Jan
31
2010
1

“Re: Your Brains.”

My wife hates this song, for some reason. I’m also apparently not really supposed to sing it to the children as a lullaby.


Re: Your Brains, Jonathan Coulton

But how will they learn that you should never trust zombies, otherwise?

Jan
31
2010
--

Book of the Week: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

You guys know that I’m a sucker for this sort of thing: and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is written by the same guy who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, so I’m doubly going to be down with that. Just the way it is.

And so a farewell to Tongues of Serpents.

Jan
31
2010
--

Any excuse to put up a Feynman speech… #rsrh

…is a good one; but as commenter Skip notes here, this is a particularly good time to remind the universe of this particular speech.

But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

Hey, that Richard Feynman guy was kind of smart, wasn’t he? Wonder how he would have reacted to the IPCC meltdown.

Jan
31
2010
1

The headline some of you thought you’d never see. #rsrh

Mind you, I always thought that we would, although I guessed that it’d take about 20 months to show up, not 12.

GOP to tie Obama to Dem candidates.”

Isn’t it pretty? More:

The challenge will be to link Democrats with the administration on such issues as spending, bailouts, healthcare and cap-and-trade while not personally attacking Obama, who remains personally well-liked even as his standing erodes. So, at least in purple states or districts, don’t expect to see an ad where the faces of Democratic candidates are morphed into that of the president—a time-honored approach from past campaigns.

But Republicans are unmistakably enthusiastic – and downright giddy in some cases – about the prospect of Democrats stumping with the president in their states, a vivid reminder about how starkly different the political landscape seems now than when Obama took office.

Thus, expect a lot of the President being lumped in with such… iconic… Democrats as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Murtha, and Al Franken (add your own favorite clown, crook, or creep, of course). Which suggests that there’s an interesting counter-move for this administration…

Moe Lane

Jan
31
2010
--

Reassuring Dolphin Video FAIL.

I know that the intent of Cute Overload was to make me think “Aw, look at those clever dolphins!”

…but what I actually thought after watching the above was “Thank God that those sons of bitches don’t have hands.”

Then again, I read Cracked.com.  I may have some bias, there.

Jan
31
2010
3

IPCC science settles in transit. #rsrh

Oh, my aching head. Via Drudge:

UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article

The United Nations’ expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world’s mountain tops on a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

Well, maybe there was still actual science going on…

…one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

Or not.

Moe Lane

PS: Here’s a little secret about scientific consensus, folks: it assumes – it has to assume – that trusted users are not lying. Nobody can check everything, all the time, so eventually you have to rely on people not abusing the fact that they’re going to have their word taken on their results.

It generally works, too. You have to remember that.  Most scientists play be the rules, which is why we continue to see scientific and technological advances.  But when they don’t play by the rules, you get scandals like this.

Jan
31
2010
2

Maybe – *maybe* – teaching Obama?

(Via Hot Air Headlines) Let me add a thought to this observation by Jazz Shaw:

It seems to me that Obama is a good enough politician that he can read the writing on the wall. He’s going to have to start dealing with a significantly more powerful Republican force in Congress next year and seems to be laying the groundwork to get something done. Smart for the Republicans. Smart for Obama. The problem is, a lot of the President’s most liberal supporters are clearly having a hard time coping with the idea of both parties having some input to the governmental process. They’ll come along kicking and screaming sooner or later, but for now it’s going to remain The Audacity of Cope.

…which is this: the President does not need a Beijing Consensus in order to look good.  In fact, a drubbing of his party in November would probably be excuse enough for him to abandon what are a whole raft of unpopular policy positions, appear ‘bipartisan,’ and run on that in 2012.  It would require a certain willingness for the President to throw his legislative colleagues under the bus en masse, though: and, really, how likely is that?

Moe Lane

PS: Primary challenge?  Bless your heart, but the President’s already having the rules changed so that others cannot not do unto him as he did unto Clinton.  Gotta love those top-down political organizations, yes?

Crossposted to RedState.

Jan
31
2010
1

Paul Krugman reads Pejman Yousefzadeh?

Ahem.
Ahem.
AHEM.

But obviously, Paul Krugman needs to read Pejman Yousefzadeh more. And for more than the zingers.

Moe Lane

PS: Those last two sentences work even if you think that this was just a coincidence.

Crossposted to RedState.

Jan
30
2010
--

Random observations from my day.

  1. People apparently complained that the movie Alien Trespass was merely a faithful revisiting of 1950s-style Atomic horror flicks. For some sad, deluded people, this is a bad thing.
  2. Dragon Age: Origins is blessed with some damn good dialogue writers, as the latest expansion demonstrates. Slightly startlingly.
  3. My kids apparently don’t want me to play Mario Kart. Ever.

That is all.

Jan
30
2010
2

Health care rationing disaster averted by MLK Day?

It was a close-run thing, folks.  The nearest-run thing you ever saw.

Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said negotiators from the White House, Senate and House reached a final deal on healthcare reform days before Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.

Labor leaders had announced an agreement with White House and congressional representatives over an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans on the Thursday before the special election.

[snip]

Harkin said “we had an agreement, with the House, the White House and the Senate. We sent it to [the Congressional Budget Office] to get scored and then Tuesday happened and we didn’t get it back.” He said negotiators had an agreement in hand on Friday, Jan. 15.

(Via The Corner) No chance at that point for calling an emergency session on Saturday the 16th or Sunday the 17th, of course. But Monday the 18th… was Martin Luther King Day. In other words, a federal holiday. So there was no chance of action until Tuesday the 19th; and Tuesday the 19th was too late.  Imagine what it would have looked like if they had passed this thing on the very day that Scott Brown won a Senate election in Massachusetts on a platform of stopping this thing; but even if you couldn’t, Democratic legislators apparently could.

Moe Lane

PS: Nope, it’s not even ironic.  Just… karmic.

Crossposted to RedState.

Jan
30
2010
1

Pelosi’s 100 grand bar tab with the USAF. #rsrh

That’s ‘in-flight expenses.’ The full cost for ferrying around the Speaker and the House by the USAF was 2.1 million.  Some details:

Speaker Pelosi used Air Force aircraft to travel back to her district at an average cost of $28,210.51 per flight. The average cost of an international CODEL is $228,563.33. Of the 103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations (CODEL), 31 trips included members of the House Speaker’s family.

One CODEL traveling from Washington, DC, through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq May 15-20, 2008, “to discuss matters of mutual concern with government leaders” included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone. Purchases for the CODEL included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine.

You know, when it comes to air travel, most jobs require you to fly coach.  And pay for your own booze.  How fortunate we are to have Congressional leadership who are prepared to rise above such picayune considerations…

Moe Lane

PS: Via Dan Collins, who is upset about the Corona. Eh, stick a lime slice in it and it’s drinkable enough. That being said, what the hell is wrong with Pyramid Breweries?  They’re from freaking California!

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