Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

John Kerry...supremely qualified to be diplomat in chief

...if a diplomat is a man sent to lie for his country. Because John lies like a master. Today:
I supported Ronald Reagan when he sent troops into Grenada
In 1984
"The invasion of Grenada represents the Reagan policy of substituting public relations for diplomatic relations . . . no substantial threat to US interests existed and American lives were not endangered . . . The invasion represented a bully's show of force against a weak Third World nation. The invasion only served to heighten world tensions and further strain brittle US/Soviet and North/South relations."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Worst boycott evar?

Students from three Nebraska universities and a high school are calling for a public boycott of Anheuser-Busch products because of their sales to beer stores in the town of Whiteclay.
Needless to say, if you're in high school, you can't legally drink beer anyway. Nor can about 70% of college students. So this is like me boycotting Gulfstream.

Usually, my response to boycotts like this is to double my personal consumption, but since we're talking about the fine products of the Anheuser-Busch corporation, twice zero is still zero. I'd rather adopt urolagnia as a lifestyle.

But I must say I find it appalling our young people are trying to help impose prohibition on a group of American citizens, purely on account of their race and tribal affiliation. Some Native Americans clearly want to drink beer, are denied that right by their local government, and these young fascists want to prevent them from doing so even outside the bounds of their reservation. What a nasty bunch of jackbooted bigots.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The world, an update

Happy second inauguration day, Obamaites. Let's review where we are after 4 years of 'soft power'.

Last week, largely ignored by the US media, a large number of foreigners were taken hostage by jihadist terrorists in southern Algeria. Many were killed; we don't know how many, because the US government has no influence with, and negligible presence in, Algeria. The Algerian government has so little interest in the opinion of such weak sisters as Obama, Cameron and Hollande it simply declined to take their 'phone calls, deciding instead to show Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that, unlike for other governments, we do not negotiate with terrorists is more than an empty slogan for the Algerians.

Meanwhile, France is fighting a shooting war with other islamists in Mali. We're covering some of their logistics; the US is now the world's UPS. Libya is an anarchic mess where a US ambassador was killed without repercussions and the administration's principal interest was covering up its own negligence. Egypt is in the hands of the Moslem Brotherhood and a president who describes the Israelis as the sons of pigs and monkeys. We ensured his election by withdrawing support of Mubarak, another ally. The White House's under- and ham-handed efforts to interfere in Israeli elections have likely backfired, convincing much of Israel of what Netanyahu already knows; that American under Obama is no friend. It will be even less of a friend if the execrable Chuck Hagel is confirmed. Syria is a bloodbath, over which Obama has twiddled his thumbs. Thanks to Obama, we have no troop presence in Iraq, and we are pulling out of Afghanistan in indecent haste, practically inviting the Taliban to take over again. Our presence in the region is limited to remote-controlled drone-strikes, which further alienate the populace.

In other words, North Africa and most of the Middle-East are a anarchic mess where America is simply irrelevant. Al Qaeda are stronger than they were at the end of Clinton's administration. And Americans would be unwise to travel to the region wiothout substantial private security, because it's clear the State Department and the US armed forces will not raise a finger to help anyone, even our own diplomatic personnel.

If there's one tiny silver lining to this comprehensive disaster, it's in a column by Tim Montgomerie in today's London Times, plaintively headlined We need the world's policeman back on duty. Some prime quotes:

Again and again Mr. Obama has taken the wrong decisions in the still early stages of this longest of struggles...the lightly-armed, all-smiles policeman of the Obama years is too ready to please the crowds, afraid to do anything other than hide behind often-inaccurate drone attacks...the world [can't] afford another four years of drift and detachment.
The silver lining is that the rest of the civilized world is waking up and realizing, while the Democrats are a major party supported by a huge and feckless proportion of the American electorate, that it can't rely on America to play a significant role in keeping the peace. Perhaps, just perhaps, they might learn that reducing their defense spending to near zero has, as it should have, rendered them defenseless. We can only hope.

Meanwhile, in four years, some of us will have to pick up the pieces.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unilateral economic disarmament

Y'all probably don't remember this, but in the 1980s there was something called a nuclear freeze movement. The idea of it was that if the US froze its nuclear weapons, other countries would follow, and we'd all be on the way to Universal Whirled Peas, or something. Nebraskans for Peace supported the movement; so did your soon-to-be Secretary of State John Kerry. Needless to say, it was a monumentally asinine idea; the idea that countries like China and the Soviet Union were simply waiting on the United States to do the right thing before they themselves would disarm was simply insane. In fact, there is good evidence it was Reagan's arms build-up that forced the Soviet Union into dissolution.

Fast forward to 2013. Tim Rinne of the (unfortunately) still-existing Nebraskans for Peace wants the US to cripple its economy with carbon consumption restrictions, to reduce anthropogenic global warming. Will it reduce AGW? Almost certainly not; India and China are not crazy enough to cripple their economies in the same fashion, and will simply use the carbon-based fuels we forgo.

A lot of it is just plain wrong. For example:

It will mean growing more of our food locally and eating seasonally to lower production and transportation costs.
Problem is, locally grown food does not reduce carbon production. Global distribution networks are highly efficient. Shipping in train-cars of produce from California uses less carbon than the thousands of small trucks local growers need to take food to their local markets. What Tim really hates is big business, and he likes the hair-shirt feeling he gets from eating half-rotten turnips and contracting mild scurvy. Yes, it is stupid and more-than-slightly crazy, but there you go.

Liberals are weird. The end result of an action seems unimportant to them, as long as the action palliates their guilt. They felt bad about having the capability to incinerate Soviet babies, even though former-Soviet babies, now grown up, are far better off because we were steadfast about our nuclear capability. Now they want us to engage in a course of self-indulgent abnegation, even though it will not do anything to stop AGW, because it will less them feel less guilty about their small fraction of it.

I don't know about you, but palliating liberal-self-loathing is not high on my list of priorities. If they really want to reduce their carbon dioxide production to near-zero, there's an obvious course for them to take.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Moving the furniture at UNL

This semester one of the classes I'm teaching is overfull. It has 46 students registered; the limit is 45. The classroom is supposed to have 48 seats, but as of Monday, only had 44. So several students were sitting on the floor.

There's a plaque on the wall of Hamilton Hall 133, the classroom in question, giving a Facilities number to call if there are any problems. So on Wednesday, before class, I called Facilities. We don't do seats, said Facilities, call Inventory. We used to do seats, said Inventory, but now Classroom Assignment does seats. We don't do seats, said Classroom Assignment, call Facilities.

Oh no, you don't, I said, canny, after 25 years teaching, in the loops that bureaucrats create when they want to get rid of you. Facilities already sent me to Inventory, who sent me here. OK, said Classroom Assignment, we'll check it out, and get back to you. This is turning into a huge waste of time, I said, why don't I just move some seats from another classroom? Please don't, said Classroom Assignment, that's how problems like this are created. Maybe people move seats, I said, because when they try the official way, they get the bureaucratic run-around. I'll get back to you, said Classroom Assignment. She never did.

I just went downstairs and moved four seats from Hamilton Hall 135 to Hamilton Hall 133.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Airhead alert

Jane Kleeb thinks we should make Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense, because he has dreamy blue eyes. I seriously wonder whether feminism has accomplished very much in liberating what's between liberal women's ears.

I prefer to listen to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.