Can you imagine what would happen if Israel used poison gas to kill Arabs?

From Spiegel…..

He is the foreman of a working party and has been digging for the past eight months. During that time two of his friends died underground. One was electrocuted, the other was killed when the Egyptians released poison gas into his tunnel. Mohammed was there when the gas canisters burst. “We heard the explosion and crawled back as fast as we could. Imad was behind us, the gas got him.” He says a short prayer, and also includes the two men who died last night.

A little throw away line in a Spiegel article. Who cares if Arabs use poison gas to kill Arabs?

That is the problems with the critics of Israel. If they actually believed what they said they believed and they actually fought for it, they might be a force for good in the world. Instead, they have one standard for Israel, and another for the rest of the world.

And I thought that duct tape would cure cancer

From the New York Times….

In a tour de force of office supply physics, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have shown that it is possible to produce X-rays by simply unrolling Scotch tape.

From latter on in the article…

The tape phenomenon could also lead to simple medical devices using bursts of electrons to destroy tumors. The scientists are looking to patent their ideas.

Upcoming Site Update

Within the next week (perhaps in the next day or so) I will be updating this website. If all goes well, this will affect none of you. However, there is the possibility that I might somehow screw up the RSS feeds. If you follow this website on an RSS reader and don’t get a new post by the end of next week . . . that will mean I somehow managed to not port the feed smoothly. In that case, you will need to delete the feed from your reader, and come back to this website and pick it back up.

But I hope I don’t make any mistakes, and everything upgrades smoothly, and nobody will need to do anything.

One Trillion Dollar Deficit

From Bloomberg…..

The U.S. Treasury faces historic financing demands from a weakening economy and the added costs of a $700 billion Wall Street rescue program, the department’s top domestic finance official said today.

“This year’s financing needs will be unprecedented,” said Anthony Ryan, the Treasury’s acting undersecretary for domestic finance, at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference in New York, where he was a last-minute substitute for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Ryan’s borrowing outlook comes after Treasury officials spent much of the past month publicly praising the rescue plan’s virtues. The Treasury needs to sell debt to raise money for the new initiatives and also cope with a weaker economy, two factors analysts say may push the country’s budget deficit to more than $1 trillion for the current fiscal year.

Considering the original forecast was for 400+ billion dollar deficit, that is quite a jump.

What Is Your God?

From The Belmont Club…

In other words, it would have been better if Benes had just left things alone. Just two weeks after the magnificent last stand of the Anthropoids at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, a huge rally in support of the Third Reich was held in Wenceslas Square, as this video shows. The Nazis gloated that “terror has produced the desired results”. It did, even politically. Benes himself was taken to task after the war for launching the operation on Heydrich without considering the consequences on the Czechs. In the end, as Camus observed, it is always innocence and not guilt that is called on to justify itself. Guilt doesn’t give a damn.

The true test of your ideals is not what you achieve, but what you will give up to achieve them. One of the reasons that the Nazis conquered so easily was that no one in Europe was willing to give up very much in order to oppose them. As I argued in my essay “The Crisis of Authority,” World War II revealed how weak the ideals of much of Europe really were (and are). Only the communists where willing to fight and die in large numbers in the conquered nations (with the possible exception of Norway).

It is telling to read how many people consider such sacrifices a mistake even on a conservative blog like the Belmont Club. Here is one such comment….

Only in Communist-led resistance, where they gladly traded 1,000 innocent civilian lives to kill 12 enemy troopers, persisted. In the communist mindset, large casualties are acceptable because individual life is cheap compared to the importance of revolutionary macrotrends that are sought to be cultivated by partisan attacks and mass reprisals. Mao felt the same way as Stalin or Tito or their minions in France.

In one sense I agree with this. The communists most certainly did not value life. Nor do I wish to make the communists into heroes. But having as your highest goal the preservation of yourself and your family is no better. The natural result of this desire is to make any man who can credibly threaten to kill you or your family into a kind of God. If you insist on a certain chance of success before you will do anything you are saying that you will worship anyone who is sufficiently powerful.

What bothers me about today’s conservative movement is that there is so many people who are willing to boast about what evil things they would do to preserve their family’s life and so few people willing to boast that they would give up their lives and their family’s lives for their ideals even if that accomplished nothing.

The reason we have it so good in the west is that there were a number of people in our past who laid down their lives with no hope of getting any benefit for themselves or their families in return. When there is no one left who is willing to do that, the “west” will cease to exist in its current state no matter how powerful it is.

Land slide for Obama?

From Megan McArdle….

Even more shocking is that my grandmother, a rock-ribbed Republican who to my knowlege has never voted Democratic and will not let a bad word be spoken about George W. Bush in her hearing . . . that GOP-lovin’ granny almost voted for Obama. At the last minute, she decided that since she lives in Western New York, and there’s no chance of Obama losing the state, she could safely support her party. But that she even thought about voting for the Democrat augers dire things for the McCain campaign.

I would dismiss this anecdote accept that I have seen the same thing. For example, I know a firm supporter of the Republican Party whose opinion of African Americans would put him in the raciest working class white man category. He told me that for the first time in his life he has thought about voting for the democratic ticket.

Of course, I know firm McCain supporters. But it does not seem good that McCain is struggling to keep the support of people who voted for Bush two elections in a row and every other republican candidate previous to that.

A lot of lower income white males who are die hard republicans could support the war in Iraq as long as it was about killing people. But when it became about rebuilding the country it was harder for them to support it. There is too much stuff around them that needs to be rebuilt for them to be happy with hundreds of billions of dollars to be spent on a country that they feel will just turn against them in the end. Throw a trillion or so in bailouts for the banking industry when the manufacturing firms were allowed to go under, and you have the makings for some serious class resentment.

People in my area still miss those manufacturing jobs and they don’t understand why they left.

Credit Collapse Hurting World Trade?

From Naked Capitalism….

The cause is the break down of the world commodity trading system. For the past few weeks Andy and I have been reporting in our respective dailies on the difficulties being faced by importers and exporters of basic materials in getting access to bank finance to fund trades. For example, Andy wrote about South Korea’s request for immediate aid support from the US to fund food and fuel imports, I discussed how the lack of trade finance was reducing the volume of coal shipments into Rotterdam and was affecting the volume of US grain exports. When you come to think about it, if banks are reluctant to lend to each other because of perceived counter-party risk, why are they going to lend to a small trader from Asia, Africa or even Europe. We know of banks that have rejected letters of credit from other banks – and we are aware of banks that have simply refused to pay out on letters of credit because they claimed they did not have access to the funds. Without a working trade finance system the global market is going to break down……….eventually.

And that’s where we are at the moment. The reason that spot iron ore prices in India have collapsed – more than halving in three months, is because Chinese demand has vanished but it has vanished because of a combination of real demand destruction and apparent demand destruction caused by the inability to finance cargoes. Its the same for other bulk commodities, industrial metals, coal, oil and even food. The slump in global demand for basic materials is real but it is not as bad as the BDIY would make you believe.

What is the proper slope for drain and waste pipe?

This is not as simple a question as it might seem if you are talking about doing the bare minimum to follow code. There are a couple of major plumbing codes in use in America and they don’t all agree as this conversation from the Ask Me Help Desk forum makes clear.

From this Forum Post….

Plumbing codes in the USA mandate that pipes 3″ and smaller get 1/4″ pitch per foot minimum.

Pipes 4″ and larger can have a minimum 1/8″ pitch per foot.

If not on commercial job using a transit level to keep track of slope I take a 4 foot level and I tape a 1/2″ block of wood at the very end of the level which is equal to 1/8″ pitch per foot so that when I place the level on the 4″ or 6″ underground pipe, for example, and get a level reading from the level I know I have a properly pitched pipe for sure!

From another post on the same forum…

I got this from Google,

Minimum 1/4″ of fall per foot on 2″ pipe or smaller.
Minimum 1/8″ of fall per foot on 3″ or larger.

1/2″ per foot is Maximum.

Which garnered this response…..

MUST be IPC code…all others that I know of require as I posted…1/4″ per foot 3″ and smaller, 1/8″ pitch per foot 4″ and larger.

Always seems to be some exception to every rule!! I swear!

I know I wouldn’t go with only 1/8″ pitch per foot on a 3″ toilet line…just seems to be asking for trouble.

The IPC coder referred too is the International Plumbing Code. It is one of the plumbing codes that are used in America.

I agree with the last commentator that 1/8″ pitch per foot is risking it for a 3″ toilet line. In general, I am a steeper is better kind of guy.

But some people argue you should never pitch any waste drain for more then 1/2″ drop per foot. If you over do your pitch, the water is going to out run your waste. This means that the waste could build up and block your drain. Other people argue that this is just an old wives tales.

I think that there is usually some truth to those old wives tales. I would not doubt that you can overdo pitch if you try hard enough. However, I have never seen good sold scientific support for the “no greater than 1/2″ drop per foot rule.”

I wonder why this is. One would think that someone would have settled the issue in a scientific matter by now. But if they have, I have never come a crossed it.

No One Is Immune

From the Economist….

UNTIL recently Japanese banks had largely avoided the agonies of the credit crunch that had caused such difficulties in much of the rest of the world. Now the misery has well and truly come to Tokyo. The culprit is not toxic derivatives and swaps, but ordinary shares held by banks in Japanese companies. These cross-shareholdings, a peculiar feature of Japanese capitalism, are having pernicious effects. As share prices fall, banks are force to revalue their assets, which in turn reduces their capital ratios. The result is a need to raise capital quickly.

In the past four trading days, the Nikkei 225-share index has tumbled by 23%. On Monday October 27th the index plunged by 6.4% to 7,162.90, the lowest level in 26 years. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Japan’s biggest bank, plans to raise as much as Â¥990 billion ($10.6 billion) by issuing new common shares of perhaps Â¥600 billion and preferred securities of Â¥390 billion. Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group are said to be planning their own capital increases.

The government is scrambling to help out. It is poised to announce a set of new measures, including spending perhaps Â¥10 trillion to buy shares in companies that the banks hold (in an off-market transaction, so their values do not fall further). This was a tactic used by the Banks’ Shareholdings Purchase Corporation to respond to a banking crisis in 2002. The government may also request that pension funds and life insurance firms buy equities to support the market, though whether they would respond remains to be seen.

The U.S. Department of Energy Does Bail Outs?

From the Wall Street Journal…..

The U.S. Department of Energy is working to release $5 billion in loans to General Motors Corp., according to a person familiar with the matter, a move that could help ease the way for the auto maker’s discussed merger with Chrysler LLC.

This is a surprise only because I have not been paying attention. Apparently the auto makers bail out was always supposed to be coming through the Department of Energy. The next thing I know, I will be finding out that the State Department will be handing out cash to international companies.

And doesn’t the part about helping a stupid merger go through make you sick? I mean, what is the point of using government money to tie two sinking ships together?