John Kerry in the Pay of his Dark Master

Observe Kerry, in the throes of the Dark Side, as his master Karl Rove speaks through his body in order to boost Republican voter turnout…

(I mean, that’s really your choices, right?  Moron, or Black Magic?  Infantilized by money and senatorial coddling to a state comparable to having played checkers with Yog-Sothoth… or pocketing a fistful of cash and laughing all the way to the bank?)

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Terra Preta at Home

It’s been making the rounds here and there, and has finally gotten into Nature. (Note to self: cancel Wired, keep science rags, pick up Nature).

Was changing my clothes after a quick run, and reading 1491 (my new bathroom book: smart people may be able to read it all at one go), when they finally got around to discussing the Amazon as an engineered entity.  Okay as that goes… but just earlier I’d read up on the “Dead Zones” caused by runoff fertilizer. 

If Terra Preta can be applied to a wide variety of soils (and since the main ingredients seem to be charcoal and fish bones, I don’t see why not), then not only do the coal-mine folks stand to pick up an entirely new and highly-profitable new product, but home gardening might start getting a LOT easier.  Back in Hungary, where they have an equally-amazing soil, you can practically stick arrow shafts into the dirt and come up with cedar trees.

And there’s an easy way to find out:  the “Army of Davids” approach with folks testing at home.  All you’ve got to lose is some effort, if you have a firepot out back like I do… and the gains, theoretically up to 800% in growth, might finally square the circle between pissed-off environmental activists and farmers who know how hard it is to actually generate the Green Revolution food supply that all of us 21st-century Americans take for granted.

Pakistan Getting Serious about Madrassa abuse

(and by abuse, I mean Madrassas being used to crank out fighters, rather than “Madrassas cranking out intolerant badly-educated perma-unemployables, which seems to be all they’re good for).

Is the Pakistani government serious about terrorism?  How ’bout using attack helicopters on a madrassa?  Holy crap…

Better Sleep through Good Windows

Headline says it all.  I’m infamous for being a light sleeper (as in, I wake up when I hear the cat walk into the room).  But the past two nights I’ve slept like a million bucks, even when I shouldn’t have — last night was a Polidori Party, and I ate like a pig late in the evening.

Three days ago we finally replaced the last of our old single-pane aluminum-frame windows.  If you own your own place and are kept up by all kinds of little noises like I am… do it for both the energy savings AND the sleep.

UPDATE: 

This has now gone on long enough that I got up more-or-less at the same time as The Bunny, and went for a quick run-walk.  Didn’t light-body run, b/c I wasn’t awake enough to recapture the technique (though for savate purposes, I probably should do that solely, as it emphasizes lifting the knee, making it a closer muscle use to the constant kick-chambering one requires sparring).  But if this usually-getting-decent-sleep keeps up, I may actually be vastly more productive in the morning, instead of my usual fog lifting around 11 and then finally getting things done.

The Pill?

Alice:  Are you *sure* you’re on the Pill?

Bob:  Yup, I’m on the Pill.

Alice:  Prove it.

Bob:  Make me.

Alice:  (slaps Bob)

(And still, a putative three-month recovery is a darned sight better than what a lot of women face when they’re ready to start having kids…)

Mini-livers!!

Taken and grown from umbilical stem cells, it will be a marvel to see grumpy people who hate children having to deal with the cognitive dissonance of having their lives saved because a munchkin was born…

Moose!

Follow-up on the Buff Leather post.  I’m hip-deep in a moosehide.  Fluffy.  Sure can see why it was the expensive option for buff coats:  the hide is MUCH stronger than cow, albeit thinner.  Couldn’t get all of it fleshed and membraned today, b/c of a problem that means it needs to soak so I can get it to lay out flat, but it should be able to be laid out tomorrow, and finished up next week.  Pictures soon (but I’ll only include one of the gross ones).

Gay Marriage and New Jersey

So, just about the time I decide to support the idea of gay marriage (“marriage” in this circumstance being defined as “the piece of paper the State makes you get in order to validate your existence as a couple/mated-pair”) on 9th Amendment grounds,

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

… I see this, quoting two nationally-prominent politicians, one Democrat, one Republican.(HT: Instapundit)  And, although there are numerous very good religious reasons for disdaining gay marriage, I have seen none that arise from secular arguments (the only kind admissable here: I can invent a religion tomorrow that will make anything from Lovecraftian brutality to doped-out-hippiehood mandatory) that do not functionally boil down to “I don’t like it.”  The most compelling secular argument that would apply, which is the “marriage is for the purpose of procreation” argument, is one that is nowhere applied in US law:  witness the legality of the pre-nuptial agreement.

If the pursuit of happiness assumed to be a basic human right includes the right to pursue a committed relationship with the consenting, theoretically equally-committed adult of one’s choice, and no secular arguments more weighty than “I have an opinion about families” and “I don’t like it” are being offered, then the Gay Marriage issue has indeed fundamentally been moved into the category of a Civil Rights dispute.  And, in this case, that makes George Allen’s view fundamentally wrong:  the courts are well-within their powers to act on cases precisely like these.

Any student of US history knows where this is going.  Whenever disputes such as this pop up, they are opposed by all right-minded, normally-sane individuals.  And fifty to a hundred years later, the opposite position, granting the rights previously vehemently opposed, is considered so much the mainstream that the succeeding generations find the earlier opposition somewhat along the lines of a moral myopia bordering on insanity.

Thus, the unique process of assimilation continues in America.  From outright denial, to criminal prosecution (or assumption of mental illness), to persecution, to tolerance, to simply being unnoticed amongst the other ingredients of the great American Melting Pot.

Barack Obama in 2008?

They say he’s “well-spoken.”  They say he can beat the Clintons at their own game.

He’s a principled liberal who is openly skeptical of the free market’s ability to deliver on its promises, and outside of Sen. Clinton, he is clearly the Republicans’ greatest national opponent.

Because he’s, well, well-spoken.

Which isn’t, contrary to some flakes, a racist assessment on African-American speakers.  It’s that he’s a nationally-known Democrat that an unaffiliated moderate can listen to without cringing, and whom a libertarian or conservative can listen to while thinking “I disagree with this guy, but I respect him.”

Compare that to the rest of the Democratic field for 2008.  Why shouldn’t he run?

Egalitarian Libertarianism, part 2

To paraphrase Green, “in our society, how can you say that a man is free, if he cannot read and write?”

Where I part company with a lot of conservatives, and admit that many liberals are right, is here:  we do not have equality of opportunity.  There is no way you can compare the opportunities available to some of the kids I am teaching, who have never known what it’s like to have a neighboring family make less than six digits a year, to folks I knew growin up like we did (perfectly stable, but sometimes having to drive up to Grandma’s, b/c we didn’t have enough money for food)… to my buddy Juan, who was a migrant workers’ kid.

Then you have a gal who made it from crap poor and racially oppressed, to Secretary of State.  It can be done, by unusual individuals.  But is there a libertarian way to give a leg up to those who need it, without, in that process, falling prey to the zero-sum game of the socialists, who would help those who need a leg up by penalizing precisely those people who are managing to move up?  A lot of those folks in middle-class neighborhoods, and even a few out in the tract-mansions, are folks who started off like my buddy Juan did, without an address to his name.  Why penalize them for getting it right?

The President’s faith-based initiatives is one solution: there are tons of folks just itching to get some support for what they already want to do.  But that sits badly with folks who have legitimate reasons for being suspicious of anything smacking of church-state cooperation (as well as providing grist for folks who simply hate religious people).

Modern charities help, but many of them are run like they’re one of the Big Three auto companies… not exactly responsive organizations.  Can we, perhaps, do a contest?  Bragging rights and or a huge prize to the organization that can graduate an entire class of fifth-graders in Detroit from college?

One way or the other, this tends to be a blind spot in American libertarianism, and until it’s crossed, the libertarians are going to be associated with precisely those parts of the Republican party that they find most distasteful in the Democratic mind.  (And that counts, b/c there are many liberals who would gladly be our political allies, if only we could find that common ground).

On Being Sick

Benefits thereof:

The art of “projectile vomiting,” as it is called, is not generally considered to be an acceptable public sport.  However, its diligent practice, in private, away from those with, shall we say ‘sensitive’ constitutions, is an inestimable aid for relieving sinus congestion.

South Korean Biologists Reasserting themselves

It is just possible that some folks there have made a spiffier adenovirus cancer hack.  One should think so, if it’s getting ready to go to human trials, as Breitbart’s article suggests.  This is great news that will hopefully ease the general unpleasantness of the previous stem-cell fakery.

If there should be nationalism and national competition/pride, etcetera, then surely one of the ways it should happen is nations both cooperating and competing to see who can bring the greatest happiness to the human race.

Now, here’s the interesting bit:  if said adenovirus can be made to function as a broad-specrtum curative… then we may be in a position to start seeing a really huge jump in human lifespan.

Yes, skippy, thank you for that rousing chorus of “duh’s…”

No, beyond the obvious diminution of folks kicking off from cancer.  Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that some bright folks figured out that aging can be described as Nature’s Very Clumsy Cancer DefenseSenescence or tumors, take your pick.  Nobody that I know of is particularly keen to drop forty years off their perceived age, and thereby greatly extend their possible lifespan, if it comes with the price tag of being so cancer-riddled that you wind up kicking off from tumors within the year.

But in theory, if something like this, and its 3rd-and-4th-gen descendents were put into your yoghurt and breakfast cereal the way riboflavin is now… then all those people whose horizons have shrunk into a half-hour’s agonizingly painful and clumsy trip across the living room with a walker could be restored to full participation in society again.

If you want a we did that to be proud of… that’d be a hum-dinger of an excuse to strut.

And in the mean time, while we’re waiting, FuturePundit says “eat fish.”  Wow.

Boy, if that ain’t the truth.

Day by Day is a web-comic by Chris Muir.  I was going to link today’s episode, but my setup here isn’t wide enough to get the punch-line.  Suffice it to say that it involves sword-and-sandal epics and girls.

Day by Day starts here, and is really one of the better ones out there.  Well worth the time

Buff Leather

I have climbed the learning curve, and can now produce buff leather in my garage.  It’s thick, it’s soft, it has drape (or, it should, if it continues to dry as it has), and the grain looks exactly like the grain of historical examples, including variations within the theme (aka, I can explain why the King of Portugal’s harquebusier coat has a different visible texture than a buff coat from the Tower of London).

All I have to do now is set up a fleshing post (for which I have the materials handy), so that I can work raw hides, and you name it, deer, moose, cow, etcetera, will all be within reach.  Reindeer is spendy, but creates a particularly awesome lightweight and breathable suede…

so yours truly is going downtown to get a DBA on Tuesday, and is opening his very own part-time tannery.  I’m thinking “Happycrow’s fine leathers.”  But that’s awful pretentious-sounding, so we’ll see.

Robin Williams, Dork of the Year.

Let me get this straight; the film is called Man of the Year, and it is supposedly about how the system sucks, and therefore a comedian will be elected President of the United States…

because he tells the truths that nobody dares to tell.  And, he’s hip

Gee, where have we seen that before?  An entire generation walking around with signs saying “Nuclear War is bad for little girls and growing things?”  As if nobody had managed to figure that out.

No offense to Mr. Williams, and I really shouldn’t call him a dork.  He is a very smart, very funny man, and wildly successful at what he does… more successful, in fact, because a cross-section of Boomers and pseudo-hip disaffecteds will certainly make this flick do well at the box.  But will Mr. Williams simply let it be a film?  Nooooooo, he has to make pseudo-intellectual points that apparently nobody’s ever considered.

Just one problem:  our political system not only does not suck, it is a work of unmitigated genius, designed to survive all the things that human greed and evil can throw at it.  Mr. Williams, please take two aspirins to calm that fevered ego, go read Federalist #10, and call me in the morning.

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