Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back yard wildlife

A Christmas eve visitor.

The dogs went berserk.

Paul and LaRouche: Cults?

Twenty five years ago a buddy and I were walking through Houston Hobby airport when he spotted the LaRouche table (back then his vehicle was the "U.S Labor Party") and walked up to them. "OK, what's your theory on who killed JFK?" he asked.
"We don't have a theory. We know."

Ron Paul and his supporters seem cut from the same cloth. Dr. Paul has no doubts, no nuance. All that is wrong with America can be fixed if we just follow the Constitution. The abortion debate disappears when the states are allowed to decide it. Our economic problems are solved when we return to the gold standard. There really are simple solutions to complex issues. And Ron Paul is the LAST chance to save America.

Or so it seems from reading Dr.Paul's supporters on the web. Whether gold standard monetarists, 9 11 truthers, white supremacists, or his more sane supporters, all have a certainty that few other campaigns can match. What's interesting about the Paul cult is its inclusiveness. This is a big tent party. LaRouche was a Stalinist; his campaigns were a cult of personality with a fixed ideology. Everyone drank the same Kool aid and followed the Dear Leader. Paul is more like a Unitarian New Age cult. There is room for different opinions; but only Ron Paul can save America.

The Paul campaign can't keep all its divergent groups together for long. And no one is quite as bitter as an ex cult member. But Paul's campaign may still give us another six months of cheap entertainment.

Bhutto's assassination and the US primaries

John Podhoretz calls it right: The end of the Primary's Holiday from History.
The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of
Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign.

So who benefits?
For the Republicans, for the typical Republican primary voter who will want a foreign policy hawk, it helps Giuliani and McCain. Perhaps Romney and Thompson. It does Huckabee no good.
But it gives a boost to the 21st century Lindberghs ("Let Europe deal with Europe's problems"). It will hurt Senator Clinton in the primaries. It may boost Ron Paul's support, despite insane statements like this:

Ronald Reagan would be ashamed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

After Fidel, what?

Fidel Castro surprised nearly everyone when he announced a week ago that he might give up power. As far as I can tell, no one took the statement at face value. Does it mean he is finally dead? Or is he recovering and putting out bait to see who agrees with the idea and needs to be arrested?

The past seventy years provide multiple examples of how dictatorships end.
Nazi Germany and Tojo’s Japan: Ruins
Soviet Union: The farce of the 1991 coup. Sixteen years later…
Franco: Peaceful death, peaceful transition
Romania: Ceasescu’s violent end
China: Tiananmen 1989. Some regimes don’t just fade away

What does Cuba look like after Fidel? If history is a guide, the conventional wisdom is probably wrong.
Will Cuban cigars still be a hot commodity when they are easily available in the U.S?
Does Cuba become a foothold for Hugo Chavez or the Chinese? A new center for the Colombian drug trade? A tropical Las Vegas?
Will a free Cuba induce massive immigration to Florida and points north; or will first-, second- and third generation Cuban Americans return to the island?
If Cuba’s health care system is as good as we’ve been told, it will be a lure for retirees-- Florida with cheap medicine.
Guantanamo may close.
NAFTA may expand.

There are at least a couple of sure things.
Havana will make a great stop for cruise lines.
Free Cuba will certainly attract missionaries- Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, LDS, Scientologist. The expected rise of religion in Russia, post 1991, has tempered neither nationalism nor capitalism. Secular missions- Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Starbucks- may be more successful.

It’s a future that could head in almost any direction. Castro has been in power for nearly fifty years. A majority of Cubans and Americans have never known a Cuba without Fidel. Can any of us predict what it will become?

It’s more than a rhetorical question. The Mariel boatlift in 1980 brought 125,000 Cubans to the United States. The influx of refugees, and the riots at Camp Chaffee Arkansas, added to the public’s malaise with Jimmy Carter, and helped first term Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton lose re- election in the Reagan landslide. Whatever happens after Fidel will affect us all, in ways large and small.

As an engineer, I’ll close with my dream for a free Cuba. I want the design contract and toll concession for the Florida Straits bridge- tunnel.

So much for Solidarity

First Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien crossed the writers' picket lines. Now Stewart and Colbert are coming back. Will they use scab writers? Illegal aliens ? Or outsource the writing to India?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Huckabee and gastric bypass surgery

Mike Huckabee’s weight loss scam

Vanderleun calls it a blog hit.

I’m not a Huckabee fan. There are plenty of serious issues for which Huckabee can, and should, be criticized. He’s fourth or fifth on my list of candidates I’d support, behind Giuliani, Thompson and Romney but still well ahead of Ron Paul.
But this is just indecent.
I haven’t read the whole 10,000 words, and I don’t plan to do a point by point analysis , but Plutarch lost me at the marathon and fuel belt.

The marathon prowess that Huckabee often touts is not so likely to be an example of exercise inducing weight loss, as it is the expected result of (bariatric) weight loss permitting exercise.
While running marathons Huckabee is shown carrying that energy supplementation, that is both expected of, and associated with, bariatric marathoners.

I’ve run 26.2 miles. Trust me, you get hungry. I carried snacks with me. That’s evidence I had gastric bypass surgery?

100% of wife beaters are men. I‘m a man. Therefore….

And I really want to see the evidence that running marathons is an expected result of bariatric weight loss.

That Governor Huckabee took a vacation and didn’t reveal where he was going seems to be the same sort of argument.

If you have a good argument you don’t need to pile on.
The whole article reminds me of the poor schnook who built a model of the World Trade Center from chicken wire and proved that fire does not melt steel. He’s even got graphs. In color.

I don’t really care whether Romney believes Jesus is Satan’s brother; or Hilary seduces twelve year old boys. The personal lives of some of the candidates (in both parties ) are a little tawdry. But if we can’t win elections based on issues, we don’t deserve to win.

If Plutarch’s “research” is true, yes, Huckabee is toast.

I call BS.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Global warming causes blizzards; school children and teachers rejoice.

Snow on Mount Ida

National Review online notes that Global warming saps hurricane strength.

It apparently causes heavy snow too.

My office has a project in upstate New York; a team just spent a week there. (Tragically, I was unable to go.) On their return they reported the area is having snow earlier and heavier than usual. It's global warming. Lake Erie hasn't frozen over yet; so the open water generates more lake effect snow.

The first computer game I ever purchased was SimEarth. It was a cool little toy. The user's guide included a long appendix on the Gaia hypothesis, with a discussion on what might cause an ice age. Snow has a high albedo; it reflects a lot of sunlight, which reduces the energy in the atmopsphere and cools the earth. More snowfall, less melting.

Global warming causes glaciation.

The good news is, the rising sea level will fall.

Breaking news: Earthquake in Bali. I blame all the Gulfstreams parked there for the UN Global Climate conference.