The Boy Who Built A Breeder Reactor (Almost)

This is the most comprehensive writeup I’ve seen of the teenager who attempted to build a breeder reactor. I’d seen brief reports about this in the past, but this goes into incredible detail. The guy was arguably a prodigy, but unfortunately not terribly wise–he will almost undoubtedly die of cancer before he would have naturally. It’s a fascinating read.

I’m a big supporter of nuclear energy as a clean, safe, non-global-warming or habitat-destroying power source, but please, leave it to the professionals.

Not Getting It, Part II

This time, Salon bites the big one over Spain vs. al Qaeda. They claim that since Spain is taking away European support for the war, it is undoing al Qaeda’s raison d’etre.

Contrast this with Virginia Postrel’s link to a Washington Post piece by Fareed Zakaria (linked to her post because the WP tends to expire pieces quickly) that states, in part:

Al Qaeda’s declaration of jihad had, as its first demand, the withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden does not seem to have noticed, but the troops are gone — yet the jihad continues. The reasons come and go, the violence endures.

The point being that our Yemeni friend doesn’t really care if his specific demands are met; only that his larger goal of provoking a war between radical Islam and everybody else is met, with him becoming the Caliph of the Umma, or body of Muslim believers. So all Spain is doing is saying, “Hey, Osama, you’re right, it works! Do it some more!”

People at Salon might want to review the history of aircraft hijackings, particularly in the 1970’s. Left uncontested, they grew more popular as they were a safe and easy way to make money. Then, as stricter security measures were put into place, they declined. Vigorous prosecution and international cooperation did them in until September 11, 2001 saw more hijackings in one day than had taken place in the previous ten years in the U.S.

You don’t have to say “Bush is right” to acknowledge that capitulating to terrorist demands is counterproductive–tragically so. I beleive the U.S. was wrong to go into Iraq since the claims of WMDs have proven false. That doesn’t mean I think that prosecuting terrorists by military as well as legal means isn’t valid, or that part of that means not being seen to give in to their demands. Like it or not, the Bush administration wasn’t seen to be giving into their demands when it pulled out of Saudi in the wake of the Iraq war. It may have been, but it wasn’t seen to be, since it was busy cheesing them off in other ways.

Nor does vulnerability in Europe depend solely on a country’s stance on Iraq. France has already been warned that, despite its very public support of Palestine and opposition to the U.S. on Iraq, it faces terrorism in response to its decision to ban head-scarves and other overtly religious symbols from public schools. Spain’s move makes it more likely that France will suffer for its secularism.

Is that what people at Salon really want? Seriously, guys, stop and think about it for just a second. You can be internationalist without bending over and spreading ’em for every armed thug on the planet.

Update: The link to Virginia Postrel’s piece was wrong; I fixed it.

Prosititution on the Cutting Edge of Science

Apparently this prostitute reads New Scientist, volunteers in her community, and books by e-mail. Since, as the New Scientist reported, people lie more often by phone than e-mail, she gets fewer cancellations and people who pay for missed visits.

Mass hysteria! Dogs and cats living together! Prostitutes volunteering and having a missed appointment charge policy!

Thanks to Marginal Revolution for keeping on top of this vitally important social issue.


So I got a temporary onlay taken out this morning, and a permanent one put in. I really was unprepared for it to be done without being numbed. The drilling had obviously been deep, and I could even just feel air moving over the exposed surface. Once the porcelain overlay was put on, it hurt for a couple of hours, until I took some aspirin.

I suppose, this being a wisdom tooth, it wasn’t worth the time and expense for it, but any more and I’d be begging for some lidocaine.

Just thought I’d share.

Moral of the story: Brush and floss while you’re young, kids, ‘cuz the longer you let something go, the more it hurts.


I want to joke about this, but it’s truly disgusting.

A UK government trainer that taught young girls how to avoid pedophiles has been sentenced to seven years in jail.

Sure, I guess the person with the most knowledge to train people on how to avoid child molesters is a child molester. You’d think that they would screen just a BIT more carefully. I don’t know if the British system is like the American one, where we were taught all about strangers, when most molesters are friends, family, or authority figures such as, apparently “child molestation avoidance trainers.”

Just more evidence, if any were needed, that giving a function to the government is no more a guarantee of quality or diligence or lack of criminality than giving it to anybody besides the mafia.

I Bet They Get Hangnails, Too

The BBC reports on what is some fairly premature research, in multiple ways. Apparently, the New Danger is that having HIV increases your risk of heart disease. And people need to know this so they have a reason not to get HIV?

OK, ok, sure, as the article notes, it can lead to blood clots and it does so more quickly than in non-HIV patients, so it could conceiveably shorten the lifespan of an HIV sufferer. HIV-infected people also have a much longer life expectency now. Maybe someday we’ll even have a cure, and at that point this will be the Big Reason not to get HIV.

But as the article also points out, the study is done on a very small number of patients, overstates the risk, and doesn’t seem to take into account true causation (such as HIV treatments affecting heart disease risk). The Big Picture is: if you get HIV, your worst problem is avoiding getting full-blown AIDS. Everything after that runs a way distant second or less.

I do look forward to the day when this is the worst problem that HIV positive people have to worry about, though.

The Pause That Upgrades

I’ll be moving to a new server, which will hopefully allow trackbacks for me. There may be a slight delay as DNS resolves to the new server. Expect wonkiness, but hopefully brief wonkiness.

Update: Upgrade appears to be successful; I can indeed ping. Apparently Slackware 9 is a little more advanced than Slackware 4. Still, my host, Hurricane Electric, made it super-easy to do. A few more tests and I am so done for the day.

We Are the Sandy Smith

From: 	 <redacted>
Subject: 	All those Sandy Smiths out there
Date: 	March 10, 2004 7:24:51 PM EST
To: 	  <a bunch of email addresses>, and 11 more...
Reply-To: 	  <redacted>


I have, on a whim, don't ask me why, searched google for "Sandy Smith" (thats
me - and you too).  Thought it would be kind of interesting and fun to send y'all
an email with each other's info.  The Sandy Smith club...

Here are most of the Sandy Smith web pages I thought would be appropriate
and had the time to look through.  You'll probably have to cut and paste these
into your browser.


Sandy Smith's%20pagenew/ssmith.htm

No, it’s not from me, and yes, I now feel odd not being in Real Estate…but I feel less odd being male.

Update: Sandy Smith has written in to say that his U. Penn Website is no more and he can be reached here: