Friday, November 28, 2008
Blues are about basic stuff like "woke up this morning" or "I got a good woman." But the blues also needs trouble. So if you've got a good woman then you'd better stick something bad in next (eg: "I got a good woman with the meanest dog in town"). Then keep repeating that line until you think of something that rhymes. For example:
I got a good woman with the meanest dog in town.
Yeah, I got a good woman with the meanest dog in town.
He got teeth like an alligator and he weighs 500 pounds.
Read the whole thing.
If over the next 20 years or so global warming turns out to be nonsense, as some of us have been saying all along, this will discomfit the enviro-Left, revealing them to be be fear mongers, totalitarians, and power-mad lunatics, right?
Just like the Left was discredited when we didn’t actually run out of landfill space, we didn’t all starve to death in the 1970s, all the birds didn’t die from DDT, we didn’t all die from Alar, all the fish didn’t die from acid rain, the ecosystem didn’t collapse because of logging rain forests, etc., right?
No, of course not.
The MSM will sweep the whole thing under the rug.
Amid all the political and media hysteria, national output has declined by less than one-half of one percent. In fact, it may not have declined even that much-- or at all-- when the statistics are revised later, as they very often are.
We are not talking about the Great Depression, when output dropped by one-third and unemployment soared to 25 percent.
From the article:
It is not just the U.N. Charter that European nations and institutions brush aside when convenient. The most fundamental human-rights treaty is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. European governments, like the U.S. government, have declined to give effect to provisions of that treaty with which they disagree on matters ranging from immigration to hate speech, emergency powers, criminal procedure and more. European courts, too, have ignored provisions and interpretations of this treaty that deviate from European law.
Europeans have also shown a less than robust commitment to the ICC. Earlier this fall, the world witnessed the strange spectacle of the U.S., long an ICC skeptic, successfully resisting a British- and French-led attempt to corral the U.N. Security Council into delaying ICC indictments of the perpetrators of atrocities in Darfur.
Europe also has violated international trade laws when public sentiment gets riled up -- for example, in resisting importation of genetically modified foods, or beef from cattle raised with growth hormones. European countries defied adverse World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings in both cases.
More than 1.5 million workers in Germany depend on the automobile industry for their jobs. But that industry is now facing one of its worst crises ever. Respected giants BMW and Mercedes are particularly exposed as sales plummet.
It's not just us.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It's exciting that the world is so excited about Barack Obama. I'm excited, too. That he achieved the presidency says something good about America.
But the excitement also frightens me. It reinforces the worst impulse of the media and political class: the assumption that all progress comes from Washington. In a free society, with constitutionally limited government, the president would be a mere executive who sees to it that predictable and understandable laws are enforced. But sadly, the prestige and power of the presidency have grown, and liberty has contracted. That is not something to celebrate.
Read the whole thing.
I try to keep things PG-13 at their raciest here at Diminished Expectations. There are of course exceptions. This is another.
One of my dearest friends...who prefers to remain anonymous..has gone back to school recently to get teaching credentials...presumably as a prelude to corrupting our nations youth and seducing a few cheerleaders. Actually that sounds like a pretty good deal...I think I need to look into this.
Anyway... this friend who shall remain nameless is taking a comparative religion class at the moment and on this particular day they were discussing the Christian tradition of baptism. Some denominations see baptism as unnecessary (the Quakers come to mind). Others require Aspersion the (sprinkling of water on the head) or Affusion (pouring of water over the head). Still others use Submersion or Immersion. Apparently the Eastern Orthodox practice triple immersion (symbolic of death and rebirth into Christ, and as a washing away of sin).
On the day in question the instructor was quizzing the class about the various forms of baptism and finally got round to a lovely female classmate of my friend.
Teacher: "What kind of baptism to the Eastern Orthodox practice?"
Student: "Triple penetration."
After I stopped laughing, I suggested that my friend ask this young lady out. He replied with a certain sadness that she had a fiancee.
"Ah yes" I replied, "but it seems clear that she has unmet needs."
Time and again my evil plans take over the world have been frustrated by a lack of minions, henchmen and miscellaneous hangers on. I blame you my dear readers. I'm very disappointed in you. At this rate I'll never be Emperor.
Time to get with the program. The Drunk Elephant has led the way in signing up as a follower of this blog. Time for you to do the same.
Fueled by easy credit, the real-estate market had been rising swiftly for some years. Members of Congress were determined to assure the continuation of that easy credit. Suddenly, the party came to a devastating halt. Defaults multiplied, banks began to fail. Soon the economic troubles spread beyond real estate. Depression stalked the land.
The year was 1836.
The nexus of excess speculation, political mischief, and financial disaster—the same tangle that led to our present economic crisis—has been long and deep. Its nature has changed over the years as Americans have endeavored, with varying success, to learn from the mistakes of the past. But it has always been there, and the commonalities from era to era are stark and stunning. Given the recurrence of these themes over the course of three centuries, there is every reason to believe that similar calamities will beset the system as long as human nature and human action play a role in the workings of markets.
Read the whole thing.
Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the ‘role model’ diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles’s Antigone in Greek or Thucydides’ dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies—indeed, anything “studies”— were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.
The rest are here.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Rambo of Nerf guns. This mean-looking, belt-feeding, fully-automatic dart gun can fire at a rate of up to three darts per second, pummeling your target (or your target's cubicle) with a barrage of toy ammunition. A removable, foldable tripod and a precision single-shot mode round out the capabilities.
I try to keep things pretty G rated here but every once in a while...I have a little flight of fancy. Anyway here's a link to the 2009 Pretty in Mink calendar.
The calender is a fundraising tool for the Clair Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a worthy cause if there ever was one. So for those of you who desperately want a pin-up of Ann Coulter, here's your chance.
How to turn water into marbles This video shows you how to make a susbance that,in contact with the air, looses your polar hability and sticks to...
Looks cool...I think I'm gonna have to try it.
Is chucking a soda can in the trash an unforgivable sin? That depends who you ask: You'll find plenty of people on both sides of the great recycling debate, each equally convinced the other side is ill-informed. The truth is that opponents and proponents alike often rely on facts that are outdated, oversimplified or simply untrue.
Click this link and find out.
That big players in global energy should be in cahoots with environmentalists and climate change alarmists came as something of a shock to Horner.
‘Though I was a fully grown man, I had yet to understand the concept of “rent seeking” or even these “baptist and bootlegger” coalitions.’ Just as prohibitionists and drink smugglers had a common interest in maintaining a ban on alcohol, so big companies that want massive subsidies for renewable energy schemes and the right to sell emissions permits – the nearest thing yet to selling thin air – can find common ground with those who want us all to reduce our ‘carbon footprints’.
I’ve seen too many peoples dismissed as not ready for self-government. First it was Asians, and then Latin Americans and Africans were there for a while. I know for a while black Americans were, too.
I’ve seen it said, well, you know: They’re illiterate; how could they vote? And then you see in Afghanistan people line up for long, long lines. Because somehow they know that making a choice matters.
Read the whole thing.
I'm against it...emphatically so in fact. We've already gone much to far down the road of bailing out poorly run companies. It's stupid and the one rule of government is you always get more of whatever you subsidize...right now we're subsidizing bad economic behavior.
The awkward fact is that if Congress gives the big three the money they're asking for, it won't change a thing. At current rates they'd run through the bailout money sometime in March and we'll be right back where we started and they'll be looking for more of your cash.
The time has come to face reality: the Big Three simply can't sustain their current business model. There have to be big changes.
Amazingly enough, the problem isn't the cars anymore. The quality is quite good by global standards. The problem is what it costs to make them. The total cost per hour of a GM employee is something like $75.00 per hour (wages+health benifits+pensions). For Honda's made in the United States the figure is more like $35.00. Obviously the difference is enormous. The question is why.
I'll stipulate that Honda is a smarter company: their executive compensation is less generous, they don't waste money on stupid perks, and labor/management relations are better than those at the big three. That's all true...and all that put together adds up 1-2 dollars of the hourly differential I mentioned above. In other words it's chump change. Rail all you want about car executives flying to Washington in private jets only to beg for tax dollars to keep their companies running...that sort of thing is only significant in the symbolic sense.
The truth is it all comes down to pensions.
Honda has been making cars in the U.S. for...twenty years? GM...considerably longer than that. GM is paying benefits to hundreds of thousands of former employees while Honda isn't.
Over the past 30 years the big Three and the UAW have agreed to a series of labor contracts that have created this mess. Both sides knew, or should have known that the numbers didn't add up, but they signed them anyway. Now that reality has smacked them in the face, they'd like you to pick up the tab. Now I like to think of myself as generous person, but after bailing out badly run banks, airlines and apparently now, folks who bought houses they couldn't possibly afford I'm feeling a little less generous than usual.
The hard truth is that we can spend the rest of forever subsidizing bad business decisions or we can let the parties take a hard look at economic reality and come to terms that both sides can live with.
Update: Actually I think I misstated the choice. It's not gutting the pensions vs. keeping them indefinitely via taxpayer subsidy. Rather it's cutting the pensions and saving the companies vs. letting the companies eventually fail after massive subsides and the workers still don't get their pensions. For those who doubt this I recommend looking at the history of government bailouts and nationalizations in the British auto industry.
It seems Mitt Romney agrees.
...I know this isn't entirely a political blog...I try to a a bunch of humor, culture and history here. I guess the election wore me out. I'm not swearing off politics or anything. It's still one of my passions...I just may write a little less about it for a while.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The reason I don't care "California's broke" is I know that means that the government of California is broke, not its citizens. Unlike everybody involved in the dissemination of news, I don't conflate the two.
Read the whole thing.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I'm sure you've heard the term "concrete shoes," mobsters' choice of swimwear for fellas with rodent traits and other individuals that ran afoul of them. Is there any truth to it?
The Straight Dope is Here.
In its heyday, the Florentine banking conglomerate was the largest in Europe. It had branches in Geneva, Avignon, Bruges and London as well as in Rome, Naples, Venice and Milan. Founded in 1397 by Giovanni di Bicci, the bank's fortune reached its peak under the wise management of Cosimo de' Medici, the famous patron of the arts.
The expansion of the banking activities continued at an extraordinary pace until his death in 1464. Gold and cash deposits along with commercial ventures and merchandise exchanges guaranteed a continuous flow for high-interest lending, which was wisely supervised. But the Bank soon began to overstretch itself.
History repeats itself. Read the whole thing.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
If ever there was an election that was not worth winning, it was the contest of 2008. While it was hard-fought on both sides, had John McCain won, it might have spelled the end of the Republican Party. As it is, the party is well-situated to come back in 2010 and in 2012, if it learns the lessons of this year.
Read the whole thing.
The idea that human beings have changed and are changing the basic climate system of the Earth through their industrial activities and burning of fossil fuels—the essence of the Greens’ theory of global warming—has about as much basis in science as Marxism and Freudianism. Global warming, like Marxism, is a political theory of actions, demanding compliance with its rules.
Marxism, Freudianism, global warming. These are proof—of which history offers so many examples—that people can be suckers on a grand scale. To their fanatical followers they are a substitute for religion. Global warming, in particular, is a creed, a faith, a dogma that has little to do with science. If people are in need of religion, why don’t they just turn to the genuine article?
I've noticed an undercurrent of that attitude on the Left since the election. It's as if they've had a terrible realization: "Oh my God! They're going to do to us what we did to them over the last eight years!"
Indeed, we are.
Despite widespread predictions of record turnout in this year’s presidential election, roughly the same portion of eligible voters cast ballots in 2008 as in 2004.
Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004, according to a voting analysis by American University political scientist Curtis Gans, an authority on voter turnout.
He estimated that between 126.5 million and 128.5 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, versus 122.3 million four years ago. Gans said the gross number of ballots cast in 2008 was the highest ever, even though the percentage was not substantially different from 2004, because there were about 6.5 million more people registered to vote this time around.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis.
As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."
Via The Onion.
More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average North American eats more bread than that in one month!
Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
Newborn babies can choke on bread.
Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 240 degrees Celsius! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
Most bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.
In light of these frightening statistics, we propose the following bread restrictions:
No sale of bread to minors
A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools.
Conservatives have been making this argument since...well since the Great Depression. It's always been a source of amazement to me that FDR got any credit at all for his economic management. Well it seems that some folks at UCLA agree.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I think that kinda says it all.
Here's the link.
I have a lot of Muslim friends who I admire and respect but there are times when I think we're talking past one another.
There was this fellow I knew in college who was a good friend. He was from one of the more moderate gulf states. Supported the first Gulf War, dated one of my friends and heck...he and I went to strip joints together. He was a very cool guy and I liked him a lot.
Then one day we were talking about some issue relating to gays and he announced that "all gays must be killed". He wasn't kidding and it wasn't just rhetoric...he was in deadly earnest. That's when I realized that I didn't really know him at all. I didn't have any sense whatsoever what the underlying assumptions of his world were. I'm not saying my friend was evil or even ignorant. He was a good guy but if were serious about having a pluralistic, multi-cultural society we need to a least agree on a few basic assumptions of what a civil society ought to look like.
Amy Alkon has some thoughts here.
To be sure, the American people have handed power over to the Democrats. But today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom. Parties are all about getting people elected to political office; and the practice of politics too often takes the form of professional juvenile delinquency: short-sighted and self-centered.
This was certainly true of the Bush presidency. Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. How else do we explain "compassionate conservatism," No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug benefit and the most dramatic growth in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society?
John McCain has long suffered from philosophical confusions about free markets, and his presidential campaign reflected as much. Most striking was his inability to explain his own health-care proposal, or to defend his tax cuts and tax reform. Ultimately, it took a plumber from Ohio to identify the real nature of Barack Obama's plan to "spread the wealth."
Read the whole thing.
When reading on the internet about Islamic terrorism, commenters often mention that there is also terrorism by Christian fundamentalists in America, where there have been bombings of abortion clinics and shootings of abortion providers.
How prevalent is this form of American domestic terrorism? In recent years there have been round about 15,000 - 20,000 murders in total per year in the US. How many of these were of abortion providers?
Guess now. Scribble your answer down.
If you had asked me a few months ago I would have said three or four murders per year.
Considered over the last fifteen years I was overestimating somewhat. According to the best-known pro-abortion organisation in the US, NARAL Pro-Choice America,
Since 1993, seven clinic workers – including three doctors, two clinic employees, a clinic escort, and a security guard – have been murdered in the United States. Seventeen attempted murders have also occurred since 1991.That figure comes from a document published in December 2007. So far as I know the figures have not changed since then.
It seems likely that post election analysis will show a strong increase in black turnout in support of Senator (now President-elect) Barack Obama. One of the paradoxes of modern American politics is that while blacks are the most loyal constituencies that the Democratic party has, they are also the socially conservative. While white Democrats tend to favor gay marriage, blacks are adamantly opposed...essentially for biblical reasons.
Politics makes strange bedfellows.
A similar take here.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
...and that's ok. I wish him all the best and hope his Presidency is a great success. I still have grave doubts about him, and suspect he and I will disagree more than we agree. Nevertheless...he's going to be the President of all Americans and we have difficult times ahead. President Obama will face unique challenges and for all our sake's I hope he is up to them.
Despite all the Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers stuff, I believe that Barack Obama is a good and decent man. We should keep that in mind going forward. When policy differences arise, attack the idea not the man. The country suffered greatly from the nasty partisanship that Democrats exhibited in opposition. We should avoid the temptation to emulate it.
We should also be grateful for another good and decent man...John McCain. He wasn't my first choice...actually he wasn't even third...but in a difficult year for Republicans, with the economy teetering on the abyss, with an unpopular war, and just general Bush fatigue, John McCain carried the banner of our party forward and acquitted himself honorably. He fought against a dismissive press, an opponent who massively outspent him, and the reservations that some of us on the right had about him. He did well and he deserves our gratitude.
Once again the republic has gone through it's miraculous ritual, where people with very real, deeply held differences come together and make choices about all our futures...peacefully.
May God bless the United States of America.