Monday, March 10, 2008

Strolling through the news

John McCain adds to what, to any thinking person, must already be a severe over-burden of reasons to not want him within miles of the White House, by stating in public:

"It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children.The question is, What’s causing it? And we go back and forth, and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines."
George Bush doesn't know that gas is expensive, and John McCain seems right up there with him in Olympic-level ignorance.

(If you're wondering whatever happened to that proposed "science debate" among the candidates, the idea may still be alive but its web site seems dead.)

Home-schooling parents are "in shock" over a California ruling that they require valid teaching credentials. You mean you need to be a qualified teacher to teach? Huh. 'Nother goddam commie idea. Believe that and next thing you know, someone will expect you to know something about what you're teaching. Stinkin' Reds.

Daylight Savings Time: it's not just a colossal pain in the ass to everyone--it also defeats its own purpose! Yes, friends, DST actually causes more energy use, not less. So do you suppose your friendly neighborhood government will now stop making us all wander around in the dark for the presumed benefit of the seven family farmers left in America? Right, sure.

It begins to look like the Democrats will have a sort of "do-over" in Florida and Michigan, presumably by mail-in voting (which is a bad idea, but is the way a lot of states do normal business now anyway, mine--Washington--included). So do we suppose this will especially benefit one candidate over the other? Probably not much, though Clinton did well in very Florida, which is no surprise as the older the voter the more likely he or she will go for Clinton, and she did well in Ohio, which has a lot of similarities to Michigan.

But the bottom line throughout has been that it has been crystal clear for weeks now that neither candidate is going to go to the convention with enough "pledged" delegates to take the prize. All the newspaper/TV bull about who "won" this or that state is so much silliness aimed at the 7-year-old mental level of the average voter. In the Democratic Party's voting system, no one walks away with any big excess of delegates, no matter how thoroughly the vote count seems to suggest a blowout--and few if any of these states have been blowouts for anyone, anyway. If that were not the case, Hillary would have had it all locked away after California.

Another day, another folly.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Veeery interesting . . .

In the last round of major Democratic primaries (Texas and Ohio, et alia) the closer to election day that the voter had decided on a candidate, the more likely that the candidate chosen was Clinton.

Barack Obama continues to win caucuses in mighty states like Wyoming, but cannot carry a primary in a major state. Lookit, if you haven't looked lately, the Wyomings of this nation do not select its presidents--the big, industrial, high-population states do. You know: the ones Hillary Clinton wins, usually big. What a farce it all is.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is a puzzlement

I happen to run a web site called The Induction Site, which is about the principles of induction-powered cooking, and also about the equipment now available. The thing that endlessly fascinates me about this subject is that induction is so clearly superior to all other methods, and has been in common (and even so still growing) use throughout most of the world for years if not decades, but is still almost unknown in the western hemisphere.

That is changing now. In making a new page for the site, I realized for the first time that the count of residential--as opposed to those for commercial use--cooktops available here has now reached, as best I recall (I am not at my main computer just now) about 40, counting 4 announced but not on the market till the big trade home-and-bath appliance trade show in April.

The roster includes both familiar domestic brands, from Sears to General Electric, as well as the European makers such as Miele and Siemens and Bosch. Mind, it is remarkable how the units available in the U.S. typically cost close to double what the same units, or ones very like them, retail for in the U.K. and on the Continent. But that in good part is because, despite the plethora of brands involved, this is still a technology being marketed to "early adaptors", who are typically upscale and both willing and able to pay prices above the norm.

That will doubtless change in time; as the American public gets used to the idea, the goods will become more nearly commodities, just as the basic "slide-in" 30-inch electric-coil range is today. Prices will drop, though probably so will quality a bit. The Chinese are already well geared-up, and numerous factories there (all claiming ISO 9001 certification) are ready to supply the world with lower-cost units as soon as the demand materializes.

But back at the crux, which is why I raised the topic at all: why has it taken so long for this to happen here? Americans are supposed to be gadget-happy, always ready to jump at any "hi-tech" anything. Is that so, or is it just an affection for toys and gadgets? Are we really pretty conservative when it comes to the bread-and-butter components of our world, from cars to stoves? I suspect so. There was a sort of "Phase I" stage here some, oh, ten or twenty years ago, when makers like Sears and GE first tried to introduce induction units. They weren't as fancy and high-powered as today's "Phase II" lines are, but they were [plenty good enough--we're still today using one of the early Sears Kenmore units.

Looking at all the advantages (which I won't recite here--you can visit the site), one wonders why this stuff didn't, even back then, just wipe everything else off the map. Cooking with anything but induction will, I suspect, in a fairly short time, come to look like cooking with a coal stove today looks.

Well, it's an interesting question.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The winds of fate

The winds of fate blow strange. Why does this author become famous, and that--held by those who trouble to read him or her as at least as good--wither into obscurity?

Here, in its entirety, is the story "The Assignation" by Lord Dunsany (who himself has faded from fame, he who once had several plays at once on Broadway), from the superb collection of 51 bijoux tales called The Food of Death:

Fame singing in the highways, and trifling as she sang, with sordid adventurers, passed the poet by.

And still the poet made for her little chaplets of song, to deck her forehead in the courts of Time; and still she wore instead the worthless garlands, that boisterous citizens flung to her in the ways, made out of perishable things.

And after a while whenever these garlands died the poet came to her with his chaplets of song; and still she laughed at him and wore the worthless wreaths, though they always died at evening.

And one day in his bitterness the poet rebuked her, and said to her: "Lovely Fame, even in the highways and the byways you have not foreborne to laugh and shout and jest with worthless men, and I have toiled for you and dreamed of you and you mock me and pass me by."

And Fame turned her back on him and walked away, but in departing she looked over her shoulder and smiled at him as she had not smiled before, and, almost speaking in a whisper, said:

"I will meet you in the graveyard at the back of the Workhouse in a hundred years."
I cannot resist adding one other of the tales from that literally marvellous book (also known by the title Fifty-One Tales), owing to how very much it manages to say in how little space; it is entitled "What We Have Come To":
When the advertiser saw the cathedral spires over the downs in the distance, he looked at them and wept.

"If only," he said, "this were an advertisement of Beefo, so nice, so nutritious, try it in your soup, ladies like it."
Sad to say, though Lord Dunsany at least had his time in the sun, who remembers him today? Or Hope Mirrlees and her peculiar gem of a novel Lud-in-the-Mist? Ah, Fame and Fate: what a couple they make.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Just saying hello

I don't know if I can continue trying to hold to the pace of a blog post a day. It was fun there for a while, but--as with so many others--I discover that done properly it eats my life.

I maintain (or, more correct, try to maintain) about a dozen web sites, some of which are in the top Google ranking for their topics. Each of those sites, done properly, would be about a full-time task, so you can see that necessarily none of them is being done properly. To add, in effect, yet another site was not wise.

Well, we'll see how I feel tomorrow. Today I am not only exhausted mentally and physically, but still dealing with a lingering cold-or-whatever-it-is, which drags even more.

OK, ok, you're tired of my groans. Truth to tell, so am I.

Hasta manana.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Sunday slop

(The earlier entry for "today" was really Saturday's post, but it didn't get put up till shortly after midnight; this the Sunday post.)

Continuing a thought from the last post, we find this headline on an article in the Los Angeles Times: Drift away from Clinton frustrates many women. It expresses the distress--often sheer anger--that many women have with those other females who are, as one put it, "running to the rock star, to the momentum, to the excitement". But as Robin Morgan put it in an essay that is rapidly becoming what one can only call famous, that is nuts.

Morgan reserved her greatest ire for women who decline to support Clinton "while wringing their hands because Hillary isn't as likable as they've been warned they must be. . . . Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms. Perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She's running to be president of the United States."
But of course it's all part of the modern American philosophy of life-and-death as game-show choices.

I like another comment on the topic, this from Tina Fey:
"[W]omen have come so far as feminists that they don't feel obligated to vote for a candidate just because she is a woman. Women today feel perfectly free to make whatever choice Oprah tells them to."
Elsewhere . . . .

The Washington Post reports that Banking Fees Are Rising And Often Undisclosed; hey, just because it's against the law not to, did you really expect them to tell you what it's going to cost? Silly person.

And finally on this short Sunday, we turn to things large than politics and money. The discussion still continues about life on other worlds, and the Drake Equation, and Frank Drake is still in the discussion.

Too little, maybe too late

So finally they're getting around to noticing:

So, like, where the bleep have you all been before this? Sleeping?

Look, here, at Andrea Mitchell of NBC, a key example of the problem:
“Part of it is her campaign’s fault,” Andrea Mitchell, the longtime NBC political correspondent, said backstage at the MSNBC debate in Cleveland in Tuesday. “They started with this notion of inevitability. And they were very arrogant.”
Excuse me?!?

You, the mainstream media, on whom altogether too many Americans rely for information, decide how to present a candidate's credentials for the highest office in the known universe based--admittedly based--on how your little egos were or were not stroked?

Holy Moly, is it any wonder we're where we are today? Rhetorical question, answer to which is NO.