Monday, July 31, 2006


New research from around the world has begun to reveal a picture of humans today that is so different from what it was in the past that scientists say they are startled. Over the past 100 years, says one researcher, Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, humans in the industrialized world have undergone "a form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth."

The difference does not involve changes in genes, as far as is known, but changes in the human form. It shows up in several ways, from those that are well known and almost taken for granted, like greater heights and longer lives, to ones that are emerging only from comparisons of health records.

The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to. There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it. And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning. Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before.

I always found it fascinating in the Art Institute of Chicago that the suits of armor were too small to fit most people I know... and those were built for the heroes of the age! (Well, that and the fact that the swords were really cool...) Another thing I always wondered: if we're so much bigger now than they were, are we proportionally stronger as well? I find it an amusing possibility that some average schmo, if transplanted into the Middle Ages, could possibly be the mightiest knight they'd ever seen, simply by virtue of a nutritious early diet.

Heh(TM): Unimaginable happiness is just a massive suicide pact away!

I concur:

P.J. O'Rourke once said, "Some people will do anything to save the Earth...except take a science course." To that I would add, "...or a basic economics course". If for a reasonable cost we can remove 98 percent of the contaminants in our drinking water and make it quite safe, is it then a good idea to spend ten times as much to push that purity from 98 percent to 99 percent?

In the real world, there are only limited resources to accomplish everything we want to do, and resources diverted to wasteful ends are no longer available to tackle more pressing problems. Only in the imaginary world of the environmental lobbyist, pandering politician, or concerned journalist is it a public service to keep pushing toward 100 percent purity.

A reminder that too many in the environmentalist movement need. I've got nothing against clean water, fresh air, and green grass. I just want to be sure that we keep our priorities straight.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wow. Usually inside jokes aren't that funny, but this is hysterical (if you know what he's referring to): iConfused. He manages to mock Web 2.0, An Army of Davids, the long tail, the singularity, and a few others, all while pretending to be puzzled. Well done, sir.

I can't escape the Kant puns... Why Chris muir, why? I had enough of that freshman year!

Well, you try reading the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals in a class that takes joy in filling the whiteboard with Kant puns. Scarred for life...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Some thoughts from Varifrank for next time you feel like flipping out due to a delayed flight:

In my case, the flight crew of this particular United flight noticed a
small hydraulic leak on the verticle stablizer. No big deal you say? Well
commercial jets dont fly so hot without working hydraulic systems. (Remember

They could have ignored it, its just a small spot of fluid, they
could've come from anywhere (C'mon man, we gotta get going, dont worry about
that little thing...You can almost hear the thoughts run through the flight
officers head cant you...). The fact is, they chose not to and I want to
encourage that sort of thing. It makes me, as a frequent flyer feel much better
knowing that the standard for pre flight aircraft inspection is "safety" not a
whole host of passenger " I missed my connection" concerns or people calling
from the home office telling the pilot to look the other way because the
passengers are screaming to get the plane off the ground and "granny fatpants"
is going to miss her Square Dance at the local Temperance Hall on

I'd much rather be inconvenienced by a delay, than dead from a bad
decision. For me what matters is safety above all. The emphasis for scheduling
is up to me. If I'm flying on a tight schedule and the schedule doesnt work, its
ok, most of the schedule is out of my control. If its within my control to
change my schedule by flying with fewer stopovers or with bigger layover
windows, or heaven forbid - early, I do it. If I dont have those options, well I
take the chance that a simple delay could blow the whole trip. It does happen,
but its not the worst thing in the world. This is the worst
thing in the world
. I missed this flight because I was stuck in a meeting
that went long. One of my coworkers managed to catch it. He was interested in
getting home for his kids first Halloween.

He didnt make it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

TCSdaily weighs in on Israel's blooming war in Gaza and Lebanon:

Hezbollah controls its territory as part and parcel of Lebanese sovereignty. That case is closed. Israel was invaded by a foreign power. That foreign power killed Israelis and kidnapped soldiers. Israel has demanded the soldiers' safe return (and, we presume, the rendition of the invaders for punishment in Israel). Lebanon has declined to help, which would have been the only way to rescind the casus belli. Israel is now free, indeed obliged by its own sovereignty, to use all necessary force to accomplish this goal.

Why keeping the penny no longer makes sense (and no, I don't forgive the WSJ for the bad pun in the headline).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Terrorists hit India

Terrorists attack Mumbai (formerly Bombay):

At least 135 people were killed and hundreds injured in seven bomb explosions on
packed commuter trains and stations during rush hour on Tuesday in Mumbai,
India's financial hub, officials said.

Gateway Pundit and Pajamas Media are following the story.

There's no good way for me to react to this. I'm torn between disgust and rage that someone would do such a thing, and the (possibly more disturbing) realization that I have a hard time mustering the same amount of outrage at such despicable acts as I would have even a year ago... Not that I sympathizes with motives, feel guilt over "root causes," or any of that other assorted cant, but simply that these things keep getting more and more common. It's hard to stay outraged at something that is beginning to become commonplace. And the fact that such attacks are beginning to seem commonplace is the scariest thought of all.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's always great to know that decisions are being made my such capable and knowledgeable representatives in Washington. for example, Ted Stevens, whose outstanding grasp of how the internet functions has placed him at in a position to profoundly effect internet usage. His vast knowledge on display :

There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service is now going to go through the internet and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday.

We're letting that decide internet policy? "Your own personal internet!?!?" People sending "internets?!?!" Why the hell is someone who obviously has no idea what he's talking about making these decisions? Isn't it at least possible for him to recuse himself if he's so clueless on the topic? This is ridiculous...

Friday, July 07, 2006

This is what happens when you give the state a monopoly in the provision of medical services (he's a Brit, so let's forgive the linguistic eccentricities). Let's not try it here, ok?

I marched into my local surgery. "Hello, would it be possible to see a Doctor? I think I'm about to die" weren't my exact words, but it was plain as day that I was clearly not there to make up the numbers, or offer her a discount on a handmade cuckoo clock from Milton Keynes. Nor do I have a taste for ketamine or other bizarre drugs: I just need some antibiotics. Here's what she said.

"We don't have any doctors here today."

WHAT? You're a fucking surgery. Your signpost outside clearly states you are not only open now, at midday, but that you will be open until six. Open but Doctorless - welcome to (Old) Labour's vision of how to reduce an ageing population: kill us all before we reach 65. How, then, can she help me?

"You can come back tomorrow. We should have a doctor then."

Brilliant. Hint: price controls on a product with relatively inflexible demand (i.e. medical services) drive down the supply. State monopoly on the provision of such services simply means that the state has no financial (and only a marginal political) incentive to create enough supply to meet demand. Medical care is too important to leave in the hands of the unaccountable bureaucracy.


I think Papa Murphy's has a small bug in the driving-directions software... It couldn't just tell me to cross the freeway anf take a right - instead it wants me to get on the freeway, get off at the first exit, and then turn around and follow the frontage road back. Sheesh!

One year since the London transit bombing. A roundup at Pajamas Media for those who remember.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Simultaneously creepy and amusing...