Monthly Archives: August 2007

Larry Gets Curly with Officer Moe

As soon as you have to explain how your “wide stance” while pooping shows that you were not propositioning an under cover police officer in a Minneapolis restroom your politcal career is over. Especially in Idaho.

Between Foley, Haggard and Craig we have three fifths of The Republican Village Prople: Foley is The Empty Suit, Haggard is The Evangelical, Craig is The Cranky Old Guy…. Perhaps Mary Cheney could be The Draft Deferment Baby.

Class Warfare

Why doesn’t the government just step in and take over all of the ARMs that are causing people to foreclose to solve the mortgage crisis and leave them with their same payment?

Oh, wait. That’s not the mortgage crisis. The mortgage crisis is that stupid peons who wanted a house (that American dream thing) and couldn’t read the fine print are defaulting and its causing hedge funds to go broke and making it hard for people who invested in those stupid peons’ mortgages to make any money off of them.

Silly me. I forgot. And the government’s not even handling that. The Fed, you see, isn’t really part of the government–it’s basically a private bank. And I read today that the Fed might not even give a shit about this.

You see, it’s a crisis when Wall Street is in trouble; not Main Street. Cue the preachy “personal responsibility” talking points; cue the “I don’t want my taxes to bailout people who made dumb loans” rhetoric. All of those rules that apply to you and me, but not the financial companies and investors who create the game.

Of course there is merit in the point that a Wall Street meltdown impacts far more people than just the people who made the bad investments or the bad loans. That’s true. But if we are giving people access to financial weapons of mass destruction and they are unsafely playing with them, the consequences should be severe.

Maybe they should lose their house.

The Move to Linux

I’ve been using computers for 25 years, at least. I’m somewhat of an expert.

Which is why it’s frustrating that it took me all day to get what is supposed to be the easy Linux up and running with full functionality. I like Ubuntu a lot, and it ran wonderfully as a virtual machine, but running it on the bare metal presented a few problems.

On my standard, bought at Costco HP laptop, here were the things I noted:

(1) Couldn’t automatically get my nVidia drivers installed. wtf?
(2) Installed touchpad driver automatically, but not control panel for it. wtf?
(3) Doesn’t come with the standard c and c++ libraries installed. This is UNIX?
(4) Keeps trying to read the install CD for packages, and won’t stop until I text edit a file.
(5) It’s still a pain in the ass to install software sometimes. Everything should be GUI installable, no matter which Linux you have.

There is still simply too much text file editing and command line mode stuff for this to be ready for prime time. You almost never have to touch the command line in Mac OS X, yet it’s just as much of a UNIX–more even–than Linux.

Keep working, Ubuntu–you’re almost there.

The Verdict on Vista is In

I’ve been using Microsoft Vista on a test system for over a year now, and in a production setting since about a month before the official release. I have also been using Microsoft Office 2007 for a similarly long period of time.

I strongly dislike both. First, I will explain my gripes; second, I’ll say what this means for Microsoft and the computer world.

Much of what Office had going for it was that almost everybody has been using Word for 15 years, and the other apps in it for almost as long. PowerPoint is essentially a way of life for some people. So it took a lot of balls for MS to completely change the interface on these programs and make people relearn them. I wonder how many people took that opportunity to give the free OpenOffice a shot? Furthermore, MS has to maintain a critical mass of users, because if a truly open document standard ever became the de facto standard, Microsoft would have to compete.

Even in my office, where we do not use Word as our main production software, we have it because most of our clients use it. If letter-perfect imports worked on any word processor, I would not use Word, I like OpenOffice Writer fine. I would use Keynote instead of PowerPoint.

Outlook, though, is still where it’s at. Until somebody comes up with a similar pushy folder-based hotsynced solution to things, Exchange for all of its clunkiness is still what I prefer, though I am starting to prefer off-site management for that. If I keep it onsite, Exchange will run in a VM, and I probably will never move to 2007 server.

What I can’t believe is that Outlook 2007 handicaps HTML e-mail. E-mail as an application in general is broken badly because of spam. HTML e-mail presents some security issues, but only if your HTML rendering engine is vulnerable. Since Outlook use(d) Internet Explorer to do that, naturally it is. (I believe it now uses Word.) That’s cutting of your nose to spite your face.

But this biggest problem is, there is no feature of Word that’s been added since 97 that I actually use. Every new license was in hopes that there was some real improvement, but it’s never materialized.

That’s a perfect segue to Windows, which has not improved much at all since Windows 2000. Forcing game manufacturers to use their 3D solution and making Windows XP was nice to unify the platform, but this is still a VMS legacy OS that, by its nature, isn’t really all that great. Vista is just more of the same with a ton of inefficient bells and whistles that suck up computer resources in an effort to get you to buy more hardware.

Vista’s Aero is pastiche of Mac’s Quartz, and the window manager is a ripoff of Mac’s Aqua. Why, then, on the same machine does Mac OS X boot in 15 seconds and Vista in 2.5 minutes? Why does the screen struggle in Vista and pop in OS X? (Dell Inspiron 9100 512mb, 3.2MHz Prescott Pentium IV, ATI Mobile Radeon 9700 128mb)

Because Vista wastes resources to get you to buy more hardware, the same way that new version numbers without features or killer apps get you to buy new versions of Windows and Office. It doesn’t really do more. It doesn’t help you get work done faster. Yet Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux, and *BSD can deliver on most of what Vista was supposed to be in the first place, and Mac has it all. Leopard will have even more.

For these reasons I am moving away from any Windows platform as my default production environment. For most of my machines, it will be Ubuntu Linux. When I need Windows for Windows only applications, like Outlook or the Oxford English Dictionary, I’ll pull up an XP virtual machine. I will do the same on my Macs. If there ever comes a point where Vista is required for any of these things, I will do the same. With no data on the VM, if something goes wrong with it, I just restore it to its fresh state.

The fundamental point here is that Microsoft cannot compete in a fair marketplace. Its products are inferior and money wasting. If open standards ever do take over in office apps, and especially in e-mail (something beyond the aged POP and IMAP), they’re done.

I am not an Apple evangelist. I dropped the Mac like a bad habit in 1995 when it no longer made sense to run their old OS on expensive hardware that didn’t run enough programs. I also wasn’t a fan of Linux until recently, with Ubuntu. Linux’s creator Linus is running around criticizing the desktop interface on Linux because he can’t customize it enough. He might be a great coder, but he’s a marketing idiot. Mac OS X shows a unix system can avoid the command line 99.9% of the time. If Linux ever can do that–and they’re getting close with Ubuntu–their market share will explode. I also feel that Linux’s architecture isn’t as sound as BSD, but in situations mostly only relevant to non-desktop applications. BSD and Solaris lack enough apps and hardware support to enter this race as non-niche competitors, but I like them both a lot.

Al Qaeda Is No Longer The Biggest Threat To The US

It’s not as if the Bush administration ever took al Qaeda to be the biggest threat to the US, August 6, 2001, warnings aside. Even after the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden was pursued with less than post-Pearl Harbor fury. Instead of sending in the army or marines immediately, the CIA was sent in and basically relied on drug/warlords to pursue AQ and OBL. After the fact, the country did not implement the 9/11 commissions recommendations until this year, still has porous security in most aspects, and has done anything of substance to combat terrorism. Indeed, the problem has only been exacerbated by subsequent events.

But even assuming for the sake of the argument that there was a time when AQ was the biggest threat, that time has passed. It has been six years since a stateside operation. Meanwhile, we are bogged down in Iraq, the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Pakistanis still have nuclear arsenals capable of making 9/11 look like a traffic accident.

Yet, we have done almost nothing since 9/11 to move the ball forward in the nuclear proliferation realm, other than out a CIA agent working on it for political reasons, and invade a country that was not actually working on a nuclear program.

Remember what Condi Rice said: we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. Truer words were never spoken in a falser context.

Iraq is the commonality that prevents progress on all of these fronts.

Worst Blog Post of the Week

And the winner is: Lisa Wade at the Huffington Post. Her insanely titled post “Knocked Up: Misogynist Dope-Smoking Morons Know That Abortion is Wrong. . . Do You?”

Dr. Wade, I don’t know what the weather is like on your planet, but this is not a conclusion I drew from watching that movie: “Our objection is this: Knocked Up is not just a silly movie, it’s pro-life ideology disguised by dick jokes.” No, you are not reading a quote from The Onion. This is serious.

According to Dr. Wade:

Knocked Up and pro-life activists share the idea that it is always better to raise a child than have an abortion. We learn this from the movie because they (1) associate a pro-abortion stance with unlikable characters (such as the pregnant woman’s mother) and (2) romanticize a man’s choice to be a father after going (way) out of their way to demonstrate that he is a terrible candidate for fatherhood.

I’m left in the ironic position of having to speak on what is 90% a women’s issue to a woman. First, it’s quite obvious from reading this that, Dr. Wade has herself never faced the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy, or, if she has she faces so much subconscious guilt from it that she sees everything in that frame.

The decision to have a baby is not a political one. I have yet to hear of anyone who said, “Gee, I am going to have an abortion because I’m a liberal, just to demonstrate my politics.” People that find abortion wrong don’t bear the child as a political act either, but as a moral one. If you believe, as I do, that abortion is the correct choice in some circumstances, you do not factor your politics into that decision. You consider your ability to be a parent, your ability to, perhaps, stay with the other parent, your financial means, the health or potential health defects of the child, and you also consider where you are in your life and your personality.

But I don’t think you check your voter registration card. And just because there isn’t anything morally or legally wrong with making that choice doesn’t make it easy. You will live with some guilt for your entire life. Not, necessarily–though for some–because you believe you committed a murder, but because you get a glimpse of a certain future, of you and the other parent and the child having a life together, of being happy, of wathcing the child grow up and go to school, and marry and have its own kids. You lose that vision. You lose it, hopefully, because you know it’s bullshit, and the true vision you are looking at is one of strife and ruin, and, if you’re lucky, just a lot of therapist bills.

Dr. Wade is a sociologist. She should stick to her day job, because she’s dreadfully bad at literary/film criticism. The movie was not about pregnancy–it was the classic tale of a ne’er-do-well getting his shit together, the tale of growing up. The rest was window dressing. Once the decision was made to sketch the story as such, the rest just follows. (How funny is an abortion? The going to the hospital scenes are usually the funniest in any pregnancy movie. Even Seth Rogen is not ready to make aborted fetus humor.)

Seth Rogen is not part of the vast right wing conspiracy. Give me a break. The unlikeable characters were aganst the pregnancy because they represented the judgment that Seth Rogen’s character was a loser incapable of change. The people he had to prove wrong. If we’re supposed to accept the loserdom of all movie characters, then we lose the fantasy of fiction, and movies and literature are pointless. The point is they are not our life.

Dr. Wade probably eats at restaurants that advertise “home cookin’.” Me, personally, I want something I can’t get when I go out. Something different than normal life. Same with my movies.

STFU: Elissa Harris-Lacewell (sp?)

I usually count on Republicans to say stupid shit that makes me pissed. I almost never expect it on Bill Moyer’s Journal.

But when Ms. Princeton professor opined that Katrina was more important than Iraq–not in a metaphorical, search for our national soul kind of way (with which I would still disagree)–but in an honest, serious, future implication concrete way.

You have to be fucking kidding me. Ms. Lacewell made a lot about her black heritage (she mentioned it about as many times as Rudy mentions 9/11), but it pretty much sounded to me like that’s all she cared about. I am not making light of Katrina, but Iraq is a incipient genocide of almost 1m people created by our willful choice, not our negligence. It is several orders of magnitude grander in scale, just in terms of deaths. It is an event that has destabilized the entire world–billions, not hundreds of thousands. Iraq, I believe, is the beginning of the end of Greater America. This would be similar to me saying that the bridge collapse in Minneapolis is worse than Katrina. It too was bad, and reflects a lot of bad shit about America, but it’s scope and scale are minuscule compared to Katrina.

As if that wasn’t self-centered, ethnocentric, ignorant, and narrow enough, she went on to blame the Democrats for making Iraq the most important issue instead of Katrina.

Never mind that that’s what people FELT was important! No, they should have taken Katrina more seriously.

That Democrats-aren’t-doing-good-enough shit is the same thing that’s elected every Republican since Nixon, and they do worse. When we had Clinton, every natural disaster and terrorist attack was responded to, places were rebuilt, and people were prosecuted (even executed) without repealing our Constitution. But, hey, they passed welfare reform, so let’s elect Republicans. That’s the logic of a spoiled brat child.

If you’re so politically naive, then don’t talk politics.

Yellow Dog Democrats

Long before the cartoonish “Blue Dogs” there were the Yellow Dog Democrats, which stemmed from the notion that “a Southerner would vote for a yellow dog before voting for a Republican.”

I count myself among those. I think there is a profound sense of Yellow Dogness right now. This time four years ago, people were very strongly aligned into the Dean camp, or the early Kerry camp, or even Joe-mentum. These days, I don’t see nearly the polarization.

The blogosphere can’t seem to accept Hillary. She and Edwards (the blogs’ fave) voted for the war. Obama was against it, but has only been in the Senate for two years. Bill Richardson has qualifications, but makes too many blunders to seem viable. Kucinich and Gravel are for comic effect, for the most part. Dodd and Biden are on ego trips.

But I don’t even care at this point who it is, among those. Yellow Dogs would be preferable for me.

I hope the candidates see this before they get in too many more of these negative spats, and, I hope they realize that they need to win Super Tuesday, not Iowa, and not New Hampshire. I predict after this year, those early states will lose relevance. It’s about time.

Karl Rove Goes To Disneyland FoxWorld!

KARL ROVE, YOU’VE RUINED AMERICA’S CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?

I’m going to Disneyland! FoxWorld!

Yes, kids, that’s right FOXWORLD! At FOXWORLD you can enjoy a whole different kind of ride–rides that are anything but “Fair & Balanced” Rides like …

EXTREME RENDITION – Pilot a secret CIA flight to puppet nations while dodging violently to avoid the airspace of nations that respect human rights!

MINUTEMAN ADVENTURE – Shoot as many terrorist aliens as possible on this madcap adventure in the desert!

BILL O’REILLY’S SHOUTDOWN – You and a friend try to shout each other down using a bunch of nonsense in front of a tiny audience. Be careful — animatronic Bill might cut your mike if you start sounding like a terrorist sympathizer!

Also, don’t miss BILL’S FALAFEL STANDS, located throughout the park in place of those silly ethnic churro stands at other parks!

SEAN HANITY’S ABORTION DOCTOR ASSASSINATION – Hide inside a building on our Fox movie set and try to gun down the animatronic abortion murderer.

ALAN COLMES WHIP RIDE — Take your beatings like a (wo)man from our army of professional whip operators, and feel the pain coming to liberal scum!

THE DISCRIMINATOR – On this ride, you will get to deny jobs to homosexuals and other undesirables–or, if you’re a lucky Golden ticket holder, you can play St. Peter and send them straight to hell!

All this and more at FOXWORLD! Coming soon to a red state near you!

Endeavour

For my parents, the defining moment of space exploration was the moon landing. Especially for m father who worked directly on the Apollo project. You almost have to wonder if the boiling over of the 60s wasn’t cooled by the sheer wonder of that single event.

For GenXers like me, it was the Challenger disaster. Both represented extreme poles of hope in space exploration. In the wake of Apollo, movies predicted moon bases and manned missions to Jupiter by the turn of the century.

After Challenger, it became clear that Apollo wasn’t the beginning of the Golden Age of space exploration–it was the end. Sure, there were a few neat images coming back from planetary probes, but there were also a number of blunders.

My hypothesis has been that after the invention of the microchip, human technology came to focus on the small instead of the large. Thus, world-wide communications, the Internet, and computing devices. These things are all probably much more powerful now than a futurologist in 1970 would have expected, but we are far behind in the space race.

When the Columbia was lost, to me it was a symbol of the further downfall of the US from its Golden Age. No one in 1969 would have expected that in 2007 we were still using 30 year old space shuttles (sure–Endeavor is somewhat newer) any more than they would still have been using P-51s in the Air Force in 1974. And they should have stopped there.

Now, there is a hole in Endeavor. The same kind of hole that killed Columbia. We’ll see how it works out, but as they said in one sci-fi flick, I have a very bad feeling about this.

If there was one good thing to come out of the Bush Administration, it was the more appropriate use of the military-industrial complex to reinvigorate space exploration. Going back to the moon by 2020 is something I look forward to seeing.

Clinton's Biggest Mistake

It wasn’t anything involving a blue dress. It was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. At this point, it is probably in the constellation of economic-historical facts that the conflicts of interest created by the Act’s repeal were a necessary cause of the Enron debacle.

And now, I think there’s a non-trivial case to be made that the current liquidity problems, and micro-panics in the market are connected as well.

Inflation and Baby Boomer Moral Hazard

Check out this HuffPo piece by David Goldstein, entitled “Fuck Inflation.” It may not be the most scholarly piece on the Fed and its policies, but it is right on. Inflation is good for debtors–which is why the people in charge of the Fed hate it. (It’s bad for creditors and people who live off interest instead of income, i.e., the ruling class.)

Once upon a time, the Fed was dedicated not only to the Supply-side theory of absolute inflation containment, unleashed by Paul “Double Digit” Volcker, and was also concerned with full employment. Of course, it is not immediately apparent anymore that inflation would actually help the working/debtor class in an era so bereft of any leverage on the employee’s side. It might just mean more poverty. Somehow, though, I think if that went too far it would escalate a revolution if too many entitlement-feeling middle class folks were poverty-stricken.

What happened in the 1970s–when the middle class came to accept the War on Inflation–was what economists might call a “moral hazard.” There was a bout of serious inflation, which, in many cases, such as California, the response was a massive bailout by the state on the backs of younger generations.

Those who owned property before, say, 1975, have simultaneously seen a skyrocketing increase in their property values, coupled with cheap borrowing on that property in recent years allowing them to use their houses as banks. The rest of us have to figure out clever ways to purchase homes, such as the now infamous subprime mortgage.

It won’t take too many breakdowns like Jim Cramer’s before the nation’s financial establishment bails itself out yet again, even if it means higher taxes on the riches poseurs who rely on high incomes (as opposed to the truly wealthy who own and collect capital gains), even if it means Volck-you style austerity for a time, and, god forbid, (I believe) even if it means that they need another Democrat to come in to absorb the blame for the tax increases.

Meanwhile, most of us will keep writing our mortgage checks, waiting for the sky to fall.

Adoption Part II: Chewing the Fat with Sharks

Felled by strep’s recent hostile takeover of my tonsils and throat I took in a big chomp of this year’s “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel while awaiting for penicillin to rally my white blood cells to reclaim the interior of my neck.

This year’s fetishized display of danger science featured the exploration of “Tonic Immobility;” the discovery that certain sharks, especially “playful” mature females, will enter a state of complete relaxation and near sleep if appropriately rubbed on the nose or, with smaller sharks, turned upside down. The show featured a South African scientist who tried to incite “Tonic” (short for catatonic, I suspect) on increasingly larger sharks. This culminated with a few seconds of Tonic in a great white, who then preceeded to submissively display its belly to the scientist and then allowed him to ride her — by holding on to her dorsal fin while she swam — for a full minute.

According to the various divers that go about such communication with sharks the sharks experience a gamut of emotions from embarassment, to happiness, to anger, to pride and even depression. Likewisem the sharks know when their hominid playmate is having a good day or a bad day. The divers themselves hope that their research changes the greater hominid attitude towards these creatures from fear to wonderment. They realize, no doubt, that it is beyond the ken of most to go diving in the ocean bopping fourteen-foot apex predators on the nose, but it is within everyone to care. Adopting the myriad sharks is the best hope for their survival.

Democrats and War

Apparently you sign a contract upon getting your Serious Media® credentials, or your BeltwayInsider® status that says you have to accept the meme that because George McGovern wanted to end the Vietnam war in 1972, 4 years after Nixon campaigned on the same idea, that Democrats are weak on national security.

Just in case you have any lingering support for that concept, you should check out this book. But, what’s implicit in that concept is that being weak on national security means ever opposing the use of force, even when that use of force isn’t warranted.  Judicious use of force is equated with “weak on national defense.”
Enter Obama’s comments on Pakistan.  I personally agree with his position.  No country should be permitted to harbor those who attack the U.S.  Once we clear away Bush’s shitcloud, it is he who is weak on national defense, because he refused to attack bin Laden with enough force, instead opting for the Iraq boondoggle.  In opposing that injudicious use of force, Democrats were labeled weak on national defense and suffered stunning losses in 2006.
So, when he was challenged on whether he would use nuclear weapons to kill bin Laden, he said no, so the right labeled him a pussy Democrat, even though their own guy wouldn’t even use the 101st Airborne, opting instead to pay primitive Afghani mercenaries.
If the Democrats are looking for a realignment, they can have it.  Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge will convince people we need to invest in infrastructure.  That will create jobs.  Health care is reaching a critical point.  The culture wars are at a stalemate.  The only thing left for Democrats to do is convince people that they will use force judiciously and they will get their realignment. 
If they instead just opt to be kickass, they set themselves up for another LBJ/Bush II like fallout from over-kickass.

Adoption: The Recovery of the Eagle and the Demise of the Spotted Owl

Recent weeks have brought diametrically opposed tidings on the plight of endangered species: eagles are being removed from the Threatened List, but the Northern Spotted Owl appears headed towards extinction. In both cases hominids have altered their behavior in an attempt to ward off extinction. Why was one species successful and why will the other likely perish?

The success of the eagle and the likely demise of the spotted owl can be traced to a naïve assumption behind the Endangered Species Act. Most recovery plans are premised on a “reference condition” when the species in question was plentiful. Usually, the decline of the species is linked to human alteration of its habitat (clear cutting old growth forests where Northern Spotted Owls reside) or other alterations of the environment (DDT thinning eagle shells). Generally, a goal of the recovery plan is to attempt to make conditions as much like the reference condition as possible to establish enough habitat in its “properly functioning condition” to maintain the species. Implicit in this strategy is that interactions between hominids and wild creatures are bad and that any alteration of the “natural” environment is negative.

The central fault with the Endangered Species Act is that it froze earth in 1973 and ignored the fact that evolution occurs over both generations and eons. While human interaction with wild animals may not be politically correct, it happens continuously. Fighting against this reality and trying to keep the environment the same that it was in 1973 is both counter-productive and unnatural. That does not mean that critical habitat for endangered species should be developed willy-nilly; rather, it holds that we should acknowledge that hominid dwellings and activities have permanently altered ecosystems. We should be pragmatic and attempt to recover species to survive in that context rather than artificially trying to return to an impossible Ecotopia past.

The success of animals in a human context is a story of adoption. One of the first involved wolves that feasted on the refuse in the first garbage dumps in ancient Egypt. These carrion eaters grew comfortable with the human garbage dumpers and, eventually, became dogs. You can see the product of this “unnatural” evolutionary change in any park where fastidious hominids trail behind their hounds carrying their poop and beseeching them in the chirpy, exasperated tones reserved for a slow third-grader.

Similarly, house cats likely descended from their wild brethren through the first Sumerian granaries. These stockpiles of feed attracted vermin, whose presence drew wild cats to eat the rodents. Felis and hominid recognized a mutually beneficial arrangement and at this very moment my cat is napping on my easy chair.

The success of the eagle closely mirrors these ancient “adoptions.” Hominids rightly stopped using DDT, hunting eagles, and strove to protect eagle habitat; however, eagles have prospered by establishing nests in rural hominid habitats and other hominid structures like utility poles. This adoption is mutual. Witness the woman in rural Oregon that saw a downed eagle stuck with porcupine quills, prayed for God’s guidance, and found the strength to deliver the injured bird of prey to a veterinarian who treated it for free. Of course, “naturally” any eagle that was so unwise or unlucky to have experienced such a tet-a-tet with a porcupine should not have reproduced. Then again, to sustain my cat I pour four ounces of hominid-produced food pellets into a plastic bowl every morning.

The most fascinating aspect of the eagle’s recovery is the behavioral reversal it reveals. Fifty years ago a fit eagle was one that avoided people as people were likely to try to kill it. Today, as the above story reveals, eagle-human interaction is generally neutral or positive for the eagle. The New York City Department of Parks is trying to establish a nesting pair in Central Park.

Other successful “adoptions” have a similar history. A month ago I was one of a throng of people delighting in the antics of scores of seal lions resting on a sandy beach on the California coast. The sea lions seemed indifferent to their fans. One-hundred and fifty years ago a successful sea lion was the sea lion that avoided the harpoon clutching biped stalking its breeding grounds.

Another adoption appears to be in progress around Tahoe, California where black bears have taking to performing pantry raids at hominid domiciles. Some of these bears are no longer hibernating and instead are feeding year round, getting fatter, and producing more progeny. Affinity for this charismatic megafauna, and social pressure, stops most hominid residents from harming the bears.

Evolution occurs in generations.

Adoption is not limited to clever mammals. Scientists have recently found that some Snake River fall Chinook have developed a “hold-over” life history in which they over-winter in the river after emerging rather than migrating. No one knows if this is a product of the damming of the river and its susbsequent creation of reservoirs or if it is a life history strategy from time immemorial. Regardless, these fish outmigrate when they are larger and stronger and make up a disproportionate share of returning adults. Unlike the other species mentioned here, however, hominids still purposefully slaughter them by the thousands.

So, wither the spotted owl?

The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan kept the same habitat that was maintaining the Northern Spotted Owl. They are not hunted, and most hominids are probably trained to be gentle towards them. The species is going extinct because it is being supplanted by the Barrow Owl, an east coast species that likely hop-scotched westward by taking refuge in forests which hominids foolishly stopped from burning naturally. The Barrow Owl’s success is not a surprise. It feeds twenty-four hours a day where the Northern Spotted Owl only feeds at night. Its diet is more varied. Barrows pack together and reproduce more quickly. The Barrow Owl has adapted to the hominid environment, but adoption appears to be a ways off. The biologists that first uncovered the plight of the Northern Spotted Owl are looking to learn precisely where the Barrow Owl resides in what was once good Spotted Owl territory. That way if it becomes necessary to shoot the Barrow Owls, marksmen could concentrate their fire where it will be most effective. At the behest of biologists an apex predator may be hunted for the purpose of preserving a less fit species.

It appears that wild animals can adopt more quickly than domesticated hominids can adapt their thinking.

Is This America?

Sometimes it’s not the stupid talking heads on cable news or the ill-intentioned politicians that make me wonder what happened to my country. Sometimes it’s things like an interstate bridge falling into the Mississippi River that get to me.

Yes, accidents/disasters happen. But when we’re spending billions to rebuild another country for no apparent reason, and we don’t have things perfect here, it’s just sad. It’s like the response to Katrina, except that at this scale, you have more energy left to reflect on things like this. It wasn’t a hurricane–there’s no place to go for blame other than people, unfortunately.

I know it’s impossible to raise taxes, politically. But if we’re going to deficit spend, doesn’t it make sense to invest it first in things like infrastructure?

Bush=Romulus Augustulus.