Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It seems The Onion has been bought by the Chinese...

Police Still Searching For Missing Productive, Obedient Woman

...some say it's effected their content but it seems the same to me.

More here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

So the wife and I were talking...

..about our daughters and the need to eventually educate them in some fashion. The wife was adamant that the local public schools were simply unacceptable. Now I'm thinking to myself, "we live in a relatively pleasant suburb of Los Angeles, not some inner city ghetto. I mean really, how bad could the local schools be?".

Then I saw this:
I'm guessing they don't have a lot of National Merit Scholars.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Old Negro Space Program.

The Obsolete New York Model: Where a tax-eating majority votes itself a permanent income.

Washington on New York Taxes: "Screw it, let's all move to Jersey!"

It’s worth recalling that when the Founding Fathers led the American colonists in revolt against British oppression, they weren’t rebelling against torture on the rack or being chained in galleys or having to let aristocrats deflower their daughters.

They were rebelling against taxes. To them, having to pay duties they hadn’t voted for themselves was a tyrannical taking of property—theft—and, in true Lockean fashion, they concluded that since government exists to protect life, liberty, and property, a regime that does the opposite renders itself illegitimate.

What would they make, then, of today’s New York City, where 1.2 percent of the taxpayers—40,000 households—pay 50 percent of the income taxes, and half the households pay no income tax at all?

More Here.

Islamic Civilization in Peril.

The people of the world — and Muslims in particular — were confronted with a host of questions and assertions about the proper place of Islam in society. Must Muslims strive for the establishment of an Islamic state? Is the Shariah compatible with modernity, democracy, and human rights? I daresay that every Muslim has been exercised in one form or another by the ascendance of political Islam — whether recoiling in alarm, perplexed and anxious, or enthusiastically embracing a more assertive role for religion in politics.

For a long time, the two worlds of Islam, the outer world of political and social action and the inner world of spiritual and moral realization, seemed entirely at odds with each other. One was angry at Islam's subordination, insistent on recognition and power, on challenging the status quo; the other was serene, introspective, and immersed in the intangible. The canvas of the first was societies and nations; of the second, the self and the individual.

More here.

Why is There Peace?

Over the past century, violent images from World War II concentration camps, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Iraq, and many other times and places have been seared into our collective consciousness. These images have led to a common belief that technology, centralized nation-states, and modern values have brought about unprecedented violence.

Our seemingly troubled times are routinely contrasted with idyllic images of hunter-gatherer societies, which allegedly lived in a state of harmony with nature and each other. The doctrine of the noble savage—the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like, for example, Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, who argued that "war is not an instinct but an invention."

But now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler. In fact, our ancestors were far more violent than we are today. Indeed, violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species' time on earth.

More here.

The disturbing intellectual record of Obama's science czar.

Holdren spent the '70s boogying down to the vibes of an imaginary population catastrophe and global cooling. He also participated in the famous wager between scientist Paul Ehrlich, the now-discredited Population Bomb theorist (and co-author of Ecoscience), and economist Julian Simon, who believed human ingenuity would overcome demand.

Holdren was asked by Ehrlich to pick five natural resources that would experience shortages because of human consumption. He lost the bet on all counts, as the composite price index for the commodities he picked, including copper and chromium, fell by more than 40 percent.

Then again, it's one thing to be a bumbling soothsayer but quite another to underestimate the resourcefulness of mankind enough to ponder how "population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution," as Holdren did in Ecoscience in 1977.

More here.

Are California's IOU's Constitutional?

You'd think so. States issue debt all the time. But I came across this rather interesting article yesterday and I thought I'd share.

Basically the author is concerned about Article I Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution which states:

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

He equates "emitting bills of credit" with the California IOU's. I'm skeptical given that IOU's have been used at least twice before in California's history. I suspect the key is that acceptance of the California IOU's has always been voluntary. Indeed, I'm of the opinion that as long as creditors are willing to go along, the state can pay with anything it wants.

Think about it for a second. If I owe you $5000.00 and in lieu cash I offer you my car as payment, you can if like, accept payment in that for and the debit is satisfied.

It seems clear to me that what Article I Section 10 is trying to prevent is forcing creditors to accept non-monetary compensation for legitimate debts-something that you do see in a lot of economically dysfunctional countries.

Actually as long as we're here, the very next clause is rather interesting too:

make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts,

Does this mean I can demand that my state tax refund be paid to me in gold? I mean this isn't some kind of phony baloney "constitutional right like abortion or gay marriage that supporters insist is implied...despite the fact that there's no evidence for any such thing. This is an actual express provision of the U.S. constitution. It says it right there in black and white. It hasn't been repealed ergo it's valid law.

Well maybe, but my guess is that somewhere along the way there was a court case where it was found that what the founders meant was "the state has to pay you with real money" and the closest thing we have to real money these days is that green stuff the fed keeps churning out to pay Obama's bills.

This is just the sort of thing that makes Ron Paul supporters crazy...ok more crazy. Anyway it's an interesting little constitutional quirk.

Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) Project

So my friend Dan Gaines™ sends me this link. It seems that these guys are making these killer robots...kinda cool. We've already been doing that sort of thing in Iraq and Afghanistan and as I understand it they've been pretty successful. So I'm checking out the link and this caught my eye:

The system obtains its energy by foraging – engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.

In other words we're building killer robots that will then eat your corpse for energy-so it can go on killing. What could possibly go wrong?

If he was desperate to find a Latina, he should have found a wise one.

Judge Robert Bork was obviously not everyone’s ideal judge, but the man’s intellectual prowess was undeniable and he refused to lie about his views. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was frankly charming and sharp-witted in her testimony and could march the senators through the evolution of a number of strains of jurisprudence.

Whether you agreed with their philosophy or not, you had the sense with the Clinton, Reagan, and George W. Bush nominees (yes, I leave Souter off the list) that there was good reason to put them on the Court. You listened for a day or even and hour and said, “Yes, that’s a Supreme Court Justice.” It was hard to dispute, even if you disagreed with one or another on his or her judicial methodology, that the nominee was bringing some intellectual heft.

Does anyone really have that sense from Sotomayor?

More here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

O Fortuna.

Most Amazing Treasures Nobody Ever Found.

The Amber Room

Described as the eighth wonder of the world by those who saw it, the Amber Room is certainly the most unique missing treasure in history.

It was an 11-foot-square hall consisting of large wall panels inlaid with several tons of superbly designed amber, large gold-leaf-edged mirrors, and four magnificent Florentine mosaics. Arranged in three tiers, the amber was inlaid with precious jewels, and glass display cases housed one of the most valuable collections of Prussian and Russian artwork ever assembled.

Created for Prussia’s King Friedrich I and given to Russian czar Peter the Great in 1716, it was located at Catherine Palace, near St. Petersburg. Today, the Amber Room would be valued at more than $142 million.

When Adolf Hitler turned his Nazi war machine toward Russia, the keepers of the Amber Room got nervous.

They tried to move it, but the amber began to crumble, so they tried to cover it with wallpaper. They were unsuccessful and when the Nazis stormed Leningrad (formerly called St. Petersburg) in October 1941, they claimed it and put it on display in Königsberg Castle during the remaining war years.

However, when Königsberg surrendered in April 1945, the fabled treasure was nowhere to be found. The Amber Room was never seen again. Did the Soviets unwittingly destroy their own treasure with bombs?

Was it hidden in a now lost subterranean bunker outside the city? Or was it destroyed when Königsberg Castle burned shortly after the city surrendered?

We’ll probably never know for sure. But fortunately for lovers of opulence, the Amber Room has been painstakingly recreated and is on display in Catherine Palace.

California Screaming: The Golden State's political class comes unglued in the face of a citizens' revolt.

On May 19, California voters went to the polls to decide whether to pass a package of six tax-and-gimmick ballot propositions. Its supporters—Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic legislative leaders, the California Teachers Association, and the overwhelming majority of the state’s major newspapers—billed it as the last best hope to plug Sacramento’s $24 billion budget deficit. “Either pass it,” warned the Los Angeles Times editorial board, “or risk fiscal disaster.”

Those who believe that either money or the media determine political outcomes should pay close heed to what happened next: Although opponents were outspent by more than 7 to 1, they trounced the state’s political class, rejecting five of the six measures by an average of 30 percentage points. The only proposition to pass was an anger-driven new law that limits elected officials’ salaries.

Faced with such thorough repudiation, California’s best and brightest then did a telling thing. They lashed right back.


Not Every Child Is Secretly a Genius.

Multiple intelligences provides a kind of cover to preserve that fable. "OK, little Jimmie may not be a rocket scientist, but he can dance real well. Shouldn't that count equally in school and life?" No. The great dancers of the Pleistocene foxtrotted their way into the stomach of a saber-tooth tiger.

That is the root of the matter. Too many people have chosen to believe in what they wish to be true rather than in what is true. In the main, the motive is a pure one: to see every child as having equal potential, or at the very least some potential. Intelligence is a fundamentally meritocratic construct. There are winners and there are losers.

The article is here.

What’s Wrong with a little Wealth Redistribution anyway?

A lot actually.

Government is an engine of wealth redistribution, and when it gains control of businesses, it redistributes wealth in a way that benefits its supporters. That is what government always does, no matter how it disguises it.

That is why despite all the leftist wishful thinking in the world, centrally planned economies are corrupt, inept and inefficient.

More Here.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Tons of Stuff Here.

California’s Nightmare Will Kill Obamanomics.

The federal picture is so bleak because the Obama administration is the most fiscally irresponsible in the history of the U.S. I would imagine that he would be the intergalactic champion as well, if we could gather the data on deficits on other worlds. Obama has taken George W. Bush’s inattention to deficits and elevated it to an art form.

The Obama administration has no shame, and is willing to abandon reason altogether to achieve its short-term political goals. Ronald Reagan ran up big deficits in part because he believed that his tax cuts would produce economic growth, and ultimately pay for themselves. He may well have been excessively optimistic about the merits of tax cuts, but at least he had a story.

Obama has no story. Nobody believes that his unprecedented expansion of the welfare state will lead to enough economic growth. Nobody believes that it will pay for itself. Everyone understands that higher spending today begets higher spending tomorrow. That means that his economic strategy simply

More Here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

100 Horror Movie Posters....Some Classics, Some...Umm...Not.

Tragically, I've seen most of these.

More Here.

Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship.

All books have mistakes, so why pick on the feminists? My complaint with feminist research is not so much that the authors make mistakes; it is that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism.

They do not get corrected.

The authors are passionately committed to the proposition that American women are oppressed and under siege. The scholars seize and hold on for dear life to any piece of data that appears to corroborate their dire worldview. At the same time, any critic who attempts to correct the false assumptions is dismissed as a backlasher and an anti-feminist crank.

More Here.

Bad News for the Chosen One.

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on eight out of 10 key electoral issues, including, for the second straight month, the top issue of the economy. They've also narrowed the gap on the remaining two issues, the traditionally Democratic strong suits of health care and education.

More here.

Polish Woman Sues Egyptian Hotel Claiming 13-Year-Old Daughter Got Pregnant From Swimming Pool.

Magdalena Kwiatkowska's 13-year-old returned to Poland from their holiday expecting a baby.

Magdalena believes the teenager conceived from stray sperm after taking a dip in the hotel's mixed pool. She is now seeking compensation from the hotel.

A travel industry source said: "The mother is adamant that her daughter didn't meet any boys while she was there.

"She is determined to go ahead with the case."

Take that as a warning kids...watch out for unsavory types in public swimming pools...if you're not careful they'll knock you up.

More Here.

Anderson Cooper, meet whipped cream.

Amazing...he's clearly never done this before. I weep for his childhood.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009