Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The johnkerry Disease

Poor Nancy Pelosi is pulling out her eyebrows. Harry Reed can’t stop butting his head against the slot machine in his Senate office. Slow Joe Biden spent an hour and a half splainin what john kerry really meant when he told the college audience in Pasadena yesterday that they had better stay in school or they will be stuck in Iraq with the loser US military. Today kerry stated that he wanted to make it absolutely clear… he was talking about George Bush, not about the US military. What?

Listen here
What do you hear? Was he talking about Bush?

Denigrating American soldiers is what kerry does best. He did it in front of the US Senate when he got back from Vietnam. More recently, in Dec, 2005 on Face the Nation he accused U.S. troops of terrorizing Iraqi women and children:

And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs.

And then he tells us who needs to be terrorizing the women and children:

Whether you like it or not... Iraqis should be doing that.

Once again, kerry shows his disdain for the US military. And his traiterous pronouncements are used by the Democratic Party to prop up their chances in the 2006 and 2008 elections. But this time the kerrydisease has metastasized into a cancer that needs to be excised.

The National Commander of The American Legion called on kerry to apologize for suggesting that American troops in Iraq are uneducated.

"As leader of The American Legion, I am outraged," said National Commander Paul A. Morin. "A generation ago, Sen. Kerry slandered his comrades in Vietnam by saying that they were rapists and murderers. It wasn't true then and his warped view of today's heroes isn't true now."

Morin continued: “The troops in Iraq represent the most sophisticated, technologically superior military that the world has ever seen. I think there is a thing or two that they could teach most college professors and campus elitists about the way the world works.”

The Veterans organization AMVETS' National Commander Thomas C. McGriff expressed disbelief and disappointment:

“For the Senator to suggest that today’s United States military is made up of uneducated men and women who didn’t ‘study hard’ or ‘make an effort to be smart’ is ridiculous and appalling. The men and women in uniform today make up the most advanced, highly-educated force ever seen. To suggest otherwise is a slap in the face to every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman who has spent countless hours working to better him or herself. It is especially outrageous coming from a member of the U.S. Senate.”


A recent Gallup poll shows that the most admired profession in America is the military, followed by the police and clergy. Senators are near the bottom of the list (kerry is dead last).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Serious Matters

Making fun of liberals and Democrats is a constant entertainment. But there are times when I need to be serious and one of them looms on Nov. 7. It is critically important for Americans to get this one right.

On talk radio shows I frequently hear that there is not a significant difference between Democrats and Republicans, usually followed by a complaint about government spending: “This Republican congress is spending like a herd of drunken Democrats.” While I am disappointed by the porkish behavior of the current congress (not once vetoed by the president), I believe that Republicans could never outspend even sober Democrats. Anyway, government spending is not the most important thing to me.

The things that matter most are what separate us from the libdems.

1. Libdems believe that one belief system is as good as another. This is called moral relativism. America’s founding fathers would disagree.

2. Libdems believe that “war is never the answer.” For fun, I’ll call this idea jimmycarterism. The “Greatest Generation” would disagree.

3. Libdems believe that America is too powerful and that we consume too much of the world’s resources. Such jealousy is at the heart of anti-Americanism.

4. Libdems believe that there is a “wall of separation” between religion and government. This unfounded idea is at the core of secularism. Again, the founding fathers would disagree.

5. Libdems believe that human generated global warming is the most serious problem facing mankind. Let’s call this lunacy algorism.

There are other characteristics of libdems; my friend Dennis Prager has a questionnaire on his web site that will tell you if you are a liberal. It is Prager’s belief that “about half of the Americans who call themselves liberal do not hold the great majority of positions held by mainstream liberal institutions such as the New York Times editorial page, People for the American Way, and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.”

I agree, with one proviso: Dennis wrote this before the Democratic Party was taken over by its liberal wing (witness Senator Joe Liberman).

Here are a few of his defining statements that illustrate the big five libdem beliefs.

1. No culture is morally superior to any other. The Israelis and Palestinians are morally equivalent.

2. During the Cold War, America should have adopted a nuclear arms freeze. It was wrong to wage war against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.

3. The United Nations is a moral force for good in the world, and therefore America should be subservient to it and such international institutions as a world court.

4. It is wrong and unconstitutional for students to be told, "God bless you" at their graduation.

Dennis wrote before algorism was in popular vogue, so I’ll offer this liberal example:

5. The environment is constantly degrading, a problem that is direr even than having weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists.

Liberals in America are joined in these beliefs by liberal foreigners throughout the Western world. I have this on good authority from my blog readers in Canada, Britain, Australia and San Francisco.

In 1787, Scottish history professor Alexander Tyler said about the fall of the Athenian Republic 2,000 years earlier: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury."

He traced the steps taken by democratic societies from bondage to spiritual faith to great courage to liberty to abundance to complacency to… hades. We in America have great abundance, but have we become complacent, on the path to apathy, dependence and back into bondage? Will we continue to be the strong liberal society devoted to freedom we began as, or will we be weakened from within until the barbarians beat down the gates?

On November 7, we can choose the path of courage or appeasement, of greatness or apathy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

God Knows

Europeans have long been baffled by the American religious experiment. Absolute freedom of religion fostered in America a free-market-like competition among faiths that provided a religion for nearly every American. In the Nov. 2006 issue of First Things, historian Thomas Howard explained that European anti-Americanism rests “on a number of issues - religion most of all.”

On a visit to America in 1844, European theologian Phillip Schaff fretted about our religious diversity: “Tendencies which had found no political room to unfold themselves in other lands are wrought here without restraint,” he wrote. “What is to become of such confusion is not now to be seen.” Schaff searched in vain for Europe’s heritage of state-established churches.

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger saw America as “a cultural catastrophe.” In 1944 he wrote that “Americanism is the most dangerous shape of boundlessness, because it appears in the form of a democratic middle-class way of life mixed with Christianity.”

The poor Europeans still have not figured us out.

“They exchanged the truth of God for the lie,

and worshiped and served the creation
rather than the Creator.” -- Romans 1:25

In America we have our own breed of “Europeanized intelligentsia.” Biologist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) regards faith as a “virus of the mind.” “Materialism is absolute” said biologist Richard Lewontin, “for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.” Naturalist E.O. Wilson (The Creation: A Meeting of Science and Religion) believes that “there must be some evolutionary explanation for the universality and pervasiveness of religious belief.”

Hoover Institution Fellow Dinesh D’Souza has the answer in his SF Chronicle article
God knows why faith is thriving.

“My conclusion is that it is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation. It seems perplexing why nature would breed a group of people who see no purpose to life or the universe, indeed whose only moral drive seems to be sneering at their fellow human beings who do have a sense of purpose.”

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Matthew Mattingly’s helicopter was shot down Sept. 13 in Mosul, Iraq. He was killed. The 30-year-old Army captain was a great leader of men.

Mattingly received his military commission in 1998, after graduating from Xavier University. He was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and had already served one tour of duty in Iraq winning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

He was my grandson Johnny Walton’s commanding officer.

On Johnny’s first tour in Iraq his first C.O., a woman, was shot down and killed.

On September 11, 2001, three thousand Americans were murdered in sneak attacks by an implacable enemy. Since then our brave military men and women have battled the enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq keeping America safe.

Yet there are many who do not support their effort. To them I ask a simple question. If you could prevent a repeat of 9/11, with another 3000 dead Americans (or 30,000 or 300,000 by an atomic, biological or chemical attack) how many of the enemy would you be willing to kill? If you could press a button to prevent the attack on America, or let the military do it for you, would you be willing to kill

a. 6000 enemies?
b. 60,000 enemies?
c. 600,000 enemies?
d. All of them?

Lest you think this is an academic exercise, let me remind you of a few facts.

First, we have faced this issue many times before. In WWII we killed millions in Europe and President Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to prevent more American deaths (and several hundred thousand more Japanese deaths).

Second, we have the capacity to achieve any of the above targets. It is simply a matter of tactics how many American soldiers have to die in the effort.

Third, the number of enemies in Iraq has been estimated to be as much as 10% of the population, roughly 3 million Iraqis, mostly Sunnis and former Baath party supporters of Saddam Hussein.

Fourth, the gutless unwillingness of the majority of Americans to face up to this question is why my grandson and the rest of our sons and daughters in uniform are in danger.

It is sad to think that there are Americans who reject all the answers because “war is never the way.” There were some of those in WWII and in every war. There are some Americans who reject all the answers because all we need to do is “bring the troops home to end the bloodshed.” They simply will not believe that this enemy will strike again in America. There are those who say the number must be “proportional” because one terrorist is the same as one American. And there are many who say that we must never kill a non-combatant in the process of killing the enemy. As though we could figure it out. As though such tactics don’t put our soldiers in more danger. All such answers are despicable.

Americans had better WAKE UP and face these questions, and similar ones about interrogation and spying or we are in danger of losing this war. But unlike in Vietnam, this enemy will not be content to commit genocide on its own people and nearby neighbors.

They will come here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happiness is a Conservative Thing

Ronald the Great once noted: “It’s not that liberals are ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t true.” To make matters worse, it’s the attitude: liberals are “frequently in error, never in doubt,” as has been noted of a certain type of scientist.

Bill Clinton and Dianne Feinstein implore Californians to save the planet by passing CA Prop 87, the $4 Billion tax on oil that will prevent global warming in the Golden State. Phil Angirediculous pledges to demand the return of the CA National Guard troops from Iraq if he is elected governor. Fat chance on both counts. A local Palos Verdes politician opposes Prop 83 (Jessica’s Law) that mandates jail sentences without parole for sexual predators and prohibits them from living within 2000 feet of a school. His reasoning: because then the child sex felons are all going to move to Palos Verdes where there is more room between schools; at least all those with a couple of million for a house.

Economics is the liberal black hole. They just don’t get it. The stock market is soaring, GDP is growing at 3%+, unemployment is down to 4.6%, spendable income (after taxes) is rising fast, all while federal (and state) tax revenue is way up and the budget deficit is cut in half, beating that target by four years. Economists attribute all the good news to the effect of the Bush tax cuts. So the Libdem pledge: When they get into power they will raise taxes -- and dump the economy into the black hole where their brains reside.

But do you know what? Stupidity, even arrogant stupidity, is not the worst liberal trait. The absolute worst is their lack of a sense of humor. It’s like a congenital defect. And it’s deadly.

My dear blogette friend Fetching Jen asked (9/4/06): “Have you ever tried to joke with a liberal? They don't joke about anything because everything is just so dire to them... like global warming, gay rights, abortion rights, and my favorite liberal bumper sticker: The moral issues that matter: Respecting our neighbors, helping the poor, promoting peace, protecting our environment.

Well, that just about sums it up.”

It’s strange that the children of the beat generation with their “why worry, be happy” – smoke a joint philosophy are so angst ridden.

Take this great piece from our blogger friend Scott Ott at Scrappleface.

5 out of 4 U.S. Teachers Reject Math-Esteem Study

A new Brookings Institution study that shows an inverse relationship between math skills and student self-esteem is “just plain wrong,” according to an overnight poll of the nation’s largest teacher’s union.

study found that Japanese and Korean students excel in math despite their lack of confidence in their own abilities, while American kids feel great about their abilities but have much lower skills according to tests.

But the survey of National Education Association (NEA) members shows that “five out of four teachers find fault with the data.”

“It just doesn’t add up,” said an unnamed NEA spokesman. “We’ve spent three decades of the last 20 years teaching kids that their self-esteem and happiness are unrelated to their academic competence. The overwhelming minority of them now feel really happy about math.”

The NEA spokesman said the comparatively-low standardized test scores of American children “simply prove that test designers don’t know how to measure what really counts.”

The teacher opinion poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 34 percent, “but that’s okay,” the spokesman said, “because the pollsters did their personal best.”

Now that’s funny, but be careful if you show it to a liberal teacher or union leader.

Yesterday the LA Mayor Anthony Vialaraza met with the incoming school superintendent who confessed he spoke no Spanish but promised to correct that deficiency toute de suite. I chuckled.

Conservative friends: As one of your charitable works this week, tickle a liberal, but be prepared to be arrested. And sued. And be sure to stay away from them on Nov. 7, 8 --- the libdem misery index will be through the roof.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vietnam Vets Need Our Help

It’s been fun mocking the global warmistas, but there are many more serious issues. As their evidence is challenged and the public is becoming more skeptical, some of the warmistas are appealing to our patriotism. Do we really want to continue funding terrorists with our petrodollars? Well, there are two primary ways to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

(1) Develop our own oil resources by drilling in all the places where we know there is oil. At the same time build nuclear power plants to supply energy for the hydrogen economy that could kick in by 2050 or so. This approach has only good effects on the economy. This is the smart way but Libdems hate it (both parts).

(2) Force industries and car makers to meet restrictive consumption standards and spend tax money on green energy alternatives like solar, wind and ethanol. The result will be very costly - see my last post - and have minimal effect on oil dependency since those alternatives are hopelessly ineffective. Libdems love this approach.

In their convoluted logic, lose + lose = win. Brilliant!! Anyway, I have more important things to do than dealing with their hysteria.

One urgent need is to support the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation. VVLF was created to better educate and inform the public about the Vietnam War, its events, its history, and the men and women who sacrificed to serve their country. Its president Col. George E. "Bud" Day, USAF (Ret.,) was a POW in North Vietnam for five years, seven months and 13 days. He served in three wars (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) and earned the Medal of Honor. He is the Air Force's most decorated living veteran.

Now VVFW is under attack from a group of traitors led by a US Senator. You may remember in the 2004 presidential campaign when the documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal was suppressed after Sinclair Broadcasting Company courageously announced it was going to air the documentary in its entirety. To guarantee Stolen Honor would never be seen by anyone the producer was slapped with a libel and defamation lawsuit.

That lawsuit was filed by Kenneth Campbell, a founder of the Philadelphia chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In 1971 he was one of John Kerry's key war crimes "witnesses," when Kerry slandered an entire generation of men who fought in Vietnam by branding them as "war criminals" in testimony before the US Senate.

Campbell's lawsuit put a unique spin on the definition of defamation:

He claimed that Stolen Honor damaged the public reputations of himself, Kerry and others by questioning whether they truly were the baby-killers they claimed to be!

Now the real Vietnam War heroes are fighting back. The Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation has filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas that will test the very foundation of Kerry's anti-war persona for the first time. The lawsuit challenges the factual accuracy of then Lt. (j.g.) Kerry's acrimonious testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 when he portrayed American soldiers as murderers, rapists and torturers "who ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam . . . [and] razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

We need to support the VVLF in this lawsuit. Go here to make a contribution.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


LIGHTHOUSE POINT, Florida (AP, 10/19/06) -- An 81-year-old man was in critical condition Thursday after a stingray flopped onto his boat and stung him, leaving a foot-long barb in his chest in an accident similar to the one that killed "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. "Something like this is really, really extraordinarily rare," said Ellen Pikitch a professor of marine biology. "Even when they are under duress, they don't usually attack."

O’Reilly Factor, Fox News -- “It’s perfectly understandable,” said the lady scientist. “These creatures are under extreme stress from global warming.” O’Reilly wondered why a 1 degree F temperature rise would have such a dramatic effect. “It’s not like they were scalded,” he said. The lady scientist looked Bill in his unscientific blue eyes and patiently explained that he couldn’t be expected to understand the nuances of marine biology and the dire threat the ecosystem was under due to the increase in atmospheric carbon. Bill was impressed.

But I wasn’t. One of these years, the American voters are going to realize that they’ve been had, big time, by these global warming baristas and there will be hell to pay. But I get ahead of myself.

The crescendo of global warming hysteria peaked last summer with the worldwide release of algore’s horror movie (“An Inconvenient Truth”) that the naïve media and public took to be serious. Newscasts and print media kept reporting how “the science is settled,” that human caused global warming is the “consensus view.” Algore’s prediction of a 20 foot sea level rise by 2100 became an urban legend. Hollywood stars loved it and Gov. Arnold got his chops by signing a CA bill that “mandates” a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions statewide by 2020. The Democrats were delirious.

Then, unfortunately for them, some truth leaked out.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued Sept. 1 projected with confidence that the mean global temperature will increase by 3 deg. C and sea level will rise between 14 and 43 cm (1–3 feet) by 2100, if we do nothing. No Kyoto Protocol, no Kyoto 2, 3, 4,…N, nothing at all, and all we need to withstand is 1-3 feet higher seas. Folks started to think, “Hey, this is not so bad. In 94 years perhaps those fools living at sea level might find their way to ground 1-3 feet higher.” (Note to New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.)

And the temperature rise will be least at the Equator (hot) and most at the poles (cold) so people in Minnesota might find their lows in the winter are 5-10 deg F higher than now, and my friend Chuck is delighted thinking about an extended duck hunting season. But don’t worry, if we somehow did stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions the temperature increase would still be 2C by 2100, so Minnesota winter nights will still be pleasanter.

Here’s some more “inconvenient truth.”

Algore’s 20 feet of sea level rise was supposed to come from the melting of the polar ice fields. However, the huge East Antarctic ice sheet, which contains 90 percent of the world’s ice, has been thickening. European satellites measuring the ice sheet’s thickness found it is gaining about 45 billion tons of water per year because the planet has warmed enough for snow to fall at the coldest place on earth, according to a report in Science (June 24, 2005).

Just one more piece of algore’s “inconvenient truth”:

He insisted on a link between increased hurricane activity and global warming. After Katrina last year, the alarmists were predicting even more hideous destruction to come this year. But something funny happened. It’s now nearly November, hurricane season is over, but there were no hurricanes. And you may have noticed that gas prices are down, from highs that were artificially inflated by the global warming - causes - hurricanes scare that led the oil futures traders to bid the price way up.

As for that so-called scientific consensus, one last bit of truth:

On July 24, 2006 the la times featured an op-ed by Naomi Oreskes, a social scientist at UCSD, reporting her review of 928 scientific papers. Oereskes claimed there was 100% consensus that global warming was not caused by natural climate variations. Algore featured her study in his movie. Now we find in a report by the Brit Benny Peiser that Naomi’s review ignored 11,000 studies or more than 90 percent of the papers dealing with global warming. And even in her small sub-sample, only 1% of the climate studies explicitly endorsed the so-called “consensus view” that human activity is driving global warming, 29% implicitly accepted the “consensus” and 3% of the studies actually opposed that view. Clearly 100% was a stretch, Naomi.

I could go on, but it’s just so stupid. However, you can’t keep a zealot down.

Fearing the loss of research funding if this sort of information gets reported by the mainstream media (unlikely), the global warming warriors cranked up the mega-complex climate models (nine of them) and churned out another study looking at the climate extremes that might occur. And this is where the catastrophe comes in.

According to the la times, Oct. 20, 2006: “Much of the world, including the drought-plagued American West, will face more deadly heat waves, intense rainstorms and prolonged dry spells before the end of the century.” In case you’re not scared yet, the report says the “temperature extremes … are likely to have adverse effects on human mortality and morbidity.” Did you know that the American West is draught-plagued? Apparently the West is in the eighth year of its most severe drought since record-keeping began in 1895, but I barely noticed. Grass is green, flowers are growing, cars are clean, pool is overflowing… no scratch that, I got carried away.

But it’s not all bad news. Other changes predicted by the models include a longer growing season and fewer frost days in the Northern U.S. and Europe. They may be able to grow wine grapes again in England, and the French will erect tariffs just like they did in the Medieval Warm Period when Greenland was green. And in Minnesota there will be fewer winter days categorized as “life threatening” – not such a bad thing.

Unfortunately the global warming hysteria has a momentum that has been barely deviated by the truth. TV ads by Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts implore CA voters to pass Prop. 87 that would impose a $4 Billion tax on oil taken from the ground. NY times columnist and flat-worlder Tom Friedman wrote that Arnold and Maria need to come out in favor of 87 so as to guarantee their legacy, and improve the chances of the 25% CO2 reduction.

Never mind that enacting the Kyoto Protocol would likely cost the United States up to $350 billion in 2012. “The average American family of four would pay an extra $2,700 annually for energy and consumer goods, and in US minority communities, the climate treaty would destroy 1.3 million jobs and substantially affect standards of living.” But Arnie’s protocol is only Kyoto/2 for CA (25% cut by 2020 rather than by 2012) so the CA family would only have to cough up $1350 annually, and we’d only lose about 100 thousand jobs. And the effect on temperature will be non-measurable, ie puny. But Hey! It’s a gesture.

I wish I had Senator Inhofe’s faith:

“The American people know when their intelligence is being insulted. They know when they are being used and when they are being duped by the hysterical left.”

But I’m afraid that Neal Bortz has a more realistic take:

“Take heart, global warmistas! There's always next year! People aren't really getting that much smarter, so you'll be able to work your anti-capitalist, global warming agenda again.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Follow the Money

Before the notorious Kelo case, most Americans would be shocked to find that local governments could take private property from one citizen and give it to another citizen. Most of us understood the eminent domain law to apply to cases where schools or roads needed to be built in a particular area. But in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut, the city took privately owned homes in order to transfer the property to Pfizer Corp. (a group of citizen shareholders) for a new research facility. The city’s redevelopment plan was intended to improve the faltering population and tax base.

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court found for the City of New London. Voting in favor were liberal Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer joined by moderate Anthony Kennedy. In opposition were conservatives Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas and moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.

Justice O'Connor suggested that the use of this power to take from the poor and give to the rich would become the norm, not the exception: "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

This clearly unconstitutional decision was seen by the American public as a gross violation of property rights. Polls show opposition in the range 65% to 97%. In the aftermath there have been a host of state laws and initiatives to specifically prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development, thus joining the eight states (Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington) that already have such laws. California Prop. 90 is the Golden State's initiative.

I’ve heard it said that eminent domain abuse does not occur in California, that we currently have laws to protect against this kind of an alleged abuse. I respectfully suggest that is naive to believe that government does not abuse its power. A recent case:

On May 23, 2006, the city council of Hercules, California voted unanimously to use the right of eminent domain to seize 17 acres owned by Walmart corporation. In a variation on the Kelo theme, the council applied the force of the Kelo decision to prevent Walmart from depressing the city economy by driving small shops out of business.

An article “Highway Robbery” in The Orange County Register (10/18/06) describes the litany of eminent domain abuses by Caltrans that has repeatedly displaced property owners for highway projects that went nowhere.

It’s hard to understand why a measure to protect personal property rights would have such vociferous opposition. The primary opponents of Prop. 90 include groups that pushed hardest to get the $37 billion public works bond package on the ballot: the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Business Roundtable and the League of California Cities. The article in The LA Times today (“Initiative Could Undermine State Bond Issues”) lays out the case that “restricted use of eminent domain would hinder construction under Props. 1A to 1E.”

So if you don’t care much about personal property rights and if you are a big supporter of the Prop. 1 spending, a bad way to fund needed infrastructure, then vote NO on Prop 90.

I’m voting against Prop. 1 and for Prop. 90.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

United Nations Declares War on North Korea

Ann Coulter debates Kim Jong Il (disguised as Susan Estrich)

The UN Security Council voted 15-0 to impose sanctions on North Korea after the Commies set off a 0.8 KTon atomic bomb thereby joining the elite nuclear club. Granted, the little NoKo bomb was less than one tenth the energy of the first bombs the US popped off back in 1944, still the event has grave implications for the power structure in Southeastern Asia.

The UN resolution stated in stern language that the North Koreans must desist in the development and production of nuclear weapons and that weapons materials and luxury goods would not be allowed into or out of the country. And just in case there was any doubt about the international resolve, the resolution also made clear that violations of these sanctions would NOT lead to forceful response, but could very well lead to more aggressively phrased letters and further sanctions.

Lil Kim immediately renounced these UN statements as a declaration of war. He vowed to refurbish his supply of Paris Hilton videos, and blow off another nuke.

Last night on the O’Reilly show President Bush said he has faith in the resolve of the Chinese leaders and pointed to the construction of a greater wall of China along the Korean border. From Breitbart.com:

China has been building a massive barbed wire and concrete fence along its border with North Korea in the most visible sign of Beijing's strained ties with its once-cozy communist neighbor. Scores of soldiers have descended on farmland near the Yalu River to erect concrete barriers 15 feet tall and string barbed wire between them, farmers said. "The move is mainly aimed at
North Korean defectors. As the U.N. sanctions are enforced, the numbers of defectors are likely to increase as the regime can't take care of its people. I think the wire fence work will likely go on to control this."

Someone suggested that the US hire the Chinese army to build our wall along the Mexican border. At 2 bucks a day per man this move would save US taxpayers a bundle. I think we ought to contract out the government relations part to the ChiComs who will ignore all environmental and employer regulations and complete the wall in 6-7 months.

As the congressional elections draw near the NoKo issue has been morphed by the Democrats into a Clinton triumph and a Bush debacle. John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, said on Meet the Press that Bush needed to reach out to Kim like Bill Clinton did. See picture of Madame Madeline toasting the former “Dear Leader.”

Annie Coulter in a piece titled “Bill Clinton's New Glow Job” explained how it all went down.

In 1994, the Clinton administration got a call from Jimmy Carter -- probably collect -- who was with the then-leader of North Korea, saying: "Hey, Kim Il Sung is a total stud, and I've worked out a terrific deal. I'll give you the details later."

Clinton promptly signed the deal, so he could forget about North Korea and get back to cheating on Hillary. Mission accomplished.

Under the terms of the "agreed framework," we gave North Korea all sorts of bribes -- more than $5 billion worth of oil, two nuclear reactors and lots of high technology. In return, they took the bribes and kept building nukes. This wasn't difficult, inasmuch as the 1994 deal permitted the North Koreans to evade weapons inspectors for the next five years.

Yes, you read that right: North Korea promised not to develop nukes, and we showed how much we trusted them by agreeing to no weapons inspections for five years.

It’s eerie how this agreement sounds like the current UN resolution.

Of course the NoKos immediately ignored the "agreed framework" as even The New York Times finally noticed in Oct. 2002: "Confronted by new American intelligence, North Korea has admitted that it has been conducting a major clandestine nuclear weapons development program for the past several years."

Former Clintonista Bill Richardson claims that the only reason Kim Jong Il is testing nukes is because Bush called him evil. "When you call him axis of evil or a tyrant, you know, he just goes crazy," he said. Richardson says Kim "psychologically feels he's been dissed, that he's not treated with respect."

I have an idea. His dad liked Madeline Albright. Perhaps Lil Kim will take to Anne Coulter.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It Takes a Grandmother

In an ecstatic daydream the San Francisco Chronicle asks the pregnant question: “Can Pelosi and Bush get along?” If the Dems win control of the House next month, "they'll be thrown together in kind of a shotgun marriage where they will have to cooperate on a number of things,'' said Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. "And they are probably not going to get through this campaign and be in a mood to be warm and compromising.''

Example – President Bush:

"The top Democrat leader in the House made an interesting declaration. She said, 'We love tax cuts.' Given her record, she must be a secret admirer. If this is the Democrats idea of love I don't want to see what hate looks like.''

Example – Nancy Pelosi:

"Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he's not a leader. He's a person who has no judgment, no experience and no knowledge of the subjects that he has decided upon. Not to get personal about it, but the president's capacity to lead has never been there. In order to lead, you have to have judgment. In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge and experience. He has none.''

Yeah, they’ll get along just fine.

But San Fran Nan has some fabulous ideas about the first 100 hours after she takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history.

1. Enact legislature to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation." Pelosi says she would drain the "GOP swamp." Watch out Nan, you may snag a Clinton or a Reed.

2. Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, thereby increasing unemployment among those who can least afford it.

3. Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds, because the $10 Billion from California voters was not enough.

4. Tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." Details will have to be worked out. "We believe in the marketplace," she said of the Democrats, unlike those Republicans who "have only rewarded wealth, not work."

Speaker-ette Pelosi loves tax cuts (see above) and thinks that people with large incomes (say her) don’t work for it.

Dean Barnett notes on the Hugh Hewitt blog: " I think the minimum wage should be raised to $500/hour so every working person will be a millionaire as he deserves to be. But in a perfect Democratic world "only trial lawyers would make money. And government employees."

So is the President worried? Come January, he said last week, "We'll have a Republican speaker and a Republican leader of the Senate." The Washington Post can’t get over it. In an opinion piece yesterday, Michael Abramowitz exclaimed in disbelief "White House Upbeat about GOP Prospects."

"Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, " says Abramowitz, "GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, though they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides."

Wishful thinking by the Dems and a few RINO strategists?

Karl Rove predicts that in the worst case Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats -- shy of the 15 seats needed for the Democrats to take control. The Bush-Rove playbook includes mobilizing the GOP base, most especially Christian conservatives, and reminding the electorate of the Democratic position on national security (try to be nice) and taxes (raise them). Rove believes that many of the polls understate what he expects to be a big GOP advantage in turnout.

That’s what we are all about, my friends. Get your family, friends and neighbors to the polls and send money to the GOP candidates in the House and Senate races that are most in need. Start with Senators Rick Santorum in Penn. and George Allen in Virginia. Don’t forget California Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo.

Otherwise that fatuous grandmother from San Francisco may be cleaning house in the House. Frightening!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Evil is Fun

Above is your humble blogger, the stumpy guy in the middle, with the Library contingent at a fund raiser in the Spring. "Walk on the Wild Side" is a Las Candalistas' event that raises tons of money for really worthwhile charities supporting children and women at risk. Flanking moi are Dori Medina (left) and Andrea Dickerson, who did all the work while I schmoozed. The theme was New Orleans and Mardi Gras, which is evil.... but fun.

More evil fun:

A DRUDGE REPORT **Exclusive** from Oct 10 revealed that the Scary Movie producer David Zucker has created a "scary" campaign advertisement
that mocks Democrats.

GOP strategists have refused to use it. But I LOVE it. Take a look at the advertisement that was deemed "too hot" by Republicans.


The ad recreates former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's 2000 visit to North Korea. During the visit, Secretary Albright presented North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il with a basketball autographed by former NBA superstar Michael Jordan. Albright is also shown painting the walls of Osama bin Laden's Afghanistan cave, turning a blind eye to suicide bombers and changing the tire of a Middle Eastern dictator's limousine.

Madeleine Albright splitting her skirt while changing a dictator’s tire: PRICELESS.

One GOP strategist said "jaws dropped" when the ad was first viewed.

Zucker, a longtime Democrat, embraced the Republican Party based on concerns he had about national security issues and voted for President George W. Bush.


And speaking of an evil bit--, check out this video of the evil one debating Condi in a Hillary ho-down.

Thank’s Dori... You library gals are fun.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

American Dynamism

Economist A.W. Phillips in 1958 analyzed unemployment and wages in the UK 1861-1957 and concluded that there exists a tradeoff, when inflation was high, unemployment was low and vice-versa. This observation became known as the Phillips curve and became a staple in macroeconomic theory and government (Keynesian) policy.

Governments believed that they could control unemployment and inflation by employing the tradeoff of the Phillips curve. At times they would tolerate a higher rate of inflation as this would lead to lower unemployment. For example, monetary policy could be used to stimulate the economy, raising the gross domestic product and lowering the unemployment rate. Moving along the Phillips curve, this would lead to a higher inflation rate, or so they thought.

In the 1970s, however, the US experienced both high levels of inflation and high levels of unemployment, peaking in a misery index during the Carter years. The Phillips curve suggested that this stagflation could not happen, and the theory came under attack from economists such as Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps who argued that the failure of the relationship demanded a return to free market policies.

Yesterday Phelps was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for work that had "deepened our understanding of the relation between short-run and long-run effects of economic policy." (I had recommended the brilliant Linda Elliott of Smith-Barney for her fabulous promotion of my personal financial health, but after the medicine prize disappointment I'm not sure those Swedes are listening to my suggestions.)

The Columbia University economist Phelps was awarded the economics prize for his paradigm-shifting work showing that reducing inflation wouldn't necessarily lead to higher unemployment. He argued that the drivers of inflation went beyond unemployment and wages and needed to include how expectations of people and companies affected their purchasing and employment decisions. Time was an important variable as policies such as reducing interest rates and reducing taxes boost employment in the short term but may create inflation in the long term.

Today, Phelps' ideas of holding down inflation through interest rate hikes and stimulating the economy and employment though tax reductions are key parts of the Bush Administration policy. And, by the way, the lower tax rates also lead to increased government revenues (the Laffer Curve) and reduced deficits. (Now if only we could reduce government spending.)

In the Wall Street Journal today Edmund Phelps has an article called “Dynamic Capitalism”, subtitled “Entrepreneurship is lucrative – and just.” Here are a few excerpts.

“There are two economic systems in the West. Several nations--including the U.S., Canada and the U.K.--have a private-ownership system marked by great openness to the implementation of new commercial ideas coming from entrepreneurs, and by a pluralism of views among the financiers who select the ideas to nurture by providing the capital and incentives necessary for their development. This is free enterprise, aka capitalism.

“The other system--in Western Continental Europe--though also based on private ownership, has been modified by the introduction of institutions aimed at protecting the interests of "stakeholders" and "social partners." The system's institutions include big employer confederations, big unions and monopolistic banks. So different is this system that it has its own name: the "social market economy" in Germany, "social democracy" in France and "concertazione" in Italy.

“Let me use the word "dynamism" to mean the fertility of the economy in coming up with innovative ideas believed to be technologically feasible and profitable--in short, the economy's talent at commercially successful innovating. In this terminology, the free enterprise system is structured in such a way that it facilitates and stimulates dynamism while the Continental system impedes and discourages it.

“Instituting a high level of dynamism, so that the economy is fired by the new ideas of entrepreneurs, serves to transform the workplace--in the firms developing an innovation and also in the firms dealing with the innovations. The challenges that arise in developing a new idea and in gaining its acceptance in the marketplace provide the workforce with high levels of mental stimulation, problem-solving, employee-engagement and, thus, personal growth.

In the Continent's Big Three, hourly labor productivity and labor force participation are lower than in the U.S. The argument has been made that Europeans are happier in their work. But the recent World Values Survey indicates that the Continent's workers find less job satisfaction and derive less pride from the work they do in their job.”

Democrats should be forced to read this entire article daily until they have grasped a rudimentary understanding of economics.

As for the European social democracies, well, their economies just can’t compete with capitalism. For example, the “upheaval at Airbus deepens” with the resignation Monday of its chief executive, “less than a week after rolling out a controversial plan to restructure the troubled aircraft maker.” Christian Streiff ran afoul of politicians in four countries by proposing to have the new A380 assembled entirely in one place (Toulouse) rather than parts in England, France, Germany and Spain.

"If you have to do tough restructuring in Europe, it is important that you have people who have diplomatic and political sensibility," said Airbus parent company, the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. spokesman Michael Hauger. "This is an area that Streiff hasn't been that strong." Airbus new CEO is the hyper- sensitive Louis Gallois.

Streiff's resignation could push the European governments to "re-nationalize" the aircraft maker, a move that could hurt Airbus chances to win a multibillion-dollar competition to make aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

Go Boeing!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nancy and the Nukes

For the last several days I’ve been writing fun blogs about Ig Nobel awards and female brains and such. I was planning to continue in this lighthearted vein today, writing about something like Mexico’s telling on us at the United Nations. Yes, Mexico is asking the UN to impose its mighty will on the US over the fence flap.

Mexico's foreign secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez told reporters in Paris that his country will take its irritation over US plans to build 700 miles of new fencing along the Mexican border to the (hushed tone) United Nations. After meeting with Philippe Douste-Blazy, Foreign Minister of the French, Derbez said that it was a shame US immigration policy had been used for what he claimed was a short-term political gain in the lead-up to midterm elections in the U.S. in November.”

Derbez plans to complain about the US in meetings with his Spanish and Italian counterparts during visits to Madrid and Rome. Democrat senate leader Harry Reid is planning to join Derbez on his European campaign.

What to do? What to do?

Then this morning those nasty NoKos ruined my mood by setting off one, no two, underground nuclear tests. Posted on the Hugh Hewitt blog by Dean Barnett:

“North Korea has joined the nuclear club. Sort of, at least. We know they can make a nuclear explosion, albeit a little-wittle-bitty one, but we don’t know if they can weaponize such explosions.”

“So what do we do now?” asked Barnett. “Well, we know what the Democratic Party and its media surrogates will want to do –- begin a comprehensive and multi-lateral campaign to BLAME BUSH!!! Six years of exclusively relying on a Blame Bush reflex for every event both big and small has allowed the rest of their intellectual musculature to whither.

“Democratic Party leaders are no more capable of offering a thoughtful analysis of how we should handle the latest North Korea crisis than they are of delivering a scholarly treatise regarding the ovulation cycle of a three-legged llama.” (or Lama -- LOL)

But what about those little-wittle-bitty nukes, how bad could they be? From the Belmont Club comes this scary scenario.

“The small size of the detonations has led to speculation that the North Korean tests are really faked nukes using large quantities of convention munitions. However, there is another grimmer possibility. Kim Jong Il is testing one kiloton suitcase nukes of a Russian design.”

Belmont Club recalls a conversation of Vladmir Putin with Nathan Sharansky at the Kremlin. Putin:

"Imagine a sunny and beautiful day in a suburb of Manhattan. An elderly man is tending to the roses in his small garden with his nephew visiting from Europe. Life seems perfectly normal. The following day, the nephew, carrying a suitcase, takes a train to Manhattan. Inside the suitcase is a nuclear bomb."

Sharansky continued:

“The threat, Putin explained to me a year before 9/11, was not from this or that country but from their terrorist proxies — aided and supported quietly by a sovereign state that doesn't want to get its hands dirty — who will perpetrate their attacks without a return address. This scenario became real when al Qaeda plotted its 9/11 attacks from within Afghanistan and received support from the Taliban government. Then it happened again this summer, when Iran was allowed to wage a proxy war through Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and northern Israel.”

Hugh Hewitt notes that if you want to understand the likely Democratic response take a look at this 2003 speech by the would-be Speaker of the House:

"Yet by shredding the ABM Treaty and flirting with the unthinkable – 'usable' battlefield nuclear weapons – the Bush Administration turns the clock back on three decades of arms control.

"The United States must not create new nuclear weapons and ignite new arms races. As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, we have a moral obligation to be a leader in ridding this scourge from the face of the Earth forever.

"The United States does not need a multi-billion-dollar national missile defense against the possibility of a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile.

"What we need is a strong nonproliferation policy with other nations to combat the most serious threat to our national security and to the safety of the world -- weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists who would smuggle them into our cities.

I’m Nancy Pelosi and I believe this nonsense.

What we need is to send Madeline Albright to North Korea to once again negotiate a worthless document with the pajama boy. She ought to bring Jimmy Carter with her, and leave him there.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ig Nobel Awards

In the midst of the Nobel Prize season, it the midst of our laughter and glee, it is appropriate that we take a more sobering look at the state of human accomplishment. The Harvard Ig Nobel awards (that’s "ignoble" for the Pittsburgh Steeler fans) were announced last week.

"The Ig Nobel awards are given to achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research that co-sponsors the event.

Among the winners were:

PEACE PRIZE: Howard Stapleton for his "electromechanical teenager repellant," a device that produces a sound audible only to those 30 or younger. The device was made famous last May when it was discovered that teenagers had adopted the sound as a ring tone, so that teachers couldn't hear them receiving calls in class.

ACOUSTICS: Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand for their study of why people hate the sound of fingernails scratching a chalkboard. They concluded that the sound shares the same frequency as nonhuman primate calls and, therefore, humans subconsciously fear the sound as they fear the primal scream. "Thanks for ensuring that this disquieting work will not be silenced," Lynn Halpern quipped in her acceptance speech.

BIOLOGY: Bart G. J. Knols and Ruurd de Jong for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles Gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of Limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.

ONITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab and the late Philip R.A. May who studied why woodpeckers do not get headaches.

MEDICINE: Francis Fesmire for his discovery that "digital rectal massage" is a sure cure for the hiccups. The recipient accepted his award wearing one latex glove.

PHYSICS: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces.

MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson for calculating the number of photographs you need to take to ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed.

LITERATURE: Daniel M. Oppenheimer for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."

SOCIOLOGY: Dr. David Young and Dr. William Lama for their landmark study of the liberal brain. Their publication “The Liberal Brian: An Oxymoron” won the Bud Lite award for literature that makes you pee.

Friday, October 06, 2006

'The Female Brain'

I am a big fan of brainy females. As evidence I offer my dear wife Lee, the smartest gal I know, and Louise Riofrio (A Babe in the Universe - above) clearly a female and a brainy one at that. All my Zone Bridge partners are smart women.

I believe that women have the same general intelligence as men, as is evident on standardized tests. Male and female IQ distributions peak at the same value, but there is some evidence that the male distribution is wider, with more men than women at the very lowest end (largely men who still think Castro is cool) and at the highest end (largely neocons and physicists). On the average, males and females are just as smart, only different. Feminists have long denied the differences, but all normal people appreciate them.

Now these differences have been quantified and analyzed in a new book The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine. Many of the scientific findings validate differences we all instinctively know are true. For example, women talk more and read more than men, resulting in larger female vocabularies. The typical woman uses about 20,000 words a day while a man uses about 7,000. Men mostly look at pictures (see above) and grunt a lot.

In the chapter on the birth of the female brain, Brizendine observes:

“Common sense tells us that boys and girls behave differently. We see it every day at home, on the playground, and in classrooms. But what the culture hasn't told us is that the brain dictates these divergent behaviors. The impulses of children are so innate that they kick in even if we adults try to nudge them in another direction.”

Last year, Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard University, told an academic conference that his young daughter, when given two trucks in another effort of gender-neutral parenting, treated them like dolls, calling one "daddy truck" and the other "baby truck". Parents of both boys and girls, or at least 97.4% of us, will nod our heads in recognition of this obvious difference. (More on the remaining 2.6% later)

Brizendine’s description of the evolution of brains in utero is fascinating.

“Imagine for a moment that you are in a microcapsule speeding up the vaginal canal, hitting warp drive through the cervix ahead of the tsunami of sperm. Once inside the uterus, you'll see a giant, undulating egg waiting for that lucky tadpole with enough moxie to penetrate the surface. Let's say the sperm that led the charge carries an X and not a Y chromosome. Voilà, the fertilized egg is a girl.

“Until eight weeks old, every fetal brain looks female - female is nature's default gender setting. If you were to watch a female and a male brain developing via time-lapse photography, you would see their circuit diagrams being laid down according to the blueprint drafted by both genes and sex hormones.

A huge testosterone surge beginning in the eighth week will turn this unisex brain male by killing off some cells in the communication centers and growing more cells in the sex and aggression centers. If the testosterone surge doesn't happen, the female brain continues to grow unperturbed. Girls do not experience the testosterone surge in utero that shrinks the centers for communication, observation, and processing of emotion.”

Males and females have different brain structures. The female’s communication center and emotional memory center are bigger than the male’s. Boys generally use language to command others, get things done, brag, threaten, ignore a partner's suggestion, and override each other's attempts to speak. The testosterone-soaked boy brain simply doesn't look for social connection in the same way a girl brain does.

Males have much larger sections of the brain for action and aggression and more than 2.5 times the amount of brain space devoted to sexual drive, meaning they think about sex, on average, every 52 seconds. Drug companies make $2.5 billion a year selling sexual dysfunction drugs to men, while more women suffer from it than men. Yet the drug industry has failed women miserably, Pfizer conceding that its famous blue pill only works for men. "I hate to say it, but women are much more complex than men," said Beverly Whipple, the sex researcher who wrote The G-Spot.

Returning to the Larry Summers incident, Nancy Hopkins a biologist from MIT, walked out of the meeting, later saying leaving was the only option, otherwise "I would've either blacked out or thrown up". In an interview later she said: "It's so upsetting that all these brilliant young women are being led by a man who views them this way." Summers' real crime was when he hypothesised that genetics, more than environment, might explain the dearth of women in science and engineering, especially at the highest levels.

Now Elizabeth S. Spelke of Harvard has written “Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for Mathematics and Science? A Critical Review.” Spelke considers three claims that cognitive sex differences account for the higher numbers of men than women in high-level careers in mathematics and science: (a) males are more focused on objects from childhood and are therefore better at learning about mechanical systems; (b) males have higher spatial and numerical abilities producing greater aptitude for mathematics; and (c) males are more variable in their cognitive abilities and therefore predominate at the highest levels of mathematical talent (and the lowest). Spelke claims that research on cognitive development in human infants, preschool children, and students fail to support these claims.

You’d have to hold a graduate degree to believe this.

But there are many brainy women in science. Louise (above) is in cosmology and she developed a formula predicting that the speed of light is time dependent (slowing down). Jackie Floyd is a geophysicist at Exxon-Mobil who blogs at Element. I play bridge with Judy her mom. Mahndisa Rigmaiden is finishing her physics degree, has an interest in strings and quantum gravity and blogs at Mhandisa’s Thoughts. Christine Dantas (Brazil) is an astrophysicist with an interest in quantum gravity who blogs at Christine’s Background Independence. Risa Weschler is a Hubble Fellow at U. Chicago and JoAnn Hewett is an Assoc. Prof. at Stanford (SLAC) -- both blog at Cosmic Variance. These are some smart cookies.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open Letter to the Theoretical Physics Community

As a retired physicist, I have been spending some time trying to learn about the new physics of strings and quantum gravity, ie the post-Standard Model theories of fundamental physics. The popular literature is chock full of books like The Elegant Universe (Brian Greene), Warped Passages (Lisa Randall), The Trouble with Physics (Lee Smolin), and Not Even Wrong (Peter Woit). Wonderful reading, but if you want to understand it like a physicist you have to be able to follow the calculations; and these books are non-mathematical.

So I decided to go to the source papers themselves, looking for some that were basic or reviews of the field. The physics research literature is rich in excellently written papers that the average graduate physicist could learn a lot from. I refer to the following well known example.

“It is known that Maxwell's electrodynamics--as usually understood at the present time--when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries which do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena. Take, for example, the reciprocal electrodynamic action of a magnet and a conductor. The observable phenomenon here depends only on the relative motion of the conductor and the magnet, whereas the customary view draws a sharp distinction between the two cases in which either the one or the other of these bodies is in motion. Examples of this sort, together with the unsuccessful attempts to discover any motion of the earth relative to the “light medium,” suggest that the phenomena of electrodynamics as well as of mechanics possess no properties corresponding to the idea of absolute rest.”

This passage is from the introduction to Albert Einstein’s 1905 paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.” Within two pages Einstein was defining simultaneity, showing how coordinates transform, and calculating physical consequences. This was the defining paper of Special Relativity.

Here is another excellent example.

“For most practical calculations in quantum electrodynamics the solution is ordinarily expressed in terms of a matrix element. The matrix is worked out as an expansion in powers of the fine structure constant, the successive terms corresponding to the inclusion of an increasing number of virtual quanta.”

This is from Dick Feynman’s seminal 1949 paper “Space-Time Approach to Quantum Electrodynamics.” Three pages later Feynman is busy calculating the interaction between charges using his new Feynman diagrams. A few pages further on he calculates the self-energy of the electron.

Now fast forward to present days and take a look at the following passage from a typical paper in theoretical physics.

“If one wants to have a well posed initial value formulation then the metric fields g that live on M are such that (M, g) is globally hyperbolic which implies that M is diffeomorphic to the direct product R x S where S is an n-dimensional smooth manifold. Since the action is invariant under Diff(M), the diffeomorphisms Y: R x S --> M; (t, x) --> Y are a symmetry of the action. For each Y we obtain a foliation of M into a one parameter family of spacelike hypersurfaces.”

This snippet is from the introduction to a 2004 paper by T. Thiemann called “The LQG-String: Loop Quantum Gravity Quantization of String Theory I. Flat Target Space.” After 39 pages of similar gobbledygook, Thiemann admits that “We have so far hardly mentioned matter.”

These recent papers are unintelligible except to a select few adherents of String Theory (stringers) or Loop Quantum Gravity (q-graviters). And Thiemann described his paper as “a (relatively) non-technical summary of the status of the quantum dynamics in Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG).” Come on now!

My blog buddy Mahndisa responded to my complaint: “Sure, Mr. Thiemann's work is a bit mired in formalism and the physical significance gets lost.” I must agree with her there. Then Mahndisa goes on to discuss another paper “String Quantization: Fock vs. LQG Representations” by Robert C. Helling and Giuseppe Policastro “who use Thiemann's Pohlmeyer state to quantize the harmonic oscillator. But the spectrum doesn't look anything like what we are used to seeing since the quantization yields only one bound state and the rest are scattering states!” All states except for the ground state have diverging energy and the energy spectrum is not bounded from below. This is clearly in conflict with the energy spectra of harmonic oscillators found in nature.

Well that doesn’t sound too good. But I looked at the paper anyway. After many pages of abstract theory, I found on page 13 that “The Hilbert spaces we have constructed so far are by themselves not physical: The diffeomorphisms of the string do not act trivially on them and they would describe the quantum theory of parametrised strings.” This sounds a lot like Thiemann.

Frustrated, I complained to Lubos Motl that "as an old time physicist (PhD in 1971) I find it impossible to understand the papers on strings and LQG, but the popular books are too superficial. I wonder if you would consider writing a few posts for physicists like me who learned how to do calculations with Feynman diagrams and sort of understand the Standard Model, but don't have the math for the new theories. It would be so much appreciated."

Motl answered: “Arguably, physics is still about Feynman diagrams, the Dirac equation, quantum mechanics, etc. Yes, there are additions: chiral symmetry breaking, confinement, supersymmetry, holographic duality and the dual theories of quantum gravity with all of their solutions, especially new phenomena with additional dimensions, etc.

Still, in general, physics more or less is about the elementary particles, their spin, and their interactions with coupling constants. A theory is meant to say something about them and allow us to calculate the results of the experiments that include the spectrum of matter - arguably different kinds of matter that can include new particles or black hole microstates if needed - plus the probability of different interactions and possible transitions.

AMEN to that, and thank you, Lubos.

Now how about you stringers and q-graviters start writing your papers with a slightly wider audience in mind? Give us a chance to follow your theory and calculations. Put all the preliminaries in an appendix. Get to the physical quantities sooner; that is, if there are any physical quantities.

Or, perhaps, the situation in modern theoretical physics is as Burton Richter described in the Oct. 2006 issue of Physics Today. In his article entitled “Theory in particle physics: Theological speculation versus practical knowledge,” Richter states:

“Today, there seems to be nearly an infinity of solutions, each with different values of fundamental parameters, and no relations among them. What we have is a large number of very good people trying to make something more than philosophy out of string theory. Some, perhaps most, of the attempts do not contribute even if they are formally correct.”

Philosophy -- Hmmm, maybe that’s why the papers are so hard to read.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Echo of the Big Bang Wins Nobel Prize

Astrophysicists John Mather (left) of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and George Smoot (right) of the University of California at Berkeley were awarded the Nobel Physics Prize for experiments that provided critical support for the "Big Bang" model of the Universe. The scientist’s experiments were carried out on the unmanned NASA spacecraft, COBE, and their results were described by physicist Stephen Hawking as "the greatest discovery of the century, if not all times."

Readers will note that I did not attempt a prediction of the physics winners after failing to call the medicine winner on Sunday.

I had predicted that Sir Alec Jefferys, FRS, would win the medicine prize for his pioneering development of DNA fingerprinting. Yesterday, the Nobel Committee ignored my choice and selected, instead, Andrew Z. Fire of Stanford University and Craig C. Mello of the University of Mass. Medical School: “for discovering a method of turning off selected genes, an important research tool that scientists hope will lead to new treatments for HIV, cancer and other illnesses.” The scientists were honored for their recent discovery of RNA interference, which it called "a fundamental mechanism for controlling the flow of genetic information."

Since the first description of DNA by Watson and Crick, the central dogma of biology has held that genes written in the DNA were recipes for proteins, the building blocks of living organisms. The RNA molecule was thought to be the messenger that read information from the DNA code and took it to protein-building machines inside the cell.

But experiments by Mello and Fire found that RNA could do a lot more than ferry notes from the DNA to the rest of the cell. Mello was looking for a way to turn off specific genes so he could understand their function. He tried inserting pieces of RNA, and found that they were able to shut off the genes. The RNA was blocking RNA messages. Later research by Mello and Fire revealed this kind of RNA-- known as RNAi, for RNA interference-- exist in plants, fruit flies and even people. They regulate more than a third of all proteins and could be linked to cancer and other diseases.

Merck is using RNAi technology to switch off genes in lab animals it is using in drug discovery. And two companies, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Sirna Therapeutics, are trying to develop RNAi as a drug against diseases like macular degeneration, cystic fibrosis and pandemic flu and the Ebola virus.

Mello and Fire are excellent choices for the Nobel, but thus far I’m zero for one.

Mather and Smoot are also super choices for the physics prize. The COBE space probe was launched in November 1989. More than a thousand researchers and engineers worked on the COBE project, which Mather also coordinated.

Mather’s first experimental results provided "a perfect blackbody spectrum," a temperature profile of the Universe billions of years after the Big Bang, refining the 1965 measurements by physicists at Bell labs. This so-called cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation left over from the Big Bang when the universe was born, today has a temperature that is only 2.7 degrees above absolute zero.

Smoot's prize was for measuring tiny variations in the temperature of the CMB believed to be due to early universe sound waves caused by the struggle between gravitation and radiation pressure as the universe expanded. Smoot's data provided a value of the normal matter (nucleon) density ratio of 0.04 consistent with a universe dominated by dark energy and dark matter, with the normal matter accounting for only 4%.

"These measurements marked the inception of cosmology as a precise science," the Nobel jury said in its citation.

While I'm not predicting the winner of the chemistry prize to be announced tomorrow, the favorite over at the Thompson Scientific web site is Tobin Marks “for his research on new materials having remarkable electrical, mechanical, photonic and interfacial properties.” Marks research is in leading edge interdisciplinary materials chemistry of thin film photonic materials for high-speed data transmission; molecular assemblies in which intermolecular interactions are subject to chemical tuning; and high-quality films of ferroelectrics, dielectrics, and transparent conductors.

Stay tuned science fans.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nobel Weeks

The 2006 Nobel Prizes will be announced this week and next, beginning with Medicine–10/2, Physics–10/3, Chemistry–10/4, Economics-10/9, Peace-10/13 and Literature-10/?? Today I’ll make my Medicine prediction and my hope for the Peace Prize; other predictions and commentary to follow.

My selection for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize is the lovely and brilliant and brave Ayaan Hirsi Ali, prominent member of the Lower House of the States-General of the Netherlands from 2003-2006, author, film maker, and critic of Islam.

In May 2006, after numerous threats to her life, Hirsi Ali resigned from parliament and announced that she would move to the United States to work at the American Enterprise Institute (to research the relationship between the West and Islam; women’s rights in Islam; violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments; and Islam in Europe.) She arrived in September and was warmly welcomed by the US Department of State.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1969 to Muslim parents. When she was only five years old, Hirsi Ali’s grandmother had the female genital cutting procedure performed on her while her father was away. She grew up a religious Muslim. In 1992 her father arranged for her to marry a distant cousin living in Canada. She escaped the arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands where she received political asylum.

At first Hirsi Ali held various jobs in house cleaning and mail sorting while taking courses in Dutch and in Social Work. She worked as an interpreter for Somali women in asylum centres and hostels for battered women while studying political science at the University of Leiden until 2000.

After earning her masters in political science, Hirsi Ali became a fellow at a scientific institute and she renounced Islam. She entered politics and was elected to the Dutch parliament. In parliament, she worked on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society, and on defending the rights of women in Dutch muslim society.

In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made
Submission, a film about the oppression of women in Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. A letter pinned to Van Gogh's body with a knife was a death threat to Hirsi Ali.

In November, 2005, an Imam of a mosque in The Hague announced that Hirsi Ali would be "blown away by the wind of changing times" and that she could anticipate "the curse of Allah".

In January 2006, Hirsi Ali urged action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and said that Mad Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be taken at his word in denying the Holocaust. "Before I came to Europe, I'd never heard of the Holocaust. That is the case with millions of people in the Middle East,” she said.

Her latest book is The Caged Virgin: An Emancpitation Proclamation for Women and Islam.

Victor Davis Hanson (Hoover Institution) said of Hirsi Ali: “At great risk to her person, she has spoken out against the subjugation of women, the cruelty of Sharia Law and the undemocratic nature of Middle East Regimes. She deserves the world’s gratitude and protection.”

And the Nobel Peace Prize.

My pick for runner-up is President George W. Bush for keeping the savages from striking inside the United States for over five years.

Honorable mention to John Bolton for standing up for the United States and for reform in the United Nations while under constant attack from the US Democratic Party and most of the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, the world is so corrupt and anti-US that the likely wiener will be Kofi Annon for his patience in not dealing with the genocide in Dharfur. Dishonorable mention goes to the League of Arab States that opposes any intervention in that little African unpleasantness.

The front runner for the medicine prize is Sir Alec Jefferys, FRS, for his pioneering development of DNA fingerprinting and for its applications to forensic analysis and the understanding of genetic diseases. Jeffreys, 45, is a professor in genetics at the University of Leicester, UK.

The latest big thing in Jefferys’ work is DNA amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that may lead to DNA chips. “If one could create an electronic chip in which an oligonucleotide could detect and transduce the detection of a product (such as a PCR product) into an electronic signal, that would open up forensic typing, DNA typing, medical diagnostics, and just about everything else one can think of.”

Experimentally proven fundamental science with important real world applications is what the Nobel should be about, and in this respect Jefferys stands out.