Merry Christmas!

Yes, it’s been a while since the last post . . . a fairly eventful week (in a domestic kind of way) here at the Palatial Abode. Since The Shot, my heel’s been somewhat better, and Janet’s mending nicely from her hip arthroscopy.

I started up a batch of hard cider from the world-famous Broadland (SD) orchards. A couple of pictures:

The recommended yeast
Cider on the stove

My South Dakota State Jackrabbits are a Top 25 team in women’s basketball[*1] , and the long-suffering men’s basketball team got a huge road win at Iowa State[*2] . Go Rabbits! (I got this Jackrabbit logo trophy statue thing because I’m a rich and influential donor–yeah, right!)

Jackrabbit trophy statue thingie

We cooked up some seafood bisque[*3] , fauxtatoes[*4] (I go kinda heavy on the cream cheese and butter), cranberry-orange relish, Jello(TM) molds, and some eggnog for today’s Christmas dinner over at Snookums’ parent’s place. Soon, we will indeed go “over the river and through the woods.”

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Peace On Earth, Goodwill Towards Everyone!

Net Reading Today, Dec. 17, 2008

Jackrabbits debut in national top 25 poll[*1] by Terry Vandrovec at the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader

It’s the first time that SDSU (10-1) has been ranked since moving to the NCAA Division I level in 2004-05, the first time that a member of the Summit League has been ranked since Northern Illinois in 1993-94 and is one spot shy of the highest placement ever for a team from that conference.

SDSU men cruise past Bakersfield[*2] by Terry Vandrovec at the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader

Nagy said that he made the lineup moves to send the message that nobody’s job is safe. But in the process, he discovered that the team is inching closer to being deep enough to play the uptempo style that it employed during its Division II heyday.

Q&A with SDSU athletic director Fred Oien[*3] by Terry Vandrovec at the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader

Royals invite four to spring training[*4] by Sam Mellinger at the Kansas City Star

Quiet Bison Sire More Calves Than Louder Rivals[*5] from the University of California at Davis

During bison mating season, the quietest bulls score the most mates and sire the most offspring while studs with the loudest bellows see the least action, according to a surprising new study by researchers at University of California, Davis, and Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

WB-6 Results Confirmed – Continuous Operation The Next Step[*6] by M. Simon at the IEC Fusion Technology blog

The next step in my opinion should be a continuously operating version about the size of WB-7. A device I used to call WB-7x and will probably be called WB-8.

Verdict Positive for Inertial Electrostatic Fusion[*7] by BW at NextBigFuture

‘Follow The Elements’ To Understand Evolution In Ancient Oceans[*8] at ScienceDaily

“The history of our planet is like a natural laboratory of ‘alternative worlds,'” says Anbar. “The chemical composition of the oceans has changed dramatically over billions of years. Elements that are abundant today were once scarce, and elements that are scarce today were once abundant. So Earth’s ancient oceans are a good place to go if we want to understand how organisms and ecosystems evolve to cope with changing abundances of elements. Studying the ancient oceans also stretches our minds to imagine what we might find someday in alien oceans on other worlds.”

Commercial Spaceport in New Mexico Gets FAA Launch License [*9] by Leonard David at

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) announced Monday that it received a license for vertical and horizontal launches from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST).

Science Fiction And The Alternate History[*10] at

My question is this, though: What’s the deal with Alternate Histories being classified as SFF? Who thought that one up?

The Best and Worst of Skymall[*11] by Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo

Stunning Zenithal Shot of Space Shuttle Flying On Top of 747[*12] by Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Off-Brand TVs[*13] by Matt Buchanan at Gizmodo

The HD Guru says that lower tier manufacturers might skimp on construction, using lower quality power supplies, for instance, with repair costs running as high as purchasing a whole new set. Besides, as you can see over the HD Guru site, the warranties tend to be less robust.

Higher-ed Spending Not the Answer[*14] by Neal McCluskey at the Cato Institute

Of course, all this forced largesse might be worth something if it actually strengthened the economy. But there is evidence it doesn’t. Economist Richard Vedder has isolated the effects of higher ed spending and found that the more states spend, the lower their rates of economic growth.

The Credit Triangle[*15] by Steve H. Hanke at the Cato Institute

To better understand the forces at play and the rough magnitudes involved, we use a credit triangle. The triangle’s architect is John Greenwood. Recall that he was also the architect of Hong Kong’s modern currency board system.

Entire US Now Actually Bankrupt?More: If You Thought That Was Scary, Read This Other Guy[*16] by Ace at Ace of Spades HQ

Some guy does a bit of number-crunching and calculates that federal liabilities now not only exceed government assets and income (which we all knew, of course), but also the gross cumulative net worth of all American citizens to boot.

Beware: Internet Explorer Being Hacked Like Crazy, And At This Time, There’s No Fix[*17] by Ace at Ace of Spades HQ

If you’re on IE, switch to another browser, immediately.

F*ck You, Penguin: A Blog Dedicated to Posting Cute Animal Pictures, and Then Snidely Insulting Them[*18] by Ace at Ace of Spades HQ


Standing in the way of the future[*19] by Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club

. . . the controversy over the Czech President’s refusal to hang the EU flag from Prague Castle seems to encapsulate what may be the biggest political conflict of the 21st century. . .

They got took[*20] by Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club

“activists” have a curious relationship with money. They don’t make it, but they need to spend it. They need what they loathe. What can I tell you?

Smoke and mirrors[*21] by Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club

The really scary thing is that however large we make the regulators, however great the powers we give them it is possible that they cannot protect us from storms at all. Perhaps the downside of an information economy — indeed an information driven world — is that no one really knows what things mean.

Oil troubled waters 2[*22] by Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club

Consumers, faced with higher costs and less money (falling mortgage equity withdrawals), pulled back dramatically. The result was a sharp drop in demand, and therefore prices.

All of this goes back to the mortgage debacle, in which Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a big new home. Eased underwriting standards drove up home values (money flowing into housing faster than supply expanded); rising home values created phantom equity; phantom equity was converted by consumers into cash through additional debt; consumers spent that cash on stuff made overseas, driving down the value of the dollar and increasing global energy demand; the falling dollar and rising demand drove oil prices into the stratosphere.

Hard work[*23] by Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club

This video of Bangladeshi bricklayers illustrates work at a level so basic it has almost been forgotten in modern Western economies.

Worst Economic Prescription of the Week[*24] by Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog

Note the embedded theory here of income and wealth, which is really startling. For Drum and most of the left, income is this sort of fountain that spews forth on its own out in the desert somewhere. Rich people are the piggy folks who crowd close to the fountain and take more than their fair share of what is flowing out. There is absolutely no recognition that possibly wealth is correlated with individual initiative, work, intelligence, and behaviors.

Bush: “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free market system”[*25] by Allahpundit at Hot Air
Why does “I destroyed the village in order to save it” come to mind?

Scientists scoff at AP global-warming story[*26] by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air

Even scientists who believe in global warming couldn’t quite believe their eyes. They called the report by the Seth Borenstein a “polemic” and wondered when research stopped being a requirement for science reporters

Journamalism[*27] by Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom, who riffs of a question asked at an ABC News blog:

Who’s Worse: Madoff or Blagojevich?

Commisar Putin and the death of freedom [*28] By McQ at QandO Blog

Dana Milbank Ain’t Feeling The Tingle, I Guess[*29] by Dan Riehl at Riehl World View

Not that Milbank was a die hard Obama fan. But The One should learn something from McCain’s recent experience. The media is your friend until it isn’t.

Cheerful Remarks at Big Media’s Funeral[*30] by Alan Caruba at

Like Mark Twain, I drifted into journalism because I was seriously opposed to having to actually work for a living. One of Twain’s classic quotes was “Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you please.” A pretty fair definition of journalism in his times and ours.

I began to have early doubts about the rigors of being a journalist when, three months after I joined the staff of a weekly newspaper, the first I had ever worked for, the editor moved on to a daily and I was anointed the editor. That’s right. I went from rookie to head honcho in about 90 days. I virtually wrote that entire newspaper for well over a year or so and probably learned as much as any four-year curriculum at the Newhouse or Columbia School of Journalism. Then I moved on to a daily newspaper.

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage

This is the front page for our dispatches from our Grand Asia & Australia Voyage on Holland America’s Amsterdam, from September 19-November 23, 2008, with bonus coverage of our pre-cruise visit to Seattle, and our post-cruise detour to Cancun.

Here are the individual posts, collected all in one handy location for your reading pleasure. As we travel, we’ll be adding posts so you can follow our journeys.


Part 1, Seattle
Part 2, Seattle and the M/S Amsterdam
Part 3, the North Pacific
Part 4, the North Pacific
Part 5, the North Pacific
Part 6, At sea, and arriving Hakodate, Japan
Part 7, Hakodate, Japan
Part 8, Aomori, Japan
Part 9, Miyako, Japan
Part 10, Kobe, Japan
Part 11, Kobe, Japan
Part 12, Kobe, Japan
Part 13, Kobe, Japan
Part 14, Shanghai, China
Part 15, Shanghai, China
Part 16, Shanghai and Hong Kong, China
Part 17, Hong Kong, China
Part 18, Hong Kong, China
Part 19, In the South China Sea
Part 20, Da Nang, Vietnam
Part 21, Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon), Vietnam
Part 22, At sea, and Laem Chabang/Pattaya, Thailand
Part 23, Ko Samui, Thailand
Part 24, Ko Samui, Thailand
Part 25, At sea, and Singapore
Part 26, Singapore, and out to sea
Part 27, At sea, and Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia
Part 28, Snorkeling at Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia
Part 29, Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia
Part 30, Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia
Part 31, At sea, bound for Perth, Australia
Part 32, Fremantle/Perth, Australia
Part 33, Fremantle/Perth, Australia
Part 34, Fremantle/Perth, Australia
Part 35, Melbourne, Australia
Part 36, At sea bound for Sydney, Australia
Part 37, Sydney, Australia
Part 38, Sydney, Australia
Part 39, Cruising the Coral Sea, and Noumea, New Caledonia
Part 40, Noumea, New Caledonia
Part 41, Noumea, New Caledonia
Part 42, Noumea, New Caledonia
Part 43, Suva, Fiji
Part 44, Apia, Western Samoa
Part 45, At sea bound for Honolulu
Contest photos
Part 46, At sea, crossing the Equator
Part 47, At sea bound for Honolulu
Part 48, At sea bound for Honolulu
Part 49, Honolulu, Hawaii
Part 50, Honolulu, Hawaii
Part 51, Honolulu and Lahaina, Hawaii
Part 52, Lahaina, Hawaii and bound for San Diego
Part 53, At sea, bound for San Diego
Part 54, San Diego, California
Part 55, San Diego, Dallas, and Cancun, Mexico
Part 56, Cancun, Mexico
Part 57, Cancun, Mexico
Part 58, Cancun, Mexico
Part 59, Cancun, Mexico
Part 60, Cancun, Mexico
Part 61, Home, at last!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 61 (the finale!)

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Sixty-one

November 30 (Sunday, Day 76, FLYING HOME!!!!) –

We woke up, ate a leisurely breakfast in the Regency Club, packed and tried to make the room look like it did when we first checked in so that Filbert could take pictures. We left the Hyatt and drove to the airport. The Cancun airport has no signs (and this means zero signs) for rental car returns. We managed to turn the wrong way on a 3-lane one way street but were able to correct that mistake before getting hit. (There was also no sign stating it was one way.) We finally stumbled onto the Hertz place and returned our car with no problem. Airport check-in was a breeze and we enjoyed not having to take our shoes off to go through x-ray.

Our flight to Dallas was uneventful and clearing immigration and customs was fast. We ate dinner at Wendy’s at DFW before catching our flight home to Kansas City. We landed at Kansas City and Filbert got our luggage while Snookums went to the SuperShuttle counter to get our pre-paid transportation going. 45 LONG minutes later the van arrived. The driver didn’t know how to get to I-435 and instead took the exit for the economy parking lot. We straightened him out and decided his tip would be zero.

We got to our house around 10 PM and everything was intact. Snookums went through 30 days of mail while Filbert plugged things in and set clocks. We weighed ourselves and found out that Snookums gained eight pounds while Filbert lost three pounds! We went to bed around midnight and had a great night’s sleep in our own bed. We had a fantastic trip, but it was also great to be home even if only for four nights (we leave for South Dakota for more basketball on Thursday). Home sweet home!

Filbert’s Top Five (plus one) Trip Pictures:

Canadian Coast Guard’s Even Closer Flyby
Striking a pose with squid in Hakodate
Janet and the Kangaroos
Blogging angst (this one’s the bonus picture!)
Tail Flip
Sea Turtle

Trip Statistics:

Kansas City to Seattle – 1,490 statute miles
Seattle to San Diego – 23,861 statute miles (20,749 nautical miles)
San Diego to Cancun – 2,199 statute miles
Cancun to Kansas City – 1,488 statute miles
Total – 29,038 statute miles over 76 days or 382 statute miles per day

32,000 gallons of diesel fuel consumed per day on the cruise
370,000 gallons of water produced per day on the cruise
160,000 gallons of water consumed per day on the cruise

(The airlines don’t provide stats on jet fuel consumed on flights. Barbarians.)

1,380 guests and 590 crew on the cruiseSnookums is disappointed that I, Filbert, didn’t add very much to the final post here. But I’m already onto new things . . . making some progress on my science fiction writing, blogging in general, watching South Dakota State’s women’s basketball team make the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 (at #22, as of Dec. 16!–watch out, Lady Vols!) and otherwise getting re-acquainted with being home.Just watch this space for more of our travel stories, coming sooner rather than later!

Net Reading Today, Dec. 16, 2008

A new, possibly semi-regular feature of In the spirit of the long-departed Daily Whip. Here, I present the headlines and occasional quotes from articles on the Web from my daily readings. It’s kind of like cutting out your favorite articles from the daily newspaper thirty years ago, then posting them on a bulletin board in front of your house.

Hm. Thinking about it like that makes it sound a bit creepy. Oh, well.

Headlines I thought were interesting, in no particular order:

SDSU women miss out on top 25 poll – barely[*1] in the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader by Terry Vandrovec.

South Dakota State will have to wait at least one more day to crack the NCAA Division I women’s basketball top 25 for the first time. Nonetheless, the Jackrabbits are on track to get there long before anybody thought possible.

Coming off road wins at reputable Minnesota and Gonzaga, the Jackrabbits (10-1) received more votes than any team not in the top 25 in the Associated Press poll that was released Monday. They held that same distinction last week in the ESPN/USA Today poll, and are a good bet to move into that top 25 when it’s released today, another significant step in the program’s rapid rise.

Journalism’s revolving door[*2] at, and by Tigerhawk:

The mainstream media takes great umbrage at the “revolving door” between government and the K Street firms that lobby government. . . . Well, then, why is it just fine for journalists who profess to objectivity to go to work for politicians in official positions of flackery?

Palin Church Fire Was Arson[*3] by John Hinderaker at Powerline:

Today authorities confirmed that the fire was started by an arsonist . . .

Minnesota Senate recount, update XII[*4] by Scott Johnson at Powerline:

The Minnesota Supreme Court hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon. The Supreme Court could have punted and may yet do so, but the hearing holds out the possibility that the Pandora’s box opened by the Board of Canvassers might be shut. Even if the court introduces order to the pending chaos, we have no idea what the result would be.

The Canvassing Board has proved itself to be problematic. It has already gone haywire on basic issues that go to the statutory recount process, and the rejected absentee ballots that may or may not be included are a wild card.

I am worried. I think you would be right to be worried.

That kind of fraud is not really possible because of the system…[*5] by Tim Swanson at

This video has been making the rounds throughout the financial blogosphere. It is an interview with Bernard Madoff in 2007 and one in which he utters a number of fabulous statements regarding safety, risk, oversight and regulation. He also touches on subprime and quants.

Yeah, Snookums and I had some money in a fund which owned a fund which was part of Maddow’s scam. Not very happy about it, either.

Hammer falling at the Strib[*6] by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

Unfortunately, rather than just fire Coleman for incompetence, they’re laying him off or demoting him to the news section. That means they have to show some balance (for once) and axe their lone conservative voice at the paper. Katherine Kersten has done a remarkable job at the Strib as a rare voice for conservatism in the paper, but she’s also the last one in, and most companies would make her the first one out regardless of point of view. I’ll miss her, and like David Brauer, I also doubt that she’ll remain as a reporter. Hopefully she finds another platform soon.

Collective shoe throwing[*7] by Eric at Classic Values:

I was never especially enthusiastic about Bush (as I explained many times, I held my nose when I voted for him), and I’m even less enthusiastic about Barack Obama. But either Bush Derangement syndrome or Obama Derangement Sydrome (or Clinton Derangement Syndrome before them) strike me not only juvenile but ineffective. They just guarantee further such behavior.

Why the emerging auto bailout sucks[*8] by Professor Bainbridge at

Injecting capital into the automobile makers does not address the underlying structural problems faced by this industry. It does nothing to give them leaner bureaucracies, less expensive legacy health and pension costs, more flexible work rules, less restrictive and costly union contracts, and, to put it bluntly, products somebody would want to buy. All it does is delay the inevitable by giving them more money to burn through.

Who decides how much your life is worth?[*9] , by Professor Bainbridge at

What I find particularly objectionable about the British rationing system is the effort they make to prevent private funding. If I can afford to spend $100,000 to buy a six month reprieve, why should the government tell me not to do so? Yet, in the UK, opting for private funding of a single treatment apparently can result in your exclusion from the rationed care system in its entirety.

Oil on troubled waters[*10] by Richard Fernandez aka “Wretchard” at Belmont Club:

But lest anyone think that the Australian Green’s sense of urgency is extraordinary, the Associated Press recently reported that Barack Obama has little time left to cope with Global Warming. In the middle of an economic meltdown and a global fight against chaos, what we really should be worrying about is carbon levels. “The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton’s second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it. … ” We need to act NOW!!! and I’m not talking about the economy.

The Real Climate Deniers[*11] by Brian Sussman at American Thinker:

What you should do, Messer’s Obama, Gore and McCain, is realize the debate is over — there is no global warming. Yes, between 1970 and 1998 there was a minor warming of a mere .34°F, as verified by the NASA satellite records. However, there has been no notable increase in the global temperature since 1998, (humiliatingly confirmed even by the United Nations). Furthermore, your designer greenhouse gas-carbon dioxide-is neither a pollutant nor a problem.

However, the facts are not getting in the way of their agenda.

Cannibals Report on the Taste of the Races’ Meat: Japanese the Tastiest, White Meat Too “Strong Smelling” and Salty[*12] from Ace at Ace of Spades H.Q.

Rasmussen: 45% Suspect It’s Likely or Very Likely Obama or His Team “Involved In” Blagojevich Scandal[*13] from Ace at Ace of Spades H.Q.

Pirates and Warships[*14] where DEC at JungleTrader highlights a New York Times article[*15] :

The Indian Navy recently announced that it had arrested 23 pirates, though it is not clear where the suspects would be prosecuted. Last week in Nairobi, Kenya, at an antipiracy conference, British officials outlined a plan for their navy to capture Somali pirates and hand them over to Kenyan courts.

But according to Kenneth Randall, dean of the University of Alabama School of Law and an international law scholar, “Any country can arrest these guys and prosecute them at home, under domestic laws that apply.

“I’m actually surprised people think it’s unclear,” he said. “The law on piracy is 100 percent clear.”

He said that international customary law going back hundreds of years had defined pirates as criminals who robbed and stole on the high seas. Because the crimes were committed in international waters, he said, all countries had not only the authority but also the obligation to apprehend and prosecute them.

THE BUZZ: Royals move managers around[*16] from the Kansas City Star:

Airlines’ changes should help them survive recession[*17] by Randolph Heaster at the Kansas City Star:

“In fact, the number of aircraft taken out of service in the past several months is the equivalent of one very large airline going out of business,” said Beverly Goulet, vice president of corporate development and treasurer of AMR Corp., American’s holding company.

Northeast Siberia braces for extreme cold of -60C[*18] by Anthony Watts at Watt’s Up With That?

Robert Carlyle Headlines ‘Stargate: Universe’[*19] by Micheal Hinman at

Tops In 2008: Top TV Programs, Single Telecasts[*20] at

10 Worst Science Fiction Remakes[*21] by Charlie Jane Anders at

Ten of the Baddest Fictional Movie Weapons[*22] by Madison at

Topping off the sf-list trifecta, When a Power List Isn’t[*23] by John Scalzi at Whatever.

Analysis: Is Apple about to have an enterprise moment?[*24] by Eric Bangeman at

Apple and the enterprise—two words that have historically gone together like peanut butter and cheese curds. For much of its history, the computer-cum-iPhone maker has been on the outside of enterprise computing looking in. In fact, it’s debatable how much Apple was even looking in. The company has shown little interest in doing what is necessary to woo corporate IT departments and make its case to CIOs.

Ars Reviews the 2008 MacBook: weighing the Pros and cons[*25] By David Chartier, Iljitsch van Beijnum at

Broken Windows, Broken Logic by Ryan Young and Drew Tidwell at

The problem is that an energy tax cannot create new jobs. Just different ones. The money Kinsley hopes to inject into the economy must first be taken out of it. Add in collection costs and the usual political malfeasance, and we have a net loss to the economy.

There’s more.

Kinsley argues that last summer’s high oil prices were essentially a “tax” on consumers. The money just went to oil companies instead of government. But he forgets that oil companies do not have control over their prices. If they did, then why would oil prices ever drop? Kinsley’s logic does not follow.

Whistling orangutans?

Science Daily has a story of Bonnie the whistling orangutan[*1] :

Bonnie, a 30-year-old female orangutan living at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., began whistling – a sound that is in a human’s, but not an orangutan’s, repertoire – after hearing an animal caretaker make the sound.

They go on to be all sciencey and stuff about how it might give a clue to the evolution of speech, but for me, it’s all about the picture:

Credit: Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

His and hers cortisone shots

Today, both Snookums and I went to the orthopedic doctor–her for what turns out to be “golfer’s elbow” and me for achilles tendon bursitis that I’ve had since summer. Both of us got cortisone shots. Mine hurt an awful, AWFUL lot. Hers, of course, didn’t. The orthopedist explained that hers was among the more painful cortisone shots he gives. Yikes.

My shot was excruciatingly painful, brought tears to my eyes and made my breathing really, really difficult to control. I recommend it as an interrogation tactic at Guantanamo Bay, as it’s definitely a tactic of torture. “I’ll talk, Doc, I’ll talk! I bombed the World Trade Center! Just make it stop!”

Hers . . . “Doctor, any time you’re ready.” “Oh, it’s already done.” “Oh.”

As I keep telling her, she is a freak . . . of nature.