Monday, December 28, 2009

Home and back again

We went to the USA for Christmas which was nice to see family
and bask in the deserts of home. (mmmm, chocolate). I had to come
back here for work which meant my flight was Birmingham>Houston>
Frankfurt>+2 more connections and 29 hours total. Today I feel like I was
shot at and missed, shit at and hit.

Apparently I traveled just ahead of the new search requirements and
the restrictions of going to the bathroom in the last hour of flight. That restriction
won't stand up to actual practice, we'll have situations like Frozone in the
Incredibles "You can shoot me, but I'm going to pee".

Apparently the guy setting off the bomb hid it on his leg and burned off his
junk. I don't see how improved searching is going to find these kind of bombs,
if someone is willing to burn their love tackle off to take down a plane no amount
of taking your shoes off is going to stop that without much more personal pat downs,
and even then you'll get the eternal question, "Is that an explosive in your pocket
or are you just happy to see me?"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sleepy luggage thief

We made it back to the usa for Christmas. I had to travel to Greece
and back earlier in the week, then we flew from bologna to germany to
Houston to New Orleans and I was pretty wiped out by the time we got
to MSY. Instead of dutifully checking my luggage tags, I picked up a bag
that looks just like ours but is around 10% smaller. We zombied around for
a day, my wife thinking that the strange bag belonged to my parents and our
bag was still in the car. I thought I had the right bag until I was asked to go
get our other bag. It several minutes of travel fogged arguing until we looked
inside and gave a mutual "doh!"

I called Continental and they said bring the bag to the airport and pickup ours
and the bag's owner would be waiting. I said that sounded bad, what if he's
some kind of hitman on a mission? The girl said 'don't worry, he'll be waiting
outside', which didn't really comfort me.

Luckily the bag's owner's went to lunch when I made the bag switch and there
were no sniper's bullets to take me out as I walked into baggage claim. It turned
out the bag's owner's had a wedding to go and were about to go out to buy new clothes.

All I can say in my defense is "doh!"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lileks needs help, send money guns and lawyers

Or just Money. James Lileks who is one of my favorite columnists
is running a pledge drive. If we don't send enough money he'll
give The Bleat the ax.

So send money to keep high quality bleatage going like this:

As I tweeted: Target was doing their photo-booth hiring from the Li’l Witch Employment Agency this year, it seemed. I asked her if she had a thumb drive I could use, and she said – literally – “Nah.”

Nice to hear that someone still says “Nah,” because I tend to use it in a novel from time to time.

I sent 30 simoleans, which I found out today are a chain of mountains in northern italy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A year of magical thinking

Stephen den beste is back on the intertubes with a column on hot air.

On hot air he's writing about Obama as a Teleological thinker, how he expects
magical thinking to work to transform the USA:

It explains his economic policy. Teleologists inherently don’t believe in unintended side effects when it comes to implementing their idealistic policies. Obviously it should be possible to provide free health care to everyone without wrecking the economy; it’s just how things really should be, so that’s how it will be. Where will the money come from? That’s the kind of question that materialists ask; teleologists don’t concern themselves with such trivial. It’ll happen somehow, because it’s obviously how it should turn out. To say we shouldn’t do it is to be heartless, uncaring — and those things are more important than mundane claims that it won’t work. If you just believe, it will work.
Jimmy Carter was similar and we see how that turned out. Jimmy Carter described
the congress as the ravening wolves, and we're seeing the wolves running free now
as they create 2000 page healthcare bills. Depending on the kindness of congress
or the kindness of governments that don't like us is a bad idea and likely to have
bad results in the non-magical world.

Den Beste was one of the four horsemen of the ablogalypse, and his USS clueless
blog was one of the first must reads for clarity of thought. Here's a blog on the
mean green meme that explained so well the way that different groups of people
think post 911. I'm glad he's back.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Liberation Day for Ravenna - Dec 4th, 1944

Today's the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Ravenna from
the German occupation.

It was liberated by a combined attack of partisan's and British,
but the partisan attack from behind meant it was not destroyed
by bombing.

The British were led by Popski's private army, a commando group
whose attack saved St. Apollinare in Classe from destruction. It was
thought that sniper fire was coming from the church's bell tower, but
Popski's group went forward under fire to find that there was no one
there, so it wasn't bombed to ruin.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Is it Christmas today?

I just woke up to see that the Saints crushed New England 38 - 17.
Sleeping through the game and seeing that they won is almost as good
as watching it live, all the suspense was between the time the computer
started until it showed the NoLa webpage, and with my new supergiant
dell 6400 that only took 3 seconds.

It makes me wonder what New Orleans would be like if the Saints had won
consistently all through the 70's, and won super bowl after super bowl like
Dallas. I think half of the city's confidence problem and letting events just
happen comes from the Saints snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over
so many years. Or maybe that just me and I'm projecting.

Anyway. Who Dat!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Buy them out

One interesting aspect of the CRU scandal is that the scientists are
constantly unwilling to give up their "code" because that is the real work
that they have done over tens of years. Unfortunately for them and for
the world, their code looks like crap, it looks like my Fortran code from a
machine design class, where I struggled with it until the last possible minute
and my code was producing a cam with a diameter of 1E22 meters. Basically
a cam that would drive the Universe. I finally had to print it out, white out the
extra digits and photocopy it to keep from getting a zero.

These guys have written the same kind of code, full of goto's, and they deserve
to be eaten by velociraptors.

All the crappy code should be over with by now. We're talking about adding
taxes to destroy the economy in order to reduce carbon output. Amateur coding
hour should be over and they should hire Apple or someone to write whatever
beautiful code they need and put the code on gold plated iPhones.

If we have to buy out all these guys and their scientific careers by giving them
professorships, money, women and software developers, then it will be cheap
at the price. They just need to give us the data and show exactly what they did
to the data on live TV to get the answers they have. If it still makes sense, then
lets talk about donning animal skins and hunting the nutria as my ancestors did.

To build their scientific careers at some podunk university in Britain they are willing
to destroy the western economies. They are either are true believers and the data
backs them up, or true believers based crap data. We need to know which it is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hamlet's Mill and the Mayan prediction

I'm watching a program on National geographic, they are looking at the
mayan prophecies and how the world is going to end in 2012 as predicted by
the Mayans. It's a strange mixture of Science, History and religious mumbo
jumbo from 'descendants' of the Mayans. "When the sun aligns with the center
of the galazy it will create energy that will end the world"

It is a strange mixture because this program is overlying the mumbo jumbo
on top of a description of the ancient Mayans as astronomers and technically

This story was already told in a book called Hamlet's mill that tries to explain
the reason that there are so many stories around the world describing end of
the world floods and ends of the world as cycles end. Two different things
must be kept in mind about the people that created the world destruction myths.
They were serious people that built pyramids and Empires. Your average new age hippie wouldn't know how to begin to build a pyramid, and in the same way the people that built the
pyramids wouldn't create a frivolous myth, their myths were used to transmit
information over long periods of time. The second thing to keep in mind is that
these same stories of end of the world due to flood are the same all around the

The reason the myths have to be transmitted over long periods of time is there
was no writing when the original builders and astronomers lived and worked and
the time periods discussed were very long because they are trying describe the
precession of the equinoxes. So they needed a timekeeper, an object with a fairly
long period that repeated and they called that Chronos, but literally it was the planet
saturn with an orbital period of 80 years. Saturn marks off a second hand on a massive
clock where the hour hand is the precession of the equinoxes around the zodiac.
Each hour is the 2400 year age that is occuring. (eg age of Aquarius), and the end
of an age is the end of the "world" when the old gods die and new gods take over.
Kronos to Chronos to zeus. Interesting, but if you're not living in a completely agricultural
world that risks famine if the equinoxes are mis-predicted then it's not really end
of the world stuff.

So in the end it was a pretty annoying program. Instead of highlighting yet another
society that was either influenced by truly ancient people (egyptians were in Mexico?),
or just pointing how smart the people were 2000 years ago and look at all these things
they built and observations they made, they spent an hour of my life trying to predict
how the world is going to end as predicted by the ancient Mayans.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My wife went out into the Italian wilderness and came back with
the makings of thanksgiving dinner, with Turkey, macaroni & cheese
(pasta) and mashed potatoes and gravy. mmm.

I'm thankful for that and for my family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More global warmin hack

Bishop Hill has a list of emails from the hru server that is
pretty damning. The great thing about the list is includes
a unique number for each email, and if you google that number
the first hit is the original text. from 1107454306.txt

I presume congratulations are in order - so congrats etc !
Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better
this time ! And don't leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is
trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear
there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than
send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within
20 days? - our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it.
We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried
email when he heard about it - thought people could ask him for his model code. He
has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that.

I'm no lawyer, but if you conspire to break a law is that conspiracy or just
obstruction of justice?

I kind of feel for these guys. If my email got hacked it would be a boring
list of go here and do that, and me either going there and doing that or finding
some way to weasel out of going there, or if I really go there do I have to do that
or can I just sit in a pub and drink?

Which just points out the futility of my career versus these guys who are supposed
to be gathering accurate data that will determine whether the government wrecks
the economy to prevent a bigger disaster. They seem to be working on an agenda
to change the world and wreck the economy, which would be the plot of a bad Tom
Clancy novel except that I think all this will be coming to a vote in the next few months.

Note to climate scientists: Gather good data. Try and compare data to models.
When your models can reproduce the weather of the past 50 years I'll listen to
the future predictions of your models. Oh yea, good job on appearing to have not a single
dirty joke or nudie picture in the entire archive. Stop working so hard, you're making
us look bad.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hacking the real scoop on global warming

Over at WUWT and climate audit, they are posting some mail
and documents posted by a hacker that hacked into the CRU facility
in the UK.

If some of the documents are real then it's just another example of don't
put anything in an email that you wouldn't printed in a newspaper, but
without the sex talk seen in normal examples of released emails.

I can't download the info to a work computer, the hacked docs are probably
chock full of virus', but the posted examples seem too good to be true:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual
land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land
N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999
for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with
data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
If some of those mails and documents are true, then get ready with
tar and feathers for these people. More likely they were created by
the hackers or taken out of context. They would be more believable
if there were some off color jokes or light sex chat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hurricane passed

The hurricane passed and everyone is ok at home. No Hurricanes
here, just cold, then rainy and colder then cold again. Winter still
hasn't started though, so it's not really cold, unless I-10 is your normal
boundary in which case your thermostat is sitting on the maximum of
24 deg c. (we've got a smart meter that keeps us from using more than
4 kw at a time, and a thermostat with a max temp of 24.) I don't know
what we'd do if it got really cold this apartment is just a brick sh-thouse
writ large, no insulation, no attic. Hopefully the government would come
with more blankets.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hades temperature decreasing

The saints won and there's a hurricane in the gulf in November,
sure signs that the saints reaching 8 - 0 is affecting the weather
down under, not meaning Australia.

I'd be on the lookout for heavy houston snowstorms, ice in Lake
Ponchatrain and sober people in the french quarter, all signs
that the Saints can go all the way.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Saints and suitcase bombs

I had an early flight this morning and I meant to wake up in time
to watch some of monday night football before heading out. As normal
I woke up just in time to get in the taxi and dash to the airport. I wanted
to know how the Saints - Falcons game was going and the only way was to
use the Forbidden Phone Internet. Normally touching any advanced feature
on my crappy Palm phone gives a warning in Italian that suggests using a different
connection for half price internet

But I didn't care, I cast Euros to the wind and connected to to get
the score...28 - 21 and we're beating the evil Falcons in the 3rd quarter, then
I hit reload 50 times on the way to Bologna as the falcons got a field goal then
the saints got the ball. I reached the Alitalia counter and got in line behind a
heavy-set nervous looking guy. He said something in Italian that I missed because
I was reading the last play ("hey little rabbbit, hold da ballons while I tie da shoe
laces") then he scampered away. I looked up to see his giant bag in front of me
that if it was a bomb would blow me halfway back to ravenna, but I just kept
clicking refresh until the Saints scored!

If it had been a movie the camera would have panned back as I threw my hands
up in victory then blasted me to kingdom come. Instead the nervous guy got back
in line as it just started to move, having had his cappucino and crossaint. Well worth
being blown up as long as the saints make it to the superbowl.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Neptunus Lexicon

Some of the best writing around is over at Neptunus Lex, an ex Navy
Airman who just dropped off his son for flight training.

Arizona passed as a long series of dry plains like desert battlefields parted by the highway. On each side opposed battalions of tall cacti stood formation in endless ranks. Third world thin, backed by mountains in the distance. New Mexico at dawn an inexpressibly beautiful, alien landscape, with soaring escarpments casting the stern, implacable shadows of alien gods. We spoke of the courage those people had shown crossing this country from east to west on their horses and covered wagons little more than a hundred years or so ago, the unremitting waves of hostilities they had stolidly faced, sentient and otherwise. We didn’t speak aloud to wonder where it had gone, the kind of hardiness that had made this land. What was left of it, I sensed, sat beside me.

Where he tells the story of his first night carrier landing is a story comparable to Tom Wolfe
and the right stuff and it made my palm sweat on the mouse just scrolling down the page.
The closest I ever got to being a fighter pilot was riding down to the trim pad in the back
seat of an F-15B, but at least with such great writing I can live vicariously on the interwebs
and read the deeds of warrior poets. This makes for a slight change from the Domestic Poets
and scientist poets that I'm usually reading.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Naked Coffee in the castle

I keep seeing the news about the guy Eric Williamson who was arrested
for drinking coffee in the nude. I think a man's home is his castle and he should
be able to do what he wants there as long as no one inside the house is being hurt.

My favorite response was a comment on weird news where they are advocating everyone drink coffee in the nude until he is free:

Busted for one woman’s nagging,
Coffee Guy set tongues a-wagging;
He legally brewed
At home in the nude
Rather than public teabagging
(from JFD8 on twitter)

I'd join in with the naked coffee protest but a window facing the apartment
building's courtyard has no curtains. I don't want to shock or annoy the
neighbors when they gave us such a nice lunch today.

Obama is The Man

The Czar over at the Gormogons makes a pithy summary of
Obama's problems with Fox News from a wsj article:

And kudos from the Czar to whomever first realized that President Obama’s playbook is limited to fighting the man. He does not realize that he is, now and tomorrow, the man himself.

Obama needs to add some pages to his playbook and stop playing the victim.
There are people and countries out there that are perfectly happy to really make
Obama and the USA the victim. Obama squealing like a little girl just makes him
look weak to the real sharks that are out there.

The president also keeps saying stop distracting him and let him work on the
economy and create jobs, when in fact he is creating the distraction by trying to
change healthcare and add a climate change bill. One of the big takeaways from
the book "the Forgotten Man" was that much of the depression was caused by the
government mucking around and changing the system.

People with money to invest or businesses to start tend to do less of investing and
business starting when you can't know what your costs are going to be in 6 months.
The President should delay the new health care and climate change bills until the
economy is stronger so that you don't kill the patient. He is The Man in every sense
of the phrase, now is the time to act like it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Palin goin' rogue

On Sarah Palin's facebook page she's supporting the conservative
candidate in a new york congressional election over the RINO

Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

If she'll lead I'll follow. Here in Europe she's been painted as an idiot by only showing
the heavily edited interviews she did in the campaign last year. I've seen enough speeches
she's given to prove otherwise, and she gives a quick summary of my main political beliefs:

smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty
This should be the republican political platform, but most republicans can't lift their snout
out of the trough long enough to stand for anything. That is similar to the libertarian platform,
but the libertarian party seems to be more against strong national defense. I guess I'm a libertarian-conservative, and the candidates I want to support would wantt:

smaller government - all government is bad, some is necessary
lower taxes - taxes should be lower, simpler and more transparent
strong national defense - best navy, air force and space force in the world, beware of
entangling alliances
commitment to individual liberty - I don't care what any adult smokes, drinks etc or does
in the privacy of their homes.

and remember

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ray Nagin is still a twit

I've been reading the Times-Picayune in New Orleans following
the saints on their historic march to the superbowl (touch wood).
They have an article on Ray Nagin speaking about his trip to Cuba
to see how they do disaster preparedness down in the islands.

"one of the biggest weaknesses we had during Hurricane Katrina is it wasn't clear who was the top authority."

"The president and the governor were going back and forth. . . . In Cuba you don't have that problem, " Nagin said Tuesday evening. "The government says, 'This is what we're doing, these are the resources we are going to deploy, ' and it pretty much happens."

What a load of crap, this guy still doesn't realize that he had total and complete
authority to take care of his city, evacuate people, requisition school buses to
move people, get on the news and demand the president do more...and do it before
the storm hit.

Mayor Nagin has definitely reached his Peter Principle point, for the safety
of the republic he needs to not be in any higher public office.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Limousine point

I flew over to Athens yesterday morning after getting back from
Aberdeen the night before and I almost made a 50 euro mistake.
Walking out of the airport terminal I was mostly asleep, so tired that
I slept through my free cookie on alitalia (mmmm, cookie).

A well dressed guy stopped me and offered me a ride in one of a line of cars,
all mercedes and Peugot 706's. He showed me the price on a laminated
car...90 euros, or I could walk 100 yards to the taxi line and wait. My
tired feet said yes then he pointed out the driver that would take me
who was a spitting image of Fred Gwinn as Ed Munster. I let out an
almost verbal "gah" and scurried to the taxi line. The taxi was only 40
euros, so a scary face saved me 50 euros.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bridge to nowhere

Mark Steyn has a good reason why nationalized healthcare will
be so expensive in the USA if it happens:

A few weeks back I mentioned a couple of bridges in a neighboring town of mine, both on dirt roads serving maybe a dozen houses. Bridge A: The town was prevailed upon to apply for some state/town 80/20 funding plan, which morphed under the stimulus into some fed/state 60/40 funding plan. Current estimated cost: $655,000. The town’s on the hook for 20 per cent of the state’s 40 per cent – or $52,400. There’s no estimated year of completion, or even of commencement, and the temporary bridge the town threw up has worn out.

Bridge B: Following their experience with Bridge A, the town replaced this one themselves, in a matter of weeks. Total cost: $30,000.

Government is simple provided two conditions are met: You do it locally, and you do it without unions.

When you're not spending your own money cost is no longer a problem.

Emotive Stick Figures

I'm always amazed
by how much body language
is conveyed by the stick
figures of XKCD.

Here the TSA guy
is about to go into
gun pointing "step
away from the
laptop mode".

If you need to waste
a few hours just go
to XKCD and click the
random button. repeat.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Archie Manning's other son

I paid the nfl $30 to be able to listen to the saints games this year.
Well worth the money since I got to listen to them trouncing the giants.
All I can say is "Who Dat!"

I went googling around to see if Archie Manning has anything to say
on a blog or columns about his sons playing football, or Eli losing to the
Saints and I found this on the Onion from last season:

Archie Manning: "Donovan McNabb Is Also My Son"

NEW ORLEANS—Following the Eagles NFC divisional playoff victory over the Giants, Archie Manning, retired NFL player and father of Peyton and Eli Manning, stunned the football world by announcing Monday that Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is also his son. "While traveling with the Saints I met a very special woman in Chicago, and from our brief but heated union sprang a boy—a boy who naturally grew to play quarterback," Manning said during an impromptu interview, adding that he recognized the boy's mother from a recent Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'll crush you like a worm

I'm in Aberdeen this week,
it's a pretty gray place. All
of the buildings are made of
gray granite, the sky is
normally gray, even with
an exceptional blue sky
today it still seems like
a gray world.

I did get out and walk around
this afternoon and I stumbled
on a statue of William Wallace.
All of the other buildings that
might be of historical interest
have been turned into pubs. I only saw one church that is still a church, the
rest are pretty cool looking gothic nightclubs. One even has a casino.

Unfortunately I'm working nights, so no guinness or single malt for me this trip.
I did get a fish and chip(s?) with a beef pie on the side. I thought he would just
nuke the meat pie, but he dropped it in a fryer. I couldn't eat after I
saw how much grease was on it which was a shame. They don't appear to be
food for the sober, but are great after about 6 pints of Guiness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Theodoric's tomb and sea level

I've been trying to read the pro-AGW case on websites
like realclimate and the Stoat. I'm trying to keep an open
mind, but much of what is presented doesn't agree with my
preconceptions that it was as warm or warmer in the past when
CO2 levels were lower. My other bias is that several degrees
warmer doesn't scare me, but if the ice starts to come back things
will be much worse. Going the low energy low emissions route would be
the worst thing we could do if it is actually getting colder, so I'm going
to try and give my anti-agw warming arguments to their pro-AGW

the first link on the "is sea level rising" question takes you to the IPCC FAQ that says this:

Yes, there is strong evidence that global sea level gradually rose in the 20th century and is currently rising at an increased rate, after a period of little change between AD 0 and AD 1900. Sea level is projected to rise at an even greater rate in this century. The two major causes of global sea level rise are thermal expansion of the oceans (water expands as it warms) and the loss of land-based ice due to increased melting.
To say that no sea level rise occurred from 0 AD
to 1800 is a pretty big statement. There are
pretty good maps from after the renaissance, but
from 0 AD to 1500 there isn't too much, or at least
not enough to say it didn't happen.

One set of datapoints that exists are structures built near the sea
in classical times. The foundations of those buildings could be
close to sea level at the date they were constructed. if
they are close to a river then the foundations would be covered by mud as the
river builds out into the newly deeper sea, or if they aren't close to a river then
they'd be underwater assuming the sea rose.

A misconception that seems to be prevalent is that rising sea levels always means
less land available, that the sea will just encroach on us. Instead increases in sea level
either give rivers or delta fronts more space to fill, and land progrades out into the sea.
Or if there is no river nearby the newly higher sea lever transgresses over the land.
If sea level decreases, then rivers cut down as steeper hydraulic gradients give them
more energy. (a google search reveals several articles on archeogeology)

From a geological standpoint, ravenna has changed quite a bit over the centuries.
From classical times to the 19th century, the city was surrounded by rivers.
Along with the surrounding swamps the protecting rivers were a reason that
the emperors moved the capitol there. The adjoining city of Classe was the
port for the adriatic fleet and had access to the sea, now both ravenna and
classe are landlocked.

This indicates that the rivers running through Ravenna prograded outward into
the sea, and the height difference between the floors of the 6th century buildings
and current ground level is an indicator of sea level rise.

Theodoric's tomb is a stone
structure that is heavy enough
if it was going to subside it
would have disappeared by
now. It was built in 520 AD.

The difference in height between
it's current floor level and the
surrounding bluffs are around
3 meters. All the other classical
buildings in ravenna are 1-2 meters
below ground level I think that
this indicates sea level rise
is somewhere around 1 meter
per 1500 years , which is 60 mm per 100 years. That's an in the ballpark number
for the sealevel rise estimated by AGW (100mm/century).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cerca, Trova

Althouse quotes from Polanski's probation report:

Possibly not since Renaissance Italy has there been such a gathering of creative minds in one locale as there has been in Los Angeles County during the past half century."

I call bollocks to that too. There are some talented people in hollywood, Spielberg, Hughes,
Hitchcock. I wouldn't put Polanski in that list. Here were the people that helped make the renaissance:

Lorenzo Ghiberti
(born Lorenzo di Bartolo) (1378 – December 1, 1455) was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.

Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi; c. 1386 – December 13, 1466) was a famous early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence. He is, in part, known for his work in basso rilievo, a form of shallow relief sculpture that, in Donatello's case, incorporated significant 15th-century developments in perspectival illusionism.

Lorenzo de' Medici (1 January 1449 – 9 April 1492) was an Italian statesman and de facto[1] ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance. Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico) by contemporary Florentines, he was a diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. His life coincided with the high point of the early Italian Renaissance; his death marked the end of the Golden Age of Florence.

Filippo Brunelleschi(b. Florence, Italy 1377; d. Florence, Italy 1446)

Leon Battista Alberti (February 18, 1404April 20, 1472) was an Italian author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, and cryptographer, and general Renaissance humanist polymath. [1] Alberti's life was described in Giorgio Vasari's Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori or 'Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects'.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (it-Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci.ogg pronunciation , April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni[1] (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer.

Giorgio Vasari
(30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter and architect, who is today famous for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.

[I know in almost every guide book
Vasari is painted as a mediocrity and
he should be the Polansky of the list, but
he was a busy hard-working person, who
instead of Painting over Da vinci's mural
in the palacio vecchio, it appears that he
made a new wall in front of it and painted
'cerca, trova' as a clue. If that mural is there
Vasari is going to zoom up in the fantasy
renaissance rankings for sure]

I guess my point was that I think Polansky
is a mediocrity in a group of mediocres. He
didn't break much new ground, 90% of the
invention was in the 1920's which makes the
current crop of filmakers more like 17th
century baroque painters. More like interior
decorators than artists.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins the heismann trophy!

I plan to vote every day for Barry Obama to win the heismann
trophy. We'll show the world that we have the real triple threat,
Nobel Peace prize, Heismann trophy and Formula F1 winner.
The real question will be is how will the secret service guys run alongside.

He does give a good speech though, If I wasn't an american I'd think
all of his policies look great.

from the acceptance speech:

But I know these challenges can be met, so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration; it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.

And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity; for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard, even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.

That has always been the cause of America. That's why the world has always looked to America. And that's why I believe America will continue to lead.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Obama and the olympics

Bill Whittle has a good column at ejectejecteject, I like it a lot more than
his videos on pjtv just because I really don't like video on the internet yet,
too slow, too choppy and if you're watching a video on your pc everyone knows
you're not working. If you're reading a blog, who can say?

Anyhoo. He makes a great point that Obama's loss at the olympics
could be a good teaching moment for him at only a small cost to the
country. or in his own words:

This Olympic fiasco, I hoped, would be embarrassing enough and pointed enough to provide a clear data point that this is not always the case, and this lesson, had it sunk in, would come at very small cost to America. After all, the loss of the Olympics in a city is considerably less painful than losing the city itself… which is where this kind of naive ego-centrism can lead us when dealing with ruthlessly self-interested regimes like Iran, Russia and North Korea — expanding nuclear powers all.

I think it's interesting that after 9 months in office the Obama administration is
still floundering around looking like a bunch of monkeys flirting with a football. (nothing
racist intended) I am thinking thank goodness that nothing like 9/11 has happened to
this guy yet and I hope that the evil Joe Biden will step into the Cheney role soon.
("what do you mean ol' joe's not an evil genius, I've never heard of an evil twit before")

I remember after 9/11 there were a bunch of shrieking leftards shrieking that george
bush wasn't ready after 9 months in office, he hadn't picked up the signals and captured
bin laden when all the indications were there to stop 9/11. Right now I would imagine
that bin laden could be building a missile launch facility next to the reflecting pool and
our genius' in charge wouldn't notice.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Wheat, chaff

There's a lot to point to this week in the news:
obama lost the olympics while talking to the commander
for afganistan for 25 minutes, various jerks in hollywood support
a child rapist, david letterman was screwing his employees, etc,
but most of this news activity is fiddling while rome burns.

We need to start changing laws and throwing bums out so that
the country doesn't continue it's current slide. One idea that I can
support wholeheartedly is the idea that congresscritters have to
read every bill that they vote affirmative for.

from beldar's blog:

Every time I deal with a federal statute in the context of giving legal advice to a client — which is an utterly basic function of being a lawyer — I have to actually read and then understand the statute. My failure to do so would be malpractice per se — something absolutely indefensible, something never excusable under any circumstances. As soon as I admitted or it was otherwise proven that I didn’t read and understand the statute, the only question in a malpractice case would be the size of the damage award against me.

But if that’s an utterly basic function of being a lawyer who merely advises private clients on how the law may or may not apply, shouldn’t it be an even more basic function of a law-maker, a legislator, who creates the laws that apply to an entire country?

The queefs in charge of the congress don't even read bills now , the ravening wolves are
feasting on every bill. they don't even bother to lift their head from the trough now to
read the bills, as long as someone (lobbyists most likely) keep filling the trough then
everyone is happy, except the taxpayers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"if the data don't fit, just make up some shit"

The purple avenger at Ace is channeling the ghost of johhny cochran and gives the
pithy summary of a great article over on Climateaudit:

"if the data don't fit, just make up some shit"
The much touted hockey stick is no longer mostly dead,
it's all dead.
All of the sudden, it isn’t the “hottest period in 2000 years” anymore.

Steve writes:

The next graphic compares the RCS chronologies from the two slightly different data sets: red – the RCS chronology calculated from the CRU archive (with the 12 picked cores); black – the RCS chronology calculated using the Schweingruber Yamal sample of living trees instead of the 12 picked trees used in the CRU archive. The difference is breathtaking.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Strong king, weak king or Strong Horse, Weak Horse

From the telegraph:

Barack Obama’s chances of re-election in three and a half years’ time may be evaporating at unprecedented speed, but his presidential ambitions could still be realised in another direction. He would be a shoo-in to win the next Russian presidential election, so high is his popularity now running in the land of the bear and the knout. Obama has done more to restore Russia’s hegemonial potential in Eastern and Central Europe than even Vladimir Putin.

His latest achievement has been to restore the former satellite states to dependency on Moscow, by wimping out of the missile defence shield plan. This follows on his surrender last July when he voluntarily sacrificed around a third of America’s nuclear capability for no perceptible benefit beyond a grim smile from Putin. If there is one thing that fans the fires of aggression it is appeasement.

We've already seen the jihadi response to what they perceive as a weak horse, now
what we'll see is the Russian response to that same problem. One history class I took in school was a history of England to the to the glorious revolution of 1688. A point that was
repeated several times during the class was that England did better as a country
when there was a strong king. Strong kings (or queens) hammered the scots, or welsh or irish,
weak kings lost land to the french or powers to the parliament or to the protestants.

History will tell us which presidents were strong kings or weak kings. Clinton
was lucky in that history took a vacation when he was there. Bush did the best
he could and was strong at times, but I think truly strong kings delegate less than he
did. Obama is starting off looking like a weak king who doesn't care much about
foreign policy. I'm afraid that we're going to find out that if you don't care about
foreign policy, sometimes foreign policy cares about you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Green Death

Dr Brignell at Numberwatch is channeling Tom Clancy this month

A clear starry moonless sky looked down upon a frozen Britain . A deep depression had passed through and deposited unprecedented quantities of snow on town and country. Snow ploughs and gritting vehicles had cleared a way through on the major routes, but footpaths and side roads were still not negotiable. A stationary high had now settled across the country and in the windless air the temperature was plunging steadily, already below -10C. On the hills giant wind turbines stood motionless in the still air. They were giant impotent icons of a failed religion and stark monuments to onerous and now pointless taxation over many years. In the gloom they seemed to point accusing fingers up into the sky.

At the control centre of the national Power Grid there was a nervous quiet, punctuated by short bouts of hushed conversation. They knew the crisis would occur in an hour’s time, at about 7 am. They had already made the dreadful decision as to which towns would be made to experience suffering and death by being deprived of power. This was a different world from the last time there were serious power cuts in 1970. It was now totally dependent on computer and related technologies. Owing to decisions made (or, to be more accurate, not made) in the first years of the century, the nation was grossly underpowered for such a circumstance. The domestic demand was already high, as almost everyone had left the heating on over night.

Some people had managed to get through to places of work. Cleaners turned on the lights and the great machines of industry began to hum. The power consumption crept up towards the critical point.

read the rest

I like the idea of green power, but it is not very good for base load without a lot
of storage and planning. It can work for a house with a battery backup (or generator),
or for a town that has a fuel cell storing electricity or a pump filling a reservoir, but
for a national grid it's not so great.

I think we should look more like France, not like Denmark. Denmark is hip and cool
and green, but it depends on the kindness of strangers for power when the wind doesn't
blow. France is nearly self sufficient in nuclear power that powers their great metro system
and superfast trains, etc. If we're borrowing the money anyway, we can build the windmills,
but we should also build the nuclear plants and clean coal fired plants.

Who Dat!

The Saints are 2 - 0, this is the happiest time of the year
for a Saints fan, I'm in the "we're goin' to the super bowl baby!"
phase, much better than in the past when I'd think "all we have
to do is win the next 7 games and have los angeles and san fran
lose 4 of those, and we're going to the playoffs". (back in the old
division setup)

I'm not home, so I get to choose between the pro-global warming/anti
american BBC or the anti-american/pro global warming CNN in the hotel.
When I get home I can watch espn america; my sports package has 15
channels of soccer (calcio en italiano) and one glorious channel that is showing
4 or 6 live games per week, plus recorded games and baseball. If the saints
go to the superbowl we'll have the biggest superbowl party ever seen in northeast
italy. Go Saints!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Traveling again

I'm in Tunis for a few days, and the internet is heavily blocked
here, sites like youtube or youpron are blocked. I wouldn't expect
that, it seems very westernized here.

I was hoping to see a video of President Obama awarding the MOH
to the family of SFC Monti. Here's the video on Blackfive from Fox
if your youtube is blocked too.

I saw the story linked on Ace and I read the text from the Army website
and I wondered what Obama's delivery looked like. I'm glad he looked
like the commander in chief and did a good job honoring SFC Monti.

"A moment later, he rose again. And again they fired everything they had at him, forcing him back. Faced with overwhelming enemy fire, Jared could have stayed where he was, behind that wall. But that was not the kind of soldier Jared Monti was. He embodied that creed all soldiers strive to meet: "I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade." And so, for a third time, he rose. For a third time, he ran toward his fallen comrade. Said his patrol leader, it "was the bravest thing I had ever seen a soldier do."

Where do we get such men.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

Best article on 9/11 today is from Bill Whittle, with video that
just isn't shown anymore (it would make us angry) I don't need
it to make me angry, but it should be shown to keep people focused
on what is happening around us.

Men of Harlech! In the Hollow,
Do ye hear like rushing billow
Wave on wave that surging follow
Battle's distant sound?
Tis the tramp of Saxon foemen,
Saxon spearmen, Saxon bowmen,
Be they knights or hinds or yeomen,
They shall bite the ground!
Loose the folds asunder,
Flag we conquer under!
The placid sky now bright on high,
Shall launch its bolts in thunder!
Onward! 'tis the country needs us,
He is bravest, he who leads us
Honor's self now proudly heads us,
Freedom, God and Right!

Rocky Steeps and passes narrow,
Flash with spear and flight of arrow
Who would think of death or sorrow?
Death is glory now!
Hurl the reeling horsemen over,
Let the earth dead foemen cover
Fate of friend, of wife, of lover,
Trembles on a blow!
Strands of life are riven!
Blow for blow is given
In deadly lock, or battle shock,
And mercy shrieks to heaven!
Men of Harlech! young or hoary,
Would you win a name in story?
Stike for home, for life, for glory!
Freedom, God and Right!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

80/20 principle

I read the 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch during a trip last week.
It's an excellent book that has some really important ideas for anyone
that is even mildly lazy. He goes through the easy wins of business analysis,
which is obvious until you actually try and do it (shut down unprofitable
businesses, "but they pay the overhead!").

The real heart of the book goes into applying the 80/20 principle to your
life and career. Most of your production comes from a small amount of your
effort, so focus more time and attention on that small amount instead of spreading
yourself evenly across all activities. If you work on the assembly line this won't
work, but anyone with a technical job or a sales job, a lot of time is just wasted
not moving towards the real goals.

The examples I used explaining this to my wife were Dr. house or Don Draper from
Mad Men. Dr house mostly walks around popping vicodin all day while his assistants
do most of the work until he has some flash of insight and solves the problem.
Don Draper mostly walks around drinking and smoking, has short, to the point meetings
then sends his minions to do the scutwork while he goes off to sleep with some chick.

My wife didn't like that part of the metaphor, but either guy gets his real job done
without caring to spend time punching the clock at the office or doing make-work.
The crucial thing is to decide what is the real productive part of the job using 80/20
analysis, then focus on that while drinking and chasing bimbos. (kidding).

Monday, August 31, 2009

Peak Earl

Peak Oil (Peak Earl as the people from down in the parish would say) was the
topic of a NY times opinion piece and several blog posts last week (on coyote blog and
lou minatti). I was traveling and only had time to comment on Lou Minatti's site, and only that because there was a comparison between peak oil and AGW.

The peak oil opinion piece was a good example of freshman rhetoric, lots of straw
men and hazy mentioning of peak oilers and their anecdotal data. If I knew just
what the average person does about the oil industry I'd probably be convinced and
go back to driving my SUV like nothing is happening.

Here's the most annoying 'graf:

Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material. But because the news media and prominent figures like James Schlesinger, a former secretary of energy, and the oilman T. Boone Pickens have taken peak oil seriously, the public is understandably alarmed.
I have several problems with that, he doesn't cite any of the poor analyses of data, he doesn't
name names and he uses malthus as a dirty word. For me the most important analysis of
data was done in the fifites by M. King Hubbert where he made the connection that because
we can draw a production curve that predicts max production and total production for a
field, we can do the same thing for a region or a country. Hubbert's prediction was very
good science, he had a theory that production in the usa would peak, he made a prediction
and he was proven right. That is science not belief.

The reason that Malthus has been proven wrong about food production and mass death is
precisely because we are putting more energy into the system in the form of hydrocarbons.
Oil production is precisely malthusian though, even if the earth was just one big sphere of
oil, eventually one day it would run out. The reality is worse, there is oil and gas in the
ground in limited reservoirs around the world and it will run out not in the distant future
but within 200 years, and as an economic resource much sooner.

here's a good straw man argument:

Let’s take the rate-of-discovery argument first: it is a statement that reflects ignorance of industry terminology. When a new field is found, it is given a size estimate that indicates how much is thought to be recoverable at that point in time. But as years pass, the estimate is almost always revised upward, either because more pockets of oil are found in the field or because new technology makes it possible to extract oil that was previously unreachable. Yet because petroleum geologists don’t report that additional recoverable oil as “newly discovered,” the peak oil advocates tend to ignore it. In truth, the combination of new discoveries and revisions to size estimates of older fields has been keeping pace with production for many years.
This is really good rhetoric because it would take a lot of work to disprove since he doesn't
cite any data or a specific case where this is true. It's more of a straw army because it
mentions several parts of the industry across boundaries of knowledge, how oil reserves
are booked is one of the dark arts, and I would never be able to argue against that. I'll take
one straw arm and try to shoot it down, the idea that estimated oil in place is normally
revised upward over a field's lifetime, and it's not reported.

In my personal experience being involved with a worm's eye view of the process of drilling
and logging wells, the most optimistic estimate of oil in place happens when nothing has been drilled and seismic data is just estimating the area and thickness of the reservoir. A well
is drilled that confirms the reservoir is really there, then more wells are drilled to laterally
define the area and volume of the reservoir. These "step-out" wells continue until the
reservoir rock isn't seen any more on the well logs, or the well intersects the reservoir
below the oil-water contact. More infill wells are drilled and production begins.

What I've seen is typically the seismic is optimistic, then as the wells are drilled either the
reservoir isn't there unexpectedly, or it is found to be faulted in some way that the reservoir
isn't continuous and needs more wells to produce the field. Off the top of my head I can think
of a dozen wells where there was some problem and the expected reservoir wasn't there, but only 2 where there was much more than expected.

A nice using of the vague arm waving argument:

A related argument — that the “easy oil” is gone and that extraction can only become more difficult and cost-ineffective — should be recognized as vague and irrelevant.
Here's a chart from a good primer on peak oil. I'm sure they are
slanted, but if someone has another chart that shows more fields are being discovered now
than in the past, please post it. It shows that production is steadily increasing while we
are finding fewer and fewer new barrels.

Sure we are still finding fields and
doing it more efficiently than ever,
but we're finding fewer and fewer
new fields when the technology being
applied is amazing.

In the '60's when a field was found
using 2d seismic that was pretty good,
with 9 out of 1o wells being dry holes.
Now with 3d seismic it is possible to
drill wells and have people say they've
never drilled a dry hole.

In the past they were using a bow and arrow and still finding oil, now we're using a laser
scope and hitting fewer and fewer. I too would say the easy oil is gone.

To me the peak oil argument is easy to understand, it's just taking the integral of all the
production curves of all the wells in the world, plus new discoveries plus improvements
in production. Since so few new fields have been found lately, much of the increase in
production has come from improvements in production technology, with secondary and
tertiary production techniques.

Counting on new production techniques to continuously improve
production will lead to a production curve like canterell, with continous injection to
maintain pressure and sudden production drop as the oil/water contact moved
above producing wells. (i have no idea what happened there, I'm just guessing). The
reason the high water cut from saudi fields is so scary is the same thing could happen
there. Instead of declining pressure gradually reducing production, the pressure stays
constant due to water injection, as the oil water contact moves steadily upward more
and more wells "water out".

I don't know what will happen in the future, I'm sure it will be similar to the past with
cycles of demand increase, price increase then demand destruction as people switch to
alternatives at high price points. Demand falls then price falls crashing the oil industry
and reducing supply and the cycle starts again with a frequency of about 5 years. Peak
oil is the background curve that this occurs against, at some point in the future demand
will increase and no oil production increase will be possible at any price (sort of like last
summer, but worse).

It would be best if the usa would be working on this problem in a way that prevents some
future giant shock, like an import tax on oil and gas so that people are moving to
alternatives now instead of waiting for a big shock to do it. Also building nuclear plants
and space based solar power. It does no good to have gm electric cars everywhere, if there
isn't any juice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don't use Hotwire

I used Hotwire to book a hotel room in rome last week. I won't use them
again. They have a business model where they list prices and star level
without saying the hotel name. I think the underlying assumption is supposed
to be that they are honest, otherwise why would I buy a box without a label?

They aren't honest. Or they are incompetent. Or both. The hotel that was
supposed to be 4 star was at best a 2.5 star hotel. No internet, no gym, resterant
only open for dinner, no room service, no valet parking would make it a non-
4 star hotel for me. But then the rooms were crappy, worn, small, crappy TV
with few channels, crappy snotty service, which to me make the hotel a 2 star.
(hotel Pacific).

Anyway. Don't use Hotwire, they suck, their answer was they went there this year
and rated it themselves as a 4 star. They can't do math, they said their fare was lower
than the hotel's posted fare, it was $10 less on the hotel's website than hotair.

for google: hotwire sucks, hotwire sucks hotwire sucks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

downside of 1st class

I paid the extra 10E
for a first class ticket
on a trip to milano, thinking
I can plug in my laptop
and work instead of just
sweating in 2nd class.

Unfortunately I forgot
my power supply, so
I just sat in 1st class
and watched the scenery
roll by very quickly
as the new fast train
ate up the distance from
bologna to milano in about 58 minutes. Unfortunately, if you're in
the last car of the train the trip to the station door in milano is pretty
long. This picture shows the huge painting on the wall of the station
that is about 100 yards across.


Norm Geras was nice enough to post a profile of me on his blog
last Friday. Going back and reading the questions and answers, it's
obvious that he's spent a long time crafting the questions while I answered
them in the short time it takes for the rest of the office to get back from

Sunday, August 23, 2009

healthcare hustle

The Czar of Muscovy has done a great service by reading the
entire healthcare bill from the House of representatives. I wish
I could do something similar, but I struggle to read a tax form;
"if you paid taxes to only one foreign country use column a in part I
and line A in part 2....zzzzzzzzz."

Various parts of the summary scared the heck out of me, the Czar's
summary says it best:

Reading this bill in its entirely leads to some inescapable conclusions: the supporters and authors of this bill clearly do not understand its contents, nor do they understand all possible interpretations and implications. ...

But the Czar realizes that this bill is very much like President Obama himself. Rushed through without proper review, and containing an unfocused blend of various liberal and radical ideas, the bill promises extensive reform, but ultimately cannot provide specifics beyond trivial process and procedure.


John Lennon's song "Woman" is playing on the top videos of all time show coming
out of the living room. at the same time I read this quote of the day on Neptunus Lex:

“Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her your love, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal.. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of sh!t.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Signal and Noise

So much of what passes as the results of global warming is due to
aliasing. Aliasing occurs when a signal is sampled too frequently or not
frequently enough, when the samples are used to recreate the original
signal you get the wrong answer, such as a hockey stick fitted to a sine wave.

The real temperature signal is a sine wave, or several sine waves superimposed
on one another. A long term glaciation signal, a short term multi-decade oscillation
and probably several others in between. Unfortunately the most common sample
of temperature data is a human lifetime. We remember that when we were young,
it was hotter or colder, but now it is different, and it is worse. It's such a common
experience that it is enshrined in jokes ("back in my day we walked two miles in
the snow to school, uphill both ways").

Some examples of this effect:
We used to see several hurricanes per year way back in the 1930's, but now we see
The temperature at the airport used to be much colder than in the city,
now it's the same. We used to have zero sunspots at the solar minimum, now
there are several even though they are not visible without electronics.

All of these measurements that seem to be proving global warming could just
as easily be just proving that our measurements are now much better, or they
are much worse than they used to be, but they are not the same.

More measurements, more science and less demogogery are what's needed now.
Instead we're getting the inverse.

Monday, August 10, 2009

On some future dark day...

At the Hawaii White House:

General: "Sir, I'm sorry to report, but all 187 F22 fighters were destroyed on the
ground by terrorist attacks"

President O: "We should be ok, we still have our Joint Strike Fighters"

General: "Sorry sir, none have been delivered due to project delays, all we have
are the two demos, one flies just up and down the other flies forward but doesn't
have any weapons."

President O: "Luckily a far-sighted politician was ready for this day, equipping the
one branch
of public service always ready to use the equipment at their disposal.
Get me Nancy Pelosi on the phone"

(cue music: da da da de da da dedede da...highway to the danger zone...)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I've been commenting a lot on blogs lately, hopefully I haven't
offended Lou Minatti with my depressing visions of the future
economy and geopolitics. I'm still betting that oil prices are going to crash
(which is sad to me) then they'll rebound because decline rates are a
fact of life. Right now a couple percent of oil production per day are going
into storage on oil tankers or storage tanks. When storage is full or if
traders think it is almost full, prices will crash.

The competing effect is whether the economy will increase demand
or if production will decline enough before that crash happens. When demand
starts to get close to actual supply and oil in storage starts to decrease,
prices are going to go back to $140 before you can say peak oil.

One driver of decreasing supply is natural production decline. All oilfield's
production rates decline and if money isn't spent on driling and
workover then production will decline as reservoir pressure decreases.
As long as this "crises" atmosphere continues and drilling stays slow,
production will decline.

The other effect that will drive up long term prices is the dollar. I think
in the medium to long term the dollar has to go down so that trade and
investment comes to some kind of balance. Maybe it's just my upbringing,
but i don't think we can go on spending more than we make forever. One
way that the USA would stop importing so much oil is if the dollar goes down
relative to the rest of the world. The price of oil in the US would go up and
imports would go down until our income and outgo meet up at some point.

That would happen by Obama devaluing the dollar or if enough investers around
the world vote with their feet and sell their dollars. That's when the real nutty
comments started to flow. All of this is a plan by the red chinese! Their goal
was to destroy the usa and create a workers paradise around the world. If
that was their plan, it seems to be on track, as industry and jobs are outsourced
to china destroying our future, while dollars that are acceptable around the
world flow into the mandarin's coffers. [muhahahahaha]

Once the chinese use up some of their dollars buying land and oilfields around
the world in sudan, Iraq, south america, nigeria, then they pop the last balloon
dump the rest of their dollars to make things so expensive in the usa that the
economy collapses and only fuel, food, clothing, steel, cars etc that are made in
the usa are available. The questions then become does the usa have guts to
crawl back out of the hole that we have created? Make our own stuff; make stuff
of high enough quality at a low enough price that other people want to buy it?
Does the chinese government care if their capitalist economy collapses when they
are communists? I think not.

At that point I'm nearly out of red wine so my 'creative' juices stop. Instead of
a gizmo on comments to make sure i'm not a bot, there should be a breathalizer.
Anyway, less commenting in the future for joey. Apparently I cross the line too
easily from witty oilfield guy to neak noil nirther.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not science

From a letter to jonah goldberg at the corner, linked from the always
informative watts up with that?:

to be science something has to be testable and falsifiable. It must produce a predicted data point, interaction or outcome that is unique to the theory and can be verified or falsified. Would you bet your future on the accuracy of day seven of a seven day weather forecast? That is essentially what we are being told by the AGW proponents we absolutely must do without delay.

I agree wholeheartedly that AGW isn't science any more.

I use geological models to predict what will happen while drilling a well, once the measurements deviate from the model, if the measurements appear to be working correctly then I know the model is wrong. The AGW crowd has a model that doesn't predict what is happening now, and
their model is using data from temperature measurements that have bad data in them.
Global warming hysteria is nothing but chartmanship and pigs wanting to take their place
at the trough.

They should go back to doing science. Review the temperature record, make more measurements and come back in ten years.

The actions we should be taking should be rational and should have a different set
of priorities than reducing CO2:
- Energy independence
- prepare for the possibility of peak oil. (total oil production may or may not have peaked,
but the most important one, production in North America has peaked)
- assure cheap energy for the future
- minimize pollution and increase sustainability

Meeting those kind of goals will take planning, foresight and wisdom, and will
not be reached by sticking 300 pages in an already bloated bill at 2 am in the morning.
Unfortunately, I don't think the current government is capable of planning, forsight or

Sunday, July 26, 2009

'till the end of time

Mark Steyn on that Gates racism incident (not bill)

As Professor Gates jeered at the officers, “You don’t know who you’re messin’ with.” Did Sergeant Crowley have to arrest him? Probably not. Did he allow himself to be provoked by an obnoxious buffoon? Maybe. I dunno. I wasn’t there. Neither was the president of the United States, or the governor of Massachusetts, or the mayor of Cambridge. All of whom have declared themselves firmly on the side of the Ivy League bigshot. And all of whom, as it happens, are African-American. A black president, a black governor, and a black mayor all agree with a black Harvard professor that he was racially profiled by a white-Latino-black police team, headed by a cop who teaches courses in how to avoid racial profiling. The boundless elasticity of such endemic racism suggests that the “post-racial America” will be living with blowhard grievance-mongers like Professor Gates unto the end of time.

Kind of depressing but true. You'd think having a black president would demonstrate something, but in reality until a rapper singing cop killing lyrics is elected president,
we're all racists. oh well. down the hatch.

To the barricades!

TJIC links to a story about a man that spent 2 years in prison
for not following federal regulations regarding storing sodium.

Evertson, who had been working on clean-energy fuel cells since he was in high school, had no idea what he’d done wrong. It turned out that when he legally sold some sodium (part of his fuel-cell materials) to raise cash, he forgot to put a federally mandated safety sticker on the UPS package he sent to the lawful purchaser…

The good news is that a federal jury in Alaska acquitted Krister of all charges…

The bad news, however, is that the feds apparently had it in for Krister…

Two years after arresting him, the feds brought an entirely new criminal prosecution against Krister on entirely new grounds…

According to the government, when Krister was in jail in Alaska due to the first unjust charges, he had “abandoned” his fuel-cell materials
TJIC suggests a citizen's tribunal against the judge and prosecutor,
I think tarring and feathering needs to make a comeback. Something
that is an obvious mark of the community's scorn, doesn't cause permanent
injury and can be bought at the home depot then applied with a small
crowd. Maybe duct-taping them naked inside a roll of fiberglass insulation
or dying them blue would be a good modern equivalents.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Unexpected consequences

Meghan McCardle links to the news from the 1930's blog comparing
green shoots in the economy today to green shoots that seemed to be
appearing in 1930. Linked in the same day's WSJ was the story:

Hoover signs London Naval Treaty; now awaiting ratification by Britain and Japan. Under conditions of treaty US will reach naval parity with Britain by 1936; Japan naval building will almost stop.
In 1930 this must have seemed like a small story compared the economic crises
of the day, sort of like voluntarily canceling the F22 program is today. The london
naval treaty gave cover to the usa and britain that didn't want to build ships to stay
ahead of the japanese, when the earlier policy for britain was to stay twice as big as
the nearest competitors, post-treaty parity would be acceptable. Only problem being
what happens when you are fighting the germans and the japanese attack in the

I wish I had more confidence in the government that they were paying attention to things all around the world, what development will bite us in the ass in 2020 when Hillary is just starting
her 2nd term and Obama has just finished chiseling his own face on mount rushmore.

To me buying more F-22's is cheap at the price right now, as is another aircraft carrier
and strategic missile defense. In the 10-20 year timeframe that borrowed money will
either be paid back easily in inflated dollars, or the government will default. The option
where the economy grows it's way robustly at 4% and we pay back all the debts a little
at a time seems unlikely. Borrowing money to build things that will last 30 years is a good
idea (weapons systems, nuke power plants, space based solar power, x- prizes). Borrowing
money to pay welfare is the same as buying groceries on a credit card, you buy, eat and
crap it out, then you owe the money.

Hopefully some of the genius' in washington are looking for future ass-biters and thinking
what to do about them. Here's today's wsj headlines that I think could spell problems down the road:

Biden Says Weakened Russia Will Bend

Biden said Russia's economy is "withering," a trend that will force it to make concessions on national security, including loosening its grip on former republics and shrinking its nuclear arsenal.

California's IOUs: Latest Sub for Dollars

To creditors of California who got paid in IOUs, take it from historians -- things could be worse. You could be getting clamshells or plywood.


The movie "Avanti" with Jack Lemmon was on sky this morning, it's a pretty funny
movie with most of the comedy based on quirks that are seen in italy. The 3 hour lunch
when everything is closed with 16 kinds of pasta available was spot on, but I thought the funniest
was the scene in the morgue at 8:10 in the above clip as the coroner stamps all the forms
in triplicate, then sticks other stamps onto each form. That really captured the individual
style of italians while showing the omnipresent bureaucracy here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

St apollinare's day

Today is a holiday in Ravenna, for St. Apollinare
I took the day off from fighting with software and slept
late then read in a cafe for a while before eating some really
excellent lasagna. Then I went to see San Vitale because it is
open at night this month, but I forgot my italian id card, so I had
to pay 7 euros like any other tourist. doh!

From Oscar Wilde's "Ravenna":

But thou, Ravenna, better loved than all,
Thy ruined palaces are but a pall
That hides thy fallen greatness! and thy name
Burns like a grey and flickering candle-flame
Beneath the noonday splendour of the sun
Of new Italia! for the night is done,
The night of dark oppression, and the day
Hath dawned in passionate splendour: far away
The Austrian hounds are hunted from the land,
Beyond those ice-crowned citadels which stand
Girdling the plain of royal Lombardy,
From the far West unto the Eastern sea.

Ravenna is nice after about 3 beers in a cafe, with some nice old buildings, churches
from late antiquity and even the modern buildings from after the 2nd world war are
fairly artistic, and I'm sure it was even nicer before the walls were dynamited in the 19th century.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Round and round we go

There's an interesting article over on slate about the adoption of
roundabouts in the USA. Apart from Lee Circle in New Orleans, I can
only think of one other roundabout and it's a new one that was put in
5 years or so ago in Lafayette.

Here in Ravenna they are everywhere, from my house to the office there
are 6 of them in the route, with only 2 traffic lights. For low to medium traffic
intersections they are fantastic. On the way to work in the morning they allow
you to zip through intersections without much fear, while the two traffic lights I have
to cross are still blinking yellow lights when I go through and I must treat them as
possible collision points. If I had to pass thorough 6 normal traffic lights on the way
to work, it would take me twice as long to get there.

For the high traffic intersections they make life interesting, and it took me a while
to learn the pattern, a key thing to watch for being cars exiting onto the same street
you are entering from. When a car exits, he's in the right lane or crossing from the inside
lane to the right lane and he'll block off the traffic entering from the next street. This
is when you can go...and go go go.

Italian drivers are the most aggressive in the world, if you're not going when you should be,
they are on the horn. They zip around roundabouts like F1 drivers whether they are in
a smart car or a 20 ton garbage truck. I don't know if the plethora of roundabouts and small
cars made them aggressive, or if they started out aggressive when they took their first
chariot out of the garage. It will be interesting to find out as more roundabouts appear
in the USA, it's one thing to zip around a roundabout in a Fiat, but when you have to do
it in surburban eating a cheeseburger and talking on the phone it will be even more interesting.