Saturday, December 31, 2005

An Agenda For 2006

So long 2005 and thanks for the memories. The Wisconsin State Journal puts on their thinking caps and comes up with ideas on where to site in the political focus going forward. An Agenda For 2006
Build the economy: Wisconsin's economy is doing better and diversifying, thanks to hard work, innovation and quality education. Yet higher health and fuel costs, worker shortages in key sectors, an aging electrical system and government meddling threaten to limit growth.

Purify state politics: Tying all of these cases together is an insatiable thirst for campaign dollars. All of these fallen leaders, representing both major political parties, had to help raise huge amounts of money to pay for expensive campaigns to hold onto power.

Fix school financing: At the heart of the problem is a formula that essentially requires schools to spend at a faster rate than it allows many of them to collect in revenue. About the only way around the formula is to ask voters for more money in referendums, which are difficult to pass and hinder efficiencies while creating financial instability. Districts also have dramatically different transportation and special education needs, which a new system must better account for.

Frame Madison's future: Madison turns 150 years old this year. That's cause for celebration and for a retracing of the city's colorful past. It's also an opportunity to look ahead to what the city should become.
A strong economy is the best anti-poverty program and State Government should continue to remember the difference between establishing rules of fair play and trying to actually be the game itself. The balance of the agenda is entirely about the role that money plays within government and this many faceted problem is best left for the coming days. Tonight is a night for celebration and reflection. Happy New Year one and all.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

115 Cannons For The Border

It is good to remember that the war on religious terrorism is being pursued on multiple fronts. From the beginning, Pakistan has officially sided with the United States despite a strong internal opposition that supports fundamentalist Islam. The Pakistani Military is not a collection of Saints, but they have decisively acted with the conviction that their future is better serving along side the US rather than serving with the Jihad.
Pakistan Requests 115 Self Propelled Howitzers: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan of 115 M109A5 155mm self-propelled howitzers as well as spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, Quality Assurance Team, U.S. Government logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. This equipment is considered 'long supply' and is no longer utilized by the U.S. Government.
Pakistan has borders with Iran, Afghanistan, China and India so it is worth pointing out that the expressed desire for 115 shoot and scoot cannons is to improve border defense.
Department of Defense New Release: Pakistan will use these howitzers to improve its current fleet of ground defense equipment. The proposed equipment will assist Pakistan in improving its internal command and control of the mountain range bordering its county. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing the howitzers into its armed forces.
I find it highly unlikely that the US response to any act of nuclear terrorism will be nuclear retaliation. It is more likely to be precision targeting of essential infrastructure followed by some level of ground control by sympathetic allies.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Court Upholds Madison Prohibition

Mayor Dave savors a court victory with a self satisfied little press release.
Cieslewicz statement praising ruling to uphold phosphorus ban: The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld Madison's and Dane County's ordinances restricting fertilizers containing phosphorus. The Court affirmed Judge Barbara Crabb's decision that the ordinances properly regulated fertilizers and did not improperly regulate pesticides. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz issued the following statement in support of the ruling.

"Today's ruling is a significant step forward in improving the water quality of Madison lakes. The phosphorus ban is an important part of a long-term battle that we must continue to fight if we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy Madison lakes. We need to build on this important ruling with a comprehensive set of strategies, which includes efforts such as increased street sweeping and the new City program to build 1,000 rain gardens," Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said.
Regulation = Prohibition in Progressive Thinking. Mayor Dave obviously believes this prohibition is praiseworthy, especially if it creates an opportunity for increased government activity such as more street sweeping and municipally favored rain garden programs. I don’t love eutrophic lakes but I’m really wary anytime government response is a ban followed by proposals for more spending and regulations. I’m sure there are other means to the same goal but nothing as direct as direct government control.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bushy Evolution

I believe in evolution because I believe in time. I can not tell you anything specific about my ancestors five hundred years ago but I believe they existed. This little section of time is almost meaningless compared to the 500 Million years animal life is believed to have existed on Earth. The problems of knowing specifics about small intervals of change millions of years in the past is complicated by the increasing awareness that evolutionary change is not a constant, but rather it occurs in bursts of opportunity.

Animal Family Tree Looking Bushy in Places: Writing this week (Dec. 23, 2005) in the journal Science, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists … suggests that a branch-by-branch account of animal relationships over a vast expanse of time is difficult to reconstruct because early animal evolution occurred in bunches.

"As you go into deep time, these bursts of evolutionary origins become harder to resolve," Carroll explains. In addition to the complications of deep time, animal life sometimes has a tendency to explode in radiations as organisms exploit new or newly vacant ecological niches.

UW Madison Professor Sean Carroll is the lead author and in case you are interested his recommend reading list includes The Origin of Species (1859).

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Ongoing Clash of Visions

A very good article in Front Page Magazine by William Hawkins about the continuing challenges facing America.
Battle for Democracy Far from Won: The idea that freedom and democracy are universally accepted ideals whose triumph is inevitable is being challenged by counter-ideologies backed increasingly with armed force and a measure of popular support.
Hawkins covers the alternative visions of government from Chinese Socialism, to Islamic Theocracy and the good old fashion Communism increasingly taking hold in South America. The common factor in all these designs is the concept that a knowledgeable leadership should care for the needs of the populace. The article quotes French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau:
"We always want what is advantageous to us but we do not always discern it" wrote Rousseau in The Social Contract, published in 1762. The individual members of society thus may not know what is the "General Will." He believed that an outside body is needed to ensure that the General Will is carried out. This body must be impartial– above or outside politics, because democracy would not necessarily result in a government that was in line with the common good.
The pleasures of superiority are enticing and when merged with the pleasures of power it is not surprising that individuals and organizations achieving power are easily persuaded their understanding of the greater good justifies their control. In response to American pressure, the Communist Party of China (CPC) published a White Paper in October 2005 ostensibly making the case they are forwarding democracy within China. In reality it presents a Orwellian justification of the CPC being the sole source of government power due to their historic understanding of the right course for the people of China.
Building of Political Democracy in China: (link to Conclusion) Upholding the unity of the leadership of the CPC, the people being the masters of the country and ruling the country by law. This is the most important and fundamental principle for developing socialist political democracy in China. Leadership by the CPC is the fundamental guarantee for the people to be the masters of the country and the country to be ruled by law.
In the twisted logic of this lengthy paper, democracy means the people are the masters of the country and making the people of China the masters of China requires the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. It is the same style of reasoning being used by Iranian Mullahs, Venezuelan Chavistas and Western Academic Socialists and it starts with the belief in the weakness of the individual. I like the way author Gwydion William writing for The Bevin Society articulates the idea.
Why China Won' SubAmericanise: The current US view is built around The Individual, a Standardised Individualist who ideally would operate autonomously on a global level playing field where no state intervention was needed. They make concessions to reality from time to time. They can be realistic when they would get a serious pain in the wallet from acting as if they believed their own propaganda (unless of course the propaganda should be true, but deep down they are not sure). Despite which, most US citizens genuinely believe that inside every foreigner, there is a Unit of the Standardised Individualist struggling to get out.

This isn’t propaganda; what they did in the former Soviet Union and now in Iraq makes no sense unless the people running the show really believed that they were liberating something natural and pre-existing, rather than trying to create it in a very alien cultural context. In China, they had their chance and blew it. If they had rehabilitated Eastern Europe and Russia in the way that they rehabilitated Western Europe, West Germany and Japan in the 1950s, then they might indeed have secured global domination.

But back then, they were Keynesians, dominated by an East Coast elite with some idea of how to be a ruling class. From the 1980s, the USA has been dominated by characters who should be called the New Backwoodsmen, cunning at working the levers of power within their own society, full of self-confident ignorance about the wider world.
I guess I’m one of those Americans that believes that inside every foreigner there is an individual struggling to get out, only I would term it, yearning to be free. It is also classic elitism to confuse state intervention with state guidelines. Individuals need rules of interaction but what we don’t need is a permanent ruling class defining our needs and intervening when our individual desires don’t match the master plan.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Voting Rights and Election Reform

If you can’t win by the rules -------- either cheat -------- or change the rules.
Democratic Party of Dane County: Membership Meeting: Alternative Voting in the US. Jan 11, 2006 7:00 PM Concourse Hotel, 2 W. Dayton St., Madison

Patrick Barrett, UW professor, will speak on "Alternative Voting Systems in the United States" Patrick Barrett is the Director of the Havens Center for the Study of Social Structure and Social Change at UW-Madison. One of the main projects for the Center is the Midwest Social Forum (formerly RadFest), an annual gathering of grassroots organizations and community activists committed to progressive social movement building.
In their desire to reverse the decades long trend of national election losses, Democrats are actively searching for ways to achieve election victories so it is of interest that the Madison Dems will be starting their New Year thinking about how to change the voting system in America.

UW Sociology Professor Patrick Barrett runs the Havens Center which is the UW Madison Sociology Department Socialist Think Tank. In addition, Barrett is a Fellow at Liberty Tree Foundation, a group actively promoting voting reform in America. I suspect the Dane County Democratic Party membership, including Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz, will hear a theory of voting reform similar to those Barrett outlined in 2004.
Progressive Strategy in 2004, and Beyond: At the possible risk of oversimplification, there are three fundamental and interrelated problems that plague our political system, and that should therefore constitute the central focus of our political efforts. First and foremost is the weakened state of social movements that have historically served as the single most important counterbalance to the enormous influence that money, wealth, and corporate power exert in our society.

In order to maximize that movement's full potential, and avert the obstacles and setbacks that earlier social movements encountered, two other systemic changes are urgently needed. One is the replacement of our two-party system with a multi-party system. … Finally, we need to enact a series of fundamental democratic reforms designed to transform the basic rules of the political game. The three most needed reforms are electoral reform, campaign finance reform, and media reform, … Of the three, electoral reform is perhaps the most immediate necessity, for it would open a wedge in the current political system, making it possible for a multi-party system to emerge, and thus greatly expanding the prospects for all sorts of other changes, including campaign finance and media reform. The specific electoral reform that is called for is instant runoff voting (IRV).
Barrett and his like minded Wisconsin State employees are serious about scrapping the two party system as part of their overall concession that the current election process in America will not vote for their socialist goals. Details of election reforms the socialist left believes will serve their collectivist and statist goals are covered in their concept of a Voter Bill of Rights.

Totally absent in this progressive wish list is any concept that voting is a political right rather than a human right. This is a fundamental difference between the right and the left and it goes to the meaning of what makes an individual a citizen within a citizen controlled government. The left wants mass movements with voting defined as a human right, or in other words, voting as an entitlement arising from individual human life. For those of us who fear mob rule and group goals imposed at the expense of individual freedom, the challenge will be to counter this argument with a clear and positive defense citizenship.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sprinkler Fitters Falk All The Time

The next hot act out of beautiful Dane County: Falk and the Sprinkler Fitters.
Sprinkler Fitters Endorse Kathleen Falk for Attorney General
Visit the website: Sprinkler Fitters Local 183 and join in the Chat Room where “Messages are deleted after 96 hours and usernames after 4 minutes”. The perfect place to arrange those discreet cash transactions.

Prospective campaign slogans include: “Sprinkler Fitters Falk All the Time” and “Come on Kathleen Douse my Fire”.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Brett Hulsey: Businessman

With everything being so busy I missed the news that Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey is starting up a little business endeavor. Maybe it’s just me but the phrase businessman Brett Hulsey sounds … unnatural.
Better Environmental Solutions: Madison, WI—Award winning conservationist Brett Hulsey today launched a new firm, Better Environmental Solutions, to promote practical, real world solutions for cleaner air, water, and building better, safer communities.
The Capital Times adds the information that this new career for businessman Brett replaces the long time career of Sierra Club Brett.
Hulsey To Start Up Environment Firm: Local environmentalist Brett Hulsey has started a new career and company, leaving his post at the Madison chapter of the Sierra Club to form Better Environmental Solutions with Bill Redding, also a former Sierra Club regional representative.
So Brett is not alone as he has partnered up with office buddy Bill Redding.
Clean Water Action Board of Directors: Bill Redding (Wisconsin), leader in organizing Mississippi River Basin Alliance, staffer in Midwest Sierra Club office (Madison), more than 20 years experience with local, regional and national environmental issues, strong organizational development and consensus/coalition building background.

Charges of Racial Insensitivity Beset Environmentalists: "Let's admit it, this is one part of society that is not nearly as green - and by that I mean accepting of the broad spectrum of humanity - as it portrays itself to be," says Bill Redding, Midwest regional representative for the Sierra Club and an African-American.
This last twist in the story reminds me of a post I wrote last June in which Brett’s Madison Sierra Club office forms the set of the final act of the gripping drama.
A True Madison Activist Story: “Naomi Roth stated, “maybe racism will be solved in a couple hundred years, but the environmental movement needs to recognize its base of power is with the white middle class, and that is where we should organize.” Central Staff constantly reiterated the statement that “Diversity is not part of Green Corps’ mission.”
The Sierra Club has changed over time; one might even say climate changed, into a political cash machine. Just like in nature, living creatures either adapt to change or they perish. Again, is it just me or does the Brett and Bill Better Environmental Solutions business website resemble … say a resume?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pirates, Words and Women

Hat Tip to Letters In Bottles for picking up on the NRO article about the Barbary Pirates. I recall reading the historical comparison between 18th Century piracy and 21st Century terrorism in articles that followed 9/11, and it is good to review our history again.
America's Earliest Terrorists: The Barbary states, modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, are collectively known to the Arab world as the Maghrib (“Land of Sunset”), denoting Islam’s territorial holdings west of Egypt. … The Maghrib served as a staging ground for Muslim piracy throughout the Mediterranean, and even parts of the Atlantic. America’s struggle with the terror of Muslim piracy from the Barbary states began soon after the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776, and continued for roughly four decades, finally ending in 1815.

Although there is much in the history of America’s wars with the Barbary pirates that is of direct relevance to the current “war on terror,” one aspect seems particularly instructive to informing our understanding of contemporary Islamic terrorists. Very simply put, the Barbary pirates were committed, militant Muslims who meant to do exactly what they said.
I agree with those commentators that are persistently making the point that western civilization needs to believe that devoutly religious Islamic leaders mean exactly what their words express. Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse raises his concern that a secular West is choosing not to give credibility to the actual message from Iran.
Iran's Main Mad Mullah: "We can Win Nuke War With Israel": But you cannot convince me that we should not be taking the Iranians at their word when their President threatens to “wipe Israel off the map” followed a few short weeks later by their Head of State saying that Iran could win a nuclear war with the Jewish state. How can we afford not to believe the evidence of our own ears?
As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures, which is all the more reason to pay serious attention to the aggressive messages coming from Iran. An Economist article from 2002 makes the case that the mix of wealth and ignorance in the Arab world should be a concern to everyone and I recommend reading the entire story.
Self-doomed to Failure: The barrier to better Arab performance is not a lack of resources, concludes the report, but the lamentable shortage of three essentials: freedom, knowledge and womanpower. Not having enough of these amounts to what the authors call the region's three “deficits”. It is these deficits, they argue, that hold the frustrated Arabs back from reaching their potential—and allow the rest of the world both to despise and to fear a deadly combination of wealth and backwardness.
Freedom, knowledge and woman power. If you skip the MSM and read the stories of our people in Iraq and Afghanistan, these are exactly the priorities Americans are working to develop within these societies.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Wall

Winter frost heave can topple rocks so why then bother restacking them again?
Robert Frost: Mending Wall
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
National Conservative Weekly has thoughts from Rep. Duncan Hunter and a few Republican Senators on the wisdom of building a fence along our borders.
Hunter Promotes Fence, Allen Sits on It: Last night the House voted 260 to 159 to approve an amendment to the bill sponsored by House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.) to authorize construction of several hundred miles of fencing along five strategic stretches of border. … So, if it’s feasible to build, why aren’t we building it?

HUNTER: Well, because you typically have these diplomatic-type protests that speak stupidly of a Great Wall of China or some other nutty comparison. We’re simply talking of having a real border and asking people when they want to come to the United States that they come in the front door—which is, incidentally, the biggest front door in the world.
The comments from a number of Republican Senators indicate more resistance to the idea of a physical barrier along the national borders, as typified by probable 2008 presidential candidate Sen. George Allen (R – Va).
ALLEN: I think a virtual fence would be much less costly to the taxpayers. I think the key thing, regardless of virtual or actual fence, which would take a long time. Let’s assume we wanted to build the Great Wall of America, which can be done, it would take years and years.
Immigration and border control is going to be a primary topic in the 2008 presidential race and both parties will be fine tuning their positions on the matter. At this time the idea of building walls strikes me as symbolic, expensive and ineffective. People arrive in America by air, land and sea so an optimal solution addresses all three areas. Global motility is a fact and the problem of knowing who is physically present in this country is better served by funding improvements in verification and documentation of individual identity.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Universal Healthcare Red Flag Alert

Universal Healthcare is an idea that sounds good if you don’t mind turning your life over the government. It is a great idea if you have no problem with the government forcing you to pay the medical expenses of strangers, because universal healthcare is not about healthcare, it is about paying for healthcare. Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog understands the threat.
The Health Care Trojan Horse: On several occasions, I have warned that government funded health care is becoming a Trojan horse for increasing government micro-management of your life. The logic is that by paying for your health care, the government can argue it has a financial interest in your not eating fatty foods, not smoking, wearing a bike helmet, exercising, etc, decisions that would otherwise only affect the individual themself. For those who often accuse me of exaggerated paranoia when it comes to government intervention, check out this from the UK:

NHS May Not Treat Smokers, Drinkers or Obese: People who are grossly overweight, who smoke heavily or drink excessively could be denied surgery or drugs following a decision by a Government agency yesterday. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which advises on the clinical and cost effectiveness of treatments for the NHS, said that in some cases the "self-inflicted" nature of an illness should be taken into account.
Self-inflicted illness as a reason to save money by denial of treatment! Universal healthcare is entirely about the use of taxation to obtain money to pay healthcare providers, and therefore, this version of the golden rule applies: He who has the gold makes the rules. If Americans concede financial responsibility for their medical expenses to government monopoly bureaucrats, then don’t be surprised when those bureaucrats start saying no money for you because you were warned not to behave counter to government decreed lifestyle guidelines.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Corruption Trap

The Democrats talk about both why the war in Iraq should not have happened and why they don’t believe the United States can succeed. Many of the party leadership are openly pessimistic that the successful elections will lead to a creation of a true democracy in the formerly authoritarian country. A degree of concern is warranted since history indicates that citizen elected leadership is no guarantee of efficient and fair governance. Arnold Kling at Tech Central Station writes a cautionary tale.
Iraq and the Corruption Trap: If I were to pick one indicator to track in order to predict success or failure in Iraq, it would be the following: The percentage of Iraqi government officials who abide by the law in their work.

The World Bank's Philip Keefer says that young democracies are fragile because governments are weak. Weak governments, unable to sustain broad-based power, turn to corruption in order to retain narrow-based power. However, corruption discredits the government, making broad-based power even less available. This makes the government even more dependent on corruption for survival. I call this the Corruption Trap.
The anti-war left is enthralled with analogies to Vietnam, and there are valid concerns that those of us who believe this war is a just cause need to completely understand. Again from the Kling article:
Nonetheless, there is a valid parallel with Vietnam that is sobering. Ultimately, the United States depends on the local government for success.

From 1963, when President Kennedy increased our involvement by sending advisers, to 1975, when we evacuated in disgrace, the attitude of most Vietnamese people toward the government of South Vietnam ranged from indifference to hatred. Had South Vietnam been able to escape the corruption trap during this period, my guess is that the Communists would have been defeated. On the other hand, with South Vietnam caught in the corruption trap, there was almost no way for the United States to achieve durable success.

My guess is that, in many cases, the fastest way to get something done in Iraq is to bribe an important local tribal leader. Americans, in a hurry and looking for "can-do" help, will be very tempted to play this game. However, the long-run consequences may be adverse. Bribing an official to get something done is like paying ransom to a kidnapper -- what looks like a good short-term fix is a disastrous long-term policy.
Good government arises from both citizen control and the rule of law. Establishing an anti-corruption ethic may well take longer than the suppression of violent extremists. Leaving a fledgling democracy to early greatly enhances the risk it will fail and the true peace that arises from justice within society will never bloom.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Sierra - Clinton Club

The Sierra Club is a political cash machine and the group goals have long since moved past cleaning up a local mess or preserving a pretty patch of land. The Sierra Club wants to control nature and they fully understand this means controlling governments and politicians. The political reality is that oil drives the economy and Sierra Club goals can only be achieved by breaking that control. Hoping for Michael Moore style financial success they are going Hollywood to convince voters that they are oil addicts.
Sierra Club: Syriana the new geopolitical thriller starring George Clooney, opens in cinemas nationwide today, December 9. The Sierra Club is a partner in outreach efforts associated with the film. The message of the Syriana-inspired Oil Change campaign is as simple as the movie is complicated: We need to kick our oil addiction.
The movie will help fund more overt courting of political types with a taste for money and seeking new venues in which to exercise power.
Martin, Clinton To Meet In Montreal: The visit was arranged on the initiative of Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, who has known Clinton since working on one of his campaigns in the 1970s.
Bill Clinton plus the UN plus a humanitarian crisis is an ideal scenario for the Sierra Club, and now that winter has ended the hurricane season it is time to turn to a study of how the weather has killed lots and lots and lots of people. Floods, diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition mortality are apparently amplified by people driving cars in the United States.
150,000 Deaths Blamed On Climate Change: "Nothing will mobilize people like health. We can really drive the agenda," says Maria Neira, an epidemiologist who heads WHO's program for protection of the human environment.

After several years and much hard slogging, Campbell-Lendrum and his colleagues had their answer: the excess deaths from climate change in 2000 total at least 150,000 worldwide. That estimate was reached by comparing the climate in 2000 with the conditions averaged over 1961 to 1990, a 30-year-period that avoids distortions from year-to-year fluctuations. The excess deaths are a minimum because researchers tabulated mortality figures for only four categories — floods, diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition.
The Sierra Club loves to sell the lie that science is decided by consensus.
Doubters Struggle To Make Voices Heard: But the gravest sin in his eyes is what he believes to be the deliberate exaggeration of hypothetical climate change by those who direct the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is the U.N.-convened conclave of scientists that earlier this year issued three reports widely heralded in news accounts as the equivalent of papal decrees.
The Sun heats the planet and the heat disperses into space. No amount of consensus changes Earth to Venus.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Brazilian Popcorn Formulas

During a break the discussion turns to sharing a bag of popcorn and I make the point that popcorn should always be divided by volume and not by weight. Dividing by weight can stick you with all the old maids. It was implied that I was taking popcorn way to seriously. Not true at all. This is taking popcorn way to seriously:
Combining Abilities of Popcorn Populations: Material and Methods: We considered the experimental assessment of N populations, their N(N - 1)/2 F1 hybrids, obtained from the crossing of those populations in a diallel system, and the selfed parental populations. The phenotypic means in the diallel table can be defined as follows (Viana, 2000b):

Yjj = M•• + 2gj + sjj +
Yjj' = M•• + gj + gj' + sjj' +
YjjF = M•• + 2gj + sjj + djF +

where Yjj, Yjj' and YjjF are, respectively, the means of the jth population, of the hybrid between the jth and j'th populations, and of the n times selfed jth population (j, j' = 1, ..., N); M•• = mi + (2 - 1)ai + 2(1 - )di is the diallel mean; gj = (pij - )[ai +(1 - 2)di] is the GCA effect of the jth population; sjj = 2{(pij - ) + (pij - ) - [pijpij' - ()]}di is the SCA effect of the jth and jth populations; djF = -2F(pij - )di is the alteration in the genotypic mean of the jth population due to n generations of selfing, where F = 1 - (1/2)n is the inbreeding coefficient; , ' and are the errors associated to observations Yjj, Yjj' and YjjF, respectively.
The expansion volume (EV = popcorn volume/grain weight) of the populations was assessed in a Hot Air Popcorn Pumper H7340 (1,250 W; 60 Hz) from Proctor Silex.” I guess West Bend didn’t dish up the grant money for this research.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Making Agriculture Scary Bad

Millions of people around the world are desperately attempting to make a living feeding other people, and the intensity of the wording sure makes it sound like this is something very, very bad.
New Maps Reveal the Human Footprint on Earth: As global populations swell, farmers are cultivating more and more land in a desperate bid to keep pace with the ever-intensifying needs of humans. As a result, agricultural activity now dominates more than a third of the Earth's landscape and has emerged as one of the central forces of global environmental change, say scientists at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) at UW-Madison.
UW-Madison thinking has come up with a new way to use modern technology to make humans feel guilty about being human.
Food Crisis Feared as Fertile Land Runs Out: Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison combined satellite land cover images with agricultural census data from every country in the world to create detailed maps of global land use. Each grid square was 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) across and showed the most prevalent land use in that square, such as forest, grassland or ice. … "The maps show, very strikingly, that a large part of our planet (roughly 40%) is being used for either growing crops or grazing cattle," said Dr Navin Ramankutty, a member of the Wisconsin-Madison team. By comparison, only 7% of the world's land was being used for agriculture in 1700.
I should have known this much crisis hyperbole has something to do with cows. Without getting into any deep analysis, the message is too much agriculture is bad for nature, so fewer people eating fewer cows is good for nature. Mother Earth no longer resembles the eighteenth century but she no longer resembles Jurassic Park either.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Appeal Of Solidarity

Today went so bad at work that the appeal of solidarity suddenly calls to me.
Wisconsin Labor History 1886: In the late 1800s, most workers were expected to work 10 to 14 hours a day. In May 1886, thousands of Milwaukee workers demonstrated in support of a national movement for an 8-hour day. The demonstration turned into a bitter city-wide strike. The strike reached a climax when Wisconsin National Guard troops fired on strikers at a plant in the Bay View section of Milwaukee and killed five of them.
Getting shot, however, is a real buzz kill for the thrill of righteous indignation and by the time the labor riots reached Oshkosh the initial responses were slightly more restrained.
Wisconsin Labor History 1898: The deputies were of no account. The first squad arrived in a ‘bus shortly after the assault upon Morris. They alighted and were immediately surrounded. One of them, it is said, struck a woman with his club and this was followed by a general attack upon the men. The deputies then made little or no resistance, retreating in bad order. None of the deputies were injured, but their clothes bore evidence that the women threw eggs with a great degree of accuracy.
If Oshkosh women can still throw the egg with a great decree of accuracy, there may be job opportunities up the valley with the Packers.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Doyle Vetoes Medical Malpractice Reform

Hat Tip to Letters In Bottles where Steve and Brad point out the partisan appearance of the UW Madison Law School Professors that Governor Doyle used to justify his veto of Medical Malpractice reform. The Legislature is attempting to re-establish a maximum limit for non-economic damages subsequent to the Wisconsin Supreme Court declaring the prior legislation unconstitutional in July.
Non-economic damages: Damages for pain, suffering, loss of companionship, consortium (love of spouse). These are as opposed to economic losses, such as loss of wages, medical bills, and damage to property. Occasionally, laws limit the amount of "non-economic" damages which can be recovered for torts.
The absurdity of the logic in the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision to invalidate the existing cap, made in the Ferdon decision this last July, is eloquently summarized by the Governor’s Professors.
UW Law School Letter to Doyle: In Ferdon, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down a statutory cap of $350,000 for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, on the grounds that the cap violated the state equal protection clause. … By setting a damages cap … the legislation effectively created a distinction between two classes of medical malpractice claimants: those whose non-economic losses are less than or equal to the cap, and those with more serious injuries whose non-economic losses exceed the cap. The statute fully compensates the former group but undercompensates the latter.
Allow me to rephrase the Democratic reasoning. Emotions are not marketable quantities and therefore, no price or monetary value can be assigned to them. This is why they are non-economic factors. However, some people have emotional losses that should be worth more money than others, so a limit on monetary compensation is unfair to victims whose emotions should be worth more money than the cap. Finally, unfair should mean unconstitutional no matter what the legislature says.

Of course, logic has nothing to do with politics and the Republicans won't be able to figure out how to override this latest illogical veto either.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Understanding The Peanut Will Fall

One of the images I remember from psychology is an illustration of a rat staring at a peanut tied with a string. The string holding the peanut has been tossed over a bar so that the peanut dangles over the head of the rat and out of reach. The rat wants the food but every time it pulls the string the peanut moves up towards the bar and further out of reach. Seeing the goal move farther away the rat stops pulling the string, because its rat brain can’t understand that even though the initial action appears to take the goal further out of reach, if the action continues the peanut pulls back over the bar, falling exactly as the rat desires.

Today Senator Russ Feingold releases a public a letter addressed to President Bush in which he expresses his opposition to the War in Iraq.
Feingold's Anti-War Letter to Bush: Your strategy also shows that you continue to view Iraq as the central front in the war on terror, even though Al Qaida is the smallest of disparate insurgent groups there and even though it has a presence in more than 60 countries across the globe.

Focusing exclusively on Iraq, at great cost to our military and our budget, will not help us defeat the global terrorist networks that threaten us. What we need is a global, integrated, and aggressive strategy that utilizes all facets of American power and strength against a diffuse, determined, and elusive enemy. While you continue to focus your attention on Iraq, terrorist networks are strengthening around the globe and we are losing critical opportunities to counter these networks and defeat the most significant threat to the American people.
I don’t believe Russ Feingold has a rat brain, or that he honestly believes that the current Presidency is only focused on Iraq to the exclusion of Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, China, Venezuela and all of Africa. So if Feingold thinks as a human with human understanding that actions have both immediate and subsequent effects, then why keep pontificating that the peanut has not fallen at our feet yet?

Maybe it is part an attempt to appeal to the moonbats who truly believe Iraq is only about oil, with no connection to the global war on Islamic terrorism. Maybe it is his own sincere belief that war is always evil and the threat to America has not yet reached a point where it is a greater evil than war. Maybe it is from a desire for personal power so strong that it destroys relationships and justifies saying anything right or wrong. Most likely, he simply does not share the values that produced this viable solution to complex and interconnected problems.

I keep waiting for President Bush to answer these petty criticisms with bold explanations. The goal is to give Iraq the West Germany role to counter Iran’s Soviet Union model. It is to let Iraq play South Korea to Syria’s North Korea. The goal is to leave our military forces in place until the violence is suppressed and Iraq can achieve what Japan has achieved. It is to make this move with our generations turn in the slow advancement of human freedom across this planet.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

V8 Beer and Snow Dreams

December in Wisconsin begins with snowstorms. Regional Snowfall Amounts vary but Madison collects between two to three inches of fresh powder. Time to start dreaming about the V8 Snowblower I want for Christmas.

A 454 cubic inch big block Chevrolet...O.K., but in a walk behind snowblower? This unit blows the snow back to where it came from! This custom unit features heated handle bars (with engine coolant), full instrumentation with monster tach, hydraulic drive wheels and a host of other gotta have blower 'Bling' This blower has been in development for 6 years and has now finally completed its fifth revision.

It is now ready to teach Mother Nature a lesson!!!!

Two questions: Will it run on biodiesel and does it have beer can holder?