Friday, December 14, 2007
If Barack Obama is the democratic presidential nominee, we will be the party of new ideas that understands that a united America will be much better able to address the serious problems facing our country than a divided America. If Hillary Clinton is our party’s nominee, every democratic candidate in Wyoming will be painted with that same liberal, big government brush.
I detect a certain naivety in Obama's policy formulation, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. But it's clear his values and principles are broadly shared. It's equally clear that many people admire his style and approach to politics.
I'm not old enough to remember Goldwater, but I see some parallels. Goldwater rose to prominence through local politics and then the U.S. Senate. His views found great sympathy among (for the time) radical members of his political party. He championed civil rights.
Obama has also risen through local politics and the U.S. Senate. He has a lot of support among the Democratic base. He's taken a fairly hard line against corruption in general and earmarks in particular.
Of course, Goldwater got creamed by Johnson. I don't think Obama would necessarily lose, let alone lose in a landslide. But win or lose, I wonder what impact Obama will have long-term on the Democratic party.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Nobel laureate Al Gore accused the United States today of blocking progress at the U.N. climate conference, and European nations threatened to boycott U.S.-led climate talks next month unless Washington compromises on emissions reductions.The Vice President seems to be negotiating on behalf of a presumed future President. Is he in danger of violating the proscription against private diplomacy? Seems he could have just criticized the current Administration and left it at that.
The former U.S. vice president urged delegates to take urgent action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, and told them that the next U.S. president will likely be more supportive of international caps on polluting gases.
...The United States, Japan and several other governments are refusing to accept language in a draft document suggesting that industrialized nations consider cutting emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, saying specific targets would limit the scope of future talks....Gore urged delegates to reach agreement even without the backing of the United States, saying President Bush's successor, who will take office in January 2009, would likely be more supportive of binding cuts.
On a broader point, why does anyone care if the U.S. signs on to another Kyoto-like treaty? The real decision to curb emissions will be made in Congress, largely independent of international diplomacy. Shouldn't Gore be talking to Reid and Pelosi, instead of the converted in Bali?
...the differences in the way pollsters measure "likely caucus goers" in Iowa are huge, not just in how narrowly they define the electorate but in the kinds of voters pollsters select as "likely caucus goers." But these issues are not unique to Iowa. In 2004, 21 states held Democratic primary elections with single digit turnouts (as a percentage of adults), and only New Hampshire had a turnout that topped 20%. Over the next year months, results from hundreds of polls will be released, polls that will set expectations and drive media coverage, and yet those of us that consume the data will know very little about how tightly the pollsters screen and the kinds of voters they select. If we want to be educated poll consumers, we are going to need to do something to change that. We need to push toward greater routine disclosure of methodological details.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In 2004 McCastlain heard that Huckabee was considering commuting the sentence of former Air Force Sgt. Glen Green, who in 1974 confessed to kidnapping Helen Lynette Spencer at the Little Rock Air Force base, beating her with nunchucks, raping her in a secluded area, running over her with his car, stuffing her body into his trunk and dumping her body in a bayou. A witness tied him with the horrific crime and Green confessed.
The Rev. Johnny Jackson, a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, began advocating for Green's release, and when McCastlain heard she began to worry, given Huckabee's forgiving nature. "I was concerned," she said. "I could foresee that commutation might happen because it had happened before."
She prepared documentation to keep the brutal killer in prison. "The governor came from a religious background, so I tried to appeal to him in the way that I thought he looked at clemency," she said. She attacked the sincerity of Green's repentance.
It worked. Huckabee did not commute Green's sentence; he remains in prison.
She had to appeal to his religion to get him to make a good decision. Without that angle, prosecutors and victims were unable to dissuade Huckabee from releasing other murderers and rapists, some of whom went on to repeat their crimes.
Sounds like an Establishment Clause violation to me. Might be tough to prove, but a good lawyer might be able to make something of it to get Green released.
This is not someone I want running the White House.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The point is underlined by his Massachusetts health plan. It's got a lot of Clinton-care about it.
Upside: He's a Governor. And a businessman. He has excellent administrative skills.
AND: While he clearly believes being a Mormon shouldn't stop him from being President, he also clearly doesn't believe that being a Mormon qualifies him to be President.
Strike two: It's hard to take him seriously. He's not pushing any big-ticket initiatives.
Which is also a good thing. He seems to genuinely believe in small-government conservatism, up to and including a robust Federalism. I like that. But I have this gut feeling that no President can actually function with that philosophy.
Update: Whups, forgot about...
Strike three: He's a former Senator.
Guess I won't be voting for him after all.
Strike two: He's associated with some shady people, e.g. Bernard Kerik.
Strike three: Being mayor of NYC does not make you a foreign policy expert, contrary claims notwithstanding.
Strike two: He'll be 71 years old in Jan 2009.
Strike three: While I agree with much of his politics, he's wrong about campaign finance reform. And he's really wrong about immigration.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
But if you look at the State Primary polls (scroll down for links), Romney has solid leads in Iowa and New Hampshire with positive trend lines. He and Giuliani are pretty much tied in Nevada. Giuliani leads in South Carolina (barely), Florida, and Michigan (also barely), but his trend lines are all slipping. Giuliani doesn't enjoy any comfortable leads anywhere except California and New York.
Why isn't this a bigger story? If the early races really are as important as everyone seems to think, Giuliani will be out of the race long before the California and New York primaries. Not to mention the fact he's clearly slipping everywhere except Nevada, where he's only just regained the top spot from Romney.
If you believe that the early primaries are the key to the nomination, and if you believe the polls (and the national media gives every impression that they believe both), then you've got to be looking at Romney as a real front-runner, televangelist endorsements notwithstanding.
1. The polls are unreliable indicators.
2. The national media want Giuliani to win, thus they continue to push the Giuliani-leading-national-polls angle along with the Robertson endorsement.
AND: It should be noted that Romney is investing the bulk of his time in Iowa and New Hampshire. The two states that are seeing the most of him like what they see. I wonder if he's planning to branch out a bit more now that his lead seems to be solidifying.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The point I'm here to make to you is whoever you're for, this is a really big election. We saw what happened the last seven years when we made decisions in elections based on trivial matters. When we listened to people make snide comments about whether Vice President Gore was too stiff.Al Gore didn't lose because he was "stiff," he lost because he's an attention-mongering lightweight who was too close to the Clintons. John Kerry didn't lose because of the dishonest claims about his Vietnam service, he lost because of "I voted for it before I voted against it."
And when they made dishonest claims about the things that he said that he'd done in his life. When that scandalous Swift Boat ad was run against Senator Kerry.
And in this case, what has military service or personal appearance have to do with Sen. Clinton's debate response? The moderator asked a policy question, and she gave a policy answer. She should indeed be criticized for stumbling.
But every candidate stumbles, and I'm sure Sen. Clinton will recover. I believe the above comments show a different problem. Pres. Clinton wields a tremendous amount of influence, which he is calling on to sway voters on his wife's behalf. Having the two of them in office is, in my opinion, an egregious concentration of power. I'm tired of the Bush family, I don't want to go through the whole thing again for another eight years with the Clintons.
And on a different tangent, I'd love to see a reporter stick a microphone in Pres. or Sen. Clinton's face and ask "Do you believe illegal immigration is a trivial matter?"
Friday, November 2, 2007
Bush had long threatened to veto the $23 billion bill, targeted for projects including coastal restoration in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and improving the Florida Everglades, saying it was too expensive because it had unneeded projects supported by individual lawmakers.There are two things that stand out about the Reuters report. First, the author doesn't mention the bill's designation. How am I supposed to participate in the republic if I don't know what bill I'm talking about? How would I reference the legislation if I wanted to write my congressional representatives about it? I can search Thomas Online, but it'd be much easier if I had the official name or the bill number.
Second, note this para...
Democrats said they would try to override the president's veto as early as next week.Why "Democrats"? The story goes on to note that the bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 81-12 in the Senate, 381-40 in the House. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "Congressional leaders" or even "Democratic leaders"?
I happen to know a bit more about this particular bill thanks to Instapundit and Ed Morissey. I note that the Reuters article fails to mention the added $8-9 billion in the final bill. I note also that the article focuses entirely on political analysis rather than substance.
Monday, October 15, 2007
In South Jersey, Syeeba Palmer, a widow, earns too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage for her children, ages 2 and 5, because she receives $2,800 a month from her late husband’s Social Security. Ms. Palmer’s monthly mortgage payment is $2,400, she said. And since she was laid off from her job as a health insurance consultant several months ago, she said it cost an estimated $1,100 a month to continue to cover herself and her children. She decided not to get coverage for herself and to apply for New Jersey Family Care for the children.
“If I lose this insurance, there is no way I can afford it on my own,” she said.
Note the article doesn't mention any other income for Ms. Palmer, including unemployment even though she's been out of work "several months."
Note also the reporter just assumes that a $2400/month mortgage payment is perfectly fine. A quick Google search tells me that a $2400/month payment buys a house in the neighborhood of $380,000. That may very well be average for South Jersey, but you can't tell from reading the article.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
IMO it's not just the movie theaters that are hurting. The girlfriend and I recently visited Blockbuster. As we walked through the aisles, looking for something to rent, we found ourselves increasingly uncomfortable at all the sleaze, violence, and generally tasteless titles on display. Left me wondering if this stuff was really profitable. If so, then what the heck are you people out there watching?!
Meanwhile we recently watched Galaxy Quest. We saw it together in the theater when it first came out and laughed so hard it hurt. Laughed equally hard when we saw it on DVD. I've always been a mild Trekkie (watched TNG faithfully in college but have never attended a con or donned a uniform, tyvm), but she's not much of a SF fan at all. Didn't matter. When Laredo takes the ship out of dock for the first time, she couldn't breathe she was laughing so hard. The imagery in that scene is truly genius.
Why can't we have more movies like that? I'm not asking for more pop-culture parody movies. While clearly a parody ("At least he's outside."), GQ was so much more funny than that. Why is it that David Howard (who wrote GQ) hasn't written any other movies? If he's a one-hit wonder (very possible), why is it that Hollywood hasn't found a few dozen more one-hit wonders like him?
I think if you can answer that question, you'll know why Hollywood generally sucks at making movies.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Barcepundit is correct that Bush didn't say he would invade even if Saddam complied. But even if it had said that, that's not really the most damning point. Consider Bush's statement:
"If we act militarily, we'll do with great precision and focalizing our targets to the biggest degree possible. We'll decimate the loyal troops and the regular army will quickly know what it's all about. ... We are developing a very strong aid package. We can win without destruction. We are working already in the post-Saddam Iraq, and I think there's a basis for a better future. Iraq has a good bureaucracy and a relatively strong civil society. It could be organized as a federation."
Up until "We are developing a very strong aid package," his predictions proved correct. He was also correct that U.S. forces would not need to destroy very much. However insurgents/looters *did* destroy quite a bit (not just the museums and libraries but also the power and water infrastructure). He was absolutely wrong about Iraq's bureacracy and civil society. And so far Iraq has not been able to organize as a federation.
To me the most damning statement of all is "We are working already in the post-Saddam Iraq." This seems to say that the U.S. is already preparing (if not prepared) to occupy Iraq. At the very least it suggests that the post-invasion planning is in place. It may be true that he thought the planning had been completed, but we now know that U.S. forces were entirely unprepared for the unrest and insurgency that followed 2003.
More: This Bush quote from a press conference with Amb. Crocker underlines the point...
I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead becauseContrast with "Iraq has a...relatively strong civil society." killed all the Mandelas.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.They also list a number of remaining problems and hurdles, most importantly the political in-fighting that holds up central reform. Other problems exist as well, including the lack of full U.S. coverage throughout Iraq, allowing Al-Qaeda-Iraq and others enough cracks and crevices to hide in as they continue terrorizing the population.
So the thought occurs to me: Is now the time to go back to NATO and/or the U.N. to ask for more troops? Coalition soldiers and marines are still being targeted and killed, but would this number go up or down if more nations were to commit their forces to helping stabilize Iraq?
Realistically I don't think this can happen. I don't think the Bush administration has enough mojo to convince anyone to put their troops in harm's way. But if it were possible, wouldn't this be a very, very positive thing for Iraq? Consider...
1) The surge is having positive effects, but can only last so long. It's unknown (to me anyway) what will happen when the surge ends. If we could convince other nations to commit new forces, they could replace the U.S. units rotating out from areas like Anbar where the intense fighting has died down but we still need a military presence while stability takes root.
2) Having new nations take an interest in Iraq would help dispel the notion that the U.S. is only interested in empire building.
3) This would be a major boost for morale in Iraq and throughout the region. I believe it would encourage Iraqis who want peace and stability. I also think we'd see even more interaction with local leaders, as described in the op-ed above and elsewhere.
4) This would be a major blow for insurgent morale. They've been taking heavy losses, with little or no immediate gain. Having learned that the surge wasn't going to end, and might even be increased, would I believe convince more than a few local Al-Qaeda and Sadr operatives to give up.
Like I said, I think this is a pipe dream. But I find it so enticing.
Update: Drezner blogs on a Newsweek International article by Gideon Rose, which argues the world is actually doing pretty well in spite of the negative sentiment. Relevant to the above post, Rose wrote:
At this point, having squandered most of his capital and having defined himself so starkly through his initial policies, there is little Bush can do to change anyone's mind about anything. His successor, however, will get a fresh start. And if the next administration can avoid Bush's mistakes, it should find keeping the world on track much easier than most currently expect.I wonder if he thinks more NATO troops in Iraq would be possible once Bush leaves office.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I'm flabbergasted by that number. I acknowledge there's plenty of plenty of people in the U.S. that don't understand how web sites work. I further acknowledge there's a number of people who favor "equality" over "freedom". But one third? That seems awfully high to me.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The original spreadsheet (listing the individual votes) is here.
(Hat tip Instapundit.)
"You know Mickey, as difficult as he is, he's not as turned off by right-wing views as you and I are. He doesn't know--like I said, 'Don't you know the good guys from the bad guys, don't you know that Scalia is a bad guy?' and he said 'No.' And so I just think his antenna is set differently from ours."
Then a few seconds later...
"It's true, he takes things seriously that you and I just dismiss as being right-wing nonsense."
I judge Bob Wright and Steve Kaus to be exceptionally intelligent, highly perceptive people. I like reading/hearing their ideas because they almost always lead me to new avenues of thought. But when reading these guys, I tend to hit a wall at some point where I'm just not following their argument. I can re-read and analyze what they've written, but I never completely grok their ideas.
I think the above exchange explains why. I come from a different political perspective than these two men. I imagine they would both dismiss many of my political beliefs as "right-wing nonsense." Since these ideas aren't worth consideration, they get left out of the discussion. Thus leaving a gap between my position and theirs, a gap that I'm left to fill myself. But of course I have to admit that I dismiss many of their views as being left-wing nonsense, so how then to bridge the gap?
This is why I read Mickey Kaus. Not because I agree with him, but because he's willing to step outside the left-liberal-progressive cocoon and take on my ideas directly. And yes, in so doing he actually agrees with some right-wing heresies like "unions are not unequivocally good." Not that this makes him a right-winger, but it does provide just enough of a bridge to allow someone like me to understand and maybe even begin to agree with his left-wing views. Further, having read Kaus for several years now, I begin to even understand the more impenetrable left-wing writers like Krugman, Drum, and even Wright himself. Mickey effectively serves as a Rosetta stone for left-liberal writing.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
My principal objection to mock objects has been that they tend to test implementation instead of results. And having read through the 2.2 Readme I think my concern is still justified. I see plenty of ways to verify that methods have been called on the mocked object, but I don't see any way to check the mocked object's state. What if the mocked object changes its interface? This guarantees the test breaks. On the other hand, a state-based test would only be looking at the mocked object's resultant state. The only thing that would break the unit test is if the state accessors changed.
I can certainly see where EasyMock would be helpful. But it still doesn't strike me as a cure-all for the unit testing blues.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Model needs to focus on the domain, not the implementation. This is a big problem with the way people think about MVC--too many people think model means database or persistence. But that's an implementation issue. Model must also include behavior and even (gasp!) business logic.
I know I'm guilty of sloppy thinking here. A lot of that was driven by J2EE, where no one put any behavior in the entity objects other than persistence. And to this day, even with other frameworks like Struts and Spring, people still think of "session" objects as owning behavior. Which of course defeats the entire purpose of object-oriented design, where behavior is supposed to live with state.
Paraphrase: "Two major problems: framework and design pattern." Both concepts get abused beyond reason.
Ford's main point is that while the JVM is still a strong platform, the Java programming language itself has peaked. He argues that Java is already being replaced with dynamically-typed languages such as Groovy, Ruby, or even functional languages like Scala and Jaskell.
In the process of digging Java's grave, Ford talks extensively about the difference between software engineering and other types of "hard" engineering. Drawing on a 1992 article by Jack Reeves, he makes the point that all engineering has two phases: design and production. In civil engineering for example, there's an indeterminate period of design followed by actual construction. The outcome of the design phase is a blueprint or a manufacturing plan.
In software, you have the same two phases. The difference of course is that the actual production phase is nothing more than compilation, linking, and deployment. The "design" phase, then, is the process of planning and writing source code.
So what's the major takeaway? For Ford (and me) the most important observation is that since software production is relatively cheap compared to traditional engineering production, and since there are no mathematical models for verifying software (as compared to finite element analysis), testing becomes much much more critical.
Friday, June 1, 2007
'Many of the Web's news aggregators (Google News, Topix) and even some original news sites have the feel of "shovelware" -- a series of headlines selected and shoveled onto the page by computer algorithm.
'What The Huffington Post does extremely well is select and highlight its stories to appeal to its audience. Even more important than the whiff of progressive politics is the feeling that there is active human intelligence making choices.'
First, what is an "internet critic" and why do I need it?
Second, I suspect this guy's inhaled more than a few whiffs of progressive politics if he doesn't see HuffPo for what it is: a gale of Democratic- and left-biased opinion. Which is fine. But you already had The Nation, The Atlantic, Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, Daily Kos etc. Not to mention the New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian (and don't forget the Chicago Tribune!).
Google News is a great idea: instead of filtering the news through unavoidably biased humans, set up an algorithm to highlight the most popular stories. It's fundamentally more democratic than anything you'll find at HuffPo or any human-edited news/opinion site. That's not to say that having a human editor is necessarily a bad thing. But if nothing else it's definitely great to have both. The way Mr. Internet Critic talks, he wants his news 100% filtered 24 hours/day.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
How in the world can a classic like Rebecca be out of print? Fortunately most of Hitchcock's other classics seem to be available.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
There's one issue at least where Thompson seems to be staking out a different position: immigration.
Note the second and third paras:
Thompson, speaking at the National Restaurant Association annual show, said the bill will not win the support of the American people because they don't trust senators' promises to block illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.When he says "Nobody believes them," who is "them"? Wouldn't that be the people pushing comprehensive reform, e.g. John McCain?
"Nobody believes them. It goes to the bigger issue of the lack of credibility our government has these days," said Thompson.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I would note how the Suns' response to the Spurs' a-rule-is-a-rule argument follows the familiar path of legal realism. Yes, the Suns say, the rule itself provides the league no discretion if there is an altercation, but the triggering term "altercation" is itself ambiguous.(Hat tip Jonathan Adler.)
My own take here is that there was in fact an altercation, since Horry threw an elbow at Bell.
But IMO that doesn't clear the league of error. While they were right to suspend Stoudemire and Diaw, they were dead wrong for not suspending Bowen. By not punishing the Spurs for Bowen's antics, they sent the message that Nash was on his own. I gotta think that in the same situation, I'd be coming off the bench myself, suspension or not.
The same applies to the Jazz-Warriors series. By not suspending Davis and Richardson after game 4, the league tacitly pre-approved Jackson's idiotic attack on Dee Brown in game 5. (On the other hand Barnes' technical was a horrible call.)
And yes: Jackson should be suspended for next season's first game. If you're going to punish Stoudemire and Diaw for foolishly endangering themselves and others, how can you not punish Jackson who recklessly endangered another player?
I'd even go so far as to suggest the league should adopt a true zero-fighting rule: any flagrant foul of any severity automatically triggers a suspension of at least one game, possibly more depending on severity and/or frequency.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The World Bank is a good thing. If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. It has many problems that can and should be fixed. Wolfowitz is clearly not the guy to do it. He has the values, but neither the skills nor the style.
Is there no one Bush can tap to fill the role? Is there no one that shares Bush's concern about third world corruption, but who also has the skills and personal style to successfully promote those values?
I had an idea for a replacement, then decided to check around to see if anyone else had the same idea. Turns out that Larry Elliott at the Guardian had a similar idea, only his is more developed:
The Europeans should make it clear they would veto an unsuitable Bush nomination for the Bank, and to make things easier they should give up the right to nominate the next managing director of the IMF. That would give Bush the chance to nominate someone to the job who was non-American but who had a commitment to development and was liked by the White House. Tony Blair, perhaps?
He was suggesting Blair as IMF director. I was actually thinking of Blair for the World Bank. But if you read the entire article, Elliott's idea makes more sense. Still leaves an opening at the Bank, though.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Today's Bleat has this invaluable gem on the subject of change:
Things change. I still remember the first day I saw a web browser; it was in the offices of the Washington Post. I swear the fellow who showed me how it worked said “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
I jumped over to Rotten Tomatoes this morning to have a look at the reviews. As you can see the critics found plenty to criticize, most commonly the length. But look at the number of critics that didn't like this movie but liked Spiderman 2. I don't get that. Spiderman 2 was a long, stretched out, largely boring exposition punctuated with some highly entertaining special-effect laden action scenes. Pretty much just like Spiderman 3.
Of course the biggest problem with Spiderman is, in my opinion, Tobey Maguire. He's a good actor, he portrays an excellent Peter Parker. But his character has stayed pretty flat throughout the trilogy. He still plays the wide-eyed innocent, barely touched by experience. It just doesn't work. I think Kirstin Dunst has done a much better job giving her character a story arc.
Alfred Molina was good in Spiderman 2. He helped enliven an otherwise monotone plot. But I don't think he was quite as good as Thomas Haden Church in Spiderman 3. I've always thought of Church as a caricaturist, best suited for TV. But I thought he brought some real subtlety and even a bit of tragedy to the Marko character. He really hit this character out of the park. I also thought Topher Grace was solid in what could easily have been a complete throwaway role. So all in all I'd say the third movie was a bit better than the second. But then I didn't think much of the second movie at all.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
The epic Tony Award-winning new musical, Ragtime paints a powerful portrait of the melting pot of humanity in turn of century America. (SCERA Summer Season 2007 flyer)It's now 2007. Time to stop using "turn of the century" to refer to the 1900's.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Astronauts were pilots first and showmen second. And while the silver flight suits and the smiling press events and the ticker-tape parades belied that, they were hired for their unique understanding of the machines they flew and their hardheaded ability to coax the most from them. That was Schirra's gift. And if flipping off his boss was necessary to get his work done, well, he was happy to do that too. Kraft, 83, wound up respecting Schirra for that act of defiance. Schirra was happy to get that nod. But the fact was, the pilot in him really didn't need it.
(Hat tip to Daniel Drezner for pointing out Lindsey's blog.)
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Unfortunately the article doesn't offer any other suggestions for storage. Given that the U.S. alone emitted 5.8 billion tons of CO2 in 2003, storing the gas will likely prove far more challenging than capturing it.
Engineers are working on methods for capturing the carbon emitted when coal is burned. They have considered options as diverse as freezing the gases as they come out of smokestacks, and binding them to a liquid chemical after combustion. Two other possibilities are to modify the coal before it is burned, or to change the air it is burned with.
Capturing the gas, though, is just one part of the equation. Finding a way to store it is likely to prove equally challenging. The leading possibility is old oil fields, where the carbon dioxide could be injected to force more oil to existing wells. But the total capacity of all the old oil fields in the world is much too small for this purpose. In addition, the oil fields are punctured by wells that could provide escape routes for the carbon dioxide to leak into.
(As a comparison, the U.S. generated approximately 240 million tons of garbage in 2005. Much of that waste will decompose or can be recycled, meaning the total mass stored will reduce over time. CO2, on the other hand, is completely stable. The entire mass must be stored in perpetuity.)
(Hat tip Instapundit.)
Sunday, April 29, 2007
That goes back to a major theme of web 2.0 that people haven't yet tweaked to. It's really about data and who owns and controls, or gives the best access to, a class of data. Amazon is now the definitive source for data about whole sets of products -- fungible consumer products. EBay is the authoritative source for the secondary market of those products. Google is the authority for information about facts, but they're relatively undifferentiated.He didn't elaborate on why ownership and control were so important. It seems to me that in a data-driven world, control becomes less important, since the entry barriers are lower. But I may be wrong about that.
MORE: O'Reilly suggests that eBay has become entrenched in the secondary market, and that this raises the entry barrier. Thus eBay "owns" that particular class of data. But is the ownership inherent? How does eBay maintain control? I don't think it's because they have the best auction site: there's nothing there that can't be copied or even improved. I think eBay maintains control via the payment service. They've established a level of trust that so far hasn't been rivaled.
Meanwhile, I notice O'Reilly fails to mention Craig's List. Which strikes me as odd, because I think CL is a direct competitor to eBay (if only in certain geographical markets). CL sidesteps the trust issue by offering a more traditional classified ad approach, but even so they're challenging eBay's "control" of the secondary market data class. This can be seen from the number of mash-ups built around CL vs. those built around eBay.
Friday, April 27, 2007
I'm not a fan of the idea that the journalist and the journalist's attitude should be front and center. I think that a good journalist's duty is to get out of the way. The hardest thing about journalism--the hardest thing, a much higher art than being clever--is just to get out of the way, to show the leader of the world as the reader would see it if the reader were there. Just to be eyes and ears. Calvin Trillin, another writer I greatly admired who steered me towards journalism, once said that getting himself out of his stories was like taking off a very tight shirt in a very small phone booth. He's right.I think that's right. That's what I look for in news reporting.
I think Maureen Dowd is very good at what she does. But the problem is that lots of people who aren't any good at it think this is journalism. It's what we should all be doing, showing off our attitude. I think that sets a bad example. The blogosphere tends to further the [notion] that journalism is about opinion and not about fact. I think that's wrong.
Most people think they know truth and think that what they know is right. They're usually wrong. Journalists are among the few people in society who are actually paid to try go out and learn things. Checking is the core of what we do. David Broder once said that the old slogan in journalism is, "If your mother says she loves you, check it."
How much water is needed to support the process? The TV show pointed out that H2O is a byproduct of burning hydrocarbons, but if I remember correctly it's not a huge emission component. Wouldn't you need a lot more water in which to culture the algae?
The idea is that CO2 and H2O emissions are diverted to an algae farm near the power plant. Currently that farm appears to be quite small, as it's still experimental (I think they had 8-10 upright tanks, probably containing a few hundred gallons each). They plan to produce biodiesel, ethanol, and protein supplements (they suggested for cattle feed).
Towards the end of the program, they showed one of the new greenhouses they're building to expand the experiment. Looked to me like it would expand total capacity about ten- to twenty-fold.
Then finally they answered the question that had been running through my head the entire show: how much CO2 can actually be processed with this technique? According to the program, two acres' worth of tanks would process the emissions from approximately one generated megawatt. This assumes a certain level of operating efficiency (of which the Arizona sun is a big contributor).
Time for some math: the Redhawk power plant (which is natural gas-fueled) generates up to 1040 MW's. Thus to handle the full capacity of the plant, you'd need 2080 acres of algae tanks.
That's over three square miles! This of course raises some practical questions...
1. What if space isn't immediately available next to whatever plant? Wouldn't you have to either build the tanks underground or somehow transport the CO2 emissions off-site?
2. What do you do in regions that aren't as optimal as Maricopa County Arizona? Wouldn't less optimal regions require even more algae tanks to process the same CO2 output?
3. How easily does the process adapt to other types of power plant? Natural gas is an important fuel for electrical generation, but it doesn't compare to coal for total output.
4. This fact sheet says one acre produces 6000 gallons of ethanol and 5000 gallons of biodiesel each year. The fact sheet doesn't mention it but the TV show pointed out that the algae doesn't directly produce the fuel--it has to be further refined. Knowing that, how much labor and energy is required to harvest the algae from a 2000 acre farm and refine it into usable fuel?
Bottom line, this sounds like a good idea. But IMO there are still some pretty big hurdles to cross before this technology will have a real impact on CO2 emissions.
BTW: 11000 gallons/acre of fuel per year sounds okay until you do the math. That's only 200 barrels, meaning the full production from a Redhawk-sized plant would be 400K barrels per year. That's just not very much compared to current crude oil production and refinement.
(Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal are the two remaining candidates to become President of France.)
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
And yet, I don't see how anyone can declare victory when hundreds of civilians are still being killed. One of the elements of victory has to be some minimum level of stability. Not the absence of terrorism, but it at least has to be suppressed.
"Thanks to the development of mass media inclined to oppose the nation's efforts to obtain military victory," Keohane wrote, "a new path to victory has opened up for America's enemies."
Though the various terrorist groups in Iraq have failed "to gain even minor real tactical victories against coalition (and now Iraqi) forces, all are targeting civilians, with death squads and bombings that intentionally kill civilians in large numbers."
The death toll, Keohane concluded, is "presented as evidence that we are not winning, and cannot win. That makes the reverse true: that if they can merely kill, even civilians, they are winning tactically and even strategically. Merely killing a lot of civilians is not a high bar to attain, and that lesson will be learned and copied, again and again."
This made me think of the closing months of World War 2. According to Wikipedia and this BBC site, Germany launched its last V-2 rockets on March 27, 1945. That was three months after the Battle of the Bulge, and three weeks after the U.S. Ninth Division crossed the Rhine at Remagen. It was also less than two months before the official end of the war. No one then believed that Germany's ability to terrorize civilians meant they had won the war. It was pure terrorism, with no strategic value whatsoever.
I think Bay is right to contrast Truman with Reid. I imagine Truman felt bad about the civilians killed and injured in all the V-2 attacks. But I doubt he ever even considered the possibility he and the other allies should surrender because of them.
Glenn Reynolds is right to wonder why more people aren't concerned about this.
(Hat tip Instapundit.)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Moreover, until we change our approach in Iraq, it will be increasingly difficult to refocus our efforts on the challenges in the wider region – on the conflict in the Middle East, where Hamas and Hezbollah feel emboldened and Israel’s prospects for a secure peace seem uncertain; on Iran, which has been strengthened by the war in Iraq; and on Afghanistan, where more American forces are needed to battle al Qaeda, track down Osama bin Laden, and stop that country from backsliding toward instability.I understand and even agree with the argument that freeing up troops in Iraq can help the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. But I don't understand how it helps with Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, and/or Iran.
Our interests are best served when people and governments from Jerusalem and Amman to Damascus and Tehran understand that America will stand with our friends, work hard to build a peaceful Middle East, and refuse to cede the future of the region to those who seek perpetual conflict and instability.Is he arguing that the U.S. should stay in Iraq? That's what it sounds like. When he talks about "those who seek perpetual conflict and instability," isn't he referring to Iran and Al Qaeda? Doesn't this say that the U.S. should not allow these groups any more influence in Iraq?
Apparently not, because he follows it with...
Such effective diplomacy cannot be done on the cheap, nor can it be warped by an ongoing occupation of Iraq. Instead, it will require patient, sustained effort, and the personal commitment of the President of the United States.The dude sounds pretty naïve to think "effective diplomacy" and "personal commitment" will convince Iran to stop exporting revolution and terror. Iran was working to destabilize the region long before 2003, and will continue doing so long after U.S. troops leave the region. The question is whether the troops will be leaving behind a relatively peaceful, stable community.
P.S. - Sen. Obama apparently believes the Iraq occupation is having a negative influence on negotiations with Iran. Really? Having 140,000 potentially hostile troops in the vicinity has no salutary effect on the Iranian leadership?
Monday, April 23, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, "Militia: composition and classes" in its entirety (with emphases added) defines the militia as follows:What interests me is the meaning of militia. Only recently have I seen Barnett and others define it that way, even though (as the above code demonstrates) the definition is not new. This is not to say of course that militia must be defined that way; that's just the way it currently stands on the books.(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are —
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
Barnett observes that Congress has the Constitutional power (under Article 1 and the 2nd Amendment) to provide additional regulation for the non-National Guard component of the militia. He further points out that such regulation doesn't have to include a draft or even compulsory training. It could be purely volunteer. So he suggests the best way to prepare for the next violent episode (terrorist attack, mad killer, etc.) is to provide Federal-funded self-defense training. He goes on to propose programs for small arms handling and markmanship. And while he doesn't mention it in this post, I believe Barnett would also propose instituting conceal carry laws beyond the current 38 states that have them.
(BTW this dovetails fairly nicely with Glenn Reynolds' consideration of mandatory gun ownership).
In general the Federal-funded self-defense training sounds interesting. I agree having a better-prepared populace is a good idea. But I see a few problems...
- There's nothing stopping anyone in this country from acquiring self-defense training, small arms or otherwise. And we don't need more entitlement programs. (True there are 12 states and at least one district that prohibit carrying small arms. But that's a separate issue IMO. And besides it's not the only form of self-defense.)
- The idea has a whiff of demagoguery about it. Many will look at this idea and immediately cry "Fascist!", but that's overreaction. Even so, I wouldn't put it past certain Presidential advisors to use such a program to whip up a little alarmism amongst the red-meat crowd. BTW it wouldn't even have to be a Presidential advisor. It could just as easily be some fanatic in a state or municipal government.
- How would you define "self-defense"? Would you need Federal mandated guidelines? Minimum standards? No Militiaman Left Behind?
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Great observation. But to add some perspective, let's do a few more searches:
How many of you know anything about the name "James Giles?"
Giles is a Texas man who served 10 years in prison, as well as an additional 14 years on probation and as a registered sex offender, for a rape committed in 1982.
Last week--the same week the Duke lacrosse team was exonerated--Giles too was exonerated, thanks to DNA evidence.
I'm guessing not many of you have heard of Giles. And I'm guessing just about all of you have heard of Reade Seligmann, David Evans, and Collin Finnerty.
This isn't to diminish what happened to the Duke players. It's to demonstrate the selective outrage on display from some of their defenders. The Duke guys didn't do a day of hard time. Giles did 10 years. The Duke guys were wrongfully labeled rapists for a little more than a year. Giles, for 24 years.
Google News count for "Duke lacrosse:" 4,168.
Google News count for "James Giles:" 418.
Google Blog Search hits for "Duke lacrosse:" 32,227.
Google Blog Search hits for "James Giles:" 180.
I'm just sayin'.
Google News hits for "Duke lacrosse Al Sharpton": 274
Google News hits for "James Giles Al Sharpton": 1
Google News hits for "Duke lacrosse Jesse Jackson": 386
Google News hits for "James Giles Jesse Jackson": 1
The one hit associating James Giles with Sharpton and Jackson is actually the same site. It turns out to be a news roundup that mentions the Giles story on the same page with Sharpton's and Jackson's responses to the Imus scandal. So it probably shouldn't count.
And for further perspective, searching for James Giles' name with any of the prominent '08 presidential candidates produces zero hits. That includes Obama. The only exception is McCain, who turned up on the same news roundup mentioned above.
If you ask me, the problem with the American judicial system starts with the prosecutors, public defenders, and judges, as demonstrated by both the Giles and Duke cases. But the system isn't going to change very fast on its own. Someone needs to step up and spend some political capital.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Looks like Wolfowitz' problem is bigger than I first thought. The oversized salaries for Kellem and Cleveland look significant. I'm not sure I buy into the story about him blocking loans "capriciously"--that could be axe grinding. But it's pretty clear that wrongly or rightly he's rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Another Rumsfeld, if you will.
Still, I'm struck that his critics are the same people that opposed his appointment, and they weren't criticizing his business ethics at that point.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
PolymorphismIt'd be interesting to have a candidate analyze and explain that para. Especially the part about specificity and unnecessary code. I don't think it will matter if the candidate knows GWT.
GWT RPC supports polymorphic parameters and return types. To make the best use of polymorphism, however, you should still try to be as specific as your design allows when defining service interfaces. Increased specificity allows the compiler to do a better job of removing unnecessary code when it optimizes your application for size reduction.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Who's going to buy the struggling auto company? It would take someone with very deep pockets and an almost altruistic sense of business.
How about Al Gore?
I personally think that's a great idea. Gore has said he doesn't want to run for political office, that he wants to focus full-time on global warming. What better way to achieve his objective than to turn around a half-dead dinosaur of the automotive age, and transform it into the leading eco-friendly industrial business in the world? If nothing else he'd have a dynamite mission statement.
(Hat tip Instapundit.)
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
"Hicks hate big government so of course they're not Republican."
I really, really wanted to comment on that. But even now I just can't wrap my brain around it.
The research team that discovered the region don't know yet what that particular patch of DNA actually does. But it seems to be related to brain development.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Take Lam for instance. The idea is that Justice (with urging from the White House) fired her because her Cunningham investigation was widening to include other, more important Republicans. Like Rep. Jerry Lewis. Sounds plausible. There are plenty of documents flying around showing that Lam was doing a decent job on immigration crime, thus undercutting the nominal reason she was fired. But there's one thing that's not being covered: what's the current state of the Lewis investigation? Is it ongoing, or has it in fact been killed. Because if it's still ongoing, then you can't very well accuse Gonzalez and/or Rove of firing Lam in order to protect Lewis, can you?
Also look at Iglesias. The idea here is that Iglesias was fired because he didn't investigate voter fraud in New Mexico. Significantly, he was clearly taking political heat from Senator Domenici and Rep. Wilson. Once again, it sounds plausible that Iglesias was ousted for not using his office to pursue political advantage. And yet, no one seems to be asking whether those voter fraud investigations have commenced in New Mexico. Have they? If they haven't, then what would be the point of booting Iglesias?
Same applies to McKay, who supposedly was sent packing because he declined to continue investigating voter fraud in the Washington State governor's election. Is that office now pursuing the investigation further? If not, how could dismissing McKay serve political ends? And from another perspective, the decision to proceed with the investigation is, in the end, a judgment call. McKay saw it his way, it's entirely conceivable that, having reviewed the facts, Sampson, Gonzalez, et. al. saw it a different way.
Of course it's possible that politics motivated the firings, and that Gonzalez and/or Rove were in fact firing USA's in order to effect political gains. But that's still pretty much up in the air, pending more conclusive evidence. If we knew the state of all those investigations, or if journalists were interviewing other members of those USA's offices, we'd have a much better perspective of the possible motivations. Unfortunately Leahy, Schumer, and Waxman, along with the press, seem more intent on bringing perjury charges than on really investigating the causes for those dismissals.
I'm starting this blog to record randomly smart and/or dumb ideas.