Archive for May, 2007

Aluminum?

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Anyone else reminded of cold fusion?

Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.

I’m not sure what they’re proposing to do with all this aluminum oxide but I’ll tell you on thing: this won’t work. We seem to have raised a generation that don’t understand the laws of thermodynamics. You can not get more energy out of a system than you put in. I guarantee you that the energy involved in manufacturing, transporting and recyling the aluminum-gallium mix is going to exceed that produced by the hydrogen.

So we’re back to square one.

What?!

Friday, May 18th, 2007

So, here’s how the logic works: raise the question of blowback and you’re part of the 9/11 Truth Movement. This is disgusting.

I’ve had it up to here with this arrogant Administration and their myrmidons in the Right Wing Echosphere. They have become the Democrats. Smear smear smear. Obstruct obstruct obstruct. Lie lie lie.

George Bush. Sean Hannity. Michelle Malkin. Dick Cheney. You’d make Ronald Reagan switch back to the Democrats.

Lock Up the Women!

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

The Browning of America continues. Don’t get too excited, though. Hispanics and Blacks are far more socially conservative than whites, even if they don’t vote that way.

Diaz

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

I have to disagree with Sulilvan and the Left on the Matt Diaz question. There is no doubt the Bush Administration was wagging its genitals at the Geneva Convention, Congress and the Supreme Court. But there’s a chain of command and ways of dealing with these things. Diaz took the law into his own hands.

Savage

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Much as I respect Dan Savage, he’s buying into the total liberal line with this line of crap:

Here’s the headline from my morning paper: “HPV Factors in Throat Cancer: Study Could Shift Debate About Vaccine.” You bet it will. Up to now, the HPV vaccine—which, again, has proven 100 percent effective against the cancer-causing strains of the virus—could merely prevent 10,000 cases of cervical cancer in American women every year, along with 4,000 deaths. But now the debate could shift—it will shift, it already has shifted—because it’s no longer “just” the lives of 4,000 American women that are on the line, but the sex lives of 150 million American men.

“If men got pregnant,” goes the bumper sticker, “abortion would be a sacrament.” Now that straight men can get cancer from eating pussy, the HPV vaccine is going to go from controversial to sacramental faster than you can say, “Suck my dick.”

I’m sorry, Dan, you’re wrong. As I said before, there are very legitimate reason to oppose mandating the HPV vaccine. I have a friend who suffered the side effects of DES and am nervous about mucking about with a reproductive system decades before use.

One of the things we can not do is let the Religious Right write the script on this debate. The issue is not whether the vaccine is going to create a generation of sluts; the issue is whether the government should be making a difficult and uncertain decision for people.

Women on Top

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

More in America than in Europe. Imagine that.

Two More

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Two more sissified weaklings who want the terrorists to win come out against torture.

Oh, wait. One is a former CENTCOM commander; one is a former Marine Commandant.

Why is that the military opposes torture and all the draft-dodgers and chickenhawks love it?

Sullivan Again

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

On the Party of Torture.

The simple legal definition of torture must be thrown in their faces at every opportunity. These people do not get to define torture in a country under the rule of law. We are not in a Lewis Carroll novel. The law and our treaty obligations define torture. And its definition is clear in the UN Convention to which the U.S. is a signatory:

“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.”

Who cares about treaties? The United States Consitution, that’s who. Because it explicitly states that any treaty we sign has the absolute rule of law, just as though it were an act of Congress.

They’re now moving to ban the one man who has had enough of this crap by claiming that he said we caused 9/11 (I watched it; he said nothing of the kind).

The GOP is quickly beginning to disgust me. I remain a Man With No Party.

Two Comedies

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Probably the most over-rated movie last year, in my opinion, was Borat. While the movie had its moments, I simply do not understand the phenomenon, the tendency of people to proclaim it the best comedy ever. It just wasn’t that funny. Not to me, anyway. It was Jackass for pseudo-intellectuals.

And I’m sorry, I have to agree with Hitchens. What struck me on watching the movie was not how racist and intolerant Americans are, but how polite they were to someone who was himself bigoted and obnoxious. In the famous rodeo scene, they become uncomfortable as his boasts become nastier; the obnoxious frat boys drive him across the country, give him free beer and try to talk him out of his Pamela obssession; the Southern hosts put up with his appalling behaviour with more grace than any liberal would. Borat has allowed a lot of obnoxious, self-important writers to sneer at the rest of America. But I think it’s much more illustrative of their own arrogance.

By contrast, I just recently watched Idiocracy, the latest Mike Judge movie to be abandoned by the studio. The movie is no Office Space, but it’s at watchable and at least as good as Borat. Somehow, 20th Century Fox found a way to inflict Garfield II, Deck the Halls, Fantastic Four, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and Big Momma’s House II on the innocent unsuspecting public while this movie remained on the shelves.

I’m not sure I buy the underlying hypothesis of Idiocracy, for reasons that are too involved to go into now. But as a vicious nasty satire of our anti-intellectual culture and corporate America, the movie is deadly accurate.

I actually have the opposite take of Judge on the Culture of Idiocy. I think the popularity of shows like Jerry Springer and Jackass (and Borat) is more reflective of the increasing intelligence and education of Americans, rather than the opposite. It allows people to look down on their inferiors, a process which used to involve just looking out the window.

On the other hand, the bizarre and frustrating popularity of this guy makes me wonder if Idiocracy is a too optimistic.

Comparison

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

I guess linking to this comparison, via Sullivan (scroll down to Abu Ghraib) not only invokes Godwin’s Law, but reveals me as a complete Commie Fag Junkie Who Wants the Terrorists to Win.

Bolton Goes Batshit

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

John Bolton was a lot easier to like when he kept his mouth shut. Since his terrible performance on The Daily Show, he’s now calling on us to invade Iran.

Look, I don’t like the idea of a nuclear Iran any more than he does. But we’re going to have to accept it. We don’t have the ability to invade. We’ve got our hands full with Iraq, a much smaller nation with no allies and no money and three different ethnic groups. Can you imagine invading a country several times its size with money, weapons, motivation and a single proud culture? Remember that invasion of Japan we managed to avoid in 1945? Iran would make it look like a picnic.

No, what we do with Iran what we did with the Soviet Union: we create a balance of terror. We give Patriot missiles to Israel, park nuclear missile subs in the Indian Ocean and make it very clear to the Iranians that if they ever launch a weapon, Tehran will cease to exist. We explain that with mass spectroscopy, we can trace a terrorist weapon to its source. And if we find they’ve given one to a terrorist, Tehran will cease to exist. This is what we did with the Soviet Union. This is what we do now. And it will work because even if John Bolton has sufficiently terrified himself, we will still have a thousand times as many nuclear weapons as Iran.

“But Mike”, you say, “they’re crazy! They think Allah will protect them!”. Really? Are they crazier than Joe Stalin or Nikita Kruschev, both of whom murdered millions? Is this insight into their nature based on anything real or just the hysterical supposition of the Right? Is it the same insight that told us the Iraqis would great us with flowers in Nasiriyah?

I actually don’t think Ahmajinedab is a religious fanatic. I think he, like most of the Islamists, is using religious rhetoric to advance a quite earthly political agenda.

There’s something else: the biggest gaffes in foreign policy come about from misreading the enemy, from seeing them the way we want to see them rather than the way they are. It’s 1861, when the South thinks they will whip the North in months. It’s 1939, when Chamberlain thought Hitler just wanted to reunite the German people. It’s 1968, when we thought that Vietnam wanted to become a puppet state of their thousand-year old enemy (watch Fog of War sometime).

It’s 2003, when we think Saddam is refusing to accomodate weapons inspectors because he has WMDs. We miss that he just doesn’t want the Iranians and the Shiites and the Kurds to know he’s powerless.

We’re in danger of doing that now with Iran. We see Iran’s nuclear program the way we want to see it: as a way to nuke Israel and the US. We fail to see the proud Persian people, looking at their conquered neighbor, surrounded by a nuclear Pakistan, a nuclear India, a nuclear Israel, a nuclear Russia, a nuclear US. They are afraid. And they feel that acquiring a nuke is the only way they will prevent their country from being next on Bush’s conquered list.

Bolton is a fool. He sees Iran the way he wants to see them. So does the rest of the Right. I don’t think we can afford another one of their blunders.

Full of Gas

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Neal Boortz and George Will let the gas out of the gas debate. Money quote:

As Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute notes, there is no yearning for national self-sufficiency concerning other essential goods, such as food, automobiles, airplanes or medicines. Are Democrats worried about security of oil supplies? In some ways, Hayward says, America’s energy supply is more secure than it was in the 1970s, partly because “since 1975, energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product has fallen 48 percent.” Furthermore, “oil represents a shrinking share of total U.S. energy consumption — from 44 percent in 1970 to 40 percent in 2005.” The oil America consumes — only one-eighth of which comes from the Middle East — is used almost entirely in transportation, and accounts for about 40 percent of energy uses. Half of America’s electricity is generated by coal, of which America has a huge abundance.

In one of the first posts on my blog, I said that the defining characteristic of the debate over gas prices was the overwhelming unthinking unrelenting greed . . . of the American people, who have decided that they are entitled to cheap gas for life. I don’t blame the politicians for taking political advantage of this any more than I blame bacteria for infecting a wound. It’s their nature. The fault is with the short-sighted and ignorant American public.

As I noted in the old post, the best illustration of the unrestrained avarice of the consumer is the popular call for a Gas Out! Notice that no sacrifice is demanded. No one is asked to carpool or drive less or use a more fuel-efficient car. No one is instructed to reduce their consumption, and therefore the price, of gasoline. Instead, they’re supposed to throw what amounts to a national hissy fit.

To hell with that. If you’re sick of high gas prices, get a more efficient car, commute less or carpool more.

I have a 100 mile round-trip commute. I’ve cut back to tele-commuting two days a week. And my next car will be even more fuel efficient than my current one. That’s called doing something about the problem. It’s how Americans used to address their issues rather than whining to Congress every time prices spike.

The Field So Far

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Looking over the slate of Presidential candidates and what we’ve learned about them recently, my opinions are little changed.

On the GOP side, I find Romney a little bit unctuous. He seems to be the groomed savvy candidate who says what everybody (in every audience) wants to hear. I’m disappointed that he’s backed off from his previous support of gay rights and abortion choice. It illustrates yet again that the anti-gay agenda of the GOP doesn’t come from the politicians themselves. There is ample documentation that they are perfectly fine with gays in private life. It’s a cold, mean-spirited attempt to drum up anti-gay votes. And that’s not only disgusting and cynical, it’s insulting.

I’m starting to dislike Giuliani. His slam of Ron Paul on the legitimate question of blowback was not only disgusting, it illustrating his intention to run on the ghost of 9/11.

I have been very impressed with Ron Paul. He’s the only one up there actually saying things. And the ire he has stirred up among the Right only makes me like him more. Anyone who can reduce the Right Wing Echosphere to their standard “you want the terorrists to win!” memes so quickly is in my good books.

And I’m sorry, I have to agree with Sullivan. The support for torture and the weasel words and moral equivalency being used to justify it by the GOP candidates is driving me away. At the present time, only McCain and Paul would earn my support.

On the Democrat side, the only candidate I really like is Bill Richardson, if nothing else than for his great ad. Yeah, he’s a little conceited. You have to be in this game. The others haven’t made any impression on me other than Hillary getting more repugnant and Obama veering leftward.

So what do I think is going to happen? As I see it, the GOP choice will be Romney or Giuliani, although that could change if Fred Thompson throws in. The Dems are down to Obama and Hillary, obviously. The Democrats would never nominate Richardson because a) he’s the best candidate; and b) he would have the best chance of winning. And we can’t have that. The Dems have a pathological need to self-destruct by picking the worst candidate, as they did in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004.

Anyway, it’s a fools’ game to predict who will be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in two years. But I’m a fool, so I’ll play. The conventional wisdom is that Bush will put the Dems in. I don’t see it that way. The convential wisdom also said that no Republican could win in the wake of Watergate, no one could beat Bush in 1992 and no one could fail to beat Clinton in 1996. And if the Dems forget that Bush isn’t running in 2008, the race is wide wide open. 2008 will be decided, as all race are, on the merits of the actual people running, not the outgoing Administration.

The way I see it, we’re looking at four potential November Smackdowns:

  • Obama vs. Romney. The GQ special. It will be fascinating to watch them debate and debate without saying anything. And the press will eat it up.
  • Obama vs. Giuliani. Obama would kick his ass. I hope. Giuliani is a nasty politician and Obama’s style of kindly nothingness will easily best Rudy’s bare-knuckle 9/11 exploitation.
  • Clinton vs. Romney. Romney wins this one easily. People don’t like Clinton. Even the excitement of a potential female President will not mask her basic nastiness and totalitarian leanings. Even having a slick politician like her husband on her side will not prevent her from getting out the vote . . . for the Republicans. By contrast, Romney has that Clinton-esque ability to come down on both sides of every issue. I would expect it to meet with similar sucess but fewer Oval Office blowjobs.
  • Clinton vs. Giuliani. The NY Senate race we should have had in 2000. Frankly, leave me out of this. This will be nasty nasty nasty. They will both try to be pleasant — and fail. Pleasantness is not in them. The only way Rudi can win is he’s up against someone even less likable (and equally corrupt
  • As you can tell, I’m not terribly optimistic. Romney and Obama cross me as having the best chance to be President come January 2009. They’re slick, optimistic, well-spoken and avoid nastiness. God knows what we’ll get with either of them. But I suspect they will be better than what we’ve got now.

    It would be hard to be worse.

    Belt Up!

    Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

    OK, riddle me this: how come spaceships in sci-fi series, no matter how sophisticated, never have seatbelts to keep the cast from being flung all over the place whenever the ship experiences the slightest jolt? For crying out loud, we’re a few laws away from shooting people for not buckling their seat belts when they’re parked, yet Captain Picard gets flung out of his chair every time someone farts in engineering.