George Tweed recounts how he spent the morning of December 8, 1941

From page 3 of Whittlesey House’s 1945 Robinson Crusoe, USN:

“Damn Leathernecks!” I swore, as rifle and machine gun fire penetrated my sleep. “You would come out here practicing and wake people up in the middle of the night!” It was three in the morning. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Then I heard the field guns. First came the blast that sounded like a young cannon when the guns were first fired, then the report of the exploding shell. That woke me up and snapped me out of it. We Americans had no field guns on Guam.

“That’s not Marines! That’s Jap fire!”

I scrambled up, knowing exactly what I wanted to do…

I ran into the street, flung the groceries in the back of the car, and jumped in behind the wheel. As I stepped on the starter, Al shot down the steps and climbed in beside me. Gevarra jumped into the back seat. As I raced down the street, I realized that as soon as I turned into San Ramon, where the machine gun was set up, we had to climb a very steep hill. I didn’t want to stall on that hill. I was afraid to risk shifting gears. I thought that in the excitement I might get mixed up. So before we reached San Ramon, I put her in low gear and jammed that throttle down to the floor boards. The old jalopy sounded like a heavy ten-ton truck. It was a 1926 Reo, with a big six-cylinder engine, and it really let out a bellow. We roared around the corner and shot up the hill wide open. The machine gunner concentrated on us. He sent clip after clip stuttering our way. Bullets splattered all around us, hitting the street, the gravel and the rocks. Gevarra hugged the floor boards. It was only about two hundred yards up the hill, but scuttling along in low gear, and hearing the staccato of Jap machine gun bullets all around us, we thought it was a heluva long way.

Bill would widen movie theater seats

An open letter to the Pacific Daily News

5 December 2012

Dear Editor:

I agree with Mike Ysrael that private business owners ought to be free to decide what size parking stalls suit their customers’ needs (Bill would widen parking spaces, Dec. 4). I don’t even know what Senator Aline Yamashita means when she says she believes that a government mandate on the size of parking stalls at private businesses is necessary in order to “provide respect to the individual and their property.”

In public testimony for the hearing on Bill 263, Sen. Yamashita said the idea to mandate wider parking spaces came to her after numerous phone calls  from constituents and after she herself had trouble fitting into a spot one day.

Suppose next she receives phone calls lamenting the far too narrow girth of seats at a movie theater. We can imagine what might come next: legislative ‘research’ in the form of going to the movies a few more times, followed by a public hearing to gather testimony on how movie goers keep getting bigger, and finally a new bill to tell private theater owners what size seats to buy. And all this done in the name of providing “respect” to private property.

Sorry to state the obvious, but no one is forced to patronize any private business on island. If people choose to go to shops with parking stalls only 8 ½ feet wide, it is not for the Senator to concern herself with.

A business that fails to meet the needs of its customers doesn’t usually last very long. It is this competition to attract and satisfy customers – not government edict – that drives improvements in quality and service, of which parking is but a small component. Maybe we can get Senator-elect Mike Limtiaco to introduce a bill to repeal all government mandates over the width of parking stalls at private businesses.

Sincerely,

Paul Moroni

Only a liar would claim to have spanned the Grand Canyon in a single bound…

…only a fool would try.

The UN’s annual climate change conference is taking place in Qatar this week. On the way to lunch I caught a few minutes of some foreign science guy being interviewed about it on NPR. He spoke at a break neck pace about how serious a threat to mankind all this global warming is and how necessary and urgent it is for global governmental intervention.

I don’t know if global warming or global climate change or whatever it’s called these days is real. What I do know is how much uncertainty and misunderstanding there can be in even the most basic systems and how significant is the opportunity for unintended consequences to arise from seemingly straightforward decisions like curbing global CO2 emissions.

Here are the my hurdles to be overcome before any governmental attempts at action deserve serious consideration:

Step 1: Global warming is taking place

You would first need to prove that global warming is taking place; that over some finite period of time, temperatures are rising; that there is a trend and that the trend falls outside the margin of error.

Step 2: Warming is harmful to human survival

Then, you need to prove that this level of warming is having or will have some substantial harmful effects. Are sea levels really rising? How do we know the causal link doesn’t flow in the other direction? What level of harm should warrant intervention? How do we account for the balance between bad things like population displacement and good things like an increase in farmable land? Is it not possible that short run displacements are balanced by – or even lead to – long run (and thus unforeseeable) improvements for the human race?

Step 3: Rising GHG levels are causing global warming

Once you have proven that global warming is real and is harming people, you need to prove what is causing it. Is it ozone depletion as we heard about in the 1990s, or is it an increase in CO2 as we are now told*, or the increase in a different greenhouse gas (remember that water vapor is a GHG), or is it normal cyclical warming or something else entirely?

Step 4: Fossil Fuel Emissions causing rising CO2 levels

Once you prove that rising CO2 levels are causing warming with negative consequences, you need to identify the source of the rising CO2 levels. Is it emissions from carbon based fuels, emissions from animals, rainforest depletion, algae in the oceans?

Step 5: Avert harmful effects of global warming without creating other problems

Supposing now you had proven that the emissions from burning fossil fuels were not only the most significant, but the primary, majority, or singular cause of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and that these rising CO2 levels were the central cause of substantial global temperature increases, and that these temperature increases were decidedly negative to the life prospects of future generations of humans, you would then need to have the capacity to devise and implement a global program for resolving the problem in a way that does not lead to even more negative consequences than the original problem of global warming.

Thinking of the track record for failure in central planning schemes as well as the propensity for uncertainty, revision, bias, and lies to complicate the science in any domain, there is no way that any body can speak with certainty on either side of the debate. Anyone that does is a liar or a fool. For my money this means keeping global governmental intervention out of the equation.

* CO2 levels are alleged to have increased from 0.028% of the atmosphere at the start of the Industrial Revolution to a whopping 0.0397% of the atmosphere today.

Everything is a Remix

“[Danger Mouse’s] Grey Album is a remix, it is new media created from old media. It was made using these three techniques: copy, transform, and combine. That’s how you remix. You take existing songs, you chop’em up, you transform the pieces, you combine’em back together again. You’ve got a new song, but that new song is clearly comprised of old songs.

But I think these aren’t just the components of remixing. I think these are the basic elements of all creativity. I think everything is a remix and I think this is a better way to conceive of creativity…  

Our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are not self-made; we are dependent on one another. Admitting this to ourselves isn’t an embrace of mediocrity, or derivativeness. It’s a liberation from our misconceptions. It’s an incentive to not expect so much from ourselves, and to simply begin.”

Embrace the remix:

and then get your mind blown:

Part 1: The Song Remains the Same

Part 2: Remix Inc.

Part 3: The Elements of Creativity

Part 4: System Failure