Friday, February 26, 2010

The wrong way to eat an elephant

There's an old expression that goes something like this: "What's the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time." That, of course, would be as opposed to trying to swallow the whole thing at once, which is effectively what Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to do in their comprehensive health care reform efforts.

The problems with health care (and there are problems) are a collection of separate issues, each of which can be fixed independently of the others. So why not eat this elephant one bite at a time by crafting focused, targeted, separate pieces of legislation to address each one?

Over the course of a couple of years we'd see noticeable, incremental improvements for millions of Americans. Instead, Democrats want to make history by passing sweeping, pork-laden legislation and as a result, either nothing at all will get done, or all the wrong things will get done.

This is stupidity, narcissism and hubris on display on a grand scale.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Axelrod: Gee, wouldn't it be great if Obama was a dictator?

In this New York Times piece bemoaning Barack Obama's lack of forcefulness in pushing his agenda, White House senior advisor David Axelrod is caught wishing Obama was Commandante and Absolute Supreme Dictator...or something:
I would love to live in a world where the president could snap his fingers or even twist arms and make change happen, but in this great democracy of ours, that’s not the way it is.
One might almost think he uses the phrase "great democracy" derisively.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Important physics discovery

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has now identified with certainty the heaviest element known to science.

The new element, Pelosium (PL), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Pelosium is inert, and has no charge and no magnetism. Nevertheless, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Pelosium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

Pelosium has a normal half-life of 2 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a biennial reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

Pelosium mass will increase over time, since each reorganization will promote many morons to become isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Pelosium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Pelosium becomes Senatorium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Pelosium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

H/T to my friend Jim, who e-mailed this to me the other day.

Coalition of the Swilling links. Thanks for the link, Mr. Bingley!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why do we need an envoy to a religion?

A tweet from Jake Tapper caught my eye this morning in which he said in part "POTUS to name new envoy to Muslim world" and linked to this item on his Political Punch blog.
President Obama will make some news in his video address to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar today, sources tell ABC News, announcing a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

With 57 member states on four continents, the OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations. It bills itself as "the collective voice of the Muslim world" working to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people [But by no means ALL the people! --ed.] of the world."
All editorial snark aside, what is it about Islam that compels us to provide an "envoy" to a religion? Yeah, I'm aware that we have diplomatic relations with the Holy See in Vatican City, but that's an established city-state with nominal membership in the United Nations. If we have envoys to the Buddhist or Episcopalian worlds, I'm unaware of them.

Tapper points out in his piece that this isn't new with the Obama administration. George W. Bush appointed the first envoy to the OIC in 2007.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gadget review: iFeelU EX2 "Body-sonic" Headphones

I came across this product in a pretty odd way. I just got back from a trip through Asia (my excuse for no blogging lately!), and my last stop was Seoul, Korea. While out for drinks and dinner there one night with a co-worker, I got into a conversation with a Mr. Alex SM Han, CEO of iFeelU, a Korean consumer electronics company. He had me try out a pair of these headphones, and after listening for a couple minutes through my BlackBerry's media player, I was sold.

What makes these different from other conventional in-the-ear headphones is the way they deliver bass effects -- they literally rattle the little bones in your ears. What's even weirder about them is that there's no battery or other external power source. The, um, vibrators are powered by the sound source. Holding them in your hand, you can actually feel them vibrating, which feels kind of strange at first in your ears.

This Gizmodo article inexplicably claims that for music, these headphones "suck balls". I beg to differ. I found the sound quality -- particularly the bass -- to be fantastic. The date of the article corresponds to right around the date of the product launch (May 2008), so who knows...maybe improvements were made since then. I also used them for the in-flight movies on the 13-hour flight back from Seoul, and was very satisfied with the sound quality. Oh, did I mention Mr. Han gave me a set? He did. Very nice man, that Mr. Han.

The phones fit comfortably in the ears, and there are two simple dials on the in-line control labeled SPK and VIB. SPK controls the basic volume, while VIB controls the bass (amount of vibration).

The Gizmodo article says the product is expected to launch in the US "soonish" and retail for around $40, but I haven't seen them yet. But if I understood Mr. Han correctly, start looking for them at CostCo in the coming months.