Archive:

May 2011, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



E-Readers Are For Women, Tablets Are For Men?  Not entirely, but there is a tendency in that direction.
On the surface, the reason for the strong performance of female-oriented publications on the Nook is relatively straightforward.  Generically speaking, the iPad and other tablets are men's toys, while the Nook Color and other e-readers are more popular with women.  According to data from Forrester Research, 56 percent of tablet owners are male, while 55 percent of e-reader owners are female.  Women also buy more books than men do — by a ratio of about 3 to 1, according to a survey last year by Bowker, a research firm for publishers — and are therefore more likely to buy devices that are made primarily for reading books.

But publishers also believe the resonance of the Nook Color among women highlights the vast difference in consumer markets.  Some women, at least, seem to prefer their electronic reading devices to be simpler, something they can read on.  Tablets with Rock Band, GT Racing and high-res cameras?  That's guy stuff.
This reminds me of the claim, some years ago, that Kodak was for women and Canon for men.   Women wanted to take pictures without fuss; men wanted to play with complex gadgets, and take pictures.

(The Nook may be a better choice for most men, as well, especially if they already have a working laptop or netbook.  Or even if they plan to buy a laptop or netbook.)
- 2:14 PM, 24 May 2011   [link]


Obama Thinks It's Still 2008?  No, but it is an amusing mistake.  (And one that the press would use as evidence of dementia in an older Republican, and ignorance in a younger Republican.)

(Talk show host Rush Limbaugh was complaining that, in writing "24 May 2008", Obama was using a European form.  Since I use that form myself, I should say that I got it from Strunk and White, who are not European authorities.  They explain how to punctuate dates and end with this example:
Note that it is customary to omit the comma in
6 April 1958
The last form is an excellent way to write a date; the figures are separated by a word and are, for that reason, quickly grasped.
Those with a mathematical turn of mind may also like the form because the three elements are arranged from smaller to larger, unlike the more common form: April 6, 1958.)
- 12:40 PM, 24 May 2011   [link]


Who's Doing What To Qaddafi?  By way of Hot Air, I found this graphic from the Guardian that attempts to answer that question.  But if you are anything like me, you will find their simple table easier to read.

Executive summary for US readers:  The United States is supplying two-thirds of the men and half of the aircraft.  We have fired almost all of the cruise missiles and flown a little more than one-third of the sorties.

Incidentally, 2000 sorties and 228 cruise missiles are enough to make our operations "kinetic", as far as I am concerned.  (And I think almost all physicists would agree with me on that.)

(The graphic does supply much additional information, too much for a single graphic in my opinion.  But you can use it to see where the attacks have been taking place, as well as who has been making them.

If you want to study the graphic, I would suggest printing it out on a color printer, or, if you are in Britain, a colour printer.  There's just too much detail to see clearly on even a fairly high resolution screen.)
- 10:47 AM, 24 May 2011   [link]


Crime And Poverty, Again:  During the prosperous 1920s, the murder rate soared in the United States.  During the Great Depression, it fell.  During the prosperous 1960s and early 1970s, the murder rate again rose.  (For some numbers, see this post.)

That poverty doesn't necessarily cause crime, nor does prosperity prevent it, is obvious to anyone who takes a few minutes to look at those statistics.

But the belief that poverty and crime have a simple relationship will not die, even among criminologists.
The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.
. . .
Take robbery: The nation has endured a devastating economic crisis, but robberies fell 9.5 percent last year, after dropping 8 percent the year before. "Striking," said Alfred Blumstein, a professor and a criminologist at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, because it came "at a time when everyone anticipated it could be going up because of the recession."
Or perhaps I should say, especially among criminologists.

Professor Blumstein must know, at some level, the changes in murder rates in the United States during the 20th century.  But for some reason he has been unwilling to absorb those patterns into whatever theories he has about crime.

(To be fair, I should mention that one finding in the article did surprise me:  Crime rates have gone down even though we are keeping fewer men in prison.

I use murder rates, rather than general measures of crime, for a simple reason:  All crime statistics are lousy, but murder statistics are less lousy than others,  For somewhat similar reasons, we probably have pretty good statistics on car thefts now, but they don't help us much in making long-term historical comparisons.)
- 7:41 AM, 24 May 2011   [link]


Nile Gardiner Welcomes Obama To Britain:  With an updated list of Barack Obama's top ten insults to Britain.  Here's number 1:
For sheer offensiveness it's hard to beat the Obama administration's brazen support for Argentina's call for UN-brokered negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, despite the fact that 255 British servicemen laid down their lives to restore British rule over the Islands after they were brutally invaded in 1982.  In a March 2010 press conference in Buenos Aires with President Cristina Kirchner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Argentina a huge propaganda coup by emphatically backing the position of the Péronist regime.

In June last year, Mrs. Clinton slapped Britain in face again by signing on to an Organisation of American States (OAS) resolution calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, a position which is completely unacceptable to Great Britain.  To add insult to injury, the Obama administration has insisted on using the Argentine term "Malvinas" to describe the Islands in yet another sop to Buenos Aires.
With these insults, the Obama administration has managed to offend Britain — without getting anything in return.  That result strikes me as closer to perverse than to merely inept.
- 6:08 AM, 24 May 2011   [link]


Britain Gets Ready For "Chalaque"  In Punjabi, "chalaque" means, roughly, "smart alec".  Scotland Yard chose chalaque as the code name for Barack Obama's visit.

Scotland Yard officials claim that the code name was randomly generated by a computer.  But the officials may have decided to keep it after concluding that the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States is no longer all that special.

(The Guardian says that chalaque also means "Cherokee" — in Portuguese.)
- 8:39 AM, 23 May 2011   [link]


Stanley Crouch Is Even Harder on Cornel West than I was.
Serious black intellectuals privately dismissed West many years ago as no more than an academic loudmouth with a good show business game.  He has perfected a variety of poses - from academic to conciliator to rapper - that are intended to give the impression that a very substantial mind is mulling over something and will soon drop some rhetorical bombs that will blow away all nonsense.
. . .
A staple figure in American comedy is the pompous, educated fool, drowning in narcissism.   West has long fit the bill; [Melissa] Harris-Perry finally exposed him for those who didn't already know.
- 7:44 AM, 23 May 2011   [link]


The Best Coverage Of The Joplin Tornado that I have seen is at Gateway Pundit.
- 7:11 AM, 23 May 2011   [link]


NFL Crime Fighters?  Criminologist (and linebacker) Ray Lewis comes up with a new theory on crime prevention.
If the NFL and NFLPA can't come to an agreement in their labor dispute, one Baltimore Ravens' veteran believes society as a whole will pay — because there will be more violent crime.

"Do this research if we don't have a season -- watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game," Ray Lewis told ESPN.
Or maybe a very old one.  As I recall, the ancient Romans believed they could reduce crime with bread and circuses.

(Lewis does have some direct experience with crime; he pled guilty to obstruction of justice in a murder case.)
- 6:28 AM, 23 May 2011   [link]


Serious Or Satire?  Recently, there have been fewer puff pieces on Barack Obama that make you ask that question, but I still see them from time to time on Michelle Obama.  For instance, I would be surprised to see a piece on Barack that included something like this:
Michelle Obama, we love you.  Let me count the ways.
And then Kira Cochrane, a features writer for the Guardian, comes up with seven different ways she loves Michelle Obama.

As I read through the piece, I kept wondering whether Cochrane intended it as satire.  (As did many of the commenters at Lucianne, where I found it.)

I finally concluded that Cochrane didn't intend it as satire since it was in the Guardian, where you are unlikely to find satire on America's holy family.  But whoever chose that wickedly funny picture of Michelle must have thought that the piece should be treated as satire.
- 5:07 PM, 22 May 2011   [link]


Worth Reading:  John Miller explains why we shouldn't worry much about whether the United States is popular abroad.  Here's his conclusion:
Rather, history suggests that there is only one sure way for President Obama to ensure the popularity of the United States abroad: reduce the power of the United States or simply don't exercise it — either militarily, economically or even diplomatically.  The world simply distrusts the big guy on the block, and the only way to address this is to stop behaving like a superpower.   A much better option, of course, would be to pay less attention to foreign opinion surveys and more to our own ideals and interests.
Sometimes, as he says earlier (and as I have said before), popularity abroad can be a useful tool for an American president.  But usually it isn't, and we shouldn't expect it to be, most of the time.

Miller may have reached this conclusion partly because of his experience as "State Department ambassador at large on modern slavery".  He often had to offend foreigners in that position, since few of them would like it when an American diplomat accused them of practicing, or tolerating, slavery.

(Though our last names are the same, he and I are not related.

If you are wondering why you are seeing an op-ed from October 2009, it's because I have been digging through back piles of newspapers that I have saved.  You'll see more such items as I reduce the size of the piles.)
- 7:37 AM, 22 May 2011   [link]


Obama's Biggest Flaw?  Toby Harnden begins with Obama's problems with Cornel West, goes on to Obama's problems with other world leaders, and ends with this:
His habitual failure to connect on the most basic level could be his biggest flaw.  In his rise to the American presidency, Being Barack Obama, the blank slate on which people write their hopes, was sufficient — especially as he had the political acumen to know when people like Cornell West could be useful to him.

Now that he's in power, Obama needs to realise that other people matter too.
Obama may need to realize that other people matter, but there is no reason to expect that a man who will turn 50 in August will finally figure out something most children learn before they are 2.

(For the record:  Though I agree that it's a serious flaw, I don't think that it's Obama's biggest flaw.)
- 7:04 AM, 22 May 2011   [link]


End-Of-The-World Predictions From Greens:  Our "mainstream" reporters have been having great fun with the end-of-the-world prediction from a minor preacher named Harold Camping.

(None of the stories I've seen mention that Camping's beliefs are not exactly orthodox, though I suppose a few of them must have included that point.)

But these same "mainstream" reporters usually treat predictions from Green religious leaders with respect, even after those predictions have been proved wrong.  Brendan O'Neill has some striking examples of such predictions, including these three:
Because in recent years, end-of-the-worldism has been well and truly secularised.  Doomsday is no longer the property of the religious — it has been stolen and updated and dolled up as "science" by an army of misanthropic greens.  Environmentalist writer Mark Lynas says humanity's "tipping point" is in 2015.  "We have 18 months to stop climate change disaster", said Prince Charles in May 2008.  And yet November 2009 came and went without even a murmur of climatic catastrophe, just as surely as this Saturday will pass without Jesus arriving on a stead to blast us with lightning.  Greens are as consistently wrong as hot-headed God-botherers in their predictions of End Times: in 1990, the founder of the doomsday porn mag The Ecologist, Edward Goldsmith, wrote a book titled 5,000 Days to Save the Planet. Does anyone remember the planet dying in 2003?  Me neither.
(At the time, I praised Prince Charles for providing a testable proposition, for being specific enough so that he could be proved wrong.  But the world did not end in November 2009 and, as far as I can tell, people didn't laugh at him when his doom date passed, any more than they had before.)

Like O'Neill, I think that Greens are often best understood as representatives of a new religion (or perhaps a return to an old nature-worshipping pagan religion), and I think that explains why so many debates with Greens are pointless.  If a Green prophet of doom thinks he is protecting something sacred, you are unlikely to change his mind with a cost/benefit analysis.
- 1:42 PM, 20 May 2011   [link]


Iran And 9/11?  Here's the story, which I pass on to you without comment.
Two defectors from Iran's intelligence service have testified that Iranian officials had "foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks," according to a court filing Thursday in a federal lawsuit in Manhattan that seeks damages for Iran's "direct support for, and sponsorship of, the most deadly act of terrorism in American history."

One of the defectors also claimed that Iran was involved in planning the attacks, the filing said.  The defectors' identities and testimony were not revealed in the filing but were being submitted to a judge under seal, said lawyers who brought the original suit against Iran on behalf of families of dozens of 9/11 victims.
Without comment, since there is no way for me to assess the reliability of these defectors.
- 9:11 AM, 20 May 2011   [link]


Gail Collins Tries To Distract Us From Unpleasant News:  In the old Soviet Union, people were often able to guess what the regime was hiding by what they revealed.  For example, if Izvestia had a big story about a plane crash in the West, that probably meant that there had been a big plane crash in the Soviet Union.  (News of that crash would appear, if at all, in a tiny story in the back pages.)

There are American journalists who act much like those Soviet apparatchiks; if there is a story that would hurt the left, they immediately turn out a story, a column, or an editorial attempting to hurt the right (or at least Republicans) in the same way.

That explains, I suppose, this odd column from Gail Collins.  Faced with a sensational story about a prominent French Socialist accused of rape — she writes a column attacking Republican politicians for insufficient marital fidelity.

It's not that her stories aren't (mostly) true; Republican politicians have strayed though not, as far as I can tell, as often as Democratic politicians, but writing about them now distracts us from the big story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, perhaps intentionally.

And that Collins left every single Democratic sinner, except for John Edwards, out of her column, strengthens that impression.  It must take considerable resolve to write a column about sex scandals — and leave out any mention of Bill Clinton, the Kennedy brothers, Eliot Spitzer, and Jim McGreevey.

(Actually, now that I think about it, I can't recall any column by Collins that didn't strike me as odd.  Her columns are full of sneers and smears, but seldom make a coherent argument.

Credit where due:  The same newspaper that published Collins' column also published this article on the low standards of behavior at the International Monetary Fund.)
- 8:30 AM, 20 May 2011   [link]


The Judicial Filibuster Comes Back:  This time used by Republicans.
If there's one place where what goes around comes around, it's the United States Senate. Goodwin Liu, the Berkeley law professor nominated by President Obama to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is the latest to learn that lesson.

Liu's nomination was blocked by a Republican filibuster Thursday -- the first successful filibuster against a judicial nominee since Democrats stopped all 10 of George W. Bush's appeals court nominees from 2003 to 2005.  Although no one back then could have predicted that today's fight would be about Liu, everyone knew it was going to happen sometime.  Once Democrats crossed the line to filibuster those Bush nominees, you could bet Republicans would strike back.  And now they have.
Liu, Byron York goes on to say, was an appropriate target, with extreme beliefs even for a Berkeley professor.

There are legitimate legal reasons to object to making Liu a judge; there were only powerful political reasons for rejecting Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen.  The Democrats rejected Estrada because he is a conservative Hispanic, and Owen because she is a conservative woman.  (She finally was confirmed in 2005.)  The Senate Democrats feared that Bush would name one or both of them to the Supreme Court if they were confirmed, and so they decided to block them earlier.

(I suspect the Obama administration put up Liu hoping for a fight, perhaps even hoping he would be rejected.  Why?  Because he is a Chinese-American, and the administration was playing ethnic politics, as they so often do.)
- 6:25 AM, 20 May 2011   [link]


Is President Obama Bullish On America?   No.  Or he could just be ignorant about financial matters, including basic investment guidelines.

(One of the more interesting revelations of the 2000 presidential campaign was that George W. Bush had managed his investments wisely — and that Al Gore hadn't.  In fact, a 1998 Fortune magazine article looked at Gore's investments — and wondered whether he might be a "financial dolt".  More charitably, they could have concluded that he was pursuing power all those years, not money.  Since 2000, Gore has made piles of money, of course, though I can't say that I admire the way he has made most of it.)
- 5:14 AM, 20 May 2011   [link]


Matt Viser Insults Black Intellectuals:  How?  By including Cornel West among them.
Cornel West, a Princeton University professor and leading black intellectual, is harshly criticizing President Obama, a candidate he once supported but now calls "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats."

West, a former Harvard University professor, said during an interview with the website Truthdig posted yesterday that the president has not been true to his race.

"I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men," West said.   "It's understandable.  As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he's always had to fear being a white man with black skin.  All he has known culturally is white . . . When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening."
It is no secret that West left Harvard largely because then Harvard president Lawrence Summers didn't think that West was doing any intellectual work.  (And from everything I have read, Summers was right.)

If that sample above doesn't persuade you that West is not even a trailing black intellectual, consider this, which comes from the same speech:
Furthermore, West's sense of betrayal is clearly more personal than ideological.  In Hedges's article West claims that a true progressive would always put love of the people above concern with the elite and privileged.  Then he complains, "I couldn't get a ticket [to the inauguration] with my mother and my brother.  I said this is very strange.  We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. . . . We had to watch the thing in the hotel."
There is, as you may have noticed, a small contradiction in that passage.

Real intellectuals, for example Thomas Sowell or John McWhorter, would have noticed that contradiction in about a microsecond.
- 2:39 PM, 19 May 2011
McWhorter link fixed, thanks to an astute friend who spotted my mistake.
- 7:09 AM, 20 May 2011   [link]


Many American Journalists Must Be French:  (Though perhaps fewer than years ago.)  That's the conclusion I came to after reading this article from the Guardian.
Since Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest on allegations of sexual assault, the French media have been under pressure.  They are accused, chiefly by the US press, of cowardly observing a "code of silence" over politicians' private lives; of either burying or failing to properly investigate the Socialist presidential frontrunner's long-rumoured predatory nature toward women.
Or perhaps half-French, since our journalists observe the "code of silence" for some politicians, but not others.

A pro-abortion Democrat can do almost anything, without attracting much attention from our "mainstream" journalists.  Almost.  Most of our "mainstream journalists would, however reluctantly, cover a story of a Democrat caught in bed with a "dead girl or a live boy", as Governor Edwin Edwards put it.  (In some cities, the problematic pair would be a live girl or a dead boy.)

If you want examples for that generalization, just take a look at Ted Kennedy's long career, or the reluctance of our "mainstream" journalists to cover John Edwards' misdeeds.  For contrast, look at their efforts to find damaging material, of any kind, on George W. Bush.

Or consider what happened when Bill Clinton was accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick.  The evidence, though not conclusive, was strong enough to persuade Dorothy Rabinowitz, a fine journalist, to publish an interview, and strong enough to persuade NBC's Lisa Myers to put Broaddrick on television.  And then?  And then our "mainstream" journalists fled from the story like vampires fleeing from crosses.

(There has been some change.  I don't think that John F. Kennedy, even if he were pro-abortion, could get away with all his reckless behavior, behavior that many journalists knew about, but chose not to write about.)
- 1:10 PM, 19 May 2011   [link]


Seattle Gets Even More Reactionary?  For years, I have been amused by the way Seattle "progressives", as they like to call themselves, cling to old-fashioned ideas and technology.  They favor social insurance like the kind pioneered by Chancellor Bismark, and treating people differently according to their race.  They love rail transit and bicycles.   (And I could add items to that brief list, but won't, since you have probably seen similar things where you live.)

But even I wasn't expecting Seattle to go back as far Mayor McGinn's new transportation advisor has suggested.
The man tapped by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to give advice and support on transportation issues has spent nearly all of his career as an advocate for bicycling, a KOMO News investigation has found.
. . .
In a January interview with The Stranger about careless motorists who hit and kill cyclists, [David] Hiller said, "I'd love to hang these people up by their toenails at the edge of town and paint 'killer' across their chest and let them hang there until the buzzards peck their eyes out.'"
Sounds kind of medieval to me, though I will admit that the punishment he suggested might be an effective deterrent.  (I'm pretty sure his suggested punishment is unconstitutional, but our courts can be so, shall we say, imaginative, that I won't say that I am absolutely certain on that point.)

Hiller is now denying that he meant what he said, which I find disappointing.  Not that I agree with him (even though I do ride a bicycle from time to time), but I prefer honest advocates to say-what-is-necessary-to-keep-the-job bureaucrats.
- 12:22 PM, 19 May 2011   [link]


Let Them Drive Lexuses:  New York City has chosen a new standard taxi, the Nissan NV200 minivan.  (It beat out similar vehicles from a Turkish company, Karsan, and Ford.  The Turkish company promised to build their cars in Brooklyn; Ford intended to import them from — Turkey.)

Naturally, some cab drivers are unhappy with the decision.  Particularly unhappy are the six drivers who own Lexus cabs.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission recently passed regulations removing the Lexus from the approved taxicab list, arguing the cars are too powerful.  In the coming years, the city will be stripping the streets of nearly all taxicab variety, as most new vehicles will be the Nissan NV200 van, the newly approved Taxi of Tomorrow.

To the Lexus cabbies, that makes little sense.  They say their cars have fewer maintenance hassles and offer more comfortable rides — an attribute not to be underestimated in coping with bone-jarring potholes and sitting in Sisyphean traffic.  They have seen and experienced how driving more traditional taxis can damage knees, legs and possibly even the heart.  Cliff Adler, 62, worries about his heart.  Mr. Newmark, 56, says he drives a Lexus because it helps him manage the pain from his aching knee.
New York has given taxi licenses to 16 different models of cars.  The commission, which regulates these things, seems determined to reduce that number to one or two.

Why?  Probably just the desire for uniformity common to most bureaucracies, though I suppose, to be fair, that having a single model might help them control their costs.

But the Lexus cab owners (and their riders) show why allowing more freedom in this market would be good for New York.  If the drivers prefer the Lexus cabs enough to pay the additional costs, why not let them have their cabs?  And if some riders prefer the comfort of a Lexus — and some do — why shouldn't they have that choice?

And there is a long-term argument for allowing more variety:  If Nissan has competitors, they will have more incentive to improve their cabs.
- 5:00 PM, 18 May 2011   [link]


Mt. St. Helens Anniversary:  It's been 31 years since the big eruption.

Whereas geologic processes ordinarily take place with painful slowness, the transformation of St. Helens occurred within minutes, reducing its height from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet as the largest known debris avalanche in recorded history removed about two-thirds of a cubic mile of rock from the mountain, triggering a laterally-directed blast and a pyroclastic surge that devastated more than 230 square miles of timber and hurled a column of dark ash almost 100,000 feet into the stratosphere.  Fifty-seven people were killed, as well as about 7,000 deer and elk, and countless smaller animals.  Its conical form obliterated, St. Helens was reduced to a horseshoe-shaped stump with a 1.2-mile-wide crater open to the north (p. 257)

Since then, St. Helens has been (mostly) rebuilding.  That rebuilding includes the Crater Glacier, which is now wrapped around the central dome.  (You should remember to call it the Tulutson Glacier if you work for the Forest Service or the state of Washington.)

Heavy winter snowfall, repeated snow avalanches, rockfalls, and sun-shading by the surrounding cliffs to the south, led to the exceptionally rapid growth of this glacier.[18] Thus, the glacier composition is estimated to be six-tenths ice and four-tenths rock.[16] In addition, the glacier is very thick, averaging about 328 feet (100 m)[19] with a maximum thickness of around 656 feet (200 m); nearly as deep as Mount Rainier's Carbon Glacier.[2]

The best picture of the glacier I have found, though it is a little out of date, is this one from 2006.

Mt St. Helens Crater Glacier, 22 October 2006
(Click here for a somewhat larger version, and a link to the full-size, 3008x2000 pixel, original.)

Note that the two lobes of the glacier are convex.  That's typical of advancing glaciers.  Retreating glaciers are more likely to have concave lobes.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(More:

A collection of pictures from the old web cam here.

A video from NASA showing the changes in the mountain over ten years.

And, finally, a set of scrolling, 360 degree pictures of the mountain.

Next year, I hope to have a set of pictures from the new web-cam to show you.)
- 11:48 AM, 18 May 2011   [link]


The Shelton High School Prom And The Declining Significance Of Race:  You may have heard of James Tate's creative — too creative, his school thought — invitation to the Shelton prom.  (If you haven't, you can see the story here.)

But it is what hasn't been said about the couple that interested me.  Judging by his name and appearance, James Tate is white; judging by her name and appearance, Sonali Rodriguez is mixed-race Hispanic.

And no one seems to have said anything about that little difference, publicly anyway.

Sometimes silence is a sign of progress.

(The school has relented and is letting the two go to the prom.)
- 7:21 AM, 18 May 2011   [link]


Hurray For Hillary!  Since he left office, former president Jimmy Carter has tried to sabotage the foreign policy of every successor, Reagan, the older Bush, Clinton, the younger Bush, and now Obama.  Carter has never entirely accepted the verdict of the voters; he wants to continue making our foreign policy, even though we told him, quite clearly, that we wanted someone else for that job.

So I have to applaud Secretary of State Clinton's reaction when she was asked if she wanted to meet with Carter.
It's no secret at all that the Elders' trip to North Korea was viewed as extremely unhelpful by the governments both in Washington and Seoul.  Chris Nelson reported on April 29 that Clinton reacted strongly when asked in a morning meeting if she wanted to meet with Carter.  From the Nelson report:
The performance of President Carter and his delegation in N. Korea this week was either shameful or fatuous . . . or both . . . and exemplifies why Carter had no . . . zero . . . USG support going in, and even less coming out, per an alleged eye witness account of Sec. St. Clinton at the morning meeting the other day:

"Do you want to meet with Carter?"  Clinton is looking at papers, and just says "No."  Then she pauses, looks up and adds, "HELL no!!!"
(USG = U.S. Government.)

Good for you, Secretary Clinton.  And that little bit of profanity is appropriate, in those circumstances.

Carter has been an enabler of the worst regime on earth, the North Korean communist monarchy, and is trying to help them out again.  That isn't the way he sees it, of course, but that's the way it is.

(The relationship between George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter was tangled, to say the least.   Carter tried to undermine Bush's efforts to create a coalition against Saddam.  On the other hand, Bush was able to use Carter to help get rid of Nicaraguan dictator Noriega.

By way of HotAir's "Allahpundit", who has some fanciful ideas about Hillary challenging Obama.)
- 6:49 AM, 18 May 2011   [link]


All That Snow In The Cascades May Mean Problems For This Area's Wind Farms:  For the wind farms?  Yes, for the wind farms.
The manager of most of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest is running such a surplus of power from hydroelectric dams that it put wind farms on notice Friday that they may be shut down as early as this weekend.

The Bonneville Power Administration has more than enough electricity during a cold, wet spring that has created a big surge in river flows where hydroelectric dams are located.  The agency responded by announcing its intentions to curtail wind power until the grid has more capacity, in a move likely to cost the industry millions of dollars.
They can't just dump the extra water, because that would hurt the fish.
When water levels are this high, the agency said, it has no choice but to use the water to generate electricity in hydroelectric dams.  Laws protecting endangered species prevent it from sending all the excess water through spillways and around the dams.  That beats up salmon and steelhead.  It also creates so much nitrogen gas bubbling in the water that the fish get the equivalent of the bends.
And, though the article doesn't mention it, spilling the extra water would substitute expensive wind power for cheap hydroelectric power.

The AP's Tim Fought wrote the entire article from the perspective of the wind farm owners.  He should have balanced the article with what this means for a group that he does not even mention: consumers.  This spring water flow will mean lower electricity costs for me, and for millions of others in the Pacific Northwest.  I may be selfish, but I think that's a good thing, net, even if it causes problems for heavily-subsidized wind farmers.

(Last year, I speculated that wind farms might be more practical in areas with large amounts of hydroelectric power, because most power dams already have reservoirs where you can store energy.  The idea is so obvious that I should have investigated and found out that they were already using reservoirs to balance wind power in this area.  But it isn't a perfect solution, since the biggest water flows happen in the spring, when we also tend to get a lot of wind.)
- 3:33 PM, 17 May 2011   [link]


If You Should Be Unfortunate Enough To Have A Heart Attack:   You should hope that someone will give you CPR until you get to a hospital, and that the emergency team has a capnograph.
A little-known device is shaking conventional wisdom for reviving people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest:  People may be able to go much longer without a pulse than the 20 minutes previously believed.

The capnograph, which measures carbon dioxide being expelled from the mouth of the patient, can tell rescuers when further efforts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, are futile or whether they should be continued.
The idea behind it is simple enough:  If you are exhaling CO2, you aren't dead yet.

(Incidentally, if you are untrained in CPR, you should probably just give "high-quality" chest compressions to someone whose heart has stopped, and skip the artificial respiration.)
- 2:36 PM, 17 May 2011   [link]


Could There Be A Viaduct Replacement Vote Cycle?  The state is about to break ground on a replacement for Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct.   After the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, our local politicians told us that the viaduct is unsafe — and then dithered for years on finding an alternative.  (Governor Gregoire, as is her habit, finally chose the most expensive alternative.)

In the last few days, I have had a mischievous thought about what Seattle voters might want.

Three alternatives found backers among our politicians, replacing the viaduct with a tunnel (T) in downtown Seattle, repairing the viaduct (V), and improving surface roads (S).

Now suppose that we have three groups of voters in Seattle, none of them a majority.   The first group prefers the tunnel to the viaduct repair, and prefers the viaduct repair to the surface option.  We can write their preferences like this: T > V > S.  For the second group, let's assume that the preferences are: S > T > V, and for the third group: V > S > T.

Now, suppose we have three votes on the pairs of alternatives.  You can see that T beats V, V beats S, and S beats T in those three votes.  In this hypothetical situation, we can't really say what the Seattle voters want, because their collective choices are cyclical.

I won't say that this possibility explains the confusion and dithering on the issue, but I do think it might, and that it would be fun to see a poll testing for a preference cycle.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(For more, see this Wikipedia article on Condorcet's paradox; for much more see this article on Kenneth Arrow's Impossibility Theorem.)
- 7:53 AM, 17 May 2011   [link]


"California's High-Speed Train Wreck"  It isn't what is said that makes this interesting; it's who said it, the Los Angeles Times.
California's much-vaunted high-speed rail project is, to put it bluntly, a train wreck.  Intended to demonstrate the state's commitment to sustainable, cutting-edge transportation systems, and to show that the U.S. can build rail networks as sophisticated as those in Europe and Asia, it is instead a monument to the ways poor planning, mismanagement and political interference can screw up major public works.  For anti-government conservatives, it is also a powerful argument for scrapping President Obama's national rail plans, rescinding federal funding and canceling the project before any more money is wasted on it.
Having come to that conclusion — a conclusion anyone who can do cost/benefit analyses came to long ago — the editorial writer immediately backtracks, and calls for California to fix this disaster.

Why does the writer reject their own conclusion?  Because, otherwise they would have to give up on "Obama's inspiring vision" of bullet trains all across the country.

(There is something childishly charming about the editorial writer's belief that this "train wreck" can be fixed by the same politicians who created it.  But what is cute in a toddler is often dismaying in an adult.

I'm not saying that it is impossible that these California politicians will fix their own "train wreck", but I don't think that's the way to bet.)
- 6:09 AM, 17 May 2011   [link]