Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wasatch Wildflower Festival

Albion BasinI abandonned Coco for the day and went to the Wasatch Wildflower Festival in the Albion Basin. (Dogs are not allowed in the Cottonwood Canyons).

It is amazing, while the city and desert swelters, the high mountains are still in full bloom.

I was really happy to see the large crowds of people attending the guided wildflower walks. I think that engaging people in the appreciation of wildflowers is among the best ways to encourage conservation. The volunteers at the event had a phenomenal knowledge of the local plant life. The people were friendly, the air was cool and everybody had a good time.

The last day of the festival is 7/30/2006. The wildflowers will still be hanging around for the summer and have a booked engagement in the mountains for 2007.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Middle East Wars

I am feeling sad. It is really absurd for us to be letting Isreal drag us into a war with Syra and Iran. I said nine days ago that Isreal was probably right to respond to the Hizbollah tit with a tat.

The tit for tat stategy often works. Had Isreal responded to Hizbollah's rockets with a few barages of missiles then unilaterally stopped, Isreal would have forced Lebanon and the Arab world to bridle in Hizbollah terrorists.

Unfortunately, Isreal has rejected the tit for tat strategy and seems intent on a strategy of gradual escalation. Gradual escalation means world wide war.

The stated goal I keep hearing is that Isreal's goal is to kill all the people who hate Isreal. Unfortunately with each casuality they inflict, they increase the number of people in need of killing. Isreal is going to have to kill between 30 to 100 million people to make any significant dent in the number of people that hate Isreal.

Killing all the people that hate you never works, because the act of killing all of your enemies creates more enemies.

Conversely, the tit for tat strategy works because it points out the world that nasty things being done by Hizbollah.

Unfortunately, the ongoing invasion changes the world's perception of Hizbollah from that of a terrorist group to that of freedom fighters.

If the US and Isreal played the game right, the missile barrages and use of landmines by Hizbollah would come off as bad form. Moderates in the Arab world would turn against Hizbollah ... reducing the number of enemies of Isreal.

Right now, the US is in a dangerous situation where Isreal could escalate a kidnapping into a regional war involving US troops.

While the escalation of the war has me sad. The use of landmines in the war really has me on end.

Imagine how wonderful it would be if the US had signed the landmine ban. If we had, then we would be in a position to condemn Hizbollah for using a banned terrorst weapon.

Unfortunately, since our own Donald Rumsfeld is the world's number one promoter for widespread use of landmines, Hizbollah is able to use landmines with impunity.

I agree with neocons that the US needed to confront radical Islam. Unfortunately we need to do so with some intelligence and tact. Intelligence and tact that Rumsfeld and friends clear lack.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Nation's Freezer Chest

I was reading several of the articles ridiculing Bush for vetoing a bill that to give federal funding to stem cell research.

I think conservatives are right in fearing that the massive federally fund. The stats that jumps out during the diatribes is that the US has 400,000 human embryos on ice.

400,000 is a difficult number of comprehend. The population of America's ice chest is twice the population of Salt Lake City.

The funny thing is that these embryos were obviously created by people who see them as more than just blobs of cells. The very fact that they are paying big bucks to keep the embryos frozen is proof that the parents see them as real. Rand reports that only about 10,000 of the 400,000 are available for research. The rest are hoping to be adopted by surrogate parents to be brought to term.

As it takes a great deal of effort to collect and freeze haumn embryos, I would guess that filling an ice chest with 400,000 embryos entailed the creation of several million more. Add this to a the million plus abortions done by the American medical community each year ... and I hope that it is apparent that something is terribly wrong and out of control.

The biggest problem is that our modern system of discourse has destroyed our ability to debate important social issues.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Grandeur Peak

Church Fork Cascade
On July 21, I took a short walk up the Grandeur Peak Trail. I spent about 15 hours processing, resizing and labeling images from the walk. I need to find a better way of doing this. About three quarters of the images are of wildflowers. So, I am gradually accumulating a resource with information about what types you will find, when and where in the Rockies. Click the picture on the right and you can follow the hike (with all the wildflowers) to the summit. There's about 100 images in the gallery. I have yet to figure out the ideal number of pictures for a gallery, I figure 80 is max ... however it is easy to cross that number when including images of plants.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Resource Inflation

The inflation of fuel prices is being driven primarily by world wide demand for fuel.

The relatively small amount of inflation that the US is currently seeing is being driven by the world economy. The US economy is growing at a robust, but not irrational pace (especially considering the current state of world wide expansion).

What I don't understand is that the Federal Reserves has been jacking up interest rates in an effort to slow the US economy. Their aim is to spoil the US economy in a vain attempt to affect the global economy.

It seems to me that the wiser course would be to accept the inflation in the price of natural resources. The inflation that occurs because of rising world demand for oil is not something the US Federal Reserve to control. Trying to control something out of one's control can lead to bad consequences.

At this point, the struggle of the American economy is to realign itself with new global realities. Americans need to invest in conservation and there needs to be a major realignment of American investment so that our business will be better in line with new global realities.

Both of these goals are difficult because of the high interest rates.

The Fed needs to be making its rates decisions based on the state of the US economy (discounting inflation caused by the global economy). The US alone cannot control the global economy. It seems to me that stifling the US economy in a time of global expansion actually puts the US at a disadvantage.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Silly and Sad

Like many, I found myself sitting in my comfortable arm chair trying to decide if Isreal over-reacted to the kidnappings and if they have been using accessive force in responding to the rocket attacks from Hizbollah.

Of course, my idle musing are pure sillyness. The problem is the tens of thousands of rockets given to Hizbollah by Syria and Iran. The real problem is that segments of the Arab world are infected with an "us v. them" ideology that has bear rearing for war. I am certain that the problem cannot be solved through war.

I do understand the neocon view that when you are standing against an ideology set on war, it is better to have the war on your terms ... rather than waiting for a Pearl Harbor to precipitate the war.

The big problem is that war tends to spawn more war. The righteous v. gentile ideology starts the division. The attrocities of war carve the divisions created by our ideologies into the cold stone corners of our hearts.

The real provocation for the current Israeli action was a concerted effort on parts of the Arab world to arm a terrorist group in Southern Lebanon. I see Israel's action as a lunacy. It is reaction to action.

The true path to peace is to support efforts to support ideals of compassion and peace. The skiff between Hizbollah and Israel simply highlights the results of the ideology of division. Hopefully, people in

Arabs for Israel is an interesting site that does not see support of Palestinians and support of Isreal as mutually exclusive.

I think promoting classical liberal ideals is a good path to peace. Such ideals focus on the individual. When you consider Palestinians, Lebaneses and Israelites as individual people, you end up finding more commonalities than differences. The intractible conflicts that occur when you consider them as "peoples" disappear.

In other words, the class of thinkers who divide every one into classes of people are the bad guys. The class of people who see people as individuals are the heroes.

Oh no! By making my analogy, I accidentally included me in the bad guy category.

I guess that is the danger of this silly war game. It is far to easy to blunder from the good guy into the bad guy category.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Huntsman Cancer InstituteI took a short walk along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail from Red Butte Gardens to the new Huntsman Cancer Institute building at the University of Utah Medical Center.

Wow, there is big money in medicine. The new building cost $100M to build add that to other facilities in the area and you have a price tag approaching a billion. If you are looking for a career. The place to be is health care.

This little corner of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail provides beautiful vistas of the University and Salt Lake City. You can cap off a trip with a visit to Red Butte Gardens which provides horticulture displays.

This section of trail is a good example of my ideals of urban development. You have a complex with multiunit housing, large buildings, etc., next to wilderness.

It is much better than the sprawl paradigm where the town sprawls out from the center.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mill Creek

Indian PaintbrushMill Creek Canyon is one of the few places in the Wasatch where you are allowed to take dogs. So, I've added a substantial number of photos of the area. I've concentrated on flower pictures. The Little Water trail is a great place to find such pictures. About every 100 yards, you are in a different zone with new and wonderful species to examine. The Terrace-Elbow Fork Trail is quite interesting in this regards as well. Basically you climb onto a small shoulder in the canyon. This gives you a sampling of a diversity of plant life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Family of Plants

While professional taxanomists are renaming all of the families of flowers left and right, I decided that I am entitled to create my own names for plants. So, last night I declared the existence of a new family of plants to be called the Mysteriaceae (pronounced miss-steer-y-a-see-a). The Mysteriaceae is the largest and most diverse family of all plants. It includes flowers of all colors, most grasses and fungii along with an embarassing large number of trees. For that matter, most of the plants I find along the trail belong to this family.

If you are on a hike and someone starts prodding you to indentify a plant, feel free to call it a Mysteriaceae. That will get 'em off your back.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July

Fourth of JulyI attended the fourth of July Fireworks celebration at Sugarhouse Park. I wanted to try long exposure pictures of the fireworks. Most of the pictures didn't work, but I got one or two interesting shots. Note this set of shots was experimental.

Anyway, I created a gallery for the event. Amazingly, I got the photos up within a few hours of viewing the event.

The Crowd Pours Into the StreetI have to admit, my favorite part of a fireworks display is the moment after the finale when the crowd pours into the streets ... stopping all of the traffic and turning the town into a mass of pedestrian traffic. It is one of the few times in the year where we actually get to see the large numbers of people that live in this community. There is a million people in this valley ... most huddled over computers at work or on the freeways commuting.

The rare times when we come out of our shells as a community is interesting indeed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Court Activism Revisited

I just finished Richard Epstein's short work How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution.

Mr. Epstein views recent Judicial Activism from a classical liberal perspective and finds the various twists of modern liberals (Progressives) lacking. Progressive courts have changed the focus of legal interpretation from one that sought to protect the rights of individuals to control their labor and property to one that allows arbitrary power graps by political insiders who claim themselves champions of "social progress."

Historically, most of these social progress schemes have failed to deliver social progress. They generally do little more than make the people with political power rich and more powerful.

Anyway, I found this "Classical Liberal" critique of Progressive Court Activism a refreshing break from the ideology driven Conservative and Libertarian critiques of the modern progressive courts. Epstein does not hold the argument that we have to return to some perfected bygone past. Instead the work shows the muddle that has bubbled out of the Progressive Activists courts for what it is. The end result of the Progressive movement is to concentrate power in the hands of the politically powerful while alienating the mass of people they claim to represent.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Programming Updates

Buttercup CollectionI spend the last 12 hours updating the picture page to DHTML Strict. As with most projects, there was about an hour of programming and 11 hours trying to get CSS to display the image the same in different browsers. CSS was a good idea, it was just a horrible, horrible, horrible implementation. This would have been only a 30 minute job if the bastards who wrote CSS left the align=center option. Instead CSS was written by elitist wanks who had decided that centering an image was too petty and bourgeoisie for a revolutionary formatting language like CSS. My final solution was to measure all of the sizes of the images and calculate the centering myself.

I also got around to adding alt tags to all of the pictures. The reason I didn't add the alt tags in the first place is that I had tight bandwidth constraints. I was scared that google would index all of the image and send the site more traffic than I was prepared to pay for. Fortunately, my web host has increased my bandwidth quota, and I have an upgrade path to more bandwidth.

Hopefully the new DHTML picture page and Context Browse page will bring more traffic.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Web Revenue Blues

I started watching parts of the Tour de France. Watching a peleton move is addictive.

As for other ways of wasting time. I tallied up the income for my web sites from last quarter. It takes a good part of the day to run the reports and all; so I am no longer reporting on a monthly basis.

Reported revenue has dropped to $1516.39 for the quarter. Yikes, I am now under $500 and the revenue is dropping like a stone. Which is odd because traffic is increasing at a steady pace. I usually only get about 90% of reported revenue. I am expecting about $1400 for the quarter .. expenses run about $750 for the quarter.

I sent about 20,000 hits to advertisers and made an average of 7 cents a click. I guess I would have to send about 160,000 clicks to advertisers a quarter to make a middle class living.