Monday, October 31, 2005

Did Bush Exist? Revisited

From Did Bush Exist? Revisited

See, the legend of George W. Bush may have started quite harmlessly really. At some point, confusion arose over the order of presidential succession and specifically whether George Bush was President before Bill Clinton or after him. Clearly the older tradition is that George Bush was President before Bill Clinton and this, of course, finds clear support in the historical record for we know that a George Bush served as Vice-President under Ronald Reagan. As it was fairly common for the Vice-President to become President, it must be that this George Bush became President in the four years between the end of Reagan's term and the beginning of Bill Clinton's term. This George Bush was clearly a lacklustre President, who accomplished very little in his Presidency besides coming to the aid of the Kuwaitis in the war with Iraq. Consequently, he does not win re-election and is succeeded by the popular President, Bill Clinton, who serves two terms.

After Bill Clinton's eight years, we run into the problem of the second George Bush. People like Dr. Wright want us to believe that a second "George Bush", distinguished only by middle initials and so even perhaps related to the first, became President. We are also expected to believe that like the George H. Bush, who we know was real, this George W. Bush invaded Iraq; but, that this was a second war some twelve years after the first one and it was only then that the United States managed to overthrow Saddam Hussein; and, that Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell, who are all attested members of the George H. Bush administration, were again administrators in the presidency of this second Bush. The sheer outlandishness and improbability that you would have two presidents with the same names, engage in parallel international conflicts with the same enemy (and this second one as a "preemptive" invasion), and be surrounded by many of the same characters strains credulity. It is, therefore, manifestly obvious that this second George Bush never existed. The tradition is, in fact, what we historians call a doublet. We notice immediately that the subsidiary characters all get promotions in the doublet; the second Bush wins a second term in office rather than serving just one; instead of one Supreme Court nomination, the second Bush makes two nominations; and, we notice that in the second tradition the whole Iraq conflict grows from a relatively quick, strangely abbreviated conflict into an epic battle, pitting good against evil.

Wollemi Pines - Prehistoric Trees Found in Australia

Wollemi Pines Posted by Picasa

Very cool - back in 1994 a National Parks employee in Austarlia discovered a stand of trees he didn't recognize in a park about 150 miles West of Sydney. The trees, Wollemi Pines turned out to be a species thought extinct for millions of years. Only about 100 exist in the wild, but a conservation society has cultivated it and is now offering it to the public.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Spread of Humanity

A quick slide show on the peopling of the world by a professor at Cambridge and a much more detailed interactive view from a National Geographic website - The Genographic Project. All of these interpret human population movements by measuring the prevalance of various mitochondrial DNA markers in different populations.

Time Magazine's Top 100 Books since 1923

Complete list here. William Gibson's Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash both made it.

Notre Dame vs. USC

The ESPN Game Recap here.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Matt Leinart launched himself toward the end zone with Southern Cal's winning streak and its No. 1 ranking hanging in the balance.

Swarmed by Notre Dame just short, the ball went shooting out of bounds and the clock ticked down to 0:00.

Over on the sideline, Charlie Weis raised his arms in what he thought was victory, sending the Fighting Irish and their joyous fans pouring onto the field.

Sorry, Charlie. The top-ranked Trojans weren't done.

After USC coach Pete Carroll sprinted down the field to plead his case, officials put seven seconds back on the clock and the ball inside the 1. With another chance, Leinart pushed and spun his way into the end zone with three seconds left to cap a chaotic finish and USC escaped with its 28th straight victory, a back-and-forth 34-31 win Saturday over No. 9 Notre Dame.

"You gotta believe you're going to win, the way that happened," Carroll said.

The Irish (4-2), dressed for success in kelly green jerseys, tested the two-time defending champs as the Trojans had never been during their 2½-season run of excellence. But in the end, Notre Dame couldn't come up with one last stop.

"The reaction of the fans being on the field and then seeing how you kind of want it to come out, then seeing the exact opposite all in a matter of minutes," Irish quarterback Brady Quinn said. "People were pretty shocked and devastated."

Leinart had the option to spike the ball on the goal line play to regroup his team or go with what he had. He chose the latter, took it in himself over the left side and got a little help moving the pile from star tailback Reggie Bush.

"I used all 200 pounds of my body to push Matt in," said Bush, who ran for 160 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns.

Carroll said USC (6-0) never considered settling for a field-goal attempt to send it to overtime.

"We'll be happy to leave South Bend," Carroll said.

Quinn had given Notre Dame a 31-28 lead with 2:02 left, dashing around right end for a 5-yard touchdown, extending his right arm across the goal line with the ball.

But Leinart answered when it looked most bleak for USC, completing a 61-yard pass to Dwayne Jarrett on a fourth-and-9 at his own 26.

"You just have to throw it up and hope he gets it," Leinart said. "I'll take my chances with [Jarrett] against anyone in the country. He made a play."

Then Leinart called his own number for the winner.

"I just saw it, I thought it was there and I just wanted to get in," Leinart said. "I didn't want to spike the ball so I made the choice and they were looking down from up above and we got in. That was all that mattered."

He sat on the bench after his score, helmet still on, looking exhausted and waiting for a final kickoff that Notre Dame couldn't turn into a miracle.

"I had no doubt," Bush said. "We never gave up and kept fighting. That's why we're the No. 1 team in the country."

And thanks to the chaotic ending, sports fans saw an it's-over-no-it's-not game on national TV for the second time in a week. The other was Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

Weis tapped into the Fighting Irish's past and even in defeat etched a spot in it for himself and his team. He broke out all the stops, bringing in "Rudy" and Joe Montana to fire up his team and the fans in Friday night's pep rally, and then sent the Irish off in good-luck green after warmups on Saturday.

"They worked so hard preparing for this game," Weis said. "I thought I'd give them something back."

The Trojans trailed at the half for the third time this season, this time by 21-14 after Tom Zbikowski's 60-yard punt return early in the second quarter gave the Irish their first lead.

But Bush tied the game with a 45-yard scoring gallop early in the third. His second long TD of the game put him over 100 yards rushing for the fifth straight game.

Notre Dame got the lead back with a field goal seconds into the fourth quarter, and then D.J. Fitzpatrick missed from 34 yards when the Irish could have gone up by six.

Bush struck again, going around the corner from 9 yards out with about five minutes left to make it 28-24.

Then it was Quinn's turn to have a Heisman moment.

He guided the Irish on an 87-yard drive, completing all three of his passes and finally putting Notre Dame up with 2:02 left.

Quinn finished 19-for-35 for 264 yards.

USC came in averaging 51 points per game, but the Irish put pressure on Leinart and intercepted him twice, the first time since the final game of the 2003 regular season he tossed two picks.

The dynamic backfield of LenDale White and Bush was turned into a solo act, as Bush kept USC in it until Leinart made the plays of the game.

He threw a prefect fade over a defensive back to Jarrett on the huge fourth-down conversion and finished with 301 yards passing.

For a while though, Notre Dame looked ready to add the Trojans to its list of historic streak stopping upsets.

"We believed we could win and I think we showed it on the field," Zbikowski said.

It was Notre Dame that stopped the longest winning streak in NCAA history when the Irish beat Oklahoma and ended its 47-game romp in 1957. In '46, Army had won 25 straight when Notre Dame tied the Black Knights. And Texas had won 30 in a row before losing to the Irish in 1971. Two years later, USC had a 23-game winning streak end in the shadows of Notre Dame's Golden Dome.

On Saturday, USC was too tough, too resilient, to let it happen, and the Trojans are still on track to three-peat.

"If you're waiting for me to say it's a good loss, you won't hear that here," Weis said.
Michael Novak on The Corner on National Review Online:
Well, it almost happened. Wearing dark green jerseys, on the exact anniversary of having broken the University of Miami's great winning streak many years ago, Notre Dame came within three seconds of upsetting the incredible offensive whizzes of Southern California.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Timewaster - U.S. State Geography Test

How close can you place the states on a map - try it here.

Weather Wars

The guy behind this site - was actually a TV weatherman in Pocatello, Idaho:
To the rest of the country, Scott Stevens is the Idaho weatherman who blames the Japanese Mafia for Hurricane Katrina. To folks in Pocatello, he's the face of the weather at KPVI News Channel 6.

The Pocatello native made his final Channel 6 forecast Thursday night, leaving a job he's held for nine years in order to pursue his weather theories on a full-time basis.
The site itself is pretty cool - Tesla weapons, mysterious clouds, etc. Stevens was also written up in the Idaho State Journal here - Is the U.S. creating cloud cover?:
They call it Project Cloverleaf. At night, giant planes with no pilots roam the sky over the U.S. Instead of a mere vapor trail, they are filling the sky with unknown chemicals designed to darken the earth.

To thousands of people around the U.S., this is not a sci-fi movie or even a conspiracy theory; it is real.

Scott Stevens is a believer.

Stevens, a meteorologist and weatherman with News Channel 6 in Pocatello, said the phenomenon known as "global dimming" could be a clandestine operation by the government to slow the effects of global warming.

While global dimming is a contentious scientific issue, some scientists think thicker cloud cover may be reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the earth.

Stevens, who also runs the Web site, said he believes the cloud cover is generated by airplanes with chemical substances in their fuel to increase and extend the effects of vapor trails. Stevens has appeared on several national radio shows, including "Coast to Coast AM," in an effort to educate the public about chemtrails.

"It's called 'Project Cloverleaf' and it is the primary reason the U.S. has not signed the Kyoto accord, because we already launched a program to try to counteract the CO2 problem and the methane problem," Stevens said. "And that is through distribution of aerosol."

Science has established that vapor trails left by jets can form into clouds, actually growing and spreading. Some scientists think vapor trails might be part of a decrease in sunlight reaching the earth, but they do not believe Project Cloverleaf exists.

While scientists may be skeptical, people around the world have latched onto the unconventional idea. A Google search of "project cloverleaf" brings up about 50,000 hits, many of them conspiracy theory Web sites. A search of "chemtrail" gets about 280,000 hits.

A Linguist's Alternative History of 'Redskin'

The PC police think that team names like "Seminoles", "Braves", etc. are perjorative and racist. These guys obviously have never rooted for a sports team - otherwise they'd realize you don't name your team after something you despise - but did the term "Redskin" have a racist connotation at inception? Smithsonian linguist Ives Goddard says "no":

For many Americans, both Indian and otherwise, the term "redskin" is a
grotesque pejorative, a word that for centuries has been used to disparage and
humiliate an entire people, but an exhaustive new study released today makes the
case that it did not begin as an insult.

Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard spent seven months researching its history and concluded that "redskin" was first used by Native Americans in the 18th century to distinguish themselves from the white "other" encroaching on their lands and culture.

But facts don't deter those suing the Washington Redskins:
Harjo argues that pejorative use of "redskin" grew from the practice of offering bounties to anyone who killed Indians. Bounty hunters "needed proof of kill, but they had a storage problem," she said. "Instead of a body, they accepted the 'redskin' or the genitalia, or scalps."

But while such bounty proclamations were issued as early as the mid-18th century, Harjo acknowledged that she has not found an early instance of "redskin" in such a context.
Never let facts get in your way. Read the whole thing here.