sabers are rattling again (it’s spring, after all. The time when kings go to war, or as close to war as they dare with the threat of utter annihilation hanging over them.)

This article was interesting, but I have no idea who these people are, so, grain of salt.

From here to Mars

You think it’s a long way down the road to the chemists, but that’s just peanuts to space.

But I have a plan

If I won the lottery… But I have a plan. A well-refined plan at a variety of award levels. If only I actually bought tickets…

No, it’s true

We really are that dumb on the whole. I think it’s one of democracy’s built-in defense mechanisms. Problematic in a crisis, but constant pulling in many directions keeps from going too far in any one direction. We dither around for a while and then we have the rise of the Great Man, who because he happens to get it right at the right time and leads with a clear voice in the midst of a crisis, looks good. And then we toss them. It’s worked for a few hundred years. But, like the Greeks and Romans, sooner or later, we’ll tear ourselves apart.

Whatever it takes

If freaking out about asteroids is what it takes to get the space program moving again, hey, go for it.

Shine on, you crazy diamond

Reportedly incandescent-like LED bulbs will be available for sale soon. And for what passes as a reasonable price. I’ll give them a shot when I get around to buying bulbs again.

What’s 10 years?

It took 10 years, but the TSA is finally starting to be reasonable about carry on items. I look forward to more of this sort of progress.

This is funny

Reason has slashed, slashed! their subscription prices by in 2.3% in a sequester special.

Stopped clocks and all that

The White House says unlocking phones should not be illegal. They’re right.

Sweet

Use your fingers to move your mouse around. I wonder what playing a game with it would be like. I will however not be picking one up until it’s been out a little while. Also, we’re all going to be sitting at our desks waving our arms around randomly. Surely this won’t look stupid.

UPDATE: Alright, I really want to buy one now.

Here’s the problem

Sneaking into the country, even with drugs, is not a Hellfire-missiles-raining-down kind of offense. Also, I have very little faith in the government not spying on US citizens, given their current track record with ignoring the 4th amendment.

He’s right

I agree with John Kerry.

“In America you have a right to be stupid – if you want to be,” he said, prompting laughter. “And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.

“And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for,” he added. “The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.”

Science!

The solar system is fighting back!

Bad Astronomer summary.

Links to videos.

I love how people keep standing in front of / directly under windows when massive sonic booms are rattling them.  I feel everyone should grow up in earthquake country where the immediate response to emergencies is to fear that buildings will fall on you. It just seems like a safer assumption.

How come the Russians get all the good meteor strikes? And the metals that go with it. Other than it’s a massive country covering 1/4 of the earth.

Now I don’t have to rewatch the whole thing.

Fillion was so young. *sigh*

Good jerb

The government has managed to not spend every penny it took in last month, probably thanks in part to farm taxes and that social security thing expiration. Heaven forfend the government actually spend less.

Moar dakka!

No wonder there’s been ammo shortages. I suspect they’re trying to keep them out of our grubby little hands.

At least that worked out

America: not always required to stick our nose in. I like it.

I’ve been reading The Collapse of Complex Societies and the parallels between us and Rome, especially, and other collapsed societies is worrisome. Not that I necessarily agree with all his theories.

Why would you even try it?

When has price controls ever worked for any economy? Once inflation starts running away, nothing stops it. Price freezes never work as they are supposed to, they just create mad rushes and shortages.

So to summarize: first capital controls, then a currency crisis, then expectations of sovereign default, then a rise in military tensions, and finally – price controls, after which all out chaos usually follows.

 

Not this again

In Mali, bad things will happen if we don’t intervene and bad thing will likely happen if we do. The thing is, Europe needs to get its act together and do something effective instead of us having to save their bacon, again. You’ve had a fun 50 years of the US subsidizing your military so you can spend more on your social experimentation, now it’s time to man up and pay for your own defense. This may mean you have to reduce public pensions and assistance, which you can’t really afford anyway. Well, hard decisions are part of being a grown up country.* Time to make some.

*this also applies to the US.

Impressive

We haven’t even implemented Obamacare yet and they’re already setting about to decide the quality of care we deserve. Since nobody qualified, and in their right mind, would want the job, we’re going to get unqualified idiots making life and death decisions. So, on par for the government course.

How this won’t create a system of government mandated have and have-nots and resentment from those that can’t afford private care I don’t know.

Shut it down

It may be time for the DHS to die. Okay, it’s 10 years past time for it to die. Okay, it never should have been created in the first place.

Meet the Bronies

While not a brony, I do enjoy the occasional show and trolly MLP jpeg in a politics thread. Also, John de Lancie and Tara Strong with a dash of Gilbert and Sullivan, so what’s not to like.

Good job, Opportunity

Punctuation is so important. Opportunity has been exploring Mars for 10 years now.

/sniff

Nailed It

Mark Steyn lays out the future of conservatism.

We have all the talk-radio shows and cable networks we need, and the rest of the country is happy to leave us walled up in those redoubts. But culture trumps politics, and not just in the movies and pop songs, grade schools and mainline churches, but increasingly in the boardrooms, too. Instead of giving your hard-earned dollars to help drag some finger-in-the-windy squish with an R after his name over the finish line every other November, conservatives need to start fighting on the turf that matters. We risk winding up like the Shakers–dependent on conversion while eschewing all effective means thereof.

And finally please don’t waste another four years obsessing over whether Barack Obama is a secret Muslim Kenyan Commie or whatever. He may be all those things, but the lesson of November 6 is that a majority of the American people agree with him. He’s not the exotic other, he’s all too typical. That’s the problem.

Never get involved in a land war in Africa

Yes, there’s no way us providing logistical support for a French incursion into a third-world country could go wrong.

To be fair

They’re right.

This amuses me

Nothing has been better for the American gun manufacturing sector than Obama being president. His first election led to a run on ammunition that kept stores sold out for a year or more. His second term has lead to the sales of enough guns in a couple months to give everyone in the entire Chinese and Indian armies a gun.

A reality show I can get behind

How else would you select astronauts for a mission to Mars?

A list on the internet, it must be wrong

The results of the Locus online write-in* 20th-21st century greatest writings in SF and Fantasy poll. Which is almost entirely wrong. I think the earlier 20th century works suffered a little from short memories, or more accurately perhaps, some later 20th century works won’t rank quite as high in another decade or two.

There is no way that A Game of Thrones is the second best Fantasy novel in the 20th century. It’s barely the second best in its own series. Dune is not the best SF novel of the 20th century. I can see it being in the top five, but not number one. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was not that good, it should be down a few notches. I don’t know who Ted Chiang is, but apparently he writes a mean short form story.

*Having to write them in was surprisingly hard.

Your day is now 13% cooler

Good News, Everyone!

2012 was the best year ever. On the whole.

Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.

Welcome to America

Yes it is a religious exercise (arf) otherwise it’d be called “stretching” or “mobility work”.

Christians who want freedom of religion in schools for me but not for thee really annoy me. On the other hand, yogis and atheists who want freedom of religion for me but not for thee really annoy me too.

Interesting

Nate Silver dissects gun ownership in America statistically, and it’s just what you’d expect, for the most part. This surprised me:

Slightly more than 40 percent of voters who said they attended church weekly or more often reported having a gun in their home, about the same percentage as among those who attend religious services just a few times a month or a few times a year.And gun ownership rates are highest among the middle class, rather than the poor.

Image

Woohoo

2012TheHobbit01PR200912

Something to keep in mind

It’s mildly interesting to me that my daily reading plan has Job 21 as part of today’s reading. Job is railing against the injustice of the wicked prospering and asks why God isn’t doing anything about it (understandably, I feel). This goes on for quite a few more chapters. God doesn’t answer Job until chapter 38, where he explains where Job fits in the general scheme of things and when faced with the majesty of God Almighty, Job replies:

    Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 ESV)

Our views on things is limited and biased. We are scratching out our short existence on the surface of an insignificant planet in an insignificant galaxy. Our perspective is badly warped by human limitations in time, space and knowledge and are further hampered by a sinful nature. All our grand opinions on good and evil and what God should and shouldn’t allow to happen don’t matter much.

I can’t begin to comprehend what it’s like for those families and that town, and I would offer the insult of trying to. What I think about it doesn’t begin to matter. What does matter is God. He is. He is almighty.

Problem: no better options

On the one hand, as an American, I’m glad we’re retaining control over the internet. On the other hand, the way Homeland Security (because copyright infringement is totally part of their mandate, dangerous terroristic infringers) has been abusing that fact irritates me and makes me want to give it to someone else.

You keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine

Just do it

It’s refreshing to see America from an outside perspective once in a while.

Inconceivable

Warp drives may not be quite so impractical after all.

“I suddenly realized,” he told Dvorsky, “that if you made the thickness of the negative vacuum energy ring larger — like shifting from a belt shape to a donut shape — and oscillate the warp bubble, you can greatly reduce the energy required — perhaps making the idea plausible.” White believes that with his new design, warp drive could be achieved with the power of a mass that is even smaller than Voyager 1’s. I’m not going to pretend that I have the faintest clue how this would work or how NASA would conceivably build such a thing, but the idea that physicists at NASA are even toying with it gives me hope that interstellar travel could one day be possible, even if this isn’t how it is ultimately accomplished.

On the other hand….

Additionally, other scientists have raised concerns that warp drive could be potentially very dangerous, potentially destroying the destination in its path.

Minor details, I say.

Because, why not?

One day in Idaho some people got together and decided to parachute beavers into the mountains. This is that story government report.

Hey now

Scalzi manages our expectations. Painfully. He better be wrong.

Wow

AP reporter grills White House spokesman on whether we should anger Turkey or Israel. Either they only show us boring parts of press conferences usually, or this guy is unusually aggressive in his questioning.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Ron Paul’s farewell address to Congress. I’m not down with the gold standard, but the rest of it is dead on.

Entire video here.

It makes me sad

The US has massively more requests for Google user data than any other country. The Transparency Report is really cool in general.

Pointilism

How our country actually votes.

Interesting but unhelpful

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is getting grief for saying that Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. But there are no numbers, facts or even a link to her speech from her or her detractors, so someone should get on that. Someone besides me (that’s what reporters do, right?). My gut says we have sheer numbers on our side, there are a lot of Christians being persecuted by a lot of Muslims or dictatorial countries, but I don’t know about per capita.

No matter who wins

Jonah Goldberg points out how we all lose.

The mere fact that presidential elections matter this much is not a sign of national health but of national dysfunction. The more the federal government gets involved in every aspect of our lives — for good or ill — the more people will feel that their livelihoods, lifestyles, even their actual lives are at stake in a presidential election. If the federal government didn’t have so much leverage over your life, politicians wouldn’t be able to scare you into the voting booths.

Luckily they stayed behind

Europe favors Obama, which makes sense because he is very like them in his beliefs.

Watching British TV it seems that Obama is a reflexive choice. Even the most “conservative” of UKers scoff at the thought of Romney and the moronic Republican party that want him elected. Gun-toting, obese, homophobic, hillbillies all (it’s like all they know about Republicans is what they read in the news).  There can’t possibly be a rational, principled reason for wanting more freedom from government. Romney is hardly a flaming libertarian, at best he is a right-of-center moderate, yet his is presented as the Bush-iest (gold standard of American political idiocy) of redneck choices trying to drag America back into the bad old days (of high employment and an economy not swirling the drain but also not sensitive enough about government intervention for the poor and the environment).

I have to wonder if any of talking heads actually understand what Romney represents, other than the caricature they have created for themselves. They either don’t understand or don’t want freedom. Are they just so used to being coddled and watched by the government that it doesn’t occur to them that there is another choice or do they look at the alternatives and say “yes, I want the government to regulate nearly every aspect of my life and to tax me accordingly”?

This is bad news…for Romney

Dick Morris predicts a landslide for Romney.

 In 2005, Morris proclaimed that George W. Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina would help Bush to regain his standing with the public.16 On the eve of the 2008 elections, he predicted that Barack Obama would win Tennessee and Arkansas.17 In 2010, Morris predicted that the Republicans could easily win one hundred seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.18 In 2011, he said that Donald Trump would run for the Republican nomination—and had a “damn good” chance of winning it.19 (Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail-But Some Don’t, New York, Penguin Press HC, 2012)

Huh.

Boeing has built a missile that shuts down electronics leaving everything else alone. I believe this is called a mobile EMP generator.  I’m sure it’ll be handy when we fight China or Russia or Canada, but maybe not so much for the Taliban.

The horror…the horror….

Sad

Good news: the youngsters are a bunch of readers. Bad News: “reader” is defined by reading one book in a year.

Surely most people could step away from the TV, or even just turn it down a little, and push through one every month. There are books on every topic imaginable, it can’t be that hard to find one you want to read.

In memoriam

Baen book covers are… distinctive. You can pick them out across a bookstore. They frequently feature on Good Show Sir.

In honor of the late Jim Baen’s birthday, baenbooks is rerunning a tribute slideshow.

Stupid Italy

In one of those weird coincidences, I was just reading about this earthquake last night in the excellent book The Signal and the Noise (which I highly recommend, especially as we are faced with so many predictions and polls right at this time).

Anyway, Italy demanded something impossible of the scientists and then punishes them for not doing something inherently impossible. Where does this leave science? In butt covering mode, so seismologists will always predict a  major earthquake lurking, the citizens will grow bored with the scientists crying wolf because they don’t want to go to jail, and in the end it will kill more people.
UPDATE: Head of Italy’s Serious Risk Commission resigned, along with others and said they would not advise the state again.

Thank you

I’m glad someone is bringing this up, even if it is to sell his book.

It is not enough to reject Obama’s lies. It is essential to reject the premise of his lies. In our society, we get to say unkind things about icons, just as we get to speak vigorously in their defense. It is for us, the sovereign people, to weigh the merits of these competing claims without government’s meddling thumb on the scale. That is a big part of what makes Western civilization civilized.

Not cool, Britian

Not only  are you constantly watched on CCTV, no longer have the right to remain silent, not allowed to defend your own property (though I guess they are loosening that up a little maybe), but now the cops are watching you online for thought crimes.

I really appreciate, though, that the UK does these things ahead of us so that we can see how they turn out before everyone gets carried away and tries it here.

We’re all terrorists now

This is why taking civil liberties away from any group of people is a bad idea for America. Sooner or later, someone will try to apply it to an unintended victim and someone else will let them get away with it.

Robert S. Smith, an associate judge, asked whether that meant the members of the rival gangs were also terrorists.

“In the abstract, yes,” Mr. Coddington answered.

“So everyone is a terrorist,” Judge Smith said.

I feel my money has been invested wisely

Social Security in the red, again. I’m sure this won’t keep happening for the next 20 years.

But there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. As the Wall Street Journal explains:

Many Democrats on Capitol Hill argue that Social Security isn’t in dire shape, in part because the program holds assets in special-issue U.S. Treasury securities.

In other words, no need to sound the alarm. We’re in fine shape, because our government’s obligations are 100 percent backed by… government obligations.

I’m not going to see a penny of what the government has taken from me, am I? That’s not really a question.

I say you’re a two-bit, power-mad dictatorial twat

It’s sadly impressive how much politicians want to pin our rights on anything other than God-given inalienableness. I grant you, this is the UN, not exactly an organization filled with freedom-loving libertarians.  I understand it is in their best interests to be able to control the rights, but still, leave us alone.

Free speech is a “gift given to us by the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights,” said Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson during a press conference on October 2nd at UN headquarters in New York.  It is “a privilege,” Eliasson said, “that we have, which in my view involves also the need for respect, the need to avoid provocations.”

No, it’s not a privilege. It’s not a gift. It’s a right. Inalienable. Just for being born we all get to say what we want. We also get to suffer the consequences of our words. See how that works? Great. Thanks for your attention in this matter.

At least NASA is thinking big

NASA proposes to build a base on the far side of the moon. I’m sure it’ll be shot down in committee, but I like their moxie.

A GIS for “far side moon” turns up surprisingly few cartoons.

They’ll get over it

I was first introduced to the idea that Americans overvalue our Bill of Rights by Stephen Fry in a video on YouTube that I can’t locate currently. As most people are when faced with a new idea that interrupts their worldview laid down since childhood, I was completely baffled;  but he raised a good point. We value our rights over justice, over mercy and even over what is right. You know “better a hundred bad men go free than one not be read his Miranda rights” kind of thing. It was a mind-twist to realize that there might be some harm in the way we think as Americans or there might be a better way. Having given it some thought, though, I’m okay with it. Mostly because I have yet to see that better way. But I recognize now that this is an, apparently, uniquely American thought that the world does not understand. If even the British aren’t down with it, then we are truly on our own.

So this article, while interesting, is nothing new to me and even upon reflection, I’m okay with the thinking in the first paragraph and don’t care what the world thinks, they’re just going to have to get over it.

It is telling of their mindset the things they demand our government do. It shows how much control their governments have over their lives and what they willingly accept as legitimate areas of government interference.

Nice

The Navy is naming a class of research ships after Neil Armstrong.

I’d like to thank the academy

My favorite IgNobel prize this year: LITERATURE PRIZE: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
REFERENCE: “Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies,” US Government General Accountability Office report GAO-12-480R, May 10, 2012.

Awesome

Award winning photos of the universe from Britianland [warning: Owl City].

Link to where you can get the pictures for your desktop and the like.

Impressive in a horrible way

You made a film, others are using it as an excuse to riot. While that’s not illegal, we’re going to arrest you for something unrelated hoping that the convenient timing will calm the maddened crowds (Lileks link in there is good, too). And then the progressive left, formerly oh so concerned with free speech and all, applaud the move, because the 1st Amendment, all-important in the 90s when it was shutting up the Christians, not so much anymore.

Related: Cutting off funding to Pakistan or Egypt or Libya would be a terrible idea politically. Morally and emotionally it feels right, but I personally am hoping for a nuclear-free life.

Or maybe not.

I choose terrifying theater of war

You’ll get over it

Sarah Hoyt—whose first book I enjoyed the premise and first 3/4s of—wants us to buck up, little cowboys, and stop looking for someone to save us.

Do you hear yourselves? You’re Americans, not Europeans. You are the fruit of a nation constituted in liberty and based on the idea that the people can govern themselves. You should not wait for the king who sleeps beneath the hill….

Romney is a decent business manager. He’s a decent man. He likes America. He wants America to like him. He’s not going to actively dismantle our way of life, as will the one now in power. There will be no attacks on freedom of religion, no wild power grabs for the Internet, no executive orders that violate the laws of the land. He will not hanker for more “flexibility” so he can give more to Putin. And — this is petty but important for how the world sees us — he will neither apologize nor bow to foreign leaders.

Is he perfect? Oh, goodness, no. Is he exactly what we need? Probably not. Who is? Do you know the trouble we’ve got ourselves into by trusting presidents for this long? It’s a big hole. No one man can get us out of it. Only we can. And it will take time.

I didn’t say that

Not naming the capital of Israel is the diplomatic thing to do. Not the right thing, perhaps, but certainly diplomatic. It’s why we have the State Department; we can take the moral high ground while deploring their actions and they get stuff done.

Much like dealing with a gaggle of squirrely 3 year-olds we need to cajole both sides into doing stuff for us regularly. Don’t bomb that country. Stop fighting back there.  Yes, they got more stuff, life isn’t fair. Stop whining or we’ll give you something to whine about. Could you please stop mass murdering your citizens, etc. We really shouldn’t piss off either side if we ever want to get stuff done with either side, and not answering is the best way to do that.

McCoy nods knowingly

Scientists successfully sent quantum state information over 143km, which is like 2000 miles or something. This is a big deal.

“Research” finds

I grant you Airplane is a very funny movie. Probably one of the funniest movies ever made. But I am leery of quantifying “funny”. There are just too many variables to control for.

Obviously missing from the list:  Rocketman, Horsefeathers, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Blazing Saddles, and while I don’t personally appreciate as comedy genius, I am willing to hear arguments for Dumb & Dumber.

I’ll be at my computer

Mike Rowe’s open letter to Romney.

I particularly like the juxtaposition of Greek classics and sheep testicles.

It couldn’t get much worse

How to win libertarians and influence the election. The problem is, of course, there’s no way to tell if Romney will keep his promises, should he make them, until he’s elected and we see what he does. I think they might cut some spending. Not much, and rather ineffectually, but they’d do some little bit, which would exceed my exceedingly low expectations for politicians. I do not hold out any hope that the Republican party even knows what personal freedom is, much less want to expand it.

Happy Birthday video games!

Thanks for the good times. And wasted hours when I could have been solving all the world’s problems*. I was told there would be cake.

*would not have actually solved world’s problems, regardless of time spent on it.

Heck yeah!

So, Joss Whedon is starting up a S.H.E.I.L.D. TV show. I’m not a superhero genre fan, but I could see it being a good show. No more than 5 seasons though.

Even though ABC is no Fox, we should probably start a petition to save the show now.

Heck yeah!

Things sound bad in Europe

Unilever adopts its developing country sales techniques in Europe.

“But in some supermarkets in Europe, you think: half empty shelves, boxes on the floor, not a sales person in sight – how terrible is that?”

But it’s for the children

America is headed to hell in a hand-basket.

We’ve rehearsed the fiscal stuff in this space before: China becoming the world’s biggest economy, another American downgrade, total U.S. liabilities equivalent to about three times the entire planet’s GDP. A “non-partisan” Pew Research study says the American middle class faces its “worst decade in modern history” — and the first bump down starts on January 1: The equally “non-partisan” Congressional Budget Office now says that the tax and budget changes due to take effect at the beginning of 2013 will put the country back in recession and increase unemployment.

All we need is a nice cup of tea

DARPA looks to invent infinite improbability drive.

Wat.

I see your problem here. This is what happens when people unclear on the concept make up what they thing words mean. Like the difference between rights and privileges and what are innate and inalienable and what are granted by the government and what should be protected from government intrusion and what are by definition government intrusion.

For instance: God did not grant us the inalienable right to drive our cars on well-maintained roads or guarantee our food is safe. We are however born with the right to think and say what we want. Or to live in our houses free from unwarranted searches*. See the difference between the two? They are listed out for our convenience, should you care to check.

*there are, of course, some limitations on these for the good of society. Too many these days, but hey.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

Lets all smile and nod and say the DHS has done its job, 10 years, no major disasters.  Homeland secure. And now, lets get rid of it.

Again

The Other Side must not win, lest civilization fall. Just like last time.

Yes

This is one of those rare occasions when a question asked in the headline should not automatically be answered “no”.

Does society really want extremely private mobile devices if they make life easier for criminals? Apple’s newly toughened standards sharpen the focus on that question.

As ever, the police will just have to rely on criminals being stupid instead of invading all our privacy (privacies?) in the name of safety. Hardly a nightmare scenario.

It’s gotta be the shoes

Usain Bolt vs. every other olympic medalist. It’s impressive that the biggest gap between them is only ~3 seconds.

Yo-yos in space

Combining two awesome things: yo-yos and zero G. Added bonus: solid life advice for budding physicists and yo-yoists.

Color me unsurprised

Oh look, Keystone pipeline is still moving forward. The timing is incredible. Oh wait, it’s completely credible.

Uh oh

The Hobbit is officially 3 movies long now. Peter Jackson better not blow it.

Perhaps Anil Dash said it best: “Since when have diehard fans of a giant fantasy universe ever been disappointed by a bloated prequel trilogy?”

Ouch

Boston has a larger economy than GreeceCool chart comparing US cities and other countries economies from WSJ. They do make some interesting choices in what cities they group into metropolitan areas though.

I am so glad I live in America.

Not the least bit chilling

“We are now on the edge of a new horizon: using unmanned aerial systems within the homeland,” House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul (R.-Texas) said as he introduced the testimony.

I grant you, the FAA saying that they can fly doesn’t mean all 106 “government entities” will. But since when has a government entity every stepped away from expanding warrantless search powers?

ugh

Nothing but bad news, it seems, today, so here’s some that’s not getting major play. I am mostly concerned about food prices. Because that’s the one that will effect me the most immediately. Also, I’m convinced that the economy will rebound to the degree that European uncertainty will let it as soon as the election is over.

But if those lousy Midwest Congressional representatives use the drought as an excuse for more farmer welfare I’m going to be perturbed.

Beautiful

Now, Patrick, get back to writing The Door of Stone. Also, I need to reread The Name of the Wind.

RIP Donald Sobol

Author of Encyclopedia Brown.  Which my vague memories are getting confused with The Great Brain and The Three Investigators. If I remember right, I liked The Great Brain best.