31 July 2011

Who Says Climate Scientists Are Not Funny?

Check this guy out.

Forgive me dear readers if you have little tolerance for 'inside football' references.

And for those of you who are wondering why I have a picture of Sarah Palin on this blog, shame on you for not paying attention. I'll bet she has an NRA sticker on her car.

Never mind.

Irony For Sale

Here is a website called Minnesotans for Global Warming that has just figured out how to deal with our debt/spending crisis.

A Three-Step Plan:

1.  Freeze spending: Since the major part of the problem is that we spend too much, we should just stop      spending.

2.  Erase phony debt: I am not sure I follow this but two out of three sensible ideas are good enough for me.

3.  Pronounce Global Warming A Fraud: I have long suspected that our dear leaders are afraid to admit the truth because we underlings might gradually or suddenly realize that all their clothing is either transparent or non-existent.

A Good One

You can tell how good it is by noticing the quick response by the Bugler of Montana.

A Little Late Is Better Than Never

My brother from Wisconsin sent me an email with this as an attachment. I think I would have to have the music in front of me in order to do this. How does one memorize music other than the melody?

30 July 2011

Buckley Hits 11th inning Walk-Off Homer

Sean Buckley rounds third base after being congratulated by Manager Pat Kelly on his 10th home run of the season. His team-mates are waiting for him at home plate. They still get excited about winning a ball game in the bottom of the 11th inning.

Pitchers all looked good tonight, especially Cingrani and Muhammed. Umpires are still trying, though these two may be a lost cause. that is Marcoe and Huus in case they show up at your ballpark.

29 July 2011

Dispatches From Section 119

Visitors from out of town and an apparent sell-out crowd owing to it being a Friday night and the Mustangs having been on the road for awhile caused Matt and me to buy some far left-field line tickets for the Billings Mustangs v Helena Brewers.

Here is the view much of the time. There are probably 50 to a 100 or so persons who can stand up and obstruct your view of the batter. The seats are $5 per ticket but why would someone pay that much for a good view of the home bullpen and an average view of the left fielder for both sides. I think the SRO tickets are only $3, a much better deal.

The batters were fairly quiet except for a 6 run outburst by the Brewers in the 4th and a 7 run explosion by the Mustangs in the 6th featuring 2—that is two!—home runs each with two men on, by O'Shea and Poulk. Pitchers Mugarian and Jensen didn't look so hot tonight.

One nice thing about sitting in these awful seats is that you realize how big the outfield really is, something difficult to appreciate from our usual seats behind home plate.

27 July 2011

A Nice Shot of Dehler Park Late in the Afternoon perhaps from the First Interstate Bank Building

Dehler Park, Billings MT, home of the Billings Scarlets, Billings Royals, Billings Mustangs, and the Yellowjackets of Montana State University at Billings. Late in the afternoon, perhaps from a chopper, more likely with a long range lens from the First Interstate Building. Looking toward the Rimrocks. Looks like a pretty good crowd, perhaps a Sunday afternoon.

Great American Baseball Adventure

I saw this vehicle with California plates in the parking lot at Perkins' Restaurant—oh, oh, busted—across from the entrance to Dehler Park. The 2011 number is obviously a moveable feast so I don't know how long they have been at it. If you google this you find a surprising number of individual and group 'baseball adventures' going on every season.

Presumably they come from near Sacramento where the River Cats hang out. See the sticky emblem on their gas cap to the left.

That is the AAA Pacific Coast League franchise for the nearby Oakland Athletics. According to Wikipedia they have led all of minor league baseball in attendance, averaging over 10,000 fans per home game over the past eight years, well over 10K to start and now a little over 9K for the last few years.

They have done well in the standings of the PCL as well. Wiki is pretty good at following the ins and outs of baseball franchises,—mainly because a lot of ordinary folks keep track of these things—though I wouldn't trust them on things like climate change and probably a few other things that academics might lie about.

There were other emblems scattered on this large SUV. It didn't appear to have any special rhyme or reason to it as far as a particular major league franchise, or some geographic or league gathering of places.

Oh wait a minute, now that I think about it and consult the ever-omnicient Mr Google, it may be that at least part of their trip is simply driving up the 25. From Denver, home of the Rockies, it is about a 4 hour drive to Casper, home of the Ghosts, the Rookie A Pioneer League franchise of the Rockies. They used to be the Butte Copper Kings, hardly ever very strong in the standings and certainly not in the vital attendance numbers.

There apparently is some talk about moving the franchise  in time for the 2012 season to Grand Junction CO where the field that has been used for the Junior College World Series has been having a grand rehab to the tune of $8.3 million.

26 July 2011

Siam Thai Restaurant for Lunch

Near the corner of King and 32nd St on Henesta in the West End, Dairy Queen around the corner.

We were disappointed yesterday, Monday, when we found them closed. So we went back today, Tuesday and had some good food. Amongst the three Billings Thai restaurants that I have sampled in the last couple of weeks the standouts are this place, Siam Thai Restaurant, and Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant, also in the West End. I'm going to have to check them out a little more. I'm fairly new to Thai cuisine. I like the tastes. 

They give the former Mustard Seed—I liked it much better then than now when it is called Noodle Express—and Sweet Ginger some competition. It's been awhile since we've been to the last, so I will need to check them out too in order to come to a conclusion. Rather than grade them I may have to use the pass/fail system and maybe add a plus or two or a minus or two.

We had some Lunch combos with fried rice, the latter very good—I agree with Jessica—and spring rolls and pork with ginger and vegetables. My daughter remembered that coconut milk soup was often very good, so we had some Tom K(h)a Gai. It was very nice, sweet with ginger and chicken.

SIAM Thai on Urbanspoon

Worth going back to.

24 July 2011

And So Say We All

Bernie Madoff v Social Security

A friend sent me this: It makes sense to me. Where has he gone wrong?

Why did Bernie Madoff go to prison? To make it simple, he talked people into investing with him. Trouble was, he didn't invest their money. As time rolled on he simply took the money from the new investors to pay off the old investors. Finally there were too many old investors and not enough money from new investors coming in to keep the payments going.

Next thing you know Madoff is one of the most hated men in America and he is off to jail. Some of you know this. But not enough of you. Madoff did to his investors what the government has been doing to us for over 70 years with Social Security. There is no meaningful difference between the two schemes, except that one was operated by a private individual who is now in jail, and the other is operated by politicians who enjoy perks, privileges and status in spite of their actions.
Do you need a side-by-side comparison here? Well here's a nifty little chart.

Takes money from investors with the promise that the money will be invested and made available to them later.
Takes money from wage earners with the promise that the money will be invested in a "Trust Fund" (Lock Box) and made available later.
Instead of investing the money Madoff spends it on nice homes in the Hamptons and yachts.
Instead of depositing money in a Trust Fund the politicians transfer it to the General Revenue Fund and use it for general spending and vote buying.
When the time comes to pay the investors back Madoff simply uses some of the new funds from newer investors to pay back the older investors.
When benefits for older investors become due the politicians pay them with money taken from younger and newer wage earners to pay the older people.
When Madoff's scheme is discovered all hell breaks loose. New investors won't give him any more cash.
When Social Security runs out of money the politicians try to force the taxpayers to send them some more; or they cancel S/S to all those who paid into it.
Bernie Madoff is in jail.
Politicians remain in Washington... with fat medical and retirement benefits.

'The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.' "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years there'd be a shortage of sand." ~ Milton Friedman

19 July 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad

According to Professor Thomas Sowell at Real Clear Politics. Such as arsenic in the water or home ownership.

I would only add the efforts of those who package everything we buy in some form of plastic. Whether it is medicine containers or stuff from Radio Shack or whatever. I always ask the clerks to unwrap it after I buy it. It irritates some but others apparently do the same as at least some of Radio Shack's vendors have gone away from the impossible to open by ordinary folks with the usual home tool shop.

18 July 2011

Stumbling Convert To Reason: RFK, Jr

Dewey from Detroit fisks strange Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by RFK, Jr. Is the man ill or just full of the expected enthusiasm of the new convert.

More On the Death and Burial of Crown Prince Otto von Hapsburg

Apparently the name can be spelled Habsburg or Hapsburg, sounds fairly close I suppose.

Greenhouse Gas Theory Tested Again

Just in case there are any readers with some science background who are interested in the underlying silliness of the purveyors of much of the greenhouse gas warming theory, here are a couple of web pages and here that pretty much destroy that notion. I always wondered why my dear departed Professor AA Sunier insisted we keep repeating some of those earlier experiments. And to make it all the more delightful the experiment as done in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. I  guess they are doing something more than killing each other over drugs down there.

17 July 2011

Sunday at Dehler

This is what happens at 5:30 or 6 in the afternoon: the sun beats down fiercely and that little bit of shade that we get disappears. This is what you get for the expensive seats.

Tell me again how much we were supposed to pay for this park, and then how much we paid after wrecking the architect's original plan. Enquiring minds want to know.

As usual the Mustangs and probably the Raptors looked a little tired at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, especially today with no clouds, temps in the 90s and no breeze. Robert Maddox is getting better at playing first base, making some great scoops today. The pitching fell apart in the 4th inning with the Raptors putting up a 5-spot on Cingrani and Contreras. The sun was so fierce we had to leave at the end of the 6th inning.

Even the umbrellas offered little protection. Hitters may have come alive late, not sure because FM 105.1 is having trouble being heard on the car radio. As I'm writing this I go to the Mustangs website and find that the game is already finished by 6:40 with everybody anxious to get out of the heat I guess. Same score, 5-1, as when we left after the 6th inning.

The umpires are supposed to be getting better just as the players are supposed to be getting better the more games they play. This is probably true for some players and for some umpires.

Mr Huus, the home plate umpire today still has no clear idea of where the strike zone is. He pisses off the pitchers by fiddling with the bottom of the zone and he does the same to the batters in the upper part of the zone. The managers and players don't bother to argue anymore. The fourth inning would have ended with no runs scored except for a missed third strike by umpire Huus. I imagine there are some real jobs out there for umpires that can't quite make it in the Rookie Pioneer League.

The official scorer is still calling them hits: ground balls that elude infielders and fly balls that make outfielders look silly. Hey Mr Scorer this isn't Little League. There are some sun-seekers in every crowd. By the way the Sunday afternoon crowed is quite a bit smaller than the usual evening crowd. I could tell because the concessions were not nearly as crowded as usual.

A Letter From The Professor

Don Boudreaux often writes letters to the editor of the New York Times. I don't know if they ever get published. Judging from their truth content, I would be willing to bet almost never. It was good to read this letter on the same day that I read a very useful letter to the editor of the OutPost from Barbara Bryan, chairman of the Billings School Board. The two go together very well. By the way, this week's OutPost has some good articles in it about Ed Kemmick and some useful reviews by Billings and Montana people about books written by Billings and Montana people. And not all of them are favorable either. Read on friends and relatives.

Is there such a thing as a gentleman's B?

From a blog called  TaxProf Blog

July 15, 2011

43% of College Grades Are A's

Inside Higher Ed, Easy A:
Two critics of grade inflation have published a new analysis finding that the most common grade at four-year colleges and universities is the A (43% of all grades) -- and that Ds and Fs are few and far between. [Where A Is Ordinary: The Evolution of American College and University Grading, 1940–2009, by Stuart Rojstaczer (Duke) & Christopher Healy (Furman).]
Further, by comparing historical data to contemporary figures, the authors charge that there has been an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988 in the percentage of As awarded in higher education. The study was published Wednesday [and collects] historical data from 200 four-year colleges and universities and contemporary data from 135.

Grade Distribution by Sector and Region
Sector/RegionAverage SAT% As% Bs%Cs% Ds% Fs
By sector
Private, nonprofit university124548.235.811.42.22.3
Private, nonprofit college119247.736.611.32.41.9
Public flagship university117242.334.515.54.13.6
Public satellite university105641.732.
Public commuter university101739.031.817.55.46.3
By region

I knew there was something fishy going on, taken from TaxProf Blog, which got it from Inside Higher Ed, I guess. So then, if the above data are close to the truth, then nearly all get As and Bs. Cs are given to those who piss off the professor, and Ds and Fs are given for God only knows what reasons. And, though I'm not sure it is valid these letter grades have been gradually rising since 1960. And the phenomenon they are measuring here, whatever it is, has been going on all over the country. Perhaps more prevalent at private colleges and universities not surprisingly I might add. I wondered about this when I saw the list of high school students graduating cum laude and higher a month or so ago.

Perhaps the gentlemen and gentlewomen all get As these days.

Billings' Farmers Market Opens

Blueberry Pie from Time 2 Savor at Billings'Farmers Market.

16 July 2011

Come Into The Woods at Venture Theatre

Opening night for Venture Theatre's production of Sondheim's Into The Woods was Friday, July 15th. Done entirely by high school kids, I thought this was really well done. In fact I forgot they were kids. All were good and they were well-matched too. Unfortunately, Mr Sondheim does not follow the rule of making the 2nd act half as long as the 1st, but that is not the players' fault.

The play is a conglomeration of various bits and pieces of the Brothers Grimm with more than a touch of Monty Python, together with occasional Saturday Night Live cameos. The parts usually doubled were all taken by different kids. Our pre-teens thought it was pretty good. According to Wikipedia there is a junior version of this available but I doubt that this was made easier. The singers were good. The show was well-directed and a few gaffes were laughed off by all.

I don't have the names of the main players because I forgot to take my playbill home with me. Trust me, it's worth seeing and hearing.
The picture on the left is from walking down Montana Ave from the Rex, which restaurant seems to have gone down hill in the last few years.

The poster above right is from the original Broadway production, borrowed from the Wikipedia entry.

It opened in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986, and then moved to Broadway in 1987.

Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment may have been the inspiration for some of the scenes, though Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch was probably not inspired by Bettelheim.

Happy Moose

A Warm and Happy Moose. Note the Smile.

The blog World Climate Report reports on two articles from the refereed literature: one from a 2010 issue of Ibis: The International Journal of Avian Science Vol. 153, pp 170-174, which talks about Great Cormorants and how they get along with temperature changes; and the second is also from a 2010 issue of Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol 88, pp 1032-1041, which talks about moose responses, or lack of them, to ambient temperature changes.

Both of the articles, in contrast to impending doom for ecosystems and their occupants that others write and lecture about, present empirical evidence that at least these two animals may derive benefits from a warmer world. Maybe we should figure out ways to ask the polar bears what they would prefer. Or is that not an askable question amongst the warmist cognoscenti?

Great Cormorants of Greenland. They were hunted almost to extinction by fishermen who hated their fishing skills, but they have recovered recently and in northern Norway are becoming seen as semi-sacred with the locals who believe it is good luck to have them near their villages.

14 July 2011

This Is Like Rush Limbaugh Praising Barack Obama

Israel sends congratulations and aid to the new nation of South Sudan. I wonder if they asked in advance?

Excitement at the End: Mustangs Kick Owlz 10-8

Known for late-inning explosions of hitting power, the Mustangs on Wednesday evening looked like they had ignited early, with a 5 run outburst in the bottom of the 6th, to lead the Orem Owlz 8-3. This featured back to back home runs by Juan Silva and Devin Lohman, and some thought that would be enough.

But the baseball gods laugh at such certainty: some Mustang loose play in the infield and on the mound in the top of the 8th let Orem tie the score with their own 5 run inning. There it stood until the bottom of the 10th, when Juan Silva got his 5th hit of the game and Robert Maddox, still struggling to learn where the strike zone is and how to play first base and partly responsible for the unearned runs in the 8th, made up for it with a long fly to right field, his 5th home run of the season, and tying him with team-mate Sean Buckley for Mustang leadership in that department. Both of these guys seems to hit better on the road.

Quezada looked good for 5 innings. I didn't know you could have more than one blown save in a game but that is what the box score says for Jensen and Pinckard. Allen pitched the top of the 10th, gave up two hits, but got the outs and the win when Maddox unloaded in the bottom of the inning. By the way, the box score and recap of all the games found on the Mustang website is really helpful, especially if you don't keep score, but just as helpful when you do.

When you're batting .400 with 4 home runs for the Mustangs there is a fair chance you will be promoted by the powers that be in faraway Cincinnati. That is what happened to Dayne Read.

He was sent to the Bakersfield Blaze in the Class A-Advanced California League, where he chipped in with a game-tying home run in his debut. I didn't know that Cincinnati had a farm team in that league. In any event their gain is our loss. The picture to the right is borrowed from the Gazette.

Cartoon of the Day

12 July 2011

One Last Hail Mary Try: The Climate Reality Project

My favorite Florentine, Niccolò di Bernardo dei  Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Keep your eyes open for our friend Al Gore of An Inconvenient Lie fame. He may have been licking a few wounds but he and his friends of the Climate Hoax Consortium are coming out of the closet strongly on September 14, 2011, when they will try to persuade the rest of us to come over to their notion of reality. They must have tested that last word and found it resonating with us ordinary folks. So keep that date clear even if you would rather be at Yankee Stadium where the Big 4—Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax—are getting together to revive their careers. Or are these heavy metal bands the opening act for Gore's Merry Band? Wow, that would be impressive.

I saw something by T J Gilles  in the Billings Outpost a few weeks ago, headlined 'Scientists Give Bleak View of Global Warming': a collection of quotes from various speakers, not all on the same wavelengths it would seem, or maybe it was just difficult for Gilles to write so fast, but all had the same Chicken Little assumptions. The last two paragraphs had me a little worried:

"The conference was sponsored in part by the pro-environment Northern Plains Resource Council and MSU Billings’ Urban Institute, which is headed by former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley.
Mr. Tooley was among those trained to present PowerPoint workshops based on former Vice President Al Gore’s film about global warming, 'An Inconvenient Truth.' Winning an Oscar for Best Documentary for 2006, the film was based on a slide show that Mr. Gore had been presenting prior to being asked to write the screenplay."

I thought Tooley was on our side. When he was Mayor he sounded reasonable. Perhaps I wasn't listening carefully enough. Watch out for former mayors with PowerPoint presentations. And then of course, if that is not enough to worry you, note the groups that sponsored the meeting: these sound like special interest groups that are supported by us taxpayers. Apparently they are not having budget problems. Is this what Stalin or maybe Lenin had in mind when one or the other opined that 'When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use.'

Government Gone Wild

Busy Weekend Ahead

I wonder why we try to cram all this stuff into one weekend of the summer. Surely it wouldn't hurt to spread all this goodness around a little more.

See one of my other blogs.

09 July 2011

Are Colleges Really In Crisis?

That is what Professors Christensen and Horn say in this article. The image and the story comes from the July/August 2011 issue of Harvard Magazine. Some schools are rich enough to afford their own glossy monthly magazine, with fancy ads and apparently independent columnists just like the ones that larger cities have their names on.

Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn talk about the effects of 'disruptive innovation' on probably all colleges and universities but especially so on our 2nd tier and below colleges and universities. Because some of my grandchildren are soon starting high school it seemed reasonable to read this particular article rather than toss the whole thing which is what I usually do.

My own experience comes from attending a small private college on a nice scholarship from Sears in the late 50s and Harvard Medical School in the early 60s, partly scholarship (one year) and mostly loans from the school itself after that first year; then looking over and paying the bills for 4 children in the 80s and 90s at state schools in various states, fortunately managing to get help in the form of in-state tuition and some merit-based scholarship. In fact, it was cheaper to send two of them to New Mexico and Missouri because those states offered more of a discount on the tuition than Montana did. At the time it seemed a reasonable thing to do but I have gradually developed some doubts about the whole enterprise.

I noticed the tuition and other costs going up more rapidly than the so-called cost of living and even more than the rise in medical care (undergraduate tuition has risen at an average of 6.3% per year for three decades while medical costs have risen 4.9% per year). But Christensen and Horn say this business model is broke or breaking, such that alumni gifts, earnings from endowments, subsidies from state tax revenues for public schools and federal subsides for students are being exhausted. Even the well-endowed schools were devastated in 2008. Tuition at public schools, even for in-state students has been rising rapidly and cutbacks in enrollment have been tried. This at a time when the funding of public pension and healthcare costs for retirees and the soon to be retired is a major problem for all governments and the folks who work for them.

Then along comes the online competition—the 'disruptive innovation'—10% of students took at least one online course in 2003, and 30% in the fall of 2009. They go on with blather like 'easily embed actionable assessments that allow students to accelerate past concepts and skills,' which probably doesn't mean much or perhaps it may mean something to educators, but the authors are business school people. Christensen and Horn have written a book on this subject, along with Curtis W. Johnson: Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.

I took some classes on a Semester at Sea trip a few years ago and listened carefully to both students and professors. Obviously, things have changed since the 50s and even the 80s and 90s. I have friends who teach in colleges and universities, both conventional and online. I have talked to some recent grads who owe a lot of money. My kids are thinking very carefully about their own education and that of their children. I think things are going to look at lot different in a few years. In any event check these guys out, at least at the article level. If the book contains the same jargon it might not be worth it. Maybe the title is enough.

08 July 2011

When did 'lead' become 'lede' and Why?

It must have happened some time after the 50s. I only recently became aware of the word 'lede' as I thought earlier usage was simply a mistake on the part of the author or editor. See the Wiki article on 'lead paragraph'.

07 July 2011

Can A Virulent Strain of Keynesianism Actually Be Cured?

Thanks to David Budge of Electric City Weblog out of Great Falls for pointing out this very useful scientific article in Forbes. The above picture of Lord Keynes was borrowed from Wikipedia and was taken before he died in 1946.

This might be the pull-quote from the article by Louis Woodhill that will save your or someone else's life: or maybe that is 'created or saved.' I'm a little worried about the retrovirus angle but it is what it is.

“We don’t know yet exactly how Keynesianism is spread,” said Harvard’s Dr. Rivers.  “However, it certainly makes sense to avoid contact with known carriers, like Paul Krugman.”

Archduke Otto von Hapsburg: Requiescat in Pace

That is father Karl, left and mother Zita, right and the Crown Prince Otto between them
 at about 4 years of age in 1916

"This week marked the passing of Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, the eldest son of Blessed Karl of Austria—he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004,—head of the House of Hapsburg and last crowned prince of the venerable Hapsburg family. He passed away in his sleep on July 4th at the age of 98."—from Unam Sanctam Catholicam July 6, 2011

I read most of the Wikipedia entry on the Archduke (1912-2011), see recent photo to the left, as well as his father Charles I (or Karl) of Austria (1887-1922)—see the photo below right. I love these old photos in Wikipedia.

The only biography in English that I saw at Amazon.com was Gordon Brook-Shepherd's Uncrowned Emperor—the Life and Times of Otto von Hapsburg which was published posthumously in 2003 and apparently not very academic according to some reviewers.

I knew a little about the Hapsburgs in various parts of Europe because I suffered through a survey course in medieval and modern European history while in pre-medical studies, but that name and my interest both petered out about WWI. In any event, though his father Karl had the misfortune of dying young and not really debilitated from "the friend of the aged," according to Sir William Osler, the Archduke lived long enough to just die in his sleep with little or no fuss.

I must confess that I didn't really keep up with the doings of the Hapsburgs in the 19th century, and even less in the 20th century, so I was pleasantly surprised to read that Otto von Hapsburg, though unseated from his throne at an early age, did in fact have a long public life: in addition to seeking to be re-installed to his seat in Austria because he thought it would be good for the people of his former realms, he also was a leader throughout much of the latter part of the 20th century of the struggle for some form of unity in Europe from a conservative Roman Catholic point of view. Perhaps not surprisingly he was also an opponent of both Communism and Nazism, those fraternal political twins of the Left in Europe. We all know about the Romanovs' ghastly and untimely end in 1918. It was good to hear that not all the royal heads of Europe were put down that way. He seems to me to have been a man both ahead of his time and behind the times. Sic transit gloria. History doesn't repeat itself but it does sometime rhyme.

Will No One Rid Us Of This Meddlesome Proof?

This is from our friend to the north, The Canadian Sentinel I don't understand how a birth certificate from the 60s can have "layers" when viewed in Adobe Illustrator. Or that a forgery could be so blatant and obvious. I am puzzled. I thought all was settled by the recent release of the long form birth certificate. Will this argument go on and on like some Dickensian law-suit? Or maybe the argument about the Shroud of Turin?


A new word, possibly related to Bolshevism. Godlewski writes a small essay about the problems of this world.

A little more on climate change

Check out this nice video:  http://youtu.be/JcNw5p1OlPU

I found this comment near the top: seems to make a lot of sense.

"All global warming droids: Stop equating "global warming", "global climate change", and "man made global warming." These are 3 different things. ONLY one of the three is in question, i.e., "man made global warming." The other two are historical fact, and have come and gone repeatedly. Even if you believe that man's activities are influencing climate, the scientific data proves man's contribution to natural warming is so slight that it must be teased out of the empirical data statistically."

". . . man's contribution to natural warming is so slight that it must be teased out of the empirical data statistically." 

Now here is a man after my own heart. If you can't look at the data with your eye and see the conclusion then applying statistical measures to prove one thing or another is usually a fool's errand. If you think you have something the main purpose of statistical reasoning should be to check out if your hunch is really real because your eye can sometimes fool you. Kind of like using 4NT as a Blackwood convention in bridge: not so much to enable you to bid a slam, but rather to keep  you out of bad slams.

At Last

Kyl: GOP Agrees to Up to $200B in New Revenues

When I saw this headline I gave a small leap for joy as I thought our political friends on the right were agreeing we should lower tax rates so as to bring in more revenues—a no-brainer in my view. But then I clicked on the headline and saw the dreary truth. Raising tax rates probably will bring in some revenues but not nearly as much as lowering the rates.

06 July 2011

Hamburger America: Completely Revised and Updated: 150 Great Burger Joints

This is the 2nd edition of this very useful compendium of burger joints all over the country. George Motz has spent a fair amount of time and money researching these places. The first edition had 100 places in it, this one has 150. Only two of the original 100 have dropped out for the usual reasons. These are not the only places you can get a decent burger, just a guide to what they are and where they are, in case some future restauranteur with a nostalgic bent is wondering what did attract a diverse bunch of people back in the 40s and 50s and still does.

From the Introduction: "To make the list, the burger had to be from fresh ground beef (chuck, sirloin, rump—something good from a cow) and never frozen. In most cases age, provenance, and historical context played a factor in deciding what was most relevant for this book. . . . And naturally, the burger had to excite and satisfy this expert's taste buds." So, the listed places have usually been around for a long time, and often they are down home kind of places so much so that the wonder is they are still in business.

Not every state is represented, I saw nothing from Arizona or Wyoming, and per capita, Montana's two entries are probably right up there with the likes of California, Texas, Oklahoma, and not surprisingly, Wisconsin. He includes Matt's Place Drive-In in Butte and The Missoula Club in Missoula, pretty good places to get a decent burger. It's a little surprising that no place in Billings was listed but maybe The Burger Dive will qualify for future editions, if it stays open long enough.

I've tried some of the places in Wisconsin, Colorado, Washington, Montana, and New Mexico. The all measure up but in a sort of Pass/Fail sort of way of grading. Maybe that is the way we should grade burger places anyway. I will keep trying others and let you know what I think.

McCormick's on Montana Ave.

I reviewed this place a few years ago on another blog. As far as I can tell it is still pretty good, especially for breakfast and lunch. Oh, wait a minute, they are only open for breakfast and lunch.

I especially liked their Carlin Angus Burger, although my wife tells me that the Falafel Sandwich is pretty good too.

McCormick Cafe on Urbanspoon

04 July 2011

If Recent Biblical Scholars Studied Early American History

Check this possibility out at the blog The Divine Life. Read some of the comments as some of the early responders did not realize the irony of the whole thing.

Mustangs Fall to Osprey 9-7

The batters woke up, at least for one inning, but the pitchers just couldn't keep the Osprey at bay. A 6 tun explosion in the 3rd inning gave us all hope as the Osprey were chipping away at the lead with a run here and two runs there, but the usual late inning fireworks did not happen today. There was some uncharacteristic misplay in the infield, which didn't help either.

While Robert Maddox is learning to play first base and where the strike zone is, he also occasionally hits a towering home run, which he did today with two Mustangs on base. Maybe things will improve as they go on the road where not so many folks are watching. They were tied with Helena before the start of today's game so their standing tomorrow will depend on what happens in Great Falls where the Brewers are playing this evening.

This Guy Says It Strongly

A Cafeteria Convert To Nuclear Power

But a convert nevertheless. This guy was a Green Weenie but his view have "matured" to the point of making sense.

Sleepy Mustangs Lose to Osprey 4-1; Drop To Tie For First With Helena

Entrance to Dehler Park: the bricks have epitaphs on them for $100; statues of Billings' immortals Dave McNally to the right and Ed Bayne to the left: this is a nice entrance

We didn't stay to the bitter end because Mother Nature decided to have a little fit with high winds and some rain in the 8th inning. The players left for a few minutes but most of the fans left permanently for the safety of their homes or at least their cars, as it didn't look good for a Mustang rally like the night before.

This was the first day game in awhile so perhaps the Mustangs were just waking up when they began play. At least the hitters looked that way. Pitchers looked pretty good. Another day game on the 4th. Still in 1st place but now tied again with the Brewers from Helena.

[We saw an unfamiliar-looking aircraft take off from Logan while at the game. It had the general shape of a B-17 along with that lumbering, just barely above the horizontal sort of take-off that we remember from the newsreels we saw on Saturday morning back in the early 40s. When we got home I checked the newspaper and sure enough, had we the money and time we could have had a ride on that same B-17 along with out octo- and nonagenarian friends who actually flew in those contraptions while other earnest men were shooting at them. $425 for 30 minutes, nobody shooting at you guaranteed. I'm sorry we missed it.]

02 July 2011

Get Out The Vote by Procrastinator

Tom Rowan, at American Thinker, wrote an interesting article on the 2000 Florida vote fraud that almost saw our obsessive-compulsive former candidate for President and now warming freak-in-chief Al Gore be elevated to the highest political office in the land. Hmm, after watching Bush and Obama, maybe that wouldn't have been such a disaster.

Like many of us I watched this bit of political theatre from the sidelines, mostly on TV and newspapers and the magazines that could get something out quickly. This was before blogging blossomed into what it is today. There were many odd things that raised suspicions, such as the speed with which the Democrats had figured out what happened and had the lawyers to prove it, and the oddness of just one county—Palm Beach County in case you have forgotten—being the epicenter of so much confusion and difficulty in marking ballots. Many of us have used these kinds of paper ballots without much difficulty so what happened in Palm Beach County in 2000? Some of us were suspicious because we have seen other close elections which always seem to favor one party when the votes are re-counted, and those counts are always in heavily one-party cities, where all those who count the ballots are paid to do so by that one party.

But when you don't have a mechanism for understanding how they do it, statistical arguments aren't totally convincing. It's not so hard to understand how vote counting in Cook County—Chicago—works. But Florida hasn't been a totally owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party like Chicago and most of Illinois for that matter. So when Rowan pointed to a statistical and practical guy, Robert Cook, who had apparently examined not only the overall numbers but also the graft and grist of how votes can be "got out." Especially with the kind of punch-hole ballots used in Florida at the time. His studies even explain the numerous "chads" and other remnants, much more common when more than one ballot is punched.

I won't test your patience by delaying the punch-line. Sorry for the word play. It turns out that when you have hundreds or thousands of ballot cards lined up in a row, it is child's play to punch another hole through all of them at the same time. What this does is exactly nothing if you punch Gore again because there is already a hole there. But when you do it to a Bush vote or a Buchanan vote then you have a ballot that is thrown out because it has two votes for President. Voila. You don't stuff the ballot box with Gore votes which I could never figure out how they did, you simply subtract a Bush vote, which was done for 15,000 Bush ballots in Palm Beach County. There may have been other mechanisms involved once the totals got close to each other, not quite so elegant as the wholesale ballot punching, as in the charade conducted more recently in Minneapolis/St Paul to put the unfunny Al Franken into the Senate.

I wonder if the Republicans in the Supreme Court election in Wisconsin knew that the Democrats would be up to these same tricks, and despairing of preventing this, decided to keep their powder dry until all the fake ballots had been added and the real ballots defaced and then came in with a late bunch of real ballots from Waukesha, which they had reason to suspect might be heavily in favor of the Republican Prosser. Brilliant, but I don't think that will work again now that the secret is out.

Judging by the early warnings coming from Donna Brazile and other Democrat operatives—who can be relied upon when one wants to use the "Pravda" technique—these problems may become even more of a problem in 2012. What can we do?

01 July 2011

Climate Change for the Multiply Challenged

This is good, very good. Conservatives like to listen to people who are low-key and don't throw themselves on the floor and foam at the mouth. I found this on Common Cents.


Mustangs Go for the Gusto

Mustangs and Brewers played a tight game tonight through 10 innings, with O'Shea and Vicioso leading the way in the bottom of the 10th. Add an intentional walk and a bouncer up the middle by Sammy Diaz to score the winning run on a fielder's choice RBI. Billings and Helena are now tied, 7 wins and 5 losses each, for first and 2nd place in the northern division of the Pioneer League. See here for more on this game.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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