Thursday, January 31, 2002- - - The Queen’s English, Please! And now, answer the question..
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, via the USS Clueless: Jane Margolis, a social scientist at the Graduate School of Education and Information Systems at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Allan Fisher, former associate dean for undergraduate education in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, have interviewed more than 100 computer science students to find out why women comprise less than 20 percent of the nation's computer science research graduates. They recently presented their results at the University of California at Berkeley to an audience of computer science students -- most of them women.
From the SF Chronicle: “The culture of computer science has been built around male preferences," Fisher said, pointing out how introductory courses in computer science hone in on very technical aspects of the field.
Hmm.. You mean technical aspects like the difference between homing in on a certain aspect of the field and honing a fine point of your argument? But seriously..
The rarely Clueless Steven Den Beste maintains that there are several problems with this study. Among them: These folks sample of ‘more than 100 students’ at one university is scarcely adequate. It seems flaky to suggest that it is somehow a disservice to introduce students to the technical aspects of technical fields. And finally, Steven feels that Margolis’ and Fisher’s findings are blatantly sexist.
Now please remember that the intent of the study was to determine why women comprise less than 20 percent of the nation's computer science research graduates. Margolis’ and Fisher’s research and findings are certainly flaky. Statistically speaking, given the inadequate sample, the significance of their findings approaches zero. Thus, their conclusions are rank speculation. But it would seem that sex was the dependent variable of the study. I would find it odd if they didn’t focus on sexual differences in their ‘culture of computer science.’
The unstated assumption and fundamental conclusion of Margolis’ and Fisher’s study seem to be that all else being equal, about 50% of computer science students and 50% of computer science graduates should be women. Because this is not the case there must be something fundamentally wrong with computer science education.
Being a computer scientist, this leaves Steven understandably livid: “Is anyone surprised to learn that this study was conducted by two women?” Allan Fisher is an unusual name for a woman. “The goal of a technical education is to give students the specific knowledge that they need to perform in the field.” Indeed. “There's a place for "gender socialization in education." It's over in the Lit department.” At least he didn’t sic ‘em on the anthro department..
But none of this addresses Margolis’ and Fisher’s question: ‘Why do women comprise less than 20 percent of the nation's computer science research graduates?’ Once they’d asked the question, Margolis and Fisher were bound to find some reason for this dichotomy that is attributable to gender. Are women ‘more concerned with the usability and usefulness’ of computers, and ‘more easily intimidated by technical topics,’ while men ‘tend to geek on computers for computers’ sake,’ the essence of Margolis’ and Fisher’s arguably sexist and unarguably predictable conclusions?
To speculate that women are intimidated by tech-savvy males certainly sounds sexist. To speculate further, and less specifically about computer science, one might suggest that male students in our society are conscious, correctly or incorrectly, of the stereotypical ‘male as bread-winner’ role, and thus may apply themselves more diligently to difficult technical subjects that promise to make them economically successful.
But since this is all speculation anyway, I'll argue that it’s more fun to speculate that women are a distinct species, and only distantly related to another distinct species: computer scientists.
Update: Steven Den Beste responds..
“As to why a minority of CS students are women, there may well be fascinating reasons for that, and it is almost certainly not random.”
“What I do know is that changing the curriculum is not the way to deal with it.”
I agree. Whatever the problem, it does appear real and it appears to extend well into many other technical fields. However, it is silly to expect to receive a degree in a technical field without mastering the technical subject.
Perhaps what I find most scary in this: Margolis and Fisher are associated with the Graduate School of Education and Information Systems at the University of California at Los Angeles, and a former associate dean for undergraduate education in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, respectively. Presumably both these folks are still associated with educational institutions in some fashion. Thus, they potentially have to power to make silly shit happen.
My field, anthropology, can handle a lot of dilettantes and navel-gazers. We have no choice, we're saddled with them. Here’s a case in point. But heaven help us all if these folks get their way..
Notice that the photo accompanying this article depicts Daniel Pearl against a blanket backdrop. Shortly after it was revealed that the geology depicted in a post-September 11th video of Osama bin Laden gave away his location these neutral backdrops began to appear. No more unintended intelligence to be mined from that vein. Obviously the terrorists are learning. I hope our news agencies are as well..
Wednesday, January 30, 2002- - - The super-pundit is a clone! And here’s the proof. Look at the two photos in this article closely. Notice the part in his hair? Mirror-image twins! I bet one is left-handed too. I’m calling the National Inquirer right away..
Update: Well! I called the Inquirer, but you know how those people are. They said it's probably just a reversed negative or a doctored photo. Either way it doesn't meet their high standards for publication..
In his state of the union address, President Bush challenged all of us to “.. commit at least two years – 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime – to the service of your neighbors and your nation." Sgt. Stryker has “.. roughly 87,600 hours so far.”
Let’s see, 40 hours per week times 50 weeks (surely we can allow a 2 week vacation) is 2000 hours per year. Divided into 87,600 hours is 43.8 years, full time. A diligent chap! And older than he looks too.
If it weren’t for the environmental laws I’d have to get a real job, so I may be a little biased. However, I can’t imagine another set of regulations that have had so many unintended and outright perverse consequences.
‘Grandfather clauses’ such as the new source standard written into the Clean Air Act, [recently mentioned by Gregg Easterbrook (via Andrew Sullivan)], can be a real problem. The intent of the new source standard would appear to be to avoid shutting down every power plant that could not immediately meet the new Clean Air standards. However, as pointed out by Easterbrook, “The rule essentially exempts from regulation some refineries and a large group of antiquated, high-pollution power plants in the Midwest, as long as they don't undertake any significant improvements.”
On one hand, it would be very difficult to find investors for major new energy development, or indeed any energy facility existing or proposed, if the next set of bureaucrats to come along could gore you with some new requirement that you could not meet. Thus, it would seem to be common sense to have a Grandfather clause in such regulations that says ‘you’ll play by the rules in effect when you join the game.’
On the other hand, as Easterbrook notes, this can have the effect of allowing, or even requiring some facilities to continue to pollute, as they can not make any improvement without being forced to come completely into compliance.
While I’m not familiar with VP Cheney’s proposed changes to the Clean Air Act, I’m not sure how Easterbrook comes to the conclusion that allowing grandfathered industries to modernize gradually constitutes ‘letting them off the hook’. If the alternative is the present grandfathered ‘pollution as usual’, it would seem that they are off the hook.
Easterbrook favors another proposal: “This alternative, being pushed by Christie Todd Whitman at the Environmental Protection Agency, would actually strengthen regulatory standards and rapidly cut Midwestern pollution, while simplifying rules and reducing costs.” As he notes, Whitman’s proposal “.. has been under discussion for months and is expected to become public soon ..”
It’s hard to argue with a proposal that’s not yet public, but I can’t wait to hear how we can ‘strengthen regulatory standards, drastically cut pollution, and reduce costs simultaneously. This sounds a lot like ‘less taxes and more spending,’ a logical impossibility, but a great rhetorical device. Sure, Whitman's polution trading plan would shift costs, making the older plants less economically sustainable, but reducing pollution overall would certainly seem to increase costs overall. Perhaps that Whitman’s proposal is receiving little attention even from environmentalists is a sign of environmental realism in our post-PC world.
With Enron going down we’re seeing a lot of puffery from DC. Bottom line, politicians writing government ethics laws are like thieves writing laws on burglary. There’s just too much self-interest involved.
You can look at the campaign contributions of businesses two ways: The public sees the business trying to buy favors, influence, access, whatever. Businessmen often feel like we're being shaken down - 'if you don't contribute you will be ignored.' From that point of view it's safest to hedge your bets and contribute to any likely candidate. The Bush Cabinet officials supposedly told Enron 'no', but at least the calls got through. Believe me, that's 90% of the battle.
I've got a great idea. How about making all politicians responsible for the actions of every one of their campaign contributors? Talk about a small government initiative! Perot and Forbes and Bloomberg could run the country. On second thought..
Speaking of lawsuits, one of my clients had the misfortune to retain a consultant who had gotten established in business with money won in a lawsuit. It became apparent that this person wasn’t running a consulting business, but rather trolling for the next lawsuit. Within three months my client had been threatened with legal action at least twice. In the mean time the consultant was doing a lousy job—’Fire me, I dare you!’ seemed to be the business philosophy in operation.
Between the ambulance chasers trolling for ‘victims’ - “Have you been injured? Before you see a doctor call Shifty, Shyster and Crony..” and all the many employee protection laws that seem to serve mainly to create clients for them, I’ve decided never to hire employees.
The Cato Institute Daily Commentary for Jan. 22nd has an excellent outline of the problems with the ADA: “At the time of its passage, only about one-third of individuals with disabilities had jobs. Today, unfortunately, that number has not changed significantly. This is probably because the ADA discourages companies from hiring the handicapped. What if an employer hires a person with a disability and, for reasons unrelated to the handicap, that worker just doesn't work out? If the employer dismisses the worker, the worker is likely to sue under the ADA for discrimination.
And if you try to dismiss a woman or minority you will be sued under EEOC. And if ..
It started snowing night before last and kept it up for over 24 hours. We had barely a skiff on the ground before but we’ve picked up about 4¾ inches of fresh powder. Not a lot by ski slope standards but very welcome. The soil was so dry in the hills last summer that some of the vegetation didn’t appear to germinate. The grass was crunchy under foot.
Monday, January 28, 2002- - - Print Punditwatch quotes Tom Friedman “… while America has won the war in Afghanistan, it has not won the hearts and minds of the Arab-Muslim world. The cultural-political-psychological chasm between us is wider than ever.”
As H.S. Thompson noted: “Grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.”
Oh yes! The bit in Jurassic III where the lead character plays a tune for the raptors on a reproduced resonating chamber? I know a lot of turkey hunters who would love to be able to play a tune that sweet. And we’re just trying to fool a bird. Not a critter that’s ‘smarter than a Primate!’
But they did have a .50 Barrett. Although they just had to mis-represent it as a 20mm. The .50 Browning cartridge would be my choice if I ever get the chance to hunt T. rex. But the rounds aren’t explosive.
OK, I had decided to spend less time commenting on other blogs. But I’ve got to spring to the defense of the home boy. If you follow all the side bar one paragraph ‘events’, you’ll note that VP Cheney hasn’t been in hiding at all. He’s been hunting pheasants in South Dakota (gateway to North Dakota; thanks, Dave Barry).
The pheasant season just ended. That explains his re-appearance. Now if I had the VP’s influence over the seasons I’d still be in SoDak..
I’m in charge of the taco meat tonight. last operation: Chop habanero, decontaminate hands, stir with long-handled spoon.
The habaneros from our garden are so hot they’re positively radioactive this year.
Success is in sight. I’ve got my web page set up, I actually had one all along, it was established when I started my internet account. Now I can start up-loading photos!
We finally watched Jurassic Park III last night. Much better graphics and special effects that Jurassic II. But..
Velociraptors: “Smarter than a whale, smarter than a dolphin, smarter than a Primate.” Aside from the Primate who wrote that line .. I think not. There’s just not enough room in that cranium for that much brain. Remember, chickens live in flocks and vocalize constantly..
Again in Sunday’s Casper Star, “The grand champion steer at the National Western Stock Show junior livestock auction sold for $57,500 Friday night..” That’s mighty expensive hamburger. You can’t breed a steer.
And the price is down from last year. Go figure..
Someone must be feeling the heat:
From Sunday’s Casper Star, Democratic state party Chairperson Linda Stoval is passing out bumper stickers that say “I’m a gun-totin’ Wyoming Democrat.”
Sunday, January 27, 2002- - -
And speaking of interesting weapons, I wish (again) that I could show pictures of the ‘letter opener’ I’m currently making. I started with the blade from a bayonet, available from Sportsman’s Guide. It is 15” long with a 9½” double-edged blade “.. made in 1957 by Wenger, the famous maker of Swiss Army Knives.” I removed the hilts and replaced them with brass cross-hilts and pommel, and a carved bone handle from Dixie Gun Works (no illustrations on-line). Incidentally, order the Dixie catalog! For $5.00 it’s full of absolutely fascinating stuff you never knew existed. The only known source for authentic 1700's chastity belts. And I hesitate to even mention the 'brank'..
As the blade was a bayonet, it is very blunt on the edges and as is, will make an outrageous letter opener. However, Wenger makes fine steel and sharpened it would make a great BIG dagger if one had use for such things. The total outlay is about $50 and a couple evenings of time. With careful work, the final product will be incredibly cool. If anyone is interested I’d gladly email photos and instructions..
Say .. I wonder if they’re confiscating letter openers at airports yet??
Incidentally, if you look closely at the fletching (feathers) of the arrows used by the elves in The Lord of the Rings, you will note that they are spirally bound to the shaft. This is authentic to the European Neolithic, and was the method used by Ötzi to attach his fletching. This was noted by Konrad Spindler in his book The Man in the Ice and was covered in considerable detail in the April/May 1999 issue of Traditional Bowhunter, which isn’t available on-line. Someone went to a great deal of trouble to make this small detail of the movie very authentic.
Another interesting piece of Ötzi trivia: His arrows had distinctly tapered shafts. I’ve recently examined the arrow shafts curated at the University of Wyoming from Wortham Cave, a dry cave with excellent preservation not far from here in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. These shafts are also tapered. Konrad Spindler in his book The Man in the Ice explained that ‘this taper insured that the arrows would be nose-heavy during flight, which improves stability.’ However, once the stone point is applied about any arrow will be nose-heavy.
Some bend is necessary in an arrow to allow it to flex around the handle as it is shot. The amount of flexibility required is dependent on the draw weight of the bow. Too little flex and the arrow will scrape along the side of the bow and shoot wide to the side away from the bow. Too much flex and accuracy suffers. Archers who make and use wooden arrows are very conscious of the ‘spine’ or degree of flex of their arrows. Supposedly, the taper allows a wider tolerance in ‘spine’ and increases accuracy. I’ve recently made a couple of dozen tapered ash shafts but I haven’t personally used them enough to vouch for this.
It looks like Pro Blogger is the way to go to put graphics in my text. Hey guys, how about a free trial run? The Pro Blog This! also looks very promising.
While researching the Iceman article over at A boy and His Blog, I also ran across this gem: “In 1995, The Mountain Institute expedition [sic], with anthropologist John Reinhart and Miguel Zarate, set out to climb Mount Ampato, Peru, in search of sacred sites. They thought they saw a backpack, but it turned out to be a small body wrapped up in cloth. The Ice Maiden was 12 to 14 years old and was sacrificed to the mountain gods. Tied to Reinhart's backpack, she made her trip down the mountain.”
Folks, don’t try this at home. Archaeologists don't go wandering in the hills randomly picking up whatever we find. In the US, except in rare instances where graves in danger of destruction must be exhumed and re-buried elsewhere, we generally call this Grave Robbing.
Native Americans in the US frequently take a very dim view of such behavior. Although there remains considerable controversy within the archaeological community due to the loss of data, across the US efforts are being made to re-enter human remains that have been collected in the past. In consideration of our Native citizens, it is also considered very poor form to widely disseminate photographs of Native burials when it is necessary to exhume them.
Another interpretation: Academics who constantly propose largely unfounded but controversial ideas could be likened to bloggers trolling for hits. The ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ concept. It may be better to be dissed than to be forgotten in some circles.
I’ve intended to spend less time rehashing what I’ve read on other folks blogs and start putting up more content that’s not currently discussed on the internet. But I must link to this, just in case anyone thought I had the worst puns.
OK, I’ll admit it. I made my first bow, and my first atlatl long before I became an archaeologist. I was taught how to make arrowheads by an old Indian, when I was about seven or eight. I still have a couple of arrowheads that I made back then. I’ve always been fascinated by weapons of all kinds. If anything, I probably became an archaeologist because of this interest, although I’ve always been fascinated with archaeology as well.
Much of archaeological interpretation involves a good deal of speculation. I believe that if one wishes to avoid becoming a ’one trick’ pony, a broad knowledge of ethnography and history is necessary. I also believe that if one ever hopes to understand prehistoric hunters, you must have a knowledge of hunting, the behavior of animals, and intimate knowledge of the tools and techniques required for hunting success.
Archaeologists are often enamored of ‘replication’ experiments. It has become common practice to replicate stone tools and then use the tools to gain an understanding of tool use, butchering practices and the butchering marks left on various bones, and use wear, breakage, and discard patterns of various artifacts. But few archaeologists hunt. Fewer still hunt with primitive weapons such as the bow and atlatl.
Too often, archaeologists base their concepts of hunting, as practiced by hunters and gatherers, on the modern European and American concept of ’fair chase.’ Modern hunting, with it’s limited seasons and selective bag also gives a common false impression that prehistoric hunters set out of a morning with the idea that they would hunt .. rabbits for instance, while passing up opportunities to take other game. Many of the statistics on hunting practices stem from Game and Fish Agency studies of hunter success. Thus we have Optimal Foraging theorists who will tell you that prehistoric hunters would never have bothered with jackrabbits. ‘According to our statistics, it takes 16 hours of hunting to bag one rabbit! The calories expended exceed the calorie return.’
OK, then why is it that rabbit bone is so very common in prehistoric sites in Wyoming? Hmmm? I believe it’s because you don’t ‘hunt’ rabbits. You take them as targets of opportunity whenever they present themselves while you are conducting other activities. I spend a lot of time walking in the hills. I’ve encountered many cottontails and jackrabbits. Sometimes they run and one would be hard-pressed to take them with primitive weapons. Sometimes they freeze. Then you can whack them with a rock. You would indeed get very hungry exclusively hunting rabbits but they would supplement the diet nicely. You must also consider that it doesn’t take a ‘mighty hunter’ to take rabbits. Anyone can, and probably did do it.
I hunt with primitive weapons whenever I can. I also make a variety of primitive weapons including atlatls and bows. I abide by the game laws, of course, but it still gives me some insight into what it was like to subsist with these weapons. An insight I don’t believe can be acquired through arm chair theorizing.
I’m still working on adding photos, but it’s going to take a bit more effort than I’d thought. Photos will be necessary in order to begin the discussion of rock art interpretation over at A Boy and His Blog. They would also be nice here. It’s about impossible to explain an atlatl without pictures and drawings. I would love to put up pictures of my bows.
Saturday, January 26, 2002- - - Le belle dame sans merci. Hmm. My phrase book doesn't say, but I wonder if that's where we get the euphemism "White Lady." A person could get in a lot of trouble with one of these phrase books..
But it's fun to tease the Carnivores. And I doubt they're that sophisticated.
Someday I’ll have to share Mrs. Coyote’s theory of Faulting in detail. Basically there are two kinds of faults in this construction: Normal faults and Reverse faults*. If it’s your fault its a Normal fault. If it’s my fault then it’s a Reverse fault and it’s your fault anyway. Convenient!
*These are actual geology terms. But you’ll have to ask Mrs. Coyote, she’s the geologist in the family.
Of course, after I talk all bad about them, they stick up something like this. An excellent discussion of basic HTML for boneheads like me..
There's some new stuff out on the 'Iceman.' Wild speculation in the latest National Geographic..
And now for something totally different.. I’m going to attempt to use the ‘Create Website’ function of MS Publisher to make a bloggable photo..
There’ll probably be a lot fewer posts for the next few days, I’ve got deadlines looming. My eyes can only take so many hours a day of staring at this screen and I must beat the keys.
The only statewide newspaper in Wyoming is a .. to be blunt, it’s a commie rag. Go figure. This is one of those big square Red states out in the heartland. We didn’t have a single county go for the Gore. Big surprise, eh? Where is the VP from again..
But the statewide newspaper has a relatively small circulation, not that many people to read it, the print media are suffering from increasing costs across the board, and consequently I suspect the Star Tribune is pretty cash strapped. They seem to hire a lot of folks fresh from the tender ministrations of academe, regardless. The normal academic tilt shows in their student product.
By the time we beat some sense into them, if that’s even possible in some cases, they’ve got a little experience and they’re looking for a bigger paper elsewhere. If they don’t arrive with too much pre-installed slant, they seem to become so frustrated with their colleagues that, like Paul Krza, they just quit. They’re probably a good place to look for work), if you are desperate and have great patience.
From the Left Brain:
Oh Ho!! There’s nothing wrong with my link. Links to oneself don’t work when I’m off-line. That’s why I couldn’t find this. The look-ups must consult the Archives. I guess that’s why they call them archived files. How clever.. Oh well, I wanted to pollish that piece a little anyway before I threw a permalink to it from the opposite side of the page.
Don’t say it en garçon. And take heart, I’m sure you will find le belle dame sans merci. A fine woman to make you miserable..
I am. Therefore I write, I think. I’m compulsive about it. I must write or the pressure of all this stuff charging around in my head might become too much.
The OpEds and Letters sections of the print news have always been my favorites. Although OpEds often leave me howling at the moon. Either they’re terribly biased on the left, or they’re just as badly biased to the right and goofy to boot. It’s not hard to figure out the lean of the folks who usually pick the OpEds. I can almost hear them say ‘we’ll show how balanced we are by running this crazy Cal Thomas screed.’ Hmmm. I bet Thomas does google himself excessively. There’s got to be some explanation..
At first, when something really horribly bad would trip my trigger I’d write a polite letter to the editor. As polite as I can be anyway. I’d point out that, for instance, Charles Levendosky was completely misrepresenting someone with an axe to grind as an ‘impartial expert’ again. (Yes Chuck, ‘we can fact-check your sorry, tired old unreconstructed commie ass!’ Being Letters Page editor won’t save you any more..) Oddly, my letters were often either mangled beyond recognition—without the ‘this letter was edited’ disclaimer, printed with just a subtle twist to look like praise and agreement, printed under a ‘The Loon Speaks’ caption, or printed opposite a cartoon contradicting my general point of view. Don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. It’s cliché. It’s also true. And I’m pretty sure Levendosky googles himself. And now the folks at my IP will be gunning for me.
Jeez. I promised myself I wouldn’t be rude and now I’ve done it twice in one post. Tsk. Bad Coyote! No bunny rabbit!
So I gave up writing letters to the editor. I don’t need any help looking like a buffoon. I guess that's a large part of the reason I'm writing this blog..
Shortly after September 11th Mrs. Coyote and I were ranging out in the desert a ways beyond the phone lines and paper routes. But we have the trusty [non-internet, pout.] satellite dish. In these situations our only access to news is the dish.
Good god. I’ve never seen such a bunch of totally egocentric blather and falsely earnest camera mugging. ‘Everyone is scared to death about these anthrax attacks!’ Sure. Everyone you know. Media personalities wetting themselves in living color with digital sound. Each and every one convinced that he’s next. And then there’s Geraldo.
Remember media coverage during the Gulf War? Reporters live and on-the-spot, outside in the dark while tracers and rockets lit up the sky behind them? Very dramatic stuff. I turned on Fox one morning while I was preparing the caffeine drip. There’s Geraldo. Live, outside in the dark, hair ruffled, collar turned-up, half crouching and glancing nervously over his shoulder, breathlessly telling us that he’d just arrived in Pakistan. Pakistan! There was nothing out there but dark. He wasn’t on-the-spot. Not even close. The setting was all for dramatic effect. He’d might as well been reporting from a studio in Burbank. I was expecting Jerry Springer to be the next ‘war correspondent on the scene’.
Poor Geraldo. Leave it to him to overdo it even by the standards of those network pants-wetting times.
And no baseball. We were reduced to old movies. I haven’t watched TV news since, and I never watched much of anything else on the tube—no stomach for it. And that’s why I’m particularly grateful to all the blogocracy that sprang up by the time we got home. [spring, sprang, sprung, had sprung? Is sprang a word? The spell checker likes it. It looks wrong. It’s early on-set Alzheimer’s for sure.]
Not one in the bunch so pretentious as to think that the 5th letter would have their own personal name on it. Of course, that was before Pravda designated the super-pundit the New York Times of the Bloggers. An insult to the power-blogger to be sure. Be afraid. Be very afraid Mr. [Dr.? Professor?] Reynolds. They’ve heard of you all the way to Russia.
They have the internet in Russia?? Do tell.
If anyone in Russia ever reads this be sure to send me a note. In Russian. It would do me good to refresh my sadly neglected language skills and force me to figure out how the cyrillic alphabet works on my computer. Don’t expect a particularly intelligent reply. An intelligible reply is about all I could muster.
Now that is very odd. I've lost one of my favorite rants and a good part of the reason I'm doing this at all. I'll repost it now.
And I think I know what happened: The people who design computer keyboards put the Insert key and the Delete key right next to each other. Silicon Valley Roulette?
Why do we live in Worland, Wyoming? That’s a long story. It’s much easier to explain that I moved to Wyoming from North Dakota to get away from the winters. No seriously: I woke up to the radio alarm one morning in early March, 1984, in Grand Forks, to hear the announcer say ‘The cold spell has broken! It’s already –25°F! That’s the warmest it’s been so far this year. Since January 1st the high has been –37°F.’ Yes, it got all the way up to -37°F (roughly –37°C) once in 65 days. I started packing that day.
But why Wyoming then? I got a job. I came down here to work on a project for three months. I’ve worked my way up on that job from WOG to Principal Investigator. I should have the project done by April.
Hmm.. ☼! The aesthetic one thinks Robert Nozick “.. was not just brilliant but extremely good looking.”
Then she laughs out loud at Jeff Bezos’ epiphany: "It's Adam Smith economics that volume will go up when prices go down," he said, "but we didn't know how fast it would take."
He’s just now figured this out? Doesn’t he .. stand by, I’m googling .. Oh, it usually loses money. What does he do—make it up in volume? Never mind.
Oh, fine. Now she tells us to specify to whom you want the autographed hard cover of her excellent book inscribed. Too late now.. Please make mine ‘To the Old ‘Yote.. You are howling at the moon.’
Autographed photos, Virginia. I see a vast market there..
And yes, when do you take down those flags? It seems they’re playing more patriotic than thou in Utica. Well, Jerry, if it’s outdoors I believe you’re supposed to take it down at dusk unless it’s lighted. But no one seems to bother anymore. Out here the problem takes care of itself: The wind will blow the butt off a buffalo*. It does a number on the US flag too.
Ms Postrel reports that Paul Krugman is backing off from political scandal. Or at least American political scandal.
*Worland is the only place fit to live in that respect. But don’t tell anyone. I’ve always felt population and elevation should be closely equivalent.
☼ Maybe I should post a picture. Not of me though. I scare children and small dogs.
Hmm again. Blogger didn't like my little lightbulb character..
No paucity of pithyness around here tonight, eh?
The Samizdata Folks are batting 1000 tonight: Johnny Student asks:
“.. why do colleges hate capitalists?
Because most everyone at a college belongs to the taker class. It’s easier if you can despise those upon whom you prey.
Somehow I think Bill Gates was always a filthy capitalist, although his stuff does spend a lot of time ‘in the ditch’. But remember John D. McDonald: ‘It’s not so amazing how well the bear dances but that it dances at all.’
If all you’ve got is rice and wheat and you need an alarm clock.. Well, a good capitalist would know what to do: Sell the rice and wheat, and ..
Of course, we Intellectuals still sit around and chat all day but we’re trading the coffee houses for blogs..
Over at Libertarian Samizdata, David Carr has some choice comments on the UN: “.. these posturing pompadours in cheap suits are working overtime to impose global wealth redistribution.
Yes. Here you have a ‘democracy’ where a substantial percentage of the voters are from under-developed countries. Of course they vote for more for themselves. Consider what this says about the political proponents of the welfare state in this country: It is not in their best interests to actually increase the general welfare. They will rapidly lose the votes of those who move from the taker to the donor class. Like me.
Therefore, it would seem to follow that we should work to increase the economy and general welfare in these under-developed countries, as well as working to increase the economy and general welfare of the ‘under-developed’ in this country. I’m not talking about handing out more money, but rather providing good jobs with training that leads to advancement and greater recompense—the basic assistance and incentive for self-betterment. By doing this we donors increase the voter base of the donor class. Not to mention reducing the relative demand on the class.
If we can’t beat ‘em they should join us.
Another comment on Pat Robertson and his isolationist ilk:
As Perry de Havilland says: “Eliminate [welfare] and the only people who will be willing to emigrate to another country under those conditions are self selecting high initiative folks who want to avail themselves of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities…”
Illegal emigrants can’t generally avail themselves of the welfare state. These folks often leave their homes and travel 2000 miles into a strange country where they don’t speak the language, searching for the most menial of jobs. They are commonly the most ‘self selecting of high initiative folks’. Too bad we have to make them run this gauntlet, as we can use all of this sort we can get.
On the other hand, if we did have completely open borders this screening process would no longer function..
We had Zatarain’s filé gumbo with shrimp for dinner. As we were dishing up I slopped some of the gumbo down the outside of the pot. It took the tarnish off the copper bottom. Not only is this good stuff, it will clean out your pipes.
The sinuses are draining and the Sudafed is releasing its vicious grip on my brain. I think I could sleep .. NOW.
The Clueless hits warp 11 and returns to the age of the dinosaurs..
The USS Clueless fires a salvo at John Walker [Butt Weasel!!] Lindh:
“.. even without any confessions Lindh may have made, they've got him cold. It's not like there's any doubt that he was serving in a foreign army against the US, which is what he is charged with.”
But did he know that he was fighting the US before he found his scraggly butt [Weasel!!] in that POW facility?
Now I see.. This won’t be the first time that a prosecution has been tied in knots over the dread ‘what did he know and when did he know it?’
Via the InstaPundit, Slate quotes CNN’s Aaron Brown asking if Osama Bin Laden anticipated the post-9/11 events:
"Do you think that he anticipated, given what we saw on the tape last week that he knew in advance and all of the rest, do you think he anticipated what has happened in Afghanistan, that the Americans would come in the way they came in and all the rest?"
I’d like to call your attention to the time stamps on these two posts from the InstaPundit. Two-and-a-half hours between posts! The man is human after all. Or, he and his clone were out playing a fast nine holes..
DNA evidence caught the supposed culprits in the lynx case. They could have easily gotten away with this until recently. Microscopic examination of the hair with comparison to known specimens was the accepted practice prior to the development of DNA testing*. But this is odd: According to Ms. Strassel, Mr. Weaver's findings [of lynx hair] were wrong; the samples he'd found were from bobcats or coyotes.
Coyote hair looks nothing like either bobcat or lynx, and bobcat and lynx hair should also be easily distinguished under magnification*. And who should know better than me, eh?
*See Figures 46, and 64 through 66, in Moore, Spence and Dugnolle’s Identification of the Dorsal Guard Hairs of Some Mammals of Wyoming. William G. Hepworth, ed., Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 1974.
Pat Robertson is at it again, according to Samizdata. I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again:
“Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.”
Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary
‘Don’t take your guns to school boy, leave your guns at home son, don’t take those gun’s to town..’ Sing it ,Johnny Cash! I’d like to share my philosophy with those folks. Sounds more like the Shining Path.
I was making a muzzleloader in the high school shop when I got a call that the principal wanted to see me ‘and bring that project.’ Shit. .. He liked it.
I used to like reading Samizdata but now it downloads darn near as slow as some of those sites I get emails about.. Hey! What happened to the picture of Natalija?
“Paul Robinson conceded Monday that the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle is "pretty damn cool."
Paul, buddy .. you need to shoot it faster, then it’ll be Hot!
Chris Smith is discussing the delights of cigars and diets, and damning lawyers for their money-grubbing ways. But of course, he is a victim. How many Big Mac & beer commercials can you watch before you’re driven to a feeding frenzy? Sue the food manufacturers? Hell no. I say sue the TV producers. They’ve got all the money.
Put down those Chicken McNuggets Chris! After all, I’ve got to take care of my favorite reader.
Speaking of which, we had those delicious Original Vegan Boca Burgers for lunch. I thought it was chic’n. I shall be running a little ad right over <—there, as soon as they contact me..
Chris says hanging’s too good for John Walker [Butt Weasel!!] Lindh. Better to lock him up and feed him three catered Halal meals a day—for the rest of his life. Is rat Halal if you slaughter it properly? Looks like Chic’n is.
Now that’s Mean Cuisine.
Note: You have no idea how many times I reworded that sentence to get the arrow in the right place..
Over at USS Clueless, Steven Den Beste is discussing the plots of such fine classics as Debbie Does Dallas.
Porn films have plots? I can honestly say I never noticed.. I did noticed Bambi’s big ambitions though.
The BLM is psychic! Or .. they’re watching this blog very closely*. I’ve just this minute gotten a call from ‘Laurie’ and my payment will be on it’s way on about two days. Good enough for government work..
Hey! I like wildlife. Especially bunnies—they’re tasty!
But seriously folks, here’s More on the lynx ‘scandal’, via the InstaPundit:
As much as I’d like to agree down the line with Ms. Strassel and point out the close parallels between this and problems in the historic preservation field, perhaps Ms. Strassel is too quick to throw stones at the agency for the actions of a few individuals. Do some people put ideology ahead of science? Yes. No doubt. Many more simply go through the motions to collect a pay check, little caring for ideology of any stripe. By Ms. Strassel’s reasoning, it was Bush the I-era culture that brought us Ruby Ridge. It happened on dad’s shift after all. And with folks like Leon Kass aboard Bush the II-era culture has it’s share of those who put ideology ahead of science as well.
Ms. Strassel makes some very good points however: “When the species act was passed in 1973, it was a bipartisan effort to save animals truly on the brink of extinction. The law charged the government with making decisions over which species to list, using the "best scientific and commercial information" available. But environmental groups with an antidevelopment agenda quickly realized how easy it was to exploit the law. Getting an animal or plant listed meant putting large areas of rural America off limits to industries they hated.”
The Black-tailed prairie dog business is a good example of this. There are about three million of these rodents. According to one of the folks I know who’s involved in their attempted listing as ‘threatened’: Given sufficient habitat, it would take these rodents about ten years to regain their historic population levels. Their habitat is Iowa and Kansas. It’s been plowed and the habitat is gone, so that’s not going to happen any time soon. but in the mean time you should see what they’re doing to I-76 east of Denver. The ‘best scientific and commercial information available’ isn’t enough. A little judgment please.
And would we be so concerned if they had been more accurately named—not prairie dogs, but prairie rats??
And speaking of North Dakota humor - from today’s Casper [Wy] Star, sorry no link:
Dave Berry dedicated the new “Barry Lift Station No. 16” sewage plant in Grand Forks [yesterday?] saying: “If anything ever goes wrong with this station, call the mayor.”
Florida humor and North Dakota humor? I’m running hot and cold on this..
From today’s Casper [Wy] Star, sorry no links:
Jeff Gearino reports from Green River that the Department of the Interior computer shutdown has delayed royalty checks on the Wind River Reservation. But they finally got them.
Good, maybe they’ll pay on that invoice I sent them November 17, 2001!!
And they’re still not available for consultation according to this bounce back I received a few minutes ago [email address has been changed to protect the guilty]:
The original message was received at Thu, 24 Jan 2002 10:54:28 -0700
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
----- Transcript of session follows -----
Dumb_Shit@blm.gov... Host unknown (Name server: blm.gov: no data known) @11:30 AM
From Fox News this am: Should the feds bail out the Enron Investors?
I don’t think it matters whether the Enron investors are the victims of fraud on the part of Enron management, or victims of their own foolishness as investors. Where do you stop with this? What about all the other people who have lost life-savings through fraud or foolishness? Does the government help them? Only if there’s enough of them to form a significant voting block. This is not right.
See? I can mug and look suitably earnest just as well as Bill O’Reilly. Oh, right .. pictures! I need pictures!!
He was cutting trees up by the Canadian border. The Border Patrol anti-terrorist team spotted him. Using a loudspeaker, they shouted "Who are you and what are you doing?" Ole shouted back "OLE .. BIN LOGGIN'!"
So is the Dog-faced Boy saying that he’s against free market solutions?
No. Absolutely not. My client’s complaints with the present system are very valid. They spend a tremendous amount of money to satisfy various state and federal mandates. In many cases, neither they nor the general public receive much value in return for all the cash. On the other hand, the environment is cleaner than it was, although you could certainly argue that this is more in spite of many government programs than due to them.
I would dearly love to see this change. I don’t have any solutions, any more than I have any new insight into any other aspect of the human condition. A more libertarian, constitutionally constrained government is something worth demanding and working toward. Bureaucrats who remember that they are the servants would be a great place to start. Perhaps the mood is changing and I think it will change more as more people become more frustrated with the current silliness.
In the mean time, the pie-in-the-sky, ‘I’d change everything and make it better overnight if I were in power,’ Harry Browne [Butt Weasel!!] solutions don’t make it. We got into this mess gradually and I don’t see any other way to get out, if for no other reason than that there are far too many people and institutions dependent on the current system to simply ‘abolish the IRS’ [Butt Weasel!!], or some such. Many of the government’s programs do amount to little more than latter-day WPA welfare, but public servants have to eat too.
On the other hand, academics who say ‘our science is valuable’ had better have something more to back that up than loud assertions. Repeating the assertion does not prove it. I do think that a knowledge of prehistory and history is important. It places us in context. However, sometimes I wonder how much more ‘context’ we can afford. We are well into the realm of diminishing returns in Historic Preservation. I do think that the arts [and letters!] are worth supporting and I support them as a private citizen. I don’t demand that the government pick your pockets to support these things.
But we live in the world that is, not the world we wish for.
The ‘Spin-free zone’. Fox News with Bill O’Reilly. I knew I shouldn’t turn on the TV. Perhaps it’s because of the ‘All Anthrax All The Time’ coverage when Talking Heads wet themselves 24/7. It was .. I think the Colonel* would call it being ‘unmanned’. At any rate, I can’t look at those clowns now without being disgusted by their phony earnestness. Some of those folks look like they’re practicing their mugging in a mirror and just don’t quite have it down. O’Reilly’s not the only one, just one of the most obvious. Not a good actor I guess.
*Colonel Jeff Cooper was a Pundit long before Al Gore invented the internet. A very tough old bird. The grass-eater/meat-eater metaphor is his, I believe.
Speaking of drugs .. I’m an early bird. Not this early however (I’m writing this a 2am, I’ll post when I’ve got enough material together). I’ve a mild allergy to something that pollinates in mid-winter. It doesn’t bother me often or badly. Never bothered with being tested, it’s not bad enough to bother spending the $$ on some bozo to tell me what I’m allergic to.. whatever. This isn’t rocket science. I suppose it’s practicing empirical medicine on myself, but sudafed works - the cheapest generic little red pills you can pick up at WallyWorld are OK. Why pay someone to prescribe them? And then pay more for the prescription version. But sudafed and the like are also the source [a source?] of the ephedrine HC that’s cooked down for crank. A drug with no appeal for me. I’m too hyper naturally. I don’t need help pinging off the walls.
And now I’ll stand by and see how well Carnivore works.. No knock yet.
As I was saying, sudafed works, it’s cheap, but I find it impossible to sleep after I’ve taken one. Two? Forget it. I’m fighting the urge to go for the second now. Usually the first one works. My hands are so jiggly from the first that typing is difficult. I can’t sleep but I can’t keep my eyes open.
If I were a terrorist, where would I strike next? I hesitate to discuss such speculation, if only that it appears the folks responsible for September 11th weren’t that bright. No point in giving them any ideas. On the other hand, we’ve got Fox News saying a terrorist group could break into a nuke storage/processing/reactor facility such as Rocky Flats, set off a conventional bomb and spread radiation over the countryside. I should plead that ‘everyone’s doing it.’
The plane highjacking routine worked pretty well. The authorities have responded by confiscating tweezers. Sure, there’s National Guardsmen with M16s standing around the airports, but I’ve got to wonder whether they give some of those folks live ammo.
So here’s what I’d do.. A Frontal Assault.
I’d start by impersonating National Guardsmen. That would get me quite a ways into the airport. I’d hit the Cav Store and load up on standard-issue cammies, insignia, web gear, shiny black boots, etc. As much as I’d hate it if I were a Taliban sort, I’d have at least one woman in the cell—because the US has women in the Guard. Any detachment without one would look odd. Any detachment with one will look very authentic.
I be a 1st Lt. Not high enough rank to be odd that I’d be in charge of a small armed detail. Too high for the real guardsmen to be anxious to challenge me. I’d wear a scowl that said I wasn’t having fun, ‘I’d rather be at the football game, and you’d better not mess with me.’ I’d get standard-issue M16s, or the civilian AR-15 equivalent, it’s impossible to tell the difference at any distance. I’d march into the airport .. hup! hup! .. rifles at port arms, and keep right on going until I was on a plane. Or someone tried to stop me. At that point all I’d have to do is fight my way onto the plane. I’d have the advantage of surprise. Oh yeah, and bring someone to fly the plane. I’d pick a small airport so there’d be less chance of a large security detail. I would try for an empty plane. No point in bothering with a bunch of folks who’s been reading this.
From all reports airport security is a sham. No bunch of minimum wage newly-minted government employees would give me much trouble. The Guardsmen stationed around would probably leap to attention and salute, especially if I looked to be in an ugly mood. By the time anyone figured out that there was a problem it might be too late to resist.
Wednesday, January 23, 2002- - -
Incidentally, the aesthetic one has a real point. There is a significant quantity vs. quality issue here. If I had to produce even one of these per week my head would soon be sucked flat.
A Boy and His Blog are currently dining on Cato and academia. This is a work in progress. .. I would very much like to share this with several of my colleagues, for their expertise on the law and economics of historic preservation, and for general comment. Unfortunately, the DOI internet shut-down is holding many of them pretty effectively incommunicado at present. ..
While producing this, I discovered that I very much like links as a method of referencing one’s technical discussions. As I had suspected, it makes the entire topic more accessible to the lay person. Relatively obscure materials, particularly the professional ’gray literature’, can be made available with very little effort. This will be very handy..
Curiouser and curiouser.. Why do I have two archives files for the same week? I can't imagine that Blogger has so much drive space that they want duplications. But first .. Pictures. Bwaahahaha!!
From the left brain:
By George, I think he's got it. The permalinks may not be pretty but they do seem to be working. I can pretty them up later.
Why by the cow when you can swim in milk for free? What can I say. I wouldn’t pay to read what I’ve written. So far.. I might for some major content, but when AP, NYT, WP, DPO, DT, and the PDQ are available for free, when would I have the time to read what I’d paid for?
Steven hits the nail on the head when he says there are “.. millions of dilettantes with delusions of being as good as the pros ..”. I resemble that remark.
Update: Yes, those homonyms are still cropping up. It only seems to happen when I'm typing very fast. Odd. I think, my fingers type. There's a disconnect somewhere.
This has also given me an idea for another blog. I’ve since googled “A Boy and His Blog” and found that it’s hardly original. What a surprise. Too cute? I would never use ‘cute’ to describe anything that has sprung from the mind of Harlan Ellison. But I do agree that it’s difficult to find a good name for a blog. An inspired name is tougher yet.
Note: For my first post over there I think I was still channeling a bit. I’ll try not to do that any more. At least not in this vein.
OK. Step back from the keyboard and stop channeling Harlan Ellison.
If you’re enough of a compulsive reader to be following this you must have read some Ellison. But have you ever seen him read one of his works, in person? This person thinks he gives ‘lively lectures with his gravelly voice’. Hmm. That’s like saying we’ve ‘bitch slapped the Taliban’.
I saw him give the first reading of his “Laugh Track”, which he’d written for a writer’s conference at the U. of No. Dak. .. sigh .. 20 years ago, more or less. He started by explaining that when he’d arrived in Grand Forks [the night before?] he’d had no idea what to write. But that’s not a problem for him. He sat down in front of the keyboard and started to write and he blacked out. He didn’t regain ’consciousness’ until he was done writing and then he had to read it to see what he’d written .. and here it is.
And he proceeded to .. well, if he’d been using a microphone he would have entangled the room. Several times. I’ve spent a lot of time studying cognitive anthropology and ecstatic states of consciousness ala Felicitas Goodman. I think that is what Ellison did for us that afternoon. He seemed to achieve some sort of ecstatic state. His skin got pale and white. He appeared to be hyperventilating slightly. To say he became animated is an understatement. I think this is the original meaning of the term inspired. It was awesome.
And now I think I’ve had a little taste of what he was talking about.
Tuesday, January 22, 2002- - -
And speaking of grass eaters: Michael Bellesiles whole thesis is nutty. Since deepest darkest prehistory a man’s weapons have always been his most cherished possessions. No other class of object has received such frequent and elaborate ornamentation. No other class of object is so frequently found as ceremonial grave goods. The possession or gift of no other class of object so often marks the right of passage from child to adult. This should not be surprising. Until very recently, humans have relied very heavily on hunting for subsistence.
Some folks simply will not be able to handle this stuff. There are grass eaters and there are carnivores. In such situations the grass eaters die.
Good god. That was not pleasant. But it is necessary to think about such things often.
Steven Den Beste is discussing depressing topics again. Today, hand-to-hand combat with highjackers in the airways: how to fight for your life.
An excellent overview and everyone should read it before you read this. ..
Now, a few additions and clarifications:
A pen or pencil is probably the weapon of choice at this point—at least until the airport security folks figure out that they are pointy on one or both ends. Until then, carry one that’s pointy on one end only. Remember the Bic commercials where they shot a 19¢ Bic pen through a board? Get one of those—they are very strong. Carry it with you always. This works on the streets too.
Use a ‘palm re-enforced grip,’ i.e. brace the non-pointy end in the center of your palm so you can apply serious force to the pointy end without the pen slipping backward in your hand. This will also extend the maximum ‘working length’ of pen beyond your hand to stab deeply. Pad your palm with a kerchief or other cloth if possible—this will greatly increase the force you can apply. Extend the pen between thumb and forefinger as Steven explains. Do try this at home—do it now! Punch a chair cushion or some such a few times gently just to get the feel of it. See?
Do this properly and you can stick that pen into someone’s eye or ear until you run out of pen. It will go in easy once you crunch through the thin bone. If you can get it through the bone, shove it in all the way. This will almost certainly kill. Until you hit the sweet spot: Punch and Repeat and Repeat and again…. As fast as you can. Don’t stop. Find your rhythm. If you can’t get at the eyes, ears, or head at all, any exposed part of your opponent’s body will do. It will really hurt and you will get his full attention. Keep it up until the guy quits the fight by fainting or expiring. Preferably expiring.
Alternately, you can do a lot of damage with a big key. Leave it on the ring, held in the same palm re-enforced padded grip but with your hand in a tight fist with the key extending straight out between third and fourth fingers. Then punch. Repeat. Repeat. Faster. Faster. Etc.. Speed is important to do maximum damage.
Now here’s something that won’t be confiscated until we really do fly naked. A newspaper. Fold and roll as if you were delivering them, but roll it as tight as you can. Then roll it a little tighter. About 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter is good. Keep rolling it. One end should expose folded paper and the other should expose the cut edges of the paper. Hold it like a club by the folded paper end. Now, remember paper cuts? Stab and twist at the face and eyes with the end with cut edges. Use it as a club to parry return stabs and slashes. If you have time, use a rolled up paper in your off hand to parry while you stab with your pen or key. Less awkward than a seat cushion if you can only use one hand.
If you don’t have anything else or he gets hold of you, stick a thumb in his eye. Your thumb is much stronger than a finger. Better—stick one thumb in each of his eyes. Hard as you can. All the way to the back of the sockets. You want him permanently blind. Then hammer him in the face with your forehead. Repeat. Repeat. ..
And kick him as often as you can while you’re at it. Stomp on his hands and feet. Bite his ear. Bite anything else that presents itself. Hurt him as badly as you can, any way you can.
Through all of this, if the opponent is determined and armed with an edged weapon expect to be cut it is nearly impossible not to be cut unless you are very skilled - remember if you don’t do this you will die. Make sure he loses more blood than you do. Don’t hesitate when you attack and don’t stop attacking for any reason. If he knocks you down, get up. Repeat. Repeat. Make him think he’s tangled with an insane, screaming animal.
Most important is to make your attack completely all out. Don’t hold back at all. Scream with every punch, it concentrates your force—just like the karate guys. Screw your feet into the floor and try to drive your pen or keys or paper or thumb or finger or .. clean through the guy with every ounce of force in your body. Put your back into it. By trying to drive through the target you will insure that you don’t pull your punches. If he falls down, kick him. Repeat. Repeat..
Don’t trust the opponent to give up until he is completely unconscious. Be sure he isn’t faking. Stick your finger in their eye, hard. Unless the opponent is completely out this will get a reaction.
Serious athletes practice visualization as part of their training routine. It works. Run all this through your mind. Over and over. No it’s not pleasant. Visualize you cutting and stabbing and hammering and kicking the living shit out of someone hateful while you scream as loud as you can. Visualize being knocked down and getting back up. Visualize being cut and continuing the attack without hesitation. Visualize winning the fight. Visualize the rest of the passengers dragging you screaming and kicking off the terrorist’s bleeding dead carcass. Visualize this until you feel an adrenalin rush.
Your Mind is the Most Deadly and Only Necessary Weapon. Use It. @7:39 PM
While we’re on the topic: Actor Danny Glover says he is certain that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have endorsed Glover's anti-death penalty message. Now that’s channeling.
‘Appealing to authority’ to support one’s arguments is not a new rhetorical device. Perhaps Dr. King was opposed to the death penalty and said so—I don’t know. He was a religious man and it would not surprise me if he were opposed. But that’s not what Nando is suggesting. At least from their report the claim would appear to be more on the lines of a divine revelation. And divine revelations are hard to fact check.
Now remember: ‘You read it in the newspaper. It must be true.’ To paraphrase that zany kitty, Garfield.
Now that you know why I’m torturing the electrons with all this, I’ve got paying work to do..
I agree. This blog is rather lame so far. It’ll probably stay that way. Ms. Postrel has pointed out the analogous problem in her comments yesterday (1/21) regarding the NYT’s Paul Krugman: “.. he writes too often to do a good job.” If someone of Krugman’s caliber can’t do a good job of covering the current events because he writes twice a week, how well could anyone cover the details when they write all day, every day? Some do it very well. I’m not in that class.
I’ve got an opinion on everything. Not necessarily an informed opinion, however. But this blog isn’t really meant to be anything but writing and coding practice and maybe a place to blow off some steam. This is what it’s all about:
First task: Learn how to use Blogger; that’s what I’m doing now. And it’s not that difficult. Though it takes time to learn anything new and I’m a naturally impatient lad.
Second: Figure out how to place an indelible mark on photos and text.*
Third: set up another blog and start posting my research materials and text in a publicly accessible format ala the astonishing Stephen W. Hawking. Some of the materials I’ve accumulated and some of the things I’ve learned in the last 25 years will rock your sox. Guaranteed.
The fourth and final object: get my materials together, polish well, and find a publisher.
That doesn’t sound so difficult, does it? Bearing in mind that I’m still at the early stages of Task 1.
*I’m tired of having my original materials show up in someone else’s publications or being used for commercial purposes without so much as a ‘by your leave’. About 3 months worth of my original, unpaid research - photographs, notes, maps, etc. that I’d archived for reference by other researchers—once showed up as an MA thesis, with absolutely no reference to me anywhere in the document. Not even a ’thanks for your help’. I went back to my original files and low—they were gone, along with all the stuff I’d archived. Someone knew they were being bad and covered their tracks. Now that’s .. well, probably not plagiarism, I suppose it’s theft. I could still prove it: The first Mrs. Coyote appears in some of the pictures in that thesis. That would be very hard to explain. Besides, you don’t write something like that without field notes, so I hope someone’s recopied all of those. There is also an independent witness. But it doesn’t matter at this point. I’ve long since replaced what I had with far better and the culprits are fading into obscurity. And one of them is enough of a bozo egomaniac to call and say ‘I am not’ - aren’t you?
I’ve also had my original illustrations show up in commercial applications. Imagine that. Also provable - I've got the original and art is almost impossible to copy that well. You've got ot copy the mistakes too.
No, plagiarism isn’t nice. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to avoid ‘channeling’ those whose work you admire. I have no intention of weighing in on the Ambrose business. Plagiarism is nasty business. Accusations shouldn’t be made lightly or by the uninformed.
Incidentally, a good part of the reason I’m creating this blog monster is because I’m a technical writer. You would not want to read most of what I crank out. In fact, other than the occasional snide comment [ scroll down to Anthony Swenson] it’s hard to find much I’ve written referenced on-line at all [actually, there is quite a bit on-line, most all of it considered proprietary and confidential by the govt, and not available to the filthy masses, sorry]. Or maybe there’s simply not that much storage on even the superest computers?
If you did read one of my .. stand by while I google myself.. aaah.. reports [that was about designing multivariate stats analyses of archaeologically recovered prehistoric ceramics BTW. Well, it’s interesting to me.] and then read the next report, you would find that it sounds very familiar.
I don’t get points for originality. Quite the opposite. The folks that read and review these things get to know your style and layout and they expect to see exactly the same thing in exactly the dame place, every time. Damme, that had to be Freudian. Some things just turn my mind to mush. Awfully cold outside to be dressed like that..
OK, I’m back. Don’t tell Mrs. Coyote!
Now, as I was saying: Writing that stuff gets very boring. Fill-in-the-blanks reports and government forms don’t stretch one’s writing abilities much either. I enjoy writing and the mental discipline required to say exactly what you mean in a way that doesn’t put people to sleep. I stand in awe of Stephen W. Hawking. It’s hard to explain that stuff to people who already understand most of it. He makes it accessible and even interesting to people like me who haven’t a clue.
I’ve greatly enjoyed verbal sparring over the years and I greatly enjoy written debate as well [ Thanks again, Steven!], but sometimes I get the impression that I’m not expressing myself very clearly. Of course, I plead the Red Queen’s defense, ‘when I say something, it means exactly what I intended it to mean—nothing more, nothing less’ [right, JC? OK, OK, I said I wouldn’t be rude].
So, this is practice. I’m not getting any younger. As Kent Flannery once quipped ‘the legs go first’.- Young Turk! I believe he’s retired now.. I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad, by those standards I am a young pup. If I get any feedback, fine. If I don’t, I’ll console myself with the thought that it wasn’t the point to spout to the masses, but rather to write something other than the same old crap, day after day after day.
If you read this and think it’s funny drop me a line. If you think it’s lame definitely drop me a line [and explain, in 5000 words or less—Why?]
That’s a trick question. In philosophy the proper response is .. Why Not? Appropriate here as well..
I notice I’ve got some quirks from writing as I speak—leading a sentence or paragraph with ‘and’ can probably be overdone. Too many asides and interjections too. I’ll be glad to listen if anybody wants to critique farther..
Ah! Blogger automates it for my convenience. Ooooh! Aaaah! That’s how you insert italics into a link. That was obvious. It may look like #$%^# but at least it’s consistent #$%^#.
Yes, I do talk to myself when I’m struggling. But I don’t answer [yet, stand by]. Better than throwing things..
And I’m still fascinated [too fascinated to focus on permalinks as I should] by seeing my very own words appearing on the net. It is magic! And ‘sometimes the magic works’.
How odd. The link I created below links to a version of a post that I thought I’d dumped when I saw it was ungrammatical.
And do keep those brackets balanced. Getting there. But I still don't have an archive [or do I?] and download time is getting lengthy.
“Smile when you call me that.” Owen Wister The Virginian
The old ‘yote thinks he’s a wit. He knows he’s at least half right.
So I have to set up an Archive before I can use perma-links. Si?
Dang it!! I double-posted to boot. But it looks like Blogger didn't object to the cuss words - it did post them eventually. Must have been running slow. Patience meat-eater..
Whoa Nellie! I thought that I'd crashed Blogger for a minute there. Don't ever repeat those cuss words in your text - unless you really, really mean it.
And again for those less fortunate than we:
“Unless you want to have a blog the length of a football field, you're going to have to keep your archives in order.” Oh. That probably causes lengthy downloads too..
Why, it’s a simple as the BlogItemArchiveFileName tag. Why didn’t I think of that?
And you use it in conjunction with the BlogItemNumber tag. Obvious, obvious..
Who said “The reason computer programs aren’t written in English is because programmers can’t write in English”? I don’t remember butt it wasn’t me. I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism. And there’s another homonym—or maybe that one was Freudian?
Hmm. We're back to concatenating my blog address with Glenn's. Think, think, think......
Speaking of those less fortunate out there in reader land: my dad could read what I wrote, but he emailed me anyway. It seems that logging-on to blogs makes his computer run real slooowww. How old is that thing now, dad? I’ve often wished for a printer with a hand-crank..
If I hadn’t just sent more to the IRS than SocSec gives him to live on in a year..
Hmmm. I like using the link to highlight the word or phrase I want to emphasize. Elegant. I’m starting to get the hang of this.
However, I must get one of those 21” screens like Steven has. Then I could read this stuff without going all googly-eyed on my poor little laptop.
Remember—the Masters of Verbal Abuse are practicing their trade on our citizens. They say “Marine Corps recruits are trained not only physically and mentally, but morally as well.” They talk about transformation, that’s putting it mildly. There is a point to it. It is not gratuitous. I’ve known a lot of DI’s and former DI’s [ mostly Army] personally. None [except those who worked on me] were sadistic pricks.
Out at the Boy’s School the little cretins march around with stiff backs and 1000-yard stares, looking more than a little haunted. They’re our citizens too. And I know that none of the guys out at the Boy’s School are sadistic pricks—well except KJ. And I hope he knows I’m joking.
I probably out-weigh KJ by 75% - I don’t think I’d like to tangle with him. Besides, I’m trying to dicker him out of a certain .410.. Come on KJ, that thing didn’t sell for $250 new. How about $600?? Please, Please??
We [the institutional royal we] do this to our own citizens all the time. When the situation warrants it. Perhaps a few folks from Amnesty should visit with the Masters of Verbal Abuse—preferably as recruits. They would be transformed. And they might begin to understand.
Stand by for those 15 minutes of fame .. Glenn Reynolds mentioned me last night! Well, sort of. He did say: “Remember: there's always another blog out there, somewhere, waiting to be read.” That’s me all right! I bask in reflected glory.
OK, times up.
Glenn notes earlier that ‘even the prisoners aren’t complaining about their treatment.’ Well .. do you suppose they think it would do any good? “I want my Amnesty International! Waaa!” Those poor, poor Talibaners have got to be wondering about their survival right now. They would be if it were me leaning over their shoulders. And I was a punk compared to the masters of verbal abuse.
And remember—the Taliban didn’t stint in handing out the abuse of their own citizens. I haven’t been following the Camp X-ray business very closely, but it’s my understanding that these guys aren’t the run-of-the-mill Talibaner dogfaces. If not, we can be assured that they’re tough guys. They know better than to piss off someone who has them by the short hairs. They’re wondering right now just how much worse it’s going to get. When they do start whining we’ll know that our MPs are getting through to them.
But Why Cuba? Didn't we have detention facilities somewhere? Or didn't we want their flea bit carcasses in our nice clean POW camps? This bears further investigation..
I’ve read about the terrible torture being inflicted on the Taliban in Cuba—from the photos I’ve seen it doesn’t look like a day at the beach to me. Some sensitive souls [like me] might feel a bit tortured were they in that position. Squatting on the ground, shackled, masked, and goggled while big ugly Marines lean over me? No thanks. But in this case, It couldn’t be happening to a nicer bunch of guys.
This is interesting. I have a friend who works here at the Boy’s School [is that a great euphemism or what?]. He’s an ex-Marine. I also worked TRs for Marine units now and then, way back when. And I was once told by a crusty old Marine Colonel that I had a mouth like a Marine—I think he meant it as a compliment [a compliment from a Marine Colonel? I probably flatter myself]. But I took it as one.
My point [do I have one? Is that caffeine ready yet? Yes, wait one..]:
Camp X-ray isn’t a church social. Neither were our TRs—we had live ammo, running exercises in the woods. Not for the faint of heart or the inattentive and I made damn sure the culprits knew—knew deep down in their souls—that they were dog shit. I hope they still remember me. Neither does the Boy’s School in any way resemble a summer camp.
These guys are pros. They're not exercising their lungs or taking out their pent-up frustrations on the poor Talibaners. I'm sure it's not gratuituous in any way.
A couple of notes while I wait for my caffeine drip.
I've made a point of not going back and changing what I'd written here, after each entry is posted. I guess that follows from my rant on the emotional investment inherent in putting words to paper. But I did just fix a badly split infinitive. I couldn't stand it. I plead googly eyes from too many tables of numbers.
And now I must figure out perma-links and pictures..
Monday, January 21, 2002- - -
And now it's been a long day. Time to hole up for awhile.
Howling at the Moon:
"Everyone knows how praiseworthy it is for a ruler to keep his promises, and live uprightly and not by trickery. Nevertheless, experience shows that in our times the rulers who have done great things are those who have set little store by keeping their word, being skillful rather in cunningly deceiving men; they have got the better of those who have relied on being trustworthy."
Machiavelli The Prince
Steven Den Beste has been trying to explain to a Finn the difference between a US Citizen and a Finnish subject:
“The government of the United States serves the citizens of the United States; it does not rule us.” [emphasis in original]
Here! Here! In principal I certainly agree. There are those in our government who don’t see it that way however. Certain petty bureaucrats on power trips spring immediately to my mind. Unfortunately they often win by default. I can’t afford to sue every time we tangle, nor would that necessarily be appropriate. Sometimes they do get to play the tyrant simply by default. If it costs $3000 extra to comply or $5000 to sue, what would you do?
Then four paragraphs later:
“If any US government tries to restrict our rights, the citizens of the United States will rise in revolt, and you will see a terrorism campaign that makes al Qaeda look like pussies.”
I’m not so sure. If our government suddenly turned the screws and there was no clear justification, I agree, people would scream. But that’s not the way our pols work. Please remember how frogs are boiled. How many laws are there on the books now? Federal, state, and local? Gun control laws are an excellent example of the gradual approach to tyranny. Under the Sullivan Law how many citizens of NYC can legally exercise their 2nd amendment rights? Not as many as would like to right now, I’d wager.
The mood is changing [I hope] and perhaps we will roll back some of these laws. We shall see.
To torture or not to torture, or to torture and not tell. A moral trilemma worth some thought. The question has been bouncing around, appearing yesterday (1/20) on The Scene.
What if I knew that a September 11th-size attack were coming and I knew this guy had information? What if I wasn’t sure whether the schmuck knew anything or not? What if I knew that one of these ten guys knew something but didn’t know which one??
Would it make me feel any better if I had a court order authorizing the torture? Then I could say ‘I was only following orders!’
What if I had some whiz bang truth serum that would get the answer out of each one, with a 50% risk of burning their brains out?
Does the good of the many over-ride the good of the few? I’ve pretty much decided that concept doesn’t wash, at least in the abstract. But this isn’t abstract, we’re talking immediate threat of major disaster here. Does that make a difference?
That’s a question I’m very glad I won’t be called on to decide..
The Marvels of Modern Technology: You Reap What You Sow..
You will note in the post two below this, an error becoming more common as we all rely more and more on electric editors. Mostly they’re cause for a sigh and a silent meditation on the costs of skilled labor. Sometimes they’re a hoot. From the local paper a couple years ago:
ASK THE GAME AND FISH
“Do I need to wear a life jacket when fishing from a float tube?”
No, you don’t. Under Wyoming law, float tubes, inner tubes, air mattresses, sail boards or even logs are classified as “water sport toys” and are exempt from the life jacket requirement for watercraft. The exception is if the water toy is being towed by a boar. Then an approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) must be worn.
Whew! Still a few lines out of order but I don't think I lost anything. A success declared.
From the Department of Fine Whines:
In case you though you were having all the fun today: I’m spending the day translating an ancient DOS-based dBase III database file into a format that can be edited with MS Publisher. The resulting table (of numbers) will be about 80 pages long. dBase to MS Access to MS Publisher, with all those subtle little formatting errors at each step. I’m having a ton of fun. I’m ready for those computers that talk to each other. They certainly have me talking to myself.
Anyone in their right mind would share the fun with someone who knows what they’re doing. But I probably won’t get the chance to do this again for at least another 10 years, so I’m being selfish and doing it all by myself.
Followed that link, didn’t you?? But seriously, us coyotes love it when the wolves start eating each other.
From the Anecdotes Are Us file:
This boycott Kmart business has been buzzing about and was last seen on the King’s page. Like most everything else worth reading. The biggest problem with having your own blog is that it’s even more difficult to keep up with everything at InstaPundit HQ. If he were even half as .. Ahem ..aesthetically pleasing as some he’d be my first hit every morning. But as I was saying:
I’m about as rabidly pro-fangs as anybody could be. I like machineguns. They’re fun. In this respect, the only things funner are bigger. No ‘sporting purpose’ other than making a great deal of noise unless you play the most deadly game. But so what? I like fireworks too.
"I like smoke and lightning and heavy metal thunder.." Steppenwolf
It never occurred to me to boycott Kmart—I just don’t like having to chase a clerk when I can’t find something. Last time I went in I was looking for leather work gloves. I know they’re there somewhere. I asked several times and was directed to the diametrically opposite side of the store each time. No luck. Finally I bought a magazine or some such—not what I’d gone in for—and went to check out. The person at checkout was wearing a badge that said ‘Manager’. I was asked ‘Did you find everything?’ and being a little steamed I replied, ‘No’. ‘Oh,’ was the reply, as I was rung up.
“Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.”
Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary
Coyote knows so little about so much that he often feels he knows absolutely nothing about practically everything. He values that education. He continues to work at it.
Coyote thinks that it is worse to be uncertain than it is to be wrong..
Academic introspection is so rare as to deserve further comment:
A bucket-full of years ago I took a class from George C. Frison, who’s since become the only person at the U of Wyo. ever to be named to the National Academy of Sciences. The class covered the prehistory of the High Plains and Doc taught it from his book, [the first edition at that time].
Doc spent a great deal of time drawing our attention to all the details in ‘High Plains Drifter’ that he now disagreed with or felt he’d inadequately explained. Doc expected us to read the book—that’s why he made it handicapped accessible. He wanted to make sure that we didn’t accept it as gospel.
How very different from the academic who wrote a book 30 years ago and has spent the intervening time defending it. We need a lot more folks like Doc Frison.