Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Nanny State Says Take a Nap

I keep telling people to keep an eye on France. The creative minds of the nanny state are dreaming up ideas that will eventually be introduced to America. Think about it a moment, who is going to vote against Hillary when she campaigns for paid nap time?

Too tired to work? Then have a snooze: They already enjoy Europe’s shortest working week. Now French workers are to be encouraged to have a nap after lunch. The state-backed siesta is part of a €7 million (£4.7 million) campaign begun yesterday by the Health Ministry to encourage the French to sleep more and better. A third of the population does not sleep enough, experts say.

“Sleep must not be trivialized,” Xavier Bertrand, the Health Minister, said. The after-lunch nap is to be introduced by volunteer companies and studied for results. It could then be recommended for all employees, the minister said.

OK, so the idea is still in the planning stages but the key elements for success are all present. It is pro-worker, pro-health and uses rich people’s money that would otherwise be wasted as profits. With a little thought it can probably be justified as being for the children too.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Tuesday Night in January

It is time to write the property tax check. Time to place it in the pretty yellow envelop and stick a rat stamp on it. Thank you US Postal Service for remembering the Chinese have a year of the rodent. Drive to the big line of drop boxes and wave the money goodbye as it heads off to buy top of the line health insurance for all the union teachers. Mosey over to the Brew Pub for a pint and a quick listen to the house band. Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone and the Statesboro Blues. Drift back home consoled we have the government we deserve.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bracing for the Planned Anxiety Onslaught

A tsunami of vague scary predictions is about to crash onto the structure of the modern economy. As a global warming denier there is nothing to due but brace for the impact and hope for survival by hanging onto the principles of sound science.

We Are Doomed Doomed Doomed: Friday sees the release of a vast report on the science of global warming written by the experts of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). … The report will say that it is "highly unlikely (less than 5%)" that observed warming and ice loss are due to natural factors, and that human activity will increase global temperatures, sea levels and extreme weather events in coming decades.

Rumors circulating in advance of the official release speculate that predictions from over twenty different computer models have been reviewed. Since no two computer games seem to be reproducing the exact same results the United Nations simply decides consensus is the new science. There are whispers that some programming produces horrible visions of the future.

New Climate Model Predicts Greater 21st Century Warming: For the first time, scientists have incorporated multiple human and natural factors into a climate projection model. They predict that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, due to changes in the carbon cycle, combined with a decrease in human-produced sulphates, may cause accelerated global warming during the 21st century, as compared with simulations without these feedback effects.

No … not just accelerated changes … unstoppable earth killing changes!!!!!

Next decade 'crucial' on warming: Such an unstoppable climate change could occur if greenhouse gases continue to grow and temperatures increase in kind, researchers warn, causing the planet's once stable natural systems to lose their equilibrium permanently. The researchers maintain that if specific changes do not occur soon, Earth's once stable environment could become increasingly inhospitable and potentially disastrous during the 2040s, the newspaper said.

Showing fearlessness in the face of the looming apocalypse, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle announces a plan to fight global warming by forming a task force. My first question to the committee is going to be: If carbon dioxide is so good at trapping heat, then how do you explain cold beer? I may as well ask. I am a global warming denier, they already think I’m a retard.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Dead Man in Istanbul

The Nation, an extreme left wing publication, posts an obituary of a murdered journalist.

Hrant Dink (1954-2007) Hrant Dink, the courageous editor of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, was murdered in the middle of the day on Friday, January 19, on a city street in front of his office in Istanbul, by a 17-year-old man he had never met.

Hrant Dink was outspoken under Turkish jurisdiction where speaking certain political opinions can trigger arrest, conviction or worse.

A long road ahead for Turkey: In Turkey, people are prosecuted and sometimes murdered because they are of an ethnic group or religion that others do not like. And the law, specifically Article 301 of the penal code, sends people to prison for their ideas when these ideas are taken as “an insult to Turkish identity.” Sometimes this law provides the twisted justification for those who turn convictions into death sentences.

Even as the juvenile killer and associates are moved into solitary confinement, the newspaper Zaman reports 'Crime does pay' for growing number of disillusioned youth. The Islamic country of Turkey is having internal problems and long time observers are going public with concerns about the present government and its control over the ancient populations.

Turkey’s suicide: With Salafism - the Saudi brand of radical Islam - biting into the Turkish political jugular, the joke is that the despised Bedouins of Arabia have finally conquered the "Ottoman Empire." The most primitive and backward form of Islam is increasingly at home in the heartlands that had formed the core of the most powerful Muslim state for five centuries. Now the question isn't whether our old ally can overcome its internal difficulties, but which of its troubles will overwhelm it first.

Turkey's educated elite is in much the same position as Germany's elite during Hitler's rise to power. Imagining that the Islamists would sputter out, progressive Turks failed to act. Now Turkish civilization - so great for so many centuries - is unraveling the way Germany's did in the 1930s. Turkish intellectuals made the classic error of underestimating the common man's capacity for hatred and lust for blind revenge.

Salafism is a fundamentalist practice of Islam. There are five pillars to the faith and second only to the belief that a human warlord was the last temporal prophet of an eternal divinity, is the duty to the Salah. Five bows towards Mecca per day.

Salah is an Arabic word to mean a spiritual relationship and communication between the creature and his Creator. Salah is one of the five pillars of Islam. Salah is to be performed with mental concentration, verbal communication, vocal recitation, and physical movement to attain the spiritual uplift, peace, harmony, and concord. Salah is not to be confused with prayer; the latter could be interpreted as supplication (Du'a).

Prostrating the body into submission is not prayer as the west understands the meaning of the word. The Salah is an act of ritual obedience to divine authority as expressed by humans. Combined with “the common man's capacity for hatred and lust for blind revenge” the mixture becomes very deadly.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Putting the Focus on Iran

Iran is not happy that US forces are going to treat Iranian advisors to Iraq insurgent groups as the legitimate military forces. Alaoddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran’s National Security Commission says "Such moves are deemed as terrorist measures and are in blatant contradiction to the international rules and regulations". Kind of ironic coming from a government born out of embassy seizure with hostages.

From the beginning, Iran actively supports local anti-US actions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The western press obsessively focuses on violence with virtually no coverage of the economic efforts necessary for stability in both countries. The Jamestown Foundation points out that Iran is working the foreign aid and trade gambit in Afghanistan in hopes of producing a Tehran friendly client state.

Iranian Involvement in Afghanistan: Some regional experts argue that Iran is using the political tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan in its favor, leveraging the fact that Iran is the only route by which Afghanistan can maintain foreign trade. Afghanistan is becoming increasingly dependent on Iran for its transit trade route as a result of the tense Afghan-Pakistan relationship. Through this route, Afghanistan receives key imports such as electronic equipment, cars and spare parts—much of which originates in Japan. Food, clothing and other essential products are also supplied through Iran. This reality limits Washington's options to pressure Tehran since if Iran blocks its border, the Afghan economy could collapse.

In the meantime, the Iranian government is active in the financial sector as well. According to the Iranian official news agency IRNA, the chambers of commerce of the two countries have recently signed a number of documents, which are expected to make Iran a major player in the Afghan economy. Iran has become one of the largest donors in the reconstruction process in Afghanistan. An Iranian Foreign Ministry official puts the total amount of aid to Afghanistan since 2001 at about $600 million.

Old school Democrat Orson Scott Card warns the Congressional Democrats it is time to take stabilization of the Middle East seriously. Is it 1936 or 1928 coming around again?

The Crisis of the Islamo-Fascist War: Why should the Democrats have control of Congress if they will use that power to destroy the fledgling movement toward democracy in Iraq that is the only hope for countering the false piety of the Islamo-fascists?

They are so ignorant of history that they think they can do this with impunity -- that if they can keep the media on their side (as they certainly are right now), they can win political control of America in the presidential election of 2008. Maybe they can. Just as Hoover won the presidency in 1928 just in time to preside over the Great Depression, maybe the Democrats will get complete control of the American government just in time for the disastrous world war and/or worldwide economic collapse that will be the certain result of the triumph of Islamo-fascism in the Middle East.

The beauty of term limits is that it frees individuals to act on conscience rather than mere political calculations. President Bush no longer has to care what the polls say. He knows he is using a strategy designed to cure the problems of the Middle East rather than the endless treatment of symptoms. He also knows the game clock is running.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Car-less Streets

When the Capital Times (first among equals socialist) John Nichols writes about Madison taxpayer opposition to street cars, you know the evidence can no longer be ignored. Of course, (government knows best) John Nichols needs to attempt a defense of an expensive limited service area public transit plan. A defense that never once mentions money.

Mayor's foes riding trolley: He has talked too much about streetcars in isolation, or as part of a broader transportation system. That's all well and good. But the only way that Madison is going to get interested in a streetcar scheme is if it is presented as part of a much bolder plan for remaking downtown - a plan that talks about more housing, more retail options, more car-less streets and a lot of other changes that would create a landscape on which people could imagine a smart, modern trolley system running.

Car-less streets! Right there in the vision: car-less streets. Mayoral Challenger Peter Munoz says: "The trolley initiative comes from the mayor's vision. It is not based on any public outcry that we need that form of public transportation. I take issue with the mayor's strong vision." I also take issue with the mayor’s strong vision.

Dave Cieslewicz believes modern human society is a danger to nature. This core belief exists as the starting point for all his decisions. Mayor Dave wants trolleys because this facilitates crowded housing, which theoretically reduces the human footprint on the biosphere. He is administering our city for the benefit of his vision. He needs to be replaced.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Better Mornings With Science

You can award a man a PhD in Molecular Virology and hope when his moment of epiphany arrives the results will make the world a much better place to live. I believe Robert Bohannon achieves this dream with his creation: Buzz Donuts.

A future of caffeinated pastries is at hand. Rejoice!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snowed In Global Warming Debate

The Cheddarsphere seems be having a snow covered Wisconsin debate about global warming. Dean at Thoughtful Conservative has the link assemblage. Let me just point out that I AM A GLOBAL WARMING DENIER. Dangerous man-made climate chance is a false myth.

Heat disperses. This is one of the foundation observations of physics. There is no observational evidence that humans are rewriting the laws of physics. The rate of dispersal can vary by the degree of containment. The containment mechanism proposed by global warming alarmists is a natural atmospheric molecule, existing at an extremely low percentage in the natural layer of gasses trapped by the gravitational pull of a small planet embedded in cold space.

Climate changes constantly and predictions of changes outside the historical range of variability are completely the product of human programmed computers. If you believe software can manipulate input data, then you know garbage in, garbage out is the truth.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reality TV Tonight

So Lola asks if I’m going to watch the State of the Union tonight and I say no. I like well written fiction and this type of scripted and choreographed political performance is poor theater. The ruling class is filled with corrupt buffoons playing courtesan games for positions on the floor. Posing and posturing with false emotions about the vulnerability of the society under their jurisdiction. So many of them want to believe we can simply run everything on ethanol while keeping business prosperous.

I like my non-fiction to be more honest and intriguing so tonight I'm opting for reality TV. I admire how Illinois regroups after a hard fought loss to Wisconsin as they welcome Indiana across the border and kick their butts at Assembly Hall. I really don’t care which one of them comes in second in the Big Ten so long as neither one finishes first.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Liberals for School Choice

On the early local news, a young white east side Madison mother goes on camera to assert that she should have a choice about where to send her kids to school. It seems when declining enrollments threaten to close a local school in a traditionally white democratic neighborhood, the idea of school choice suddenly becomes very attractive.

School Information System: Taxpayers, parents and students, particularly those who will enter our schools over the next few decades will benefit from more local choices if the Madison Studio School can lift off, soon. The Madison School District Administration's recent history has been marked by a reduction in choice for parents and students and generally a monolithic approach to curriculum.

The flocks of democratic sheep in Madison are actually talking about having choices for their children instead of a “monolithic approach to curriculum”. There are voices coming from the old working class housing stock saying there should be more than “one size fits all education”.

Wisconsin State Journal: Charter schools are free from certain state rules and strive to innovate. The Emerson parents are proposing a "Studio School" that would emphasize the arts and technology. The charter school would start with two combined kindergarten-first grades next fall. It would feature more hands-on group projects driven by student interests. Yet core subjects such as reading, writing and arithmetic would still be incorporated throughout school activities.

Madison's stubborn teachers union has long been suspicious of charter schools. The union has taken a defensive position that presumes the very suggestion of a charter school implies that traditional schools are somehow inadequate.

It is kind of cute watching liberals discovering they want something other than standardized government provisions. The “stubborn” teachers union is, of course, against the idea of school choice in any conceivable variation. They seem offended if parents want something else for their children. It’s like their union work is “somehow inadequate” and that is judgmental.

In the School Info comments, defenders of the status quo hammer on the point that a charter school risks not having enough diversity. In return the white liberals deny the increasing diversity in the Madison public schools has anything to do with their feelings. Their parental actions are entirely about wanting what is best for the children.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Equality Engineer

George Will comments on Barney Frank who he terms the most liberal member of the House, and who is now the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

The Equality Engineer: Frank questions whether market-driven wealth creation is producing more inequality "than is either socially healthy or economically necessary." He favors much more government intervention in the economy to diminish inequality. Sometimes he means equal dependence on government. For example, he wants everyone enrolled in Medicare -- with larger co-payments for higher-income people -- in order to take health care "out of the wage system."

Three years ago, when unemployment was 5.8 percent, Frank outlined his doctrine of "capitalism plus" -- plus a lot of government -- in a House speech, warning that America was at "a major inflection point" where the economy's ability to create wealth is exceeding its ability to create jobs.

The Representative from Massachusetts seems to understand it is the uncountable number of individual trading decisions forming the market economy that creates wealth. What is disturbing is the liberal belief that a few special people can out think the masses. I suppose it’s the difference between umpires and owners. Government is needed to establish and enforce the rules by which the game is played. Barney Frank & Friends believe government is needed to divide up the gate receipts.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Champagne Socialist Soap Opera

Image that Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle goes on television and says, "Hillary Clinton has only one defect -- her partner", and this coming shortly after Bill Clinton tells the press that everyone earning over $62,000 should be heavily taxed. That would be political theater at its finest. It is also the exact soap opera playing out in the French Presidential campaign.

Ségolène puts down her man: The glamorous candidate tore a strip off Hollande after he promised that her administration would slap a big tax rise on the well-off once she is elected. Added spice comes from the fact that Royal and Hollande have been a couple -- at least officially -- for most of the past 25 years and they have four children together.

Trouble on the home front for Ségo: Socialist embarrassment reached a peak when Arnaud Montebourg, an MP who is Royal's spokesman, quipped on television: "Ségolène Royal has only one defect -- her partner." … Royal, 53, suspended Montebourg for a month, but her reprimand seemed aimed at Hollande. "It should understood, particular by certain men, that they need to accept that women exercise their authority differently, but not more weakly than men," said Royal.

Socialist Presidential candidate Ségolène Royal and Socialist Party Chairman François Hollande have four children, no marriage license and a very old shared dream of government power. When Party Leader François feels the need to re-assert leftist orthodoxy that the rich should be taxed because they are rich, it forces Party Candidate Ségolène to make their finances public to prove they are not really that all that wealthy.

Accused Of Failing To Pay Her Taxes: Faced with taunts about being a gauche caviar, the Gallic equivalent of a champagne socialist, she denied being rich, instead claiming that she was just "well-off." … Not only does she have part ownership in three impressive homes with her boyfriend, the Socialist Party chairman Francois Hollande, but the two have set up a real estate company to manage the properties. This has enabled them to reduce the amount that they pay in l'impot de solidarité sur la fortune, or ISF, a high tax imposed on anyone with assets of more than $985,000.

Now that Hillary is officially in pursuit of her lifetime ambition, the similarities to the French political power couple make watching French mistakes even more entertaining. A guide to the melodrama is available at French Election 2007. Does anyone really believe Bill will be able to keep his ego and mouth disengaged for twenty months?

Friday, January 19, 2007


I should comment on this, but I won’t.

Dubai Building Becoming World's Tallest: The Middle East previously held the record of the earth's tallest structure for about 43 centuries. Built around 2500 B.C., Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza dwarfed the competition at about 481 feet until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris at a height of 1,023 feet, including the flag pole.

Of course, Egypt was not Islamic at that time.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

China Makes a Mess

The People’s Republic of China decides it needs to field test an advanced technology project so they pick one of their old satellites orbiting about 500 miles above the Earth and blow it into a whole bunch of pieces. The research and development budget is now justified.

Chinese Test Anti-Satellite Weapon: Although more of a "policy weapon" at this time, the test shows that the Chinese military can threaten the imaging reconnaissance satellites operated by the U. S., Japan, Russia, Israel and Europe.

Hot Air has a round up of reactions. The United States and the Soviet Union dabbled with anti-satellite weapons in the 1980’s before both sides abandoned the pursuit. Apparently filling space with thousands of high velocity projectiles tends to be a detriment to the commercial life of expensive pieces of orbiting technology.

Arms Control Wonk: Of course, we canceled that program for reasons that are all too obvious at this point: A hit-to-kill ASAT creates all kinds of debris that might threaten to make collateral damage of our own satellites. … This raises an interesting public policy question because we are so much more dependent on commercial and military satellites that the ASAT options available to us are much more complicated than those available to the Chinese. This is a race that favors them, unfortunately.

Now 500 miles is a long way up, but on the other hand space goes much, much higher.

Washington Post: Many sensitive communications satellites are much higher, at about 22,000 miles above earth, and officials said yesterday that the recent test does not prove that China has the capability to disrupt those systems.

All things considered, however, the Chinese need to be told that littering is bad and pollution is worse bad. I expect the Sierra Club will release a statement reminding the PRC that outer space is not a complete vacuum but rather a low density wilderness that needs to be preserved in nearly pristine condition for future generations. It is therefore good to live by the motto: take only photos, leave only ion trails.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Post Oath Statement Precedent

Here in Madison, the State Capital is a couple blocks down the street from the City-County Building, so in a sense the “B” level politicians have their arena while the “C” and “D” level politicians have their playground. The problem is the playground apparently has no adult supervision.

Council OKs protest oath: The Madison City Council voted 14-4 Tuesday to offer those taking an oath of public office a formal way to protest Wisconsin's new constitutional ban on gay marriage. … The resolution, passed after 45 minutes of debate, allows officials to make a supplemental statement to the oath, noting they took it under protest because of their disagreement with the constitutional amendment passed by 59 percent of Wisconsin voters in November.

The proponents argue since they are not modifying the text of the Oath of Office there is no reason to be concerned when they subsequently declare their support of the constitution is under protest. How will this precedent play out? Well, there is this hypothetical situation:
I, Hillary Rodham Clinton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. However, I take this oath under protest because of the reprehensible inclusion of amendment 2 and amendment 22, and will work to eliminate these sections from the Constitution and work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from their application.
Of the 4 City of Madison aldermen voting against this scenario only one is running for re-election. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz does want another term and he is proudly on record as a co-sponsor of this supplemental statement prerogative.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Suitcase Nukes

A work of American fiction brings forth a bust of discussion about what happens when nuclear arms reach out and embrace our cities. The boys at QandO remember having a point-counterpoint debate about the existence of the fabled Soviet suitcase nukes. As they themselves say: Start here. Then go here.

The smallest nuclear device ever created by the US, was the W-54 warhead, which was created for use in the Davy Crockett nuclkear bazooka. There was also a backpack version of this device, the Mk 54 SADM. This warhead weighed 51lbs. … We do know, though, that the Sovs did have nuclear 152mm howitzer shells that weighed around 30kg (66 lbs) but they were a) small-yield (from 0.1 to less than 1 kt), and b) required regular and frequent routine maintenance to remain operational

Very short maintenance cycles would, in any event, be required to keep such a device operational. While it is possible to produce a 10kt yield with a fairly light device i.e. slightly less than 100kg (220 lbs), using a minimum of plutonium to achieve critical mass, the device would require the use of tritium to increase the yield. Without proper and regular maintenance, the yield would within a couple of years, decline to minimal levels as the tritium degraded.

Finally, there is the issue of positive control mechanisms (PCM). The soviets were quite keen on separating the authorization to use nuclear weapons from the physical possession of them. In general, the KGB controlled the launch codes with the Armed forces controlled the weapons.

To summarize, fairly small fission weapons are possible but the radioactive metals are called heavy metals for a reason and it is unlikely a single person hauls one around with ease. There is no fuse to light and if you don’t possess the switch encryptions it is not like you can reach in and cross a couple live wires to spark the activation sequence. Finally, the essential feature of radioactive breakdown that unleashes the energy is also the reason the fuel simply disappears over time. These bombs are best when brand spanking new and keeping them at full potential is an expensive ongoing operational effort.

It's not just the requirement to have nuclear scientists (whatever that means), but a rather sophiticated manufacturing/maintenance infrastructire that cannot be built ad-hoc, but that requires sophisticated equipment and facilities generally unavailable anywhere in the Mideast, outside government facilities.

What this all means is that if something thermonuclear happens, it’s because some group fairly recently takes delivery from dealer prep and there aren’t many dealers that don’t keep customer records.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Immigration Reform in Russia

Immigration reform enforcement begins – Russian style.

New Laws Create Widespread Uncertainty For Migrants: A government decree went into effect on January 1, but with the holiday hiatus is only now being enforced. The decree restricts the number of non-Russians working in the retail trade in outside markets and kiosks. Now the quota is set at 40 percent. From April 1, it will incrementally decrease to zero by the end of the year.

"The new rules will have some positive and some negative effects for migrants," Muhabbatov says. "The positive effect is the simplification of registration rules for migrants in Russia. In the past, migrants could register for only three months, but now they can do so for six months or one year. But on the other hand, the rules have been tightened for employers who give work to Tajik migrants. Companies that use illegal migrants will be fined 800,000 rubles. Most employers, who employ Tajik migrants virtually for free, will employ fewer Tajik migrants after that." What that means is more uncertainty and, in many cases, a scramble to get legal.

Virtually” free labor certainly helps keep operational costs low for business and the new laws have financial disincentives for employers. A problem is that a history of chronic corruption makes it probable that bribing officials will neutralize this deterrence. That is unless the authorities are actually intent on driving out the swarm of recent arrivals. Zero as the end of the year goal is a pretty small number.

Modern-Day Racism? The collapse of the Soviet Union has also contributed to the problem by literally opening the floodgates to uncontrolled migration. Soviet authorities maintained absolute control on people movement through residence permits and internal passports. Now, migrants from the former Soviet republics face far fewer travel restrictions, and a much greater need to go wherever they can find work -- usually the comparatively prosperous Russia. It's a situation that has fueled massive resentment toward migrants among many Russians, many of whom are themselves struggling to make ends meet.

Maybe the Russians are mindful of inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Migration initially begins when bodies start going into motion and I’m sure the Russians are very aware of the way population dynamics are playing out in Europe.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Madison Mayoral Challengers

I see no evidence that the City of Madison will not continue to be lost to the most socialist faction of the Democratic Party. This is not to say there are no divisions within the local Democrats. Steve at Letters in Bottles notices a Paul Soglin post in which the ex-Mayor continues to have disagreements with the Dave Cieslewicz administration.

This dissatisfaction is not, however, translating into a challenge for the job. That task falls to a couple long shots who are at least giving voice to the discontent of those of us concerned about the misguided direction of our city. The Isthmus asks: Are you running to win …?

Ray Allen: As mayor, my focus will be on crime and poverty because I believe if we want to fight crime in the long run, we have to fight poverty now. Unfortunately, city hall is focused on trolleys, which have been reported to cost between $15 million and $25 million per mile. I see this as a waste. To put this in perspective, the cost of one mile of trolley tracks is enough to make affordable housing a reality in Madison, or enough to pay for the replacement of all the wells that have elevated manganese levels. The cost of one mile of trolley track can go a long way toward fighting crime and reducing poverty.

Peter Muñoz: Madison is one of the most desirable cities in the world. The city and its surrounding areas are blessed with a bounty of natural beauty. Its economy is seemingly indestructible. Its community is recognized for being open-minded, tolerant, and forward-thinking. But these qualities cannot be taken for granted lest we lose them. I am committed to not only preserve them, but to improve them. I will not lead Madison with dreams of trolleys that will congest streets and deplete limited city resources. I am extremely sensitive about the hardships many folks and businesses experience in trying to balance finances and meet basic obligations, including property taxes.

The best hope to keep Dave Cieslewicz from further destroying this safe and beautiful city is to at least demonstrate the substantial citizen resistance to his expensive delusion that rail based mass transit is a good idea for our small city. At this point, I am willing to vote for either Allen or Munoz but I hope they both ratchet up the noise level about the single issue which at least has the possibility of putting a dent into the reflexive votes for incumbency.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Understanding our Ancestors

The press is reporting that modern humans arrived in Europe about 45,000 years ago according to a new study to be published in the journal Science. The research theorizes the arrival of people exactly like us in Russia about ten thousand years earlier than previously believed. The change in the historical timeline is based on acceptance that a layer of volcanic ash present at the historic Kostenki archeology sites is from an Italian eruption 40,000 years ago. The logic being that evidence of modern humans beneath this ash layer must be older.

Earliest evidence of modern humans in Eastern Europe: The excavations are located in the villages of Kostenki and Borshchevo, on the low terraces just above the Don River, overlooking a broad valley. Holliday says the uplands at Kostenki closely resemble rural Iowa. … The notion that modern people lived that long ago in what was then a sub-Arctic region intrigued Holliday, who analyzed the stratigraphy of the sites.

This is a good example of the difficulty with precision in statements of events in the distant past. A UW Madison archeologist comments on the timeline change forced by the geologic evidence.

John Hawks: It is interesting that much of the way toward the older date on the radiocarbon dates comes from calibrating them. … The calibration here is enough to make a 37,000 14C date into a 42,000 year calibrated date.

If the initial UP at Kostenki can be redated 10,000 years earlier, and if dozens of radiocarbon dates earlier than 32,000 years can unilaterally have 5000 or more years added to them, this inspires little confidence in the existing radiocarbon chronology of Europe. Of course, we've been seeing changes in radiocarbon chronology for many years now. Still, the scale of this change is very impressive.

The problems with carbon 14 dating are well known (see Carbon-14 Dating and Wikipedia) and are in a large part to due the variable nature of the sun’s energy that is the source of production for this unstable isotope.

Radiocarbon Dating: Fourth, the ratio of C-14 to C-12 in the atmosphere is not constant. Although it was originally thought that there has always been about the same ratio, radiocarbon samples taken and cross dated using other techniques like dendrochronology have shown that the ratio of C-14 to C-12 has varied significantly during the history of the Earth. This variation is due to changes in the intensity of the cosmic radiation bombardment of the Earth, and changes in the effectiveness of the Van Allen belts and the upper atmosphere to deflect that bombardment.

In other words, there is evidence the energy from the sun varies over time as does the climate of planet. The sub artic environment associated with the first remains of modern people in Europe has completely changed over the tens of thousands of years.

Kostenki Evidence: Pollen records indicate an evolution of the vegitation from pine forest conditions to forest with the dominant of spruce (Picea) of tiaga type and to the meadow-steppe associations. The climat change from cold to temperate, relatively warm and humid correspond to the interglacial environment in the lower part and to the beginning of glaciation in the upper part of the deposits of the lower humic bed.

Almost every day the press reports statements implying climate change is unnatural and detrimental. There is a disturbing trend to actively suppress any challenge to the assumptions. Real science is always open to disbelief and evidence to the contrary. The difficulty of precision in describing the last several thousand years based on actual observations should be a warning to believing the precision of software generated projections of future adverse consequences.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Events in Pork World

If I have this correct, Nancy Pelosi manages to implement earmark reform rules in the House as part of her enlightened attempt to uncorrupt Congress by limiting pork spending projects. A Republican Senator seeing an opportunity adds Pelosi’s House language as an amendment to a Senate Bill, causing the Democratic Senate Leadership into a frantic attempt to table (kill) the amendment.

High Political Drama in the Senate: Let's be clear about the rich irony here. Senate Leadership tried to kill a bill that House Leadership supported and passed. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are basically saying that they want their pork no matter what, even if it embarrasses their own party.

The votes are tallied and lo and behold the Democratic Senate leadership fails to strip out the House Democratic reforms. Pork is in grave danger so the rest of day is series of procedural maneuvers to save the pig trough. All and all a classic example of the futility of the legislative process to heal itself. Every true Democrat should understand the way to achieve change is through the courts. Following European precedent is also good.

France Prohibits Soup: The French Conseil d’Etat, the highest administrative court in France, forbids private charities from distributing pork soup to the homeless. On Friday night the high court ruled that offering soup containing pork meat or lard is an act of racism because some of the homeless might be Muslims or Jews whose religion forbids the consuming of pork. The court said distributing pork soup threatens public order because it could spark angry reactions.

Claiming no one is forced to eat private charity soup, the unenlightened loosing party plans an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which may also be the last venue of hope for earmark reform in our Congress.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Time to Plan for THE END

The game clock is running and President Bush calls for Victory.

Tammy Baldwin Calls For Defeat: “I strongly oppose the President’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq. In November, voters sent a clear message that they don’t support a war without end. In April, the National Intelligence Estimate showed that U.S. military involvement in Iraq has increased, rather than curbed, the terrorist threat.

Wisconsin’s 2nd District Congresswoman is correct in the sense that America absolutely does not want “a war without end”. Just to be clear, an end is either win, lose or draw. The problem is regardless of which option prevails at ‘the end’, the outcome will affect an economically united planet.

One guest on FOX points out the Shia crescent forming from Lebanon to Iran in the region with 65% of the worlds known oil reserves. I have always wished the President was more upfront about the economic danger to western civilization if this heavily militarized region falls to a theocracy convinced they have divine authority to rule all mankind.

We are now at the point when advocates of defeat should define and defend the consequences of their plans to cut and run. This is not Viet Nam where only foreign brown people will suffer when Americans retreat. The Democrats have control of the legislature so they need to start planning for the probabilities associated with failure to achieve a stable government in Iraq. Liberals love government planning so let’s demand some.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chavez Makes His Move

As an adolescent, I found it difficult to accept the idea that civilizations collapse and disappear, sometimes even from memory. Weighed against the experience of a dozen or so years, the world and its structures clearly seem to be enduring. Every new day has the same buildings and businesses and ways of going about life.

The socialists are all excited about the changes in Venezuela. George Ciccariello-Maher is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at UC Berkeley, so he conveys his euphoria in the in-crowd mumbo jumbo unintelligible gibberish that passes for academic writing. The two most coherent paragraphs are as follows.

Beyond Chavistas and Anti-Chavistas: A myth has long existed in commentary on Venezuela, which goes something like the following: when discussing the Venezuelan revolution, the relevant actors can be expressed through the binary “Chavista/Anti-Chavista.” … But the errors facilitated by such a binary framework are too many to count. These include, for example, the facile view that Chávez is little more than an autocrat running a personalistic movement bent on centralizing power in his own hands.

Things are immediately more complicated, but also more palpably revolutionary: we have broken the analytical stranglehold that the long history of oligarchic domination has imposed upon our concepts, a domination in which 10 percent of the population count as much as the remaining 90 percent, and in so doing, we perform theoretically precisely the same gesture that the Bolivarian Revolution has performed politically.

To the tenure track mind, human knowledge is simply composed of myths and the myth of the moment is that the wealthy dominate the masses to the detriment of poor. Having won his most recent election, Hugo Chavez increasingly abandons restraint in pursuit of his pure Marxist vision of equality through government control of society. Fausta's Blog and Publius Pundit have many links to the end of civilization as it has existed in the oldest democracy in South America.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Dead Man in London

First, a brief step back in time. September 2004 finds the United States asking the International Atomic Energy Agency the following question about the Director General’s report.

Q: Are Iran's explanations for its efforts to produce Polonium-210 credible? Did Iran perform nuclear-related work with Beryllium (which when combined with Po-210 forms a neutron initiator that could be used in nuclear weapons)?

Because of a very short half life, Polonium is extremely rare in nature, so any substantial quantities are made in sophisticated reactors and at a cost of millions of dollars. There are a few industrial uses but its primary historical role has been as a crucial ingredient in triggering devises of Russian designed nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Trigger: Po-210’s main military application is a neutron source, a polonium-beryllium “nuclear trigger.” This type of nuclear trigger was used in all early nuclear weapons, and is probably used in the missing Soviet suitcase nukes. If the Po-210 has turned into lead, the suitcase nukes will not work. It has been reported al-Qaeda is offering $3 million dollars for a gram of Po210.

In early November, 2006, a former Russian KGB agent having converted to Islam in support of the Chechen rebels, dies in London from massive levels of polonium poisoning. The media runs with a story line that millions of dollars worth of this exotic element are used to silence a critic of Vladimir Putin, to 'send a message'. The targeted assassination theory is hard to swallow when a bullet would have achieved the same exact result.

A.J. Strata has been following all the public information as it has been forthcoming these last nine weeks, and is firmly convinced that Alexandre Litvinenko died as part of an elaborate and well financed polonium smuggling operation. It seems much more likely that rather than an insanely expensive assassination, one of the transport personnel simply falls victim to some combination of complacency, curiosity and clumsiness on the third delivery.

There really are only two likely reasons to smuggle in quantities of a volatile and deadly rare synthetic molecule. The first is to restore the decayed trigger on an older nuclear weapon and the second (and perhaps a fallback option) is to use the material as a dirty bomb in the heart of a western city. As A. J. Strata points out, the authorities have some idea of how much was leaked in the accidental contamination, but there really is no good understanding of how much is safely in the wrong hands.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


As connoisseurs of science fiction understand, the last desperate attempt at fixing an intractable dilemma is to toss caution to the wind and reverse the polarity. So today the fiction of wise leadership flips over in Washington and the candidates for best new political buzzword of 2007 begin their quest for glory. Let me nominate this gem.

PAYGO: The PAYGO or pay-as-you-go rule compels new spending or tax changes to not add to the federal deficit. New proposals must either be "budget neutral" or offset with savings derived from existing funds.

How lovely and inoffensive is the tiny phrase – budget neutral. What sinister intentions would ever dare to be wrapped in such gentle blandishment? Isn’t neutrality the very definition of harmless? Only a heartless Republican could find danger lurking in so innocent a small phrase.

QandO: Democrat supported PAYGO rule "Timid" and "biased toward new taxes" Those are the conclusions which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) reached after reviewing the new PAYGO rules the Democrats have been talking about as a part of their incoming Congressional agenda. … ” It is essentially a plan to raise taxes as it mostly ignores spending.”

The Wall Street Journal sounds the same concerns in a slightly less tactful way.

Opinion Journal: Most slippery is the attempt by Democrats to disguise so-called "pay as you go" budgeting, or paygo, as ethics reform. This is supposed to be a mechanism for reducing the deficit, but in practice it keeps the spending spigots open and makes tax cuts next to impossible. Under paygo, tax cuts must be offset by less spending, but existing entitlement programs that grow automatically every year are exempt from the rules. Under paygo rules, the Bush tax cuts that expire in 2010 have no chance of being extended--as Democrats well know.

Budget neutral means any spending requires new taxes because otherwise the arbitrarily assembled collection of wish lists known as the budget would suffer. No one wants suffering do they? My favorite take, however, is a foam-speckled rant of a misanthropic conservative Roman Catholic: leopardprintmuumuu. I’m not going to parse such eloquence.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Medicare for Kids

For better, but most likely for worse, Democrat Jim Doyle is sworn in for a second term as Governor. He immediately announces his intention to change the healthcare economy in Wisconsin. His slogan, "One Wisconsin, One Future" sure sounds like my way or the highway and that’s not a recipe for expanded freedoms. The starting point seems to be establishing Medicare for kids.

Inaugural Address: We may not always agree on everything, but as a first step, let’s agree on this: in Wisconsin, every child should have access to affordable, comprehensive health care.

It strikes me that comprehensive and affordable are incompatible terms. I’m sure they do reflect a fundamental socialist belief that healthcare should be an entitlement and not a market transaction. You simply can not have everything you desire for a token price in a market economy.

The push will be to reinvent the wheel but fortunately reform does not start from scratch. American healthcare services are very good and there are practical constraints on any universal healthcare proposal.

Jane Galt: 1) It cannot provide less, or less rapid, coverage than the typical American policy does now. 2) It cannot substantially lower the wages of medical workers. 3) It cannot ration end-of-life care. 4) It will not cover immigrants, at least not until they are citizens.

QandO Blog discusses other basic considerations needing to be forefront in opposition to increasing government control of medicine. The primary being that health is not an objective term, so there is no measurable point where it can be stated with certainty that some aspect of the body can not be improved. In other words, because health is an insatiable demand there is always something that can be desired.

Friedrich Hayek on Universal Health Care: Health care cannot really be quantified and thereby presents peculiar problems which must be understood. … He’s arguing that if you agree that even marginal improvement, no matter how small, is “good” (“no objective standard”) then there is no limit as to how much you can spend for marginal improvement. Without an objective standard for making judgments as to how much care and effort are enough care and effort, the want is infinite.

“The problems raised by a free health service are made even more difficult by the fact that the progress of medicine tends to increase its efforts not mainly toward restoring working capacity but toward the alleviation of suffering and the prolongation of life; these, of course, cannot be justified on economic but only on humanitarian grounds.

Jane Galt alludes to the fact that Medicare is essentially unlimited end of life entitlement spending, and the market distortion of this humanitarian program has ripple effects on all other healthcare costs. The Democrats want to move ever more spending under planning rather than market control and this is exactly the wrong direction to take.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tony Blair: Man of the World

British Prime Minister Tony Blair opens up to let the world know what he really thinks. The lengthy article in Foreign Affairs starts with rambling platitudes about Islam including this insight:” To me, the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is.” The rest of the commentary then dissolves into liberal fantasy of how common values will make the entire world a better place.

A Battle for Global Values: We have to show that our values are not Western, still less American or Anglo-Saxon, but values in the common ownership of humanity, universal values that should be the right of the global citizen.

The danger with the United States today is not that it is too involved in the world. The danger is that it might pull up the drawbridge and disengage. The world needs it involved. The world wants it engaged. The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even approached without it.

In my nine years as prime minister, I have not become less idealistic or more cynical. I have simply become more persuaded that the distinction between a foreign policy driven by values and one driven by interests is wrong. Globalization begets interdependence, and interdependence begets the necessity of a common value system to make it work. Idealism thus becomes realpolitik.

Hillary Clinton will give her variation of this same speech because this is exactly what progressive liberals believe. Reason and discourse will lead to planetary harmony and shared common values. America is needed, not because of American exceptionalism, but because our riches (and sometimes our soldiers) are needed to make the world free of pollution and poverty. The daydream desire to rule the world is alive and well within the internationalist movement, and if that means subordinating U.S. interests to the whole of humanity, then so be it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Now is Better

I can’t believe Madison didn’t come up with this idea before the French.

No to 2007!!!: Parodying the French readiness to say "non", the demonstrators in the western city of Nantes waved banners reading: "No to 2007" and "Now is better!" The marchers called on governments and the UN to stop time's "mad race" and declare a moratorium on the future. The protest was held in the rain and organizers joked that even the weather was against the New Year. The tension mounted as the minutes ticked away towards midnight - but the arrival of 2007 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. The protesters began to chant: "No to 2008!"

With the Capital One Bowl Victory and the Badgers finishing at school record 12-1 for the season, it may be a good moment to declare a moratorium on the future.