Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The US Senate Just Voted Underwhelmingly Against Ahanging The US Consitution

Only 66 Senators voted in favor of tampering with the first amendment to remove my constitutional right to burn the US flag. I am delighted that 34 Senators are willing to risk the anger of voters who care more about the symbol of freedom than freedom itself. I'm sure many of the spineless 66 agree with me, but decided that it was politically safer to show disrespect for the bill of rights. It can't be an accident that the amendment was exactly one vote short.

Of course the issue is a symbolic issue both ways. US democracy functioned before the supreme court decided that the first amendment protected the right to burn the flag.

update: This is even better news. Most US citizens care more about freedom than the symbol of freedom.
It is not do so well at the moment, but today's vote is enough to make me wear my US flag tie again. I believe in freedom of the press even for the idiot who wrote the headline

"Poll results show support for Iraq pullout, flag-burning amendment"

Which implies "Poll results show support for ... flag-burning amendment"

When the polled people said

Do you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress and state governments to make it illegal to burn the American flag?

Results based on 484 national adults in Form A:
Date asked Yes, amended No, not No opinion
June 23-25, 2006 45 54 2

Some people feel that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to make it illegal to burn or desecrate the American flag as a form of political dissent. Others say that the U.S. Constitution should not be amended to specifically prohibit flag burning or desecration. Do you think the U.S. Constitution should or should not be amended to prohibit burning or desecrating the American flag?

Results based on 516 national adults in Form B:
Date asked Yes, amended No, not No opinion
June 23-25, 2006 45 54 2

I'm so happy that I am going to wear my US flag tie long enough that more than one person is going to actually see it this time.

Alan has left a new comment on your post "6/28/2006 03:54:00 AM":

I think the USA Today article got the first poll wrong, although the headline got it right. According to Gallup, a majority supported the version of the amendment which would authorize Congress or the state legislatures to ban flag-burning, although they opposed putting the ban itself into the constitution.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Italians just overwhelmingly voted against changing the constitution even though they were really more interested in the soccer match (Italy beat Australia 1-0). The center right (that is Berlusconi and lackey's) majority of the last parliament massively reformed the Italian constitution. One key aspect was to increase the power of states (regioni) compared to the federal government (a sop to the semi seperatist lega Nord). Others were to recast the Senate as a body representing regions, to make the Prime minister more powerful and to reform the judiciary in a typically transparent effort to make them stop the gross anti democratic misconduct of investigating Berlusconi's innumerable crimes. Since the then opposition (now majority) opposed these changes, they passed with majorities of less than 2/3ds so the changes had to be ratified by a referendum.

Oddly no one (including your humble blogger) seemed much interested. For one thing, although I am a poll addict, I knew of no polls on the question and had no idea how the vote would go. Today (yesterday here in Italy) at an economics conference, many people were eager to finish on time (for once) to see the Italy-Australia world cup match, but no one but me mentioned the referendum.

It is true that, in spite of this, 53,6% of eligible voters voted (puts the USA to shame but, these days, ...*). 61,3% voted no. I am insterested in the vote as a "political" issue, which in Italian means its about who is prime minister (not that it is about policy). Even Berlusconi couldn't claim that this shows that the Prodi government has no support and should resign.

It is, by the way, odd, that the prime minister campaigned against a reform which would strengthen his office while the opposition campaigned in favor. Anyway good news. The leader of the Lega Nord, Umberto Bossi, said he would move to Switzerland if the reform was rejected. Sad to say, I'm sure the Swiss don't want him.

I like to think that I paid so little attention to the center right's absurd "reforms" because I knew they would lose the referendum, but, in fact, I had no idea. It is, as the framers of the rejected European constitution should know, a bad tactic to go to a referendum hoping people will vote yes on a ballot which has to refer them to the Gazzetta ufficiale (federal register in Italian) if they want to know what they are voting about.

Now I pass to the semi obligatory Kevin Drum quote. Kevin Drum writes (about another constitution)

I agree with Kevin Drum

ADULTS WANTED, PLEASE APPLY AT THE DOOR ON THE RIGHT....I plead guilty to not paying attention. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

But is the United States Senate, the world's self-styled "greatest deliberative body," really only one vote short of passing a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration? Have they gone completely off their rocker?
NO 61,3%, SI' 38,7%

In fact my colpa is much worse than I thought. I decided to inform Kevin that, in Italy, villifying the flag is a crime. Then I found out that it's not any more and hasn't been for months now. The center right eliminated the law makiing " villipendio alla bandiera" a crime. Don't think they believe in freedom of speach. It is a sop to the Lega Nord which likes to insult the Italian flag and wave something which looks like a marijuana leaf instead. In fact, Bossi is a strong opponent of all the many laws which make speach a crime in Italy, mainly because he regularly violates them.

Oddly Italians were very amused that there had been a law against burning the flag in the USA not noticing the law they had until this January.

Also blogofascistic (sorry blogomovimentosocialic) partisanship is a bit extreme over here as Pasquale Carterisano, who is clearly a leftist, denounces the center right for appallingly supporting freedom of expression. I admit that I am bitter because he seems to follow the news more closely than I do.

Finally what about the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano ? In parliamentary democracies such as Italy, the President is similar to a constitutional monarch -- expected to symbolically represent the Nation, uphold the constitution and never express an opinion which might be controversial (this is easy for Napolitano because he has no ...*). In this case, since the constitution is contested, he couldn't uphold either the current or reformed constitution. Napolitano rose to the occasion magnificently

"Fra affluenza e calcio, proprio una bella giornata".

"With the turnout and soccer, it was really a wonderful day."

Now that man symbolically represents The Nation.

*yes Arwen those are English dots and mean (...) or "omissis" in Italian.

arwen has left a new comment on your post "6/27/2006 01:30:00 AM":

la Svizzera non vuole quel "terrone" di Bossi, ne sono sicura anche io.

Hans has left a new comment on your post "6/27/2006 01:30:00 AM":

"I'm sure the Swiss don't want him".
The Ticinesi would. But then the Ticinesi are considered terroni by the Swiss beyond the alps (infact they think ticinesi are beyond the alps). Of course the people from let's say Basel are considered by let's say the people of Bremen as terroni. On the other hand/land/island Sicilians most certainly consider the Tunisians to be true terronis.
I have to cut this now because dinner is almost ready ! At 1940 ! very Swiss German.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

This Blogroll is a joke right ?

I got a referal from the Ernie Chambers Project. No link to me in the post denouncing Norman Mineta for not being racist enough.

Oh My God There I am in the blogroll

Protein Wisdom
Robert's Stochastic Thoughts.

This poses a tricky problem. I have a policy of linking to anyone who blogrolls me, but I'm not sure of the judgement of someone who thinks I follow logically after powerline and protein wisdom.

Hmmm lets just say

Greg Palast
The Rude Pundit
The Ernie Chambers Project

Lest I be accused of lese rudeness, I hasten to add that make no comparison of the quality of the obscene invective at Protein Wisdom and the Rude Pundit. Should Mr Palast track back the link, yes Greg, I am comparing the quality of journalism at Powerline and Greg Sue me.

Ernie has left a new comment on your post "6/24/2006 11:21:00 PM":

Don't be so prissy. It's not like you're actually touching knees with the troglodytes.

"Ernie" appears to be the real not really Ernie who blogrolled me. Thank's again for blogrolling me and thanks for a rare non spam comment.

update: I'm still on his blogroll ! Thank you thank you not really Ernie for your extraordinary patience.
Cigarette Smoking, Pregnancy, Forward Looking Behavior and Dynamic Inconsistency


Carlo Ciccarelli, Luigi Giamboni and Robert J. Waldmann


We explore the reduction of smoking of women before during and after pregnancy using the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). We use pregnancy as an instrument for a partially predictable future decrease in smoking so we focus on the period immediately before pregnancy. Women reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke and many quit in the period 10 to 15 months before the birth of a child. This is robust statistically significant evidence of forward looking behavior. We find some evidence that suggests that this effect may be stronger for married than for unmarried women, corresponding to the higher probability that the pregnancies of married women are planned. It is possible in principle to use the instrument pregnancy to estimate parameters of a structural model of addiction. We find evidence that cigarettes are highly addictive. Oddly we do not reject the null of perfect predictability of pregnancy, presumably because of the low power of our test. Finally, we find evidence that expected cigarettes smoked one month after the interview is not a sufficient statistic for future smoking. There is borderline statistically significant evidence that expected smoking further in the future has an independent effect. This means that the null of time consistency is (barely) rejected against the alternative of time inconsistency.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I may disagree with George Bush when he defaces the US flag but I will defend to the death his right to do so.

Ok I admit it. I lied. I won't defend to the death George Bush's right to deface the US flag. Maybe Voltaire would, but it's easy for him since he's dead already.
If the Flag Burning (and defacing) amendment is ratified, I will go on living. What I will do is publicly wear my US flag bathing suit in public in the USA as an act of civil disobediance. And yes I really did wear my US flag tie to work to celebrate the US non loss against Italy, and, no, I did not promise that I wouldn't take it off one second after arriving at my office.

The flag signing incident is not just, as John notes, an opportunity for great guerrilla theater in the US senate "The Democrats need to offer an amendment to the "flag burning amendment" that says that writing on the flag is also illegal." although I expect pigs to fly before a Democratic Senator has the guts to propose the amendment.

It is a clear case in which we have to decide between respect for the flag and the law on the one hand and respect for the constitution on the other. It is a no brainer. George Bush has every right to autograph the flag and the so called law which says he can be sent to jail for 30 days for doing so is unconstitutional and thus mere ink on paper.

But also it is the millionth sign that there is something seriously wrong with Bush and his fans. It's not that he and his fans think of it as just a bit of cloth (as honestly I do). They think it is sacred and therefore worthy of bearing Bush's signature. For the President to Autograph the flag for someone who takes it seriously, is to place the President on the same level as The Republic. No republican would tolerate such an act. I wonder if there are any republican Republicans left.
The Snow Calling the Sand White*

Bush Accuses Iran of Stalling on Proposal

Ah that would be the Bush who refused in 2003 to respond to an Iranian proposal to, among other things cut off support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and accept the existence of Israel.

I will never forgive that bastard for making me agree with Ahmadinejad about anything. (I hasten to add that I agree with Ahmadinejad only about which of two presidents has stalled more blatantly and whether or not there are two or more Gods).

* The title is my effort at a politically correct version of the pot calling the kettle black. Any references to alleged bold faced lying by a press secretary is purely accidental.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Avatars of the Tortoise
Circular reasoning

Jorge Luis Borges liked old metaphors. The older the better. One of the characteristic forms of his essays was the following of a metaphor through history.
The archetypal example is "The Eternal Rose of Coleridge" which is self referential, because Borges compared excellent metaphors to that Rose ("The Name of" which is the title of a best seller).

I was struck by "Avatars of the Tortoise," well actually appalled. Borges considers many versions of Zeno's paradox. Zeno said consider the fleet Achilles who runs the hundred meters in 10 seconds, 10 times as fast as the slow tortoise (this has to be the worlds fastest tortoise). If he starts 100 meters behind the tortoise quickly reaches the point where the tortoise started, but the tortois is 10 meters ahead of him. He makes up that distance, but the tortoise is then 1 meters ahead of him. He makes up that distance but the tortoise is 10 centimeters ahead of him. The series goes on forever, therefore the fleet Achilles never passes the slow tortoise.

Zeno's error is obvious. "Never passes" means that there is an infinite interval of time before Achilles passes the tortoise. It is not necessarily true that the sum of an infinite series is infinite. In the example Achilles passes the tortoise after
11 and 1/9 seconds, that is 100/9 seconds since he starts 100 meters behind and gains 9 meters per second.

Amazingly the great Borges took Zeno's paradox seriously. He argues that it is a hint of unreality that convinces us that the image we have made of the universe is an illusion.

I think it shows that people find the concept of infinity very very confusing. In fact, I think that behind every profoundly counterintuitive result in mathematics you can find a tortoise. That they all have something to do with infinity.

This thought came back to me when I considered the mother of all counter-intuitive theorems Godel't theorem. Godel proved that, except for the simplest mathematical systems he called first order logic, it is not, in general, possible to determine whether an axiom system is consistent. That is we can not know if we can prove a contradiction from the axioms. The connection with infinity is clear. If we have looked and looked a billion years for a contradiction, we don't know if we would find it after a billion years and a day.

In a model universe which can only has a finite number of possible states, it is easy to check if axioms are consistent. Just see if they are true in any of the states. If they are, they are consistent. If they aren't they can't all be true in that universe, so they are inconsistent. That is, all is ok, if we consider only models with a finite state space.

Another case in which infinity makes infinite trouble is the halting problem. This is the question of whether a Turing machine will ever stop, that is, a question of whether a computer will ever finish running a program. We confront this problem whenever our system hangs. Thus windows users are much more knowledgeable about this fundamental issue than our Mac users. The problem is clearly related to Godel's problem, and, in fact, the questions are equivalent. It is easy to prove that no computer program can tell, for any other program, if a computer will ever stop if it is running the other program. The proof is take the program (A) which determines if another computer program will stop running. Rewrite A to B so that if A outputs "yes" add an infinite loop and if A outputs "no" B prints "no" and stops. Now use B as an input to B. If B stops, B doesn't stop. If B doesn't stop B stops. Now that is a paradox.

There is an analogous problem which can be solved. A Turing machine has an infinite memory. The memory is in two forms, one is the "state" of the Turing machine of which there are a finite number, the other is a tape with 0's an 1's written on it.

Now consider a finite circular tape with N bits of information. There is a Turing machine (C) which can tell if any other Turing machine will stop if set on a circular tape with N zeros. The reason is that there are only finitely many possible states of the tape and Turing machine. If the Turing machine moves around for a while and gets to a state (of it and the tape) where it has already been, it will never stop. Otherwise it will stop. C has to keep track of every state of the tape/turing machine and check it against every previous state.

In fact C can do this with another finite tape (with many many more than N bits of information but still finite).

The halting problem does not exist if we consider only Turing machines with finite circular tapes.

Now the question is might our universe have a finite state space ? Blake would disagree claiming one can hold infinity in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour, but Blake didn't know about Heisenberg. There is a smallest measurable interval of time and space. If the universe always has finite volume and lasts a finite period of time, it has a finite state space. That is, if the Universe is closed it is finite and all paradoxes are hints of reality that show that our images of the universe are as mistaken as Zeno.
Kevin Drum writes II

he blogosphere and the airwaves are practically dripping with derision for the performance of Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda in Saturday's USA-Italy World Cup match. Kieran Healy asks, "Where do FIFA find these guys?" Frank Foer is aghast: "How can we account for his Mickey Mouse performance?"

I didn't get to see the game, but I've now read half a dozen stories about it. And I don't get it. Larrionda's sins included three red cards and an offside call against USA, but all of them appear to have been justified.

This time I agree with Kevin Drum

I watched the match and thought Larrionda officiated almost perfectly (which is very very hard they don't have enough referees on the field in soccer).

The 3 red cards were clearly justified Pablo Mastroeni could easily have broken the legs he spiked. Also the ball was no longer there so he could have spread his legs without affecting the game.

Pope's first yellow could have been read. Italy was trying a fast break and Pope was all alone and beaten by his guy with nothing between them and the goal line but the goalee Keller. He tackled the Italian. In basketball talk, this is a flagrant foul of someone with a clear path to the basket/goal. In this case it was not stupid, because one more Italian goal would have eliminated the USA. I don't really know the rules for red vs yellow, but I thought Larrionda was distinctly merciful.

Then Pope made a totally stupid foul at a not totally critical point (near the Italian goal though and thus withing the penalty zone). Playing with a yellow card is like playing with 5 fouls, and, I think, the guy should practice doing so.

I didn't understand the off sides call. I am not experct enough to comment here. My understanding (explained by Italian commentators) is that a goal is called back only if the offsides player has a role in making the goal. Normally this would be by kicking the ball, but blocking the goalees vision counts too. Notice McBride (who seems to be a truly classy human being) said after the game that he agreed with Larrionda, accepting the blame for the not at all disappointing tie.

And McBride also seems to be the only human being willing to defend Daniele De Rossi the guy who elbowed him in the face. At "The midfielder apologized to McBride after the game and the American called him 'classy' for the postmatch gesture." McBride is a McMensch and I'm going to wear my US flag tie to work (in Italy) tomorrow.
Kevin Drum writes

"At the same time, it's just a plain fact that a huge number of jobs are basically unskilled or semiskilled, and we need to address the question of what happens to the people who fill them. Education really won't help here,"

I disagree.

Supply and demand Kevin, supply and demand. More education means higher supply of highly educated people. There is overwhelming empirical evidence that this leads to a lower wage premium for the highly educated which implies a more equal wage distribution.

In other words, more formal education means a reduction in the number of unskilled workers competing for the jobs which do not require formal education. This has, in the past, caused an increase in their wages.

Now I admit that the past in question was the early 70s when a huge number of people went to college to dodge the draft. The low economic return to their diplomas obviously had something to do with the fact that many majored in occupying the deans office.

Nonetheless when I arrived at college in 1978, an amused graduate student teaching introductory economics explained that it was more profitable to start working and save the tuition money than to go to college. This was really true then. Later we got lower enrollment and a huge increase in wage and salary inequality.

Outside of the USA there are countries with anomolously equal income distributions given their level of development, notably Taiwan under Chiang Kai Sheck and Sout Korea under Park Chung Hee. The did not get equality by banning unions (which they did) but by sending huge numbers of people to college.

They also got extremely rapid economic growth and, making the dictators roll over in their graves, democracy. Believe me, there is very strong evidence that a simple story based on supply of and demand for diplomas explains trends and international differences in inequality.

econgeek has left a new comment on your post "6/18/2006 01:53:00 AM":

Beaudry, Paul and David A. Green. "Wages And Employment In The United States And Germany: What Explains The Difference?," American Economic Review, 2003, v93(3,Jun), 573-602

Has pretty strong counter point to the traditional supply/demand explanation you propose. Any opinions on it ?

I haven't read the paper, but I can say what Larry Katz (big supply and demand for diplomas guy) said in 1989 or so.

In continental Europe there are national wage guidlines with the force of law. Wages negotiation between the unions and the association of firms are binding on firms and workers who had nothing to do with the negotiations. Firms can pay more than the guideline but not less. In Germany, these guidlines are different for different lander. Thus relative wages are determined centrally and not by supply and demand.

The shift in supply and demand of human capital story goes as follows. There has been a huge increase in demand for workers with some technical knowledge (read not scared of computers). There has not yet been a corresponding increase in supply. Therefore, if relative wages are determined by supply and demand, wage inequality has increased enormously. If relative wages are not determined by supply and demand, youth unemployment has increased enormously.

Notably since then, some continental countries have seen sharp declines in unemployment and some contries with highly centralised wage bargaining (read Austria and usually Sweden) never had a prolonged period of extremely high unemployment. I haven't talked to Katz in a while (my huge loss) so I don't know what he thinks now.

Germany has high unemployment, the labor market is very far from clearing. It is not possible to determine the market price of skill in Germany from German wages.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Further Google Images Failure

Tonight my 16 year old daughter Marina asked me to find a particular work by
Abderrazak Hamouda on the web.

The work in question was neither this nor the much more interesting work whose full sized image is at a dead link.

However, when I clicked on the images button and she saw images not urls she did say "cool dad" and even agreed to be quoted on this blog so it wasn't a total loss.

Also I learned that Abderrazak Hamouda was born in Gabès and lives in Geneva and has the same name as a hero of the Algerian war of independence.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Kathy's post again. Her web page is here.

era un po difficile vedere la pancia di un porcospino, ma grazie a una trovata di mio padre ci siamo riucsiti (abbiamo messo il porcospino su una sedia di plastica e cosi).

Monday, June 12, 2006

Zen and the art of sexing hedgehogs
Google has Failed me (or have I failed google).

update: I failed google see below

Second update:

Welcome Froomkinites. I see that Michael Froomkin's traffic is up, since the spike due to this Froomkin link is as big as a typical spike due to a Brad DeLong link (80 hits and counting).

This post was a long explanation of the brief post by my 8 year old daughter Kathy which can be read before this post, after this post or right here

"era un po difficile vedere la pancia di un porcospino, ma grazie a una trovata di mio padre ci siamo riucsiti (abbiamo messo il porcospino su una sedia di plastica e cosi)."

In English with appropriate capitalisation and a corresponding typo

"it was a little difficult to see the belly of a hedgehog, but thanks to an idea of my father we suceceded (we put the hedgehog on a [transparent] plastic chair and so ...)."

Not long and "riucsiti" is a typo for "riusciti" but pretty good for an 8 year old no ?

here is Kathy's web page

Here is proof that we saw the belly of a hedgehog.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I know the photographs are low quality but we have a minor hedgehog related problem. Today we took hedgy to see our new home where he will be welcome in the garden. We took him back to this house in the trunk of a ford Fiesta. It turns out that late model Ford Fiestas have a very strange nook (or perhaps cranny) in their trunk which hedgy found attractive. I can reach into the nook and twist my arm around and stab my fingers on his quills, but we will have to wait until he chooses to forage for food in the trunk of the car for furhter photo opportunities.

OK back to the original post

How can I go on living without faith in google ?

update 3: note I failed google. My little sister found a cyber hedgehog penis in 5 minutes.

The post below was written by my daughter Kathy, age 8. Yesterday I found a hedgehog who my niece named hedgy. Marina (age 16) pointed out that it was possible that hedgy was a mother and so we should release him or her where I found him or her. This caused great distress, because I found hedgy near a busy road where I have seen him or her twice (unsquashed) and where I would expect to find him or her flattened in the near future. We (that is Kathy and I) want to keep hedgy and release him or her at our new house where there is less traffic (at least that is our excuse).

Thus it became extremely important to learn if hedgy might be a mom.

I hoped to rule out the possibility by googling hedgehog mating habits. I learned on one page that they mate in May or June and have a gestation of 40 days, which would tend to mean that the hedgehog in question (from now on hedgy) might be pregnant but would have to be extraordinarily together to have given birth.

However another page reported that hedgehogs mate in April then again in August. I am reasonably confident that with more googling I could have found claims about hot hedgehog action in the remaining 8 months.

Hedgy had a very strong musky scent yesterday. Hoping that this was a male pheromone (and not an effort to convince me that he or she had been dead for a month) I googled hedgehog AND pheremone. Google was alert enough to correct my spelling of pheromone.

Unfortunately there is a drosophila homeotic gene called hedgehog. That's homeotic not homoerotic. A homeotic gene is a gene mutations of which cause developmental abnormalities in which a part of the organism developes into an inappropriate organ. A classic example is antennapedia in which the poor fly grows legs on its head instead of antenae. The patient reader will soon learn why I wrote "homoerotic", "inappropriate organ" and "google has failed me".

There is also a pop culture figure called sonic hedgehog, which I am too old to recognise and, of course, a drosophila homeotic gene called sonic hedgehog. I'm used to not getting current youth culture references, but to be so out of touch that I haven't heard of something old enough to have a drosophila homeotic gene named after it is a bit of a shock.

Anyway male hedgehogs do make a pheremone. Hedgy's smell might imply that he couldn't be a mother. On the other hand maybe the pheromone is scentless to humansand hedgy was just filthy or playing possum.

The gender question was getting urgent as a hungry baby hedgehog so I googled hedgehog AND sexing which
lead me to this page (seriously)

If the hedgehog is tame and friendly, gently roll it over and look at the area closest to the tail. A female's genitals are immediately next to the anus, while the male's penis sheath, or "belly button" is farther up the tummy. The distance between the anus and belly button will be approximately 1/2 inch on a six week old male hoglet. However, this distance can increase to as much as an inch or more once it fully matures.

Ah yes, just take a look at the hedgehogs abdomen and see if it has a penis which looks like a belly button. Great. This is an animal whose survival strategy consists almost entirely of hiding its abdomen. Pick one up and it will look like a pin cushion with a belly button. Extensive effort made it clear that hedgy had a nose, 2 eyes and at least 3 legs.

Finally, as Kathy said so I can't be modest, I thought of putting hedgy on a pane of glass (Elisabetta figured out the bit about the stylish clear plastic chair).

I discover that sexing a hedgehog is very like romancing a stone. Once frightened into a ball a hedgehog must be left along for a very long time before he or she opens up.

Still Kathy, unlike her father, does not have the attention span of a drosophila and kept watch.

Thus I finally saw what may very well be the penis of a hedgehog.

There are definitely two things down there, about one inch apart. However, what if one is a tail ?

Thus for totally serious reasons closely related to parenting (mine and hedgy's) I searched the web for photographs of hedgehog penises. It is actually possible that I am the first person to do so.

And now the shocking truth. Google images failed me, or I failed google image, even though I turned off safe search (ok ok I have never turned safe search on but my 8 year old was watching over my shoulder).

hedgehog penis yielded no images of actual hedgehogs.

hedgehog belly yielded no bellies

and Erinaceus europaeus yielded 733 images which we checked without finding a useful belly shot showing the naughty bits of a hedgehog of either gender.

I am shocked, crushed and devastated that google can not help me find a photograph of a hedgehog penis. What is the world coming to ?

update: it took my little sister 5 minutes to find this site searching for "hedgehog gender identification picture" with msn search (also works with google with the list of words no quotes)

arwen has left a new comment on your post "6/12/2006 11:47:00 PM":

permettimi di dire che le immagini non sono di bassa qualità , piuttosto un tantino inquietanti e poco rispettose della privacy di questo porcospino--poveretto.
Se io fossi un porcospino (e forse un po' lo sono) non mi piacerebbe mostrare le mie nudità al web intero.
Ogni tanto mettiamoci nei panni dei porcospini, o meglio negli aculei dei porcospini poveretti, e rispettiamoli, in un mondo fatto di porco-spini che non rispettano niente.
Lo so che, comunque, le immagini sono diffuse a scopo scientifico ed è utile conoscere il loro "genere" per garantirgli il massimo benessere.
Solo che, forse, il porcospino maschio (a quanto ho capito) si sarà vergognato un pochino"..." --e mi sembra giusto fermarsi a rifletterci un attimo (in un mondo fatto di porco-spini che non conoscono il concetto di riflessione)
era un po difficile vedere la pancia di un porcospino, ma grazie a una trovata di mio padre ci siamo riucsiti (abbiamo messo il porcospino su una sedia di plastica e cosi).

This post was written by Kathy Waldmann whose web page is here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Josh Marshall writes

But in January 2005, Lewis ascended to the Chairmanship of the full Committee. And it was then that Shockey was overcome with a earning to return to public service and signed on as deputy staff director for Lewis at the Appropriations Committee.

Now, already it was known that when Shockey left Copeland Lowery he got a lump-sum payment of $600,000.

But it came out yesterday that that was just the first payment out of a total of $1.96 million

Was that a typo of the motto for our age ? I like the ring of "overcome by an earning for public service" as a poliitical epitaph.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Satanic Salutation on 6/6/6

As noted on page C1 of the WAPO (seems 666 is a slow news day)

Secret Rapture has left a new comment on your post "6/06/2006 02:44:00 PM":

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!
Read My Inaugural Address
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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Venerdi Fausto Bertinotti ne ha fatti di tutti i colori

That is "Friday Fausto Bertinotti misbehaved by waving a rainbow flag"

Fausto Bertinotti is leader of the more left wing of the two still communist parties in Italy. With their big big 0.07% margin in the popular vote, the Italian center left can not be picky when deciding who is an acceptable ally, so he is currently part of the governing majority. In a desperate effort to make him behave himself, his allies elected him president of the chamber of deputies, a very honorable and dignified position which is explicitly "istituzionale" that is non partisan. He is supposed to be fair to the opposition and to speak in defence of the perogatives of the chamber of deputies. In particular, the president of the camera is, by the original definition, the center. The original left were the French deputies in the Parliament of 1848 who chose to sit to the left of the President (this shows that French lefties are dislexic since it is obvious that the left would be left out and considered sinister while the right would be perceived to be right).

Fausto is trying to sit to his own left. To do so, he brought a rainbow flag to the festa della repubblica Friday. In Italy the rainbow flag is not a gay pride symbol, it is a pacifist symbol. In March 2003 they were all over the place vainly attempting to convince Bush Blair and Berlusconi against invading Iraq. Now there are a few faded rainbow flags left (not my fault my daughter took ours to a demonstration and forgot it there).

Bertinotti thus demonstrates that Italy too has idiots who consider it hostile to the troops to tell them to come back from hell.

However he has also demonstrated, for the nth time, his dangerous narcissism. He must protest even when he is part of the majority in parliament and that majority has declared its intention to withdraw all Italian troops from Iraq and he must he *must* be the center of controversy. His allies will have to find an even more honerable position. I hasten to add that I oppose running him up the flagpole although I admit that I am tempted by the idea.

The Italian center left needs policy not polemic, substance not symbols, reason not rage, thoughts not shouts, verity not vanity ...

Damn that guy makes me write like Warren Gamaliel Harding(search for "heroics" hah). Will I end up sounding like George W Bush if he stays in the news ? Wonder if he likes Alaskan king crab.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Online Blogintegrit at blogrolled me ! I have personally been blogintegrityrolled.

I think this happened because, when I was in high school, I wrote an essay about why Thersites was my favorite character in the Iliad.

However, they slander me claiming I am a grown up grrrr got to eat some paste to calm myself.

An you know what. Just to show how grown up I am, I am going to set up so there.
I doubt they will count me, but, if it happens, a ton is a ton.
says it will offset one ton of carbon emissions for every other blog that links to it.

Well lo and behold. Eric comments on this post

Eric has left a new comment on your post "6/01/2006 04:52:00 AM":

I do believe you have been counted! I just found your entry via Technorati and we are up to 180 tons so far.