Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama's Change

More changes from Obama. From someone in Iraq.

Anyway, if Obama agrees that al-Qaeda is already in Iraq, and if he is aware of recent military successes against AQI, then the obvious question at the center of the election is, what now? Obama’s answer seems to be, let’s get out, but if the situation becomes what I already know it is, let’s resume military action to stop it. Huh?

Hat tip Glen

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Odds and Ends about Obama

Michelle Obama's had a few... odd turns of phrase as of late. A few days ago she said “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” about her husband running for president. Isn't that a bit... shallow? You'd think she'd mention some other stuff, civil rights or something else, right now the Obama campaign is getting disturbingly self referential.

In a later speech she said "Barack Will Never Allow You to Go Back to Your Lives as Usual." and indicated the use of presidential power to make people not be cynical and apathetic. The link has more info,

Combined with messiah rhetoric... it's creepy. It's going a bit beyond politics and into... worship.

James Lileks a great commentator on minutia of daily life and other pop-culture debris rounds out talking about his car heater problems and treacherous murals to mention something about Obama supporters He was listening to a radio call in show where the hosts were asking people to call in and say what they liked about him...

Follow the link to see some of the reasons. As I mentioned here it fits in with Rand Simberg's feelings on him being an Empty Suit.

The gem from Like's post:

There is tremendous faith in his ability to just wave a love-wand and get things done. I remember the same zeitgeist afoot in the land in 1992; change was the mantra then, too. Odd how things turn out – I’d be happier with Hillary as President than Obama, simply because she seems a bit more seasoned and realistic. And I do find it interesting that people who have decried the shallow, theatrical, emotion-based nature of contemporary politics are now so effusive in their praise for someone’s ability to move crowds. Perhaps they don’t mind a fellow on a white horse if he promises to nationalize the stables.

A simple hint, if you're a senator and going on national TV to stump for Obama... make sure you can handle softball questions about him. Like: "Name his legislative accomplishments." Did the guy expect to have such an easy interview that no one woudl ask him to give reasons for his support? I make fun of the MSN but they're not that bad... right?

I've mentioned it before but maybe this is why Earl Ofari Hutchinson thinks campaigning on issues and fasts is a "low down dirty trick."

Is this what we've come down too? I thought the 2004 campaign was bad, but at least the supporters of Kerry or Bush actually could say more about what their guys did. There was more substance than just "Bla Bla Bla Hope. Bla Bla Bla Change."

A bomb goes off in Copenhagen


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Good for Ryan Miller

I'm a fan of the Sabres hockey team.

Which made today's preformance a real shame, but disapointment is a part of being a fan of a Buffalo sports team.

But anyway I saw an interesting add today.

Ryan Miller in an endorsment

It's an okay add but neat, and fun to see his some clips of him in action.

Friday, February 15, 2008

End through Winning?

On the anniversary or the Surge's start Gatewaypundit has information on the changing situation in Iraq.

" It goes without saying... There would be no party, parade or cake today if the Democrats had their way."
Go read it. What's linked in there is more informative than my rambling thoughts. Remember, if the Democrats got what they wanted, this would not be happening. That's important to consider.

Hmm... Iraq having violence go down to a very significant degree. Their parliament has passed three laws that are very critical to the political benchmarks.

If things hold out for the next few months, something that gets more and more likely with each passing day, and if a democrat is elected to the Whitehouse will they pull out? Will they appease their radical left in the face of reality? Are they that cynical to destroy a fledgling democracy that might get it's start just to appease their base, just because they hate an ineloquent Texan?

Which would be more important to them appeasing the ironically named "reality-based community" or not screwing things up worse than Bush ever did? Bush took a totalitarian state and made it into a mess of near civil war and then let someone competent take over and start to turn things around.

Speaking of cake the new president has a chance to have it and eat it too. If things go well enough they can end the war and do it in the amazing way by WINNING it. You know... having more democracy, more freedom, more rights for women. How... progressive.

A more stable Iraq would require less troops, and the US has a long history of basing troops for decades in territory long after the fighting: Cuba, Philippines, Japan, Germany, Korea, ect... ect.

Would the new president do this? That depends on what they care about more, and how the reality of the situation goes. The American populace doesn't like the War, but they hate loosing even more, especially when it looks like victory is closer now than ever before.

Another.... post?

Two posts in one day? Wow.
Here's a few more links that struck my fancy.

Michael Totten has another great report.
He has some interesting commentary on the war in Lebanon last year and some US politicians that are drawing the wrong lessons from that conflict.

Berkeley... where the young and old both move on to relive past glories. Full of hippies and trendy revolutionaries. Careful, some of the pictures reek of useful idiots and failed politics.

Both the Democrat candidates meet with Syrian officials? Hmm. 'Realism' in Syria

Rand Simberg an bit of a grumpy aerospace engineer. Talks about a candidate with a lot of hope... and not much else. I'd recommend reading some of his other stuff. The things he says about NASA are deppressing, and true.

Meanwhile Charles Krauthammer puts that campaign in more... religious terms. And here I was thinking the Paulians were the cult.

Even for a politician, Obama is a very eloquent person, but what does he have to offer other than a notion of hope and change? What's an actual platform? From his limited record he seems to be a fairly standard if rather liberal Democrat.

Speaking of record. John Weidner comments on a new "low-down dirty trick--campaigning on issues and facts!" It looks like some people don't like the idea of others telling the populace Obama's voting records and history. Guess they'd prefer if he could just keep softbaling speaches that are political inkblots.

In more fun news the US Navy has an excuse to "shoot down" a satellite. The main problem with ASAT warfare is that it creates lots of debris that are a major hazard to other orbiters.

Unlike China's test this satellite is nonfunctional and in a decaying orbit, and breaking it up into many little pieces is desired. It's already falling into the atmosphere so breaking it up will dramatically decrease the odds of any pieces making it to the ground (whole heating being a function of surface area).

Information can be found on the very informative Strategypage. The usual suspects of defense procurement news have also written about it too.

Great site for anyone in defense engineering, procurement, military history, counter terrorism developments. All that good stuff.

There's more news. Of course there is. But nothing else strikes me right now.
Hat tip to Glen Reynolds the Instapundit for pointing out the links.

Also from him... a new Indiana Jones movie?


So I'll end with a bit amount infinity.

The number of counting numbers {1,2,3...,n,...} is the same as the number of rational numbers {All n/m where n & m are any integer}.

You'd think one would be the subset of the other and indeed they are, but the definition of infinity is that when you take something away it's still the same size.

How do we show that they're the same size or cardinality? If one can establish an exact 1-to-1 correspondence. This link has the proofs in laymen's terms. Basically Cantor's Set theory should give you more to think about.

Popular Science's.... interesting articles

One on a "green" Mach 5 transport.

I'm amused because it uses hydrogen (not a novel fuel for Hypersonic engines) which they kept bleating about as how carbon neutral it is. Which sure the plane isn't releasing anything other than water vapor, but how is the hydrogen being made?

That little problem was mentioned once and quickly pushed aside. It's a real shame, as it's a very interesting plane and the article could have given more points on the other problems of supersonic-transports. Like how to carry enough cargo and passengers to make it profitable?

Despite their implications Hydrogen isn't some magical perfectly clean and free fuel. It's gotta be made somehow, and unless you use nuclear power to provide energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, the fuel generation will pollute.

Depending on the engine efficiency, H2 production method, and power source, it could pollute less than burring a conventional jet fuel, but selling it as a "clean fuel" is misleading.

Shame, it's an interesting technology, but the article itself was not as informative as I would have liked. The information on the engine was pretty good. The variable configuration was neat giving it two stages of efficient running (Mach 0.9 for overland and Mach 5 for over ocean).

Again this follows into my theory about being a skeptical consumer. One has to consider what the article is saying and check it against the tools the reader has available.

An earlier article Fly the Eco-Friendly Skies has similar... problems.

It lauds a European Union system of carbon credits as a viable way for the guilty airlines to make up for their polluting. In gross terms a carbon credit system could make things even out.

That's assuming that the carbon release can actually be "offset". Accounting is also a major hassle. How does one balance high altitude release of hydrocarbons with say-planting trees or making poor people in developing countries use giant treadmills instead of electric generators to get their water.

This question of accounting is a major problem with Carbon Offsets and is what allows for so much corruption and weaseling in them. That doesn't even mention that they're modern indulgences for the wealthy.

Wealthy people, like celebrities, can buy off their "environmental burden" and go around in private jets (the article didn't mention thus but given how few people such planes transport pollute much more than airliners) lecturing the little people to use less.

And here's a quote from that article that is just... bad. "All those extra miles in the air translate into more jet fuel, and every pound of jet fuel releases three pounds of carbon into the upper atmosphere."

This confuses me. Obviously jet fuel is not some hypermaterial that somehow consists of 300% carbon, and even if the combustion reaction burned a carbon containing oxidizer that wouldn't add to the carbon release.

So the question is... where does this extra carbon come from? Maybe the writer is talking about the full production cycle of the fuel.

It would be nice to have this information. To know what the writer meant. Without it, I can only assume the writer is incapable of basic logic or at best is sloppy and has a careless editor.

It's not all bad. They had a neat if bland and short article on future Navy ships
With a handful or pretty pictures.

Never-mind that Defense Industry Daily and Defense News and Strategypage have more information on these ships and came out with their articles months ago.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Real Reporting

Reporting on a subject used to require journalists to actually be there (you know, reporting on an event), but with the advent of wire services media outlets could just take news someone else has made.

This is related to the decline in quality and oversight in news. It's very disappointing, but situations like the "Rathergate" memos the story was too good to care about the little facts. Like how the terminology wasn't quite correct for memos from that age, or used odd typesetting that wasn't really possible, or the most egregious example that a messaged supposedly written in the 70's would be a perfect match for something typed up in word on the default settings.

Journalists are supposed to be suspicious and skeptical, but many have shown a desire to look the other way when the story matches their own prejudices. See my previous post on checking a report's numbers for some obvious examples.

This leads to a simple question? Who's information on an event would you trust more: a person that witnessed it or a person that heard about it from someone else?

It's the issue of primary sources versus secondary or tertiary.

Which leads to the situation in Iraq. Some amazing changes have, seemingly begrudgingly, bubbled up into the media and then soon forgotten.

But there were some people that knew about the effects of the Surge and other issues.
What I'm talking about is primary sources. Journalists that are actually in Iraq, and they're not just sitting in a hotel room funneling stories told to them by stringers of dubious quality.

They're out there reporting on events, talking with the troops, both grunt level and generals, talking with Iraqis, from security forces to sheiks and other local leaders.

To name two, one is Michael Totten. He has also reported on the Hezbollah/Israel war last year. His writings on Lebanon are also very informative and detailed.

Michael Yon is another reporter of great skill and has reported on much first-hand experience.

Say what you will about the war, but wouldn't it be better to have an informed opinion?
To read reports written by people that are actually there?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Bookcases, rotting fish, and good fish.

Some Furniture is hard to find.

I've got a spare bedroom and a mess of books.

Naturally, I thought bookcases and some sort of futon. Make it viable as a guest room and a library.

I'd attach a photo of the room, but right now it's just got a dresser, a chair, and some boxes.

Now bookcases are easy to find... if you want regurgitated fiberboard with a paper printed in the pattern of wood glued on.

That strikes me as a bit... tacky, but maybe it fits my taste in books: engineering texts, aircraft reference books, Terry Pratchett, Clancy, and a mess of other books. No literary greats here, but I would like some nice furniture.

I live in a city of about two million people. There should be some place to get a good bookcase.

Oak is my goal, something with a good stain, or can take one. Another idea is glass. I have a glass-top desk and a glass coffee table for the living room.

I like the hardwood and glass combination, but... a bookcase is load bearing, and I do have heavy texts.

So I'm still looking.

Not the most thrilling thing, but I don't feel the need to prattle on about work. I enjoy my job, so no complaints there.

As for Politics... well... of the people that are left, McCain is about it, as for the democrats... those two are nearly identical on policy, which leaves identity, and they're bashing each other apart.

It's been an "interesting" primary, and will be an "interesting" general election too. This election cycle has been going on and on and on... and the prospect of it narrowing down to some sort of end. Well it's kind of like finally finding that fish that's been rotting in the ductwork.

Speaking on more pleasant fish, Asaka has proven to be an enjoyable establishment and I regularly go.

It's nice that there's rather good sushi available this far inland. I also like that it's not a trendy place. Sushi is still an exotic fad food, and crappy rolls can easily be unloaded onto trendy knobs that don't know any better.

I suppose I can keep more up to date on this. It might give a bit easer way to keep track of things.

Speaking of books, I have found a few good ones and will give some comments on them in a later post.