October 18, 2006

Which Way the Rafts are Going

A few years ago, I heard a report on a study that found that some astonishingly high proportion of Americans did not wash their hands after using the bathroom. The study was done by observing people in public restrooms. But it turns out that the definition of "wash their hands" meant at least 15 seconds of "vigorous scrubbing" with soap. So someone who, say, washed their hands but didn't vigorously scrub them, was not counted as having washed their hands at all.

When people with an agenda want to put it across, they have to find a way that makes the idea — no matter how ludicrous or stupid; no matter how draconian or pointless (or both!) their proposed remedies — sound reasonable and appealing. This is true for everything from selling soap to selling political ideology. It used to be, in a more religious age, that the agenda-driven person would use religious arguments to push their agendas. (Indeed, that is exactly the way that the jihadis sell their nihilist arguments today in Muslim cultures.) Today, in the developed world, the equivalent of religion is "science."

I put "science" in quotes for a simple reason: very few people, even many scientists, do not understand science. Take, for example, the fact that Pluto exists. Well, for me, it's not a fact, it is a belief. I believe that the people who have looked through their telescopes and seen Pluto, and who have reported on it, are not lying en masse, particularly when combined with the people who have reported their measurements of the motions of the planets as observed and as predicted by the theory of gravity and Kepler's theories of orbital motion. I myself, though, have never seen Pluto, nor do I know enough at present to duplicate the measurements of planetary motion for myself. Similarly, I have only faith to go on when I read of the distance of various stars from the Sun and their size and heat, or planets around those distant stars, or that hydrogen and oxygen bond to form water. I have enough experience with the very basic science that led to those conclusions that I can trust them, but I cannot duplicate the evidence leading to those conclusions with what I know today and what I have today. I have faith that I could do so with time, equipment, and the will to do so.

Indeed, the very basis of science is an act of faith: faith that the natural laws we observe do not vary with time or place; faith that natural explanations exist for observed natural phenomena; faith that logic and reason can discover those explanations. Yet to most people, faith is anathema, to the extent that &mash; well, see the Richard Dawkins book I linked. In an interview on NPR recently, he came across as so lacking in humility — where humility seems to me the very basis of good science — so certain about his beliefs on how evolution leaves no room for gods in the Universe (and I think, really, that he only meant the Christian conception of God, given how he was talking), that I suspect he has somehow forgotten that science is inherently questionable if it is worth anything at all. If science moves beyond question, as some global warming alarmists are trying to do, it is no longer science but faith — and not faith backed by reasoning and knowing the basics, but faith backed by "in an elegant world, in a world I'd like to live in, this would be true." That is certainly not science, whatever you might call it.

Even to those to whom faith is not anathema, most in the developed world still put huge amounts of trust in science. I do. You probably do. Science, and good engineering based on good science (the two are often confused, for some reason), has produced good results. Modern medicine, to pick just one area, is heavily dependent upon chemistry, double-blind studies, and statistical projection. But as we have all seen, bad studies and flawed statistical analysis, or badly-reported studies or analysis, can lead to all kinds of snake oil, from many of the dietary supplements to the recent Lancet study on "excess deaths" in Iraq since the invasion.

The Lancet study is the second in an apparent series designed and timed to influence US elections. But it is deeply flawed in so many and such obvious ways that its amazing that anyone takes it seriously. Well, ok, it's not amazing that those whose primary goal is to make the Iraq invasion seem a monstrous act take it seriously. But to take such obvious malarky seriously brings one's own credibility into immediate and serious question. Even Iraq Body Count, who are rabidly against the Iraq war and often inflate their own body counts by double counting and by conflating innocents with enemies, couldn't stomach the Lancet's study.

There is really a simple test for this kind of thing, though, an easy way to see if people are using "science" to lie to you. It's the test proposed by Bill Whittle: which way are the rafts headed? There is a saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is why it took so long for black holes to be accepted by most scientists: it took a long time for their evidence to be sufficient to match their claim. In the case of the Lancet study, can anyone doubt that, were their conclusions true, the media would be constantly harping on the piles of bodies around Iraq? Given the vicious and unrelenting attacks on the President over 60 or 100 civilian deaths over a weekend, does anyone doubt that such a large body count as the Lancet claims — even at their low-end figure — would be front page news every single day? For that matter, if those body counts are true, does anyone seriously believe that US soldiers would not be screaming about it?

The evidence of our eyes and ears, as well as the tiniest shred of reason and logic, tells us that the rafts aren't heading to Cuba, and there have not been well over half a million Iraqis killed above and beyond the natural Iraqi death rate. To believe otherwise brands one as wilfully blind on the level of young Earth creationists. If that's what your faith requires, of course, that's your own business. Just don't be surprised when the only people who take you seriously are as nutty as you are.

Posted by jeff at 5:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 1, 2006

Good Advice

Rantingprofs says reminds us that It's That Time of Year Again:

When they say you're supposed to have 72 hours worth of supplies at home, they mean you're supposed to have, you know, 72 hours worth of supplies at home.

I suppose the best advice in hurricane areas is to get the hell out, though.

Posted by Nemo at 7:26 PM | TrackBack

May 7, 2006

Plan? What Plan?

On the front page of MSNBC today there is link to an article titled: "WP: Confident Democrats lay out House agenda".

Curious, I clicked on the link. The resulting page told me everything I needed to know about the Democrat's plan for the next few years:

View image

(The real article is here, BTW.)

Posted by Nemo at 12:03 PM | TrackBack

March 24, 2006

Juuusst a Bit Insane!

In case you missed it, I just wanted to direct your attention to one of the world's preeminent scholars, a renowned expert in the fields of demolitions, civil engineering, commercial aircraft recognition and operation, and Secret Service tactics - Charlie Sheen.

Posted by Brian at 10:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bunnies, and Eggs, and Easter, Oh My!

So, in St. Paul someone's apparently worried that an Easter display at City Hall may offend non-Christians.

Maybe we should ask Jeff if he finds bunnies and eggs offensive to his Pagan beliefs.

Posted by Brian at 10:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 20, 2006

The Good News is...

Ethiopia's drought will be ending soon, and permanently.

Posted by jeff at 10:50 PM | TrackBack

March 1, 2006

Simpsons More Popular Than Constitution

More know Simpsons than Constitution :

[The study] found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

Now, considering the audience on this blog, I doubt the same would hold true here. Personally, I could rattle off four of the five without any problem: speech, religion, press and assembly aren't a problem. It's the redress of grievances that always gets me.

On the Simpsons, I think I've watched the show maybe a couple of dozen times is all, but I'll give it a go: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

Pop culture wins out over civics most days.

Posted by Nemo at 9:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

A Few Brutal Truths

Britain has socialized medicine — the fabled and much hoped-for (by socialists and ultra-Leftists mostly) — single-payer system we keep hearing about. [Slightly off-topic yet somehow related: I heard a guy on the radio the other day saying that the problem with our health care system is that we don't pay enough; so his plan is to make health care so expensive that we'll beg the government to take it over!] And in Britain, the state has decided that a mentally-retarded baby's life is not worth living: that her fragile health, in essence, will cost the government so much money that it's best to let her die rather than trying to save her if she needs medical intervention, while other children with similar viruses but not retarded would get treated. In other words, the state has decided, over the objections of the baby's parents, that their baby's life is not worthwhile. (For, apparently, her own good!)

Now, there are a few brutal truths about this situation. The first is that the state's action here is so egregiously immoral that I cannot find words to describe it. Obviously, all healthcare is rationed, either by government action or by ability to pay (although in the US system, it is generally the case that ability to pay is not a barrier to world-class treatment if the illness is not chronic): all things that are demanded and are in limited supply will be assigned by some priority scheme; that is unavoidable. Yet the government has, by taking over health care decisions, decided that it has the sole responsibility and privilege of deciding whose life is worth living, and I cannot imagine a scarier thought than that power in politicians' hands.

The second is that the parents are likely partially to blame for this situation, and I am not referring to the genetic situation. Let me transfer this to myself, because I really don't mean to be critical of Charlotte's parents, who are in a heartbreaking situation. If the state were to say that my child's life would not be saved by medical treatments, I would begin by leaving the country for a place where my child could get care. Were I prevented from doing so, or financially unable to do so, and were I unable to get relief through the political system, I would make an appeal for funds and try to get private treatment. In extremis, if all else failed, I would gather my truest friends and sufficient weaponry, go to the hospital, and ensure by force that my child was appropriately treated. After which, I would lay down my weapons, surrender meekly, and would explain how I blackmailed my friends, so they were not responsible for what they did. My child's life is worth the jail time.

And that said, if the parents in this case would like to come to the US, and get appropriate treatment for their child here, I would be more than willing to contribute to the cause, and to ask others to do so as well. Obviously, the Wyatts love their children, and want the best for them. The problem here is that the governmental system they live under, by choice, is flawed, and will not save their child. I hope they make the right choices, and I hope the situation turns out well for them.

(hat tip: WizBang)

Posted by jeff at 8:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

Killing the Business

If you have stock in H&R Block, sell now. Otherwise, sell short. Not because of the restated earnings, but because the way this is being reported (with mock and irony) will cancel out years of advertising.

(hat tip: Instapundit)

Posted by jeff at 9:14 AM | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

This Would Not Happen at a Home Birth

Via Q and O, we have the story of a woman who went to the hospital to have a baby, and ended up with both arms and legs amputated. Now, that's bad enough, but understandable: she had complications after delivery, and apparently developed a strep infection (which can in some cases lead to a disease that literally rots flesh away).

No, the tragedy, the absolute I-cannot-understand-this-balls-on-effrontery of the situation is that the hospital will not tell the woman what happened because it might violate other patients' privacy! Think about that for a second. They refuse even to say something like, "another patient in the same area had strep and it spread to you via (method) and that caused..." No, not even that. Just: oh, well, we aren't going to tell you how you ended up a multiple amputee.

I don't much believe in punitive lawsuits, because their abuse is a drag on our social fabric as well as our economy. But this is the kind of case that makes me reluctant to outlaw punitive lawsuits and stratospheric damage awards, because this behavior is so arrogant that you know that the hospital will do this again. Are they covering up bad sanitation practices? Employee misconduct? A careless mistake? Or do they just think that they are gods, and unanswerable to the little peons who they deign to allow to enter their doors?

If you can't tell, I'm really annoyed whenever I see people act this way. It is unforgivable, inexcusable and disgusting.

Posted by jeff at 9:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 9, 2006

Vince Young to go Pro

And Sooner fans everywhere will get better sleep:

Young says so long, Longhorns, hello NFL

He played an amazing game against USC. Some are predicting he will be among the first of many next-generation quarterbacks in the NFL. Maybe so, but they said the same thing about Vick and other strong, mobile QBs, and so far the pro game is still dominated by the drop-back passer.

Posted by Nemo at 9:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Angel of the Beach

Here's a neat story about one young girl saving people in the tsunami last year:

Helpful Homework

A French children's magazine has named its "Child of the Year," an 11-year-old British girl now dubbed "the Angel of the Beach," who saved hundreds of lives during last year's tsunami in Southeast Asia. Tilly Smith had studied tsunamis in her geography class two weeks before taking a Christmas holiday to Thailand.
During a walk on Phuket island beach, she spotted bubbling water and what she called "foam sizzling just like in a frying pan." She recognized them as tsunami warning signs and told her parents, who alerted hotel staff. The beach was evacuated minutes before the giant wave crashed ashore and was one of the few on the island where no one was killed.

Way to go, Tilly!

Posted by Nemo at 7:37 AM | TrackBack

December 24, 2005

Spying or Pattern Recognition

NSA spy program broader than Bush admitted

Government and industry officials with knowledge of the program told the newspaper the NSA sought to analyze communications patterns to gather clues from details like who is calling whom, how long a phone call lasts and what time of day it is made, as well as the origins and destinations of phone calls and e-mail messages.
Calls to and from Afghanistan were of particular interest to the NSA, the Times said. This so-called "pattern analysis" on calls within the United States would often otherwise require a warrant if the government wanted to trace who calls whom.

Notice the last part of that phrase: it would "require a warrant if the government wanted to trace who calls whom."

So, basically, this is a large data mining operation. Rather than individual, random searches (almost useless), or general racial profiling (statistically better, but still not necessarily effective), they use broad sampling to look for anomalies - and none of it's court-admissable.

The more I read about this, the less of a problem I have with it. Does it still concern me? Some. It's hard to get enough detail (imagine that from a top-secret program) to really get a handle on it.

If this is an accurate portrayal of what's been happening, they are not spying on an individual, they are trying to pick up on clues and patterns that might otherwise be seen as background noise. Think of the ultraviolet astronomical pictures as example of this in the scientific world.

More and more this seems like good intelligence work.

Posted by Nemo at 7:51 AM | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

Jail for Union Leaders?

Transit Strike Into 2nd Day; Stakes Climb

As New York City plunged into Day 2 of the transit strike, the stakes for those on the picket line, businesses and riders spiraled upward yesterday: Gov. George E. Pataki said that there would be no negotiations until the strikers return to work; a judge raised the possibility of sending union leaders to jail; businesses languished and weary New Yorkers grappled with the harsh realities of life without buses or subways.

Personally, I hope the judge throws Toussaint in jail and doesn't schedule a bail hearing until next week. Toussaint deliberately called this (illegal) strike around the holidays to put maximum pressure on the city. I think it would be poetic justice if the judge were to put the union leaders in jail over Christmas to return the favor.

Update: I guess the threat of jail was too much for them: Transit Union Take Steps to Go Back to Work

Posted by Nemo at 8:04 AM | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

You Call This A Poll?

FOX News Poll: Santa Will Rate Bush As 'Naughty'

It must be a slow news day over at Fox. They polled 900 people to ask whether President Bush was "naughty" or "nice".

I wonder if they wished them a "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" after conducting the poll.

Posted by Nemo at 11:58 PM | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

PJ Shopping

MSNBC is reporting that Malls full, but sales not spectacular

Retailers remained anxious Sunday, after the last full weekend of shopping before Christmas appeared robust but not spectacular, despite generous bargains for many goods.

They didn't bother to profile the online shopping for this article, but I can't help but think it has an impact. We have been steadily increasing our online shopping for the holidays for years. This year, I'd estimate that 80% or better of our shopping was through Amazon.com. A little early planning, a couple of hours spent with a mouse and computer screen and we were just about done. We have only one gift left to buy, but that will be easy enough.

As for time spent at the mall, I think we've been in a traditional mall twice the entire season. I think we picked up two gifts that way. A couple of others have come from Walgreen's or Best Buy.

Lastly, on money. I think we spent a bit less this year than last, but that's because one of our main groups went from the traditional one gift per person to the "White Elephant" gift party. Discounting that, we spent about the same as usual.

If malls expect to compete, they will have to find a way to make it easier - maybe a mall portal like Amazon where you find what's available at the local stores. Otherwise, the premium people are placing on time makes a huge difference when shopping in malls vs. online.

Posted by Nemo at 2:29 PM | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

Have you heard of ...

Albert Owens?
Yen-I Yang?
Thsai-Shaic Yang?
Yee Chen Lin?

or,

Wesley Baker?
Kenneth Lee Boyd?
Shawn Humphries?

or,

Donald Beardslee?

Have you heard of Stanley "Tookie" Williams?

My guess is that only that last name will be known to most people. If you follow the news, you can't help but have heard about Tookie Williams' impending execution. Why? Why has this execution received so much coverage? I guess the fact that Williams was a founder of the Crips plays a part, but that fact really seems overshadowed by the celebrity support Williams is receiving, thus becoming a celebrity himself. Regardless of one's stance on capital punishment, I don't see why Williams is a big deal, but the other names go unnoticed.

Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Thsai-Shaic Yang, and Yee Chen Lin were Tookie Williams' victims. They go unmentioned by name in most of the coverage of this execution. Reuters most recent story on Yahoo! about the execution curiosly only uses Owens' name.

Wesley Baker, Kenneth Lee Boyd, and Shawn Humphries have all already been executed this month. They didn't get the kind of coverage and support of Tookie. Only Humphries made much of a blip and that was only for a number - 1000. His name, if ever known, has already been forgotten.

Donald Beardslee was the last person executed in California, back in January. I don't remember all this outpouring of support for stopping his execution.

I come back to the question of why? Why do the media tend to ignore the real victims and instead portray the killers as the victims? Why do the media largely ignore most executions? Why do Hollywood types, black celebrities, and so-called black leaders support saving Tookie Williams life, but ignore others like Donald Beardslee?

Posted by Brian at 11:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

Hopefully the last on Joel Hinrichs

Jeff and I have both commented on Joel Hinrichs, the University of Oklahoma student who killed himself outside the packed football stadium. The FBI has finally unsealed their records on the subject. It's plain he intended to kill himself, but the possibility of his being a suicide bomber is inconclusive. As I said originally, there's no reason to believe he was anything other than young man commiting suicide in a dramatic fashion. I had hoped they would have totally cleared up the "suicide bomber" notion, just because of the conspiracy nuts out there, but at least the information is now out there for everyone to see.

New details emerged Friday when U.S. Magistrate Valerie Couch made public the records on the FBI search of Hinrichs' apartment, his e-mail account and nine OU computers.

Federal prosecutors told the magistrate "there is no longer any necessity" for the documents to remain sealed.

FBI officials have said in the past that the probe did not uncover any links between the student and terrorist organizations. They have said they may never know whether the student wanted to get inside the stadium.

...

During the search of Hinrichs' apartment after the blast, the FBI found the student's laptop computer was still on and had on the screen notes apparently written by Hinrichs to himself, the records show. At the cursor was a phrase that began with profanity and continued " ... all this. None of you are worth living with. You can all kiss my ass."

Posted by Nemo at 7:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hopefully the last on Joel Hinrichs

Jeff and I have both commented on Joel Hinrichs, the University of Oklahoma student who killed himself outside the packed football stadium. The FBI has finally unsealed their records on the subject. It's plain he intended to kill himself, but the possibility of his being a suicide bomber is inconclusive. As I said originally, there's no reason to believe he was anything other than young man commiting suicide in a dramatic fashion. I had hoped they would have totally cleared up the "suicide bomber" notion, just because of the conspiracy nuts out there, but at least the information is now out there for everyone to see.

New details emerged Friday when U.S. Magistrate Valerie Couch made public the records on the FBI search of Hinrichs' apartment, his e-mail account and nine OU computers.

Federal prosecutors told the magistrate "there is no longer any necessity" for the documents to remain sealed.

FBI officials have said in the past that the probe did not uncover any links between the student and terrorist organizations. They have said they may never know whether the student wanted to get inside the stadium.

...

During the search of Hinrichs' apartment after the blast, the FBI found the student's laptop computer was still on and had on the screen notes apparently written by Hinrichs to himself, the records show. At the cursor was a phrase that began with profanity and continued " ... all this. None of you are worth living with. You can all kiss my ass."

Posted by Nemo at 7:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

Public Humiliation

This is a rather interesting story. (hat tip: Drudge)

Frankly, I think humiliation may be a viable option in some circumstances. While it would take me some time to reach the level of taking this step, I applaud Tasha Henderson for caring enough about her daughter to do this. She's trying to help her daughter, not hurt her, and any humiliation felt now would be better than the life Mrs. Henderson obviously felt her daughter was heading for.

Posted by Brian at 11:28 PM | TrackBack

November 1, 2005

Important News You Probably Haven't Heard

The news media is terrible at reporting trends — in fact any development that extends past a single moment in time. The news media is also terrible at reporting anything that doesn't fit a story template they are already using (none of these templates tend to be favorable to Republicans). In combination, these two mean that many very important stories don't get widely reported, or only get reported in a form that misses the point entirely. So in an attempt to at least partially rectify that, here are three stories you probably haven't heard, but should have.

1. Paris is burning. There have been four nights of riots, in a suburb known as Clichy-sous-Bois [UPDATE: We're up to six nights, and the riots are now spreading], by young Muslims, after two young Muslim men were chased by police and were electrocuted when they vaulted a fence, and landed on a transformer. This is a larger problem than the riots themselves show, because Muslims in Europe are largely unassimilated, and the areas they live in tend to be no-go zones for police because of the violence (particularly the violence aimed at police and rescue workers). Strategy Page has more background. Most interesting, and most frightening, to me is that the long-term threat of a European civil war between Muslim immigrants and native Europeans seems to be growing more likely. With events like the murder of Theo van Gogh and the refusal of European leaders to take an unveiled look at the problems being created by public policy, the pressure relief valves for young Muslims will continue to be crime and radicalism. Not a recipe for civil peace, that.

2. The economy is booming. Growth has been positive since 4Q2001 — some four years now — and all but one of those quarters has exceeded 1% seasonally-adjusted GDP growth. For the last 10 quarters, GDP growth has been above 3% per quarter, seasonally adjusted. (That is to say, for the last 30 months, we have had consistently better than 3% GDP growth per quarter, which is a better economic performance than President Clinton ever presided over.) Meanwhile, interest rates are slowly rising and inflation is maintaining its remarkably low impact, as it has more or less done since the end of the Carter presidency. In other words, we are in the midst of a wonderful economic growth, and a resulting shrinkage in real poverty. But don't expect to hear that in the MSM, particularly as next year's campaigns for Senate and House start to get serious.

3. We are winning in Iraq. To make this point clear, I will posit a very unlikely scenario: the invasion and occupation of the continental United States by a foreign power, to free the vast majority from the oppression of the Catholics among us. (I used the Catholics only because they are not an insignificant part of the population in statistical terms, but are also quite the minority.) By using groups in American society and American geography, I hope to show how much progress we've made in Iraq.

Now imagine that immediately after the Catholic armies were driven from the field, and the government fled or were arrested, Catholic insurgents began to arm, and within a year were in full-scale uprising across the country, with the Catholic strongholds of Boston, New York and New Orleans in particularly violent uprising. Catholic supporters, pouring in from Europe and South America, brought particularly vicious methods of killing will them, as well as money and supplies. For that first year, the occupying troops could find hardly any people willing to enter the newly-created police force or army to face the Catholic terror gangs. Worse, any place not housing occupying troops was effectively under Catholic control, and the occupying troops were being attacked and killed daily in large numbers, while the full force of world press opinion was against the occupying troops.

Now imagine that the next year, the Catholic leadership in the United States had been captured or forced to flee the country, except for a few, that the non-Catholic police and army were being trained in large numbers, and that the occupying forces now effectively controlled everything except Massachusetts, southern Louisiana and the area within, say, 100 miles of New York City. Within those areas, attacks were still coming almost daily, but the country outside of those areas was quiet and beginning to for local and national governments and to talk about long-term self-rule. The Catholics, having failed to drive out the occupiers by attacking them, switched instead to attacking the newly forming police and government, in an attempt to ensure that the US stayed occupied, instead of becoming self-governing and non-Catholic. The international media, or course, continued to portray the occupation as a disaster, and the occupier as the reason why the police and government were being attacked, which of course the Catholics didn't do when they were in charge.

Imagine further that the year after that, a new non-Catholic government had been established, all of the country was pacified except for Manhattan (and even there the occupying forces were clearly in control), a Constitution had been agreed to, and the Catholics, having failed to stop the new government, were now concentrating on attacking civilians — even Catholic civilians — in order to keep things as chaotic as possible so that the Catholics could continue their operations as much as possible. The international media, meanwhile were saying that the occupation had failed utterly.

Now under that scenario, does it look like the occupation forces are winning or losing? They are continually expanding their ability to act, narrowing the Catholic ability to act, and standing up a government behind them so that it is not even necessary for them to act. Any reasonable measure says that the occupation forces are winning, except one: listening to the reports of the foreign media.

Given that this is a fairly good analogue to the situation in Iraq, the reality is that we are not only winning, but winning handily. But not if you listen to the media.

Posted by jeff at 2:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2005

Ummm..... Duh!!!

From Dare to Know comes this stunning scientific research result:

One of the longest and most detailed studies of UK childcare has concluded that young children who are looked after by their mothers do significantly better in developmental tests than those cared for in nurseries, by childminders or relatives.

The study on children from birth to three will reignite the controversy over the best way to bring up young children. It found babies and toddlers fared worst when they were given group nursery care. Those cared for by friends or grandparents or other relatives did a little better while those looked after by nannies or childminders were rated second only to those cared for by mothers.


In the immortal words of James Taranto, what would babies do without detailed studies?

I am a huge believer in the scientific method: it gives us a way to find new knowledge from prior discoveries and new observations, coupled with reason and testing. But I abhor the fetishization of science, and in particular the seeming need by some to do large, expensive studies on things that are well known through centuries of observation and noting of human behavior or the properties of the world around us. We don't need studies to tell us that the Sun is hot, though some careful observation and measurement can tell us how hot, and that can give us insights into properties of the Sun that are not directly observable, like its internal processes. But the whole reason that we need a study like this is because of all of the pseudo-scientific babble about the "right" way to raise your children and so forth.

Sometimes, it just takes a little common sense to find the right answer, and all the scientific approaches to problems that are not fundamentally ones of discovery amounts to rationalization of a profoundly inhuman "solution" that someone is eager to push. And if we would just stand back a moment and think, "Hey, babies are built to be with their moms", we could save a huge amount of effort and wasted lives. (Dr. Spock may have been responsible for more psychopaths than any other human.)

Posted by jeff at 9:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 7, 2005

Latest on the OU Bombing

According to newsok.com:

University spokeswoman Catherine Bishop said OU officials have reviewed their ticket records and determined that Hinrichs did not buy a football ticket from any university outlet.
She said university officials have heard nothing to indicate Hinrichs attempted to buy a ticket from one of the fans selling tickets outside the stadium.
The FBI has reviewed surveillance tapes taken by cameras around the stadium. OU President David Boren said Tuesday that, so far, agents have found nothing to indicate Hinrichs tried to enter.

This doesn't disprove the terror angle, but is reason to be patient and wait for more facts.

Posted by Brian at 1:33 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 1, 2005

Bombing at OU

Apparently someone decided to kill himself at OU by blowing himself up. My friends are up there now because they were at the ball game, but all is apparently well. Except, of course, for the bomber.

UPDATE: Much more at Flopping Aces. Also commenting: Wide Awake Cafe and Free Republic (though what I read of the Freeper thread wasn't particularly interesting or informative)

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has much more, including the saddest news of all for me: the decedent was a fraternity Brother of mine. No, I didn't know him. No, I don't have any "inside information". My heart goes out to Joe's family, and to my Brothers, and to Joe himself. FS&C

Joe Hinrichs
Posted by jeff at 9:51 PM | TrackBack

July 5, 2005

Rest In Peace Admiral Stockdale

Admiral James Stockdale passed away today at the age of 81.

Most people will remember Admiral Stockdale as Ross Perot's running mate in 1992. But they should also remember Admiral Stockdale for being the highest ranking Naval officer held as a POW during the Vietnam War, for surviving seven and a half years of brutal torture that left his body nearly broken for life, four years of that in solitary confinement, for severely wounding himself to prevent the North Vietnamese for using him as propaganda, for nearly killing himself to show his captors that he would never capitulate to torture, and for earning the Medal of Honor and four Silver Stars among his many citations.

I wish you fair winds and following seas Admiral.

JEFF ADDS: In 1992, I left OU to come to Dallas to be with Stephanie. I took a temp job while I was looking for real work, and the temp company immediately sent me to a phone bank that Ross Perot had established. This was just after Perot's appearance on Larry King, when Perot Systems' phone lines had been overwhelmed and they needed some way to handle the incoming calls. A day or two later, someone came into the room (Mike Poss maybe? I can't remember) and asked if anyone there had computer experience, as they needed to set up a database to track and categorize the calls, because their paper system was being overwhelmed. Since I had computer experience, I stepped up, and worked on first the call database, then later on the FEC reporting systems as a member of the Perot campaign's national staff. (Off topic: best moment was being told by the FEC that we were filing our reports too promptly and too completely for them to process.)

During the early days of the campaign - before it was a campaign, really, when Perot was just trying to find places to stick people, I ended up on the same floor as Perot's office, not far down the hall, for a few weeks. I only met Admiral Stockdale once, and that was before he was named as Perot's vice-presidential pick. He was a truly amazing man: intelligent, well-spoken, humble to a fault, and genuinely funny. I can see where his embarrassing debate performance came from - it's hard to be a real person in the midst of politicians, where truth is irrelevant and no man's honor or reputation is safe from the opposing vultures; how can an honest and humble man compete in a contest of first impressions with two men perfectly comfortable with lying and dissembling and slyly undermining because they honestly feel that it's their right to wield power over the rest of us?

The Admiral is a true American hero, and deserves all the glory and accolades that this nation can bestow upon its best. Wizbang has the MoH citation.

Posted by Brian at 9:56 PM | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

The Lost Liberty Hotel

That's the proposed name of the hotel in the application filed to take over and develop the land owned by David Souter.

One question, when can I book my reservation?

(hat tip: Drudge)

Posted by Brian at 10:12 PM | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Catching Up

I've been busy lately and haven't been posting much, so it's time to catch up. Here are a few links to articles a week or two old that are too good not to mention if you haven't seen them.

First we have this interesting article on the huge advancements made in combat medicine and how it's making "the battlefield in Iraq one of the most survivable in the history of warfare."

Then we have Mark Steyn's take on the Dick Durbin controversy. Yes, it's a week old, but Mark Steyn is always worth the read.

Lastly, we have this brief post with links to several other interesting links about anti-gun protesters who are violating gun laws themselves (including the shooting and paralyzing of an innocent man in a quest for vengeance).

Posted by Brian at 10:59 PM | TrackBack

June 2, 2005

"My Daughter is Worth 30 Pieces of Silver...

No, wait, I mean $120,000!"

WILMINGTON, Del. — A social worker who assisted sexually abused children was accused of striking a deal with her boyfriend in which she agreed not to reveal that he allegedly raped her 15-year-old daughter.

The woman had allegedly agreed not to report the incident if her live-in boyfriend paid her $1,000 a month for 10 years, authorities said.

Lovely...

Posted by Brian at 10:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

In case you missed it, here's a fascinating article on the power of the deadly tsunami-causing earthquake last December.

Posted by Brian at 11:42 PM | TrackBack

May 23, 2003

Killing Joy

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

I think that this - a story of kids burning down a playground - is terribly sad. There have been such incidents in this area as well, as recently as last year. I don't understand the mentality that leads someone to do this, because it is a very infantile reaction - wouldn't it be cool to see something this big burning? - and I was raised by adults to be an adult. It is one of the great mysteries in life why apparently well-meaning people would ever have come up with the idea of kids raising kids. I suppose they just didn't think of it that way. But that is what it is: you take a baby and put her in daycare, and there are maybe two adults around for most of her day (and they have no emotional attachment to her); you see her for a few hours each night, while you're trying to get her to bed so you can clean the house and maybe unwind from your own day, and for the weekends; then you put her in school with one adult and thirty kids her own age, and you see her less on weekends - and even week nights - because of soccer or band or whatever; and one day you find out that your little darling has become physically capable of burning down a playground and has all the moral restraint of a twelve year old who has never had any meaningful adult supervision (or, put another way, all the moral restraint of a bully with a gun in a land of rich rewards and no punishment). Where did it all go wrong, you say? How could this have happened?

My wife stays at home with the kids while I work, and I work from home three days a week. Our boys - we have four - are constantly around adults who care deeply for them and will correct their behavior as it happens. We homeschool. We play with the kids and follow their interests. We attachment parent, which means among other things that we try to mold our and our children's behavior to avoid punishment, and to fit such punishment as is necessary to the "crime" that necessitates it.

If we fail, if our children some day burn down a playground, there will be no question where the fault lies. But there's something funny about that: we won't fail. Our kids simply are not allowed the mindset that would allow them to be destructive in this way. But this is not a mindset that can be instilled in a teenager burning down a playground; it has to be instilled in a toddler breaking his brother's toy. There are no do-overs in parenting.

Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

May 14, 2003

Poor Bloody England

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

It's sad to see things like this, especially when it's the latest in a long line of stories about protecting criminals in England:

Britain's defeatist attitude toward crime reminds me of the gloomy days of New York City before Rudy Giuliani. In Bath, I saw that sad old sticker, "Nothing of value in this car" (so go rob another one, please). Even homes in rural areas are equipped with motion detectors. Some Brit proposed today new measures to protect burglars, who apparently are at risk by victims who fight back. It is always sad to see a people you love running away from common sense.

I've always wanted to live in the Isles - I have a particular cultural and religious affinity to the area of Wales, in particular, and my wife to Ireland - but I cannot really bring myself to look for jobs there until this situation (and the situation with Islamicist terrorists, too) clears up. What a damnable shame.

UPDATE (5/7): Here is another example of the "long line of stories" about Britain's failure to provide security to her citizens.

Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack