Saturday, January 19, 2008
Not Sure I Get The Point
A post by Mark Steyn on National Review’s Corner links to a post on Dhimmiwatch and I’m not sure I get the point. The posts are about an email sent from Rotterdam district councillor Bouchra Ismaili to one of her constituents. You can find more of the back story here and you can more commentary linked by Dhimmiwatch here. This is the first part of that email:
It goes on largely in the same manner for quite a ways. It is, indeed, poorly written, oddly stated, and occasionally a tad offensive ("devil worshipper” isn’t particularly nice, now, is it?). In fact, some of it is inappropriate for a politician at any level. But…
But the entire story doesn’t have anything like context for me to understand why this email was sent. Was it in response to death threats or something even worse? I’m guessing it wasn’t just sent randomly to someone in her district, so it seems likely that there was some provocation. What was that provocation?
While the email is far over the top in some of its personal insults and switches between nearly kind and obviously offensive without stopping for so much as an apostrophe, it also has some interesting things to say about devotion to liberal ideals.
While much of what she says is very obviously anti-something (Freemasons? Christians? I’m not sure.), she also shows a devotion to tolerance (an external acceptance that isn’t marked by agreement) in the political process. In comparison to the email or statement she was responding to, I have to wonder if she didn’t manage to come out looking better.
Again, without context, how am I to know?
I’m not going to say that this is a woman I’d want to share a drink with, but, then, I really don’t want to share space with some of the other commentators from the Google groups. Here’s a charmer:
And is this a threat or just a prediction?
I’m one of those folks who does happen to believe that a seismic demographic shift in some European countries probably will result in some unpleasant cultural changes. I’m also one of those folks who believes that bad immigration laws and practices make these kinds of racial tensions more likely. But damned if I’m going to get in bed with fascists and racists to condemn the excesses of the people who are compromising the liberal values of Western nations.
This email definitely shows a rep who was wrong: she should never have sent that email and some of her thoughts are repugnant. She also shows a willingness to share space--physical and political space--with people who don’t believe the same things that she does. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to bolster the scary view of Islamic hordes reshaping Western European societies; the contrary opinions, though, make a stronger case for being leery of the racists and potentially violent nativists in the anti-immigration movement.
Friday, January 18, 2008
J*********, the True Story
Those of you who have been following along over the past week or so might have noticed a certain disdain from some members of our community for j**********. If you haven’t been following the news closely, the reasons for this might be a bit opaque.
If you are one of those wondering about this issue, Iowahawk has a comprehensive roundup.
(With apologies for the lack of bowdlerization in that quote.)
HT: Glenn Reynolds
Editor’s note: In case you were wondering whether it is appropriate to refer to these unfortunates only as j**********, even they themselves do this as a matter of course. The most common entry path into this sordid way of life is, after all, J-School.
We’re Number 1: The American Idol Loves Meth Edition
I expect the drug rehab comment spammers to notice soon.
My parents would be so proud.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Tough Way to Make a Living
Door-to-door network services salesman must be one of the worst jobs in the world. Especially when I’m the guy you meet when you come in the door.
I’m polite, I’m cordial, and every word is a carefully plotted stonewall. Every path leads to “no.” Frankly, I’ve been on that date before and it’s not fun. I realize that I usher them out the door and leave them with nothing to show for their short walk from the office next door, and I almost feel some sympathy.
So, to help out the door-to-door sales folks who ignore our “no soliciting” notice at the door, I have a few bits of advice:
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Terraforming Mars: Escape Velocity
So, the manual David gave me when he made me an Author said that I was supposed to alternate frivolous and serious posts*. CharlieMao was one of those; this is the other—it’s time for some physics.
One of the long-term goals of sending men to Mars has traditionally been to establish a permanent population on the planet. If that population is to be much more than hideously expensive spam in a can, they’ll need to be able to breathe something other than canned air and live outside of a pressurized environment. The process of turning Mars from its current status of a desert at the temperature of dry ice with a soft vacuum for an atmosphere to something vaguely tolerable is called terraforming.
The question of how one might go about terraforming the planet is an interesting one, but I’m not going to write about that. 8-) It’s been done, over, and over again. Instead, I will assume the success of terraforming and take a look at one complication that will arise afterwards.
(I’m just going to assert most of the physics here; if you want more information, it’s pretty easy to find.)
Temperature is defined as a measure of the mean (broadly, what most people think of as “the average") kinetic energy of a particle. Kinetic energy is proportional to the mass times the square of the velocity. That means that temperature is a measure of average particle velocity, with higher velocities for lower mass particles. (At any temperature, hydrogen will be moving much faster than oxygen at the same temperature, because the hydrogen is much less massive.)
Planetary escape velocity is proportional to the square root of (the planet’s mass divided by the planet’s radius). For Earth, this is a bit over 11 km/s; for Mars this is a bit over 5 km/s. Both of these are higher than the mean velocity of important components of the atmosphere at tolerable temperatures, but that turns out not to be enough.
Because temperature is only a measure of mean velocity, some particles are faster than the mean and some are slower. For our purposes (and for nearly any purposes, for that matter), we can treat the distribution of velocities as “normal”, which is commonly graphed as the sort of bell curve you have probably seen used for grading. Without going into the math, it turns out that if the escape velocity is greater than about 10 times the mean velocity, the particles will hang around for billions of years. If the escape velocity is about the same as the mean velocity, the time is only a few days.
So lets take a look at a few important gases and make some assumptions about a post-terraformed Mars:
My definition of “terraformed” includes liquid water and breathable air, so I will assume an average temperature of about 0 degrees C (32 degrees F or approximately 273 Kelvin) and an atmosphere with lots of free oxygen. It can’t be pure oxygen (which is quite dangerous), and most very heavy gases are either difficult to make or find or are toxic, so we’ll assume lots of free nitrogen as well. (In other words, we’ll assume something like the atmosphere of earth.) That means we need to find out the mean velocities of water vapor, oxygen, and nitrogen at 273 Kelvin.
Given these assumptions, the results are as follows:
Vrms O2 = 0.461 Km/s
Vrms N2 = 0.493 Km/s
Vrms H2O = 0.615 Km/s
Since the escape velocity for Mars is 5.03 Km/s, this means that the oxygen and nitrogen are close, but probably ok, but the water vapor is going to be bleeding off into space. (Remember that we need a velocity below 10% of the escape velocity for safety.) Even after terraforming, you will have to provide a constant source of new water to maintain a civilization.
By the way, this is why the current atmospheres of both Venus and Mars are predominantly CO2. Its molecular mass is enough higher than that of lighter gases (like methane and nitrogen) to keep it from escaping the planet in the high temperatures of Venus and the shallow gravity well of Mars.
American Idol, Meth, and Me
American Idol featured a woman who was a recovered meth addict. The show producers delved into her stories of woe, giving us a great hardship and triumph story worthy of John Edward’s mills and Huckabee’s substandard hotel reservations. Which is nice, I suppose? Who doesn’t love a story of triumph in the face of overwhelmingly bad odds.
But I just can’t connect on this one. I’m not trying to be cruel, nor am I saying that addictions aren’t scary bad things for some people. For that matter, I’m not saying that I’m stronger, smarter, tougher, or better than anyone else. I have my weaknesses, I know them well, and I combat them daily.
But I just can’t connect to this one.
During the happy-fun-bartending years, I tried pretty much any pharma-product that came my way. Whether it came in pill or powder, I was happy to give it a shot. The only thing that I never got around to was injecting myself simply because that seemed to be going a step too far. Poking extra holes in my skin to facilitate a drug felt a little desperate.
My drug of choice was coke, but I dabbled a few times with meth, and it wasn’t the terrifying destroyer of lives that I’ve heard other people describe. It was a brutal high, it lasted too long, it crashed too hard, and it made me feel twitchy. I didn’t like it and experimentation ended after a few very long nights (very long--both time lasting a few days of finding ways to fill my hours with even more mistakes than usual).
I never had that happy high that I had with coke--that booze, coke, and limo excursion with a big group of friends on the way to see U2 playing Mile High. I had a little wager going with one of my friends as to which of us could get more kisses from random passers by while we were stuck in ridiculous traffic. She managed a few smooches from some of the cars going by. Being on the other side of the limo, I got a little more action from girls walking toward the stadium. The best smooch came from one very pretty, very young woman with a very irritated boyfriend. Oddly, I had propositioned her friend, who looked to be flying solo, but I wasn’t disappointed by the trade. After a few blissful moments and a little bit of tongue, she asked if I was important and if she could come with us to the concert.
I felt bad for her boyfriend and realized that there was no way that she wasn’t going to be happy with the crappy, top level tickets that my little crew had. Luckily, the cars were finally moving and I just laughed as I rolled up the window. She probably ended up far less happy with that smooch than I did, poor thing.
Point being, I have some happy memories of my cocaine days and nothing much happy or clear about the meth days. And, like every substance that I abused, when I decided to stop, I stopped. It was easy.
I fully realize that it isn’t the same way for others. For some reason, some people like the harsh high from the meth and they have a hard time putting it down. I get it, I just don’t care.
So, meth girl was pretty and she had a not-unpleasant voice, but the back story left me cold. I hope she does well partially because of the “she’s pretty” part and partially because I like the idea of having someone that I can refer to as “meth girl” throughout the contest. It’s a fun nickname. But they are really overplaying the tragic backstory thing this year. It may make me a complete bastard, but I really don’t care--in fact, I’d probably be more likely to appreciate a good, current heroin addict with talent than all the sob-story former tragedarians that they trot out to try to get me to connect to the second-rate talents that they usually trot out.
Oh, and this shouldn’t be construed as a blanket approval of drug use. I’ve been clean for almost a decade (honestly). Drugs are dumb. They lead to all sorts of bad stuff happening in everyone’s lives but my own. Once you start, you just can’t stop. You’ll probably go to hell if you inhale. Other bad things, too. Probably. So don’t do it.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
French Companies and Genocidal Dictators, redux
It seems that Citroën decided to use a CGI-ified video of Mao to advertise a car in China. This, predictably, raised a minor firestorm of protest. Regrettably, the protest did not come from those offended by the use of a genocidal dictator to sell a car, but, well, lets take a look:
Citroën, of course, raised the traditional white flag:
Just in case the first white flag was not understood, a local spokescritter reaffirmed the surrender:
I submit that there is only one proper course of action ...
American Idol Makes Philly Hurt
I’m watching American Idol--which may repel some of you, but probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise--and I’m amazed at how much of a talent-free zone the place seems to be. The couple people that they’ve passed through thus far just aren’t that impressive. It’s getting closer and closer every year to being a karaoke contest, I swear.
Not that it had that far to fall.
Of course, the good bits might be around the corner, some of the singers might suffer from cruel editing, and, let’s be honest, what the hell do I know, anyway? There were some nice kids--and I felt bad for a few who got spanked by the trio of doom--but I can’t help but think that American Idol might have already hit its highest peak.
Which is sad. A very sad, low peak.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Fellow Republicans: Can’t We Do Something About This Guy?
Douglas Bruce isn’t all bad (his anti-tax instincts are admirable, for instance), but he’s definitely part bad. And it’s a big part.
Bruce needs to learn some manners. These photographers have a job: take pictures of the newsworthy events of the day. It may have bugged Bruce a bit that it was centered on him, that it was happening during prayer, that it was noisier than he thought it should be. None of which is a good excuse for going around and kicking the press. At least not physically--keep the kicking of the press metaphorical and I’m all for it. What Bruce did was childish and stupid.
Funny the he would do something so crass and then turn around and complain about someone else “behaving in such a coarse and disgusting way.”
Indeed, we are disgusted. Just not by the photographer’s behavior.
Douglas Bruce nearly guaranteed the extra attention through the strange maneuvering that alienated some of his GOP fellow travelers.
I find myself wishing Bruce had chosen to take a hike. All he’s managed to prove so far is that he has a monumentally inflated sense of self, no people skills, and the manners of a naughty child. That’s not what I would consider good representation.
The Rocky’s editor, John Temple, had the right response.
Late Entries (Updated III)
I believe this is the last of the house band entries--which is good. Pretty soon we can go back to talking about the incredible displays of world class pandering going on in the presidential election.
But, first, we have Wheels selection of an enviro-death metal band, TUSK, and their new release Enough to Know Better. Welcome this pond scum (with lovely cover art) to the mix.
If I’ve missed anyone, I’ll post them in updates to this entry.
Update: Two more creative spirits.
Good buddy Craig (who has a new blog--mind your blogrolls) gives us a clown faced camel. Which is cool. The Fellows new album, Live Devoted to Pleasure, might not be quite as cool as the cover.
Left Off Colfax, who reminds me that I missed him in the first round (sorry), brings us Murphy’s Herd’s release, Instincts will be Strengthened.
Stranger, Roberta X, brings us the requisite cheesecake with Walter Marks’ There is Time Enough.
Stranger II, Tam, has Old Settler’s Association and Mile in His Moccasins. It’s odd that the moccasins in question might well be housed on a rhinoceros. But who am I to judge?
Stranger II, Part II, all dramatic and stuff.
Friday, January 11, 2008
More House Band Fun
Doug Sundseth sends his entry into the house band contest (Co-ResurrectionSong House Band, in fact): Alice König’s newest release, ...But Hard to Swallow. Thoughtless frat boys have made the album the year’s big party disk, mistaking the lesbian folk/pop for a sly comment about heterosexual oral sex. Unsurprisingly, a record number of returns have been reported by Amazon and other online vendors.
Doug can expand upon that later.
But at ResurrectionSong, we love lesbians. Which is nice for everyone and explains why we’ve invited Alice König to be the opening band for Pormestarin tytär.
Other house bands competing in the contest:
Absentee Colorado blogger Dorkafork gives us Fan Palm with Fly to Catch a Trout. There’s only a little cheating going on.
Bob, who regularly comments here, gives us The Oval with Boils in Another’s Pot. Which might actually be my favorite cover. Except my own, of course.
Fighting for Liberty’s band Unbundled Network with They Hurry Past It. That’s a great photo.
And, getting back to the previously posted Nathan’s entry, Hoplite and their new album ...Of Looking at Things. Somehow appropriate to the gentleman.
Go back through the last couple posts to see the ones you might have mixed. Frankly, my fingers are tired.
Nice work, everyone. I’m impressed with the creativity on display--and maybe even more impressed by the quality of some of those Flickr photos that we came up with. And everyone remember to thank Shannon for infecting us with this meme. Thanks, Shannon!
Pandering from on High
Oh, ye who think that immigration dominates the issues of the year, head these words:
That leaves a few questions for the crowd: Can men be illegal? Is it only women that are gifted with the special, illegal-proof coating? And, either way, does that special, illegal-free status somehow make it legal for someone to do something like, say, cross a border illegally?
Immigration reform is a big issue, although, unlike the immigration hawks, I don’t think it’s the most important issue of our time and I’m actually in favor of some solutions that would leave Michelle Malkin mocking me cruelly. Thankfully, I’m not important enough to mock or my feelings might be seriously hurt.
While I suppose it’s reasonable to say that a person can’t be illegal--that is, a person’s very existence can’t be against the law--the obvious implication that illegal immigrants (which describes both a person and how that person entered the country) aren’t doing anything wrong is foolish. The United States not only has the right to protect its borders, but the obligation to protect its borders. People who have entered the country illegally know that they have broken the law, know what happens if they get caught, and often engage in other illegal activity linked to that original crime (driving without licenses or insurance, stealing Social Security numbers to gain employment).
“No woman is illegal” is a meaningless phrase that ignores the obvious--that illegal immigration is a real, live problem--and seems to indicate that people who touch soil in the US somehow immediately gain legal immigrant status. If that isn’t the case, then I’d love an explanation of what, precisely, she meant when she said those words.
Besides, it comes off sort of sexist.
The Clintons have always lived and died by polls and have an amazing gift of pander. As I’ve said, it’s one of the reasons that I trust Hillary more than I do Obama. Her unwillingness to govern by her principles is precisely the thing that could save us from her more high-minded ideals--ideals that Obama, more often than not shares. This is the first time that I’ve heard one of the candidates use that little gem from the pro-illegal immigration activists, though, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it turns the stomach a bit.
Let it be known that the pander factor is extra-high with this one.
Read the rest. And marvel at some of the other wrong-headed things that she said.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Welcome to the House Band Follies: Hoplite
Nathan has a house band, too. Welcome to Hoplite and their new album ...Of Looking at Things.
Live Blogging the South Carolina GOP Debate: Because I Can
The not quite Zombified instant translation of the GOP candidates in South Carolina will commence in a bit. I’ll post a new update whenever they break for commercials, I’ll promise to include as many spelling errors and grammatical mistakes as I can, and I promise to be even less fair than your daily news channel. Because I can.
Let the debating begin! In, ummm, about fifteen minutes…
Well, that was a lovely and respectful reading of the national anthem. Lovely work, country folk.
For those who are more interested in the ResurrectionSong House Band, the debate is moving below the fold. Welcome Instapundit flock. I’ve missed you. If you would like to know why I support Fred Thompson for President, you can read my reasoning here. And mock me, if you feel so inclined.
First, For everyone who has been looking for a way to help Andrew Olmsted’s family, Obsidian Wings has the answer.
There is also an amazing list of posts and articles about his death. I’ll be sending out a check this weekend.
Secondly, Nathan kindly linked the Zomby Insta-Translation Transcript of the Sans-a-Paul Debate from the last weekend (and, yes, as the opportunity presents itself, there will be more of those transcripts in the near future). Nathan gets the day’s hehndeed for his editorializing.
Thirdly, I forgot to link to Mr. Lady’s Factsheet Five post, cause of the adoption of RSong’s own house band. Thanks, Lady!
And, lastly, speaking of house bands (because we were, you know), I have it on good authority that there will be a few more entries later in the day.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Introducting the ResurrectionSong House Band: Pormestarin tytär
ResurrectionSong is proud to introduce its new house band, Pormestarin tytär.
The name comes from the band’s obsession with an obscure, Finnish historical love story by Kaari Utrio. Why the band chose one of her least known and lesser--in all ways--works for their name remains a mystery and is likely explained by the band’s even bigger obsession with unearned literary snobbishness and the distinct possibility that none of the band members has actually read any of Kaari Utrio’s works.
The music of their latest album, Don’t Deserve That Either, is best described as banal with a distinct, James Taylor-esque sense of irritating self-importance. While the band members are not particularly accomplished and the production is inept, the strength of the album is in the slice-of-junkie-life vignettes and the ongoing, self-referential mythology typified in songs like “American Cowboys (Shooting Up on the Range).”
What the hell am I talking about? Glad you asked; check out the extended entry to find out more.
National Holiday in Iran as Global Warming Comes to the Middle East
Okay, I can’t laugh at the deaths and the general destruction, but it, as wacky weather goes, this is definitely some of the wackiest.
Maybe the Iranians are cranky this week because the weather is bad. I mean, it’s just started snowing outside my office, and I’m feeling a tad cranky.
In case you were wondering.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Oh, Man, I Wish I’d Written That…
From Shawn Macomber, on the occasion of New Jersey officially apologizing for slavery:
Gordon Robert Moore Gets a Failing Grade
Not much could compel public school teachers to take up arms en masse, but this story from the Denver Post just might have the necessary ingredients.
Burn, bastard, burn.
While I’m not the most sympathetic to the “teachers are underpaid” story that is taken with nothing resembling critical thought from otherwise intelligent people (a fact that causes crankiness in darling girl when I’m stupid enough to bring it up), this con man was stealing from those teachers’ futures. He deserves a very long sentence and to have his name remembered by Google forever. It should make for some interesting questions when he gets around to job interviews in the future.
I’m personally hoping that he has a hard time rising above the “would you like fries with that?” level of employment after his stint in jail is complete.
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