Torchy

Lileks, back from his Aegean trip, has started a new B&W series.

Also, summer camp reminiscences. Which makes me happy that the place I went to is still around. I still remember the swimming test. I had just had lessons at the high school, and passed everything to be allowed the run of the lake. One part was treading water for some duration (ten minutes, maybe). Another was diving down deep (maybe fifteen feet) to bring up a handful of muck. Probably with bloodsuckers in it.

The IRS Cover Up

Continues:

On Monday the IRS filed an appeal of the judge’s decision denying its motion to dismiss Z Street’s case. The government says the action stops all discovery while the appeal is pending, a process that could take months or even years. By filing the appeal on the last possible day, the Justice Department is running out the clock on discovery during the remainder of the Administration.

This is a whole lot of effort to prevent discovery in a case that is not even seeking damages. Ways and Means uncovered the email exchange between State and the IRS only after Treasury was forced to turn over documents it had previously withheld. What else did it lose in the ether?

By the way, if you’re not following him, the Tax Prof is covering this every day.

Robert Redford And Cate Blanchett

Do you really want to make a movie in which you unwittingly depict people who are fools?

…let me put my own cards on the table: I voted for Bush in 2004. If I were a character in Mapes’s book, this would mean you should ignore me, because she repeatedly disqualifies statements that hurt her case by pointing out that the person speaking is a Republican or a Bush supporter. However, I should note that I also supported Al Gore in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008, and I do not view either liberals or conservatives as presumptive liars.

Nor do I view Mapes as a presumptive liar. That would require implausible levels of evil and stupidity: evil, because she’d be trying to alter an election result with a massive lie; stupid, because the odds of getting away with such a scheme are vanishingly small. We’re talking a supervillain-who-leaves-hero-in-a-remote-quarry-to-be-devoured-by-carnivorous-GMO-squirrels level of evil and stupid. Too evil and stupid to get as far as Mapes did in the cutthroat world of television production.

I do think she made a very bad mistake, which could have been averted had she been more skeptical about the documents she received from Bill Burkett, a disgruntled National Guard retiree who reportedly had it in for Bush. I think that she has become unable to recognize that mistake, for the same reasons that we all cling to our own self-serving narratives rather than admit that we have screwed up. After reading through all the contemporary reports, the report from CBS’s independent panel and Mapes’s book, I think Mapes fell prey to the journalist’s two worst enemies: confirmation bias and motivated cognition.

There is no way to make this flick without it being either truthful (in which case they won’t want to do it) or embarrassing:

Well, some of them (unlike you, apparently) were smart enough to call the fax number on the memo, and determine that it came from a Kinko’s in Texas. And though there was in fact analysis of what the documents actually said, which also helped torpedo them, it was in fact enough, Mary. It’s hard (perhaps impossible) to prove that a document is authentic, but it only takes one solid strike against its validity to show it to be inauthentic. And the fact that you still don’t understand that, or understand basic logic at all, is why you are now out of a job, and should never have had that job to begin with.

Ah, the best and the brightest.

The Latest Take-Down Of Piketty

It’s long, and too much there to pick out a quote, but worth the read.

As I’ve noted before, Marxism is not a discipline, or even an ideology, really. It’s an attitude founded in envy and a grasping for power. Simply put, if you believe your judgment of someone else’s need to be superior to their own, and are willing to enforce it at the point of a gun, you are a Marxist. And that attitude describes a large majority of Democrats, and far too many Republicans.

Back In LA

We drove down from Vallejo today, through the city and down the west coast of the peninsula through Santa Cruz. Stopped at Moss Landing and saw some of the humpback whales right off shore that have been coming in close recently, apparently due to an increase in food supply in Monterey Bay. Back to normal posting tomorrow, I hope.

Welcome to A Post-America World, Israel

John Kerry just made himself and the USA completely irrelevant. It will remain so until we have a new administration:

To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.

This is absolutely insane.

Note: Hamas’s charter is an ongoing declaration of war against Israel. Destroying Israel is not just its goal, but its sole reason for existence.

Impeachment Talk

It’s mostly coming from Democrats. This is a potentially dangerous game, depending on how much starts to come out with various scandals and as the foreign situation continues to deteriorate. I’ve always said that it would be politically stupid to impeach before the election, but I would not rule out the possibility of it being a good campaign issue for the Republicans this fall.

But I remain frustrated that no one seems to be polling this question:

If the Republicans ran on a platform of impeaching and removing Barack Obama and Joe Biden and replacing them with the Speaker of the House and then a new vice president of his choosing, would you be:

a) More likely to vote Republican
b) Less likely to vote Republican
c) Not sure
d) Depends on who the Speaker of the House is

Wouldn’t cost much to add the question to a poll.

Hamas’s Big Plan

Disrupted.

Disruption is good. As noted, any question of a ceasefire before those tunnels are ll destroyed is out of the question.

I’m surprised that they didn’t have a network of seismometers. I’d think they would have told them what’s going on. And of course, as usual, the UN was probably complicit.

[Update Saturday morning]

All we are saying, is give war a chance.

Well, “peace” certainly hasn’t worked very well.

[Update a while later]

“I won’t apologize for surviving.”

For surviving missiles intended to kill me. The fact they didn’t kill me doesn’t mean they weren’t sent with the intention to murder. We have a defence system, shelters, evacuation procedures and governments who take care of us – I will not apologise for living and surviving thanks to being prepared because we have a culture that celebrates our lives and cherishes them instead of sending 10-year old children to be fighters and bombers. I will not apologise for having a business, a home, a family and friends here who want normal lives and to live in peace with our neighbors. I will not apologise for existing and I want nothing more than to co-exist quietly with neighbors who accept me here.

But this is not what Hamas wants.

Let me be very clear. Hamas is trying to kill ME. My family. My baby son. All of us here. That is their purpose. Get it through your heads – that is what is happening. And it’s VERY personal. For all of us here.

But it’s NOT FAIR. Who are you people to defend yourselves, anyway? It’s not their fault that they suck at killing you. Why can’t you just off yourselves like those Masada people?

Speed Limits

A great piece on the general irrationality about them, and the history. I find most interesting (and new) the point that the main benefit of posting a speed limit was not to slow the fastest down, but to speed the slowest up. More people need to understand that it is not absolute speed that is dangerous, but relative speed. When I was young, in Michigan, before Nixon’s double-nickle stupidity, the freeway signs had both a maximum and a minimum: 70/45. That was back in the days when older cars weren’t as safe or reliable at higher speeds. Today, I’d make it more like 80/60.

I’m also glad that they (as I always do) pointed out what a problem a lack of lane discipline is. If they’d give tickets for hogging the left lane, instead of speeding, traffic would flow both more smoothly and more safely.

The List Of ObamaCare Disasters

Add fraud:

It sounds like the systems that are supposed to check identity, immigration status and income simply aren’t working at all; the system just assumes that you are who you say you are.

Gosh, it’s almost like they don’t care.

Of course, I’m not sure that “add” is the right word. The whole thing has always been pretty much fraud all the way down.

Infinity Aerospace

Announcing tools to utilize ISS. Ardulab, is an Arduino modified with features to work on the station. Developed with NASA and Nanoracks. Enabled an 8th-grade class to do a plant-growth experiment for different light conditions in space, ready to fly. Takes up only ten percent of allowed volume, leaving remainder for experiments. Completely open source, hardware and software. Will be opening web site right after talk today.

Jurvetson

Need competition in space industry, and known prices, to allow non-insiders to enter and put together business plans. #NewSpaceCon

Citing Arthur Clarke’s suggestion that vehicles need to be reusable fo make space affordable, from 45 years ago as Apollo 11 went to the moon.

Skeptics in the industry have scoffed at SpaceX goal of retroburning, entering, flying back to site and reflying. Both attempts would have been fine if they’d been on land, instead of in the ocean. Most amazing things was that it worked the first time, demonstrating the power of modern simulations.

When you start with a founding vision so far beyond the industry you have to invent a lot of new things (e.g., vertical landing on a planet, manufacturing propellant on another planet). Challenge is to see what is necessary to achieve vision, but come up with intermediate solutions that generate revenue. If you’re an incumbent not being disrupted, you’ll just incrementally improve, not go after revolutionary solution.

[Update a few minutes later]

For other info on the talk, follow @jeff_foust.

The Heinlein Technology Prize

Art Dula just made some news at the New Space 2014 Conference. The Heinlein Prize committee hasn’t been able to come up with a winner this year, but they just announced a new prize, called the Heinlein Technology Prize. It’s a $10,000 award for a technology that has been tested in space, and shows significant promise to help commercial space activities. Winner will be announced in September.