Archive for January, 2007


Michael Yon Covers the War

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

“There are two types of media sources covering this war: the ones who are here, and those who are not. The media is Missing In Action, and reporting from afar. Yesterday, for instance, major media reported on an attack in a small village north of Mosul. None of those sources actually visited the village. I did.”

Michael Yon : Online Magazine » Desolate Roads


Hillary Clinton’s Blog

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Hillary is now Blogging.

It’s refreshingly honest, consider this remark in the first post:

Two days into this stupid lame-ass “listening tour” and I feel like my fucking ears are gonna fall off. Whose idea was this? Jesus. Do you realize how absolutely stupid 99% of the population actually is? I mean like animal stupid. And lucky me gets to sit there and listen to Ma and Pa Kettle ramble on about what they want from their government. One of them today was talking about fucking leash laws. I’m like, Lady, I’m about to be the ruler of the fucking free world, and you’re talking to me about leash laws? Jesus!

What cracks me up about listening tours is that wherever you go, no matter who you’re talking to, they always want the same thing. “Give us more free shit, and make those other guys, the (fill in blank) ones, pay all the taxes instead of us.” And the poor dumb bastards want this so bad that they never doubt you when you nod your head and go, Okay, fine, no problem, great, I’ll get right on it.


Evidence Of Tremendous Fraud Found In Brazilian E-Voting System

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Techdirt: Evidence Of Tremendous Fraud Found In Brazilian E-Voting System

It’s critical that game console voting be stopped cold, especially given the Democrat party’s known propensity to engage in election fraud.

No rational person can have any confidence in unauditable game console voting machines.


She’s no Thatcher

Monday, January 22nd, 2007


I had the happiness of living the United Kingdom when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister.  Lady Thatcher was dynamic and focused leader, she propelled the UK in to the 21st Century.  Lady Thatcher didn’t need a focus group to know what she thought. 

I read today that Monica-like sycophants in the media are comparing Hillary to Lady Thatcher.  Nothing could be more wrong. 

Stephen Bainbridge has provided a table that shows exactly the vast difference between Lady Thatcher and Hillary:



Thatcher Quotes Clinton Quotes
There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families. We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.
People think that at the top there isn’t much room. They tend to think of it as an Everest. My message is that there is tons of room at the top Throughout the 1980’s, we did hear too much about individual gain and the ethos of selfishness and greed.
I owe nothing to Women’s Lib. I’m not some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette
No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions—he had money as well. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.
If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage. Children’s lives are not shaped solely by their families or immediate surroundings at large. That is why we must avoid the false dichotomy that says only government or only family is responsible. . . . Personal values and national policies must both play a role.


Trust me, Hillary is no Thatcher, she’s Marx in a pants suit.

Edited to add: I had this before Michelle Malkin!


I Don’t what it is, but I Gotta Get Me one of These!

Friday, January 19th, 2007

I gotta get me one of These!


A Reason for GM to Live?

Monday, January 15th, 2007

In an earlier post I discussed some reasons why GM Must Die.

At last week’s Detroit auto show GM showed a flicker of its old self, the GM that used to innovate and lead the auto industry. They showed a concept car called the Chevy Volt.

The Volt is a very exciting car. It really is a much more sensible concept than existing hybrids like the Ford Escape and Toyota Prius. Those cars must have gas to run, they save a little bit by recovering brake energy and storing it in batteries. This helps with local driving, but hurts their mileage on longer trips because they have to carry the heavy battery and electric motor which contribute nothing to going down the road. No gas, no driving with today’s hybrids.

The Volt is always driven by its electric motor. It has a gas motor that drives a generator. The generator can power the car and charge the battery. This isn’t a new idea, it’s how most locomotives work.

The great thing about a generator/electric motor setup is that the gas motor can be optimized to work at a single speed and torque. It doesn’t need to work over a large range of speeds, it doesn’t need fast throttle response, it has no worries about being loaded to detonation. These sorts of engines can be made to run on almost anything that will burn. Chevy says the Volt’s gas motor will run on E85 ethanol. A diesel version would be better, but E85 would be great. Emissions would be dramatically lower. The Volt is said to use LiOn batteries, which are unproven in auto applications but are generally believed to be the batteries of the future.

The Volt can be a nuclear/wind/solar/coal powered car. For example, I have a 6 to 7 mile commute, depending on if I stop at Jack-In-the-Box for a Supreme Croissant. I could drive a volt for a year with no gas just by plugging it in at night. Chevy says the Volt will run 40 miles on the battery. I assume that if you’re running the air conditioner and/or lights then the range will be much less, but I suspect you could still go most of 20 miles on the battery. Just enough for me.

If, and it is a big if, GM can build this car and sell it then they will have one-upped all their competitors. Their spokespeople are saying that they don’t yet have the batteries they need at the price they want to pay.

I’d say get it out there, as soon as possible. Wrap it in the sporty concept car body and give it a decent interior. Sell it for $40,000. Rich people would line up at the dealers to get it. It would generate massive goodwill for GM.

Make a chicken, the eggs will follow.

Oh, one other kudo to GM. I started to download picture from their website to upload to flick, to use with this post. It turns out that GM has its own Flickr account with lots of pictures of this and other cars. I’m pleasently surprised that someone there understands.

Lots of information on the Volt at Autoblog Green.

Oh, and for heaven’s sake GM, make sure it has NO SQUEAKS!


The Story Arc of My Professional Life

Monday, January 15th, 2007

The Story Arc of My Professional Life

Originally uploaded by JimNtexas.

As told with window stickers.


Dueling Keynotes

Friday, January 12th, 2007

This week we in the great unwashed have been gifted with Keynote speeches from the two titans of the microcomputer world, Steve Jobs at MacWorld, and Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show.

I admire both these men, say what you will about them they both changed the world.

Jobs seemed very fired up.  He had lots of genuine good news, especially in the area of iTunes and iPod market shares.  He got two digs in at Microsoft.  He quoted Windows Architect Jim Allchin as saying “If I didn’t work for Microsoft, I’d get a Mac”, and he ridiculed the Microsoft Zune for its tiny market share.

Strangely, he had very little to say about Mac computers.

The meat of the Jobs keynote was a masterful sales pitch for his new iPhone.  The details of this device are available all over the net, it seems like a real top of the line smart phone.  Jobs’ presentation was enthusiastic and compelling.  Steve’s famous ‘ reality distortion field’ had me trying to make excuses for Cingular’s lack of of the high speed network that the iPhone clearly needs to have.

I came away from Steve’s keynote thinking that ‘Apple Corporation’ as he is now calling it has a very bright future, and that Jobs himself is still at the top of his game.

Gates CES keynote started poorly I thought.  He broke one of the cardinal rules we learn in Toastmasters.  He started with something close to an apology, saying if he spoke next year he’d probably talk about ‘infectious diseases’.  It was a very negative message to send.

It was kind of sad to see Bill and some of his managers still demonstrating Vista.  Vista is going to be a good operating system, but its not quite out yet, and how many years has this been going on? 

The XBox seems like a real success story.  They had solid numbers showing its dominance of the console market, and a strong argument that the XBox can be very useful for purposes well beyond just playing games.

Bill brightened up when talked about the new ‘home server’ product (note: I could find no link to this product using Microsoft’s search engine, that was sad). 

At first I asked myself “why would I need a server in my home?”  Bill made a good case that his product would be very useful. I particularly liked the idea that it would do a full backup of all my computers every night.  And I could see why Gates liked it, the server is another OS sale, and to get the full benefit the user needs one of the higher levels of Vista.  The MS home server seemed like it might do everything that Apple’s Apple TV box does, plus giving you whole house backups and remote access.

Bill kind of lost me when he demoed the ‘kitchen of the future’.  The idea of saving recipes in a home computer was really radical back in 1976, but its not what you call a killer app these days. 

The ‘ bedroom of the future’ had a video wall.  I’ve heard that Bill’s house has video walls, but I really think it’ll be many years before many other people get such things.  And while Bill may put the aquarium screensaver on his wall, I bet most video wall early adopters will use it for porn.

Bill kept talking about the ‘digital decade’, and I kept wondering if he was talking about the 80s, or the 90s.

The Gates keynote was workmanlike, but it seemed to lack the passion of previous years.  I came away thinking that maybe Vista was so stressful on Bill that he’s mentally moving away from computers.  I think his heart is elsewhere these days.

My gut feel is that Apple is a company still on the ascent, still striving to be insanely great.  Apple has figured out that they can’t beat Microsoft in a head on battle of personal computers. Instead they clearly plan to keep the pressure on Microsoft’s computer business, while surrounding the home PC with Apple streaming media and consumer electronics devices.  There could come a tipping point where a critical mass of people are getting their media from iTunes, talking on iPhones, and playing their media on Apple TVs.  This mass of people may just decide that having a Microsoft powered PC in the middle of all this Apple equipment no longer makes sense.

The high prices Microsoft intends to charge for Vista will further erase the price difference between PCs and Macs.

Microsoft is more like an old line manufacturing company, content to stay in its comfort zone, developing incremental improvements in the familiar old products.  In their heart of hearts, I don’t think that Microsoft really believes that anyone could compete with them.

I think Microsoft is wrong about that.


Bringing Home Breakfast

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

I’m feeling pretty virtuous today. I got up well before dawn and drove the hour’s drive to Llano county. I went to visit the family of golden bald eagles who spend their winters in a huge nest, clearly visible from the road.

There is something very virtuous about being up and about literally before the crack of dawn. It reminds me of a remark once made by Dr. Stephen Maturin: “I have never yet known a man admit that he was either rich or asleep. Perhaps the poor man and the wakeful man have some great moral superiority”.

I’m not one to claim any sort of moral superiority, but I did feel a little smugness about showing such get-up-and-go. Radio Margaritaville on my Sirius radio added to my feelings of contentment.

The eagle viewpoint is located on highway 29, six miles northwest of the intersection with highway 1431.

After about 40 minutes of watching the nest a juvenile eagle popped out of the nest, stretched his wings, and went back inside. A birder who had showed up told me that they aren’t real active on cold mornings.

I’m not very active on cold mornings either, but I always eat breakfast. I figured they would also. I turned out to be correct, a few minutes latter one of the adults left the nest and flew towards Inks Lake. About five minutes latter the adult came back, carrying a huge bass. I was able to take the picture you see above.

The birds seemed content to stay deep in the nest, so I returned to Austin, and did some mildly useful things before taking a nap.

I’ve awaken in time to see a new Simpsons episode. All-in-all, a very satisfactory Sunday


Ufo at the Airport

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

Photo by michgm      

You almost certainly have heard by now about the O’Hare UFO.

To put it on a bumper sticker, some number of more-or-less unidentified airport workers saw a very strange phenomena at the Chicago O’Hare airport. Who exactly they were isn’t clear, and there doesn’t seem to be any radar or camera data available to substantiate the sightings.

A lot of UFO reports are like this. Somebody sees something, whatever they see goes away, there is no trace left. If there is a picture, its a fuzzy smug or point source of light. Only a few sightings are really well documented.

I do think that about 1% of UFO sightings may actually be due to a true unknown phenomena of some kind.

The sad thing about UFO research is that there is so much noise over so little signal.

I have no idea what happened at O’Hare. Having followed the UFO controversy for many years, I can say a few thing with confidence:

1) The government has no idea what, if anything, happened. Whatever UFOs are, the government knows nothing about them. So many UFO ‘believers’ have a child-like faith that the U.S. government is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Infallible. Even more comical, they think the government is so efficient that it can keep a huge secret covered up for generations. They blame the lack of UFO information from the government as prima facia proof that the government is engaged in a Conspiracy to Hide the Truth. The real truth is that you don’t get promoted in the government for seeing UFOs, the government knows nothing about what they might be, and the government couldn’t keep a secret that interesting from the public for more than five minutes.

2) People will start coming out of the woodwork claming not only to have seen the UFO, they’ll claim the UFO landed and the Litte Green Men talked with them. And of course they’ll say that ‘men in black’ took their cameras away from them, or they’d have proof.

When there is a UFO sighting there are many people who want in on the act. There’s someone who wants to use their 15 minutes of fame to participate in the excitement. After a short time there it will be very difficult to sort out the actual eye witnesses from the fame seekers.

This pattern is clearly evident in the well documented ‘Bentwaters UFO‘. This is the case that got me interested in the UFO phenomena. I heard on the radio the tape recording made by the senior eye witness, Colonel Charles Halt. I was in the Air Force at the time, and could tell at once that this tape was real, the person on the tape was speaking in exactly the tone and vocabulary used by Air Force Officers of the period. In this case the Air Force people saw something strange, recorded their impressions, and wrote a report. Nobody ever figured out what the phenomena might have been. As the years have passed, more and more people not mentioned in the contemporary accounts have come forward and claim to have been involved. I take these latecomers to the party with a few pounds of salt each.

And of course the Air Force had no idea what to make of the case, and everyone in Colonel Halt’s chain of command did the only sensible thing they could do: ignore it and hope it went away.

The government in general and the Air Force in particular have no idea what UFOs may be, and it isn’t interested in the least in finding out.