Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Nation Mourns.

TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at Florida home

TAMPA, Fla. – Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays was found unresponsive by his wife Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m.

There were no signs of a break-in, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn't answer any more questions about how Mays' body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner's office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

More here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fatal Beatings.

Tyrannosaurus Blood Vessels Found.

Only a matter of time.

The skeleton was excavated in 2003 from the Hell Creek Formation of Montana by co-author Jack Horner's crew from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Back in the lab, Schweitzer and her technician demineralized the fragments by soaking them in a weak acid. As the fossil dissolved, transparent vessels were left behind.

"It was totally shocking," Schweitzer says. Branching vessels also appeared in fragments from a hadrosaur and another Tyrannosaurus skeleton. Many of the vessels contain red and brown structures that resemble cells. And inside these are smaller objects similar in size to the nuclei of the blood cells in modern birds.


More here.

Sign of the Times.

Friday, June 19, 2009

L.A. gets state of the art reverse 911 system...kinda.

At a cost of over 2 million dollars, Los Angeles County has adopted a reverse 911 system (the government calls you in the event of an emergency). That such a thing is needed, I have no doubt. In particular, for people who live in the hills above Los Angeles the ability to warn of sudden danger from wild fires is vital.

It seems to me however that the system is being heavily oversold. While useful for a limited number of people in isolated areas it seems to me that for the rest of us who actually pay for it, it's pretty useless. It seems pretty clear that the system cannot handle a city wide emergency at all. For example, it was proudly announced this morning that the system can make 1000 calls a minute, which seems like a lot until you consider that there are 7.1 million land lines in Los Angeles. If my back of the envelope math is correct, that means it would take just shy of five days to call every number in the county (assuming that nobody with a cellphone opts into the system-which they are invited to do).

Now I don't know about you, but having to wait five days for instructions from the government on what to do in the event of a hurricane Katrina-type disaster strikes me as a little unreasonable. The reality is that by then I'd either be dead or I'd have fled because I heard about it on the radio...or TV...or the internet...or I'd bothered to finally read one of the copies of the L.A. Times that keeps piling up in my driveway.

The painful truth is that this system will NEVER be useful by the vast majority of L.A.County residents. It's really designed to protect a small number of of relatively rich people who built houses where they probably shouldn't from wildfires, and paid for by millions of poor people.


The article is here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Once Again Obama Shows He's Completely Out Of His Depth.

The two-state solution is a non-issue, Israeli governments having for years agreed to the formulation. The question is what kind of two-state solution which has hardly been confronted and never agreed upon, not even at the breezy hand-shake on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993. (I hasten to remind my readers that I didn't attend because I thought it was a fraudulent event, and I wrote that in an editorial shortly after. Was I not right?) The matters to be negotiated now are the modalities of a two-state agreement. The Palestinians have always known what they want: every inch of territory lost in the 1967 war. Then, they'll see what they will fight over that was lost in 1948-1949.

Read the whole thing.

Democrats Finally Learn it's not Fair to Casually Call People Racist.

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has already achieved a boon for our political culture: It has helped leading liberals and Democrats to discover that being tarred as a racist on flimsy grounds is unfair and deeply unpleasant. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for example, when asked on "Face the Nation" to respond to Rush Limbaugh's and Newt Gingrich's comments about Sotomayor, said, "That's an absolutely terrible thing to throw around. Based on that statement -- that one word 'better than' (sic) -- to call someone a racist is just terrible and I would hope that Republicans would not do this."

Sen. Feinstein is right as far she went. She avoided one undeniable fact though. If a white male nominee had been discovered to have said something similar -- that he was better situated to judge due to his background and life experiences than a Latina woman -- he would be cashiered so fast as to induce whiplash.

More here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Heidi: 1993-2009 Rest in Peace.

She was cranky and demanding. The world revolved around her and she let you know it. But she also was very sweet. She'd groom you with this incredibly raspy tongue or snuggle close when you weren't feeling well.

She was a good cat. She'll be missed.