Monday, September 22, 2008

Ballroom Blitz.

How to Build Your Own Bat Cave.

From rotating bookshelves installed in an hour to more elaborate escape slides, homeowners are taking advantage of high-tech opportunities to hide doors leading to private spaces.

Who Gets To Decide What's "Fair"?

Question for the ages: if Supreme Court justices throw out what the Constitution has to say when formulating rulings and substitute their individual sense of "fairness", then aren't they substituting their individual policy preferences for those of our duly elected leaders in the state and federal legislatures?

Isn't this anti-democratic? Since Supreme Court decisions can't be overruled by a higher court and become, in fact, nearly irreversible precedent for future decisions, aren't justices who rule in this fashion in effect amending the Constitution by judicial fiat? Aren't they doing an end run around the procedures outlined for ratifying amendments by the States? What if, in the case of the recent decision on child rape, it turns out the majority made factual errors?

Jamie Gorelick: Mistress of Disaster.

It's not often that one person plays key roles in two -- count 'em, two -- trillion-dollar disasters. Welcome, my friends, to the world of well-connected Democrat Jamie Gorelick.
Read the whole thing.

Anti-Theft Lunch Bag.

Stealing your co-worker's lunch is a downright contemptible act, that is, if it's perpetrated by someone other than you. But, if you've ever had your lunch stolen, you know the the frustration and anger it causes. You know the revenge and ill-will it inspires. And you know that no matter how well you try to hide your lunch bag at the back of the refrigerator, something's gonna be missing when you open it. Well, lament no more. The Anti-Theft Lunch Bag to the rescue . . .

Anti-Theft Lunch Bags are regular sandwich bags that have green splotches printed on both sides. After your sandwich is placed inside, no one will want to touch it.

Walking Away From Islam.

Hamas has an image problem, and it's getting worse. It's gotten so bad that the 30 year old son (Mosab Yousef) of one of the Hamas founders (Hassan Yousef) has not only renounced Hamas, but has become a Christian. Mosab is fed up with the terrorism/"destroy Israel" approach the Arab world has embraced over the last sixty years. Mosad notes, as have many other Arabs, that this has not worked.

The conversion angle is something Moslems are trying to keep quiet. Mosab Yousef's father pleaded with his son to keep quiet about the conversion (which took place 18 months ago). The elder Yousef knows that this is not an isolated incident. Many young Moslems are abandoning Islam. Most do so quietly.

In Iran, the clerics that run the country are shocked at secret police reports about a growing number of young Iranians who have, in effect, abandoned Islam. This sort of thing is happening all over the Moslem world, but especially in Arab countries. The people who switch to Islamic radicalism get all the headlines, not the larger numbers who just walk away from Islam are largely ignored. In the Palestinian territories, there is also a growth in the number of Sunni Moslems who are switching to the Shia version (as championed by Iran). But many other Moslems are openly distancing themselves from the conservative forms of Islam (like the well funded Saudi Wahhabism). One reason this trend is kept quiet is because Islamic militants are inclined to kill such traitors, if the switch is done too openly. Thus the elder Yousef's plea that his son keep quiet, lest he attract the murderous attention of Islamic radicals out to impose the death sentence on apostates.

Giants of Aviation.

Talking about big planes is very much like talking about who should get the credit for man’s first flight –- it all depends on who you talk to. As the brilliant James Burke has pointed out, inventors rarely create something from nothing –- their successes are often the result of combining the partial successes, or learning from the downright failures, of other inventors. In some cases, it's just pure dumb luck.

State of the Unions.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- You just knew that when Joe O'Connell, former head of the local AFL-CIO, got on stage here with John McCain and Sarah Palin things were not going smoothly for the Obama campaign among union voters.

"I am a lifelong Democrat, an intelligent Democrat, who is supporting John McCain," O'Connell said last week as a crowd of 7,000 waved "Another Democrat for John McCain" signs and roared its approval.

Some Thoughts on the Media.

Today the profession of news journalism has lost its way. Opinion has leaked beyond the editorial pages to the rest of the newspaper. “Newsmen” publish unconfirmed rumors that support their stances and ignore inconvenient facts that don’t. Outside the office, they openly display their political preferences; there’s no attempt to maintain even the appearance of objectivity.

The incredible shrinking Obama.

His story (and he is so impressively self-aware as to have made the most acute comment on it) is temptingly open-ended, very much a page to be written on. He himself has written, most memorably: "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."

Obama's Social Security Whopper.

He tells Social Security recipients their money would now be in the stock market under McCain's plan.


How to Make a Lego Cake.

I may not be able to tell you who will win the presidential election, but I know with 100-percent certainty that my future holds a homemade Lego cake. Lucky for me, Betty Crocker has already published instructions. How to get those trademark Lego studs? Marshmallows, of course!

Thanks, Betty!

Figure in Rosenberg Case Admits to Soviet Spying.

In 1951, Morton Sobell was tried and convicted with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on espionage charges. He served more than 18 years in Alcatraz and other federal prisons, traveled to Cuba and Vietnam after his release in 1969 and became an advocate for progressive causes.

Through it all, he maintained his innocence.

But on Thursday, Mr. Sobell, 91, dramatically reversed himself, shedding new light on a case that still fans smoldering political passions. In an interview, he admitted for the first time that he had been a Soviet spy.

And he implicated his fellow defendant Julius Rosenberg, in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.

Quite an admission from the Times.

Émilie du Châtelet: More Than Just a Pretty Face.

In 1737, Châtelet published a paper entitled Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu, based upon her research into the science of fire, that predicted what is today known as infra-red radiation and the nature of light. Her book Institutions de Physique (“Lessons in Physics”) appeared in 1740; it was presented as a review of new ideas in science and philosophy to be studied by her thirteen-year-old son, but it incorporated and sought to reconcile complex ideas from the leading thinkers of the time. In it she combined the theories of Gottfried Leibniz and the practical observations of Willem 's Gravesande to show that the energy of a moving object is proportional not to its velocity, as had previously been believed by Newton, Voltaire and others, but to the square of its velocity (E ∝ v²). The formula was later shown to be Ek = (1/2) mv², where Ek is the kinetic energy of an object, m its mass and v its velocity.

In the year of her death, she completed the work regarded as her outstanding achievement: her translation into French, with her own commentary, of Newton’s Principia Mathematica, including her derivation from its principles of mechanics the notion of conservation of energy.

How to Make Your Own Solar Pannels.

What with gas prices being what they are, I thought this might come in handy.

Ike Uncovers Mystery Ship on Ala. Coast.

When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery -- a ragged shipwreck that archaeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from some 70 years later. The wreck, about six miles from Fort Morgan, had already been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969.

Is the Media Powerless to Elect Obama?

In the voting booth on November 4, it’s likely that most members of the media will pull the lever for Barack Obama. Whether or not they put aside their professional standards and actively try to get him elected is another matter. But because conspiracy theories are fun (see’s Trig Palin parentage timeline ), let’s assume for a moment that they do. Is there any way they could effectively accomplish it? Let’s review what they’ve tried so far:

1. Fawning coverage of Obama (the candidate with a halo-like glow around him on the covers of Newsweek, Time, and Rolling Stone; Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews gushing so embarrassingly that they had to be removed from MSNBC’s anchor desk).

2. Digging dirt on Obama’s opponents (The Times’s innuendo-laced piece about McCain’s ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman; the poorly fact-checked stories about Palin’s supposed book-banning and secessionist proclivities).

3. Tough but fair investigations into McCain and Palin’s various lies, bad decisions, and questionable policies.

Those are pretty much the only weapons in the media’s arsenal, and so far none of them have really worked.

Cash-poor Obama says no to Reid.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a personal appeal to Barack Obama: Help me grow the Democrats’ Senate majority by sharing some of the $77 million you’ve got in the bank.

Obama’s campaign said no.

This is interesting. Obama has already reneged on a pledge to pay off Hillary's campaign debt. Despite breathless press reports about Obama's record fundraising, there is a tendency to ignore Obama's record campaign spending. Clearly the Obama folks have begun to realize that they might run out of ready cash at a key moment in the campaign. Mind you, I'm not being critical of Obama. Personally, I'd tell Clinton and Reid to pound sand. Still, it's a reminder that the mountains of cash that Barack supposedly has on hand is largely already spoken for.

Wonder Where They Got That Idea?

So if Americans think that Obama is somehow different from the average American, perhaps it is because Obama and his presumably well-meaning Leftist friends have been telling them that for nigh-on two years. You can hardly blame them if they’ve come to believe it.

Thoughts on Congressional Irrelevance.

One interesting aspect of the recent government bailouts has been the complete irrelevance of Congress. The operation and decision-making seems to be run almost entirely by the Secretary of Treasury and Federal Reserve. Congress appears to lack the ability, the will, and the decisiveness to play any role except spectator, as a handful of senior executive branch officials have nationalized major portions of Wall Street.

What is further interesting is that Congress is not missed in the slightest. No one is clamoring for a greater role for our elected representatives in dealing with these problems. I haven't heard anyone saying, "We really need to get Congress more involved in this. They'll know what to do."

Is This The Beginning of Global Cooling?

Many scary stories have been written about the dangers of catastrophic global warming, allegedly due to increased atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion of fossil fuels. But is the world really catastrophically warming? NO. And is the warming primarily caused by humans? NO.