Showing posts from September, 2018

The Junk Drawer

The New York Times advises that if you hate leaving random stuff around the house, you need a junk drawer - a drawer reserved for all that random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else. I have one.  I call it "the garage." Now if I only had a place to put my cars.

Republican Senators Know They Are Sending A likely Rapist To The Court

The evidence, from Phillip Bump of the Washington Post: Grassley's abrupt adjournment, the dismissal of designated questioner Rachel Mitchell, and Lindsey Graham's ugly little tirade directly followed Mitchell's questioning of Kavanaugh about the July 1 entry on his calendar.  That entry turns out to point to his attendance at a party very like the one described by Blasey Ford.  Even more interesting is the fact that it implicitly contradicts a central element of Kavanaugh's narrative - that he and Blasey Ford did not run in the same social circles, because said party included "Squi," whom (as Mitchell's questioning revealed) was then dating Blasey Ford. It's clear that Grassley and or Graham realized that Mitchell's questions pointed clearly to some easy ways to check out Blasey Ford's story, and decided to terminate that line of questioning immediately. Note: The American Bar Association, which endorsed Kavanaugh, is now calling for a d

BK Once More

I won't pretend to be a disinterested observer, but Kavanaugh could hardly have done more to discredit himself in my eyes.  Snarling, Snivelling, Sneering, he was the apotheosis of a man lacking judicial temperament.  Dodging, filibustering and evading every significant question, he looked like the most unreliable witness since Donald Trump.  From the Daily Beast: The 53-year-old nominee shouted through his opening statement like an Applebee’s customer demanding a bloomin’ onion over a waitress explaining that Applebee’s doesn’t sell bloomin’ onions. Kavanaugh vowed to never give up, even though the Democrats were trying hard to stop him (unfortunate phrasing for a man facing sexual assault allegations). Kavanaugh had difficulty disguising his contempt for the people questioning him for most of the hearing. At one point, he started raising his voice to Rachel Mitchell before apparently remembering that she was the GOP’s ringer, hired to make him look innocent. He responded to

Elon Musk

looks like he may be finished, what with the SEC charges.  It's a shame, since he was that rarity, an original. He has seemed increasingly unhinged lately.  I wonder if it was a consequence of his 120 hour weeks trying to save the Tesla.

Kavanaugh: One Crucial Question

I thought one question from Senator Feinstein revealed more than his whole angry, weepy, blustering opening statement.  She pointed out Ford had asked for an FBI investigation to bring out the facts, and asked if he would do the same. He didn't answer.  He bobbed, he weaved, he obfuscated, and most of all blustered angrily.  He's good at blustering angrily.  I don't think his non answer was the answer of somebody who didn't have something big to hide. There is one more key question: will he, like Blasey Ford, take a lie detector test? I also thought that the bullshit about the "Renate Alumnius" was an obvious lie.  He is going with the choirboy defence, and I don't think it holds any water. Nope, he won't ask for an investigation and he won't take a lie detector test.  And yes, it sure looked like he was lying his ass off wrt drinking, drunkenness, and sexual claims.  Lindsey Graham was an embarrassment - you would think she had passed meno


Despite the love lavished on Brett Kavanaugh by every right-winger from Sean Hannity to Amy Chua to ..., his nomination to be one of the Supreme's looks to be hanging by a thread.  Unless there is a total collapse of the witnesses against him, I don't think the Judiciary Committee can resist calling for an FBI investigation, and only that has a chance to clear him.  I would be surprised if he is able to keep his present position on the bench. Of course my record as a prophet is probably better only than that of Star Trek's Mr. Spock, whose precision of predicting probabilities was only exceeded by his consistent inaccuracy. UPDATE: So far the most obvious result is to demonstrate that Grassley is totally incompetent at even engineering an obvious cover-up.  His ridiculous five minute rule has made his designated prosecutor unable to finish questions or construct a coherent narrative.  If Kavanaugh is not guilty of something, why the frantic effort to hide and obscure hi

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

The WaPo has a nice picture story featuring an Arctic lake that's leaking methane like crazy. Methane, of course, is a greenhouse gas that's far more potent than CO2 but has a relatively short half life in the atmosphere - over twenty years it is about 85 times as potent as CO2, but most of it is converted to CO2 in less than 100 years. Melting permafrost is a source of greenhouse gases, but this lake's methane has a chemical signature of carbon that's been buried for a long time, and it's feared that this may be a signature of a major reservoir.  If these turn out to be common, they could be a powerful positive feedback for global warming.

The Farmer and the Cowman Can't be Friends?

Yet another chapter in a five or six thousand year old drama between farmers and herders is playing out in Nigeria today.  From the NYT: Across parts of Nigeria , conflicts that mirror the 20th Century range wars in the American West have broken out between farmers and herdsmen vying for land, leading to bloody battles. Twentieth Century?  Sure you don't mean largely in the late Nineteenth Century?   Nevermind.  This war started when the early Indo-Europeans overan Europe and Asia. The core problem, though, is as modern as it is ancient (NYT again): Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Kenya and other  areas across the continent where populations are rising struggle with the problem as well. Here in Nigeria, where the population has quadrupled in the past 60 years to nearly 200 million, the fighting has been so fierce that the government deployed the military to contain some of the battles. It might be more efficacious to deploy birth control pills and education for women.

Really Stupid Stuff I Read in the New York Times

Sam Tanenhaus on Atlas Shrugged, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and John von Neumann: The advance guard of Cold War planners, space and weapons theorists like J. Robert Oppenheimer, John von Neumann and James R. Killian, the president of M.I.T., chosen by Eisenhower to oversee the creation of NASA, were administrators rather than doers, unlike the executives at New York Central Railroad and Kaiser Steel whom Rand had interviewed while writing “Atlas Shrugged.” It would be hard to imagine a more monumental mischaracterization of Oppenheimer, and von Neumann, especially.  Not only did von Neumann essentially invent the modern digital computer, but he was also a profoundly creative mathematician.  Tanenhaus not only gets administrator vs. doer completely backwards, he also confuses Galt and Rearden, a couple of the cardboard characters in AS.

Where the Stars Live

If you've ever spent any time under clear dark skies, you've seen the cloudy band of light running across the sky that we call the Milky Way.  Its name comes from the resemblance the ancient Greeks saw to  milk, which gives us our other name for it, the Galaxy.  Galileo was the first to penetrate the nature of this cloudy band of light when he turned his telescope upon it and saw a myriad of stars. As telescopes and astronomical techniques improved it became clear that the Milky Way, our galaxy, was a sort of island universe in which our star, the Sun, was embedded as one of enormously many stars.  There are a few other cloudy patches of light in the sky, three of which are visible to the keen eyed - Andromeda and, very prominent in the Southern Hemisphere, the Magellanic Clouds.  There are also more temporary cloudy glows, the comets, which were long found more interesting.  Telescopes revealed ever more of these cloudy patches. It eventually became clear that at least som

Kavanaugh and Rape?

According to a letter received by a couple Democratic lawmakers, as a high school student Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape the author while she was in high school.  It's a serious charge, and it deserves careful consideration even it was a long time ago.  It's been a while since Justice Thomas (very likely) lied his way on to the Supreme Court, with plenty of help from good old boys Arlen Specter and Joe Biden, and it looks like Kavanaugh is on his way to a similar feat. Of course Kavanaugh denies it and his alleged helper claims not to remember.  Say what?  You assisted in so many rapes that you can't be expected to remember every one or what? Usually sexual abusers don't stop at one, so if BK is guilty, there might be other women out there.  If so, I certainly hope some have the courage to tell their stories.   It's probably too late in recent history to think that highly skilled Jurists are unlikely to be sexual abusers - everything we

Conservative Theory and Conservative Humbug

Those who pass for conservative intellectuals usually have some principles they like to claim as foundational: small government, states rights, that old time religion.  It can't be denied that humans have some tendencies well described by the word "conservative" - the impulse to resist change, especially change that might be personally inconvenient.  My contention, though, is that conservative theory is essentially humbug - an intellectual Potemkin village to distract us from the real objectives of those who claim to be conservatives. What about the small government claim?  It's true that modern American conservatism wants to shrink some government functions - any such that attempt to protect the citizenry from the depredations of the rich.  Of course they are also quick to attempt to regulate the most fundamental aspects of private life - anti abortion fanaticism is one of the key motors of the current conservative dominance. Conservatism has two key kinds of sup

Taking Offence

At a recent wedding party I happened to be seated next to a teen-aged girl.  She asked me what my ethnicity was.  I replied that I was some kind of Northern European stew.  23 and Me says English, Irish, German, French and Scandinavian with a dash of Central European.  She said that she was Chinese and Japanese. I mention this because it has become fashionable in some circles to claim that any questions about ethnicity are micro-aggressions.  I'm pretty sure that this young lady was either just curious or just wanted an excuse to talk about herself.  We did then have an ordinary conversation which wasn't about ethnicity. Shortly after, I heard the story of a professor lecturing her anthropology class happened to use the word "Oriental" in describing people from the Orient.  The whole class then got up and left the room in protest.  No doubt they were all deeply offended - especially the Caucasians.  The fact that the Professor herself was of Japanese extraction ap


I live about half a block from an elementary school.  Every day a long procession of cars appears on the surrounding streets as parents of kids more than a couple of blocks away drop off their kids.  Of course kids that live more than a few blocks away are picked up and delivered by school bus.  Often as not, those children on the block are walked to school by a parent. This didn't surprise me too much of this since I sometimes walked my own five year old to school, clinging and protesting, only to see him greeted by the other students like a minor rock star (girls flirting, boys high-fiving).  Of course when I asked him about this, he quite logically replied "I just hate giving up my freedom." Of course, like others of my generation, I walked to school a mile or so myself. Anyway, I didn't think much about the modern system until I read this WaPo story by a mother who sent her son to school in Japan: All Japanese children go to school on their own. My son at