Monday, July 30, 2007

Victory for Iraq!

My congratulations to all Iraqis on their magnificent victory in the Asian Cup. Omar at Iraq the Model lays out a blissful scene:

Our players, tonight our heroes, learned that only with team work they had a chance to win. May our politicians learn from the players and from the fans who are painting a glorious image of unity and national pride, and let the terrorists know that nothing can kill the spirit of the sons of the immortal Tigris and Euphrates.

The fear is gone, the curfew is ignored, tonight Iraq knows only joy...


Water Vapor: Not a form of pollution

Water vapor is usually not thought of a form of pollution. In fact, it is a necessary part of the water cycle. When water vapor condenses into a suspension of water droplets, the puffy result is an often beautiful part of nature. However, conventional wisdom is less and less conventional. Don Surber reports:

The tax-exempt Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C., issued its annual list of the 50 dirtiest power plants in America. This is illustrated by a photo showing steam — water vapor — escaping from a cooling tower. Sigh.

Sigh indeed. However, not satisfied with simple error, the EIP decided go head over heels into error.

Bill Hobbs unloads on the rest of the report. It proves to be alarmist distortion and dedicated pessimism. He states the following about the water tower:

As for the water vapor image, that’s not surprising. Some years ago when the environmentalist groups in Nashville decided to target the city’s innovative trash-to-steam plant, which provided steam for heating and cooling about three dozen downtown buildings and also helped the city process its garbage, the local alt-weekly illustrated its attack stories on the project with ominous-looking pictures that also really just showed steam rising from the plant’s cooling tower even though they knew that’s what they were doing.

This is a bit like a certain liberal journalist inferring that milbloggers are afraid to serve their country, despite having interviewed one of them. (See Blackfive for more details. ) It's just completely and deliberately wrong.

The environmental movement has developed a strong streak of alarmism, which is great for fund raising, but not so great for actually discussing an issue. It's a bad idea to exaggerate or portray something deceptively. What is missing in all of this worry over a declining rate of emissions is the increasing energy demand and the requirement for a usable method of meeting said demand. As Mr. Hobbs says:

I’ll be impressed with the Environmental Integrity Project when they have the integrity to either endorse expanded nuclear power, or admit that they don’t have a viable replacement for all the coal-generated power they want to shut down.

Same here. What has made the environmental movement decide to limit it's alternatives to energy sources hat are laughably inefficient in terms of money, unable to be applied to much of the Earth, and are about as reliable as a stopped clock. I call them complementary energy sources, for like complementary medicine, they cannot replace actual base load power sources. You want a real alternative? Try splitting atoms.

Hat tip: Pajamas Media


Friday, July 20, 2007

On a lighter (than air) note

Λαστ Εξιλε
As a fan of airships of all shapes, sizes, and types, it was perhaps foreordained that I would like Last Exile. To say this anime features airships is an understatement. The only other transportation seen in the series is a horse and buggy. The story follows a pair of immensely likable air couriers throughout their adventures in a time of war. What's remarkable about the series is that it is extraordinarily unlike many animes I've seen. (This perhaps explains why I like it)

Most animes I've seen have a lot of sex, scanty clothing, etc (called fan service). A few feature over the top violence and gore. Others toss in excessive brooding and angst-filled heroes. Last Exile is almost something I could show to kids - a bit too much violence, certainly not enough to bother adults. The main hero is very upbeat and optimistic for 90% of the show. Music is also a high point, with only the theme song being a disappointment. The entire show strives to capture the era of steam and early biplanes, focusing on the WWI era. The DVDs are available, and it is worth a watch, especially if you would normally pass on anime.


Friday, July 13, 2007

How goes the battle?

This is probably the best summary of what the surge is trying to accomplish. Dr. Kilcullen is a State Department expert on counter-insurgency whose doctoral dissertation focused on the nature of insurgencies. He also is one of the architects of the current plan, and is thus supremely qualified to explain it.

For regular updates on progress in Iraq, I suggest Bill Roggio or Michael Yon


Al Qaeda Capitol Seized

Generally, when you take an enemy's capitol, you have seized the initiative and are winning the war. There are exceptions to this, of course: The USA had its capital burned and yet it achieved a stalemate in the War of 1812. Napoleon reached Moscow, and found it empty, the Russians having used scorched earth tactics. The key is to build on the success and expand on it.

In the Long War, I hardly thought we could take a capitol city of Al Qaeda. In fact, this has been used as an example of the difference between this war and others. Imagine my surprise when I read of a Hugh Hewitt interview of Michael Yon in which the self-proclaimed worldwide capitol of Al Qaeda was taken.

HH: Now Michael Yon, a lot of people don’t know the significance of Baquba. And so can you explain what peace in Baquba means for the larger war effort?

MY: Well, it’s huge, because al Qaeda had claimed Baquba as their capitol, their worldwide capitol. And you might recall one of the things that kind of upsets people about my reporting is I said Iraq was in a civil war, and I said that way back in February of 2005, and I continue to do so. But when I first wrote that, I was in Baquba, in 2005, and I spent two or three months here. And it was just total…you could see it, and you could see al Qaeda was trying to foment that civil war, because that’s their underlying strategy, is to do that. And so getting, fracturing al Qaeda here, and al Qaeda alienating so many Iraqis, it’s helping us to put a damper on the civil war.

This is a significant victory for the Coalition forces. Apparently, the Democratic party was busy talking about surrender while the military was planning to take control of the enemy capitol. As for Michael Yon's view of this attitude:

HH: Now yesterday, Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate that the surge has failed. Do you think there’s any factual basis for making that assertion, Michael Yon, from what you’ve seen in Iraq over the last many months?

MY: He’s wrong, he’s wrong. It has absolutely not failed, and in fact, I’m finally willing to say it in public. I feel like it’s starting to succeed. And you know, I’m kind of stretching a little bit, because we haven’t gone too far into it, but I can see it from my travels around, for instance, in Anbar and out here in Diyala Province as well. Baghdad’s still very problematic. But there’s other areas where you can clearly see that there is a positive effect. And the first and foremost thing we have to do is knock down al Qaeda. And with them alienating so many Iraqis, I mean, they’re almost doing it for us. I mean, yeah, it takes military might to finally like wipe them out of Baquba, but it’s working. I mean, I sense that the surge is working. Reid is just wrong.

Read it all. Michael Yon notes that this is certainly not the end of combat. The leadership of Al Qaeda is trying to emulate (unconsciously, of course) the survival of the American leadership in 1812. However, the irhabists have lost a lot of popular support, and they may find they have few safe havens left. The reference to a massacre is from Yon's dispatch entitled Bless the Beasts and Children, whose title comes from a movie and its theme song. You read more about some of the controversial things that he has reported in this dispatch.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Music Induced Hearing Loss

I noticed in the wikipedia article on Ted Nugent in myprevious post that he was nearly deaf in his left ear. Just because something sounds good doesn't mean it can't destroy your hearing. Hearing loss due to high sound levels can involve permanent damage to the nerve endings that respond to sound in the inner ear. This irreversibly distorts sound, especially high sounds around 4000 Hz. This isn't just limited to musician - a night at a concert can leave you with ringing ears and hearing loss. A better choice is to protect yourself.

Some the best hearing protection is also among the cheapest. The humble yellow foam plug is very useful for industrial settings. However, normal hearing protectors distort sounds when used. The problem comes from the acoustics of the outer ear. This article describes the idea. E-A-R, a major hearing protection company, makes a reasonably priced pair of flat attenuation ear plugs. The flat attenuation is like turning down the volume on a stereo - there is very little distortion. If you plan on going to a big concert, you may want to find a pair on the Internet.

Also, for those who are fond of firearms, they have a specially designed hearing protection system made for the military. It is designed to stop impulse noises like gunfire and explosions without compromising the ability to hear ambient sounds. Given how much noise to which someone in a firefight is exposed, I'd say they are a good idea.


Damn Hippies...

I've never been a fan of hippies, despite growing up listening to rock from the Sixties. I can admire the musical talent that went into "All you need is love" without believing in the silly philosophy it espouses. Ted Nugent was part of the music scene back then. Unlike many people, he was sober enough to remember what he calls the Summer of Drugs:

Forty years ago hordes of stoned, dirty, stinky hippies converged on San Francisco to "turn on, tune in, and drop out," which was the calling card of LSD proponent Timothy Leary. Turned off by the work ethic and productive American Dream values of their parents, hippies instead opted for a cowardly, irresponsible lifestyle of random sex, life-destroying drugs and mostly soulless rock music that flourished in San Francisco.

The Summer of Drugs climaxed with the Monterey Pop Festival which included some truly virtuoso musical talents such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, both of whom would be dead a couple of years later due to drug abuse. Other musical geniuses such as Jim Morrison and Mama Cass would also be dead due to drugs within a few short years. The bodies of chemical-infested, brain-dead liberal deniers continue to stack up like cordwood.

As a diehard musician, I terribly miss these very talented people who squandered God's gifts in favor of poison and the joke of hipness. I often wonder what musical peaks they could have climbed had they not gagged to death on their own vomit. Their choice of dope over quality of life, musical talent and meaningful relationships with loved ones can only be categorized as despicably selfish.

It's amazing that musicians manage to survive that decade. I wonder how much they really relied on the drugs for inspiration. What could Jimi Hendrix have done had he stayed sober? He had a talent with the electric guitar that was extraordinary. Think about the continuous use of drugs in the modern music scene. (Kurt Cocaine anyone?) How many good artists are going to bite the dust before this over? Say what you want, but I'm glad there are drugs which are illegal.

Clean and sober for 59 years, I am still rocking my brains out and approaching my 6,000th concert. Clean and sober is the real party.

Damn straight. Keep on rocking, Ted.