Col. Lang, I spent my early years at a skeptical boarding school in New England. They taught us that faith was an artifact of a more primitive time. It was to be humored but never to be taken seriously. Man had moved on, or at least that culture in New England had moved on, to better things. These were modern men with modern answers. They no longer needed the prophets to guide their lives. I have to laugh, now, when I think of that. Obamas words are a testament to that culture and how my classmates thought. We were infused with purpose, and we were intent on redeeming the world. In our own right, as his language suggests, we were no less religious than the dour pilgrims before us. Our faith was a secular one, but it was no less dogmatic. We had lost our god, but we had not lost Winthrop's creed. We were so convinced of modernism though. Our answers, unlike those who came before, were both right and universal. Indeed, we believed that backward beliefs and the shackles of primitive religions were the only obstacles to our mission. We were missionaries, but we couldn't understand that. Obama suffers from that, as do many in his circle. They do not understand the peculiar nature of their values. They do not understand that their values are the product of their culture, and can hardly be considered universal truths. They do not understand that the primitive and backwards peoples of the world will resist them, and forcefully so. - Eliot
""The point is that Afghanistan has got to figure out how to get along as a nation, and there have been a lot of steps toward nation building," he said. "A lot of local warlord-type leaders have been marginalized - not all of them completely."
Mr. Boucher, who is assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, also attributed some of the chatter to political jockeying ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan late next year.
"That's bringing out a little more these days - resentments and alliances between groups and talk about ethnic politics, but I think there is a stronger movement toward creating a sense of nation."
The Northern Alliance was founded by mostly Uzbek and Tajik warlords and took power after the Soviet pullout in 1989. The Taliban was formed later as a Pashtun resistance to the alliance and seized control of most of Afghanistan in 1996. The Bush administration relied on the Northern Alliance to capture northern Afghanistan in 2002. Washtimes
This kind of policy formulation is derived from an excessive exposure to political science (PS) professors at an impressionable age.
PS sells the idea that human society is evolving towards higher forms. The creed in this secular religion holds that human behavior is universal in nature in all important aspects and that apparent differences are fated to disappear as mankind and its societies develop toward higher and more general forms. The form sought by the more practical is that of national states. Some of the more visionary seek the emergence of a globalized world culture and state. PS is an idea system, that originated in the age of cultural, literary and scholarly romanticism of the 19th Century. European scholars like Durkheim and Weber reflected the same set of ideas that created romantic nationalism, marxism (a very romantic idea), belief in the "Golden Ages" of various peoples, Germans, Italians, Jews, etc. For minority group scholars like Durkheim and Weber, the notion of redefining societies within a new paradigm is always attractive. The Arab World was late to the European "Romantic Age" so the creation of paradigms like Baathism, Phalangism or the Syrian Social Party came along a bit later than the European copies of this phenomenon. For the minority member, a new paradigm that does not recognize the old one that considered you to be marginal is clearly a good thing.
These State Department types are soaked in PS. It permeates their thinking as much as it does that of the Jacobins. The Defense Department is also infested with this kind of thinking since so many military area specialists and civilian policy people have been sent to graduate school in PS and/or International Relations, a related disorder and delusion.
"Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
“I am extremely excited,” said Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the research. “These findings could be a game changer.”" NY Times
I look forward to asking to be recalled to active duty. Hah! pl
"Researchers in the US have overcome a key barrier to making nuclear fusion reactors a reality. In results published in Nature, scientists have shown that they can now produce more energy than put into igniting fuel, at least on an experimental scale. The use of fusion as a source of energy remains a long way off, but the latest development is an important step toward that goal. Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun and billions of other stars in the universe. If mastered, it could provide an unlimited source of clean energy because the raw materials are plentiful and the operation produces no carbon emissions. During the fusion process, smaller atoms fuse into larger ones releasing huge amounts of energy. To achieve this on Earth, scientists have to create conditions similar to those at the center of the Sun, which involves creating very high pressures and temperatures." Ars Technica
I find it difficult to imagine how a fusion technology could be made to work at the pressures and temperatures mentioned in the article or if the system did work how large the mechanism would have to be.
Nevertheless, the prospect of virtually unlimited energy supplies without any carbon emissions is certainly enticing. pl
"HARI SREENIVASAN: So what are the specific diseases and how did they narrow down the list of what to tackle?
MONICA LANGLEY: That’s a good question. At first the head of the N.I.H. is Francis Collins and he’s the one who sequenced – led the human genome experiment – and he wanted to map all diseases. That was his grand idea. And the drug companies were like ‘Are you crazy? We can’t think of some big experiment like that. We want something that will go into our pipeline and help us make money. So they looked at what diseases they thought were within the realm of possibility or else were what patients really wanted. And they came up with Alzheimer’s with the aging population; diabetes with the population getting fatter. And they also came up with two autoimmune diseases – rheumatoid arthritis and lupus — for this initial five-year project." Newshour
I think I will try to stick around long enough to see how this works. pl
"Moon Express recently unveiled the MX-1 spacecraft design at the Autodesk University in Las Vegas. The Mountain View, California-based company is in the commercial space race, competing for the $40-million-Google Lunar X prize. The coffee-table sized spacecraft will be powered by solar panels and hydrogen peroxide and can move about the lunar surface. Water on the lunar surface could be a "potential source of rocket fuel on the lunar surface," the company said." Nature World
I would think that it is clear that without commercial profits or at least a "break even" point with big salaries and bonuses the long term prospects for the whole space thing are dim.
I say that with great sorrow because "space" like Bigfoot is high on my personal agenda. There are lots of ore laden rocks out there and Heinlein long ago and he devised a great way to transport ;the loot" back to earth. His sociological musing about things like "line" marriages were also entertaining. pl
"On Thursday, however, CERN stopped hesitating. They’ve announced that the the particle described in July 2012 was, in fact, a Higgs Boson.
“The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” spokesperson Joe Incandela said in a statement.
To make this final determination, the dataset was analyzed to see if the quantum properties of the boson discovered in July matched the properties that are currently predicted by physics. After tests in two different detectors, it was confirmed that the particle possessed those properties." forbes
OK. I actually know a little physics, but I would like to have someone here explain the answer to my question. pl
In honor of the approach of Christmas festivities and such like that I offer this recipe which I "inherited" from a friend's grandmother down in Southside Virginia. Over the years I have tinkered with it a bit here and there and would welcome suggestions. I won't necessarily take them, but I WILL welcome them.
The culinary influence of the South seems to be growing. "Miz Paula's" show on the cooking channel is an example, but sometimes people don't know where the dishes come from.
I once had a friend (Northern) express surprise when informed that "Biscuits and Gravy" are not a new thing developed in LA. Oh, well.
Remember: After it is all cooked, including baking, put it in the refrigerator over night. It is ALWAYS served cold. SLICE IT THIN!!!!
"A country ham can be hung up in your basement indefinitely before it is
re-hydrated. Pay no attention to any signs of mold, etc.
To cook a dry-cured country ham from Madison County in God's own
Commonwealth, you first take it out of the net bag, then soak it in a
big cauldron in which the ham will be covered with cold water. You soak
it for anything from 10 to 18 hours, depending on how much salt you want
to get out of it. I would recommend about 15 or 16 hours, changing the
water 2 or 3 times.
Throw the water away, fill with new water to cover the ham. In the
water put a medium sized quartered onion studded with six or eight
cloves, a dozen black pepper corns, half a dozen Allspice berries, a bay
leaf, a quartered apple, and some cider. I would put in a cup of
Bourbon whiskey, but maybe you won't. Incidentally, the alcohol will
all cook away, so all that will be left is the taste. Bring the water
to a boil, and then reduce the heat so that the ham simmers in all this
wonderful stuff. Simmer 20 minutes a pound plus another twenty minutes
to be sure. Take it out of the pot and let cool until "just warm."
Skin it with something like a really sharp "boning" knife. Work the
blade parallel to the surface of the ham to take off the skin and then
the thick layer of fat underneath. Take the fat off in thinnish
layers. You will be surprised at how much fat there is. Be careful you
don't get into the meat underneath. The fat is translucent. The meat
is, well, not translucent. Once you get all the fat off, score the ham
lightly and stud with cloves. Coat this marvelous object with a glaze.
We use one made of real maple syrup, brown sugar, dry mustard, and a cup
of Bourbon whiskey. Remember. The alcohol will be gone after cooking.
Put the ham in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour. Let it cool
completely and you are ready to carve.
The ham has two flat sides and two curved sides. Using a very sharp ham
slicer with a long, narrow blade, slice some very thin slices off the
less curved of the two curved sides to make it flat. Then stand the ham
on that side and start carving off the more curved side. Start down
near the hock by making a vertical cut to the bone, then slice paper
thin slices, working your way toward the big end of the ham and
gradually inclining the knife so that after a while you are cutting
long, very thin slices that are six or eight inches long.
This ham will keep in the refrigerator two or three months, wrapped in
aluminum, and is an endless source of sandwiches (turkey and country ham
is one great possibility), snacks, etc. Make sure you slice it as near
to paper thin as you can manage. Otherwise, the full flavor of the ham
will overwhelm you."
"The newly released study has found that water was most likely formed on the surface of the Moon by the constant stream of charged particles ejected from the Sun. The finding “represents an unanticipated, abundant reservoir” of water on the moon, according to researchers from three U.S. universities, who formally reported their results Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience." Bell Jar
I remember this. Robert Heinlein wrote about this 60 or 70 years ago in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." In his novel, Luna has been colonised and Terra is the colonial overlord exploiting the mining products of the Loonies. The big rocks mined are filled with lithium and other rare earths. They are shot back to planet earth with a mass driver (someone will explain). The rocks land in the Pacific Ocean somewhere where they are retrieved, for...?
The inevitable revolt takes place on the moon and freedom rings forth through the maze of tunnels that these people live in. The best part of the book was the obsessive, inevitable meditation by Heinlein on the various forms of marriage among the Loonies. As a teenager this certainly seemed the most interesting part to me. The most exotic of these forms was the "line marriage." Look it up.
So now it is known that there is a lot of water of the moon. The sky is the limit. pl
At 3:44am this past Tuesday, a rocket blasted off from Cape Caneveral, Florida on a historic mission to demonstrate the ability of a commercially developed and operated transportation system to safely deliver cargo to the International Space Station. This flight is only the third flight of the Falcon 9 rocket, developed by Elon Musk’s startup Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), and the second flight of their Dragon capsule, so the tension in the atmosphere at SpaceX was understandable. The first launch attempt, last Saturday morning, was scrubbed due to a leaky check valve in the central engine’s turbopump, which was fortunately caught by the Falcon 9’s flight computer, enabling a safe abort of the engines with only half a second to spare before the planned liftoff. SpaceX was able to diagnose and repair the problem over the weekend, and was ready to go again at the next launch window, on Tuesday morning. Fortunately, the Falcon 9 delivered a flawless performance, lifting the Dragon capsule safely to orbit a little over nine minutes after liftoff. I had literally been keeping my fingers and toes crossed for the whole flight while watching things from home (my past experience in rocket testing has made me somewhat superstitious). I choked up at the reaction of the SpaceX team when the Dragon’s solar panels finally deployed. If you need some inspiration, and haven’t seen the flight footage, I’d strongly suggest watching the unedited SpaceX broadcast (launch starts at ~44:40 mark).
While those initial thrilling moments were an excellent start to a historic mission which is the culmination of nearly six years of hard work at SpaceX and NASA, the most historic portion of this mission is about to begin tomorrow morning. Over the past two days since the launch, the Dragon capsule has been slowly catching up with the space station, while performing several tests to demonstrate to NASA the capsule’s ability to safely operate near the station. Earlier this morning, the Dragon performed a maneuver that allowed it to pass only 2.5km below the station, where the picture at the beginning of this post was taken by an astronaut on board the ISS (Don Pettit, the one who will be operating the robot arm for tomorrow’s “berthing” operation). This final test verified the ability of ISS crewmembers to send commands to the Dragon, and to test the inter-vehicle communication system. With the completion of today’s tests, SpaceX has actually fulfilled all the requirements they had originally planned for their second Dragon flight. However, over the past year, SpaceX has worked with NASA to gain permission to combine the second Dragon flight with the third and final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight, where the Dragon capsule will ultimately berth with the station (using its robotic arm, controlled by astronauts on-board), cargo will be unloaded from inside the Dragon capsule, and a small amount of non-critical cargo will be loaded back into Dragon for the return flight. It is this final set of operations, which will start in the early morning hours tomorrow (around 7:30am on the east coast) and end with the hatch to the ISS being opened early Saturday morning, which will be the truly historic part of this mission—marking the beginning of service of the world’s first commercial space cargo delivery vehicle, completing SpaceX’s part in the COTS development program, and marking SpaceX’s transition into operational service as part of the Commercial Resupply Services program which it won flight contracts from at the end of 2008.
If I recall correctly, my three year old mind registered the work of the Seven Dwarves as mining?
This really appeals to the science fiction reader that I was in my youth. I read a book about this. Heinlein, right? "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?" As I recall the Moon colony (Gingrich was not yet a candidate for mayor) mined various rare earths like lithium or some such thing. They then loaded the rocks into an electrically driven rail gun, a mass driver. The ore fell in the ocean somewehere at a reasonalble depth and were recovered. Easy huh?
Actually it was the marriage customs of the moonies that really interestrd me, but, then, at that age.... pl
"Researchers reanalyzed the results of a 1976 experiment conducted by NASA’s Viking robots to detect for life on Mars. The robots picked up soil samples from the Red Planet and looked for signs of microbial metabolism. At the time, scientists concluded the Labeled Release Experiment showed geological activity, not biological.
This time, researchers distilled Viking data into sets of numbers, hoping that method could better reveal complexity. The result: Close correlations were found between the complexity of the Viking data and those of terrestrial biological data sets. The researchers say their findings show NASA’s Viking robots found biological activity after all." Washpost
A great project. Come August we will see if they get the thing down to the surface in running order. The re-entry vehicle will burn its way down to 200 miles an hour, then parachute drag down to 50 then a self contained rocket with the rover on a tether will lower it to the surface. Let us pray. pl
"The initial series of experiments, comprising 15,000 separate measurements spread out over three years, found that the neutrinos arrived 60 billionths of a second faster than light would have, travelling unimpeded over the same distance.
The idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum forms a cornerstone in physics - first laid out by James Clerk Maxwell and later incorporated into Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity." BBC
OK, science boffins, what are the implications if the CERN data proves correct? pl
""You could say it's peanuts, but it's not. It's something that we can measure rather accurately with a small uncertainty," Ereditato told The Associated Press.
If the experiment is independently repeated - most likely by teams in the United States or Japan - then it would require a fundamental rethink of modern physics." Forbes
Ahah! I knew it all the time! Einstein? There always seemed to me to be flaws in his equations.
All of us Asimov, Pournelle and Drake readers will be vindicated. I want to ship over in "Hammer's Slammers," or "Falkenberg's Legion," or maybe those Germans in one of the David Drake books, you know, the Panzer guys.
I went down to the Eastern Shore floating fish market in the Washington Channel on Maine Avenue. Captain White's is my favorite place. John "Duke" Anthony once told me that this one of the few places where you could still see the "old Washington." He should know. I bought some of this and that. A kilo of white head-on shrimp went in the bag. I am marinating the shrimp bodies to cook on the grill tonight, an east Asian marinade. My wife likes tuna steaks, so one of those for her.
I saw someone eating tempura shrimp heads on the tube a while back. This looked great. I saved those. Does anyone have a favorite recipe? pl
"Stem cell injections boosted the leg muscles of mice and warded off the typical loss of muscle mass that comes with aging.
The discovery could be useful in treating humans with degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy, as well as help everyday people prevent at least some of the ravages of time, the researchers said." Discovery
"...once he got home, the problems really started. Barnes started drinking, then smoking pot and then inhaling gas from compressed-air canisters. He crashed his car four times." Davenport
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is not a new thing. Throughout the 20th Century soldiers have been subject to blast effects from artillery, mortar fire, roadside bombs and other load noises that produce a shock wave or weapons which actually drive hard objects into one's skull.
IED's were very common in Vietnam. All roads in disputed territory had to be cleared every day and kept that way. We rode around in wheeled vehicles that had the floors packed with sandbags in a probably futile effort to mitigate blast effects.
The point? There are a lot of people out there with injuries like this from earlier wars.
Maybe this will explain why Uncle Fred was always a little strange after the war. pl
"The US government has known about the flaw since the US campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said." CSM
"That final sentence is a bit worrying, and reflects a common pitfall within the US and many other "sophisticated" armed forces: Officers and war-planners often make the mistake of assuming their enemies are dumb, and not particularly adaptable. " WSJ
Not a big deal? Maybe not except that a look at what your opponent is watching is ALWAYS useful. You may also discover that what you are doing is more visible than you thought.
The question remains why this downlink was not encrypted to begin with. I think that the CSM has it right in attributing this failure to what I would call the "Raghead" factor. This is the tendency among Americans to assume that people who are culturally different from them are also primitive. This frequently shows up as a factor in our foreign affairs and we never seem to learn. We spent several billion dollars in Iraq trying to beat the ever shifting and evolving IED challenge and found that as fast as we devloped technical counter-measures or more sophisticated surveillance platforms, the insurgents developed new IEDs. They often bought parts for their new designs on the internet electronics market, disassembling larger gadgets if necessary to get the boards, etc., that they wanted.
This blind spot seems odd in a culture (ours) that is obsessed with levelling and the rejection of the idea of elites. I suppose that the level that is sought is one that represents the lowest common denominator of US society?
We actually DO have elites. To see them, all you have to do is tune in "Morning Joe" in the AM on MSNBC to watch the elites of left and right preening in their splendid plumage.
Nothing will change. We are sure that we are smarter, more virtuous, more ingenious, have better health care, etc., than anyone else. pl
OK. Someone altered the photograph. That is interesting but not the primary curiosity about these "long and medium range missiles." To justify this description it would seem that they would have to be ballistic missiles of the Shehab series, probably Shehab 3b.
Is it not the case that ballistic missiles rise nearly vertically from the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) in the launch phase of flight?
This is a picture of the Shehab 3 on its TEL. Does this look like the TEL in the doctored photograph above?
These are photographs of the Shehab 3 in the launch phase.
I am not an expert in the field of missile technology, but the missiles in the faked photograph appear to be anti-aircraft ground to air missiles or artillery rockets. The slanted attitude of launch speaks to that. No? Anti-aircraft missiles would be a threat to aircraft, not to Israeli cities. Artillery rockets are a battlefield weapon.
If those missiles are not ballistic missiles, then several interesting questions arise:
1- Which governments are fooling around here?
2- If these are not ballistic missiles, why are the MSM propagating the implication that this photograph displays missiles that are a threat to Israel? pl
I first became interested in these about twenty years ago after watching a "Nova" production about them. They feature prominently in the old Heinlein novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as a cheap way to deliver the ore products of Lunar mining to target areas in the Pacific Ocean where they could be recovered. If you are getting the idea that I am interested in space programs, you are right.
"..And Thou Beside Me In the Wilderness." Omar Khayyam was always an odd Persian but I think he would have serious problems living with many of his present countrymen. He was a scientist and mathematician as well as a poet, but his skepticism would not have been appreciated in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
What are we to make of Iran's nuclear intentions and capabilities? Courtesy of my Alexandria neighbor, John E. Pike and the "Daily Telegraph" we have the materials shown above.
Shahab-6? 10,000 kilometers in range? "Two to three years" to weaponization?" If this is true, then Iran would hold English cities at risk. When? No one really knows how long that would take. Three years? Five years" Ten years? Nobody knows really? The Mullahs probably do not know.
Would they use the weapons? This is actually rather unimportant. As a consequence of Iranian nuclear weapons, the playing field would be leveled to a remarkable degree. T. Friedman would begin to be right about something in his vision of the future. Could we still crush Iran? Certainly, but it would probably not come to that. Rather, we would experience a marked diminution of US influence and leverage in the region, and an upsurge in the general willingness of crazies around the world to believe that we are weaker. A perception of weakness on the part of one's enemies is a dangerous thing. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other "emerging" countries would feel encouraged or threatened (choose your term) into taking similar paths. Would this danger drive these countries further into our arms? It is impossible to say, but with my usual pessimism I fear the worst.
Obviously, diplomacy and persuasion should be played out to the end, but the reactions of the Iranian government thus far are not encouraging.
People will say that this is all "cooked up" by the neocons and Bushies. I do not think that is true.