Thursday, September 25, 2008

Still Hot

It's late September - it's still bloody hot. (103 this weekend)


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Free Riders and Societies Cracks

The socialists (and social welfare democrats) are deathly afraid that someone somewhere will fall through the cracks. The problem is, when you expand the powers of governments to try to take care of people, you just make the cracks bigger, and trap more people.

The conservatives are deathly afraid that someone will get a free ride, that someone will benefit who does not "deserve" to. the problem is, when you expand the powers of govenrments to try to prevent folks from getting a free ride, you raise the cost of doing business, thus encouraging people to take the easy way.

There will ALWAYS be those who fall through the cracks
There will ALWAYS be those who get a free ride.

A libertarian understands that a free society, based upon the capitalistic principle of mutual exchange for mutual benefit, is the most effective way to reduce both problems.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oral Comprehensive Exams - Results

Well, we finnally got the results back from the physics comprehensive exams. They only took three weeks.

Written = Pass
Oral = FAIL

I'm not surprised really. See my post on being ambushed.

I of course blame the department for their inability to communicate effectively what they expected. Certainly I was not expecting an ambush on topics completely unrelated to my research. Especially when the instructions stated explicitly that the Q/A period was supposed to derive from the research presented.


The next opportunity to take the oral portion of the comps will be this January. Unfortunately this means that I can't get my masters this December, as one of the requirements is that I have passed both the Oral and Written portions of the exam.


Vin on Palin

Vin sees hope for change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dems are Rattled

Palin has the Democrats, specifically Obama's campaign staff, completely rattled. McCain was supposed to pick a nice safe old white guy for a running mate, and then go down in noble defeat. He failed to play by the script.

The Dems were completly blindsided by the pic, which explains the whole "out of nowhere" meme. If they had been paying attention, they would have noticed that Sarah Palin was in the top three pics for the right wing bloggers.

They are rattled and flailing which explaines Obama's remarks earlier. Either he is a sexist pig, or he's too stupid to see why his remark is offensive. Or my personal chioice, he's an elitist snob.

Xavier goes with the sexist pig theory, and writes better than I can anyway.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Variations of Dan Wesson

Dan Wesson manufactured some of the finest double action revolvers ever made. They ruled the metallic silhouette croud for some time. For a history of the company and the innovative features of the product see:

Because the company has gone out of business several times, much of the history has been lost. However, since I promised some folks on arfcom some detail pictures of the differences between a Monson Produced and Palmer produced Model 15 .357 Magnum Revolver, I thought I'd reproduce the post here as well.

Images should be clickable.

1) Rear Face of the Cylinder. The Monson Gun is machined such that each chamber is recessed, similar to, but quite different than the way the old Smiths were made. The Palmer gun was clearly machined in one step.

2) Rear sights. The older unit has hex adjustments, and is machined out of a single piece of bar stock, the newer unit has slotted adjustment screws, and the rear sight blade is a separate part.

3) Hammer. The Monson unit is serrated, and nicely rounded, the Palmer unit is checkered and more squared off.

Both guns together. The Palmer gun is wearing Hogue stocks.

Clearly the Monson gun has those few extra little touches that make it a bit nicer. By the serial number the Monson DW is a reasonably early gun (early 80's) and many of the changes could have been introduced before the move to Palmer.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Knowledge Seekers

So I tried to write a neo-Pagan filk song.
Yeah, I know.
The anarcho-capitalist, objectivist, phisicist, Atheist with a capitol "A" attempted to write a neo-Pagan filk song.


This is what came out instead:

The Knowledge Seekers

We are worshiping Prometheus in a new and modern way
And we light the flame of knowledge at the dawning of each day
From the largest wheeling galaxy, to the smallest grain of sand
We seek to know its measure, and we strive to understand.

Near my living room's a temple, in what some folk call a den
The walls are lined with bookcases. There's a notebook and a pen.
There's a sacrificial alter, it's called a shredder, by the door
And a stack of journal articles published the week before

We have seen the moons of Saturn, and heard the winds of Titan roar
And every day we find new things we'd never found before
The sun's missing neutrinos, water on the Moon and Mars
Or another planet orbiting about another distant star.

The universal building blocks we have cataloged in rows
And we've set them into columns, their secrets to expose
We sing a hymn to chemistry, our hearts and minds sublime
And we'll build a shrine to knowledge one atom at a time.

We've mapped the gods' blueprint for live, charted our DNA
Produced vaccines and medicines to keep the ancient scourge at bay
We learn, and craft experiments, peel mysteries away
Until like gods ourselves we shall make life itself one day.

We have delved the realm of atoms, split the nucleus in twain.
Knowledge is like a Genie; you can't put it back again.
A tool is what you make of it; it is neither good nor bad.
Though we may pray for greater wisdom, than the gods have ever had.

We are the knowledge seekers, and we seek to know it all
Know the universe itself down to each particle so small
And if learning is a journey, well our feet are on the road.
And we thank the god of knowledge, and the fire he bestowed.

Final Chorus:
We are worshiping Prometheus in a new and modern way
And we light the flame of knowledge at the dawning of each day
From the largest wheeling galaxy, to the smallest grain of sand
We seek to know its measure, and we strive... we strive... to understand.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Alien Space Bats in Scottdale

Well not really... But we did have S. M. Stirling in town today for a book signing at the Poisoned Pen. Stirling's latest book, The Scourge of God, was released on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I ordered my copy from Amazon and, thanks to hurricane Gustav, it is still sitting in Georgia somewhere. That's the Georgia next to Alabama, not Russia, for those of you who are wondering.

The Poisoned Pen is a nice independent locally owned bookstore in old town Scottsdale. The specialize in mysteries, but have a variety of authors come through.
If you are local, it's worth a visit.

Steve read a short passage from The Sword of the Lady from his Kindle, and answered a few questions from the crowd. There were only a dozen or so fans there, so I managed to get 5 books signed.

He was rather funny and engaging, it would be nice to get him as a Guest of Honor at one of the local cons. Last week at CopperCon would have been perfect, but the latest book was released the day AFTER the con.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Speech

I have to say, I like Sarah Palin.

It was a very good speech. Not out of the ballpark, but definately someone you want batting for your team.

It was well delivered. It was snarky without being vitriolic. After the smear campaign of the past several days from the Dems and their media lapdogs they could have gone very negative. Instead they chose to use humor to give both Obama and the media some well deserved smackdown.

Palin has that Reagan touch of being able to be negative and funny at the same time, the Dems (especially after this weekend) have shown that they are only capable of slime.

I know it's not the function of the VP's speech, but I would have liked to see a bit more policy, especially energy policy, as that is Palin's strong suit. It's clear the delegates adore her. Some of them are probably thinking they have the ticket upside down.

Traditionally the VP speech is supposed to do 3 things:

1) Introduce yourself. Let the people, and the party know who you are.

2) Talk up your presidential candidate

3) Bash on the opposition.

Biden is in for trouble in the VP debate.

Monday, September 1, 2008


John McCain may have just won the election. He has been ahead in the polls for a week or two, but picking Sarah Palin could be the nail in the Democratic coffin.

The main stream media is going to spin this as a ploy for Hillary Voters. This is only partially true. The democrats won't admit it, but they do pay "identity" politics. And nominating a female VP will pull some of those voters away from the Obama/Biden ticket. My guess is that most of those voters will be too young to remember Geraldine Ferraro.

The real reason to pick Palin is three fold.

1) She excites the base. The "clinging to their guns and God" crowd is absolutely giddy. The folks who were saying "McCain 08, because I love my country more than I hate John McCain" are doing the little happy dance. Palin gives the religious right someone to vote FOR, instead of just against the other guy. Same for the Gunnies. The pro 2nd amendment crowd does not trust McCain, and they never will. Palin goes Moose hunting for God's sake.

2) Executive experience. It would be a lot better if she were a 2nd term governor instead of a 1st termer. Regardless, she has more executive experience than McCain, Obama, and Biden combined.

3) Energy and the economy. This election is not going to turn on Iraq. It is going to turn on the economy and energy. Palin spearheaded the construction of the largest natural gas pipeline in the country. One that when finished will provide Billions of cubic feet of Natural gas. Palin comes from Alaska, and Alaskans overwhelmingly want to drill in the barren wasteland that is ANWR.

This country needs a comprehensive energy plan. That means:
Drill here, drill now.
More nuclear plants
Solar Thermal
Distributed Solar Voltaic

It also means cutting government spending. McCain has been a hawk on Pork and Earmarks, but Palin actually has a record of cutting government waste. Also of exposing government corruption. (Democratic AND Republican corruption)

4) Last, whether you like her or not, folks like Palin are the future of the GOP. I already hear people calling for a Palin/Jindal ticket in 2012. These folks are giddy. And again, they are doing the happy dance.