Thursday, July 31, 2008

Canada bus passenger beheads seat mate.

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Manitoba - Passengers aboard a Canadian bus fled in horror as a fellow traveler viciously attacked his seat mate, repeatedly stabbing him and then severing his head, witnesses said Thursday.

I gotta say, this does undermine the glamour and mystique of long distance bus travel.

h/t The Wife

Water Discovered on Mars.

The actual sciencey story here.

Golden Retriever Adopts Tiger Cubs at Kansas Zoo.

CANEY, Kan. - A dog at a southeast Kansas zoo has adopted three tiger cubs abandoned by their mother. Safari Zoological Park owner Tom Harvey said the tiger cubs were born Sunday, but the mother had problems with them.

A day later, the mother stopped caring for them. Harvey said the cubs were wandering around, trying to find their birth mother, who wouldn't pay attention to them. That's when the cubs were put in the care of a golden retriever, Harvey said.

Harvey said it's unusual for dogs to care for tiger cubs, but it does happen. He said he has seen reports of pigs nursing cubs in China, and he actually got the golden retriever after his wife saw television accounts of dogs caring for tiger cubs.

Puppies take about the same amount of time as tiger cubs to develop, and Harvey said the adoptive mother just recently weaned her own puppies.

Anybody notice how the liberal media shifts the attention away from the no-good tiger mother? I think it's pretty safe to assume that she's unemployed and relies on hand outs. Probably lives in government subsidized housing too.

h/t The Wife.

German Court Overturns Smoking Ban.

I'm not much of a smoker. I enjoy the occasional cigar and I used to smoke a pipe once in a while until my dog discovered how fun it was to chew on. Mostly though, I'd call myself a non-smoker (though I'm sure my insurance company would disagree) and in most social settings I'd prefer things to be totally smoke free. Like a lot of folks I'd rather enjoy a meal without the guy one table over blowing smoke in my face. Having said that though, I absolutely hate anti-smoking regulations.

Let's not mince words: anti-smoking laws are an attack on freedom, not just of smokers but of everyone. The idea that the government can tell you where you can and can't use legal products ought to concern everybody.

The case for the regulation is essentially that your life is not your own, but rather as a servant of the state you have an affirmative obligation to maintain yourself in as healthy a manner as possible at all times thus reducing the burden you cause to society. Lots of nasty things flow naturally out of this line of thought, ranging from banning trans-fats to euthanizing the aged and the infirm. I find all of it appalling. The right of people being free to choose their own destiny is vital not only to the cause of liberty but also simple happiness.

What's even more shameful is that, if left to it's own devices, the marketplace will resolve most of these problems without resort to the heavy hand of the state. If smoking in restaurants or bars is truly as unpopular as anti-smoking activists claim, business owners will ban it themselves out of economic self interest. I'm old enough to remember ash trays on the tables at McDonald's, but they quickly disappeared when articles about the effects of second hand smoke appeared. No government action required. What seems to really upset anti-smoking activists is that having heard all the augments, some people persist in making life choices of which they don't approve. To that I have to say "well, tough...frankly it's none of your business".

One of the odd paradoxes of our age is that someone can declare their support for gay marriage on the grounds that adults ought to be free to do what they like, without interference from the government and then turn around and insist the patrons of Al's Bar lack the capacity to calculate the hazards of unfiltered Camels. You might insist that these are apples and oranges. In a sense they are. The argument against the public smoking is at least in part based upon the damage it may cause others-most often the the employees who for some reason in these scenarios are assumed to be indentured servants who cannot seek employment elsewhere. But it is worth remembering that many anti-gay marriage folks assert that they are harmed too. I don't know if that's true in any objective sense but surely their existential angst is no less real than an anti-smoker who never goes into a bar but is deeply troubled that it allows smoking.

In a free society people need to be able to make choices...even ones you disagree with. That's what freedom is. Is smoking bad for you? Of course, so are cheeseburgers, scotch and unprotected sex. They are also some of the great pleasures of life. I fear that in the name of the greater good we all too often loose sight of something as ephemeral as human happiness...and that is a tragedy.

The painful truth is that no matter how we live our lives, we are all going to die. Contrary to what the anti-smoking activists claim, there is no such thing as a "preventable death". Sooner or later the reaper comes for us all. Should we try to live safer, healthier lives? Of course, and many things may extend and improve the quality of life. But which of those measures we might or might not take ought to be a personal decision. In the end it's how we live our lives that matters.

Is the War Over?

Independent reporter Michael Yon has spent more time in Iraq embedded with combat soldiers than any other journalist in the world, and a few days ago he boldly declared the war over:

"Barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won."

I’m reluctant to say “the war has ended,” as he did, but everything else he wrote is undoubtedly true. The war in Iraq is all but over right now, and it will be officially over if the current trends in violence continue their downward slide. That is a mathematical fact.

If you doubt it, look at the data.

Security incidents, or attacks, are at their lowest level in four years. Civilian deaths are down by almost 90 percent since General Petraeus’ counterinsurgency “surge” strategy went into effect. High profile attacks, or explosions, are down by 80 percent in the same time period. American and Iraqi soldiers suffer far fewer casualties than they have for years.

9 Reasons Not to Date a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

As if being extinct wasn't enough. I mean really, he'll never call you the "morning after".

More here.

Media Misses Big Story of Obama Trip.

The elite liberal pundits and reporters are, after all, exceedingly poor gauges of public opinion on everything from the appeal of Ronald Reagan to abortion politics. So it would not be unusual to find that they missed the real story (or chose to shield their eyes from it). The desperation to help elect their chosen son has blinded them to the implications of his and their own behavior. And the beneficiary of that is John McCain.

'Extreme Makeover' house faces foreclosure.

Some of the volunteers who helped build the home were less than thrilled about the family's financial decisions.

"It's aggravating. It just makes you mad. You do that much work, and they just squander it," Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, who helped vault a massive beam into place in the Harper's living room, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Too Funny.

Click to enlarge.

Cancun, Oahu, Same Difference.

Cashier: “Aloha, how are you today?”

Tourist: “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish. Could you talk in English please?”

Cashier: “Hello, how are you today?”

Tourist: “Fine, we just flew here from America today.”

(The cashier rings up the tourist’s few items.)

Cashier: “That will be twenty five dollars and eighty five cents.”

Tourist: “Do you take American money here? I only have American money. I have not been able to get to the currency exchange yet.”

Cashier: “Ma’am, we are in the United States. We take dollars here.”

Tourist: “Oh really? You take this money?” *holds up her $20 bill*

Cashier: “Yes, ma’am, those are dollars, and being a US state we do accept those.”

Tourist: “Well that’s very nice of you to accept foreign money.”

Cashier: *puzzled* “Mahalo, have a great day!”

Tourist: *under her breath* “I told her I didn’t speak Spanish!”

Killings turn focus on San Francisco sanctuary law.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The scene repeats itself daily on city streets: a driver gets stuck bumper to bumper, blocking an intersection and preventing another car from turning left.
But authorities say that was enough to cause Edwin Ramos to unload an AK-47 assault weapon on a man and his two sons, killing them.

The deaths immediately drew public outrage, which intensified when authorities revealed that Ramos, 21, is an illegal immigrant who managed to avoid deportation despite previous brushes with the law.

The case has put San Francisco's liberal politics to the test, setting off a debate over its sanctuary law that shields undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Postcard from Zinnlandia.

We are leaving Zinnlandia, after all – that great land of the Pacific Northwest, rich in good wine, including zinfandel, and other bounties of nature. Howard Zinn and his doppelgänger, Noam Chomsky, are to the coastal zones of this blessed land what St. Patrick is to the Emerald Isle. And, like Finlandia, Jutlandia and Hollandia, Zinnlandia too has much Northern European DNA.

Zinnlandia is in Amerikka – that racist, capitalist land of injustice, sexism, specieism, lookism, theism, militarism and homophobia. As a material and cultural Marxist, and skillful propagandist, Zinn – a master of sieving American history for its worst nuggets – is the perfect avatar for the self-flagellating white inhabitant of this land.

A Zinnlandian I met on this trip, a WASP physician endowed with the best education much money can buy, told me that he does not celebrate July 4th because the Declaration of Independence had been written by a slave owner and signed by other slave owners. He was just as hotly critical of the “racism” of Americans in dealing with the growing Muslim immigrant minority. The conversation unfolded over a bottle of Oregon Vino Pinko, with the likeness of a notorious Cuban mass murderer on the label.

Besides the pervasive lefty obtuseness as to the true nature of Che Guevara, there is one central paradox in this Zinnlandian, as there is in all of them. In the case of the good doctor, he donates his time and money to schools and clinics in Tanzania, where he has visited several times. And Tanzania, particularly Zanzibar, is a living memorial to the horrors of slave trafficking by Moslem Arabs and black Africans -- far larger and crueler than the slave trade that soiled the New World, preceding it by a thousand years, evident still in the 1960s, and ended only due to Western insistence.

A Depression? Hardly.

The specter of depression stalks America. You hear the word repeatedly. Are we in a depression? If not, are we headed for one? The answer to the first question is no; the answer to the second is "almost certainly not." The use of "depression" to describe the economy is a case of rhetorical overkill that speaks volumes about today's widespread pessimism and anxiety. A short history lesson shows why.

Read the whole thing.

Five Favorite Fictional Foods.

I can't believe KrustyBurgers didn't make the list. Not to mention Pan-galactic Gargle Blasters, Soylent Green and Scooby Snacks. Then there's Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls. Come to think of it...this is a pretty crappy list.

Karaoke for the Deaf.

As the kids say on the interweb....LOL.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Mold Rush.

Fascinating, isn’t it? We coexist with mold for thousands of years. My friend, Walter Olson of the Manhattan Institute has said sarcastically “How unfortunate must we be to live in the twenty-first century, when plaintiffs’ lawyers have discovered the terrible health effects!”

Economic incentives have a lot to do with it: trial lawyers have an economic incentive to describe something relatively innocuous–vaccines, mold, powerlines, silicone breast implants, Bendectin–as something deadly and fit it into the fictional Erin Brockovich paradigm, which appeals to jurors’ preconceived notions. (Erin Brockovich herself has brought a number of bogus lawsuits trying to invoke this paradigm–including over mold.) Low-quality scientists of a variety of levels of sincerity are given the economic incentive to take the same position. Journalists have the economic incentive to tell a story that fits the paradigm whether or not it’s true, because the victims-and-villains storyline that could affect the viewer attracts eyeballs. The three work together symbiotically: the expert witness feeds stories to the lawyer and vice versa; the lawyer feeds stories to the journalist with the expert; the journalist creates publicity that generates business for the lawyer and the expert witness, which in turn creates more stories for the journalist.

The culture of fear is a lot larger than that (others take advantage of it), but I think the reason it is so much larger in America is because only here do we make people millionaires for inventing new things to be afraid of.

Confessions of an anti-Iraq War Democrat.

I had been strongly opposed to the U.S. intervention from the start. I felt this way even though I believed (as did most everyone, including the intelligence community) that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and even though I thought that he was a murderous, genocidal thug and the world would be better off - and the U.S. safer - with him dead.

However, I reasoned, the WMD inspectors were back in, and we had Saddam surrounded - thanks to George Bush, by the way, for which we Democrats did not give him sufficient credit at the time.

So why risk the uncertainties of a pre-emptive invasion, loss of life and treasure, and diverting our attention from 9/11 and the war against terrorism, which most U.S. intelligence indicated had nothing to do with Saddam?

Of course, all these remain good reasons for opposing starting the war, even as I look back now.

But ... then came my first moment of doubt.

I saw on TV in early 2005, in their first preliminary democratic elections, long lines of Iraqis waiting to vote under the hot desert sun with bombs and shrapnel exploding around them. Waiting to vote!

And then there was that indelible image - an older woman shrouded in a carpetlike cape, smiling gleefully and holding her purple finger in the air for the TV cameras, purple with ink showing that she had voted.

Why are Public Schools so Bad at Hiring Good Teachers?

PS 49 in Queens used to be an average school in New York City's decidedly below-average school system. That was before Anthony Lombardi moved into the principal's office. When Lombardi took charge in 1997, 37 percent of fourth graders read at grade level, compared with nearly 90 percent today; there have also been double-digit improvements in math scores. By 2002, PS 49 made the state's list of most improved schools. If you ask Lombardi how it happened, he'll launch into a well-practiced monologue on the many changes that he brought to PS 49 (an arts program, a new curriculum from Columbia's Teachers College). But he keeps coming back to one highly controversial element of the school's turnaround: getting rid of incompetent teachers.

Firing bad teachers may seem like a rather obvious solution, but it requires some gumption to take on a teachers union. And cleaning house isn't necessarily the only answer. There are three basic ways to improve a school's faculty: take greater care in selecting good teachers upfront, throw out the bad ones who are already teaching, and provide training to make current teachers better. In theory, the first two should have more or less the same effect, and it might seem preferable to focus on never hiring unpromising instructors—once entrenched, it's nearly impossible in most places to remove teachers from their union-protected jobs. But that's assuming we're good at predicting who will teach well in the first place.

It turns out we aren't. For instance, in 1997, Los Angeles tripled its hiring of elementary-school teachers following a state-mandated reduction in class size. If L.A. schools had been doing a good job of picking the best teachers among their applicants, then the average quality of new recruits should have gone down when they expanded their ranks—they were hiring from the same pool of applicants, but accepting candidates who would have been rejected in prior years. But as researchers Thomas Kane and Douglas Staiger found, the crop of new teachers didn't perform any worse than the teachers the school had hired in more selective years.

The Carbon Curtain.

To judge by actions, not words, the carbon-warming view hasn't come close to persuading a political majority even in nations considered far more environmentally enlightened than China and India. Europe's coal consumption is rising, not falling, and the Continent won't come close to meeting the Kyoto targets for carbon reduction. Australia is selling coal to all comers.

On the far side of the environmental curtain China already mines and burns more coal than any other country. Together, China and India control more than one-fifth of the planet's vast coal reserves. Dar predicts--very plausibly, in my view--that the two countries may fire up a new coal plant as often as once a week for the next 25 years, adding about twice as much coal-fired generating capacity as the U.S. has today. Persian Gulf states are planning significant coal imports, because coal generates much cheaper electricity than oil or gas.

The Bathroom Mirror Prank.

How a Young Lawyer Saved the Second Amendment.

For decades the Second Amendment might as well have been called the Second-Class Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court spent the late 20th century expansively interpreting the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth amendments, not to mention unenumerated rights ranging from travel to sexual privacy. But not until last month did the court hold that the Second Amendment means what it says: that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

What took so long? I put the question to Alan Gura, the 37-year-old wunderkind lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Read the whole thing.

2 Shot In Bicycle Drive-By Outside South Los Angeles House.

Man, those gas prices are murder.

Oceans Election.

The short version of the Democratic Party primary campaign is that the media fell in love with Barack Obama but the Democratic electorate declined to.

"I felt this thrill going up my leg," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews after one of the senator's speeches. "I mean, I don't have that too often." Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for more than six months, see your doctor.

Out there in the voting booths, however, Democrat legs stayed admirably unthrilled. The more the media told Hillary she was toast, and she should get the hell out of it and let Obama romp to victory, the more Democrats insisted on voting for her. The more the media insisted Barack was inevitable, the less inclined the voters were to get with the program. On the strength of Chris Matthews' vibrating calves, Sen. Obama raised a ton of money – over $300 million – and massively outspent Sen. Clinton, but he didn't really get any bang for his buck. In the end, he crawled over the finish line. The Obama Express came a-hurtlin' down the track at 2 miles an hour.

But what does he care? Sen. Obama has learned an old trick of Bill Clinton's: If you behave like a star, you'll get treated as one.

USCG Eagle: Aboard the Coast Guard's Tall Ship.

Last week there was a parade of tall ships in San Francisco. More than 30 sail-powered vessels participated in the show, but by far the most spectacular of the bunch was the USCG Eagle, a steel-hulled, three-mast ship that's used as a cadet training vessel by the United States Coast Guard.

The Eagle has a fascinating history: Originally built in 1936 by the Nazis, the ship was seized as a war prize by the U.S. military after World War II. Once in American hands, it was turned over to the Coast Guard, and it’s been in use at the Coast Guard Academy ever since.

AP: "US Now Winning Iraq War"

Somebody really ought to tell Obama about this.

What Does Obama Offer America, Minus The Hype?

It is not John McCain who fundamentally fails to understand the Surge or the nature of the enemy we face, but Barack Obama. The Anbar Awakening was, like many gains purchased at such great cost in Iraq, indeed fragile and easily reversible. It took a massive and credible demonstration of America's ongoing commitment to the future of democracy in Iraq to move those early gains from the "clear" column into the "hold" column; to build trust in the hearts of ordinary Iraqis that we would not pull the rug out from underneath them, to convince them to risk retribution from the insurgency and report the militia members in their neighborhoods.

Clearly, Barack Obama still does not understand simple human nature. He does not understand the nature of instilling trust, whether it be among our foreign allies or in the troops he would one day lead should be become Commander in Chief.

Read the whole thing.

Is green U.S. mass transit a big myth?

A full bus or trainload of people is more efficient than private cars, sometimes quite a bit more so. But transit systems never consist of nothing but full vehicles. They run most of their day with light loads. The above calculations came from figures citing the average city bus holding 9 passengers, and the average train (light or heavy) holds 22. If that seems low, remember that every packed train at rush hour tends to mean a near empty train returning down the track.

Transit vehicles also tend to stop and start a lot, which eats a lot of energy, even with regenerative braking. And most transit vehicles are just plain heavy, and not very aerodynamic. Indeed, you'll see tables in the DoE reports that show that over the past 30 years, private cars have gotten 30% more efficient, while buses have gotten 60% less efficient and trains about 25% worse. The market and government regulations have driven efforts to make cars more efficient, while transit vehicles have actually worsened.

In order to get people to ride transit, you must offer frequent service, all day long. They want to know they have the freedom to leave at different times. But that means emptier vehicles outside of rush hour. You've all seen those huge empty vehicles go by, you just haven't thought of how anti-green they were. It would be better if off-hours transit was done by much smaller vehicles, but that implies too much capital cost -- no transit agency will buy enough equipment for peak times and then buy a second set of equipment for light demand periods.

Transit planning is also driven by different economies. Often transit infrastructure (including vehicles) is paid for by state or federal money, while drivers (but also fuel) are paid from local city budgets. This seems to push local city transit agencies to get bigger vehicles and fewer drivers where they can, since drivers tend to be hired full-time and can't be kept idling in low-demand periods.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Indy Jane Has Her Own Blog Again!

For several months it's been my distinct pleasure to share Diminished Expectations with my friend Indy Jane. She brought talents, knowledge and her own keen insights to this blog that improved it immesurably.

She has now decided to go her own way. She'll be missed here but like most folks on the Internet...she's only a click away. Check out her new site, eponymously titled Indy Jane.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yellow Science.

In the late 19th century, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer developed what would come to be known as yellow journalism. By disregarding what had been standard journalistic methods, particularly in regards to the verifying of sources, these two publishers were able both to push their country toward war with Spain and dramatically increase the circulation of their respective newspapers.

Man has always had a healthy desire for knowledge, and it is the feeding of this hunger that ennobles journalism. Hearst and Pulitzer were acutely aware that man has a less healthy but no less voracious desire to believe that he has knowledge, particularly knowledge of something sensational. It is the feeding of this hunger that irreparably disgraced journalism, and a century later now threatens to do the same to science.

The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented.

The Turducken. Top that Europe.

God I love this country.

When it comes to food, America gets a bad rap. It’s a common refrain that America has no cuisine to call our own. We’ve got apple pie and hot dogs, but that’s about it. (And when you really get down to it, the Germans invented hot dogs, and the British were eating apple pie like 1,000 years ago.

But the truth is, America does have a cuisine to call it’s own. Over the past 232 years we’ve invented some of the most creative, daring, and yes, downright craziest dishes the world has ever seen. Sure, they can be overly greasy, a little too cheesy, and sometimes fried a few times too many. But they’re ours. So to celebrate Independence Day, we’ve put together this list of the best foods that only a country with just the right combination of greed, grit, and gluttony could have possibly dreamed up.

The list is here.

Is Section Eight Housing Driving a New Crime Wave?

In a effort to free America's downtrodden from the effects of concentrated poverty, cities gave former residents federal “Section 8” rent-subsidy vouchers and encouraged them to move out to new neighborhoods. In some places the cure may have been worse than the disease.

While fewer Americans live in high-poverty neighborhoods, increasing numbers now live in places with “moderate” poverty rates, meaning rates of 20 to 40 percent. This pattern is not necessarily better, either for poor people trying to break away from bad neighborhoods or for cities, Galster explains. His paper compares two scenarios: a city split into high-poverty and low-poverty areas, and a city dominated by median-poverty ones. The latter arrangement is likely to produce more bad neighborhoods and more total crime, he concludes, based on a computer model of how social dysfunction spreads.

Studies show that recipients of Section8 vouchers have tended to choose moderately poor neighborhoods that were already on the decline, not low-poverty neighborhoods. One recent study publicized by HUD warned that policy makers should lower their expectations, because voucher recipients seemed not to be spreading out, as they had hoped, but clustering together. Galster theorizes that every neighborhood has its tipping point—a threshold well below a 40 percent poverty rate—beyond which crime explodes and other severe social problems set in. Pushing a greater number of neighborhoods past that tipping point is likely to produce more total crime.

Read the whole thing.

How To Give a Cat a Pill.

1) Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2) Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3) Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

4) Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5) Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

6) Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7) Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8) Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9) Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10) Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11) Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss-back another shot. Throw Tee shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12) Ring fire brigade to retrieve the f------ cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.

13) Tie the little bastard's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

14) Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

15) Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

How to Give A Dog A Pill:

1) Wrap it in a piece of cheese.

A Vision in Concrete.

Today, the city is quite correctly regarded as a colossally wrong turn in urban planning—but Brasília, paradoxically, contains some of the most graceful modernist government buildings ever produced. All were designed by Oscar Niemeyer (now 100 years old and still working), who helped select Costa’s master plan and who was the creative influence behind the building and shape of the city. Both facts must be considered in any effort to reckon the legacy of Niemeyer—the last great architect of the modernist ascendancy—and his relationship to modernism, a relationship that both spurred and warped his creative achievement.

Contraception, Abortion, and the Eugenics Movement.

Jonah Goldberg reminds us who Margaret Sanger (founder of what would become Planned Parenthood) really was.

A fair-minded person cannot read Sanger’s books, articles, and pamphlets today without finding similarities not only to Nazi eugenics but to the dark dystopias of the feminist imagination found in such allegories as Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. As editor of The Birth Control Review, Sanger regularly published the sort of hard racists we normally associate with Goebbels or Himmler. Indeed, after she resigned as editor, The Birth Control Review ran articles by people who worked for Goebbels and Himmler. For example, when the Nazi eugenics program was first getting wide attention, The Birth Control Review was quick to cast the Nazis in a positive light, giving over its pages for an article titled “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need,” by Ernst Rüdin, Hitler’s director of sterilization and a founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene. In 1926 Sanger proudly gave a speech to a KKK rally in Silver Lake, New Jersey.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Saturday Night Fever.

Hear it here.

More Prisoners, Less Crime.

If crime revives as an issue, it will be through liberal complaints about something that has reduced the salience of the issue -- the incarceration rate. And any revival will be awkward for Barack Obama. Liberalism likes victimization narratives and the related assumption that individuals are blank slates on which "society" writes. Hence liberals locate the cause of crime in flawed social conditions that liberalism supposedly can fix.

Jason Sails Again.

According to the myth, when Jason is about to bring back the Golden Fleece, he asks for the company of the bravest men to join him in this amazing adventure. He then sends for his messengers to announce it to the world, and this is how the myth of the Argonaut expedition starts.

The boat was constructed with the help of Goddess Athena. The shipbuilder was Argus, and so the ship was named after him, Argus meaning swift. The wood came from the pine trees of Mountain Pelion, and from the talking oak trees of Dodone, and as such the boat was endowed with the gift of speech.

The Municipality of Volos, in conjunction with the local Municipal Tourist Bureau and the research team of ‘Navdomos’, reconstructed the myth and the ambitious project, which took years of painstaking enquiry and relevant studies, will be materialized, with the launching of Argo, on September 17, 2006, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

The building of the ship took place at the shipbuilding yard in Pefkakia, near Volos. The 28.5 meter long and 4 meter wide vessel will have on 50 oarsmen. The 50 rowers will be citizens from all the member-states of the European Union. Next Spring and after tested on water in case any modifications are needed, Argo will travel to the ancient Colchis, present-day Georgia, symbolically looking for the ‘Golden Fleece’ of our times.

Human Slingshot.

1936 Berlin Olympic Village-Today.

I thought I post this in honor of the Beijing Games which will open soon. Today the Berlin Olympic village sits mostly abandoned, a mute testament to the moral confusion that allows international celebrations of goodwill toward man to be held in a police state. May the end of the current government of China come faster and with less bloodshed.

The Antique Cannon Superstore.

All of you out there wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, please take note.

The Other Wilsonianism.

Obama must do what Kerry could not: define what a liberal foreign policy is. His answer cannot be a laundry list; it must be an overarching theory of how America should relate to the world. For close to a century, American liberals have had such a theory, even if at times it has been submerged by events. That theory has not been rendered moot by the passage of decades; to the contrary, it has never been more relevant. It is called collective security.

I'm back!

I'd like to thank everyone for being so supportive while I've been working through a few things. We now resume your regularly scheduled programing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On Hiatus for a while.

It may be a little while before I can post again. I'm going through a few things and it may be a while before I can check in.

All the best,

Mike Stajduhar

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Media Condescends to Terrorists...Shameful

This young enthusiastic terrorist is clearly offended by the insensitivity of the female reporter. Heads are going to roll back at the network.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Merged Books.

"Green Eggs and Hamlet" - Would you kill him in his bed? Thrust a dagger through his head? I would not, could not, kill the King. I could not do that evil thing. I would not wed this girl, you see. Now get her to a nunnery.

"Fahrenheit 451 of the Vanities" - An '80s yuppie is denied books. He does not object, or even notice.

"Rikki-Kon-Tiki-Tavi"- Thor Heyerdahl recounts his attempt to prove Rudyard Kipling's theory that the mongoose first came to India on a raft from Polynesia.

More here.

The Great Train Robbery

No one knows for sure who first came up with the idea of robbing the Glasgow-to-London mail train, but one thing is certain, it led to one of the most audacious crimes in British history.

"The Great Train Robbery" of 1963 was a daring crime that had more in common with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid than a band of small-time London criminals. It was a crime that not only captivated the imagination of the world's media and the public they served, it also succeeded in transforming one of the gang, Ronald Arthur "Ronnie" Biggs, into a folk hero.

Christian the Lion

I think I posted this before...but who cares. It's beautiful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Man found in basement covered in BBQ sauce.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time.

h/t Theo

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Zing! Spoon - A Utensil for Flinging Food.

Every once in a while the perfect product comes along. You can buy them here.

A Man of Seasonal Principles.

You'll notice Barack Obama is now wearing a flag pin. Again. During the primary campaign, he refused to, explaining that he'd worn one after Sept. 11 but then stopped because it "became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism." So why is he back to sporting pseudo-patriotism on his chest? Need you ask? The primaries are over. While seducing the hard-core MoveOn Democrats that delivered him the caucuses -- hence, the Democratic nomination -- Obama not only disdained the pin. He disparaged it. Now that he's running in a general election against John McCain, and in dire need of the gun-and-God-clinging working-class votes he could not win against Hillary Clinton, the pin is back. His country 'tis of thee.

Time to get serious about Oil shale.

The United States and Canada sit on top of the bulk of the world's oil shale. These are solids that can be converted into conventional oil through chemical processes.

To date the Democrats have blocked development of of U.S. oil shale on essentially two grounds:

1) That it's uneconomical. That may have been true when oil traded at $10.00 per barrel but at $140.00 lemme tell ya it makes a lot more sense than hoping pixie dust will make solar workable on a large scale. Estimates vary as to a what price shale becomes economically viable but if one takes into account economies of scale and so forth it's probably doable at roughly half the current market price.

2) That it won't solve the problem. Well I guess that depends on which problem your talking about. If the problem is $4.00 a gallon gas... I guarantee it'll help. If the problem is Arab oil wealth funding'll help even more. If on the other hand the "problem" is fueling modernity by burning carbon, then no it won't help...but neither will doing nothing. Whether you like it or not, for the foreseeable future, civilization will be run on oil. The only question is who we pay for it. Americans (and Canadians) or Middle Eastern Despots who fund terrorism.

Thanks Theo!

Theo Spark whose blog Last of the Few is always worth visiting (though sometimes not entirely safe for work), took pity on my incredibly lame photo editing skills and cleaned up our new banner for me. Thanks Theo, you're a gentleman and a scholar.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

IndyMac seized as financial troubles spread

Indy Jane who at this time is not implicated in one of the largest financial failures in U.S. history.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. banking regulators swooped in to seize mortgage lender IndyMac Bancorp Inc (IMB.N) on Friday after withdrawals by panicked depositors led to the third-largest banking failure in U.S. history.

California-based IndyMac, which specialized in a type of mortgage that often required minimal documents from borrowers, became the fifth U.S. bank to fail this year as a housing bust and credit crunch strain financial institutions.

The federal takeover of IndyMac capped a tumultuous day for U.S. markets that saw stocks slide on a surging oil price and renewed fears about the stability of the top two home financing providers, Fannie Mae (FNM.N) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N).

h/t the wife

Bobby Murcer dies at 62.

He was my favorite cub...I cried when he was traded back to the Yankees ( I was nine). He wasn't a great player, but he was a very good one and always a gentleman. I miss him.

Tony Snow dead at 53.

WASHINGTON - Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush's press secretary, died Saturday of colon cancer. He was 53.

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," President Bush said in a statement from Camp David, where he was spending the weekend. "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Tribute to the USS Enterprise CV-6.

Enterprise entered World War II on the morning of December 7, 1941, when her scout planes encountered the Japanese squadrons attacking Pearl Harbor. Not until May 14, 1945, when a Kamikaze attack off Kyushu, Japan, left a gaping hole in her flight deck, was she forced to leave the war.

Of the more than twenty major actions of the Pacific War, Enterprise engaged in all but two. Her planes and guns downed 911 enemy planes; her bombers sank 71 ships, and damaged or destroyed 192 more. Her presence inspired both pride and fear: pride in her still unmatched combat record, and fear in the knowledge that Enterprise and hard fighting were never far apart.

The most decorated ship of the Second World War, Enterprise changed the very course of a war she seemed to have been expressly created for.

eCalc: The online Scientific Calculator

Ever need a calculator? I mean a real calculator, not that lame little thing that comes installed on your computer. The kind you paid a couple of hundred dollars for when you took that physics class and now you can't find it because it's in a box in the attic somewhere...and the batteries died in 1998 anyway. That kind of calculator. Well there's a free one here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Tragic Case of LtCol Chessani.

Humbled Infidel has a great post on the ridiculous prosecution of LtCol Jeffrey Chessani. Given that the government's case against the Marines who supposedly committed the underlying crimes has completely collapsed, you'd think that the charges against Chessani would be dropped. It's understandable to hold the commanding officer partially responsible when his troops commit bad acts...but you'd think that when it turns out that those troops didn't do the things the pentagon (and the media, and John Murtha) accused them of....that would be the end of it. Well if you thought that you'd be wrong.

This war has been overlawyered from the start. God help us if we ever have to fight one on the scale of World War II again. I think we might just commit national suicide in the name of political correctness.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The shocking truth about John McCain's sunglasses.

What's going on inside those Terminator-style shades? Here are the dirty, top-secret, never-before-seen, really-surprising, other-hyphenated-phrases ...details.

The Good Husband.

This week's sign the apocalypse is upon us.

How To Do The Robot

What fresh hell is this.

Monday, July 07, 2008

City of Hope's Underwear Affair

Some of the runners from last year...your hot Blonde may vary.

One of the virtues of being a blogger is being able to trumpet things in your own life now and then.

I am therefore announcing that I'll be In The City of Hope's Underwear Affair.

It's 10k/5K run/walk August 2, here in Los Angeles. It benefits research for research for cancers like prostate, colorectal, cervical, ovarian, kidney,bladder, testicular and uterine. Broadly speaking the "Lance Armstrong Region".

Oh...and as the name implies...we all our underpants.

So if you feel inclined to contribute to my total public humiliation please go to the following link:

Then search for my last name and contribute as much as you can.

For a small donation I'll email you a photo of me in my "attire".

For a large donation I won't send you one.


Mike Stajduhar

The American Mustache Institute

American Mustache Institute Leadership

An tongue-in-cheek site promoting the glories of the "stache". I've never grown one myself, though my dad always had one. Perhaps I should grow one until the Cubs win the World Series (That's gonna be one long mustache. Gillette might go out of business waiting for you-the wife). Very funny. Moving on, they even have a guide to various styles and a galley of some of the better mustaches in history. Worth a few minutes of your time.

Don't Mess With Librarians.

Kathleen Seidel, a librarian/blogger has a website where among other things she discusses the alleged mercury-created autism epidemic. I haven't read her work but the sense I get is that she's skeptical of a linkage. Well along comes Clifford Shoemaker, Esq. who it seems makes his living suing people for giving children autism (whether that's actually possible is a side issue). Mr. Shoemaker decides that Ms. Seidel is bad for business and hits her with a subpoena which:

commands production of “all documents pertaining to the setup, financing, running, research, maintaining the website” — including but not limited to material mentioning the plaintiffs - and the names of all persons “helping, paying or facilitating in any fashion” my endeavors. The subpoena demands copies of all of my communications concerning any issue which is included on my website, including communications with representatives of the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, advocacy groups, non-governmental organizations, political action groups, profit or non-profit entities, journals, editorial boards, scientific boards, academic boards, medical licensing boards, any “religious groups (Muslim or otherwise), or individuals with religious affiliations,” and any other “concerned individuals.”

It seems Mr. Shoemaker has come to believe that Ms. Seidel is part of some enormous conspiracy with the pharmaceutical industry, not some innocent citizen expressing her First Amendment rights.

Fortunately the judge was not amused.

Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate. If Shoemaker wanted to know if Ms. Seidel was in part supported by or provided information by Bayer, he could have inquired of Bayer or limited the Seidel subpoena to that information. Instead he issued the subpoena calling for production of documents and a deposition on the day before he stipulated to dismiss the underlying suit with prejudice. His failure to withdraw the subpoena when he clearly knew that suit was over is telling about his motives. His efforts to vilify and demean Ms. Seidel are unwarranted and unseemly....

I find that Clifford Shoemaker violated Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1) and Rule 45(c)(1).... The 11(b)(1) violation may also violate Virginia’s Rules of Professional Conduct .... Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent.

Score one for the little guy.

Are the Editors of the New York Times Rubes?

When Barack Obama asks us to believe in one of his changes, it is never quite clear whether the rubes to be fooled are the Great Unwashed who agree with the Flop or the naifs who agreed with the Flip. The eternal question always is, "who are the rubes"?

Well, in what is obviously a gust-busting turn, the editors of the New York Times are beginning to worry that they are the rubes. In this morning's lead editorial ("New and Not Improved"), they detail and denounce many of Obama's post-Hillary pivots to the center. As their irritation builds, I'm thinking that there are only three positions that could explain this editorial. First, that the editors genuinely believe that Obama could win the general election with his primary season policy ideas. It is believable that they think this because they live inside a Manhattan cocoon, but silly. Second, that the editors would rather that Obama lose than compromise his principles. This seems unlikely in the cold light of a November morning, however satisfying it might feel to spew such romantic drivel on the Fourth of July. Or, third, the editors know that Obama's pivots will be much more believable to the swing voters if the Times denounces them. This theory holds that the editors are pretending to be outraged so as to further deceive the rubes who prefer the Flop to the Flip.

It is so hard to know which explanation to believe.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Secrets of Stradivarius Explained.

Scientists may finally have discovered the secret of Stradivarius violins.

In a study published yesterday in Public Library of Science ONE, Dutch researchers ran five of the peerless instruments, made in the early 18th century by Italian craftsman Antonio Stradivari and synonymous with harmonic perfection, through a CT scanner.

The resulting three-dimensional X-rays revealed that wood used in Stradivari's violins possessed an exceptionally uniform density, with little variation in growth rings added by trees each season.

Summertime growth typically outpaces wintertime growth, producing broad rings of relatively permeable wood that alternate with narrow, dense winter bands. That differential affects the wood's harmonic qualities.

Fortunately for Stradivari, he lived during the Little Ice Age: trees grew little more in summer than in winter. Hence the uniformly dense wood, hence three centuries of experts baffled by the resonance of Stradivarius violins, which have been variously attributed to varnishes, boiling and submersion in ponds.

A question, Wired Science readers: uniformly dense wood made Stradivari's violins sound better. Are there musical instruments that would benefit from the highly variable grains likely produced in the wildy oscillating growing seasons of our changing climate?

Congress Opines on Why the World Hates America.

The report, in trying to get to the bottom of anti-Americanism, cites “a growing belief in the Muslim world that the United States is using the ‘war on terror’ as a cover for its attempts to destroy Islam.”

This is where the subcommittee’s report really reads like the Al Qaeda Propaganda Playbook. One look at the U.S. shows a society rooted in religious freedom where Muslims and others can practice their faith, proselytize, and form advocacy organizations. So if an uneducated audience is listening to a firebrand cleric conspiracy theorizing that America wants to eradicate Islam, is their blind acceptance of that claim America’s fault? Are we to blame for their blissful ignorance? The proof is in our guarantee of the right to worship, the lives we’ve sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan (with no Christian conversion program), and the $10 billion the U.S. pledged Thursday to rebuild Afghanistan (more Muslims!).

Friday, July 04, 2008

Random Fact: Mike's Favorite Van Morrison Song.

Update: The Youtube embedded link is bad. The song was Into the Mystic. This link should work.

Fourth of July: California Style

I wanted to post a few images of my neighborhood. Hopefully this gives you a sense of the place. The last one is of Diminished Expectations Command Headquarters. Note the flag has 48 stars. It'll be a cold day in Hell before I recognize Idaho and Tennessee.

Happy Fourth of July!

The Declaration of Independence, read by an all-star cast.

The team here at Diminished Expectations wants to wish each and every one of you the absolute best of the holiday (especially our British friends who are remarkably good natured about Americans annually celebrating the start of a major war against them).

Here in the States, the fourth is a family holiday replete with cookouts, fireworks and a certain amount of drunkenness. This is as it should be.

I would be remiss however if I failed to remind us of the sacrifices that went into making this an independent country. I did some back of the envelope math this morning and if my calculations are correct, the revolution was (by far) the costliest war in American history. While the absolute numbers of deaths were small compared to later conflicts, relative to to population the death toll is staggering. If one includes military deaths from all causes and civilian casualties (but not those of Americans and Indians loyal to the crown) it works out 10.9 million dead with today's population. The Civil War is only 5.9 million and that's if you include Confederates in the U.S. total. Even if you ignore deaths from disease and civilian casualties, the losses endured are equivalent to something like 2.7 million battlefield dead. Astonishing. What's more, if one focuses on the social and economic subgroups which made of the armies of the day, British casualties may have been worse. This was a far bloodier war than I had realized.

If you get a moment, think of those men (and women) who sacrificed themselves on the altar of liberty. This country is their monument.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Nation's Snowmen March Against Global Warming

WASHINGTON, DC—Braving balmy temperatures and sunny skies, millions of scarfless snowmen and snowwomen gathered in cities across the world Tuesday to raise public awareness about the heavy toll global warming is taking on their health and well-being.

According to organizers of marches in Washington, Atlanta, Montreal, Berlin, London, Reykjavik, and Moscow, global warming is the primary cause of the steep reduction in the snowman population throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Demonstrators worldwide called on their governments to take more aggressive steps to reduce the effects of climate change.

Organizers estimated the crowd at more than 375,000, but D.C. Police Commissioner Charles Stacey estimated turnout at 30,000 whole snowmen, with scattered rounded abdomens accounting for an additional 5,000. Atlanta organizers and police agree that all demonstrators had melted by 11 a.m.

Stunned and Annoyed...How about you?

Jazz singer Rene Marie was asked to sing the National Anthem at Denver, Colorado's annual State of the City address. She decides to show her contempt for our country by subverting the lyrics and co-opting a black pride song with the melody of the National Anthem. People actually applaud. I am wondering are they sheep, in shock, weren't listening?

I would like to show my contempt for Rene Marie. If America sucks so bad for you...leave! I am really getting sick of the anti-whitey, anti-America crap!

Am I overreacting here? What do you think about this?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Muslim Terror Strikes Jerusalem... Again...

...but you won't hear it that way from the BBC. It is no surprise that the Muslim chose to do his dirty deed directly across the street from the headquarters of the world's media outlets on Jaffa St. in the heart of Jerusalem. This would insure the most coverage and with the love affair btwn Pallywood and the MSM they feel pretty comfortable about getting just the right headlines. Honest Reporting closely follows these media outlets in an effort to keep the reporting...well...honest.

Even though the BBC correspondent was a direct eye witness he still just couldn't bring himself to bring the unskewed truth to the world. Here is a screen shot from their website right after the attack. "Israel" is the first word coupled with violence...hmm. It was a Muslim Arab Jerusalem resident none of which they are willing to call out.
In this television screenshot they simply refer to the Islamic terrorist as a "driver".
This biased journalism minimizes the daily threat of violence Israeli citizens endure from the 5th column of Muslim Arabs amongst them.

The BBC has an established pattern of always choosing to paint Israel as the aggressor and the palestinian terrorists as these poor innocent victims, a modern day David and Goliath. Who is the true David and Goliath of this saga? Just pan out on your Google Earth to see the vast Arab/Muslim lands surrounding and against the tiny Jewish state of Israel, a state no bigger than New Jersey. But wait Google Earth may not be the place to check this as it has been hijacked by Muslims. Read about how they are literally changing the landscape to reflect their warped views of reality, literally a "replacement geography". Their dreams of wiping Israel off the map are being envisioned on Google Earth. Read about it here and here.

Honest reporting has a one-year analysis of the BBC's anti-Israel coverage of the Arab/Israel Conflict here.

Thank you Honest Reporting for diligently calling out the MSM! As for calling out Islamic Terrorism, we can't expect the MSM or the govt. to honestly report, so I guess it is up to us regular Joe bloggers to call them out.

10 Best Apocalyptic Vehicles.

The Ural Patrol has two-wheel drive, it climbs like a goat and damn near everything on it can be repaired with a hammer, a screwdriver and duct tape. If it was good enough for the Russian armies, it's good enough for post-apocalyptic road warriors.

More here.

Ideological Intolerance in Academia.

The University of Chicago has decided to establish an economics research institute named after the late Milton Friedman. Normally, a university's decision to name an institute after it's most famous and successful professor would be a completely uncontroversial nonstory. However, over 100 University of Chicago professors have signed a letter protesting the decision.

Essentially, they object to naming a research institute after Friedman because he was a libertarian rather than a liberal or leftist - even though Friedman's academic distinction is such that he clearly deserves the honor. It is inconceivable that you could find 100 academics at Chicago or any other major university who would sign a letter opposing the creation of an institute named after a liberal academic whose intellectual achievement's were as great as Friedman's.

Has Europe's terminal crisis begun with a triple no vote?

The ultra-Europeans have overplayed their hand. We can now glimpse a chain of events that will halt, and reverse, this extremist push towards an Über-state that almost no one wants.

The attempt to override the triple "No" votes of the French, Dutch, and Irish peoples has brought the EU to a systemic crisis of legitimacy. A line too many has been crossed. Any sentient citizen can see that the process has become unhinged.

While "Europe" blunders on as if nothing has happened, it is now an open question whether the Lisbon Treaty - née Constitution - will ever come into force, whether the EU will ever acquire the machinery of an economic, diplomatic, and military power, and whether the euro will ever have a polity to back it up.