Roberts’ Confirmation

Posted by: on Sep 20, 2005 | No Comments

In case you missed last week’s CSPAN-3 coverage of Judge Roberts’ nomination hearings, let me recount them for you here:

> Sen Specter (R-PA, Chairman): I’m a moderate Republican, and am slowly being edged out of my party. Will you respect the constitution right to privacy that underlies the Roe vs. Wade decision?

> Judge Roberts: I’m cold, logical and calculating. A legal machine, devoid of any feeling, despite my all-American looks and picturesque family. If the words “right to privacy” aren’t in the Constitution, they’re dead to me.

> Sen Durbin (D-IL): I’m running for President, and have a big neck.
> Judge Roberts: As that question regards issues that may come before the court, I don’t believe it would be proper for me to answer.

> Sen Kennedy (D-MA): I’m an elder statesman, and still haunted by the ghost of Chappaquiddick. Will you defend the civil rights I fought for half a century ago?

> Judge Roberts: I have no respect for the march of time, and the progress of human values. If slavery were still legal, that would be the precedent I would uphold.

> Sen Feinstein (D-CA): As the only woman on this panel of old white windbags, will you answer my questions?

> Judge Roberts: Not a chance.

> Sen Brownback (R-KS): I’m also running for President. May I kiss you?

> Judge Roberts: On the cheek only; the mouth would cross the line between adoration and Satanism.

> Sen Hatch (R-UT): Will you answer my sycophantic questions?

> Judge Roberts: With pleasure.

> Sen Biden (D-DE): I’m also running for President, I also co-authored the Violence Against
Women Act, which is unconstitutional. Do you feel that men and women deserve equal protection under the law?

> Judge Roberts: I think women should be barefoot and pregnant, just as God intended.

> Sen Graham (R-SC): I think we can all agree to that.

> All, sans Feinstein: (laughter)

Now that the panel has adjourned, Roberts has returned to his squirming children and doting wife, Bush has returned to ignoring the plight of the poor, Congress can get back to their tense partisan standoff, and the nation can return its attention to things that really matter, like football, Renee Zellweger’s divorice, and missing blonde teenagers.

As a card-carrying pinko-Commie-Liberal, I’m supposed to hate Roberts. But try as I might, no matter how many hours of hearings I forced myself to sit through, I couldn’t. He’s got a calm, strong persona, without the craziness or malice of Bork. Although he is a Harvard grad, he is clearly an intellectual of the highest level. Anyone who puts their faith in two hundred year old words instead of human experience deserves the respect of this school.

In all seriousness, it looks like Roberts will be easily confirmed, and it was wise that the Democrats didn’t put up too strong of a fight. Enough resistance to show that they have a spine, but not enough to actually make a difference. They saved their right to filibuster for a truly divisive candidate, like the one that Bush will most likely nominate for the position vacated by O’Connor. To keep the gender ratio at a sensible 2/9, he will likely put forward a woman with real conservative credentials like Priscilla Owen, the Wicked Witch of Texas. Will the circle be unbroken Lord, by and by?

Published in the September 20th Tech. The following letter, and my response ran in the next issue.

Instead of starting off with “In case you missed last week’s C-SPAN3 coverage…”, Josh Levinger might have said “In case you missed last week’s David Brooks Op-Ed in The New York Times.” [“Card-Carrying, Pinko-Commie-Liberal Can’t Force Self to Hate John Roberts,” The Tech, Tuesday, Sept. 20.] It seems that Brooks had the exact same idea as Levinger, namely to provide a bitingly satirical “transcript” of the Roberts confirmation hearings. Not only did the Brooks piece outshine Levinger’s stylistically, it was published on Sept. 15, three days before the submission deadline on the September 20 Tech.
*Ian Z. Jacobi ’06*

Author’s Response: While I acknowledge the similarity between David Brooks’ column and my own, the truth is that I had not read his before I submitted my own. I assure the readers that I was unaware of either the topic or the text of Brooks’ column. *Josh Levinger*

Ballistic Missile Simulation

Posted by: on Sep 1, 2005 | One Comment

I worked at GlobalSecurity.org as an intern this summer, and in addition to website maintenance and research, wrote a program to estimate the trajectories of ICBMs. It’s possible use is quite limited, because it assumes a knowledge of the technical details of the missile (booster and reentry vehicle characteristics, as well as fuel masses and specific impulse), however it includes estimates for this data by Charles Vick for the main Iranian, Pakistani and North Korean missiles. Interestingly, these missiles are all closely related, as a formal paper I edited indicates.

The program was written in Python, and requires wxPython for windowing and Numpy for plotting. I have compiled all these dependencies together for binaries for Windows and Mac OS X 10.4. The source is also available, and will be of interest to the discerning user. The Read Me has more information on the specifics of the simulation, and is required reading if you’re going to do anything serious with this data.

Disclaimer: I wrote this software as a sophomore engineering student, and I make no guarantee as to the accuracy of the output. It gives me correct values for my test cases, but don’t make policy (or go to war), on my say so.


Update, October 29, 2013:

This code is now on GitHub, with a few gui and packaging changes from Karsten Wolf. github.com/jlev/ballistic-missile-range

The compiled binaries are quite old, and may not work well on more recent operating systems.