June 08, 2007

Plotinus Strikes Again:

asymmetric – adjective

1. Immoral; unjust; unfair; illegal. 2. Cowardly.

USAGE: The detainee's suicide was an act of asymmetric warfare, the Gitmo commander said. (Source)

COMMENT: The word is typically applied to unjust acts, tactics and strategies in war. Examples include international treaties, judicial processes, and terrorism (see highlighted portion of U.S. National Security Strategy).

On the established principle that "might makes right," the weaker actor in war, faced by overwhelming force, cannot but act immorally – that is, unless that actor is principled and accepts his slaughter (or torture). Critics claim morality couldn't possibly sanction such an advantage to one side. S uch critics fall into confusion by assuming morality is symmetrical.

And he's got a lot more of those....

June 06, 2007

Something to think about when watching Wimbledon, or for that matter, any other professional sporting event:
The point of the exercise was to identify exactly when a seasoned player knew where the ball would head. (Damian) Farrow established five possible windows: First, he blackened the goggles just as the ball's flight path over the net was determined; second, as the server's racket made contact with the ball. Then he gave players less and less information — cutting off the image when the server's arm was cocked, as it was being drawn back, and, finally, at the very start of the toss.

Not surprisingly, receivers were better at guessing the ball's direction the later their vision cut out. But the results also revealed something more interesting. Graphs of the amateurs' reactions showed that they could anticipate where the ball would go only if they witnessed the racket making contact with it. Experts knew what would happen roughly a third of a second earlier, when the server's cocked arm was still unfolding.

What happened in that fraction of a second? A lot, Farrow reasoned. Up to a point, he theorized, the direction of a serve was fundamentally unpredictable: Whatever clues existed weren't ones that an opposing player could discern. By the time the ball had been hit, on the other hand, even a novice could make a plausible guess at its trajectory. What separated the pros from everyone else was the ability to pull directional information out of the early stages of a swing and therefore to predict a split second earlier where to head. This fraction of time is game- changing. A serve going 120 miles per hour takes approximately a third of a second to travel the 60 feet from baseline to service line. This means that an expert, who doesn't have to wait until contact, has twice as long to move, plant his feet, and swing.

This discovery fit with something Farrow and other tennis researchers had already suspected: Reflex speed is not the key factor in returning a serve. "People have tested casual players and experts, and their reaction times are essentially the same," Farrow says. The fact that Roger Federer can drill back a 140-mile-per-hour serve is partly a matter of muscle control. But it's also about processing subtle visual cues to predict where the ball will go and get to the right spot.
Dr. Farrow is an Australian sports scientist who is a pioneer in the study of "field sense," the ability, long thought to be innate, of an athlete to perceive his surroundings during a game. Read the whole thing.

June 05, 2007

Regnery Bulletin: Congrats to Matt Welch, who's putting ink to paper on a soon-t0-be-published blockbuster about a certain straight-talkin' Senator from the Southwest.

June 04, 2007

I have never understood the mentality of the sub-human thug that delights in the death of another. All I can say is that the wheels of justice grind slowly, and exceedingly fine.

June 03, 2007

Something I'd like to do more of: Attend "Eating Liberally" get-togethers. A good cross-section of the local lefty blogosphere, including Kevin Drum, David Ehrenstein, Mark Kleiman, and "Cactus" from Angry Bear, at Farmer's Market in Hollywood, where the food is excellent and the conversation sparkles.
Remember when Monica Goodling's lawyer was shedding crocodile tears over Congress' insistance that his client, who was then still an employee of the Justice Department, testify under oath about her actions in the firing of several U.S. Attorneys? Well apparently, when the issue is really important, like, say, whether baseball players have the right to remain silent before the Commissioner's Officer over their alleged use of anabolic steroids, he's much more flexible in his devotion to the Fifth Amendment:
The lawyer who headed baseball's investigation of Pete Rose wants commissioner Bud Selig to suspend players who don't co-operate with the steroids probe spearheaded by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

John Dowd said Selig should try to overturn the 1980 arbitration decision in a case involving Ferguson Jenkins, a native of Chatham, Ont. The ruling upheld a player's right to refuse to answer questions from baseball management if it jeopardized his legal position in a criminal case.

"I tell you what, it's time that stuff was challenged," Dowd said Tuesday in a telephone interview during which he criticized the players' union. "They already have too much power on this whole (steroids) issue anyway, in my opinion. And they've abused it. It's really disgraceful what the union's done here."
Dowd's a real piece of work. He was also the hired gun for Senator John McCain awhile back, defending him during his Keating Five problems, and when McCain's wife was under legal investigation for an addiction to pain killers, induced a prosecutor in Arizona to begin a baseless extortion inquiry into her chief accuser. And he was also co-counsel defending Vernon Jordan during the Clinton Impeachment inquiry. So the man does have an understanding of who the Bill of Rights is supposed to protect: powerful D.C. insiders and government officials.