December 16th, 2009

#1856: "Post-imperial"? Obama? You're kidding, right?

I was at the bookstore today and saw an issue of Newsweek. All-black cover, the usual messianic-looking picture of Obama, and all-caps "THE POST-IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY", and I just about laughed my balls off.

The guy has dozens of czars who are unaccountable to anyone but Obama, he interfered in the bankruptcy proceedings of two major corporations in a highly unconstitutional fashion, he's trying to nationalize the banks and the health care system, and his administration is protecting all sorts of liberal Democrat cronies and organizations. If this is "post-imperial", what does that make it? Totalitarian?

You know, but don't take my word for it. The Anchoress has been really good at keeping track of Obama's imperial presidency--his imperial presidency which is a hell of a lot more imperial than George W. Bush's ever was--and today writes an interesting piece on how Obama is handling foreign policy. (Hint: he is not handling it very well.)

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Those pesky rules don't apply to Chuck Schumer, Representative! Chuck Schumer doesn't have to obey the cell phone rules aboard an airplane; those rules are for the little people, and if you tell him he has to obey them, he'll call you a nasty name.

What a tool.

* * *

This is patently ludicrous. Short form: some anus on the San Francisco city council wants cell phones to have warning labels on them explaining how much radiation they emit.

The notion that low-power radio frequency electromagnetic waves can cause cancer has been disproven every time it's been tested. Whenever a study has demonstrated any kind of causal link, the study has always later been found to be flawed.

If you want to cause cancer, you need to emit hundreds of watts; I don't think there's ever been a cell phone with so much as five watts of radiated power. You don't need it; a cell phone doesn't need to transmit very far. And five watts is a lot of power for a portable transmitter, anyway.

(Yes, some AM radio stations have 50,000 watt transmitters. You know why? So they can be heard a long way away. No one is carrying around a 50 kilowatt transmitter in his back pocket.)

A modern digital cell phone doesn't even need that much power. Digital means that the receiver need only distinguish the 1's from the 0's, and the "handshake" logic of the system ensures that the transmitter uses the lowest power level that enables reliable communication.

Cell phones are pushing the multiple gigahertz range; and that's microwave territory. It is theoretically possible that a cell phone transmitting at the right frequency could overheat a few cells by banging around the water molecules in it. But water resonates around 22 GHz, and a typical cell phone operates at around 2 GHz; there's not going to be much resonating going on there.

So this is a stupid regulation, the reasoning is idiotic, and the guy who wants it is a moron.

(You can hang this, by the way, next to those idiots who think that the magnetic fields emitted by high-tension power lines are a health hazard.)

* * *

I went to Wal-Mart to get my prescriptions and a new cassette adaptor for my MP3 player.

Prescriptions: the one I really need is still awaiting the doctor's okay for a refill. Argh etc. I had to stand in line for 10 minutes to learn this.

So I went to the electronics department, and what do I find? The $10 cassette adaptor is on a locked peg!

WTF, what kind of moron steals a $10 cassette adaptor? There's nothing to it; it's useless unless you have an MP3 player. But, okay, theft is a big problem, so I shrugged it off and tried to find someone to unlock the thing for me so I could buy it.

Trying to get help in the morasse of the Wednesday before Christmas--it took time, but I finally found someone in the electronics department who wasn't behind a cash register with four people waiting to check out, and--what the hell?

Kingston 1 GB DIMM, $58, several of them, on a non-locked peg. And yes, it belonged there; I read the product info from the tag on the end of the peg.



Okay, getting mad won't fix my problem, and maybe the people who steal shit are too stupid to understand the value of computer parts. Fine.

Of course, once I got someone to help me, I had the cassette adaptor in a matter of moments, and used the self-checkout lane, so it quite literally took me longer to get the thing off the peg than it did for me to go to checkout and pay for it.

Got to love Christmas shopping season. Jesus.

* * *

Anyway, I was miffed that my old cassette adaptor died on me, until I realized that said adaptor is 11 years old. No friggin' wonder....

* * *

So I get to go back to Wal-Mart tomorrow or Friday to get my freakin' pills (it had better be tomorrow, or withdrawal will begin...) and I'm hoping to finish my Christmas shopping at the same time.

Today, though, I hit the bookstore: some time ago Mom and I loaned the first two Dresden Files books to my brother, and he moved since then--I'd wager him finding those books would be unlikely, so I got new copies of them.

There was a new one in paperback, so we grabbed it too.

I also picked up Ichigo 100% volumes #6 and #7, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya--a translation of the light novel, not the manga or the anime.

I have plenty of stuff to read, which is good.

#1857: ClimateGate has gotten more interesting.

Check this quote out!
Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory.
Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.
Emphasis is theirs.

If this is proven--if we find independant corroboration of this--it'll blow the doors, wheels, springs, and fenders right off the entire AGW bandwagon.


* * *

I sat down with the first Dresden Files book--Storm Front--and finished it at one sitting. I told you 'way back in 2007 that these books are good. Go buy them and read them, damn it. It's the only way to make sure that Butcher keeps writing them.

* * *

I'm not sure why I hesitate to delve into the whole Haruhi Suzumiya thing. The book sits on my desk right now, and I'm not too enthused about reading it, even though I bought it.

I think it's partly because I'm worried: every time there has been a major anime/manga/whatev sensation to come out of Japan, and every time I've tried it--every time--I have hated it.

Looking at all the big titles I don't see a-one which appeals to me. Akira was the first big thing to leave me cold; Evangelion was the second.

I've discussed my feelings on Evangelion before; so that leaves Akira, and let me tell you: it wasn't very good. And in fact it failed for many of the same reasons Evangelion failed.

The biggest problem with Akira was that I didn't give a rat's ass about what happened to any of the characters. I didn't like any of them. (Same as Eva. Check.)

The story started out sensible, and then devolved into nonsense. (Same as Eva. Check.)

Nothing was ever explained. Akira was a bit better than Eva in this respect, as we had at least a partial piece of an explanation for WTF was going on, and why.

Akira's big selling point was the artwork; the characters' mouths were actually synchronized to the words they spoke, something which had not been done before in anime (and which has not been done on such a scale since). Otomo's direction also changed how night scenes are depicted in anime.

But that's not enough. Kazuo Koike--founder of Gekiga Sonjuku, the manga school which trained Rumiko Takahashi--insisted that the characters carry the story; and he's right. If the audience doesn't like your characters, it doesn't matter how good the story is or how cool the special effects are.

...unless your audience is mouth-breathing fanboys, of course.

So I'm worried about Haruhi Suzumiya sucking ass. I know plenty of people who read this will say, "It was great!" but that doesn't mean I'll like it. Hopefully Tanigawa doesn't have a problem with generating likable characters.

* * *

Since I've been diving into the Dresden Files books of late, I haven't been playing as much WoW, for which my wrists thank me.