Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm Tempted to Quote Dylan Thomas...

...but the grouchy old son-of-a-bitch would have (rightfully) slapped me down, if he'd bothered to notice (bloody unlikely.)  Goodbye Hitchens. I, for one, will miss you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Give Pizza a Chance!

Sheesh, what could I possibly add to this?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fantastic Four

That's Susan Rice, David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Barack Obama.  Somehow I doubt the Teahadists (heh, stolen from the comments in the linked piece) will appreciate this very much!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Silly Me...

How did I manage to miss this tune until now?  

Monday, February 7, 2011

What? Was that a little too "Free Jazz" for ya?

Well, try this on for size:

Frank sure could play...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I guess I'm a...

churlish, joyless dick.  But while hating on the 'peas appeals to me for any number of reasons, I think I'll just post an antidote.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Limits of Discourse

Brendan provides some real clarity regarding the looming debate about rhetoric in the wake of the Giffords shooting.
Can we blame an individual act by some loon on a specific statement by a specific prominent conservative blowhard? Probably not, not any more than we can attribute a single nasty storm to anthropogenic global warming. But, as with AGW, there is something we can say with confidence -- muck with the climate, and you increase the odds that extreme events will happen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Seriously Perfesser?

Does Glenn Reynolds think any more highly of his readers than most of the rest of the world (that part of it consisting of people who aren't right-bloggers) seems to?  I think I already know the answer to that question, obviously, or I probably wouldn't be posing it like this; but really:

JUAN WILLIAMS says that Sarah Palin can’t stand on the same intellectual stage as Barack Obama. He offers no evidence, however, for the proposition that Obama is particularly bright, and I can’t say I see a big difference.
Obama’s former colleague Richard Epstein says:

I like Obama but I reject the suggestion that he is an intellectual. He is an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual.
Personally, I think Richard Epstein’s a better judge of who’s intellectual than Juan Williams is. But I think most of the press — for whom the phrase “an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual” may also apply — is easier to fool.
I'm not here to defend Obama's status as an "intellectual," per se.  I'm pretty certain that stands regardless of what I think or write about it.  By definition, I think, somebody with an Ivy law degree and a history of teaching Constitutional Law qualifies.  (Right, Perfesser?)  But, it's clear that Williams really meant the word as an adjective, that is, somewhat less technically than what's generally meant by the noun sense of the word.  And, Reynolds is reframing the question in terms of "bright"-ness, taking the claim even further from any specific sense of what an "intellectual" is supposed to be.  Obviously, trivially, the claim is false (I mean, like him or not, how do you mount an honest argument that Obama isn't "bright?") and Reynolds' supporting link goes to an attack piece whose strongest on-point claim is that Obama has never published an article in the Harvard Law Review under his own name.  (Most of the rest of that piece is boilerplate complaints about Obama's "leftism.")

So, Glenn Reynolds posts something about Obama on his blog that is manifestly, obviously false and doesn't even bother to try to support that claim with anything relevant, and doesn't seem at all embarrassed about that.  Which leads me back to my original question.  How little does Reynolds think of the people he writes for?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Inappropriate Rubbing?

I wish I needed a better argument than "Catholic League president Bill Donohue is a piece of shit;" but:  Catholic League president Bill Donohue is a piece of shit:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on a news story about a former priest who molested a male listed as John Doe:
On September 28, the Chicago Tribune reported that "former Chicago priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormick sexually abused him [Doe] while he was a grammar school student." We then learn that the student was really a middle-school student, in the eighth grade, when the abuse began. The abuse reportedly continued for five years. According to the lawsuit, "McCormack inappropriately sexually touched, hugged, rubbed and/or abused Doe."
It's time to ask some tough questions. Why did this young man not object earlier? Why did he allow the "abuse" to continue until he was 18? The use of the quotes is deliberate: the charge against the former priest is not rape, but rubbing. While still objectionable, there is a glacial difference between being rubbed and raped.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How long before we start hearing people screaming "Censorship!"?

Koran burner Derek Fenton booted from his job at NJ Transit

He exercised his Constitutional Rights.  Good for him.  NJ Transit chose to exercise theirs.  I feel bad for the guy, he has a family and he's probably basically a nice guy.  The hysteria over the not-exactly-a-Mosque is hurting a lot of people and serves the purposes of nobody except racists like Pamela "Geller" Oshry.

Batshit Wins!

Good grief. At least it's good news for Democrats,

Friday, September 10, 2010

So the idea here is...

... that it's wrong to build an Islamic center near human remains?   It's not worth pointing out how insultingly stupid this is, but does this kind of blatant demagoguery appeal to anyone except bigots?  Politics in the U.S just keeps getting nastier and dumber.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cool New Blog

Clear Science.

Clear Science is dedicated to straightforward science lessons in plain English everyone can understand.

Everything here is real, hardcore science. Nothing is dumbed down, but the presentation aims to be clear. You will never be blinded with science!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Malkin Seems to Lack a Sense of Irony

What else do I have to say? 

Lead Story

How to spot and tag a Tea Party infiltrator

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 15, 2010 09:09 AM
Happy Tax Day Tea Party. Be safe out there. A few tips on how to spot and tag a Tea Party infiltrator:
1. Ask them what the 10th amendment says.
2. Two letters: B.O. (and I’m not talking about the president’s initials).
3. Glaringly obvious lack of subtlety.
4. Upside-down flags.

That "subtlety" link goes to World Net Daily," in what I can only guess to be striving for extra points.
Btw, "Upside-down flags?"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


@fivethirtyeight RT 59% of tea-party identifiers have a favorable view of Glenn Beck; 7% of all others do.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Health Care Reform passes the House!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dagmar Krause Sings Surabaya Johnny

There's nobody else remotely like Dagmar Krause.  From the empty lilt of "Just A Conversation" on Slapp Happy's debut, Sort Of, to the shrieking menace of "Joan" on the Art Bears' Hopes and Fears, and through all of the insouciant sophistication for which Slapp Happy was responsible; her range as a singer is incomparable.  The beauty and uniqueness of her voice are also notable.  Here she covers Brecht/Weill better than anybody since Lotte Lenya.  There also a German version by Dagmar available (and recommended - also hear her Mack the Knife in German - my personal favorite version, even over Ella's magnificent mangling from Ella in Berlin.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Trane Day!

It's John Coltrane's birthday.

The Origin of Stupidity

She has it covered, nothing more need be said.

h/t @kezboard

I missed her on Pharyngula, apparently.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


How did I miss posting this?   This is NGC 6302, variously referred to the Bug Nebula, or the Butterfly Nebula, a bipolar (symmetric, two-lobed) planetary nebula located about 4000 light-years away, in the constellation Scorpius.  It is a grand, complex example, beautifully imaged here - one of the first images, in fact, from the newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope.  This is an APOD image.  Click the image here to go to the APOD page.  Click the image there for a higher resolution version of the photo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Missile Defense: It Doesn't Work

Here's a list of flight test results for the GMD (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) - the system we're now not going to deploy in Eastern Europe. As you read down the table, look for the successes. You might note the FTG-05 test result (from December 5, 2008).   Looks pretty good, right? Here's the associated press release. It certainly looks like the best result so far.  (Up until that test, the successful results always included caveats about the speed of the target, the nature of the target, etc...)  But what's missing?  The salient phrase used to describe the nature of the target here is "threat representative."  What I don't see is any reference to the operative definition of that phrase in this context.  Do you think I'm being a little picayune?  Doesn't "threat representative" mean what it seems to say?  If you're at all familiar with the defense industry, you'll know that almost every bit of technical jargon is a term of art, an arbitrary designation often depicting something that seems at odds with the plain meaning of the words used. Think of "collateral damage" as a euphemism for dead civilians.  If you doubt this consider the words of Jack Hitt (h/t bjkeefe):

Missile defense exists in a world of its own. It has a special budget process that exempts it from most congressional oversight, and it is pioneering a new acquisitions process that redefines the very nature of what constitutes a "threat." The system has a separate definition to denote what it means for a weapon to "work" and even what it means to "know" something to be true. The shield operates beyond the world of empirical testing, and outside the four service branches of the U.S. military.
 I recommend reading the whole article, and Brendan's blog post, both linked above.

Ignoring this one result, for the moment, there is nothing in the test record that provides any degree of confidence in the GMD - none.  All of the "successes" are at best, technical successes - that is they indicate some benchmark has been reached; or they're dumbed down demonstrations that something can be hit with something else, disregarding the important consideration that the ballistic properties of the target don't bear any resemblance to those of an actual target.  Another factor ignored is the existence of realistic decoys - the only decoy tests listed used a small number of balloons to simulate the existence of decoy warheads.  These are important benchmarks, to be sure; but, the ability to distinguish a lighter than air, comparatively slow moving soft target, from a missile warhead traveling at supersonic speeds does not provide any sort of real world confirmation of an anti missile system.

I don't see any reason to believe that the FTG-05 result provides any reason for greater confidence, based on what has so far been published.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Irreducibly Complex Edition (John McWhorter & Michael Behe)

Thanks to BHtv commenter graz for posting the file.

The original diavlog has been reposted at

Sunday, April 19, 2009

J. G. Ballard

Vaughn died yesterday in his last car-crash. During our friendship he had rehearsed his death in many crashes, but this was his only true accident. Driven on a collision course towards the limousine of the film actress, his car jumped the rails of the London airport flyover and plunged through the roof of a bus filled with airline passengers. The crushed bodies of package tourists, like a haemorrhage of the sun, still lay across the vinyl seats when I pushed my way through the police engineers an hour later. Holding the arm of her chauffeur, the film actress Elizabeth Taylor, with whom Vaughan had dreamed of dying for so many months, stood alone under the revolving ambulance lights. As I knelt over Vaughan’s body she placed a gloved hand to her throat.

So begins Crash: A Novel, an iconic, controversial novel of obsession and the nexus of technology and sexuality, written in the middle of the twentieth century, when the vision of technology was best represented by modes of transportation, rather than methods of information processing. The story still seems to accurately portray contemporary modes of obsession with startling clarity.

J. G. Ballard died today. Ballard was a fiercely smart British writer, similar in many ways to his contemporary, Brian W. Aldiss, Ballard wrote science fiction that was so much more psychologically sophisticated than what was being produced at the time that his work, and that of Aldiss, Norman Spinrad and a few others that a subgenre "British New Wave" was named to distinguish it - famously represented by the Michael Moorcock edited editions of New Worlds magazine. Ballard was probably best known for his novel Empire of the Sun, and the Spielberg movie of the same name. Crash was, of course, filmed by David Cronenberg. I can't think of another author whose work would have attracted such disparate attention.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


What's remarkable about this beautiful image is that it's literally a scene from another galaxy. It's a picture of the Tarantula Nebula, an H II region (a cloud of glowing gas and plasma) in the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of the closest galaxies to, in fact a satellite of, the Milky way. The nebula is an extremely bright object, if it were as close as the Orion Nebula, it would cast shadows. It's also the location of the nearest supernova since the invention of the telescope. This is an APOD image, click once for the APOD page, click the image there for a high-resolution version.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


NGC 2818 is a strikingly attractive planetary nebula found in the southern constellation Pyxis (The Compass). The beautiful hues pictured here are the result of a sequence of exposures through narrow-band filters, highlighting emission from nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms showing as red, green, and blue in the image. This is an APOD image. Click through to see the APOD page, click the image there for a higher resolution version.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This is a depiction of a pair of the most conspicuous objects in the night sky (after major solar system objects). On the left is shown one the most recognizable nebulae of all, the Horsehead Nebula. On the right, the Orion Nebula, an object bright enough to easily seen by the naked eye – it appears as the middle “star” in Orion’s sword. Both are, in fact, parts of the vast Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, an object which, despite being about 1300 light years away, has an apparent size similar to your outstretched hand held at arm’s length in the direction of the constellation of Orion. (Which itself is one of the easiest to find and recognizable patterns in the night sky.) This is one of the most beautiful and keenly observed objects in astronomy. It's a stellar nursery, (in other words a molecular cloud in which stars are actively forming) the closest such in existence, and studied pretty closely as a result.

This is an APOD image. Click the image here for the APOD page, click the image there for a detailed view.