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.