Friday, February 29, 2008

Word for the day, from Volokh: bissextile.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

easybartricks.com freezing beer trick video.
how to make hummus video.
sushi video, basic. sushi, advanced, from sushi channel. (not quite veggie so adapt as needed.) naan. Had some pretty good naan yesterday in Terre Haute. Right now I'm enjoying crispy tofu from General Tsao's in Indy. It's nice to have disposable income again.

Just finished Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, and am rereading his slashdot article...
4) Who would win? (Score:5, Funny) - by Call Me Black Cloud
In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?
You don't have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.
The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson's Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson's arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Post-scarcity economics article from Wired.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Althouse new friend, Bark Obama. See also Block Obama.

B-2 or not B-2.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Texas wind boom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Farnsworth fusion device revealed after years of Pentagon secrecy.
Philo Farnsworth, the Idaho farm boy who invented the television while plowing a field with mules, had some ideas about fusion. The late Dr. Robert Bussard, best known as inventor of the Bussard ramjet idea for nuclear powered insterstellar travel [idea might actually be Carl Sagan's], who had a company called EMC(2), Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, has been working to turn these ideas into reality. BoingBoing. Google Talks lecture and slides. Sundry links. Obit.
Mad scientist shop flickr set, Black Hole of Los Alamos. Slashdot had this back in October, I missed it somehow.


Amusing http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/page/8/ blog. Target is yuppies, but some of it hits home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Judge denies gag order in Britney Spears case.

Levy watching. Some background on the gun case, and IJ's role.

Maybe I'll read this someday

Post borrowed from a friend.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:02 pm Post subject: The Schechter Brothers Reply with quote
A remarkable, if long forgotten true life story.
Breaking News from The Globe and Mail
Four brothers set New Deal feathers flying
Neil Reynolds
Friday, February 08, 2008
Speaking of author Naomi Klein's inexplicable call for a return to “disaster populism,” as exemplified by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, we now summon as witnesses – for the defence of free markets – the four immigrant brothers from Poland who saved the United States “from going the way of Hitler and Mussolini.” It's an amazing story, exquisitely told by Amity Shlaes in The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, one of the most instructive books of 2007. More a biography of the Depression than a history of it, Forgotten Man demonstrates that Roosevelt's “disaster populism” didn't end the Depression – but rather, year after year, kept it going.
Here, much abbreviated, is the story.

Roosevelt established the National Recovery Agency by executive decree in 1933 “to drive up prices and get people back to work.” He authorized a huge bureaucracy with thousands of employees and with power to control production and prices. Once up and running, the agency was determined to make an example of someone to demonstrate that its vast powers were legal. It finally found what it regarded as the perfect case and laid 60 felony charges against the Schechter brothers – Joseph, Martin, Alex and Aaron – who made a meagre livelihood selling kosher chickens in New York City. ( Schechter means “ritual butcher” in Yiddish and denotes a person qualified to sell meat that conforms to Jewish law.) In prosecuting the Schechters, as Ms. Shlaes describes it, the NRA selected four brothers who had no corporate money behind them, no formal education, no social status. They could scarcely speak English and when they did, as Ms. Shlaes puts it, they sounded like Jewish comedians in the Catskills. They weren't rich. They paid themselves $35 a week, less than NRA inspectors earned. They took pride in their work, which was as important to them for religious as for commercial reasons. It took a special kind of vigilance to run a kosher butchery.
With authority over more than 20 million workers, the NRA had published a specific “code of conduct” for “the live poultry industry in New York City.”
On the basis of this code, the agency charged the Schechters with the crime of permitting customers to select the chickens they wanted; NRA regulations permitted them – as “middlemen” – only to sell chickens “by the full coop,” that is, in quantities of 30 or 40. (The NRA had identified middlemen as enemies of the people and had given itself the authority to put them out of business.) The NRA also charged the Schechters with selling diseased chickens – which would have been a serious violation of Jewish law, let alone New Deal law. To save their reputations as well as their business, the brothers felt they had no choice but to take on the New Deal in court.
When the trial opened in Brooklyn, prosecutors said the Schechters had sold 10 sick chickens, confirmed by autopsy. As the trial proceeded, they reduced this number first to three, then to one. The defence showed that the illness detected in this single chicken could not have been detected by anyone without a full autopsy.
On Nov. 1, 1934 (unemployment rate: 23.2 per cent), the Brooklyn court convicted the Schechters, fined them $7,425 and ordered them jailed for periods between one month and three months. The front-page New York Times headline trumpeted: “First felony case won by NRA.” The prosecutors called the judgment “a sweeping victory of immense importance.”
In May, 1935, the case reached the Supreme Court. The government argued that the NRA's extraordinary powers were justified by the “national emergency” of the Depression. The defence argued that the government was free to go “the way of Hitler and Mussolini” – but would first need to rewrite the Constitution.
In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court found that the NRA was unconstitutional, “a coercive exercise in law making” – regardless of the nature of the “national emergency.” Justice Louis Brandeis, celebrated progressive and first Jewish justice on the Supreme Court, sent Roosevelt a private message: “We're not going to let you centralize everything. It's come to an end.”
The decision was a big international story. The headline in the London Express read: “America stunned. Roosevelt's work killed in 20 minutes.”
Simply put, the Schechter brothers compelled Roosevelt to disband the quasi-fascist NRA, which had indeed been modelled, in part, on Mussolini's totalitarian regime. Thousands of people lost their government jobs but the employment rate headed upward and the Dow staged its biggest rally since the days of Herbert Hoover. The Schechter brothers once again sold kosher chickens the way they wanted – letting their customers choose chickens they wanted, one by one.
© The Globe and Mail

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Currently reading:
The Third Girl, Agatha Cristie.
System of the World, Neal Stephenson.
Third Girl is frustrating. In the first few pages, the third girl tells Poirot he's too old, at which point I knew I'd read this before, so eventually I will remember whodunnit. But I don't remember anything else in it - I guess it been years and some memory loss since I last read it. Cristie wrote 80 books, mostly in a formula that works, about the retired Colonel's country house and a dead body, and I've read less than half of these, but I seem to keep running into the ones I've already read.
System of the world is volume 3 of the Baroque cycle, another 1000 pages or so, which is probably putting me behind schedule to read 50 books this year, but a few good books is better than lots of not as good books.

Liberty and Power, a libertarianish group blog I don't usually read, lists essential dystopian novels. Following is a list of the ones I've read, and then the ones I haven't.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)
Anthem by Ayn Rand (1938)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
1984 by George Orwell (1949)
The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth (1952/1953)
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller (1960)
"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
The Dispossessed bu Ursule K. Le Guin (1974)
Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (1975)
Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
Children of Men by P.D. James (1992)
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992)

"The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster (1909)
The Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells (1910)
It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1935)
Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin (1937)
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (1949)
Gather, Darkness by Fritz Leiber (1950)
Limbo by Bernard Wolfe (1952)
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)
334 by Thomas Disch (1972)
The Gate to Women's Country by Sherri S. Tepper (1988)
Children of Men by P.D. James (1992)
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992)
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (1993)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
Feed by M.T. Anderson (2002)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2004)

Some of these I've never heard of, some are by authors I like but haven't read these particular books. I've met the late Octavia Butler, and used to have an autographed copy of the Dispossessed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cake. Not remotely vegan.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

McCain's daughter, blogging.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Just back from 10 days offline. Likely to blog something tomorrow.
George Orwell, the author of 1984, wrote: "The totalitarian states can do great things, but there is one thing they cannot do: they cannot give the factory-worker a rifle and tell him to take it home and keep it in his bedroom. That rifle hanging on the wall of the working class flat or labourer's cottage, is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays

Volokh has some coverage of the amici briefs in DC v Heller.
I've been reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, a swashbuckling tale of the period 1650-1700, which stresses how the right to bear arms at one point was a matter of class privilege, and a gentleman carried a sword, even if he never used it other than as a badge of rank.
For the US to democratize the bearing of arms was as radical a reform as universal suffrage.

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