Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Minds (snicker! :))

Via Instapundit comes notice of Jonah Goldberg's latest contribution to Commentary Magazine in which he examines the nature and degree of Barack Obama's putative socialism.


Obviously, Mr. Goldberg has gone into considerably more depth and provides much greater detail, but he gets paid to do all that . Nonetheless, we arrive at similar enough conclusions that I find myself sort of surprised.

I know, even a stopped clock gets it right twice a day. Allow me my moment, please.

Good one, Jonah; too bad about that slow editorial cycle. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Does This Herring Smelt High To You?

The following is copied entire from the comments to this post at Anthony Watts' site Watts Up With That.

Hanfluss Janesbaer

Reykjavik: 20th April 2010


By Gunnar Skoleskar in Reykjavik and additional reporting from Hanfluss Janesbaer in Amsterdam

In a new twist to the ongoing eruption of Iceland’s Mount Ejafjallajoekull, spreading volcanic ash and dust across Europe and grounding thousands of flights, investigations into the activities of the energy consultancy, Icelandic Geothermal have revealed massive short selling of airline stocks, a leading airline organization has revealed.

The Amsterdam based Center for Airline Carbon Emissions (CACE) are investigating claims that Mr. Olaf Selfoss Olafson, founder of the Reykjavik (RSX) listed technology company, sold substantial holdings in several European airlines just weeks before the eruption.

Olafson’s company, a geo-thermal consultancy, developing technology to harness volcanic lava flows for water heating and steam turbine production has been linked to the eruption, following a several month undercover CACE investigation trailing the activities of Icelandic Geothermal, acquiring incriminating evidence on the way.

“We know that these guys were involved in the eruption” Helmut Schnellerflugzoeg, in charge of the CACE investigation told us. “Our team of analysts have been following the company’s activities after intelligence analysts intercepted their plans and contacted us.”

“They hired drilling machines to bore into the area where the volcano erupted, a couple of months ago, and we have video-footage of the lowering of large objects into the bore holes.”

When asked as to what these large objects could be, Schnellerflugzoeg was vague. “We have a good idea what it may be, and we know that it is a catalyst to volcanic eruptions,” he told reporters.

“The whole point was to help kill the airline industry and prove that global warming was in part due to aircraft emissions,” Schnellerflugzoeg said. “With aviation grounded, scientists would be able to gather evidence of a drop in mean temperatures and doctor the figures, showing perhaps as much as a 2 degrees centigrade drop.”

“It’s too early to say whether it may be linked to a wider conspiracy,” he continued, “but we are determined to get to the bottom of this exploding volcano.”

The fall-out could be sulphurous if there is any evidence linking the climate change lobby to the eruption, already reeling from criticism for providing information leading scientists to predict the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by 2035. “If the climate change lobby is in any way linked to this volcanic eruption, it could be very damaging.” Professor David Sonnenbaum a climate specialist at the University of Berlin told us.

A spokesperson for Icelandic Geothermal denied any involvement in the eruption or the sale of any airline stocks. “We categorically deny any involvement in the eruption of the volcano,” Lars Grindavic Magnusson, CEO of the company told reporters at a press conference in Reykjavik on Monday.

Analysis of trades on European Stock Markets, including London, Paris and Frankfurt seems to indicate a substantial turn-over of stock in major airlines in the first week of April, a source close to the CACE investigation told the paper.

“There’s activity which potentially links the company to the eruption” Verloke Shomes, a senior investigator told our reporter in Amsterdam. “We are investigating a surge of buying activity on the markets on Friday, where a Cayman Islands holding company appears to have bought a lot of stock in publicly listed European carriers at bargain basement prices.”

The eruption has caused serious disruption to global air-traffic, grounding more than 17,000 flights daily and preventing transit across European airspace, potentially affecting more than 1.7 million travellers a day.

There are more kinks to this story than a San Francisco bathhouse.

Earlier in the same comment thread, this little factoid was let plop:

The BBC reports that there is ‘zero tolerance’ on ash.

” ‘No tolerance’ rule for volcanic ash”:

[Quote] “Over the weekend, [our observations] have detected dust in the atmosphere and on the ground,” the Met Office said on its website.

“A research aircraft has recently encountered dust during its flight, albeit in fairly low concentrations.”

And, no matter how low the concentration, aviation authorities will not reinstate normal control over airspace while the ash cloud is still there.

A spokesperson from from Nats, the UK’s air traffic control authority, told BBC News that there was “no threshold” for concentrations at which volcanic ash was acceptable…Whether to open or close airspace is a decision for national aviation authorities, but all European nations abide by the rules set by ICAO, which recommends implementing a no-fly zone if volcanic ash is detectable in airspace. [end quote]

Can't imagine the Boxheads are going to knuckle under to the verdamnt Englanders for very much longer on this one. No acceptable minimum standard of particulate size or cloud density? So in other words, a fine enough measuring device ensures no further aviation anywhere in Euro airspace ever again, since some quantity of volcanic ash is to be found at some altitude in the atmosphere regardless of (putative :)) Icelandic shenanigans (an observation made - if somewhat less inflammatorally - by the original commenter as well).

I'm so glad I got to see the place while it was still recognisably sane.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On The Question Of Our Man O

Alan, who blogs at Snarky Bytes and initiates (no one controls :)) the semi-weekly webcast Vicious Circle, writes regarding the political philosophy that best describes Our Esteemed President. While I tend to agree with Alan's broader strokes, I find room for distinction in the details.

The problem with labeling this particular Donkey is that none of the historical titles/epithets makes for a particularly well-fitted tail.

BHO mostly seems to abide by American Progressive ideology, but only inconsistently applies either classical Socialist or Fascist policy. I think he is better labeled as a “Supra-Nationalist”; one who seeks to end any specific nation (that would be ours for those not paying attention) from any ability to violently dominate other nations. Thereby, creating an international diplomatic environment within which nations endlessly seek alliance to attain temporary eminence on varied positions of interest; domination via mutual acclimation, if you will. Progressive ideology as it has developed over the last century and more (depending upon which of our early intellectual Euro-suckup's domestic efforts you happen to think historically influential - circa 1880's seems a commonly accepted decade) here in the US (which is basically Socialism sans any explicit political party association) suffers the same conceptual failure as any other manifestation of that general belief structure (Marxism being international in scope, Fascism being explicitly nationalist oriented, Maoism being expressly a cult of personality); that all adherents will pursue ideological standards, even at the expense of personal advantage ( "… to each according to his needs" not desires). Recorded human history consists almost exclusively of examples of the failure to comply with this most fundamental of socialist tenets, such that only determined adherence to blind faith can account for anyone's continued belief in this fantasy-as-ideology (which does rather call into question the motives of it's modern proselytizers).

If you ever fancy a bit of cage-rattling that’s also usefully instructive, try making this same argument to S/F author Eric Flint* (muchly to be found at the Baen Books website and forum - aka: Baen's Bar) and experience the tsunami of well-practiced ostentation and obfuscation that the true believer can generate in response for yourself. As displays of faith go – and that qualifier will get the ball rolling nicely – it’s not quite unsurpassed (the Roman Catholic church brooks few contenders for the All-World Ostentation title), but very creditable from a one-man band. When he can be taunted into doing so (this is not a difficult undertaking unless Eric is immediately involved in a story he's working on), evangelicals of any other flavor of instantiation can be found feverishly taking notes in the background for their on-going education and inspiration. :)

As for Our Man O, I think our best hope may come down to the question of who can be made to eat the coldest serving of revenge; outlive all his works and make his efforts be for naught, or the universal alternative. I'm rarely all that hopeful, but I find myself developing a growing tolerance to cold lately.

Oh, and Vicious Circle ought to be on everyone's regular listening rotation; the opportunity for self-abasement is rarely resisted by any of the participants.

*an open and accomplished adherent of the Trotskyite blend of cant.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bumped (and edited)

Yo, Tamara! Does the Volk-meister happen to do video also?


[Fade In]

An unoccupied stage with dark floors and lighter-colored walls, sparsely decorated to be indicative of a corner in an apartment or house living room.

Off camera, a series of men's and women's voices are heard saying a variety of legitimate TEA Party issues; excess taxes, unfunded government spending, unresponsive political representatives, etc. Interspersed with each issue statement is a series of crowd still photos from various TEA Party gatherings in the US and UK. Each photo should be identified as to place and date and each should ideally show an increase in crowd size from the previous picture.

Enter from stage right a man dressed in typical Brooks Bros. 2-piece business suit, tie slightly loosened, holding a plastic bottle of Lipton's brand Diet Iced Tea. He looks out stage center-to-right as if looking over a gathered crowd. Man glances stage left as another man, dressed in typical English "country squire" attire strolls up holding a cup and saucer in his hands. Second man nods politely to the first and also looks off into the middle distance stage right.

First man nods politely back and inquires in a standard mid-American accent: "Tea?", while slightly extending his bottled drink toward the second man.

Second man makes a small lifting gesture with his cup and saucer and replies in a broad English accent: "Indeed."

The two each take a small sip from their respective drink container and return to looking off into the middle distance slightly stage right. The scene dissolves to a blank screen with the boldly lettered word "FREEDOM" across the screen, with "It's THE Human Right" written in slightly less bold print immediately below.

[Fade Out]

There's your TEA Party message.


I got more, too, should anyone be interested.

Reasonable rates.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How Do We Get There From Here?

Stephen Gordon has a post up at The Speculist that begins:

Forbes has published an excellent series of articles grouped together as "Your Life in 2020." You'll want to read the whole series - its excellent.

The Forbes link Stephen provides is here. Stephen then goes on to focus attention on one article in particular having to do with the likely-seeming potential for disruption in the employment model familiar to modern humans in a technological society.

It's good to see this matter of concern becoming a mainstream topic. The tendency is to focus attention upon the immediate issue or objective; 2010 elections in the US and likely the UK, taxes and employment concerns, etc. But allowing those to occupy our sole attention guarantees that issues which might be resolved otherwise are left until they reach crisis proportions before we attempt to confront them.

Getting any politician (of any ideological bent) to fore go a short term political advantage in pursuit of a multi-electoral cycle solution requires either an overwhelmingly broad political base focused upon the long-term goal or an extraordinary external threat that forces pursuit of the objective. More frequently we humans end up inflicting an internal threat upon ourselves (Luddites, civil wars and revolutions, prohibition(s), etc) and ignore the opportunity in favor of seeking advantage over one another instead.

Stephen Gordon again:

But the more I think about it, it seems obvious that we are destined to live through an awkward adolescence. The transition from the old human-powered industrial model to a robotics/AI-powered model is probably going to be rough.

Given that the industrial model is predicated on centralised control over the individual and the robotics/AI model stipulates a maximisation of individual expression, I don't believe we have yet begun to plumb the roughness our awkwardness is going to inflict. In his Future History novels, Robert A. Heinlein stipulated a period of extreme experience in human society and called it "the crazy years". I loved his stories because RAH was such an optimist.

I don't think we're going to actually get that lucky.

Know what today is?

Fort Sumter fired on by Confederate batteries -- the conflict begins.

From an interesting resource fairly new to me, Naval History Blog is sponsored by the US Naval Institute - Naval History & Heritage Command. Much of history is recorded from a political or land-oriented military perspective. It's proving educational to be able to correlate events and personages from the seaborne aspect.

Strongly recommended.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A: Yes, they are. So what?

Glenn Reynolds posts the question, "ARE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS obsolete?", which links to this article at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site by pseudonymous author "Uncommon Knowledge" which includes a YouTube video of John Arquilla and Victor Davis Hansen discussing the topic.

If you want to watch a point being stretched all out of context, follow the links above.

What surprises me is that neither man seems willing to acknowledge the practical irrelevance inherent to the contention. The modern concept of such a vessel is easily 80 years old now, and for all of the improvements and modifications made over those decades ship construction has been vastly outpaced by anti-ship weapon construction. All of which ignores the fundamental fallacy of the argument.

Obsolescence does not equate to lack of capability.

I routinely carry a firearm that was designed over a century ago that fires a caliber of equal obsolescence. That said, I sincerely doubt either of the two gentlemen in the video would willingly stand before the muzzle of my 1911 .45acp Colt Commander (nor would I happily see them - or anyone else - do so, either). The point being that simple age isn't a reasonable measure of something's continued usefulness.

One aspect I think underacknowledged in all this; people say "aircraft carrier" and think really big boat when the reality is better stated as "really adaptive system" instead. All US carriers have both direct- as well as indirect-fire weapons in addition to the air wing, of course. In addition, no carrier ever operates alone no matter what you think you see (or more critically, don't see). The reason the US Navy has made carriers so successful is because the US has the fleet necessary to make a Carrier Battle Group dominate. No other country can make this claim so substantively.

Which leads to my other point; the comprehensive nature of US naval fleets is what permits reliable performance from our individual sea-going assets. Navies are not sea-going Armies. Navies are broken down into two main categories, fleets and auxiliaries. Auxiliaries exist to augment fleet requirements on an (usually anticipated unless from battle loses) as-required basis. A fleet is assigned to a region and is responsible for appropriate response to whatever arises within that area from the fleet assets on hand. Tsunami, earthquake, invasion (however land-locked the target country), a US Navy fleet has the assets to take on the mission. Implicit to the linked-to discussion was the premise, can the US reduce the size of it's navy? My answer is that any reduction in the size of individual vessels or aircraft must not result in a reduction in US naval fleet capabilities. With that caveat satisfied, the limits become technology dependant.

Technology advances, of course, and carriers may well be approaching the end of their dominance in their present iteration. A transition to a different hull form structure and air wing component requirement(s) seems almost certain within another decade or so. As well, new direct and indirect-fire weapons all impact how such vessels will continue to adapt to mission requirements (as will the crew members themselves like-as-not).

And as a measure of technology they will always be at least somewhat obsolete. Feel free to stand in their path too. Once, anyway.