Saturday, August 17, 2002

How Governement Works

I thought this part of a Simpson's episode on last night was a perfect parable for how politicians think. Homer decides to go into the grease recycling business and spends several hours frying bacon which he gives to the dog and then pours the grease into cans.

At the Grease Recycling Plant:

Clerk: Four pounds of grease, that comes to 63 cents.
Homer: WooHoo!!
Bart: Dad, that bacon cost $27.
Homer: Yeh, but your mom paid for that.
Bart: But doesn't she get her money from you?
Homer: Yes, and I get my money from grease. What's the problem?

If you don't understand how this relates to government look here or here (note this has been removed from the congressional website which is why I am pointing to the cached version) or here or ... well you get the idea.

Friday, August 16, 2002

National Lampoon helps young Palestinian men decide whether to become martyrs or not. (via LGF)

U.S. Also Needs Invasion, Demolition, Military Housing Permits

Washington, D.C. ( — Already frustrated by seemingly endless delays, U.S. officials today conceded a confusing knot of new Iraqi regulations that require "non-resident aggressors" to obtain hundreds of federal and provincial pre-invasion permits and licenses will further postpone any attack on Saddam Hussein.
Article about the race to find the Higgs boson.
Previously we were blamed for droughts in Africa, now we're being blamed for floods in Europe. One wonders how anyone in the world dare oppose us considering how all-powerful we are.
Stephen Den Beste has a great post which describes an article he recently read regarding international politics in terms of what it's author calls transnational progressivism. Read the Den Beste piece and the original.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

These boys have a bright future as government bureaucrats:

"FOUR teenage boys spent 27 hours trapped in a loft, escaping only after realising that all they needed to do was pull the trapdoor rather than push it."
Castro asks the Cuban people for forgiveness for "the passing unpleasantness that it [his death] could cause them." So far no forgiveness for the extreme unpleasantness his life has caused them has been requested. (via Best of the Web)
Sacre Bleu! More European protectionism. France wants to deport foreign prostitutes because of complaints by longtime locals. Where's Jose Bove when you need him.
Size Matters

" British scientists have come up with an explanation for why most men are taller than women.

They say taller men are more sexually attractive and are more likely to father children.

Men, though, prefer shorter women, so the two sexes are unlikely ever to end up the same height over the course of evolution. " [more]

Since I'm 6'3" I couldn't agree more with the first point. My condolences to Megan McArdle and my 4 year old daughter who is off the charts heightwise for 5 year olds.
Isntapundit explains why his site gets no support from AARP. (via Instapundit)
Robert Muller offers some better ideas for airport security than the current keystone cops measures currently being employed. I am not sure I agree that we even need the measures he is suggesting. Once you have prevented the plane from being taken over (by arming pilots and placing them behind hardened doors for the duration of the trip) why do airplanes require any more security than anything else. Why is the threat of terrorists blowing up 10 planes simultaneously more horrifying than blowing up 10 malls or subway cars. I guess there is an assumption that in the case of an air explosion that everyone would be killed after the crash but malls and other crowded venues offer the choice of much larger body counts because, well, there are much larger counts of bodies.
Very cool Wired story about the development of an artificial vision system. (via Instapundit)

Beside me I can hear Weiland futzing with the computer. There's a sudden wash of light, like viewing the Star Wars jump to hyperspace through a waterfall.

"Can you see now?"

"Not really."

"Give it a minute, let yourself adjust."

"OK, I've got blobs and edges and motion."

Suddenly, things become clearer. What moments ago was attack of the Jell-O creatures has become doorways and faces.

"What happened?" I ask. "Did you up the resolution again?"

"No," says Weiland, "that's your brain learning to see."

It's a weird feeling, watching my brain reorganize itself, but that's exactly what's happening. Beside me the fuzzy edge of the counter becomes a strong line, and then the computer atop it snaps into place.

I take one last glance around. Weiland is still not visible. Then there is a subtle shift in color. A drizzle of gray firms up, and I can see the white plane of his forehead offset by the darkness of his hair.

I look around: door, desk, computer, person.

So this is what a miracle looks like.
Related to my post about excessive regulation is this piece from the WSJ:

"When the crew of the Nautilus, a whale-watching ship, spotted a mother humpback ensnared in rope last week, the first thing they thought of was helping the massive mammal. Bad call. It turns out it's illegal to help an endangered species without a federal permit.

That's the last thing skipper James Harkins and crew were worried about when "Sickle" -- nearly all of the humpbacks off Martha's Vineyard have names -- swam up to their boat. So the crew removed a 300-foot section of rope wrapped around her 65-foot dorsal fin.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to free her completely. And that, federal authorities say, is exactly why they should have left everything to the professionals. Captain and crew could still be prosecuted for violating the Endangered Species Act as well as the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, pending the results of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration investigation."
The predictive ability of journalists

From July 3, 2001 Washington Post On-Line

Laurel, Md.: I have a bunch of frequent flyer miles on USAirways. Do you recommend hurrying to use them?

Keith Alexander: This is a very popular question Laurel, Md. Frequent flier points are extremely important to travelers these days; almost as important as their bank accounts. I wouldn't recommend hurrying to use your points. If United does acquire US Airways, United has said it would honor US Airways frequent flier points. If United doesn't acquire the airline, US Airways won't go away anytime soon. Most analysts agree it would be at least 10 to 15 years before the airline winds up in a Chap. 11.
A very good piece by new blogger Jacob Bourne entitled "Why Do Anything" which addresses one of my pet peeves and one which I have posted about several times and that is the urge to answer every adverse event with massive legislative efforts. His piece mostly addresses the direct problems with trying to legislate away all risk, I would also like to point out the more insidious ones. The Federal Register is so large and contains so many obscure provisions that it is almost impossible to go through the day without violating several of them. While in practice this is currently mostly a non-issue, it does give the government an 'legal' excuse to harass you whenever it chooses. I hate to use a movie analogy since I've made fun of others for doing the same, but we've all seen the movie scenes where the cop trying to get info from some bartender or proprietor starts listing all of the regulatory violations he could be fined or jailed for: "Er, maybe I should check the green cards of your workers in the kitchen", "I can get the building inspector down to look at those cracks in the ceiling", etc... The threat implied is that there are an endless number of regulatory reasons to make the proprietors life a living hell if cooperation is not forthcoming. And I repeat it is almost impossible to avoid violating some regulation almost daily. Jonah Goldberg, I think, pointed out in a piece awhile ago that it is illegal to transport migratory birds or any parts of them, so if one of my daughters picks up a goose feather in the woods and carries it home she has violated federal law. If you drop your Coke can in with your rotten vegetables then you have violated a recycling regulation. I'm sure a random search through the register would find numerous examples of things you do in your everyday life that are illegal. And that doesn't even get into the 'serious' crimes like smoking an occasional joint that could get you serious time (that covers something like 50+% of the population). As I said most of this is a non-issue, because they can't possibly be enforced (which brings up what is the point of having unenforceable laws), except in specific cases where the government is looking to 'get' you for something else and if you're the sorry bastard in their sites, you're pretty much screwed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Robert Musil points to a preliminary report by FERC about Enron's notorious trading practices which has come to the conclusion that they had a negligable affect on California energy prices. So who will Gray Davis blame last year's fiasco on now? Clearer heads have always contended (and here) that California's energy woes were caused by a combination of deregulated wholesale pricing combined with price-controlled consumer pricing and a complete mismanagement of the deregulation process by the state.
A Professor of Political Science for 40 years has had a book on the Arab-Israeli conflict rejected simply because of the fact that he teaches at Hebrew University. The following passage comes from one of the editors from a leading academic publisher who rejected the book:

"Hi there, I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I just returned to the office from maternity leave and it's taking me a while to catch up. The project you mention below sounds promising, but I hesitate because of your friend's affiliation. Though I'm sure Prof Sharkansky is not a polemicist, the fact that he teaches at Hebrew University signals certain messages to readers I'd think. . . .I think when marketing a book on the Arab-Israeli crisis, the more non-partisan, objective the authorship, the better. Thanks for getting in touch, but I'm going to pass on this project. Best of luck to your friend."

The funny thing is that the book is titled Coping with Terror: An Israeli Perspective. So is he biased because he is an Israeli writing about the Israeli perspective??? Would they rather he be a Mormon from Utah giving the Israeli perspective?

Thanks to Counter Revolutionary for pointing this out.
Adding to the blog dissections of Adrian Hamilton's idiotic piece in the Independit is a very thoughtful piece by the CounterRevolutionary.
Rand Simberg explores what we may expect in the future from the overly advantaged.
P.J. O'Rourke is interviewed in the Atlantic.

"Libertarianism is a way of measuring how the government and other kinds of systems respect the individual. At the core of libertarianism is the idea that the individual is sacrosanct and that anything that's done contrary to the well-being of the individual needs some pretty serious justification. The burden of proof should always be on people who want to restrict the individual's liberty and responsibility.

That's different from conservatism. In its worse forms, conservatism is a matter of "I hate strangers and anything that's different." But in its better forms, conservatism simply says that the structures of society, both civil and political, religious and so on, are the result of a long series of trial-and-error experiments by millions of human beings, not only all over the world, but through time. And that you should toss out received wisdom only very carefully. Obviously there are some ideas that were around for centuries that were not good (slavery comes to mind). But when people have been doing something for a millennium or two, there is probably a reason. And you better be pretty careful before you just throw it out."
I was just asked if my previous post was implying that I thought that Thomas Friedman was wrong and that Islam is an "angry religion." While I'm not sure if I like the adjective, I think in essense though I have to agree (please note that I'm not saying anything about individual members of Islam, since there are both very liberally minded muslims and those that may Khomeini look like Keith Richards). Now this statement doesn't mean I want it eliminated or anything since there is always hope for salvation. If you looked at Christianity before 1500, I bet you could also describe it as a very angry religion. Between the Crusades and the Inquisition (let's begin) it was definitely not even close to being the religion of peace and love it claimed to be. So what changed Christianity so? The Reformation. The Reformation helped completely alter the character of Christianity. So much so that Christian countries are now the most tolerant of other people's religions in the world, when they used to be the least (they didn't even tolerate Protestants at first). Now I'm not sure exactly why this happened, maybe it was just that before the Reformation the leaders of the church felt they could get away with anything as they were the only Christian game in town (an our way or the highway attitude). But once there was free competition for the hearts, minds, and tithes of Christians, the leadership understood that differing opinions aren't necessarily bad. Or maybe the leaders of most of the leading churches felt they had to shift their message "to the center", like the politicians do, to acquire and retain membership. So basically what I'm saying is that Islam will likely cease to be an "angry religion" once they tolerate the Islamic version of Unitarians in their midst. Until that happens however, I'm not going to be too bullish on the prospects for peace and tolerance in the Middle East and surrounding areas.
If you read the Washington Post's piece on the McKinney contributions closely you will notice that they technically weren't necessarily lying when they were talking about Jewish support for Denise Majette (not that I'm really arguing with you John). Notice the different language used to describe the magnitude of the donations:

"Most of McKinney's money has come from non-district residents with Muslim or Arab surnames. Her Democratic challenger, former state judge Denise Majette, is heavily funded by Jews living outside Georgia."

Notice the word "most" to describe McKinney's out of state support and the word "heavily" used to describe Majette's. Heavily is, after all, a loose term. For someone in Northwestern China who makes less than $1 a day, a $1000 contribution to a campaign would constitute heavy support. Obviously the journalist who wrote the original article went to the Clinton School of Rhetoric ("It depends on what your definition of 'is' is").
A little diagram to help you follow the current financial scandals.
Also from Freecon comes this link to an NRO piece updating the appendix of "Free to Choose" showing the success of the 1928 Socialist Party platform in America.
Michael Wade at Freecon did a little investigation into the WaPo piece about Cynthia McKinney's contributions from out of district Muslim donors. In the WaPo article, the author states "Her Democratic challenger, former state judge Denise Majette, is heavily funded by Jews living outside Georgia." Curious about this, Wade decided to do some fact-checking and found that only 2.8% of Majette's contributions come from out of state, by four people and there is nothing obvious to indicate that those contributors are Jewish (one of them may be related to Majette, since they share a surname). (Thanks to Michael for his email pointing this out).
Air travel is getting worse by the day. Thank goodness I don't have to travel much for business, I pity the people who have to put up with the idiots at airline security and the bad airline service every few days, it's like a new circle in Dante's hell. Instapundit is encouraging folks to get their "Impeach Norm Mineta" bumperstickers. I have my own scale on how bad and tedious air travel has become: how many hours I am willing to drive to avoid taking a plane. At the end of the month my wife and I are going to Montreal for a long weekend, we have decided to drive the 6+ hour route instead of flying (drive down to JFK or Newark, go through the airport hassle, etc) or taking the train, which amazingly takes over 8 hours to get to Montreal. Amtrak proving that it should really just be left to disintegrate has completely squandered the opportunity in the past year to take huge business away from airlines by being even more incompetent than the airlines and FAA. The Washington/Boston corridor Acela is their only success, but I was not very impressed. For the almost $2 Billion spent they should have gotten a bigger speed improvement that 30-45 minutes. And the NYT reports today that Acela is being suspended because of cracks found. My wife who is going to visit friends in Michigan this weekend has also decided to do the 12 hour drive with a midway hotel stop rather than corral the kids into a plane. So our current airline repulsion index is 12+ hours. We are planning to fly to a family ski vacation planned for Lake Tahoe next February, so the index still has some room to expand.
Here is what Arafat's wealth could do if he actually cared about his people:

For $1.3 billion, 40,625 six-family dwellings could be built for PA residents ($32,000 per unit).

It could feed 3 million Palestinians for an entire year, and leave $892 million to be spent on 1,000 mobile intensive care units ($69,900 each), as well as funding for 10 hospitals, such as Gaza's Ahli Arab Hospital, for 10 years, leaving $585m. to fund other social projects such as:

Computerization of 10 hospitals at a cost of $4.57m.

The annual salaries of 10,000 medical employees ($4,200 each).

Hepatitis vaccinations for 3 million PA residents ($11.25 per injection).
Wow here is a surprise. If you raise cigarette taxes, more people buy them off of the Internet from low or no tax jurisdictions. Do you know that it is now actually cheaper to buy a hit of LSD or crack than it is to buy a pack of cigarettes in New York City? Does anyone else see some negative unintended consequences of sending the cost of cigarettes to the moon? If it becomes both easier and cheaper for kids to buy illicit drugs rather than legal drugs like cigarettes and alcohol, won't that increase the chances that illicit drug use goes up among kids? Put that in your pipe and smoke it Bloomberg.
Speaking of children's books, Joanne Jacobs points out an article in the LA Times musing over the "Cat in the Hat":

(Two very young children) have been left home alone by their mother who, with her trip "out of the house for the day," clearly is due for a visit from child protective services.

Suddenly, a huge and very weird stranger bursts through the door (imprudently left unlocked) and proceeds to ransack the house on the excuse that he's an expert in having fun. The children, though leery of the cat, obviously have received no training in stranger safety because, as the boy narrator explains, they "did not know what to say." The children make no move to call 911, and the cat breezily overcomes any objections by assuring them their mother won't mind at all. Only the family goldfish proclaims that the cat belongs out of the house while the mother is gone, but the killjoy is roundly ignored.

Joanne also had some nice things to say about this site, although she only mentioned Max by name. (Those Jacobs stick together).
Of course it's the French who are going to finance the latest piece of crapola from Michael Moore.
Further evidence that American Jews murdered in Israel don't seem to matter to the powers that be:

Charleston, S.C., chef Stephen Bennett, 22, a cousin of Hebrew University victim Marla Bennett, yesterday sent a bitter letter to the president -- a copy of which he faxed to us -- in which he recounted her funeral in San Diego and added: "I am writing you ... to express how disappointed and frustrated I am with the way you ... have handled this situation. My Aunt Linda, Uncle Michael and cousin Lisa Bennett are heartbroken. ... There should have been some kind of communication of condolence from you, the president." Bennett added: "The 9 miners who were trapped underground for 72 hours were rescued. ... A few days later you went to their celebration party. ... My cousin was murdered and you didn't even make a phone call or write a letter to her family."
Here is a relatively good (but not great) Thomas Friedman piece in the New York Times whose main point is that if the muslim world were as democratic as India, we would have relative peace in the region. The only problem I have with the piece is that Thomas Friedman has decided he really wants to finish the piece with:

"People say Islam is an angry religion. I disagree. It's just that a lot of Muslims are angry, because they live under repressive regimes, with no rule of law, where women are not empowered and youth have no voice in their future. What is a religion but a mirror on your life?"

And in order to do so, he distorts history:

"No, India is not paradise. Just last February the Hindu nationalist B.J.P. government in the state of Gujarat stirred up a pogrom by Hindus against Muslims that left 600 Muslims, and dozens of Hindus, dead. It was a shameful incident, and in a country with 150 million Muslims — India has the largest Muslim minority in the world — it was explosive."

Unfortunately, in blaming the BJP, he completely ignores how the massacres actually started. They started with the massacre of 59 Hindu pilgrims by Muslims on a train in the town of Godhra. He makes it sound like the BJP agitated the populace out of nowhere, when that is far from the case. Talk about revisionist history. You would think he would decide to lie about an event that I can't just find out about in five minutes using the trusty Internet. So Tom, why did those Muslims kill the Hindu pilgrims? According to you, there is Islamic terrorism because "they live under repressive regimes, with no rule of law, where women are not empowered and youth have no voice in their future." India is nothing like that so....
Parody of Palestinian propaganda advertising campaign (via Best of the Web)

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Here is the pot calling the kettle black. President Khatami of Iran is quoted as saying, "since Sept. 11, this administration (the US) has taken an angry approach to foreign policy." Isn't he leader of the same country which bankrolls the murderous terrorists in Hezbollah and calls the US the "great Satan"? What a hypocrite. I'm looking forward to the student/worker/anyone-who-wants-freedom revolution in Iran which ends with him and his associates being lined up against the wall. That would definitely help with my anger management.
A perfectly idiotic piece by Bill Thompson on why we need more control (preferably European) over the Internet so we can stop spreading those evil, hegemonic US ideas. Rottweiler dissects it line by line.
Remember the song "Beer is Good for You"? Well, a new study makes it look like it is.

"Dr. Kaplan says new evidence also suggests that beer, because of mechanisms that "are not all clearly understood," may help increase bone density, thus decreasing risk of fractures. And it also could raise by 10% to 20% the so-called "good cholesterol" levels in some people, thereby helping to ward off coronary-heart disease and related afflictions such as dementia. Beer, he adds, is also rich in B-vitamins and folates (a form of water-soluble B-vitamin found in green leafy vegetables), both of which help keep homocysteine blood levels in check. Homocysteine is a chemical that, in elevated amounts, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease."

I knew I was doing something right.
Arafat is somehow worth $1.3 billion. I'm sure it was through sound financial planning.
Lileks Moment

Awhile ago I posted a piece about the book "Pickles to Pittsburgh" which my kids like and I really don't mind but which annoys me with its implicit PC/leftist messages. Last night however I read to my girls a new book which I can recommend without reservations. Both of the girls laughed hysterically as did I. So rush right out and get your kids a copy of "Walter, the Farting Dog", filled with non-PC scatological humor which 4 and 5 year old's adore (their Monty Python loving father too). Educational too, now both girls know what the word 'flatulence' means.
At one point in the book, Walter is taken to the vet to help with his, er, problem. The picture shows the vet staring into the dog's butt. I ask the girls "Do you think it's a good idea to be looking so closely at the butt of a farting dog?" Gales of laughter with shouts of "No!!!". Great fun for everyone.
The world really is filled with complete idiots. The El Paso police department refused to reinstate officer Christine Lynn O'Kane after she resigned to take care of her ailing mother because her name tag and email id was C.O'Kane.

"In reading the (e-mail) header, it is clear that the intention was to refer to the drug cocaine," states an April 2, 2001, e-mail from Assistant Police Chief Richard Wiles to the department's personnel director.

It later continues: "It placed the department in a position of being subjected to public ridicule and disrespect."

Well, no, filling the personnel department with a collection of complete morons subjected them to ridicule and disrespect.

She appealed to the Civil Service Commission who supported her position. She was rehired last September but changed to using her maiden name Whitaker.
(Full Story)
Here is another article on the scandal brewing on the funding of Cynthia Mckinney's campaign for Congress by terrorist supporting organizations.
Here is some good news. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared: ''A deepening Catholic appreciation of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, together with a recognition of a divinely-given mission to Jews to witness to God's faithful love, lead to the conclusion that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church." So from the U.S. Catholic churches point of view, Jews no longer have to convert to be "saved". Finally. It only took two thousand years. Looks like your humble narrator just had his chances of going to hell reduced dramatically as Jews don't believe in hell and I won't go to hell, according to Catholic doctrine, simply for not being Christian. Now where is that bacon cheeseburger?
Mark Steyn discusses new airport security measures:

"I wasn't surprised to hear that airport security at Los Angeles had seized from a British granny the 2in toy rifle of a GI Joe action doll she'd bought for her grandson. Nor by the news that a Long Island woman boarding at JFK had been made to drink bottles of her own breast milk in front of other passengers to prove it wasn't a dangerous liquid.

Here at the US Transportation Security Administration, we regard these as important victories in the war against terrorism. Whether these two suspects are, indeed, the world's most wanted terrorist masterminds - where's my secretary's Post-It note? Ah, yes, here we are … Whether these two suspects are indeed the notorious Osama bin Lactate and Mullah Old Ma, it's too early to say, but we do know that it would have been all too easy to insert a toy miniature rifle in the top of the rubber nipple of a baby bottle, give it a surreptitious squeeze and send the plastic projectile flying into the aisle to give the stewardess a nasty nick in her pantyhose. The day that happens you'll know we're not doing our job."
P.J. O'Rourke in the current Atlantic on the growing spate of pointless protest marches:

" And on the Ellipse, behind the White House, the U.S. war on terrorism and Israel's West Bank incursions were being denounced by ANSWER. Act Now to Stop War and End Racism is a group that awes any fan of acronyms. I was distracted from covering their event by an urge to scribble in my reporter's notebook, trying for a one-up: Quotidian Undergraduates Eagerly Supporting Terrorist Internment On Neptune.
According to The Washington Post for Sunday, April 21, "Organizers at the march privately urged their participants to strike swastikas from their posters." They didn't comply. but many of the protest signs had the swastikas turned backward, perhaps in an effort to soften the Nazi reference: = SHARON = . Thus some placards could be construed to mean "American Indian decorative motif = the Prime Minister of Israel = Hindu good-luck charm." Jews were in the crowd, JEWS FOR PEACE, read one sign. JEWS SAY NO TO ISRAELI STATE TERROR, read another. A chant went up nearby: "Two, four, six, eight, Israel is a racist state." Diverse advocacies mixed in the crowd. THE RICH MUST SHARE, DOWN WITH CORPORATE CAPITALISM, DESTROY ALL BORDERS, and a giant cardboard turtle labeled MOBILIZE. Everyone got along fine. A young man carried a birch-bark mock-up of a television, captioned "How much of your life is lived through a screen?" Another young man, a representative of something called the Independent Media Center, pedaled through the march on a bicycle equipped with a homemade duct-tape-and-PVC-pipe rig that held a video camera. Messages ranged from the disprovable ("We Are All Palestinians") to the dumbfoundingly true ("Trees are not Terrorists" — although the day before in Washington a tree had blown over in a thunderstorm and killed a passenger in a van).

Some messages conveyed no sense: GIVE ME FREEDOM OR GIVE ME PALESTINE. Some conveyed too much: PRO PALESTINIAN AND PRO ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. Some messages were open to interpretation. A young woman carried a picture of herself smiling broadly and embracing a large, happy mutt. Written beneath was "My dog has more rights than Palestinians."
Max found campus feminists to interview. One admitted that the Taliban's treatment of women was terrible and said the United States should have done something earlier, "in the name of women."

"Wouldn't that involve war?" Max asked.

"Yeah, it's a tricky one," the feminist said. "There might be some nonviolent approach such as micro-lending.""

Monday, August 12, 2002

Alien vs Predator. According to this interview it's official. Right on the heels of Jason vs Freddy.
And what could you use to process that much data? The Cell
Those DVD's getting too heavy to lug around. Here is a look at what could be one of the storage technologies of the future with a density equivalent to 7800 DVD's on a one-inch square:

"The researchers realized they had hit upon a mechanism for atomic memory when they discovered that scattering gold atoms on a silicon wafer caused the silicon atoms to assemble into tracks exactly five atoms wide. The pattern resembled the microstructure of a CD.

Making the tracks turned out to be relatively easy. "We can actually get atoms to assemble themselves... precisely, without any type of lithography," said Himpsel. "It is actually quite simple, and my graduate students make the surfaces routinely now," he said.

The breakthrough that made the prototype possible was working out a practical way to write data into the memory, Himpsel said. "In general, it is difficult to work with an individual atom in a controlled way, without affecting neighboring atoms," he said.
Writing atomic bits is impractically slow at present, but the work is a realistic analysis of bit stability, which is good, recording density, which is high, and readout speed, said First. It is "a very impressive demonstration of the practical limits of two-dimensional data storage using single-atom bits," he said."
A fine article in the Sunday Times about coincidence, statistics, disease clusters and conspiracies. Nothing really revelatory for anyone with even a moderate knowledge of statistics, but refreshing to see it in the Times whose writers frequently seem to have an amazing lack of even elementary statistical knowledge. Perhaps some of them will even read it.
Thomas Friedman's op-ed yesterday says that pressure from India's burgeoning IT industries were a major factor in bringing it back from the brink of war with Pakistan.

""That day," said Vivek Paul, vice chairman of Wipro, "I had a C.I.O. [chief information officer] from one of our big American clients send me an e-mail saying: `I am now spending a lot of time looking for alternative sources to India. I don't think you want me doing that, and I don't want to be doing it.' I immediately forwarded his letter to the Indian ambassador in Washington and told him to get it to the right person."

No wonder. For many global companies, "the main heart of their business is now supported here," said N. Krishnakumar, president of MindTree. "It can cause chaos if there is a disruption." While not trying to meddle in foreign affairs, he added, "what we explained to our government, through the Confederation of Indian Industry, is that providing a stable, predictable operating environment is now the key to India's development."

This was a real education for India's elderly leaders in New Delhi, but, officials conceded, they got the message: loose talk about war or nukes could be disastrous for India. This was reinforced by another new lobby: the information technology ministers who now exist in every Indian state to drum up business."
I passed the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Examination! Woohoo!!!! I think I'll make a bonfire made up of all my CFA books.
NY Times does another piece on blogging.

" It seems Orwell may have been underestimating contemporary society. If he had lived to surf the Internet, for example, he might have been cheered to discover a flourishing new breed of pamphleteer: the blogger. Like its ink-and-paper antecedent, blogging is quick and cheap. Anyone with access to a Web site can post a weblog (or blog) linking readers to other online sources and promoting all manner of original opinion — serious, scurrilous, seditious and otherwise."
I'll have mine with just a twist please

Thai politicians are debating whether inserting a slice of lemon into the vagina is an effective form of birth control.
Birth control crusader Senator Mechai Viravaidya supports the theory sperm will die if the vagina is soaked with lemon juice.
He believes the traditional practice of inserting a slice of lemon, or cotton soaked with freshly squeezed lemon juice, before sex will prevent pregnancy...
Here is a great piece in Reason by W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm titled "Off the Books: The Benefits of Free Enterprise that Economic Statistics Often Miss".
Nerd Alert 2
How to have your summer barbecue ready for grilling in under 10 seconds. Use liquid oxygen! Bad side-effect, it also vaporizes your grill. You can see how this is done here. (Scroll down to see stills or if you have a high-speed connection watch the complete mpeg).
Nerd Alert 1
Here is an essay on toilet paper algorithms. So are you officially considered a nerd by just posting this link?