Friday, February 29, 2008

Masterpiece Folk Art Made From Junk.

In 1950, a quiet janitor named James Hampton rented an unheated dump of a garage in Washington DC because he was "working on something" and needed a larger space than his room in a nearby boarding house.

Every night after finishing his job, the small, soft-spoken man would work in the garage for five or six hours. Hampton believed that God visited him there regularly to guide him in his project, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millenium General Assembly. Adding to the sheer wow factor of the 180 glittering object was how Hampton did it:

An ingenious selection and use of materials and an innate feeling for design characterize Hampton’s radiant work. A poor man, he applied his imagination to the transformation of discarded materials. Merchants in the used-furniture district near the garage remember that Hampton would browse, inquire about prices, and sometimes return with a child’s wagon to carry away his purchases.

All of the objects are covered with different grades of gold and aluminum foils removed from store displays, bottles, cigarette boxes, and rolls of kitchen foil. Hampton paid neighborhood indigents for the foil on their wine bottles, and he walked the streets with a croker sack in which to carry his finds. He also gathered used light bulbs, cardboard,
insulation board, construction paper, desk blotters, and sheets of transparent plastic, probably from the trash of the government buildings where he worked.

Hampton’s masterpiece is now on display in the Smithsonian:
Link - via Officially Awesome, thanks Kellie Bartlett (that was definitely, *officially* awesome!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008)

William F. Buckley died this morning.

What can I say about the man. To say he was a giant is cliche-even if it is the truth. Buckley single handily redefined what it meant to be both a Conservative and a Republican. He shaped not only the electoral politics of the right but also drove an Renaissance in American political thought. At a time when it seemed that socialism was about to overwhelm the west-it was WFB standing very much alone in its path yelling "stop!"-sometimes with more success than others.

In the coming days Buckley will no doubt receive justified praise for laying the groundwork for the likes of Goldwater, Reagan, and Bush. That however is the tip of the iceberg. Buckley shifted the cultural debate in this country. Forty years ago Democrats were demanding a guaranteed income (regardless of whether you worked or not). By the nineties we had a Democrat president seeking to end welfare. More than anyone else (even Ronald Reagan), Buckley is responsible for this change.
Sic transit gloria mundi.

Why Liberals Love McCain.

Republicans have pulled some dirty tricks before: Swift Boats, Watergate, you name it. But this time they have gone too far. In its desperate hunger for victory at any cost, the Republican Party is on the verge of choosing a presidential candidate, John McCain, who is widely regarded (everywhere except inside the Republican Party itself) as honest, courageous, likable and intelligent.

Have they no shame?

What campus rape crisis?

Believing in the campus rape epidemic, it turns out, requires ignoring women's own interpretations of their experiences.

Song Charts.

6 Restless Corpses.

Some images may be disturbing to the sensitive.

A comprehensive list of Barack Obama's accomplishments.


Mrs. Clinton's record in politics.

Hillary Clinton has been telling America that she is the most qualified candidate for president based on her 'record,' which she says includes her eight years in the White House as First Lady - or 'co-president' - and her seven years in the Senate. Here is a little reminder of what that record includes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Real McCain.

Over the course of his career, McCain has tried to do the impossible. He has challenged the winds of the money gale. He has sometimes failed and fallen short. And there have always been critics who cherry-pick his compromises, ignore his larger efforts and accuse him of being a hypocrite.

This is, of course, the gospel of the mediocre man: to ridicule somebody who tries something difficult on the grounds that the effort was not a total success. But any decent person who looks at the McCain record sees that while he has certainly faltered at times, he has also battled concentrated power more doggedly than any other legislator.

Iranian Shoppers Riot Against Modesty Police.

It happens every day on the streets of Tehran: a police squad grabbed a young woman for dressing immodestly. But this time, the young woman fought back, and a crowd defended her and attacked the police.

Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling.

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

Dog Breeders Unveil New Mastiffeagle.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Are Cubans Satisfied With their Government?

Economist/blogger Michael Stastny has recently returned from a trip to Havana, Cuba, where he was surprised by the extent of the "misery and decay" that he found (hat tip Arnold Kling). He has some interesting observations for those who still believe that Castro's Cuba is a paradise for the common people. It's worth keeping in mind, also, that Havana is likely to be far better off than the most of the rest of Cuba. Like other communist regimes, the Cuban government pours a disproportionate share of its resources and public investment into the capital and areas likely to be frequented by foreigners. Other parts of Cuba are likely to be much worse off - especially those where foreigners are not allowed to go.

Mike Huckabee on SNL

Pretty funny.

Gaza's Culture of Self-Destruction.

Palestinians in Gaza harm themselves more than they could ever hurt Israel, argues Yael Kaynan. What future is there when children are taught that there is no greater accomplishment than blowing themselves up?

Is it more eco-friendly to drive than walk?

If you walk 1.5 miles, Mr. Goodall calculates, and replace those calories by drinking about a cup of milk, the greenhouse emissions connected with that milk (like methane from the dairy farm and carbon dioxide from the delivery truck) are just about equal to the emissions from a typical car making the same trip. And if there were two of you making the trip, then the car would definitely be the more planet-friendly way to go.

Obama's negatives are nearly as high as Hillary's

Actually they're are within the margin of error.

I was kinda shocked by this given the media driven love fest for Barack.

via Instapundit.

Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age.

[R]emember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Study casts doubt on anti-depressants.

"Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients.”

If the drug companies are worried, there's always this market.

Environmentalists: don’t label them Luddites.

Using the L-word to describe today’s middle-class eco-miserabilists is an insult to the nineteenth-century radicals who fought for their rights and dignity.

J.S. Bach

When we hear “Mozart” or “Beethoven,” we think of a person behind the music. When we hear “Bach,” we think only of the music itself...the man remains a mystery.

From the article:
Bach is sometimes referred to as the father of Western music, not to suggest that there was nothing of substance before him (he didn’t spring full grown from the head of Zeus) but that the music after him has been profoundly influenced and shaped by his models. And surely the influences have been radical and vast, whether on the finale of Mozart’s “Jupiter” symphony or the Grosse Fuge of Beethoven or the organ music of Mendelssohn or the Bachianas Brasileiras of Villa Lobos or (to acknowledge the present moment) La Pasión según San Marcos of Osvaldo Golijov. Who else could be the father of Western music? Bach is in the very chemistry of Western musical blood, like red cells, white cells, and platelets in our material plasma.

But if Bach is The Father, why hasn’t he fired the popular imagination?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Project Orion.

In 1958, Project Orion was formed at General Atomics (a defense contractor), seeking to design spacecraft powered by nuclear pulses — in other words, bombs. The project designed incredibly large vessels, with theoretical sizes ranging up to 400 meters in diameter and weighing 8,000,000 tons. The ships were intended to travel to Saturn and Venus carrying large crews — but the project ended in the early 1960’s without building a full-scale vehicle.

To put that number in perspective, the current Nimitz class aircraft carriers check in at about 100,000 tons-so were talking about a spaceship that's the size of 80 of them.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Finally Get the whole "Jefferson Starship" thing.

Funny, I never really thought of Star Trek as a drug show-I guess I was wrong.

via Ace of Spades

She's done.

The irony is that the more nasty the Clintons get in their tactics, the less likely Democrats will be to embrace them. The couple is doing their best to show Democrats why "Clinton Derangement Syndrome" existed among Republicans in the 1990s. Their ugliness is now on display for all to see - and of course it took an intra-party fight for Democrats and the media to notice.

Actually, those who now feign surprise at the Clinton tactics have probably always known the depth of this couple's political ruthlessness and amorality, but failed to mention it when the Clintons were in power, lest the 'haters' on the right be shown to have valid concerns.

I think that sums it up quite nicely.

Woman wakes as doctors were about to switch off life-support.

Apparently her husband fought to keep her alive-how novel.

Barack Obama's Willie Horton.

It seems even some Democrats are becoming worried about the company Obama keeps:

Obama's Ayers and Dorhn relationship is something more than a few people have been trying to nail down for weeks. You can bet the Republicans and their 527s will do just that. I don't blame them either. This goes well beyond the Rezko connection. In the bad judgment file, any association whatsoever with a domestic terrorist who actively tried to thwart an air war during the Vietnam war, calls our Marines "terrorists," while also being unrepentant about it, shows a lack of seriousness I will never accept.

via Ace of Spades

Cuba Tees Up For Golf's Revival.

In 1962, Mr. Castro lost a round of golf to Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who had been a caddy in his Argentine hometown before he became a guerrilla icon. Mr. Castro's defeat may have had disastrous consequences for the sport. He had one Havana golf course turned into a military school, another into an art school. A journalist who wrote about the defeat of Cuba's Maximum Leader, who was a notoriously bad loser, was fired the next day.

Now, top officials on the island want to turn Mr. Castro's Communist paradise into a hotspot for this decidedly capitalist sport, to generate hard cash for its cash-strapped economy. Last year, Cuba's minister of tourism, Manuel Marrero, announced plans to build as many as 10 golf courses to lure upscale tourists.

The Election of Unintended Consequences.

The New York Times is learning about unintended consequences. Having run a shoddy piece about John McCain’s supposedly questionable judgment, the paper now finds itself having to defend its own integrity.

Bobby Kennedy and Why Obama Unnerves Me.

Two or three days before Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968- its hard to remember now - I attended a rally for RFK in East Los Angeles. The audience was almost entirely Mexican or Mexican-American - there were very few of us gringos. The crowd was wildly enthusiastic, to put it mildly. Cries of "Viva! Viva!" rang out everywhere. It felt as if I was at a rally in Central America and Kennedy was not running for President. He was running for "caudillo." I am sure if it were put to a vote of those present, they would have installed him as "maximum leader" for life in a landslide.

I was a supporter of Bobby Kennedy's in those days, but I was unnerved. And it's not just because I knew that his record was checkered, to say the least. A cult of personality was developing and I was beginning to feel nauseated by it. I am having the same feeling about Obama. Every time I hear "Si se puede!" I get queasy. I didn't when I heard it years ago at Cesar Chavez farmworker rallies, when it had a specific reference, but I do here. It's as if rhetoric has been stolen in a form - almost deliberately - devoid of content. "Yes, we can - what?" Nobody knows.

Staffing changes at Diminished Expectations

As many of you know, for time to time The Wife will contribute to this blog. Lately though she's been slacking off quite a bit and Diminished Expectations has become something of a one-man-show. She protests that she's busy cooking, cleaning, going to the doctor (it seems she has a couple of abdominal parasites-don't worry though she's expected to make a full recovery), giving the management of Diminished Expectations back rubs, "Other" marital duties, making a living...blah blah short she's not holding up her end of the bargain. I have therefore decided to take on two interns to assist me in my conquest of the Interweb.

As I have the old fogey market pretty much nailed down, I've decided to go with youth-all the better to know what these crazy kids are up to these days. Going with youth also makes it likely that they'll outlive me allowing my evil works to be carried on after my death-an important point if the villagers ever get wind of what I'm up to and come after me with torches and pitchforks.

Before you all get too excited at the prospect of being my lackey, I should tell you that I already have my servants picked out. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict they wont be able to come on board until October 1st , but after that I intend to exploit them as cheap labor for years.

For those of you who haven't figured it out yet... The Wife and I are expecting twins. For those of you who did figure it out-you win a cookie. To receive your free cookie, send $12.95 shipping an handling to:

The perils of socialized medicine.

The British National Health Service is trying to crack down on patients who want to pay out of pocket to get drugs that their doctors have recommended but that the NHS doesn't cover. But the health service is afraid to let too many people go outside the system so they punish those who do by telling them that, if they continue, they will have to pay for all their medical treatments, not just the drugs, on their own.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've been getting spammed lately...

so I've added a security feature. One of those "type the letters you see in the box" kinda things. I know it's annoying-sorry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So what would it take to alarm you?

It's hard to deliver a wake-up call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years.

Bob Geldof in Rwanda gives Bush his props.

Mr. Geldof praised Mr. Bush for his work in delivering billions to fight disease and poverty in Africa, and blasted the U.S. press for ignoring the achievement.

Mr. Bush, said Mr. Geldof, "has done more than any other president so far."

"This is the triumph of American policy really," he said.

"It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion."

"What's in it for [Mr. Bush]? Absolutely nothing," Mr. Geldof said.

Reinforcing Failure.

Apparently the Taliban missed the part where al Qaeda got run out of Iraq, by Iraqis, because of the large number of civilians killed by terrorist bombs.

Church Challenges Members: Have Sex Every Day.

YBOR CITY, Fla. -- A Florida church issued a challenge for its married members on Sunday: Have sex every day.

Church member Tim Jones and his fiancee agreed to take on the challenge, though he acknowledges it'll be a tough month.

I think I need to talk to the wife about changing denominations. If she won't go for it there's always this.

Could Ron Paul Lose His Congressional Seat?

Some may call it poetic justice, others may call it unfair, but Ron Paul is in the fight of his political life, but it’s not for the presidency. It’s to stay in Congress from his own district.

While pursuing his thus far quixotic quest for the presidency, Congressman Paul has fallen behind by over ten points in the polls (43-32) in the fight for the Republican nomination in the Texas 14th to challenger Chris Peden, according to internal polls from both campaigns, which Pajamas Media was told were quite similar.

Castro bows out.

Cubans will still experience the same amount of repression, but now with 10% less bluster.

Looks Like We Are Headed To Pennsylvania.

My best guess is that as long as Clinton wins either Ohio or Texas, her campaign will continue on to Pennsylvania no matter what. Even if Obama reaches his key number of a net gain of 61 by March 15th, it is unlikely that he will do so by a margin that Pennsylvania would be unable to reverse. As such, there is no reason for Clinton to not at least try Pennsylvania, given the long break and that the demographics there are reasonably favorable to her (very old, not very creative class, and a closed primary).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Golf Terms.

It's good to stay current on these things.

From the article:

A "James Joyce" - a putt that's an impossible read.

A "Rock Hudson" - it looked straight, but wasn't.

A "Saddam Hussein" - from one bunker into another.

Hair today...

Fans of conspiracy theories will be a little disappointed.

A team at the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics have finally confirmed that Napoleon Bonaparte was not poisoned by his captors on St. Helena where he was imprisoned after his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

A little sad really. The poisoning story was part of his mystique.

The wonders of Computer Generated Images.

Kristee Weldon over at For Serenity's Sake has an amazing video you should check out. Three guys (plus a little CGI) attempt to recreate the Allied landing at Omaha Beach-with impressive results.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Perhaps the greatest music video of all time.

Weapon Of Choice - Fatboy Slim.

The Evolution of Car Logos.

Click to enlarge.

This article should come in handy for the next time you’re stuck in traffic: have you ever wondered why the Audi in front of you has a logo of four interlocked rings? Did you know that the Cadillac emblem was inspired by a family crest of a nobleman who later turned out to be a fraud? Or that Volkswagen was Hitler’s idea?

Lunar Eclipse Wednesday.

Finally, a lunar eclipse visible from America during a convenient time! We have a total lunar eclipse this Wednesday evening (February 20th) which should turn the moon red as Earth’s shadow passes over it. Maximum eclipse will be at 10:26 PM EST and 7:26 PST. Besides North and South America, the eclipse will be visible from western Europe and western Africa.

Is Barack Obama a Borg "Manchurian Candidate?"

Fellow citizens, there is reason to believe that Barack Obama may be an instrument of a hostile foreign power. Specifically, Barack Obama could be a sleeper agent for the Borg.

Yes, you read that correctly. You probably know that during this presidential campaign, allegations have been raised — falsely —that Barack Obama is an Islamist who once attended a madrassa. Other whispers have charged — again, falsely —that Obama refuses to recite the American Pledge of Allegiance. Likewise, investigations into his youthful drug use have found little smoke and no fire. Still unanswered, however, is the question of whether Barack Obama is a puppet of the Borg, a collectivist hive of cybernetically enhanced humanoids from a distant galaxy.

The Boneyard.

The Tucson Bone Yard is officially named the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC), Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona

All of the aircraft stored there are capable of being returned to flying condition if the need ever arises.

Weekly tours of the Boneyard are still given through the Tucson Air Museum, located just south of Davis Monthan AFB.

The aircraft stored at the boneyard are so numerous that they are, in effect, the third largest Air Force in the world. It's the only component of the U.S. Air Force that actually makes a profit (from supplying spare parts).

Obama peaking too soon?

Am I the only one who has the sneaking suspicion that Barack Obama may have peaked too soon, that his cult - like so many - may drift off into obscurity... or if not obscurity a kind of tedium? Cults have a way of doing that...

Something fun for President's day.

I was able to come up 42 of the 43 (I missed the 8th President) but I had real trouble remembering 13 and 19. Give it your best shot.

Just type the last name in the box. If you type a name used by more than one President ie. Bush you get credit for both men.

Slouching to Sharia.

"One law for everybody" is the foundation of Western liberal democracy. Compromise that, and bad things will happen.

Democrats Should Read Kipling.

Orwell offers a highly qualified appreciation of the then (and still) politically incorrect Kipling. He insists that one must admit that Kipling is “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.” Still, he says, Kipling “survives while the refined people who have sniggered at him seem to wear so badly.” One reason for this is that Kipling “identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition.”

“In a gifted writer,” Orwell remarks, “this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality.” Kipling “at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like.” For, Orwell explains, “The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions.” Furthermore, “where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly.”

If I may vulgarize the implications of Orwell’s argument a bit: substitute Republicans for Kipling and Democrats for the opposition, and you have a good synopsis of the current state of American politics.

More on a Hillary Comeback

My bottom line take: The turf looks fairly favorable to Clinton, provided she wins Ohio and Texas March 4. Not favorable enough, perhaps, for her to overtake Obama in "pledged" delegates, but enough to keep the overall delegate count excruciatingly close, unless the superdelegates start cascading to Obama. (Maybe they have: Congressman John Lewis has evidently switched.) But if Clinton loses either Ohio or Texas, that's a sign that the ground thereafter will be less favorable to her. Losing Ohio would suggest she can't carry Pennsylvania or Indiana. Losing Texas suggests she can't carry Mississippi, North Carolina, West Virginia, or Kentucky. Losing either probably means the superdelegate cascade starts in torrents, and she falls well behind in total delegate count. In which case her candidacy is probably effectively over.

Are we overconsuming our way to doomsday?

World population increased from about 1.5 billion in 1900 to 6.5 billion today. Along the way, Malthusians predicted that massive famines would occur. They didn't. Food supplies increased faster than population growth and food became cheaper and more abundant. In addition, the amount of land devoted to farming barely changed. As a consequence of growing food security and the spread of improved public health and medical technologies, global human life expectancy more than doubled. Perhaps the Malthusians are at last right? There are good reasons to think not.

The Perils of Universal Jurisdiction.

First, the moral authority question. The charged Rwandans were not responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide (Hutus killing Tutsis), but for acts by Tutsi-led rebels who defeated the Hutu extremists responsible for the genocide. Certainly, these soldiers should be held responsible for violations of international criminal law in their efforts to end the overwhelming violence perpetrated in Rwanda -- but where was the Spanish army when the Hutus were slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Tutsis? Given the woeful failure of the international community to step in, it seems a bit rich to now be indicting the Tutsis who were left to their own defenses.

Image is everything.

A network of "suicide gurus" who use the internet to advise people how to kill themselves has been exposed...

One of the most notorious figures on the internet suicide scene is Nagasiva Yronwode, a self-confessed Satanist who runs a shop selling occult books and charms in the small Californian town of Forestville, north of San Francisco.

Yronwode, 46, describes himself as the "outreach director" for an extremist cult called the Church of Euthanasia, which advocates suicide as a means of saving the world from the effects of overpopulation.

North Korea Executes 22 "Drifters" Returned From South Korea

22 North Koreans who had been returned home after their boats drifted into South Korean waters were all immediately executed by North Korean authorities.One Free Korea has rare footage of one of the public executions in North Korea.

The return of seditious libel.

Britain, the country that inspired the United States with Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights and with a written constitution that John Adams called “the most stupendous invention” in human history, whose people fought for equality before the law, and for freedom of speech, may become part of a supranational state where EU police are above the law and it is explicitly forbidden to criticize the EU -

In Connolly vs. Commission (2001) the European Court of Justice unanimously asserted that the right of freedom of expression may only be exercised in a manner consistent with "the protection of the rights of others." Connolly's book had interfered with the "rights" of the European Union itself, the EU court explained, because the book "damaged the institution's image and reputation."

Hearts of Darkness.

Trendy paternalism is keeping Africa in chains.

Obama Must Denounce Che's Revolutionary Terror.

Obama Campaign Headquarters, Houston Texas.

The lionizing of Che, a sociopath who relished killing and acclaimed "the pedagogy of the firing squad," is not just "inappropriate." It is vile. No American in his right mind would be caught dead wearing a David Duke T-shirt or displaying a poster of Pol Pot. A celebrity who was spotted with a swastika-festooned cap or an actress who revealed that she had gotten a tattoo depicting Timothy McVeigh would inspire only repugnance. No presidential campaign would need more than 30 seconds to sever its ties to anyone, paid staffer or volunteer, whose office was adorned with a Ku Klux Klan banner. Yet Che's likeness, which ought to be as loathed as any of those, is instead a trendy bestseller and a cult favorite.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Voting With Their Feet.

Americans Fleeing High Taxes-

One of my favorite blogging topics is domestic interstate migration. It is a brilliant and tangible demonstration of policy outcomes. The data just fit what we who cherish free markets might expect to happen when some jurisdictions favor freedom more than others.

The general rule of thumb is that people are leaving high tax states and moving to low tax states. States with no income taxes perform better in all sorts of categories than states with high income taxes.

My Romance with a Scammer From Ghana.

You know you've always wanted to. I finally responded to one of the scammers that send you those messages about money waiting for you if you'd help.I got the typical help me letter and I responded with this:

I am interested but send me a picture of the money. I want to see it first

Ihava Grandepinga

Like my name? Ihava Grandepinga

This is the first response I received. Evidently they have no shift key in Ghana.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The press hearts Obama. But is it toxic?

[T]he press has often reveled in the absurdity it has created, portraying Obama as a kind of postmodern commentary incarnate (ceci n’est pas un homme politique): he’s post-partisan, post-racial, post-everything-that-we’d-want-to-change. He is so resonant with meaning, apparently, that he transcends meaning itself. “Rather than focusing on any specific issue or cause—other than an amorphous desire for change—the message is becoming dangerously self-referential,” Time’s Joe Klein put it last week. “The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is.”

Pleas for condemned Saudi 'witch'.

There are times when I think some of us on the right get a little carried away with ourselves in calling the Saudis medieval...then I read things like this and realize I was wrong.

Coming into Los Angeles: Arlo Guthrie

This was the song he performed at Woodstock, but it was Alice's Restaurant which gave him fame and a forty year career in music.

Do We Really Want Another Black President After The Events Of Deep Impact?

Have we learned nothing from the tragic events of 1998, when, under the watch of President Morgan Freeman, this nation was plunged into chaos, and hundreds of millions of people died at the hands of the deadly Wolf-Beiderman space rock? The mere fact that this country is even considering putting another black man, Barack Obama, in the Oval Office proves that we have not.

We can't deny the facts, people. All we will get by electing an African-American is Texas-size space particles crashing into the Earth's surface, mega-tsunamis that barrel into the Appalachian Mountains, and 6.6 billion dead people.

Something to think about.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Is Obama's Iraq record really a fairy tale?

The press's failure to closely examine Obama's Iraq record is a source of perpetual frustration for the Clinton camp--and a fair gripe. It has allowed Obama's supporters to mythologize him as a fearless crusader. At the same time, it has enabled the Clintons to mount overzealous attacks on his record.

Sun Stays Sluggish as Weathermen Fight for Anti-Ice Age Funding.

Every day, scientists hoping to see an increase in solar activity train their instruments at the sun as it crosses the sky. This is no idle academic pursuit: A lull in solar action could potentially drive the planet’s temperature down, or even prompt a mini Ice Age.

For millennia, thermonuclear forces inside the star have followed a regular rhythm, causing its magnetic field to peak and ebb, on average, every 11 years. Space weathermen are watching for telltale increases in sunspots, which would signal the start of a new cycle, predicted to have started last March and expected to peak in 2012. “When the sun’s active, it’s a little bit brighter,” explains Ken Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada’s National Research Council.

The Inkjet Refill Racket.

Let me state that I once was unabashedly passionate about my now aged Canon i70 photo printer. It is compact (in fact portable if you buy a battery for it), fast, prints remarkably great images up to 8 x 10, and does documents too at a respectably brisk clip. When digital cameras first appeared, I’d spend weekends cooped up with my photo-spewing friend, printing out scores of crisp, colorful masterpieces to shove in the face of anyone who would look. “Isn’t it amazing! I printed it myself!” I would crow, impressed not only with my handiwork, but more with how I stuck it to the man by not paying for pricey store-made prints. Then I’d run to Staples to load up yet again on $40 worth of ink cartridges.

And there’s the rub. Printers are sold using the razor blade business model—the printers are dirt cheap, but you have to keep buying ink for eternity. And wouldn’t you know, it turns out that printer ink, especially for photos, is probably the most expensive substance per volume you’ll ever buy—more expensive than gold, oil, perfume, even blood in most cases. If you’re buying name-brand ink cartridges, which typically hold a few milliliters of ink, you’re shelling out the equivalent of between $3,000 and $5,000 per gallon. (Suddenly, spending $45 to fill your car’s gas tank doesn’t seem so extravagant, eh?).

Conventional Wisdom Wrong Again... and Again and Again.

If the 2008 primary season has taught us anything, it's that the conventional wisdom is not to be trusted.

Frozen in time.

Improv Everywhere’s latest stunt involved 207 agents all freezing in place at the exact same moment inside Grand Central Station for a whole 5 minutes. At precisely 2:30PM, the agents involved froze in the exact positions they were in and remained that way until 2:35PM.

American Gladiator rejects.

The sad part is I couldn't even get a try-out.

A visit to the dentist

Tim Conway and Harvey Korman from The Carol Burnett Show.

I always felt that the funniest thing on that show was watching Harvey Korman trying desperately not to laugh.

Rubik’s Cubes for The Rest of Us.

About time if you ask me.

How to sleep at work.


The Best Sandwiches in America.

Esquire weighs in.

I suppose I can think of this as my "Bucket List".

Saturn's moon awash with oil.

Saturn's moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, scientists report.

Take that OPEC. There is of course some bad news:

But this massive reserve is at least 1.2 billion kilometres away from us, on a tiny inhospitable world where on a warm day it's minus 179°C.

I know what you're thinking: "Isn't oil made from old dinosaurs and rotted plants?-Does that mean that there is/was life on Titan"?

In a word: no.

Oil on EARTH is partly organic, partly inorganic. Scientists have been arguing for fifty years or more about what and how much of it goes into making oil. The Russians have pretty much bought into the idea that oil is overwhelmingly inorganic and believe that if you dig deep enough you'll find enough of the stuff to basically last forever. Needless to say, most western scientists find this view hilarious and assume that oil is (mostly) organic and therefore finite and someday we'll run out.

I've never heard it suggested before that there was oil on other planets. If this pans out it may be that the Russians were right all along.

The Turn of the Screw.

Senator Obama, the uniter not the divider, continues on his quest for the MoveOn vote. This says a bit about what his foreign policy might be, should he be elected President. All we have heard from him, spoken above all the swooning at his pretty speeches, is that it is Bush and Cheney's war and he was against it in the first place and he calls for an immediate end to the war. OK. So, he goes into defeatist mode by labeling the war as such. He had no vote on the war, in the first place, as he wasn't in the Senate but still in Illinois at the time, and he admits in some interviews that immediate withdrawal is impossible in Iraq. And, now he is saying that he would hold private Americans and their companies liable if they cooperate with the American government's wiretap surveillance.

The bill goes back to the House for a vote now. Speaker Pelosi will be all for the defeat of it, as she is with our defeat in Iraq, but she will have 21 'Blue Dog Democrats' to contend with on the vote. They have written a letter to her voicing support for the Senate bill. Sunday, Pelosi told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the war in Iraq has been a failure, and the surge has been a failure. Not once, but twice she repeated that the surge has "not produced the desired effect." That from The Politico. And, we remember that Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the Senate, said the war is lost last April. But, they support the troops.

The screw turned, though. The surge is quite successful, thank you.

100 Year-old Tortoise acts as Mom to Baby Hippo

A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa , officials said The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park , told AFP.

Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse Blamed On More Than Climate Change.

When the Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica collapsed in 2002, the event appeared to be a sudden response to climate change, and this long, fringing ice shelf in the north west part of the Weddell Sea was assumed to be the latest in a long line of victims of Antarctic summer heat waves linked to Global Warming.

Apparently the real story is a bit more complex-an inconvenient truth indeed!

Tom Lantos has died.

WASHINGTON — Representative Tom Lantos of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress, died on Monday. He was 80.

Fake "Enhancement" Pills? Turns Out, They Were Fake!

If you’re any sort of media consumer, you’ll have had a hard time missing the recent barrage of comical 1950s-style advertising for a product called “Enzyte”, which was supposed to offer “Natural Male Enhancement”. The ads were obviously for yet another worthless scam product, which you could tell by the fact that they never even claimed to have an active ingredient or mechanism of action, just like the worst half of the ever-changing array of “as seen on TV” diet pills. Anybody with a brain understood that you’d get a worthless sugar pill if you were dumb enough to place an order from these charlatans, it was inherent in their limited advertising claims.
Now, it turns out, the company and its senior management are facing federal fraud charges, and the first worm to turn is testifying, not only about the completely bogus nature of the product, but about the credit card shenanigans that turned this particular scam into a major money spinner:

James Teegarden Jr., the former vice president of operations at Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, explained Tuesday in U.S. District Court how he and others at the company made up much of the content that appeared in Enzyte ads.
He said employees of the Forest Park company created fictitious doctors to endorse the pills, fabricated a customer satisfaction survey and made up numbers to back up claims about Enzyte’s effectiveness.
“So all this is a fiction?” Judge S. Arthur Spiegel asked about some of the claims.“That’s correct, your honor,” Teegarden said.

One spreadsheet purportedly showed how the pills increased penis size by an average of 24 percent, when in fact no customers had reported such results. Instead, Teegarden said, he made up the numbers.
Another report he created showed customer satisfaction ratings of 96 percent for Enzyte customers. But prosecutors showed jurors an e-mail from Warshak that they said asked Teegarden to fix the numbers.
“Here’s the spreadsheet you wanted,” Teegarden responded via e-mail. “Let me know if you want me to doctor it up some more.”

When customers ordered a product, the company’s goal was to keep charging their credit cards for as long as possible, Teegarden said.
He said first-time customers were automatically enrolled in a “continuity program” that sent Enzyte to their homes every month and charged their credit cards without authorization.
“Without continuity, the company wouldn’t exist,” Teegarden said. “It was the sole profit of the business.”
If customers complained, he said, employees were instructed to “make it as difficult as possible” for them to get their money back. In some cases, Teegarden said, Warshak required customers to produce a notarized statement from a doctor certifying Enzyte did not work.
“He said it was extremely unlikely someone would get anything notarized saying they had a small penis,” Teegarden said.

I’ve always assumed that the people who fall for these scams aren’t really as dumb as you would think they need to be; rather, I figure they’re thinking “it’s probably a scam, but what the hey, it only costs me forty bucks to find out!” The crucial mistake in that “reasoning” lies in forgetting that someone who will lie to you will also quite cheerfully steal from you, which they will find quite simple to do, once they have your credit card information.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spongebob voice actors overdub Classic movies

This is just about the greatest thing I've seen this year. Perfectly matched, true-to-script overdubs of classic movies by Spongebob's voice actors.

Why Don’t Jews Like the Christians Who Like Them?

Most Jews are political liberals, devoted to the Democratic Party and liberal causes generally. As Milton Himmelfarb once put it, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Such voting habits are not hard to explain in a population that historically includes victims of discrimination, oppression, and mass murder. By contrast, evangelicals tend to be conservatives to whom politics seems less important than their dispensationalist beliefs.

Vigilance is the key...

A “heads up” for those men who may be regular Home Depot customers. Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends.

I fear this might happen to me any day now.

Whose Side Are They On?

American Thinker reviews the recent (non)coverage of the Iraq war and other military matters.

Criminalizing Capitalism.

The perils of Sarbanes-Oxley.

via Maggies Farm.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Can John McCain win in November?

Actually, my view is that if he can make peace with the base (and that's a big if) he should win handily.

Obama Takes Delegate Lead With Wins In 4 States.

Stick a fork in her, she's done.

For more than two years, the principal argument for voting for Hillary was that she was the inevitable nominee. With Clinton now trailing Obama in delegates that's pretty much out the window. Now her best hope is to convince people that she's crooked enough to steal the nomination by gaming the rules and getting delegates seated from Florida and Michigan (despite DNC sanctions for moving up their primaries). Knowing the Clinton's, this is a creditable threat but it'll destroy the party. For those who think this is crazy talk, check out this article.

As the old saying goes, "the only thing that can save the Republicans is the the Democrats".

Britain forces her athletes to avoid criticism of China

Britain needs a First Amendment if it wants to continue to be a free country.

Thieves steal art worth 160 million

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) - Armed robbers stole paintings by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet worth $163.2 million from a Zurich museum, police said Monday, calling it a "spectacular art robbery."

Police in the Swiss financial center said the robbery of the four paintings from the E.G. Buehrle Collection, one of Europe's finest private museums for Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, occurred Sunday. Three
masked men who entered the building with pistols are still at large.

Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat.

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.

Where did Hillary Clinton get the money for her $5 million loan to her campaign?

I was wondering about this myself.

Hillary Clinton's advisers 'in a state of panic'.

The Clinton camp is braced for Mr Obama to win a series of primary elections over the next three weeks, which they fear could hand the Illinois senator unstoppable momentum in the race for the White House.

Putin threatens an arms race.

Vladimir Putin has announced that if NATO does not act in a manner more to his taste in future negotiations, he will take action to let them know he is not to be trifled with by unleashing an arms race.

So Russia (GDP $2.08 trillion) is threatening the EU (GDP $14.44 trillion) and USA (GDP $13.86 trillion) with an arms race?

Who says Russians do not have a great sense of humour? They are famous for it, in fact and this is a case in point. In effect Vladimir Putin is saying "if you do not start respecting me, I will bankrupt my country by producing large quantities of the same weapons that the Israelis consistently turn into confetti using western military technology." Oh saints preserve us!

McCain Makes a Promise About Judges

At CPAC, Senator John McCain promised:

I intend to nominate judges who have proven themselves worthy of our trust that they take as their sole responsibility the enforcement of laws made by the people’s elected representatives, judges of the character and quality of Justices Roberts and Alito, judges who can be relied upon to respect the values of the people whose rights, laws and property they are sworn to defend.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Death of Main Street

Are big chains to blame, or is excessive regulation?

Middle-school Meth

Question: does anti-drug education work?

It’s not as if schools are attempting to counteract all the attractive ads from Mexican Amphetamine Promotion League (“It’s Basement Fresh!”) with their cool Joe Meth character.

Repressed Memory: A Cultural Symptom?

In a recent study, professor of psychiatry Harrison Pope, co-director of the Biological Psychiatry Lab at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, put “repressed memory” to the test of time: he set out to find the earliest recorded example of a “repressed memory.”

The survey yielded various nineteenth-century instances: best known were A Tale of Two Cities (1859), by Charles Dickens, in which Dr. Manette forgets that he is a physician after his incarceration in the Bastille, and Captains Courageous (1896), by Rudyard Kipling, in which “Penn,” a former minister, loses his memory after his family perishes in a flood and recalls that trauma only after being involved in a collision at sea. But the survey turned up no examples from pre-modern sources.

Who will rid us of this troublesome priest?

Where is Santayana when you need him? What, I wonder, would he have had to say about Archbishop Williams’s declaration earlier today that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is “unavoidable.” In a widely reported lecture on BBC radio 4 the Archbishop called for a “constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law” and said that Britons must “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not “relate” to the British legal system. “Constructive accommodation”: let’s see, I guess that is British English for “spineless capitulation”?

And what is all this about Muslim Brits not “relating” to the law? The rule of law is is not a lifestyle choice: it is not something you can opt out of if you happen to have alternative inclinations. “Gee, in my religion, we stone adulteresses to death, so would you mind stepping aside and handing me that pile of rocks?”

The proper answer to such gambits was formulated in the 19th century by General Charles Napier when dealing with sutte, the Indian custom of burning a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney Suspends Presidential Campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) - Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign on Thursday, effectively sealing the Republican presidential nomination for John McCain. "I must now stand aside, for our party and our country," Romney told conservatives.

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

World's Most Dangerous Airports

I think this speaks for itself.

Middle Class Dreams, Arab World Failure

As images of Gaza Palestinians crossing border with Egypt are broadcast around the world, it hard to distinguish them from the images of Gazans ‘celebrating’ by going on an orgy of destruction after the Israelis left in 2005. Fires, violence and mayhem were the order of the day then as they are now. The Egyptian police are having a hard time maintaining order and resealing the border.

Why are Gazans reacting and behaving this way? Simply put, it is because Gazans (and the Arab world who lives vicariously through them, seeing themselves as ‘martyrs’ and as heroic figures) understand self expression through destruction. That should be no surprise- for centuries, the Arab world has been devoid of any kind of meaningful creation, endeavor or enterprise.

A ghost town buried in the sand

Kolmanskop is a ghost town in southern Namibia.It became popular in 1908, when people rushed into the desert hoping to make money out of the diamond fever. At the time the diamonds were very easy to find, they would lay fully exposed on top of the sand. This caused a diamond rush from all over the world and the once desolated desert was full of fortune seekers.Within two years a town was established in the desert with some 700 families living in it.But after the drop in diamond sales, everyone left and the place became deserted again. The dunes began to reclaim what was always theirs.A couple of old buildings are still standing, but the rest are just crumbling ruins.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Dubner and Levitt have an article in the NYTimes with three examples of the law of unintended consequences, the Americans with Disabilities Act made it more costly to hire people with disabilities and reduced their employment, ancient Jewish sabbatical law intended to help the poor has made them worse off, and the endangered species act has resulted in habitat destruction.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

History's Greatest Gadgets

It's not all about circuits, silicon and stock options: mankind's been making technology since the dawn of time. Here's ten of the most wonderful gadgets from centuries—and millenia—past.

Super Delegates to Determine Democratic Nominee?

My instincts tell me this is a complete disaster, since it will shine light on complicated bylaws and the questionable democratic nature of the delegate selection process instead of on voters. As fascinating as it might be for political junkies, it is not the kind of image Democrats need. We need to figure a way out of this situation in a hurry.

via instapundit.

Diminished Expectations endorsements,

Romney for President.

For what it's worth (though the wife is for McCain).

Prop 91 Prohibits motor vehicle fuel taxes from being retained in General Fund-YES

Prop 92 Establishes independent community college districts-Yes

Prop 93 Change in term limits law-NO

Prop 94-Prop 97 Indian gaming agreement-NO

Prop S Reduction of city tax on communications-Yes

Last of the Iwo Jima flag raisers dies.


Euler Diagram of the British Isles

An elegant explanation of a set of relationships that is frequently difficult for Americans to grasp.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Twilight of the Nation-State?

The European Union’s grand project rests on the belief that nationalism is passé, indeed pernicious. Fascism’s mystic nationalism proved, on this view, that the nation-state impedes the spread of human rights, tolerance, and the rational adjudication of disputes — all essential to global peace. The nation-state should therefore give way to organizations like the E.U.: a transnational, secular institution that can bring about peace and prosperity by practicing what French intellectual Chantal Delsol calls “techno-politics” — a rational approach superior to the atavistic passions and superstitions that fired nationalism. But as the political philosopher Pierre Manent argues in a provocative new book, the European project, at least in its current form, represents a serious threat to democratic freedom. “If our nation suddenly disappeared and its bonds were dispersed,” Manent observes, “each of us immediately would become a stranger, a monster, to himself.”

CIA On Torture Memo: 'We Need To Stop Writing This Stuff Down'

WASHINGTON—During a press conference Tuesday, CIA chief Michael Hayden expressed regret over the organization's inhumane interrogation tactics of simulating drowning, removing fingernails with pliers, and lacerating genitals, when he told reporters the practices should never have been committed to paper. "Geez, what the heck were we thinking?" Hayden said. "Our job is to protect the American people from this kind of disturbing stuff, and I don't know why we even jotted it down in the first place. Next time we'll just keep it to ourselves." Hayden also said the agency planned to remove the locations and mailing addresses of secret detention facilities from its official website.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Letter to Our European Friends: Everything you need to know about our presidential campaign.

There are two factors in American politics that may seem strange to Europeans, race and religion. You, of course, don't have any religion. Except every now and then someone
who came to Europe lately and is a Muslim blows himself to bits. But I understand that you have EU funding to address these social problems and help Muslims build bombs that release fewer pollutants and less carbon dioxide, reducing the threat of global warming.


Mitt Romney is supposed to be my own type of candidate, a true conservative. But Mitt was governor of Massachusetts. This is like applying to be pope and listing your prior job experience as "Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem."

Via Theo.

Top scientist scorns 'tastier' organic foods.

A leading scientist has described claims that organic foods are more nutritious and taste better as "fiction".

And any aims to turn Ireland into an 'organic island' were also scorned yesterday by Dr Con O'Rourke, who said this would mean there could be no exports and there would need to be massive recycling.

Dr O'Rourke, a former senior member of agricultural body Teagasc and scientific journal editor, said substantial research had not shown any differences between organic and standard foods.

via Maggie's Farm.

Al Qadia tricked two retarded women into being sucide bombers.

Nice bunch of guys. A real class act.

More here.

As Glenn Reynolds says: Good suicide-bombers are hard to find, and retention is even tougher.

Snipes Acquitted of Tax Fraud.

OCALA, Fla. (AP) -- Action star Wesley Snipes was found not guilty of federal tax-fraud and conspiracy charges Friday, but was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return.

Snipes and two co-defendants, a delicensed accountant and a tax protest leader, were indicted in 2006. Snipes faced six additional counts of willful failure to file a tax return from 1999-2004, a period in which he signed two contracts for more than $10 million on sequels in the "Blade" trilogy. He was acquitted on three of those and convicted on the others. He could be sentenced to three years in prison after originally facing a possible 16 years.