Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Phoenix Amazements

I am utterly with the Bad Astronomer on this one.

Well, I’ll spare you the histrionics this time, and just say wow. Nice work HiRISE folks! And my sincere and heartfelt congratulations to NASA and everyone who worked on this amazing series of events!

Indeed. And in spades!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Phoenix Landing

Our technology continues to amaze me. What an amazing and lovely picture.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Phoenix has Landed

I remain an infantile fan of the space programme, though perhaps my age informs my current lack of interest in manned flight. It is true that the Moon landing in 1969 remains one of those indelible memories, but now I am a total fan of missions like this one.


Peggy Noonan pegs it. There is something comical about the notion that Hillary Clinton is a great feminist forerunner.

h/t Foreign Dispatches

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Limping back to action

I have been gone for a while but do plan a return to the airwaves. Part of the time (only Part) can be explained by this extract from a note to a colleague:

After a drive to Ottawa (5 hours) Saturday to visit my mother, I noticed my left leg starting to tie up, and the pain grew to the point where on Sunday I was barely hobbling with a cane (which just happened to be in my trunk, after I had bought and used it for a couple of days at least five years ago when I had a mysteriously wonky ankle). Having had that leg tie up a little a couple of weeks before, and then just get better in a day or two, I decided to do nothing. On Monday, I was still hobbling badly, but oddly, as my wife and I headed out to the car to start our trip home, I moved not badly. We got back to Toronto, with me driving and feeling a bit of pain in the left leg (I could not have clutched had I been so foolish as to buy a manual transmission car) - I dropped my wife off at the bus terminal so she could get back to her apartment. On return home, I could barely move. My neighbor was so alarmed he volunteered to drive me to the hospital - he is a retired doctor. I demurred - prideful, and wanting to see doctors only as a last resort, assuming that a night's rest would make me more mobile. (One clear lesson - whatever it was, a five-hour drive was not good for it.)

As it did, but I did finally decide to go to emergency in the morning - I was worried that I might have broken a bone. My own personal theory was that I had a pinched nerve. Arrived at 10am - saw a doctor around 11am, though that hour felt endless. Was X-rayed about noon (they lost my form and I had to assert myself after watching three or four X-ray candidates who had arrived after me go in). The review of the X-Ray, as they say about Yogi Berra's, showed nothing. The doctor then suggested that it was likely a compressed nerve and he showed me on the X-Ray the path of that nerve. Exactly where I suspected it went. We agreed on a programme of initial rest and then later preventive exercise, and I bought some crutches from them for $30. I was home by 1:30. Everybody around me was complaining about the wait but I thought that was not bad.

Since then things have been improving slowly and I have not had to use the crutches. The pain comes in and out, ever less frequently in, so I think my own diagnosis and initial programme, essentially what the doctor and I agreed on, would have been fine. But it is good to know there are no broken bones. And there was a bonus - detailed review of the X-Ray apparently showed that my hips are in pretty good shape - after the years of jogging I was pleasantly surprised.

I am no major fan of our medical care system - I think we, with Cuba and North Korea, are one of the few countries in the world where it is generally illegal to pay for better medical care (unless it is 'inessential'). But all my encounters so far have been like the one above. (Not so for my wife, who actually had serious problems, but that's another story.)

Since then things have been improving, though not quite steadily. Sadly, I am not yet ready to do my morning walks at Ashbridge's Bay. Though a later post will update readers on many developments there that I noted before suffering this problem.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Naomi Klein - why bother?

When Naomi Klein's last book was released (I do not plan to link to it) the CBC, naturally, scheduled some major interviews with her. I love interviews with Naomi Klein, especially on TV - she is very cute, and always generates major giggles. Her content is so ridiculous one barely need pay close attention.

Johnann Norberg has put in a lot of the effort I would argue should not be wasted on a trifle like Klein (except for the large number of idiots who take her seriously). But now that it is spent we should enjoy it.He documnets with dreadful clarity how ridiculous her claims are. I have posted before on this book, as I was offended at what she tried to make of Milton Friedman. Norberg goes deeper.

The saddest thing he says is this:

Astonishingly, in a book of more than 500
pages, Klein offers almost no argument to the
person who isn’t already convinced that free
markets are bad.

Saddest, because anyone who knows anything about the jokes that are Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, know there is nothing astonishing here. They preach to a choir. I have never heard either really advance an argument. Completely unlike the Milton Friedman she defames in her book.

Enjoy Norberg - he demolishes her utter nonsense step by step.

I think personally it is a waste of time to do this but am glad someone wasted the time.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Now this *is* a Muslim Community to sign up for!

Radio Prague reported yesterday on the exact right response to Fitna and other provocations.

The Brno Islamic Foundation held a screening of Geert Wilders' film.

“We also screened a film called Schism, which was made in reaction to this film. It was made by a Muslim and it is structured in the same way as Fitna: it takes extracts from the Bible and links them to the killings of Iraqi people by Western soldiers. The author of Schism openly admits at the end of his film that this is not the right thing to do. So we condemn Fitna and we also condemn any kind of links between Christianity and violence.


There are groups of people in the Czech Republic who would like to use the film in order to present their anti-Muslim views. So we decided to screen it first to prevent any possible conflicts in the future.”

This is so utterly and exactly the right response! Argue back!

The article also points out there are some nasty streaks in the Czech Republic.

After a short visit to Prague last year, I began to dream of retiring there, and learning another language; but I would need a lottery win.

Friday, May 02, 2008

John Chilton says it all

I have been meaning to post about the sheer stupidity of some proposals now out there in the US Election campaign - but the best thing to do on this subject is to send you to John Chilton, who hits every point I can think of, especially the Adlai Stevenson story.

In any case, the gas tax holiday is an appalling idea, and Obama deserves a little credit for actually listening to his economic advisers.

How would Canada like this contempt for our justice system?

I know nothing of the merits of the Brenda Martin case, but Mexico's justice system seems to have found her guilty of money laundering or the like.

So why is this morning's CBC coverage (Newsworld, chaired, to my mind shockingly, by Heather Hiscox), as Martin has been returned to Canada, so manifestly built on the notion that she is somehow innocent? How would we react (or really, how would the CBC react?) if Mexico were ever as dismissive of our justice system?

UODATE: Fixed subject, tx Rondi!

Jackie Danicki hits it

Jackie Danicki is one of my favorite bloggers, and maybe she shows clearly why with her wonderful focus on this sentence from Christopher Hitchens, regarding Sept. 11, 2001. Unlike Jackie, I would not have so instinctively understood this sentence that day.

And I also knew what all the comrades would say, and what I would have to say about that.