Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans Doe!

In another Homer-Simpson moment for mankind he is informed by mother nature that building a city with half a million citizens in a swamp that is lower than sea level and in an area prone to hurricanes was probably not a good idea. As the death toll and costs rise we cannot blame a big wind cloud or some brakish water. The wind is going to blow and the water is going to flow.

"Everyone said I was daft to build a castle in the swamp but I built it all the same. Just to show'em. And it sank into the swamp. So I built another castle and it sank into the swamp. Then I built a third, that burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up...."
-Michael Palin as the king of Swamp Castle MontyPython and the Holy Grail.

We are fleas on a very big dog and we have really no idea when the dog will decide to scratch us off.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Crude arguments

The conservative talking point about oil prices:
They are high because the US has not built a new refinery in 30 years and it is all the liberals fault.

The truth:
The raw materials in the manufacturing process for gasoline have increased 242% since 2000. That is a barrel of crude cost $28 in 2000 and now costs $68. The crude oil requirements for the world are 84.38 million barrels a day, while the production of crude is currently 84.12 million barrels per day. The United States is still far better off than most nations in that it generates almost half its required supply of crude oil.

Where the conservative talkers get it wrong, and it is debatable whether they get it wrong because they are misinformed or are hacks for the oil companies, is that they confuse the price at the pump with the price of crude. The conservative is correct in saying that refining more crude into gas would drive prices slightly lower. Currently, according the DOE, US refineries are NOT producing at maximum capacity. The DOE does not elucidate exactly why that is and admits as much saying "crude oil input to refineries is down 300,000 barrels per day compared to the same period a year ago. This while crude oil imports, over the same period, are up over 300,000 barrels per day." Refiners are stock piling crude oil. This is a big reason why prices continue to rise. This is also a reason why energy companies are racking up gigantic profits. I think there may be a good reason why refiners are stockpiling. If the raw material is increasing in wholesale cost, it would pay to buy more now and stockpile it betting that the price in the future will be even higher.

The only thing that will drive prices down is either increased production of crude, refinement of current stockpiles into gasoline, or increased price controls set down in DC. Either way the citizen will pay since increased price controls usually come in the form of a portion of his/her taxes going to artificially lower the pump price by paying Exxon, Chevron, etc. the difference. At any rate the arguments are academic since the rapid industrialization of the 3rd world, particularly in Asia is going to mean that there will be continued upward pressure on the prices of all natural resources not just light sweet crude.

The statistics contained herein come from the Energy Information Administration which is part of The Department of Energy, which is under the control of that hot~headed little green liberal George W. Bush

Friday, August 19, 2005

Don't make fake Quotes!

A blind "damns the torpedos!" attitude is as fateful to anti-Bushies as it is to those that like him. An excellent example is the fake quote bandied about by some liberals attributed either to Caesar or to Shakespeare's Caesar. No where in any known documents is the quote mentioned and certainly not in the play. I will not regurgitate it here. Suffice to say that it talks about beating war drums and the people giving up their liberty to a dictator..blah..blah...blah...

I actually heard a Democratic State Senator spount the quote today on Al Frankin and he should have caught it for what it was. Of course the quote sounds soooo good. It seems to fit Bush to a tee. But the problem with spouting stuff like that is that the enemy can volley right back that you are full of crap and that you eithe made it up or didn't check your facts. So you end up looking or sounding like a dufus.

If people want to quote shakespeare for anti-war remarks here is one from Henry V. And I have added the Act, and scene and dramtis~personae speaking. So you can check to see if I am making it up or not.

HENVY V Act 4 Scene 1

Williams: But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath
a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and
arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join
together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at
such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a
surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind
them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their
children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die
well that die in a battle; for how can they
charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their
argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it
will be a black matter for the king that led them to
it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of

Of course using this quote can get the enemy to retort with the retort used by Henry V against it. But you can volley back saying "Ah so you are now sticking up for a King?"

You can also say that in modern times we are the King and that it behooves us to make sure that we send the army to fight in a just cause based on facts, and truth not lies, misinformation and vague guesses.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mid August Poll Crunch

Since so much stuff has been happening I am coming out with a mid-month review of the Presidents poll numbers. Here you go for your polling pleasure:

Approve: 43% (down 1%)
Disapprove: 52% (up 1%)
Duh I Dunno: 5% (holding steady)

What does this say about Bush? I suppose you could be cynical and say that dispite the disaster in Iraq, the trouble with Iran, the statospheric gas prices, etc, he is still garnering 43%. To the 43% he is the greatest President since Julius Caesar. To speak up for the guy I would say, "Who really cares what the people think? He is President, doesn't have to run for electioni again, has a friendly congress, so big deal about the polls."

If people are waiting for Bush to decide to be somebody other than the man he is they can forget it. I honestly don't think he cares if he leaves office with a 1% approval rating. He simply doesn't care what people think of him.

It isn't good to have a President who does not care what the people think of him. I do not want a President to govern by poll. That being said, I do want a President who has the ability to listen. We do not have an active listener in the White House. We have a man who sees himself as the leader, while posessing few qualities for that position.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Review of Battlefield Vietnam

"You gov-a-ment lie to you GIJOE. Poor GIJOE. You helicopters fall from the sky like borken birds." This is blaring away from psych warfare megaphones as I try to reclaim the city of Hui from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) In this episode I am a soldier in the South Vietnamese army so I have a vietnamese general yelling at me on the radio.

In another episode I am crawling through the jungle and I get this idiot screaming in my radio, "We're getting wasted! Lets get the hell out of here!" So I change my direction and converge on the problem, only to find out that it is a couple of VC in a hijacked Jeep.

I like this game a lot. The theme song, if you can call it that, is Jefferson Airplanes "White Rabbit" an homage to Platoon, and music from CCR, homage to Forrest Gump. Of course during the actual actions you are not listening to music. But the graphics, the musical selection. It does an excellent job at making you feel like a conscript. The game play is pretty predictable and you get to respawn.

These games are not quite as interesting as the Medal of Honor series since the objective is really strategic in nature. I cannot single handedly take the city of Hui. There are all sort of SOB's on my side in jeeps, tanks, and half-tracks that help out. So you end up feeling like a cog in a big war machine. Probably more realistic.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hundred Years War ala Plastic Knights Posted by Picasa

Jeff and Cooper all stressed out Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My energy plan coopted by the Chinese...Darn!

Recently I pontificated about going all out with energy capture. One ideax I had was to turn buildings into power generators. Basically capturing energy that is litterally going through the roof.
Well the Chinese have decided to install total roof top solar collectors on 100,000 buildings in Shanghi. The cost is roughly 15 million US dollars. Once completed, in 2015, Shanghi will generate 430 million kilowatt hours of electrical power. That would cover the total current electrical requirements of that city with 130 million KWH to spare, thus making the city electrically selfsufficient.
Oh well maybe the Bushleague will come to the rescue by drinking the coolaid and getting out of the way of real progress.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The filling, and re-filling of a seemingly bottomless pit

I learn stuff and then have to relearn stuff all the time. I hear people spout off about things and so have to try and determine if they are right or not. For instance I was listening to a guy talk about how the English had the first professionally recruited European army. Something didn't quite fit here. I had to do some cobb-web sweeping in my head.
Actually the prize for the creation of the first professionally recruited, thus modern, army goes to Philip, Duke of Burgundy, in mid 15th century. The burgundians werre tired of having to rely on the wims of vassesls, and mercinaries to fight their wars. So the opted to recruite their army from the general population. The burgundian army was comprised of a true crossection of society, from lords to burgers to free peasents.
The army of Burgundy was another nail in the coffin of the purely feudal army. It was also an army under strict orders not to harm non-combatents. For instance if the army came to a town and had to camp there, a civil affairs unit was sent in to negotiate lodging and food that had to be paid for at market prices. Raping and piliaging non-combatents was punishable by fines, jail, torture, and even death. Swearing and verbal abuse was also not to be tolerated.
Of course it was an army in an age when Europe was a battlefield. Bad things happened to good people all the time. But the army of the Dukes of Burgundy was the model looked to by the kings of France, England, and the Empire.

After a late night Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Intelligent Designers

It really matters very little what creationists, intelligent designers, or biblical literalists say about science. Money talks and money goes into products that work. And products that work are built upon reality not mysticism. So The afore mentioned types can bitch all they want but scientific progress is not going to stop, it will not slow down, it will continue to increase human knowledge and mankinds ability to do good and evil. Most are arguing about things that have long since been settled. It is their fraith that needs to broaden. If their faith cannot expand to accept facts, then eventually they will either cave into paranoid fanaticism or simply give up and become aetheists.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Poll Crunch as of 8-2-05

Relying on 7 national polls here is the breakdown of President Bush's job approval rating:

Approve: 44% Down 1% since June
Disapprove: 51% Up 1% since June
Duh I dunno: 5% Holding steady

Interestingly we now have a split with one organizationi heading in the opposite direction for the first time since January. FOXNews is bucking the overwhelming trend by giving Bush a 47% to 44% rating, while it also has the highest level of uncertain respondents at 9%. Pew Research that has the largest sampling data gives the presdient 44% approval rating and a 48% dis rating.

The question that all these organizations ask is "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

There is now breakdown of how the nation thinks Mr Bush is doing on specific issues. It is a general question. However things look particularly bleak for the President. These numbers have been returend after the London bombgings, the Clark nomination to the High Court, and before the Bolton recess appointment. That appointment alone will not improve the Presidents numbers. A Presidents ability to get things done in a Democratic republic is based on his ability to convince the other elected officials that he has the people behind his actions.

Interestingly in July of 2004 there was a Poll that asked people to rate Bill Clinton: He got a 66% approval rating. The same rating he left office with in 2001.

For those of you who may question the data here is where it comes from:
Poll-crunch data is derived from 7384 respondents to the following polling organizations with the responding numbers listed:

Zogby America: 1042
Gallup/CNN/USAToday: 1010
FoxNews: 900
Quinnipiac University: 920
Pew Research: 1502
Associated Press: 1000
NBC/WallStreetJournal: 1009

Review of The Island

This movie is my favorite movie of the summer. It is hands down the most exiting flick of the big blockbusters. It is both exiting, funny, mildly scary, and very well put together. It has its flaws but they are obvious and still do not detract from the excitment. You would think that this subject has been down already and it has but this film proves that if you have pretty good actors, and a decent script, you can pull off almost anything.

I won't give away the plot but here are some inconsistancies. #1: The citizens are not sexually active, yet there is a pregnant woman. #2: Investors have spent 120 billion on the facility but each product only costs $5 million and there are 2,500 of them. That is a pretty sucky return. But perhaps they want to make it up on volume.

Ewan McGregor proves he can act...again.

Overall it is a solid future-shock movie that holds true to its identity and does not blow vomit chunks as soooooo many other movies about this kind of stuff tend to do.

It gets an 8

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Atom Bomb

It has been 60 years since the atom bombs and so let us look at what the military leadership of WWII had to say about the dropping of the bombs....

General Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Here is what the Commanding General of Allied armies in Europe said recalling his being told of the determination to use the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. Secretary of War Stimson met with General Eisenhower to tell him of the decision to use the Atomic Bomb...

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..."

Admiral William Leahy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
"the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender." Moreover, Leahy continued, "in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

Admiral "Bull" Halsey:
"the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment." The Japanese, he noted, had "put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before" the bomb was used.

General Douglas MacArthur: (as told by his aid Norman Cousins)
"MacArthur's views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed." He continues, "When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor."

The Author: Me
It would be nice to believe in the pretended justification that American and Japanese lives were actually saved by the use of the bombs. However there is very little evidence of this. The Atomic bombs were warning signs, not to Japan, but to Soviet Russia. It is ironic that the scientists that asked Truman to demonstrate the bombs basically got what they wanted, albeit on live targets.

Happy 60th Birthday Fatman and Littleboy.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Birthday wish for 2006

Since I know that all of you really want to know what I want for next year. Here is the #1 item. I am sure, given the achievment of certain goals, you all can chip in for it.

I would like to replace the 95 Plymouth Voyager with a 2006 Saleen S7.
Go to to check it out. Now the car is slightly out of my current price range. It has a 750HP V-8 and can go from 0-100 in 6.0 seconds. I am sure the gas milage is probably a bit poor but I am banking on the discovery of vast petroleum reserves in Dick Cheney's Ass. Now as I said it is a little spendy at $555,000 but if all of you save your change in glass jars, and then go to work as subcontractors in Iraq doing private security work in insurgent areas you might be able to buy this car for me while I wait in the US all safe and sound. Some of you may die, but it a price I am willing to pay.

Thanks for listening. XOXO

Uber Slob

Time to refute Marx

It is summer so I end up reading all sorts of stuff. Last week I read the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. You'd have to be a real uneducated, desperately oppressed worker in a 19th century sweat-shop to buy into this stuff. Marx gets for his accurate picture of the nasty face of capitalism. He also does a terrific job of illustrating how capitalism itself does a better job of destroying private property rights. Where he falls down is in his simple minded view of human motivations. He seems to think that all aspects of a human being can be molded by philosophy. This very flaw in Marx's thinking caused the USSR to fall far behind the west in modern biology and genetics, but that is a different story.
Basically I can refute 100% of the foundation of the Manifesto by saying that human beings, by and large, and like all animals, act out of self-interest 99% of the time. Oh they may throw themselves on the odd grenade now and then, but during the long boring days of life they usually act selfishly.
So in a communist state, where the STATE owns all the property, those in the government tend to get richer while the masses, who have no property rights anymore, and don't have time to manage the the government who is supposed to represent the people, tend to get poorer. Marxism is really Super Capitalism. The culminatioin of the consolidation of capital into the smallest number of hands and inforced by the STATE. Human nature cannot be molded by philosophy. It is the survival instinct at work.
According to Marx the STATE must control property, communication, and education. The more the STATE attempts to force adherence to the philosophy, through its over arching power, the more tyranical it becomes since the vast majority of the government is really beyond the reach of the average joe-communist. So the average joe is made a pawn again, ruled by unaccountable super-capitalists, and forced to accept propaganda for news and told to accept by-faith the STATE's actions as legit.
America's form of social organisation, though far from perfect, is still more able to keep what Jefferson called "a due degree of Liberty" since the power, both social and financial, is still scattered. Basically abosotule power, even in the hands of the people, still corupts.
The communist may try to retort by saying that it is in the worker's self interest to adhere to communistic life. I counter that the argument just made is false since the worker will never see himself as the STATE. Particularly as long as he is told where to work, where to live, and what to think by the STATE. Unless the STATE's agenda constantly matches the agendas of the worker. This will never happen. So the worker will set himself in opposition to the STATE, like capitalist workers in opposition to management, and clandestinely work to undermind it.
So you end up with a STATE that is corrupt and workers who pay the state lip service and increasingly are at odds with the corupt STATE. Since there is no real unifying power in such a society, other forces fall into the vacume and you end up with a nation that may look unified by is really a bunch of disaffected partisans ready for another revolution.

Sorry Karl.