Friday, March 31, 2006

Why Canada Can Have a Morally Superior Foreign Policy
A position based on presumed moral superiority does nothing to advance the interests of the Canadian people. ... It is [also] inevitably hypocritical. No state is a bastion of moral virtue. If Canada, in general, seems to pursue a more altruistic international policy than the United States, it is only because we have been shielded from the most unpleasant aspects of international affairs by the United States. This is what allowed our former foreign minister [Pierre Pettigrew] to naively assert that "we are well beyond the traditional domain of power politics as played out between states." Because we do not have the international responsibilities that accrue from superpower status, we have come to believe that we possess a more virtuous national character.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

RIP, Here Lies My Youth

Today is the last day I am in my 20's. And I'm feeling fine. But even if I wasn't feeling fine, what's the alternative?

Isaiah 46:6b-8
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Attack Cat Has Catlike Stealth

Will wonders never cease. It probably has catlike reflexes as well. Maybe it has nine lives.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mathematic Theorem Can Describe Subatomic World

Why the importance? If the physical world has relatively obscure (to non-mathemetician) mathematical formulas (which are immaterial concepts) imbued into the universe, the case for our universe being created by an incredible intelligence is strengthened. This isn't the only case I've heard of like this.
Riemann discovered a geometric landscape, the contours of which held the secret to the way primes are distributed through the universe of numbers. He realized that he could use something called the zeta function to build a landscape where the peaks and troughs in a three-dimensional graph correspond to the outputs of the function. The zeta function provided a bridge between the primes and the world of geometry. As Riemann explored the significance of this new landscape, he realized that the places where the zeta function outputs zero (which correspond to the troughs, or places where the landscape dips to sea-level) hold crucial information about the nature of the primes. Mathematicians call these significant places the zeros.
It was a chance meeting between physicist Freeman Dyson and number theorist Hugh Montgomery in 1972, over tea at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, that revealed a stunning new connection in the story of the primes—one that might finally provide a clue about how to navigate Riemann's landscape. They discovered that if you compare a strip of zeros from Riemann's critical line to the experimentally recorded energy levels in the nucleus of a large atom like erbium, the 68th atom in the periodic table of elements, the two are uncannily similar.

It seemed the patterns Montgomery was predicting for the way zeros were distributed on Riemann's critical line were the same as those predicted by quantum physicists for energy levels in the nucleus of heavy atoms. The implications of a connection were immense: If one could understand the mathematics describing the structure of the atomic nucleus in quantum physics, maybe the same math could solve the Riemann Hypothesis.
It would also prove to be significant in confirming the connection between primes and quantum physics. Using the connection, Keating and Snaith not only explained why the answer to life, the universe and the third moment of the Riemann zeta function should be 42, but also provided a formula to predict all the numbers in the sequence. Prior to this breakthrough, the evidence for a connection between quantum physics and the primes was based solely on interesting statistical comparisons. But mathematicians are very suspicious of statistics. We like things to be exact. Keating and Snaith had used physics to make a very precise prediction that left no room for the power of statistics to see patterns where there are none.

Mathematicians are now convinced. That chance meeting in the common room in Princeton resulted in one of the most exciting recent advances in the theory of prime numbers. Many of the great problems in mathematics, like Fermat's Last Theorem, have only been cracked once connections were made to other parts of the mathematical world. For 150 years many have been too frightened to tackle the Riemann Hypothesis. The prospect that we might finally have the tools to understand the primes has persuaded many more mathematicians and physicists to take up the challenge. The feeling is in the air that we might be one step closer to a solution. Dyson might be right that the opportunity was missed to discover relativity 40 years earlier, but who knows how long we might still have had to wait for the discovery of connections between primes and quantum physics had mathematicians not enjoyed a good chat over tea.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What We've Learned About Iraqi Training Camps
It is early, but the emerging picture suggests that the U.S. intelligence community underestimated Saddam Hussein's interest in terrorism. One U.S. intelligence official, identified only as an "IC analyst" in the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on Iraq, summarized the intelligence community's view on Iraq and terrorism with disarming candor: "I don't think we were really focused on the CT [counterterrorism] side, because we weren't concerned about the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] going out and proactively conducting terrorist attacks. It wasn't until we realized that there was the possibility of going to war that we had to get a handle on that."

People Leaving New Jersey Due to High Taxes

I see it only getting worse. I have one suggestion to reduce the overall tax burden: no unfunded mandates from the state. The state keeps telling the municipalities all the things they have to do for schools and then give them little to no money for those mandates. That's part of the reason why taxes are so high.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Kidnapped Christian Aid Workers Released

They were rescued by the military. And guess what I heard on the radio. The head of their organization heaped blame on the military.

This is what delusion looks like. People who are sympathetic to the cause of the terrorists get kidnapped by said terrorists and are rescued by the "occupiers". And even with that, the group's leader doesn't learn anything.
The Christian Peacemaker Teams said the activists went to Iraq "motivated by a passion for justice and peace." Group volunteers have been in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations of abuse against Iraqi detainees by coalition forces. Its teams promote peaceful solutions in conflict zones.

"They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers," Pritchard said.

He also called for coalition forces to leave the country.

"We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq," Pritchard said.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

German Beer Purity Laws Are Overrated

Ok, anytime you throw "German" "beer" and "purity" into the same phrase, you can't help but be a bit squemish. That's understandable.

I'm all in favor of different brewing styles. The all malt, hops, etc. thing has its place. But it doesn't mean that it is necessarily superior to beers which use adjuncts like fruit or flaked maize, etc.
Faced with such massive quantities of beer, Germans don't shy away from blatantly lying to get you to consume your fair share. For example: "German beer contains no chemicals or preservatives so you won't get a hangover." The editors here at SPIEGEL ONLINE have hundreds of euros worth of aspirin receipts that prove otherwise. But the quality is indeed excellent and dates back to the first food quality law ever passed, the 1516 Purity Law which limits beer ingredients to water, hops, malt and yeast.

At the time, I understand why this would be important. Who knows what they would put into beer around 1516?

Hat tip to Greg.

Penn Prof. Examines Statistical Evidence for Point Shaving

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Scott Weiland and Axl Rose Going in a War of Words

I remember Axl took some public glee that Slash's first solo album wasn't a big hit. Velvet Revolver has been doing pretty well, so I wonder if this isn't a part of that.

I would also like Axl more if he stopeed calling his current band Guns n' Roses. He may have rights to the name, but you need more than one original member of a historic group to keep the name. Or at least that should be a rule.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Time Magazine Has First Look at Mel Gibson's New Film

Hat tip to the Drudge Report.

Captain's Quarters Analysis of Palestinian Self-Destruction
Israel faces tremendous pressure to knuckle under to demands from the Palestinians and the Quartet to allow at least "humanitarian" aid through Karni, but while it remains under attack and while the PA refuses to do anything to stop it, all this does is ask Israel to be complicit in its own destruction. Israel certainly understands the history of Western democracies hell-bent on appeasement of terrorists. All anyone has to do is read about the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938-9 by Britain and France in its zeal to appease Nazi Germany to comprehend why Israel has thus far resisted the pressure to open Karni again while the rockets fly.
I agree that the closure of Karni and the end of the Olso-based tax transfers will bring economic ruin to the Palestinians. They should have included that in their calculations when they chose Hamas and their radical-Islamist terror platform as their government. The Palestinians faced their own Karni crossroad, and it appears they chose the wrong path.

Michael Crichton Has an Important Essay About Needless Patents

I know it is hard to convey the importance of a very dry topic, but I hope my readers can push through and read the article.

Biologists Are Not Design Theorists

Saturday, March 18, 2006

French Protest Semi-Reasonable Change to Labor Laws

One of the problems with French employment is that is nearly impossible to fire workers, so employers are very reticent to add new employees to their payroll. In response, France passed a law in which employers can fire workers under 26 in their first two years on a particular job.

So this change, which should result in more employment, is resulting in tons of protests. If the French populace is revolting against it, that lends credibility to the law's credibility.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Conflict Between Scientology and South Park Escalating
While the "South Park" creators didn't directly comment on Comedy Central's decision to pull the episode, they issued an unusual statement to Daily Variety indicating the battle is not over.

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"

The duo signed the statement "Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu."

I'm American, It Is What I Do

I'll be having a unique green beer tonight. But I hope not to reduce an old and noble culture to drinking.

Here is St. Patrick's autobiography for your reading enjoyment.

And here is St. Patrick's shield:
bind unto myself today the strong name of the trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever by power of faith Christ's incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan river, his death on the cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb, his riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to harken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech, his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name, the strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the God of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why I Am Not a Democrat

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Incrementalism vs. Hard-Liners

Doug Wilson uses the current abortion battles to point out a historical truth. Incrementatists ride on the back of hard-liners to accomplish their goals. Martin Luther King has his Malcolm X, etc.

Hat tip to John Rabe.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Follow Up on Phillies' Defense

Hat tip to Chris.

Rollins looks good in this, and that's good. Abreu? Still coming out looking bad. I'm glad Rowan, next to him, is apparently the best or one of the best.

From yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:
Are you a Moneyball believer?

If so, The Fielding Bible might be of some interest. John Dewan, the author who works closely with sabermetrics impresario Bill James, has compiled a book that ranks players defensively based on a plus/minus system. The system is supposed to show how many plays a player makes compared to the average player at his position.

His formula basically throws out old-school statistics such as errors, putouts and assists, which are not an accurate measure of a player's skills, he says. In Dewan's system, tape of every play of every game last season was reviewed. The exact direction, distance, speed and type of every batted ball were entered into a computer. Players received credit for plays that other players could not make, while they lost credit for not making plays that other players did.

Got it?

Cutting through the intricacies, the Phillies, if the numbers are to be believed, were the best defensive team in baseball last season.

In Dewan's system, first baseman Ryan Howard ranked second last season among big-league first basemen. Second baseman Chase Utley, once considered a defensive liability, also ranked second. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins ranked fourth and third baseman David Bell finished first.

That's right, first.

"He has very good range with good hands and good footwork," Dewan wrote. "Although he doesn't have a very good arm for a third baseman, he has a quick release and good accuracy with his throws."

Manager Charlie Manuel often said last season that one of the reasons he continued to play Bell while he struggled against righthanded pitching was because of his defense.

Pat Burrell ranked 10th among leftfielders, and Aaron Rowand ranked first among centerfielders.

Gold Glove rightfielder Bobby Abreu? He ranked 28th out of 31.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Puerto Rican Police Lecture Cuban Official About Free Speech

I wonder if this would have happened if they played at UC Berkeley.
While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying: "Down with Fidel," sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with the velocity of a major league fastball.

The image of the man holding the sign behind home plate was beamed live Thursday night to millions of TV viewers _ including those in Cuba. The top Cuban official at the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan rushed to confront the man.

Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban official _ Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports _ to a nearby police station where they lectured him about free speech.

"We explained to him that here the constitutional right to free expression exists and that it is not a crime," police Col. Adalberto Mercado was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia, a San Juan daily.

Discovery Times Channel Show on the Da Vinci Code

From a secular perspective, they take down key elements of the Da Vinci Code. At the same time they try to take the claims of the Da Vinci Code seriously. The show is good at taking the claim seriously until it lowers the axe in a violent manner against false claims.

The most interesting information is that a lot of the claims, which came to Brown through Holy Blood, Holy Grail, derive from a practical joke from about 3 Frenchman during the 1950's which got out of hand.

Friday, March 10, 2006

O'Connor Decries Republican Attacks on Courts

O'Connor, in my opinion, confuses an independent judiciary with one that has no checks and balances on it. We have a judiciary with no checks and balances on it. I firmly believe Supreme Court decisions should be ignored or declared unconstitutional when they are wrong.

The Supreme Court can do what they do with a law they think is unconstitutional. Congress can simply pass new legislation if they think a previous law is unconstitutional. And the president can ignore bad Supreme Court decisions and refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Sad and Cautionary Tale: History of the Cubicle

Final Thoughts on the Port Deal

Opponents of the deal never gave me a scenario which would lead me to believe the ports were vulnerable, or at least more vulnerable. Anyone can send something from a point of origin far away from our ports.

I think all we did was really upset Arabs needlessly, especially those in the U.A.E.

UPDATE: Captain's Quarters Sums It Up Much Better:
The mainstream media had reported this proposed deal between DPW and P&O since last fall, with little analysis of the implications for American port operations. Until a few weeks ago, the story languished as a boring bureaucratic transaction by a boring bureaucracy about a subject few knew much about. Until radio blowhard Michael Savage grabbed onto the story, the media could have cared less. However, Savage managed to fan the deal into a veritable blaze of hysteria -- and instead of informing the public of all the nuances of the story, the initial reporting followed Savage's lead. Reporters and columnists talked about American ports being sold to Arabs and the outsourcing of security to foreign governments. When the actual facts of the deal started coming out, the time for rational discussion of the deal and the status of all American ports had passed, and the hysteria had all the momentum.
When the White House finally recovered its wits, stopped issuing threats and insults, and negotiated a second and more extensive security review and attempted to involve Congress in the effort, the hysteria got the best of them. After demanding that the White House cooperate with Congress and allow them a voice in the decision and getting agreement, they promptly shifted direction and told the White House that they weren't interested in more information on the transaction. Even as late as last night, we had Congressmen demonstrating an embarrassing level of ignorance of the ports deal. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) promised to ensure that the ports remained in American hands when the deal involved a transaction between the current British operator and the Dubai buyer. Only two weeks into the six-week investigation, the House Appropriations Committee passed legislation forbidding Dubai from operating terminals in the United States -- but had nothing to say about the current Chinese and Saudi operators that have operated terminals in American ports for almost a decade or more. It also didn't address the operation of state-owned foreign airlines in almost every international airport in the US.

It's a rare event indeed that leaves everyone involved diminished in some capacity. This, unfortunately, was one of them, and I'm glad it's almost over.

NASA's Announcement

NASA is about to announce that they've found life close to Earth.

Given that single-celular life has been around on Earth for close to 3 billion years, I would expect it to be blowback from a meteorite which hit the Earth. In other words, life originally on Earth probably made its way to Mars or something.

Update: Sounds like the NASA announcement will be a little different. It'll be interesting to see what the announcement actually is.

Update: Here's the article. Water on a Saturn moon near a thermal source (which is why it is not frozen).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ether is to Physics as Evolution is to Biology

From the appellate decision in the Scopes monkey trial:
he following statement of Dr. E.N. Reinke, Professor of Biology in Vanderbilt University, is repeatedly quoted in briefs of counsel for the defense:

"The theory of evolution is altogether essential to the teaching of biology and its kindred sciences. To deny the teacher of biology the use of this most fundamental generalization of his science would make his teaching as chaotic as an attempt to teach astronomy without the law of gravitation or physics without assuming the existence of the ether."

Here is a good description of ether:
in physics and astronomy, a hypothetical medium for transmitting light and heat (radiation), filling all unoccupied space; it is also called luminiferous ether. In Newtonian physics all waves are propagated through a medium, e.g., water waves through water, sound waves through air. When James Clerk Maxwell developed his electromagnetic theory of light, Newtonian physicists postulated ether as the medium that transmitted electromagnetic waves. Ether was held to be invisible, without odor, and of such a nature that it did not interfere with the motions of bodies through space. The concept was intended to connect the Newtonian mechanistic wave theory with Maxwell's field theory. However, all attempts to demonstrate its existence, most notably the Michelson-Morley experiment of 1887, produced negative results and stimulated a vigorous debate among physicists that was not ended until the special theory of relativity, proposed by Albert Einstein in 1905, became accepted. The theory of relativity eliminated the need for a light-transmitting medium, so that today the term ether is used only in a historical context.

Yes, it was settled in 1905 that ether didn't exist. A full 21 years prior to the Scopes trial.

Hat tip to Uncommon Descent.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rumsfeld Puts Press in Their Place
From what I've seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation, according to General Casey. The number of attacks on mosques, as he pointed out, had been exaggerated. The number of Iraqi deaths had been exaggerated. The behavior of the Iraqi security forces had been mischaracterized in some instances. And I guess that is to say nothing of the apparently inaccurate and harmful reports of U.S. military conduct in connection with a bus filled with passengers in Iraq.

Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side. It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues. On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq.

And then I notice today that there's been a public opinion poll reporting that the readers of these exaggerations believe Iraq is in a civil war -- a majority do, which I suppose is little wonder that the reports we've seen have had that effect on the American people.

Sports Illustrated Goes Into Gory Details About Barry Bonds' Alleged Steroid Use

More on this as I digest it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Iran Linked to Iraqi Insurgency

Former Congressman Supports Lobbying
As a member of Congress for 22 years and a lobbyist for the last seven, I take issue with the conclusions in "Shakedown on K street" that lobbyist "money is vacuumed up to Capitol Hill by demands from members of Congress" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Feb. 20). Do these things happen? Yes. Are they the norm? No. The 11,500 lobbyists work for every conceivable cause in D.C. A few pay to play, but most do not. Most give because a lawmaker supports his or her view of the world or the client's views. There is no quid pro quo.

Lobbyists are advocates in a complex system of legislation, just as lawyers are in the world of the courthouse. The true irony is that virtually all money raised in politics is not for the politician's personal benefit, for if it is shown to be so, he or she goes to jail. No, the vast portion of money in politics goes to the press so the politician can get his message out, thereby enabling the press to pay their airheads unreasonable sums of money and condemn the supporters of politicians for supplying the cash in the first place. If you want to take money out of politics, suggest that the press carry political messages for free.

Robert Livingston
Member of Congress (Retired)

Oscar Thoughts

Just because you say your brave doesn't make you brave. Make a film against Islam. Or about a conservative you gets blacklisted in Hollywood. A film against McCarthyism or about gay cowboys isn't brave. Hollywood wouldn't give a nomination to a film about Jesus. Now that would have been brave.

No Star Wars film won a technical award. The Star Wars prequels, despite their flaws, pushed digital filmmaking forward by a lot. Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and the Matrix were great technically as well. But Lucas' end-to-end digital vision deserved a nod.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

W.H.O. Organization Predicts Last Blond Will Be Born in Finland in 2202

I was thinking 2204. I was way off.

Hat tip to Tigerhawk.

Brokeback Morality

Let's put aside whether homosexual activity is morally acceptable or not.

Families are ruined, marriage vows are broken, people are destroyed... Yes, such a beautiful and poignant love story.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Author Makes Case That Grizzly Man Was an Idiot

There Should Be an Oscar for Best Comedy

Of course the author covers the eventual pitfall:
The only real potential problem stems from Hollywood's seemingly unending ability to make blandly predictable films in pursuit of awards. There's always the possibility that studios will simply come up with a new formula for "Oscar-worthy comedies," with big stars squeezing out tears between half-funny punch lines. We will call this the Patch Adams perplex. My solution: Create a "comedy branch" and let comedy screenwriters make the nominations, just as the other branches put forth their nominees.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oklahoma Student's Apparent Suicide Has Similarities to Middle East Suicide Bombers

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