Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Plants recruit animals to do their bidding

If the plant kingdom is below the animal kingdom, how come plants use us to get about, to reproduce, and even to defend themselves?   While our reproductive organs are just interesting to other homo sapiens, plants advertise to alien species.  They have tarted up their reproductive organs to be eaten by mammals and bug-licked for nectar,  They gum their organs to the fur and socks of the lords of field and forest and hitch rides in the nutritious guts of their hosts en route to new property when pooped out.  If they're so dumb, how come we work for them?
Strawberry seducing mammal
for reproductive purposes.

Now Science Daily News reports that the fresh-mown grass smell is part of a plant's alarm system. When a plant is under attack, it emits that smell to signal parasitic wasps that juicy caterpillars are on offer.  "Green leaf volatiles" and "jasmonic acid" are the smells released when something starts cutting and eating the plant. Maize (with and without the ability to release the chemical scents) was used for the test.

Clear law is the ruin of a nation.

"Obsession with writing excessively detailed laws had made it impossible for real people to get anything done".  (This is a feature, not a bug for those politicians whose power and wealth come from writing loopholes in the obstacles they create. km)  

Image result for philip howardPhillip Howard     
writes trenchantly in The  Atlantic:

"Modern government is organized on “clear law,”the false premise that by making laws detailed enough to take in all possible circumstances, we can avoid human error. .... Law has gotten ever more granular. But all that regulatory detail, like sediment in a harbor, makes it hard to get anywhere. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act was 29 pages and succeeded in getting 41,000 miles of roads built by 1970. The 2012 transportation bill was 584 pages.
Modern law is too dense to be knowable. “It will be of little avail to the people,” James Madison observed, “if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” The quest for “clear law” is futile also because most regulatory language is inherently ambiguous. Dense rulebooks do not avoid disputes—they just divert the dispute to the parsing of legal words. 
"Nursing homes, day-care centers....(have) a maze of input-oriented regulations. “Food shall be stored not less than 15 cm above the floor”; “there shall be .09 recreational workers per resident”—about a thousand rules in most states for nursing homes.  Australia ...in the wake of scandalous revelations of poor nursing homes ... abandoned the thick rule book and replaced it with 31 general principles, for example to provide “a homelike environment” and to honor residents’ “privacy and dignity.” The result was an almost immediate transformation for the better.
Principles, ironically, are less susceptible to abuse of state power and gamesmanship than precise rules. One of the many paradoxes of “clear law” is that no one can comply with thousands of rules. With principles, a citizen can stand his ground to an unreasonable demand."

He also writes: "Shackling public choices with ironclad rules...dictating correctness in advance supplants human responsibility. ("Nothing that's good works by itself".) Responsibility is nowhere in modern government. Who’s responsible for the budget deficits? Nobody: Program budgets are set in legal concrete. Who’s responsible for failing to fix America’s decrepit infrastructure? Nobody."

He recognizes some rules need to be prescriptive but calls for principle and good judgement as the first face of the law.

Note: Howard's reference to Australia sounds appealing but a quick Google search didn't find it.  The link to his name at the top of the page points to his career and data..

Sunday, 21 September 2014

I wish Putin was a bigger man. Canada's air space would be safer.

Publicity shots show him looking like Tarzan.

Scaled pictures show he is a bit of a shortcake.

A shot of growth hormone might have saved us recent indignities:  Air intrusions over Canada,          Finland,  America,  threats that he could have Russian troops in Kiev, Warsaw and Bucharest within two days,  his actual invasion of Ukraine and his unveiled boast: “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

Will Lefties Ever See Sense?

Never.  This Hydra has many heads - one "biggies"government to get a p.c. solution to every problem - one is telling you how to recycle - others shut all doors free men would walk through.  It's an unstoppable impulse to tell the new neighbours how to behave and to layer zoning and bylaws over the freedom to make deals.  You're not going to persuade vegetarians who believe no fluffy thing should ever be killed to cheer for rib-eye lovers.  You won't get the folks who banned guns from next suspending school kids who point a finger and say "bang".  Regulatory creep is our nature and our fate.   It's coming down the pipeline and even your close friends who mock political correctness, are agonizing over splitting junk into paper, cardboard, metals, plastics, and two kinds of compostables, worried someone will report them for shredding styrofoam and hiding it in a bag of refuse.  The market will look after this if allowed.  In fifty years the few descendants of these same PC people will be making up rules to restrict the "greedy capitalists" who will buy all the landfills in America to make millions putting garbage in one end of a machine while copper, oil, wood fibre, and potting soil pour out the other.

It's our nature to mind other people's business.  The fire of liberty, the fire of innovation and commerce is blanketed by our other nature, which is to put out fires.

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.” "  (A quote from Heinlein, via Instapundit).

Change arrives nonetheless.  A couple hundred years of Chinese ascendency with harsh rulers and smartphones may be in the offing.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

"The Scots Kingdom was Europe's Afghanistan"

Niall Ferguson writing in the Telegraph:
"Scottish history offers proof that even the most failed state can be fixed – by uniting with a richer and more tranquil neighbour. For most of the early modern period, the Scots kingdom was Europe’s Afghanistan. In the Highlands and the Hebrides, feudal warlords ruled over an utterly impoverished populace in conditions of lawlessness and internecine clan conflict.  

"Another Scotland has sprung up. ...What did history have to do with Scotland’s future as a new Scandinavian-style haven for egalitarianism, inclusiveness, clean energy, world peace and all the other things implicitly repudiated by the gimlet-eyed Tory bampots?"
Lots to chew over on voting day.
Politically this is a lefty operation with a dose of deep brain territoriality.
The upside would be Tories ascendant in Westminster.
Not that we love them so much.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Cameron Eloquent For A United Kingdom

This is leadership, Cameron's plea to save the UK puts himself second and Scots first.
"So this is our message to the people of Scotland. We want you to stay. Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay. Please: don’t mix up the temporary and the permanent.
"Don’t think: I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back.  "If you don’t like me – I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this Government – it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever".

Is no one coming to Obama's party? UN Climate Theatre Flopping

Obama is to address the UN September 23rd to save the world from climate.  Embarrassingly, "Thanks but no thanks" notes are piling up from world leaders.
As reported by "Watts Up With That":

The Canadian PM sends his regrets.
The presidents of both China and of India
  couldn't clear their calendars.
The Australian PM had a previous commitment.
The German president is taking a rain cheque.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Scottish referendum with surprise consequences.

My accountant son, visiting from Scotland, had a couple observations about the referendum that surprised me.

Pensions after a separation will be a net positive because Scots die on average younger than other Brits.  Not all payroll deductions for pensions will have to be paid out or else Scotland can afford to keep the retirement age at 65 while the rest of the island goes to 67.

Another surprise is university education.  "Uni" is free for all Scots and this was extended to all EU students but with one big exception.  The English don't get it.  If there is separation, the English will then become full-status EU and a flood of students will have to be admitted free to Scottish universities. Don't expect that one to fly.

There are more than 200 national bodies that will have to have their databases divorced. This is the equivalent of Y2K for accountants, potentially an enormous windfall.

Bickering between England and Scotland is nothing new:

Don't forget  verse five of God Save the Queen:
"May he sedition hush
And like a torrent rush
Rebellious Scots to Crush (Battle of Culloden)
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God Save the King."

And up past Hadrian's wall that was built to keep the barbarians at bay, they like to sing "The Flower of Scotland" at sporting events for an anthem:
"But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,
That stood against him,
Proud Edward's Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again."

  (The Battle of Bannockburn was exactly 700 years ago in 1314, when Robert Bruce sent King Edward II packing.)  As I mentioned once earlier, my dear,late, and gentle grandmother from Nairn harboured hard feelings towards the English and the allegedly traitorous Campbells who drove Bonnie Prince Charlie away. That too was centuries ago.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you.

Head chopping barbarians remind me what real enemies do.  Fake enemies  disagree about cupcakes in school lunches and pipeline rights-of-way, stuff like that.  "While it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not our's.   The quote below is borrowed from Instapundit from Harris's "Civiilization And Its Enemies":

"Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.
They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.
The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours".

And for dessert, this thought from Ace of Spades HQ:.
Do the world's Muslims want their contribution and legacy to the 21st century to be murder and rape?  That question does not call for collective punishment. However, it does leave open the question of whether or not Muslims should feel ashamed for the murderous impulses many of their coreligionists feel.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Obama the JV player

Powerline says Obama is the JV player who put on a big league sweater and thought he was Kobe Bryant.  Everybody is piling onto the dude in the president's chair.  Now it's original to find something true and praiseworthy about Barack.  I know of two.   He and his wife are sometimes courteous to the secret service guards.  (Not everybody is).   He quietly redirected attention to Pacific alliances in the last year when no crisis was in the news.
Dress up and be someone new.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Jack the Ripper: DNA Gotcha

DNA has almost certainly identified the killer.  In 2007, Russell Edwards bought a bloodied auctioned shawl taken from one of the Ripper's victims and had it scanned for DNA.  The shawl was more expensive than Catherine Eddowes probably could have afforded and raised the possibility that the killer had handled it.  

The unfortunate Ms Eddowes left 126 year old traces but so did Aaron Kosminski, the chief original suspect.  The researchers went to descendents of  Eddowes and Kosminski and found a perfect match for both.  The little lights came on with the Kosminski genes, blinking at the 95% confidence level.  This could collapse an entire publishing industry.
The story broke first at The Daily Mail.

Frequent strikes pave the Dodo road. Hello BCTF

You can predict teacher's unions will be left behind by history because of their strike behaviour.
From comments at smalldeadanimals.com, Big Momma writes:
"It has been my observation over the years, that when a group starts to strike often, then that profession is going the way of the dinosaur. Drywall was invented in the late 50's because of all the strikes by the plasterers - anyone can install drywall (a bit more skill is needed to install on ceilings). Again, there were many strikes by the milkmen in the early 60's - we now buy our eggs and milk in the grocery store, no more home deliveries.
The teachers in the public school seem to strike ever 3 or 4 years in all of the provinces. It is my belief that more parents will be sending their children to private or charter schools and sucking up the extra expense, so that they will not have to deal with this nonsense and be held to ransom all the time. OT, I also think that Canada Post will be a much smaller presence in 10 years, again because of all the strikes. With the last strike in 2012, I had all my bills delivered on-line and I pay them on-line. Enough with all this nonsense!"

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A-bomb in Hicksville looking good to Putin

Putin's appealing choice is to drop a nuclear bomb in a strategic Hicksville where NATO will take less note.    Last week he said:"Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words." Fifteen days earlier, on Aug. 14, at a conference in Yalta, the Russian president had told the assembled factions of the State Duma that he soon planned to "surprise the West with our new developments in offensive nuclear weapons about which we do not talk yet.

Foreignpolicy.com spells out the choice. Call it quits in Ukraine and look weak.  Go for broke and be beat when the big powers pitch in.  Or gain empire and win Russian popularity by throwing a bomb in some backwater where the powers dither about the provocation.  How about a nice little plebiscite in a corner of Estonia to join Mother Russia?  Do you think NATO or the US would step up to the plate if the battlefield was small enough and far enough away from Washington, London and Paris?

Estonia is no Hicksville but to snobs in the financial capitals, it doesn't rate.

Smart mirror on the wall makes you fairest of all.

Panasonic has a digital mirror that figures where you are and reflects you back with different eyebrows and sparkle and eye shadow.   If it came with sideburn and moustache options, or even just hair on top, I'd take a look.  Found at Engadget.

Why are people so clean?

Why are so many people clean?  They shower, deodorize and add scents.  It wasn't always so. I think the reason is to conceal information about ourselves.   Most of us now live in cities and complexly interact with strangers.  We don't want them to know what the pores and glands on our body  advertise about sexual status, how hard we exert ourselves and the food we have access to. (Think farts).  We hide our stools (flushing is the modern way).
We now spend a lot of time inside the territories of strangers and much less in our own.   We don't just let our hair down at home.  We make loud noises in the bathroom, overlook some smelly armpits and burps and don't mind if there are lingering smells in the bedroom of sexual activity or the presence of a testosterone-smelling male.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Americans will choose a re-run to put Barack behind them. Secret Service has the character scoop on Matt and Hillary

Who would you pick as a decent human being?
Excerpted from Kessler's The First Family Detail.


When in public, Hillarysmiles and acts graciously.  As soon as the cameras are gone, her angry personality, nastiness, and imperiousness become evident. In front of the lights, she turns it on, and when .. she’s away from the lights, she’s a totally different person,.  She’s very angry and sarcastic and is very hard on her staff. 
“If Hillary was walking down a hall, you were supposed to hide behind drapes."  Hillary never talked to us.  Most all members of first families would talk to us and smile.  She never did that. 
    Hillary’s Senate campaign staff planned a visit to a 4-H Club in diary farm country in upstate New York.  As they approached the outdoor event and she saw people dressed in jeans and surrounded by cows, Hillary flew into a rage.  “She turned to a staffer and said, ‘what the f- did we come here for?  There’s no money here’.
   (Chelsea was always very nice to the agents.)


The fifteen Secrert Service agents on Romney’s 
detail found that the Romneys treated them like family..invited them to lunch and dinner (and) would kibitz with them…  One of the agents was in tears (when Romney conceded). The agents became part of the family.  The next morning, Ann Romney made buttermilk pancakes which Mitt served them on paper plates in their vehicles.

(He was mocked for putting the family dog in the car top carrier while packing the car full with his wife and four sons.  I love him for it.)

The book is worth reading for the character summary of presidents and vice presidents and hopefuls. A lot of rude people and a few nice ones. Adultery was popular but not with all of them.

Added:  I think, then you get Mitt Romney against someone like a Cruz, or someone like that, and I think that would be the finals. And I think that Mitt has got it in his heart to do this thing." "The only cure for presidential fever is embalming fluid. I think he's going to run," Buchanan said to host John McLaughlin.

Laniakea supercluster reveals hidden shape in the universe. Mind blowing animation.

100,000 galaxies look like a bit of dandelion fluff or a sea anemone on megaparsec scale. Embedded in this one YouTube video are all the photos and animations you have seen on the web.                    

0:26    Data points
0.33    Laniakea revealed
0:50    Lacy structure of thousands of galactic clumps
1:28    Emerging 3D model with in and out flows
1:56    3D flow identifying the Great Attractor
Pictures below snapped from the video.

ISIS morphing to "cool".

"Winning over the next generation of jihadis" reports the Clarion Project. "Soon Al Qaeda will become known as 'your father's terrorist group' ".  The ISIS propaganda team is embedded in the battle plan and  appeals to young rebels who want to look tough, kill and raise a stink for Allah.   Clarion Project quotes recruiting tweets that joke about "bring Krispy Kremes" and quitting the game "Call of Duty" to answer the real call of duty. The appeal is not to robed exiles who sit in a cave reciting the Quran. It is to rapping young muslims who see no better future.  They wants guns and money and fear. And in their rebellion, approval from a higher source.

This won't end well.

This goes beyond politics.  Try to change human nature. The quotes below are lifted from Wikipedia.

"We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self control." -- attributed to an inscription in an Ancient Egyptian tomb, quoted in Buckminster Fuller's I Seem To Be a Verb

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words  (Hesiod)

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. (From Aristophanes)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Advice to MIA Obama: Decapitate

Obama lacks more than a strategy, he doesn't even have an objective, as Krauthammer said.  My bloodthirsty advice is: Decapitate.  Do what Israel taught the Americans in Iraq, target the leaders of ISIS and take them out. "Decapitate" will send a nice little chill through the social media the jihadists read, it's easy to get your head around, and makes sense.  Their men who move money, set up logistic supply lines, produce scary recruiting videos, instruct bomb makers, and who have their finger on power, should perish.

Muslims Decapitate Franciscans Caught Preaching in Jerusalem

Make it personal.  It's kind of "limited" like the drone killings Obama okayed in Yemen and the millionaires he targeted in Russia after the Crimean invasion.  Just take a few more steps, Mr. Obama, and you'll have a policy.

It's complicated and involves many players who must pay a price, but America can clear the air by sounding the trumpet to do battle.

This is not an ashtray

"Ceci n'est pas une pipe" is a cerebral work of art.  The ashtray in my Honda CRV says it is not an ashtray and has a fuzzy liner.  It clearly IS an ashtray.

Friday, 22 August 2014

TIme for a little R & R --- Romney and Ryan sounds about right.

The US wants a break from foreign policy chaos and declines in jobs and net worth at home.  A little R & R after Obama sounds just right.   Ryan has a whiff of Tea Party and Matt has the "nil obstat" blessing of the GOP.  I think the American voters will find it easy to sign up for four years of R&R.

Ryan: I'd drive Romney's bus in 2016  (The Hill)

Plan B can be the best case: Pray for winners in the opposition parties.

Polling shows  Conservatives above 70% and below 15% depending which year and community you track.  Voters move but PC leaders and policy hardly budges.  The rightness of your cause does not settle the matter.  If you are lucky, you will be faced with second best in Ottawa. Third or fourth will sometimes be PM.  Pray that the wrong-headed, goofy parties will select the best candidates available, just in case.   You don't want to end up with an Obama.