Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
Click here to email.

Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his day job where he works the education beat and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.

Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest. Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.

Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out the on-line journal of Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.

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[*] = updated in the last 24 hrs.

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The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
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Poet Laureate:
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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Two Earthquakes, One Article, Wrong Conclusion
I ordinarily agree with Thomas Sowell . But in the linked article, he concludes that the reason the casualties from the Iran earthquake are 30,000+ and a recent quake in California were less than 10, and the difference between the 1900 Galveston hurricane and Andrew (1992) are a result of wealth. He argues that the increased technical sophistication and affluence of America as compared to Iran or even itself of 100 years ago enable better resistance to disasters. I have a different explaination: luck.

Certainly, improved warning systems for hurricanes are a huge help and have saved countless lives. But I would argue that construction quality has actually decreased in the last 100 years. Older homes, built by hand by craftsmen, perform far better than the rapidly built mass produced homes of today. (Small example: a hand hammered nail has higher resistance to being pulled out than a mechanically driven nail.)

Andrew was not a big killer mainly because it made landfall in the sparsely populated Homestead area. Move the storm 20 miles north (a trivial distance and less than 1/3 of the 12 hour forecast error) and it changes from 12 killed, $25 billion storm into 1000 or so killed and 75-80 billion in losses. Same with the CA quake - move the epicenter 50 miles and it becomes a massive loss of live and property.

Wealth and freedom does many wonderful things for a population, but in this Sowell has missed the mark. While we have done well in improving warning systems, frankly we haven't been very smart about improving the vulnerability of our infrastructure. We've just been lucky, and some day our luck will run out.

posted by Chuck at 8:56 AM

Saturday, December 27, 2003
Been a tough year
Some of you may have noticed a sharp drop off in posts from the lesser third of the troika on the masthead. My father died last year, and this year started with my father-in-law being diagnosed with cancer and after a difficult time passing away. The year ended with another death in the family. My mom has been through an extended illness and finally passed away on Christmas Day. I sort of think she was waiting for everybody to get together to see her one last time. The hardest part for me is that despite being the youngest of three, I seem to be the only one who can think logically and solve problems (my brother and sister are both "artists" - enough said).

Barring some other crisis, I should be able to get back to both business and blogging. High on the "to do" list after the first of the year is finishing a major revision of the Kinetic Analysis Corporation web sites and servers, including bringing up "SatBlog" with some improved data feeds and dynamic mapping tools. Some other neat stuff on the horizon in the field on real time monitoring I hope to start in the coming weeks.

posted by Chuck at 8:29 AM

Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Merry Christmas. I've been up since 4:45 a.m. because I had to cover a public hearing on local school taxes at 7 a.m. Hope your holidays are off to a better start.

posted by Charles at 8:40 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2003
Ron I though you said things like this only happen in the northern part of the state.

posted by Charles at 10:35 PM

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Drinking Thing. Just found out that Gary Stewart killed himself.

I still say that "She's Acting Single (I'm Drinking Doubles)" is one of the greatest country songs of all time. "Your Place or Mine" and "Drinking Thing" are also fine. In fact, Stewart may well have been the most underrated Country artist of the 1970s.

Like too many honky tonk singers, he seemed to have a self-destructive streak. Well, I guess "seemed" is an understatment now.

posted by Charles at 10:05 PM

Monday, December 15, 2003
Presidential Tools. I took the 2004 American Presidential Candidate Selector test, and here are my results, in order:

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Libertarian Candidate (77%)
3. Bush, President George W. - Republican (65%)
4. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (40%)
5. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (33%)
6. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (29%)
7. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (28%)
8. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (27%)
9. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (27%)
10. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (22%)
11. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (22%)
12. Green Party Candidate (22%)
13. Socialist Candidate (17%)
14. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (13%)
15. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (8%)
16. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (4%)

Link via Franklin Harris

posted by Charles at 10:22 PM

Economics and Culture. How many people watching SNL this weekend know who Paul Krugman is and why they were making fun of him?

posted by Charles at 7:40 PM

Saturday, December 13, 2003
San Francisco Elected Andy Garcia Mayor. And his wife it really hot. See also 1, 2 and 3.

And she should be. She's not only an assistant prosecutor, she's also a former Victoria's Secret model. (No, that's not a joke.)

posted by Charles at 10:23 PM

Friday, December 12, 2003
On Drugs. Human Events explains how Republicans were convinced to vote for the Medicare "reform" bill:

The GOP leadership told them that if the bill were defeated, Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) would bring up either the same bill again or, amazingly, a Democratic package twice as costly. That proposal, they were told, already had the 218 votes needed to pass.

Worse, they were also told, President Bush was behind the plan, and would sign the Democratic bill if it reached his desk.

posted by Charles at 10:03 PM

Thursday, December 11, 2003
Rehab Has done Wonders. Limbaugh on the campaign finance reform decision:

When all is said and done, when it comes to domestic issues, it looks to me like the legacy of the Republican control of Congress and the presidency for the first time in 50 years is going to be the largest entitlement in modern times, the greatest increase in domestic spending in modern times and one of the greatest set-backs for liberty in modern times. That's the legacy of Republican control of government. This may be "compassionate" conservatism, but it's not "conservatism" at all.

posted by Charles at 12:08 AM

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Battlestar Galactica. I had to work Monday night, so I taped it, and I've finally gotten around to watching all of it.

It wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. The writing was workmanlike. There were some interesting plot twists and a nice surprise at the end, a lot of stilted dialog and a few cliches. The basic premise that the Cylons used the humans' technology against the, and Galactica alone survived because it was an antiquated ship that was about to be mothballed and therefore didn't have the latest, compromised technology was a nice touch.

Apart from Edward James Olmos, the guy who played Baltar and (surprisingly) the woman who played the hot human-looking Cylon, the acting was poor.

Speaking of Cylons, I didn't mind the fact that some looked like people. It made sense in a "Terminator" sort of way. Most of the other changes didn't bother me. Though I still don't think Starbuck works as a woman.

They left the door open for a continuing series at the end, which was expected. If they do go ahead with that, I doubt they'll keep all of the Mormon theology from the first series, however.

posted by Charles at 9:45 PM

Sunday, December 07, 2003
Environmentalism As Religion. Thanks to Domenic for alerting me to this speech by Michael Crichton:

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know.

posted by Charles at 11:07 PM

Saturday, December 06, 2003
Black on Black Crime. That seems to be how British authorities are treating attacks on Afro-Caribbean immigrants by Pakistani immigrants.

But they may be turning a blind eye to something much worse than one part of the underclass bashing another.

posted by Charles at 11:03 PM

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
More On Forster. Eugene Volokh picks up on Rep. Ron Forster's statement that atheists are more likely to be corrupt.

Really? Any particular evidence of that? I take it that if a legislator said "If someone doesn't accept Christ, his objections carry no weight, because he is more likely to be evil," or "If someone follows Catholicism, his objections carry no weight, because he is more likely to be a supertitious slave of foreign powers," or "If someone is a Protestant, his objections carry no weight, because he claims the authority to interpret God's will for himself, which surely means that he is more likely to selfishly interpret it in ways that are convenient to him," people would rightly denounce that as religious bigotry. Likewise, it seems to me, with prejudice against the irreligious.

Turns out that Forster has gone even further in the past. A reader sent me this link:

“Atheists and even some religions don’t have personal values, whereas our Constitution treats each individual as a special creation, and whether you believe it or not, we’ll treat you as a special individual person with respect to your own due rights because of our creator — God,” Forster said.

I wish someone had asked Forster what those religions are that have no values.

posted by Charles at 9:54 PM

Monday, December 01, 2003
Religion and Morals. Politicians, even local ones, are generally pretty smooth these days, so it's rare that you hear a statement like this one in The Daily Citizen yesterday:

If a judge or public official doesn't believe in God, "then that person is more likely to be corrupt," Forster said.

That's Rep. Ron Forster, part of our local state delegation.

I wish somone had asked Forster for proof of that claim because I'm sure he couldn't come up with any. Religious folk like to think they are more moral than atheists, but there's no evidence to support that. (Nor is there any evidence to support the atheist stereotype of the religious as dumber or psychologically weaker than they are.)

Name any corrupt poltiician, and odds are that person believed in God. Didn't exactly keep his commandments maybe, but believed in him.

Anyway, Forster claims to be a conservative. And conservatives claim to believe the constitution is the supreme law of the land. But he seems to have never heard of this part of that document:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office of public Trust under the United States.

posted by Charles at 3:03 PM

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